A Dissertation

                                     Presented to

                                 the Faculty of the

                   Southern Baptist Theological Seminary













                                In Partial Fulfillment

                      of the Requirements for the Degree

                                Doctor of Philosophy


                                John Keating Wiles

                                         June 1982




             Digitized by Ted Hildebrandt, Gordon College, 2006

                 Displayed with permission from Dr. John Keating Wiles





                                APPROVAL SHEET









                                  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

                        Proverbs                                                                                 32

                                    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

                        Job                                                                                          61

                                    The byvx-Group                                                        61

                                    The fwr-Group                                                         66

                                    The Neutral Group                                                   72





                                    The Friends and Kinfolk Group                                           74

                                    The Animals Group                                                               76

                        Qoheleth                                                                                            77

                                    The fwr-Group                                                                     78

                                    The Neutral Group                                                                79

                                    The Animals Group                                                               80

                        Sirach                                                                                                 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

            Summary                                                                                            121

3. Derivative Enemies in Wisdom Literature                                             127

            Proverbs                                                                                            129

                        Foolish Characters as Enemies                                            130

                        Righteous Characters as Enemies                                       138

                        Wisdom and Yahweh as Enemies                                        141

            Job                                                                                                      146

                        Righteous Characters as Enemies                                       150

                        Satan as an Enemy                                                                 156

                        Yahweh as an Enemy                                                 157

                        "The Enemy behind the Enemy"                                           163

            Qoheleth                                                                                            166

            Sirach                                                                                                 169

                        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

            Summary                                                                                            190




4. Wise Responses to the Enemy                                                                194

            Proverbs                                                                                             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

                                    Self-destruction                                                        218

                                    Fate-fixing actor                                                        219

                        Yahweh as "midwife"                                                             222

            Job                                                                                                      227

                        The Friends                                                                            228

                        Elihu                                                                                       232

                        Yahweh                                                                                   234

                        Job                                                                                          235

                        Response to Satan?                                                               239

            Qoheleth                                                                                            239

                        "Quietism"                                                                              240

                        Hatred                                                                                    242

                        Enjoyment                                                                              245

                        Fear                                                                                        253






            Sirach                                                                                                 258

                        Hostility                                                                                 259

                        Caution                                                                                   262

                        Reconciliation                                                                      266

                        Piety                                                                                       275

                        Motives behind Sirach's Counsel                                         278

                                    Death                                                                         280

                                    Shame                                                                         281

                        Response to Wisdom                                                            284

            Wisdom of Solomon                                                                        285

                        Welcome to Strangers                                                         285

                        Responses to Idols and Their Worshipers             287

                        Gentleness                                                                            290

                        Motives behind Responses to the Enemy                           293

            Summary                                                                                            296


5. Conclusion                                                                                               299


Bibliography                                                                                                 307



            I. Enemy Designations within the

                        Wisdom Literature                                                                321

            II. Enemy Behavior within the

                        Wisdom Literature                                                                329

            III. Derivative Enemy Designations                                                 350


Abstract                                                                                                         361

Biographical Data                                                                                          363









                                         Chapter 1




            The wisdom tradition of Israel departs in a remarkable

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.

                                                                                    Proverbs 25:21-22

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

non-aggressive way.1

            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., Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1901),

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

personal enemy.

            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

37, 39-50.

            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

David's restraint.

            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.

Marks (rev. ed., Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1972),

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 (Atlanta:  John

Knox Press, 1981), p. 169 (= "Struktur and Geschichte der

Klage im Alten Testament," ZAW 66 [1954], 44-80).

            8 A. Anderson, The Book of Psalms, Vol. I (Grand Rapids:

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

                                    find none.

                                                                                    Psalm 10:15


            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

                                    against thee?

            I hate them with perfect hatred;

                        I count them my enemies.

                                                                        Psalm 139:19-229

            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),

p. 161.


(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.,

Richmond: John Knox Press, 1964), pp. 285-313; J. Bright,

The Authority of the Old Testament (Nashville: Abingdon

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

almost anybody from Egypt to Mesopotamia.

