What does, “bray a fool,” mean?


by Shawn Brasseaux

Proverbs 27:22: “Though thou shouldest bray a fool in a mortar among wheat with a pestle, yet will not his foolishness depart from him.”

The “mortar” here is a bowl used for grinding or crushing, whereas the “pestle” is a club-like tool with a rounded end used to smash the contents of the mortar. Drugs, spices, and grains are pounded or pulverized in this fashion to reduce them to powder form (extracting from them whatever substances are desired). In the case of “braying a fool,” the concept is one of intense treatment in such a procedure. The Scriptures are graphic indeed!

“Bray” is related to the word “break.” A fool could be placed into a mortar and pounded with a pestle, crushed to small pieces, but his foolishness would not be drawn out from him. It is so entangled with his internal makeup that it cannot leave him, no matter how minutely or greatly you dissect him. Folly—silliness—is at his most basic level. Regardless of what you do to him, it cannot be extracted from him.

Remember, the Book of Proverbs is God’s wisdom for Israel’s believing remnant as it survives Satan’s evil world system under the Antichrist (yet future from us). The “fool” in Proverbs is an unbeliever, someone who refuses to believe and follow the true Messiah/Christ (Jesus). On the other hand, the “wise” man in Proverbs is the believer in Jesus, having used spiritual discernment to recognize the Antichrist as false. See also Matthew 7:24-29 and Luke 6:46-49.

Observe the first seven verses of Proverbs: “[1] The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel; [2] To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding; [3] To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity; [4] To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion. [5] A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels: [6] To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings. [7] The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.These statements set the tone for the remainder of the Book of Proverbs—the conflict between right and wrong, good and evil, wisdom and folly, knowledge and ignorance, God and Satan, Jesus Christ and the Antichrist, and so on.

Also see:
» Why is the Bible Book of “Ecclesiastes” thus named?
» How could “wise” King Solomon let foreign women deceive him?
» What does “pernicious” mean?