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.
This analysis shows that Wisdom grew up in three stages, corresponding with three ages in the history of the world. She was conceived and born before creation, present at the time of creation, and went out into the world when creation was complete with the appearance of human beings. In fact, the story of Wisdom is her narration of her own life and her maturation process. It is in this context that we must find the primary meaning of Nwm). Since every other statement of hers relates to her gestation, birth, early childhood, and growing up, it seems that Nwm) too should designate some stage or aspect of this process. It is a life-cycle term. Consistency of context thus weighs heavily in favor of the interpretation "nursling" and the like. If we are to understand Nwm) as architect or advisor we would remove Wisdoms self-description from its focus on her own maturation to the concern of the surrounding text describing Gods creative activities. It would be the only place where she claims to have been an active participant in creation and not merely a(n interested) bystander.
H. Cazelles and C. Rogers III deny the perseverance of the child image of Wisdom, claiming that words such as (w#(# and qx# at the end of her speech need no longer refer to childlike behavior because in most of their uses in the Hebrew Bible they are associated with adults. This permits them to deny the contextual basis for taking Nwm) as a life cycle term to be translated "nursling". However, this argument is a "red herring", patently fallacious and misleading. It intentionally introduces into consideration irrelevant factors. Just because (w#(# and qx# can relate to both adults and children in other contexts doesnt imply that it cant relate to children in this particular connection. There is no doubt, and no one denies it, that these words do have meanings related to childhood, and there is no reason to ignore them here where they are expected and natural, and to insist on only the non-childhood meanings.
Nonetheless, it is possible that the first appearance of (w#(# and qx# (v. 30) refers to Wisdoms childlike behavior in Gods presence, while the second time (v. 31), when she is not home but out in the world among people, (w#(# and qx# designate more mature types of entertaining behavior befitting of a young woman. Avi Hurvitz has discussed the use of y(w#(# hrwt as a designation in Ps 119 of intellectual delight and has suggested that it is based on Prov 8,31. It may be that already in Prov 8,31 it has this meaning. But this would still be a continuation and completion of the process of growing up and would not disrupt the theme of life cycle.
The contextual argument should be sufficient demonstration that the only proper understanding of Nwm) is "nursling". But, there are several verses containing the roots (#(# or Nm) which have gone unnoticed in scholarly discussion of Nwm), and which, when taken together, provide a stylistic or rhetorical argument clinching the case for this interpretation, rendering any other highly improbable if not outright impossible. Let us examine these verses. Isa 66,7-14 contains an idyllic prediction of Israel and Zions future redemption. This description is characterized by a long series of terms reflecting the process of birth and early childhood, much as we find in Wisdoms autobiographical narration. We read there: