Wisdom of Solomon 16:24–19:22

24 For creation, serving you who made it,

exerts itself to punish the unrighteous,

and in kindness relaxes on behalf of those who trust in you.

25 Therefore at that time also, changed into all forms,

it served your all-nourishing bounty,

according to the desire of those who had need,h

26 so that your children, whom you loved, O Lord, might learn

that it is not the production of crops that feeds humankind

but that your word sustains those who trust in you.

27 For what was not destroyed by fire

was melted when simply warmed by a fleeting ray of the sun,

28 to make it known that one must rise before the sun to give you thanks,

and must pray to you at the dawning of the light;

29 for the hope of an ungrateful person will melt like wintry frost,

and flow away like waste water.

Terror Strikes the Egyptians at Night

(Ex 10:21–23)

17 Great are your judgments and hard to describe;

therefore uninstructed souls have gone astray.

2 For when lawless people supposed that they held the holy nation in their power,

they themselves lay as captives of darkness and prisoners of long night,

shut in under their roofs, exiles from eternal providence.

3 For thinking that in their secret sins they were unobserved

behind a dark curtain of forgetfulness,

they were scattered, terriblya alarmed,

and appalled by specters.

4 For not even the inner chamber that held them protected them from fear,

but terrifying sounds rang out around them,

and dismal phantoms with gloomy faces appeared.

5 And no power of fire was able to give light,

nor did the brilliant flames of the stars

avail to illumine that hateful night.

6 Nothing was shining through to them

except a dreadful, self-kindled fire,

and in terror they deemed the things that they saw

to be worse than that unseen appearance.

7 The delusions of their magic art lay humbled,

and their boasted wisdom was scornfully rebuked.

8 For those who promised to drive off the fears and disorders of a sick soul

were sick themselves with ridiculous fear.

9 For even if nothing disturbing frightened them,

yet, scared by the passing of wild animals and the hissing of snakes

10 they perished in trembling fear,

refusing to look even at the air, though it nowhere could be avoided.

11 For wickedness is a cowardly thing, condemned by its own testimony;b

distressed by conscience, it has always exaggeratedc the difficulties.

12 For fear is nothing but a giving up of the helps that come from reason;

13 and hope, defeated by this inward weakness,

prefers ignorance of what causes the torment.

14 But throughout the night, which was really powerless

and which came upon them from the recesses of powerless Hades,

they all slept the same sleep,

15 and now were driven by monstrous specters,

and now were paralyzed by their souls’ surrender;

for sudden and unexpected fear overwhelmed them.

16 And whoever was there fell down,

and thus was kept shut up in a prison not made of iron;

17 for whether they were farmers or shepherds

or workers who toiled in the wilderness,

they were seized, and endured the inescapable fate;

for with one chain of darkness they all were bound.

18 Whether there came a whistling wind,

or a melodious sound of birds in wide-spreading branches,

or the rhythm of violently rushing water,

19 or the harsh crash of rocks hurled down,

or the unseen running of leaping animals,

or the sound of the most savage roaring beasts,

or an echo thrown back from a hollow of the mountains,

it paralyzed them with terror.

20 For the whole world was illumined with brilliant light,

and went about its work unhindered,

21 while over those people alone heavy night was spread,

an image of the darkness that was destined to receive them;

but still heavier than darkness were they to themselves.

Light Shines on the Israelites

(Ex 13:17–22)

18 But for your holy ones there was very great light.

Their enemiesa heard their voices but did not see their forms,

and counted them happy for not having suffered,

2 and were thankful that your holy ones,b though previously wronged, were doing them no injury;

and they begged their pardon for having been at variance with them.c

3 Therefore you provided a flaming pillar of fire

as a guide for your people’sd unknown journey,

and a harmless sun for their glorious wandering.

4 For their enemiese deserved to be deprived of light and imprisoned in darkness,

those who had kept your children imprisoned,

through whom the imperishable light of the law was to be given to the world.

The Death of the Egyptian Firstborn

(Ex 12:29–30; 14:26–31)

5 When they had resolved to kill the infants of your holy ones,

and one child had been abandoned and rescued,

you in punishment took away a multitude of their children;

and you destroyed them all together by a mighty flood.

6 That night was made known beforehand to our ancestors,

so that they might rejoice in sure knowledge of the oaths in which they trusted.

