Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/523

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necessity of paying special attention to his cattle, large and small; these, says the writer, are the real sources of wealth to the rural landowner. Possibly he means to insist on the advantages of country life over life in the city; if this be so, the paragraph bears witness to the prominence of the latter. Whether or not this is his design, advice to cattle-owners is natural in a manual of conduct. The Jews were mainly country-folk from the time of their settlement in Canaan to their final expulsion from the land by Titus and Hadrian, and the soil of Israelitish Palestine was better adapted to the raising of sheep and oxen than to the production of grain. Doubtless much attention was paid to this industry, but the composition of a little book on the subject, indicating a scientific interest in boviculture, points to a comparatively late period; the Greek and Roman works of this sort, by Aristotle, Theophrastus, Virgil and others, were late. This little treatise stands almost alone in. Proverbs; the great mass of its aphorisms relate to vices and faults which, though possible in any tolerably well-organized community, were specially prominent in the cities in which the Jews dwelt after the conquests of Alexander. They are malicious gossip, greed of money, giving security, nocturnal robbery, murder, unchastity. Much space is given to the last-named vice throughout the book, and especially in chs. i. and ix.-obviously it is regarded as a notorious social evil. Comparatively little is said of it in the Pentateuch and the prophetical and historical books. That there were harlots and adulteresses in Israel from an early time is shown by such passages as ]udg. xi. 1 (]ephthah's mother), 1 Kings iii. 16 (the judgment of Solomon), Hos. iii. 1. (Hosea's wife), by the denunciations of the crime and the laws against it, and by the employment of the terms harlotry and adultery as designations of religious unfaithfulness. Yet, apart from the references to cultic prostitution (which was adopted by the Israelites from the Canaanites), the mention of the vice in question is not frequent; in a polygamous society and in a country without great cities it was not likely to grow to great proportions. The case was different when the Jews were dispersed through the new Greek kingdoms, and lived in cities like Terusalem and Alexandria, centres of wealth and luxury, inhabited by mixed populations;this form of debauchery then became commoner and better organized. Hetairae flocked to the cities. ' Naukratis in the Egyptian Delta was famous under the Ptolemies for its brilliant venal women. The temptations of Alexandria and the loose morals of the time (latter part of the 3rd century) are illustrated by the story told by Josephus (Ant. xii. 4, 6) of Joseph the son of Tobias. The picture of society given in Ben-Sira (ix. 5-9, xix. 2, xxiii. 16-26, xxv. 16-26, xxvi. 8-12, xlii. 9-14), based on life in Jerusalem and Alexandria in the 2nd and 3rd centuries B.C. agrees in substance with the descriptions of the Book of Proverbs. The tone of these descriptions throughout the book, but particularly in chs. i.-ix., is modern. A point of interest is that the exhortations to chastity are addressed to men only; the man is regarded as the victim, the woman as the temptress-women are never warned against men or against the general seductions of society. This silence may be due in part to a current opinion that women were more hedged in and guarded by social arrangements and less exposed to temptation than men; but it is chiefly the result of the fact that the Old Testament (like most ancient and modern works on practical ethics) addresses itself almost exclusively to men (certain classes of women are denounced in Amos iv. 1-3; Isa. iii. 16-iv. 1; Ezek. xiii. 17-25), the moral independence of women is not distinctly recognized. In this regard Ecclesiasticus agrees with Proverbs-it has no word of advice for women. The temptress in Proverbs appears to be a married woman; she is certainly such in chs. vi. and vii., and probably also throughout the book. The term “ strange woman ” (ii. 16 al.) means not a foreigner, but one who is alien to the man's family circle, the wife of another man. Such women may sometimes have been foreigners, but the sage's concern is with the man's violation of the marriage obligation, be the woman ]ew or Gentile. In the earlier time marriages between Jewish men and Canaanite women seem to have been not uncommon; whether (outside of Herod's family) there were marriages with foreigners in the Greek period we have no means of determining.

