The Root of Jesse, Day 2

“The Root of Jesse, Day 2”
Isaiah 11:2a
©️2020 by Gloria M. Chang

The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him:
a spirit of wisdom and of understanding…

Isaiah 11:2a


In Hebrew, wisdom (chokmah) encompasses both sagacity and skill. Kings and artisans received the spirit of wisdom to rule in their respective spheres. 

In the book of Exodus, skilled craftsmen in embroidery, gold, silver, bronze, gems, stone and wood were filled with the spirit of wisdom to design vestments, the tent of meeting, the ark of the covenant, furnishings, the table, utensils, the gold menorah, and altars (Exodus 28:3; 31:1-11; 35:30-33). Women whose hearts were lifted up with wisdom spun goat hair (Exodus 35:26).

Wise-hearted artisans develop refined and delicate perceptions, and know how to distinguish between suitable and unsuitable materials. Those who are wise in divine and human affairs know how to distinguish between good and evil. The Lord filled Solomon, upon his request, with a “wise and understanding heart” to distinguish between “good and evil” (1 Kings 3:5-12). Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah also received the gift of “wisdom and understanding” surpassing all the magicians and enchanters in the kingdom of Babylon (Daniel 1:17-20). 


The word for understanding (binah) comes from the verb bin (to discern). Both are related to the verbal root banah (to build). The king of Tyre commended Solomon in glowing terms that combined all of these ideas:

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who made heaven and earth, for having given King David a wise son of intelligence and understanding, who will build a house for the Lord and also his own royal house.

2 Chronicles 2:11 (NABRE; 2:12 in other translations)

The Book of Proverbs attributed to Solomon also attests:

By wisdom a house is built,
by understanding it is established.

Proverbs 24:3

The God of wisdom and understanding made the heavens and the earth:

It is he who made the earth by his power, who established the world by his wisdom, and by his understanding stretched out the heavens.

Jeremiah 51:15 (RSV)

Joseph and Jesus—the carpenter and his son—like Father and Son are wise builders of the house of the Lord, the kingdom of God.

One Reply to “The Root of Jesse, Day 2”

  1. Dear GMC, Your reflection today leads me to Pope Francis: “If we listen to the Holy Spirit, he teaches us this way of wisdom, he endows us with wisdom, which is seeing with God’s eyes, hearing with God’s ears, loving with God’s heart, directing things with God’s judgement.” Thank you, GMC, for lifting your heart up with wisdom, and helping us love with ours.

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