            13 Suggested enemies are Absalom in Psalm 3; Cush a

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

7," in St. Basil: Exegetic Homilies, trans. by A. Way

(Washington, D. C.: The Catholic University of America

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

Vol. 13, ed. by J. Pelikan (St. Louis: Concordia PubIrgang

House, 1956), 143-224.

            15 Cf. J. Olshausen, Die Psalmen (Leipzig: S. Hirzel,

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 (Leipzig und Tabingen: J. C. B. Mohr [Paul

Siebeck], 1899); but S. Driver, An Introduction to the 

Literature of the Old Testament (New York: Meridian Books,

(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 Israels 

(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

Israel's Worship, 2 Vols., trans. by D. Ap-Thomas

(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 Israel's Worship is the English title

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

heraus erklaren.

            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

(1925), 260-262.

            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 (Oslo:  I Kommisjon Hos Jacob Dybwad,

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 [London: SCM Press, 19621.)

or a Royal Zion Festival (H. J. Kraus, Worship in Israel:

A Cultic History of the Old Testament, trans. by G. Buswell

Richmond: John Knox Press, 1966]; and Psalmen [5 Aufl.,

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 

israelitischen Psalmearteratur (Oslo: Grondahl and sons,

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 Israel, not fellow Israelites

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

Anderson at the passages cited.

            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

national enemies.

                        . . .  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

            expressly stated.35

            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-

gartner, Die Klagegedichte des Jeremias (Giessen: Alfred

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 Ritual School"40 also offers an inter-

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

Judah is a necessary assumption; otherwise they could not

have been used and would not have been preserved. Although

it is historically unlikely that Hannah could have used a

royal psalm (before there was any royalty in Israel), the

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.

There was, after all, a temple in Israel before there was

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.

            40 I. Engnell, Studies  in Divine Kingship in the Ancient 

Near East (Uppsala:—Almqvist and Wiksells Bbltr., 1943),

p. 170; A. Johnson, "The Role of the King in the Jerusalem

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.

Cf. J. Eaton, Kingship and the Psalms (Naperville, Ill.:

Alec R. Allenson, 1970). His extensive royal interpreta-

tion, though not the same as the "Myth and Ritual School,"

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 demons, Israel's theological

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,

trans. by D. Ap-Thomas (Philadelphia: Fortress Press,

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

Israel. Yet, the "comparisons and metaphors" would most

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

found in E. Gerstenberger, "Psalms," in Old Testament Form 

Criticism, ed. by J. Hayes (San Antonio:—"Trinity University

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

passages listed.

            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.

by Willis (rev. ed., Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974), 215.

            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 Israel departs

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



                        Methodological Caveats

            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 Israel. This may seem obvious,

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 (London:

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

Intellectual Tradition in the Old Testament (Berlin:

DeGruyter, 1974).


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.

            70 I. Levi, The Hebrew Text of the Book of Ecclesiasticus

(Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1904); Y. Yadin, The Ben Sirs Scroll

from Masada with Introduction, Emendations and Commentary

(Jerusalem: The Israel Exploration Society and the Shrine

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 Commentary (Garden City, New York:

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.

Camilo dos Santos, An Expanded Hebrew Index for the Hatch-

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

of behavior.

            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 Israel in Relation to the

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,

equally true.

            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,

p. 17.

            77 Cf., for example, W. Zimmerli, "Zur Struktur der

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 Egypt

and Mesopotamia is now a certainty. This is more


(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 Interpretation (Bloomington: Indiana

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,

Canticles, Ecclesiastes, Esther (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans,

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 Israel

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

with Israel as Israel and not simply as one more instance of

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





                                    Chapter 2




            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 Individualpsalmen (Stuttgart: Ieriag

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 [1954], 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

P. Ackroyd [New York: Harper and Row, 1965], pp. 474-475),

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.

