The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Book of Wisdom
With Moses set apart for his spokesman,✻ to what good issue he brought all their enterprises!
Through desert solitudes they journeyed on, pitching their camp far from the haunts of men;
boldly they confronted their enemy, and overcame his malice.
When they were thirsty, on thy name they called, and out of the rock’s sheer face water was given to heal their thirst, out of the hard flint.
Strange likeness between the punishment that befell their enemies,✻ who went thirsty while Israel had drink to their heart’s content,
and the relief of their want Israel now experienced!
Thou who once, into defiling blood, hadst troubled the sources of a living stream,
to avenge a murderous edict against new-born children, didst now give thy people abundant water to drink, by means unlooked for.
How ill it had gone with their adversaries in Egypt, that thirst of theirs in the desert plainly shewed them;
in mercy schooled, yet sorely tried, they learned to know what torments the wicked had undergone, forfeit to thy vengeance.
For Israel, only a test of their faith; only a father’s correction; for Egypt, as from a king, stern scrutiny and stern doom.
Tidings from far away, that racked the Egyptians no less than their own former sufferings;
anguish redoubled, as they groaned over the memory of things past!
That the same plague of thirst which had tortured themselves should be the source of Israel’s rejoicing! Then indeed they felt the Lord’s power, then indeed they wondered at the revenge time had brought;
wondered at Moses, whom their insolence had long ago disinherited, when they exposed him with the other children. Thirst, that had been Egypt’s enemy, had no terrors for the just.
So lost to piety were these Egyptians, such foolish reasonings led them astray, that they worshipped brute✻ reptiles, and despicable vermin. And swarms of brute beasts thou didst send to execute thy vengeance,
for the more proof that a man’s own sins are the instrument of his punishment.
Thy power knows no restraint, the power that created an ordered world out of dark chaos. It had been easy to send a plague of bears upon them, or noble lions;
or to form new creatures, of a ferocity hitherto unknown, breathing fiery breath, churning out foul fumes, terrible sparks darting from their eyes,
so that men would die of fear at their very aspect, without waiting for proof of their power to do harm.
Nay, without more ado thou mightest have overthrown them with a single blast; all at once their sins should have found them out, thy fierce breath whirled them away; but no, all thou doest is done in exact measure, all is nicely calculated and weighed.
No moment passes but thou, if thou wilt, canst shew thyself supreme; that arm has power there is no withstanding;
the whole world, matched against thee, is but a scruple on the balance, is but a drop of dew, falling to earth at sunrise.
Only thou art all-merciful, as befits the Almighty, and dost overlook our human slips, in hope of our repentance.
All things thou lovest, nor holdest any of thy creatures in abhorrence; hate and create thou couldst not,
nor does aught abide save at thy will, whose summoning word holds them in being.
They are thine, and thou sparest them; all things that live thou lovest, thou, the Master of them all.
The Holy Bible