Wisdom of Solomon
1: Love righteousness, you rulers of the earth,
think of the Lord with uprightness, and seek him with sincerity of heart;
2: because he is found by those who do not put him to the test, and
manifests himself to those who do not distrust him.
3: For perverse
thoughts separate men from God, and when his power is tested, it convicts the
4: because wisdom will not enter a deceitful soul, nor dwell
in a body enslaved to sin.
5: For a holy and disciplined spirit will
flee from deceit, and will rise and depart from foolish thoughts, and will be
ashamed at the approach of unrighteousness.
6: For wisdom is a kindly
spirit and will not free a blasphemer from the guilt of his words; because God
is witness of his inmost feelings, and a true observer of his heart, and a
hearer of his tongue.
7: Because the Spirit of the Lord has filled
the world, and that which holds all things together knows what is said;
8: therefore no one who utters unrighteous things will escape notice,
and justice, when it punishes, will not pass him by.
9: For inquiry
will be made into the counsels of an ungodly man, and a report of his words will
come to the Lord, to convict him of his lawless deeds;
10: because a
jealous ear hears all things, and the sound of murmurings does not go unheard.
11: Beware then of useless murmuring, and keep your tongue from
slander; because no secret word is without result, and a lying mouth destroys
12: Do not invite death by the error of your life, nor
bring on destruction by the works of your hands;
13: because God did
not make death, and he does not delight in the death of the living.
14: For he created all things that they might exist, and the
generative forces of the world are wholesome, and there is no destructive poison
in them; and the dominion of Hades is not on earth.
righteousness is immortal.
16: But ungodly men by their words and
deeds summoned death; considering him a friend, they pined away, and they made a
covenant with him, because they are fit to belong to his party.
1: For they reasoned unsoundly, saying to
themselves, "Short and sorrowful is our life, and there is no remedy when a man
comes to his end, and no one has been known to return from Hades.
Because we were born by mere chance, and hereafter we shall be as though we had
never been; because the breath in our nostrils is smoke, and reason is a spark
kindled by the beating of our hearts.
3: When it is extinguished, the
body will turn to ashes, and the spirit will dissolve like empty air.
4: Our name will be forgotten in time and no one will remember our
works; our life will pass away like the traces of a cloud, and be scattered like
mist that is chased by the rays of the sun and overcome by its heat.
5: For our allotted time is the passing of a shadow, and there is no
return from our death, because it is sealed up and no one turns back.
6: "Come, therefore, let us enjoy the good things that exist, and
make use of the creation to the full as in youth.
7: Let us take our
fill of costly wine and perfumes, and let no flower of spring pass by us.
8: Let us crown ourselves with rosebuds before they wither.
9: Let none of us fail to share in our revelry, everywhere let us
leave signs of enjoyment, because this is our portion, and this our lot.
10: Let us oppress the righteous poor man; let us not spare the widow
nor regard the gray hairs of the aged.
11: But let our might be our
law of right, for what is weak proves itself to be useless.
us lie in wait for the righteous man, because he is inconvenient to us and
opposes our actions; he reproaches us for sins against the law, and accuses us
of sins against our training.
13: He professes to have knowledge of
God, and calls himself a child of the Lord.
14: He became to us a
reproof of our thoughts;
15: the very sight of him is a burden to us,
because his manner of life is unlike that of others, and his ways are strange.
16: We are considered by him as something base, and he avoids our
ways as unclean; he calls the last end of the righteous happy, and boasts that
God is his father.
17: Let us see if his words are true, and let us
test what will happen at the end of his life;
18: for if the
righteous man is God's son, he will help him, and will deliver him from the hand
of his adversaries.
19: Let us test him with insult and torture, that
we may find out how gentle he is, and make trial of his forbearance.
20: Let us condemn him to a shameful death, for, according to what he
says, he will be protected."
21: Thus they reasoned, but they were
led astray, for their wickedness blinded them,
22: and they did not
know the secret purposes of God, nor hope for the wages of holiness, nor discern
the prize for blameless souls;
23: for God created man for
incorruption, and made him in the image of his own eternity,
through the devil's envy death entered the world, and those who belong to his
party experience it.
1: But the souls of the righteous are in the hand
of God, and no torment will ever touch them.
2: In the eyes of the
foolish they seemed to have died, and their departure was thought to be an
3: and their going from us to be their destruction; but
they are at peace.
4: For though in the sight of men they were
punished, their hope is full of immortality.
5: Having been
disciplined a little, they will receive great good, because God tested them and
found them worthy of himself;
6: like gold in the furnace he tried
them, and like a sacrificial burnt offering he accepted them.
the time of their visitation they will shine forth, and will run like sparks
through the stubble.
8: They will govern nations and rule over
peoples, and the Lord will reign over them for ever.
9: Those who
trust in him will understand truth, and the faithful will abide with him in
love, because grace and mercy are upon his elect, and he watches over his holy
10: But the ungodly will be punished as their reasoning
deserves, who disregarded the righteous man and rebelled against the Lord;
11: for whoever despises wisdom and instruction is miserable. Their
hope is vain, their labors are unprofitable, and their works are useless.
12: Their wives are foolish, and their children evil;
their offspring are accursed. For blessed is the barren woman who is undefiled,
who has not entered into a sinful union; she will have fruit when God examines
14: Blessed also is the eunuch whose hands have done no
lawless deed, and who has not devised wicked things against the Lord; for
special favor will be shown him for his faithfulness, and a place of great
delight in the temple of the Lord.
15: For the fruit of good labors
is renowned, and the root of understanding does not fail.
children of adulterers will not come to maturity, and the offspring of an
unlawful union will perish.
17: Even if they live long they will be
held of no account, and finally their old age will be without honor.
18: If they die young, they will have no hope and no consolation in
the day of decision.
