Hypostasis, Proverbs Eight, and Wisdom Part Four

4      Proverbs 8 and Wisdom

Jehovah possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old.  I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, before the earth was.  When there were no depths, I was brought forth, when there were no fountains abounding with water.  Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth; while as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the beginning of the dust of the world.  When he established the heavens, I was there: When he set a circle upon the face of the deep, when he made firm the skies above, when the fountains of the deep became strong, when he gave to the sea its bound, that the waters should not transgress his commandment, when he marked out the foundations of the earth; then I was by him, as a master workman; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him,  rejoicing in his habitable earth;and my delight was with the sons of men. Proverbs 8:22-31

There are several reasons to understand Proverbs 8:22-31 (specifically) as an example of hypostasis and not a mere personification.  First of all, Wisdom, an attribute of God, speaks to mankind in ways which are reminiscent of divine speech in other ANE texts.  Secondly, Wisdom claims to have been with God during the creation of the world and perhaps to have shared in the act of creation itself.[127] Thirdly, many interpreters of the Second Temple period understood Wisdom as a hypostasis of God, which helped in the creation of the world.  (In the Wisdom of Solomon, Wisdom is portrayed as sitting next to God’s on his throne.)

Wisdom is an attribute of God which is discussed at great length in the Bible.  Of the passages in which Wisdom is used in relation to God, some would seem to suggest that the particular author imagined this attribute to be something that was more than a term describing God.  The author(s) ascribed Wisdom a quasi-independent existence.  She also had a claim to having participated in the creation.  It also claimed to be in close relation to God.  When others describe it (Job 28),[128] it is suggested to be something that is unsearchable.  Only God himself knows where to find it (Job 28:23).  In short, Wisdom, like other attributes of God, such as Glory, Name, and others, is portrayed in ways that make the modern as well as the ancient interpreter ponder: could this in fact be a deliberate attempt on the author’s part to convey a deeper meaning?  Is the author hoping to communicate to his reader that underlying the idea of monotheism existed the reality of hypostasis?

4.1 The Identity of Wisdom

That Wisdom, an abstract idea, is speaking in chapters one and nine, is not surprising.  The poet often employed such language to strengthen his teaching as demonstrated above.  However, chapter 8 goes beyond the other two chapters (Prov. 1,9) in which Wisdom speaks.  In chapter 8, Wisdom makes the claim of divinity, not just to follow her teaching, observable by the precise language which she employs.[129] Wisdom does more than call men to righteous living (Prov. 1:22); her use of “I” parallels divine speech found in other ancient texts such as the Self Praise of Iëtar in which Iëtar, uses “I” thirteen times.[130] “I, Iëtar, am the queen of heaven and(?) earth.  I am the queen,…”[131] Prov. 8:14 emphasizes the preferences of wisdom in words reminding one of Isa. 11:2 in which the same attributes (wisdom, understanding, advice, power) are ascribed to the Messianic King,[132] and in Job 12:15 the same qualities are ascribed to God himself.

Furthermore, her speech is no longer isolated to the issue of proper living.  The focus has become politics and world rank, Lang suggests.  “…the king is someone who depends on Wisdom and her favors…  Wisdom takes on a much greater role than that of a teacher… she is also a goddess who judges the rulers and dwells in the presence of the creator god.”[133] Wisdom is no longer a standard which men ought to live up to.  Rather, it is something which speaks about itself in very uncompromising terms.[134]  (to me is strength\power) is language suggesting that Wisdom is much more than just an attribute of God.

Wisdom’s speech is parallel to that of divinities in neighboring cultures.  “The Words of AÊiqar,” a non-Jewish Aramaic text discovered in a Jewish settlement in Egypt (5th century BC)[135] describes how Wisdom came from the gods and has an eternal kingdom.  The actual poem seems to have been written between the 7th and 6th centuries BC.

From heaven the peoples are favored;

Wisdom is of the gods.

Indeed, she is precious to the gods;

Her kingdom is et[er]nal.

She has been established by Shamayn;

Yea, the Holy Lord has exalted her.[136]

This text demonstrates how Wisdom was thought to be an entity of divine stature.  Furthermore, she is described as having been established and not procreated, which is one of the debates surrounding Proverbs 8.  Thus, when approaching the Israelite poem in Proverbs 8, one should be keep in mind that Wisdom in other places was thought of as an independent entity.

The true difficulty of the text lies in verses 21-31 – the crux of our study.  In this section, Wisdom describes her ancient past thereby creating a resonance of cosmological motifs.  In describing what was not,[137] Wisdom tells of the time before creation – the antecedent to time as it were, which has caused some such as Ringgren (1947), to interpret the passage with the understanding that Wisdom is a hypostasis.  Others such as Lang (1986) have interpreted Wisdom as an ancient goddess.  Various other suggestions have been made for the passage.  Meinhold[138] understood the poem as principally a literary device to encourage students dealing with temptation especially in sexual matters.[139] The views of G. von Rad and V. A. Hurowitz will be discussed in detail below.

4.1.1     Different Views of Wisdom

  • G. von Rad

G. von Rad understands Proverbs 8 as a passage in which a personified primal order celebrates its relation to man and God.  He suggests that “the world is not dumb… it has a message…[it] proclaims itself before God…”[140] He indicates that it shares all of the characteristics of the divine.  He confirms that “in vv. 22-29 the style of a specific Egyptian divine proclamation has clearly been borrowed and that in vv. 30f the Egyptian idea of a deity caressing personified truth (Ma’at)[141] has somehow, though not without internal modifications, found its way into our didactic poem.”[142] His observation regarding the internal modifications would seem correct.  That is perhaps without question.  Any text that is imported into the Bible was likely to undergo at least some changes.  It should also be conceded that Ma’at is not the most comprehensive explication of Wisdom, in spite of the similarities.[143] However, his solution to the pressing question of “an ‘I’, who is certainly not Yahweh, but nevertheless summons men to itself,” is perhaps less convincing.  He claims that “it has no divine status, nor is it a hypostatized attribute of Yahweh…”[144]

Von Rad’s conclusion regarding its identity is precisely that it is a non-entity.  “Whether we render it as ‘primeval order’ or ‘world reason’ or as the ‘meaning’ created in the world by God or as the ‘glory’ reflected back from the world, in every case it is spoken of in the form of a graphic personification.”[145] In other words, the primordial world is being personified in this poem, vis ´ vis Egyptian ideas, as a purely didactic poem.  Wisdom is an abstract notion quite separate from the idea of Ma’at (as a notion and goddess) and from Lang’s position (it is the remnant of an ancient mythological past).  Thus, he concludes that Wisdom is the world personified for the sake of pedagogy.

