The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Book of Ecclesiasticus
Hear now how wisdom speaks in her own regard, of the honour God has given her, of the boast she utters among the nation that is hers.
In the court of the most High, in the presence of all his host, she makes her boast aloud,
and here, amid the holy gathering of her own people, that high renown of hers is echoed;
praise is hers from God’s chosen, blessing from blessed lips.
I am that word, she says, that was uttered by the mouth of the most High, the primal birth before ever creation began.
Through me light rose in the heavens, inexhaustible; it was I that covered, as with a mist, the earth.
In high heaven was my dwelling-place, my throne a pillar of cloud;
none but I might span the sky’s vault, pierce the depth of the abyss, walk on the sea’s waves;
no part of earth but gave a resting-place to my feet.
People was none, nor any race of men, but I had dominion there;
high and low, my power ruled over men’s hearts. Yet with all these I sought rest in vain; it is among the Lord’s people that I mean to dwell.
He who fashioned me, he, my own Creator, has found me a dwelling-place;
and his command to me was that I should find my home in Jacob, throw in my lot with Israel, take root among his chosen race.
From the beginning of time, before the worlds, he had made me, unfailing to all eternity; in his own holy dwelling-place I had waited on his presence;
and now, no less faithfully, I made Sion my stronghold, the holy city my resting-place, Jerusalem my throne.
My roots spread out among the people that enjoys his favour, my God has granted me a share in his own domain; where his faithful servants are gathered I love to linger.
I grew to my full stature as cedar grows on Lebanon, as cypress on Sion’s hill;
or a palm tree in Cades, or a rose bush in Jericho;
grew like some fair olive in the valley, some plane-tree in a well-watered street.
Cinnamon and odorous balm have no scent like mine; the choicest myrrh has no such fragrance.
Perfumed is all my dwelling-place with storax, and galbanum, and onycha, and stacte, and frankincense uncrushed; the smell of me is like pure balm.
Mastic-tree spread not its branches so wide, as I the hopes I proffer of glory and of grace.
No vine ever yielded fruit so fragrant; the enjoyment of honour and riches is the fruit I bear.
It is I that give birth to all noble loving, all reverence, all true knowledge, and the holy gift of hope.
From me comes every grace of faithful observance, from me all promise of life and vigour.
Hither turn your steps, all you that have learned to long for me; take your fill of the increase I yield.
Never was honey so sweet as the influence I inspire, never honey-comb as the gift I bring;
mine is a renown that endures, age after age.
Eat of this fruit, and you will yet hunger for more; drink of this wine, and your thirst for it is still unquenched.
He who listens to me will never be disappointed; he who lives by me will do no wrong;
he who reads my lesson aright will find in it life eternal.
What things are these I write of? What but the life-giving book that is the covenant of the most High, and the revelation of all truth?
What but the law Moses enjoined, with the duties it prescribes, the inheritance it bestows, the promises it holds out?
Solemnly he pledged himself to give his servant David an heir most valiant, that should hold his royal throne for ever.
Who but he✻ can make wisdom flow, deep as the stream Phison sends down, or Tigris, in the spring;
make the tide of prudence run, strong as Euphrates’ own, or Jordan’s tide in the month of harvest;
make obedience rise to its full height, like Nile✻ or Gehon when men gather the vintage?
He it was that first attained to wisdom’s secret, never since made known to any less than himself;
so deep are her thoughts, sea-deep, so dark her counsels, dark as the great abyss.
From me rivers flow, says Wisdom, deep rivers.
And what am I?✻ A conduit that carries off the river’s overflow, its channel, the aqueduct that waters a park.
I thought to refresh my well-set garden, give drink to the fruits that fringe its border;
and all at once my channel overflowed, this stream of mine had nigh turned into a sea!
Teaching is here like the dawn for brightness, shedding its rays afar.
Nay, I will make my way down to the depths of earth, and visit those who sleep there, and to such as trust in the Lord I will bring light.
My teaching shall yet flow on, faithful as prophecy, heirloom to all such as make wisdom their quest, and to their children yet, until the holy days come.
See how I have toiled, not for my own sake merely, but for all such as covet wisdom!
The Holy Bible