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(ECCLESIASTICUS) WISDOM OF SIRACH CHAPTER 49 - 51

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(ECCLESIASTICUS) WISDOM OF SIRACH CHAPTER 49 - 51

Post  Jude on Sat 18 May 2013, 03:08

SIRACH 49


1 The memory of Josiah’s like
A blending of incense to strike
By art of the perfumer’s hand,
It is sweet as honey and grand
To every mouth, and like a song
At a banquet to do no wrong.
2 He was led right in what he did
To change the people from their bid
Of idols and iniquity.
3 He set his heart upon YHWH’s fee,
In the days of wicked men he
Strengthened godliness faithfully.
4 Except David and Hezekiah
They all were sinners but Josiah,
For they forsook the Most High’s law,
Came to an end, kings of Judah,
5 For they gave their power to strange kings,
Their glory into foreign wings,
6 Who set fire to the chosen town
Of the temple set in renown,
And made her streets a desolation,
By Jeremiah’s word and station.
7 For they’d afflicted him, yet he
Had been ordained in the womb free
As prophet, to bring out, strike down
And destroy everything in town,
As well as build and plant a crown.

Ben Sirach limits the good kings to three,
While the book of Kings in loving mercy
Finds twelve in number, perhaps just to see
The right amount as all things here should be.
I doubt not all kings are a fatal stab
At Your law and for the folk a mere scab.
The miracle is that three can be found
Who were good men as well as kings as sound.
Beloved, three is a number to raise doubt
Even if twelve seems many at the spout.
Those who find You are three instead of one
Are to be doubted, yea, even to shun.
I trust Your word alone, and still I take
Three men and twelve together for Your sake.

8 Ezekiel saw the splendid vision
Which Ælohim showed in precision
To him above the chariot stayed
With cherubim all in parade.
9 For Ælohim remembered all
His enemies with storm and call,
And did good to those who directed
Their ways aright and not confected.
10 May the bones of twelve prophets live
Where they lie, for they comfort give
The people of Jacob and save
With hope from there beyond the grave.

If there are not twelve good kings, at least there
Are twelve good prophets linked up with the fair.
Their names are bright, their words are brighter still.
I cantillate them off-key with voice shrill.
If there are not twelve good men on the throne,
At least there are twelve prophets with a bone
Of life beyond the silence of their death,
A song, a message and refreshing breath.
Beloved, may the bones of twelve prophets live
Within my heart and on my tongue like sieve,
And may their melodies grow brighter as
I cantillate their faith instead of jazz.
And when their resurrection comes to me
I’ll keep that Sabbath of eternity.

11 How shall we praise Zerubbabel?
He was like a signet in spell
On the right hand, 12 and so for stack
Jeshua the son of Jozadak,
In their days they built the house and
Raised a temple holy and grand
To YHWH, prepared for glory’s stand.
13 The memory of Nehemiah
Also is lasting not to try her,
He raised for us the fallen walls,
And set up gates and bars and stalls,
Rebuilt our ruined houses’ halls.
14 No one like Enoch has been made
On earth, for he was drawn and stayed
Up from the earth. 15 And no man like
Joseph has been born, and his spike
Of bones are cared for. 16 Shem and Seth
Were honoured among men for breath,
And Adam above every one
Living in the creation done.

Good Nehemiah never built a house
For me or grouse of nibbling of a mouse
Within my territories. Yet I take
His word for Yours except any mistake.
Bright Enoch never wrote upon the dawn
A message for my eyes to look upon,
But still he lives and sometimes in the dark
I hear his cantillations from the park.
If Shem and Seth are honoured, I’d be bold
To wonder about Shem out in the cold,
Who lived to see Abraham’s honour told.
I doubt the one, I take the other’s straw
To call upon Your name in fear and awe,
While guided in my action by Your law.

