Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Right. He shews how the wicked brought death into the world, and expresses the sentiments of the epicureans, as in Ecclesiastes. The six first chapters are a sort of paraphrase of the nine first of Proverbs, in which the attractions of virtue and of pleasure are contrasted, &c. (Calmet) — Remedy. Literally, “refreshment.” Septuagint, “healing.” — Hell, or the grave. (Haydock) — They reject as fabulous, the accounts of people being raised to life by miracle. (Calmet) — They suppose that the soul is mortal, and that there is neither reward nor punishment after death. (Worthington)
Ver. 2. Nothing. Septuagint, “by chance.” The epicureans imagined that the first man was produced by the conflux of atoms. (Lucret. i. 5.) (Calmet) — Smoke, or vanishes like it. — And speech. Budæus would substitute “a little spark.” — Speech may be used for “thing.” Our life is something like a spark. (Menochius) — Speech is an effect of the rational soul, as a spark comes from fire. (Calmet)
Ver. 5. Sealed, like one in the tomb, Matthew xxvii. 66. The epicureans were well convinced of the fragility of our nature: but they drew false inferences from it, pretending that we should enjoy ourselves now, as there will be no future life. This they ought to have proved. (Calmet)
Ver. 6. Come. From the disbelief of future rewards and punishments proceeds the epicure’s life. (Worthington)
Ver. 7. Time. Alexandrian Septuagint, “of spring.” (Haydock) — Youth is the spring of life. The voluptuous conclude, from the transitory nature of things, that we should make use of them. Would it not be more rational to despise them? (Calmet)
Ver. 11. Worth. Strange maxims! which few will dare to proclaim, though they act according to them. (Calmet)
Ver. 12. Just. Infidels are not content to live in riot: they also persecute the just. (Worthington) — This passage points out the conduct of the Jews towards our Saviour, in so striking a manner, that Grotius would assert it has been altered by some Christian. But the Fathers adduce it as a clear prediction (Calmet) of the Jewish malice, Matthew xxvii. 41., and Mark xiv. 53. (Worthington)
Ver. 13. Knowledge. The prophets spoke to sinners in the name of God, and many of them lost their lives in the cause. Christ appeared as a new star, to promote their welfare; yet this only serves to irritate them. (Calmet) (John viii. 16.)
Ver. 20. Words. Or he shall be punished for what he has said. (Syriac, Vat.[Vatable?], &c.) (Matthew xxvi. 61.) (Calmet) — We shall hence form a judgment of his real merits, (Menochius) unless this be spoken ironically; as if the just had foolishly flattered himself with the divine protection, Matthew xxvii. 43. (Haydock)
Ver. 22. Secrets. The disbelief of mysteries leads to a dissolute life, and to the persecution of the just. (Worthington) — The pagans knew not the advantages of suffering, and even the apostles were ignorant of the mystery of the cross, till after the resurrection. (Calmet)
Ver. 24. Envy. Lucifer thought that the honour of the hypostatic union (Calmet) belonged to the angelical, rather than to the human nature; and this he was guilty of envy, (Haydock) and strove to become like the most High, Isaias xiv. 14. (St. Bernard, ser. xvii. in Canticle of Canticles) (Cornelius a Lapide, &c.)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
The vain reasonings of the wicked: their persecuting the just, especially the Son of God.
1 For they have said, reasoning with themselves, but not right: *The time of our life is short and tedious, and in the end of a man there is no remedy, and no man hath been known to have returned from hell:
2 For we are born of nothing, and after this we shall be as if we had not been: for the breath in our nostrils is smoke: and speech a spark to move our heart,
3 Which being put out, our body shall be ashes, and our spirit shall be poured abroad as soft air, and our life shall pass away as the trace of a cloud, and shall be dispersed as a mist, which is driven away by the beams of the sun, and overpowered with the heat thereof:
4 And our name in time shall be forgotten, and no man shall have any remembrance of our works.
5 *For our time is as the passing of a shadow, and there is no going back of our end: for it is fast sealed, and no man returneth:
6 *Come, therefore, and let us enjoy the good things that are present, and let us speedily use the creatures as in youth.
7 Let us fill ourselves with costly wine, and ointments: and let not the flower of the time pass by us.
8 Let us crown ourselves with roses, before they be withered: let no meadow escape our riot.
9 Let none of us go without his part in luxury: let us every where leave tokens of joy: for this is our portion, and this our lot.
10 Let us oppress the poor just man, and not spare the widow, nor honour the ancient grey hairs of the aged.
11 But let our strength be the law of justice: for that which is feeble is found to be nothing worth.
12 Let us, therefore, lie in wait for the just, because he is not for our turn, and he is contrary to our doings, and upbraideth us with transgressions of the law, and divulgeth against us the sins of our way of life.
13 *He boasteth that he hath the knowledge of God, and calleth himself the son of God.
14 *He is become a censurer of our thoughts.
15 He is grievous unto us, even to behold: for his life is not like other men’s, and his ways are very different.
16 We are esteemed by him as triflers, and he abstaineth from our ways as from filthiness, and he preferreth the latter end of the just, and glorieth that he hath God for his father.
17 Let us see then if his words be true, and let us prove what shall happen to him, and we shall know what his end shall be.
18 *For if he be the true son of God, he will defend him, and will deliver him from the hands of his enemies.
19 Let us examine him by outrages and tortures, that we may know his meekness, and try his patience.
20 *Let us condemn him to a most shameful death: for there shall be respect had unto him by his words.
21 These things they thought, and were deceived: for their own malice blinded them.
22 And they knew not the secrets of God, nor hoped for the wages of justice, nor esteemed the honour of holy souls.
23 *For God created man incorruptible, and to the image of his own likeness he made him.
24 *But by the envy of the devil, death came into the world:
25 And they follow him that are of his side.
1: Job vii. 1. and xiv. 1.
5: 1 Paralipomenon xxix. 15.
6: Isaias xxii. 13. and lvi. 12.; 1 Corinthians xv. 32.
13: Matthew xxvii. 42.
14: Psalm xxi. 9.
18: Jeremias xi. 19.
20: Jeremias xi. 19.
23: Genesis i. 27. and ii. 7. and v. 1.; Ecclesiasticus xvii. 1.
24: Genesis iii. 1.