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Go to Bible: Proverbs 5
|Pro 5:1||- (top)|
“discretion.” The Hebrew word is plural, but we express it in the singular in English.(top)
|Pro 5:3||- (top)|
“in the end she.” The Hebrew is literally, “the end of her.” This is the genitive of agency, that is, it refers to the end that she brings about (cp. Bruce Waltke, New International Commentary on the Old Testament: Proverbs. Chapters 1-15, p. 302, n. 7).
This is one of the many verses that shows us that the truly wise person is the one who looks at the end result of a thought or action. Many things that seem “good” or “fun” in the beginning have a terrible, horrific, end.
“two-edged sword.” The Hebrew is literally, “a sword of mouths,” where “mouth” is plural, and the implied meaning is “a sword of two mouths” because swords often have two edges. The use of “the mouth of the sword” was a common idiom that is almost always translated “the edge of the sword” in English Bibles (the Young’s Literal Translation is an exception). There are more than 30 verses in the Old Testament in which swords are personified and people are said to be killed “by the mouth of the sword,” as if the sword was eating the enemy (cp. Gen. 34:26; Exod. 17:13; Num. 21:24; Deut. 13:15; 20:13; Josh. 6:21; 8:24; 10:28, 30, 32, 35, 37, 39; Judg. 1:8, 25; etc.).(top)
|Pro 5:5||- (top)|
“yet she is not aware of it.” The Hebrew verb can be read as a second person masculine singular (“you”) or a third person feminine singular (“she”), which is why the versions differ (“you,” KJV; NAB; YLT. “She,” CJB; NCSB; ESV; NASB; NET; NIV; NLT). The vast majority of the versions favor “she,” and we agree (although it is true that “you” also may not know her ways are unstable and wander from the will of God). The flow of the context is about the woman and how she is, and the subject does not change until the next verse, with the opening, “But now, my sons” (Prov. 7:7), so we favored the reading “she.”
One of the things that makes the ungodly so dangerous to believers is that they are so sincere. Although there are some of them who have a sense that what they are doing is wrong, a large percentage of them think the way they are living their lives is fine. This verse is speaking about an adulteress, but the lesson applies to any sin the ungodly commit; they are so convinced that what they are doing is fine that they speak and act with passion and conviction, and many times that pulls the godly into their ungodly ways. The New Testament warns about this in a plain statement of fact: “Bad company ruins good morals” (1 Cor. 15:33). To maintain godliness in an ungodly world, the believer must know how God wants us to live (which comes in large part from knowing the Bible), and then have the courage of conviction to say “No!” to sin.(top)
|Pro 5:7||- (top)|
|Pro 5:8||- (top)|
|Pro 5:9||- (top)|
|Pro 5:10||- (top)|
|Pro 5:11||- (top)|
|Pro 5:12||- (top)|
|Pro 5:13||- (top)|
|Pro 5:14||- (top)|
|Pro 5:15||- (top)|
|Pro 5:16||- (top)|
|Pro 5:17||- (top)|
“be continually blessed.” The Hebrew verb, “blessed” is in the participle form, thus occurring over a period of time, hence the translation, “be continually blessed.”
“wife of your youth.” The genitive is almost certainly temporal, and means the wife you married when you were young, rather than meaning the wife you have now while you are young. Stable marriages are an important part of a godly society.(top)
“a graceful mountain goat.” In this text, the father (going back to Prov. 5:7) is trying to inspire his son to stop his adultery and become re-infatuated with his wife by telling him that she is loving, beautiful, and satisfying. The compliments in the ancient and agrarian society of the Old Testament can seem like insults today, but we can be sure they were not insults to the women who received those compliments at the time. In Song of Solomon 4:1 and 6:5, the lover pays his beloved a series of compliments that would not be taken well by women today. He says, “your hair is like a flock of goats” (Song 4:1; 6:5), “your teeth are like a flock of sheep” (Song 4:2), “your neck is like the tower of David” (Song 4:4), and “your two breasts are like two fawns” (Song 4:5). He also refers to her as a garden that is locked up, or bolted closed (Song 4:12), and says she is as awesome as an army marching with banners (Song 6:10), which is a compliment that may relate well to men, but most women would not think that way.
