The Book of Wisdom – Chapter 16

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The Bible – Old Testament

The Book of Wisdom

The Book of Wisdom

Chapter 16


1 Therefore they were fittingly punished by similar creatures, and were tormented by a swarm of insects.


Instead of this punishment, you benefited your people with a novel dish, the delight they craved, by providing quail for their food;


That those others, when they desired food, since the creatures sent to plague them were so loathsome, should be turned from even the craving of necessities, While these, after a brief period of privation, partook of a novel dish.


For upon those oppressors, inexorable want had to come; but these needed only be shown how their enemies were being tormented.


For when the dire venom of beasts came upon them and they were dying from the bite of crooked serpents, your anger endured not to the end.


2 But as a warning, for a short time they were terrorized, though they had a sign of salvation, to remind them of the precept of your law.


For he who turned toward it was saved, not by what he saw, but by you, the savior of all.


And by this also you convinced our foes that you are he who delivers from all evil.


For the bites of locusts and of flies slew them, and no remedy was found to save their lives because they deserved to be punished by such means;


But not even the fangs of poisonous reptiles overcame your sons, for your mercy brought the antidote to heal them.


For as a reminder of your injunctions, they were stung, and swiftly they were saved, Lest they should fall into deep forgetfulness and become unresponsive to your beneficence.


For indeed, neither herb nor application cured them, but your all-healing word, O LORD!


For you have dominion over life and death; you lead down to the gates of the nether world, and lead back.


3 Man, however, slays in his malice, but when the spirit has come away, it does not return, nor can he bring back the soul once it is confined.


But your hand none can escape.


For the wicked who refused to know you were punished by the might of your arm, Pursued by unwonted rains and hailstorms and unremitting downpours, and consumed by fire.


For against all expectation, in water which quenches anything, the fire grew more active; For the universe fights on behalf of the just.


For now the flame was tempered so that the beasts might not be burnt up that were sent upon the wicked, but that these might see and know they were struck by the judgment of God;


And again, even in the water, fire blazed beyond its strength so as to consume the produce of the wicked land.


Instead of this, you nourished your people with food of angels and furnished them bread from heaven, ready to hand, untoiled-for, endowed with all delights and conforming to every taste.


For this substance of yours revealed your sweetness toward your children, and serving the desire of him who received it, was blended to whatever flavor each one wished.


4 Yet snow and ice withstood fire and were not melted, that they might know that their enemies’ fruits Were consumed by a fire that blazed in the hail and flashed lightning in the rain.


But this fire, again, that the just might be nourished, forgot even its proper strength;


For your creation, serving you, its maker, grows tense for punishment against the wicked, but is relaxed in benefit for those who trust in you.


Therefore at that very time, transformed in all sorts of ways, it was serving your all-nourishing bounty according to what they needed and desired;


That your sons whom you loved might learn, O LORD, that it is not the various kinds of fruits that nourish man, but it is your word that preserves those who believe you!


For what was not destroyed by fire, when merely warmed by a momentary sunbeam, melted;


So that men might know that one must give you thanks before the sunrise, and turn to you at daybreak.


For the hope of the ingrate melts like a wintry frost and runs off like useless water.


1 [1] They: the Egyptian idolaters.
2 [6] Sign: the brazen serpent; cf ⇒ Numbers 21:9.
3 [14] Confined: in the nether world, in limbo.
4 [22] Snow and ice: the manna; cf ⇒ Wisdom 16:27; ⇒ 19:21.