What is wisdom biblical: What is godly wisdom? | GotQuestions.org
What is godly wisdom? | GotQuestions.org
Proverbs 16:16 says, “How much better to get wisdom than gold, to get insight rather than silver!” The Bible urges us often to seek wisdom above all things (e.g., Proverbs 4:7). But there are different kinds of wisdom. First Corinthians 3:19 says, “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight.” And verse 20 says, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.” There is obviously a difference between godly wisdom and worldly wisdom (see James 3:13–17).
Godly wisdom is, of course, from God and honors God. Godly wisdom starts with the fear of God and results in a holy life. Worldly wisdom, on the other hand, is not concerned with honoring God but with pleasing oneself. With worldly wisdom, we may become educated, street-smart, and have “common sense” that enables us to play the world’s game successfully. Godly wisdom enables us to prepare ourselves for eternity. With godly wisdom, we trade earthly values for biblical values (1 John 2:15–16). We recognize we are citizens of another kingdom, and we make choices that reflect that allegiance (Philippians 1:27; 3:20). Having godly wisdom means we strive to see life from God’s perspective and act accordingly.
The book of Proverbs is part of the Bible known as wisdom literature. Proverbs is full of practical instructions for life. Many proverbs contrast the wise with the foolish and warn against repeating foolish actions (e.g., Proverbs 3:35; 14:24; 15:7; 26:11). Everyone makes mistakes, but the wise learn from their mistakes and take steps to avoid repeating them. The foolish may make the same mistake over and over again and never learn their lesson.
Godly wisdom may look very different from worldly wisdom. Jesus highlighted these differences in His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5—7). For example, He said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. ” Godly wisdom often requires us to do that which is opposite our natural inclinations. Godly wisdom goes against the “conventional wisdom” of the day; it is not focused on self-preservation but on furthering the kingdom of God. We can only live in godly wisdom when we are committed to crucifying our flesh and living in the Spirit (see Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 5:16, 25).
The primary way we gain godly wisdom is by learning God’s Word (Psalm 119:169). “The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple” (Psalm 119:130). No one is born wise; we must acquire wisdom from God if we are to be truly wise: “Your commands are always with me and make me wiser than my enemies. I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes. I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts” (Psalm 119:98–100).
Colossians 3:16 says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. ” Immersion in God’s Word produces a heart of worship and thanksgiving. That heart of worship becomes fertile soil for seeds of wisdom to grow. Jesus prayed to the Father: “Sanctify them by your truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17). He wants His followers to be set apart from the world, making godly choices and living godly lives (1 Peter 1:15). We can only do that when His Word lives in us.
We can also develop godly wisdom by carefully selecting those who journey through life with us: “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm” (Proverbs 13:20). Paul instructed the Corinthians to “imitate me as I imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 4:16; 11:1). Those who want godly wisdom will choose for their heroes those who exhibit wisdom in their personal lives.
Scripture tells us to ask for godly wisdom: “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5). God wants us to have His wisdom. He is delighted to give it to us when our hearts are set to receive it. However, James goes on to say, “But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (verses 6–8). God knows the position of our hearts. When we are committed to trusting Him and obeying His Word, He pours out His wisdom on us (see Jeremiah 29:13). But if we want to retain the right to disobey, we are double-minded and may not receive the wisdom we ask for.
Solomon received godly wisdom when he asked the Lord for it (2 Chronicles 1:10–11). He became known for his great wisdom, yet, in his later years, he turned away from following the wisdom he’d been given. He disobeyed the Lord and even began to worship idols (1 Kings 11:1–11). Receiving wisdom did not insure that Solomon would follow the path of wisdom. Sadly, he exchanged his godly wisdom for worldly wisdom, and he suffered for it. The rest of 1 Kings 11 details Solomon’s downfall as the Lord removed His hand of blessing from a man who was once great.
“Indeed, if you call out for insight
and cry aloud for understanding,
and if you look for it as for silver
and search for it as for hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding”
The True Meaning of Wisdom
The answer to the question, “what is wisdom” seems, at first hearing, to demand a rather simple answer. One could say, “Wisdom is the appropriate application of knowledge,” and that is so. But upon reviewing wisdom in the Bible, this invaluable virtue is deep, immeasurable, priceless, and rare. It is like saying, “Jesus is the Redeemer. ” That is true, yet our Redeemer is infinitely more.
The Lord offers wisdom freely; however, most don’t bother to ask and, therefore, receive. Wisdom is a plenteous crop with a meager harvest. Wisdom personified cries out in the street, “I am here! I bring great blessings!” Thus, the Proverb:
Proverbs 1:20-22 (ESV): Wisdom cries aloud in the street, in the markets she raises her voice; at the head of the noisy streets she cries out; at the entrance of the city gates she speaks: “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?
But busy pedestrians walk briskly by, perhaps only glancing in contempt at its peculiar place. A busy man late for an appointment is put off by her offer. “My word, what an embarrassment! She is not a beggar but is annoyingly worse: she offers her treasures to any who will pause and ask. How ludicrous. Get out of my way! I am late!” Others ignore her. Some even avoid her. She holds wealth, happiness, and abundant life. But the sweet voice with her kind offer is drowned out by the urgent noises of practicality and utility and self-reliance.
True wisdom, like God’s grace, is alien to the natural man.
Wisdom is, in fact, a divine gift that is granted by God whenever any believer asks. This is the clear teaching of James:
James 1:5 (ESV): If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
Yet, how many ask? How many pray? Solomon asked for wisdom and it is this prayer that unlocked the riches of the world. We read in 1 Kings 3:8-13 (ESV):
“And your servant is in the midst of your people whom you have chosen, a great people, too many to be numbered or counted for multitude. 9 Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?” 10 It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. 11 And God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, 12 behold, I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you. 13 I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor.”
Proverbs 1:7 (ESV) tells us,
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
In this is the answer to the second part of the question: “how does one acquire wisdom?” The biblical answer is found in all of the Scriptures that we have cited and many more. We can survey all of the pool of biblical insights about wisdom and siphon the precious nectar of truth about how to get wisdom:
1. Recognize that true wisdom is something that we need. Like grace, wisdom is something God offers and which we must receive. It is a gift.
2. Repent of your claim on wisdom. Turn to God. By faith, believe in God and in his only begotten Son Jesus Christ. Ask him for wisdom.
3. Receive the anointing of wisdom even as Joshua received wisdom after Moses laid his hand upon him. Recognize that wisdom is a spiritual act. It has very little to do with cognitive development or education. It has everything to do with the anointing of God to see what is right and what is wrong, to know what to do and when to do it. You and I both know that wisdom does not come along with a sheepskin of a diploma or certification. Cry out to God, and he will answer you and anoint you with wisdom.
4. Use wisdom for the glory of God and for the good of others. If wisdom is not exercised then wisdom ceases to be. However, the very nature of wisdom instructs your heart to use your insights, your discernment, your discretion, your vision to fulfill God’s will and to demonstrate how to love your neighbor.
Yes, wisdom is a bountiful blessing that is available to all. You have only to go to the Lord God and ask for this wisdom. As Paul prayed that the Colossians be granted wisdom, so I pray for those who read this:
“And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Colossians 1:9-10 ESV).
Let us always remember that Jesus is the fullness of God’s wisdom. To receive the anointing of wisdom, then, is, in some way, to know the mind of God and to draw close to the one who is wisdom incarnate, even Jesus Christ our Lord:
“But we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a [c]stumbling block and to the [d]Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor. 1:23-24 NKJV).
Jesus Christ is the wisdom of God. And to receive him is to recognize your need of him and cry out to him. God will answer your prayer. So, this is wisdom and how to find it.
Michael A. Milton, PhD (University of Wales; MPA, UNC Chapel Hill; MDiv, Knox Seminary), Dr. Milton is a retired seminary chancellor and currently serves as the James Ragsdale Chair of Missions at Erskine Theological Seminary. He is the President of Faith for Living and the D. James Kennedy Institute a long-time Presbyterian minister, and Chaplain (Colonel) USA-R. Dr. Milton is the author of more than thirty books and a musician with five albums released. Mike and his wife, Mae, reside in North Carolina.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/noipornpan
How to Get Wisdom: Become a Fool
I am going to spend the first part of the message defining wisdom so you will know what I think you should get. And the second part showing you how you can get it. And I pray you will see that both parts are evident from Scripture, not just my opinion.
How to Define Wisdom
As a rule, if someone asks you to define a word, you should respond by saying, “According to whom? In what setting? In what book? In what chapter or verse?” Because definitions vary according to speakers in context and time even within the Bible. So in general, be wary of doing what I am about to do.
I’m going to venture a definition of wisdom, which I think, in general, covers most of the uses in the Bible. I do this because we have to speak to each other. And we can’t pause every time we do in order to define precisely all the words we are using. Communication would be impossible if we tried to do that. So when we speak to each other, we have to assume, and hope for, a shared meaning for hundreds of words we are using, without pausing to define each one.
So I’m going to propose a definition for wisdom first in a general sense, and then, in a few minutes, get a little more specific.
Knowledge, Insight, Resolve
So, most generally I would put it like this: The greatest human wisdom is the factual knowledge and the situational insight and the necessary resolve that together have the greatest likelihood of success in achieving the intended, righteous goal.
“Gold can buy almost anything in this world. But it cannot buy everlasting life and joy.”
For example, in a military battle, with justice on your side, the intended, righteous goal will be victory. And to that end, a wise general will have the factual knowledge he needs about the terrain, and the weather, and the strength of the opposing army, and where they are located, and how they fight, and how skilled his own troops are, and how weary they are, and much other factual knowledge.
And, as the battle engages, he will have the situational insight to discern in the critical moment that the way the enemy is slowing on the right flank is a sign that one more thrust from his elite troops at that weak spot will send the entire enemy force fleeing.
And he has the necessary resolve to command the charge, knowing that failure here would be the loss of the battle. In a sinful and dangerous world, almost all acts of wisdom require some measure of courage.
So, wisdom always combines (1) general knowledge of the facts about reality with (2) the more specific and the immediate discernment, or insight, or intuition into the less perceptible, but crucial, dynamics of the situation, with (3) the necessary resolve to act on that knowledge and that insight. We won’t act as wisely as we could, if we are ignorant of relevant reality, or if we are undiscerning of the immediate dynamics of the situation, or if we simply don’t have the resolve to act, because we are lazy or afraid.
God Never Fails
The reason I say that the greatest human wisdom has the greatest likelihood of success in achieving the intended, righteous goal, is that only God never fails in the achievement of his intended goals. The wisdom of God — his general knowledge of reality, his situational insight, his necessary resolve — always succeeds in achieving his intended goals.
That’s not true of finite human beings — believing or unbelieving. The greatest human wisdom — with all its factual knowledge, and all its situational insight, and all its necessary resolve — will sometimes be thwarted in achieving its intended, righteous goals, because only God has the power to guarantee the success of his wisdom.
God’s Ways Are Unsearchable
So, we can define God’s wisdom without any qualification. We can say: Divine wisdom is the perfect factual knowledge and the perfect situational insight and the omnipotent resolve that together will succeed in achieving his intended, righteous goals.
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! (Romans 11:33)
Nobody can fathom them or thwart them.
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:36)
Wisdom That Won’t Fail
Now, I said a few minutes ago that I would try to define wisdom first most generally, and then get more specific. So, here’s my more specific definition: The greatest human wisdom is the factual knowledge and the situational insight and the necessary resolve that together will succeed in attaining full and everlasting happiness.
And you notice, I don’t qualify it by saying it “has the greatest likelihood of success in attaining happiness. ” Because God has ordained that no power in the universe can keep his redeemed people, acting in his Spirit-given wisdom, from attaining full and everlasting happiness in his presence. This wisdom cannot be thwarted.
Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 2:7, “We impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God [that is, he imparts it to believers], which God decreed before the ages for our glory.” That divine wisdom, planned for his people before creation, cannot fail. When that wisdom is imparted to us by the Holy Spirit in the new birth, and we walk according to that wisdom in faith, we cannot fail to attain the glory and joy that God decreed for us before the ages.
So, my more specific definition of the best human wisdom — the kind we want, the kind we can have, as a blood-bought gift of Jesus, by the Spirit, through faith — that wisdom is the factual knowledge and the situational insight and the necessary resolve that together succeeds in attaining full and everlasting happiness.
Wisdom Works for a Greater Goal
Now, consider just a few passages of Scripture that point to the definition I have just unfolded. Consider, for example, 2 Timothy 3:15: “The sacred writings [the Scriptures] are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” Notice how wisdom functions. It is a means to a goal. Wisdom is always a good means to a good goal. The Scriptures make you wise unto salvation.
Wisdom is the mental, attitudinal, volitional capacity to get somewhere. So what Paul is implying is this: that the Scriptures impart to you, by the Spirit, the knowledge of reality and the situational discernment and the necessary resolve unto salvation. They impart to you what you will need to walk on the narrow road of faith and obedience that leads to final salvation — to full and everlasting happiness in the presence of God.
Or consider Proverbs 3:13, “Happy is the one who finds wisdom. ” Biblical wisdom is not a dead-end street leading to a cul-de-sac of misery. It is the path to deep and lasting happiness. Or consider Proverbs 24:13–14:
My son, eat honey, for it is good,
and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste.
Know that wisdom is such to your soul;
if you find it, there will be a future [a honey-sweet future!],
and your hope will not be cut off [honey-sweet forever].
If you find true wisdom, it will lead you infallibly to a happy future. And that future will last forever.
So Proverbs 19:8 says, “He who gets wisdom loves himself.” Not meaning: finds himself lovely, but embraces for himself a glorious future. Proverbs 8:32–36 sums it up beautifully. Here wisdom herself is speaking and she says,
And now, O sons, listen to me [wisdom]:
blessed are those who keep my ways [the ways of wisdom]. . . .
Blessed is the one who listens to me,
watching daily at my gates,
waiting beside my doors.
For whoever finds me [finds wisdom] finds life
and obtains favor from the Lord,
but he who fails to find me injures himself;
all who hate me love death.
Could it be clearer that wisdom is the knowledge and insight and resolve that successfully lead to full and everlasting joy?
Better Than Gold
Therefore, as Proverbs 16:16 says, “To get wisdom is better than gold.” Why? Because gold can buy almost anything in this world. But it cannot buy everlasting life and joy.
“Biblical wisdom is not a dead-end street leading to a cul-de-sac of misery. It is the path to deep and lasting happiness.”
Oh, it can buy all kinds of earthly pleasures and turn men into idiots. “Folly is a joy to him who has no sense” (Proverbs 15:21). But it cannot buy what we want and need most: full and everlasting happiness. But wisdom — true wisdom — can do that. Those who find wisdom find life. And those who hate her love death.
Outside my study at home hanging on the wall in the hall that I must pass every day is this beautiful calligraphy that a wise friend sent me 17 years ago. The top coin is made of silver. The bottom coin of gold. It says,
Choose my instruction instead of silver,
knowledge rather than choice gold,
for wisdom is more precious than rubies,
and nothing you desire can compare with her. (Proverbs 8:10–11, NIV)
Because only she leads to the fulfilment of all your desires.
How to Get Wisdom
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom,
and whatever you get, get insight. (Proverbs 4:7)
I have in mind one main path to wisdom that I want to focus on here in our setting at Bethlehem College & Seminary, but it would be so lopsided to deal only with this that I am going to mention several other paths that I see in Scripture.
Get wisdom by prizing her.
Prize her highly, and she will exalt you;
she will honor you if you embrace her. (Proverbs 4:8)
Don’t be neutral toward wisdom. Prize her. Esteem her. Desire her. Cherish her. And she will honor you with her presence.
Get wisdom by praying — by asking God for her.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. (James 1:5)
Get wisdom by pursuing her.
If you make your ear attentive to wisdom . . .
if you seek it like silver
and search for it as for hidden treasures,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God. (Proverbs 2:2, 4–5)
Don’t be passive. Listen, seek, pursue. She is found by those who prize her and pray for her and pursue her.
Where to Find Wisdom
Pursue her where? One answer would be at Bethlehem College & Seminary. Why would I say that? Because we are committed to helping you pursue wisdom in five biblical ways.
in the word of God.
The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
making wise the simple. (Psalm 19:7)
There is no true wisdom apart from the testimony of the Lord. At Bethlehem College & Seminary everything is tested and illumined by the word of God.
Pursue wisdom not only in the word of God, but also
in the world of God.
Go to the ant, O sluggard;
consider her ways, and be wise. (Proverbs 6:6)
One of the main reasons that we believe in a liberal arts education, that reads widely outside the Bible, is that the Bible itself tells us there are dimensions of wisdom to be found in the assiduous, penetrating, critical, biblical observation of the world, not only the Bible. So many lessons to be learned from the folly, and the shrewdness, and the calamities, and the wonders of the world, and the great books that show them and ponder them.
by walking with wise teachers.
Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise. (Proverbs 13:20)
God never intended you to walk through the word and walk through the world alone. Walking with the wise as you ransack the word and ransack the world will make you wiser than if you walked alone.
in the light of eternity.
Teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)
If you come to Bethlehem, you will smell eternity. The sweet breezes of heaven, and the smoke of hell blow often through these halls. Because walking near eternity makes you wiser in this world. As the Preacher says,
It is better to go to the house of mourning
than to go to the house of feasting,
for this is the end of all mankind,
and the living will lay it to heart. (Ecclesiastes 7:2)
And become wise.
by bringing all things into relation to Jesus Christ.
All things were created through him and for him. . . . In him all things hold together. . . . And in him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom. (Colossians 1:16–17; 2:3)
Those are the vital paths to wisdom that I am not focusing on. Prize her. Pray for her. Pursue her — in the word, in the world, in the company of wise teachers, in the light of eternity, in relation to Jesus.
Become a Fool
Now, finally, here is the path to wisdom that I want to underline with a special emphasis as we close. I see it in 1 Corinthians 3:18,
Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise.
Here is an indispensable path to wisdom: Become a fool that you may become wise. Paul is not merely saying that if you seek wisdom from God, you will be seen as a fool in the world. He is saying we must happily embrace the role of fool in the world, “in order that he may become wise.” We must not be ashamed of being a fool for Christ (1 Corinthians 4:10).
“No power in the universe can keep God’s redeemed people from attaining full and everlasting happiness.”
Here’s the context in 1 Corinthians that makes sense out of that strategy. Paul said there is a wisdom in Corinth that empties the cross of its power (1 Corinthians 1:17). To the wise men of Corinth “the cross is foolishness” (1:18). So “the world did not know God through its wisdom” (1:21). Rather “the thoughts of the wise are futile” (3:20). “The wisdom of this world is folly with God” (3:19). And one day God will “destroy the wisdom of the wise” (1:19). And so “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise” (1:27). Therefore, “become a fool that you may become wise” (1 Corinthians 3:18).
Don’t Be a Cowardly Conformist
Why do I focus on this path to wisdom? Because Bethlehem College & Seminary is an academic institution. Academic institutions, like once glorious ghost towns, breed fear of being called a fool like slums breed rats. Academia breeds cowardly conformists posing as cutting-edge progressives. Students and teachers in academic institutions have the strongest aversion to being seen as fools in the eyes of other academics.
