THE "ENEMY" IN ISRAELITE WISDOM LITERATURE
the Faculty of the
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
In Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements for the Degree
Doctor of Philosophy
John Keating Wiles
Digitized by Ted Hildebrandt,
Displayed with permission from
Dr. John Keating Wiles
THE "ENEMY" IN ISRAELITE WISDOM LITERATURE
John Keating Wiles
Read and Approved by:
Marvin E. Tate (Chairman)
John Joseph Owens
John D. Watts
Date: August 10, 1982
1. Introduction 1
Personal Enemies in the Psalms 3
A Methodology for Investigating
"Enemies" in the Wisdom Literature 18
Methodological Caveats 22
Contemporary Value of this Study 28
2. Enemy Designations Within the
Wisdom Literature 30
The byvx-Group 33
The fwr-Group 35
The religion of the wicked 36
The demeanor of the wicked 37
The speech of the wicked 39
The allies of the wicked 41
The Neutral Group 45
The Friends and Kinfolk Group 56
The Animals Group 59
The byvx-Group 61
The fwr-Group 66
The Neutral Group 72
The Friends and Kinfolk Group 74
The Animals Group 76
The fwr-Group 78
The Neutral Group 79
The Animals Group 80
The byvx-Group 82
The fwr-Group 87
The wicked in the cult 91
The wicked and the economy 92
The wicked at court 93
The wicked and their speech 94
Wicked friends 94
The wicked and the family 96
The wicked and duplicity 99
The wicked and the fool 100
The Neutral Group 101
The Friends and Kinfolk Group 105
The Animals Group 109
Wisdom of Solomon 110
The byvx-Group 112
The fwr-Group 114
The Neutral Group 118
The Friends and Kinfolk Group 119
The Animals Group 120
3. Derivative Enemies in Wisdom Literature 127
Foolish Characters as Enemies 130
Righteous Characters as Enemies 138
Wisdom and Yahweh as Enemies 141
Righteous Characters as Enemies 150
Satan as an Enemy 156
Yahweh as an Enemy 157
"The Enemy behind the Enemy" 163
Historical Characters as Enemies 171
Dispositions, Actions and Things
as Enemies 172
Fools and Sages as Enemies 176
Wisdom and the Lord as Enemies 179
Wisdom of Solomon 184
Righteous Characters as Enemies 185
Idolatry as an Enemy 186
Creation as an Enemy 188
4. Wise Responses to the Enemy 194
Rejection of Enemy Behavior 195
No Anxiety over Enemies 199
Avoidance of the Enemy 201
Securing Actions in the Face of Enemies 206
Gifts work wonders 207
Heed wisdom 208
Fear Yahweh 209
Love for the Enemy 210
Motives for Wise Responses to the Enemy 218
Fate-fixing actor 219
Yahweh as "midwife" 222
The Friends 228
Response to Satan? 239
Motives behind Sirach's Counsel 278
Response to Wisdom 284
Wisdom of Solomon 285
Welcome to Strangers 285
Responses to Idols and Their Worshipers 287
Motives behind Responses to the Enemy 293
5. Conclusion 299
I. Enemy Designations within the
Wisdom Literature 321
II. Enemy Behavior within the
Wisdom Literature 329
III. Derivative Enemy Designations 350
Biographical Data 363
The wisdom tradition of
way from the dominant Old Testament attitude toward personal
If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat;
and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink;
for you will heap coals of fire on his head,
and Yahweh will reward you.
This instruction, cited by Paul in Romans 12:20, articulates
an ethic of treating enemies in a beneficent manner. It is
perhaps the closest the Old Testament comes to Jesus' com-
mand to love the enemy (Matt. 5:44). A few other passages
in the wisdom literature speak of treating enemies in a
Examples of beneficent responses to enemies may be
adduced in other complexes of Israelite tradition. Exodus
23:4-5 commands one to return the enemy's stray ox or ass
and to help him lift up his overburdened beast.2 Narratives
tell of Joseph aiding his brothers who had conspired to kill
him, to cast him into a pit and to sell him to the
1 Prov. 16:7; 24:17-18; Job 31:29-30.
2 S. Driver, A Critical and Exegetical Commenter on
Deuteronomy (3rd ed.,
p. 250, commenting on Deut. 22:1, the deuteronomic reformu-
lation, calls the Exodus form of the law "an old-world
anticipation of the spirit of Mt. 5:44."
Ishmaelites.3 David spared Saul's life when he was most
vulnerable.4 In the latter case, Saul was evidently sur-
prised by David's behavior for he asked, "If a man finds his
enemy will he let him go away safe?" (I Sam. 24:19). Each
of these examples may be viewed as beneficent responses to a
The wisdom tradition, however, sounds this note most
clearly. The narrative examples of this ethic may perhaps
be gainsaid since David was not dealing with a common enemy
but with Yahweh's anointed,5 and Joseph was acting under the
watchful and subtle guidance of God's providence.6 The
beneficent behavior mandated by Exodus 23:4-5 is somewhat
oblique for the object of neighborly consideration is the
enemy's livestock, not the enemy himself. Why should
3 Gen. 37:18, 24, 28; the whole story comprises chapters
4 I Sam. 24:1-22; 26:1-25. The two stories are doublets
of the same tradition; see K. Koch, Was Ist Formgeschichte?
Methoden der Bibelexegese (3 Aufl., Neukirchen-Vluyn:
Neukirchener Verlag, 1974), pp. 163-181.
5 1 Sam. 24:6; 26:9; in both versions of this saga the
fact that Saul is Yahweh's anointed is the reason given for
6 Gen. 45:4-8; 50:20; G. von Rod argued that the Joseph
story is a wisdom tale in "The Joseph Narrative and. Ancient
Wisdom," in The Problem of the Hexateuch and Other Essays,
trans. by E. Dickens (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1966),
pp. 292-300; and in Genesis: A Commentary, trans. by J.
p. 435; but see also G. Coats, "The Joseph Story and Ancient
Wisdom: A Reappraisal," CBQ 35 (1973), 285-297.
innocent animals suffer merely because neighbors had become
involved in some dispute?
Personal Enemies in the Psalms
Although personal enemies do appear in narrative
materials, law and wisdom literature, they seem to play a
relatively minor role. With the individual laments and
thanksgiving songs the enemies play a major role. They form
one of the three fundamental components of the lament.7
Furthermore, although the Hebrew title of the Psalter
(Mylht) is more properly translated "Praises" there is
a large amount of prayer or petition (tvlpt); approxi-
mately one third of the Psalms are not in fact praises but
laments.8 It is scarcely surprising, therefore, that
enemies appear so frequently in the Psalter.
Because of the major role which enemies play in so many
psalms, impressions of Old Testament attitude toward per-
sonal enemies are most easily formed on the basis of the
Psalter. When it is examined with a view toward discerning
how to treat one's enemies, the results are radically dif-
ferent from the beneficent, or at least non-aggressive,
7 C. Westermann, "The Structure and History of the
Lament in the Old Testament," in Praise and Lament in the
Psalms, trans. by K. Crim and
R. Soulen (
Knox Press, 1981), p. 169 (= "Struktur and Geschichte der
Klage im Alten Testament," ZAW 66 , 44-80).
Eerdmans, 1981), 36.
responses noted in the passages above. For example:
Break thou the arm of the wicked and
seek out his wickedness till thou
0 that thou wouldst slay the wicked, 0 God,
and that men of blood would depart from
men who maliciously defy thee,
who lift themselves up against thee for
Do I not hate them that hate thee, 0 LORD?
And do I not loathe them that rise up
I hate them with perfect hatred;
I count them my enemies.
Little wonder then that many may assume that Jesus'
remark that it was said of old, "You shall love your
neighbor and hate your enemy" (Matt. 5:43), is an accurate
quotation of some Old Testament passage or, at least of
some contemporary Jewish teaching. Such an instruction is
not to be found in Jewish scriptures, however, and nothing
like it has been discovered in rabbinic materials.10 Never-
theless, it is very easy to understand how readers, critical
or otherwise, could conclude that such hostility toward
enemies was precisely the teaching of the Old Testament, and
9 Cf. Psalms 5:11; 7:7, 10; 10:2; 12:4-5; 17:13-14;
25:3; 28:4-5; 31:18-19; 35:1-8, 26; 55:10; 58:7-12; 59:6,
12-14; 69:23-29; 70:3-4; 71:13; 79:6, 12; 83:10-19; 94:2;
109:7-20, 29-30; 129:5-7; 137:7-9; 140:10-12; 143:12.
10 T. Manson, The Sayings of Jesus as Recorded in the
Gospels according to St. Matthew and St. Luke Arranged with
Introduction and Commentary (London: SCM Press, 1949),
(depending on one's understanding of biblical authority)
rightly or wrongly so taught.11
Frequency of references to enemies is one factor which
has created a situation in which studies of enemies in the
Old Testament are focused almost exclusively on the Psalms.
The second factor in this focus is the problem that the
enemies are very difficult to identify. Since the psalmists
most often speak simply of various enemies and evildoers,
but almost never identify them explicitly,12 commentators
traditionally suggest various identities.
Many suggestions have been advanced in efforts to
identify the personal enemies in the individual laments.
The earliest suggestions are witnessed in the scattered
historical notes of some of the psalm titles.13 Of course,
11 Cf. J. Laney, "A Fresh Look at the Imprecatory
Psalms," Bibliotheca Sacra 138 (1981), 35-45; F. Hesse,
"The Evaluation and Authority of Old Testament Texts," trans.
by J. Wharton in Essays on Old Testament Hermeneutics, ed.
by C. Westermann, English trans. ed. by J. Maya (2nd ed.,
The Authority of the Old
Press, 1967), pp. 234-241.
12 Although this is especially true with regard to the
individual laments, it is also true in national laments as
in Psalm 124. In the royal psalms it is equally difficult
to decide. Who are the enemies in Psalms 18:38-46 and
89:43? Granted that they are national geopolitical enemies,
but given the history of the Israelite state, that could be
13 Suggested enemies are
Absalom in Psalm 3;
Benjaminite in Psalm 7; all (David's) enemies and Saul in
Psalm 18; Abimelech in Psalm 34; Doeg the Edomite in
most modern scholars reject these titles as far as any
historical value is concerned, but the settings in various
situations of David's life played a major role in attempts
to identify the enemies for most of the church's history.14
Even after the rise of critical studies of the Old Testament
and its wholesale rejection of Davidic authorship in favor
of late dating of the psalms, historical questions remained
decisive for the identity of the enemies. The goal was to
reconstruct the historical occasion in the life of a
psalmist which evoked each psalm. One component of this
effort were attempts to identify the enemies. They were
commonly identified as impious Jews who harassed their
pious neighbors, the psalmists, frequently in the Maccabean
Psalm 52; the Ziphites in Psalm 54; the Philistines in
Psalm 56; Saul in Psalm 57; and Saul and the men he sent
to watch David's house in Psalm 59.
14 Cf. St. Augustine on the Psalms, Vol. I-II, trans.
and annotated by Hebgin and Corrigan Westminster, Maryland:
The Newman Press, 1960, 1961); St. Basil, "Homily on Psalm
in St. Basil: Exegetic Homilies,
D. C.: The
Press, 1963), pp. 175-180; The Commentary of Rabbi David
Kimhi on Psalms CXX-CL, ed. and trans. by J. Baker and E.
Nicholson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973);
J. Calvin, Commentary on the Book of Psalms, 5 vols., trans.
by J. Anderson (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1949); M. Luther,
"Psalm 101," trans. by A. von Rohr Sauer in Luther's Works
13, ed. by J. Pelikan (
House, 1956), 143-224.
15 Cf. J. Olshausen, Die Psalmen (
1853); C. Toy, "On Maccabean Psalms," Unitarian Review and
Religious Magazine XXVI, No. 1 (July, 1886), 1-21; B. Duhm,
The work of Hermann Gunkel16 was (and remains) of
pivotal significance for Psalm study. With his thesis that
psalm poetry was originally cultic, sociological-
institutional concerns were destined to be raised. These
new questions were finally to undermine all attempts to
reconstruct some historical occasion in the life of a
psalmist which evoked a psalm. The task became the attempt
to discern the cultic occasion for which a psalm was com-
posed and, more importantly, performed.
This attempt led to the recognition (so obvious today)
that compositions were socially customary and appropriate to
certain situations in life and out of place in others. If
the various kinds ("forms" or "Gattungen") of psalms were
recognized, then their social settings could be determined.
The dominant questions concerned what was typical of various
situations and their correlative literature rather than what
unique, irrepeatable situation must be presupposed in order
Die Psalmen (
Siebeck], 1899); but S. Driver, An Introduction to the
Literature of the Old
(1957), pp. 387-389; and A. Kirkpatrick, The Psalms
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1902) took a more
moderate view, even allowing for some psalms of Davidic
16 H. Gunkel, Die Psalmen Ubersetzt und Erklart
(5 Aufl., Gottingen: Vendenhoeck und Ruprecht, 1968,
1 Aufl., 1926); H. Gunkel und J. Begrich, Einleitung in die
Psalmen: Die Gattungen
der religiosen Lyrik
(Gottingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 1933); henceforth,
Die Psalmen and Einleitung respectively.
to understand a psalm. The psalms, it was seen, make sense
and "work" for many people and groups in many historical
settings because they bring to expression what is typical
rather than unique.
In spite of Gunkel's recognition that psalm poetry
emerged from and belonged to the cult, however, he remained
a man of his age. He believed that the psalms present in
the Psalter were in fact private compositions by and for
(post-exilic) pious groups of laity and had no living con-
nection with the temple itself. They were modeled after
psalms which were used in the (Solomonic) temple, but were
not themselves written for temple worship. Because of this
belief, Gunkel's handling of the enemy problem did not
represent any significant departure from pre-form-critical
Sigmund Mowinckel,18 a pupil of Gunkel, followed his
teacher in seeing psalms as cultic compositions, but he
moved one important step. He maintained that the psalms
actually found in the Psalter were not free and private
compositions modeled after earlier cultic compositions, but
were in fact written for and used in the pre-exilic temple
services. It was not necessary to reconstruct hypothetical
17 Gunkel, Einleitung, pp. 209-211.
18 S. Mowinckel, Psalmenstudien, 6 Vols. (Kristiania:
In kommission bei Jacob Dybwad, 191): and The Psalms in
(Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1962).
models based on post-exilic imitations. The poems of the
canonical Psalter were overwhelmingly the actual Psalms in
Israel's Worship, not the psalms in the worship of "'con-
venticles' of pious laymen.”19
If the vast majority of the Psalms were in fact pre-
exilic and not (late) post-exilic compositions, then
solutions of the enemy problem along the lines of sectarian
controversies in post-exilic Judaism were out of the question.
Clearly, Mowinckel had to explain the enemies differently
than had his predecessors. Early on in his career he offered
the thesis that the "workers of iniquity" (Nvx-ylfvp)
encountered in the individual laments, which he understood
primarily as psalms requesting healing from sickness
(Krankheitpsalmen),20 were sorcerers (and allied demons)
whose curses had caused the illnesses of the psalmists.21
19 The Psalms in
of Mowinckel's originally Norwegian work titled Offersang og
Sangoffer which is literally translated "Song of sacrifice
and Sacrifice of song" or "Offering song and Song offering";
see "Author's Preface to the English Edition" of the work,
p. xxiii. The phrase "'conventicles' of pious laymen" above
is drawn from the same work, p. 29.
20 Mowinckel, Psalmenstudien, Vol. I, 9-12, 98-103; see
especially p. 101 where he states, "in Wirklichkeit durften
die allermeisten individuellen Klagepsalmen Krankheitpsalmen
sein.—Wenigstensiersich lassen sie sichalle von dieser Annahme
21 Mowinckel, Psalmenstudien, Vol. I, 33-58, 76-133; see
especially pp. 76-77 where he states, "Bedeutet awan Zauber,
so sind die po’ale awan die Zauberer, und diese Auntater
sind in den betreffenden Psalmen nur eine andere Bezeichnung
der Feinde, uber die der Beter klagt.” Cf. also idem.,
Some scholars rejected Mowinckel's identification of the
personal enemies with sorcerers,22 but the perspectives from
which a solution might be sought (for any problem in the
Psalms) had shifted decisively. Although he might be disputed
on such points of detail the disputes were determined by a
new agenda.23 The most important of the suggestions con-
cerning the identifications of the enemies have remained
firmly anchored to institutional and temple activities.
Hans Schmidt24 proposed an alternative to Mowinckel's
identification of the enemies. While Mowinckel dealt with
"Zwei Beobachtung zum Deutung der Nv,xA-ylefEPo," ZAW 43
22 Cf. L. Aubert, "Les psaumes dans le culte d'Israel,"
Revue de Theologie et de Philosophie NS 15 (1927), 224-230;
Gunkel, Einleitung, pp. 196-211; Birkeland, The Evildoers
in the Book of Psalms (
1955), pp. 40-46, henceforth, Evildoers.
23 For example, Mowinckel's hypothetical New Year Festi-
val may be rejected only to be replaced by an equally com-
prehensive Covenant Festival (A. Weiser, The Psalms: A Com-
mentary, trans. by H. Hartwell
A Cultic History of the Old Testament, trans. by G. Buswell
Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag des Erziehungsvereins,
1978]). Scholars seem exceptionally ready to name festivals
which the Old Testament never mentions and to disregard those
that it does, at least for the purposes of nomenclature. Are
the modern names better than those given by the Israelites
24 H. Schmidt, Das Gebet der Angeklagten im Alten
Testament (Giessen: Alfred Topelmann, 1928); and Die
Psalmen (J. C. B. Mohr [Paul Siebeck], 754).
most individual laments from a "medical" perspective, Schmidt
dealt with them from a judicial one. They were uttered by
people accused of a crime and were connected with some sort
of cultic ordeal; hence the frequent assertions of innocence
found in the laments.25 On this view the one who laments
would be a defendant while the enemies would be plaintiffs
or false witnesses. Although their emphases are different
from Schmidt the judicial perspective has also been pursued
by Delekat26 and Beyerlin.27
Harris Birkeland28 brought forth a serious objection to
all attempts to identify the personal enemies in the Psalter.
He argued that "the enemies of the individual were in prin-
ciple identical with those of the nation, viz. the gen-
tiles."29 Beginning with five individual psalms which
explicitly identified the enemies as gentiles (Myvg),
25 For example, Psalms 7:4-5; 17:1-5; 26:1, 4-7, 11.
26 L. Delekat, Asylie und Schutzorakel an Zionheiligtum
(Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1962).
27 W. Beyerlin, Die Rettung der Bedrangten in den
Feindpsalmen der Einzelnen auf institutionelle Zusammenhange
untersucht (G5ttingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 1970).
28 H. Birkeland, Die Feinde des Individuums in der
1933); and Evildoers.
29 Birkeland, Evildoers, p. 9.
strangers (Myrz) and peoples (Mymf),30 he maintained
that the enemies in these five individual psalms were no
different than those in others of the individual psalms.31
Therefore, the enemies in other individual psalms must be
foreign foes of the nation of
who opposed the psalmists.