SIRACH 50


1 The leader of his brothers and
The pride of his people and band
Was Simon the high priest and son
Of Onias, who in the run
Of his life repaired the house, and
In his time strengthened temple’s stand.
2 He laid foundations for the high
Double walls, retaining walls nigh
To the temple and temenos.
3 In his days a cistern across
For water was carved out, a tank
Like a pool and from bank to bank.
4 He pondered how to save his folk
From spoil, and strengthened the town’s yoke
To withstand siege and every stroke.
5 How glorious he was when the folk
Gathered around him as he came
Out from the inner temple’s flame!
6 Like morning star among the clouds,
Like moon when it’s full under shrouds,
7 Like the sun shining on the house
Of the Most High, and like the dowse
Of rainbow gleaming in clouds’ glory,
8 Like roses in the days of story
When the first fruits come, like the lily
By spring of water no more chilly,
Like a green shoot on Lebanon
Upon a summer day at dawn,
9 Like fire and incense in the censer,
Like a vessel hammered and tenser
With gold adorned in precious stones,
Of every kind, 10 like olive tones
Where trees bear fruit, like cypress trees
Shooting up to the clouds and breeze,
11 When he put on his glorious robe
And clothed himself like to the globe
Of perfection and went up to
The holy altar, he made view
Of the court of the temple bright.
12 And when he received portions right
From the hands of the priests, he stood
By the hearth of the altar good
With a ring of brothers around,
He was like a young cedar crowned
On Lebanon, where they surround
Like the trunks of the palm trees found.
13 All sons of Aaron in their weight
Of dignity stood round in state
Like poplars, with offerings to YHWH
In their hands, and in presence too
Of the crowd of all Israel’s crew.

Sirach loves the fair priesthood, it is true,
And while there are none now for derring-do,
I reckon such is not amiss, when he
Is Torah-true and lives life faithfully.
So Simon is a hero, there’s no doubt
That many loved the man supported stout,
Though at that time the Hellenizing horde
Was also to be reckoned with and scored.
Beloved, though I have no priest in my way,
No church or synagogue to light my day,
Nor even mosque where I may go to pray,
I still praise every leader of the flock,
The Christian, Jewish, Samaritan rock,
As well as Shi’ite and Sunnite to balk.

14 Once he finished the services
At the altar with all of his
Arranging of the sacrifice
For the Most High with all things nice,
15 And stretched out his hand for the cup
To offer the blood of grape up,
And poured it at the altar foot,
A sweet scent to Most High God put,
16 The sons of Aaron sounded blast,
The priests on their trumpets all cast
Of beaten metal: a great sound
Remembrance before Most High’s ground.

The service of remembrance sometimes comes
In grape juice scattered by the altar’s sums,
Sometimes in sacrificial goat and lamb
In memory of the prophet Abraham.
Sometimes the service of remembrance takes
The form of incense burning in its cakes,
And sometimes in the blast of trumpet sound
That shakes and trembles everything around.
But when I come to mind Your name and fill
My heart with cantillation at the sill
Of mercy, my remembrance is of none
Of these sweet evidences of my run.
I come, Beloved, with just the gentle word,
In quietness recited with heart stirred.

17 Then all the people with one stroke
Quickly fell prostrate at the yoke
Adoring before the Most High,
Before Israel’s Holy One nigh.
18 The hymns would echo and re-echo,
Over the crowd like mouse and gecko
Cantillations of praise came by.
19 All the folk of the land would shout
For joy, and praying all about
To the Merciful One and stout,
As the high priest would finish all
The services at altar’s stall
By offering the sacrifice due
To Ælohim the only true.
20 When he came down, he raised his hands
Over all of Israel in bands.
The blessing of YHWH on his lips,
The name of YHWH in glory dips.
21 Again the folk prostrated got
From him the Most High’s blessing sought.

Prayer in prostration is a thing that’s rare
Except among the Muslim kind of fare.
And yet it is the best the temple there
Had to offer the worshipper on stair.
Prayer in prostration is not kept today
By Christian or Jew in the common way,
Though Orthodoxy has a simple ray
And there are times a Jew falls under sway
Of earth prostration on a holiday.
Beloved, I too prostrate toward the town
Of Mecca and Jerusalem for crown,
And call upon Your name with love and faith,
Confessing what I ought, praising like waif
Your name, Your house, Your law, Your sacred stay.

