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Ramban on the Authenticity of the Wisdom of Solomon


Ramban on the Authenticity of the Wisdom of Solomon
by
James Scott Trimm



The Wisdom of Solomon is one of the books found in the "Apocrypha". According to Melito in the second century CE, the Wisdom of Solomon was in his day considered canonical by both Jews and Christians.

Ramban (Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman) (1194-1270 C.E.) wrote one of the most authoritative Torah commentaries in Rabbinic Judaism.  In his Introduction to his Commentary to the Torah Ramban quotes from an Aramaic version of the Wisdom of Solomon and takes these quotes as the authentic words of Solomon:

King Solomon, peace be upon him, whom G-d had given wisdom and knowledge, derived it all from the Torah, and from it he studied until he knew the secret of all things created, even of the forces and characteristics of plants, so that he wrote about them even a Book of Medicine, as it is written, And he spoke of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall (1Kings 5:13)

Now I have seen the Aramaic translation of the book called The Great Wisdom of Solomon, and in it is written: "There is nothing new in the birth of a king or ruler; there is one entrance for all people into the world, and one exit alike. Therefore I have prayed, and the spirit of wisdom was given to me, and I have called out and the spirit of knowledge came to me; I chose it above scepter and throne." (Wisdom 7:3-8) And it is further said there: "It is G-d alone Who gives knowledge that contains no falsehood, [enabling one] to know how the world arose, the composition of the constellations, the beginning, the end and middle of the times, the angles of the ends of the constellations, and how the seasons are produced by the movement of heavens and the fixed positions of the stars, the benign nature of cattle and the fierceness of beasts, the power of the wind and the thoughts of man, the relationship of trees and the forces of roots; everything hidden and everything revealed I know." (Wisdom 7:17-21)  All this Solomon knew from the Torah, and he found everything in it - in its simple meanings, in the subtleties of its expressions and its letters and its strokes, as I have mentioned.
(Ramban; The Introduction to the Commentary on the Torah)

Ramban had studied the Aramaic (Peshitta?) version of the Wisdom of Solomon and was convinced that it recorded the actual words of Solomon!  There is much for us to learn from this very important book.

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