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On the Wisdom of Solomon, Part 3: The Remedy for Sin and Death
In the first two presentations of this commentary on the Wisdom of Solomon we hope to have refuted many of the criticisms of the work, which set out to prove by its language and vocabulary that it was not written until the first century before Christ, or according to some claims, even later. Those same critics usually repeat the unfounded claim that it must have been written by some Alexandrian Jew. However as we discuss the actual content of the work, we hope to make it evident that such claims are also false.
One avenue of investigation in our answering the critics of Wisdom was left open where earlier we had described a source which claimed that fragments of the Wisdom of Solomon were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. In an article found at an internet ministry this claim was made and a book was cited, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction by one Gleason Archer, which was first published in 1974. We ordered a used copy of that book, which we expected to be the same 1985 edition of the work as was quoted by the article in question, but it was not. Instead we received a “revised and expanded” 1994 printing. This newer printing does not mention the Wisdom of Solomon, and we surmise that the article was citing an appendix to the book, because the pagination is different, which is a catalog of books found in the Dead Sea Scrolls. We may further pursue this, but Wisdom is not listed in the 1994 version of the catalog.
Now we may have already begun to prove from the contents of the book itself that Wisdom is an authentic work, where at the end of our first presentation in this commentary we discussed the opening verse of Wisdom. There we saw the expression of a clearly Christian concept from the 82nd Psalm which was cited by Yahshua Christ, as it is recorded in the gospel of John, and echoed by Paul of Tarsus in his first epistle to the Corinthians. This Book of Wisdom is addressed to “ye that be judges of the earth”, and it is revealed in Christ that they are the saints among the children of Israel having come to the Gospel of Christ. Christ informs us when He cites that passage from the Old Testament that it referred to the children of Israel to whom the law was delivered, where He said “35 If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken…” So by that we see how the 82nd Psalm should be interpreted, and that is also the context of the Psalm itself.
It is evident in John chapter 10 that the Jews who stood opposed to Christ did not understand this, and that they were actually offended by it. There is some evidence that in later Jewish literature the 82nd Psalm was understood to refer to judges, among several other interpretations extent in early Talmudic literature. But the judges addressed in the Psalm were imagined to have been angels, and not the saints, as Paul of Tarsus had also attested to the Corinthians that the saints would ultimately judge even the angels. We see this opening verse of Wisdom to be a clarification of the opening lines of the 82nd Psalm, to be explained only in the words of Christ and of Paul of Tarsus, and that is something which neither the early Christian writers nor Alexandrian Jews such as Philo seemed to understand. So on that basis do we begin to reject the notion that Wisdom was written by an Alexandrian Jew.
We had titled our second presentation in this commentary Introduction to Wisdom. Perhaps on the surface, the content does not seem to deserve such a title, as we had covered only 5 additional verses following the first verse. However Solomon surely did introduce wisdom from the very beginning of this work, in its opening verses, where he made the insistence that wisdom is inextricably connected to God, and to obedience to God. This he did in verses 3 and 4 where he wrote: “3 For froward thoughts separate from God: and his power, when it is tried, reproveth the unwise.” So we see that those who are in the company of God must reject froward thoughts, lest they be put out of His company and reproved. Then he wrote: “4 For into a malicious soul wisdom shall not enter; nor dwell in the body that is subject unto sin.” So we see that one who desires wisdom must also keep the commandments of God, and there is no opportunity to attain wisdom outside of that requirement. Likewise, Christ had said, as it is recorded in John chapter 14, “21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.”
With this we must acknowledge that from this point, wherever Solomon speaks of wisdom he is referring exclusively to the wisdom which comes from God, which is found in His law and His Word. Then this professed need for obedience to the commandments is further underscored where he had next written: “5 For the holy spirit of discipline will flee deceit, and remove from thoughts that are without understanding, and will not abide when unrighteousness cometh in.” When a man departs from the commandments, it is that same wisdom of God which imparts judgment, and we read: “6 For wisdom is a loving spirit; and will not acquit a blasphemer of his words: for God is witness of his reins, and a true beholder of his heart, and a hearer of his tongue.” Likewise we read in the 66th Psalm: “18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.”
