Proverbs 1:1
The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel;
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(1) Proverbs.—For the various senses of the Hebrew māshāl thus translated, see Introduction.

Solomon.—The absolute quiet and prosperity of the reign of Solomon (the man of peace), as described in 1Kings 4:20, sqq., would naturally be conducive to the growth of a sententious philosophy; whereas the constant wars and dangerous life of David had called forth the impassioned eloquence of the Psalms.



Proverbs 1:1 - Proverbs 1:19

This passage contains the general introduction to the book of Proverbs. It falls into three parts-a statement of the purpose of the book {Proverbs 1:1 - Proverbs 1:6}; a summary of its foundation principles, and of the teachings to which men ought to listen {Proverbs 1:7 - Proverbs 1:9}; and an antithetic statement of the voices to which they should be deaf {Proverbs 1:10 - Proverbs 1:19}.

I. The aim of the book is stated to be twofold-to enable men, especially the young, to ‘know wisdom,’ and to help them to ‘discern the words of understanding’; that is, to familiarise, by the study of the book, with the characteristics of wise teachings, so that there may be no mistaking seducing words of folly for these. These two aims are expanded in the remaining verses, the latter of them being resumed in Proverbs 1:6, while the former occupies the other verses.

We note how emphatically the field in which this wisdom is to be exercised is declared to be the moral conduct of life. ‘Righteousness and judgment and equity’ are ‘wise dealing,’ and the end of true wisdom is to practise these. The wider horizon of modern science and speculation includes much in the notion of wisdom which has no bearing on conduct. But the intellectual progress {and conceit} of to-day will be none the worse for the reminder that a man may take in knowledge till he is ignorant, and that, however enriched with science and philosophy, if he does not practise righteousness, he is a fool.

We note also the special destination of the book-for the young. Youth, by reason of hot blood and inexperience, needs such portable medicines as are packed in these proverbs, many of them the condensation into a vivid sentence of world-wide truths. There are few better guides for a young man than this book of homely sagacity, which is wisdom about the world without being tainted by the bad sort of worldly wisdom. But unfortunately those who need it most relish it least, and we have for the most part to rediscover its truths for ourselves by our own, often bitter, experience.

We note, further, the clear statement of the way by which incipient ‘wisdom’ will grow, and of the certainty of its growth if it is real. It is the ‘wise man’ who will ‘increase in learning,’ the ‘man of understanding’ who ‘attains unto sound counsels.’ The treasures are thrown away on him who has no heart for them. You may lavish wisdom on the ‘fool,’ and it will run off him like water off a rock, fertilising nothing, and stopping outside him.

The Bible would not have met all our needs, nor gone with us into all regions of our experience, if it had not had this book of shrewd, practical common-sense. Christianity is the perfection of common sense. ‘Godliness hath promise of the life which now is.’ The wisdom of the serpent, which Jesus enjoins, has none of the serpent’s venom in it. It is no sign of spirituality of mind to be above such mundane considerations as this book urges. If we hold our heads too high to look to our road and our feet, we are sure to fall into a pit.

II. Proverbs 1:7 - Proverbs 1:9 may be regarded as a summary statement of the principle on which the whole book is based, and of the duty which it enjoins. The principle is that true wisdom is based on religion, and the duty is to listen to parental instruction. ‘My son,’ is the address of a teacher to his disciples, rather than of a father to his child. The characteristic Old Testament designation of religion as ‘the fear of Jehovah’ corresponds to the Old Testament revelation of Him as the Holy One,-that is, as Him who is infinitely separated from creatural being and limitations. Therefore is He ‘to be had in reverence of all’ who would be ‘about Him’; that fear of reverential awe in which no slavish dread mingles, and which is perfectly consistent with aspiration, trust, and love. The Old Testament reveals Him as separate from men; the New Testament reveals Him as united to men in the divine man, Christ Jesus. Therefore its keynote is the designation of religion as ‘the love of God’; but that name is no contradiction of the earlier, but the completion of it.

