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On the Wisdom of Solomon, Part 28: The Emergent World
Throughout these late chapters of Wisdom, Solomon had described at length particular elements of the account of the Exodus and the punishments which had come upon Egypt, while contrasting those to the various trials and blessings which were experienced by the Israelites both during and after their own flight from Egypt. Making this comparison, Solomon asserted that Yahweh God had punished the Egyptians for their destruction. However in the process of doing so, He had sheltered Israel from those plagues, although in the preservation of Israel they were also often chastised for their correction. So in his analogy, and especially the manner in which he described the account of the serpents which had beset the children of Israel in the desert, or how they were once fed with the strange-tasting meat of quail-mothers, Solomon conveys the lesson that even when Israel is punished it is to effect their ultimate preservation.
Now, in this 18th chapter of Wisdom, Solomon remains focused on that first Passover upon which the Egyptians had suffered the death of their firstborn. So where he presented an account of this event as an analogy, which continues throughout this chapter, we see that the Egyptians had died of fear in darkness while in the dark of night the children of Israel were preserved in a great light. That light evidently represents the presence of Yahweh God over Egypt, as He both punished the Egyptians and preserved His people Israel. So where we had left off midway through the chapter in our last presentation in this commentary, we had also concluded 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.” As Solomon concludes this chapter, we shall indeed see that this was the emergent world, and that in this manner Egypt, representing the old world, also stands as a type, or model, for the future.
Solomon’s analogy of the contrasting fates of Egypt and Israel contains many smaller analogies, the latest of which we have already discussed near where we had left off, offering our own translation of verses 9 and 10 of this 18th chapter where it says: “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.” So the Israelites, having been preserved on account of the promises to their fathers, are depicted as singing the praises of their fathers for that reason. Yet the Egyptians, who were in essence being punished for the sins of their own fathers who had enslaved and then sought to destroy the Israelites, had instead lamented the loss of their children.
Then in verse 11, the last verse which we had discussed here, Solomon attests that this punishment came upon all Egyptians, regardless of their class or status: “11 The master and the servant were punished after one manner; and like as the king, so suffered the common person.” So now, as we commence with Wisdom chapter 18, Solomon continues with that same thought:
Wisdom 18:12 So they all together had innumerable dead with one kind of death; neither were the living sufficient to bury them: for in one moment the noblest offspring of them was destroyed.
The adverb ὁμοθυμαδόν, “all together” here, means with one accord, a compound of words which literally and most fully mean with one and the same breath. The noun ὄνομα is primarily a name, but here in the King James Version it is “kind”, although it may have better been rendered as expression, as it was also used in certain contexts in the Classical period. The adjective νεκρός is dead, but here we would interpret it as a Substantive, a noun, where it is a dead body or corpse. So for these and other reasons we would translate the first clause of this passage to read:
So they all with one accord [ὁμοθυμαδὸν δὲ πάντες], in one expression of death [ἐν ἑνὶ ὀνόματι θανάτου], had innumerable corpses [νεκροὺς εἶχον ἀναριθμήτους]….
It seems that the poetic language purposely alluded to the singing of dirges for the dead children and other images which Solomon had drawn in the earlier descriptions of these events, that the Egyptians had acted as one in both their persecution of Israel and, by dying together, in their response to the punishment which they had suffered for that persecution.
In the second clause, where we read “the noblest offspring of them was destroyed”, the word for offspring is γένεσις and it is primarily origin. Therefore in reference to people it may refer to the circumstances of their birth. The King James Version in the New Testament had translated it on occasion as birth, and on occasion as generation, which is not entirely correct, since, like the cognate word γενεά when it is used of people it refers to their race or descent. Yet in this context, offspring is acceptable as it is a noun and refers to the firstborn children of the race – whether or not they had already reached adulthood. While the King James translators did not necessarily mean to convey what modern English speakers may imagine where they translated γενεά, γένος and γένεσις as generation, here in this passage we can indeed see that they understood the significance of those terms. In their own time, a generation of people is something that is generated by a particular race of people. However since most people no longer use the word generation in that sense today, translating these words as race is frequently much more appropriate.
