Definitions

Agur

Agur

Agur ben Jakeh (Hebrew: אגור בן יקה) was the compiler of a collection of proverbs found in , which is sometimes known as the Book of Agur or Sayings of Agur. The initial text of the chapter runs as follows (JPS translation), and bears great similarity to . This translation is not universally accepted as correct; see below.

The text (ver. 1) seems to say that he was a "Massaite," the gentilic termination not being indicated in the traditional writing "Ha-Massa. This place has been identified by some Assyriologists with the land of Mash, a district between Judea and Babylonia, and the traces of nomadic or seminomadic life and thought found in and give some support to the hypothesis. Heinrich Graetz, followed by Bickell and Cheyne, conjectures that the original reading is המשל ("Ha-Moshel," = "the collector of proverbs"). The true explanation is still uncertain.

In Rabbinical Literature

"Agur," and the enigmatical names and words which follow in , are interpreted by the Aggadah as epithets of Solomon, playing upon the words as follows: "Agur" denotes "the compiler; the one who first gathered maxims together." "The son of Jakeh" denotes "the one who spat out," that is, "despised" (from קוא, "to spit"), le-Ithiel, "the words of God" (ot, "word"; El, "God"), exclaiming, "I can [ukal] transgress the law against marrying many wives without fear of being misled by them."

Another exposition is that "Agur" means "the one who is brave in the pursuit of wisdom"; "the son of Jakeh" signifies "he who is free from sin" (from naki, "pure"); ha-massa ("the burden"), "he who bore the yoke of God"; le-Ithiel, "he who understood the signs" (ot, "sign") and deeds of God, or he who understood the alphabet of God, that is the creative "letters" (ot, "letter"); we-Ukal, "the master.

Alternate explanations of first verse

Scholars, including Perdue, have considered other meanings for "le-ithiel" and "ukhal". Observing that "it is highly unlikely that the two Hebrew terms refer to personal names", Perdue points out that some better translations for le-ithiel would be "There is no God"; or: "I am weary, O God"; or: "I am not God". "Ve-ukhal" would complement it: "How can I prevail/I am exhausted?".

These interpretations suggest an atheistic viewpoint, which resonates with Agur's other words, but is not consistent with the remainder of Agur's sayings or with the larger message of the Book of Proverbs. Thus, some have speculated that Agur is a "foreign sage from the East" (Perdue, op cit), who is quoted here only to be latter rebuked. In support of this hypothesis, it is worth noting that the names Agur and Jakeh are not seen anywhere else in the Bible or any other Israelite document.

Status as Prophet of Christianity

Agur's question "What is his name or his son's name, if you know it?" was interpreted by several Christian authors as one of the allusions in Old Testament to the coming of the Christ, the Son of God. This viewpoint is also expressed in John Witherspoon's "On the Purity of The Heart," See also "His Son's Name," by Dr. Henry M. Morris of the ICR.

References

  • .
  • Leo G. Perdue: Proverbs (Interpretation, a Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching), Westminster John Knox Press, 2000. (ISBN 0804231168)

Notes

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