Proverbs 9:1
Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars:
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(o). Fifteenth Discourse: the Invitations of Wisdom and Folly (Proverbs 9).

(1) Wisdom hath builded her house—i.e., in preparation for the feast to which she is about to invite her guests. It is not an unusual custom in the Old Testament to describe intimate communion with God, and the refreshment which the soul of man thereby receives, under the figure of a festival. Thus in Exodus 24:11, when the elders of Israel were admitted to the vision of the Almighty, they “did eat and drink.” The same idea occurs frequently in the prophets also (as Isaiah 25:6; Isaiah 65:13; Zephaniah 1:7-8); and is brought out in the New Testament with great fulness in the parables of the great supper (Luke 14) and the marriage of the king’s son (Matthew 22). Christ, the supreme Wisdom, has “builded His house” by taking man’s flesh at His Incarnation, and thus rearing for Himself a “temple of the Holy Ghost” (John 2:19); and also by building for Himself a “spiritual house” (1Peter 2:5), “the house of God, which is the church of the living God” (1Timothy 3:15). (For references to the Fathers, see Bishop Wordsworth.) In the previous chapter Christ’s work as Creator was described; now He is set forth as Regenerator of mankind.

She hath hewn out her seven pillars.—Suggestive of the sevenfold gifts of the Spirit (Isaiah 11:2 Revelation 1:4), typified by the seven-branched candlestick of the Tabernacle (Exodus 25:37).

Proverbs 9:1. Wisdom, &c. — Wisdom here, under a most splendid allegory, is represented “as a queen, sitting in her royal palace, and inviting mortals to a banquet, plentifully furnished with the richest dainties, that they may be fed with celestial delights for a blessed immortality. Various have been the endeavours of commentators to apply every circumstance in this description; but it has been well observed, that whoever would do so, will find themselves in a great error, and quite ignorant of the nature of parabolical writings; for parables may be compared to history paintings, which are intended to convey a general idea, which is to be gathered from the collective body of images, not from any particular figure; the minute circumstances are to be considered only as heightenings of the piece; but the conclusion or general maxim is to be drawn from the scope and assemblage of the whole:” see Schultens and Dodd. Hath builded her house — For the reception and entertainment of her guests; she hath hewn out her seven pillars — That is, many pillars, the number seven being put for any perfect number. Hereby the beauty and stability of the building are signified. Or, perhaps, it is to be understood of the erection of a portico, in which the banquet was to be prepared. This house is opposed to the harlot’s house, mentioned Proverbs 7:8, and was considered by many of the ancient fathers, as it has also been by many modern commentators, as representing the church, which Christ, the Wisdom of the Father, hath erected and established in the world, which is termed God’s house, (1 Timothy 3:15; Hebrews 3:3-4,) in which the prophets, apostles, and ministers of religion are pillars, (Galatians 2:9,) and in which a feast of fat things is provided for all that will partake of it: see Isaiah 25:6, and especially the parables, Matthew 22:1-14, and Luke 14:16-24, which greatly illustrate this allegory of Solomon.

9:1-12 Christ has prepared ordinances to which his people are admitted, and by which nourishment is given here to those that believe in him, as well as mansions in heaven hereafter. The ministers of the gospel go forth to invite the guests. The call is general, and shuts out none that do not shut out themselves. Our Saviour came, not to call the righteous, but sinners; not the wise in their own eyes, who say they see. We must keep from the company and foolish pleasures of the ungodly, or we never can enjoy the pleasures of a holy life. It is vain to seek the company of wicked men in the hope of doing them good; we are far more likely to be corrupted by them. It is not enough to forsake the foolish, we must join those that walk in wisdom. There is no true wisdom but in the way of religion, no true life but in the end of that way. Here is the happiness of those that embrace it. A man cannot be profitable to God; it is for our own good. Observe the shame and ruin of those who slight it. God is not the Author of sin: and Satan can only tempt, he cannot force. Thou shalt bear the loss of that which thou scornest: it will add to thy condemnation.A parable full of beauty, and interesting in its parallelism to the parables of our Lord Matthew 22:3-4; Luke 14:16.

