On the Wisdom of Solomon, Part 8: The Reward of the Righteous

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On the Wisdom of Solomon, Part 8: The Reward of the Righteous

In the most recent presentation of our commentary on the Wisdom of Solomon we saw The End of the Wicked, which was really a description of the fate of the ungodly, the impious among men who would turn their backs on their people, and on Yahweh their God, in order to pursue worldly or fleshly desires. Making such a choice, they actually take the side of the devil, who had corrupted the Creation of God in the beginning, and ultimately finding unlawful beds, which is a metaphor for committing the sins of fornication and adultery, they also find death because their bastard offspring will never be accepted by Yahweh their God. Being unrepentant, it is evidently these men who find themselves in a resurrection to everlasting contempt. Solomon continues to describe them here, even as he turns once more to discuss the righteous.

Yahweh God had made the law of kind after kind from the beginning, He warned Adam not to eat from the evil tree, and men cannot compel God to accept the fruits of their own sin. It is quite arrogant for them, even hubris, to think that they may persuade Him to change from His Word on account of their sin. True humility is the sincere acceptance of His Word and His Law, voluntarily, and not reluctantly – even though in the end, as He Himself had said in Isaiah chapter 45, “unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.”

It is important to observe that where Solomon had made this description here in chapters 3 and 4 of Wisdom, the language which he used evokes similar language used by the prophets, and then foreshadows similar allegories and metaphors used by Christ and His apostles in reference to these same things. It is perfectly clear in these verses that references to trees and fruit in such allegories describe races of men and their offspring, since Solomon himself had used explanatory language in connection with his allegories which does not allow for any other interpretation of the metaphors. Reading the Wisdom of Solomon, many of the allegories in the prophets, and then the parables of Christ in the Gospel, the meanings of the prophets and parables as we interpret them in relation to races of men become absolutely undeniable, and many of the metaphors or allegories of Paul of Tarsus also correlate to those same meanings.

The language of Solomon here in these chapters explains them all, that it was a devil which Eve had lusted after, and not merely an apple, that strange slips are the result of a mixing of the races, that a corrupt tree can only produce corrupt fruit, which are bastard children, that a good tree cannot produce bad or corrupt fruit, since a good tree does not produce bastards so long as men continue to make the tree good. Men can make the tree good by choosing wives of their own kind rather than transgressing the law, and by rejecting the bastards which had been produced in unlawful beds. While all of these things are evident in the prophets and the Gospel, Solomon explains them at length, and in such a way that the veracity of these interpretations is absolutely clear.

The lawful bed is first described in Genesis chapter 2, where Adam had declared that an appropriate wife was “bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh”. This is observed once again in Genesis chapter 24, where Abraham had sent to his homeland to procure a wife for Isaac from the women of his own kin. Then when Abraham’s servant had returned with Rebekah, “Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah's tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife”. Rebekah became Isaac’s wife in a lawful bed, not a State-licensed bed, but a bed which is lawful according to the laws of Yahweh and not of men. Later, after having raised her own sons, Rebekah had become troubled because Esau was a fornicator, a race-mixer, and she arranged it so that Jacob would receive the birthright and the blessing instead of his older brother.

So when Isaac had seen what was done, he understood that his wife acted righteously, and he instructed Jacob accordingly, as it is recorded in Genesis chapter 28: “And Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him, and said unto him, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan [as Esau had done]. 2 Arise, go to Padanaram, to the house of Bethuel thy mother's father; and take thee a wife from thence of the daughters of Laban thy mother's brother [a wife of his own kin]. 3 And God Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people; 4 And give thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee, and to thy seed with thee; that thou mayest inherit the land wherein thou art a stranger, which God gave unto Abraham.” So Jacob received the blessing of Abraham because he took wives of his own people, whereas Esau lost his birthright and his offspring were hated for his race-mixing. So Esau is a model for the impious or unrighteous man who would turn his back on the righteous and forsake Yahweh his God, which is the sort of man that Solomon describes here.

As we left off with verse 6 of Wisdom chapter 4, we read that the children of the impious, which are the children begotten of unlawful beds to whom Solomon also referred as bastard slips, would stand as a witness against their parents. The children of Esau are a testimony against him, the first of a long line of men who forsook the blessings of Abraham to become fornicators and adulterers. But now as we proceed with chapter 4 of Wisdom, Solomon turns once again to discuss the reward of the righteous:

Wisdom 4:7 But though the righteous be prevented with death, yet shall he be in rest.

