Saturday, September 4, 2010

Sirach 24

*In Praise of Wisdom*
1. Wisdom will praise herself,
And in the midst of her people she will boast.+

2. In the assembly of the Most High, she will open her mouth
And boast in the presence of His host.

3. "I came forth from the mouth of the Most High
And covered the earth like a mist.+

4. I pitched my tent in the high places
And my throne on the pillar of cloud.

5. I alone encircle the ring of heaven,
And I walk in the depth of the abyss.

6. In the waves of the sea, in all the earth,
And in every people and nation
I have gained a possession.

7. With all these, I have sought a place to rest;
In what inheritance will I lodge?

8. "Then the Creator of all things commanded me,
And He who created me gave me a place to live.
He said, 'Pitch your tent in Jacob
And receive an inheritance in Israel.'+

9. Before the age, He created me from the beginning,
And in the age to come I will not cease.+

10. I serve before Him in His holy tabernacle;
Therefore, I am established in Zion.

11. In the beloved city likewise He gives me rest,
And my authority is in Jerusalem.

12. I am firmly rooted among an honored people,
Among the Lord's portion, His inheritance.

13. "Like a cedar tree I was raised on high in Lebanon,
Like a cypress tree in the mountains of Hermon.

14. I was exalted like a palm tree in En-Gedi
And like rose bushes in Jericho;
I was exalted like a beautiful olive tree in the plain
And grew tall like a plane-tree.

15. I gave forth the fragrance of aromatic spices
Like cinnamon and camel-thorn,
And I spread a fragrance like choice myrrh,
And like galbanum, onyx, and oil of myrrh,
And like the fragrance of frankincense in the tabernacle.

16. I spread forth my branches like a terebinth tree,
And my branches were glory and grace.+

17. I yield grace like a vine,
And my flowers produce the fruit of glory and riches.

18. I am the mother of fair love, and fear, and knowledge and holy hope;
I therefore, being eternal, am given to all my children who are named by Him.

19. "Come to me, you who desire me,
And take your fill of my fruits.

20. For the remembrance of me is sweeter than honey,
And my inheritance is sweeter than the honeycomb.

21. Those who eat me will hunger for more,
And those who drink me will thirst for more.+

22. He who obeys me will not be put to shame,
And those who work with me will not sin."

23. All this is the book of the covenant of the Most High God-
The law Moses commanded us,
The inheritance of the congregations of Jacob.

24. Faint not to be strong in the Lord;
That He may confirm you, cleave unto Him:
For the Lord Almighty is God alone,
And beside Him there is no other Savior.

25. This law fills men with wisdom,
Like the Pishon and the Tigris at the time of firstfruits;

26. And it fills them with understanding,
Like the Euphrates and the Jordan at the time of harvest.

27. This law shines forth instruction like light,
Like the Gihon in the days of vintage.

28. As the first man did not know wisdom perfectly;
So the last man has not searched out her depths.

29. For her thoughts are deeper than the sea
And her counsel than the great abyss.

30. I went forth like a canal from a river
And like an aqueduct into a garden.

31. I said, "I will water my garden
And drench the garden beds."
And behold, my canal became a river,
And my river became a sea.

32. I will yet make instruction shine like the morning,
And I will make it shine far away.

33. I will yet pour forth teaching like prophecy,
And I will leave it behind for future generations.

34. As you can see, I have not labored for myself alone,
But for all who seek wisdom.

+24:1 - This chapter is a poetic discourse on Wisdom, which can only find its fulfillment in Christ, and thus is viewed by the early church fathers as being Christological. The Greek word sophia (wisdom) is feminine in gender, and therefore the pronouns associated with it are translated in the feminine. The preincarnate Christ is revealed as the eternally begotten Son, God of God, co-equal with the Father. Also, Wisdom, the preincarnate Son, is exalted above all. Perhaps St. Paul had this passage in mind when he penned Php 2:5-11, which many believe is an early Christian hymn.

+24:3 - "Observe the peculiar attribute of the Divine Generation, that the Son doth not seem to have come forth out of any place, but as God from God, a Son from a Father, nor to have a beginning in the course of time, having come forth from the Father by being born, as He himself who was born said: 'I came forth from the mouth of the Most High'" (AmbM)

+24:8 - Created me is a prophecy concerning the incarnation of Wisdom. He is Christ, the power and wisdom of the Father (1Co 1:24). The phrases a place to live, a tent in Jacob, and an inheritance in Israel also emphasize the Incarnation.

+24:9 - The phrases before the age, from the beginning, and in the age to come show that Wisdom is without beginning. The statement He created me is prophetic of the Incarnation as well. For Christ, the power and wisdom of the Father, assumed a human nature at His conception in the womb of the Mother of God, the Ever-virgin Mary.

+24:16, 17 - St. Paul teaches that in Christ we find a superabundance of the riches of grace (Eph 1:7,8).

+24:21 - Though the Christian finds true nourishment in the Body and Blood of Christ, he will always hunger and thirst for more of Christ in all aspects of life.

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