Here Solomon also described the firstborn sons of the Egyptians to have been the most valuable of the race, or offspring, where the Greek term is a comparitive form of ἔντιμος which is honored or prized. As we have explained from the apparent history of Egypt, upon suffering this loss the nation never again returned to its former glory. Now he continues this analogy and describes the event as a hard lesson learned by the surviving Egyptians:
13 For whereas they would not believe any thing by reason of the enchantments; upon the destruction of the firstborn, they acknowledged this people to be the sons of God.
We would translate the first clause more accurately to read: “For disbelieving everything on account of the enchantments…” The word for enchantments is a plural form of φαρμακεία, sorcery or witchcraft and the source of our modern word pharmacy, which is also something that is certainly no coincidence. The verb ὁμολογέω, translated as acknowledge here, is more accurately to agree, confess or concede.
More significantly, in the Greek of this passage the word for son is singluar, and not plural. So Solomon seems to be referring to the people collectively, as they are Israel, the name which was first given to their patriarch Jacob. So in like manner we read in Hosea chapter 11: “1 When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.” However that prophecy had a dual purpose, as the apostle Matthew had described the sojourn of Joseph and Mary to Egypt with the infant Christ, citing that very same passage in reference to Him and therefore it describes both Jacob collectively, and Christ Himself as a sign of His having fulfilled the Word of God.
The enchantments to which Solomon refers seem to have been those of their own magicians. However while the magicians of Egypt did apparently manage to turn their staffs into serpents, and even produce frogs, they could not match the feat of the bringing forth of of lice, and they themselves had been infected by the boils. So perhaps the people had nevertheless maintained a false hope in their magicians, in spite of where we read in Exodus chapter 8, after the magicians had failed to produce frogs and lice of their own, that “19 Then the magicians said unto Pharaoh, This is the finger of God: and Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said.”
Now continuing, Solomon describes the night of the death of the firstborn in another way:
14 For while all things were in quiet silence, and that night was in the midst of her swift course, 15 Thine Almighty word leaped down from heaven out of thy royal throne, as a fierce man of war into the midst of a land of destruction, 16 And brought thine unfeigned commandment as a sharp sword, and standing up filled all things with death; and it touched the heaven, but it stood upon the earth.
Despite its faults, in many places the King James Version did quite well in its translation of the poetic language of Wisdom. On the other hand, that also leads me to believe that some of its apparent errors were purposeful, especially where they concern the distinctions between good and wicked races and the warnings distinguishing sons and bastards.
Here Solomon has very poetically described the judgement of God as leaping out of heaven like a mighty warrior vanquishing his enemies in a battle-torn land. We see similar language in Deuteronomy chapter 32, in words attributed by Moses to Yahweh Himself: “39 See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand. 40 For I lift up my hand to heaven, and say, I live for ever. 41 If I whet my glittering sword, and mine hand take hold on judgment; I will render vengeance to mine enemies, and will reward them that hate me. 42 I will make mine arrows drunk with blood, and my sword shall devour flesh; and that with the blood of the slain and of the captives, from the beginning of revenges upon the enemy.” Then again later, in the 7th Psalm which is attributed to David, we read: “11 God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day. 12 If he turn not, he will whet his sword; he hath bent his bow, and made it ready. 13 He hath also prepared for him the instruments of death; he ordaineth his arrows against the persecutors.” Of course, these descriptions are allegories and Yahweh has never yet come to earth as a literal man or warrior.
So turning back to the response of the Egyptians, where Solomon had already explained that their own fears and consciences burdened with guilt had killed them, here he explains quite similarly that:
17 Then suddenly visions of horrible dreams troubled them sore, and terrors came upon them unlooked for.
This word translated as “unlooked for” is ἀδόκητος, which is literally not supposed or unimagined. So the last clause may have been read “and unimagined terrors fell upon them.” Solomon had described these same dreams in a somewhat different way in Wisdom chapter 17. There, using another adjective to describe something unexpected, although ἀπροσδόκητος is formed from the same root word, we read in verse 15, as we translated the text: “15 on one hand [they] were persecuted with the wonders of apparitions and on the other they were weakened to the forsaking of their lives. For a sudden and unexpected fear had poured over them.”
