Saturday, 23 September 2017

Day 207; SIRACH 1 - 4



(ECCLESIASTICUS, OR THE WISDOM OF JESUS, SON OF SIRACH)

Chapter 1

In Praise of Wisdom
1: All wisdom is from the Lord, and with him it remains forever. 
2: The sand of the sea, the drops of rain,    and the days of eternity - who can count them? 
3: The height of heaven, the breadth of the earth,    the abyss, and wisdom - who can search them out? 
4,5: Wisdom was created before all other things, and prudent understanding from eternity. 
6,7: The root of wisdom—to whom has it been revealed? Her subtleties—who knows them?
8: There is but one who is wise, greatly to be feared, seated upon his throne - the Lord. 
9: It is he who created her; he saw her and took her measure; he poured her out upon all his works, 
10: upon all the living according to his gift; he lavished her upon those who love him. 

Fear of the Lord Is True Wisdom
11: The fear of the Lord is glory and exultation, and gladness and a crown of rejoicing. 
12: The fear of the Lord delights the heart, and gives gladness and joy and long life. 
13: Those who fear the Lord will have a happy end; on the day of their death they will be blessed. 
14: To fear the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; she is created with the faithful in the womb. 
15: She made among human beings an eternal foundation, and among their descendants she will abide faithfully. 
16: To fear the Lord is fullness of wisdom; she inebriates mortals with her fruits;
17: she fills their whole house with desirable goods, and their storehouses with her produce. 
18: The fear of the Lord is the crown of wisdom, making peace and perfect health to flourish. 
19: She rained down knowledge and discerning comprehension, and she heightened the glory of those who held her fast. 
20: To fear the Lord is the root of wisdom, and her branches are long life. 
22: Unjust anger cannot be justified, for anger tips the scale to one’s ruin. 
23: Those who are patient stay calm until the right moment, and then cheerfulness comes back to them. 
24: They hold back their words until the right moment; then the lips of many tell of their good sense. 
25: In the treasuries of wisdom are wise sayings, but godliness is an abomination to a sinner. 
26: If you desire wisdom, keep the commandments, and the Lord will lavish her upon you. 
27: For the fear of the Lord is wisdom and discipline, fidelity and humility are his delight. 
28: Do not disobey the fear of the Lord; do not approach him with a divided mind. 
29: Do not be a hypocrite before others, and keep watch over your lips. 
30: Do not exalt yourself, or you may fall and bring dishonour upon yourself. The Lord will reveal your secrets and overthrow you before the whole congregation, because you did not come in the fear of the Lord, and your heart was full of deceit. Duties towards God

Chapter 2

1: My child, when you come to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for testing. 
2: Set your heart right and be steadfast, and do not be impetuous in time of calamity. 
3: Cling to him and do not depart, so that your last days may be prosperous. 
4: Accept whatever befalls you, and in times of humiliation be patient. 
5: For gold is tested in the fire, and those found acceptable, in the furnace of humiliation. 
6: Trust in him, and he will help you; make your ways straight, and hope in him. 
7: You who fear the Lord, wait for his mercy; do not stray, or else you may fall. 
8: You who fear the Lord, trust in him, and your reward will not be lost. 
9: You who fear the Lord, hope for good things, for lasting joy and mercy. 
10: Consider the generations of old and see: has anyone trusted in the Lord and been disappointed? Or has anyone persevered in the fear of the Lord and been forsaken?  Or has anyone called upon him and been neglected? 
11: For the Lord is compassionate and merciful; he forgives sins and saves in time of distress. 
12: Woe to timid hearts and to slack hands, and to the sinner who walks a double path! 
13: Woe to the faint-hearted who have no trust! Therefore they will have no shelter. 
14: Woe to you who have lost your nerve!  What will you do when the Lord’s reckoning comes? 
15: Those who fear the Lord do not disobey his words, and those who love him keep his ways. 
16: Those who fear the Lord seek to please him, and those who love him are filled with his law. 
17: Those who fear the Lord prepare their hearts, and humble themselves before him. 
18: Let us fall into the hands of the Lord, but not into the hands of mortals; for equal to his majesty is his mercy, and equal to his name are his works. 