Seven pillars - The number is chosen as indicating completeness and perfection. God revealing Himself in nature, resting in His work, entering into covenant with human beings - these were the ideas conveyed by it.


Pr 9:1-18. The commendation of wisdom is continued, under the figure of a liberal host, and its provisions under that of a feast (compare Lu 14:16-24). The character of those who are invited is followed by a contrasted description of the rejectors of good counsel; and with the invitations of wisdom are contrasted the allurement of the wicked woman.

1. house—(compare Pr 8:34).

her—or, "its" (the house).

seven pillars—the number seven for many, or a sufficiency (Pr 6:31).Wisdom’s call to her people unto blessed communion and fellowship with herself, set out under a similitude of making a feast, Proverbs 9:1. Her preparation, Proverbs 9:2, and invitation, Proverbs 9:3-5. She dehorteth from evil company, Proverbs 9:6. Her counsel concerning reproof and instruction, Proverbs 9:7-9. A description of the fear of God, Proverbs 9:10, with the benefits thereof, Proverbs 9:11,12. The nature of a foolish woman, Proverbs 9:13-15. Her invitation, Proverbs 9:16, and arguments to insnare the simple, Proverbs 9:17. The miserable state of them that are deceived by her, Proverbs 9:18.

Hath builded her house, for the reception and entertainment of her guests, as appears from the following passages. This house is opposed to the harlot’s house, mentioned Proverbs 7:8; and it is to be understood, either,

1. Of the heavenly house, or the palace of glory; or rather,

2. Of the church, which Christ, the Wisdom of the Father, hath erected and established in the world, in which this following feast is made, which is called God’s house, 1 Timothy 3:15 Hebrews 3:3,4.

Seven, i.e. many pillars; whereby is intimated both the beauty and the stability of the church. Pillars; prophets, and apostles, and ministers of holy things, which in Scripture are called pillars, as Galatians 2:9, and elsewhere.

Wisdom hath builded her house,.... Or "Wisdoms": of which see Proverbs 1:20; Christ, the Wisdom of God, is meant, in whom and from whom all wisdom is. Various are the opinions concerning this house built by him. Some take it to be the whole circle of sciences, and the seven pillars to be the seven liberal ones, as Aben Ezra; though rather, as others, it may design the schools of the prophets, in which young men were trained up in the knowledge of divine and spiritual things. Some would have the whole universe to be meant, and the seven pillars to be the seven days of creation, as Jarchi; or the seven planets, as others: it is an odd notion of Grotius, that the human body is intended, with its five senses; and, to make up the number seven, adds the voice and memory: rather the human nature of Christ, which is a temple, a tabernacle, a house in which the Godhead dwells, is built by Wisdom, made without the hands of men; and then its seven pillars are the graces of the Spirit, by which it was supported and adorned; see Isaiah 11:2; Some understand it of the temple of a regenerate man's heart; in which God, Father, Son and Spirit, dwell. But there are two other senses, which bid fairest one of them to be right; either the heavenly glory, the house not made with hands, Christ's Father's house, in which are many mansions for his people; and which is a city whose builder and maker is God, and is prepared by Christ; and stands firm upon the promises of God, the person, blood, and righteousness of Christ, and the grace of the blessed Spirit: or rather the church of Christ on earth, the house of the living God, the pillar and ground of truth; this is built by Christ upon himself, the rock and foundation; the materials of it are true believers, precious and lively stones; built up a spiritual house, and a fit and suitable habitation for God through the Spirit. Such a house there was under the Old Testament, and such an one there is under the New; and which is continually building up by Christ by means of the word and ordinances, and will continue to the end of the world; see 1 Timothy 3:15;

she hath hewn out her seven pillars; ministers of the Gospel, compared to pillars for strength and stability, and for their being instrumental in supporting the interest and church of Christ; in allusion to the pillars in Solomon's temple, Jachin and Boaz; see Galatians 2:9. These are said to be "hewn", being polished, beautified, and adorned with the gifts and graces of the Spirit by Christ, and thereby fitted for their work and service; and said to be "seven", because there is a complete and sufficient number of them, which Christ has provided, and always will provide for his churches, as long as they continue in the world. Though it may be these seven pillars may denote in general the firmness and solidity of this spiritual building, the church, and the continuance of it by the power of God; or they may have respect to the seven states of the church in so many periods of time, to last to the end of all things, signified by the seven churches in the book of the Revelation; so Cocceius (c).