As we also saw in Wisdom chapter 17, where Solomon had described The Dark of Night and as we would translate verse 3: “For supposing for their hidden sins to be unnoticed, with a dim covering of oblivion being terribly astonished they were scattered and troubled by hallucinations.” Only at this point is it evident that the Egyptians did abandon hope in their enchantments, as Solomon also described in that chapter, and as we would translate verse 7: “But delusions of magic craft were neglected, and a contemptuous rebuke of the pretense for wisdom.” So their having given up on their enchantments was in itself a rebuke of their sorcery, as such things could never save them in the face of the vengeance of God. That too is a lesson which men may learn from today. Now he once again describes the aftermath of this final upon the Egyptians:
18 And one thrown here, and another there, half dead, shewed the cause of his death.
As Liddell & Scott explain, while the phrase ἄλλος ἀλλαχῇ simply means “another there”, it was used in that manner by the early 4th century soldier and historian Xenophon to mean “one here, another there”. Yet for the sake of clarity we would translate the entire verse to read:
18 And one having been thrown here, another there [καὶ ἄλλος ἀλλαχῇ ῥιφεὶς] half dead [ἡμίθνητος], revealed for what cause they had died [δι᾽ ἣν ἔθνῃσκον αἰτίαν ἐνεφάνιζεν].
Because the dead were strewn all over Egypt, and because they died for no other apparent reason, it should have been obvious that the cause of their deaths was as a punishment from God, something which the Egyptians themselves should not have been able to deny. Now Solomon attests that the dead themselves learned this before they died:
19 For the dreams that troubled them did foreshew this, lest they should perish, and not know why they were afflicted.
While the sense of the King James translation is acceptable, we offer our own translation in order to clarify the rather archaic language:
19 For the dreams which had been troubling them [οἱ γὰρ ὄνειροι θορυβήσαντες αὐτοὺς] had indicated this beforehand [τοῦτο προεμήνυσαν] in order that not being ignorant of [ἵνα μὴ ἀγνοοῦντες] what reason they suffered terribly [δι᾽ ὃ κακῶς πάσχουσιν] would they die [ἀπόλωνται].
We have just cited Wisdom 17:3 above, while discussing verse 17 of this chapter. There Solomon said “… supposing for their hidden sins to be unnoticed, with a dim covering of oblivion being terribly astonished they were scattered and troubled by hallucinations”. So now he asserts that the Egyptians were forced to contemplate their sins, which they had formerly supposed to be unnoticed, as they were beset with the torments that quickly led to their deaths. So in hindsight, after encountering this verse here, it is plausible that it certainly does seem to be what Solomon was suggesting by mentioning their supposedly hidden sins in that earlier passage.
Solomon now makes what may seem at first to be a digression, but as he proceeds it becomes evident that he is continuing a theme he began much earlier in Wisdom:
20 Yea, the tasting of death touched the righteous also, and there was a destruction of the multitude in the wilderness: but the wrath endured not long.
Because at a glance this verse seemed to depart further from the sense of the original than it actually had, we also chose to offer our own translation:
Then the trial of death had also touched the righteous [ἥψατο δὲ καὶ δικαίων πεῖρα θανάτου] and destruction in the wilderness came upon a multitude [καὶ θραῦσις ἐν ἐρήμῳ ἐγένετο πλήθους] but not for long did the wrath abide [ἀλλ᾽ οὐκ ἐπὶ πολὺ ἔμεινεν ἡ ὀργή].
Here it becomes apparent that Solomon has not yet departed from his comparison of the punishment of Egypt for their destruction, in contrast to the punishment which the children of Israel had later suffered in the wilderness when they were beset with fiery serpents, but which was for their ultimate correction and preservation. When he began this theme in Wisdom chapter 16 we had described it as a Tale of Two Torments, and the label is still appropriate.
However as we progress through the end of the chapter it may also become apparent that similar torments are still being suffered to this very day, by both the children of Israel and by those of their modern enemies. When the torments are completed, the emergent world shall finally become manifest, just as Solomon portrays here of the changes which the plagues of Egypt had brought to the ancient world.
