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On the Wisdom of Solomon, Part 27: The Light of Day
Before we begin our commentary on this 18th chapter of the Wisdom of Solomon, I would like to make a few notes regarding its timeliness, since here Solomon continues to discuss the very first Passover. By my reckoning, the ancient Israelite calendar had to be fixed to the agricultural cycle of the land in which they lived, or it would not serve them. So the feast of first fruits, or the feast of weeks as it was called, being seven weeks after the Passover, had to come at the same time every year, or the first fruits would not be available at the proper time for the feast. Likewise, the feast of tabernacles had to correspond with the time of the harvest, or there would not have been food sufficient for such a holiday. In Exodus chapter 23 we see in a reference to the feast of tabernacles that it was also called “the feast of ingathering, which is in the end of the year, when thou hast gathered in thy labours out of the field.” There is another reference to Tabernacles as ingathering at Exodus 34:22, which also shows that it was a feast related to the harvest, and dependent upon the harvest.
So for this reason, that the calendar and the cycle of agriculture had to remain in consistent harmony with one another, the year itself must have started at the same time, on the same date, from one year to the next. The feasts were set to fixed dates in the year, so there was no waiting around for the fruits to ripen. Therefore while it is not mentioned in Scripture, that date must have been the day following the observation of the vernal equinox, which for us marks the first day of Spring. It has long been recognized by archaeologists that ancient stone circles and other stone monuments such as those at Stonehenge or Newgrange in Ireland were constructed with features marking the dates of equinoxes and solstices. The Vernal Equinox occurred on March 20th this year. Then, as the Scriptures command, the fourteenth day from that day would be April 3rd on our calendars, and therefore on this very evening, April 2nd, the Passover should begin, in spite of whatever calendar is kept by the Jews or the Roman Catholics or other denominations.
There is one caveat, however, which is that in some years of our calendar the Vernal Equinox occurs on March 19th, and some years not until March 21st, so the Passover date would move accordingly. However even among Identity Christians who agree with this in principle, there are differences based on the time of day at which the Equinox occurs, because the interpretations of “evening” in Scripture are subjective. At 11:00 PM on the 19th, for example, the Equinox is not visible although it nevertheless occursed so being visible at the dawn of the next day perhaps that should be reckoned as the day of the Equinox, and the year should begin as if it had occurred on the 20th. Even the time of the change of date on our calendar, or clock, which is arbitrarily set at midnight, is subjective. In any event, Passover this year can be reckoned as beginning this very evening, Friday April 2nd, although for my part, I would consider it to begin right around what we call midnight. The Israelites taking their lamb and slaughtering it in the evening, as we read in the account of the first Passover, and then being expected to roast and eat it that same evening, surely it would not be cooked and ready to eat until midnight.
This we read in Exodus chapter 12, concerning the Passover lamb: “6 And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening. 7 And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it. 8 And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.” In my opinion, the end of evening was the end of dusk, but the Israelites did not have any technical concept of a new day beginning at any precise minute, so the day began at dawn the next morning. For the sake of counting, the equinox would be reckoned for that new day if it had occurred in the night. But in any event, although the moment of Passover seems to be upon us according to the Old Testament scriptures, now Christ is our Passover, as Paul had written in 1 Corinthians chapter 5, and we are never without Him.
As we have discussed while presenting the latter chapters in this commentary on Wisdom, Solomon has been contrasting the various torments which had come upon the Egyptians for their destruction, to the various torments which the children of Israel had suffered in the events of the Exodus, but which were for their chastisement and correction, and for their ultimate preservation rather than their destruction. So throughout Wisdom chapter 17, we had discussed Solomon’s description of the night of the first Passover and the death of the Egyptians, which he had attributed to the various apparitions and hallucinations which were caused by their own delusions, and which in turn had resulted in causing them to die in fear on account of their own superstitions and the burdens of their own consciences.
Now in Wisdom chapter 18, Solomon contrasts the very different experience and fate of the Israelites during the time of that same event, although he continues to describe the fate of the Egyptians in comparison. Doing this, he uses the entire event as an example, making an analogy which compares the death of the Egyptians who had oppressed the righteous to the salvation of the righteous. This analogy actually evokes and even continues the theme which Solomon had presented in the opening chapters of Wisdom, where he described the wicked as oppressing the righteous in their desire to rule over them, and even wanting to kill them if they became an obstruction by their righteousness. So essentially, Solomon is also using this event from history, which is the Egyptian enslavement of the Hebrews who had formerly been their friends and guests, as an example which proves the thesis that he had described in the opening chapters of the work, notably in Wisdom chapter 2.
