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Book of Wisdom

Introduction

Book of Wisdom was written in Greek, probably in Alexandria, around the turn of the millennium. It was in use during the times of Yesu our Lord and Philo of Alexandria. Yesu knew Book of Wisdom and the tradition in which it stands. The Scriptures produced by the Church reflect clearly how the Wisdom Tradition served as a foundation upon which Yesu built his teaching for us.

By the second century the Fathers of the western church often used Book of Wisdom and it became reverently known by Indo-Persian Christians from the start. The tenets of the book reaches further back in history than the priest-king Melchizedek, who brought the faith down to the Mediterranean to prepare the way for the new dispensation. Book of Wisdom is a tribute to King Solomon the patriarch of the Wisdom Tradition of the Mediterranean. It is a highly mystical book and uses midrash and allegory throughout.

Book of Wisdom is a refreshing and challenging book. It leaves little doubt in one’s mind that the search for the inner knowledge of God, and practising of the mysteries and the mystical devotions are what constitutes the Purpose of Life. Christians can read the book in retrospect and understand how Yesu became Christ when he attained the Mother, Wisdom our God, and how he relinquished his will to align with the Will of the Father. The conclusion of the book reminds us that Yesu’s miracles are, as he told us, only the beginning of the wonders – He calls us to do greater things than he did, because we are to follow in Christ’s footsteps and reign.

Themes

A brief discussion of some of the themes follows below.

Sovereign rulers

The book starts by drawing both on Genesis and the imagery of king Solomon. The author reminds us that God calls us to reign over creation – which includes not only God’s garden, nature as we know it, but human nature as well. This aspect of the theme is also what the last two verses in the conclusion are about.

The question ‘How are we to reign’, is the central message of the book. By allegorizing the well documented early Israelite history the author supplies answers to the central question. S/he builds up a distinct soteriology that Yesu would echo some years later. The author uses the thesis, antithesis, hypothesis rhetoric of his time and expertly puts this masterpiece together in clear and refreshing volleys. The first verse (1:1) tells us the secret of how we can obtain the power to reign. In last five verses (19:18-22) the author tells us that those who conquer here have seen only the tip of the iceberg and have great and marvellous things in store – and those who do not conquer are, ‘being surrounded with horrible great darkness, everyone groping for passage through his own door’.

Book of Wisdom connects with Tao Teh Ching on many levels, the most striking of which is the ‘reigning’ theme. The message of the Tao Teh Ching is that we attain mastery over our natures by following the flow of the Energies of God, the Tao. Book of Wisdom shares the same concern and approaches the subject from a Hebrew-Judaic look at the flow of history and nature. Both Scriptures are challenging, each in its own peculiar manner.

Central Doctrine

The central doctrine of the Book occupies the first half of the work. Book of Wisdom explains the Godhead in three parts. First the author discusses the Sophia, Wisdom, the feminine emanation of God, then the author addresses the Father aspect, after which s/he talks to God for the duration of the book. Toward the end of the book it becomes clear that, we need evolved beings both to instruct and intermediate for the Godloving, and that creation serves these holy ones to the end of maintaining the True teaching.

Idolatry

If the question ‘How are we to reign’ is the central question of the book, then the repeated answer is ‘not by idolatry!’. The author uses many different examples, and freely allegorizes it, to bring the point of the various forms of idiolatry across. According to the Tradition idolatry is the beginning and end of all evil, and it takes a variety of forms. Various forms of idiolatry are used as example, such as: materialism, superstition, self-indulgence, slaving for the passions and other. Book of Wisdom internalises and uses the Exodus theme to show repeatedly how slavery, imprisonment, ignorance, and self-deceit are responsible for most of the suffering.

Karma and Dharma

The doctrine of Karma is heavily drawn on to repeatedly show how the Merciful Plan of God comes to our rescue. To this end we are often warned, reprimanded, provided with guidance and punished – to fulfil only one aim – salvation of souls. Regarding one’s duty as a child of God (dharma), the book has ample resources.

Reincarnation

The central doctrines of the eastern Yesu Way: – the pre-existence of the spirit; the body, soul, spirit, triad; with its seven prominent and twelve subtle aspects — all find a very early literary expression in Book of Wisdom. These are however not major concerns for the author and s/he does not slow down to explain them, as if the author understands that the audience is conversant with the teaching.

Godless and Godloving

The Godless are those who choose to acknowledge other gods and serve them diligently (whether they be materialism, egoism, self, supposed powers or deities), turning their backs on the One God. The ‘upright’ or ‘righteous’ are those who follow in the Way to deification and acknowledge they are children of God – Book of Wisdom also calls them the Godloving.


Book of Wisdom: Chapters 1 - 6

Chapter 1

1 Love uprightness,1 you that be rulers of the earth: 2 meditate on God with a good heart, and in simplicity of heart seek him.

2 For he will be found by those who do not put him to the test; and will reveal himself to those who do not mistrust him.

3 Perverse thoughts separate people from the Power of God: and that Power, when it is put to the test, confounds the stupid.

4 For into the soul of a wrong-doer Wisdom shall not enter; nor will she dwell in a body that is enslaved to sin.3

5 For the Holy Spirit of instruction will flee from deceitfulness, and recoils from thoughts that are without understanding, and will not remain when vice comes in.

6 For Wisdom is a loving Spirit; though she will not let a blasphemer go unpunished: since God observes the very mind, and beholds the heart with accuracy, and is conscious of every word.

7 For the Spirit of God fills the world: and that Spirit which holds in itself all things has knowledge of every word spoken.

8 Therefore they that speak what is wrong cannot go undetected: neither will avenging justice pass by them.

9 For examination will be made into the very schemes of the God-less: and the report of their words come unto God to convict them of their evil.

10 For the ear of jealousy hears all things: and the noise of murmurs does not escape it.

11 Therefore beware of frivolous complaints, which is unprofitable; and restrain your tongue from finding fault with the way things are: for there is no word so secret, that shall go undetected: and the mouth that lies kills the soul.

12 Seek not death by the error of your ways: and pull not upon yourselves destruction with the works of your hands.

13 For God did not make Death4 neither has he pleasure in the destruction of the living.

14 To Be – for this God created all things; the creatures of the universes are healing creatures, they do not have dying natures.

15 And the destructive power of Hades has no hold over them; for the power of uprightness is immortality.

Life as the self-indulgent see it

16 But the self-indulgent court after Death with deed and word, counting him among their friends, and they slave themselves weary for him; making a pact with him, since they are worthy to belong to him.

Chapter 2

1 For the Godless said, reasoning with themselves, but stupidly. “Our life is short and tedious, and in the death of a man there is no remedies: neither was there any man known to have returned from the grave.

