Why is wisdom personified as a woman?

Discussion in 'OT Wisdom Literature' started by Stargazer65, Sep 20, 2011.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Stargazer65

    Stargazer65 Puritan Board Freshman

    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?
  2. elnwood

    elnwood Puritan Board Junior

    חָכְמָה (wisdom) is a feminine word in Hebrew, making a woman a more natural choice linguistically for personification.
  3. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    When it says call wisdom your wife and knowledge your kinswoman is that the same reason, Don? Your answer above is interesting.
  4. Stargazer65

    Stargazer65 Puritan Board Freshman

    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?"
  5. he beholds

    he beholds Puritan Board Doctor

    Why is wisdom personified as a woman? You mean, there's another possibility???
  6. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    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."
  7. Stargazer65

    Stargazer65 Puritan Board Freshman


    I sense some facetiousness in that answer!

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

    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.
  8. au5t1n

    au5t1n Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    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.
  9. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    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.
  10. KMK

    KMK Moderator Staff Member

    The fact that you had to even ask the question demonstrates that you are a man.
  11. elnwood

    elnwood Puritan Board Junior

    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.
  12. JennyG

    JennyG Puritan Board Graduate

    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 :D
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page