the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary Keil & Delitzsch
by Karl Keil and Franz Delitzsch
The Book of Proverbs
The Book of Proverbs bears the external title ספר משׁלי , which it derives from the words with which it commences. It is one of the three books which are distinguished from the other twenty-one by a peculiar system of accentuation, the best exposition of which that has yet been given is that by S. Baer,
(Note: Cf. Outlines of Hebrew Accentuation, Prose and Poetical, by Rev. A. B. Davidson, D.D., Professor of Hebrew, Free Church College, Edinburgh, 1861, based on Baer's Torath Emeth, Rödelheim 1872.)
as set forth in my larger Psalmen-commentar
(Note: Vol. ii., ed. of 1860, pp. 477-511).
The memorial word for these three books, viz., Job, Mishle (Proverbs), and Tehillim (Psalms), is אמת , formed from the first letter of the first word of each book, or, following the Talmudic and Masoretic arrangement of the books, תאם .
Having in view the superscription משׁלי שׁלמת , with which the book commences, the ancients regarded it as wholly the composition of Solomon. The circumstance that it contains only 800 verses, while according to 1 Kings 5:12 (1 Kings 4:32) Solomon spake 3000 proverbs, R. Samuel bar-Nachmani explains by remarking that each separate verse may be divided into two or three allegories or apothegms ( e.g., Proverbs 25:12), not to mention other more arbitrary modes of reconciling the discrepancy.
(Note: Pesikta, ed. Buber (1868), 34 b, 35 a. Instead of 800, the Masora reckons 915 verses in the Book of Proverbs.)
The opinion also of R. Jonathan, that Solomon first composed the Canticles, then the Proverbs, and last of all Ecclesiastes, inasmuch as the first corresponds
(Note: Schir-ha-Schirim Rabba, c. i.f. 4a.)
with the spring-time of youth, the second with the wisdom of manhood, and the third with the disappointment of old age, is founded on the supposition of the unity of the book and of its Solomonic authorship.
At the present day also there are some, such as Stier, who regard the Book of Proverbs from first to last as the work of Solomon, just as Klauss (1832) and Randegger (1841) have ventured to affirm that all the Psalms without exception were composed by David. But since historical criticism has been applied to Biblical subjects, that blind submission to mistaken tradition appears as scarcely worthy of being mentioned. The Book of Proverbs presents itself as composed of various parts, different from each other in character and in the period to which they belong. Under the hands of the critical analysis it resolves itself into a mixed market of the most manifold intellectual productions of proverbial poetry, belonging to at least three different epochs.
1. The External Plan of the Book of Proverbs, and Its Own Testimony as to Its Origin
The internal superscription of the book, which recommends it, after the manner of later Oriental books, on account of its importance and the general utility of its contents, extends from Proverbs 1:1 to Proverbs 1:6. Among the moderns this has been acknowledged by Löwenstein and Maurer; for Proverbs 1:7, which Ewald, Bertheau, and Keil have added to it, forms a new commencement to the beginning of the book itself. The book is described as “The Proverbs of Solomon,” and then there is annexed the statement of its object. That object, as summarily set forth in Proverbs 1:2, is practical, and that in a twofold way: partly moral, and partly intellectual. The former is described in Proverbs 1:3-5. It presents moral edification, moral sentiments for acceptance, not merely to help the unwise to attain to wisdom, but also to assist the wise. The latter object is set forth in Proverbs 1:6. It seeks by its contents to strengthen and discipline the mind to the understanding of thoughtful discourses generally. In other words, it seeks to gain the moral ends which proverbial poetry aims at, and at the same time to make familiar with it, so that the reader, in these proverbs of Solomon, or by means of them as of a key, learns to understand such like apothegms in general. Thus interpreted, the title of the book does not say that the book contains proverbs of other wise men besides those of Solomon; if it did so, it would contradict itself. It is possible that the book contains proverbs other than those of Solomon, possible that the author of the title of the book added such to it himself, but the title presents to view only the Proverbs of Solomon. If Proverbs 1:7 begins the book, then after reading the title we cannot think otherwise than that here begin the Solomonic proverbs. If we read farther, the contents and the form of the discourses which follow do not contradict this opinion; for both are worthy of Solomon. So much the more astonished are we, therefore, when at Proverbs 10:1 we meet with a new superscription, משׁלי שׁלמה , from which point on to Proverbs 22:16 there is a long succession of proverbs of quite a different tone and form - short maxims, Mashals proper - while in the preceding section of the book we find fewer proverbs than monitory discourses. What now must be our opinion when we look back from this second superscription to the part 1:7-9:18, which immediately follows the title of the book? Are 1:7-9:18, in the sense of the book, not the “Proverbs of Solomon”? From the title of the book, which declares them to be so, we must judge that they are. Or are they “Proverbs of Solomon”? In this case the new superscription (Proverbs 10:1), “The Proverbs of Solomon,” appears altogether incomprehensible. And yet only one of these two things is possible: on the one side, therefore, there must be a false appearance of contradiction, which on a closer investigation disappears. But on which side is it? If it is supposed that the tenor of the title, Proverbs 1:1-6, does not accord with that of the section 10:1-22:6, but that it accords well with that of 1:7-9:18 (with the breadth of expression in 1:7-9:18, it has also several favourite words not elsewhere occurring in the Book of Proverbs; among these, ערמה , subtilty, and מזמּה , discretion, Proverbs 1:4), then Ewald's view is probable, that chap. 1-9 is an original whole written at once, and that the author had no other intention than to give it as an introduction to the larger Solomonic Book of Proverbs beginning at Proverbs 10:1. But it is also possible that the author of the title has adopted the style of the section Prov 1:7-9:18. Bertheau, who has propounded this view, and at the same time has rejected, in opposition to Ewald, the idea of the unity of the section, adopts this conclusion, that in 1:8-9:18 there lies before us a collection of the admonitions of different authors of proverbial poetry, partly original introductions to larger collections of proverbs, which the author of the title gathers together in order that he may give a comprehensive introduction to the larger collection contained in 10:1-22:16. But such an origin of the section as Bertheau thus imagines is by no means natural; it is more probable that the author, whose object is, according to the title of the book, to give the proverbs of Solomon, introduces these by a long introduction of his own, than that, instead of beginning with Solomon's proverbs, he first presents long extracts of a different kind from collections of proverbs. If the author, as Bertheau thinks, expresses indeed, in the words of the title, the intention of presenting, along with the “Proverbs of Solomon,” also the “words of the wise,” then he could not have set about his work more incorrectly and self-contradictorily than if he had begun the whole, which bears the superscription “Proverbs of Solomon” (which must be regarded as presenting the proverbs of Solomon as a key to the words of the wise generally), with the “words of the wise.” But besides the opinion of Ewald, which in itself, apart from internal grounds, is more natural and probable than that of Bertheau, there is yet the possibility of another. Keil, following H. A. Hahn, is of opinion, that in the sense of the author of the title, the section 1-9 is Solomonic as well as 10-22, but that he has repeated the superscription “Proverbs of Solomon” before the latter section, because from that point onward proverbs follow which bear in a special measure the characters of the Mashal (Hävernick's Einl. iii. 428). The same phenomenon appears in the book of Isaiah, where, after the general title, there follows an introductory address, and then in Isaiah 2:1 the general title is repeated in a shorter form. That this analogy, however, is here inapplicable, the further discussion of the subject will show.
The introductory section Prov 1:7-9:18, and the larger section 10:1-22:16, which contains uniform brief Solomonic apothegms, are followed by a third section, 22:17-24:22. Hitzig, indeed, reckons 10:1-24:22 as the second section, but with Proverbs 22:17 there commences an altogether different style, and a much freer manner in the form of the proverb; and the introduction to this new collection of proverbs, which reminds us of the general title, places it beyond a doubt that the collector does not at all intend to set forth these proverbs as Solomonic. It may indeed be possible that, as Keil (iii. 410) maintains, the collector, inasmuch as he begins with the words, “Incline thine ear and hear words of the wise,” names his own proverbs generally as “words of the wise,” especially since he adds, “and apply thine heart to my knowledge;” but this supposition is contradicted by the superscription of a fourth section, Proverbs 24:23., which follows. This short section, an appendix to the third, bears the superscription, “These things also are לחכמים .” If Keil thinks here also to set aside the idea that the following proverbs, in the sense of this superscription, have as their authors “the wise,” he does unnecessary violence to himself. The ל is here that of authorship and if the following proverbs are composed by the חכמים , “the wise,” then they are not the production of the one חכם , “wise man,” Solomon, but they are “the words of the wise” in contradistinction to “the Proverbs of Solomon.”
The Proverbs of Solomon begin again at Proverbs 25:1; and this second large section (corresponding to the first, 10:1-22:16) extends to chap. 29. This fifth portion of the book has a superscription, which, like that of the preceding appendix, commences thus: “Also ( גּם ) these are proverbs of Solomon which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah collected.” The meaning of the word העתּיקוּ is not doubtful. It signifies, like the Arameo-Arabic נסח , to remove from their place, and denote that the men of Hezekiah removed from the place where they found them the following proverbs, and placed them together in a separate collection. The words have thus been understood by the Greek translator. From the supplementary words αἱ ἀδιάκριτοι (such as exclude all διάκρισις ) it is seen that the translator had a feeling of the important literary historical significance of that superscription, which reminds us of the labours of the poetical grammarians appointed by Pisitratus to edit older works, such as those of Hesiod. The Jewish interpreters, simply following the Talmud, suppose that the “also” ( גּם ) belongs to the whole superscription, inclusive of the relative sentence, and that it thus bears witness to the editing of the foregoing proverbs also by Hezekiah and his companions;
(Note: Vid., B. Bathra, 15 a. From the fact that Isaiah outlived Hezekiah it is there concluded that the Hezekiah-collegium also continued after Hezekiah's death. Cf. Fürst on the Canon of the O.T. 1868, p. 78f.)
which is altogether improbable, for then, if such were the meaning of the words, “which the men of Hezekiah,” etc., they ought to have stood after Proverbs 1:1. The superscription Proverbs 25:1 thus much rather distinguishes the following collection from that going before, as having been made under Hezekiah. As two appendices followed the “Proverbs of Solomon,” 10:1-22:16, so also two appendices the Hezekiah-gleanings of Solomonic proverbs. The former two appendices, however, originate in general from the “wise,” the latter more definitely name the authors: the first, chap. 30, is by “Agur the son of Jakeh;” the second, Proverbs 31:1-9, by a “King Lemuel.” In so far the superscriptions are clear. The name of the authors, elsewhere unknown, point to a foreign country; and to this corresponds the peculiar complexion of these two series of proverbs. As a third appendix to the Hezekiah-collection, Proverbs 31:10. follows, a complete alphabetical proverbial poem which describes the praiseworthy qualities of a virtuous woman.
We are thus led to the conclusion that the Book of Proverbs divides itself into the following parts: - (1) The title of the book, Proverbs 1:1-6, by which the question is raised, how far the book extends to which it originally belongs; (2) the hortatory discourses, 1:7-9:18, in which it is a question whether the Solomonic proverbs must be regarded as beginning with these, or whether they are only the introduction thereto, composed by a different author, perhaps the author of the title of the book; (3) the first great collection of Solomonic proverbs, 10:1-22:16; (4) the first appendix to this first collection, “The words of the wise,” 22:17-24:22; (5) the second appendix, supplement of the words of some wise men, Proverbs 24:23.; (6) the second great collection of Solomonic proverbs, which the “men of Hezekiah” collected, chap. 25-29; (7) the first appendix to this second collection, the words of Agur the son of Makeh, chap. 30; (8) the second appendix, the words of King Lemuel, Proverbs 31:1-9; (9) third appendix, the acrostic ode, Proverbs 31:10. These nine parts are comprehended under three groups: the introductory hortatory discourses with the general title at their head, and the two great collections of Solomonic proverbs with their two appendices. In prosecuting our further investigations, we shall consider the several parts of the book first from the point of view of the manifold forms of their proverbs, then of their style, and thirdly of their type of doctrine. From each of these three subjects of investigation we may expect elucidations regarding the origin of these proverbs and of their collections.
2. The Several Parts of the Book of Proverbs with Respect to the Manifold Forms of the Proverbs
If the Book of Proverbs were a collection of popular sayings, we should find in it a multitude of proverbs of one line each, as e.g., “Wickedness proceedeth from the wicked” (1 Samuel 24:13); but we seek for such in vain. At the first glance, Proverbs 24:23 appears to be a proverb of one line; but the line “To have respect of persons in judgment is not good,” is only the introductory line of a proverb which consists of several lines, Proverbs 24:24. Ewald is right in regarding as inadmissible a comparison of the collections of Arabic proverbs by Abu-Obeida, Meidani, and others, who gathered together and expounded the current popular proverbs, with the Book of Proverbs. Ali's Hundred Proverbs are, however, more worthy of being compared with it. Like these, Solomon's proverbs are, as a whole, the production of his own spirit, and only mediately of the popular spirit. To make the largeness of the number of these proverbs a matter of doubt were inconsiderate. Eichhorn maintained that even a godlike genius scarcely attains to so great a number of pointed proverbs and ingenious thoughts. But if we distribute Solomon's proverbs over his forty years' reign, then we have scarcely twenty for each year; and one must agree with the conclusion, that the composition of so many proverbs even of the highest ingenuity is no impossible problem for a “godlike genius.” When, accordingly, it is related that Solomon wrote 3000 proverbs, Ewald, in his History of Israel, does not find the number too great, and Bertheau does not regard it as impossible that the collection of the “Proverbs of Solomon” has the one man Solomon as their author. The number of the proverbs thus cannot determine us to regard them as having for the most part originated among the people, and the form in which they appear leads to an opposite conclusion. It is, indeed, probable that popular proverbs are partly wrought into these proverbs,
(Note: Isaac Euchel (1804), in his Commentary on the Proverbs, regards Proverbs 14:4 and Proverbs 17:19 as such popular proverbs.)
and many of their forms of expression are moulded after the popular proverbs; but as they thus lie before us, they are, as a whole, the production of the technical Mashal poetry.
The simplest form is, according to the fundamental peculiarity of the Hebrew verse, the distich. The relation of the two lines to each other is very manifold. The second line may repeat the thought of the first, only in a somewhat altered form, in order to express this thought as clearly and exhaustively as possible. We call such proverbs synonymous distichs; as e.g., Proverbs 11:25:
A soul of blessing is made fat,
And he that watereth others is himself watered.
Or the second line contains the other side of the contrast to the statement of the first; the truth spoken in the first is explained in the second by means of the presentation of its contrary. We call such proverbs antithetic distichs; as e.g., Proverbs 10:1:
A wise son maketh his father glad,
And a foolish son is his mother's grief.
