Old Testament Personification of Wisdom
Ecclesiasticus or Sirach Chapter 24
In this chapter Wisdom speaks in the first person, describing her origin, her
dwelling place in Israel, and the reward she gives her followers. As in Proverbs 8,
Wisdom is described as a being who comes from God and is distinct from him.
While we do not say with certainty that this description applies to a personal
being, it does foreshadow the beautiful doctrine of the Word of God later
developed in Saint John's Gospel (John 1:1-14). In the liturgy this chapter is
applied to the Blessed Virgin because of her constant and intimate association
with Christ, the Incarnate Wisdom.
1. Wisdom sings her own praises, before her own people she proclaims
2. In the assembly of the Most High she opens her mouth, in the presence of
his hosts she declares her worth:
3. "From the mouth of the Most High I came forth, and mistlike covered
4. In the highest heavens did I dwell, my throne on a pillar of cloud.
5. The vault of heaven I compassed alone, through the deep abyss I wandered.
6. Over waves of the sea, over all the land, over every people and nation I
7. Among all these I sought a resting place; in whose inheritance should I
8. "Then the Creator of all gave me his command, and he who formed me
chose the spot for my tent, Saying, 'In Jacob make your dwelling, in Israel your
9. Before all ages, in the beginning, he created me, and through all ages I
shall not cease to be.
10. In the holy tent I ministered before him, and in Zion I fixed my abode.
11. Thus in the chosen city he has given me rest, in Jerusalem is my domain.
12. I have struck root among the glorious people, in the portion of the LORD,
13. "Like a cedar on Lebanon I am raised aloft, like a cypress on Mount
14. Like a palm tree in En-gedi, like a rosebush in Jericho, Like a fair
olive tree in the field, like a plane tree growing beside the water.
15. Like cinnamon, or fragrant balm, or precious myrrh, I give forth perfume;
Like galbanum and onycha and sweet spices, like the odor of incense in the holy
16. I spread out my branches like a terebinth, my branches so bright and so
17. I bud forth delights like the vine, my blossoms become fruit fair and
18. Come to me, all you that yearn for me, and be filled with my fruits;
19. You will remember me as sweeter than honey, better to have than the
20. He who eats of me will hunger still, he who drinks of me will thirst for
21. He who obeys me will not be put to shame, he who serves me will never
22. All this is true of the book of the Most High's covenant, the law which
Moses commanded us as an inheritance for the community of Jacob.
23. It overflows, like the Pishon, with wisdom - like the Tigris in the days
of the new fruits.
24. It runs over, like the Euphrates, with understanding, like the Jordan at
25. It sparkles like the Nile with knowledge, like the Gihon at vintage time.
26. The first man never finished comprehending wisdom, nor will the last
succeed in fathoming her.
27. For deeper than the sea are her thoughts; her counsels, than the great
28. Now I, like a rivulet from her stream, channeling the waters into a
29. Said to myself, "I will water my plants, my flower bed I will
drench"; And suddenly this rivulet of mine became a river, then this stream
of mine, a sea.
30. Thus do I send my teachings forth shining like the dawn, to become known
31. Thus do I pour out instruction like prophecy and bestow it on generations
Proverbs Chapter 8 & 9
Wisdom is here
personified as in
Proverb 1:20-33, to confirm the words of the teacher of wisdom. She exalts her
grandeur and origin, and invites all (
Proverb 8:1-11) to be attentive to her salutary influence in human society (
Proverb 8:12-21), for she was privileged to be present at the creation of the
Proverb 8:22-31). Finally, she promises life and the favor of God to those who
find her, death to those who despise her.
1. Does not Wisdom call, and Understanding raise her voice?
2. On the top of the heights along the road, at the crossroads she takes her
3. By the gates at the approaches of the city, in the entryways she cries
4. "To you, O men, I call; my appeal is to the children of men.
5. You simple ones, gain resource, you fools, gain sense.
6. "Give heed! for noble things I speak; honesty opens my lips.
7. Yes, the truth my mouth recounts, but the wickedness
my lips abhor.
8. Sincere are all the words of my mouth, no one of them is wily or crooked;
9. All of them are plain to the man of intelligence, and right to those who
10. Receive my instruction in preference to silver, and knowledge rather than
11. (For Wisdom is better than corals, and no choice possessions can compare with
12. "I, Wisdom, dwell with experience, and judicious knowledge I attain.
13. (The fear of the LORD is to hate evil;) Pride, arrogance, the evil way, and
the perverse mouth I hate.
14. Mine are counsel and advice; Mine is strength; I am
15, By me kings reign, and lawgivers establish justice;
16. By me princes govern, and nobles; all the rulers of earth.
17. "Those who love me I also love, and those who seek me find me.
18. With me are riches and honor, enduring wealth and prosperity.
19. My fruit is better than gold, yes, than pure gold, and my revenue than choice
20. On the way of duty I walk, along the paths of justice,
21. Granting wealth to those who love me, and filling their treasuries.
22. "The LORD begot me, the first-born of his ways, the
forerunner of his prodigies of long ago;
23. From of old I was poured forth, at the first, before the earth.
24. When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were
no fountains or springs of water;
25. Before the mountains were settled into place, before the hills, I was brought
26. While as yet the earth and the fields were not made, nor the first clods of
27. "When he established the heavens I was there, when he marked out the
vault over the face of the deep;
28. When he made firm the skies above, when he fixed fast the foundations of the
29. When he set for the sea its limit, so that the waters should not transgress
30. Then was I beside him as his craftsman, and I was his delight
day by day, Playing before him all the while,
31. playing on the surface of his earth; and I found delight in the sons of men.
32. "So now, O children, listen to me;
33. instruction and wisdom do not reject! Happy the man who obeys me, and happy
those who keep my ways,
34. Happy the man watching daily at my gates, waiting at my doorposts;
35. For he who finds me finds life, and wins favor from the LORD;
36. But he who misses me harms himself; all who hate me love death."
Proverbs Chapter 9
1. Wisdom has built her house, she has set up her seven columns;
2. She has dressed her meat, mixed her wine, yes, she has spread her table.
3. She has sent out her maidens; she calls from the heights out
over the city:
4. "Let whoever is simple turn in here; to him who lacks understanding, I
5. Come, eat of my food, and drink of the wine I have mixed!
6. Forsake foolishness that you may live; advance in the way of understanding.
For by me your days will be multiplied and the years of your life
7. He who corrects an arrogant man earns insult; and he who reproves a wicked
man incurs opprobrium.
8. Reprove not an arrogant man, lest he hate you; reprove a wise man, and he
will love you.
9. Instruct a wise man, and he becomes still wiser; teach a just man, and he
advances in learning.
10. The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the LORD, and knowledge of the Holy
One is understanding.
12. If you are wise, it is to your own advantage; and if you are arrogant, you
alone shall bear it.
13. The woman Folly is fickle, she is inane, and knows nothing.
14. She sits at the door of her house upon a seat on the city heights,
15. Calling to passers-by as they go on their straight way:
16. "Let whoever is simple turn in here, or who lacks understanding; for to
him I say,
17. Stolen water is sweet, and bread gotten secretly is
18. Little he knows that the shades are there, that in the depths of
the nether world are her guests!