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The 7 Pillars of Wisdom?

The Protestant Bibles contain their 'Books of Wisdom'. They hold 5 books which are believed by Protestant Christian tradition to be aptly named as books of wisdom. But are these books the storied 'pillars of wisdom' spoken of in the Book of Proverbs?

   In Proverbs Chapter 9, Book 1, there are 7 'pillars of wisdom' that are referred to.

  "Wisdom has built her house; she has carved out her 7 pillars. She has prepared her meat; she has mixed her wine, she has also set her table.  She has sent out her servants; she calls out from the high points of the city: "Whoever is inexperienced, enter here!"

 Yet Protestant Bibles have only 5  books of wisdom. So, are these 'pillars' which are referred to something else? Or where would the other books of wisdom be?

Perhaps the answer lies in the Catholic Bible. Published before the Protestant Bible, it has two more books of wisdom than the Protestant Bibles have. The Protestant experts decided to reject 2 of the wisdom books that are found in the Catholic Bible. And they additionally rejected 5 other books of the Catholic Bible. That is why there are 66 books in a Protestant Bible and 73 books in the Catholic.

In common, the Bibles hold

1.) The Book of Job

2.) The Book of Psalms

3.) The Book of Proverbs

4.) Ecclesiastes

5.) The Song of Solomon

Additionally, the Catholic Bible still contains:

6.) The Wisdom of Solomon

7.) The Wisdom of Sirach (the wisdom of Jesus, son of Eleazar, son of Sirach)

It was considered extremely important in ancient times to posess wisdom. Humans can only be wise to a certain extent. But there is an extent to which we can hope to be wise, and it was held, in previous days, that every effort should be made to obtain that achievable level of wisdom! Wisdom was held to be one of the most valuable gifts that any man or woman could ever hope to posess.

The writer of Proverbs 4:7 writes that his father told him when he was young: "Wisdom is supreme - so get wisdom!"

"But of what use are these wisdom books?", you may ask. There are answers to that also, in the wisdom books. Here is what King Solomon - referred to in scripture as the wisest mere man of all time - says that wisdom is good for, beginning at Proverbs 1: 1-7:

"The Proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: For gaining wisdom and being instructed; for understanding insightful sayings; for receiving wise instruction in righteousness, justice, and integrity; for teaching shrewdness to the inexperienced, knowledge and discretion to the young man - a wise man will listen and increase his learning, and a discerning man will obtain guidance - for understanding a proverb or a parable, the words of the wise and their riddles. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction."

We should probably read this very very closely and literally, because it seems to refer to a great secret that is almost unknown in our day. I think it is telling us that not only is wisdom good for the prudent living out of our lives, but those books hold the mental associations, the clues or keys if you will, for unlocking many a Bible secret. Did you notice Solomon mentioning this? The books of wisdom may help us de-code difficult passages in the other books of the Bible!! The wisdom books may help us ferret out the meanings of those tougher passages!!

So, because we are told to seek wisdom, and because there is great gain in it, even for an older adult but aspecially for the young, here begins a small sampler of the 7 books of wisdom which may be the 7 pillars of wisdom feferred to in the Book of Proverbs.

Perhaps it will whet your appetite to explore these books for the first time, or to take an additional and more serious look at them, and to make sure your children or grand children are given a chance to hear these words. Being wise can come from experience, but it comes so much more painlessly from enjoying wisdom already gathered by others!

The Book of Job

 

The book of Job is 42 Chapters long and centers around the experience of a man named Job who was a contemporary, according to old traditions, of Isaac and Jacob. That is about the 1900's B.C. time frame, perhaps 400 to 500 years after the great flood, though these things aren't specified in the Bible's book of Job.

There are Jewish traditions saying that Joseph, Jacob's son, married a daughter of Job and a grand daughter of Jacob who had somehow come to reside in Egypt. She was named Asenath, according to that tradition. But, the Bible only says that Joseph married a woman named Asenath, but says little of her origins. The Jewish tradition says that Job's second wife was Jacob's daughter Dinah who, when younger, went wandering in a strange land that her family had moved into and was raped by Shechem the son of Hamor, who was a Hivite.

According to the Bible, Chapter 34 of Genesis, strangely enough this Shechem fell in love with Dinah, and brought his father Hamor to Jacob to negotiate for her hand. But Dinah's brothers, Jacob's sons Simeon and Levi , negotiated with revenge in mind. They gained agreement that this whole town of Hivites would be circumcized first, and that then they could all join together as one people, and it would then be acceptable that Shechem marry Dinah. The Hivites agreed to this merging of the peoples, and underwent the painful procedure. While the Hivites were still in recovery, the brothers of Dinah attacked the town, found the men, and killed them all to avenge their sister's honor.

