But miserable, with their hopes set on dead things,
are the men who give the name "gods" to the works of men's hands,
gold and silver fashioned with skill,
and likenesses of animals, or a useless stone,
the work of an ancient hand.
A skilled woodcutter may saw down a tree easy to handle and skilfully strip off all its bark,
and then with pleasing workmanship make a useful vessel that serves life's needs,
and burn the castoff pieces of his work to prepare his food, and eat his fill.
But a castoff piece from among them, useful for nothing,
a stick crooked and full of knots,
he takes and carves with care in his leisure, and shapes it with skill gained in idleness;
he forms it like the image of a man,
or makes it like some worthless animal,
giving it a coat of red paint and coloring its surface red
and covering every blemish in it with paint;
then he makes for it a niche that befits it,
and sets it in the wall,
and fastens it there with iron.
So he takes thought for it, that it may not fall,
because he knows that it cannot help itself,
for it is only an image and has need of help.
When he prays about possessions and his marriage and children,
he is not ashamed to address a lifeless thing.
For health he appeals to a thing that is weak;
for life he prays to a thing that is dead;
for aid he entreats a thing that is utterly inexperienced;
for a prosperous journey, a thing that cannot take a step;
for money-making and work and success with his hands
he asks strength of a thing whose hands have no strength.
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