A second factor in Birkeland's argument was that all
royal psalms which mention enemies32 refer to national
enemies, as well as a number of psalms in which "I" appears
as a subject but a collective interpretation is more
likely.33 Corollary to this is the fact that "I" sometimes
appears in psalms which are national psalms.34 Birkeland
reached the conclusion that
in more than half of all I[ndividual] P(salms]
containing enemies, these enemies must necessarily
be gentiles because it is expressly stated in
almost all of them, and even in the rest of them
30 Psalms 9:6, 16, 18, 20, 21; 10:16; 43:1 speak of
(M ) yvg; 54:5 speaks of Myrz although there is a
variant reading Mydz (see BHS), and the same line appears
in Psalm 86:14 reading Mydz; and 56:8 speaks of Mymf;
cf. Kraus, Psalmen; Gunkel, Die Psalmen; Weiser, and
31 Birkeland, Evildoers, p. 14.
32 Psalms 18; 20; 21; 28; 61; 63; 89; 144; I Sam.
33 Psalms 36; 66; 75; 77; 94; 118; 123; 130; 131.
34 Psalms 44:7, 16; 74:12; 60:11; 83:14.
the enemies are fairly generally recognized as
. . . The situation, then, is that we know
who are the enemies in more than 20 psalms. In
the other half of all I[ndividual] P[salms] they
are described in the same way. From this fact
only one method of research can be deduced: we
have to suppose, at least as a working hypothesis,
that the enemies are of the same kind in those
psalms in which their identity is not expressly
stated, as in those psalms in which it is
Birkeland's point that the enemies in five individual
psalms are gentiles must be granted. The texts are quite
clear. With the royal psalms likewise the enemies are most
reasonably taken to be national (although the Israelite
kings did have some problems with "internal security").
The conclusion that all other enemies must be identical
because they are described the same way is, however, not
warranted. The fact that the psalms were composed and used
in the cult means that the enemies must have been, capable of
more than one meaning. The reason that descriptions of
enemies are the same in all the psalms which mention them
is not because the enemies are everywhere identical, but in
order that the psalms might not be restricted to a single
kind of enemy. If the psalms were to be used in the cult
then they had to be capable of referring to more than one
kind of enemy.
35 Birkeland, Evildoers, p. 15.
A second, consideration which speaks against Birkeland's
conclusion is the fact that Israelites lamented and gave
thanks for personal events and circumstances as well as
national. The Old Testament is perfectly clear at this
point. Jeremiah's laments36 contain descriptions of his
enemies which could appear just as easily in the Psalter,
yet they are demonstrably not gentiles; they are the "men of
Anathoth."37 Job's descriptions of his personal enemies do
not refer to foreigners but to people within his own com-
munity who are his enemies.38 Surely Jeremiah and Job were
not the only ones to describe their personal home-grown
enemies like kings described their national gentile enemies.
Finally, the observation should be made that Israelites
were not as doctrinnaire in their use of the different forms
of psalms as modern scholars have been. The anachronism of
Hannah uttering a royal song of thanksgiving (I Sam. 2:1-10)
did not create any apparent problems of verisimilitude for
the writer(s) of I Samuel. Evidently Israelites (even
36 Jer. 11:18-12:6; 15:10-21; 17:14-18; 18:18-23;
20:7-13; 20:14-18. Cf. S. Balentine, "Jeremiah, Prophet of
Prayer," Review and Expositor 78 (1981), 331-344; W. Baum-
Die Klagegedichte des Jeremias (
Topelmann, 1917); P. Bonnard, Le Psautier selon Jeremie
(Paris: Les Editions du Cerf, 1960); J. Berridge, Prophet,
People and the Word of God (Zurich: EVZ-Verlag, 1970).
37 Jer. 11:21, 23.
38 Cf. Job 6:15-27; 16:10, 20; 19:14-19; 30:1-15.
women) were able to use psalms which were form-critically
inappropriate.39 If the different forms were mutually
exclusive, then Hezekiah should have used a psalm which was
more clearly royal in its orientation (Is. 38:10-20).
Birkeland's identification of all enemies is reductionistic.
They were (and are) open to more than a single referent.
The "Myth and
pretation which denies the possibility of reference to
personal enemies in the individual psalms. On this view,
the "I" is the king who suffers and is resurrected in the
39 Some use of royal psalms by commoners in post-exilic
have been used and would not have been preserved. Although
it is historically unlikely that Hannah could have used a
psalm (before there was any royalty in
fact that she could be portrayed doing so in a pre-exilic
text means that such use of royal psalms by non-royal
figures was certainly conceivable during the monarchical
period. It should also be remembered that, in principle
at least, the royal psalmists could have reworked pre-
monarchic individual psalms in order to make them royal.
was, after all, a temple in
a king, and a temple without psalms would be an interesting
phenomenon. In the case of Hannah's song only the con-
clusion ("he will give strength to his king, and exalt the
power of his anointed.") requires a royal understanding.
All the rest of the psalm is perfectly intelligible as an
individual song of thanksgiving.
170; A. Johnson, "The Role of the King in the
Cultus," in The Labyrinth: Further Studies in the Relation
between Myth and Ritual in the Ancient World, ed. by S.
Hooke (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1935), pp. 71-111.
J. Eaton, Kingship and the Psalms (
Alec R. Allenson, 1970). His extensive royal interpreta-
though not the same as the "Myth and
would essentially rule out personal enemies in the Psalms;
they would rather be enemies of the king.
cultic drama. The enemies, therefore, cannot be real human
beings, but are rather mythic powers who attack the god-
king. This position may have some merit when explicit
mention is made of Sheol as an active and potent reality,41
but the Old Testament nowhere speaks of the king playing the
role of any god (certainly not Yahweh) in a cultic drama.42
One other option which would seem to deny the possi-
bility of reference to personal enemies is that of Othmar
Keel.43 He interprets the enemies psychoanalytically as
physical personifications of the distress of the psalmist.
While their ancient near eastern neighbors could objectify
their anxieties (Angste) and apprehensions (Sorgen) by
speaking of various gods and
space for such projections was limited by Yahweh's intoler-
ance; it was restricted to Yahweh and the human (and animal)
world. Therefore, the enemies must be seen much more as
representatives of a sinister world of evil than
as individuals in our sense. In order to be able
to describe the evil and hostility with which the
41 Cf. Psalms 18:6; 89:49.
42 Cf. M. Noth, "God, King, and Nation in the Old
Testament," in The Laws in the Pentateuch and Other Essays,
by D. Ap-Thomas (
1967), P. 175.
43 O. Keel, Feinde and Gottesleugner: Studien zum Image
der Widersacher in den Individualpsalmen (Stuttgart Verlag
katholisches Bibelwerk, 1969).
supplicant found himself confronted these supply
an abundance of comparisons and metaphors.44
Undoubtedly the enemies in the individual psalms can
function this way45 and, presumably, they could have in
likely be effective if there were known examples of such
people and actions in the external world. By way of illus-
tration, the descriptions of enemies who "dig a pit"46 is
probably to be taken metaphorically, but it could be used
only because this spoke of a real danger which even the
legal tradition recognized.47 Laws are not formulated to
regulate metaphorical digging of pits, but real pits.
This brief survey48 of suggested identities of the
enemies in the individual psalms may be summarized in three
44 “ . . . Reprasentanten einer unheimlicher Welt des
Bosen als Individuen im unserm Sinne. Um die Bosheit and
Feindseligkeit, denen sich der Beter gegenubersieht
schildern zu konnen, dedarf dieeser einer Menge von
Vergleichen und Metaphern.” Keel, p. 91.
45 S. Meyer, "The Psalms and Personal Counseling,"
Journal of Psychology and Theology 2 (Winter 1974), 26-30.
46 Psalms 7:16; 9:16; 35:7.
47 Exod. 21:33-34.
48 Helpful summaries of research on the Psalms may
Criticism, ed. by J. Hayes (
press, 1974), pp. 179-223; R. Clements, A Century of Old
Testament Study (London: Lutterworth Press, 1976), pp. 76-
P; Keel, pp. 11-35; and B. Feininger, "A Decade of German
Psalm-Criticism," Journal for the Study of the Old Testament
20 (1981), 91-103.
brief statements. (1) The enemies are not unique historical
figures or groups, but are stereotypical and multivalent.
(2) They are sometimes, but by no means always, gentiles.
(3) Israelites evidently did have personal enemies whom they
described as the individual psalms describe the enemies.
A Methodology for Investigating
"Enemies" in Wisdom Literature
Note has already been taken above of the fact that
personal enemies seem to play a relatively minor role in
wisdom literature, as well as other complexes of Israelite
tradition. Yet, they are prolific in the Psalms; indeed, at
times the impression may emerge that the psalmists suffered
from paranoia. Were the sages oblivious to such folk as the
enemies and their attacks? How could they notice such
varied phenomena as trade,49 sexual promiscuity,50
etiquette,51 legal procedure,52 wealth and poverty,53
49 Prov. 20:10; 14, 23; Sir. 26:29-27:3.
50 Prov. 7:1-27; 23:26-28; 30:20.
51 Prov. 25:6-7; Sir. 30; 31-32:13.
52 Prov. 18:17; 25:7c-10.
53 Prov. 10:15; 11:4, 24, 28; 13:7, 8; 14:21; 16:19;
18:11; 19:4, 17; 22:1, 9; 23:4; 28:6; 30:7-9; Qoh. 5:9-10;
Sir. 4:8-10; 13:24; 14:3-10; 30:16.
animal husbandry,54 alcohol abuse,55 and even friendship56
and scarcely mention the problem of enemies? Was their
social world so different from the psalmists', or did they
perceive it differently?
This investigation intends to demonstrate that the sages
were in fact aware of the folk designated and described as
enemies in the Psalms. The method to be used begins by
noting all the designations of enemies within the individual
laments, thanksgiving songs and songs of confidence in the
Psalter.57 The enemy designations thus determined are then
sought within the wisdom literature,58 and they form the
54 Prov. 27:23-27.
55 Prov. 23:19-21, 29-35,
56 Prov. 3:28-29; 6:1-5, 29; 11:9, 12; 13:20; 14:20, 21;
16:29; 17:17, 18; 18:19, 24; 19:4, 6, 7; 21:10; 22:11,
24-25; 24:28-29; 25:7c-10, 17, 18, 20; 26:18-19; 27:6, 10,
14, 17; 28:7; 29:3, 5; Job 2-11; 6:14, 15, 27; 12:4; 16:20,
21; 17:5; 19:13, 14, 21; 22:6; 31:9; 42:10; Qoh. 4:4, 9-12;
Sir. 5:12; 6:17; 7:12; 9:14; 10:6; 12:9; 13:21; 15:5;
20:23; 25:18; 37:1-6; 41:18, 21.
57 0f course, individual judgments may differ on a given
psalm, but the selections listed below represent a reason-
able consensus; they form the basis of the enemy designa-
tions and behaviors gleaned in preparing this study. Psalms
3; 4; 5; 6; 7; 9-10; 11; 12; 13; 14; 17; 18; 22; 23; 26; 27;
28; 30; 31; 32; 34; 35; 36; 7,61; 39; 40; 41; 42-43; 52; 53;
54; 55; 56; 57; 58; 59; 61; E2; 63; 64; 69; 70; 71; 73; 86;
88; 102; 109; 119; 138; 139; 140; 141; 142; 143; cf. Kraus,
Psalmen; Gunkel, Die Psalmen; Weiser, and Anderson at the
58 See "Appendix I: Enemy Designations within the
Wisdom Literature." Lists of enemy designations in the
Psalms may be found in Keel, pp. 94-98; and L. Ruppert,
basis of the discussion in Chapter 2, "Enemy Designations in
the Wisdom Literature."
A second avenue to the location of enemies in wisdom
literature is to note which figures are described as enemies
are described in the Psalter. This involves, of course,
determining how enemies' actions and dispositions are pre-
sented in the Psalms59 and then locating any of these
actions and dispositions which appear in the wisdom litera-
ture.60 As will be seen, some figures (such as the "lord
of anger" in Prov. 22:24) appear as subjects of these
actions or dispositions who did not appear in the discussion
of enemy designations. These new enemies have been called
"derivative enemies,”61 and they form the basis for the
discussion in Chapter 3, "Derivative Enemies in the Wisdom
Following the groundwork laid by locating enemy desig-
nations and folk who act like enemies within the wisdom
literature, the possibility of asking after wise responses
to the enemy will emerge. Are beneficent (Prov. 25:21-22)
Der leidende Gerechte und seine Feinde: Eine Wortfeldunter-
suchung (Wurzburg: Echter Verlag, 1973), pp. 7-97.
59 Ruppert, pp. 111-168.
60 See "Appendix II: Enemy Behaviors within the Wisdom
61 See "Appendix III: Derivative Enemies Designations."
and non-aggressive62 responses to one's enemy characteristic
in wisdom literature? Or, are they rather isolated "old-
world anticipation[s] of the spirit of Matthew 5:44"?63
Are they "unique" within the wisdom literature as in the Old
Testament in general?64 What presuppositions allow or
demand these, or other, responses to the enemy on the part
of the wise? Chapter 4, "Wise Responses to the Enemy," will
address these issues.
James Crenshaw has asked, "How can one determine what
is distinctive of Israelite sages in the area of ethics?"65
His question is particularly significant for this investi-
gation because it is placed in the midst of a discussion of
the declaration of innocence in Job 31 where he observes,
"Nothing in the catalog of vices falls into the category of
distinctive wisdom behavior, "66 and these vices certainly
include rejoicing over an enemy's calamity. Such a state-
ment requires that the final chapter attempt to assess the
62 Prov. 16:7; 24:17-18; Job 31:29-30.
63 See n. 2 above.
64 H. Ringgren, "byaxA; ‘ayabh; byeOx ‘oyehb;
hbAyxe ‘ebhah," Theological Dictionary of the Old Testa-
ment, tool. I, ed. by G. Botterweck and H. Ringgren, trans.
Willis (rev. ed.,
65 J. Crenshaw, Old Testament Wisdom: An Introduction
(Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1981), p. 15.
66 Crenshaw, p. 15.
validity of the opening thesis of this investigation (on
page 1 above) that "the
wisdom tradition of
in a remarkable way from the dominant Old Testament attitude
toward personal enemies." In light of that evaluation it
will be possible to confirm, modify or reject the initial
The methodology outlined above makes a very important
assumption; namely, that the sages who were responsible for
the wisdom literature of the Old Testament were Israelites.
They were just as Israelite as prophets, priests, psalmists,
kings and others in ancient
but it has been disputed.67 As Israelites, they used the
same language as other Israelites. Undoubtedly, each sphere
of Israelite society used some technical terms,68 but the
lexical stock used to designate and describe enemies in the
Psalter is hardly technical. They are simply Hebrew words
which any Israelite might be expected to know and use;
67 See G. Wright, The Biblical Doctrine of Man (
SCM Press, 1954), p. 154, who evaluates wisdom as "lacking
almost completely in the typically Israelite conception of
68 For example, hls and Hcnml for the
psalmists, hvhy-Mxn for prophets, tmvy tvm for
judges or lawgivers, xmF for priests. Interestingly,
attempts to determine a technical vocabulary for sages have
not met with a great deal of success; cf. R. Whybray, The
in the Old Testament (
hence, the rationale for the proposed methodology. The
enemies are not particularly noticeable in wisdom literature
because they do not tend to cluster as they do in the Psalms
where they constitute one of "the three determinant
elements"69 in the Psalter's most abundantly witnessed
forms. Because the psalmists used conventional Hebrew to
designate and describe their enemies, however, the assump-
tion is reasonable that sages would draw from much the same
lexical stock when they spoke about the same or similar
In the cases of the wisdom books of Sirach and the
Wisdom of Solomon, the linguistic situation is complicated
by the fact that these documents are known primarily in
Greek. As confessed by Sirach's grandson, and translator, his
book was originally written in Hebrew, but the Greek text is
found in the larger canon of the Old Testament. Hebrew
textual witnesses (none complete) have been discovered in the
modern period.70 Because of this peculiar situation in
Sirach's textual transmission the Greek text is used as
primary in this study with Hebrew fragments used for
69 See n. 7 above.
(Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1904); Y. Yadin, The Ben Sirs Scroll
of the Book, 1965).
illumination where appropriate. The Wisdom of Solomon was
originally written in Greek and has been preserved in that
This linguistic situation requires another step in
locating enemy designations and behaviors. They will be
determined by sifting through all the possible translations
of the enemy vocabulary as witnessed by Hatch-Redpath.72
Because of the vagaries of the Septuagint's translation
techniques,73 this procedure does widen the field con-
siderably, but the alternative of moving from vocabulary
found in the Greek Psalter directly to Sirach and the Wisdom
71 D. Winston, The Wisdom of Solomon: A New Translation
with Introduction and
Doubleday and Company, 1979), pp. 14-18. Some have argued
for an original Hebrew (or Aramaic), but their arguments
have not won much agreement. See E. Speiser, "The Hebrew
Origin of the First Part of the Book of Wisdom," Jewish
Quarterly Review 14 (1923-24), 455-437; and F. Zimmermann,
"The Book Wisdom: Its Language and Character," Jewish
Quarterly Review 57 (1966), 1-27, 101-135,
72 E. Hatch and H. Redpath, A Concordance to the
Septuagint and the Other Greek Versions of the Old Testament
including the Apocryphal Books), with Supplement by-
Redpath (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1897, 1906)l and E.
Redpath Concordance to the Septuagint (Jerusalem: Dugith
Publishers, Baptist House, n. d.).
73 J. Barr, "Vocalization and the Analysis of Hebrew
among Ancient Translators," VTS 16 (1967), 1-11; J. Blau,
"Zum Hebraisch der Ubersetzer des Altes Testaments," VT 6
(1956), 98-100; P. Katz, "Zur Ubersetzungstechnik der LXX,"
Die Welt des Orients 2 (1956), 267-273; D. Riddle, "The
Logic of the Theory of Translation Greek," JBL 51 (1932),
13-30; J. Rife, "The Mechanics of Translation Greek," JBL
52 (1933), 244-252.
of Solomon runs a greater risk of missing some expressions
which could be important. Hence, caution must be exercised
in discussing the Greek enemy designations and descriptions
Related to the linguistic caveat just noted is the fact
that this methodology neither assumes nor argues for influ-
ence from wisdom on other spheres of Israelite life nor vice
versa. Common language, geography and history between
various groups means that they are related somehow and that
these relations will exert some kinds of influence, usually
mutual. Claims of influence from one realm of society on
another realm of the same society are notoriously difficult
to demonstrate74 because commonalities may be due to the
simple fact that different groups in the same social system
are in fact part of one single system. Israelite prophets
(or other groups) may sound like Israelite sages simply
74 Cf. J. Crenshaw, "Method in Determining Wisdom
Influence on 'Historical Literature'," JBL 88 (1969), 129-
142, for the difficulties in tracing influence from wisdom
to other kinds of literature; W. McKane, Prophets and Wise
Men (Naperville, Ill.: Alec R. Allenson, Inc., 1965), for
an attempt to trace influence from another sphere upon
wisdom; for statements on the commonalities between wisdom
and other complexes of Israelite tradition see M. Tate, Jr.,
A Study of the Wise Men of
Prophets (Th.D. Dissertation, The Southern-Baptist Theo-
logical Seminary, 1958), passim, but especially pp. 395-408;
R. Murphy, "Wisdom--Theses and Hypotheses," in Israelite
Wisdom: Theological and Literary Essays in Honor of Samuel
Terrien, ed. by J. Gammie, W. Brueggemann, W. Humphreys, and
J.. Ward (Missoula, Montana: Scholars Press, 1978), pp. 39-
40; D. Morgan, Wisdom in the Old Testament Traditions
(Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1981), is a very good study of
this problem of the relations between wisdom and other com-
plexes of Old Testament traditions.
because they are Israelite. The reverse is, of course,
Thus far no attempt has been made to define wisdom.
