Book of Ezra
The Book of Ezra is a book of the Hebrew Bible. The two became separated with the first printed rabbinic bibles of the early 16th century, following late medieval Latin Christian tradition, its subject is the Return to Zion following the close of the Babylonian captivity, it is divided into two parts, the first telling the story of the first return of exiles in the first year of Cyrus the Great and the completion and dedication of the new Temple in Jerusalem in the sixth year of Darius I, the second telling of the subsequent mission of Ezra to Jerusalem and his struggle to purify the Jews from marriage with non-Jews. Together with the Book of Nehemiah, it represents the final chapter in the historical narrative of the Hebrew Bible. Ezra is written to fit a schematic pattern in which the God of Israel inspires a king of Persia to commission a leader from the Jewish community to carry out a mission; the theological program of the book explains the many problems. It appeared in its earliest version around 399 BC, continued to be revised and edited for several centuries before being accepted as scriptural in the early Christian era.
The Book of Ezra consists of ten chapters: chapters 1–6, covering the period from the Cyrus the Great to the dedication of the Second Temple, are told in the third person. The book contains several documents presented as historical inclusions, written in Aramaic while the surrounding text is in Hebrew Chapters 1–6 1. Decree of Cyrus, first version: Cyrus, inspired by God, returns the Temple vessels to Sheshbazzar, "prince of Judah", directs the Israelites to return to Jerusalem with him and rebuild the Temple. 2. 42,360 exiles, with men servants, women servants and "singing men and women", return from Babylon to Jerusalem and Judah under the leadership of Zerubbabel and Jeshua the High Priest. 3. Jeshua the High Priest and Zerubbabel celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. In the second year the foundations of the Temple are laid and the dedication takes place with great rejoicing. 4. Letter of the Samaritans to Artaxerxes, reply of Artaxerxes: The "enemies of Judah and Benjamin" offer to help with the rebuilding, but are rebuffed.
The officials of Samaria write to king Artaxerxes warning him that Jerusalem is being rebuilt, the king orders the work to stop. "Thus the work on the house of God in Jerusalem came to a standstill until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia." 5. Tattenai's letter to Darius: Through the exhortations of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah and Joshua recommence the building of the Temple. Tattenai, satrap over both Judah and Samaria, writes to Darius warning him that Jerusalem is being rebuilt and advising that the archives be searched to discover the decree of Cyrus. 6. Decree of Cyrus, second version, decree of Darius: Darius finds the decree, directs Tattenai not to disturb the Jews in their work, exempts them from tribute and supplies everything necessary for the offerings; the Temple is finished in the month of Adar in the sixth year of Darius, the Israelites assemble to celebrate its completion. Chapters 7–107. Letter of Artaxerxes to Ezra: King Artaxerxes is moved by God to commission Ezra "to inquire about Judah and Jerusalem with regard to the Law of your God" and to "appoint magistrates and judges to administer justice to all the people of Trans-Euphrates—all who know the laws of your God."
Artaxerxes directs all Persian officials to aid him. 8. Ezra gathers a large body of returnees and much gold and silver and precious vessels for the Temple and camps by a canal outside Babylon. There he discovers he has no Levites, so sends messengers to gather some; the exiles return to Jerusalem, where they distribute the gold and silver and offer sacrifices to God. 9. Ezra is informed that some of the Jews in Jerusalem have married non-Jewish women. Ezra is appalled at this proof of sin, prays to God: "O God of Israel, you are righteous! We are left this day as a remnant. Here we are before you in our guilt, though because of it not one of us can stand in your presence." 10. Despite the opposition of some of their number, the Israelites assemble and send away their foreign wives and children. In the early 6th century BC, the Kingdom of Judah rebelled against the Neo-Babylonian Empire and was destroyed; as a result, the royal court, the priests, the prophets and scribes were taken into captivity in the city of Babylon.
