|Noah Webster's Dictionary|
1. (n.) The state of being foolish; want of good sense; levity, weakness, or derangement of mind.
2. (n.) A foolish act; an inconsiderate or thoughtless procedure; weak or light-minded conduct; foolery.
3. (n.) Scandalous crime; sin; specifically, as applied to a woman, wantonness.
4. (n.) The result of a foolish action or enterprise.
Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia
fool nabhal, 'ewil, kecil, cakhal and forms; aphron, aphrosune, moros):
I. In the Old Testament.
Taking the words generally, apart from the Wisdom literature, we find nabhal frequently translated "fool" and nebhalah, "folly"; nabhal, however, denotes a wicked person, an evil character, "shamelessly immoral," equivalent to "a son of Belial" (Cheyne), rather than a merely "foolish" person, and nebhalah, "wickedness," "shameless impropriety," rather than simple folly. We have almost a definition of nabhal in Isaiah 32:6: "For the fool will speak folly, and his heart will work iniquity, to practice profaneness, and to utter error against Yahweh, to make empty the soul of the hungry, and to cause the drink of the thirsty to fail." Abigail described her husband, Nabhal, as "a son of Belial" (the Revised Version (British and American) "worthless fellow"), "for as his name is, so is he" (1 Samuel 25:25), and what we read of him bears out this character. Other occurrences of the words support the above meaning; they are generally associated with some form of wickedness, frequently with base and unnatural lewdness (Genesis 34:7 Deuteronomy 22:21 Joshua 7:15 Judges 19:23, 14; Judges 20:6, 10 2 Samuel 13:12). When in Psalm 14:1; Psalm 53:1 it is said, "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God," it is followed by the statement, "They are corrupt, they have done abominable works," showing that more than "folly" is implied. In Isaiah 32:5, 6 the King James Version nabhal is translated "vile person" and nebhalah "villany," the Revised Version (British and American) "fool" and "folly," Jeremiah 29:23; halal, implying loud boasting is in the King James Version translated "foolish," but it means, rather, "arrogant," which the Revised Version (British and American) adopts (Psalm 5:5; Psalm 73:3; Psalm 75:4, margin "fools"); cakhal, "a fool," also occurs (Genesis 31:28 1 Samuel 13:13, etc.) for which word see (4) below; also ya'al "to be empty," "to be or become foolish" (Numbers 12:11 Isaiah 19:13 Jeremiah 5:4; Jeremiah 50:36).
2. The Wisdom Literature:
In the Chokhmah or Wisdom literature, which, within the Bible, is contained in Job, Proverbs (especially), Ecclesiastes, Canticles, some Psalms and certain portions of the prophetic writings, "fool" and "folly" are frequent and distinctive words. Their significance is best seen in contrast with "Wisdom." This was the outcome of careful observation and long pondering on actual life in the light of religion and the Divine revelation. Wisdom had its seat in God and was imparted to those who "feared" Him ("The fear of Yahweh is the beginning (chief part) of knowledge" Proverbs 1:7). Such wisdom was the essence of life, and to be without it was to walk in the way of death and destruction. The fool was he who was thoughtless, careless, conceited, self-sufficient, indifferent to God and His Will, or who might even oppose and scoff at religion and wise instruction. See WISDOM. Various words are used to designate "the fool" and his "folly."
(1) nabhal (Job 2:10; Job 30:8 Psalm 53:1 Proverbs 17:7-21); nebhalah (Job 42:8 Isaiah 9:17) (see above).
(2) 'ewil, one of the commonest, the idea conveyed by which is that of one who is hasty, impatient, self-sufficient (Proverbs 12:15; Proverbs 15:5; Proverbs 16:22); despising advice and instruction (Proverbs 1:7; Proverbs 14:9; Proverbs 24:7); ready to speak and act without thinking (Proverbs 10:14; Proverbs 12:16; Proverbs 20:3); quick to get angry, quarrel and cause strife (Proverbs 11:29; Proverbs 14:17 'iwweleth; 29:9); unrestrained in his anger (Job 5:2 Proverbs 17:12); silly, stupid even with brute stupidity (Proverbs 7:22; Proverbs 26:11; Proverbs 27:22; compare Isaiah 19:11 Jeremiah 4:22); he is associated with "transgression" (Psalm 107:17 Proverbs 13:15; Proverbs 17:18, 19), with "sin" (Proverbs 24:9), with the "scoffer" (same place); 'iwweleth, "foolishness" occurs (Psalm 38:5; Psalm 69:5 Proverbs 13:16; "folly," Psalm 14:8, 24, 29, etc.).