Terms such as "wisdom literature," "wisdom tradition,"
"wisdom," "wise" and "sages" have been used without explicit
definition. This same phenomenon is often encountered in
studies of wisdom for the problem of definition is still
awaiting a satisfactory solution.75 Proposed definitions
range anywhere from the convention which simply means to
designate the five wisdom books of Proverbs, Job, Qoheleth,
Sirach and the Wisdom of Solomon which are bound together by
a "mysterious ingredient"76 to definitions in terms of a
system of thought (either "secular," "religious" or both),77
75 J. Crenshaw, Old Testament Wisdom: An Introduction,
pp. 16-19; cf. idem., "Method in Determining Wisdom Influ-
ence on 'Historral Literature'"; and "Prolegomena," in
Studies in Ancient Israelite Wisdom, ed. by J. Crenshaw
(New York: KTAV, 1976), pp. 3-5; and B. Kovacs,
Sociological-Structural Constraints upon Wisdom: The
Spatial and Temporal Matrix of Proverbs 15:26-22:16, Vol. I
(Ph. D. Dissertation, Vanderbilt University, 1978), 31-.104.
76 Crenshaw, Old Testament Wisdom: An Introduction,
77 Cf., for example,
altestamentlichen Weisheit," ZAW NS 10 (1933), 177-204;
H. Schmid, Wesen und Geschichte der Weisheit: eine
Untersuchung zur Altorientalischen und Israelitischen
Weisheitliteratur (Berlin: Verlag Alfred Topelmann, 1966);
G. von Rad, Old Testament Theology, Vol. I, trans. by D.
Stalker (New-York: Harper and Row, 1962), pp. 418-459;
idem., Wisdom in Israel (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1972);
1117—Gese, Lehre und Wirklichkeit in der Alten Weisheit:
Studien zu den Spruchen Salomos und zu dem Buche Hiob
a pattern of life78 or a sociological phenomenon,79 among
Most definitions of wisdom, of course, are not one-
dimensional but are varying combinations of several factors
noted above. This study does not seek to solve this
troublesome problem. Instead, a consensus view has been
followed that whatever wisdom may be, it is certainly to be
found in the books of Proverbs, Job, Qoheleth, Sirach and
the Wisdom of Solomon.81
One final caveat is in order. That Israelite wisdom
has much in common with similar
phenomena in ancient
(Tubingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 1958); and Crenshaw, "Method in
Determining Wisdom Influence on 'Historical Literature',"
78 Cf., for example, MaKane, Prophets and Wise Men.
79 Cf., for example, R. Gordis, "The Social Background
of Wisdom Literature," in Poets Prophets and Sages:
Essays in Biblical
University Press, 1971), pp. 160-197; and H. Hermisson,
Studien zur Israelitischen Spruchweisheit (Neukirchen-
Vluyn: Neukirchzner Verlag, 1968).
80 See Kovacs, Vol. I, 31-104, for a discussion of the
various ways in which definitions of wisdom have been
formulated; he discusses thirteen different perspectives
from which attempts have been suggested.
81Crenshaw, Old Testament Wisdom: An Introduction,
p. 17; R. Murphy, Wisdom Literature: Job, Proverbs, Ruth,
1981), pp. 3-4.
immediately self-evident with wisdom literature than any
other in the Old Testament. Because of this state of affairs,
it is quite frequent to find
discussions of "Wisdom in
and the Ancient Near East."82 This study does not pursue the
problem of enemies in the ancient near eastern texts for
three reasons. First, this investigator lacks the linguistic
competence to carry out the task properly. Second, methodo-
logically this restriction forces the investigation to deal
what is commonly true in the ancient near east. Third,
considerations of space would prohibit more than a cursory
treatment of the extensive ancient near eastern literature.
Contemporary Value of This Study
To say that the contemporary world is pluralistic has
become a commonplace. The indications seem to be that while
the globe will grow increasingly smaller due to communi-
cations, travel, interdependence of economies and many other
developments, its peoples will become increasingly pluralis-
tic. The "global village" will scarcely be a village in
terms of shared values, patterns of living, political
persuasions or religions.
82 The title of Supplements to Vetus Testamentum, Vol.
III, ed. by M. Noth and Thomas Leiden: E. J. Brill,
This increasing pluralism, of course, brings with it
certain advantages--so the conventional wisdom goes--
advantages including opportunities of openness, new percep-
tions of old problems, breakdown of triumphalisms, to name
a few. The dark side of this growing situation is that
opportunities for tension, hostility and enmity also will
rise. One person's now freedom in a pluralistic world is
another's way of life threatened. More people are more
likely to have more opportunities to perceive enemies than
This study may allow for some reflection on how to deal
with enemies. Perhaps the historical and cultural distance
of the modern student from the Israelite sages will offer a
certain amount of "safe" space in which to experiment
imaginatively with various stances within the context of
enemies, their attacks and wisdom. If such proves true in
even a limited way, then the investigation will have been
personally rewarding. Only the reader can make that
ENEMY DESIGNATIONS WITHIN WISDOM LITERATURE
The task of this chapter is to analyse the data
compiled in Appendix I, "Enemy Designations within Wisdom
Literature." All occurrences of enemy designations in the
wisdom writings of Proverbs, Job, Qoheleth, Sirach and
Wisdom of Solomon are listed there. The following analysis
intends to delineate as many of the social locations of the
folk branded with enemy designations as possible. In
addition to social locations, attention will be directed to
the literary contexts of these designations for the several
writers-compilers reveal various perceptions of these folk
through their formal placement of enemy designations.
One obvious task of analysis is organization. This
discussion will follow the categories developed by Othmar
Keel and Lothar Ruppert in their studies of enemies in the
Psalms.1 Both scholars see two fundamental groups which
they designate as the "byvx" and "fwr-groups." The
first is comprised of virtual synonyms of byvx ("enemy")
or terms which, although not synonymous, bespeak simple
1 0. Keel, Feinde und Gottesleugner: Studien zum Image
der Widersacher in den
Katholisches Bibelwerk, 1965); L. Tuppert, Der leidende
Gerechte und seine Feinde: Eine Wortfelduntersuchung
(Wurzburg: Echter Verlag, 1973).
hostility irrespective of moral or religious stance. The
"fwr-group" is made up of synonyms of fwr ("wicked")
or terms focusing attention on some moral or religious stance
which issues in enmity. Two other groups used by both these
scholars are the "family and friendship group" whereby
enemies are explicitly designated as either family or friends
and the "animals group" which speaks of enemies with the
metaphors or similes of animal figures. Ruppert adds a fifth
category which he calls the "neutral group." This includes
several words which are recognizable as enemy designations
only by their appearance in contexts clearly treating of
hostile figures. Otherwise, the members of this group may
have nothing to do with enmity.2 Although these categories
of enemy designations were developed in studies of the
Psalms, they provide a relatively coherent structure for
this examination of wisdom literature as well.
2 The problem of the enemies in the Psalter has a long
history of study; it is now recognized that the enemies form
an integral topic in certain forms of psalmody (cf. C.
Westermann, "Struktur and Geschichte der Klage im Alten
Testament," ZAW 66 , 44-80). Hence, it is reasonable
to include such terms as Mdx, wyx and Mdx-ynb in
a study such as Ruppert's. In wisdom literature, however,
there is no such recognition. Therefore, only such
"neutral" terms as, for example, rz and rw which may be
more clearly related to enmity and which provide more pre-
cision than would terms such as wyx have been included.
The book of Proverbs contains two basic kinds of
material: longer didactic compositions (primarily in ch.
1-9) and shorter meshalim (primarily in ch. 10-31). The
many meshalim stand quite independently of one another as so
many "pearls on a string." With this material, footholds
for analysis are limited to considerations such as paral-
lelism and syntax within each individual mashal.3 The
longer didactic compositions, on the other hand, provide
somewhat greater breadth for analysis insofar as their very
3 The various superscriptions (1:1; 10:1; 24:23; 25:1;
30:1; 31:1) as well as certain other phenomena such as the
independent acrostic of 31:10-31, the dependence of 22:17-
24:22 upon the Egyptian "Instruction of Amenemope" (cf. O.
Eissfeldt, The Old Testament: An Introduction, trans. by
the predominance of antithetic parallelism in ch. 10-15 and
synonymous or synthetic parallelism in 16:1-22:16, and
numerous examples of catch-word arrangement and other
paronomastic devices, point to the conclusion that the book
is in fact an anthology of several collections (cf. U.
Die ältesten Spruchsammlungen in
Vandenhoeck Ruprecht, 1962]). As "collections" however,
the contents show no unmistakable signs of intentional
development beyond that offered by their individual members.
There seems to be no sure reason why one mashal should have
led to the next, except in rare occasions (e.g., 26:4-5).
That there is, or was, some kind of architectonic
structure to the book does seem probable (cf. P. Skehan,
"A Single Editor for the Whole Book of Proverbs," Studies
in Israelite Poetry and
Biblical Association, 1971]), but it is equally probable
that such a structure is recognizable and exegetically
significant only in its broadest outlines. Thus, the
"Hymn to the Good Wife" (31:10-31) forms the conclusion to
the book in both MT and the Greek text, while 30:1-14 and
30:15-31:9 may occupy different places in the book's
length allows for more development of thought and expres-
sion. They allow for more connections between various terms
to be drawn or for greater description of individual terms
to be developed.4 With these fundamental distinctions in
mind, attention may be directed to the enemy designations
within the book of Proverbs.
Of the five references to personal enemies
(byvx, xnvW) in the book of Proverbs, one is a simple
saying,5 two are admonitions with motive clauses,6 and two
are observations.7 The saying and admonitions are inter-
esting insofar as they provide an insight into the sages'
4 Of course, a longer composition may have developed by
expanding a simple mashal, but McKane's analysis of the
instruction genre seems more likely (cf. W. McKane,
Proverbs: A New Approach [
Press, 1970] pp.51-182, 262-412). Even if the older form
critical explanation is followed, however, the fact remains
that they cannot be broken up into so many independent
sayings as can the collections in 10:1-22:16 and 24:23-31:9.
6 24:17-18; 25:21-22. Of course, 24:17-18 might be
designated as part of the larger instruction comprising
22:17-24:22; cf. McKane, pp. 369-406. Interest is here
focused on the immediate passage rather than the whole
instruction so it is more appropriate to consider it an
7 26:24-26; 27:6. In view of the negative jussive
construction of 26:25 (Nmxt-lx ), 26:24-26 is arguably
an admonition rather than an observation. The jussive is
subordinated to the thrust of the observation so it is best
taken as observation with an admonitory motif.
ethic vis-a-vis enemies, but the present discussion is
concerned with the identity of the enemy. In this regard,
they offer no guidance; presumably, the enemy in question is
self-evident. With the observations, however, descriptions
of the enemy are provided. Hence, these must be examined
A hater makes himself unknown with his lips,
and sets deceit in his innards;
When he makes his voice gracious, do not rely
for seven abominations are in his heart.
Hatred is concealed with guile,
his evil is uncovered in assembly.
Reliable are the wounds of a friend,
while plentiful are the kisses of a hater.
The xnvW of these two observations is a classic
example of duplicity. The descriptions are not identical,
but they are coherent. Fundamentally, this figure is
deceptive. The deception turns on an interior-exterior
axis. Externally all is pleasant and gracious, even
affectionate, while internally the hater is full of deceit,
abominations, guile and evil. The xnvW disguises
interior reality with speech and kisses; the means of
falsification in both observations involve the organs of
speech, A further complication in recognizing the xnVW
is that his true disposition is revealed not in the daily
course of events but "in assembly"; that is, in view of
the use of "abominations" in verse 25, probably a cultic
The "wicked" (fwr) are the most prominent foes in
the book of Proverbs; the designation occurs seventy-six
times in the book. Such a large number of appearances makes
it very difficult to identify the figure with any precision.
One step in the direction of clarifying this term is pro-
vided by the poetic form of the material with its ever-
present parallelism. By means of parallelism seven expres-
sions may be identified as synonyms for the wicked: the
"treacherous" (Mydgvb),9 "evil ones" (Myfr),10
"scoffer" (Cl),11 "godless" (Ntbvx ),12 “worthless
witness" (lfylb-df),13 "evildoers" (Myfrm),14
and "unjust man" (lvf-wyx).15 As antonyms, six
8 L. Perdue, Wisdom and Cult: A Critical Analysis of
the Views of Cult in the
the Ancient Near East (Missoula: Scholars Press, 1977),
9 2:22; 21:18.
10 4:14, 14:19; 24:20.
expressions appear: "good men" (MybvF),16 "faithful"
(Mynvmx ),17 "those who keep instruction"
(hrvt-yrmvw),18 the "blameless" (Mymt),19 the
"upright" (Myrwy),20 and, most often, the "righteous"
(Myqydc).21 It is interesting that the wise do not appear
as antonyms of the wicked, nor do any fools appear as
The religion of the wicked. Insofar as the righteous
are those who stand in a sound, healthy, proper relationship
to Yahweh,22 the wicked are those who stand outside a viable
relationship to Yahweh. The righteous are those who are
declared righteous, while the wicked are those declared
16 2:20; 14:19.
19 2:21; 11:5.
20 2:21; 11:11; 12:6; 14:11; 15:8; 21:18,29; 29:27
21 2:20; 3:33; 10:3, 6, 7, 11, 16, 20, 24, 25, 28, 30,
32; 11:8, 10, 23, 31; 12:5, 7, 10, 12, 21, 26; 13:5, 9, 25;
14:19, 32; 15:6, 28, 29; 17:15; 18:5; 21:12, 18; 24:15, 16;
25:26; 28:1, 12, 28; 29:2, 7, 16, 27.
22 B. Kovacs, Sociological-Structural Constraints upla
Wisdom: The Spatial and Temporal Matrix of Proverbs 15:28-
22:16 (Ph.d. Dissertation, Vanderbelt University, 1978),
pp. 383, 399, 402.
wicked.23 These observations, however, are hardly any aid
in an attempt to delineate the wicked further. The next
step must be to see how the wicked reveal themselves.
The wicked have access to the cult, but their partici-
pation is abominable for they sacrifice with ulterior
motives.24 For them the cult is a means to some other end
rather than an authentic expression of non-instrumental
worship. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to recog-
nize the wicked by cultic behavior since the evaluation of
"abomination" is Yahweh's prerogative.25
The demeanor of the wicked. In terms of their demeanor
the wicked have haughty eyes, a proud heart, and their face
makes a bold, or perhaps harsh, appearance.26 In spite of
such bravado, however, the mashal tradition humorously
observes that the wicked flee when no one pursues; the
righteous under such circumstances feel confident as a
23 H. Schmid, Wesen und Geschichte der Weisheit: Eine
Untersuch zur Altorientalischen und Israelitischen
1966), p. 160.
24 21:27; cf. 15:8.
25 15:8; 21:27 MT reads simply hbfvt, but the Greek
reads bdelugma kuri&.
26 21:4, 29.
The wicked are also recognizable in their behavior
toward others. They overturn common virtues. A neighbor of
the wicked finds no help from them for their appetite craves
harm.28 As the admonition of Proverbs 24:15-16 shows, they
characteristically lie in wait against the righteous and
Lie not in wait as a wicked man against the
dwelling of the righteous;
do not violence to his home;
for a righteous man falls seven times, and
but the wicked are overthrown by
calamity. Proverbs 24:15-16
Of course, these signs are often hard to detect until
it is too late to avoid disaster. Nevertheless, there is
a hint of the wicked person's distortion; they give them-
selves away by mistreating their animals.
A righteous man has regard for the life of
but the mercy of the wicked is cruel.
Their "mercy" then reveals itself for the cruelty it really
is. Presumably they think they can get by with such
behavior toward animals since "dumb beasts" are seldom ever
known to talk back to their master.29
29 The wicked are clearly not students of the Torah,
else they would know of Balaam's ass, Num. 22:28.
The speech of the wicked. The appearances in the
mashal literature indicate that the greatest danger posed by
the wicked is their speech. Their mouth conceals violence
and is perverted;30 they are like springs bubbling forth
harm and injury.31 If wisdom is the "art of steering,"32
then the "steering" of the wicked is deceitful.33 No wonder
towns can be overthrown by their mouth.34
The words of the wicked lie in wait for blood,
but the mouth of the upright delivers men.
Their very words are bloody ambushes!
Most likely, the danger posed by the speech of the
wicked is related not to common gossip but to the legal
setting where false or distorted speech and counsel can
quite literally destroy others. At least three sayings
clearly presuppose the judicial life of a community.
A wicked man accepts a bribe from the bosom
to pervert the ways of justice.
A worthless witness mocks at justice,
and the mouth of the wicked devours
iniquity. Proverbs 19:28
30 Prov. 10:6, 11, 32.
32 W. Zimmerli, "The place and Limit of Wisdom in the
Framework of the Old Testament Theology," Scottish Journal
of Theology 17 (1964), 149.
The violence of the wicked will sweep them
because they refuse to do what is just.
A fourth saying also probably reflects a legal setting when
it observes that the wicked "brings shame and reproach."35
The most dangerous social position for the wicked is
clearly in the circles of high authority. Such wicked
authorities are named as "ruler" (lwvm)36 and "ministers"
(Mytrwm).37 Again, it is interesting that expressions
such as "counselor" (Cfvy) and "wise men" (MymkH) do
not appear. The danger posed by wicked rulers and ministers
is that they are responsible for the administration of
justice,38 and it is noted that
A righteous man knows the rights, of the poor;
a wicked man does not understand such
Thus the wicked may be characterized generally as those
who stand outside a valid relationship to Yahweh. Their
35 13:5; on wyxby as "to bring shame" see P. Ackroyd,
"A Note on the Hebrew Roots wxb and wvb," JTS 43
(1942), 160; cf. 27:11 where JrH reflects a legal
36 28:15; 29:12; cf. 29:2, 16.
38 H. Boecker, Law and the Administration of Justice in
the Old Testament and Ancient East, trans. by J. Moiser
worship is inauthentic and their bravado false. They over-
turn normal values of neighborliness and common decency, and
they wreak havoc in the judicial life of the community by
their malevolent speech and outright distortion of the legal
system. They are able to do such things because they func-
tion at the highest levels of government and society.
The allies of the wicked. Of course, the wicked have
much in common with others who stand as obstacles to the
system of justice. The mashal literature mentions several
kinds of undesirable witnesses: "lying" (Mybzk),39
"worthless" (lfylb) "gratuitous" (MnH),41 and
"false witnesses" (Myrqw-df).42 Such witnesses are
deceptive,43 they breathe out lies ,44 and others are often
enticed by their lips.45
Some "violent folk" (smH wyx) appear who seek to
"entice" (htpy) their friends into "a way that is not
good."46 Another passage speaks expansively of sinners
42 6:19; 12:17; 14:5; 19:5, 9; 25:19.
44 6:19; 14:5; 19:5, 9.
(MyxFH) who seduce (htp) simple youth to join them
in a life of banditry.
My son, if sinners entice you,
do not consent.
If they say, "Come with us, let us lie in
wait for blood,
let us wantonly ambush the innocent;
like Sheol let us swallow them alive
and whole, like those who go down to
we shall find all precious goods,
we shall fill our houses with spoil;
throw in your lot among us,
we will all have one purse"--
my son, do not walk in the way with them
hold back your foot from their paths;
for their feet run to evil,
and they make haste to shed blood.
For in vain is a net spread
in the sight of any bird;
but these men lie in wait for their own blood,
they set an ambush for their own lives.
Such are the ways of all who get gain by
it takes away the life of its possessors.
The final verse reveals that these sinners are all
those who make inordinate and expedient profit (fcvb
fcb).47 Related characters are those who rob their own
parents (vmxv vybx lzvg)48 and the "workers of
iniquity" (Nvx-ylfvp) who are dismayed when justice
47 1:19; cf. 15:27. These characters may also stand
behind the false weights and measures (20:10, 23) which
create profits so quickly and unfairly. At any rate,
someone very much like them is responsible.
