Proverbs 9


חָכְמוֹת בָּנְתָה בֵיתָהּ חָצְבָה עַמּוּדֶיהָ שִׁבְעָה׃   9:1

Prov. 9:1   Wisdom has built her house,

                             has hewn out her seven pillars.

טָבְחָה טִבְחָהּ מָסְכָה יֵינָהּ אַף עָרְכָה שֻׁלְחָנָהּ׃   9:2

Prov. 9:2   She has butchered her animal,

                             mingled her wine,

                    also arranged her table.

שָׁלְחָה נַעֲרֹתֶיהָ תִקְרָא עַל־גַּפֵּי מְרֹמֵי קָרֶת׃   9:3

Prov. 9:3   She sends out her maidens,

                             she will call out upon the highest of the heights of the city:

מִי־פֶתִי יָסֻר הֵנָּה חֲסַר־לֵב אָמְרָה לּוֹ׃   9:4

Prov. 9:4   “Let who is simple turn aside here,

                             one wanting understanding,” she says to him,

לְכוּ לַחֲמוּ בְלַחֲמִי וּשְׁתוּ בְּיַיִן מָסָכְתִּי׃   9:5

Prov. 9:5   “Come eat with my bread

                             and drink with the wine I mingled.”

Although Wisdom is apparently speaking to only one person (see the end of the previous verse), she uses plural second-person verbs in this verse and the next.  The implication must be that while she addresses only one person, she is speaking to any and all who pass.

עִזְבוּ פְתָאיִם וִחְיוּ וְאִשְׁרוּ בְּדֶרֶךְ בִּינָה׃   9:6

Prov. 9:6   “Forsake foolishness and live,

                             and go straight on the path of understanding.”

יֹסֵר לֵץ לֹקֵחַ לוֹ קָלוֹן וּמוֹכִיחַ לְרָשָׁע מוּמוֹ׃   9:7

Prov. 9:7   “One correcting a scorner gets shame for himself,

                             and he who reproves wickedness, a moral stain.

אַל־תּוֹכַח לֵץ פֶּן־יִשְׂנָאֶךָּ הוֹכַח לְחָכָם וְיֶאֱהָבֶךָּ׃   9:8

Prov. 9:8   “You should not reprove a scorner,

                             lest he would hate you.

                   Chide to a wise man,

                             and he will love you.”                                                        [Return to Prov. 11:14]

From this verse forward to the end, Wisdom uses only singular second-person verbs.

תֵּן לְחָכָם וְיֶחְכַּם־עוֹד הוֹדַע לְצַדִּיק וְיוֹסֶף לֶקַח׃   9:9

Prov. 9:9   “Give to a wise man and he will become still wiser.

                             Declare to a righteous man and it will increase learning.”

תְּחִלַּת חָכְמָה יִרְאַת יְהוָה וְדַעַת קְדֹשִׁים בִּינָה׃   9:10

Prov. 9:10   “Reverence of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,

                             and understanding is knowledge of things holy.”

כִּי־בִי יִרְבּוּ יָמֶיךָ וְיוֹסִיפוּ לְּךָ שְׁנוֹת חַיִּים׃   9:11

Prov. 9:11   “For with me shall your days be multiplied

                             and the years of life increased for you.”

אִם־חָכַמְתָּ חָכַמְתָּ לָּךְ וְלַצְתָּ לְבַדְּךָ תִשָּׂא׃   9:12

Prov. 9:12   “If you are wise, you are wise for yourself,

                             but should you scorn, alone you must bear.”

Is Wisdom saying in this verse that one who is wise should be silent?  Should not brag, should not correct, should not scorn?  It would seem so.  But I suspect what the author means here is something more.  If you look back at vss. 8 and 9, I think you’ll see what it might be.  The wise one should not scorn, rebuke, or chastise one who is not wise -- it would do only harm, but should chide and advise only those who are wise (as Wisdom is doing here).

 As I see it, this is good advice, but I have a serious problem with it.  It seems a bit myopic to assume that those who are wise and understanding would likely think the same way and agree on what is important.  However, I see that there may be different kinds of wisdom, not just the spiritual kind connected to reverence of the Lord and following the Torah.  Those steeped in tradition consider themselves and their comrades wise.  Scientists who study the material world, especially theoretitions, also consider themselves and their colleagues wise.  Are we to see them only as knowledgeable?  I have trouble with that.  Understanding of how things work together in this realm must also be considered a form of wisdom.  What of the psychologist who can thoroughly understand and positively influence his or her patients?  Those involved in these endeavors may not be spiritually wise, but they can piece together and imagine connections among things and people.  Is that not also wisdom?  Admittedly, these endeavors did not exist in the time of the writing of these proverbs, so maybe I’m being unfair.  The bottom line is this:  All I’m saying is that wisdom may be more complicated than is conveyed in Proverbs.

אֵשֶׁת כְּסִילוּת הֹמִיָּה פְּתַיּוּת וּבַל־יָדְעָה מָּה׃   9:13

Prov. 9:13   “The woman Foolishness is boisterous,

                             thoughtless, and knows nothing,

וְיָשְׁבָה לְפֶתַח בֵּיתָהּ עַל־כִּסֵּא מְרֹמֵי קָרֶת׃   9:14

Prov. 9:14   and she sits at the door of her house

                             on a seat of the heights of the city,

לִקְרֹא לְעֹבְרֵי־דָרֶךְ הַמְיַשְּׁרִים אֹרְחוֹתָם׃   9:15

Prov. 9:15   calling out to the passersby of the road

                             who are making straight their ways,

מִי־פֶתִי יָסֻר הֵנָּה וַחֲסַר־לֵב וְאָמְרָה לּוֹ׃   9:16

Prov. 9:16   ‘Let who is simple turn aside here.’

                              When one lacks understanding, then she says to him,

מַיִם־גְּנוּבִים יִמְתָּקוּ וְלֶחֶם סְתָרִים יִנְעָם׃   9:17

Prov. 9:17   ‘Stolen water must be sweeter,

                             and the food of hiding places more pleasant.’”

וְלֹא־יָדַע כִּי־רְפָאִים שָׁם בְּעִמְקֵי שְׁאוֹל קְרֻאֶיהָ׃   9:18

Prov. 9:18   “But he does not know that the spirits are there,

                             in the depths of the netherworld,

                      appointing her.”


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