What is the meaning of the seven pillars in Proverbs 9:1?
After reading Proverbs 9:1 many people want to understand what is the meaning of the seven pillars? For the verse says that wisdom “has hewn out her seven pillars.” Our question is what is the meaning of seven pillars in Proverbs 9:1?
Meaning of Proverbs 9:1
Proverbs 9 begins with a description of wisdom, as if wisdom was a woman who had built her home and then prepared a banquet for the naive who desire to gain understanding. Wisdom is a wise woman. As you read verses 1-6 notice how wisdom is pictured as the perfect hostess, who has invited guests to feast and to forsake folly and live by understanding.
Wisdom has built her house,
She has hewn out her seven pillars;
She has prepared her food, she has mixed her wine;
She has also set her table;
She has sent out her maidens, she calls
From the tops of the heights of the city:
“Whoever is naive, let him turn in here!”
To him who lacks understanding she says,
“Come, eat of my food
And drink of the wine I have mixed.
“Forsake your folly and live,
And proceed in the way of understanding.”
Proverbs 9:1-6 (NASB)
First, wisdom has built a house with pillars (v. 1). Second, she has prepared her food for the banquet (v. 2). Third, she sent out the servants to invite guests to the banquet (v. 3). Fourth, verses 4-6 are the invitation. Come, feast and understand.
Meaning of the Seven Pillars
It is always tempting to search for some hidden meaning in Scripture. Christians read a passage and then imagine there is a deep, special meaning. This often leads to error. This is true about the meaning of the seven pillars. Many different “hidden” meanings have been created by others. For example, Crawford H. Toy provides the following list of the various views of others about the meaning of the seven pillars:
– Seven firmaments or heavens
– Seven days of creation
– Seven gifts of the Holy Spirit
– Seven eras of the church
– Seven sacraments
– Seven first chapters of Proverbs
– Seven liberal arts
– Prophets, apostles and martyrs
But the most obvious meaning of the seven pillars is explained right in the verse (Proverbs 9:1). The verse explains the significance of the seven pillars. Verse 1 says, “Wisdom has built her house, she has hewn out her seven pillars.” The Hebrew word for “hewn” is haseb. The word is sometimes used for stone-cutters (Job 19:24). The word is a technical term referring to a stonemason. That is, the seven pillars in verse 1 are real pillars that she added to her house to enhance its appearance.
Bruce Waltke explains that the seven pillars of the house would probably be in a courtyard. The pillars would also indicate that the house was very large and elegant.
. . . probably belonged to the open room facing the inner courtyard and held up that section of the roof, according to the archaeological data of Iron Age Israel. The length of the room and the overall size of the house determined the number of supporting pillars (typically three). An Arabic proverb says of a rich man: “His house stands on twelve pillars.” Considering the restrictions of space in ancient Israel’s cities, seven supporting pillars points to an exceptionally large, grand, and stately structure . . .
That is, the meaning of the seven pillars is that the house of wisdom is an elegant and large mansion. Pillars lend support to the structure of the house and the number seven in scripture refers to perfection. The seven pillars points to the elegant perfection in the house of Wisdom.
Therefore, Proverbs 9:1 is telling us that wisdom is truly wealthy and sophisticated. Wisdom offers perfection. Her house is perfect and what she offers is perfect. Wisdom lives in luxury! And she invites you to come and banquet with her! Therefore, read the book of Proverbs and gain wisdom.
1. Crawford H. Toy. Proverbs. The International Critical Commentary. T. & T. Clark. 1988. p. 184.
2. Ibid. p. 185.
3. Bruce K. Waltke. The Book of Proverbs Chapters 1-15. The New International Commentary on the Old Testament. Eerdmans Publishing. 2004. p. 433.