on the


                OLD TESTAMENT





               C. F. KEIL and F. DELITZSCH



                           Translated from the German by James Martin











               by F. DELITZSCH




                                   Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1872

                                                 Volume 1 of 2


                    TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE


THE volume which is here presented to English readers

is the first of three which will contain the Solomonic

writings. They form the last section of the "Keil and

Delitzsch" series of Commentaries on the Books of the

Old Testament Scriptures. The remaining volume on the Pro-

verbs, as well as that on Ecclesiastes and the Canticles, which

has also been prepared by Delitzsch, and is now in course of

publication in Germany, will be issued with as little delay as


            In this translation I have endeavoured accurately to reproduce

the original, so as to bring the student as much as possible into

direct contact with the learned commentator himself. Any ex-

planatory notes or words I have thought it right to add are enclosed

in square brackets [ ], so as to be easily distinguishable. The

Arabic and Syriac words occurring in the original have been, with

very few exceptions, printed in English characters. In their

vocalization I have followed the system of Forbes in his Arabic

Grammar, so that the student will be readily able to restore the

original. When nothing depends on the inflection of these words,

the consonants only are printed.

            It might appear superfluous in me to speak in commendation of

the great work which is now drawing to a close; but a translator,

since he has necessarily been in close fellowship with the author,

may be expected to be in a position to offer an opinion on the

character of the work on which he has been engaged; and I am

sure that all my collaborateurs will concur with me in speaking of

the volumes which form this commentary as monuments of deep



viii                TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE.


and careful research into the meaning of the sacred Scriptures.

Whether or not we can in all cases accept the conclusions reached

by the respected authors, no one can fail to see how elaborate and

minute the investigation has been. These volumes are the ripest

fruits of life-long study of the Old Testament. Their authors are

exegetes who have won for themselves an honoured place in the

foremost rank for their profound acquaintance with the Hebrew

and its cognate languages. With a scholarship of rare compass

and accuracy, they combine a reverent sympathy with the sacred

Scriptures, and a believing appreciation of its saving truths.

            The satisfaction I have had in the study of this work, and in

spending so many of my leisure hours in rendering it into English,

is greatly heightened by the reflection, that I have been enabled in

this way to contribute to the number of exegetical works within

reach of the English student. The exegetical study of God's word,

which appears to be increasingly drawing the attention of theo-

logians, and which has been so greatly stimulated by the Transla-

tions issued by the publishers of this work, cannot fail to have the

most beneficial results. The minister of the gospel will find such

study his best and truest preparation for his weighty duties as an

expounder of Scripture, if prosecuted in the spirit of a devout

recognition of the truth, that "bene orasse est bene studuisse."

Thus is he led step by step into a thorough and full understanding

of the words and varying forms of expression used by those "holy

men of old, who spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost."



                          AUTHOR'S PREFACE


THE preparation of this Commentary on the Mishle,

which was begun in 1869 (not without previous pre-

paration), and twice interrupted by providential events,

extended into the winter of 1872. There is now want-

ing to the completion of the Commentary on the Old Testament,

undertaken by Dr. Keil and myself, only the Commentary on the

Canticles and Ecclesiastes, which will form the concluding volume.

            In the preparation of this Commentary on the Proverbs, I am

indebted in varied ways to my friends Fleischer and Wetzstein.

In the year 1836, Fleischer entered on his duties as Professor at

Leipzig by delivering a course of lectures on the Book of the

Proverbs of Solomon. I was one of his hearers, and am now so

fortunate as to be able from his own MS. (begun 13th May, com-

pleted 9th September 1836) to introduce this beloved teacher into

the number of interpreters of the Book of Proverbs. The assist-

ance contributed by Wetzstein begins at chapter xxx., and consists

in remarks on Mühlau's work on the Proverbs of Agur and Lemuel

(1869), which my Dorpat friend placed at my disposal.

            The exegetical apparatus has in the course of this work extended

far beyond the list given at pp. 50, 51. I obtained the Commentary

of the Caraite Ahron b. Joseph (1294), which was printed at

Koslow (Eupatoria) in 1835, and had lent to me from the library

of Dr. Hermann Lotze the Commentary by the Roman poet

Immanuel [born at Rome about 1265], who was intimately asso-

ciated with Dante, printed at Naples in 1487, and equal in value

to a MS. Among the interpreters comprehended in the Biblia

Rabbinica,  I made use also of the Commentary of the Spanish



x                            AUTHOR'S PREFACE.


Menachem b. Salomo Meîri (1447), which first appeared in the

Amsterdam Bibelwerk, and came under my notice in a more handy

edition (Furth, 1844) from the library of my dear friend and

companion in study, Baer. To him I owe, among many other

things, the comparison of several MSS., particularly of one brought

from Arabia by Jacob Sappir, which has come into his possession.

            In making use of the Graecus Venetus, I was not confined

to Villoison's edition (1784). The only existing MS. (found in

Venice) of this translation one of my young friends, von Gebhardt,

has compared with the greatest care with Villoison's printed edition,

in which he has found many false readings and many omissions.

We have to expect from him a critical, complete edition of this

singular translation, which, both as regards the knowledge its

author displays of the Hebrew language and his skill in the Greek

language, remains as yet an unsolved mystery.

            The Indexl (to the words etymologically explained in this Com-

mentary) has been prepared by Dr. Hermann Strack, who, by his

recently-published Prolegomena ad Vetus Testament Hebraicum,

has shown himself to be a Hebraist of rare attainments.

            Bacon, in his work De Augmentis Scientiarum (viii. 2), rightly

speaks2 of Solomon's proverbs as an unparalleled collection. May

it be granted me, by the help of God, to promote in some degree

the understanding of this incomparable Book, as to its history, its

language, and its practical lessons!


            LEIPZIG, 30th October 1872.


            1 Will be given with vol. ii.

            2 [In hoc genere autem nihil invenitur, quod ullo modo comparandum sit

cum aphorismis illis, quos edidit rex Salomon; de quo testatur Scriptura cor

illi fuisse instar arenae maris: sicut enim arenae maris universas orbis oras cir-

cumdant, ita et sapientia ejus omnia humana, non minus quam divina, complexa

est.  In aphorismis vero illis, praeter alia majis theologica, reperies liquido

hand pauca praecepta et monita civilia praestantissima, ex profundis quldem

sapientiae penetralibus scaturientia, atque in amplissimum varietatis campum




                TABLE OF CONTENTS





1. PLAN OF THE BOOK, AND ITS ORIGIN,                                                2



            FORMS OF    THE PROVERBS,                                                         6

            Distichs,                                                                                                 7

            Tetrastichs, Hexatichs, Octostichs,                                                     10

            Pentastichs, Heptastichs,                                                                      11

            The Fifteen Mashal-strains of the First Part of the Book,                12

            The Midda, Priamel,                                                                            13

            The Second Part of the Collection,                                                     15

            The "Words of the Wise,"                                                                     16

            The "Hezekiah-Collection,"                                                                  17

            Appendices to the Second Collection,                                                18

            Ewald's View regarding the Parts of the Book,                                  20


3. THE REPETITIONS IN THE BOOK OF PROVERBS,                             24

            The Time at which the First Collection was made,                             27



            INSTRUCTION IN THE BOOK,                                                          31

            Relation of the Introduction to the First Collection,                         33

            Style of the Supplements, xxii 17-xxiv. 22 and xxiv. 23 ff.,             35

            The Supplements to the Hezekiah-Collection,                                   36

            Names given to the whole Book,                                                         36

            Jewish Literature in the Age of Solomon,                                          38

            The Chokma,                                                                                         41


5. THE ALEXANDRIAN TRANSLATION OF THE BOOK,                       46

            Literature of the Interpretation of the Book,                                      50



xii                           CONTENTS.




The External Title of the Book, i. 1-6,                                                            52

Motto of the Book, i. 7,                                                                                    58

FIRST INTRODUCTORY MASHAL DISCOURSE, i. 8-19,                        59

SECOND        “                                        “                           i. 20:ff.,                 67

THIRD            “                                       “                              ii.,                        75

FOURTH        “                                        “                              iii. 1-18,             85

FIFTH “                                        “                                          iii. 19-26,           91

SIXTH            “                                        “                              iii. 27-35,           98

SEVENTH      “                                        “                              iv.-v. 6,                105

EIGHTH         “                                        “                              v. 7-23,               122

NINTH            “                                        “                              vi. 1-5,                134

TENTH           “                                        “                              vi. 6-11,              139

ELEVENTH   “                                        “                              vi. 12-19,            142

TWELFTH     “                                        “                              vi. 20 ff.,             149

THIRTEENTH           “                            “                              vii.,                      156

FOURTEENTH          “                            “                              viii.,                     172

FIFTEENTH               “                            “                              ix.,                       195


            CHAPTER xi.,                                                                                       229

            CHAPTER xii.,                                                                                      250

            CHAPTER xiii.,                                                                                     270

            CHAPTER xiv.,                                                                                      288

            CHAPTER xv.,                                                                                       315

            CHAPTER xvi.,                                                                                      334

            CHAPTER xvii.,                                                                                    352









THE Book of Proverbs bears the external title ylew;mi rp,se,

which it derives from the words with which it com-

mences. It is one of the three books which are dis-

tinguished from the other twenty-one by a peculiar

system of accentuation, the best exposition of which that has yet

been given is that by S. Baer,1 as set forth in my larger Psalmen-

commentar.2 The memorial word for these three books, viz. Job,

Mishle (Proverbs), and Tehillim (Psalms), is tmX, formed from

the first letter of the first word of each book, or, following the

Talmudic and Masoretic arrangement of the books, Mxt.

            Having in view the superscription hmolow; ylew;mi, with which the

book commences, the ancients regarded it as wholly the composi-

tion of Solomon. The circumstance that it contains only 800

verses, while according to 1 Kings v. 12 (iv. 32) Solomon spake

3000 proverbs, R. Samuel bar-Nachmani explains by remarking

that each separate verse may be divided into two or three allegories

or apothegms (e.g. xxv. 12), not to mention other more arbi-

trary modes of reconciling the discrepancy.3 The opinion also of

R. Jonathan, that Solomon first composed the Canticles, then the

Proverbs, and last of all Ecclesiastes, inasmuch as the first cor-

responds4 with the spring-time of youth, the second with the wis-


            1 Cf. Outlines of Hebrew Accentuation, Prose and Poetical, by Rev. A. B.

Davidson, D.D., Professor of Hebrew, Free Church College, Edinburgh, 1861,

based on Baer's Torath Emeth, Rödelheim 1872.

            2 VOL ii., ed. of 1860, pp. 477-511.

            3 Pesikta, ed. Buber (1868), 34b, 35a. Instead of 800, the Masora reckons

915 verses in the Book of Proverbs.

            4 Schir-ha-Schirim Rabba, c. i. f. 4a.

2                  THE BOOK OF PROVERBS.


dom of manhood, and the third with the disappointment of old

age, is founded on the supposition of the unity of the book and

of its Solomonic authorship.

            At the present day also there are some, such as Stier, who

regard the Book of Proverbs from first to last as the work of

Solomon, just as Klauss (1832) and Randegger (1841) have ven-

tured to affirm that all the Psalms without exception were com-

posed by David. But since historical criticism has been applied

to Biblical subjects, that blind submission to mistaken tradition

appears as scarcely worthy of being mentioned. The Book of

Proverbs presents itself as composed of various parts, different

from each other in character and in the period to which they

belong. Under the hands of the critical analysis it resolves itself

into a mixed market of the most manifold intellectual productions

of proverbial poetry, belonging to at least three different epochs.


            1. The external plan of the Book of Proverbs, and its own testi-

mony as to its origin.—The internal superscription of the book, which

recommends it, after the manner of later Oriental books, on account

of its importance and the general utility of its contents, extends

from ver. 1 to ver. 6. Among the moderns this has been acknow-

ledged by Löwenstein and Maurer; for ver. 7, which Ewald,

Bertheau, and Keil have added to it, forms a new commencement

to the beginning of the book itself. The book is described as

"The Proverbs of Solomon," and then there is annexed the state-

ment of its object. That object, as summarily set forth in ver. 2,

is practical, and that in a twofold way: partly moral, and partly

intellectual. The former is described in vers. 3-5. It presents

moral edification, moral sentiments for acceptance, not merely to

help the unwise to attain to wisdom, but also to assist the wise.

The latter object is set forth in ver. 6. It seeks by its contents

to strengthen and discipline the mind to the understanding of

thoughtful discourses generally. In other words, it seeks to gain

the moral ends which proverbial poetry aims at, and at the same

time to make familiar with it, so that the reader, in these

proverbs of Solomon or by means of them as of a key, learns to

understand such like apothegms in general. Thus interpreted, the

title of the book does not say that the book contains proverbs of

other wise men besides those of Solomon; if it did so, it would

contradict itself. It is possible that the book contains proverbs

                                 INTRODUCTION.                                    3


other than those of Solomon, possible that the author of the title

of the book added such to it himself, but the title presents to

view only the Proverbs of Solomon. If i. 7 begins the book, then

after reading the title we cannot think otherwise than that here

begin the Solomonic proverbs. If we read farther, the contents

and the form of the discourses which follow do not contradict this

opinion; for both are worthy of Solomon. So much the more

astonished are we, therefore, when at x. 1 we meet with a new

superscription, hmolow; ylew;mi, from which point on to xxii. 16 there is

a long succession of proverbs of quite a different tone and form—

short maxims, Mashals proper—while in the preceding section of

the book we find fewer proverbs than monitory discourses. What

now must be our opinion when we look back from this second

superscription to the part i. 7-ix., which immediately follows the

title of the book? Are i. 7-ix., in the sense of the book, not the

"Proverbs of Solomon"? From the title of the book, which

declares them to be so, we must judge that they are. Or are they

"Proverbs of Solomon"? In this case the new superscription (x.1),

"The Proverbs of Solomon," appears altogether incomprehensible.

And yet only one of these two things is possible: on the one side,

therefore, there must be a false appearance of contradiction, which

on a closer investigation disappears. But on which side is it? If

it is supposed that the tenor of the title, i. 1-6, does not accord

with that of the section x. 1-xxii. 6; but that it accords well with

that of i. 7-ix. (with the breadth of expression in i. 7-ix., it has also

several favourite words not elsewhere occurring in the Book of

Proverbs; among these, hmAr;fA, subtilty, and hm.Azim;, discretion, i. 4),

then Ewald's view is probable, that i.-ix. is an original whole written

at once, and that the author had no other intention than to give it

as an introduction to the larger Solomonic Book of Proverbs be-

ginning at x. 1. But it is also possible that the author of the title

has adopted the style of the section i. 7-ix. Bertheau, who has

propounded this view, and at the same time has rejected, in oppo-

sition to Ewald, the idea of the unity of the section, adopts this

conclusion, that in i. 8-ix. there lies before us a collection of the

admonitions of different authors of proverbial poetry, partly original

introductions to larger collections of proverbs, which the author

of the title gathers together in order that he may give a compre-

hensive introduction to the larger collection contained in x. 1-xxii.

16. But such an origin of the section as Bertheau thus imagines

4                      THE BOOK OF PROVERBS.


is by no means natural; it is more probable that the author, whose

object is, according to the title of the book, to give the proverbs of

Solomon, introduces these by a long introduction of his own, than

that, instead of beginning with Solomon's proverbs, he first pre-

sents long extracts of a different kind from collections of proverbs.

If the author, as Bertheau thinks, expresses indeed, in the words

of the title, the intention of presenting, along, with the "Proverbs

of Solomon," also the "words of the wise," then he could not have

set about his work more incorrectly and self-contradictorily than if

he had begun the whole, which bears the superscription "Proverbs

of Solomon" (which must be regarded as presenting the proverbs

of Solomon as a key to the words of the wise generally), with

the "words of the wise." But besides the opinion of Ewald, which

in itself, apart from internal grounds, is more natural and probable

than that of Bertheau, there is yet the possibility of another. Keil,

following H. A. Hahn, is of opinion, that in the sense of the author

of the title, the section i.—ix. is Solomonic as well as x.-xxii., but that

he has repeated the superscription "Proverbs of Solomon" before

the latter section, because from that point onward proverbs follow

which bear in a special measure the characters of the Mashal

(Hävernick's Einl. iii. 428). The same phenomenon appears in

the book of Isaiah, where, after the general title, there follows an

introductory address, and then in ii. 1 the general title is repeated

in a shorter form. That this analogy, however, is here inappli-

cable, the further discussion of the subject will show.

            The introductory section i. 7-ix., and the larger section x.-xxii.

16, which contains uniform brief Solomonic apothegms, are fol-

lowed by a third section, xxii. 17-xxiv. 22. Hitzig, indeed, reckons

x-xxiv. 22 as the second section, but with xxii. 17 there com-

mences an altogether different style, and a much freer manner in

the form of the proverb; and the introduction to this new collec-

tion of proverbs, which reminds us of the general title, places it

beyond a doubt that the collector does not at all intend to set forth

these proverbs as Solomonic. It may indeed be possible that, as

Keil (iii. 410) maintains, the collector, inasmuch as he begins with

the words, "Incline thine ear and hear words of the wise," names

his own proverbs generally as "words of the wise," especially since

he adds, "and apply thine heart to my knowledge;" but this sup-

position is contradicted by the superscription of a fourth section,

xxiv. 23 ff.) which follows. This short section, an appendix to the

                                INTRODUCTION.                                  5


third, bears the superscription, "These things also are MymikAHEla."

If Keil thinks here also to set aside the idea that the following

proverbs, in the sense of this superscription, have as their authors

"the wise," he does unnecessary violence to himself. The l is

here that of authorship; and if the following proverbs are com-

posed by the MymikAHE, "the wise," then they are not the production

of the one MkAHA, "wise man," Solomon, but they are "the words

of the wise" in contradistinction to "the Proverbs of Solomon."

            The Proverbs of Solomon begin again at xxv. 1; and this

second large section (corresponding to the first, x. 1-xxii. 16)

extends to xxix. This fifth portion of the book has a superscrip-

tion, which, like that of the preceding appendix, commences

thus:  "Also (MGa) these are proverbs of Solomon which the men of

Hezekiah king of Judah collected." The meaning of the word

UqyTif;h, is not doubtful. It signifies, like the Arameo-Arabic hsn,

to remove from their place, and denotes that the men of Hezekiah

removed from the place where they found them the following

proverbs, and placed them together in a separate collection. The

words have thus been understood by the Greek translator. From

the supplementary words ai[ a]dia<kritoi (such as exclude all dia<krisij)

it is seen that the translator had a feeling of the important literary

historical significance of that superscription, which reminds us of the

labours of the poetical grammarians appointed by Pisistratus to edit

older works, such as those of Hesiod. The Jewish interpreters, simply

following the Talmud, suppose that the "also" (MGa) belongs to the

whole superscription, inclusive of the relative sentence, and that it

thus bears witness to the editing of the foregoing proverbs also by

Hezekiah and his companions;1 which is altogether improbable, for

then, if such were the meaning of the words, "which the men of

Hezekiah," etc., they ought to have stood after i. 1. The super-

scription xxv. 1 thus much rather distinguishes the following collec-

tion from that going before, as having been made under Hezekiah.

As two appendices followed the "Proverbs of Solomon," x. 1—xxii.

16, so also two appendices the Hezekiah-gleanings of Solomonic

proverbs. The former two appendices, however, originate in gene-

ral from the "wise," the latter more definitely name the authors:

the first, xxx., is by "Agur the son of Jakeh;" the second, xxxi.


            1 Vid. B. Bathra, 15a. From the fact that Isaiah outlived Hezekiah it is there

concluded that the Hezekiah-collegium also continued after Hezekiah's death.

Cf. Fürst on the Canon of the 0. T. 1868, p. 78 f.

6                 THE BOOK OF PROVERBS.


1-9, by a "King Lemuel." In so far the superscriptions are clear.

The names of the authors, elsewhere unknown, point to a foreign

country; and to this corresponds the peculiar complexion of these

two series of proverbs. As a third appendix to the Hezekiah-col-

lection, xxxi. 10 ff. follows, a complete alphabetical proverbial poem

which describes the praiseworthy qualities of a virtuous woman.

            We are thus led to the conclusion that the Book of Proverbs

divides itself into the following parts:—(1) The title of the book,

i. 1-6, by which the question is raised, how far the book extends

to which it originally belongs ; (2) the hortatory discourses, i. 7-ix.,

in which it is a question whether the Solomonic proverbs must be

regarded as beginning with these, or, whether they are only the

introduction thereto, composed by a different author, perhaps the

author of the title of the book; (3) the first great collection of

Solomonic proverbs, x.-xxii. 16; (4) the first appendix to this

first collection, "The words of the wise," xxii. 17-xxiv. 22; (5)

the second appendix, supplement of the words of some wise men,

xxiv. 23 ff.; (6) the second great collection of Solomonic proverbs,

which the "men of Hezekiah" collected, xxv.-xxix.; (7) the first

appendix to this second collection, the words of Agur the son

of Jakeh, xxx.; (8) the second appendix, the words of King

Lemuel, xxxi. 1-9; (9) third appendix, the acrostic ode, xxxi.

10 ff. These nine parts are comprehended under three groups:

the introductory hortatory discourses with the general title at their

head, and the two great collections of Solomonic proverbs with

their two appendices. In prosecuting our further investigations,

we shall consider the several parts of the book first from the point

of view of the manifold forms of their proverbs, then of their

style, and thirdly of their type of doctrine. From each of these

three subjects of investigation we may expect elucidations regarding

the origin of these proverbs and of their collections.


            2. The several parts of the Book of Proverbs with respect to the

manifold forms of the proverbs.—If the Book of Proverbs were a

collection of popular sayings, we should find in it a multitude of

proverbs of one line each, as e.g., "Wickedness proceedeth from

the wicked" (1 Sam. xxiv. 13); but we seek for such in vain. At

the first glance, xxiv. 23b appears to be a proverb of one line; but

the line “To have respect of persons in judgment is not good,”

is only the introductory line of a proverb which consists of several

                                INTRODUCTION.                                     7


lines ver. 24 f. Ewald is right in regarding as inadmissible a

comparison of the collections of Arabic proverbs by Abu-Obeida,

Meidani, and others, who gathered together and expounded the

current popular proverbs, with the Book of Proverbs. Ali's Hun-

dred Proverbs are, however, more worthy of being compared with

it. Like these, Solomon's proverbs are, as a whole, the production

of his own spirit, and only mediately of the popular spirit. To

make the largeness of the number of these proverbs a matter of

doubt were inconsiderate. Eichhorn maintained that even a god-

like genius scarcely attains to so great a number of pointed

proverbs and ingenious thoughts. But if we distribute Solomon's

proverbs over his forty years' reign, then we have scarcely twenty

for each year; and one must agree with the conclusion, that the

composition of so many proverbs even of the highest ingenuity is

no impossible problem for a "godlike genius." When, accordingly,

it is related that Solomon wrote 3000 proverbs, Ewald, in his

History of Israel, does not find the number too great, and Bertheau

does not regard it as impossible that the collection of the "Proverbs

of Solomon" has the one man Solomon as their author. The

number of the proverbs thus cannot determine us to regard them

as having for the most part originated among the people, and the

form in which they appear leads to an opposite conclusion. It is,

indeed, probable that popular proverbs are partly wrought into

these proverbs,1 and many of their forms of expression are moulded

after the popular proverbs; but as they thus lie before us, they are,

as a whole, the production of the technical Mashal poetry.

            The simplest form is, according to the fundamental peculiarity

of the Hebrew verse, the distich. The relation of the two lines to

each other is very manifold. The second line may repeat the

thought of the first, only in a somewhat altered form, in order to

express this thought as clearly and exhaustively as possible. We

call such proverbs synonymous distichs; as e.g. xi. 25:

                        A soul of blessing is made fat,

                        And he that watereth others is himself watered.

Or the second line contains the other side of the contrast to the

statement of the first; the truth spoken in the first is explained in

the second by means of the presentation of its contrary. We call

such proverbs antithetic distichs; as e.g. x. 1:


            1Isaac Euchel († 1804), in his Commentary on the Proverbs, regards xiv. 4a

and xvii. 19b as such popular proverbs.

8                     THE BOOK OF PROVERBS


                        A wise son maketh his father glad,

                        And a foolish son is his mother's grief.


Similar forms, x. 16, xii. 5.  Elsewhere, as xviii. 14, xx. 24, the

antithesis clothes itself in the form of a question. Sometimes it is

two different truths that are expressed in the two lines; and the

authorization of their union lies only in a certain relationship, and

the ground of this union in the circumstance that two lines are the

minimum of the technical proverb—synthetic distichs; e.g. x. 18:

                        A cloak of hatred are lying lips,

                        And he that spreadeth slander is a fool.

Not at all infrequently one line does not suffice to bring out the

thought intended, the begun expression of which is only com-

pleted in the second. These we call integral (eingedankige) distichs;

as e.g. xi. 31 (cf. 1 Pet. iv. 18):

                        The righteous shall be recompensed on the earth—

                        How much more the ungodly and the sinner!

            To these distichs also belong all those in which the thought

stated in the first receives in the second, by a sentence presenting a

reason, or proof, or purpose, or consequence, a definition completing

or perfecting it; e.g. xiii. 14, xvi. 10, xix. 20, xxii. 28.1 But there is

also a fifth form, which corresponds most to the original character

of the Mashal: the proverb explaining its ethical object by a re-

semblance from the region of the natural and every-day life, the

parabolh< proper.  The form of this parabolic proverb is very

manifold, according as the poet himself expressly compares the

two subjects, or only places them near each other in order that the

hearer or reader may complete the comparison. The proverb is


            1 Such integral distichs are also xv. 3, xvi. 7, 10, xvii. 13, 15, xviii. 9, 13,

xix. 26, 27, xx. 7, 8, 10, 11, 20, 21, xxi. 4, 13, 16, 21, 23, 24, 30, xxii. 4, 11,

xxiv. 8, 26, xxvi. 16, xxvii. 14, xxviii. 8, 9, 17, 24, xxix. 1, 5, 12, 14. In xiv.

27, xv. 24, xvii. 23, xix. 27, the second line consists of one sentence with l and

the infin.; in xvi. 12, 26, xxi. 25, xxii. 9, xxvii. 1, xxix. 19, of one sentence

with yKi; with Mxi YKi, xviii. 2, xxiii. 17. The two lines, as xi. 31, xv. 11, xvii.

7, xix. lab, 10, xx. 27, form a conclusion a minori ad majus, or the reverse.

The former or the latter clauses stand in grammatical relation in xxiii. 1, 2,

15 f., xxvii. 22, xxix. 21 (cf. xxii. 29, xxiv. 10, xxvi. 12, xxix. 20, with hypoth.

perf., and xxvi. 26 with hypoth. fut.); in the logical relation of reason and

consequence, xvii. 14, xx. 2, 4; in comparative relation, xii. 9, etc. These

examples show that the two lines, not merely in the more recent, but also

in the old Solomonic Mashal, do not always consist of two parallel members.

                                          INTRODUCTION.                                    9


least poetic when the likeness between the two subjects is expressed

by a verb; as xxvii. 15 (to which, however, ver. 16 belongs):

                        A continual dropping in a rainy day

                        And a contentious woman are alike.

The usual form of expression, neither unpoetic nor properly poetic,

is the introduction of the comparison by K; [as], and of the simili-

tude in the second clause by NKe [so]; as x. 26:

                        As vinegar to the teeth, and as smoke to the eyes,

                        So is the sluggard to them who give him a commission.

This complete verbal statement of the relation of likeness may

also be abbreviated by the omission of the NKe; as xxv. 13, xxvi. 11:

                        As a dog returning to his vomit—

                        A fool returning to his folly.

We call the parabolic proverbs of these three forms comparisons.

The last, the abbreviated form of the comparative proverb, forms

the transition to another kind of parabolic proverb, which we will

call, in contradistinction to the comparative, the emblematic, in

which the contrast and its emblem are loosely placed together

without any nearer expression of the similitude; as e.g. xxvi. 20,

xxvii. 17, 18, 20. This takes place either by means of the copu-

lative Vav,   v;, as xxv. 25—

                        Cold water to a thirsty soul,

                        And good news from a far country.1

Or without the Vav; in which case the second line is as the sub-

scription under the figure or double figure painted in the first; e.g.

xxv. 11 f., xi. 22:

                        A gold ring in a swine's snout—

                        A fair woman and without understanding.

            These ground-forms of two lines can, however, expand into forms

of several lines. Since the distich is the peculiar and most appro-

priate form of the technical proverb, so, when two lines are not

sufficient for expressing the thought intended, the multiplication to


            1 This so-called Vav adaequationis, which appears here for the first time in the

Proverbs as the connection between the figure and the thing itself without a

verbal predicate (cf., on the other hand, Job v. 7, xii. 11, xiv. 11 f.), is, like the

Vav,   v;, of comparison, only a species of that Vav of association which is called

in Arab. Waw alajam'a, or Waw alam'ayat, or Waw al'asatsahab (vid. at Isa.

xlii. 5); and since usage attributes to it the verbal power of secum habere, it is

construed with the accus. Vid. examples in Freytag's Arabum Proverbia,

among the recent proverbs beginning with the letter         (k).

10                   THE BOOK OF PROVERBS.


four, six, or eight lines is most natural. In the tetrastich the

relation of the last two to the first two is as manifold as is the

relation of the second line to the first in the distich. There is,

however, no suitable example of four-lined stanzas in antithetic

relation. But we meet with synonymous tetrastichs, e.g. xxiii. 15 f.,

xxiv. 3 f., 28 f.; synthetic, xxx. 5 f.; integral, xxx. 17 f., especially

of the form in which the last two lines constitute a proof passage

beginning with yKi, xxii. 22 f., or NPe, xxii. 24 f., or without exponents,

xxii. 26 f.; comparative without expressing the comparison, xxv.

16 f. (cf., on the other hand, xxvi. 18 f., where the number of lines

is questionable), and also the emblematical, xxv. 4 f.:

                        Take away the dross from the silver,

                        And there shall come forth a vessel for the goldsmith;

                        Take away the wicked from before the king,

                        And his throne shall be established in righteousness.

Proportionally the most frequently occurring are tetrastichs, the

second half of which forms a proof clause commencing with YKi

or NPe.  Among the less frequent are the six-lined, presenting (xxiii.

1-3, xxiv. 11 f.) one and the same thought in manifold aspects,

with proofs interspersed. Among all the rest which are found in

the collection, xxiii. 12-14,19-21, 26-28, xxx. 15 f., xxx. 29-31,

the first two lines form a prologue introductory to the substance

of the proverb; as e.g. xxiii. 12-14:

                        O let instruction enter into thine heart,

                        And apply thine ears to the words of knowledge.

                        Withhold not correction from the child;

                        For if thou beatest him with the rod—he dies not.

                        Thou shalt beat him with the rod,

                        And deliver his soul from hell.


Similarly formed, yet more expanded, is the eight-lined stanza,

xxiii. 22-28:

                        Hearken unto thy father that begat thee,

                        And despise not thy mother when she is old.

                        Buy the truth and sell it not:

                        Wisdom, and virtue, and understanding.

                        The father of a righteous man greatly rejoices,

                        And he that begetteth a wise child hath joy of him.

                        Thy father and thy mother shall be glad,

                        And she that bare thee shall rejoice.


The Mashal proverb here inclines to the Mashal ode; for this

octastich may be regarded as a short Mashal song,—like the alpha-

                                INTRODUCTION.                                       11


betical Mashal psalm xxxvii., which consists of almost pure tetra-


            We have now seen how the distich form multiplies itself into

forms consisting of four, six, and eight lines; but it also unfolds

itself, as if in one-sided multiplication, into forms of three, five,

and seven lines. Tristichs arise when the thought of the first line

is repeated (xxvii. 22) in the second according to the synonymous

scheme, or when the thought of the second line is expressed by

contrast in the third (xxii. 29, xxviii. 10) according to the anti-

thetic scheme, or when to the thought expressed in one or two

lines (xxv. 8, xxvii. 10) there is added its proof. The parabolic

scheme is here represented when the object described is unfolded

in two lines, as in the comparison xxv. 13, or when its nature is

portrayed by two figures in two lines, as in the emblematic pro-

verb xxv. 20:

                        To take off clothing in cold weather,

                        Vinegar upon nitre,

                        And he that singeth songs to a heavy heart.


            In the few instances of pentastichs which are found, the last

three lines usually unfold the reason of the thought of the first

two:  xxiii. 4 f., xxv. 6 f., xxx. 32 f.; to this xxiv. 13 forms an

exception, where the NKe before the last three lines introduces the

expansion of the figure in the first two. As an instance we quote

xxv. 6 f.:

                        Seek not to display thyself in the presence of the king,

                        And stand not in the place of the great.

                        For better that it be said unto thee, "Come up hither,"

                        Than that they humble thee in the presence of the prince,

                        While thine eyes have raised themselves.


            Of heptastichs I know of only one example in the collection,

viz. xxiii. 6-8 :

                        Eat not the bread of the jealous,

                        And lust not after his dainties;

                        For he is like one who calculates with himself:¾

                        "Eat and drink," saith he to thee,

                        And his heart is not with thee.

                        Thy morsel which thou hast eaten must thou vomit up,

                        And thou hast wasted thy pleasant words.


From this heptastich, which one will scarcely take for a brief

Mashal ode according to the compound strophe-scheme, we see

that the proverb of two lines can expand itself to the dimensions

12                    THE BOOK OF PROVERBS.


of seven and eight lines. Beyond these limits the whole proverb

ceases to be lwAmA in the proper sense; and after the manner of Ps.

xxv., xxxiv., and especially xxxvii., it becomes a Mashal ode. Of

this class of Mashal odes are, besides the prologue, xxii. 17-21,

that of the drunkard, xxiii. 29-35; that of the slothful man, xxiv.

30-34; the exhortation to industry, xxvii. 23-27; the prayer for

a moderate portion between poverty and riches, xxx. 7-9; the

mirror for princes, xxxi. 2-9; and the praise of the excellent

wife, xxxi. 10 ff. It is singular that this ode furnishes the only

example of the alphabetical acrostic in the whole collection. Even

a single trace of original alphabetical sequence afterwards broken

up cannot be found. There cannot also be discovered, in the

Mashal songs referred to, anything like a completed strophe-

scheme; even in xxxi. 10 ff. the distichs are broken by tristichs

intermingled with them.

            In the whole of the first part, i. 7-ix., the prevailing form is that

of the extended flow of the Mashal song; but one in vain seeks

for strophes. There is not here so firm a grouping of the lines;

on the supposition of its belonging to the Solomonic era, this is

indeed to be expected. The rhetorical form here outweighs the

purely poetical. This first part of the Proverbs consists of the

following fifteen Mashal strains:  (1) i. 7-19, (2) 20 ff., (3) ii.,

(4) iii. 1-18, (5) 19-26, (6) 27 ff., (7) iv. 1-v. 6, (8) 7 ff., (9) vi.

1-5, (10) 6-11, (11) 12-19, (12) 20 ff., (13) vii., (14) viii., (15)

ix. In iii. and ix. there are found a few Mashal odes of two lines

and of four lines which may be regarded as independent Mashals,

and may adapt themselves to the schemes employed; other brief

complete parts are only waves in the flow of the larger discourses,

or are altogether formless, or more than octastichs.  The octastich vi.

16-19 makes the proportionally greatest impression of an indepen-

dent inwoven Mashal. It is the only proverb in which symbolical

numbers are used which occurs in the collection from i. to xxix.:

                        There are six things which Jahve hateth,

                        And seven are an abhorrence to His soul:

                        Haughty eyes, a lying tongue,

                        And hands that shed innocent blood;

                        An heart that deviseth the thoughts of evil,

                        Feet that hastily run to wickedness,

                        One that uttereth lies as a false witness,

                        And he who soweth strife between brethren.


Such numerical proverbs to which the name hDAmi has been given

                               INTRODUCTION.                             13


by later Jewish writers (see my Gesech. der jüd. Poesie; pp.

