Encyclopaedia Biblica/Propitiation-Psalm

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(IAACMOC, 1 Jn. 2:2, 4:10; THRION, Rom. 3:25). See SACRIFICE, RIGHTEOUSNESS, ii, also MERCY SEAT, 6f.


1. Non-Israelite worshippers of Yahwe in the OT.[edit]

It has appeared elsewhere (see STRANGER AND SOJOURNER, where the various Hebrew and Greek terms will be found) that ger in the Priestly code approximates to its Judaistic use as proselyte (cp. also 2 Ch. 30:25). Indeed the vir'e yahwe (m,TNT, LXX ol <f>o[3ovfj.evoi rbt> Kijfuov}, who appear in Ps. 115:9-11, 118:2-4, 135:19-20, as a third class of worshippers of Yahwe, distinct from the house of Israel and the house of Aaron, are probably proselytes - in Acts 13:16, 'men of Israel, and ye that fear God' ("Avdpes Icrpar/Xen-cu KCU oi tpofiovfj.ei oi rbv Oebv] ; the latter class are clearly such, and so also the 'fearers' [of the Lord] (<re/36 / aej ot [sebomenoi] [rbv Kvpiov [ton kyrion]]) in the Song of the Three Holy Children, Dan. 3:33, 3:90. With the exception, however, of these late, casual, and vague references, proselytes, in the full religious sense of NT times, do not appear in the OT, and the EV of the OT is entirely justified in always abstaining from the use of 'proselyte' as a translation for ger. The way in which the ancient Israelite gerim and the OT teaching concerning them developed in the direction of the Jewish proselytes and Judaistic ideas about them, may be summarised as follows :-

Proselyte (irpcxrrjAvTOs) is the term most frequently adopted by the Septuagint, especially in legal passages, to represent the Hebrew ger. The ger, or more fully ger wetoshab, is not any stranger, but a stranger dwelling in a Hebrew community and enjoying a certain measure of protection. In old time at least the position of such a stranger was no doubt very insecure, for he had no strong kinsmen to take his part, and so, like the widow and the orphan, with whom many passages of the OT associate him, he was liable to oppression. In the law as well as by the prophets he is commended to the humane regard of his neighbours ; but it would have been quite foreign to antique ideas to grant him equal rights (see Lev. 25:45, Deut. 23:20). Like the Arabic jar, therefore (whose name is at bottom the same), he must have generally sought to attach himself as a client to some individual or community able to protect him, and so we must understand the metaphor in passages like Ps. 15:1, 39:12.

In the old Hebrew kingdom the word ger had a civil not a religious significance, and it would almost seem that a poor Israelite without inheritance might sink to the position of ger, which indeed is scarcely distinguishable from that of the Levite in Judg. 17:8, who went forth to sojourn (gur) where he might find a place. The 'exile' and the 'restoration' made a change in this as in all other aspects of Hebrew society. On the one hand Ezek. 47:22 and Is. 14:1 contemplate that the restored nation shall be recruited by strangers who are received on equal terms ; but, since the Jews returned not as an independent nation but as a distinct religious community, this implies especially that the sons of the stranger, by joining Israel, observing the Sabbath, and holding fast to Yahwe s covenant, may gain admission to all the privileges of the temple and its worship. So it is put in Is. 56:6-7, in marked contrast to the restrictions laid down in Deut. 23:37-38. That the views of the prophets had practical issue cannot be doubted ; even the foreign NETHINIM (q.v. ) in the second temple were rapidly transformed not merely into good Israelites but into Levites. The condition of admission to the full privileges of an Israelite, in particular to the passover, is, according to the Priestly Code (Ex. 12:48, Nu. 9:14), circumcision.

The free admission of foreigners to the Jewish church is a mark of the universalistic tendency which, in spite of all the narrownesses of Judaism under the law, accompanied the break-up of the old national system. On the other hand, it presents a different line of transition from the purely civil to the religious meaning of ger. It demands that certain rules shall be enforced not only on Israelites proper but also on strangers sojourning in their land. They are not to eat blood (17:10), commit incest (18:26), sacrifice to Moloch (20:2), or blaspheme Yahwe (24:16); and for murder and other crimes they are to be answerable to the Hebrew authorities according to Hebrew law (24:22).

2. Terms in NT, etc.[edit]

The term n-pocnjAi/Toi [proselytos], so frequent in LXX in the sense already explained, occurs only four times in the NT. Proselytes are present at Pentecost (Acts 2:10); one of the 'deacons' was a proselyte (6:5) ; Mt. 23:15 refers to the zeal of the Pharisees in making them; and in Acts 13:43 (Antioch) we have T<av treflotieviav irpooTjAvTwi - perhaps a conflate reading. But the repeatedly recurring <j>oj3ovjuei<oi -rov Oeov [phoboumenoi ton theon] (Acts 10, Cornelius; 13:16, 13:26, speech at Antioch in Pisidia) and <re/3dju.f oi TOV #eoi> [sebomenoi ton theon] (13:50, women at Antioch ; 16:14, Lydia ; 17:4, Thessalonica ; 17:17, Athens ; 18:7, Justus) are probably synonymous with TrpooTJAvrot [proselytoi] (see below, 5), as are e7r>)Avs [epelus], de Execr. 6, etc., and emjAvTijs [epelytes], de Monarch. 7, etc., with Philo.

1 [The theory of the foreign origin of the Nethinim, however, may be called in question. In PSALMS (BOOK), 27, it is maintained that 'Nelhinim' is a distortion of 'Ethanim' - i.e., the b'ne Ethan, or Ethanites, corresponding to the bn'e Asaph or Asaphites.]

3. Methods and causes of proselytising.[edit]

Conversions to Judaism were not always spontaneous and disinterested. The Talmud speaks of 'lion' (cp 2 K. 17:25) and 'Esther' (cp Esth. 8:17) proselytes who became such through fear or for the sake of profit, and of other classes of interested converts (Hull. 3b, Yeb. 24b ap. Jastrow). In Alexandria, for instance, the Jews were included among the privileged classes, and men would be attracted to Judaism by the prospect of an advantageous political status. Moreover, the propaganda of the Maccabaean princes was somewhat Mohammedan in its character. The zeal of Simon for the law (1 Macc. 13:48, 14:14, 14:35) must have induced many Gentiles to profess Judaism. John Hyrcanus (Jos. Ant. 13:9:1) compelled the Idumaeans, Aristobulus (13:11:3) the Ituraeans, and Alexander Jannaeus (13:15:4) many cities, etc., especially in Eastern Palestine, to accept Judaism. The inhabitants of Pella refused, and their city was destroyed. When kings like Izates (Ant. 20:2) and great nobles became proselytes, many of their subjects and dependents would naturally follow suit.

Many political and social circumstances aided proselytising, just as, later, they promoted the spread of Christianity. The Jews were dispersed throughout all the Mediterranean lands, and involved in many commercial dealings with Gentile neighbours. Thus there were countless opportunities for the missionary spirit referred to in Mt. 23:15, and, on the other hand, the Gentile inquirer could always learn what Judaism had to teach him. The Septuagint was an instrument of the enthusiasm of the one, and an answer to the questions of the other. The alliances and wars of the Maccabees and the Herods with Gentile states provided occasions of proselytising. The Hellenising and Roman ising proclivities of the Jewish parties and schools represented by the Herods, Philo, and Josephus, rendered them anxious to set Judaism before their foreign patrons in the most favourable light.

Moreover, the prevalent scepticism as to the ancient national religions left a void which many were anxious to fill by faith in some new religion, and Judaism met this craving. Doubtless some conversions were the result of superstition - we read of proselytes converted by the advice of a dreamer or interpreter of dreams, - but others were due to the response of a religious nature to religious teaching. Probably, to some extent the work of Paul and other apostles illustrates the Jewish method of proselytising. Gentiles, too, might often attend a synagogue from curiosity, or as inquirers, and thus become converted. Perhaps, however, the propaganda was mainly due to teaching addressed to families or individuals, as when the Jewish merchant Ananias converted the mother of Izates. Proselytes would naturally attempt to convert their relations and friends.

4. Numbers of proselytes.[edit]

The treatment of the subject in the Priestly Code is academical, and is rather concerned with the purity of the land and the temple, than with the conversion of Gentiles to Judaism. The other post-exilic literature, within and without the canon, is almost entirely silent about proselytes. This fact, coupled with the condition of the Jews as a subject community, suggests that proselytes were comparatively rare during the Persian period. The world -wide dispersion of the Jews during the Greek period was evidently followed by much proselytising, and we know that Jewish practices were very widely imitated. Josephus (c. Ap. 2:39) tells us, 'There is not a single town, Greek, Barbarian, or any other, nor a single nation, to which the observance of the Sabbath as it is found among ourselves has not penetrated ; whilst fasting and the burning of lights and many of our laws as to meats are also observed'. This statement is substantially confirmed by many other references to Judaising practices. Such statements do not imply that those who imitated Jewish habits became proselytes ; but, doubtless, partial imitation was often a stepping-stone to formal conversion.

The proselytising zeal of the Jews is spoken of in Mt. 23:15, and by many Greek and Latin writers. Up to the time of Hadrian it was facilitated by the favour generally extended to the Jews by the Roman emperors ; and not only on Semitic soil, as at Damascus, where, Josephus (BJ 2:20:2) tells us, most of the women were proselytes, but also throughout the Roman world, many converts were made, especially among women. The most noted conversion was that of the royal house of Adiabene (Jos. Ant. 20:2), of which the splendid tomb of Queen Helena, a little way outside of Jerusalem, still remains a monument.

The preponderance of women was due to the deterring effect upon men of the necessity of being circumcised.

The first large bodies of proselytes of whom we read are the forced converts of the Maccabaean princes. Then the clause 'Jews and proselytes' in Acts 2:10 seems to apply to the whole of v. 9-10, and to imply that proselytes would usually be found where there was a Jewish community. In NT proselytes are referred to at Jerusalem, Caesarea, Antioch in Syria, Antioch in Pisidia, Philippi, Thessalonica, Athens, Corinth (see 2). Josephus (Ap. 2:10) tells us : 'Many Greeks have been converted to our laws ; and some have remained true ; but there are some who have fallen away from want of steadfastness'. 1

The proselytes must everywhere, as at Corinth (Acts 18:7), have facilitated the access of Christian missionaries to the Gentiles. Christianity had nearly all the attractions which Judaism possessed, and added others of its own. Moreover, the Hellenising and other liberal sections of the Jewish communities seem to have been for the most part absorbed in the Christian Church, leaving the remnant narrower and more exclusive than it was before. Hence the zeal for proselytising declined, and proselytes were a less important feature of later Judaism.

