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The Oxford Study Bible Study Bible supplemented with commentary from scholars of various religions.

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Commentary on Proverbs

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1.1–7.27 : Advice to the reader.

This section differs both stylistically and thematically from the subsequent ones. Only here are there discussions of single topics in long paragraphs and also linguistic affinities with Deut. and the Prophets. The personification of Wisdom and Folly as two women is a major theme of the chapters; the picture of Wisdom is a derivative of the portrait of Folly. It is not fully clear how one is to view the allusions to the “foreign woman,” whether: (1) she may be a participant in a fertility cult, that is, a sacred prostitute; or (2) simply a loose woman, foreign because her bad behavior sets her apart. In either case, the chapters burn with the intense conviction that since all knowledge derives from God it instructs human beings in the path of life. The superscription ( 1.1 ) recalls a tradition, 1 Kgs. 4.29–34 , that Solomon composed or compiled proverbs and songs.

1.2–6 : Introduction to the several collections.

The editor gives reasons for studying the proverbial traditions.

6 :

The Heb. word for proverb (mashal) implies a “likeness” or, less likely, an authoritative word, while that for riddle (hidah) suggests an enigmatic saying.

1.7–9 : Recommendation of wisdom.

7 :

This motto of the book occurs again at 9.10 , and in other forms in Job 28.28 and Ecclus. 1.14 . It is in creative tension with the anthropocentricity (“centering on humankind”) of most Wisdom texts. Fools: a moral rather than an intellectual judgment.

8 :

A metaphor for student, my son derives from the family setting in which fathers and mothers instructed children in the way of the wise. The term is used frequently in Egyptian Wisdom literature for “pupil.”

9 :

Garland: a motif common in Egyptian Wisdom literature.

1.10–19 : Warning against the sinner's style of life.

The attractiveness of evil is negated by its ultimate result; compare Wisd. 2.1–22 .

12 :

Sheol: the shadowy realm of the dead.

17 :

A popular proverb enforces the warning against gullibly paying heed to the enticing criminal.

1.20–33 : Wisdom in the role of prophetess.

In striking prophetic style personified Wisdom pleads for a hearing and rebukes those who pay no heed.

20–21 :

Unafraid of competition, Wisdom speaks publicly at the gates, the center of economic and judicial activity.

23 :

Fill you …: lit. “I will pour out my spirit upon you …,” recalling prophetic language, e.g. Isa. 44.3; Joel 2.28–29 .

24 :

The hand of God may be stretched out either to strengthen or save a people or else to punish them; the former is intended here. The outstretched hand is a frequent Deuteronomic expression for God's saving deeds in defeating the enemies of Israel; the image is also found in prophetic texts, where the idea of punishment is prevalent (see Isa. 5.25; 9.17, 21; 10.4 ).

32 :

Turn a deaf ear: turn away, i.e. waywardness.

33 :

See 3.24–26 .

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