There a profound intellectual revolution took place, the exiles blaming their fate on disobedience to their God and looking forward to a future when he would allow a purified people to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. The same period saw the rapid rise of Persia an unimportant kingdom in present-day southern Iran, to a position of great power, in 539 BC Cyrus II, the Persian ruler, conquered Babylon, it is difficult to describe the parties and politics of Judea in this period because of the lack of historical sources, but there seem to have been three important groups involved: the returnees from the exile who claimed the reconstruction with the support
Song of Songs
The Song of Songs Song of Solomon or Canticles, is one of the megillot found in the last section of the Tanakh, known as the Ketuvim, a book of the Old Testament. The Song of Songs is unique within the Hebrew Bible: it shows no interest in Law or Covenant or the God of Israel, nor does it teach or explore wisdom like Proverbs or Ecclesiastes; the two are in harmony, each rejoicing in sexual intimacy. In modern Judaism the Song is read on the Sabbath during the Passover, which marks the beginning of the grain harvest as well as commemorating the Exodus from Egypt. Jewish tradition reads it as an allegory of the relationship between God and Israel, Christianity as an allegory of Christ and his "bride", the Church. There is widespread consensus that, although the book has no plot, it does have what can be called a framework, as indicated by the links between its beginning and end. Beyond this, there appears to be little agreement: attempts to find a chiastic structure have not been compelling, attempts to analyse it into units have used differing methods and arrived at differing results.
The following schema, from Kugler & al. must therefore be taken as indicative, rather than determinative: Introduction Dialogue between the lovers The woman recalls a visit from her lover The woman addresses the daughters of Zion Sighting a royal wedding procession The man describes his lover's beauty The woman addresses the daughters of Jerusalem The man describes his lover, who visits him Observers describe the woman's beauty Appendix The introduction calls the poem "the song of songs", a construction used in Scriptural Hebrew to show something as the greatest and most beautiful of its class. The poem proper begins with the woman's expression of desire for her lover and her self-description to the "daughters of Jerusalem": she insists on her sun-born blackness, likening it to the "tents of Kedar" and the "curtains of Solomon". A dialogue between the lovers follows: the woman asks the man to meet; the two compete in offering flattering compliments. The section closes with the woman telling the daughters of Jerusalem not to stir up love such as hers until it is ready.
The woman recalls a visit from her lover in the springtime. She uses imagery from a shepherd's life, she says of her lover that "he pastures his flock among the lilies"; the woman again addresses the daughters of Jerusalem, describing her fervent and successful search for her lover through the night-time streets of the city. When she finds him she takes him by force into the chamber in which her mother conceived her, she reveals that this is a dream, seen on her "bed at night" and ends by again warning the daughters of Jerusalem "not to stir up love until it is ready". The next section reports a royal wedding procession. Solomon is mentioned by name, the daughters of Jerusalem are invited to come out and see the spectacle; the man describes his beloved: Her hair is like a flock of goats, her teeth like shorn ewes, so on from face to breasts. Place-names feature heavily: her neck is like the Tower of David, her smell like the scent of Lebanon, he hastens to summon his beloved, saying that he is ravished by a single glance.
The section becomes a "garden poem", in which he describes her as a "locked garden". The woman invites the man to taste the fruits; the man accepts the invitation, a third party tells them to eat, drink, "and be drunk with love". The woman tells the daughters of Jerusalem of another dream, she was in her chamber. She was slow to open, when she did, he was gone, she searched through the streets again, but this time she failed to find him and the watchmen, who had helped her before, now beat her. She asks the daughters of Jerusalem to help her find him, describes his physical good looks, she admits her lover is in his garden, safe from harm, committed to her as she is to him. The man describes his beloved; the people praise the beauty of the woman. The images are the same as those used elsewhere in the poem, but with an unusually dense use of place-names, e.g. pools of Hebron, gate of Bath-rabbim, tower of Damascus, etc. The man states his intention to enjoy the fruits of the woman's garden; the woman invites him to a tryst in the fields.
