INTRODUCTION TO PROVERBS
This book is called, in some printed Hebrew copies, "Sepher Mishle", the Book of Proverbs; the title of it in the Vulgate Latin version is,
"the Book of Proverbs, which the Hebrews call "Misle":'
in the Septuagint version it has the name of the writer, the Proverbs of Solomon; and so in the Syriac version, with the addition of his titles,
"the son of David, king of Israel.'
This and Ecclesiastes are both of them by the JewsF1Gloss. in T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 14. 2. called Books of Wisdom: and it is common with the ancient Christian writersF2Euseb. Eccl. Hist. l. 4. c. 22. 26. to call the book of Proverbs by the names of "Wisdom" and "Panaretos"; names they give also to the apocryphal books of Ecclesiasticus and the Wisdom of Solomon; and therefore this is to be carefully distinguished from them. The author of this book was King Solomon, as the "first" verse, which contains the inscription of it, shows; for he was not a collector of these proverbs, as Grotius is of opinion, but the author of them, at least of the far greater part; and not only the author, but the writer of them: the JewsF3T. Bab. Ibid. fol. 15. 1. say that Hezekiah and this men wrote them; it is true indeed the men of Hezekiah copied some, Proverbs 25:1; but even those were written by Solomon. R. GedaliahF4Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 55. 1. would have it that Isaiah the prophet wrote this book; but without any foundation. At what time it was written is not certain; the Jewish writers generally sayF5Seder Olam Rabba, c. 15. p. 41. it was written by Solomon, as were the books of Ecclesiastes and the Song of Songs, in his old age, when near the time of his death; though some think it was written before his fall: and it may be it was not written all at once, but at certain times, when these proverbs occurred unto him and were spoken by him, and as occasion served: however, it is not to he doubted but that they were written under the inspiration of God. The Jews once thought to have made this book of Proverbs an apocryphal one, because of some seeming contradictions in it; but finding that these were capable of a reconciliation, changed their minds, as became themF6T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 30. 2. . Among Christians, Theodore of Mopsuest, in the sixth century, denied the divine authority of this book, and attributed it merely to human wisdom; which opinion of his was condemned in the second council at Constantinople: and in later times it has been treated with contempt by the Socinians, and particularly by Father Simon and Le Clerc; but the authority of it is confirmed by the writers of the New Testament, who have cited passages out of it; see Romans 12:20 from Proverbs 25:21. The book consists of "five" parts; "first", a preface or introduction, which takes up the first "nine" chapters; the "second", the proverbs of Solomon, put together by himself, beginning at the tenth chapter to the twenty-fifth; the "third", the proverbs of Solomon, copied by the men of Hezekiah, beginning at the twenty-fifth chapter to the thirtieth; the "fourth", the words of Agur, the thirtieth chapter, the "fifth", the instruction of Solomon's mother, Bathsheba, the thirty-first chapter.