5

( reference: https://www.gotquestions.org/wisdom-knowledge.html )

Proverbs 24:3-5 New American Standard Bible 1995

3 By wisdom a house is built, And by understanding it is established; 4 And by knowledge the rooms are filled With all precious and pleasant riches.

5 A wise man is [a]strong, And a man of knowledge [b]increases power.

Proverbs 24:3-5 English Standard Version

3 By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; 4 by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches. 5 A wise man is full of strength, and a man of knowledge enhances his might,

( from reference: https://www.gotquestions.org/wisdom-knowledge.html ) "The dictionary defines wisdom as “the ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting.” Knowledge, on the other hand, is “information gained through experience, reasoning, or acquaintance.” Knowledge can exist without wisdom, but not the other way around. One can be knowledgeable without being wise. Knowledge is knowing how to use a gun; wisdom is knowing when to use it and when to keep it holstered." ( from reference: https://www.gotquestions.org/wisdom-knowledge.html )

The gotquestions.org website has an interesting explanation on the distinctions between knowledge and wisdom.

However, In light of the gotquestions.org website's explanation, I'm trying to get a deeper understanding of Proverbs 24:3-5 bible verses.

I am Not really impressed by all the commentary explanations in Proverbs 24:3-5 https://biblehub.com/commentaries/proverbs/24-3.htm

Could someone please give an elaborate explanation as to how Wisdom, knowledge & understanding are different and/or overlap in Proverbs 24:3-5?

3
  • check this out when we are seeking God we use wisdom to do so. Theres is a saying that let your words be few when you are in presence of the Lord. The art of seeking God is having understanding of what has been concealed against at that moment to go in the dimension of Heaven. God is like a bridegroom who is in a chamber and we in a closet. When the bride draws nigh to the groom they able to consumate and share each other secrets. The groom is he who give knowledge to the bride. The bride incubates it and gets strengthen by it and becomes more self-controlled when it comes to the spiritual w Commented Oct 19, 2022 at 4:25
  • In Kabbalah they mean something like Inspiration, Comprehension and Integration.
    – shmosel
    Commented Oct 20, 2022 at 2:19
  • I'm trying to get a deeper understanding. A personal parable: User 1338998 has KNOWLEDGE of Proverbs 24:3-5. But he desires a DEEPER UNDERSTANDING. This will then give the User WISDOM in applying the verse to life! See the connection?
    – ray grant
    Commented Jul 21, 2023 at 21:24

5 Answers 5

3

This proverb works on two levels, that of practical skill and the metaphoric level.

Wisdom

Wisdom is what proceeds from God. It is the start. It also has a sense of practical skill. This is the double entendre of the proverb, comparing "construction-wisdom" with the house of the soul.

For this practical sense, when the tabernacle was being built God promised to give wisdom - e.g. skill - to men (and women) to build it:

Exodus 28:3 (KJV 1900)

3 And thou shalt speak unto all that are wise hearted, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom, that they may make Aaron’s garments to consecrate him, that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office.

Exodus 35:26 (KJV 1900)

26 And all the women whose heart stirred them up in wisdom spun goats’ hair.

Exodus 36:2 (KJV 1900)

2 And Moses called Bezaleel and Aholiab, and every wise hearted man, in whose heart the LORD had put wisdom, even every one whose heart stirred him up to come unto the work to do it:

Note that it is God that is the source of wisdom. We are told to "hear" wisdom, as it is shouting in the street. It comes from outside us.

Understanding

At the practical skills level, understanding refers to skilled experience.

Exodus 36:1 (KJV 1900)

Then wrought Bezaleel and Aholiab, and every wise hearted man, in whom the LORD put wisdom and understanding to know how to work all manner of work for the service of the sanctuary, according to all that the LORD had commanded.

Thus understanding is the result of accepting wisdom from outside and keeping it, over time, in our hearts, putting wisdom into practice. You hear wisdom, but meditate for understanding. Or go to where understanding is and dwell there to obtain it over time.

