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On the Wisdom of Solomon, Part 17: The Wisdom in History
As we have already explained, in Wisdom chapter 9 Solomon began to recount what is presented as the prayer for Wisdom which he had made upon his having become the king of Israel, the act of which is described in 1 Kings chapter 3. From that point, his prayer for wisdom consumes the balance of this book of Wisdom. As the prayer progresses, most of its content is a recollection of many of the wonders which were worked by Yahweh God on behalf of the children of Israel throughout their developing history. This results in a unique perspective on the significance of the founding events in the history of Israel, and all subsequent history to this very day began with and has been a product of those events. Solomon attributes the origin and outcome of those events to the wisdom of God, and in doing that he is implicitly proposing the fact that every event in the lives of men and nations has already been determined and is guided by the wisdom of God. The men themselves, or even the nations and their rulers, do not need to understand that wisdom in order to be directed by it, as Yahweh Himself has determined their course, and as events unfold they cannot help but to follow the way which He has already foreseen. They appear to make choices of their own volition, but He already knows the choices they will make. However if men seek to please God, they will seek His wisdom, which He has now offered to them through His Word, and Solomon also presents himself as an example of that here, while he had further implied that even the desire and ability to do that is a gift from God.
For now, as we commence with our commentary at the opening of Wisdom chapter 11, the Exodus is still the subject of discussion, Solomon continues to refer to Wisdom as a woman, although in the Greek in this passage the reference is not explicit, and immediately we see a reference to Moses:
Wisdom 11:1 She prospered their works in the hand of the holy prophet.
Wisdom prospered the works of the children of Israel in the hands of Moses. The verb εὐοδόω more precisely means to help on the way, or to help one who is on a journey, so it is literally appropriate in regard to the events of the Exodus.
While later in his prayer, in the final two chapters of Wisdom, Solomon returns to this point in the history of Israel to describe some of the events of the Exodus once again, and the giving of the law at Sinai, for now he passes by those events and refers to the wandering in the desert:
2 They went through the wilderness that was not inhabited, and pitched tents in places where there lay no way.
They pitched tents in places which were inaccessible, or perhaps more accurately, untrodden. After the Exodus from Egypt, the children of Israel had encamped in places which were not regularly traveled. In the King James Version, the same Hebrew word, midbar (Strong’s # 4057) is translated as both desert and wilderness. It is demonstrable in history and Scripture that the regions we know as Arabia were much more fertile in ancient times than they are now, so they were not really a desert as we may imagine a desert today. The Romans were not using sarcasm when they called the region Felix Arabia, which means blessed or happy Arabia, and they were not acting foolishly when they established ten of their own colonies, nine of them east of the Jordan, which are generally called the Decapolis. Apparently, some of those towns were well over 30 miles east of the river Jordan, in places which are described as desert or wilderness in the New Testament. So the words were used to describe land that was generally uninhabited, but not necessarily uninhabitable.
The giving of the law at Sinai began only slightly more than three months after the flight from Egypt, according to Exodus chapter 19: “1 And in the third month of the departure of the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt, on the same day, they came into the wilderness of Sina.” In Numbers chapter 9 we see that at the commencement of the second year after their flight from Egypt the children of Israel were still in the wilderness of Sinai, and Moses was commanded to celebrate a second Passover. We are not told what they had eaten for that Passover, but we can assume that it was a proper Passover so they must have still had flocks from which to eat. The commandment not to break the bones of the Passover sacrifice was repeated in that account. They began journeying shortly after that Passover, and the text of Numbers 9:22 suggests that their journey was for a considerable time, where we read “ 22 Or whether it were two days, or a month, or a year, that the cloud tarried upon the tabernacle, remaining thereon, the children of Israel abode in their tents, and journeyed not: but when it was taken up, they journeyed.” While we are not informed of what had become of their flocks, they must have been exhausted during that time, as it is described in Numbers chapter 11 that having been hungry they were fed with manna in the wilderness and they cried out for meat, so Yahweh provided them with quails.
Then in Numbers chapter 14, because the people rejected the land of Canaan upon the report of the spies, the forty years of wandering is forewarned: “33 And your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms, until your carcases be wasted in the wilderness. 34 After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise. ” Shortly after that warning they were attacked and beaten by certain of the Amalekites and Canaanites.