Chapter 3

Duties towards Parents
1: Listen to me your father, O children; act accordingly, that you may be kept in safety. 
2: For the Lord honours a father above his children, and he confirms a mother’s right over her children. 
3: Those who honour their father atone for sins, 
4:  and those who respect their mother are like those who lay up treasure. 
5: Those who honour their father will have joy in their own children, and when they pray they will be heard. 
6: Those who respect their father will have long life, and those who honour their mother obey the Lord; 
7:  they will serve their parents as their masters. 
8: Honour your father by word and deed that his blessing may come upon you. 
9: For a father’s blessing strengthens the houses of the children, but a mother’s curse uproots their foundations. 
10: Do not glorify yourself by dishonouring your father, for your father’s dishonour is no glory to you. 
11: The glory of one’s father is one’s own glory, and it is a disgrace for children not to respect their mother. 
12: My child, help your father in his old age, and do not grieve him as long as he lives; 
13: even if his mind fails, be patient with him; because you have all your faculties do not despise him. 
14: For kindness to a father will not be forgotten, and will be credited to you against your sins; 
15: in the day of your distress it will be remembered in your favour; like frost in fair weather, your sins will melt away. 
16: Whoever forsakes a father is like a blasphemer,    and whoever angers a mother is cursed by the Lord. 

Humility
17: My child, perform your tasks with humility; then you will be loved by those whom God accepts. 
18, 19: The greater you are, the more you must humble yourself; so you will find favour in the sight of the Lord. 
20: For great is the might of the Lord; but by the humble he is glorified. 
21: Neither seek what is too difficult for you, nor investigate what is beyond your power. 
22: Reflect upon what you have been commanded, for what is hidden is not your concern. 
23: Do not meddle in matters that are beyond you, for more than you can understand has been shown to you. 
24: For their conceit has led many astray,  and wrong opinion has impaired their judgement. 
25: Without eyes there is no light; without knowledge there is no wisdom. 
26: A stubborn mind will fare badly at the end, and whoever loves danger will perish in it. 
27: A stubborn mind will be burdened by troubles, and the sinner adds sin to sins. 
28: When calamity befalls the proud, there is no healing, for an evil plant has taken root in him.
29: The mind of the intelligent appreciates proverbs,  and an attentive ear is the desire of the wise. 

Alms for the Poor
30: As water extinguishes a blazing fire, so almsgiving atones for sin. 
31: Those who repay favours give thought to the future; when they fall they will find support.

Chapter 4

Duties towards the Poor and the Oppressed
1: My child, do not cheat the poor of their living, and do not keep needy eyes waiting. 
2: Do not grieve the hungry, or anger one in need. 
3: Do not add to the troubles of the desperate, or delay giving to the needy. 
4: Do not reject a suppliant in distress, or turn your face away from the poor. 
5: Do not avert your eye from the needy, and give no one reason to curse you; 
6: for if in bitterness of soul some should curse you, their Creator will hear their prayer. 
7: Endear yourself to the congregation; bow your head low to the great. 
8: Give a hearing to the poor, and return their greeting politely. 
9: Rescue the oppressed from the oppressor; and do not be hesitant in giving a verdict. 
10: Be a father to orphans, and be like a husband to their mother; you will then be like a son of the Most High, and he will love you more than does your mother. 

The Rewards of Wisdom
11: Wisdom teaches her children and gives help to those who seek her. 
12: Whoever loves her loves life, and those who seek her from early morning are filled with joy. 
13: Whoever holds her fast inherits glory, and the Lord blesses the place she enters. 
14: Those who serve her minister to the Holy One; the Lord loves those who love her.
15: Those who obey her will judge the nations, and all who listen to her will live secure.
16: If they remain faithful, they will inherit her; their descendants will also obtain her. 
17: For at first she will walk with them on tortuous paths; she will bring fear and dread upon them, and will torment them by her discipline until she trusts them, and she will test them with her ordinances. 
18: Then she will come straight back to them again and gladden them,  and will reveal her secrets to them. 
19: If they go astray she will forsake them, and hand them over to their ruin. 
20: Watch for the opportune time, and beware of evil, and do not be ashamed to be yourself. 
21: For there is a shame that leads to sin, and there is a shame that is glory and favour. 
22: Do not show partiality, to your own harm, or deference, to your downfall. 
23: Do not refrain from speaking at the proper moment, and do not hide your wisdom. 
24: For wisdom becomes known through speech, and education through the words of the tongue. 
25: Never speak against the truth, but be ashamed of your ignorance. 
26: Do not be ashamed to confess your sins, and do not try to stop the current of a river. 
27: Do not subject yourself to a fool, or show partiality to a ruler. 
28: Fight to the death for truth, and the Lord God will fight for you. 
29: Do not be reckless in your speech, or sluggish and remiss in your deeds.
30: Do not be like a lion in your home,  or suspicious of your servants.
31: Do not let your hand be stretched out to receive and closed when it is time to give. 