5. Classes, obligations, and status of proselytes[edit]

Till recently, it was usually said that there were two classes of proselytes : (a) (pnsrr nj) gere has-tsedek, proselytes of righteousness, who were circumcised, and observed the law generally ; and (b) ;*> CW? TJ) #****-* gere hash-sh'ar, proselytes of the gate, who became worshippers of the one God, and observed the seven so-called Noachic precepts, against idolatry, profanity, incest, murder, dishonesty, eating blood or things strangled, and allowing a murderer to live. The reality of this classification, however, was challenged and disproved in the eighteenth century - e.g., by Lardner (see 'Proselytes' in Kitto, DB). Schurer (GJV, 2:568 n. , (3) 3:127 n. , ET 2:2:317) says : 'Throughout the whole of the literature with which I am acquainted I have not been able to discover more than one solitary instance of it [i.e. , the expression -\yo -n [GR SHAR]], namely R. Bechai (belonging to the thirteenth century) in his Kad ha-Kemach as quoted in Buxtorf's Lex. col. 410. Proselytes of the gate may therefore be dismissed from the biblical aspect of the subject.

The Mishna distinguishes between ger (Gemara p7s 7]), a proselyte, and ger toshab, a resident alien, the OT ger. The (re/36/uei oi [sebomenoi] of the NT have been identified not only with the mythical proselytes of the gate, but also with the ger toshab. But this latter identification is unhesitatingly rejected by Schurer and also by Bertholet, who (334) quotes from Maimonides a statement that no ger toshab was received into Israel after the captivity of the Eastern tribes.

Schurer, however (ut sup., ET, 311+), distinguishes two classes of proselytes :

  • (a) <f>o(iovfj.fvoi rbv 6e6v [phaboumenoi ton theon] or fffj3ofj.voi rbv 6e6v [sebomenoi ton theon], God-fearing Gentiles who adopted the Jewish (i.e. , the monotheistic and imageless) mode of worship, and attended the Jewish synagogues, but, in the observance of the ceremonial law, restricted themselves to certain leading points, and so were regarded as outside the fellowship of the Jewish communities ; and
  • (b) irpoffr)\VTOi [proselytoi], 'who, through circumcision and the observance of the law, became completely incorporated with the Jewish people'.

Schurer cites the case of Izates of Adiabene. l A Jew named Ananias represented to him that he could worship God without being circumcised ; but another Jew named Eleazar, who claimed to be specially orthodox (iravv irtpi rd Trdrpta doKwv d^ijSrjs flvai), insisted on Izates being circumcised, and the king obeyed him (Jos. Ant. 20:2). History, of course, shows that there were not only two, but many grades of sympathy with, imitation of, and conversion to Judaism ; but Schurer's only example suggests that orthodox Jews only recognised one class of real proselytes, and that TrpocnjXi Tot [proselytoi], tpopovfievoi rbv 6f6v [phaboumenoi ton theon], and aefto^tvoi TOV 0e6v [sebomenoi ton theon] are synonymous. Bertholet (328+) comes to this conclusion, mainly on the ground that Philo and Josephus only recognise a single class of proselytes, that in Acts neither irpoa-ri\vroL [proselytoi] and <f>o^ovfj.tvot [phaboumenoi] nor TTpoo-TjXi rot [proselytoi] and fftftofjifvoi [sebomenoi] occur together to denote separate classes ; and Paul, in his polemic against the Judaisers, always takes it for granted that circumcision is indispensable to converts to Judaism.

One condition, therefore, of becoming a proselyte, was that required by the Priestly Code, circumcision - to which the later Jewish usage adds lustration by immersion in water (tebilah, baptism) and the presentation of a sacrifice (korban).1 The immersion, about which there has been a good deal of controversy, some maintaining that it came into use later than Christian baptism, was really a necessary act for one who had been previously unclean, and may be held to be involved in the general Pentateuchal law of ceremonial washings. The later technical name for a heathen who thus joined the theocracy was pixrj 1J> 'proselyte of righteousness' (Sanh. 96b).

The duties and religious privileges of a proselyte were substantially the same as those of a Jew (Gal. 5:3 ; Schurer, 326, Bertholet, 335). As regards civil rights, proselytes in Gentile states, and even in the Roman province of Judaea, were not at the mercy of Jewish authorities. In this and in other respects the elaborate discussions of the Talmud are academical discussions of an obsolete jurisprudence, and have little connection with the actual status of proselytes in NT times. Obiter dicta which discriminate unfavourably between the Jew and the proselyte chiefly serve to illustrate the strong animus which a large section of post-Christian Jews displayed against proselytising and proselytes.

1 On the story of Cornelius, 'one that feared God', and yet was regarded as unclean by Jewish Christians, see CORNELIUS.

6. Literature.[edit]

Schurer, Jewish People, ii. 2 291-327 ; Stapfer, Palestine in the time of Christ, ET, 130-132 ; Bertholet, Die Stellung der Isracliten u. der Juden zu den Fremden, 179-349 ; articles on 1?3 and 13 in Jastrow, Dict. of Targ. etc., and Levy, NHWB.

W. R. S. W. H. B.


The words so rendered in EV are :

i.Sc O, mashal. The root-meaning of '7Wo is simple - to be like, to compare 2 - but it bears a number of derived senses the exact relation of which to the root-meaning and to one another is more difficult to determine.

A. As a general term St?o [mashal] denotes

  • (a) a proverb or popular saying without definite literary form, and with no pretension to be philosophical, but a pithy characterisation of an event or summing-up of a natural law - e.g 1 S. 10:12, Ezek. 18:2 ; cp 1 S. 24:14 [24:13], Ezek. 12:22 (EV 'proverb', LXX 7rapa./3o\rj [parabole]).
  • (b) That against which such a saying is directed - tropically, a proverb, by-word.
E.g., Dt. 28:37, 1 K. 9:7, 2 Ch. 7:20, Jer. 24:9 (in each case || rU JB i 'by-word' ), Ps. 44:15 [44:14] (|| ^XT TOD. 'a shaking of the head' ), 69:13 [69:12], Ezek. 14:8 (j| rflN, 'sign' ) - EV 'proverb', LXX 7rapoj3o\Jj [parabole], but 1 K. 9:7, Ezek. 14:8 a^ai/ta^io? [aphanismos].

B. As a technical term in literature Ssra [mashal] denotes ;

  • (a) A sententious maxim, the unit in the aggregation of which the not very philosophical, always empirical, Hebrew philosophy chiefly consisted. Strictly speaking, ^jpo has reference to the form in which such a sentence was expressed, that of a distich a b - the juxtaposition of a and b conveying by comparison or contrast the moral lesson required.
Thus the 376 couplets in Pr. 10:1-22:16 are called (10:1) ^DnoW (EV 'proverbs', LXX om.) ; cp 1:1 (EV 'proverbs', LXX Trapoi/uu ai [paroimiai]), 1:6 (EV 'proverb', <B 7rapa/3oA7J [parabole], parallels being ns ^Di 'figure', 'enigma' ? cp Ecclus. 47:17 and Hab. 2:6 -)3T D D3n. 'words of the wise', cp Pr. 22:17 and rnTn> 'dark sayings' ), 25:1 (EV 'proverbs', LXX ai TraiSeiat [ai paideiai] [AN c - a - 7rapoi/u.iai] at afiia/cpiroi) 26:7-9 (EV 'parable' ), Job 13:12 (|| p~l3T, 'memorable saying' ), Eccles. 12:9 (EV 'proverbs', TrapajSoAai [parabolai], parallels DDK nai> fan -at. is? 3imi nsx i:n),
  • (b) The distich overflowing into a tristich, Prov. 27:10, 28:10, a tetrastich, 26:18-19, even a decastich, 27:23-27 - St?D acquires the sense of a sententious or didactic poem.
Such as we have, e.g., in Prov. 31:10-31 - see Job 27:1, 29:1 (EV 'parable', LXX 7rpooi>ioi> [prooimion]), Ps. 49:5 (|| nTfl), 78:2 ( EV 'parable', LXX 7rapa/3oAij [parabole]). Ps. 78 is, it is true, a historical poem ; but it is history with a purpose.
The Q ^iyo of 1 K. 5:12 [4:32] (|| rilvt. V 'songs' ) may go under either (a) or (b).
  • (c) Sc>D [mashal] denotes finally any poetical composition.
  • (a) A prophecy, as in Nu. 23:7, 23:18, 24:3, 24:15, 24:20, 24:21, 24:23 (all of Balaam), and Is. 14:4, cp Mic. 2:4 (|| nj ; see LAMENTATION, i), Hab. 2:6 (|j nirn ns Sn, see above, Ba), EV 'parable', LXX Trapa.j3o\-/i [parabole], but Is. 14:4 Oprji os [threnos].
  • (b) A parable, Ezek. 17:2 (|| nrn), 21:5 [20:49], 24:3 , EV 'parable', LXX TrapajSoXr [parabole]).
  • (c) A historical lay. The moshlim {1} of Nu. 21:27 recall the Homeric rhapsodists, though they seem to have recited satirical songs on living persons as well, cp A,B and see POETICAL LITERATURE, 4 (3).

2. rrvn, hidah (Ar. hada to decline, cp ny to from Ar. lasa). In Hab. 2:6 EV renders niTn flX ^D ( Trpo/SArjjaa ei Stijyrjo-u ) a taunting proverb ; but the asyndeton in the Hebrew, if not without parallels, is awkward. niTn may be dispensed with as a gloss on the rarer word ns Vo- See RIDDLE.

3. ira.poLfj.La [paroimia]. In classical Greek mxpoijou a [paroimia] means 'proverb', 'by-word' : so Aesch. Ag. 264 ; Ar. Thesm. 528 ; Kara -n\v Trapoi/uu ai [kata ton paroimian], 'as the saying goes', Plat. Symp. 222 B.

