1. Book of Proverbs
A collection of moral and philosophical maxims of a wide range of subjects presented in a poetic form. This book sets forth the "philosophy of practical life. It is the sign to us that the Bible does not despise common sense and discretion. It impresses upon us in the most forcible manner the value of intelligence and prudence and of a good education. The whole strength of the Hebrew language and of the sacred authority of the book is thrown upon these homely truths. It deals, too, in that refined, discriminating, careful view of the finer shades of human character so often overlooked by theologians, but so necessary to any true estimate of human life" (Stanley's Jewish Church). As to the origin of this book, "it is probable that Solomon gathered and recast many proverbs which sprang from human experience in preceding ages and were floating past him on the tide of time, and that he also elaborated many new ones from the material of his own experience. Towards the close of the book, indeed, are preserved some of Solomon's own sayings that seem to have fallen from his lips in later life and been gathered by other hands' (Arnot's Laws from Heaven, etc.) This book is usually divided into three parts: (1.) Consisting of chap. 1-9, which contain an exhibition of wisdom as the highest good. (2.) Consisting of chap. 10-24. (3.) Containing proverbs of Solomon "which the men of Hezekiah, the king of Judah, collected" (chap. 25-29). These are followed by two supplements, (1) "The words of Agur" (chap. 30); and (2) "The words of king Lemuel" (chap. 31). Solomon is said to have written three thousand proverbs, and those contained in this book may be a selection from these (1 Kings 4:32). In the New Testament there are thirty- five direct quotations from this book or allusions to it.
Book of Proverbs in Fausset's Bible Dictionary mishlee, plural of maashaal, "comparison" or "likeness." The Christian fathers (Clement, Ep. Cor. 1:57; Hegesippus, Irenaeus in Eusebius H. E. 4:22) entitle it "Wisdom, the sum of all virtues" (Panareros sophia). Pithy sayings (compare David's quotation, 1 Samuel 24:13), like similes or with a figure. The comparison is either expressed or left for the hearer to supply. So Balaam's "parable" is prophecy in figurative language (Numbers 23:7-10; 1 Samuel 10:12; Ezekiel 12:22-23; Ezekiel 17:2-3; Ezekiel 18:2; Ezekiel 20:49; Ezekiel 24:3; Luke 4:23). In Job 27:1 "parable" (Job 29:1) means a figurative, sententious, weighty embodiment of wisdom, not in this case short, but containing Job's whole argument (Psalm 49:4, maashaal). In Proverbs 1:6 "dark sayings" (chidah) are another form of proverbs, the enigmatical obscurity being designed to stimulate reflection (Habakkuk 2:6; Judges 14; 1 Kings 10:1; 2 Chronicles 9:1; Ezekiel 17:2; Psalm 78:2); the melitsah (Proverbs 1:6), "interpretation" (so Chald. and Vulgate versions), for which Gesenius translated "a saying that needs an interpreter," i.e. enigmatical (Habakkuk 2:6). For instance (Proverbs 12:27), "the slothful man roasteth not that which he took in hunting" requires discernment to see the point of comparison and the application; the slothful man is too lazy to hunt, and therefore has nothing to roast (compare 2 Thessalonians 3:10). "Proverb" is with Jesus' disciples equivalent to an obscure saying (John 16:29). Canonicity. The Book of Proverbs is found in all Jewish lists among the ketubim, "writings" (hagiographa), the third division of Scripture. The Talmud (Baba Bathra, 14 b.) gives the order, Ruth, Psalms, Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Lamentations, Daniel, Esther, Ezra (including Nehemiah), Chronicles. The New Testament quotes and so canonizes (Proverbs 1:16; Romans 3:10; Romans 3:15. Proverbs 3:7; Romans 12:16. Proverbs 3:11-12; Hebrews 12:5-6; Revelation 3:19. Proverbs 3:34; James 4:6. Proverbs 10:12; 1 Peter 4:8. Proverbs 11:31; 1 Peter 4:17-18. Proverbs 17:13; Romans 12:17; 1...
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