The Book of Proverbs, chapter eight, with BAC (Brit-Am Commentary).
Proverbs 8:1-5 Listen to the Right Lady: The Evil Impulse is a Harlot!
Proverbs 8:6-12 The Power of Speech and Good Inquiry.
Proverbs 8:13-25. Goodness Encompasses its own Rewards!
Reward in the Next World is the Main Thing!
The Right Lady (like the Lady of the Lake) is a feminine form with a special message.
In this case it represents the Principe of Wisdom calling to each one of us individually and also collectively to take heed.
[Proverbs 8:1] Does not wisdom cry out,
And understanding lift up her voice?
This touches on a theme that returns more than once in this book.
Proverbs 1:20-21 The Daily Buzz
Wisdom is everywhere!
Common sense is wisdom. In fact it so common that we often disdain to pay attention to it!
In the street, amongst our workmates, friends, and family, everywhere we go we may hear many very percipient observations.
Some of the more abstruse problems of philosophy are inadvertently dealt with by ordinary citizens as part of their daily schedule!
There is also much filth, degradation, and disgusting attitudes in the public domain.
We need to sift what is of value and value it.
The Vilna Gaon (Rabbi Eliyahu) contrasts this chapter to the previous one. In chapter seven the theme centered around the seductive enterprise of an adulterous woman.
Such a person acts in secret or at least they who accede to her offerings usually prefer that the matter not be known.
Wisdom on the other hand brings honor and self-respect and is public.
It is also parallel to the sexual act in which the male principle gives over to the receiving responsive female aspect of existence.
The difference is that Wisdom and imparting it are building and constructive actions. Adultery is the opposite.
The Adulterous Woman is a female with feminine wiles.
Wisdom is also depicted as a Lady calling out to us in public places.
In both cases we are being requested to do something, to take action.
[Proverbs 8:2] She takes her stand on the top of the high hill,
Beside the way, where the paths meet.
[Proverbs 8:3] She cries out by the gates, at the entry of the city,
At the entrance of the doors:
[Proverbs 8:4] To you, O men, I call,
And my voice is to the sons of men.
men. In Hebrew "Ishim" from the plural of "Ish". "Ish" literally means man but in Scripture it usually in the plural denotes important individuals, people of note.
the sons of men. In Hebrew Bnei Adam meaning the Children of Adam i.e. mankind in general.
The verse is saying that, People of Character i.e. they who are used to accepting Responsibility, are being spoken to directly. They are expected to do more and therefore the message to them is more personalized.
The ordinary person should open their eyes and hear. The message is also for them. Because they, in the past, may not have shown any inclination towards this type of message it is now as if less effort is being made to attract their attention.
Nevertheless they should listen and if they do so they will hear.
[Proverbs 8:5] O you simple ones, understand prudence,
And you fools, be of an understanding heart.
The word "casil" translated as "fool" is from the same root as "cisil" meaning security and trust.
A fool trusts in himself or in the surroundings.
His attitude is: If everyone else act this way, why should I not do the same?
A wise man will not be over-confident and not automatically follow the crowd.
We have here two important but apparently contradictory themes that need to be reconciled.
a. Learn the Bible, Listen to words of wisdom, common sense, good advice, read what others say, learn from their experiences, look at the instruction book, receive from others.
b. Do not blindly follow the mob. They who set themselves aside have special responsibilities. They will be spoken to directly. They are the chosen who will lead the others.
In other words it is more a question of activating our personality and character in the right direction.
We do not have to be geniuses but we should use what intelligence and understanding we do have and we should be prepared to add to it.
Proverbs 8:6-12 The Power of Speech and Good Inquiry.
[Proverbs 8:6] Listen, for I will speak of excellent things,
And from the opening of my lips will come right things;
of excellent things. Hebrew "negidim". This could also be translated (as understood by the GRA of Vilna) as saying: "I will speak with the governors".
[Proverbs 8:7] For my mouth will speak truth;
Wickedness is an abomination to my lips.
This could also be translated as saying:
My throat will contemplate the truth; evil is an abomination to my lips.
We should try to tell the truth and also we should think before we speak.
There is no reason why we should say harmful things, especially when we do not really want to.
Wickedness is the opposite of truth.
It may be that in some cases what is not true is not wicked but there is no such thing as wickedness being truth.