She once more warns the daughters of Jerusalem against waking love. The woman compares love to death and sheol: love is as relentless and jealous as these two, cannot be quenched by any force, she summons her lover, using the language used before: he should come "like a gazelle or a young stag upon the mountain of spices". The Song offers no clue to the date, place, or circumstances of its composition; the superscription st
Book of Isaiah
The Book of Isaiah is the first of the Latter Prophets in the Hebrew Bible and the first of the Major Prophets in the Christian Old Testament. It is identified by a superscription as the words of the 8th-century BCE prophet Isaiah ben Amoz, but there is extensive evidence that much of it was composed during the Babylonian captivity and later. Bernhard Duhm originated the view, held as a consensus through most of the 20th century, that the book comprises three separate collections of oracles: Proto-Isaiah, containing the words of Isaiah. While no scholars today attribute the entire book, or most of it, to one person, the book's essential unity has become a focus in more recent research. Isaiah 1–33 promises judgment and restoration for Judah and the nations, chapters 34–66 presume that judgment has been pronounced and restoration follows soon, it can thus be read as an extended meditation on the destiny of Jerusalem after the Exile. The Deutero-Isaian part of the book describes how God will make Jerusalem the centre of his worldwide rule through a royal saviour who will destroy her oppressor.
Isaiah speaks out against corrupt leaders and for the disadvantaged, roots righteousness in God's holiness rather than in Israel's covenant. Isaiah 44:6 contains the first clear statement of monotheism: "I am the last; this model of monotheism became the defining characteristic of post-Exilic Judaism, the basis for Christianity and Islam. Isaiah was one of the most popular works among Jews in the Second Temple period. In Christian circles, it was held in such high regard as to be called "the Fifth Gospel", its influence extends beyond Christianity to English literature and to Western culture in general, from the libretto of Handel's Messiah to a host of such everyday phrases as "swords into ploughshares" and "voice in the wilderness"; the scholarly consensus which held sway through most of the 20th century saw three separate collections of oracles in the book of Isaiah. A typical outline based on this understanding of the book sees its underlying structure in terms of the identification of historical figures who might have been their authors: 1–39: Proto-Isaiah, containing the words of the original Isaiah.
While one part of the consensus still holds – no contemporary scholar maintains that the entire book, or most of it, was written by one person – this perception of Isaiah as made up of three rather distinct sections underwent a radical challenge in the last quarter of the 20th century. The newer approach looks at the book in terms of its literary and formal characteristics, rather than authors, sees in it a two-part structure divided between chapters 33 and 34: 1–33: Warnings of judgment and promises of subsequent restoration for Jerusalem and the nations. Seeing Isaiah as a two-part book with an overarching theme leads to a summary of its contents like the following: The book opens by setting out the themes of judgment and subsequent restoration for the righteous. God has a plan which will be realised on the "Day of Yahweh", when Jerusalem will become the centre of his worldwide rule. On that day all the nations of the world will come to Zion for instruction, but first the city must be punished and cleansed of evil.
Israel is invited to join in this plan. Chapters 5–12 explain the significance of the Assyrian judgment against Israel: righteous rule by the Davidic king will follow after the arrogant Assyrian monarch is brought down. Chapters 13–27 announce the preparation of the nations for Yahweh's world rule; the oppressor is about to fall. Chapters 34 -- 35 tell. Chapters 36–39 tell of the faithfulness of king Hezekiah to Yahweh during the Assyrian siege as a model for the restored community. Chapters 40–54 state that the restoration of Zion is taking place because Yahweh, the creator of the universe, has designated the Persian king Cyrus the Great as the promised messiah and temple-builder. Chapters 55–66 are an exhortation to Israel to keep the covenant. God's eternal promise to David is now made to the people of Israel/Judah at large; the book ends by enjoining righteousness as the final stages of God's plan come to pass, including the pilgrimage of the nations to Zion and the realisation of Yahweh's kingship.
