PROVERBS A CHAPTER A DAY
Comments are interleaved with the text
The words of Agur the son of Yakeh, the prophecy. The man says to Iti’el, to Iti’el and Ukhal:
THE TRANSLATION IS DISPUTED. AS IT STANDS IT EMPHASISES THE PROPHETIC NATURE OF THIS MAN AND HIS WISDOM
I am more boorish than anyone,
I lack human discernment;
I have not learned enough wisdom
to know the Holy One.
THERE IS IRONY HERE AGAINST THOSE WHO CLAIM PRECISE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD
Who has gone up to heaven and come down?
Who has cupped the wind in the palms of his hands?
Who has wrapped up the waters in his cloak?
Who established all the ends of the earth?
What is his name, and what is his son’s name?
Surely you know!
THESE VERSES REMIND THE READER OF JOB CHAPTER 38 forward, where God questions Job. The son of God mentioned here is probably Adam = humanity, less probably Israel.
Every word of God’s is pure;
he shields those taking refuge in him.
Don’t add anything to his words;
or he will rebuke you, and you be found a liar.
THOSE WHO TAKE REFUGE IN THE GOD OF THE WORD MAY BE SCHOLARS OR SAGES
God,I have asked two things of you;
don’t deny them to me as long as I live —
keep falsehood and futility far from me,
and give me neither poverty nor wealth.
Yes, provide just the food I need today;
for if I have too much, I might deny you
and say, “Who is Adonai?”
And if I am poor, I might steal
and thus profane the name of my God.
DAILY BREAD IS THE IDEAL: THERE ARE MANY ECHOES OF THE PROVERBS IN THE TEACHING OF JESUS
Never disparage a slave to his master,
or he will curse you, and you will deserve it.
THE SLAVE IS VULNERABLE
There is a type of people who curse their fathers
and don’t bless their mothers.
THERE IS ALSO A TYPE OF PARENT WHO DOESN’T DESERVE RESPECT
There is a type of people clean in their own view,
but not cleansed from their filth.
SELF DECEPTION IS HARD TO AVOID
There is a type of people — how haughty their look! —
ARROGANCE ASSUMES EMINENCE
There is a type of people whose teeth are like swords,
yes, their fangs are knives;
they devour the poor from the earth,
the needy from humankind.
TRADES UNIONS AND OTHER WORKING CLASS INSTITUTIONS TRIED TO DEFEND PEOPLE FROM THEM.
The leech has two daughters;
they cry, “Give! Give!”
Three things are never satisfied;
four never say, “Enough!” —
THE grave and a barren womb;
the earth, never satisfied with water;
and fire, which never says, “Enough!”
THE LEACH’S TWO SUCKERS ARE ITS DAUGHTERS. BARREN WOMEN WERE THOUGHT TO BE SEXUALLY DEMANDING. MY OLD TEACHER, WILLIE MCKANE THOUGHT THE WORDS HERE ABOUT THE EARTH AND THE FIRE WERE SYMBOLS OF SEXUAL DESIRE.
The eye that mocks his father
and scorns obeying his mother
will be pecked out by the ravens in the valley,
and the vultures will eat it.
SIN AGAINST GENERATIONAL SOLIDARITY WAS CONSIDERED SERIOUS
Three things are too wonderful for me,
four beyond my knowledge —
the way of an eagle in the sky,
the way of a snake on a rock,
the way of a ship on the open sea,
and the way of a man with a girl.
AS IN JOB, EXAMPLES OF CREATURELY BEHAVIOUR ARE USED TO SUGGEST THE LIMITATIONS OF HUMAN KNOWLEDGE AND THE GREATNESS OF THE CREATOR’S WISDOM.
This is how an unfaithful wife behaves:
she eats, wipes her mouth, and says, “I did nothing wrong.”
THIS IS GRAPHIC AND TELLING. BUT WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO THE UNFAITHFUL MAN SHE WAS WITH?
Three things make the earth quake,
four things it can’t bear —
a slave who becomes king,
a boor gorged with food,
a hateful woman when her husband marries her
and a slave-girl supplanting her mistress.
THESE ARE CONTRARY TO THE WAY OF THE EARTH, TO WHAT IS CONSIDERED NATURAL. NOTICE THE ACCEPTANCE OF SLAVERY.
Four things on the earth are small;
nevertheless, they are very wise —
the ants, a species not strong,
yet they store up their food in the summer;
the rock badgers, a species with little power,
yet they make their home in the rocks;
the locusts, who have no king,
yet they all march out in ranks;
and the lizards, which you can catch in your hand,
yet they are in the king’s palace.
MORE EXAMPLES OF THE CREATOR’S WISDOM, WITH A HINT THAT SIZE DOESN’T MATTER
Three things are stately in their stride,
four of stately gait —
the lion, mightiest of beasts,
which turns aside for none;
the greyhound, the billy-goat
and the king when his army is with him.
ONLY THE LAST NEEDS ASSISTANCE
If you have been boorish, exalting yourself,
or if you have been scheming,
lay your hand on your mouth.
YES, THE TONGUE IS TROUBLE.
For as pressing milk produces butter
and pressing the nose produces blood,
so pressing out anger produces strife.
THE METAPHOR OF PRESSING MIGHT POINT TO “PUSHING YOUR LUCK.”