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Original Hebrew of a Portion of Ecclesiasticus, by A.E. Cowley and A. Neubauer, [1897], at

p. xix



Sir. 3, 21.


Seadyah in ‏ס״ הגלוי‎ (ed. Harkavy), p. 178, 1. 18, quotes as an extract from the Wisdom of Eleazar ben Irai (see Preface, p. xi) the following: (This seems to be the original text of Ben Sira.)

Inquire not into that which is too difficult for thee;
and that which is concealed from thee search not out.
Attend to that which is permitted to thee:
thou hast no business with hidden things.


J. T. Ḥaghigah, ii. (fol. 77c).

That which is too difficult for thee, why shouldest thou know?
that which is deeper than Sheol, why shouldest thou search out?
Attend to that which is permitted to thee:
thou hast no business with hidden things.


B. T. Ḥaghigah, fol. 130.

Inquire not into that which is too great for thee;
and that which is too hard for thee, search not out.
That which is too difficult for thee do not know;
and that which is concealed from thee do not ask.
Attend to that which is permitted to thee;
thou hast no business with hidden things.


Sir. 4, 30. B. T. Gittin, fol. 6b.

Let a man never bring excessive terror into his house.


Sir. 5, 4. B. T. Haghigah, fol. 160.

If the evil propensity say to thee, Sin, for the Holy One (blessed be he!) excuseth, do not believe.

p. xx


Sir. 5, 5.
Seadyah, p. 176, 1. 19.

And be not confident of pardon,
to add iniquity to iniquity,
or say, His mercies are great,
he will pardon the multitude of my iniquities;
for mercy and wrath are with him,
and his might resteth upon the wicked.


Sir. 5, 7. B. T. Shabbath, fol. 183a.

Repent one day before thy death.


Sir. 5, 15.

Great and small do not injure.

Aboth, iv. 6.

Despise not any man.


Sir. 6, 6. Seadyah, op. cit., p. 178, l. 1; also B. T. Yebamoth, fol. 63b, and Synhedrin, fol. 100b, where the words of Micha 7, 5, follow.

Let those that are at peace with thee be many,
but reveal thy secret to one of a thousand
[keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom].


Sir. 6, 7.
Seadyah, p. 178, 1. 3.

If thou gettest a friend, get him by proving,
and be not hasty to trust in him;
for there is a friend according to the occasion;
and he will not abide in the day of adversity.


Sir. 6, 13.
Seadyah, p. 178, 1. 8.

Separate thyself from them that hate thee,
and be careful of thy friends.


Sir. 7, 1. Cf. 12, 2.
Bereshith R., p. 44a; Midrash Qoheleth v; Midrash Tanhuma ‏חקת‎ § 1.

Ben Sira said the proverb: Do not good to the evil, and evil will not befall thee.

See Schechter, J. Q. R. iii. p. 694, No. 17 and note.


Sir. 7, 10.
B. T. Erubin, fol. 65a.

Text has ‏יורה‎ 'to teach.' Rashi (Solomon of Troyes) says: I have searched to find this verse in the Hagiographa, but did not succeed. Perhaps it is in Sirach.

Rab said: Let not a man pray whose mind is not at rest within him, because it is said: In adversity who shall give thanks?

Perhaps a reminiscence of Ps. 6, 6.


Sir. 7, 17.
Aboth, iv. 7. Cf. No. LVI below.

Be humble exceedingly in spirit;
for the hope of man is a worm, and the son of man is a maggot (cf. Job 25, 6).

p. xxi


Sir. 8, 5.
Mishnah Baba Metsia, iv. 10.

If a man repents, one does not say to him,
Remember thy former doings.


Sir. 8, 8.
B. T. Sukkah, fol. 21b, and Abodah Zarah, fol. 19b.

Rab said: Even the ordinary conversation of the wise requires learning.


Sir. 8, 18.
B. T. Pesahim, fol. 49b.

Six things are said of the people of the land (the unlearned) . . .; and they reveal not to him a secret.


Sir. 9, 8.
B. T. Synhedrin, fol. 100b; Yebamoth, fol. 63b.
So Rashi (ap. Schechter, ibid., p. 100, note 36), ed.

Hide thine eyes from a comely woman,
lest thou be caught in her snares;
turn not aside to her, to mingle wine and strong drink with her:
for through the beauty of a fair woman many have been destroyed,
and 'all her slain are a mighty host' (Prov. 7, 26).


Sir. 11, 1.
So in J. T. Berakhoth, vii. 2, and in Midrashim: the B. T. Berakhoth, fol. 48a, quotes Proverbs 4, 8, entire, omitting the last three words of the saying. See Reifmann's essay on Ben Sira in rpm iii. p. 248, 3.