2 For we are born by chance: and we shall be hereafter as though we had never been: for the breath in our nostrils is as smoke, and reason is a little spark from the beat of our heart;

3 When this is extinguished, our body shall be turned into ashes, and our spirit shall melt away as the soft air,

4 And our name shall be forgotten in time, and no person shall remember our works, and our life shall pass away as the trace of a cloud - and it will vanish as a mist that is driven away with the beams of the sun, and will be overcome with the heat thereof.

5 For our time is a shadow that pass away; and after our end there is no returning: for it is sealed, so that no man comes back again.

6 Come on then, let us enjoy the good things of today: and let use created things with the zeal of youth.

7 Let us fill ourselves with costly wine and ointments; and let no flower of the spring air pass us by:

8 Let us crown ourselves with rosebuds, before they wither:

9 let no meadow be excluded from our orgy: let us leave the marks of joyfulness in every place: for this is our portion, and this is our lot.

10 Let us oppress the poor, the meek and the upright; let us not spare the widow, nor respect the aged, white-haired with many years.5

11 Let our strength be the rule of justice: for that which is weak is by reason of no worth.6

12 Therefore let us lay traps for the upright; since they oppose and annoy us: they reproach us for offending the Law, and accuse us of sins against our upbringing.

13 They (the upright) claim to have knowledge of God: and they call themselves children of God.

14 They seem to have been made only to reprove our thoughts

15 The very sight of them is grievous to us for their lives are not like other people’s, their ways are of another fashion.

16 In their opinion we are counterfeits: they abstain from our ways as they would from filth they pronounce the end of their lives to be blessed and they boast that God is their father

17 Let us see if their words be true and let us test what shall happen to them in the end.

18 For if the upright man is the son of God, then God will help him, and deliver him from the hand of his enemies.

19 Let us examine this with cruelty and torture, that we may explore their gentleness, and test their patience.

20 Let us condemn them to a shameful death: for God will rescue them - or so they claim."

Their Error

21 Such things they did reason, but they are misled: for their malice has blinded them.

22 As for the mysteries of God, they knew them not: neither could they hope for the wages of uprightness, nor did they understand the reward for blameless souls.

23 For God created human beings to be immortal, and made them to be as an image of his own eternal nature.

24 The Death was brought into the world through the envy of the Satan: and they that follow his ways, worship him and are his children and they find his reward.

Chapter 3

Compared Destinies

1 But the souls of the upright are in the hand of God, and there shall no misery touch them

2 In the eye of the unenlightened the upright seem to die after their departure. And their departure is taken for misery,

3 and their going from us to be utter destruction: but they are in peace.

4 For though, in the sight of the unenlightened they may haveseemed to suffer punishment in life, yet their hope is of immortality.

5 And having been a little chastised in that life, they shall be greatly rewarded: for God put them to the test, purifying them, and found them worthy for himself.

6 As gold in the furnace has he tried them, an received them as an offering.

7 And in the time of their judgement, their light shall shine, running to and fro as sparks run through the stubble.

8 They shall judge nations, and have dominion over their people, and their God shall reign in them for ever.

9 They that trust in him shall come to understand the truth: and the faithful ones shall live with him in love: for grace and mercy await his holy ones, and he intervenes on behalf of his chosen.

10 But the Godless shall be punished for their reasoning, and for having neglected the upright, and forsaken God.

11 For whoever despises Wisdom and discipline they are miserable7, and their hope is in vain, their labours unfruitful and their achievements unprofitable:

12 Their wives are foolish, and their children viced:

13 Their offspring is cursed.

On Spiritual Alliances and its offspring

Therefore blessed is the barren womb that is undefiled, which has not known the sinful bed: she shall have fruit in the judgement of souls.8

14 And blessed is the eunuch,9 which with his hand commits no wrong, nor thought wicked things against God: for unto him shall be given the special gift of faith and an inheritance in the temple of God more acceptable to his mind.

15 The fruit of good labour is glorious,10 it is the root of understanding which shall not decay.

16 As for the children of adulterers11 they shall not come to maturity, and the offspring of an unrighteous bed shall be rooted out.

17 Even in they live long, yet shall they be counted as nothing: and their old age shall be without honour.

18 Or, if they die quickly, they neither hope or comfort in the day of the trial.

19 For horrible is the end of the unrighteous generation.

Chapter 4

1 Better it is to have no children, and to have virtue: for the memory thereof is immortal: because it is recognised by God and by humans.12

2 When virtue is present, humans; imitate it, when it is absent, humans long for it: when it is crowned it triumphs for eternity having striven for untainted prizes and gained victory.13

3 But the multiplying brood of the Godless shall not thrive, grown from bastard slips, they will not root deeply and they will not lay any firm foundations.

4 Though they may flourish as branches for a while; yet on unsteady foundations they shall be shaken with the wind, and through the force of the storms they shall be uprooted.

5 The imperfect branches shall be broken off, their fruit unprofitable, not ripe to eat, yes, good for noting.

6 For children begotten of unlawful beds are witnesses of wickedness against their parents in their trial.

What true long-life is to be counted as.

7 Though the upright be prevented with death to live to an old age, yet shall they be in peace.

8 For honourable age is not that which stands in length of time, nor that which is measured by number of years.

9 But wisdom is what ‘gray hair’ is about to humans, and an unstained life is what ‘ripe old age’ is.

10 He gained favour with God, and was loved by him: whilst living among sinners he was translated.14

11 Yes he was quickly taken away, before the evil of this place should warp his understanding, or deceit should seduce his soul.

12 For the fascination of evil throws a shadow on things that are good, and the whirlwind of desire corrupts the simple mind.

13 That soul, having been made perfect in a short time, fulfilled a long time:

14 For his soul pleased God: therefore she was hurriedly withdrawn from among the weakness around her.

15 This the people see and don’t understand and it does not enter their thoughts that grace and mercy await God’s chosen ones, and that he intervenes on behalf of his holy ones

16 Thus it is how the upright that died shall condemn the Godless which are living, and youth that is soon perfected condemn the many years and old age of the God-less.

17 People see the end of the wise, and shall not understand what God has in store for them, and to what end God has set them in safety.

18 They, look on and sneer, but God shall laugh at them; soon they will be objects of horror among the dead, and corpses without honour.

19 For he shall rend them, and cast them down headlong, that they shall be speechless; and he shall shake them from the foundation; and they shall be utterly laid waste, and be prey to sorrow; and their memory will perish.15

Judgement day for the God-less

20 And when the account of their ways are drawn up, they shall approach with fear: and their own iniquities shall convince them to their face.

Chapter 5

1 Then shall the upright stand in great boldness before the face of such as have oppressed him, and thought so little of his sufferings.

2 When they see it, they shall be troubled with terrible fear, and shall be amazed at the strangeness that he was so unexpectedly saved, so far beyond all that they valued in life.

