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In the names Eve, Cain, Seth, Noah, &c. before alluded to; in the appellation Nabal ; in the ænigmatical names in the first chapter of Hosea; in the descriptive names given to places; as, Beersheba, Jehovah Jireh, Peniel, Bethel, Gilgal ;* and in many other instances, the meaning of the terms is either explained, or the circumstances are mentioned which led to their selection. When Solomon is called Jedidiah, it is added, that it was “because of the Lord;" and when he styles himself Koheleth, an explanatory clause is annexed, describing himself “the son of David, king of Jerusalem.” But if Solomon be meant by the titles Agur and Lemuel, he is so called without any statement of the reasons for their application, and without any explanation of their import; a circumstance unusual with the sacred writers, and the reverse to what is practised in the book of Proverbs, where his proper name, “Solomon,” is attributed to him in three different places.+
Nor is anything characteristic of the Jewish Monarchs discoverable in the terms themselves. Jakeh, which denotes obedient, is no more applicable to
David than to Nathan, or any other personage of eminent worth and piety among the Israelites. The name of Agur is not of easy explanation; some giving it the sense of recollectus, that is, recovered from his errors, and become penitent; an explanation more applicable to David than to Solomon.* Simonis, in his Lexicon, says, it may, perhaps, denote “him who applies to the study of wisdom;" an interpretation very suitable to the royal Philosopher, but not supported by adequate authority; and in his Onomasticum he explains it in a different manner.t Others suppose that it means collector ; though it has been argued, that, as it has a passive form, it cannot have an active sense.I But this is not a valid objection, as several examples may be produced from the Bible of a similar form with an active signification. If such be its meaning, it is little suitable to Solomon, who was not the collector or compiler, but the author of the Proverbs. With respect to the name Lemuel; it signifies, one that is for God, or devoted to God;
* Poli Synop. Cocceii Lex. Heb. ed. Schulz, in 78 and op'. Witsii Miscel. Sac. lib. i. cap. 18, $ 27.
+ “ 718, collectus, scil. ad reliquos liberos, vel ex Arab. in premium datus, repensus."-Onomast. p. 416.
Gussetii Commentarii Ling. Heb. in 700. Ś See the note chap. vii. 30.
and is not, therefore, peculiarly descriptive of Solomon.* It appears, then, that nothing can be inferred from the signification of the names Agur and Lemuel in support of the conjecture, that they are appellations of Solomon.t
The contents, likewise, of the two chapters in question strongly militate against this hypothesis. The second and third verses of the thirtieth chapter do not accord with the character of Solomon. They may, I am aware, be so paraphrased as only to imply a modest confession of native ignorance and imbecility while unenlightened by inspiration; a confession which might drop from the tongue of any
* Bat Schultens contends, that Lemuel signifies the same as Jedidiah, a name given to Solomon by the prophet Nathan, 2 Sam. xii. 25 ; and, in proof of this position, he derives Lemuel from 3x Deus, and the Arabic w injecit manum rei et totam cepit, as it is explained in Golius, (Lex. Arab. p. 2160.) Hence, says Schultens, LA RID), et suppresso ex lege Analogiæ priori Aleph, sinh signat carrissimum Dei peculium, sive eum quem sibi totum vindicavit.- (Comment. in Prov. xxxi. 1.) This far-fetched etymology will, I think, have few supporters: besides, to derive a word partly from Hebrew, and partly from Arabic, I cannot but consider as a kind of etymological dreaming. Far preferable is it to take in as an expletive added to %; and hence brends is the same as bob, i. e. that is God's, or devoted to God.-Poli Synop. Simonis, Onomast. p. 503.
+ A philological argument respecting this question is discussed in the note to ch, xxxi. 2.
prophet or inspired teacher: but let the reader judge whether, in the natural and unforced sense of the words, Solomon could say of himself, “Surely I am more brutish than any man, and have not the understanding of a man. I neither learned wisdom, nor have the knowledge of the holy:" and whether this does not contradict his own express declaration, “Lo, I am come to great estate, and have gotten more wisdom than all they that have been before me in Jerusalem ; yea, my heart hath great experience of wisdom and knowledge."*
The thoughts and sentiments of the thirty-first chapter have Lemuel's mother for their author; and Lemuel can only be considered as the publisher, having, most likely, written them down and given them publicity. Some writers, not content with extenuating the conduct of Bathsheba, have emblazoned her character with excessive eulogy ;t but, however guiltless she may have been in the destruction of Uriah, and with whatever excuses her connexion with David may be varnished over, (though no softenings, no art can dispossess adultery of its criminality,) yet this is certain, that she is not distinguished by the sacred historian for inspired knowledge and superior wisdom; and it is not probable, that she would presume to give dictatorial advice to a son who was trained by so wise and excellent a father as David, and who, probably, was under the tutorage of the prophet Nathan. Still less likely is it, that her maternal admonitions, whatever they might have been, would be recorded by her son, who was so eminent for wisdom, and so much better qualified to deliver lessons worthy of being transmitted to posterity.
* Ecclesiastes, i. 16. + Delany's Life of David, lib. iv. cap. 21.
When all these circumstances are taken into consideration, together with the extreme improbability that Solomon should be denominated three times by his proper name, and afterwards, in the same work, by two different ænigmatical names, we are fully warranted in rejecting the notion, that the wise Monarch is designed by the appellations Agur and Lemuel. And it seems most reasonable, as before observed, to consider Agur and Lemuel as real personages: the former, the author of the thirtieth chapter; the latter, the publisher of the thirty-first; but with whose history we are entirely unacquainted.
The canonical authority of the book of Proverbs is attested by its reception among the sacred writings