In the book of Ben Sira it is written:
Exalt her and she shall lift thee up (Prov. 4, 8), and set thee among princes.


Sir. 11, 8.
Aboth, v. 10.

Seven things are in a clod, and seven in a wise man. (The wise man) . . . does not interrupt the words of his companion; and is not hasty to reply . . .

Cf. Prov. 18, 13. Monatsschrift, 1865, p. 186, note 8.


Sir. II, 9.
Midrash Tanḥuma (p. 73a) ‏וארא‎, ‏ה‎.

For he was busied with matters whereof he had no need.


Sir. 11, 28.
Seadyah, p. 178, 1. 6.

Call no one happy before (his) death,
for by his end shall a man be known.

p. xxii


Sir. II, 29.
B. T. Synhedrin, fol. 100b; Yebamoth, fol. 63b.

Keep away many from the midst of thy house,
and bring not every man into thy house.


Sir. 13, 2.
Aboth, ii. 3.

Be cautious with (those in) authority,
for they let not a man approach them but for their own purposes;
and they appear like friends when it is to their advantage,
and stand not by a man in the hour of his need.

Monatsschrift, 1865, p. 186, note 8.


Sir. 13, 11b.
Seadyah, p. 578, 1. 15.

For with much talk will he try thee,
and will laugh at thee, and search thee out.

Cf. No. XXXIV below.


Sir. 13, 16.
B. T. Baba Qama, fol. 92b.

Thirdly, in the Hagiographa; as it is written:
Every bird dwelleth according to his kind,
and (so doth) man according to his like.


Sir. 13, 25.
Ber. Rabba, fol. 64b.

The heart of a man changeth his countenance, whether for good or for evil.


Sir. 14, 5.
J. T. end of Peah.

Every one who needs to receive (alms) and refuses to take them, is (like) a shedder of blood, and it is forbidden to have compassion on him. If he has no pity on himself, how much less will he have pity on others?


Sir. 14 11.
B. T. Erubin, fol. 54

Rab said to his son Hamnuna:

My son, if thou hast aught, do good unto thyself,
for there is no pleasure in Sheol, and death tarries not.
And if thou sayest, It is for my sons and for my daughters,
who shall declare to thee the law in Sheol?
The sons of men are like the herbs of the field,
some flourish, and others fade.

p. xxiii


Sir. 16, 17.
Seadyah, p. 178, l. 12.

Say not, I am hidden from God,
and in the height who shall remember me?
Among a numerous people I shall not be known,
or what is my soul among the multitude of spirits?


Cf. Sir. 18, 16, &c.
B. T. Baba Bathra, fol. 95.

He who gives a farthing to a poor man is blessed with six blessings, &c.:
but he who comforts him with words is blessed with eleven blessings.


Sir. 18, 23.
Midrash Tanhuma § 8.

Ben Sira said:
Before thou vowest, make ready thy vows:
be not like a deceiver.


Sir. 20, 9.
Mishnah Berakhoth, ix. 3.

A man gives thanks for evil which results in good,
and for good which results in evil.


Sir. 20, 15.
J. T. Berakhoth, iv. 2.

Deliver not our livelihood into the hands of men (lit. flesh and blood),
for their giving is small, and their reproaching great.


Sir. 21, 11.
B. T. Qiddushin, fol. 30b.

I created the evil propensity:
I created against it the Law as a safeguard (lit. a seasoning).
If ye are occupied in the Law,
ye shall not be delivered into its hand.


Sir. 21, 20.
Cf. also 19, 30.
B. T. Erubin, fol. 63b.

By three things a man is known, by his purse, by the wine-cup, and by his vexation. They say to him: By his laughter also.

Compare Aboth N., p. 86a:

By three things do men test a man,
by trading (lit. giving and taking), and by much wine, and by much talking.


Cf. Sir. 21, 22. Also verse 23.
B. T. Niddah, 16b.

Three things I hate, and four I do not love: (1) a prince who frequents the house of banqueting; (2) ....; (3) ....; (4) the man that enters suddenly the house of his neighbour.

p. xxiv


Sir. 21, 22.
‏פרקא דרבינו הקרוש‎ ed. Schönblum; see Schechter, J. Q. R. iii. p. 695, No. 21.

Let a man never hasten into the house of his neighbour; for thus it is written in the book of Ben Sira:

The foot of a senseless man hastens to (another's) house,
but a prudent man will subdue many.

Let a man never look in at the door of his neighbour; for thus (it is written) in the book of Ben Sira:

A foolish man gazes from the door into (another's) house,
but a man's honour is in the house of his own kinsmen.


