The great literary landmarks of the 'wisdom' teaching are the Books of Proverbs, Job, Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes, Sirach, and the Wisdom of Solomon. This literature, in its present form at least, belongs to the latter half of the Persian period and to the Greek period of Jewish history. But behind this latest and finest product of the Hebrew mind there lay a long process of germination. In the pre-exilic history there are traces of the presence of the 'wisdom' element from early times. This primitive 'wisdom' was not regarded as an exclusively Israelitish possession, but was shared with other nations (1Ki 4:30-31; Ge 41:8; Jg 5:29; Jer 10:7; Eze 27:8). In Israel it was confined neither to rank (1Ki 10:28; De 16:19; Job 32:9) nor to sex (2Sa 14:1 ff; 2Sa 20:22); but it was particularly characteristic of 'the elders' (De 1:16; Job 12:12; 32:7), and in course of time seems to have given rise to a special class of teachers known as 'the Wise' (Jer 18:18).
Early 'Wisdom' was varied in character and of as wide a scope as the range of human activities. It thus included the most heterogeneous elements: e.g. mechanical skill (1Ki 7:14), statecraft (1Ki 5:12), financial and commercial ability (Eze 28), political trickery (1Ki 2:6), common sense and tact (2Sa 14; 20:14-22), learning (1Ki 3:16-28), military skill and administrative ability (Isa 10:13), piety (De 4:6), and the creative energy of God (Jer 10:12). In short, any capacity possessed in an exceptional degree was recognized as 'wisdom,' and was regarded as the gift of God. But there was already manifest a marked tendency to magnify the ethical and religious elements of 'wisdom,' which later came to their full recognition.
In pre-exilic Israel, however, 'wisdom' played a relatively small part in religion. The vital, progressive religious spirit exhausted itself in prophecy. Here was laid the foundation of all the later 'wisdom.' Not only laid the prophets hand down the literary forms through which the sages expressed themselves, e.g. riddle (Jg 14:14-18), fable (Jg 9:3-15), parable (2Sa 12:1-3; Isa 5:1-5), proverb (1Sa 10:12; Jer 31:29), essay (Isa 28:23-29), lyric, address, etc., but they also wrought out certain great ideas that were presupposed in all the later 'wisdom.' These were: (a) monotheism, which found free course in Deuteronomy, Jeremiah, and Deutero-Isaiah; (b) individualism, or the responsibility of the individual before God for his own sins and for the sins of no one else
Now in the morning his spirit was troubled, so he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt, and all its wise men And Pharaoh told them his dreams, but there was no one who could interpret them to Pharaoh.
"Then I charged your judges at that time, saying, 'Hear the cases between your fellow countrymen, and judge righteously between a man and his fellow countryman, or the alien who is with him.
"So keep and do them, for that is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes and say, 'Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.'
"You shall not distort justice; you shall not be partial, and you shall not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and perverts the words of the righteous.
"Her wise princesses would answer her, Indeed she repeats her words to herself,
And his mother's relatives spoke all these words on his behalf in the hearing of all the leaders of Shechem; and they were inclined to follow Abimelech, for they said, "He is our relative." They gave him seventy pieces of silver from the house of Baal-berith with which Abimelech hired worthless and reckless fellows, and they followed him. read more. Then he went to his father's house at Ophrah and killed his brothers the sons of Jerubbaal, seventy men, on one stone. But Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left, for he hid himself. All the men of Shechem and all Beth-millo assembled together, and they went and made Abimelech king, by the oak of the pillar which was in Shechem. Now when they told Jotham, he went and stood on the top of Mount Gerizim, and lifted his voice and called out. Thus he said to them, "Listen to me, O men of Shechem, that God may listen to you. "Once the trees went forth to anoint a king over them, and they said to the olive tree, 'Reign over us!' "But the olive tree said to them, 'Shall I leave my fatness with which God and men are honored, and go to wave over the trees?' "Then the trees said to the fig tree, 'You come, reign over us!' "But the fig tree said to them, 'Shall I leave my sweetness and my good fruit, and go to wave over the trees?' "Then the trees said to the vine, 'You come, reign over us!' "But the vine said to them, 'Shall I leave my new wine, which cheers God and men, and go to wave over the trees?' "Finally all the trees said to the bramble, 'You come, reign over us!' "The bramble said to the trees, 'If in truth you are anointing me as king over you, come and take refuge in my shade; but if not, may fire come out from the bramble and consume the cedars of Lebanon.'
