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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Proverbs 8

 

 

Verses 1-36

Proverbs 8. Wisdom Speaks in her own Person.—This chapter forms at once the nucleus and the climax of this section of the book. The series of addresses on practical wisdom is fitly closed by a profounder presentation of wisdom as the moving principle in the ways of God. It reinforces the practical maxims of Proverbs 8:1-7 with the fundamental principle that the wise man is in harmony with God. Its date probably fixes the date of the whole section (see Introduction, and for a fuller discussion especially Cheyne, Job and Solomon, pp. 156f.). The relation of the conception of Wisdom personified to the Stoic Logos and to Greek philosophy in general cannot be discussed here. (See Wisdom Literature in HDB, and especially the excellent introduction by Holmes to the Book of Wisdom in Charles' Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha.) The two main lines of development of this conception in Heb. thought are: (a) the growth of the conception of the Angel of Yahweh, developing into the later Jewish theologoumenon of Metatron, the mediator; (b) the tendency to personify the Word of Yahweh active in creation and in the moral government of the world, developing into the quasi-personal Memra of the Targums, and the Philonian Logos.

Proverbs 8:1-21. The Place of Wisdom in the Government of the World.

Proverbs 8:1-3. Proem. Wisdom is not secluded in the chamber of the sage, but cries aloud in the crowded concourse of the mart and highway.

Proverbs 8:4 f. The class of persons addressed—those who are in need of wisdom, the simple and the fools.

Proverbs 8:6-9. The nature of the instruction offered. Its essential characteristic is truth and righteousness, God's own character as seen in His ways (cf. Deuteronomy 32:4). There is nothing twisted or crooked in it.

Proverbs 8:6. excellent things: i.e. princely things. The word is unusual, and found only here in this sense.

Proverbs 8:10 f. Preciousness of the instruction. In Proverbs 8:11 the personification breaks down for a moment, and the author speaks of wisdom in the third person, quoting Proverbs 3:15.

Proverbs 8:12-16. The right government of the world is due to Wisdom.

Proverbs 8:12. have . . . dwelling: the Heb. is strange; we should perhaps read "create" or "possess" (Targ., Syr.).

Proverbs 8:17-21. The rewards of those who receive the instruction of Wisdom. Those who seek Wisdom not only find her, but gain with her material prosperity and honour, although she is to be prized for her own sake and not for her rewards.

Proverbs 8:18. durable riches: lit. "ancient riches" (mg.). The same idea with the same Heb. word occurs in Isaiah 23:18 (RVm "stately").—The LXX has a curious and interesting addition to Proverbs 8:21 : "If I have declared to you the things of the present, I will bear in mind to recount the things of the past." It marks the separation of the two sections of the chapter, and is apparently an exegetical gloss, intended to contrast the present government of the world by Wisdom with its creation in the past.

Proverbs 8:22-31. The Place of Wisdom in the Creation and Ordering of the Universe.—Wisdom is not conceived as eternally coexistent with God, but as formed before Creation to be the instrument of creation. Cf. the Rabbinical doctrine that the Law was created before the world, and the Philonian conception of the Logos as first immanent, and then for creation and in the act of creation emanating from God in a quasi-personal form of existence. In Ecclus. the conception of Wisdom found here is identified with the Torah. The whole passage should be compared with Job 28, For the Christian application to Christ see Colossians 1:15*.

Proverbs 8:22 f. Wisdom the first of God's works.

Proverbs 8:22 a. Render "the Lord formed me as the first (or chief) of His ways."

Proverbs 8:24-26. Wisdom formed before the world. As in all the OT cosmologies the primeval state of the world is conceived of as a watery chaos. See Cosmogony in HDB.

Proverbs 8:25. settled: lit. "sunk," according to the Semitic idea that the mountains had their bases in the subterranean ocean (cf. Job 26:11*, Psalms 18:7, Jonah 2:6.)

Proverbs 8:26. The Heb. is almost unintelligible and probably corrupt. No satisfactory emendation has been offered.

Proverbs 8:27-29. Wisdom present at the Creation. The Bab. conception of the heavenly ocean above separated from the ocean below by a solid vault is reflected here. In the Bab. mythology the vault is represented by the divided body of the Chaos dragon Tiamat, slain by Marduk (Genesis 1:6 f.*).

Proverbs 8:27. circle: rather "vault" (cf. Job 22:14).

Proverbs 8:29. For the idea of a boundary fixed for the ocean by God cf. Genesis 1:9 f.; Job 26:10; Job 38:8-11; Psalms 104:6-9; Jeremiah 5:22.

Proverbs 8:30 f. Wisdom the companion of God.

Proverbs 8:30. a master workman: requires a slight alteration of MT so also AV, "one brought up." AV seems to suit the context better, although the LXX and the Vulg. seem to support RV. For the corresponding term in the active sense cf. Numbers 11:12. In Wisdom of Solomon 7:22 we find Wisdom described as "the artificer of all things" (see Holmes' note).—RVm "had delight continually" suits the context better, and is a justifiable rendering.—rejoicing: better "sporting" (mg.).

Proverbs 8:32-36. Closing exhortation of Wisdom to the sons of men.

Proverbs 8:36. Render "he that misseth me (mg.) doth violence to himself." "To sin" in Heb. as in Gr. has the force of "to miss the mark." Life's aim is awry. To miss intentionally that which is the spring of life is moral suicide.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Proverbs 8:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/proverbs-8.html. 1919.

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