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Bible Encyclopedias

The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia

Folly And Fool

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According to the Jewish conception, folly is the antithesis of morality and piety (Proverbs 13:19 Job 28:28 ), as well as of wisdom and prudence (Proverbs 13:16,20 ) and the fool is an offender against religion and ethics, and a hater of knowledge (Proverbs 1:7,22 ). In fact, the fool is the subject of such frequent rebuke in the Wisdom literature chiefly because his folly leads to an untimely end (Proverbs 10:14 Ecclesiastes 7:17 ), brings unhappiness to others (Proverbs 10:1 , 17:25 ), creates evil habits (Proverbs 10:23 ) and bad traits (Proverbs 15:5 , 17:10 ), and causes sin (Psalm 69:6 Proverbs 24:9 Jeremiah 5:21 ) and a misconception of divine providence (Psalm 92:7,8 ). Folly promotes insolence (Proverbs 14:16 ), conceit (Proverbs 12:15 ), irreverence (Proverbs 15:20 ), contentiousness (Proverbs 18:6 ), anger (Proverbs 27:3 ), extravagance (Proverbs 21:20 ), and sensuality (Proverbs 10:23 ).

To prevent folly and to correct it, the use of the rod was recommended (Proverbs 22:15 , 26:3 ). The Rabbis also emphasized the ethical side of folly. R. Joshua sees danger for society when piety is linked to folly (Soṭ ah 3:4), and Resh Laḳ ish maintains that "a man sins only when the spirit of folly enters into him" (Soṭ ah 3a compare Maimonides, "Moreh," 3:11). In rabbinical parables reference is frequently made to the fool. R. Johanan b. Zakkai likens those who are unprepared for death to fools who are not ready for the banquet when suddenly summoned by the king (Shab. 153a compare Matthew 25:1-14 ).

K. J. Sto.

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Bibliography Information
Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Folly And Fool'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. 1901.

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