31“O Lord Almighty, God of Israel, from the depth of our troubled, weary souls we cry out to you. 2Hear us, O Lord, and have mercy on us, because we have sinned against you. 3You reign as king for ever, but we die and are gone for ever. 4O Lord Almighty, God of Israel, hear our prayer. We are no better than the dead. Our ancestors sinned against you, the Lord their God. They refused to obey you, and we are suffering the consequences of their sin. 5Forget the sinful things that our ancestors did in the past; at a time like this, think only of your power and reputation, 6for you are the Lord our God, and we will praise you. 7You have made us fear you, so that we might pray to you. Here in exile we will praise you because we have turned away from the sins of our ancestors. 8You have scattered us among the nations, and you have made them despise and curse us. You are punishing us for the sins of our ancestors when they rebelled against you, the Lord our God.”
Listen, Israel, to the commands that promise life; pay attention, and you will become wise. 10Why is it, Israel, that you find yourself in an enemy land? Why have you grown old in a foreign country? You are ritually unclean, like the dead; 11you are already counted among the dead. But why? 12It is because you have left the source of Wisdom! 13If you had walked in God's ways, you would have lived in peace for ever. 14Learn where understanding, strength, and insight are to be found. Then you will know where to find a long and full life, light to guide you, and peace.
No one has ever found where Wisdom lives or has entered her treasure house, 16-17and those who have tried have vanished: the rulers of the nations, those who hunted wild animals and birds for sport, those who accumulated vast fortunes of silver and gold, which everyone trusts and will do anything to get, 18and those who worried and schemed to make money, but who left no trace of their work behind. 19They have all disappeared and gone down to the world of the dead. Others have come along to take their place. 20A later generation was born and lived in the land, but they too did not discover the way to knowledge. They did not find the path to Wisdom or ever reach her. 21Their children also failed. 22Wisdom was not found by the Canaanites. It has not been discovered by the Edomites 23although they search after knowledge. The way to Wisdom has not been found by the merchants of Merran and Tema or by those who relate fables or by any others who seek understanding.
24O Israel, how great is the universe in which God dwells! How vast is all that he possesses! 25There is no end to it; there is no way to measure how wide or how high it is. 26
Here in early times the famous giants were born, a mighty race skilled in war. 27But God did not choose them to be his people or show them the way of knowledge. 28They died out because they had neither understanding nor insight.
29No one has ever gone up into heaven to get Wisdom and bring her down out of the clouds. 30No one has sailed across the seas to find Wisdom, or bought her with precious gold. 31No one knows how to get to her or how to discover the path that leads to her.
32The only one who knows Wisdom is God, and he knows all things. With his understanding he found her. He established the earth for all time and filled it with all kinds of animals. 33The light trembled and obeyed when he called. He sent it out, and it appeared. 34He called the stars, and they promptly answered; they took their places and gladly shone to please the one who made them. 35He is our God, and there is none like him. 36He discovered the entire path leading to understanding and gave Wisdom to his servant Israel, whom he loved. 37From that time on, Wisdom appeared on earth and lived among us.
Wisdom is the book of God's commandments, the Law that will last for ever. All who hold on to her will live, but those who abandon her will die. 2Turn to Wisdom, people of Israel, and take hold of her. Make your way towards the splendour of her light. 3Do not surrender our glorious privileges to any other people. 4How happy we are, people of Israel; we have the advantage of knowing what is pleasing to God!
5Take courage, my people, you are the ones who keep Israel's name alive. 6You were sold to Gentile nations, but not to be destroyed. Because you made God angry, he handed you over to your enemies. 7When you offered sacrifices to demons instead of to God, you angered the one who made you. 8You forgot the Eternal God, who had nourished you as a child, and so you brought grief to Jerusalem, who had been like a mother to you. 9Jerusalem saw that God was punishing you because he was angry, and she said to all the neighbouring cities, “Look at the great misery that God has brought on me. 10I saw my sons and daughters taken into captivity, a captivity brought on them by the Eternal God. 11I brought up my children with great delight, but I cried and mourned when they were taken from me. 12Let no one take pleasure in my suffering now that I am a widow and so many of my children have been taken from me. They turned away from God's Law, and their sins have made me a deserted city. 13They had no respect for his commandments and would not live by them; they refused to let him guide them in the way of righteousness.
14“All you neighbouring cities, come and consider how the Eternal God has sent my children into exile. 15He brought against them a nation from far away, a shameless nation that speaks a foreign language and has no respect for the elderly and no pity for children. 16These people carried off my beloved sons and took away my daughters, and I was left a widow, completely alone.
17“My children in exile, I can do nothing to help you. 18Only the one who brought this punishment upon you can rescue you from your enemies. 19
Go your own way, my children; live your own life! I am all alone. 20I have taken off the robes I wore during days of peace, and I have dressed myself like a person in mourning. I will cry out to the Eternal God for help as long as I live.
21“Take courage, my children, and cry out to God for help. He will rescue you from oppression, from the power of your enemies. 22I am confident that the Eternal God will soon set you free. The Holy One, your eternal saviour, will make me happy when he shows you mercy. 23I cried and wailed when you were taken away, but God will bring you back and will make me happy for ever. 24Just as the neighbouring cities watched as you were taken captive, so they will soon see the Eternal God coming in glorious splendour to rescue you. 25My children, endure God's punishment with patience. Your enemies have persecuted you, but you will soon see them destroyed and at your mercy. 26My children, I spoiled you with love, but you have had to follow rugged paths; you were carried off like sheep caught in an enemy raid.
27“Take courage, my children, and cry out to God for help. He punished you, but he will not forget you. 28Just as you were once determined to turn away from God, now turn back and serve him with ten times more determination. 29The one who brought these calamities upon you will rescue you and bring you everlasting joy.”
30Take courage, Jerusalem. God, who gave you your name, will now bring comfort to you. 31Misery will come to those who ill-treated you and then rejoiced when you fell. 32Misery will come to those cities that made your children slaves. Misery will be the fate of Babylon, that city which swallowed up your children. 33Just as that city rejoiced when you fell and took delight in your ruin, so now she will mourn when she herself is deserted. 34I will turn her proud boastings into mourning and take away her large population in which she took pride. 35I, the Eternal God, will send down fire on her, and it will burn for many days. Her ruins will be haunted by demons for a long time to come.
36Look to the east, Jerusalem, and see the joy that God is bringing to you. 37Look, your children are coming home, the children that were taken from you. They have been gathered together from the east and from the west by the command of God, the Holy One. And now they are coming home, rejoicing in the glory of God.
Jerusalem, take off the clothes you have worn in your mourning and distress, and put on the eternal splendour of God's glory. 2Put round you the cloak of God's righteousness. Place on your head the crown of the glory of the Eternal God. 3God will show your splendour to every nation on earth. 4For ever he will say to you: “Your security comes from your righteousness, and your splendour from your devotion to me.”5.4 For ever… devotion to me; or He will give you this name for ever: “Peace from Righteouness and Glory from Godliness”.
5Get up, Jerusalem, stand on the mountaintop; see where God, the Holy One, is bringing your children together from the east and from the west. They are rejoicing that God has remembered them. 6Jerusalem, your children were led away by their enemies; they left you on foot, but God is bringing them back to you, carried in royal splendour. 7God has commanded that every high mountain and the everlasting hills shall be made low; he has commanded that the valleys shall be filled and the ground levelled, so that the people of Israel may come safely home in the glory of God. 8At the command of God, forests of fragrant trees will spring up to provide shade for the people of Israel. 9God will lead Israel home. They will return with great joy, guided by his mercy and righteousness, surrounded by the light of his glorious presence.