“How long, O naïve ones, will you love naivety?
How long will mockers delight in mocking,
and fools hate knowledge? Bible see other translations

“How long.” This begins the speech of Lady Wisdom, which continues until the end of the chapter.

“hate.” In this context “hate” has a number of different possible meanings, or a range of possible meanings, because there are many different kinds of fools. Some fools are hostile to knowledge, while others simply ignore it.

When the English reader sees the word “hate” in the Bible, it is natural to think in terms of the common dictionary definition of “hate,” which is an intense aversion, an intense emotional dislike, or an intense hostility to something. For example, the Penguin Dictionary of Psychology defines hate as a “deep, enduring, intense emotion expressing animosity, anger, and hostility towards a person, group, or object.” But the Hebrew and Greek words for “hate” have a much broader range of meaning than the English word, and this can confuse the English reader.

The most common Hebrew word for hate is sane (#08130 שָׂנֵא) and the Greek word for hate is miseō (#3404 μισέω). The word “hate” in Hebrew and Greek can run the full range of meanings from intense emotional hostility to simple avoidance. The uses of “hate” listed below show some of the range of meanings that the Hebrew and Greek words have in the Bible.

  1. “Hate” in the Hebrew and Greek languages can have the same basic meaning as it does in English: “an intense emotional dislike and hostility” that can result in acting against someone. Psalm 11:5 says that God “hates” those who love violence; He has an intense dislike for, and hostility toward, them. Genesis 37:4 says Joseph’s brothers “hated” Joseph, which is why they were going to kill him. Proverbs 6:16-19 says God hates pride, lying, hands that shed innocent blood, etc. 1 John 3:15 says a person who hates is a murderer, because if you genuinely hate someone you “assassinate” their character and even sometimes physically kill them.
  2. “Hate” can mean “to have nothing to do with; or to have a lack of love and kindly sentiment toward someone or something.” 2 Chron. 19:2 says the people of Israel “hate” Yahweh, but most of them simply had nothing to do with Him and showed no kindness to Him. Proverbs 19:7 says that a poor man is “hated” by his brothers because he is avoided by them (and they may be disgusted by him). Proverbs 11:15 says a wise person “hates” putting up collateral for someone else, in the sense that he avoids it. Proverbs 25:17 says a neighbor who visits too often becomes “hated,” i.e., avoided and resented. Isaiah 60:15 says the city of Jerusalem was “hated” because it was neglected and avoided.
  3. “Hate” can refer to a feeling of disgust, repulsion, or abhorrence. Isaiah 1:14 says that God “hated” the Israelites' festivals; they disgusted Him. 2 Samuel 13:15 says that after Amnon raped Tamar, he “hated” her; his “love” (attraction) turned to disgust and repulsion and he then rejected and ignored her. Psalm 119:163 says the psalmist “hates” lying, but loves the Law, the Torah; lying repulsed him, while he gave his attention to the Law (he “loves” it). Romans 7:15 says Paul did the things that he “hated;” that is, he did things that disgusted him. Jude 1:23 says we are to “hate,” be disgusted with and repulsed by, even clothes that have been stained by sin.
  4. “Hate” is used to mean to “ignore,” “neglect,” “love less,” and it is often used that way when being compared to “love.” People “hate” (ignore and neglect) someone or something because they “love” (give attention to, support) someone or something else more. In the same way, “love” can be used in the sense or with the overtones of “to choose” while “hate” can refer to someone or something being not chosen. Genesis 29:31 and 29:33 say Jacob’s wife Leah was “hated,” because Jacob ignored her and paid attention to Rachel. Similarly, Deuteronomy 21:15 says a man with two wives may “love” one and “hate” the other, that is, choose the one to give attention to while paying less attention to, or even ignoring, the other. Jesus said in Matthew 6:24 that a person cannot have two masters or he will “hate” (ignore) the one and “love” (pay attention to; support) the other. Luke 14:26 says that a person must “hate” his family to be a disciple of Jesus, that is, he has to care more for Jesus than for them. John 12:25 says that we should not “love” our life in this world, that is, give it all our attention; instead we are to “hate” our life, that is, ignore things that we want and even be willing to give up life itself. When the Bible says that God “loved” Jacob but “hated” Esau (Mal. 1:2-3; Rom. 9:13), it means God chose Jacob over Esau to be the line to the Messiah (God had to choose one to lead to Christ and He chose Jacob), and then gave “Jacob” (“Israel”), more attention and support than He gave “Esau” (“Edom”).
  5. “Hate” can simply mean not acting on behalf of someone, leaving them alone, although it may include doing things that hurt or hinder them. Malachi 1:3 says that God hated Esau but loved Jacob. In that verse, “Esau” refers to the country of Edom, founded by Esau, and “Jacob” refers to Israel, which Jacob founded. God actively supported Israel throughout its history, but ignored Edom and left it alone, thus, He is said to “hate” it. Proverbs 13:24 says that the one who fails to discipline his children “hates” them because if a person fails to discipline his children he is neglecting them, leaving them alone, and a child left to himself will eventually bring shame to the family (Prov. 29:15).

Often the word “hate” has a combination of the above meanings. For example, when God tells us to “hate” evil and love good (Amos 5:15), He wants us to have nothing to do with evil, be disgusted and repulsed by it, and actively work to eradicate it. That extensive meaning goes for verses such as Deuteronomy 16:22, where God says he “hates” the idolatrous sacred pillars. Ecclesiastes 3:8 is another verse that lumps many different meanings into the one use of “hate.” It says there is a time to “love” and a time to “hate,” but that can mean everything from there being a proper time to engage in helpful or hostile activity toward someone or something; a proper time to be delighted in or disgusted by someone or something; or a proper time to pay attention to or neglect and ignore someone or something.

Sometimes the exact nature of the “hate” in a given context is unknown, or the context covers such a large number of individuals that “hate” includes all the different meanings that apply to the different people in the group. For example, when Moses was moving the camp of God through the desert toward the Promised Land, he said, “let those who hate you flee before you” (Num. 10:35). While there were people in Canaan who actually “hated” Yahweh in the sense they were actively hostile to Him, the majority of the Canaanites were simply engaged in the worship of other gods and did not know Him or care about Yahweh. Given the range of meaning of “hate,” all those unbelieving Canaanites “hated” Yahweh even though some were emotionally and physically hostile to Him while others simply ignored Him.

The word “hate” is a good example of a word that has a specific meaning in English but does not have that same meaning in the Bible, which is why we have to learn the language, customs, and idioms of the Bible.

Commentary for: Proverbs 1:22