Wisdom 8

Chapter 8

1 She reaches mightily from one end of the earth to the other,
and she governs all things exceedingly well.

A Companion in Life[a]

2 I loved Wisdom and searched for her from my youth;
I resolved to have her for my spouse
and was in love with her beauty.
3 She manifests her noble birth by union of life with God,
for the Lord of all has loved her.
4 She is privy to the secrets of the knowledge of God
and chooses his works.
5 If riches are deemed a desirable possession in life,
what offers greater wealth than Wisdom who fashions everything that exists?
6 If understanding is at work,
who is a more effective fashioner of whatever exists than she?
7 And if one prizes righteousness,
the fruits of her labors are virtues.
For she teaches temperance and prudence,
justice and fortitude,[b]
and nothing in life is of more value for men than these.
8 Or again, if one yearns for great experience,
she knows the things of the past and foresees those of the future.
She understands the subtleties of speech and the solutions of riddles;
she has advance knowledge of signs and wonders
and can predict the outcome of times and ages.
9 And so I determined to take her as my life companion,
confident that she would counsel me in times of prosperity
and comfort me in times of anxiety and sorrow.
10 Because of her presence I will receive glory among the multitudes
and honor among the elders, even though I am young.
11 I will be considered wise when I sit in judgment,
and I will win the admiration of rulers.
12 When I remain silent, they will await my utterances;
when I do speak, they will listen carefully.
And should I speak at great length,
they will put their hands over their mouths.[c]
13 Through her I will achieve immortality
and leave an everlasting memory to my successors.
14 I will govern peoples, and nations will become subject to me;
15 fierce monarchs will be in dread when they hear my name,
but among the people I will be regarded as good and as valiant in battle.
16 When I return to my home I will rest beside her,
for to be in her company involves no bitterness,
and life with her entails no pain,
but only gladness and joy.

Lord, Send Forth Your Wisdom[d]

17 Reflecting upon these things within myself
and having concluded in my heart
that there is immortality in kinship with Wisdom
18 and pure delight in friendship with her,
inexhaustible wealth in the works of her hands
and understanding in frequenting her company
as well as great renown in conversing with her,
I began to search in all directions,
seeking to win her for myself.
19 As a child I was blessed with natural gifts,
and a good soul was my heritage,
20 or rather, being good, I had entered into an undefiled body.[e]
21 But realizing that I could not possess Wisdom[f] unless God gave her to me—
and this itself was an indication of understanding, to know the source of that gift—
I turned to the Lord and implored him
and with all my heart I said:

Footnotes

  1. Wisdom 8:2 Wisdom is, for our author, a word and a symbol that evokes the supreme goods of private and public life. Certainly, his mentality and his vocabulary appear to us to be poetic speculations very far from our way of saying things, yet these pages are precious to us. They guard us from shutting ourselves up within the limits of what we know, what we can do, and what we have. There is for human beings a greater horizon that breaches the threshold of the divine. Those who claim to master science are well advised to reflect on this.
  2. Wisdom 8:7 The four cardinal virtues. They are already found in Plato and Aristotle.
  3. Wisdom 8:12 Onlookers will put their hands over their mouths as a sign that there is nothing to refute and nothing to add (see Job 21:5; 29:9; 40:4; Prov 30:32; Sir 5:14; Mic 7:16).
  4. Wisdom 8:17 The author attributes to the young Solomon this fervent and wonderful prayer (see 1 Ki 3:6-9; 2 Chr 1:8-10), which takes up again, with the charm of a humble petition to God, themes already repeatedly developed. The sage is free to read the “signs of the times,” to seek out in all events and circumstances what God expects from humans.
  5. Wisdom 8:20 The author does not intend to affirm that the soul exists first; rather, he corrects the impression given by the preceding verse that the body has preeminence.
  6. Wisdom 8:21 I could not possess Wisdom: this is the preferred reading; the Vulgate translated it as: “I could not be chaste.”

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