Proverbs 11 – “Proper and Improper Behavior; The Righteous and Wicked”

6a00d834538d7269e200e54f3d78b28834-800wiHebrew-English Text
I. Summary
Proverbs 11 contains thirty-one individual sayings. While the topics covered are vast, many contrast either proper behavior with improper behavior or the righteous with the wicked.

II. Photo
While many proverbs speak about a man’s relationship to Wisdom, v. 22 speaks about a beautiful woman’s: “Like a gold ring in the snout of a pig Is a beautiful woman bereft of sense.”

III. Important Verses
v. 1: False scales are an abomination to the LORD; An honest weight pleases Him.
v. 8: The righteous man is rescued from trouble And the wicked man takes his place.
v. 10: When the righteous prosper the city exults; When the wicked perish there are shouts of joy.
v. 12: He who speaks contemptuously of his fellowman is devoid of sense; A prudent man keeps his peace.
v. 13: A base fellow gives away secrets, But a trustworthy soul keeps a confidence.
v. 14: For want of strategy an army falls, But victory comes with much planning.
v. 22: Like a gold ring in the snout of a pig Is a beautiful woman bereft of sense.
vv. 24-25: One man gives generously and ends with more; Another stints on doing the right thing and incurs a loss. A generous person enjoys prosperity; He who satisfies others shall himself be sated.

IV. Outline
1. Honesty
2. Pride
3. The righteous and wicked
4. Rightousness
5-11. The righteous and wicked
12. Talking about other people
13. Keeping secrets
14. Planning
15. Going surety
16. Honor and wealth
17. Kindness
18. Honesty
19. Righteousness
20. Crookedness
21. The wicked and righteous
22. Woman and sense
23. The righteous and wicked
24-26. Giving
27. Pursuing good
28. Trusting in wealth
29. Family relationships
30. The wise and righteous
31. Reward

V. Comment
Proverbs 11 is a collection of thirty-one sayings, and many have to do with either proper/improper behavior or the righteous/wicked. While most of the sayings employ antithetical parallelism (see comment to Prov. 10), there are exceptions: vv. 7, 25, 29 (and possibly 16) do not seem to be antithetical.

Many of the proverbs have to do with proper and improper behavior. V. 1 speaks about honesty: “False scales are an abomination (to’avat) to the LORD ; An honest weight (‘even sheleimah) pleases Him.” While the book of Proverbs never directly quotes the Pentateuch, this verse seems to be reflecting – in both meaning and vocabulary – Deut. 25:13-16: “You shall not have in your pouch alternate weights, larger and smaller. You shall not have in your house alternate measures, a larger and a smaller. You must have completely honest weights (‘even sheleimah) and completely honest measures, if you are to endure long on the soil that the LORD your God is giving you. For everyone who does those things, everyone who deals dishonestly, is abhorrent (to’avat) to the LORD your God.” For a similar message, see Lev. 19:35: “You shall not falsify measures of length, weight, or capacity.” For proverbs similar to v. 1 see 16:11, 20:10, 20:23.

Vv. 12-13 speak about controlling one’s speech: “He who speaks contemptuously of his fellowman is devoid of sense; A prudent man keeps his peace. A base fellow gives away secrets, But a trustworthy soul keeps a confidence.” In regards to keeping a secret, Prov. 20:19 is even more forthright: “He who gives away secrets is a base fellow; Do not take up with a garrulous man.” Also see Prov. 25:9.

One interesting proverb is v. 22: “Like a gold ring in the snout of a pig Is a beautiful woman bereft of sense (ta’am).” It is interesting because most proverbs speak of a male’s relationship to wisdom, not a female’s. One similar verse is found at the end of the book  (31:30): “Grace is deceptive, Beauty is illusory; It is for her fear of the LORD That a woman is to be praised.” There are many Biblical verses which describe  a woman’s ring (e.g. Gen 24:47, Ex. 32:2, Isa 3:21, etc.), and Abigail is described as having ta’am “sense” in 1 Sam. 25:32-33 much like in our verse: “David said to Abigail, “Praised be the LORD, the God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me! And blessed be your prudence (ta’amekh), and blessed be you yourself for restraining me from seeking redress in blood by my own hands.”

One verse that remains enigmatic is v. 16: “A graceful woman (‘eishet chein) obtains honor; Ruthless men (‘aritzim) obtain wealth.” As it stands, this verse contrast a woman’s ways with a man’s (the only place in proverbs!), and the antithesis is weak. It is interesting to note that the Septuagint treats this one verse as two separate verses: “A gracious wife brings glory to her husband: but a woman hating righteousness is a theme of dishonor. The slothful come to want: but the diligent support themselves with wealth.” Thus, according to the LXX there is a contrast between two types of woman and two types of men, not a single man and a single woman.

VI. Works Used

(see Commentaries page)

World Biblical Commentary Proverbs (Murphy)
Wisdom Literature: Job, Proverbs, Ruth, Canticles, Ecclesiastes, Esther (FOTL, Murphy)

Photo taken from: http://www.indiebusinessblog.com/indie_business/2007/09/index.html

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