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Proverbs, Book of

Proverbs, Book of [S]

a collection of moral and philosophical maxims of a wide range of subjects presented in a poetic form. This book sets forth the "philosophy of practical life. It is the sign to us that the Bible does not despise common sense and discretion. It impresses upon us in the most forcible manner the value of intelligence and prudence and of a good education. The whole strength of the Hebrew language and of the sacred authority of the book is thrown upon these homely truths. It deals, too, in that refined, discriminating, careful view of the finer shades of human character so often overlooked by theologians, but so necessary to any true estimate of human life" (Stanley's Jewish Church).

As to the origin of this book, "it is probable that Solomon gathered and recast many proverbs which sprang from human experience in preceeding ages and were floating past him on the tide of time, and that he also elaborated many new ones from the material of his own experience. Towards the close of the book, indeed, are preserved some of Solomon's own sayings that seem to have fallen from his lips in later life and been gathered by other hands' (Arnot's Laws from Heaven, etc.)

This book is usually divided into three parts:

  • Consisting of ch. 1-9, which contain an exhibition of wisdom as the highest good.

  • Consisting of ch. 10-24.

  • Containing proverbs of Solomon "which the men of Hezekiah, the king of Judah, collected" (ch. 25-29).

    These are followed by two supplements, (1) "The words of Agur" (ch. 30); and (2) "The words of king Lemuel" (ch. 31).

    Solomon is said to have written three thousand proverbs, and those contained in this book may be a selection from these ( 1 Kings 4:32 ). In the New Testament there are thirty-five direct quotations from this book or allusions to it.

    These dictionary topics are from
    M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition,
    published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain, copy freely.

    [S] indicates this entry was also found in Smith's Bible Dictionary

    Bibliography Information

    Easton, Matthew George. "Entry for Proverbs, Book of". "Easton's Bible Dictionary". .

  • Proverbs, Book of. [E]

    The title of this book in Hebrew is taken from its first word, mashal , which originally meant "a comparison." It is sometimes translated parable, sometimes proverb as here. The superscriptions which are affixed to several portions of the book, in chs. ( Proverbs 1:1 ; 10:1 ; 25:1 ) 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 author 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. Chs. 1-9 form a connected didactic 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. Chs. 10-24 with the title "The Proverbs of Solomon," consist of three parts: ( Proverbs 10:1-22 ; Proverbs 10:16 ) a collection of single proverbs and detached sentences out of the region of moral teaching and worldly prudence; ( Proverbs 22:17-24 ; Proverbs 22:21 ) a more connected didactic poem, with an introduction, ( Proverbs 22:17-22 ) which contains precepts of righteousness and prudence; ( Proverbs 24:23-34 ) 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 chs. 25-29, which, according to the superscription, professes to be collection of Solomons proverbs, consisting of single sentences, which the men of the court of Hezekiah copied out. The first appendix, ch. 30, "The words of Agur the son of Jakeh," is a collection of partly proverbial and partly enigmatical sayings; the second, ch. 31, is divided into two parts, "The words of King Lemuel," vs. 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 the first is that he was 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. 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:-- ( Proverbs 1:16 ) compare Roma 3:10,15 ( Proverbs 3:7 ) compare Roma 12:16 ( Proverbs 3:11 Proverbs 3:12 ) compare Hebr 12:5,6, see also Reve 3:19 ( Proverbs 3:34 ) compare Jame 4:6 ( Proverbs 10:12 ) compare 1Pet 4:8 ( Proverbs 11:31 ) compare 1Pet 4:18 ( Proverbs 17:13 ) compare Roma 12:17; 1The 5:15; 1Pet 3:9 ( Proverbs 17:27 ) compare Jame 1:19 ( Proverbs 20:9 ) compare 1Joh 1:8 ( Proverbs 20:20 ) compare Matt 15:4; Mark 7:10 ( Proverbs 22:8 ) (LXX.), compare 2Cor 9:7 ( Proverbs 25:21 Proverbs 25:22 ) compare, Roma 12:20 ( Proverbs 26:11 ) compare, 2Pet 2:22 ( Proverbs 27:1 ) compare, Jame 4:13,14
    [E] indicates this entry was also found in Easton's Bible Dictionary

    Bibliography Information

    Smith, William, Dr. "Entry for 'Proverbs, Book of'". "Smith's Bible Dictionary". . 1901.