’ewiyl [and] kesiyl
Opposite those who are wise, understanding, and discerning is the fool, about whom the Bible has much to say. There are some 160 references to the fool (or “fools” and “foolish”) in Scripture (AV), most of which are in the OT (only thirty-three in the NT).
One word translated fool is ’ewiyl (H191), which is derived, some scholars think, from yā’al (“to be foolish”), while others think it comes from “an Arabic word meaning ‘be thick,’ and therefore ‘thick-brained’ or ‘stupid.’” Whichever is correct, ’ewiyl seems to be the first level of foolish behavior. This type of fool is one who seeks controversy and argument (Pro_20:3), despises instruction because of perceived self-sufficiency (Pro_1:7; Pro_12:15), and is basically immoral (Pro_7:21-22; Pro_14:9). So complete is this fool’s insolence, in fact, that it is a waste of time to even speak to him: “The instruction of fools is folly” (Pro_16:22). Even if you ground him in a mortar with a pestle, it would do no good (Pro_27:22). What is this fool’s end? He “shall fall” (Pro_10:8, lāḇat, H3832, “torn down, ruined”).
The next level of fool is kesiyl (H3684), which appears some seventy times, more than twice as often as ’ewiyl. It comes from the root kāsal (H3688), which appears only in Jer_10:8 in reference to idol worshippers. The associated Arabic word gives a picture of sluggishness. Here then is the dull, obstinate fellow who, even if you put truth right in front of his eyes, will not see it (Pro_17:24). He simply cannot (and would not even if he could) see what is right. And, like ’ewiyl, it is pointless to speak to this fool (Pro_23:9).
This fool is vividly contrasted in Pro_1:22 : “How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge?” While the “simple” man is naive about what is true, and while the “scorner” mocks truth as unknowable or relative, the fool obstinately and irrationally refuses truth, adamantly rejecting true knowledge, which is not only the knowledge of God but any knowledge that comes from God. Again, what is this fool’s end? He will be shamed and dishonored (Pro_3:35) and ultimately destroyed (Pro_18:7).
How does the fool encourage the believer? We are reminded that while the fool despises wisdom and instruction, we know that it is God who is the beginning of everything (Pro_1:7).
Scriptures for Study: Note some of the traits of ’ewiyl in the following verses: Pro_12:15; Pro_14:3; Pro_14:9; Pro_15:5. Now note a few of the traits of kesiyl: Pro_14:7-8; Pro_15:7; Pro_26:11; Pro_29:11.