(c) Vid. Lexic. Heb. col. 623.

Wisdom hath built her {a} house, she hath hewn out her {b} seven pillars:

(a) Christ has prepared him a Church.

(b) That is, many chief supports and principal parts of his Church, as were the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, pastors and teachers.

1. seven pillars] “Pillars form an important feature in Oriental architecture, partly perhaps as a reminiscence of the tent with its supporting poles, and partly also from the use of flat roofs, in consequence of which the chambers were either narrower, or divided into portions by columns.” Smith’s Dict. of Bible, Art. Pillar.

Here, however, it is better to suppose that the great banquet-hall is open all along the front, so as it were to invite entrance, the roof being supported by a row (‘seven’ is the usual symbol of completeness) of stately pillars. The magnificent hall in which the lords of the Philistines sat and watched Samson making sport in the court-yard outside, while on its flat roof no fewer than 3000 people were assembled, was constructed on this principle; the two central pillars of the colonnade forming a chief support of the roof (Jdg 16:25-30).

Verses 1-18. - 15. Fifteenth admonitory discourse, containing in a parabolic form an invitation of Wisdom (vers. 1-12), and that of her rival Folly (vers. 13-18). The chapter sums up in brief the warnings of the preceding part. Verse 1. - Wisdom was represented as having a house at whose portals persons waited eagerly for admission (Proverbs 8:34); the idea is further carried on. Wisdom hath builded her house. (For the plural form of khochmoth, "wisdom," a plural of excellency, see on Proverbs 1:20.) As the "strange woman" in ch. 7. possessed a house to which she seduced her victim, so Wisdom is represented as having a house which she has made and adorned, and to which she invites her pupils. Spiritual writers see here two references - one to Christ's incarnation, when he built for himself a human body (John 2:19); and another to his work in forming the Church, which is his mystical body (1 Peter 2:5). And the sublime language used in this section is not satisfied with the bare notion that we have here only an allegorical representation of Wisdom calling followers to her. Rather we are constrained to see a Divine intimation of the office and work of Christ, not only the Creator of the world, as in ch. 8, but its Regenerator. She hath hewn out her seven pillars. Architecturally, according to Hitzig and others, the pillars of the inner court are meant, which supported the gallery of the first story. Four of these were m the corners, three in the middle of three sides, while the entrance to the court was through the fourth side of the square. The number seven generally denotes perfection; it is the covenant number, expressive of harmony and unity generally, the signature of holiness and blessing, completeness and rest. So in the Apocalypse the whole Church is represented by the number of seven Churches (Revelation 1:4, etc.; see on Proverbs 26:16). Wisdom's house is said to be thus founded because of its perfection and adaptability to all states of men. But doubtless there is a reference to the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit, which rested upon the Christ (Isaiah 11:2, etc.), and which are the support and strength of the Church, being symbolized by the seven-branched candlestick in the temple. Proverbs 9:1The preceding discourse pronounces those happy who, having taken their stand at the portal of Wisdom, wait for her appearance and her invitation. There is thus a house of Wisdom as there is a house of God, Psalm 84:11; and if now the discourse is of a house of Wisdom, and of an invitation to a banquet therein (like that in the parable, Matthew 22, of the invitation to the marriage feast of the king's son), it is not given without preparation:

1 Wisdom hath builded for herself an house,

   Hewn out her seven pillars;

2 Hath slaughtered her beasts, mingled her wine;

   Hath also spread her table;

3 Hath sent out her maidens; she waiteth

   On the highest points of the city.

