Sophia Bible Jewish

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The following passages from the Hebrew Bible and the Deutero-Canonical Writings reflect the development of the figure of Lady Wisdom [Gk: Sophia] that is also expressed in early Christian Sophia texts: Sophia Bible Christian



3:13 Happy are those who find wisdom, and those who get understanding, 3:14 for her income is better than silver, and her revenue better than gold. 3:15 She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her. 3:16 Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. 3:17 Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. 3:18 She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called happy. 3:19 The LORD by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding he established the heavens; 3:20 by his knowledge the deeps broke open, and the clouds drop down the dew. 3:21 My child, do not let these escape from your sight: keep sound wisdom and prudence, 3:22 and they will be life for your soul and adornment for your neck. 3:23 Then you will walk on your way securely and your foot will not stumble. 3:24 If you sit down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. 3:25 Do not be afraid of sudden panic, or of the storm that strikes the wicked; 3:26 for the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught.


4:5 Get wisdom; get insight: do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth. 4:6 Do not forsake her, and she will keep you; love her, and she will guard you. 4:7 The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever else you get, get insight. 4:8 Prize her highly, and she will exalt you; she will honor you if you embrace her. 4:9 She will place on your head a fair garland; she will bestow on you a beautiful crown."


7:4 Say to wisdom, "You are my sister," and call insight your intimate friend, 7:5 that they may keep you from the loose woman, from the adulteress with her smooth words.


8:1 Does not wisdom call, and does not understanding raise her voice? 8:2 On the heights, beside the way, at the crossroads she takes her stand; 8:3 beside the gates in front of the town, at the entrance of the portals she cries out: 8:4 "To you, O people, I call, and my cry is to all that live. 8:5 O simple ones, learn prudence; acquire intelligence, you who lack it. 8:6 Hear, for I will speak noble things, and from my lips will come what is right; 8:7 for my mouth will utter truth; wickedness is an abomination to my lips. 8:8 All the words of my mouth are righteous; there is nothing twisted or crooked in them. 8:9 They are all straight to one who understands and right to those who find knowledge. 8:10 Take my instruction instead of silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold; 8:11 for wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you may desire cannot compare with her. 8:12 I, wisdom, live with prudence, and I attain knowledge and discretion. 8:13 The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate. 8:14 I have good advice and sound wisdom; I have insight, I have strength. 8:15 By me kings reign, and rulers decree what is just; 8:16 by me rulers rule, and nobles, all who govern rightly. 8:17 I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me. 8:18 Riches and honor are with me, enduring wealth and prosperity. 8:19 My fruit is better than gold, even fine gold, and my yield than choice silver. 8:20 I walk in the way of righteousness, along the paths of justice, 8:21 endowing with wealth those who love me, and filling their treasuries. 8:22 The LORD created me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of long ago. 8:23 Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth. 8:24 When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water. 8:25 Before the mountains had been shaped, before the hills, I was brought forth-- 8:26 when he had not yet made earth and fields, or the world's first bits of soil. 8:27 When he established the heavens, I was there, when he drew a circle on the face of the deep, 8:28 when he made firm the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep, 8:29 when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth, 8:30 then I was beside him, like a master worker; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always, 8:31 rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the human race. 8:32 And now, my children, listen to me: happy are those who keep my ways. 8:33 Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it. 8:34 Happy is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors. 8:35 For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the LORD; 8:36 but those who miss me injure themselves; all who hate me love death."


9:1 Wisdom has built her house, she has hewn her seven pillars. 9:2 She has slaughtered her animals, she has mixed her wine, she has also set her table. 9:3 She has sent out her servant girls, she calls from the highest places in the town, 9:4 "You that are simple, turn in here!" To those without sense she says, 9:5 "Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. 9:6 Lay aside immaturity, and live, and walk in the way of insight."


24:3 By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; 24:4 by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches. 24:5 Wise warriors are mightier than strong ones, and those who have knowledge than those who have strength; 24:6 for by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory. 24:7 Wisdom is too high for fools; in the gate they do not open their mouths.


