Temple Worship in Ben Sirach or Ecclesiasticus

David placed singers before the altar, to make sweet melody with their voices. Ecclesiasticus 47: 9.

The Inter-Testament Period

The apocryphal book Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) has Sirach describing the activities for the Day of Atonement which is consistent with the pre-Davidic use of multiple trumpets as signaling devices--

The text is the only apocryphal work whose author is known. It was written in Hebrew in Palestine around 180-175 BC by Ben Sira, who was probably a scribe well-versed in Jewish law and custom.

175: Jerusalem High Priest Jason builds gymnasium for Greek athletic games.

To strengthen his hold on the territory Antiochus attempts to smooth over the stubborn Jewish people. In an effort to do that Antiochus enforces Hellenistic culture in Judea. He builds a gymnasium next to the holy Temple in Jerusalem. He selects the pro-Greek Jew, Jason, for the high priesthood and establishes an ally in the highest Jewish office.

168: Antiochus IV plunders and desecrates Jerusalem Temple, erects Zeus altar

167: Antiochus IV abolishes Temple worship in Dec., Jews forced to eat pork.

167-164: Hasmonean (Maccabean) Revolt: Judean response to Antiochus IV

Sirach's only mention of "musical" instruments is in connection with wine an relaxation. However, the voice which God gave mankind is much more important than any "lifeless instrument."

Life is sweet for the self-reliant and the worker, but he who finds treasure is better off than both. Ecclesiasticus 40:18.

Children and the building of a city establish a man's name,
........... but a blameless wife is accounted better than both. Ecclesiasticus 40: 19.

Wine and music gladden the heart,
........... but the love of wisdom is better than both. Ecclesiasticus 40: 20.

The flute and the harp make pleasant melody,
........... but a pleasant voice is better than both. Ecclesiasticus 40: 21.

Ecclesiasticus or Sirach Chapter forty Seven

Like most descriptions of animal sacrifices at the restored temple, Sirach returns to David to show that he did not assign instrumental music AS worship which often occurred in connection with David's covenant with God as KING but not priest:

For he appealed to the Lord, the Most High, and he gave him strength in his right hand to slay a man mighty in war, to exalt the power of his people. Ecclesiasticus 47:5.

So they glorified him for his ten thousands, and praised him for the blessings of the Lord, when the glorious diadem was bestowed upon him. Ecclesiasticus 47: 6.

For he wiped out his enemies on every side,
........... and annihilated his adversaries the Philistines;
........... he crushed their power even to this day. Ecclesiasticus 47: 7.

While the names of musical instruments often occur, the context shows that they are figurative of the lips and heart. The musicians were under the king and commanders of the army for Temple affairs. However, Sirach notes that in a spiritual sense they made melody with their voices:

In all that he did he gave thanks to the Holy One, the Most High, with ascriptions of glory; Ecclesiasticus 47: 8.
........... he sang praise with all his heart, and he loved his Maker.

He placed singers before the altar,
........... to make sweet melody with their voices. Ecclesiasticus 47: 9.

He gave beauty to the feasts, and arranged their times throughout the year, while they praised God's holy name, and the sanctuary resounded from early morning. Ecclesiasticus 47: 10.

The Lord took away his sins, and exalted his power for ever;
........... he gave him the covenant of kings and a throne of glory in Israel. Ecclesiasticus 47: 11.

However, Sirach reminds us that God gave Israel kings as punishment and not to become "musical worship ministers."

How glorious you were, O Elijah, in your wondrous deeds! And who has the right to boast which you have? Ecclesiasticus 48:4.

You who raised a corpse from death and from Hades, by the word of the Most High; Ecclesiasticus 48: 5.

who brought kings down to destruction, and famous men from their beds; Ecclesiasticus 48: 6.
heard rebuke at Sinai and judgments of vengeance at Horeb; Ecclesiasticus 48: 7.
........... who anointed kings to inflict retribution,
........... and prophets to succeed you. Ecclesiasticus 48: 8.

O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help. Hosea 13:9

I will be thy king: where is any other that may save thee in all thy cities? and thy judges of whom thou saidst, Give me a king and princes? Hosea 13:10

I gave thee a king in mine anger, and took him away in my wrath. Hosea 13:11

Ecclesiasticus or Sirach Chapter Fifty

In other examples, the "congregation of Israel" consisted of the king, Priests, Levites and "representatives" or "stationary men" at sacrifices. The general population would be "outside the gate" or "outside the camp." Not at the altar.

Remembering other leaders who fortified Jerusalem against the enemy and worshiped, Sirach notes that:

The leader of his brethren and the pride of his people was Simon the high priest, son of Onias, who in his life repaired the house, and in his time fortified the temple. Ecclesiasticus 50: 1.

He laid the foundations for the high double walls, the high retaining walls for the temple enclosure. Ecclesiasticus 50: 2.

In his days a cistern for water was quarried out, a reservoir like the sea in circumference. Ecclesiasticus 50: 3.