199, 202) are found in xxx. With the exception of xxx. 7-9,

24-28 (cf. Sir. xxv. 1, 2), the numerical proverb has this pecu-

liarity, found also in most of the numerical proverbs of Sirach

(Sir. xxiii. 16, xxv. 7, xxvi. 5, 28), that the number named in the

first parallel line is in the second (cf. Job v. 9) increased by one.

On the other hand, the form of the Priamel1 is used neither in the

Book of Proverbs nor in that of Sirach. Proverbs such as xx. 10

("Diverse weights, diverse measures—an abomination to Jahve are

they both") and xx. 12 ("The hearing ear, the seeing eye—Jahve

hath created them both"), to be distinguished from xvii. 3, xxvii.

21, and the like, where the necessary unity, and from xxvii. 3,

where the necessary resemblance, of the predicate is wanting, are

only a weak approach to the Priamel,—a stronger, xxv. 3, where the

three subjects form the preamble ("The heaven for height, and the

earth for depth, and the heart of kings—are unsearchable"). Per-

haps xxx. 11-14 is a greater mutilated Priamel. Here four subjects

form the preamble, but there is wanting the conclusion containing

the common predicate. This, we believe, exhausts the forms of the

Mashal in the collection. It now only remains to make mention

of the Mashal chain, i.e. the ranging together in a series of

proverbs of a similar character, such as the chain of proverbs

regarding the fool, xxvi. 1-12, the sluggard, xxvi. 13-16, the tale-

bearer, xxvi. 20-22, the malicious, xxvi. 23-28—but this form

belongs more to the technics of the Mashal collection than to that

of the Mashal poetry.

            We now turn to the separate parts of the book, to examine more

closely the forms of their proverbs, and gather materials for a critical

judgment regarding the origin of the proverbs which they contain.

Not to anticipate, we take up in order the separate parts of the

arrangement of the collection. Since, then, it cannot be denied that

in the introductory paedagogic part, i. 7-ix., notwithstanding its rich

and deep contents, there is exceedingly little of the technical form

of the Mashal, as well as generally of technical form at all. This

part, as already shown, consists not of proper Mashals, but of fifteen 

Mashal odes, or rather, perhaps, Mashal discourses, didactic poems of

the Mashal kind. In the flow of these discourses separate Mashals

intermingle, which may either be regarded as independent, or, as


            1 [From praeambulum, designating a peculiar kind of epigram found in the

German poetry of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.]

14                 THE BOOK OF PROVERBS.


i. 32, iv. 18 f., can easily be so understood. In the Mashal chains

of chap. iv. and ix. we meet with proverbs that are synonymous

(ix. 7, 10), antithetic (iii. 35, ix. 8), integral, or of one thought

(iii. 29, 30), and synthetic (i. 7, iii. 5, 7), of two lines and of four

lines variously disposed (iii. 9 f., 11 f., 31 f., 33 f.) ; but the para-

bolic scheme is not at all met with, separate proverbs such as iii.

27 f. are altogether without form, and keeping out of view the

octastich numerical proverb, vi. 16-19, the thoughts which form

the unity of separate groups are so widely expanded that the

measure of the Mashal proper is far exceeded. The character of

this whole part is not concentrating, but unfolding. Even the inter-

mingling proverbs of two lines possess the same character. They

are for the most part more like dissolved drops than gold coins with

sharp outline and firm impress; as e.g. ix. 7:

                        He that correcteth the mocker getteth to himself shame;

                        And he that rebuketh the sinner his dishonour.

The few that consist of four lines are closer, more compact, more

finished, because they allow greater space for the expression; e.g.

iii. 9 f.:

                        Honour Jahve with thy wealth,

                        And with the first-fruits of all thine income:

                        And thy barns shall be filled with plenty,

                        And thy vats shall overflow with must.


But beyond the four lines the author knows no limits of artistic

harmony; the discourse flows on till it has wholly or provisionally

exhausted the subject; it pauses not till it reaches the end of its

course, and then, taking breath, it starts anew. We cannot, more-

over, deny that there is beauty in this new springing forth of the

stream of the discourse with its fresh transparent waves; but it is

a peculiar beauty of the rhetorically decomposed, dissolved Mashal,

going forth, as it were, from its confinement, and breathing its

fagrance far and wide.

            The fifteen discourses, in which the Teacher appears twelve times

and Wisdom three times, are neither of a symmetrically chiselled

form nor of internally fashioned coherence, but yet are a garland

of songs having internal unity, with a well-arranged manifoldness

of contents. It is true that Bertheau recognises here neither unity

of the contents nor unity of the formal character; but there is no

Old Testament portion of like extent, and at the same time of more

systematic internal unity, and which bears throughout a like formal

                                      INTRODUCTION.                                  15


impress, than this.  Bertheau thinks that he has discovered in

certain passages a greater art in the form; and certainly there are

several sections which consist of just ten verses. But this is a mere

accident; for the first Mashal ode consists of groups of 1, 2, and

10 verses, the second of 8 and 6 verses, the third of 10 and 12, the

fourth of 10 and 8, the fifth of 2 and 6, etc.—each group forming

a complete sense. The 10 verses are met with six times, and if iv.

1-9 from the Peshito, and iv. 20-27 from the LXX., are included,

eight times, without our regarding these decades as strophes, and

without our being able to draw any conclusion regarding a parti-

cular author of these decade portions. In i. 20-33, Bertheau finds

indeed, along with the regular structure of verses, an exact artistic

formation of strophes (3 times 4 verses with an echo of 2). But

he counts instead of the sticks the Masoretic verses, and these are

not the true formal parts of the strophe.

            We now come to the second part of the collection, whose super-

scription hmolow; ylew;mi can in no respect be strange to us, since the

collection of proverbs here commencing, compared with i. 7-ix.,

may with special right bear the name Mishle. The 375 proverbs

which are classed together in this part, x.-xxii. 16, without any

comprehensive plan, but only according to their more or fewer

conspicuous common characteristics (Bertheau, p. xii), consist all

and every one of distichs; for each Masoretic verse falls naturally

into two stichs, and nowhere (not even xix. 19) does such a distich

proverb stand in necessary connection with one that precedes or

that follows; each is in itself a small perfected and finished whole.

The tristich xix. 7 is only an apparent exception. In reality it is a

distich with the disfigured remains of a distich that has been lost.

The LXX. has here two distichs which are wanting in our text.

The second is that which is found in our text, but only in a muti-

lated form:

                        o[ polla> kakopoiw?n telesiourgei? kaki<an,

                        [He that does much harm perfects mischief,]

                        o!j de> e]reqi<zei lo<gouj ou] swqh<setai.

                        [And he that uses provoking words shall not escape.]


Perhaps the false rendering of

                                      fr-Mlwy Mybr frm

                                 :Flmy xl Myrmx Jdrm

                        The friend of every one is rewarded with evil,

                        He who pursues after rumours does not escape.

16                   THE BOOK OF PROVERBS.


            But not only are all these proverbs distichs, they have also, not

indeed without exception, but in by far the greatest number, a

common character in that they are antithetic. Distichs of predo-

minating antithetic character stand here together. Along with

these all other schemes are, it is true, represented: the synonymous,

xi. 7, 25, 30, xii. 14, 28, xiv. 19, etc.; the integral, or of one thought,

xiv. 7, xv. 3, etc., particularly in proverbs with the comparative Nmi,

xii. 9, xv. 16, 17, xvi. 8, 19, xvii. 10, xxi. 19, xxii. 1, and with the

ascending –yKi Jxa [much more], xi. 31, xv. 11, xvii. 7, xix. 7, 10,

xxi. 27; the synthetic, x. 18, xi. 29, xiv. 17, xix. 13; the parabolic,

the most feebly represented, for the only specimens of it are x. 26,

xi. 22; besides which I know not what other Bertheau could quote.

We shall further see that in another portion of the book the para-

bolic proverbs are just as closely placed together as are the anti-

thetic. Here almost universally the two members of the proverbs

stand together in technical parallelism as thesis and antithesis;

also in the synonymous proverbs the two members are the parallel

rays of one thought; in the synthetic two monostichs occur in

loose external connection to suffice for the parallelism as a funda-

mental law of the technical proverb. But also in these proverbs in

which a proper parallelism is not found, both members being needed

to form a complete sentence, verse and members are so built up,

according to Bertheau's self-confirmatory opinion, that in regard

to extent and the number of words they are like verses with

parallel members.

            To this long course of distichs which profess to be the Mishle of

Solomon, there follows a course, xxii. 17-xxiv. 22, of "words of

the wise," prefaced by the introduction xxii. 17-21 which un-

deniably is of the same nature as the greater introduction, i. 7-ix.,

and of which we are reminded by the from of address preserved

throughout in these "words of the wise." These "words of the

wise" comprehend all the forms of the Mashal, from those of two

lines in xxii. 28, xxiii. 9, xxiv. 7, 8, 9, 10, to the Mashal song xxiii.

29-35. Between these limits are the tetrastichs, which are the

most popular form, xxii. 22 f., 24 f., 26 f., xxiii. 10 f., 15 f., 17 f.,

xxiv. 1 f., 3 f., 5 f., 15 f., 17 f., 19 f., 21 f.,¾pentastichs, xxiii. 4 f.,

1 xxiv. 13 f., and hexastichs, xxiii. 1-3, 12-14, 19-21, 26-28, xxiv.

11 f.;¾of tristichs, heptastichs, and octastichs are at least found

one specimen of each, xxii. 29, xxiii. 6-8, xxiii. 22-25. Bertheau

maintains that there is a difference between the structure of these

                                   INTRODUCTION.                                     17


proverbs and that of the preceding, for he counts the number of

the words which constitute a verse in the case of the latter and of

the former; but such a proceeding is unwarrantable, for the re-

markably long Masoretic verse xxiv. 12 contains eighteen words;

and the poet is not to be made accountable for such an arrangement,

for in his mind xxiv. 11 f. forms a hexastich, and indeed a very

elegant one. Not the words of the Masoretic verse, but the stichs

are to be counted. Reckoning according to the stichs, I can dis-

cover no difference between these proverbs and the preceding. In

the preceding ones also the number of the words in the stichs

extends from two to five, the number two being here, however,

proportionally more frequently found (e.g. xxiv. 4b, xxiv. 8a, 10b);

a circumstance which has its reason in this, that the symmetry of

the members is often very much disturbed, there being frequently

no trace whatever of parallelism. To the first appendix to the

"Proverbs of Solomon" there follows a second, xxiv. 23 ff., with

the superscription, "These things also to the wise," which contains

a hexastich, xxiv. 236-25, a distich, ver. 26, a tristich, ver. 27, a

tetrastich, ver. 28 f., and a Mashal ode, ver. 30 ff., on the sluggard

—the last in the form of an experience of the poet like Ps. xxxvii.

35 f. The moral which he has drawn from this recorded observa-

tion is expressed in two verses such as we have already found at

vi. 10 f. These two appendices are, as is evident from their com-

mencement as well as from their conclusion, in closest relation to

the introduction, i. 7–ix.

            There now follows in xxv.–xxix. the second great collection of

"Proverbs of Solomon," "copied out," as the superscription men-

tions, by the direction of King Hezekiah. It falls, apparently, into

two parts; for as xxiv. 30 ff., a Mashal hymn, stands at the end

of the two appendices, so the Mashal hymn xxvii. 23 ff. must be

regarded as forming the division between the two halves of this

collection. It is very sharply distinguished from the collection

beginning with chap. x. The extent of the stichs and the greater

or less observance of the parallelism furnish no distinguishing

mark, but there are others worthy of notice. In the first collection

the proverbs are exclusively in the form of distichs; here we have

also some tristichs xxv. 8, 13, 20, xxvii. 10, 22, xxviii. 10, tetra-

stichs xxv 4 f., 9 f., 21 f., xxvi. 18 f., 24 f., xxvii. 15 f., and

pentastichs xxv. 6 f., besides the Mashal hymn already referred to.

The kind of arrangement is not essentially different from that in

18                       THE BOOK OF PROVERBS. 


the first collection; it is equally devoid of plan, yet there are here

some chains or strings of related proverbs, xxvi. 1-12, 13-16,

20-22. A second essential distinction between the two collections

is this, that while in the first the antithetic proverb forms the

prevailing element, here it is the parabolic, and especially the

emblematic; in xxv.-xxvii. are sentences almost wholly of this

character. We say almost, for to place together proverbs of this

kind exclusively is not the plan of the collector. There are also

proverbs of the other schemes, fewer synonymous, etc., than anti-

thetic, and the collection begins in very varied quodlibet: xxv. 2,

an antithetic proverb; xxv. 3, a priamel with three subjects; xxv. 4f.,

an emblematic tetrastich; xxv. 6 f., a pentastich; xxv. 8, a tristich;

xxv. 9 f., a tetrastich, with the negative Np; xxv. 11, an emblematic

distich ("Golden apples in silver caskets—a word spoken in a fitting

way"). The antithetic proverbs are found especially in xxviii. and

xxix.: the first and the last proverb of the whole collection, xxv. 2,

xxix. 27, are antithetic; but between these two the comparative

and the figurative proverbs are so prevalent, that this collection

appears like a variegated picture-book with explanatory notes written

underneath. In extent it is much smaller than the foregoing. I

reckon 126 proverbs in 137 Masoretic verses.

            The second collection of Solomon's proverbs has also several

appendices, the first of which, xxx., according to the inscription, is

by an otherwise unknown author, Agur the son of Jakeh. The first

poem of this appendix presents in a thoughtful way the unsearch-

ableness of God. This is followed by certain peculiar pieces, such

as a tetrastich regarding the purity of God's word, xxx. 5 f.; a prayer

for a moderate position between riches and poverty, vers. 7-9; a

distich against slander, ver. 10; a priamel without the conclusion,

vers. 11-14; the insatiable four (a Midda), ver. 15 f.; a tetrastich

regarding the disobedient son, ver. 17; the incomprehensible four,

vers. 18-20; the intolerable four, vers. 21-23; the diminutive but

prudent four, vers. 24-28; the excellent four, vers. 29-31; a penta-

stich recommending prudent silence, ver. 32 f. Two other supple-

ments form the conclusion of the whole book:  the counsel of

Lemuel's mother to her royal son, xxxi. 2-9, and the praise of the

virtuous woman in the form of an alphabetical acrostic, xxxi. 10 ff.

            After we have acquainted ourselves with the manifold forms of

the technical proverbs and their distribution in the several parts of

the collection, the question arises, What conclusions regarding the

                                       INTRODUCTION.                                        19


origin of these several parts may be drawn from these forms found

in them?  We connect with this the conception of Ewald, who sees

represented in the several parts of the collection the chief points of

the history of proverbial poetry. The "Proverbs of Solomon,"

x. 1—xxii. 16, appear to him to be the oldest collection, which

represents the simplest and the most ancient kind of proverbial

poetry. Their distinguishing characteristics are the symmetrical

two-membered verse, complete in itself, containing in itself a fully

intelligible meaning, and the quick contrast of thesis and antithesis.

The oldest form of the technical proverb, according to Ewald, is,

according to our terminology, the antithetic distich, such as pre-

dominates in x. 1—xxii. 16. Along with these antithetic distichs

we find here also others of a different kind. Ewald so considers

the contrast of the two members to be the original fundamental

law of the technical proverb, that to him these other kinds of

distichs represent the diminution of the inner force of the two-

membered verse, the already begun decay of the art in its oldest

limits and laws, and the transition to a new method. In the

"Proverbs of Solomon," xxv.—xxix., of the later collection, that

rigorous formation of the verse appears already in full relaxation

and dissolution:  the contrast of the sense of the members appears

here only exceptionally; the art turns from the crowded fulness and

strength of the representation more to the adorning of the thought

by means of strong and striking figures and forms of expression, to

elegant painting of certain moral conditions and forms of life; and

the more the technical proverb is deprived of the breath of a vigor-

ous poetic spirit, so much the nearer does it approach to the vulgar

proverb; the full and complete symmetry of the two members

disappears, less by the abridgment of one of them, than by the too

great extension and amplification of the two-membered proverb

into longer admonitions to a moral life, and descriptions relating

thereto. So the proverbial poetry passes essentially into a different

form and manner.  "While it loses in regard to internal vigorous

brevity and strength, it seeks to gain again by means of connected

instructive exposition, by copious description and detailed repre-

sentation; breaking up its boldly delineated, strong, and yet simply

beautiful form, it rises to oratorical display, to attractive eloquence,

in which, indeed, though the properly poetical and the artistic

gradually disappears) yet the warmth and easy comprehension are

increased."  In chap. i.—ix., the introduction of the older collection;

20                    THE BOOK OF PROVERBS.


and xxii. 17-xxiv., of the first half of the supplement to the older col-

lection (xxv.-xxix. is the second half), supplied by a later writer, the

great change is completed, the growth of which the later collection

of the "Proverbs of Solomon," particularly in xxv.-xxix., reveals.

The symmetry of the two members of the verse is here completely

destroyed; the separate proverb appears almost only as an exception;

the proverbial poetry has passed into admonition and discourse, and

has become in many respects lighter, and more flexible, and flowing,

and comprehensible. "It is true that on the side of this later form

of proverbial poetry there is not mere loss. While it always loses

the excellent pointed brevity, the inner fulness and strength of the

old proverbs, it gains in warmth, impressiveness, intelligibility; the

wisdom which at first strives only to make its existence and its

contents in endless manifoldness known, reaches this point at last,

that having become clear and certain, it now also turns itself

earnestly and urgently to men." In the later additions, chap.

xxx. xxxi., appended altogether externally, the proverbial poetry

has already disappeared, and given place to elegant descriptions of

separate moral truths. While the creative passes into the back-

ground, the whole aim is now toward surprising expansion and new

artistic representation.

            This view of the progressive development of the course of pro-

verbial poetry is one of the chief grounds for the determination of

Ewald's judgment regarding the parts that are Solomonic and those

that are not Solomonic in the collection. In x. 1-xxii. 16 he does

not regard the whole as Solomon's, as immediately and in their

present form composed by Solomon; but the breath of the Solo-

monic spirit enlivens and pervades all that has been added by other

and later poets. But most of the proverbs of the later collection

(xxv.-xxix.) are not much older than the time of Hezekiah; yet

there are in it some that are Solomonic, and of the period next to

Solomon. The collection stretches backward with its arms, in part

indeed, as the superscription, the "Proverbs of Solomon," shows,

to the time of Solomon. On the other hand, in the introduction,

i.-ix., and in the first half of the appendix (xxii. 17-xxiv.), there

is not found a single proverb of the time of Solomon; both

portions belong to two poets of the seventh century B.C., a new

era, in which the didactic poets added to the older Solomonic col-

lection longer pieces of their own composition. The four small

pieces, xxx. 1-14,15-33, xxxi. 1-9,10 ff., are of a still later date;

                                 INTRODUCTION.                                        21


they cannot belong to an earlier period than the end of the seventh

or the beginning of the sixth century B.C.

            We recognise the penetration, the sensibility, the depth of

thought indicated by this opinion of Ewald's regarding the origin

of the book; yet for the most part it is not supported by satisfac-

tory proof.  If we grant that he has on the whole rightly con-

strued the history of proverbial poetry, nevertheless the conclusion

that proverbs which bear in themselves the marks of the oldest

proverbial poetry belong to the Solomonic era, and that the others

belong to a period more nearly or more remotely subsequent to it,

is very fallacious. In this case much that is found in Sirach's

Book of Proverbs must be Solomonic; and the Jsx ylwm of Isaac

Satanow,1 the contemporary of Moses Mendelssohn, as well as

many other proverbs in the collection Nnbrd Nylm, and in the poetical

works of other Jewish poets belonging to the middle ages or to

later times, might be dated back perhaps a thousand years.  Along

with the general course of development the individuality of the

poet is also to be taken into account; an ancient poet can, along

with the formally completed, produce the imperfect, which appears

to belong to a period of art that has degenerated, and a modern

poet can emulate antiquity with the greatest accuracy. But Ewald's

construction of the progress of the development of proverbial

poetry is also in part arbitrary. That the two-membered verse is the

oldest form of the technical proverb we shall not dispute, but that

it is the two-membered antithetic verse is a supposition that cannot

be proved; and that Solomon wrote only antithetic distichs is an

absurd assertion, to which Keil justly replies, that the adhering to

only one form and structure is a sign of poverty, of mental narrow-

ness and one-sidedness. There are also other kinds of parallelism,

which are not less beautiful and vigorous than the antithetic, and

also other forms of proverbs besides the distich in which the thought,

which can in no way be restrained within two lines, must neces-

sarily divide itself into the branches of a greater number of lines.

Thus I must agree with Keil in the opinion, that Ewald's assertion

that in the Hezekiah-collection the strong form of the technical

proverb is in full dissolution, contains an exaggeration. If the


            1 [Isaac Ha-Levi was born at Satanow (whence his name), in Russian Poland,

1732, died at Berlin 1802. Besides other works, he was the author of several

collections of gnomes and apothegms in imitation of the Proverbs. Vid.

Delitzsch Zur Gesch, der Jüd. Poesie, p.115.]

22                   THE BOOK OF PROVERBS.


first collection, x. 1-xxii. 16, contains only two (x. 26, xi. 22)

figurative proverbs, while it would be altogether foolish to deny

that these two, because they were figurative proverbs, were Solo-

monic, or to affirm that he was the author of only these two, so it

is self-evident that the Hezekiah-collection, which is principally a

collection of figurative proverbs, must contain many proverbs in

which a different kind of parallelism prevails, which has the ap-

pearance of a looser connection. Is it not probable that Solomon,

who had an open penetrating eye for the greatest and the smallest

objects of nature, composed many such proverbs? And is e.g.

the proverb xxvi. 23,

                        Dross of silver spread over a potsherd—

                        Burning lips and a wicked heart,

less beautiful, and vigorous, and worthy of Solomon than any anti-

thetic distich? If Ewald imagines that the 3000 proverbs which

Solomon wrote were all constructed according to this one model, we

are much rather convinced that Solomon's proverbial poetry, which

found the distich and the tetrastich as forms of proverbs already in

use, would not only unfold within the limits of the distich the most

varied manifoldness of thought and form, but would also within the

limits of the Mashal generally, run through the whole scale from

the distich up to octastichs and more extensive forms. But while

we cannot accept Ewald's criteria which he applies to the two

collections, x. 1-xxii. 16 and xxv.-xxix., yet his delineation of the

form and kind of proverbial poetry occurring in i.-ix., xxii. 17 ff.,

is excellent, as is also his conclusion, that these portions belong to

a new and more recent period of proverbial poetry. Since in xxii.

17-21 manifestly a new course of "Words of the Wise" by a poet

later than Solomon is introduced, it is possible, yea, not improbable,

that he, or, as Ewald thinks, another somewhat older poet, intro-

duces in i. 7-ix. the "Proverbs of Solomon" following, from x. 1


            But if Solomon composed not only distichs, but also tristichs,

etc., it is strange that in the first collection, x.-xxii. 16, there are

exclusively distichs; and if he constructed not only contrasted

proverbs, but equally figurative proverbs, it is as strange that in

the first collection the figurative proverbs are almost entirely

wanting, while in the second collection, xxv.-xxix., on the contrary,

they prevail. This remarkable phenomenon may be partly ex-

plained if we could suppose that not merely the second collection,

                               INTRODUCTION.                            23


but both of them, were arranged by the "men of Hezekiah," and

that the whole collection of the Solomonic proverbs was divided

by them into two collections according to their form. But leaving

out of view other objections, one would in that case have expected in

the first collection the proportionally great number of the antithetic

distichs which stand in the second. If we regard both collections

as originally one whole, then there can be no rational ground for its

being divided in this particular way either by the original collector

or by a later enlarger of the collection. We have therefore to

regard the two portions as the work of two different authors. The

second is by the "men of Hezekiah;" the first cannot be by

Solomon himself, since the number of proverbs composed, and

probably also written out by Solomon, amounted to 3000; besides,

if Solomon was the author of the collection, there would be visible

on it the stamp of his wisdom in its plan and order:  it is thus the

work of another author, who is certainly different from the author

of the introductory Mashal poems, i. 7—ix. For if the author of

the title of the book were not at the same time the author of the

introduction, he must have taken it from some other place; thus it

is inconceivable how he could give the title "Proverbs of Solomon,"

etc., i. 1-6, to poems which were not composed by Solomon. If

i. 7—ix. is not by Solomon, then these Mashal poems are explicable

only as the work of the author of the title of the book, and as an

introduction to the "Proverbs of Solomon," beginning x. 1. It

must be one and the same author who edited the "Proverbs of

Solomon" x. 16, prefixed i. 7—ix. as an introduction to

them, and appended to them the “Words of the Wise,” xxii.

xxiv. 22; the second collector then appended to this book a sup-

plement of the “Words of the Wise;” xxiv. 23 ff., and then the

Hezekiah-collection of Solomonic proverbs, xxv.—xxix.; perhaps

also, in order that the book might be brought to a close in the same

form in which it was commenced, he added 1 the non-Solomonic

proverbial poem xxx. f. We do not, however, maintain that the

book has this origin, but only this, that on the supposition of the

non-Solomonic origin of i. 7—ix. it cannot well have any other

origin. But the question arises again, and more emphatically,

How was it possible that the first collector left as gleanings to


            1 Zöckler takes xxiv. 23 ff. as a second appendix to the first principal collec-

tion. This is justifiable, but the second superscription rather suggests two


24                   THE BOOK OF PROVERBS.


the second so great a number of distichs, almost all parabolical,

and besides, all more than two-lined proverbs of Solomon?  One

can scarcely find the reason of this singular phenomenon in any-

thing else than in the judgment of the author of the first collection

as the determining motive of his selection. For when we think also

on the sources and origin of the two collections, the second always

presupposes the first, and that which is singular in the author's

thus restricting himself can only have its ground in the freedom

which he allowed to his subjectivity.

            Before we more closely examine the style and the teaching of

the book, and the conclusions thence arising, another phenomenon

claims our attention, which perhaps throws light on the way in

which the several collections originated; but, at all events, it may

not now any longer remain out of view, when we are in the act of

forming a judgment on this point.

            3. The repetitions in the Book of Proverbs.—We find not only

in the different parts of the collection, but also within the limits

of one and the same part, proverbs which wholly or in part are

repeated in the same or in similar words. Before we can come to

a judgment, we must take cognizance as closely as possible of this

fact. We begin with "The Proverbs of Solomon," x.–xxii. 16;

for this collection is in relation to xxv.–xxix. certainly the earlier,

and it is especially with respect to the Solomonic proverbs that

this fact demands an explanation. In this earlier collection we

find, (1) whole proverbs repeated in exactly the same words:

xiv. 12 = xvi. 25;—(2) proverbs slightly changed in their form

of expression: x. 1=xv. 20, xiv. 20 = xix. 4, xvi. 2= xxi. 2,

xix. 5 = xix. 9, xx. 10 = xx. 23, xxi. 9 = xxi. 19;—(3) proverbs

almost identical in form, but somewhat different in sense: x. 2 =

xi. 4, xiii. 14= xiv. 27;—(4) proverbs the first lines of which are

the same: x. 15 = xviii. 11;—(5) proverbs with their second lines

the same: x. 6 = x. 11, x. 8 =x. 10, xv. 33 = xviii. 12;—(6)

proverbs with one line almost the same: xi. 13=xx. 19, xi. 21=xvi.

5, xii. 14 = xiii. 2, xiv. 31 = xvii. 5, xvi 18 = xviii. 12, xix. 12 =

xx. 2; comp. also xvi. 28 with xvii. 9, xix. 25 with xxi. 11. In com-

paring these proverbs, one will perceive that for the most part the

external or internal resemblance of the surrounding has prompted

the collector to place the one proverb in this place and the other in

that place (not always indeed; for what reason e.g. could determine

                                  INTRODUCTION.                                        25


the position of xvi. 25 and xix. 5, 9, I cannot say); then that the pro-

verb standing earlier is generally to all appearance, also the earlier

formed, for the second of the pair is mostly a synonymous distich,

which generally further extends antithetically one line of the first:

cf. xviii. 11. with x. 15, xx. 10, 23 with xi. 1, xx. 19 with xi. 13,

xvi. 5 with xi. 21, xx. 2 with xix. 12, also xvii. 5 with xiv. 31,

where from an antithetic proverb a synthetic one is formed; but

here also there are exceptions, as xiii. 2 compared with xii. 14, and

xv. 33 with xviii. 12, where the same line is in the first case con-

nected with a synonymous, and in the second with an antithetic

proverb; but here also the contrast is so loose, that the earlier-

occurring proverb has the appearance of priority.

            We now direct our attention to the second collection, xxv.-xxix.

When we compare the proverbs found here with one another, we

see among them a disproportionately smaller number of repetitions

than in the other collection; only a single entire proverb is repeated

in almost similar terms, but in an altered sense, xxix. 20 = xxvi. 12;

but proverbs such as xxviii.12, 28, xxix. 2, notwithstanding the partial

resemblance, are equally original. On the other hand, in this second

collection we find numerous repetitions of proverbs and portions of

proverbs from the first:¾(1) Whole proverbs perfectly identical

(leaving out of view insignificant variations): xxv. 24 = xxi. 9,

xxvi. 22 = xviii. 8, xxvii. 12 = xxii. 3, xxvii. 13 = xx. 16;¾(2)

proverbs identical in meaning, with somewhat changed expression:

xxvi. 13 = xxii. 13, xxvi. 15 = xix. 24, xxviii. 6= xix. 1, xxviii. 19 =

xii. 11, xxix. 13 = xxii. 2;¾(3) proverbs with one line the same

and one line different:  xxvii. 21 = xvii. 3, xxix. 22 = xv. 18; cf.

also xxvii. 15 with xix. 13. When we compare these proverbs with

one another, we are uncertain as to many of them which has the

priority, as e.g. xxvii. 21 = xvii. 3, xxix. 22 = xv. 18; but in the case

of others there is no doubt that the Hezekiah-collection contains the

original form of the proverb which is found in the other collec-

tion, as xxvi. 13, xxviii. 6, 19, xxix. 13, xxvii. 15, in relation to

their parallels. In the other portions of this book also we find such  

repetitions as are met with in these two collections of Solomonic

proverbs. In i. 7-ix. we have ii. 16, a little changed, repeated in

vii. 5, and iii. 15 in viii. 11; ix. 10a = i. 7a is a case not worthy

of being mentioned, and it were inappropriate here to refer to ix.

4, 16. In the first appendix of "the Words of the Wise," xxii.

17-xxiv. 22, single lines often repeat themselves in another con-


26                       THE BOOK OF PROVERBS.


nection; cf. xxiii. 3 and 6, xxiii. 10 and xxii.. 28, xxiii. 17 f. and

xxiv. 13 f., xxii. 23 and xxiii. 11, xxiii. 17 and xxiv. 1. That in

such cases the one proverb is often the pattern of the other, is placed

beyond a doubt by the relation of xxiv. 19 to Ps. xxxvii. 1; cf.

also xxiv. 20 with Ps. xxxvii. 38. If here there are proverbs like

those of Solomon in their expression, the presumption is that the

priority belongs to the latter, as xxiii. 27 cf. xxii. 14, xxiv. 5 f.

cf xi. 14, xxiv. 19 f. cf. xiii. 9, in which latter case the justice

of the presumption is palpable. Within the second appendix of

"the Words of the Wise," xxiv. 23 ff., no repetitions are to be

expected on account of its shortness; yet is xxiv. 23 repeated

from the Solomonic Mashal xxviii. 21, and as xxiv. 33 f. are

literally the same as vi. 10 f., the priority is presumably on the

side of the author of i. 7—ix., at least of the Mashal in the form

in which he communicates it. The supplements xxx. and xxxi.

afford nothing that is worth mention as bearing on our present

inquiry,1 and we may therefore now turn to the question, What

insight into the origin of these proverbs and their collection do the

observations made afford?

            From the numerous repetitions of proverbs and portions of

proverbs of the first collection of the "Proverbs of Solomon" in

the Hezekiah-collection, as well as from another reason stated at

the end of the foregoing section of our inquiry, we conclude that

the two collections were by different authors; in other words, that

they had not both "the men of Hezekiah" for their authors.  It

is true that the repetitions in themselves do not prove anything

against the oneness of their authorship; for there are within the

several collections, and even within i.—ix. (cf. vi. 20 with i. 8, viii.


            1 Quite the same phenomenon, Fleischer remarks, presents itself in the dif-

ferent collections of proverbs ascribed to the Caliph Ali, where frequently one

and the same thought in one collection is repeated in manifold forms in a second,

here in a shorter, there in a longer form. As a general principle this is to be

borne in mind, that the East transmits unchanged, with scrupulous exactness,

only religious writings regarded as holy and divine, and therefore these

Proverbs have been transmitted unchanged only since they became a distinct

part of the canon; before that time it happened to them, as to all in the East

that is exposed to the arbitrariness of the changing spirit and the intercourse of

life, that one and the same original text has been modified by one speaker

and writer after another. Thus of the famous poetical works of the East, such

e.g. as Firdusi's Schah-Nameh [Book of the Kings] and Sadi's Garden of

Roses, not one MS. copy agrees with another.

                                     INTRODUCTION.                                 27


10 f. with iii. 14 f.), repetitions, notwithstanding the oneness of

their authorship. But if two collections of proverbs are in so

many various ways different in their character, as x. 1-xxii. 16 and

xxv.-xxix., then the previous probability rises almost to a certainty

by such repetitions. From the form, for the most part anomalous, in

which the Hezekiah-collection presents the proverbs and portions of

proverbs which are found also in the first collection, and from their

being otherwise independent, we further conclude that "the men of

Hezekiah" did not borrow from the first collection, but formed it

from other sources. But since one does not understand why "the

men of Hezekiah" should have omitted so great a number of

genuine Solomonic proverbs which remain, after deducting the

proportionally few that have been repeated (for this omission is

not to be explained by saying that they selected those that were

appropriate and wholesome for their time), we are further justified

in the conclusion that the other collection was known to them as one

current in their time. Their object was, indeed, not to supplement

this older collection; they rather regarded their undertaking as

a similar people's book, which they wished to place side by side

with that collection without making it superfluous. The difference

of the selection in the two collections has its whole directing occa-

sion in the difference of the intention. The first collection begins

(x. 1) with the proverb—

                        A wise son maketh glad his father,

                        And a foolish son is the grief of his mother;

the second (xxv. 2) with the proverb—

                        It is the glory of God to conceal a thing,

                        And the glory of kings to search out a matter.

The one collection is a book for youth, to whom it is dedicated in

the extended introduction, i. 7-ix.; the second is a people's book

suited to the time of Hezekiah ("Solomon's Wisdom in Hezekiah's

days," as Stier has named it), and therefore it takes its start

not, like the first, from the duties of the child, but from those of

the king. If in the two collections everything does not stand in

conscious relation to these different objects, yet the collectors at

least have, from the commencement to the close (cf. xxii. 15 with

xxix. 26), these objects before their eyes.