In NT Greek it means

  • (1) a proverb, 2 Pet. 2:22 ;
  • (2) a figurative discourse, Jn. 16:25, 16:29 ;
  • (3) a parable, Jn. 10:6.

Jn. never uses the word TrapajSoAjj [parabole], and it might have been better had RV in Jn. 10:6 taken the marginal rendering 'proverb' into the text, just as vice versa in Lk. 4:23 RV has 'parable' for AV 'proverb' 7rapa/3oAj [parabole]. Trapoijuua [paroimia] is occasionally used by LXX to translate ^B"D, Pr. 1:1, 25:1 (ANc.a.) (by Sym., Ps. 78:2, Pr. 25:1, Ezek. 12:22, Aq. Eccles. 12:9, Ezek. 18:2), found also Ecclus. 6:35, 8:8, 18:29, 39:3, 47:17.

4. 7rapaoAj [parabole]. 'Proverb' is the AV rendering of irapa/SoATJ [parabole] Lk. 4:23; but RV renders 'parable'. In classical Gk. 7rapaj3oArj [parabole] denotes

  • (1) a laying alongside (as of ships in a naval battle), Polyb. 15:2, 15:13, Diod. 14:60;
  • (2) juxtaposition, comparison, Phileb. 33:B, Polyb. 1:2:2 ;
  • (3) illustration, analogy, Isoc. 230A, Arist. Pol. 2:5:24, SK TUIV Orjpifav Troteio-tfai TTJV n. 'to take our illustration from the animal world'.

In NT Greek it means

  • (1) a figure, illustration Mk. 4:30 tv Tivi avryv TrapajSoAi) 9iafj.tv, perhaps also Heb. 11:19 (but see comm. ad loc.);
  • (2) figure, image, type, TJTIS 7rapo/3oArj ets rbv Kaipbv TOV eveo-rriKOTa, Heb. 9:9 ;
  • (3) parable, Mt. 18:24, 18:31, 18:37, etc. ; Lk. 14:7-11, 14:12-14, are scarcely parables in the strict sense of the word. 7rapa/3oArj [parabole] is by far the commonest rendering of St^D [mashal] in LXX (e.g., Ps. 78:2, quoted Mt. 14:35). Found also Job 8:4, Wisd. 5:3, and in Ecclus. twelve times. A. C. P.

1 Mishna, Pesach, 8:8, Kerithoth 2:1.

2 Attempts (see Ges. Thes., s.v. ; Fleischer in Del. Pr. 43 f. ; Halevy, Revue des Etudes Juives, 1885, p. 302) to derive two notions of comparing and ruling from a single root are futile - as witness their very variety. We must assume two distinct roots:

  • (1) 'to be like' Heb. 5WO, Ass. mashalu, Syr. metal, Ar. methala, and
  • (2) 'to bear rule', connected possibly with Ass. mashalu, 'to shine' (see Del. Heb. Lang. 55)


  • Title (1).
  • Canonicity (2).
  • Text and versions (3-4).
  • Form (5).
  • Authorship, date (6-7).
  • Process of formation (8).
  • Heb. aphoristic literature (9).
  • Bibliography (10).

1. Title.[edit]

The Massoretic title is 'Proverbs of Solomon' (, Mishle Shelomoh}, in the Talmud and later Jewish works usually abridged to Mishle. In the Talmud the book is also cited simply by the name of Solomon (Derek Ares, ch. 6), or as one of the Writings or Hagiographa (Ad. Nathan, ch. 2), and often without name.

LXX has a longer form : Proverbs (TrapOL^ai [paroimiai]) of Solomon son of David who reigned in Israel, and with this agree Syr. and Vg. , except that they read king of Israel. The superscription in our Gk. MSS is simply Tra.poifi.lai [paroimiai] (apparently = Rabbinical Mishle) ; the subscription is w. [B], TT. ZaX. [N], TT. ZoX. [A], IT. ZoX. Trapa eySSo/wj- KOVTO. [sol. para hebdomekonta] [C]. In the Vg. title the book is called Parabolaa Solomonis, in the superscription Liber Proverbiorum quem Heb. misle vocant, in the subscription Liber Proverbiorum.

These readings show that in the fourth century of our era the common designation of the book was Proverbs, and the title in the Heb. text Proverbs of Solomon ; the expression in the Vss. , 'son of David, king of Israel', may be a scribal insertion (perhaps suggested by the MT title of Koholeth). It is probable, though not certain, that the ascription to Solomon belonged to the original title (cp the titles of Koholeth and Wisd. Sol, ) : it may have been given to the earliest collection, 10:1-22:16, and then have been retained when additions were made, or the earliest title may have been 'Proverbs', and the reference to Solomon (based on 1 K. 5:12 [4:32]) may have been added by Jewish editors ; in the discussions of the book at the Synod of Jamnia the name of Solomon does not occur, but the authorship may have been taken for granted.

In early Christian writings Prov. is frequently cited with the formula: 'Solomon says'. In a number of cases also it is designated by the term 'wisdom' (<roc#>i a [sophia]) or by some expression in which the word 'wisdom' occurs ; but it is doubtful whether such appellations are titles proper or merely descriptive phrases. It appears to be called simply Sophia by Melito (in Kus. HE 4:20:13+) and in Const. Ap. 1:10 ; but, even if these readings are genuine, they hardly prove a general Christian usage. The expression 17 TroWperos <ro0i a [e panaretos sophia] (Clem. Rom. Cor. 1:57, Eus. HE 422, etc.), which is used also of Ecclus. and Wisd. Sol., appears to refer not to Proverbs as a book, but to Wisdom as the 'all-virtuous' speaker and teacher. 1 If we may credit Hegesippus, indeed (in Eus. HE 4:22), the designation 'Wisdom' is of Jewish origin (from unwritten tradition) ; but of this there is no proof - the expression 'books of wisdom' which is used in a Rabbinical treatise ( Tosephoth Baba Bathra, 14b) of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes appears merely to characterise these books by the nature of their material. In any case the infrequency of the appellation makes it probable that it is a description, not a title proper. The prominence of the idea of wisdom in Proverbs accounts naturally for such a designation of the book. 2

1 Moshlim might almost be rendered 'bards' ; the moshel may be the poet, the 'Dichter', the setter in order of words or ideas, perhaps he who places side by side the two halves of his verse, cp Germ. 'dichten', A.S. 'dihtan', to arrange, set in order. Old English verse has the same well-defined break in the middle of the line that we find in Hebrew. And *yyB in Nu. 23:7 may mean simply 'poem' - 'he uttered his poem', a stereotyped phrase introducing a fresh rhapsody, like the TOV S an-ajuei/Sojuei os jrpocre ^rj [ton d'apameibomenos prosephe], etc., of Homer. The author of Job 29 borrowed it (29:1), and the redactor borrowed it from him (27:1) ; see Budde, ad loc.

2. Canonicity.[edit]

At the Synod of Jamnia (about 100 A. D. ; see CANON, 55) t ne recognition of the book as one of the Ketubim (Hagiographa) was opposed on the grounds that it contained contradictions (26:4-5) and that some of its descriptions were indecent (7:7-20). The first objection was set aside (Shab. 30:6) by referring 26:4 ( 'answer not a fool according to his folly' ) to worldly things, and 26:5 ( 'answer a fool, etc.' ) to things religious ; this exegesis is incorrect, but the explanation was accepted. The apparently unseemly passages were interpreted allegorically ; see Aboth Nathan, ch. 1 (in the common recension), and cp ch. 2 of the same work in which amorous descrip tions in Canticles are explained as references to Israel. After the discussions at Jamnia the canonical character of the book was not questioned by the Jews, and it has not since been called in question. It is quoted often in NT and Talmud, and by Christian and Jewish writers generally. The citations in NT are almost all of them after the Gk. version, and are usually free ; the book was evidently much read, and no attempt was made by NT writers to give its precise words. 3 As to its position, the better attested MT arrangement places it next after Pss. and Job.

So in Bab. Bath. 14b, Tg., a number of Spanish Hebrew MSS and in Baer-Delitzsch ; but in some Hebrew MSS (mostly German) it stands next to Psalms (so in Hahn) ; the MT order was probably determined by the length of the books. The MSS of LXX early adopted an arrangement according to contents, putting the poetical books next to the historical (abandoning the division into the three canons), and Proverbs next after Psalms (Melito, in Eus. HE, 4:26 ; LXX{B} , etc.), 4 and this order is followed in Pesh. Syr. ; Jerome's order is Job, Psalms, Proverbs. Among succeeding writers there is considerable diversity ; modern versions adopt the arrangement of Jerome. See CANON.

1 Cp Frankenberg, Die Spruche, Einl, i.

2 For a late occurrence of the name no^nn "ISO ( in a synagogal prayer of the 12th cent.) see H. Deutsch, Die Spruche Sal. nach d. Auffassung; im Talm. u. Midr.

3 For details see works on biblical quotations. The bibliography up to 1884 is given in Toy, Quotations; since then have appeared Johnson, Quotations, 1896; Dittmar, VT in Novo, 1899 ; Huhn, A Tliche Citate, 1900. On quotations from in NT and in early Christian writings see Swete, Introd. to the OT in Greek, and the bibliography there given.

4 In LXX{A} the order is : Psalms, Job, Proverbs ; see Swete Introd.

3. Heb text.[edit]

In respect of accuracy the Massoretic text of Proverbs occupies a midway position among the OT books. It has not been subjected to the sweeping revision which we find in certain of the prophetical writings, and, among the wisdom books, in Koheleth ; but it abounds in minor inaccuracies. Many of its particular words have been deformed ; lines of couplets have been misplaced ; not a few passages defy translation or emendation ; and some paragraphs (e.g. , four short sections in chap. 6) now stand out of their proper connection. On the other hand, there are few insertions or modifications in the interests of theological ideas. The most important instance of such editorial revision is found in the paragraph 3:5-10, which is a theological parallel to the ethical paragraph 3:1-4 ; and 11:7 and 14:32 are perhaps other instances. 1 The character of the thought seems to have protected the book from violent alterations. Dealing almost exclusively with ethical facts and principles, it rarely comes into conflict with later thought.

