Proverbs 31 – “Speech of Lemuel’s Mother; Acrostic about the Woman of Valor”

Hebrew-English Text
I. Summary
Lemuel’s mother lectures her son about women, wine, and kingship. A woman of valor is praised in an alphabetic acrostic.

II. Photo
Lemuel’s mother speaks about alcohol: “Give strong drink to the hapless and wine to the embittered. Let them drink and forget their poverty, and put their troubles out of mind.” (vv. 6-7)

III. Select Verses
1: The words of Lemuel, king of Massa, with which his mother admonished him:
3-4: Do not give your strength to women, Your vigor, to those who destroy kings. Wine is not for kings, O Lemuel; Not for kings to drink, Nor any strong drink for princes.
6-7: Give strong drink to the hapless And wine to the embittered. Let them drink and forget their poverty, And put their troubles out of mind.
10-12: What a rare find is a capable wife! Her worth is far beyond that of rubies.  Her husband puts his confidence in her, And lacks no good thing. She is good to him, never bad, All the days of her life.
18: She sees that her business thrives; Her lamp never goes out at night.
20: She gives generously to the poor; Her hands are stretched out to the needy.
30: Grace is deceptive, Beauty is illusory; It is for her fear of the LORD That a woman is to be praised.

IV. Outline

1-9. Speech of Lemuel’s mother
    1. Superscription
    2-9. Exhortation
10-31. Acrostic: the woman of valor

V. Comment
Proverbs 31 is made up of two units, a speech made by Lemuel’s mother and an acrostic poem about a woman of valor. In regards to the latter, Fox writes: “The book of Proverbs is devoted to cultivating wise men. Throughout it addresses men’s concerns (such as avoiding promiscuous women), and the wise people it describes are almost all men. Now it concludes by describing a wise woman, but this too is a man’s concern. The poem praises her capabilities in bringing income into the home, caring for her household, showing charity to the poor, speaking wisdom and kindness, and living in fear of God… Contrary to a common modern stereotype of ancient women, this one has considerable independence in interacting with outsiders and conducting her business, and she can even purchase real estate.” (890)

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
Michael Fox, Proverbs 10-31 (Anchor Yale Bible 18B; New Haven: Yale, 2009).
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Proverbs 30 – “The Words of Agur; Assorted Sayings”

Hebrew-English Text
I. Summary
Agur praises the words of God and asks for an honest and simple life. A number of proverbs are presented, many of which describe a group of four related things.

II. Photo
A proverb about animals: “Four are among the tiniest on earth, Yet they are the wisest of the wise… The locusts have no king, Yet they all march forth in formation.” (vv. 24, 27)

III. Select Verses    
1: The words of Agur son of Jakeh, [man of] Massa; The speech of the man to Ithiel, to Ithiel and Ucal:
4: Who has ascended heaven and come down? Who has gathered up the wind in the hollow of his hand? Who has wrapped the waters in his garment? Who has established all the extremities of the earth? What is his name or his son’s name, if you know it?
5-6: Every word of God is pure, A shield to those who take refuge in Him.  Do not add to His words, Lest He indict you and you be proved a liar.
8b-10: Give me neither poverty nor riches, But provide me with my daily bread,  Lest, being sated, I renounce, saying, “Who is the LORD?” Or, being impoverished, I take to theft And profane the name of my God.
15b-16: Three things are insatiable; Four never say, “Enough!”:  Sheol, a barren womb, Earth that cannot get enough water, And fire which never says, “Enough!”
18-20: Three things are beyond me; Four I cannot fathom:  How an eagle makes its way over the sky; How a snake makes its way over a rock; How a ship makes its way through the high seas; How a man has his way with a maiden. Such is the way of an adulteress: She eats, wipes her mouth, And says, “I have done no wrong.”

IV. Outline

1-9. The words of Agur
    1. Superscription
    2-3. Declaration of humility
    4-6. Lesson
    7-9. Request for honesty and simplicity
10-33. Assorted sayings
    10. Slandering a slave
    11-15a. The needy person
    15b-16. Four insatiable things
    17. Contempt for parents
    18-20. Four wondrous things; A fifth
    21-23. Four unbearable things
    24-28. Four wise creatures
    29-31. Four creatures with great stride
    32. Arrogance
    33. Causing strife

V. Comment
No comment today. Stay tuned.

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
Michael Fox, Proverbs 10-31 (Anchor Yale Bible 18B; New Haven: Yale, 2009).
Photo copied from http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/01/photogalleries/locust-swarm-theory-serotonin/images/primary/090130-04-swarm-theory-desert-locusts-461.jpg

Proverbs 29 – “Assorted Sayings”

Hebrew-English Text
I. Summary
A number of individual proverbs are related.