That fear is the beginning or basis of wisdom, because wisdom is conceived of as God’s gift, and the surest way to get it is to ‘ask of God’ {Jam 1:5}. Religion is, further, the foundation of wisdom, inasmuch as irreligion is the supreme folly of creatures so dependent on God, and so hungering after Him in the depths of their being, as we are. In whatever directions a godless man may be wise, in the most important matter of all, his relations to God, he is unwise, and the epitaph for all such is ‘Thou fool!’

Further, religion is the fountain of wisdom, in the sense of the word in which this book uses it, since it opens out into principles of action, motives, and communicated powers, which lead to right apprehension and willing discharge of the duties of life. Godless men may be scientists, philosophers, encyclopaedias of knowledge, but for want of religion, they blunder in the direction of their lives, and lack wisdom enough to keep them from wrecking the ship on the rocks.

The Israelitish parent was enjoined to teach his or her children the law of the Lord. Here the children are enjoined to listen to the instruction. Reverence for traditional wisdom was characteristic of that state of society, and since a divine revelation stood at the beginning of the nation’s history, it was not unreasonable to look back for light. Nowadays, a belief’s being our fathers’ is with many a reason for not making it ours. But perhaps that is no more rational than the blind adherence to the old with which this emancipated generation reproaches its predecessors. Possibly there are some ‘old lamps’ better than the new ones now hawked about the streets by so many loud-voiced vendors. The youth of this day have much need of the exhortation to listen to the ‘instruction’ {by which is meant, not only teaching by word, but discipline by act} of their fathers, and to the gentler voice of the mother telling of law in accents of love. These precepts obeyed will be fairer ornaments than jewelled necklaces and wreathed chaplets.

III. On one side of the young man are those who would point him to the fear of Jehovah; on the other are seducing whispers, tempting him to sin. That is the position in which we all stand. It is not enough to listen to the nobler voice. We have resolutely to stop our ears to the baser, which is often the louder. Facile yielding to the cunning inducements which strew every path, and especially that of the young, is fatal. If we cannot say ‘No’ to the base, we shall not say ‘Yes’ to the noble voice. To be weak is generally to be wicked; for in this world the tempters are more numerous, and to sense and flesh, more potent than those who invite to good.

The example selected of such enticers is not of the kind that most of us are in danger from. But the sort of inducements held out are in all cases substantially the same. ‘Precious substance’ of one sort or another is dangled before dazzled eyes; jovial companionship draws young hearts. The right or wrong of the thing is not mentioned, and even murder and robbery are presented as rather pleasant excitement, and worth doing for the sake of what is got thereby. Are the desirable consequences so sure? Is there no chance of being caught red-handed, and stoned then and there, as a murderer? The tempters are discreetly silent about that possibility, as all tempters are. Sin always deceives, and its baits artfully hide the hook; but the cruel barb is there, below the gay silk and coloured dressing, and it-not the false appearance of food which lured the fish-is what sticks in the bleeding mouth.

The teacher goes on, in Proverbs 1:15 - Proverbs 1:19, to supply the truth which the tempters tried to ignore. He does so in three weighty sentences, which strip the tinsel off the temptation, and show its real ugliness. The flowery way to which they coax is a way of ‘evil’; that should be enough to settle the question. The first thing to ask about any course is not whether it is agreeable or disagreeable, but Is it right or wrong? Proverbs 1:17 is ambiguous, but probably the ‘net’ means the tempters’ speech in Proverbs 1:11 - Proverbs 1:14, and the ‘bird’ is the young man supposed to be addressed. The sense will then be, ‘Surely you are not foolish enough to fly right into the meshes, and to go with your eyes open into so transparent sin!’

Proverbs 1:18 points to the grim possibility already referred to, that the would-be murderers will be caught and executed. But its lesson is wider than that one case, and declares the great solemn truth that all sin is suicide. Who ever breaks God’s law slays himself.