Similar forms, Proverbs 10:16; Proverbs 12:5. Elsewhere, as Proverbs 18:14; Proverbs 20:24, the antithesis clothes itself in the form of a question. sometimes it is two different truths that are expressed in the two lines; and the authorization of their union lies only in a certain relationship, and the ground of this union in the circumstance that two lines are the minimum of the technical proverb - synthetic distichs; e.g., Proverbs 10:18:
A cloak of hatred are lying lips,
And he that spreadeth slander is a fool.
Not at all infrequently one line does not suffice to bring out the thought intended, the begun expression of which is only completed in the second. These we call integral ( eingedankige ) distichs; as e.g., Proverbs 11:31 (cf. 1 Peter 4:18):
The righteous shall be recompensed on the earth -
How much more the ungodly and the sinner!
To these distichs also belong all those in which the thought stated in the first receives in the second, by a sentence presenting a reason, or proof, or purpose, or consequence, a definition completing or perfecting it; e.g., Proverbs 13:14; Proverbs 16:10; Proverbs 19:20; Proverbs 22:28.
(Note: Such integral distichs are also Proverbs 15:3; Proverbs 16:7, Proverbs 16:10; Proverbs 17:13, Proverbs 17:15; Proverbs 18:9, Proverbs 18:13; Proverbs 19:26-27; Proverbs 20:7-8, Proverbs 20:10-11, Proverbs 20:20-21; Proverbs 21:4, Proverbs 21:13, Proverbs 21:16, Proverbs 21:21, Proverbs 21:23-24, Proverbs 21:30; Proverbs 22:4, Proverbs 22:11; Proverbs 24:8, Proverbs 24:26; Proverbs 26:16; Proverbs 27:14; Proverbs 28:8-9, Proverbs 28:17, Proverbs 28:24; Proverbs 29:1, Proverbs 29:5, Proverbs 29:12, Proverbs 29:14. In Proverbs 14:27; Proverbs 15:24; Proverbs 17:23; Proverbs 19:27, the second line consists of one sentence with ל and the infin.; in Proverbs 16:12, Proverbs 16:26; Proverbs 21:25; Proverbs 22:9; Proverbs 27:1; Proverbs 29:19, of one sentence with כּי ; with כּי אם , Proverbs 18:2; Proverbs 23:17. The two lines, as Proverbs 11:31; Proverbs 15:11; Proverbs 17:7; Proverbs 19:7, Proverbs 19:10, Proverbs 20:27, form a conclusion a minori ad majus, or the reverse. The former or the latter clauses stand in grammatical relation in Proverbs 23:1-2, Proverbs 23:15., Proverbs 27:22; Proverbs 29:21 (cf. Proverbs 22:29; Proverbs 24:10; Proverbs 26:12; Proverbs 29:20, with hypoth. perf., and Proverbs 26:26 with hypoth. fut.); in the logical relation of reason and consequence, Proverbs 17:14; Proverbs 20:2, Proverbs 20:4; in comparative relation, Proverbs 12:9, etc. These examples show that the two lines, not merely in the more recent, but also in the old Solomonic Mashal, do not always consist of two parallel members.)
But there is also a fifth form, which corresponds most to the original character of the Mashal: the proverb explaining its ethical object by a resemblance from the region of the natural and every-day life, the παραβολή proper. The form of this parabolic proverb is very manifold, according as the poet himself expressly compares the two subjects, or only places them near each other in order that the hearer or reader may complete the comparison. The proverb is least poetic when the likeness between the two subjects is expressed by a verb; as Proverbs 27:15 (to which, however, Proverbs 27:16 belongs):
A continual dropping in a rainy day
And a contentious woman are alike.
The usual form of expression, neither unpoetic nor properly poetic, is the introduction of the comparison by כּ [as], and of the similitude in the second clause by כּן [so]; as Proverbs 10:26:
As vinegar to the teeth, and as smoke to the eyes,
So is the sluggard to them who give him a commission.
This complete verbal statement of the relation of likeness may also be abbreviated by the omission of the כּן ; as Proverbs 25:13; Proverbs 26:11:
As a dog returning to his vomit -
A fool returning to his folly.
We call the parabolic proverbs of these three forms comparisons. The last, the abbreviated form of the comparative proverb, which we will call, in contradistinction to the comparative, the emblematic, in which the contrast and its emblem are loosely placed together without any nearer expression of the similitude; as e.g., Proverbs 26:20; Proverbs 27:17-18, Proverbs 27:20. This takes place either by means of the couplative Vav, ו , as Proverbs 25:25 -
Cold water to a thirsty soul,
And good news from a far country.
(Note: This so-called Vav adaequationis, which appears here for the first time in the Proverbs as the connection between the figure and the thing itself without a verbal predicate (cf. on the other hand, Job 5:7; Job 12:11; Job 14:11.), is, like the Vav, ו , of comparison, only a species of that Vav of association which is called in Arab. Waw alajam'a , or Waw alam'ayat , or Waw al'asatsahab ( vid., at Isaiah 42:5); and since usage attributes to it the verbal power of secum habere, it is construed with the accus. Vid., examples in Freytag's Arabum Proverbia, among the recent proverbs beginning with the Arabic letter k.)
Or without the Vav; in which case the second line is as the subscription under the figure or double figure painted in the first; e.g., Proverbs 25:11., Proverbs 11:22:
A gold ring in a swine's snout -
A fair woman without understanding.
These ground-forms of two lines, can, however, expand into forms of several lines. Since the distich is the peculiar and most appropriate form of the technical proverb, so, when two lines are not sufficient for expressing the thought intended, the multiplication to four, six, or eight lines is most natural. In the tetrastich the relation of the last two to the first two is as manifold as is the relation of the second line to the first in the distich. There is, however, no suitable example of four-lined stanzas in antithetic relation. But we meet with synonymous tetrastichs, e.g., Proverbs 23:15., Proverbs 24:3., 28f.; synthetic, Proverbs 30:5.; integral, Proverbs 30:17., especially of the form in which the last two lines constitute a proof passage beginning with כּי , Proverbs 22:22., or פּן , Proverbs 22:24., or without exponents, Proverbs 22:26.; comparative without expressing the comparison, Proverbs 25:16. (cf. on the other hand, Proverbs 26:18., where the number of lines is questionable), and also the emblematical, Proverbs 25:4.:
Take away the dross from the silver,
And there shall come forth a vessel for the goldsmith;
Take away the wicked from before the king,
And this throne shall be established in righteousness.
Proportionally the most frequently occurring are tetrastichs, the second half of which forms a proof clause commencing with כּי or פּן . Among the less frequent are the six-lined, presenting (Proverbs 23:1-3; Proverbs 24:11.) one and the same thought in manifold aspects, with proofs interspersed. Among all the rest which are found in the collection, Proverbs 23:12-14, Proverbs 23:19-21, Proverbs 23:26-28; Proverbs 30:15., Proverbs 30:29-31, the first two lines form a prologue introductory to the substance of the proverb; as e.g., Proverbs 23:12-14:
O let instruction enter into thine heart,
And apply thine ears to the words of knowledge.
Withhold not correction from the child;
For if thou beatest him with the rod - he dies not.
Thou shalt beat him with the rod,
And deliver his soul from hell.
Similarly formed, yet more expanded, is the eight-lined stanza, Proverbs 23:22-28:
Hearken unto thy father that begat thee,
And despise not thy mother when she is old.
Buy the truth and sell it not:
Wisdom, and virtue, and understanding.
The father of a righteous man greatly rejoices,
And he that begetteth a wise child hath joy of him.
Thy father and thy mother shall be glad,
And she that bare thee shall rejoice.
The Mashal proverb here inclines to the Mashal ode; for this octastich may be regarded as a short Mashal song, - like the alphabetical Mashal Psalm 37, which consists of almost pure tetrastichs.
We have now seen how the distich form multiplies itself into forms consisting of four, six, and eight lines; but it also unfolds itself, as if in one-sided multiplication, into forms of three, five, and seven lines. Tristichs arise when the thought of the first line is repeated (Proverbs 27:22) in the second according to the synonymous scheme, or when the thought of the second line is expressed by contrast in the third (Proverbs 22:29; Proverbs 28:10) according to the antithetic scheme, or when to the thought expressed in one or two lines (Proverbs 25:8; Proverbs 27:10) there is added its proof. The parabolic scheme is here represented when the object described is unfolded in two lines, as in the comparison Proverbs 25:13, or when its nature is portrayed by two figures in two lines, as in the emblematic proverb Proverbs 25:20:
To take off clothing in cold weather,
Vinegar upon nitre,
And he that singeth songs to a heavy heart.
In the few instances of pentastichs which are found, the last three lines usually unfold the reason of the thought of the first two: Proverbs 23:4., Proverbs 25:6., Proverbs 30:32.; to this Proverbs 24:13 forms an exception, where the כּן before the last three lines introduces the expansion of the figure in the first two. As an instance we quote Proverbs 25:6.:
Seek not to display thyself in the presence of the king,
And stand not in the place of the great.
For better that it be said unto thee, “Come up hither,”
Than that they humble thee in the presence of the prince,
While thine eyes have raised themselves.
Of heptastichs I know of only one example in the collection, viz., Proverbs 23:6-8:
Eat not the bread of the jealous,
And lust not after his dainties;
For he is like one who calculates with himself: -
“Eat and drink,” saith he to thee,
And his heart is not with thee.
Thy morsel which thou hast eaten must thou vomit up,
And thou hast wasted thy pleasant words.
From this heptastich, which one will scarcely take for a brief Mashal ode according to the compound strophe-scheme, we see that the proverb of two lines can expand itself to the dimensions of seven and eight lines. Beyond these limits the whole proverb ceases to be משׁל in the proper sense; and after the manner of Ps 25; 34, and especially chap. 37, it becomes a Mashal ode. Of this class of Mashal odes are, besides the prologue, Proverbs 22:17-21, that of the drunkard, Proverbs 23:29-35; that of the slothful man, Proverbs 24:30-34; the exhortation to industry, Proverbs 27:23-27; the prayer for a moderate portion between poverty and riches, Proverbs 30:7-9; the mirror for princes, Proverbs 31:2-9; and the praise of the excellent wife, Proverbs 31:10. It is singular that this ode furnishes the only example of the alphabetical acrostic in the whole collection. Even a single trace of original alphabetical sequence afterwards broken up cannot be found. There cannot also be discovered, in the Mashal songs referred to, anything like a completed strophe-scheme; even in Proverbs 31:10. the distichs are broken by tristichs intermingled with them.
In the whole of the first part, Prov 1:7-9:18, the prevailing form is that of the extended flow of the Mashal song; but one in vain seeks for strophes. There is not here so firm a grouping of the lines; on the supposition of its belonging to the Solomonic era, this is indeed to be expected. The rhetorical form here outweighs the purely poetical. This first part of the Proverbs consists of the following fifteen Mashal strains: (1) Proverbs 1:7-19, (2) Proverbs 1:20., (3) chap. 2, (4) 3:1-18, (5) Proverbs 3:19-26, (6) Proverbs 3:27., (7) 4:1-5:6, (8) Proverbs 4:7., (9) Proverbs 6:1-5, (10) Proverbs 6:6-11, (11) Proverbs 6:12-19, (12) Proverbs 6:20., (13) chap. 7, (14) chap. 8, (15) chap. 9. In chap. 3 and chap. 9 there are found a few Mashal odes of two lines and of four lines which may be regarded as independent Mashals, and may adapt themselves to the schemes employed; other brief complete parts are only waves in the flow of the larger discourses, or are altogether formless, or more than octastichs. The octastich Proverbs 6:16-19 makes the proportionally greatest impression of an independent inwoven Mashal. It is the only proverb in which symbolical numbers are used which occurs in the collection from 1 to 29:
There are six things which Jahve hateth,
And seven are an abhorrence to His soul:
Haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
And hands that shed innocent blood;
An heart that deviseth the thoughts of evil,
Feet that hastily run to wickedness,
One that uttereth lies as a false witness,
And he who soweth strife between brethren.
Such numerical proverbs to which the name מדּה has been given by later Jewish writers (see my Gesch. der Jüd. Poesie, pp. 199, 202) are found in chap. 30. With the exception of Proverbs 30:7-9, Proverbs 30:24-28 (cf. Sir. 25:1, 2), the numerical proverb has this peculiarity, found also in most of the numerical proverbs of Sirach (Sir. 23:16; 25:7; 26:5, 28), that the number named in the first parallel line is in the second (cf. Job 5:9) increased by one. On the other hand, the form of the Priamel
(Note: From praeambulum , designating a peculiar kind of epigram found in the German poetry of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.)
is used neither in the Book of Proverbs nor in that of Sirach. Proverbs such as Proverbs 20:10 (“Diverse weights, diverse measures - an abomination to Jahve are they both”) and Proverbs 20:12 (“The hearing ear, the seeing eye - Jahve hath created them both”), to be distinguished from Proverbs 17:3; Proverbs 27:21, and the like, where the necessary unity, and from Proverbs 27:3, where the necessary resemblance, of the predicate is wanting, are only a weak approach to the Priamel - a stronger, Proverbs 25:3, where the three subjects form the preamble (“The heaven for height, and the earth for depth, and the heart of kings - are unsearchable”). Perhaps Proverbs 30:11-14 is a greater mutilated Priamel. Here four subjects form the preamble, but there is wanting the conclusion containing the common predicate. This, we believe, exhausts the forms of the Mashal in the collection. It now only remains to make mention of the Mashal chain, i.e., the ranging together in a series of proverbs of a similar character, such as the chain of proverbs regarding the fool, Proverbs 26:1-12, the sluggard, Proverbs 26:13-16, the tale-bearer, Proverbs 26:20-22, the malicious, Proverbs 26:23-28 - but this form belongs more to the technics of the Mashal collection than to that of the Mashal poetry.
We now turn to the separate parts of the book, to examine more closely the forms of their proverbs, and gather materials for a critical judgment regarding the origin of the proverbs which they contain. Not to anticipate, we take up in order the separate parts of the arrangement of the collection. Since, then, it cannot be denied that in the introductory paedagogic part, Proverbs 1:7-9, notwithstanding its rich and deep contents, there is exceedingly little of the technical form of the Mashal, as well as generally of technical form at all. This part, as already shown, consist not of proper Mashals, but of fifteen Mashal odes, or rather, perhaps, Mashal discourses, didactic poems of the Mashal kind. In the flow of these discourses separate Mashals intermingle, which may either be regarded as independent, or, as Proverbs 1:32; Proverbs 4:18., can easily be so understood. In the Mashal chains of chap. 4 and chap. 9 we meet with proverbs that are synonymous (Proverbs 9:7, Proverbs 9:10), antithetic (Proverbs 3:35; Proverbs 9:8), integral, or of one thought (Proverbs 3:29-30), and synthetic (Proverbs 1:7; Proverbs 3:5, Proverbs 3:7), of two lines and of four lines variously disposed (Proverbs 3:9., 11f., 31f., 33f.); but the parabolic scheme is not at all met with, separate proverbs such as Proverbs 3:27. are altogether without form, and keeping out of view the octastich numerical proverb, Proverbs 6:16-19, the thoughts which form the unity of separate groups are so widely expanded that the measure of the Mashal proper is far exceeded. The character of this whole part is not concentrating, but unfolding. Even the intermingling proverbs of two lines possess the same character. They are for the most part more like dissolved drops than gold coins with sharp outline and firm impress; as e.g., Proverbs 9:7:
He that correcteth the mocker getteth to himself shame;
And he that rebuketh the sinner his dishonour.
