The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him:Isaiah 11:2a
a spirit of wisdom and of understanding…
In Hebrew, wisdom (chokmah) encompasses both sagacity and skill. Kings and artisans received the spirit of wisdom to rule in their respective spheres.
By the spirit of chokmah, skilled craftsmen in embroidery, gold, silver, bronze, gems, stone, and wood designed 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). Lifted up with chokmah, women gracefully spun goat hair (Exodus 35:26).
Wise-hearted artisans with refined and delicate perceptions know how to distinguish between suitable and unsuitable materials. Likewise, sages 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,” enabling him to distinguish between “good and evil” (1 Kings 3:5-12). Similarly, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah received the gift of “wisdom and understanding,” surpassing 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(12)
The Book of Proverbs attributed to Solomon also attests:
By wisdom a house is built,
by understanding it is established.
The God of wisdom and understanding created 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)
In God, Art and Wisdom Are One
Greek philosophy makes a sharp distinction between techne (art, skill) and sophia (wisdom). However, the Biblical concepts of chokmah (wisdom) and binah (understanding) integrate them. Creation and contemplation proceed from the same divine source.
Like the Father and the Son, Joseph and Jesus—the carpenter and his son—wisely build the house of the Lord, the kingdom of God.
3 Replies to “The Root of Jesse, Day 2”
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.
“Wise-hearted artisans with refined and delicate perceptions know how to distinguish between suitable and unsuitable materials. Likewise, sages in divine and human affairs know how to distinguish between good and evil.”
God as the ultimate Artisan knows how to weave the threads of my life tapestry. What I often see is a jumble of crossed threads. God sees the beautiful top side and smiles.
“You formed my inmost being;
you knit me in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, because I am wonderfully made;
wonderful are your works!”
Thank you, Lord, for your daughter Liz.