We know that Ezra is supposed to follow Chronicles because the last statement in the last chapter of Chronicles is repeated and elaborated in the first chapter of Ezra.
So how does Proverbs end and Ecclesiastes begin?
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vapor,
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the gates.
The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.
Vapor of vapors, says the Preacher,
vapor of vapors! All is vapor.
I’ve never thought about the order or wisdom books in our English Bibles before. But it looks to me like Proverbs is supposed to be followed by Ecclesiastes. The Proverbs 31 man (not woman) leads to further thought and meditation.
(The Proverbs 31 man is the man who knows what to look for in a woman because he remembers what his mother told him. The Proverbs 31 woman can be derived from the text, but that is not the point. This is King Lemuel’s mother giving her son advice on a wife. Read it for yourself.)
I can’t help wondering if Canticles builds on Ecclesiastes. It certainly seems to extol love as the highest good. Which would fit well with the advice of Ecclesiastes, such as:
Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do.
Let your garments be always white. Let not oil be lacking on your head.
Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.
And what about Psalms? If the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, then wouldn’t Psalms naturally come before Proverbs? Could this be how Solomon himself was prepared to be a wise man?
And then Job could be an introduction to both Psalms and Proverbs, the story of a wise king vindicated from his enemies–subject matter for both Psalms and Proverbs.
One book of wisdom in five movements?