The fact that Proverbs 8 appears in a collection of didactic works indicates that it was used as a teaching tool.  However, that does not negate the possibility, in my opinion, that the poem may have been used prima facie for teaching yet have been written with hypostasis in mind.  In light of the evidence presented so far, I would argue that it is not only possible but also likely.  Taking into consideration the long and widespread history of hypostasis in ancient Mesopotamia and Israel, the hypostatization of the divine qualities is almost to be expected.  Just like in the realm of law where ‘precedence’ reigns, so too, therefore, the hypostases in biblical and extra-biblical texts greatly add to the likeliness that hypostasis can also be found in Proverbs 8.

  • V. A. Hurowitz

The most recent conjecture concerning the interpretation of the passage is offered by V. A. Hurowitz.[146] In his article he makes the claim that nursling is the only contextually valid meaning of   He concedes, however, that there may have been secondary meanings and wordplays, though the possibilities are only slight in his opinion.  He cites many other scholars’ work on this passage and their conclusions.  The thrust of his claim is that “when confronting a polyvalent word the ultimate task is to determine which single meaning best suits that context in which it appears.”[147] While this makes good sense and his proposal is well supported, his claim that all other suggestions are without substance and contrived[148] is rather strong.  It should be conceded that the specific context of the passage is what has kept equally good scholars from assessing its ultimate meaning.

Hurowitz also claims that because of the employment of ‘birth’ verbs, , one of the dubious lexemes,must be understood as create.  He makes this claim based on the context of the passage.  His assessment is logical and well founded, however, context cannot be established unless the individual words are well understood.  The difficulty with Proverbs 8 is that some of the key words needed for its interpretation are uncertain.  Furthermore, scholarship cannot be sure of when the poem was written.[149] If it were a text with regal names and places, perhaps a definitive answer could be derived.  However, no one really knows exactly where and in what environment the wisdom literature developed.  Therefore, claiming that the context demands such and such is difficult to support.

uu

It is commonly accepted by scholars, however, that Israelite Wisdom literature had significant Egyptian influence.[150] Egypt, then, would be an important contextual background for Proverbs 8 and therefore, any interpretation should examined in light of this.[151] Thus, (to be brought forth) , one of the “birth related verbs” so strongly claimed by Hurowitz as a contextual marker, might be understood with its Egyptian counterpart in mind.[152] In at least one creation text in ancient Egypt, the creator god Amon, emerged from water, which has a semantic correlation to was brought forth).  “Amun, who emerged from the Waters that he might lead mankind…”[153]

Though there may not be any connection between the two texts, the point is that Hurowitz’s claim to have solved the exegetical dilemma based on context does not answer everything.  Admittedly, his attraction to the interpretation of nursling is very possible, but it is not proven beyond the shadow of a doubt simply on a contextual basis.  For we have seen that the Egyptian creator god was thought to have emerged from waters – an idea akin to “to be brought forth”.  And if Egyptian influence played a part in Proverbs 8, then might be a plausible parallel to divine origination.

The meaning of amon I suggest below also fits the parallel of the verse, which is important to show how it really works in the context – contrary to Hurowitz’s dogmatic claims.  Parallelism is one of the main tools used by the Biblical poet.[154] It is an extremely useful tool in scholarly analysis for determining the meaning of uncertain lexemes.  It is also the litmus test for crazy suggestions.  And so, we will test my interpretation against the two words that are in parallel to amon.

The first word in parallel with amon is ~y[ivu[]v.  Various Bible scholars have suggested it to be indicative of only children.  This is not the case, however, in light of its usage in the Bible.  The root appears in nine verses.  One of which is clearly used in relation to a child (Jer. 31:20).  The passage in Isaiah (5:7) refers not to a child but to the men of Israel.  Isaiah suggests that “the men of Judah his pleasant (wy[‘Wv[]v;) plant.”  Which is to say, that God’s delight is found in those men.  The other verses, excluding Proverbs are found in Psalm 119.  There the Torah is described as being the poet’s delight.  There is no indication of children in any of the verses in Psalm 119:24,77,92,143.  The author’s multiple use of the lexeme in Psalm 119 to describe the Torah is actually parallel to Proverbs 8:30-31.  When one considers the synthesis of Wisdom and Torah in the Second Temple Period, the observation is even more striking.

In light of its usage, therefore, we may conclude that ~y[ivu[]v is in perfect parallel with !Ama’ Alc.a hy<h.a,w and the suggested interpretation.  Wisdom as a hypostasis was next to God – hidden/creator, and like the Torah (also a hypostasis in later literature) was God’s delight.  Thus, there is no reason to assume that the word it has any relation to children in this passage.

Likewise, the lexeme tq,x,f;m. (to play, laugh, make merry) substantiates the suggested meaning of amon.  It does not refer exclusively to child’s play any more than ~y[ivu[]v.  In the 37 verses in which it appears, only one (Zech. 8:5) refers to the play of children.  Some refer to Samson playing before the Philistines (Judges 16:25,7), David dancing before the ark (II Sam. 6:5), God laughing at the son’s of men (Ps. 2:4) and more.  Again, there is no hint that this word needs to be understood as that of children’s play, therefore making Wisdom out to be God’s child.  We could claim the opposite based on its usage in Psalms.  God, the deity, laughs at men just like Wisdom, a divine hypostasis laughs before God and with the sons of men.  Thus tq,x,f;m. is also an excellent parallel to the suggested meaning of amon.

In summary, we have seen that the identity of Wisdom was more than simply a personification as Von Rad suggests and is not merely the embodiment of a nursling personified as V. A. Hurowitz suggests.  In light of the divine speech of Wisdom – parallel to that of Iëtar and the parallel to the poem of AÊiqar in which Wisdom is of heavenly origin, postulating Wisdom to be a hypostasis is very plausible.  Searching for the context in which the poem was written is also believed to be insightful and will hopefully shed light on some of the individual lexemes employed thus clarifying Wisdom’s identity.

4.2      In Search of Meaning – Qªnªh

The first term of importance, (qªnªh), is found in 8:22 (AKr>D tyviare ynIn”q’ hw”hy.) “The LORD possessed (?) me in the beginning of his way”.  This word in Standard Biblical Hebrew means to buy or purchase.  Occasionally it means to acquire, and rarely to create.  H. Ringgren gives a review of the various ancient sources regarding this passage.

