By April 8, 2008 0 Comments Read More →

Wisdom of Solomon 1-6: Righteousness and Foolishness

Greco-Roman Period
1Love righteousness, you rulers of the earth,

think of the Lord in goodness

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 people from God,

and when his power is tested, it exposes the foolish;

4 because wisdom will not enter a deceitful soul,

or dwell in a body enslaved to sin.

5 For a holy and disciplined spirit will flee from deceit,

and will leave foolish thoughts behind,

and will be ashamed at the approach of unrighteousness.

6 For wisdom is a kindly spirit,

but will not free blasphemers from the guilt of their words;

because God is witness of their inmost feelings,

and a true observer of their hearts, and a hearer of their tongues.

7 Because the spirit of the Lord has filled the world,

and that which holds all things together knows what is said,

8 therefore those who utter unrighteous things will not escape notice,

and justice, when it punishes, will not pass them by.

9 For inquiry will be made into the counsels of the ungodly,

and a report of their words will come to the Lord,

to convict them of their lawless deeds;

10 because a jealous ear hears all things,

and the sound of grumbling does not go unheard.

11 Beware then of useless grumbling,

and keep your tongue from slander;

because no secret word is without result,

and a lying mouth destroys the soul.

12 Do not invite death by the error of your life,

or 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 so that they might exist;

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.

15 For righteousness is immortal.

16 But the ungodly by their words and deeds summoned death;

considering him a friend, they pined away

and made a covenant with him,

because they are fit to belong to his company.

2For they reasoned unsoundly, saying to themselves,

‘Short and sorrowful is our life,

and there is no remedy when a life comes to its end,

and no one has been known to return from Hades.

2 For we were born by mere chance,

and hereafter we shall be as though we had never been,

for 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 us by.

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

or regard the grey hairs of the aged.

11 But let our might be our law of right,

for what is weak proves itself to be useless.

12 ‘Let 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 child, he will help him,

and will deliver him from the hand of his adversaries.

19 Let us test him with insult and torture,

so 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 hoped for the wages of holiness,

nor discerned the prize for blameless souls;

23 for God created us for incorruption,

and made us in the image of his own eternity,

24 but through the devil’s envy death entered the world,

and those who belong to his company experience it.

3But 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 a disaster,

3 and their going from us to be their destruction;

but they are at peace.

4 For though in the sight of others 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.

7 In 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 holy ones,

and he watches over his elect.

10 But the ungodly will be punished as their reasoning deserves,

those who disregarded the righteous

and rebelled against the Lord;

11 for those who despise wisdom and instruction are miserable.

Their hope is vain, their labours are unprofitable,

and their works are useless.

12 Their wives are foolish, and their children evil;

13 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 souls.

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 favour 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 labours is renowned,

and the root of understanding does not fail.

16 But 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 honour.

18 If they die young, they will have no hope

and no consolation on the day of judgement.

19 For the end of an unrighteous generation is grievous.

4Better than this is childlessness with virtue,

for in the memory of virtue is immortality,

because it is known bothby God and by mortals.

2 When it is present, people imitate it,

and they long for it when it has gone;

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.

5 The 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.

6 For children born of unlawful unions

are witnesses of evil against their parents when God examines them.

7 But the righteous, though they die early, will be at rest.

8 For old age is not honoured for length of time,

or measured by number of years;

9 but understanding is grey hair for anyone,

and a blameless life is ripe old age.

10 There were some who pleased God and were loved by him,

and while living among sinners were taken up.

11 They were caught up so that evil might not change their understanding

or guile deceive their souls.

12 For the fascination of wickedness obscures what is good,

and roving desire perverts the innocent mind.

13 Being perfected in a short time, they fulfilled long years;

14 for their souls were pleasing to the Lord,

therefore he took them quickly from the midst of wickedness.

15 Yet the peoples saw and did not understand,

or take such a thing to heart,

that God’s grace and mercy are with his elect,

and that he watches over his holy ones.

16 The righteous who have died will condemn the ungodly who are living,

and youth that is quickly perfected will condemn the prolonged old age of the
unrighteous.

17 For they will see the end of the wise,

and will not understand what the Lord purposed for them,

and for what he kept them safe.

18 The unrighteous will see, and will have contempt for them,

but the Lord will laugh them to scorn.

After this they will become dishonoured 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 will perish.

20 They will come with dread when their sins are reckoned up,

and their lawless deeds will convict them to their face.

5Then the righteous will stand with great confidence

in the presence of those who have oppressed them

and those who make light of their labours.

2 When the unrighteous see them, they will be shaken with dreadful fear,

and they will be amazed at the unexpected salvation of the righteous.

3 They will speak to one another in repentance,

and in anguish of spirit they will groan, and say,

4 ‘These are persons whom we once held in derision

and made a byword of reproach—fools that we were!

We thought that their lives were madness

and that their end was without honour.

5 Why have they been numbered among the children of God?

And why is their 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 known.

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 rumour that passes by;

10 like a ship that sails through the billowy water,

and when it has passed no trace can be found,

no 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 afterwards 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 is like thistledown carried by the wind,

and like a light frost 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.

15 But 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 armour,

and will arm all creation to repel his enemies;

18 he will put on righteousness as a breastplate,

and wear impartial justice as a helmet;

19 he will take holiness as an invincible shield,

20 and sharpen stern wrath for a sword,

and creation will join with him to fight against his frenzied foes.

21 Shafts of lightning will fly with true aim,

and will leap from the clouds to the target, as from a well-drawn bow,

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 evildoing will overturn the thrones of rulers.

6Listen 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;

he will search out your works and inquire into your plans.

4 Because as servants of his kingdom you did not rule rightly,

or keep the law,

or walk according to the purpose of God,

5 he will come upon you terribly and swiftly,

because severe judgement falls on those in high places.

6 For the lowliest may be pardoned in mercy,

but the mighty will be mightily tested.

7 For the Lord of all will not stand in awe of anyone,

or 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,

so 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 defence.

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 One who rises early to seek her will have no difficulty,

for she will be found sitting at the gate.

15 To fix one’s thought on her is perfect understanding,

and one 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.

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