The few that consist of four lines are closer, more compact, more finished, because they allow greater space for the expression; e.g., Proverbs 3:9.:
Honour Jahve with thy wealth,
And with the first-fruits of all thine income:
And thy barns shall be filled with plenty,
And thy vats shall overflow with must.
But beyond the four lines the author knows no limits of artistic harmony; the discourse flows on till it has wholly or provisionally exhausted the subject; it pauses not till it reaches the end of its course, and then, taking breath, it starts anew. We cannot, moreover, deny that there is beauty in this new springing forth of the stream of the discourse with its fresh transparent waves; but it is a peculiar beauty of the rhetorically decomposed, dissolved Mashal, going forth, as it were, from its confinement, and breathing its fragrance far and wide.
The fifteen discourses, in which the Teacher appears twelve times and Wisdom three times, are neither of a symmetrically chiselled form nor of internally fashioned coherence, but yet are a garland of songs having internal unity, with a well-arranged manifoldness of contents. It is true that Bertheau recognises here neither unity of the contents nor unity of the formal character; but there is no Old Testament portion of like extent, and at the same time of more systematic internal unity, and which bears throughout a like formal impress, than this. Bertheau thinks that he has discovered in certain passages a greater art in the form; and certainly there are several sections which consist of just ten verses. But this is a mere accident; for the first Mashal ode consists of groups of 1, 2, and 10 verses, the second of 8 and 6 verses, the third of 10 and 12, the fourth of 10 and 8, the fifth of 2 and 6, etc. - each group forming a complete sense. The 10 verses are met with six times, and if Proverbs 4:1-9 from the Peshito, and Proverbs 4:20-27 from the lxx, are included, eight times, without our regarding these decades as strophes, and without our being able to draw any conclusion regarding a particular author of these decade portions. In Proverbs 1:20-33, Bertheau finds indeed, along with the regular structure of verses, an exact artistic formation of strophes (3 times 4 verses with an echo of 2). But he counts instead of the stichs the Masoretic verses, and these are not the true formal parts of the strophe.
We now come to the second part of the collection, whose superscription משׁלי שׁלמה can in no respect be strange to us, since the collection of proverbs here commencing, compared with Proverbs 1:7-9, may with special right bear the name Mishle. The 375 proverbs which are classed together in this part, chap. 10-22:16, without any comprehensive plan, but only according to their more or fewer conspicuous common characteristics (Bertheau, p. xii), consist all and every one of distichs; for each Masoretic verse falls naturally into two stichs, and nowhere (not even Proverbs 19:19) does such a distich proverb stand in necessary connection with one that precedes or that follows; each is in itself a small perfected and finished whole. The tristich Proverbs 19:7 is only an apparent exception. In reality it is a distich with the disfigured remains of a distich that has been lost. The lxx has here two distichs which are wanting in our text. The second is that which is found in our text, but only in a mutilated form:
ὁ πολλὰ κακοποιῶν τελεσιουργεὶ κακίαν ,
[He that does much harm perfects mischief,]
ὅς δέ ἐρεθίζει λόγους οὐ σωθήσεται .
[And he that uses provoking words shall not escape.]
Perhaps the false rendering of
מרע רבים ישׁלם־רע
מרדף אמרים לא ימלט׃
The friend of every one is rewarded with evil,
He who pursues after rumours does not escape.
But not only are all these proverbs distichs, they have also, not indeed without exception, but in by far the greatest number, a common character in that they are antithetic. Distichs of predominating antithetic character stand here together. Along with these all other schemes are, it is true, represented: the synonymous, Proverbs 11:7, Proverbs 11:25, Proverbs 11:30; Proverbs 12:14, Proverbs 12:28; Proverbs 14:19, etc.; the integral, or of one thought, Proverbs 14:7; Proverbs 15:3, etc., particularly in proverbs with the comparative מן , Proverbs 12:9; Proverbs 15:16-17; Proverbs 16:8, Proverbs 16:19; Proverbs 17:10; Proverbs 21:19; Proverbs 22:1, and with the ascending עף כּי־ much more, Proverbs 11:31; Proverbs 15:11; Proverbs 17:7; Proverbs 19:7, Proverbs 19:10; Proverbs 21:27; the synthetic, Proverbs 10:18; Proverbs 11:29; Proverbs 14:17; Proverbs 19:13; the parabolic, the most feebly represented, for the only specimens of it are Proverbs 10:26; Proverbs 11:22; besides which I know not what other Bertheau could quote. We shall further see that in another portion of the book the parabolic proverbs are just as closely placed together as are the antithetic. Here almost universally the two members of the proverbs stand together in technical parallelism as thesis and antithesis; also in the synonymous proverbs the two members are the parallel rays of one thought; in the synthetic two monostichs occur in loose external connection to suffice for the parallelism as a fundamental law of the technical proverb. But also in these proverbs in which a proper parallelism is not found, both members being needed to form a complete sentence, verse and members are so built up, according to Bertheau's self-confirmatory opinion, that in regard to extent and the number of words they are like verses with parallel members.
To this long course of distichs which profess to be the Mishle of Solomon, there follows a course, Prov 22:17-24:22, of “words of the wise,” prefaced by the introduction Proverbs 22:17-21, which undeniably is of the same nature as the greater introduction, Proverbs 1:7-9, and of which we are reminded by the form of address preserved throughout in these “words of the wise.” These “words of the wise” comprehend all the forms of the Mashal, from those of two lines in Proverbs 22:28; Proverbs 23:9; Proverbs 24:7-10, to the Mashal song Proverbs 23:29-35. Between these limits are the tetrastichs, which are the most popular form, Proverbs 22:22., Proverbs 22:24., Proverbs 22:26., Proverbs 23:10., Proverbs 23:15., Proverbs 23:17., Proverbs 24:1., Proverbs 24:3., Proverbs 24:5., Proverbs 24:15., Proverbs 24:17., Proverbs 24:19., Proverbs 24:21. - pentastichs, Proverbs 23:4., Proverbs 24:13., and hexastichs, Proverbs 23:1-3, Proverbs 23:12-14, Proverbs 23:19-21, Proverbs 23:26-28; Proverbs 24:11.; - of tristichs, heptastichs, and octastichs are at least found one specimen of each, Proverbs 22:29; Proverbs 23:6-8, Proverbs 23:22-25. Bertheau maintains that there is a difference between the structure of these proverbs and that of the preceding, for he counts the number of the words which constitute a verse in the case of the latter and of the former; but such a proceeding is unwarrantable, for the remarkably long Masoretic verse Proverbs 24:12 contains eighteen words; and the poet is not to be made accountable for such an arrangement, for in his mind Proverbs 24:11. forms a hexastich, and indeed a very elegant one. Not the words of the Masoretic verse, but the stichs are to be counted. Reckoning according to the stichs, I can discover no difference between these proverbs and the preceding. In the preceding ones also the number of the words in the stichs extends from two to five, the number two being here, however, proportionally more frequently found ( e.g., Proverbs 24:4, Proverbs 24:8, Proverbs 24:10); a circumstance which has its reason in this, that the symmetry of the members is often very much disturbed, there being frequently no trace whatever of parallelism. To the first appendix to the “Proverbs of Solomon” there follows a second, Proverbs 24:23., with the superscription, “These things also to the wise,” which contains a hexastich, Proverbs 24:23-25, a distich, Proverbs 24:26, a tristich, Proverbs 24:27, a tetrastich, Proverbs 24:28., and a Mashal ode, Proverbs 24:30., on the sluggard - the last in the form of an experience, of the poet like Psalms 37:35. The moral which he has drawn from this recorded observation is expressed in two verses such as we have already found at Proverbs 6:10. These two appendices are, as is evident from their commencement as well as from their conclusion, in closest relation to the introduction, Proverbs 1:7-9.
There now follows in chap. 25-29 the second great collection of “Proverbs of Solomon,” “copied out,” as the superscription mentions, by the direction of King Hezekiah. It falls, apparently, into two parts; for as Proverbs 24:30., a Mashal hymn stands at the end of the two appendices, so that the Mashal hymn Proverbs 27:23. must be regarded as forming the division between the two halves of this collection. It is very sharply distinguished from the collection beginning with chap. 10. The extent of the stichs and the greater or less observance of the parallelism furnish no distinguishing mark, but there are others worthy of notice. In the first collection the proverbs are exclusively in the form of distichs; here we have also some tristichs, Proverbs 25:8, Proverbs 25:13, Proverbs 25:20; Proverbs 27:10, Proverbs 27:22; Proverbs 28:10, tetrastichs, Proverbs 25:4., Proverbs 25:9., Proverbs 25:21., Proverbs 26:18., Proverbs 26:24., Proverbs 27:15., and pentastichs, Proverbs 25:6., besides the Mashal hymn already referred to. The kind of arrangement is not essentially different from that in the first collection; it is equally devoid of plan, yet there are here some chains or strings of related proverbs, Proverbs 26:1-13 -16, 20-22. A second essential distinction between the two collections is this, that while in the first the antithetic proverb forms the prevailing element, here is it the parabolic, and especially the emblematic; in chap. 25-27 are sentences almost wholly of this character. We say almost, for to place together proverbs of this kind exclusively is not the plan of the collector. There are also proverbs of the other schemes, fewer synonymous, etc., than antithetic, and the collection begins in very varied quodlibet: Proverbs 25:2, an antithetic proverb; Proverbs 25:3, a priamel with three subjects; Proverbs 25:4., an emblematic tetrastich; Proverbs 25:6., a pentastich; Proverbs 25:8, a tristich; Proverbs 25:9., a tetrastich, with the negative פן ; Proverbs 25:11, an emblematic distich (“Golden apples in silver caskets - a word spoken in a fitting way”). The antithetic proverbs are found especially in chap. 28 and 29: the first and the last proverb of the whole collection, Proverbs 25:2; Proverbs 29:27, are antithetic; but between these two the comparative and the figurative proverbs are so prevalent, that this collection appears like a variegated picture-book with explanatory notes written underneath. In extent it is much smaller than the foregoing. I reckon 126 proverbs in 137 Masoretic verses.
The second collection of Solomon's proverbs has also several appendices, the first of which, chap. 30, according to the inscription, is by an otherwise unknown author, Agur the son of Jakeh. The first poem of this appendix present in a thoughtful way the unsearchableness of God. This is followed by certain peculiar pieces, such as a tetrastich regarding the purity of God's word, Proverbs 30:5.; a prayer for a moderate position between riches and poverty, Proverbs 30:7-9; a distich against slander, Proverbs 30:10; a priamel without the conclusion, Proverbs 30:11-14; the insatiable four (a Midda), Proverbs 30:15.; a tetrastich regarding the disobedient son, Proverbs 30:17, the incomprehensible four, Proverbs 30:18-20; the intolerable four, Proverbs 30:21-23; the diminutive but prudent four, Proverbs 30:24-28; the excellent four, Proverbs 30:29-31; a pentastich recommending prudent silence, Proverbs 30:32. Two other supplements form the conclusion of the whole book: the counsel of Lemuel's mother to her royal son, Proverbs 31:2-9, and the praise of the virtuous woman in the form of an alphabetical acrostic, Proverbs 31:10.
After we have acquainted ourselves with the manifold forms of the technical proverbs and their distribution in the several parts of the collection, the question arises, What conclusions regarding the origin of these several parts may be drawn from these forms found in them? We connect with this the conception of Ewald, who sees represented in the several parts of the collection the chief points of the history of proverbial poetry. The “Proverbs of Solomon,” Prov 10:1-22:16, appear to him to be the oldest collection, which represents the simplest and the most ancient kind of proverbial poetry. Their distinguishing characteristics are the symmetrical two-membered verse, complete in itself, containing in itself a fully intelligible meaning, and the quick contrast of thesis and antithesis. The oldest form of the technical proverb, according to Ewald, is, according to our terminology, the antithetic distich, such as predominates in 10:1-22:16. Along with these antithetic distichs we find here also others of a different kind. Ewald so considers the contrast of the two members to be the original fundamental law of the technical proverb, that to him these other kinds of distichs represent the diminution of the inner force of the two-membered verse, the already begun decay of the art in its oldest limits and laws, and the transition to a new method. In the “Proverbs of Solomon,” chap. 25-29, of the later collection, that rigorous formation of the verse appears already in full relaxation and dissolution: the contrast of the sense of the members appears here only exceptionally; the art turns from the crowded fulness and strength of the representation more to the adorning of the thought by means of strong and striking figures and forms of expression, to elegant painting of certain moral conditions and forms of life; and the more the technical proverb is deprived of the breath of a vigorous poetic spirit, so much the nearer does it approach to the vulgar proverb; the full and complete symmetry of the two members disappears, less by the abridgment of one of them, than by the too great extension and amplification of the two-membered proverb into longer admonitions to a moral life, and descriptions relating thereto. So the proverbial poetry passes essentially into a different form and manner. “While it loses in regard to internal vigorous brevity and strength, it seeks to gain again by means of connected instructive exposition, by copious description and detailed representation; breaking up its boldly delineated, strong, and yet simply beautiful form, it rises to oratorical display, to attractive eloquence, in which, indeed, though the properly poetical and the artistic gradually disappears, yet the warmth and easy comprehension are increased.” In chap. 1-9, the introduction of the older collection, and Proverbs 22:17-24, of the first half of the supplement to the older collection (chap. 25-29 is the second half), supplied by a later writer, the great change is completed, the growth of which the later collection of the “Proverbs of Solomon,” particularly in chap. 25-29, reveals. The symmetry of the two members of the verse is here completely destroyed; the separate proverb appears almost only as an exception; the proverbial poetry has passed into admonition and discourse, and has become in many respects lighter, and more flexible, and flowing, and comprehensible. “It is true that on the side of this later form of proverbial poetry there is not mere loss. While it always loses the excellent pointed brevity, the inner fulness and strength of the old proverbs, it gains in warmth, impressiveness, intelligibility; the wisdom which at first strives only to make its existence and its contents in endless manifoldness known, reaches this point at last, that having become clear and certain, it now also turns itself earnestly and urgently to men.” In the later additions, chap. 30-31, appended altogether externally, the proverbial poetry has already disappeared, and given place to elegant descriptions of separate moral truths. While the creative passes into the background, the whole aim is now toward surprising expansion and new artistic representation.