Likewise dangerous to the legal system are the "lying
tongue" (rqw Nvwl)50 and the "treacherous"
(Mydgvb)51 who are unreliable and untrustworthy.52
Yahweh will ruin their words.53 Of course, such false words
and speakers would present little problem in the long run
were it not for the fact that
An evildoer listens to wicked lips;
and a liar gives heed to a mischievous
Eager hearing of false reports is ultimately just as
damaging to the judicial system and community health as the
false reports themselves.
In the less specific and more common realm of daily
life such false speech is also encountered and abhorred.
"Lying lips" (rqw-ytpW) are an abomination to Yahweh
and are used to conceal hatred.54 The lying tongue can be
used to gain wealth, fleeting though it may be,55 or it can
50 6:17; 12:19.
51 2:22; 11:3, 6; 13:2, 15; 21:18; 22:12; 23:28; 25:19.
54 10:18; 12:22; cf. 26:24.
work in conjunction with the "flattering mouth"
(qlH-hp) for the ruin of its hated victims.56
A few other designations which belong most appropri-
ately in the fwr-group seem to have little, if anything,
to do with worship, speech or the judicial setting. Two
sayings are interesting in that they are naming formulae:
The haughty, arrogant man--"scoffer" is
who acts with overreaching pride.
Whoever plans to do evil,
to him they shall call, "Lord of devices!"
The proud and overbearing (Myxg) also belong to the
fwr—group. Proverbs 15:25 gives little indication as to
their identity apart from the contrast with the widow whose
boundaries Yahweh protects. The term seems to be used with
somewhat greater clarity in Proverbs 16:19 where it may
refer to victorious warriors who "divide spoil."57
The final member of this group of enemies is one who
oppresses (qwvf) the poor.58 Of course, there always
exists the danger that members of the social strata above
the poor will take advantage of them in innumerable ways
57 0n llw qlH cf. Gen. 49:27; Exod. 15:9; Judg.
5:30; Isa. 9:2; 53:12; Psalm 68:13; BDB, p. 323; KBL,
58 Prov. 14:31; 22:16; 28:3.
(a situation no less true in
mashal-users, however, were not so enamored by a romantic
view of the proletariat that they neglected to note that the
poor sometimes oppressed one another.60
The Neutral Group
The concept of the "stranger" (rz) is particularly
interesting because of its ambiguity. This figure is not
always a negative one; at times it is precisely the stranger
who praises the wise.
Let a stranger praise you, but not your mouth,
a foreigner, but not your lips.
The difficulty with strangers is that they are an
unknown quantity. One can never know for how long they
might be in the community. Most likely their customs are
unusual and unconventional. Perhaps their values, always
much more difficult to detect, are likewise unconventional.
Hence, financial transactions with them ought to be avoided
The word rz, however, may not always carry an ethnic
sense. It may refer to one who is an "outsider" from the
59 14:31; 22:16.
61 11:15; 20:16; 27:13.
perspective of the mores of the community.62 This may be
the case with the "stranger" mentioned in Proverbs 6:1 where
it is paralleled by "neighbor" (fr). Here again, though,
the point at issue is still financial dealings with such
The "strange woman" (hrz hwx) is a problem
peculiar to Proverbs. She was clearly a troublesome figure
for the circle(s) responsible for Proverbs 1-9, not to
mention latter day commentators. At least four interpre-
tations have been proposed: a common prostitute, a cult
prostitute, the unfaithful (foreign) wife of a Hebrew, and
Astarte or some other fertility goddess.63
The first appearance of this figure is in Proverbs
2:16-19 which is part of an instruction comprising the whole
62 L. Snijders, "The Meaning of rz in the Old Testa-
ment," OTS 10 (1954), 63f., 78, 79.
63 Kovacs, p. 252; cf. G. Bostrom, Proverbastudien die
Weisheit and das Fremde
Weib in Spr. 1-9
Gleerup, 1934); McKane, pp. 264-288, 314-320, 326-331, 334-
341, 365-368; B. Lang, Die weisheit Lehrrede: Eine
Untersuch von Spruche
be werc erlag, 1972), pp. 87-99; Perdue, pp. 146-155;
J. Burnham, Women in the Book of Proverbs (Th. M. Thesis,
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1956), pp. 56-81;
Tate, Jr., A Study of the Wise Men of
to the Prophets (Th.D. Dissertation, The Southern Baptist
Theological Seminary, 1958), pp. 355-360; N. Habel, "The
Symbolism of Wisdom in Proverbs 1-9," Interpretation 26
(1972), 131-157; H. Ringgren, Word and Wisdom: Studies in
the Hypostatization of Divine Qualities and Functions in
the Ancient Near East (Lund: Hakan Ohlssons Boktryckeri,
chapter.64 Verse 16 introduces the "strange woman" from
whom the pupil will be delivered if he heeds the words of
the teacher.65 Verses 17-19 describe this woman as one
who forsakes the companion of her youth
and forgets the covenant of her God;
for her house sinks down to death,
and her paths to the shades;
none who go to her come back
nor do they regain the paths of life.
This woman is evidently unfaithful to her marriage.
The use of hyhlx (her God) rather than hvhy (Yahweh)
is striking since the latter is characteristic of Proverbs
1-9. Yet, the God in question must be Yahweh who was a
witness to the covenant between a man and the wife of his
youth.66 Whoever falls prey to this woman is led inevitably
to involvement "with her in her estrangement from
society. . . . They take a journey to the land of no
64 As McKane, pp. 278-279, notes the adherence of this
chapter to the instruction genre is rather loose; there are
no imperatives, and it lacks "concrete, authoritive instruc-
tion on specific matters." Nevertheless, "the formal
structure of the Instruction is the key to the analysis of
65 Note the Mx (if) clauses of vv. 1, 3 and 4 on which
the zx (then) clauses of vv. 5 and 9 are conditioned.
66 Mal. 2:14; otherwise, the "covenant" may refer to the
commandment against adultery (Exod. 20:14; Deut. 5:18)
belonged to Yahweh's covenant with
67 McKane, p. 288.
The instruction of Proverbs 5 is wholly devoted to the
issue of adultery. The masculines of verses 9, 10 and 17
(MyrHx, yrzkx, Myrz, yrkn) are troublesome.
Are these associates of the "strange woman"? Or, do
liaisons with her lead to ruin at the hands of these
foreigners? The difficulty stems in part from the fact
that the aim of the instruction is to warn against promis-
cuous behavior. What "descriptions" there are occur in the
motivations (vv. 3-6, 9-14) and the rhetorical question of
verse 20 which, from a formal standpoint, are subordinate
parts of the chapter. More important are the descriptions
of the joys of the young man's wife which are integrally
related to the imperatives and jussives (vv. 15, 17-19)
essential to the instruction genre.68 Most likely the
chapter has in view adulteresses in general who are typified
by the "strange woman."
Although the "strange woman" (hrz hwx) does not
appear in the instruction of Proverbs 6:20-35, the passage
is often interpreted in association with her, primarily on
the basis of the appearance of the "foreign woman"
(hyrkn) who is parallel to the "strange woman"
68 McKane, pp. 1-10.
elsewhere.69 In Proverbs 6:24 the parallel designation is
"evil woman" (fr twx).70
The issue may, of course, be complicated if verses 20-
35 are not unitary but composite.71 On literary grounds,
however, few good reasons can be produced for excluding any
verse from the passage. The instruction genre is char-
acterized by imperatives and jussives as in verses 20, 21
and 25, and reasons why such advice should be followed as in
verses 22-24 and 26-35.72 It seems much more likely,
69 Prov. 2:16; 5:20; 7:5.
70 BHS proposes to emend frA ("evil") to fare ("neigh-
bor") on the basis of the Greek reading of upandrou
(cf. also v. 29, MT reading vhfr twx and Greek
reading gunaika upandron); another suggestion by BHS
is to emend fr twx to hrz hwx, on the basis of
Prov. 7:5. The latter suggestion has no textual support
while the former represents only a different vocalization
of the same consonantal text. MT should probably be read
since, as McKane, p. 328, notes, "the expression would have
to be ‘eset re’aka."
71 R. Whybray, Wisdom in Proverbs: The Concept of
Wisdom in Proverbs 1-9 (
1965), pp. 48-49, excludes vv. 23, 26-31 and 33-35 on
(unconvincing) literary critical grounds. Bostrom, pp.
143f., cited by McKane, p. 328, argues that vv. 20-26 should
be dealt with separately from vv. 27-35. His reasons are
evidently ideological, at least to Judge from McKane's
observation on p. 329: "Bostrom would perhaps not have
argued the lack of unity in vv, 20-35 so rigidly if he had
no had the special concern of advancing his theory of the
‘issa zara. She is promiscuous in a context of cultic devo-
tion (this is his theory), but the description of adultery
in vv. 27-35 cannot be fitted into such a framework, and so
it must be separated cleanly from the ‘issa zara passages."
72 See McKane, p. 3; cf. J. Crenshaw, Old Testament
Wisdom: An Introduction (
p. 21, who argues concerning this passage, "when he wants
therefore, that verses 20-35 are in fact a unity warning
against the foreign (v. 24) wife of a neighbor (v. 29) who
In the three passages relating to the "strange woman"
which have been examined, the interpretation which has
seemed most cogent is that she is an unfaithful foreigner
married to an Israelite. Proverbs 6:26 excludes the inter-
pretation of her as a common prostitute (hnvz) for her
price is a man's life rather than a mere loaf of bread. The
references to her in Proverbs 2:16-19; 5:1-22 and 6:20-35
contain nothing which demands any cultic perspective.73 An
unfaithful foreigner married to an Israelite would fit each
of the passages.
The instruction of Proverbs 7:1-27 contains the last
explicit reference to the "strange woman." The didactic
narrative of verses 6-23 describes her making a pitch to an
to make his point decisively this sage quotes a proverb."
Whybray's rigid use of grammatical person as a literary
critical criterion leads him astray. The questions of
vv. 27-28 and 30 are certainly not addressed to some third
party but to the "my son" of v. 20.
73 So also Perdue who remarks concerning 2:16-19 that
"the identity of the 'Strange Woman' in this context as a
prostitute or temple harlot (is) only a suggestive possi-
bility" (p. 147); concerning 5:1-22 that "the text contains
nothing that would allow us to decide whether she is to be
regarded as a prostitute for hire or a temple priestess"
(p. 148); and concerning 6:20-35, "she is easily identified
as an Israelite adulteress" (p. 149).
unsuspecting youth.74 The reference to sacrifices
(Mymlw-yHbz) and vows (yrdn) in verse 14 is, of
course, cultic and may indicate that her invitation to
sexual intercourse is a cultic invitation. Such an inter-
pretation is dependent upon translating verse 14b in a
future perfect tense: "Today I shall have fulfilled my
vows."75 Yet, the Hebrew probably translates more
naturally, "Today I have fulfilled my vows.76 If this
translation be correct then she is claiming that she has
performed her cultic duties and now seeks the young man
(ostensibly) to share her peace offerings. The communion
meal is then a pretext.
Verses 6-7 of this didactic narrative pose another
possible cultic reference. The Hebrew text presents the
wisdom teacher77 looking out the window of his house
74 On ytp see Chapter 3 below.
75 So Perdue, p. 149; cf. McKane, pp. 221, 339; R.
Scott, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes: Introduction, Translation,
and Notes (
1965), p. 64.
76 Taking the perfect verb ytmlw "to represent
actions, events, or states, which although completed in the
past, nevertheless extend their influence into the present"
106g). Cf. RSV, KJV,
77 Perdue, p. 149, states that "these verses describe
either 'Mistress Wisdom' or the 'Strange Woman'." In fact,
they describe either the "strange woman" (so LXX) or the
wisdom teacher who is the antecedent of the first common
singular forms in vv. 1-2 and 24 while "Mistress Wisdom"
speaks she refers to herself in first person, not third;
is referred to as a third person in v. 4. When Wisdom
observing (ytpqwn) the disastrous encounter between
the young man and the "strange woman." The Greek text,
however, reads third person (parakuptousa), and
thereby presents the "strange woman" looking out the
window.78 This woman who "looks out the window" has been
connected with the fertility goddess Aphrodite
parakuptousa of Cyprus.79 If the Greek text is followed
then the "strange woman" must be identified as
a sacral priestess or a devotee of a fertility
goddess who dresses in her sacral garb and
takes to the streets in order to induce
young man to join her in fertility rites.80
Following the Greek text does make a cultic interpre-
tation quite likely, but should the Greek text be preferred
cf. 1:22-33; 8:1-36; 9:5, 11. If this were a ech of
"Mistress Wisdom" 7:4 would read, "Say to me, ‘you are my
sister,' and call insight your intimate friend."
78 The full Hebrew text of vv. 6-7 translates,
For in the window of my house,
through my window-lattice I have looked
and I saw among the simple;
I perceived among the youthful sons one
The Greek text, on the other hand, translates,
For out of the window of her house
into the streets she peeped out,
she would see him among the simple youth,
a young man lacking sense.
79 So Perdue, p. 149, following Bostrom and W. Albright,
"Some Canaanite-Phoenician Sources of Hebrew Wisdom," VTS 3
80 Perdue, p. 149.
to MT? In light of two factors, preference of the Greek
seems doubtful. First, the character of the Septuagint
Proverbs is such that
the greatest caution should be exercised in
employing LXX to elucidate or emend difficult
portions of MT. To use LXX in these circum-
stances in order to recover an "original" Hebrew
text is in fact to invent a Hebrew text which
never at any time existed. . . "For the
explanation of minor deviations in the LXX
Proverbs from MT textual criticism has, indeed,
very little help to afford, and any arguing
which neglects the translator as a creative
factor is very likely to lead astray."81
In this case the Hebrew is not difficult to read or under-
stand at all. The best reason to follow the Greek text may
well be the desire to find cultic dimensions in the picture
of the "strange woman."82
The second factor which argues against reading with the
Greek text against the Hebrew follows from this character
of the Greek text. Its translator(s) may have been fol-
lowing an exegetical tradition which allegorically
81 McKane, pp. 34-35; in the last sentence of the above
citation McKane is quoting G. Gerlemann (cf. G. Gerlemann,
"The Septuagint Proverbs as a Hellenistic Document," OTS 8
, 15-27; and Studies in the LXX, III: Proverbs
Prov. 7:6 under his category, "Where the deviation of LXX
from MT derives from exegetical presuppositions or from a
striving after what are thought to be more fitting senti-
ments than those expressed by MT."
82 The Syriac evidently agrees with the Greek (see BHS),
but it may have been influenced by the LXX; cf. Eissfeldt,
actualized the warnings about the "strange woman."83 This
exegetical move may be seen at
really refers to "all powers which could estrange the member
of this brotherhood."84
Not only at
tion current but in Greek speaking Judaism as well. The
Greek text of Proverbs 2:17-19 evidences this when it
translates the Hebrew hrz hwx ("strange woman") by
kakh boulh ("bad counsel”), and "the 'Madam Folly' in
Proverbs 9 LXX receives features of the strange woman . . .
which she did not possess in the Hebrew version."85
The objection might well be raised here that these
examples of allegorical actualization of the "strange woman"
are simply updating what was already very much like
83 Lang, p. 89, "erst vom zweiten vorchristlichen
Jahrhundert an haben wir Belege fur eine allegorigische
Aktualisierun der Warnungen vor dem fremden Frau.”
84 Lang, p. 90, ". . . alle Krafte, die das Mitglied der
Bruderschaft dieser entfremden konnten."--Lang is referring
to 4 Q 184 in J. Allegro, ed., Discoveries in the Judaean
Desert of the Jordan V (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968).
82-85; see Lang, p. 89, n. 7 for further bibliography.
85 Lang, p. 90, ". . . erhalt die 'Frau Torheit' in
Spr 9 LXX Zuge der fremden Frau . . . . die sie in der
hebraischen Version nicht besass." These new features that
Lang mentions are the additions to Prov. 9:18 which derive
from 5:15-18. The additions translate,
but turn away, do not delay in the place,
lest you set your name upon her;
for this would pass over a strange water
and overflow a strange river.
But keep away from a strange water,
and do not drink from a strange spring,
so that you may live a long time,
and life might still be bestowed upon you.
allegory. The objection loses force, however, when it is
noted that another writer who lived in the same milieu and
stood squarely in the mainstream of the wisdom tradition did
not follow this exegetical procedure. Sirach's translator
rendered his grandfather's Hebrew hrz hwx ("strange
woman" ) as gunaiki etairizomenon ( "loose woman," Sir.
9:3 ) and as gunaikoj etairoj ("a woman who is a harlot, "
This should not be surprising for Sirach's grandson was
simply following the ancient wisdom tradition's warnings
against promiscuous sexual behavior. Such warnings are
common in ancient near eastern wisdom literature, especially
in the instruction genre, as far back as Ptah-Hotep.86 The
"strange woman" in Proverbs 1-9, even chapter 7, is best
taken as a heightened presentation of a woman who presents
a particularly alluring appeal for the folly of illicit
sexual relations. The warning is against adultery with her,
not her foreign status nor her cultic affiliation.
Only one mashal seems to refer to the "strange woman."
A deep pit is the mouth of strange
with whomever Yahweh is angry, he will
86 See J.
Hotep," Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old
Testament, by J. Pritchard (2nd
The difference, of course, is that only here does the
figure appear in the plural. It is possible that this
saying is older than the development of the stock figure of
the "strange women" found in Proverbs 1-9. The warning is
against foreign women in general.87 The limitations of the
simple two line mashal exclude any extended description.
The Friends and Kinfolk Group
Although the mashal literature generally shows a great
sensitivity to the positive value of friends and kinfolk and
offers guidelines for maintaining and enhancing such rela-
tionships,88 it also notes the fact that there are times
when friends and relatives may become enemies.
This is often the case with the poor.
All the brothers of a poor man hate him;
how much more are his friends distant
87 So also McKane, p. 571.
88 R. Cook, The Neighbor Concept in the Old Testament
(Ph.D. Dissertation The Southern Baptist Theological
Seminary, 1980), pp. 143-147; cf. H. Wolff, Anthropology of
the Old Testament, trans. by M. Kohl (rev. ed., Phila-
delphia: Fortress Press, 1974), pp. 185-191.
89 The last line of this verse does not seem to make
sense as it is in MT: hmh-xl Myrmx Jdrm.
Literally translated, "Pursuing words not they" or reading
the Qere, "Pursuing words to him they." Scott, p. 115,
reads "hu’ meraddep, ‘omrehem lo hemah,"="When he follows
them they speak angrily to him." B. Gemser, Spruche Salomos
(Tubingen: Mohr, 1937), pp. 58, 59, reconstructs a Hebrew
text of 4 lines based on the LXX; hardly a plausible
Evidently, there are those friends who avoid such entangle-
ments with the poor, because they are likely to get too
involved and lose their cherished autonomy.90 Of course,
it is more difficult for blood relatives to desert their
poor kin, but hate is still an option. As noted earlier,
the essence of hating is an interior-exterior disparity.91
Another economic context where friends may become
enemies devoid is in connection with suretyship. Only a person
wholly devoid of sense would continue in a relationship of
surety, especially in the presence of a neighbor who could
later act as witness to the proceedings.92 At such times
the neighbor might as well be a "stranger," one who stood
beyond the bounds of the community standards.93
The judicial setting is another area where friends
become enemies. After all, the judicial arena is in reality
endeavor. H. Ringgren, Spruche Ubersetzt und Erklart
(Gottingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 1962), p. 77, indi-
cates the omission of this line with an ellipsis and a note
commenting, "MT: "wer Worten nachjagt, nicht sie, ' ist
unverstandlich:" Likewise, Mckane, pp. 240, 52., omits
90 Cf. also 14:20; 19:4.
91 Such self-centered behaviors are not always practiced
by friends, nor are brothers always of more help than a
friend: "There are friends who make themselves out to be
friends, but there is a lover who cleaves beyond a brother"
93 6:1; cf. Snijders, p. 84.
simply an institutionalized form of controversy. Its goal
is to remove the adversary proceedings from the common daily
life of the community so that they can be dealt with in a
relatively safe environment and the participants reinte-
grated into the life of the community.94 To avoid legal
proceedings, therefore, is to avoid the unpleasant reality
of friends acting as adversaries.
