Wisdom in Proverbs

Wisdom is truly better than gold, so why don’t we want it as much?

If there is one concept which is associated with the book of Proverbs, it is wisdom. In fact Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon fall into a genre of the Bible known as the Wisdom literature. Other ancient civilizations such as Egypt also had “wisdom literature”, which generally included sayings from teachers considered wise in their cultures. Hebrew wisdom literature is contrasted with Greek wisdom literature in that the focus of the Greeks was a stronger family or society while the focus of the Hebrews was to obey God.

Our first task is to define wisdom. Dictionary.com defines wisdom as “knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action; sagacity, discernment, or insight.” The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology describes wisdom using Biblical terms. In the Old Testament wisdom (חָכְמָה chokmah) connotes human skills (building – Exodus 28:3, warfare – Isaiah 10:3, or ruling – Deuteronomy 34:9) or human insight (Ecclesiastes 1:13). As such, the misuse of such wisdom is condemned (2 Samuel 20:22, Isaiah 29:14).

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Suffering and the Book of Job

We all suffer, and many of us suffer most of the time. How can we live despite the pain?

The Background of the Book of Job

Uz was the first born of Nahor, brother of Abram (Genesis 22:20-21). Since Terah, the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran, lived near Ur of the Chaldeans, it is likely that Uz did as well. Job was probably a child of Uz, living in the lands of his father. Alternatively, the “Land of Uz” could have been near ancient Edom in modern day Jordan. Notably, Genesis 31:53 refers to God as “the God of Abraham and the God of Nahor.” Since Job was not a child of Abraham he was by definition a Gentile, and the Book of Job is therefore the only Gentile book in the Old Testament. Given the timing it is likely that Job was a contemporary of Jacob, Abraham’s grandson.

Some argue that Job is not history but rather a fable. Bible writers treat Job as history (Ezekiel 14:14, James 5:11) and there is no reason for modern readers to behave differently. Job may have been written by Job in his later years. If so, it is the only Old Testament book written by a Gentile.

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