22 And now, bless Ælohim of all
Who does wonders upon the ball
Of earth, who fosters men’s growth from
Their mother’s womb, and out they come
According to His will in sum!
23 May He grant you both joy in heart
And peace abiding in your part.
24 May His goodness toward us endure
In Israel as long as is sure
The sky above. 25 But my whole soul
Loathes two nations, a third in toll
That is no people but a role:
26 Those who live in Philistia,
And those in Seir, and in the claw
Degenerate of Shechem’s law.
27 Wise words and proverbs I have wrote
In this book, I Jesus the goat
Of Eleazar Sirach’s son
As they poured from my heart and won.
28 Blessed is the man who meditates
Upon these things, in wisdom’s gates
The man who takes them all to heart.
29 If he puts them in doing’s part,
He can cope with any strange art,
For YHWH’s fear will be his lamp’s start.

Shame on the foul expression of the sin
Of racist contemplation in the din
Of right praise and right honour on the tin!
Despite the politics of word and speech
I doubt that any man has call to preach.
I too look down with scorn and wrath upon
The colonists infesting New York’s dawn.
If You bless Israel as long as sky
Remains, I think my Indian forebears by
Another word were remiss when they said
As long as grass shall grow where rivers sped.
Both are polluted now, both grass and stream,
So the imposter’s free of treaty’s gleam.
Only the brazen sky remains instead.

SIRACH 51


1 I’ll give thanks to You, O Lord King,
And praise You as Ælohim, sing
To You my Saviour. I give thanks
To Your name, 2 for You have the ranks
Of my protector, helper and
Have saved my body from the band
Of my destruction and from snares
Of tongues in slanders unawares,
From lips that utter lies untrue.
In sight of those who stood by, You
Became my helper, 3 and saved me,
In the greatness of Your mercy
And of Your name, from the gnashings
Of teeth about to crop my wings,
From hands of those who sought my life,
From the many afflictions’ strife
That I endured, 4 from choking fire
On every side and from the fire
Which I did not kindle, 5 from mire
Of the depths of Sheol, and from
An unclean tongue and lying strum,
6 The slander of unrighteous tongue
To the king. My soul drew near sung
Death, and my life was very near
To Hades beneath me and sheer.
7 They came around on every side,
And there was no help there to hide,
I looked for aid of men, and found
There was none anywhere around.

Ah, my Beloved, the men who most proclaim
That they are here to give help in the game
Are those who strike most fervently the back
With dagger of deceit, they have no slack.
There is no help in man, nor woman yet,
There is no help in human hand. I fret
No more abandonment, since I rely
On You alone beneath a silver sky.
Beloved, know that I sing no other song,
I breathe no other word as all along
The rocky edges of the lake I take
My way toward the end of journey’s wake.
Beloved, know that I cantillate Your name
Where there is no other for grace or fame.

8 Then I remembered Your mercy,
O YHWH, and Your work of degree
Of ancient times, and that You save
Those who wait for You from the grave,
Hand of their enemies. 9 And I
Sent up my supplication high,
Up from the earth, and prayed that I
Might be saved from death come to spy.
10 I called to YHWH, the counsellor
Of my ancestors to implore
Him not to forsake me the day
Of my affliction without stay
Of any help against the proud.
11 I’ll praise Your name always aloud,
I’ll sing praise with thanksgiving’s shroud.
My prayer was heard, 12 for You did save
Me from destruction of the grave
And rescued me from evil plight.
Therefore I’ll give thanks to You right
And praise you, and I’ll bless the name
Of YHWH. 13 While I was in the game
Of youth, before I went abroad,
I sought wisdom in prayer to God.
14 Before the temple I asked for
Her, and I’ll search for her the more
To the last. 15 From blossom to time
Of ripening grape my heart in rhyme
Delighted in her, my foot went
Upon the straight path, and not bent
From my youth I followed her step.
16 I lent my ear a bit, with pep
Receiving her, and so I found
Instruction much and all around.

