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Proverbs 7:1-27

Context
Admonition to Avoid the Wiles of the Adulteress 1 

7:1 My child, 2  keep my words

and treasure up my commands in your own keeping. 3 

7:2 Keep my commands 4  so that you may live, 5 

and obey 6  my instruction as your most prized possession. 7 

7:3 Bind them on your forearm; 8 

write them on the tablet of your heart. 9 

7:4 Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” 10 

and call understanding a close relative,

7:5 so that they may keep you 11  from the adulterous 12  woman,

from the loose woman 13  who flatters you 14  with her words. 15 

7:6 For at the window of my house

through my window lattice I looked out

7:7 and I saw among the naive –

I discerned among the youths 16 

a young man 17  who lacked wisdom. 18 

7:8 He was passing by the street near her corner,

making his way 19  along the road to her house 20 

7:9 in the twilight, the evening, 21 

in the dark of the night. 22 

7:10 Suddenly 23  a woman came out to meet him!

She was dressed like a prostitute 24  and with secret intent. 25 

7:11 (She is loud and rebellious,

she 26  does not remain 27  at home –

7:12 at one time outside, at another 28  in the wide plazas,

and by every corner she lies in wait.)

7:13 So she grabbed him and kissed him,

and with a bold expression 29  she said to him,

7:14 “I have 30  fresh meat at home; 31 

today I have fulfilled my vows!

7:15 That is why I came out to meet you,

to look for you, 32  and I found you!

7:16 I have spread my bed with elegant coverings, 33 

with richly colored fabric 34  from Egypt.

7:17 I have perfumed my bed

with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon.

7:18 Come, let’s drink deeply 35  of lovemaking 36  until morning,

let’s delight ourselves 37  with sexual intercourse. 38 

7:19 For my husband 39  is not at home; 40 

he has gone on a journey of some distance.

7:20 He has taken a bag of money with him; 41 

he will not return until 42  the end of the month.” 43 

7:21 She persuaded him 44  with persuasive words; 45 

with her smooth talk 46  she compelled him. 47 

7:22 Suddenly he went 48  after her

like an ox that goes to the slaughter,

like a stag prancing into a trapper’s snare 49 

7:23 till an arrow pierces his liver 50 

like a bird hurrying into a trap,

and he does not know that it will cost him his life. 51 

7:24 So now, sons, 52  listen to me,

and pay attention to the words I speak. 53 

7:25 Do not let your heart turn aside to her ways –

do not wander into her pathways;

7:26 for she has brought down 54  many fatally wounded,

and all those she has slain are many. 55 

7:27 Her house is the way to the grave, 56 

going down 57  to the chambers 58  of death.

1 sn The chapter begins with the important teaching of the father (1-5), then it focuses on the seduction: first of the victim (6-9), then the temptress (10-12), then the seduction (13-20), and the capitulation (21-23); the chapter concludes with the deadly results of consorting (24-27).

2 tn Heb “my son.”

3 tn Heb “within you” (so NASB, NIV); KJV, ASV, NRSV “with you.” BDB 860 s.v. צָפַן Qal.1 suggests that “within you” means “in your own keeping.”

4 tc Before v. 2 the LXX inserts: “My son, fear the Lord and you will be strong, and besides him, fear no other.” Although this addition has the precedent of 3:7 and 9 and harmonizes with 14:26, it does not fit here; the advice is to listen to the teacher.

5 tn The construction of an imperative with the vav (ו) of sequence after another imperative denotes a logical sequence of purpose or result: “that you may live,” or “and you will live.”

6 tn The term “obey” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is implied by the parallelism; it is supplied for the sake of clarity and smoothness. Some English versions, in light of the second line of v. 1, supply “guard” (e.g., NIV, NCV, NLT).

7 tn Heb “the little man in your eye.” Traditionally this Hebrew idiom is translated into English as “the apple of your eye” (so KJV, NAB, NIV, NRSV); a more contemporary rendering would be “as your most prized possession.” The word for “man” has the diminutive ending on it. It refers to the pupil, where the object focused on – a man – is reflected in miniature. The point is that the teaching must be the central focus of the disciple’s vision and attention.