28:1 "Surely there is a mine for silver, and a place for gold to be refined. 28:2 Iron is taken out of the earth, and copper is smelted from ore. 28:3 Miners put an end to darkness, and search out to the farthest bound the ore in gloom and deep darkness. 28:4 They open shafts in a valley away from human habitation; they are forgotten by travelers, they sway suspended, remote from people. 28:5 As for the earth, out of it comes bread; but underneath it is turned up as by fire. 28:6 Its stones are the place of sapphires, and its dust contains gold. 28:7 "That path no bird of prey knows, and the falcon's eye has not seen it. 28:8 The proud wild animals have not trodden it; the lion has not passed over it. 28:9 "They put their hand to the flinty rock, and overturn mountains by the roots. 28:10 They cut out channels in the rocks, and their eyes see every precious thing. 28:11 The sources of the rivers they probe; hidden things they bring to light. 28:12 "But where shall wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding? 28:13 Mortals do not know the way to it, and it is not found in the land of the living. 28:14 The deep says, 'It is not in me,' and the sea says, 'It is not with me.' 28:15 It cannot be gotten for gold, and silver cannot be weighed out as its price. 28:16 It cannot be valued in the gold of Ophir, in precious onyx or sapphire. 28:17 Gold and glass cannot equal it, nor can it be exchanged for jewels of fine gold. 28:18 No mention shall be made of coral or of crystal; the price of wisdom is above pearls. 28:19 The chrysolite of Ethiopia cannot compare with it, nor can it be valued in pure gold. 28:20 "Where then does wisdom come from? And where is the place of understanding? 28:21 It is hidden from the eyes of all living, and concealed from the birds of the air. 28:22 Abaddon and Death say, 'We have heard a rumor of it with our ears.' 28:23 "God understands the way to it, and he knows its place. 28:24 For he looks to the ends of the earth, and sees everything under the heavens. 28:25 When he gave to the wind its weight, and apportioned out the waters by measure; 28:26 when he made a decree for the rain, and a way for the thunderbolt; 28:27 then he saw it and declared it; he established it, and searched it out. 28:28 And he said to humankind, 'Truly, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.'"

Wisdom of Solomon


Wisdom is radiant and unfading, and she is easily discerned by those who love her, and is found by those who seek her. 13She hastens to make herself known to those who desire her. 14One who rises early to seek her will have no difficulty, for she will be found sitting at the gate. 15To fix one's thought on her is perfect understanding, and one who is vigilant on her account will soon be free from care, 16because she goes about seeking those worthy of her, and she graciously appears to them in their paths, and meets them in every thought.

17The beginning of wisdom is the most sincere desire for instruction, and concern for instruction is love of her, 18and love of her is the keeping of her laws, and giving heed to her laws is assurance of immortality, 19and immortality brings one near to God; 20so the desire for wisdom leads to a kingdom.

21Therefore if you delight in thrones and scepters, O monarchs over the peoples, honor wisdom, so that you may reign forever. 22I will tell you what wisdom is and how she came to be, and I will hide no secrets from you, but I will trace her course from the beginning of creation, and make knowledge of her clear, and I will not pass by the truth; 23nor will I travel in the company of sickly envy, for envy does not associate with wisdom. 24The multitude of the wise is the salvation of the world, and a sensible king is the stability of any people. 25Therefore be instructed by my words, and you will profit.


Therefore I prayed, and understanding was given me; I called on God, and the spirit of wisdom came to me. 8I preferred her to scepters and thrones, and I accounted wealth as nothing in comparison with her. 9Neither did I liken to her any priceless gem, because all gold is but a little sand in her sight, and silver will be accounted as clay before her. 10I loved her more than health and beauty, and I chose to have her rather than light, because her radiance never ceases. 11All good things came to me along with her, and in her hands uncounted wealth. 12I rejoiced in them all, because wisdom leads them; but I did not know that she was their mother. 13I learned without guile and I impart without grudging; I do not hide her wealth, 14for it is an unfailing treasure for mortals; those who get it obtain friendship with God, commended for the gifts that come from instruction.


There is in her a spirit that is intelligent, holy, unique, manifold, subtle, mobile, clear, unpolluted, distinct, invulnerable, loving the good, keen, irresistible, 23 beneficent, humane, steadfast, sure, free from anxiety, all-powerful, overseeing all, and penetrating through all spirits that are intelligent, pure, and altogether subtle. 24For wisdom is more mobile than any motion; because of her pureness she pervades and penetrates all things. 25For she is a breath of the power of God, and a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty; therefore nothing defiled gains entrance into her. 26For she is a reflection of eternal light, a spotless mirror of the working of God, and an image of his goodness. 27Although she is but one, she can do all things, and while remaining in herself, she renews all things; in every generation she passes into holy souls and makes them friends of God, and prophets; 28for God loves nothing so much as the person who lives with wisdom. 29She is more beautiful than the sun, and excels every constellation of the stars. Compared with the light she is found to be superior, 30for it is succeeded by the night, but against wisdom evil does not prevail.

8:1She reaches mightily from one end of the earth to the other, and she orders all things well.


