Book of Proverbs  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The Book of Proverbs is a book of the Old Testament of Bible, and of the Tanakh, being a collection or moral maxims.

Proverbs as wisdom literature

The book of Proverbs is referred to as wisdom literature along with several others: the book of Job, Ecclesiastes, the Song of Solomon, and certain Psalms, known as wisdom psalms. Among the deuterocanonical books, the Wisdom of Sirach and the Wisdom of Solomon are wisdom literature.

Throughout Proverbs, wisdom (or the wise person) is compared and contrasted with foolishness (or the fool). 'Fool' in Proverbs indicates one who is lacking in wisdom and uninterested in instruction, not one who is merely silly or playful (though see the words of Agur for a "fool" who has wisdom, and could be seen as playful). Wisdom is held up as something worth effort to attain and the reader is told that it starts with the person of YHWH: "The fear of YHWH is the beginning of wisdom."

In addition, throughout the instructions found in the various collections in Proverbs, wisdom is said in the discourse to come mostly from father to son (or mother to son in certain passages, for example, Lemuel, and parts of 1-9). This wisdom literature is concerned with the realities of human experience, from the mundane to the sublime, and with the relationship between that experience and the divine. Not only that, we can also find many wisdoms of woman over and over, especially we find reference to Wisdom as a female figure who speaks to the young man and invites him into her house. When we talk about this Woman Wisdom, it speaks frequently in the first person and identifies herself not just as the divine companion, but also as the source of order in society and success in life. Over and over in the book of Proverbs, it addressed a warning to the young man to avoid sexual relationships with an adultress.

In Hudibras

In Samuel Butler's satirical poem Hudibras (Part II, Canto I, line 833- ) a lady urges the knight to submit to a whipping as proof of his devotion to her. This is the origin of the maxim "Spare the rod and spoil the child", not the Bible as is often thought, although the maxim is clearly based on Proverbs 13:24 ("He that spareth his rod hateth his son.")

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Book of Proverbs" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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