Wisdom (RSV) 13
13 1 For all men who were ignorant of God were foolish by nature; and they were unable from the good things that are seen to know him who exists, nor did they recognize the craftsman 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 men 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 men were amazed at their power and working, let them perceive from them how much more powerful is he who formed them.
5 For from the greatness and beauty of created things comes a corresponding perception of their Creator.
6 Yet these men are little to be blamed, for perhaps they go astray while seeking God and desiring to find him.
7 For as 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 the men who give the name "gods" to the works of men's 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 life's needs,
12 and burn the castoff pieces of his work to prepare his food, and eat his fill.
13 But a castoff 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 like the image of a man,
14 or makes it like some worthless animal, giving it a coat of red paint and coloring its surface red and covering every blemish in it with paint;
15 then he makes for it a niche that befits it, and sets it in the wall, and fastens it there with iron.
16 So he takes thought for it, 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.
14 1 Again, one preparing to sail and about to voyage over raging waves calls upon a piece of wood more fragile than the ship which carries him.
2 For it was desire for gain that planned that vessel, and wisdom was the craftsman who built it;
3 but it is thy providence, O Father, that steers its course, because thou hast given it a path in the sea, and a safe way through the waves,
4 showing that thou canst save from every danger, so that even if a man lacks skill, he may put to sea.
5 It is thy will that works of thy wisdom should not be without effect; therefore men 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 thy 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 he who made it; because he did the work, and the perishable thing was named a god.
9 For equally hateful to God are the ungodly man and his ungodliness,
10 for what was done will be punished together with him 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, and became traps for the souls of men and a snare to 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 neither have they existed from the beginning nor will they exist for ever.
14 For through the vanity of men 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; and he now honored as a god what was once a dead human being, and handed on to his dependents secret rites and initiations.
16 Then the ungodly custom, grown strong with time, was kept as a law, and at the command of monarchs graven images were worshiped.
17 When men could not honor 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 honored, so that by their zeal they might flatter the absent one as though present.
18 Then the ambition of the craftsman 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 honored as a man.
21 And this became a hidden trap for mankind, because men, in bondage to misfortune or to royal authority, bestowed on objects of stone or wood the name that ought not to be shared.
22 Afterward it was not enough for them to err about the knowledge of God, but they live in great strife due to ignorance, and 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 favors, pollution of souls, sex perversion, disorder in marriage, 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 worshipers 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 wickedly of 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 men swear, but the just penalty for those who sin, that always pursues the transgression of the unrighteous.
15 1 But thou, our God, art kind and true, patient, and ruling all things in mercy.
2 For even if we sin we are thine, knowing thy power; but we will not sin, because we know that we are accounted thine.
3 For to know thee is complete righteousness, and to know thy 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 colors,
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 For when a potter kneads the soft earth and laboriously molds each vessel for our service, he fashions out of the same clay both the vessels that serve clean uses and those for contrary uses, making all in like manner; but which shall be the use of each of these the worker in clay decides.
8 With misspent toil, he forms a futile god from the same clay -- this man who was made of earth a short time before and after a little while goes to the earth from which he was taken, when he is required to return the soul that was lent him.
9 But he is not concerned that he is destined to die or that his life is brief, but he competes with workers in gold and silver, and imitates workers in copper; and he counts it his glory that he molds counterfeit gods.
10 His heart is ashes, his hope is cheaper than dirt, and his life is of less worth than clay,
11 because he failed to know the one who formed him and inspired him with an active soul and breathed into him a living spirit.
12 But he considered our existence an idle game, and life a festival held for profit, for he says one must get money however one can, even by base means.
13 For this man, more than all others, knows that he sins when he makes from earthy matter fragile vessels and graven images.
14 But most foolish, and more miserable than an infant, are all the enemies who oppressed thy 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 man made them, and one whose spirit is borrowed formed them; for no man can form a god which is like himself.
17 He is mortal, and what he makes with lawless hands is dead, for he is better than the objects he worships, since he has life, but they never have.
18 The enemies of thy people 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.
16 1 Therefore those men were deservedly punished through such creatures, and were tormented by a multitude of animals.
2 Instead of this punishment thou didst show kindness to thy people, and thou didst prepare quails to eat, a delicacy to satisfy the desire of appetite;
3 in order that those men, when they desired food, might lose the least remnant of appetite because of the odious creatures sent to them, while thy people, after suffering want a short time, might partake of delicacies.
4 For it was necessary that upon those oppressors inexorable want should come, while to these it was merely shown how their enemies were being tormented.
5 For when the terrible rage of wild beasts came upon thy people and they were being destroyed by the bites of writhing serpents, thy wrath did not continue to the end;
6 they were troubled for a little while as a warning, and received a token of deliverance to remind them of thy law's command.
7 For he who turned toward it was saved, not by what he saw, but by thee, the Savior of all.
8 And by this also thou didst convince our enemies that it is thou who deliverest 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 thy sons were not conquered even by the teeth of venomous serpents, for thy mercy came to their help and healed them.
11 To remind them of thy oracles they were bitten, and then were quickly delivered, lest they should fall into deep forgetfulness and become unresponsive to thy kindness.
12 For neither herb nor poultice cured them, but it was thy word, O Lord, which heals all men.
13 For thou hast power over life and death; thou dost lead men down to the gates of Hades and back again.
14 A man in his wickedness kills another, but he cannot bring back the departed spirit, nor set free the imprisoned soul.
15 To escape from thy hand is impossible;
16 for the ungodly, refusing to know thee, were scourged by the strength of thy arm, pursued by unusual rains and hail and relentless storms, and utterly consumed by fire.
