Article Index


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.