O
ld
T
estament
Ap
ocrypha
N
ew
T
estament
Book
Genesis Exodus Leviticus Numbers Deuteronomy Joshua Judges Ruth 1 Samuel 2 Samuel 1 Kings 2 Kings 1 Chronicles 2 Chronicles Ezra Nehemiah Esther Job Psalms
Proverbs
Ecclesiastes Song of Songs Isaiah Jeremiah Lamentations Ezekiel Daniel Hosea Joel Amos Obadiah Jonah Micah Nahum Habakkuk Zephaniah Haggai Zechariah Malachi Tobit Judith Esther Wisdom of Solomon Ecclesiasticus Baruch Letter of Jeremiah Prayer of Azariah & The Song of the Three Jews Susanna Bel and the Dragon 1 Maccabees 2 Maccabees Prayer of Manasseh Psalm 151 3 Maccabees 1 Esdras 2 Esdras 4 Maccabees Matthew Mark Luke John Acts Romans 1 Corinthians 2 Corinthians Galatians Ephesians Philippians Colossians 1 Thessalonians 2 Thessalonians 1 Timothy 2 Timothy Titus Philemon Hebrews James 1 Peter 2 Peter 1 John 2 John 3 John Jude Revelation
Top ↑
Chapter
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11 12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22 23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30 31

The Proverbs

Wisdom Literature

"Proverbs are generalisations, rather than invariably true".[3]

The wisdom literature such as Proverbs emphasises wisdom through godliness. This is precisely what Joseph models for us. Even fine details in Proverbs such as restraint of emotion (Proverbs 14:30) can be found in the life of Joseph (Genesis 42:34 and Genesis 45:1). Underlying it all is the sense of God's purpose coming into effect through the unfolding of events, in Proverbs 16:9 and Genesis 45:5, Genesis 50:20. Some take this as an indication that Genesis was edited or compiled by someone active in the Wisdom tradition, such as one of the court secretaries in Solomon's time, who admired Joseph as a model administrator among other things.

Solomon is credited wth great wisdom and for compiling these proverbs, but it is clear from Proverbs 25:1 that some of them were compiled in other king's reigns. The basic structure is:

Chapters 1–9: Proverbs of king Solomon
Chapters 10–24: Proverbs of king Solomon
Chapters 25–29: proverbs compiled for King Hezekiah
Chapter 30: Proverbs of Agur the son of Jakeh
Chapter 31: Proverbs of king Lemuel, from his mother

Commentary

3:3–4

These verses summarise a theme of faithfulness which is an undercurrent throughout the Old Testament.

3:5

When we fail to trust God we get impatient, which can lead to us taking things into our own, clumsy, hands (such as Abraham in Genesis 16). See Galatians 5.

3:7

The emphasis on godly wisdom extends throughout Scripture, e.g. James 3:12f.

6:16–19

cf. 1 Corinthians 6:9–10, Revelation 21:8.

8:30

"I was filled with delight" is literally "I was happiness itself".

11:30

"tree of life"—​see also Genesis 2:9, Genesis 3:22–24, Revelation 2:7, Revelation 22:2, Revelation 22:14.

12:22–23

The absolute statement of verse 22 is immediately qualified by verse 23.

14:30

This verse seems to warn against emotion, which seems odd if emotion is part of our God-given nature. And "Jesus wept". Probably the verse is warning us against letting emotion urge hasty action that wil be regretted later. Marvin Minsky ("founding father of Artificial intelligence") studied emotion in an effort to make machines more human, and he concluded that emotion is not something additional to rational thought as is often supposed, but a suspension of much of a person's critical facilities.[1]

17:9

Does this indicate covering or reparation?

20:10

cf. Proverbs 20:23 and Deuteronomy 25:13–16.

20:23

cf. Proverbs 20:10 and Deuteronomy 25:13–16.

22:17–29

These proverbs were collected from an Egyptian book called Instruction of Amen-em-opet[2].

22:28

cf. Proverbs 23:10 and Deuteronomy 19:14 and 27:17.

23:10

cf. Proverbs 22:28 and Deuteronomy 19:14 and 27:17.

25:7

=Luke 14:10.

25:21–22

=Romans 12:20. If we are very angry with someone, we should pray for them. This is the only way we are permitted to obtain justice. The result is shown by the use of the word "coals" in Psalm 140:10. See Hebrews 10:30, Matthew 5:22, Ephesians 4:26.

30:10

cf. Deuteronomy 23:15 and see also Philemon.

31:10–31

This is an acrostic poem; perhaps by going right through the Hebrew alphabet it emphasises the completeness of the wife's capability. It parallels the acrostic poem about the man who fears the Lord in Psalm 112.

References:

  1. Marvin Minsky ("founding father of Artificial intelligence") quoted in New Scientist 24 February 2007 page 48
  2. Roland, Rev. Andy: Bible in Brief (Croydon: Filament 2016) p.96
  3. Mayo, Bob in New Daylight 9–22 August 2020 p.115

© David Billin 2002–2021