Then after the gainsaying of Korah, the subsequent battles with the Moabites, the event at Baalpeor, the slaughter of the Midianites and other things, we read in Numbers chapter 32: “13 And the LORD'S anger was kindled against Israel, and he made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation, that had done evil in the sight of the LORD, was consumed. 14 And, behold, ye are risen up in your fathers' stead, an increase of sinful men, to augment yet the fierce anger of the LORD toward Israel.” So evidently the forty years were already ongoing, as they began as the children of Israel had rejected the land of Canaan, and we read in chapter 33 a concise recounting of all of the places where the children of Israel encamped before finally coming to the Jordan River opposite Jericho.
In the midst of that account, in Numbers 33:38 we read “And Aaron the priest went up into mount Hor at the commandment of the LORD, and died there, in the fortieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt, in the first day of the fifth month.” Yet the event of the death of Aaron was recorded in Numbers chapter 20, so we see in chapter 33 a summary of the travels of the children of Israel during the entire period of the book, which up to this point covered a period of 40 years, and there were at least several more years left before the time of wandering would be completed as it began at least several years after the departure from Egypt. During this time, Solomon now recounts that:
3 They stood against their enemies, and were avenged of their adversaries.
The verb ἀμύνω is not necessarily avenged, but the primary meaning is that they kept off or warded off their enemies. As we have already mentioned, during that same forty years the children of Israel had withstood or even prevailed over many of their adversaries. Solomon continues describing things which happened as they wandered:
4 When they were thirsty, [καὶ, then, omitted] they called upon thee, and water was given them out of the flinty rock, and their thirst was quenched out of the hard stone.
There are two events in the Exodus accounts which fit this description. The first was at Horeb, which is recorded in Exodus chapter 17, and the second was at Kadesh, shortly after the death of Miriam and not long before the death of Aaron at Mount Hor in Edom. While Solomon does not mention the death of Aaron here, perhaps we should make a digression. Aaron was purposely taken up to Mount Hor, as Yahweh God had decided that it was time for him to pass from this world, and as it is described in the Book of Numbers, the mantle was passed to Eleazar his son, and he died.
Mount Hor is only about two-and-a-half miles west of Petra in what is called Jordan today. In the Amarna letters, it is evident that Petra was in Mount Seir, where Esau had settled among and intermingled with the Horites. Therefore the sons of Seir the Horite are listed in the genealogy of the children of Esau in Genesis chapter 36. The Horites, sometimes erroneously called Hivites in Scripture due to scribal confusion of the Hebrew letters vav and resh, were a branch of the Canaanites. All of these became the Idumaeans, or the Edomites of Scripture and history, who had taken over control of Judaea under the Romans and the Edomite king Herod in the centuries before the ministry of Christ. Perhaps the fact that Aaron, the first priest of Israel, died at Mount Hor in Edom is a type for the later fact that Christ, the last and true priest of Israel, had died at the hands of the Edomites. Then as Aaron voluntarily ascended Mount Hor as it was time for him to die, Christ also voluntarily surrendered to the Edomites as it was time for Him to die.
This is the wonder of the Word and Wisdom of God, that so many seemingly disparate events actually coincide with one another, symbolizing interlocking pieces of a puzzle which consistently portrays a much larger picture, although those events happened thousands of years apart from one another and were recorded by different hands. Once we can properly identify the actors who have played particular roles in that history, only then may we begin to learn the lessons which it has to offer, and only then can we actually begin to see the picture which is created by the many pieces of that puzzle.
Of course, Christ is also somewhat exemplary of what Solomon had written in the next passage, as His enemies shall be punished for what He suffered in order to benefit Israel:
5 For by what things their enemies were punished, by the same they in their need were benefited.
Perhaps the phrase “by the same” would better have been rendered “on account of those things”, “on account of those things they being in want were benefitted.” The passage seems obscure but the overall meaning is elucidated in the three verses which follow, and there we shall see that there is wisdom in a proper assessment of history.