The Greek word translated as prevented here is φθάνω, which according to Liddell & Scott has a wide range of uses in certain contexts, but basically it describes something which comes, arrives, is done or which is attained either beforehand, first or earlier. Here in this context Solomon is contrasting the righteous to the ungodly, or impious, who seem to live long and prosper which he had described earlier, in the closing verses of chapter 3. The statements which follow help us to better interpret this verb here, as he suggests that the honor and wisdom of a man are to be estimated by his apparent age or distinguished appearance, but by his virtue. Furthermore, the word for death is a verb, and not a noun – an aorist active infinitive form of τελευτάω, which is to bring to an end, or of men, commonly to die. Therefore we would translate verse 7 to read:

7 But even if the righteous dies earlier, he shall be at rest.

The word earlier may have been translated as younger, and the context provided by the next verse also supports our translation:

8 For honourable age is not that which standeth in length of time, nor that is measured by number of years.

The word for honorable is τίμιος, which is honorable, valuable, dear, prized or worthy. A man who is a sinner, even though he lives for many years, has not reached an honorable age even if he has reached an old age. But a man who is virtuous has reached an honorable age regardless of how long he lives. So Solomon now makes some parallelisms in other analogies which have the same essential meaning:

9 But wisdom is the gray hair unto men, and an unspotted life is old age.

The Greek clause should have been translated to end with the words “an unspotted life is maturity of old age.” It is not that gray hair is wisdom, but where men respect gray hair, they should respect wisdom instead. So a man with wisdom should be looked upon as a man with gray hair, whether or not his hair is actually gray, or whether he even has hair. Likewise, an unspotted life is maturity in old age, but old age itself is not necessarily an indication of maturity or a sign that one had lived an unspotted life. An old sinner is therefore an immature man. As Solomon had written in chapter 3 in regard to the wicked, “17 For though they live long, yet shall they be nothing regarded: and their last age shall be without honour.” So men should respect those who live unspotted lives just as they should respect their elders.

Once again, the word for wisdom here is φρόνησις, which is understanding. Later, in Wisdom chapter 7, Solomon informs us as to what he means by this understanding where in another parallelism he wrote: “7 Wherefore I prayed, and understanding was given me: I called upon God, and the spirit of wisdom came to me.” So where he says understanding, Solomon refers to that wisdom which is from of Yahweh God. So a man who has understanding must understand the wisdom which comes from God, as that is the wisdom of which Solomon speaks, and with that understanding he lives an unspotted life, for which he is then worthy of respect and for which he shall ultimately be honored by God Himself. So Solomon continues to speak of such a righteous man and says:

10 He pleased God, and was beloved of him: so that living among sinners he was translated.

The word for translated is μετατίθημι, which is literally to place differently or to change the place of. It was also used by Paul of Tarsus in Hebrews chapter 11 where he spoke of Enoch and said “5 By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.” It was also used in the Septuagint at Genesis 5:24 where the original account of Enoch is first given and we read in the King James Version “for God took him” but in the Septuagint “because God translated him.” While elsewhere in Scripture the word is used in different contexts, once again it is translated in the Septuagint where the Wisdom of Sirach mentions the taking of Enoch, in chapter 44: “16 Enoch pleased the Lord, and was translated, being an example of repentance to all generations.”

While Enoch was said to have “walked with God”, and therefore it is also evident that he was translated without ever having seen death, here in Wisdom we see that even in death men are translated, or move on to another place, which is to be with God. This is how Christians should look at death, as Christ Himself had referred to it as an entrance into life.

But this should also be understood as a continuation of the portrait of the righteous, of which Christ Himself is the chief example, a portrait that Solomon had begun to paint in Wisdom chapter 2. Of course, Christ had also died rather young, after having lived an unspotted life, so he is a model for all who aspire to be accounted as righteous. Christ having ascended to the Father, we may perceive what Solomon means by being translated.