19: For the end of an unrighteous generation is
1: Better than this is childlessness with virtue,
for in the memory of virtue is immortality, because it is known both by God and
2: When it is present, men imitate it, and they long for it
when it has gone; and throughout all time it marches crowned in triumph, victor
in the contest for prizes that are undefiled.
3: But the prolific
brood of the ungodly will be of no use, and none of their illegitimate seedlings
will strike a deep root or take a firm hold.
4: For even if they put
forth boughs for a while, standing insecurely they will be shaken by the wind,
and by the violence of the winds they will be uprooted.
branches will be broken off before they come to maturity, and their fruit will
be useless, not ripe enough to eat, and good for nothing.
children born of unlawful unions are witnesses of evil against their parents
when God examines them.
7: But the righteous man, though he die
early, will be at rest.
8: For old age is not honored for length of
time, nor measured by number of years;
9: but understanding is gray
hair for men, and a blameless life is ripe old age.
10: There was one
who pleased God and was loved by him, and while living among sinners he was
11: He was caught up lest evil change his understanding or
guile deceive his soul.
12: For the fascination of wickedness
obscures what is good, and roving desire perverts the innocent mind.
13: Being perfected in a short time, he fulfilled long years;
14: for his soul was pleasing to the Lord, therefore he took him
quickly from the midst of wickedness.
15: Yet the peoples saw and did
not understand, nor take such a thing to heart, that God's grace and mercy are
with his elect, and he watches over his holy ones.
16: The righteous
man who had died will condemn the ungodly who are living, and youth that is
quickly perfected will condemn the prolonged old age of the unrighteous man.
17: For they will see the end of the wise man, and will not
understand what the Lord purposed for him, and for what he kept him safe.
18: They will see, and will have contempt for him, but the Lord will
laugh them to scorn. After this they will become dishonored corpses, and an
outrage among the dead for ever;
19: because he will dash them
speechless to the ground, and shake them from the foundations; they will be left
utterly dry and barren, and they will suffer anguish, and the memory of them
20: They will come with dread when their sins are
reckoned up, and their lawless deeds will convict them to their face.
1: Then the righteous man will stand with great
confidence in the presence of those who have afflicted him, and those who make
light of his labors.
2: When they see him, they will be shaken with
dreadful fear, and they will be amazed at his unexpected salvation.
3: They will speak to one another in repentance, and in anguish of
spirit they will groan, and say,
4: "This is the man whom we once
held in derision and made a byword of reproach -- we fools! We thought that his
life was madness and that his end was without honor.
5: Why has he
been numbered among the sons of God? And why is his lot among the saints?
6: So it was we who strayed from the way of truth, and the light of
righteousness did not shine on us, and the sun did not rise upon us.
7: We took our fill of the paths of lawlessness and destruction, and
we journeyed through trackless deserts, but the way of the Lord we have not
8: What has our arrogance profited us? And what good has our
boasted wealth brought us?
9: "All those things have vanished like a
shadow, and like a rumor that passes by;
10: like a ship that sails
through the billowy water, and when it has passed no trace can be found, nor
track of its keel in the waves;
11: or as, when a bird flies through
the air, no evidence of its passage is found; the light air, lashed by the beat
of its pinions and pierced by the force of its rushing flight, is traversed by
the movement of its wings, and afterward no sign of its coming is found there;
12: or as, when an arrow is shot at a target, the air, thus divided,
comes together at once, so that no one knows its pathway.
13: So we
also, as soon as we were born, ceased to be, and we had no sign of virtue to
show, but were consumed in our wickedness."
14: Because the hope of
the ungodly man is like chaff carried by the wind, and like a light hoarfrost
driven away by a storm; it is dispersed like smoke before the wind, and it
passes like the remembrance of a guest who stays but a day.
the righteous live for ever, and their reward is with the Lord; the Most High
takes care of them.
16: Therefore they will receive a glorious crown
and a beautiful diadem from the hand of the Lord, because with his right hand he
will cover them, and with his arm he will shield them.
17: The Lord
will take his zeal as his whole armor, and will arm all creation to repel his
18: he will put on righteousness as a breastplate, and wear
impartial justice as a helmet;
19: he will take holiness as an
20: and sharpen stern wrath for a sword, and
creation will join with him to fight against the madmen.
of lightning will fly with true aim, and will leap to the target as from a
well-drawn bow of clouds,
22: and hailstones full of wrath will be
hurled as from a catapult; the water of the sea will rage against them, and
rivers will relentlessly overwhelm them;
23: a mighty wind will rise
against them , and like a tempest it will winnow them away. Lawlessness will lay
waste the whole earth, and evil-doing will overturn the thrones of rulers.
1: Listen therefore, O kings, and understand;
learn, O judges of the ends of the earth.
2: Give ear, you that rule
over multitudes, and boast of many nations.
3: For your dominion was
given you from the Lord, and your sovereignty from the Most High, who will
search out your works and inquire into your plans.
4: Because as
servants of his kingdom you did not rule rightly, nor keep the law, nor walk
according to the purpose of God,
5: he will come upon you terribly
and swiftly, because severe judgment falls on those in high places.
6: For the lowliest man may be pardoned in mercy, but mighty men will
be mightily tested.
7: For the Lord of all will not stand in awe of
any one, nor show deference to greatness; because he himself made both small and
great, and he takes thought for all alike.
8: But a strict inquiry is
in store for the mighty.
9: To you then, O monarchs, my words are
directed, that you may learn wisdom and not transgress.
10: For they
will be made holy who observe holy things in holiness, and those who have been
taught them will find a defense.
11: Therefore set your desire on my
words; long for them, and you will be instructed.
12: Wisdom is
radiant and unfading, and she is easily discerned by those who love her, and is
found by those who seek her.
13: She hastens to make herself known to
those who desire her.
14: He who rises early to seek her will have no
difficulty, for he will find her sitting at his gates.