What your eyes have seen
do not hastily bring into court;
for what will you do in the end,
when your neighbor puts you to shame?
Argue your case with your neighbor himself,
and do not disclose another's secret;
lest he who hears you bring shame upon you,
and your ill repute have no end.
Another observation notes that one's case always looks good
at first, but the cross-examination of a friend poses a
He who states his case first seems right,
until the other comes and examines him.
A final opportunity for a shift from friendship to
enmity should be mentioned. One admonition warns against
too much "neighborliness," lest one's welcome be exhausted.
Let your foot be seldom in your neighbor's
lest he become weary with you and hate you.
94 W. Clark, "Law," in Old Testament Form Criticism,
ed. by J. Hayes (San Antonio: Trinity University Press,
1974), p. 103.
The Animals Group
Animals used as metaphors for hostile figures appear in
Proverbs. Whenever these metaphors are used to point up the
threatening or dangerous characteristics of the referent,
they occur in connection with some royal personage.95
Another enemy metaphor concentrates attention on the dis-
gusting behavior of a fool who is like a "dog returning to
his vomit,"96 while on yet another occasion the reference is
quite simply to a dog as a dog.97
The book of Job opens with a story about a righteous
man whose piety was tested by God at the prodding of one of
the "sons of God," the Adversary. Job's piety is vindi-
cated,98 but his suffering continues. In the midst of this
suffering Job's three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar,
come to console him. The encounter between these four is
contentious as Job complains that his suffering does not
correspond with his piety, and the friends urge him to
repent. When the three friends fail to bring about Job's
95 19:12; 20:2; 28:15; in a non-threatening use, empha-
sizing courage, the righteous are compared to a lion (28:1).
98 Job 1:22; 2:10.
repentance a young man, Elihu, appears who argues against
Job. The last figure to appear in this discussion is Yahweh
who asks Job a series of overwhelming questions to which Job
can only respond in humble submission to the divine majesty.
The book closes with Yahweh's affirmation of Job, condemna-
tion of the three friends and restoration of Job's family,
friends and property, even "more than his beginning"
The narrative setting of the book of Job which is pro-
vided by the prologue (ch. 1-2) and the epilogue (42:7-17)
occasionally allows an identification of the enemies as
characters in the "dramatized lament."99 The speeches of
the poetic dialogue (3:1-42:6) which form the bulk of the
book allow greater opportunity for description of the
enemies than any of the forms in Proverbs. This formal
distinction, however, must not be pressed overly much for
Job's friends, as well as Job himself, are often simply
repeating what has become orthodox doctrine. A more impor-
tant formal consideration is the fact that Job's speeches
are modeled after the traditional laments while those of
his friends are disputations and indictments.100 These
99 C. Westermann, The Structure of the Book of Job:
A Form-Critical Analysis, trans. by C. Muenchow: (Phila-
delphia: Fortress Press, 1981), pp. 8ff.
100 Westermann, The Structure of the Book of Job, pp. 10,
forms, especially the lament, typically include mention of
enemies. More frequent appearance of the enemies may,
therefore, be expected.
The book of Job utilizes a fuller complement of words
belonging to the byvx-group. Whereas Proverbs used only
byvx, xnvW and xnWm, this poet uses these three
words101 as well as Mmvqtm,102 rc103 and
NFWh.104 The most frequently used of these is NFWh,
but it appears only in the prologue and always refers to the
heavenly adversary who indicts Job's piety. Otherwise,
these words are most often found in Job's speeches.105
101 byvx in Job 13:24; 27:7; 33:10: xnvW in 8:22;
34:17; xnWm in 31:29.
102 20:27; 27:7.
103 6:23; 16:9; 19:11.
104 1:6, 7 (2x), 8, 9, 12 (2x); 2:1, 2 (2x), 3, 4, 6, 7.
105 byvx in 13:24 and 27:7, if the latter belongs to
Job; the transmission of the "third cycle" of speeches is
consistently judged to be corrupt with no agreement as to
its reconstruction; cf. Westermann, The Structure of the
Book of Job; R. Gordis, The Book of Job: Commentary, New
Translation and Special
Introduction, Translation, and Notes (3rd ed., Garden City,
although found in an Elihu speech, should really be attrib-
uted to Job as it is an allusion to 13:24. Mmvqtm in
27:7; rc in 6:23; 16:9; 19:11; xnWm in 31:29.
Three times Job is simply referring quite stereo-
typically to his human enemies.106 In all of these places
the hostile figure is nondescript, but it appears that the
adversary of Job 6:23 could refer to a legal adversary;
this possibility is raised by the references to offering a
bribe (v. 22) and to ransoming Job (v. 23). The hostile
figures of Job 27:7 and 31:29, on the other hand, are more
probably not legal adversaries. In the case of the former
this is so because the content of Job's wish is that the
enemy-opponent come to be as the wicked-unrighteous
(fwrk // lvfk) not that they become the wicked-
unrighteous which would be the case in a legal setting.
With the latter there is simply not enough material to
warrant a judgment.
Although it is commonly said that God is Job's
enemy,107 the evidence is somewhat more subtle. In actual
fact, if the enemy designations found in the Psalms are
taken as the best witness to enemy vocabulary, it is only
at Job 16:9 that Job explicitly refers to God as his
106 6:23: 27:7; 31:29.
107 G. von Rad, Wisdom in Israel (
Press, 1972), p. 217, which Crenshaw, p. 109, cites in
agreement. Cf. Westermann, The Structure of the Book of
Job, p. 45.
adversary (rc).108 Thus, only a single time in the entire
book is God named as the enemy.
In two passages Job radically re-orients the enemy
vocabulary. He claims that God has made him, Job, an enemy.
Why do you hide your face
and count me for your enemy?
He has kindled his wrath against me
and counted me as his adversary.
It is, of course, not surprising at all to find
reference to enemies in the lament form which is the pre-
dominant genre of all Job's speeches.110 Ordinarily a
lament will contain questions about "why" or "how long" God
intends to neglect, or cause, the supplicant's distress.
Furthermore, a significant theme in the situation of dis-
tress is often the enemies' attacks. In Job's laments,
however, the attacks of the enemy111 are separated from the
one who is made to be the enemy, the lamenter. This seman-
tic contradiction between the perpetrator of the attacks
108 Even here, some would take this to refer to the
human enemies who are the subject of vv. 10f.; Pope, p. 123;
but cf. Gordis, pp. 176f.
109 Cf. 33:10.
110 Westermann, The Structure of the Book of Job, p. 31.
111 Cf. 13:25, 27; 19:6, 8, 10, 12, 13, 22.
(God) and the putative enemy (Job) is at the heart of Job's
The significance of this semantic contradiction is
pointed up by the fact that enemy (byvx) is a unilateral
designation. However intense the hostility may be, the
other is always the enemy while the protagonist is never
designated as such. Of course, it is logical to assume that
most often enmity is a bilateral affair (i.e., he is my
enemy, and I am his enemy), but the linguistic usage does
not conform to such an assumption.
Psalm 139:21-22 is the clearest example of this. It is
clear that the psalmist is at enmity with Yahweh's enemies
from the verbs of verses 21-22a which are first person
112 This contradiction in Job's situation was also noted
by the rabbinic interpreters: "He (i.e., Job) blasphemed
with a tempest, as it is written, 'For he breaketh me as
with a tempest' (Job 9:17). Job said to God, 'Perhaps a
tempest passed before you and caused you to confuse Job
(‘Iyyob) and enemy (‘oyeb),." rwx bytkd JrH hrfsb
Hvr xmw Mlfv lw ynvbr vynpl rmx ynp vwy hrfwb
:byvxl bvyx Nb jl JlHtnv jynpl hrbf rhfs
Baba bathra I, 16a. The passage goes on to record three
rejoinders by God to the effect that he made no such error
at all. The rabbis were simply using the age-old device of
puns in their discussion of Job. It may be that the Joban
poet as well was trying to pun upon the name with 13:24 and
later 33:10; 19:11 would then be based upon the pun of 13:24
by simply substituting rc for byvx (i.e., bvyx). The
name bOy.xi could be formed from the root byx in which case
it would 15e construed in a passive sense on the analogy of
dOl’y; cf. Gordis, pp. 10-11; M. Noth, Die Israelitischen
Personennamen im Rahmen der Gemeinsemitischen Namengebung
(Stuttgart: Verlag von W. Kohlhammer, 1928), p. 11.
Do I not hate them that hate thee, 0 Yahweh?
And do I not loathe them that rise up
I hate them with perfect hatred.
Verse 22b, however, shifts to third person (although RSV
retains the first person) and reads, "They have become
enemies to me" (yl vyh Mybyvxl). The only exception
to this linguistic usage is found in Exodus 23:22 where
Yahweh promises, "I will be an enemy to your enemies"
Thus, the unique character of Job's situation with
Yahweh is pointed up by his peculiar linguistic usage. He
sees himself as a "reckoned" (bwH) enemy of God, reckoned
by God and thereby factually an enemy. Yet, he is not the
one who is behaving as an enemy; God behaves as an enemy.
Job's situation is that of (innocent) victim while God's
behavior toward Job is that of an enemy. Linguistically,
Job cannot bring himself to say, "I am an enemy of God."114
He can only ask, "Will you reckon me for your enemy?"
(13:24), or make the outrageous claim, "He has reckoned me
for himself as his enemies" (19:11).
113 The exceptional character of this usage is further
pointed up by the fact that this is the only appearance of
the root byx as a finite verb.
114 lxl byvx ynx or lxl byvx ytyyh
or lx-tx ytbyx.
Outside Job's speeches the designations of the enemies
from the byvx-group appear only in a speech of Bildad
(8:22)115 and in one by Elihu (34:17).116 Elihu adds a new
dimension to this vocabulary. In a rhetorical question he
speaks of one who hates not someone but rather something
(Fpwm). Enmity has been depersonalized by being con-
strued as a relationship between a person and a principle.
Elihu is now giving a lecture.117
The wicked (fwr) appear twenty-five times in the
book of Job. They are mentioned by each of the major
figures in the book.118 That the wicked are those who stand
outside a sound, healthy relationship to God in Job as in
Proverbs is indicated by the prominent relationship to the
"profane" or "godless" (JnH),119 the "unjust" (lyvf,
115 Otherwise, Bildad mentions in 8:20 "evildoers"
(Myfrm) and, antithetically, the "blameless" (Mt).
116 hmmvqtm in 20:27 (Zophar) is used verbally
rather than substantively; its subject is Crx.
117 Westermann, The Structure of the Book of Job,
118 Job in 3:17; 9:22, 24; 10:3; 16:11; 21:7, 16, 17,
28; 24:6; 27:7, 13; Eliphaz in 15:20; 22:18; Bildad in
8:22; 18:5; Zophar in 11:20; 20:5, 29; Elihu in 34:18;
36:6, 17; and Yahweh in 38:13, 15; 40:12.
119 20:5; cf. 8:13; 15:34; 27:8; 34:30; 36:13.
lvf),120 the "ruthless" (Cyrf),121 the "workers of
iniquity" (Nvx-ylfvp) ,122 and the "evildoers"
(Myfrm).123 Standing in opposition to the wicked are
the "blameless" (Mt).124
The nature of the forms in Job allows further observa-
tions which confirm the religious content of this desig-
nation. Whereas in Proverbs (at least in 10:1-22:16 where
the Myfwr are most prominent) the context is limited to
short sayings, in Job there are speeches. Thus, it often
occurs that a major portion of a speech begins by mentioning
a group under one designation and concludes by referring to
the same group under another, but essentially synonymous,
designation.125 Such formal considerations require
120 16:11; 27:7; cf. 18:21; 31:3.
121 15 :20 ; 27:13; cf. 6:23 where Cyrf is parallel to
122 34:8; cf. 31:3; 34:22.
124 8:20; 9:22.
125 For example, 8:11-22, which begins with rhetorical
questions concerning a well-known plant image (cf. Psalm 1;
Jer. 17:5-8) and concludes with an assurance to the blame-
less and promise of destruction to the wicked; 15:(17-19)
20-35 which begins with the designations "wicked" and
"ruthless" (fwr // Cyrf ) and concludes with "company of
the godless," and "tents of bribery" (JnH tdf //
dHvw-ylhx); 18:5-21 beginning with the wicked and
ending with the "unjust" and "he who does not know God"
(lvf // lx-fdy-xl).
broadening the range of synonyms which may be ascertained by
strict parallelism to include other significant designations
such as the "evil man" (fr),126 "those who forget God"
(lx-yHkvw),127 the one who is "not innocent"
(yqn-yx),128 and the "one who does not know God"
(lx-fdy-xl).129 A similar broadening of the range
of antonyms on the basis of these formal considerations
requires the inclusion of the "righteous" (qydc),130
the "innocent" (yqn),131 the "afflicted" (ynf),132
"poor" (ld),133 "needy" (Nvybx),134 "lowly"
(Mynyf-Hw),135 "widow" (hnmlx),136 "orphan"
128 22:30; on the particle see Gordis, p. 252, and
Pope, p. 169, who take it as the negative particle known in
Ethiopic, Phoenician, rabbinic and modern Hebrew and per-
haps even biblical Hebrew at Sam. 4:21 (7):23
130 22:19; 27:17; 36:7.
131 9:23; 22:19; 27:17.
132 24:4, 14; 34:28; 36:6, 15.
133 34:19, 28.
134 24:4, 14.
(Mvty),137 "dying" (Mytm),138 and "wounded"
For the most part, the various synonyms for the wicked
present the same picture noted in Proverbs. There are,
however, new developments. Bildad offers Job the assurance
that "the tent of the wicked will be no more" (8:22b) which
is a quite traditional affirmation. Atypical of this kind
of affirmation is the use of xnvW (hater) in the
parallel stich (8:22a).
Those who hate you will be clothed with shame,
and the tent of the wicked will be no more.
This is the first example in wisdom literature of an
apparent identification between the hater (xnvW) of
the byvx-group and the wicked.
A second synonym which represents something hitherto
unspoken in the wisdom literature is the socioeconomic
identification of the wicked as "nobility" (bydn).140
Related to this is the antinomy between the wicked and the
138 24:12, revocalizing with BHS to Mytime
140 21:28; 34:18; cf. also jlm, rw, fvw and
rybx in 34:18, 19, 20.
underprivileged.141 The examples of antithetic parallelism
between the wicked (rich) and the poor (righteous) occur
primarily in two places: Job's speech in chapter 24 and
Elihu's speeches in chapters 34 and 36.142
In each of these cases the opposition of the wicked and
the afflicted is the result of the forms which make up the,
speeches. The Elihu speeches all make use of the
humiliation-exaltation hymnic motif which is familiar from
the psalm tradition of
He pours contempt upon princes
and makes them walk in trackless wastes;
but he raises up the needy out of affliction,
and makes their families like flocks.143
Job's speech in chapter 24 consists of quite a long
description of the distress of humanity following his
141 Cf. the antonyms ynf in 24:4, 14; 34:28; 36:6,
15; Nvybx in 24:4, 14; ld in 34:19, 28; Mvty, in
24:3; hnmlx in 24:3; Mytm in 24:12; MyllH
in 24:12; Mynyf-Hw in 22:29; Myrysx in 3:18;
Hvk-yfygy in 3:17 ("victims," Gordis, pp. 28, 38).
142 Eliphaz's speech in 22:29 appears to have a note
similar to Elihu's remarks if the RSV is followed, but it
seems better to follow Gordis, pp. 242, 252, and translate
MT as it stands: "When men are brought low you will say,
'Rise up,' and he who has been humbled will be saved."
Cf. Pope, p. 164, who translates, "When they abase, you
(i.e., Job) may order exaltation; and the lowly of man he
will save." The verse belongs in the context of Eliphaz's
promise that if Job would repent (bvw, v. 23) then he
would be one of those righteous folk upon whose merit
others could receive favor; Gordis, pp. 251f.; Pope, 168.
143 Cf. Psalms 33:10-17; 76:5, 9, 12; 113:5-9; 145:14,
19-20; 146:7-9; 147:6; and I Sam. 2:4-8.
lamenting "why" of verse 1. Such a description of distress
is integral to the laments of the Psalms.144 Thus, this new
identification of the wicked in opposition to the lower
classes of the socio-economic scale is due to the use of
traditional forms, not to any new thoughts on the nature of
In fact, this claim for the social location of the
wicked is a quite logical outcome of their religious stance,
their lack of a proper relationship to God. Elihu recog-
nizes that God strikes these mighty folk because they turned
aside from behind him and did not comprehend his ways so
that they made the cry of the poor to come to him.145 The
socially oppressive nature of the wicked is hardly a
genuinely new development in wisdom material. Rather, it
is a simple outcome of the fundamental defect of the wicked:
they stand without a proper relationship to God.
A third factor is introduced by Elihu which is really
a new dimension in designations of the wicked. Elihu
predicts that "men of understanding" (bbl-ywnx) and
the "wise man" (MkH-rbg) will say:
Job speaks without knowledge;
his words are without insight.
144 For example, Psalms 5:9-10; 6:6-7; 10:1-11; 12:1-4.
145 Job 34:24, 26-28.
Would that Job were tried to the end,
because of answers like146 wicked men.
For he adds rebellion upon his sin,
among us he claps (his hands),
and multiplies his words to God.
Job is accused by Elihu of being a wicked man because of his
foolish speaking. Unlike the material in Proverbs, Elihu
here hints at an identification of the wicked with char-
acteristics which normally apply to the "fool."
Thus the book of Job presents substantially the same
picture of the wicked as is found in Proverbs. The identi-
fication of the wicked as those who oppress the lower
classes in society seems to be a change. This alteration,
however, is due entirely to the traditional forms used in
the composition of the speeches; it is not a specifically
wisdom theme but a theme of psalmody used by a wisdom
writer. The parallelism between a term of the byvx-group
and the wicked is a new note in the wisdom tradition, but
it occurs only once in an assurance which could be quite at
home in the Psalter. The most significant new dimension is
the implicit identification of the wicked with the fool
which Elihu introduced.
The Neutral Group
Only two times does the term rz ("stranger") appear
In the book of Job. The first appearance (19:15) refers to
146 Reading ywnxk instead of ywnxb; see BHS.
the "outsider" who is unknown in the community; it is
parallel to the "alien" (yrkn). It is as such an out-
sider that Job's maidservants reckon him. Once again, Job's
complaint is phrased in such a way that he himself is
designated by a frequent enemy designation. Job finds
himself in the situation of an enemy.147
The other appearance of the stranger is at Job 19:27.
Whom I shall see for myself
and my eyes shall see148 and not a stranger.
My kidneys are spent within me.
There is some question as to whether the "stranger" should
be taken to refer to God149 or to some other person instead
of Job.150 If the first option be accepted, then Job is
wishing for the day when he will behold God as his Redeemer
(v. 25) and not as the divine stranger who presently con-
fronts him. More probably, however, rz, should be taken
147 Cf. 13:24; 19:11; 33:10 and the discussion above on
the byvx in Job.