3 And they, repenting and groaning for anguish of spirit will say within themselves, “This was he, whom we used to mock, making him the receiver of our insults, making fools of ourselves.

4 We fools thought his life to be madness, and his end to be without honour:

5 How is he numbered among the children of God, and his lot is among the holy ones?16

6 Clearly have we made an error in our judgement regarding the Way of truth, the light of uprightness has not shined from us, and the sun has not risen for us.

7 We wearied ourselves in the way of wickedness and destruction: yes, we have gone through deserts, where there lay no way: but as for the Way of God, we have not known it.

8 What has pride profited us? or what good has our riches and arrogance been to us?

9 All those things have passed away like a shadow, like a fleeting rumour,

10 as a ship that slips over the waves of the water, which when it is gone by, no trace of it can be found, not even the furrow of the keel in the waves;

11 Or as when a bird has flown through the air, there is no token of her way to be found, but the light air being beaten with the stroke of her wings and parted with the violent noise and motion of them, is passed through, and therein afterwards no sign where she went is to be found;

12 Or like as when an arrow is shot at a mark, it parts the air, which immediately comes together again so that a person cannot know where it went though:

13 Even so did we, as soon as we were born we began to disappear, and no sign of virtue is there to show; but we have spent ourselves in our wickedness!

14 For the hope of the Godless is like dust that is blown away with the wind; like a thin foam that is driven away with the storm like smoke which is disperses here and here with a wind, and passes away as the remembrance of a guest that visited but a day.

How the Godloving will experience their victory

15 But the upright live for evermore; their reward also is with God, and the care of them is with the Most High.

16 There shall they receive a glorious kingdom, and a beautiful crown from the Lord’s hand : for God will cover them with his right hand, and with his arm will he protect them.

17 For armour he shall put on his jealous love, and he will make creation so as to punish his enemies.

18 He shall put on uprightness as a breastplate, and true judgement instead of a helmet.

19 He shall take holiness for an invincible shield.

20 His severe wrath shall he sharpen for a sword, and the universe will fight with him against the reckless

21 Then shall shafts of lightning shoot from above, as from a well drawn bow shall they fly to the mark.

22 And hailstones full of fury will be cast as out from a catapult, and the water of the sea shall rage against them, and the rivers shall drown them mercilessly.

23 Yes, a mighty wind shall stand up against them, and like a storm shall blow them away. This is how evil can lay waste the whole earth, and wickedness will bring down the thrones of the mighty. 17

We are all rulers who must seek Wisdom

Chapter 6

1 Hear therefore, O you kings, and understand; learn, you that may be judges of the ends of the earth.

2 Give ear, you that rule your people, and receive glory in the multitude of nations.

3 For power is given you of God, and sovereignty from the Most High, who shall test your works, and search through your counsels.18

4 Because, being ministers of his kingdom, you have not judged aright, nor kept the law, nor walked after the counsel of God;

5 Horribly and speedily shall he come upon you: for a sharp judgment shall be to them that be in high places.

6 For mercy will soon come to the humble: but mighty men shall be mightily judged.

7 For he which is God over all shall fear no person’s stature, and neither shall he stand in awe of person’s greatness: for he has made the small and great, and cares for all alike.

8 But a sore trial shall come upon those who wield power.

9 Unto you therefore, O kings, do I speak, that you may gain Wisdom, and not fall into error.

10 For they that observe holy things in a holy manner will be judged in a holy manner: and they that have learned such things shall find in them what to answer at the trial.

11 Set your heart upon my words; truly desire them, and you will be instructed.

Finding Wisdom starts with seeking Wisdom

12 Wisdom shines brightly, she never fades away: yes, she is easily seen by them that love her, and is found by those that seek her.

13 She anticipates those that desire her by making herself known to them first.

14 Whoever sees her from early on shall have no great travail: for they shall find her sitting at their doors.

15 Meditating on her is understanding in its perfect form, and whoever watches in the night, shall soon be without care.19

16 For she goes about seeking those who are worthy of her, she shows herself benevolently in their ways, and meets them in their every thought.

17 For the very true beginning of her is the desire of discipline and instruction; and the care of discipline and instruction is to love her;

18 and love is the keeping of her laws; and the keeping of her laws is the assurance of incorruption;

19 and incorruption brings us close to God:20

20 the desire of Wisdom therefore leads to sovereignty

21 If your delight is in thrones and sceptres, O you kings of the people, then honour Wisdom, that you may reign for evermore.21

The author promises to describe Wisdom

22 As for Wisdom, what she is, and how she came about, I will tell you, and will not hide the mysteries from you; I will follow her steps from the beginning of her birth, and bring the knowledge of her into light, and I will not pass over the truth.

23 I will not walk in consuming envy; for such a man shall have no fellowship with Wisdom.

24 But the greater the number of wise people the greater the welfare of the world: and a wise king is the upholding of the people.

25 Receive therefore instruction through my words, and it shall do you good.


 

Book of Wisdom: Chapters 7 - 13

Chapter 7

1 I myself also am a mortal, like all other human beings, and I am the offspring of the first humans,

2 and in my mothers womb, in the span of ten months, I was made to be flesh, in blood I was made into substance the result of virile seed and pleasure, the companion of sleep,

3 and when I was born, I too drew in the common air, and fell upon the earth, which is of like nature to me, and the first voice which I uttered was crying, as all others do.

4 I was nursed in swaddling clothes, and that with much care.

5 For there is no King that had any other beginning of birth.

6 For all humans have one entrance into life, and one way of going out.22

7 So I prayed, and understanding was given me: I called upon God, and the spirit of Wisdom came to me.

8 I preferred her before sceptres and thrones, and Thought riches to be nothing in comparison with her

9 I also do not compare her to tiny precious stone, because all gold in respect of her is as a little sand, and silver shall be counted as clay before her.

10 I loved her above health and beauty, and chose to have her instead of light: for the light that comes from her never fades out.

11 In her company all good things came to me, and innumerable riches came by her hands.

12 And I delighted in them all, because Wisdom commands them as their mistress: and I knew not that she was the mother of them.

13 What I learned diligently, I will communicate liberally: I shall not hide her riches.

14 For she is a treasure to people that never fails: which they that use of it become the friends of God, being commended for the gifts that come from learning.

15 May God grant me to speak as he would want me to, and to put thoughts in me worthy of the gifts I have received: because it is God which guides Wisdom, and directs the enlightened sages.

16 For in God’s hand are lie both we and our wise sayings; and all knowledge of the spiritual mind and the intellectual mind.

17 For God has given me certain knowledge of the things that exist, namely, to know the structure of the world and the operation of the elements:

18 the beginning, ending, and middle of the times: the alternations of the turning about the sun, and the change of seasons:

19 the cycles of years, and the positions of stars:

20 the natures of living creatures, and the furies of wild beasts: the violence of winds, and human reasoning: the diversities of plants and the virtues of roots:

21 and all such things as are either secret or manifest, them I know.