            As to the time at which the first collection was made, the above

considerations also afford us some materials for forming a judg-

ment. Several pairs of proverbs which it contains present to us

28                     THE BOOK OF PROVERBS.


essentially the same sayings in older and more recent forms. Keil

regards the proverbs also that appear less original as old-Solomonic,

and remarks that one and the same poet does not always give

expression to the same thoughts with the same pregnant brevity

and excellence, and affirms that changes and reproductions of

separate proverbs may proceed even from Solomon himself. This

is possible; but if we consider that even Davidic psalms have been

imitated, and that in the "Words of the Wise" Solomonic proverbs

are imitated,—moreover, that proverbs especially are subject to

changes, and invite to imitation and transformation,—we shall find

it to be improbable. Rather we would suppose, that between the

publication of the 3000 proverbs of Solomon and the preparation

of the collection x.—xxii. 16 a considerable time elapsed, during

which the old-Solomonic Mashal had in the mouths of the people

and of poets acquired a multitude of accretions, and that the col-

lector had without hesitation gathered together such indirect

Solomonic proverbs with those that were directly Solomonic. But

did not then the 3000 Solomonic proverbs afford to him scope

enough? We must answer this question in the negative; for if

that vast number of Solomonic proverbs was equal in moral-reli-

gious worth to those that have been preserved to us, then neither

the many repetitions within the first collection nor the proportional

poverty of the second can be explained. The "men of Hezekiah"

made their collection of Solomonic proverbs nearly 300 years after

Solomon's time; but there is no reason to suppose that the old book

of the Proverbs of Solomon had disappeared at that time. Much

rather we may with probability conclude, from the subjects to

which several proverbs of these collections extend (husbandry, war,

court life, etc.), and from Solomon's love for the manifold forms

of natural and of social life, that his 3000 proverbs would not have

afforded much greater treasures than these before us. But if the

first collection was made at a time in which the old-Solomonic

proverbs had been already considerably multiplied by new combi-

nations, accretions, and imitations, then probably a more suitable

time for their origination could not be than that of Jehoshaphat,

which was more related to the time of Solomon than to that

of David. The personality of Jehoshaphat, inclined toward the

promotion of the public worship of God, the edification of the

people, the administration of justice; the dominion of the house of

David recognised and venerated far and wide among neighbouring

                                       INTRODUCTION.                                29


peoples; the tendencies of that time towards intercourse with dis-

tant regions; the deep peace which followed the subjugation of

the confederated nations,—all these are features which stamped

the time of Jehoshaphat as a copy of that of Solomon. Hence we

are to expect in it the fostering care of the Chokma. If the author

of the introduction and editor of the older book of Proverbs lived

after Solomon and before Hezekiah, then the circumstances of

the case most suitably determine his time as at the beginning of

the reign of Jehoshaphat, some seventy years after Solomon's death.

If in i.-ix. it is frequently said that wisdom was seen openly in the

streets and ways, this agrees with 2 Chron. xvii. 7-9, where it is said

that princes, priests, and Levites, sent out by Jehoshaphat (compare

the Carolingian missi), went forth into the towns of Judah with the

book of the law in their hands as teachers of the people, and with

2 Chron. xix. 4, where it is stated that Jehoshaphat himself "went

out through the people from Beer-sheba to Mount Ephraim, and

brought them back unto the Lord God of their fathers." We

have an evidence of the fondness for allegorical forms of address

at that time in 2 Kings xiv. 8-11 (2 Chron. xxv. 17-21), which is

so far favourable to the idea that the allegorizing author of i.-ix.

belonged to that epoch of history.

            This also agrees with the time of Jehoshaphat, that in the first col-

lection the kingdom appears in its bright side, adorned with righteous-

ness (xiv. 35, xvi. 10, 12, 13, xx. 8), wisdom ( xx. 26), grace and truth

(xx. 28), love to the good (xxii.11), divine guidance (xxi. 1), and in

the height of power (xvi. 14, 15, xix. 12); while in the second collec-

tion, which immediately begins with a series of the king's sayings,

the kingdom is seen almost only (with exception of xxix. 14) on

its dark side, and is represented under the destructive dominion of

tyranny (xxviii. 15, 16, xxix. 2), of oppressive taxation (xxix. 4),

of the Camarilla (xxv. 5, xxix. 12), and of multiplied authorities

(xxviii. 2).  Elster is right when he remarks, that in x.-xxii. 16 the

kingdom in its actual state corresponds to its ideal, and the warning

against the abuse of royal power lies remote. If these proverbs

more distinguishably than those in xxv.-xxix. bear the physiog-

nomy of the time of David and Solomon, so, on the other hand,

the time of Jehoshaphat, the son and successor of Asa, is favour-

able to their collection; while in the time of Hezekiah, the son

and successor of Ahaz, and father and predecessor of Manasseh,

in which, through the sin of Ahaz, negotiations with the world-

30                     THE BOOK OF PROVERBS.


kingdom began, that cloudy aspect of the kingdom which is borne

by the second supplement, xxiv. 23-25, was brought near.

            Thus between Solomon and Hezekiah, and probably under

Jehoshaphat, the older Book of Proverbs contained in i.-xxiv. 22

first appeared. The "Proverbs of Solomon," x. 1-xxii. 16, which

formed the principal part, the very kernel of it, were enclosed on the

one side, at their commencement, by the lengthened introduction

i. 7-ix., in which the collector announces himself as a highly gifted

teacher and as the instrument of the Spirit of revelation, and on the

other side are shut in at their close by "the Words of the Wise,"

xxii. 17-xxiv. 34. The author, indeed, does not announce i. 6 such

a supplement of "the Words of the Wise;" but after these words

in the title of the book, he leads us to expect it. The introduc-

tion to the supplement xxii. 17-21 sounds like an echo of the

larger introduction, and corresponds to the smaller compass of the

supplement. The work bears on the whole the stamp of a unity;

for even in the last proverb with which it closes (xxiv. 21 f.,  

"My son, fear thou Jahve and the king," etc.), there still sounds

the same key-note which the author had struck at the commence-

ment. A later collector, belonging to the time subsequent to

Hezekiah, enlarged the work by the addition of the Hezekiah-

portion, and by a short supplement of "the Words of the Wise,"

which he introduces, according to the law of analogy, after xxii.

17-xxiv. 22. The harmony of the superscriptions xxiv. 23, xxv.

1, favours at least the supposition that these supplements are the

work of one hand. The circumstance that "the Words of the

Wise," xxii. 17-xxiv. 22, in two of their maxims refer to the older

collection of Solomonic proverbs, but, on the contrary, that "the

Words of the Wise," xxiv. 23 ff., refer in xxiv. 23 to the Heze-

kiah-collection, and in xxiv. 33 f. to the introduction i. 7-ix.,

strengthens the supposition that with xxiv. 23 a second half of the

book, added by another hand, begins. There is no reason for not

attributing the appendix xxx.-xxxi. to this second collector; perhaps

he seeks, as already remarked above, to render by means of it the

conclusion of the extended Book of Proverbs uniform with that of

the older book. Like the older collection of "Proverbs of Solo-

mon," so also now the Hezekiah-collection has "Proverbs of the

Wise" on the right and on the left, and the king of proverbial

poetry stands in the midst of a worthy retinue. The second col-

lector distinguishes himself from the first by this, that he never

                                INTRODUCTION.                                   31


professes himself to be a proverbial poet. It is possible that the

proverbial poem of the "virtuous woman," xxxi. 10 ff., may be

his work, but there is nothing to substantiate this opinion.

            After this digression, into which we have been led by the repe-

titions found in the book, we now return, conformably to our plan,

to examine it from the point of view of the forms of its language

and of its doctrinal contents, and to inquire whether the results

hitherto attained are confirmed, and perhaps more fully determined,

by this further investigation.


            4. The Book of the Proverbs on the side of its manifoldness of

style and form of instruction.—We commence our inquiry with the

relation in which x.–xxii. 16 and xxv.–xxix. stand to each other with

reference to their forms of language. If the primary stock of both

of these sections belongs indeed to the old time of Solomon, then they

must bear essentially the same verbal stamp upon them. Here

we of course keep out of view the proverbs that are wholly or

partially identical. If the expression NF,Ba-yred;Ha (the chambers of the

body) is in the first collection a favourite figure (xviii. 8, xx. 27, 30),

coined perhaps by Solomon himself, the fact that this figure is also

found in xxvi. 22 is not to be taken into account, since in xxvi. 22

the proverb xviii. 8 is repeated. Now it cannot at all be denied,

that in the first collection certain expressions are met with which

one might expect to meet again in the Hezekiah-collection, and

which, notwithstanding, are not to be found in it. Ewald gives

a list of such expressions, in order to show that the old-Solo-

monic dialect occurs, with few exceptions, only in the first collec-

tion.  But his catalogue, when closely inspected, is unsatisfactory.

That many of these expressions occur also in the introduction

i. 1–ix. proves, it is true, nothing against him. But xPer;ma,

(health), xii. 18, xiii. 17, xiv. 30, xv. 4, xvi. 24, occurs also in

xxix. 1; JDeri (he pursued), xi. 19, xii. 11, xv. 9, xix. 7, also in

xxviii. 19; NGAr;ni (a tattler), xvi. 28, xviii. 8, also in xxvi. 20, 22;

hq,nA.yi xlo (not go unpunished), xi. 21, xvi. 5, xvii. 5, also in xxviii.

20. These expressions thus supply an argument for, not against,

the linguistic oneness of the two collections. The list of ex-

pressions common to the two collections might be considerably

increased, e.g.  frap;ni (are unruly), xxix. 18, Kal xiii. 18, xv. 32;

CxA (he that hastens), xix. 2, xxi. 5, xxviii. 20, xxix. 19; MynivAd;mi

(of contentions), xxi. 9 (xxv. 24), xxi. 19, xviii. 29, xxvi. 21, xxvii.

32                      THE BOOK OF PROVERBS.


25. If it may be regarded as a striking fact that the figures

of speech Myy.iHa rOqm; (a fountain of life), x. 11, xiii. 14, xiv. 27,

xvi. 22, and Myy.iHa Cfe (a tree of life), xi. 30, xiii. 12, xv. 4, as

also the expressions hTAHim; (destruction), x. 14, 15, xiii. 3, xiv. 28,

xviii. 7, x. 29, xxi. 15, HaypiyA (he uttereth), xii. 17, xiv. 5, 25, xix.

5, 9; Jl.esi (perverteth), xiii. 6; xix. 3, xxi. 12, xxii. 12, and Jl,s,

(perverseness), xi. 3, xv. 4, are only to be found in the first col-

lection, and not in that by the “men of Hezekiah,” it is not a

decisive evidence against the oneness of the origin of the proverbs

in both collections. The fact also, properly brought forward by

Ewald, that proverbs which begin with wye (there is),¾e.g. xi. 24,

"There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth still,"¾are exclusively

found in the first collection, need not perplex us; it is one peculiar

kind of proverbs which the author of this collection has by pre-

ference gathered together, as he has also omitted all parabolic

proverbs except these two, x. 26, xi. 22. If proverbs beginning

with wy are found only in the first, so on the other hand the para-

bolic Vav and the proverbial perfect, reporting as it were an ex-

perience (cf. in the second collection, besides xxvi. 13, xxvii. 12,

xxix. 13, also xxviii. 1, xxix. 9), for which Döderlein 1 has invented

the expression aoristus gnomicus,2 are common to both sentences.

Another remark of Ewald's (Jahrb. xi. 28), that extended proverbs

with wyxi are exclusively found in the Hezekiah-collection (xxix.

9, 3, xxv. 18, 28), is not fully established; in xvi. 27-29 three

proverbs with wyxi are found together, and in xx. 6 as well as in

xxix. 9 wyxi occurs twice in one proverb. Rather it strikes us that

the article, not merely the punctatorially syncopated, but that ex-

pressed by all occurs only twice in the first collection, in xx. 1, xxi.

31; oftener in the second, xxvi. 14, 18, xxvii. 19, 20, 22. Since,

however, the first does not wholly omit the article, this also cannot

determine us to reject the linguistic unity of the second collec-

tion with the first, at least according to their primary stock.

            But also what of the linguistic unity of i. 1-ix. with both of these,

maintained by Keil?  It is true, and merits all consideration, that

a unity of language and of conception between i. 1-ix. and x.-

xxii. 16 which far exceeds the degree of unity between x.-xxii. 16

and xxv.-xxix. may be proved. The introduction is bound with the


            1 Reden u. Aufrätze, ii. 316.

            2 A similar thing is found among German proverbs, e g.: Wer nicht mitsass,

auch nicht mitass (Whoso sat not, ate not).

                              INTRODUCTION.                                    33

first collection in the closest manner by the same use of such ex-

pressions as rgaxA (gathereth), vi. 8, x. 5; NOwyxi (the middle, i.e. of

the night, deep darkness), vii. 9, xx. 20; tyriHExa (the end), v. 4,

xxiii. 18, xxiv. 14; yrizAk;xa (fierce), v. 9, xvii. 11; hnAyBi (under-

standing), i. 2, xvi. 16; hnaUbT; (understanding), ii. 6, iii. 19, xxi.

30; hrAzA (an adulteress), v. 3, xxii. 14, xxiii. 33; ble rsaHE (lacking

understanding), vi. 32, vii. 7, xii. 11; Hqal, Js,Oy (will increase

learning), i. 5, ix. 9, xvi. 21, 23; HaypiyA (uttereth), vi. 19, xiv. 5,

xix. 5, 9; zOlnA (perverted), iii. 32, xiv. 2; MynidAm; (contention), vi.

14, 19, x. 12; xPer;ma (health), iv. 22, xii. 18, xiii. 17, xvi. 24 

(deliverance, xxix. 1); Hs.ani (are plucked up), ii. 22, xv. 25;

hq,nA.yi xlo (shall not be unpunished), vi. 29, xi. 21, xvi. 5; Zzfehe

(strengthened, i.e. the face), vii. 13, xxi. 29; Myyi.Ha Cfe (tree of life),

iii. 18, xi. 30, xiii. 12, xv. 4; 27.3) (becometh surety) and fqaTA

(striketh hands) occurring together, vi. 1, xvii. 18, xxii. 26; MyitAP;

and MyxitAP; (simplicity, folly), i. 22, 32, viii. 5, ix. 6, xxiii. 3; CraqA

(to wink with the eyes), vi. 13, x. 10; tr,q, (a city), viii. 3, ix. 3,

14, xi. 11; tywixre (the beginning), i. 7, xvii. 11; bOF lk,We (good

understanding), iii. 4, xiii. 15; Cr,xA-UnK;w;yi (shall dwell in the land),

ii. 21, x. 30; NOdmA Hla.wi (sendeth forth strife), vi. 14, xvi. 28; tOkPuh;Ta

(evil words), ii. 12, vi. 14, x. 31, xvi. 28; hrAOT (instruction), i. 8,

iii. 1, iv. 2, vii. 2, xiii. 14; hy.AwiUT (counsel), iii. 21, viii. 14, xviii.

1; tOlUBH;Ta (prudent measures), i. 5, xx. 18, xxiv. 6;¾and these

are not the only points of contact between the two portions which

an attentive reader will meet with. This relation of i. 1-ix. 18 to

x.-xxii. 16 is a strong proof of the internal unity of that portion,

which Bertheau has called in question. But are we therefore to

conclude, with Keil, that the introduction is not less of the old

time of Solomon than x.-xxii. 16? Such a conclusion lies near,

but we do not yet reach it. For with these points of contact there

are not a few expressions exclusively peculiar to the introduction;¾

the expressions hmAzim; sing. (counsel), i. 4, iii. 21; hmAr;fA (prudence),

i. 4, viii. 5, 12; hcAylim; (an enigma, obscure maxim), i. 6; lGAf;ma (a

path of life), ii. 9, iv. 11, 26; hlAGAf;ma, ii. 15, 18, v. 6, 21; NOwyxi (the

apple of the eye), vii. 2, 9; tOrg;r;Ga (the throat), i. 9, iii. 3, 22;

the verbs htAxA (cometh), i. 27, sle.Pi (make level or plain), iv. 26,

v. 6, 21, and hFAWA (deviate), iv. 15, vii. 25. Peculiar to this section

is the heaping together of synonyms in close connection, as "con-

gregation" and "assembly," v. 14, "lovely hind" and "pleasant

roe," v. 19 ; cf. v. 11, vi. 7, vii. 9, viii. 13, 31. This usage is,

34                       THE BOOK OF PROVERBS.


however, only a feature in the characteristic style of this section

altogether different from that of x. 1—xxii. 16, as well as from

that of xxv.—xxix., of its disjointed diffuse form, delighting in

repetitions, abounding in synonymous parallelism, even to a repeti-

tion of the same words (cf. e.g. vi. 2), which, since the linguistic

and the poetic forms are here inseparable, we have already spoken

of in the second part of our introductory dissertation. This fun-

damental diversity in the whole condition of the section, notwith-

standing those numerous points of resemblance, demands for

i. 1-ix. an altogether different author from Solomon, and one who

is more recent. If we hold by this view, then these points of

resemblance between the sections find the most satisfactory expla-

nation. The gifted author of the introduction (i. 1-ix.) has formed

his style, without being an altogether slavish imitator, on the Solo-

monic proverbs. And why, then, are his parallels confined almost

exclusively to the section x. 1—xxii. 16, and do not extend to xxv.-

xxix.? Because he edited the former and not the latter, and took

pleasure particularly in the proverbs which he placed together,

x. 1-xxii. 16. Not only are expressions of this section, formed by

himself, echoed in his poetry, but the latter are for the most part

formed out of germs supplied by the former. One may regard, xix.

27, cf. xxvii. 11, as the germ of the admonitory addresses to the son

and xiv. 1 as the occasion of the allegory of the wise and the

foolish woman, ix. Generally, the poetry of this writer has its

hidden roots in the older writings. Who does not hear, to mention

only one thing, in i. 7-ix. an echo of the old fmw (hear), Deut.

vi. 4-9, cf. xi. 18-21? The whole poetry of this writer savours

of the Book of Deuteronomy. The admonitory addresses i. 7-ix.

are to the Book of Proverbs what Deuteronomy is to the Pentateuch.

As Deuteronomy seeks to bring home and seal upon the heart of

the people the hrAOT of the Mosaic law, so do they the hrAOT of the

Solomonic proverbs.

            We now further inquire whether, in the style of the two supple-

ments, xxii. 17-xxiv. 22 and xxiv. 23 ff., it is proved that the former

concludes the Book of Proverbs edited by the author of the general

introduction, and that the latter was added by a different author at

the same time with the Hezekiah-collection. Bertheau places both

supplements together, and attributes the introduction to them, xxii.

17-21, to the author of the general introduction, i. 7-ix. From

the fact that in ver. 19 of this lesser introduction ("I have taught

                                INTRODUCTION.                                       35


thee, hTAxA-Jxa, even thee") the pronoun is as emphatically repeated

as in xxiii. 15 (ynixA-Mga yBili: cf. xxiii. 14, 19), and that MyfinA (sweet),

xxii. 18, also occurs in the following proverbs, xxiii. 8, xxiv. 4, I see

no ground for denying it to the author of the larger general intro-

duction, since, according to Bertheau's own just observation, the

linguistic form of the whole collection of proverbs has an influence

on the introduction of the collector; with more justice from MywiyliwA,

xxii. 20 [only in Keri], as the title of honour given to the col-

lection of proverbs, compared with MydiyGin;, viii. 6, may we argue

for the identity of the authorship of both introductions. As little

can the contemporaneousness of the two supplements be shown

from the use of the pronoun, xxiv. 32, the ble tywi; (animum ad-

vertere, xxiv. 32), and MfAn;yi (shall be delight) xxiv. 25, for these

verbal points of contact, if they proved anything, would prove

too much: not only the contemporaneousness of the two sup-

plements, but also the identity of their authorship; but in this

case one does not see what the superscription MymikAHEl; hl,.xe-MGa (these

also of the wise men), separating them, means. Moreover, xxiv.

33 f. are from vi. 10 f., and nearer than the comparison of the

first supplement lies the comparison of Mfny with ii. 10, ix. 17,

ble rsaHE MdAxA (a man lacking understanding) with xvii. 18, UhUmfAz;yi

with xxii. 14,—points of contact which, if an explanatory reason

is needed, may be accounted for from the circumstance that to

the author or authors of the proverbs xxiv. 23 ff. the Book of

Proverbs i. 1-xxiv. 22 may have been perfectly familiar. From

imitation also the points of contact of xxii. 17-xxiv. 22 may

easily be explained; for not merely the lesser introduction, the

proverbs themselves also in part strikingly agree with the prevailing

language of i. 1-ix.: cf. j`r,D,Ba rw.exa (go straight forward in the way),

xxiii. 19, with iv. 14; tOmk;HA (wisdom), xxiv. 7, with i. 20, ix. 1; and

several others. But if, according to i. 7, we conceive of the older

Book of Proverbs as accompanied with, rather than as without

MymikAHE yreb;Di (words of wise men), then from the similarity of the

two superscriptions xxiv. 23, xxv. 1, it is probable that the more

recent half of the canonical book begins with xxiv. 23, and we

cannot therefore determine to regard xxiv. 23 ff. also as a com-

ponent part of the older Book of Proverbs; particularly since

xxiv. 23b is like xxviii. 21a, and the author of the introduction can

scarcely have twice taken into his book the two verses xxiv. 33 f.,

Which moreover seem to stand in their original connection at vi. 10f.

36                     THE BOOK OF PROVERBS.


            The supplements to the Hezekiah-collection, xxx. f., are of so

peculiar a form, that it will occur to no one (leaving out of view

such expressions as Mywidq; tfaDa, knowledge of the Holy, xxx. 3, cf.

ix. 10) to ascribe them to one of the authors of the preceding

proverbs. We content ourselves here with a reference to Mühlau's

work, De Proverbiorum quae dicuntur Aguri et Lemuelis origine

atque indole, 1869, where the Aramaic-Arabic colouring of this

in all probability foreign section is closely investigated.

            Having thus abundantly proved that the two groups of pro-

verbs bearing the inscription hmolow; ylew;mi are, as to their primary

stock, truly old-Solomonic, though not without an admixture of

imitations; that, on the contrary, the introduction, i. 7-ix., as well

as the MymkH yrbd, xxii. 17-xxiv. and xxx, are not at all old-

Solomonic, but belong to the editor of the older Book of Proverbs,

which reaches down to xxiv. 22, so that thus the present book of

the poetry of Solomon contains united with it the poems of the

older editor, and besides of other poets, partly unknown Israelites,

and partly two foreigners particularly named, Agur and Lemuel; we

now turn our attention to the DOCTRINAL CONTENTS of the work,

and ask whether a manifoldness in the type of instruction is notice-

able in it, and whether there is perceptible in this manifoldness

a progressive development. It may be possible that the Proverbs

of Solomon, the Words of the Wise, and the Proverbial poetry

of the editor, as they represent three eras, so also represent three

different stages in the development of proverbial poetry. However,

the Words of the Wise xxii. 17-xxiv. are so internally related to

the Proverbs of Solomon, that even the sharpest eye will discover

in them not more than the evening twilight of the vanishing Solo-

monic Mashal. There thus remain on the one side only the Pro-

verbs of Solomon with their echo in the Words of the Wise, on

the other the Proverbial Poems of the editor; and these present

themselves as monuments of two sharply defined epochs in the

progressive development of the Mashal.

            The common fundamental character of the book in all its parts

is rightly defined when we call it a Book of Wisdom. Indeed, with

the Church Fathers not only the Book of Sirach and the Solomonic

Apocrypha, but also this Book of Proverbs bears this title, which

seems also to have been in use among the Jews, since Melito of

Sardes adds to the title "Proverbs of Solomon,"  h[ kai> Sofi<a;

since, moreover, Eusebius (H. E. iv. 22) affirms, that not only Hege-

                               INTRODUCTION.                                  37


sippus and Irenaeus, but the whole of the ancients, called the

Proverbs of Solomon Pana<retoj Sofi<a.1  It is also worthy of

observation that it is called by Dionysius of Alexandria h[ sofh>

bi<bloj, and by Gregory of Nazianzum h[ paidagwgikh> sofi<a.

These names not only express praise of the book, but they also

denote at the same time the circle of human intellectual activity

from which it emanated. As the books of prophecy are a product

of the hxAUbn;, so the Book of the Proverbs is a product of the hmAk;HA,

sofi<a, the human effort to apprehend the objective sofi<a, and

thus of filosofi<a, or the studium sapientiae.  It has emanated

from the love of wisdom, to incite to the love of wisdom, and to

put into the possession of that which is the object of love—for this

end it was written. We need not hesitate, in view of Col. ii. 8,

to call the Book of Proverbs a "philosophical" treatise, since the

origin of the name filosofi<a is altogether noble: it expresses the

relativity of human knowledge as over against the absoluteness of

the divine knowledge, and the possibility of an endlessly progressive

advancement of the human toward the divine. The characteristic

ideas of a dialectic development of thought and of the formation of

a scientific system did not primarily appertain to it—the occasion

for this was not present to the Israelitish people: it required

fructification through the Japhetic spirit to produce philosophers

such as Philo, Maimonides, and Spinoza. But philosophy is every-

where present when the natural, moral, positive, is made the object

of a meditation which seeks to apprehend its last ground, its legi-

timate coherence, its true essence and aim. In this view C. B.

Michaelis, in his Adnotationes uberiores in Hagiographa, passes

from the exposition of the Psalms to that of the Proverbs with the

words, "From David's closet, consecrated to prayer, we now pass

into Solomon's school of wisdom, to admire the greatest of philo-

sophers in the son of the greatest of theologians."2


            1 This name [meaning "wisdom, including all virtue"], there are many

things to show, was common in Palestine. The Jerusalem Talmud, in a passage

quoted by Krochmal, Kerem Chemed, v. 79, divides the canon into hrvt, hxvbn,

and hmkH.  Bashi, in Baba bathra, 14b, calls Mishle (Proverbs) and Koheleth

(Ecclesiastes) hmkH yrps. The Book of Koheleth is called (b. Megilla, 7a),

according to its contents, hmlw lw vtmkH. The Song bears in the Syriac

version (the Peshito) the inscription chekmetho dechekmotho.

            2 "In hoc genere," says Lord Bacon, De Augmentis Scientiarum, viii. 2,

"nihil invenitur, quod ullo modo comparandum sit cum aphorismis illis, quos

edidit rex Salomon, de quo testatur Scriptura, cor illi fuisse instar arenae; maris.

38                    THE BOOK OF PROVERBS.


            When we give the name filosofi<a to the tendency of mind to

which the Book of Proverbs belongs, we do not merely use a current

scientific word, but there is an actual internal relation of the Book

of Proverbs to that which is the essence of philosophy, which

Scripture recognises (Acts xvii. 27, cf. Rom. i. 19 f.) as existing

within the domain of heathendom, and which stamps it as a natural

product of the human spirit, which never can be wanting where a

human being or a people rises to higher self-consciousness, and

begins to reflect on the immediate self-consciousness and its opera-

tions in their changing relation to the phenomena of the external

world. The mysteries of the world without him and of the world

within him give man no rest, he must seek to solve them ; and

whenever he does that, he philosophizes, i.e. he strives after a know-

ledge of the nature of things, and of the laws which govern them

in the world of phenomena and of events; on which account also

Josephus, referring to Solomon's knowledge of nature, says (Ant.

viii. 2. 5), ou]demi<an tou<twn fu<sin h]gno<hsen ou]de> parh?lqen a]nece<-

taston a]ll ] e]n ta<saij e]filoso<fhsen. Cf. Irenaeus, Cont, Her. iv.

27. 1: eam quae est in conditione (kti<sei) sapientiarn Dei exponebat


            The historical books show us how much the age of Solomon

favoured philosophical inquiries by its prosperity and peace, its

active and manifold commercial intercourse with foreign nations,

its circle of vision extending to Tarshish and Ophir, and also how

Solomon himself attained to an unequalled elevation in the extent

(of his human and secular knowledge. We also read of some of the

wise men in 1 Kings v. 11, cf. Ps. lxxxviii. lxxxix., who adorned

the court of the wisest of kings; and the lwAmA, which became,

through his influence, a special branch of Jewish literature, is

the peculiar poetic form of the hmAk;HA. Therefore in the Book of

Proverbs we find the name MymikAHE yreb;Di (words of the wise) used

for MyliwAm; (proverbs); and by a careful consideration of all the

proverbs in which mention is made of the MymikAHE one will convince


Sicut enim arenae maris universas orbis oras circumdant, ita et sapientia ejus

omnia humana non minus quam divina complexa est. In aphorismis vero illis

praeter alia magis theologica reperies liquido haud pauca praecepta et monita

civilia praestantissima, ex profundis quidem sapientiae penetralibus scaturientia

atque in amplissimum varietatis campum excurrentia." Accordingly, in the

same work Bacon calls the Proverbs of Solomon "insignes parabolas s. apho-

rismos de divina atque morali philosophia."

                                   INTRODUCTION.                                      39


himself that this name has not merely a common ethical sense, but

begins to be the name of those who made wisdom, i.e. the know-

ledge of things in the depths of their essence, their special lifework,

and who connected themselves together in oneness of sentiment and

fellowship into a particular circle within the community. To this

conclusion we are conducted by such proverbs as xiii. 20—

                        He that walketh with wise men becomes wise,

                        And whoever has intercourse with fools is destroyed;

xv. 12¾

                        The scorner loveth not that one reprove him:

                        To wise men he goeth not;¾

and by the contrast, which prevails in the Book of Proverbs,

between Cle (mocker) the MkAHA (wise), in which we see that, at

the same time with the striving after wisdom, scepticism also,

which we call free thought, obtained a great ascendency in Israel.

Mockery of religion, rejection of God in principle and practice,

a casting away of all fear of Jahve, and in general of all deisidai-

moni<a, were in Israel phenomena which had already marked the

times of David. One may see from the Psalms that the com-

munity of the Davidic era is to be by no means regarded as furnish-

ing a pattern of religious life:  that there were in it MyiOG (Gentile

nations) which were in no way externally inferior to them, and that

it did not want for rejecters of God. But it is natural to expect

that in the Solomonic era, which was more than any other exposed

to the dangers of sensuality and worldliness, and of religious indif-

ference and free-thinking latitudinarianism, the number of the

Mycile increased, and that scepticism and mockery became more in-

tensified. The Solomonic era appears to have first coined the

name of Cle for those men who despised that which was holy,

and in doing so laid claim to wisdom (xiv. 6), who caused conten-

tion and bitterness when they spake, and carefully avoided the

society of the nan, because they thought themselves above their

admonitions (xv. 12). For in the psalms of the Davidic time the

word lbAnA is commonly used for them (it occurs in the Proverbs

only in xvii. 21, with the general meaning of low fellow, Germ.

Bube), and the name Cle, is never met with except once, in Ps. i. 1,

which belongs to the post-Davidic era. One of the Solomonic pro-

verbs (xxi. 24) furnishes a definite idea of this newly formed word:

                        An inflated arrogant man they call a scorner (Cle),

                        One who acts in the superfluity of haughtiness.

40                  THE BOOK OF PROVERBS.


By the self-sufficiency of his ungodly thoughts and actions he

is distinguished from the ytiP, (simple), who is only misled, and

may therefore be reclaimed, xix. 25, xxi. 11; by his non-recog-

nition of the Holy in opposition to a better knowledge and better

means and opportunities, he is distinguished from the lysiK; (fool-

ish, stupid) xvii. 16, the lyvix< (foolish, wicked), i. 7, vii. 22, and

the ble rsaHE (the void of understanding), vi. 32, who despise truth

and instruction from want of understanding, narrowness, and

forgetfulness of God, but not from perverse principle. This

name specially coined, the definition of it given (cf. also the

similarly defining proverb xxiv. 8), and in general the rich and

fine technical proverbs in relation to the manifold kinds of wisdom

(hnAyBi, xvi. 16; rsaUm, i. 8; tOnUbT;, xxi. 30; tOm.zim;, v. 2; tOlUBH;Ta, i. 5,

xii. 5; the hy.AwiUT first coined by the Chokma, etc.), of instruction

in wisdom (Hqal,, i. 5; hrAOT, iv. 2, vi. 23; hfArA, to tend a flock, to

instruct, x. 21;  j`noHE, xxii. 6; HakeOh, xv. 12; tOwpAn; HqalA, to win souls,

vi. 25, xi. 30), of the wise men themselves (MkAHA, xii. 15; NObnA, x. 13;

HaykIOm, a reprover, preacher of repentance, xxv. 12, etc.), and of the

different classes of men (among whom also yraHExa MdAxA, one who steps

backwards [retrogrades], xxviii. 23)—all this shows that hmAk;HA was

at that time not merely the designation of an ethical quality, but

also the designation of a science rooted in the fear of God to which

many noble men in Israel then addicted themselves. Jeremiah

places (xviii. 18) the MkAHA along with the NheKo (priest) and xybinA  

(prophet); and if Ezek. (vii. 26) uses NqezA (old man) instead of

MkAHA, yet by reference to Job xii. 12 this may be understood. In

his "Dissertation on the popular and intellectual freedom of Israel

from the time of the great prophets to the first destruction of

Jerusalem" (Jahrbücher, i. 96 f.), Ewald says, "One can scarcely

sufficiently conceive how high the attainment was which was reached

in the pursuit after wisdom (philosophy) in the first centuries after

David, and one too much overlooks the mighty influence it exerted

on the entire development of the national life of Israel. The more

closely those centuries are inquired into, the more are we astonished

at the vast power which wisdom so early exerted on all sides as the

common object of pursuit of many men among the people. It first

openly manifested itself in special circles of the people, while in the

age after Solomon, which was peculiarly favourable to it, eagerly

inquisitive scholars gathered around individual masters, until ever

increasing schools were formed. But its influence gradually pene-


                                    INTRODUCTION.                                      41


trated all the other pursuits of the people, and operated on the most

diverse departments of authorship." We are in entire sympathy

with this historical view first advanced by Ewald, although we must

frequently oppose the carrying of it out in details. The literature

and the national history of Israel are certainly not understood if one

does not take into consideration, along with the hxAUbn; (prophecy), the

influential development of the hmAk;HA as a special aim and subject of

intellectual activity in Israel.

            And how was this Chokma conditioned—to what was it directed?

To denote its condition and aim in one word, it was universalistic,

or humanistic. Emanating from the fear or the religion of Jahve

('h j`r,D,, the way of the Lord, x. 29), but seeking to comprehend

the spirit in the letter, the essence in the forms of the national life,

its effort was directed towards the general truth affecting mankind

as such. While prophecy, which is recognised by the Chokma as a

spiritual power indispensable to a healthful development of a people

(MfA fraPAyi NOzHA NyxeB;, xxix. 18), is of service to the historical process into

which divine truth enters to work out its results in Israel, and from

thence outward among mankind, the Chokma seeks to look into the

very essence of this truth through the robe of its historical and

national manifestation, and then to comprehend those general ideas

in which could already be discovered the fitness of the religion of

Jahve for becoming the world-religion. From this aim towards the

ideal in the historical, towards the everlasting same amid changes,

the human (I intentionally use this word) in the Israelitish, the

universal religion in the Jahve-religion (Jahvetum), and the uni-

versal morality in the Law, all the peculiarities of the Book of

Proverbs are explained, as well as of the long, broad stream of the

literature of the Chokma, beginning with Solomon, which, when the

Palestinian Judaism assumed the rugged, exclusive, proud national

character of Pharisaism, developed itself in Alexandrinism. Ber-

theau is amazed that in the Proverbs there are no warnings given

against the worship of idols, which from the time of the kings

gained more and more prevalence among the Israelitish people.

"How is it to be explained," he asks (Spr. p. xlii.), "if the

proverbs, in part at least, originated during the centuries of conflict

between idolatry and the religion of Jahve, and if they were col-

lected at a time in which this conflict reached its climax and stirred

all ranks of the people—this conflict against the immorality of the

Phoenician-Babylonian religion of nature which must often have


42                       THE BOOK OF PROVERBS.


led into the same region of the moral contemplation of the world

over which this book moves?!"  The explanation lies in this, that

the Chokma took its stand-point in a height and depth in which it

had the mingling waves of international life and culture under it

and above it, without being internally moved thereby. It naturally

did not approve of heathenism, it rather looked upon the fear of

Jahve as the beginning of wisdom, and the seeking after Jahve as

implying the possession of all knowledge (xxviii. 5, cf. 1 John ii. 20);

but it passed over the struggle of prophecy against heathendom, it

confined itself to its own function, viz. to raise the treasures of gene-

ral religious-moral truth in the Jahve-religion, and to use them for

the ennobling of the Israelites as men. In vain do we look for the

name lxerAW;yi in the Proverbs, even the name hrAOT has a much more

flexible idea attached to it than that of the law written at Sinai

(cf. xxviii. 4, xxix. 18 with xxviii. 7, xiii. 14, and similar passages);

prayer and good works are placed above sacrifice, xv. 8, xxi. 3, 27,

—practical obedience to the teaching of wisdom above all, xxviii. 9.

