wisdom (Proverbs)

The Hebrew word chakam translated as “wisdom” in English is at the center of the book of Proverbs. William Reyburn and Euan Fry discuss the following in their Handbook on Proverbs (2000, p. 15ff.):

“The ‘wisdom’ that is the subject of Proverbs is not merely intellectual and philosophical. It is practical, involving what the person who is wise does in any given situation. It is ethical, meaning that it gives moral guidance and leads to right living. And it is religious, in that its foundation is God’s wisdom; as the book states, ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom’ (Prov. 9:10). (…) The term ‘wisdom’ covers a broad area of meaning. It actually can have a number of different meanings across the variety of contexts in which it is used; we should note particularly the following senses:

  1. ‘Intelligence’ or ‘shrewdness,’ which many languages recognize as being the equivalent of smartness or cleverness.
  2. ‘Good sense’ or ‘sound judgment,’ which in many cultures is regarded as the fruit of age or experience, and which is the basis of good and acceptable living.
  3. ‘Moral understanding,’ the ability to know what is right and what is wrong, and to live according to that knowledge.
  4. The capacity to think about the deeper problems of human life and destiny.”

In the Tzeltal translation for the dialectal variant of Highland Tzeltal (Biblia Tzeltal yu’un Oxchuc soc Tenejapa, 2001) the translation team made use of Tzeltal’s rich semantic inventory in this particular field and used three different terms that refer to different kinds of wisdom: p’ijil-o’tanil is “heart wisdom,” p’ijil c’op stands for “word wisdom” (also used for “knowledge”) and p’ijil jol is “head wisdom” (also used for “insight” or “understanding”).

See the individual articles that include the respective verse references:

See also wisdom.