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IX. O God of my fathers, and Lord of mercy, who hast made all things with thy word, 2 and ordained man through thy wisdom, that he should have dominion over the creatures which thou hast made, 3 and order the world according to equity and righteousness, and execute judgment with an upright heart: 4 give me wisdom, that sitteth by thy throne; and reject me not from among thy children: 5 for I thy servant and son of thine handmaid am a feeble person, and of a short time, and too young for the understanding of judgment and laws. 6 For though a man be never so perfect among the children of men, yet if thy wisdom be not with him, he shall be nothing regarded. 7 Thou hast chosen me to be a king of thy people, and a judge of thy sons and daughters: 8 thou hast commanded me to build a temple upon thy holy mount, and an altar in the city wherein thou dwellest, a resemblance of the holy tabernacle, which thou hast prepared from the beginning. 9 And wisdom was with thee: which knoweth thy works, and was present when thou madest the world, and knew what was acceptable in thy sight, and right in thy commandments. 10 O send her out of thy holy heavens, and from the throne of thy glory, that being present she may labour with me, that I may know what is pleasing unto thee. 11 For she knoweth and understandeth all things, and she shall lead me soberly in my doings, and preserve me in her power. 12 So shall my works be acceptable, and then shall I judge thy people righteously, and be worthy to sit in my father’s seat. 13 For what man is he that can know the counsel of God? or who can think what the will of the Lord is? 14 For the thoughts of mortal men are miserable, and our devices are but uncertain. 15 For the corruptible body presseth down the soul, and the earthy tabernacle weigheth down the mind that museth upon many things. 16 And hardly do we guess aright at things that are upon earth, and with labour do we find the things that are before us: but the things that are in heaven who hath searched out? 17 And thy counsel who hath known, except thou give wisdom, and send thy Holy Spirit from above? 18 For so the ways of them which lived on the earth were reformed, and men were taught the things that are pleasing unto thee, and were saved through wisdom.

The Cambridge Paragraph Bible: of the Authorized English Version. (1873). (Wis 8:21–9:18). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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3 Answers 3

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I think this passage is clarified by Solomon's personification of wisdom in the book of Proverbs, where he says to call wisdom your "sister" and understanding your "kinswoman" (female relative):

Proverbs 7:4-5 KJV - Say unto wisdom, Thou art my sister; and call understanding thy kinswoman: that they may keep thee from the strange woman, from the stranger which flattereth with her words.

The only other places I know of where Solomon personifies wisdom as a woman are in Proverbs chapters 4 and 8. In my opinion, they jibe better with the idea of a sister or aunt who have royal status (or at least royal connections) than an actual goddess on the one extreme, or a wife or female consort on the other:

Proverbs 4:8-9 KJV - Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honor, when thou dost embrace her. She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee"

Proverbs 8:1-3 KJV - Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice? She standeth in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the paths. She crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors.

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  • What about verses 9-11? " 9 And wisdom was with thee: which knoweth thy works, and was present when thou madest the world, and knew what was acceptable in thy sight, and right in thy commandments. 10 O send her out of thy holy heavens, and from the throne of thy glory, that being present she may labour with me, that I may know what is pleasing unto thee. 11 For she knoweth and understandeth all things, and she shall lead me soberly in my doings, and preserve me in her power." By the way, I love your screen name!
    – Ruminator
    Commented Oct 21, 2017 at 4:47
  • Thanks. I guess the goddess concept is not something I find myself leaning towards because verses 9-11 seem more reminiscent of how Paul refers to Jesus in 1 Cor 1:24 as "Christ...the wisdom of God;" and how Jesus as the repository of God's wisdom from the beginning (as the Word, "the spirit of Jehovah's mouth" Psa 33:6), and as having been God, and with God (or as Paul less philosophically puts it, "being in the form of God" Phil 2:6), created all things. So in that light, Solomon's feminizing of wisdom strikes me as a memorable but ultimately unenlightening idiomatic literary device.
    – Eutychus
    Commented Oct 21, 2017 at 23:20
  • I'm trying to decide, myself. It is a bit of a puzzle.
    – Ruminator
    Commented Oct 21, 2017 at 23:31
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    Solomon personifies Wisdom many more times (Proverbs 1:20, 9:1, 14:33, 31:26) - so does Jesus (Matthew 11:19, Luke 7:35). The feminising of wisdom is certainly not unique to Solomon, nor is it unique to the bible. Commented Oct 22, 2017 at 15:59
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The book of Wisdom of Solomon, wasn't written by Solomon, but is believed to have been written by Jews living in Alexandra around the 1st century BCE.