What is true about ‘covetousness,’ as Proverbs 1:19 tells, is true about all kinds of sin-that it takes away the life of those who yield to it, even though it may also fill their purses, or in other ways may gratify their desires. Surely it is folly to pursue a course which, however it may succeed in its immediate aims, brings real death, by separation from God, along with it. He is not a very wise man who ties his gold round him when the ship founders. He is not parted from his treasure certainly, but it helps to sink him. We may get what we want by sinning, but we get also what we did not want or reckon on-that is, eternal death. ‘This their way is their folly.’ Yet, strange to tell, their posterity ‘approve their sayings,’ and follow their doings.

Proverbs 1:1. The proverbs of Solomon — “Solomon is the first of the sacred writers whose name appears at the head of his works. The name alone of so wise and so great a prince is a sufficient recommendation to engage men to hear and to read. For we naturally love to see and to listen to persons of illustrious name and extraordinary capacity, particularly when those qualities are joined with sovereign power. The style of this work, the brevity of his sentences, and the parabolical turn, close, short, sententious, are also reasons for studying it: long discourses fatigue; all men have not leisure to attend to, or penetration to comprehend them. But precepts delivered in parables are always pleasing to hear.” See Calmet and Dodd. The reader will observe proverbs are ancient, wise, and short sayings, in common use, whereof some are plain and easy, others intricate and obscure. This way of treating serious subjects was very common and familiar with the Jews. Jesus Christ delivered most of his instructions to the people in a way somewhat similar to this, namely, in parables. This method of instruction serves well to teach wisdom, truth, and justice, and to caution men against error, vice, and dissipation.

1:1-6 The lessons here given are plain, and likely to benefit those who feel their own ignorance, and their need to be taught. If young people take heed to their ways, according to Solomon's Proverbs, they will gain knowledge and discretion. Solomon speaks of the most important points of truth, and a greater than Solomon is here. Christ speaks by his word and by his Spirit. Christ is the Word and the Wisdom of God, and he is made to us wisdom.The long exhortation Proverbs 1-9, characterized by the frequent recurrence of the words "my son," is of the nature of a preface to the collection of the "Proverbs of Solomon" Proverbs 10:1. On Proverbs 1:1-7, see the introduction to Proverbs. THE BOOK OF PROVERBS. Commentary by A. R. Faussett


I. The Nature and Use of Proverbs.—A proverb is a pithy sentence, concisely expressing some well-established truth susceptible of various illustrations and applications. The word is of Latin derivation, literally meaning for a word, speech, or discourse; that is, one expression for many. The Hebrew word for "proverb" (mashal) means a "comparison." Many suppose it was used, because the form or matter of the proverb, or both, involved the idea of comparison. Most of the proverbs are in couplets or triplets, or some modifications of them, the members of which correspond in structure and length, as if arranged to be compared one with another. They illustrate the varieties of parallelism, a distinguishing feature of Hebrew poetry. Compare [637]Introduction to Poetical Books. Many also clearly involve the idea of comparison in the sentiments expressed (compare Pr 12:1-10; 25:10-15; 26:1-9). Sometimes, however, the designed omission of one member of the comparison, exercising the reader's sagacity or study for its supply, presents the proverb as a "riddle" or "dark saying" (compare Pr 30:15-33; 1:6; Ps 49:4). The sententious form of expression, which thus became a marked feature of the proverbial style, was also adopted for continuous discourse, even when not always preserving traces of comparison, either in form or matter (compare Pr 1:1-9:18). In Eze 17:1; 24:3, we find the same word properly translated "parable," to designate an illustrative discourse. Then the Greek translators have used a word, parabola ("parable"), which the gospel writers (except John) employ for our Lord's discourses of the same character, and which also seems to involve the idea of comparison, though that may not be its primary meaning. It might seem, therefore, that the proverbial and parabolic styles of writing were originally and essentially the same. The proverb is a "concentrated parable, and the parable an extension of the proverb by a full illustration." The proverb is thus the moral or theme of a parable, which sometimes precedes it, as in Mt 19:30 (compare Pr 20:1); or succeeds it, as in Mt 22:1-16; Lu 15:1-10. The style being poetical, and adapted to the expression of a high order of poetical sentiment, such as prophecy, we find the same term used to designate such compositions (compare Nu 23:7; Mic 2:4; Hab 2:6).