15: To fix
one's thought on her is perfect understanding, and he who is vigilant on her
account will soon be free from care,
16: because she goes about
seeking those worthy of her, and she graciously appears to them in their paths,
and meets them in every thought.
17: The beginning of wisdom is the
most sincere desire for instruction, and concern for instruction is love of her,
18: and love of her is the keeping of her laws, and giving heed to
her laws is assurance of immortality,
19: and immortality brings one
near to God;
20: so the desire for wisdom leads to a kingdom.
21: Therefore if you delight in thrones and scepters, O monarchs over
the peoples, honor wisdom, that you may reign for ever.
22: I will
tell you what wisdom is and how she came to be, and I will hide no secrets from
you, but I will trace her course from the beginning of creation, and make
knowledge of her clear, and I will not pass by the truth;
will I travel in the company of sickly envy, for envy does not associate with
24: A multitude of wise men is the salvation of the world,
and a sensible king is the stability of his people.
25: Therefore be
instructed by my words, and you will profit.
1: I also am mortal, like all men, a descendant of
the first-formed child of earth; and in the womb of a mother I was molded into
2: within the period of ten months, compacted with blood, from
the seed of a man and the pleasure of marriage.
3: And when I was
born, I began to breathe the common air, and fell upon the kindred earth, and my
first sound was a cry, like that of all.
4: I was nursed with care in
5: For no king has had a different beginning of
6: there is for all mankind one entrance into life, and a
7: Therefore I prayed, and understanding was given
me; I called upon God, and the spirit of wisdom came to me.
preferred her to scepters and thrones, and I accounted wealth as nothing in
comparison with her.
9: Neither did I liken to her any priceless gem,
because all gold is but a little sand in her sight, and silver will be accounted
as clay before her.
10: I loved her more than health and beauty, and
I chose to have her rather than light, because her radiance never ceases.
11: All good things came to me along with her, and in her hands
12: I rejoiced in them all, because wisdom leads
them; but I did not know that she was their mother.
13: I learned
without guile and I impart without grudging; I do not hide her wealth,
14: for it is an unfailing treasure for men; those who get it obtain
friendship with God, commended for the gifts that come from instruction.
15: May God grant that I speak with judgment and have thought worthy
of what I have received, for he is the guide even of wisdom and the corrector of
16: For both we and our words are in his hand, as are all
understanding and skill in crafts.
17: For it is he who gave me
unerring knowledge of what exists, to know the structure of the world and the
activity of the elements;
18: the beginning and end and middle of
times, the alternations of the solstices and the changes of the seasons,
19: the cycles of the year and the constellations of the stars,
20: the natures of animals and the tempers of wild beasts, the powers
of spirits and the reasonings of men, the varieties of plants and the virtues of
21: I learned both what is secret and what is manifest,
22: for wisdom, the fashioner of all things, taught me. For in her
there is a spirit that is intelligent, holy, unique, manifold, subtle, mobile,
clear, unpolluted, distinct, invulnerable, loving the good, keen, irresistible,
23: beneficent, humane, steadfast, sure, free from anxiety,
all-powerful, overseeing all, and penetrating through all spirits that are
intelligent and pure and most subtle.
24: For wisdom is more mobile
than any motion; because of her pureness she pervades and penetrates all things.
25: For she is a breath of the power of God, and a pure emanation of
the glory of the Almighty; therefore nothing defiled gains entrance into her.
26: For she is a reflection of eternal light, a spotless mirror of
the working of God, and an image of his goodness.
27: Though she is
but one, she can do all things, and while remaining in herself, she renews all
things; in every generation she passes into holy souls and makes them friends of
God, and prophets;
28: for God loves nothing so much as the man who
lives with wisdom.
29: For she is more beautiful than the sun, and
excels every constellation of the stars. Compared with the light she is found to
30: for it is succeeded by the night, but against wisdom
evil does not prevail.
1: She reaches mightily from one end of the earth
to the other, and she orders all things well.
2: I loved her and
sought her from my youth, and I desired to take her for my bride, and I became
enamored of her beauty.
3: She glorifies her noble birth by living
with God, and the Lord of all loves her.
4: For she is an initiate in
the knowledge of God, and an associate in his works.
5: If riches are
a desirable possession in life, what is richer than wisdom who effects all
6: And if understanding is effective, who more than she is
fashioner of what exists?
7: And if any one loves righteousness, her
labors are virtues; for she teaches self-control and prudence, justice and
courage; nothing in life is more profitable for men than these.
And if any one longs for wide experience, she knows the things of old, and
infers the things to come; she understands turns of speech and the solutions of
riddles; she has foreknowledge of signs and wonders and of the outcome of
seasons and times.
9: Therefore I determined to take her to live with
me, knowing that she would give me good counsel and encouragement in cares and
10: Because of her I shall have glory among the multitudes and
honor in the presence of the elders, though I am young.
11: I shall
be found keen in judgment, and in the sight of rulers I shall be admired.
12: When I am silent they will wait for me, and when I speak they
will give heed; and when I speak at greater length they will put their hands on
13: Because of her I shall have immortality, and leave
an everlasting remembrance to those who come after me.
14: I shall
govern peoples, and nations will be subject to me;
15: dread monarchs
will be afraid of me when they hear of me; among the people I shall show myself
capable, and courageous in war.
16: When I enter my house, I shall
find rest with her, for companionship with her has no bitterness, and life with
her has no pain, but gladness and joy.
17: When I considered these
things inwardly, and thought upon them in my mind, that in kinship with wisdom
there is immortality,
18: and in friendship with her, pure delight,
and in the labors of her hands, unfailing wealth, and in the experience of her
company, understanding, and renown in sharing her words, I went about seeking
how to get her for myself.
19: As a child I was by nature well
endowed, and a good soul fell to my lot;
20: or rather, being good, I
entered an undefiled body.