So while the Egyptians had suffered in the dark of night, at that same time the children of Israel had enjoyed the protection of the light of day. Therefore, in the opening verse of this 18th chapter of Wisdom, after Solomon had explained that because of their delusions the Egyptians were “unto themselves more grievous than the darkness”, further addressing God directly in his prayer he now proclaims that:
Wisdom 18:1 Nevertheless thy saints had a very great light, whose voice they hearing, and not seeing their shape, because they also had not suffered the same things, they counted them happy.
There are some technical difficulties with the translation of this verse in the King James Version, and we really should not offer a commentary until they are corrected, so we would translate it to read:
1 But upon Your saints [τοῖς δὲ ὁσίοις σου] there was a great light [μέγιστον ἦν φῶς] of things which [ὧν] the voice indeed hearing [φωνὴν μὲν ἀκούοντες] but the form not seeing [μορφὴν δὲ οὐχ ὁρῶντες] then because [ὅτι μὲν] they had not suffered those things [οὐ κἀκεῖνοι ἐπεπόνθεισαν] they were blessed [ἐμακάριζον].
Where the King James Version has “whose voice”, the relative pronoun is a plural genitive form which may be either masculine or neuter, but we must interpret it as being neuter as it refers back to the neuter singular noun for light, even though the pronoun is plural, referring to the things of the light.
In Wisdom chapter 17, Solomon had described the sounds which the Egyptians had heard in the dark of night, as “18… a whistling wind, or a melodious noise of birds among the spreading branches, or a pleasing fall of water running violently, 19 Or a terrible sound of stones cast down, or a running that could not be seen of skipping beasts, or a roaring voice of most savage wild beasts, or a rebounding echo from the hollow mountains…” So here it is evident that the pronoun refers to these things, which the Israelites in their houses had evidently also heard. But because they were in the light of day, rather than the dark of night, even though they did not see the source of the noises they did not suffer from them, so they were blessed.
The Egyptians being slaughtered, Solomon is suggesting that the great light served to protect the Israelites. Likewise in Wisdom chapter 2 we read: “18 For if the just man be the son of God, he will help him, and deliver him from the hand of his enemies.”
Now, referring to the aftermath of the event:
2 But for that they did not hurt them now, of whom they had been wronged before, they thanked them, and besought them pardon for that they had been enemies.
While the sense of this translation is acceptable, we prefer to translate the verse more accurately:
2 But because they did not injure those having first done wrong [ὅτι δ᾽ οὐ βλάπτουσιν προηδικημένοι] they were thankful and [ηὐχαρίστουν καὶ] for their differences [τοῦ διενεχθῆναι] they begged kindness [χάριν ἐδέοντο].
In this translation we have taken a slight liberty, to clarify the meaning of the phrase τοῦ διενεχθῆναι, for which we may write for that having differed or perhaps for of which differing. The verb is an aorist tense infinitive, and with the article it is an articular infinitive, which has the function of both noun and verb forms. So in our translation we interpret it as a Substantive, a noun, and add a pronoun which is not in the text for the purpose of clarification, as the differences begging the favor belong to the Egyptians. It is the Egyptians who had first done the Hebrews wrong, by enslaving them and attempting to force them to expose their newborn sons.
Here Solomon seems to be alluding to the circumstance that the Egyptians were at this point quite vulnerable, and therefore the Israelites may have taken the opportunity to cause them much greater harm. So he is describing the Egyptians as having been thankful for that and begging kindness from Israel in spite of having abused them in the past. Perhaps it is that thankfulness by which the Egyptians accommodated the Israelites who then borrowed all of their valuables, by which they had allowed themselves to be plundered.
The veracity of this interpretation by Solomon is evident in the account of the initial Egyptian reaction to the killing of the firstborn as it is recorded in Exodus chapter 12, where we read: “33 And the Egyptians were urgent upon the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste; for they said, We be all dead men. 34 And the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneadingtroughs being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders. 35 And the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses; and they borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: 36 And the LORD gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent unto them such things as they required. And they spoiled the Egyptians.”
Now Solomon reveals the source of that great light which the Israelites had enjoyed while the Egyptians were trembling in the darkness:
3 Instead whereof thou gavest them a burning pillar of fire, both to be a guide of the unknown journey, and an harmless sun to entertain them honourably.