17 For -- most incredible of all -- in the 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 judgment 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 thou didst give thy people food of angels, and without their toil thou didst supply them from heaven with bread ready to eat, providing every pleasure and suited to every taste.
21 For thy sustenance manifested thy sweetness toward thy children; and the bread, ministering to the desire of the one who took it, was changed to suit every one's 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 thee who hast made it, exerts itself to punish the unrighteous, and in kindness relaxes on behalf of those who trust in thee.
25 Therefore at that time also, changed into all forms, it served thy all-nourishing bounty, according to the desire of those who had need,
26 so that thy sons, whom thou didst love, O Lord, might learn that it is not the production of crops that feeds man, but that thy word preserves those who trust in thee.
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 thee thanks, and must pray to thee at the dawning of the light;
29 for the hope of an ungrateful man will melt like wintry frost, and flow away like waste water.
17 1 Great are thy judgments and hard to describe; therefore unintructed souls have gone astray.
2 For when lawless men 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 specters.
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 which 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 beasts and the hissing of serpents,
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 surrender of the helps that come from reason;
13 and the inner expectation of help, being weak, prefers ignorance of what causes the torment.
14 But throughout the night, which was really powerless, and which beset them from the recesses of powerless Hades, they all slept the same sleep,
15 and now were driven by monstrous specters, and now were paralyzed 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 he was a farmer or a shepherd or a workman who toiled in the wilderness, he was 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 paralyzed them with terror.
20 For the whole world was illumined with brilliant light, and was engaged in unhindered work,
21 while over those men 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.
18 1 But for thy 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 thy holy ones, though previously wronged, were doing them no injury; and they begged their pardon for having been at variance with them.
3 Therefore thou didst provide a flaming pillar of fire as a guide for thy people's 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 thy sons imprisoned, through whom the imperishable light of the law was to be given to the world.
5 When they had resolved to kill the babes of thy holy ones, and one child had been exposed and rescued, thou didst in punishment take away a multitude of their children; and thou didst destroy them all together by a mighty flood.
6 That night was made known beforehand to our fathers, 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 thy people.
8 For by the same means by which thou didst punish our enemies thou didst call us to thyself and glorify us.
9 For in secret the holy children of good men offered sacrifices, and with one accord agreed to the divine law, that the saints would share alike the same things, both blessings and dangers; and already they were singing the praises of the fathers.
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 common man suffered the same loss as the king;
12 and they all together, by the 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 first-born were destroyed, they acknowledged thy people to be God's son.
14 For while gentle silence enveloped all things, and night in its swift course was now half gone,
15 thy all-powerful word leaped from heaven, from the royal throne, into the midst of the land that was doomed, a stern warrior
16 carrying the sharp sword of thy 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 which 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 thy servant.
22 He conquered the wrath not by strength of body, and not by force of arms, but by his word he subdued the punisher, appealing to the oaths and covenants given to our fathers.
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 upon his long robe the whole world was depicted, and the glories of the fathers were engraved on the four rows of stones, and thy majesty on the diadem upon his head.
25 To these the destroyer yielded, these he feared; for merely to test the wrath was enough.
19 1 But the ungodly were assailed to the end by pitiless anger, for God knew in advance even their future actions,
2 that, though they themselves had permitted thy people to depart and hastily sent them forth, they would change their minds and pursue them.
3 For while they were still busy at mourning, and were lamenting at the graves of their dead, they reached another foolish decision, and pursued as fugitives those whom they had begged and compelled to depart.
4 For the fate they deserved drew them on to this end, and made them forget what had happened, in order that they might fill up the punishment which their torments still lacked,
5 and that thy people might experience an incredible journey, but they themselves might meet a strange death.
6 For the whole creation in its nature was fashioned anew, complying with thy commands, that thy children might be kept unharmed.
7 The cloud was seen overshadowing the camp, and dry land emerging where water had stood before, an unhindered way out of the Red Sea, and a grassy plain out of the raging waves,
8 where those protected by thy hand passed through as one nation, after gazing on marvelous wonders.
9 For they ranged like horses, and leaped like lambs, praising thee, O Lord, who didst deliver them.
10 For they still recalled the events of their sojourn, how instead of producing animals the earth brought forth gnats, and instead of fish the river spewed out vast numbers of frogs.
11 Afterward they saw also a new kind of birds, when desire led them to ask for luxurious food;
12 for, to give them relief, quails came up from the sea.
13 The punishments did not come upon the sinners without prior signs in the violence of thunder, for they justly suffered because of their wicked acts; for they practiced a more bitter hatred of strangers.
14 Others had refused to receive strangers when they came to them, but these made slaves of guests who were their benefactors.
15 And not only so, but punishment of some sort will come upon the former for their hostile reception of the aliens;
16 but the latter, after receiving them with festal celebrations, afflicted with terrible sufferings those who had already shared the same rights.
17 They were stricken also with loss of sight -- just as were those at the door of the righteous man -- when, surrounded by yawning darkness, each tried to find the way through his own door.
18 For the elements changed places with one another, as on a harp the notes vary the nature of the rhythm, while each note remains the same. This may be clearly inferred from the sight of what took place.
19 For land animals were transformed into water creatures, and creatures that swim moved over to the land.
20 Fire even in water retained its normal power, and water forgot its fire-quenching nature.
21 Flames, on the contrary, failed to consume the flesh of perishable creatures that walked among them, nor did they melt the crystalline, easily melted kind of heavenly food.
22 For in everything, O Lord, thou hast exalted and glorified thy people; and thou hast not neglected to help them at all times and in all places.
Wisdom (RSV) 13