A Reflection on Some Proverbs
"Happy are those who find wisdom,
and those who get understanding,
for her income is better than silver,
and her revenue better than gold.
She is more precious than jewels,
and nothing you desire can compare with her.
Long life is in her right hand;
in her left hand are riches and honor.
Her ways are ways of pleasantness,
and all her paths are peace.
She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her;
those who hold her fast are called happy."
The Book of Proverbs, Chapter Three, Verses 13-18
New Revised Standard Version
From a young age, verses in the Bible discussing wisdom always drew me in. The personifications of wisdom in particular drew me in, and of course, I wasn't entirely sure why as a kid. There are numerous times where wisdom is spoken of as a person and sometimes even speaks.
Now I know what was going on. We're not merely discussing wisdom as an abstraction but rather Wisdom as a very real spiritual power/being to which we can relate. Often we use the name "Sophia" in this case. The Hebrew word is chokmah, which we then see reflected in the Kabbalah and Jewish mysticism as well.
My copy of The Jewish Study Bible points out that part of these verses are read when the Torah is being returned to the ark during a Jewish service, and the Rabbis tend to read "wisdom" in these verses as specifically referring to the Torah itself.
The Jewish Study Bible also references those things which Wisdom holds in her hands as potentially referring to iconography seen in Egypt where the monarchs would hold items symbolizing things such as long life and prosperity in their hands.
The Kabbalistic symbolism also seems to stand out in referencing the Tree of Life.
The more exoteric interpretation here would be something like, "Following God's Laws leads to happiness." Any given exoteric Christian church would probably give us something like this- following God's Rules leads to God's Blessings, end of story.
However, from a more esoteric point of view, we have something very different being said: one can experience a substantial underlying reality that then causes one to be happy.
Let's also consider what the verses are telling us above: they're not suggesting that precious jewels and metals are worthless (that is, the suggestion here isn't that owning things or having beautiful possessions is a bad thing) but rather that Wisdom is superior even to those things which we typically value and find to be beautiful.
Let us pursue both wisdom and Wisdom in all things.
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