This view of the progressive development of the course of proverbial poetry is one of the chief grounds for the determination of Ewald's judgment regarding the parts that are Solomonic and those that are not Solomonic in the collection. In Prov 10:1-22:16 he does not regard the whole as Solomon's, as immediately and in their present form composed by Solomon; but the breath of the Solomonic spirit enlivens and pervades all that has been added by other and later poets. But most of the proverbs of the later collection (chap. 25-29) are not much older than the time of Hezekiah; yet there are in it some that are Solomonic, and of the period next to Solomon. The collection stretches backward with its arms, in part indeed, as the superscription, the “Proverbs of Solomon,” shows, to the time of Solomon. On the other hand, in the introduction, chap. 1-9, and in the first half of the appendix (Proverbs 22:17-24), there is not found a single proverb of the time of Solomon; both portions belong to two poets of the seventh century b.c., a new era, in which the didactic poets added to the older Solomonic collection longer pieces of their own composition. The four small pieces, Proverbs 30:1-14, 15-33; Proverbs 31:1-10., are of a still later date; they cannot belong to an earlier period than the end of the seventh or the beginning of the sixth century b.c.
We recognise the penetration, the sensibility, the depth of thought indicated by this opinion of Ewald's regarding the origin of the book; yet for the most part it is not supported by satisfactory proof. If we grant that he has on the whole rightly construed the history of proverbial poetry, nevertheless the conclusion that proverbs which bear in themselves the marks of the oldest proverbial poetry belong to the Solomonic era, and that the others belong to a period more nearly or more remotely subsequent to it, is very fallacious. In this case much that is found in Sirach's Book of Proverbs must be Solomonic; and the משׁלי אסף of Isaac Satanow,
(Note: Isaac Ha-Levi was born at Satanow (whence his name), in Russian Poland, 1732, died at Berlin 1802. Besides other works, he was the author of several collections of gnomes and apothegms in imitation of the Proverbs. Vid., Delitzsch Zur Gesch. der Jüd. Poesie, p. 115.)
the contemporary of Moses Mendelssohn, as well as many other proverbs in the collection מלין דרבנן , and in the poetical works of other Jewish poets belonging to the middle ages or to later times, might be dated back perhaps a thousand years. Along with the general course of development the individuality of the poet is also to be taken into account; an ancient poet can, along with the formally completed, produce the imperfect, which appears to belong to a period of art that has degenerated, and a modern poet can emulate antiquity with the greatest accuracy. But Ewald's construction of the progress of the development of proverbial poetry is also in part arbitrary. That the two-membered verse is the oldest form of the technical proverb we shall not dispute, but that it is the two-membered antithetic verse is a supposition that cannot be proved; and that Solomon wrote only antithetic distichs is an absurd assertion, to which Keil justly replies, that the adhering to only one form and structure is a sign of poverty, of mental narrowness and one-sidedness. There are also other kinds of parallelism, which are not less beautiful and vigorous than the antithetic, and also other forms of proverbs besides the distich in which the thought, which can in no way be restrained within two lines, must necessarily divide itself into the branches of a greater number of lines. Thus I must agree with Keil in the opinion, that Ewald's assertion that in the Hezekiah-collection the strong form of the technical proverb is in full dissolution, contains an exaggeration. If the first collection, Prov 10:1-22:16, contains only two (Proverbs 10:26; Proverbs 11:22) figurative proverbs, while it would be altogether foolish to deny that these two, because they were figurative proverbs, were Solomonic, or to affirm that he was the author of only these two, so it is self-evident that the Hezekiah-collection, which is principally a collection of figurative proverbs, must contain many proverbs in which a different kind of parallelism prevails, which has the appearance of a looser connection. Is it not probable that Solomon, who had an open penetrating eye for the greatest and the smallest objects of nature, composed many such proverbs? And is e.g., the proverb Proverbs 26:23,
Dross of silver spread over a potsherd -
Burning lips and a wicked heart,
less beautiful, and vigorous, and worthy of Solomon than any antithetic distich? If Ewald imagines that the 3000 proverbs which Solomon wrote were all constructed according to this one model, we are much rather convinced that Solomon's proverbial poetry, which found the distich and the tetrastich as forms of proverbs already in use, would not only unfold within the limits of the distich the most varied manifoldness of thought and form, but would also within the limits of the Mashal generally, run through the whole scale from the distich up to octastichs and more extensive forms. But while we cannot accept Ewald's criteria which he applies to the two collections, Prov 10:1-22:16 and chap 25-29, yet his delineation of the form and kind of proverbial poetry occurring in chap. 1-9, Proverbs 22:17., is excellent, as is also his conclusion, that these portions belong to a new and more recent period of proverbial poetry. Since in Proverbs 22:17-21 manifestly a new course of “Words of the Wise” by a poet later than Solomon is introduced, it is possible, yea, not improbable, that he, or, as Ewald thinks, another somewhat older poet, introduces in 1:7-9:18 the “Proverbs of Solomon” following from Proverbs 10:1 onward.
But if Solomon composed not only distichs, but also tristichs, etc., it is strange that in the first collection, chap. 10-22:16, there are exclusively distichs; and if he constructed not only contrasted proverbs, but equally figurative proverbs, it is as strange that in the first collection the figurative proverbs are almost entirely wanting, while in the second collection, chap. 25-29, on the contrary, they prevail. This remarkable phenomenon may be partly explained if we could suppose that not merely the second collection but both of them, were arranged by the “men of Hezekiah,” and that the whole collection of the Solomonic proverbs was divided by them into two collections according to their form. But leaving out of view other objections, one would in that case have expected in the first collection the proportionally great number of the antithetic distichs which stand in the second. If we regard both collections as originally one whole, then there can be no rational ground for its being divided in this particular way either by the original collector or by a later enlarger of the collection. We have therefore to regard the two portions as the work of two different authors. The second is by the “men of Hezekiah;” the first cannot be by Solomon himself, since the number of proverbs composed, and probably also written out by Solomon, amounted to 3000; besides, if Solomon was the author of the collection, there would be visible on it the stamp of his wisdom in its plan and order: it is thus the work of another author, who is certainly different from the author of the introductory Mashal poems, Prov 1:7-9:18. For if the author of the title of the book were not at the same time the author of the introduction, he must have taken it from some other place; thus it is inconceivable how he could give the title “Proverbs of Solomon,” etc., Proverbs 1:1-6, to poems which were not composed by Solomon. If 1:7-9:18 is not by Solomon, then these Mashal poems are explicable only as the work of the author of the title of the book, and as an introduction to the “Proverbs of Solomon,” beginning Proverbs 10:1. It must be one and the same author who edited the “Proverbs of Solomon” 10:1-22:16, prefixed 1:7-9:18 as an introduction to them, and appended to them the “Words of the Wise,” 22:17-24:22; the second collector then appended to this book a supplement of the “Words of the Wise,” Proverbs 24:23., and then the Hezekiah-collection of Solomonic proverbs, chap. 25-29; perhaps also, in order that the book might be brought to a close in the same form in which it was commenced, he added
(Note: Zöckler takes Proverbs 24:23. as a second appendix to the first principal collection. This is justifiable, but the second superscription rather suggests two collectors.)
the non-Solomonic proverbial poem chap. 30 f. We do not, however, maintain that the book has this origin, but only this, that on the supposition of the non-Solomonic origin of 1:7-9:18 it cannot well have any other origin. But the question arises again, and more emphatically, How was it possible that the first collector left as gleanings to the second so great a number of distichs, almost all parabolical, and besides, all more than two-lined proverbs of Solomon? One can scarcely find the reason of this singular phenomenon in anything else than in the judgment of the author of the first collection as the determining motive of his selection. For when we think also on the sources and origin of the two collections, the second always presupposes the first, and that which is singular in the author's thus restricting himself can only have its ground in the freedom which he allowed to his subjectivity.
Before we more closely examine the style and the teaching of the book, and the conclusions thence arising, another phenomenon claims our attention, which perhaps throws light on the way in which the several collections originated; but, at all events, it may not now any longer remain out of view, when we are in the act of forming a judgment on this point.
3. The Repetitions in the Book of Proverbs
We find not only in the different parts of the collection, but also within the limits of one and the same part, proverbs which wholly or in part are repeated in the same or in similar words. Before we can come to a judgment, we must take cognizance as closely as possible of this fact. We begin with “The Proverbs of Solomon,” chap. 10-22:16; for this collection is in relation to chap. 25-29 certainly the earlier, and it is especially with respect to the Solomonic proverbs that this fact demands an explanation. In this earlier collection we find, (1) whole proverbs repeated in exactly the same words: Proverbs 14:12 = Proverbs 16:25; - (2) proverbs slightly changed in their form of expression: Proverbs 10:1 = Proverbs 15:20; Proverbs 14:20 = Proverbs 19:4; Proverbs 16:2 = Proverbs 21:2; Proverbs 19:5 = Proverbs 19:9; Proverbs 20:10 = Proverbs 20:23; Proverbs 21:9 = Proverbs 21:19 - (3) proverbs almost identical in form, but somewhat different in sense: Proverbs 10:2 = Proverbs 11:4; Proverbs 13:14 = Proverbs 14:27 - (4) proverbs the first lines of which are the same: Proverbs 10:15 = Proverbs 18:11 - (5) proverbs with their second lines the same: Proverbs 10:6 = Proverbs 10:11; Proverbs 10:8 = Proverbs 10:10; Proverbs 15:33 = Proverbs 18:12 - (6) proverbs with one line almost the same: Proverbs 11:13 = Proverbs 20:19; Proverbs 11:21 = Proverbs 16:5; Proverbs 12:14 = Proverbs 13:2; Proverbs 14:31 = Proverbs 17:5; Proverbs 16:18 = Proverbs 18:12; Proverbs 19:12 = Proverbs 20:2; comp. also Proverbs 16:28 with Proverbs 17:9; Proverbs 19:25 with Proverbs 21:11. In comparing these proverbs, one will perceive that for the most part the external or internal resemblance of the surrounding has prompted the collector to place the one proverb in this place and the other in that place (not always indeed; for what reason e.g., could determine the position of Proverbs 16:25 and Proverbs 19:5, Proverbs 19:9, I cannot say); then that the proverb standing earlier is generally, to all appearance, also the earlier formed, for the second of the pair is mostly a synonymous distich, which generally further extends antithetically one line of the first: cf. Proverbs 18:11 with Proverbs 10:15; Proverbs 20:10, Proverbs 20:23 with Proverbs 11:1; Proverbs 20:19 with Proverbs 11:13; Proverbs 16:5 with Proverbs 11:21; Proverbs 20:2 with Proverbs 19:12, also Proverbs 17:5 with Proverbs 14:31, where from an antithetic proverb a synthetic one is formed; but here also there are exceptions, as Proverbs 13:2 compared with Proverbs 12:14, and Proverbs 15:33 with Proverbs 18:12, where the same line is in the first case connected with a synonymous, and in the second with an antithetic proverb; but here also the contrast is so loose, that the earlier-occurring proverb has the appearance of priority.
We now direct our attention to the second collection, chap. 25-29. When we compare the proverbs found here with one another, we see among them a disproportionately smaller number of repetitions than in the other collection; only a single entire proverb is repeated in almost similar terms, but in an altered sense, Proverbs 29:20 = Proverbs 26:12; but proverbs such as Proverbs 28:12, Proverbs 28:28; Proverbs 29:2, notwithstanding the partial resemblance, are equally original. On the other hand, in this second collection we find numerous repetitions of proverbs and portions of proverbs from the first: - (1) Whole proverbs perfectly identical (leaving out of view insignificant variations): Proverbs 25:24 = Proverbs 21:9; Proverbs 26:22 = Proverbs 18:8; Proverbs 27:12 = Proverbs 22:3; Proverbs 27:13 = Proverbs 20:16 - (2) proverbs identical in meaning with somewhat changed expression: Proverbs 26:13 = Proverbs 22:13; Proverbs 26:15 = Proverbs 19:24; Proverbs 28:6 = Proverbs 19:1; Proverbs 28:19 = Proverbs 12:11; Proverbs 29:13 = Proverbs 22:2 - (3) proverbs with one line the same and one line different: Proverbs 27:21 = Proverbs 17:3; Proverbs 29:22 = Proverbs 15:18; cf. also Proverbs 27:15 with Proverbs 19:13. when we compare these proverbs with one another, we are uncertain as to many of them which has the priority, as e.g., Proverbs 27:21 = Proverbs 17:3; Proverbs 29:22 = Proverbs 15:18; but in the case of others there is no doubt that the Hezekiah-collection contains the original form of the proverb which is found in the other collection, as Proverbs 26:13; Proverbs 28:6, Proverbs 28:19; Proverbs 29:13; Proverbs 27:15, in relation to their parallels. In the other portions of this book also we find such repetitions as are met with in these two collections of Solomonic proverbs. In Prov 1:7-9:18 we have Proverbs 2:16, a little changed, repeated in Proverbs 7:5, and Proverbs 3:15 in Proverbs 8:11; Proverbs 9:10 = Proverbs 1:7 is a case not worthy of being mentioned, and it were inappropriate here to refer to Proverbs 9:4, Proverbs 9:16. In the first appendix of “the Words of the Wise,” 22:17 - 24:22, single lines often repeat themselves in another connection; cf. Proverbs 23:3 and Proverbs 23:6, Proverbs 23:10 and Proverbs 22:28; Proverbs 23:17. and Proverbs 24:13., Proverbs 22:23 and Proverbs 23:11, Proverbs 23:17 and Proverbs 24:1. That in such cases the one proverb is often the pattern of the other, is placed beyond a doubt by the relation of Proverbs 24:19 to Psalms 37:1; cf. also Proverbs 24:20 with Psalms 37:38. If here there are proverbs like those of Solomon in their expression, the presumption is that the priority belongs to the latter, as Proverbs 23:27 cf. Proverbs 22:14; Proverbs 24:5. cf. Proverbs 11:14; Proverbs 24:19. cf. Proverbs 13:9, in which latter case the justice of the presumption is palpable. Within the second appendix of “the Words of the Wise,” Proverbs 24:23., no repetitions are to be expected on account of its shortness; yet is Proverbs 24:23 repeated from the Solomonic Mashal Proverbs 28:21, and as Proverbs 24:33. are literally the same as Proverbs 6:10., the priority is presumably on the side of the author of 1:7-9:18, at least of the Mashal in the form in which he communicates it. The supplements chap. 30 and 31 afford nothing that is worth mention as bearing on our present inquiry,
(Note: Quite the same phenomenon, Fleischer remarks, presents itself in the different collections of proverbs ascribed to the Caliph Ali, where frequently one and the same thought in one collection is repeated in manifold forms in a second, here in a shorter, there in a longer form. As a general principle this is to be borne in mind, that the East transmits unchanged, with scrupulous exactness, only religious writings regarded as holy and divine, and therefore these Proverbs have been transmitted unchanged only since they became a distinct part of the canon; before that time it happened to them, as to all in the East that is exposed to the arbitrariness of the changing spirit and the intercourse of life, that one and the same original text has been modified by one speaker and writer after another. Thus of the famous poetical works of the East, such e.g., as Firdusi's Schah-Nahem ( Book of the Kings) and Sadi's Garden of Roses, not one MS copy agrees with another.)
