Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the voice of His Servant?

Study Guide

See the following file for a Study Guide for Poetical Books etc:


1)      Name 4 poems from the OT outside of the Poetic books.

2)      What is the main characteristic of Hebrew Poetry?

3)      What percentage (approximate) of the OT can be classified as poetry?

4)      Name three acrostic poems from the OT.

5)      What does a poem usually have?

A POEM usually HAS ( according to Fokkelman)

2 to 4 beats/stresses per colon

2 or 3 cola per verse

2 or 3 verses per strophe

2 or 3 strophes per stanza [often 6 to 10 verses]

NOTE the following:

The vast majority of verses are bipartite, i.e. bicola.

[This is clear from the percentage of tricola: almost 12.5 percent of the verses in the Psalms are tricola, in Job only 8 percent, and in Proverbs even less, 4%, which means many of the poems it contains are simply bicolic.]

On ACROSTICS: The alphabet provides and acrostic arrangement:

  • per colon, in Psalms 111 and 112
  • per poetic line, in Psalms 25[-w,q], 34, and 145[-n], and also in Prov 31:10-31
  • per strophe in Psalm 37[-‘], and in 4 of the 5 poems of Lamentations
  • per stanza in the longest psalm, 119.

Most cola are 7, 8, or 9 syllables.


BICOLON bipartite verse; adj.: bucolic

COLON verset; often half-verse

HENDIADYS lit. “one through two”: trope in which one concept is expressed by    two words

MONOCOLON a full poetic line consisting of no more than one colon/verset.

TRICOLON a tripartite poetic line

STROPHE 2-3 verses in Hebrew poetry

STANZA 2-3 strophes in Hebrew poetry

LYRICAL having the form and musical quality of a SONG


1)      Definition of Wisdom

2)      Some Wisdom themes/topics

3)      What is a proverb/mashal?

4)      Why proverbs?

5)      List 4 wisdom genres: proverb, saying, dialogue/disputation, allegory, monologue/reflection etc

6)      Literary Structure of Proverbs

7)      Stages of Growth

8)      Authorship

9)      Hermeneutical warning!

Some Biblical Figures of Speech – AP Ross

Simile and Metaphor

Implied Comparison (Hypocatastasis)






GET WISDOM – Proverbs 4:1-13  and 8:22-36 (John Piper)

A good definition of godly wisdom = hearing and doing God’s word (see Mt 7:24).

=)  the people who are HUMBLY relying on God for help and who fear to seek happiness anywhere but in HIM.

PROBLEM – some things are NOT discussed in the Bible (cf. 1 Kings 3:16-28)…There was no biblical command to tell Solomon what to do when the 2 harlots came…Therefore, W must go BEYOND knowing and doing the Word of GOD. W must include a sensitive, mature judgment or DISCERNMENT of how the fear of the Lord should work itself out in ALL the circumstances not specifically dealt with in the Bible

–         there has to be a renewing of the MIND (Rom 12:2)

–         SPIRITUAL WISDOM – Colossians 1:9

It is precisely by saturating our minds and hearts with God’s WORD that we gain the Spiritual Wisdom to guide us in all situations…it begins with the fear of the LORD!


1)      PRIZE IT (2:4 and 4:8)

2)      STUDY and MEDITATE on the Word of God (Ps 19:7) – read 15 mins/day =) 20 books…

3)      PRAY – cf. Solomon (1 Kings 3) and James 1:5

4)      Think of death (Psalm 90:12)


–         Matthew 12:42 – someone greater than Solomon

–         Jesus is the W of God (1 Cor 1:24, 30)

–         Colossians 2:3



  1. Which book has been able to help Christians to get a “handle” on the faith, and represents the commonsense approach to life and faith?
  1. Define a proverb.
  1. TRUE of FALSE.  In Proverbs, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov. 1:7), and the fundamental nature of wisdom is theological.  Thus in Proverbs the underlying basis of one’s life is one’s relationship with God.
  1. TRUE or FALSE.  Wisdom in this book capitalizes upon the horizontal dimension of life (one’s relations with other human beings and the natural world).  It offers instructions with an exhortative word.
  1. TRUE or FALSE.  The word used to designate the contents of the book is mashal – usually translated “proverb.”  It derives from the verb mashal = to represent/ be like, and it suggests the idea of likeness.
  1. TRUE or FALSE.  John Mark Thompson argues that the basic function of Hebrew proverbs is philosophical, with three sub-functions: entertainment, legal usage, and instruction.
  1. What is the PURPOSE of the book of Proverbs?

  1. TRUE or FALSE. In addition to the proverb, the book contains longer, more reflective passages.

  1. Sketch the 3 stages in the growth of the book of Proverbs.

  1. Sketch the literary structure and composition of the book of Proverbs. See p. 155.

  1. TRUE or FALSE. In a few places the Septuagint (LXX) order of the text differs from that of the Masoretic text.  TRUE.  See p. 155.

