1For they reasoned unsoundly, saying to themselves,
"Short and sorrowful is our life,
and there is no remedy when a man comes to his end,
and no one has been known to return from Hades.
2Because we were born by mere chance,
and hereafter we shall 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 hearts.
3When it is extinguished, the body will turn to ashes,
and the spirit will dissolve like empty air.
4Our name will be forgotten in time,
and no one will remember our works;
our life will pass away like the traces of a cloud,
and be scattered like mist
that is chased by the rays of the sun
and overcome by its heat.
5For our allotted time is the passing of a shadow,
and there is no return from our death,
because it is sealed up and no one turns back.
6"Come, therefore, let us enjoy the good things that exist,
and make use of the creation to the full as in youth.
7Let us take our fill of costly wine and perfumes,
and let no flower of spring pass by us.
8Let us crown ourselves with rosebuds before they wither.
9Let none of us fail to share in our revelry,
everywhere let us leave signs of enjoyment,
because this is our portion, and this our lot.
10Let us oppress the righteous poor man;
let us not spare the widow
nor regard the gray hairs of the aged.
11But let our might be our law of right,
for what is weak proves itself to be useless.
12"Let us lie in wait for the righteous man,
because he is inconvenient to us and opposes our actions;
he reproaches us for sins against the law,
and accuses us of sins against our training.
13He professes to have knowledge of God,
and calls himself a childa of the Lord.
14He became to us a reproof of our thoughts;
15the very sight of him is a burden to us,
because his manner of life is unlike that of others,
and his ways are strange.
16We are considered by him as something base,
and he avoids our ways as unclean;
he calls the last end of the righteous happy,
and boasts that God is his father.
17Let us see if his words are true,
and let us test what will happen at the end of his life;
18for if the righteous man is God's son, he will help him,
and will deliver him from the hand of his adversaries.
19Let us test him with insult and torture,
that we may find out how gentle he is,
and make trial of his forbearance.
20Let us condemn him to a shameful death,
for, according to what he says, he will be protected."
Error of the Wicked
21Thus they reasoned, but they were led astray,
for their wickedness blinded them,
22and they did not know the secret purposes of God,
nor hope for the wages of holiness,
nor discern the prize for blameless souls;
23for God created man for incorruption,
and made him in the image of his own eternity,b
24but through the devil's envy death entered the world,
and those who belong to his party experience it.