New American Bible (Revised Edition)
1 “Lord Almighty, God of Israel, the anguished soul, the dismayed spirit cries out to you. 2 Hear, Lord, and have mercy, for you are a merciful God; have mercy on us, who have sinned against you: 3 for you are enthroned forever, while we are perishing forever.(A) 4 Lord Almighty, God of Israel, hear the prayer of the dead of Israel, children who sinned against you; they did not listen to the voice of the Lord, their God, and their evils cling to us.(B) 5 Do not remember the wicked deeds of our ancestors, but remember at this time your power and your name, 6 for you are the Lord our God; and you, Lord, we will praise! 7 This is why you put into our hearts the fear of you: that we may call upon your name, and praise you in our exile, when we have removed from our hearts all the wickedness of our ancestors who sinned against you.(C) 8 See, today we are in exile, where you have scattered us, an object of reproach and cursing and punishment for all the wicked deeds of our ancestors, who withdrew from the Lord, our God.”
II. Praise of Wisdom[a]
A. Importance of Wisdom
9 Hear, Israel, the commandments of life:
listen, and know prudence!(D)
10 How is it, Israel,
that you are in the land of your foes,
grown old in a foreign land,
11 Defiled with the dead,
counted among those destined for Hades?(E)
12 You have forsaken the fountain of wisdom!(F)
13 Had you walked in the way of God,
you would have dwelt in enduring peace.(G)
14 Learn where prudence is,
where strength, where understanding;
That you may know also
where are length of days, and life,
where light of the eyes, and peace.(H)
15 Who has found the place of wisdom?(I)
Who has entered into her treasuries?
16 Where are the rulers of the nations,
who lorded it over the wild beasts of the earth,(J)
17 made sport of the birds in the heavens,
Who heaped up the silver,
the gold in which people trust,
whose possessions were unlimited,
18 Who schemed anxiously for money,
their doings beyond discovery?
19 They have vanished, gone down to Hades,
and others have risen up in their stead.
20 Later generations have seen the light of day,
have dwelt on the earth,
But the way to understanding they have not known,
21 they have not perceived her paths or reached her;
their children remain far from the way to her.
22 She has not been heard of in Canaan,[b]
nor seen in Teman.(K)
23 The descendants of Hagar who seek knowledge on earth,
the merchants of Medan and Tema,(L)
the storytellers and those seeking knowledge—
These have not known the way to wisdom,
nor have they kept her paths in mind.
B. Inaccessibility of Wisdom
24 O Israel, how vast is the dwelling of God,[c]
how broad the scope of his dominion:
25 Vast and endless,
high and immeasurable!
26 In it were born the giants,[d]
renowned at the first,
huge in stature, skilled in war.(M)
27 These God did not choose,
nor did he give them the way of understanding;(N)
28 They perished for lack of prudence,
perished through their own folly.(O)
29 Who has gone up to the heavens and taken her,
bringing her down from the clouds?(P)
30 Who has crossed the sea and found her,
bearing her away rather than choice gold?
31 None knows the way to her,
nor has at heart her path.
32 But the one who knows all things knows her;
he has probed her by his knowledge—
The one who established the earth for all time,
and filled it with four-footed animals,
33 Who sends out the lightning, and it goes,
calls it, and trembling it obeys him;
34 Before whom the stars at their posts
shine and rejoice.
35 When he calls them, they answer, “Here we are!”
shining with joy for their Maker.(Q)
36 Such is our God;
no other is to be compared to him:
C. Wisdom Contained in the Law
38 Thus she has appeared on earth,
is at home with mortals.(S)
- 3:9–4:4 This poem in praise of personified Wisdom utilizes the theme of Jb 28 (where is wisdom to be found?) and it identifies wisdom and law, as in Sir 24:22–23.
- 3:22–23 Despite the renown for wisdom of the peoples of Canaan and Phoenicia (Ez 28:3–4), of Teman (Jer 49:7), of the descendants of Hagar or the Arabians of Medan and Tema, they did not possess true wisdom, which is found only in the law of God (Bar 4:1).
- 3:24 The dwelling of God: here, the whole universe; cf. Is 66:1.
- 3:26 The giants: Gn 6:1–4 reflects a tradition about giants who existed before the flood; this was developed in the non-canonical Book of Enoch.
- 3:37–38 As in Sir 24:8, Wisdom is given to Israel but also is said to live with all human beings (Prv 8:31).