To be a faithful Christian, to be obedient to God’s word, to be truly wise in the eyes of God — in Corinth, or in Athens, or in the heady halls of academia — we must become fools. Thoughtful fools. Hopeful fools. Happy fools. Not self-pitying, dour, defensive, forlorn, miserable fools. But unashamed, happy fools.
Out-Rejoice the World
The crucial question for your future and the future of this school is: Will we be ashamed of believing what the Bible teaches when the world calls us fools? Or will we out-rejoice the world, not only in spite of, but because of, their insults?
Will we be like Paul who said, “For the sake of Christ, I am content with . . . insults” (2 Corinthians 12:10)?
Will we respond like the apostles when they were shamed as fools in Acts 5:41? “They left the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to be shamed for the name.”
Will we obey Peter’s letter? “Rejoice . . . if you are insulted for the name of Christ . . . because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you” (1 Peter 4:13–14).
Will we turn from the pitiful rewards of boasting in men and remember, “All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future — all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s” (1 Corinthians 3:21–23)?
So, I exhort you, get wisdom! “Become a fool that you may become wise.” A thoughtful, hopeful, happy fool. For Christ (1 Corinthians 4:10).
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Wisdom in the Bible vs. Scientific Knowledge
What does science have in common with wisdom in the Bible?
Researchers explore the world through the skilled use of scientific tools, but also through the discerning sight they develop through training. And the Scriptures praise prudent knowledge that attends closely to the reality that surrounds us. Proverbs portrays wisdom as a process of submitting to God and authorities (like fathers, mothers, and Lady Wisdom), and then practicing their instruction in order to be wise.
Most of the eight Hebrew terms translated as “wise” can be best captured by the English phrase “skilled discernment.” Biblical scholar Michael V. Fox sums up “wisdom” this way: “[Wisdom] describes men who, in some sense and in some sphere, are ‘competent,’ ‘skilled.’ It can be used even of manual workers or sailors. . . . Even an embryo which cannot find the way out of the womb can be described as ‘unwise’” (Hosea 13:13).
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Biblical wisdom is not merely knowledge applied to a circumstance—it’s a skill of seeing beyond the thin surface of how things appear. The wise person reaches to grasp what is the driving force beyond how things appear.
For new parents, wisdom is the ability to discern a child’s fussiness and fever apart from the virus that causes the fever. For teachers, shrewd discernment sees beyond the words of the essay to the interior critical mind of the child.
But how do we become wise?
Wisdom in the Bible as Apprenticeship
According to Scripture and the canons of science, we must become apprentices under the supervision of good authority. So, Proverbs focuses on listening to the correct authorities (such as parents) and ignoring the wrong ones (like the lascivious woman of Proverbs 7).
But wisdom should not be deflated to a religious view of knowing. Chemist-turned-philosopher Michael Polanyi offered a view of scientific knowledge that overlaps nicely with what we find in the Scriptures. How scientists know, as discoverers of our world, mimics and formalizes how all discovery happens.
Moreover, everyday human discovery is exactly what we find in the biblical texts. Both the Bible and scientists value wise knowing—skilled discernment—as the height of human knowing.
For instance, we find many accounts of communal discovery in the Scriptures. Those who have the skill to discern what goes beyond appearance try to help the people of Israel see skillfully. As Moses guided Israel to discern that YHWH is her God, we also find Jesus guiding his disciples to discern the “secret of the kingdom of God.”
Throughout Scripture, and particularly in the wisdom literature (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs), the wise are those who skillfully see reality under the authoritative guidance of God who guides Israel through His prophets: the experts. Think of the proverb:
Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.
Without having any chief, officer, or ruler,
she prepares her bread in summer
and gathers her food in harvest. (Prov. 6:6–8)
Our wise guide in the Proverbs tries to get us to “look again” at the reality of an ant in order to see what cannot be seen: the value of preparation. Jesus does the same with ravens and lilies. The skilled one discerns God’s provision beyond just the birds and flowers at which she is looking (Luke 12:24–31).
Scientific Inquiry as Wisdom
In my book Biblical Knowing, I outline specific ways in which scientific knowledge relies on many factors found in Scripture: trust between scientists, testimony, community, apprenticeship, and the embodied practices of working scientists. While many scientists might still be stuck in old models of science that naively depict scientists as people who objectively collect data in order to confirm hypotheses, Polanyi demonstrated that good scientific inquiry requires community.
And furthermore, scientists are not dispassionate clinical individuals. Passionate scientists know scientifically when they do so within a trusted community of scientists.
In Polanyi’s view of scientific knowledge, the skill of knowing requires apprenticeship under a senior scientist. Polanyi suggests that honing the skills necessary to practice good scientific inquiry requires a time in which the novice scientist submits to the authority of the senior scientist.
That senior scientist—the wise expert—must guide the novice to see beyond the surface of cells, chemicals, nebulae, and more. The expert guides the novice to sift through complex observations, to notice what is significant, to recognize a pattern, and so on. Honing this expertise develops discernment—being able to see what one could not previously see because of such training. Only after submitting to that training can a novice become wise.
Importantly, while we are training in wisdom—fostering the skill of discerning—we also must trust the instruction of our biology professor. Apart from them, we won’t be able to tell what is significant in our observations, and what is merely background noise.
Israel’s Wisdom Training
So it is for Israel. While the Israelites are enslaved in Egypt, they must rely upon Moses’ authoritative directions in order to know YHWH and the Abrahamic promises. The Hebrews had to actually trust God, but God also saw it as His task to give them good reasons to trust Moses and Himself. Surprisingly, even the motivation for Israel’s freedom from Egypt, which God repeatedly stated, was so that Israel would skillfully see all the plagues as reasons to know YHWH as her God (for instance, “You all shall know that I am YHWH your God”—see Exodus 6:7; 7:17; 10:2).
However, notice that smearing blood on a doorpost, leaving Egypt, or even walking through an open sea are not things that directly correlate to knowing God in any obvious way. Only by following Moses’ instructions—like the biology professor’s lab instructions—and considering all of these wonders as coming from YHWH could Israel “know that I am YHWH your God.”
If Israel were to wisely discern YHWH as her God, then Israel must pay attention to the instructions of Moses. And according to Polanyi, it is the same for scientists.
This should not be reduced to a plea for Israel’s blind trust, or that antagonistic use of “faith” as it’s commonly understood in the West. Rather, in the scientist’s training and the exodus of Israel, there are reliable reasons given for trusting the guidance of an authority.
The Christian Scriptures focus intensely on apprenticing under the correct authorities—those who skillfully discern God’s structures and patterns in this world beyond mere appearances. Wisdom, then—for the scientist and for Christians in community—requires identifying and submitting ourselves to be taught discernment by such authorities.
This essay first appeared on qideas.org.
Credits for the pictures used in CHT content can be found at: hebraicthought.org/credits
Sermon: The Wisdom of God
Scriptures: Romans 16, 1 Corinthians 1
When the Apostle Paul closes what is the magnum opus of Christian doctrine in the Bible, he breaks into song! It’s only right that he do so. How should you tie off the greatest story ever told? After walking through the grand reasons behind God’s rescuing love for rebel sinners, only a doxology will do.
So with a heart that is full and a mind on fire, Paul intones the words of Rom. 16:25-27: “Now to Him who has power to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the sacred secret kept silent for long ages, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic Scriptures, according to the command of the eternal God, to advance the obedience of faith among all nations – to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ – to Him be the glory forever! Amen.”
Notice the in last phrases of the entire book of Romans, Paul emphasizes one attribute of God – His wisdom. Verse 27: “to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be glory forever! Amen.” My aim in this message, as it has been in every message under the banner of SEEING GOD FOR WHO HE IS, is to open a window in your mind to the infinite expanses of God. And particularly this morning, my goal is to display before you the wisdom of God, so that you see it more clearly and admire Him more intensely and trust Him more firmly and therefore obey Him more consistently and joyfully. (Pray)
I. Wisdom defined
One main statement will dominate the next several minutes in my speaking. I call you to let it take hold in your thoughts first, and then, by the Holy Spirit’s enabling, in your heart as well. The statement is simple and deep: God is infinitely wise. I want to unpack that for a moment and then we will see that flowing from that truth is a perspective-shaping, comfort-giving, anxiety-killing, prayer-inducing implication that will revolutionize your life if you will take it as you own.
Let me start with a definition: “Wisdom,” in the Bible, “is knowing the greatest goal in any situation, and the best way to achieve that goal.” (Sermon by John Piper, “The Great Work of the Only Wise God”, based on Romans 16:25-27) Wisdom sees the big picture, in focus, each part in its proper relationship to rest. Wisdom is different from knowledge. You can have knowledge without wisdom. There are a lot of brilliant fools. But you cannot have wisdom without knowledge, because in order to discern the best way to achieve a goal, you have to be able to integrate, to fuse together all kinds of factors from various sources of knowledge and experience.
Now, take up this attribute and think about God. And while you’re connecting those dots, listen to the psalmist say of God, “His understanding is infinite” (Ps. 147:5). Listen to Jeremiah pray to the “great and mighty God whose name is the Lord of Hosts, the One great in counsel and mighty in deed, whose eyes are on all the ways of the sons of men in order to give to each person according to his ways and the result of his deeds.” (Jeremiah 32:19).
When Daniel described God’s wisdom, he wrote, “He changes the times and seasons; He removes kings and establishes kings. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals the deep and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with Him.” (Dan. 2:21-22) Nothing’s ever a mystery to God. He is never puzzled or confused or uncertain.
Paul tries to talk about the wisdom of God, and when he does, it moves to praise: “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments and untraceable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been His counselor? Or who has ever first given to Him, and has to be repaid? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.” (Rom. 11:33-36)
What the apostle is saying is that God’s wisdom is very deep – so deep that His judgments are unsearchable. I can’t get there from here; it’s beyond me. God’s wisdom is so deep that His ways are untraceable. I can’t follow what He’s doing without being hopelessly over my head. It is so deep that no one has been or could be His counselor, ever.
In fact, the wisdom of God is so deep and so expansive that He does not and cannot increase in wisdom. The only way He could increase in wisdom is for something to come into God’s mind that has not already come out of God’s mind. But Romans 11:36 insists that this cannot be done: for from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.
So God’s actions are always perfectly wise. There are no upgrades to His wisdom that are needed or even available. Think about this: God is constantly synthesizing billions and billions of strands of data, drawn from all possible fields of knowledge and realms of experience, so that He holds every relevant factor in every situation with total and perfect knowledge. He constantly weighs the facts, implications, costs, consequences, and how it fits into His purposes with flawless skill, so that what He does or wills is always the best possible move that can be made. And God does this all the time, without the least strain and without crashing a hard drive.
Does anybody on earth understand this? No way. He is totally out of our league. Do we trust Him more because of it? Well, let’s see. I’m going to draw a massive implication from the wisdom of God that is challenging to consider. Are you ready?
II. One life-altering implication of God’s wisdom
“The wisdom of God tells us that God will bring about the best possible results, by the best possible means, for the most possible people, for the longest possible time.” (Charles Ryrie, quoted by Chip Ingram in God: As He Longs For You To See Him, p. 128.) Let’s say that out loud and weigh the words as they pass through our mouths. (Repeat)
Now run that around the block in your present experience. Take that home with you and see how it works. What this implication from God’s wisdom means is that whatever your life is like right now, God is wisely and sovereignly ordering your circumstances to do something in you, through you, in your marriage, in your family, in your work, in your witness, and in your worship that could not be accomplished any other way.
If there was a better way to accomplish these purposes, then you would be experiencing those other circumstances instead of what you are right now. If there was a kinder, faster, more expedient way, God would be using it. So the circumstances you are in right now are exactly what you need for this period in your life.
Let me ask you something: Would it change things for you if you firmly believed that the problem in your life that is pressing and difficult – the one you don’t understand, that you chafe against, that makes you feel overwhelmed and ready to give up – was orchestrated or allowed by an all-wise, loving Father to bring about the best possible, longest lasting results for His glory and your good?
Would it make a difference if you understood that your life is not God’s Plan B or Plan C – that it is always and only Plan A, designed specifically for you while you live in this fallen world? What is everything in your life was a part of His wise plan? What would happen to your anxiety level? How would that affect your confidence in God?
But it’s right here where we push back. “I would love to believe that, Lloyd, but it doesn’t add up in my life. You call what has happened to me the best possible circumstances for me right now? And it’s going to produce the best possible outcome! What outcome is God shooting for? I lost my baby! My son was killed in a car wreck. The storm took everything I had. I got a pink slip. My husband beat me. You’re telling me that this is the best! I can think of better ways toward better outcomes. I don’t buy it!”
All over this room, there are circumstances that defy any connection with this teaching. Those circumstances contradict phrases like “best possible” because they are awful, scaring, and painful. There are two things with which I want to plead with you to consider:
1. Remember that our experience of the wisdom of God comes in a fallen world.
This is not the best of all possible worlds, but one that lies under the shadow of the Fall of man. All creation groans and travails under the mighty shock of the Fall, when sin entered this world and death by sin. In this present evil world, God’s wisdom does not necessarily shield His children from sin or calamity, nor punish wicked people in their sin. Right now, in His wisdom, “He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matt. 5:45). But one day, all will be set right.
You have His Word on that in places like Galatians 6:7 where the Bible says, “Do not be deceived” (Don’t be fooled by the delay in the full execution of God’s perfect justice so that you think that He lets the wicked off the hook): “God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows he will also reap.” You can believe this: God will see to it in full on the day of His judgment.
2. Remember the wisdom of God in securing your salvation.
Everything about God’s plan to save us through Christ looked doomed to fail. A teenage girl in a stable in a little flea-bag town? A carpenter’s son? And then consider the disciples Jesus chose to whom He would delegate His cause. Not exactly your top-of-the-class group.
But the most foolish move of all was the crucifixion. I Corinthians 1:21-24 connects this for us: “For since, in God’s wisdom, the world did not know God through wisdom” (In other words, God rejected the possibility of salvation by human intellect and wisdom. We will see why in a moment.) “… God was pleased to save those who believe through the foolishness of the message preached. For the Jews ask for signs and the Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles. Yet to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is God’s power and God’s wisdom.”
In God’s infinite wisdom, He chose a way of salvation through Christ that looks totally insane to us. No one on earth would have come up with a plan involving the brutal murder of the Son of God for sinners. Yet at precisely the most foolish-looking moment, God’s wisdom triumphs. And at the point of His greatest weakness, God’s power is unleashed. Verse 25: “because God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.”
In God’s all-wise plan, this was the perfect way to achieve the greatest goal. What goal? Skip to v. 31: “Therefore, as it is written, ‘The one who boasts must boast in the Lord.'” This is what His wisdom was aiming at. God chose us, purchased us, called us, and given to us everything else involving our salvation in such a way as to strip us of all self-congratulation and replace it with glorying only in the Lord.
I make this point for this reason: you and I don’t know enough to fathom why pain and suffering and injustice and brutality happens to us in this sin-wrecked world. Like Job, we come to God with our questions. But in the end, God simply points out that in the grand scope of things, we know nothing. Suggesting our “better plan” to help God out is like proposing “1 + 1” to Einstein. When it comes to divine wisdom, we haven’t been there and we haven’t done that.
It takes time and repeated lessons in humility to bring us to the place where we can rest in His wisdom and trust His plan. But there are a few spiritual booster shots that can help us get there:
1. Wise Living Starts With Fearing the Lord.
Prov. 9:10: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Fearing the Lord is basically this: you recognize that He is the Creator, your Master, the Lord of all; He’s holy and awesome and calls the shots. And in response you willingly submit yourself to Him and His plan for your life. Without this, there is no wisdom. It starts with salvation. It continues in reverent humility.
2. Wise Living Grows by Receiving God’s Word.
Wise living grows by receiving God’s Word. Ps. 19:7 says, “The instruction of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is trustworthy, making the inexperienced wise.” Nothing can match the Bible for showing you the mind of God. The more you sink roots in God through His Word, the more wisdom will mark your life.
3. Wise Living Requires that We Ask for It Specifically.
James 1:5-6: “Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith without doubting. For the doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind.” In other words, you don’t come to God for a second opinion. We come to God to say, “Overwrite your wisdom on this, Lord. Whatever you show me, I will follow.”
A.W. Tozer, in The Knowledge of the Holy, wrote these words about God’s wisdom in our lives: “To believe actively that our Heavenly Father constantly spreads around us providential circumstances that work for our present good and our everlasting well-being brings to the soul a veritable benediction. Most of us go through life praying a little, planning a little, jockeying for position, hoping but never being quite certain of anything, and always secretly afraid that we will miss the way. This is a tragic waste of truth and never gives rest to the heart.
“There is a better way. It is to repudiate our own wisdom and take instead the infinite wisdom of God… God has charged Himself with full responsibility for our eternal happiness and stands ready to take over the management of our lives the moment we turn in faith to Him.” (A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy, p. 63.)
10 Key Bible Verses on Wisdom and Discernment
This article is part of the Key Bible Verses series.
1. Proverbs 1:7
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The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction. Read More
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This is the core maxim of the book: the quest for wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord (cf. Ps. 9:10 and Ps. 111:10, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom”). “Knowledge” and “wisdom” are closely tied together in Proverbs: “knowledge” tends to focus on correct understanding of the world and oneself as creatures of the magnificent and loving God, while “wisdom” is the acquired skill of applying that knowledge rightly, or “skill in the art of godly living”. On the fear of the Lord, see notes on Acts 5:5; 9:31; Rom. 3:18; Phil. 2:12–13; 1 Pet. 1:17; 1 John 4:18. The reason that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of both knowledge and wisdom is that the moral life begins with reverence and humility before the Maker and Redeemer. The idea of a quest for knowledge sets biblical wisdom in the broad context of the ancient Near Eastern quest for truth, and this verse also validates such a quest as legitimate and good. Thus it affirms a kind of “creational revelation,” the idea that one can find moral and theological truth through observing the world.
At the same time, it distinguishes the biblical pursuit of knowledge and wisdom from those of the surrounding cultures, for it asserts that submission to the Lord is foundational to the attainment of real understanding (cf. Ps. 111:10; Prov. 9:10). By using the covenant name “the LORD” in preference to the more generic “God,” this verse makes the point that truth is found through Israel’s God. In addition, the verse asserts that fools despise wisdom and instruction, thus setting up the alternative between the two ways of wisdom and folly. This contrast dominates the entire book, as the way of wisdom, righteousness, and the fear of the Lord is set against the way of folly, evil, and scoffing.
2. Proverbs 3:5–6
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Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.* Read More
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Subordinating one’s own understanding to the Lord is in keeping with the major thesis of Proverbs, that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. Trust in the LORD is necessary for fulfilling any of the wise ways of life taught in Proverbs; trusting the Lord is closely connected to “fearing” him (cf. Prov. 1:7; 2:5; Prov. 9:10; Prov. 15:33; Prov. 19:23; etc.). “With all your heart” indicates that trust goes beyond intellectual assent to a deep reliance on the Lord, a settled confidence in his care and his faithfulness to his word. “Do not lean on your own understanding” further explains trusting in the Lord. One’s “understanding” in Proverbs is his perception of the right course of action. The wise will govern themselves by what the Lord himself declares, and will not set their own finite and often-mistaken understanding against his.
To make straight a person’s paths means to make the course of the person’s life one that continually progresses toward a goal. In Proverbs, the emphasis is on the moral quality of one’s life path (here, its moral “straightness”).