So, according to this tradition, which is of questionable origin and veracity so far as I know, Dinah married Job after the time of Job's great troubles, and their daughter was Asenath who became Joseph's wife. I am only mentioning this because it possibly links Job to the Israelites - to the house of Joseph, at least - in that Job would be the grand father of Ephraim and Manasseh. and Job would have been Joseph's father- in- law were this story true.

But what is the Book of Job about? Job's life, in overview: The Book of Job begins by showing us that Job is a man especially loyal to God in all things. He is a great man of the East, and he lives an especially righteous life, has a wife and a good family, and has been blessed by God with much livestock, status, riches, and all other good things. He prays often for himself and his family, asking frequently for forgiveness for the sins his sons may have forgotten to ask forgiveness for. Job is precious to God, and very blessed.

But Satan appears before God in heaven, and they speak about Job. God mentions Job's piety. Satan claims that because Job is so blessed he is pious. But, take away Job's blessings, and Job would not be so pious. Job would then curse God to God's face, Satan claims.

God allows Satan to test Job in this. But not to personally touch Job himself. Satan leaves, and brings ruin down upon Job. Job's herds of oxen and donkeys are stolen by raiding Sabeans. They kill all of Job's herder servants except the one who brings the message. Job's sheep and other servants are killed by a lightenng storm. Raiding Chaldeans took all of Job's camels. Job's sons and daughters, gathered for a feast in a house, are killed when a wind drives in from the desert and strikes the four corners of the house. It collapses, and they all die. Job only has his wife now.

But Job, receiving all of this tragic news, does not curse God or blame God. Instead, he stands, tears his robe, and merely says: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will leave this life. The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Praise the name of the Lord."

At a later time, Satan again came to present himself before God. God reminds him of how well Job had withstood Satan's testing.

But Satan replies: "Skin for skin! A man will give up everything he owns in exchange for his life. But stretch out Your hand and strike his skin and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face."

So, God replied, "Very well, he is in your power, only spare his life."

So, Satan left God's presence and infected Job with incurable boils from the top of his head to the sole of his foot.

Job, in constant agony, would sit in ashes and scrape himself with a pottery shard.

His wife told him, "Do you still retain your integrity? Curse God and die!"

But he answered her, "You speak as a foolish woman speaks. Should we accept only good from God and not adversity?" Ans still Job did not sin in what he said, though he had much internal turmoil of thought, trying to determine why such bad had befallen him.

Job had three friends: Eliphaz the Temanite. Bildad the Shuhite. And Zophar the Naamathite. They had heard about Job's terrible plight. They traveled, met, and together went to comfort Job. When they saw him, he looked so bad that they cried. For seven days they sat near him, not speaking, mourning his pain with him.

Then, after the 7 days, the 4 men begin to speak, and this is what the rest of the Book of Job is mainly about. Job speaks of his plight and his thoughts about it. His friends offer their varying perspectives about the particulars of Job's case, and of such human misery in general. Many things are discussed, even wild creatures of their area, from chapter 38 to 41 that is the major topic. At least one of them appears to be a fearsome dinosaur (Job Chap 41) And also another type of dinosaur seems to be discussed beginning in Job 40:15

In the end of it all, God appears in a tempest, and speaks, educating Job on the difference in magnitude between God and mankind. And, he approves of Job, and in fact states that Job has spoken rightly, but Job's three friends have spoken ill at times in their discussion. They are told to bring a sacrifice of animals - 7 bulls and 7 rams - as an apology. And God requires that Job pray for the friends to be forgiven for their instances of unworthy speech. Job does this, and God forgives them.

In the end, all the animals that Job lost are replaced double. Job's former friends that had abandoned him, and his brothers and sisters came to visit him again. His personal family also is replaced (he was given 7 sons and 3 daughters in his later life.) His daughters were the most beautiful in the land. And Job lived 140 more years.

That is a quick overview, but as these friends discuss things together a person is given a very great insight into how little the human condition and human thinking has changed in the last 3900 years. And also, we can see how thoroughly they thought about lifes ups and downs, and how deeply their philosophies already were delving into cause and affect, and reasons for bad luck, and the proper way to face the tragedies in your life as you live out your days before God. It is quite deep and thorough.

It is a little bit of work to read the book of Job, but worth it. Writers and philosophers from many ages since have taken from Job, or have been influenced by the book.

