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The word Chokhmah (wisdom) is used in the Bible: (Prov 8:22–31), (Job 28:12–13, 20–1, 23–27), (Prov 8:22–31; cf. Sir 24:4; Wisdom 9:9–10).

Recently I saw an interpretation postulating that Chokhmah is Jesus himself.

Does it make sense and it is a valid interpretation?

3 Answers 3

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The Book of Proverbs is among the poetic books of the Bible, and is written in a more literary style.

Hebrew poetry is not like English poetry: it typically does not rhyme, exhibit assonance or alliteration, nor follow a set meter. Poetry in Hebrew means using creative language to say things in a reinforced manner without using the same words. The use of couplets is the norm for this poetry, where two parallel concepts are presented, often in a chiastic structure.

Proverbs 8 is no exception to this. It clearly uses "wisdom" to represent someone, as the personification shows.

Reference Text (KJV) Comments
Prov. 8:1 Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice? Natural wisdom does not speak--it is an inanimate and abstract thing. Yet here, wisdom is said to cry, and have a voice. Notice the "wisdom" and the "understanding" used in parallel; and "cry" and "voice" are in parallel. This is the natural form of Hebrew poetry.
Prov. 8:2 She standeth in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the paths. "Wisdom" in Hebrew is a feminine-gendered noun, so its pronoun would be "she." This does not mean that the person whom wisdom represents must be female.
Prov. 8:3 She crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors. Here there are even three variations on the same theme set in parallel: gates, entry, and doors. Again, "wisdom" is depicted as having a voice.
Prov. 8:4 Unto you, O men, I call; and my voice is to the sons of man. Parallels: "Men" and "sons of man"; "voice" and "call".
Prov. 8:5 O ye simple, understand wisdom: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart. "Simple" is paralleled to "fools"; and "wisdom" to "understanding."
Prov. 8:6 Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips shall be right things. "Wisdom" will speak of excellent things, having lips.
Prov. 8:7 For my mouth shall speak truth; and wickedness is an abomination to my lips. "Wisdom" has a mouth speaking truth, and does not speak wickedly.
Prov. 8:8 All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing froward or perverse in them. Who speaks only righteousness?
Prov. 8:9 They are all plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge. Spiritual things are spiritually discerned--only those with discernment will understand this passage.
Prov. 8:10 Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold. "Wisdom" is an instructor.
Prov. 8:11 For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it. "Wisdom" is of greater value than earthly treasures.
Prov. 8:12 I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions. "Wisdom" dwells.
Prov. 8:13 The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate. "Wisdom" hates evil ways and adversarial or contrary mouths.
Prov. 8:14 Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I have strength. Who can say he is understanding? Consider: "And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;" (Isaiah 11:2, KJV). Isaiah parallels "spirit of the LORD" with both "wisdom" and "understanding."
Prov. 8:15 By me kings reign, and princes decree justice. Who sets up kings and takes them down?
Prov. 8:16 By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth. "And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding:" (Daniel 2:21, KJV)
Prov. 8:17 I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me. "Wisdom" loves people, and can be found of them.
Prov. 8:18 Riches and honour are with me; yea, durable riches and righteousness. "Wisdom" has riches and honor.
Prov. 8:19 My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and my revenue than choice silver. "Wisdom" has revenue.
Prov. 8:20 I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment: "Wisdom" leads righteously.
Prov. 8:21 That I may cause those that love me to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures. "Wisdom" is loved, and causes.
Prov. 8:22 The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. "Wisdom" is possessed by the LORD. This is significant. Remember: "Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me:" (Hebrews 10:5, KJV)
Prov. 8:23 I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. "Wisdom" was established from everlasting," from before the earth's existence.
Prov. 8:24 When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. "Wisdom" was brought forth (begotten?).
Prov. 8:25 Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth: "Wisdom" is brought forth prior to the hills and mountains.
Prov. 8:26 While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. "Wisdom" existed prior to the creation of the earth.
Prov. 8:27 When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth: "Wisdom" was present at the creation of the heavens and the depth (seas?).
Prov. 8:28 When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep: "Wisdom" was present when the clouds and fountains were fashioned.
Prov. 8:29 When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth: "Wisdom" was present when the command was given to the waters to stay within their boundaries.
Prov. 8:30 Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him; "Wisdom" was brought up with God, and rejoiced before him. This is significant. God has always been wise and omniscient, so this must refer to someone else.
Prov. 8:31 Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men. "Wisdom" took pleasure in humanity.
Prov. 8:32 Now therefore hearken unto me, O ye children: for blessed are they that keep my ways. "Wisdom" asks for his "children" to follow his ways.
Prov. 8:33 Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not. "Wisdom" asks his children to follow his instruction.
Prov. 8:34 Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. "Wisdom" will be a blessing to all who hear him.
Prov. 8:35 For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the LORD. "Wisdom" is life. Remember: "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." (John 14:6, KJV)
Prov. 8:36 But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death. "Wisdom" can be sinned against.