3. James 1:5
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If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. Read More
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Believers are to have an undivided faith, asking for wisdom from their ever-wise and all-generous God. James addresses the believer who lacks wisdom in handling trials. Wisdom, as in the Old Testament, is a God-given and God-centered discernment regarding the practical issues in life. Wisdom comes from prayer for God’s help. God gives generously (with “single-minded” liberality) and without reproach (he does not want anyone to hesitate to come to him).
4. Ephesians 5:6–10
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Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Read More
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Paul is not telling Christians to avoid all contact with nonbelievers but to avoid joining with them in their sin. The Bible gives general principles for life, but followers of Christ must use wisdom to discern how to apply those principles to the concrete issues of their lives. The book of Proverbs is of great help in this regard. Such wisdom may be defined as “the skill of godly living,” which one must thoughtfully discern, apply, and practice in order to live in a way that is pleasing to the Lord.
5. 1 John 4:1
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Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. Read More
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Christian faith is not spiritual gullibility. The unseen spiritual influences that guide people’s speech and actions can be “tested” by observing their doctrine and conduct as well as by the gift of spiritual discernment (cf. 1 Cor. 12:10; 14:29). False prophets are people who claim to speak for God but are actually speaking by demonic influence (1 John 4:3–4). In today’s age of “tolerance,” discriminating discernment can be viewed as being judgmental (cf. “Judge not,” Matt. 7:1). Yet Jesus also taught, “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment” (John 7:24).
6. Romans 12:2
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Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Read More
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The present evil age still threatens those who belong to Christ, so they must resist its pressure. Their lives are changed as their minds are made new (contrast Rom. 1:28), so that they are able to “discern” God’s will. By testing you may discern translates Greek dokimazō, which often has the sense of finding out the worth of something by putting it to use or testing it in actual practice (cf. Luke 14:19; 1 Cor. 3:13; 2 Cor. 8:22; 1 Tim. 3:10).
7. James 3:13–18
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Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. Read More
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These verses could be called “the tale of two cities”—the realm of wisdom (framing the passage in James 3:13, 17) contrasted with that of selfish ambition. The one “from above” leads to “peace,” while the “earthly” one leads to “disorder.”
Wisdom for James is not merely intellectual but also behavioral. Meekness (Gk. prautēs, translated “gentleness” in Gal. 5:23) was considered weakness by the Greeks, but Jesus elevated it to a primary Christian virtue (Matt. 5:5; 11:29). Meekness comes not from cowardice or passivity but rather from trusting God and therefore being set free from anxious self-promotion.
8. Matthew 7:24
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Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. Read More
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A parable brings the Sermon on the Mount to a close as Jesus calls for his audience to decide between himself and the religious establishment, drawing a dividing line between himself and any other foundation for life. The evidence of whether one is truly a believer is in whether one does the words of Jesus (cf. James 1:22–23 and James 2:20–22). Disciples who build their lives on the bedrock of Jesus and his message of the kingdom of heaven are truly wise, regardless of the shifting cultural or religious fashions.
9. Philippians 1:9–10
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And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ. Read More
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The first petition in Paul’s prayer is that God would cause the cardinal Christian virtue of love to abound more and more, and that it would be accompanied by knowledge and all discernment, so that the Philippians’ love would find expression in wise actions that would truly benefit others and glorify God. As Christians grow in their understanding of what it means to follow Jesus, they will increasingly be able to affirm and practice what is excellent. Such joyful obedience to God will give them the confidence of being found pure and blameless when Jesus returns. This does not imply instantaneous spiritual perfection but rather an increasing likeness to Christ. But fruit of righteousness is not produced in the believer’s own power. Because that fruit comes through Jesus Christ, it will result in the glory and praise of God.
10. Romans 11:33–35
Read the Passage
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
“For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been his counselor?”
“Or who has given a gift to him
that he might be repaid?” Read More
Read the Commentary
As he concludes his setting forth of God’s great plan in the history of salvation (Rom. 1–11), Paul breaks forth into praise. God’s wisdom and ways are far beyond the understanding of human beings, and hence he deserves all the glory.
The words of Isaiah 40:13 teach that no human being knows the mind of the Lord apart from revelation, and no one can serve as God’s adviser. Likewise the majestic words of Job 41:11 are a reminder that no one ultimately gives anything to God. Instead, everything humans have is a gift from God (1 Cor. 4:7).
Since all things are from God, and through God, and for God, it follows that he deserves all the glory forever. God’s saving plan brings him great honor, praise, and glory forever and ever.
All commentary sections adapted from the ESV Study Bible.
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90,000 Biblical wisdom for every day of life
Parable of the day
There are 31 parables in the Bible, just to read one parable every day, taking into account the fact that every month there are from 28 to 31 days 🙂 Today we read parable number 15. Commentaries on the parables are taken from the edition of the New Geneva Study Bible. The texts of the Bible and this commentary you can get in the free program “Quote from the Bible” in the section Soft-creatures of our website.
1. A meek answer turns away anger, but an offensive word stirs up anger.
2. The tongue of the wise communicates good knowledge, but the mouth of the fool spews out stupidity.
3. The eyes of the Lord are in every place: they see the evil and the good.
4. A meek tongue is a tree of life, but an unbridled tongue is a broken spirit.
5. A fool neglects the instruction of his father; but he who hears reproof is prudent.
6. In the house of the righteous is an abundance of treasures, but in the gain of the wicked is disorder.
7. The lips of the wise spread knowledge, but the heart of the foolish is wrong.
8. The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but the prayer of the righteous is pleasing to Him.
9. An abomination to the Lord is the way of the wicked, but He loves the one walking the way of righteousness.
10. An evil punishment is for those who deviate from the path, and he who hates reproof will perish.
11. Hell and Abaddon [are open] before the Lord, much less the hearts of the sons of men.
12. The dissolute does not like those who convict him, and will not go to the wise.
13. A cheerful heart makes the face happy, but when the heart is in sorrow, the spirit becomes discouraged.
14. The heart of the prudent seeks knowledge, but the mouth of the foolish feeds on foolishness.
15. All the days of the unfortunate are sad; and he who has a cheerful heart always has a feast.
16. Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than a great treasure with anxiety.
17. Better is a dish of herbs, and with it love, than a well-fed bull, and with it hatred.
18. A hot-tempered person stirs up strife, and a patient one calms strife.
19. The path of the lazy is like a lane of thorns, but the path of the righteous is smooth.
20. A wise son makes his father happy, but a foolish man despises his mother.
21. Foolishness is a joy for a person with little intelligence, but a reasonable person walks the straight path.
22. Without advice, enterprises will be upset, but with many advisors, they will take place.
23. Joy to a man in the answer of his lips, and how good is a word at the right time!
24. The path of the life of the wise is upward, in order to avoid the underworld below.
25. The Lord will destroy the house of the haughty, but he will strengthen the border of the widow.
26. The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord, but the words of the blameless are pleasing to Him.
27. The greedy one will upset his house, but the one who hates gifts will live.
28. The heart of the righteous ponders the answer, but the lips of the wicked vomit out evil.
29. The Lord is far from the wicked, but hears the prayer of the righteous.
30. A bright look gladdens the heart, good news makes bones fat.
31. An ear attentive to the teaching of life dwells among the wise.
32.He who rejects instruction does not care about his soul; but he who hears reproof acquires reason.
33. The fear of the Lord teaches wisdom, and humility precedes glory.
Bible online, Hebrew translation == BIBLE CENTER
Continuing the conversation about the spiritual life, Jacob speaks of humility as its unshakable foundation. Modern usage has completely distorted the meaning of this concept. Humility today is most often understood as something in between…
Continuing the conversation about the spiritual life, Jacob speaks of humility as its unshakable foundation. Modern usage has completely distorted the meaning of this concept. Today, humility is most often understood as something between non-resistance to evil and indifferent fatalism according to the principle “that will, that bondage is all one.” And in a religious environment, humility also means a certain demeanor, which it would be more accurate to call not humility, but humility: lowered eyes, a quiet voice, constrained movements …
Meanwhile, nothing of the kind is meant by humility in the biblical books …A meek or humble person may not even be very much like a humble person in our current understanding.
As an example, you can recall, for example, Moses, who is called in the Book of Exodus “the meekest of men.” Obviously, the Bible does not mean indifference or special behavior by humility. This is clearly about something else. And if you look at the same Moses, for example, or at other people whom the authors of the biblical books call humble, it becomes clear what makes them all in common and what exactly is called humility in the Bible.It is primarily about the complete surrender of each of them to the will of God.
Outwardly, the life of each of these people may be very different from the life of any other, but none of them lived by their own free will. Of course, God does not force anyone to obey Him. He only offers a person His participation in his life. Man is free. But if he wants a full-fledged relationship with God, the easiest way is to place his life at the disposal of the One who gave it. And to act henceforth only with His knowledge.
Of course, it is quite possible that God leaves some things to the discretion of man. But it is important that permission to act at one’s own discretion came from Him, and not from the person himself. In the words of the apostle, not “let’s go and do it”, but “if God wants, let’s go and do it”. And this is not a formality, not an empty reservation.
Here the correlation of two wills: God’s and human. The same correlation, which, if it becomes absolute, by itself will exclude any internal hesitation and vacillation, not to mention that internal duality, which Jacob calls double-mindedness.Otherwise – vanity, an illusion of life, attempts to achieve a goal that never end in success, and surprise that God does not answer prayers and does not listen to requests. The likeness of life instead of real life. Outer darkness instead of the Kingdom.
90,000 Wisdom and love
- The apocrypha provide many details that are not found in the Holy Scriptures.
- The Ethiopian Church, one of the oldest Christian churches, thinks of itself as going back to the meeting between King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.
- The image of the Queen of Sheba is a symbol of the fact that the Bible testifies to a certain equality of the sexes.
Yakov Krotov: This issue of the program is dedicated to the biblical apocrypha about King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. What is Apocrypha? Why isn’t it the Bible?
Our guest is historian Mikhail Roshchin from the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Academy of Sciences and biblical scholar Pavel Gerasimov .
Mikhail Roshchin: In the Bible, in the Old Testament, this is the third Book of Kingdoms and the second Book of Kebra Nagast – it is said about it about the same, this is such a short account of what really happened.The very fact of the visit of the Queen of Sheba, obviously, was, otherwise the report would not have survived. On the other hand, for the Jewish tradition, perhaps, there was some test here, because she was not a Jew, however, she adopted monotheism.
And the Third Book of Kingdoms says that the queen of Sheba received everything she wanted from Solomon, and withdrew to her country. The Sabaean kingdom was in Yemen and reached a high development, and the Savi, like the ancient Greeks and Phoenicians, founded colonies, but on the territory of modern Ethiopia.Therefore, I think that the Queen of Sheba, as the Ethiopians call her, Makeda, came from Ethiopia, and since the land there was at that time fertile, she brought many valuables and a tree that King Solomon used to build the temple.
Yakov Krotov: And where does the biblical story end and the apocrypha begin? And in general, when is this apocryphal – pre-Christian, post-Christian?
Pavel Gerasimov: I would look at it differently.We have a New Testament, which is accompanied by interpretations, explanations, historical stories, teachings. The Old Testament Church is also a God-revealed Church; she was also the true Church before the coming of Christ. It is hard to believe that the Holy Scriptures of the Jews existed in isolation and would not have been accompanied by commentaries. The Old Testament Apocrypha are, obviously, some records of the Jewish tradition that have come down to us, the ancient Jewish Church. And since this story is reflected in the Bible, it is certainly interesting.Ethiopia is a famous country, both in antiquity and in Russia there was great interest in it, because this is the East, something mysterious. All this together builds up a beautiful picture that describes the history from Adam to modern times.
Yakov Krotov: How real is it that the Ethiopians themselves say that their Church is the most ancient and best preserved traditions and traditions, including circumcision?
The Chronicle tells much more than what is said in the short text of the Bible
Mikhail Roshchin: I think this is precisely the basis of the myth, the symbolic space, which was formed by what is set forth in the Ethiopian chronicle Kebra Nagast, that the Queen of Sheba really went to King Solomon.And in fact, the chronicle tells much more than what is said in the short text of the Bible. That is, there were riddles, there was a test of wisdom, and in the chronicle itself, by the way, it is said that the queen went to gain wisdom. She heard about the special wisdom of King Solomon, and it was a super task.
And then there was communication, there were large donations from the Queen of Sheba for the construction of the temple, and where the Bible falls silent, Kebra Nagast says that in fact they did not just meet, but they also had closer communication, and in the end she returned pregnant to Aksum, the ancient capital of Ethiopia, and there she gave birth to a boy, the son of King Solomon.
And then a new series begins, which cannot be traced to the end, but there is some kind of reality in it. When the boy grew up, the Queen of Sheba sent him to his father, he visited him, received a blessing and returned with the Jewish priests. And now it is believed that the black Jews who lived in Ethiopia came from those Jewish priests who arrived with the son of King Solomon. There is probably a large mythological layer there, but, nevertheless, there is a certain reality, which is partially confirmed by genetic research: DNA analysis shows that there is a certain connection.
Yakov Krotov: In the Tale of Bygone Years, the entire first part links the ancient history of Russia with the Old Testament history, and in the subsequent stories there are, as it were, parallels. Does this mean that for the people of Ancient Russia or Ethiopia, such an alignment of oneself with the Holy Scriptures is a way to fit in, to understand who you are in the world?
Pavel Gerasimov: Yes, of course. If we take the Word of Metropolitan Hilarion of Kiev, then, of course, he also connects the baptism of Rus with the general action of God’s providence and, in general, with the spread of revelation on earth.And the Tale of Bygone Years follows this worldview that, of course, the Lord had to spread the revelation throughout the earth, for all peoples, and, finally, the time has come for Russia. Ancient Russia had to find its place in world culture and history. And all these apocryphal added to many things that are not told in the Bible.
Yakov Krotov: In the Gospel, King Solomon, unlike King David, is mentioned in a rather peculiar context in the Sermon on the Mount: “Look at the wildflowers, they are more beautiful than King Solomon in his ceremonial clothes.”
Pavel Gerasimov: So it turns out that this Ethiopian apocryphal just fits into the general biblical story. Indeed, the Book of Kingdoms does not say the name of the Queen of Sheba, because everyone knew her, she was such a great figure that she was honored to enter the biblical story. She sought wisdom from Solomon and found it. This is the first such step. The second step is the Old Testament prophecy that Ethiopia will stretch out its hands to God. And then there is the New Testament, when the eunuch of the Queen of Kandakia receives baptism directly from the apostles.
Mikhail Roshchin: I thought about why the Queen of Sheba is not named in the Bible. The Ethiopians called the queen Makeda. She is not named in the Bible, I think, because the attitude of Judaism to this image was rather cautious, because the queen was still not Jewish. Therefore, calling her by name, perhaps, was considered superfluous. In the New Testament, in the Gospel of Luke, it says – “Queen of the South”. And as we know, Jesus attaches tremendous importance to it, says that “the Queen of Sheba will come to testify.”
Yakov Krotov: To testify about what?
Pavel Gerasimov: Solomon is the image of Christ.
Yakov Krotov: Prot.
Pavel Gerasimov: And she came to worship the one who received wisdom from God. It is, as it were, such an image of worship, relatively speaking, of secular and church wisdom, of the worship of the human mind to divine revelation. It also emphasizes that he received this wisdom not from himself, it was given to him by God, and this divine wisdom turned out to be superior to human.This figure is not only historical, but also moral, in many respects dogmatic and moralizing.
Yakov Krotov: And how important is it that the Queen of Sheba is a queen and not a king? After all, the society of that era was still patriarchal.
Mikhail Roshchin: It is believed that this was just the time of matriarchy. This is the 10th century BC, a very ancient time, and then such a patriarchal society in the classical sense did not yet exist, especially in those regions, in South Arabia, on the territory of modern Ethiopia.And the fact that she was a queen is just an interesting sign.
For me, the image of the Queen of Sheba is a vivid symbol of the fact that the Bible also testifies to a certain equality of the sexes. And the fact that this image of the queen turned out to be so alive that it has existed from the time of King Solomon to the era of the appearance of Jesus Christ, and in Arab legends, by the way, and in the world of Islam plays a colossal role, just like King Solomon himself, whom Muslims call Suleiman.
Yakov Krotov: For the average reader in the Old Testament, the most problematic thing in the Old Testament is Sophia, these are the hymns of wisdom, because there are hymns, and when you start reading the Books of Wisdom, a chill runs through your skin: the mind of a youth is on his back, not go to a rich man on a holiday, every cricket know your six and other common truths.I understand that three thousand years ago the idea of ”shut up – you will pass for clever” was clever and original, but still, what is wisdom for the Bible? Here is the judgment of King Solomon – understandably, it is witty, although I do not think it is specific to the Bible – a story about a child and an attempt to chop him up. But wisdom in the mind of the ancient biblical author and ours, modern – are they different things?
Solomon is a type of Christ
Pavel Gerasimov: Cultures change, but the person, by and large, remains the same.If we talk about the Holy Scriptures, then the Books of Wisdom are just the statements of smart people. Scripture speaks of salvation, and this salvation is a very complex concept. In particular, in the Books of Wisdom, very simple everyday truths are expressed, following which one can achieve salvation.
Mikhail Roshchin: Here we must not overlook an important aspect. First, under King Solomon, the construction of the temple began, and besides, when the Queen of Sheba came to King Solomon, the cult of the Sun and the Moon was practiced in their land.
Yakov Krotov: This is according to the apocrypha? There is no such thing in the Holy Scriptures.
Mikhail Roshchin: It is hinted in the Holy Scriptures that she adopted monotheism. We have wisdom, it turns out, this is the acceptance of theistic views, monotheism. And I would also emphasize that later, after the first visit of the Queen of Sheba, when my son went there, I managed to take out the ark of the covenant. This remains a big mystery, but, nevertheless, the ark of the covenant, according to the Ethiopians, is still kept in one of the churches of Axum.
Pavel Gerasimov: In the Bible, the fate of the ark of the covenant is not clear, it disappears there during the Babylonian captivity. And here we have it. Someone has the Savior’s crown of thorns, someone has nails, and it is quite natural to talk about the possession of Christian religious shrines. Of course, the Apocrypha provide a host of details that are not found in the Holy Scriptures.
Yakov Krotov: My question is more about the spirit. Until the IV century, there was no veneration of relics, which unfolded in the earlier Middle Ages and even reached our days, there was no such hunt for shrines, the same nails, for the cross of the Lord, no one was looking for it.And then like an explosion – this is such a cult of relics. The first Christians lived without this, and in the Apostle Paul we will not find anything about this, only everything is somehow about the Holy Spirit. So this is a slightly different Christianity?
Mikhail Roshchin: Yes, but I think it has nothing to do with the ark of the covenant. The Ark of the Covenant for the Ethiopian Church is, rather, a symbol of the fact that the Church is ancient, that the tradition goes back to the Queen of Sheba, and through her to King Solomon. A copy of the ark is kept in almost all Ethiopian churches, although there is a main one that is hiding, and there are different stories about it, but it is obvious that it exists.
And the fact that nails, relics and so on have already begun to be read, it seems to me, has nothing to do with the idea itself. The Ark is a symbol of monotheism, and this is important for Ethiopians. We forget that different regions develop at different rates, and the same Ethiopians, the inhabitants of the south of the Arabian Peninsula, were certainly more developed in their time than many neighboring peoples, but later they somehow lagged behind in development.
