Temple for Jerusalem

Wisdom

 

Proverbs 1-9 is the primary fountainhead for later elaboration about Wisdom.

According to Prov. 3:13-18, She is more precious than any possession in the world. (Job 28:12-28)

In several passages She is vividly personified as a woman whose speech is recorded in the 1st person. (Prov. 1:20-33; 8: 1-36; 9:3-6

She is described as a primordial figure who enjoyed a close relationship with G-D in the creating of the World. (8: 22-31)

She is shown to be fairly distinct from G-D and the rest of creation. (Prov. 8: 22-312 ; cf Sir 1:9)

She is depicted as intimately involved in the act of creating the world, even having cosmogenic functions. (Prov. 8:27-31 cf 3:19-20)

These later 3 elements are present in the most exalted presentation of Wisdom found in Proverbs 8:22: "YHWH begot me, as the beginning of His ways, the first of His acts of old."

 

Ages ago I was installed, at the first, before the beginning of the earth.

When there are no depths, I was bought forth, when there were no springs around with water.

When he established the heavens, I was there, when he drew a circle on the face of the deep.

Then I was beside Him, like a master craftsman and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before Him always ... Rejoicing in His inhabited world and delighting in the Sons of Man.

 

Unlike other personifications of Wisdom in Proverbs, the assertion in this text portray her as an hypostasis, an aspect of G-D that has some degree of independent personhood.

 

Wisdom speaks in the 1st person and refers to G-D in the 3rd person several times. (8:22-29)

 

A distinction exists between the origins of Wisdom and those of G-D; Wisdom is also distinct from the rest of creation. Furthermore, the position of Wisdom in relation to G-D also indicates a degree of independent personhood: Wisdom is "beside Him" and "in His presence". (8:30)

 

The latter position is typical of descriptions of angels standing before G-D. (Dan 7:10)

 

Wisdom's place with the angels is discussed also in 1 Enoch 42, which is an encapsulation of the Wisdom descent tradition. Wisdom could not find a place in which to dwell; but a place was found for her in the Heavens. Then Wisdom went out to dwell with the children of the people, but she found no dwelling place so Wisdom returned to her place and she settled among the angels.

 

Sirach also depicts Wisdom in the midst of G-Ds angelic host: "in the assembly of the Most High, she will open her mouth, and in the presence of the host she will glory." (24:2)

 

The preposition "beside Him" in Prov. 8:30a, however is indicative of more than a typical angel (cf Sir 1:8-9) Such language is used of one’s position next to or on, the Throne of G-D in Jewish and Christian literature.

 

The force of the verb... (to pour, anoint, install, cf. Ps 2:6) (Prov. 8:23) supports the understanding of Wisdom's enthronement.

 

Note: Wisdom is as much enthroned as the garment that those on the Throne wear. She is enthroned and worn.

 

Wisdom of Solomon (1st C BCE)

 

Writers of this Egyptian Jewish Document further develop these characteristics of Wisdom.

6:22b I will trace her course from the beginning of creation.

7:21 I learnt both what is secret and what is manifest, for Wisdom, the fashioner of all things, taught me.

22 For in her is a spirit that is intelligent, holy unique, manifold, subtle, mobile, clear, unpolluted, distinct, invulnerable, loving and good, keen, irresistible.

23 Beneficent, humane, steadfast, sure, free from anxiety, all-powerful, overseeing all, and penetrating through all the spirits that are intelligent and pure and most subtle.

24 For Wisdom is more mobile than any motion, because of her pureness she pervades and penetrates all things.

25 For she is the breath of the power of G-D, and a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty, therefore nothing defiled gains entrance into Her.

26 For she is a reflection of eternal light, a spotless mirror, of the working of G-D and an image of His goodness.

29 For she is more beautiful than the sun, and excels every constellation of the stars. Compared with light she is found to be superior.

 

Note: Rainbow light.

 

8:3 She glorifies her noble birth by living with G-D, and the Lord of all loves her.

 

An important part of these ascriptions is the cosmogenic role of Wisdom, which grew from Prov. 8: She is declared "the fashioner of all things." (7:21; cf 8:6)

Her cosmogenic role is reinforced by the epithets "all powerful" (7:23) and "a breath of the power of G-D." (7:25)

 

In Prov. 9 1-2, She is identified as the "word" that creates all things.

 

For Philo, Wisdom was a cosmic principle, a being who existed before creation and was instrumental in "birthing" the creation and "mothering" it. (Ebr 30-31; Fug 109; Quod Det 54; cf. Virt 62)

 

Although Philo melds Wisdom with Logos in some places (Conf 146; Lgg All 1:43), in Ebr 30-31 He calls Wisdom the mother of Logos with the implication that G-D is Her husband.

 

In other texts he indicates that Wisdom is the model from which the physical world is copied. (Leg All 1:43; cf Leg 2:49).

 

... Specifically in the creation of Man, is found in 2 Enoch (1st CE 30:8),"and on the 6th day I commanded my Wisdom to create man out of the 7 components.

