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On the Wisdom of Solomon, Part 12: The Origin of Wisdom
In our last presentation on the Wisdom of Solomon, The Wisdom of Kings, which discussed the first 21 verses of Wisdom chapter 6, we showed how Solomon was actually making an exhortation, although it was expressed as a prescient admonition, that the kings of Israel rule the people righteously by following the counsel and keeping the commandments of God. To Solomon, this was wisdom, and he admonished them that they would suffer trials if they did not heed his warning. He then advised them, according to the commandments of God, to keep holiness holily, that doing so they themselves would be judged holy. Since he was speaking to kings whom he had expected to keep the law, which, as he was writing, can only include the kings of the future children of Israel, then the holiness to which he referred is the separation and distinguishing of Israel that is demanded in the law.
Solomon then advised these kings that if they sought wisdom earnestly, they would find it, that it would not be far from them. Since Solomon was speaking of the wisdom which is from God, his words evoke Paul’s address to the Athenians in Acts chapter 17, where Paul told them that God Himself had given all nations of man, which is properly Adamic man, the opportunity to seek Him, and “27… If surely then they would seek after Him then they would find Him, and indeed He being not far from each one of us.” Then again we read in Hebrews chapter 11: “6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” In like manner, Solomon said in verse 13 of this chapter, as we would translate it, that Wisdom “… comes upon those who desire to know her beforehand.”
Finally, Solomon made a profession which we had also seen expressed in diverse places in the Gospel of Christ, as well as in the epistles of the apostles, namely in those of John, James and Paul, where he wrote: “17 For the very true beginning of her is the desire of discipline; and the care of discipline is love; 18 And love is the keeping of her laws; and the giving heed unto her laws is the assurance of incorruption; 19 And incorruption maketh us near unto God: 20 Therefore the desire of wisdom bringeth [or leads] to a kingdom.”
So we see in the Wisdom of Solomon that love is the keeping of the laws of God, which is true wisdom, and that the keeping of the laws results in incorruption. Many years later, the apostle John defined love in that same manner, according to what he had in turn heard from Christ. In 1 John chapter 5 he wrote: “ 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” For the Christian, no other sort of love could eclipse or supplant this true love of God, which is to keep His commandments. This is so important to the Christian faith that John repeated it in his second epistle where he wrote “5… I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another. 6 And this is love, that we walk after his commandments.” Those commandments also demand that the holiness and sanctity of the people of Israel be maintained, as Solomon had already advised the kings, and as Christ had come only for the “lost sheep of the house of Israel”.
This being true wisdom, the desire and practice of such wisdom results in the establishment of a kingdom, and that in turn would indeed be the kingdom of heaven. But while Solomon’s father David certainly was a model of such a king, it was never accomplished in the period of the Old Testament kingdom, nor was it ever explicitly preached. However it is the core message of the Gospel of the Kingdom preached by Christ and His apostles, which also underscores the Old Testament Scriptures that provide its foundations. Therefore we must consider Solomon to be a prophet of the Gospel of the Kingdom which was preached by Christ, because its core elements are all elucidated here in this chapter, and while portions or allusions of it are found in diverse places among the Old Testament Scriptures, nowhere else is it explained in a single passage and in such a clear and concise manner.
Solomon must have had the 119th Psalm as a model, which was probably written by David his father, and its expressions do indeed appear in other Psalms which are explicitly attributed to David, where in part, addressing Yahweh God, it says: “ 97… O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day. 98 Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me. 99 I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation. 100 I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts. 101 I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy word. 102 I have not departed from thy judgments: for thou hast taught me. 103 How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! 104 Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.” While David did not speak explicitly of the development of a kingdom through the king’s love for the law, in his own life Solomon must have witnessed that result, and had that observation as the foundation for his love of wisdom. Now he is advising others who would be kings in his future, and as he proceeds, he begins to illustrate the origin of Wisdom, and then the beauty of Wisdom, which he continues to describe as the allures of a woman. But first, here at the end of Wisdom chapter 6, he first promises to reveal the origin of Wisdom and how he can explain it:
Wisdom 6:22 As for wisdom, what she is, and how she came up, I will tell you, and will not hide mysteries from you: but will seek her out from the beginning of her nativity, and bring the knowledge of her into light, and will not pass over the truth.
