Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Simon I was “styled the just, on account of his piety towards God, and his good-will to his countrymen.” (Josephus, [Jewish Antiquities] xii. 2.) Many apply what follows to him. (Eusebius; Salien; Menochius, &c.) — But Simon II is more probably meant, who opposed the entrance of Philopator into the sanctuary, after he had offered sacrifice for him, in the pompous manner here described. (Bossuet) (iii. Machabees) (Calmet) — Temple. Which began to want repairs. (Menochius) — Simon II reigned twenty years. (Calmet) (Josephus, [Jewish Antiquities?] xii. 4.) (Haydock) — The first lived in the time of Ptolemy I of Egypt, when this book was written; and dies before it was translated, under Ptolemy III, about three hundred years before Christ. (Worthington)
Ver. 2. Walls. Greek analemma, “the repairs (or elevated building, Mello. 2 Paralipomenon xxii. 5.) round the temple,” including the court of the Gentiles, which had not been finished, Ezechiel xl. 5. It was necessary to build at the edge of the mountain, (Calmet) and the wall was three hundred cubits from the bottom. This was more than double the height of the temple, as it was only one hundred and twenty cubits high. (Menochius)
Ver. 3. Out. Of the reservoirs. But he repaired them. (Haydock)
Ver. 4. Destruction. When it was in the most imminent danger from Philopater. (3 Machabees) (Bossuet) (Calmet)
Ver. 5. Enlarge. Greek, “fortify.” — Conversation. Greek, “when in the midst of the people, coming out of the house of the veil. (6.) He,” &c. (Haydock) — Leaving the most holy place, he was surrounded by crowds of sacred ministers, (ver. 14.) or rather on the day of expiation, he came into the court of the people, to purify them. (Calmet)
Ver. 6. Cloud. He was a far superior to the other priests in majestic appearance and attire, as Lucifer is to other stars, &c., ver. 11. (Calmet)
Ver. 7. So did. Greek, “on the temple of the Most High,” with dazzling effulgence. (Josephus, Jewish Wars vi. 6.)
Ver. 11. Forth. Greek adds, “fruits.” — Rearing. Greek, “elevated to the clouds.” (Haydock) — Robe. Stole, or violet tunic. (Calmet) — Power. That is, with all his vestments, denoting his dignity and authority, (Challoner) and extremely rich, as virtus often implies, chap. xliv. 3. (Calmet) — Greek has, “boasting.”
Ver. 12. Vesture. Greek, “enclosure of holiness,” peribolen. (Haydock) — His splendid attire of gold and jewels, cast a dazzling light all around. (Calmet) — He was pleased to offer the peace-offering for the king of Egypt, (Bossuet) to honour him, though another priest might have done it. (Haydock)
Ver. 14. Palm. A forest of young ones shoots up from its roots; (Job xxix. 18.) so the high priest shone among the other children of Aaron. (Calmet)
Ver. 15. King. Greek, “Almighty” King, pantokratopros. (Haydock) — He presented an unblemished victim, with all due solemnity, Leviticus iii. 1.
Ver. 16. Grape. Pouring wine upon the fire, Exodus xxix. 40. (Calmet)
Ver. 17. Prince. Greek, “universal king.” (Haydock) — The whole sacrifice was pleasing to him.
Ver. 18. God. Greek, “the Highest.” He had required these sacrifices, as memorials of his covenant, and sovereign dominion, Leviticus xxiii. 34.
Ver. 20. House. Greek (Complutensian) and Grabe, “sound, sweet melody was made.”
Ver. 21. Office, leitourgian autou, “his service.” (Haydock) — The people prayed for king Ptolemy, to whom they were subject; though the high priest possessed almost sovereign power. The Egyptian monarch was present, (Calmet) and at the end of the sacrifice expressed his resolution to go into the inmost recesses of the temple, from which the people endeavoured to dissuade him. Finding their efforts to be in vain, “they all (addressing themselves to God) said with one accord.” (3 Machabees) Grabe substitutes, “wherefore the high priest, Simon, kneeling down before the temple, and stretching forth his hand with solemnity, made this prayer.”