The Proverbs refer with special interest to Gen. i. and ii., the

beginnings of the world and of the human race before nations took

their origin. On this primitive record in the book of Genesis, to

speak only of the hmolow; ylew;mi, the figure of the tree of life (perhaps

also of the fountain of life), found nowhere else in the Old Testa-

ment, leans; on it leans also the contrast, deeply pervading the

Proverbs, between life (immortality, xii. 28) and death, or between

that which is above and that which is beneath (xv. 24); on it also

many other expressions, such, e.g., as what is said in xx. 27 of the

"spirit of man."  This also, as Stier (Der Weise ein König, 1849,

p. 240) has observed, accounts for the fact that MdAxA occurs by far

most frequently in the Book of Job and in the Solomonic writings.

All these phenomena are explained from the general human

universal aim of the Chokma.

            When James (iii. 17) says that the "wisdom that is from above

is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of

mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy,"

his words most excellently designate the nature and the contents of

the discourse of wisdom in the Solomonic proverbs, and one is

almost inclined to think that the apostolic brother of the Lord,

when he delineates wisdom, has before his eyes the Book of the

Proverbs, which raises to purity by the most impressive admoni-

tions. Next to its admonitions to purity are those especially to

                                 INTRODUCTION.                                   43


peacefulness, to gentle resignation (xiv. 30), quietness of mind

(xiv. 33) and humility (xi. 2, xv. 33, xvi. 5, 18), to mercy (even

toward beasts, xii. 10), to firmness and sincerity of conviction, to

the furtherance of one's neighbour by means of wise discourse and

kind help. What is done in the Book of Deuteronomy with refer-

ence to the law is continued here. As in Deuteronomy, so here,

love is at the bottom of its admonitions, the love of God to men,

and the love of men to one another in their diverse relations (xii. 2,

xv. 9); the conception of hqAdAc; gives way to that of charity, of alms-

giving (dikaiosu<nh = e]lehmosu<nh). Forgiving, suffering love (x. 12),

love which does good even to enemies (xxv. 21 f.), rejoices not over

the misfortune that befalls an enemy (xxiv. 17 f.), retaliates not

(xxiv. 28 f.), but commits all to God (xx. 22),—love in its manifold

forms, as that of husband and wife, of children, of friends,—is here

recommended with New Testament distinctness and with deepest

feeling. Living in the fear of God (xxviii. 14), the Omniscient

(xv. 3, 11, xvi. 2, xxi. 2, xxiv. 11 f.), to whom as the final Cause

all is referred (xx. 12, 24, xiv. 31, xxii. 2), and whose universal

plan all must subserve (xvi. 4, xix. 21, xxi. 30), and on the other

side active pure love to man—these are the hinges on which all the

teachings of wisdom in the Proverbs turn. Frederick Schlegel, in

the fourteenth of his Lectures on the History of Literature, distin-

guishes, not without deep truth, between the historico-prophetic

books of the Old Testament, or books of the history of redemption,

and the Book of Job, the Psalms, and the Solomonic writings, as

books of aspiration, corresponding to the triple chord of faith, hope,

charity as the three stages of the inner spiritual life. The Book

of Job is designed to support faith amid trials; the Psalms breathe

forth and exhibit hope amid the conflicts of earth's longings; the

Solomonic writings reveal to us the mystery of the divine love, and

the Proverbs that wisdom which grows out of and is itself eternal

love. When Schlegel in the same lecture says that the books of the

Old Covenant, for the most part, stand under the signature of the

lion as the element of the power of will and spirited conflict glow-

ing in divine fire, but that in the inmost hidden kernel and heart

of the sacred book the Christian figure of the lamb rises up out

of the veil of this lion strength, this may specially be said of the

Book of Proverbs, for here that same heavenly wisdom preaches,

which, when manifested in person, spake in the Sermon on the

Mount, New Testament love in the midst of the Old Testament.

44                    THE BOOK OF PROVERBS.


            It is said that in the times before Christ there was a tendency to

apocryphize not only the Song of Solomon and Ecclesiastes, but

also the Book of Proverbs, and that for the first time the men of

the Great Synagogue established their canonicity on the ground of

their spiritual import; they became perplexed about the Proverbs,

according to b. Sabbath, 30b, on account of such self-contradictory

proverbs as xxvi. 4, 5, and according to Aboth de-Rabbi Nathan,

c. 1, on account of such secular portions as that of the wanton

woman, vii. But there is no need to allegorize this woman, and

that self-contradiction is easily explained. The theopneustic cha-

racter of the book and its claim to canonicity show themselves

from its integral relation to the Old Testament preparation for

redemption; but keeping out of view the book as a whole, it is

self-evident that the conception of a practical proverb such as

xiv. 4 and of a prophecy such as Isa. vii. 14 are very different

phenomena of the spiritual life, and that in general the operation of

the Divine Spirit in a proverb is different from that in a prophecy.

            We have hitherto noted the character of the instruction set

forth in the Proverbs according to the marks common to them in

all their parts, but in such a way that we have taken our proofs

only from the "Proverbs of Solomon" and the "Words of the

Wise," with the exclusion of the introductory proverbial poems of

the older editor. If we compare the two together, it cannot be

denied that in the type of the instruction contained in the latter,

the Chokma, of which the book is an emanation and which it has as

its aim (hmAk;HA tfadalA, i. 2), stands before us in proportionally much

more distinctly defined comprehension and form; we have the

same relation before us whose adumbration is the relation of the

instruction of wisdom in the Avesta and in the later Minochired

(Spiegel, Parsi-Grammatik, p. 182 ff.). The Chokma appears also

in the "Proverbs of Solomon" as a being existing in and for itself,

which is opposed to ambiguous subjective thought (xxviii. 26);

but here there is attributed to it an objectivity even to an apparent

personality:  it goes forth preaching, and places before all men life

and death for an eternally decisive choice, it distributes the spirit

to those who do not resist (i. 23), it receives and answers prayer

(i. 28). The speculation regarding the Chokma is here with

reference to Job xxviii. (cf. Prov. ii. 4, iii. 14 f., viii. 11, 19), and

particularly to xxviii. 27, where a demiurgic function is assigned

to wisdom, carried back to its source in eternity: it is the

                               INTRODUCTION.                                       45


medium by which the world was created, iii. 19; it was before

the creation of the world with God as from everlasting, His son of

royal dignity, viii. 22-26; it was with Him in His work of creation,

viii. 27-30; after the creation it remained as His delight, rejoicing

always before Him, and particularly on the earth among the sons

of men, viii. 30 f. Staudenmaier (Lehre von der Idee, p. 37) is

certainly not on the wrong course, when under this rejoicing of

wisdom before God he understands the development of the ideas

or life-thoughts intimately bound up in it—the world-idea. This

development is the delight of God, because it represents to the

divine contemplation the contents of wisdom, or of the world-idea

founded in the divine understanding, in all its activities and inner

harmonies; it is a calm delight, because the divine idea unites

with the fresh and ever young impulse of life, the purity, good-

ness, innocence, and holiness of life, because its spirit is light,

clear, simple, childlike, in itself peaceful, harmonious, and happy;

and this delight is experienced especially on the earth among the

sons of men, among whom wisdom has its delight; for, as the

divide idea, it is in all in so far as it is the inmost life-thought, the

soul of each being, but it is on the earth of men in whom it comes

to its self-conception, and self-conscious comes forth into the light

of the clear day. Staudenmaier has done the great service of

having worthily estimated the rich and deep fulness of this biblical

theologumenon of wisdom, and of having pointed out in it the

foundation-stone of a sacred metaphysics and a means of protection

against pantheism in all its forms. We see that in the time of the

editor of the older Book of Proverbs the wisdom of the schools in its

devotion to the chosen object of its pursuit, the divine wisdom living

and moving in all nature, and forming the background of all things,

rises to a height of speculation on which it has planted a banner

showing the right way to latest times. Ewald rightly points to the

statements in the introduction to the Proverbs regarding wisdom

as a distinct mark of the once great power of wisdom in Israel;

for they show us how this power learned to apprehend itself in

its own purest height, after it had become as perfect, and at the

same time also as self-conscious, as it could at all become in ancient


            Many other appearances also mark the advanced type of in-

struction contained in the introduction. Hitzig's view (Sprüche,

p. xvii. f.), that i. 6–ix. 18 are the part of the whole collection

46                   THE BOOK OF PROVERBS.


which was earliest written, confutes itself on all sides; on the con-

trary, the views of Bleek in his Introduction to the Old Testament,

thrown out in a sketchy manner and as if by a diviner, surprisingly

agree with our own results, which have been laboriously reached

and are here amply established. The advanced type of instruc-

tion in the introduction, i.—ix., appears among other things in this,

that we there find the allegory, which up to this place occurs in

Old Testament literature only in scattered little pictures built up

into independent poetic forms, particularly in ix., where without

any contradiction tUlysiK; tw,xe [a simple woman, v. 13] is an alle-

gorical person. The technical language of the Chokma has ex-

tended itself on many sides and been refined (we mention these

synonyms: hmAk;HA, tfaDa, hnAyBi, hmAr;fA, hm.Azim;, rsAUm, hy.AwiUT); and the seven

pillars in the house of wisdom, even though it be inadmissible to

think of them as the seven liberal arts, yet point to a division into

seven parts of which the poet was conscious to himself. The

common address, yniB; [my son], which is not the address of the

father to the son, but of the teacher to the scholar, countenances

the supposition that there were at that time MymikAHE yneB; i.e. scholars of

the wise men, just as there were "sons of the prophets" (Myxibin;),

and probably also schools of wisdom. "And when it is described

how wisdom spake aloud to the people in all the streets of Jeru-

salem, in the high places of the city and in every favourable place,

does not one feel that such sublime descriptions could not be

possible unless at that time wisdom were regarded by the people as

one of the first powers, and the wise men truly displayed a great

public activity?" We must answer this question of Ewald's in

the affirmative.

            Bruch, in his Weisheitslehre der Hebraer, 1851, was the first to

call special attention to the Chokma or humanism as a peculiar

intellectual tendency in Israel; but he is mistaken in placing

it in an indifferent and even hostile relation to the national law

and the national cultus, which he compares to the relation of

Christian philosophy to orthodox theology. Oehler, in his Grund-

züge der alttestamentl. Weisheit, which treats more especially of

the doctrinal teachings of the Book of Job, judges more correctly;

cf. also his comprehensive article, Pädagogik des A. T. in Schmid's

Pädagogischer Encyclopädie, pp. 653-695 (partic. 677-683).


            5. The Alexandrian Translation of the Book of Proverbs.—Of

                                  INTRODUCTION.                              47


highest interest for the history of the Book of Proverbs is the

relation of the LXX. to the Hebrew text. One half of the

proverbs of Agur (xxx. of the Hebrew text) are placed in it

after xxiv. 22, and the other half after xxiv. 34; and the proverbs

of King Lemuel (xxxi. 1-9 of the Hebrew text) are placed after

the proverbs of Agur, while the acrostic proverbial poem of the

virtuous woman is in its place at the end of the book. That

transposition reminds us of the transpositions in Jeremiah, and

rests in the one place as well as in the other on a misunderstand-

ing of the true contents. The translator has set aside the new

superscription, x. 1, as unsuitable, and has not marked the new

beginning, xxii. 17; he has expunged the new superscription,

xxiv. 23, and has done the same to the superscription, "The words

of Agur" (xxx. 1), in two awkward explanations (lo<gon fulas-

so<menoj and tou>j e]mou>j lo<gouj fobh<qhti), and the superscription,

"The words of Lemuel" (xxxi. 1), in one similar (oi[ e]moi> lo<gi

ei@rhntai u[po> Qeou?), so that the proverbs of Agur and of Lemuel

are without hesitation joined with those of Solomon, whereby it

yet remains a mystery why the proverbs beginning with "The

words of Agur" have been divided into two parts. Hitzig ex-

plains it from a confounding of the columns in which, two being

on each page, the Hebrew MS. which lay before the translator

was written, and in which the proverbs of Agur and of Lemuel

(names which tradition understood symbolically of Solomon) were

already ranked in order before ch. xxv. But besides these, there

are also many other singular things connected with this Greek

translation interesting in themselves and of great critical worth.

That it omits i. 16 may arise from this, that this verse was not

found in the original MS.) and was introduced from Isa. lix. 7; but

there are wanting also proverbs such as xxi. 5, for which no reason

can be assigned. But the additions are disproportionately more

numerous. Frequently we find a line added to the distich, such

as in i. 18, or an entire distich added, as iii. 15; or of two lines of the

Hebrew verse, each is formed into a separate distich, as i. 7, xi. 16;

or we meet with longer interpolations, extending far beyond

this measure, as that added to iv. 27. Many of these proverbs

are easily re-translated into the Hebrew, as that added to iv. 27,

consisting of four lines:

                        hvhy fdy Mynymym ykrd yk

           MylyxmWm ykrd Mywqfv

48                         THE BOOK OF PROVERBS.


                        jytvlgfm slpy xvh

           :Hylcy Mvlwb jytvHrx


But many of them also sound as if they had been originally

Greek; e.g. the lines appended to ix. 10, xiii. 15; the distich, vi.

11; the imperfect tristich, xxii. 14; and the formless trian, xxv.

10. The value of these enlargements is very diverse; not a few

of these proverbs are truly thoughtful, such as the addition to

xii. 13—

                        He who is of mild countenance findeth mercy;

                        He who is litigious crushes souls—

and singularly bold in imagery, as the addition to ix. 12¾

                        He who supports himself by lies hunts after (hfr) the wind,

                        He catches at fluttering birds;

                        For he forsakes the ways of his own vineyard,

                        And wanders away from the paths of his own field,

                        And roams through arid steppes and a thirsty land,

                        And gathers with his hand withered heath.

The Hebrew text lying before the Alexandrian translators had

certainly not all these additions, yet in many passages, such as

xi. 16, it is indeed a question whether it is not to be improved from

the LXX.; and in other passages, where, if one reads the Greek,

the Hebrew words naturally take their place, whether these are not

at least old Hebrew marginal notes and interpolations which the

translation preserves. But this version itself has had its gradual

historical development. The text, the koinh< (communis), proceeds

from the Hexaplar text edited by Origen, which received from him

many and diverse revisions; and in the times before Christ, perhaps

(as Hitz. supposes), down to the second century after Christ, the

translation itself, not being regarded as complete, was in the pro-

gress of growth, for not unfrequently two different translations of

one and the same proverb stand together, as xiv. 22, xxix. 25

(where also the Peshito follows the LXX. after which it translates),

or also interpenetrate one another, as xxii. 8, 9. These doubled

translations are of historical importance both in relation to the

text and to the interpretation of it. Along with the Books of

Samuel and Jeremiah, there is no book in regard to which the

LXX. can be of higher significance than the Book of Proverbs;

we shall seek in the course of our exposition duly to estimate the

text1 as adopted by Bertheau (1847) and Hitzig (1858) in their


            1 Cf. also J. Gottlob Jäger's Observationes in Proverbiorum Salomonis Ver-

sionem Alexandrinam, 1788; de Lagarde's Anmerkungen zur griech. Uebersetzung

                            INTRODUCTION.                                   49


commentaries, and by Ewald in his Jahrb. xi. (1861) and his

commentary (2d ed. 1867). The historical importance of the

Egyptian text-recension is heightened by this circumstance, that

the old Syrian translator of the Solomonic writings had before

him not only the original text, but also the LXX.; for the current

opinion, that the Peshito, as distinguished from the Syro-Hexaplar

version, sprang solely from the original text with the assistance of

the Targum, is more and more shown to be erroneous. In the Book

of Proverbs the relation of the Peshito and Targum is even the

reverse; the Targum of the Proverbs, making use of the Peshito,

restores the Masoretic text,—the points of contact with the LXX.

showing themselves here and there, are brought about 1 by the

Peshito. But that Jerome, in his translation of the Vulgate accord-

ing to the Hebraea veritas, sometimes follows the LXX. in opposi-

tion to the original text, is to be explained with Hitzig from the fact

that he based his work on an existing Latin translation made from

the LXX. Hence it comes that the two distichs added in the

LXX. to iv. 27 remain in his work, and that instead of the one

distich, xv. 6, we have two:—In abundanti (after the phrase broB;

instead of tyBe of the Masoretic text) justitia virtus maxima est,

cogitationes autem impiorum eradicabuntur. Domus (tyBe) justi

plurima fortitudo, et in fructibus impii conturbatio; for Jerome has

adopted the two translations of the LXX., correcting the second

according to the original text.2


der Proverbien, 1863 ; M. Heidenheim's Zur Textkritik der Proverbien, in his

Quarterly Journal for German and English Theological Criticism and Investi-

gation, No. VIII. (1865), and IX., XI. (1866). The text of the LXX. (cf.

Angelo Mai's Classici Auctores, t. ix.) used by Procopius in his  [Ermhnei<a ei]j ta>j

paroimi<aj is peculiar, and here and there comes near to the Hebrew original.

The scholion of Evagrius in the Sxo<lia ei]j ta>j paroimi<aj of Origen, edited by

Tischendorf in his Notitia, 1860, from a MSS. of Patmos, shows how soon even

the Hexaplar text became ambiguous.

            1 Cf. Dathe, De ratione consensus Versionis Syriac el Chaldaicae Proverbiorum

Salomonis (1764), edited by Rosenmüller in his Opuscula. Maybaum, in the

Treatise on the Language of the Targum to the Proverbs and its relation to the

Syriac, in Merx's Archiv, ii. 66-93, labours in vain to give the priority to that of

the Targum: the Targum is written from the Peshito, and here and there ap-

proaches the Hebrew text; the language is, with few differences, the Syriac of

the original.

            2 The Ethiopic translation, also, is in particular points, as well as on the

whole, dependent on the LXX., for it divides the Book of Proverbs into pro-

verbs (paroimi<aj), xxiv., and instructions (paidei?ai) of Solomon, xxv.—

xxxi. Vid. Dillmann in Ewald's Jahrb. v. 147, 150.

50                      THE BOOK OF PROVERBS.


            The fragments of the translations of Aquila, Symmachus, Theo-

dotion, etc., contained in Greek and Syrian sources, have been

recently collected, more perfectly than could have been done by

Montfaucon, by Fried. Field, in his work Origenis Hexaplorum quae

supersunt, etc. (Oxonii, 1867, 4). Of special interest is the more

recent translation of the original text, existing only in a MS. laid up

in the Library of St. Mark [at Venice], executed in bold language,

rich in rare and newly invented words, by an unknown author, and

belonging to an age which has not yet been determined (Graecus

Venetus): cf. d'Ansse de Villoison's nova versio Graeca Proverbio-

rum, Ecclesiastis, Cantici Canticorum, etc., Argentorati, 1784 ; and

also the Animadversiones thereto of Jo. Ge. Dallier, 1786.



            The literature of the interpretation of the Book of Proverbs is

found in Keil's Einleitung in das A. T. (1859), p. 346 f. [Manual

of Historico-Critical Introduction to the Old Testament, translated

by Professor Douglas, D.D., Free Church College, Glasgow.

Edinburgh:  T. & T. Clark. Vol. i. p. 468 f.]. The most important

of the older linguistic works on this book is the commentary of

Albert Schultens (Lugduni Batavorum, 1748, 4), whose service to

the cause of Semitic philology and O. T. exegesis Mühlau has

brought to remembrance in the Lutheran Zeitschrift, 1870, 1;

Vogel's abstract (Halae, 1769), prefaced by Semler, does not alto-

gether compensate for the original work. From the school of

Schultens, and also from that of Schröder, originate the Anmer-

kungen by Alb. Jac. Arnoldi, maternal grandson of Schultens, a

Latin edition of which was published (Lugduni Bat. 1783) by

Henr. Alb. Schultens, the grandson of Schultens by his son.

Among the commentaries of English interpreters, that in Latin

by Thomas Cartwright (Arnstelredami, 1663, 4), along with the

Exposition of the Book of Proverbs by Charles Bridges (4th ed.,

London, 1859), hold an honourable place. The Critical Remarks

on the Books of Job, Proverbs, etc., by D. Durell (Oxford, 1772, 4),

also merit attention. Of more recent commentaries, since Keil gave

his list of the literature of the subject, have been published those of

Elster (1858) and of Zöckler (1867), forming a part of the theo-

logico-homiletical Bibelwerk edited by J. P. Lange. Chaps. xxv.-

xxix. Rud. Stier has specially interpreted in two works entitled Der

                               INTRODUCTION.                                               51


Weise ein König [“The Wise Man a King”], and Salomonis Weisheit

in Hiskiastagen ["Solomon's Wisdom in the Days of Hezekiah"],

1849; and chapters xxx. xxxi. in a work entitled Die Politik der

Weisheit ["The Politics of Wisdom"], 1850. Part iii. (1865)

of the new exegetico-critical Aehrenlese ["Gleanings"] of Fried.

Böttcher, edited by Mühlau, furnishes 39 pages of remarks on

the Proverbs. Leop. Dukes, author of the Rabbinical Blumenlese

["Anthology "], 1844, and the Schrift zur rabbinischen Spruchkunde,

1851, has published (1841) a commentary to the Proverbs in

Cahen's French Bibelwerk. There also is furnished a list of Jewish

interpreters down to the appearance of L. H. Loewenstein's Com-

mentary (1838), which contains valuable contributions to the

critical confirmation of the Masoretic text, in which Heidenheim's

MS. remains, and also the Codex of 1294 mentioned in my preface

to Baer's edition of the Psalter, and in the Specimen Lectionum

of Baer's edition of Genesis, are made use of. Among Malbim's

best works are, after his Commentary on Isaiah, that on the

Mishle (Warsaw, 1867). [Vide Preface.)











               SUPERSCRIPTION AND MOTTO, I. 1-7.



THE external title, i.e. the Synagogue name, of the whole

collection of Proverbs is ylew;mi (Mishle), the word with

which it commences. Origen (Euseb. H. E. vi. 25)

uses the name Mislw<q, i.e. tOlwAm;, which occurs in the

Talmud and Midrash as the designation of the book, from its con-

tents. In a similar way, the names given to the Psalter, Myl.ihiT; and

tOl.hiT;, are interchanged.

            This external title is followed by one which the Book of Proverbs,

viewed as to its gradual formation, and first the older portion, gives

to itself. It reaches from i. 1 to ver. 6, and names not only the con-

tents and the author of the book, but also commends it in regard to the

service which it is capable of rendering. It contains "Proverbs of

Solomon, the son of David, king of Israel." The books of the M123

and hmkH, including the Canticles, thus give their own titles ; among

the historical books, that of the memoirs of Nehemiah is the only

one that does so.  ylew;mi has the accent Dechî, to separate1 it from

the following complex genitive which it governs, and lxerW;yi j`l,m, is

made the second hemistich, because it belongs to hmolow;, not to

dviD.2  As to the fundamental idea of the word lwAmA we refer to the

derivation given in the Gesch. der jud. Poesie, p. 196, from lwamA,

Aram. ltam;, root lt, Sanskr. tul (whence tulâ, balance, similarity),

Lat. tollere; the comparison of the Arab. mathal leads to the same


            1 Norzi has erroneously accented ylwm with the accent Munach. The m is

besides the Masoretic majusculum, like the b, w, and x at the commencement

of the Law, the Canticles, and Chronicles.

            2 If it had belonged to dvd, then the sentence would have been accented

thus:  lxrWy jlm dvd-Nb hmlw ylwm.



                                         CHAP. I. 2.                                            53


conclusion. "lwAmA signifies, not, as Schultens and others after him

affirm, effigies ad similitudinem alius rei expressa, from lwamA in the

primary signification premere, premente manu tractare; for the cor-

responding Arab. verb mathal does not at all bear that meaning,

but signifies to stand, to present oneself, hence to be like, properly

to put oneself forth as something, to represent it; and in the Hebr.

also to rule, properly with lfa to stand on or over something, with

to hold it erect, like Arab. kam with b, rem administravit [vid.

Jesaia, p. 691]. Thus e.g., Gen. xxiv. 2, it is said of Eliezer:

Ol-rw,xE-lkAB; lwem.ha who ruled over all that he (Abraham) had (Luther:

was a prince over all his goods). Thus lwAmA, figurative discourse

which represents that which is real, similitude; hence then parable

or shorter apothegm, proverb, in so far as they express primarily

something special, but which as a general symbol is then applied to

everything else of a like kind, and in so far stands figuratively. An

example is found in 1 Sam. x. 11 f. It is incorrect to conclude

from this meaning of the word that such memorial sayings or pro-

verbs usually contained comparisons, or were clothed in figurative

language; for that is the case in by far the fewest number of in-

stances: the oldest have by far the simplest and most special

interpretations" (Fleischer).  Hence Mashal, according to its

fundamental idea, is that which stands with something = makes 

something stand forth = representing. This something that repre-

sents may be a thing or a person; as e.g. one may say Job is a

Mashal, i.e. a representant, similitude, type of Israel (vide the work

entitled MyyHh Cf, by Ahron b. Elia, c. 90, p. 143); and, like Arab.

mathal (more commonly mithl =lw,me, cf. lw,m;, Job xli. 25), is used

quite as generally as is its etymological cogn. instar (instare). But

in Hebr. Mashal always denotes representing discourse with the

additional marks of the figurative and concise, e.g. the section which

presents (Hab. ii. 6) him to whom it refers as a warning example,

but particularly, as there defined, the gnome, the apothegm or maxim,

in so far as this represents general truths in sharply outlined little


            Ver. 2. Now follows the statement of the object which these

proverbs subserve; and first, in general,

            To become acquainted with wisdom and instruction,

            To understand intelligent discourses.

They seek on the one side to initiate the reader in wisdom and

instruction, and on the other to guide him to the understanding

54                    THE BOOK OF PROVERBS.


of intelligent discourses, for they themselves contain such discourses

in which there is a deep penetrating judgment, and they sharpen

the understanding of him who engages his attention with them.1

As Schultens has already rightly determined the fundamental

meaning of fdayA, frequently compared with the Sanskr. vid, to know

(whence by gunating,2 vêda, knowledge), after the Arab. wad'a, as

deponere, penes se condere, so he also rightly explains hmAk;HA by

soliditas; it means properly (from MkaHA, Arab. hiakm, R. hik, vide

under Ps. x. 8, to be firm, closed) compactness, and then, like

pukno<thj, ability, worldly wisdom, prudence, and in the higher

general sense, the knowledge of things in the essence of their

being and in the reality of their existence. Along with wisdom

stands the moral rsAUm, properly discipline, i.e. moral instruction, and

in conformity with this, self-government, self-guidance, from rsayA=

rsavA, cogn. rsaxA, properly adstrictio or constrictio; for the m of the

noun signifies both id quod or aliquid quod (o!, ti) and quod in the

conjunctional sense (o!ti), and thus forms both a concrete (like

rseOm=rsaxA, fetter, chain) and an abstract idea. The first general

object of the Proverbs is tfaDa, the reception into oneself of wisdom

and moral edification by means of education and training; the

second is to comprehend utterances of intelligence, i.e. such as

proceed from intelligence and give expression to it (cf. tm,x< yrem;xi,

xxii. 21).  NyBi, Kal, to be distinguished (whence NyBe, between, constr.

of NyiBa, space between, interval), signifies in Hiph,. to distinguish,

to understand;  hnAyBi; is, according to the sense, the n. actionis

of this Hiph., and signifies the understanding as the capability

effective in the possession of the right criteria of distinguishing

between the true and the false, the good and the bad (1 Kings

iii. 9), the wholesome and the pernicious.

            Vers. 3-5. In the following, 2a is expanded in vers. 3-5, then

2b in ver. 6. First the immediate object:

                        3 To attain intelligent instruction,

                           Righteousness, and justice, and integrity;

                        4 To impart to the inexperienced prudence,

                           To the young man knowledge and discretion

                        5 Let the wise man hear and gain learning,

                           And the man of understanding take to himself rules of conduct.


            1 tfadalA is rightly pointed by Löwenstein with Dechî after Cod. 1294; vide the

rule by which the verse is divided, Torath Emeth, p. 51, § 12.

            2 [Guna = a rule in Sanskrit grammar regulating the modification of vowels.]

                                    CHAP. I. 3-5.                                           55


With tfaDa, denoting the reception into oneself, acquiring, is inter-

changed (cf. ii. 1) tHaqa, its synonym, used of intellectual reception

and appropriation, which, contemplated from the point of view of

the relation between the teacher and the learner, is the correla-

tive of tTe, paradido<nai, tradere (ix. 9). But lKeW;ha rsaUm is that

which proceeds from chokma and musar when they are blended

together: discipline of wisdom, discipline training to wisdom; i.e.

such morality and good conduct as rest not on external inheritance,

training, imitation, and custom, but is bound up with the intelli-

gent knowledge of the Why and the Wherefore.  lKeW;ha, as xxi. 16,

is inf. absol. used substantively (cf. Fqew;ha, keeping quiet, Isa. xxxii.

17) of lkaWA (whence lk,We intellectus), to entwine, involve; for the

thinking through a subject is represented as an interweaving,

complicating, configuring of the thoughts (the syllogism is in like

manner represented as lKow;x,, Aram. lOgs;, a bunch of grapes), (with

which also lkAsA, a fool, and lyKis;Hi, to act foolishly, are connected, from

the confusion of the thoughts, the entangling of the conceptions;

cf. Arab. 'akl, to understand, and lq.Afum;). The series of synonyms

(cf. xxiii. 23) following in 3b, which are not well fitted to be the

immediate object to tHaqalA, present themselves as the unfolding of

the contents of the lKeW;ha rsaUm, as meaning that namely which is

dutiful and right and honest. With the frequently occurring

two conceptions, FPAw;miU qd,c, (ii. 9), (or with the order reversed as

in Ps. cxix. 121) is interchanged hqAdAc;U FPAw;mi (or with the order

also reversed, xxi. 3). The remark of Heidenheim, that in qd,c, the

conception of the justum, and in hqAdAc; that of the aequum prevails,

is suggested by the circumstance that not qd,c, but hqAdAc; signifies

dikaiosu<nh (cf. x. 2) in the sense of liberality, and then of alms-

giving (e]lehmosu<nh); but qd,c, also frequently signifies a way of

thought and action which is regulated not by the letter of the law

and by talio, but by love (cf. Isa. xli. 2, xlii. 6). Tsedek and ts'dakah

have almost the relation to one another of integrity and justice

which practically brings the former into exercise. FPAw;mi (from

FpawA, to make straight, to adjust, cf. Fbw, Arab. sabitia, to be smooth)

is the right and the righteousness in which it realizes itself, here

subjectively considered, the right mind.1  MyriwAme (defect. for Myrwym,

from rwayA, to be straight, even) is plur. tantum; for its sing. rwAyme


            1 According to Malbim, Fpwm is the fixed objective right, qdc the righteous-

ness which does not at once decide according to the letter of the law, but always

according to the matter and the person.

56                    THE BOOK OF PROVERBS.


(after the form bFAyme) the form rOwymi (in the same ethical sense, e.g.

Mal. ii. 6) is used: it means thus a way of thought and of con-

duct that is straight, i.e. according to what is right, true, i.e.

without concealment, honest, i.e. true to duty and faithful to one's


            Ver. 4. This verse presents another aspect of the object to be

served by this book: it seeks to impart prudence to the simple.

The form MyixtAP;1 (in which, as in MyiOG, the y plur. remains unwritten)

is, in this mongrel form in which it is written (cf. vii. 7, viii. 5,

ix. 6, xiv. 18, xxvii. 12); made up of MyitAP; (i. 22, 32, once written

plene, MyyitAP;, xxii. 3) and MyxitAP; (vii. 7). These two forms with y

and the transition of y into x are interchanged in the plur. of

such nouns as ytiP;, segolate form, "from htAPA) (cogn. HtaPA), to be

open, properly the open-hearted, i.e. one whose heart stands open

to every influence from another, the harmless, good-natured,¾a

vox media among the Hebrews commonly (though not always, cf.

e.g. Ps. cxvi. 6) in malam partem: the foolish, silly, one who

allows himself to be easily persuaded or led astray, like similar

words in other languages — Lat. simplex, Gr. eu]h<qhj, Fr. naïv);

Arab. fatyn, always, however, in a good sense: a high and noble-

minded man, not made as yet mistrustful and depressed by sad

experiences, therefore juvenis ingenuus, vir animi generosi" (Fl.).

The MyxitAP;, not of firm and constant mind, have need of hmAr;fA;

therefore the saying xiv. 15, cf. viii. 5, xis. 25. The noun hmAr;fA

(a fem. segolate form like hmAk;HA) means here calliditas in a good

sense, while the corresponding Arab. 'aram (to be distinguished

from the verb 'aram, Mrf, to peel, to make bare, nudare) is used only

in a bad sense, of malevolent, deceptive conduct. In the parallel

member the word rfana) is used, generally (collectively) understood,

of the immaturity which must first obtain intellectual and moral

clearness and firmness; such an one is in need of peritia et sollertia,

as Fleischer well renders it; for tfaDa is experimental knowledge,

and hmA.zim; (from MmazA, according to its primary signification, to press

together, comprimere; then, referred to mental concentration: to

think) signifies in the sing., sensu bono, the capability of compre-

hending the right purposes, of seizing the right measures, of pro-

jecting the right plans.

            Ver. 5. In this verse the infinitives of the object pass into inde-


            1 Like MyixpAfI, Ps. civ. 12, MyixbAc;kiv;, 1 Cbron. xii. 8, cf. Michlol, 196a. In

vers. 22, 32, the mute x is wanting.

                                         CHAP. I. 6.                                    57


pendent sentences for the sake of variety. That fmaw;yi cannot

mean audiet, but audiat, is shown by ix. 9; but Js,yov; is jussive,

(with the tone thrown back before Hqal,; cf. x. 9, and xvi. 21, 23

where the tone is not thrown back, as also 2 Sam. xxiv. 3) with

the consecutive Vav (v) (= Arab.   , f): let him hear, thus will

he . . . or, in order that he. Whoever is wise is invited to

hear these proverbs in order to add learning (doctrinam) to that

which he already possesses, according to the principle derived from

experience, ix. 9, Matt. xiii. 12. The segolate Hqal,, which in pausa

retains its ¾,  (as also HFaB,, fway,, Hmac,, j`l,m,, qd,c,, Md,q,, and others),

means reception, and concretely what one takes into himself with

his ear and mind; therefore learning (didaxh> with the object of

the a]podoxh<), as Deut. xxxii. 2 (parallel hrAm;xi, as iv. 2 hrAOT), and

then learning that has passed into the possession of the receivers

knowledge, science (Isa. xxix. 24, parall. hnAyBi).  Schultens com-

pares the Arab. lakiah, used of the fructification of the female

palm by the flower-dust of the male. The part. NObnA (the fin. of

which is found only once, Isa. x. 13) is the passive or the re-

flexive of the Hiph. Nybihe, to explain, to make to understand: one

who is caused to understand or who lets himself be informed, and

thus an intelligent person—that is one who may gain tOlBuH;Ta by

means of these proverbs. This word, found only in the plur.

(probably connected with lbeHo, shipmaster, properly one who has

to do with the ship's ropes, particularly handles the sails,

LXX.  kube<rnhsin, signifies guidance, management, skill to direct

anything (Job xxxii. 7, of God's skill which directs the clouds),

and in the plur. conception, the taking measures, designs, in a good

sense, or also (as in xii. 5) in a bad sense; here it means guiding

thoughts, regulating principles, judicious rules and maxims, as xi.

14, prudent rules of government, xx. 18, xxiv. 6 of stratagems. Fl.

compares the Arab. tedbîr (guidance, from rbaDA, to lead cattle), with

its plur. tedâbîr, and the Syr. dubôro, direction, management, etc.

            Ver. 6. The mediate object of these proverbs, as stated in ver. 2b,

is now expanded, for again it is introduced in the infinitive con-

struction:—The reader shall learn in these proverbs, or by means

of them as of a key, to understand such like apothegms generally

(as xxii. 17 ff.)

                        To understand proverb and symbol,

                        The words of wise men and their enigmas.

