Proverbs, Book of

a collection of moral and philosophical maxims of a wide range
of subjects presented in a poetic form. This book sets forth the
"philosophy of practical life. It is the sign to us that the
Bible does not despise common sense and discretion. It impresses
upon us in the most forcible manner the value of intelligence
and prudence and of a good education. The whole strength of the
Hebrew language and of the sacred authority of the book is
thrown upon these homely truths. It deals, too, in that refined,
discriminating, careful view of the finer shades of human
character so often overlooked by theologians, but so necessary
to any true estimate of human life" (Stanley's Jewish Church).

As to the origin of this book, "it is probable that Solomon
gathered and recast many proverbs which sprang from human
experience in preceeding ages and were floating past him on the
tide of time, and that he also elaborated many new ones from the
material of his own experience. Towards the close of the book,
indeed, are preserved some of Solomon's own sayings that seem to
have fallen from his lips in later life and been gathered by
other hands' (Arnot's Laws from Heaven, etc.)

This book is usually divided into three parts: (1.) Consisting
of ch. 1-9, which contain an exhibition of wisdom as the highest
good.

(2.) Consisting of ch. 10-24.

(3.) Containing proverbs of Solomon "which the men of
Hezekiah, the king of Judah, collected" (ch. 25-29).

These are followed by two supplements, (1) "The words of Agur"
(ch. 30); and (2) "The words of king Lemuel" (ch. 31).

Solomon is said to have written three thousand proverbs, and
those contained in this book may be a selection from these (1
Kings 4:32). In the New Testament there are thirty-five direct
quotations from this book or allusions to it.