So now there is another reference to the plagues of Egypt:
6 For instead of a perpetual running river troubled with foul blood,
By the Word of Yahweh the children of Israel were given water out of a rock, from a place where water was not expected. But by the same Word of Yahweh the Egyptians went to the river expecting water, and instead they found blood, so they remained thirsty. We read in Exodus chapter 7: “19 And the LORD spake unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and stretch out thine hand upon the waters of Egypt, upon their streams, upon their rivers, and upon their ponds, and upon all their pools of water, that they may become blood; and that there may be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood, and in vessels of stone. 20 And Moses and Aaron did so, as the LORD commanded; and he lifted up the rod, and smote the waters that were in the river, in the sight of Pharaoh, and in the sight of his servants; and all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood. 21 And the fish that was in the river died; and the river stank, and the Egyptians could not drink of the water of the river; and there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt. 22 And the magicians of Egypt did so with their enchantments: and Pharaoh's heart was hardened, neither did he hearken unto them; as the LORD had said. 23 And Pharaoh turned and went into his house, neither did he set his heart to this also. 24 And all the Egyptians digged round about the river for water to drink; for they could not drink of the water of the river. 25 And seven days were fulfilled, after that the LORD had smitten the river.”
Where Solomon had been speaking of this river of blood, we interrupted in mid-stream and he continues the thought so we shall present it along with a repetition of verse 6, as it is in the King James Version:
6 For instead of a perpetual running river troubled with foul blood, 7 For a manifest reproof of that commandment, whereby the infants were slain, thou gavest unto them abundance of water by a means which they hoped not for:
Punctuation in Greek is sometimes debatable, but the phrase εἰς ἔλεγχον νηπιοκτόνου, which we would translate as “for the disgrace of infanticide”, does not begin a new sentence. Rather, it explains why the plagues were coming upon Egypt, as the Egyptians had oppressed the children of Israel and had demanded that they expose their newborn males so that they would die. So Solomon perceived the plagues of Egypt not only as a device by which the Egyptians would set free the children of Israel, but also as a punishment for how they had treated the Israelites. Doing that, Solomon also informs us that it was for that reason that Yahweh kept hardening the heart of Pharaoh, so that he would remain obstinate and by that means He could inflict further punishments upon the Egyptians.
We would rather have moved the break between the verses and designate the termination of verse 6 and beginning of verse 7 after the word infanticide, whereby the meaning would be even more clear. But not moving the verse numbers, omitting any punctuation between them we would translate verses 6 and 7 to read:
6 Indeed, instead of a perpetual fountain of a troubled river defiled with blood 7 for the disgrace of infanticide, a command had been given for them for unexpected water in abundance,
Now verse 8 refers to that abundant water which was received when the children of Israel had thirsted in the wilderness:
8 Declaring by that thirst then how thou hadst punished their [literally the] adversaries.
So Solomon makes an analogy of these two events. When the Egyptians thirsted and sought water where they expected to find it, instead they found rivers of blood as they were being punished for their infanticide. But when the children of Israel thirsted and received water out of places where they could not have expected to find it, that served them as a testimony of the punishment of Egypt as they were blessed by the same God who had punished the Egyptians and delivered them from Egypt.
Now Solomon, having elucidated the wisdom in this history, explains the lesson which they should have learned from that experience:
9 For when they were tried albeit but in mercy chastised, they knew how the ungodly were judged in wrath and tormented
, thirsting in another manner than the just.
When they thirsted and received water, they should have understood that the water they received was representative of the mercy of God, contrary to the experience of the Egyptians.
Here the King James translators had evidently moved to the end of this verse a clause which does not appear in the Greek texts until the end of verse 14, and which they had translated as “thirsting in another manner than the just.” This is noted in the footnotes of Brenton’s Septuagint, even though he merely included the King James translation of Wisdom rather than translating Wisdom himself. To its credit, the New English Translation of the Septuagint leaves the clause at the end of verse 14, where it belongs. Therefore the words should be stricken from the text here and moved back to the end of that verse, as Solomon’s lesson from the history of these events continues, and now he refers to the diverse manners by which Yahweh God judges men:
10 For these thou didst admonish and try, as a father: but the other, as a severe king, thou didst condemn and punish.
Here the prejudice of God is revealed, that nations of men with similar origins may be treated differently in the judgments of this world, so that He may accomplish His purpose and His Kingdom may ultimately be established “on earth as it is in heaven”. The Egyptians were children of Adam just as the Israelites, although one group descended from Ham and another from Shem. Yet Yahweh God punished the Egyptians cruelly, and after that He offered them no encouragement. Seven hundred years later He would announce further punishment upon them, even relinquishing them to His enemies, as He had announced in Isaiah chapter 43, and that is the reason why Egypt is what it is today. Yet the Israelites, although they were also punished for their sins, Yahweh had instead chose to encourage as they were chastised, fostering them so that they would develop into a nation worthy of His Name, and ultimately inherit all of the Adamic nations. Just as the water came from an unexpected place, the fact that they accomplished His purposes in ways which are just as unexpected is also an aspect of the wisdom in history.