Skladny, Die ältesten Spruchsammlungen in Israel [Gottingen:

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 Wisdom [Washington: Catholic

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.


The byvx-Group

            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 [Philadelphia: Westminster

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.

            5 16:7.

            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

more closely.

            A hater makes himself unknown with his lips,

                        and sets deceit in his innards;

            When he makes his voice gracious, do not rely

                                    on him,

                 for seven abominations are in his heart.

            Hatred is concealed with guile,

                        his evil is uncovered in assembly.

                                                                                    Proverbs 26:24-26

            Reliable are the wounds of a friend,

                        while plentiful are the kisses of a hater.

                                                                                    Proverbs 27:6

            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 fwr-Group

            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 Wisdom Literatures Israel and

the Ancient Near East (Missoula: Scholars Press, 1977),

p. 161.

            9 2:22; 21:18.

            10 4:14, 14:19; 24:20.

            11 9:7.

            12 11:7.

            13 19:28.

            14 24:19.

            15 29:27.


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.

            17 13:17.

            18 28:4.

            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

Weisheitsliterature (Berlin: Verlag Alfred Topelmann,

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.

            27 28:1.


            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

their belongings.

            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

                        rises again;

                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

                        his beast,

                 but the mercy of the wicked is cruel.

                                                                        Proverbs 12:10

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


            28 21:10.

            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.

                                                                        Proverbs 12:6

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.

                                                                        Proverbs 17:23

            A worthless witness mocks at justice,

                        and the mouth of the wicked devours

                                    iniquity.                      Proverbs 19:28


            30 Prov. 10:6, 11, 32.

            31 15:28.

            32 W. Zimmerli, "The place and Limit of Wisdom in the

Framework of the Old Testament Theology," Scottish Journal

of Theology 17 (1964), 149.

            33 12:5.

            34 11:11.


            The violence of the wicked will sweep them


                 because they refuse to do what is just.

                                                                        Proverbs 21:7

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


                                                                        Proverbs 29:7

            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.

            37 29:12.

            38 H. Boecker, Law and the Administration of Justice in

the Old Testament and Ancient East, trans. by J. Moiser

Minneapolis:. Augsburg Publishing House, 1980), pp. 40-49.




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


            39 21:28.

            40 19:28.

            41 24:28.

            42 6:19; 12:17; 14:5; 19:5, 9; 25:19.

            43 12:17.

            44 6:19; 14:5; 19:5, 9.

            45 24:28.

            46 16:29.



(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

                        the Pit;

            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.

                                                                        Proverbs 1:10-19

            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

is done.


            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.

            48 28:24.

            49 21:15.


            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


                                                                        Proverbs 17:4

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.

            52 25:19.

            53 22:12.

            54 10:18; 12:22; cf. 26:24.

            55 21:6.


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

                        his name--

                 who acts with overreaching pride.

                                                            Proverbs 21:24

            Whoever plans to do evil,

                  to him they shall call, "Lord of devices!"

                                                            Proverbs 24:8

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


            56 26:28.

            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,

p. 305f.

            58 Prov. 14:31; 22:16; 28:3.


(a situation no less true in Israel than elsewhere).59 The

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.

                                                                        Proverbs 27:2

            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.

            60 28:3.

            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 (Lund: C.

Gleerup, 1934); McKane, pp. 264-288, 314-320, 326-331, 334-

341, 365-368; B. Lang, Die weisheit Lehrrede: Eine 

Untersuch von Spruche 1-7 (Stuttgart: Katholische

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;

M. Tate, Jr., A Study of the Wise Men of Israel  in Relation

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.

                                                            Proverbs 2:17-19

            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

this chapter."

            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)

which belonged to Yahweh's covenant with Israel.

            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 (Naperville, Ill.: Alec. R. Allenson,

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 (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1781),

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

commits adultery.

            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 (Garden City, New York: Doubleday and Company,

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"

(G-K 106g). Cf. RSV, KJV, NEB, JB, TEV, NASB and NIV.

            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

                                    without sense.

