Shrink of the Book

By Xavier Gillet, Bordeaux, France (xavier33300 on flickr) – Musée de Jérusalem – Israël, CC BY-SA 2.0,

A first century B.C. fragment of the Book of Ecclesiasticus, which was discovered at Masada in 1964, is on display through March at the Israel Museum’s Shrine of the Book. Ecclesiasticus, also called The Wisdom of Ben Sira, after its supposed author Jesus (son of) Sira, was written in about 170 B.C. It is a collection of maxims, didactic poems and pious psalms, each introduced by a poem in praise of wisdom or of the wise man. The purpose of the work seems to be moral, religious and practical instruction.

The Shrine of the Book, the museum of the Dead Sea Scrolls, will mount a new exhibition of ancient scroll fragments every 3 months. The Ecclesiasticus fragments from Masada are the second in the series of displays.