Though the Hebrews used the same term for proverb and parable, the Greek employs two, though the sacred writers have not always appeared to recognize a distinction. The term for proverb is, paroimia, which the Greek translators employ for the title of this book, evidently with special reference to the later definition of a proverb, as a trite, sententious form of speech, which appears to be the best meaning of the term. John uses the same term to designate our Saviour's instructions, in view of their characteristic obscurity (compare Pr 16:25-29, Greek), and even for his illustrative discourses (Pr 10:6), whose sense was not at once obvious to all his hearers. This form of instruction was well adapted to aid the learner. The parallel structure of sentences, the repetition, contrast, or comparison of thought, were all calculated to facilitate the efforts of memory; and precepts of practical wisdom which, extended into logical discourses, might have failed to make abiding impressions by reason of their length or complicated character, were thus compressed into pithy, and, for the most part, very plain statements. Such a mode of instruction has distinguished the written or traditional literature of all nations, and was, and still is, peculiarly current in the East.

In this book, however, we are supplied with a proverbial wisdom commended by the seal of divine inspiration. God has condescended to become our teacher on the practical affairs belonging to all the relations of life. He has adapted His instruction to the plain and unlettered, and presented, in this striking and impressive method, the great principles of duty to Him and to our fellow men. To the prime motive of all right conduct, the fear of God, are added all lawful and subordinate incentives, such as honor, interest, love, fear, and natural affection. Besides the terror excited by an apprehension of God's justly provoked judgments, we are warned against evil-doing by the exhibition of the inevitable temporal results of impiety, injustice, profligacy, idleness, laziness, indolence, drunkenness, and debauchery. To the rewards of true piety which follow in eternity, are promised the peace, security, love, and approbation of the good, and the comforts of a clear conscience, which render this life truly happy.

II. Inspiration and Authorship.—With no important exception, Jewish and Christian writers have received this book as the inspired production of Solomon. It is the first book of the Bible prefaced by the name of the author. The New Testament abounds with citations from the Proverbs. Its intrinsic excellence commends it to us as the production of a higher authority than the apocryphal writings, such as Wisdom or Ecclesiasticus. Solomon lived five hundred years before the "seven wise men" of Greece, and seven hundred before the age of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. It is thus very evident, whatever theory of his sources of knowledge be adopted, that he did not draw upon any heathen repositories with which we are acquainted. It is far more probable, that by the various migrations, captivities, and dispersions of the Jews, heathen philosophers drew from this inspired fountain many of those streams which continue to refresh mankind amid the otherwise barren and parched deserts of profane literature.

As, however, the Psalms are ascribed to David, because he was the leading author, so the ascription of this book to Solomon is entirely consistent with the titles of the thirtieth and thirty-first chapters, which assign those chapters to Agur and Lemuel respectively. Of these persons we know nothing. This is not the place for discussing the various speculations respecting them. By a slight change of reading some propose to translate Pr 30:1: "The words of Agur, the son of her who was obeyed Massa," that is, "the queen of Massa"; and Pr 31:1: "The words of Lemuel, king of Massa"; but to this the earliest versions are contradictory, and nothing other than the strongest exegetical necessity ought to be allowed to justify a departure from a well-established reading and version when nothing useful to our knowledge is gained. It is better to confess ignorance than indulge in useless conjectures.

It is probable that out of the "three thousand proverbs" (1Ki 4:32) which Solomon spoke, he selected and edited Pr 1:1-24:34 during his life. Pr 25:1-29:27 were also of his production, and copied out in the days of Hezekiah, by his "men," perhaps the prophets Isaiah, Hosea, and Micah. Such a work was evidently in the spirit of this pious monarch, who set his heart so fully on a reformation of God's worship. Learned men have endeavored to establish the theory that Solomon himself was only a collector; or that the other parts of the book, as these chapters, were also selections by later hands; but the reasons adduced to maintain these views have never appeared so satisfactory as to change the usual opinions on the subject, which have the sanction of the most ancient and reliable authorities.

