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Proverbs 2:16

Context

2:16 to deliver you 1  from the adulteress, 2 

from the sexually loose woman 3  who speaks flattering 4  words; 5 

Proverbs 5:20

Context

5:20 But why should you be captivated, 6  my son, by an adulteress,

and embrace the bosom of a different woman? 7 

Proverbs 6:24

Context

6:24 by keeping 8  you from the evil woman, 9 

from the smooth tongue of 10  the loose woman. 11 

Proverbs 7:5

Context

7:5 so that they may keep you 12  from the adulterous 13  woman,

from the loose woman 14  who flatters you 15  with her words. 16 

Proverbs 20:16

Context

20:16 Take a man’s 17  garment 18  when he has given security for a stranger, 19 

and when he gives surety for strangers, 20  hold him 21  in pledge.

Proverbs 23:27

Context

23:27 for a prostitute is like 22  a deep pit;

a harlot 23  is like 24  a narrow well. 25 

Proverbs 27:13

Context

27:13 Take a man’s 26  garment when he has given security for a stranger,

and when he gives surety for a stranger, 27  hold him in pledge. 28 

1 sn This purpose clause introduced by לְהַצִּילְךָ (lÿhatsilkha, “to deliver you”) parallels the purpose clause introduced by לְהַצִּילְךָ (“to deliver you”) in v. 12. There it introduced deliverance from the evil man, and now from the evil woman. The description of the evil man encompassed four poetic lines in the Hebrew text (vv. 12-15); likewise, the description of the evil woman is four poetic lines (vv. 16-19).

2 tn Heb “strange woman” (so KJV, NASB); NRSV “the loose woman.” The root זוּר (zur, “to be a stranger”) sometimes refers to people who are ethnically foreign to Israel (Isa 1:7; Hos 7:9; 8:7) but it often refers to what is morally estranged from God or his covenant people (Pss 58:4; 78:30; BDB 266 s.v.). Referring to a woman, it means adulteress or prostitute (Prov 2:16; 5:3, 20; 7:5; 22:14; 23:33; see BDB 266 s.v. 2.b). It does not mean that she is a foreigner but that she is estranged from the community with its social and religious values (W. McKane, Proverbs [OTL], 285). It describes her as outside the framework of the covenant community (L. A. Snijders, “The Meaning of זוּר in the Old Testament: An Exegetical Study,” OTS 10 [1954]: 85-86). Here an Israelite woman is in view because her marriage is called a “covenant with God.” She is an adulteress, acting outside the legal bounds of the marriage contract.

3 tn Heb “alien woman.” The adjective נָכְרִי (nokhri, “foreign; alien”) refers to (1) people who are ethnically alien to Israel (Exod 21:8; Deut 17:15; Judg 19:12; Ruth 2:10; 1 Kgs 11:1, 8; Ezra 10:2, 10, 11; see BDB 649 s.v. 1); (2) people who are morally alienated from God and his covenant people (Job 19:15; Ps 69:9; Prov 20:16; Eccl 6:2; Jer 2:21; see BDB 649 s.v. 3) and (3) as a technical term in Proverbs for a harlot or promiscuous woman as someone who is morally alienated from God and moral society (Prov 2:16; 5:20; 6:24; 7:5; 20:16; 23:27; 27:13; see BDB 649 s.v. 2). The description of the woman as a “strange woman” and now an “alien woman” is within the context of the people of Israel. She is a “foreigner” in the sense that she is a nonconformist, wayward and loose. It does not necessarily mean that she is not ethnically Israelite (though BDB notes that most harlots in Israel were originally chiefly foreigners by reason of their otherwise homeless condition).

4 tn Heb “makes smooth.” The Hiphil of II חָלַק (“to be smooth; to be slippery”) means (1) “to make smooth” (metal with hammer) and (2) “to use smooth words,” that is, to flatter (Pss 5:10; 36:3; Prov 2:16; 7:5; 28:23; 29:5; see BDB 325 s.v. 2; HALOT 322 s.v. I חלק hif.2). The related Arabic cognate verb means “make smooth, lie, forge, fabricate.” The seductive speech of the temptress is compared to olive oil (5:3) and is recounted (7:14-20).

5 tn Heb “whose words she makes smooth.” The phrase is a relative clause that does not have a relative pronoun. The antecedent of the 3rd person feminine singular suffix is clearly “the sexually loose woman” earlier in the line.

sn For descriptions of seductive speech, see Prov 5:3 where it is compared to olive oil, and 7:14-20 where such speech is recorded.

6 tn In the interrogative clause the imperfect has a deliberative nuance.

