[b-hebrew] Pr. 1:6; riddles

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Sat Oct 10 10:57:56 EDT 2009

The “first year lies” extends also to dictionary meanings you find. Even
there different people suss different understandings, based on their
different outlooks on the terms.

On Fri, Oct 9, 2009 at 1:46 PM, Gerry Folbre <gfolbreiii at gmail.com> wrote:

> To all or any:
> Proverbs 1:6 has always fascinated me.  I will do an interlinear rendition
> of Pr. 1:6 and then give my personal translation.  I hope there will be
> some
> corrections, insights, and new information shared by those who enter the
> examination and discussion.
> Pr 1:6 להבין משׂל ומליצה  דברי חכמים וחידתם׃
> להבין = to comprehend  משׂל = a proverb/parable/poem/figurative discourse
> ומליצה = and a satire/enigma/figure/metaphor דברי = [the] words חכמים = [of
> the] wise וחידתם = and {Vaw adaequationis} = go together with their
> riddles.
> Pr. 1:6 To comprehend a figurative discourse and a metaphor; the words of
> the wise go together with their riddles.
> My take on this verse is “to cause to have insight into rules and
announcements, the expressions of the wise and their didactic questions.”

Remember, this is a book intended to teach, hence the verb here is
causative. It’s meaning is “to have insight, to understand in the sense of
getting between the surface appearances underneath to the essential nature
of what is known”.

משׂל ≠ a proverb/parable/poem/figurative discourse, that is a modern,
western concept. When we look at its uses in Tanakh, it refers to a rule,
regulation where people believed that life was orderly, with absolute rules
that can be learned.

ומליצה ≠ and a satire/enigma/figure/metaphor, rather it is the statement of
a מליץ a spokesperson, usually for another but who can also be a
spokesperson for God. This is also from the root meaning of being outspoken,
used both for a spokesperson, e.g. Genesis 42:23, though other words
indicate a babbling fool, Proverbs 17:28.

דבר = expression, not only in words, but also in body motions, such as
pointing and even objects made to give a message.

חידה = “didactic question, a riddle that has an implied message or statement
that one has to think about in order to get the message, e.g. Judges 14,
Samson killed the lion with his bare hands, therefore his message was,
“Don’t mess with me!” The Philistines got it, imperfectly, as their
subsequent actions showed. 1 Kings 10:1 the Queen of Sheba tested Solomon
with didactic questions, apparently to hammer out trade issues.” Hence these
are not riddles in the modern sense, rather questions intended to impart a
message, like those found in a catechism.

> Gerry Folbre

Karl W. Randolph.

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