III. Divisions of the Book.—Such a work is, of course, not susceptible of any logical analysis. There are, however, some well-defined marks of division, so that very generally the book is divided into five or six parts.

1. The first contains nine chapters, in which are discussed and enforced by illustration, admonition, and encouragement the principles and blessings of wisdom, and the pernicious schemes and practices of sinful persons. These chapters are introductory. With few specimens of the proper proverb, they are distinguished by its conciseness and terseness. The sentences follow very strictly the form of parallelism, and generally of the synonymous species, only forty of the synthetic and four (Pr 3:32-35) of the antithetic appearing. The style is ornate, the figures bolder and fuller, and the illustrations more striking and extended.

2. The antithetic and synthetic parallelism to the exclusion of the synonymous distinguish Pr 10:1-22:16, and the verses are entirely unconnected, each containing a complete sense in itself.

3. Pr 22:16-24:34 present a series of admonitions as if addressed to a pupil, and generally each topic occupies two or more verses.

4. Pr 25:1-29:27 are entitled to be regarded as a distinct portion, for the reason given above as to its origin. The style is very much mixed; of the peculiarities, compare parts two and three.

5. Pr 30:1-33 is peculiar not only for its authorship, but as a specimen of the kind of proverb which has been described as "dark sayings" or "riddles."

6. To a few pregnant but concise admonitions, suitable for a king, is added a most inimitable portraiture of female character. In both parts five and six the distinctive peculiarity of the original proverbial style gives place to the modifications already mentioned as marking a later composition, though both retain the concise and nervous method of stating truth, equally valuable for its deep impression and permanent retention by the memory.


Pr 1:1-33. After the title the writer defines the design and nature of the instructions of the book. He paternally invites attention to those instructions and warns his readers against the enticements of the wicked. In a beautiful personification, wisdom is then introduced in a most solemn and impressive manner, publicly inviting men to receive its teachings, warning those who reject, and encouraging those who accept, the proffered instructions.

1-4. (See [638]Introduction, Part I).The use of the proverbs, Pro 1:1-6. An exhortation to fear God, and believe his word, Pro 1:7. The glory of those children that obey the instruction of their parents, Pro 1:8,9. A caution against yielding to enticing sinners, Pro 1:10. The contrivance, Pro 1:11,12, arguments, and invitation of these sinners, Pro 1:13,14. Reasons against complying with them, Pro 1:15-19. Wisdom's call to repentance, Pro 1:20-22. Her promise, Pro 1:23. Her complaints and threatenings, Pro 1:24-30. The fruit of sin, Pro 1:31,32. Peace to the penitent, Pro 1:33.

Proverbs are ancient, and wise, and short sayings in common use; whereof some are plain and easy, others are intricate and obscure.

Of Solomon; proceeding from Solomon, and most of them digested by him into this book. See the preface.

The proverbs of Solomon,.... Who is said to make three thousand proverbs, 1 Kings 4:32; but whether any of them are contained in this book cannot be said: however, it is certain that they are not all in it, since, if you except the first "nine" chapters, which are the introduction to the Proverbs, there are but six hundred and fifty-nine verses in it; and if they are taken in, they make but nine hundred and fifteen, which are not a third part of the proverbs said to be made by him: however, here are as many and such as God thought fit should be preserved for instruction in all future ages. It was usual with the ancients in all countries, when any truth was found, and established by experience, to wrap it up in a few apt words, with or without a figure; that it might be the better understood and more easily retained, and which were always venerable and greatly attended to: and of this kind are these proverbs; only with this difference, that these are of divine inspiration, and the others not. The word used for them comes from one which signifies "similitude" and "dominion" (g); because many of them are similes or comparisons, and are delivered out in figurative expressions, in metaphors and allegories, and the like; and have all of them a commanding power, authority, and influence upon the mind, obliging to an attention to them. The name of Solomon is put to them, the more to recommend them; who had a wise and understanding heart, as large as the sand of the sea, and was wiser than all men, 1 Kings 4:29; and was an eminent type of Christ, who spake in proverbs also, John 16:25. He is further described by his pedigree and office,

the son of David, king of Israel; a wise son of a wise father, and king over a wise and understanding people. These titles are added for the further commendation of the book; and it may be observed that they are such as belong to the Messiah, Solomon's antitype, one that is greater than he, Matthew 1:1.

