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THE WISDOM OF SOLOMON.
INTRODUCTION. THE works of Solomon in general were emphatically styled the Books of Wisdom, and were so cited by the
Fathers; and in the ecclesiastical language the Book of Wisdom comprehends not only all the authentick books of Solomon, but also Ecclesiasticus, and this which is called “the Book of Wisdom,” or according to the Greek “ the Wisdom of Solomon.” The author of this book assumes the title, and speaks in the character, of that monarch; but though the book may perhaps contain some sentiments selected from his works, and others ascribed to him by tradition, it cannot be received as an inspired book, and it was certainly composed long after the time of Solomon.
The copy, which has the highest pretensions to be considered as the original, is in Greek prose. But in what
ever language the book was written, it has always been esteemed as a treasure of wisdom. It was composed in imitation of the style of Solomon ; though perhaps designed not to pass for his work, but to communicate such instructions as might be consistent with this assumed character. The antiquity and high importance of the book appear to have excited great reverence in the ancient church : but the Fathers in general, however they might be dazzled by particular passages, or might consider them as fragments of inspired writings, represent this book as inferiour to the canonical books; they esteem it as a work of admirable tendency, and as
of a scriptural character, but not as absolutely derived from the suggestions of the Holy Spirit. The book was probably written by an Hellenistical Jew; but, whether before or after Christ, has been disputed.
Grotius is of opinion that it was originally written in Hebrew by a Jew, who lived at some time intermediate between Ezra and Simon the Just; and that it was translated by a Christian with some freedoin and with additions of evangelical doctrine. But the style, as St. Jerome has observed, indicates rather the artificial contexture of Grecian eloquence, than the terseness and compressive simplicity of the Hebrew language. The book is also replete with allusions to Greek mythology, and with imitations of Grecian writers; with whose works, and especially with those of Plato, the author appears to have been intimately acquainted. Upon the whole, there is reason to believe that the work was written previously to the birth of Christ. It is probable that, since it professes to be the production of Solomon, it was published under the Jewish dispensation, as indeed by the generality of writers it was thought to be. And the supposed resemblances between passages in this book, and others in the New Testament, may be thought on examination to be either imitations of similar passages in the sacred books of the Old Testament ; or such casual coincidences of
sentiments or expressions, as may be found between all works treating of the same subject. Though this work be not derived from that infallible Spirit, of which the stamp and character are to be found
only in the sacred books, it was evidently the production of a pious and enlightened mind; of one, who by application to revealed wisdom had acquired some portion of its excellence, and learned to imitate its language. And except in some few passages, where we are tempted to suspect a taint of false philosophy, chap. viii. 20; or some fictitious additions to the accounts of sacred history, chap. xvi. 17-19; xvii. 3–6; there is nothing in the book inconsistent with the accounts, or unfavourable to the designs, of revelation: it offers much sublime admonition to the princes and leaders of mankind; it paints in very eloquent description the folly and consequences of idolatry; it overthrows many pernicious errours, and delivers just information concerning a future life and judgment. The six first chapters, which form as it were a preface to the book, are a kind of paraphrase of the nine first chapters of the book of Proverbs; in the seventh and eighth chapters the author proposes himself as an example under the name of Solomon; the ninth chapter is a paraphrase of the prayer which Solomon made to the Lord at the beginning of his reign; and from the tenth chapter to the end is a continuation of the same prayer dilated; which though extended to a considerable length by the intermixture of nice disquisitions and extraneous discourse, is still apparently imperfect. The style of the book is various; although sometimes turgid, it is not seldom elegant and sublime: it abounds in epithets and poetical imagery. The author often imitates the sententious periods of Solomon, but with less success, says Bishop Lowth, than the author of the succeeding book. Dr. Gray.
2 Chron. 15.
Lord with a good (heart), and in
simplicity of heart seek him.
himself unto such as do not distrust b Deut. 4. 29, a 1 Kings 3. aT OVE righteousness, ye that be him. Isai. 56. 1. I judges of the earth: think of the 3 For froward thoughts separate
Chap. I. ver. 1.- in simplicity of heart] With sin- “tempt God,” who do not trust in Him. Grotius. Or cerity and singleness of heart, as Coverdale renders it, rather “tempting God” may be understood, most agreein opposition to double-mindedness, which the Scripture ably with the context, of every instance of hypocrisy so frequently condemns. Arnald.
and disguise. Arnald. 2. — that tempt him not ;] Those are here said to: 3. For froward thoughts &c.] The sense of the whole
I OT, slanderela
Apocrypha. from God: and his power, when it is go for nought: and the mouth that | Or, maketh tried, || reproveth the unwise. lī belieth slayeth the soul.
