Sirach 11:1

Ben Sira, Ecclesiasticus

1 The wisdom of the humble lifts their heads high, and seats them among the great. 2 Do not praise individuals for their good looks, or loathe anyone because of appearance alone. 3 The bee is small among flying creatures, but what it produces is the best of sweet things. 4 Do not boast about wearing fine clothes, and do not exalt yourself when you are honored; for the works of the Lord are wonderful, and his works are concealed from humankind. 5 Many kings have had to sit on the ground, but one who was never thought of has worn a crown.

Jerusalem Berakhot 7.2

Jerusalem Talmud

He said to him, why did you disappear? He said to him, I heard that my lord was angry with me and I wanted to fulfill the verse (Is. 26:20) “Hide a little bit until the rage passes;” he used about himself (Eccl. 7:12): “Knowledge is an advantage, wisdom lets its possessor live.” He said to him, why did you sit between king and queen? He said to him, it is written in the book of Ben Sirach: “Esteem it and it will raise you and set you between princes.” He said, bring him a cup that he may recite Grace. He took the cup and said: “Let us give praise for the food that Yannai and his company ate.” He said to him, are you still obstinate as ever? He said to him, what should I say, “for the food that we did not eat?” He said, bring him something that he may eat. They brought, he ate and recited: “For the food that we ate.” Rebbi Yoḥanan said, his colleagues disagree with Simeon ben Shetaḥ.

 Notes and References

"... the rabbis who cite Ben Sira in their literature had to contend with a certain problem: The rabbis’ Christian neighbors did not distinguish Ben Sira’s status from that of many other biblical books. Insofar as we can speak of an early Christian canon, Ben Sira was part of it for many communities. The rabbis, on the other hand, determined early on that Ben Sira was not part of the canon. Thus, to distinguish Ben Sira from the biblical books, they cited Ben Sira as though he were a rabbi—“Ben Sira said …,” or “So-and-so said in the name of Ben Sira …”—rather than as an author—“It is written in the Book of Ben Sira.” The one and only time that it is referred to as the “Book of Ben Sira” (סיפראדבןסירא) in Palestinian rabbinic literature is when Simeon b. Shetahִ is reported as talking about it to King Yannai, a nonrabbi (Y. Berakhot 7:2 [11b] and parallels, second Palestinian source below). This suggests that the rabbis were aware of Ben Sira as a written work and of nonrabbis’ familiarity with it primarily as such. Their avoidance of referring to Ben Sira as an author or as the title of a book thus reflects an important religious concern, not simply the form in which they knew these traditions ..."

Labendz, Jenny R. The Book of Ben Sira in Rabbinic Literature (pp. 347-392) AJS Review, 30, 2006

 User Comments

Do you have questions or comments about these texts? Please submit them here.