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The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old.
(Proverbs 8:22 KJV)

יְֽהוָה קָנָנִי רֵאשִׁית דַּרְכֹּו קֶדֶם מִפְעָלָיו מֵאָֽז

It is common to understand "works of old" to refer to creation and then the verse speaks to "wisdom" being an integral part of creation. "Works" is מִפְעָל, which is only used in two other places:

Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth.
(Psalm 46:8)
Come and see the works of God: he is terrible in his doing toward the children of men.
(Psalm 66:5)

Obviously these are works God does after creation done specifically to get man's attention:

  • Believers to place confidence in the LORD (Psalm 46)
  • Invite all people to consider God's works in the Exodus (Psalm 66)

Given the other uses, it seems to mean works of salvation, not works of creation.

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#1. What is the literal understanding of "MiPealiu MeAz" ( מִפְעָלָיו מֵאָז) From Proverbs 8:22?

[ מִפְעָלָ֣יו ] "MiPealiu":

In Hebrew, the prefix 'Mi' (מִ) = "of" in English. + 'Paal' (פְעָלָ) = "Work" in English. + The third person singular suffix - 'iu' (יו) = "His" in English.

  • Mi-Peal-iu (מִפְעָלָ֣יו) : Of-Work-His / "Of His Work".

[ מֵאָֽז ] "Me-az':

In Hebrew, the prepositional prefix 'Me' (מֵ) = "From" in English. + 'Az' (אָֽז) = "Then" in English.

  • Me-Az (מֵאָֽז) : From-Then / "From Before".

[ מִפְעָלָיו מֵאָז ] "MiPealiu Meaz":

In English the literal translation of [ מִפְעָלָיו מֵאָז ] "MiPealiu Meaz" = "of His Work from Then". However, the traditional English translation from Mishlei 8:22 [MT] renders "of His Works of old. "

#2. Did "His Works from Then" in context to Proverbs 8 verses 27-29 relate to Creation?

[Proverbs 8:27]:

*He established the heavens. *He drew a circle over the face of the deep.

[Proverbs 8:28]:

*He made the skies above firm. *He strengthened the fountains of the deep.

[Proverbs 8:29]

*He gave the sea its boundary. *He established the foundations of the earth.

  • Yes. The phrase "MiPealiu MeAz" ( מִפְעָלָיו מֵאָז) in Proverbs 8 relates to the Works of His Creation.
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    this is an excellent understanding of the meaning of the Hebrew phrase but the question (as I understand it) asks about the works to which this verse refers. Presumably, things that God has done in times past - old historical acts of God as often recorded in the early books of the Bible. – Dottard Aug 24 '20 at 22:17
  • Thanks, Dottard! I have updated the Answer to reflect the "Works" of Psalm 8 in context related to the Creation narrative of Bereishit (Genesis) 1:1-11. – חִידָה Aug 24 '20 at 22:52
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    I like how you approached this and made your case. +1 – Ruminator Aug 24 '20 at 23:27
  • Thanks (תּוֹדָה), Ruminator! – חִידָה Aug 25 '20 at 0:06
  • I think קָ֭נָנִי enters into the analysis and maybe should have been part of the question. It can be possessed or purchased. So YHVH purchased/possessed me before His works of old...and then describing works of creation does not automatically mean the works are also creative. For example, the same sentiment is found in the NT in several places: just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world... (Ephesians 1:4). God is responsible for both, enumerating the works of creation does not eliminate works of salvation. – Revelation Lad Aug 25 '20 at 0:16

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