4 För into a malicious soul wisdom 12 Seek not death in the error of shall not enter; nor dwell in the body your life: and pull not upon yourthat is subject unto sin.
selves e destruction with the works of e Deut. 4. 21. c Jer. 4. 22. 5 · For the holy spirit of discipline your hands.
will flee deceit, and remove from 13 For God made not death :
thoughts that are without understand- neither hath he pleasure in the de| 0r, is ing, and I will not abide when un-struction of the living sheweth itself. righteousness cometh in.
14 For he created all things, that d Gal. 5. 22. 6 For wisdom is a d loving spirit; they might have their being: and
and will not acquit a blasphemer of the generations of the world were | Or, lips. his || words : for God is witness of healthful; and there is no poison of
his reins, and a true beholder of his destruction in them, nor the kingdom
7 For the Spirit of the Lord filleth 15 (For righteousness is immortal:)
for when they thought to have it
1 The wicked think this life short, 5 and of
no other after this : 6 therefore they will and the sound of his words shall come
take their pleasure in this, 10 and conspire
doth blind them.
a Our life is short and tedious, and a Job:..
1 Cor. 15. 22
verse seems to be to this effect : Guileful thoughts set and if he had continued upright, his obedience would us at a distance from God and His truth; He is too have been crowned with it. Arnald. great and powerful a Being to be treated with art or 14. For he created all things, that they might hare their craft; and when men presume so to act towards Him, being :] And not that they might perish; he created they are sure to suffer for their folly. Arnald.
all things originally perfect and good. Calmet. 5. — the holy spirit of discipline] An Hebraism for -- and the generations of the world were healthful :) the spirit which instructs and informs. Badwell. The world at the beginning was so created that there
6. For wisdom is a loving spirit ;] That is, is benevo was no evil in it. For “God saw every thing that he lent to mankind, and therefore will not suffer a blas- had made, and, behold, it was very good.” Badwell. phemer to escape with impunity, for that would be an - and there is no poison of destruction in then, A. injury to mankind in general. Clarius.
the author is speaking of the original state of the cre7. — hath knowledge of the voice.] Namely, of the ation, the sense would be better if we were to real voices of all men, and is acquainted with all things “there was no poison;" namely, when God created that can be uttered by the tongue. Clarius. See Ps. them. Arnald, Calmet. cxxxix. 4.
16. — called it to them :) Namely, death. What fol10. For the ear of jealousy heareth all things :) That lows about the wicked making a covenant with deata. is, God overheareth every thing ; especially complaints is an allusion to Isaiah, chap. xxviii. 14, 15. The worde against the dispensations of His providence cannot be as they now stand are intricate, and seem to have suf. kept secret from Him, who is "jealous" of His own fered a transposition. The following alteration wouli honour. Arnald.
make the construction clear: “ Ungodly men wito 11. – which is unprofitable ;] That is, very mischiev- | their words and works called it to them; and lookin: ous and hurtful. Compare Prov. xx. 23; Rom. i. 28. upon it as their friend, they made a covenant with it, Arnald.
and consumed away, because they deserved to share 12. Seek not death in the errour of your life :) Do in it.” Arnald. not. commit sin, and so bring death upon yourself. Castellio.
Chap. II. ver. 1. - Our life is short and tediou, 13. For God made not death: &c.) Man in his state Rather " short and painful,” as the original signifci. of innocence had the pleasing prospect of immortality; | Compare Gen. xlvii. 9; Job xiv. 1. Arnald.
hoke, and a little the righteous; he is clean contrar With
1 Or, oppressed
3 Which being extinguished, our our turn, and he is clean contrary to body shall be turned into ashes, and our doings : he upbraideth us with our spirit shall vanish as the soft air, our offending the law, and objecteth
4 And our name shall be forgotten to our infamy the transgressings of in time, and no man shall have our our education. works in remembrance, and our life 13 He professeth to have the knowshall pass away as the trace of a cloud, ledge of God: and he calleth himself and shall be dispersed as a mist, that the child of the Lord. is driven away with the beams of the 14 He was made e to reprove our e John 7. 7. sun, and || overcome with the heat thoughts. thereof.
15 He is grievous unto us even f Isai. 53. 3. 1 Chron. 29. 5 . For our time is a very shadow to behold: for his life is not like
that passeth away; and after our end other men's, his ways are of another | Or, he. there is no returning : for || it is fast fashion.
sealed, so that no man cometh again. 16 We are esteemed of him as
6 Come on therefore, let us enjoy | || counterfeits : he abstaineth from our ! Or, false d Isai, 22. 13. the good things d that are present: ways as from filthiness : he pronoun1 Cor. 15. 32. and let us || speedily use the creatures ceth the end of the just to be blessed, like as in youth.
and maketh his boast that God is his
8 Let us crown ourselves with rose- the end of him.
9 Let none of us go without his of God, he will help him, and deliver | Or, jollily. part of our || voluptuousness : let us him from the hand of his enemies.
leave tokens of our joyfulness in every 19 Let us h examine him with de- h Jer. 11. 19.
know his meekness, and prove his
ing he shall be respected.