The older understanding of this book as three discrete sections attributable to identifiable authors leads to a more atomised picture of its contents, as in this example: Proto-Isaiah/First Isaiah:1–12: Oracles against Judah from Isaiah's early years.
Book of Joel
The Book of Joel is part of the Hebrew Bible, one of twelve prophetic books known as the Twelve Minor Prophets. After a superscription ascribing the prophecy to Joel, the book may be broken down into the following sections: Lament over a great locust plague and a severe drought; the effects of these events on agriculture, on the supply of agricultural offerings for the Temple in Jerusalem, interspersed with a call to national lament. A more apocalyptic passage comparing the locusts to an army, revealing that they are God's army. A call to national repentance in the face of God's judgment. Promise of future blessings. Banishment of the locusts and restoration of agricultural productivity as a divine response to national penitence. Future prophetic gifts to all God's people, the safety of God's people in the face of cosmic cataclysm. Coming judgment on God's enemies and the vindication of Israel; the Book of Joel's division into chapters and verses differs between editions of the Bible. Translations with four chapters include: Jewish Publication Society's version of the Hebrew Bible Jerusalem Bible New American Bible Complete Jewish Bible Tree of Life Version In the 1611 King James Bible, the Book of Joel is formed by three chapters: the second one has 32 verses, it is equivalent to the union of the chapter 2 and chapter 3 of other editions of the Bible.
The differences of the division is as follows: As there are no explicit references in the book to datable persons or events, scholars have assigned a wide range of dates to the book. The main positions are: Ninth century BC in the reign of Joash – a position popular among nineteenth-century scholars Early eighth century BC, during the reign of Uzziah c. 630–587 BC, in the last decades of the kingdom of Judah c. 520–500 BC, contemporary with the return of the exiles and the careers of Zechariah and Haggai. The decades around 400 BC, during the Persian period Evidence produced for these positions are allusions in the book to the wider world, similarities with other prophets, linguistic details; some commentators, such as John Calvin, attach no great importance to the precise dating. The Masoretic text places Joel between Hosea and Amos, while the Septuagint order is Hosea–Amos–Micah–Joel–Obadiah–Jonah; the Hebrew text of Joel seems to have suffered little from scribal transmission, but is at a few points supplemented by the Septuagint and Vulgate versions, or by conjectural emendation.
While the book purports to describe a plague of locusts, some ancient Jewish opinion saw the locusts as allegorical interpretations of Israel's enemies. This allegorical interpretation was applied to the church by many church fathers. Calvin took a literal interpretation of chapter 1, but allegorical view of chapter 2, a position echoed by some modern interpreters. Most modern interpreters, see Joel speaking of a literal locust plague given a prophetic/ apocalyptic interpretation; the traditional ascription of the whole book to the prophet Joel was challenged in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries by a theory of a three-stage process of composition: 1:1–2:27 were from the hand of Joel, dealt with a contemporary issue. Mentions in the first half of the book to the day of the Lord were ascribed to this continuator. 3:4–8/4:4–8 could be seen as later. Details of exact ascriptions differed between scholars; this splitting of the book's composition began to be challenged in the mid-twentieth century, with scholars defending the unity of the book, the plausibility of the prophet combining a contemporary and apocalyptic outlook, additions by the prophet.
The authenticity of 3:4–8 has presented more challenges, although a number of scholars still defend it. There are many parallels of language between other Old Testament prophets, they may represent Joel's literary use of other prophets, or vice versa. In the New Testament, his prophecy of the outpouring of God's Holy Spirit upon all people was notably quoted by Saint Peter in his Pentecost sermon; the table below represents some of the more explicit quotes and allusions between specific passages in Joel and passages from the Old and New Testaments. Plange quasi virgo, the third responsory for Holy Saturday, is loosely based on verses from the Book of Joel: the title comes from Joel 1:8. See works on the Minor Prophets as a whole. Achtemeier, Elizabeth. Minor Prophets I. New International Biblical Commentary. Ahlström, Gösta W. Joel and the Temple Cult of Jerusalem. Supplements to Vetus Testamentum 21. Allen, Leslie C; the Books of Joel, Jonah & Micah. New International Commentary on the Old Testament.
