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Bible Commentaries

Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary

Proverbs 7

Verses 1-3

The introduction first counsels in general to a true appreciation of these well-considered life-rules of wisdom.

1 My son, keep my words,

And treasure up my commandments with thee.

2 Keep my commandments, and thou shalt live;

And my instruction as the apple of thine eye.

3 Wind them about thy fingers,

Write them on the tablet of thy heart.

The lxx has after Proverbs 7:1 another distich; but it here disturbs the connection. Regarding צפן , vid., at Proverbs 2:1; אתּך refers, as there, to the sphere of one's own character, and that subjectively. Regarding the imper. וחיה , which must here be translated according to its sense as a conclusion, because it comes in between the objects governed by שׁמר , vid., at Proverbs 4:4. There וחיה is punctuated with Silluk; here, according to Kimchi ( Michlol 125a), with Segol - Athnach, וחיה , as in the Cod. Erfurt. 2 and 3, and in the editions of Athias and Clodius, so that the word belongs to the class פתחין באתנח (with short instead of long vowel by the pausal accent): no reason for this is to be perceived, especially as (Proverbs 4:4) the Tsere ( ê from aj ) which is characteristic of the imper. remains unchanged. Regarding אישׁון העין , Arab. insân el - 'ain , the little man of the eye, i.e., the apple of the eye, named from the miniature portrait of him who looks into it being reflected from it, vid., at Psalms 17:8; the ending ôn is here diminutive, like Syr. achuno , little brother, b e runo , little son, and the like. On Proverbs 7:3, vid., at Proverbs 6:21; Proverbs 3:3. The תפילין שׁל יד

(Note: תפילין , prayer-fillets, phylacteries.)

were wound seven times round the left arm and seven times round the middle finger. The writing on the table of the heart may be regarded as referring to Deuteronomy 6:9 (the Mezuzoth ).

(Note: = the door-posts, afterwards used by the Jews to denote the passages of Scripture written on the door-posts.)

Verses 4-5

The subject-matter of this earnest warning are the admonitions of the teacher of wisdom, and through him of Wisdom herself, who in contrast to the world and its lust is the worthiest object of love, and deserves to be loved with the purest, sincerest love:

4 Say to wisdom: “Thou art my sister!”

And call understanding “Friend;”

5 That they may keep thee from the strange woman,

From the stranger who useth smooth words.

The childlike, sisterly, and friendly relationship serves also to picture forth and designate the intimate confidential relationship to natures and things which are not flesh and blood. If in Arabic the poor is called the brother of poverty, the trustworthy the brother of trustworthiness, and abu , um ( אם ), achu , ucht , are used in manifold ways as the expression for the interchangeable relation between two ideas; so (as also, notwithstanding Ewald, §273b, in many Hebr. proper names) that has there become national, which here, as at Job 17:14; Job 30:29, mediated by the connection of the thoughts, only first appears as a poetic venture. The figurative words of Proverbs 7:4 not merely lead us to think of wisdom as a personal existence of a higher order, but by this representation it is itself brought so near, that אם easily substitutes itself, Proverbs 2:3, in the place of אם . אחתי of Solomon's address to the bride brought home is in its connection compared with Book of Wisdom 8:2. While the ôth of אחות by no means arises from abstr. ûth , but achôth is derived from achajath , מודע (as Ruth 2:1, cf. מודעת , Proverbs 3:2), here by Mugrash מודע , properly means acquaintance, and then the person known, but not in the superficial sense in which this word and the Arab. ma'arfat are used ( e.g., in the Arabic phrase quoted by Fleischer, kanna aṣḥaab ṣarna m'aaraf - nous étions amis, nous en sommes plus que de simples connaissances ), but in the sense of familiar, confidential alliance. The infin. לשׁמרך does not need for its explanation some intermediate thought to be introduced: quod eo conducet tibi ut (Mich.), but connects itself immediately as the purpose: bind wisdom to thyself and thyself to wisdom thus closely that thou mayest therewith guard thyself. As for the rest, vid., Proverbs 2:16; this verse repeats itself here with the variation of one word.

