Wisdom 7

Chapter 7

1 I too am mortal, like everyone else,
descended from the first being formed out of the earth.[a]
I was molded into flesh inside the womb of my mother,
2 solidified in blood within a period of ten months[b]
from the seed of a man and the pleasure that accompanies marriage.
3 And I too, when I was born, began to breathe the common air
and fell upon an earth equal for everyone;
the first sound I uttered was a cry, as is true of all.
4 I was nurtured in swaddling clothes
and surrounded with care.
5 No king has begun life in any other way,
6 for there is only one way of entering life, and only one way of leaving it.

Wisdom Is Worth More than Any Riches

7 Therefore, I prayed, and understanding was given to me;
I pleaded, and the spirit of Wisdom came to me.
8 I preferred her to scepters and thrones,
and I accounted riches as nothing compared with her.[c]
9 Neither did I reckon any precious stone to be her equal,
because, compared with her, all gold is but a few grains of sand,
and beside her, silver is accounted as clay.
10 I loved her more than health and beauty
and preferred her to the light
because her radiance is unceasing.
11 Together with her, all good things came to me,
and in her hands are countless riches.
12 And I delighted in them all, since Wisdom was their source,
although I did not realize at the time that she was their mother.
13 I pass on ungrudgingly what I learned about her with an open mind;
her riches I do not conceal.
14 For she is an inexhaustible treasure for all;
those who acquire her achieve friendship with God,
commended to him by the gifts that derive from her instruction.[d]

Wisdom Is Divine

Maker of All Things[e]

15 May God grant me the ability to speak according to understanding
and to express thoughts worthy of the gifts I have received,
since it is he that guides Wisdom
and directs the wise.
16 For in his hand are both we and our words,
as are also all understanding and skill in crafts.
17 It was he who granted me accurate knowledge of what exists,
so that I might understand the constitution of the world and the operation of its elements:
18 the beginning and the end and the midpoint of times,
the alternation of the solstices and the changes of the seasons,
19 the cycles of the year and the positions of the stars,
20 the natures of animals and the dispositions of wild beasts,
the powers of spirits and the thoughts of men,
the varieties of plants and the properties of roots.
21 All that was hidden and all that was manifest I learned,
22 for Wisdom, who fashioned all things, instructed me.

Reflection of God’s Light[f]

[g]Within Wisdom is a spirit that is
intelligent, holy,
unique, manifold, subtle,
mobile, clear, unstained,
certain, invulnerable, benevolent, shrewd, irresistible, beneficent, 23 kindly,
steadfast, secure, tranquil,
all-powerful, all-surveying,
and penetrating all spirits
that are intelligent, pure, and very subtle.
24 For Wisdom has more mobility than any motion;
she is so pure that she pervades and penetrates all things.
25 She is the breath of the might of God
and a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty;
therefore, nothing that is defiled can enter into her.
26 For she is the reflection of eternal light,
the spotless mirror of the active power of God
and the image of his goodness.
27 Although she is only one, she can do all things;
while unchanging herself, she makes all things new.
Generation after generation she enters into holy souls,
and turns them into friends of God[h] and prophets.
28 For God loves nothing more
than one who dwells with Wisdom.
29 She is more beautiful than the sun
and outshines every constellation of the stars.
In comparison with the light she is far superior,
30 for light is supplanted by the night,
but evil cannot overpower Wisdom.

Footnotes

  1. Wisdom 7:1 The author consistently fails to name the persons of sacred history to whom he refers. See, for example, chapter 10. The author here notes that a king is only a mere mortal—a Jewish conception that was foreign to the ancient East and, in part, also to the Greek world, which divinized its sovereigns. The purity of the Jewish monotheism imposed this view, which is counterbalanced by the certitude that Wisdom—which is a divine gift—is necessary in order to rule well.
  2. Wisdom 7:2 Ten months: this refers to “lunar” months, the common method of calculation among the ancients.
  3. Wisdom 7:8 Nothing can be compared with Wisdom, and she is acquired only at a very great price. It is the same for the kingdom of heaven, the pearl of great price, the hidden treasure (see Mt 13:44-46).
  4. Wisdom 7:14 Instruction: the same as “discipline” (see note on Wis 1:5).
  5. Wisdom 7:15 Wisdom is not merely conduct of life but also awe before the secrets of the visible and invisible universe. Here the author attributes to Solomon—famous for his knowledge (see 1 Ki 5:9-14)—the most recent acquisitions of Hellenistic thought about the universe.
  6. Wisdom 7:22 Scholars will recognize herein the questions and the vocabulary of Greek philosophers, astounded by the inexhaustible mystery of the human conscience. But our author goes so far as to admire the source that gives rise to the spiritual condition of human beings—which is divine.
    In this description of Wisdom, the reflection is oriented toward a new understanding of the divine mystery: the New Testament would eventually reveal the existence in God of the personality and action of the Holy Spirit, and above all, of the Son, image of the Father and creative Word (Jn 1; Rom 8; Col 1:15). Subsequently, Christian tradition has almost always recognized in Wisdom (Greek, sophia) the second Person of the Trinity.
  7. Wisdom 7:22 The attributes given for Wisdom are twenty-one in all, which constitutes a most perfect number (three times seven).
  8. Wisdom 7:27 Friends of God: like Abraham (see 2 Chr 20:7; Isa 41:8; Jas 2:23; see also Jn 15:14-15).

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