In the passage in chap. 7, which called forth discussion at Jamnia, there has been no attempt at alteration. It is doubtful whether we can recognise any deliberate attempt to introduce into the book a doctrine of ethical immortality (as, for example, in 11:7, 14:32 {2}). The position of Proverbs in the less sacred group of Kethubim appears to have worked in two ways : it relieved the book from theological revision, but gave occasion to many verbal errors from carelessness of scribes.

1 Cp Kautzsch, 'Proverbs', in SBOT.

2 In both of these passages the Hebrew text is uncertain ; LXX's reading is probably to be adopted in the second, but not in the first.

3 For details of editions of Versions see art. 'Bibelubersetzungen' in PRE (3).

4 The patristic writers interpret it in a Christian sense, but do not change the text.

4. Ancient versions.[edit]

The following Ancient Versions of Proverbs have come down to us : Greek (Sept., fragments of Aquila, Symmachus, Theodotion, and of several anonymous translations); Old Latin (fragments), and Jerome ; Aramaic (Peshitta, Hexaplar Syr., Targum) ; Coptic; to which may be added : Ethiopic and Arabic. 3

The Septuagint, the most ancient, interesting, and valuable of the versions of Proverbs, is given in the principal uncials (BKAV, and fragments in C) and in a number of cursives (collated by Holmes and Parsons). Its text, however, is not in good condition ; notwithstanding the work so far done on it, a critical edition (a necessary preliminary to its best use for the re-establishment of the Heb. text) is still lacking. Many of its readings are corrupt, it has many passages not found in the Heb. , and its arrangement of the divisions of the book is peculiar. It is doubtless a purely Jewish production ; there is no clear trace of Christian revision. 4 The manner of its origination may be suggested by the example of the younger Jesus, the translator of Ben-Sira. He rendered his grandfather s work into Greek, in response, he believed, to a popular demand in Alexandria ; and so the Jews of the city doubtless desired to have Proverbs in Gk. form. Of the further history of the version we know little or nothing. It is doubt ful whether there was one translator or many ; there are, however, no such differences in style and accuracy in the different parts as clearly to suggest the presence of more than one hand. In general it appears to represent fairly a Hebrew text - presumably an Egyptian text of about 100 B.C. In certain cases this text differed from that on which our Massoretic text is based. Of the Greek additions the most seem to be translations from Hebrew ; but some appear to have been composed originally in Greek.

The natural inference is that there was in circulation a considerable mass of aphoristic material, out of which our book of Proverbs (whether Heb. or Gk.) gives selections. This does not necessarily imply that there were different recensions of the Heb. book in Palestine or in Egypt (though this is possible, and even probable) ; but it helps to explain the difference in material between the Gk. and the Hebrew. It is also possible that the Greek translators or later Greek scribes simply inserted in the book new material.

It is not likely that Proverbs and Ben-Sira were the only parcemiac productions of the time ; in these books, indeed, there are intimations of the existence of other works of the kind (Pr. 24:23, Ecclus. 39:1-11), and in the schools aphoristic sayings were doubtless cited and commented on. In this way there probably arose a tradition of parcemiac interpretation, which would be of various types, reflecting the various directions of Alexandrian Jewish thought. In the Gk. Proverbs we find allegorising interpretations (as in 2:16) but no definite evidence of rigorous legalism. 1 No doubt the hermeneutical tradition was less well established in the renderings of the Wisdom-books than in those of the Torah and the Prophets, and this fact may account in part for some of the incorrect translations in LXX's version of Proverbs ; 2 but unsatisfactory renderings occur throughout LXX, and must be referred in part to other causes, such as defective Heb. MSS, ignorance of Heb. , and corruption of the Gk. text.

It is evident, however, that there was great freedom in the treatment of the Heb. text by translators, and it is to such freedom or caprice that some critics refer LXX's arrangement of sub-sections in Pr. 22-31, which is as follows : 22:17-24:22, 30:1-14, 24:23-34, 30:15-33, 31:1-9, 25-29, 31:10-31. In this arrangement an order, not wholly unnatural, is observable : first come strophic passages, ascribed presumably to the sages, then 'miscellaneous instructions [or, proverbs] of Solomon', finally the description of the ideal housewife. The order may be due to the Gk. editor, or, as the subsections probably circulated in separate form and may have been arranged variously by Heb. scribes, he may have found it in a Heb. MS. 3

For the criticism of the Gk. text we have the Coptic and Hexaplar Syriac versions, to which may be added the fragments of the Old Latin, the Ethiopic and Arabic translations, and a few verses (9:1-11) of a Christian Aramaic translation (in Land, Anecdot. Syr. 4).

The Sahidic Coptic MS ed. by Ciasca contains about half of Proverbs. It follows the Gk. closely, giving the passages which LXX has in addition to our Heb. (and also some which are in neither Gk. nor Heb.). So far it has not been identified with any recension of LXX (the Hesychian naturally suggests itself), nor shown to follow any particular MS ; and the same remark appears to hold of the Bohairic material hitherto published.4 The Hexaplar Syriac (ed. Ceriani) preserves (how precisely it is hardly possible to say) Origen s diacritical marks, and in the margin cites passages from other Gk. translations ; it thus in many cases enables us to distinguish additions to LXX's text. As to the Ethiopic version, it is a question how far it is based on the septuagint ; its age is still undetermined, and it has as yet contributed nothing to the identification of an Egyptian recension of the Greek version. The Arabic rendering of LXX (in Walton s Polypi., and ed. Lagarde) is not without value. The Old Latin fragments are too few to be of great service. 5

The fragments of other Gk. verss. based on the Heb. (given in Field, Hex. ) represent our MT, and rarely furnish critical aid, though they are sometimes lexicographically useful. Nearly the same thing is true of the Latin Vulgate ; but in its case the question of text is more complicated ; it represents in general our MT, but with occasional variations which suggest a different form from ours, and here and there it shows dependence on the Septuagint (reproducing, probably, the Old-Latin). Its interpretations are of interest as giving in part the Jewish tradition of the time ; but it cannot be rated high as an aid in the exposition of Proverbs. The history of the Peshitta Syr. text is still more difficult; whilst based on MT, it has been considerably affected by LXX, and the details of its revision are obscure.

The Targum, in its present form, generally follows the Pesh. Syriac, yet sometimes gives MT against Syr. ; apparently it has been revised after the Heb., though it is possible that it renders a Syr. text different from that which we have, and that it may be used for criticism of the Peshitta. Saadia (ed. Derenbourg) gives the Jewish interpretation of the tenth century ; he is of little or no use for the text, but abounds in lexicographical and exegetical suggestions. 6

1 Heidenheim (in his Vierteljahrschrift, 1865, 1866) is disposed to see many signs of the influence of Pharisaic ideas ; but the evidence he adduces is not convincing.

2 So Frankenberg, Die Spruche, Einl.

3 For a fragment containing Pr. 23:21-24:35 see The Academy, Oct. 1892, and Klostermann, Analecta.

4 Cp H. Hyvernat, in Rev. Bibl. for 1896.

5 See Kennedy, Art. 'Lat. Verss., The Old', in Hastings, BD 3 ; he mentions Pr. 2:1-4:23, 15:9-26, 16:29-17:12, 19:7-27 and some others.

6 On the versions, see also TEXT AND VERSIONS.

5. Form.[edit]

(a) Divisions. - The main divisions of the Book, indicated in MT (and also in LXX), are as follows:-!.

  • i. (chaps. 1-9). A series of discourses, descriptions of the nature and function of wisdom and warnings against robbery and unchastity (3:27-35, 6:1-19, and 9:7-12 are misplaced ; the two first belong in iii. or iv. , the last belongs in ii. ).
  • ii. (10:1-22:16). A book of aphoristic couplets on the conduct of life.
  • iii. (22:17-24:22 and 24:23-34). Two collections of quatrains, in which there is a wider range of subjects than in the preceding division.
  • iv. (25-29). A collection of couplets.
  • v. (30-31). A miscellaneous collection, having the appearance of an appendix : chap. 30 contains a dictum on the limitations of human knowledge, one on the certainty of God's word, a prayer for preservation from the extremes of poverty and riches, and a group of tetrads consisting of observations on nature and life (v. 32-33 stand by themselves) ; chap. 31 consists of two longer passages, one a code of conduct for kings, the other a description of a model housewife. 1

(b) Rhythm. - The material of Proverbs, as far as regards its contents, though not poetical, is gnomic, and its literary form is that which appears to have been common in both poetical and proverbial utterances among the Hebrews from an early time. The norm is a couplet, with parallelism of lines ; quatrains are common, and there are, less commonly, longer strophes ; triplets are rare. The line in Proverbs has usually three beats (a form which may be called ternary), sometimes two (binary), sometimes four (quaternary). The determination of the number of beats is matter of pronunciation and therefore to some extent arbitrary ; but it may be said with probability that binary and quaternary lines are to be regarded with suspicion. In a fesv cases it is difficult to detect rhythm at all ; but in such cases there is ground for supposing the trouble to be in the text. 2

The rhythmical characteristics of the different parts of the book are as follows:

  • i. consists mostly of quatrains, with synonymous parallelism (3:27-35, 9:8 are misplaced);
  • in ii. (couplets) the form is antithetic in 10-15, comparison (with some antitheses) in 16:1-22:16 ;
  • iii. (quatrains), except 24:16, is synonymous ;
  • in iv. (couplets) the form is comparison (or a single sentence) in 25-27, whilst the second half (28-29) is nearly equally divided between antithesis and comparison (or single sentence) ;
  • v. (quatrains and longer strophes) is synonymous.

It appears that the distichal aphorisms are mostly antithetic, but are sometimes comparisons or single sentences, and that the longer discourses and the quatrains prefer the synonymous form. The rhythmical form is definite and, in general, well maintained, and may be appealed to for criticism of the text.

(c) Composite Character. - From the divisions in dicated in the text and from the variations in the rhythmical form it may probably be inferred that the book is composite in origin.

