The Book of Proverbs (Hebrew: מִשְלֵי, Míshlê (Shlomoh), “Proverbs (of Solomon)”) is a book in the third section of the Hebrew Bible and a book of the Christian Old Testament. Proverbs is an example of the Biblical wisdom tradition, and raises questions of values, moral behavior, the meaning of human life, and right conduct
The Wisdom Collections
Proverbs 22:17–24:22: “The Sayings of the Wise”
Proverbs 24:23–34: “These Also are Sayings of the Wise”
Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
Lest you also be like him.
— Proverbs 26:4
The precise dates for the sayings in Proverbs, a “collection of collections” are unknown.
The book is an anthology made up of six discrete units.
The first unit, chapters 1–9, was probably the last to be composed, in the Persian or Hellenistic periods with parallels to prior cuneiform writings.
The second unit, chapters 10–22:16, carries the superscription “the proverbs of Solomon”, which may have encouraged its inclusion in the Hebrew canon.
The third unit, 22:17–24:22, is headlined “bend your ear and hear the words of the wise”: a large part of it is a re-casting of a second-millennium BCE Egyptian work, the Instruction of Amenemope, and may have reached the Hebrew author or authors through an Aramaic translation. The third contains ‘the words of the wise’.
The fourth unit, Chapter 24:23-34 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 (the “words of Agur,” the “words of Lemuel,” and the description of the ideal woman) are a set of appendices, quite different in style and emphasis from the previous chapters. The second is a subject to argument whether it is meant (as descriptive or prescriptive) as a celebration for the everyday moments of valor for everyday women, or a sexist job description for the ideal woman.
The third section is called Ketuvim.