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House of Lady Wisdom

My favorite one-day road trip is to a little town in Michigan called Frankenmuth. I grew up going there and now, spontaneously, I will try to talk my kids and mostly my wife into driving roughly an hour to this quaint little town. My wife is Greek, so she grew up making the hour drive south to Greektown in downtown Detroit and eating at Pegasus. Growing up, my family regularly made the drive north. The town was founded by German immigrants in the 1800s. It’s a celebration of their German heritage under the cover of a well-designed tourist trap. There are gift shops, fudge shops, toy stores, waterparks, candy shops, hotels, the world’s largest Christmas store called Bronner’s, and tons of other stuff. There is lots of stuff! One of my best friends hates it there. He says it’s overrated, and he’s right. But I have emotional, nostalgic recollections and memories there, so I love it.

One road drives through Frankenmuth and if you’ve never been there (or if you have), just around the curve from Bronner’s and over the bridge, you notice two very large restaurants, extremely close to the road, and right across the street from each other. On the west side of the road is Zehnder’s, a beautiful white building that is the original site of the “famous chicken dinners.” While across the street is Bavarian Inn, which looks, at least to my uncultured self, more German than Zehnder’s. I’ve eaten at both places more times than I can count. The menus are nearly identical: chicken noodle soup, famous fried chicken, standard Thanksgiving dishes like mashed potatoes, gravy, etc., and then magic noodles. I don’t even know if the noodles are German, but they are fabulous. Zehnder’s was founded and run by the Zehnder family. According to Judy Zehnder, granddaughter of the founder and I would assume a grandmother herself now, when the family across the street wanted to sell, the Zehnder family decided to buy a second restaurant. So, until the 1980s, the Zehnder family actually owned and operated both restaurants. Today they are owned by cousins.

In Frankenmuth, I’ve always based the decision of which place to choose, Zehnder’s or Bavarian Inn, on how long the wait is and how nostalgic I’m feeling. If one is super busy, the other is right across the street, probably around a hundred feet away. That’s how I envision the two houses presented by Solomon in Proverbs: directly across the street from each other and impossible to see one without seeing the other.

The long introduction of the book of Proverbs that begins in chapter one comes to an end in chapter 9. We recognize that included in the introduction is both the “Praise of wisdom” and the warning of choosing the path of the fool. As we read, we come to “the crossroads of Proverbs 9.” Beyond this chapter are the real proverbs of proverbs. But before the proverbs can begin, the reader must choose a direction, a heading. Proverbs is a sort of choose your own adventure book. We can choose the house that Wisdom owns and operates or the frat-house of Folly. Two houses and hostesses each inviting, enticing, and wooing travelers to stop in and stay awhile. In these next two chapters, we are going to look at these two very different houses. Unlike Frankenmuth where the menus, hosts, and setting are pretty similar, these two houses couldn’t be more different.

“Wisdom has built her house; she has hewn her seven pillars. She has slaughtered her beasts; she has mixed her wine; she has also set her table. She has sent out her young women to call from the highest places in the town, ‘Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!’ To him who lacks sense she says, ‘Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. Leave your simple ways, and live, and walk in the way of insight.’” (Proverbs 9:1-6)

First is the House of Lady Wisdom. Now before we go any further, we need to recognize that Wisdom is a fictional, literary personification. She isn’t real. Don’t take this passage of Scripture further than the author intended. Throughout the centuries, many have suffered devastating spiritual consequences as a result. Wisdom is a fictional character created to help us learn truth and grasp challenging lessons. She isn’t an angel, Greek goddess, or feminine manifestation of God. Once we settle those fundamental truths, we can enjoy the poetry of Proverbs and truly engage with Lady Wisdom.


We met Wisdom back in Proverbs chapter 1 but chapter 8 is the more thorough profile of Lady Wisdom. “Now is wisdom’s turn to exhibit her attractions – in the open, not lurking in secret.” (See Proverbs 7:12 for the contrast with a lurking predator.) Wisdom is stunningly beautiful, but not in a scandalous, sensual way. Sadly, many fools with just a quick glance deem Wisdom boring and forgettable, yet she is a priceless beauty. The imagery of Proverbs chapter 8 has an undercurrent of a love story. It’s an invitation to fall in love with Wisdom. She says, “I love those who love me” (Proverbs 8:17). It’s a romance, a heartfelt pursuit. Not to be too silly, but it’s a heart-pounding, weak in the knees, I can’t live a minute without her, I can’t wait to see her passionate desire. It’s “going out of our usual way” to run into her. I remember when Jen and I fell in love, I would do anything to run into her, going way out of my normal way or routine just to see her. In this romance with Lady Wisdom, authors go as far to even suggest relating to wisdom as a lover, intimate partner, and they paint the picture of taking a romantic walk with her. In the story of Solomon’s request for wisdom, he is clearly captivated by the beauty of Wisdom. She outshines the allure of power or money or even long life. His choice of wisdom actually resulted in securing both power and wealth.

“Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding.” (Proverbs 3:13)

“She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her.” (Proverbs 3:15)

“The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight. Prize her highly, and she will exalt you; she will honor you if you embrace her.” (Proverbs 4:7-8)

“[Wisdom] is better than gold, even fine gold, and my yield than choice silver.” (Proverbs 8:19)

“There is gold and abundance of costly stones, but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel.” (Proverbs 20:15)

“Buy truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding.” (Proverbs 23:23)

Nearly the entirety of chapter 8 is Wisdom’s “introduction” and speech in praise of herself. Wisdom declares her value, by explaining that she is from God. She says, “The Lord possessed me at the beginning of his work…when there were no depths I was brought forth” (Proverbs 8:22, 24). Wisdom was there when the world was made (Proverbs 8:22-29), so she knows how things work. Better said, she knows how things are supposed to work. “The metaphor [possessed me or] ‘brought me forth’ signifies that Solomon’s inspired wisdom comes from God’s essential being; it is a revelation that has an organic connection with God’s very nature and being, unlike the rest of creation that came into existence outside of him and independent from his being.” To reject Wisdom then is to reject the heart and mind of God. To reject Wisdom is to reject the key necessity of life. If God didn’t or couldn’t create the world apart from Wisdom, how can we live one second without it? This incredible, priceless beauty invites us to a feast at her house.


The house that Lady Wisdom built is described as having “seven pillars” (Proverbs 9:1) that she hewed. What a woman! The “seven supporting pillars points to an exceptionally large, grand, and stately structure where numerous guests are expected.” She is not only a skilled carpenter, contractor, and builder, she’s also an exceptional hostess. She has prepared a feast, a party. “She has slaughtered her beasts; she has mixed her wine; she has also set her table” (Proverbs 9:2). She sends out the invitations (Proverbs 8:3) to the simple and to those who lack sense. It’s a very public invitation (Proverbs 8:3). There is nothing exclusive about her guest list. She invites everyone. There can be a wait at the House of Wisdom. Just knock on the door and wait patiently. Across the street, Folly offers instant gratification that leads to death. Wisdom offers gratification, after a wait, that leads to life everlasting. In Proverbs 8:34 (NLT), Wisdom gives the beatitude of, “Joyful are those who listen to me, watching for me daily at my gates, waiting for me outside my home!” This isn’t a creeper. Remember, this is LOVE! Waiting is a joy, not an annoyance when you are in love.

I was once asked to speak at an event for young adults. Just a quick side note, I’m a terrible guest speaker. And for hipster, young adults, it’s a struggle, since I’ve never been cool a day in my life. I had what I thought was a brilliant illustration for this point of waiting, not just about sex, but waiting on God. So I brought in a grill and started grilling hot dogs and a steak. The idea was that we settle for hot dogs, which cook quickly, rather than waiting patiently for the steak that God is marinating and perfectly preparing for us. The illustration made sense to me, but what didn’t work was that I’m also a terrible cook. So rather than serving to illustrate the appeal of God, most people sitting there either couldn’t figure out why I was grilling, or they wanted a hot dog. Actually, I think some of them lost their appetite altogether. You might realize I struggle with illustrations, especially seeing that this is my second food-related illustration in one chapter. Anyway, the point still stands. We don’t like to wait; we want what we want now. We demand instant gratification. Wisdom often makes us wait. Ok, let’s get back to Wisdom’s party.