In Ecclesiastes chapter 7, Solomon pondered the plight of the just man who died in his righteousness, compared to the wicked who lived a long life, and said: “15 All things have I seen in the days of my vanity: there is a just man that perisheth in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man that prolongeth his life in his wickedness.” So here Solomon ponders the early death of a just man once again, but from a different perspective:

11 Yea speedily was he taken away, lest that wickedness should alter his understanding, or deceit beguile his soul.

The first clause of the verse is translated from a single word, a form of the verb ἁρπάζω, which we would render “He had been taken”, taken away in the eyes of men by his apparent death.

These same things were also considered in the words of Yahweh found in the prophet Isaiah, in chapter 57, and the phenomenon is attributed to the same reasons: “1 The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come. 2 He shall enter into peace: they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness.” As Solomon also said here, the righteous shall be at rest.

But then, just as Solomon does here, Isaiah also addresses the wicked, in the very next verse from the same chapter: “3 But draw near hither, ye sons of the sorceress, the seed of the adulterer and the whore. 4 Against whom do ye sport yourselves? against whom make ye a wide mouth, and draw out the tongue? are ye not children of transgression, a seed of falsehood, 5 Enflaming yourselves with idols under every green tree, slaying the children in the valleys under the clifts of the rocks?” So the wicked in Isaiah are described as having the same characteristics as the wicked which are described here in Wisdom, and we see that at least often, when the righteous are removed it is “from the evil to come”, as Solomon had written here, that wickedness should not corrupt them. In both Isaiah and here in Wisdom, the wicked are “a seed of falsehood”, the “bastard slips” which are generated by impious fornicators.

Now Solomon continues in that same manner:

12 For the bewitching of naughtiness doth obscure things that are honest; and the wandering of concupiscence doth undermine the simple mind.

For this, David had written in the 31st Psalm: “18 Let the lying lips be put to silence; which speak grievous things proudly and contemptuously against the righteous.” But the language of this verse is difficult, so we shall attempt to rectify it here.

In their Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon based upon the 7th edition of their larger work, Liddell & Scott define βασκανία as slander, envy, or malice. Then in the later 9th edition of their Greek-English Lexicon it is defined as a malign influence or witchery, and in secondary senses as malignity or jealousy. While it is bewitching here we would render it differently. Likewise, the word φαυλότης in their 9th edition is defined as meanness, poorness, badness, of persons and things, to which the Intermediate edition adds paltriness and pettiness. The phrase which is rendered “things that are honest”, τὰ καλά, simply means “good things”. So we would render the first half of the verse to say:

12 For the malign influence of wickedness obscures good things…

As for the later part of the verse, the word ῥεμβασμός is not common, evidently appearing only here, although related forms from the same root word do appear in Greek literature, and wandering is appropriate in this context. The word ἐπιθυμία may be desire, longing or lust, and it was also translated as concupiscence, which is a strong lust or sexual desire, several times in the Christogenea New Testament. The verb μεταλλεύω is literally to get something by mining, but it is to undermine here. It was used in reference to the undermining of walls in literature as early as the first century BC, by Didorus Siculus and Dionysius of Halicarnassus, as well as by Flavius Josephus later on. Here it is used in that same manner, but metaphorically of the mind, so its use here also seems to be unique to the Wisdom of Solomon. The critics who claim that Wisdom contains specifically Hellenistic language avoid many passages in Wisdom that contain language which is not found in any extant Hellenistic writings. This verse is exemplary of that circumstance. Finally, the word for simple is ἄκακος and literally means without evil. So we would translate the second half of the verse to say:

12 … and the wandering of concupiscence [or desire] undermines the innocent mind.

Similarly, in relation to the things which are of God, Paul of Tarsus wrote in the opening chapter of his epistle to Titus: “15 Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.” Paul warned the Corinthians, in chapter 2 of his second epistle to them, concerning his fear that “3… as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” The word simplicity there means not innocence but sincerity.

But even closer to the meaning of Solomon here, in chapter 15 of his first epistle to the Corinthians Paul had also warned them: “33 Do not be deceived, ‘bad associations corrupt good character.’” The phrase must have been an adage, as it is also found in the writings of Diodorus Siculus (Library of History, 16.54.4), Euripides (frag. 1013) and Menander (Thaïs, frag. 218). The adage certainly reflects what Solomon had said here.