58                 THE BOOK OF PROVERBS.


In the Gesch. der jüd. Poesie, p. 200 f., the derivation of the noun

hcAylim; is traced from CUl primarily to shine, Sanskr. las, frequently

with the meanings ludere and lucere; but the Arab. brings near

another primary meaning. “Cylm from Arab. root las, flexit, torsit,

thus properly oratio detorta, obliqua, non aperta; hence Cle, mocker,

properly qui verbis obliquis utitur: as Hiph. Cylihe, to scoff, but also

verba detorta retorquere, i.e. to interpret, to explain" (Fl.). Of the

root ideas found in hdAyHi, to be sharp, pointed (rha, perhaps related

to the Sanskr. katu, sharp of taste, but not to acutus), and to

be twisted (cf. dHaxA, dgaxA, dqafA, harmonizing with the at present

mysterious catena), the preference is given to the latter already,

Ps. lxxviii. 2.  "The Arab. hâd, to revolve, to turn (whence hid,

bend, turn aside!), thence hdAyHi, strofh<, cunning, intrigue, as also

enigma, dark saying, perplexe dictum" (Fl.) The comparison made

by Schultens with the Arab. hidt as the name of the knot on the

horn of the wild-goat shows the sensible fundamental conception.

In post-biblical literature hdyH is the enigma proper, and hcAylim;

poetry (with hcAlAhE of poetical prose). The Graec. Venet. translates

it r[htorei<an.

            Ver. 7. The title of the book is followed by its motto, symbol,


                        The fear of Jahve is the beginning of knowledge;

                        Wisdom and discipline is despised by fools.


The first hemistich expresses the highest principle of the Israelitish

Chokma, as it is found also in ix. 10 (cf. xv. 33), Job xxviii. 28, and

in Ps. cxi. 10 (whence the LXX. has interpolated here two lines).

tywixre combines in itself, as a]rxh<, the ideas of initium (accordingly

J. H. Michaelis:  initium cognitionis, a quo quisquis recte philoso-

phari cupit auspicium facere debet) and principium, i.e. the basis,

thus the root (cf. Mic. i. 13 with Job xix. 28).1 Wisdom comes

from God, and whoever fears Him receives it (cf. Jas. i. 5 f.).

hOAhy; txar;yi is reverential subordination to the All-directing and

since designedly hvhy is used, and not Myhilox<(hA), to the One God,

the Creator and Governor of the world, who gave His law unto

Israel, and also beyond Israel left not His holy will unattested;

the reverse side of the fear of Jahve as the Most Holy One is

frA txnoW;, viii. 13 (post-biblical xF;He txar;yi). The inverted placing


            1 In Sirach i. 14, 16, the Syr. has both times xtmkH wyr; but in the

second instance, where the Greek translation has plhsmonh> sofi<aj, hmAk;HA fbaW

(after Ps. xvi. 11) may have existed in the original text.

                                CHAP. I. 8, 9.                                         59


of the words 7b imports that the wisdom and discipline which

one obtains in the way of the fear of God is only despised by the

Myliyvix<, i.e. the hard, thick, stupid; see regarding the root-word

lvx, coalescere, cohaerere, incrassari, der Prophet Jesaia, p. 424, and

at Ps. lxxiii. 4. Schultens rightly compares paxei?j, crassi pro

stupidis.1  UzBA has the tone on the penult., and thus comes from

zUB; the 3d pr., of hzABA would be UzBA or UyzABA.  The perf. (cf. ver. 29)

is to be interpreted after the Lat. oderunt (Ges. § 126).









            Vers. 8, 9. After the author has indicated the object which his

Book of Proverbs is designed to subserve, and the fundamental

principle on which it is based, he shows for whom he has intended

it; he has particularly the rising generation in his eye:

                        8 Hear, my son, thy father's instruction,

                           And refuse not the teaching of thy mother;

                        9 For these are a fair crown to thy head,

                           And jewels to thy neck.


"My son," says the teacher of wisdom to the scholar whom he has,

or imagines that he has, before him, addressing him as a fatherly

friend. The N. T. representation of birth into a new spiritual life,

1 Cor. iv. 15, Philem. 10, Gal. iv. 19, lies outside the circle of

the O. T. representation; the teacher feels himself as a father

by virtue of his benevolent, guardian, tender love. Father and

mother are the beloved parents of those who are addressed. When

the Talmud understands j~ybixA of God, j~m,.xi of the people (hmA.xu),

that is not the grammatico-historic meaning, but the practical

interpretation and exposition, after the manner of the Midrash.

The same admonition (with rcon;, keep, instead of fmaw;, hear, and

tvac;mi, command, instead of rsaUm, instruction) is repeated in vi.

20, and what is said of the parents in one passage is in x. 1

divided into two synonymous parallel passages. The stricter


            1 Malbim's explanation is singular: the sceptics, from ylaUx, perhaps! This

also is Heidenheim's view.


60                       THE BOOK OF PROVERBS.


musar, which expresses the idea of sensible means of instruction

(discipline), 24, xxii. 15, xxiii. 13 f.), is suitably attributed to

the father, and the torah to the mother, only administered by the

word; Wisdom also always says ytirAOT (my torah), and only once,

viii. 10, yrisAUm (my musar).

            Ver. 9. Mhe, which is also used in the neut. illa, e.g. Job xxii.

24, refers here to the paternal discipline and the maternal teaching.

These, obediently received and followed, are the fairest ornament

of the child.    hyAv;li from hvAlA, to wind, to roll, Arab. lawy (from

whence also lUl = vlav;la, as dUD, to boil up,= vDav;Da), means winding,

twisted ornament, and especially wreath; a crown of gracefulness

is equivalent to a graceful crown, a corolla gratiosa, as Schultens

translates it; cf. iv. 9, according to which, Wisdom bestows such a

crown.1  MyqinAfE (or tOqnAfE, Judg. viii. 26) are necklaces, jewels for

the neck; denom. of the Arab. 'unek, and Aram. qnAUf, the neck

(perhaps from qnafA= qUf, to oppress, of heavy burdens; cf. au]xh<n,

the neck). tOrg;r;ga is, like fauces, the throat by which one swallows

(Arab. g' arg' ara, tag' arg' ara), a plur. extensive (Böttcher, § 695),

and is better fitted than NOrGA to indicate the external throat;

Ezekiel, however, uses (xvi. 11) garon, as our poet (iii. 3, 22,

vi. 21) uses garg'roth, to represent the front neck.2

            Ver. 10. The general counsel of ver. 9 is here followed by a

more special warning:

                        My son, if sinners entice thee

                        Consent thou not.

The yniB;3 (my son) is emphatically repeated. The intensive form

MyxiF.AHa signifies men to whom sin has become a habit, thus vicious,

wicked.  hTAPi (Pi. of htAPA, to open) is not denom., to make or wish

to make a ytiP;; the meaning, to entice (harmonizing with pei<qein),

hTAPi obtains from the root-meaning of the Kal, for it is related to

it as pandere (januam) to patere: to open, to make accessible,

susceptible, namely to persuasion. The warning 10b is as brief

as possible a call of alarm back from the abyss. In the form xbeTo

(from hbAXA, to agree to, to be willing, see Wetstein on Job, p. 349)


            1 In NHe tyvl, the NH has the conjunctive accent shalsheleth, on account of

which the Pesiq accent (‘) is omitted. This small shalsheleth occurs only eight

times. See Torath Emeth, p. 36.

            2 The writing varies greatly. Here and at vi. 21 we have j~t,roG;r;Gal;; at iii. 3,

j~t,OrG;r;Ga-lfa; iii. 22, j~yt,roG;r;gal;. Thus according to the Masora and correct texts.

            3 The accent Pazer over the yniB; has has the force of Athnach.

                                  CHAP. I. 11-14.                                       61


the preformative x is wanting, as in Urm;To, 2 Sam. xix. 14, cf. Ps.

cxxxix. 20, Ges. § 68, 2, and instead of hb,To (=hb,xTo, 1 Kings xx. 8) is

vocalized not xb,To (cf. xi. 25), but after the Aram. xbeTo (cf. yleg;yi); see

Gen. xxvi. 29, and Comment. on Isaiah, p. 648; Gesen. § 75, 17.

            Vers. 11-14. Of the number of wicked men who gain associ-

ates to their palliation and strengthening, they are adduced as an

example whom covetousness leads to murder.

                        11 If they say, "Go with us, we will lurk for blood,

                            Lie in wait for the innocent without cause ;

                        12 Like the pit we will swallow them alive

                            And in perfect soundness like them that go down to the grave.

                        13 We find all manner of precious treasure,

                             Fill our houses with spoil.

                        14 Thou shalt cast thy lot amongst us,

                            We all have only one purse."


            Ver. 11. The verb braxA signifies nectere, to bind fast (from

bra, close, compact), (see under Isa. xxv. 11), and particularly (but

so that it bears in itself its object without ellipse) insidias nectere =

insidiari. Regarding MdAl; Fleischer remarks:  "Either elliptically

for MDA-j`pAw;li (Jewish interp.), or, as the parallelism and the usage of

the language of this book rather recommend, per synecd. for: for a

a  man, with particular reference to his blood to be poured out (cf. our

saying 'ein junges Blut,' a young blood= a youth, with the under-

lying conception of the blood giving colour to the body as shining

through it, or giving to it life and strength), as Ps. xciv. 21." As

in post-biblical Heb. MdAvA rWABA (or inverted, ai[ma kai> sa<rc, Heb. ii.

14), used of men as such, is not so used in the O. T., yet MDA, like

wp,n,, is sometimes used synecdochically for the person, but never

with reference to the blood as an essentially constituent part of

corporealness, but always with reference to violent putting to death,

which separates the blood from the body (cf. my System der bib.

Psychologie, p. 242). Here  MdAl; is explained by MymidAl;, with which it

is interchanged, Mic. vii. 2: let us lurk for blood (to be poured out).

The verb NpacA is never, like NmaFA (to conceal), connected with MylibAHE,

Mywiq;Om, HPa, tw,r,—thus none of these words is here to be supplied; the

idea of gaining over one expressed in the organic root Jc whence

hPAcA, diducendo obducere) has passed over into that of restraining

oneself, watching, lurking, hence Npc (cog. Aram. NmaK;) in the sense

of speculari, insidiari, interchanges with hpc (to spy), (cf. Ps.

x. 8, lvi, 7 with xxxvii. 32). The adv. Mn.AHi (an old accus. from

62                      THE BOOK OF PROVERBS.


NHe) properly means in a gracious manner, as a free gift (dwrea<n,

gratis = gratiis), and accordingly, without reward, also without

cause, which frequently = without guilt; but it never signifies sine

effectu qui noceat, i.e. with impunity (Löwenst.). We have thus

either to connect together Mn.AHi yqenA, “innocent in vain” (as Mn.AHi ybay;xo,

my enemies without a cause, Lam. iii. 52): his innocence helps

him nothing whom God protects not against us notwithstanding

his innocence (Schultens, Bertheau, Elster, and others); or connect

MnH with the verb (lie in wait for), for which Hitzig, after the

LXX., Syr., Rashi,1 Ralbag, Immanuel, rightly decides in view

of 1 Sam. xix. 5, xxv. 31; cf. also Job ix. 17, where the succession

of the accents is the same (Tarcha transmuted from Mugrash).

Frequently there are combined together in this MnH (cf. Isa. xxviii.

14 f.), that which the author thinks, and that which those whom

he introduces as speaking think.

            Ver. 12. The first clause of this verse Hitzig translates: "as

the pit (swallows) that which lives." This is untenable, because

K; with the force of a substantive (as instar, likeness) is regarded

as a preposition, but not a conjunction (see at Ps. xxxviii. 14 f.).  

Myyi.Ha (the living) is connected with MfelAb;ni, and is the accus. of the

state (         , according to the terminology of the Arab. gram-

marians) in which they will, with impunity, swallow them up like

the pit (the insatiable, xxvii. 20, xxx. 16), namely, while these

their sacrifices are in the state of life's freshness,2 "the living,"

—without doubt, like Ps. lv. 16, lxiii. 10, cxxiv. 3, in fact and in

expression an allusion to the fate of the company of Korah, Num.

xvi. 30, 33. If this is the meaning of MyyH, then MymiymiT; as the

parallel word means integros not in an ethical sense, in which it

would be a synonym of yqn of ver. 11b (cf. xxix. 10 with Ps. xix. 14),

but in a physical sense (Graec. Venet. kai> telei<ouj; Parchon as Rashi,

Mymlewv Myxyrb,  vid. Böttcher, De Inferis, § 293). This physical

sense is claimed for MTo, Job xxi. 23, for MTa probably, Ps. lxxiii. 4,

and why should not Mymt, used in the law regarding sacrifices (e.g.

Ex. xii. 5, "without blemish") of the faultlessness of the victim,


            1 [Rashi, i.e. Rabbi Salomo Isaaki, of Troyes, died A.D. 1105. Ralbag, i.e.

Rabbi Levi ben Gershon, usually referred to by Christian writers as Master Leo

de Bannolis, or Gersonides, a native of Banolas near Gerona, died about 1342.]

            2 Only in this sense is the existing accentuation of this verse (cf. the Targ.)

to be justified.

                                     CHAP. I. 11-14.                                       63


also signify such an one Mtom; OB-Nyxe rw,xE (Isa. i. 6)? In the midst

of complete external health they will devour them like those that

go down to the grave (cf. Ps. xxviii. 1, lxxxviii. 5, with Isa.

xiv. 19), i.e. like those under whose feet the earth is suddenly

opened, so that, without leaving any trace behind, they sink into

the grave and into Hades. The connection of the finite with the

accus. of place, Ps. Iv. 16, lies at the foundation of the genitive

connection rOb yder;Oy (with the tone thrown back): those that go

down to the grave.

            Vers. 13, 14,1 To their invitation, bearing in itself its own con-

demnation, they add as a lure the splendid self-enriching treasures

which in equal and just fellowship with them they may have the

prospect of sharing. NOh (from NUh, levem, then facilem esse, être

aisé, à son aise) means aisance, convenience, opulence, and con-

cretely that by which life is made agreeable, thus money and

possessions (Fleischer in Levy's Chald. Wörterbuch, i. 423 f.). With

this NvH with remarkable frequency in the Mishle rqAyA (from rqayA

Arab. wakar, grave esse) is connected in direct contrast, according

to its primary signification; cf. xii. 27, xxiv. 4: heavy treasures

which make life light. Yet it must not be maintained that, as

Schultens has remarked, this oxymoron is intended, nor also that

it is only consciously present in the language. xcAmA has here its

primitive appropriate signification of attaining, as Isa. x. 14 of

reaching.  llAwA (from llaWA to draw from, draw out, from lw,

cf. hlAwA, JlawA, Arab. salab, Comm. on Isa. p. 447) is that which is

drawn away from the enemy, exuviae, and then the booty and

spoil taken in war generally.;, to fill with anything, make

full, governs a double accusative, as the Kal (to become full of

anything) governs only one. In ver. 14, the invitation shows

how the prospect is to be realized. Interpreters have difficulty

in conceiving what is here meant. Do not a share by lot and a

common purse exclude one another? Will they truly, in the dis-

tribution of the booty by lot, have equal portions at length, equally

much in their money-bags? Or is it meant that, apart from the

portion of the booty which falls to every one by lot, they have a

common purse which, when their business is ebbing, must supply

the wants of the company, and on which the new companion can

maintain hirhself beforehand? Or does it mean only that they will


            1 Here, in ver. 14,  jlrvg is to be written with Munach (not Metheg) in the

second syllable; vid. Torath Emeth, p. 20. Accentuationssystem, vii. § 2.

64                  THE BOOK OF PROVERBS.


be as mutually helpful to one another, according to the principle

ta> tw?n fi<lwn koina< (amicorum omnia communia), as if they had

only one purse? The meaning is perfectly simple. The one-

ness of the purse consists in this, that the booty which each of

them gets, belongs not wholly or chiefly to him, but  to the whole

together and is disposed of by lot; so that, as far as possible, he

who participated not at all in the affair in obtaining it, may yet

draw the greatest prize. This view harmonizes the relation between

14b and 14a. The common Semitic syKi is even used at the present

day in Syria and elsewhere as the name of the Exchange ("Böre")

(plur. akjâs); here it is the purse ("Kasse") (xrhma<twn doxei?on,

Procop.), which is made up of the profits of the business. This

profit consists not merely in gold, but is here thought of in regard

to its worth in gold. The apparent contradiction between distri-

buting by lot and having a common purse disappears when the

distribution by lot of the common property is so made, that the

retaining of a stock-capital, or reserve fund, is not excluded.

            Ver. 15. After the men are described against whose enticements

a warning is given forth, the warning is emphatically repeated, and

is confirmed by a threefold, reason:

                        My son! go not in the way with them.

                        Keep back thy foot from their path.

If j`r,d,B; (in the way), taken alone, cannot be equivalent to dHAx, jrdb

(in one way), so is MTAxi (with them) to be regarded as its determi-

nation.1  Foot (not feet), as eye, hand, etc., is used where the

members come less under consideration than what they unitedly

bring about (iv. 26 f.).  hbAytin;, from btanA, signifies properly that

which is raised, especially the (raised) footstep.

            Ver. 16. The first argument to enforce the warning:

                        For their feet run to the evil,

                        And hasten to shed blood.

That this is their object they make no secret (ver. 11 ff.); but

why is it that such an object as this should furnish no ground of

warning against them, especially as on this beginning the stamp

of that which is morally blamable is here impressed with fralA?


            1 The Arab. grammarians regard this as half determination, and call it

takhsys; that MTAxi has with them the force of a virtually co-ordinated attri-

butive; while, according to the Arab. gram., it is also possible that j`r,d,B;, "in

one way," is equivalent to on the common way, for in the indetermination

sometimes there lies the conception not merely of âhad, but of weahad.

                                       CHAP. I. 17.                                        65


Besides, this circular movement of the thoughts is quite after the

manner of this poet; and that ver. 16 is in his style, vi. 18 shows.

The want of this distich (16b = Rom. iii. 15) in LXX. B. x.

weighs heavier certainly than the presence of it in LXX. A.

(Procop., Syro-Hexap.), since the translation is not independent,

but is transferred from Isa. lix. 7; but if for the first time, at a

later period, it is supplied in the LXX., yet it has the appearance

of an addition made to the Hebr. text from Isa. lix. 7 (Hitzig,

Lagarde); cf. Comm. on Isaiah, xl.-lxvi. j`Pow;li is always pointed

thus; for, as a regular rule, after l as well as the aspiration

disappears; but in Ezek. xvii. 17 j`Pow;Bi is also found, and in this

case (cf. at Ps. xl. 15) the punctuation is thus inconsequent.

            Ver. 17. The second argument in support of the warning.

                        For in vain is the net spread out

                        In the eyes of all (the winged) birds.

The interpretation conspersum est rete, namely, with corn as a

bait, which was put into circulation by Rashi, is inadmissible; for

as little as hz.Ahi (Hiph. of hzAnA) can mean to strew, can hrAze mean to

spread. The object is always that which is scattered (gestreut), not

that which is spread (bestreut). Thus, expansum est rete, but not

from rzamA, extendere, from which hrAOzm;1 in this form cannot be de-

rived (it would in that case be hrAUzm;), but from rrAzo, pass. of hrAze, to

scatter, spread out. The alluring net, when it is shaken out and

spread, is, as it were, scattered, ventilatur. But if this is done

incautiously before the eyes of the birds to be caught, they forth-

with fly away. The principal stress lies on the yneyfeB; (before the

eyes) as the reason of the Mn.AHi (in vain), according to the saying of

Ovid, Quae nimis apparent retia, vitat avis. The applicatio simili-

tudinis lying near, according to J. H. Michaelis, is missed even by

himself and by most others. If the poet wished to say that they

carried on their work of blood with such open boldness, that he

must be more than a simpleton who would allow himself to be

caught by them, that would be an unsuitable ground of warning;

for would there not be equally great need for warning against

fellowship with them, if they had begun their enticement with

more cunning, and reckoned on greater success? Hitzig, Ewald,

Zöckler, and others, therefore interpret MnH, not in the sense of


            1 The MS. Masora remarks rsHv tyl, and hence hrAzom; is written defectively

in the Erfurt, 1, 3, Frankf. 1294, in the edition of Norzi and elsewhere.

66                   THE BOOK OF PROVERBS.


in vain, inasmuch as they do not let themselves be caught; but: in

vain, for they see not the net, but only the scattered corn. But

according to the preceding, tw,rAhA (the net) leads us to think only

either of the net of the malicious designs, or the net of the alluring

deceptions. Thus, as Ziegler has noticed, the warned ought to

make application of the similitude to himself: Go not with them,

for their intention is bad; go not with them, for if the bird flees

away from the net which is spread out before it, thou wilt not

surely be so blind as suffer thyself to be ensnared by their gross

enticements. JnAKA lfaBa: the furnished with the wing (wings in

Eccles. x. 20); lfaBa forms the idea of property (lord).

            Ver. 18. The causal conj. yKi (for) in vers. 16 and 17 are

co-ordinated; and there now follows, introduced by the conj. v

("and"), a third reason for the warning:

                        And they lie in wait for their own blood,

                        They lay snares for their own lives.

The warning of ver. 16 is founded on the immorality of the con-

duct of the enticer; that of 17 on the audaciousness of the seduc-

tion as such, and now on the self-destruction which the robber and

murderer bring upon themselves: they wish to murder others, but,

as the result shows, they only murder themselves. The expression

is shaped after ver. 11, as if it were: They lay snares, as they

themselves say, for the blood of others; but it is in reality for

their own blood: they certainly lie in wait, as they say; but not, as

they add, for the innocent, but for their own lives (Fl.). Instead

of MdAdAl;, there might be used Mh,ymed;li, after Mic. vii. 2; but MwAP;nal;

would signify ipsis (post-biblical, MmAc;fal;), while MtAwop;nal; leaves un-

obliterated the idea of the life: animis ipsorum; for if the O. T.

language seeks to express ipse in any other way than by the per-

sonal pronoun spoken emphatically, this is done by the addition of

wp,n, (Isa. liii. 11).  Mhev; was on this account necessary, because ver.

17 has another subject (cf. Ps. lxiii. 10).

            Ver. 19. An epiphonema:

                        Such is the lot of all who indulge in covetousness;

                        It takes away the life of its owner.

This language is formed after Job viii. 13. Here, as there, in

the word tOhr;xA, the ideas of action and issue, manner of life and

its result, are all combined.  fcaB, signifies properly that which is

cut off, a piece, fragment broken off, then that which one breaks

off and takes to himself—booty, gain, particularly unjust gain

                                        CHAP. I. 20.                                       67


(xxviii. 16). fcaB, faceBo is he who is greedy or covetous. The subject

to Hq.Ayi is fcaB,, covetousness, pleoneci<a (see Isa. lvii. 17). As Hosea,

iv. 11, says of three other things that they take away ble, the

understanding (nou?j), so here we are taught regarding unjust gain

or covetousness, that it takes away wp,n,, the life (yuxh<) (wp,n, HqalA,

to take away the life, 1 Kings xix. 10, Ps. xxxi. 14). vylAfAB; denotes

not the possessor of unjust gain, but as an inward conception, like

Jxa lfb, xxii, 24, cf. xxiii. 2, xxiv. 8, Eccles. x. 11, him of whom

covetousness is the property. The sing. wp,n, does not show that

vylAfAB; is thought of as sing.; cf. xxii. 23, Ps. xxxiv. 23; but

according to iii. 27, xvi. 22, Eccles. viii. 8, this is nevertheless

probable, although the usage without the suffix is always fcaB, lfaBa,

and not ylefEBa (of plur. intens. MylifAB;).







            After the teacher of wisdom has warned his disciples against the

allurements of self-destroying sin, whose beastly demoniacal nature

culminates in murder and robbery, he introduces Wisdom herself

saying how by enticing promises and deterring threatenings she

calls the simple and the perverse to repentance. Wisdom is here

personified, i.e. represented as a person. But this personification

presupposes, that to the poet wisdom is more than a property and

quality of human subjectivity: she is to him as a divine power,

existing independently, to submit to which is the happiness of men,

and to reject which is their destruction. And also to the public

appearance of wisdom, as it is here represented, there must be

present objective reality, without which the power of conviction

departs from the figure. The author must think on historical and

biographical facts, on human organs (as 2 Chron. xvii. 7-9, cf.

Wisd. vii. 27), through which, without words and in words, Wisdom

delivers such addresses. But the figure cannot be so historical that

it sustains only the relation to a definite time, and not to all time;

it is a call to repentance, going forth to all time and to all places,

which, divest of all the accidents of its externality, he here refers

to its invisible divine background, when he begins in these words:

68               THE BOOK OF PROVERBS.


            20 Wisdom cries, sounding loudly in the streets,

                 She causes her voice to be heard in the chief streets.

            21 Over the places of greatest tumult she calleth;

                 In the porches of the gates, in the city, she speaketh forth her words.

            Ver. 20. Looking to its form and vocalization, tOmk;HA may be an

Aramaizing abstract formation (Gesen.; Ew. 165, c; Olsh. 219, b);

for although the forms tOHxA and tOlG; are of a different origin, yet

in tOBri and tOlleOh such abstract formations lie before us. The ter-

mination üth is here, by the passing over of the u into the less

obscure but more intensive o (cf. Ohy; in the beginning and middle

of the word, and OhyA Uhy;, at the end of the word), raised to ôth, and

thereby is brought near to the fem. plur. (cf. tOmk;Ha, xiv. 1, sapientia,

as our plur. of the neut. sapiens, hmAkAHE), approaching to the abstract.

On the other hand, that tOmk;HA is sing. of abstract signification, is not

decisively denoted by its being joined to the plur. of the predicate

(for hn.AroTA here, as at viii. 3, is scarcely plur.; and if tOmxrA, xxiv.

7, is plur., tOmk;HA as the numerical plur. may refer to the different

sciences or departments of knowledge); but perhaps by this, that it

interchanges with tOnUbT;, Ps. xlix. 4, cf. Prov. xi. 12, xxviii. 16,

and that an abstract formation from hmAk;HA (fem. of Mk,Ho, MkoHE),

which besides is not concrete, was unnecessary. Still less is tOmk;HA)

= tmAk;HA a singular, which has it in view to change hmAk;HA into a

proper name, for proof of which Hitzig refers to tOmOhT;, Ps. lxxviii.

15; the singular ending ôth without an abstract signification does

not exist. After that Dietrich, in his Abhandl. 1846, has shown

that the origin of the plur. proceeds not from separate calculation,

but from comprehension,1 and that particularly also names denoting

intellectual strength are frequently plur., which multiply the con-

ception not externally but internally, there is no longer any

justifiable doubt that tOmk;HA signifies the all-comprehending, abso-

lute, or, as Böttcher, § 689, expresses it, the full personal wisdom.

Since such intensive plurals are sometimes united with the plur. of

the predicate, as e.g. the monotheistically interpreted Elohim, Gen.

xxxv. 7 (see 1. c.), so hn.AroTA, may be plur. On the other hand, the

idea that it is a forma mixta of NroTA (from NnarA) and hn,r;Ti (Job

xxxix. 23) or hn.,raT;, the final sound in ah opposes. It may, how-

ever, be the emphatic form of the 3d fem. sing. of NnarA; for, that the


            1 In the Indo-Germanic languages the s of the plur. also probably proceeds

from the prep. sa (sam) = sun See Schleicher, Compend. der vergl. Gram.

§ 247.

                                         CHAP. I. 21, 22.                                          69


Hebr. has such an emphatic form, corresponding to the Arab. taktu-

banna, is shown by these three examples (keeping out of view the

suspicion of a corruption of the text, Olsh. p. 452), Judg. v. 26,

Job xvii. Isa. xxviii. 3; cf. hnAH;law;Ti, Obad. 13 (see Caspari, i.e.),

an example of the 2d masc. sing. of this formation.  NnarA (with hnArA)

is a word initative of sound (Schallwort), used to denote "a clear-

sounding, shrill voice (thence the Arab. rannan, of a speaker who

has a clear, piercing voice); then the clear shrill sound of a string

or chord of a bow, or the clear tinkle of the arrow in the quiver,

and of the metal that has been struck" (Fl.). The meaning

of tObHor; covered by plateae (Luke xiv. 21), wide places; and

which elsewhere may mean that which is without, before the

gates of the city and courts, here means the "open air," in contra-

distinction to the inside of the houses.

            Ver. 21. tOy.miho (plur. of ymiOh, the ground-form of hm,Oh, from ymahA

= hmAhA), "they who are making noise;" for the epithet is poetically

used (Isa. xxii. 2) as a substantive, crowded noisy streets or places.

wxro is the, place from which on several sides streets go forth: cf.

ras el-ain, the place where the well breaks forth; ras en-nahr, the

place from which the stream divides itself; the sing. is meant dis-

tributively as little as at viii. 2.  HtaP,, if distinguished from rfawa

(which also signifies cleft, breach), is the opening of the gate, the

entrance by the gate. Four times the poet says that Wisdom goes

forth preaching, and four times that she preaches publicly; the ryfiBA

used in five places implies that Wisdom preaches not in the field,

before the few who there are met with, but in the city, which is full

of people.

            Ver. 22. The poet has now reached that part of his introduction

where he Makes use of the very words uttered by Wisdom:

                        How long, ye simple, will ye love simplicity,

                        And scorners delight in scorning,

                        And fools hate knowledge

Three classes of men are here addressed; the MyitAP; the simple, who,

being accessible to seduction, are only too susceptible of evil; the Mycile,

mockers, i.e. free-thinkers (from CUl, Arab. lus, flectere, torquere, pro-

perly qui verbis obliquis utitur); and the MyliysiK;, fools, i.e. the men-

tally imbecile and stupid (from lsaKA Arab. kasal, to be thick, coarse,

indolent). The address to these passes immediately over into a de-

claration regarding them; cf. the same enallage, i. 27 f.  ytamA-dfa has

the accent Mahpach, on account of the Pasek following; vid. Torath

70                       THE BOOK OF PROVERBS.


Emeth, p. 26. Intentionally, Wisdom addresses only the Mytp, to

whom she expects to find soonest access. Between the futt., which

express the continuing love and hatred, stands the perf. Udm;HA, which

expresses that in which the mockers found pleasure, that which was

the object of their love.  Mh,lA is the so-called dat. ethicus, which re-

flexively refers to that which is said to be the will and pleasure of

the subject; as we say, "I am fond of this and that." The form

UbhExeT;, Abulwalîd, Parchon, and Kimchi regard as Piel; but

UbhExeT; instead of UbhExaT; would be a recompensation of the virtual

doubling, defacing the character of the Piel. Schultens regards it

as a defectively written Paiël (in Syr.), but it is not proved that

this conjugation exists in Hebr.; much rather UbhExeT; is the only

possible Kal form with NUbhAx<T, without the pause, regularly formed

from UbhEx<T, (vid. Ewald, § 193, a). The division by the accent

Mercha-Mahpach of the two words ytp vbhxt is equal in value to the

connecting of them by Makkeph; vid. Baer's Psalterium. p. x. In

codd., and also in correct texts, vbhxt is written with the accent

Galgal on the first syllable, as the servant of the Mercha-Mahpach.

The Gaja is incorrectly here and there placed under the T;.

            Ver. 23. To the call to thoughtfulness which lies in the complaint

“How long?” there follows the entreaty:

                        Turn ye at my reproof!

                        Behold! I would pour out my Spirit upon you,

                        I would make you to know my words.


23a is not a clause expressive of a wish, which with the particle

expressive of a wish, which is wanting, would be xnA-UbUwTA, or

according to xxiii. 1 and xxvii. 23 would be UbUwTA bOw.  The Nne.hi,

introducing the principal clause, stamps 23a as the. conditional

clause; the relation of the expressions is as Isa. xxvi. 10, Job xx.

24. UbUwTA1 is not equivalent to si convertamini, which would require

Unp;Ti, but to si revertamini; but yTiH;kaOtl;2 does not therefore mean

at my reproof, i.e. in consequence of it (Hitzig, after Num. xvi.

34), but it is a constructio praegnans: turning and placing yourselves

under my reproof. With tHkvt there is supposed an e@legxoj

(LXX., Symm.): bringing proof, conviction, punishment.  If


            1 In the Hagiographa everywhere written plene, with exception of Job

xvii. 10.

            2 The Metheg belongs to the t, under which it should be placed (and not to

the l), as the commencing sound of the second syllable before the tone-

syllable; cf. ver. 25.

                                        CHAP. I. 24-27.                                    71


they, leaving their hitherto accustomed way, permit themselves to

be warned against their wickedness, then would Wisdom cause her

words to flow forth to them, i.e. would without reserve disclose and

communicate to them her spirit, cause them to know (namely by

experience) her words.  fayBihi (from fbanA, R. bn; vid. Genesis, p. 635)

is a common figurative word, expressive of the free pouring forth

of thoughts and words, for the mouth is conceived of as a fountain

(cf. xviii. 4 with Matt. xii. 34), and the r[h?sij (vid. LXX.) as

r[eu?sij; only here it has the Spirit as object, but parallel with yrabAD;,

thus the Spirit as the active power of the words, which, if the

Spirit expresses Himself in them, are pneu?ma kai> zwh<, John vi. 63.

The addresses of Wisdom in the Book of Proverbs touch closely

upon the discourses of the Lord in the Logos-Gospel. Wisdom

appears here as the fountain of the words of salvation for men;

and these words of salvation are related to her, just as the lo<goi  

to the divine lo<goj expressing Himself therein.

            Vers. 24-27. The address of Wisdom now takes another course.

Between vers. 23 and 24 there is a pause, as between Isa. i. 20 and

21.  In vain Wisdom expects that her complaints and enticements

will be heard. Therefore she turns her call to repentance into a

discourse announcing judgment.

                        24 Because I have called, and ye refused;

                            Stretched out my hand, and no man regarded;

                        25 And ye have rejected all my counsel,

                            And to my reproof have not yielded:

                        26 Therefore will I also laugh at your calamity,

                            Will mock when your terror cometh;

                        27 When like a storm your terror cometh,

                            And your destruction sweeps on like a whirlwind;

                            When distress and anguish cometh upon you.


Commencing with Nfaya (which, like Nfama, from hnAfA, to oppose, denotes

the intention, but more the fundamental reason or the cause than, as

Nfamal;, the motive or object), the clause, connected with ynixE-MGa, ego vicis-

sim, turns to the conclusion. As here ytixrAqA Nfaya (as the word of Jahve)

are connected by ynixE-MGa to the expression of the talio in Isa. lxvi. 4,

so also Nxeme, with its contrast hbAxA, Isa. i. 19 f. The construction

quoniam vocavi et renuistis for quoniam quum vcearem renuistis

(cf. Isa. xii. I) is the common diffuse (zerstreute) Semitic, the para-

tactic instead of the periodizing style. The stretching out of the

hand is, like the "spreading out" in Isa. lxv. 2, significant of striving

to beckon to the wandering, and to bring them near. Regarding

72                   THE BOOK OF PROVERBS.


bywiq;hi, viz. Onz;xA, to make the ear stiff (R. wq), arrigere, incorrectly

explained by Schultens, after the Arab. kiashab, polire, by aurem

purgare, vid. Isaiah, p. 257, note.

            Ver. 25. fraPA is synonymous with wFanA, 1. 8; cf. iv. 15 UhferAP;, turn

from it. Gesenius has inaccurately interpreted the phrase wxr frp

of the shaving off of the hair, instead of the letting it fly loose. frp  

means to loosen ( =to lift up, syn. lHehe), to release, to set free; it

combines the meanings of loosening and making empty, or at liberty,

which is conveyed in Arab. by         ; and       .  The latter means

intrans., to be set free, therefore to be or to become free from

occupation or business; with         of an object, to be free from it,

i.e. to have accomplished it, to have done with it (Fl.). Thus:

since ye have dismissed (missum fecistis) all my counsel (hcAfe as hdAle,

from CfayA,        ), i.e. what I always would advise to set you right.

hbAxA combines in itself the meanings of consent, i. 10, and compli-

ance, i. 30 (with l;), and, as here, of acceptance. The principal

clause begins like an echo of Ps. ii. 4 (cf. Jer. xx. 7).