But for now, here Solomon continues to speak of the account of the fiery serpents, where in reference to Moses we read:
21 For then the blameless man made haste, and stood forth to defend them; and bringing the shield of his proper ministry, even prayer, and the propitiation of incense, set himself against the wrath, and so brought the calamity to an end, declaring that he was thy servant.
As we have frequently noted, Solomon is addressing Yahweh directly, in the 2nd person, because this is still a continuation of the prayer which he had begun in Wisdom chapter 9, when he prayed for wisdom upon becoming king.
The word λειτουργία is ministry here, and while the word ministry today is usually used only in relation to particular religious functions, the Latin word minister was a common word which described a servant, attendant or helper. The word liturgy, which was derived from this word λειτουργία, is also generally reserved for religious functions today. But among the ancient Greeks a λειτουργία was simply a public service that was routinely performed by a common citizen, who may build a theater for the public entertainment or furnish a ship for the navy in order to fulfill his obligations to his people and the State, while in that same capacity poorer citizens would complete less expensive tasks or endeavors. The word for servant at the end of the verse, θεράπων, is also a servant, but describes a voluntary servant as opposed to a δοῦλος, which was a slave, or a μίσθιος, which was a hired or salaried servant.
Once again, as it was in his descriptions of the plagues upon Egypt, it is apparent that Solomon had access to a fuller account of at least some of the events of Scripture than what has been preserved to us today. Perhaps this he also had gotten from some now-lost books. While Solomon is being purposely poetic, as Wisdom was indeed constructed as a poem, in Scripture there is no mention of incense in the account of the event to which he refers here, which is found in Numbers chapter 21 where 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.”
Now Solomon sets forth Moses as an example of how men may withstand the wrath of God:
22 So he overcame the destroyer, not with strength of body, nor force of arms, but with a word subdued him that punished, alleging the oaths and covenants made with the fathers.
Here the destroyer is also portrayed in an anthropomorphism.
Some centuries later, when Asa became King Of Judah, we read “ 2 And Asa did that which was good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God.” Nevertheless, in spite of removing much of the pagan idolatry from the land, Asa was not without challenges. So further on in 2 Chronicles chapter 14 we read: “9 And there came out against them Zerah the Ethiopian with an host of a thousand thousand, and three hundred chariots; and came unto Mareshah. 10 Then Asa went out against him, and they set the battle in array in the valley of Zephathah at Mareshah. 11 And Asa cried unto the LORD his God, and said, LORD, it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, O LORD our God; for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude. O LORD, thou art our God; let not man prevail against thee. 12 So the LORD smote the Ethiopians before Asa, and before Judah; and the Ethiopians fled.”
So even Asa, who had strength of body and force of arms, did not rely on those things for victory, and overcame his enemies with a prayer. His soldiers still had to fight, but it was Asa’s humility and his having turned to God first which had assured him the victory, whereby Yahweh God should be accredited with the victory. While Moses had been victorious over the fiery serpents in that same manner, it was not without cost, as Solomon continues:
23 For when the dead were now fallen down by heaps one upon another, standing between, he stayed the wrath, and parted the way to the living.
In Numbers chapter 21 we are not told how many of the people had died from the bites of the serpents, but rather we read only that “much people of Israel died”, in the opening verse of the chapter. So while Solomon is apparently not exaggerating, as we said before, he seems to have had a more complete account of the events which he describes.
But notice in the prayer of Asa that he prayed to Yahweh for victory and said “… and in thy name we go against this multitude. O LORD, thou art our God; let not man prevail against thee.” So Asa did not necessarily pray on account of Israel, but rather he prayed that man did not prevail against the Word of God, saying “let not man prevail against thee.” There were other times when Moses was caught standing between God and the sinful children of Israel, for example in the aftermath of the incident of the golden calf at Mount Sinai.
So as the wrath of God was set on punishing Israel for their idolatry, Yahweh had evidently tested Moses also, as we read in Exodus chapter 32: “9 And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people: 10 Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.” Here Moses had an opportunity, that his own seed would inherit all of the promises made to Abraham, but he would have none of it, and instead he cared more for the Word of God, and more for his people.
So Moses once again pleaded on their behalf, where we continue and read: “11 And Moses besought the LORD his God, and said, LORD, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand? 12 Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people. 13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever.”