21: But I perceived that I would not
possess wisdom unless God gave her to me -- and it was a mark of insight to know
whose gift she was -- so I appealed to the Lord and besought him, and with my
whole heart I said:
1: "O God of my fathers and Lord of mercy, who hast
made all things by thy word,
2: and by thy wisdom hast formed man, to
have dominion over the creatures thou hast made,
3: and rule the
world in holiness and righteousness, and pronounce judgment in uprightness of
4: give me the wisdom that sits by thy throne, and do not
reject me from among thy servants.
5: For I am thy slave and the son
of thy maidservant, a man who is weak and short-lived, with little understanding
of judgment and laws;
6: for even if one is perfect among the sons of
men, yet without the wisdom that comes from thee he will be regarded as nothing.
7: Thou hast chosen me to be king of thy people and to be judge over
thy sons and daughters.
8: Thou hast given command to build a temple
on thy holy mountain, and an altar in the city of thy habitation, a copy of the
holy tent which thou didst prepare from the beginning.
9: With thee
is wisdom, who knows thy works and was present when thou didst make the world,
and who understand what is pleasing in thy sight and what is right according to
10: Send her forth from the holy heavens, and from
the throne of thy glory send her, that she may be with me and toil, and that I
may learn what is pleasing to thee.
11: For she knows and understands
all things, and she will guide me wisely in my actions and guard me with her
12: Then my works will be acceptable, and I shall judge thy
people justly, and shall be worthy of the throne of my father.
For what man can learn the counsel of God? Or who can discern what the Lord
14: For the reasoning of mortals is worthless, and our designs
are likely to fail,
15: for a perishable body weighs down the soul,
and this earthy tent burdens the thoughtful mind.
16: We can hardly
guess at what is on earth, and what is at hand we find with labor; but who has
traced out what is in the heavens?
17: Who has learned thy counsel,
unless thou hast given wisdom and sent thy holy Spirit from on high?
18: And thus the paths of those on earth were set right, and men were
taught what pleases thee, and were saved by wisdom."
1: Wisdom protected the first-formed father of the
world, when he alone had been created; she delivered him from his transgression,
2: and gave him strength to rule all things.
3: But when
an unrighteous man departed from her in his anger, he perished because in rage
he slew his brother.
4: When the earth was flooded because of him,
wisdom again saved it, steering the righteous man by a paltry piece of wood.
5: Wisdom also, when the nations in wicked agreement had been
confounded, recognized the righteous man and preserved him blameless before God,
and kept him strong in the face of his compassion for his child.
Wisdom rescued a righteous man when the ungodly were perishing; he escaped the
fire that descended on the Five Cities.
7: Evidence of their
wickedness still remains: a continually smoking wasteland, plants bearing fruit
that does not ripen, and a pillar of salt standing as a monument to an
8: For because they passed wisdom by, they not only
were hindered from recognizing the good, but also left for mankind a reminder of
their folly, so that their failures could never go unnoticed.
Wisdom rescued from troubles those who served her.
10: When a
righteous man fled from his brother's wrath, she guided him on straight paths;
she showed him the kingdom of God, and gave him knowledge of angels; she
prospered him in his labors, and increased the fruit of his toil.
When his oppressors were covetous, she stood by him and made him rich.
12: She protected him from his enemies, and kept him safe from those
who lay in wait for him; in his arduous contest she gave him the victory, so
that he might learn that godliness is more powerful than anything.
13: When a righteous man was sold, wisdom did not desert him, but
delivered him from sin. She descended with him into the dungeon,
and when he was in prison she did not leave him, until she brought him the
scepter of a kingdom and authority over his masters. Those who accused him she
showed to be false, and she gave him everlasting honor.
15: A holy
people and blameless race wisdom delivered from a nation of oppressors.
16: She entered the soul of a servant of the Lord, and withstood
dread kings with wonders and signs.
17: She gave holy men the reward
of their labors; she guided them along a marvelous way, and became a shelter to
them by day, and a starry flame through the night.
18: She brought
them over the Red Sea, and led them through deep waters;
19: but she
drowned their enemies, and cast them up from the depth of the sea.
20: Therefore the righteous plundered the ungodly; they sang hymns, O
Lord, to thy holy name, and praised with one accord thy defending hand,
21: because wisdom opened the mouth of the dumb, and made the tongues
of babes speak clearly.
1: Wisdom prospered their works by the hand of a
2: They journeyed through an uninhabited wilderness,
and pitched their tents in untrodden places.
3: They withstood their
enemies and fought off their foes.
4: When they thirsted they called
upon thee, and water was given them out of flinty rock, and slaking of thirst
from hard stone.
5: For through the very things by which their
enemies were punished, they themselves received benefit in their need.
6: Instead of the fountain of an ever-flowing river, stirred up and
defiled with blood
7: in rebuke for the decree to slay the infants,
thou gavest them abundant water unexpectedly,
8: showing by their
thirst at that time how thou didst punish their enemies.
9: For when
they were tried, though they were being disciplined in mercy, they learned how
the ungodly were tormented when judged in wrath.
10: For thou didst
test them as a father does in warning, but thou didst examine the ungodly as a
stern king does in condemnation.
11: Whether absent or present, they
were equally distressed,
12: for a twofold grief possessed them, and
a groaning at the memory of what had occurred.
13: For when they
heard that through their own punishments the righteous had received benefit,
they perceived it was the Lord's doing.
14: For though they had
mockingly rejected him who long before had been cast out and exposed, at the end
of the events they marveled at him, for their thirst was not like that of the
15: In return for their foolish and wicked thoughts, which
led them astray to worship irrational serpents and worthless animals, thou didst
send upon them a multitude of irrational creatures to punish them,
16: that they might learn that one is punished by the very things by
which he sins.