Here Solomon promises to inform us as to how Wisdom “came up”, or came to be. But as he proceeds, he shows why men should seek wisdom by illustrating the fact that all men come into the world humble and naked, crying and needing to be nursed. Making that argument he implies that no king is born with wisdom, and no king is born in a condition which is any different from other men. So that is a further admonishment that even kings should be humble and willing to learn wisdom. When we get to chapter 7, he shall profess that wisdom came to be through God, so Solomon leaves no room in Wisdom for any wisdom which is not from God. First, however, he advises on how to approach wisdom:
23 Neither will I go with consuming [literally melting] envy; for such a man shall have no fellowship with wisdom.
Liddell & Scott define φθόνος, which is envy, as “ill-will or malice, esp. envy or jealousy of the good fortune of others”. So we must be careful not to be jealous of the good gifts, fine attributes, intellectual prowess, material possessions or other things which Yahweh God has given to others. The apostle Peter had also warned against envy in a similar manner, that along with other sins it prevents one from coming to truth, in chapter 2 of his first epistle: “1 Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, 2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: 3 If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” Likewise Paul had warned Titus where he wrote in chapter 3 of the epistle he sent to him: “3 For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.” In chapter 4 of his epistle, James also said that lust leads to envy, where he wrote speaking of the fleshly spirit that “The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy”. It is evident in the words of Peter and Paul cited here, that envy then in turn leads one to slander and blaspheme those whom we envy, so by following that path we will never be led to wisdom.
Now Solomon makes a statement which is further admonishing kings not to be envious of those who may have greater wisdom:
24 But the multitude of the wise is the welfare of the world: and a wise king is the upholding of the people.
The word for wise is a genitive plural masculine adjective form of σοφός, and here it must be treated as a Substantive, although it describes the character of the πλῆθος, or multitude. Perhaps it may have been translated as “A multitude of wise men...” The word translated as welfare, σωτηρία, is actually salvation or preservation. So rather than being envious of wise men among the people, a wise king should appreciate them. Finally, Solomon warns:
25 Receive therefore instruction through my words, and it shall do you good.
We would translate verse 25 to read:
For this reason [ὥστε], be instructed [παιδεύεσθε] in my words [τοῖς ῥήμασίν μου] and you shall profit [καὶ ὠφεληθήσεσθε].
Frequently, the great kings of Mesopotamia as well as the Egyptian pharaohs had obliterated the memories of their predecessors, and often treated their own failures in like manner, not preserving the memory of their failures but only leaving records of their successful accomplishments while building monuments to their own greatness. Many of the records of the emperors of Rome were also erased from history. Here Solomon, a great king, advises future kings to heed his instruction, and therefore he anticipates that his own words will be preserved.
Now we shall commence with Wisdom chapter 7, and Solomon begins by describing his own human frailty while asserting that no other, and no future king can claim to have had any loftier or more advantageous entry into the world:
Wisdom 7:1 I myself also am a mortal man, like to all, and the offspring of him that was first made of the earth, 2 And in my mother's womb was fashioned to be flesh in the time of ten months, being compacted in blood, of the seed of man, and the pleasure that came with sleep.
Where it says “the offspring of him that was first made of earth”, the clause comes from a three-word phrase, γηγενοῦς ἀπόγονος πρωτοπλάστου, which is literally “descended from the first-formed earth-born”.
The early Greek writers had used the word γηγενής to describe the Titans as being born of the earth. It is literally earth-born or earth-race. It also appears in the Greek Scriptures in Jeremiah, in the 48th Psalm, and twice in Proverbs. But while none of the translations of the word in those places are consistent, here it is clearly an illusion to Genesis chapter 2 and the manner in which the creation of Adam is described therein.
