When was the Book of Proverbs Written?

When was the Book of Proverbs written? I don’t know, and it doesn’t matter. Permit me to explain my answers.
According to Proverbs 1:1, 10:1, and 25:1, many of the proverbs included in the book come from King Solomon, who flourished in the 10th Century B.C. Proverbs 25:1 adds that some of these Solomonic proverbs were collected by scribes of King Hezekiah, who reigned from 715 to 686 B.C. The Septuagint, which is a Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, includes Proverbs; it dates to approximately 200 B.C. Based on this range of dates, then, the Book of Proverbs was not written before 1000 B.C. or after 200 B.C., but somewhere in the middle. Precisely when is anyone’s guess.
If you think about it, however, the precise date of the writing of Proverbs isn’t all that important. Now, if you were trying to establish the historical reliability of the Gospels, when those four books were written would be important. Or, if you were trying to reconstruct a chronological outline of Paul’s ministry, knowing when he had written each of his letters would be important. But Proverbs is not about what happened in the past but about what should happen right now. It is a book of timeless wisdom, not time-sensitive data.
Consider, for example, what is arguably the foundational saying of the entire book: Proverbs 1:7:
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and discipline.
Is there any age in which this proverb is not true? Is there any time when reverence for God is not the fundamental principle of the truly good life? Has there ever been a day when fools haven’t hated common sense? Obviously not! This proverb is always true.
Another key lesson of the Book of Proverbs is the importance of a good marriage. Now, marriage in the ancient world was significantly different than marriage in the modern world. For example, many of the marriages were arranged. Men had considerably more political and economic power than women. There were often rigidly defined and enforced social roles based on sex. And yet, Proverbs offers timeless advice for starting and maintaining a healthy marriage. For example:
May your fountain be blessed,
and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. (Prov. 5:18)
A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown,
but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones. (Prov. 12:4)
He who finds a wife finds what is good
and receives favor from the Lord. (Prov. 18:22)
Better to live in a desert
than with a quarrelsome and ill-tempered wife. (Prov. 25:19)
Admittedly, these proverbs are written from a man’s point of view. But does that make them any less true? And anyway, just substitute the word husband for wife in any of these proverbs, and the saying is still applicable. Regardless of when the Book of Proverbs was written, in other words, its sentiments are for all times.
After all, common sense has no expiration date.

7 thoughts on “When was the Book of Proverbs Written?

  1. Yes indeed I fully agreed, since the moral content of this Proverb still applicable for our entire life, perhaps most people would like to know, is this valuable moral content was written after Solomon still have a close relationship with God or afterwards.

  2. timing of the proverbs is very important to me, as the bible (old test & new test) are clearly a written record of the evolution of the soul (mind).

  3. I have a question…. Does anyone ever wonder how words that were never needed in society or even commonly used by these people in these times, ever came to be in text written in the 10th century BC? It would be like inserting the word internet in these same written texts or the word television, both words are new to our society and our former ancestors would have no concept of these new nouns.

  4. Let’s be careful that we are not too cavalier regarding our study and love of Scripture. If knowing the time in God’s calendar will draw us closer to the Cross in any way, let us embrace that information as we see more of our Father’s revelation to His children.

  5. I wanted to know when it was written because I want to bring the metaphors in to modern times. For instance, the Proverbs 31 woman made garments or wove, and bought and sold land. What was the social significance of that in her time and what would be the equivalent behavior today? I want to better understand the times to apply them to myself, and I think the ancients are often misrepresented as inferior to moderns, especially the women.

    1. Many, if not most, of the proverbs are attributed to King Solomon (Prov. 1:1), which gives a date of early to mid-ninth century B.C. Prov. 25:1 mentions “the men of Hezekiah” as editors of Solomon’s proverbs, so that moves the final form of the book down to late-8th to early 7th century B.C. That would be the earliest possible date for the final form of the book as a whole.

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