THE SITUATIONAL CONTEXT OF STATEMENTS CONCERNNG POVERTY AND WEALTH IN THE BOOK OF PROVERBS

G H Wittenberg

Abstract


The aim of the article is an explanation of the shift in meaning from the neutral ‘rich’ in Pr22:2 to a pejorative ‘oppressor’ in Pr 29:13, two almost identical proverbs. In a first section dealing with the most probable setting of Proverbs in the wisdom school, the issue is debated whether all material in Proverbs is of a uniform kind. Following McKane and Scott, the author maintains that there are indications that older sayings material is annotated or even corrected by the addition of later sayings which display a different viewpoint or perspective. An important element in this process of reinterpretation is the re-evaluation of poverty and wealth. In a second section dealing with socio-economic developments in Israel, the author points to distinctively negative experiences with Canaanite commercial practices, for example the taking of interest, which caused widespread impoverishment of the Israelite peasant population. This led the wise to distinguish between wealth gained by unrighteous means, that is trade and commerce, and wealth gained by honest and toil in agriculture.  This distinction can explain the ‘agricultural ideal’ (Boström) which is found even in post-exilic wisdom tests.

Keywords


Neutral rich; Proverbs 22:2; Oppressor: Proverbs 29:13; Canaanite commercial practices; Agricultural ideal; Post-exilic wisdom tests

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7833/21-0-1922

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ISSN 2305-445X (online); ISSN 0254-1807 (print)

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