Friday, 22 September 2017

Day 206; The Wisdom of Solomon 17 - 19


Chapter 17

1: Great 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.

Chapter 18

1: But 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 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 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 God’s 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. 

Chapter 19

1: But the ungodly were assailed to the end by pitiless anger,
for God
 knew in advance even their future actions:
2: how, though they themselves had permitted
 your people to depart
and hastily sent them out,
they would change their minds and pursue them.
3: For while they were still engaged in 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 leave.
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 that their torments still lacked,
5: and that your 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 your commands,
so that your 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 your hand passed through as one nation,
after gazing on marvellous wonders.
9: For they ranged like horses,
and leapt like lambs,
praising you, O Lord, who delivered 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: Afterwards 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 practised 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, while punishment of some sort will come upon the former
for having received strangers with hostility,
16: the latter, having first received them with festal celebrations,
afterwards 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,
all of them tried to find the way through their own doors. 

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, quick-melting kind of heavenly food. 

22: For in everything, O Lord, you have exalted and glorified your people,
and you have not neglected to help them at all times and in all places.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Day 205; The Wisdom of Solomon 14 - 16

Chapter 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 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. 

Chapter 15

1: But 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.

Chapter 16

1: Therefore 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 law’s 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: For—most incredible of all—in 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 everyone’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 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. 


Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Day 204: The Wisdom of Solomon 10 - 13

Chapter 10

1: Wisdom 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 brother’s 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; he 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. 
Chapter 11

1: Wisdom 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 Lord’s 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 marveled 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 people’s 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.

Chapter 12

1: For 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. 

Chapter 13

1: For 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 skillfully strip off all its bark, and then with pleasing workmanship make a useful vessel that serves life’s 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. 


Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Day 203: The Wisdom of Solomon 5 - 9


Chapter 5

1: Then the righteous will stand with great confidence in the presence of those who have oppressed them and those who make light of their labours. 
2: When the unrighteous see them, they will be shaken with dreadful fear, and they will be amazed at the unexpected salvation of the righteous. 
3: They will speak to one another in repentance, and in anguish of spirit they will groan, and say, 
4: ‘These are persons whom we once held in derision and made a byword of reproach—fools that we were! We thought that their lives were madness and that their end was without honour. 
5: Why have they been numbered among the children of God? And why is their lot among the saints? 
6: So it was we who strayed from the way of truth, and the light of righteousness did not shine on us, and the sun did not rise upon us. 
7: We took our fill of the paths of lawlessness and destruction, and we journeyed through trackless deserts, but the way of the Lord we have not known. 
8: What has our arrogance profited us? And what good has our boasted wealth brought us? 
9: ‘All those things have vanished like a shadow, and like a rumour that passes by; 
10: like a ship that sails through the billowy water, and when it has passed no trace can be found, no track of its keel in the waves; 
11: or as, when a bird flies through the air, no evidence of its passage is found; the light air, lashed by the beat of its pinions and pierced by the force of its rushing flight, is traversed by the movement of its wings, and afterwards no sign of its coming is found there; 
12: or as, when an arrow is shot at a target, the air, thus divided, comes together at once,
so that no one knows its pathway. 
13: So we also, as soon as we were born, ceased to be, and we had no sign of virtue to show, but were consumed in our wickedness.
14: Because the hope of the ungodly is like thistledown carried by the wind, and like a light frost driven away by a storm; it is dispersed like smoke before the wind, and it passes like the remembrance of a guest who stays but a day. 
15: But the righteous live forever, and their reward is with the Lord; the Most High takes care of them. 
16: Therefore they will receive a glorious crown and a beautiful diadem from the hand of the Lord, because with his right hand he will cover them, and with his arm he will shield them. 
17: The Lord will take his zeal as his whole armour, and will arm all creation to repel his enemies; 
18: he will put on righteousness as a breastplate, and wear impartial justice as a helmet; 
19: he will take holiness as an invincible shield, 
20: and sharpen stern wrath for a sword, and creation will join with him to fight against his frenzied foes. 
21: Shafts of lightning will fly with true aim, and will leap from the clouds to the target, as from a well-drawn bow, 
22: and hailstones full of wrath will be hurled as from a catapult; the water of the sea will rage against them, and rivers will relentlessly overwhelm them; 
23: a mighty wind will rise against them, and like a tempest it will winnow them away.
Lawlessness will lay waste the whole earth, and evildoing will overturn the thrones of rulers. 

