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Unsavory Personalities in the Book of Proverbs in Light of Mesopotamian Writings

From: Hebrew Studies
Volume 54, 2013
pp. 93-106 | 10.1353/hbr.2013.0027



This paper examines some previously unnoticed parallels between the book of Proverbs on the one hand and Akkadian and Sumerian writings on the other hand. Some parallels adduced derive from compositions regarded specifically as wisdom literature and included in the well-known collections (sections 3, 4, and 6). Other parallels derive from wisdom compositions not included in these collections (section 2) or from different types of writings, especially of ritual or magical nature (sections 1 and 5). Also, the parallels are of a different sort than those commonly brought, not specific borrowings of passages from this or that didactic work, but rather common ideas and images expressed in similar locutions. Specifically, the parallels adduced here concern the following sayings from the biblical book: Proverbs 6:20–35; 7:7–8; 11:22; 23:27–28; 26:14; 30:10. The examples examined here have one thing in common: they all involve the behavior of character types considered unsavory, a favorite topic of wisdom literature.

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