148 Emend vxr to vxry; yod has been lost through
cf. G. Fohrer, Das Buch Hiob (
Das Buch Hiob (Tubingen: Mohr, 1937), p. 46.
149 So apparently Pope, p. 139.
150 So Gordis, pp. 198, 207; cf. also Holscher, p. 46;
Fohrer, p. 322; and E. Dhorme, A Commentary on the Book of
Job, trans. by H. Knight (London: Nelson, 1967), p. 286,
who leave their comments almost as ambivalent as MT on the
identity of the rz, but on careful reading seem to favor
merely at another ("mit dem er nichts meter zu tun hat"151)
who might see God although Job himself would be unable to
do so. In this case, the "stranger" is no enemy but simply
some anonymous third party.152 The sense is then. "my eyes
shall see, and not someone else's."
The Friends and Kinfolk Group
Only in Job's speeches are terms for friends and
kinfolk used to designate enemies. Job claims that his
"brothers" (MyHx) have become treacherous,153 his
"friends" (vyfr) scorn him,154 and his "kinfolk" and
"close friends" (Myfdymv Mybvrq) have failed
him.155 Indeed, Job 19:13-19 is a veritable lexicon of
friendship and household designations.
He has put my brethren (yHx) far from me,
and my acquaintances (yfdyv) are wholly
estranged from me.
My kinsfolk (ybvrq) and my close friends
(yfdymv) have failed me;
the guests (yrg) in my house have for-
my maidservants (ythmxv) count me as a
151 Fohrer, , p. 322.
152 Cf. the similar use of rz in Prov. 27:2;
jyp-xlv rz jllhy. The LXX clearly take the passage
in this sense: a o ofqalmoj mou eoraken kai ouk alloj.
153 Job 6:15; cf. 19:13.
154 16:20; cf. 12:4.
I have become an alien in their eyes.
I call to my servant (ydbfl), but he gives
me no answer;
I must beseech him with my mouth.
I am repulsive to my wife (ytwxl),
loathsome to the sons of my own mother
Even young children (Mylyvf) despise me;
when I rise they talk against me.
All my intimate friends (ydvs ytm) abhor me,
and those whom I loved (ytbhx-hz)
have turned against me.
It is quite significant that designations from this
particular group appear to refer to enemies only on the
lips of Job. This motif is well-known from the laments of
It is not an enemy who taunts me--
then I could bear it;
it is not an adversary who deals insolently
then I could hide from him.
But it is you, my equal,
my companion, my familiar friend.
We used to hold sweet converse together;
within God's house we walked in fellowship,
This motif is one of the most fitting which the writer uses.
Job 19:13-19 expansively describes the alienation from
his social milieu which Job experiences as a result of God's
hostile actions toward him (19:6-12). Otherwise, these
designations drawn from the friends and kinfolk group point
to the three friends of the dialogue.157 These three
156 Cf. also vv. 21-22 and Psalms 31:11; 41:9.
157 Job 6:14f. (cf. the explicit identification in
v. 21); 12:4 (Gordis, p. 136); 16:20; 19:21.
friends had come to comfort Job (2:11), but their words of
consolation misfired. They could only offer disputation
which finally leads to outright indictment (Job 22).158
This is why Job is so confounded that he cries out to his
friends to have pity on him (19:21) and asks how they would
comfort him with nothings (21:31). Rather than playing the
proper role of comforters, Job's three friends have moved
toward a legal role. They have become Job's accusers.159
The Animals Group
Eliphaz uses the "lion" (hyrx), the "fierce lion"
(lHw), the "young lions" (Myxybl), the "strong lion"
(wyl) and the "whelps of the lioness" (xybl-ynb)160
as metaphors for those who "plow iniquity" and "sow
trouble.161 Otherwise in Job the animals mentioned refer
to real animals with no metaphorical significance
158 Westermann, The Structure of the Book of Job,
159 On the legal forms in the book of Job see L. Kohler,
"Justice in the Gate," postscript to Hebrew Man, trans. by
P. Ackroyd (London: SCM Press, 1956), pp. 158-163.
162 30:1; 38:39.
The "riddle"163 of Qoheleth appears to go back at least
to Jamnia164 if not to the apologetic epilogist of Qoheleth
12:9-13. Although he claims to have set for himself the
task of investigating everything that happens "under the
heavens" (1:13), he never mentions any of the enemies from
the byvx-group. Nor does he ever present friends or
family members as enemy figures.
Even when Qoheleth mentions enemies from other cate-
gories the nature of his style seems to trivialize them.
His style, largely prose, consists of "essays" which fly
in the face of hitherto accepted conclusions. Where
Qoheleth uses sayings which sound as if they might well
stem from an ongoing tradition,165 he nevertheless uses them
in such a way as to neutralize their heuristic function.
"Even though a wise man claims to know, he cannot find it
out" (8:17). Qoheleth would probably pass the same judgment
on all his interpreters. At any rate, at least a minimal
illumination of his occasional remarks on those who may be
enemies must now be sought.
163 A. Wright, "The Riddle of the Sphinx:. The Structure
of the Book of Qohelet," CBQ 30 (1968), 313-334.
164 Eissfeldt, p. 568.
165 J. Loader, Polar Structures in the Book of Qoheleth
(Berlin: Walter deGruyter, 1979), pp. 132f. Cf., for
example, Qoh. 4:5, 13; 7:5; 9:16a, 17, 18a; 10:2, 3.
The wicked are most often found in antithesis to the
"righteous" (qydc).166 They are also found in antithesis
to those who "fear before God" (Myhlx-ynplm xry).167
Quite simply, Qoheleth is denoting by these terms the same
religious and ethical types already noted in Proverbs.168
In one example the righteous and the wicked stand at
the head of a series of antithesis.
. . . one fate comes to all, to the righteous
(qydc) and the wicked (fwr), to the good
(bvF) and the evil (fr),169 to the clean
(rhvF) and the unclean (xmF), to him who
sacrifices (Hbvz) and him who does not
sacrifice (Hbvz-vnnyx). As is the good
man (bvF) so is the sinner (xFvH); and he
who swears (fbwn) is as he who shuns an
These persons are not synonymous, of course, but they do
form two coherent groupings for Qoheleth. His point in this
series of antitheses is simply to drive home the contention
166 3:17; 7:15; 8:14; 9:2.
167 8:12, 13.
168 R. Whybray, "Qoheleth the Immoralist," in Israelite
Wisdom: Theological and Literary Essays in Honor of Samuel
Terrien, ed. by John G. Gammde, Walter A. Brueggemann,
and James M. Ward (
Press, 1978), p. 195.
169 frlv has fallen out of MT, but the LXX read
kai t& akaqart&.
that one fate comes to all.170 Hence, these pairings are
simply conventional, a concession to his audience. Had
Qoheleth been seriously concerned with delimiting the
meanings of the wicked and the righteous, he might well have
chosen less traditional pairings.
The only other word from the fwr-group which
Qoheleth uses is "oppressor" (qwvf). The observation
is made that these oppressors had power on their side while
their victims had only tears.
Again I saw all the oppressions that are
practiced under the sun. And, behold, the tears
of the oppressed, and they had no one to comfort
them! On the side of their oppressors there was
power, and there was no one to comfort them.
The Neutral Group
Among the neutral terms used to designate enemies, only
rw ("prince") is used by Qoheleth.171 The ambiguity of
the designation is demonstrated particularly well by its
appearance in Qoheleth. He pronounces a woe to the land
because her king is a boy and her princes feast in the
morning. In the very next breath, however, he pronounces
a blessing upon the land whose king is the son of freedmen
170 The point is made again in 9:3a, "This is an evil in
all that is done under the sun, that one fate comes to all."
171 10:16, 17.
and whose princes feast in the time,172 for strength and not
Woe to you, 0 land, when your king is a child,
and your princes feast in the morning!
Happy are you, 0 land, when your king is the
son of free men,
and your princes feast at the proper time,
for strength, and not for drunkenness.
These aristocrats, king and prince, could be friend or foe.
The Animals Group
Only once does Qoheleth refer to animals which are used
as metaphors for hostile figures. Qoheleth 9:4 mentions the
living dog and dead lion as literal animals in a "better
than" saying which may intend to undergird his preference
of life over death, even a life of vanity. After all, he
argues, "a living dog is better than a dead lion."
A kindred spirit to those whose legacy is found in
Proverbs is encountered in Sirach. The formal considera-
tions noticed in Proverbs are more appropriate here than
anywhere else in the wisdom literature. In fact, the same
two distinctions, short independent sayings and longer
didactic compositions, which are found in Proverbs are also
172 Cf. 3:1-9.
present in Sirach.173 He is a self-conscious heir to the
sages who stand behind Proverbs.
All this does not mean that Sirach is simply redundant
compared with Proverbs. There are clear signs that he
stands at a later, more sophisticated place in the wisdom
tradition's history. Not the least of these signs is the
self-identification and attribution of the book.
Instruction in understanding and knowledge
I have written in this book,
Jesus the son of Sirach, son of Eleazar,
who out of his heart poured forth wisdom.
Sirach's more abundant use of the longer didactic poems
(which appear to be his favorite medium)also indicate a
development beyond earlier sages. Even when he uses inde-
pendent sayings, they are much more likely to be arranged
topically rather then being scattered throughout the book
as in Proverbs.174 In comparison with Proverbs, Sirach
shows a development toward schematization and a desire to
cover all the bases on a certain topic. Other signs of
Sirach's development include
his survey of
173 Cf. Sir. 24:30-34; 51:13-30.
174 For example, 14:3-10 is a series of seven sayings
(vv. 3, 4, 5, 6-7, 8, 9, 10) each one of which could stand
independently with complete clarity. They are found
together because they all deal with the topic of the miser.
In Proverbs seven sayings dealing with miserliness would
more likely be found in seven different places.
in the "Hymn to the Fathers" (44:1-50:24), the recognition
that wisdom is revealed in the Torah (24:23-27: 39:1-5) and
the more frequent appearance of prayer forms, learned no
doubt from the Psalms.
The primary Greek word which translates byvx is
exqroj.175 As the major Greek word it will be the
starting point of this discussion. The Greek text of Sirach
uses exqroj thirty-four times.176 Clustering around this
word are most of the other designations belonging to the
byvx-group.177 Only the designations "hateful man"
(mishtoj anqrwpoj),178 "the one who reviles a friend"
(o oneidizwn filon),179 and the "adversary"
175 Exqroj is used to translate byvx 246 times;
otherwise, exqroj translates rc (34x), rrc (9x) ,
xnvW (7x) rvw (6x), brx, yvg, rf, and xbwm
(2x each), and hbyx, lkx, rz, tm, tmc (hi.)
Mvq (hith.) and fr (once each). The Hebrew byvx is
also I translated by upenantioj (11x), exqra and
exqrainwn (2x each), and diwkontej, ekqlibwn,
exqreuwn, qlibontwn and polemioj (once each) .
176 5:15; 6:1, 4, 9, 13; 12:8, 9, 10, 16(2x); 18:31;
19:8; 20:23; 23:3; 25:7, 14, 15; 27:18; 29:6, 13; 30:3, 6;
33(36):7, 10; 37:2; 42:11; 45:2; 46:1, 5, 7, 16; 47:7;
177 Anqesthkotaj (46:6); antidikon (33 : 6);
exqran (6:9; 37:2); paresthkotwn (51:2); upenantiwn
-ouj (23:3; 47:7).
(satanan)180 are not found in contexts which also mention
the exqroj ("enemy").
Several times the enemies are simply mentioned inci-
dentally, but little information may be gleaned concerning
the identity of the enemy. For example,
He who teaches his son will make his enemies
and will glory in him in the presence of
In cases like these the wholly expected antithesis between
"friend" (filoj) and enemy is present,182 but little else
is forthcoming. The same problem obtains even in the cases
that mention a person's becoming the "laughinstock of his
enemies,"183 for it is difficult to decide how that could
narrow the range of the enemy's identity. It is also true
of the "adversary" (21:27) whom the "godless man" (asebhj)
curses; in what manner or place is this one an adversary?184
181 Cf. 6:4; 18:31; 19:7; 25:7; 30:6; 42:11.
182 19:8; 30:3, 6.
183 6:4; 18:31; 42:11.
184 Satan (=NFW) may, of course, be the personal
name of the devil (cf. I Chr. 21:1), but here it seems more
natural to translate simply "adversary" meaning someone's
opponent. Cf. J. Snaith, Ecclesiasticus
Cambridge University Press, 19741, pp. 109f., "It is
unlikely that Ben Sira uses 'Satan' as a personal name in
the sense of the head of cosmic evil powers. . . . Ben
Sira, . . . shows no knowledge of any independent evil power
Another group of passages which provide little help in
clarifying the enemy are the prayers which Sirach composed.
The lament of Sirach 22:27-23:6 refers to "adversaries"
(upenantwn), "enemy" (exqroj), "haughty eyes"
(meterismon ofqalmwn), and the "shameless soul"
(yux^ aneidei) while that of Sirach 33(36):1-17 prays
(eqnh allotria), the "adversary" (antidikon), the
"enemy" (exqroj) the "survivor" (s&zomenoj), "those-who
harm your (i.e., God's) people" (oi kakountej tou laou sou),
and the "rulers of the enemy" (arxontwn exqrwn). The
thanksgiving song of Sirach 51:1-12 similarly refers to
deliverance from the "slanderous tongue" (diabolhj glwsshj),
"lying lips" (xeilwn ergazomenwn yeudoj), "bystanders"
(paresthkotwn), "gnashings of teeth" (brugmwn etaimon),
"hand of those seeking my life" (xeiroj zhtountwn thn yuxhn
mou), "fire" (puroj) , "belly of Hades" (koiliaj %dou),
"unclean tongue and lying word" (glwsshj akaqartou kai
logou yeudoj), "enemies" (exqrwn) and "proud"
(uperhfaniwn). In each of these three passages there is
in the universe." N. Peters, Das Buch Jesus Sirach oder
handlung, 1915), pp. 176f., "Der Satan ist genannt als
eigene schwache and verderbteWale des-Minschen (vgl. Jak,.
1, 14f.) Damit ist naturlichdie teuflische Versuchung
a wealth of enemy designations, but they are just as
stereotypical and imprecise as those encountered in the
The identification of the enemies, however, is quite
clear in at least one section of Sirach: the "Hymn to the
Fathers" (44:1-50:24). In every case a particular histori-
cal enemy of
The historical figures named are Moses' enemies (45:2),
Joshua's enemies (46:1-6), the congregation who opposed
Caleb and Joshua (46:7), Samuel's enemies (46:16), David's
enemies and the Philistines (47:7) and God's enemies in the
days of Ezekiel (49:9). Their enmity consisted solely in
Otherwise, "friends" appear who are, or soon will be
enemies.186 Occasion to discuss these "friends" will arise
somewhat later within the context of further remarks from
Sirach on the topic of friendship. For now, however, it is
sufficient to note that these passages make explicit the
identification between friends and enemies. Proverbs
185 For example, "my foes" ( yrc) in Psalm 3:2; "those
who speak a lie" (bzk-yrbvd) in Psalm 5:7; "lying
lips" (rqw-ytpW) in Psalm 31:19; and "those who
seek my life" (yyH-ywqbm) in Psalm 35:4.
186 5:15; 6:9; 12:8, 9, 10, 16; 20:23; 22:20; 27:18;
indicates such an identification by construing "friends" as
the subjects of verbs which characterize enemy behavior.
Sirach identifies "friend" with "enemy."
One final note on the identity of the enemies of the
byvx-group is sounded in regard to loans, surety and
alms.187 Cases of credit extended often lead to credit
abused which, in turn, makes an enemy. Sirach advises
entering such arrangements with the utmost caution because
of their great risk; indeed, interpersonal risk appears to
be more threatening to Sirach than financial risk. On the
other hand, almsgiving is a life-securing action; it could
act as one's champion with the enemy.
Store up almsgiving in your treasury,
and it will rescue you from all affliction;
more than a mighty shield and more than a
it will fight on your behalf against your
Thus, the economic arena provides the possibility of
gratuitous enmity and security.
Sirach 20:15 is also set in the economic sphere when
it speaks of one who "lends today and asks it back tomorrow;
such a one is a hateful man." In itself this presents
nothing new or unusual, but the identity of the one who so
behaves is important. He is a hateful man, but he is also
187 29:6, 13.
a "fool" (afrwn, v. 14). This correlation between enemy
and fool is the most explicit encountered in any of the
wisdom literature thus far. Job was accused by Elihu of
being a wicked man because of his speaking without knowledge
or insight. Sirach tightens the identification by describ-
ing a fool (vv. 14-15c) and clinching his saying with "such
a one is a hateful man" (v. 15d).
The designation fwr, from which this category of
enemies takes its heading, is complicated in Sirach by the
fact that three words rather than one are commonly used by
the LXX to translate it. Most often, fwr is rendered by
asebhj ("ungodly, profane").188 The other two words which
frequently translate fwr are amartwloj ("sinner" )189
and anomoj ("lawless").190 it is, therefore, not
188 Asebhj translates fwr; otherwise, it is
used to render JnH (6x); lysk and xFH (5x each);
rvz (3x) and lyvx, Nvx, lfylb-Nb, smH,
drm, zylf, fwp, ffr (hi.), hfr and tHw
(hi.) once each.
189 Amartwloj translates fwr; otherwise, it
renders (h) fwr (14x); fwr (twice) ) and JnH,
wrH and fr (once each).
190 Anomoj translates fwr 31x. otherwise, it trans-
lates fwr and Nvx (5x each); fwp (4x); hfwr and
lydb, llh, dz, xFH, Nvcl, hrs, lvf, Nnf
(po.), Cyrf, hymr, xvW, tHw (hi.), hmz,
hbfvt and tfwrm (once each). fwr is also
translated by adikoj 3x; amartanein and ponhroj 2x
surprising to find the Greek text of Sirach using these
words interchangeably, in synonymous parallelism or desig-
nating the same or related characters within the same
These three major designations from the fwr-group
appear sixty-three times within the book of Sirach.192 The
field of words in this category is enlarged further by
several expressions which appear in synonymous parallelism
or the near context. Related on contextual grounds are the
adikoj ("unjust," 40:13),193 allotrioj ("other," 11:
34),194 diglwssoj ("two-tongued," 5:9),195 kakourgoj
each and once each by adikein, adikia, adikwj, anhr,
asebeia, asebein, dunasthj, qrasuj, kataoikazein,
paranomoj and sklhroj.
191 Thus, asebhj is related to amartwloj at 7:16, 17;
9:11, 12; 12:4, 5, 6, 7; 19:11; 39:25, 27; 41:5, 6, 7, 8,
10, 11 and to anomoj at 16:1, 3, 4; 31(34):18, 19; 39:24.
Amartwloj is related to anomoj at 21:9, 10; 39:24, 25,
192 Asebhj at 7:17; 9:12; 12:5, 6; 13:24; 16:1, 3;
21:27; 22:12; 31(34):19; 39:30; 40:15; 41:5, 7, 8, 10; 42:2;
amartwloj at 1:25; 2:12; 3:27; 5:6, 9; 6:1; 7:16; 8:10;
9:11; 10:23; 11:9, 21, 32; 12:4, 6, 7, 14; 13:17; 15:7,'9,
12; 16:6, 13; 19:22; 21:6, 10; 23:8; 25:19; 27:30; 28:9;
29:16, 19; 35(32):17; 36(33):14; 39:25, 27; 40:8; 41:5, 6,
11; anomoj at 16:4; 21:9; 31(34):18; 39:24; 40:10; 49:3.
