Lord Almighty, God of Israel, here be lives in jeopardy, here be troubled hearts, that plead with thee!
Listen, Lord, and have mercy, none so merciful as thou; pardon the sins that lie open in thy sight.
Thou reignest for ever; must we for ever be lost?
Lord Almighty, God of Israel, listen to the prayer Israel makes to thee from the grave!✻ Our fathers it was that defied the Lord their God, and gave no heed to him; and to us, their sons, the punishment clings.
Forget the wrong they did, those fathers of ours; remember thy ancient power, thy own honour, this day;
only to thee, the Lord our God, shall praise of ours be given.
Why else hast thou inspired us with such dread of thee? Thou wouldst have us learn to invoke thy name, to utter thy praise, here as exiles, in proof that we disown the wrong our fathers did, when their sins defied thee.
Exiles we are this day, dispersed by thee to suffer scorn and reviling, until we have made amends for all the wrong our fathers did when they abandoned thee, abandoned the Lord our God.
Listen, Israel, to the warnings that shall bring thee life; give attentive audience, if thou wouldst learn to be wise.
What means it, Israel, that thou findest thyself in the enemy’s land,
grown old in exile, unclean as a dead body, no more taken into account than men who have gone down into their graves?
It is because thou hast forsaken the fountain whence all wisdom comes.
If thou hadst but followed the path God shewed thee, thou mightest have lived in peace eternally.
Learn where to find wisdom, and strength, and discernment; so thou wilt find length of years, too, and true life, and cheerfulness, and peace.
Who can tell where wisdom dwells, who has made his way into her store-house?
What has become of those heathen princes, who gained mastery of the beasts that roam the earth,
tamed the birds for their pastime;
heaping up silver and gold, man’s confidence, man’s interminable quest? How anxiously they toiled for wealth! And now these devices of theirs are beyond our tracing.
They disappeared, went to their graves, and other succeeded them;
a younger generation saw the light and peopled the earth in its turn; but still they could not find their way to the true wisdom,
the path to it was hidden still. Their children, too, clutched at it in vain, it was as far as ever from their reach.
In Chanaan, none had heard tell of it, in Theman none had caught sight of it;
even the sons of Agar, so well schooled in earthly wisdom, even the merchants of Merrha and Theman, with all their store of legend, their skill and cunning laboriously gained, never found the track of true wisdom, or told us what its haunts were.
Israel, how wide is God’s house, how spacious is his domain,
large beyond all bound, high beyond all measure!✻
The heroes of old were nurtured there, men whose fame has come down to us from the beginning of time, huge in stature, great warriors;
but it was not these God had chosen; they died without ever attaining true knowledge.
Not for them was the possession of wisdom, and in their folly they perished.
What man ever scaled heaven, gained wisdom there, and brought it back from the clouds?
What man ever crossed the sea, and found it there, brought it back like a cargo of pure gold?
The path to it none may know, the clue of it none may find.
Only he who knows all things possesses it, only his mind conceives it. He it is who framed the abiding earth, and filled it with cattle and four-footed beasts of every kind.
It is on his errand that the light goes forth, his summons that it obeys with awe;
joyfully the stars shine out, keeping the watches he has appointed,
answer when he calls their muster-roll, and offer their glad radiance to him who fashioned them.
Such a God is ours; what rival will be compared to him?
He it is who has the key to all knowledge, and gave it to his servant Jacob, to the well-loved race of Israel;
not till then would he reveal himself on earth, and hold converse with mortal men.
The Holy Bible