Solomon wrote his Proverbs for the people of Israel over whom he ruled. We saw in the beginning that his purpose was for anyone who reads them to grow in wisdom.
But, we no sooner get out of the gate than we are confronted with a controversial statement:
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.”
You claim that the collection of proverbs “compiled by the men of Hezekiah” has 130 sayings in it because this is the value of Hezekiah’s name in Hebrew. But his name is actually spelled different ways in the Bible, so the value could be 136, 140, or 146 instead. Besides, there are 138 verses in this section of Proverbs, or 137 if you don’t count the heading; neither of those match any possible value for Hezekiah’s name.
Hebrew, like several other languages, uses letters for numbers, so every word has a total numerical value that can be employed for symbolic purposes. The argument I’ve made in the introduction to Proverbs in The Books of the Bible and in the study guide to Proverbs/Ecclesiastes/James is that the compilers of this collection put exactly 130 sayings in it as a way of honoring their royal patron.
It is true that the name…
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|The Book of Proverbs|
How blessed is the man who finds wisdom,
And the man who gains understanding.
|Purpose of Proverbs
|Proverbs of Solomon (Hezekiah)
|Proverbs Copied by Hezekiah’s Men||Proverbs
|Proverbs of Lemuel||Capable
KEY WORDS (NAS95) (Mouseover & Read popup, click for more discussion): Wisdom (48x/47v), Righteous(ness)(90x/89v), Guidance (3x), Wise (62x/58v), Fear of the LORD (14x), My son (23x), Knowledge (40x/39v), Tongue (18x), Instruction (16x), Discipline (17x), Commandment/command (11x), Understand(ing) (56x/55v), Foolish (12x/11v), Fool(s) (58x), Tongue (18x), Evil (58x/55v), Wicked (83x/82v), Life (46x), But (246x/242v).
COMMENT ON KEY WORD “BUT”:
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In my last post on the topic of Proverbs and the issue of spanking, I concluded that regardless of your interpretation of the “rod” verses, spanking is not a salvation issue. Proverbs is not a book of law or of absolute promises, but is rather a book of truisms and wise sayings. Proverbs is also full of many different literary tactics – including symbolism, hyperbole, and poetry – that are intended to impart its wisdom to readers.
When interpreting a text, it is of extreme importance to understand the cultural context. This is especially important if a text is more than a few hundred years old and if a text was originally written in a different language.
Languages change very quickly and English has not been an exception. The English that was commonly used in Chaucer’s time (1300s) was vastly different than the English used in Shakespeare’s time (1500s) which…
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One of the keys to interpreting Scripture accurately is to recognize that the Bible contains a diversity of forms of writing commonly known as genres. Each of these genres requires that we make slight but essential adjustments in our approach to interpretation. As Roy Zuck writes:
When we read a historical novel, we do not expect all the details to be accurate historically. But when we read a physics textbook or a Latin grammar, we approach it differently from a novel. The way we read a board report differs from the way we read a cartoon. We do not read a recipe and a will the same way. Since the Bible contains various kinds of literature, the unique characteristics of each form of literature need to be taken into consideration…. The Bible includes narratives, poetry, prophecy, letters, proverbs, drama, law, wisdom literature, apocalyptic visions, parables, and discourses. If we are…
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