Verses 6-7

How necessary it is for the youth to guard himself by the help of wisdom against the enticements of the wanton woman, the author now shows by a reference to his own observation.

6 For through the window of my house,

From behind the lattice I looked out;

7 Then saw I among the simple ones,

Discerned among the young people, a youth devoid of understanding.

כּי refers indeed to the immediately following clause, yet it actually opens up the whole following exemplification. The connection with Proverbs 7:5 would be closer if instead of the extended Semitic construction it were said: nam quum ...prospicerem vidi , etc. חלּון (from חלל , to bore through) is properly a place where the wall is bored through. אשׁנב .hguor (from שׁנב = Arab. shaniba , to be agreeable, cool, fresh) is the window-lattice or lattice-window, i.e., lattice for drawing down and raising up, which keeps off the rays of the sun. נשׁקף signifies primarily to make oneself long in order to see, to stretch up or out the neck and the head, καραδοκεῖν , Arab. atall , atal'a , and tatall'a of things, imminere , to overtop, to project, to jut in; cf. Arab. askaf of the ostrich, long and bent, with respect to the neck stretching it up, sakaf , abstr. crooked length. And בּעד is thus used, as in Arab. duna , but not b'ad , is used: so placed, that one in relation to the other obstructs the avenue to another person or thing: “I looked forth from behind the lattice-window, i.e., with respect to the persons or things in the room, standing before the lattice-window, and thus looking out into the open air” (Fleischer). That it was far in the night, as we learn at Proverbs 7:9, does not contradict this looking out; for apart from the moon, and especially the lighting of the streets, there were star-lit nights, and to see what the narrator saw there was no night of Egyptian darkness. But because it was night 6a is not to be translated: I looked about among those devoid of experience (thus e.g., Löwenstein); but he saw among these, observed among the youths, who thus late amused themselves without, a young man whose want of understanding was manifest from what further happened. Bertheau: that I might see, is syntactically impossible. The meaning of וארא is not determined by the אבינה following, but conversely אבינה stands under the operation of ו (= אבינה , Nehemiah 13:7), characterizing the historic aorist. Regarding פּתי , vid., at Proverbs 1:4. בּנים is the masc. of בּנות , Arab. benât in the meaning maiden. בבּנים has in correct texts, according to the rules of the accents, the ב raphatum.

(Note: Regarding the Targ. of Proverbs 7:6-7, vid., Perles, Etymologische Studien, 1871, p. 9.)

Verses 8-9

Now follows, whither he saw the young fop [ Laffen ] then go in the darkness.

8 Going up and down the street near her corner,

And he walked along the way to her house,

9 In the twilight, when the day declined,

In the midst of the night and deep darkness.

We may interpret עבר as appos.: juvenem amentem, ambulantem , or as the predicate accus.: vidi juvenem ... ambulantem ; for that one may so express himself in Hebrew (cf. e.g., Isaiah 6:1; Daniel 8:7), Hitzig unwarrantably denies. The passing over of the part. into the finite, 8b, is like Proverbs 2:14, Proverbs 2:17, and that of the inf. Proverbs 1:27; Proverbs 2:8. שׁוּק , Arab. suk (dimin. suweiḳa , to separate, from sikkat , street, alley), still means, as in former times, a broad street, a principal street, as well as an open place, a market-place where business is transacted, or according to its etymon: where cattle are driven for sale. On the street he went backwards and forwards, yet so that he kept near to her corner ( i.e., of the woman whom he waited for), i.e., he never withdrew himself far from the corner of her house, and always again returned to it. The corner is named, because from that place he could always cast a look over the front of the house to see whether she whom he waited for showed herself. Regarding פּנּהּ for פּנּתהּ , vid., at Psalms 27:5: a primary form פּן has never been in use; פּנּים , Zechariah 14:10, is plur. of פּנּהּ . אצל (from אצל , Arab. wasl , to bind) is, as a substantive, the side (as the place where one thing connects itself with another), and thus as a preposition it means (like juxta from jungere ) beside, Ital. allato. דּרכו is the object. accus., for thus are construed verbs eundi ( e.g., Habakkuk 3:12, Num. 30:17, cf. Proverbs 21:22).