K&D's commentary on this proverb discusses the implied continuity in "established":

It is wisdom, viz., that which originates from God, which is rooted in fellowship with Him, by which every household, be it great or small, prospers and attains to a successful and flourishing state; כֹּונֵן, as parallel word to בָּנָה (Prov. 3:19; Hab. 2:12), is related to it as statuere to extruere; the Hithpal (as at Num. 21:17) means to keep oneself in a state of continuance, to gain perpetuity, to become established

Thus the house is built by wisdom, but it remains standing -- is maintained and even improved upon -- by understanding.

At the metaphoric level, one meditates on wisdom to get understanding.

Psalm 49:3 (KJV 1900)

My mouth shall speak of wisdom; And the meditation of my heart shall be of understanding.

Alternately by keeping wisdom in our heart (over time), we obtain understanding:

Proverbs 2:2 (KJV 1900)

So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, And apply thine heart to understanding;

Proverbs 14:33 (KJV 1900)

Wisdom resteth in the heart of him that hath understanding: But that which is in the midst of fools is made known.

Knowledge

In this schema, Wisdom is the seed that comes from God and we hear it, accepting it in our hearts. It is itself inscrutable and unknowable. We cannot dissect wisdom or peer inside it. We can only receive it from God. Then understanding is the nurturing of the seed so that it grows within us. And knowledge is the fruit of the process, which is pleasant and precious to man. Then after the house is built, and as it continues, the rooms begin to fill with knowledge.

Proverbs 2:10 (KJV 1900)

When wisdom entereth into thine heart, And knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul;


Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, vol. 6 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996), 350.

2

First, let me observe that we are dealing with a Hebrew proverb in Prov 24:3, 4, four lines long in quintessential Hebrew parallelism. Further, because the first three lines are in synthetic parallelism, the three words, wisdom", "understanding" and "knowledge", while not meaning the same thing are deliberately intended to be near-synonyms.

Second, the meanings of Hebrew words are more elastic than English and Greek so we expect more overlap here than in English.

3 By wisdom a house is built

. . . and by understanding it is established;

4 through knowledge its rooms are filled

. . . with every precious and beautiful treasure.

Now let me list the standard dictionary definitions of these three nouns in the order in which they appear in the proverb, as listed in BDB.

1. חָכְמָה (chakmah) = "wisdom" which can mean:

  • skill in war Isaiah 10:13; in technical work Exodus 28:3; Exodus 31:3,6; Exodus 35:26,31,35; Exodus 36:1,2(P), compare 1 Kings 7:14; 1 Chronicles 28:21; of sailors Psalm 107:27
  • wisdom, in administration Deuteronomy 34:9; Isaiah 29:14; Jeremiah 49:7 (twice in verse); 2 Samuel 14:20; of prince of Tyre Ezekiel 28:4,5,7,12; Ezekiel 29:12,17; Solomon's wisdom included this with other forms of cleverness and shrewdness 1 Kings 2:6; 1 Kings 3:28; 1 Kings 5:9; 1 Kings 5:10; 1 Kings 5:14, etc
  • shrewdness, wisdom, 2 Samuel 20:22; 1 Kings 5:10 (twice in verse); Jeremiah 9:22; withheld by God from the ostrich Job 39:17; of magicians and prophets Isaiah 47:10; Daniel 1:4,17,20.
  • wisdom, prudence in religious affairs Deuteronomy 4:6; Psalm 37:30; Psalm 51:8; Psalm 90:12; Proverbs 10:31; Isaiah 33:6; Jeremiah 8:9
  • (a) Wisdom of God: his wisdom is in the skies Job 38:36; by it he numbers the clouds Job 38:37; founded the earth Proverbs 3:19; and made all things Jeremiah 10:12 = Jeremiah 51:15, Psalm 104:24; it is with him Job 12:13; not to be found by the most persevering human search Job 28:12,20; he alone knows it Job 28:23; gives it Proverbs 2:6; and shows its secrets Job 11:6
  • (b) of man: to get wisdom is principal thing Proverbs 4:7 (twice in verse); its fundamental principle is to fear God Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 15:33; Job 28:18 ("" סוּר מֵרַע בִּינָה); and know ׳י, the All Holy Proverbs 9:10; Proverbs 30:3; it is of inestimable worth Job 28:18; Proverbs 8:11; Proverbs 16:16; Proverbs 17:16; Proverbs 23:23; Proverbs 24:7; beyond the reach of scorners Proverbs 14:6; God giveth it to the good Ecclesiastes 2:26, etc