Some times one does not have to tell all the truth when harm will or embarrassment will come out of it.
The important aim should be to very careful with what one says.
Here and there we met people who habitually did not speak the truth. Sometimes these were otherwise important and respectable personages.
The excuses we received where like the following:
# It could be true, or it could have happened, so therefore one can speak as if it was #
# I know that such is the case so what does it matter if I quoted false evidence to back it up? #
# I got caught up in the passion of making my point and a few gross inaccuracies just slipped out of me #
# I was promoting a greater truth so who cares if I misrepresented the details? #
And so on.
Keep away from this.
We are all liable sometimes to say things we do not mean. Nevertheless if one learns Scripture, prays, and at least tries to admit the truth to oneself then telling the truth to others should become much easier.
At the same time not everyone has to know everything.
The bottom line it that good things usually come from a good heart and this includes words of speech.
[Proverbs 8:8] All the words of my mouth are with righteousness;
Nothing crooked or perverse is in them.
A person speaks freely. We all have need to communicate with others. Our expressions create our points of contact with others, they define us.
We should try and make everything we say of value or at least not of needless harm.
If you find yourself unable to speak positively to another person then try not to speak to them but divert your attention to worthwhile matters.
Bad irresponsible speech can be a trap for us.
Hitler, may he rot in Hell, praised the power of speech and attributed almost mystical significance to unrestrained oratory. He let his own pollution bury him in filth over which he lost control.
Churchill was not a natural speaker. Churchill labored greatly over what he had to say but through the virtue of his speech he helped save humanity.
[Proverbs 8:9] They are all plain to him who understands,
And right to those who find knowledge.
Good deeds, good thoughts, a little Bible and some prayer can open up a kind of dialogue between our inner soul and Eternity.
The Torah and Biblical Message can be quite simple.
Knowledge and understanding help us to prove to ourselves the merits of Scripture.
[Proverbs 8:10] Receive my instruction, and not silver,
And knowledge rather than choice gold;
Bible instruction is worth money or rather it is worth far more than other things that cost money.
[Proverbs 8:11] For wisdom is better than rubies,
And all the things one may desire cannot be compared with her.
That is right. It is worth more than money. Good knowledge and internalized wisdom can save lives.
[Proverbs 8:12] I, wisdom, dwell with prudence,
And find out knowledge and discretion.
This could also be translated as saying:
# I am wisdom. I have made my dwelling with cunning. Knowledge I find out (bring into being) through initiatives. #
We need to keep our eyes open; to search things out; to check matters and to value information and insight.
Proverbs 8:13-25. Goodness Encompasses its own Rewards!
[Proverbs 8:13] The fear of the LORD is to hate evil;
Pride and arrogance and the evil way
And the perverse mouth I hate.
We should all want the right thing. We should all be against evil, oppression, wrong-doing. It happens that someone is led into temptation but they pull back when realizing that they would not want this type of behavior to be that of their children or of others in general. This is an aspect of Fear of Heaven. It may not be a high level but it is effective.
Fear of God is belief in God.
This means putting God first.
God can punish. We also know that God can alleviate punishment.
God can enable.
We want to avoid punishment from Heaven.
We also want to have access to the Almighty. We do not want to do anything that at any time is liable to diminish the accessibility of God to us.
it is true that if we do repentance then God will once again hear us. Repentance however is not so easy to come by. It is far easier not to need it or at least to need it less.
[Proverbs 8:14] Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom;
I am understanding, I have strength.
Belief in God and fear of the Almighty gives us the ability to overcome adversity. This imparts strength and comprehension.
[Proverbs 8:15] By me kings reign,
And rulers decree justice.
A ruler has responsibility. Good will is important but without the fear of Heaven it is often ineffective and even misplaced.
[Proverbs 8:16] By me princes rule, and nobles,
All the judges of the earth.
[Proverbs 8:17] I love those who love me,
And those who seek me diligently will find me.
There you have it. If you look for it you will find it. The Almighty will guide you.
[Proverbs 8:18] Riches and honor are with me,
Enduring riches and righteousness.
[Proverbs 8:19] My fruit is better than gold, yes, than fine gold,
And my revenue than choice silver.
The knowledge gained, the inner experience, and the power needed are all better than money in the bank
and if you also have money in the bank it helps you know how to employ it.
