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Proverbs - Introduction


III. DIVISIONS OF THE BOOK.--Such a work is, of course, not susceptible of any logical analysis. There are, however, some well-defined marks of division, so that very generally the book is divided into five or six parts.

1. The first contains nine chapters, in which are discussed and enforced by illustration, admonition, and encouragement the principles and blessings of wisdom, and the pernicious schemes and practices of sinful persons. These chapters are introductory. With few specimens of the proper proverb, they are distinguished by its conciseness and terseness. The sentences follow very strictly the form of parallelism, and generally of the synonymous species, only forty of the synthetic and four ( Proverbs 3:32-35 ornate, the figures bolder and fuller, and the illustrations more striking and extended.

2. The antithetic and synthetic parallelism to the exclusion of the synonymous distinguish Proverbs 10:1-22:16 unconnected, each containing a complete sense in itself.

3. Proverbs 22:16-24:34 addressed to a pupil, and generally each topic occupies two or more verses.

4. Proverbs 25:1-29:27 portion, for the reason given above as to its origin. The style is very much mixed; of the peculiarities, compare parts two and three.

5. Proverbs 30:1-33 a specimen of the kind of proverb which has been described as "dark sayings" or "riddles."

6. To a few pregnant but concise admonitions, suitable for a king, is added a most inimitable portraiture of female character. In both parts five and six the distinctive peculiarity of the original proverbial style gives place to the modifications already mentioned as marking a later composition, though both retain the concise and nervous method of stating truth, equally valuable for its deep impression and permanent retention by the memory.

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