1Indeed, she spans the world from end to end mightily
and governs all things well.a
Wisdom, the Source of Blessings
2Her I loved and sought after from my youth;
I sought to take her for my bride*
and was enamored of her beauty.b
3She adds to nobility the splendor of companionship with God;
even the Ruler of all loved her.
4For she leads into the understanding of God,
and chooses his works.c
5If riches are desirable in life,
what is richer than Wisdom, who produces all things?d
6And if prudence is at work,e
who in the world is a better artisan than she?
7Or if one loves righteousness,
whose works are virtues,
She teaches moderation and prudence,
righteousness and fortitude,*
and nothing in life is more useful than these.
8Or again, if one yearns for wide experience,
she knows the things of old, and infers the things to come.
She understands the turns of phrases and the solutions of riddles;
signs and wonders she knows in advance
and the outcome of times and ages.f
Wisdom as Solomon’s Counselor and Comfort
9So I determined to take her to live with me,
knowing that she would be my counselor while all was well,
and my comfort in care and grief.
10Because of her I have glory among the multitudes,g
and esteem from the elders, though I am but a youth.
11I shall become keen in judgment,
and shall be a marvel before rulers.
12They will wait while I am silent and listen when I speak;
and when I shall speak the more,
they will put their hands upon their mouths.*
13Because of her I shall have immortality
and leave to those after me an everlasting memory.h
14I shall govern peoples, and nations will be my subjects—i
15tyrannical princes, hearing of me, will be afraid;
in the assembly I shall appear noble, and in war courageous.
16Entering my house, I shall take my repose beside her;
For association with her involves no bitterness
and living with her no grief,
but rather joy and gladness.j
Wisdom Is a Gift of God
17Reflecting on these things,
and considering in my heart
That immortality lies in kinship with Wisdom,k
18great delight in love of her,
and unfailing riches in the works of her hands;
And that in associating with her there is prudence,
and fair renown in sharing her discourses,
I went about seeking to take her for my own.
19* Now, I was a well-favored child,
and I came by a noble nature;
20or rather, being noble, I attained an unblemished body.
21And knowing that I could not otherwise possess her unless God gave it—
and this, too, was prudence, to know whose gift she is—
I went to the LORD and besought him,l
and said with all my heart:
* [8:2] I loved…my bride: the erotic quality in the pursuit of and living with Woman Wisdom, who is the Lord’s consort (9:4) and loved by him, continues throughout this chapter (vv. 16, 18). It is reflected already in Prv 4:5–9; 7:4–5. See also Sir 15:2–5; 51:13–21.
* [8:7] Moderation…fortitude: known also as the cardinal virtues, and recognized in Greek philosophy (Plato).
* [8:19–20] Here the author mentions first bodily, then spiritual, excellence. To make it plain that the latter is the governing factor in the harmonious development of the human person, he then reverses the order. The Platonic doctrine of the pre-existence of the soul is often read into these lines, but such an anthropology does not seem to be the intent of the author (cf. 7:1–6). Verse 20 appears to rule out any misunderstanding of v. 19. Verse 21 emphasizes that he did not bring talent to his “birth”; his wisdom is the gift of God.