2. For we are born at all adventure :) That is by mere 14. He was made to reprove our thoughts.] Rather, fortune and chance, without any providence and design“ He is a reprover of our schemes and designs.” Arof God. Badwell. This language is very natural, and nald. adapted to the character of the speakers ; namely, ma-' 16. - as counterfeits :7 As adulterated coin; that is, terialists and infidels. Arnald.
spurious children, aliens from the communion of the 5. — for it is fast sealed,] A metaphor taken from children of God. Badwell. See the margin. the practice of sealing things for the purpose of greater 18. For if the just man be the son of God, he will help security. Thus Darius sealed the stone upon the mouth him, &c.] The expressions from ver. 16 to 21 very of the lions' den, Dan. vi. 17. In the same manner much resemble those of the Psalmist, Ps. xxii. 8. Comdeath is here said to be sealed, so that there can be no pare likewise Matt. xxvii. 43; where the insulting lanreturn to life. Badwell.
guage used by the Jews to our Saviour on the cross 6. — speedily] Eagerly, bestowing our whole care much resembles the expressions here. Some of the and desire upon the enjoyment. Badwell. See the Fathers of the Church understood the passage as a promargin.
phecy of Christ's passion : but without regarding it as - like as in youth.] Let us live when we are old, a direct prophecy, we may apply it by way of accomas we lived while we were young. Grotius
modation to our Saviour, who in Scripture is called 8. Let us croun ourselves with rosebuds,] At the feasts “the Just One,” by way of eminence, and in a very of the ancients, not only the guests, but the waiters and particular and appropriate manner calls God “ His even the drinking bowls, were crowned with flowers, Father.” Arnald. and the rooms were strewed with them. Arnald.
20. — for by his own saying he shall be respected.] 11. Let our strength be the law of justice :) So that Rather, “ for his trial shall be according to his own we may esteem just whatever we are able to do; and words," alluding to ver. 16. Arnald. It shall appear, may measure“ the law of justice," not by the equity of whether he be patient and blessed at the last, as he the case, but by our own power. Clarius.
| boasteth. Castellio. VOL. II.
and their dominion udge the nation
27. & 5. 1.
k Gen. 3. 13.
7 And in the time of their visita22 As for the mysteries of God, tion e they shall shine, and run to and e Matt. 13. they knew them not: neither hoped fro like sparks among the stubble.
they for the wages of righteousness, 8 They shall judge the nations, f Matt. 19. + Gr. nor + discerned a reward for blame- and have dominion over the people, 1 Cor. 6. 2. esteemed the' less souls.
and their Lord shall reign for ever. 23 For God created man to be 9 They that put their trust in him
immortal, and made him to be an shall understand the truth : 11 and 1 OT, asd reci i Gen. 1. 26, i image of his own eternity.
such as be faithful in love shall abide shall rescia Ecclus. 17. 3. 24 * Nevertheless through envy of with him: for grace and mercy is to
the devil came death into the world: his saints, and he hath care for his
10 But the & ungodly shall be g Matt. 25. CHAP. III.
punished according to their own ima
ginations, which have neglected the
righteous, and forsaken the Lord.
11 For whoso despiseth wisdom
fruitful, and their works unprofita Deut. 33. 3. D UT a the souls of the righteous able :
D are in the hand of God, and there 12 Their wives are || foolish, and I Or, light, shall no torment touch them.
their children wicked:
seemed to die: and their departure is fore blessed is the barren that is un-
defiled, which hath not known the
14 And blessed is the eunuch, i Isai. 36. 4, 1. 4 For though they be punished in which with his hands hath wrought c Rom. 8. 24. the sight of men, yet is their c hope no iniquity, nor imagined wicked 1 Pet. 1. 13. full of immortality.
things against God: for unto him 5 And having been a little chas- shall be given † the special gift of 1 Gr. te Orriz tised, they shall be greatly || reward faith, and an inheritance || in the 1 0r, anak d Exod. 16.4. ed : for God i proved them, and found temple of the Lord more acceptable the } i Or, meet them || worthy for himself.
to his mind. 6 As gold in the furnace hath he 15 For glorious is the fruit of good 21. Such things they did imagine,] That is, “ Thus | - worthy for himself.] Not absolutely so, but acdid they reason," with reference to ver. 1, where the cording to the bountiful and gracious judgment of God. same word is used in the Greek. Arnald.