(3) kecil is the word most frequent in Proverbs. It is probably from a root meaning "thickness," "sluggishness," suggesting a slow, self-confident person, but it is used with a wide reference.
Self-confidence appears (Proverbs 14:16; Proverbs 28:26); ignorance (Ecclesiastes 2:14); hate of instruction (Proverbs 1:22; Proverbs 18:2); thoughtlessness (Proverbs 10:23; Proverbs 17:24); self-exposure (Proverbs 14:33; Proverbs 15:2; Proverbs 18:7; 29:11 Ecclesiastes 5:1; Ecclesiastes 10:12); anger and contention (Proverbs 18:6; Proverbs 19:1 Ecclesiastes 7:9); rage (Proverbs 14:16; Proverbs 17:12); indolence and improvidence (Ecclesiastes 4:5 Proverbs 21:20); silly merriment (Ecclesiastes 7:4, 5, 6); brutishness (Proverbs 26:11; compare Psalm 49:10; Psalm 92:6); it is associated with slander (Proverbs 10:18), with evil (Proverbs 13:19).
(4) cakhal, cekhel, cikhluth, also occur. These are probably from a root meaning "to be stopped up" (Cheyne), and are generally taken as denoting thickheadedness; but they are used in a stronger sense than mere foolishness (compare 1 Samuel 26:21 2 Samuel 24:10, etc.). These words do not occur in Prov, but in Ecclesiastes 2:12; Ecclesiastes 7:25; cikhluth is associated with "madness" ("Wickedness is folly, and. foolishness is madness").
(5) pethi, "simple," is only once translated "foolish" (Proverbs 9:6 the King James Version).
(6) ba`ar, 'brutish," is translated "foolish" (Psalm 73:22 the King James Version, the Revised Version (British and American) "brutish").
(7) taphel, "insipid," "untempered," is translated "foolish" (Lamentations 2:14); tiphlah, "insipidity" (Job 1:22, "foolishly," the English Revised Version, "with foolishness"; Job 24:12, "folly"; Jeremiah 23:13, "folly," the King James Version margin "unsavoury, or, an absurd thing").
(8) toholah (Job 4:18: "Behold, he putteth no trust in his servants; and his angels he chargeth with folly" (Delitzsch, "imperfection," others, "error"), the King James Version margin "nor in his angels in whom he put light").
II. In the Apocrypha.
In the continuation of the Wisdom literature in The Wisdom of Solomon and Ecclus, "fool" frequently occurs with a signification similar to that in Proverbs; in The Wisdom of Solomon we have aphron (12:24; 15:5, etc.), in Ecclesiasticus, moros (18:18; 19:11, etc.; 20:13; 21:16, etc.).
III. In the New Testament.
In the New Testament we have various words translated "fool," "foolish," "folly," etc., in the ordinary acceptation of these terms; aphron, "mindless," "witless" (Luke 11:40; Luke 12:20 1 Corinthians 15:36); aphrosune, "want of mind or wisdom" (2 Corinthians 11:1 Mark 7:22); anoia, "want of understanding" (2 Timothy 3:9); moraino, "to make dull," "foolish" (Romans 1:22 1 Corinthians 1:20); moros, "dull," "stupid" (Matthew 7:26; Matthew 23:17; Matthew 25:2 1 Corinthians 1:25, 27); moria, "foolishness" (1 Corinthians 1:18 etc.); morologia, "foolish talk" (Ephesians 5:4).
In Matthew 5:22 our Lord says: "Whosoever shall say (to his brother), Thou fool (more), shall be in danger of the hell of fire (the Gehenna of fire)." Two explanations of this word are possible:
(1) that it is not the vocative of the Greek moros-a word which was applied by Jesus Himself to the Pharisees (Matthew 23:17, 19), but represents the Hebrew morah, "rebel" applied in Numbers 20:10 by Moses to the people, "ye rebels" (for which he was believed to be excluded from the promised land; compare Numbers 20:12; hence, we have in the Revised Version, margin "or moreh, a Hebrew expression of condemnation"); or
(2) that, as our Lord spake in the Aramaic it is the Greek translation of a word representing the Hebrew nabhal, "vile, or worthless fellow," atheist, etc. (Psalm 14:1; Psalm 53:1).