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

(1955), 10.

            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

[1950], 15-27; and Studies in the LXX, III:  Proverbs

(Lund: C. W. K. Gleerup, 1956). On p. 43 McKane lists

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,

pp. 699-700.


actualized the warnings about the "strange woman."83 This

exegetical move may be seen at Qumran where the figure

really refers to "all powers which could estrange the member

of this brotherhood."84 Not only at Qumran was this tradi-

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, "

Sir. 41:22).

            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

                                    women (tvrz)

                        with whomever Yahweh is angry, he will

                                    fall there.

                                                                        Proverbs 22:14


            86 See J. Wilson, "The Instruction of the Vizier Ptah-

Hotep," Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old

Testament, by J. Pritchard (2nd ed., Princeton:

Princeton University Press, 1955), p. 413.


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

                        from him.

                                                            Proverbs 19:789


            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

the line.

            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"


            92 17:18.

            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.

                                                            Proverbs 25:7c-10

Another observation notes that one's case always looks good

at first, but the cross-examination of a friend poses a

nameless hazard.

            He who states his case first seems right,

                        until the other comes and examines him.

                                                                        Proverbs 18:17

            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.

                                                                        Proverbs 25:17

            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).

            96 26:11.

            97 26:17.

            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 byvx       

            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 Studies (New York: The Jewish

Theological Seminary of America, 1978); M. Pope, Job:

Introduction, Translation, and Notes (3rd ed., Garden City,

New York: Doubleday and Company, 1973). Job 33:10,

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  (Nashville: Abingdon

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?

                                                            Job 13:24109

            He has kindled his wrath against me

                        and counted me as his adversary.

                                                            Job 19:11

            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

dOly; 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

                        against thee?

            I hate them with perfect hatred.

                                                            Psalm 139:21-22a

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"

(jybyvx-tx ytbyx).113

            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 fwr-Group

            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,

p. 140.

            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.

            123 8:20.

            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"


            126 21:30.

            127 8:13.

            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

            129 18:21.

            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.

            135 22:29.

            136 24:3.


(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.

                                                                                    Job 8:22

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


            137 24:3.

            138 24:12, revocalizing with BHS to Mytime  

            139 24:12.

            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 Israel.

            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

                                                                        Psalm 107:40-41

            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

the wicked.

            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 34:35-37

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

haplography; cf. G. Fohrer, Das Buch Hiob (Gutersloh:

Gutersloh Verlagshaus G. Mohn 1963), p. 309; G. Holscher,

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

this interpretation.


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-

                                    gotten me;

            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.

            155 19:14.


                        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

                                    (ynFb ynbl)

            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.

                                                                        Job 19:13-19

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

the Psalter.

            It is not an enemy who taunts me--

                        then I could bear it;

            it is not an adversary who deals insolently

                                    with me--

                        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,

                                                                        Psalm 55:13-15156

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,

pp. 9ff.

            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.

            160 4:10-11,

            161 4:8.

            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 fwr-Group

            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

            oath (xry-hfvbw).

                                                                        Qoheleth 9:2

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,

Humphries and James M. Ward (Missoula: Scholars

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.

                                                                                    Qoheleth 4:1

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

for revelry.

            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.

                                                                        Qoheleth 10:16-17

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,

                                    of Jerusalem,

                        who out of his heart poured forth wisdom.

                                                                                    Sirach 50:27

            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 Israel's history


            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 byvx-Group

            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;

49:9; 51:8.

            177 Anqesthkotaj (46:6); antidikon (33 [36]: 6[7]);

exqran (6:9; 37:2); paresthkotwn (51:2); upenantiwn

-ouj (23:3; 47:7).

            178 20:15.

            179 22:20.


(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


                                                                        Sirach 30:3181

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


            180 21:27.

            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

human opponent. Cf. J. Snaith, Ecclesiasticus (Cambridge:

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

for Israel's deliverance from "foreign nations"

(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 

Ecclesiasticus (Munster: Aschendorffsche Terlagsbuch-

handlung, 1915), pp. 176f., "Der Satan ist genannt als

eigene schwache and verderbteWale des-Minschen (vgl. Jak,.

