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Proverbs 9:13-17

Context

9:13 The woman called Folly 1  is brash, 2 

she is naive 3  and does not know 4  anything. 5 

9:14 So she sits at the door of her house,

on a seat at the highest point of the city,

9:15 calling out 6  to those who are passing by her 7  in the way, 8 

who go straight 9  on their way.

9:16 “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here,”

she says to those who lack understanding. 10 

9:17 “Stolen waters 11  are sweet,

and food obtained in secret 12  is pleasant!”

1 tn Heb “a woman of foolishness.” This could be translated as “foolish woman,” taking the genitive as attributive (cf. KJV, ASV, NRSV). But in view of the contrast with the personification of wisdom, this word probably also represents a personification and so can be taken as a genitive of apposition, the woman who is folly, or “the woman, Folly” (cf. NIV). For clarity and stylistic reasons the word “called” has been supplied in the translation.

2 tn The meaning of the word comes close to “riotous.” W. McKane describes her as restless and rootless (Proverbs [OTL], 366).

3 tn The noun means “foolishness” (cf. KJV “simple”; NAB “inane”). Here it could be classified as a metonymy of adjunct, or as a predictive apposition (when a substantive is used in place of a noun; see R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 15, §67).

4 tn The ignorance here in Proverbs must be moral ignorance. But see D. W. Thomas for the idea that the verb means “become still,” “be at rest,” yielding here the idea of restless (“A Note on בַל־יָדְעָה in Proverbs 913,” JTS 4 [1953]: 23-24).

5 tc The text of v. 13 has been difficult for translators. The MT has, “The foolish woman is boisterous, simplicity, and knows not what.” The LXX reads, “A foolish and impudent woman comes to lack a morsel, she who knows not shame.” The Syriac has, “a woman lacking in discretion, seductive.” Tg. Prov 9:13 translates it, “a foolish woman and a gadabout, ignorant, and she knows not good.” The Vulgate has, “a woman foolish and noisy, and full of wiles, and knowing nothing at all.”

6 tn The infinitive construct “calling out” functions epexegetically in the sentence, explaining how the previous action was accomplished.

7 tn The term “her” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied for the sake of clarity and smoothness.

8 tn The noun is a genitive of location after the construct participle. Its parallel word is also an adverbial accusative of location.

9 tn The participle modifies the participle in the first colon. To describe the passers-by in this context as those “who go straight” means that they are quiet and unwary.

10 tn This expression is almost identical to v. 4, with the exception of the addition of conjunctions in the second colon: “and the lacking of understanding and she says to him.” The parallel is deliberate, of course, showing the competing appeals for those passing by.

11 sn The offer is not wine and meat (which represented wisdom), but water that is stolen. The “water” will seem sweeter than wine because it is stolen – the idea of getting away with something exciting appeals to the baser instincts. In Proverbs the water imagery was introduced earlier in 5:15-19 as sexual activity with the adulteress, which would seem at the moment more enjoyable than learning wisdom. Likewise bread will be drawn into this analogy in 30:20. So the “calling out” is similar to that of wisdom, but what is being offered is very different.

12 tn Heb “bread of secrecies.” It could mean “bread [eaten in] secret places,” a genitive of location; or it could mean “bread [gained through] secrets,” a genitive of source, the secrecies being metonymical for theft. The latter makes a better parallelism in this verse, for bread (= sexually immoral behavior) gained secretly would be like stolen water.



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