Anders, Max E. & Butler, Trent C. Hosea–Micah. Holman Old Testament Commentary. Assis, Elie. Joel: A Prophet Between Calamity and Hope, New York: Bloomsbury, 2013 Baker, David W. Joel, Malachi. NIV Application Commentary. Barton, John. Joel & Obadiah: a Commentary. Old Testament Library. Birch, Bruce C. Hosea, Joel & Amos
Book of Haggai
The Book of Haggai is a book of the Hebrew Bible or Tanakh, has its place as the third-to-last of the Minor Prophets. It is a short book; the historical setting dates around 520 BCE. The Book of Haggai is named after the prophet Haggai. There is no biographical information given about the prophet in the Book of Haggai. Haggai's name is derived from the Hebrew verbal root hgg, which means "to make a pilgrimage." W. Sibley Towner suggests that Haggai's name might come "from his single-minded effort to bring about the reconstruction of that destination of ancient Judean pilgrims, the Temple in Jerusalem." The Book of Haggai was written in 520 BCE some 18 years after Cyrus had conquered Babylon and issued a decree in 538 BCE allowing the captive Jews to return to Judea. Cyrus saw the restoration of the temple as necessary for the restoration of the religious practices and a sense of peoplehood after a long exile. Haggai's message is filled with an urgency for the people to proceed with the rebuilding of the second Jerusalem temple.
Haggai attributes a recent drought to the people's refusal to rebuild the temple, which he sees as key to Jerusalem’s glory. The book ends with the prediction of the downfall of kingdoms, with one Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, as the Lord’s chosen leader; the language here is not as finely wrought as in some other books of the minor prophets, yet the intent seems straightforward. The first chapter contains its effects; the second chapter contains: The second prophecy, delivered a month after the first The third prophecy, delivered two months and three days after the second. Haggai reports that three weeks after his first prophecy, the rebuilding of the Temple began on September 7 521 BCE. "They came and began to work on the house of the LORD Almighty, their God, on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month in the second year of Darius the King. and the Book of Ezra indicates that it was finished on February 25 516 BCE "The Temple was completed on the third day of the month Adar, in the sixth year of the reign of King Darius."
Divine Announcement: The Command to Rebuild the Temple Introduction: Reluctant Rebuilders Consider your ways: fruitless prosperity Promise and Progress Divine Announcement: The Coming Glory of the Temple God will fulfill his promise Future Splendor of the temple Divine Announcement: Blessings for a Defiled People Former Misery Future Blessing Divine Announcement: Zerubbabel Chosen as a Signet Jewish translations: Chaggai – Haggai translation with Rashi's commentary at Chabad.org Christian translations: Online Bible at GospelHall.org Haggai public domain audiobook at LibriVox Various versions
Books of Kings
The two Books of Kings a single book, are the eleventh and twelfth books of the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament. They conclude the Deuteronomistic history, a history of Israel comprising the books of Joshua and Judges and the two Books of Samuel, which biblical commentators believe was written to provide a theological explanation for the destruction of the Kingdom of Judah by Babylon in c. 586 BCE and a foundation for a return from exile. The two books of Kings present a history of ancient Israel and Judah from the death of King David to the release of Jehoiachin from imprisonment in Babylon, a period of some 400 years. Scholars tend to treat the books as made up of a first edition from the late 7th century BCE and a second and final edition from the mid 6th century BCE; the Jerusalem Bible divides the two books of Kings into eight sections: 1 Kings 1:1–2:46 = The Davidic Succession 1 Kings 3:1–11:43 = Solomon in all his glory 1 Kings 12:1–13:34 = The political and religious schism 1 Kings 14:1–16:34 = The two kingdoms until Elijah 1 Kings 17:1 – 2 Kings 1:18 = The Elijah cycle 2 Kings 2:1–13:25 = The Elisha cycle 2 Kings 14:1–17:41 = The two kingdoms to the fall of Samaria 2 Kings 18:1–25:30 = The last years of the kingdom of JudahIn David's old age, Adonijah proclaims himself his successor but Solomon's supporters arrange for David to proclaim Solomon as his successor, so he comes to the throne after David's death.
