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The Wisdom of Ben Sira (Ecclesiasticus) contains the sayings of Ben Sira, arguably the last of Israel's wise men and its first scribe, whose world was defined and dominated by Greek ideas and ideals. This Hellenistic worldview challenged the adequacy of the religion passed down to Palestinian Jews of the second century B.C.E. by their ancestors. Ben Sira's training in both Judaic and Hellenistic literary traditions prepared him to meet this challenge. He vigorously opposed any compromise of Jewish values; and his teaching bolstered the faith and confidence of his people.
Through its elegant poetry and vehement exhortations, The Wisdom of Ben Sira exposes the ill effects of sinful behavior on one's health status, and spiritual and material well-being. Ben Sira's rigorous code of moral behavior was the measure of Jewish faithfulness in an era of ethical and religious bankruptcy.
The late Patrick W. Skehan was Professor of Semitic Languages at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. Alexander A. Di Lella, O.F.M., is the Andrews-Kelly-Ryan Distinguished Professor of Biblical Studies at the same university. He is also coauthor of the Anchor Bible Commentary: The Book of Daniel, and contributed articles to The Anchor Bible Dictionary.
THE ANCHOR YALE BIBLE COMMENTARY SERIES is a project of international and interfaith scope in which Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish scholars from many countries contribute individual volumes. The project is not sponsored by any ecclesiastical organization and is not intended to reflect any particular theological doctrine.
The Anchor Yale Bible is committed to producing commentaries in the tradition established half a century ago by the founders of the series, William Foxwell Albright and David Noel Freedman. It aims to present the best contemporary scholarship in a way that is accessible not only to scholars but also to the educated nonspecialist. Its approach is grounded in exact translation of the ancient languages and an appreciation of the historical and cultural context in which the biblical books were written supplemented by insights from modern methods, such as sociological and literary criticism.