In the same Russia, there were well-known texts about the Solomon’s courts and riddles.In some cases, perhaps, the apocrypha also contained what was not, but what the authors would like to see. I think that is why the Orthodox tradition tried to somehow separate this, saying that there are good texts that can be read, and there are bad ones. The Apocrypha cannot be read during the service, but outside of the service it was allowed to read them. As we know, many apocryphal was also circulated in Russia.
Yakov Krotov: And what does the apocrypha about King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba give, which does not give a brief chronicle of the third Book of Kingdoms? And yet the king in the Gospel is Herod, his son, and all the others are still something not very good.And when the Jews demand a monarchy for themselves, like among other nations, the Lord through the prophet tells them: you do not understand very well what you are demanding, it will be very bad for you from the king, he will take taxes and tyrannize you. And the Apocrypha in this sense is also very focused on earthly power, money, wealth. And the Queen of Sheba in this sense is not a symbol of heavenly Sophia, but also a thirst to find something somewhere far away, also some kind of utopia, not even Christian, but maybe even anti-Christian. Here salvation leaves by grace – salvation from money, from relics, from magic …
Pavel Gerasimov: Here we still need to separate the Old Testament and New Testament apocrypha.In the Old Testament, revelation was largely associated with material well-being and with physical strength, because grace did not yet exist. And the Old Testament decrees, the Sinai law, which the Lord gave to Moses, and then he added it (civil, criminal, religious code), is quite tough. There was no inner transforming power, as in Christianity, inner grace did not work, and everything had to be rigidly built on the earthly plane. And earthly greatness was a clear manifestation of divine favor.From here such fabulous stories.
Of course, the Gospel text is completely different, it talks about inner strength, about inner transformation. And the apocryphal adds those details that are necessary for anyone who reads the Bible. There is a story in the Bible, and everything is very simple there: the Queen of Sheba came to Solomon to seek wisdom, they exchanged gifts, and she left. In this form, the story is incomprehensible in itself, it demanded explanations, and this explanation could not but remain.
Yakov Krotov: And is there this line of stability in Russian Orthodoxy?
Pavel Gerasimov: Of course! If grace is strength, then it manifests itself not in endless illnesses, but in many ways.
Yakov Krotov: In that a firm hand takes the rod and whips a child? What kind of grace is this?
Pavel Gerasimov: If a child is strong, then he needs an appropriate influence. People have different characters, and there are people who understand hints, and there are people who need to be told straightforwardly. Of course, I am not for the rod, but we are talking about the culture of the Middle Ages.
Yakov Krotov: Is it really over?
In the Orthodox Church there is always the Middle Ages, this medieval culture seems to be normative
Pavel Gerasimov: I believe that in the Orthodox Church there is always the Middle Ages, this medieval culture is, as it were, normative.
Yakov Krotov: And what kind of medieval culture? Father George Florovsky believed that it was Byzantine, and he deeply despised Russian.
Pavel Gerasimov: These cultures, of course, are different, because Byzantinism is not a national culture, but a universal concept, a way of thinking.
Yakov Krotov: And is Russian Orthodox culture a particular, private, provincial?
Pavel Gerasimov: No.She’s just Russian! There are no national Greek features, continuity with the Roman Empire, for example. In the Tale of Bygone Years, in ancient Russian literature, it is still said about the continuity of the Byzantine and later emperors.
Yakov Krotov: Of course, Prince Vladimir takes the name in honor of the Byzantine Basileus – Vasily. But then we again go back to King Solomon and the Old Testament, because the Gospel is an explosion of grace. In essence, this is the destruction of the temple.King Solomon builds it, Herod rebuilds it with difficulty, and now it is destroyed, and this is the will of God. So, this is some kind of break with the psychology of King Solomon?
Pavel Gerasimov: Unfortunately, the Jewish people and the human race in general repeatedly violated the covenant that they entered into with God, and the Lord restored it every time. The Babylonian captivity is reflected in the prophecies, but it might not have happened if people had acted differently. It’s like an ideal God’s plan, and then deviations begin, and each time it’s building a new plan of salvation.
Yakov Krotov: Still, the Queen of Sheba in the Gospel is a symbol of some kind of qualitative breakthrough. She comes to worship not Herod, but the Messiah, which means that this is no longer an earthly power, but a heavenly one. Is there a betrayal of the spirit of Abraham’s revelations in such texts as the Apocrypha about King Solomon? The covenant made with a beggar, a vagabond, a cattle breeder, at some point gave birth to a great kingdom of Israel, but nevertheless, to consider that captivity is just a punishment for some sins … The revelation is about something else, that the poor in spirit are blessed , the kingdom of God is the kingdom of the exiled.And this ark of the covenant is not needed, the spear of Christ is not needed, magical objects that are chased after. Our faith is not in the ark, not in the holy places, but in the spirit of God. Therefore, the apocryphal is the apocryphal, and the word of God is the word of God.
Pavel Gerasimov: There are different apocrypha, there are decent ones, and there are indecent ones. If we take the New Testament apocrypha, then for example, the Proto-Gospel of Jacob is an apocrypha, but everything is decent there, it entered the tradition. And there are obscene apocrypha, where the Savior acts, for example, in the role of a punishing judge.
Yakov Krotov: And yet, where does the law end and grace begin? The story of the meeting between King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba is, it seems to me, a meeting of two poles of human existence.
Pavel Gerasimov: In the Old Testament, the king was the bearer of grace. Why doesn’t she come to bow to the wisdom of the prophet Samuel? There was also another life, kings came to kings. And this is not just a king, she came to him not as a king, but as the owner of a special unheard-of wisdom.
Yakov Krotov: That is, this story can be linked with the Book of Wisdom of Solomon and with Ecclesiastes?
Mikhail Roshchin: I think so. For me, this is also a symbolic meeting of two people, first of all, to gain wisdom. And the Ethiopian Church, one of the oldest Christian churches, thinks of itself as going back precisely to this meeting of King Solomon and Queen of Sheba. And the problem of black Jews, who appeared a long time ago – all this also had some providential meaning.
Yakov Krotov: To what extent are these two images – the great king who builds a great temple, and the embodied wisdom that goes to the temple, for a believer, is really a symbol of Christ?
Mikhail Roshchin: A prototype, I would say. Then people did not know Christ yet, so this is such an anticipation, a kind of approach to this.
Yakov Krotov: Do you have any book that, like an apocrypha, a bell, anticipating an encounter with the Holy Spirit? Well, apart from the Gospel, this is the meeting itself.
Pavel Gerasimov: If we talk about my personal path to God, then I had a different scheme, personal restructuring, and this was associated with astrology and many others.
Yakov Krotov: But this is also the path of wisdom – in search of knowledge, a person comes to the conclusion that it is not knowledge that is important.
Pavel Gerasimov: Yes, and thus the reality of the invisible world was revealed to me. Before that, I looked scientifically: they flew into space, and there is no God there.And culture is, of course, the path to God.
Yakov Krotov: In this sense, the story is apocryphal, even fictional, late and legendary, is it still a kind of pilgrimage to wisdom?
Pavel Gerasimov: There are three points here. The first is the threshold of true faith. The second point is for those who are already in faith: this is a statement of it, because the details complement the picture that has already taken shape. And the third point – maybe pedagogical, also for those who are already in the faith.
90,000 Literature of Wisdom: Ancient Israel and the Middle East
1. Biblical literature of wisdom and its general features.
In the collection of books of ancient Hebrew literature, which the Christian Church recognizes as the Holy Scripture of the Old Testament and which is also called the Hebrew Bible or Tanach, there is a special collection of texts belonging to the category of literature of wisdom, books of the wise. Literature of this kind also existed among Israel’s great neighbors – Egypt and Mesopotamia.The selection of wisdom literature in the Bible in modern biblical studies is beyond doubt. Difficulties arise in defining the clear boundaries of this literature in the biblical corpus.
The biblical books of wisdom traditionally include the Book of Job, the Book of Proverbs of Solomon, the Book of Ecclesiastes, as well as the non-canonical Book of the Wisdom of Jesus, the son of Sirach and the Book of the Wisdom of Solomon, which are absent in the Hebrew Bible, but available in the Septuagint. The literature of the school of wisdom sometimes includes the Song of Songs, part of the Psalms (1, 33, 36, 48, 73, 110, 111), the Book of Ruth, the Book of Tobit, as well as the narratives of the Book of Genesis about Joseph and the stories about Daniel in the Book of the Prophet Daniel.Most wisdom books are thus part of the biblical department of teaching books (in the Orthodox tradition) or part of the department of Scriptures (in the Jewish tradition). These books were created by various authors and editors over a long period – from the 10th to the 2nd century. BC What unites these books 1 ?
First, the books of the wise are united by the cultural and intellectual environment that gave rise to them. Both Israel and the peoples around it had folk wisdom at the origins of the literature of wisdom, reflecting the problems of family life, work, human relations with loved ones and strangers, problems of social justice.This wisdom, based on long-term everyday observations, found expression in apt and witty sayings, proverbs, and aphoristic sayings. Folk wisdom was distinguished by imagery, often borrowed from the nature that surrounded man, permeated with natural and agrarian themes. The books of wisdom undoubtedly reflect these folk origins. However, their direct origin is largely associated with the urban, school, and often court environment.
In urban conditions, life wisdom was accumulated and passed on among scribes, teachers, royal advisers.It was used in upbringing and education. In urban and court conditions, the collection of the books of the wise took place, acquaintance with the literature of the wisdom of other peoples 2 .
The very name of the literature of the wise implies that its authors are sages. The fact that the writings of the sages formed the basis of the third section of the Hebrew Bible speaks of the special role played by the sages in the religious and social life of the ancient Jewish people. About the sages, as a kind of “third force” (in the words of the famous researcher Robert B.J. Scott 3 ) in the life of the Old Testament people, says an excerpt from the book of the prophet Jeremiah, where the following words are put into the mouth of the enemies of the prophet: “Come, let us make up a plan against Jeremiah; for the law did not disappear from the priest, and the counsel from the wise, and the word from the prophet ”(Jer. 18:18). Three sections correspond to these three social forces in the Hebrew Bible: the Law (in many respects related to the activities of priests), Prophets (which tells about the prophets and conveys their words) and Scriptures (the fruit of the activities of the wise).It cannot be ruled out that the final editing of the first two sections of the Bible is also the result of the work of the wise. However, it is worth noting that the literature of the wise differs significantly from the books of the Law and the Prophets.
Secondly, the books of the wise are united by their anthropocentrism, a special perception of man, the fact that the topics covered in them are of a universal human nature. Literature of wisdom deals with the problems of human life in a changing world, human behavior under various circumstances, considers issues of human suffering and justice, draws an image of an ideal person who has the right qualities and does the right thing.The focus of the sages was on man. At the same time, they were often interested in just a person, a person by himself, a person beyond national, cultural, religious and social boundaries. Therefore, the works of literature of wise different peoples are so similar, therefore, the monuments of this literature were open for the widest interaction and mutual influence. A striking example of such interaction is the Book of Proverbs of Solomon, which is a collection of literary works of several nations.
The openness of the literature of the wise, the universality of the values and norms proclaimed by it, its practical significance for human life, its applied character testifies to its exotericity, i.e. addressing the widest audience 4 . And although S.S. Averintsev emphasized that the ancient literature of the Middle East was created by literate people, scribes and scribes for the same literate people, scribes and scribes 5 , the works of the literature of the wise could well be known to the widest audience.
The Bible books of the wise, like other books of this direction, are also distinguished by their openness. They often ignore the core themes of the Law and the prophets. They practically do not say anything about the religious ritual, the temple with its sacrifices, about the special chosenness of the people of God. If the prophets sometimes denounced the religious formalism of their contemporaries, preached universalism, then the topic of the special relationship between God and Israel was never abandoned by them, but was the core of their preaching. And this whole sacred story with its Revelation of God, the election of the people, the conclusion of the Covenant, with all the religious precepts, is practically absent in the books written by the sages.The authority for the biblical sages was primarily, in the words of Robert B.Y. Scott, “the disciplined mind and moral experience of a worthy person” 6 . But it was this intelligence and experience that brought them to the same point on which the priests and prophets based their words – to faith in Yahweh.
Thirdly, the books of the wise are united by the very theme of wisdom and their purpose – to provide practical help in order to gain wisdom in life. But what is this wisdom that these books speak of? The concept of wisdom in the Bible has several levels of meaning.In its primary meaning, this concept is far from abstract theorizing. It is closely related to action, practice, practical skills, abilities, and human behavior. In this sense, the Hebrew “Hochma” is quite consistent with the ancient Greek “Sophia.” Like Hochma, Sophia (in the original usage) is a practical skill, skill, dexterity (cunning), creative activity 7 . Erich Zenger very accurately defines the intercultural phenomenon of wisdom as practical knowledge of life or everyday knowledge gained through practice or aimed at achieving practical goals 8 .
But biblical wisdom is not just dexterity and skill in any particular business, which is acquired by the person himself (possessing certain abilities), it has to do with all human life. Wisdom is the art of correct life and human activity. Moreover, in the Bible, wisdom transcends human boundaries. She is not only a human quality. It is closely related to God, is a quality of the Divine Himself, it comes to man from God as a gift, is a way of God’s revelation.Biblical authors in the awareness of wisdom go even further: wisdom becomes Wisdom, acquires personal traits, is personified. Wisdom from the practical art of life is transformed into the (Pre) wisdom of God, participating in the creation of this world and appearing to man in Revelation. Therefore, the purpose of these books, ultimately, grows from teaching the rules of life, practical wisdom, into familiarization with Divine Wisdom, righteousness, into teaching the path leading to a special closeness to God.
The core of the literature of wisdom is the belief that there is a certain general order in the world, which must be followed by man.The Bible uses the terms “righteousness-righteousness” / “tzedaka” and “wisdom” / “Hochma” to denote this order. God the Creator is Wise and Righteous. He wisely created the world, created the world through his Wisdom. A person must partake of the Divine Wisdom and imitation of God becomes wise and correct, righteous. In Mesopotamia, the Sumerian term ME was used to designate this general world order, and in Egypt – the name of one of the goddesses – Maat.
Fourth, the books of the wise combine the peculiarities of their language and style.These books are dominated by poetic texts using various types of parallelism, acrosticism. E. Tsenger identifies four literary forms that are used in the books of interest to us: a dictum, an instructive speech, an instructive poem and an instructive story 9 .
Sayings are divided into proverbs (“stolen waters are sweet, and hidden bread is pleasant” (Proverbs 9:17)), maxims (“a fool does not like knowledge, but just to express his mind” (Proverbs 18: 2), sayings- riddles (“who has a howl? who has a groan? who has quarrels? who has grief? who has wounds for no reason? who has crimson eyes?”23:29)), numerical statements (“three things are incomprehensible to me and four I do not understand: the path of the eagle in the sky, the path of the serpent on the rock, the path of the ship in the middle of the sea and the path of a man to a girl” (Proverbs 30: 18-19) ), an appeal (“do not be between those who drink wine, between those who are satiated with meat: because the drunkard and the satiated will become impoverished and sleepiness will clothe them in rags” (Proverbs 23: 20-21)).
From a proverb, a person himself must draw a practical conclusion. The maxim speaks directly of the implied reality. The riddle is expressed using an interrogative sentence and encourages thought to motivate the right action.In a numeric statement, stepwise parallelism is used, and the main emphasis is on the phenomenon or situation mentioned at the end. The call directly indicates the need to perform a certain action, sometimes the result of this action is also reported.
An instructional discourse, usually addressed to a specific listener, includes an address, teaching, and conclusion, indicating the results of right and wrong behavior (Prov. 1: 8-19). The instructive poem does not have a direct addressee, but contains the sage’s reasoning about the meaning of life, happiness, peace, the history of the people, the Law.This kind of poem is characteristic of the Book of Ecclesiastes. In an instructive story, the truth of the doctrine is illustrated by an example from the life of a certain person (Job, Ruth, Tobit).
The biblical literature of the wise is distinguished by its characteristic vocabulary. It often uses words such as “wisdom” / “Hochma”, “sage” / “haham”, “understanding” / “Bina”, “understanding” / “mebin”, “daat” / “skill, knowledge”, Etsa / advice, decision, kesil / stupid, ibbelet / stupidity, evil / fool, tzedek / correct, tzedaka / correctness, righteousness “,” Musar “/” instruction “and others.The nature of the content of the books of wisdom is indicated not only by the presence of special words in their text, but also by the absence of specific words. For example, the Book of Proverbs of Solomon does not mention the temple, sacrifices, holidays, even the Sabbath at all, and the word “law” / “Torah” is used without the accompanying name of God or Moses 10 . As noted by J. Weinberg, this book is distinguished by a restrained interest in the realm of the divine and a special aspiration to the realm of the human 11 . The vocabulary used in the books of the wise confirms the above features, speaks of the environment in which these books arose, testifies to their anthropocentrism and purpose – worldly wisdom and righteousness.
Y. Assman speaks about the literature of wisdom as “fiction” literature. This literature, the researcher notes, “due to its lack of functional attachment to a specific context of use and also openness, up to inclusiveness, its thematic horizons, is capable of developing in much wider limits than religious verbal traditions proper” 12 . That is why in the books of the wise there is a certain radicalism, the formulation of unexpected and not quite “convenient” for traditional ideas of questions – about justice, the meaning of human suffering.
Researchers traditionally distinguish two directions of thought in the works of wisdom literature of ancient Middle Eastern peoples 13 .
The first direction reflects normative didactics, reflects generally accepted norms, assessments, for example, the idea that an evil person will receive retribution, and a good person will preserve well-being. The second direction is characterized by a protest against normative didactics, doubts about traditional views on human life and behavior, on the problem of suffering.Bible books of the second direction – the Book of Job and the Book of Ecclesiastes – create a certain intellectual tension. The protest of these books is not radical. After all, they hear a call to remain faithful to God and traditional values. But the answers these books provide to the complex questions of life may not seem convincing enough in the narrow framework of Old Testament revelation. The tension that these books generate is only relieved by the New Testament revelation, which makes the latter look desirable, very expected.So the peculiarity of this category of books of the wise is that they prepared human consciousness for the gospel message about the Kingdom of Heaven.
The Bible books of the wise are part of the vast ancient literature of wisdom, preserved from the peoples who once inhabited the Middle East – Egypt, Mesopotamia and the Eastern Mediterranean. Comparison of the monuments of this literature of different peoples testifies to the commonality of topics and problems, as well as to the undoubted cultural exchange that took place between the ancient Middle Eastern peoples.
2. Monuments of the interethnic school of wisdom. Ancient Egypt.
As already mentioned, in Egypt the idea of a rational order, which affects the whole world, nature and man, was designated by the word Maat. The violation of this ideal order (with which the ancient Egyptians, like all people, constantly faced) was called Isefet. According to Y. Assman, the Egyptian “saw reality not as a set of ordinary or extraordinary events and facts, but as Maat – the primordial completeness of meaning, manifesting itself in abundance and justice” 14 .To realize, to create Maat, the pharaoh was called, who was supposed to maintain justice on earth, provide people, pacify the gods with sacrifices, and the dead with offerings.
