Proverbs, Book of, a canonical book of the Old Testament, the full title of which is "The Proverbs of Solomon." The Hebrew mashal (rendered by paroimia in the Septuagint and proverbium in the Vulgate) differed from the ordinary "proverb" in that its most essential feature was not point or humour but the conveyance of religious and moral instruction. At first it probably presented in a terse and graphic manner some analogy between the physical world or man's social surroundings and the laws of his inner life (cf. Prov. xxv. 26, "A trampled fountain and a fouled spring is the righteous man who hath given way before the wicked"). In a later and more artificial age it became customary to throw each maxim into the form of a distich, which was frequently antithetic in character (cf. Prov. x. 1, "A wise son maketh a glad father, but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother"). Like all collections of proverbs, the meshley were not the product of a single mind, but the gradual growth of ages. Internal evidence shows that the book comprises at least seven distinct portions, but it is impossible to determine with anything like certainty the comparative age of these or the circumstances of their composition.