(d) The Mashal. - Proverbial sayings, brief formulations of experience and observation, appear to have been current among the Israelites, as they are among all other peoples. The examples in OT are few but sufficient to show the usage; see 1 S. 10:12 ( = 19:24), and apparently 2 S. 5:8, 20:18, 24:14 [24:13] ; an allied form is the riddle (Judg. 14:14), and cp Lk. 4:23, Jn. 4:37, 2 Pet. 2:22. 3 These simple sayings were sometimes in ordinary prose form, sometimes in the form of couplets, one line in some way parallel to the other. In the latter case the general name for them is mashal, a term which is employed in OT to designate a great variety of compositions of distichol form, and in fact seems to signify a distichal composition ; l for the various applications of the term see Ezek. 18:2, 21:5 [20:49], 17:2, Dt. 28:37, Hab. 2:6, Mic. 2:4, Nu. 23:7, Ps. 78:2, Job 29:1. Though Proverbs now contains gnomic discourses, the title mishle seems to have referred originally to a collection of aphorisms (10:1-22:16).

The etymology of mashal is doubtful : but the probability seems to be that it signifies 'juxtaposition' or 'similarity', with reference to the things or ideas with which it is concerned. - As synonyms of mashal in Pr. 1:6 we have kidah (rrvn) and melisah (~s % >-), terms which appear to signify originally 'deflected discourse', that is, discourse in which there is allusion to something else than that which the words directly express (as, for example, in a riddle, Judg. 14:12, 1 K. 10:1) ; later both terms were used generally for allegorical, visional, derisive, or didactic utterances (Ezek. 17:2, Nu. 12:8, Hab. 2:6, Ps. 49:5 [49:4], 78:2.

1 Chajes, in his Proverbia-Studien, maintains the view that the central part of the book (10:1-22:16) consists of scattered couplets which at one time (though not originally) were arranged, like Ps. 119, according to the letters of the alphabet, and he tries to restore this arrangement. In this attempt he is not successful (his scheme is highly improbable) ; but he suggests some good emendations. See also his note in JQR, July, 1900.

2 Valuable remarks on metrical forms in Proverbs are to be found in Ed. Sievers" treatise on Hebraische Metrik in Ahhandlungcn der Kenigl. Sack. Gesellschnft der Wissenschaften, 1901.

3 The story in Nu. 21:22-35 may be based on an old fable or beast-story; cp Jud. 9:8-15 and 2 K. 14:9.

6. Authorship.[edit]

(a) Until recent times the greater part of the book (chaps. 1-29) has commonly been ascribed to Solomon. Such may be the meaning of the general title or superscription in 1:1, though this may refer to chaps. 1-9 only, especially as Solomon is named as author in the superscriptions in 10:1 (in MT, but not in LXX) and 25:1. It is quite possible that he may have composed or collected proverbs of some sort, as is stated in 1 K. 5:12-13 [4:32-33] ; but the indications in the Book of Proverbs itself (see below, 7) make it impossible to suppose that he is its author. The tradition of authorship, embodied in the OT titles and in the Talmud, cannot be relied on. It has been conclusively proved that in the Prophets and the Psalms the titles are not authoritative in themselves, and that the lists of authors given in the Talmud rest on no good historical or critical foundation. The titles in Proverbs cannot be supposed to form an exception to the general rule. Some critics, however, while admitting the general doubtfulness of OT titles, make an exception in favour of Pr. 25:1 : 'these also are proverbs of Solomon, which the men of Hezekiah, king of Judah, transcribed'. Whence, they ask, this particularity of statement, if it does not rest on good tradition ? And it is added that Hezekiah s reign was a favourable time for such literary work. Granted that such work is conceivable for that time, we have only a possibility. There is no hint of it in the historical and prophetical books, and there is much against it. Not only was the period in question one of war and unrest, but it is highly probable, if not certain, that the task of collecting and editing writings did not begin till much later tnot before the exile). As to the particularity of the title in 25:1, it is quite in the manner of the Jewish editors - witness the titles of many psalms : to be precise and full was a natural tendency, and the scribes had no historical science to guide them. In this case Hezekiah may have been selected because of his alleged prominence as a reformer (so Is. 38 ascribes a poem to him, and 2 Ch. 19 credits Jehoshaphat with the creation of a sacerdotal judiciary). We cannot, then, base the question of authorship of Proverbs on the titles in the book. As to the ascription of Proverbs and other writings to Solomon, this also was perfectly natural when his reputation for wisdom had once been established.* And, as it is now almost universally held that he did not write Eccles. and Cant., it must be admitted, in spite of the tradition, that it is possible he did not write Proverbs.

(b) In 30:1, 31:1 two other names of authors are given, Agur ben-Yakeh (Jakeh) and Lemuel (or Lemuel's mother). Cp ITHIEL, LEMUEL. Agur (if the word is a proper name) must be supposed to be an otherwise unknown sage, possibly Jewish, possibly non-Jewish.

By a change of text he may be understood to be called a 'Massaite', an inhabitant of the region Massa, of which nothing is known ( Gen. 25:14), or, a 'gnomic writer' (moshel). Nor is it clear how much of chap. 30 it is intended to ascribe to him ; probably his dictum is given in vv. 2-4, which are an expression of philosophic (but not irreverent) agnosticism. Lemuel, in like manner, may be 'king of Massa' (the rendering of RV is impossible), or, by change of text, 'the Massaite'.

In MT the counsel to kings is ascribed to Lemuel's mother ; but this may be due to textual corruption - the words may well have been spoken by a sage. In the present condition of the text we can say of these passages no more than that they belong to the general late material of philosophic and gnomic wisdom (see AGCR, LEMUEL, MASSA). The 'sages' are cited in 24:23 and (in MT) in 22:17, and are mentioned in 16 etc. ; substantially the whole of chaps. 1-9 is referred to them. They represent the body of philosophical ethical thought of the later time ; they are the teachers in the academies and the gnomic writers.

1 It thus stands in contrast with shir, which seems to designate poetry as something 'sung' ; but cp Ass. Ara. 'oracle (perh. from \ / [root]= 'see').

2 In the vol. on Proverbs (Heb. text) in SBOT (on Pr. 1:6) P. Haupt expresses the opinion that mashal means originally 'equality or equal parts and halves (Ass. mishlani)' and then 'simply a line of poetry or verse, each stich consisting of two hemistichs', that is, the reference is to the linear form and not to th form of expression. Not to speak of the difficulty of giving the meaning 'halves' to the sing, mashal, it is to be observed that we do not find elsewhere, in Semitic, Gk., and Latin, a reference to linear form in terms for 'proverb' : cp mTI. .T3* S C- wopoifiio [paroimia], B-opa^oAij [parabole], proverbium, adagium ; cp also TI? and Ar. shi'r, which refer to expression and thought. Further, the sense stich seems to presuppose writing : but the term mashal probably originated before the literary use of writing began.

3 It need not be doubted that there was some ground for this reputation ; but exactly what it was we do not know.

7. Date.[edit]

It seems clear that the historical statements of origin, in the book and elsewhere, are not conclusive, and that, for the determination of the date, we must look to the customs and ideas indicated in the book. The data may be arranged as follows:

  • (a) the conception of life ;
  • (b) the social conditions ;
  • (c) the ethical ideas ;
  • (d) the religious ideas ;
  • (e) the relation of Proverbs to other books ;
  • (f) the linguistic characteristics.

(a) Conception of life. - When we compare Proverbs with other OT books, especially with the prophetical writings, we are struck by the differences between them in the way in which life, as a whole, is contemplated (see WISDOM LITERATURE). It is not merely that the point of view of other books is national, that of Proverbs individual - they differ also as to what constitutes the basis of good living. For the prophets it is loyalty to the sen-ice of Yah we, God of Israel (conceived of as including obedience to his moral law), in distinction from other deities ; for the sages it is loyalty to the universal human conscience, 1 and this loyalty is held to be conditioned on knowledge ; throughout the book it is knowledge or wisdom that makes the difference between the good man and the bad - the terms 'fool' and 'wicked' are synonymous (see FOOL). Now, we find also in a few prophetical passages insistence on the necessity of knowledge ; but in these passages the import of the term is markedly different from the conception in Proverbs.

Hosea (Hos. 4:6) exclaims that the people are destroyed for lack of knowledge ; but it is because they are misled by the priests : 'because thou [O priest] rejectest knowledge, I reject thee from being priest' ; the fault lies in the priests ignorance or disregard of the law of Yahwe. In Jer. 5:4-5, 8:8-9, 9:22-23, the charge of immorality is made against all classes of the people : they do not know (that is, obey) Yahwe s law, and it is even said that they falsify it. The wisdom of the prince of Is. 11:2 is that of a righteous theocratic judge. Ps. 119 is a glorification of knowledge ; but it is knowledge of the words of Yahwe.

In distinction from these prophetical passages. Proverbs makes the instructed conscience the guide of life. The divine control of all things is recognised, and the kernel of wisdom is said to be the fear of the Lord ; but this means an attitude of the soul, and not depend ence on an external code. It is assumed that he who knows will do right - the ultimate basis of life is a wise perception of the constitution of things. This point of view occurs elsewhere in OT only in Job and Koholeth. It is a distinct rejection of the prophetical and legal conception, and belongs to a reflective stage that we can seek only in the period when the Jews were scattered throughout the Persian and Greek empires. In Jer. 'wise men' are enemies of truth l - in Proverbs they are the sole depositaries of truth. This latter view is specifically Greek, and, without denying that some of the material of Proverbs may be earlier, we may probably refer the present form of the book to the Greek period. This date seems to be demanded also by the personification of wisdom in chap. 8 and the role assigned her as the controller of earthly affairs and the companion and friend of God at the creation of the world. 2 Such a personification is foreign to the legal and prophetical writings ; in the former there is no such representation, and in the latter it is the 'word' of Yahwe (his revelation or command) on which stress is laid (Jer. 23:29, Is. 55:11, cp Ps. 33:6). On the other hand, the personification of wisdom in Wisd. 7 is manifestly Greek.

1 Cheyne (Job and Sol. 119) appositely calls the sages the 'humanists'.

(b) Social conditions. - In the picture of social conditions in Prov. there is much that might belong to any period from David onwards : general goodness and badness, honesty and dishonesty, truth and falsehood, industry and sloth, agriculture, business life, courts of law and kings. There is also much, however, that is out of accord with the pre-exilic time. Monogamy is taken for granted, whereas polygamy is assumed in Dt. 21:15 (7th cent. ) and Lev. 18:18 (6th cent. ). In the older law (Lev. 20:10) adultery was punishable with death ; Prov. 6:32-35 treats it merely as a crime against the man's well-being. The elaborate descriptions of harlots wiles and denunciations of conjugal infidelity (especially in chaps. 1-9) agree better with a monogamous city-life ; in a polygamous community this vice is relatively infrequent - in many cases the harlots of pre-exilic prophecy are temple-prostitutes. Organised robbery, as in 1:10-19, belongs more naturally to later city- life, whether the passage in question refer to literal robbery, or, as some hold, to extortion and oppression under legal forms. The practice of hoarding corn (11:26) probably belongs to the later commercial life. The little treatise on the care of flocks (27:23-27) is hardly an early production ; literary treatment of such subjects is elsewhere late (Aristotle, Vergil).

