Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge, that I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth...
-- Proverbs 22:20 (KJV)

In the KJV of this verse, the Hebrew word 'Shalosh' is translated as "excellent things.' However, most other translations, as well as Strong's Concordance, defines that Hebrew word as "a threefold measure, a triple."

This seems to give the verse the meaning: "Have not I written to thee a threefold measure in counsels and knowledge.

So, what is this threefold measure, or triple?

  • It's possible that the idea of threefold or many sayings (testimonies... witnesses...) is the basis for Paul's statement in 2 Cor 13:1, "This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three awitnesses shall every word be established" (KJV). However, this questions might be better asked at [ Biblical Hermeneutics.SE](hermeneutics.stackexchange.com). They specialize in analyzing the ancient words and meanings.
    – JBH
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 17:05

1 Answer 1


After comparing this verse with the New International Version and the New Living Translation Bible, it seems that the meaning of the Hebrew word used is uncertain. Both the NIV and the NLT translate that particular word as “thirty sayings.” The NLT Study Bible notes acknowledge that some Bibles prefer to translate the word as “excellent sayings.” The notes then give this explanation as to why they say “thirty sayings”:

“Early scribes noticed that the Hebrew word for thirty has been written in an unusual form (shlshwm) rather than the usual form (shlyshwm). All the early translations of the Old Testament (e.g., Greek Septuagint, Latin Vulgate, Syriac Peshitta) read it as thirty.”

From Proverbs 22:22 up to and including Proverbs 24:22 are those thirty wise sayings. From Proverbs 24:23-34 there are more sayings of the wise.

It seems that this is a literary device employed within Proverbs where a number of wise sayings are recorded (10:1-31:31).

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