Solomon continues in reference to the Egyptians:
11 Whether they were absent or present, they were vexed alike.
We would translate the verse to read:
And both they being present and they being absent had been afflicted likewise.
Speaking in reference to the Egyptians, Solomon informs us that Yahweh had punished all of the Egyptians with the plagues that had befallen Egypt, regardless of whether they participated in the events leading up to the Exodus of the Israelites, and even if they were far away from them, as the Greek word ἄπειμι, which is translated as absent here, suggests. So here Solomon implies that the punishments of Egypt were even more broad than what is suggested in the account of the Exodus.
There were indeed other natural disasters which took place not long before the time of the Exodus and which facilitated peripheral but related events. Among them is the so-called Minoan eruption on the island of Thera, now called Santorini, which is considered to have been one of the largest volcanic eruptions known to man. It destroyed all life on the island, and along with resulting earthquakes and tsunamis, on the surrounding coasts and islands. Any Egyptians engaged in trade in these areas would also have been destroyed. As many Israelites later departed from Egypt by sea even before the Exodus, these places would have been open to settlement, and history then saw the emergence of the Mycenaean and Phoenician settlements in the Peloponnese and in the islands of the Aegean Sea.
Now Solomon describes the impressions which their punishments had upon the Egyptians:
12 For a double grief came upon them, and a groaning for the remembrance of things past.
Here he may be suggesting that the Egyptians had mourned because Egypt had fallen from its former glory upon its having been punished by God. But perhaps he is merely stating the fact that following the plagues and the events of the Exodus that the Egyptians had mourned for what had befallen them.
At that time in Egyptian history, however, it was common for the pharaohs to eradicate the memory of previous kings or past events that were not complimentary to their own rule over Egypt. So it is likely that for that reason, there is little or nothing in Egyptian archaeology which supports the account of the Exodus or the Hebrew presence in Egypt, where they were in captivity for most of the 200 years that they had sojourned there. We provided a precise chronology of the number of years in which the Israelites were in Egypt in our August, 2015 commentary on Galatians chapter 3 titled Heirs of the Covenant.
In any event, there are many ancient witnesses in the form of later ancient historians who had accepted the general historical narrative of the Exodus as it is found in Scripture, even if some of them had retold the story from a perspective which favors the Egyptians. We discussed this at length in our December, 2016 commentary on Hebrews chapter 11 titled The Faith of History.
In the next verse Solomon explains the nature of their double grief:
13 For when they heard by their own punishments the other to be benefited, they had some feeling of the Lord.
Or perhaps, they had some perception of the Lord, referring to Yahweh.
First, we read in Exodus chapter 14 where Yahweh had spoken to Moses and said: “16 But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea. 17 And I, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them: and I will get me honour upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen. 18 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gotten me honour upon Pharaoh, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen.”
Then, a little further on in the chapter, when the Egyptians perceived that the Israelites had passed through the sea safely but that they themselves would not, it is recorded that only then did they begin to acknowledge God: “24 And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the LORD looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians, 25 And took off their chariot wheels, that they drave them heavily: so that the Egyptians said, Let us flee from the face of Israel; for the LORD fighteth for them against the Egyptians.”
Now Solomon turns to talk of the Egyptian sentiments towards Moses:
14 For whom they respected with scorn, when he was long before thrown out at the casting forth of the infants, him in the end, when they saw what came to pass, they admired.
At this point in the Greek texts we have at the end of this verse the clause that the King James translators had wrongfully relocated to verse 9, which they had translated as “thirsting in another manner than the just.” Here we shall offer our own translation of the complete Greek verse:
14 For he whom had been cast out being exposed long ago [ὃν γὰρ ἐν ἐκθέσει πάλαι ῥιφέντα], they had renounced mocking [ἀπεῖπον χλευάζοντες], upon the completion of the going out [the Exodus, expressed in another manner] they marvelled [ἐπὶ τέλει τῶν ἐκβάσεων ἐθαύμασαν], not having thirsted in the same manner as the righteous [οὐχ ὅμοια δικαίοις διψήσαντες].
