Victor Avigdor Hurowitz, «Nursling, Advisor, Architect? Nwm) and the Role of Wisdom in Proverbs 8,22-31», Vol. 80 (1999) 391-400
Scholars explain Nwm) in Prov 8,30 as nursling, advisor, or architect. Analysis of Prov 8,22-31 shows that Wisdoms autobiography contains exclusively "life cycle" terms relating to gestation, birth, and maturation. Accordingly, the only contextually valid meaning of Nwm) is "nursling". Difficulties perceived in this interpretation are contrived and of no substance. The interpretation defended here is proven decisively by the previously unnoticed existence of "transitive association" indicating a bonded conceptual pairing between Nwm) and My(#(#. Although "nursling" is the only valid primary meaning of Nwm) in this context, it is slightly possible that other interpretations are legitimate secondary meanings, on the level of intentional wordplays and double entendres.
of things done to Wisdom or Wisdoms own actions corresponding with the different stages of YHWHs activity. Wisdom stands center stage describing her own life against a backdrop of YHWHs creative works. These two elements may be examined separately, first the background and then the main narrative.
The stage is set in a primordial age. These times are referred to in vv. 22-23 with four adverbial phrases and adverbs denoting the distant past, essentially the beginning of time: wkrd ty#)r "at the beginning of His way" (i.e. "the first of His deeds"; cf. Job 40,19 l) ykrd ty#)r "the first of Els ways", describing Behemoth); z)m wyl(pm Mdq, "before His works of then"; Mlw(m, "from eternity"; and Cr) ymdqm, "from before/ the beginnings of the earth".
Vv. 24-25 continue to describe the time before creation, but no longer in general, temporal terms. Now Wisdom declares her precedence to the main forces of nature and components of the universe. First she speaks in the negative, referring to the non-existence of certain major components of the universe: twmht Ny)b, "when there were no subterranean waters"; Mym ydbkn twny(m Ny)b "when there were no springs heavy with water" 7. Describing the unformed universe negatively, in terms of what did not yet exist, is comparable to the beginning of the J creation account in Gen 2,4 and the Babylonian creation myth Enuma elish. Continuing her speech, Wisdom simply speaks of preceding certain events but no longer in negative formulation: w(b+wh Myrh Mr+b "before the mountains were submerged (in the water)"; tw(bg ynpl "before the hills (were founded)". Finally, in v. 26 both negative and positive references to past events occur, in a single verse as a conclusion of this pre-creation period in time: twcwxw Cr) h#( )l d( "while He had not yet made the land and unsettled areas"; lbt twrp( #)rw "before/at the beginning of the dust of the dry land" 8. Afterwards, in vv. 27-29, adverbial phrases containing infinitive constructs with possessive pronominal suffixes anteceded by God mention actual acts of creation indicating the progression of time: Mym# wnykhb "when He established/ founded/ made firm the heavens"; Mymh ynp l( gwx wqxb "when he inscribed a circle (the horizon) on the face of the water". These indicate the first steps in creating the heaven and the earth, while l(mm Myqx#& wcm)b "when He strengthened the highest heavens above" and Mwht twny( zwz(b "when He strengthened the wells of the deep" (or "when the wells of the deep gushed forth") indicate the completion of the process.
After completing the heavens and the earth, the sea and foundations of the earth must be maintained in their place, for the sea perpetually threatens to wash away the land, while the earth itself is unstable, prone to trembling and earthquake. At any moment the world could revert to chaos. Cosmic order is preserved by continued divine fiat, expressed by repeating the word wqwx found in v. 27 but with different meanings and grammatical forms: Cr) ydswm wqwxb // wyp wrb(y )l Mymw wqwx Myl wmw#b " when