Proverbs is remarkable for the attention it gives to kings. The prophets have nothing to say of them as a class. One passage in the Pentateuch (Deut. xvii. 1 5-20) prescribes that the Israelite king shall be the opposite of Solomon-he shall not accumulate horses, wives, silver and gold, and shall study the law. In the Psalter he is considered merely as a servant of Yahweh. Proverbs treats the king, in a quite modern way, as a member of society. He is described ideally as ruling by the might of wisdom (viii. 1 5, 16), and as controlled in his administration by truth, kindness and justice (xx. 8, 26, 28)-the Wicked ruler who oppresses the poor is condemned as not reaching the ideal standard (xxviii. 3, 5, 16). Three manuals of conduct are devoted to him (xvi. IOj'I 5, xxv. 2-7, xxxi. 2-9). His power is recognized-he is the source of life and death (xvi. 14, 15)but he is treated as a human being who must be governed by the ordinary laws of right. It is especially illustrative of the times that instruction in table manners is offered to the guests of kings -they must be modest in their bearing, not putting themselves forward (xxv. 6, 7; cf. Luke xiv. 8, rr), and they must control their appetites (xxiii. 1, 2). The reference here must be to the numerous non- Tewish kings of the Greek period, and perhaps also to the Maccabean princes; the manners of the time are set forth in ]'osephus's account of Ptolerny's dinner, at which the Jew Hyrcanus was a guest (Ant. xii. 4, 9). The mingling of despotism and good-natured familiarity there described (and the spirit is doubtless correctly given by Josephus, whether or not his details are historical) agrees with the picture in Proverbs.

Finally, a late date for Proverbs is indicated by what may be called its philosophical element-a feature that it has in common with the other Wisdom books (see WISDOM LITERATURE). This element is recognizable throughout the book, but is most distinct in chs. i.-ix., in which wisdom is personified as the power regulating the affairs of human life (iii. 13-18, viii. I-21). The portraiture approaches hypostatization in the cosmogonic ode (viii. 22-31), especially if the first line of v. go be rendered: “ I was at his side as a master-Workman ”; but the Hebrew word (amen) rendered “ master-Workman ” is of doubtful meaning, and the connexion rather calls for some such sense as “ nursling, ward ”; Yahweh himself is represented as the architect, and wisdom, the first of his works, is his companion, sporting in his presence like a beloved child., The whole passage (iw. 22- 5 1) was early employed by Christian theologians (Irenaeus, Athanasius, Augustine and others) in the controversies respecting the nature of the Second Person of the Trinity; particularly in connexion with the idea of eternal generation; the argument turned in part on the question whether the verb in 11. 22 was to be translated by “ created ” or by “ possessed.” Ecclesiasticus xxiv. and Wisdom of Solomon vii. should be compared with the Proverbs ode. In the remainder of the book (chs. x.-xxxi.) “ wisdom ” is sometimes common sense or sagacity, sometimes the reflective habit of mind and largeness of outlook, sometimes the recognition of the ideal standard of living. Contrasted with the wise are fools, and on these the sages vent their scorn abundantly (xii. 15, 16, xvii. 12, xviii. 6, 7, xxiii. 9 al.); Xxvi. 1, 3-12 is a “ book of fools.” The conception of the good' life is that of philosophically ordered rectitude. The religious element is prominent in x. 1-xxii. 16, but it is blended with the reflective. The philosophy of the book is practical, not speculative. Comparison of Proverbs with Ecclesiasticus, Ecclesiastes and Wisdom of Solomon shows that it belongs, in its main featiires, in the same category as these. Its thought, differing so widely from that of the prophets and the Pentateuch, is most naturally referred to the period when the Jews came into intimate intellectual contact with the non-Semitic world, and particularly with the Greeks (philosophical influence is not to be looked for from Persia).

While the general period in which the book belongs may thus be determined with fair probability, it is less easy to fix the dates of its several parts. The earliest of the groups of which the book