Most modern scholars render it () by ‘created’ but others deny that the verb can have this meaning and translate it instead as ‘acquired’ or ‘possessed’.  The ancient translations have already understood in two ways.  The one group translating it as “acquired’ or possessed’, is represented by Aquila, Symmachus, Theodotion and the Vulgate (possedit), the other group, preferring the meaning ‘created’ includes the Septuagint, the Peshitta and the Targum ().[155]

In Gen. 14:19, 22  must mean ‘creator’ and in Ps. 139:13 ‘created’ or ‘formed’.  In addition to the sparse examples in the Bible, the word is also found in Ugaritic as one of Athirat’s epithets.  She, as the consort of El, is called the ‘creator (or begetter) of the gods (qny ilm).[156] Thus, there is certainly no denying that could and sometimes should have the meaning “to create.”  A point of debate is found in Exodus 15:16 t’ynIq’ Wz-~[; rbo[]y:-d[; hw”hy> ^M.[; rbo[]y:-d[;.  Should this be translated as the people that you created, or the people that you redeemed?  Ruth 4:4 sheds light on this mystery.  In that passage,  (redeemed)and (got) are juxtaposed thus creating a semantic equivalence.[157] Therefore, YHWH’s actions in Ex. 15:16 would seem to be that of redeeming, or acquiring his people and not referring to the time of their creation at YHWH’s hand.

The question now at hand is whether or not Wisdom literature demands this meaning.  When one considers its usage in Proverbs, the Ugaritic usage would seem to become secondary.  The actual phrase, to acquire wisdom () is used twelve times in the entire corpus of Proverbs.  Converse to the obligatory rendering of as creator and created in Gen. 14:19, 22 and Ps. 139:13 respectively, in every other occurrence in Proverbs it must be rendered as acquire.  Proverbs 4:7 illustrates wonderfully the usage of the word.  In this particular text, the –father, teacher (?) is telling his son or pupil to get wisdom.  He is clearly not telling him to create wisdom.

Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom.  And in all your getting, get understanding. Prov. 4:7 ^n>y”n>qi-lk’b.W hm’k.x’ hnEq. hm’k.x’ tyviare `hn”ybi hnEq.

Consider also the following two texts which are representative of Proverbs.  Notice the parallelism between wisdom ()and understanding () in all three texts.  They are both understood to be something which is acquirable by man; there is no hint of ‘create’ in these texts.

Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth.(Prov. 4:5) Ypi-yrem.aime jTe-la;w> xK;v.Ti-la; hn”ybi hnEq. hm’k.x’ hnEq
How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! Yea, to get understanding is rather to be chosen than silver.  (Prov. 16:16) bAJ-hm; hm’k.x’-hnOq`@s,K’mi rx’b.nI hn”yBi tAnq.W #Wrx’me

Whybray suggests that the actual meaning of Prov. 8:22-31 is less centered on the creative act and rather the idea that “Yahweh’s attribute of wisdom ‘existed’ prior to its expression in his acts of creation.”  He continues by saying, “the meaning ‘possess’ for qªnªh is entirely suitable and is in keeping with the author’s usage in 1:5, 4:5,7.  Yahweh ‘possessed’ wisdom as an attribute or faculty integral to his being from the very first, and ‘in [with, or by] his wisdom founded the earth’ (3:19).  This seems to be the more probable interpretation, even when full allowance is made for the mythological echoes in the poetic imagery of personification.”[158] Thus, the meaning of the word qªnªh does not need to be understood as create.  Though that is a possible definition, the usage of qªnªh, in Proverbs is always to acquire.[159] And so acquire or get will be chosen as the preferable translation of the word rather than create.

4.3      The Riddle of Amon

The second and perhaps more crucial word in question is (amon).  This word has a longer and more complicated history than  (qªnªni) and consequently is where the bulk of our research lies.  The word with the same pointing appears some nineteen times in the Bible.  It appears sixteen times as a proper name,[160] twice it would seem to refer to the Egyptian god Amon and once in Prov. 8 with disputed meaning.  The two proposed meanings for this word are ‘master workman, craftsman’ and ‘little child, ward’.[161] Craftsman has the support of the principal ancient versions, LXX, Vulg., Syr., and Targ., and also a strong exegetical tradition (cf. Wisdom of Solomon, Ben Sira and Baruch).  The latter is interpreted in light of Lamentations 4:5 (~ynImua/h) where the word is pointed differently  (ëureq waw instead of the Êolem waw) and carries the meaning of foster mother or father,[162] i.e. nurse or one who cares for a child.[163] (Cf. BDB in situ.)

Avi Hurvitz[164] has also tackled this challenging word (amon) in search of a definitive answer.  The premise of his work is that there are two ways to understand the word – the meaning of the root and morphological considerations.  He cites the two, already discussed meanings and correctly notes that the two meanings are both attested in the Bible.  He then considers the morphological question of which form fits better.  His conclusion is that the word is of the noun form qatÛl, a form which signifies a type of worker or profession.  He offers several types of examples in favor of this conclusion and ends by stating that in contrast with meanings proposed other than the two primary meanings, the meaning should always be sought from what is currently in the Bible.  Thus, Wisdom was a type of worker, like the ummanu of Akkadian.  His recommendation is well founded and has produced a convincing argument. Nonetheless, considering that amon, in his words is itself of foreign origin, something that is by no means rare in the Bible, a further nuance should be sought.

4.3.1     Egyptian Loanword?

I believe that there may exist another plausible meaning to the word.  This other possibility is one that apparently no biblicist[165] or Egyptologist has explored and therefore, should at least be considered.[166] I believe it to be important since demonstrating that the Egyptian meaning was understood by the Israelite author will strengthen the thesis of hypostasis in Proverbs 8.

Various researchers have suggested that there might in fact be a connection between Ma’at and Wisdom according to O. Keel (1974).  However, there seems to have been no one who has suggested the meaning of the word in relation to the Egyptian language.  There lie several reasons behind my suggestion of amon as an Egyptian loan word.  First, the depiction of Wisdom in Second Temple literature is that she is a being equal to God both in stature and in the role of creator of the world (Wisdom of Solomon, Ben Sira, Baruch).  The parallel between the epithet of Wisdom and the Egyptian god Amon[167] is notable.  The idea of being hidden as a central quality of Wisdom is unmistakably expressed in Job 28 and later in Second Temple sources (as listed above).  ‘Hidden’ is inherent in the word amon in Egyptian.[168] That is, amon does not only refer to the god, but to an actual word, which will be explained below.  Thirdly and perhaps most importantly, interpreting the word as a term found in Egyptian would not require any change in the pointing of the word.  The traditional of pronunciation or vocalization of this word accurately reflects what I take to be its Egyptian original.  And finally, since most scholars agree that Israelite Wisdom literature had strong ties with its Egyptian counterpart common traits and language, perhaps, should be expected.

