Proverbs 30:2

Surely I am more brutish than any man, and have not the understanding of a man.
– Proverbs 30:2

The word for brutish means stupid and can refer to animals as opposed to humans. Agur begins confessing he is more like a dumb beast than a human being in terms of wisdom. Beasts are without spiritual insight or concern, and are rather driven by animal needs such as safety and food (Psalm 73:21-22). The wisdom of Proverbs generally tends to humility (Proverbs 3:5-7; 26:12; 28:26). It could be said that wisdom is unattainable without it.

Proverbs 30:1

Introduction

The book of Proverbs ends with three collections of sayings that cap the book similarly to the beginning in chapters 1-9. Chapter 30 is the collection known as, “The words of Agur.” This collection of sayings is unique in ways form the other wisdom collections in the book. It is more autobiographical and not as generalized. In this regard, the collection reminds us of Ecclesiastes more than other proverbs. These sayings are called a “prophecy,” or oracle. It also contains the only prayer in the book (Proverbs 30:7-9). These sayings also clearly reflect the old covenant law, as there are clear references to four out of ten of the commandments.

The dominant theme of this chapter is the limits of human understanding and the human search for wisdom. Agur seems to acknowledge the noetic effects of the fall on human beings. Agur acknowledges that God’s wisdom had to be brought down to man. He also makes us of Psalms covenantal language for protection and deliverance.

The words of Agur the son of Jakeh, even the prophecy: the man spake unto Ithiel, even unto Ithiel and Ucal,
– Proverbs 30:1

This collection opens with several proper names we have no information about, Agur, Jakeh, Ithiel, and Ucal. Various scholars have tried to find some connection to Solomon, or have sought to take the names as words rather than names. We know there were wisdom sages besides just Solomon (1 Kings 4:30-31), so it’s unnecessary to try to make every wisdom saying somehow coded to Solomon. The attempts at interpreting the names as words has yielded some interesting results, but no coherent translation.

The word for prophecy is most often translated burden. It refers to an oracle from God and is most often used in connection with the prophets. This means the sayings in this collection were given to Agur by revelation.

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