10Wisdom* 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 killed 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 put to confusion,
recognized the righteous man and preserved him blameless before God,
and kept him strong in the face of his compassion for his child.
6 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 waste-land,
plants bearing fruit that does not ripen,
and a pillar of salt standing as a monument to an unbelieving soul.
8 For because they passed wisdom by,
they not only were hindered from recognizing the good,
but also left for humankind a reminder of their folly,
so that their failures could never go unnoticed.
9 Wisdom rescued from troubles those who served her.
10 When a righteous man fled from his brothers wrath,
she guided him on straight paths;
she showed him the kingdom of God,
and gave him knowledge of holy things;
she prospered him in his labours,
and increased the fruit of his toil.
11 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 else.
13 When a righteous man was sold, wisdom* did not desert him,
but delivered him from sin.
She descended with him into the dungeon,
14 and when he was in prison she did not leave him,
until she brought him the sceptre of a kingdom
and authority over his masters.
Those who accused him she showed to be false,
and she gave him everlasting honour.
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 to holy people the reward of their labours;
she guided them along a marvellous 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 depths of the sea.
20 Therefore the righteous plundered the ungodly;
they sang hymns, O Lord, to your holy name,
and praised with one accord your defending hand;
21 for wisdom opened the mouths of those who were mute,
and made the tongues of infants speak clearly.
11Wisdom* prospered their works by the hand of a holy prophet.
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 were thirsty, they called upon you,
and water was given them out of flinty rock,
and from hard stone a remedy for their thirst.
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 kill the infants,
you gave them abundant water unexpectedly,
8 showing by their thirst at that time
how you punished 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 you tested them as a parent* does in warning,
but you examined 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 Lords 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 marvelled at him,
when they felt thirst in a different way from the righteous.
15 In return for their foolish and wicked thoughts,
which led them astray to worship irrational serpents and worthless animals,
you sent upon them a multitude of irrational creatures to punish them,
16 so that they might learn that one is punished by the very things by which one sins.
17 For your 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 the harm they did destroy people,*
but the mere sight of them could kill by fright.
20 Even apart from these, people* could fall at a single breath
when pursued by justice
and scattered by the breath of your power.
But you have arranged all things by measure and number and weight.
21 For it is always in your power to show great strength,
and who can withstand the might of your arm?
22 Because the whole world before you is like a speck that tips the scales,
and like a drop of morning dew that falls on the ground.
23 But you are merciful to all, for you can do all things,
and you overlook peoples sins, so that they may repent.
24 For you love all things that exist,
and detest none of the things that you have made,
for you would not have made anything if you had hated it.
25 How would anything have endured if you had not willed it?
Or how would anything not called forth by you have been preserved?
26 You spare all things, for they are yours, O Lord, you who love the living.
12For your immortal spirit is in all things.
2 Therefore you correct little by little those who trespass,
and you remind and warn them of the things through which they sin,
so that they may be freed from wickedness and put their trust in you, O Lord.
3 Those who lived long ago in your holy land
4 you hated for their detestable practices,
their works of sorcery and unholy rites,
5 their merciless slaughter* of children,
and their sacrificial feasting on human flesh and blood.
These initiates from the midst of a heathen cult,*
6 these parents who murder helpless lives,
you willed to destroy by the hands of our ancestors,
7 so that the land most precious of all to you
might receive a worthy colony of the servants* of God.
8 But even these you spared, since they were but mortals,
and sent wasps* as forerunners of your army
to destroy them little by little,
9 though you were not unable to give the ungodly into the hands of the righteous in battle,
or to destroy them at one blow by dread wild animals or your stern word.
10 But judging them little by little you gave them an opportunity to repent,
though you were 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 anyone that you left them unpunished for their sins.
12 For who will say, What have you done?
or will resist your judgement?
Who will accuse you for the destruction of nations that you made?
Or who will come before you to plead as an advocate for the unrighteous?
13 For neither is there any god besides you, whose care is for all people,*
to whom you should prove that you have not judged unjustly;
14 nor can any king or monarch confront you about those whom you have punished.