22 For Wisdom, the designer and maker of all things, has instructed me.

Within her is an intelligent spirit; holy, unique, manifold, subtle, lively, penetrating, undefiled; comprehensible, invulnerable, benevolent, shrewd, irresistible, beneficent, friendly to human beings;

23 steadfast, dependable, free from care, omnipotent, omniscient, penetrating all intelligence, pure and most subtle of spirits.23

24 For Wisdom is more moving than any motion: she pervades and permeates all things by reason of her pureness.

25 For she is the breath of the power of God, and a pure emission flowing from the glory of the Almighty: therefore can no defiled thing fall into her.24

26 For she is a reflection of the eternal light, the unspotted mirror of the active force of God, and the image of God’s goodness.25

27 And although she is one, she can do all things: and remaining unchanged in herself, she renews the cosmos: and in all ages entering into holy souls, she makes them friends of God, and prophets.26

28 for God loves only those that dwell in Wisdom..

29 For she is more beautiful than the sun, and outshines all the stars: being compared with light, she takes first place.

30 Now, even night must yield to light, so evil cannot prevail against Wisdom.27

Chapter 8

1 Wisdom reaches from one end to another, mightily and sweetly does she order all things.

The author’s passion for Wisdom

2 I loved her, and sought her out from my youth, I desired to make her my bride, and I was a lover of her beauty.28

3 In that she is conversant with God, her majesty is magnified: yes, God of all things has always loved her.

4 For she shares the mysteries of the knowledge of God, and is a lover of God’s works.

5 If riches be a possession to be desired in this life: what is richer than Wisdom, who works all things?

6 And if it be the intellect that is worthy; who of all, designs everything that exists?

7 Or if it be uprightness that you love, well then, virtues are the fruit of her labour since she teaches temperance and prudence, justice and fortitude: nothing in life is more useful for humans.

8 If a person desires much experience, she knows things of old, and knows exactly what is to come: she knows the subtleties of speeches, and can expound mystic sentences: she foresees signs and wonders, and the events of seasons and tunes.

9 Therefore I purposed to take her to me to live with me, knowing that she would be a counsellor of good things, and a comfort in times and grief.

10 Because of her I will have honour and esteem among the people, and honour with the elders, even though I am young.

11 I shall be found of a quick reasoning in judgment, and shall be admired in the sight of great men.

12 When I hold my tongue, they will wait on my silences, and when I speak, they shall listen with attention: if I talk at some length, they shall lay their hands upon their mouths.

13 Moreover, by means of her I shall obtain immortality, and leave behind me an everlasting memorial to them that come after me.

14 I shall govern the people with order, and nations shall be subject unto me.

15 Horrible tyrants shall be afraid, when they do but hear of me; I shall be kind to the multitude of people, and valiant in battle.

16 After I am come into my house, I will take my peace with her: for her conversation has no bitterness; and to live with her has no sorrow, but mirth and joy.

17 Now having meditated on this, I came to the conclusion that kinship with her is given by grace, that noble contentment with her Friendship is the source of immortality; that

18 in her activities are infinite riches; and in the exercise of conference with her comes understanding; and in talking with her comes renown — I went about seeking how to take her to me.

19 I was a happy child, and had received a good soul as my lot,

20 Yes rather, having being good, I had entered an undefiled body.

21 Nevertheless, when I perceived that I could not otherwise obtain her, except God gave her to me; and that was a point of Wisdom also to know whose gift she was; I prayed unto God, and beseeched him, and with my whole heart I said,

Chapter 9

1 O God of my fathers and God of mercy who by your Word have made the universes

2 and ordained humans to rule over the creatures

3 to govern this world according to equality and uprightness and execute judgment with an upright heart;

4 Grant me to have Wisdom, the consort of your throne; reject me not from among your children,

5 for I your servant and son, your handmaid, am a feeble person, and have been but a short time, too young for the understanding of judgment and laws.

6 For even though a person may be ever so perfect among the children of humans, yet if your Wisdom is not present in them, they shall be as nothing.

7 You have chosen me to be a king of your creatures, and a judge of your sons and daughters:

8 You have commanded me to build a temple upon the holy mount, and an altar, in the city where you dwell, a copy of the holy temple.29, which was prepared by you from the beginning

9 And Wisdom was with you God: she knows your works, and was preset when you made the world, and knew what was acceptable in your sight and right in your will.

10 Send her out of your holy heavens and from the throne of your glory, that being present with me she may labour with me, that I may know what is the right Way.

11 For she knows and understands all things and she shall lead me soberly in my ways, and preserve me in her power.

12 So shall my works be acceptable and then shall I judge your people righteously, and be worthy to sit in my father’s seat.

13 For what person is he that knows the mind of God? Or who can think what the will of God is?

14 For the reasoning of mortals is inadequate, and our attitudes of mind unstable.

15 For the corruptible body weighs down the spirit and the earthly tent weighs down the soul with many cares.

16 And hardly do we guess right about things that are upon earth, and with great labour do we find the things that are before us: but the things that are in the heavens, who has worked that out?

17 And your will, who has ever known it unless you gave Wisdom, and sent your holy Spirit from above?

18 For so the ways of them which lived on the earth were reformed, and people were taught your will, and were thus saved through Wisdom.

God’s work in human history through Wisdom

Chapter 10

1 She preserved the first-formed father of the world, that was created alone, and brought him out of his fall,

2 and gave him power to rule all things.30

3 But when the unrighteous went away from her in his anger, he perished also in the fury with which he murdered his brother.31

4 For whose cause the earth was crowned with the flood, Wisdom again preserved it, and directed the course of the upright in a piece of wood of small value.32

5 Moreover, when the nations in their wicked conspiracy was confounded, she found the upright one, and preserved him blameless unto God, and kept him strong against his tender compassion toward his son.33

6 When the Godless perished, she delivered the upright man, who fled from the fire which fell down upon the five cities.

7 Of whose wickedness, even to this day the waste land that smokes is a testimony, and plants bearing fruit that never come to ripeness: and a standing pillar of salt is a monument of an unbelieving soul.

8 For, by ignoring the Way of Wisdom, they received not only this hurt, that they knew not the things which were good; but also left behind them a memorial of their foolishness: so that their sins could not hid or forgotten.34

9 But Wisdom delivered from pain those that attended upon her.

10 When the upright fled from his brothers wrath she guided him in right paths, showed him the kingdom of God, and gave him knowledge of holy things, made him rich in his travels, and multiplied the fruit of his labours.

