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Sapiéntia—Finding God through the
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 her glory;
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 the earth.
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 held sway.
7. Among all these I sought a resting place; in whose inheritance should I abide?
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 inheritance.'
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, his heritage.
13. "Like a cedar on Lebanon I am raised aloft, like a cypress on Mount Hermon,
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 place.
16. I spread out my branches like a terebinth, my branches so bright and so graceful.
17. I bud forth delights like the vine, my blossoms become fruit fair and rich.
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 honeycomb.
20. He who eats of me will hunger still, he who drinks of me will thirst for more;
21. He who obeys me will not be put to shame, he who serves me will never fail."
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 harvest time.
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 abyss.
28. Now I, like a rivulet from her stream, channeling the waters into a garden,
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 afar off.
31. Thus do I pour out instruction like prophecy and bestow it on generations to come.

    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 world ( 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 stand;
3. By the gates at the approaches of the city, in the entryways she cries aloud:
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 attain knowledge.
10.  Receive my instruction in preference to silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold.
11.  (For Wisdom is better than corals, and no choice possessions can compare with her.)
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 understanding.
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 silver.
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 forth;
26.  While as yet the earth and the fields were not made, nor the first clods of the world.
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 earth;
29.  When he set for the sea its limit, so that the waters should not transgress his command;
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 say,
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 increased."
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 pleasing!"
18.  Little he knows that the shades are there, that in the depths of the nether world are her guests!


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