V. A. Hurowitz has emphasized the need to attend to context here.[169] But attention to context alone is not enough.  I agree with him in this respect but am not convinced that the context of Proverbs 8 in and of itself will unlock the meaning.  Rather, I am persuaded, that in light of the evidence and consensus among scholars, Egyptian influence is the background in which Proverbs 8 was written; understanding this influence will shed light on the terms and motifs incumbent in the passage.  Therefore, we shall now look briefly at examples of Egyptian cosmology.

4.3.1.1    Egyptian and Israelite Wisdom Traditions

Egyptian influence on Israelite Wisdom literature is widely accepted by most scholars.[170] The affinities between Egyptian and Israelite Wisdom literature were first recognized by W.O.E. Osterley in 1929 in his publication of Amenope.[171] The strong Egyptian influence in no way denies the possibility of other sources.  Whybray (1995) notes that there has been emphasis in the modern study of Proverbs to explore other Semitic literature.  Nonetheless, in light of the evidence, the relation between Israel and Egypt remains stronger than that of surrounding nations.

R. J. Randles, in his Ph.D. dissertation, points to many of the artifacts found in Israel during the first temple period.

Egyptian alabaster jars, statuettes, and faience figurines found in Israelite towns attest the high level of trade with Egypt during the 9th and 8th centuries BC.  The Hebrew measures ephah and hin were borrowed from Egypt as their names indicate.  The 8-shekel weight, equivalent to the Egyptian deben, became the standard in Judah in the 8th or 7th century.  The hieratic numerals on these weights confirm this ratio and the use of the deben as the standard.  Further, the appearance of hieratic numerals on ostraca from Samaia, Arad, and Mesad Hashavyahu indicate the growing use of Egyptian numerals in Hebrew writing.[172]

It is important to realize here that these discoveries are dated to a time after Egypt’s empire; her days of cultural dominance were over but intercourse between the cultures continued into the Third Intermediate period (715 BC)[173] contemporary with Hezekiah in Israel, which according to some scholars (Albright, Whybray, Shuback, Scott) was the era in which some of the Proverbs were written.

The cultural contact remained for several reasons, according to Randles – military collaboration being one of them.  “Continuing cultural contacts between Palestine and the Egyptians stemmed from Egypt’s proximity, its participation at Qarqar, and its potential as a permanent ally.  From numerous cowry shells found among Egyptian artifacts in tomb 218 at Lachish, Tufnell has proposed that a colony of Libyan or Nubian soldiers may have settled at that town following the invasion of Shoshenq I.  The contents of tombs 218 and 223 attest a major Egyptian influence at Lachish during the ninth and eighth centuries BC.”[174] Thus, there is now no doubt that there existed political and economic ties between the two countries.  The question now remains, were there Wisdom literature ties also?

Though it is difficult to surmise precisely how much contact there actually was between the two cultures, there is no almost doubt that they influenced one another to some degree.  Shuback notes that the majority of this particular influence was in the direction of Egypt to Israel[175] the opposite direction being also possible.  However, there were Semitic words that made their way into Egyptian texts and were completely normalized into the language.[176] Semitic words were used in almost all textual genres.  Of the 500 texts that were surveyed in Hoch’s 1994 study, an average of 7.1% Semitic words were used.  School texts had the highest ratio (38.8%) of Semitic words followed by religious texts (3.3%) and lastly by Wisdom texts (1.6%).  This proves that even in the realms of Religion and Wisdom literature the Egyptians were using loanwords from their Semite neighbors.  Hoch states:

Religious words are found in hymns, prayers, and in the Book of the Dead.  Some of the songs were part of the official cult (P. Berlin 3035; KRI IV 30,6) and others are personal psalms (O. lit. DeM 1406, H.O. 97).  Almost all deal with Egyptian deities (a prayer to Amun – H.O. 7 3).  It is particularly surprising to find Semitic words in personal prayers (Êa2=ma=–n=ra [no. 311] in Deir el-Bahri graffiti); the foreign words occurring in these texts were presumably fully naturalized loans (and not used as foreign vocabulary).[177]

Hoch’s study is significant in that it shows how foreign words were naturalized into the speech of even the pious Egyptian, who may not have had first hand contact with Semites.  Therefore, when we come to Proverbs 8 we should keep this observation in mind: foreign words in religious texts is a phenomenon shared by both Israel and Egypt and they were employed in personal prayers and psalms.  The cultural and linguistic ties between the two in which a sphere of loanwords[178] was established, affords us with a plausible explanation of the enigmatic word amon in Proverbs 8.  This is instructive in light of Shuback’s study which found that there was a unique relationship between the two cultures in the realm of Wisdom literature – a realm not shared by any other.

…the evidence accumulated in our study is sufficient to show that the Hebrew authors were closely acquainted with at least part of the Egyptian wisdom literature.  Egyptian phrases and words, found in no other wisdom compositions in the ancient Near East, left their imprint on the Biblical wisdom literature…[179]

Furthermore…

The first contacts between Hebrew and Egyptian culture probably took place during the reign of Solomon, who is reported to have established close ties with Egypt…These relations with Egypt were maintained during the reign of Hezekiah, to whose circle the compilation of the Proverbs of Solomon is ascribed (Prov. 25:1).[180]

Thus, Egyptian influence on the Israelite school of wisdom can hardly be doubted.  Moreover, the Egyptian influence outweighs the rest of the ANE in the realm of wisdom literature.[181] And since Wisdom appears in the text as having been with God in the beginning, it stands to reason that the creation typology[182] has also been influenced.[183]

Wisdom says I was brought forth ( – Proverbs 8:24, 25) and then later amon next to God.  The emerging of the god Amon from the Nun is very similar in thought to (to be brought forth or to be born).  It would seem that our author was employing a pun[184] – that is, , (Prov. 8:30) means not only was Wisdom ‘amon’ in its biblical sense, (nursling,[185] Master Craftsman – worker[186]) but that she was ‘amon’ in the Egyptian sense.  Wisdom as amon – (was brought forth) as a hypostasis and was amon (with the Egyptian meaning) hidden and creator.