Our last presentation in this commentary brought us to this point, and what more of an introduction to wisdom do we require? Therefore we cannot imagine, that where our author speaks of wisdom throughout the following 19 chapters of this work, that he ever refers to or seeks to promote any wisdom outside of that which is found in the Word of God. For there is no other wisdom which is truth. Any wisdom accumulated by man through his own experience cannot be true unless it is also fully grounded upon the wisdom which comes from God.
We shall continue to answer criticisms of the Wisdom of Solomon as we find them, and where we reach appropriate points in our commentary. However presently we shall continue from that point where we had left off, with verse 7 of the first chapter:
Wisdom 1:7 For the Spirit of the Lord filleth the world: and that which containeth all things hath knowledge of the voice.
Or better, “knowledge of a voice”, as there is no definite article in the text. The word for world here is οἰκουμένη, which is the physical inhabited earth. Where we see “that which containeth all things” it refers to that same Spirit, which holds together or sustains all things. According to Liddell & Scott, the word φωνή is “a sound, tone, properly the sound of the voice, mostly of men… any articulate sound, as opp. to inarticulate”, and among other similar things, even “a phrase, saying”. Along with another word describing the sound of speech, φθέγμα , which appears later in this chapter, the word seems to be closer in meaning to the Hebrew word often translated as voice in the King James Version which is qol or qowl, Strong’s # 6963, a voice, sound or noise. Here the author of Wisdom uses these terms to describe the substance of what it said, and it is doubtful that the Classical philosophers ever used the term φωνή in that same sense (Elemental Discourses, by John Sallis). Plato and Aristotle seem to have used the term to describe the sound of a voice, even the language in which words were spoken or written, but not the substance of what was spoken. Later, where the substance of words is referred to in the New Testament, the Greek word is often ῥῆμα, and often λόγος, especially in reference to Christ.
So where the Spirit “has knowledge of a voice”, it knows what that voice is saying, and the writer is referring to what he had said previously, that wisdom “will not acquit a blasphemer of his words” because the Spirit of God knows everything that has been spoken. If the blasphemer truly had wisdom, he would know not to blaspheme. Likewise, Yahshua Christ had attested in the gospel, as it is recorded in Matthew chapter 12: “36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” While James elaborates on this in chapter 3 of his epistle, we read in the 59th Psalm, where it is speaking of the enemies of both Yahweh and His people Israel: “12 For the sin of their mouth and the words of their lips let them even be taken in their pride: and for cursing and lying which they speak.” So we next read in Wisdom:
8 Therefore he that speaketh unrighteous things cannot be hid: neither shall vengeance, when it punisheth, pass by him.
Speaking of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, as it is found in Luke chapter 12, Christ had then warned His disciples: “2 For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. 3 Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.” Before God, men can have no secrets. Men shall be judged for everything they attempted to do or that they said in secret.
As for “he that speaketh unrighteous things”, the Greek verb is φθέγγομαι, and perhaps it was chosen because it is close in meaning to the way in which the noun φωνή was used earlier, an aspect of the poetic construction of this work. Φθέγγομαι is primarily to “utter a sound or voice, esp. speak loud and clear”, while other words may have been used to describe the substance of speech. The word for punish is the verb ἐλέγχω which we also saw in verse 5 of this chapter, which is properly to convict or reprove. The King James Version often took liberties translating this word.
As we cited the 59th Psalm, reading that passage in context it is evident that it spoke in reference to the enemies of both God and Israel, and not to the children of Israel themselves. For Christ had promised them mercy where He said “All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. 32 And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him.” But then He warned that those who spoke against the Holy Spirit would not be forgiven.
In the epistle of Jude, we read words attributed to Enoch: “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince [or convict, a form of that same word ἐλέγχω] all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” So blasphemy of the Holy Spirit must be in actions, as well as in words. As the Wisdom of Solomon continues, it becomes evident that it speaks in reference to that same vengeance, and in relation to those same people:
9 For inquisition shall be made into the counsels of the ungodly: and the sound of his words shall come unto the Lord for the manifestation of his wicked deeds.
