The Bible is full of surprises — vastly too many to list or even synopsize. In reading it from cover to cover, we wish only that we’d made a list, sooner, of its poignant curiosities.
Take for example the Book of Sirach.
Did you know that the author of that book was a man named Jesus?
It’s true: This Jesus came about two hundred years before Jesus Christ and was the son of Eleazar and Sirach. (He also was known as “Ben Sira.”) “The author, a sage who lived in Jerusalem, was thoroughly imbued with love for the wisdom tradition, and also for the law, priesthood, Temple, and divine worship,” notes the website for the U.S. bishops. “As a wise and experienced observer of life he addressed himself to his contemporaries with the motive of helping them to maintain religious faith and integrity through study of the books sacred to the Jewish tradition.”
Sirach is one of the “books of wisdom,” included in Catholic bibles but non-canonical for Jews and Protestants.
Wisdom there is, aplenty.
“Be swift to hear, but slow to answer,” says Sirach 5:13, urging — however — that we “refrain not from speaking at the proper time,” and that you “hide not away your wisdom” (4:23).
“Let your acquaintances be many, but one in a thousand your confidant,” says Sirach 6:6, pointing up the need for discernment in all walks of life — in everyday happenings. “Before investigating, find no fault; examine first (before criticizing),” says Sirach, chapter eleven.
“Bring not every man into your house, for many are the snares of the crafty one” (11:29).
Now here’s a noteworthy line for our chatty times:
“Before hearing, answer not, and interrupt no one in the middle of his speech” (11:7-8).
“Envy not a sinner’s fame, for you know not what awaits him,” chapter nine of that book reminds us. God is Ultimate Justice. No one gets away with murder (or, ultimately, in the afterlife, anything else). (It’s good to keep this in mind while on this unfair celebrity-laden planet.)
“The beginning of pride is a man’s stubbornness,” notes Sirach (10:12). When we are always stubborn, we are know-it-alls. A great sin of our time this is! As for pride: there are two meanings for the word. In one sense, it’s satisfaction with doing well or with someone else doing well. But in its dangerous form, it’s arrogance, self-centeredness, and exaggerated self-esteem — and what got Satan cast out of Heaven.
“Widely known is the boastful speaker, but the wise man knows his own faults” (21:7).
“Fools’ thoughts are in their mouths, wise men’s words are in their hearts” (21:26).
“Seven days of mourning for the dead, but for the wicked fools a whole lifetime” (22:11).
“Give new signs and work new wonders; show forth the splendor of your right hands and arm,” says 36:5 (putting to the test the claim by some that God does not allow or grant signs!).
“Unless it be a vision specially sent by the Most High, fix not your heart on it” (34:6).
And finally (for now), relating to prophecy:
“The Most High possesses all knowledge, and sees from of old the things that are to come: He makes known the past and the future, and reveals the deepest secrets” (42:18-19).
Intriguing: how the past is prologue and how we perhaps need to look more at what has occurred in previous times than in crystal balls (and other man-made predictions) to foresee our future.
Remember this always — the very first thing in the Book of Sirach (1:1):
“All wisdom is from the Lord, and remains with him forever.”
[resources: the Book of Sirach]