11 In the envy of those that oppressed him she stood by him, and made him rich.

12 She defended him from his enemies, and kept him safe from those that lay in wait, and in a sore conflict she gave him the victory; that he might know that goodness is stronger than all.35

13 When the upright were sold as slaves, she did not forsake him, but delivered him from sin: she went down with him into the pit,

14 and left him not in bonds, till she brought him the sceptre of the kingdom, and gave him power against those that oppressed him: as for them that had accused him, she showed them to be liars, and gave him perpetual glory.36

15 She delivered the upright people and blameless seed from the nation that oppressed them.

16 She entered into the soul of the servant of God, and withstood dreadful kings in wonders and signs:

17 rendered to the upright a reward of their labours, guided them in a marvellous way, and was unto them for a cover by day, and a light of stars in the night season;

18 brought them through the Red sea, and led them through much water: 19 but she drowned their enemies, and cast them up out of the bottom of the deep.

20 So the upright despoiled the Godless, and praised your holy name, O God, and magnified with one accord thine hand, that fought for them

21 For Wisdom opened the mouth of the dumb, and made the tongues of them that cannot speak eloquent.

Chapter 11

1 She prospered their works by the hand of the holy prophet.37

2 They went through the wilderness that was not inhabited, and pitched tents in places where there was no way.

3 They stood against their enemies and were avenged of their adversaries.

4 When they were thirsty, they called upon thee, and water was given them out of the flinty rock, and their thirst was quenched out of the hard stone.

5 For by what things their enemies were punished, those things became a benefit to them in need.

6 For instead of an ever running river, troubled with foul blood,

7 for a punishment for slaying the infants, you gave them abundance of water by a means which they could not even hope for.

8 And the thirst which your children suffered served for them to keep their eye on what their enemies were suffering.

9 For when they were tested, although lovingly corrected, they knew how the Godless were judged in wrath and tormented, thirsting in another manner than the just.

10 For these you did admonish and try, as a father: but the other, as a strict king, you punished.38

11 Whether they were far or near, they were equally afflicted.

12 For a double grief came upon them, and a groaning for the remembrance past events.

13 For when they heard by their own punishments the other to be benefited, they remembered and knew it was God.39

14 For the man whom they treated with scorn, even when he was thrown out as an infant, in the end, when they saw what came to pass, they admired him.

15 But for the foolish devices of their wickedness, wherein they were being deceived they worshipped serpents void of reason and vile beasts, you sent a multitude of unreasonable beasts upon them for vengeance;

16 that they might know, that however a person sins, also shall he be punished in like manner.40

17 For your Almighty hand, that made the world of matter without form, did not lack the means send among them hordes wild bears or fierce lions,

18 or unknown beasts, full of rage, newly created, breathing out fiery vapour, and stinking smoke, or shooting horrible sparkles out of their eyes:

19 so terrible that not only can their power destroy them but the mere sight of them would made them drop dead.

20 Yes, and without these they might have been struck down with one breath from you and then pursued by Justice they be scattered abroad: but you ordered all things in measures and every thing is numbered and weighed according to your decisions.41

21 For your great power is always available, at the command of your will, and who may withstand the power of your arm?

22 For the whole world, for you, is as a little grain and cannot even tip the scales, yes, as a drop of the morning dew that falls down upon the earth, so small is this planet in your creation.

23 But you have mercy upon all; for you can do all things, and overlook peoples sins so they may make amends.

24 For you love all the things that are, and despise nothing which you have made: For never would you have made anything, if you hated it.

25 And how could any thing have endured, if it had not been your will? or been preserved, if not called by you?

26 But you spare all: for they are yours, O our God, lover of life.

Chapter 12

1 For your imperishable Spirit is in all things.42

2 Therefore, little by little, you correct them that offend, and warn them by putting them in remembrance wherein they have offended, that leaving their wickedness they may believe on thee, O Lord.

3 For it was your will to destroy by the hands of our fathers those old inhabitants of your holy Land,

4 whom you hated for doing most odious works of witchcraft, and wicked sacrifices;

5 and also those merciless murderers of children, and devourers of humans flesh, and the feasts of blood,

6 with their priests who came from their idol worshipping people, and the parents, that killed with their own hands the souls of the destitute in need of help:

7 that the land, which you esteemed from long ago, might receive a worthy colony of God’s children.

8 Nevertheless even those you spared as human beings, and sent wasps, forerunners of your army, to destroy them little by little.

9 Not that you were unable to bring the Godless under the hand of the upright in battle, or to destroy then at once with cruel beasts, or with one rough word:

10 But executing your judgments upon them by little and little, you give them place for repentance, not being ignorant that they are a wayward generation, and that their malice was being bred in them, and that their minds would never be changed.

11 For they were a cursed nation from the beginning; and not for fear of any human did you give them pardon for those things wherein they sinned.

12 For who shall say, ‘What have you done?’ or who shall withstand your judgment? or who shall accuse you for the nations that perish, nations that you made? or who shall come to stand against thee, to be revenged for the unrighteous people?

13 For neither is there any God but you that care for all; to who might you show that your judgment is not unrighteous.

14 Neither shall king or tyrant be able to challenge you for any one you have punished

15 Since you are upright yourself, you order all things righteously, thinking it not agreeable with your power to punish anyone who does not deserve it.

16 For your power is the foundation of your justice, and because you are King of all, it makes you to be gracious unto all.

17 For when people will not believe that you are omnipotent, you show your strength, and among them that know it you make their boldness manifest.

18 But you, giver and controller of all power, judge with equality, and order us with great lenience: for you only have to will and your power is there.

19 By such acts you have taught the people that the upright should be merciful, and you have given your children the good hope that after sins you may grant repentance.

20 For, if with such care and effort you punished the enemies of your children, although they were doomed to death, giving them time and place whereby they might get rid of their wickedness and repent:

21 with how great attention did you not judge your own sons and daughters, unto whose fathers you have made promises?

22 Thus, you instruct us, when you punish your enemies in moderation: a thousand times more to the intent that, when we judge, we should carefully think of your goodness, and when we ourselves are judged, we should look for the mercy that has already been given.

23 Therefore when people have lived foolish and wicked and unrighteous lives, you have allowed their own abominations to punish them.

24 For they walked too far in the ways of error, so that they held for gods such things which even the animals of their enemies despised. As silly children they allowed themselves to be deluded.

25 Therefore, as one would do with silly children who do not use their minds, you sent a judgment to make fools of them.

26 But they that would not be reformed by that correction, wherein he gave them time, shall feel a judgment worthy of God.

27 For look, those created things which made them suffer, those very things for which they were punished, those very things which they thought to be gods; now ended up punishing them. When they saw this, they acknowledged God to be the true God, whom before they denied to know: and that is why the extreme punishment came upon them.

Chapter 13

1 Surely stupid are all people by nature who are ignorant of God; and of the good things which they have seen, to get to know God for what he is: they neither considered the creatures and creation or even recognised the one who makes it.