8 tn Heb “fingers” (so KJV and many other English versions). In light of Deut 6:8, “fingers” appears to be a metonymy for the lower part of the arm.

9 sn This is an allusion to Deut 6:8. Binding the teachings on the fingers and writing them on the tablets here are implied comparisons for preserving the teaching in memory so that it can be recalled and used with ease.

10 sn The metaphor is meant to signify that the disciple will be closely related to and familiar with wisdom and understanding, as close as to a sibling. Wisdom will be personified in the next two chapters, and so referring to it as a sister in this chapter certainly prepares for that personification.

11 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.

12 tn Heb “strange” (so KJV, ASV).

13 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).

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

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

16 tn Heb “sons.”

17 tn Heb “lad” or “youth.”

18 tn Heb “heart.”

sn This young man who lacked wisdom is one of the simpletons, lacking keen judgment, one void of common sense (cf. NAB, NASB, NRSV, NLT) or understanding (cf. KJV, ASV). He is young, inexperienced, featherbrained (so D. Kidner, Proverbs [TOTC], 75).

19 tn The verb צָעַד (tsaad) means “to step; to march.” It suggests that the youth was intentionally making his way to her house. The verb is the imperfect tense; it stresses continual action parallel to the active participle that began the verse, but within a context that is past time.

20 tn Heb “way of her house.” This expression uses an adverbial accusative of location, telling where he was marching along. The term “house” is the genitive of location, giving the goal.

21 tn Heb “in the evening of the day.”

22 tn Heb “in the middle of the night, and dark”; KJV “in the black and dark night”; NRSV “at the time of night and darkness.”

23 tn The particle וְהִנֵּה (vÿhinneh) introduces a dramatic sense of the immediate to the narrative; it has a deictic force, “and look! – there was a woman,” or “all of a sudden this woman….”

24 tn Heb “with the garment of a prostitute.” The noun שִׁית (shith, “garment”) is an adverbial accusative specifying the appearance of the woman. The words “she was” are supplied in the translation to make a complete English sentence.

25 tn Heb “kept secret of heart”; cf. ASV, NRSV “wily of heart.” The verbal form is the passive participle from נָצַר (natsar) in construct. C. H. Toy lists the suggestions of the commentators: false, malicious, secret, subtle, excited, hypocritical (Proverbs [ICC], 149). The LXX has “causes the hearts of the young men to fly away.” The verb means “to guard; to watch; to keep”; to be guarded of heart means to be wily, to have secret intent – she has locked up her plans and gives nothing away (e.g., Isaiah 48:6 as well). Interestingly enough, this contrasts with her attire which gives everything away.

26 tn Heb “her feet.” This is a synecdoche, a part for the whole; the point is that she never stays home, but is out and about all the time.

27 tn Heb “dwell” or “settle”; NAB “her feet cannot rest.”

28 tn The repetition of the noun “time, step,” usually translated “now, this time,” signifies here “at one time…at another time” (BDB 822 s.v. פַּעַם 3.e).

29 tn Heb “she makes bold her face.” The Hiphil perfect of עָזַז (’azar, “to be strong”) means she has an impudent face (cf. KJV, NAB, NRSV), a bold or brazen expression (cf. NASB, NIV, NLT).

30 tn Heb “with me.”

31 tn Heb “I have peace offerings.” The peace offerings refer to the meat left over from the votive offering made at the sanctuary (e.g., Lev 7:11-21). Apparently the sacrificial worship meant as little to this woman spiritually as does Christmas to modern hypocrites who follow in her pattern. By expressing that she has peace offerings, she could be saying nothing more than that she has fresh meat for a meal at home, or that she was ceremonially clean, perhaps after her period. At any rate, it is all probably a ruse for winning a customer.

32 tn Heb “to look diligently for your face.”

33 tn Heb “with spreads.” The sentence begins with the cognate accusative: “with spreads I have spread my bed.” The construction enhances the idea – she has covered her bed.

34 tn The feminine noun means “dark-hued stuffs” (BDB 310 s.v. חֲטֻבוֹת). The form is a passive participle from a supposed root II חָטַב (khatav), which in Arabic means to be of a turbid, dusky color mixed with yellowish red. Its Aramaic cognate means “variegated”; cf. NAB “with brocaded cloths of Egyptian linen.” BDB’s translation of this colon is unsatifactory: “with dark hued stuffs of yarn from Egypt.”

