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Go to Bible: Proverbs 7
|Pro 7:1||- (top)|
“instruction.” See commentary on Proverbs 1:8.(top)
|Pro 7:3||- (top)|
“relative.” The idea is of the closest friendship.a It does not mean “blood relative,” but more like we call intimate friends of the family, “aunt” or “uncle” as an honorary position.
“to keep you from.” It is important to see that the things that keep us from the strange woman and foreign woman are the things collectively back to Proverbs 7:1.
“foreign woman.” Literally, “foreign.” She is another man’s wife, and in the biblical culture, there would be little to no chance of meeting her. She is a stranger, but in this context an adulteress.
“flatters with her words.” The literal Hebrew is more like, “makes her words smooth.” Michael Fox says this idiom “always refers to insincere talk (or glances, in Ps. 36:3).a
|Pro 7:6||- (top)|
“youths.” The Hebrew is literally “sons,” but the reading, “I saw among the sons” is awkward in English.
“sense.” The Hebrew word is leb (#03820 לֵב), which is often translated “heart,” but this is one of those cases where that translation would cause confusion. In modern English, the word “heart” usually refers to emotion or passion, but that is not its meaning here. The function of the brain was unknown in biblical times, so things that we generally assign to the brain, like thinking, attitudes, understanding, and good sense, were assigned to the heart. In this case, the young man lacked “good sense.”
[For more on the Hebrew word leb and “heart,” see commentary on Proverbs 15:21, “sense.”](top)
|Pro 7:8||- (top)|
“at dusk.” Young men with nothing to do would walk the streets of a city through the evening and night, just as people today go to various places and “just hang out” until the wee hours of the morning.
“the middle of the night and the gloomy darkness.” This phrase confuses people because it cannot be “dusk” and the middle of the night. Many translators try to get around this in their translations, but that is what the text says. The second phrase is somewhat hyperbolic and also metaphorical. It is hyperbolic to show that what is happening between the young man and the adulteress is happening in the dark when people cannot see well, and the “gloomy darkness” is a double entendre for the fact that it is dark outside, and there is also “darkness” in what they are doing—they are “walking in darkness.”
[For more on “gloomy darkness,” see commentary on Proverbs 4:19.](top)
“the woman.” (As per the LXX, and followed by the ESV). The woman of verse 8.
“dressed as a prostitute.” She was not a prostitute, she was another man’s wife, but she dressed as a prostitute to make her actions seem more legitimate. Prostitution was an accepted practice in the culture of the Bible, although certainly not condoned by Mosaic Law. This is the Hebrew word for a street prostitute, not a “sacred prostitute,” someone connected to cultic temple prostitution. The fact that the text says she was dressed like a prostitute almost certainly means that she had a veil on (cp. Gen. 38:14). The veil would identify her as a prostitute and also hide her true identity, which, as the wife of a homeowner in town, she would want to conceal from the public.
“cunning.” The Hebrew word means “guarded,” “secret,” or “hidden.” Her true self, her true motives, and the true consequences for being with her are all hidden from the unsuspecting person.(top)
|Pro 7:11||- (top)|
“square.” The Hebrew refers to a broad, open place. We would think of the city square. The Hebrew is plural, suggesting that she is all over the city at the various open places (for example, if the city had more than one gate there would be more than one broad plaza), not just close to home.
“at every corner.” One adulteress cannot be at every corner. The text is making the point that there are lots of wanton women, just as there are lots of immoral men. You can find trouble in lots of places if you go looking for it. The key is to want to maintain a godly walk and learning to avoid trouble.(top)
“shamelessly.” The literal Hebrew is an idiom, “with a strong face,” meaning that she has conviction. She is not doubtful or double-minded about her sexual immorality. She knows what she is doing and is not deterred in any way by the idea that it is wrong or that people, including her husband, will be hurt. It is a good lesson for people to learn that such evil people exist in our society. Sometimes Christians are so afraid of making a bad judgment about a person that we make excuses for people who are openly evil. That is not wise. As Jesus taught us, we are to judge with a righteous judgment (John 7:24), and if a person is evil, that means calling them evil. Jesus set the example for us (Matt. 23:13-33). Paul put overtly sexually immoral people out of the church (1 Cor. 5:2, 13).(top)
“I made peace offerings.” The Hebrew is highly idiomatic. The Hebrew sentence has no verb, and simply reads, “Peace offerings before me,” which meant she was for some reason obligated to offer a peace offering. The woman had offered her peace offering that day, so she had fresh meat at home for a feast. When a person offered a peace offering, they got to eat part of the meat, which was a blessing. The great majority of people did not eat much meat in the biblical culture. Most of the people were poor and did not have herds or flocks that were big enough to allow people to regularly kill and eat an animal. Also, there was no reliable way to preserve the meat in that hot and often humid climate, so any animal that was killed had to be eaten quickly.