Proverbs 7:9

The designations of time give the impression of progress to a climax; for Hitzig unwarrantably denies that נשׁף means the twilight; the Talmud, Berachoth 3b, correctly distinguishes תרי נשׁפי two twilights, the evening and the morning twilight. But the idea is not limited to this narrow sense, and does not need this, since the root-word נשׁף ( vid., at Isaiah 40:24) permits the extension of the idea to the whole of the cool half (evening and night) of the entire day; cf. the parallel of the adulterer who veils himself by the darkness of the night and by a mask on his countenance, Job 24:15 with Jeremiah 13:16. However, the first group of synonyms, בּנשׁף בּערב יום (with the Cod. Frankf. 1294, to be thus punctuated), as against the second, appears to denote an earlier period of the second half of the day; for if one reads, with Hitzig, בּערב יום (after Judges 19:9), the meaning remains the same as with בּערב יום , viz., advesperascente die (Jerome), for ערב = Arab. gharab , means to go away, and particularly to go under, of the sun, and thus to become evening. He saw the youth in the twilight, as the day had declined ( κέκλικεν , Luke 24:29), going backwards and forwards; and when the darkness of night had reached its middle, or its highest point, he was still in his lurking-place. אישׁון לילה , apple of the eye of the night, is, like the Pers. dili scheb , heart of the night, the poetic designation of the middle of the night. Gusset incorrectly: crepusculum in quo sicut in oculi pupilla est nigredo sublustris et quasi mistura lucis ac tenebrarum . אישׁון is, as elsewhere לב , particularly the middle; the application to the night was specially suitable, since the apple of the eye is the black part in the white of the eye (Hitzig). It is to be translated according to the accus., in pupilla noctis et caligine (not caliginis ); and this was probably the meaning of the poet, for a ב is obviously to be supplied to ואפלה .

Verses 10-12

Finally, the young man devoid of understanding sees his waiting rewarded: like meets like.

10 And, lo, a woman coming to meet him,

In the attire of an harlot and of subtle heart.

11 Boisterous is she, and ungovernable;

Her feet have no rest in her own house.

12 At one time before her door, at another in the street,

And again at every corner she places herself on the watch.

Proverbs 7:12 (Hitzig) expresses what is wont to be, instead of a single event, Proverbs 7:11, viz., the custom of a street harlot. But she who is spoken of is not such an one; lurking is not applicable to her (cf. Job 31:9), and, Proverbs 7:11, it is not meant that she is thus inclined.” But Hitzig's rendering of Proverbs 7:11, “she was boisterous ... in her house her feet had no rest,” is inaccurate, since neither היאו nor שׁכנוּ is used. Thus in Proverbs 7:11 and Proverbs 7:12 the poet gives a characteristic of the woman, introduced by הנּהו into the frame of his picture, which goes beyond that which then presented itself to his eyes. We must with Proverbs 7:12 reject also Proverbs 7:11; and even that would not be a radical improvement, since that characteristic lying behind the evident, that which was then evident begins with וּנצרת לב (and subtle in heart). We must thus suppose that the woman was not unknown to the observer here describing her. He describes her first as she then appeared. שׁית Hitzig regards as equivalent to שׁוית , similitude (from שׁוה ), and why? Because שׁית does not mean “to lay against,” but “to place.” But Exodus 33:4 shows the contrary, and justifies the meaning attire, which the word also has in Psalms 73:6. Meîri less suitably compares 2 Kings 9:30, but rightly explains תקון (dressing, ornament), and remarks that שׁית elliptical is equivalent to בּשׁית . It is not the nominative (Bertheau), but the accusative, as תבנית , Psalms 144:12, Ewald, §279d. How Hitzig reaches the translation of ונצרת לב by “and an arrow in her heart” ( et saucia corde )

(Note: Virgil's Aeneid, iv. 1.)