I loved her and sought her from my youth; I desired to take her for my bride, and became enamored of her beauty. 3She glorifies her noble birth by living with God, and the Lord of all loves her. 4For she is an initiate in the knowledge of God, and an associate in his works. 5If riches are a desirable possession in life, what is richer than wisdom, the active cause of all things? 6And if understanding is effective, who more than she is fashioner of what exists? 7And if anyone loves righteousness, her labors are virtues; for she teaches self-control and prudence, justice and courage; nothing in life is more profitable for mortals than these. 8And if anyone longs for wide experience, she knows the things of old, and infers the things to come; she understands turns of speech and the solutions of riddles; she has foreknowledge of signs and wonders and of the outcome of seasons and times.


Therefore I determined to take her to live with me, knowing that she would give me good counsel and encouragement in cares and grief. 10Because of her I shall have glory among the multitudes and honor in the presence of the elders, though I am young. 11I shall be found keen in judgment, and in the sight of rulers I shall be admired. 12When I am silent they will wait for me, and when I speak they will give heed; if I speak at greater length, they will put their hands on their mouths. 13Because of her I shall have immortality, and leave an everlasting remembrance to those who come after me. 14I shall govern peoples, and nations will be subject to me; 15dread monarchs will be afraid of me when they hear of me; among the people I shall show myself capable, and courageous in war. 16When I enter my house, I shall find rest with her; for companionship with her has no bitterness, and life with her has no pain, but gladness and joy. 17When I considered these things inwardly, and pondered in my heart that in kinship with wisdom there is immortality, 18and in friendship with her, pure delight, and in the labors of her hands, unfailing wealth, and in the experience of her company, understanding, and renown in sharing her words, I went about seeking how to get her for myself. 19As a child I was naturally gifted, and a good soul fell to my lot; 20or rather, being good, I entered an undefiled body.


8:21But I perceived that I would not possess wisdom unless God gave her to me-- and it was a mark of insight to know whose gift she was-- so I appealed to the Lord and implored him, and with my whole heart I said: 9:1"O God of my ancestors and Lord of mercy, who have made all things by your word, 2and by your wisdom have formed humankind to have dominion over the creatures you have made, 3and rule the world in holiness and righteousness, and pronounce judgment in uprightness of soul, 4give me the wisdom that sits by your throne, and do not reject me from among your servants. 5For I am your servant the son of your serving girl, a man who is weak and short-lived, with little understanding of judgment and laws; 6for even one who is perfect among human beings will be regarded as nothing without the wisdom that comes from you. 7You have chosen me to be king of your people and to be judge over your sons and daughters. 8You have given command to build a temple on your holy mountain, and an altar in the city of your habitation, a copy of the holy tent that you prepared from the beginning. 9With you is wisdom, she who knows your works and was present when you made the world; she understands what is pleasing in your sight and what is right according to your commandments. 10Send her forth from the holy heavens, and from the throne of your glory send her, that she may labor at my side, and that I may learn what is pleasing to you. 11For she knows and understands all things, and she will guide me wisely in my actions and guard me with her glory. 12Then my works will be acceptable, and I shall judge your people justly, and shall be worthy of the throne of my father. 13For who can learn the counsel of God? Or who can discern what the Lord wills? 14For the reasoning of mortals is worthless, and our designs are likely to fail; 15for a perishable body weighs down the soul, and this earthy tent burdens the thoughtful3 mind. 16We can hardly guess at what is on earth, and what is at hand we find with labor; but who has traced out what is in the heavens? 17Who has learned your counsel, unless you have given wisdom and sent your holy spirit from on high? 18And thus the paths of those on earth were set right, and people were taught what pleases you, and were saved by wisdom."


Wisdom protected the first-formed father of the world, when he alone had been created; she delivered him from his transgression, 2and gave him strength to rule all things. 3But when an unrighteous man departed from her in his anger, he perished because in rage he killed his brother. 4When the earth was flooded because of him, wisdom again saved it, steering the righteous man by a paltry piece of wood.

5Wisdom also, when the nations in wicked agreement had been put to confusion, recognized the righteous man and preserved him blameless before God, and kept him strong in the face of his compassion for his child.

6Wisdom rescued a righteous man when the ungodly were perishing; he escaped the fire that descended on the Five Cities. 7Evidence of their wickedness still remains: a continually smoking wasteland, plants bearing fruit that does not ripen, and a pillar of salt standing as a monument to an unbelieving soul. 8For because they passed wisdom by, they not only were hindered from recognizing the good, but also left for humankind a reminder of their folly, so that their failures could never go unnoticed.

