Proverbs 7
Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
Fifteenth Address. Chap. Proverbs 7:1-27. The Evil Woman

The subject of the last section of the foregoing chapter (Proverbs 6:20-35) is continued throughout this chapter. An earnest call to obedient attention (Proverbs 7:1-4) is followed by a graphic description of the subtle tempter and her victim, as in a drama acted before the eyes (Proverbs 7:5-23), and by a solemn dissuasive based upon the ruinous consequences of yielding (Proverbs 7:24-27).

My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee.
1. The LXX. add at the end of this verse,

“My son, fear the Lord and thou shalt be strong,

And beside him, fear none other.”

Proverbs 7:1-4] Compare the similar exhortations Proverbs 1:8-9, Proverbs 2:1-5, Proverbs 3:1; Proverbs 3:3; Proverbs 3:21-22, Proverbs 4:20-21, Proverbs 6:20-23.

Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye.
2. the apple] i.e. the pupil: “an emblem of that which is tenderest and dearest, and therefore guarded with the most jealous care,” Psalm 17:8, note in this Series. Comp. Deuteronomy 32:10; Zechariah 2:8.

Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart.
3. upon thy fingers] like some precious, engraved ring, at once an ornament and a memento.

The reference to the phylactery “placed at the bend of the left arm,” the thong of which “was wound about the arm in a spiral line, which ended at the top of the middle finger” (Smith’s Dict. of Bible, Frontlets) is less probable; though the Pharisee might no doubt read into such a passage as this a sanction of his broad phylactery.

Say unto wisdom, Thou art my sister; and call understanding thy kinswoman:
4. kinswoman] Lit. known, i.e. acquaintance, or intimate friend, γνώριμος, LXX.; amica, Vulg. In the only two other places, however, in which the word occurs (Ruth 2:1; Ruth 3:2) it is used in the sense of kinsman. Comp. Job 17:14.

That they may keep thee from the strange woman, from the stranger which flattereth with her words.
5. strange woman … stranger] See Proverbs 2:16, note.

flattereth with] “Heb. maketh smooth her words,” R.V. marg.

For at the window of my house I looked through my casement,
6. casement] Or, lattice, R.V., as the same Heb. word is translated in A.V. in Jdg 5:28, the only other place in which it occurs.

Proverbs 7:7-9. A few graphic strokes draw the picture of the victim. He is not yet positively vicious; but his feeble moral character (Proverbs 7:7), his thoughtless running into danger (Proverbs 7:8), and the perilous hour he chooses (Proverbs 7:9), conspire to render him an easy prey.

And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding,
7. simple] See Proverbs 1:4; Proverbs 1:22, notes.

Passing through the street near her corner; and he went the way to her house,
In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night:
9. black and dark night] Lit. in the pupil (of the eye) of the night, and the darkness. The Heb. word for pupil is the same as that rendered apple (of thine eye), Proverbs 7:2. It is used again poetically, as here, in Proverbs 20:20, in the blackest darkness, R.V. lit. in the pupil (of the eye) of darkness.

The short twilight of those latitudes is quickly followed by the blackness of night: which things are here perchance an allegory.

And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart.
10. attire of a harlot] Comp. Genesis 38:14; Ezekiel 16:16; Ezekiel 16:25; Bar 6:43.

subtil] Lit. hidden, or kept close, and so, subtil, or wily, because she keeps such strict watch over her heart as not to allow its true motives and feelings to appear.

The LXX. and Vulg. understand it to refer to her action on the hearts or passions of her victims, ἣ ποιεῖ νέων ἐξίπτασθαι καρδίας, præparata ad capiendas animas.

(She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house:
11. loud] or clamorous, R.V., as the word is rendered in the parallel passage Proverbs 9:13, A.V.

stubborn] Rather, refractory, like a restive animal, as the same Heb. word is used of a heifer that casts off all restraint, Hosea 4:16, where R.V. renders stubborn, though here wilful. Comp. our expression, unbridled lust.

Now is she without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner.)
12. without … streets] Rather, in the streets, in the open spaces, or squares.

corner] Where two or more ways meet, and there is therefore more likelihood of passers-by. Comp. Matthew 6:5.

So she caught him, and kissed him, and with an impudent face said unto him,
13. with an impudent face] An excellent translation (Lit. she strengthened, or hardened her face, and said, A.V. and R.V. marg.), following the LXX. ἀναιδεῖ προσώπῳ, and the Vulg. procaci vultu.

I have peace offerings with me; this day have I payed my vows.
14. with me] Lit. upon me, as A.V. marg., which may either and more probably mean, I am, as it were, loaded with them, you have come just when I wanted you, because there is abundance of good cheer in my house; or, they were incumbent upon me, due from me (R.V. marg.).

The flesh of “peace-offerings for thanksgiving” was to be eaten on the day on which it was offered; but if it were “a vow, or a freewill offering,” what remained might be eaten on the morrow (Leviticus 7:15-16). She would represent him therefore as having happily lighted on her feast-day, when she was looking out and longing for his company.

