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
It happened in the morning that his spirit was troubled, and he sent and called for all of Egypt's magicians and wise men. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but there was no one who could interpret them to Pharaoh.
I commanded your judges at that time, saying, "Hear cases between your brothers, and judge righteously between a man and his brother, and the foreigner who is living with him.
Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who shall hear all these statutes, and say, "Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people."
You shall not wrest justice: you shall not respect persons; neither shall you take a bribe; for a bribe does blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous.
Her wise ladies answered her; indeed, she answers herself,
And his mother's brothers spoke of him in the ears of all the lords of Shechem all these words: and their hearts inclined to follow Abimelech; for they said, "He is our brother." They gave him seventy pieces of silver out of the house of Baal Berith, with which Abimelech hired vain and light fellows, who followed him. read more. He went to his father's house at Ophrah, and killed his brothers the sons of Jerubbaal, being seventy persons, on one stone. But Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left; for he hid himself. And all the lords of Shechem assembled themselves together, and all the house of Millo, and went and made Abimelech king, by the oak of the pillar that was in Shechem. And when they told it to Jotham, he went and stood on the top of Mount Gerizim, and lifted up his voice, and cried, and said to them, "Listen to me, you lords of Shechem, that God may listen to you. The trees went forth on a time to anoint a king over them; and they said to the olive tree, 'Reign you over us.' "But the olive tree said to them, 'Should I leave my fatness, with which by me they honor God and man, and go to wave back and forth over the trees?' "The trees said to the fig tree, 'Come, and reign over us.' "But the fig tree said to them, 'Should I leave my sweetness, and my good fruit, and go to wave back and forth over the trees?' "The trees said to the vine, 'Come, and reign over us.' "The vine said to them, 'Should I leave my new wine, which cheers God and man, and go to wave back and forth over the trees?' "Then all the trees said to the bramble, 'Come, and reign over us.' "The bramble said to the trees, 'If in truth you anoint me king over you, then come and take refuge in my shade; and if not, let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon.'
He said to them, "Out of the eater came forth food. Out of the strong came forth sweetness." They couldn't in three days declare the riddle. And it happened on the fourthth day, that they said to Samson's wife, "Entice your husband, that he may tell us the riddle, lest we burn you and your father's house with fire. Have you called us to impoverish us? Is it not so?" read more. Samson's wife wept before him, and said, "You just hate me, and do not love me. You have put forth a riddle to the children of my people, and haven't told it me." And he said to her, "Behold, I haven't told it to my father or my mother, and shall I tell you?" She wept before him the seven days, while their feast lasted: and it happened on the seventh day, that he told her, because she pressed him hard; and she told the riddle to the children of her people. The men of the city said to him on the seventh day before the sun went down, "What is sweeter than honey? What is stronger than a lion?" He said to them, "If you hadn't plowed with my heifer, you wouldn't have found out my riddle."
One of the same place answered, "Who is their father?" Therefore it became a proverb, "Is Saul also among the prophets?"
The LORD sent Nathan to David. He came to him, and said to him, "There were two men in one city; the one rich, and the other poor. The rich man had very many flocks and herds, read more. but the poor man had nothing, except one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and raised. It grew up together with him, and with his children. It ate of his own food, drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was to him like a daughter.
Now Joab the son of Zeruiah perceived that the king's heart was toward Absalom.
Then the woman went to all the people in her wisdom. They cut off the head of Sheba the son of Bichri, and threw it out to Joab. He blew the trumpet, and they were dispersed from the city, every man to his tent. Joab returned to Jerusalem to the king.
Do therefore according to your wisdom, and do not let his gray head go down to Sheol in peace.
Then two women who were prostitutes came to the king, and stood before him. The one woman said, "Oh, my lord, I and this woman dwell in one house. I delivered a child with her in the house. read more. It happened the third day after I delivered, that this woman delivered also. We were together. There was no stranger with us in the house, just us two in the house. This woman's child died in the night, because she lay on it. She arose at midnight, and took my son from beside me, while your handmaid slept, and laid it in her bosom, and laid her dead child in my bosom. When I rose in the morning to nurse my child, behold, it was dead; but when I had looked at it in the morning, behold, it was not my son, whom I bore." The other woman said, "No; but the living is my son, and the dead is your son." This said, "No; but the dead is your son, and the living is my son." Thus they spoke before the king. Then the king said, "The one says, 'This is my son who lives, and your son is the dead;' and the other says, 'No; but your son is the dead one, and my son is the living one.'" The king said, "Get me a sword." 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 the living child was spoke to the king, for her heart yearned over her son, and she said, "Oh, my lord, give her the living child, and in no way kill it." But the other said, "It shall be neither mine nor yours. Divide it." Then the king answered, "Give her the living child, and in no way kill it. She is its mother." All Israel heard of the judgment which the king had judged; and they feared the king: for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him, to do justice.