Also entering the picture at this point is the verb
amartanein used substantively at 10:29; 19:4; 38:15.
193 Cf. 17:14; 27:10; 32(35):18 and the verb adikein
used substantively at 4:9.
194 0therwise appearing at 8:18; 9:8; 21:25; 21:8, 25;
23:22, 23; 29:18, 22; 33(36):3; 35(32):18; 39:4; 40:29(2x);
195 Also 5:14, 15.
("scoundrel," 11:33),196 loidoroj ("railing," 22:8), para-
bainontej ("transgressors," 40:14),197 ubristhj
("insolent," 8:11)198 and uperhfanoj ( "arrogant"
Although designations belonging to this category appear
in abundance the sheer number of their usage is not neces-
sarily helpful. It is true, of course, that
Good is the opposite of evil,
and life the opposite of death;
So the sinner is the opposite of the godly.
Look upon all the works of the Most High;
they are likewise in pairs, one the
opposite of the other.
Such statements, however, are of little value in determining
who the "sinner" may be,200 though they are expected to be
the opposite of the "godly."
At one point the "days of lawless men" is dated to the
reign of Josiah (49:13). It was in their time that he
196 Cf. 30:35(33:27) and the related words kakoj at
20:18 and kakoun at 33(36):8 where they are used sub-
197 Cf. 10:19; 19:24; 23:18 and paranomoj at 16:3.
198 Cf. 32(35):18 and ubrij at 10:6, 8; 21:4.
199 Cf. 3:28; 13:1,20; 15:8; 21:4; 23:8; 27:15, 28;
34(31):26; 35:32)08; 51:10 and the feminine uperhfania
at 10:7; 15:8; 51:10.
200 Cf. 1:25; 3:27, 28; 5:6; 7:1, 16, 17; 8:10; 9:11,
12; 10:6, 7, 8, 23, 29; 11:21; 15:7, 12; 16:6, 13; 17:14;
19:22; 21:6, 9, 10, 27; 22:12; 25:19; 27:10, 27, 30;
34(31):26; 38:15; 39:24, 25, 27, 30; 40:8, 10; 41:11; 42:2.
"strengthened godliness." In this case the lawless ones are
probably to be identified with any or all of the idolatrous
priests who ministered to other
cult prostitutes, the priests
other cultic functionaries whom Josiah purged.201 Such an
historical identification is limited to this single notice.
Designations from the fwr-group appear three times
in prayers which are modeled after forms found in the
Psalter: an individual lament (22:27-23:6), a community
lament (33:1-17) and an individual song of thanksgiving
(51:1-12). In each of these, as in the Psalms, enemies are
designated by terms drawn from the byvx- and fwr-
groups as well as the more neutral group. The most striking
difference from the Psalms is found in the individual lament
where the burden of the plea is for deliverance from one's
own shortcomings which provide the occasion for the triumph
of external enemies. The more dangerous enemies in this
prayer are one's own mouth, lips and tongue (22:7), thoughts
and mind (23:2), eyes (23:4), evil desire (23:5), and
gluttony, lust and shameless soul (23:6). The other two
passages present no different picture of enemies than would
be expected in similar contexts in the Psalter.
201 II Kgs. 23:5, 7, 20; 11 Chr. 34:3-7.
The wicked in the cult. Enemies belonging to the
fwr-group do, however, appear in contexts which provide
more help in identifying their social locations. As in the
earlier mashal literature of Proverbs, so also in Sirach the
wicked are occasionally found within the cult.
If one sacrifices from what has been
the offering is blemished;
the gifts of the lawless are not acceptable.
The Most High is not pleased with the offerings
of the ungodly,
and he is not propitiated for sins by a
multitude of sacrifices.
These are the wicked who obtain their sacrifices from the
property of the poor or by shorting an employees wages.
The passage goes on to accuse them of murder.202
As with sacrifice, so also with praise:
A hymn of praise is not fitting on the lips
of a sinner,
for it has not been sent from the Lord
For a hymn of praise should be uttered
and the Lord will prosper it.
Conversely, the Lord will accept favorably a prayer of the
humble; he will deliver him and execute judgment on the
unmerciful, the nations, the insolent and the unrighteous.203
Related to these enemies within the cult are those who
violate the accepted norms of the wise. These are the
202 Sir. 31(34):20-22.
"transgressors" (parabainontej). Specifically these are
people who transgress the law or the commandments.204 Once
a specific commandment, "Thou shalt not commit adultery"
(Ex. 20:14), is in view. There is mention of a man who
"transgresses from his bed" (Sir. 23:18). That adultery
should be singled out is not at all surprising for this had
long been a concern of the sages.
The wicked and the economy. Another sphere of life
which is fertile ground for the growth of these enemies from
the fwr-group is that of the community's economy. Sirach
advises discretion in the matter of almsgiving.
If you do a kindness, know to whom you do it,
and you will be thanked for your good deeds.
The point in such discretion is that one might give alms to
the good but not help the sinner. Helping sinners is bor-
rowing trouble for one's return. is double in evil for all
the good.205 A similar discretion is advised in cases of
surety. One should help a neighbor, but the watchword is,
"Beware!" Caution must be practiced since a "sinner will
overthrow the prosperity of his surety."206 From the side
206 29:14-20; in Proverbs, of course, all surety was to
be avoided like the plague; cf. Prov, 6:1-5; 17:18.
of the one in need, however, the life of a beggar is to be
avoided. Begging may be sweet in the mouth of the shame-
less, but by the time it reaches his stomach it causes
More dangerous than the wicked needy who often become
enemies are the proud rich. The rich would exploit others
as long as they could, only to deride and forsake them in
the end.207 Humility is disgusting to a proud man just as
a poor man is to a rich man.208 Of course, such wicked
rich folk are ultimately doomed,209 but in the meantime they
may be quite dangerous.
The wicked at court. Sirach also notes the wicked in
the legal realm of the community. Sometimes sinners judge
a case, and the counsel of Sirach is against sitting with
such a body (11:9). The role advised is that one should
deliver the injured party from the power of the wrongdoer
and not be timid in judgment (4:9). As a defendant the
sinner would shun reproof, while as a plaintiff he would
simply shop around for a decision "to his liking"
207 Sir. 13:1-7.
208 13:20; cf. v. 24.
209 21:4; 40:12-15; cf. 14:3-10.
The wicked and their speech. A crucial component of
the legal system is people's talk, and Sirach has quite a
lot to say on the subject. Most of his remarks, however,
appear to refer more generally to common conversation rather
than the more limited judicial setting. A "babbler"
(glwsswdhj) is feared by a whole city.210 Sinners often
meet their nemesis in their own speech which comes back to
them with a vengeance.211 The talk of "proud men"
(uperhfanwn) could even lead to bloodshed; their swearing
could "make one's hair stand on end" (27 :14-15). "Slander"
(diabolhn) and "false accusation" (katayeusmon) are
among phenomena worse than death (26: 5).212 False and
malicious speech is so dangerous that Sirach urges his
audience to curse the "whisperer" (yiquron) and the
"deceiver" (diglwsson). "Slander" (glwssh trith)
has been the cause of many a downfall, and the tongue can
be more dangerous than a sword.213
Wicked friends. Friendship is likewise a sphere where
one might encounter the wicked. Sirach 12:8-18 shows this
210 9:18; cf. 8:3.
211 23:7-15; cf. 20:18-20; 27:28.
212 This numerical saying is 3+1; the first three items
are slander, a mob and false accusation. All three are
worse than death. The fourth item is apparently a wife
"envious of a rival" (v. 6).
reality admirably by its structure. Verses 8-12 and 16-18
refer quite naturally to the "enemy" (vv. 8, 9, 10, 16)
whose "wickedness" (ponhria, v. 10) tarnishes all who
touch it like rusting copper. All this could have been said
quite as easily in Proverbs. There is an interesting step
in Sirach in the central section of verses 13-15.
Who will pity a snake charmer bitten by
or any who go near wild beasts?
So no one will pity a man who associates
with a sinner
and becomes involved in his sins.
He will stay with you for a time,
but if you falter, he will not stand
By placing the remarks about associations with snakes, wild
beasts and the sinner in the center of this passage there
is an implicit identification of the "enemy" (exqroj) with
the "sinner" (amartwloj). This is the first occasion
where a wisdom writer using a wisdom form has come so close
to equating the enemy with the wicked.
Such dangers in friendship make it encumbent upon
Sirach to urge caution in choosing one's companions.
A sinner would disturb friends and inject enmity among
folk who were at peace.214 "Rascals" (ponhreumenoi) are
about who are full of deceit (19:26). Hence, one simply
could not bring just anybody home for dinner. The "crafty"
(dolioj) and "proud" (uperhfanoj) are like spies or decoys
in a cage. They are not trustworthy. Such a "scoundrel"
(kakourgoj) is always devising harm.215 Unfortunately,
neither can one simply get up and leave an "insolent fellow"
(ubristhj) "lest he lie in ambush against your words"
(8:11). It is the task of the wise never to fall in with
such characters in the first place.
The wicked and the family. Friends and neighbors
certainly present dangerous incarnations of the wicked, but
more dangerous still are those encountered in one's own
household. Apart from the wickedness within a person's own
self,216 the greatest vulnerability is known at home. The
"household slave" (oikethj) may be a scoundrel, but there
is always recourse to the "racks and tortures" to deal with
that contingency (30:35[33:27]). The closer relationships,
however, are more troublesome. Childlessness is preferred
to ungodly children; a tribe of lawless men could devastate
an entire city (16:1-5). Forsaking and angering one's
parents make one equivalent to a "blasphemer" (blafhmoj)
and cursed by the Lord (3:16).
Sirach reserves special ire for the "impudent daughter"
(qraseia) who disgraces her father and husband (22:5).
216 See the lament in 22:27-23:6 and the discussion
Indeed, special instruction is given to
Keep strict watch over a headstrong daughter,
lest, when she finds liberty, she use it
to her hurt;
Be on guard against her shameless eye,
and do not wonder if she sins against you.
As a thirsty wayfarer opens his mouth
and drinks from any water near him,
so she will sit in front of every post
and open her quiver to the arrow.
The danger does not always arise from the children for
offspring are also vulnerable to their parents. The chil-
dren of sinners start life with at least two strikes against
them. They grow up around the haunts of the ungodly, and
their inheritance is already doomed. Hence, they blame an
ungodly father since they suffer reproach because of him
A man's most intimate relationship, marriage, occasions
both his highest blessing and security (26:1-4)218 and his
most devastating enemy.
Any wound, but not a wound of the heart!
Any wickedness, but not the wickedness
of a wife!
Any attack, but not an attack from those who
217 41:5-13 deals with the legacy of the good and the
ungodly. Part of the ungodly's legacy is the destruction
of their offspring as indicated above. There is nothing
explicitly advised for the children who might wish to
mitigate such an inherited vulnerability, but it is best
to assume that Sirach would have included such unfortunate
youth in his invitation to instruction (51:23-30).
218 Cf. 26:13-18.
Any vengeance, but not the vengeance of
There is no venom 219 worse than a snake's
and no wrath worse than an enemy's wrath.
Such is the introduction to Sirach's discourse on the
evil wife (25:16-26). The discourse itself is rather longer
than material found in Proverbs, but in the main it is not
appreciably different.220 Only verse 24 sounds a new note:
woman is responsible for sin, "and because of her we all
die." The introduction, however, associates the evil wife
with "those who hate" (misountwn) and the "enemies"
(exqrwn221). Such a close relationship of enemy vocabu-
lary from the byvx-group and the friends and kinfolk
group is a new development in the wisdom tradition.
219 The Greek text reads kefalh(n); the Hebrew texts
the Shrine of the Book, 1965].) have lacunae at this point.
The translator probably confused the common wxr I
("head") with the rare wxr II ("poison"). Cf. Peters,
220 The same may be said for 26:5-9 or 23:22-27.
221 Peters, p. 214, takes exqrou of v. 15b to be a
"Vertikale Dittographie!" from v. 14; hence, he translates
"und kein Zorn ist schlimmer, als Weibeszorn"
(qumon gunaikoj). His reading creates a nice inclusio
for the 'introduction, but it would also be an even clearer
example of "Vertikale Dittographie" than what he is
correcting since gunaikoj is the final word in v. 13.
That Sirach was a misogynist can scarcely be doubted,
but that ought not prevent observation of the times he shows
animosity toward the shortcomings of men. The adulterer who
"transgresses from his bed" (23:18) has already been noted.
It should now be added that this transgressor is mentioned
as the third (and climactic) character in a two-three
numerical saying (23:16-21). Indeed, for all Sirach's
bluster against women, he still likens the unmarried man
to a "robber" (l^st^) whom no one will trust (36:26-27).
The wicked and duplicity. Sirach's most perceptive
designation of the enemies belonging to the fwr-group is
that they are "double-tongued" (diglwssoj).222 Such a
characterization of enmity was already seen in Proverbs
26:24-26 although there it was used of an enemy belonging
to the byvx-group. Sirach is speaking of the amartwloj
who clearly belongs to the fwr-group. The double nature
of the sinner is not limited to the tongue. His whole
conduct is divided; he "walks upon two ways."223 Such
duality is the very essence of enmity whether it is evalu-
ated as simple hostility or as moral opposition.
Sirach's presentation of enemies belonging to the
fwr-group then makes some advances, or at least
222 O amartwloj o diglwssoj in 5:9, 15; simply
diglwssou in 5:14; cf. 28:13.
223 Epibainonti epi duo tribouj, 2:12b .
differences, from earlier wisdom literature. He still sees
these folk in the cult, the economy, the courtroom, among
friends and in the family as his predecessors did. He does,
however, clarify and sharpen some of the perceptions by
drawing words from the family-friendship group, the fwr-
group and the byvx-group into closer proximity to one
another. Thus, without ever saying that a wife is an enemy
he nevertheless orients the discourse on the evil wife
(25:13-26) toward that perception. Similarly, his compo-
sition technique in chapter 12:8-18 centers his reflections
on the enemy-friend around a brief remark about the sinner.
These shifts, however, are not completely surprising because
they simply pursue notions which were already present in
earlier wisdom materials.
The wicked and the fool. The genuinely new notes in
Sirach's presentation of the enemies of the fwr-group are
the few times when he pairs such designations with words
commonly used to signify another negative figure in the
wisdom tradition: the fool. Sirach quite easily parallels
"foolish men" (anqrwpoi asunetoi) with "sinful men"
(andrej amartwloi, 15:7) or he places a "moron" (mwrou)
in the same league with an "ungodly" man (asebouj,
22:12);224 both are mourned a lifetime rather than the
224 Cf. also 22:11.
customary seven days. He can likewise compare the "sinner"
(amartwloj) with the "stubborn minded" (kardia sklhra,
3:27).225 In earlier wisdom literature the enemies from
any group were not paralleled with fools.
Conversely, where one would expect to find antonyms to
amartwloj, asebhj, or anomoj to be something like
dikaioj or dikaisounh Sirach uses eusebhj ("godly,
pious).226 Another significant antonym of the fwr-words
is "those who fear the Lord" (oi foboumenoi kurion)227
which is an age-old wisdom ethic. Twice the "intelligent"
(sunetoj) is used as an antonym, once to the amartwloj
(10:23) and once to the fula anomoj (16:4). As with
synonyms so with antonyms, earlier wisdom literature did
not parallel the wicked antithetically with the wise.
The Neutral Group
Although the "stranger" (allotrioj) may be mentioned
quite innocuously by Sirach (21:8), he is primarily a
225 Cf. also 3:26.
226 The most frequent antonym of fwr is, of course,
qydc which in turn is most often translated by the LXX
with dikaioj (192x). Eusebhj is used only 4x by the
LXX to translate qydc; within Sirach, however, it
appears at 11:17, 22; 12:2, 4; 13:17, 24; 16:13; 23:12;
27:11, 29; 28:22; 36(33):14; 37:12; 29:27; 43:33.
227Cf. 2:15, 16, 17; 15:1, 19; 21:6; 35(32):14, 16.
negative figure.228 Several times the stranger is obviously
a foreign nation (eqnh allotria).229 Other times the
stranger is simply someone who is unknown and therefore
ambiguous; one could not trust such unknown quantities.230
The stranger might also be the man by whom one was cuckolded
(23:22-23) or the person to whom one was beholden for the
necessities of life.231
The ambiguities of the strangers are due to the fact
that they stand outside the peer group of the protagonist.
They are not properly qualified and duly certified members
of the social group in question. This is clearest when
"Dathan and Abiram and their men and the company of Korah"
228 As in 8:18, 9:8, 11:34; 21:25; 23:22, 23; 19:18, 22;
33(36):2; 39:4; 40:29(2x); 45:18; 49:5. allotrioj at
35(32):18 stems from the confusion of r and d; the Hebrew
text (cf. Levi) reads dz but the translator read rz.
Whereas allotrioj is primarily negative (eteroj is
primarily innocent; cf. 11:19, 31; 14:4, 15, 18; 30:28
(33:19); 35(32):9; 41:20; 42:3; 49:5. Its only negative
usage occurs at 11:6 where it is noted that "illustrious
men have been handed over to the hands of eterwn." B* S
157 545*, however, read etairwn; similar confusion
appears at 14:4; 42:3; and Wisd. 14:24. L-248 provides
corroboration that these "others, companions" are in reality
enemies by its reading of exqrwn. See J. Ziegler, ed.,
Iesu Filii Sirach (
229 Sir, 29:18; 33(36):2; 39:4; 49:
230 8:18; 11:34.
231 29:22; 40:29. The "dependent one" on 29:21-28 is
designated a paroike (vv. 26, 27; cf. v. 24) which
probably translates rg or bwvt. There are, unfortu-
nately, lacunae in the Hebrew texts.
are designated as allotrioi (45:18). In relation to the
wise, the allotrioi are likewise those who do not share
the discretionary, prudential ethic which is so charac-
teristic of wisdom. These "strangers-outsiders" are
tantamount to fools (21:22-25).
The "powers that be" are also ambiguous figures to
Sirach. They may be either dangerous or beneficent.
An undisciplined king will ruin his people,
but a city will grow through the under-
standing of rulers.
Any arrogant ruler is hated by both God and humanity, and it
is for their very injustice, insolence and wealth that
"sovereignty passes from nation to nation." Indeed, "The
Lord has cast down the thrones of rulers and has seated the
lowly in their place."232 It hardly need be said, of course,
that the rulers of any people who are anti-Israel are to be
Because such ambiguous people are in fact powerful,
Sirach advises against becoming involved in controversy with
them; one might fall into their power (8:1). The "rich"
(plousioj) are to be avoided for similar reasons; their
232 10:7, 8, 14.
233 33(36):10; 46:18,
resources could be overwhelming (8:2).
A rich man does wrong, and he even adds
a poor man suffers wrong, and he must
A rich man who is a liar is, of course, hated (25:2). It is
conceivable (barely) that a rich man might be blameless, but
who is he? (31:8-9). In the
idealized past of
sacred history there were "rich men furnished with resources,
living peaceably in their habitations" (44:6), but in the
empirical present peace between rich and poor is unnatural
(13:18)234—unless they share a common glory in the fear of
the Lord (10:22).
Groups of people are occasionally threatening in Sirach,
but when they are, they are usually characterized more pre-
cisely as groups of traditionally negative types.235 Of
course, groups may also be mentioned in ways which have
little or no bearing on the problem of enmity.236 In Sirach
26:5, however, a group, or a formation of a group (ekklhsian
oxlou), is ranked along with the slander of the city and
234 Cf. 13:19-23.
235 Plhqei amartwlwn in 7:16; teknwn sunagwgh
axrhstwn, in 16:l (cf. v. 3); sunagwgh amartwloun in
32(35):21; and sunagwgh kore in 45:18.