Now, beginning yet another parallelism, Solomon repeats something which he had just explained in a somewhat different manner:

13 He, being made perfect in a short time, fulfilled a long time:

Of course, Solomon is still referring to the man he began to describe in verse 8, who lived honorably but not into old age, who had wisdom before he was gray, and who was unspotted and therefore virtuous, for which reason he had pleased God.

Now, continuing the repetitive illustration:

14 For his soul pleased the Lord: therefore hasted he to take him away from among the wicked.

So here we see what Solomon had meant when he wrote earlier in the chapter that “living among sinners he was translated”. This was the literary purpose of the Hebrew parallelism, which is employed here in Wisdom quite frequently, and is also employed frequently in the words of the prophets. Describing the same phenomenon repeatedly and in different ways, the phenomenon is more clearly understood. The device is sometimes used within a single verse, sometimes in consecutive passages, and sometimes even in consecutive chapters. One example is evident in Ezekiel chapter 27, where the prince and the king of Tyre are actually the same person, and another in chapters 38 and 39 where the prophetic invasion of Gog and Magog against the Camp of the Saints is described twice, but in somewhat different ways.

Now Solomon explains that the people, seeing the apparent end of the righteous, would not understand his fate:

15 This the people saw, and understood it not, neither laid they up this in their minds, That his grace and mercy is with his saints, and that he hath respect unto his chosen.

The phrase “that he has respect” is only a noun, ἐπισκοπή, which in the New Testament is used to describe the office of a supervisor, an overseer or bishop. The phrase τοῖς ἐκλεκτοῖς is the elect, but here it is saints. The phrase τοῖς ὁσίοις is holy ones, or perhaps saints, but here it is rendered chosen. So we would render the final part of this verse to read, noting also that the first pronoun is not in the text:

That grace and mercy are with His elect, and that He is Overseer [or Bishop] among his saints.

Thus we read in Deuteronomy chapter 7: “9 Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations; 10 And repayeth them that hate him to their face, to destroy them: he will not be slack to him that hateth him, he will repay him to his face.” Solomon repeats the expression in this later statement further on in this chapter.

Here Solomon is also repeating a theme which he began at the beginning of chapter 3 of Wisdom where he spoke concerning the souls of the righteous and said: “2 In the sight of the unwise they seemed to die: and their departure is taken for misery, 3 And their going from us to be utter destruction: but they are in peace. 4 For though they be punished in the sight of men, yet is their hope full of immortality.”

So now he continues from that theme and he adds:

16 Thus the righteous that is dead shall condemn the ungodly which are living; and youth that is soon perfected the many years and old age of the unrighteous.

The word for dead is a participle form of the verb κάμνω, which basically means to work, labor or toil, but which in secondary senses was used to describe suffering, distress, or even to be met with disaster, as Liddell & Scott explain that Homer had used the word in the Iliad, in a grammatical form that also appears here, to describe “those who have met with disaster”. So while the reference is indeed to the righteous who die early, we would translate the first part of this verse to say:

16 Thus the righteous who have suffered shall condemn the ungodly [or impious] who are living…

In the later half of the verse, the implication is that the righteous man who dies early, having been perfected at a young age, having lived an unspotted life, shall condemn the many years and old age of the unrighteous. It was not necessary to repeat the verb.

Solomon is making an example of a phenomenon from which other examples and deductions can be made, which is the judgment of the living and the dead, or as the King James Version has it, the quick and the dead, at the end of the age. From another perspective, speaking to His adversaries in Galilee, Christ had said, as it is recorded in Matthew chapter 12: “41 The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation [or race], and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here. 42 The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation [or race], and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.”

The men of Nineveh were of Asshur, the son of Shem, and the queen of the south from Sheba, of the sons of Cush, the son of Ham, if not of the sons of Joktan the son of Eber as the early history is ambiguous. In any event, as Paul had professed in Romans chapter 5, and summarized in 1 Corinthians chapter 15, “22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” Paul had explained in that chapter of Romans that the entire Adamic race would be justified in Christ, and receive the gift of righteousness from God. Righteousness is not what men consider to be just, but what Yahweh God considers just. In judgment men have no comprehension of the bigger picture which is only seen by Yahweh God. In Christ, He has declared His Creation to be righteous, and the bastard slips shall all be destroyed.

Another perspective is found in 2 Corinthians chapter 10, where Paul of Tarsus had written: “3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; 6 And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.” So the righteous shall condemn the wicked, but only once they themselves are perfected in obedience.