2. תָּבוּן (tebunah) = "understanding" which can mean

  • the act of understanding, Job 26:12; Psalm 78:72; Psalm 136:5; Proverbs 3:19; Proverbs 21:30; Proverbs 24:3; Jeremiah 10:12 (= Jeremiah 51:15) Ezekiel 28:4; Hosea 13:2; Obadiah 7
  • the faculty of understanding Exodus 31:3; Exodus 35:31; Exodus 36:1 (P) Deuteronomy 32:28 (poetry) Job 12:12,13; Proverbs 2:6,11; Proverbs 28:16; Isaiah 44:19; אִישׁ תְּבוּנָה Proverbs 10:23; Proverbs 15:21; Proverbs 17:27; Proverbs 20:5; אִישׁ תְּבוּנוֺת Proverbs 11:12 (= Obadiah 8 where אישׁ omitted by scribal error); דֶּרֶךְ תְּבוּנָה Isaiah 40:14.
  • the object of knowledge Proverbs 2:3; Proverbs 3:13; Proverbs 5:1; Proverbs 14:29; Proverbs 18:2; Proverbs 19:8; Psalm 49:4; Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:28; 1 Kings 5:9; 1 Kings 7:14; תטה לבך לתבונה incline thy mind to understanding Proverbs 2:2; reasons Job 32:11.

3. דַּעַת (daath) = "knowledge" which can mean

  • a. knowledge, perception in phrase ׳בִּבְלִי ד Deuteronomy 4:42 = unintenionally, Deuteronomy 19:4; Joshua 20:3 (where P's synonym is בִּשְׁגָגָה Joshua 20:3; Joshua 20:9, compare Numbers 35:11,15), Numbers 35:5; without knowing ׳מִבְּלִי ד Isaiah 5:13 ( = before they knew it, suddenly).
  • b. = skill (in work-manship) Exodus 31:3; Exodus 35:31 (both P; both "" תְּבוּנָה and חָכְמָה), 1 Kings 7:14 (followed by infinitive); creative skill Isaiah 40:14 ("" אֹרַח מִשְׁמָּט, דֶּרֶךְ תְּבוּנוֺת).
  • of prophetic knowledge עליון ׳יֹדֵעַ ד Numbers 24:16 (JE), compare Psalm 19:3.
  • especially knowledge with moral quality Genesis 2:9,17 (J; in both verbal force, טוֺב וָרַע ׳הַדּ the knowing good and evil).
  • knowledge possessed by God Job 10:7; Psalm 139:6; Proverbs 3:20 ("" חָכְמָה and תְּבוּנָה), Proverbs 21:12; taught by God to men Psalm 94:10; Psalm 119:66 ("" טוּב טַעַם), Proverbs 2:6 ("" תְּבוּנָה and חָכְמָה). feminine דַּעַתרֿוּחַ = windy (unreal) knowledge Job 15:2.
  • discernment, understanding, wisdom: a. Job 13:2; Job 33:3 (שְׂפָתַי ׳ד), לֹא בְּדַעַת Job 34:35("" חכמה), Proverbs 8:9,10 ("" מוסר), Proverbs 10:4; Proverbs 11:9; Proverbs 18:15 (twice in verse); Proverbs 22:12; Proverbs 29:7, compare Isaiah 32:4; Isaiah 53:11; Jeremiah 10:14 = Jeremiah 51:17; בבלי דעת Job 35:16; Job 36:12; ׳בלי ד Job 38:2; Job 42:3, ׳בְּלֹא ד Proverbs 19:2; "" תְּבוּנָה Proverbs 17:27; Isaiah 44:19; ׳ת + חכמה Proverbs 24:4, "" מְזִמָּה Proverbs 1:4; etc
  • in highest sense, knowledge of God (including obedience) Hosea 4:1,6 (מִבְּלִי הַדַּעַת), Hosea 4:6; Hosea 6:6; Job 21:14; Proverbs 2:5 ("" ׳יראת י), so Isaiah 11:2; Isaiah 58:2; Jeremiah 22:16 (verbal force, with accusative), Proverbs 9:10 (קדשׁים ׳ד, "" ׳יראת י), Proverbs 30:3 (id., "" חָכְמָה); see also ׳ראשׁית ד ׳יִרְאַת י Proverbs 1:7 ("" חָכְמָה מוּסָר), Proverbs 1:22; Proverbs 1:29 ("" ׳יִרְאַת י) Proverbs 2:10 ("" חָכְמָה).
  • opposed to אִוֶּלֶת Proverbs 12:23; Proverbs 13:16; Proverbs 14:18; Proverbs 15:2 compare Proverbs 15:7, also Proverbs 15:14.
  • ׳שִׂפְתֵידֿ Proverbs 14:7; Proverbs 20:15; ׳אישׁ ד Proverbs 24:5 ("" גֶּבֶר חָכָם). — Daniel 12:4 is dubious; ᵐ5 Bev read ותרכה הָרָעֹת.

