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Sirach (also called Ben Sirach or Ecclesiasticus), book written (circa 180 BCE) in Hebrew by a Jew living in Egypt, Jesus ben Sirach, and translated into Greek by his grandson.

The Greek translation contains a preface written by Ben Sirach's grandson. It was called Ecclesiasticus because it was frequently read in churches, and was thus called liber ecclesiasticus (Latin and latinised Greek for 'church book'). Today it is more frequently known as Ben Sirach or simply Sirach.

Although it was not accepted into the Jewish biblical canon, Sirach is quoted infrequently in the Talmud, and works of rabbinic literature. It is included in the Septuagint and is accepted as part of the biblical canon by Catholics and Eastern Orthodox, but not by Protestants.

Only the Greek translation survives in full, although fragments of the original Hebrew text have been discovered.

Influence in the Jewish liturgy

Sirach was used as the basis for two important parts of the Jewish liturgy. In the Mahzor[?] (High Holy day prayer book), a medieval Jewish poet used Ben Sirach as the basis for a poem, KeOhel HaNimtah, in the Yom Kippur musaf ("additional") service. Recent scholarship indicates that it formed the basis of the most important of all Jewish prayers, the Amidah. Ben Sira apparently provides the vocabulary and framework for many of the Amidah's blessings.


Amidah, entry in the Encyclopedia Judaica, Keter Publishing

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