Original Research

The concept of monotheism in the Book of Proverbs and an African (Yoruba) perspective

David T. Adamo
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 43, No 1 | a2262 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v43i1.2262 | © 2022 David T. Adamo | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 09 April 2021 | Published: 23 February 2022

About the author(s)

David T. Adamo, Department of Biblical and Ancient Studies, School of Humanities, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa


The uniqueness of the Book of Proverbs among other wisdom books is incontestable because it uses הוהי as the name of God. Its regular use of the name means that the Book is concerned about God’s monotheism. The mention of that proper name (הוהי) 94 times and the generic name םיהלא only twice (this generic name still refers to הוהי), emphasises the concept of monotheism. Monotheism in ancient Israel is not the denial of the existence of other gods, but the exclusive worship of Yahweh as the only one true God. The origin and the meaning of Yahweh although debatable, the majority of scholars believe that it is Exodus 3:13–15. The definition of proverbs although debatable, they can be defined as a traditional saying that gives advice and instruction. It is ‘a relic of ageless tradition’ that contains a pithy structure. Generally, scholars believe that Yoruba religious tradition also holds the fact that Yahweh is monotheistic by the name given to him (Olodumare). Unfortunately, the Yoruba translation of the Hebrew word יהוה is Oluwa instead of Olodumare.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This makes the Yoruba readers of the Book of Proverbs miss this monotheistic context. Can the retranslation of the Book of Proverbs make the monotheism of God in Yoruba be clearer? This article, therefore, emphasises the need for a retranslation of the present translation of the Book of Proverbs in Yoruba. This article will be an eye opener for some readers who are not sure of the concept of monotheism in the Book of Proverbs and in Yoruba religious tradition.


monotheism; Yahweh; Africa; Proverbs; Yoruba


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