17: For thy all-powerful hand, which created the world
out of formless matter, did not lack the means to send upon them a multitude of
bears, or bold lions,
18: or newly created unknown beasts full of
rage, or such as breathe out fiery breath, or belch forth a thick pall of smoke,
or flash terrible sparks from their eyes;
19: not only could their
damage exterminate men, but the mere sight of them could kill by fright.
20: Even apart from these, men could fall at a single breath when
pursued by justice and scattered by the breath of thy power. But thou hast
arranged all things by measure and number and weight.
21: For it is
always in thy power to show great strength, and who can withstand the might of
22: Because the whole world before thee is like a speck that
tips the scales, and like a drop of morning dew that falls upon the ground.
23: But thou art merciful to all, for thou canst do all things, and
thou dost overlook men's sins, that they may repent.
24: For thou
lovest all things that exist, and hast loathing for none of the things which
thou hast made, for thou wouldst not have made anything if thou hadst hated it.
25: How would anything have endured if thou hadst not willed it? Or
how would anything not called forth by thee have been preserved?
Thou sparest all things, for they are thine, O Lord who lovest the living.
1: For thy immortal spirit is in all things.
2: Therefore thou dost correct little by little those who trespass,
and dost remind and warn them of the things wherein they sin, that they may be
freed from wickedness and put their trust in thee, O Lord.
who dwelt of old in thy holy land
4: thou didst hate for their
detestable practices, their works of sorcery and unholy rites,
their merciless slaughter of children, and their sacrificial feasting on human
flesh and blood. These initiates from the midst of a heathen cult,
these parents who murder helpless lives, thou didst will to destroy by the hands
of our fathers,
7: that the land most precious of all to thee might
receive a worthy colony of the servants of God.
8: But even these
thou didst spare, since they were but men, and didst send wasps as forerunners
of thy army, to destroy them little by little,
9: though thou wast
not unable to give the ungodly into the hands of the righteous in battle, or to
destroy them at one blow by dread wild beasts or thy stern word.
But judging them little by little thou gavest them a chance to repent, though
thou wast not unaware that their origin was evil and their wickedness inborn,
and that their way of thinking would never change.
11: For they were
an accursed race from the beginning, and it was not through fear of any one that
thou didst leave them unpunished for their sins.
12: For who will
say, "What hast thou done?" Or will resist thy judgment? Who will accuse thee
for the destruction of nations which thou didst make? Or who will come before
thee to plead as an advocate for unrighteous men?
13: For neither is
there any god besides thee, whose care is for all men, to whom thou shouldst
prove that thou hast not judged unjustly;
14: nor can any king or
monarch confront thee about those whom thou hast punished.
art righteous and rulest all things righteously, deeming it alien to thy power
to condemn him who does not deserve to be punished.
16: For thy
strength is the source of righteousness, and thy sovereignty over all causes
thee to spare all.
17: For thou dost show thy strength when men doubt
the completeness of thy power, and dost rebuke any insolence among those who
18: Thou who art sovereign in strength dost judge with
mildness, and with great forbearance thou dost govern us; for thou hast power to
act whenever thou dost choose.
19: Through such works thou has taught
thy people that the righteous man must be kind, and thou hast filled thy sons
with good hope, because thou givest repentance for sins.
20: For if
thou didst punish with such great care and indulgence the enemies of thy
servants and those deserving of death, granting them time and opportunity to
give up their wickedness,
21: with what strictness thou hast judged
thy sons, to whose fathers thou gavest oaths and covenants full of good
22: So while chastening us thou scourgest our enemies ten
thousand times more, so that we may meditate upon thy goodness when we judge,
and when we are judged we may expect mercy.
23: Therefore those who
in folly of life lived unrighteously thou didst torment through their own
24: For they went far astray on the paths of error,
accepting as gods those animals which even their enemies despised; they were
deceived like foolish babes.
25: Therefore, as to thoughtless
children, thou didst send thy judgment to mock them.
26: But those
who have not heeded the warning of light rebukes will experience the deserved
judgment of God.
27: For when in their suffering they became incensed
at those creatures which they had thought to be gods, being punished by means of
them, they saw and recognized as the true God him whom they had before refused
to know. Therefore the utmost condemnation came upon them.
1: For all men who were ignorant of God were
foolish by nature; and they were unable from the good things that are seen to
know him who exists, nor did they recognize the craftsman while paying heed to
2: but they supposed that either fire or wind or swift
air, or the circle of the stars, or turbulent water, or the luminaries of heaven
were the gods that rule the world.
3: If through delight in the
beauty of these things men assumed them to be gods, let them know how much
better than these is their Lord, for the author of beauty created them.
4: And if men were amazed at their power and working, let them
perceive from them how much more powerful is he who formed them.
For from the greatness and beauty of created things comes a corresponding
perception of their Creator.
6: Yet these men are little to be
blamed, for perhaps they go astray while seeking God and desiring to find him.
7: For as they live among his works they keep searching, and they
trust in what they see, because the things that are seen are beautiful.
8: Yet again, not even they are to be excused;
9: for if
they had the power to know so much that they could investigate the world, how
did they fail to find sooner the Lord of these things?
miserable, with their hopes set on dead things, are the men who give the name
"gods" to the works of men's hands, gold and silver fashioned with skill, and
likenesses of animals, or a useless stone, the work of an ancient hand.
11: A skilled woodcutter may saw down a tree easy to handle and
skilfully strip off all its bark, and then with pleasing workmanship make a
useful vessel that serves life's needs,
12: and burn the castoff
pieces of his work to prepare his food, and eat his fill.
13: But a
castoff piece from among them, useful for nothing, a stick crooked and full of
knots, he takes and carves with care in his leisure, and shapes it with skill
gained in idleness; he forms it like the image of a man,
14: or makes
it like some worthless animal, giving it a coat of red paint and coloring its
surface red and covering every blemish in it with paint;
15: then he
makes for it a niche that befits it, and sets it in the wall, and fastens it
there with iron.