It is characteristic that the goddess Maat took an important place in the posthumous trial of man. One of the vignettes of chapter 125 of the Book of the Dead depicts a scene of the weighing of the deceased’s heart. In this picture, you can see that the goddess Maat or a feather, her symbol, is placed on the second pan of the scale 15 . Human heart (i.e.that is, his conscience) had to correspond to Maat (that is, Truth and Truth).
Important information about the Egyptian concept of Maat is found in Spell 80 from the Sarcophagus Texts. It speaks of Atum, the most ancient deity that arose by itself and gave birth to the god of air Shu and the goddess of moisture Tefnut. The text of the spell says that the name of the son of Atum Shu is “Life”, and the name of the daughter of Atum Tefnut is “Maat” Pravda 16 . These children of Atum were with him before the beginning of his creative activity: “When I was alone in Nun, in (the state of) ‘incapacity for action’, I did not find any place to stand on him, I did not find any place to sit on it, Heliopolis was not yet founded so that I could settle in it, my temple (?) was not yet built so that I could sit in it, I have not yet created Nut to spread over my head, the first generation of gods has not yet was not born, the most ancient Nine of Gods had not yet arisen – They (“Life” and “Maat”) were already with me then ” 17 .
The same spell says that Atum spat Shu and Tefnut out of his mouth, that Shu was created by the heart of Atum, came out like breath from his nostrils, that Shu revives birds, fish, animals, humans 18 . One cannot fail to notice the similarities between the Egyptian idea of the children of Atum (Shu and Tefnut) and the biblical image of the personified Wisdom from Proverbs 8: 22-31.
The Egyptian idea of the norm of human life, human behavior was reflected in religious monuments (such as, for example, the famous Confession of Denial from the same chapter 125 of the Book of the Dead 19 ), and in fact in the literary monuments of the wise.In the very Egyptian literature of the wise, as well as in the biblical, we find two directions, one of which, convinced of the existence of a universal order, Maat, asserts and defends traditional values, and the second expresses doubt about the need to follow generally accepted norms of life. The first direction is represented by many teachings.
In the literature of Ancient Egypt, the form of teaching, admonition to a son, which was given by a representative of power – a king or a nobleman – was most widespread.Texts of this kind appeared in Egypt, probably in the era of the Old Kingdom.
According to BA Turaev 20 , one of the first “teachings” or “wisdom” of Ancient Egypt should be considered “The Teachings of the Heracleopolis King to his son Merikar”, kept in the Hermitage of St. Petersburg and in the Moscow Museum of Fine Arts. The lesson dates from the first transitional period, XXII century. BC Created in an era of political instability, this lesson is imbued with the expectation of the future end of life and the coming judgment.“Life doesn’t go by the earth, it’s not a debt. The one who leaves a memory of himself flourishes … The righteous lives forever, the one who walks with Osiris, like a free one, avoids death … ” 21 . “There are things left after the death / of a person /, they put them in a heap next to him. Eternity is being there. He is foolish who neglects it. But the one who has achieved this without committing sin will be like a god walking freely, like the ruler of eternity ” 22 .
In the teaching there are appeals that are akin to the biblical commandments, but these appeals are millennia older than the biblical ones: “Do the truth and you will live a long time on earth.Make the weeping one fall silent, do not oppress the widow … Beware of punishing unfairly. Do not kill, it is not good for you … God knows the rebel and punishes his sins with his blood ” 23 . And some passages of the teaching sound like the biblical psalms: “Take care of the people, the flock of God. He created heaven and earth for them according to their desire, he destroyed the darkness of the waters, he created air for them, so that their noses lived for them. These are his likenesses that have come out of his body. He ascends to heaven at their will. He created plants, cattle, birds for them to feed them … He created light at their will … ” 24 .
The importance of the art of speech is especially emphasized in this ancient text: “The sword is language, the word is stronger than the weapon. Do not bypass the wise … Wisdom is / refuge / for the nobles. Do not attack a wise man, knowing his wisdom ” 25 . The text mentions the teachings of Akhtoy I and some sayings of the ancestors.
A number of teachings of the Egyptian nobles have come down to us. Among them – “The Wisdom of Kagemni”, a contemporary of the III Dynasty, located in a damaged manuscript of the Middle Kingdom; “The Wisdom of Ptahhotep”, a contemporary of the 5th dynasty, fully preserved; The “Wisdom of Schhotepibra” inscribed in his tomb in Abydos, as well as a number of others 26 .In these texts there is no pessimism of the works of the transition period. They are distinguished by utilitarianism. “Both in content and morality, they cannot be compared with similar biblical books,” notes BA Turaev, “although from the literary side, at first glance, they somewhat resemble them” 27 .
The “Teachings of Ani to her son Honsuhotep” belong to the Late period of Egyptian history (or to the era of the New Kingdom). Ani was a priest of the funeral temple of one of the kings. These instructions are characterized by warm intimate piety, the idea of a lifetime reward for behavior, a monotheistic mood 28 .
“The Teaching of Amenemope”, the text of which is kept in the British Museum, is of particular importance, since it has a direct connection with the Book of Proverbs of Solomon. Thirty chapters of this work are addressed by the official to his youngest son. The execution of moral precepts, according to the ancient official, ensures prosperity in life. This monument is also characterized by a monotheistic mood, since the author avoids using the names of certain deities. And the moral precepts resemble both the style and the spirit of the Jewish Law and Proverbs 29 .
“The Teaching of Onhsheshonha”, dating from about the 5th century. BC, contains more than five hundred short sayings, instructions of a practical, ethical and religious nature. This meeting is not of a systemic nature, but is preceded by a story about how the priest compiled teachings for his son on the eve of his imprisonment. Some of the sayings in this book are reminiscent of the words of the Book of Proverbs. But this similarity concerns not so much the form as the content. “In trouble, do not go to your brother, go to your friend” 30 – “Do not go to your brother’s house in the day of your misfortune: better is a neighbor near than a brother far away” (Prov.27:10). “He who turns stones will crush his leg” – “He who digs a hole will fall into it; and whoever rolls up a stone, to him he will return ”(Proverbs 26:27).
A notable place among the monuments of wisdom literature is occupied by the story “The Eloquent Peasant” (lists of the late 19th – 18th centuries BC, the text dates back to the 21st century). The monument tells how a common man named Hunanunu was robbed by a servant of a noble nobleman. In search of justice, the peasant turned to the nobleman for help. The nobleman was amazed at the eloquence of the commoner and reported the incident to the Pharaoh.The peasant’s accusatory speeches were recorded for the ruler of Egypt, after which the peasant received large gifts, and the nobleman’s servant became his slave 31 . The story includes nine speeches, framed by a prologue and epilogue. The story is reminiscent of other Egyptian texts in which the wise men appear before the pharaoh 32 . The speeches have a poetic form, composed using parallelism. The text includes a number of ancient folk sayings.
The main motive of the book is a call to follow the truth.Some of the expressions in the story come close to gospel truths. “Do justice unselfishly, do it in the name of the Lord of justice, whose justice is the only true … Good is good when it is true good. Justice is always immortal: it descends into the grave with the one who was just. They put him in a tomb, and the earth closes over him, but his name will not be erased in human memory ” 33 . “The truth will sooner or later come to light and the lie will be smashed to dust. Don’t count on tomorrow before it comes.For no one knows what troubles this day will bring ” 34 .
All these monuments, examples of the didactic, practical, protective tradition in the literature of wisdom, are opposed by the monuments of the critical tradition, skeptical about traditional moral and religious values.
“The Harper’s Song” (XIV century BC, the text dates back to the XXI or XVI century) contains reflections on the transience of life and oblivion after death, turning into a call to enjoy the time of life: “Let your heart rejoice, let it forget about death! Do not think about the day of your burial, follow the dictates of your heart !…. Enjoy your life! Forget sorrow! Fulfill all your desires! ” 35 .
“A Conversation of the Disappointed with His Soul” (manuscript of the late XX – early XIX centuries BC, text XX-XXI centuries) – contains a story about a man who was tired and disappointed in life and decided to spend the rest of his days preparing for death, arranging his own tomb. With this person, his soul enters into an argument (Ba). She calls to leave the care of the tomb, burial and birth of the heir, calls to die immediately. But a disappointed person still retains faith in life after death.In his opinion, the continuation of life depends on the tomb and the subsequent memorial ritual: “The tomb is a place of tranquility, a delight of the heart, a city to which we are all sailing … If you / soul / make me die without letting me take care of anything, you you will not find a place for yourself in the underworld! … Wait until my heir is born, who will bring sacrifices to me, come to my tomb on the day of the funeral and prepare a burial bed for me in the city of the dead ” 36 . However, the soul reminds a person that tombs do not save him from oblivion and calls: “Leave your worries and enjoy the happiness of every day … Only this life has a price” 37 .This call is reminiscent of the words from The Harper’s Song. At the end of the work, a person recites four poems composed using parallelism. In them he speaks of cruelty, evil and injustice that reign in the world (“The good is humiliated, the cruel is held in high esteem by all 38 “), sings death as salvation from misfortune. “Truly, he who has reposed is like a living god who punishes evildoers” 39 . As a result, the soul speaks of its loyalty to a person in life and after death: “I will stay with you anyway, and together we will reach repose” 40 .
This work is very often compared with the biblical book of Job. These two books describe a sufferer driven to despair. They contain the torment of the thinking soul over the greatest problems of being, and the dialogical form of presentation, and high poetry, and doubts about traditional ideas, which are inferior to the voice of religion 41 . The book touches upon the problem of justice and personal immortality. But this problem is solved, according to B. Turaev, not in the same way as in the biblical book.It is solved in accordance with the Egyptian worldview: “If there is no truth and mercy at all on earth, if you have to suffocate in an atmosphere of evil and violence, then there is another world where gods and truth” 42 . Of particular importance are doubts about the fate of the afterlife from the formal cult requirements (later clearly expressed in the legend of Satni-Hemois), which corresponds to the teachings of the biblical prophets.
For a Christian in this layer of the ancient Egyptian literature of the wise, the doubts of critically thinking authors about the absolute value of the material world, as well as the thirst for eternity inherent in “Conversation of the Disappointed with His Soul” may seem very interesting and important.However, thinking about eternity, the Egyptians remained in captivity of the material and magical, making the continuation of life after death dependent on material methods of overcoming it, as well as resorting to the help of magic, which was able to deceive the gods themselves, to hide from them the real facts from the person lived life.
Special attention should be paid to how Egypt dealt with the problem of injustice, the problem of suffering, a problem that was raised in the biblical book of Job and in a number of Mesopotamian monuments.In the opinion of Y. Assman, thinking through the indicated problems in Egypt gave a certain impetus to the formation of monotheistic ideas. “The question of God arose – which was of decisive importance – not in the horizon of the cult, but in the horizon of wisdom; arose in spite of the traditional knowledge of the orderliness of the world and the possibility of living in accordance with this order. It arose in a revolutionary situation, when any order was questioned, and any agreement seemed to be destroyed forever, ”notes Y. Assman 43 .According to this researcher, the global crisis in Egypt followed the collapse of the Old Kingdom. Later, it was repeated during the fall of the Middle Kingdom.
The situation of the crisis is reflected in the famous monument “Speech of Ipuser”, the text of which dates back to the 18th century. The Ipuser Speeches colorfully represent a picture of general decline. “Each person says:” We do not understand what is happening in the country “… Truly: the earth turned upside down like a potter’s wheel … Look: people began to rebel against Ureus, [eyes] of Ra, who pacifies both Earths” 44 .The monument speaks of the arrival of some true shepherd: “Look, he does not distinguish between the fearful and the impudent in heart, he brings coolness to the one who is suffering from the heat. They say he is a shepherd for everyone. There is no evil in his heart. If his flock diminishes, then he spends the day to gather it, [although] there would be fire in their heart ” 45 . Although the text is poorly preserved and allows for a variety of interpretations, it clearly contains a reproach against a high authority, either the pharaoh, or the deity (J. Assman believes that this is a question of the Creator God 46 ): “It [misfortune ] would not have come if there were gods among them [people] … Is there a shepherd who wants death [for his flock]? Oh, if you ordered the answer to this question! Because the lover is one person, the hate is another.Their lives perish on all paths. You did [everything] to bring about it. You told a lie. The country has become a poisonous herb destroying people. Oh, if [people] were not buried alive. All these years [became years of] troubles ” 47 . In the surviving part of the text, there is no clear answer to this reproach, although, apparently, it is reported about the future restoration of order.
In the opinion of Y. Assman, the answer to the reproach against God, who is watching the crimes of the wicked in inaction, is in the “Teachings of the Heracleopolitan king to his son Merikar”, considered above.In the famous passage praising the care of God the Shepherd for people, there are the following words: “He killed the enemy and destroyed his children (translated by Y. Assman -“ own children ” 48 ) for their hostile plans … He kills the rebel among them, how a man kills his son for the sake of his brother ” 49 . So the world is not left with God’s attention, even when the tragic extermination of people occurs on earth. God is not indifferent to peace and evil in the world, tragic circumstances occur, ultimately, for the good of man.“In order for the meaningfulness of the world to be saved,” says Y. Assman, the divine will must extend even to a catastrophe, that is, this catastrophe itself must be interpreted as a divine act. The meaning of such an act is seen in the punishment of evil ” 50 . The God of this teaching is a certain one universal God who has a plan for the whole world, but a hidden God. “God who knows the essence has hidden himself,” says Instruction 51 .
Egyptian texts, proclaiming “Maat”, speaking about God, touching upon the situation of violation of the general order, try to protect God from accusations of indifference to man or involvement in evil.A striking example of such a theodicy is the incantation 1130 of the Sarcophagus Texts. In this incantation, God, speaking about his four deeds, says the following words: “I created everyone like his neighbor, and forbade them to do injustice. But their hearts resisted what I commanded … I judge the poor and the rich, I do the same with everyone who does injustice ” 52 . This spell also says that this God created other gods. In general, this text proclaims the presence of a supreme God, the creator of gods and people, who is not indifferent to the crimes of man, who created all people equal, but gave them the opportunity to freely exercise their will in the world.And although Egyptian theodicy does not move away from polytheism, it is still focused on monotheism.
3. Ancient Mesopotamia
If in Egypt the general world order was associated with the concept of Maat, then in Mesopotamia – with the concept of ME. The Sumerian word ME was written with a sign denoting a protruding tongue. ME are a kind of divine laws. According to V.V. Emelyanov’s definition, ME is “these are potencies, ideal models of things and qualities related to the temple and the life of the gods”, or “heaven-sent grace, which gives the correct order of things and a positive result when following this impersonal order” 53 .All things and phenomena that arise in the world have their own ME, are manifestations of their ME. ME, in other words, is a condition, the basis for the existence of things and phenomena. The better a thing or phenomenon, the closer it is to its ME. Every human action also has its own ME. The more the action matches its ME, the more effective it is. ME is also translated as ritual. When ME dies, the order associated with ME also dies. In the Sumerian laments about the destruction of cities, the death of their ME was reported. In the Sumerian texts, it is mentioned that originally the ME were kept in heaven, but then were released to the gods, the god Enki kept the ME in his palace, from where they were abducted by the goddess Inanna 54 .Correct, wise life in this regard can consist in following the primordial ideal order, ME.
In Ancient Mesopotamia, the oldest texts of wisdom literature were created by the Sumerians. Many monuments of Sumerian didactic literature have survived. These are whole collections of proverbs, sayings, as well as teachings (“The Teachings of Shuruppak”, “Wise Advice”), dialogues-disputes, essays (the poem “Man and His God”). Proverbs and sayings were actively used to train writing and speaking skills 55 .There are about seven hundred tablets and fragments with proverbs and about 20 sets of proverbs, including up to a thousand proverbs 56 . Edmund Gordon was actively involved in the study of Sumerian proverbs. Proverbs, like no other genre of wisdom literature, are distinguished by a universal human character. As S. Kramer noted, proverbs do not allow doubting the unity of the human race, the community of peoples and races, they show the basic and common that all people have, regardless of their time and place of life 57 .
“The Teaching of Shuruppak” is dated to around 2000. However, this text is attributed to King Shuruppak, the father of Ziusudra, the Sumerian counterpart of Noah. This is reminiscent of how Solomon’s Quirks, being a collection of texts by various authors, are attributed in the Bible to King Solomon. In its general mood, “The Teaching of Shuruppak” resembles the Proverbs of Solomon, has, as S. Kramer put it, a biblical flavor 58 : “Shuruppak gave instructions to his son, Shuruppak, the son of Ubartut, gave instructions to his son Ziusudra:“ My son, I will give you instructions , you accept them, Ziusudra, I give you my word, listen to him; do not discard my instructions, do not pervert the words that I have spoken, the instruction of my father, precious, do it carefully “” 59 .
A common form of wisdom in Mesopotamia was fable 60 . This genre was especially popular among the Sumerians and was used by them when writing controversial dialogues. In the fable, animals and plants are endowed with human speech. Researchers identify several types of fables. One type reflects competition, the other includes a person or a deity as characters (in the Bible, this roughly corresponds to the story of the Balaam donkey (Num. 22: 21-35) or about the temptation from the serpent (Genesis 3)), the third one relates actions and actions of representatives of the natural world with actions and deeds of people (cf.: Judges 9: 8-15 and 4 Kings 14: 9) 61 .
A special place in the literature of Ancient Mesopotamia was occupied by the theme of evil, the suffering of an innocent, righteous person. Reflections on this topic gave rise, according to J. Weinberg 62 , two types of compositions – theodicy and compositions about the “innocent sufferer”. The basis of these reflections was the conviction that a good, just, almighty God deliberately allows evil and injustice to test the fear of God and decency of a person. In theodicy, the main subject of action is God, in works of the second type – a man, an innocent sufferer.
The most ancient work about an innocent sufferer is considered the Sumerian poem “Man and His God”, created at the turn of the 3rd-2nd millennium BC. The 139-line text of this poem, found at Nippur, is kept in the University of Pennsylvania Museum and the Museum of the Ancient Orient in Istanbul. The poem presents a rich, wise and pious man who has many relatives and friends. Once this person is struck by diseases and misfortunes. In difficult circumstances, he turns to his personal god with a prayer.God heard the prayer and delivered the sufferer from all misfortunes. According to SN Kramer, the translator of this poem, “the main idea of the poem is that amid suffering and sorrow, no matter how unfair they may seem to a person, he has only one reasonable way out: to constantly praise his God, to appeal to him , crying and groaning, until he himself wants to graciously heed the pleas of the unfortunate one ” 63 .
This work is based on the prayer of the sufferer. The modern Russian Sumerologist V.V. Emelyanov draws attention to the fact that prayer, an individual appeal of a person to a deity, is not typical for Sumerian literature 64 . Unusual, in his opinion, is in this monument and the appeal of a person to an abstract deity, whose name is not indicated 65 .
The monument provides an example of the correct behavior of a person in suffering. However, the question of the cause of suffering is practically not raised in the text. There is only a hint that a person is not pure before God from the moment of his birth: “They utter, fearless sages, the true and direct word: not a single child is born from a woman blameless, … there has never been a blameless teenager in the world” 66 .
