1 The proverbs[a] of Solomon,[b] son of David, king of Israel: 2 To[c] learn[d] wisdom[e] and moral instruction,[f] to discern[g] wise counsel.[h]
Proverbs 1:1tn The noun מָשָׁל (mashal) can mean an object lesson based on or using a comparison or analogy. It may be a short pithy statement (Ezek 16:44), object lesson drawn from experience (Ps 78:2-6), saying or by-word (Deut 28:37), or an oracle of future blessing (Ezek 21:1-5). Here it means an object lesson setting out courses of action. It helps one choose the course of action to follow or avoid.
Proverbs 1:1sn The phrase “The Proverbs of Solomon” is a title for the entire book. The title does not mean that Solomon authored or collected all the proverbs in this book. Some sections are collections from different authors: the sayings of the wise (22:17-24:22), more sayings of the wise (24:23-34), the words of Agur (Prov 30:1-33) and Lemuel (Prov 31:1-9). The title does not imply that the book was in its final canonical form in the days of Solomon; the men of Hezekiah added a collection of Solomonic proverbs to the existing form of the book (25:1-29:27). The original collection of Solomonic proverbs appears to be the collection of short pithy sayings in 10:1-22:16, and the title might have originally introduced only these. There is question whether chapters 1-9 were part of the original form of the book in the days of Solomon because they do not fit under the title; they are not “proverbs” per se (sentence sayings) but introductory admonitions (longer wisdom speeches). Chapters 1-9 could have been written by Solomon and perhaps added later by someone else. Or they could have been written by someone else and added later in the days of Hezekiah.
Proverbs 1:2tn The infinitive construct with ל (lamed) here designates purpose. This is the first of five purpose clauses in the opening section (1:2a, 2b, 3a, 4a, 6a). These closely related clauses reveal the purpose of the collection of proverbs in general.
Proverbs 1:2tn As a stative verb יָדַע (yadaʿ) can mean “to know” or, as here, “to come to know,” or “to become wise in” (BDB 394). This term refers to experiential knowledge, not just cognitive knowledge; it includes the intellectual assimilation and practical use of what is acquired.
Proverbs 1:2sn The noun “wisdom” (חָכְמָה, khokhmah) could be nuanced “moral skill.” It refers to “skill” that produces something of value. It is used in reference to the skill of seamen (Ps 107:27), abilities of weavers (Exod 35:26), capabilities of administrators (1 Kgs 3:28), or skill of craftsmen (Exod 31:6). In the realm of moral living, it refers to skill in living—one lives life with moral skill so that something of lasting value is produced from one’s life. Deut 4:6 refers to the statutes and laws given by God as Israel’s wisdom.
Proverbs 1:2tnHeb “instruction.” The noun מוּסָר (musar) has a three-fold range of meaning: (1) physical or parental: “discipline; chastisement” (2) verbal: “warning; exhortation” and (3) moral: “training; instruction” (BDB 416; HALOT 557). Throughout the Book of Proverbs the term includes moral training and instruction which may go hand in hand with either of the first two areas of meaning. The “parental” discipline may also be chastisement from God. Four times (1:2, 7; 15:33; 23:23) the term is paired with חָכְמָה (khokhmah, “wisdom, moral skill”).
Proverbs 1:2tn The infinitive construct with ל (lamed) here designates a second purpose of the book: to compare and to make proper evaluation of the sayings of the wise. The term בִין (bin, “to discern”) refers to the ability to make distinctions between things, to understand, or to consider (HALOT 122).
Proverbs 1:2tnHeb “words of discernment.” The noun בִּינָה (binah, “discernment”) functions as an attributive genitive: “discerning words” or “wise sayings” (so NLT). This noun is a cognate accusative of the infinitive of the same root לְהָבִין (lehavin, “to discern”). The phrase “to discern words of discernment” refers to understanding words that give insight, or wise sayings, such as in Proverbs.
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