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 interpretation is difficult for it would be the only case of Kysn forming a denominative verb. Even so, it can be an ad hoc invention, compared with Myr# in v. 16, which appears along with the denominative verb wr#y. It is not without interest that one of the traditional epithets of Ea, Mesopotamian god of wisdom of all sorts is nis$s$i4ku, prince, probably synonym of his more common title NUN = rubû, and the etymological and semantic cognate of Hebrew Kysn17. This point becomes even more interesting because the next verse mentions the subterranean waters that are Eas domain. Could the image of the Mesopotamian god be alluded to in this pericope? If these interpretations have any legitimacy, even as secondary meanings, then Nwm) would be in a (secondary) context of words concerning royalty and kingship and there would be some justification to interpreting it as "advisor", related to the Akkadian umma4nu and Aramaic cognates. There is thus some contextual justification for understanding Nwm) as a royal advisor. It must be remembered, nonetheless that this is at most a secondary meaning, and is tenuous, depending as it does on the validity of interpreting wkrd and ytksn as mentioned above. In any case, these words at most enable by way of word play understanding Nwm) as advisor.
Another possible secondary interpretation is architect or artisan, but this can draw upon even less supporting evidence. As pointed out above, the background of Wisdoms birth and maturation is the creation of the world. This divine activity is described in other biblical passages as an act of construction, and, indeed, the cosmos is at times described in the Hebrew Bible as a building (cf. Prov 3,19-20; Isa 48,14; Am 9,6; Ps 24,2; 104,3; and especially Job 38,4-11). According to chap. 9, both twmkx and perhaps her foolish foil twlysk t#) built houses, so Wisdom may be called legitimately a builder or an architect. However, the only word in Wisdoms speech relating to the realm of construction and architecture is ydswm, "foundations", in v. 29, and this word may mean "regulations" and refers to cosmic order rather than physical foundations. It is thus possible that by using the word Nwm) Wisdom is alluding to her role as Gods chief architect of creation, but again this is based only on a very broad context of images of creation and is not inherent in the speech itself.
In summary, of the three explanations of Nwm) popular in current scholarly literature, the only one fully suited to the context is "nursling". This meaning is required by consistency of Wisdoms self-portrayal in vv. 22-31 and assured by existence of a specific connection between Nmw) and My(#(# demonstrated by examination of other biblical passages. The other major explanations are dubious, inconsistent with the main thrust of the speech, imposed on the chapter from the outside, and not inherent to it. The words supporting such interpretations do not come together into a cohesive, coherent image as do the words relating to life-cycle. If not rejected out of hand, they are at most secondary and have the nature of word plays. In fact, depiction of Wisdom as a child nursling practically precludes her role as an architect or advisor, unless she was a precocious