Some authors see this as a feast to celebrate the completion of Lady Wisdom’s home. But this is no stuffy, boring dinner “party.” This isn’t a church social or lecture. This is a real celebration! There is music and dancing (Luke 15:25). Proverbs 8:31 says of Wisdom, that she is found “rejoicing in His inhabited world and delighting in the children of man.” The image of Wisdom at creation, and I would add in her house as well, is the “fullness of joy” and “pleasures forevermore!” (Psalm 16:11). Derek Kidner writes, “Wisdom is the spring of joy, for joy breaks out whenever and wherever the Creator’s wisdom is exercised.” What a party! However, this is not a meaningless or hollow time; Wisdom is throwing a bash to celebrate God’s creation, His goodness, and His character. Wisdom and her guests are worshipping! Like King David dancing before the Lord with reckless abandonment (2 Samuel 6), Wisdom invites us to a limitless feast of meat and wine with the best music ever and the most joyous dancing, all in her exquisite mansion. This sounds, sadly, unchristian to most, but this is the celebration at the House of Wisdom. If you’re a Baptist, you might be waiting for the catch or the fine print! There isn’t a catch or any fine print to read. Wisdom is throwing a party.

The feast of meat, bread, and wine is Solomon’s poetic way of elevating our view of Wisdom’s teaching. Her teaching isn’t junk food. It is substantial and fit for royalty.

“Take my instruction instead of silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you may desire cannot compare with her.” (Proverbs 8:10-11)

“The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death.” (Proverbs 13:14)


The book of Hebrews begins, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets” (Hebrews 1:1). The “literary personification” or fictional, literary character Wisdom, is one of the “diverse manners” (KJV) or “many ways” God has spoken to us and revealed Himself to mankind. Wisdom personified is the “revelation of God.” Wisdom only comes from God. Throughout Scripture and more specifically Proverbs, wisdom serves as a typology, that is to say, something or someone is like or similar to or directs us to someone else. Wisdom is a type of Christ, similar and like Christ, and ultimately points us to Christ. Hebrews chapter 1 continues, “…in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:2-3). The Apostle Paul writes to the philosophically and worldly-wisdom obsessed Corinthian church, “Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God…And because of him you are in Christ Jesus who became to us wisdom from God” (1 Corinthians 1:24, 30). Jesus is the wisdom of God. He is from God. He is the revelation of God in the flesh. “The personifying of wisdom, far from overshooting the literal truth, was a preparation for its full statement, since the agent of creation was no mere activity of God, but the Son, His eternal Word, Wisdom, and Power.”

Over the centuries people have wrestled with this feminine typology for Christ. Others have run with this type to turn God into a she or other twisted teachings. No, this isn’t transgendered Jesus in Proverbs chapter 8. Again, this isn’t a feminine side of God. This is Old Testament wisdom literature. It’s poetry. Saying this is the feminine side of Jesus because the New Testament writers see similarities or typology in this passage, takes poetry and typology beyond their purposes. John the Baptist identifies Jesus as “the lamb of God,” which is an Old Testament type. John the Baptist isn’t saying Jesus was part man and part lamb. Or the Apostle John in Revelation, describing Jesus with the lion of the tribe of Judah, isn’t saying Jesus is part lion. If you’re keeping track, this line of reasoning could leave us with a Jesus that is part man, part woman, lion, lamb, and so on. Really quickly, things get weird. This nonsense takes the meaning of Proverbs chapter 8 beyond its intended purpose. Nor is Proverbs chapter 8 the creation of Jesus. John 1:1 debunks that heresy, “In the beginning was the Word, and Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Jehovah’s Witnesses and others will try to craftily use Proverbs to teach that Jesus was created. Rather than declaring “Christ…the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:24), they misuse and abuse the wisdom passage. Instead of embracing Wisdom, they spread doctrinal foolishness. They live and invite others to a religious House of Folly.


Like Lady Wisdom, Jesus has a house, prepares a feast, sends out invitations, and hosts a celebration. As the Simple, we must decide whether to knock on the door and accept His invitation or walk across the street to Folly’s house.

On the night that He would be betrayed, Jesus explained to the disciples “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:2). “The picture is…of a father building additional rooms onto his house for his sons and their families, as was often done in Israel.” Like Lady Wisdom, Jesus is building a house. And not a small house, “a big, big house.” William Barclay writes, “An earthly house becomes overcrowded; an earthly inn must turn away the weary traveler because its accommodation is exhausted. It is not so with our Father’s house, for Heaven is as wide as the heart of God, and in Heaven there is room for all.” Lady Wisdom’s fictional house has seven pillars. The number seven is not used to incite fanciful numeric interpretations. Its main purpose is to serve as a typology of a much grander, eternal home. We, as the children of God, are welcomed into this place of refuge and rest. Proverbs 14:26 promises, “In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge.” This is the house of Wisdom, the House of the Lord, that all the faithful through the ages will gather in. Jesus said, “Many will come from the east and west to recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 8:11).