Chapter 6

1: Listen therefore, O kings, and understand; learn, O judges of the ends of the earth. 
2: Give ear, you that rule over multitudes, and boast of many nations. 
3: For your dominion was given you from the Lord, and your sovereignty from the Most High; he will search out your works and inquire into your plans. 
4: Because as servants of his kingdom you did not rule rightly, or keep the law, or walk according to the purpose of God, 
5: he will come upon you terribly and swiftly, because severe judgement falls on those in high places. 
6: For the lowliest may be pardoned in mercy, but the mighty will be mightily tested. 
7: For the Lord of all will not stand in awe of anyone, or show deference to greatness; because he himself made both small and great, and he takes thought for all alike. 
8: But a strict inquiry is in store for the mighty. 
9: To you then, O monarchs, my words are directed, so that you may learn wisdom and not transgress. 
10: For they will be made holy who observe holy things in holiness, and those who have been taught them will find a defense. 
11: Therefore set your desire on my words; long for them, and you will be instructed. 
12: Wisdom is radiant and unfading, and she is easily discerned by those who love her,
and is found by those who seek her. 
13: She hastens to make herself known to those who desire her. 
14: One who rises early to seek her will have no difficulty, for she will be found sitting at the gate. 
15: To fix one’s thought on her is perfect understanding, and one who is vigilant on her account will soon be free from care, 
16: because she goes about seeking those worthy of her, and she graciously appears to them in their paths, and meets them in every thought. 

17: The beginning of wisdom
 is the most sincere desire for instruction, and concern for instruction is love of her, 
18: and love of her is the keeping of her laws, and giving heed to her laws is assurance of immortality, 
19: and immortality brings one near to God; 
20: so the desire for wisdom leads to a kingdom. 
21: Therefore if you delight in thrones and scepters, O monarchs over the peoples, honour wisdom, so that you may reign forever. 
22: I will tell you what wisdom is and how she came to be, and I will hide no secrets from you, but I will trace her course from the beginning of creation, and make knowledge of her clear, and I will not pass by the truth; 
23: nor will I travel in the company of sickly envy, for envy does not associate with wisdom. 
24: The multitude of the wise is the salvation of the world, and a sensible king is the stability of any people. 
25: Therefore be instructed by my words, and you will profit. 

Chapter 7

1: I also am mortal, like everyone else, a descendant of the first-formed child of earth;
and in the womb of a mother I was moulded into flesh, 
2: within the period of ten months, compacted with blood, from the seed of a man and the pleasure of marriage. 
3: And when I was born, I began to breathe the common air, and fell upon the kindred earth; my first sound was a cry, as is true of all. 
4: I was nursed with care in swaddling clothes. 
5: For no king has had a different beginning of existence; 
6: there is for all one entrance into life, and one way out.
7: Therefore I prayed, and understanding was given me; I called on God, and the spirit of wisdom came to me. 
8: I preferred her to sceptres and thrones, and I accounted wealth as nothing in comparison with her. 
9: Neither did I liken to her any priceless gem, because all gold is but a little sand in her sight, and silver will be accounted as clay before her. 
10: I loved her more than health and beauty, and I chose to have her rather than light,
because her radiance never ceases. 
11: All good things came to me along with her, and in her hands uncounted wealth. 
12: I rejoiced in them all, because wisdom leads them; but I did not know that she was their mother. 
13: I learned without guile and I impart without grudging; I do not hide her wealth, 
14: for it is an unfailing treasure for mortals; those who get it obtain friendship with God, commended for the gifts that come from instruction. 
15: May God grant me to speak with judgement, and to have thoughts worthy of what I have received; for he is the guide even of wisdom and the corrector of the wise. 
16: For both we and our words are in his hand, as are all understanding and skill in crafts. 
17: For it is he who gave me unerring knowledge of what exists, to know the structure of the world and the activity of the elements; 
18: the beginning and end and middle of times, the alternations of the solstices and the changes of the seasons, 
19: the cycles of the year and the constellations of the stars, 
20: the natures of animals and the tempers of wild animals, the powers of spirits and the thoughts of human beings, the varieties of plants and the virtues of roots; 
21: I learned both what is secret and what is manifest, 
22: for wisdom, the fashioner of all things, taught me. There is in her a spirit that is intelligent, holy, unique, manifold, subtle, mobile, clear, unpolluted, distinct, invulnerable, loving the good, keen, irresistible, 
23: beneficent, humane, steadfast, sure, free from anxiety, all-powerful, overseeing all,
and penetrating through all spirits that are intelligent, pure, and altogether subtle. 
24: For wisdom is more mobile than any motion; because of her pureness she pervades and penetrates all things. 
25: For she is a breath of the power of God, and a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty; therefore nothing defiled gains entrance into her. 
26: For she is a reflection of eternal light, a spotless mirror of the working of God, and an image of his goodness. 
27: Although she is but one, she can do all things, and while remaining in herself, she renews all things; in every generation she passes into holy souls and makes them friends of God, and prophets; 
28: for God loves nothing so much as the person who lives with wisdom. 
29: She is more beautiful than the sun, and excels every constellation of the stars. Compared with the light she is found to be superior, 
30: for it is succeeded by the night, but against wisdom evil does not prevail.