CONCLUSION

If we (correctly I believe) assume that these three qualities are of divine origin as the rest of Proverbs makes clear (especially the earlier chapters) then this proverb is simply saying that the best basis for building one's life, family and household is to base it all on the wisdom, understanding and knowledge that comes only from God.

2

A quick look at Proverbs 8:12 "I, wisdom live together with good judgement. I know where to discover knowledge and discernment"

It's true that one can have knowledge without wisdom, and the litmus test for that is arrogance, lack of empathy, and cockiness. This perhaps shows why the Bible says knowledge puffs up. There is a hollowness that comes with having knowledge without wisdom. They are like clouds without rain.

Wisdom on the other hand gives understanding or arrives with understanding and equips us to find the relevant knowledge needed at time. Wisdom makes us astute builders. Anything of value must be built. A solid business, marriage, family, and government must be built.

Cultivating that Wisdom through meditation gives us an understanding of the sustainability of what is built. Wisdom gives the blueprint and implementation, understating erect structures and lacuna for adjustments so that the functionality of wisdom in building can be in perpetuity. The understanding needed to improve, expand, and continue what wisdom began is found in the wisdom itself, and it's unlocked by meditation.

The knowledge that is in sync with wisdom means keeping abreast of the facts and promotes pragmatism. In trying to establish by understanding what wisdom has built, new skills and discoveries will be needed. This kind of knowledge is discovered by wisdom for witty inventions. It gives great value and can be disruptive. It creates new pathways and makes those who possess it inherit great wealth.

The first rule of engagement is to have a selfless spirit and the attitude of one who is willing to serve. The second is to pray to God for wisdom and to seek Him for understanding. Selah

2

In human nature -

  • A philosopher has the wisdom to find a truth of nature, and has the understanding to describe its existence while no other people perceive it existed. However, most of the discovery require a collective of knowledge and equipment to be proved in the future.

In Christianity -

  • Finding God is the wisdom and knowing His truth is the understanding. But still a Christian requires knowledge to know what to do and what not to do to live a holy life.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. (Psalm 9:10 NIV)

1

The Holy House Considering that this is a progressive parallelism, it is best to consider that verses 3 and 4 are one proverb. (Verse 5 is a separate proverb of this chapter.) And we must not lose sight of the metaphor the writer is using: The construction of a house.

Construction (1) In the erection of a house (and home) there first of all must be wisdom in planning. Consideration is to be given to the cost, the environment of its location (flood plain, sand footing, which Jesus warned about, etc.), and the tools and materials available. It is this wisdom the proverb writer points out as necessary.

(2) Next there must be an understanding of the methods of construction (its being established). An understanding of how each joint fits together... of how the best aesthetic beauty can be achieved... how the material can be fitted together so it will be permanent. The men who were in charge of building the Temple of Solomon had to have this type of understanding. The proverbalist acknowledged the need for this understanding in the process of construction.

(3) And finally, the interior of the house is ready for filling with appropriate furnishing (treasure) and decorating. Knowledge of color coordination, appropriate design, available furniture, contemporary fashions, etc. are necessary.

Experienced builder We pause to note that Solomon (perhaps the proverbalist) was quite experienced at constructing buildings in Jerusalem: erecting palaces and temples (for hundreds of wives!), so this parable is a summary of all that he had learned about this subject. It is valuable information he wished to pass on to posterity. And thus this progressive proverb is here for us to read and contemplate... and grow thereby.

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