Cosmology has a close affinity to Wisdom literature as noted by various Bible Scholars.[187] Therefore, understanding what occurred in Egyptian and Biblical creation accounts helps to clarify the cosmological motifs found in the Wisdom literature of Proverbs 8.  The Egyptian writer, like that of Proverbs 8 understood there to have been a definite prelude to creation, an idea not elaborated in the Genesis account.  Likewise, several of the creator gods, who are claimed to be the first of the gods, were regarded as having emerged from the Nun[188].  This idea is similar to the word  in Proverbs.  With this understanding of Egyptian cosmology and its similarities the to Proverbs creation account, perhaps the question may now be asked: Could , in Proverbs 8:30have been an Egyptian loan word?  A word understood and used by an Israelite writer – in the kings’ courts which were heavily influenced by Egypt[189] – as a word that conveyed a double entendre.  That is, could amon be understood prima facie as nursling or master craftsman\worker, and have a secondary connotation of hidden and or creator, as in Egyptian?  Or might it simply have only the second option contrary to V. A. Hurowitz’s conclusion?  There are close affinities in transliteration, sonority and meaning between the Egyptian word ’imn and the ‘hiddenness’ of Wisdom in Job 28,[190] (which is the only other place in the Bible where Wisdom is described in personified – (hypostatic?) terms).  N. Shupak’s study found a conclusion which greatly supports the findings of this study – that is, Egyptian wisdom literature left its mark on Israel and can be seen in the Wisdom tradition in the Bible.[191]

4.3.1.2     Amon: Hidden and Concealed

Having concluded that there exist strong ties between Egypt and Israel that allow for the possibility that amon was a loan word, let us now look at Job 28:20-21.  In this text Wisdom is said to be hidden and unsearchable.  No one, not even death and  know where it is to be found.  It is completely concealed.

From where then does wisdom come?…It is hiddenfrom the eyes of all living,And concealed from the birds of the air.

(emphasis mine)

…aAbT’ !yIa;me hm’k.x’h;w>@A[meW yx’-lk’ ynEy[eme hm’l.[,n<w>`hr’T’s.nI ~yIm;V’h;

Compare Job 28 with a passage describing Amon, the great-hidden god.  Notice and keep in mind that in Job 28 (one of the central passages of Wisdom), wisdom is unsearchable, concealed and hidden from man, and death.  Thus, the epithet of hidden – concealed is one of the keystone qualities of Wisdom.  And in the Egyptian text, the god Amon, is likewise described in such terms.  His principal epithet is the hidden one – ‘amon’ in Egyptian means hidden, concealed.  The point must be made before continuing: the amon of Proverbs 8 is not thought to be the Egyptian god Amon.  Rather, I am suggesting that amon in Proverbs is synonymous with the meaning of Amon’s name (hidden, concealed).

One is Amun, who keeps himself concealed from them

Who hides himself form the gods, no one knowing his nature

He is more remote than heaven

He is deeper than the underworld.

None of the gods knows his true form

His image is not unfolded in books

Nothing certain is testified about him.

He is too secretive for his majesty to be revealed

He is too great to be inquired after

Too powerful to be known.

(Zandee, Hymnen, 75-86; AHG no. 138.[192]

Not only is the meaning of amon similar, (a more detailed discussion will follow), so too is the transliteration to Hebrew or other alphabetic systems of writing (Coptic or Greek).  The Egyptian Hieroglyph is rendered áììïí in Greek and αμουν in Coptic.  True to the ambiguity of pronunciation, Egyptologists transcribe the word both as amun and amon.  The actual pronunciation is thought to be more of an /Ü/ sound which is reflected in transcriptions.  Thus,  is a very good transcription of the Egyptian word into the Bible.[193] We can test the reliability of the transliteration by way of studying other Egyptian words which have been imported into Israelite writings since there are other words with an Egyptian origin which have made their way into the Hebrew Bible.

J Muchiki makes some important observations regarding the use of Egyptian words in NW Semitic languages.  He explains methodology involved when deciding if a lexeme, found in Israelite inscriptions and the Bible, is of Egyptian origin.

1) The word should show proper consonantal correspondences, (2) It must also correspond well to Egyptian in meaning, and the meaning should fit the context of the Semitic text. (3) The possibility of it being a Hamito-Semitic cognate must be carefully examined, because the cognates have often undergone secondary changes e.g. Eg Íb “heart” and Heb.  Akk libbu. (4) The Egyptian word should be attested at least since the Middle Kingdom.  If the word is attested in Egypt since the Old Kingdom, because of the great time span in which the word could be borrowed, it is more likely to be an Egyptian loan word.  (5) If the word is commonly attested in Semitic documents, and has been given a Semitic form, it is more difficult to distinguish a loan word form a cognate.  However, if the word occurs only in the context of Egyptian contact, the possibility of an Egyptian loan is high.[194]

Thus judging from the five precepts (three will not be considered in this discussion due to the magnitude of the researched involved in solving such an issue), we can see that there is a good possibility that amon could indeed be related to Egyptian on linguistic terms.  The word shows a clear consonantal correspondence; it arguably corresponds to the Egyptian meaning; the word is well attested from the Old Kingdom and beyond; and finally, the context in which  is found has an Egyptian background.

The divine name Amon was a word used in everyday speech in Egypt.  The name of the god Amon was used as a verb and an adverb.  As point of reference, we may look at Atum,[195] which was both a name and a regular word analogous to the semantic range of the name “Jacob”[196] in the Bible.  S. Bickel speaking on the name of Atum, notes that “Son nom dérivé du verbe tm qui signifie aussi bien ‘compléter’, ‘achever,’ que ‘ne pas exister’.  Plusieurs essais de traduction ont été proposes:  ‘l’indifferencie’, l’inexistant’, ‘celui qui achève.”[197]

So too, the name Amon is derived from a word which was used in other contexts.  The word amon is found throughout the history of the Egyptian language.  The Pryamid texts provide the earliest evidence of the word in various contexts.   There would seem to be two primary meaning of the word of the root ’imn. The first, according to its usage is secret; secret place (noun), to conceal or hide (verb)  and secret, hidden, (adj.).[198] The other is however, very interesting.  It catches our attention and only increases our suspicion that there was a connection between the Egyptian word amon and the Proverbs’ amon.  The other meaning is to create.  Of these ’imn, –  is divided into two.  The first is: to form, fashion, shape mould, to set up, (‘bilden’); and the less common: ‘to create’, ‘make’, (‘schaffen’).[199]

The following is a Pyramid text thus demonstrating that the word carried the meaning create/creator[200] at a very early stage in the language.

PT 506:1095

…I am Zwnðw, the coffer of the sky; I am the double maker, the spirit of the Kings of Lower Egypt; I am the creator who created[201] this land; I am he who…the Two Lands…

The other meaning, much more common than that of create, is, as noted already, to hide or to be hidden.  In this example it is used in association with a snake.  The important relevance for this study is that it can be utilized in many situations, not only with the god himself.

PT 293:434

Get back, you hidden snake; hide yourself…[202]

There are many examples found outside of the Pyramids.  D. Meeks lists examples of where the word is found.  “‘Durable, permanent’ compare au copte μhνε;…  ‘être caché, se cacher’, Helck, Merikare, 77,78;”  It is also used to indicate the ‘beyond’, “‘la place cachée’ ou ‘la place qui cachée’, comme designation de ‘l’au delà’.”[203] This is an important indicator that the word had usage in non-cultic settings and was used throughout Egypt’s long civilization.