15 You are righteous and you rule all things righteously,
deeming it alien to your power
to condemn anyone who does not deserve to be punished.
16 For your strength is the source of righteousness,
and your sovereignty over all causes you to spare all.
17 For you show your strength when people doubt the completeness of your power,
and you rebuke any insolence among those who know it.*
18 Although you are sovereign in strength, you judge with mildness,
and with great forbearance you govern us;
for you have power to act whenever you choose.
19 Through such works you have taught your people
that the righteous must be kind,
and you have filled your children with good hope,
because you give repentance for sins.
20 For if you punished with such great care and indulgence*
the enemies of your servants* and those deserving of death,
granting them time and opportunity to give up their wickedness,
21 with what strictness you have judged your children,
to whose ancestors you gave oaths and covenants full of good promises!
22 So while chastening us you scourge our enemies ten thousand times more,
so that, when we judge, we may meditate upon your goodness,
and when we are judged, we may expect mercy.
23 Therefore those who lived unrighteously, in a life of folly,
you tormented through their own abominations.
24 For they went far astray on the paths of error,
accepting as gods those animals that even their enemies* despised;
they were deceived like foolish infants.
25 Therefore, as though to children who cannot reason,
you sent your judgement to mock them.
26 But those who have not heeded the warning of mild rebukes
will experience the deserved judgement of God.
27 For when in their suffering they became incensed
at those creatures that they had thought to be gods, being punished by means of them,
they saw and recognized as the true God the one whom they had before refused to know.
Therefore the utmost condemnation came upon them.
13For all people who were ignorant of God were foolish by nature;
and they were unable from the good things that are seen to know the one who exists,
nor did they recognize the artisan while paying heed to his works;
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 people 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 people* were amazed at their power and working,
let them perceive from them
how much more powerful is the one who formed them.
5 For from the greatness and beauty of created things
comes a corresponding perception of their Creator.
6 Yet these people are little to be blamed,
for perhaps they go astray
while seeking God and desiring to find him.
7 For while 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?
10 But miserable, with their hopes set on dead things, are those
who give the name gods to the works of human 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 lifes needs,
12 and burn the cast-off pieces of his work
to prepare his food, and eat his fill.
13 But a cast-off 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 in the likeness of a human being,
14 or makes it like some worthless animal,
giving it a coat of red paint and colouring its surface red
and covering every blemish in it with paint;
15 then he makes a suitable niche for it,
and sets it in the wall, and fastens it there with iron.
16 He takes thought for it, so 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.
14Again, one preparing to sail and about to voyage over raging waves
calls upon a piece of wood more fragile than the ship that carries him.
2 For it was desire for gain that planned that vessel,
and wisdom was the artisan who built it;
3 but it is your providence, O Father, that steers its course,
because you have given it a path in the sea,
and a safe way through the waves,
4 showing that you can save from every danger,
so that even a person who lacks skill may put to sea.
5 It is your will that works of your wisdom should not be without effect;
therefore people trust their lives even to the smallest piece of wood,
and passing through the billows on a raft they come safely to land.
6 For even in the beginning, when arrogant giants were perishing,
the hope of the world took refuge on a raft,
and guided by your hand left to the world the seed of a new generation.
7 For blessed is the wood by which righteousness comes.
8 But the idol made with hands is accursed, and so is the one who made it
he for having made it, and the perishable thing because it was named a god.
9 For equally hateful to God are the ungodly and their ungodliness;
10 for what was done will be punished together with the one 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,
snares for human souls
and a trap for the feet of the foolish.
12 For the idea of making idols was the beginning of fornication,
and the invention of them was the corruption of life;
13 for they did not exist from the beginning,
nor will they last for ever.
14 For through human vanity 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;
he now honoured as a god what was once a dead human being,
and handed on to his dependants secret rites and initiations.
16 Then the ungodly custom, grown strong with time, was kept as a law,
and at the command of monarchs carved images were worshipped.
17 When people could not honour 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 honoured,
so that by their zeal they might flatter the absent one as though present.
18 Then the ambition of the artisan impelled
even those who did not know the king to intensify their worship.
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 honoured as a human being.