The adverb ἀβλαβής, harmless here, is defined by Liddell & Scott to mean without harm, unharmed, unhurt, secure, or in an active sense not harming, harmless, innocent, and then averting or preventing harm. It is that last sense in which we would prefer to interpret it here, although we shall write harmless as it better fits the grammar of the passage. The word for entertain, ξενιτεία, translated as a verb in the King James Version, is actually a noun defined as a living abroad, of someone who would therefore be a ξένος a stranger or guest, in a foreign land. The root word ξενία refers to the rights of a guest, hospitality or a friendly reception. We shall translate ξενιτεία here as hospice, as the word hospice originally described a lodging for travellers. The form of φιλότιμος, honourably here, is an adjective, and not an adverb, and it means loving honour, covetous of honour, ambitious, emulous, but also munificent or generous, among other possibilities. We are persuaded that generous is the proper interpretation in the context here. Therefore we would translate this verse to read:
3 Instead of which [ἀνθ᾽ ὧν] a flaming pillar [πυριφλεγ ῆστῦλον] both to be a guide for the unknown journey [ὁδηγὸν μὲν ἀγνώστου ὁδοιπορίας] and a harmless sun [ἥλιον δὲ ἀβλαβῆ] of lavish [or generous] hospice [φιλοτίμου ξενιτείας] You had provided [παρέσχες].
Solomon is describing the pillar of fire which accompanied the Israelites in the Exodus as a guide for their journey, and as a shelter preventing them from harm while at the same time providing them with comfort. Furthermore, here Solomon explains that the pillar of fire had first appeared during the night of the first Passover, as a light which also comforted the children of Israel during the of the suffering of the Egyptians, rather than the moment when they first departed from Egypt as the Exodus account implies in the closing verses of its 13th chapter.
There we read, in the account of the departure of the Israelites from Egypt: “21 And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: 22 He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.” However that description in Exodus chapter 13 does not preclude the possibility that the pillar of fire may have also been present the evening before, which is when the Passover is described as having occurred. As we have said before, both Solomon, as well as Paul of Tarsus, evidently had access to descriptions of the Exodus beyond what we have in our current Bibles.
Now, referring once again to the Egyptians:
4 For they were worthy to be deprived of light and imprisoned in darkness, who had kept thy sons shut up, by whom the uncorrupt light of the law was to be given unto the world.
There is a form of the verb μέλλω in the text which is not represented in the King James translation. It means to think of doing, intend to do, to be about to do. So without translating the entire verse anew, we would at least insert the word about and write the end of the verse to read: “… by whom the uncorrupt light of the law was about to be given unto the world.”
So the Egyptians, for reason of their blindness to truth and for their idolatry and their sin, were worthy of being deprived of light. Yet by the children of Israel did the light of the law come into the world. However as we discuss the end of this chapter, in verse 24, we shall see that Solomon defines world somewhat differently than we may expect, where he says: “24 For in the long garment was the whole world, and in the four rows of the stones was the glory of the fathers graven, and thy Majesty upon the diadem of his head.” Making that statement, Solomon professes that from the call of Abraham, the children of Israel alone are the world, exclusive of all other nations and peoples. The fulfillment of that statement is found in the books of the prophets and in the Revelation of Yahshua Christ, that it is the intention of God to make it so, and therefore the children of Israel are the world.
Speaking of the light of the law, in the 36th Psalm we read: “9 For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light.” Light is an allegory for the truth of God, as well as being a symbol for His presence in the world. It is not a coincidence, that shortly after the time of the Exodus when Moses had recorded the account of Creation, the first words which Yahweh is portrayed as having uttered are “Let there be light”, in the first day of creation described in Genesis 1:3. Yet the physical sources of light which man may perceive, the sun, moon and stars, were not created until the fourth day of creation, which is described in Genesis 1:14-19. So ostensibly, that first light, which man never saw, was an announcement of the physical presence of God in the world, that first manifested itself as this fire which is recorded in the accounts of the Exodus, and then as Yahshua Christ Himself, the Light come into the world. Only in His light may men truly see, and even those who can see in this world may actually be blind, for example as we read in John chapter 9: “39 And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.”
So the light of which Solomon has spoken of here is not a reference to the sun, as these events had occurred during the dark of night. Nor is it a mere reference to the pillar of fire, even if the pillar of fire is representative of the light. Rather, the light is Yahweh God Himself, or at least, an angel, which is not necessarily a person, but a physical representation of the invisible God. For that reason, the burning in the bush was described as an angel, in Exodus chapter 3, and the pillar of fire was also described as an angel, in Exodus chapter 14.
