The Fool in Proverbs

The word ‘fool’ is mentioned some 94 times in Proverbs in the NASB. The English word fool was used by a majority of translators for what are actually four different Hebrew words. Each has a slightly different emphasis as it is used in the context, describing a person devoid of wisdom and his (or her) resultant behavior. As referenced below, each section shows a transliteration, Strong’s number, the Hebrew word itself, some inferences on the particular and varied nuances gleaned from several Hebrew lexicons, and how many times it appears in the text, and locations.

kecil (כְּסִיל, 3684), stupid (in practical things), insolent (in religion) HALOT;  stupid fellow; dull person; fool.” The kecil is “insolent” in religion and “stupid or dull” in wise living (living out a religion he professes) WEV

Translated 49 times as: 44 (fool, fools, fool’s), 5 (foolish)   –  Proverbs 1:22,  1:32,  3:35,  8:5,  10:1, 10:18,  10:23,  12:23,  13:16,  13:19,  13:20,  14:7,  14:8,  14:16,  14:24,  14:33,  15:2,  15:7,  15:14,  15:20,  17:10,  17:12,  17:16,  17:21,  17:24,  17:25,  18:2,  18:6,  18:7,  19:1,  19:10,  19:13,  19:29,  21:20,  23:9,  26:1,  26:3,  26:4,  26:5,  26:6,  26:7,  26:8,  26:9,  26:10,  26:11,  26:12,  28:26,  29:11, 29:20

 iwwelet (אִוֶֶּלֶת, 200), “foolishness; stupidity.”  “foolishness” in the sense of violating God’s law, or “sin” (Ps. 38:5). The word also describes the activities and life-style of the man who ignores the instructions of wisdom (Prov. 5:23). In another nuance, the noun means “thoughtless.” Hence,  iwwelet describes the way a young person is prone to act (Prov. 22:15) and the way any fool or stupid person chatters (Prov. 15:2). WEV

Translated 23 times as: 8 (foolish foolishly, foolishness),  15 (folly) –  Proverbs 5:23,  12:23,  13:16,  14:1,  14:8,  14:17,  14:18,  14:24,  14:29,  15:2,  15:14,  15:21,  16:22,  17:12,  18:13,  19:3,  22:15,  24:9,  26:4,  26:5,  26:11,  27:22

ewil (אֱוִיל, 191), “fool” is a morally undesirable individual who despises wisdom and discipline (Prov. 1:7; 15:5). He mocks guilt (Prov. 14:9), and is quarrelsome (Prov. 20:3) and licentious (Prov. 7:22). Trying to give him instruction is futile (Prov. 16:22). generally lacks wisdom; indeed, wisdom is beyond his grasp (Prov. 24:7). WEV

Translated 19 times as: 4 (foolish), 15 (fool, fools, fool’s)  – Proverbs 1:7,  7:22,  10:8,  10:10,  10:14,  10:21,  11:29,  12:15,  12:16,  14:3,  14:9,  15:5,  16:22,  17:28,  20:3,  24:7,  27:3,  27:22,  29:9

nābāl (5036,  נָבָל )   the term nābāl includes the concepts associated with kĕsîl and ʾĕwîl (q.v.), and also emphasizes being ignoble and disgraceful, a downright boor. Insensibility to God, as well as a moral insensibility, the mind closed to reason. TWOT

Translated 3 times as: (fool)  – Proverbs 17:7,  17:21,  30:22

A brief study of the contrasts between the fool and the wise man.

The Fool in Relation to Truth

Proverbs 1:7 despises wisdom (191, ewil)

Proverbs 1:22 hates knowledge (3684, kecil)

Proverbs 10:18 circulates slander (3684, kecil)

Proverbs 26:7,9 misuses truth (3684, kecil)

Compare with the Wise man – Proverbs 1:5

The Fool in Relation to Sin

Proverbs 10:23 finds pleasure in it (3684, kecil)

Proverbs 13:19 feels at home in evil  (3684, kecil)

Proverbs 14:9  jeers at sin (191, ewil)

Compare with the Wise man Proverbs 8:13,16:6  Ps 119:101 , 104

The Fool in Relation to Correction

Proverbs 17:10 deflects, never learns from it (3684, kecil)

Proverbs 27:22 impervious to correction (191, ewil)

Compare with the Wise man Proverbs 9:8, 19:25

The Fool in Relation to Possessions

Proverbs 21:20 squanders (3684, kecil)

Compare with the Wise man Proverbs 15:16

The Fool in Relation to Emotions

Proverbs 20:3  ready to quarrel (191, ewil)

Proverbs 29:8, 11 temperamental (3684, kecil)

Compare with the Wise man  Proverbs 19:11

The Fool in Relation to Speech

Proverbs 15:2 windbag  (3684, kecil)

Proverbs 18:2 vacuous  (3684, kecil)

Compare with the Wise man  Proverbs 10:19, 12:18

The Fool in Relation to Affections

Proverbs 1:32 revels in complacency  (3684, kecil)

Proverbs 26:11 desire trumps discernment  (3684, kecil)

Compare with the Wise man Proverbs 4:6, 10:23, Psalms 119:97

The Fool in Relation to Others

Proverbs 10:1 causes grief to parents (3684, kecil)

Proverbs 13:20 causes harm to friends (3684, kecil)

Proverbs 26:6, 10 torments employers (3684, kecil)

Compare with the Wise man  Proverbs 11:11, 16:20, 20:7

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