Sir. 25, 2.
B. T. Pesahim, fol. 113b.

There are four things that the mind cannot bear.
They are these:

A poor man that is proud, a rich man that is a liar,
an old man that is an adulterer,
and a ruler that exalts himself above the multitude.

The last clause is not in Sirach.


Sir. 25, 3.
Aboth N., ch. 24 (p. 73).

Thus says the proverb:
If in thy youth thou hast had no delight in them,
how wilt thou attain them in thy old age?


Sir. 25, 13.
B. T. Shabbath, fol. 11a.

Rab said; Any sickness, but not sickness of the bowels;
any pain, but not the pain of the heart;
any ache, but not the aching of the head;
any evil, but not an evil woman.


Sir. 26, 1.
B. T. Yebamoth, fol. 63b.

Happy is the husband of a beautiful woman:
the number of his days is doubled.


Sir. 26, 3. B. T.
Synhedrin, fol. 100b; cf. Yebamoth, fol. 63b.

It is written in the book of Ben Sira:
A good wife is a good gift;
she shall be given into the bosom of him that feareth God.
An evil wife is a plague (lit. a leprosy) to her husband.
What is the remedy? Let him drive her from his house (i. e. divorce her),
and he shall be healed from the plague of her (lit. from her leprosy).

The second part not in Sirach.

p. xxv


Sir. 28, 12.
M. Rabbah, Leviticus, fol. 153; and anonymously in Yalkut, Levit., § 460; Psalm, § 767; Job, § 501.

Bar Sira says:

There was a live coal before a man: he blew upon it and it flamed;
he spit upon it and it was extinguished.


Sir. 30, 23.
B. T. Yebamoth, fol. 63b.

Be not troubled for the trouble of the morrow,
for 'thou knowest not what a day may bring forth' (Prov. 27, 1).
Perhaps on the morrow he will be no more,
and be found grieving over a world that is not his.


Sir. 30 (33), 33.
B. T. Baba Metsia, fol. 65a.

For it is better for him that his servant should not become an idler.

So Rashi; cf. Kohut, Aruch s. v. ‏סהר‎ (ii).


Sir. 31 (34), 26.
Midrash Tanhuma (p. 26b) ‏נח‎, ‏ד‎.

Rabbi Johanan said: Any one who steals the worth of a farthing from his neighbour is as though he took away his life.


Sir. 31 (34), 27.
B. T. Baba Metsia, fol. 112b.

Every one who suppresses the hire of an hireling is as though he took from him his life.


Sir. 32 (35), 21.
Zohar, Levit. ‏צו‎ (3, p. 62).

That word mounts up, and cleaves the firmaments.


Sir. 34 (31), 28.
Cf. the Syriac (31, 28).
B. T. Yoma, fol. 76b.

If he acts rightly, (i. e. drinks in moderation, Rashi,) it (wine) gladdens him; if he does not act rightly, (i. e. drinks to excess,) it ruins him.


Sir. 34 (31), 28. 29.
Zohar, Levit. ‏שמיני‎, (3, p. 77).

But the beginning of wine is gladness, and the end thereof sorrow.


Sir. 35 (32), 4.
B. T. Taanith, fol. 5b.

Men should not talk much at a meal.

p. xxvi


Sir. 36 (33), 7.
B. T. Synhedrin, fol. 65b; Midrash Tanḥuma, Exodus ‏תרומה‎, ‏ג‎ (p. 109b).

Turnus Rufus asked this question of R. Akiba, and said to him,
Why is one day different from another?
He said to him, And why is one man different from another?
He said to him, Because the Lord wills;
and the Sabbath also is because the Lord wills.


Cf. Sir. 36, 26.
B. T. Kethuboth, fol. 75a.

It is better to dwell two together, than to dwell a widow.


Sir. 36, 30b.
B. T. Shabbath, fol. 152a.

The joy of the heart is a wife.

B. T. Yebamoth, fol. 62b.

Every man who has no wife, dwells without joy.


Sir. 38, 1.
Midrash Rabba, Exodus, c. xxi.

(The proverb says); Honour thy physician before thou hast need of him.

The proverb also occurs in an Aramaic form: J. T. Taanith, iii. 6.

In Midrash Tanhuma, Gen. ‏מקץ‎, § 10 (p. 51b), it is introduced with the words: ‏אֹרֹ לעזר כתוב בספר בן סירא‎. See Schechter, J. Q. R. iii. p. 694, No. 16, and note 79.


Sir. 38, 4.
Midr. Rabba, Genesis, viii; Midr. Yalkut, Job, § 501.