Chapter 8

1: She reaches mightily from one end of the earth to the other, and she orders all things well.
2: I loved her and sought her from my youth; I desired to take her for my bride, and became enamoured of her beauty. 
3: She glorifies her noble birth by living with God, and the Lord of all loves her. 
4: For she is an initiate in the knowledge of God, and an associate in his works. 
5: If riches are a desirable possession in life, what is richer than wisdom, the active cause of all things? 
6: And if understanding is effective, who more than she is fashioner of what exists? 
7: And if anyone loves righteousness, her labours are virtues; for she teaches self-control and prudence, justice and courage; nothing in life is more profitable for mortals than these. 
8: And if anyone longs for wide experience, she knows the things of old, and infers the things to come; she understands turns of speech and the solutions of riddles; she has foreknowledge of signs and wonders and of the outcome of seasons and times.
9: Therefore I determined to take her to live with me, knowing that she would give me good counsel and encouragement in cares and grief. 
10: Because of her I shall have glory among the multitudes and honour in the presence of the elders, though I am young. 
11: I shall be found keen in judgement, and in the sight of rulers I shall be admired. 
12: When I am silent they will wait for me, and when I speak they will give heed; if I speak at greater length, they will put their hands on their mouths. 
13: Because of her I shall have immortality, and leave an everlasting remembrance to those who come after me. 
14: I shall govern peoples, and nations will be subject to me; 
15: dread monarchs will be afraid of me when they hear of me; among the people I shall show myself capable, and courageous in war. 
16: When I enter my house, I shall find rest with her; for companionship with her has no bitterness, and life with her has no pain, but gladness and joy. 
17: When I considered these things inwardly, and pondered in my heart that in kinship with wisdom there is immortality, 
18: and in friendship with her, pure delight, and in the labours of her hands, unfailing wealth, and in the experience of her company, understanding, and renown in sharing her words, I went about seeking how to get her for myself. 
19: As a child I was naturally gifted, and a good soul fell to my lot; 
20: or rather, being good, I entered an undefiled body. 
21: But I perceived that I would not possess wisdom unless God gave her to me - and it was a mark of insight to know whose gift she was - so I appealed to the Lord and implored him, and with my whole heart I said:

Chapter 9

1: ‘O God of my ancestors and Lord of mercy, who have made all things by your word, 
2: and by your wisdom have formed humankind to have dominion over the creatures you have made, 
3: and rule the world in holiness and righteousness, and pronounce judgement in uprightness of soul, 
4: give me the wisdom that sits by your throne, and do not reject me from among your servants. 
5: For I am your servant, the son of your servant-girl, a man who is weak and short-lived,
with little understanding of judgement and laws; 
6: for even one who is perfect among human beings will be regarded as nothing without the wisdom that comes from you. 
7: You have chosen me to be king of your people and to be judge over your sons and daughters. 
8: You have given command to build a temple on your holy mountain, and an altar in the city of your habitation, a copy of the holy tent that you prepared from the beginning. 
9: With you is wisdom, she who knows your works and was present when you made the world; she understands what is pleasing in your sight and what is right according to your commandments. 
10: Send her forth from the holy heavens, and from the throne of your glory send her,
that she may labour at my side, and that I may learn what is pleasing to you. 
11: For she knows and understands all things, and she will guide me wisely in my actions
and guard me with her glory. 
12: Then my works will be acceptable, and I shall judge your people justly, and shall be worthy of the throne of my father. 
13: For who can learn the counsel of God? Or who can discern what the Lord wills? 
14: For the reasoning of mortals is worthless, and our designs are likely to fail; 
15: for a perishable body weighs down the soul, and this earthy tent burdens the thoughtful mind. 
16: We can hardly guess at what is on earth and what is at hand we find with labour; but who has traced out what is in the heavens? 
17: Who has learned your counsel, unless you have given wisdom and sent your holy spirit from on high? 
18: And thus the paths of those on earth were set right, and people were taught what pleases you, and were saved by wisdom.’