First, for example, in Exodus chapter 3 we read: “2 And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. 3 And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.” As a digression, notice that the fire did not burn the bush. As Solomon had described earlier, in Wisdom chapter 16, the natural elements do not harm whom Yahweh does not want to harm, and they do harm those whom He intends to harm. Continuing with the account: “4 And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.” In this account, the angel is not a person, but a natural phenomenon which was used as a medium by which the invisible God made His presence known to a man, Moses. For that reason alone it was called an angel. But when Moses turned to investigate the fire in the bush, the voice which he heard was also manifested by God, and the voice attested that it was God, and not some other being representing God. So it said “I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”
Likewise, in Exodus chapter 14 we read: “19 And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them.” But in Exodus chapter 13 we had read that “21 And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night.” One verse does not contradict another. Rather, the pillar of fire, which by itself would not be a conscious entity, was a symbol representing the presence of Yahweh God, as He is invisible and used the pillar of fire as a medium, or angel representing His presence. So Yahweh was the Light of Day which sheltered the Israelites in the dark of night, and during the Exodus and the long period of wandering in the desert. Therefore, while sometimes angels are men, and apparently even supernatural men, angels are not always men. The word for angel, either in Hebrew or in Greek, only means messenger, and it is not always men who are chosen to deliver a message from God, especially where in cases such as the Exodus, He chose to deliver His messages directly.
But Yahshua Christ is a man, and He is Yahweh God incarnate, and the apostle John in his gospel had informed us that He is the true light come into the world. Of course, at that time the sun, moon and stars were already illuminating the world. But they are not the true light, which is ostensibly that first Light which Yahweh had created, but which was never otherwise identified by man, because only God could make it manifest, and He did in Christ. Therefore, in John chapter 1 we see his record concerning John the Baptist where he wrote: “7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.”
So later on we read, in John chapter 12, immediately after He had made a prescient reference to His impending crucifixion: “35 Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. 36 While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them.” Then a little further on He proclaimed: “46 I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.” This is the true light of day, which brings light even in the dark of night, and all those who are not in Christ are not worthy of light. Therefore Solomon turns once again to the Egyptians, explaining why they were “worthy to be deprived of light and imprisoned in darkness”:
5 And when they had determined to slay the babes of the saints, one child being cast forth, and saved, to reprove them, thou tookest away the multitude of their children, and destroyedst them altogether in a mighty water.
Throughout Wisdom, Solomon has exhibited the fact that Yahweh God often punishes men with their own delusions, and this analogy is yet another example of that phenomenon. The Egyptians had devised to eliminate the multiplying Hebrews by whom they had felt threatened by forcing them to expose their males to die in the river. So one such exposed child, Moses, was saved from the mighty water by an Egyptian and even raised as a prince of Egypt, for the intent that he would ultimately be used by God as a vehicle for the destruction of Egypt. So in that manner the life of Moses was in itself a rebuke to the Egyptians, that they themselves would be destroyed as a result of their own plans, and essentially they would do it to themselves.
6 Of that night were our fathers certified afore, that assuredly knowing unto what oaths they had given credence, they might afterwards be of good cheer.
Some of the language here is quite archaic, so we would translate this verse to read:
6 That night [ἐκείνη ἡ νὺξ] was made known beforehand [προεγνώσθη] to our fathers [πατράσιν ἡμῶν] in order that knowing with certainty [ἵνα ἀσφαλῶς εἰδότες], having faith in the oaths [οἷς ἐπίστευσαν ὅρκοις] they would rejoice [ἐπευθυμήσωσιν].
A promise, or statement of intent to do something beforehand, could indeed be described as an oath. This event wherein the children of Israel knew beforehand of the deaths of the firstborn of Egypt transpired over a period of several days, at least five or six, and possibly even a little longer than that. So we read in Exodus chapter 11 a passage which also elucidates one way in which Moses had become a reproach to the Egyptians, by becoming as famous to them as were their own rulers: “3 And the LORD gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians. Moreover the man Moses was very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh's servants, and in the sight of the people. 4 And Moses said, Thus saith the LORD, About midnight will I go out into the midst of Egypt: 5 And all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sitteth upon his throne, even unto the firstborn of the maidservant that is behind the mill; and all the firstborn of beasts. 6 And there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there was none like it, nor shall be like it any more. 7 But against any of the children of Israel shall not a dog move his tongue, against man or beast: that ye may know how that the LORD doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel. 8 And all these thy servants shall come down unto me, and bow down themselves unto me, saying, Get thee out, and all the people that follow thee: and after that I will go out. And he went out from Pharaoh in a great anger.”
