Proverbs 8:23
I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.
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(23) I was set up.—An unusual word; also applied to our Lord in Psalm 2:6 when “set” as King on Zion.

8:22-31 The Son of God declares himself to have been engaged in the creation of the world. How able, how fit is the Son of God to be the Saviour of the world, who was the Creator of it! The Son of God was ordained, before the world, to that great work. Does he delight in saving wretched sinners, and shall not we delight in his salvation?I was set up - Rather, "I was anointed" (compare Psalm 2:6 margin: 2 Chronicles 28:15). The image is that of Wisdom anointed, as at her birth, with "the oil of gladness."

Or ever the earth was - literally, "from the times before the earth."

23. I was set up—ordained, or inaugurated (Ps 2:6). The other terms carry out the idea of the earliest antiquity, and illustrate it by the details of creation [Pr 8:24-29]. Set up, Heb. anointed; ordained or constituted to be the person by whom the Father resolved to do all his works, first to create, and then to uphold, and govern, and judge, and afterwards to redeem and save the world; all which works are particularly ascribed to the Son of God, as is manifest from John 1:1, &c.; Colossians 1:16,17 Heb 1:3, and many other places, as we may see hereafter in their several places.

From the beginning; before which there was nothing but a vast eternity.

Or ever the earth was; which he mentions, because this, together with the heaven, was the first of God’s visible works. I was set up from everlasting,.... I, a person, and not a quality; a person, and not a nature; the person of Christ as the Son of God, and not the human nature of Christ, which then did not exist; this phrase designs the ordination and constitution of Christ in his office as Mediator. So the Vulgate Latin version renders it, "I was ordained"; Christ was foreordained to be the Redeemer and Saviour of men, to be the propitiation for their sins, to be the head of the church, and the Judge of the world. It intends likewise his inauguration into his office, and his investiture with it; and because anointing with oil was used in installing persons into the offices of prophet, priest, and king; hence Christ's instalment into his office as Mediator is here expressed by an anointing; for the words may be rendered, "I was anointed" (i); it takes in all that goes to his constitution as Mediator, his call, appointment, and investiture; and the whole of his office, every part and branch of it; and chiefly his kingly office, with reference to which the same word is used Psalm 2:6; and so Gersom paraphrases it,

"and there were given to me power, dominion, and greatness;''

all which suppose the eternity of his person; for had he not existed from everlasting, he could not have been set up, and anointed as Mediator, or invested with his office as such;

from the beginning, or ever the earth was; or from the first of the earth, or the original of it; that is, before all time, before the earth or anything was created; this further confirms the eternal existence of Christ's person, the antiquity of his office, the early provision of grace in him as Mediator for his people, and may lead to entertain high and honourable thoughts of him.

(i) "uncta sum", Cocceius, Michaelis, Schultens; "inuncta fui", Gejerus.

{l} I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.

(l) He declares the eternity of the Son of God, who was before all time, and ever present with the father.

23. set up] Gesenius renders anointed here and in Psalm 2:6, where the same word occurs. But “the verb means ‘to pour out,’ and then ‘to pour metals in a state of fusion into a mould’: hence it passes over into the meaning of setting fast, establishing, &c. So the Niph, Proverbs 8:23, and hence נָסִיךְ means, not ‘one anointed,’ but ‘one appointed’ to his office.” Bp. Perowne, Crit. Note on Psalm 2:6. See also note there in this Series.

ἐθεμελίωσέ με, LXX., ordinata sum, Vulg.

Verse 23. - I was set up from everlasting. The verb used here is remarkable. It is נָסַך(nasak), in niph.; and it is found in Psalm 2:6, "I have set my King upon my holy hill." Both here and there it has been translated "anointed," which would make a noteworthy reference to Christ. But there seems no proof that the word has this meaning. It signifies properly "to pour forth" (as of molten metal), then "to put down," "to appoint or establish." The versions recognize this. Thus the Septuagint, "he established (ἐθεμελίωσε) me;" Vulgate, ordinata sum; Aquila, κατεστάθην; Symmachus, προεχείρισμαι; Venetian, κέχυμαι (comp. Ecclus. 1:9). So what is here said is that Wisdom was from everlasting exalted as ruler and disposer of all things. To express eternal relation, three synonymous terms are used. From everlasting; πρὸ τοῦ αἰῶνος, Septuagint, as Delitzsch notes, points back to infinite distance. From the beginning; i.e. before the world was begun to be made; as St. John says (John 1:1), "In the beginning was the Word;" and Christ prays, "Glorify thou me with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was" (John 17:5). Or ever the earth was. This looks to the most remote time after the actual creation, while the earth was being formed and adapted. The discourse of Wisdom makes a fresh departure, as at Proverbs 8:13 : she tells how, to those who love her, she repays this love:

17 "I love them that love me,

     And they that seek me early find me.

18 Riches and honour are with me,

     Durable riches and righteousness.

19 Better is my fruit than pure and fine gold,

     And my revenue (better) than choice silver.

20 In the way of righteousness do Iwalk,

     In the midst of the paths of justice.

21 To give an inheritance to them that love me

     And I fill their treasuries."

The Chethı̂b אהביה (ego hos qui eam amant redamo), Gesenius, Lehrgeb. 196, 5, regards as a possible synallage (eam equals me), but one would rather think that it ought to be read (יהוה equals ) 'אהבי ה. The ancients all have the reading אהבי. אהב ( equals אאהב, with the change of the éě into ê, and the compression of the radical א; cf. אמר, תּבא, Proverbs 1:10) is the form of the fut. Kal, which is inflected תּאהבוּ, Proverbs 1:22. Regarding שׁחר (the Graec. Venet. well: οἱ ὀρθρίζοντές μοι), vid., Proverbs 1:28, where the same epenthet. fut. form is found.

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