W. L. Walker
Folly (68 Occurrences)
Mark 7:22 covetousness, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, reviling, pride, reckless folly: (WEY DBY NIV)
Romans 1:21 Because, knowing God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but fell into folly in their thoughts, and their heart without understanding was darkened: (DBY)
1 Corinthians 1:18 For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are dying, but to us who are saved it is the power of God. (See RSV)
1 Corinthians 1:21 For seeing that in the wisdom of God, the world through its wisdom didn't know God, it was God's good pleasure through the foolishness of the preaching to save those who believe. (See RSV)
1 Corinthians 1:23 but we preach Christ crucified; a stumbling block to Jews, and foolishness to Greeks, (See RSV)
1 Corinthians 2:14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him; and he cannot know them because they are spiritually discerned; (DBY RSV)
1 Corinthians 3:19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, "He has taken the wise in their craftiness." (See RSV)
2 Corinthians 11:1 Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me. (KJV DBY WBS YLT)
2 Corinthians 11:17 What I am now saying, I do not say by the Lord's command, but as a fool in his folly might, in this reckless boasting. (WEY DBY)
2 Corinthians 11:21 I use the language of self-disparagement, as though I were admitting our own feebleness. Yet for whatever reason any one is 'courageous' --I speak in mere folly--I also am courageous. (WEY DBY)
2 Timothy 3:9 But they will proceed no further. For their folly will be evident to all men, as theirs also came to be. (WEB KJV WEY ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
2 Peter 2:16 but had reproof of his own wickedness the dumb ass speaking with man's voice forbad the folly of the prophet. (DBY)
2 Peter 2:18 For, uttering great swelling words of emptiness, they entice in the lusts of the flesh, by licentiousness, those who are indeed escaping from those who live in error; (See RSV)
Genesis 34:7 The sons of Jacob came in from the field when they heard it. The men were grieved, and they were very angry, because he had done folly in Israel in lying with Jacob's daughter; a which thing ought not to be done. (WEB KJV ASV WBS YLT RSV)
Deuteronomy 22:21 then they shall bring out the young lady to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death with stones, because she has done folly in Israel, to play the prostitute in her father's house: so you shall put away the evil from the midst of you. (WEB KJV ASV WBS YLT NAS RSV)
Joshua 7:15 And it shall be, that he that is taken with the accursed thing shall be burnt with fire, he and all that he hath: because he hath transgressed the covenant of the LORD, and because he hath wrought folly in Israel. (KJV ASV WBS YLT)
Judges 19:23 The man, the master of the house, went out to them, and said to them, "No, my brothers, please don't act so wickedly; seeing that this man is come into my house, don't do this folly. (WEB KJV ASV WBS YLT NAS)
Judges 19:24 Behold, here is my virgin daughter and his concubine. I will bring them out now. Humble them, and do with them what seems good to you; but to this man don't do any such folly." (WEB ASV NAS)
Judges 20:6 I took my concubine, and cut her in pieces, and sent her throughout all the country of the inheritance of Israel; for they have committed lewdness and folly in Israel. (WEB KJV ASV WBS YLT)
Judges 20:10 and we will take ten men of one hundred throughout all the tribes of Israel, and one hundred of one thousand, and a thousand out of ten thousand, to get food for the people, that they may do, when they come to Gibeah of Benjamin, according to all the folly that they have worked in Israel." (WEB KJV ASV WBS YLT)
1 Samuel 25:25 Please don't let my lord regard this worthless fellow, even Nabal; for as his name is, so is he. Nabal is his name, and folly is with him; but I, your handmaid, didn't see the young men of my lord, whom you sent. (WEB KJV ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
2 Samuel 13:12 She answered him, "No, my brother, do not force me! For no such thing ought to be done in Israel. Don't you do this folly. (WEB KJV ASV WBS YLT RSV)
Job 1:22 In all this Job hath not sinned, nor given folly to God. (YLT)
Job 4:18 Behold, he put no trust in his servants; and his angels he charged with folly: (KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS)
Job 24:12 From out of the populous city, men groan. The soul of the wounded cries out, yet God doesn't regard the folly. (WEB KJV ASV WBS NAS)
Job 30:8 Sons of folly -- even sons without name, They have been smitten from the land. (YLT)
Job 42:8 Now therefore, take to yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you, for I will accept him, that I not deal with you according to your folly. For you have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job has." (WEB KJV ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Psalms 38:5 Stunk -- become corrupt have my wounds, Because of my folly. (YLT NAS NIV)
Psalms 49:13 This their way is their folly: yet their posterity approve their sayings. Selah. (KJV ASV DBY WBS YLT)
Psalms 69:5 O God, thou knowest my foolishness; And my sins are not hid from thee. (See JPS NAS RSV NIV)
Psalms 85:8 I will hear what God, Yahweh, will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, his saints; but let them not turn again to folly. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS NIV)
Proverbs 5:23 He will die for lack of instruction. In the greatness of his folly, he will go astray. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Proverbs 9:6 Give up the simple ones and have life, and go in the way of knowledge. (See NAS)
