The Book of Wisdom – Chapter 14

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The Bible – Old Testament

The Book of Wisdom

The Book of Wisdom

Chapter 14


Again, one preparing for a voyage and about to traverse the wild waves cries out to wood more unsound than the boat that bears him.


For the urge for profits devised this latter, and Wisdom the artificer produced it.


But your providence, O Father! guides it, for you have furnished even in the sea a road, and through the waves a steady path,


Showing that you can save from any danger, so that even one without skill may embark.


But you will that the products of your Wisdom be not idle; therefore men trust their lives even to frailest wood, and have been safe crossing the surge on a raft.


1 For of old, when the proud giants were being destroyed, the hope of the universe, who took refuge on a raft, left to the world a future for his race, under the guidance of your hand.


2 For blest is the wood through which justice comes about;


but the handmade idol is accursed, and its maker as well: he for having produced it, and it, because though corruptible, it was termed a god.


Equally odious to God are the evildoer and his evil deed;


and the thing made shall be punished with its contriver.


Therefore upon even the idols of the nations shall a visitation come, since they have become abominable amid God’s works, Snares for the souls of men and a trap for the feet of the senseless.


For the source of wantoness is the devising of idols; and their invention was a corruption of life.


For in the beginning they were not, nor shall they continue forever;


for by the vanity of men they came into the world, and therefore a sudden end is devised for them.


For a father, afflicted with untimely mourning, made an image of the child so quickly taken from him, And now honored as a god what was formerly a dead man and handed down to his subjects mysteries and sacrifices.


Then, in time, the impious practice gained strength and was observed as law, and graven things were worshiped by princely decrees.


Men who lived so far away that they could not honor him in his presence copied the appearance of the distant king And made a public image of him they wished to honor, out of zeal to flatter him when absent, as though present.


And to promote this observance among those to whom it was strange, the artisan’s ambition provided a stimulus.


For he, mayhap in his determination to please the ruler, labored over the likeness to the best of his skill;


And the masses, drawn by the charm of the workmanship, soon thought he should be worshiped who shortly before was honored as a man.


And this became a snare for mankind, that men enslaved to either grief or tyranny conferred the incommunicable Name on stocks and stones.


Then it was not enough for them to err in their knowledge of God; but even though they live in a great war of ignorance, they call such evils peace.


For while they celebrate either child-slaying sacrifices or clandestine mysteries, or frenzied carousals in unheard-of rites,


They no longer safeguard either lives or pure wedlock; but each either waylays and kills his neighbor, or aggrieves him by adultery.


And all is confusion-blood and murder, theft and guile, corruption, faithlessness, turmoil, perjury,


Disturbance of good men, neglect of gratitude, besmirching of souls, unnatural lust, disorder in marriage, adultery and shamelessness.


For the worship of infamous idols is the reason and source and extremity of all evil.


For they either go mad with enjoyment, or prophesy lies, or live lawlessly or lightly forswear themselves.


For as their trust is in soulless idols, they expect no harm when they have sworn falsely.


3 But on both counts shall justice overtake them: because they thought ill of God and devoted themselves to idols, and because they deliberately swore false oaths, despising piety.


4 For not the might of those that are sworn by but the retribution of sinners ever follows upon the transgression of the wicked.


1 [6] Noah.
2 [7] Often applied to the Cross of our Lord.
3 [30] Piety: the sanctity of oaths.
4 [31] Perjury is a form of deceit which calls for punishment even though it be practiced in the name of a lifeless idol.