To Solomon, the children of Israel were the whole world, as he explained in Wisdom chapter 18, and they in turn having descended from Adam, he evidently considered Adam to be the first made of the earth regardless of the presence of other so-called people or races of people. The phrase for mortal man is θνητὸς ἄνθρωπος, which is more literally a man subject to death.
In the Greek text of verse 2, there are no Greek words for the phrases “in my mother's womb” and “to be flesh”, regardless of whether the implications are present. So we would more literally translate this verse to read:
In ten months time [δεκαμηνιαίῳ χρόνῳ] being fashioned in blood [παγεὶς ἐν αἵματι] from the seed of man [ἐκ σπέρματος ἀνδρὸς] and pleasure which comes in sleep [καὶ ἡδονῆς ὕπνῳ συνελθούσης].
Apparently, or at least, so far as I could find, there are only two references to the gestation period of children in Scripture, and both are apocryphal. The other reference is in 2 Maccabees chapter 7 where we see a mother’s plea for mercy made to her son: “O my son, have pity upon me that bare thee nine months in my womb… ” Here in Wisdom gestation is described as a period of ten months. According to modern sources, the human gestation period can range from 268 to 280 days, and some, according to a study originally published in Oxford Journals, can last as long as 284 days. That is nearly nine-and-a-half months. We can only conjecture as to why Solomon described the gestation period as being ten months long here.
But Solomon was not alone. While we do not believe that the author of Wisdom was a student of Hellenistic philosophy, in Book 7 of Aristotle’s History of Animals we read: “Now all other animals bring the time of pregnancy to an end in a uniform way; in other words, one single term of pregnancy is defined for each of them. But in the case of mankind alone of all animals the times are diverse, for pregnancy may be of 7 months' duration or of 8 months or of 9 and still more commonly of 10 months, whilst some women go even into the eleventh month.” The ancient Greeks did not have a seven-day week, so Aristotle must have been referring to lunar months, and he implies that a ten-month gestation was even more common than the shorter periods. But it is plausible that Solomon was also referring to lunar months, as the ancient Hebrews recognized lunar months as well. The lunar month being 29 ½ days, while our calendar months are longer, simple rounding may account for the difference between Solomon and Aristotle, and 3 Maccabees, between 265 ½ and 295 days.
Continuing to speak of the humble state of man at birth:
3 And when I was born, I drew in the common air, and fell upon the earth, which is of like nature, and the first voice which I uttered was crying, as all others do. 4 I was nursed in swaddling clothes, and that with cares.
In other words, he breathed the same air that all men breathe, and he crawled on the same ground upon which all men as infants first crawl, as he was nursed and cared for by a woman, which also happens to all men from the time that they are first born. Solomon is describing the humble state in which all men are born, so that he may make a greater point:
5 For there is no king that had any other beginning of birth. 6 For all men have one entrance into life, and the like going out.
Therefore no king begins life any better or any wiser than any other man. Making this illustration, it is evident that Solomon hopes to convince future kings that they should listen to his words and be humble enough to learn from them. Now he explains why they should do that in another manner, which is because his wisdom came from God:
7 Wherefore I prayed, and understanding was given me: I called upon God, and the spirit of wisdom came to me.
Here there is no words for the phrase “upon God” in the text, so the translation is dishonest. Solomon does not reveal that wisdom comes from God until verse 14 and the verses which follow.
8 I preferred her before sceptres and thrones, and esteemed riches nothing in comparison of her.
Even though the words “upon God” are not actually found in verse 7, this nevertheless describes Solomon’s own experience as it is related in 1 Kings chapter 3. First, as he describes men in childhood here, in 1 Kings as Solomon ascends to be king he is portrayed as having prayed “7 And now, O LORD my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in.” Then on that account, while he may have asked for many other things, instead he asked only for wisdom and prayed that God “9 Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?”