He considered how to save his people from ruin,
........... and fortified the city to withstand a seige. Ecclesiasticus 50: 4.

How glorious he was when the people gathered round him as he came out of the inner sanctuary! Ecclesiasticus 50: 5.

Like the morning star among the clouds, like the moon when it is full; Ecclesiasticus 50: 6.

like the sun shining upon the temple of the Most High, and like the rainbow gleaming in glorious clouds; Ecclesiasticus 50: 7.

like roses in the days of the first fruits, like lilies by a spring of water, like a green shoot on Lebanon on a summer day; Ecclesiasticus 50: 8.

like fire and incense in the censer, like a vessel of hammered gold adorned with all kinds of precious stones; Ecclesiasticus 50: 9.

Jamison-Fausett-Brown notes that:

"In the Jewish temple, musical instruments and singing resounded during the whole time of the offering of the sacrifices, which formed the first part of the service.

But at the offering of incense, solemn silence was kept ("My soul waiteth upon God," Ps 62:1; "is silent," Margin; Ps 65:1, Margin),

Duwmiyyah (h1747) doo-me-yaw'; from 1819; stillness; adv. silently; abstr. quiet, trust: - silence, silent, waiteth.

the people praying secretly all the time. The half-hour stillness implies, too, the earnest adoring expectation with which the blessed spirits and the angels await the succeeding unfolding of God's judgments. A short space is implied; for even an hour is so used (Re 17:12 18:10,19).

like an olive tree putting forth its fruit, and like a cypress towering in the clouds. Ecclesiasticus 50: 10.

When he put on his glorious robe and clothed himself with superb perfection and went up to the holy altar, he made the court of the sanctuary glorious. Ecclesiasticus 50: 11.

And when he received the portions from the hands of the priests, as he stood by the hearth of the altar with a garland of brethren around him, he was like a young cedar on Lebanon; and they surrounded him like the trunks of palm trees, Ecclesiasticus 50: 12.

Trumpets to Signal Only

all the sons of Aaron in their splendor with the Lord's offering in their hands, before the whole congregation of Israel. Ecclesiasticus 50: 13.

Finishing the service at the altars, and arranging the offering to the Most High, the Almighty, Ecclesiasticus 50: 14.

he reached out his hand to the cup and poured a libation of the blood of the grape; he poured it out at the foot of the altar, a pleasing odor to the Most High, the King of all. Ecclesiasticus 50: 15.

Then the sons of Aaron shouted, they sounded the trumpets of hammered work, they made a great noise to be heard for remembrance before the Most High. Ecclesiasticus 50: 16.

This was the ordained purpose of the silver trumpets:

And if ye go to war in your land against the enemy that oppresseth you, then ye shall blow an alarm with the trumpets; and ye shall be remembered before the Lord your God, and ye shall be saved from your enemies. Num 10:9

Again, only a select few were at the altar while the people were outside the gates. This is why there was a great sound produced. This was a signal to those outside of the gates to fall down and worship:

Then all the people together made haste and fell to the ground upon their faces to worship their Lord, the Almighty, God Most High. Ecclesiasticus 50: 17.

And the singers praised him with their voices in sweet and full-toned melody. Ecclesiasticus 50: 18.

Melody in the heart is quite common:

I call (Mention, burn incense) to remembrance my song (h5058) in the night: I commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search. Psalm 77:6

The song can be with or without instruments:

Negiynah (h5058) neg-ee-naw'; from 5059; prop. instrumental music; by impl. a stringed instrument; by extens. a poem set to music; spec. an epigram: - stringed instrument, musick, Neginoth [plur.], song

The melody is in the heart rather than upon a harp because it is silent "speaking to yourself":

Siyach (h7878) see'-akh; a prim. root; to ponder, i. e. (by impl.) converse (with oneself, and hence aloud) or (trans.) utter: - commune, complain, declare, meditate, muse, pray, speak, talk (with)

Search is: Chaphas (h2664) khaw-fas'; a prim. root; to seek; causat. to conceal oneself (i. e. let be sought), or mask: - change, (make) diligent (search), disguise self, hide, search (for, out).

And the people besought the Lord Most High in prayer before him who is merciful, till the order of worship of the Lord was ended; so they completed his service. Ecclesiasticus 50: 19.

After the clergy ritual was over,

Then Simon came down, and lifted up his hands over the whole congregation of the sons of Israel, to pronounce the blessing of the Lord with his lips, and to glory in his name; Ecclesiasticus 50: 20.

and they bowed down in worship a second time, to receive the blessing from the Most High. Ecclesiasticus 50: 21.

Consistent with the entire Old Testament, when the people "worshiped" while the priests offered animal sacrifices, the trumpets issued signals but "musical" instruments were not used.

We note in the temple story of Hezekiah, the blood atonement was made without instruments. However, the king of Judah decided to make a burnt and peace offering for the nation of Israel. The musical instruments of David the king made a loud noise during the burning process.


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