Then, in Exodus chapter 12, we see that the Egyptians had been warned of this even before the children of Israel themselves had learned it, where we read: “1 And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, 2 This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you. 3 Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house: 4 And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbour next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb. 5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats:” So we see that the Israelites, as the Egyptians had also been warned, were given these instructions of what to do on the first Passover some time before the tenth day of the month, and therefore at least six or more days before the fourteenth day of the month.
So continuing from that same place we read: “6 And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening. 7 And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it. 8 And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. 9 Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof. 10 And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire. 11 And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the LORD'S passover. 12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD. 13 And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt. 14 And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever.”
So with their keeping of these instructions for the Passover over a week after they had received them indicates that they did celebrate in the certainty that all of those things of which they were forewarned would indeed come to pass. Therefore Solomon says:
7 So of thy people was accepted both the salvation of the righteous, and destruction of the enemies.
They knew over a week ahead of time that they would be preserved, while at the same time the firstborn of their enemies would be destroyed, and their having followed the instructions was by itself a sign of acceptance, and actually a favorable acceptance, of what they anticipated to happen. The Greek verb for accepted here is a form of the verb προσδέχομαι, and while δέχομαι by itself is to receive or accept, προσδέχομαι is to receive or accept favourably, to be in favorable expectation of something, which seems to indicate that the Israelites were eager to see the oaths fulfilled. A promise can be described as an oath, and actually it is an oath.
So Solomon continues his interpretation of the significance of the event:
8 For wherewith thou didst punish our adversaries, by the same thou didst glorify us, whom thou hadst called.
When we discussed Wisdom chapter 16, we commented on how the events of the Exodus and the things which Yahweh did for the children of Israel had indeed been heard by the peoples of the surrounding nations, which certainly would glorify the children of Israel in the eyes of their enemies. So even after the death of Moses, this is apparent in the words of Rahab, the inn-keeper of Jericho, where she said, as it is recorded in Joshua chapter 2: “9… I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. 10 For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt…” Now Solomon continues in reference to Israel:
9 For the righteous children of good men did sacrifice secretly, and with one consent made a holy law, that the saints should be like partakers of the same good and evil, the fathers now singing out the songs of praise.
While the sense of this translation is nearly acceptable, it was not the fathers singing praises, but the praises were sung of the fathers, the word for father appearing in the genitive case plural, so that is a serious error. The word for made is διατίθημι, which is used in a wide range of contexts, one of them being to act upon a thing. The children of Israel certainly did not make the divine decrees, but rather, they only acted upon the commandments of Yahweh brought to them by Moses. So for that and other reasons we would translate this verse to read:
9 For secretly [κρυφῇ γὰρ] sacrificed [ἐθυσίαζον] the righteous children [ὅσιοι παῖδες] of good men [ἀγαθῶν] and in harmony acted upon the divine law [καὶ τὸν τῆς θειότητος νόμον ἐν ὁμονοίᾳ διέθεντο] for the saints to partake equally of the same things both of good and of danger [τῶν αὐτῶν ὁμοίως καὶ ἀγαθῶν καὶ κινδύνων μεταλήμψεσθαι τοὺς ἁγίους] while already singing the praises of the fathers [πατέρων ἤδη προαναμέλποντες αἴνους].
The secret sacrifice was made in the preparation of the Passover lambs. The children of Israel must have been keepers of their own flocks and therefore had access to a sufficient number of lambs, because the Egyptians themselves apparently despised the trade of shepherd, as it is stated in Genesis chapter 46, in words attributed to Joseph, that “every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians.”
Then, by saying good men here, Solomon refers to the fathers which he mentions at the end of the verse, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Doing so he depicts the children of Israel as having been granted liberty from captivity and favored by God on their behalf, and therefore they are pictured in turn as singing the praises of the fathers since they must have known that they were favored over the Egyptians on their account. By undertaking in harmony to follow the commandments concerning the Passover, the children of Israel had committed themselves to whatever the result would be, to either the good things or the dangerous things which would lie ahead.
Now Solomon turns his attention once again to the Egyptians, still describing the same Passover night:
10 But on the other side there sounded an ill according cry of the enemies, and a lamentable noise was carried abroad for children that were bewailed.