Let's take a look at just a few excerpts and instances of their philosophical discourse:

Eliphaz to Job: "Consider: who has perished when he was innocent? Where has the honest been destroyed? In my experience, those who plow in injustice and those who sow trouble reap the same. They perish at a single blast from God, and come to an end."

Eliphaz to Job: "Can a person be more righteous than God, or a man more pure than his maker? If God puts no trust in his servants and He charges HIS angels with foolishness, how much more those who dwell in clay houses, whose foundation is the dust, who are crushed like a moth! They are smashed to pieces from dawn to dusk; they perish forever while no one notices."

Eliphaz to Job: "But mankind is born for trouble as surely as sparks fly upward."

Eliphaz to Job: "See how happy the man is God corrects; so do not reject the discipline of the almighty. For he crushes but also binds up; He strikes, but His hands also heal."

Job to Eliphaz: "If only my grief could be weighed and my devestation placed with it on a scale. For then it would outweigh the sand of the seas."

Job to Eliphaz: "Isn't mankind consigned to forced labor on earth? Are not his days like those of a hired hand? Like a slave he longs for shade; like a hired man he waits for his pay."

How bad was Job's medical condition? "My flesh is clothed with maggots and encrusted with dirt. My skin forms scabs, and then oozes." Job 7:5

Job, complaining of God's close and painful attention to his life!: "What is man, that you think so highly of him? You inspect him every morning and put him to the test every moment. Will you ever look away from me, or leave me alone until I swallow my saliva? If I have sinned, what have I done to You, Watcher of mankind? Why have you made me your target, so that I have become a burden to You? Why not forgive my sin and pardon my transgression? For soon I will lie down in the grave. You will eagerly seek me, but I will be gone."

Another friend, Bildad the Shuhite, to Job: "How long will you go on saying these things? Your words are a blast of wind. Does God pervert justice? Does the Almighty pervert what is right? Since your children sinned against Him, He gave them over to their rebellion. But if you earnestly seek God and ask the Almighty for mercy, if you are pure and upright, He will move even now on your behalf and restore the home where your righteousness dwells. Then, even if your beginnings were modest, your final days will be full of prosperity." (And that is what happens to Job in the end of the Book of Job!)

Bildad to Job: "Look, God does not reject a person of integrity, and He will not support evildoers. He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with a shout of joy. Your enemies will be clothed with shame; the tent of the wicked will exist no longer."

Job, answering Bildad's charges, speaking of His case against God (for Job feels like he has done little to deserve this punishment): For He is not a man like me, that I can answer Him, that we can take each other to court. There is no one to judge between us, to lay his hand on both of us." (Until Jesus came to remediate between God and man! Job has spoken of the situation that existed before Jesus came to teach man. It was nearly hopeless then!)

They understood clearly anbd well that God forms infants carefully and lovingly in the womb. Job 10:8-12 :

"Your hands shaped me and formed me. Will You now turn around and destroy me? Please remember that You formed me like clay. Will you now return me to dust? Did You not pour me out like milk and curdle me like cheese? You clothed me with skin and flesh, and wove me together with bones and tendons. You gave me life and faithful love, and Your care has gaurded my life."

And where did Job believe that he would go when he died, at least at first? Job 10:20 - 22 "Are my days not few? Stop it! Leave me alone so that I can smile a little before I go to a land of darkness and gloom, never to return. It is a land of blackness like the deepest darkness, gloomy and chaotic, where even the light is like the darkness."

Chapter 9 offers some interesting insights. Here, in it's beginning, is Job summing up the futility of fighting God: "...but how can a man be justified before God? Should one wish to contend with Him, he could not answer him once in a thousand times. God is wise in heart and mighty in strength; who has withstood Him and come away unscathed?"

Also, chapter 9 (and remember, these events happened almost 4,000 years ago) makes specific mention of various astrologicl sonstellations. Fot those who study astronomy, or those who believe that there is meaning in the constellations, here is a passage to read: "He alone stretches out the heavens and treads upon the crests of the sea. He made the Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and the constellations of the south. He does great things past finding out, and marvellous things beyond reckoning."

Apparently these ancient men, though shepherds, were aware of certain astronomical teachings, and those constellations mentioned are still known today.