Thus, we have seen that the lexeme amon of Proverbs 8 is very similar to the Egyptian.  First of the all, the consonantal correspondence fits.  It was transliterated into Hebrew as .  Secondly, the meaning of amon “hidden”, “concealed” and “creator” is very plausible in the context of Proverbs 8.  Thirdly, the word amon is attested in the earliest to the latest stages of Egypt’s civilization.  And finally, Proverbs 8 and Israelite Wisdom literature in general had close contact with Egypt.  Therefore, it is very conceivable that the word entered Hebrew via Wisdom literature.  Again, the purpose of this investigation of amon is done since its meaning affects how we ought to view Wisdom in Proverbs.

4.4  Summary and  Conclusions to Wisdom and Amon

The many different opinions concerning the meaning of Proverbs 8 are numerous and diverse.  The exegesis of the passage is obscured by the unclear lexemes.  Scholars of the ages have proposed sometimes radically different interpretations based on both the internal and external evidence of Proverbs 8.  As V. A. Hurowitz (1999) has reminded us, the key to understanding the passage is in the context.  His point is important and well taken.  In the light of what has been demonstrated, however, the milieu in which the passage was written is equally important.  If that can be deduced, then perhaps some of the perplexing words and motifs will become lucid.

In view of the evidence amassed in this thesis, we have deduced that Egypt is in fact one of the important and most likely origins of context.  Vocabulary, motifs and certain maxims were borrowed from the Egyptian Wisdom Tradition and eventually normalized into the Israelite Tradition.  Due to this influence, I therefore believe that the Israelite writer used the Egyptian word amon, which, for him, was pregnant with meaning – hidden, creator (?), and like the god Amon, was brought forth from the waters.[204]

Finding an affinity with the god Amon and Proverbs 8:30 was not my goal.  I don’t think that the author of Proverbs believed amon in Proverbs 8 to actually be the Egyptian god.  Rather, he borrowed the semantic range of the word to more completely describe Wisdom.  He was not synchronizing Wisdom and the god Amon, he was only using the Egyptian word amon, with it all of its meanings (which may or may not have included the notion of emergence -- like that of Amon emerging from the Nun) to explicate Wisdom as a hypostasis of YHWH.

Furthermore, the present author does not pretend to have said the final word on the debate concerning the meaning of amon.  However, the explication given here is believed to be a plausible and likely interpretation in light of the Egyptian background of Proverbs.  The translation of the phrase, “!Ama’ Alc.a hy<h.a,w” could be: “I was next to him – hidden/builder-creator.”  The above translation based on the Egyptian usage of the word amon fits well.  It takes into account the description of Wisdom as hidden in Job 28 (and later in Baruch 3), accords well with the notion of master craftsman from the Akkadian ummanu, and allows room for other nuances[205] found in the Bible according to Avi Hurvitz (1994:647-650).

My conclusion does not try to incorporate the meaning of nursling as its primary meaning.  There is no way to disprove that the author may have also had that in mind, but it would seem to be stretching the possibilities.  Thus, nursling is not accepted by the present author as the primary meaning of amon, especially in light of the fact that the theological crisis seems to have been only felt by a minority of interpreters.[206]

Wisdom during the time of the Second Temple was understood to be cocreator with God and to be hidden[207] from everything but God.  That is, it was understood to be a hypostasis which helped in creation and yet was to some degree hidden from it.  This is precisely the meaning of amon in Egyptian – something hidden and yet also a builder, creator.  By understanding amon thus, the evidence for hypostasis is very strong – Wisdom being next to God was hidden and also creator – thus understood to be an entity with the power to act.

Ancient Israelite Hypostasis Introduction

Hypostases in the Ancient Near East Part One

Hypostasis in Biblical Literature Part Two

Hypostasis in the Second Temple Period Part Three

Hypostasis, Proverbs Eight, and Wisdom Part Four

Ancient Israelite Hypostasis Bibliography Part Five

[127] See below for discussion of Amon.

[128] H. H. Rowley, (1978), p. 184, mentions that Wisdom in Job 28 was regarded as a type of hypostasis for the ancient man.  See also: L. G. Perdue, (1995), p. 244.  Perdue suggests that “the sources for these descriptions of Wisdom are ultimately mythological, for she is personified as a goddess of insight and life in much the fashion of Ma’at or Isis in Egypt.”

[129] Lang, (1986), p. 55.  See also: J. S. Webster, (1998), 63-79.

[130] Ibid.  See also: and L. Bostrom (1990) p. 54.

[131] Foster, (1993), p. 74, “The Self Praise of Iëtar” (Old Babylonian text dated circa 2000 1500 BC).

[132] Ringgren, (1947), pp. 97-98.

[133] Lang, (1986).

[134] Ringgren, (1947), supports this thesis “… the personal form of wisdom is indisputable.  Wisdom is a mistress inviting people to a feast.  It is possible that this feature, too, has a mythological background…”p. 99.

[135] J. H. Charlesworth, (1985), p. 479.

[136]Ibid., p. 499.

[137] See: Bickel (1994) for discussion of non-being.

[138] Mienhold, (1991), pp. 44-45.

[139] R. N. Whybray, (1994a), p. 29.  For more views consult bibliography.

[140] G. von Rad, (1970), p. 162.

[141] “Order (Ma’at) is the Egyptian concept of the arrangement and relationship that underlies and governs all aspects of existence…It extends from the elements of nature (the world of the gods) into the moral and social behavior of mankind.”  J. Allen, (1988), p. 26.

[142] G. von Rad, (1970), p. 153.

[143] Ma’at was thought to be the governing force or deity throughout the world. The individual was important to the cosmic order.  Hence the individual, by keeping Ma’at (V. A. Tobin, (1989) p. 7 personally, acted for the good of the cosmos as a whole.  Interestingly, we are reminded of Wisdom passing along the streets in Prov. 8, calling men to follow her.  She petitions them to seek her and find understanding.  ‘By her kings reign…’ Similarly, by upholding Ma’at long life will be granted.  “According to later texts, Ma’at is as old as creation but does not predate it.  Since creation she has lived among human beings.  Having come to them form the gods, she has been entrusted to them, and the human act of presenting Ma’at returns her to the gods.” (Hornung (1992), p. 135.) Moreover, Wisdom is depicted in Proverbs (3:16) as holding long life in her right hand. (For discussion of holding life in the right hand, see: Ringgren, (1947), p. 147.  This is identical to that of the Egyptian gods who literally hold the Ankh, the symbol of life in their right hand.

[144] Ibid.

[145] Ibid. p. 157.

[146] V. A. Hurowitz, (1999).

[147] Ibid. p. 392.

[148] Ibid. p. 400.