The same thing is true of the manuals of conduct for kings (10:10-15, 25:2-5, 31:2-9), which relate to royal rulers as a class, without distinction of peoples, and lay the emphasis on the broad administrative virtues, the details being wholly different from those of Dt. 17:14-20, but nearly identical with those of the post-exilic Is. 11:1-5. The instructions (23:1-2, 25:6-7) how to conduct one's self at the table of a king are noteworthy ; they reflect a time when such social intercourse was not uncommon (else they would not have found a place in Proverbs), certainly not the pre-exilic royal period, but rather the period of the Grecian (and possibly the Maccabaean) princes, when it might happen to any respectable man to find himself at the king s table (see, e.g., Jos. Ant. 12:43:9).

Finally, there are, in parts of Prov. (1-9, 22:21, 24:23), suggestions of an organisation of learning which better suits the late reflective period : the sages are an influential body, and appear to have pupils - so we may infer from the address 'my son', and from 22:21 - that is, academies were in existence. The dictum of Agur implies a habit of discussing theological questions. The quotations in 30:5-6 (from Dt. 4:2, Ps. 18:30 [18:31] and perhaps Job 13:4, 13:10) point to a late time, for Ps. 18 must be regarded as post-exilic.

1 There is no sign, however, in the prophetical writings of a class of philosophically sceptical sages ; the 'wise men' depended on political shrewdness rather than on the word of Yahwe, and advocated expediency rather than prophetic piety.

2 In Prov. 8:30 the term JK is by some taken as meaning 'artist', 'architect', in which case it is better pointed [2K; it should rather be written jK, 'nursling' 'ward' ; wisdom is the creation or child of God (vv. 22-25) and his companion in his creative work.

(c) Ethics. - In certain points the ethical system of Proverbs agrees with that of the pre-exilic and exilic books on both the positive and the negative sides. The codes given in Ex. 20-23 Dt. Lev. and the prophets include most of the duties of a man to his fellow-citkens. They have nothing to say of courage, fortitude, moderation, self-sacrifice, intellectual truthfulness, love of beauty, international obligations ; but this defect, however it may be explained, is not supplied by later books. The motive for right-doing, 'that it may be well with thee', is the same throughout OT, and the avoidance of speculative inquiry concerning the nature of conscience and the ultimate basis of moral rules is common to all Semitic antiquity. On the other hand, there are injunc tions and points of view in Proverbs which appear to indicate an ethical advance over the exilic and pre-exilic books.

Such are the frequent praise of industry (6:6-11, 12:24), the scorn of gluttony (23:20), and the homely warning against too much frequenting of others' houses (25:17) ; the formulation (passim) of the character of the scoffer (a conception peculiar to Proverbs), and the special attention paid to fools, kings, and children, classes not considered, from the educational point of view, in other books (Dt. 6:7, Ex. 12:26-27, are not exceptions) ; the deeper conceptions of responsibility for one's words (10:11, 12:18, 13:3), of the wisdom of heeding reproof (12:1, 17:10), and of the corre spondence between deeds and requital (24:12, an advance in universality on Ezek. 18) ; the reference to the uncertainty of the future (27:1), a sort of reflection of which we find no trace in Law or prophets ; the injunction of kindness toward enemies (24:17-18, 25:21-22), which goes beyond the rule of Lev. 19:18 (this latter has in mind only fellow-countrymen).

It must be said, moreover, that, though there is in Prov. no recognition of a law of international ethics, there is also no trace of that bitterness toward foreign nations which disfigures the prophetical and the historical books, parts of the Law, and some of the Psalms ; the tone of the book is that of men who have been trained by experience to the recognition of a universal humanity. The guide of conduct is the sage - the appeal is to every man's reason and conscience.

Such is the general attitude. Yet the book has also its bitterness and implacableness. It adopts toward the wicked in general the attitude of Yahwe toward the wicked in Israel (Am. 4, Hos. 6:4-6, 9:7) ; they are warned, and exhorted to repent, but, if they do not change, they must die (Prov. 1:20-33). There is not even a trace of the softness which is visible in Ezek. 18:32, Hos. 14:4, or of the recognition of human weakness which is expressed in Ps. 103:14. J This difference is doubtless due in great part to the impersonal character of the moral ideal and judge in Proverbs ; Yahwe may pity, but Wisdom must be unrelenting. The sages, in fact, set forth a natural law in the moral world, which is no more capable of pity than physical law ; the rule is : be wise or perish - it is the rule of the ethical philosopher, not of the patriot or the preacher. In this respect, as in others, we are struck by the modernness of Proverbs : prophets and historians often seem remote from us, and sometimes even the psalms ; but Proverbs might almost have been written yesterday.

1 See, however, what is said below (under d) of God's educative providence. In 26:1, 26:3-12 intellectual folly is treated of humourously or sarcastically.

(d) Religious Attitude. - Of all the biblical books, if we omit such works as Nahum, Obadiah, and parts of Koheleth, there is none with so simple and colourless a theistic creed as Proverbs. It is distinctly and absolutely monotheistic ; unlike most of the prophetical writings and some of the psalms it ignores polytheism or the recognition of other gods than Yahwe - for it that question is finally settled ; even of angels and demons it makes no mention, though these must have formed part of the general Jewish belief whether before or after the exile - but Proverbs recognises no supernatural element in life but the spirit of God manifesting itself in the thought of man, and omits intermediate agencies as unnecessary. Its theistic faith is firm, calm, and unquestioning. It is enough that God is the creator and ruler of the world. His ethical attributes are taken for granted : there is no discussion of his justice as in Job, no doubt of the moral significance of the world as in Koholeth. 1 In accordance with this point of view the emotional element in religion is ignored : we find no expression of love to God, - of sense of sin and repentance, of joy in the service of God only the conviction that wisdom s ways are ways of peace and pleasantness. On the other hand, we have (3:11-12) the fine conception of God as training his servants by suffering ; here alone in Proverbs is the word 'love' used of God (it is used of wisdom in 8:17). In striking contrast with all other OT books except Koheleth the main features of the distinctively national Jewish religious faith are passed over in almost complete silence.

There is no mention of prophets 2 or priests or temple ; sacrifice is twice alluded to as a popular custom connected with feasting (7:14, 17:i), twice (15:8, 21:27) sacrifice without righteousness is denounced as abhorrent to God, and once (21:3) it is said that integrity is more acceptable to God than sacrifice - this last declaration is quite in the spirit of the prophets of the period of undeveloped ritual (Am. 5:21-23, Hos. 6:6, Is. 1:11-17, Jer. 7:3-7, 7:22-23), only, perhaps, with a more marked tone of indifference.

In contrast, however, with prophets and psalmists, the devotional element in religion (prayer, praise) is lacking. While there is no reference to a collection of sacred scriptures (such as occurs in the prologue to the Greek translation of Ben-Sira, 132 B.C.), there are two definite quotations (30:5-6) ; the closest parallel to such employment of earlier writings is the reference to Jeremiah in Dan. 9:2 (165 B.C.), and the suggestion is that Prov. 30 belongs to a late post-exilic period.

In another point the silence of Proverbs is note worthy. Before the exile the prophets predicted simply the restoration of the nation, but, after the fall of Jerusalem, the figure of the national king was introduced into the picture by prophets and psalmists as the natural political head, leading the nation in a career of conquest (Jer. 33:15-16, Is. 11:1-9, etc.); he was for a long time a part of the national hope. In Proverbs, however, he does not appear : what the book says of kings (14:35, 16:10-15, 20:26, 20:28, 24:21-22, 25:2-7) seems to regard them merely as a universal element of society, to be feared and obeyed ; when they are spoken of as absolutely just (16:10, 20:28), this is a natural idealisation of the office ; 3 their utterances are said to be as just as an oracular decision, and wickedness is declared (16:12) to be abhorrent to them. This is the tone of a man who regards society as organised on a moral basis, and feels no interest in an independent Jewish government. 4 Nor do the writers of Proverbs express any interest in the newer eschatological ideas.

The sphere of human activity, the place of struggle and happiness or unhappiness, is the present life on earth ; Sheol, as in the older literature, has no moral discriminations and no rewards and punishments (the same view is found in Ecclus. and Koheleth).

Certain passages in the book are regarded, by some critics, as giving evidence of a belief in ethical immortality, but this interpretation is improbable: 2:19, 5:5 refer to physical death (premature death, as in 10:27, being the final penalty of sin) ; in 10:7, 10:28, 11:7 the reference is to the present life; {5} 14:32 may be understood to refer either to the future or to the present ; but the text is probably in disorder. Inasmuch as the general position of Proverbs is perfectly clear on this point, a single couplet affirming immortality may naturally be regarded with suspicion. On the other hand, if the book be held to recognise the doctrine, its date must be put very late. Of the idea of bodily resurrection (which was adopted by the Jews hardly earlier than the second century B. C. ) there is no trace.

The central religious conception of Proverbs is the fear of God, reverence for him as ruler and law-giver; the sages, though philosophers, are distinctly religious. In chaps. 1-9 the expression 'fear of God' represents simply an attitude ; the fear is described as the essence of wisdom, and its content is given in ethical terms. In the remainder of the book God is regarded as the protector and benefactor of those who fear him. It must be added that, while 'wisdom' in a part of Proverbs (10-31) generally means sagacity, common-sense or prudence, it has in 1-9 a peculiar religious or divine character which it is not easy to define with precision. In 8 it is both a human (vv. 1-21) and a divine quality (vv. 22-31).