Proverbs 9:13 The foolish woman is clamorous;'she is'simple, and knoweth nothing. (See JPS NAS NIV)
Proverbs 12:23 A prudent man concealeth knowledge; but the heart of the foolish proclaimeth folly. (DBY YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Proverbs 13:16 Every prudent man acts from knowledge, but a fool exposes folly. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Proverbs 14:1 The wisdom of women buildeth their house; but folly plucketh it down with her hands. (DBY RSV)
Proverbs 14:8 The wisdom of the prudent is to think about his way, but the folly of fools is deceit. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT RSV NIV)
Proverbs 14:17 He who is quick to become angry will commit folly, and a crafty man is hated. (WEB YLT)
Proverbs 14:18 The simple inherit folly, but the prudent are crowned with knowledge. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT RSV NIV)
Proverbs 14:24 The crown of the wise is their riches, but the folly of fools crowns them with folly. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Proverbs 14:29 He who is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a quick temper displays folly. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Proverbs 15:2 The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouth of fools gush out folly. (WEB ASV DBY YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Proverbs 15:14 The heart of one who has understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouths of fools feed on folly. (WEB JPS ASV DBY YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Proverbs 15:21 Folly is joy to one who is void of wisdom, but a man of understanding keeps his way straight. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Proverbs 16:22 Understanding is a fountain of life to one who has it, but the punishment of fools is their folly. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Proverbs 17:12 Let a bear robbed of her cubs meet a man, rather than a fool in his folly. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Proverbs 18:13 He who gives answer before he hears, that is folly and shame to him. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Proverbs 19:3 The folly of man distorteth his way, and his heart is irritated against Jehovah. (DBY YLT RSV NIV)
Proverbs 22:15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child: the rod of discipline drives it far from him. (WEB DBY YLT RSV NIV)
Proverbs 24:9 The schemes of folly are sin. The mocker is detested by men. (WEB DBY YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Proverbs 26:4 Don't answer a fool according to his folly, lest you also be like him. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Proverbs 26:5 Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Proverbs 26:11 As a dog that returns to his vomit, so is a fool who repeats his folly. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Proverbs 27:22 If thou shouldest bray a fool in a mortar among wheat with a pestle, yet will not his folly depart from him. (DBY YLT RSV NIV)
Ecclesiastes 1:17 I applied my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also was a chasing after wind. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Ecclesiastes 2:3 I searched in my heart how to cheer my flesh with wine, my heart yet guiding me with wisdom, and how to lay hold of folly, until I might see what it was good for the sons of men that they should do under heaven all the days of their lives. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Ecclesiastes 2:12 I turned myself to consider wisdom, madness, and folly: for what can the king's successor do? Just that which has been done long ago. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Ecclesiastes 2:13 Then I saw that wisdom excels folly, as far as light excels darkness. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Ecclesiastes 7:25 I applied mine heart to know, and to search, and to seek out wisdom, and the reason of things, and to know the wickedness of folly, even of foolishness and madness: (KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Ecclesiastes 10:1 Dead flies cause the oil of the perfumer to send forth an evil odor; so does a little folly outweigh wisdom and honor. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT RSV NIV)
Ecclesiastes 10:6 Folly is set in great dignity, and the rich sit in a low place. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS NAS RSV)
Ecclesiastes 10:13 The beginning of the words of his mouth is folly; and the end of his talk is mischievous madness. (DBY YLT NAS NIV)
Isaiah 9:17 Therefore the Lord will not rejoice over their young men, neither will he have compassion on their fatherless and widows; for everyone is profane and an evildoer, and every mouth speaks folly. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still. (WEB KJV ASV DBY WBS YLT RSV)
Isaiah 32:6 For the fool will speak folly, and his heart will work iniquity, to practice profanity, and to utter error against Yahweh, To make empty the soul of the hungry, and to cause the drink of the thirsty to fail. (WEB ASV YLT RSV NIV)
Jeremiah 23:13 I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria; they prophesied by Baal, and caused my people Israel to err. (WEB KJV ASV DBY WBS YLT)
Jeremiah 29:23 because they have worked folly in Israel, and have committed adultery with their neighbors' wives, and have spoken words in my name falsely, which I didn't command them; and I am he who knows, and am witness, says Yahweh. (WEB ASV YLT RSV)
Lamentations 2:14 Thy prophets have seen vanity and folly for thee; and they have not revealed thine iniquity, to turn away thy captivity; but have seen for thee burdens of falsehood and causes of expulsion. (DBY)