In 1851 Hildesheimer was appointed rabbi of the Austro-Hungarian community of Eisenstadt; there he reorganized the educational system and established a yeshivah, where secular studies were included in the curriculum. The yeshivah was highly successful, and students came there from all over Europe. However, the great majority of Orthodox Hungarian rabbis bitterly opposed his modernism and the institution he created. In 1869 Hildesheimer accepted a call from Berlin to become rabbi of the newly founded Orthodox congregation, Adass Jisroel. In 1873 he established a rabbinical seminary which later became the central institution for the training of Orthodox rabbis in Europe. Hildesheimer shared with S. R. Hirsch the leadership of the Orthodox Jewish community of Germany. He was an active worker on behalf of stricken Jewish communities throughout the world. Throughout his life, he was an enthusiastic supporter of Palestine Jewry and the building of the yishuv. The Battei Mahaseh dwellings in the Old City of Jerusalem were erected on his initiative. In 1872 he founded a Palaestina Verein with the object of raising the educational and vocational standards of Jerusalem Jews, particularly by the establishment in 1879 of an orphanage. This drew on his head the bitter antagonism of the ultra-Orthodox old yishuv, which placed him under a ban (herem). Hildesheimer supported the Hovevei Zion and the colonization movement.
The book can be divided into three parts. Chapters 1–5 deal with eschatology, 6–11 deal with wisdom, and 11–19 are a Midrash on the Exodus from Egypt with a Hellenistic presentation. The purpose of the book is to strengthen the Jewish believer against the seduction of idolatry. The problem of the sufferings of the righteous, already discussed in the Bible, is dealt with here against the background of Hellenistic thought. The punishment of the righteous serves the purpose of "testing" or "educating," but his reward is granted in the world to come.
As far as the language is concerned, a conscious effort is made to imitate biblical style, including parallelism, but construction of the sentences is Greek and is polished. There is a tendency toward alliteration, paranomasia, and complex words rare even in Greek. Opinions differ as to the composition of the book. Some are of the opinion that the first part was written in Hebrew, others consider the whole book to have been written in Hebrew, while yet others divide it among various authors all of whom wrote in Greek. However, the composition of the Greek words, the use of assonance, the rhythmic construction and the imagery (crowning the head with flowers, the victory processions of athletes, etc.) in all parts of the work alike support the view that it was written in Greek by one person, apparently in Alexandria. The date of composition is uncertain.