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Proverbs 8:1-5 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 8

The Discourse of Wisdom[a]

Does not Wisdom call,
    and Understanding raise her voice?
On the top of the heights along the road,
    at the crossroads she takes her stand;
By the gates at the approaches of the city,
    in the entryways she cries aloud:
“To you, O people, I call;
    my appeal is to you mortals.
You naive ones, gain prudence,
    you fools,[b] gain sense.


  1. 8:1–36

    Chapter 8 is Wisdom’s longest speech in the book. Wisdom is here personified as in 1:20–33. She exalts her grandeur and origin, and invites all (vv. 1–11) to be attentive to her salutary influence in human society (vv. 12–21), for she was privileged to be present at the creation of the world (vv. 22–31). Finally, she promises life and the favor of God to those who are devoted to her, death to those who reject her.

    The poem has four sections, each (except the fourth) with two parts of five lines each:

    I.A.vv. 1–5B.vv. 6–10
    II.A.vv. 12–16B.vv. 17–21
    III.A.vv. 22–26B.vv. 27–31
    IV.vv. 32–36

    Within chaps. 1–9, chap. 8 is the companion piece to Wisdom’s first speech in 1:20–33. There she spoke harshly, giving a promise only in the last line; here she speaks invitingly, giving a threat only in the last line.

    Chapter 8 is the best-known chapter in Proverbs and has profoundly influenced Jewish and Christian thought. The most explicit and lengthy biblical comment is in Sir 24; it too has thirty-five lines in seven five-line stanzas and develops the theme of Wisdom’s intimacy with God and desire to be with human beings. The Gospel of John portrays Jesus in the language of wisdom in Proverbs: Jesus, like Wisdom, calls out to people to listen to him, promises to tell them the truth, seeks disciples, invites them to a banquet, and gives them life. Writers in the patristic period used the language of pre-existent wisdom to express the idea of the pre-existent Word with God.

  2. 8:5 Naive ones…fools: see note on 1:4.
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.


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