At the beginning of his reign he assumes God's promises to David and brings splendour to Israel and peace and prosperity to his people. The centrepiece of Solomon's reign is the building of the First Temple: the claim that this took place 480 years after the Exodus from Egypt marks it as a key event in Israel's history. At the end, however, he oppresses Israel; as a consequence of Solomon's failure to stamp out the worship of gods other than Yahweh, the kingdom of David is split in two in the reign of his own son Rehoboam, who becomes the first to reign over the kingdom of Judah. The kings who follow Rehoboam in Jerusalem continue the royal line of David. At length God brings the Assyrians to destroy the northern kingdom, leaving Judah as the sole custodian of the promise. Hezekiah, the 14th king of Judah, does "what right in the Lord’s sight just as his ancestor David had done" and institutes a far reaching religious reform, centralising sacrifice at the temple at Jerusalem and destroying the images of other gods.
Yahweh saves the kingdom from an invasion by Assyria. But Manasseh, the next king, reverses the reforms, God announces that he will destroy Jerusalem because of this apostasy by the king. Manasseh's righteous grandson Josiah reinstitutes the reforms of Hezekiah, but it is too late: God, speaking through the prophetess Huldah, affirms that Jerusalem is to be destroyed after the death of Josiah. In the final chapters, God brings the Neo-Babylonian Empire of King Nebuchadnezzar against Jerusalem; the final verses record how Jehoiachin, the last king, is set free and given honour by the king of Babylon. In the Hebrew Bible and Second Kings are a single book, as are the First and Second Books of Samuel; when this was translated into Greek in the last few centuries BCE, Kings was joined with Samuel in a four-part work called the Book of Kingdoms. Orthodox Christians continue to use the Greek translation, but when a Latin translation was made for the Western church, Kingdoms was first retitled the Book of Kings, parts One to Four, both Kings and Samuel were separated into two books each.
What it is now known as 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel are called by the Vulgate, in imitation of the Septuagint, 1 Kings and 2 Kings respectively. What it is now known as 1 Kings and 2 Kings would be 3 Kings and 4 Kings in old Bibles before the year 1516 such as the Vulgate and the Septuagint respectively; the division we know today, used by Protestant Bibles and adopted by Catholics, came into use in 1517. Some Bibles still preserve the old denomination, for the Douay Rheims Bible. According to Jewish tradition the author of Kings was Jeremiah, who would have been alive during the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BCE; the most common view today accepts Martin Noth's thesis that Kings concludes a unified series of books which reflect the language and theology of the Book of Deuteronomy, which biblical scholars therefore call the Deuteronomistic history. Noth argued that the History was the work of a single individual living in the 6th century BCE, but scholars today tend to treat it as made up of at least two layers, a first edition from the time of Josiah, promoting Josiah's religious reforms and the need for repentance, a second and final edition from the mid 6th century BCE.
