Wisdom 18Revised Standard Version (RSV)
Light Shines on the Israelites
18 But for thy holy ones there was very great light.
Their enemies heard their voices but did not see their forms,
and counted them happy for not having suffered,
2 and were thankful that thy holy ones, though previously wronged, were doing them no injury;
and they begged their pardon for having been at variance with them.
3 Therefore thou didst provide a flaming pillar of fire
as a guide for thy people’s unknown journey,
and a harmless sun for their glorious wandering.
4 For their enemies deserved to be deprived of light and imprisoned in darkness,
those who had kept thy sons imprisoned,
through whom the imperishable light of the law was to be given to the world.
The Death of the Egyptian Firstborn
5 When they had resolved to kill the babes of thy holy ones,
and one child had been exposed and rescued,
thou didst in punishment take away a multitude of their children;
and thou didst destroy them all together by a mighty flood.
6 That night was made known beforehand to our fathers,
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 thy people.
8 For by the same means by which thou didst punish our enemies
thou didst call us to thyself and glorify us.
9 For in secret the holy children of good men offered sacrifices,
and with one accord agreed to the divine law,
that the saints would share alike the same things,
both blessings and dangers;
and already they were singing the praises of the fathers.
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 common man suffered the same loss as the king;
12 and they all together, by the one form 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 first-born were destroyed, they acknowledged thy people to be God’s son.
14 For while gentle silence enveloped all things,
and night in its swift course was now half gone,
15 thy 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 thy 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 which disturbed them forewarned them of this,
so that they might not perish without knowing why they suffered.
Threat of Annihilation in the Desert
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 thy servant.
22 He conquered the wrath not by strength of body,
and not by force of arms,
but by his word he subdued the punisher,
appealing to the oaths and covenants given to our fathers.
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 upon his long robe the whole world was depicted,
and the glories of the fathers were engraved on the four rows of stones,
and thy majesty on the diadem upon his head.
25 To these the destroyer yielded, these he feared;
for merely to test the wrath was enough.
Revised Standard Version (RSV)
Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.