            Vers. 26, 27. qHaWA, as xxxi. 25 shows, is not to be understood

with B;;  B; is that of the state or time, not of the object. Regarding

dyxe, calamitas opprimens, obruens (from dUx=    , to burden, to

oppress), see at Ps. xxxi. 12. xbo, is related to as arriving to

approaching; Mk,D;H;pa is not that for which they are in terror,—for

those who are addressed are in the condition of carnal security,—but

that which, in the midst of this, will frighten and alarm them. The

Chethîb hvxw is pointed thus, hvAxEwa) (from vxawA=hxAwA, as hvAxEra, hvAfEza after

the form hbAhExa, hbAxEDa); the Kerî substitutes for this infinitive name

the usual particip. hx,wo (where then the Vav is ryty, "superfluous"),

crashing (fem. of hx,wo), then a crash and an overthrow with a

crash; regarding its root-meaning (to be waste, and then to sound

hollow), see under Ps. xxxv. 8. hpAUs (from JUs = hpAsA), sweeping

forth as a (see x. 25) whirlwind. The infinitive construction of

27a is continued in 27b in the finite.  "This syntactical and logical

attraction, by virtue of which a modus or tempos passes by v or by

the mere parallel arrangement (as ii. 2) from one to another,

attracted into the signification and nature of the latter, is peculiar

to the Hebr.  If there follows a new clause or section of a clause

where the discourse takes, as it were, a new departure, that attrac-

tion ceases, and the original form of expression is resumed; cf. i.

22, where after the accent Athnach the future is returned to, as here

                                  CHAP. I. 28-31.                                   73


27c the infinitive construction is restored" (FL). The allite-

rating words hqAUcv; hrAcA, cf. Isa. xxx. 6, Zeph. i. 15, are, related to

each other as narrowness and distress (Hitzig); the Mashal is fond

of , the stave-rhyme.1

            Vers. 28-31. Then—this sublime preacher in the streets con-

tinues—distress shall teach them to pray:

                        28 Then shall they call on me, and I will not answer;

                             They shall early seek after me, and not find me;

                        29 Because that they hated knowledge,

                             And did not choose the fear of Jahve.

                        30 They have not yielded to my counsel,

                             Despised all my reproof:

                        31 Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their way,

                             And satiate themselves with their own counsels.


In the full emphatic forms, ynin;xurAq;yi, they shall call on me, ynin;ruHEway;,

they shall seek me, and ynin;xucAm;yi, they shall find me, the suffix yni may

be joined to the old plur. ending ûn, (Gesenius, Olshausen, Böttcher);

but open forms like Uhn;k,rEbAy;, He will bless him, ynin;dAB;kay;, He will

honour me (from yni.daB;kay;;), and the like, rather favour the conclusion

that n is epenthetic (Ew. § 250, b).2 The address here takes the

form of declaration: Stultos nuns indignos censet ulteriori alloquio

(Mich.).  It is that laughter and scorn, ver. 26, which here sounds

forth from the address of the Judge regarding the incorrigible. rHewi

is denom. of rHawa, to go out and to seek with the morning twilight,

as also rq.eBi, Ps. xxvii. 5, perhaps to appear early, and usually (Arab.)

bakar (I. II. IV.), to rise early, to be zealous (Lane: "He hastened

to do or accomplish, or attain the thing needed").  Zöckler, with

HitZig, erroneously regards vers. 29, 30 as the antecedent to ver. 31.

With Ulk;xyiv; "and they shall eat," the futt. announcing judgment

are continued from ver. 28; cf. Deut. xxviii. 46-48. The conclusion

after yKi tHaTa, "therefore because," or as usually expressed (except


            1 Jul. Ley, in his work on the Metrical Forms of Hebrew Poetry, 1866, has

taken too little notice of these frequently occurring alliteration staves; Lagarde

communicated to me (8th Sept. 1846) his view of the stave-rhyme in the Book

of Proverbs, with the remark, " Only the Hebr. technical poetry is preserved to

us in the O. T. records; but in such traces as are found of the stave-rhyme, there

are seen the echoes of the poetry of the people; or notes passing over from it."

            2 In the Codd. ynin;xurAq;yi is written; in this case the Metheg indicates the tone

syllable: vid. Torath Emeth, p. 7 note, p. 21 note; and Accentssystem, ii. § 1, note.

In ynin;rouHEway; the Rebia is to be placed over the r. In the Silluk-word ynin;xucAm;yi it

appears undoubtedly that the form is to be spoken as Milel, i.e. with tone on

the penult.

74                      THE BOOK OF PROVERBS.


here and Deut. iv. 37, cf. Gen. iv. 25), rw,xE tHaTa (a]nq ] w$n), is other-

wise characterized, Deut. xxii. 29, 2 Chron. xxi. 12 ; and besides,

rwx tHt stands after (e.g. 1 Sam. xxvi. 21; 2 Kings xxii. 17; Jer.

xxix. 19) oftener than before the principal clause.  rHaBA combines

in itself the meanings of eligere and diligere (FI.). The construc-

tion of l; hbAxA (to be inclining towards) follows that of the analogous

l; fmawA (to hear). Each one eats of the fruit of his way¾good fruit

of good ways (Isa. iii. 10), and evil fruit of evil ways. " The Nmi,

31b, introduces the object from which, as a whole, that which one

eats, and with which he is satisfied, is taken as a part, or the object

from which, as from a fountain, satisfaction flows forth" (Fl.). In

correct texts, Ulk;xyov; has the accent Dechî, and at the same time

Munach as its servant. Regarding the laws of punctuation, accord-

ing to which Mh,ytecofEmo.miU (with Munach on the tone-syllable, Tarcha

on the antepenult, and Metheg before the Chateph-Pathach) is to be

written, see Baer's Torah Emeth, p. 11, Accentssystem, iv. § 4.

Norzi accents the word incorrectly with Rebia Magrash. With

the exception of Prov. xxii. 22, the pluralet1 tOcfeOm has always the

meaning of ungodly counsels.

            Vers. 32, 33. The discourse is now summarily brought to a close:

                        32 For the perverseness of the simple slays them,

                            And the security of fools destroys them.

                        33 But whoever hearkeneth to me dwells secure,

                            And is at rest from fear of evil.


Of the two interpretations of bUw, a turning towards (with lx, and

the like, conversion) or a turning away (with yreHExame or lfame, deser-

tion), in hbUwm; the latter (as in the post-Bib. hbAUwT;, repentance, the

former) is expressed; apostasy from wisdom and from God are con-

joined.  hvAl;wa is here carnalis securitas; but the word may also denote

the external and the internal peace of the righteous, as NnAxEwa, whence

NnAxEl;wa, Job xxi. 23, as a superlative is formed by the insertion of the l  

of vlewA, is taken in bonam et malam partem.  NnAxEwa is, according to

the Masora (also in Jer. xxx. 10, xlvi. 27, xlviii. 11), 3d perf. Pilel

(Ewald, § 120, a), from the unused NxawA, to be quiet: he has attained

to full quietness, and enjoys such. The construction with Nmi follows

the analogy of Nmi Haynihe (to give rest from), Nmi FqawA (to rest from), and

the like. The negative interpretation of Nmi, sine ullo pacore mali


            1 [A plur. denoting unity in the circumstances, and a similarity in the rela-

tions of time and space.]

                                              CHAP. II.                                              75


(Sehultens, Ewald), is unnecessary; also Job xxi. 9 may be ex-

plained by " peace from terror," especially since MOlwA is derived

froM the root lw, extrahere.  hfArA dHaPa, "fear of evil," one may per-

haps distinguish from fr dHp as the genitive of combination.







                                GOD AND TO VIRTUE.


            The admonition so far has almost wholly consisted of warning

and threatening. The teacher, directing back to the discipline of

the paternal home, warns against fellowship in the bloody deeds

of the covetous, which issue in self-murder; and Wisdom holds up

before her despisers the mirror of the punishment which awaits

them. Now the admonition becomes positive. The teacher de-

scribes separately the blessings of the endeavour after wisdom;

the endeavour after wisdom, which God rewards with the gift of

wisdom, leads to religious and moral knowledge, and this guards

men on the way of life from all evil. The teacher accordingly

interweaves conditions and promises:

                        1 My son, if thou receivest my words,

                           And keepest my commandments by thee;

                        2 So, thou inclinest thine ear unto wisdom,

                           Turnest thine heart to understanding;¾

                        3 Yea, if thou callest after knowledge,

                           To understanding directest thy voice;

                        4 If thou seekest her as silver,

                           And searchest for her as for treasures:

                        5 Then shalt thou understand the fear of Jahve,

                           And find the knowledge of God.

                        6 For Jahve giveth wisdom:

                           From His mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.

                        7  He preserves for the upright promotion;

                            A Shield for such as walk in innocence.

                        8 For He protects the paths of justice,

                           And guards the way of His saints.


The first Mxi, with that which it introduces, vers. 1, 2, is to be in-

terpreted as an exclamation, "O that!" (O si), and then as an

optative, as Ps. lxxxi, 9, exxxix. 19. zxA . . . yKi; vers. 3-5, with

76                  THE BOOK OF PROVERBS.


the inserted connecting clauses, would then be confirmatory, "for

then." But since this poet loves to unfold one and the same

thought in ever new forms, one has perhaps to begin the conditional

premisses with ver. 1, and to regard Mxi yKi as a new commence-

ment. Hitzig takes this Mx yk in the sense of imo: "much more

if thou goest to meet her, e.g. by curious inquiry, not merely per-

mittest her quietly to come to thee."  Mxi would then preserve its

conditional meaning; and yKi, as in Job xxxi. 18, Ps. cxxx. 4, since

it implies an intentional negative, would receive the meaning of

imo.  But the sentences ranged together with Mxi are too closely

related in meaning to admit such a negative between them.  yKi

will thus be confirmatory, not mediately, but immediately; it is the

“for = yes” of confirmation of the preceding conditions, and takes

them up again (Ewald, § 356 b, cf. 330 b) after the form of the

conditional clause was given up. The NpacA, which in i. 11, 18 is

the synonym of hpAcA, speculari, presents itself here, 1b, 7a, as the

synonym of NmaFA, whence MynimoF;ma, synon. of MyniUpc, recondita; the

group of sounds, Jc, Mc, MF (cf. also Jd, in Arab. dafan, whence

dafynat, treasure), express shades of the root representation of

pressing together. The inf. of the conclusion bywiq;hal;, to incline

(Gr. Venet. w[j a]kro&?to), is followed by the accus. of the object

j~n,z;xA, thine ear, for buwqj properly means to stiffen (not to purge,

as Schultens, nor to sharpen, as Gesenius thinks); cf. under Ps.

x. 17. With hmAk;HA are interchanged hnAybi, which properly means

that which is distinguished or separated, and hnAUbT;, which means

the distinguishing, separating, appellations of the capacity of dis-

tinguishing in definite cases and in general; but it does not repre-

sent this as a faculty of the soul, but as a divine power which

communicates itself as the gift of God (charisma).

            Vers. 3-8. Instead of Mxi yKi there is an old yrqt lxl (read not so,

but thus), Mxe yk (if thou callest understanding mother), which sup-

poses the phrase Mxi yk (LXX.) as traditional. If Mxe were intended

(according to which the Targ. in the Bibl. rabbinical but not in

Norzi's text, translates), then 3b would correspond; vid. vii. 4, cf.

Job xvii. 14. Thus: Yea, if thou callest for understanding, i.e.

callest her to thee (xviii. 6), invitest her to thee (ix. 15). The q of

wqeBi is, with the exception of the imper. (e.g. Uwq;.Ba), always with-

out the Dagesh.  Ver. 4b belongs to the ideas in the Book of Job

found in these introductory discourses, cf. Job iii. 21, as at ver.


            1 Regarding this formula, see Strack's Prolegomena, pp. 66-70.

                                    CHAP. IL 3-8.                                   77


14, Job iii. 22 (Ewald, Sprüche, p. 49).  WpaHA (WPeHi), scrutari,

poceeds, as spaHE shows, from the primary meaning of a ditch, and

is thus in its root-idea related to rpaHA (to dig, search out). In the

principal clause of ver. 5 the ‘h txar;yi, as Ps. xix. 10, is the fear of

Jahve as it ought to be, thus the reverence which is due to Him,

the worshipping of Him as revealed.  h and Myhilox< are inter-

changed as Mywidoq; and 'h at ix. 10. tfaDa is knowledge proceeding

from practice and experience, and thus not merely cognition

(Kenntnis), but knowledge (Erkenntnis). The thoughts revolve in

a circle only apparently. He who strives after wisdom earnestly

and really, reaches in this way fellowship with God; for just as He

gives wisdom it is nowhere else than with Him and it never comes

from any other source than from Him. It comes (ver. 6) vyPimi

(LXX. erroneously vynAPAmi), i.e. it is communicated through the

medium of His word, Job xxii. 22, or also (for lo<goj and pneu?ma

lie here undistinguished from one another) it is His breath (Book

of Wisdom vii. 25: a]tmi>j th?j tou? Qeou? duna<mewj kai> a]po<r]r[oia th?j

tou? pantokra<toroj do<chj ei]likrinh<j; the inspiration (tmwn) of the

Almighty (according to Job xxxii. 8) gives men understanding.

In ver. 7a, whether to NpacAv; (Chethib) or NPoc;yi (Kerî) is read, the mean-

ing is the same. The former is the expression of the completed

fact, as h[toi<masen, 1 Cor. ii. 9, and is rightly preferred by LXX.

an Syr., for one reluctantly misses the copula (since the thought

is new in comparison with ver. 6). Mrwyla should be written with

the accent Dechî.  The Chokma-word (besides in Proverbs and

Job, found only in Mic. vi. 9 and Isa. xxviii. 29) hy.AwiUT is a Hiphil

formation (with the passing over of ô into û, as in hgAUT) from hwAOh

(whence the pr. names hwAOy and hyAv;waOy) = (Arab.) wasy and âsy, to

re-establish, to advance, Hiph. of hwAyA=hwAvA, to stand, and thus means

furtherance, i.e. the power or the gift to further, and concretely

that which furthers and profits, particularly true wisdom and true

fortune.1 The derivation from wye (viii. 21) is to be rejected, because

“the formation would be wholly without analogy, so much the more

because the y this word does not represent the place of the v, as


            1 I was formerly in error in regarding the word as a Hophal formation, and

in assigning to it the primary signification of being in a state of realized

existence, of reality, in contradistinction to appearance only. The objection of

J. D. Michaelis, Supplem. p. 1167, Non placent in linguis ejusmodi etyma meta-

physica, etc., does not apply here, since the word is a new one coined by the

Chokma, but all the shades of meaning are naturally derived from the funda-

78                     THE BOOK OF PROVERBS.


is seen from the Arab.      and the Syr.         " (Fl.);1 and

the derivation of hwAvA = hvAwA, to be smooth (Hitzig), passes over

without any difficulty into another system of roots.  In the

passage under consideration (ver. 7), hy.AwiUT signifies advancement

in the sense of true prosperity. The parallel passage 7a clothes

itself in the form of an apposition: (He) a shield (NgemA, n. instr. of

to cover) for Mto ykel;ho, pilgrims of innocence (Fl.), i.e. such as

walk in the way (the object-accus., as vi. 12, for which in x. 9 B;)

of innocence.  MTo is whole, full submission, moral faultlessness,

which chooses God with the whole heart, seeks good without ex-

ception: a similar thought is found in Ps. lxxxiv. 12.  rcon;li, 8a, is

such an inf. of consequence as bywiq;hal; (ver. 2), and here, as there,

is continued in the finite. The "paths of justice" are understood

with reference to those who enter them and keep in them; parallel,

"the way of His saints" (dysiHA, he who cherishes ds,H,, earnest

inward love to God), for that is just hqAdAc;-Hraxo (xii. 28): they are

tOqdAc; yklh (Isa. xxxiii. 15). Instead of the Mugrash, the conjunc-

tive Tarcha is to be given to j`r,d,v;.

            Vers. 9-11. With the zxA repeated, the promises encouraging

to the endeavour after wisdom take a new departure:

                        9 Then shalt thou understand righteousness, and justice,

                            And uprightness; every way of good.

                        10 For wisdom will enter into thine heart,

                            And knowledge will do good to thy soul;

                        11 Discretion will keep watch over thee,

                             Understanding will keep thee.



mental signification "furtherance" (cf. Seneca, Deus stator stabilitorque est).

"hywOt, from Arab. âsy and wasy, to further by word and deed, to assist by

counsel and act, to render help, whence the meanings auxilium, salus, and

prudens consilium, sapientia, easily follow; cf. Ali's Arab. proverb,        

               ¾ ‘He furthers thee, who does not trouble himself about thee.'"

            1 The Arab.      (almost only in the negative           =          ), of the

same signification as wye, with which the Aram. tyxi (ytayxi) is associated, pre-

supposes an          ( =          ), to be founded, to found, and is rightly regarded

by the Arabs as an old segolate noun in which the verbal force was compre-


            2 The Arab.        and              are confounded in common usage (Wetstein,

Deutsch. Morgeul. Zeitschr. xxii. 19), but the roots wv and vw are different;

wv and wx, on the contrary, are modifications of one root.

                               CHAP. II. 9-11.                                         79


Regarding the ethical triad MyriwAyme [righteousness, rightness],

FPAw;mi [judgment], and qd,c, [rectitude], vid. i. 3. Seb. Schmid is

wrong in his rendering, et omnis via qua bonum aditur erit tibi

plana, which in comparison with Isa. xxvi. 7 would be feebly

expressed. J. H. Michaelis rightly interprets all these four con-

ceptions as object - accusatives; the fourth is the summarizing

asyndeton (cf. Ps. viii. 7) breaking off the enumeration: omnem

denique or1itam boni; Jerome, bonam: in this case, however, bOF

would be genitive (vid. xvii. 2).  lGAf;ma is the way in which the

chariot rolls along; in lgf there are united the root-conceptions

of that which is round (lg) and rolling (lg).  Whether yKi, ver. 10,

is the argumentative "because" (according to the versions and

most interpreters) or "for" ("denn," J. H. Michaelis, Ewald, and

others), is a question. That with yKi="for" the subject would

precede the verb, as at vers. 6, 21, and i. 32 (Hitzig), determines

nothing, as ver. 18 shows. On the one hand, the opinion that yKi=

"because " is opposed by the analogy of the yKi, ver. 6, following

zxA, ver. 5; the inequality between vers. 5-8 and ver. 9 ff. if the

new commencement, ver. 9, at once gives place to another, ver. 10;

the relationship of the subject ideas in vers. 10, 11, which makes

ver. 11 unsuitable to be a conclusion from ver. 10. On the contrary,

the promise not only of intellectual, but at the same time also of

practical, insight into the right and the good, according to their

whole compass and in their manifoldness, can be established or

explained quite well as we thus read vers. 10, 11: For wisdom will

enter (namely, to make it a dwelling-place, xiv. 33; cf. John xiv.

23) into thine heart, and knowledge will do good to thy soul

namely, by the enjoyment which arises from the possession of

knowledge, and the rest which its certainty yields). tfaDa, gnw?sij,

is elsewhere fem. (Ps. cxxxix. 6), but here, as at viii. 10, xiv. 6, in

the sense of to> gnw?nai, is masc. In ver. 11 the contents of the

Nybt zx (ver. 9) are further explained.  lfa rmawA, of watching (for Job

vi. 16 is to be interpreted differently), is used only by our poet

(here and at vi. 22).  Discretion, i.e. the capacity of well-con-

sidered action, will hold watch over thee, take thee under pro-

tection; understanding, i.e. the capacity in the case of opposing

rules to make the right choice, and in the matter of extremes

to choose the right medium, will be bestowed upon thee. In

hKAr,c;n;Ti, as in Ps. lxi. 8, cxl. 2, 5, Dent. xxxiii. 9, etc., the first

stem letter is not assimilated, in order that the word may have a

80                  THE BOOK OF PROVERBS.


fuller sound; the writing hKA¾,. for j~¾, is meant to affect the


            Vers. 12-15. As in vers. 10 11 the NybiTA zxA ("then shalt thou

understand," ver. 5) is expanded so now the watching, preserving,

is separately placed in view:

                        12 To deliver thee from an evil way,

                             From the man who speaks falsehood;

                        13 (From those) who forsake the ways of honesty

                             To walk in ways of darkness,

                        14 Who rejoice to accomplish evil,

                             Delight in malignant falsehood—

                        15 They are crooked in their paths,

                            And perverse in their ways.


That frA j~r,D, is not genitival, via mali, but adjectival, via mala, is

evident from bvF-xl jrd, xvi. 29. From the evil way, i.e. conduct,

stands opposed to the false words represented in the person of the

deceiver; from both kinds of contagium wisdom delivers. tOkPuh;Ta  

(like the similarly formed tOlBuh;Ta, occurring only as plur.) means

misrepresentations, viz. of the good and the true, and that for the

purpose of deceiving (xvii. 20), fallaciae, i.e. intrigues in conduct,

and lies and deceit in words. Fl. compares Arab. ifk, a lie, and

affak, a liar. j~l;yc,.hal; has Munach, the constant servant of Dechî,

instead of Metheg, according to rule (Accentssystem, vii. § 2). Mybiz;foha

(ver. 13) is connected with the collective wyxi (cf. Judg. ix. 55);

we have in the translation separated it into a relative clause with

the abstract present. The vocalization of the article fluctuates,

yet the expression Mybzfha, like ver. 17 tbzfha, is the better estab-

lished (Michlol 53b); Mybiz;foha is one of the three words which retain

their Metheg, and yet add to it a Munach in the tone-syllable

(vid. the two others, Job xxii. 4, xxxix..26). To the "ways of

honesty" (Geradheit) (cf. the adj. expression, Jer. xxxi. 9), which

does not shun to come to the light, stand opposed the "ways of

darkness," the e@rga tou? sko<touj, Rom. xiii. 12, which designedly

conceal themselves from God (Isa. xxix. 15) and men (Job xxiv.

15, xxxviii. 13, 15).

            Ver. 14. In this verse the regimen of the Nmi, 12b, is to be

regarded as lost; the description now goes on independently.

Whoever does not shrink back from evil, but gives himself up to

deceit, who finally is at home in it as in his own proper life-element,


            1 For the right succession of the accents here, see Torath Emeth, p. 49, § 5;

Accentuationssystem, xviii. § 3.           

                                   CHAP. IL 16-19.                                           81


and rejoices, yea, delights in that which he ought to shun as some-

thing destructive and to be rejected. The neut. frA is frequently

an attributive genit., vi. 24, xv. 26, xxviii. 5; cf. bOF, xxiv. 25,

which here, since tOkPuh;ta are those who in themselves are bad, does

not separate, but heightens:  perversitates non simplices aut vulgares,

sed pessimae et ex omni parte vitioscae (J. H. Michaelis). With

rw,xE (oi!tinej), ver. 15, this part is brought to a conclusion.

Fleischer, Bertheau, and others interpret Mh,yteHor;xA, as the accus.

of the nearer definition, as skolio>j to>n nou?n, ta>j pra<ceij; but

should it be an accus., then would we expect, in this position of

the words, Uwq;.fi (Isa. lix. 8; Prov. x. 9, cf. ix. 15).  Mywiq.;fi is the

pred.; for Hraxo, like j`r,D,, admits of both genders. MyziOln;U carries in

it its subject Mhe;  zUl, like the Arab. l’d, l'dh, is a weaker form of

CUl, flectere, inclinare, intrans. recedere: they are turned aside,

inclined out of the way to the right and left in their walk (B;; as

xvii. 20).

            Vers. 16-19. With the resumption of  j~l;yci.hal;, the watchful pro-

tection which wisdom affords to its possessors is further specified

in these verses:

                        16 To save thee from the strange woman,

                             From the stranger who useth smooth words;

                        17 Who forsakes the companion of her youth,

                             And forgets the covenant of her God;

                        18 For she sinks down to death together with her house,

                             And to the shadow of Hades her paths¾

                        19 All they who go to her return not again,

                             And reach not the paths of life


The subject here continued is the fourfold wisdom named in vers.

10, 11.  rzA signifies alienus, which may also be equivalent to alius

populi, but of a much wider compass—him who does not belong to

a certain class (e.g. the non-priestly or the laity), the person or

thing not belonging to me, or also some other than I designate; on

the other hand, yrik;nA, peregrines, scarcely anywhere divests itself of

the essential mark of a strange foreign origin. While thus hrAzA hw.Axi

is the non-married wife, hy.Arik;nA designates her as non-Israelitish.

Prostitution was partly sanctioned in the cultus of the Midianites,

Syrians, and other nations neighbouring to Israel, and thus was

regarded as nothing less than customary. In Israel, on the contrary,

the law (Dent. xxiii. 18 f.) forbade it under a penalty, and therefore

it was chiefly practised by foreign women (xxiii. 27, and cf. the

82                  THE BOOK OF PROVERBS.


exception, Ruth ii. 10),1—an inveterate vice, which spread itself

particularly from the latter days of Solomon, along with general

ungodliness, and excusing itself under the polygamy sanctioned

by the law, brought ruin on the state. The Chokma contends

against this, and throughout presents monogamy as alone corre-

sponding to the institution and the idea of the relation. Desig-

nating marriage as the "covenant of God," it condemns not only

adulterous but generally promiscuous intercourse of the sexes,

because unhallowed and thus unjustifiable, and likewise arbitrary

divorce. Regarding the ancient ceremonies connected with the

celebration of marriage we are not specially informed; but from

(ver. 17, Mal. ii. 14 (Ewald, Bertheau, Hitzig, but not Köhler), it

appears that the celebration of marriage was a religious act, and

that they who were joined together in marriage called God to

witness and ratify the vows they took upon themselves. The perf.

in the attributive clause hqAyliH<h, hAyr,mAxE proceeds on the routine

acquired in cajoling and dissembling: who has smoothed her

words, i.e. learned to entice by flattering words (FL).

            Vers. 17-19. JUl.xa, as here used, has nothing to do with the

phylarch-name, similar in sound, which is a denom. of Jl,x,; but it

comes immediately from JlaxA, to accustom oneself to a person or

cause, to be familiar therewith (while the Aram. JlaxE, Jliy;, to learn,

Pa. to teach), and thus means, as the synon. of fare, the companion

or familiar associate (vid. Schultens). Parallels such as Jer. iii. 4

suggested to the old interpreters the allegorical explanation of the

adulteress as the personification of the apostasy or of heresy.

Ver. 18a the LXX. translate:  e@qeto ga>r para> t&? qna<t& to>n

oi#kon au]th?j: she (the dissolute wife) has placed her house beside

death (the abyss of death). This hHAwA [e@qeto] is perhaps the

original, for the text as it lies before us is doubtful, though, rightly

understood, admissible. The accentuation marks h.tAyBe; as the sub-

ject, but tyiBa is elsewhere always masc., and does not, like the rarer

Hraxo, ver. 15, admit in usage a double gender; also, if the fem.

usage were here introduced (Bertheau, Hitzig), then the predicate,

even though htyb were regarded as fem., might be, in conformity

with rule, Hwa, as e.g. Isa. ii. 17. hHAwA is, as in Ps. xliv. 26, 3d pr.

of HaUw, Arab. sâkh, to go down, to sink; the emendation hHAwA


            1 In Talmudic Heb. tymirAxE (Aramean) has this meaning for the Biblical


                                 CHAP. II. 20-22.                                       83


(Joseph Kimchi) does not recommend itself on this account, that

hHawA and HHawA mean, according to usage, to stoop or to bend down;

and to interpret (Ralbag, hlypwh) hHAwA transitively is inadmissible.

For that reason Aben Ezra interprets htyb as in apposition: to

death, to its house; but then the poet in that case should say lOxw;-lx,,

for death is not a house. On the other hand, we cannot perceive

in htyb an accus. of the nearer definition (J. H. Michaelis, FL);

the expression would here, as 15a, be refined without purpose.

Böttcher has recognised htyb as permutative, the personal subject:

for she sinks down to death, her house, i.e. she herself, together

with all that belongs to her; cf. the permutative of the subject,

Job xxix. 3, Isa. xxix. 23 (vid. comm. l.c.), and the more particular

statement of the object, Ex. ii. 6, etc. Regarding Myxipr;, shadows

of the under-world (from hpArA, synon. hlAHA, weakened, or to become

powerless), a word common to the Solomonic writings, vid. Com- 

ment. on Isaiah, p. 206. What ver. 18b says of the person of the

adulteress, ver. 19 says of those who live with her htyb her house-

companions. hAyx,BA "those entering in to her," is equivalent to

hAyl,xe MyxiBA; the participle of verbs eundi et veniendi takes the

accusative object of the finite as gen. in st. constr., as e.g. i. 12,

ii. 7, Gen. xxiii. 18, ix. 10 (cf. Jer. x. 20).  The NUbUwy, with the

tone on the ult., is a protestation: there is no return for those who

practise fornication,1 and they do not reach the paths of life from

which they have so widely strayed.2

            Vers. 20-22. With Nfamal; there commences a new section, co-ordi-

nating itself with the j~l;yc.ihal; ("to deliver thee") of vers. 12, 16,

unfolding that which wisdom accomplishes as a preserver and guide:

                        20 So that thou walkest in the good way,

                            And keepest the right paths.

                        21 For the upright shall inhabit the land,

                             And the innocent shall remain in it.

                        22 But the godless are cut off out of the land,

                             And the faithless are rooted out of it.


            1 One is here reminded of the expression in the AEneid, vi. 127-129:

                        Revocare gradunz superasque evadere ad auras,

                        Hoc opes, hoc labor est.

See also an impure but dreadful Talmudic story about a dissolute Rabbi,

b. Aboda zara, 17a.

            2 In correct texts vgywy-xlv has the Makkeph. Vid. Torath Emeth, p. 41;

Accentuationssystem, xx. § 2.

84                    THE BOOK OF PROVERBS.


Wisdom—thus the connection—will keep thee, so that thou shalt

not fall under the seductions of man or of woman; keep, in order

that thou . . . Nfamal; (from Nfama = hn,fEma, tendency, purpose) refers to

the intention and object of the protecting wisdom. To the two

negative designations of design there follows, as the third and last,

a positive one.  MybiOF (contrast to MyfirA, xiv. 19) is here used in a

general ethical sense: the good (Guten, not Gütigen, the kind).

rmawA, with the object of the way, may in another connection also

mean to keep oneself from, cavere ab (Ps. xvii. 4); here it means:

carefully to keep in it. The promise of ver. 21 is the same as in

the Mashal Ps. xxxvii. 9, 11, 22; cf. Prov. x. 30.  Cr,xA is Canaan,

or the land which God promised to the patriarchs, and in which He

planted Israel, whom He had brought out of Egypt; not the earth,

as Matt. v. 5, according to the extended, unlimited N. T. circle of

vision.  Urt;UAyi (Milel) is erroneously explained by. Schultens:  funi-

eulis bene firmis irroborabunt in terra. The verb rtayA, Arab. watar,

signifies to yoke (whence rt,y,, a cord, rope), then intrans. to be

stretched out in length, to be hanging over (vid. Fleischer on Job

xxx. 11); whence rt,y,, residue, Zeph. ii. 9, and after which the

LXX. here renders u[poleifqh<sontai, and Jerome permanebunt.

In 22b the old translators render UHs.;yi as the fut. of the pass. Hs.ani,

Deut. xxviii. 63; but in this case it would be UHs;nA.yi.  The form

UHs.;yi, pointed UHs.ayi, might be the Niph. of HHasA, but HHasA can neither be

taken as one with HsanA, of the same meaning, nor with Hitzig is it to

be vocalized UHs.;yu (Hoph. of Hsn); nor, with Böttcher (§ 1100, p.

453), is UHs.;yi. to be regarded as a veritable fut. Niph. UHs.;yi is, as at

xv. 25, Ps. Ili. 7, active: evellant; and this, with the subj. remain

ing indefinite (for which J. H. Michaelis refers to Hos. xii. 9), is

equivalent to evellentur. This indefinite "they" or "one" ("man"),

Fleischer remarks, can even be used of God, as here and Job vii.

3,—a thing which is common in Persian, where e.g. the expression

rendered hominem ex pulvere fecerunt is used instead of the fuller

form, which would be rendered homo a Deo ex pulvere factus est.

Mydig;OB bears (as dg,B, proves) the primary meaning of concealed, i.e.

malicious (treacherous and rapacious, Isa. xxxiii. 1), and then

faithless men.1


            1 Similar is the relation in Arab. of labbasa to libâs (wUbl;); it means to make

thing unknown by covering it; whence telbîs, deceit, nulebbis, a falsifier.

                                     CHAP. III. 1-4.                                            85









            The foregoing Mashal discourse seeks to guard youth .against

ruinous companionship; this points out to them more particularly

the relation toward God and man, which alone can make them

truly happy, vers. 1-4.

                        1 My son, forget not my doctrine,

                           And let thine heart keep my commandments;

                        2 For length of days, and years of life,

                           And peace, will they add to thee.

                        3 Let not kindness and truth forsake thee:

                           Bind them about thy neck,

                           Write them on the tablet of thy heart,

                        4 And obtain favour and true prudence

                            In the eyes of God and of men.


            The admonition takes a new departure. ytirAOT and ytaOc;mi refer

to the following new discourse and laws of conduct. Here, in the

midst of the discourse, we have rco.y not rco.n;yi; the non-assimi-

lated form is found only in the conclusion, e.g. ii. 11, v. 2. The

plur. UpysiOy (ver. 2) for hnAp;seOT (they will bring, add) refers to the

doctrine and the precepts; the synallage has its ground in this, that

the fem. construction in Hebrew is not applicable in such a case;

the vulgar Arab. also has set aside the forms jaktubna, taktubna.

"Extension of days" is continuance of duration, stretching itself

out according to the promise, Ex. xx. 12; and "years of life" (ix.

11) are years—namely, many of them—of a life which is life in

the full sense of the word. Myyi.Hi has here the pregnant significa-

tion vita vitalis, bi<oj biwto<j (Fl.).  MOlwA (R. lw) is pure well-being,

free from all that disturbs peace or satisfaction, internal and exter-

nal contentment.

            Ver. 3. With this verse the doctrine begins; lxa (not xlo) shows

that 3a does not continue the promise of ver. 2.  ds,H, (R. sH,

stringere, afficere) is, according to the prevailing usage of the lan-

guage, well-affectedness, it may be of God toward men, or of men

toward God, or of men toward one another—a loving disposition, of

the same meaning as the N. T. a]ga<ph (vid. e.g. Hos. vi. 6). tm,x,

(from tn,m,xE), continuance, a standing to one's promises, and not

86                   THE BOOK OF PROVERBS.


falsifying just expectations; thus fidelity, pi<stij, in the inter-

related sense of fides and fidelitas. These two states of mind and

of conduct are here contemplated as moral powers (Ps. lxi. 8, xliii.

3), which are of excellent service, and bring precious gain; and 4b

shows that their ramification on the side of God and of men, the

religious and the moral, remains radically inseparable. The suffix

M¾e does not refer to the doctrine and the precepts, but to these

two cardinal virtues. If the disciple is admonished to bind them

about his neck (vid. i. 9, cf. iii. 22), so here reference is made, not

to ornament, nor yet to protection against evil influences by means

of them, as by an amulet1 (for which proofs are wanting), but to

the signet which was wont to be constantly carried (Gen. xxxviii. 18,

cf. Cant. viii. 6) on a string around the neck. The parallel member

3c confirms this; 3b and 3c together put us in mind of the Tephil-

lim (phylacteries), Ex. xiii. 16, Deut. vi. 8, xi. 18, in which what is

here a figure is presented in external form, but as the real figure

of that which is required in the inward parts. HaUl (from HaUl, Arab.

l'ah, to begin to shine, e.g. of a shooting star, gleaming sword; vid.

