The Holy See
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2002 11 11
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Chapter 11


She made their affairs prosper through the holy prophet.


1 They journeyed through the uninhabited desert, and in solitudes they pitched their tents;


they withstood enemies and took vengeance on their foes.


When they thirsted, they called upon you, and water was given them from the sheer rock, assuagement for their thirst from the hard stone.


For by the things through which their foes were punished they in their need were benefited.


2 Instead of a spring, when the perennial river was troubled with impure blood


as a rebuke to the decree for the slaying of infants, You gave them abundant water in an unhoped-for way,


once you had shown by the thirst they then had how you punished their adversaries.


For when they had been tried, though only mildly chastised, they recognized how the wicked, condemned in anger, were being tormented.


Both those afar off and those close by were afflicted:


the latter you tested, admonishing them as a father; the former as a stern king you probed and condemned.


For a twofold grief took hold of them and a groaning at the remembrance of the ones who had departed.


For when they heard that the cause of their own torments was a benefit to these others, they recognized the Lord.


Him who of old had been cast out in exposure they indeed mockingly rejected; but in the end of events, they marveled at him, since their thirst proved unlike that of the just.


3 And in return for their senseless, wicked thoughts, which misled them into worshiping dumb serpents and worthless insects, You sent upon them swarms of dumb creatures for vengeance;


that they might recognize that a man is punished by the very things through which he sins.


For not without means was your almighty hand, that had fashioned the universe from formless matter, to send upon them a drove of bears or fierce lions,


Or new-created, wrathful, unknown beasts to breathe forth fiery breath, Or pour out roaring smoke, or flash terrible sparks from their eyes.


Not only could these attack and completely destroy them; even their frightful appearance itself could slay.


Even without these, they could have been killed at a single blast, pursued by retribution and winnowed out by your mighty spirit; But you have disposed all things by measure and number and weight.


For with you great strength abides always; who can resist the might of your arm?


4 Indeed, before you the whole universe is as a grain from a balance, or a drop of morning dew come down upon the earth.


But you have mercy on all, because you can do all things; and you overlook the sins of men that they may repent.


For you love all things that are and loathe nothing that you have made; for what you hated, you would not have fashioned.


And how could a thing remain, unless you willed it; or be preserved, had it not been called forth by you?


But you spare all things, because they are yours, O LORD and lover of souls,



1 [2-4] Few verses in these later chapters can be fully understood without consulting the passages in the Mosaic books which are indicated in the cross references. The theme of this part of the book is expressed in Wisdom 11:5 and is illustrated in the following chapters by five examples drawn from Exodus events.

2 [6-8] The perennial river: the Nile; the contrast is between the first plague of Egypt ( Exodus 7:17-24) and the water drawn from the rock in Horeb ( Exodus 17:5-7; Numbers 20:8-11).

3 [15] Dumb: that is, irrational.

4 [22] Grain from a balance: a tiny particle used for weighing on sensitive scales.

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