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Proverbs 1:1

Context
Introduction to the Book

1:1 The Proverbs 1  of 2  Solomon 3  son of David, 4  king of Israel: 5 

1 tn The Hebrew noun translated “proverb” is derived from the root מָשַׁל (mashal) which means “likeness.” The related Niphal verb means “to be like, be comparable with,” e.g., “he is like [נִמְשַׁל, nimshal] the beasts that perish” (Ps 49:12). The noun can mean an object lesson based on or using a comparison or analogy. It may be a short pithy statement (Ezek 16:44), object lesson drawn from experience (Ps 78:2-6), saying or by-word (Deut 28:37) or an oracle of future blessing (Ezek 21:1-5). Here it means an object lesson setting out courses of action. It helps one choose the course of action to follow or avoid.

2 tn The name שְׁלֹמֹה (shÿlomoh, “of Solomon”) is a genitive of authorship or source. While Solomon wrote a majority of the proverbial sayings in the book, some proverbial sayings were written by others (e.g., 22:17-24:34; 30:1-33; 31:1-9) and perhaps collected by Solomon. The name also forms a phonetic wordplay on the similarly sounding word מִשְׁלֵי (mishley, “proverbs”), as if to say the name is almost synonymous with proverbs.

3 sn The phrase “The Proverbs of Solomon” is a title for the entire book. The title does not imply that Solomon authored all the proverbs in this collection; some sections are collections from different authors: the sayings of the wise (22:17-24:22), more sayings of the wise (24:23-34), the words of Agur (Prov 30:1-33) and Lemuel (Prov 31:1-9). The title does not imply that the book was in its final canonical form in the days of Solomon; the men of Hezekiah added a collection of Solomonic proverbs to the existing form of the book (25:1-29:27). The original collection of Solomonic proverbs appears to be the collection of short pithy sayings in 10:1-22:16, and the title might have originally introduced only these. There is question whether chapters 1-9 were part of the original form of the book in the days of Solomon because they do not fit under the title; they are not “proverbs” per se (sentence sayings) but introductory admonitions (longer wisdom speeches). Chapters 1-9 could have been written by Solomon and perhaps added later by someone else. Or they could have been written by someone else and added later in the days of Hezekiah.

4 tn The designation “son of David” is in apposition to the name Solomon, as are the following nouns, further explaining the name.

5 tn The phrase “the king of Israel” is in apposition to the name Solomon.



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