Whether the author conceived of it as an energy pervading the universe, or as a faculty breathed into man by God, or in some other way, it is difficult to say. For it is not shared by all men, and the only statement that God bestows wisdom on man occurs in an interpolated passage (2:5-8), and does not accord with the rest of the book. Probably the sage did not define the conception to himself, but held generally that true wisdom could dwell in him only who lived in sympathetic and reverent obedience to the Lord of the world. Throughout the book the interest of the writers is in wisdom as such.

The religious feeling of the sages forces them to identify wisdom with the divine government ; the definition of wisdom as essentially the fear of God (1:7), the recognition of God as absolute disposer of human affairs (16:1, 16:33, 17:3), the affirmation of the happiness of those who trust in him (16:20), and similar statements, may be regarded as sincere attempts to harmonise the philosophical point of view with the national religious conviction. 1

1 Agur (Prov. 30:2-4) merely affirms man's incapacity to comprehend God ; cp Cheyne, Jew. Rel. Life, 174+.

2 In 29:18 the reference is to people in general (not to the Jewish people particularly) and to law or instruction in general (not to the Jewish Torah), and the word vision (?l)n) is error of text.

3 Cheyne, however, thinks that there is a real portraiture of the Messiah in these passages; see his Jew. Rel. Life, 145+ Cp Toy, Proverbs (in Internat. Crit. Comm.), and art. The King in Jew. post-exil. writings (JRL, 1899).

4 A Messianic hope is seen by some writers (e.g., Smend, A T Rel.-Gesch. 491) in 2:21-22; this passage, however, hardly affirms anything more than a general trust in God's protecting power.

5 LXX's rendering of 11:7 appears to assume immortality ; but it is not a rendering of our Heb., and may reflect the idea of a later time.

(e) Relation to Ecclesiasticus. - The position of Proverbs in the arrangement of OT books, the fact, that is, that it stands in the Third Canon, favours the view that it is late, since the other books in this canon are either exilic or post-exilic. But, more particularly, a post-exilic date is suggested by its relation to Ben-Sira. 2 The two books are so much alike in point of view, spirit, and contents that their relation can be explained only by one of two suppositions : either one imitates the other, or the two are products of the same period. But if Ecclus. imitates Proverbs (and the latter is confessedly the earlier of the two), the more natural explanation of the fact is that they stand near together, just as the earlier part of Enoch and Daniel are near each other in time as in content.

One of the most striking of the similarities between the books is the fact that neither lays claim to divine inspiration, in contrast with the other writings (prophets and Torah) that give the terms of acceptance with God. This fact indicates in general a post-prophetic post-legal period, 3 the period of the sages, who are a branch of the class of scribes, and obviously later than the legal development of the fifth century B.C. In Ecclus. (38:24-39:11) learned men are distinctly recognised as a separate class, sharply distinguished from artisans, and their methods of study and their function are described at length. The picture of them in Proverbs is less sharply drawn, and it may be inferred that an interval of time, though not a very great one, separates the two books.

It thus appears that, since the thought is substantially the same throughout Proverbs, the whole of the book in its present form is post-exilic, not earlier than the second half of the Persian period, and not later than the first half of the Greek period. 4 The external influences of the time, when the Jews were scattered and brought into intimate intellectual relations with the great world, combined with the natural forward move ment of the people, led them in the direction of a philosophical conception of life.

How much, in this movement, is due to Persia and how much to Greece, it may be hard to say ; the two streams of influence were doubtless blended and assimilated to the fundamental Hebrew thought.! But it would appear that, while the contribution of Persia was mainly in the realm of the supernatural (eschatology, angelology, demonology), that of Greece was mainly philosophical (identification of virtue with knowledge, conception of the unity of the cosmos). It is not impossible also that some material was taken from Egyptian sources. 2

1 Cp Oort. Spreuken (Th.T, 1885). A similar harmonisation is found in Ecclus. but not in the original Koheleth. In the latter there are many harmonising additions, in Proverbs apparently only one, in 25-8.

2 See WISDOM LITERATURE, and cp Holtzmann, in Stade, GVI 2:292+; Cheyne, Job and Sol., and Jew. Relig. Life, chap. 4 ; Montefiore in JQR 2 (1889-90).

3 Prophetic and legal material no doubt continued to be produced down to the second century B.C. ; but it was frag mentary and complementary. The creative prophetic thought began to die out in the sixth century, but lingered till the fourth ; the law-books were practically finished by the year 400 B.C.

4 It is understood, of course, that no little of the general thought, theistic and ethical, and some of the particular illustrations, may be older than the fourth century ; the present form, however, is not popular but academic.

(f) Linguistic Character. - The vocabulary of Proverbs necessarily agrees largely with that of other OT books. Its linguistic peculiarities are partly due to the nature of its material, partly belong to the later usage. 3 It is not always possible to say whether a given word is late-Hebrew or poetical ; for particular discussions reference must be made to the commentaries. In any case the number of words which may probably be regarded as post-exilic or Aramaic is not large ; 4 in this respect Proverbs differs from the lately-discovered Hebrew text of Ben-Sira. It is not clear that there are any Arabic or Greek words. 5 The syntactical constructions are characterised by the curtness and compression which naturally belong to gnomic writing. The general style of the book agrees with what we might expect of the time when Aramaic influence was beginning to make itself felt, and the Hebrew was entering on its later stage - that is, the fourth and third centuries B.C.

8. Process of formation.[edit]

The custom of teaching by aphorisms and short discourses is illustrated by the whole of the series of early Jewish philosophical works (in which the Pirke Aboth may be included). 6 In the fourth and following centuries B.C. there must have been in circulation a number of proverbial sayings, and out of these our Book of Proverbs was made up. 7 The divisions visible on the face of the book have been mentioned above (5), and the differences between them, in content and form, suggest that they represent separate small collections (very much as in the composition of the Psalter). The same fact is indicated by certain repetitions in the book. Where merely a line is repeated (as in 11:4, 24:6), this need not show difference of editorship or of authorship, for a teacher might naturally vary his expressions. Where, however, a couplet occurs twice in exactly the same form (as in 18:8, 26:22, 19:1 [as emended] 28:6, 22:3, 27:12, etc.) we may infer that the two have been inserted by different collectors. 8 Such comparisons do not, however, aid in making out the primary divisions ; for this we must depend on form and content.

The central part of the book, 10:1-22:16, stands out by itself, but, if we may judge by the form, is really composed of two smaller parts, 10:1-16:2 and 16:3-22:16; the second of these is mostly made up of comparisons and other single sentences, whilst the first employs the antithetic form. With the second agree 25-27 and part of 28-29; with the first agrees the other part of 28-29. These seem to have been the earliest collections (ethical couplets) ; then came the two groups of quatrains, 22:17-24:22 and 24:23-34, which, by their distincter mention of 'sages' and the freer character of their material, indicate a later time ; the more elaborate discourses of 1-9 (omitting 2:5-8, 3:27-35, 6:1-19, 9:7-12) may be still later ; and 30-31 form an appendix. Within these divisions smaller sections occur (such as 16:3-9 [or, 16:1-9], 16:10-15, 25:2-7, 26:13-12, 27:23-27), which may well have been independent productions. Exactly when and how the various parts were combined into a book it is hardly possible to say, nor is the question very important ; the main point is that the process prob ably went on through the fourth and third centuries, and that the appendix, 30-31, may have been added still later ; Agur's dictum somewhat resembles Koholeth, and the artificial tetradic form in 30:11-31 and the alphabetical poem, 31:10-31 suggest a late time. Apart from the sections and sub-sections no principle of arrangement of couplets and quatrains is recognisable. 1

1 On Jewish borrowing from other nations cp M. Lazarus, The Ethics of Judaism (ET), 1:12+.

2 See Erman, Aegypten, 237-238, and cp Griffith, art. Egypt. Lit. in Library of the Worlds Best Lit. (New York, 1897).

3 Cp the lists of words given by Driver, Introd., and Wildeboer, Die Spruche.

4 The following appear to be late : the plur. form D E"N, 84 ; TING, 15:30; y33, 'to utter', 15, etc.; the expression T3 nVy, 26:9, in the sense 'come into the possession of'; nip, 8:3; and perhaps -jj, 16:2, '13p, 1:4 and some others. Aramaic are the terminations ni and p, and the words -Q, 31:2 ; non> 'sin', 14:34 ; XDD, 720, and perhaps some others.

6 The obscure word iji, 21:8, may be Arab., but it is doubtful whether it is the right reading; Dip^N, 30:31, is error of text; Jiax, 7:16 may be Gk. oflovij [othone], or the Gk. may come from a Semitic term ; yoE , 21:28, is textual error.

6 Cp the Gk. 'Menander', and the Syriac work bearing the same name. The instruction in the Synoptic Gospels is of the same character.

7 These would be of various times and origins, as is the case everywhere. Cp Oort, in Bible for Learners [or, for Young People], Bk. iii. chap. 7 ; Back in Graetz s Monatsschrifl, 1875- 1884; Wunsche, Die Rathsehveisheit b. a. Heb., 1883.

8 For lists of repetitions, see Introductions and Commentaries.

9. Hebrew aphoristic literature.[edit]

It thus appears that the history of ancient Hebrew aphoristic literature is parallel to the course of such literary developments in other peoples - it belongs to the maturest period of the nation. The proverbs of half-civilised peoples do not deserve to be classed as literature ; they are merely shrewd popular observations on the passing affairs of everyday life ; those broader and deeper observations that are more properly called aphorisms are the product of cultivated reflection. In Egypt the mature philosophical and ethical maxims that bear the names of Ptahhotep, Any, and others had their origin in one of the most flourishing periods of the Empire (see EGYPT, 21). Hindoo proverbial literature falls in a similar period in the history of Indian thought. The Greek proverbs ascribed to Menander are probably to be referred to the time that witnessed the rise of the great post-Platonic schools of philosophy. Similarly Hebrew aphoristic literature appears after the beginning of the philosophical movement that is introduced by the Book of Job ; and it maintains itself into the Talmudic period, that is, up to the point when the main Jewish literary activity, abandoning philosophy and apocalypse, devoted itself to the legal and ethical exposition of the Torah. The fall of Jerusalem and the dispersion of the Jews throughout the Roman Empire had as one effect the concentration of attention on the law, which was now the sole bond of union between the scattered communities. But, till this revolution was accomplished, aphoristic literature continued to be cultivated. The Book of Proverbs was followed by Ben-Sira ; a number of proverbs are found in Koheleth ; and the sayings in Pirke Aboth ascribed to the great sages doubtless represent the period beginning in the second century B.C. and extending into the first two centuries of our era. These sayings are analogous to those that tradition puts into the mouths of the 'seven wise men' of Greece ; philosophy arose early in Greece, late among the Jews. The Book of Proverbs, standing midway in the philosophic development, is the finest philosophical fruitage of the national Jewish spirit broadened and matured by intellectual contact with the best foreign thought of the time.