Wetzstein, Deutsch. morgenl. Zeitzschr. xxii. 151 f.) signifies the

tablet prepared for writing by means of polish; to write love and

fidelity on the tablet of the heart, is to impress deeply on the heart

the duty of both virtues, so that one will be impelled to them from

within outward (Jer. xxxi. 33).

            Ver. 4. To the admonitory imper. there follows here a second,

as iv. 4, xx. 13, Amos v. 4, 2 Chron. xx. 20, instead of which also

the perf. consec. might stand; the counsellor wishes, with the good

to which he advises, at the same time to present its good results.

lk,We is (1 Sam. xxv. 3) the appearance, for the Arab. shakl means

forma, as uniting or binding the lineaments or contours into one

figure, sxh?ma, according to which bOF lk,We may be interpreted of

the pleasing and advantageous impression which the well-built

external appearance of a man makes, as an image of that which

his internal excellence produces; thus, favourable view, friendly

judgment, good reputation (Ewald, Hitzig, Zöckler). But every-

where else (xiii. 15; Ps. cxi. 10; 2 Chron. xxx. 22) this phrase

means good, i.e. fine, well-becoming insight, or prudence; and lkW


            1 Fleischer is here reminded of the giraffe in the Jardin des Plantes, the head

of which was adorned by its Arabic keeper with strings and jewels, the object

of which was to turn aside the ‘ain (the bad, mischievous look) from the precious


                               CHAP. III. 5-8.                                         87


has in the language of the Mishle no other meaning than intel-

lectus, which proceeds from the inwardly forming activity of the

mind. He obtains favour in the eyes of God and man, to whom

favour on both sides is shown; he obtains refined prudence, to

whom it is on both sides adjudicated.  It is unnecessary, with

Ewald and Hitzig, to assign the two objects to God and men. In

the eyes of both at the same time, he who carries love and faith-

fulness in his heart appears as one to whom NHe and tOF lk,We must

be adjudicated.

            Vers. 5-8. Were "kindness and truth" (ver. 3) understood only

in relation to men, then the following admonition would not be

interposed, since it proceeds from that going before, if there the

quality of kindness and truth, not only towards man, but also

towards God, is commended:

                        5 Trust in Jahve with thy whole heart,

                           And lean not on thine own understanding.

                        6 In all thy ways acknowledge Him,

                           And He will make plain thy paths.

                        7 Be not wise in thine own eyes;

                           Fear Jahve, and depart from evil.

                        8 Health will then come to thy navel,

                           And refreshing to thy bones.


From God alone comes true prosperity, true help. He knows the

right way to the right ends. He knows what benefits us. He is

able to free us from that which does us harm: therefore it is our

duty and our safety to place our confidence wholly in Him, and to

trust not to our own judgment. The verb HFaBA, Arab. batihi, has

the root-meaning expandere, whence perhaps, by a more direct way

than that noted under Ps. iv. 6, it acquires the meaning confidere,

to lean with the whole body on something, in order to rest upon it,

strengthened by lfa if one lean wholly—Fr. se reposer sur quelqu'un;

Ital. riposarsi sopra alcuno,—like Nfew.Ahi with lx, to lean on anything,

so as to be supported by it; with lfa, to support oneself on anything

(Fl.).  Impl (the same in form as UhxeWA, Num. xi. 12) is not fully

represented by "acknowledge Him;" as in 1 Chron. xxviii. 9 it is

not a mere theoretic acknowledgment that is meant, but earnest

penetrating cognizance, engaging the whole man. The practico-

mystical UhfedA, in and of itself full of significance, according to O.

and N. T. usage, is yet strengthened by toto corde. The heart is

the central seat of all spiritual soul-strength; to love God with the

whole heart is to concentrate the whole inner life on the active

88                      THE BOOK OF PROVERBS.


contemplation of God, and the ready observance of His will. God

requites such as show regard to Him, by making plain their path

before them, i.e. by leading them directly to the right end, remov-

ing all hindrances out of their way. j~yt,Hor;xo has Cholem in the first

syllable (vid. Kimchi's Lex).1 "Be not wise in thine own eyes"

is equivalent to ne tibi sapiens videare; for, as J. H. Michaelis

remarks, confidere Deo est sapere, sibi vero ac suae sapientiae, desipere.

"Fear God and depart from evil" is the twofold representation of

the eu]se<beia, or practical piety, in the Chokma writings: Prov. xvi.

6, the Mashal psalm xxxiv. 10, 15, and Job xxviii. 28 cf. i. 2.

For frame rsA, the post-biblical expression is xF;He xrey;.

            Ver. 8. The subject to yhiT; (it shall be) is just this religious-

moral conduct. The conjectural reading j~r;WAb;li (Clericus), j~r;wel;

=j~r;xew;li (Ewald, Hitzig), to thy flesh or body, is unnecessary; the

LXX. and Syr. so translating, generalize the expression, which is

not according to their taste. rwo, from rrawA, Arab. sarr, to be fast,

to bind fast, properly, the umbilical cord (which the Arabs call surr,

whence the denom. sarra, to cut off the umbilical cord of the new-

born); thus the navel, the origin of which coincides with the

independent individual existence of the new-born, and is as the

firm centre (cf. Arab. saryr, foundation, basis, Job, p. 487) of the

existence of the body. The system of punctuation does not, as a

rule, permit the doubling of r, probably on account of the pre-

vailing half guttural, i.e. the uvular utterance of this sound by the

men of Tiberias.2  j~r.c,wAl; here, and j`r.ewA at Ezek. xvi. 4, belong to the

exceptions; cf. the expanded duplication in j`rer;wA, Cant. vii. 3, to

which a chief form rr,wo is as little to be assumed as is a rrAhA to

yrer;ha.  The a!p. gegr., tUxp;ri healing, has here, as xPer;ma, iv. 22, xvi.

24, and hpAUrT;, Ezek. xlvii. 12, not the meaning of restoration from

sickness, but the raising up of enfeebled strength, or the confirm

ing of that which exists; the navel comes into view as the middle

point of the vis vitalis.  yUq.wi is a Piel formation, corresponding to

the abstract Kal formation tUxp;ri; the Arab.         used transit.

(to give to drink), also              (cf. Pu. Job xxi. 24) and            like


            1 In the st. constr. ii. 19, and with the grave suff. ii. 15, ŏ instead of ō is in

order; but Ben-Asher's ytHor;xA, Job xiii. 27, cf. xxxiii. 11, is an inconsistency.

            2 See my work, Physiologie u. Musik in ihrer Bedeutung für Grammatik beson-

ders die hebräische, pp. 11-18.

                                   CHAP. III. 9, 10.                                    89


the Hebr. hqAw;hi (Hiph. of hqAwA, to drink); the infin.         means, to

the obliterating of the proper signification, distribution, benefac-

tion, showing friendship, but in the passage before us is to be

explained after Job xxi. 24 (the marrow of his bones is well

watered; Arnheim—full of sap) and xv. 30. Bertheau and Hitzig

erroneously regard ver. 8 as the conclusion to ver. 7, for they

interpret tvxpr as the subject; but had the poet wished to be so

understood, he should have written yhit;U.  Much rather the subject

is devotion withdrawn from the evil one and turned to God, which

externally proves itself by the dedication to Him of earthly pos-


            Ver. 9 Honour Jahve with thy wealth,

                        And with the first-fruits of all thine increase:

                  10 Then shall thy barns be filled with plenty,

                        And thy vats overflow with must.


It may surprise us that the Chokma, being separated from the

ceremonial law, here commends the giving of tithes. But in the

first place, the consciousness of the duty of giving tithes is older

than the Mosaic law, Gen. xxviii. 22; in this case, the giving of

tithes is here a general ethical expression. rW.efi and rWefEma do not

occur in the Book of Proverbs; in the post-biblical phraseology

the tithes are called ha.bon.Aha ql,He, the portion of the Most High.

dBeKi, as the Arab. wakkra, to make heavy, then to regard and deal

with as weighty and solemn (opp. ll.eqi, to regard and treat as light,

from llaqA Arab. hân, to be light).  NOh, properly lightness in the

sense of aisance, opulency, forms with dBeKa an oxymoron (fac Jovam

gravem de levitate tua), but one aimed at by the author neither at

i. 13 nor here.  Nmi (in j~n,Ohme and 'reme, ver. 9) is in both cases par-

titive, as in the law of the Levitical tenths, Lev. xxvii. 30, and of

the Challa (heave-offering of dough), Num. xv. 21, where also

tywixre. (in Heb. vii. 4, a]kroqi<nia) occurs in a similar sense, cf.

Num. xviii. 12 (in the law of the Theruma or wave-offering of

the priests), as also hxAUbT; in the law of the second tenths, Deut.

xiv. 22, cf. Num. xviii. 30 (in the law of the tenths of the priests).

Ver. 10. With v apodosis imperativi the conclusion begins.

satisfaction, is equivalent to fulness, making satisfied, and that, too,

richly satisfied; wOryTi also is such an accusative, as verbs of filling

govern it, for  CraPA, to break through, especially to overflow, signifies

to be or become overflowingly full (Job i. 10). MsAxA (from MsaxA,

90                       THE BOOK OF PROVERBS.


Chald. NsaxE, Syr. âsan, to lay up in granaries) is the granary, of the

same meaning as the Arab. âkhzan (from khazan=NsaHA), Isa. xxiii.

18, recondere), whence the Spanish magazen, the French and

German magazin.  bq,y, (from bqayA, Arab. wakab, to be hollow) is

the vat or tub into which the must flows from the wine-press (tn.a

or hrAUP), la<kkoj or u[polh<nion. Cf. the same admonition and promise

in the prophetic statement of Mal. iii. 10-12.

            Vers. 11, 12. The contrast here follows. As God should not

be forgotten in days of prosperity, so one should not suffer himself

to be estranged from Him by days of adversity.

                        11 The school of Jahve, my son, despise thou not,

                             Nor loathe thou His correction;

                        12 For Jahve correcteth him whom He loveth,

                             And that as a father his son whom he loveth


Vid. the original passage Job v. 17 f. There is not for the Book

of Job a more suitable motto than this tetrastich, which expresses

its fundamental thought, that there is a being chastened and tried

by suffering which has as its motive the love of God, and which

does not exclude sonship.1 One may say that ver. 11 expresses

the problem of the Book of Job, and ver. 12 its solution.  rsaUm

paidei<a, we have translated "school," for rs.ayi, paideu<ein, means in

reality to take one into school. Ahndung [punishment] or Rüge

[reproof] is the German word which most corresponds to the Hebr.

hHAkEOT or tHakaOT.  B; CUq (whence here the prohibitive CqoTA with lxa)

means to experience loathing (disgust) at anything, or aversion

(vexation) toward anything. The LXX. (cited Heb. xii. 5 f.),

mhde> e]klu<ou, nor be faint-hearted, which joins in to the general

thought, that we should not be frightened away from God, or let

ourselves be estranged from Him by the attitude of anger in which

He appears in His determination to inflict suffering. In 12a the

accentuation leaves it undefined whether hOAhy; as subject belongs to

the relative or to the principal clause; the traditional succession of

accents, certified also by Ben Bileam, is hvhy bhxy rwx tx, yk, for this

passage belongs to the few in which more than three servants

(viz. Mahpach, Mercha, and three Munachs) go before the Ath-

nach.2  The further peculiarity is here to be observed, that tx,


            1 Here Procop. rightly distinguishes between paidei<a and timwri<a.

            2 Vid. Toroth Emeth, p. 19; Accentuationssystem, vi. § 6; the differences

between Ben-Asher and Ben-Naphtali in the Appendixes to Biblia Rabbinica;

Dachseles Biblia Accentuata, and Pinner's Prospectus, p. 91 (Odessa, 1815).

                                 CHAP. III. 13-15.                                          91


although without the Makkeph, retains its Segol, besides here only

in Ps. xlvii. 5, lx. 2. 12b is to be interpreted thus (cf. ix. 5b):

“and (that) as a father the son, whom he loves." The v is ex-

planatory, as 1 Sam. xxviii. 3 (Gesenius, § 155, la), and hc,r;yi

(which one may supplement by Otxo or OB) is a defining clause

having, the force of a clause with rwx. The translation, et ut pater

qui filio bene cupit, is syntactically (cf. Isa. xl. 11) and accentually

(vid. 13b) not less admissible, but translating "and as a father he

holds his son dear," or with Hitzig (after Jer. xxxi. 10, a passage

not quite syntactically the same), "and holds him dear, as a father

his son" (which Zöckler without syntactical authority prefers on

account of the 2d modus, cf. e.g. Ps. li. 18), does not seem a

right parallel clause, since the giving of correction is the chief

point, and the love only the accompanying consideration (xiii. 24).

According to our interpretation, HaykiOy is to be carried forward in

the mind from 12a. The LXX. find the parallel word in bxky,

for they translate mastigoi? de> pa<nta ui[o>n o{n parade<xetai, and

thus have read bxekey; or bxik;yav;.

            Vers. 13-15. Such submission to God, the All-wise, the All-

directing, who loves us with fatherly affection, is wisdom, and

such wisdom is above all treasures.

            13 Blessed is the man who has found wisdom,

                And the man who has gained understanding;

            14 For better is her acquisition than the acquisition of silver,

                 And her gain than fine gold.

            15 More precious is she than corals;

                And all thy jewels do not equal her value.


The imperfect qypiyA, which as the Hiph. of qUp, exire, has the general

meaning educere, interchanges with the perfect xcAmA. This bring-

ing forth is either a delivering up, i.e. giving out or presenting,

Isa. lviii. 10, Ps. cxl. 9, cxliv. 13 (cf. qpan;, Arab. nafaki, to give

out, to pay out), or a fetching out, getting out, receiving, viii. 35,

xii. 2, xviii. 22. Thus 13a reminds one of the parable of the

treasure in the field, and 13b of that of the goodly pearl for which

the e@mporoj who sought the pearl parted with all that he had.

Here also is declared the promise of him who trades with a

merchant for the possession of wisdom; for h.rAH;sa and rHas; (both,

as Isa. xxiii. 3, 18, xlv. 15, from rHasa, the latter after the forms

frEz, fFan;, without our needing to assume a second primary form,

rHAsA) go back to the root-word rHasA, to trade, go about as a trader,

92                     THE BOOK OF PROVERBS,


with the fundamental meaning e]mporeu<esqai (LXX.); and also

the mention of the pearls is not wanting here, for at all events the

meaning "pearls" has blended itself with MyniyniP;, which is a favourite

word in the Mashal poetry, though it be not the original meaning

of the word. In 14b    Js,K, is surpassed by CUrHA (besides in the

Proverbs, found only in this meaning in Ps. lxviii. 14), which

properly means ore found in a mine, from CraHA, to cut in, to dig

up, and hence the poetic name of gold, perhaps of gold dug out

as distinguished from molten gold. Hitzig regards xruso<j as

identical with it; but this word (Sanskr. without the ending hir,

Zend. zar) is derived from ghar, to glitter (vid. Curtius).  h.tAxAUbT;

we have translated "gain," for it does not mean the profit which

wisdom brings, the tribute which it yields, but the gain, the pos-

session of wisdom herself.

            Ver. 15. As regards MyniyniP;, for which the Kethîb has MyyiiniP;, the

following things are in favour of the fundamental meaning

“corals,” viz.:  (1.) The name itself, which corresponds with the

Arab.        ; this word, proceeding from the root-idea of shooting

forth, particularly after the manner of plants, means the branch

and all that raises or multiplies itself branch-like or twig-like

(Fleischer). (2.) The redness attributed to the Mynynp, Lam. iv. 7,

in contradistinction to the pure whiteness attributed to snow and

milk (vid. at Job xxviii. 18). The meaning of the word may, how-

ever, have become generalized in practice (LXX. in loc. li<qwn

polutelw?n, Graec. Venet. liqidi<wn); the meaning "pearls," given

to it in the Job-Targum by Rashi, and particularly by Bochart,

lay so much the nearer as one may have wrought also corals

and precious stones, such as the carbuncle, sardius, and sapphire,

into the form of pearls.  hrAqAy;, in consequence of the retrogression

of the tone, has Munach on the penult., and that as an exception, as

has been remarked by the Masora, since in substantives and proper

names terminating in h¾A the rvHx gvsn, i.e. the receding of the tone,

does not elsewhere appear, e.g. xyni hpAyA, Gen. xii. 14, xyhi hrABA,

Cant. vi. 9, xyhi hrAcA, Jer. xxx. 7. "CP,He is first abstr., a being in-

clined to something, lust, will, pleasure in anything, then also

concr., anything in which one has pleasure, what is beautiful,

precious; cf.                        , hence                   precious stones"

(Fleischer).  hvAwA, with B;, means to be an equivalent (purchase-price,

                                       CHAP. III. 16-18.                                   93


exchange) for anything; the most natural construction in Arab. as

well as in Hebr. is that with l;, to be the equivalent of a thing (vid.

at Job xxxiii. 27); the B; is the Beth pretii, as if one said in Arab.:

biabi anta thou art in the estimate of my father, I give it for thee.

One distinctly perceives in vers. 14, 15, the echo of Job xxviii.

This tetrastich occurs again with a slight variation at viii. 10, 11.

The Talmud and the Midrash accent it so, that in the former the

expression is MycpH-lkv, and in the latter jycpH-lkv, and they explain

the latter of precious stones and pearls (tvylgrmv tvbvF Mynbx).

            Vers. 16-18. That wisdom is of such incomparable value is

here confirmed:

                        16 Length of days is in her right hand;

                            In her left, riches and honour.

                        17 Her ways are pleasant ways,

                            And all her paths are peace.

                        18 A tree of life is she to those that lay hold upon her,

                            And he who always holdeth her fast is blessed.


As in the right hand of Jahve, according to Ps. xvi. 11, are plea-

sures for evermore, so Wisdom holds in her right hand "length of

days," viz. of the days of life, thus life, the blessing of blessings;

in her left, riches and honour (viii. 18), the two good things which,

it is true, do not condition life, but, received from Wisdom, and

thus wisely, elevate the happiness of life—in the right hand is the

chief good, in the left the prosqh<kh, Matt. vi. 33. Didymus: Per

sapientiae dextram divinarum rerum cognitio, ex qua immortalitatis

vita oritur, significatur; per sinistram autem rerum humanarum

notitia, ex qua gloria opumque abundantia nascitur. The LXX.,

as between 15a and 15b, so also here after ver. 16, interpolate two

lines:  "From her mouth proceedeth righteousness; justice and

mercy she bears upon her tongue,"—perhaps translated from the

Hebr., but certainly added by a reader.

            Ver. 17. Mfano-yker;Da are ways on which one obtains what is agree-

able to the inner and the outer man, and which it does good to

enjoy. The parallel MOlwA is not a genitive to tObytin;; to be supplied;

the paths Wisdom are themselves MOlwA, for she brings well-being

on all sides and deep inward satisfaction (peace). In regard to hbAytin;,

via eminens, elata, Schultens is right (vid. under i. 15);1  hAyt,Obytin;

has Munach, and instead of the Metheg, Tarcha, vid. under i. 31b.


            1 The root is not bt, to grope, but tn; whence Arab. natt, to bubble up,

natâ, to raise oneself, to swell up, etc.

94                    THE BOOK OF PROVERBS.


The figure of the tree of life the fruit of which brings immortality,

is, as xi. 30, xv. 4 (cf. xiii. 12), Rev. ii. 7, taken from the history

of paradise in the Book of Genesis. The old ecclesiastical saying,

Lignum vitae crux Christi, accommodates itself in a certain measure,

through Matt. xi. 19, Luke xi. 49, with this passage of the Book of

Proverbs.  B; qyziH<h, means to fasten upon anything, more fully

expressed in Gen. xxi. 18, to bind the hand firm with anything,

to seize it firmly. They who give themselves to Wisdom, come to

experience that she is a tree of life whose fruit contains and com-

municates strength of life, and whoever always keeps fast hold of

Wisdom is blessed, i.e. to be pronounced happy (Ps. xli. 3, vid. under

Ps. cxxxvii. 8). The predicate rw.Axum;, blessed, refers to each one of

the hAyk,m;To, those who hold her, cf. xxvii. 16, Num. xxiv. 9.  It is the

so-called distributive singular of the predicate, which is freely used

particularly in those cases where the plur. of the subject is a parti-

ciple (vid. under ver. 35).









            O son, guard against seducers (i. 8 ff.); listen to the warning

voice of Wisdom (i. 20 ff.); seek after Wisdom: she is the way to

God, comes from God, and teaches thee to shun the wicked way

and to walk in the way that is good (ii.); thou shalt obtain her if,

renouncing self-confidence, thou givest thyself unreservedly to God

(iii. 1-18)—these are the four steps, so far, of this introductory

parai<nesij.  Each discourse contributes its own to present vividly

and impressively what Wisdom is and what she procures, her nature

and her blessings. From her hand come all good gifts of God to

men. She is the tree of life. Her place between God and men is

thus that of a mediatrix.

            Vers. 19, 20. This place of a mediatrix—the speaker here now

continues—she had from the beginning. God's world-creating

work was mediated by her:

                        19 Jahve hath by wisdom founded the earth,

                             Established the heavens by understanding.

                                  CHAP. III. 19, 20.                                 95


                        20 By His knowledge the water-floods broke forth,

                             And the sky dropped down dew.


That wisdom is meant by which God planned the world-idea, and

now also wrought it out; the wisdom in which God conceived the

world ere it was framed, and by which also He gave external

realization to His thoughts; the wisdom which is indeed an attri-

bute of God and a characteristic of His actions, since she is a

property of His nature, and His nature attests itself in her, but

not less, as appears, not from this group of tetrastichs, but from

all that has hitherto been said, and from the personal testimony,

viii. 22 ff., of which it is the praeludium, she goes forth as a divine

power to which God has given to have life in herself. Considered

apart from the connection of these discourses, this group of verses,

as little as Jer. x. 2, Ps. civ. 24, determines regarding the attribu-

tive interpretation; the Jerusalem Targum, I., when it translates,

Gen. i. 1, tywxrb by xmAk;UHB; (xtAm;k;UHB), combines viii. 22 with such

passages as this before us.  dsayA (here with the tone thrown back)

properly signifies, like the Arab. wasad, to lay fast, to found, for one

gives to a fact the firm basis of its existence. The parallel Pil. of NUK

(Arab. kân, cogn. Nhk, see on Isaiah, p. 691) signifies to set up, to

restore; here equivalent to, to give existence.

            Ver. 20. It is incorrect to understand 20a, with the Targ., of

division, i.e. separating the water under the firmament from the

water above the firmament; fqab;ni is spoken of water, especially of its

breaking forth, Gen. vii. 11, Ex. xiv. 21, cf. Ps. lxxiv. 15, properly

dividing itself out, i.e. welling forth from the bowels of the earth;

it means, without distinguishing the primordial waters and the later

water-floods confined within their banks (cf. Job xxxviii. 8 f., Ps.

civ. 6-8), the overflowing of the earth for the purpose of its pro-

cesses of cultivation and the irrigation of the land. tOmOhT; (from

MUh =hmAhA, to groan, to roar) are chiefly the internal water stores

of the earth, Gen. xlix. 25, Ps. xxxiii. 7. But while 20a is to be

understood of the waters under the firmament, 20b is to be inter-

preted of those above.  MyqiHAw; (from qHawA, Arab. shiaki, comminuere,

attenuare) properly designates the uppermost stratum of air thinly

and finely stretching itself far and wide, and then poetically the

clouds of heaven (vid. under Ps. lxxvii. 18). Another name, MypirifE,

comes from JrafA, which is transposed from JfarA (here used in 20b),

Arab. r'af, to drop, to run.  The lFA, added on the object accusative

represents synecdochically all the waters coming down from heaven

96                     THE BOOK OF PROVERBS.


and fructifying the earth. This watering proceeds from above

(vpfrv); on the contrary, the endowing of the surface of the earth

with great and small rivers is a fundamental fact in creation


            Vers. 21-22. From this eminence, in which the work of creation

presents wisdom, exhortations are now deduced, since the writer

always expresses himself only with an ethical intention regarding

the nature of wisdom

                        21 My son, may they not depart from thine eyes—

                             Preserve thoughtfulness and consideration,

                        22 And they will be life to thy soul

                            And grace to thy neck.


If we make the synonyms of wisdom which are in 21b the subject

per prolepsin to UzluyA-lxa (Hitzig and Zöckler), then 19-20 and 21-22

clash. The subjects are wisdom, understanding, knowledge, which

belong to God, and shall from Him become the possession of those

who make them their aim. Regarding zUl. obliquari, deflectere, see

under ii. 15, cf. iv. 21; regarding hy.AwiTu (here defective after the

Masora, as rightly in Vened. 1515, 1521, and Nissel, 1662), see at

ii. 7; UzluyA: for hnAz;loTA, see at iii. 2b.  The LXX. (cf. Heb. ii. 1)

translate without distinctness of reference:  ui[e> mh> parar]r[u^>j

(pararu^?j), let it not flow past, i.e. let it not be unobserved, hold

it always before thee; the Targ. with the Syr. render lz.ani xlo, ne

vilescat, as if the words were UlUzyA-lxa.  In 22a the synallage generis

is continued: Uyh;yiv; for hnAyy,h;til;.  Regarding troG;r;Ga, see at i. 9. By

wisdom the soul gains life, divinely true and blessed, and the

external appearance of the man grace, which makes him pleasing

and gains for him affection.

            Vers. 23-26. But more than this, wisdom makes its possessor in

all situations of life confident in God:

                        23 Then shalt thou go thy way with confidence,

                             And thy foot shall not stumble.

                        24 When thou liest down, thou art not afraid,

                             But thou layest thyself down and hast sweet sleep.

                        25 Thou needest not be afraid of sudden alarm,

                             Nor for the storm of the wicked when it breaketh forth.

                        26 For Jahve will be thy confidence

                            And keep thy foot from the snare.

The HFab.;A (cf. our "bei guter Laune" = in good cheer), with l of

the condition, is of the same meaning as the conditional adverbial

accusative HFaB,, x. 9, i. 33. Ver. 23b the LXX. translate o[ de>

                                      CHAP. III. 23-26.                                    97


pou<j sou ou] mh> prosko<y^, while, on the contrary, at Ps. xci. 12

they make the person the subject (mh<pote prosko<y^j to>n k.t.l.);

here also we retain more surely the subject from 23a, especially

since for the intrans. of JganA (to smite, to push) a Hithpa. JGenat;hi is

used Jer. xiii. 16.  In ver. 24 there is the echo of Job xi. 18, and

in ver. 25 of Job v. 21. 24b is altogether the same as Job v. 24b:

et decumbes et suavis erit somnus tuus. si decubueris, suavis erit.

The hypothetic perf., according to the sense, is both there and at

Job xi. 18 (cf. Jer. xx. 9) oxytoned as perf. consec.  Similar examples

are vi. 22, Gen. xxxiii. 13, 1 Sam. xxv. 31, cf. Ewald, § 357a. hbAr;fA

(of sleep as Jer. xxxi. 26) is from brefA, which in Hebr. is used of

pleasing impressions, as the Arab. ‘ariba of a lively, free disposition.

hnAwe, somnus (nom. actionis from NweyA, with the ground-form sina

preserved in the Arab. lidat, vid. Job, p. 284, note), agrees in

inflexion with hnAwA, annus. lxa ver. 25a, denies, like Ps. cxxi. 3,

with emphasis: be afraid only not = thou hast altogether nothing to

fear. Schultens rightly says: Subest species prohibitionis et tanquam

abominationis, ne tale quicquam vel in suspicionem veniat in mentemve

cogitando admittatur.  dHaPa here means terror, as i. 26 f., the terrific

object;  Mxot;Pi (with the accus. om) is the virtual genitive, as xxvi. 2

MnA.Hi (with accus. am).  Regarding hxAwo, see under i. 27. The

genitive MyfiwAr; may be, after Ps. xxxvii. 17, the genit. subjecti, but

still it lies nearer to say that he who chooses the wisdom of God as

his guiding star has no ground to fear punishment as transgressors

have reason to fear it; the hxAwo is meant which wisdom threatens

against transgressors, i. 27. He needs have no fear of it, for

wisdom is a gift of God, and binds him who receives it to the

giver: Jahve becomes and is henceforth his confidence. Regard-

ing b essentiae, which expresses the closest connection of the subject

with the predicate which it introduces, see under Ps. xxxv. 2. As

here, so also at Ex. xviii. 4, Ps. cxviii. 7, cxlvi. 5, the predicate is a

noun with a pronominal suffix. ls,K, is, as at Ps. lxxviii. 7, Job

xxxi. 24, cognate to HFAb;mi and hv,q;mi,1 the object and ground of con-

fidence. That the word in other connections may mean also fool-

hardiness, Ps. xlix. 14, and folly, Eccles. vii. 25 (cf. regarding

lysiK;, which in Arab. as belîd denotes the dull, in Hebr. fools, see

under i. 22), it follows that it proceeds from the fundamental con-


            1 According to Malbim, hvAq;Ti is the expectation of good, and ls,K,, confidence

in the presence of evil.

98                    THE BOOK OF PROVERBS.


ception of fulness of flesh and of fat, whence arise the conceptions

of dulness and slothfulness, as well as of confidence, whether con-

fidence in self or in God (see Schultens i.e., and Wünsche's Hosea,

p. 207 f.).  dk,l, is taking, catching, as in a net or trap or pit, from

dkalA, to catch (cf. Arab. lakida, to fasten, III. IV. to hold fast);

another root-meaning, in which Arab. lak connects itself with nak,

jn, to strike, to assail (whence al-lakdat, the assault against the

enemy, Deutsch. Morgenl. Zeitsch. xxii. J40), is foreign to the Hebr.

Regarding the Nm of dklm, Fleischer remarks:  "The Nm after verbs

of guarding, preserving, like rmw and rcn, properly expresses that

one by those means holds or seeks to hold a person or thing back

from something, like the Lat. defendere, tueri aliquem ab hostibus, a









            The promise in which it terminates, designates the close of the fifth

discourse. The sixth differs from it in this, that, like none of the

preceding, it adds proverb to proverb. The first series recommends

love to one's neighbour, and the second warns against fellowship

with the uncharitable.

            Vers. 27, 28. The first illustration of neighbourly love which

is, recommended, is readiness to serve:


            1 Hitzig rejects iii. 22-26 as a later interpolation. And why? Because iii.,

which he regards as a complete discourse, consists of twice ten verses beginning

with yniB;. In addition to this symmetry other reasons easily reveal themselves to

his penetration. But the discourses contained in chap. i.-ix. do not all begin

with ynb (vid. i. 20); and when it stands in the beginning of the discourse, it is

not always the first word (vid. i. 8); and when it occurs as the first word or in

the first line, it does not always commence a new discourse (vid. i. 15 in the

middle of the first, iii. 11 in the middle of the fourth); and, moreover, the Hebr.

poetry and oratory does not reckon according to verses terminated by Soph

Pasuk, which are always accented distichs, but they in reality frequently consist

of three or more lines. The rejected verses are in nothing unlike those that

remain, and which are undisputed; they show the same structure of stichs, con-

sisting for the most part of three, but sometimes also only of two words (cf.

iii. 22b with i. 9b, 10b), the same breadth in the course of the thoughts, and the

same accord with Job and Deuteronomy.

                               CHAP. III. 27, 28.                                   99


                        27 Refuse no manner of good to him to whom it is due

                             When it is in thy power to do it.

                        28 Say not to thy neighbour, "Go, and come again,

                            To-morrow I will give it," whilst yet thou hast it.


Regarding the intensive plur. vylAfAB; with a sing. meaning, see

under i. 19. The form of expression without the suffix is not ylefEBa

but bOF lfaBa; and this denotes here, not him who does good (lfb as

Arab. dhw, or siahiab), but him to whom the good deed is done (cf.

 xvii. 8), i.e. as here, him who is worthy of it (lfb as Arab. âhl),

him who is the man for it (Jewish interp.: vl yvxr xvhw ym).  We

must refuse nothing good (nothing either legally or morally good)

to him who has a right to it (Nmi fnamA as Job xxii. 7, xxxi. 16),1 if

we are in a condition to do him this good.  The phrase ydiyA lxel;-wy,,

Gen. xxxi. 29, and frequently, signifies: it is belonging to (prac-

ticable) the power of my hand, i.e. I have the power and the means

of doing it.  As dze signifies the haughty, insolent, but may be also

used in the neuter of insolent conduct (vid. Ps. xix. 14), so lxe

signifies the strong, but also (although only in this phrase) strength.

The Keri rejects the plur. j~yd,yA, because elsewhere the hand always

follows lxel; in the singular.  But it rejects the plur. j~yf,rel; (ver. 28)

because the address following is directed to one person. Neither of

these emendations was necessary. The usage of the language per-

mits exceptions, notwithstanding the usus tyrannus, and the plur.

jyfrl may be interpreted distributively: to thy fellows, it may be

this one or that one.  Hitzig also regards jyfrl as a singular; but

the mas. of hyAf;ra, the ground-form of which is certainly raj'  hf,re,

or shorter, fare bUwvA j`le does not mean: forth! go home again! but:

go, and come again.  bUw, to come again, to return to something, to

seek it once more.2  The v of j`TAxi wyev; is, as 29b, the conditional:

quum sit penes te, sc. quad ei des.  "To-morrow shall I give" is

less a promise than a delay and putting off, because it is difficult

for him to alienate himself from him who makes the request. This


            1 Accentuate bvF fnmt-lx, not bvF-fnmt-lx. The doubling of the Mak-

keph is purposeless, and, on the contrary, the separating of bvF from vylfbm

by the Dechi (the separating accent subordinate to. Athnach) is proper. It is

thus in the best MSS.

            2 Thus also (Arab.) raj' is used in Thaalebi's Confidential Companion, p. 24,

line 3, of Fingers ed. Admission was prevented to one Haschmid, then angry

he sought it once more; he was again rejected, then he sought it not again

(Arab. flm yraj'), but says, etc.  Flügel has misunderstood the passage.

Fleischer explains raj', with reference to Prov. iii. 28, by revenir à la charge.

100                      THE BOOK OF PROVERBS.


holding fast by one's own is unamiable selfishness; this putting off

in the fulfilment of one's duty is a sin of omission—ou] ga>r oi#daj,

as the LXX. adds, ti< te<cetai h[ e]piou?sa.

            Ver. 29. A second illustration of neighbourly love is harmlessness:


                        Devise not evil against thy neighbour,

                        While he dwelleth securely by thee.


The verb wraHA, xara<ssein, signifies to cut into, and is used of the

faber ferrarius as well as of the tignarius (Isaiah, p. 463), who

with a cutting instrument (wreHo, Gen. iv. 22) works with metal or

wood, and from his profession is called wreHo.  But the word means

as commonly to plough, i.e. to cut with the plough, and wreHo is

used also of a ploughman, and, without any addition to it, it always

has this meaning. It is then a question whether the metaphorical

phrase hfArA wraHA signifies to fabricate evil, cf. dolorum faber, men-

dacia procudere, yeudw?n kai> a]patw?n te<ktwn, and the Homeric kaka>

fresi> bussodomeu<ein (Fleischer and most others), or to plough evil

(Rashi, Ewald, etc.).  The Targ., Syriac, and Jerome translate

bwH, without deciding the point, by moliri; but the LXX. and

Graecus Venet. by tektai<nein.  The correctness of these render-

ings is not supported by Ezek. xxi. 36, where tyHiw;ma ywerAHA are not

such as fabricate destruction, but smiths who cause destruction;

also wyriHEma, 1 Sam. xxiii. 9, proves nothing, and probably does not at

all appertain to wrH incidere (Keil), but to wrH silere, in the sense

of dolose moliri. On the one hand, it is to be observed from Job

iv. 8, Hos. x. 13, cf. Ps. cxxix. 3, that the meaning arare malum

might connect itself with hfArA wraHA; and the proverb of Sirach vii.

12, mh> a]rotri<a yeu?doj e]p ] a]delf&? sou, places this beyond a doubt.