From the Old Babylonian era, the text of the poem “A Husband with Wailing” (copy of the 18th century BC) has come down to us. It contains the prayer of an innocent sufferer and God’s answer to it (“You behaved like a husband; your heart did not do evil! The years are over, the days of punishment are fulfilled!”) 67 . What is new in this poem is that a person tries to find out the cause of his suffering, confessing his righteousness (“I don’t know what I did”). The reason, the goal of human suffering remains under the cover of mystery.The will of God, who tested a righteous person, is hidden for the person himself. But the behavior of a person in a difficult situation is presented as a model.
The Middle Babylonian poem about the innocent sufferer “I want to praise the Lord of wisdom” 68 (ca. XIII century BC) is a further development of the theme of the innocent sufferer. The protagonist of the poem is Shubshi-meshre-Shakkan, an influential nobleman at the court of the Babylonian king. A nobleman who is sure of his innocence is beset by misfortune.He loses wealth, place in society, the location of the king and those around him. The situation is complicated by physical suffering and illness. At the end of the poem, Marduk brings him forgiveness. According to J. Weinberg, significant innovations of this monument are the designation of the sufferer with a name, the hero’s assertion of his innocence, the recognition of the injustice of the suffering of the innocent, the recognition of the unknowability of the deity’s plan, the recognition of the inattention of some of the gods to the supplicants of the sufferer 69 .
Even more reminiscent of the biblical Book of Job is the Akkadian poem “Wise man, wait, I want to tell you” 70 , which is usually called the “Babylonian theodicy”.The poem was written in the first half of the 11th century. BC Its author is the Babylonian exorcist priest Esagilkiniubbib. The initial cuneiform characters of the lines of this poem form an acrostic: “I am Esagilkiniubbib, a spellcaster who honors God and the king” 71 . The poem takes the form of a dialogue between the Sufferer and the Friend who consoles him. This literary form brings this monument closer to a biblical book.
The Sufferer’s troubles began from early childhood, when he knew the fate of an orphan and poverty. The monument raises the problem of the universality of injustice.Misfortunes are more often comprehended by pious people, the Sufferer is perplexed, who does not dare to directly accuse the gods of injustice. In response to this, the Friend speaks of the incomprehensibility of the intentions of the gods, of the need to always ask the gods for forgiveness and mercy. However, the words of the Friend do not satisfy the Sufferer. The problem posed remains unresolved in the text of the poem. In this, this monument differs from similar texts, as well as from the Bible, where the righteous Job humbles himself before God, having cognized God in Revelation.
In the X tablet of the “Epic of Gilgamesh” (“About everything that has seen”) there is a passage that echoes a number of works of wisdom. Seeking immortality after Enkidu’s death, Gilgamesh finds Siduri, mistress of the gods. Siduri said to Gilgamesh: “Where are you going? The life that you are looking for, you will not find! The gods, when they created man, they defined death for man, they kept life in their hands. You, Gilgamesh, saturate your stomach, be cheerful day and night, celebrate the holiday daily, play and dance day and night! May your clothes be light, your hair is clean, wash yourself with water, look how the child holds your hand, please your friend with your hugs – only this is a man’s business! ” 72 .These words are repeated in Ecclesiastes 9: 7-9.
“The Conversation of the Master with the Slave” (“Slave, obey me”) is often called the “Dialogue on Pessimism.” This work came in five copies, the oldest of which dates back to the 7th century. BC The text itself dates back to the 10th century. 73 . The content of this monument receives the most varied assessment of 74 . Its author is recognized as a freethinker and atheist, then as a religious person. They also compare him with the Greek sophists. According to R. Scott, the work provides “a funny and semi-humorous interpretation of the ambiguity of life”, emphasizes the ambiguity of morality, and proclaims death as the only value 75 .
The work consists of 11 fragments, in each of which the master expresses two opposite desires, which the slave approves with equal persuasiveness.
VV Emelyanov believes that it is more correct to translate the title of this work as “Slave, agree with me”, since there are no disputants in this dialogue-paradox, but there are two interlocutors who formally agree with each other 76 . He believes that in this dialogue, in fact, the question is raised not about the meaning of life, but about what is good for a person.As a result, VV Emelyanov calls this work “Dialogue about the Good” 77 . In his opinion, the essay presents a conflict between will and reason. The master has a strong-willed impulse and a thirst for action. However, he is unable to comprehend the consequences of his action. The slave acts as the mind and instrument of the master’s actions. The slave leads the master to the idea that the good consists in the absence of action. And since each action has its own celestial ME and is equivalent to being, the absence of action leads to death.So the good is in non-being, in death. Such a denial of action arose, according to V.V. Yemelyanov, in specific historical circumstances, by the beginning of the 1st millennium, when the Mesopotamian civilization faced great difficulties and trials, which ritual actions did not help to overcome. At this time, as this researcher notes, “the young world left the sphere of external action that benefits the body, into the sphere of internal knowledge that saves the soul. Probably, Babylon was too old for such radicalism, so here abstinence from action and distrust of ritual were perceived as a person’s refusal from personal existence … Reason and soul were beyond the power of Babylonian man. ” 78 .
This monument recalls the texts about the innocent sufferer, the Babylonian theodicy, and the epic about Gilgamesh. In the epic, the role of the Lord is played by Gilgamesh, and the role of the Slave by Enkidu. According to V.V. Yemelyanov, “A Conversation of a Master with a Slave” was deliberately likened to the famous epic in order to express a new system of values, to confront the old idea of the good of immortality, which can be obtained through a series of positive actions, with a new idea of the good of non-being, which denies any action 79 .
This work is reminiscent of both the Egyptian monument “Conversation of the Disappointed with His Soul,” and the biblical Book of Ecclesiastes. However, there is no call to non-being in the Book of Ecclesiastes.
The Book of Achiahar the Wise can be attributed to the first, traditionalist, protective direction of the literature of the wise in Ancient Mesopotamia. The work contains a collection of wise sayings of Achiahar, the keeper of the seal of the Assyrian kings Sinnacherib and Assur-Addin, addressed as a lesson to the nephew of Nadav, adopted by Achiahar.About “Achiachara and Nadab, his nephew”, invited on the occasion of the healing of Tobit and the marriage of Tobias, is mentioned in the book of Tobit (Tov 11:17). Fragments of the earliest version of the book have been preserved in the Aramaic papyrus of the late 5th century. BC, found in Egypt on about. Elephantine. The ancient Syrian version has been fully preserved. The text dates back to the Assyrian era.
A number of sayings in this book are reminiscent of some expressions from the biblical book of Proverbs. Here is just one example that resembles Proverbs.13:24 – “My son, do not tire of punishing your child; the punishment of a child is like fertilizing a garden, like tying a purse, like curbing a cattle, and like a gate on a gate. My son, tear your son away from evil, so that you may prepare yourself for peace in your old age; teach him and punish him while he is young, make him listen to your commands, so that a little later he will not start screaming and rebelling against you ”(3: 29-31) 80 .
Based on the above, it becomes obvious that the biblical literature of the wise is an organic part of the Middle Eastern literature of the wise.At the same time, it is also an organic part of biblical literature, a part of the Holy Scriptures. Therefore, the biblical books of the sages must have a certain identity.
4. Biblical literature of wisdom and its originality. Book of proverbs.
The Book of Proverbs of Solomon is a collection of collections of wise sayings compiled by various authors at different times. The book in its modern form is most likely the result of the work of an ancient post-prisoner editor.Different researchers distinguish a different number of parts of this book – from seven to nine. If we take into account the inscriptions, headings in the Masoretic text, then the book has seven parts. These are three collections of Solomon’s parables (the most voluminous in the book, each – more than 100 verses), three collections of words of various persons (Agur, Lemuel and nameless sages) and an excerpt of 12 verses attributed in the text to certain sages. The text of the book in the Septuagint is longer than the Masoretic by about 130 verses, has additions, omissions and permutations.
Although the Book of Proverbs is a collection, it has a certain compositional and ideological unity 81 . After the first part of the book, the rest of the parts form a parallel construction: parables-words-words / parables’-words’-words’. The first and seventh parts create a kind of frame for the book, since they are united by the theme of a virtuous woman: in the first part, Wisdom appears in the image of a woman, in the seventh, a virtuous wife is praised.
The dating of the book is the subject of ongoing discussions 82 .The main body of the Book of Proverbs (chapters 10-29) was created during the pre-period. Chapters 1-9 are often dated to the 5th century. BC The time of the creation of the last two chapters is hardly possible to determine. The final editing of the book could take place in the IV-III centuries. BC
The text of the book itself testifies to the fact that the wisdom of Ancient Israel was drunk with the wisdom of other Middle Eastern peoples, since it contains the words of the Massites – Agur and Lemuel. Researchers find similarities between this text and the ancient monuments of the interethnic school of wisdom, starting with the works of the ancient Sumerians (“Teachings from Shuruppak”, “Conversations between father and son” (XVIII century.BC)). However, the Sumerian monuments, separated from the time of the revelation of the Book of Proverbs by a millennium, could hardly have had a direct influence on it. There are other literary monuments that are close to the Book of Proverbs, not only in content, but in the time of creation. Let us note literary parallels against the background of the analysis of the content of the Book of Proverbs itself.
The Prologue – the first nine chapters – begins with the words: “The parables of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel.” It constantly, every 10-12 verses, sounds an appeal to the reader – “Listen, my son”, “My son”.This gives this part some integrity. The first part also contains two speeches of the personified Wisdom of God (1: 20-33, 8: 1-36). This Wisdom, calling out to people at the gates at the entrance to the city, is contrasted with a reckless, noisy, stupid and ignorant woman who beckons those passing by (9: 13-18).
The Prologue recalls the ancient Egyptian teachings, as well as the “Advice to a Son” found in Ancient Ugarit. And the personified Wisdom (especially in her second speech in chapter 8) is very reminiscent of the ancient Egyptian goddess Maat, Truth-Order-Truth.
The second chapter is an alphabetical acrostic and consists of 22 verses. Excerpt 6: 16-19 is compiled using a literary technique made famous by the deciphering of the texts of Ancient Ugarit, which is called stepwise parallelism.
The oldest part is considered the second collection, which has the inscription “Proverbs of Solomon” (10: 1 – 22:16) and includes 375 sayings, short aphorisms, usually consisting of two verses, arranged thematically.The parables in this part are written in the form of poetic parallelism and do not differ in their pronounced systematicity. Probably, it is about such parables, wise sayings of Solomon that it is said in the Third Book of Kings: “And he spoke three thousand parables” (1 Kings 4:32).
The third collection (22:17 – 24:22) begins with the words “Incline your ear and listen to the words of the wise.” An excerpt from this collection 22:17 – 23:11 is a translation of individual passages from the monument of ancient Egyptian literature “The Teaching of Amenemope”.
This passage sometimes contains a very close retelling of the Teachings of Amenemope. “Incline your ear and listen to the words of the wise and turn your heart to my knowledge” (Proverbs 22:17) – “Incline your ear, listen to what is said, turn your heart to understand it” (Teaching Amenemope 1: 9) 83 …
“Do not be friends with an angry person and do not associate with a hot-tempered person, so as not to learn his ways and not draw a noose on your soul” (Proverbs 22: 24-25) – “Do not fight with the hot-tempered, do not approach him to talk … he will not entice you and throw a noose over you ”(Instructions to Amenemope 11: 13,18) 84 .
“Do not sit in a tavern in the company of someone who is higher than you … be friends with someone who is equal to you … From polite speeches a person will not become impoverished, (he will receive) more than the wealth of the one whose speech is rude,” says Chapter 26 of the Teachings 85 . Just as kindness and compassion are opposed to the wealth of a rude person in the Precept, the Book of Proverbs emphasizes the frailty of material values: “When you sit down to eat food with the ruler, then carefully observe what is in front of you … Do not be seduced by his delicious dishes; it is deceptive food.Don’t worry about making wealth; leave such thoughts of yours. You fix your eyes on it, and it is no longer there, because it will make wings for itself and, like an eagle, it will fly into the sky ”(22: 1,3-5). This passage also undoubtedly echoes the words of the Precept: “Do not seek profit to provide for your needs. If you have acquired wealth by robbery, they will not spend a night with you; at dawn they are already outside your house, their place can be seen, but they are no longer … they made wings for themselves like geese, and flew away to the sky ”(Teaching Amenemope 9: 14-19, 10: 4) 86 .
There are 30 chapters in the Teachings of Amenemope. The last of them says: “There are thirty chapters before you! They delight, they instruct, they are a book for all books, they teach the ignorant, if they are read to the ignorant, thanks to them he is enlightened ” 87 . This passage can clarify the meaning of the lines from the Book of Proverbs of Solomon that echo with it: “Did I not write you thirty in counsel and admonition to teach you the exact words of truth, so that you can transmit the words of truth to those who send you?” (22: 20-21).Note only that in the synodal translation instead of the word “thirty” is “thrice”.
It is hardly possible to deny the connection between these two works of ancient oriental literature. But this connection can in no way undermine the authority of Holy Scripture. To strengthen this authority, it is not even necessary to assert that the Hebrew text predates the Egyptian (this is hardly possible) or to seek some common primary Semitic source (which could hardly exist). One need only pay attention to the very use of the Egyptian text in the Hebrew collection of parables.
The divinely inspired compiler of the Book of Proverbs of Solomon adapted a foreign monument, choosing only 16 sayings from the 30 chapters of the Teachings for his translation. This choice, of course, was not random, but was made in accordance with biblical, religious values. Noting this circumstance, the modern Jewish biblical scholar J. Weinberg draws attention to the fact that the Hebrew translator omitted those utterances in which the ancient Egyptian deities acted as a structural component of the content, or where specifically ancient Egyptian religious and ethical ideas are reflected 88 .He also notes that the translator often made deviations from the original. These deviations are of two types.
Firstly, additions appear in the Hebrew text, which represent the rationale, explanation of a particular recommendation. For example, the Egyptian “Beware of breaking the boundaries of the fields …” (Teaching Amenemope 7:10) acquires the addition – “because their Protector is strong; He will join their cause with you ”(Proverbs 23:11).
Secondly, the Hebrew text is characterized by concretization, replacing the colorful images of the original with clearer concepts, which distinguishes this book not only from Middle Eastern literature, but also from other biblical books.So the figurative words of the Egyptian monument “His heart is corrupted by the stomach, the piece of bread you have swallowed is too big and you will vomit it …” (Teaching Amenemope 11: 7) are transformed into the address “Do not eat the food of an envious person and do not be seduced by his delicious dishes … his heart is not with you ”(Prov. 23: 6-7) 89 .
The fourth collection (24: 23-34) begins with the words “It has also been said by the wise …” and contains instructions relating to judicial matters, as well as instructions against laziness.Perhaps this is a fragment of a more voluminous composition that has not survived.
The fifth collection (25-29), which, along with the second, has an ancient origin, begins like this: “And these are the parables of Solomon, which were collected by the men of Hezekiah, king of the Jews.” It includes 127 separate sayings related to the correct behavior of the king and the correct attitude of the common man to the king. They, like the second collection, are written using poetic parallelism.
The sixth collection (chapter 30) contains “Words of Agur, the son of Iakkeev.”In the Hebrew text, the author of the words is also called a Massite. The collection includes two sections – confessional and didactic. In the first, the author recognizes himself as an ignoramus, and in the second he teaches correct human relationships.
Of particular interest in this collection are the so-called numerical parables, which use the stepwise parallelism already encountered before (6: 16-19). The fact that parallelism is a feature of biblical poetry has been known since the time of its discovery in 1753.Anglican Bishop Robert Lowth. However, it was thanks to the study of Ugaritic poetry that this kind of parallelism became known as step parallelism 90 . This parallelism uses number as an artistic factor, an element of symmetry and harmony that reinforces the theme:
“Baal hates two sacrifices, / three he who sits on the clouds”;
“Let Baal disappear for seven years, / for eight, he who sits on the clouds” 91 .
In the above-mentioned numerical parables, stepwise parallelism occurs 4 times.“Here are three insatiable, and four who will not say, ‘Enough!’ (30:15). “Three things are incomprehensible to me, and four I do not understand” (30:18). “The earth trembles with three; it cannot bear four” (30:21). Three of them have a slender gait, and four are slender “(30:29).
Stepped parallelism is also found in the book of the prophet Amos: “For three crimes of Damascus and for four I will not spare him” (Amos 1: 3).
The seventh collection (31 chapters) includes “The words of Lemuel the king. The instruction that his mother had taught him. “He is also referred to in the Hebrew text as a Massite. The ethno-toponym mass, mentioned in two collections, is not of Jewish origin. The name Mass is mentioned in the genealogy of Ishmael in Genesis 25:14 among the toponyms of Northern Arabia. It is quite possible that these collections are connected by their origin with the wisdom literature of the northwestern Semitic ethno-linguistic area, especially since there are common features between them and the Ugaritic epics of Akhat, Bal and Anat, including the use of step parallelism 92 .
The so-called alphabetic poem, praising the virtuous wife, is added to the seventh collection. The poem is an acrostic that makes up the Hebrew alphabet.
The Book of Proverbs of Solomon belongs to the first direction of the literature of the wise, reflecting traditional didactics. The teachings and appeals of this book are based on the belief in the existence of a relationship between a certain human action and the result of this action. If a person does good, then in this life he will be accompanied by success.
Let’s say it again. The book does not mention Exodus, Covenant, temple, sacrifices, holidays, the book even includes non-Jewish texts. But – and this is very important to remember – the wisdom that this book talks about is not secular, non-religious wisdom. It is not by chance that the Book of Proverbs of Solomon entered the Holy Scriptures, into Divine Revelation. This book opens up a special way of knowing God. This book speaks of Divine Revelation, but this is not Revelation from above, not Revelation that came directly from God on Mount Sinai, but Revelation from below, the source of which is the observation of the world, the life of man and human society.
Long-term study of the world and man shows that the world and man have a deep involvement in God through wisdom. The world was created wisely, reflects Divine Wisdom. The source of human wisdom is in Divine Wisdom. Therefore, the beginning of human wisdom is the fear of the Lord, i.e. trust, not fear of retribution, punishment. To become wise, i.e. to get prosperity, you need to follow the Wisdom that was originally with God.
It should also be noted that the Book of Proverbs of Solomon is not limited to Revelation from below.It contains the doctrine of the Wisdom of God, which in the New Testament and in the Christian exegetical tradition is recognized as the doctrine of the Son of God. And although Exodus, Covenant, Law-Torah are not explicitly mentioned in the Book of Wisdom, they are clearly implied. They are hidden in calls for justice, in the name of Solomon, which naturally resembles the history of Israel, in such a name for God as Yahweh, the name given in Revelation-from above.
5. Book of Ecclesiastes and Book of Job.
The second, negative direction of wisdom literature in the Bible includes the Book of Ecclesiastes and the Book of Job.
The Book of Ecclesiastes is a work about the author of which they do not cease to argue. Among its possible creators are Solomon, Ecclesiastes (Kochelet), Hyrcanus (the son of Joseph, from the ancient and influential Jewish family of the Tobiads (3rd century BC)), Zerubbabel. It is only clear that the author of the book is a city dweller open to the outside world, a person who has lived a long life, who has tasted and experienced a lot, an educated person who knows the sacred texts well. The book, according to various researchers, could have been written either in the 10th century. 93 , or in the era from the 6th to the 3rd century. BC 94 , or in the period from 250 to 190 95 In favor of writing a book, for example, the language of the book speaks in the Persian period – the Hebrew language of the time of transition from the classical to the late language of the Talmud. There are several Persian words in the text, there are Aramaic words and Arameisms in spelling and phonetics, morphology and syntax.
