Thursday, July 2, 2020

Notes On The Book Of Proverbs

Proverbs, Book of. The superscriptions which are affixed to several portions of the book, in i. 1, X. 1, xxv. 1, attribute the authorship of those portions to Solomon, the son of David, king of Israel. With the exception of the last two chapters, which are distinctly assigned to other authors, it is probable that the statement of the superscriptions is in the main correct, and that the majority of the proverbs contained in the book were uttered or collected by Solomon. Speaking roughly, the book consists of three main divisions, with two appendices. 1. Chaps. i.-ix. form a connected didactic poem, in which Wisdom is praised and the youth exhorted to devote himself to her. This portion is preceded by an introduction and title describing the character and general aim of the book. 2. Chaps. X.-xxiv., with the title, "the Proverbs of Solomon," consist of three parts:-X. l-xxii. 16, a collection of single proverbs, and detached sentences out of the region of moral teaching and worldly prudence; xxii. 17-xxiv. 21, a more connected didactic poem, with an introduction, xxii. 1722, which contains precepts of righteousness and prudence; xxiv. 23-34, with the inscription, these also belong to the wise," a collection of unconnected maxims, which serve as an appendix to the preceding. Then follows the third division, XXV.-xxix., which, according to the superscription, professes to be a collection of Solomon's proverbs, consisting of single sentences, which the men of the court of Hezekiah copied out. The first appendix, ch. XXX., "the words of Agur, the son of Jakeh," is a collection of partly proverbial and partly enigmatical sayings; the second, ch. xxxi., is divided into two parts, the words of King Lemuel" (1-6). and an alphabetical acrostic in praise of a virtuous woman, which occupies the rest of the chapter. Who was Agur, and who was Jakeh, are questions which have been often asked, and never satisfactorily answered. All that can be said of him is that he is an unknown Hebrew sage, the son of an equally unknown Jakeh, and that he lived after the time of Hezekiah. Lemuel, like Agur, is unknown. It is even uncertain whether he is to be regarded as a real personage, or whether the name is merely symbolical. If the present text be retained, it is difficult to see what other conclusion can be arrived at If Lemuel were a real personage, he must have been a foreign neighbor-king or the chief of a nomad tribe; and in this case the proverbs attributed to him must have come to the Hebrews from a foreign source, which is highly improbable, and contrary to all we know of the people. The Proverbs are frequently quoted or alluded to in the New Testament, and the canonicity of the book thereby confirmed. The following is a list of the principal passages:

                                       Compare
          Prov. i. 16                    ''        Rom. iii. 10, 15.
                 iii. 7                      "        Rom. xii. 16.
                 iii. 11, 12              "        Heb. xii. 5, 6; see also Rev. iii. 19.
                 iii. 34                    "        James iv. 6.
                   x. 12                   "        1 Pet. iv. 8.
                  xi. 32                   "        1 Pet. iv. 18.
               xvii. 13                   "        Rom. xii. 17; 1 Thess. v. 15; 1 Pet. iii. 9.
               xvii. 27                   "        James i. 19.
                 xx. 9                     "        1 John i: 8.
                 xx. 20                   "        Matt. xv. 4; Mark xii. 10.
               xxii. 8 (LXX.)        "        2 Cor. ix. 7.
               xxv. 21, 22             "        Rom. xxi. 20.
               xxvi. 11                  "        2 Pet. ii. 22
              xxvii. 1                    "        James iv. 13, 14.

William Smith, A Dictionary Of the Bible Comprising Its Antiquities, Biography, Geography, and Natural History, p. 773-774

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