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Wisdom the Goddess

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  • Wisdom the Goddess

    Wisdom, the Goddess

    Wisdom of Solomon (Book of Wisdom) introduced the Goddess to Judaism

    One of the forgotten books of the Apocrypha, Wisdom of Solomon is a 1st century Greek work originating in Alexandria, Egypt.

    The work relates early Nazarite and Essene understandings of the feminine principle of God at work in the ancient Hebrew tradition.

    Jerome (c. 347 – 420) identified Philo of Alexandria as the author of Wisdom of Solomon (Praef. in lib. Sol.). This view was supported by Luther and other scholars but is disputed by scholars today, many of whom cite the “omission of allegory” as the reason. However, most agree internal evidence suggests Wisdom was written in Greek by a Hellenized Jew, probably in Alexandria during Philo's lifetime (c. 10 BCE - c. 50 ACE.

    In addition to teaching allegory, Philo attempted to merge Judaism with Greek philosophy. Clement of Alexandria called him, “the Pythagorean.” Philo considered Greek philosophy a natural development of the teachings of Moses.

    Whether from Philo's mind or some other, Wisdom of Solomon was an effort to introduce the Goddess ideal to Judaism, perhaps the first step for someone who was attempting to merge the two philosophies.

    Wisdom of Solomon 6:17-20
    "The beginning of Wisdom is the most sincere desire for instruction, and concern for instruction is love of Her, and love of Her is the keeping of Her laws, and giving to Her laws is assurance of immortality, and immortality brings one near to God; so the desire for Wisdom leads to a Kingdom."

    Wisdom of Solomon 7:7-12
    "...I prayed, and understanding was given me; I called upon God, and the Spirit of Wisdom came to me. I preferred Her to scepters and thrones, and I accounted wealth as nothing in comparison with Her. Neither did I liken to Her any priceless gem, because all gold is but a little sand in Her sight, and silver will be accounted as clay before Her. I loved Her more than health and beauty, and I chose to have Her rather than light, because Her radiance never ceases. All good things came to me along with Her, and in Her hands uncounted wealth. I rejoiced in them all, because Wisdom leads them; but I did not know that She was their Mother."

    Wisdom of Solomon 7:22-30
    “For in Her there is a Spirit that is intelligent, holy, unique, manifold, subtle, mobile, clear, unpolluted, distinct, invulnerable, loving the good, keen, irresistible, beneficent, humane, steadfast, sure, free from anxiety, all-powerful, overseeing all and penetrating through all spirits that are intelligent and pure and most subtle.

    For Wisdom is more mobile than any motion; because of Her pureness She pervades and penetrates all things. For She is a Breath of the power of God, and a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty; therefore nothing defiled gains entrance into Her. For She is a reflection of eternal light, a spotless mirror of the working of God, and an image of His goodness.

    Though She is but one, She can do all things, and while remaining in Herself, She renews all things; in every generation She passes into holy souls and makes them friends of God and prophets; for God loves nothing so much as the man who lives with Wisdom. For She is more beautiful than the sun, and excels every constellation of the stars.

    Compared with the light She is found to be superior, for it is succeeded by the night, but against Wisdom evil does not prevail.”

    Wisdom of Solomon 8:1-7
    “She reaches mightily from one end of the earth to the other, and She orders all things well. I loved Her and sought Her from my youth, and I desired to take Her for my bride, and I became enamored of Her beauty.

    She glorifies Her noble birth by living with God, and the Lord of all loves Her. For She is an initiate in the knowledge of God, and an associate in His works.

    If riches are a desirable possession in life, what is richer than Wisdom who effects all things? And if understanding is effective, who more than She is fashioner of what exists? And if anyone loves righteousness, Her labors are virtues; for She teaches self-control and prudence, justice and courage; nothing in life is more profitable for humankind than these.”

    Wisdom of Solomon 1:5-6
    “For a holy and disciplined spirit will flee from deceit,

    and will rise and depart from foolish thoughts…

    “…For Wisdom is a kindly spirit

    and will not free a blasphemer from the guilt of his words…”

    Wisdom of Solomon 6:12-13
    “Wisdom is radiant and unfading,

    and She is easily discerned by those who love Her,

    and is found by those who seek Her.

    She hastens to make herself known to those who desire Her.”

    Biblical scholars of today dispute Jerome’s fourth-century assertion that Philo of Alexandria wrote Wisdom of Solomon. Their arguments usually revolve around the “lack of allegory” contained in Wisdom. Apparently the theme of “Wisdom as Goddess” doesn’t qualify as “allegory.”

