Beginning of Wisdom

Proverbs from the Hebrew Bible and the ancient Near East

Source of justice (Proverbs 28:5)

Posted by jac/cdc on February 15, 2007

אַנְשֵׁי־רָע לֹא־יָבִינוּ מִשְׁפָּט וּמְבַקְשֵׁי יְהוָה יָבִינוּ כֹל׃

an-shay-RA lo-ya-vee-NU mish-PAT u-m’-vaq-SHAY a-do-NEYE ya-vee-NU CHOL

Wicked people do not understand justice, but those who seek the Lord understand completely.

God sets the standard of justice and places a sense of justice in all of us. Therefore, it is logical that those who seek the Lord (i.e., seek guidence and wisdom from him) will also understand justice entirely (not ‘understand everything’). By contrast, those who are wicked by their very character exhibit their lack of understanding of justice. If they truly understood God’s justice they would not commit evil!

Von Rad’s commments on this proverb are worth quoting in full:
The opinion is evidently that turning to Yahweh facilitates the difficult distinction between right and wrong. But this was surely not true only of the narrower sphere of moral behaviour. Faith does not—as is popularly believed today—hinder knowledge; on the contrary, it is what liberates knowledge, enables it really to come to point and indicates to it its proper place in the sphere of varied, human activity. In Israel the intellect never freed itself from or became independent of the foundation of its whole existence, that is its commitment to Yahweh. (Wisdom in Israel 68).


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