The Book of Wisdom – Chapter 4

The Bible – Old Testament

The Book of Wisdom

The Book of Wisdom

Chapter 4


1 Better is childlessness with virtue; for immortal is its memory: because both by God is it acknowledged, and by men.


When it is present men imitate it, and they long for it when it is gone; And forever it marches crowned in triumph, victorious in unsullied deeds of valor.


But the numerous progeny of the wicked shall be of no avail; their spurious offshoots shall not strike deep root nor take firm hold.


For even though their branches flourish for a time, they are unsteady and shall be rocked by the wind and, by the violence of the winds, uprooted;


Their twigs shall be broken off untimely, and their fruit be useless, unripe for eating, and fit for nothing.


For children born of lawless unions give evidence of the wickedness of their parents, when they are examined.


But the just man, though he die early, shall be at rest.


For the age that is honorable comes not with the passing of time, nor can it be measured in terms of years.


Rather, understanding is the hoary crown for men, and an unsullied life, the attainment of old age.


2 He who pleased God was loved; he who lived among sinners was transported – 


Snatched away, lest wickedness pervert his mind or deceit beguile his soul;


For the witchery of paltry things obscures what is right and the whirl of desire transforms the innocent mind.


Having become perfect in a short while, he reached the fullness of a long career;


for his soul was pleasing to the LORD, therefore he sped him out of the midst of wickedness. But the people saw and did not understand, nor did they take this into account.




Yes, the just man dead condemns the sinful who live, and youth swiftly completed condemns the many years of the wicked man grown old.


For they see the death of the wise man and do not understand what the LORD intended for him, or why he made him secure.


They see, and hold him in contempt; but the LORD laughs them to scorn.


And they shall afterward become dishonored corpses and an unceasing mockery among the dead. For he shall strike them down speechless and prostrate and rock them to their foundations; They shall be utterly laid waste and shall be in grief and their memory shall perish.


4 Fearful shall they come, at the counting up of their sins, and their lawless deeds shall convict them to their face.


1 [1] The Latin form of this line, «Oh, how fair is the chaste generation in its glory!» is a later adaptation which is applied in the liturgy to the splendor of virginity.
2 [10-11] There are allusions here to Enoch (⇒ Genesis 5:21-24), who was young by patriarchal standards, and to Lot (⇒ Genesis 19:10, ⇒ 11; ⇒ 2 Peter 2:7, 8). Cf also ⇒ Isaiah 57:1-2.
3 [15] The verse here omitted repeats the last two lines of ⇒ Wisdom 3:9.
4 [20] Counting up: the last judgment.