The word which is translated as manifestation is once again ἔλεγχος, the noun form of ἐλέγχω which is found in verses 5 and 8, and it is properly conviction or reproof. But here the Greek word ἀσεβής does not describe someone who is without God, but rather someone who is without piety or reverence for God. This indicates that even the impious among Yahweh’s Own people shall be punished for opposing Him. While the children of Israel may all be saved, while Yahweh had promised to ultimately cleanse all of their sins, they are nevertheless punished along with His enemies when they stand against Him. So we see in Revelation chapter 18: “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.”
Now Solomon, who is indeed a poet, repeats the concept he expressed in verse 7:
10 For the ear of jealousy heareth all things: and the noise [θροῦς] of murmurings is not hid.
Even in the Exodus, the children of Israel who witnessed many wonderful things had murmured against God, as we read, for example, in Numbers chapter 14: “27 How long shall I bear with this evil congregation, which murmur against me? I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel, which they murmur against me.” So Paul of Tarsus warned his readers, in Philippians chapter 2, to: “14 Do all things apart from murmuring and disputing, 15 that you would be perfect and with unmixed blood, blameless children of Yahweh in the midst of a race crooked and perverted - among whom you appear as luminaries in the Society, 16 upholding the Word of Life for a boast with me in the day of Christ, that not in vain have I run nor in vain have I labored.” There we cited the Christogenea New Testament, because it is clearer and more accurate than the King James and other modern translations and the message in the passage is especially important in light of our circumstances today.
As for the “ear of jealousy”, this is a reference to Yahweh Himself. Yahweh had proclaimed for Himself to be a jealous God, jealous for the children of Israel and demanding that they do not speak against Him, which is also a form of idolatry. Thus we read in Exodus chapter 34: “14 For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God: 15 Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice; 16 And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods.”
From Exodus chapter 20, at the introduction of the ten primary commandments, we read: “2 I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me. 4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: 5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; 6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.”
But by that same jealousy which Yahweh God has for His people there is effectuated an opportunity for reconciliation, as He said in Ezekiel chapter 39: “25 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Now will I bring again the captivity of Jacob, and have mercy upon the whole house of Israel, and will be jealous for my holy name; 26 After that they have borne their shame, and all their trespasses whereby they have trespassed against me, when they dwelt safely in their land, and none made them afraid. 27 When I have brought them again from the people, and gathered them out of their enemies' lands, and am sanctified in them in the sight of many nations; 28 Then shall they know that I am the LORD their God, which caused them to be led into captivity among the heathen: but I have gathered them unto their own land, and have left none of them any more there. 29 Neither will I hide my face any more from them: for I have poured out my spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord GOD.” This was fulfilled as the children of Israel departed from the places to which the Assyrians had brought them captive, to settle in Europe and Central Asia, in the migrations of the Kimmerians, Galatae and related peoples. Therefore Paul wrote in turn, in 2 Corinthians chapter 11: “2 For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” But the Corinthians themselves had originated in migrations of Israel prior to the Assyrian captivity.
Murmuring against our God leads to disdaining Him and transgressing His law. Even if we do not turn to worship idols, we make our selves an idol by imagining that we can follow our own laws. Doing that always leads to humanism, egalitarianism, and ultimately down the path to the hell of miscegenation and other sins, all of the things which our own society is suffering today.
11 Therefore beware of murmuring, which is unprofitable; and refrain your tongue from backbiting: for there is no word so secret, that shall go for nought: and the mouth that belieth slayeth the soul.
In James chapter 3 the apostle makes analogies comparing the tongue to the bit and bridle by which a horse is guided, and to the rudder by which one steers a ship, and men often do not realize that the things which they say, whether for good or for bad, can set the course of their own lives as well as affecting the lives of others, where we read “ 3 Behold, we put bits in the horses' mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. 4 Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. 5 Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world [ornament] of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.”
