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Thread: Why is wisdom personified as a woman?

  1. #1

    Why is wisdom personified as a woman?

    Pro 4:8 Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honor, when thou dost embrace her.
    Pro 4:9 She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee.

    ...and many other examples.

    Men and women have different and complementary characteristics. Is there a characterstic about wisdom that is distinctly feminine?
    Kevin
    Independent Bible Church
    Uncasville, CT
    1689 LBCF

  2. #2
    חָכְמָה (wisdom) is a feminine word in Hebrew, making a woman a more natural choice linguistically for personification.
    Don, missionary candidate
    Baptist
    California

    [COLOR="navy"]And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and[/COLOR] [COLOR="red"]by your blood[/COLOR] [COLOR="navy"]you ransomed people for God from [B]every tribe and language and people and nation[/B], and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth."[/COLOR] - Revelation 5:9-10 (ESV)

  3. #3
    When it says call wisdom your wife and knowledge your kinswoman is that the same reason, Don? Your answer above is interesting.
    Tim Vaughan
    Member, Redeemer Presbyterian, OPC,
    Santa Maria
    California

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by elnwood View Post
    חָכְמָה (wisdom) is a feminine word in Hebrew, making a woman a more natural choice linguistically for personification.
    Don,
    I'm no Hebrew scholar, are you saying that the translators inserted "she" or "her" to be consistent with the Hebrew word for wisdom?. But then my question becomes "Why is חָכְמָה (wisdom) a feminine word?"
    Kevin
    Independent Bible Church
    Uncasville, CT
    1689 LBCF

  5. #5
    Why is wisdom personified as a woman? You mean, there's another possibility???
    J.L.



  6. #6
    Why is the Hebrew for "breast" (i.e. teat) masculine? (cf. Job.3:12, Ps.22:9, etc.)

    Such are not questions that admit of a theologically determinate answer.

    The writer of Proverbs traded on the assigned "gender" of the word, which allows him to set "Lady Wisdom" over against "Dame Folly."
    Rev. Bruce G. Buchanan
    ChainOLakes Presbyterian Church, CentralLake, MI

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  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by he beholds View Post
    Why is wisdom personified as a woman? You mean, there's another possibility???


    I sense some facetiousness in that answer!

    ---------- Post added at 05:43 PM ---------- Previous post was at 05:39 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Contra_Mundum View Post
    Why is the Hebrew for "breast" (i.e. teat) masculine? (cf. Job.3:12, etc.)

    Such are not questions that admit of a theologically determinate answer.

    The writer of Proverbs traded on the assigned "gender" of the word, which allows him to set "Lady Wisdom" over against "Dame Folly."
    That's fair. I was wondering if the fact that Proverbs was addressed to young men, it was implying to seek after wisdom as a young man would seek a young woman.
    Kevin
    Independent Bible Church
    Uncasville, CT
    1689 LBCF
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  8. #8
    Wisdom is presented as a companion to a wise man. Tim mentioned Prov. 7:4: "Say unto wisdom, Thou [art] my sister; and call understanding [thy] kinswoman." Keeping company with wisdom is also presented in contrast with keeping company with the "strange woman" numerous times in Proverbs.

    Given that most of the statements in Proverbs about the righteous/unrighteous life are given with men for examples, e.g. the fool vs. the wise man, and with "my son" as the recipient, it makes sense that the companion of the wise man should be a woman.

    Or at least that's what comes to mind.
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  9. #9
    Join Date
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    Both wisdom and folly are presented as women because they are two opposite enticements to a man. There's some imagery and imagination going on here. We're to think of wisdom and folly as lures to our souls the way a good woman and an evil one might both be enticing a man. That's all.
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  10. #10
    The fact that you had to even ask the question demonstrates that you are a man.


    Village Church of Rosena Ranch

    Transformation Ministries

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  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Stargazer65 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by elnwood View Post
    חָכְמָה (wisdom) is a feminine word in Hebrew, making a woman a more natural choice linguistically for personification.
    Don,
    I'm no Hebrew scholar, are you saying that the translators inserted "she" or "her" to be consistent with the Hebrew word for wisdom?. But then my question becomes "Why is חָכְמָה (wisdom) a feminine word?"
    Hebrew verbs in the third person match in gender with the subject, and possessive markers also match with gender. I'm not saying that's the only reason wisdom is a lady, but linguistically, it would be very difficult to personify wisdom as a man in the Hebrew language.

    And, as Bruce pointed out, often there's no real rhyme or reason for gender assignments. Spirit is feminine in Hebrew and neuter in the Greek. I think gender varies even across Romance languages.
    Don, missionary candidate
    Baptist
    California

    [COLOR="navy"]And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and[/COLOR] [COLOR="red"]by your blood[/COLOR] [COLOR="navy"]you ransomed people for God from [B]every tribe and language and people and nation[/B], and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth."[/COLOR] - Revelation 5:9-10 (ESV)

  12. #12
    Join Date
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    3,060
    Quote Originally Posted by he beholds View Post
    Why is wisdom personified as a woman? You mean, there's another possibility???
    and consider, that it isn't only the Hebrew language that assigns a feminine gender to Wisdom.
    Sapientia......Sophia.....sagesse, to name but three. I might be suggesting a certain other gender eat its heart out, if I weren't altogether too wise
    JennyG
    Member, Free Church of Scotland
    Scotland
    1 member(s) found this post helpful.

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