New American Bible (Revised Edition)
22 [a]“The Lord begot me, the beginning of his works,
the forerunner of his deeds of long ago;(A)
23 From of old I was formed,[b]
at the first, before the earth.(B)
24 [c]When there were no deeps I was brought forth,
when there were no fountains or springs of water;
25 Before the mountains were settled into place,
before the hills, I was brought forth;
26 When the earth and the fields were not yet made,
nor the first clods of the world.
27 When he established the heavens, there was I,(C)
when he marked out the vault over the face of the deep;
28 When he made firm the skies above,
when he fixed fast the springs of the deep;
29 When he set for the sea its limit,
so that the waters should not transgress his command;
When he fixed the foundations of earth,
30 then was I beside him as artisan;[d](D)
I was his delight day by day,
playing before him all the while,
31 Playing over the whole of his earth,
having my delight with human beings.
- 8:22–31 Wisdom is of divine origin. She is represented as existing before all things (vv. 22–26), when God planned and created the universe, adorning it with beauty and variety, and establishing its wonderful order (vv. 27–30). The purpose of the two cosmogonies (vv. 22–26 and 27–31) is to ground Wisdom’s claims. The first cosmogony emphasizes that she was born before all else (and so deserving of honor) and the second underscores that she was with the Lord during the creation of the universe. The pre-existence of Woman Wisdom with God is developed in Sir 24 and in New Testament hymns to Christ, especially in Jn 1 and Col 1:15–20.
- 8:23 Formed: since the other verbs of the origin of Wisdom in these verses describe birth, it is likely that the somewhat uncertain verb is to be understood of birth as in Ps 139:13.
- 8:24–26 Perhaps the formless mass from which God created the heavens and the earth; cf. Gn 1:1–2; 2:4–6.
- 8:30 Artisan: the translation of the Hebrew word ’āmôn has been controverted since antiquity. There have been three main opinions: (1) artisan; (2) trustworthy (friend); (3) ward, nursling. The most likely explanation is that ’āmôn is artisan, related to Akkadian ummānu, legendary sages and heroes who brought divine gifts and culture to the human race. I was his delight: the chiastic or ABBA structure of vv. 30–31 unifies the four lines and underscores the analogy between Woman Wisdom’s intimate relation to the Lord and her intimate relation to human beings, i.e., “delight” + “playing” parallels “playing” + “delight.” She is God’s friend and intimate and invites human beings to a similar relationship to God through her.