AGUR BEN JAKEH.
The compiler of a collection of proverbs found in Prov. xxx. The text (ver. 1) seems to say that he was a "Massaite," the gentilic termination not being indicated in the traditional writing "Ha-Massa" (compare Gen. xxv. 14). This place has been identified by some Assyriologists with the land of Mash, a district between Palestine and Babylonia, and the traces of nomadic or seminomadic life and thought found in Gen. xxxi. and xxxii. give some support to the hypothesis. Graetz, followed by Bickell and Cheyne, conjectures that the original reading is "Ha-Moshel," "the collector of proverbs." The true explanation is still uncertain.
"Agur," and the enigmatical names and words which follow in Prov. xxx. 1, are interpreted by the Haggadah as epithets of Solomon, playing upon the words as follows: "Agur" denotes "the compiler; the one who first gathered maxims together." "The son of Jakeh" denotes "the one who spat out," that is, "despised" (from , "to spit"), le-Ithiel, "the words of God" (ot, "word"; El, "God"), exclaiming, "I can [ukal] transgress the law against marrying many wives without fear of being misled by them." Another exposition is that "Agur" means "the one who is brave in the pursuit of wisdom"; "the son of Jakeh" signifies "he who is free from sin" (from naḲi, "pure"); ha-massa ("the burden"), "he who bore the yoke of God"; le-Ithiel, "he who understood the signs" (ot, "sign") and deeds of God, or he who understood the alphabet of God, that is the creative "letters" (ot, "letter") (see Ber. 55a); we-Ukal, "the master" (Tan., Waera, ed. Buber, 2, p. 18; Midr. Prov. xxx. 1; YalḲ. on the passage, § 962).