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Proverbs: Chapter 1

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1The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:2

For learning about wisdom and instruction, for understanding words of insight, 3 for gaining instruction in wise dealing, righteousness, justice, and equity; 4 to teach shrewdness to the simple, knowledge and prudence to the young— 5 let the wise also hear and gain in learning, and the discerning acquire skill, 6 to understand a proverb and a figure, the words of the wise and their riddles.

7

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

8

Hear, my child, your father's instruction, and do not reject your mother's teaching; 9 for they are a fair garland for your head, and pendants for your neck. 10 My child, if sinners entice you, do not consent. 11 If they say, “Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood; let us wantonly ambush the innocent; 12 like Sheol let us swallow them alive and whole, like those who go down to the Pit. 13 We shall find all kinds of costly things; we shall fill our houses with booty. 14 Throw in your lot among us; we will all have one purse”— 15 my child, do not walk in their way, keep your foot from their paths; 16 for their feet run to evil, and they hurry to shed blood. 17 For in vain is the net baited while the bird is looking on; 18 yet they lie in wait—to kill themselves! and set an ambush—for their own lives! 19 Such is the end a Or he set a law that cannot pass away of all who are greedy for gain; it takes away the life of its possessors.

20

Wisdom cries out in the street; in the squares she raises her voice. 21 At the busiest corner she cries out; at the entrance of the city gates she speaks: 22 “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge? 23 Give heed to my reproof; I will pour out my thoughts to you; I will make my words known to you. 24 Because I have called and you refused, have stretched out my hand and no one heeded, 25 and because you have ignored all my counsel and would have none of my reproof, 26 I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when panic strikes you, 27 when panic strikes you like a storm, and your calamity comes like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you. 28 Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently, but will not find me. 29 Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the LORD, 30 would have none of my counsel, and despised all my reproof, 31 therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way and be sated with their own devices. 32 For waywardness kills the simple, and the complacency of fools destroys them; 33 but those who listen to me will be secure and will live at ease, without dread of disaster.”

Notes:

a Or he set a law that cannot pass away

Text Commentary view alone
Commentary spanning earlier chapters

8.1–36 : Wisdom speaks

(cf. Sir 24.1–34 ).

1–5 :

Wisdom publicly addresses all people, but especially the simple in need of instruction ( 1.20–22 ).

6–11 :

Wisdom's value is incomparable (See 2.4n.; cf. Job 28.15–19 ).

12–16 :

Her authority is that by which kings reign (Sir 4.15 ).

17–21 :

Wisdom's blessings begin with returning the love of those who love her (v. 17; Sir 4.14; Wis 6.12–13 ).

22–31 :

Wisdom recounts her divine origin, before anything was created (Sir 1.4; 24.9 ). She was with God as a master worker (v. 30 ), and thus had a role in creation (Sir 1.9–10; Wis 7.22; 9.9 ). Wisdom is seen delighting in God's human creatures (v. 31; Sir 1.15; 24.7–12 ).

22 :

Created, the proper translation of the Heb word (“qanah”) is debated, but “acquired” (see 4.5,7 ) or even “engendered, conceived” (see Gen 4.1 ) are also possible.

24–29 :

See Gen 1; Job 38.4–11; Ps 104.5–9 .

32–36 :

The speech concludes with an offer of lifein place of death.

1.1–7 : Introduction.

1 :

Proverbs of Solomon, see the Introduction ( 10.1; 25.1 ).

2–6 : The purpose of the book.

Addressed to the simple and the young, as well as the wise, Proverbs teaches discernment and ethical responsibility. A highly practical discipline, wisdom entails living in accord with righteousness, justice, and equity.

6 :

Figure, an allusive saying or an extended metaphor, as in 1.20–33 . Riddle, a comparison or analogy that provokes reflection and requires readers to decide the meaning (e.g., 30.15–16, 18–19 ).

7 : A basic wisdom theme.

Reverence toward God is the prerequisite to knowledge ( 9.10; 15.33; 31.30b; Job 28.28; Ps 111.10; Sir 1.14 ). Fools are not simply unintelligent, but unethical in their conduct.

1.8–9.18 : Instruction in Wisdom.

These chapters contain mostly long poems, in contrast to the short proverbial sayings of chs 10–29 .

1.8–19 : Instruction as a moral safeguard

against the temptations of the wicked.

8 :

My child (lit. “my son”), a typical usage of the sages when referring to the teacher‐student relationship (vv. 10,15; 2.1; 4.10; Sir 2.1; 3.12,17 ). The pairing of the father's instruction and the mother's teaching alludes to the family as the place where wisdom instruction first takes place (see 6.20; 23.22; 31.1 ). The term teaching (Heb “torah”) is used elsewhere in the Bible as a term for covenant law. In Proverbs, however, it refers primarily to wisdom instruction. But See Sir 24 , which identifies the two.

12 :

Sheol … the Pit, common expressions for death and the place and state of the dead.

16 :

An editorial quotation of Isa 59.7 .

17 :

The sage cites a popular proverb to affirm that the consequences of crime ought to be obvious.

1.20–33 : Wisdom personified as a prophet.

She speaks publicly in the city streets and gates. In language that echoes the prophets (for v. 22 see Jer 4.14,21; v. 24 see Isa 65.2,12; 66.4; Jer 7.13,24–27 ), Wisdom pronounces dire threats against those who will not listen to her (vv. 26–32 ).

22 :

The simple (see 1.4 ) are considered teachable, but scoffers and fools are generally represented as (fatally) resistant to instruction (see 1.7; 15.12; 26.3 ).

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