II. Photo
A proverb about disciplining a slave: “A slave cannot be disciplined by words; Though he may comprehend, he does not respond.” (v. 19)

III. Select Verses    
7: A righteous man is concerned with the cause of the wretched; A wicked man cannot understand such concern.
14: A king who judges the wretched honestly, His throne will be established forever.
15: Rod and reproof produce wisdom, But a lad out of control is a disgrace to his mother.
19: A slave cannot be disciplined by words; Though he may comprehend, he does not respond.
21: A slave pampered from youth Will come to a bad end.
23: A man’s pride will humiliate him, But a humble man will obtain honor.
24: He who shares with a thief is his own enemy; He hears the imprecation and does not tell.
26: Many seek audience with a ruler, But it is from the LORD that a man gets justice.
27: The unjust man is an abomination to the righteous, And he whose way is straight is an abomination to the wicked.

IV. Outline
1. Stubbornness
2. Righteous/wicked rulers
3. Wisdom
4. Righteous/wicked rulers
5. Flattery
6-7. The righteous/wicked
8. Scoffers
9. The fool
10. The blameless
11. The dullard
12. Rulership
13. Oppressing the poor
14. Righteous rulership
15. Reproof
16. The righteous/wicked
17. Discipline
18. Instruction
19. Discipline for a slave
20. Quick speech
21. A spoiled slave
22. Anger
23. Pride and humility
24. Helping a thief
25. Trusting in God
26. Rulership
27. The righteous/wicked

V. Comment
No comment today. Stay tuned.

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
Michael Fox, Proverbs 10-31 (Anchor Yale Bible 18B; New Haven: Yale, 2009).
Photo copied from http://indianapublicmedia.org/amomentofscience/files/2009/07/whip.jpg

Proverbs 28 – “Assorted Sayings”

Hebrew-English Text
I. Summary
A number of individual proverbs are related.

II. Photo
A proverb about confession: “He who covers up his faults will not succeed; He who confesses and gives them up will find mercy.” (v. 13)

III. Select Verses    
6: Better is a poor man who lives blamelessly Than a rich man whose ways are crooked.
9: He who turns a deaf ear to instruction — His prayer is an abomination.
11: A rich man is clever in his own eyes, But a perceptive poor man can see through him.
13: He who covers up his faults will not succeed; He who confesses and gives them up will find mercy.
15: A roaring lion and a prowling bear Is a wicked man ruling a helpless people.
19: He who tills his land will have food in plenty, But he who pursues vanities will have poverty in plenty.
21: To be partial is not right; A man may do wrong for a piece of bread.
27: He who gives to the poor will not be in want, But he who shuts his eyes will be roundly cursed.

IV. Outline
1. The righteous/wicked
2. Rulership
3. The poor
4. The wicked
5. Understanding
6. The rich/poor and righteous/wicked
7. Instruction
8. Loaning with interest
9. Instruction
10. Misleading the righteous
11. The rich/poor
12. The righteous/wicked
13. Admitting ones errors
14. Fear; Stubbornness
15. A wicked ruler
16. Rulership
17. Bloodguilt
18. Upright and crooked paths
19. Work
20. Prosperity
21. Favoritism
22. Chasing wealth
23. Reproof
24. Stealing from one’s parents
25. Trusting in God
26. Wisdom
27. Charity
28. The righteous/wicked

V. Comment
No comment today. Stay tuned.

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
Michael Fox, Proverbs 10-31 (Anchor Yale Bible 18B; New Haven: Yale, 2009).
Photo copied from http://www.futurity.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/confess_1.jpg

Proverbs 27 – “Assorted Sayings”

Hebrew-English Text
I. Summary
A number of individual proverbs are related.

II. Photo
A lesson about marriage: “An endless dripping on a rainy day and a contentious wife are alike.” (v. 15)

III. Select Verses    
1: Do not boast of tomorrow, For you do not know what the day will bring.
2:  Let the mouth of another praise you, not yours, The lips of a stranger, not your own.
5: Open reproof is better than concealed love.
7: A sated person disdains honey, But to a hungry man anything bitter seems sweet.
8: Like a sparrow wandering from its nest Is a man who wanders from his home.
15: An endless dripping on a rainy day and a contentious wife are alike.
17: As iron sharpens iron So a man sharpens the wit of his friend.
19: As face answers to face in water, So does one man’s heart to another.

