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A. In Hebrew: hm)lv= yl@v=m! meaning “Proverbs of Solomon.” The term yl@v=m! means “parallel” or “similar” and thus represents a description by means of comparison1

B. In Greek: PAROIMIAI has the sense of “being like” or “similar” (see paroimi'a, paromoia'zw and paro'moio). These are clever sayings using similes and comparisons--proverbs


A. Solomon: Solomon, the son of David, was said to have written over three thousand proverbs (1 Ki 4:32). Many of them are found in the book of Proverbs:2

1. 1:1--9:18

2. 10:1--22:16

3. 25:1--29:27 (these were selected by a committee appointed under king Hezekiah (726-698 B.C.)

B. Wisemen: Perhaps these were the ones who attended Solomon (cf. 1 Ki 4:31; 12:6). Their units are two:

1. 22:17--24:22

2. 24:23-34

C. Agur son of Jakeh: We do not know who this was. This is found in 30:1-33

D. King Lemuel: He was a non-Israelite who may have lived in the area of Uz where people still believed in the true God. This is in 31:1-9 and perhaps 31:10-31.

III. DATE: It seems that Proverbs was written and then compiled sometime between the tenth and sixth centuries B.C.

A. Very Late Date (Fourth Century B.C. 350 B.C. or Later)

1. This is held by C. H. Toy in ICC.

2. Solomon was identified with all wisdom literature (Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs) as with the apocryphal book the Wisdom of Solomon
While pseudonyms were popular in the intertestamental period, this was not the case in pre-Hellenistic Israel. In addition it is probable that Solomon’s reputation came from real compositions of wisdom3

3. It is assumed that the pure monotheism in Proverbs reflects a postexilic origin since it was a late evolutionary development
The presupposition of an evolution of religion is not necessary since Israel’s religion was revealed from the days of the patriarchs and idolatry was always regarded as evil

4. Since Proverbs does not demonstrate “national” references, it must have been composed after the fall of the nation.
But the lack of national references is a part of the genre of literature known as wisdom literature and the multi-cultural nature setting of Israel.

5. Social customs and vices are from the time after the exile
But there is nothing in the customs or vices which require that they be limited to one particular time or another

6. The emphasis upon knowledge as a source for resolving problems is a Hellenistic approach to moral philosophy
This is a basic misunderstanding between Greek and Hebrew wisdom. Greek wisdom was concerned with speculation and cosmogony which was behind principles of the universe. Hebrew wisdom was interested in the revealed will of God (the Law) and the observable order which God placed into the universe.4

7. Proverbs was the product of a professional group of wise men who also put together Ecclesiastes, the Wisdom of Solomon, and Ecclesiasticus
But there must have been an earlier, classical model of written proverbial literature before a professional group of wise men could have arisen5

B. Moderately Late Date (Seventh-Sixth Centuries 600 B.C.):

1. This is held to by Driver, Norwack, and A.B. Davidson

2. The material ascribed to Solomon is identified with a later period of time:

a. 1--9 to the period just before the exile

b. 10--22 may have Solomonic roots, but reached its present form in the seventh century B.C.

3. The units attributed to the wisemen (22:17--24:34) are identified with the postexilic period

4. 25--29 is considered to be postexilic

5. 30--31 were added at a much later time

6. Some moderate critics place chapters 22--24 in an earlier period than chapters 1--9 and view the entire book as having been written no later than the time of Hezekiah

C. Early Date (Tenth Century to Sixth Century B.C.):

1. Much of the book was written during the time of Solomon (1--9; 10--22:6; [22:17--24:34]; 25--29:27)

2. There was a compilation of Solomon’s writings which occurred during the reign king Hezekiah (726-698 B.C.)

3. It is not possible to know when some of the material was written (30--31)6

4. Proverbs 22--24 were probably a source for the Egyptian work, The Wisdom of Amenemope which has been dated to from 1000 B.C. to the Persian and/or Greek periods7

D. Conclusion: Tenth to Sixth Century

1. Much of the material in Proverbs is old dating at least from the time of Solomon

2. Some of Proverbs was probably compiled as a canonical book at a later time (at least during the time of Hezekiah (726-698 B.C.)
Perhaps the placement of the two sections of anonymous sayings by the wisemen (22:17--24:22; and 24:23-34) suggests that they came from period between Solomon’s reign and the collection of Hezekiah’s scribes8

3. Proverbs 30--31 could have been added at a later time (the time of the exile?)

4. Albright wrote, “In a nutshell, my opinion with regard to the provenience and date of Proverbs is that its entire contents is probably pre-Exilic, but that much of the book was handed down orally until the fifth century B.C. when we know from Elephantine that Jews were interested in literature of a different kind.”9


A. To enable the readers to learn and apply the fear of the Lord to their lives

B. To provide skill for living (successful living) from the two perimeters of natural order and God’s word

C. To know wisdom and instruction (1:2)

D. To receive teaching in wise dealing, righteousness, justice and equity (1:3)

E. To help the simple gain prudence and the youth gain knowledge and discretion (1:4)

F. To increase learning and to acquire skill in understanding (1:5)

G. To understand proverbs, parables, wise sayings, and riddles (1:6)

H. To learn the fear of the Lord (1:7)