2 Created things however, even fire, wind, or the swift air, or the circle of the stars, or the violent water, or the lights of heaven, such things they regarded as gods which rule their world.

3 If, however, it was because of the charm of its beauty that they were so delighted; let them rather know how much better God is: for the first author of beauty has created them.

4 But if they were astonished at the power and virtue of those things, let them understand by them, how much mightier he is that made them.

5 For by the wonder and beauty of the creatures, we may, by analogy, understand something of their Maker.

6 But for some people only a little blame is added because of this: for they accidentally go astray whilst seeking God. Being desirous to find him, 7 and knowing his works, they search him diligently, and because the things are beautiful that they see, they fall in love with it, serving it as their god.

8 Although, neither are they to be pardoned.

9 Far if they were able to know so much that they could aim their search at the world; how did they not sooner find out the God thereof?

10 But miserable are they, and in dead things is their hope, those who call the works of human hands gods — these things, gold and silver, skilfully sculptured as art, and resemblances of beasts, or a good for nothing stone sculptured by an ancient hand.

11 Now take a carpenter for example. After he has sawn down a tree he cuts a piece of wood, which he specially selected to be right for the purpose, and he skilfully takes off all the bark around it, and works the wood with great skill and makes something of it that can be used in daily life;

12 And the bits left over he uses for cooking his meat, and he eats his fill;

13 Now, taking the really good-for-nothing piece of wood that is still left over, that crooked piece of wood full of knots, he carves it, slowly in his leisure time giving it his carefree imagination, to the extent of his mental ability. And he makes it into an image of a man;

14 or makes it like some vile beast, then he smears it with clay and red paint, covering every mark in the wood;

15 and when he had made a suitable place open for it, he sits it on a shelf, and fixes it properly with an iron clamp

16 so that it does not fall off, knowing that it is unable to help itself because it is only an image, and has need to be helped:

17 And then, when he makes prayer, asking for blessing for his goods, for his wife and children; he is not even ashamed to speak to that thing which has no life.

18 For health he calls upon that thing which is weak: for life he prays to that thing which is dead; for aid, he humbly appeals to that thing which has the least chance to help: and for a good journey he asks that thing which cannot even set a foot forward:

19 and for profit or a business, and for good success of his craft, he asks skill from something which is most unable to do any thing at all.


Book of Wisdom: Chapters 14 - 19

Chapter 14

1 Or someone else, preparing to sail the water, and about to pass through the raging waves, call upon a piece of wood more rotten than the vessel that caries him.

2 Yes, the ship is a product of the passion for gaining things, and the workman built it by his skill.

3 But your providence, O Father, is what governs the ship: for you have made a way in the sea, and a safe path in the waves; 4 showing that you can save from all danger: yes, even though a man went to sea without experience.

5 It is not your will God, for the works of your Wisdom to be without fruit. People therefore commit their lives to a small piece of wood, and passing the rough sea in a weak raft, they travel safely.

6 For in the old time also, when the proud giants perished, the hope of the world governed by your hand, and they escaped in a weak vessel, and left to all ages a seed of the new generations.

The myths of the Great Flood are alluded to

7 For blessed is the wood that serves the cause of uprightness.

8 But that which is made with hands as an idol, and is idolized, is cursed as its maker is cursed.

9 For the Godless and his ungodliness are both alike hateful unto God.

10 For that which is made shall be used for punishment together with him that made it.

11 Therefore even upon the idols of the unbelievers shall there be a visitation: because in the creation of God they have become an abomination and stumbling blocks to the souls of people, and a trap to the feet of the unwise.

12 For the devising of idols was the beginning of spiritual fornication, and the invention of them the corruption of life.

13 For neither did they exist in the beginning, or shall they exist for ever.

14 For by the vanity of humanity they came to be, and therefore shall they quickly come to an end.

Two examples of how idols can corrupt

15 Even as a father afflicted with unexpected mourning, has an image made of his child that was so soon carried off, he then pays divine honours to what yesterday was only a corpse, handing on worship mysteries and ceremonies to his people, and as time passes, the custom takes hold.

16 Thus in process of time an Godless custom grown strong is kept as a law, and hand-made images are worshipped by the commandments of kings.

17 Those who were far off and could not worship the one in person, were supplied with drawn images, so that their devotion might flatter him that is absent, as if he were present.

18 Also the beauty of the work of the artist helps people to more superstition, making the ignorant worship something they do not know about.

19 Because the artist, perhaps just willing to please one in authority, went to great trouble to make a good image.

20 And so the multitude, allured by the grace of the work, took him now for a god, him who a little before was but honoured.

21 And this became a trap for all time, that people enslaved either by calamity or tyranny, wrote onto stones and sticks the incommunicable name of their god.

Idolatry leads to ignorance of the spiritual, which leads to ignorance of social values

22 Moreover as if this is not enough for them, that they had misconceptions about God; but living in the great war of ignorance, they call these evils peace.

23 For whilst they were slaying their children in sacrifices, or used mystical ceremonies, or made revelling in strange rites;

24 they kept neither their lives or their marriages undefiled but slew one another traitorously, or grieved one another by adultery.

25 So that there reigned in all men without exception, blood guilt, manslaughter, theft, and deception, corruption, unfaithfulness, tumults, falsification,

26 disturbance of good people, forgetfulness of good favours, defiling of souls, changing of natures, disorder in marriages, adultery, and shameless uncleanness.

27 For the worshipping of idols with non-existent personalities is the beginning, the cause, and the end, of all evil.

28 For these people either make merry unto frenzy, or they prophesy lies, or live unjustly, or else lie against their better judgement quite easily.

29 For insomuch as their trust is in lifeless idols; and although they swear falsely, they think they can escape the harm which their actions will bring about.

30 But they will be justly punished for this double crime; both because they degraded the reality of God by devoting themselves to idols, and also for wickedly perjuring themselves in contempt of holiness.

31 For it is not the power of the things in which they believe, but the natural reaction against sin, the punishment of sinners that always follows offences.

Chapter 15

Addressing God

1 But you, O God, are gracious and true, slow to anger, and in mercy you govern all the universes,

2 even if we sin, we are yours, because we know your power: but we will not sin, knowing that we are counted as your children.

3 For to know you is perfect virtue: yes, to know your power is the root of immortality.

4 For neither did the mischievous invention of humans deceive us, nor an image spotted with beautiful colours, the painters’ fruitless labour; 5 the sight of which makes fools to lust after it, and so they desire the form of a dead and breathless image.

6 They that make them, they that desire them, and they that worship them, are lovers of evil things, and are worthy to have such things to trust upon.

7 Again, the potter tempering soft earth, carefully labours to make every container for us to use. From the same clay he makes both those pots that are for clean uses, and also those that are for contrary uses: but what the use of either pot is, only he decides.