It is most unnatural to suppose that a foreign woman would thus accommodate herself to Jewish religious customs and seasons, especially when it is remembered that the example of accommodation set by the Court was quite the other way (1 Kings 11:1-8). On the other hand, the desecration of sacred Seasons and religious Festivals to secular or even sinful purposes, which was only too common in Israel (Isaiah 1:11-15; Amos 5:21-22), might only too easily find a parallel in Christian times and countries.

Therefore came I forth to meet thee, diligently to seek thy face, and I have found thee.
I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with carved works, with fine linen of Egypt.
16. deckt … with. coverings] Lit. covered … with coverings, or cushioned … with cushions, the words being two forms of the same Heb. root, which does not occur elsewhere.

bed] or, couch: a different and more poetic word than that in Proverbs 7:17. It is used for a couch of moss and flowers, “also our couch is green,” Song of Solomon 1:16.

with carved works &c.] Rather, with striped cloths of the yarn of Egypt, R.V.

If the rendering of A.V., “And king Solomon had horses brought out of Egypt and linen yarn” (1 Kings 10:28), could stand, we should have an interesting historical light thrown upon this verse. It is now, however, generally thought that the Hebrew word (lit. string) does not mean yarn, but a string, or drove of horses. “And the horses which Solomon had were brought out of Egypt; and the king’s merchants received them in droves, each drove at a price,” R.V. (See note there in this Series.) The historical notice, however, is still relevant, as showing the commercial relations of Palestine with Egypt in the time of Solomon.

linen] or, yarn, R.V. The Heb. word occurs only here, and is thought by Lange and others to be akin to the Greek word ὀθόνη, fine linen in classical Greek, but in later Greek used more widely, Acts 10:11; Acts 11:5. The LXX. render, ἀμφιτάποις (with cloths hairy or shaggy on both sides) ἔστρωκα τοῖς ἀπʼ Αἰγύπτου.

I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon.
17. perfumed] or sprinkled, R.V. marg.; διέῤῥαγκα, LXX.; aspersi, Vulg. No sensual gratification shall be wanting. For a similar perfuming of garments see Psalm 45:8; Song of Solomon 3:6; Song of Solomon 4:14.

Come, let us take our fill of love until the morning: let us solace ourselves with loves.
For the goodman is not at home, he is gone a long journey:
19. the goodman] Heb. the man, i.e. her husband. There is no fear of detection. See for the reason why this is urged, Proverbs 6:34-35.

He hath taken a bag of money with him, and will come home at the day appointed.
20. a bag of money] to cover his expenses for a considerable time.

day appointed] Rather, fall moon. Comp. Psalm 81:3, in the time appointed, A.V. (as here), but full moon, R.V.

“A fortnight later, as now it would seem to have been new moon when the nights are dark.” Nutt, in O. T. Comm. for English Readers.

With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him.
He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks;
22. straightway] “Heb. suddenly,” A.V. and R.V. margins. He has been as one hesitating on the brink. Now he takes the sudden plunge. “Here is evidently a stroke in the picture of the profoundest psychological truth.” Lange, Comm.

as a fool to the correction of the stocks] This rendering is reached by transposing the Heb. words fool and stocks. The rendering of R.V. text, as fetters to the correction of the fool, is literal, and is taken to mean, as senselessly and as certainly as the dumb instruments of his punishment dog the steps of the fool. The alternative of R.V. marg., as one in fetters, is admissible in grammar, but loses the point of comparison, viz. his entire oblivion of consequences. The reading of the LXX., ὥσπερ κύων ἐπὶ δεσμούς, “as a dog to his chain,” keeps all three comparisons to animals, and at the same time favours the suggestion that the text is corrupt.

Till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life.
23. dart] Rather, arrow, R.V.; sagitta, Vulg. The LXX. have ἢ ὡς ἔλαφος τοξεύματι πεπληγὼς εἰς τὸ ἧπαρ.

Hearken unto me now therefore, O ye children, and attend to the words of my mouth.
24. ye children] Rather, Now, therefore, my sons, &c., R.V. It is the same word as that which opens this appeal (Proverbs 7:1), and is constantly used by the Teacher throughout these addresses. See Proverbs 1:8, note.

Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths.
For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her.
26. many strong] This is the rendering of a single Heb. word, which may mean mighty, as it usually does, or (comp. the use of the verb in Psalm 40:5; Psalm 40:12 [Hebrews 6, 13]) many. Lit. mighty ones, or numerous ones, are all her slain, i.e. the whole number of those slain by her amount to a mighty host, as it is happily rendered in R.V. The thought is not so much of the individual strength of her victims as of their great number, as the parallelism indicates: ἀναρίθμητοί εἰσιν οὒς πεφόνευκε, “numberless are they whom she has slain,” LXX.

Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.
27. the way] Lit. the ways. The plural may perhaps be used here, and in the similar phrase, the ways of death (Proverbs 14:12, Proverbs 16:25), to denote that however the paths may differ, the end is the same.

hell] Heb. Sheol. See Proverbs 5:5, note, and comp. Proverbs 2:18.

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