Wickedness (Wis 17:11-17:14)

“Wickedness is a cowardly thing.

It is condemned

By its own testimony.

Distressed by conscience,

It has always exaggerated the difficulties.

Fear is nothing but a giving up of the helps

That come from reason.

Fear gives up hope.

It is defeated

By this inward weakness.

It prefers ignorance of what causes the torment.

Throughout the night,

That was really powerless,

Which came upon them

From the recesses of powerless Hades.

They all slept the same sleep.”

Wickedness (πονηρία) is cowardly. Its own witness (μαρτυρεῖ) condemns it. Wickedness always exaggerates difficulties so that it fears (φόβος) everything that comes from reason (λογισμοῦ). The wicked give up hope. They are defeated by their own inner weakness. They prefer ignorance of what causes problems. They are powerless throughout the night, like a powerless hell or Hades (ἀδυνάτου ᾅδου). However, everyone sleeps the same sleep, no matter what.

The wise child (Prov 10:2-10:5)

“A wise child makes a glad father.

But a foolish child is a mother’s grief.

Treasures gained by wickedness do not profit anyone.

But righteousness delivers from death.

Yahweh does not let the righteous go hungry,

But he thwarts the craving of the wicked.

A slack hand causes poverty.

But the hand of the diligent makes rich.

A child who gathers in summer is prudent,

But a child who sleeps in harvest brings shame.”

Right from the start of these sayings there is the contrast between the wise and the foolish child. Wickedness did not bring profit, but righteousness would save you from death. Early death was considered a punishment for sin. Yahweh would not let the righteous go hungry, but the wicked would be hungry. Notice the contrast and the idea of ‘but’. Here we have the classic explanation of poverty. You are poor because you do not work hard. You are rich because you have worked hard. There is never any mention of circumstances. Once again, we are back at the prudent child who gathers in the summer, while the other shameful child sleeps during the harvest time.