21 And this became a hidden trap for humankind,
because people, in bondage to misfortune or to royal authority,
bestowed on objects of stone or wood the name that ought not to be shared.
22 Then it was not enough for them to err about the knowledge of God,
but though living in great strife due to ignorance,
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 favours,
defiling of souls, sexual perversion,
disorder in marriages, 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 worshippers* 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 wrongly about God in devoting themselves to idols,
and because in deceit they swore unrighteously through contempt for holiness.
31 For it is not the power of the things by which people swear,*
but the just penalty for those who sin,
that always pursues the transgression of the unrighteous.
15But you, our God, are kind and true,
patient, and ruling all things* in mercy.
2 For even if we sin we are yours, knowing your power;
but we will not sin, because we know that you acknowledge us as yours.
3 For to know you is complete righteousness,
and to know your 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 colours,
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 worship them.
7 A potter kneads the soft earth
and laboriously moulds each vessel for our service,
fashioning out of the same clay
both the vessels that serve clean uses
and those for contrary uses, making all alike;
but which shall be the use of each of them
the worker in clay decides.
8 With misspent toil, these workers form a futile god from the same clay
these mortals who were made of earth a short time before
and after a little while go to the earth from which all mortals are taken,
when the time comes to return the souls that were borrowed.
9 But the workers are not concerned that mortals are destined to die
or that their life is brief,
but they compete with workers in gold and silver,
and imitate workers in copper;
and they count it a glorious thing to mould counterfeit gods.
10 Their heart is ashes, their hope is cheaper than dirt,
and their lives are of less worth than clay,
11 because they failed to know the one who formed them
and inspired them with active souls
and breathed a living spirit into them.
12 But they considered our existence an idle game,
and life a festival held for profit,
for they say one must get money however one can, even by base means.
13 For these people, more than all others, know that they sin
when they make from earthy matter fragile vessels and carved images.
14 But most foolish, and more miserable than an infant,
are all the enemies who oppressed your 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 human being made them,
and one whose spirit is borrowed formed them;
for none can form gods that are like themselves.
17 People are mortal, and what they make with lawless hands is dead;
for they are better than the objects they worship,
since* they have life, but the idols* never had.
18 Moreover, they worship even the most hateful animals,
which are worse than all others when judged by their lack of intelligence;
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.
16Therefore those people* were deservedly punished through such creatures,
and were tormented by a multitude of animals.
2 Instead of this punishment you showed kindness to your people,
and you prepared quails to eat,
a delicacy to satisfy the desire of appetite;
3 in order that those people, when they desired food,
might lose the least remnant of appetite*
because of the odious creatures sent to them,
while your people,* after suffering want a short time,
might partake of delicacies.
4 For it was necessary that upon those oppressors inescapable want should come,
while to these others it was merely shown how their enemies were being tormented.
5 For when the terrible rage of wild animals came upon your people*
and they were being destroyed by the bites of writhing serpents,
your wrath did not continue to the end;
6 they were troubled for a little while as a warning,
and received a symbol of deliverance to remind them of your laws command.
7 For the one who turned towards it was saved, not by the thing that was beheld,
but by you, the Saviour of all.
8 And by this also you convinced our enemies
that it is you who deliver 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 your children were not conquered even by the fangs of venomous serpents,
for your mercy came to their help and healed them.
11 To remind them of your oracles they were bitten,
and then were quickly delivered,
so that they would not fall into deep forgetfulness
and become unresponsive* to your kindness.
12 For neither herb nor poultice cured them,
but it was your word, O Lord, that heals all people.
13 For you have power over life and death;
you lead mortals down to the gates of Hades and back again.
14 A person in wickedness kills another,
but cannot bring back the departed spirit,
or set free the imprisoned soul.
15 To escape from your hand is impossible;
16 for the ungodly, refusing to know you,
were flogged by the strength of your arm,
pursued by unusual rains and hail and relentless storms,
and utterly consumed by fire.
17 Formost incredible of allin 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 judgement 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 land.
20 Instead of these things you gave your people food of angels,
and without their toil you supplied them from heaven with bread ready to eat,
providing every pleasure and suited to every taste.