9Wisdom rescued from troubles those who served her. 10When a righteous man fled from his brother's wrath, she guided him on straight paths; she showed him the kingdom of God, and gave him knowledge of holy things; she prospered him in his labors, and increased the fruit of his toil. 11When his oppressors were covetous, she stood by him and made him rich. 12She protected him from his enemies, and kept him safe from those who lay in wait for him; in his arduous contest she gave him the victory, so that he might learn that godliness is more powerful than anything else.

13When a righteous man was sold, wisdom did not desert him, but delivered him from sin. She descended with him into the dungeon, 14and when he was in prison she did not leave him, until she brought him the scepter of a kingdom and authority over his masters. Those who accused him she showed to be false, and she gave him everlasting honor.

15A holy people and blameless race wisdom delivered from a nation of oppressors. 16She entered the soul of a servant of the Lord, and withstood dread kings with wonders and signs. 17She gave to holy people the reward of their labors; she guided them along a marvelous way, and became a shelter to them by day, and a starry flame through the night. 18She brought them over the Red Sea, and led them through deep waters; 19but she drowned their enemies, and cast them up from the depth of the sea. 20Therefore the righteous plundered the ungodly; they sang hymns, O Lord, to your holy name, and praised with one accord your defending hand; 21for wisdom opened the mouths of those who were mute, and made the tongues of infants speak clearly.

See also: 11:1-19:21 - Extended meditation on Wisdom in Israel's history

1 Enoch

Note the continued development of this tradition in 1 Enoch:

Wisdom found no place where she might dwell;

Then a dwelling-place was assigned her in the heavens

Wisdom went forth to make her dwelling among the children of men,
And found no dwelling-place: Wisdom returned to her place,

And took her seat among the angels. [1 Enoch 42:1-2]

The Wisdom of Jesus son of Sirach


All wisdom is from the Lord, and with him it remains forever. 2The sand of the sea, the drops of rain, and the days of eternity--who can count them? 3The height of heaven, the breadth of the earth, the abyss, and wisdom1--who can search them out? 4Wisdom was created before all other things, and prudent understanding from eternity. 6The root of wisdom--to whom has it been revealed? Her subtleties--who knows them? 8There is but one who is wise, greatly to be feared, seated upon his throne--the Lord. 9It is he who created her; he saw her and took her measure; he poured her out upon all his works, 10upon all the living according to his gift; he lavished her upon those who love him.


14To fear the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; she is created with the faithful in the womb. 15She made among human beings an eternal foundation, and among their descendants she will abide faithfully. 16To fear the Lord is fullness of wisdom; she inebriates mortals with her fruits; 17she fills their whole house with desirable goods, and their storehouses with her produce. 18The fear of the Lord is the crown of wisdom, making peace and perfect health to flourish. 19She rained down knowledge and discerning comprehension, and she heightened the glory of those who held her fast.


4:11 Wisdom teaches her children and gives help to those who seek her. 12Whoever loves her loves life, and those who seek her from early morning are filled with joy. 13Whoever holds her fast inherits glory, and the Lord blesses the place she enters. 14Those who serve her minister to the Holy One; the Lord loves those who love her. 15Those who obey her will judge the nations, and all who listen to her will live secure. 16If they remain faithful, they will inherit her; their descendants will also obtain her. 17For at first she will walk with them on tortuous paths; she will bring fear and dread upon them, and will torment them by her discipline until she trusts them, and she will test them with her ordinances. 18Then she will come straight back to them again and gladden them, and will reveal her secrets to them. 19If they go astray she will forsake them, and hand them over to their ruin.


6:18 My child, from your youth choose discipline, and when you have gray hair you will still find wisdom. 19Come to her like one who plows and sows, and wait for her good harvest. For when you cultivate her you will toil but little, and soon you will eat of her produce. 20She seems very harsh to the undisciplined; fools cannot remain with her. 21She will be like a heavy stone to test them, and they will not delay in casting her aside. 22For wisdom is like her name; she is not readily perceived by many.

23Listen, my child, and accept my judgment; do not reject my counsel. 24Put your feet into her fetters, and your neck into her collar. 25Bend your shoulders and carry her, and do not fret under her bonds. 26Come to her with all your soul, and keep her ways with all your might. 27Search out and seek, and she will become known to you; and when you get hold of her, do not let her go. 28For at last you will find the rest she gives, and she will be changed into joy for you. 29Then her fetters will become for you a strong defense, and her collar a glorious robe. 30Her yoke1 is a golden ornament, and her bonds a purple cord. 31You will wear her like a glorious robe, and put her on like a splendid crown.