1 For attempts at a determination of small sub-divisions see Ewald, Delitzsch, and Chajes.

10. Literature.[edit]

i. Text and versions. - Vogel (in Schultens), 1769; Jager, Observv. in Prov. Sal. vers. alex., 1788; Schleusner, Lexicon (i), 1829 ; Lagarde, Anmerk. z. gritch. Uebers. d. Prov. 1863 ; Dyserinck, Krit. Schol. (Th.T, 1883); Oort, Sfrtuken, 1-9 (Th.T, 1885); Baumgartner, Etude crit. sur . . Prov., 1890; Bickell (IVy. KM, 1891); Pinkuss, Die syr. Uebers. d. Prov. (ZATW, 1894); Gratz, Exeget. stud, (in his Monatsschr., 1884), and Emendationes, 1892-94 ; Nestle, art. Bibeliiber- setzungen, in Herzog-Hauck, PRE^, and published separately ; Chajes, Prov.-Stud., 1899 ; Kautzsch, Hub. textofProv. (SBOT, 1901); Wildeboer, De Tijdsbespating des Spreukenboekes, 1899.

ii. Trans., and Comm. - Midrash Misle, ed. Buber, 1893 ; Saadia, ed. Derenbourg, 1894; Aben Ezra, ed. Horowitz, 1884; Rashi, Aben Ezra and Levi b. Gersom are given in Giggeius, In Prav. Sal. Comment, tritim Rabbin., 1620; and other Jewish commentaries are named in Cahen, La Bible, 1847 ; H. Deutsch, D. Spriiche Sal. s nach d. Aujjfass. i. Talm. u. Afidr., etc., 1885 ; Mercerius, 1573, 1651 ; Geier, 1653 . . 1725 ; Schultens, 1748, and ed. Vogel, 1769 ; Ewald, 1837, 1867 ; Hitzig, 1858 ; Kamphausen (in Bunsen s Bibelwerk), 1868 ; Delitzsch, 1873; Reuss, Fr. ed. 1878, Germ. ed. 1894; Nowack, 1883; Horton, 1891 ; Kautzsch, D. Heil. Schr. d. ATM, 1896; Wildeboer, 1897 : Frankenberg, 1898 ; Strackl 2 ), 1899 ; Toy, 1899 < Oort, Met Oitde Test., 1898-1900; M. D. Conway, Sol. and Solomonic Lit., 1900; Kautzsch, in SBOT, 1901.

iii. General Works. - Bruch, Weisheitslehre d. Heb., 1851 ; Bois, La poesie gnom. , etc., 1886; Cheyne, Job andSol., 1887 ; in Sem. Stud., ed. Kohut, 1897; Jew. Rel. Life, etc., 1898; Montefiore, Notes, etc. (JQR, 1890); Smend, A T Rel. -gesch. , 1893; Pfeiffer, D. rel.-sittl. IVeltanschau. d. B. d. Spr., 1897.

iv. Other gnomic collections. - Jennings, Prav. phil. of Confucius, 1895 ; Erman, ,-Egypt. ; Halevy, Melanges de critique, etc., 1883; Jager (in BA), 1892; Bohtlingk, Ind. Spriiche; M. Williams, Indian Wisdom; Pirke Aboth, ed. C. Taylor; Menander, eds. of Meineke and Koch ; Syriac Menander, in Land, Anted. Syr. i ; Freytag s Aleidani ; Jacob, Altarab. Par.ill. z. A T, 1897 ; Malan, Proverbs, with numerous parallels from a great number of aphoristic collections of other peoples. See also The Story of Ahikar (1898) ; cp ACHIACHARUS.

C. H. T.


(provincia; etymology uncertain), in the Roman sense, may be defined as the department or sphere of duty 1 assigned to one of the higher magistrates (the consuls and praetors). When, however, with the spread of the Roman arms, the government of conquered countries grew to be one of the most important duties of the higher magistrates, the term province, from designating the government of a conquered country as one particular duty of a Roman magistrate, came to be used generally as a designation of the country itself.

It is somewhat in this sense that the word is used in EV to translate nrnp. medinah (apparently from \/jn [rood DYN], 'judge', hence lit. jurisdiction) 2 for which LXX almost always has x^P a [chora] (eTrapXfia [heparcheia] in Esth. 4:11, crarpaTreia [satrapeia] in Esth. 8:9). A division of Israel into medinoth is mentioned in the time of Ahab (1 K. 20:14+ ; see GOVERNMENT, 18); medinoth of the Babylonian empire are alluded to in Ezek. 19:8, Dan. 8:2 (Elam), Lam. 1:1 (Judaea) ; those of the Persian empire are referred to with great frequency in the Book of Esther (1:1, etc.) ; the Jewish territory was one of them (Neh. 7:6 Ezra, 2:1 ; cp GOVERNOR, i; GOVERNMENT, 25 ; PERSIA, 1-2., SATRAPS ; TIRSHATHA). The word is also used in a general sense in Eccl. 5:8 (RVmg 'the state' ); cp 28. The frequent use of xc6pa [chora] in Maccabees (where EV has 'country', but 'province' would perhaps be better) may be noted.

Augustus in 27 B.C. divided the provinces into imperial and senatorial. Those which, from their proximity to the frontier or from the turbulence of their population, required the presence of an army were placed under the direct control of the emperor ; those which needed no troops were left to be administered by the senate.

  • (1) The senatorial provinces were ruled by an annual governor as under the republic. Of these provinces Augustus ordained that Africa and Asia should be consular, the rest praetorian ; but all the governors of the senatorial provinces were now called proconsuls (cp PROCONSUL). Their powers and dignities were much the same as they had been under the republic, except that they had now no troops, or only a handful to maintain order.

(2) The imperial provinces were governed by imperial lieutenants (legati Caesaris), who were nominated by the emperor and held office at his pleasure ; all of them had the power of the sword (jus gladii}.

For the administration of the finances these lieutenants had procurators under them, whilst the governors of the senatorial provinces continued to have quaestors as under the republic. Another class of imperial provinces consisted of those which from the physical nature of the country (as the Alpine districts), or the backward state of civilisation (as Mauretania and Thrace), or the stubborn character of the people as Judaea and Egypt) were not adapted to receive a regular provincial constitution. These were regarded as domains of the emperor, and were managed by a procurator (in the case of Egypt by a praefect), nominated by and responsible to the emperor.

The word tirapxda- [heparcheia] (EV 'province' ) occurs in NT. In Acts 23:34 Felix asks concerning Paul K Trot as eirap- Xias tffriv - of which kind of province he is - whether provincial or senatorial. (Cilicia was probably in the time of Felix an imperial province ; cp CILICIA, 3. ) In 25:1 the province of Festus the procurator of Judaea is intended (see GOVERNMENT, 30; ISRAEL, 90).

1 In familiar language any business was called a province.

2 In Aramaic and Arabic the cognate word means 'city' (so, too, in Palm, inscriptions, but in bilinguals Q CTn, 'lovers of their city' [in parallelism with 'fearers of their gods' ] is represented by ^lAon-armSes [philopatrides] : cp Vog. Syr. Cent. 13. Bevan, Dan. 220). In Arabic el-Medina is the city, par excellence.


(rnDTO; AperrANON ; falx [ligo in Mic.]), Is. 2:4, 18:5, Joel 3:10 [4:10], 4:3+ See VINE and cp AGRICULTURE, 7.


(-toft? ; Theod. y A A/v\oc ; Aq. /v\eAco- AHMA- Sym. ooAsi, &CM&; Tg. tfnmnn ; cp Staerk, ZATW xii. [1892] 94 137. On the linguistic affinities see BDB and Ges.-Buhl).

The meaning of the Hebrew word is not clear. According to Lagarde (Or. 2:23-24), 711D010, mizmor, came into use as a technical term of synagogue-worship, in contradistinction to tehillah, tehillim (^nn, c Vnn), which was specially appropriated to the temple cult. Gratz (Psalmen, 79-80), with whom B. Jacob (ZATW 16 [1896] 164-165) inclines to agree, thinks that mizmor has no musical reference, merely indicating that a new psalm begins: it is equivalent therefore to 'chapter', and, but for the carelessness of copyists, would stand at the head of every psalm. Delitzsch (introd. to Ps. 3) conjectures that it was an artificial expression coined by David. The word, which occurs exclusively in the headings of 56 psalms and in Ecclus. 49:1 (see PSALMS [BOOK], i), and to which the cognate languages offer no corresponding terms except loan words, is most probably - like so many other terms in the headings - corrupt.

The true word must be one which by its meaning justifies its close connection with the phrases inS jaS mp, etc. , and admits of being corrupted not only into IICTD but also into TB* ( a corruption of a correction of nOTC). with which it is so often combined, and which in the sense of 'song' is as superfluous as 71D10 in the sense of 'psalm'. The required word is either C?C i ( 'marked' (Dan. 10:21) or cwn. 'mark' (Aram.). The Aram. x /ce l corresponds to the Heb. ppn, to mark (cp. Tg., Is. 10:1). 'Marked : Of the sons of Korah' is just what we should expect to find at the head of a poem transcribed from the Korahite collection, and in the prefix to the title we cannot be surprised to find an Aramaism. In Ps. 98:1, where 7'o'e stands, we must supply mV, following LXX, and on the analogy of Ps. 100:1, where rrnnS (like m^) is most probably a corruption of prrT^, 'of Jedithun'.

It is very possible that the familiar phrase 'the Book of Jashar' (ia ;> n IBD), for which LXX substitutes 'song-book', TS>n ISO- should rather be, 'the book of the marked poems' (cnsnn 12D) - i.e., the collection of poems whose source is indicated ciei collectively). W. Robertson Smith considered LXX's reading certain ; it is at any rate probably very near the truth.

T. K. C.