So with that it is apparent that Moses begged Yahweh to spare the people not for his own sake, as he was promised something much greater if they had been destroyed, and not merely for the sake of the people themselves, who were sinners worthy of being destroyed, as Solomon also expressed earlier here. But rather, Moses prayed that Yahweh would preserve them for God’s own sake, that He would not break the promises which He made to the fathers, and that He had not delivered them from Egypt in vain. Not that Yahweh needed this advice from Moses, but it shows that Moses put his God first, his people second, and his own interests last, in that manner showing himself as being approved when he was tested. In that manner he is an example to us all until this very day, and he will stand as an example throughout and even beyond history. Now, for that same reason, that Yahweh God shall indeed keep the promises to the patriarchs as He had made them, Solomon now begins a conclusion of the matter:
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.
Here is the emergent world: the children of Israel who had inherited the promises to Abraham, which included the promises that his seed would be innumerable and inherit the earth. So we read in Isaiah chapter 27: “6 He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root: Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit.” But of course that had not happened so soon as the time of the fiery serpents, as the world, the children of Israel, had not even yet emerged from the wilderness after the Exodus.
Some translations make innovations when rendering this verse, attempting to leave the impression that the garment of the high priest contained an illustration of the world, or as they often state, the universe, and also the four rows of stones which represent the twelve tribes of Israel. But they all create a lie in doing that. So, for example, we read in the translation of this passage in the New English Translation of the Septuagint, which in my opinion contains at least as many errors as the King James Version: “For on his full-length robe the whole world was depicted and the glories of the fathers were engraved on the four rows of stones…” Then in a footnote it is admitted that there is no word for “depicted” in the Greek text, but the damage is already done in the translation. Likewise, in the Contemporary English Version of the Bible we read “And his long robe symbolized the entire universe, while the four rows of precious stones on his breastpiece stood for our glorious ancestors…” Of course, neither is there any word for “symbolized” in the Greek text, so that version also leaves the reader with the wrong impression of the meaning of the verse.
So perhaps it is fitting to see what the so-called “long garment” did contain, so that we can better understand Solomon’s description here. From the instructions for the making of the priestly garments, in Exodus chapter 28, we read: “15 And thou shalt make the breastplate of judgment with cunning work; after the work of the ephod thou shalt make it; of gold, of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, and of fine twined linen, shalt thou make it. 16 Foursquare it shall be being doubled; a span shall be the length thereof, and a span shall be the breadth thereof. 17 And thou shalt set in it settings of stones, even four rows of stones: the first row shall be a sardius, a topaz, and a carbuncle: this shall be the first row. 18 And the second row shall be an emerald, a sapphire, and a diamond. 19 And the third row a ligure, an agate, and an amethyst. 20 And the fourth row a beryl, and an onyx, and a jasper: they shall be set in gold in their inclosings. 21 And the stones shall be with the names of the children of Israel, twelve, according to their names, like the engravings of a signet; every one with his name shall they be according to the twelve tribes. 22 And thou shalt make upon the breastplate chains at the ends of wreathen work of pure gold. 23 And thou shalt make upon the breastplate two rings of gold, and shalt put the two rings on the two ends of the breastplate. 24 And thou shalt put the two wreathen chains of gold in the two rings which are on the ends of the breastplate. 25 And the other two ends of the two wreathen chains thou shalt fasten in the two ouches, and put them on the shoulderpieces of the ephod before it. 26 And thou shalt make two rings of gold, and thou shalt put them upon the two ends of the breastplate in the border thereof, which is in the side of the ephod inward. 27 And two other rings of gold thou shalt make, and shalt put them on the two sides of the ephod underneath, toward the forepart thereof, over against the other coupling thereof, above the curious girdle of the ephod. 28 And they shall bind the breastplate by the rings thereof unto the rings of the ephod with a lace of blue, that it may be above the curious girdle of the ephod, and that the breastplate be not loosed from the ephod. 29 And Aaron shall bear the names of the children of Israel in the breastplate of judgment upon his heart, when he goeth in unto the holy place, for a memorial before the LORD continually. 30 And thou shalt put in the breastplate of judgment the Urim and the Thummim; and they shall be upon Aaron's heart, when he goeth in before the LORD: and Aaron shall bear the judgment of the children of Israel upon his heart before the LORD continually. 31 And thou shalt make the robe of the ephod all of blue. 32 And there shall be an hole in the top of it, in the midst thereof: it shall have a binding of woven work round about the hole of it, as it were the hole of an habergeon, that it be not rent. 33 And beneath upon the hem of it thou shalt make pomegranates of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, round about the hem thereof; and bells of gold between them round about: 34 A golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, upon the hem of the robe round about. 35 And it shall be upon Aaron to minister: and his sound shall be heard when he goeth in unto the holy place before the LORD, and when he cometh out, that he die not.”
