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Wisdom, CHAPTER 11

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She prospered their affairs through the holy prophet.

INTRODUCTION

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They journeyed through the uninhabited desert,
and in lonely places they pitched their tents;

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they withstood enemies and warded off their foes.

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When they thirsted, they called upon you,
and water was given them from the sheer rock,
a quenching of their thirst from the hard stone.

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For by the things through which their foes were punished
they in their need were benefited.

FIRST EXAMPLE: WATER PUNISHES THE EGYPTIANS AND BENEFITS THE ISRAELITES

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Instead of a river’s perennial source,
troubled with impure blood

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as a rebuke to the decree for the slaying of infants,
You gave them abundant water beyond their hope,

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after you had shown by the thirst they experienced
how you punished their adversaries.

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For when they had been tried, though only mildly chastised,
they recognized how the wicked, condemned in anger, were being tormented.

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You tested your own people, admonishing them as a father;
but as a stern king you probed and condemned the wicked.

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Those near and far were equally afflicted:

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for a twofold grief took hold of them
and a groaning at the remembrance of the ones who had departed.

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For when they heard that the cause of their own torments
was a benefit to these others, they recognized the Lord.

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For though they had mocked and rejected him who had been cast out and abandoned long ago,
in the final outcome, they marveled at him,
since their thirst proved unlike that of the righteous.

SECOND EXAMPLE: ANIMALS PUNISH THE EGYPTIANS AND BENEFIT THE ISRAELITES

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In return for their senseless, wicked thoughts,
which misled them into worshiping dumb serpents and worthless insects,
You sent upon them swarms of dumb creatures for vengeance;

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that they might recognize that one is punished by the very things through which one sins.

DIGRESSION ON GOD’S MERCY

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For not without means was your almighty hand,
that had fashioned the universe from formless matter,
to send upon them many bears or fierce lions,

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Or newly created, wrathful, unknown beasts
breathing forth fiery breath,
Or pouring out roaring smoke,
or flashing terrible sparks from their eyes.

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Not only could these attack and completely destroy them;
even their frightful appearance itself could slay.

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Even without these, they could have been killed at a single blast,
pursued by justice
and winnowed by your mighty spirit.
But you have disposed all things by measure and number and weight.

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For great strength is always present with you;
who can resist the might of your arm?

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Indeed, before you the whole universe is like a grain from a balance,
or a drop of morning dew come down upon the earth.

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But you have mercy on all, because you can do all things;
and you overlook sins for the sake of repentance.

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For you love all things that are
and loathe nothing that you have made;
for you would not fashion what you hate.

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How could a thing remain, unless you willed it;
or be preserved, had it not been called forth by you?

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But you spare all things, because they are yours,
O Ruler and Lover of souls,