1, 14f.)  Damit ist naturlichdie teuflische Versuchung 

nicht absolut-ausgeschlossen."


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 Israel (or the hero being praised) is intended.

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

hostility to Israel, Israel's leader of the day and Israel's


            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

                                    heavy spear,

                        it will fight on your behalf against your


                                                                        Sirach 29:12-13

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 fwr-Group

            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,

27; 40:10.

            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);

45:18; 49:5.

            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.

                                                            Sirach 36(33):14-15

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 gods in Jerusalem, the male

cult prostitutes, the priests in Bethel and Samaria and the

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[36]: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

                                    wrongfully obtained,

                        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.

                                                            Sirach 31(34):18-19

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

                                    in wisdom,

                        and the Lord will prosper it.

                                                            Sirach 15:9-10

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.

            203 32(35):17-21.



"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.

                                                                                    Sirach 12:1

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


            20410:19; 19:24.


            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

indigestion (40:28-30).

            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).

            213 28:13-26.



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

                                    a serpent,

                        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 you.

                                                                        Sirach 12:13-15

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"


            214 28:8-12,



(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).


            215 11:29-34.

            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.

                                                                        Sirach 26:10-12

            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.

                                                                        Sirach 25:13-15

            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

(Israel Levi, The Hebrew Text of the Book of Ecclesiasticus

[Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1904];  Yigael Yadin, The Ben Sira

Scroll from Masada with Introduction Emendations and 

Commentary [Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society and

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,

pp. 213f.

            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.,

Sapientia Iesu Filii Sirach  (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck and

Auprecht, 1965),

            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.

                                                                        Sirach 10:3

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

deemed enemies.233

            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

                                    add apologies.

                                                                        Sirach 13:3

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 Israel's

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?

                                                                                    Sirach 37:1-2

            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[33]: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.

                                                                                    Sirach 20:23

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.

                                                                                    Sirach 6:9

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.

            242 12:8-18.

            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

tragic indeed.

            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;

42:12-14; 47:19.

            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, probably Alexandria, from the

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 (Oxford: Clarendon

Press, 1881), pp. 7:35); P. Heinisch, Das Buch der Weisheit  

(Munster: Aschendorffsche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1912),

pp. XIX-XXIII; E. Clarke, The Wisdom of Solomon (Cambridge:

Cambridge University Press, 1973), pp. 1-3; D. Winston,

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 (Rome: Biblical Tnstitute Press, 1971),

p. 154.


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 [1945], 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.


The byvx-Group

            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 refer to Israel's historical

enemies, known from scripture, who were "most foolish, and

more miserable than an infant" (15:14). For Wisdom the

cardinal enemy in Israel's history is certainly Egypt.264

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.

            260 10:11.

            261 11:3.

            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

Alexandrian setting.

            265 10:9-12.

            266 12:3-22.

            267 11:5.


of wild beasts which God sent against Israel is mentioned


            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 Israel (18:21)269 and, once against

Egypt (19:1), and God's "all-powerful word" which accom-

plished the death of Egypt's firstborn is designated as a

"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 to Israel's political


            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

are also identified with Israel's historical enemies at

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

Israel, who is designated as a "holy people and blameless

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



The fwr-Group

            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.  

Willis, Vol. I (rev. ed., Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977),


            273 Ruppert, pp. 8-13, 104-105.

            274 10:15.

            275 10:17.

            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 "wicked."

            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

in 3:16.

            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

in 16:19.

            281 5:1.

            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

in 1:4.

            283 12:11.

            284 4:6, 14; 10:7; 17:11.

            285 1:11. 


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 Israel's and God's historical

enemies, the Egyptians, Canaanites and others.289  These

past enemies of Israel are paradigmatic for the Jews' con-

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

                        wicked acts;

            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

                        festal celebrations,

            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.