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Problem with Wisdom of Proverbs

Discussion in 'Judaism DIR' started by LAGoff, Jan 20, 2021.

  1. LAGoff

    LAGoff Member

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    I never liked Proverbs, but I have a real problem with 'Wisdom' and 'Understanding' in it.
    The personalization /personification / hypostasization of these two (Two) is unsettling for me because my Jewish instincts want to look to God for wisdom and understanding, but Proverbs seems to be nudging me towards these Two. If I need wisdom in a situation, I would look 'up' to God in my hour of darkness, not to these Two.
    Any thoughtful advice/perspective would be appreciated.
     
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  2. dybmh

    dybmh Terminal Optimist
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    I don't know the book of Proverbs. It would be helpful for me at least to get some chapters that are unsettling to you in order to respond.
     
  3. RabbiO

    RabbiO הרב יונה בן זכריה

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  4. RabbiO

    RabbiO הרב יונה בן זכריה

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    Proverbs 8:22-31. Woman Wisdom personified or actual being?

    Note the comment from our fellow member @rosends
     
  5. LAGoff

    LAGoff Member

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  6. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
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    An example would help.
     
  7. LAGoff

    LAGoff Member

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    jayhawker Soule says to give an example:

    Chapter 2 verse 3 in relation to verse 6 is confusing. It says to call to understanding and cry aloud to it, but then verse 6 says that the Lord grants wisdom [and understanding].
    So what do I do? It seems to be telling me not to call to God for it, but God grants it. Why not just say to call to God for it?
     
  8. dybmh

    dybmh Terminal Optimist
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    I think the point of those verses is that one has to work for wisdom, but God helps. These verse are also an example of the repeating theme of the interplay between wisdom, understanding and knowledge.

    If a person desires understanding the prescription is: focus ( raise your voice, verse 3 ), and work ( seek it like treasure, verse 4). Focus + Work leads to humility and knowledge ( verse 5 ). God is the source of knowledge and wisdom; "from His mouth" is a reference to the commandments given in the Torah ( verse 6 ). Therefore: if a person wants understanding, they should focus and work and God helps through the Torah.

    This relationship between wisdom, understanding, and knowledge is a repeating theme. Wisdom, understanding, and knowledge are related. Wisdom can lead to understanding; understanding can lead to wisdom; both are fueled by knowledge. It makes sense that King Solomon would focus on these three as the one credited for building the temple. (Exodus 31:3, Exodus 35:31)
     
  9. LAGoff

    LAGoff Member

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    Proverbs, Song of Songs and Ecclesiastes are pretty secular in content.
    Are the secular terms (wisdom, understanding and knowledge) the building blocks of the Tabernacle (Ex.31:3;35:31) or even of the Tora?
    Why does it do it this way?
    Is it perhaps for the same reason the Tora doesn't say let there be Tora, (i.e. meaning, plan, and purpose) instead of let there be light and the Song of Songs doesn't say its about a love affair between Hashem and Israel?
    Could you comment on why it does it this ['secular'] way?
    In other words, what would be non-optimal in saying that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of Tora (or 'the Tora') and let there be Tora and "[In order] to make known words of Tora (Pr.1:2)... to understand Tora" (v.6)?
    What is optimal about mixing the secular and the sacred terms? And what is the reason for the mostly secular presentation in the three books attributed to Solomon?
    I mean, one could read these three books and come away in large part thinking they are about worldly wisdom and earthly love.
    To use the word mashal (root of Mishlay/Proverbs) colloquially, what is the 'lesson' / mashal of doing it this way?

    #10 LAGoff, 1 minute ago
     
    #9 LAGoff, Jan 25, 2021
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2021
  10. dybmh

    dybmh Terminal Optimist
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    It's a process for building inspiration. King David was inspired through music; King Solomon was inspired through contemplation.
    Doing it this way King Solomon was building inspiration. That's the connection to the verses in Exodus. It starts with a foundation in the material world, and through contemplation there's an opportunity to be inspired. Without the mashal (abstraction), there's less opportunity for contemplation, and then there's nothing built.
     
  11. LAGoff

    LAGoff Member

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    After spending the week delving into Proverbs, I can approach it more positively. I no longer see wisdom as competing for my affections with God. I see it only symbolically.
    Solomon asked only for a [wise and] understanding heart. (1 Kings) God granted it to him.
    I want this -- above all else -- too. But it doesn't come easy. So symbolically it can be compared to courting a woman. I have to pursue her; she doesn't pursue me, unlike the harlot woman who pursues the man.
    I don't have to fear wisdom as an actual competing entity or hypostasis of God. (or, as most scholars hold, an eruption of the Goddess into Judaism to compensate for the one ['male'] God) It is simply a mashal in a book of Tanakh to be used to smooth the approach to the commandments. (Pr. 3:27-30) For Solomon, wisdom as a righteous woman animated him. (we know he loved women excessively) He shared that with us. I took what I needed to take from his mashal and can thank him for adding Godliness to my life through a symbol/mashal I would never dream of using out of concern that it would detract from God's glory. But since it's in the Tanakh, which I hold as divinely inspired, I can confidently add this 'dangerous' Scripture to my spiritual development.
     
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