Proverbs

Proverbs

Proverbs

Proverbs

Synopsis

In this commentary Ernest Lucas takes a unique "cluster" approach to the book of Proverbs, studying it thematically and showing how it speaks to such issues as character formation, gender relations, wealth and poverty, interpersonal communication, science and religion, and care for the environment.After an introduction discussing the authorship, date, structure, ancient Near Eastern context, and literary forms of Proverbs, Lucas provides critical exegesis of the biblical text in his section-by-section commentary. He identifies "proverbial clusters" and uses them as the basis for interpreting individual proverbs. Several substantial theological essays in a concluding section illuminate major ethical, pastoral, and spiritual themes in Proverbs.Ably unpacking the rich wisdom embedded in the book of Proverbs, Lucas has written a succinct, accessible theological commentary perfect for pastors, teachers, and students.

Excerpt

Proverbs, Job and Ecclesiastes are usually referred to as the ‘wisdom’ books of the Hebrew Bible. They differ considerably in literary genres, but together account for most of the occurrences of the various forms of the Hebrew root ḥkm, meaning ‘wisdom’, ‘wise’, ‘to be wise’ in the ot. Other words are characteristic of these books but not common outside of them. They also share a common approach to reality, which is ‘humanistic’ and ‘experiential’. Many of the things normally seen as distinctively Israelite are absent from them. the great moments of Israel’s history get no mention, nor do the covenants with Abraham, Moses and David. the Temple, its sacrificial system and calendar of feasts are barely mentioned. There is no mention of priest or prophet alongside ‘the wise’.

What Is Wisdom?

One way of answering this question is to consider the people who are called ‘wise’ in the ot. Regarding the construction of the Tabernacle God says to Moses: ‘I have given wisdom to all the wise of heart, so that they may make all that I have commanded you’ (Exod. 31:6). These are people skilled in artistic design, metalwork, woodwork, working with precious stones, spinning, weaving and embroidery. Sailors able to navigate across the sea are called ‘wise’ (Ezek. 27:8). Solomon was given ‘wisdom’ in response to a prayer for the ability to rule well (1 Kgs. 3:9, 12). ‘Wisdom’ is also used of cunning (2 Sam. 13:3) and political pragmatism (1 Kgs. 2:6). These examples suggest that, in its widest sense, ‘wisdom’ in the ot is the ability to cope with life. Consideration of the kind of topics covered in Proverbs supports this: marriage and family life, friends and neighbours, care for the poor and needy, agriculture, commerce, behaviour in the law courts and in the royal court.

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