As for the word “ecclesiastes” / “kochelet” itself, it is translated either as a preacher, i.e.That is, a speaker in a congregation, or as a member of the popular assembly, or as a collector of proverbs, or as a collector of a circle of listeners.
The Book of Ecclesiastes is one of the smallest Bible books of wisdom. But this small volume of the book creates big problems when trying to determine its structure, composition. Some researchers believe that it is generally impossible to find ideological unity in the book, a general plan, that it is a collection of disparate judgments, others see compositional unity in the first two or three chapters, and others make attempts to reveal compositional unity in the entire book 96 .
Interesting is the so-called “theory of quotations”, which assumes the structural integrity of the entire book. According to this theory, the Book of Ecclesiastes contains a kind of critical dialogue, consistently citing opposing points of view. In the center of the book is a discussion of the issue of human happiness, its content, conditions, different understandings of happiness. The book ends with a call to joy and vigor 97 .
An original view of the structure of the Book of Ecclesiastes is offered by J.Weinberg 98 . According to this Jewish biblical scholar, the structure of this book, created in the middle of the 1st millennium B.C., in the era of transition from mythological thinking (where absolute truth dominates) to scientific critical thinking (where the importance of relative truth is recognized), bears a resemblance to critical method of Socrates with its two components – irony and maieutics. According to the Socratic method, at the first stage it is necessary to critically check the truth of traditional ideas (among which there are many erroneous ones).This check takes place by means of irony, i.e. a system of thoughtful questions that question or refute conventional wisdom. At the second stage, through maieutics, after testing traditional ideas, through progress from simple truths to more complex ones, genuine knowledge is achieved. In accordance with this assumption, the composition of the book looks like this.
The first block – 1 chapter – defines the main topic of reasoning. The second block – chapters 2-6 – contains a critical assessment of traditional views, which is reminiscent of irony.The third block – from chapter 7 to chapter 12 to verse 8 – includes positive conclusions that gradually ascend from one truth to another, which is reminiscent of maieutics. The conclusion is contained in verses 9-14 of chapter 12.
J. Weinberg’s hypothesis looks quite convincing at first glance. However, a detailed analysis of the blocks he identified shows that in the second block there are statements that it would be more logical to attribute to the third, and in the third – those that are more consistent with the general critical mood of the second block.
Style chaos also corresponds to some seeming chaos in the content of the book. The book contains both prosaic and poetic passages being replaced by poetic ones, speeches in the first person are adjacent to appeals in the second person, monologues are replaced by dialogues, autobiographical elements are mixed with parables
Just as it is problematic to determine the structure of a book, it is not easy to identify its main ideological content, its message. This book has been called skeptical, God-fearing, paralyzing pessimistic, and joyfully optimistic.They saw in it both the preaching of hedonism, and the wandering of the mind and soul of a person in search of answers to questions that cannot be answered.
The book shows the fleetingness, even the aimlessness of the existence of man and all his earthly aspirations. Any pleasure, happiness is short-lived, the outcome of the life of any person, as well as the end of the existence of any animal, is one – death. The person in the book is not a representative of some culture, some people, it is just a person as a creation of God, endowed with emotions and reason.In the variability surrounding a person, only nature (in its movement) and God are constant, for whom the name Elohim is used.
The book criticizes many traditional biblical beliefs and values. Its author doubts the obligation imposed by God on man to work (Eccl. 2:11), in the connection between righteousness and success in life, in the superiority of man over animals (Eccl. 3: 19-20). However, the author of the book still loves the world with its pleasures, appreciates life, gives a number of practical advice and periodically calls to follow the commandments of God.The book contains many biblical quotes from the Pentateuch, history and prophetic books.
Researchers find in this book the influence of ancient Greek philosophy – Heraclitus, Aristotle, Sophists, Epicureans. The connection of this book with the ancient Middle Eastern monuments already mentioned above is also obvious. For example, the words of Ecclesiastes “The living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and there is no more reward for them, because their memory is forgotten … So go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with joy of heart, when God delights in your deeds.May your garments be bright at all times, and may the oil on your head not be depleted. Enjoy life with the wife you love, all the days of your vain life, and which God gave you under the sun for all your vain days; because this is your share in your life and in your labors as you work under the sun “(Eccl. 9: 5-9) clearly echoes the Egyptian” Song of the Harper “:” Lords rest in pyramids, nobles and priests – in tombs … And no one will come from there and tell what happened to them … Let your heart rejoice, let it forget about death! Do not think about the day of your burial, follow the dictates of your heart! Are you still alive! Treat yourself with myrrh! Dress in fine fabrics !…. Fulfill all your desires! ” 99 . The passage of Ecclesias 9: 7-9 almost coincides with the words of the mistress of the gods Siduri, quoted above, addressed to Gilgamesh. Interestingly, fragments of the Gilgamesh epic have been discovered in Israel. But if the “Song of the Harper” and the words of Siduri aim to simply free a person from painful thoughts about death, then the biblical book is not limited to this. There is a similarity between the Book of Ecclesiastes and the Egyptian “Teachings of Onhsheshonha”.
Recalls the Book of Ecclesiastes and the Mesopotamian Conversation of the Master with the Slave, which also emphasizes the relativity of recognized ideas and norms of behavior (obedience to the king, love for a woman and the creation of a family, making sacrifices).However, according to J. Weinberg, there is a discrepancy between these two works at the worldview level: for the author of “Conversation” a skeptical negative attitude to traditional values and norms is the main task of the composition, and for the author of the Book of Ecclesiastes it is “only a means and a prerequisite for revealing true truths and values ” 100 . But what values and truths does this book reveal? It seems that the book contains not just a call to fear God at all costs and fulfill His commandments.
In our opinion, the significance of this book for Christians is determined by the fact that it prepared the faithful of Yahweh to accept the New Testament Revelation. New Testament Revelation contains the answer to the questions that remained unanswered in this book.
It seems that it is no coincidence that it is difficult to determine the composition of the book. The chaotic nature of the book is akin to the chaos that restless human wisdom, divorced from God, from the correct reference point, leads to. Its main content is, perhaps, the reasoning of a person relying only on his own wisdom.The book presents the limitations of human wisdom, isolated from the source of this wisdom – God. Without God, the world, man, everything that happens to the world and man loses all meaning. Injustice reigns in the world, the righteous suffer, and in the end only death awaits all people.
The author of the book periodically calls on his readers to be faithful to God and his commandments, with this call the book ends. This call is the call of the believing heart, but it hardly satisfies the restless, inquiring human mind.After all, it is not at all clear why a person needs this faithfulness, it is not clear what God has prepared for those who love Him. The solution to this problem is provided by New Testament Revelation.
The Book of Ecclesiastes gives rise to a thirst for immortality, a thirst for justice, a thirst for the Kingdom of God, in which life, peace and truth reign. Only in the New Testament will it be said about this Kingdom clearly and distinctly. Jesus Christ will say about quenching the thirst for this Kingdom: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness; for they will be satisfied ”(Matthew 5: 6). So, by proclaiming the relative value of everything external, the Book of Ecclesiastes prepared a person to accept a more sublime Christian Revelation about the Kingdom of Heaven and spiritual benefits.
The Book of Job is based on the plot about a suffering righteous man, already familiar to us from Mesopotamian legends. The theme of the suffering of an innocent person is also raised in the Ugaritic epic about Danniel and Akhita. The hero of this epic is King Dannielu (“El is my judge”, or “El judges me”), a just and pious ruler. But Danniel was unhappy, he had no heir. After this ruler made sacrifices to the gods, the god Balu came to him, informing him about the future birth of his son, Akhit. However, the warrior goddess Anatu is killed by Akhita.Suffering Danniel did not accept the loss of his son. At the end of the legend, the gods resurrect Akhita 101 . Three righteous men are mentioned in the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel: Noah, Daniel and Job (14: 14,20). After the discoveries in Ugarit, most biblical scholars believe that the prophet Ezekiel does not mean the biblical prophet Daniel, but the hero of the Ugaritic epic.
The image of a suffering righteous man is not uncommon in the Bible. Abraham (to whom God did not give children and whom, after the appearance of the long-awaited firstborn, God asked to sacrifice this firstborn), and Joseph sold into slavery in Egypt, and the prophet Jeremiah can be considered innocent sufferers.Both the psalms and the prophecies of Isaiah tell about the suffering righteous.
The search for the author of the Book of Job can hardly lead to a convincing result. Among its authors at different times were named anonymous Aramean, Arab, Edomite, Nakhorit, a Jew who lived in Arabia or Egypt, Moses, Solomon, Jeremiah. The timing of the book’s writing is also varied. It is considered both the oldest book of the Bible and the latest Bible book. However, most tend to attribute the time of writing the book to the post-captivity period.The problems that the author of the Book of Job pondered, as well as the author of the Book of Ecclesiastes, correspond to the general atmosphere of the post-captivity period, when the suffering Jewish people needed comfort, an explanation of why God allowed the destruction of the temple, Jerusalem by the Gentiles, why God’s people suffer, and not nations that know God prosper.
The book of Job, in contrast to the work of Ecclesiastes, has a very clear composition. The prologue (1-2 chapters) and the epilogue of the book (7-17 verses 42 chapters), written in prose, frame a series of dialogues and monologues written in poetic language.The prologue tells how, after Satan’s two conversion, God decides to test the faithfulness, righteousness of Job. Job is in trouble. Job’s wife offers to blaspheme God and die. But Job only blesses God. It is characteristic that the wife is the only character not designated by a proper name. She has a simple designation – ishsha, which suggests a comparison with Eve, who tempted Adam, who in the story of Genesis is also called simply ishsha 102 . Unlike Adam, Job is steadfast.Three friends come to the sufferer to mourn with him and console him. In the epilogue, God condemns the speeches of three friends contained in the poetic part, forgives these friends. God returns to Job all his losses and blesses him.
The poetic portion of Job is also clearly structured. After Job’s monologue (chapter 3), three series of dialogues begin. Each episode contains a speech by one of Job’s friends and Job’s response to each of those speeches. Friends share the traditional belief that suffering is punishment.Job protests against this view and confesses his innocence. Friends’ words do not bring comfort, but irritation. Job and friends begin to get angry with each other. Friends’ speeches gradually become shorter, as if they are being exhausted. In the third dialogue, the third friend, apparently, has no words at all. The content of all three dialogues is approximately the same. The only difference is the degree of Job’s alienation from his friends 103 . In a large monologue of chapters 29-31, Job, once again speaking about his innocence, expresses a desire to hear the answer of the Almighty.And God answers Job, but before that, Job’s fourth friend, young Elihu, appears and speaks for the first time. Elihu makes four speeches in which he rebukes both Job and his friends. Elihu places the main emphasis not on the cause of the misfortune that has befallen, but on the goal pursued by God by sending misfortune to man. At the end, God Himself appears, showing His greatness and the mystery of His actions.
If for critics of the homogeneity of the Book of Ecclesiastes, an important argument is the lack of composition in the book, then for critics of the homogeneity of the Book of Job, a clear composition of the book helps to dismember the book into layers created at different times.We will leave aside all discussions about the origin of the book, the stages of its formation, the historicity of the content. For us, this biblical work is important as a whole, conveying certain ideas.
Separately, it is worth mentioning only the assumption that connects the structure of the book with the structure of the ancient Greek drama. For the first time, the assumption that the Book of Job is a drama based on the model of an ancient Greek tragedy was expressed by a contemporary and friend of John Chrysostom, Theodore of Mopsuestia.Proponents of this view, with some stretch, single out the parts in the Book of Job that correspond to the structure of the ancient Greek drama: the prologue (1-2 chapters), the first cycle of dialogues (3-31 chapters), the second cycle of dialogues (32-37 chapters), the third cycle of dialogues (with 38 chapters by 6 verse 42 chapters) and epilogue 104 .
The Book of Job teaches in part what the ancient Mesopotamian writings teach like it – the correct behavior of a person in suffering. In difficult circumstances, a person must maintain faith in God, trust in God and faithfulness to Him.This is the first lesson this book teaches. Job’s complaints, complaints, which he utters in his speeches, do not go beyond the scope of his faithfulness to God.
The second lesson concerns the recognition that suffering is not always a means of punishment. They can be a means of testing a person, as the first two chapters show. This test can elevate a person, bringing him even closer to God. God tests Job’s faith as he tested the faithfulness of Adam and Abraham. But Job’s trial is a trial by suffering.Suffering, sent to man by God, can serve some higher interests. The problem of the connection between suffering and punishment will also be raised in the New Testament, in the story of the healing of a man born blind by Jesus Christ. When the disciples asked about the reason for this man’s blindness, Christ said that the reason was neither the sin of this man, nor the sin of his parents. But this was so that the works of God would appear on this person (John 9: 3). Likewise, the suffering of the sinless Christ was necessary for the fulfillment of the Divine plan for the salvation of mankind.As for the related problem – the well-being of sinners, it is also hidden by the secret plan of God. But sinners themselves are not hidden from God. The New Testament Revelation somewhat removed the acuteness of this problem by teaching about the Last Judgment and the Kingdom of God. In the book of Job itself, the problem of the suffering of the righteous and the prosperity of sinners is resolved in pointing out the greatness of God and the mystery of His plan, which does not look very convincing to the human mind.
Finally, the third lesson of this book, perhaps the most important lesson, is the recognition that true wisdom must be manifested in the constant search for God, the search for fellowship with Him.
Upon careful reading of the book, it is striking that neither in the words of Elihu, nor in the words of God, there is nothing fundamentally new in comparison with the content of the speeches of Job’s friends. Job’s speeches differ from those of his friends mainly in that Job denies the ordinary view of suffering as punishment. Elihu seems to agree that suffering is not always a punishment. All participants in the events described in the book confess the greatness of God, His superiority over man and all creation.It is characteristic that God in his speech repeats the ideas that sounded both in the mouth of Job and in the mouth of his friends. Moreover, in God’s speech there is no mention of the problem of the connection between suffering and wrongdoing. Then why are Job’s friends condemned? Was it only because they were supporters of the concept of the connection between human behavior and his success in life, a concept that is repeated many times in the books of the Law?
Job’s friends say the right thing. They seem to be wise. They quite rightly ask Job: “What do you know that we don’t know? What do you understand that we would not have? ” (Job.14: 9). Job’s friends, like Job, know about the immeasurable greatness of God and about human insignificance and impurity, but with all their knowledge about God, they distance themselves from Him. They are wise, but their wisdom does not bring them closer to God. They say the right things about God, but only Job is looking for God, communication with God. Job seeks intimacy with God, wants to see and hear Him. The need for this intimacy is prompted by Job’s suffering. His thirst for God is vividly expressed by him at the beginning of chapter 23. And suffering, in the end, opens up to Job the possibility of living communion with the living God.God speaks to Job. He delivers a speech, the ideological content of which is already known to Job and his friends. After this Job denies and repents in dust and ashes.
It is obvious that Job is not convinced by words, not by the logic of God’s reasoning, all his questions are removed by the very fact of contemplating God: “I have heard about You by the hearing of the ear; now my eyes see you ”(Job 41: 5). God easily forgives Job’s friends, because they say, in general, the right things, but their theoretical knowledge of God is fruitless, they do not have a thirst for closeness to God.The Christian Church paid special attention to the words of Job, in which this thirst was expressed in the fullest way: “But I know that my Redeemer lives, and He on the last day will raise this decaying skin from my dust; and I will see God in my flesh. I will see Him myself; my eyes, not the eyes of another, will see Him. My heart is languishing in my chest! ” (Job 19: 25-27). In fullness, the possibility of satisfying such a thirst for God appeared from the moment of the Incarnation.
In this article, we have limited ourselves to only three, canonical biblical books of wisdom.An analysis of these books testifies not only to their relationship with the international literature of the wise of the Ancient Near East, but also to the originality of biblical wisdom. The Book of Proverbs of Solomon says that the world and human wisdom have Divine Wisdom as their source. The book of Ecclesiastes shows that human wisdom without God in the long term is completely useless, it can provide temporary well-being, but she herself and this temporary well-being are meaningless on the verge of death.This book gives birth to a thirst for eternal life. The Book of Job convinces that possession of wisdom, theoretical knowledge about God without a living striving for God, without a thirst for communion with God is completely useless. Finally, all these books prepared for the acceptance of the New Testament revelation, the doctrine of the Son of God as the Wisdom of God, the acceptance of the Incarnation, the doctrine of the Last Judgment, eternal life and the Kingdom of Heaven.
1 For the characteristics of ancient Middle Eastern wisdom literature, see: Weinberg, I.P. Man in the culture of the Ancient Near East. M., 1986. S. 171-172.
2 For an overview of the history of Jewish wisdom in the Old Testament era, see Scott, R.B.J. Tradition and Literature of Wisdom // Biblical Research. Digest of articles. Issue 1.M., 1997. S.627-646.
3 Ibid. P.615.
4 Weinberg, I.P. Man in the culture of the Ancient Near East. P.172.
5 Averintsev, S.S. Poetics of early Byzantine literature. M., 1977. P.190.
6 Scott, R.B.Y. Tradition and Literature of Wisdom // Biblical Research. P.616.
7 Ado, P. What is Ancient Philosophy? M., 1999. S. 32-36.
8 Tsenger, E. Books of Wisdom // Introduction to the Old Testament. Edited by E. Tsenger. M., 2008. P.431.
9 The given information about the four literary forms of wisdom is borrowed from: Tsenger, E. Book of Wisdom // Introduction to the Old Testament. Ed. E. Tsenger. S.435-437.
10 For the conceptual apparatus of the Book of Proverbs of Solomon see.: Weinberg, J. Introduction to the Tanakh. Scriptures. Jerusalem-M., 2005. S. 62-75.
11 Ibid. P. 75
12 Assman, J. Egypt. Theology and piety of early civilization. M., 1999. P.254.
13 See, for example: Averintsev, S. Literature “Wisdom”: normative didactics and protest against it // History of World Literature: In 8 volumes. Vol. 1. M., 1983. S.290-299.
14 Assman, J. Egypt. Theology and piety of early civilization. P.19.
15 Budge, E.A.U. Egyptian Book of the Dead. SPb., 2008. P.360.
16 The text of the spell is given in the book: Assman, J. Egypt. Theology and piety of early civilization. S.266-272.
17 Cit. Quoted from: Assman, J. Egypt. Theology and piety of early civilization. S.268-269.
18 Ibid. S.271-272.
19 Budge, E.A.W. Egyptian Book of the Dead. P.356.
20 Turaev, B.A. Egyptian literature // Breasted, D., Turaev, B. History of Ancient Egypt.T.2. Mn., 2002. P.258.
21 Teaching of the Heracleopolitan king to his son Merikar / Translated by Rubinstein R.I. // Reader on the history of the Ancient East. Ed. M.A. Korostovtseva. M., 1980. Part 1. P.32.
24 Ibid. P.35.
25 Ibid. P.31.
26 See: Turaev, B.A. Egyptian literature // Breasted, D., Turaev, B. History of Ancient Egypt. S.259-263.
28 Ibid. P.361.
29 Scott, R.B.Y. Tradition and Literature of Wisdom // Biblical Research. P.651.
30 For examples see: Ibid. S.652-653.
31 The ending of the tale is poorly preserved and admits of several interpretations. See comments in the book: Tales and Tales of Ancient Egypt. L .: Nauka, 1979. S.217-218.