Throughout the passage, clear analogies are made to a personage that could be none other than Christ. No other perfect being, begotten by God, was with God when the heavens were made and the earth created. No other being teaches us to follow his righteous ways as much as Jesus.

Conclusion

Considering the context of the entire chapter, the word "wisdom" is clearly a euphemistic personification serving as a metaphor for some personage. The descriptive details provided help us know that this personage can be none other than Jesus Christ. The passage teaches crucial truths about Jesus and provides deep prophetic insight.

Let us remember that "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:" (2 Timothy 3:16, KJV). Solomon did not write this passage of his own wisdom--God was inspiring the thoughts which he recorded, for His wise purposes.

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It is a valid interpretation. As a matter of fact, that is the point the author of Hebrews makes in the opening of his letter.

who being the brightness (apaugasma) of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, (Hebrews 1:3)

The only other use of apaugasma in the Bible is in the Book of Wisdom 7:26.

24 For wisdom is more moving than any motion: she passeth and goeth through all things by reason of her pureness. 25 For she is the breath of the power of God, and a pure influence flowing from the glory of the Almighty: therefore can no defiled thing fall into her. 26 For she is the brightness (apaugasma) of the everlasting light, the unspotted mirror of the power of God, and the image of his goodness. (Wisdom of Solomon 7)

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  • Brightness is not wisdom. The Book of Hebrews uses a Greek word. The Proverbs was written in ancient Hebrew. I cannot make any sense of your answer, for those two reasons. Can you clarify?
    – Anne
    Commented Jul 20, 2023 at 17:11
  • Wisdom of Solomon is not the Book of Proverbs. It is completely different book, written in greek and very popular during the second temple period. It is considered an apocrypha by the evangelicals but is a part of the cannon for the Catholic and the Orthodox. Commented Jul 23, 2023 at 9:42
  • @ ארקדיוס You are quite correct, but because the OP twice referenced the Bible book of Proverbs chapter 8, I had that in mind, where it suggests personification of the quality of wisdom. The quote you gave from Wisdom of Solomon 7, however, depicts wisdom as being like breath, power, pure influence, brightness and goodness, but not as a person.
    – Anne
    Commented Jul 23, 2023 at 13:19
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No, it does not make sense that this is a valid interpretation. Proverbs 8, specifically vs22 has been used by certain cults and others that deny the deity of Jesus Christ to prove that Jesus is a created being.

What we are dealing with here is the issue of "personification." That is ascribing personal action or characteristics to a nonpersonal thing. The non-personal thing in Proverbs 8 is "wisdom."

Certain biblical passages have been misinterpreted because interpreters have failed to recognize when writers were using personification. Proverbs 8 is a classic example.

Personification in Proverbs 8 is "wisdom" which is one of God's attributes. This personification is evident right at vs1. "Does not wisdom call, and understanding lift up "HER" voice." At vs2 the word "SHE" is used and even jumping to Proverbs 9 vs1, "Wisdom has built HER house, SHE has hewn out her seven pillars."

Now, Jesus Christ is identified with wisdom at 1 Corinthians 1:24. "but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God." This means that the gospel, which speaks so eloquently of Jesus Christ, reveals God's power and wisdom, to those who accept it.

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  • Very Good answer. +1.
    – Dottard
    Commented Jul 17, 2023 at 21:57
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    Your answer appears incognizant of the fact that the word for wisdom in Hebrew, "חָכְמָ֥ה/ḥāḵ·māh", is a feminine-gendered noun, which is why the pronouns, which agree with their noun in Hebrew, are translated in the feminine form in English. The pronouns have nothing to do with the imagery itself. It is often the case that a feminine-gendered noun may represent what in our minds should be masculine. For example, the word "Moab" (see Genesis 19:37), the name of one of Lot's sons, is actually a feminine-gendered noun in Hebrew. Wisdom's gender cannot be used to exclude Jesus--it's irrelevant.
    – Biblasia
    Commented Jul 20, 2023 at 4:52
  • +1 from Vietnam
    – VNPython
    Commented Jul 20, 2023 at 5:22
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    @Biblasia This was addressed here: hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/68911/… Ok, as you said "Wisdom's gender cannot be used to exclude Jesus." Please explain in detail how you know Proverbs 8 is referring to Jesus Christ? Give us your proof?
    – Mr. Bond
    Commented Jul 20, 2023 at 13:50
  • To claim that Wisdom was the personification of a created Son of God would be to say that there was a time when God was without his wisdom, until he created the Son of God! So, 1+
    – Anne
    Commented Jul 20, 2023 at 17:18

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