21 For your sustenance manifested your sweetness towards your children;
and the bread, ministering* to the desire of the one who took it,
was changed to suit everyones liking.
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;
23 whereas the fire,* in order that the righteous might be fed,
even forgot its native power.
24 For creation, serving you who made it,
exerts itself to punish the unrighteous,
and in kindness relaxes on behalf of those who trust in you.
25 Therefore at that time also, changed into all forms,
it served your all-nourishing bounty,
according to the desire of those who had need,*
26 so that your children, whom you loved, O Lord, might learn
that it is not the production of crops that feeds humankind
but that your word sustains those who trust in you.
27 For what was not destroyed by fire
was melted when simply warmed by a fleeting ray of the sun,
28 to make it known that one must rise before the sun to give you thanks,
and must pray to you at the dawning of the light;
29 for the hope of an ungrateful person will melt like wintry frost,
and flow away like waste water.
17Great are your judgements and hard to describe;
therefore uninstructed souls have gone astray.
2 For when lawless people 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 spectres.
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.
6 Nothing was shining through to them
except a dreadful, self-kindled fire,
and in terror they deemed the things that 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 fear.
9 For even if nothing disturbing frightened them,
yet, scared by the passing of wild animals and the hissing of snakes
10 they 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 difficulties.
12 For fear is nothing but a giving up of the helps that come from reason;
13 and hope, defeated by this inward weakness,
prefers ignorance of what causes the torment.
14 But throughout the night, which was really powerless
and which came upon them from the recesses of powerless Hades,
they all slept the same sleep,
15 and now were driven by monstrous spectres,
and now were paralysed 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 they were farmers or shepherds
or workers who toiled in the wilderness,
they were 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 paralysed them with terror.
20 For the whole world was illumined with brilliant light,
and went about its work unhindered,
21 while over those people alone heavy night was spread,
an image of the darkness that was destined to receive them;
but still heavier than darkness were they to themselves.
18But for your 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 your holy ones,* though previously wronged, were doing them no injury;
and they begged their pardon for having been at variance with them.*
3 Therefore you provided a flaming pillar of fire
as a guide for your peoples* unknown journey,
and a harmless sun for their glorious wandering.
4 For their enemies* deserved to be deprived of light and imprisoned in darkness,
those who had kept your children imprisoned,
through whom the imperishable light of the law was to be given to the world.
5 When they had resolved to kill the infants of your holy ones,
and one child had been abandoned and rescued,
you in punishment took away a multitude of their children;
and you destroyed them all together by a mighty flood.
6 That night was made known beforehand to our ancestors,
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 your people.
8 For by the same means by which you punished our enemies
you called us to yourself and glorified us.
9 For in secret the holy children of good people offered sacrifices,
and with one accord agreed to the divine law,
so that the saints would share alike the same things,
both blessings and dangers;
and already they were singing the praises of the ancestors.*
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 commoner suffered the same loss as the king;
12 and they all together, by 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.
13 For though they had disbelieved everything because of their magic arts,
yet, when their firstborn were destroyed, they acknowledged your people to be Gods child.
14 For while gentle silence enveloped all things,
and night in its swift course was now half gone,
15 your all-powerful word leapt from heaven, from the royal throne,
into the midst of the land that was doomed,
a stern warrior
16 carrying the sharp sword of your authentic command,
and stood and filled all things with death,
and touched heaven while standing on the earth.
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 that disturbed them forewarned them of this,
so that they might not perish without knowing why they suffered.
20 The experience of death touched also the righteous,
and a plague came upon the multitude in the desert,
but the wrath did not long continue.
21 For 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 your servant.
22 He conquered the wrath* not by strength of body,
not by force of arms,
but by his word he subdued the avenger,
appealing to the oaths and covenants given to our ancestors.
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 on his long robe the whole world was depicted,
and the glories of the ancestors were engraved on the four rows of stones,
and your majesty was on the diadem upon his head.
25 To these the destroyer yielded, these he* feared;
for merely to test the wrath was enough.
The New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized Edition), copyright 1989, 1995 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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10 February 2011