8 And then, employing his labours promiscuously, he makes a vain god of the same clay. Yes, even he which a short while ago was himself made of dust, and within a little while will return to dust, when his soul which was lent to him shall be demanded back.

9 Even so he does not worry about having to die or about the shortness of his life: but strives to outdo the goldsmiths and silversmiths, and endeavours to do like the workers in brass, and counts it as his honour to make counterfeits.

10 His heart is ashes, and his hope, more vile than earth, and his life is of less value than clay: 11 forasmuch as he knew not his Maker, and him that inspired into him an active soul, and breathed in a living spirit.

12 But they played out life here on earth as if it was a playtime for pastime fun, and our time here to be a market for bargains. For they say, we must make sure to get more and more things, even though it be by ignoble means.

13 For this man, more than any other, knows that he is a sinner. He makes of the same matter both brittle pots and idols.

14 And so did all the enemies of your people hold your children in oppression, and are the most foolish of all; they are more pitiable and more easily deceived than a small baby,

15 for they have regarded the idols of the heathens to be gods: which neither have the use of eyes to see, nor noses to draw breath, nor ears to hear, nor fingers or hands to handle; and as for their feet, they are slow to go;

16 because a human made them, and a human, that borrowed his own spirit, designed them: but no human can make a god of his own.

17 For being mortal, he works a dead thing with wicked hands: for he himself is better than the things which he made and worships: whereas he lived once, but they never came to life.

18 Yes, they even worshipped those beasts that are most detestable: for being compared to other animals, those are worse than others.

19 Neither are they beautiful, so much as to be desired in respect of beasts: but they went without the praise of God and his blessing.43

Chapter 16

Antithesis of frogs and quails

1 Thus they were appropriately punished by similar creatures and tormented by them.7

2 In contrast to this punishment of the unbelievers, you dealt graciously with your own people, you provided for their rough appetites those rarities and treasures among foods, even quails for them to eat.

3 The Egyptians, although hungry, because of the ugly sight of the beasts among them lost their natural appetites; but your own people, after going hungry for only a short while dined in rare cuisine, strange to their poverty fashioned customs.

4 It was thus inevitable that unceasing desire came upon those who shortly before were the oppressors: sufficient to show the upright how their enemies were tormented.

Antithesis of locusts and bronze serpents

5 Even when the horrible fierceness of beasts came upon them, and they perished with the stings of writhing serpents, your retribution did not continue forever.

6 They were afflicted for a short time only, that they might be warned, and having been given a sign of salvation to guide them and help them remember the requirements of your laws.

7 For whoever turned toward it was saved not by that which they saw, but by you, the Saviour of all.44

8 And by these things you did, your enemies had to confess that you are the One who deliver from all evil:

9 for them the bites of grasshoppers and flies were fatal, and no remedy was to be found: for they were worthy to be punished by such creatures.

10 But not even the fangs of poisonous snakes could bring your children down; for your mercy remained with them and healed them.

11 For they were stung but once; and that they should remember your words they were quicky healed, and did not fall into deep forgetfulness so they could be continually mindful of your goodness.

12 For it was neither herb, nor poultice that healed them: but your Word O God, which heals all things.

13 For you are the one who has power over life and death: even spirits led to the gates of Hades, you bring them back again.

14 But people indeed kill in wickedness: and that spirit which goes forth they cannot bring back; neither can they free the soul already received.

Antithesis of hail and manna

15 It is not possible to escape your hand.

16 The Godless who refused to seek the knowledge of you were scourged by the strength of your arm: with strange rains, hails, and unrelenting showers were they punished, and through fire were they consumed.45

17 And even more wonderful, the fire burned stronger in the water, and water supposedly quenches fire: and this, because elements of nature fight for the upright.

18 Sometimes the fire would die down, that it might not burn up the beasts that were sent against the Godless; so they may know and understand that they were being punished with the judgment of God.

19 And at another time it would burn even in the midst of water, even more fiery than fire, that it might destroy the fruit of an unjust land.

20 Instead, how different it was with your people. You fed them angels’ food, and from heaven you sent them bread prepared without their labour, food which is able to satisfy every persons’ needs and agreeing to every taste.

21 For the substance you gave showed your sweetness to your children, and according to the need of the eater, it conformed itself to every person’s desire.

22 But snow and ice46 endured the fire and melted not, this was to show that they might know that fire burning in the hail, and sparkling in the rain, did destroy the crops of the enemies;

23 but in service of the upright it would even forget its own strength, that they be nourished.

24 For the creation being at the service of you the Creator, increases its strength against the unrighteous for their punishment, and decreases its strength for the benefit of those who put their trust in you.

25 Thus were the elements changed to act differently and was obedient to your grace, that nourishes all things, according to the desire of them that had need: 26 that your children O God, whom you love, might know, that it is not the growing of crops that nourish humans: but that it is your word which preserves those that put their trust in thee.

27 For that which was the fire could not destroy, was a little while later warmed with a little sunbeam, and soon melted away:

28 that it might be known, that we must rise before the sun to give thee thanks, and at the dayspring to meet with you;

29 whereas the hope of the unthankful melt away like winter frost, and flows away as spilled water.

Chapter 17

Antithesis of darkness and fire

1 For great are your judgments, and cannot be expressed: that is why un-instructed souls go astray.

2 For when unrighteous people thought to oppress your holy children; they themselves were shut up in their houses, prisoners of darkness, and restrained with the bonds of a long night, they lay there exiled from the eternal providence.47

3 For while they thought they could hide their secret sins, they were scattered under a dark veil of forgetfulness, being horribly astonished and troubled with strange apparitions.

4 For neither could the hiding place shelter them from their fear: noises echoed around them and terrified them, and sad visions appeared to them with gloomy faces.

5 No fire had power enough to give them light: neither could the brightly blazing stars bring light to that horrible night.

6 The only light for them was a great self-moving blaze - a frightening thing to see: for being much terrified, they thought the things which they saw to be worse than the sight they did not see.

7 As for the illusions of art and magic, they were useless now, and their previous boasting of wisdom was turned to disgrace.

8 For they, that promised to drive away terrors and troubles from a sick soul, were themselves sick of fear, worthy to be laughed at.

9 For though no terrible thing did fear them; yet being scared with beasts that passed by, and hissing of serpents, 10 they died for fear, refusing to even look at the air, which could of no possibility be avoided.

11 For wickedness is really very cowardly, and under pressure of conscience it always assumes the worst and most grievous things.

12 For fear is nothing else but a betrayal of the encouragement which reason offers.

13 And the less you rely from within yourself on this reason, the more terrible it is not to know what causes your torment.

