Archive for the ‘Ecclesiasticus’ Category

The Wisdom of Jesus, the son of Sirach or Ecclesiasticus 1:1-10.Wisdom, The Incarnation

Saturday, November 20th, 2010

Wisdom in the Bible

The Incarnation prophesied.

The Wisdom of Jesus, the son of Sirach or  Ecclesiasticus 1:1-10 [1]

 

http://www.orthodox.net/ikons/christ-holy-wisdom.jpg, taken from http://molonlabe70.blogspot.com/2008/08/icon-of-sophia-wisdom-of-god.html - there is an excellent description of the icon here.

Holy Wisdom- Sophia – Moscow early 18th Century [2]

 

The Wisdom of Jesus, the Son of Sirach is one of the “Wisdom” books of the bible, and is one of the so called books of the apocrypha. This is a startling book, for many reasons. It contains many prophesies, and much very practical and earthy advice. In some ways it is like “Proverbs” or the “Wisdom of Solomon”. Concepts in it are used by the Lord Jesus Christ (recorded in the Gospels) and other NT authors.

 

The book begins with a description of “Wisdom”. In many cases, such as this one, “Wisdom” is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. There are many references to Wisdom in the OT, and the NT also makes this reference:

 

“… Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God.” (1Co 1:24 DRB)

 

Sirach makes rather startling prophesies.  

 

1:1 All wisdom is from the Lord God, and hath been always with him, and is before all time. [3] 

 

This is a reference to eternality of the Son of God, and echoed  in the Symbol of faith [4]: “Jesus Christ … begotten of the Father before all ages”.

 

(2)   Who hath numbered the sand of the sea, and the drops of rain, and the days of the world? Who hath measured the height of heaven, and the breadth of the earth, and the depth of the abyss?  (3)   Who hath searched out the wisdom of God that goeth before all things? 

 

This is very reminiscent of the rebukes of God towards Job. This kind of language is also in the Psalms.

 

The church knows the answer to the question in vs 3. It is not a rhetorical question!

 

“But to us God hath revealed them by his Spirit. For the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.  (11)  For what man knoweth the things of a man, but the spirit of a man that is in him? So the things also that are of God, no man knoweth, but the Spirit of God.  (12)   Now, we have received not the spirit of this world, but the Spirit that is of God: that we may know the things that are given us from God.” (1Corithinans 2:10-12 DRB)  

 

 

 

(4)  Wisdom hath been created before all things, and the understanding of prudence from everlasting. 

 

This is another statement regarding the eternality of Wisdom, the Son of God. If Jesus the Son of God is co-eternal with God the Father and the Spirit, then it  must be that He is fully God and equal to the Father and the Spirit, because only God is eternal, that is, uncreated and ever lasting.

 

“Created before all things” is expressed in the Creed (Symbol of Faith) as “only begotten, begotten of the Father before all ages, begotten, not made, of one essence with the Father”. Of course, this cannot be temporal creation, when something changes into something else, because God does not change.

 

This is, of course a difficult concept to understand; it can only be understood by becoming like Wisdom, that is, to emulate Christ, and become perfected. See below.

 

(5)   The word of God on high is the fountain of wisdom, and her ways are everlasting commandments.  (6)   To whom hath the root of wisdom been revealed, and who hath known her wise counsels?  (7)   To whom hath the discipline of wisdom been revealed and made manifest? and who hath understood the multiplicity of her steps? 

 

This is not merely poetic and rhetorical language. This question is answered by Sirach immediately (vs 8-9).

 

Another answer to the question: “To whom…”, given throughout Sirach and on every page of the Scripture in many ways is “Blessed are the poor in spirit for they shall see God”.  (Matthew 5:8).  God reveals Himself to those who care able to know Him. Only the pure can know God. It seems like a fantastic thing that man, who is limited, may know God, the limitless, but the promise is clear, as well as the path to obtaining the promise.  

 

(8)  There is one most high Creator Almighty, and a powerful king, and greatly to be feared, who sitteth upon his throne, and is the God of dominion.  (9)   He created her in the Holy Ghost, and saw her, and numbered her, and measured her.  (10)   And he poured her out upon all his works, and upon all flesh according to his gift, and hath given her to them that love him.

 

This refers to the incarnation of the Son of God, and the participation of the Son of God in the creation of the world.

 

“And he poured her out upon all his works”  – “her” is the pre-incarnate, eternal Jesus Christ, Who, with the Father and the Son, was the creator of the universe and all that is in it.

 

“… and upon all flesh according to his gift, and hath given her to them that love him.” – This is a prophesy of the incarnation.

 

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16 KJV)

Remember that the Scripture is always about you. It is useless to read the Scripture without actively seeking to be instructed. Sirach tells us that the gift of Wisdom (Jesus Christ) is given “to them that love Him”. One must have evidence of this love in the way they live, think, act – in everything. The true Christian mind does not pass over these words lightly.

 

 

There is a startling moral conclusion that we must have when we read about “Wisdom” in any context in the scriptures. It is always about Christ. If we do not become like Him, we will never have wisdom. Wisdom as an attribute is necessary to answer any difficult question correctly. The answer to every question is – Wisdom, Jesus Christ.

 

Bibliography

 

The Orthodox Study Bible, Second Edition. The “You Who” language is quite burdensome, and some (not most) of the comments are a little off and remind me of my Evangelical Protestant days, and sometimes appear to not be fully rooted in the ascetical and monastic tradition of the church, but in general, this is a good resource, if used with discretion. Just remember, the Gospel is the Gospel, but not all the footnotes!

 

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2010.     St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

http://www.orthodox.net/scripture/sirach-ecclesiasticus-chapter-01-01-10_2010+wisdom,the-incarnation.doc

 

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Use this for any edifying reason, but please give credit, and include the URL were the text was found. We would love to hear from you with comments!

Online: King James Translation ( http://www.biblicalproportions.com/modules/ol_bible/King_James_Bible/Ecclesiasticus/ ), Douay-Rheim Translation (http://www.drbo.org/book/26.htm)

 



[1] Sirach 1:1-10 (also known as "The Wisdom of Jesus, the son of Sirach", and  Ecclesiasticus = “a church reading book"”).

 

Online: King James Translation ( http://www.biblicalproportions.com/modules/ol_bible/King_James_Bible/Ecclesiasticus/ ), Douay-Rheim Translation (http://www.drbo.org/book/26.htm)

 

[3] Douay-Rheim translation.

[4] The Symbol of Faith – the Nicene Creed.

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