James goes on to explain that every sort of beast can be tamed by man, “8 But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” Yet where he continues further, he shows how it can be tempered, at least, and writes “17… the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. 18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” This is of course the same wisdom of which Solomon speaks.
However the peace of which James speaks is not the peace of men. One must make peace with God first, by being obedient to His Word. Without obedience and submission to the Word of God, there can be no peace. So we read in Isaiah chapter 57: “21 There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.” Paul of Tarsus, speaking of truth and honesty and virtue in Philippians chapter 4, said “9 Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.” The God of peace shall not be with the disobedient, a lesson we also receive from Solomon here. The New American Standard Bible translates Luke 2:14 correctly, where we read: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” Once we understand this, we must realize that true humility is submission to the Word of God, and without that, all other humility is only vanity, of pretense to gain the favor of men.
The word for backbiting here in this verse of Wisdom is καταλαλιά, which is speaking against, or slander. The verb form of the word, καταλαλέω, appears in James 4:11 where the apostle wrote “11 Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother, or judges his brother, speaks against the law, and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law, but a judge of it.” So long as a brother stays obedient to the law, there is no good reason to slander him.
Where we read “there is no word so secret”, the word for word is φθέγμα, a noun related to the verb which we saw in verse 8, φθέγγομαι. It too refers to the sound of a voice, or therefore a saying. So while it was used like φωνή, to refer to the sound of a voice, it was also used to refer to the substance of what is spoken, as φωνή was used here in the manner of the Hebrew word qol, but apparently not in the manner of the Greeks.
The phrase “that shall go for nought” may be read “that shall not proceed vainly” or “that shall not go forth empty”. But that does not mean that the words of the ungodly shall be fulfilled as they desire. Sometimes, they themselves suffer the things which they say, as we read in a prayer of David found in the 64th Psalm: “2 Hide me from the secret counsel of the wicked; from the insurrection of the workers of iniquity: 3 Who whet their tongue like a sword, and bend their bows to shoot their arrows, even bitter words: 4 That they may shoot in secret at the perfect: suddenly do they shoot at him, and fear not. 5 They encourage themselves in an evil matter: they commune of laying snares privily; they say, Who shall see them? 6 They search out iniquities; they accomplish a diligent search: both the inward thought of every one of them, and the heart, is deep. 7 But God shall shoot at them with an arrow; suddenly shall they be wounded. 8 So they shall make their own tongue to fall upon themselves: all that see them shall flee away.”
So continuing with verse 11 here, the word belieth is archaic. We would translate the phrase to say “the mouth that speaks falsely kills the soul.” The word for soul is ψυχή, and it refers to the life as opposed to πνεῦμα, or the spirit. So as David wrote, the wicked “whet their tongue like a sword”, and as James had said, “the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.” Thus Wisdom also warns:
12 Seek not death in the error of your life: and pull not upon yourselves destruction with the works of your hands.
So while it begins by speaking of words contrary to wisdom, and even blasphemy, we see that ultimately, destruction comes in actual action. Pondering sin, all sin begins with blasphemy, as sin is tantamount to speaking against the law, and the law comes from God, so to sin one is committing an act which speaks against God. But where Christ had warned that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit would not be forgiven, that must describe something greater than all other sins.
Where it says “seek not death”, the Greek term translated as seek is even stronger: “do not be zealous for death”, or perhaps “do not seek death eagerly”. This admonition is similar to the stages of sin as James explains in chapter 1 of his epistle: “14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. 15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” There is no transgression of the law until “when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin” and sin ultimately and inevitably brings forth death.