2: And earth assigned Him (man: Adam) to be a second angel, honoured and great and glorious.

12: and I assigned Him to be a king, to reign on the earth, and to have my Wisdom.

 

Wisdom of Solomon: (9:1) O G-D of my fathers and Lord of mercy, who hast made all things by your word, (2) and by your Wisdom has formed man to have dominion over the creatures you have made ...

 

Wisdom of Solomon

(9:4) Give to me Wisdom, she who sits by you on your Throne.

(9:10) Send her (Wisdom) forth from the Holy Mountains, and from the throne of your glory send her, that she may be with me and toil, and that I may learn what is pleasing to you.

 

I Sir 24:4 ...we find Wisdom enthroned in a pillar of clouds. (Exod. 14:19; 14:24; 19:90)

 

The all-powerful word who is closely linked with Wisdom in Wis. 9:1-2, is described as leaping from "The Royal Throne" in 18:15.

She is conceived of as "sitting" by G-D upon His Throne (Wis. 9:4), specifically the "Throne of your Glory." (Wis. 9:10) Differences in the Lxx and Mt translations:

Lxx: When He made the heavens, I was partner with Him, and he separated His Throne on the wind.

 

Note: 4 winds, directions, rivers, charioted horses synthesised make the Throne.

 

Mt: When He established the heavens, I was there, when he drew a circle on the face of the deep... Circle is cyclical for the nature of return and renewal, repetition of pattern...

The "Throne of My Glory" in Wis. 9:10 may allude to an identification of Wisdom as the Glory who is seated on the Throne. (cf. Ezekiel. 1:26)

 

Similar designations are used extensively in the similitudes of Enoch when identifying the Throne.

 

When the Ancient of Days (47:3; 60:2) or the Lord of the Spirits (62:2-3) sits on the Divine Throne, it is identified as the "Throne of His Glory." (cf.; a variant of 1 Enoch 55:4 "Throne of My Glory")

 

When the mysterious figure of the similitude's (identified as the elect one, son of man, or righteous one) is seated on this throne, it is usually identified as the "Throne of Glory", "My Throne" (G-D as the subject) and also "Throne of His Glory."

The elect one sits on the "Throne of Glory" in contexts in which he exercises his role as judge. (45:3; 52:3; 55:4)

The Lord of Spirits places the Son of man on the Throne of Glory. (61:8)

 

Like the Lord of Spirits, however, the son of Man also sits on the "Throne of His Glory." (62:5; 69:29) It is possible that the "Glory" is not an adjective modifying "Throne", but a noun referring to the occupant on the Throne.

Therefore, although the "Throne of my Glory" in Wis. 9:10 is certainly referring to the Divine Throne, it could also be linking Wisdom with the enthroned Glory discussed above. The prayer of Enoch also indicates this. (1 En 83:3)

"Wisdom does not elude you and retreats neither from the 'place' of your throne nor from your presence."

 

Sitting on the Throne

 

"Sitting" on the Throne is a very exalted position full of significance. The central significance of Ezek. 1 and Dan 7 have been discussed. The similitudes of 1 Enoch (31-72) are instructive.

There are many references to the one "whose face is like the Son of Man" (46:1 Glory in Ezekiel. 1:26) who will be seated on a throne. (45:3; 51:3; 55:4; 61:8; 63:5-6; 70:27)

 

The climactic scene of enthronement occurs in 1 Enoch 62. From other portions of the Similitude's it is evident that Dan 7 inspired this text. Both the Lord of the spirits sit on the Throne of Glory (identified as the "Ancient of days" in 1 Enoch 46:1; 47:3; 48:2) and the Son of man or Elect one sits on the Throne of Glory preparing to Judge.

 

Another significant detail from the similitude's is that the author who wrote (or edited) was not content in leaving this enthroned-like figure as an exalted angelic being. (46:1-2); cf. Ezekiel. 1:26)

(1 En 71:14) identifies this enthroned figure, the Glory, as none other than the righteous "man" Enoch.

Also instructive in this context is 3 Enoch (ca 5 CE) which contains further evidence of Enoch's enthronement as the angel Metatron. (3 En 12;1- 16;5)

 

This is the heavenly response that Metatron receives from the Heavenly Hosts after being crowned: (14:50 - "They all fell prostrate when they saw me and could not look at me because of the majesty, splendour, beauty, brightness, brilliance, and radiance of the glorious Crown which was on my head.")

 

The connection between Wisdom and this enigmatic figure in 1Enoch can be made more distinct.

There is evidence that Wisdom has been assimilated into the Son of Man/Elect One.

Wisdom dresses the Thrones inhabitants. Note: Rainbow Shekinah Glory.

 

46:6 For this purpose he became the elect One. He was conceived in the presence of (The Lord of the Spirits) prior to the creation of the world, and for eternity.

7: And he has received the Wisdom of the spirits of the Lord of the spirits to the righteous because they have hated and despised this world of oppression.