Now he once again professes to esteem wisdom to be much more valuable than riches:
9 Neither compared I unto her any precious stone, because all gold in respect of her [literally in the face of her, or before her] is as a little sand, and silver shall be counted [or reckoned] as clay before her.
Here we have found it necessary to repeat some of the things we had already said in our last presentation, because Solomon himself has repeated these things, although in a different way.
There is nothing inherently wrong with wealth, if it is used wisely. The apostle James in chapter 5 of his epistle had chastised the wealthy who were not good stewards of their wealth, who used it for their own advantage while despising the poor of their own people. Therefore, returning to 1 Kings chapter 3, Yahweh God had rewarded Solomon with wisdom and with wealth because Solomon had sought wisdom above wealth or above any other fleshly or material rewards: “11 And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment; 12 Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee. 13 And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honour: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days. 14 And if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days.”
In Proverbs chapter 29 the love of wisdom is contrasted with whoredom: “3 When a man loves wisdom, his father rejoices: but he that keeps harlots will waste wealth.” In the Old Testament, when the children of Israel abandoned Yahweh their God and followed other gods, it was also described as whoredom, even if their whoredom was not always literal in the sense that the word is commonly used. So notice that last promise, that if Solomon would keep the law, his days would be lengthened. Therefore we read in Proverbs chapter 19 that “8 He that getteth wisdom loveth his own soul: he that keepeth understanding shall find good.”
Continuing to describe his esteem for wisdom:
10 I loved her above health and beauty, and chose to have her instead of light: for the light that cometh from her never goeth out.
The first occurrence of the word light is from the Greek word φῶς, and the second from φέγγος, which may have been rendered as splendor or radiance. Solomon reveals his meaning here in verse 29 of this chapter where he speaks of Wisdom and says “For she is more beautiful than the sun, and above all the order of stars: being compared with the light, she is found before it.” In Proverbs chapter 6 Solomon wrote: “23 For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life.” these concepts shall converge later in this chapter.
In the ancient Greek Epic and Tragic poets, the same word φως, which means light, was used as a synonym for man. True wisdom coming from God, and Yahshua Christ being the Word of God made flesh, He is also the light come into the world, which never goes out, as we read in His Own words in John chapter 8: “12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” Throughout the later half of this chapter, we shall see that Solomon considered only the wisdom which comes from God. That wisdom is embodied in Christ. So now he expresses the result of his love for wisdom:
11 All good things together came to me with her, and innumerable riches in her hands. 12 And I rejoiced in them all, because wisdom goeth before them [literally of them wisdom precedes]: and I knew not that she was the mother of them.
Here Solomon seems to be saying that when he found these innumerable riches, it was not immediately evident that he had attained them strictly because of his love for and his having acquired wisdom. Of course, he must have made the realization by the time when he finally wrote this, because otherwise he could not have made this profession.
But this profession, along with the profession found in verses 17 and 18 in chapter 6, where he said “17 For the very true beginning of her is the desire of discipline; and the care of discipline is love; 18 And love is the keeping of her laws” seems to indicate that this work was indeed written after the repentance which Solomon had expressed in Ecclesiastes. So it may be conjectured that after having experienced the folly of his sin, he came to realize that all which he had possessed had only come to him on account of the pursuit of wisdom which he had undertaken in his youth.
13 I learned diligently, and do communicate her liberally: I do not hide her riches.
This verse would better be translated:
Both honestly I have learned [ἀδόλως τε ἔμαθον] and abundantly I have imparted [ἀφθόνως τε μεταδίδωμι]; her riches [τὸν πλοῦτον αὐτῆς] I do not conceal [οὐκ ἀποκρύπτομαι].
Of course, every true Christian should have this same attitude towards the wisdom of God, to learn from His Word and to be willing to share with one’s brethren everything which one has learned.