Therefore in this phrase, if one keeps before him a clear perception

of the figure, at one time the idea of fabricating, at another that

of ploughing, is presented before us. The usage of the language

in the case before us is more in favour of the latter than of the

former. Whether txe bwayA, means to dwell together with, or as

Böttcher, to sit together with, after Ps. i. 1, xxvi. 4 f., need not

be a matter of dispute. It means in general a continued being

together, whether as sitting, Job ii. 13, or as dwelling, Judg. xvii.

11.1 To take advantage of the regardlessness of him who imparts


            1 Accentuate HFb,l bwevy-xvhv. It is thus in correct texts. The Rebia

Mugrash is transformed, according to the Accentuationssystem, xviii. § 2.

                                   CHAP. III. 30-32.                                   101


to us his confidence is unamiable. Love is doubly owing to him

who resigns himself to it because he believes in it.

            Ver. 30. A third illustration of the same principle is peaceable-


                        Contend not with a man without a cause,

                        When he has inflicted no evil upon thee.


Instead of bUrTA, or as the Kerî has amended it byriTA, the abbreviated

form broTA or breTA; would be more correct after lxa; bUr or byri (from

br, to be compact) means to fall upon one another, to come to

hand-blows, to contend. Contending and quarrelling with a

man, whoever he may be, without sufficient reason, ought to be

abandoned; but there exists no such reason if he has done me no

harm which I have to reproach him with. hfArA lmaGA with the accus.

or dat. of the person signifies to bring evil upon any one, malum

inferre, or also referre (Schultens), for lmaGA (cogn. rmaGA) signifies to

execute, to complete, accomplish,—both of the initiative and of the

requital, both of the anticipative and of the recompensing action;

here in the former of these senses.

            Vers. 31, 32. These exhortations to neighbourly love in the

form of warning against whatever is opposed to it, are followed by

the warning against fellowship with the loveless:

                        31 Be not envious toward the man of violence,

                             And have no pleasure in all his ways.

                        32 For an abhorrence to Jahve is the perverse,

                             But with the upright is His secret.


The conceptions of jealousy and envy lie in xn.eqi (derived by Schul-

tens from xnAqA, Arab. kanâ, intensius rubere) inseparable from each

other. The LXX., which for xnqt reads hnqt (kth<s^), brings the

envy into 31b, as if the words here were rHat;Ti-lxav;, as in Ps. xxxvii.

1, 7 (there the LXX. has mh> parazh<lou, here mhde> zhlw<s^j).

There is no reason for correcting our text in accordance with this

(substituting rHat;Ti for rHab;Ti as Hitzig does), because vykArAD;-lkAB; would

be too vague an expression for the object of the envy, while

rHbt-lx altogether agrees with it; and the contrary remark, that

lKoBa rHaB; is fundamentally no rHb, fails, since (1) rHb frequently ex-

presses pleasure in anything without the idea of choice, and (2)

"have not pleasure in all his ways" is in the Hebrew style equiva-

lent to "in any one of his ways;" Ewald, § 323b. He who does

"violence to the law" (Zeph. iii. 4) becomes thereby, according to

the common course of the world, a person who is feared, whose autho-

102                  THE BOOK OF PROVERBS.


rity, power, and resources are increased, but one must not therefore

envy him, nor on any side take pleasure in his conduct, which in

all respects is to be reprobated; for the inflexus, tortuosus (vid.

ii. 15), who swerves from the right way and goes in a crooked

false way, is an object of Jahve's abhorrence, while, on the contrary,

the just, who with a right mind walks in the right way, is Jahve's

dOs—an echo of Ps. xxv. 14.  dOs (R. ds, to be firm, compressed)

means properly the being pressed together, or sitting together (cf.

the Arab. wisâd, wisâdt, a cushion, divan, corresponding in form

to the Hebr. dOsy;) for the purpose of private communication and

conversation (dseUAhi), and then partly the confidential intercourse,

as here (cf. Job xxix. 4), partly the private communication, the

secret (Amos iii. 7). LXX., e]n de> dikai<oij [ou]] sunedria<zei. Those

who are out of the way, who prefer to the simplicity of right-doing

all manner of crooked ways, are contrary to God, and He may have

nothing to do with them; but the right-minded He makes partakers

of His most intimate intercourse, He deals with them as His friends.

            Ver. 33. The prosperity of the godless, far from being worthy

of envy, has as its reverse side the curse:

                        The curse of Jahve is in the house of the godless,

                        And the dwelling of the just He blesseth.

hrAxEm; (a curse), like hl.Asim; (a highway, from llasA is formed from

rraxA (cf. Arab. harr, detestari, abhorrere, a word-imitation of an in-

terjection used in disagreeable experiences). The curse is not

merely a deprivation of external goods which render life happy,

and the blessing is not merely the fulness of external possessions;

the central-point of the curse lies in continuous disquiet of con-

science, and that of the blessing in the happy consciousness that

God is with us, in soul-rest and peace which is certain of the grace

and goodness of God. The poetic hv,nA (from hvn = Arab. nwy, teten-

dit aliquo) signifies the place of settlement, and may be a word

borrowed from a nomad life, since it denotes specially the pasture- 

ground; cf. xxiv. 15 (Fleischer). While the curse of God rests in

the house of the wicked (vid. Köhler on Zech. v. 4), He blesses,

on the contrary, the dwelling-place of the righteous. The LXX.

and Jerome read j`raboy;, but j`rebAy; is more agreeable, since God con-

tinues to be the subject.

            Ver. 34. His relation to men is determined by their relation to


                              CHAP. III. 34.                                         103


                        As for the scorners, He scorneth them,

                        But to the lowly He giveth grace.


Most interpreters render the verse thus: "If the scorner He

(even He, in return) scorneth, so He (on the other hand) giveth

grace to the lowly." For the sequence of the words in the conse-

quence, in which the precedence of the verb is usual, e.g. Lev.

xii. 5, we are referred to xxiii. 18, cf. xxiv. 14; but why had the

poet placed the two facts in the relation of condition and conse-

quence? The one fact is not the consequence but the reverse of

the other, and accordingly they are opposed to each other in co-

ordinated passages, Ps. xviii. 26 f. The Vav in such antitheses has

generally the meaning of "and on the other hand," e.g. Job viii.

20, while the LXX., Targ., Syriac, and Jerome altogether pass

over the Mxi as if it did not exist. Ziegler translates:  "Truly! the

scorner He scorneth;  "but an affirmative Mxi, does not exist, the

asseveration after the manner of an oath is negative. Bertheau's

expedient would be more acceptable, by which he makes the whole

of ver. 34 the protasis to ver. 35; but if this were intended, another

subject would not enter into ver. 35. Thus 34a and 34b are two

independent parallel passages; Mycil.ela-Mxi is the protasis: if as re-

gards the scorners, i.e. if His conduct is directed to the scorners, so

He scorneth. The l denotes relation, and in this elliptical usage is

like the l of superscription, e.g. Jer. xxiii. 9. xUh is the emphatic

au]to<j:  He on the contrary, and in a decisive way (Ewald, § 314ab).

Instead of CyliyA, there might have been used Mceyliy; (for Cylihe, where

it occurs as a governing word, has the accusative, xix. 28, Ps.

cxix. 51), but we do not miss the object: if it relates to scorners

(thus also Löwenstein translates), so it is He in return who

scorneth. The LXX. renders it: ku<rioj u[perhfa<noij a]ntita<ssetai

tapeinoi?j de> di<dwsi xa<rin; cf. Jas. iv. 6, 1 Pet. v. 5. xUh is used

as a name of God (Deutsch. Morgenl. Zeitschr. xvi. 400), on which

account it is rendered like hvhy by ku<rioj. A u[perh<fanoj (appearing

above others, i e. overbearing) is the Cle, according to the definition

xxi. 24. The expression of the talio is generalized in a]ntita<s-

setai (resists them).  For Myynf the Kerî has MyvinAfE: vnAfA (from hnAfA,

the ground-form vnafA, Arab. 'anaw) is the lowly (tapeino<j), or he

who bends himself, i.e. the gentle and humble, the patient, and

the passive ynifA, he who is bowed down, the suffering; but the limits

of the conception are moveable, since in ynf is presupposed the

possession of fruit-virtues gained in the school of affliction.

104                   THE BOOK OF PROVERBS.


            Ver. 35. This group of the proverbs of wisdom now suitably

closes with the fundamental contrast between the wise and fools:

                        The wise shall inherit honour,

                        But fools carry away shame.

If we take Myliysik;U as the object, then we can scarcely interpret the

clause: shame sweeps fools away (Umbreit, Zöckler, Bertheau),

for Myrihe [Hiph. of MUr] signifies (Isa. lvii. 14, Ezek. xxi. 31) "to

raise up anything high and far," not "to sweep away." Prefer-

able is the rendering: tou>j d ] a!fronaj u[yoi? a]timi<a (Graec. Venet.,

and similarly Jerome), i.e. only to it do they owe their celebrity as

warning examples (Ewald), to which Oetinger compares "whose

glory is in their shame," Phil. iii. 19;1 but NOlqA is the contrary of

dObKA (glory, Hab. ii. 16), and therefore is as much an object con-

ception as is the latter, 35a. If it is the object, then if we take Myrime

from rme after the form of Nle, Neh. xiii. 21 = Myriymim; (Hos. iv. 7),

it might be rendered: Yet fools exchange shame (Löwenstein).

But rUm, like the Arab. mrr, transire, means properly to pass over

or to wander over; it is intransitive, and only in Hiph. signifies

actively to exchange. Myrime thus will be the participle of Myrihe; the

plur. taken distributively (fools = whoever is only always a fool) is

connected with the singular of the predicate. This change in the

number is here, however, more difficult than at iii. 18, and in other

places, where the plur. of the part. permits the resolution into a

relative clause with quicunque, and more difficult than at xxviii. 1,

where the sing. of the predicate is introduced by attraction;

wherefore Myrm may be an error in transcribing for Mymyrm or

ymyrm (Böttcher).  J. H. Michaelis (after the Targ. and Syr.) has

properly rendered the clause: "stulti tollunt ignominiam tanquam  

portionern suam," adding "quae derivato nomine hmvrt dicitur."

Myrh signifies, in the language of the sacrificial worship and of

worship generally, to lift off from anything the best portion, the

legitimate portion due to God and the priesthood (vid. at iii. 9);

for which reason Rashi glosses Myrm by vl wyrpm, and Ralbag by

vl hybgm. See xiv. 29. Honour is that which the wise inherit, it

falls to them unsought as a possession, but fools receive shame as

the offal (viz. of their foolish conduct). The fut. and part. are sig-

nificantly interchanged. The life of the wise ends in glory, but


            1 Jona Gerundi renders it otherwise:  "But shame raises the fools high;" i.e.

only the infamous, he who has no sense of honour, makes much advancement

out of fools.

                                    CHAP. IV. 1-4.                                       105


fools inherit shame; the fruit of their conduct is shame and ever-

more shame.








            The means are not yet exhausted by which the teacher of wisdom

seeks to procure acceptance for his admonitions and warnings, and

to give them emphasis. He has introduced the importance of his

person in order that he might gain the heart of the disciple, and

has presented as speaker, instead of himself, the revered person of

Wisdom herself, who seeks to win, by means of warnings and

promises, the souls of men.

            Chap. iv. 1-4. He now confirms and explains the command to

duty which he has placed at the beginning of the whole (i. 8).

This he does by his own example, for he relates from the history

of his own youth, to the circle of disciples by whom he sees himself

surrounded, what good doctrine his parents had taught him re-

garding the way of life:

                        1 Hear, ye sons, the instruction of a father,

                           And attend that ye may gain understanding;

                        2 For I give to you good doctrine,

                           Forsake not my direction!

                        3 For I was a son to my father,

                           A tender and only (son) in the sight of my mother.

                        4 And he instructed me, and said to me:

                           "Let thine heart hold fast my words:

                        Observe my commandments and live!"


That MyniBA in the address comes here into the place of yniB; hitherto

used, externally denotes that ynb in the progress of these discourses

finds another application: the poet himself is so addressed by his

father. Intentionally he does not say Mk,ybixE (cf. i. 8): he does not

mean the father of each individual among those addressed, but

himself, who is a father in his relation to them as his disciples;

and as he manifests towards them fatherly love, so also he can lay

claim to paternal authority over them. tfadalA is rightly vocalized,

not tfadal;. The words do not give the object of attention, but the

design, the aim. The combination of ideas in hnAyBi tfaDa (cf. i. 2),

106                     THE BOOK OF PROVERBS.


which appears to us singular, loses its strangeness when we remem-

ber that tfd means, according to its etymon, deposition or reception

into the conscience and life. Regarding Hqal,, apprehension, recep-

tion, lesson = doctrine, vid. i. 5.  yTitanA is the perf., which denotes

as fixed and finished what is just now being done, Gesenius,

§ 126, 4.  bzafA, is here synonym of wFanA,  i. 8, and the contrary of

dmawA, xxviii. 4. The relative factum in the perfect, designating

the circumstances under which the event happened, regularly pre-

cedes the chief factum ynirey.ova; see under Gen. i. 2 f. Superficially

understood, the expression 3a would be a platitude; the author

means that the natural legal relation was also confirming itself as a

moral one. It was a relation of many-sided love, according to 3a:

he was esteemed of his mother—ynep;li, used of the reflex in the

judgment, Gen. x. 9, and of loving care, Gen. xvii. 18, means

this—as a tender child, and therefore tenderly to be protected (j`ra  

as Gen. xxxiii. 13), and as an only child, whether he were so in

reality, or was only loved as if he were so. dyHiyA (Aq., Sym.,

Theod., monogenh<j) may with reference to number also mean unice

dilectus (LXX. a]gapw<menoj); cf. Gen. xxii. 2, j~dyHiy; (where the

LXX. translate to>n a]gaphto<n, without therefore having j~dydiy;.

before them).  ynpl is maintained by all the versions; yneb;li is not a

variant.1 The instruction of the father begins with the jussive,

which is pointed2  -j`mAt;yi to distinguish it from j`mot;yi on account of

the ŏ. The LXX. has incorrectly e]reide<tw, as if the word were jmsy;

Symmachus has correctly katexe<tw. The imper. hyeH;v, is, as vii. 2,

Gen. xx. 7, more than hy,H;tiv;; the teacher seeks, along with the

means, at the same time their object: Observe my commandments,

and so become a partaker of life!  The Syriac, however, adds

j~yn,yfe NOwyxiK; ytirAOtv; [and my instruction as the apple of thine eye], a

clause borrowed from vii. 2.

            Vers. 5, 6. The exhortation of the father now specializes itself:

                        5 Get wisdom, get understanding;

                            Forget not and turn not from the words of, my mouth.


            1 In some editions yneb;li is noted as Kerî to ynpl, but erroneously and contrary

to the express evidence of the Masora, which affirms that there are two passages

in which we ought to read not ynpl, but ynbl, viz. Ps. lxxx. 3 and Prov. iv. 3.

            2 The writing of -j`mAt;yi with the grave Metheg (Gaja) and Kamets-Chatuph

(ŏ) is that of Ben Asher ; on the other hand, -j`mot;yi with Cholem (ō) and the

permanent Metheg is that of Ben Naphtali; vid. Michlol 21a (under the verbal

form 25), § 30.

                                  CHAP. IV. 7-9.                                   107


                        6 Forsake her not, so shall she preserve thee;

                           Love her, so shall she keep thee.


Wisdom and understanding are (5a) thought of as objects of

merchandise (cf. xxiii. 23, iii. 14), like the one pearl of great

price, Matt. xiii. 46, and the words of fatherly instruction (5b),

accordingly, as offering this precious possession, or helping to the

acquisition of it. One cannot indeed say correctly yp-yrem;xime Hkwt-lx,

but yp-yrmx rmow.;mi Hkwt-lx (Ps. cii. 5); and in this sense HKaw;Ti-lxa

goes before, or also the accus. object, which in hkwt-lx the author

has in his mind, may, since he continues with FTe-lxa, now not

any longer find expression as such. That the yp-yrmx are the

means of acquiring wisdom is shown in ver. 6, where this continues

to be the primary idea. The verse, consisting of only four words,

ought to be divided by Mugrash;1 the Vav (v) in both halves of

the verse introduces the apodosis imperativi (cf. e.g. iii. 9 f., and

the apodosis prohibitivi, iii. 21 f.). The actual representation of

wisdom, ver. 5, becomes in ver. 6 personal.

            Vers. 7-9. Referring to ver. 5, the father further explains that

wisdom begins with the striving after it, and that this striving is

itself its fundamental beginning:

            7 The beginning of wisdom is "Get wisdom,"

               And with [um, at the price of] all thou hast gotten get understanding.

            8 Esteem her, so shall she lift thee up;

               She will bring thee honour if thou dost embrace her.

            9 She will, put on thine head a graceful garland,

               She will bestow upon thee a glorious diadem.


In the motto of the book, i. 7, the author would say that the fear

of Jahve is that from which all wisdom takes its origin. hOAhy; txar;yi

(i. 7) is the subject, and as such it stands foremost. Here he

means to say what the beginning of wisdom consists in.  hmAk;TA tywixre

is the subject, and stands forth as such. The predicate may also

be read hmAk;HA-hnoq; (=tOnq;), after xvi. 16. The beginning of wis-

dom is (consists in) the getting of wisdom; but the imperative

hneq;, which also Aq., Sym., Theod. (kth?sai), Jerome, Syr., Targ.

express (the LXX. leaves ver. 7 untranslated), is supported by 7b.

Hitzig, after Mercier, De Dieu, and Döderlein, translates the verse


            1 According to correct readings in codd. and older editions, j~r,mwtv has

also indeed Rebia Mugrash, and hAb,hAx<, Mercha (with Zinnorith); vid. Torath

Emeth, p. 47, §'.6 ; Accentuationssystem, xviii. § 1, 2 ; and regarding the Zin-

norith, see Liber Psalmorum Hebraicus by S. Baer, p. xii.

108                    THE BOOK OF PROVERBS.


thus: "the highest thing is wisdom; get wisdom," which Zöckler

approves of; but the reasons which determine him to this render-

ing are subtleties: if the author had wished himself to be so

understood, he ought at least to have written the words hmAk;HAha tywixre.  

But hmAk;HA tywixre is a genitive of relation, as is to be expected from

the relativity of the idea tywixre, and his intention is to say that the

beginning of wisdom consists in the proposition hmAk;HA hneq; (cf. the

similar formula, Eccles. xii. 13); this proposition is truly the lapis

philosophorum, it contains all that is necessary in order to becom-

ing wise. Therefore the Greek sofi<a called itself modestly filo-

sofi<a for a]rxh> au]th?j the Book of Wisdom has, vi. 18, h[ a]lhqesta<th

paidei<aj e]piqumi<a.  In 7b the proposition is expressed which con-

tains the specificum helping to wisdom. The B; denotes price:

give all for wisdom (Matt. xiii. 46, 44); no price is too high, no

sacrifice too great for it.

            Ver. 8. The meaning of the a[p. gegr. lsel;si is determined by

MmeOr in the parallel clause; llasA signifies to raise, exalt, as a way or

dam by heaping up; the Pilpel, here tropical: to value or estimate

highly.  Böttcher interprets well: hold it high in price, raise it

(as a purchaser) always higher, make offer for it upon offer. The

LXX. (approved by Bertheau), perixara<kwson au]th<n, circum-

vallate it, i.e. surround it with a wall (hlAl;so)—a strange and here

unsuitable figure. Hold it high, says the author, and so it will

reward1 thee with a high place, and (with chiastic transposition of

the performance and the consequence) she will honour2 thee if

(e]a<n) thou lovingly embracest her.  qBeHi is used of embracing, in

the pressure of tender love, as in the Canticles ii. 6, viii. 3; the

Piel is related to the Kal as amplexari to amplecti.  Wisdom

exalts her admirers, honours her lovers, and makes a man's appear-

ance pleasant, causing him to be reverenced when he approaches.

Regarding NHe-tyav;li, vid. i. 9.  NGemi, to deliver up (Gen. xiv. 20), to

give up (Hos. xi. 8), is connected in the free poetic manner with

two accusatives, instead of with an accus. and dat. LXX. has

u[peraspi<s^, but one does not defend himself (as with a shield) by

a wreath or crown.


            1 Löwenstein has rightly jmmEvrtv, vid. my preface to Baer's Genesis, p. vii.

            2 We read jd;Bekt, not j~r;B,kt (Hahn) or j~d;Bekt (Löwenstein); the tone

lies on the penult., and the tone-syllable has the point Tsere, as in j~d;ne.yv;, Deut.

xxxii. 7; vid. Michlol 66b.

                                 CHAP. IV. 10-17.                                   109


            Vers. 10-12. There is no reason for the supposition that the

warning which his father gave to the poet now passes over into

warnings given by the poet himself (Hitzig); the admonition of

the father thus far refers only in general to the endeavour after

wisdom, and we are led to expect that the good doctrines which

the father communicates to the son as a viaticum will be further

expanded, and become more and more specific when they take a

new departure.

                        10 Hearken, my son, and receive my sayings,

                             So shall the years of life be increased to thee.

                        11 In the way of wisdom have I taught thee,

                            Guided thee in the paths of rectitude.

                        12 When thou goest, thy step shall not be straitened;

                             And if thou runnest, thou shalt not stumble.


Regarding Hqa (of HqalA) of appropriating reception and taking up

in succum et sanguinem, vid. i. 3; regarding Myy.iHa tOnw;, years not

merely of the duration of life, but of the enjoyment of life, iii. 2;

regarding lGAf;ma (hlAGAf;ma), path (track), ii. 9; regarding the B; of

hrAOh, of the department and subject of instruction, Ps. xxv. 8.

The perfects, ver. 11, are different from yTitanA, 2a; they refer to

rules of life given at an earlier period, which are summarily re-

peated in this address. The way of wisdom is that which leads to

wisdom (Job xxviii. 23); the paths of rectitude, such as trace out

the way which is in accordance with the rule of the good and the

right. If the youth holds to this direction, he will not go on in

darkness or uncertainty with anxious footsteps; and if in youthful

fervour he flies along his course, he will not stumble on any un-

foreseen obstacle and fall.  rcye is as a metaplastic fut. to rracA or

rUc, to be narrow, to straiten, formed as if from rcayA.  The Targ.

after Aruch,1 jHrx qnwt xl thou shalt not need to bind together

(constringere) or to hedge up thy way.

            Vers. 13-17. The exhortations attracting by means of promises,

now become warnings fitted to alarm:

                        13 Hold fast to instruction, let her not go;

                             Keep her, for she is thy life.

                        14 Into the path of the wicked enter not,

                             And walk not in the way of the evil.


            1 [R. Nathan ben Jechiel, A.D. 1106, who is usually styled by the Jewish

writers j`UrfA lfaBa, Auctor Aruch, author of a Talmudical Lexicon.]

110                     THE BOOK OF PROVERBS.


                        15 Avoid it, enter not into it;

                            Turn from it and pass away.

                        16 For they cannot sleep unless they do evil,

                            And they are deprived of sleep unless they bring others to ruin.

                        17 For they eat the bread of wickedness,

                           And they drink the wine of violence.


Elsewhere rsAUm means also self-discipline, or moral religious edu-

cation, i. 3; here discipline, i.e. parental educative counsel. Jr,T, is

the segolated fut. apoc. Hiph. (indic. hP,r;Ta) from tarp, cf. the

imper. Hiph. Jr,h, from harp. hAr,c.;ni is the imper. Kal (not Piel, as

Aben Ezra thinks) with Dagesh dirimens; cf. the verbal substan-

tive hrAc.;ni, Ps. cxli. 3, with similar Dagesh, after the form hhAq;.yi, Gen.

xlix, 10. hrAc.;ni (elsewhere always masc.) is here used in the fem.

as the synonym of the name of wisdom: keep her (instruction),

for she is thy life,1 i.e. the life of thy life. In ver. 14 the godless

(vid. on the root-idea of fwArA under Ps. i. 1) and the habitually

wicked, i.e. the vicious, stand in parallelism; xOB and rw.exi are re-

lated as entering and going on, ingressus and progressus. The

verb rwaxA signifies, like rwayA, to be straight, even, fortunate, whence

rw,x, = Arab. yusâr, happiness, and to step straight out, ix. 6, of

which meanings rw.exi is partly the intensive, as here, partly the

causative, xxiii. 19 (elsewhere causative of the meaning, to be

happy, Gen. xxx. 13). The meaning progredi is not mediated by

a supplementary vydAfAc; the derivative rUwxE (rUw.xa), a step, shows

that it is derived immediately from the root-idea of a movement in a

straight line. Still less justifiable is the rendering by Schultens, ne

vestigia imprimas in via malorum; for the Arab. âththr is denom. of

ithr, rtaxE, the primitive verb roots of which, athr, rtx = rwaxA, are lost.

            Ver. 15. On UhferAP;, avoid it (the way), (opp. zHaxA, Job xvii. 9;

j`maTA, Ps. xvii. 5), see under i. 25. hFAWA, elsewhere (as the Arab.

shatt, to be without measure, insolent) used in malam partem, has

here its fundamental meaning, to go aside. vylAfAme (expressed in

French by de dessus, in Ital. by di sopra) denotes: so that thou

comest not to stand on it.  rbafA means in both cases transire, but

the second instance, "to go beyond (farther)" (cf. 2 Sam. xv. 22,

and under Hab. i. 11), coincides with "to escape, evadere."

            Ver. 16. In the reason here given the perf. may stand in the con-


            1 Punctuate xyhi yKi; the Zinnorith represents the place of the Makkeph, vid.

Torath Emeth, p. 9.

                                 CHAP. IV. 17-19.                                          111


ditional clauses as well as in Virgil's Et si non aliqua nocuisses,

mortuus esses; but the fut., as in Eccles. v. 11, denotes that they

(the MyfirA and the MyfiwAr;) cannot sleep, and are deprived of their

sleep, unless they are continually doing evil and bringing others

into misery; the interruption of this course of conduct, which has

become to them like a second nature, would be as the interruption

of their diet, which makes them ill. For the Kal UlOwk;yi, which

here must have the meaning of the person sinning (cf. ver. 19),

and would be feeble if used of the confirmed transgressors, the

Kerî rightly substitutes the Hiphil  Ulywik;ya, which occurs also 2 Chron.

xxv. 8, there without an object, in the meaning to cause to fall, as

the contrast of rzafA (to help).

            Ver. 17. The second yKi introduces the reason of their bodily

welfare being conditioned by evil-doing. If the poet meant:  they

live on bread which consists in wickedness, i.e. on wickedness as

their bread, then in the parallel sentence he should have used the

word smAHA; the genitives are meant of the means of acquisition:

they live on unrighteous gain, on bread and wine which they

procure by wickedness and by all manner of violence or injustice.

On the etymon of smAHA (Arab. hiamas, durum, asperum, vehementem

esse), vid. Schultens; the plur. MysimAHE belongs to a more recent

epoch (vid. under 2 Sam. xxii. 49 and Ps. xviii. 49). The change

in the tense represents the idea that they having eaten such bread,

set forth such wine, and therewith wash it down.

            Vers. 18, 19. The two ways that lie for his choice before the

youth, are distinguished from one another as light is from dark-


            18 And the path of the just is like the brightness of the morning light,

                 Which shines more and more till the perfect day.

            19 The way of the wicked is deep darkness,

                 They know not at what they stumble.     


The Hebr. style is wont to conceal in its Vav (v) diverse kinds of

logical relations, but the Vav of 18a may suitably stand before

19a, where the discontinuance of this contrast of the two ways

is unsuitable. The displacing of a Vav from its right position is

not indeed without example (see under Ps. xvi. 3); but since

ver. 19 joins itself more easily than ver. 18 to ver. 17 without

missing a particle, thus it is more probable that the two verses are

to be transposed, than that the v of Hraxov; (ver. 17) is to be prefixed to

j`r,D, (ver. 18). Sinning, says ver. 16, has become to the godless as

112                 THE BOOK OF PROVERBS.


a second nature, so that they cannot sleep without it; they must

continually be sinning, adds ver. 17, for thus and not otherwise do

they gain for themselves their daily bread. With reference to this

fearful self-perversion to which wickedness has become a necessity

and a condition of life, the poet further says that the way of the

godless is hlApexEKA,1 as deep darkness, as the entire absence of light:

it cannot be otherwise than that they fall, but they do not at all

know whereat they fall, for they do not at all know wickedness

as such, and have no apprehension of the punishment which from

an inward necessity it brings along with it; on the contrary, the

path of the just is in constantly increasing light—the light of

knowledge, and the light of true happiness which is given2 in and

with knowledge. On hm,.Ba vid. under Isa. ii. 22; it is lOwk;mi, ska<n-

dalon, that is meant, stumbling against which (cf. Lev. xxvi. 37)

they stumble to their fall.  h.gano,3 used elsewhere than in the Bible,

means the morning star (Venus), (Sirach 1. 4, Syr.); when used

in the Bible it means the early dawn, the light of the rising sun,

the morning light, 2 Sam. xxiii. 4, Isa. lxii. 1, which announces

itself in the morning twilight, Dan. vi. 20. The light of this

morning sunshine is rOxvA j`leOh in, going and shining, i.e. becoming

ever brighter. In the connection of rOxvA j`leOh it might be a question


            1 In good MSS. and printed copies the k has the Pathach, as Kimchi states the

rule in Michlol 45a: Htp hlpxKa lk, Htp MynbxKa lk.

            2 Hitzig inverts the order of vers. 18 and 19, and connects the yKi of 16a

immediately with ver. 19 (for the way of the wicked . . .). He moreover

regards vers. 16, 17 as an interpolation, and explains ver. 16 as a gloss trans-

forming the text of ver. 19. "That the wicked commit wickedness," says

Hitzig, "is indeed certain (1 Sam. xxiv. 14), and the warning of ver, 15

ought not to derive its motive from their energy in sinning." But the warning

against the way of the wicked is founded not on their energy in sinning, but on

their bondage to sin: their sleep, their food and drink—their life both when

they sleep and when they wake—is conditioned by sin and is penetrated by

sin. This foundation of the warning furnishes what is needed, and is in

nothing open to objection. And that in vers. 16 and 19 UfreyA xlo, and Ufd;yA xlo

UlOwk;yi and UlweKAyi, hlAz;g;ni and hlApExEKA seem to be alike, does not prove that ver.

16 originated as a parallel text from ver. 19—in the one verse as in the other

the thoughts are original.

            3 Böttcher, under 2 Sam. xxiii. 4, explains h.gano of the brightness striking

against, conquering (cf. Hgn, Jgn) the clouds; but ferire or percutere lies nearer

(cf. fganA, Ezek. xvii. 10, hkAnA, Ps. cxxi. 6, and the Arab. darb, used of strong

sensible impressions), as Silius, iv. 329, says of the light: percussit lumine


                                   CHAP. IV. 20-22.                                 113


whether rOx is regarded as gerundive (Gen. viii. 3, 5), or as

participle (2 Sam. xvi. 5, Jer. xli. 6), or as a participial adjective

(Gen. xxvi. 13, Judg. iv. 24); in the connection of rOxvA j`OlhA, on the

contrary, it is unquestionably the gerundive: the partic. denoting

the progress joins itself either with the partic., Jon. i. 11, or with

the participial adjective, 2 Sam. iii. 1, 2 Chron. xvii. 12, or with

another adjective formation, 2 Sam. xv. 12, Esth. ix. 4 (where

lOdGAv; after ldeGAv; of other places appears to be intended as an adjective,

not after 2 Sam. v. 10 as gerundive).  Thus rOxvA, as also bOFvA, 1

Sam. ii. 26, will be participial after the form wOB, being ashamed

(Ges. § 72, 1); cf. sOB, Zech. x. 5, MOq, 2 Kings xvi. 7. "MOy.ha NOkn;

quite corresponds to the Greek to> staqhro>n th?j h[me<raj, h[ staqhra>

meshmbri<a (as one also says to> staqhro>n th?j nukto<j), and to the

Arabic                 and                       .  The figure is probably de-

rived from the balance (cf. Lucan's Pharsalia, lib. 9: quum car-

dine summo Stat librata dies): before and after midday the

tongue on the balance of the day bends to the left and to the

right, but at the point of midday it stands directly in the midst"

(Fleischer). It is the midday time that is meant, when the clear-

ness of day has reached its fullest intensity,—the point between

increasing and decreasing, when, as we are wont to say, the

sun stands in the zenith (=Arab. samt, the point of support,

i.e. the vertex). Besides Mark iv. 28, there is no biblical pas-

sage which presents like these two a figure of gradual develop-

ment. The progress of blissful knowledge is compared to that

of the clearness of the day till it reaches its midday height, having

reached to which it becomes a knowing of all in God, xxviii. 5,

1 John ii. 20.

            Vers. 20-22. The paternal admonition now takes a new de-


                        20 My son, attend unto my words,

                             Incline thine ear to my sayings.

                        21 Let them not depart from thine eyes;

                             Keep them in the midst of thine heart.

                        22 For they are life to all who get possession of them,

                             And health to their whole body.


Regarding the Hiph. zyli.Hi (for zylhe), ver. 21, formed after the

Chaldee manner like Nyli.hi, Hayni.hi, rGys.ihi, vid. Gesenius, § 72, 9;—Ewald,

§ 114, c, gives to it the meaning of "to mock," for he interchanges

114                    THE BOOK OF PROVERBS.


it with Cylhe, instead of the meaning to take away, efficere ut recedat

(cf. under ii. 15). This supposed causative meaning it has also

here:  may they = may one (vid. under ii. 22) not remove them

from thine eyes; the object is (ver. 20) the words of the paternal

admonition. Hitzig, indeed, observes that "the accusative is not

supplied; "but with greater right it is to be remarked that Uzyli.ya

(fut. Hiph. of zUl) and UzUlyA (fut. Kal of id.) are not one and the

same, and the less so as zyli.hi is not, like Nyl.ihi, intrinsically transi-

tive. Here and there UzyliyA: occurs, but the masoretical and gram-

matical authorities (e.g. Kimchi) demand Uzyl.iiya.  The plur. Mh,yxec;mol;

is continued, 22b, in the sing., for that which is said refers to

each one of the many (iii. 18, 28, 35).  xcAmA is fundamentally an

active conception, like our "fiden," to find; it means to attain, to

produce, to procure, etc. xPer;ma means, according as the m is

understood of the "that = ut" of the action or of the "what" of

its performance, either health or the means of health; here, like

tUxp;ri, iii. 8, not with the underlying conception of sickness, but

of the fluctuations connected with the bodily life of man, which

make needful not only a continual strengthening of it, but also its

being again and again restored. Nothing preserves soul and body

in a healthier state than when we always keep before our eyes and

carry in our hearts the good doctrines; they give to us true guidance

on the way of life:  "Godliness has the promise of this life, and

of that which is to come." 1 Tim. iv. 8.

            Vers. 23-27. After this general preface the exhortation now

becomes special:

            23 Above all other things that are to be guarded, keep thy heart,

                 For out from it life has its issues.

            24 Put away from thee perverseness of mouth,

                And waywardness of lips put far from thee.

            25 Thine eyes should look straight forward,

                And thine eyelids look straight to the end before thee.

            26 Make even the path of thy feet,

                 And let all thy ways be correct.

            27 Turn not aside to the right and to the left;

                 Remove thy foot from evil.

Although rmAw;mi in itself and in this connection may mean the

object to be watchfully avoided (cavendi) (vid. under ii. 20b):

thus the usage of the language lying before us applies it, yet

only as denoting the place of watching or the object observandi;

so that it is not to be thus explained, with Raschi and others: before

                                    CHAP. IV. 23-27.                                    115


all from which one has to protect himself (ab omni re cavenda),

guard thine heart; but: before all that one has to guard (prae omni

re custodienda), guard it as the most precious of possessions com-

mitted to thy trust. The heart, which according to its etymon

denotes that which is substantial (Kernhafte) in man (cf. Arab.

lubb, the kernel of the nut or almond), comes here into view not

as the physical, but as the intellectual, and specially the ethical