What does Proverbs 8:3 mean?
ESV: beside the gates in front of the town, at the entrance of the portals she cries aloud:
NIV: beside the gate leading into the city, at the entrance, she cries aloud:
NASB: Beside the gates, at the opening to the city, At the entrance of the doors, she cries out:
CSB: Beside the gates leading into the city, at the main entrance, she cries out:
NLT: By the gates at the entrance to the town, on the road leading in, she cries aloud,
KJV: She crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors.
NKJV: She cries out by the gates, at the entry of the city, At the entrance of the doors:
Verse Commentary:
This continues a poetic description of wisdom as a woman, making her presence obvious to mankind. According to the last two verses (Proverbs 8:1–2), her presence is not hidden, and she calls out (Proverbs 8:4) from conspicuous places. Here, she speaks beside the gates at the town's entrance. This is where business and court cases were decided. Wisdom was certainly needed there as the town's elders convened to conduct business and settle legal matters.

Solomon knew by personal experience that wisdom is needed to settle legal matters. He had asked the Lord for the wisdom to govern the Lord's people (1 Kings 3:7–9), and the Lord granted his request. After deciding a case between two women over the custody of a child, "all Israel heard of the judgment that the king had rendered, and they stood in awe of the king, because they perceived that the wisdom of God was in him to do justice" (1 Kings 3:28). The apostles carried the gospel to cities, where they urged people to trust in Christ. Those who believed experienced a transformation of mind as well as heart. Their darkened minds were enlightened by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:18).
Verse Context:
Proverbs 8:1–11 comes immediately after a potent warning about a promiscuous, seductive woman. Here, Solomon again presents a woman, this time as wisdom personified (Proverbs 1:20). She calls from everywhere to men to learn prudence and sense. She cites the value of learning from her. Her words are noble, right, true, righteous, and honest. Wisdom is far greater than silver, choice gold, jewels, and everything else that can be compared with her.
Chapter Summary:
In this passage, wisdom is once again imagined as a woman who cries out to be heard (Proverbs 1:20–21). Wisdom extols her own truth and value. Wisdom was part of God's creative power long before even the creation of the universe. The chapter again returns to the many benefits of godly wisdom, before completing those declarations at the start of the next chapter.
Chapter Context:
Thus far in Proverbs, Solomon has spoken about the virtues of wisdom and the need to acquire it and live by it. He has also warned about the dangers of rejecting wisdom. Chapter 7 ended with a description of a promiscuous woman seducing a foolish young man. Now, in chapter 8, he lets wisdom speak, once again personified as a woman. She speaks about her existence before creation and her gift of life to all who find her. This analogy continues into chapter 9.
Book Summary:
Proverbs is best understood in context with the books of Ecclesiastes and Job. In Proverbs, “wisdom” is given in short, simple, general terms. Ecclesiastes represents wisdom based on observation and experience. This often shows how the general principles of the book of Proverbs don’t apply in absolutely every circumstance. Job represents wisdom based on the experience of suffering and injustice. All three come to the conclusion that God does indeed know best, and the most sensible course of action is to follow His will.
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