Here the word for error is πλάνη, which is literally a wandering, roaming, but also a digression or metaphaphorically a going astray, error, as it appears to have been used also in the Greek philosophers. But there are similar metaphors throughout the Old Testament, as terms for wandering were used to describe sin. Where Cain was sent to the so-called “land of Nod”, the Hebrew term for Nod is translated as vagabond several times in that same chapter of Genesis. Speaking of his own sin, David had written in the 56th Psalm, using that same word for Nod or vagabond: “7 Shall they escape by iniquity? in thine anger cast down the people, O God. 8 Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?” Now, speaking of the cause of death, we learn that in wisdom man cannot blame God:
13 For God made not death: neither hath he pleasure in the destruction of the living.
Speaking of the lust which, once it is conceived, brings forth death, James had said “13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: 14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.” Solomon expresses the coming of death into the world in similar terms, where we read at the end of chapter 2 of his Wisdom: “23 For God created man to be immortal, and made him to be an image of his own eternity. 24 Nevertheless through envy of the devil came death into the world: and they that do hold of his side do find it.”
Through envy of the devil, as being enticed by lust, as Eve had “saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise….” But as Eve apparently envied a tree, Solomon understood that she actually envied the devil, and the serpent and the tree were both euphemisms for people, an individual and a race. The serpent, an individual, represented the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, the race of fallen angels which the Scriptures do not describe until the parables and Revelation of Yahshua Christ. This is the sin unto death mentioned by John in his first epistle, and it is the same as that blasphemy of the Holy Spirit of which Christ had spoken in the gospel. Those who continue in that first sin which had brought forth death, shall indeed find death.
Once it is recognized that it is the corruption of God’s Creation which had brought forth death, the significance of the words which follow becomes manifest:
14 For he created all things, that they might have their being: and the generations of the world were healthful; and there is no poison of destruction in them, nor the kingdom of death upon the earth:
The first two clauses may have been better translated “For He created all things into that which exists”, as the second clause was translated from the short phrase εἰς τὸ εἶναι, and it actually stands before “all things” in the original word order. Then the third clause may have better been translated: “and the beginnings [γένεσις] of the world [κόσμος] are deliverance [σωτήριος, or salvation]”. The word order of the adjective, deliverance here and the noun it modifies, which is beginnings, is predicative, and here it is singular in English although in Greek it necessarily has the plural form of the noun which it modifies. That is how the noun it does modify is known, because it should have the same gender and number.
The word φάρμακον is poison here. It is also a magic spell or enchantment, and therefore sorcery. The serpent of the garden was described by the Hebrew term nachash, which is a serpent or an enchanter, as the King James Version had translated various forms of the word. So we have an allusion to the creation of Adam described in Genesis chapters 2 and 3, and the enchantment of Eve, along with the conscious decision of Adam to follow her in her sin, which led to the “kingdom of death upon the earth” as Paul of Tarsus also explained, in Romans chapter 5 where he said “12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: 13 For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come [meaning Christ].”
But here Solomon is not referring to the Genesis creation where he wrote, as we would translate it, “For He created all things into that which exists and the beginnings of the world are deliverance.” The Genesis creation was not for deliverance, or for salvation. Adam did not need saving as soon as he was created. Rather, it was the Genesis creation that needed saving, and for that reason Yahweh God created a new world within a world which was the “kingdom of death”. It became the “kinigdom of death” with Adam’s fall. Earlier, where world appears in Wisdom the word is οἰκουμένη, which describes the physical habitation. But here it is κόσμος, which is a world order, a society. That new world, or society, which is described here is defined later in this Book of Wisdom, in chapter 18: “24 For in the long garment [the garment worn by the priest] was the whole world, and in the four rows of the stones was the glory of the fathers graven, and thy Majesty [the Name of Yahweh] upon the diadem of his head.” Earlier in that same chapter, Wisdom mentioned “the uncorrupt light of the law [which] was to be given unto the world”, and in the 147th Psalm we read “19 He sheweth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel. 20 He hath not dealt so with any nation: and as for his judgments, they have not known them. Praise ye the LORD.”
