11Q5 21

The Great Psalms Scroll
Dead Sea Scrolls

I was a young man; in the past, I had strayedbut then I found her. She came to me in shapely form, and I will seek her to the end. Even a withered blossom delights the heart when the grapes ripen.My foot walked straightforwardly — for I knew her from my youth. I inclined my ear, just a little, and I discovered an abundance of teaching. Then she became [my] nurse. (I give my honor to my instructor!) I thought, “let’s have fun!” I craved pleasure unrepentantly. My spirit burned for her; I couldn’t turn my face away. My spirit obsessed over her; I couldn’t ignore her stature. My hand opened [her gates] [and] I contemplated her nudity. I cleansed my hand […]

Sirach 51:13

Ben Sira, Ecclesiasticus

13 While I was still young, before I went on my travels, I sought wisdom openly in my prayer. 14 Before the temple I asked for her, and I will search for her until the end. 15 From the first blossom to the ripening grape my heart delighted in her; my foot walked on the straight path; from my youth I followed her steps. 16 I inclined my ear a little and received her, and I found for myself much instruction. 17 I made progress in her; to him who gives wisdom I will give glory. 18 For I resolved to live according to wisdom, and I was zealous for the good, and I shall never be disappointed.

 Notes and References

"... 11QPs 3 21:11-17 contains a Hebrew version of Sir 51:13-30. Verses 13-20a correspond to 11Q5 21:11-17. The first two words of 1QPs 22:1 accord with Sir 51:30b. The material in column 21 after line 17, which has not survived, was probably similar to Sirach 51:20b-30. The B text, one of the manuscripts of Ben Sira discovered in the Cairo Geniza in 1896, contains another Hebrew recension of this poem. The version from 11Q5 is probably more authentic than the B text. llQPs 3 21:11-17 follows an easily discernable acrostic format, whereas the B text attests substantial corruptions of this pattern.

The poem in 11Q5 21:11-17 and 22:1 is located between Psalm 138:1-8 and Apostrophe to Zion. There is no mention of Ben Sira whatsoever and the Psalms Scroll as a whole is attributed implicitly to David (27:2-11). At the very least, 11QPs 3 does not endorse Ben Sira's authorship of Sir 51:13-30. Although the evidence is ambiguous, the Jerusalem sage probably did not compose this work. The work has been dated to the third or second century BCE. The composition contains no evidence that it was composed by a member of the movement associated with the Teacher of Righteousness. Even if Ben Sira did not write Sirach 51:13-30, the poem is an appropriate conclusion to his instruction ..."

Goff, Matthew J. Discerning Wisdom: The Sapiential Literature of the Dead Sea Scrolls (pp. 247-257) Brill, 2007

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