14 For she is a treasure unto men that never faileth: which they that use become the friends of God, being commended for the gifts that come from learning.
These are the gifts which the apostle James had in mind where he wrote in the opening chapter of his first epistle that “17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”
In chapter 6 Solomon had said “18 And love is the keeping of her laws; and the giving heed unto her laws is the assurance of incorruption; 19 And incorruption maketh us near unto God.” We would translate the second clause of this verse more accurately, to read “which they acquiring are prepared for friendship with God”. But in any case, here we must understand that all of these things are prerequisites to any hope of ever being a friend of God, that where Solomon has written this in chapter 7 we must also take into consideration what was written in chapter 6.
As for “the gifts that come from learning”, it is evident in 1 Kings chapter 3 that Solomon was granted gifts from God because he sought and prayed for wisdom. Then here he professed that Wisdom is the mother of innumerable riches. So here in this verse, he does not necessarily refer to material gifts, yet we saw that material gifts come not through craft, but from God. As for material gifts, in Ecclesiastes chapter 2 Solomon professed that it is a blessing merely if a man can enjoy the fruits of his own labors.
Sometimes material gifts may come as a reward, as we see in 1 Kings chapter 3 of Solomon, but even that is to fulfill the purpose of Yahweh, to build His kingdom and keep His promises, which is evident in the law in Deuteronomy chapter 8. But at other times wealth is a trial, which is evident in the account of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts chapter 5, or in James’ admonishment of the wealthy in chapter 5 of his epistle, or in the rich man of the parable of Luke chapter 12, who sought to build larger storehouses for his abundant goods, rather than seek out better ways to use his wealth. It may also be evident here that a friend of God is commended for the gifts which come from learning, but that does not pertain to the acquisition of wealth, although it may pertain to its utilization.
Now Solomon admits that he himself is only acting as a vessel which Yahweh God has employed in order to explain His wisdom:
15 God hath granted me to speak as I would, and to conceive as is meet for the things that are given me: because it is he that leadeth unto wisdom, and directeth the wise.
The verb for grant here is δίδωμι, and it appears in the optative form (δῴη), which expresses a wish or desire. Along with other differences, we would therefore translate the verse to read:
And may God give to me [ἐμοὶ δὲ δῴη ὁ θεὸς] to speak intelligently [literally according to intelligence, εἰπεῖν κατὰ γνώμην] and to consider worthily [ἐνθυμηθῆναι ἀξίω] of the things which are given [τῶν δεδομένων] because He is also the Guide of wisdom [ὅτι αὐτὸς καὶ τῆς σοφίας ὁδηγός ἐστιν] and Corrector of the wise [καὶ τῶν σοφῶν διορθωτής].
Here the grammar insists that Solomon is actually making a prayer, that the things which he writes in this book are accurate and are related intelligently, which is itself a sign of his humility, that even if he is as wise as he claims, he hopes he is able to communicate that wisdom correctly and so that it may be understood by men.
If it is God that leads one to wisdom, then the only true wisdom must come from God. It is not Yahweh God who is going to lead men to Plato or Aristotle, to the wisdom of this world which Paul of Tarsus had denounced. As he wrote in 1 Corinthians chapter 3, “19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.” The godless philosophers and those of the pagans fit the description of Paul which he wrote in chapter 3 of his second epistle to Timothy, that such men were “7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
Humble men who seek God must also realize, as Solomon now explains:
16 For in his hand are both we and our words; all wisdom [φρόνησις, understanding] also, and knowledge of [ἐπιστήμη, skill in] workmanship.
