Proverbs 8:22–31—Who is referred to as “wisdom” in these verses?

Problem: Many commentators have claimed that the person identified as wisdom in Proverbs 8:22–31 is Jesus, because 1 Corinthians 1:30 states that Jesus is the wisdom of God. However, though the nkjv translates 8:22 as “The Lord possessed me,” the Hebrew uses the word qanah which is usually translated “to create.” If this passage is a reference to Jesus, then why does 8:22 affirm that the Lord created wisdom? If “wisdom” in Proverbs is not a reference to Jesus, then who is it?

Solution: This passage is not a direct reference to any person. Poetic expression often takes an abstract idea and talks about it as if it were a person. This is called personification. The wisdom referred to here is not a reference to Jesus. Rather, it is a personification of the virtue or character of wisdom for the purpose of emphasis and impact. However, since Jesus is the perfect wisdom of God, He is the only one who perfectly personified and exemplified the wisdom spoken of in Proverbs—for “in Whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3).

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.