What "containeth all things" in Wisdom 1:7?

Wisdom 1:7
For the spirit of the Lord hath filled the whole world: and that which containeth all things, hath knowledge of the voice.
Quoniam spiritus Domini replevit orbem terrarum; et hoc quod continet omnia, scientiam habet vocis.

What does the Greek say?

  • 2
    It's a Greek book not Hebrew. en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Wisdom Wisdom – Σοφία Σαλωμῶνος 1:7: “ὅτι πνεῦμα κυρίου πεπλήρωκεν τὴν οἰκουμένην καὶ τὸ συνέχον τὰ πάντα γνῶσιν ἔχει φωνῆς”
    – Michael16
    May 29 at 3:47

3 Answers 3


According to St. Bonaventure's commentary on Wisdom, it can mean

  1. the Holy Spirit who contains all things and maintains them with power. For just as Boethius proves in his book On the Consolation of Philosophy book 3, prosa 12:
    The world from such diverse and contrary parts could not come together into one form, and the discordant diversity once joined would break up unless there was One who could join and hold together what was joined.
    But how this is possible in St. Jerome's Latin? Spiritus is masculine, and hoc is neuter. Cf. "Gender of antecedent of 'hoc' in phrase 'hoc quod'?"
  2. “[…] the Holy Spirit who contains all things, that is, the Church”, for whatever is outside it is nothing, similar to being outside the ark of Noah.
  3. “[…] a man who has a likeness to every creature”*, for which reason, in Mark 16:15 ("preach the gospel to every creature"), according to Gregory, every creature is mentioned.
    *This is reminiscent of Aristotle, De anima bk. 2 ch. 8, 431b20: "the soul is in a way all things" ("ἡ ψυχὴ τὰ ὄντα πώς ἐστι πάντα").
    Book II, homily 29 n. 2 in Homil. in Evang.: In the name of every creature refers to men and women.
  • Search shows hoc means "this" in Latin. The clause applies to the Spirit. It should have been "it" instead of "that which"
    – Michael16
    May 29 at 3:09

The Greek text is:

ὅτι πνεῦμα κυρίου πεπλήρωκεν τὴν οἰκουμένην, καὶ τὸ συνέχον τὰ πάντα γνῶσιν ἔχει φωνῆς.

The KJV translation (yes, Wisdom was once in the KJV) is:

For the Spirit of the Lord filleth the world: and that which containeth all things hath knowledge of the voice.

Brenton's translation is identical.

That which containeth all things is translating τὸ συνέχον τὰ πάντα - literally something like "the enclosing" [τὸ συνέχον] "the all" [τὰ πάντα].

Συνέχον (synechon) is the participle form of the verb συνέξω (synexō), which appears only in the Septuagint. It is not a common word and appears only in 4 other places - once in 1 Kingdoms (1 Samuel), twice in 3 Kingdoms (1 Kings), and once in 1 Chronicles, where Brenton translates it as detain, enclose, and keep close.

  • What MS did you obtain the Greek text from? Can you hyperlink to it? Thanks.
    – Geremia
    May 29 at 21:34
  • The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America maintains the whole Septuagint in Greek here. It's still the Bible that is used in the Orthodox Church.
    – user33515
    May 30 at 17:04

As pointed out by Michael16, the Book of Wisdom has come to us only in Greek. However, his appraisal, “It’s a Greek book not Hebrew,” is not quite accurate. The Book is clearly Hebraic underneath the Greek translation we have from the LXX.

So, one can venture a retroversion, first focusing on the Greek verse we do have in 1:7, which is not so well translated in the following English, more or less the work of King James versions finding their way into Catholic translations, including the too often disappointing Douay-Rheims (too attached to the King James’s style seeking beautiful “Shakespearean” English):

“For the spirit of the Lord hath filled the whole world: and that, which containeth all things, hath knowledge of the voice.”

φωνῆς is a Hebraism, imprecisely translated by “the voice.” Whose voice is this Hebraism referring to? That of the Word, speaking all Creation, having “all knowledge” (πάντα γνῶσιν) of it in Himself.

Thus, a more intelligible English rendition would go as follows:

“[…] and He Who encompasses all things [≡ all words] has the knowledge of the Word.”

Meaning: through the knowledge of Himself, He (the Word) has the knowledge [γνῶσιν/דַעַת/scientiam] of all things made, all “things” made being “words” as well, as is clarified in the light of the underpinning original Hebraic thought, implying the plural word דברים (the “things-words” that are spoken into existence and thus made by the divine Word).

To recap, we have (in Greek) the following:

καὶ τὸ συνέχον τὰ πάντα…

Rendered by St. Jerome as:

et hoc quod continet omnia…

A sound Hebraic retroversion could read as follows (only my informed but by no means authoritative and flowless opinion on such matter, since this little retroversion exercise cannot but rely on guessing, with the help of the two other sacred versions of our text):

… ומה שמקיף את כל הדברים

Or (slightly modifying the relative clause):

… והוא המקיף את כל הדברים

In other words:

“He Who encompasses (as though by “encircling”) all things-words…”

And if we complete the verse, understanding what it clearly implies in terms of theology of the Word, only truly intelligible within the Trinitarian theology it intrinsically belongs to (as does the “Spirit” mentioned at the beginning of this verse), we have our entire verse 7 reading as:

“For the Spirit of YHWH fills the world: and He Who encompasses all things-words [דברים] has the knowledge [דעת] of the Word/of Himself.

Thus, “the voice” in the Greek translation we’ve been left with in the preserved text of the Book of Wisdom in the LXX, is no other than that of the divine Word speaking all created things into their specific existence, the specific words undergirding all things made being their defined, constraining essences – a fact at the core of divine revelation (as seen throughout Genesis 1) which, one will not fail to notice, rebuts and confounds the intellectual madness of what is philosophically known as “existentialism;” or, in our current cultural irrational age, as “wokeness” (the false “philosophy” of gender insufferably inane and morally depraved narratives).

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.