Folly is the opposite of wisdom. It is not imbecility, insanity, or error. It is wrongheadedness. It has to do with practical insights into the nature of things that lead to success or failure in life. Wisdom and folly in the Bible rest on the principle of adjustment to a higher law for a practical purpose. Folly involves rejection or disregard of the revealed moral and spiritual values on which life is based. The fool sins against his own best interests and rejects God (
is a common word, esp. in Proverbs, conveying the general idea of moral badness. The fool is hasty (
and its cognates are the most frequent words for folly. They are most common in Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. The root indicates thickness, sluggishness, or plumpness. This slow, self-confident person is ignorant (
most common outside the
comes from a root meaning “to be stopped up.” It is generally taken to denote thickheadedness. However, it denotes more than mere foolishness. It is associated with madness (
is from a root that means tasteless, unseasoned, insipid, unseemly. It is used of fish that are not salted. Folly, then, is conceived in terms of that which is absurd and unworthy of human beings (
is used of the simple, the impressionable ones, who are easily led into folly because of their lack of wisdom (
Though fewer words are used, the NT has analogies for most of the OT meanings.
basically means “without understanding.” It is sometimes a madness expressing itself in rage (
also means “ignorant” and “without understanding,” but with a moral as well as an intellectual reference (
reflects the moral reprobation of the OT nebālāh (
describes one as lacking in wisdom (
As folly in the OT accounts was so deeply rooted in the mind and heart of man that only the revealed law could extirpate it, so in the NT man is a victim of folly until the Gospel dawns on him (
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
nabhal, ’ewil, kecil, cakhal and forms; aphron, aphrosune, moros):
I. In the.
In the Chokhmah or Wisdom literature, which, within the Bible, is contained in Job, Proverbs (especially), Ecclesiastes, Canticles, some Psalms and certain portions of the prophetic writings, "fool" and "folly" are frequent and distinctive words. Their significance is best seen in contrast with "Wisdom." This was the outcome of careful observation and long pondering on actual life in the light of religion and the Divine revelation. Wisdom had its seat in God and was imparted to those who "feared" Him ("The fear of Yahweh is the beginning (chief part) of knowledge"
(1) nabhal (
(3) kecil is the word most frequent in Proverbs. It is probably from a root meaning "thickness," "sluggishness," suggesting a slow, self-confident person, but it is used with a wide reference.
(4) cakhal, cekhel, cikhluth, also occur. These are probably from a root meaning "to be stopped up" (Cheyne), and are generally taken as denoting thickheadedness; but they are used in a stronger sense than mere foolishness (compare
(5) pethi, "simple," is only once translated "foolish" (
(6) ba`ar, ’brutish," is translated "foolish" (
(7) taphel, "insipid," "untempered," is translated "foolish" (
(8) toholah (
II. In the Apocrypha.
In the continuation of the Wisdom literature inand Ecclus, "fool" frequently occurs with a signification similar to that in Proverbs; in The we have aphron (12:24; 15:5, etc.), in Ecclesiasticus, moros (18:18; 19:11, etc.; 20:13; 21:16, etc.).
III. In the.
(1) that it is not the vocative of the Greek moros--a word which was applied by Jesus Himself to the Pharisees (
(2) that, as our Lord spake in the Aramaic it is the Greek translation of a word representing the Hebrew nabhal, "vile, or worthless fellow," atheist, etc. (
W. L. Walker