[149] W. F. Albright (1969) p. 13 suggests that the date of Proverbs is probably entirely pre-exilic, “but that much of the Book was handed down orally until the fifth century BC.” He says at or around the time of Solomon is a possible date of origination.

[150] Ibid.

[151] As will be discussed more fully, I am not proposing that Proverbs 8 is derived from Egyptian mythology.  I am, however, suggesting that loanwords and motifs may have been employed and therefore, we should understand how they were used in Egypt.

[152] The idea of brought forth is also found in Enuma Elish “When no gods at all had been brought forth…” Tablet I:7 (Foster, 1993, p. 354).  The difference is that Amon was not thought to have been born, but emerged from the waters as the creator god, having no equal.

[153] J.P. Allen. Genesis in Egypt, Yale, Connecticut, (1988), p. 52

[154] For discussion on the prevalence of Biblical parallelism see: J. L. Kugel, The Idea of Biblical Poetry: Parallelism and its History, Yale, (1981).

[155]H. Rinngren,, (1947), p. 94.

[156]CTA 4.1.23;  4.3.30; 4.4.32;

[157] See: W. H. C. Propp, (1999), p. 539.

[158] R.N. Whybray, (1995), p. 77.

[159] V. A. Hurowitz suggests that if acquired is the proper understanding, then God acquired Wisdom as his maidservant or wife.  V. A. Hurowitz, (1999), p. 394.

[160] “The name Amon is not necessarily to be linked with the name of the Egyptian deity.  If the name were inked to the god Thebes, this fact need not reflect a political tie between Judah and Egypt.  Manasseh had accompanied Assurbanipal to Egypt in 667 BC, thus the name could have been chosen in honor of his suzerain’s victory over Taharqa… The name may have been of Hebrew origin… Solomon and Ahab had close ties with Egypt…” R. J. Randles, The Interaction of Israel, Judah, and Egypt: From Solomon to Josiah, Ann Arbor, (1980), p. 222.

[161] Other suggestions have been made but have not been taken seriously my most scholars.  Scott suggests the reading of (omen) “binding”.  R.B.Y. Scott, “Wisdom in Creation. The ’AMON of VIII 30”, VT 10 (1960), 219.222. De Boer suggests that it be understood as “mother official” or “queen mother”. P.A.H. De Boer, “The Counselor in: Wisdom in Israel and in the Ancient Near East”, VT.S 3, ed. Martin Noth and D. Winton Thomans, (1955), 69-71.  C. L. Rogers offers strong evidence in support of reading  craftsman but suggests that the antecedent is not Wisdom but the Lord.  By switching the syntax of the phrase, Rogers suggests, the author has indicated that it is actually God and not Wisdom who is the Master Builder.  C. L. Rogers III, “The Meaning and Significance of the Hebrew Word  in Proverbs 8:30”, ZAW 109, (1997), 208-220.  A similar suggestion is made by M. Dahood, “Proverbs 8:22-31”, CBQ 30, (1968), 513, 518-519. See also Paul Peter Zerafa, The Wisdom of God in the Book of Job, (1978), 180.

[162] “R.B.Y. Scott in his 1960 article offered a new interpretation of ’amÛn in v. 30.  The word should be not ’amÛn but ’omÂn, which as has been stated can mean foster-father or guardian; but the verb ’ªman can also mean to support or guide.  R. N. Whybray, (1995), p. 77.

[163] “A foster-child; so Rashi and many moderns compare Lam. IV 5.  Others regard it as a form of the word in Cant. Vii. 2, translated skilled workman.”  A. Cohen, Mishlei, (ed.), London, (1946).  See also: O. Keel, Wisdom Plays Before God, (1974).  In this work he examines scenes in which Ma’at, daughter of the sun-god, stands before him and amuses him.

[164] See Hebrew Bibliography.

[165] This would seem to be a completely new idea.  Personal communication with Professor Shirun and Racheli Shlomi indicated that this idea was never suggested.  A review of secondary sources proved the same.

[166] The potential relationship should be explored for several reasons even though a conclusive definition may not be reached.  Thus, further research is deemed necessary for a thorough investigation.

[167] Amon was one of the creator gods and his cult was strong in Israel well into Iron Age II (ca. 1000 to 586) “…it would seem that Amun-Re the Egyptian god who had been in the background and was involved in everything, did not lose importance immediately and probably never lost it completely.  Scarabs with his name or with the cryptogram of his name were still being made in Iron Age II.” (Keel, (1992), p. 134).  And furthermore, “The presence of the ‘angularly stylized’ group of seals, an ongoing use of Amun scarabs, and the presence of the ‘striking god’ in Gezer all show clearly that the cultural influence of Egypt remained considerable during Iron Age IIA, at least along the southern Palestinian coastal plain.”  p. 178.  O. Keel, & C. Uehlinger, Gods, Goddesses, and Images of God in Ancient Israel, Fribourg, (1992).

[168] See: J. Assman, Egyptian Solar Religion in the New Kingdom, (1995), p. 140. (Transcendence and Personification, P. Leiden J 350 IV, 12-21).

[169] V. A. Hurowitz, (1999), p. 392.

[170] Whybray, (1965), p.71. “…no real difference is discernable between the fundamental ideas and aims of the discourses and those of the Egyptian instructions.  Both were composed for use in the same kind of scribal school, an institution which the Israelites had borrowed, together with its curriculum, from the Egyptians.”  See also: chapters 1-2.  For further reading see: G. E. Bryce, A Legacy of Wisdom, London, (1979).  Bryce has collected a great amount of sources for comparison.

[171] R. N. Whybray, (1995), p. 116.

[172] R. J. Randles, (1980), p. 270.

[173] J. E. Hoch, (1994), p. 4.

[174] R. J. Randles, (1980), p. 145.

[175] “Our study has led to the conclusion that where the contact between Biblical and Egyptian wisdom literature is concerned, it was Hebrew that was influenced by Egyptian and not vice versa.”  N. Shuback, (1993), p.348.

[176] Hoch, (1994), p. 477.

[177] Ibid. p. 476-7.  For further examples of loanwords see: T. O. Lambdin, (1953).

[178] Further evidence for the borrowing and naturalization of Semitic loan words is found in ÿ=m=q “to have sexual intercourse”.  It is hard to imagine that the Egyptian’s lacked their own word for such action.  Perhaps the Semitic equivalent was more precise.  Nonetheless, this shows that words were used in many different contexts, cf. Hoch, (1994), p. 466.

[179] N. Shuback, (1993), p. 353.

[180] Ibid.

