The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Book of Ecclesiasticus
A great priest was Simon, son of Onias;✻ in his day the house of God was repaired, to make the temple strong was his life’s task.
The high part of the temple, where the building was of double thickness, and the towering walls about it, he underpinned;
in his day, too, the cisterns received their full flow of water, rose beyond all measuring, sea-deep.
So well he cared for his fellow-citizens; no enemy should be able to compass our ruin;
nor lacked he means to enlarge the city’s span. See in what state he comes out to meet the people; entrance of temple and of temple-court lifted high above him!
Bright he shone as the day-star amid the clouds, as the full moon in her season;
nor sun ever shed on our own temple such generous rays as he.
What shall be compared with him? Rainbow that lights up the clouds with sudden glory, rose in spring-time, lilies by the water-side, scent of olibanum on the summer air?
Fire that glows brightly, and glow of incense on the fire?
Ornament of pure gold, set with whatever stones are rarest;
olive-tree that burgeons, tall cypress pointing to the sky? Such was he when he put on his robe of office, clad himself with the full majesty of his array;
sacred the garments in which he went up to the sacred altar, yet were they ennobled by the man that wore them.
There he stood, by the altar, with the priests handing him their portions, every one, for sacrifice; and all these standing about him were but Lebanon cedars standing about Lebanon,
were but as palm branches growing from their parent stem, all these sons of Aaron in the splendour of their attire.
Theirs to hold out, before assembled Israel, the offerings made to the Lord; and he, completing his task at the altar, for the due observance of the great King’s sacrifice,
would reach out his hand for the cup, and with the grape’s blood offer libation.
And as he poured out at the altar’s foot its consecrated fragrance,
loud shouted the sons of Aaron, loud the silver trumpets blew; great was the cry raised to win God’s audience.
And with that, down fell all the people, face to earth, worshipping the Lord their God and pouring out their prayers to him, the Almighty, to him, the most High.
The singers, too, broke out into chants of praise; sweetly their voices echoed through the wide courts;
nor would the people leave off their praying to the Lord, the most High, till the divine praise was completed, and all their duty done.
And then Simon would come down, his hand outstretched over the assembly of Israel, a blessing on his lips, and his heart proud to serve such a Master;
and so fell to prayer again, for the better manifesting of God’s power.
Bless we now his name who is God over all;✻ wide as earth is his wondrous power, the God that has granted us life since first we were borne in the womb, and most mercifully used us.
Gladness of heart may he give us, and send Israel in our time peace that shall last for ever;
and still may it be Israel’s faith that God’s mercy is with us, ready, when his time comes, to grant us deliverance.
Two nations with all my heart I loathe; and a third I can name, that nation indeed is none;
the hill-tribes of Edom, and the Philistines, and the miscreant folk that dwell at Sichem.
The lessons of discernment and of true knowledge in this book contained were written down by Jesus, the son of Sirach, of Jerusalem; his heart ever a fountain of true wisdom.
Blessed is he who lingers in these pleasant haunts, and treasures the memory of them; wisdom he shall never lack;
and if by these precepts he live, nothing shall avail to daunt him; God’s beacon-light shews the track he shall tread.
The Holy Bible