7 The deliverance of the righteous and the destruction of their enemies

were expected by your people.

8 For by the same means by which you punished our enemies

you called us to yourself and glorified us.

9 For in secret the holy children of good people offered sacrifices,

and with one accord agreed to the divine law,

so that the saints would share alike the same things,

both blessings and dangers;

and already they were singing the praises of the ancestors.f

10 But the discordant cry of their enemies echoed back,

and their piteous lament for their children was spread abroad.

11 The slave was punished with the same penalty as the master,

and the commoner suffered the same loss as the king;

12 and they all together, by the one formg of death,

had corpses too many to count.

For the living were not sufficient even to bury them,

since in one instant their most valued children had been destroyed.

13 For though they had disbelieved everything because of their magic arts,

yet, when their firstborn were destroyed, they acknowledged your people to be God’s child.

14 For while gentle silence enveloped all things,

and night in its swift course was now half gone,

15 your all-powerful word leaped from heaven, from the royal throne,

into the midst of the land that was doomed,

a stern warrior

16 carrying the sharp sword of your authentic command,

and stood and filled all things with death,

and touched heaven while standing on the earth.

17 Then at once apparitions in dreadful dreams greatly troubled them,

and unexpected fears assailed them;

18 and one here and another there, hurled down half dead,

made known why they were dying;

19 for the dreams that disturbed them forewarned them of this,

so that they might not perish without knowing why they suffered.

Threat of Annihilation in the Desert

(Num 16:41–50)

20 The experience of death touched also the righteous,

and a plague came upon the multitude in the desert,

but the wrath did not long continue.

21 For a blameless man was quick to act as their champion;

he brought forward the shield of his ministry,

prayer and propitiation by incense;

he withstood the anger and put an end to the disaster,

showing that he was your servant.

22 He conquered the wrathh not by strength of body,

not by force of arms,

but by his word he subdued the avenger,

appealing to the oaths and covenants given to our ancestors.

23 For when the dead had already fallen on one another in heaps,

he intervened and held back the wrath,

and cut off its way to the living.

24 For on his long robe the whole world was depicted,

and the glories of the ancestors were engraved on the four rows of stones,

and your majesty was on the diadem upon his head.

25 To these the destroyer yielded, these hei feared;

for merely to test the wrath was enough.

The Red Sea

19 But the ungodly were assailed to the end by pitiless anger,

for Goda knew in advance even their future actions:

2 how, though they themselves had permittedb your people to depart

and hastily sent them out,

they would change their minds and pursue them.

3 For while they were still engaged in mourning,

and were lamenting at the graves of their dead,

they reached another foolish decision,

and pursued as fugitives those whom they had begged and compelled to leave.

4 For the fate they deserved drew them on to this end,

and made them forget what had happened,

in order that they might fill up the punishment that their torments still lacked,

5 and that your people might experiencec an incredible journey,

but they themselves might meet a strange death.

God Guides and Protects His People

(Num 11:1–35)

6 For the whole creation in its nature was fashioned anew,

complying with your commands,

so that your childrend might be kept unharmed.

7 The cloud was seen overshadowing the camp,

and dry land emerging where water had stood before,

an unhindered way out of the Red Sea,

and a grassy plain out of the raging waves,

8 where those protected by your hand passed through as one nation,

after gazing on marvelous wonders.

9 For they ranged like horses,

and leaped like lambs,

praising you, O Lord, who delivered them.

10 For they still recalled the events of their sojourn,

how instead of producing animals the earth brought forth gnats,

and instead of fish the river spewed out vast numbers of frogs.

11 Afterward they saw also a new kinde of birds,

when desire led them to ask for luxurious food;

12 for, to give them relief, quails came up from the sea.

The Punishment of the Egyptians

13 The punishments did not come upon the sinners

without prior signs in the violence of thunder,

for they justly suffered because of their wicked acts;

for they practiced a more bitter hatred of strangers.

14 Others had refused to receive strangers when they came to them,

but these made slaves of guests who were their benefactors.

15 And not only so—but, while punishment of some sort will come upon the former

for having received strangers with hostility,

16 the latter, having first received them with festal celebrations,

afterward afflicted with terrible sufferings

those who had already shared the same rights.

17 They were stricken also with loss of sight—

just as were those at the door of the righteous man

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