So he said to them, "Out of the eater came something to eat, And out of the strong came something sweet." But they could not tell the riddle in three days. Then it came about on the fourth day that they said to Samson's wife, "Entice your husband, so that he will tell us the riddle, or we will burn you and your father's house with fire. Have you invited us to impoverish us? Is this not so?" read more. Samson's wife wept before him and said, "You only hate me, and you do not love me; you have propounded a riddle to the sons of my people, and have not told it to me." And he said to her, "Behold, I have not told it to my father or mother; so should I tell you?" However she wept before him seven days while their feast lasted. And on the seventh day he told her because she pressed him so hard. She then told the riddle to the sons of her people. So the men of the city said to him on the seventh day before the sun went down, "What is sweeter than honey? And what is stronger than a lion?" And he said to them, "If you had not plowed with my heifer, You would not have found out my riddle."
A man there said, "Now, who is their father?" Therefore it became a proverb: "Is Saul also among the prophets?"
Then the LORD sent Nathan to David And he came to him and said, "There were two men in one city, the one rich and the other poor. "The rich man had a great many flocks and herds. read more. "But the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb Which he bought and nourished; And it grew up together with him and his children. It would eat of his bread and drink of his cup and lie in his bosom, And was like a daughter to him.
Now Joab the son of Zeruiah perceived that the king's heart was inclined toward Absalom.
Then the woman wisely came to all the people And they cut off the head of Sheba the son of Bichri and threw it to Joab So he blew the trumpet, and they were dispersed from the city, each to his tent. Joab also returned to the king at Jerusalem.
"So act according to your wisdom, and do not let his gray hair go down to Sheol in peace.
Then two women who were harlots came to the king and stood before him. The one woman said, "Oh, my lord, this woman and I live in the same house; and I gave birth to a child while she was in the house. read more. "It happened on the third day after I gave birth, that this woman also gave birth to a child, and we were together. There was no stranger with us in the house, only the two of us in the house. "This woman's son died in the night, because she lay on it. "So she arose in the middle of the night and took my son from beside me while your maidservant slept, and laid him in her bosom, and laid her dead son in my bosom. "When I rose in the morning to nurse my son, behold, he was dead; but when I looked at him carefully in the morning, behold, he was not my son, whom I had borne." Then the other woman said, "No! For the living one is my son, and the dead one is your son." But the first woman said, "No! For the dead one is your son, and the living one is my son." Thus they spoke before the king. Then the king said, "The one says, 'This is my son who is living, and your son is the dead one'; and the other says, 'No! For your son is the dead one, and my son is the living one.'" The king said, "Get me a sword." So they brought a sword before the king. The king said, "Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one and half to the other." Then the woman whose child was the living one spoke to the king, for she was deeply stirred over her son and said, "Oh, my lord, give her the living child, and by no means kill him." But the other said, "He shall be neither mine nor yours; divide him!" Then the king said, "Give the first woman the living child, and by no means kill him. She is his mother." When all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had handed down, they feared the king, for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him to administer justice.
Solomon's wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the sons of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than all men, than Ethan the Ezrahite, Heman, Calcol and Darda, the sons of Mahol; and his fame was known in all the surrounding nations.
The LORD gave wisdom to Solomon, just as He promised him; and there was peace between Hiram and Solomon, and the two of them made a covenant.
He was a widow's son from the tribe of Naphtali, and his father was a man of Tyre, a worker in bronze; and he was filled with wisdom and understanding and skill for doing any work in bronze So he came to King Solomon and performed all his work.
Also Solomon's import of horses was from Egypt and Kue, and the king's merchants procured them from Kue for a price.
"Wisdom is with aged men, With long life is understanding.
"I thought age should speak, And increased years should teach wisdom.
"The abundant in years may not be wise, Nor may elders understand justice.
"The LORD possessed me at the beginning of His way, Before His works of old. "From everlasting I was established, From the beginning, from the earliest times of the earth. read more. "When there were no depths I was brought forth, When there were no springs abounding with water. "Before the mountains were settled, Before the hills I was brought forth; While He had not yet made the earth and the fields, Nor the first dust of the world. "When He established the heavens, I was there, When He inscribed a circle on the face of the deep, When He made firm the skies above, When the springs of the deep became fixed, When He set for the sea its boundary So that the water would not transgress His command, When He marked out the foundations of the earth; Then I was beside Him, as a master workman; And I was daily His delight, Rejoicing always before Him, Rejoicing in the world, His earth, And having my delight in the sons of men.
Let me sing now for my well-beloved A song of my beloved concerning His vineyard. My well-beloved had a vineyard on a fertile hill. He dug it all around, removed its stones, And planted it with the choicest vine And He built a tower in the middle of it And also hewed out a wine vat in it; Then He expected it to produce good grapes, But it produced only worthless ones. read more. "And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, Judge between Me and My vineyard. "What more was there to do for My vineyard that I have not done in it? Why, when I expected it to produce good grapes did it produce worthless ones? "So now let Me tell you what I am going to do to My vineyard: I will remove its hedge and it will be consumed; I will break down its wall and it will become trampled ground.