(g) A rad. "dominatus est----lvmn comparatus, similis, consimilis factus est", Buxtorf. "Mirum est quod radix significans antoritatem cum imperio, significat etiam parabolas vel sermones figuratos----verba quae vocantur, habent autoritatem, nobis ideam immittunt, dicentis ut nos supereminentis, saltem sapientia, ingenio, doctrina; nos persuadent et pondere suo, quasi imperio noe ducunt". Gusset. Ebr. Comment. p. 845.

The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel;

The Argument - The wonderful love of God toward his Church is declared in this book: for as much as the sum and effect of the whole Scriptures is here set forth in these brief sentences, which partly contain doctrine, and partly manners, and also exhortations to both: of which the first nine Chapters are as a preface full of grave sentences and deep mysteries, to assure the hearts of men to the diligent reading of the parables that follow: which are left as a precious jewel to the Church, of those three thousand parables mentioned in 1Ki 4:32 and were gathered and committed to writing by Solomon's servants and incited by him.

The Title. Chap. Proverbs 1:11. proverbs] Properly resemblances. Here used of (1) short, pithy sentences, either couched in the form of a similitude, or comparison, or gathering up under their common principle or issue classes of events or actions, which resemble one another in the identity of that principle or issue; such proverbs forming the bulk of the Book from the 10th chapter to the end: (2) longer and more elaborate didactic addresses, such as are contained in the first nine chapters of the Book, and occasionally interspersed in its later portions. See Introd. ch. ii. p. 18.

of Solomon] This does not mean that Solomon was the author of the whole Book, for parts of it are distinctly ascribed to other authors (Proverbs 24:23, Proverbs 30:1, Proverbs 31:1), but that in the main it proceeds from him, and that he is the acknowledged father of this kind of Hebrew literature. See Introd. ch. iii. p. 25.

Verse 1. - The proverbs of Solomon. The word which is here translated "proverbs" is the original mishle (מִשְׁלֵי), the construct case of mashal (מָשָׁל), which, again, is derived from the verb mashal (מָשַׁל), signifying

(1) "to make like," "to assimilate," and

(2) "to have dominion" (Gesenius).

The radical signification of mashal is "comparison" or "similitude," and in this sense it is applied generally to the utterances of the wise. In Numbers 23:7, 8 it is used of the prophetic predictions of Balaam; certain didactic psalms, e.g. Psalm 49:5 and Psalm 78:2, are so designated, and in Job (Job 27:1 and Job 29:1) it describes the sententious discourses of wise men. While all these come under the generic term of m'shalim, though few or no comparisons are found in them, we find the term mashal sometimes used of what are proverbs in the sense of popular sayings. Compare "Therefore it became a proverb (מָשָׁל), Is Saul also among the prophets?" (1 Samuel 10:12); and see also other instances in Ezekiel 16:4 and Ezekiel 18:2. In this sense it is also found in the collection before us. The predominant idea of the term, however, is that of comparison or similitude, and as such it is better represented by the Greek παραβολή (from παραβάλλω, "to set or place side by side"), literally, a placing beside, or comparison, than by παροιμία, "a byword," or "a trite wayside saying," though in the Greek of the synoptic Gospels παροιμία is equivalent to παραβολή. The English word "proverb" insufficiently renders the wider scope of meaning conveyed in the Hebrew mashal, and is not quite accurately rendered here, since of proverbs in our ordinary signification of that word there are comparatively few in this collection. The Hebrew word here means "maxims," "aphorisms," "wise counsels." Of Solomon. Most modern commentators (Delitzsch, Zockler, Fuerst, Stuart, Plumptre, etc.), while attributing, in a greater or less degree, the authorship of the book to Solomon, regard the insertion of his name in the title as indicating rather that he is the dominant spirit among those wise men of his age, some of whose sayings are here incorporated with his own. King of Israel, as forming the second hemistich of the verse, goes with "Solomon," and not "David." This is indicated in the Authorized Version by the position of the comma. The Arabic Version omits allusion to David, and reads, "Proverbia, nempe documenta Salomonis sapientis, qui regnavit super filios Israel." The proverbial or parabolic form of teaching was a recognized mode of instruction among the Hebrews, and in the Christian Church is recommended by St. Clement of Alexandria ('Strom.,' lib. 11, init.). Proverbs 1:1The external title, i.e., the Synagogue name, of the whole collection of Proverbs is משׁלי (Mishle), the word with which it commences. Origen (Euseb. h. e. vi. 25) uses the name Μισλώθ, i.e., משׁלות, which occurs in the Talmud and Midrash as the designation of the book, from its contents. In a similar way, the names given to the Psalter, תּהלּים and תּהלּות, are interchanged.

