The Book of Wisdom – Chapter 8

The Bible – Old Testament

The Book of Wisdom

The Book of Wisdom

Chapter 8


1 Indeed, she reaches from end to end mightily and governs all things well.


Her I loved and sought after from my youth; I sought to take her for my bride and was enamored of her beauty.


She adds to nobility the splendor of companionship with God; even the LORD of all loved her.


For she is instructress in the understanding of God, the selector of his works.


And if riches be a desirable possession in life, what is more rich than Wisdom, who produces all things?


And if prudence renders service, who in the world is a better craftsman than she?


2 Or if one loves justice, the fruits of her works are virtues; For she teaches moderation and prudence, justice and fortitude, and nothing in life is more useful for men than these.


Or again, if one yearns for copious learning, she knows the things of old, and infers those yet to come. She understands the turns of phrases and the solutions of riddles; signs and wonders she knows in advance and the outcome of times and ages.


So I determined to take her to live with me, knowing that she would be my counselor while all was well, and my comfort in care and grief.


For her sake I should have glory among the masses, and esteem from the elders, though I be but a youth.


I should become keen in judgment, and should be a marvel before rulers.


3 They would abide my silence and attend my utterance; and as I spoke on further, they would place their hands upon their mouths.


For her sake I should have immortality and leave to those after me an everlasting memory.


I should govern peoples, and nations would be my subjects-


terrible princes, hearing of me, would be afraid; in the assembly I should appear noble, and in war courageous.


Within my dwelling, I should take my repose beside her; For association with her involves no bitterness and living with her no grief, but rather joy and gladness.


Thinking thus within myself, and reflecting in my heart That there is immortality in kinship with Wisdom,


and good pleasure in her friendship, and unfailing riches in the works of her hands, And that in frequenting her society there is prudence, and fair renown in sharing her discourses, I went about seeking to take her for my own.


4 Now, I was a well-favored child, and I came by a noble nature;


or rather, being noble, I attained an unsullied body.


5 And knowing that I could not otherwise possess her except God gave it –  and this, too, was prudence, to know whose is the gift –  I went to the LORD and besought him, and said with all my heart:


1 [1] End to end: from one end of the heavens to the other.
2 [7] Moderation . . . fortitude: what are now known as the cardinal virtues.
3 [12] Hands upon their mouths: an oft-mentioned sign of respect among the ancients for unanswerable wisdom; cf ⇒ Job 40:4.
4 [19-20] Here the sacred writer mentions first bodily, then spiritual, excellence. To make it plain that the latter is the governing factor in the harmonious development of the human person, he then reverses the order.
5 [21] Possess her: in the Latin, «be continent.» Though this verse has often been cited in connection with the virtue of chastity, the original must certainly mean «be possessed of Wisdom.»