1. Contemporary Bible translations provide the means for everyone to read the Bible in their native
tongue. Yet one needs to be mindful that the translation may not reflect the subtle meaning of the Hebrew
term. The Hebrew term for "fool" is such an example. Consult a contemporary dictionary for the non-biblical
definition of "fool."
The Merriam-Webster dictionary lists four definitions for the noun "fool":
1. A person lacking in judgment or prudence.
2. A retainer formerly kept in great households to provide casual entertainment and
commonly dressed in motley with cap, bells, and bauble.
3. One who is victimized or made to appear foolish, a dupe.
4. A person who is harmlessly deranged, lacking in common powers of understanding, or
with a marked propensity or fondness for something.
2. Conduct a word study on the Hebrew terms for "fool" and "foolish" throughout Proverbs to get a sense
of what the biblical term means. To help you in your study, include the Strong’s Number.
#191 ‘ĕvîyl, pronounced ev-veel’, is a term derived from an unused root
that means "to be perverse", or (figuratively) "silly."
#200 ‘ivveleth, pronounced iv-veh’-leth, is a term from #191 ‘ĕvîyl
and means "silliness, folly, foolish."
#3684 kecîyl, pronounced kes-eel', is a term based on #3688 kâcal, and
figuratively means "stupid or silly."
#3688 kâcal, pronounced kaw-sal', is a primitive root and refers to "to be fat",
and figuratively means "silly" or "to be foolish."
#3687 kecîylûwth, pronounced kes-ee;-ooth’, is derived from #3684 kecîyl
and means "silliness (foolish)."
#5036 nâbâl, pronounced naw-bawl', is based on the term from #5034 nâbêl
and means "stupid, wicked (especially impious), or vile person."
#5034 nâbêl, pronounced naw-bale', is a primitive root meaning "to wilt (generally)
to fall away, fail, faint, or (figuratively) to be foolish or (morally) wicked, or (causatively) to despise,
disgrace, make vile, wither."
Within Proverbs, various types of fools are described. There are the simple minded,
gullible, or naive who are open to instruction to the perverse, hardened, and wicked who delight in wrong
behavior. Most of Proverbs’ antithetical parallelisms contrast the wise with the hardened fool, which
emphasize how to live through wise behavior and attitude with how not to live through bad or immoral
behavior and prideful attitude.
Yet it is not by behavior and attitude alone that determines if one is not foolish.
The book of Proverbs emphasizes the importance and priority of God in one’s life and a reliance on God’s
guidance in all things.