2Therefore you rebuke offenders little by little,
warn them, and remind them of the sins they are committing,
that they may abandon their wickedness and believe in you, Lord!
3For truly, the ancient inhabitants of your holy land,b
4whom you hated for deeds most odious—
works of sorcery and impious sacrifices;
5These merciless murderers of children,
devourers of human flesh,*
and initiates engaged in a blood ritual,
6and parents who took with their own hands defenseless lives,c
You willed to destroy by the hands of our ancestors,
7that the land that is dearest of all to you
might receive a worthy colony of God’s servants.d
8But even these you spared, since they were but mortals
and sent wasps as forerunners of your army
that they might exterminate them by degrees.e
9Not that you were without power to have the wicked vanquished in battle by the righteous,
or wiped out at once by terrible beasts or by one decisive word;f
10But condemning them by degrees, you gave them space for repentance.
You were not unaware that their origins were wicked
and their malice ingrained,g
And that their dispositions would never change;
11for they were a people accursed from the beginning.
Neither out of fear for anyone
did you grant release from their sins.h
12For who can say to you, “What have you done?”
or who can oppose your decree?
Or when peoples perish, who can challenge you, their maker;
or who can come into your presence to vindicate the unrighteous?i
13For neither is there any god besides you who have the care of all,
that you need show you have not unjustly condemned;j
14Nor can any king or prince confront you on behalf of those you have punished.k
15But as you are righteous, you govern all things righteously;
you regard it as unworthy of your power
to punish one who has incurred no blame.l
16For your might is the source of righteousness;
your mastery over all things makes you lenient to all.m
17For you show your might when the perfection of your power is disbelieved;
and in those who know you, you rebuke insolence.* n
18But though you are master of might, you judge with clemency,
and with much lenience you govern us;
for power, whenever you will, attends you.
19You taught your people, by these deeds,o
that those who are righteous must be kind;
And you gave your children reason to hope
that you would allow them to repent for their sins.
20For these were enemies of your servants, doomed to death;
yet, while you punished them with such solicitude and indulgence,
granting time and opportunity to abandon wickedness,
21With what exactitude you judged your children,
to whose ancestors you gave the sworn covenants of goodly promises!p
22Therefore to give us a lesson you punish our enemies with measured deliberation
so that we may think earnestly of your goodness when we judge,
and, when being judged, we may look for mercy.
Second Example Resumed
23Hence those unrighteous who lived a life of folly,
you tormented through their own abominations.q
24For they went far astray in the paths of error,
taking for gods the worthless and disgusting among beasts,
being deceived like senseless infants.r
25Therefore as though upon unreasoning children,
you sent your judgment on them as a mockery;s
26But they who took no heed of a punishment which was but child’s play
were to experience a condemnation worthy of God.
27For by the things through which they suffered distress,
being tortured by the very things they deemed gods,
They saw and recognized the true God whom formerly they had refused to know;
with this, their final condemnation* came upon them.t
* [12:5] The horrible crimes here attributed to the Canaanites (cf. also 14:23) were not unheard of in the ancient world.
* [12:17] The brunt of divine anger and justice is borne by those who know God but defy divine authority and might. Cf. 1:2; 15:2, but also 12:27; 18:13.
* [12:27] Condemnation: the death of Egyptian firstborn and the destruction of their army in the sea.
b. [12:3–6] Wis 14:23; Dt 18:9–12; Ps 5:6; 106:28, 34–39; Jer 19:4–5; Ez 16:3, 20–21, 36.
e. [12:8] Ex 23:28–30; Dt 7:17–24.
f. [12:9] Wis 11:18; 18:15; Nm 16:21.
g. [12:10] Wis 11:23; Ps 55:20; Sir 16:9.
i. [12:12] 2 Sm 16:10; Eccl 8:4; Sir 46:19; Is 45:9; Dn 4:32; Rom 9:19–21.
j. [12:13] Wis 6:7; Dt 3:24; 32:39; Is 44:6, 8.
l. [12:15] Gn 18:23–32; Dt 32:4.
m. [12:16] Wis 2:11; 11:26; Ps 103:19.
n. [12:17] Wis 15:2–3; Ex 9:16.
o. [12:19–20] Wis 11:23; Sir 17:24.
p. [12:21] Wis 18:22; Gn 50:24; Dt 7:6–14; Ps 105:8–11.
r. [12:24] Dt 11:28; Jer 5:28; Rom 1:23.