Bible blog 2292

THE BOOK OF PROVERBS

A CHAPTER A DAY

CHAPTER 5

My son, if you listen closely
    to my wisdom and good sense,
you will have sound judgment,
    and you will always know
    the right thing to say.
The words of a separate woman
may be as sweet as honey
    and as smooth as olive oil.
But all that you really get
from being with her
    is bitter poison and pain.
If you follow her,
she will lead you down
    to the world of the dead.
She has missed the path
that leads to life
    and doesn’t even know it.

My son, listen to me
    and do everything I say.
Stay away from that woman!
    Don’t even go near the door
    of her house.
You will lose your self-respect
    and end up in debt
    to some cruel person
    for the rest of your life.
Strangers will get your money
    and everything else
    you have worked for.
When it’s all over,
your body will waste away,
    as you groan and shout,
“I hated advice and correction!
I paid no attention
    to my teachers,
and now I am disgraced
    in front of everyone.”

You should be faithful
    to your wife,
    just as you take water
    from your own well

Do not be like a stream
    from which just any woman
    may take a drink.
Save yourself for your wife
    and don’t have sex
    with other women.
Be happy with the wife
you married
    when you were young.
She is beautiful and graceful,
    just like a deer;
    Let hers be the breasts that satisfy you,
    Hers the love that intoxicates you.

Do not be intoxicated with a woman
    who is unfaithful.
    Do not fondle the breasts of a strange woman!
The Lord sees everything,
    and he watches us closely.
Sinners are trapped and caught
    by their own evil deeds.
They get lost and die
because of their foolishness
    and lack of self-control.

A DESERT WELL

Of course this is a patriarchal society, but it is unclear what sort of marriage custom this envisages. The “wife you married when you were young” is usually an indication of polygyny of some sort, in which a man might have several wives. In this case, the wife mentioned seems to be the only one. The man is therefore choosing an extra marital affair with a married woman, here called separate or strange. It’s possible that she is not Jewish.

Clearly the wisdom here is concerned for the neglected wife and with her husband, rather than with the disruptive woman. The author supposes that the affair will end badly, and horror of horrors, cost the offender a lot of money! The cruel person may be the woman’s husband or owner.

However the clear message is that such affairs are folly, bringing no good and much ill.

The errant man is reminded that his wife is attractive and his right sexual partner. The true wisdom here is that sex is often not really casual but binds people together, in faithful love or in a looser relationship, and has consequences in people’s lives. In the context of marriage sex is seen as good and delightful, as is faithfulness; but when faithfulness is about to be forgotten, common sense can come to the rescue.

The woman is blamed because she invites foolish male behaviour, but she is at least given the dignity of not being a victim: she wants the man. The wisdom expressed here is conventional, but is not over serious, casting a shrewd eye on human folly, and recommending something more likely to give happiness.

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