32 Turaev, B.A. Egyptian literature // Breasted, D., Turaev, B. History of Ancient Egypt. P.255.
33 An eloquent peasant // Ancient Egypt.Legends. Proverbs. M., 2000. P.97.
34 Ibid. S.87-88.
35 Harper’s song // Ancient Egypt. Legends. Proverbs. P.393.
36 Conversation of the disappointed with his soul // Ancient Egypt. Legends. Proverbs. S.398-399.
37 Ibid. P.399-400.
38 Ibid. P.402.
39 Ibid. P.405.
40 Ibid. P.405.
41 Turaev, B.A. Egyptian literature // Breasted, D., Turaev, B.History of Ancient Egypt. P.251.
43 Assman, J. Egypt. Theology and piety of early civilization. P.255.
44 Ipusera river / per. V.V. Struve. [Electronic resource]. Access mode: http://biblicalstudies.ru/Lib/Epigraph/1.html. Access date: 25.08.2009.
46 Assman, J. Egypt. Theology and piety of early civilization. P.256.
47 The Ipuser River. [Electronic resource].
48 Assman, J. Egypt. Theology and piety of early civilization. P.259.
49 Teaching of the Heracleopolitan king to his son Merikar / Translated by Rubinstein R.I. // Reader on the history of the Ancient East. Part 1. P.35.
50 Assman, J. Egypt. Theology and piety of early civilization. P.259.
51 Teaching of the Heracleopolitan king to his son Merikar / Translated by Rubinstein R.I. // Reader on the history of the Ancient East. Part 1. P.35.
52 Assman, Ya.Egypt. Theology and piety of early civilization. Pp. 261, 263.
53 Emelyanov, V.V. Ritual in Ancient Mesopotamia. SPb., 2003. S.34-35.
54 For an analysis of the myth “Inanna and Enki”, which tells about the abduction of ME by Inanna, see: Emelyanov, V.V. Ancient Sumer. Essays on culture. SPb., 2001. S.232-243.
55 For didactic Sumerian literature, Sumerian wisdom literature, see: Kramer, S. Sumeri. The first civilization on earth. M., 2002. S.242-250. Kramer, S.N. The story begins in Sumer.M., 1965. S. 136-168. Emelyanov, V.V. Ancient Sumer. Essays on culture. S.211-213.
56 Kramer, S. Sumerians. The first civilization on earth. P.249.
57 Kramer, S.N. The story begins in Sumer. P.142.
58 Kramer, S. Sumerians. The first civilization on earth. P.248.
59 Quoted from: Ibid. S.248-249.
60 See: Kramer, S.N. The story begins in Sumer. Pp. 149-156.
61 Scott, R.B.Y. Tradition and Literature of Wisdom // Biblical Research.P.656.
62 Weinberg, J. Introduction to the Tanach. Scriptures. P.96.
63 Kramer, S.N. The story begins in Sumer. P.137.
64 Emelyanov, V.V. Ancient Sumer. Essays on culture. P.245.
66 Cit. Quoted from: S.N. Kramer The story begins in Sumer. P.140.
67 “A husband with a moaning …”. Old Babylonian poem about an innocent sufferer / Translated by I. Klochkov // When Heaven Created Anna. Literature of Ancient Mesopotamia.M., 2000.249-250.
68 “I want to glorify the Lord of wisdom …”. From the Middle Babylonian poem about the Innocent Sufferer / Translation by V. Afanasyeva // When Heaven Created Anna. Literature of Ancient Mesopotamia. S.251-254.
69 Weinberg, J. Introduction to the Tanach. Scriptures. P.98.
70 Translation of the poem by I. Klochkov, see: Reader on the history of the Ancient East. Part 1. S.186-190. When Heaven Created Anna. Literature of Ancient Mesopotamia. S.277-285.
71 When Heaven created Anna.Literature of Ancient Mesopotamia. P.415.
72 “About everything that has seen.” According to Sin-Like-Unninni, the spellcaster. Epic of Gilgamesh // When Anu Created Heaven. Literature of Ancient Mesopotamia. Pp. 188-189.
73 Jacobson, V. “Slave, obey me! …”. A conversation between a master and a slave // When Heaven Created Anna. Literature of Ancient Mesopotamia. S.395-396.
74 See: Emelyanov, V.V. Ritual in Ancient Mesopotamia. P.180.
75 Scott, R.B.Y. Tradition and Literature of Wisdom // Biblical Research.P.659.
76 Emelyanov, V.V. Ritual in Ancient Mesopotamia. P.180.
77 Ibid. P.181.
78 Ibid. P.185.
79 Ibid. P.187.
80 Book of Achiahar the Wise. [Electronic resource]. Access mode: http://biblia.org.ua/apokrif/apocryph3/book_ahiahars.shtml.htm. Access date: 25.08.2009.
81 For the composition of the book, see: Schwinhorst-Schönberger, L. Book of Proverbs // Introduction to the Old Testament. Ed. E. Tsenger.S.485-487.
82 On the problem of dating, see: Ibid. S.490-492.
83 Weinberg, J. Introduction to the Tanach. Scriptures. P.62. See also: Scott, R.B.J. Tradition and Literature of Wisdom // Biblical Research. P.651.
84 Cit. Quoted from: Korostovtsev, M.A. Religion of Ancient Egypt. SPb., 2000. P.391.
85 Cit. Quoted from: Gordon, S.G. Forgotten letters. Discovery and decryption. SPb., 2002. S.233-234.
86 Cit. Quoted from: Korostovtsev, M.A. Religion of Ancient Egypt.P.391.
87 Cit. Quoted from: Gordon, S.G. Forgotten letters. Discovery and decryption. P.234.
88 Weinberg, J. Introduction to the Tanach. Scriptures. P.61.
89 Ibid. P.62.
90 Sojin J.A. Pre-literary stage of the biblical tradition. Genres // Biblical Studies. M., 1997. P.90.
91 Cit. Quoted from: Galbiati E. and Piazza A. Difficult Pages of the Bible. Old Testament. M., 1995. S.50-51.
92 Weinberg J. Introduction to the Tanach.Scriptures. P.60.
93 Yungerov, P.A. Introduction to the Old Testament. Book 2. A private historical and critical introduction to the Holy Old Testament books. M., 2003. S.242-249.
94 Weinberg, J. Introduction to the Tanach. Scriptures. Pp. 198-202.
95 Schwinhorst-Schönberger, L. The Book of Ecclesiastes (Kochelet) // Introduction to the Old Testament. Ed. E. Tsenger. P.502.
96 For an overview of different approaches in determining the composition of the book, see: Schwinhorst-Schönberger, L. The Book of Ecclesiastes (Cochelet) // Introduction to the Old Testament.Ed. E. Tsenger. S.496-498. Weinberg, J. Introduction to the Tanakh. Scriptures. P.178.
97 Schwinhorst-Schönberger, L. The Book of Ecclesiastes (Kochelet) // Introduction to the Old Testament. Ed. E. Tsenger. P.497.
98 Weinberg, J. Introduction to the Tanach. Scriptures. Pp. 179-181.
99 Song of the Harper // Ancient Egypt. Legends. Proverbs. S.392-393.
100 Weinberg, J. Introduction to the Tanach. Scriptures. P.197.
101 The Legend of Danniel and Akhit // Tsirkin, Yu.The myths of Phenicia and Ugarit. M., 2000. S. 125-133.
102 Weinberg, J. Introduction to the Tanach. Scriptures. S.106-107.
103 Schwinhorst-Schönberger, L. Book of Job // Introduction to the Old Testament. Ed. E. Tsenger. P.442.
104 Weinberg, J. Introduction to the Tanach. Scriptures. P.102.
90,000 Biblical “Wisdom Literature” – Thomas Academy
Evgeniya Smagina, Senior Researcher, Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences
All lectures of the cycle can be viewed here .
The so-called literature of Wisdom is primarily a literature of sayings. Such books as, for example, the Book of Proverbs of Solomon, the Book of Job is also included here, one of the strangest books of the Old Testament – Ecclesiastes Coelet. Such books can be pseudo-historical, like the Book of Esther, the Book of Daniel, all of them in their genre, in material, sometimes even in content and form of sayings, are included in the general context of ancient Eastern literature.
First of all, it should be said about such a thing as a parable.Parable – “mashal” – this word means likening, and on the other hand, likening, comparison, metaphor, and, on the other hand, a saying, a parable. It can include one utterance, one biblical verse, it can include a whole group of utterances united by a common theme. This genre is widely represented in pre-biblical literature, in particular in Babylonian literature, in Sumerian, and in ancient Egyptian literature. And also in the ancient oriental stories in the Aramaic language.
Let’s say, if you take the Book of Job.The concept of fate and of retribution for sins and for righteousness in the Bible, mainly in the Old Testament, is in vivo. But difficulties inevitably arise with this, it is assumed that for righteousness a person is granted a long life, material prosperity, good offspring, and so on, and all this is taken away from the sinner. But since ancient times, people understood that this, to put it mildly, is not always the case and not quite so. two cuneiform texts are known, the so-called “Poem of an Innocent Sufferer” and “Babylonian Theodicy”, where a person is in trouble for nothing, he grieves about it and asks the deity – how did it happen and why, in fact, he all this befell.
There is also an ancient Egyptian book on this topic, and all this, of course, puts the Book of Job in the general context of ancient Eastern literature. The Book of Job actually speaks of the same thing – why the righteous man is deprived of all the blessings, except for life, for nothing, for nothing, and they see how he behaves in this case. It is no coincidence, by the way, that the characters in the book are not Jews. Job is monotheistically righteous, clearly believes in one God and his friends too, but they are not Jews, their names, except for one, are no longer found in the Bible, their place of residence is Uz land, which may be southeast of Palestine, and maybe even elsewhere.This all allowed even some researchers to suggest, taking into account the complex language of the book, which is replete with many borrowed rare words, made it possible to say that the book may be translated, that the Biblical text is not the original, the book is translated, either from Aramaic or from some other. But this cannot be proved and there are no compelling arguments in favor of this.
On the other hand, such a thing as sayings is also present in the literature of many peoples. It even happens that in a book in other languages we find a textual coincidence with the biblical books.Yes, there are such sayings in the Proverbs of Solomon and others. By the way, for example, in the matter of raising children, both the author of the Proverbs of Solomon, and Jesus, the son of Sirachs, and many ancient Eastern authors agree that in order for children to grow up good, well-behaved, well-mannered, the son needs to be whipped more often, and the daughter should be locked up tightly. In general, they probably did not know other pedagogical methods than the rod. In the Egyptian book, this is even expressed in a concretely plastic form characteristic of the Egyptians: “the boy’s ear is in his back, and he listens when he is flogged.”
There is a book that appeared, perhaps in the 7th century BC and was formed in the Aramaic language and spread throughout the Middle East, such a book as the Wisdom of Ahikar. We see parallels with it in many biblical books, by the way, coincidences and, in particular, even the name of one of the characters has something in common with such Deutero-canonical biblical books such as the Book of Judith and the Book of David. Achiahar or Achior is there. This is also a book about a sage who was betrayed by his pupil, on whom various misfortunes fell for nothing, but in the end he resisted.In general, one can see in this a parallel with David, and with the Book of Daniel, with the first part of the Book of Daniel in some way, and with the Sayings of Wisdom.
What is Wisdom – “Hochma” – it is called in the biblical original, in the Greek translation – Sophia, what is it really? Wisdom and stupidity, in some cases, in the same book of Proverbs of Solomon, she is personified in the form of a wise woman, or in the form of such a personified property of the deity, which turns out to be an independent entity, she turns out to be the assistant and the first creation of the Lord in the creation of the world.But, in general, what is Wisdom as a property? We know of two kinds of wisdom in the Bible. Firstly, this is anthological wisdom – this is the teaching about the origin of the world, about the nature of good and evil, about the nature of deity, sublime themes – this, of course, is present in the literature of Wisdom. There are especially many sayings there concerning the wisdom of practical, everyday, everyday – how to behave correctly, how to ensure health, a long life, respect for others, not to mention the favor of the deity to himself – there are a lot of this in the Bible, and this applies to all aspects of life …
And what is wisdom as it appears in the Bible? This is not quite the mind, just like stupidity opposed to wisdom – it is not stupidity in the sense that it is dementia, that it lacks something. No, wisdom, as it is, I don’t remember whose saying that the clever will brilliantly get out of the situation in which the wise simply will not fall. That is, it also presupposes a certain temperament, a certain serenity. In addition, one can be smart and sinful, but wise and sinful, perhaps, according to biblical concepts, one cannot be.Wisdom, it presupposes and is combined with righteousness. Hochma, however, there are cases when this root “Hochma” is used in the meaning of a mind aimed at bad goals, for example, in the Books of Kings, in the story when one of the sons of David decided to seduce his own sister. It is said that his friend was “Hochma”, he was smart, cunning, the same root, and he persuaded him how best to do it. Here, of course, one cannot speak of righteous wisdom. But nevertheless, biblical wisdom presupposes righteousness, balance, a certain property of temperament, it is not by chance that one of the later Jewish interpreters of the Bible says that Job, for example, is a righteous man, but not wise.Why? Because he is rushing, he is too worried, his character is too contradictory. There is no such serenity that characterizes the biblical sage. Here’s another thing to say about biblical wisdom.
Likewise a fool, what is a fool there? He is not a moron in the medical sense of the word, he is one who is not trained in true wisdom. In other words, unlike mind, in a sense, organically inherent in a person, or not inherent in a person, wisdom is something that can be acquired.It even indicates the ways in which wisdom is acquired – reading the sacred books, listening to wise people, in particular their parables, narratives and other things, from travels and other thoughtful pursuits. Therefore, by the way, for example, Jesus the son of Sirachs – such an authority, although the author of a non-canonical book, says that only a professional scribe can acquire real wisdom. Why? Because he has free time and opportunities for this. In a different profession, you will be busy with the necessities of life.
90,000 Biblical wisdom in children’s stories. Elena Kosinova
based on 470 customer reviews
from Buyer 4,
April 1, 2021
|Binding type||soft cover|
|Number of pages||52|
|Book format||210×280 mm|
|genre||Fairytale, Artistic, Stories|
Biblical Wisdom in Children’s Stories is the first in the Biblical Wisdom series to provide interesting and didactic stories for your child.
Our books are not just another story for your little one. Each story reveals a Bible truth that is reinforced by a Bible passage and discussion questions. You have in your hands a tool for nurturing and building a strong relationship of love and trust with your child. Nothing is more valuable than the time spent with the kids.
The book includes 7 stories:
The Greedy Hamster – The story teaches the child that “It is more blessed to give than to receive” Acts 20:35.Why is it bad to be greedy and why you need to be generous and friendly.
Arrogant Branch – The story teaches that pride is bad and that God expects a fruitful life from us.
Olina’s doll – story will teach the child that everything is in God’s hands and he is in charge of our life.
The Tale of the Foolish Kitten – The story will teach the child about who owns the land and all its riches. Psalm 23: 1
Bow and Violin – the story will teach the child about our Creator.About Who created us and that the Lord prepared his own way for everyone. Proverbs 3: 5-6
Sorokin’s Science – The story will teach the child what wisdom is and why it needs to be acquired. Proverbs 16:22
Monster Peak – The story will teach the child that you do not need to judge by appearance and that God created everyone special. Matthew 7: 1-2
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Biblical Wisdom in Children’s Stories is the first in the Biblical Wisdom series to provide interesting and instructive stories for your child.
Our books are not just another story for your little one.Each story reveals a Bible truth that is reinforced by a Bible passage and discussion questions. You have in your hands a tool for nurturing and building a strong relationship of love and trust with your child. Nothing is more valuable than the time spent with the kids.
The book includes 7 stories:
The Greedy Hamster – The story teaches the child that “It is more blessed to give than to receive” Acts 20:35. Why is it bad to be greedy and why you need to be generous and friendly.
Arrogant Branch – The story teaches that pride is bad and that God expects a fruitful life from us.
Olina’s doll – story will teach the child that everything is in God’s hands and he is in charge of our life.
The Tale of the Foolish Kitten – The story will teach the child about who owns the land and all its riches. Psalm 23: 1
Bow and Violin – the story will teach the child about our Creator. About Who created us and that the Lord prepared his own way for everyone.Proverbs 3: 5-6
Sorokin’s Science – The story will teach the child what wisdom is and why it needs to be acquired. Proverbs 16:22
Monster Peak – The story will teach the child that you do not need to judge by appearance and that God created everyone special. Matthew 7: 1-2
|Binding type||soft cover|
|Number of pages||52|
|Book format||210×280 mm|
|genre||Fairytale, Artistic, Stories|
In the online store Good books can be bought inexpensively Biblical wisdom in children’s stories.Elena Kosinova in Ukraine wholesale or with a discount of up to 30%.
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90,000 Which woman does the Bible call wise?
The Bible exalts strong, capable and wise women! Does this surprise you? Think of the Bible’s heroines:
Jochebed courageously rescued her little son Moses and allowed Pharaoh’s daughter to raise him, which led to the liberation of the people of Israel. Esther threatened her own life to save her people, the Jews. Ruth remained faithful to her mother-in-law in times of deep personal grief and married a redeeming relative in order to save the family line.Rahab risked her life by hiding Israel’s two spies in her home. Deborah was a godly woman and one of the great judges of Israel.
Abigail saved the lives of many after her villainous husband, Nabal, angered David, putting many people at risk. Mary, the mother of Jesus, obeyed God, enduring slander to be the mother of Jesus. Mary Magdalene, who served Jesus and his disciples, was the last to leave the site of Jesus’ crucifixion and the first to see the empty tomb.
A wise woman fears the Lord
Proverbs is one of the books of the Bible that scholars classify as the literature of wisdom.Proverbs chapter 31 describes a wise woman who fears the Lord. She loves and worships God, prioritizing her relationship with Him over everyone else. She has a rare virtue and noble character, and “is worth much more than rubies” (v. 10). She is trustworthy and faithful (v. 11). People who know her well trust her completely. She is full of goodness and does not harm others (v. 12). Her inner beauty far surpasses her outer beauty as she reflects the beauty of her Lord.
A wise woman does not waste her time, her resources, her abilities and her life
She is a capable, hardworking and strong-willed worker, resourceful and diligent.
A wise woman is worthy of praise
A wise woman does not need the praise of her husband or children. She will be praised and respected for her noble character and deeds. Those who are given to know her will strive to imitate her or imitate her way of life, her fear of God.Nothing God gave her will be wasted. Her goals and standards for her will be set high and she will live accordingly. Your relationship with God and your work on character are an indicator of your wisdom!
A wise woman instructs young women
Truly wise women are very valuable, and they need to share their wisdom! Mentoring does not necessarily require additional time; it engages others in your daily life, allows them to watch, learn and grow.
Perhaps you need a wise mentor. If, reading this article, you feel that you lack wisdom (like all people do from time to time), the Bible gives very simple advice.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all simply and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1: 5).
“He who associates with the wise will be wise, but whoever makes friends with the foolish will be corrupted” (Proverbs 13:21).
Pray and ask God for wisdom.He promises to give it to those who ask! Second, find a wise person and deliberately spend time with him. Third, read Proverbs chapter 31, asking God to use these Words to transform you.