1 Again, someone preparing to embark on a voyage through turbulent waves
invokes a piece of wood more frail than the ship that carries him.
2 It was desire for profit that devised that vessel,
and Wisdom was the shipwright that built it.[a]
3 However, O Father, your providence[b] guides it,
since you have provided it with a pathway through the sea
and with a safe passage through the waves,
4 indicating that you can save from every danger,
so that even an inexperienced person can put out to sea.
5 It is your will that the works of your Wisdom should not be sterile;
thus men entrust their lives even to the most fragile wood,
and they safely reach land even after sailing through the waves on a raft.
6 For in the beginning, when arrogant giants were being destroyed,
the hope of the world took refuge on a raft[c]
and, guided by your hand, bequeathed to the world the seed of a new generation.
7 For blessed is the wood through which a righteous work is accomplished,[d]
8 but the idol made with hands is accursed, as is its maker—
he for having made it, and it because, even though perishable, it was called a god.
9 Equally hateful to God are the godless man and his ungodliness;
10 the work and the artificer will both be punished.
11 Therefore, a visitation will overtake even the idols of the nations
because among the creatures of God they have become an abomination,
a scandal for human souls,
and a pitfall for the feet of the foolish.
Idols Make Their Entry into the World[e]
12 The invention of idols marked the origin of immorality;
their discovery corrupted human life.
13 They did not exist at the beginning,
and they will not last forever.
14 They entered the world as a result of human vanity,
and therefore a speedy demise has been planned for them.
15 A father overcome with grief at an untimely death
had an image made of the child so quickly taken from him.
And he honored as a god what was formerly a corpse
and handed on to his household the observance of sacrifices and ceremonies.
16 With the passing of time this impious custom became established and was observed as a law,
and at the command of rulers graven images were worshiped.
17 When the subjects of a monarch lived at such a distance that they could not honor him in person,
they would have a likeness made of their far-off ruler,
thereby possessing a visible image of the king they desired to honor,
zealously in this way flattering the absent ruler as though he were present.[f]
18 Even those who did not know the king
were aroused to promote his worship by the ambition of the artisan
19 who, perhaps in his eagerness to please his ruler,
used all his skill to depict him in the most favorable way;
20 and the people, attracted by the beauty of his artistry,
began to worship as a god someone whom they had previously honored as a man.
21 Thus, this became a snare for humankind,
since people, whether victimized by misfortune or by tyranny,
assigned to objects of stone and wood the name that belongs to no other.
22 Then it was not sufficient for them to have mistaken notions in their knowledge of God;
for, even though they live in the midst of a great war of ignorance,
they term such horrible evils peace.
23 They engage in the ritual murders of children and in occult rites,
and they hold frenzied orgies replete with unnatural ceremonies.
24 They no longer cherish the purity of their lives and marriages,
either treacherously murdering their neighbor or aggrieving him by committing adultery with his spouse.
25 Chaos reigns supreme—blood and murder, theft and fraud,
corruption, treachery, riot, perjury,
26 destruction of the tranquillity of decent men, ingratitude,
defilement of souls, sexual perversion,
disorder in marriages, adultery, and debauchery.
27 For the worship of nameless idols
is the beginning, the source, and the end of every evil.
28 Idolaters either become frenzied in their exultation or prophesy what is untrue,
or live wicked lives or do not hesitate to commit perjury.
29 Since they place their trust in lifeless idols,
they have no fear of punishment in swearing false oaths.
30 [g]But justice will overtake them on two counts:
because in their devotion to idols they ignored God,
and because in their contempt for holiness they deliberately committed perjury.
31 For it is not the power of the things by which men swear
but the just punishment reserved for those who sin
that always overtakes the transgression of the wicked.
- Wisdom 14:2 Wisdom . . . built it: i.e., the technical skill of the artisan that built it is a fruit of Wisdom (see Wis 8:6; Ex 31:3; 35:31).
- Wisdom 14:3 Providence: a term borrowed from Greek philosophy to express an idea that is biblical (see Pss 145:8-9, 15-16; 147:9).
- Wisdom 14:6 Raft: i.e., Noah’s ark.
- Wisdom 14:7 Blessed is the wood . . . accomplished: often applied to the cross of Christ.
- Wisdom 14:12 The cult of idols perverts human beings. The immorality spoken about in verse 12 is undoubtedly infidelity toward God and his covenant (see Hos 1–2), and the incommunicable name (Wis 14:21) is that of God, with the supreme sacrilege being to have it borne by a creature.
- Wisdom 14:17 An allusion to the pagan cult in honor of kings who were divinized. This custom, besides being a true idolatry, is contrary to the law, which prohibited all images of God and human beings (see Ex 20:4).
- Wisdom 14:30 Perjury deserves to be punished even when it is practiced in the name of dead gods.