49:1 So Wisdom flows like water and glory is measureless before him forever and ever. Wisdom is a river of consistent coloured light.

2: For His might is in all the mysteries of righteousness, and oppression will vanish like a shadow having no foundation. The elect one stands before the Lord of the spirits: His glory is forever and ever and his power is unto all generations.

3: In him dwells the spirit of Wisdom, the spirit which gives Thoughtfulness, the spirit of Knowledge and Strength, and the spirit of those fallen asleep in Righteousness.

 

A prominent example of a figure sharing the throne is found in Rev: 4-7. G-D who is seated on the Throne in the heavenly Throne room, hands the scroll to the lamb with the result that all the hosts erupt in worship. (Rev 5:7-14)

The lamb is decidedly divine in this context. Of particular significance for our discussion is the lambs position at the centre of the throne in which G-D is seated:

 

 7:15 "For this reason they are before the Throne of G-D, worship Him day and night within His Temple, and the one (G-D) who is seated on the throne will shelter Him.

16: They will hunger no more, and thirst no more, the sun will not strike them, or any scorching heat.

17: For the lamb at the centre of the Throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the Water of Life, and G-D will wipe every tear from their eyes."

 

... In the promise Christ makes to the Laodicians: "he who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I myself have conquered and sat down with my Father on His Throne." (Rev 3:21)

 

Wisdom and the Angel of the Lord

 

In addition to the enthronement language, there is further evidence in Wisdom of Solomon that Wisdom has roots in angelomophic traditions.

 

The historical review in 10:1-21 of Wisdom's involvement in the lives of the patriarchs and Moses provides evidence that some actions associated with angelomophic traditions in the Pentateuch have been re-interpreted and assimilated to Wisdom.

 

Firstly: Wis. 10:6 Where Wisdom rescues Lot. In contrast, Gen. 18:1- 19:23 states the rescue was the work of 2 angels who accompanied G-D. In Wis. 10:6 Wisdom rescued a righteous man (Lot) when the ungodly were perishing, he escaped the fire that descended on 5 cities.

 

Gen. 19:16 But, Lot lingered, so the men (2 angels in Gen. 19:1) seized him, his wife and daughters by the hand ... and set him outside the city.

 

Secondly: Wisdom is said to be the one who leads Israel out of Egypt in a pillar of cloud/fire.

 

Wis. 10:17 She gave the holy men the reward for their labours, she guided them along the marvellous way, and became a shelter to them by day, and a starry flame though the night.

18: She bought them over the Red Sea, and led them through the deep waters.

19: But she drowned the enemies and cast them up from the depth of the sea.

 

G-D is himself guided by the pillars of cloud/fire according to some Exodus texts. (13:21-22; 14:24)

(Exodus. 15:1-19) These same actions are ascribed to the angel of the Lord in the Hebrew Bible.

Ex. 14:19 Then the angel of Elohim who went before the host of Israel moved and went behind them, and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them.

Ex. 23:20 Behold, I send an angel before you, to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place, which I have prepared.

 

Num. 20:15 You know our fathers went down to Egypt ... were dealt with harshly ... cried to YHWH.

 

He heard our voice and sent an angel and bought us forth out of Egypt.

 

Judg. 2:1 Now the Angel of YHWH went up from Gilgal to Bochim. And he said, "I bought you up to the land that I swore to give to your fathers."

 

Sir 24:4 Wisdom states "My Throne was in a Pillar of Cloud."

 

"Philo was aware of a special angel in the cloud who could not be seen by the naked eye." (Vita Mos 1:166) "For a cloud, fashioned into the form of a vast pillar, went before the multitude by day, giving forth a light like that of the sun, but by night it displayed a fiery blaze, in order that the Hebrews did not wonder... without deviation."

 

Perhaps indeed, this was one of the lieutenants of the great King, an unseen angel, a guide of the way (Ex 23:21) enveloped in this cloud, whom it was not lawful to behold with the eyes of the body.

 

One remaining example of Angelomophic traditions in Wisdom 10, concerning Abraham's near sacrifice of Isaac, Wisdom is said to have kept Abraham "... strong in the face of his compassion for his child." (10.5b)

 

The only figure with Abraham and Isaac in the Genesis narrative is the Angel of the Lord. (22:11,15) See the Word: Gen. 15:1-4; 1 Sam. 3:1-6, 10, 21; Jer. 1:4-13; 1 Kings 19:4-9.

 

The Word of YHWH came to Elijah and said: "What are you doing here, Elijah?"

Introduction

 

Wisdom (feminine) is a scriptural concept and an iconographically illustrated aspect of this Temple's function to project light over Jerusalem. Wisdom is symbolised as Rainbow light, creating a garment covering the Throne Room, the elevated House or Holy of Holies.

 

This Rainbow light is created by the refraction of sunlight, collected by Wings, reflected through Jewels (eyes), splayed into the central area, reflecting off the smoke of the burning recordings of the sins of Israel.

 

Excerpts from Angelomorphic Christology

Charles A Gieschen

Copyright of Brill 1998