Cultural idioms such as these compliments are one reason why Bible versions differ and sometimes why the Bible can be hard to understand. Some versions, such as the REV, think it is important to reproduce the wording of the original text and give the reader a window into the biblical culture. We trust that although most modern women would not like to receive those compliments themselves, they understand that those compliments warmed the hearts of the women of the time. Other versions might have a different point of view, and adapt the compliment to something more complimentary to women today, capturing the idea but not the vocabulary of the ancient world. The Hebrew word in this verse is “mountain goat,” and in the culture of the time they were considered graceful and beautiful.
The father has the right idea. It is important for men to look for the love and beauty in their wives. It is always the case that there might be a prostitute or an adulteress who seems “more exciting” than your wife, but as Proverbs says, in the end she is bitter as wormwood and her path leads down to death.
“satisfy.” The Hebrew verb is ravah (#07301 רָוָה), which in the Qal form means to be filled, but in the Piel form, which it is here, means to drench, saturate, “make saturated with a liquid” (B. Waltke, Proverbs, p. 304, n. 37). So a literal meaning might be, “let her breasts drench you.” This could be a kind of hyperbole and would not necessarily have to refer to the man drinking the woman’s breast milk, but instead just being satisfied with her love, as the context indicates. However, the text certainly does not exclude the possibility of the man drinking her breast milk, because in biblical times big families were common and women were often pregnant or nursing, and also women regularly breast-fed or supplementally breast-fed until the baby was two or even older. For the husband to drink breast milk is considered erotic and/or bonding by some people.
“going astray.” The phrasing, “going astray” is important because the Hebrew word appears three times in five verses (Prov. 5:19, 20, 23). The Hebrew word is shagah (#07686 שָׁגָה), and it means “to go astray, stray, err, go wrong, meander, swerve,” and also refers to being intoxicated, drunk from wine or beer. The man “is drunk,” “wanders about,” or “loses himself” in her love in Prov. 5:19, and also “errs” and “strays” in his folly in Prov 5:23, but it is best to bring the Hebrew into the same English in all three verses to show the connection the father is making. The interplay between the three verses is significant, but it is hard to find one translation that fits all three verses. We settled with “go astray,” which works quite well in all three verses.(top)
“go astray.” See commentary on Proverbs 5:19, “going astray.”
“embrace the bosom.” The Hebrew translated “bosom” is cheq (#02436 חֵיק), and it designates the lower part of the torso below the breasts. Here, “embrace the bosom” is a euphemism for sexual intercourse.(top)
“For a person’s ways.” The Hebrew text (which is literally, “roads of a man”), and the context, indicate that this verse is directed to men, but of course they apply to women as well. However, the primary context of this verse is the husband leaving his wife to be with an adulteress, and the father is reminding his son that God is watching. Implied in the culture, but not stated, is that God is not only watching, but His angel scribes are taking notes, and recording the actions of the man in the record books, which will be opened on Judgment Day (Mal. 3:16; Dan. 7:10; Rev. 20:12).(top)
“his own iniquities will capture him.” It is a consistent theme through Scripture that evil people bring evil upon themselves (see commentary on Prov. 1:18). The word “own” is added for clarity in English. The Bible makes it clear that God is not the one who decides who gets punished for sin and who does not. God does not make people sinful or holy, and God does not randomly pass out retribution for sin. People are captured, suffer, and are eventually punished by and because of their own sin.
“will capture him…seized by.” This is the figure of speech “personification,” where iniquity and sin are portrayed as people who capture and seize and tie up people who defy God by acting sinfully.(top)
“He will die because of lack of discipline.” The Hebrew word musar (#04148 מוּסָר), normally translated “instruction,” is better translated as “discipline” in this context. In the biblical culture, if a person failed to apply what they had been taught, it was spoken of as if he had not been taught, even though it was through his lack of discipline that he had not applied the learning he had received. However, in our Western way of thinking, we do not say the person was not taught, we say he does not have the discipline to apply the teaching. Thus, although the Hebrew word is “instruction,” in this context we would say “discipline,” as most English versions do. The undisciplined person will also become poor (see commentary on Prov. 21:17).
“abundance.” The Hebrew word is rob (#07230 רֹב), and it means “greatness, abundance, multitude.” In this context, it can mean both “great” in the sense of “huge,” or it can mean “great in number.” The more primary meaning in this context seems to be “abundance,” although the man certainly committed some huge sins—so the man had a lot of sins, and some of them were big sins. The native Hebrew reader would see both meanings and get the full picture.
“go astray.” See commentary on Proverbs 5:19, “going astray.”(top)