The Father has a spectacular house that Jesus Christ has built for us. Not only is the house incredible, the more poetic side of David celebrated that the Lord has “prepare[d] a feast” and “my cup overflows with blessings” (Psalm 23:5, NLT). And there is plenty of space at the table! The meal is two courses. It’s called the Lord’s Supper. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, about this feast.

“For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, ‘This is my body; which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’” (1 Corinthians 11:23-25)

Christ invites us to a meal, where the food is his body and blood. This isn’t cannibalism. Contrary to what some teach, Jesus isn’t giving His literal body and blood for food. In John chapter 4, Jesus likens Himself to “living water” (John 4:10), and then in John 6:51, He calls Himself “the living bread.” The teaching is that who Jesus is and what He offers is what our souls truly crave and long for. He is the feast that our souls “hunger and thirst for” (Matthew 5:6). He gives us Himself, because He alone satisfies.

“As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” (Psalm 42:1-2)

“O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you.” (Psalm 63:1)

“For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.” (Psalm 107:9)

“My soul is consumed with longing for your rules at all times.” (Psalm 119:20)

“My soul yearns for you in the night; my spirit within me earnestly seeks you.” (Isaiah 26:9)

“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?” (Isaiah 55:1-2)

“The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.” (Revelation 22:17)

Typology has its limits and we have to handle Scripture with care, but notice in Proverbs chapter 8, a slaughter (verse 2), mixed wine (verse 2), women crying out (verse 3), fools (verse 4), more bread, and wine, and an invitation to live. That is the cross and the resurrection. Jesus was ruthlessly slaughtered on Golgotha and offered wine mixed with gall (Matthew 27:34). As He carried His cross, Jesus spoke to the faithful women who followed Him. “Daughters of Jerusalem,” He said, “do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children” (Luke 23:28). Luke records the fools: the thieves, the religious leaders, and the soldiers, who rejected Christ, the embodied wisdom of God. His body was broken (the bread) and His blood was spilled (the wine). Through it all, the Gospel message rang out: “whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25). True life, real living, could only be found through the wisdom of God at the cross.

As with Wisdom, the feast that Jesus offers is Himself and His way of life. We can understand that, as His teaching or as His words. The writers of the New Testament often use the title or phrase “Word of God” interchangeably as either a title of Christ or Scripture (example – Hebrews 4:12). Context helps us understand what they mean. The fact that they use “Word of God” for both Jesus and Scripture is not because they are the exact same thing. The Bible currently sitting in front of me isn’t Jesus on my desk, nor is Jesus a living book just walking around. That’s a weird image. Apparently, with some whacked interpretation, Jesus can be part man, woman, lion, lamb, bread, wine, and now book. And…he’s totally edible? Gross. The reason the writers of the New Testament do this is because both Jesus and the Scripture are the revelation of God. Some have explained it as “the Living Word” and “the Written Word.” Both are the wisdom and the revelation of God.

“Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts.” (Jeremiah 15:16)

“The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart.” (Psalm 19:7-8)

“For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” (Proverbs 2:6)

“Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.” (Proverbs 30:5-6)

In Jesus’ defense against the temptations of the devil, the Lord quotes Deuteronomy 8:3. “It is written,” Jesus replies, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). Jesus was responding to a specific temptation to miraculously satisfy His physical hunger and prove His son-ship. He chose instead the feast of Wisdom rather than fill His stomach with Folly’s stolen bread (Proverbs 9:17 and a hint to the next chapter). The words of God were like food, like sustenance to Jesus. They sustained Him. The same is true for us. Christ has laid out a feast unlike any other for us. “The problem for us is, He is willing to tell us hard things. He does not flatter us. He can be blunt…Sometimes His words come with a bite, and we have to swallow hard, but there is not bitter aftertaste.” That’s the food in God’s house.


