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Proverbs 5:15-19

Context

5:15 Drink water from your own cistern

and running water from your own well. 1 

5:16 Should your springs be dispersed 2  outside,

your streams of water in the wide plazas?

5:17 Let them be for yourself 3  alone,

and not for strangers with you. 4 

5:18 May your fountain be blessed, 5 

and may you rejoice 6  in your young wife 7 

5:19 a loving doe, 8  a graceful deer;

may her breasts satisfy you at all times,

may you be captivated 9  by her love always.

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 [1987]: 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).



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