Most of us know King Solomon as one of the wisest men to have ever lived. In my opinion, no wisdom has outdone that of Solomon’s to date, except Yahushua’s of course. One only needs to read his wise sayings and instruction in Hebrew to realize the expanse of Solomon’s wisdom.
I came to know our once great, yet fallen, king when I began to seek wisdom and correction for myself. I thought there would be no better place to start then in the Book of Proverbs. The very first thing I learned, in Proverbs 1:1, was that Solomon’s name wasn’t Solomon at all, but is pronounced Shah-lah-mah, spelled שלמה.
His name comes from the root word for wholeness, or as we say in English, peace. Together with its suffix ה, “Solomon’s” name means “her wholeness or her fulfillment” and is feminine like many other male Hebrew names.
The reason its feminine has nothing to do with the person to whom this title was given, but the title itself. So, although many alter the pronunciation to make it more masculine, this is completely unnecessary. Hebraically, masculinity and femininity is a matter of function not figure. In other words, it doesn’t have anything to do with one’s sexual identity, but function. The key to understanding this can be found by deeply studying Genesis 1-4 where these concepts are demonstrated by the Father himself.
Now Solomon had another name, by which the prophet Nathan called him Yadadiyah, or as we say in English, Jedidiah, meaning Yah’s beloved, because he was loved by Yahuwah. (2 Samuel 12:25)
What is most interesting about Solomon is the way he chose to share his wisdom. In Proverbs 1 and other scriptures, he introduces his writings as comparisons and riddles that must be deciphered by certain people who diligently seek such wisdom.
In English, his writings in the Book of Proverbs seem to be a random string of wise sayings when read in English; but in Hebrew there is a singular theme throughout his proverbs. Furthermore, most of his writings build upon each other, as to demonstrate phases or stages of one’s journey.
Look at this for example:
|8 Hear children [my son] instruction your Father and to you will spread law/teachings your mother.||8 Get it right as a child by following the instruction of your father and spreading the teachings of your mother.|
|9 Because join camp [or beauty] them to your head and collars to your necks.||9 Keep your father’s instruction and mother’s teachings joined to your head and like a collar upon your neck.|
|10 Children [or my son] if your wondering, sins [or sinners] to you come,||10 if you wonder from the instructions and teachings of your parents, sin will come to you.|
|11 If they say walk her targeting us, we struggle [or locust, also related to ambush] to blood, we hide to innocent their beauty [or freely/freedom].||11 If you have failed to abide by these things, when someone tells you lets go and ambush someone and hide their innocence and beauty,|
|12 We swallow them like grave living and whole ones like he did descend clean [or pit]||
12 Let’s swallow them like the grave and whole like a pit,
|13 All substance [or sufficient] he will call [or precious] we will find our houses [or in his gift] spoil.||
13 We will take all they have,
14 Your lot you will fall [or pleading from תפילה] in our midst bag one existing to us all.
14 We will share the spoil.
|15 Children to you will walk in way your mark withhold your foot from their path.||15 Children, walk in the way of your own purpose, keep your foot off their path.|
The reason I find this so intriguing is that Solomon says, “do this, but if you fail, then do this, and if you fail again, then do this”, as though he had experienced it all – as if he had failed. Solomon didn’t condemn, rather he explained how to get it right once you have gotten it wrong. This continues for many verses, perhaps for the entire portion of the book attributed to Solomon.
He tells us how to recognize righteousness and foolery alike and that is exactly what he promises to do in his introduction.
|Proverb 1:1 Comparisons of Solomon Son of David king of Israel.||The Comparisons of Solomon, son of King David of Israel|
|2 To knowledge wisdom and instruction to the understanding my sayings understanding [or in safekeeping].||To know wisdom and instruction, to understand my sayings of understanding,|
|3 To learn instruction the wisdom righteous/straight and from judgment and from straightness.||To learn instruction of wisdom and righteousness and injustice (un-judgment) and crookedness (un-straightness)|
These are Solomon’s listed purposes for writing the book, that readers would know these things and when you study the book in depth, via the Hebrew text, his listed learning goals are clearly accomplished.
By studying Solomon, I learned some very important lessons. The real purpose of this post is to share those lessons that can only be gleaned through in-depth study!
Lesson #1: When studying scripture, we must keep in mind the author and his stated or implied purpose for writing a work.
Lesson #2: If something seems disconnected or out of sync with the theme and purpose of a writing, it probably is and is being mistranslated or misunderstood.
At some points in Solomon’s comparisons, it is the equivalent of this….
“This is a story about a girl who learned to ride a bike. A red cat can see. She learned to ride very well.”
When we see these out of place pieces of information, it can often be explained and understood by retranslating it from the Hebrew scriptures. The key is finding out if the seeing red cat is connected to the girl riding the bike, or if there is a red cat at all!
Lesson #3: As far as proverbs go, the English translation sometimes renders nearly every verse distinct and unrelated to those before and after it but this is not usually the case.
For example, Proverbs 14 begins with a famous verse, “A wise woman builds her house…” but there is absolutely nothing else about when, where, why, or how a wise woman builds her house. While it’s a catchy phrase, there is so much more to this verse and chapter than this one English phrase.
In fact, this verse can be interpreted several different ways.
|Wisdoms||women||her build||her house||and fools||in her hands||she will demolish us|
|Wise ones (A group that is female as opposed to “חכמים” which is male or male and female)||debts, i.e. continual pressings (h5386)||
|her inner||her lies (h0907)|
|they overlook or forget (h5382)||her children (h1124)||her family||her ruins (h6365)|
As you can see, translators could have chosen any of several ways to translate this verse. The message that best sums up all of these possible translations seems to be that wise women instill wisdom in their children and lying foolery will destroy everyone who encounters it.
Essentially, this verse is not about a woman, but about the function of women which is to instill wisdom versus folly. Which is also what the rest of chapter 14 is about. At the same time, it compares the two, wisdom and folly, which is ultimately what women who build their homes would instill in their families – that is how to distinguish one from the other and choose wisdom over foolishness.
I have learned so much more, which I will share later, but until then my prayer for you is that you would study proverbs for yourself to learn the “wisdoms” of Solomon! It is good for chastisement and correction. And any person who believes they have no need for correction is only fooling themselves. If you are a mother, these truths are what you should be instilling in yourself and in your family!
If you have any questions about verses in Proverbs, please feel free to post them here. Shalom 🙂