Solomon's wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east, and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than all men; than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, and Calcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol: and his fame was in all the nations all around.
The LORD gave Solomon wisdom, as he promised him; and there was peace between Hiram and Solomon; and they two made a treaty together.
He was the son of a widow of the tribe of Naphtali, and his father was a man of Tyre, a worker in brass; and he was filled with wisdom and understanding and skill, to work all works in brass. He came to king Solomon, and performed all his work.
The horses which Solomon had were brought out of Egypt; and the king's merchants received them in droves, each drove at a price.
With aged men is wisdom, in length of days understanding.
I said, 'Days should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom.'
It is not the great who are wise, nor the aged who understand justice.
"The LORD created me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, before the earth existed. read more. When there were no depths, I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled in place, before the hills, I was brought forth; while as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the beginning of the dust of the world. When he established the heavens, I was there; when he set a circle on the surface of the deep, when he established the clouds above, when the springs of the deep became strong, when he gave to the sea its boundary, that the waters should not violate his commandment, when he marked out the foundations of the earth; then I was the craftsman by his side. I was a delight day by day, always rejoicing before him, Rejoicing in his whole world. My delight was with the sons of men.
Let me sing for my well beloved a song of my beloved about his vineyard. My beloved had a vineyard on a very fruitful hill. He dug it up, gathered out its stones, planted it with the choicest vine, built a tower in its midst, and also cut out a winepress therein. He looked for it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes. read more. "Now, inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, please judge between me and my vineyard. What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? Why, when I looked for it to yield grapes, did it yield wild grapes? Now I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard. I will take away its hedge, and it will be eaten up. I will break down its wall of it, and it will be trampled down.
For he has said, "By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom; for I have understanding: and I have removed the boundaries of the peoples, and have robbed their treasures. Like a valiant man I have brought down their rulers.
Give ear, and hear my voice. Listen, and hear my speech. Does he who plows to sow plow continually? Does he keep turning the soil and breaking the clods? read more. When he has leveled its surface, doesn't he plant the dill, and scatter the cumin seed, and put in the wheat in rows, the barley in the appointed place, and emmer as its borders? For his God instructs him in right judgment, and teaches him. For the dill are not threshed with a sharp instrument, neither is a cart wheel turned over the cumin; but the dill is beaten out with a stick, and the cumin with a rod. Bread flour must be ground; so he will not always be threshing it. Although he drives the wheel of his threshing cart over it, his horses do not grind it. This also comes forth from the LORD of hosts, who is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in wisdom.
Who should not fear you, King of the nations? For it appertains to you; because among all the wise men of the nations, and in all their royal estate, there is none like you.
He has made the earth by his power, he has established the world by his wisdom, and by his understanding has he stretched out the heavens:
Then they said, "Come, and let us make plans against Jeremiah; for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come, and let us strike him with the tongue, and let us not give heed to any of his words."
"In those days they shall say no more, '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, lest they multiply, and it happen that when any war breaks out, they also join themselves to our enemies, and fight against us, and escape out of the land."
and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship,
But Amnon had a friend, whose name was Jonadab, the son of Shimeah, David's brother; and Jonadab was a very subtle man.
Give your servant therefore an understanding heart to judge your people, that I may discern between good and evil; for who is able to judge this your great people?"
behold, I have done according to your word. Behold, I have given you a wise and an understanding heart; so that there has been none like you before you, neither after you shall any arise like you.
All Israel heard of the judgment which the king had judged; and they feared the king: for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him, to do justice.
He takes the wise in their own craftiness; the counsel of the cunning is carried headlong.
With aged men is wisdom, in length of days understanding.
Men shall clap their hands at him, and shall hiss him out of his place.
So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
By wisdom the LORD founded the earth. By understanding, he established the heavens.
"The LORD created me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, before the earth existed. read more. When there were no depths, I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled in place, before the hills, I was brought forth;
Then I saw that wisdom excels folly, as far as light excels darkness. The wise man's eyes are in his head, and the fool walks in darkness?and yet I perceived that one event happens to them all.
The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Look, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.' But wisdom is justified by her actions."
Therefore take notice, I send to you prophets, 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;
Wisdom is justified by all her children."