236 Oxloj at 7:7; plhqoj at 5:6; 6:34; 7:7, 9, 14;
31(34):19; 36(33):11; 42:11; 44:19; 51:3; sunagwgh at
1:30; 4:7; 24:23; 34(31):3; 41:18; 43:20; 46:14; and
ekklhsia at 15:5; 21:17; 23:24; 24:2; 30:27(33:18);
34(31):11; 38:33; 39:10; 44:15; 50:13, 20.
false accusation. Such are worse than death, only to be
surpassed by a wife "envious of a rival" (26:6).
Two other ambiguous characters could be revealed as
enemies: the "helper" (bohqwn) and the "counselor"
(sumbouloj). The helper might be one who loaned to
another in need (29:4) or one to whom a petitioner looked
to no avail in a time of distress (51:7). They could,
however, as easily be one's enemy who was merely feigning
the helping role (wj bohqwn, 12:17). Some counselors
give counsel "in their own interest" only to cast a lot
against another. Therefore, one has to be cautious in
choosing such a person (37:7-9). A counselor should be
"one in a thousand" (6:6). The danger of counselors cannot
be completely avoided for it is only God who has no need of
one at all (42:21). Humans are always vulnerable to this
The Friends and Kinfolk Group
Every friend will say, "I too am a friend";
but some friends are friends only in name.
Is it not a grief to the death
when a companion and friend turns to enmity?
The phenomenon of enemy-friends is oft noted in
Sirach.237 Fair weather friends are quite dangerous because
237 The designations of these characters are filoj at
5:15; 6:6, 9, 10, 13; 12:9; 13:21; 19:13, 14, 15; 20:23;
22:20, 21, 22(2x); 36(33):6; 37:1, 2, 4, 5, 6; plhsion at
they are seldom recognized until one is in some kind of dis-
tress and a true friend is needed. These "friends" would
not "stand by [one] in the day of trouble" (6:8).238 They
may be compared to a stallion which "neighs under everyone
who sits on him" (36:6). Therefore, friends must be
acquired through testing. Once acquired, a person has to be
on guard toward them (6:7, 13).
The blame for the shift from friendship to enmity might
rest on either party or on social circumstances, for friend-
ship is a reciprocal relationship within a concrete social
setting. If a friend, becomes an enemy it could be one's own
A man may for shame make promises to a friend,
and needlessly make him an enemy.
A person might simply act ignorantly and thereby become an
enemy (5:15), or a friendship might be destroyed (just as
an enemy destroyed people) by acts of duplicity such as
reviling, arrogance, revealing confidences and a treacherous
blow.239 Of course, a "fool" (mwroj) has only himself to
blame when "those who eat his bread" (oi esqonej ton arton
autou) speak unkindly of him (20:17).
10:6; 19:14, 17; 27:18, 19; 28:2; 31(34):22; etairoj at
37:2, 4, 5; and oi esqontej ton arton autou at 20:17.
238 Cf. vv. 9-12,
239 22:19-22; 27:16-21.
In spite of one's own best intentions and personal
integrity, however, there still remains the possibility that
a friend might become an enemy.
There is a friend who changes into an enemy,
and will reveal a quarrel to your disgrace.
A neighbor might, by an unintentional slip of the tongue,
bring forth the possibility of enmity (19:16). More
malicious neighbors and friends might cause injury,240
feign friendship only for their own selfish advantage,241
or they may have been an enemy all the time and only
appeared to be friends.242
Sirach also reveals that the shift from friendship to
enmity might be due to the social context.243 The rich have
friends who steady them through the minor mishaps of life.
The humble, on the other hand, are roughly treated even when
they fall and deserve genuine sympathy and aid (13:21-23).
Related to the wealthy are the observations that friends
240 10:6; 28:2.
241 6:7; 37:5.
243 Certainly Sirach does not intend that the social
environment necessarily overwhelms people; he is perceptive
enough to observe, however, that some social settings might
well predispose people to behave a certain way, but this
observation does not constitute a kind of social determinism.
become enemies in times of adversity.244 The friendship
might also turn to enmity because some third party in the
social equation is guilty of slander (19:13-15). In that
case the turn of affairs, which might have been avoided, is
Enemies within the family have already been encountered
among the folk belonging to the fwr-group. They are
ungodly sons (16:1-5), the ungodly father who brings re-
proach upon his children (41:7) and the evil wife (25:13-26).
Of these three it is the evil wife who exercises Sirach the
Unfortunately, Sirach does not provide much information
which would clarify what constitutes an evil wife. Most
often he simply mentions her or warns against her.245
Occasionally, however, glimpses of one who is a "chatterbox"
(glwsswdhj) may be seen. She may be beautiful and wealthy
and support her husband, or she may not please him or follow
his direction. Other possible characteristics of the evil
wife include envy of a rival, drunkenness or harlotry.246
The evil wife receives so much opprobrium for Sirach
because of his misogynistic bias. Woman is the origin, or
244 6:7, 9-12; 12:8-9; 37:4-5.
245 24:13, 16, 23, 25; 42:6; cf. 7:26; 9:1; 25:17, 19;
246 25:20-22, 23, 26; 26:6, 8, 9; cf. 23:22ff.; 9:9.
at least the occasion, of sin and death (25:24). Her good-
ness is worse than a man's wickedness (42:14). Nevertheless,
he makes some quite positive observations about women; at
times, it might be enough to "turn a girl's head."247 Most
likely, for Sirach, it is not a matter of a program of
either misogyny or feminism, but rather of recording those
potential threats which the wise would certainly try to
avoid or, at least, mitigate.
The Animals Group
The "lion" (lewn) is mentioned several times by
Sirach. Three times it simply intends the animal itself.
In the "Hymn to the Fathers" the lion is named as one of
David's playmates (47:3). Twice it is used literally, but
proverbially, to make some point about how the rich treat
the poor248 or the horrors of living with an evil wife.249
As a simile or metaphor the lion is sin which lies in
wait for the workers of iniquity (27:10). "Its teeth are
lion's teeth, and destroy the souls of men" (21:2). Like:
wise, vengeance lies in wait as a lion for the proud man from
247 7:19; 25:1, 8; 26:1-4, 13-18; 26:26-30(22-26); 40:19,
248 They are treated "just as" (outwj) lions prey on
wild asses; 13:19.
249 Sirach prefers cohabitation "with a lion and a
dragon" to living with an evil wife; 25:16.
whom mockery and abuse issue (27:28). The tongue is a
danger greater than the sword, and whoever is enslaved by it
will find it "sent out against them like a lion" (28:18-23).
Finally, one who is a "faultfinder" (fantasiokotwn) with
his household is as dangerous as a lion in his home
Wisdom of Solomon
Wisdom of Solomon is the only example of wisdom litera-
ture which had its origin in the diaspora. Most likely it
is of Egyptian provenance,
late pre-Christian era.251 The Hellenistic influences on
the writer are palpable, yet he is just as clearly Jewish.252
250 4:29 speaks of one who is "reckless in speech"
(qrasus en glwss^) and may, therefore, orient the lion-
faultfinder of v. 30 toward the dangers of speech. It seems,
however, that 4:20-5:3 is a series of independent admoni-
tions, each dealing with various ways of avoiding evil and
shame (4:20). If this analysis be correct then the lion-
faultfinder of 4:30 ought to be perceived apart from the
reckless speaking of 4:29; both are simply shameful evils
against which Sirach warns.
251 W. Deane, The
Book of Wisdom (
Press, 1881), pp. 7:35); P. Heinisch, Das Buch der Weisheit
(Munster: Aschendorffsche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1912),
XIX-XXIII; E. Clarke, The Wisdom of
The Wisdom of Solomon: A New Translation with Introduction
and Commentary (Garden City, New Tork: Doubleday and
Company, 1979), pp. 12-14, 20-15; Eissfeldt, p. 602.
232 J. Reese, Hellenistic Influence on the Book of Wisdom
and Its Consequences (
The whole work was originally written in Greek and used many
Hellenistic rhetorical devices;253 so many, in fact, that
Jerome commented that its style was "redolent of Greek
Where the simplest unit in previous wisdom writings was
the two line sentence, the author of the Wisdom of Solomon
uses "the classical Greek period, which he ordinarily rounds
off with an inclusion."255 These are the building blocks of
the composition which has been formed into a unity by the
author.256 This unity has been accomplished by two primary
devices: "flashback" and thematic coherence.257 Therefore,
characters mentioned explicitly in one passage may well be
implicit in others.
253 Winston, pp. 14-18; see Chapter 1, n. 71.
254 Winston, pc 15.
255 Reese, p. 123.
256 The unity of the book has been questioned by some
commentators; cf. F. Feldmann, "Zur Einheit des Buches der
Weisheit," Biblische Zeitschrift 7 (1909), 140-150;
P. Beauchamp, "Le salut corporal des justes et la conclusion
du livre de la Sagesse," Biblica 45 (1964), 491-526,
especially p. 500. The arguments of Reese, pp. 122-145,
and Winston, pp. 12-14, however, that the book was written
by a single person albeit over a long period of time (cf.
P. Skehan, "The Text and Structure of the Book of Wisdom,"
Traditio 3 , 1-12) seem convincing.
257 Reese, p. 123; by "flashback" Reese means "the
frequent repetition of significant ideas in similar
phrasing" (e.g., Wisd. 10:6-7 and 4:4-6). He compiles
45 examples of the device in pp. 125-140.
Once again the predominant Greek word from this
category is exqroj ("enemy").258 Associated with this,
designation is found the "oppressor" (qlibwn),259 "over-
powering ones" (katisxuontwn),260 the "foe" (polemioj),261
the "rage" (qumoj)262 and the "opponent" (upenantioj).263
Most often these designations
enemies, known from scripture, who were "most foolish, and
more miserable than an infant" (15:14). For Wisdom the
cardinal enemy in
Other historical enemies mentioned are the enemies of
Jacob,265 the Canaanites266 and perhaps Amalek.267 Once,
referring to the fiery serpents in the wilderness, the rage
258 5:17; 10:12, 19; 11:3, 5; 12:20, 22; 15:14; 16:4, 8,
22; 18:5, 7, 10.
259 5:1; 10:15.
262 16:5; 18:21; 19:1.
263 11:8; 18:8.
264 10:15-21; 11:5-14; 15:18-16:22; 18:5-19; undoubtedly,
this preoccupation with the Egyptians is due to the author's
of wild beasts which God sent
Wisdom 5:17, part of a passage dealing with the con-
trasting fates of the righteous and the ungodly, mentions
God's enemies, who are also called the "madmen"
(parafronaj). Occasionally, an agent of God appears
who is designated by enemy vocabulary. Thus, God's anger
is once directed against
plished the death of
"warrior" (polemisthj, 18:15).270
The conventional usage of byvx (=exqroj 271) within
the Psalms and especially the historical literature of the
Old Testament is in reference
268 5:20; the "ungodly" which properly belongs to the
fwr-group will be discussed in connection with that
category below; it may be noted now, however, that these
also identified with
10:20; 11:9; 16:16, 18.
269 Cf. Num. 17:6-15.
270 Two further terms, the "adversaries" (anqesthkotwn,
Wisd. 2:18) and the "one who despises wisdom and instruc-
tion" (sofian . . . kai paideia o ecouqenwn, 3:11),
which properly belong to this category will be dealt with in
the discussion of the group below since they are here used
only with reference to the "ungodly" (asebeij).
271 Cf. the statistics on byvx-exqroj in n. 175
enemies,272 so that the writer of the Wisdom of Solomon
simply followed the lead of scriptural sources. This usage
is likely the earliest in the byvx-group.273 What is
interesting about these designations in Wisdom is their
antithetic relation to a few designations which indicate a
positive religious stance. In Wisdom the enemies oppose
race,"274 "holy men"275 and the "righteous."276 At this
point, the writer has exhibited a shift from Sirach where
the designation "righteous" does not occur in enemy
Wisdom uses asebhj ("ungodly") more often than any
other designation belonging to this category.277 Occa-
sionally amartwloj ( "sinner" )278 appears and anomoj
272 Cf. H. Ringgren, "byx ‘ayabh; byeOx ‘oyebh;
hbAyxe," ‘ebhah,” Theological Dictionary of the Old Testa-
ment, ed. by G. Botterweck and H. Ringgren, trans. by J.
Vol. I (rev. ed.,
273 Ruppert, pp. 8-13, 104-105.
276 10:20; 16:7, 23; 18:7; cf. 5:15.
277 1:9, 16; 3:10; 4:3, 16; 5:14; 10:6, 20; 11:9; 12:9;
16:16, 18; 19:1; cf. also asebeia and o asebwn in 14:9.
278 4:10; 19;13; cf. also amartanwn in 14:31 and
amartia in 1:4; 10:13.
("lawless")279 as well, but these two do not appear with
nearly the frequency found in Sirach. A check of possible
Greek translations of enemy designations belonging to the
fwr–group yields several other terms which most naturally
occur in the same contexts. These include the "unrighteous"
(adikoj)280 those who "trivialize another's labors"
(aqetountwn touj po nouj autou),281 badness"
(kakia),282 "accursed race" ( sperma . . .
kathramenon)283 "evil" (ponhria)284 and "lying mouth"
stoma . . . katayeudomenoj).285 These members of the
fwr-group issue in three categories or understandings of
The most obvious understanding of these folk is that
their wickedness, is a moral and religious stance. They are
279 17:2; cf. also ek . . . anomwn . . . teknwn in
4:6; anomhmatwn, in 1:9; anomia in 5:23 and paranomoj
280 3:19; 4:16; 10:3; 12:12; 14:31; 16:24; cf.,also
adikia in 1:5; fqeggemenoj adikia in 1:8 and adikou ghj
282 2:21; 4:11; 5:13; 7:30; 12:2; 16:14; cf. also kak'o5-
in 15:6; 16:8; kakopragia in 5:23 and kakotexnon yuxhn
284 4:6, 14; 10:7; 17:11.
adulterers (3:16) and blasphemers (1:6). They refuse to
know God in spite of historical and natural phenomena which
clearly reveal God's identity and intention (16:16). Such
people, when parents, are capable of murdering their own
children even while practicing their perverse religion
which, of course, sponsors the atrocities (12:5-6). Immoral
people like these are ungrateful to the God whose very word
preserves those who believe (16:26-29). In comparison with
these morally and religiously bankrupt people a barren, yet
undefiled, woman or a eunuch are blessed (3:13-14). The
destiny of childlessness with virtue is preferred to that
of an unrighteous generation (3:19-4:1).
The second understanding of the ungodly is closely
related to their moral and religious outrage. They are in
active opposition to the righteous.286 Indeed, they oppress
them (5:1). These righteous are none other than God's
"elect" (eklektoi),287 the Jews, a "hallowed people and
blameless seed."288 In view of this, the ungodly are quite
286 3:1, 10; 4:16; 5:1, 15; 10:6, 20; 11:14; 12:9;
16:17, 23; cf. 2:10-20.
287 3:9; 4:15; cf. also the pepoiqetej in 3:9; 16:24;
pistoi in 3:9; 16:26; osioi in 3:9; 4:15; 10:17; 18:1 and
agioi in 1:5; 5:5.
288 10:5; also euarestoj qe& genomenoj hgaphqh in
4:10; uioi qeou in 5:5; 16:26; 18:4; laon sou (i.e.,
qeou) in 16:20; 19:5; taij saij (i.e., qe&) in 19:6
and oi t^ s^ (i.e., qe&) skepazomenoi xeiri in 19:18.
reasonably identified with
enemies, the Egyptians, Canaanites and others.289 These
past enemies of
temporary enemies in the (Egyptian) diaspora.
The preceding understandings of wicked enmity as moral,
religious and ethnic hostility are quite expected in
Israelite literature. More significant is the final per-
ception in Wisdom: the ungodly are various kinds of
fools;290 because "wisdom will not enter a deceitful soul
nor dwell in a body enslaved to sin" (1:4). The identity
between the righteous and the wise, however, is only once
confirmed by explicit coordination of the righteous, the
target of the ungodly, with the wise man.
The righteous man (dikaioj) who has died will
condemn the ungodly who are living,
and youth that is quickly perfected will condemn
the prolonged old age of the unrighteous man.
For they will see the end of the wise man (sofoou),
and will not understand what the Lord
purposed for him,
and for what he kept him safe.
Wisdom of Solomon 4:16-17
Evidently, the identification of foolish with ungodly was
much clearer than that between the righteous and the wise.
289 Cf. exqrou in 5:17; 10:19; 11:5; 16:22; eqnouj
qlibontwn in 10:15; basileusin foberoi in 10:16 and
upenantiouj in 11:8.
290 Afronaj in 1:3; 3:2; 5:4; asuneton in 1:5;
parafronaj in 5:20; sofian . . . kai paideian o
ecouqenwn in 3:11; sofian . . . paradeusantej in 10:7 and
apaideutoi yuxai in 17:1; cf. also afronsunhj in 10:8.
The Neutral Group
In previous wisdom literature the "stranger" or "other"
(allotrioj) has often, though not always, been portrayed as
an enemy figure. The allotrioj is differently regarded in
the Wisdom of Solomon, however, for he is presented as the
victim of enemy actions.
The punishments did not come upon the sinners
without prior signs in the violence of thunder,
for they justly suffered because of their
for they practiced a more bitter hatred of
Others had refused to receive strangers when
they came to them,
but these made slaves of guests who were their
And not only so, but punishment of some sort
will come upon the former
for their hostile reception of the aliens;
but the latter, after receiving them with
afflicted with terrible sufferings
those who had already shared the same rights.
They were stricken also with loss of sight--
just as were those at the door of the righteous
when, surrounded by yawning darkness,
each tried to find the way through his own door.
Wisdom of Solomon 19:13-17291
The "multitude" (plhqoj) functions as an enemy
designation only when it is further qualified by some less
ambiguous or non-ambiguous term. Once, the "prolific brood
of the ungodly," who are ephemeral and useless appears
291Allotrioj is used only one other time in the
Wisdom of Solomon where it is maintained that it would be
alien (allotrion) to God's power "to condemn him who does
not deserve to be punished" (12:15).
(4:3). At another point, the writer of Wisdom demonstrates
the exceptional propriety of God's acts of judgment by
pointing out that God could have sent upon the Egyptians a
"multitude of bears" instead of the "multitude of irrational
creatures" so akin to the irrational serpents and other
worthless animals which they worshiped (11:1517).
The "powers that be," "king" (basileuj), "mighty"
(krataioj) and "those who exercise power" (katadunasteu-
santej), are generally portrayed as beneficent or, at
least, not harmful.292 This is, of course, entirely in
keeping with the book's "wise king"-ideal adapted from the
Hellenistic milieu with its many tracts "On Kingship" which
customarily treated universal ethical ideals.293 Twice,
however, the king is an enemy whom Moses confronted (10:16)
or the one whom God punished just as he did all Egyptians
(18:11). Similarly, those who exercise power are once the
enemies of God's people (15:14), and the mighty are liable
to greater responsibilities than their subjects. There is
a strict inquiry in store for them (6:8).
The Friends and Kinfolk Group
Only once does the "friend" (filoj) characterize an
enemy in the Wisdom of Solomon. Mentioned is the one whom
292 Cf. basileuj in 6:1, 24; 7:5; 9:7; 11:10; 12:14;
293 Reese, pp. 71-37.