32If you are willing, my child, you can be disciplined, and if you apply yourself you will become clever. 33If you love to listen you will gain knowledge, and if you pay attention you will become wise. 34Stand in the company of the elders. Who is wise? Attach yourself to such a one. 35Be ready to listen to every godly discourse, and let no wise proverbs escape you. 36If you see an intelligent person, rise early to visit him; let your foot wear out his doorstep. 37Reflect on the statutes of the Lord, and meditate at all times on his commandments. It is he who will give insight to your mind, and your desire for wisdom will be granted.


14:20Happy is the person who meditates on wisdom and reasons intelligently, 21who reflects in his heart on her ways and ponders her secrets, 22pursuing her like a hunter, and lying in wait on her paths; 23who peers through her windows and listens at her doors; 24who camps near her house and fastens his tent peg to her walls; 25who pitches his tent near her, and so occupies an excellent lodging place; 26who places his children under her shelter, and lodges under her boughs; 27who is sheltered by her from the heat, and dwells in the midst of her glory.

15:1Whoever fears the Lord will do this, and whoever holds to the law will obtain wisdom. 2She will come to meet him like a mother, and like a young bride she will welcome him. 3She will feed him with the bread of learning, and give him the water of wisdom to drink. 4He will lean on her and not fall, and he will rely on her and not be put to shame. 5She will exalt him above his neighbors, and will open his mouth in the midst of the assembly. 6He will find gladness and a crown of rejoicing, and will inherit an everlasting name. 7The foolish will not obtain her, and sinners will not see her. 8She is far from arrogance, and liars will never think of her. 9Praise is unseemly on the lips of a sinner, for it has not been sent from the Lord. 10For in wisdom must praise be uttered, and the Lord will make it prosper.


Wisdom praises herself, and tells of her glory in the midst of her people. 2In the assembly of the Most High she opens her mouth, and in the presence of his hosts she tells of her glory: 3"I came forth from the mouth of the Most High, and covered the earth like a mist. 4I dwelt in the highest heavens, and my throne was in a pillar of cloud. 5Alone I compassed the vault of heaven and traversed the depths of the abyss. 6Over waves of the sea, over all the earth, and over every people and nation I have held sway. 7Among all these I sought a resting place; in whose territory should I abide?

8"Then the Creator of all things gave me a command, and my Creator chose the place for my tent. He said, 'Make your dwelling in Jacob, and in Israel receive your inheritance.' 9Before the ages, in the beginning, he created me, and for all the ages I shall not cease to be. 10In the holy tent I ministered before him, and so I was established in Zion. 11Thus in the beloved city he gave me a resting place, and in Jerusalem was my domain. 12I took root in an honored people, in the portion of the Lord, his heritage.

13"I grew tall like a cedar in Lebanon, and like a cypress on the heights of Hermon. 14I grew tall like a palm tree in En-gedi, and like rosebushes in Jericho; like a fair olive tree in the field, and like a plane tree beside water I grew tall. 15Like cassia and camel's thorn I gave forth perfume, and like choice myrrh I spread my fragrance, like galbanum, onycha, and stacte, and like the odor of incense in the tent. 16Like a terebinth I spread out my branches, and my branches are glorious and graceful. 17Like the vine I bud forth delights, and my blossoms become glorious and abundant fruit.

19"Come to me, you who desire me, and eat your fill of my fruits. 20For the memory of me is sweeter than honey, and the possession of me sweeter than the honeycomb. 21Those who eat of me will hunger for more, and those who drink of me will thirst for more. 22Whoever obeys me will not be put to shame, and those who work with me will not sin."

23All this is the book of the covenant of the Most High God, the law that Moses commanded us as an inheritance for the congregations of Jacob. 25It overflows, like the Pishon, with wisdom, and like the Tigris at the time of the first fruits. 26It runs over, like the Euphrates, with understanding, and like the Jordan at harvest time. 27It pours forth instruction like the Nile, like the Gihon at the time of vintage. 28The first man did not know wisdom fully, nor will the last one fathom her. 29For her thoughts are more abundant than the sea, and her counsel deeper than the great abyss.

30As for me, I was like a canal from a river, like a water channel into a garden. 31I said, "I will water my garden and drench my flower-beds." And lo, my canal became a river, and my river a sea. 32I will again make instruction shine forth like the dawn, and I will make it clear from far away. 33I will again pour out teaching like prophecy, and leave it to all future generations. 34Observe that I have not labored for myself alone, but for all who seek wisdom.