[b-hebrew] Ecclesiastes Ecclesiasticus
Ethel Jean (Kowan) Saltz
macnietspingal at airmail.net
Wed Oct 18 09:38:53 EDT 2006
Has anyone focussed on these two biblical books? It would take me too long
to do it for myself. I love them both. They've made a difference in my
>From the Encyc Britannica: for my first time!!
Hebrew Qohelet (Preacher), an Old Testament book of wisdom literature that
belongs to the third section of the biblical canon, known as the Ketuvim
(Writings). In the Hebrew Bible, Ecclesiastes stands between the Song of
Solomon and Lamentations and with them belongs to the Megillot, five scrolls
that are read at various festivals of the Jewish religious year. The common
Christian English translations follow the Septuagint in placing Ecclesiastes
between Proverbs and the Song of Solomon, an order reflecting the old
tradition that Solomon wrote all three.
The actual author of Ecclesiastes is unknown, but the superscription (1:1)
attributes the book to qohelet (commonly translated “preacher,” Greek
ekklesiastes), who is identified as “the son of David, king in Jerusalem.”
Though these words can only refer to Solomon (fl. mid-10th century BC), the
frequency of Aramaic forms and the book's rationalistic contents date it
sometime about the second half of the 3rd century BC.
also called the Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach
deuterocanonical biblical work (accepted in the Roman Catholic canon but
noncanonical for Jews and Protestants), an outstanding example of the wisdom
genre of religious literature that was popular in the early Hellenistic
period of Judaism (3rd century BC to 3rd century AD). This book appeared in
the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, though it was
later rejected as apocryphal by Jews. Like other major wisdom books
(Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Job, and Wisdom of Solomon), Ecclesiasticus
contains practical and moral rules and exhortations, frequently arranged
according to subject matter—e.g., hypocrisy, generosity, filial respect.
Wisdom, personified as Sophia, or Lady Wisdom, delivers an extended
discourse on her eternal relationship with God (chapter 24) and is
identified with the Mosaic Law.
The text is the only apocryphal work whose author is known. It
was written in Hebrew in Palestine around 180–175 BC by Ben Sira, who was
probably a scribe well-versed in Jewish law and custom.
Ben Sira's grandson, whose name is unknown, carried the book to
Alexandria and translated it into Greek shortly after 132 BC for
Greek-speaking Jews. The translation was probably intended to encourage
adherence to ancestral beliefs and customs and to defend Jewish religious
doctrines by showing the essential agreement between Judaism and Hellenistic
philosophical truths. The concept of “wisdom” as an active emanation from
God, for example, closely approximates the Stoic concept of the universal
The book is extant in a Greek text and in Hebrew texts, some of
which was discovered in 1896–97 in the geniza (“repository”) of the Ezra
Synagogue in Cairo and among the Dead Sea Scrolls (q.v.).
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