An outline of the Book of Sirach
Ben Sira, the author, was a devout man of wisdom who lived in
Jerusalem about 200 BC. The first 43 chapters of the Book provide moral
instruction and common sense gained from experience, fitting of Wisdom
literature. As with the Book of Job, the author notes the "beginning
of wisdom is fear of the Lord." Chapter One on Wisdom, Chapter Six on
Friendship and Discipline, and Chapters 25-26 on Wives and Women
represent the first section. Chapters 44-50 present a refreshing
history of the ancestors, patriarchs, and leaders of Israel. Chapter 51
concludes the Book with a prayer.
The Book of Sirach possesses a wealth of varied expressions of wise and foolish behavior reminiscent of the book of Proverbs. Many of its verses have Old Testament antecedents, especially from the book of Proverbs (dozens of related verses) and the Pentateuch, which is comprised of the first five books of the Bible. Portions of Sirach are used today in Catholic Church liturgy.
1:1-1:30 Praise of Wisdom 2:1-2:18 Duties toward God 3:1-3:16 Duties toward Parents 3:17-3:29 Humility 3:30-3:31 Alms for the Poor 4:1-4:10 Duties toward the Poor and the Oppressed 4:11-4:31 The Rewards of Wisdom 5:1-6:4 Precepts for Everyday Living 6:5-6:17 Friendship, False and True 6:18-6:37 Blessings of Wisdom 7:1-7:17 Miscellaneous Advice 7:18-7:36 Relations with Others 8:1-8:19 Prudence and Common Sense 9:1-9:9 Advice Concerning Women 9:10-9:16 Choice of Friends 9:17-10:5 Concerning Rulers 10:6-10:18 The Sin of Pride 10:19-10:25 Persons Deserving Honour 10:26-10:31 Concerning Humility 11:1-11:6 The Deceptiveness of Appearances 11:7-11:28 Deliberation and Caution 11:29-12:18 Care in Choosing Friends 13:1-14:2 Caution Regarding Associates 14:3-14:19 Responsible Use of Wealth 14:20-15:10 The Happiness of Seeking Wisdom 15:11-15:20 Freedom of Choice 16:1-16:23 God's Punishment of Sinners 16:24-17:24 God's Wisdom Seen in Creation 17:25-17:32 A Call to Repentance 18:1-18:14 The Majesty of God 18:15-18:18 The Right Spirit in Giving Alms 18:19-18:29 The Need of Reflection and Self-Control 18:30-19:3 Self-Control 19:4-19:17 Against Loose Talk 19:20-19:30 True and False Wisdom 20:1-20:8 Silence and Speech 20:9-20:17 Paradoxes 20:18-20:23 Inappropriate Speech 20:24-20:26 Lying 20:27-20:31 Proverbial Sayings 21:1-21:10 Various Sins 21:11-21:28 Wisdom and Foolishness 22:1-22:6 The Idler 22:9-22:18 Wisdom and Folly 22:19-22:26 The Preservation of Friendship 22:27-23:6 A Prayer for Help against Sinning 23:7-23:11 Discipline of the Tongue 23:12-23:15 Foul Language 23:16-23:27 Concerning Sexual Sins 24:1-24:22 The Praise of Wisdom 24:23-24:34 Wisdom and the Law 25:1-25:11 Those Who Are Worthy of Praise 25:13-25:26 Some Extreme Forms of Evil 26:1-26:4 The Joy of a Good Wife 26:5-26:12 The Worst of Evils: A Wicked Wife 26:13-26:27 The Blessing of a Good Wife 26:28 Three Depressing Things 26:29-27:3 The Temptation of Commerce 27:4-27:7 Tests in Life 27:8-27:10 Reward and Retribution 27:11-27:15 Varieties of Speech 27:16-27:21 Betraying Secrets 27:22-27:29 Hypocrisy and Retribution 27:30-28:11 Anger and Vengeance 28:12-28:26 The Evil Tongue 29:1-29:13 On Lending and Borrowing 29:14-29:20 On Guaranteeing Debts 29:21-29:28 Home and Hospitality 30:1-30:17 Concerning Children 30:18-30:25 Concerning Foods 31:1-31:11 Right Attitude towards Riches 31:12-31:24 Table Etiquette 31:25-31:31 Temperance in Drinking Wine 32:1-32:13 Etiquette at a Banquet 32:14-33:6 The Providence of God 33:7-33:19 Differences in Nature and in Humankind 33:20-33:24 The Advantage of Independence 33:25-33:33 The Treatment of Slaves 34:1-34:8 Dreams Mean Nothing 34:9-34:13 Experience as a Teacher 34:14-34:20 Fear the Lord 34:21-34:31 Offering Sacrifices 35:1-35:13 The Law and Sacrifices 35:14-35:26 Divine Justice 36:1-36:22 A Prayer for God's People 36:23-36:31 Concerning Discrimination 37:1-37:6 False Friends 37:7-37:15 Caution in Taking Advice 37:16-37:26 True and False Wisdom 37:27-37:31 Concerning Moderation 38:1-38:15 Concerning Physicians and Health 38:16-38:23 On Mourning for the Dead 38:24-38:34 Trades and Crafts 39:1-39:11 The Activity of the Scribe 39:12-39:35 A Hymn of Praise to God 40:1-40:11 Human Wretchedness 40:12-40:17 Injustice Will Not Prosper 40:18-40:27 The Joys of Life 40:28-40:30 The Disgrace of Begging 41:1-41:4 Concerning Death 41:5-42:8 The Fate of the Wicked 42:9-42:25 The Works of God in Nature 43:1-43:8 The Splendor of the Sun 43:9-43:33 The Glory of the Stars and the Rainbow 44:1-44:15 Hymn in Honour of Our Ancestors 44:16 Enoch 44:17-44:18 Noah 44:19-44:21 Abraham 44:22-44:23 Isaac and Jacob 45:1-45:5 Moses 45:6-45:22 Aaron 45:23-45:26 Phinehas 46:1-46:10 Joshua and Caleb 46:11-46:20 The Judges 47:1- Nathan 47:2-47:11 David 47:12-47:22 Solomon 47:23-47:25 Rehoboam and Jeroboam 48:1-48:11 Elijah 48:12-48:16 Elisha 48:17-48:22 Hezekiah 48:23-48:25 Isaiah 49:1-49:13 Josiah and Other Worthies 49:14-49:16 Retrospect 50:1-50:21 Simon Son of Onias 50:22-50:24 A Benediction 50:25-50:29 Epilogue 51:1-51:12 Prayer of Jesus Son of Sirach 51:13-51:30 Autobiographical Poem on Wisdom