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Where Am I?
Following the book of Wisdom is the book of Sirach, and then we move into the prophets, with the book of Isaiah. In the Catholic Bible, there are a couple more book sin the OT that is mixed in with the prophets, the book of Baruch, and also a couple of chapters in the book of Daniel, which will be reviewed in a future post.
The book of Sirach feels like a conversation between someone sitting down with their mentor for some thoughtful wisdom on how to live. It reminds me of an etiquette manual in part, breaking down different life situations by category and detailing the writer’s advice for those circumstances. It’s potentially the closest book (so far) in my readings that reminds me of a NT letter from Paul, as Paul was fond of giving the early church instructions on how to live, just as a father to his beloved children.
My copy includes a foreward (not divinely inspired) which explaims that the author of the book is Jesus, son of Eleazar, the son of Sirach. I suppose that it’s far more alliterative and less confusing not having two Jesuses in the Bible (is that even a plural? Can you pluralize Jesus?!) Moving quickly on, to summarize, it’s fifty-one chapters of maxims, some reminiscent of the book of Ecclesiasties, some of Proverbs, and a few that may just surprise you.
There were so many passages I underlined in this book — so full of treasures — it’s hard to know what to focus on. To mention a handful of sections, here are some questions by subject that I’ve created (and related verses) from the book of Sirach that may be of interest*:
- What makes a real friend? (6:5-17; 11:29-34)
- Does the Bible say anything about helping the deceased? (7:33)
- How can I avoid being proud, but still have a healthy self-esteem? (10:27-28)
- Does God design us to make our own choices? (14:11-20)
- Why does my mom cry over the greeting card and not the gift? (18:15-16)
Another section, that may not be relevant to all, but I found interesting, was the cautioning of the writer of Sirach against poor men associating with wealthy men (chapter 13), which further broadens into a general discussion on wealth (chapter 14). In my personal experience, this is generally true.
In conclusion, the book of Sirach is full of treasures as I’ve begun to discover and I look forward to rereading it in future years as the Holy Spirit reveals different things to us each time, and in each season, as we make the time to read God’s Word. That’s why it behooves you to read the Bible often. I hope that you’ll enjoy exploring Sirach just as much as I did. Have any favorite passages? Leave a comment below to share.
*The Bible version I am studying is the New American Bible, Fireside Personal Study Edition, (2006-2007 edition) by Fireside Catholic Publishing. Some of my paraphrases are based on the NIV and NASB versions which I grew up with. Links provided to Bible chapters are from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website, which has an online edition of the New American Bible, Revised Edition (NABRE).