Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Sirach. This prayer may be in imitation of the book of Wisdom. (Haydock) — Grotius assigns it to the grandson, without reason; as the author continues to speak of his travels, &c. He seems to have lived under Onias III and under Seleucus and Antiochus Epiphanes, of Syria, to whom he was probably accused, and hence took occasion to retire into Egypt, where Ptolemy Epiphanes was king. (Calmet) — Others think (Haydock) that he was accused before Ptolemy Lagus, when he took Jerusalem. (Menochius) — We know too little of his life to decide any thing. (Calmet) See chap. l. 1. (Haydock) — Saviour. When we are not able to make a return, we must shew greater marks of gratitude, and particularly to God, for the favours which we have not deserved. (Worthington)
Ver. 3. By. To accuse me, Zacharias iii. 1. (Calmet)
Ver. 5. Gates. Greek, “many.” (Haydock) — He exaggerates the danger to which he was exposed, as he was not miraculously delivered from the flames, &c., (Calmet) though this might be the case. At least he thanks God for preserving him (Haydock) from the various torments which were then in use.
Ver. 6. In. Greek, “from the midst of a fire which I did not enkindle,” or deserve by any crime.
Ver. 7. Hell. The grave. I was preserved like Jonas. (Calmet) — Unjust. Greek, “the accusation was made to the king, by an unjust tongue. My soul approached unto death, and my life,” &c. (Haydock)
Ver. 11. World. Shewn to Noe[Noah], Joseph, &c. (Calmet) — Nations. Greek, “enemies,” ver. 12.
Ver. 13. Thou. Greek, “I raised my supplicating voice from the earth, and I,” &c. (Haydock)
Ver. 14. The Father. Grotius asserts boldly, that it should be, “my Father,” and that some Christian has changed this. But his authority may be rejected, when he brings no proof; and Bossuet has solidly refuted him. The passage clearly proves the belief of the second person, and seems to allude to Psalm cix. 1. (Drusius; Vatable, &c.) (Calmet)
Ver. 18. When. He now gives some account of himself, and exhorts all to seek for wisdom. (Haydock) — He was advanced in years, when he fell into the aforesaid danger, after his travels, chap. xxxiv. 9. (Calmet) — Wisdom is most easily acquired, while a person is innocent, Ecclesiastes xii. (Worthington)
Ver. 19. After her. Being convinced that prayer is requisite for the preservation and improvement of such a treasure. See 3 Kings iii. 8. (Calmet) — And. Greek, “from the flower as of a ripening grape. My heart,” &c.
Ver. 22. Wisdom. Greek, “instruction for myself.” (Haydock)
Ver. 25. Wrestled. Against pleasure, idleness, &c. This shews how arduous a task it is to attain wisdom. (Calmet) — Confirmed. Greek, “in earnest.”
Ver. 27. Knowledge. Greek (Alexandrian), “time of harvest.” Grabe substitutes, “in purification,” (Haydock) or the practice of virtue, Wisdom i. 4.
Ver. 28. Heart. Or understanding, as the Hebrew place this in the heart, 3 Kings iii. 9.
Ver. 29. Her. I did it, with all solicitude, Canticle of Canticles v. 4., and Jeremias iv. 19. (Calmet)
Ver. 30. Tongue. Eloquence, (Menochius) which I will exert in praising him.
Ver. 31. Gather. Greek, “dwell in the,” &c. (Haydock) — He addresses those who are walking in the broad road.
Ver. 33. Silver. Only good-will is necessary, which all may have, Isaias lv. 1., Romans x. 6., and Wisdom vi. 13.
Ver. 36. Gold. The wise man has more opportunities of enriching himself than others; but he despises unnecessary wealth. (Calmet) — We must labour for wisdom more than for riches, and we shall be rewarded hereafter. (Worthington)
Ver. 38. The time. It is never too soon to be wise. In doing good let us not fail, (Galatians vi. 9.) in order to obtain that food, which remains for ever, Isaias vi. 7. Fear God, and keep his commandments, for this is all man, Ecclesiastes xii. 13. (Calmet) — This is the sum of the sapiential works, and of all the Scriptures: To depart from evil is understanding, Job xxviii. 28. (Haydock)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
A prayer of praise and thanksgiving.
1 A prayer of Jesus, the son of Sirach. I will give glory to thee, O Lord, O King, and I will praise thee, O God, my Saviour.
2 I will give glory to thy name: for thou hast been a helper and protector to me.
3 And hast preserved my body from destruction, from the snare of an unjust tongue, and from the lips of them that forge lies, and in the sight of them that stood by, thou hast been my helper.
4 And thou hast delivered me according to the multitude of the mercy of thy name, from them that did roar, prepared to devour.
5 Out of the hands of them that sought my life, and from the gates of afflictions, which compassed me about:
6 From the oppression of the flame which surrounded me, and in the midst of the fire I was not burnt.
7 From the depth of the belly of hell, and from an unclean tongue, and from lying words, from an unjust king, and from a slanderous tongue:
8 My soul shall praise the Lord even to death:
9 And my life was drawing near to hell beneath.
10 They compassed me on every side, and there was no one that would help me. I looked for the succour of men, and there was none.
11 I remembered thy mercy, O Lord, and thy works, which are from the beginning of the world.
12 How thou deliverest them that wait for thee, O Lord, and savest them out of the hands of the nations.
13 Thou hast exalted my dwelling-place upon the earth, and I have prayed for death to pass away.
14 I called upon the Lord, the Father of my Lord, that he would not leave me in the day of my trouble, and in the time of the proud, without help.
15 I will praise thy name continually, and will praise it with thanksgiving, and my prayer was heard.
16 And thou hast saved me from destruction, and hast delivered me from the evil time.
17 Therefore, I will give thanks, and praise thee, and bless the name of the Lord.
18 When I was yet young, before I wandered about, I sought for wisdom openly in my prayer.
19 I prayed for her before the temple, and unto the very end I will seek after her, and she flourished as a grape soon ripe.
20 My heart delighted in her, my foot walked in the right way, from my youth up I sought after her.
21 I bowed down my ear a little, and received her.
22 I found much wisdom in myself, and I profited much therein.
23 To him that giveth me wisdom, will I give glory.
24 For I have determined to follow her: I have had a zeal for good, and shall not be confounded.
25 My soul hath wrestled for her, and in doing it I have been confirmed.
26 I stretched forth my hands on high, and I bewailed my ignorance of her.
27 I directed my soul to her, and in knowledge I found her.
28 I possessed my heart with her from the beginning: therefore I shall not be forsaken.
29 My entrails were troubled in seeking her: therefore shall I possess a good possession.
30 The Lord hath given me a tongue for my reward: and with it I will praise him.
31 Draw near to me, ye unlearned, and gather yourselves together into the house of discipline.
32 Why are ye slow? and what do you say of these things? your souls are exceedingly thirsty.
33 I have opened my mouth, and have spoken: buy her for yourselves without silver,
34 And submit your neck to the yoke, and let your soul receive discipline: for she is near at hand to be found.
35 Behold with your eyes how I have laboured a little, and have found much rest to myself.
36 Receive ye discipline as a great sum of money, and possess abundance of gold by her.
37 Let your soul rejoice in his mercy, and you shall not be confounded in his praise.
38 Work your work before the time, and he will give you your reward in his time.