    What these scholars ignore, however, is that in addition to Philo’s passion for allegory, he had a second equally-important goal: to merge Judaism with Greek philosophy.
    “No consensus has thus far emerged regarding the date of Wisdom…various scholars have placed it anywhere between 220 BC and 50 AD. There is virtual agreement that the author made use of the LXX (Greek Septuagint) version of Isaiah…Some considerations seem to point to the reign of Gaius “Caligula” (37-41 AD) as the likeliest setting for Wisdom…”

    (Note: Philo: c. 10 BCE to c. 50 ACE; he used the LXX in his work.)
    “The author of the book remains anonymous, and the most we can say is that he was a learned Greek-speaking Jew and probably a teacher, and that he was familiar with Hellenistic philosophy, rhetoric, and culture.” (Note: all characteristics that describe Philo.)

    “St. Jerome recognized that Wisdom was a pseudepigraphon and placed it among those books formally excluded from the Canon (PL 28:124). St. Augustine, who quotes Wisdom close to 800 times, at first attributed it to Ben Sira but later declared the author to be unknown. In his De Praedestinatione Sanctorum 14.26-29, he nevertheless came out in favor of the canonicity of Wisdom.”

    “…emphasis on immortality is the writer’s (of Wisdom) most original and influential contribution to biblical theology. This idea, which was common in some Greek philosophies but barely present in the Hebrew Bible, allowed him to acknowledge the reality of innocent suffering in the present, while defending the omnipotence and justice of God.”

    “Christian understanding of both the Christ event (personification of wisdom) and the idea of wisdom as a “spirit” with cosmic, personal, and historical dimensions contributed greatly to the continuance of the wisdom tradition within Christianity.”

    David A. deSilva writes:
    "There is wider debate concerning the date of Wisdom, which has been placed anywhere between 220 B.C.E. and 100 C.E. The terminus a quo is set by the author's use of the Greek translation (LXX) of Isaiah, Job, and Proverbs, the first of which was probably available by 200 B.C.E...The terminus ad quem is set by the evident use of the work by several New Testament authors... A date within the early period of Roman domination of Egypt, especially the early Roman Principate (or Empire), seems most likely. First, the description of the development of the ruler cult in 14:16-20 best describes not the cult of the Ptolemaic kings of Egypt, a cult that was organized and promoted from the center, but the spontaneous, decentralized development of the imperial cult under Augustus, who was also Egypt's first 'remote' ruler since Alexander...Second, the author uses some thirty-five terms or phrases unattested in secular Greek before the first century C.E. ...” (Note: Augustus died c. 14 ACE, succeeded by his step-son, Tiberius, and then “Caligula.” )

    “The Book of Wisdom contains verses that personify the concept of Wisdom with divine attributes. These verses have long been taken by Christian exegetes as references to Christ, who is called the "Wisdom of God" (1 Cor. 1:24) by Saint Paul the Apostle. For example, in chapter seven, Wisdom is said to be “the fashioner of all things” (v. 22), “an associate in his [God’s] works” (8:4), and a “pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty” (7:25). For Christians, the most definite indication that personified Wisdom refers to the Messiah is the paraphrasing of Wis 7:26 in Heb 1:3. Wis 7:26 says that “she is a reflection of eternal light, a spotless mirror of the working of God, and an image of his goodness.” The author of Hebrews says of Christ: “He reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature, upholding the universe by his word of power” (Hebrews 1:3).”


    There is general agreement among scholars that Wisdom of Solomon was: 1) written in Greek, 2) in Alexandria, Egypt, 3) most likely c. 37 to 40 ACE, 4) by a Hellenized Jewish teacher 5) using the Septuagint who 6) was attempting to merge Judaism with Greek philosophy. One even noted that “Some religious and ethical influences (from Stoicism)…are also found in the writings of…Philo.”! Jerome attributed Wisdom to Philo; Philo meets all the criteria required to be identified as the most likely author of Wisdom. Yet scholars deny him that honor and some Christians attempt to spin “Her…Wisdom” into “Him…Christ.”

    Preceding the Christian Trinity (that the Church insisted was composed of three males) was the Egyptian and Greek Trinity: God, Goddess, Holy Child. The author of Wisdom left blatant clues that reassigned the gender of the entity known as, “Holy Spirit”:

    “Wisdom…a Holy and disciplined Spirit…a kindly Spirit…She hastens to make Herself known.”

    Thanks to Wisdom of Solomon, the secret of the Trinity’s “Holy Spirit” is revealed: She is the Goddess.

    “Father, Son, Holy Spirit” is God, Goddess, Holy Child.

    And, perhaps that is the reason Wisdom of Solomon was rejected by the patriarchal Church Fathers who chose the Christian scriptures to be canonized.

