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The Book of Proverbs
The title of this Book in the Hebrew Bible is "Mishle," which is derived from the verb "Mashal," to rule, hence short sayings which are given to govern life and conduct. It also has the meaning of "resemblance," that is a parable. Many proverbs are concentrated parables. Our English word "proverbs" comes from the word "proverbia" used in the Latin translation. Traditionally the authorship of the whole book is attributed to Solomon, but the book itself does not claim this, nor does it sustain the Solomonic authorship of the entire collection. The major portion of the book is attributed to Solomon and there can be no question that he is the author of it. In First Kings iv:32 we read that the great king uttered 3,000 proverbs in which the wisdom given to him is illustrated. But the book does not contain this number of proverbs.
Chapter xxv begins with the statement: "These are also proverbs which the men of Hezekiah, king of Judah, copied out." This pious king must have had a great interest in compiling and preserving certain portions of the Word of God. According to this statement in Proverbs he must have commissioned certain scribes to add to the previous collection of proverbs by Solomon, other proverbs, which up to that time had remained uncollected. Then in chapter xxx we find the words of Agur the son of Jakeh, and in chapter xxxi the words of King Lemuel.
From these facts which appear in the book it is clear that the composition of the entire book of Proverbs cannot be attributed to Solomon. The book begins with "The Proverbs of Solomon the Son of David, king of Israel". In the beginning of chapter x we read again: "The Proverbs of Solomon". It seems clear then that in chapter i-xxiv we have the proverbs of Solomon; chapter xxv to the end contains also proverbs by the King, except the last two chapters. In all probability the scribes of Hezekiah who copied out the proverbs of chapter xxv-xxix added the last two chapters. What Criticism states that "the later chapters of this book point to the second or third century before Christ" is only an assertion.
Another feature of this book is, that numerous times a person is addressed as "My son," and the personal pronoun is often used "thou, thee, thy," etc. The sections where we find this are chapter i-ix; xix:20; xxiv:34 and xxvii; xxix:27. Who then is the person addressed? Does Solomon address some one or is it Solomon himself who is addressed? Dr. J. W. Thirtle in his "Old Testament Problems" distinguishes between proverbs written by Solomon and those which