Now, continuing with Solomon’s description of the ungodly:

17 For they shall see the end of the wise, and shall not understand what God in his counsel hath decreed of him, and to what end the Lord hath set him in safety.

There are innovations in the translation of this verse, where there is no word for God, and where certain verbs were rendered as nouns. So we would literally translate it to read:

17 For they shall see the end [or the death] of the wise, and shall not understand what the Lord has considered concerning him and for what He has secured [or safeguarded] him.

Earlier in Wisdom we saw a description of the tendency of the wicked to condemn the just, and asserted that Solomon was also prophesying of Christ. So in that context, we may also see that what Solomon has written here is echoed in Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians, in chapter 2: “6 Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: 7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: 8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” In Romans chapter 8 Paul wrote in reference to the challenges which the elect of God face in this world and he concluded, in part: “28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

Now, speaking once again of the attitude which the wicked have towards the righteous when he dies:

18 They shall see him, and despise him; but God shall laugh them to scorn: and they shall hereafter be a vile carcase, and a reproach among the dead for evermore.

Here in Wisdom it is apparent that Solomon had three parties in mind, and only two of them were of any consequence. The first party is that of the righteous. The second party is that of the impious, or ungodly, whom he had described as those who turned their backs on both the righteous and on Yahweh their God. The third party are the bastard slips who shall all ultimately be uprooted and destroyed. These last two parties are not always distinguishable in Scriptures which discuss the just and the unjust, the righteous and the wicked.

But there are many scriptures which prophecy that the names of the enemies of God are to be eradicated completely, and are not to be remembered. One place where this is evident is the 9th Psalm, attributed to David, which says in part: “1 I will praise thee, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works. 2 I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High. 3 When mine enemies are turned back, they shall fall and perish at thy presence. 4 For thou hast maintained my right and my cause; thou satest in the throne judging right. 5 Thou hast rebuked the heathen, thou hast destroyed the wicked, thou hast put out their name for ever and ever. 6 O thou enemy, destructions are come to a perpetual end: and thou hast destroyed cities; their memorial is perished with them. 7 But the LORD shall endure for ever: he hath prepared his throne for judgment. 8 And he shall judge the world in righteousness, he shall minister judgment to the people in uprightness.”

Here Solomon is apparently speaking of the second party which we identified, the impious or ungodly of the children of Adam who turn their backs on God and act wickedly, taking the side of the devil – as Solomon warned at the end of chapter 2 of Wisdom, and has described here since. Here he describes them as “reproach among the dead for evermore”. For that reason we compare this description, and elements of the description of the righteous by Solomon here, to Daniel chapter 12, where we read of the same judgment of Christ: “2 And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.” The everlasting contempt of Daniel must be the “reproach among the dead for evermore” spoken of here in Solomon, as both cases nevertheless describe an eternal state of being, which the bastards shall not have as they shall be destroyed and forgotten.

The words of Solomon here also evoke those of the 59th Psalm, which is also attributed to David: “2 Deliver me from the workers of iniquity, and save me from bloody men. 3 For, lo, they lie in wait for my soul: the mighty are gathered against me; not for my transgression, nor for my sin, O LORD. 4 They run and prepare themselves without my fault: awake to help me, and behold. 5 Thou therefore, O LORD God of hosts, the God of Israel, awake to visit all the heathen: be not merciful to any wicked transgressors. Selah. 6 They return at evening: they make a noise like a dog, and go round about the city. 7 Behold, they belch out with their mouth: swords are in their lips: for who, say they, doth hear? 8 But thou, O LORD, shalt laugh at them; thou shalt have all the heathen in derision.”

However now we must admit, that in the verse which follows, even Wisdom seems to confound our interpretation, or to confound the distinction between the ungodly and the bastards, as Solomon continues with his description of the ungodly and says:

19 For he shall rend them, and cast them down headlong, that they shall be speechless; and he shall shake them from the foundation; and they shall be utterly laid waste, and be in sorrow; and their memorial shall perish.

Once again, the translation is not literal and contains innovations. As a digression, the Greek verb χερσόομαι, or χερσόω, which is to be barren or here, laid waste, first appears in the Septuagint and is not found in Classical or Hellenistic writings.