Also, when an animal was killed for food for the family, it was usually an older animal that could no longer bear young, give milk, or support the herd and family in other ways, so the meat was often not the best quality. In contrast, the meat from sacrifices offered to God was choice meat, because God required young and unblemished animals to be sacrificed to Him. This ungodly woman was using the good, fresh meat that she had at home as extra leverage to get the man into her house.
[For information on the Peace Offering (called the “Fellowship Offering” in some versions), see Leviticus 3 and 7:11-34, but especially Lev. 7:15-16.](top)
“came out to ... diligently seek your face.” The woman is a liar. She flatters this particular young man, when in actuality she would have willingly been with any young man. She is rebellious and does not stay at home, but waits outside for people she can deceive into participating in her sin (Prov. 7:11-12). Sin weaves a web in people’s lives with many interconnecting strands. Sexual sin is life-dominating—the sinner must constantly plan how to have the illicit sex and not get caught, and weave a web of lies to cover his or her sin. This adulteress thinks nothing of lying to the young man, lying is part of the sin of adultery.
“face.” The Hebrew is “face,” here meaning the person himself, particularly in a close or even intimate relationship.(top)
“embroidered fabrics.” The meaning of the Hebrew is debated, something that is reflected in the translations. For example, “striped cloths” (ASV); “colored linen” (HCSB; ESV); “richly colored fabric” (NET); “embroidered stuff” (NJB); and “dark-hued stuff” (Rotherham). What is not debated is that the adulteress had gone out of her way to make her bed alluring. There is a lesson here for married couples: people never lose their desire for romance, pleasure, and special treatment. If an adulteress can make her bed special to lure in victims, married couples can do it to keep the marriage fresh and fun.(top)
|Pro 7:17||- (top)|
“Come.” She is pressuring him to act quickly.
“love.” The Hebrew word we translate “love” is in the plural, meaning a lot of love, or “much love.” The woman entices the man, saying they would have “much love,” or make love all night, “until the morning.”(top)
“my husband.” The woman will not be able to hide the fact she is married when she gets the young man into her house, so she comes right out and addresses the subject in a way designed to allay any concerns he may have.
“home.” The Hebrew is literally, “at his house,” but translating it that way might confuse the reader as to whether her husband had another house.(top)
“come home.” The Hebrew is literally, “to his house.” See commentary on Proverbs 7:19, “home.”(top)
“great.” The Hebrew word “great” can also mean “many,” but the word “persuasion” is singular in the Hebrew, so we felt “great” was the better choice here. The woman had “great” (and many) persuasion; she pressured him in many ways, and allured him with the promise of good food and all-night sex.
“seduces.” The Hebrew verb is causative. This is expressed differently in different versions. She pressured him until he yielded.
“seductiveness of her lips.” The Hebrew uses the idiom, “with the smoothness of her lips.”(top)
“Suddenly.” This paints the picture of the young man who has been talking with the woman, considering her words and her proposition, and then “suddenly,” impulsively, he reacts and follows her. This is the opposite of wisdom. Wisdom considers her ways (Prov. 21:29), while he is acting impulsively on his carnal desires.(top)
“until an arrow pierces his liver.” The snare holds the stag until it can be killed, but here the thought is brought over and applied to the man as well. He is led astray (Prov. 7:21) and becomes like an ox going to the slaughter, like a stag caught in a snare about to be killed by an arrow. But the text is such that it can be the man who is pieced by the arrow and killed, and this is confirmed in Proverbs 7:26. The woman’s sin “pierces” the man, who dies. By his willing participation in evil, he eventually becomes evil and suffers the consequences.(top)
|Pro 7:24||- (top)|
“ways.” The Hebrew word is usually translated “roads,” but here “ways” fits better in English.(top)
|Pro 7:26||- (top)|
“many roads to Sheol.” Sheol is the state of being dead, and in this context, it refers to being physically dead in this life, and also everlastingly dead in the next life. It is a profound statement that the house of the adulteress has many roads leading to Sheol. Adultery is a life-dominating sin, and people involved in it not only are involved in sexual sin, they are covenant breakers, liars, and hurtful to others. Roads like that lead to death.(top)