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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature


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(prop. חָכְמָה , chokmah, σοφία ), in a general sense, is a comprehensive knowledge of things in their proper nature and relations, together with the power of combining them in the most useful manner. Among the Hebrews, the term "wisdom" comprehended a wide circle of virtues and mental endowments (Exodus 28:3; Exodus 31:6; 1 Kings 3:28; 1 Kings 4:29-34), and its precise import in the Scriptures can only be ascertained by a close attention to the context. (See FOOL).

1. It is used to express the understanding or knowledge of things, both humana and divine, chiefly in a practical and moral aspect, especially in the Psalms, Proverbs, and the book of Job. It was this wisdom which Solomon entreated and received of God, especially in a governmental sense.

2. It is put for ingenuity, skill, dexterity, as in the case of the artificers Bezaleel and Aholiab (Exodus 28:3; Exodus 31, 3).

3. Wisdom is used for subtlety, craft, stratagem, whether good or evil. Pharaoh dealt wisely with the Israelites (Exodus 1, 10). Jonadab was very wise, i.e. subtle and crafty (2 Samuel 13:3). In Proverbs (Proverbs 14, 8) it is said, "The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way."

4. It stands for doctrine, learning, experience, sagacity (Job 12:2; Job 12:12; Job 38:37; Psalms 105:22).

5. It is put sometimes for the skill or arts of magicians, wizards, fortune tellers, etc. (Genesis 41:8; Exodus 7:11; Ecclesiastes 9:17; Jeremiah 1, 35).

6. The wisdom or learning and philosophy current among the Greeks and Romans in the apostolic age, which stood in contrast with the simplicity of the Gospel, and tended to draw away the minds of men from divine truth, is called "fleshly; wisdom"(2 Corinthians 1:12), "wisdom of this world"(1 Corinthians 1:20; 1 Corinthians 3:19), and "wisdom of men" (1 Corinthians 2:5).

7. In respect to divine things, wisdom, i.e. knowledge, insight, deep understanding, is represented everywhere as a divine gift, including the idea of practical application, and is thus distinguished from theoretical knowledge (Acts 6:10; 1 Corinthians 12:8; Ephesians 1:17; Colossians 1:9; 2 Timothy 3:15; James 1:5; James 3:13; James 3:15; James 3:17).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Wisdom'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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