The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Book of Wisdom
(Wisdom more avails than strength; for a man of prudence, the warrior is no match.)✻
A word, then, for kings’ ears to hear, kings’ hearts to heed; a message for you, rulers, wherever you be!
Listen well, all you that have multitudes at your command, foreign hordes to do your bidding.
Power is none but comes to you from the Lord, nor any royalty but from One who is above all. He it is that will call you to account for your doings, with a scrutiny that reads your inmost thoughts;
you that held his commission and were false to it, justice neglected, the law set aside, his divine will transgressed.
Swift and terrible shall be his coming; strictly his doom falls where heads rise high.
For the meanest, there may be pardon; for greatness, greater torment is reserved.
What, should he cringe before high rank, stand in awe of a name, he, the Lord of a universe, that made great and little alike, that cares alike for all?
Who most has power, him the sharpest pains await.
Do you, then, royal sirs (for my warning touches none so nearly), learn wisdom’s lesson, and save yourselves from ruin.
He that would find soul’s health, holy must be and hallowed precepts observe; master these he must, if he would make good his defence.
Cherish these warnings of mine, and greedily devour them for your instruction.
The bright beacon of wisdom, that never burns dim, how readily seen by eyes that long for it, how open to their search!
Nay, she is beforehand with these her suitors, ready to make herself known to them;
no toilsome quest is his, that is up betimes to greet her; she is there, waiting at his doors.
Why, to entertain the very thought of her is maturity of the mind; one night’s vigil, and all thy cares are over.
She goes her rounds, to find men worthy of her favours; in the open street unveils that smiling face of hers, comes deliberately to meet them.
The very first step towards wisdom is the desire for discipline,
and how should a man care for discipline without loving it, or love it without heeding its laws, or heed its laws without winning immortality,
or win immortality without drawing near to God?
A royal road it is, then, this desire for wisdom,
and you, that have nations under your sway, as you value throne and sceptre, must hold wisdom in honour; how else shall your reign be eternal?
(A welcome light hers should be to the world’s princes.)
What wisdom is, whence came its birth, I will now make known to you. Not for me to withhold the secret; from first to last I will tell the story of her origin, bring to light all that may be known of her, no word of the truth passed by.
Withhold it? Nay, the pale miser that grudges his store was never friend of mine; no such character befits the wise.
Wide let wisdom be spread, for the more health of mankind; what better security for a people, than prudence on the throne?
Learn, then, who will, the lesson of discernment; at my charges, and to his profit.
The Holy Bible