and we may therefore now turn to the question, What insight into the origin of these proverbs and their collection do the observations made afford? From the numerous repetitions of proverbs and portions of proverbs of the first collection of the “Proverbs of Solomon” in the Hezekiah-collection, as well as from another reason stated at the end of the foregoing section of our inquiry, we conclude that the two collections were by different authors; in other words, that they had not both “the men of Hezekiah” for their authors. It is true that the repetitions in themselves do not prove anything against the oneness of their authorship for there are within the several collections, and even within chap. 1-9 (cf. Proverbs 6:20 with Proverbs 1:8; Proverbs 8:10. with Proverbs 3:14.), repetitions, notwithstanding the oneness of their authorship. But if two collections of proverbs are in so many various ways different in their character, as 10:1-22:16 and chap. 25-29, then the previous probability rises almost to a certainty by such repetitions. From the form, for the most part anomalous, in which the Hezekiah-collection presents the proverbs and portions of proverbs which are found also in the first collection, and from their being otherwise independent, we further conclude that “the men of Hezekiah” did not borrow from the first collection, but formed it from other sources. But since one does not understand why “the men of Hezekiah” should have omitted so great a number of genuine Solomonic proverbs which remain, after deducting the proportionally few that have been repeated (for this omission is not to be explained by saying that they selected those that were appropriate and wholesome for their time), we are further justified in the conclusion that the other collection was known to them as one current in their time. Their object was, indeed, not to supplement this older collection; they rather regarded their undertaking as a similar people's book, which they wished to place side by side with that collection without making it superfluous. The difference of the selection in the two collections has its whole directing occasion in the difference of the intention. The first collection begins (Proverbs 10:1) with the proverb -
A wise son maketh glad his father,
And a foolish son is the grief of his mother;
the second (Proverbs 25:2) with the proverb -
It is the glory of God to conceal a thing,
And the glory of kings to search out a matter.
The one collection is a book for youth, to whom it is dedicated in the extended introduction, Prov 1:7-9:18; the second is a people's book suited to the time of Hezekiah (“Solomon's Wisdom in Hezekiah's days,” as Stier has named it), and therefore it takes its start not, like the first, from the duties of the child, but from those of the king. If in the two collections everything does not stand in conscious relation to these different objects, yet the collectors at least have, from the commencement to the close (cf. Proverbs 22:15 with Proverbs 29:26), these objects before their eyes.
As to the time at which the first collection was made, the above considerations also afford us some materials for forming a judgment. Several pairs of proverbs which it contains present to us essentially the same sayings in older and more recent forms. Keil regards the proverbs also that appear less original as old-Solomonic, and remarks that one and the same poet does not always give expression to the same thoughts with the same pregnant brevity and excellence, and affirms that changes and reproductions of separate proverbs may proceed even from Solomon himself. This is possible; but if we consider that even Davidic psalms have been imitated, and that in the “Words of the Wise” Solomonic proverbs are imitated - moreover, that proverbs especially are subject to changes, and invite to imitation and transformation - we shall find it to be improbable. Rather we would suppose, that between the publication of the 3000 proverbs of Solomon and the preparation of the collection chap. 10-22:16 a considerable time elapsed, during which the old-Solomonic Mashal had in the mouths of the people and of poets acquired a multitude of accretions, and that the collector had without hesitation gathered together such indirect Solomonic proverbs with those that were directly Solomonic. But did not then the 3000 Solomonic proverbs afford to him scope enough? We must answer this question in the negative; for if that vast number of Solomonic proverbs was equal in moral-religious worth to those that have been preserved to us, then neither the many repetitions within the first collection nor the proportional poverty of the second can be explained. The “men of Hezekiah” made their collection of Solomonic proverbs nearly 300 years after Solomon's time; but there is no reason to suppose that the old book of the Proverbs of Solomon had disappeared at that time. Much rather we may with probability conclude, from the subjects to which several proverbs of these collections extend (husbandry, war, court life, etc.), and from Solomon's love for the manifold forms of natural and of social life, that his 3000 proverbs would not have afforded much greater treasures than these before us. But if the first collection was made at a time in which the old-Solomonic proverbs had been already considerably multiplied by new combinations, accretions, and imitations, then probably a more suitable time for their origination could not be than that of Jehoshaphat, which was more related to the time of Solomon than to that of David. The personality of Jehoshaphat, inclined toward the promotion of the public worship of God, the edification of the people, the administration of justice; the dominion of the house of David recognised and venerated far and wide among neighbouring peoples; the tendencies of that time towards intercourse with distant regions; the deep peace which followed the subjugation of the confederated nations - all these are features which stamped the time of Jehoshaphat as a copy of that of Solomon. Hence we are to expect in it the fostering care of the Chokma. If the author of the introduction and editor of the older book of Proverbs lived after Solomon and before Hezekiah, then the circumstances of the case most suitably determine his time as at the beginning of the reign of Jehoshaphat, some seventy years after Solomon's death. If in chap. 1-9 it is frequently said that wisdom was seen openly in the streets and ways, this agrees with 2 Chronicles 17:7-9, where it is said that princes, priests, and Levites, sent out by Jehoshaphat (compare the Carolingian missi), went forth into the towns of Judah with the book of the law in their hands as teachers of the people, and with 2 Chronicles 19:4, where it is stated that Jehoshaphat himself “went out through the people from Beer-sheba to Mount Ephraim, and brought them back unto the Lord God of their fathers.” We have an evidence of the fondness for allegorical forms of address at that time in 2 Kings 14:8-11 (2 Chronicles 25:17-21), which is so far favourable to the idea that the allegorizing author of chap. 1-9 belonged to that epoch of history.
This also agrees with the time of Jehoshaphat, that in the first collection the kingdom appears in its bright side, adorned with righteousness (Proverbs 14:35; Proverbs 16:10, Proverbs 16:12-13; Proverbs 20:8), wisdom (Proverbs 20:26), grace and truth (Proverbs 20:28), love to the good (Proverbs 22:11), divine guidance (Proverbs 21:1), and in the height of power (Proverbs 16:14-15; Proverbs 19:12); while in the second collection, which immediately begins with a series of the king's sayings, the kingdom is seen almost only (with exception of Proverbs 29:14) on its dark side, and is represented under the destructive dominion of tyranny (Proverbs 28:15-16; Proverbs 29:2), of oppressive taxation (Proverbs 29:4), of the Camarilla (Proverbs 25:5; Proverbs 29:12), and of multiplied authorities (Proverbs 28:2). Elster is right when he remarks, that in chap. 10-22:16 the kingdom in its actual state corresponds to its ideal, and the warning against the abuse of royal power lies remote. If these proverbs more distinguishably than those in chap. 25-29 bear the physiognomy of the time of David and Solomon, so, on the other hand, the time of Jehoshaphat, the son and successor of Asa, is favourable to their collection; while in the time of Hezekiah, the son and successor of Ahaz, and father and predecessor of Manasseh, in which, through the sin of Ahaz, negotiations with the world-kingdom began, that cloudy aspect of the kingdom which is borne by the second supplement, Proverbs 24:23-25, was brought near.
Thus between Solomon and Hezekiah, and probably under Jehoshaphat, the older Book of Proverbs contained in chap. 1-24:22 first appeared. The “Proverbs of Solomon,” Prov 10:1-22:16, which formed the principal part, the very kernel of it, were enclosed on the one side, at their commencement, by the lengthened introduction 1:7-9:18, in which the collector announces himself as a highly gifted teacher and as the instrument of the Spirit of revelation, and on the other side are shut in at their close by “the Words of the Wise,” 22:17-24:34. The author, indeed, does not announce Proverbs 1:6 such a supplement of “the Words of the Wise;” but after these words in the title of the book, he leads us to expect it. The introduction to the supplement Proverbs 22:17-21 sounds like an echo of the larger introduction, and corresponds to the smaller compass of the supplement. The work bears on the whole the stamp of a unity; for even in the last proverb with which it closes (Proverbs 24:21., “My son, fear thou Jahve and the king,” etc.), there still sounds the same key-note which the author had struck at the commencement. A later collector, belonging to the time subsequent to Hezekiah, enlarged the work by the addition of the Hezekiah-portion, and by a short supplement of “the Words of the Wise,” which he introduces, according to the law of analogy, after 22:17-24:22. The harmony of the superscriptions Proverbs 24:23; Proverbs 25:1, favours at least the supposition that these supplements are the work of one hand. The circumstance that “the Words of the Wise,” 22:17-24:22, in two of their maxims refer to the older collection of Solomonic proverbs, but, on the contrary, that “the Words of the Wise,” Proverbs 24:23., refer in Proverbs 24:23 to the Hezekiah-collection, and in Proverbs 24:33. to the introduction 1:7-9:18, strengthens the supposition that with Proverbs 24:23 a second half of the book, added by another hand, begins. There is no reason for not attributing the appendix chap. 30-31 to this second collector; perhaps he seeks, as already remarked above, to render by means of it the conclusion of the extended Book of Proverbs uniform with that of the older book. Like the older collection of “Proverbs of Solomon,” so also now the Hezekiah-collection has “Proverbs of the Wise” on the right and on the left, and the king of proverbial poetry stands in the midst of a worthy retinue. The second collector distinguishes himself from the first by this, that he never professes himself to be a proverbial poet. It is possible that the proverbial poem of the “virtuous woman,” Proverbs 31:10., may be his work, but there is nothing to substantiate this opinion.
After this digression, into which we have been led by the repetitions found in the book, we now return, conformably to our plan, to examine it from the point of view of the forms of its language and of its doctrinal contents, and to inquire whether the results hitherto attained are confirmed, and perhaps more fully determined, by this further investigation.
4. The Book of the Proverbs on the Side of Its Manifoldness of Style and Form of Instruction
We commence our inquiry with the relation in which chap. 10-22:16 and chap. 25-29 stand to each other with reference to their forms of language. If the primary stock of both of these sections belongs indeed to the old time of Solomon, then they must bear essentially the same verbal stamp upon them. Here we of course keep out of view the proverbs that are wholly or partially identical. If the expression חדרי־בטן (the chambers of the body) is in the first collection a favourite figure (Proverbs 18:8; Proverbs 20:27, Proverbs 20:30), coined perhaps by Solomon himself, the fact that this figure is also found in Proverbs 26:22 is not to be taken into account, since in Proverbs 26:22 the proverb Proverbs 18:8 is repeated. Now it cannot at all be denied, that in the first collection certain expressions are met with which one might expect to meet again in the Hezekiah-collection, and which, notwithstanding, are not to be found in it. Ewald gives a list of such expressions, in order to show that the old-Solomonic dialect occurs, with few exceptions, only in the first collection. But his catalogue, when closely inspected, is unsatisfactory. That many of these expressions occur also in the introduction Prov 1-9 proves, it is true, nothing against him. But מרפּא (health), Proverbs 12:18; Proverbs 13:17; Proverbs 14:30; Proverbs 15:4; Proverbs 16:24, occurs also in Proverbs 29:1; רדּף (he pursueth), Proverbs 11:19; Proverbs 12:11; Proverbs 15:9; Proverbs 19:7, also in Proverbs 28:19; נרגּן (a tattler), Proverbs 16:28; Proverbs 18:8, also in Proverbs 26:20, Proverbs 26:22; לא ינּקה (not go unpunished), Proverbs 11:21; Proverbs 16:5; Proverbs 17:5, also in Proverbs 28:20. These expressions thus supply an argument for, not against, the linguistic oneness of the two collections. The list of expressions common to the two collections might be considerably increased, e.g.: נפרע (are unruly), Proverbs 29:18, Kal Proverbs 13:18; Proverbs 15:32; אץ (he that hastens), Proverbs 19:2; Proverbs 21:5; Proverbs 28:20; Proverbs 29:19; מדונים (of contentions), Proverbs 21:9 (Proverbs 25:24), Proverbs 21:19; Proverbs 23:29; Proverbs 26:21; Proverbs 27:25. If it may be regarded as a striking fact that the figures of speech מקור חיּים (a fountain of life), Proverbs 10:11; Proverbs 13:14; Proverbs 14:27; Proverbs 17:22, and עץ חיּים (a tree of life), Proverbs 11:30; Proverbs 13:12; Proverbs 15:4, as also the expressions מחתּה (destruction), Proverbs 10:14-15; Proverbs 13:3; Proverbs 14:28; Proverbs 18:7; Proverbs 10:29; Proverbs 21:15, יפיח (he uttereth), Proverbs 12:17; Proverbs 14:5, Proverbs 14:25; Proverbs 19:5, Proverbs 19:9; סלּף (perverteth), Proverbs 13:6; Proverbs 19:3; Proverbs 21:12; Proverbs 22:12, and סלף (perverseness), Proverbs 11:3; Proverbs 15:4, are only to be found in the first collection, and not in that by the “men of Hezekiah,” it is not a decisive evidence against the oneness of the origin of the proverbs in both collections. The fact also, properly brought forward by Ewald, that proverbs which begin with ישׁ (there is) - e.g., Proverbs 11:24, “There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth still,” - are exclusively found in the first collection, need not perplex us; it is one peculiar kind of proverbs which the author of this collection has by preference gathered together, as he has also omitted all parabolic proverbs except these two, Proverbs 10:26; Proverbs 11:22. If proverbs beginning with ישׁ are found only in the first, so on the other hand the parabolic Vav and the proverbial perfect, reporting as it were an experience (cf. in the second collection, besides Proverbs 26:13; Proverbs 27:12; Proverbs 29:13, also Proverbs 28:1; Proverbs 29:9), for which Döderlein
(Note: Reden u. Aufsätze, ii. 316.)
has invented the expression aoristus gnomicus,
(Note: A similar thing is found among German proverbs, e.g.: Wer nicht mitsass, auch nicht mitass (Whoso sat not, ate not).)
are common to both sentences. Another remark of Ewald's ( Jahrb. xi. 28), that extended proverbs with אישׁ are exclusively found in the Hezekiah-collection (Proverbs 29:9, Proverbs 29:3; Proverbs 25:18, Proverbs 25:28), is not fully established; in Proverbs 16:27-29 three proverbs with אישׁ are found together, and in Proverbs 20:6 as well as in Proverbs 29:9 אישׁ occurs twice in one proverb. Rather it strikes us that the article, not merely the punctatorially syncopated, but that expressed by ה , occurs only twice in the first collection, in Proverbs 20:1; Proverbs 21:31; oftener in the second, Proverbs 26:14, Proverbs 26:18; Proverbs 27:19-20, Proverbs 27:22. Since, however, the first does not wholly omit the article, this also cannot determine us to reject the linguistic unity of the second collection with the first, at least according to their primary stock.
