The Book of Proverbs offers us a slew of wisdom nuggets that are often difficult to tie together when reading them in English. The parable in Proverbs 30:24-28 is no different. To further complicate the matter, what’s being presented in this parable, in its English form, denies most readers the gift of receiving wisdom that can be applied in their lives.
The King James read:
(Pro 30:24) There be four things which are little upon the earth, but they are exceeding wise:
(Pro 30:25) The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer;
(Pro 30:26) The conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks;
(Pro 30:27) The locusts have no king, yet go they forth all of them by bands;
(Pro 30:28) The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings’ palaces.
Reading the English translation, one might deduce that God’s word says we should (1) do like ants and prepare our food in the summer (2) be like “conies” (whatever that is) and live in rocks if we are weak (3) move in swarms despite not having a king, and (4) do like a spider and grab “something” while we live in a king’s palace??? Honestly, I really don’t know what to make of this as it is rendered in English.
What does this all really mean? I mean, what is its significance? Why would an intentional, purposeful God give us this particular word, and how can we apply it?
Studying these verses in the Hebrew language brings clarity to all of these questions and reveals the wisdom of the parable.
Chapter 30 of Proverbs are the words of a man named Agor, son of Yqah, which were told to Aitiel and Acal. The writer even tells us why Agor told him these things. He says, in verse 2, that it was because, in his nakedness, he did not understand humanity. So, the writer of this chapter is either Aitiel or Acal.
In Prov. 30:24 the writer begins this parable by saying, “These four are little earth and the from her wise ones from wise ones.” In other words, “These four are little in the land, wisdom from the wise.”
These are the “wisdoms from wise ones” that Agor shared with the writer and that Yahuwah is sharing with us.
|Literal possible translation (s)||The cut ones (assumed to mean ants)||people||Not strong||And they do base||In summer||Their bread or to be warm|
|Interpretation||The people of the cut ones (ants) are not strong, yet they do the basics in summer to be warm or to eat.|
|Wisdom 1||It is wise and necessary to prepare our basic needs in the appropriate season. Despite a lack of strength and because of that lack one should prepare in this manner. Most importantly, it is not an individual preparing, but a people.|
|Literal possible translation (s)||Hidden ones (assumed to be an unknown animal)||people||Not abundant||And they do name||In high cliff (a place of defense)||Their houses|
|Interpretation||The people of the hidden ones are not abundant; thus, they call the high cliffs their home. (for security from predators because they are few)|
|Wisdom 2||It is wise to create a secure dwelling. Despite and because a people are few, such a people must choose their location wisely. Again, it is not an individual making a home in the cliffs, but a people doing so collectively.|
|Literal possible translation (s)||King||without||to the ambush (assumed to be locusts)||And he will issue out||Divisions (bands like an army)||His all|
|Interpretation||A king is not to the ambushers, yet the whole band issues forth.|
|Wisdom 3||A people has no need for a leader, they need only to ALL band together.|
|Literal possible translation (s)||Desolate ית (the suffix signifies is something small or a minor desolation vs. a great one, like one who acts alone) Str#H8075||Ones doing fibers or brought to ruins or ones in hands or in their hands (“doing fibers” is a Hebrew idiom meaning to be alone” indicating this idiom is like calling something by this animal’s name, likely a spider who works alone. There is also a connection to the spider because of the literal meaning of “fiber” since spiders weave silk)||She will seize (take hold)||And she||In vessels||king|
|Interpretation||Lonely, in their hands she will be seized, yet she is in the vessels of a king.|
|Wisdom 4||One working alone is susceptible to be taken hold of, but she occupies the vessels of a king despite her vulnerability. One who operates alone is susceptible to fall into the hands of a king and be crushed.|
So, as it turns out, this parable is about families or others who share the same vulnerabilities working together to survive versus going at it alone. Those who are alone tend to fall into the hands of their enemy! Also, despite the negative comparison of wisdom 4, there is a positive implication as well. The lonely one demonstrates a certain boldness while in the vessels of the king simply by being there. On the other hand, even this boldness is nothing more than a false and foolish sense of security.
If in fact, all these “ones” being mentioned are animals, then wisdom 4 likely does refer to a spider as indicated by the KJV.
Think of a spider. It works alone and is always in spaces where it is susceptible to being seen and killed, yet it goes about its business fearlessly doing what spiders do. It does not take cover in high rocks, or travel in swarms, nor does it increase its survival rate by working with others like it. Rather, all by its lonesome, the spider, trap its food, weave its home, and dwell in open places, particularly where it is unwanted, in the king’s vessels.
This is a revelation for me because I am quite the loner, not by choice but by circumstance. And like the spider, I make the best of a lonely situation. But unlike a spider, I am no longer under the illusion that all is well in the king’s vessels. No, my circumstances are only until Yah connects me to my people who have learned and who apply these very “wisdoms”.
What do you think about these verses?