Further levels of editing have been proposed, including: a late 8th century BCE edition pointing to Hezekiah of Judah as the model for kingship. The editors/authors of the Deuteronomistic history cite a number of sources, including a "Book of the Acts of Solomon" and the "Annals of the Kings of Judah" and a separate book, "Chronicles of the Kings of Israel"; the "Deuteronomic" perspective is e
Book of Proverbs
The Book of Proverbs is the second book of the third section of the Hebrew Bible and a book of the Christian Old Testament. When translated into Greek and Latin, the title took on different forms: in the Greek Septuagint it became Παροιμίαι Paroimiai. Proverbs is not an anthology but a "collection of collections" relating to a pattern of life which lasted for more than a millennium, it is an example of the Biblical wisdom tradition, raises questions of values, moral behaviour, the meaning of human life, right conduct. The repeated theme is that "the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom." Wisdom is praised for her role in creation. The superscriptions divide the collections as follows: Proverbs 1–9: "Proverbs of Solomon, Son of David, King of Israel" Proverbs 10–22:16: "Proverbs of Solomon" Proverbs 22:17–24:22: "The Sayings of the Wise" Proverbs 24:23–34: "These Also are Sayings of the Wise" Proverbs 25–29: "These are Other Proverbs of Solomon that the Officials of King Hezekiah of Judah Copied" Proverbs 30: "The Words of Agur" Proverbs 31:1–9: "The Words of King Lemuel of Massa, Which his Mother Taught Him" Proverbs 31:10–31: the ideal wise woman.
"Proverbs" translates to the Hebrew word mashal, but "mashal" has a wider range of meaning than the short catchy sayings implied by the English word. Thus, while half the book is made up of "sayings" of this type, the other half is made up of longer poetic units of various types; these include "instructions" formulated as advice from a teacher or parent addressed to a student or child, dramatic personifications of both Wisdom and Folly, the "words of the wise" sayings, longer than the Solomonic "sayings" but shorter and more diverse than the "instructions". The first section consists of an initial invitation to young men to take up the course of wisdom, ten "instructions", five poems on personified Woman Wisdom. Proverbs 10:1–22:16, with 375 sayings, consists of two parts, the first contrasting the wise man and the fool, the second addressing wise and foolish speech. Chapters 25–29, attributed to editorial activity of "the men of Hezekiah," contrasts the just and the wicked and broaches the topic of rich and poor.
Chapter 30:1–4, the "sayings of Agur", introduces creation, divine power, human ignorance. It is impossible to offer precise dates for the sayings in Proverbs, a "collection of collections" relating to a pattern of life which lasted for more than a millennium; the phrase conventionally used for the title is taken from chapter 1:1, mishley shelomoh, Proverbs of Solomon, is more concerned with labeling the material than ascribing authorship. The book is an anthology made up of six discrete units; the first, chapters 1–9, was the last to be composed, in the Persian or Hellenistic periods. This section has parallels to prior cuneiform writings; the second, chapters 10–22:16, carries the superscription "the proverbs of Solomon", which may have encouraged its inclusion in the Hebrew canon. The third unit is headed "bend your ear and hear the words of the wise": a large part of it is a recasting of a second-millennium BCE Egyptian work, the Instruction of Amenemope, may have reached the Hebrew author through an Aramaic translation.
Chapter 24:23 begins a new section and source with the declaration, "these too are from the wise." The next section at chapter 25:1 has a superscription to the effect that the following proverbs were transcribed "by the men of Hezekiah", indicating at face value that they were collected in the reign of Hezekiah in the late 8th century BCE. Chapters 30 and 31 are a set of appendices, quite different in style and emphasis from the previous chapters; the "wisdom" genre was widespread throughout the ancient Near East, reading Proverbs alongside the examples recovered from Egypt and Mesopotamia reveals the common ground shared by international wisdom. The wisdom literature of Israel may have been developed in the family, the royal court, houses of learning and instruction. Along with the other examples of the Biblical wisdom tradition – Job and Ecclesiastes and some other writings – Proverbs raises questions of values, moral behavior, the meaning of human life, righteous conduct; the three retain an ongoing relevance for both religious and secular readers and Ecclesiastes through the boldness of their dissent from received tradition, Proverbs in its worldliness and satiric shrewdness.
Wisdom is as close. Proverbs was excluded from the Bible because of its contradictions; the reader is told, for example, both to "not answer a fool according to his folly", according to 26:4, to "answer a fool according to his folly", as 26:5 advises. More pervasively, the recurring theme of the initial unit is that t