The people of the Egyptians must have understood the history of Moses to some degree, as he was raised in the house of a previous pharaoh after being adopted by his own daughter as she found him in the river, having been exposed for death as the Egyptians had demanded that the enslaved Hebrews do with their male infants. As we had explained in the aforementioned commentary on Hebrews chapter 11, Moses bore the family name of the Pharaoh, as it was very likely the princess Hatshepsut, the daughter of Thutmose I and later both a half-sister and a consort to Thutmose II, who drew him out of the water and gave him her family name as she adopted him as her own. After she died Thutmose III, her half-nephew and the son of another consort of Thutmose II, ruled Egypt for 54 years.
To the archaeologists and secular historians, not much is known of Amenemhat, the eldest son and designated successor of Thutmose III, except that he died before his father. In the plagues of Egypt all of the first-born sons were killed. So his half-brother, Amenhotep II, became pharaoh after the death of Thutmose III. The Egyptian records are not trustworthy in this period, there are contentions over the chronology, and that may be a reasonable expectation since the disgrace of the Exodus seems to have led to an eradication of much of the true history of the period.
The Israelites voiced exasperation and desperation when Yahweh commanded Moses to gather them at the rock at Kadesh from which He would provide for them water. Being on the verge of apostasy, the Israelites then sought Moses and Aaron to relieve them of their thirst out of desperation, and here Solomon contrasts them to the Egyptians who despised Moses yet came to admire him because of the punishments which they had suffered.
Now the Israelites had not been the subject of the discourse since verse 10, where Solomon had begun to speak of the Egyptians, but without notice, Solomon changes the subject back to the Israelites themselves:
15 But for the foolish devices of their wickedness, wherewith being deceived they worshipped serpents void of reason, and vile beasts, thou didst send a multitude of unreasonable beasts upon them for vengeance;
Where he wrote “thou didst send”, it is evident that Solomon is still addressing God directly, so of course this is still his prayer for wisdom, and that is evident throughout the rest of this book.
As it is described in Numbers chapter 20, with the children of Israel being desperate and on the verge of apostasy in Kadesh, they demanded water of Moses and Aaron. So we read “7 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 8 Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink. 9 And Moses took the rod from before the LORD, as he commanded him. 10 And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock? 11 And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also.”
In spite of their rebellious attitude, Yahweh nevertheless fostered them and chastised them to correct them, as Solomon has also described in this chapter, rather than treating them as He treated the Egyptians and disposing of them in the wilderness. However in spite of the miracle of the water from the rock at Kadesh, we read in Numbers chapter 21 where, after they were granted a victory over certain of the Canaanites, they rebelled once again: “4 And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way. 5 And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread.”
Because of the concise nature of the surviving accounts, we may not be fully informed as to why the children of Israel were punished with serpents in the very next verse of that chapter. Here Solomon tells us it was because they took to worshipping such beasts, so we read: “6 And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died. 7 Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people. 8 And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. 9 And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.” Later, in the Gospel, Christ had compared Himself to that serpent of brass and said: “14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” The people of Judaea had also been worshipping serpents before they had turned to Christ, in the form of the Edomite Jews who were ruling over them, whom Christ Himself had said were the offspring of serpents.
Today, in our own state of apostasy, we are once again ruled over by Edomite Jew serpents, and it is obvious that we have not learned from the wisdom in history, as Solomon now warns us from his observation of what had happened to them:
