- [A Prologue made by an uncertain Author]
This Jesus was the son of Sirach,
and grandchild to Jesus of the same name with him:
this man therefore lived in the latter times,
after the people had been led away captive,
and called home a again,
and almost after all the prophets.
Now his grandfather Jesus,
as he himself witnesseth,
was a man of great diligence and wisdom among the Hebrews,
who did not only gather the grave and short sentences of wise men,
that had been before him,
but himself also uttered some of his own,
full of much understanding and wisdom.
When as therefore the first Jesus died,
leaving this book almost perfected,
Sirach his son receiving it after him left it to his own son Jesus,
having gotten it into his hands,
compiled it all orderly into one volume,
and called it Wisdom,
intituling it both by his own name,
his father's name,
and his grandfather's;
alluring the hearer by the very name of Wisdom to have a greater love to the study of this book.
It containeth therefore wise sayings,
and certain particular ancient godly stories of men that pleased God;
also his prayer and song;
what benefits God had vouchsafed his people,
and what plagues he had heaped upon their enemies.
This Jesus did imitate Solomon,
and was no less famous for wisdom and learning,
both being indeed a man of great learning,
and so reputed also.
[The Prologue of the Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach.]
Whereas many and great things have been delivered unto us by the law and the prophets,
and by others that have followed their steps,
for the which things Israel ought to be commended for learning and wisdom;
and whereof not only the readers must needs become skilful themselves,
but also they that desire to learn be able to profit them which are without,
both by speaking and writing: my grandfather Jesus,
when he had much given himself to the reading of the law,
and the prophets,
and other books of our fathers,
and had gotten therein good judgment,
was drawn on also himself to write something pertaining to learning and wisdom;
to the intent that those which are desirous to learn,
and are addicted to these things,
might profit much more in living according to the law.
Wherefore let me intreat you to read it with favour and attention,
and to pardon us,
wherein we may seem to come short of some words,
which we have laboured to interpret.
For the same things uttered in Hebrew,
and translated into another tongue,
have not the same force in them:
and not only these things,
but the law itself,
and the prophets,
and the rest of the books,
have no small difference,
when they are spoken in their own language.
For in the eight and thirtieth year coming into Egypt,
when Euergetes was king,
and continuing there some time,
I found a book of no small learning:
therefore I thought it most necessary for me to bestow some diligence and travail to interpret it;
using great watchfulness and skill in that space to bring the book to an end,
and set it forth for them also,
which in a strange country are willing to learn,
being prepared before in manners to live after the law.