Ben Sira, Simeon ben Jesus

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BEN SIRA, SIMEON BEN JESUS (second century b.c.e.), Hebrew aphorist, sage, and scribe, the author of Wisdom of *Ben Sira (Ecclesiasticus). Ben Sira was a younger contemporary of the high priest Simeon (50:1ff.), apparently Simeon the Just, who according to the Talmud and Josephus (Ant., 12:43, 157) lived at the beginning of the third century b.c.e. In the introduction to the Greek translation of the Wisdom of Ben Sira, the author is referred to as Jesus, by which name he is generally known in the Christian tradition. In the more authoritative Hebrew version, however (50:27; 52:end), his full name is given as Simeon b. Jeshua b. Eleazar b. Sira. The book was translated into Greek by Ben Sira's grandson after his arrival in Egypt in 132 b.c.e. From this date, given by the grandson in the preface to his translation, it may be reckoned that Ben Sira completed the book about 170 b.c.e. Apparently Ben Sira's life was at one time in jeopardy because of a false charge leveled against him, from which, however, he was saved (51).


S. Schechter and C. Taylor, The Wisdom of Ben Sira (1899); R. Smend, Die Weisheit des Jesus Sirach erklaert (1906–07); M.H. Segal, Sefer Ben-Sira ha-Shalem (19582); E.S. Hartom, Ha-Sefarim ha-Ḥiẓonim: Ben-Sira (1963).

[Moses Zevi (Moses Hirsch) Segal]