Monday, July 6, 2009

Where Wisdom Dwells (NOT!)

Wisdom did not find a place where she might dwell,
so her dwelling was in heaven.
Wisdom went forth to dwell among the sons of men,
but she did not find a dwelling.
Wisdom returned to her place,
and sat down among the angels.

Iniquity went forth from her chambers,
those whom she did not seek she found,
and she dwelt among them
like rain in a desert
and dew in a thirsty land.

(1 Enoch 42:1-3; trans. Nickelsburg).
What a burn for Sirach 24! In fact, George Nickelsburg calls this passage a parody of Sir. 24, where Wisdom searches the whole earth for a place sto stay and lodges in Israel on Zion:

"And he [the Creator] said, "Make your dwelling in Jacob,
and in Israel receive your inheritance." (Sir. 24:8)
Once Wisdom returns to heaven, Iniquity goes out. Iniquity clearly offers some sort of consolation as "rain" and "dew," but supposedly these would be temporary salves, pleasures that lead away from the eternal Wisdom, who, unlike in Sirach, can only be found in heaven. But who are those Inquiry found but did not seek? Is it that Iniquity seeks no one, but people seek her? Or, if the first part is a parody of Sir. 24, is this taking its lead from Prov. 9:13-18? Perhaps teh entire structure of this brief passage resembles all of Proverbs 9, since it too begins with Wisdom's place and ends with the "foolish woman," the counterrepresentation to Wisdom as Iniquity is here.

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