Where the King James Version has on the other side there sounded, the word ἀντήχει may have been better translated in response there sounded. The ill according cry of the enemies is an ἀσύμφωνος or discordant cry, in contrast to the children of Israel who had acted in ὁμόνοια or harmony and sang the praises of their fathers. According to Liddell & Scott, in the Medium voice, as it is here, the verb θρηνέω was used in the active sense, to bewail, perhaps for oneself, rather than to be bewailed, as the King James Version has it here. We would translate the verse to read:
10 But in response there sounded [ἀντήχει δ᾽] the discordant cry of the enemies [ἀσύμφωνος ἐχθρῶν ἡ βοή] and it carried a pitiable sound [καὶ οἰκτρὰ διεφέρετο φωνὴ] of the bewailing for children [θρηνουμένων παίδων].
While the sense of the verb θρηνέω was carried over for this translation from the King James Version, the final clause may have been literally translated “of the lamenting for children”. But the verb θρηνέω may also describe the singing of dirges, or funeral lamentations, and in that sense a wordplay seems to have been made, and even more appropriately for Wisdom, where the clause may have been translated as “of the singing of dirges for children”, as opposed to the children of Israel who had sang the praises of their fathers.
In that case, and changing the word order slightly to better accomodate our English vernacular, if we were making a full translation of Wisdom then we would translate both verses 9 and 10 together to read:
9 For secretly the righteous children of good men sacrificed, and in harmony acted upon the divine law for the saints to partake equally of the same things both of good and of danger while already singing the praises of the fathers. 10 But in response there sounded the discordant cry of the enemies and it carried a pitiable sound of the singing of dirges for the children.
Continuing Solomon’s description of that fateful night:
11 The master and the servant were punished after one manner; and like as the king, so suffered the common person.
The loss of the king must have been the loss of his own firstborn son, which supports our assertion that the pharaoh of the Exodus was Thutmose III, whose loss of his oldest son is recorded in the tombs of the ancient Egyptian kings, but the reason for his death was apparently not recorded.
As we saw when Solomon began this description of the first Passover, language in verse 2 of Wisdom chapter 17 where it says “For when unrighteous men thought to oppress the holy nation” seems to indicate that these men merely supported the proposal of that “new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph” who had proposed the oppression, as it is described in the 1st chapter of Exodus. So for that they deserved this punishment.
However it is also often evident in Scripture, that even the good men of a nation suffer punishment on account of the wicked. This we see in Ezekiel chapter 21, where punishment is pronounced upon Judah and the Word of Yahweh says: “2 Son of man, set thy face toward Jerusalem, and drop thy word toward the holy places, and prophesy against the land of Israel, 3 And say to the land of Israel, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I am against thee, and will draw forth my sword out of his sheath, and will cut off from thee the righteous and the wicked. 4 Seeing then that I will cut off from thee the righteous and the wicked, therefore shall my sword go forth out of his sheath against all flesh from the south to the north:”
So while it is not plausible that every Egyptian was evil, or that every firstborn child did anything worthy of death, ostensibly it is immaterial if Yahweh so chooses to destroy a nation for its collective wickedness, or for the benefit of those whom He had chosen. As we had explained earlier, it is a clear matter of the historical record, that once The Dark of Night had stricken the Egyptians, the nation never again recovered its former glory, but instead had entered a long period of stagnation and decline. At that same time, the Israelites having enjoyed the Light of Day went on to become a great kingdom. And now, even in their subsequent punishment they became a great nation and a company of nations, so once again we see that they were chastised for their correction, whether they themselves are aware of it or not. But ever since that first Passover, the Light of Day has been with them, and those who can see it and understand must know that the first Passover remains a type for things which are still to come.
As we have alread cited Paul of Tarsus, where he declared that Christ is our Passover, in a Messianic prophecy in Isaiah chapter 28 we read an unfulfilled prophecy of Christ where, speaking to the children of Israel, it says: “15 Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves: 16 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.” So the prophecy is in relation to Christ, and it continues: “17 Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place. 18 And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it. 19 From the time that it goeth forth it shall take you: for morning by morning shall it pass over, by day and by night: and it shall be a vexation only to understand the report.” So this is the coming Passover which all Christians should await. Then we all shall truly see the Light of Day.
Yahweh willing, we shall continue with Wisdom chapter 18 and Solomon’s description of the first Passover and the punishment of Egypt in the weeks to come. Next Friday, we are on the road for the weekend, and we will hear from Dr. Michael Hill.