John T. Willis

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Setting the Stage for the Book of Job--Part IV

A major term in the Wisdom Literature is "wise" [Hebrew chakham] or "wisdom" [Hebrew chokhmah]. The term "wise" or "wisdom" occurs 28 times in the Book of Job: Job 4:21;5:13; 9:4; 11:6; 12:2, 12, 13; 13:5; 15:2, 8, 18; 17:10; 26:3; 28:12, 18, 20, 28; 32:7, 9 13; 33:33; 34:2, 34; 35:11; 37:24; 38:36, 37; 39:17. "Wise" sometimes refers to human beings, and sometimes to God.

In the Hebrew Bible, the term "wise" or "wisdom" has a variety of meanings, depending on the context. Here are the different usages:
1. Skilled--as a seamstress--Exodus 35:25; as a carpenter--Exodus 31:6-9; as a silversmith--Isaiah 40:20; as a sailor--Psalm 107:23-27.
2. Judgment or discretion--in guiding the affairs of state--Genesis 41:33; 1 Kings 3:9, 12 ,28.
3. Shrewd, crafty, cunning--2 Samuel 13:3; Job 5:13.
4. Know how, knack--Proverbs 16:14.
5. Sharp, smart, intelligent--Hosea 14:9.
6. "Wise people," as magicians, sorcerers, enchanters--Genesis 41:8, 24; Exodus 7:11, 22.
7. Understanding [as a synonym]--Job 12:2-3; 26:3; 38:36.

BUT, in the Wisdom Literature and in the Book of Job, primarily "wisdom" is equivalent to "THE FEAR OF THE LORD." Note these key texts:

Proverbs 9:10: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of WISDOM,
and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.

Proverbs 1:7: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise WISDOM and instruction.

Proverbs 15:33: The fear of the Lord is instruction in WISDOM,
and humility goes before honor.

Psalm 111:10: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of WISDOM;
a good understanding have all those who practice it.

The BEGINNING of WISDOM is the ESSENCE of WISDOM. The point is: What WISDOM is all about or equivalent to is THE FEAR OF THE LORD.

Job 28:28 makes this very clear: "Behold the fear of the Lord, that is WISDOM;
and to depart from evil is understanding."

Hence, "Wisdom"="The Fear of the Lord" is FUNDAMENTAL to understanding THE ESSENTIAL thought of the Book of Job. We will continue this thought in the next blog.

Let me hear from YOU. Share these ideas with others.

John Willis


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