By Marko Marttila

Ben Sira lived in an period while Hellenistic impacts endured to unfold in Palestine. The ultimate political strength was once within the arms of overseas rulers. below those conditions it truly is no ask yourself that Ben Sira discusses the placement of overseas international locations in numerous passages. The tone varies as a result of the given context. This research demonstrates that Ben Sira’s dating to overseas international locations is healthier outlined as “balanced”, as his perspective is neither completely antagonistic nor that of uncritically embracing Gentiles. at the foundation of sure passages, you may get the impact that even the foreigners can be recipients of the Torah. nevertheless, a few countries have been looked through prior biblical authors as archenemies of Israel, and those anti-elect humans triggered additionally Ben Sira’s anger to be provoked. Ben Sira was once deeply rooted in Judaism yet this didn't hinder him from being open towards overseas impacts so far as they have been appropriate along with his non secular and cultural background.

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Additional resources for Foreign Nations in the Wisdom of Ben Sira: A Jewish Sage between Opposition and Assimilation

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The Book of Job is completely silent in this respect. In the Book of Proverbs, the name "Israel" only occurs in the opening verse of the book, in the form of a heading. The Book of Qoheleth likewise refers to Israel only once, in the royal fiction that the author would have reigned as a king of Israel (Qoh 1:12). On the contrary, Ben Sira is the first author whom we know, who combined wisdom teaching and the history of his people into one and the same book. 114 You cannot repeat everything that is told in the 112 Gammie, "The Sage in Sirach," 360-361, considers the absence of the dietary laws in Sirach as a sign of Ben Sira's openness that was able to lead to conversations with foreigners.

115 But such things had happened in very ancient times and most of the biblical writers are rather uninterested in describing more closely the relationship between Yahweh and the Gentiles. In many narratives, legal and prophetic texts the foreign nations appear as something that should be avoided. The most repulsive adversaries seem to be the Canaanites, Philistines, Edomites, Moabites, and Midianites. Against these nations the Israelites often had to fight. The description of the conquest of the promised land (Josh 2 11) is probably the most horrible episode in the relationship between the Israelites and non-Israelites.

Even though the measures described in EzraNehemiah aimed at racial purity, they were still far from genocide. In fact, a close reading of Ezra-Nehemiah reveals that there is a passage where the foreigners separated from the other nations are allowed to join the Passover meal together with the Israelites who had returned from exile (Ezra 6:19-21; see also Neh 10:29). This is only possible for those foreigners who had abandoned the "pollutions" (idolatry) of the nations of the land and turned to worship the God of Israel.

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