16 That they might know, that wherewithal a man sinneth, by the same also shall he be punished.
So the children of Israel were besieged by the serpents evidently because they had sinned with serpents. So it is today as well, as we have accepted all of the sins of the devil, and now devils rule over all of the formerly Christian nations. Yet Yahweh had mercy on them, as Solomon now explains:
17 For thy Almighty hand, that made the world of matter without form, wanted not means to send among them a multitude of bears or fierce lions, 18 Or unknown [literally newly-formed] wild beasts, full of rage, newly created [literally unknown beasts], breathing out either a fiery vapour, or filthy scents [literally roaring or raging] of scattered smoke, or shooting [literally flashing] horrible sparkles [literally sparks] out of their eyes:
Here Solomon imagines that the same almighty God who had made the world out of nothing could also by His Own Will create unforeseen horrible beasts from out of nothing by which He may have punished the children of Israel for their rebelliousness, and at the same time he implies that they deserved such a punishment. So he continues his description:
19 Whereof not only the harm might dispatch them at once, but also the terrible sight utterly destroy them.
We would translate this verse more literally to read:
19 Of which not only the damage [ὧν οὐ μόνον ἡ βλάβη] was able to destroy them together [ἠδύνατο συνεκτρῖψαι αὐτούς] but even [ἀλλὰ καὶ] by the frightening sight [ἡ ὄψις ἐκφοβήσασα] to perish [διολέσαι].
So Solomon professed that Yahweh has the ability to create anything which He desires by which to effect His Will, and is actually praising God by that profession, as it should cause men to humble themselves before Him once they realize that for themselves. So now he addresses God once again:
20 Yea, and without these might they have fallen down with one blast, being persecuted of vengeance [or punishment], and scattered abroad through the breath of thy power: but thou hast ordered [or arranged] all things in measure and number and weight [or balance].
Imagining what punishments the children of Israel may have suffered for their many sins as they wandered in the wilderness, now Solomon understands that not even beasts would have been necessary, illustrating the degree of control which Yahweh God has over his creation as a warning to men that they should seek to please God. Therefore he begins to present a conclusion of the matter:
21 For thou canst shew thy great strength at all times when thou wilt; and who may withstand the power of thine arm?
We have taken the time to translate every verse in preparation of this commentary, and more frequently than not, the differences are not worth publishing, so we omit them. Here is an example, where we would render this verse to read:
21 Indeed for You to be magnificently strong is possible at all times [τὸ γὰρ μεγάλως ἰσχύειν σοι πάρεστιν πάντοτε], and the power of Your arm who can resist [καὶ κράτει βραχίονός σου τίς ἀντιστήσεται]?
Solomon continues his warning, which is for future generations and based on the wisdom revealed in history. We must not forget that in the early chapters of this book, Solomon stated explicitly that he was presenting this wisdom for the benefit of the future kings of the children of Israel, hoping that they would learn by what he had to say:
22 For the whole world before thee is as a little grain of the balance, yea, as a drop of the morning dew that falleth down upon the earth.
In chapter 11 of his epistle to the Romans,speaking of the mercy of God towards the children of Israel, Paul of Tarsus cited from Isaiah chapter 40 but he stopped short of verse 15, and here we will read the citation a little further as Paul certainly must have thought that his readers should do: “13 Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD, or being his counsellor hath taught him? 14 With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and shewed to him the way of understanding? 15 Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing.”
Indeed, in the face of the majesty and power of God, the nations are as a drop in the bucket, or as Solomon wrote here, the whole world is as a little grain of the balance in the face of God. But Yahweh has a plan for His Creation and His plan shall come to fruition in spite of the obstinance or recklessness of men. So for that reason, after speaking of the ominous power of God, Solomon continues and says:
23 But thou hast mercy upon all; for thou canst do all things, and winkest at the sins of men, because they should amend.
The profession that Yahweh “winkest at the sins of men” is the likely inspiration for the words of Paul of Tarsus in Acts chapter 17 where he addressed the Athenians and said “30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent.” Here the message is nearly the same, although we would translate this verse to read:
23 But You have mercy for all [ἐλεεῖς δὲ πάντας], because You can do all things[ὅτι πάντα δύνασαι], and disregard the sins of men [καὶ παρορᾷς ἁμαρτήματα ἀνθρώπων] for repentance [εἰς μετάνοιαν].
Rather than merely for, in this case the preposition may have been rendered as towards, in regard to or in respect of repentance. But it may be apparent that if there is no repentance, the sins may not necessarily be disregarded. But aside from that, there are also other factors involving the will of God and His mercy .
Yahweh God had mercy upon Israel, but He did not have mercy upon the Egyptians, so therefore the Egyptians are evidently not reckoned where Solomon said “all” here. In fact, perhaps 350 years after Solomon, and 750 years after Moses, we read in the words of the prophet Isaiah, in chapter 43: “1 But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. 2 When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” We saw this same thing in the wandering in the wilderness, that with a few exceptions, the children of Israel were spared and granted mercy in spite of their many sins, as Solomon also explains it here.