After the house is finished, the feast prepared, and the table has been set, the invitation goes out: “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!” (Proverbs 9:4). Jesus tells a parable (story) that is remarkably similar to the beginning of Proverbs chapter 9. Jesus, the master storyteller begins:

“A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.’” (Luke 14:16-24)

People were invited to a great banquet, but found every excuse possible to avoid going. Like the servants in Jesus’ story, Wisdom and her “young women” (Proverbs 9:3) issue their invitations in highly visible places, at crossroads, gates, and the entrance to the city. Only a fool would ignore this invitation. Through the prophet Jeremiah, God laments, “When I spoke to you persistently you did not listen, and when I called you, you did not answer” (Jeremiah 7:13).

Jesus told that great parable in response to a man who assumed, without any question, that he would be part of the Kingdom of Heaven. The quest for Wisdom and entrance into the House of Wisdom is synonymous with the journey into the Kingdom of God. If you miss everything else in this entire book, do not miss how to be certain that you will live eternally in the Kingdom of Heaven. The host in Jesus’ story longs to see his house filled. That is the heart of God. He welcomes into His royal hall all who knock. Jesus says, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8). When we lack wisdom, we come to Christ, not knowing everything or really anything, but realizing He knows everything. We petition the divine for wisdom, recognizing Him as the source. We realize He is not just another fountain of wisdom, but He alone is God’s wisdom. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” Each of us must admit “…you can have Him, not by heroic intellectual pursuit but by humbly admitting the truth – you are a fool who needs a Sage.” Seeking for wisdom is seeking for God’s truth. Jesus is the human embodiment of that truth, the revelation of God.

We must choose to check in at the House of Wisdom. Humbly ask for directions from Wisdom’s messengers, quickly and earnestly seek Wisdom’s house, and once you get there knock on the door. Just wait patiently, the host’s party is worth the wait. “You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat” (Matthew 5:6, The Message).

Claire, Belle, Maverick, Ruby, Mavis,

Do you remember that one time I brought home a milk cow? Or the time we bought a bull? Your Dad always puts up with my crazy ideas. Girls, free piece of advice…find yourself a man that will help make your outlandish dreams come true. And if not help, at least tolerate. Ha!

One reason we got Penny was so I could continue teaching you about real food. There is nothing like making chocolate milk with her raw milk, or butter. Ooooo don’t forget yogurt and coffee creamer. I can’t wait to try ice cream when she has another calf. I am always trying to educate you on good eating habits. How many times have we had the talk about good, whole foods compared to “food-like substances!” I bust my butt making sure you get good whole foods, raw milk, homemade bread, foods we grow and can. But occasionally I have to let you try the “food-like substances”, like pop tarts, Oreos, McDonald’s, Coke, Twinkies, etc… I remember when Dad took Mavis to the gas station and he came home horrified that she didn’t know what a Twinkie was. I was rather proud that she didn’t. He told her to go grab one, she went to take the entire box! That’s when I realized, she doesn’t really spend a whole lotta time on the inside of a gas station. He instructed her to grab just one. I love Dad’s comparison of the Lord/Wisdom being those good whole foods at a major feast. They are nourishing to your body, they feed you, sustain you and fill you. The Lord nourishes us, feeds us, sustains and fills us. The world offers us “food-like substances'” It's like the cereal you guys always want to eat on Sunday mornings and then in between gatherings you always complain about how hungry you are. It doesn’t fill you. It doesn’t sustain you. You’re hungry, sugar crashing, and just plain feel like crap. What the world is serving up is, cheap, empty and worthless. They are no substitute for the real thing. There is no substitute for the Lord or for Wisdom in your life. Whenever you leave me, I always remind you to make wise choices. I can’t make them for you. Job 32:8-9 says, “But it is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand. It is not the old who are wise, nor the aged who understand what is right.” Wisdom is not just for the old, it is for you, for me, it is for all who seek it from the Lord.

Love, Mom

Questions for Reflection

What’s your favorite day trip?

What’s the best hotel, motel, B&B, lodge, etc. that you’ve ever stayed at?

What made it great?

In your imagination, how do you see the House of Wisdom?

How do you picture Lady Wisdom?

Do you value wisdom? Are there things you value more?

How is Wisdom’s party different than you imagined? Are you surprised by Psalm 16:11?

How do you understand Christ as “the wisdom of God?”

Are you regularly eating at Christ’s banquet table? Communing with Him and the Church?

Have you been feasting on the bread of the Word of God? Or have you been avoiding bread (the Bible)?

Are you starving for God’s truth? See Matthew 5:6.

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