English blog

sophia – what is wisdom?

24-09-2012 - Posted by Andre Piet

We probably all recognize the Greek word for wisdom: sophia. Best known by the word philosophy: affection for wisdom. What, however, is hardly known is that this Greek word likely is derived (see lexicon Spiros Zodhiates) from the Hebrew word tsophiem (Strong 6822). That word comes up fairly often in the “Old Testament” (36x). Three examples:

1Samuel 14:16 … the watchmen of Saul in Gibeah… Song of Songs 7:4 … the tower of Lebanon, watching the face of Damascus. Micah 7:7 Yet I will watch in Yahweh.

Does this Hebrew background not cast an extraordinary light on what sophia, wisdom is? Wisdom has to do with a perspective! It provides a point of view that one owes to the high place on which one stands. With sophia one is in a position to look further than those who simply observe things from an earthly level. Sophia offers an overview of the whole, so that one can see things in a larger perspective. Tsophiem, in the Hebrew Bible, is usually used in connection with observation posts, watchtowers that were built to recognize impending danger. All these facets give a striking picture of what wisdom, according to Scripture, is! Knowledge offers insight, but wisdom gives an overview; a perspective that one owes to Him, Who, through His word, correctly keeps us informed from on high. For “the beginning of wisdom is the fear [respect] of the LORD” (Proverbs 1:7).