16: So he takes thought for it, that it may not
fall, because he knows that it cannot help itself, for it is only an image and
has need of help.
17: When he prays about possessions and his
marriage and children, he is not ashamed to address a lifeless thing.
18: For health he appeals to a thing that is weak; for life he prays
to a thing that is dead; for aid he entreats a thing that is utterly
inexperienced; for a prosperous journey, a thing that cannot take a step;
19: for money-making and work and success with his hands he asks
strength of a thing whose hands have no strength.
1: Again, one preparing to sail and about to voyage
over raging waves calls upon a piece of wood more fragile than the ship which
2: For it was desire for gain that planned that vessel,
and wisdom was the craftsman who built it;
3: but it is thy
providence, O Father, that steers its course, because thou hast given it a path
in the sea, and a safe way through the waves,
4: showing that thou
canst save from every danger, so that even if a man lacks skill, he may put to
5: It is thy will that works of thy wisdom should not be without
effect; therefore men trust their lives even to the smallest piece of wood, and
passing through the billows on a raft they come safely to land.
For even in the beginning, when arrogant giants were perishing, the hope of the
world took refuge on a raft, and guided by thy hand left to the world the seed
of a new generation.
7: For blessed is the wood by which
8: But the idol made with hands is accursed, and
so is he who made it; because he did the work, and the perishable thing was
named a god.
9: For equally hateful to God are the ungodly man and
10: for what was done will be punished together with
him who did it.
11: Therefore there will be a visitation also upon
the heathen idols, because, though part of what God created, they became an
abomination, and became traps for the souls of men and a snare to the feet of
12: For the idea of making idols was the beginning of
fornication, and the invention of them was the corruption of life,
13: for neither have they existed from the beginning nor will they
exist for ever.
14: For through the vanity of men they entered the
world, and therefore their speedy end has been planned.
15: For a
father, consumed with grief at an untimely bereavement, made an image of his
child, who had been suddenly taken from him; and he now honored as a god what
was once a dead human being, and handed on to his dependents secret rites and
16: Then the ungodly custom, grown strong with time, was
kept as a law, and at the command of monarchs graven images were worshiped.
17: When men could not honor monarchs in their presence, since they
lived at a distance, they imagined their appearance far away, and made a visible
image of the king whom they honored, so that by their zeal they might flatter
the absent one as though present.
18: Then the ambition of the
craftsman impelled even those who did not know the king to intensify their
19: For he, perhaps wishing to please his ruler, skilfully
forced the likeness to take more beautiful form,
20: and the
multitude, attracted by the charm of his work, now regarded as an object of
worship the one whom shortly before they had honored as a man.
And this became a hidden trap for mankind, because men, in bondage to misfortune
or to royal authority, bestowed on objects of stone or wood the name that ought
not to be shared.
22: Afterward it was not enough for them to err
about the knowledge of God, but they live in great strife due to ignorance, and
they call such great evils peace.
23: For whether they kill children
in their initiations, or celebrate secret mysteries, or hold frenzied revels
with strange customs,
24: they no longer keep either their lives or
their marriages pure, but they either treacherously kill one another, or grieve
one another by adultery,
25: and all is a raging riot of blood and
murder, theft and deceit, corruption, faithlessness, tumult, perjury,
26: confusion over what is good, forgetfulness of favors, pollution
of souls, sex perversion, disorder in marriage, adultery, and debauchery.
27: For the worship of idols not to be named is the beginning and
cause and end of every evil.
28: For their worshipers either rave in
exultation, or prophesy lies, or live unrighteously, or readily commit perjury;
29: for because they trust in lifeless idols they swear wicked oaths
and expect to suffer no harm.
30: But just penalties will overtake
them on two counts: because they thought wickedly of God in devoting themselves
to idols, and because in deceit they swore unrighteously through contempt for
31: For it is not the power of the things by which men
swear, but the just penalty for those who sin, that always pursues the
transgression of the unrighteous.
1: But thou, our God, art kind and true, patient,
and ruling all things in mercy.
2: For even if we sin we are thine,
knowing thy power; but we will not sin, because we know that we are accounted
3: For to know thee is complete righteousness, and to know thy
power is the root of immortality.
4: For neither has the evil intent
of human art misled us, nor the fruitless toil of painters, a figure stained
with varied colors,
5: whose appearance arouses yearning in fools, so
that they desire the lifeless form of a dead image.
6: Lovers of evil
things and fit for such objects of hope are those who either make or desire or
7: For when a potter kneads the soft earth and
laboriously molds each vessel for our service, he fashions out of the same clay
both the vessels that serve clean uses and those for contrary uses, making all
in like manner; but which shall be the use of each of these the worker in clay
8: With misspent toil, he forms a futile god from the same
clay -- this man who was made of earth a short time before and after a little
while goes to the earth from which he was taken, when he is required to return
the soul that was lent him.
9: But he is not concerned that he is
destined to die or that his life is brief, but he competes with workers in gold
and silver, and imitates workers in copper; and he counts it his glory that he
molds counterfeit gods.
10: His heart is ashes, his hope is cheaper
than dirt, and his life is of less worth than clay,
11: because he
failed to know the one who formed him and inspired him with an active soul and
breathed into him a living spirit.
12: But he considered our
existence an idle game, and life a festival held for profit, for he says one
must get money however one can, even by base means.
13: For this man,
more than all others, knows that he sins when he makes from earthy matter
fragile vessels and graven images.
14: But most foolish, and more
miserable than an infant, are all the enemies who oppressed thy people.
15: For they thought that all their heathen idols were gods, though
these have neither the use of their eyes to see with, nor nostrils with which to
draw breath, nor ears with which to hear, nor fingers to feel with, and their
feet are of no use for walking.
