This study explores whether Ben Sira’s textual use of the Psalms may shed light on the Qumran Psalms Scroll debate. It is proposed that Ben Sira’s quotations of Psalms 104, 147, and 148 in Sir 43:11–19 could point us to which Psalter Ben Sira may have used, since these three psalms are found in close proximity to each other in 11QPsa and 4QPsd. Doing so will allow us to better gauge Ben Sira’s relationship to 11QPsa. Issues such as the 364-day calendar, Sir 51:13–30, and pluriformity are considered. This article finds that the debate is still open as to which Psalter Ben Sira used, either proposal equally remaining possible at this stage, needing more analysis from the rest of Ben Sira’s text. Remarkably the examples and analysis do not yield anything yet to positively disqualify the 11QPsa-Psalter from being used by Ben Sira.
The relationship between Simon II (220–c. 195 B. C. E.) and Ben Sira bears much upon the context and dating of the Book of Ben Sira. The setting of patronage and reciprocity in the Mediterranean world raises problems with the common interpretation of Sir 50:1–24 as a eulogy for Simon II. The label of encomium for Sirach 44–50, and the identification of Simon the Righteous, are likewise considered. This article explores reciprocity in Ben Sira’s text, as well as Greek, Roman, and Second Temple examples of patronage, including Tobias in the Zenon archive, Jewish funerary inscriptions, Herod the Great, Aristeas, and 1 Maccabees 12. It is argued that a more fitting way of understanding Sir 50:1–24 and the importance of reciprocity in Ben Sira’s text is that Simon II might be considered as alive at the time of writing, and a probable patronage relationship can be posited. An earlier dating of around 198 B. C. E. is proposed for Sir 50:1–24, if not the entire Book of Ben Sira.