But also what of the linguistic unity of Prov 1-9 with both of these, maintained by Keil? It is true, and merits all consideration, that a unity of language and of conception between chap. 1-9 and chap. 10-22:16 which far exceeds the degree of unity between chap. 10-22:16 and chap. 25-29 may be proved. The introduction is bound with the first collection in the closest manner by the same use of such expressions as אגר (gathereth), Proverbs 6:8; Proverbs 10:5; אישׁון (the middle, i.e., of the night, deep darkness), Proverbs 7:9; Proverbs 20:20; אחרית (the end), Proverbs 5:4; Proverbs 23:18; Proverbs 24:14; אכזרי (fierce), Proverbs 5:9; Proverbs 17:11; בּינה (understanding), Proverbs 1:2; Proverbs 16:16; תּבוּנה (understanding), Proverbs 2:6; Proverbs 3:19; Proverbs 21:30; זרה (an adulteress), Proverbs 5:3; Proverbs 22:14; Proverbs 23:33; חסר לב (lacking understanding), Proverbs 6:32; Proverbs 7:7; Proverbs 12:11; יוסף לקח (will increase learning), Proverbs 1:5; Proverbs 9:9; Proverbs 16:21, Proverbs 16:23; יפיח (uttereth), Proverbs 6:19; Proverbs 14:5; Proverbs 19:5, Proverbs 19:9; נלוז (perverted), Proverbs 3:32; Proverbs 14:2; מדנים (contention), Proverbs 6:14, Proverbs 6:19; Proverbs 10:12; מרפּא (health), Proverbs 4:22; Proverbs 12:18; Proverbs 13:17; Proverbs 16:24 (deliverance, Proverbs 29:1); נסּח (are plucked up), Proverbs 2:22; Proverbs 15:25; ינּקה לא (shall not be unpunished), Proverbs 6:29; Proverbs 11:21; Proverbs 16:5; העז (strengthened, i.e., the face), Proverbs 7:13; Proverbs 21:29; עץ חיּים (tree of life), Proverbs 3:18; Proverbs 11:30; Proverbs 13:12; Proverbs 15:4; ערב (becometh surety) and תּקע (striketh hands) occurring together, Proverbs 6:1; Proverbs 17:18; Proverbs 22:26; פּתים and פּתאים (simplicity, folly), Proverbs 1:22, Proverbs 1:32; Proverbs 8:5; Proverbs 9:6; Proverbs 23:3; קרץ (to wink with the eyes), Proverbs 6:13; Proverbs 10:10; קרת (a city), Proverbs 8:3; Proverbs 9:3, Proverbs 9:14; Proverbs 11:11; ראשׁית (the beginning), Proverbs 1:7; Proverbs 17:14; שׂכל טוב (good understanding), Proverbs 3:4; Proverbs 13:15; ישׁכּנוּ־ארץ (shall dwell in the land), Proverbs 2:21; Proverbs 10:30; שׁלּח מדון (sendeth forth strife), Proverbs 6:14; Proverbs 16:28; תּהפּכות (evil words), Proverbs 2:12; Proverbs 6:14; Proverbs 10:31; Proverbs 16:28; תּורה (instruction), Proverbs 1:8; Proverbs 3:1; Proverbs 4:2; Proverbs 7:2; Proverbs 13:14; תּוּשׁיּה (counsel), Proverbs 3:21; Proverbs 8:14; Proverbs 18:1; תּחבּוּלות (prudent measures), Proverbs 1:5; Proverbs 20:18; Proverbs 24:6; - and these are not the only points of contact between the two portions which an attentive reader will meet with. This relation of Prov 1-9 to chap. 10-22:16 is a strong proof of the internal unity of that portion, which Bertheau has called in question. But are we therefore to conclude, with Keil, that the introduction is not less of the old time of Solomon than chap. 10-22:16? Such a conclusion lies near, but we do not yet reach it. For with these points of contact there are not a few expressions exclusively peculiar to the introduction; - the expressions מזמּה sing. (counsel), Proverbs 1:4; Proverbs 3:21; ערמה (prudence), Proverbs 1:4; Proverbs 8:5, Proverbs 8:12; מליצה (an enigma, obscure maxim), Proverbs 1:6; מעגּל (a path of life), Proverbs 2:9; Proverbs 4:11, Proverbs 4:26; מעגּלה , Proverbs 2:15, Proverbs 2:18; Proverbs 5:6, Proverbs 5:21; אישׁון (the apple of the eye), Proverbs 7:2, Proverbs 7:9; גּרגּות (the throat), Proverbs 1:9; Proverbs 3:3, Proverbs 3:22; the verbs אתה (cometh), Proverbs 1:27, פּלּס (make level or plain), Proverbs 4:26; Proverbs 5:6, Proverbs 5:21, and שׂטה (deviate), Proverbs 4:15; Proverbs 7:25. Peculiar to this section is the heaping together of synonyms in close connection, as “congregation” and “assembly,” Proverbs 5:14, “lovely hind” and “pleasant roe,” Proverbs 5:19; cf. Proverbs 5:11; Proverbs 6:7; Proverbs 7:9; Proverbs 8:13, Proverbs 8:31. This usage is, however, only a feature in the characteristic style of this section altogether different from that of 10:1-22:16, as well as from that of chap. 25-29, of its disjointed diffuse form, delighting in repetitions, abounding in synonymous parallelism, even to a repetition of the same words (cf. e.g., Proverbs 6:2), which, since the linguistic and the poetic forms are here inseparable, we have already spoken of in the second part of our introductory dissertation. This fundamental diversity in the whole condition of the section, notwithstanding those numerous points of resemblance, demands for chap. 1-9 an altogether different author from Solomon, and one who is more recent. If we hold by this view, then these points of resemblance between the sections find the most satisfactory explanation. The gifted author of the introduction (Prov 1-9) has formed his style, without being an altogether slavish imitator, on the Solomonic proverbs. And why, then, are his parallels confined almost exclusively to the section 10:1-22:16, and do not extend to chap. 25-29? Because he edited the former and not the latter, and took pleasure particularly in the proverbs which he placed together, 10:1-22:16. Not only are expressions of this section, formed by himself, echoed in his poetry, but the latter are for the most part formed out of germs supplied by the former. One may regard Proverbs 19:27, cf. Proverbs 27:11, as the germ of the admonitory addresses to the son, and Proverbs 14:1 as the occasion of the allegory of the wise and the foolish woman, chap. 9. Generally, the poetry of this writer has its hidden roots in the older writings. Who does not hear, to mention only one thing, in Prov 1:7-9:18 an echo of the old שׁמע (hear), Deuteronomy 6:4-9, cf. Proverbs 11:18-21? The whole poetry of this writer savours of the Book of Deuteronomy. The admonitory addresses Deut 1:7-9:18 are to the Book of Proverbs what Deuteronomy is to the Pentateuch. As Deuteronomy seeks to bring home and seal upon the heart of the people the תּורה of the Mosaic law, so do they the תּורה of the Solomonic proverbs.
We now further inquire whether, in the style of the two supplements, Prov 22:27-24:22 and Proverbs 24:23., it is proved that the former concludes the Book of Proverbs edited by the author of the general introduction, and that the latter was added by a different author at the same time with the Hezekiah-collection. Bertheau placed both supplements together, and attributes the introduction to them, Proverbs 22:17-21, to the author of the general introduction, Proverbs 1:7-9. From the fact that in Proverbs 22:19 of this lesser introduction (“I have taught thee, אף־אתּה , even thee”) the pronoun is as emphatically repeated as in Proverbs 23:15 ( לבּי גם־אני , cf. Proverbs 23:14, Proverbs 23:19), and that נעים (sweet), Proverbs 22:18, also occurs in the following proverbs, Proverbs 23:8; Proverbs 24:4, I see no ground for denying it to the author of the larger general introduction, since, according to Bertheau's own just observation, the linguistic form of the whole collection of proverbs has an influence on the introduction of the collector; with more justice from שׁלישׁים , Proverbs 22:20 [only in Keri ], as the title of honour given to the collection of proverbs, compared with נגידים , Proverbs 8:6, may we argue for the identity of the authorship of both introductions. As little can the contemporaneousness of the two supplements be shown from the use of the pronoun, Proverbs 24:32, the שׁית לב ( animum advertere , Proverbs 24:32), and ינעם (shall be delight) Proverbs 24:25, for these verbal points of contact, if they proved anything, would prove too much: not only the contemporaneousness of the two supplements, but also the identity of their authorship; but in this case one does not see what the superscription גּם־אלּה לחכמים (these also of the wise men), separating them, means. Moreover, Proverbs 24:33. are from Proverbs 6:10., and nearer than the comparison of the first supplement lies the comparison of ינעם with Proverbs 2:10; Proverbs 9:17, אדם חסר לב (a man lacking understanding) with Proverbs 17:18, יזעמוּהוּ with Proverbs 22:14 - points of contact which, if an explanatory reason is needed, may be accounted for from the circumstance that to the author or authors of the proverbs Proverbs 24:23. the Book of Prov 1:1-24:22 may have been perfectly familiar. From imitation also the points of contact of Prov 22:17-24:22 may easily be explained; for not merely the lesser introduction, the proverbs themselves also in part strikingly agree with the prevailing language of 1-9: cf. אשּׁר בּדּרך (go straight forward in the way), Proverbs 23:19, with Proverbs 4:14; חכמות (wisdom), Proverbs 24:7, with Proverbs 1:20; Proverbs 9:1; and several others. But if, according to Proverbs 1:7, we conceive of the older Book of Proverbs as accompanied with, rather than as without דּברי חכמים (words of wise men), then from the similarity of the two superscriptions Proverbs 24:23; Proverbs 25:1, it is probable that the more recent half of the canonical book begins with Proverbs 24:23, and we cannot therefore determine to regard Proverbs 24:23. also as a component part of the older Book of Proverbs; particularly since Proverbs 24:23 is like Proverbs 28:21, and the author of the introduction can scarcely have twice taken into his book the two Proverbs 24:33., which moreover seem to stand in their original connection at Proverbs 6:10.
The supplements to the Hezekiah-collection, chap. 30f., are of so peculiar a form, that it will occur to no one (leaving out of view such expressions as דּעת קדשׁים , knowledge of the Holy, Proverbs 30:3, cf. Proverbs 9:10) to ascribe them to one of the authors of the preceding proverbs. We content ourselves here with a reference to Mühlau's work, De Proverbiorum quae dicuntur Aguri et Lemuelis origine atque indole, 1869, where the Aramaic-Arabic colouring of this in all probability foreign section is closely investigated.
Having thus abundantly proved that the two groups of proverbs bearing the inscription משׁלי שׁלמה are, as to their primary stock, truly old-Solomonic, though not without an admixture of imitations; that, on the contrary, the introduction, Prov 1:7-9:18, as well as the דברי חכמים , Proverbs 22:17-24 and 30f., are not at all old-Solomonic, but belong to the editor of the older Book of Proverbs, which reaches down to Proverbs 24:22, so that thus the present book of the poetry of Solomon contains united with it the poems of the older editor, and besides of other poets, partly unknown Israelites, and partly two foreigners particularly named, Agur and Lemuel; we now turn our attention to the Doctrinal Contents of the work, and ask whether a manifoldness in the type of instruction is noticeable in it, and whether there is perceptible in this manifoldness a progressive development. It may be possible that the Proverbs of Solomon, the Words of the Wise, and the Proverbial poetry of the editor, as they represent three eras, so also represent three different stages in the development of proverbial poetry. However, the Words of the Wise Proverbs 22:17-24 are so internally related to the Proverbs of Solomon, that even the sharpest eye will discover in them not more than the evening twilight of the vanishing Solomonic Mashal. There thus remain on the one side only the Proverbs of Solomon with their echo in the Words of the Wise, on the other the Proverbial Poems of the editor; and these present themselves as monuments of two sharply defined epochs in the progressive development of the Mashal.
The common fundamental character of the book in all its parts is rightly defined when we call it a Book of Wisdom. Indeed, with the Church Fathers not only the Book of Sirach and the Solomonic Apocrypha, but also this Book of Proverbs bears this title, which seems also to have been in use among the Jews, since Melito of Sardes adds to the title “Proverbs of Solomon,” ἡ καὶ Σοφὶα ; since, moreover, Eusebius (H.E. iv. 22) affirms, that not only Hegesippus and Irenaeus, but the whole of the ancients, called the Proverbs of Solomon Πανάρετος Σοφία .
(Note: This name meaning “wisdom, including all virtue”, there are many things to show, was common in Palestine. The Jerusalem Talmud, in a passage quoted by Krochmal, Kerem Chemed, v. 79, divides the canon into תורה , נבואה , and חכמה . Rashi, in Baba bathra, 14b, calls Mishle (Proverbs) and Koheleth (Ecclesiastes) ספרי חכמה . The Book of Koheleth is called (b. Megilla, 7a), according to its contents, חכמתו שׁל שׁלמה . The Song bears in the Syriac version (the Peshito) the inscription chekmetho dechekmotho .)
It is also worthy of observation that it is called by Dionysius of Alexandria ἡ σοφὴ βίβλος , and by Gregory of Nazianzum ἡ παιδαγωγικὴ σοφία . These names not only express praise of the book, but they also denote at the same time the circle of human intellectual activity from which it emanated. As the books of prophecy are a product of the נבוּאה , so the Book of the Proverbs is a product of the חכמה , σοφία , the human effort to apprehend the objective σοφία , and thus of φιλοσοφία , or the studium sapientiae . It has emanated from the love of wisdom, to incite to the love of wisdom, and to put into the possession of that which is the object of love - for this end it was written. We need not hesitate, in view of Colossians 2:8, to call the Book of Proverbs a “philosophical” treatise, since the origin of the name φιλοσοφία is altogether noble: it expresses the relativity of human knowledge as over against the absoluteness of the divine knowledge, and the possibility of an endlessly progressive advancement of the human toward the divine. The characteristic ideas of a dialectic development of thought and of the formation of a scientific system did not primarily appertain to it - the occasion for this was not present to the Israelitish people: it required fructification through the Japhetic spirit to produce philosophers such as Philo, Maimonides, and Spinoza. But philosophy is everywhere present when the natural, moral, positive, is made the object of a meditation which seeks to apprehend its last ground, its legitimate coherence, its true essence and aim. In the view C. B. Michaelis, in his Adnotationes uberiores in Hagiographa, passes from the exposition of the Psalms to that of the Proverbs with the words, “From David's closet, consecrated to prayer, we now pass into Solomon's school of wisdom, to admire the greatest of philosophers in the son of the greatest of theologians.”