For he has said, "By the power of my hand and by my wisdom I did this, For I have understanding; And I removed the boundaries of the peoples And plundered their treasures, And like a mighty man I brought down their inhabitants,
Give ear and hear my voice, Listen and hear my words. Does the farmer plow continually to plant seed? Does he continually turn and harrow the ground? read more. Does he not level its surface And sow dill and scatter cummin And plant wheat in rows, Barley in its place and rye within its area? For his God instructs and teaches him properly. For dill is not threshed with a threshing sledge, Nor is the cartwheel driven over cummin; But dill is beaten out with a rod, and cummin with a club. Grain for bread is crushed, Indeed, he does not continue to thresh it forever. Because the wheel of his cart and his horses eventually damage it, He does not thresh it longer. This also comes from the LORD of hosts, Who has made His counsel wonderful and His wisdom great.
Who would not fear You, O King of the nations? Indeed it is Your due! For among all the wise men of the nations And in all their kingdoms, There is none like You.
It is He who made the earth by His power, Who established the world by His wisdom; And by His understanding He has stretched out the heavens.
Then they said, "Come and let us devise plans against Jeremiah Surely the law is not going to be lost to the priest, nor counsel to the sage, nor the divine word to the prophet! Come on and let us strike at him with our tongue, and let us give no heed to any of his words."
"In those days they will not say again, 'The fathers have eaten sour grapes, And the children's teeth are set on edge.'
WISDOM is put for that prudence and discretion which enables a man to perceive that which is fit to be done, according to the circumstances of time, place, persons, manners, and end of doing, Ec 2:13-14. It was this sort of wisdom that Solomon intreated of God with so much earnestness, and which God granted him with such divine liberality, 1Ki 3:9,12,28. It also signifies quickness of invention, and dexterity in the execution of several works, which require not so much strength of body, as industry, and labour of the mind. For example, God told Moses, Ex 31:3, that he had filled Bezaleel and Aholiab with wisdom, and understanding, and knowledge, to invent and perform several sorts of work for completing the tabernacle. It is used for craft, cunning, and stratagem, and that whether good or evil. Thus it is said by Moses, that Pharaoh dealt wisely with the Israelites, when he opposed them in Egypt, Ex 1:10; it is observed of Jonadab; the friend of Ammon, and nephew of David, that he was very wise, that is, very subtle and crafty, 2Sa 13:3; and Job 5:13, says, that God "taketh the wine in their own craftiness." Wisdom means also doctrine, learning, and experience: "With the ancient is wisdom, and in length of days understanding," Job 12:12. It is put for true piety, or the fear of God, which is spiritual wisdom: "So teach us to number our days, that we may apply or hearts unto wisdom," Ps 90:12; "The fear of the Lord that is wisdom," Job 27:23. Wisdom is put for the eternal Wisdom, the Word of God. It was by wisdom that God established the heavens, and founded the earth, Pr 3:19. How magnificently does Solomon describe the primeval birth of the eternal Son of God, under the character of Wisdom personified; to which so many references and allusions are to be found in the Old and New Testament! "The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth," Pr 8:22-25. The apocryphal book of Wisdom introduces, by a reference to this passage, the following admirable invocation, Wisdom 9:9, 10:
"Come, let us deal wisely with them, or else they will multiply and in the event of war, they will also join themselves to those who hate us, and fight against us and depart from the land."
"I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship,
But Amnon had a friend whose name was Jonadab, the son of Shimeah, David's brother; and Jonadab was a very shrewd man.
"So give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?"
behold, I have done according to your words Behold, I have given you a wise and discerning heart, so that there has been no one like you before you, nor shall one like you arise after you.
When all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had handed down, they feared the king, for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him to administer justice.
"He captures the wise by their own shrewdness, And the advice of the cunning is quickly thwarted.
"Wisdom is with aged men, With long life is understanding.
"Men will clap their hands at him And will hiss him from his place.
So teach us to number our days, That we may present to You a heart of wisdom.
The LORD by wisdom founded the earth, By understanding He established the heavens.
"The LORD possessed me at the beginning of His way, Before His works of old. "From everlasting I was established, From the beginning, from the earliest times of the earth. read more. "When there were no depths I was brought forth, When there were no springs abounding with water. "Before the mountains were settled, Before the hills I was brought forth;
And I saw that wisdom excels folly as light excels darkness. The wise man's eyes are in his head, but the fool walks in darkness And yet I know that one fate befalls them both.
"The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds."
"Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city,
"Yet wisdom is vindicated by all her children."