See Acts xiii. 46; Rev. iii. 4; xvi. 6. Grotius. - their own wickedness hath blinded them.] Not 7. — and run to and fro like sparks among the stubble. unlike what St. Paul says of the wicked, 2 Cor. And run their course, like sparks catching among the iv. 4. It is very observable, that a course of sin and stubble. Calmet. a state of darkness are recriprocal terms in Scripture. 8. They shall judge the nations,] They shall exercise Arnald.
authority, as judges. 24. – they that do hold of his side do find it. They, 13. -'Wherefore blessed is the barren that is undefiled, who having forsaken God follow the devil, by experience &c.] This is to be understood of the barren wife, that is find death to be the consequence. Badwell. It appears chaste and free from adultery, whose great commendafrom the whole tenour of these chapters, that the death tion in Scripture is “ the bed undefiled," Heb. xiii. 4. which wicked men “ covenant with," and at last “ take No reflection is here intended against marriage, nor app part with," is all along to be understood of death or preference given to a continual celibacy: the comparison misery eternal. And if such as “ hold of the devil's is between married persons only; namely, a barten wile, side," that is, imitate and copy after him, shall have and a fruitful adulteress. Arnald. part in this “ second death,” Rev. xxi. 8, let the libertine | she shall have fruit in the visitation of souls.] She and freethinker, who are equally the subject of this shall have a reward better than offspring in the day of chapter, beware and tremble. Arnald.
14. And blessed is the eunuch, &c.] See Isai. lvi. 3; Chap. III. ver. 5. — having been a little chastised, 7 ) and the note there. “ A little,” in comparison with the magnitude of the - the special gift of faith,] Rather, "a gift" of rewards which await them. See Rom. viii, 18; 2 Cor. / reward “ for his faith" or fidelity. Grotius, Arnald. A v. 17. Badwell.
“ special” or “chosen gift;" that is, no trivial and
Hebr. 11. 5.
broken off, their fruit unprofitable, 16 As for the children of adulte-not ripe to eat, yea, meet for nothing. ! Or, be r ers, they shall not ll come to their 6 For children begotten of unlawholy things. perfection, and the seed of an un- ful + beds are witnesses of wickedness + Gr. sleeps.
righteous bed shall be rooted out against their parents in their trial.
17 For though they live long, yet 7 But though the righteous be shall they be nothing regarded and prevented with death, yet shall he be their last age shall be without honour. in rest.
18 Or, if they die quickly, they 8 For honourable age is not that
have no hope, neither comfort in the which standeth in length of time, [ Or, hearing. day of || trial.
nor that is measured by number of
9 But wisdom is the gray hair unto
men, and an unspotted life is old CHAP. IV. .
tard slips shall not thrive. 6 They shall beloved of him: so that living among
away, lest that wickedness should
dren, and to have virtue: for beguile his soul.
honest; and the wandering of concu-
| therefore hasted he to take him away
this in their minds, That his grace 4 For though they flourish in and mercy is with his saints, and that a Matt. 7. 19. branches for a time; a yet standing he hath respect unto his chosen.
· not fast, they shall be shaken with 16 Thus the righteous that is dead
1 Or, approved.
ordinary one, but such as follows, namely, “an inherit with death,] Though he be surprised, quickly carried ance in the temple of the Lord.” Badwell.
off, by death. Calmet. 16. - they shall not come to their perfection,] God - shall he be in rest.] His death should not be conoften denies any offspring, or grants an unhappy one to sidered as an evil, but God will convey him to a place of adulterers. Grotius. According to the marginal reading, rest. Calmet. the sense is the same as in Deut. xxiii. 2. Arnald. 10. He pleased God, &c.] This passage is undoubt
19. For horrible is the end of the unrighteous genera- edly to be understood of Enoch, whom, being the first tion.] What is said in this and the following chapter, of example of eminent sanctity, God was pleased to the sad prospect and miserable fate of the children of translate, as He had condemned the first instance adulterers, is to be understood as spoken, not absolutely, of transgression, to shew His great detestation of sin. but of such as being abandoned and debauched them- | Arnald. selves, follow the vicious courses of their parents. And 13. He, being made perfect &c.] Measuring his life, indeed there is often an hereditary taint in wicked and not by the number of his years, but by the perfection of debauched families, and some particular sins run as it his goodness, by his consummate virtue and extraordiwere in the blood, the seeds of future wickedness. nary sanctity; in the corrupt age in which he lived, he Hence holy Job, speaking of such wicked parents, says may be allowed, to all useful purposes of living, to have in very strong and significant terms, that they lay or fulfilled an honourable age. Arnald. treasure up iniquity for their children, chap. xxi. 19. 16. Thus the righteous — shall condemn the ungodly] Calmet, Arnald.
By leaving without excuse the wicked that outlive him,
and grow old in their wickedness. Arnald. As the men Chap. IV. ver. 7. — though the righteous be prevented of Nineveh, Matt. xii. 41. Grotius.