Too quickly I thought that You had not led
Hot footsteps in my ways of death unsped.
Out of my universe of times and ways,
Maybe there are some in a deathly maze
Across which I have travelled with intent,
Somehow not knowing that Your shield was meant.
Many times there may be the sword fell true,
Came close to where I had stood in my pew,
Eagle-eyed, while I was blind to the cast.
Lasting here in this world set at half-mast
When death leers at my unseen, unkempt past,
Among the tangled webs of snares and gruff,
I doubt at last that I have thanked enough.
Now let me thank for shield from unseen tough.

17 I made progress in her, to Him
Who gives wisdom I will with vim
Give glory. 18 For I have resolved
To live according to the solved
Wisdom, and I was zealous for
The good, and I shall never more
Be put to shame. 19 My soul grasped tight
Wisdom, my conduct I kept right,
I stretched my hands to heaven above,
Sorrowed by ignorance to love
Her, 20 but through purifying’s glove
My soul directed found her stand.
I gained understanding with her
From the first, therefore I concur
I’m not forsaken by her hand.
21 My heart was stirred to seek her, so
I’ve gained a good possession’s show.
22 YHWH gave me a tongue as reward,
And I will praise Him with it scored.

Like the grandson of Sirach, I have from
My earliest days come to count the sum
Of wisdom from the temple and the gate,
The teacher and the preacher of my fate.
Like son of Sirach, I have gathered store
Of wisdom more than I know how to pour
Out in the acts of grateful sense I should.
Like Sirach I’m just a grabe in the wood.
Beloved, the tongue that You reward me with
Is greater than I thought by light of myth,
And still it turns from day to day with more
Than I had meant to put before the door.
I praise You for the ways and stays You set,
I praise You for the rhymes I’m here to get.

23 Draw near to me, you the untaught,
And lodge in my school and my plot.
24 Why do you say you’re lacking in
These things, why do your souls in din
Cry out for thirst? 25 I opened my
Mouth and said, “Get these things or try
For yourselves without money’s lie.
26 Put your neck under yoke, and let
Your souls receive instruction met,
It is found close by at the set.
27 See with your eyes that I have worked
But little and though labour shirked
I’ve found myself much rest to get.
28 Get instruction with silver sum,
And you will have much gold to come.
29 May your soul rejoice in mercy
From Him, and may you never see
Shame when you praise Him faithfully.
30 Do your work by appointed time,
And in Allah’s fame He will climb
To give you your reward freely.

Like Sirach’s family I call all to me
To learn the good and true, the wise and free.
They need not pay with silver, no, nor gold,
They need only come here out of the cold
And for a moment hear the price of bold
Good news, that wisdom is a tale that’s told
In just three minutes of the speaker’s ware.
The Decalogue contains all of the share
Of wisdom that can be found anywhere.
Let everyone who reads or hears receive
That gift at my hand, nothing’s to believe.
It’s proven in the pudding, there’s no stand
To wave and hope and ponder on the grand.
With that I turn away and take my leave.


AUTHOR: THOMAS G. MCELWAIN

Copyright © 2007 Adams & McElwain Publishers and Thomas McElwain First Published in two volumes, The Beloved and I 2005, and Led of the Beloved, 2006. Second Edition, 2010 Third and revised edition, 2012 All rights reserved. No part of this verse commentary on the sacred Scriptures may be reproduced, transmitted, or stored in a retrieval system, in any form or by any means, without permission in writing from publisher.

To purchase the books, please go to:

http://www.lulu.com/shop/thomas-mcelwain/the-beloved-and-i-genesis-to-maccabees/paperback/product-20136835.html

http://www.lulu.com/shop/thomas-mcelwain/the-beloved-and-i-job-to-revelation/paperback/product-20050862.html





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