(Note: “ In hoc genere ,” says Lord Bacon, De Augmentis Scientiarum, viii. 2, “nihil invenitur, quod ullo modo comparandum sit cum aphorismis illis, quos edidit rex Salomon, de quo testatur Scriptura, cor illi fuisse instar arenae maris. Sicut enim arenae maris universas orbis oras circumdant, ita et sapientia ejus omnia humana non minus quam divina complexa est. In aphorismis vero illis praeter alia magis theologica reperies liquido haud pauca praecepta et monita civilia praestantissima, ex profundis quidem sapientiae penetralibus scaturientia atque in amplissimum varietatis campum excurrentia .” Accordingly, in the same work Bacon calls the Proverbs of Solomon “ insignes parabolas s. aphorismos de divina atque morali philosophia .”)
When we give the name φιλοσοφία to the tendency of mind to which the Book of Proverbs belongs, we do not merely use a current scientific word, but there is an actual internal relation of the Book of Proverbs to that which is the essence of philosophy, which Scripture recognises (Acts 17:27, cf. Romans 1:19.) as existing within the domain of heathendom, and which stamps it as a natural produce of the human spirit, which never can be wanting where a human being or a people rises to higher self-consciousness and its operations in their changing relation to the phenomena of the external world. The mysteries of the world without him and of the world within him give man no rest, he must seek to solve them; and whenever he does that, he philosophizes, i.e., he strives after a knowledge of the nature of things, and of the laws which govern them in the world of phenomena and of events; on which account also Josephus, referring to Solomon's knowledge of nature, says (Ant. viii. 2. 5), οὐδεμίαν τούτων φύσιν ἠγνόησεν οὐδὲ παρῆλθεν ἀνεξέταστον ἀλλ ̓ ἐν πάσαις ἐφιλοσόφησεν . Cf. Irenaeus, Cont. Her. iv. 27. 1: eam quae est in conditione ( κτίσει ) sapientiam Dei exponebat physiologice .
The historical books show us how much the age of Solomon favoured philosophical inquiries by its prosperity and peace, its active and manifold commercial intercourse with foreign nations, its circle of vision extending to Tarshish and Ophir, and also how Solomon himself attained to an unequalled elevation in the extent of his human and secular knowledge. We also read of some of the wise men in 1 Kings 5:11, cf. Ps 88-89, who adorned the court of the wisest of kings; and the משׁל , which became, through his influence, a special branch of Jewish literature, is the peculiar poetic form of the חכמה . Therefore in the Book of Proverbs we find the name חכמים דּברי (words of the wise) used for משׁלים (proverbs); and by a careful consideration of all the proverbs in which mention is made of the חכמים , one will convince himself that this name has not merely a common ethical sense, but begins to be the name of those who made wisdom, i.e., the knowledge of things in the depths of their essence, their special lifework, and who connected themselves together in oneness of sentiment and fellowship into a particular circle within the community. To this conclusion we are conducted by such proverbs as Proverbs 13:20 -
He that walketh with wise men becomes wise,
And whoever has intercourse with fools is destroyed;
Proverbs 15:12 -
The scorner loveth not that one reprove him:
To wise men he goeth not; -
and by the contrast, which prevails in the Book of Proverbs, between לץ (mocker) and חכם (wise), in which we see that, at the same time with the striving after wisdom, scepticism also, which we call free thought, obtained a great ascendency in Israel. Mockery of religion, rejection of God in principle and practice, a casting away of all fear of Jahve, and in general of all δεισιδαιμονία , were in Israel phenomena which had already marked the times of David. One may see from the Psalms that the community of the Davidic era is to be by no means regarded as furnishing a pattern of religious life: that there were in it גּוים (Gentile nations) which were in no way externally inferior to them, and that it did not want for rejecters of God. But it is natural to expect that in the Solomonic era, which was more than any other exposed to the dangers of sensuality and worldliness, and of religious indifference and free-thinking latitudinarianism, the number of the לצים increased, and that scepticism and mockery became more intensified. The Solomonic era appears to have first coined the name of לץ for those men who despised that which was holy, and in doing so laid claim to wisdom (Proverbs 14:6), who caused contention and bitterness when they spake, and carefully avoided the society of the חכמים , because they thought themselves above their admonitions (Proverbs 15:12). For in the psalms of the Davidic time the word נבל is commonly used for them (it occurs in the Proverbs only in Proverbs 17:21, with the general meaning of low fellow, Germ. Bube ), and the name לץ is never met with except once, in Psalms 1:1, which belongs to the post-Davidic era. One of the Solomonic proverbs (Proverbs 21:24) furnishes a definite idea of this newly formed word:
An inflated arrogant man they call a scorner ( לץ ),
One who acts in the superfluity of haughtiness.
By the self-sufficiency of his ungodly thoughts and actions he is distinguished from the פּתי (simple), who is only misled, and may therefore be reclaimed, Proverbs 19:25; Proverbs 21:11; by his non-recognition of the Holy in opposition to a better knowledge and better means and opportunities, he is distinguished from the כּסיל (foolish, stupid), Proverbs 17:16, the אויל (foolish, wicked), Proverbs 1:7; Proverbs 7:22, and the חסר לב (the void of understanding), Proverbs 6:32, who despise truth and instruction from want of understanding, narrowness, and forgetfulness of God, but not from perverse principle. This name specially coined, the definition of it given (cf. also the similarly defining proverb Proverbs 24:8), and in general the rich and fine technical proverbs in relation to the manifold kinds of wisdom ( בּינה , Proverbs 16:16; מוּסר , Proverbs 1:8; תּבוּנות , Proverbs 21:30; מזמּות , Proverbs 5:2; תּחבּוּלות , Proverbs 1:5; Proverbs 12:5; the תּוּשׁיּה first coined by the Chokma, etc.), of instruction in wisdom ( לקח , Proverbs 1:5; תּורה , Proverbs 4:2; Proverbs 6:23; רעה , to tend to a flock, to instruct, Proverbs 10:21; חנך , Proverbs 22:6; הוכח , Proverbs 15:12; לקח נפשׁות , to win souls, Proverbs 6:25; Proverbs 11:30), of the wise men themselves ( חכם , Proverbs 12:15; נבון , Proverbs 10:13; מוכיח , a reprover, preacher of repentance, Proverbs 25:12, etc.), and of the different classes of men (among whom also אדם אחרי , one who steps backwards [retrograder], Proverbs 28:23) - all this shows that חכמה was at that time not merely the designation of an ethical quality, but also the designation of a science rooted in the fear of God to which many noble men in Israel then addicted themselves. Jeremiah places (Jeremiah 18:18) the חכם along with the כּהן (priest) and נביא (prophet); and if Ezekiel 7:26) uses זקן (old man) instead of חכם , yet by reference to Job 12:12 this may be understood. In his “Dissertation on the popular and intellectual freedom of Israel from the time of the great prophets to the first destruction of Jerusalem” ( Jahrbücher, i. 96f.), Ewald says, “One can scarcely sufficiently conceive how high the attainment was which was reached in the pursuit after wisdom (philosophy) in the first centuries after David, and one too much overlooks the mighty influence it exerted on the entire development of the national life of Israel. The more closely those centuries are inquired into, the more are we astonished at the vast power which wisdom so early exerted on all sides as the common object of pursuit of many men among the people. It first openly manifested itself in special circles of the people, while in the age after Solomon, which was peculiarly favourable to it, eagerly inquisitive scholars gathered around individual masters, until ever increasing schools were formed. But its influence gradually penetrated all the other pursuits of the people, and operated on the most diverse departments of authorship.” We are in entire sympathy with this historical view first advanced by Ewald, although we must frequently oppose the carrying of it out in details. The literature and the national history of Israel are certainly not understood if one does not take into consideration, along with the נבוּאה (prophecy), the influential development of the חכמה as a special aim and subject of intellectual activity in Israel.
And how was this Chokma conditioned - to what was it directed? To denote its condition and aim in one word, it was universalistic, or humanistic. Emanating from the fear or the religion of Jahve ( דּרך ה , the way of the Lord, Proverbs 10:29), but seeking to comprehend the spirit in the letter, the essence in the forms of the national life, its effort was directed towards the general truth affecting mankind as such. While prophecy, which is recognised by the Chokma as a spiritual power indispensable to a healthful development of a people ( בּאין חזון יפּרע עם , Job 29:18), is of service to the historical process into which divine truth enters to work out its results in Israel, and from thence outward among mankind, the Chokma seeks to look into the very essence of this truth through the robe of its historical and national manifestation, and then to comprehend those general ideas in which could already be discovered the fitness of the religion of Jahve for becoming the world-religion. From this aim towards the ideal in the historical, towards the everlasting same amid changes, the human (I intentionally use this word) in the Israelitish, the universal religion in the Jahve-religion (Jahvetum), and the universal morality in the Law, all the peculiarities of the Book of Proverbs are explained, as well as of the long, broad stream of the literature of the Chokma, beginning with Solomon, which, when the Palestinian Judaism assumed the rugged, exclusive, proud national character of Pharisaism, developed itself in Alexandrinism. Bertheau is amazed that in the Proverbs there are no warnings given against the worship of idols, which from the time of the kings gained more and more prevalence among the Israelitish people. “How is it to be explained,” he asks ( Spr. p. xlii.), “if the proverbs, in part at least, originated during the centuries of conflict between idolatry and the religion of Jahve, and if they were collected at a time in which this conflict reached its climax and stirred all ranks of the people - this conflict against the immorality of the Phoenician-Babylonian religion of nature, which must often have led into the same region of the moral contemplation of the world over which this book moves?!” The explanation lies in this, that the Chokma took its stand-point in a height and depth in which it had the mingling waves of international life and culture under it and above it, without being internally moved thereby. It naturally did not approve of heathenism, it rather looked upon the fear of Jahve as the beginning of wisdom, and the seeking after Jahve as implying the possession of all knowledge (Proverbs 28:5, cf. 1 John 2:20); but it passed over the struggle of prophecy against heathendom, it confined itself to its own function, viz., to raise the treasures of general religious-moral truth in the Jahve-religion, and to use them for the ennobling of the Israelites as men. In vain do we look for the name ישׂראל in the Proverbs, even the name תּורה has a much more flexible idea attached to it than that of the law written at Sinai (cf. Proverbs 28:4; Proverbs 29:18 with Proverbs 28:7; Proverbs 13:14, and similar passages); prayer and good works are placed above sacrifice, Proverbs 15:8; Proverbs 21:3, Proverbs 21:27 - practical obedience to the teaching if wisdom above all, Proverbs 28:9. The Proverbs refer with special interest to Gen 1 and 2, the beginnings of the world and of the human race before nations took their origin. On this primitive record in the book of Genesis, to speak only of the משׁלי שׁלמה , the figure of the tree of life (perhaps also of the fountain of life), found nowhere else in the Old Testament, leans; on it leans also the contrast, deeply pervading the Proverbs, between life (immortality, Proverbs 12:28) and death, or between that which is above and that which is beneath (Proverbs 15:24); on it also many other expressions, such, e.g., as what is said in Proverbs 20:27 of the “spirit of man.” This also, as Stier ( Der Weise ein König, 1849, p. 240) has observed, accounts for the fact that אדם occurs by far most frequently in the Book of Job and in the Solomonic writings. All these phenomena are explained from the general human universal aim of the Chokma.
When James (James 3:17) says that the “wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy,” his words most excellently designate the nature and the contents of the discourse of wisdom in the Solomonic proverbs, and one is almost inclined to think that the apostolic brother of the Lord, when he delineates wisdom, has before his eyes the Book of the Proverbs, which raises to purity by the most impressive admonitions. Next to its admonitions to purity are those especially to peacefulness, to gentle resignation (Proverbs 14:30), quietness of mind (Proverbs 14:33) and humility (Proverbs 11:2; Proverbs 15:33; Proverbs 16:5, Proverbs 16:18), to mercy (even toward beasts, Proverbs 12:10), to firmness and sincerity of conviction, to the furtherance of one's neighbour by means of wise discourse and kind help. What is done in the Book of Deuteronomy with reference to he law is continued here. As in Deuteronomy, so here, love is at the bottom of its admonitions, the love of God to men, and the love of men to one another in their diverse relations (Deuteronomy 12:2; Deuteronomy 15:9); the conception of צדקה gives way to that of charity, of almsgiving ( δικαιοσύνη = ἐλεημοσύνη ). Forgiving, suffering love (Proverbs 10:12), love which does good even to enemies (Proverbs 25:21.), rejoices not over the misfortune that befalls an enemy (Proverbs 24:17.), retaliates not (Proverbs 24:28.), but commits all to God (Proverbs 20:22) - love in its manifold forms, as that of husband and wife, of children, of friends - is here recommended with New Testament distinctness and with deepest feeling. Living in the fear of God (Proverbs 28:14), the Omniscient (Proverbs 15:3, Proverbs 15:11; Proverbs 16:2; Proverbs 21:2; Proverbs 24:11.), to whom as the final Cause all is referred (Proverbs 20:12, Proverbs 20:24; Proverbs 14:31; Proverbs 22:2), and whose universal plan all must subserve (Proverbs 16:4; Proverbs 19:21; Proverbs 21:30), and on the other side active pure love to man - these are the hinges on which all the teachings of wisdom in the Proverbs turn. Frederick Schlegel, in the fourteenth of his Lectures on the History of Literature, distinguishes, not without deep truth, between the historico-prophetic books of the Old Testament, or books of the history of redemption, and the Book of Job, the Psalms, and the Solomonic writings, as books of aspiration, corresponding to the triple chord of faith, hope, charity as the three stages of the inner spiritual life. The Book of Job is designed to support faith amid trials; the Psalms breathe forth and exhibit hope amid the conflicts of earth's longings; the Solomonic writings reveal to us the mystery of the divine love, and the Proverbs that wisdom which grows out of and is itself eternal love. When Schlegel in the same lecture says that the books of the Old Covenant, for the most part, stand under the signature of the lion as the element of the power of will and spirited conflict glowing in divine fire, but that in the inmost hidden kernel and heart of the sacred book the Christian figure of the lamb rises up out of the veil of this lion strength, this may specially be said of the Book of Proverbs, for here that same heavenly wisdom preaches, which, when manifested in person, spake in the Sermon on the Mount, New Testament love in the midst of the Old Testament.