16: For a man made them, and one
whose spirit is borrowed formed them; for no man can form a god which is like
17: He is mortal, and what he makes with lawless hands is
dead, for he is better than the objects he worships, since he has life, but they
18: The enemies of thy people worship even the most
hateful animals, which are worse than all others, when judged by their lack of
19: and even as animals they are not so beautiful in
appearance that one would desire them, but they have escaped both the praise of
God and his blessing.
1: Therefore those men were deservedly punished
through such creatures, and were tormented by a multitude of animals.
2: Instead of this punishment thou didst show kindness to thy people,
and thou didst prepare quails to eat, a delicacy to satisfy the desire of
3: in order that those men, when they desired food, might
lose the least remnant of appetite because of the odious creatures sent to them,
while thy people, after suffering want a short time, might partake of
4: For it was necessary that upon those oppressors
inexorable want should come, while to these it was merely shown how their
enemies were being tormented.
5: For when the terrible rage of wild
beasts came upon thy people and they were being destroyed by the bites of
writhing serpents, thy wrath did not continue to the end;
were troubled for a little while as a warning, and received a token of
deliverance to remind them of thy law's command.
7: For he who turned
toward it was saved, not by what he saw, but by thee, the Savior of all.
8: And by this also thou didst convince our enemies that it is thou
who deliverest from every evil.
9: For they were killed by the bites
of locusts and flies, and no healing was found for them, because they deserved
to be punished by such things;
10: but thy sons were not conquered
even by the teeth of venomous serpents, for thy mercy came to their help and
11: To remind them of thy oracles they were bitten, and
then were quickly delivered, lest they should fall into deep forgetfulness and
become unresponsive to thy kindness.
12: For neither herb nor
poultice cured them, but it was thy word, O Lord, which heals all men.
13: For thou hast power over life and death; thou dost lead men down
to the gates of Hades and back again.
14: A man in his wickedness
kills another, but he cannot bring back the departed spirit, nor set free the
15: To escape from thy hand is impossible;
16: for the ungodly, refusing to know thee, were scourged by the
strength of thy arm, pursued by unusual rains and hail and relentless storms,
and utterly consumed by fire.
17: For -- most incredible of all -- in
the water, which quenches all things, the fire had still greater effect, for the
universe defends the righteous.
18: At one time the flame was
restrained, so that it might not consume the creatures sent against the ungodly,
but that seeing this they might know that they were being pursued by the
judgment of God;
19: and at another time even in the midst of water
it burned more intensely than fire, to destroy the crops of the unrighteous
20: Instead of these things thou didst give thy people food of
angels, and without their toil thou didst supply them from heaven with bread
ready to eat, providing every pleasure and suited to every taste.
For thy sustenance manifested thy sweetness toward thy children; and the bread,
ministering to the desire of the one who took it, was changed to suit every
22: Snow and ice withstood fire without melting, so
that they might know that the crops of their enemies were being destroyed by the
fire that blazed in the hail and flashed in the showers of rain;
whereas the fire, in order that the righteous might be fed, even forgot its
24: For creation, serving thee who hast made it, exerts
itself to punish the unrighteous, and in kindness relaxes on behalf of those who
trust in thee.
25: Therefore at that time also, changed into all
forms, it served thy all-nourishing bounty, according to the desire of those who
26: so that thy sons, whom thou didst love, O Lord, might
learn that it is not the production of crops that feeds man, but that thy word
preserves those who trust in thee.
27: For what was not destroyed by
fire was melted when simply warmed by a fleeting ray of the sun,
to make it known that one must rise before the sun to give thee thanks, and must
pray to thee at the dawning of the light;
29: for the hope of an
ungrateful man will melt like wintry frost, and flow away like waste water.
1: Great are thy judgments and hard to describe;
therefore unintructed souls have gone astray.
2: For when lawless men
supposed that they held the holy nation in their power, they themselves lay as
captives of darkness and prisoners of long night, shut in under their roofs,
exiles from eternal providence.
3: For thinking that in their secret
sins they were unobserved behind a dark curtain of forgetfulness, they were
scattered, terribly alarmed, and appalled by specters.
4: For not
even the inner chamber that held them protected them from fear, but terrifying
sounds rang out around them, and dismal phantoms with gloomy faces appeared.
5: And no power of fire was able to give light, nor did the brilliant
flames of the stars avail to illumine that hateful night.
was shining through to them except a dreadful, self-kindled fire, and in terror
they deemed the things which they saw to be worse than that unseen appearance.
7: The delusions of their magic art lay humbled, and their boasted
wisdom was scornfully rebuked.
8: For those who promised to drive off
the fears and disorders of a sick soul were sick themselves with ridiculous
9: For even if nothing disturbing frightened them, yet, scared
by the passing of beasts and the hissing of serpents,
perished in trembling fear, refusing to look even at the air, though it nowhere
could be avoided.
11: For wickedness is a cowardly thing, condemned
by its own testimony; distressed by conscience, it has always exaggerated the
12: For fear is nothing but surrender of the helps that
come from reason;
13: and the inner expectation of help, being weak,
prefers ignorance of what causes the torment.
14: But throughout the
night, which was really powerless, and which beset them from the recesses of
powerless Hades, they all slept the same sleep,
15: and now were
driven by monstrous specters, and now were paralyzed by their souls' surrender,
for sudden and unexpected fear overwhelmed them.
16: And whoever was
there fell down, and thus was kept shut up in a prison not made of iron;
17: for whether he was a farmer or a shepherd or a workman who toiled
in the wilderness, he was seized, and endured the inescapable fate; for with one
chain of darkness they all were bound.
18: Whether there came a
whistling wind, or a melodious sound of birds in wide-spreading branches, or the
rhythm of violently rushing water,
19: or the harsh crash of rocks
hurled down, or the unseen running of leaping animals, or the sound of the most
savage roaring beasts, or an echo thrown back from a hollow of the mountains, it
paralyzed them with terror.
