Questions From Readers
● Does the description of “Wisdom” in Proverbs 8:22-31 actually apply to Jesus, the Son of God?
Persons who accept only the Hebrew Scriptures or who do not believe in Jesus Christ often explain Proverbs 8:22-31 as applying to Wisdom personified only in some figurative way. That application of the verses, however, does not agree with what is known about God. Furthermore, accepting the sound view that the entire Bible, including Proverbs, is inspired, a person can see that the description of “Wisdom” here in Proverbs matches what is said elsewhere in the Bible about the Son of God. We read:
“Jehovah himself produced me as the beginning of his way, the earliest of his achievements of long ago. . . . Before the mountains themselves had been settled down, ahead of the hills, I was brought forth as with labor pains . . . When he prepared the heavens I was there; . . . then I came to be beside him as a master worker, and I came to be the one he was specially fond of day by day, I being glad before him all the time, . . . and the things I was fond of were with the sons of men.”—Prov. 8:22-31.
Jewish commentators, objecting to any application of this passage to Jesus as the Messiah, have usually held that this is merely a literary personification of wisdom. Thus, W. Gunther Plaut, in his work Book of Proverbs—A Commentary, says that these verses apply to Wisdom “personified only in a figurative way.” This passage, however, cannot be speaking merely about divine wisdom or wisdom in the abstract. Why not? Because the “Wisdom” that is here depicted was “created” or “produced” (Hebrew, qa·nahʹ)* as the beginning of Jehovah’s way. The Scriptures show that Jehovah God himself has always existed. (Ps. 90:2; 1 Tim. 1:17) Since he is eternal and he has always been wise, then his wisdom has always existed; it never was created or produced; it was not “brought forth as with labor pains.” (Job 9:2, 4; 12:9, 13; 28:20, 23; Rom. 11:33-36) Wisdom does not exist apart from a personality capable of possessing and reflecting it. Consequently, this “Wisdom” must be a personification picturing someone who was created “as the beginning of [God’s] way.”
The Christian Greek Scriptures aid a person to understand to whom this passage evidently refers. They repeatedly testify to the fact that the Messiah had a prehuman existence as the Son of God in heaven with Jehovah. (John 17:5; 6:62) In that prehuman existence he worked with Jehovah in creating all other things. John 1:3 says about this one: “All things came into existence through him, and apart from him not even one thing came into existence.”—Compare Colossians 1:15, 16.
It is understandable that the Son of God could be depicted as created “Wisdom.” Through him Jehovah’s wise purpose, including the role of the Messiah whom the Jews were long awaiting, was made manifest. The apostle Paul said about Jesus: “Carefully concealed in him are all the treasures of wisdom and of knowledge.” (Col. 2:3) While King Solomon was renowned for his God-given wisdom, Jesus was “something more than Solomon.” (1 Ki. 4:30-34; Matt. 12:42) Those who accepted Jesus Christ and had faith in him realized that he was “the power of God and the wisdom of God.”—1 Cor. 1:24, 30.
Accordingly, what we know about our eternally wise God and the information in the Christian Greek Scriptures about Jesus combine to make clear the appropriateness of applying Proverbs 8:22-31 to the Son of God who became the Messiah. That passage remarkably fits the origin and activities of that one whose fondness for mankind even led to his dying as a ransom sacrifice.—1 Tim. 2:5, 6; John 3:16.
In the past, commentators and translators who held to the Trinity doctrine argued that qa·nahʹ should here be rendered “possessed.” Qa·nahʹ can convey the sense of either “acquire (possess)” or “produce.” (Gen. 4:1; Deut. 32:6; Ps. 139:13; Neh. 5:16) But scholars acknowledge that the context here points to the rendering “produced” or “created,” since Pr 8 verses 24 and 25 speak of Wisdom as being “brought forth as with labor pains.” This rendering is borne out by the Greek Septuagint, the Syriac Peshitta Version and the Targums. So now even translations by trinitarians, such as the Catholic Jerusalem Bible, use the rendering “produced” or “created.”