From the 104th Psalm, attributed to David: “24 O LORD, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches.” Then in Ecclesiastes chapter 9 Solomon had also made a similar acknowledgement and he wrote: “1 For all this I considered in my heart even to declare all this, that the righteous, and the wise, and their works, are in the hand of God…”
So as we read in John chapter 10, “27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. 30 I and my Father are one.” So Paul of Tarsus was able to go even further than Solomon and profess in chapter 2 of his epistle to the Ephesians: “10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”
Now Solomon once again admits that the things which he himself had learned were also from Yahweh God, and therefore God is indeed the source of wisdom, which Solomon said that he would reveal at the end of chapter 6:
17 For he hath given me certain knowledge of the things that are, namely, to know how the world was made, and the operation of the elements: 18 The beginning, ending, and midst of the times: the alterations of the turning of the sun, and the change of seasons: 19 The circuits [circles] of years, and the positions [settings] of stars:
The words “of the sun” are inferred, and the phrase is only “the alterations of the turnings”. While we have other differences with this passage, the general sense is sufficiently accurate to refrain from them.
From the 136th Psalm, which opens with an exhortation to give thanks to Yahweh: “5 To him that by wisdom made the heavens: for his mercy endureth for ever. 6 To him that stretched out the earth above the waters: for his mercy endureth for ever. 7 To him that made great lights: for his mercy endureth for ever: 8 The sun to rule by day: for his mercy endureth for ever: 9 The moon and stars to rule by night: for his mercy endureth for ever.”
While we do not know by what method Solomon came to understand these things, we cannot preclude the possibility that he received them through sacred writings more ancient than his own. If there is any validity to scriptures such as that which is found in the Enoch literature, it must have existed in Solomon’s time, although we cannot know with certainty the substance or contents, or trust that it is accurately represented by what we see of it today.
In any event, Solomon continues to describe the many elements of wisdom which he had from God, and it far exceeds what we have in our copies of Scripture as it exists today, where he adds:
20 The natures of living creatures, and the furies of wild beasts: the violence of winds, and the reasonings of men: the diversities of plants and the virtues [or literally powers] of roots: 21 And all such things as are either secret or manifest, them I know.
In Ecclesiastes chapter 8 Solomon had made the profession that “16 When I applied mine heart to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done upon the earth: (for also there is that neither day nor night seeth sleep with his eyes:) 17 Then I beheld all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun: because though a man labour to seek it out, yet he shall not find it; yea further; though a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it.” There seems to be a conflict between this passage of Wisdom and that passage from Ecclesiastes chapter 8. However if this book of Wisdom was written after the repentance which Solomon demonstrates in Ecclesiastes, then there is no real conflict between the passages. But the passages do not really conflict anyway, once one realizes that in Ecclesiastes, Solomon is actually professing that a man cannot discover these things on his own, while here he is professing that knowledge of these things can be received from God.
Now he turns once again to credit Wisdom, continuing to employ an anthropomorphism:
22 [Greek 21b:] For wisdom, which is the worker of all things, taught me: [English 22:] for in her is an understanding spirit holy, one only, manifold, subtil, lively, clear, undefiled, plain, not subject to hurt, loving the thing that is good quick, [Greek 23:] which cannot be letted, ready to do good,
The word for understanding here is νοερός, which is not in extant writings before Plato. But just because the word is not found in extant writings does not mean that it did not exist. It may better be rendered as intellectual. The phrase “understanding spirit holy” would have been rendered better as “intellectual holy spirit”. Perhaps the translators, who never properly understood the Holy Spirit, could not understand how Solomon used it to describe an aspect of Wisdom. In Psalm 51 we see that David laid claim to having the holy spirit long before the time of Christ, where he pleaded in prayer “11 Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.”
The phrase “one only” is from the Greek word μονογενής, which is by some commentators interpreted as the Latin phrase sui generis or of its own kind, and that may well be the case here, as the translators seem to infer from Solomon. Elsewhere we have interpreted it in the New Testament according to a Hebrew idiom which is manifest in the Septuagint, as most-loved or best-beloved. The word for subtil, λεπτός, may be small or even better, delicate or refined. The word rendered as lively is εὐκίνητος, which is literally easily moved. The adjectives clear and plain seem to indicate how wisdom should be expressed. The phrase “which cannot be letted” is from ἀκώλυτος, which is literally unhindered, and finally “ready to do good” from εὐεργετικός, which is beneficient.
