1 For they said* within themselves, with unsound reasoning,
“Our life is short and sorrowful.
There is no healing when a man comes to his end,
and no one was ever known who† was released from Hades.
2 Because we were born by mere chance,
and hereafter we will be as though we had never been,
because the breath in our nostrils is smoke,
and reason is a spark kindled by the beating of our heart,
3 which being extinguished, the body will be turned into ashes,
and the spirit will be dispersed as thin air.
4 Our name will be forgotten in time.
No one will remember our works.
Our life will pass away as the traces of a cloud,
and will be scattered as is a mist,
when it is chased by the rays of the sun,
and‡ overcome by its heat.
5 For our allotted time is the passing of a shadow,
and our end doesn’t retreat,
because it is securely sealed, and no one§ turns it back.
6 “Come therefore and let’s enjoy the good things that exist.
Let’s use the creation earnestly as in our youth.
7 Let’s fill ourselves with costly wine and perfumes,
and let no Spring flower pass us by.
8 Let’s crown ourselves with rosebuds before they wither.
9 Let none of us go without his share in our proud revelry.
Let’s leave tokens of mirth everywhere,
because this is our portion, and this is our lot.
10 Let’s oppress the righteous poor.
Let’s not spare the widow,
nor reverence the gray hair of the old man.
11 But let our strength be a law of righteousness;
for that which is weak is proven useless.
12 But let’s lie in wait for the righteous man,
because he annoys us,
is contrary to our works,
reproaches us with sins against the law,
and charges us with sins against our training.
13 He professes to have knowledge of God,
and calls himself a child of the Lord.
14 He became to us a reproof of our thoughts.
15 He is grievous to us even to look at,
because his life is unlike other men’s,
and his paths are strange.
16 We were regarded by him as worthless metal,
and he abstains from our ways as from uncleanness.
He calls the latter end of the righteous happy.
He boasts that God is his father.
17 Let’s see if his words are true.
Let’s test what will happen at the end 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 Let’s test him with outrage and torture,
that we may find out how gentle he is,
and test his patience.
20 Let’s condemn him to a shameful death,
for he will be overseen according to his words.”
21 Thus they reasoned, and they were led astray;
for their wickedness blinded them,
22 and they didn’t know the mysteries of God,
neither did they hope for wages of holiness,
nor did they discern that there is a prize for blameless souls.
23 Because God created man for incorruption,
and made him an image of his own everlastingness;
24 but death entered into the world by the envy of the devil,
and those who belong to him experience it.
*2:1 Or, among
†2:1 Or, returned out of Hades
‡2:4 Gr. weighed down.
§2:5 Or, comes again