A good life has its number of days,
But a good name continues forever.
Consistent with the orthodox wisdom school, he taught that rewards for right living came in this life:
Delight not in the delights of the wicked;
Remember they shall not go unpunished to the grave.
Even though he lacked the inspiration of future hope, Ben Sira taught loyalty to God and fidelity to every duty. Justice toward all, consideration for the needs of the suffering and dependent, and generosity to the poor are constantly urged by this noblest Jew of the age.
[Sidenote: I Macc. 1:10-15] Now there came forth from [Alexander’s successors] a sinful root, Antiochus Epiphanes, son of Antiochus the king, who had been a hostage at Rome, and he began to reign in the one hundred and thirty-seventh year of the Syrian rule (175 B.C.). In those days there appeared certain lawless Israelites who persuaded many, saying, Let us go and make a covenant with the heathen about us; for since we have stood aloof from them many evils have befallen us. And the proposal met with approval. And certain of the people were ready to do it, and went to the king who gave them the right to do as the heathen. Then they built a place for gymnastic exercise in Jerusalem according to the customs of the heathen. They also made themselves uncircumcised, and, forsaking the holy covenant, fraternized with the heathen, and sold themselves to do evil.
[Sidenote: I Macc. 1:16-19] Now when Antiochus saw that his authority was well established, he thought to reign over Egypt, that he might reign over the two kingdoms. So he invaded Egypt with a great multitude, with chariots and elephants and horsemen, and with a great navy. And he made war against Ptolemy, king of Egypt. And Ptolemy was defeated by him and fled, and many fell mortally wounded. And they seized the strong cities in the land of Egypt, and he took the spoils of Egypt.
[Sidenote: I Macc. 1:20-22, 24-28] Then after Antiochus had conquered Egypt he returned in the hundred and forty-third year (169 B.C.) and went up against Israel and Jerusalem with a great multitude. And he insolently went into the sanctuary, and took the golden altar, and the candelabrum, and all that belonged to the table of the showbread, and the cups for libations, and the bowls, and the golden censers, and the curtain and the garlands; and the decorations which were on the front of the temple—he scaled them all off. And taking all, he went away into his own land, after he had made a great slaughter, and had spoken very insolently. Thus a great mourning came to the Israelites wherever they were.
And the rulers and elders groaned, he virgins and young men were made feeble. And the beauty of the women was changed.
Every bridegroom took up a lamentation,
She that sat in the marriage chamber was in heaviness.
And the land was shaken because of its inhabitants,
And all the house of Jacob was clothed with shame.