So the world of the Wisdom of Solomon consisted exclusively of the children of Israel, as the tribes of Israel were represented in the stones on the garment of the priest. Through that world would come salvation. What required saving was the original world which Yahweh had created, the world of Genesis of which the apostle John had written in his first epistle and said, as it reads in the King James Version “19 And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.” Paul of Tarsus corroborates this understanding, where he wrote in 1 Corinthians chapter 15 and said “22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”
All which Yahweh God created is righteous, as He Himself stated that it is good, and the Adamic man was therefore created to be righteous, and as Solomon said, as we have already cited from chapter 2 of Wisdom, Adam was created to be immortal. So Wisdom now declares:
15 (For righteousness is immortal:)
Solomon is speaking of the righteousness which is of God, and not the righteousness of men. So in Proverbs chapter 12 we read: “28 In the way of righteousness is life; and in the pathway thereof there is no death.” Then again, in the words of Paul in Romans chapter 2, he speaks of God: “6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds: 7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: 8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, 9 Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil…” So also here in Wisdom:
16 But ungodly men with their works [literally “by their hands”] and words called it to them: for when they thought to have it their friend, they consumed to nought, and made a covenant with it, because they are worthy to take part with it.
Again, the word for ungodly is ἀσεβής, which is properly impious. It is the negated form of σεβάς, which is reverence. As Paul had explained in Romans chapter 5, sin is not imputed where there is no law, so earlier generations and nations of the Adamic race could not be described in this manner. Rather, it is the children of Israel who were described as having made a covenant with death, which is implied here, and this is found in the words of the prophet Isaiah, in chapter 28, where we also see a hope for salvation in a Messianic prophesy which even Christ had cited in reference to Himself: “14 Wherefore hear the word of the LORD, ye scornful men, that rule this people which is in Jerusalem. 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.”
Now this brings us to Wisdom chapter 2, and while we will discuss the first two verses of that chapter briefly, because they finish this chapter, we will do a more complete commentary on them later as they are an important prerequisite to the balance of chapter 2, and in that manner they are pivotal:
Wisdom 2:1 For the ungodly said, reasoning with themselves, but not aright, Our life is short and tedious, and in the death of a man there is no remedy: neither was there any man known to have returned from the grave. 2 For we are born at all adventure: and we shall be hereafter as though we had never been: for the breath in our nostrils is as smoke, and a little spark in the moving of our heart:
Here we shall see that this is also a the beginning of a Messianic prophecy. The impious men had said, but not “aright”, or correctly, that “in the death of a man there is no remedy: neither was there any man known to have returned from the grave.” As we proceed through the chapter, the attitudes and deeds of the impious are described, and their words are corrected in wisdom. With irony, the Wisdom of Solomon introduces the death of one man, who is inevitably the Messiah, as the remedy for death itself. However he does it in a way which never mentions a Messiah, while with those words he draws a portrait of Christ. Once we realize that the first chapter of Wisdom also describes what needs to be saved, while the second chapter is actually a prophecy of Christ, then we realize the statement it is making: that Christ, who is a product of the wisdom of God, is also the remedy for sin and death.
But for the present, this passage reflects the cynical attitude which is found elsewhere in Solomon’s writing, namely in Ecclesiastes chapter 3 where Solomon had written “ 21 Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?” Then this also reflects a more general sentiment expressed throughout Ecclesiastes, that all is vanity, but more specifically that man has little joy or reward but to to eat and to drink. While Solomon expresses it there in many words, it is summarized in Isaiah chapter 22, a passage cited later by Paul, where sinful men are depicted as saying “let us eat and drink; for to morrow we shall die.” So in this and many other aspects of the work, it is very much like the other books of Scripture which are attributed to Solomon without question.
Paul had asked, in 1 Corinthians chapter 15 and referring to his work in the gospel: “32… what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die.” In that very same chapter Paul had made the rather confident statement that “22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive”, and goes on to describe aspects of the resurrection of the dead. Likewise Solomon, in the closing chapter of Ecclesiastes, admitted that all is not vanity, because there certainly was a God who “shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” At the coming of Yahshua Christ, men knew with certainty that there was truly such a God, and as we proceed with Wisdom chapter 2, we shall see that portion of this book is also a prophecy of that same Yahshua Christ.
The Wisdom of Solomon connects Old and New Testaments in many intricate ways, ways which are not even realized by many denominational Christians, and it is for that reason alone that we believe it is hated by the Jews.