This external title is followed by one which the Book of Proverbs, viewed as to its gradual formation, and first the older portion, gives to itself. It reaches from Proverbs 1:1 to Proverbs 1:6, and names not only the contents and the author of the book, but also commends it in regard to the service which it is capable of rendering. It contains "Proverbs of Solomon, the son of David, king of Israel." The books of the נבואה and חכמה, including the Canticles, thus give their own titles; among the historical books, that of the memoirs of Nehemiah is the only one that does so. משׁלי has the accent Dech, to separate

(Note: Norzi has erroneously accented משלי with the accent Munach. The מ is besides the Masoretic majusculum, like the ב, שׁ, and א at the commencement of the Law, the Canticles, and Chronicles.)

it from the following complex genitive which it governs, and מלך ישׂראל is made the second hemistich, because it belongs to שׁלמה, not to דּוד.

(Note: If it had belonged to דוד, then the sentence would have been accented thus: משׁלי שלמה בן־דוד מלך ישראל.)

As to the fundamental idea of the word משׁל, we refer to the derivation given in the Gesch. der jud. Poesie, p. 196, from משׁל, Aram. מתל, root תל, Sanskr. tul (whence tul, balance, similarity), Lat. tollere; the comparison of the Arab. mathal leads to the same conclusion. "משׁל signifies, not, as Schultens and others after him affirm, effigies ad similitudinem alius rei expressa, from משׁל in the primary signification premere, premente manu tractare; for the corresponding Arab. verb mathal does not at all bear that meaning, but signifies to stand, to present oneself, hence to be like, properly to put oneself forth as something, to represent it; and in the Hebr. also to rule, properly with על to stand on or over something, with בּ to hold it erect, like Arab. kam with b, rem administravit [vid. Jesaia, p. 691]. Thus e.g., Genesis 24:2, it is said of Eliezer: המּשׁל בּכל־אשׁר־לו, who ruled over all that he (Abraham) had (Luther: was a prince over all his goods). Thus משׁל, figurative discourse which represents that which is real, similitude; hence then parable or shorter apothegm, proverb, in so far as they express primarily something special, but which as a general symbol is then applied to everything else of a like kind, and in so far stands figuratively. An example is found in 1 Samuel 10:11. It is incorrect to conclude from this meaning of the word that such memorial sayings or proverbs usually contained comparisons, or were clothed in figurative language; for that is the case in by far the fewest number of instances: the oldest have by far the simplest and most special interpretations" (Fleischer). Hence Mashal, according to its fundamental idea, is that which stands with something equals makes something stand forth equals representing. This something that represents may be a thing or a person; as e.g., one may say Job is a Mashal, i.e., a representant, similitude, type of Israel (vide the work entitled עץ החיים, by Ahron b. Elia, c. 90, p. 143); and, like Arab. mathal (more commonly mithl equals משׁל, cf. משׁל, Job 41:25), is used quite as generally as is its etymological cogn. instar (instare). But in Hebr. Mashal always denotes representing discourse with the additional marks of the figurative and concise, e.g., the section which presents (Habakkuk 2:6) him to whom it refers as a warning example, but particularly, as there defined, the gnome, the apothegm or maxim, in so far as this represents general truths in sharply outlined little pictures.

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