That is the full extent of the long robe, and while its border was decorated with bells and pomegranates, the breastplate contained only the four rows of stones with stones for each of the tribes of Israel, and the Urim and Thummim by which the answers from the inquiries which the priest had made to God were received. Aside from these, all the other attachments on the robe were functional, not decorative. There was no separate depiction or any illustration symbolizing the universe, or the world. Rather, here in Wisdom Solomon is informing us that the four rows of stones themselves are the world. So we will translate the passage for ourselves, and for our purposes here we will do so as literally as possible:
24 For upon the garment reaching to the feet [ἐπὶ γὰρ ποδήρους ἐνδύματος] was the whole world [ἦν ὅλος ὁ κόσμος] and the glory of the fathers [καὶ πατέρων δόξαι] carved upon the four rows of stones [ἐπὶ τετραστίχου λίθων γλυφῆς] and Your majesty upon the diadem of his head [καὶ μεγαλωσύνη σου ἐπὶ διαδήματος κεφαλῆς αὐτοῦ].
In the two verses which follow in that same chapter which we had cited from Exodus we read: “ 36 And thou shalt make a plate of pure gold, and grave upon it, like the engravings of a signet, HOLINESS TO YAHWEH [THE LORD]. 37 And thou shalt put it on a blue lace, that it may be upon the mitre; upon the forefront of the mitre it shall be.”
So if Solomon says that the whole world was upon the long garment of the high priest, and in the description of the making of that garment, the only things which were placed upon it were the four rows of stones representing the twelve tribes of Israel, along with the Urim and Thummim representing the Word of God, then the only valid conclusion is this: In the eyes of Solomon, the children of Israel under the Word of God are the whole world, and there is nothing else.
But when the fiery serpents vexed the children of Israel in the desert, that world was only beginning to emerge from the captivity of Egypt, and it would still be some time before it was fully manifest. However in like manner, Paul of Tarsus accounted the children of Israel themselves to be the families of the earth blessed in Abraham’s seed, which is how he interpreted Genesis 18:18 and Genesis 22:18 in chapter 3 of his epistles to the Galatians where he said, from the Christogenea New Testament: “6 Just as ‘Abraham had trusted Yahweh, and it was accounted to him for righteousness’ 7 then you know that they from faith, they are sons of Abraham. 8 And the writing having foreseen that from faith Yahweh would deem the Nations righteous, announced to Abraham beforehand that ‘In you shall all the Nations be blessed.’ 9 So those from faith are blessed along with the believing Abraham.”
Then in Romans chapter 4, Paul clarified what he referred to as the “faith of Abraham” by explaining that the faith of Abraham was what Abraham had believed, and that Abraham had believed according to what Yahweh God had promised, while he also asserted that the children of Israel – whom he said were of the seed or offspring of Abraham – had already become many nations, and had already inherited the earth.