[181] “In a detailed study of the occurrence of winged serpents in Egypt and the Near East, concluding that the seraphim of Isaiah’s vision (Isaiah 6:2-7) most closely fitted Egyptian motifs.  The uraeus or cobra was the symbol of royal diadem.  Yahweh, the ultimate king, would understandably have attendants being about him, and this Egyptian royal symbol was precisely made to order…The appearance of these winged serpents in Isaiah’s vision seem to be another example of those cultural contacts between Judah and Egypt…” Randles, (1980), p. 203.  Randles observations show that Egypt impacted texts as late as Isaiah.

[182] The primordial status of the world – before any creative act transpired, as portrayed in Genesis, is summed up in a mere verse (Gen. 1:2 x;Wrw> ~Aht. ynEP.-l[ %v,xow> hbow” Whto ht’y>h’ #r,a’h’

~yIM’h; ynEP.-l[; tp,x,r;m. ~yhil{a/; Though the cosmology of Genesis has affinities with Egyptian cosmology, the Genesis writer did not elaborate what happened or what was before the divine fiat. The Egyptian theologians, however, like the author of Prov. 8, elaborated greatly on what took place in the time preceding the First Occasion.  In their minds, there existed a prehistory to the creation of the world, a sort of prelude to the First Occurrence.  The prelude to the First Occurrence typically detailed the emergence or becoming of the creator god(s).

[183] Whybray, (1995), p. 114.

[184] The ancient use of bilingual puns is attested in other literature as well.  J. N. Sanders (1962), p. 942, suggests that the author of the Gospel of John may have also employed a pun in 1:17.  “The use of the verb evskh,nwsen “dwelt,” may be a kind of bilingual pun, since it contains the same root consonants as the rabinnic technical term Shekinah, the manifestation of the divine presence. Likewise, the word Logos was replete with multiple nuances.  “Very likely, the word [logos] was chosen for its wide meaning, encompassing as it did both Hellenistic and Hebraic shades of meaning.”  R. Kysar, (1992), p. 923.  See also: Y. Zachovitch, (1999) on double meanings

[185] It is possible that the writer knew of the meaning nursling. V. A. Hurowitz (1999), pp. 398 – 99)

[186] See: Avi Hurvitz, (1994).

[187] Whybray, (1995), p. 114.

[188] Nun, “…nw, translated as ‘Waters’ or ‘Primeval Waters’ …reflects the Egyptians concept of the universe as a limitless ocean of dark and motionless water…” Allen, (1998), p. 4

[189] RBY Scott, (1993), pp, XXIV and XXXIII. “His [Solomon] orientation toward the Egyptian court, from which came his principal wife and possible his state secretary with the Egyptian name, seems apparent and court Wisdom was an old tradition in Egypt.  The Joseph story with its Egyptian setting and embodiment of the Wisdom spirit is in keeping with this…  The contemporary testimony of the prophecies of Isaiah supports this view.  The ruling circles of Jerusalem were then in close contact with Egypt and underwent strong Egyptian political and cultural influence.  They counted on the pharaoh’s support in a general revolt against Assyrian domination…  Again, he poured scorn on the sages of Egypt on whom the wise men of Judah were modeling themselves.  It seems clear that the reference is to the royal counselors, the official, politically minded wing of the Wisdom movement of the time.”

[190] An important clue for the notion of Wisdom as ‘hidden’ is found in a text  by R. Jastrow, (1992).  The sanctuary in col. 2 could be part of the Siwa Oasis and/or “the hidden seat of wisdom itself, something in the tenor of Job 28.”  Cf. I. Shirun-Grumach, (1996), p. 412.  See also: G. Posener / J. Saint Faire Garnot (1962), p. 156.

[191] N. Shupak, (1993), p. 353.

[192] From: J. Assman, (1994), pp. 140-141.  (Cf. P. Leiden J 350 IV, 12-21).  Some lines of text were not included in my presentation.

[193] For examples of amon in Hebrew inscriptions see: Yoshiyuki Muchiki, (1999).

[194] Ibid. p. 5.

[195] The word is derived from the root tmm, which, interestingly, is a common root in Semitic languages.  Some of the definitions cf. Brown Driver Briggs, embody the same meaning as that in the Egyptian: be completed, finished, come to an end, cease; be consumed, exhausted, spent; completeness, fullness, etc.

[196] “Jacob” is attested both as a name and verb. %l{h]y: lykir’ [;re-lk’w> bqo[.y: bAq[‘ xa’-lk’ yKi Wxj’b.Ti-la;

Nowhere is the person of “Jacob” mentioned in this text.  Rather, the word “Jacob” appears in the Hebrew as the imperfect of root ÿqb (to assail insidiously, attack, deceit, reach for the heal).  There is absolutely no difference between the qal imperfect of ÿqb and the name Jacob.  The pointing is exactly the same. bqo[]y:-ta, tb,h,ao hq’b.rIw>:  “And Rebecca loved Jacob.” (Gen. 25:28)  This demonstrates that in ancient Hebrew a verb, used in everyday normal speech, also served as a name.  The same custom is common in many languages, Egyptian not being an exception.

[197] Bickel, (1994) p. 33.  See also Hornung (1971) for a detailed discussion of the translation of Atum.

[198] Some of its other meanings: ‘ein Priestertitel’; ‘als Name der Unterwelt selbst’; ‘rechte Seite’. Erman und Herm (1926). Pyr. D.18. These other words are all transcribed as ’imn but their hieroglyphics are longer than the normal sign which we have seen.

[199] Ibid.  See also: R. O. Faulkner, (1991), and: L. H. Lesko (ed.), (1982).

[200] See also Reading Book 114,5 as an example of “create”.

[201] Faulkner states in the notes: “For the meaning of ’imn here cf. Žnmw ’imn Ênmmt ‘Khnum who created the sun-folk’ Brit. Mus. 826, 10 = RB 114,4.”  Emphasis mine.

[202] R. O. Faulkner, (1969), Utterance 293, line 434.

[203] D. Meeks, (1977).

[204] , taken from  (in addition to its birth related connotations), is a word used for seismic and aquatic commotion.  See Ps. 77:17.  See also V.A. Hurowitz (1999), p. 395).

[205] For a discussion concerning the various meanings the writer might have had in mind see: R.N. Whybray, (1994b) p. 120.

[206] C. L. Rogers (1997), p. 216-218) points out that Aquila and some Rabbinic exegetes evidently vocalized the waw with a ëureq in order to avoid making Wisdom co creator with God.  In this way they avoided a difficult theological dilemma.

[207] See Baruch 3 above

Ancient Israelite Hypostasis Introduction

Hypostases in the Ancient Near East Part One

Hypostasis in Biblical Literature Part Two

Hypostasis in the Second Temple Period Part Three

Hypostasis, Proverbs Eight, and Wisdom Part Four

Ancient Israelite Hypostasis Bibliography Part Five