20: For the whole world was illumined
with brilliant light, and was engaged in unhindered work,
over those men alone heavy night was spread, an image of the darkness that was
destined to receive them; but still heavier than darkness were they to
1: But for thy holy ones there was very great
light. Their enemies heard their voices but did not see their forms, and counted
them happy for not having suffered,
2: and were thankful that thy
holy ones, though previously wronged, were doing them no injury; and they begged
their pardon for having been at variance with them.
3: Therefore thou
didst provide a flaming pillar of fire as a guide for thy people's unknown
journey, and a harmless sun for their glorious wandering.
their enemies deserved to be deprived of light and imprisoned in darkness, those
who had kept thy sons imprisoned, through whom the imperishable light of the law
was to be given to the world.
5: When they had resolved to kill the
babes of thy holy ones, and one child had been exposed and rescued, thou didst
in punishment take away a multitude of their children; and thou didst destroy
them all together by a mighty flood.
6: That night was made known
beforehand to our fathers, so that they might rejoice in sure knowledge of the
oaths in which they trusted.
7: The deliverance of the righteous and
the destruction of their enemies were expected by thy people.
by the same means by which thou didst punish our enemies thou didst call us to
thyself and glorify us.
9: For in secret the holy children of good
men offered sacrifices, and with one accord agreed to the divine law, that the
saints would share alike the same things, both blessings and dangers; and
already they were singing the praises of the fathers.
10: But the
discordant cry of their enemies echoed back, and their piteous lament for their
children was spread abroad.
11: The slave was punished with the same
penalty as the master, and the common man suffered the same loss as the king;
12: and they all together, by the one form of death, had corpses too
many to count. For the living were not sufficient even to bury them, since in
one instant their most valued children had been destroyed.
though they had disbelieved everything because of their magic arts, yet, when
their first-born were destroyed, they acknowledged thy people to be God's son.
14: For while gentle silence enveloped all things, and night in its
swift course was now half gone,
15: thy all-powerful word leaped from
heaven, from the royal throne, into the midst of the land that was doomed, a
16: carrying the sharp sword of thy authentic command,
and stood and filled all things with death, and touched heaven while standing on
17: Then at once apparitions in dreadful dreams greatly
troubled them, and unexpected fears assailed them;
18: and one here
and another there, hurled down half dead, made known why they were dying;
19: for the dreams which disturbed them forewarned them of this, so
that they might not perish without knowing why they suffered.
experience of death touched also the righteous, and a plague came upon the
multitude in the desert, but the wrath did not long continue.
a blameless man was quick to act as their champion; he brought forward the
shield of his ministry, prayer and propitiation by incense; he withstood the
anger and put an end to the disaster, showing that he was thy servant.
22: He conquered the wrath not by strength of body, and not by force
of arms, but by his word he subdued the punisher, appealing to the oaths and
covenants given to our fathers.
23: For when the dead had already
fallen on one another in heaps, he intervened and held back the wrath, and cut
off its way to the living.
24: For upon his long robe the whole world
was depicted, and the glories of the fathers were engraved on the four rows of
stones, and thy majesty on the diadem upon his head.
25: To these the
destroyer yielded, these he feared; for merely to test the wrath was enough.
1: But the ungodly were assailed to the end by
pitiless anger, for God knew in advance even their future actions,
that, though they themselves had permitted thy people to depart and hastily sent
them forth, they would change their minds and pursue them.
while they were still busy at mourning, and were lamenting at the graves of
their dead, they reached another foolish decision, and pursued as fugitives
those whom they had begged and compelled to depart.
4: For the fate
they deserved drew them on to this end, and made them forget what had happened,
in order that they might fill up the punishment which their torments still
5: and that thy people might experience an incredible
journey, but they themselves might meet a strange death.
6: For the
whole creation in its nature was fashioned anew, complying with thy commands,
that thy children might be kept unharmed.
7: The cloud was seen
overshadowing the camp, and dry land emerging where water had stood before, an
unhindered way out of the Red Sea, and a grassy plain out of the raging waves,
8: where those protected by thy hand passed through as one nation,
after gazing on marvelous wonders.
9: For they ranged like horses,
and leaped like lambs, praising thee, O Lord, who didst deliver them.
10: For they still recalled the events of their sojourn, how instead
of producing animals the earth brought forth gnats, and instead of fish the
river spewed out vast numbers of frogs.
11: Afterward they saw also a
new kind of birds, when desire led them to ask for luxurious food;
12: for, to give them relief, quails came up from the sea.
13: The punishments did not come upon the sinners without prior signs
in the violence of thunder, for they justly suffered because of their wicked
acts; for they practiced a more bitter hatred of strangers.
Others had refused to receive strangers when they came to them, but these made
slaves of guests who were their benefactors.
15: And not only so, but
punishment of some sort will come upon the former for their hostile reception of
16: but the latter, after receiving them with festal
celebrations, afflicted with terrible sufferings those who had already shared
the same rights.
17: They were stricken also with loss of sight --
just as were those at the door of the righteous man -- when, surrounded by
yawning darkness, each tried to find the way through his own door.
18: For the elements changed places with one another, as on a harp
the notes vary the nature of the rhythm, while each note remains the same. This
may be clearly inferred from the sight of what took place.
land animals were transformed into water creatures, and creatures that swim
moved over to the land.
20: Fire even in water retained its normal
power, and water forgot its fire-quenching nature.
21: Flames, on the
contrary, failed to consume the flesh of perishable creatures that walked among
them, nor did they melt the crystalline, easily melted kind of heavenly food.
22: For in everything, O Lord, thou hast exalted and glorified thy
people; and thou hast not neglected to help them at all times and in all places.