For they said *
within themselves, reasoning not aright,
Short and sorrowful is our life;
And there is no healing when a man cometh to his end,
And none was ever known that †
gave release from Hades.
2 Because by mere chance were we born,
And hereafter we shall be as though we had never been:
Because the breath in our nostrils is smoke,
while our heart beateth reason is a spark,
3 Which being extinguished, the body shall be turned into ashes,
And the spirit shall be dispersed as thin air;
4 And our name shall be forgotten in time,
And no man shall remember our works;
And our life shall pass away as the traces of a cloud,
And shall be scattered as is a mist,
When it is chased by the beams of the sun,
overcome by the heat thereof.
5 For our alloted time is the passing of a shadow,
our end retreateth not;
Because it is fast sealed, and none ††
turneth it back.
Come therefore and let us enjoy the good things ‡‡
And let us use the creation §§
with all our soul ***
as youth’s possession.
7 Let us fill ourselves with costly wine and perfumes;
And let no flower of †††
spring pass us by:
8 Let us crown ourselves with rosebuds, before they be withered:
9 Let none of us go without his share in our proud revelry:
Everywhere let us leave tokens of our mirth:
Because this is our portion, and our lot is this.
10 Let us oppress the righteous poor;
Let us not spare the widow,
Nor reverence the hairs of the old man gray for length of years.
11 But let our strength be to us a law of righteousness;
For that which is weak is ‡‡‡
found to be of no service.
12 But let us lie in wait for the righteous man,
Because he is of disservice to us,
And is contrary to our works,
And upbraideth us with sins against §§§
And layeth to our charge sins against our discipline.
13 He professeth to have knowledge of God,
And nameth himself *
servant of the Lord.
14 He became to us a reproof of our thoughts.
15 He is grievous unto us even to behold,
Because his life is unlike other men’s,
And his paths are of strange fashion.
16 We were accounted of him as base metal,
And he abstaineth from our ways as from uncleannesses.
The latter end of the righteous he calleth happy;
And he vaunteth that God is his father.
17 Let us see if his words be true,
And let us try what shall befall in the ending of his life.
18 For if the righteous man is God’s son, he will uphold him,
And he will deliver him out of the hand of his adversaries.
19 With outrage and torture let us put him to the test,
That we may learn his gentleness,
And may prove his patience under wrong.
20 Let us condemn him to a shameful death;
he shall be visited according to his words.
21 Thus reasoned they, and they were led astray;
For their ‡
wickedness blinded them,
22 And they knew not the mysteries of God,
Neither hoped they for wages of holiness,
Nor did they judge that there is a prize for blameless souls.
23 Because God created man for incorruption,
And made him an image of his own §
24 But by the envy of the devil death entered into the world,
And they that are of his portion make trial thereof.