35 tn The form נִרְוֶה (nirveh) is the plural cohortative; following the imperative “come” the form expresses the hortatory “let’s.” The verb means “to be saturated; to drink one’s fill,” and can at times mean “to be intoxicated with.”

36 tn Heb “loves.” The word דּוֹד (dod) means physical love or lovemaking. It is found frequently in the Song of Solomon for the loved one, the beloved. Here the form (literally, “loves”) is used in reference to multiple acts of sexual intercourse, as the phrase “until morning” suggests.

37 tn The form is the Hitpael cohortative of עָלַס (’alas), which means “to rejoice.” Cf. NIV “let’s enjoy ourselves.”

38 tn Heb “with love.”

39 tn Heb “the man.” The LXX interpreted it as “my husband,” taking the article to be used as a possessive. Many English versions do the same.

40 tn Heb “in his house.”

41 tn Heb “in his hand.”

42 tn Heb “he will come back at.”

43 tn Heb “new moon.” Judging from the fact that the husband took a purse of money and was staying away until the next full moon, the woman implies that they would be safe in their escapade. If v. 9 and v. 20 are any clue, he could be gone for about two weeks – until the moon is full again.

44 tn Heb “she turned him aside.” This expression means that she persuaded him. This section now begins the description of the capitulation, for the flattering speech is finished.

45 sn The term לֶקַח (leqakh) was used earlier in Proverbs for wise instruction; now it is used ironically for enticement to sin (see D. W. Thomas, “Textual and Philological Notes on Some Passages in the Book of Proverbs,” VTSup 3 [1955]: 280-92).

46 tn Heb “smooth of her lips”; cf. NAB “smooth lips”; NASB “flattering lips.” The term “lips” is a metonymy of cause representing what she says.

47 tn The verb means “to impel; to thrust; to banish,” but in this stem in this context “to compel; to force” into some action. The imperfect tense has the nuance of progressive imperfect to parallel the characteristic perfect of the first colon.

48 tn The participle with “suddenly” gives a more vivid picture, almost as if to say “there he goes.”

49 tn The present translation follows R. B. Y. Scott (Proverbs, Ecclesiastes [AB], 64). This third colon of the verse would usually be rendered, “fetters to the chastening of a fool” (KJV, ASV, and NASB are all similar). But there is no support that עֶכֶס (’ekhes) means “fetters.” It appears in Isaiah 3:16 as “anklets.” The parallelism here suggests that some animal imagery is required. Thus the ancient versions have “as a dog to the bonds.”

50 sn The figure of an arrow piercing the liver (an implied comparison) may refer to the pangs of a guilty conscience that the guilty must reap along with the spiritual and physical ruin that follows (see on these expressions H. W. Wolff, Anthropology of the Old Testament).

51 tn The expression that it is “for/about/over his life” means that it could cost him his life (e.g., Num 16:38). Alternatively, the line could refer to moral corruption and social disgrace rather than physical death – but this would not rule out physical death too.

52 tn The literal translation “sons” works well here in view of the warning. Cf. KJV, NAB, NRSV “children.”

53 tn Heb “the words of my mouth.”

54 tn Heb “she has caused to fall.”

55 tn Heb “numerous” (so NAB, NASB, NRSV, NLT) or “countless.”

56 tn The noun “Sheol” in parallelism to “the chambers of death” probably means the grave. The noun is a genitive of location, indicating the goal of the road(s). Her house is not the grave; it is, however, the sure way to it.

sn Her house is the way to the grave. The young man’s life is not destroyed in one instant; it is taken from him gradually as he enters into a course of life that will leave him as another victim of the wages of sin. The point of the warning is to prevent such a course from starting. Sin can certainly be forgiven, but the more involvement in this matter the greater the alienation from the healthy community.

57 tn The Qal active participle modifies “ways” to Sheol. The “road,” as it were, descends to the place of death.

58 tn “Chambers” is a hypocatastasis, comparing the place of death or the grave with a bedroom in the house. It plays on the subtlety of the temptation. Cf. NLT “Her bedroom is the den of death.”



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