So we shall read from that chapter, in part, and also from the Christogenea New Testament, as it corrects several King James Version errors in this chapter: “1 Now what may we say that our forefather Abraham has found concerning the flesh?… 3 Indeed, what do the writings say? ‘That Abraham trusted Yahweh, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.’ … 13 Indeed, not through the law is the promise to Abraham or to his offspring, [as Paul also explained in Galatians, that the law came 450 years after the promises] that he is to be the heir of the Society [or world], but through righteousness of faith…. 16 Therefore from of the faith, that in accordance with favor, then the promise is to be certain to all of the offspring, not to that of the law only, [to the remnant of three tribes in Judaea who kept the law] but also to that of the faith of Abraham [all of his descendants, the remnant in Judaea and the majority of the twelve tribes scattered abroad], who is father of us all;” The promise is certain to all of the offspring, or seed of Abraham, because that is what Abraham believed, for which Paul continues and makes another explicit declaration of that same thing: “17 (just as it is written, “That a father of many nations I have made you,”) before Yahweh whom he trusted, who raises the dead to life, and calls things not existing as existing; 18 who contrary to expectation, in expectation believed, for which he would become a father of many nations according to the declaration, ‘Thus your offspring will be…’” Then, in spite of the fact that Abraham and Sarah were both quite old and beyond the expectation of having children, Paul said: “21 and having full satisfaction that what He has promised, He is also capable of doing; 22 for that reason also ‘it was accounted to him for righteousness.’”
Therefore, the faith of Abraham being the belief in the promises of God, the faith of Abraham being what Abraham had believed, nobody else may ever be included in the promises to Abraham outside of his offspring, his literal, genetic descendants through Jacob Israel, because that is precisely what God had promised and Abraham believed God. So Solomon justly described them as the world even before they emerged from the desert, because the promises concerning the world are ensured to them, as Paul had also said, because Yahweh God “calls things not existing as existing”, because He knows that they will come to exist in accordance with what He has promised. Furthermore, in keeping with Paul’s words in Romans chapter 4, where he spoke of the faith of Abraham he also must have had in mind what Abraham believed, where he said that on account of that, “In you shall all the Nations be blessed”, referring to Abraham, so there Yahweh also must have been calling “things not existing as existing”, and foreseeing that the seed of Abraham would inherit the earth, therefore those same nations are the nations that would be blessed.
Now, because the children of Israel are the world, everywhere where the Scriptures inform us that Christ had come to save the world, yet Christ Himself proclaimed that He came only for the lost sheep of the house of Israel, we can honestly reconcile those seemingly disparate statements, which are really not disparate at all because the children of Israel are the world which Christ had come to save. Furthermore, because they are the world, we read in the next verse, the final verse of this chapter:
25 Unto these the destroyer gave place, and was afraid of them: for it was enough that they only tasted of the wrath.
I would rather interpret the destroyer to have feared for the people, rather than to have been in fear of the people, so we would translate this verse to read:
Unto these did the destroyer yield [τούτοις εἶξεν ὁ ὀλεθρεύων] since it had feared for them [ταῦτα δὲ ἐφοβήθη], for the trial of wrath alone was sufficient [ἦν γὰρ μόνη ἡ πεῖρα τῆς ὀργῆς ἱκανή].
In this case, the destroyer is found in the bites of the fiery serpents, from which the children of Israel were healed if indeed they had looked upon the serpent which Yahweh had instructed Moses to raise in the wilderness. It was enough for the children of Israel to have experienced wrath, ostensibly for the chastisement and correction of those who would survive the trial.
But there are other lessons which may be learned from Solomon’s analogies here in Wisdom. In the Old Testament, Yahweh’s having delivered the children of Israel from Egypt was often described as an act of redemption. While there are several places where this is stated explicitly, here we shall read from Deuteronomy chapter 7: “8 But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.”
Yet since the children of Israel went into captivity once again, although they became a great nation and a company of nations in the process of their captivity, from that early time and until the present day they have also remained in various forms of captivity to world tyrants and rulers. In this regard we read, in a Messianic prophecy found in Isaiah chapter 52: “3 For thus saith the LORD, Ye have sold yourselves for nought; and ye shall be redeemed without money.” Throughout the last 26 chapters of Isaiah, the children of Israel are often referred to as the redeemed of Yahweh, looking forward to the coming of their Redeemer as Yahweh “calls things not existing as existing”, and therefore He said 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.”
Then again, in Isaiah chapter 44: “21 Remember these, O Jacob and Israel; for thou art my servant: I have formed thee; thou art my servant: O Israel, thou shalt not be forgotten of me. 22 I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee. 23 Sing, O ye heavens; for the LORD hath done it: shout, ye lower parts of the earth: break forth into singing, ye mountains, O forest, and every tree therein: for the LORD hath redeemed Jacob, and glorified himself in Israel. 24 Thus saith the LORD, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the LORD that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself…” So for this Christ had come, as Israel was, and would be, the emergent world, and in their emergence He would reconcile them to Himself, yet that would also be an ongoing process.