Ver. 23. Prayer. Greek, “adoration, that they might receive a blessing from the Most High.” (Haydock) — Power. In keeping Philopator out of the temple. God granted his request, (Calmet. litaneios) “and scourged him who was so insolent and bold…throwing him like a reed, unable to move, and speechless on the pavement,” 2 Machabees ii. 26. After Philopator’s guards had removed him, the high priest congratulated the people, (ver. 26.) expressing his abhorrence of their enemies in general, though he only mentions three neighbouring nations which had shewn a particular enmity to the Jews, when a contrary behaviour might have been expected, ver. 28. (Haydock)
Ver. 24. Now. At the sight of these wonders, the author exhorts the people to be grateful, and full of hope. (Calmet)
Ver. 26. His, Simon’s, (Menochius) or God’s days. When he may judge it convenient. (Haydock)
Ver. 27. Abhorreth. Viz., with a holy indignation as enemies of God and persecutors of his people. Such were then the Edomites, who abode in Mount Seir, the Philistines, and the Samaritans, who dwelt in Sichem, and had their schismatical temple in that neighbourhood. (Challoner) — This was the source of continual dissensions. (Josephus, [Jewish Antiquities?] xi. 8., and xii. 2.) (John iv. 20.) — The Jews and Samaritans are still at variance. The former, in the days of Esdras, pronounced a curse against the latter, forbidding any of them to become converts to their religion, (Grotius) which, if true, shews a very blameable malice. See Deuteronomy xxvii. 4. (Haydock) — Which, &c., is omitted in Greek. These three nations had evinced the greatest hatred towards the Jews, and thus deserved to be accounted objects of horror, though if the author harboured any ill-will, his conduct is not praised, (Calmet) but only recorded. (Haydock) — The Samaritans consisted of Assyrians, Jews, &c., and therefore are styled no nation; and they were foolish in mixing idolatry with the true worship. (Worthington)
Ver. 28. Seir. Genesis xiv. 6. All the Greek copies read corruptly “of Samaria.” — Foolish. Thus Christ said, you adore what you know not, John iv. 22. (Calmet) See 4 Kings xvii. 29. (Worthington)
Ver. 29. Jesus. He declares his name, and concludes with wishing peace to the observers of these maxims. Grotius thinks that this was inserted by the grandson, (Calmet) who translated the work into Greek. (Haydock) — But there is no reason for this supposition. Solomon puts his name at the beginning and at the end of Ecclesiastes, and he frequently commends his own instructions, as this author does, chap. xxxiii. 17,. and xxxix. 16., and li. 19. (Calmet)
Ver. 31. Steps. He…shall have the light of life, John viii. 12. (Menochius) — Some Greek copies add, “and to the pious he has given wisdom. Blessed be the Lord for ever. So be it. So be it.” (Haydock)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
The praises of Simon, the high priest. The conclusion.
1 Simon, *the high priest, the son of Onias, who in his life propped up the house, and in his days fortified the temple.
2 By him also the height of the temple was founded, the double building, and the high walls of the temple.
3 In his days the wells of water flowed out, and they were filled as the sea above measure.
4 He took care of his nation, and delivered it from destruction.
5 He prevailed to enlarge the city, and obtained glory in his conversation with the people: and enlarged the entrance of the house, and the court.
6 He shone in his days as the morning star in the midst of a cloud, and as the moon at the full.
7 And as the sun when it shineth, so did he shine in the temple of God.
8 And as the rainbow giving light in the bright clouds, and as the flower of roses in the days of the spring, and as the lilies that are on the brink of the water, and as the sweet smelling frankincense in the time of summer.
9 As a bright fire, and frankincense burning in the fire.
10 As a massy vessel of gold, adorned with every precious stone.
11 As an olive-tree budding forth, and a cypress-tree rearing itself on high, when he put on the robe of glory, and was clothed with the perfection of power.
12 When he went up to the holy altar, he honoured the vesture of holiness.
13 And when he took the portions out of the hands of the priests, he himself stood by the altar. And about him was the ring of his brethren: and as the cedar planted in Mount Libanus,
14 And as branches of palm-trees, they stood round about him, and all the sons of Aaron, in their glory.
15 And the oblation of the Lord was in their hands, before all the congregation of Israel: and finishing his service, on the altar, to honour the offering of the Most High King,
16 He stretched forth his hand to make a libation, and offered of the blood of the grape.
17 He poured out at the foot of the altar a divine odour to the Most High Prince.
18 Then the sons of Aaron shouted, they sounded with beaten trumpets, and made a great noise, to be heard for a remembrance before God.
19 Then all the people together made haste, and fell down to the earth upon their faces, to adore the Lord, their God, and to pray to the Almighty God, the Most High.
20 And the singers lifted up their voices, and in the great house the sound of sweet melody was increased.
21 And the people in prayer besought the Lord, the Most High, until the worship of the Lord was perfected, and they had finished their office.
22 Then coming down, he lifted up his hands over all the congregation of the children of Israel, to give glory to God with his lips, and to glory in his name:
23 And he repeated his prayer, willing to shew the power of God.
24 And now pray ye to the God of all, who hath done great things in all the earth, who hath increased our days from our mother’s womb, and hath done with us according to his mercy:
25 May he grant us joyfulness of heart, and that there be peace in our days in Israel for ever:
26 That Israel may believe that the mercy of God is with us, to deliver us in his days.
27 There are two nations which my soul abhorreth: and the third is no nation, which I hate:
28 They that sit on Mount Seir, and the Philistines, and the foolish people that dwell in Sichem.
29 Jesus, the son of Sirach, of Jerusalem, hath written in this book the doctrine of wisdom and instruction, who renewed wisdom from his heart.
30 Blessed is he that is conversant in these good things: and he that layeth them up in his heart shall be wise always.
31 For if he do them, he shall be strong to do all things: because the light of God guideth his steps.
1: 1 Machabees xii. 6.; 2 Machabees iii. 4.