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Wisdom of Solomon 17

17For great are thy judgements, and hard to interpret;

Therefore souls undisciplined went astray.

For when lawless men supposed they had overpowered a holy nation,

They themselves, prisoners of darkness, and bound in the fetters of a long night,

Close kept beneath their roofs,

Lay exiled from the eternal providence.

For while they thought that they were unseen in their secret sins,

They were scattered one from another by a dark curtain of forgetfulness,

Stricken with terrible awe, and sore troubled by spectral forms.

For neither did the recesses that held them guard them from fears,

But sounds rushing down rang around them,

And phantoms appeared, cheerless with unsmiling faces.

And no force of fire prevailed to give them light,

Neither could the brightest flames of the stars illumine that gloomy night:

But there appeared to them only the glimmering of a fire self-kindled, full of fear;

And in terror at that sight on which they could not gaze

They deemed the appearance

To be worse than it really was;

And the mockeries of magic art lay low,

And shameful was the rebuke of their boasted knowledge:

For they that promised to drive away terrors and troubles from sick souls

Were sick themselves with fear worthy of laughter:

For though no troublous thing affrighted them,

10 Yet, scared with the creepings of vermin and hissings of serpents, they perished for very trembling,

Refusing even to look on the air, which could on no side be escaped.

11 For wickedness in itself is a coward thing, and witnesseth its own condemnation,

And, being pressed hard by conscience, always forecasteth the worst:

12 For fear is naught but a surrender of the succours which reason offereth;

13 And when from within the heart the expectation thereof is o’erthrown

It reckons its ignorance worse than the cause that bringeth the torment.

14 But they, all through the night, which in truth was powerless

And which came upon them out of the recesses of powerless Hades,

All sleeping the same sleep,

15 Now were haunted by monstrous apparitions,

And now were paralysed by their soul’s surrender;

For fear sudden and unlooked for came upon them.

16 So then each and every man sinking down in his place

Was shut up in ward in that prison which was barred not with iron:

17 For whether he were husbandman, or shepherd,

Or a labourer whose toils were in the wilderness,

He was overtaken, and endured that inevitable necessity,

For with one chain of darkness were they all bound.

18 Whether there were a whistling wind,

Or a melodious noise of birds among the spreading branches,

Or a measured fall of water running violently,

19 Or a harsh crashing of rocks hurled down,

Or the swift course of animals bounding along unseen,

Or the voice of wild beasts harshly roaring,

Or an echo rebounding from the hollows of the mountains,

All these things paralysed them with terror.

20 For the whole world beside was enlightened with clear light,

And was occupied with unhindered works;

21 While over them alone was spread a heavy night,

An image of the darkness that should afterward receive them;

But yet heavier than darkness were they unto themselves.

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