Chapter 10 offers a pretty keen insight, in passing, as Job essentially is complaining that it can seem like God made us weak and then punishes us for failing (a thought that many a human has had!). Job, when speaking of how God forms a human being, says this: Chap 10: v.8 - 12:

"Your hand has formed me and fashioned me; will you then turn and destroy me? Oh, remember that you fachioned me from clay! Will you then bring me down to dust again? Did you pour me out like milk, and thicken me like cheese? With skin and flesh you clothed me, with bone and sinew knit me together. Grace and favor you granted me, and your providence has preserved my spirit."

Cheese is mentioned. They knew quite well how to make cheese so long ago, huh? That might not surprise us. But how interesting of an analogy! There is milk, which is only a liquid. But, if you treat and agitate it a certain way, cheese begins to curdle up and float at the top. And this solid, which springs as if by strange forces from a liquid, is further dealt with in just the right way, then you can make a brick of cheese that is harder and firmer than human flesh. Out of this liquid milk comes a pretty hard solid substance, just as a human being, with flesh and bones, comes into being within it's mother from much softer substances and ingredients. We 'materialize' inside of our mother, inside of our skin, as cheese does from milk.

Chap 14: "Man born of woman is short-lived and full of trouble. Like a flower that springs up and fades, like a shadow that does not abide. Upon such a one will you cast your eyes so as to bring him into judgement before you, though he wears out like a leather bottle, like a garment thast the moth has consumed? Can a man be found who is clean of defilement? There is none, however short his days. You know the number of his months, you have fixed the limit which he cannot pass. Look away from him and let him be, while, like a hireling, he completes his day."

Apparently they believed in Job's day that a man's life span was of a fixed and inflexible length. And Job saw our body as being like a perishable container - like a leather bottle. And life was seen, as Jacob told Pharoah in Genesis, when Joseph introduced them, to be a hard affair, full of troubles.

Job ached for a salvaion such as the very one that Jesus would later bring. Look at Chapter 14:10 - 17:

"But when a man dies, all vigor leaves him; when man expires, where then is he? As when the waters of a lake fail, or a stream goes dry and parches, so men lie down and rise not again. Till the heavens are no more, they shall not awake, nor be roused out of their sleep. Oh, that you would hide me in the nether world and keep me sheltered till your wrath is past; would fix a time for me, and then remember me! When a man has died, were he to live again, all the days of my drudgery I would wait, until my relief should come. You would call, and I would answer you; you would esteem teh work of your hands. Surely then you would count my steps, and not keep watch for sin in me. My misdeeds would be sealed up in a pouch, and you would cover over my guilt."

Job just described the outflow of Christianity, did he not? Our misdeeds sealed up in a pouch, our guilt covered over. He wished for it, but did not yet see a hope for it...not in his day. Jesus had not yet come.

I'm not going to review the entire Book of Job. It's supposed to be read in its entirety from the scriptures. These Bible books are somewhat like some natural spiritual food that God created, I believe. They are imbued with many 'spiritual nutrients', some in the leaf, and some in the stalk, some in the root and some in the fruit. Likewise, a book of the Bible has spiritual good in all of its parts. So, each book will do the most good for us if we read the whole book like we might read some fiction or biographical book written by a human author. The author of a book plans out all sections....the beginning, middle, and end. And the author places some things in the beginning and the middle which are crucial for understanding the end.

So, I will leave off talking about Job, except to say that if you are having a difficult time in your life, Job is a very great book to read. Job 36:21 tells us, through Job's friend Elihu: "Do not long for the night when nations will disappear from their places. Be careful that you do not turn to iniquity, for that is why you are being tested by affliction." End Quote. Our trials may be for many reasons. One reason might be to see how we will act towards, and think of, our maker when we are under what seems to be severe trial.

Also, there is nowhere in the Bible where we hear God Almighy speak directly for a longer time to a man than in Job. He decides to address Job directly, and for 4 chapters - Chapters 38, 39, 40, and 41 - God speaks His thoughts to a single oppressed and stressed out man....Job. And God uses animals extensively in drawing parallels that Job can understand. In the course of it all, we learn that there were dinosaurs of some large type living in this time frame, around 4,000 years ago. They certainly may have lived for a long time afterwards as well.

So, because God speaks to Job directly and at length more than to other men (so far as the Bible's pages record) Job might easily make a claim to being the most blessed man in the Bible, and not the most crushed and beaten. And as for us who read Job, Job's trial is every man or woman's trial in a sense. We can all see ourself in Job. And through him, we can surmise what God might say to us if He was to speak to us about our difficulties.

He might say 'Persevere without complaint, sinner, and do not sin more because you suffer. And have faith in your God!'

©2017 Daniel Curry & 'Deeds of God' Website