The Holy See
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New American Bible

2002 11 11
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Chapter 18


But your holy ones had very great light; And those others, who heard their voices but did not see their forms, since now they themselves had suffered, called them blest;


1 And because they who formerly had been wronged did not harm them, they thanked them, and pleaded with them, for the sake of the difference between them.


Instead of this, you furnished the flaming pillar which was a guide on the unknown way, and the mild sun for an honorable migration.


For those deserved to be deprived of light and imprisoned by darkness, who had kept your sons confined through whom the imperishable light of the law was to be given to the world.


2 When they determined to put to death the infants of the holy ones, and when a single boy had been cast forth but saved, As a reproof you carried off their multitude of sons and made them perish all at once in the mighty water.


That night was known beforehand to our fathers, that, with sure knowledge of the oaths in which they put their faith, they might have courage.


Your people awaited the salvation of the just and the destruction of their foes.


For when you punished our adversaries, in this you glorified us whom you had summoned.


3 For in secret the holy children of the good were offering sacrifice and putting into effect with one accord the divine institution, That your holy ones should share alike the same good things and dangers, having previously sung the praises of the fathers.


But the discordant cry of their enemies responded, and the piteous wail of mourning for children was borne to them.


And the slave was smitten with the same retribution as his master; even the plebeian suffered the same as the king.


And all alike by a single death had countless dead; For the living were not even sufficient for the burial, since at a single instant their nobler offspring were destroyed.


4 For though they disbelieved at every turn on account of sorceries, at the destruction of the first-born they acknowledged that the people was God's son.


For when peaceful stillness compassed everything and the night in its swift course was half spent,


Your all-powerful word from heaven's royal throne bounded, a fierce warrior, into the doomed land,


bearing the sharp sword of your inexorable decree. And as he alighted, he filled every place with death; he still reached to heaven, while he stood upon the earth.


Then, forthwith, visions in horrible dreams perturbed them and unexpected fears assailed them;


And cast half-dead, one here, another there, each was revealing the reason for his dying.


For the dreams that disturbed them had proclaimed this beforehand, lest they perish unaware of why they suffered ill.


But the trial of death touched at one time even the just, and in the desert a plague struck the multitude; Yet not for long did the anger last.


5 For the blameless man hastened to be their champion, bearing the weapon of his special office, prayer and the propitiation of incense; He withstood the wrath and put a stop to the calamity, showing that he was your servant.


6 And he overcame the bitterness not by bodily strength, not by force of arms; But by word he overcame the smiter, recalling the sworn covenants with their fathers.


For when corpses had already fallen one on another in heaps, he stood in the midst and checked the anger, and cut off the way to the living.


7 For on his full-length robe was the whole world, and the glories of the fathers were carved in four rows upon the stones, and your grandeur was on the crown upon his head.


To these names the destroyer yielded, and these he feared; for the mere trial of anger was enough.



1 [2] The difference between them: God's distinctive manner of treating the Israelites and the Egyptians according to their respective merits.

2 [5] Single boy: Moses.

3 [9] Praises of the fathers: cf Sirach 44-50; Wisdom 10.

4 [13] People: the Hebrews.

5 [21] Blameless man: Aaron, acting according to his office of high priest and intercessor.

6 [22] Smiter: the destroying angel; cf Wisdom 18:25.

7 [24] Glories . . . grandeur: the name of God and the names of the tribes were inscribed on the high priest's apparel.

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