14 But they, all lying asleep under that same darkness of night, which was actually quite powerless in itself, but was believed to issue out of the bottom of Hades, 15 were now persecuted and tormented with their own monstrous apparitions, and now paralysed by the fainting of their souls, the were gripped in fear of apparitions appearing to them.

16 So then whoever fell down was clamped up in themselves, as if in a prison without iron bars, 17 whether he was a field keeper or shepherd, or a labourer in the field, he was overtaken, and endured that necessity, which could not be avoided: for they were all bound with one chain of darkness.

18 Whether it were a whistling wind or a melodious noise of birds among the spreading branches or a pleasing fall of water running violently,

19 or a terrible sound of stones cast down, or a running that could not be seen of skipping beasts or a roaring voice of most savage wild beasts or a rebounding echo from the hollow mountain, these things made them delirious for fear.

20 For the whole world shined with the clear light of day, and none were hindered in their labour:

21 only over them was spread that heavy night, an image of that darkness which should afterward receive them: but heavier than the darkness was the torment they were unto themselves.

Chapter 18

1 Nevertheless for your holy ones you had a very great light. The Egyptians could hear them but not see them, and they called them fortunate because they had not suffered the same things.

2 And that the holy ones did not hurt them at that time, and for past transgressions which the Egyptians committed against them, they thanked them, and pleaded with them for forgiveness that they had been their enemies.

3 Instead of the darkness you gave your people a burning pillar of fire, both to be a guide on the unknown journey, and as a harmless sun to help on their ambitious pilgrimage.

4 For the others were well worthy to be deprived of light and imprisoned in darkness, they who had kept your children imprisoned, your children through whom the pure light of the knowledge of your laws was to be given unto the world.

Antithesis of the two nights

5 And when they decided to massacre the babies of the holy ones, only one of the exposed children was saved; to punish them you took away the multitude of their children, and destroyed them altogether in a mighty water.

6 Of that night our fathers knew in advance, so that when it happened they were assured of whom they had put their trust, and would be sure of his promises.

7 Your people were thus waiting both for the rescue of the upright, and the ruin of their enemies.

8 For with the very careful vengeance which you planned over your adversaries, by the same you did glorify us whom you called.

9 For the holy children of the good things made mystical sacrifices, and with one consent made a holy law; that the holy ones should be like partners, sharing the same good and evil, and from then on they would all chant the hymns of the ancestors.

10 But on the other echoed the ill cry of the enemies, and a lamentable noise was carried abroad for their children that were mourned.

11 The master and the servant were punished after one another; and like as the king, so suffered the common person.

12 So they all together had innumerable dead, and from the same cause; and the living were not sufficient in number to bury them: because in one moment the noblest offspring of them was destroyed.

13 For as they would not believe anything by reason, still hoping in their magic; only upon the destruction of their firstborn did they acknowledged this people to be the children of God.

14 For while all things were in quiet silence and that night was in the middle of her course

15 your Almighty Word leaped down from heaven out of your royal throne as a fierce warrior into the midst of a land of destruction,

16 and brought thy clear commandment as a sharp sword, and standing up, filled all things with death and it touched the heaven, but it stood upon the earth.

17 Then suddenly visions and horrible dreams afflicted them, and unexpected terrors came upon them.

18 And one was thrown here, and another there, half dead, able to say why they were dying.

19 For the dreams that troubled them did showed them the reason, lest they should perish and not know why they were afflicted.

Threat of annihilation

20 Yes, the tasting of death touched the upright also, and there was a destruction of the multitude in the wilderness: but the retribution did not last for long.

21 For then a blameless man hurried to their defence; and bringing the shield of his proper ministry, prayer, and the use of incense, he set himself against the retribution and so brought the calamity to an end, declaring that he was your servant.

Aaron

22 So he overcame hostility, not with strength of body, nor force of arms, but with a word subdued the Punisher, by recalling the oaths and covenants made by the fathers.48

23 For when the dead were fallen down by heaps one upon another, he interposed, and beat back the retribution, and cut off its approach to the living.

24 For in the long garment was the whole world, and in the four rows of the twelve stones the names of the fathers were engraved, and your Majesty upon the golden flower of his head.

25 Unto these the Destroyer gave way, and was afraid of them: for this one experience of retribution which they tasted was enough.

Chapter 19

The Red Sea

1 As for the Godless retribution continued without mercy right the end: for he knew beforehand what they would do, 2 how after the Egyptian king had given them leave to depart and sent them away in a hurry, they would charge their minds and pursue them again.

3 For whilst they were still mourning and making funeral rites at the graves of the dead, another foolish scheme came to them, and they pursued them as fugitives, those whom they had begged to leave.

4 For their well deserved fate brought them to this end, and made them forget the things that had already happened, and again they acted, that they might obtain the final punishment which was still outstanding:

5 and while your people experienced a wonderful journey: they might encounter a strange death.

6 For the whole creature in his proper mind was refashioned anew; by serving the peculiar commandments that were given unto them, your children could be kept without harm:

7 as example, a cloud shadowing the camp appeared; and where water stood before, dry land appeared; and through the Red Sea a way without difficulty; and out of the violent stream a green field appeared:

8 through which all the people went that were defended with your hand, seeing your marvellous strange wonders.

9 For they went freely like horses, and leaped like lambs, praising thee, O God, who delivered them.

10 For they were still remembering the things that were done while they sojourned in the strange land, how the ground brought forth flies instead of cattle, and how the river cast up a multitude of frogs instead of fishes.

11 But afterwards, being led by their desires they saw a new way to generate birds, and tasted delicate meats,

12 because quails came up unto them from the sea, for their satisfaction.

Spiritual Fornicators guiltier than material fornicators.

13 And upon the sinners punishments came down unceasingly, and not without warning signs by the force of thunder: for they suffered according to their own wickedness, also since they treated strangers scornfully and with hatred.

14 For the Sodomites did not receive strangers with decency: but the Egyptians enslaved their own friends who had served them well.

15 And it is so that those who treated strangers with contempt will be punished, 16 but these sinners grievously afflicted their guests, guests whom they had received with feasting and were already partners under the same laws with them.

17 Therefore even with blindness were these stricken, as those were at the doors of the upright man: when, being surrounded with horrible great darkness, every one groped for passage through his own door.

A new law of nature.

18 For the elements were changed in themselves by a kind of harmony, as different notes may change the rhythm but the note be maintained, and this is exactly what happened;

19 terrestrials were turned into aquatics, and the things, that before swam in the water, now went upon the ground.

20 The fire had power in the water, forgetting his own virtue: and the water forgot his own quenching nature.

21 On the other side, the flames wasted not the flesh of the corruptible living things, though they walked therein: neither melted they the icy kind of heavenly meat that was of nature.

Summary

22 For in all things, O God, you magnified your Children, and glorified them, neither did you lightly regard them: but did assist them in every time and place.