This goes together with the long-range returns that good deeds and refraining from sin bring us.
[Proverbs 8:20] I traverse the way of righteousness,
In the midst of the paths of justice,
We want to do well. God can help us find the right way.
[Proverbs 8:21] That I may cause those who love me to inherit wealth,
That I may fill their treasuries.
[Proverbs 8:22] The LORD possessed me at the beginning of His way,
Before His works of old.
[Proverbs 8:23] I have been established from everlasting,
From the beginning, before there was ever an earth.
[Proverbs 8:24] When there were no depths I was brought forth,
When there were no fountains abounding with water.
[Proverbs 8:25] Before the mountains were settled,
Before the hills, I was brought forth;
[Proverbs 8:26] While as yet He had not made the earth or the fields,
Or the primal dust of the world.
[Proverbs 8:27] When He prepared the heavens, I was there,
When He drew a circle on the face of the deep,
[Proverbs 8:28] When He established the clouds above,
When He strengthened the fountains of the deep,
[Proverbs 8:29] When He assigned to the sea its limit,
So that the waters would not transgress His command,
When He marked out the foundations of the earth,
[Proverbs 8:30] Then I was beside Him as a master craftsman;
And I was daily His delight,
Rejoicing always before Him,
The world was created for us according to the master plan of righteousness.
[Proverbs 8:31] Rejoicing in His inhabited world,
And my delight was with the sons of men.
[Proverbs 8:32] Now therefore, listen to me, my children,
For blessed are those who keep my ways.
[Proverbs 8:33] Hear instruction and be wise,
And do not disdain it.
[Proverbs 8:34] Blessed is the man who listens to me,
Watching daily at my gates,
Waiting at the posts of my doors.
[Proverbs 8:35] For whoever finds me finds life,
And obtains favor from the LORD;
Finding life means not only longevity but also vitality and delight in the life we have.
[Proverbs 8:36] But he who sins against me wrongs his own soul;
All those who hate me love death.?
They who go against the Torah are their own enemies and dig their own graves.
Reward in the Next World is the Main Thing!
We have been explaining the message of Proverbs in general as well, here and there, of other Biblical passages as if to say that one should do good for the sake of goodness and avoid bad because it is bad.
There is something obvious about this: If you do good then good will come to you and to others for whom you care or at least should be concerned about.
The opposite holds for badness: Evil breeds bad things and causes harm to oneself and to others.
Good contains its own reward and evil its own punishment. This applies in this world.
There is danger however in over-emphasizing this obvious truth.
Antignos Ish Soko (ca. 270 BCE) is quoted (Mishna: Wisdom of the Fathers, 1:4) as saying:
# Be not like servants who serve their master for the sake of reward; rather, be like servants who do not serve their master for the sake of reward, and let the awe of Heaven be upon you #.
Consequently, two of his students, Beothus and Tsadok, deduced that there was no life after death and no reward in the Next World.
They founded two similar sects, the Beothians and the Tsadokites (Sadducees). Both these sects according to Maimonides were motivated by atheistic beliefs but they dressed themselves up in a pseudo-religious garb. Offshoots from these groups may have prepared the way for the later Karaite Cult that caused much trouble to the Jewish People.
Antignos (also spelt Antigonos) himself did not deny reward in the Life to Come. He only placed his emphasis on doing good for its own sake.
Both the Bible and Rabbinical Tradition belief in Life after Death. It is a Fundamental Principle.
"For what happens to the sons of men also happens to animals; one thing befalls them: as one dies, so dies the other. Surely, they all have one breath; man has no advantage over animals, for all is vanity. All go to one place: all are from the dust, and all return to dust. Who knows the spirit of the sons of men, which goes upward, and the spirit of the animal, which goes down to the earth'" (Ecclesiastes 3:19-21).
The spirit of man goes up; that of animals goes down!
cf. Ecclesiastes 12:
7 Then the dust will return to the earth as it was,
And the spirit will return to God who gave it.
See what we wrote on Job ch.1
There is another world. There is Life after Death. Jewish Tradition often emphasized Life after Death.
The Bible also gives expression to this.
See Brit-Am Commentary to Daniel 12:2, 13
[Daniel 12:2] AND MANY OF THEM THAT SLEEP IN THE DUST OF THE EARTH SHALL AWAKE, SOME TO EVERLASTING LIFE, AND SOME TO SHAME AND EVERLASTING CONTEMPT.