It is said that in the times before Christ there was a tendency to apocryphize not only the Song of Solomon and Ecclesiastes, but also the Book of Proverbs, and that for the first time the men of the Great Synagogue established their canonicity on the ground of their spiritual import; they became perplexed about the Proverbs, according to b. Sabbath, 30b, on account of such self-contradictory proverbs as Proverbs 26:4-5, and according to Aboth de-Rabbi Nathan, c. 1, on account of such secular portions as that of the wanton woman, chap. 7. But there is no need to allegorize this woman, and that self-contradiction is easily explained. The theopneustic character of the book and its claim to canonicity show themselves from its integral relation to the Old Testament preparation for redemption; but keeping out of view the book as a whole, it is self-evident that the conception of a practical proverb such as Proverbs 14:4 and of a prophecy such as Isaiah 7:14 are very different phenomena of the spiritual life, and that in general the operation of the Divine Spirit in a proverb is different from that in a prophecy.
We have hitherto noted the character of the instruction set forth in the Proverbs according to the marks common to them in all their parts, but in such a way that we have taken our proofs only from the “Proverbs of Solomon” and the “Words of the Wise,” with the exclusion of the introductory proverbial poems of the older editor. If we compare the two together, it cannot be denied that in the type of the instruction contained in the latter, the Chokma, of which the book is an emanation and which it has as its aim ( לדעת חכמה , Proverbs 1:2), stands before us in proportionally much more distinctly defined comprehension and form; we have the same relation before us whose adumbration is the relation of the instruction of wisdom in the Avesta and in the later Minochired (Spiegel, Parsi-Grammatik, p. 182ff.). The Chokma appears also in the “Proverbs of Solomon” as a being existing in and for itself, which is opposed to ambiguous subjective thought (Proverbs 28:26); but here there is attributed to it an objectivity even to an apparent personality: it goes forth preaching, and places before all men life and death for an eternally decisive choice, it distributes the spirit of those who do not resist (Proverbs 1:23), it receives and answers prayer (Proverbs 1:28). The speculation regarding the Chokma is here with reference to Job 28 (cf. Proverbs 2:4; Proverbs 3:14., Proverbs 8:11, Proverbs 8:19), and particularly to Job 28:27, where a demiurgic function is assigned to wisdom, carried back to its source in eternity: it is the medium by which the world was created, Proverbs 3:19; it was before the creation of the world with God as from everlasting, His son of royal dignity, Proverbs 8:22-26; it was with Him in His work of creation, Proverbs 8:27-30; after the creation it remained as His delight, rejoicing always before Him, and particularly on the earth among the sons of men, Proverbs 8:30. Staudenmaier (Lehre von der Idee, p. 37) is certainly not on the wrong course, when under this rejoicing of wisdom before God he understands the development of the ideas or life-thoughts intimately bound up in it - the world-idea. This development is the delight of God, because it represents to the divine contemplation of the contents of wisdom, or of the world-idea founded in the divine understanding, in all its activities and inner harmonies; it is a calm delight, because the divine idea unites with the fresh and every young impulse of life, the purity, goodness, innocence, and holiness of life, because its spirit is light, clear, simple, childlike, in itself peaceful, harmonious, and happy; and this delight is experienced especially on the earth among the sons of men, among whom wisdom has its delight; for, as the divine idea, it is in all in so far as it is the inmost life-thought, the soul of each being, but it is on the earth of men in whom it comes to its self-conception, and self-conscious comes forth into the light of the clear day. Staudenmaier has done the great service of having worthily estimated the rich and deep fulness of this biblical theologumenon of wisdom, and of having pointed out in it the foundation-stone of a sacred metaphysics and a means of protection against pantheism in all its forms. We see that in the time of the editor of the older Book of Proverbs the wisdom of the schools in its devotion to the chosen object of its pursuit, the divine wisdom living and moving in all nature, and forming the background of all things, rises to a height of speculation on which it has planted a banner showing the right way to latest times. Ewald rightly points to the statements in the introduction to the Proverbs regarding wisdom as a distinct mark of the once great power of wisdom in Israel; for they show us how this power learned to apprehend itself in its own purest height, after it had become as perfect, and at the same time also as self-conscious, as it could at all become in ancient Israel.
Many other appearances also mark the advanced type of instruction contained in the introduction. Hitzig's view ( Sprüche, p. xvii.f.), that Prov 1:6-9:18 are the part of the whole collection which was earliest written, confutes itself on all sides; on the contrary, the views of Bleek in his Introduction to the Old Testament, thrown out in a sketchy manner and as if by a diviner, surprisingly agree with our own results, which have been laboriously reached and are here amply established. The advanced type of instruction in the introduction, chap. 1-9, appears among other things in this, that we there find the allegory, which up to this place occurs in Old Testament literature only in scattered little pictures built up into independent poetic forms, particularly in chap. 9, where without any contradiction אושׁת כּסילוּת a simple woman, Proverbs 5:13 is an allegorical person. The technical language of the Chokma has extended itself on many sides and been refined (we mention these synonyms: חכמה , דּעת , בּינה , ערמה , מזמּה , מוּסר , תּוּשׁיּה ); and the seven pillars in the house of wisdom, even though it be inadmissible to think of them as the seven liberal arts, yet point to a division into seven parts of which the poet was conscious to himself. The common address, בּני [my son], which is not the address of the father to the son, but of the teacher to the scholar, countenances the supposition that there were at that time בּני חכמים , i.e., scholars of the wise men, just as there were “sons of the prophets” ( נּבאים ), and probably also schools of wisdom. “And when it is described how wisdom spake aloud to the people in all the streets of Jerusalem, in the high places of the city and in every favourable place, does not one feel that such sublime descriptions could not be possible unless at that time wisdom were regarded by the people as one of the first powers, and the wise men truly displayed a great public activity?” We must answer this question of Ewald's in the affirmative.
Bruch, in his Weisheitslehre der Hebraer, 1851, was the first to call special attention to the Chokma or humanism as a peculiar intellectual tendency in Israel; but he is mistaken in placing it in an indifferent and even hostile relation to the national law and the national cultus, which he compares to the relation of Christian philosophy to orthodox theology. Oehler, in his Grundzüge der alttestamentl. Weisheit, which treats more especially of the doctrinal teachings of the Book of Job, judges more correctly; cf. also his comprehensive article, Pädagogik des A. T. in Schmid's Pädagogischer Encyclopädie, pp. 653-695 (partic. 677-683).
5. The Alexandrian Translation of the Book of Proverbs
Of highest interest for the history of the Book of Proverbs is the relation of the lxx to the Hebrew text. One half of the proverbs of Agur (30 of the Hebrew text) are placed in it after Proverbs 24:22, and the other half after Proverbs 24:34; and the proverbs of King Lemuel (Proverbs 31:1-9 of the Hebrew text) are placed after the proverbs of Agur, while the acrostic proverbial poem of the virtuous woman is in its place at the end of the book. That transposition reminds us of the transpositions in Jeremiah, and rests in the one place as well as in the other on a misunderstanding of the true contents. The translator has set aside the new superscription, Proverbs 10:1, as unsuitable, and has not marked the new beginning, Proverbs 22:17; he has expunged the new superscription, Proverbs 24:23, and has done the same to the superscription, “The words of Agur” (Proverbs 30:1), in two awkward explanations ( λόγον φυλασσόμενος and τοὺς ἐμοὺς λόγους φοβήθητι ), and the superscription, “The words of Lemuel” (Proverbs 31:1), in one similar ( οἱ ἐμοὶ λόγι εἴρηνται ὑπὸ Θεοῦ ), so that the proverbs of Agur and of Lemuel are without hesitation joined with those of Solomon, whereby it yet remains a mystery why the proverbs beginning with “The words of Agur” have been divided into two parts. Hitzig explains it from a confounding of the columns in which, two being on each page, the Hebrew MS which lay before the translator was written, and in which the proverbs of Agur and of Lemuel (names which tradition understood symbolically of Solomon) were already ranked in order before chap. 25. But besides these, there are also many other singular things connected with this Greek translation interesting in themselves and of great critical worth. That it omits Proverbs 1:16 may arise from this, that this verse was not found in the original MS, and was introduced from Isaiah 59:7; but there are wanting also proverbs such as Isaiah 21:5, for which no reason can be assigned. But the additions are disproportionately more numerous. Frequently we find a line added to the distich, such as in Proverbs 1:18, or an entire distich added, as Proverbs 3:15; or of two lines of the Hebrew verse, each is formed into a separate distich, as Proverbs 1:7; Proverbs 11:16; or we meet with longer interpolations, extending far beyond this measure, as that added to Proverbs 4:27. Many of these proverbs are easily re-translated into the Hebrew, as that added to Proverbs 4:27, consisting of four lines:
כי דרכי מימינים ידע יהוה
ועקשׁים דרכי משׂמאילים
הוא יפלם מעגלותיך
ארחותיך בשׂלום יצלית
But many of them also sound as if they had been originally Greek; e.g., the lines appended to Proverbs 9:10; Proverbs 13:15; the distich, Proverbs 6:11; the imperfect tristich, Proverbs 22:14; and the formless train, Proverbs 25:10. The value of these enlargements is very diverse; not a few of these proverbs are truly thoughtful, such as the addition to Proverbs 12:13 -
He who is of mild countenance findeth mercy;
He who is litigious crushes souls
and singularly bold in imagery, as the addition to Proverbs 9:12 -
He who supports himself by lies hunts after ( רעה ) the wind,
He catches at fluttering birds;
For he forsakes the ways of his own vineyard,
And wanders away from the paths of his own field,
And roams through arid steppes and a thirsty land,
And gathers with his hand withered heath.
The Hebrew text lying before the Alexandrian translators had certainly not all these additions, yet in many passages, such as Proverbs 11:16, it is indeed a question whether it is not to be improved from the lxx; and in other passages, where, if one reads the Greek, the Hebrew words naturally take their place, whether these are not at least old Hebrew marginal notes and interpolations which the translation preserves. But this version itself has had its gradual historical development. The text, the κοινή ( communis ), proceeds from the Hexaplar text edited by Origen, which received from him many and diverse revisions; and in the times before Christ, perhaps (as Hitz. supposes), down to the second century after Christ, the translation itself, not being regarded as complete, as in the progress of growth, for not unfrequently two different translations of one and the same proverb stand together, as Proverbs 14:22; Proverbs 29:25 (where also the Peshito follows the lxx after which it translates), or also interpenetrate one another, as Proverbs 22:8-9. These doubled translations are of historical importance both in relation to the text and to the interpretation of it. Along with the Books of Samuel and Jeremiah, there is no book in regard to which the lxx can be of higher significance than the Book of Proverbs; we shall seek in the course of our exposition duly to estimate the text
(Note: Cf. also J. Gottlob Jäger's Observationes in Proverbiorum Salomonis Versionem Alexandrinam, 1788; de Lagarde's Anmerkungen zur griech. Ueberstezung der Proverbien, 1863; M. Heidenheim's Zur Textkritik der Proverbien, in his Quarterly Journal for German and English Theological Criticism and Investigation, No. VIII (1865), and IX, XI (1866). The text of the lxx (cf. Angelo Mari's Classici Auctores, t. ix.) used by Procopius in his Ἡρμηνεία εἰς τὰς παροιμίας is peculiar, and here and there comes near to the Hebrew original. The scholion of Evagrius in the Σχόλια εἰς τὰς παροιμίας of Origen, edited by Tischendorf in his Notitia, 1860, from a MS of Patmos, shows how soon even the Hexaplar text became ambiguous.)
as adopted by Bertheau (1847) and Hitzig (1858) in their commentaries, and by Ewald in his Jahrb. xi. (1861) and his commentary (2nd ed. 1867). The historical importance of the Egyptian text-recension is heightened by this circumstance, that the old Syrian translator of the Solomonic writings had before him not only the original text, but also the lxx; for the current opinion, that the Peshito, as distinguished from the Syro-Hexaplar version, sprang solely from the original text with the assistance of the Targum, is more and more shown to be erroneous. In the Book of Proverbs the relation of the Peshito and Targum is even the reverse; the Targum of the Proverbs, making use of the Peshito, restores the Masoretic text - the points of contact with the lxx showing themselves here and there, are brought about
(Note: Cf. Dathe, De ratione consensus Versionis Syriacae el Chaldaicae Proverbiorum Salomonis (1764), edited by Rosenmüller in his Opuscula. Maybaum, in the Treatise on the Language of the Targum to the Proverbs and its relation to the Syriac, in Merx's Archiv, ii. 66-93, labours in vain to give the priority to that of the Targum: the Targum is written from the Peshito, and here and there approaches the Hebrew text; the language is, with few differences, the Syriac of the original.)
by the Peshito. But that Jerome, in his translation of the Vulgate according to the Hebraea veritas , sometimes follows the lxx in opposition to the original text, is to be explained with Hitzig from the fact that he based his work on an existing Latin translation made from the lxx. Hence it comes that the two distichs added in the lxx to Proverbs 4:27 remain in his work, and that instead of the one distich, Proverbs 15:6, we have two: - In abundanti (after the phrase בּרב instead of בּית of the Masoretic text) justitia virtus maxima est, cogitationes autem impiroum eradicabuntur. Domus ( בּית ) justi plurima fortitudo, et in fructibus impii conturbatio ; for Jerome has adopted the two translations of the lxx, correcting the second according to the original text.
(Note: The Ethiopic translation, also, is in particular points, as well as on the whole, dependent on the lxx, for it divides the Book of Proverbs into proverbs ( παροιμίας ), chap. 1-24, and instructions ( παιδεῖαι ) of Solomon, chap. 25-31. Vid., Dillmann in Ewald's Jahrb. v. 147, 150.)
The fragments of the translations of Aquila, Symmachus, Theodotion, etc., contained in Greek and Syrian sources, have been recently collected, more perfectly than could have been done by Montfaucon, by Fried. Field, in his work Origenis Hexaplorum quae supersunt, etc. (Oxonii, 1867, 4). Of special interest is the more recent translation of the original text, existing only in a MS laid up in the Library of St. Mark at Venice, executed in bold language, rich in rare and newly invented words, by an unknown author, and belonging to an age which has not yet been determined ( Graecus Venetus): cf. d'Ansse de Villoison's nova versio Graeca Proverbiorum, Ecclesiastis, Cantici Canticorum, etc., Argentorati, 1784; and also the Animadversiones thereto of Jo. Ge. Dahler, 1786.