The failure of the Egyptian magicians (Wis 17:7-17:10)

“The delusions of their magic art lay humbled.

Their boasted wisdom was scornfully rebuked.

Those who promised to drive off

The fears of a sick soul,

Those who promised to drive off

The disorders of a sick soul,

Were sick themselves

With ridiculous fear.

Even if nothing disturbing frightened them,

Yet scared by the passing of wild animals,

Scared by the hissing of serpents,

They perished in trembling fear.

They refused to look even at the air,

though it nowhere could be avoided.”

Here we have a specific reference to the magicians (μαγικῆς) in Egypt as in Exodus, chapters 7-9. These magicians were humbled. They had promised to drive away the fears and ills of the Egyptians, who remain unnamed here. These magicians were sick with a ridiculous fear themselves. They were afraid of the wild animals and the serpents. They perished in their own fear. Once again we have an embellishing of the original story to add a more dramatic effect.

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