Â This according to its simple meaning refers to the Resurrection of the Dead.
Other verses with a similar import include:
THE LORD KILLETH, AND MAKETH ALIVE: HE BRINGETH DOWN TO THE GRAVE, AND BRINGETH UP [1-Samuel 2:6].
This verse can be understood both figuratively and literally. God can cause us to fall down and be debased and broken at the lowest point and once again from that situation to restore us. Literally we die and there will be a resurrection of the Dead.
THY DEAD MEN SHALL LIVE, TOGETHER WITH MY DEAD BODY SHALL THEY ARISE. AWAKE AND SING, YE THAT DWELL IN DUST: FOR THY DEW IS AS THE DEW OF HERBS, AND THE EARTH SHALL CAST OUT THE DEAD [Isaiah 26:19].
There will be a real Resurrection of the Dead in the Last Days. This will entail the revival of the righteous and those whom God decides.
In the Book of Job (14:13-15) the hero calls upon the Almighty to hide him in the grave until the time of Resurrection arrives.
13 'Oh, that You would hide me in the grave,
That You would conceal me until Your wrath is past,
That You would appoint me a set time, and remember me!
14 If a man dies, shall he live again?
All the days of my hard service I will wait,
Till my change comes.
15 You shall call, and I will answer You;
You shall desire the work of Your hands.
25 For I know that my Redeemer lives,
And at the end it shall be stood on the earth;
26 And after my skin is destroyed, this I know,
That in my flesh I shall see God,
27 Whom I shall see for myself,
And my eyes shall behold, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!
Nevertheless the overall Biblical attitude is to relate to Life after Death as another dimension with rules of its own.
The Bible seeks more to present a total outlook on reality while concentrating on this world and having everything be settled here,
as well as elsewhere.
There is also Belief in Life After Death as part of Eternity.
It is enough that we know that God rewards to an infinite degree but on the other hand only punishes several times over.
Either way, sin does not pay!
9 'Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments; 10 and He repays those who hate Him to their face, to destroy them. He will not be slack with him who hates Him; He will repay him to his face.
6 And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, 'The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, 7 keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children's children to the third and the fourth generation.'
Both Resurrection and Eternal Life are Predicted!
There are verses in the Bible that refer to either a future resurrection of the dead or to life in the world to come.
Some of these verses are ambiguous and could be explained as meaning something else or as figurative expressions.
Ezekiel 37, for instance, in the first part of the chapter speaks of dead bones coming to life. In the second part of the chapter Ezekiel describes the reunification of Judah and the Ten Tribes.
It could be claimed that revival of dead bones is only a simile for a spiritual revival of the Israelites leading to the the reunification of the two separated parts of the nation.
The simple straightforward impression however is that there will be a resurrection of the dead which is parallel to the eventual coming together of the Tribes.
The literal meaning of Scripture is to be always the preferred explanation unless Scripture itself indicates otherwise.
Â The Literal Meaning of Prophecy.
The Sages believed in a future Resurrection of the Dead as well as life in the World to Come.
Here are a few more sources reflecting this belief.
Life in Eternity Promised to David.
#... but the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living with the Lord your God; #
In Hebrew this is usually understood as saying:
# the soul of my lord shall enveloped in the Source of Life, the Almighty, Your God. #
This is explained to mean a promise of life in eternity.
A Future Dwelling Amongst the Angels Promised to the High Priest Joshua.
6 Then the Angel of the Lord admonished Joshua, saying,
7 Thus says the Lord of hosts:
If you will walk in My ways,
And if you will keep My command,
Then you shall also judge My house,
And likewise have charge of My courts;
I will give you places to walk
Among these who stand here.
" these who stand here" were understood to be the Angels and to refer to life in the world to come.
David will join his son in the Next Life.
22 And he said, While the child was alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, Who can tell whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live? 23 But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.
Isaiah Spoke of a Resurrection of the Dead.
Your dead shall live;
Together with my dead body they shall arise.
Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust;
For your dew is like the dew of herbs,
And the earth shall cast out the dead.
In our research for this article we found the 2nd chapter of Shaarei Teshuvah (The Gates of Repentance) by Rabaynu Yonah very helpful.