God causes spices to spring up out of the earth:
With them the physician heals the stroke,
and of them the perfumer compounds the perfume.


Sir. 38, 24.
Aboth N., cap. 33, p. 73b (cf. also Aboth, iv. 14).

Have little business, but be busied in the Law, and eager for the commandments;
and behave thyself in humbleness of spirit with every man.


Sir. 39, 25.
Sepher Yetsira, p. 102, note 1.

Good is kept for the good,
and evil is kept for the evil.

p. xxvii


Sir. 40, 19.
B. T. Berakhoth, fol. 57b.

Three things enlarge the understanding of a man. They are these:
a comely dwelling, a comely wife, and comely furniture.


Sir. 40, 25.
B. T. Pesahim, fol. 119a.

'And every (living) substance that followed them' (Dent. 11, 6, lit. that was at their feet). R. Eleazar says: This means the wealth of a man, which makes him stand firm upon his feet.


Sir. 40, 29.
B. T. Betsah, fol. 32b.

There are three men whose life is no life. They are these:
The man who watches the table of his neighbour,
the man whose wife rules over him,
and the man whose body is ruled by pains.


Sir. 42, 9.
B. T. Synhedrin, fol. 100b.

A daughter is a vain treasure to her father:
for fear about her, he does not sleep;
in her youth, lest she be seduced;
in her maidenhood, lest she play the harlot;
when she is marriageable, lest she be not married;
when she is married, lest she have no sons;
when she is old, lest she practise sorcery.


Sir. 9, 12 (Syriac).
Aboth, i. 5; Geiger in ZDMG. xii. p. 537.

And prolong not converse with a woman.

The following proverbs, ascribed to Ben Sira, are not found in the Greek or Syriac versions.


End of Derekh Erets Zuta (anonymous); Tanya, No. 10 (with the introductory words ‏בן סירא אומר‎). See Schechter, J. Q. R. iii. p. 695, No. 19.

The glory of God is the sons of men;
the glory of the sons of men is their clothing.


B. T. Baba Bathra, fol. 98b; Yalqut Proverbs, § 956.

As it is written in the book of Ben Sira:
I have weighed all things in the balance,
and have found nothing lighter than bran;
but lighter than bran is the bridegroom who dwells in the house of his father-in-law,
and lighter than the bridegroom is a guest (lit. traveller) who introduces another guest,
and lighter than the guest is 'he that giveth answer before he heareth' (Prov. 18, 13).


Baraitha Kallah, ed. Coronel, 7b. See Schechter, J. Q. R. iii. p. 697, No. 23.

It is written in the book of Ben Sira:
Remember the day of thy being gathered (in death);
withdraw (lit. gather in) reproach and acquire virtue (lit. merits);
for in the day of a man's being gathered, p. xxviii
neither riches nor great strength accompany him;
for his work is prepared, it will go before him,
and his righteousness shall lighten his eyes.


B. T. Synhedrin, fol. 100b.
See marginal note to Sir. 40, 22, in the Hebrew text.

All the days of the poor are evil. Ben Sira says, the nights also. His roof is the lowest of roofs, and his vineyard is in the height of the mountains; the rain of other roofs falls on his roof, and the earth of his vineyard falls on other vineyards.


B. T. Synhedrin, 100b.

As it is written: The thin-bearded is cunning and the thick-bearded is a fool.

This proverb is also found in the second Alphabet (see below, p. xxix).


It is explained in the book of Ben Sira, that the Holy One (blessed be he!) is called 'place 1,' because he is the place of (i.e. contains) the world, and the world is not his place.

See Schechter (J. Q. R. iii. p. 697, No. 24, and p. 706, note 109), who points out that the passage is probably taken from Bereshith Rabba (ii), not from Ben Sira See No. I. d.


Baraitha Kallah, ed. Coronel, 7b.

It is written in the book of Ben Sira; Love peace, for on it the world is stayed. Love all people, &c.

The rest of the passage is very corrupt, and cannot be translated without resorting to violent emendations. See Schechter, ibid., p. 696, and p. 705 for Reifmann's reconstruction.

The next two passages have been quoted as belonging to Ben Sira, but on insufficient grounds.


B. T. Sota, 13b; Bereshith R., § 19, beginning.

According to the camel, so is the burden.


J. T. Berakhoth, end.

In the scroll of the Ḥasidim it was found written:

For one day thou didst desert me,
and for two days will I desert thee.


xxviii:1 A common Rabbinical designation of God. Cf. τόπος in Philo (e. g. de Somniis, i. § 11, ed. Mangey, i. 630).

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