5:15 Drink water from your own cistern
and running water from your own well. 1
your streams of water in the wide plazas?
and not for strangers with you. 4
may her breasts satisfy you at all times,
may you be captivated 9 by her love always.
and embrace the bosom of a different woman? 11
1 sn Paul Kruger develops this section as an allegory consisting of a series of metaphors. He suggests that what is at issue is private versus common property. The images of the cistern, well, or fountain are used of a wife (e.g., Song 4:15) because she, like water, satisfies desires. Streams of water in the street would then mean sexual contact with a lewd woman. According to 7:12 she never stays home but is in the streets and is the property of many (P. Kruger, “Promiscuity and Marriage Fidelity? A Note on Prov 5:15-18,” JNSL 13 : 61-68).
2 tn The verb means “to be scattered; to be dispersed”; here the imperfect takes a deliberative nuance in a rhetorical question.
3 tn The ל (lamed) preposition denotes possession: “for you” = “yours.” The term לְבַדֶּךָ (lÿvadekha) is appositional, underscoring the possession as exclusive.
4 sn The point is that what is private is not to be shared with strangers; it belongs in the home and in the marriage. The water from that cistern is not to be channeled to strangers or to the public.
5 sn The positive instruction is now given: Find pleasure in a fulfilling marriage. The “fountain” is another in the series of implied comparisons with the sexual pleasure that must be fulfilled at home. That it should be blessed (the passive participle of בָּרַךְ, barakh) indicates that sexual delight is God-given; having it blessed would mean that it would be endowed with fruitfulness, that it would fulfill all that God intended it to do.
6 tn The form is a Qal imperative with a vav (ו) of sequence; after the jussive of the first half this colon could be given an equivalent translation or logically subordinated.
7 tn Or “in the wife you married when you were young” (cf. NCV, CEV); Heb “in the wife of your youth” (so NIV, NLT). The genitive functions as an attributive adjective: “young wife” or “youthful wife.” Another possibility is that it refers to the age in which a man married his wife: “the wife you married in your youth.”
8 tn The construct expression “a doe of loves” is an attributive genitive, describing the doe with the word “loves.” The plural noun may be an abstract plural of intensification (but this noun only occurs in the plural). The same construction follows with a “deer of grace” – a graceful deer.
sn The imagery for intimate love in marriage is now employed to stress the beauty of sexual fulfillment as it was intended. The doe and deer, both implied comparisons, exhibit the grace and love of the wife.
9 sn The verb שָׁגָה (shagah) means “to swerve; to meander; to reel” as in drunkenness; it signifies a staggering gait expressing the ecstatic joy of a captivated lover. It may also mean “to be always intoxicated with her love” (cf. NRSV).
10 tn In the interrogative clause the imperfect has a deliberative nuance.
11 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.”
12 tn Heb “man.”
13 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the
14 tn BDB 814 s.v. פָּלַס 2 suggests that the participle מְפַּלֵּס (mÿpalles) means “to make level [or, straight].” As one’s ways are in front of the eyes of the
15 tn Heb “all his”; the referent (the person mentioned in the first half of the verse) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
16 tn The suffix on the verb is the direct object suffix; “the wicked” is a second object by apposition: They capture him, the wicked. Since “the wicked” is not found in the LXX, it could be an old scribal error; or the Greek translator may have simply smoothed out the sentence. C. H. Toy suggests turning the sentence into a passive idea: “The wicked will be caught in his iniquities” (Proverbs [ICC], 117).
17 tn The word is the subject of the clause, but the pronominal suffix has no clear referent. The suffix is proleptic, referring to the wicked.
18 tn Heb “his own iniquities will capture the wicked.” The translation shifts the syntax for the sake of smoothness and readability.
19 sn The lack of discipline and control in the area of sexual gratification is destructive. The one who plays with this kind of sin will become ensnared by it and led to ruin.
20 tn The Hebrew is structured chiastically: “his own iniquities will capture the wicked, by the cords of his own sin will he be held.”
21 tn The preposition בּ (bet) is used in a causal sense: “because” (cf. NCV, TEV, CEV).
22 sn The word אִוַּלְתּוֹ (’ivvalto, “his folly”) is from the root אול and is related to the noun אֶוִיל (’evil, “foolish; fool”). The noun אִוֶּלֶת (’ivvelet, “folly”) describes foolish and destructive activity. It lacks understanding, destroys what wisdom builds, and leads to destruction if it is not corrected.
23 sn The verb שָׁגָה (shagah, “to swerve; to reel”) is repeated in a negative sense. If the young man is not captivated by his wife but is captivated with a stranger in sinful acts, then his own iniquities will captivate him and he will be led to ruin.