IV. Outline
1. The future
2. Self praise
3. The fool
4. Jealousy
5. Reproof
6. Friends and enemies
7. Hunger
8. The peripatetic
9. Incense, oil; Friendship
10. Family and friendship
11. Wisdom
12. The simpleton
13. Standing surety
14. Blessing a friend
15-16. The contentious wife
17. Friendship
18. Work; Respecting a master
19. Projecting one’s feelings
20. Desire
21. Pride
22. The fool
23-27. The benefits of herding

V. Comment
No comment today. Stay tuned.

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
Michael Fox, Proverbs 10-31 (Anchor Yale Bible 18B; New Haven: Yale, 2009).
Photo copied from http://www.realty4atlanta.com/files/2008/07/water-drip1.jpg

Proverbs 26 – “Assorted Sayings”

Hebrew-English Text
I. Summary
A number of proverbs are presented about the fool, the lazy man, and the deceptive enemy.

II. Photo
The author addresses laziness: “The door turns on its hinge, and the lazy man on his bed.” (v. 14)

III. Select Verses    
1: Like snow in summer and rain at harvesttime, So honor is not fitting for a dullard.
4-5: Do not answer a dullard in accord with his folly, Else you will become like him. Answer a dullard in accord with his folly, Else he will think himself wise.
7: As legs hang limp on a cripple, So is a proverb in the mouth of dullards.
14: The door turns on its hinge, And the lazy man on his bed.
16: The lazy man thinks himself wiser Than seven men who give good advice.
17: A passerby who gets embroiled in someone else’s quarrel Is like one who seizes a dog by its ears.
21: Charcoal for embers and wood for a fire And a contentious man for kindling strife.
23: Base silver laid over earthenware Are ardent lips with an evil mind.
27: He who digs a pit will fall in it, And whoever rolls a stone, it will roll back on him.

IV. Outline
1. The fool
2. A gratuitous curse
3-12. The fool
13-16. The lazy man
17. Minding one’s business
18-19. Cheating
20-22. The querulous man
23-28. The deceptive enemy

V. Comment
Verses 4-5, which seem to contradict each other, were publicized by the Rabbis when they considered banning the book of Proverbs because of its many contradictions (b. Shabbat 30b). These two verses read as follows:

  • Do not answer a dullard in accord with his folly, Else you will become like him.
  • Answer a dullard in accord with his folly, Else he will think himself wise.

While the Rabbis attempt to resolve the contradiction by adding background information (v. 4 refers to matters of Torah, v. 5 refers to ordinary affairs), it seems that each proverb was meant to be used in different situations. Indeed, no single proverb says it all.

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
Michael Fox, Proverbs 10-31 (Anchor Yale Bible 18B; New Haven: Yale, 2009).
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Proverbs 25 – “Assorted Sayings”

waterglassHebrew-English Text
I. Summary
A number of short, individual proverbs are related.

II. Photo
The author teaches a lesson: “Like cold water to a parched throat is good news from a distant land!” (v. 25)

III. Select Verses

v. 6: Do not exalt yourself in the king’s presence; Do not stand in the place of nobles.
v. 17: Visit your neighbor sparingly, Lest he have his surfeit of you and loathe you.
vv. 21-22: If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; If he is thirsty, give him water to drink. You will be heaping live coals on his head, And the LORD will reward you.
v. 25: Like cold water to a parched throat Is good news from a distant land.
v. 26: Like a muddied spring, a ruined fountain, Is a righteous man fallen before a wicked one.


IV. Outline

1. Title
2-7b. A king
7c-10. Quarreling with a friend, keeping a secret
11. The value of a wise saying
12. The value of good reproach
13. A trusty messenger
14. Gifts not given
15. Patience
16. Too much honey
17. Do not wear out your welcome
18. False testimony
19. False trust
20. Attempting to cheer a person in sorrow
21-22. Do kindness to your enemy
23. Secrecy
24. A contentious wife
25. Good news
26. When the righteous fall before the wicked
27. Too much honey; too much honor
28. An impetuous man

V. Comment
Proverbs 25 is a collection of assorted sayings, and it is introduced as “the proverbs of Solomon, which the men of King Hezekiah of Judah copied.” Many of the chapter’s sayings use striking metaphors and similes, e.g., v. 14: “Like clouds, wind — but no rain — Is one who boasts of gifts not given.” Some of the topics include the king, eating too much honey, treating an enemy kindly, good news, and a messenger.

VI. Works Used
Picture copied from http://web.me.com/waltermoore/WalterMooreForMayor/Essays/Entries/2007/7/20_Water_files/waterglass.jpg