    In addition to defining "Goddess" as "Wisdom," the author (Philo?) also defined "God" as "Knowledge." The goal of a king, as well as his subjects, was to acquire Knowledge from God and to use that knowledge with Wisdom from Goddess for the benefit of all. It was a lesson that is timeless in its value.

    The Wisdom of Solomon:

  • #2
    Re: Wisdom the Goddess

    The Goddess Asherah

    In ancient mythology, the most popular goddesses “came to earth in a ball of fire.” Meteorites were sacred and honored for their perceived relationship to the arrival of the goddess. The ancient Nabataeans (who disappeared in the first century BCE near Emesa (Syria)) and the ancient Emesans (who suddenly appeared in the first century BCE near Emesa) revered a "Sacred Black Stone" they called El Gabal (El=God; Gabal=Mountain).

    El was the supreme God, father of humankind, and creator of all creatures on earth. The word El was found in the ruins of the Royal Library of the Ebla civilization in the archaeological site of Tell Mardikh (Syria) and dated to c. 2300 BCE. Tablets found in excavations at Ugarit (written c. 1300-1200 BCE) named El’s wife; she was the Goddess Asherah (Hebrew אשרה - ASHRH). Asherah was a major Semitic mother goddess who was worshipped in ancient Israel as the consort of El and in Judah as the consort of Yahweh. Of course this was some time before YHVH was transformed to a male-only deity.

    Other deities worshipped at Ugarit were El Shaddai, El Elyon, and El Berith. All of these names are applied to Yahweh by the writers of the Old Testament. What this means is that the Hebrew theologians adopted the titles of the Canaanite gods and attributed them to Yahweh in an effort to eliminate them. If Yahweh is all of these there is no need for the Canaanite gods to exist! This process is known as assimilation.

    This assimilation seems to be demonstrated by the association of El's consort (ie, a goddess), Asherah, with Yahweh.

    Athirat, or as she is referred to sometimes, Ilat (i.e., goddess of the god El), is the most prominent goddess in the Ugaritic pantheon, though her origin appears to go back well before Ugarit (1200-1400 B.C.E.) to the time of the Ebla tablets. In the Ugaritic pantheon she is the consort of El. She is referred to as the "mother of the gods" or "procreatress of the gods." She thus shares in El's creative work. She is also referred to as "Lady Athirat of the sea" and by the Semitic word qd (i.e., holy). She figures prominently in the Ugaritic texts. The name Asherah is the designation often given this goddess in the Old Testament.
    Exodus 3:13: “Then Moses said ‘el-ha·'e·lo·him. ‘If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘Elohei of your fathers sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?

    Exodus 3:14: “E·lo·him (translated as “God,” but literally, “gods”) said to Moses, “AHYH ASHR AHYH.” This important answer Moses received “from the gods” has been translated as “I AM THAT I AM” or “I AM WHO I AM,” or "I AM WHAT I AM."

    For the name of Yahweh (YHWH) to become "I AM" (AHYH) requires a very minor change of Hebrew letters. For the name of the Semetic goddess Asherah (ASHRH) to become "that/who/what" (ASHR) also requires minor changes. (See enlarged images below.)

    If the original text was AHYH ASHRH YHWH, rather than AHYH ASHR AHYH, then the gods’ answer to Moses question, "What is your name?" was: “I AM Mother (Goddess), Father (God)." This thesis is supported by the excavations at Ugarit that identified Yahweh and Asherah (YHVH ASHRH) as Semetic Father-God and Mother-Goddess (masculine and feminine principles). It seems possible, perhaps probable, that “The gods” instructed Moses to tell his people that THEY were YHVH and ASHRH, Father of all and Mother of all.

    In the period of the Judges and the early monarchy, convergence saw the coalescence of the qualities of other deities, and even the deities themselves, into Yahweh. Thus El became identified as a name of Yaweh, Asherah ceased to be a distinct goddess, and qualities of El, Asherah and Baal (notably, for Baal, his identification as a storm-god) were assimilated into Yahweh. In the period from the 9th century BC through to the Exile certain features of the Israelite religion were differentiated from the Yahweh cult, identified as Canaanite, and rejected: examples include Baal, child sacrifice, the Asherah, worship of the sun and moon, and the cults of the "high places".

    Jeremiah's warning may deserve careful consideration. The powerful Patriarchal Priesthood had a great deal to lose if Moses supported those who worshipped YHVH and ASHRH.

    "How can you say, ‘We are wise, and the law of the Lord is with us’?
    But, behold, the false pen of the scribes has made it into a lie."