So my comments deal more with Solomon's writings in scripture. There Solomon's depiction of wisdom is a poetic form. There is no goddess called wisdom.

Wisdom is an attribute or characteristic of God. Many of God's attributes are personified in scripture.

God is wisdom.

This expression follows the same pattern as saying,

God is love (1 John 3:8) God is holy (Ps. 99:9) God is gracious and holy (1 Chro. 30:9) God is righteous (Daniel 9:14) God is truth (2 Cor. 1:18) God is light

Jesus Christ has the same attributes or characteristics:

Jesus is the truth (John 14:6) Jesus is light (John 1:3) Jesus is wisdom, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. (1 Cor. 1:24) Jesus who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: (1 Cor. 1:30) Jesus is holy (Rev. 3:7)

The Holy Spirit has all these attributes as well

Spirit of Truth (John 14:17; 16:13) Spirit of Wisdom (Ep. 1:17) Spirit is Holy, it's part of His name, Holy Spirit. The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge. (Isaiah 11:2)

God's word is also defined by these attributes.

Thy Word is Truth (Ps. 119:160) Thy Word is Holy (2 Timothy 3:15 Romans 7:12) God's Word gives Wisdom (Ps. 119:169

These are all attributes or characteristics of God the Father and the Son (Jesus). It is the Holy Spirit (the Spirit of God) that impresses these things on people's minds, urging them to follow godly wisdom, not folly.

Jesus displayed all these attributes perfectly, He is wisdom, just as God the Father is wisdom. He is love, just as God the Father is love. The Holy Spirit gives these attributes to people:

1 Cor. 12:8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;

See how these attributes are often personified in scripture:

Ps. 43:3 Send out thy Light and thy Truth and let them lead me, let them bring me to thy holy hill. Ps. 57:3 God shall send forth His mercy and His truth. Ps. 85:10 Mercy and Truth have met each other, righteousness and peace have kissed each other. Ps. 85:13 Righteousness shall go before him, and shall set his steps in the way Ps. 89:14 Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face.
Is. 59 :14 And judgment is turned away backward, and justice stands afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.

God's Wisdom in Proverbs 7-9 is personified as a woman and something we should seek after, and which will lead us in the right ways. Wisdom is contrasted with Folly, the foolish woman which we are urged to forsake. The foolish woman, knows nothing and sits by the gate enticing people into sin. Wisdom is personified as the pure, godly woman, leading to righteousness and good judgment, while Folly is personified as a harlot, seductive and leading the simple to destruction.

God's wisdom was remarkably displayed in Creation. Wisdom was there! 104:24 O LORD, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches.

Wisdom is not a separate being, just as truth is not another being, nor is righteousness a separate being that kisses another being called peace. It's personification of the attributes which are integral characteristics of God, and Solomon urges people to accept these attributes into their own lives.

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  • So are you saying Wisdom is an attribute of God, or that Wisdom is Jesus, or something else?
    – Ruminator
    Commented Mar 1, 2023 at 22:17
  • Wisdom is an attribute or characteristic of God and of Jesus. Jesus is wisdom, just as God the Father is wisdom. Jesus is love, just as God the Father is love...
    – ulunruh
    Commented Mar 3, 2023 at 7:45
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Wisdom and the Holy Spirit is the same person of the God head. Known to the early church as the mother. It is written that they being one multidimensional being, was also there in the beginning with God the Father. In revelation we also see that the seven manifold spirits of God was also one with Christ. God from God, the Father, Son and Mother (seven Spirits of God, wisdom, the Holy Spirit etc.)

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    Hey Victori! Welcome to the Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange. We are glad you are here. Please take a moment to take the site tour and check out what we are looking for in answers and the FAQs. This site can be a bit tricky to learn at first. We look for answers that show effort, research, and references. Consider an edit to add citations/reliable sources.
    – Jason_
    Commented May 9 at 18:44
  • Jason, thank you. I just read "What we are looking for in an answer." I can add my biblical findings; however, some may come from the Apocrypha books and other extra-biblical sources. I haven't pulled this all together yet, so it may take a few days to edit my original comment, but I will. I appreciate your kindness and observation of my being new here. Thank you again.
    – Victori
    Commented May 11 at 13:48
  • Of course. My pleasure. Looking forward to an edit.
    – Jason_
    Commented May 11 at 18:27

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