The experience of exile in the 500s BC expanded and shifted Israel’s images of God. The great warrior of early centuries who opened the dry path through the sea retreats and the compassionate creator who provides in abundance comes forward in the Wisdom literature — God the householder, who from the beginning sets the world on its firm foundation and gives it life.
In Sunday’s first reading the writer of the Wisdom of Solomon testifies that God’s generative forces enliven the world. God creates all that exists and delights in all that lives. The first chapter of Genesis with its proclamation that God’s word creates and all that God makes is good comes out of this post-exilic era.
The Book of Wisdom gives practical advice about how to live. The foolish person revels in wine and pleasure, considers might the law of right, and oppresses the poor. The foolish find amusement in torturing and testing the just to see how they stand up and whether God intervenes to save them.
The wise person sees God at work in creation and alive in one’s own potential for good. The author of Wisdom sees humankind made in the image of God, made for eternity and incorruption. The author reasons that a just and righteous life must last forever.
God gives life.
God did not make death
and does not delight
in the death of the living.
For God created all things
so that they might exist.
The generative forces of the world are wholesome;
there is no destructive poison
in them; the dominion
of Hades is not on earth.
For righteousness is immortal.
God created us for incorruption,
and made us in the image
of God’s own eternity,
but through the devil’s envy
death entered the world,
and those who belong to
the devil’s company experience it.
Wisdom 1.13-15; 2.23-24
- What is the earthly value of a wise and just life? The eternal value?
- How does Jewish faith in God as creator move toward belief in eternal life?