We’re discussing wisdom literature and specifically Proverbs 10:1-6 this month in our new “Interesting Hebrew Bible Passage of the Month” on The Hebrew Nerd. The point of this series is to get us discussing ideas and genres of the Hebrew Bible.
The first thing you might say to yourself in reading Proverbs 10:1-6 is that these verses are too simple, they don’t supply much of an intellectual challenge. How much can we say about something so comprehensible and uncomplicated?
We’re interested in delving into the deeper issues of biblical wisdom. What is wisdom in the mind of the ancient Israelite sages? How do these verses exemplify it? How do they differ from more complex voices like those we find in Job and Kohelet (Ecclesiastes)?
We can talk about the form of the sayings. We might discuss some keywords, whether in English or Hebrew. We might trace the usage of keywords in the rest of the book of Proverbs. We can contrast ideas found here with other ones in the more skeptical books of wisdom (Job and Kohelet).
A book I recommend for people who want to explore the riches of Hebrew Bible scholarship is Michael Fox’s commentary on Proverbs 10-31 in the Anchor Yale series. People often ask me for book referrals to help them get past the religiously constrained, traditionally unremarkable clichés and truisms they’ve heard before. It’s ironic since the verses in Proverbs 10:1-6 often sound just like those clichés. But are they really. Is the mind of Israelite wisdom understated and subtle? Is there more than meets the eye here?
How can you participate? Make some comments between now and February 10 on your initial impressions. After February 10 we’ll dig deeper. I will also share some grammatical and translation helps for other Hebrew Nerds like me.