Proverbs 9:1

Regarding חכמות, vid., at Proverbs 1:20. It is a plur. excellentiae, which is a variety of the plur. extensivus. Because it is the expression of a plural unity, it stands connected (as for the most part also אלהים, Deus) with the sing. of the predicate. The perfects enumerate all that Wisdom has done to prepare for her invitation. If we had a parable before us, the perf. would have run into the historical ותּשׁלח; but it is, as the תקרא shows, an allegorical picture of the arrangement and carrying out of a present reality. Instead of בּנתה לּהּ בּית there is בּנתה בּיתהּ, for the house is already in its origin represented as hers, and 1b is to be translated: she has hewn out her seven pillars (Hitzig); more correctly: her pillars, viz., seven (after the scheme דבּתם רעה, Genesis 37:2); but the construction is closer. שׁבעה is, altogether like Exodus 25:37, the accusative of the second object, or of the predicate after the species of verba, with the idea: to make something, turn into something, which take to themselves a double accusative, Gesen. 139, 2: excidit columnas suas ita ut septem essent. Since the figure is allegorical, we may not dispense with the interpretation of the number seven by the remark, "No emphasis lies in the number" (Bertheau). First, we must contemplate architecturally the house with seven pillars: "They are," as Hitzig rightly remarks, "the pillars of the מסדּרון (porch) [vid. Bachmann under Judges 3:23, and Wetstein under Psalm 144:12, where חטב is used of the cutting out and hewing of wood, as חצב of the cutting out and hewing of stone] in the inner court, which bore up the gallery of the first (and second) floors: four of these in the corners and three in the middle of three sides; through the midst of these the way led into the court of the house-floor the area." But we cannot agree with Hitzig in maintaining that, with the seven pillars of chap. 8 and 9, the author looks back to the first seven chapters (Arab. âbwab, gates) of this book; we think otherwise of the component members of this Introduction to the Book of Proverbs; and to call the sections of a book "gates, שׁערים," is a late Arabico-Jewish custom, of which there is found no trace whatever in the O.T. To regard them also, with Heidenheim (cf. Dante's Prose Writings, translated by Streckfuss, p. 77), as representing the seven liberal arts (שׁבע חכמות) is impracticable; for this division of the artes liberales into seven, consisting of the Trivium (Grammar, Rhetoric, and Dialectics) and Quadrivium (Music, Arithmetic, Geometry, and Astronomy), is not to be looked for within the old Israelitish territory, and besides, these were the sciences of this world which were so divided; but wisdom, to which the discourse here refers, is wholly a religious-moral subject. The Midrash thinks of the seven heavens (שׁבעה רקיעים), or the seven climates or parts of the earth (שׁבעה ארצות), as represented by them; but both references require artificial combinations, and have, as also the reference to the seven church-eras (Vitringa and Chr. Ben. Michaelis), this against them, that they are rendered probable neither from these introductory proverbial discourses, nor generally from the O.T. writings. The patristic and middle-age reference to the seven sacraments of the church passes sentence against itself; but the old interpretation is on the right path, when it suggests that the seven pillars are the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost. The seven-foldness of the manifestation of the Spirit, already brought near by the seven lamps of the sacred candelabra (the מנורה), is established by Isaiah 11:2 (vid., l.c.); and that Wisdom is the possessor and dispenser of the Spirit she herself testifies, Proverbs 1:23. Her Spirit is the "Spirit of wisdom;" but at the same time, since, born of God, she is mediatrix between God and the world, also the "Spirit of Jahve," He is the "spirit of understanding," the "spirit of counsel," and the "spirit of might" (Isaiah 11:2); for she says, Proverbs 8:14, "Counsel is mine, and reflection; I am understanding, I have strength." He is also the "spirit of knowledge," and the "spirit of the fear of the Lord" (Isaiah 11:2); for fear and the knowledge of Jahve are, according to Proverbs 9:14, the beginning of wisdom, and essentially wisdom itself.

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