So speaking about something which would occur after the “times of the Gentiles be fulfilled”, as the passage reads in the King James Version of Luke 21:24, as Christ had further explained: “27 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” So the children of Israel await the completion of their redemption from captivity once again.
Even Paul of Tarsus recognized that while Christ is our Redeemer, this second act of redemption is not complete until His return. Thus he wrote in Ephesians chapter 4, telling his readers: “30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” The gifts of the Holy Spirit in the apostolic age were seen by Paul as an earnest, or deposit, assuring that coming redemption, which we read in Ephesians chapter 1: “14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” Therefore, while true Christians, those who are of the ancient children of Israel, are already purchased, and therefore redeemed even if the redemption is not yet completed, once again because Yahweh God “calls things not existing as existing”, that final act of redemption from captivity remains to be anticipated.
So we would assert that the first redemption of Israel is a type for the final redemption, and the delivering of Israel from Egypt is a type for the coming salvation of Israel. So just as that redemption from Egypt was culminated in the death of the firstborn, and then in the destruction of Pharaoh’s army in a flood, in the reconvergence of the parted halves of the Red Sea, it seems that similar events will occur once again as Israel is delivered from her current captivity, which is evident in prophesy in places such as Isaiah chapter 28 and Revelation chapter 12.
This is evident in Isaiah chapter 28, where it addressed the rulers of Judah, we read: “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. 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.”
Then, as the earth certainly helped the woman escape from Egypt– the woman being an allegory for Israel as the bride of Yahweh, we read again in Revelation chapter 12: “15 And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. 16 And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.”
We do not know precisely how all these things shall unfold, but we should know that they will unfold, and Israel will once again be delivered from captivity in like manner as she was delivered from Egypt. Notice also, that Israel was delivered from Egypt once they were enslaved, and their masters sought to destroy their children. The parallels with this modern world are striking, so we should know that our redemption is near.
Just as the rows of stones, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel, had represented the emergent world in the death of Egypt, now this is the emergent world that we should anticipate: the City of God and the Tree of Life which consist only of the twelve tribes of Israel as they are described in the closing chapters of the Revelation. The same twelve stones are found once again as the foundation stones of that city, although the interpretations of some of the names may vary because their original meanings are not all properly understood.
But as the fire which represented the presence of God had protected the children of Israel in Egypt, before this new world emerges, as we read in 2 Peter chapter 3, “7 … the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.” Those who have the Spirit of God shall withstand that fire, as it had protected the children of Israel in Egypt. But as the Egyptians were destroyed in the dark of night, in the conflagration which is to come all of the goat nations, the devil and his messengers, all of what we know as World Jewry, which is Satan, shall meet their end in the Lake of Fire. However this time there shall be no one left to sing dirges for their children, or to invent tales about a holocaust. On the other hand, the children of Israel will rejoice on account of their fathers, who clung to the Tree of Life and didn’t produce bastards, as Solomon had warned against in the earlier chapters of Wisdom.
This concludes our commentary on Wisdom chapter 18. When we return, we hope to conclude our commentary on the Wisdom of Solomon, as there is one last chapter.
Stones of the breastplate:
sardius, topaz, carbuncle, emerald, sapphire, diamond, ligure, agate, amethyst, beryl, onyx, jasper
Foundation stones of the City of God:
jasper, sapphire, chalcedony, emerald, sardonyx, sardius, chrysolite, beryl, topaz, chrysoprasus, jacinth, amethyst.
While these do not all correspond precisely some stones cannot be identified precisely by their original Greek or Hebrew names. For example, sardonyx is a type of onyx, the word translated from Hebrew as diamond is jasper in the Greek of the Septuagint, and ligure, which is leshem [לשם] in Hebrew, is said to have probably been jacinth. Therefore I am convinced that if we could resolve all of these names properly, the two lists would actually be the same, as my own precursory inspection of the names produces 8 of 12 matches, and 9 if we count leshem as jacinth.