  1. TRUE or FALSE. Based on the Aramaisms found in the book (e.g. 14:34; 17:10; 18: 24; 19:20 etc.) Eissfeldt maintained that 10:1-22:16 is not pre-exilic material.

  1. TRUE or FALSE. There is sparse information about the canonization process for this book.  A question revolved around the alleged contradiction between Proverbs 26:4 and 26:5.  The rabbinic solution was to view the first as a reference to matters of the law and the second to secular affairs.

  1. TRUE or FALSE. The book of Proverbs employs the one-line popular proverb.  FALSE.  It has as its basic form the two-line proverb = distich = the basic form of mashal poetry.

NOTE that in proverbs we also have the tetrastich (23:15-16; 24:3-4), the hexastich (23:19-21), and even the octastich (23:22-25).

TRUE or FALSE. It is appropriate to treat the book of Proverbs as a book of promises.

  1. Is Israelite wisdom literature superior to that of the other nations? If yes, why? If not, why not?

  1. Name three ancient foreign works of wisdom literature (not found in the Bible).

  1. TRUE or FALSE. It has been suggested that Proverbs 22:17 to 23:14 is dependent on the Egyptian Instruction of Amenemope.

  1. List two sections from the book of proverbs which seem to come from a foreign source.

  1. How does the book of Proverbs end?


1.      Discuss briefly the Hebrew title of the book of Ecclesiastes.

2.      TRUE or FALSE.  The Hebrew and Christian faiths have always provided a certain margin within which the SKEPTICAL spirit of man could be accommodated.  The fact that Ecclesiastes stands within the canonical circle of Holy Scripture is a virtual witness to that truth.

3.      TRUE or FALSE.  The primary PURPOSE (according to Bullock) of Qoheleth was didactic.

4.      According to Bullock, the meaning of Qoheleth may be grasped in part by viewing three trademarks of his thought.  Which are these three trademarks?

a.       The search for happiness and enduring substance

b.      Divine sovereignty and providence

c.       The GOLDEN MEAN of human conduct

5.      TRUE or FALSE.  In religion, this man of mind and means was neither unduly pious nor iconoclastic (7:15-25).  His motto was MODERATION, and he walked a tight line between despair and arrogance, balanced only by the FEAR of GOD.

6.      TRUE or FALSE.  Qoheleth lacked the dimension of the New Testament revelation of God in Christ.  Thus, according to Franz Delitzsch, it is possible to read the book of Qoheleth as a “proof of the power of revealed religion which has grounded faith in God…so deeply and firmly…, that even the most dissonant and confused impressions of the present world are unable to shake it.” It is also a proof of the inadequacy of revealed religion in its O.T. form.

7.      TRUE or FALSE.  Generally, one of the strongest reasons against Solomonic authorship is considered to lie in a LINGUISTIC analysis of the book.

8.      Two foreign loan words are used to argue for a relatively late date for the book of Qoheleth.  Which are these two words, and from which language are they loaned?

9.      Which ancient Jewish schools disputed the canonical status of Ecclesiastes?

10.  Give two NT texts that seem to allude to the book of Ecclesiastes.

11.  The early church bore witness to the acceptance of Ecclesiastes in the biblical canon.  List 3 church fathers who quote or allude to this book. 5 points

12.  List two writings from foreign wisdom literature which seem to reflect the same spirit of Ecclesiastes.

13.  What is the “divine imperative” of Ecclesiastes and where is it found?

14.  List at least 3 possible interpretations of the poem in 11:8-12:8.

15.  Be prepared to discuss briefly the Epilogue of the book.

16.  Be prepared to write a short analysis of a text from Ecclesiastes given in class.  You should write your analysis with the whole book of Ecclesiastes in mind.


  1. Summarize the prologue of the book of Job.
  1. What are some of the major issues that are addressed (directly or indirectly) in the book of Job?
  1. Summarize the epilogue of the book of Job.
  1. Define ‘theodicy.’
  1. TRUE or FALSE.  According to Bullock, “Job indeed struggled with life, moved from humble submission (prologue) to daring challenge (dialogue), and eventuated in a more informed submission after the God speeches.
  1. The book of Job is very difficult to date because the author does not seem to have had an interest in historical details.  What is the range of possible/proposed dates for the book?
  1. Which is most likely geographical location for the provenance of the book of Job? (Hint:  This location is supported by the Septuagint).
  1. The LXX of Job has a longer epilogue.  What are some of the details that this passage adds?
  1. Sketch the literary structure of the book of Job.
  1. Where is the poem on wisdom found? What is the poem about?
  1. Which portions of the book of Job are written in prose?
  1. Which New Testament apostle gives Job as an example of endurance/patience?
  1. Which Old Testament prophet mentions Job twice as an example of righteousness?
  1. What are some problems with the Elihu speeches, and why is he speaking last?

One response

  1. Thomas

    Thanks for these helpful study notes.

    November 3, 2008 at 4:42 pm

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