7 tn Heb “foreigner” (so ASV, NASB), but this does not mean that the woman is non-Israelite. This term describes a woman who is outside the moral boundaries of the covenant community – she is another man’s wife, but since she acts with moral abandonment she is called “foreign.”

8 tn The infinitive construct is epexegetical here, explaining how these teachings function as lights: “by keeping you.” This verse is the transition from the general admonition about heeding the teachings to the practical application.

9 tc The word translated “woman” is modified by רַע (ra’, “evil”) in the sense of violating the codes of the community and inflicting harm on others. The BHS editors propose changing it to read “strange woman” as before, but there is not support for that. Some commentaries follow the LXX and read רַע as “wife of a neighbor” (cf. NAB; also NRSV “the wife of another”; CEV “someone else’s wife”) but that seems to be only a clarification.

10 tn The word “tongue” is not in construct; the word “foreign woman” is in apposition to “smooth of tongue,” specifying whose it is. The word “smooth” then is the object of the preposition, “tongue” is the genitive of specification, and “foreign woman” in apposition.

11 sn The description of the woman as a “strange woman” and now a “loose [Heb “foreign”] woman” is within the context of the people of Israel. She is a “foreigner” in the sense that she is a nonconformist, wayward, and loose. It does not necessarily mean that she is not ethnically an Israelite.

12 tn The infinitive construct with the preposition shows the purpose of associating closely with wisdom: Wisdom will obviate temptations, the greatest being the sexual urge.

13 tn Heb “strange” (so KJV, ASV).

14 tn Heb “strange woman.” This can be interpreted as a “wayward wife” (so NIV) or an “unfaithful wife” (so NCV). As discussed earlier, the designations “strange woman” and “foreign woman” could refer to Israelites who stood outside the community in their lawlessness and loose morals – an adulteress or wayward woman. H. Ringgren and W. Zimmerli, however, suggest that she is also a promoter of a pagan cult, but that is not entirely convincing (Spruche/Prediger [ATD], 19).

15 tn The term “you” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for the sake of smoothness.

16 tn Heb “she makes smooth her words.” This expression means “she flatters with her words.”

17 tn Heb “his garment.”

18 sn Taking a garment was the way of holding someone responsible to pay debts. In fact, the garment was the article normally taken for security (Exod 22:24-26; Deut 24:10-13). Because this is a high risk security pledge (e.g., 6:1-5), the creditor is to deal more severely than when the pledge is given by the debtor for himself.

19 tc The Kethib has the masculine plural form, נָכְרִים (nakhrim), suggesting a reading “strangers.” But the Qere has the feminine form נָכְרִיָּה (nakhriyyah), “strange woman” or “another man’s wife” (e.g., 27:13). The parallelism would suggest “strangers” is the correct reading, although theories have been put forward for the interpretation of “strange woman” (see below).

sn The one for whom the pledge is taken is called “a stranger” and “foreign.” These two words do not necessarily mean that the individual or individuals are non-Israelite – just outside the community and not well known.

20 tn M. Dahood argues that the cloak was taken in pledge for a harlot (cf. NIV “a wayward woman”). Two sins would then be committed: taking a cloak and going to a prostitute (“To Pawn One’s Cloak,” Bib 42 [1961]: 359-66; also Snijders, “The Meaning of זָר,” 85-86). In the MT the almost identical proverb in 27:13 has a feminine singular form here.

21 tn Or “hold it” (so NIV, NCV).

22 tn The comparative “like” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is implied by the metaphor; it is supplied for the sake of clarity.

23 tn Heb “foreign woman” (so ASV). The term נָכְרִיָּה (nokhriyyah, “foreign woman”) often refers to a prostitute (e.g., Prov 2:6; 5:20; 6:24; 7:5). While not all foreign women in Israel were prostitutes, their prospects for economic survival were meager and many turned to prostitution to earn a living. Some English versions see this term referring to an adulteress as opposed to a prostitute (cf. NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV, NLT).

24 tn The comparative “like” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is implied by the metaphor; it is supplied in the translation for the sake of clarity.

25 sn In either case, whether a prostitute or an adulteress wife is involved, the danger is the same. The metaphors of a “deep pit” and a “narrow well” describe this sin as one that is a trap from which there is no escape. The “pit” is a gateway to Sheol, and those who enter are as good as dead, whether socially or through punishment physically.

26 tn Heb “his garment.”

27 tn Or “for a strange (= adulterous) woman.” Cf. KJV, ASV, NASB, NLT; NIV “a wayward woman.”

28 tn This proverb is virtually identical to 20:16.



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