But not all nations are treated in that manner, so we read in the very next verse of Isaiah: “3 For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. 4 Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life.” As Solomon will conclude in chapter 18 of Wisdom, to Yahweh God the world of the Scriptures was established in the children of Israel at Mount Sinai, so where he said “hast mercy upon all”, the context is that Yahweh God shall have mercy upon all of Israel. On their behalf, Egypt, Ethiopia and Sheba were all forsaken by Him. The nations are as a drop of a bucket, and some nations are discarded by God as a drop in the bucket, and that is another lesson which we must learn from the wisdom in history.
Now Solomon professes that Yahweh loves His creation:
24 For thou lovest all the things that are, and abhorrest nothing which thou hast made: for never wouldest thou have made any thing, if thou hadst hated it.
However men must be careful to consider what it is that God had made, and what it is that is the result of sin. To whom did Yahweh God surrender Egypt, Ethiopia and Sheba, if He gave them up for the benefit of the children of Israel? About 50 years before the time that Isaiah had written those words, those nations were overrun by Nubians, who were essentially sub-Saharan negros. Handing once White, Adamic nations over to such negros, those nations were never again the same, and Yahweh informs us that He was giving them up to His enemies.
So as Paul wrote concerning the chastisement of Israel, in Hebrews chapter 12: “7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.”
Likewise, here in Wisdom chapter 11 Solomon informed us that Yahweh God dealt with the ancient Israelites as a father would deal with sons. But he dealt with the Egyptians differently, and ultimately Egypt was cast aside for the benefit of His children, the children of Israel. Egypt being given up, ultimately the nation became a nation of bastards, and it cannot be said that Yahweh God loves bastards.
Now Solomon makes another profession, while continuing to address God directly in his prayer:
25 And how could any thing have endured, if it had not been thy will? or been preserved, if not called by thee?
So we see in Isaiah chapter 43, as well as in history, that not all nations did endure, because it was not His Will. But by the example of the experiences of Israel in the wilderness, the Wisdom of Solomon is urging us to learn from the wisdom in history. In Jeremiah chapter 13 we see the result of what had happened to Cush, the Adamic sons of Ham, where in the King James English the Word of Yahweh asks “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots?” This being a Hebrew parallelism, we realize that just as a leopard was white with black spots, the Ethiopian had become mixed with white and black, as Cush was overrun by Nubians as Isaiah had said Yahweh had given them up, a hundred or so years before Jeremiah’s time.
Yahweh God has promised repeatedly to preserve the children of Israel, as we have also seen in the opening verses of Isaiah chapter 43. Thus even in chastisement they shall be preserved, as they were preserved in the years of wandering in the wilderness. So we read, in Romans chapter 5: “3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope: 5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” Again, from the opening chapter of Paul’s second epistle to the Thessalonians, “4 So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure: 5 Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer.”
Then, just as Yahweh had done to the ancient Egyptians who oppressed Israel, He shall also do in the future to those who have oppressed Christian Israel, as we read in the verses which follow, where Paul continued and wrote: “ 6 Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; 7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: 9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; 10 When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.”
Yahweh God promised to spare Israel, and just as that is evident in this lesson from the Wisdom of Solomon, and as it was relevant to Paul, it should also be relevant to us, so we see in the conclusion of this chapter that Solomon addressed Yahweh once again and says:
26 But thou sparest all: for they are thine, O Lord, thou lover of souls.
As Paul had urged the Corinthians, in chapter 6 of his first epistle to them: “20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.” So we read again in Isaiah chapter 43: “1 But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.” So we also read here, “But thou sparest all: for they are thine”, and Solomon can only be referring to the same children of Israel. As we asserted when presenting some of the early chapters of the Wisdom of Solomon, not only does this book of Wisdom bring to light the meaning of many of the statements of the prophets, but also of the gospel, and it helps to serve as a bridge of understanding between the two, illuminating passages from one to the other. Having been treasured by the earliest Christians, we should treasure it today, as it also encourages us to learn from the wisdom in history, which is a wisdom which has been neglected by far too many generations of Christians.