Because of the innovations, we would render this verse to read:

19 And they shall be after this for dishonored corpses, for a reproach among the dead throughout the age [or forever], because He shall throw them down speechless headlong [or prostrate] and He shall shake them from the foundations and unto the end they shall be barren, and they shall be in grief [or sorrow] and their memory shall perish.

We see another portrait of the ungodly, which includes those who would justify the ungodly, in Proverbs chapter 24, and this same concept, of the ungodly – or foolish, as Solomon also described them – becoming barren and destitute, where this same verb was used: “24 He that says of the ungodly, He is righteous, shall be cursed by peoples, and hateful among the nations…. 30 A foolish man is like a farm, and a senseless man is like a vineyard. 31 If thou let him alone, he will altogether remain barren and covered with weeds; and he becomes destitute, and his stone walls are broken down.”

Now, the final passage of the chapter reveals that Wisdom does not confound our interpretation, for if the memory of the ungodly were lost completely, how could they be convicted of their sins? And if they were destroyed in spirit as well as in body, how could they even account for their sins?

20 And when they cast up the accounts of their sins, they shall come with fear: and their own iniquities shall convince them to their face.

We would translate this verse to read:

20 They shall appear in fear at the reckoning of their sins then He shall convict them in the face of their iniquities.

According to the Scriptures, the Law was only given to the children of Israel, as we see in the 147th Psalm, and sin is transgression of the law, as the apostle John informs us in the third chapter of his first epistle, while sin is not imputed where there is no law, as Paul attests in Romans chapter 5. So here the ungodly must be from that second party which we had identified: men of the children of Israel who had turned their backs on Yahweh their God, because they are being called to account for their sins.

So this is why we equate this passage to Daniel chapter 12, and, as we shall see, to Paul’s explanation of rewards and the works of men which he explained in chapter 3 of his first epistle to the Corinthians where he wrote: “11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; 13 Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. 14 If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. 15 If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” A man, even if his spirit is preserved, who is left without reward certainly would be barren at the end, as Solomon suggested here in verse 19, and perhaps because he had no works, the memory of his life shall be forgotten, while he continues on in everlasting contempt.

In Isaiah chapter 29, there is room for repentance and understanding for all of the children of Israel where we read: “22 Therefore thus saith the LORD, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob, Jacob shall not now be ashamed, neither shall his face now wax pale. 23 But when he seeth his children, the work of mine hands, in the midst of him, they shall sanctify my name, and sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and shall fear the God of Israel. 24 They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmured shall learn doctrine.”

This is the only way that I can imagine in which we can interpret all of these Scriptures and see that they are all true, and that there is no conflict to resolve even if our understanding is not entirely perfect. Now, as this narrative continues in chapter 5 of the Wisdom of Solomon, he contrasts the reward of the righteous to the end of the wicked who witness it, and this further supports our interpretation of all of these Scriptures:

Wisdom 5:1 Then shall the righteous man stand in great boldness before the face of such as have afflicted him, and made no account of his labours.

As we have been asserting that the righteous man depicted by Solomon here is also a type for Christ, this is also true of Him as it says in a Messianic prophecy in Zechariah chapter 12, evidently speaking of the Israelites in Judaea who sided with His adversaries, “and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced”.

2 When they see it, they shall be troubled with terrible fear, and shall be amazed at the strangeness of his salvation, so far beyond all that they looked for.

Here Solomon refers to the disregard which the ungodly have for the works of the righteous as they live. So when they witness the reward of the righteous, it is evident that the ungodly shall come to realize, lament and even repent of the error of their ways. While we saw in Isaiah chapter 29 that “24 They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmured shall learn doctrine”, here we see the beginning of that process, even if it is far too late for them to have any reward in the Kingdom of Yahweh.

While it is only one of a couple of possible interpretations, perhaps the reward of the righteous and the contrasting salvations of those who are resurrected to eternal life and those who are resurrected to everlasting contempt is further described where the City of God come down from heaven is described, and we read in Revelation chapter 22: “14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. 15 For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.” Since all of the enemies of Yahweh and of Christ have already been destroyed at this point, since the goat nations, the devil and his angels, and hell and death, even the beast and the false prophet, are already cast into the Lake of Fire, then perhaps this describes the eternal contempt of Daniel chapter 12, and the reward of the righteous is the right to enter into the city of God.

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