December 09, 2002 Copyright © by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
- 1 From him was to spring the man who won the favor of all: Dear to God and men, MOSES, whose memory is held in benediction.
- 2 God's honor devolved upon him, and the Lord strengthened him with fearful powers;
- God wrought swift miracles at his words and sustained him in the king's presence. He gave him the commandments for his people, and revealed to him his glory.
- For his trustworthiness and meekness God selected him from all mankind;
- 3 He permitted him to hear his voice, and led him into the cloud, Where, face to face, he gave him the commandments, the law of life and understanding, That he might teach his precepts to Jacob, his judgments and decrees to Israel.
- 4 He raised up also, like Moses in holiness, his brother AARON, of the tribe of Levi.
- 5 He made him perpetual in his office when he bestowed on him the priesthood of his people; He established him in honor and crowned him with lofty majesty;
- He clothed him with splendid apparel, and adorned him with the glorious vestments: Breeches and tunic and robe with pomegranates around the hem,
- And a rustle of bells round about, through whose pleasing sound at each step He would be heard within the sanctuary, and the children of his race would be remembered;
- The sacred vestments of gold, of violet, and of crimson, wrought with embroidery; The breastpiece for decision, the ephod and cincture
- with scarlet yarn, the work of the weaver; Precious stones with seal engravings in golden settings, the work of the jeweler, To commemorate in incised letters each of the tribes of Israel;
- On his turban the diadem of gold, its plate wrought with the insignia of holiness, Majestic, glorious, renowned for splendor, a delight to the eyes, beauty supreme.
- Before him, no one was adorned with these, nor may they ever be worn by any Except his sons and them alone, generation after generation, for all time.
- His cereal offering is wholly burnt with the established sacrifice twice each day;
- For Moses ordained him and anointed him with the holy oil, In a lasting covenant with him and with his family, as permanent as the heavens, That he should serve God in his priesthood and bless his people in his name.
- He chose him from all mankind to offer holocausts and choice offerings, To burn sacrifices of sweet odor for a memorial, and to atone for the people of Israel.
- He gave to him his laws, and authority to prescribe and to judge: To teach the precepts to his people, and the ritual to the descendants of Israel.
- Men of other families were inflamed against him, were jealous of him in the desert, The followers of Dathan and Abiram, and the band of Korah in their defiance.
- But the LORD saw this and became angry, he destroyed them in his burning wrath. He brought down upon them a miracle, and consumed them with his flaming fire.
- Then he increased the glory of Aaron and bestowed upon him his inheritance: The sacred offerings he allotted to him, with the showbread as his portion;
- The oblations of the LORD are his food, a gift to him and his descendants.
- But he holds no land among the people nor shares with them their heritage; For the LORD himself is his portion, his inheritance in the midst of Israel.
- PHINEHAS too, the son of Eleazar, was the courageous third of his line When, zealous for the God of all, he met the crisis of his people And, at the prompting of his noble heart, atoned for the children of Israel.
- Therefore on him again God conferred the right, in a covenant of friendship, to provide for the sanctuary, So that he and his descendants should possess the high priesthood forever.
- For even his covenant with David, the son of Jesse of the tribe of Judah, Was an individual heritage through one son alone; but the heritage of Aaron is for all his descendants.
- And now bless the LORD who has crowned you with glory! May he grant you wisdom of heart to govern his people in justice, Lest their welfare should ever be forgotten, or your authority, throughout all time.
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1 [1-5] Moses manifested God's power through miracles (Sirach 45:1-3), God's authority through the promulgation of the commandments and the law (Sirach 45:5), and God's mercy through the intimacy granted him by the Lord for his own faithfulness and meekness (Sirach 45:4-5). The very personification of the old covenant, Moses was also a type of Christ, the Prophet and Legislator of the new; cf Deut 18:15.
2  God's honor devolved upon him: Moses was actually God's substitute in dealing with Pharaoh, hence God entrusted his own honor to Moses.
3  Face to face: on God's intimacy with Moses, see Exodus 33:11; Numbers 12:8. St. Paul alluded to this in 1 Cor 13:12.
4 [6-21] The author here expresses his reverence and esteem for the priesthood of the old covenant. He recalls God's choice of Aaron and his sons for this sublime office (Sirach 45:6, 7), and describes in detail the beauty of the high priest's vestments (Sirach 45:8-13). He relates the ordination of Aaron at the hands of Moses, his brother (Sirach 45:15), and describes the priestly functions, of offering sacrifice to God (Sirach 45:16), and of blessing (Sirach 45:15), teaching, governing and judging the people (Sirach 45:17); the inheritance of the high priest (Sirach 45:20-22); the punishment of those families who were jealous of Aaron (Sirach 45:18, 19); and the confirmation of the covenant of the priesthood with Aaron's descendants through Phinehas (Sirach 45:23-25).
5  The priesthood of Aaron was superseded by the priesthood of Christ; cf Hebrews 7:18-28.
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