Continuing with Solomon’s list of adjectives describing Wisdom:
23 Kind to man, steadfast, sure [or certain], free from care, having all power, overseeing all things, and going through all understanding, pure, and most subtil, spirits.
We do not understand the last clause here or how it was translated, where it says “and going through all understanding, pure, and most subtil, spirits.” Therefore we would read it to say:
… and on account of all [καὶ διὰ πάντων] making way for [χωροῦν] intellectual spirits [πνευμάτων νοερῶν] spotless, most refined [καθαρῶν λεπτοτάτων].
We should recall that Wisdom was written as a poem, and therefore the verses are sometimes difficult to translate into prose while not adding any words that the text may not have implied.
Now Solomon approaches a conclusion:
24 For wisdom is more moving than any motion: she passeth and goeth through all things by reason of her pureness.
The second clause seems to say that Wisdom pervades and travels through all things on account of her purity. Solomon clarifies the meaning in the next verse where he says:
25 For she is the breath of the power of God, and a pure influence flowing from the glory of the Almighty: therefore can no defiled thing fall into her.
The word for breath here is not πνεῦμα, which is also spirit, but ἀτμίς, which is a vapor, and gives us our own word atmosphere. The word for influence is ἀπόρροια and should have been rendered as effluence, a flowing or emanation. The phrase “fall into”, from the word παρεμπίπτω, may have been rendered as creep in or steal in, as if surreptitiously.
Ostensibly, wisdom is in all things because God created all things, or at least, God created all of the things which He actually created, because here Solomon mentions defiled things which have no part with Wisdom nor any part with God. Many commentators claim that God is in all things in a completely material sense, that He pervades every single atom or molecule in the entire universe. Yet in his epistle to the Ephesians Paul of Tarsus said only that there is “6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all”, and he was speaking of particular people.
Another passage taken out of context in this regard is Colossians 1:15-18, where according to the King James Version Paul had written of Christ “15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.” That phrase “every creature” should be read “all the creation”, referring to the peculiar Adamic creation which Paul describes with the same langauge in Romans chapter 8. But here in Solomon, the creation is described even more narrowly, in Wisdom chapter 19, to include only the children of Israel.
Yahweh God created all things, but he did not create corruptions, and He cannot be blamed or be forced to take credit for the sins of men. So we see here that there are defiled things which His Wisdom does not pervade or flow into, and in Wisdom chapter 4 Solomon professed that “3… the multiplying brood of the ungodly shall not thrive, nor take deep rooting from bastard slips, nor lay any fast foundation.” Yahweh God did not create any bastard slips.
Where we see a word which may mean to creep in or to steal in, in this poassage of Wisdom the words of Jude in his one short epistle are evoked where he had said “4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.” These are the men against whom Solomon warns here in Wisdom.
Now speaking of Wisdom, he once again professes that she is from God:
26 For she is the brightness of the everlasting light, the unspotted mirror of the power [ἐνέργεια, operation] of God, and the image of his goodness.
So Solomon is representing this aspect of God, which is Wisdom, and portraying it as a woman not because he is attempting to create an idol, but because he can then use the anthropomorphism as a teaching device in his rhetoric. The same device was used in Proverbs, for example in chapter 9 where he wrote: “1 Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars: 2 She hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine; she hath also furnished her table. 3 She hath sent forth her maidens: she crieth upon the highest places of the city, 4 Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him, 5 Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled.” The Greeks later took Wisdom and made her into an idol, forgetting any intrinsic connection to God Himself and to His commandments, without which there is no wisdom. The Greek philosophers, pretending to be wise, made themselves fools.
Yahweh willing, we shall continue our commentary on Wisdom chapter 7 in our next presentation, The Beauty of Wisdom.