one can only understand by reading his commentary. The usage of the language, Proverbs 4:23, he remarks, among other things, would stamp her as a virtuous person. As if a phrase like נצר לב could be used both sensu bono and sensu malo ! One can guard his heart when he protects it carefully against moral danger, or also when he purposely conceals that which is in it. The part. נצוּר signifies, Isaiah 1:8, besieged (blockaded), Ezekiel 16:12, protected, guarded, and Isaiah 48:6; Isaiah 65:4, concealed, hidden. Ewald, §187b, refers these three significations in the two passages in Isaiah and in the passage before us to צרר , Niph. נצר (as נגל ); but (1) one would then more surely take צוּר (cf. נמּול , נבכים ) as the verbal stem; (2) one reaches the idea of the concealed (the hidden) easier from that of the preserved than from that of the confined. As one says in Lat. homo occultus, tectus, abstrusus , in the sense of κρυψίνους , so it is said of that woman נצרת לב , not so much in the sense of retenta cor, h.e. quae quod in corde haberet non pandebat , Fr. retenue (Cocc.), as in the sense of custodita cor, quae intentionem cordis mentemque suam callide novit premere (Mich.): she is of a hidden mind, of a concealed nature; for she feigns fidelity to her husband and flatters her paramours as her only beloved, while in truth she loves none, and each of them is to her only a means to an end, viz., to the indulgence of her worldly sensual desire. For, as the author further describes here, she is המיּה (fem. of המה = המי , as Proverbs 1:21; Isaiah 22:2), tumultuosa , externally as internally impetuous, because full of intermingling lust and deceit ( opp. ἡσύχιος , 1 Peter 3:4; 1 Timothy 2:11), and סררת , self-willed, not minding the law of duty, of discretion, or of modesty (from סרר , Arab. sharr , pervicacem, malum esse ). She is the very opposite of the noiseless activity and the gentle modesty of a true house-wife, rude, stubborn, and also vagrant like a beast in its season (Hosea 4:14): in domo ipsius residere nequeunt pedes ejus ; thus not οἰκουρός or οἰκουργός (Titus 2:5), far removed from the genuine woman - like εἴσω ἥσυχον μένειν δόμων

(Note: Eurip. Herac.) - a radt , as they call such a one in Arab. (Wünsche on Hosea 12:1)

or as she is called in Aram. נפקת בּרא .

Proverbs 7:12

This verse shows how she conducts herself when she wanders abroad. It is no common street-walker who is designated (no “ Husterin ,” Arab. ḳaḥbt , after which also the female demon-name (Arab.) se'alâ is explained), but that licentious married wife, who, no better than such a strumpet when she wanders abroad, hunts after lovers. The alternating פּעם (properly a stroke) Fleischer compares with the Arab. synonyms, marrt , a going over, karrt , a going back, una volta, una fiata, une fois (Orelli, Synon. der Zeit und Ewigkeit, p. 51). Regarding חוּץ , vid., at Proverbs 5:16: it is the free space without, before the house-door, or also before the gate of the city; the parallelism speaks here and at Proverbs 1:20 more in favour of the former signification.

Verse 13

After this digression the poet returns to the subject, and further describes the event as observed by himself.

And she laid hold on him and kissed him;

Put on a bold brow and said to him.

The verb נשׁק is here, after its primary signification, connected with the dat.: osculum fixit ei . Thus also Genesis 27:26 is construed, and the Dagesh in לּו is, as there, Dag. forte conj., after the law for which the national grammarians have coined the technical name אתי מרחיק ( veniens e longinquo, “coming out of the distance,” i.e., the attraction of a word following by one accented on the penult.). The penult.-accenting of נשׁקה is the consequence of the retrogression of the accent ( נסוג אחור ), which, here where the word from the first had the penult, only with Metheg, and thus with a half a tone, brings with it the dageshing of the לו following, as the original penultima-accenting of והחזיקה does of the בו which follows it, for the reading בּו by Löwenstein is contrary to the laws of punctuation of the Textus receptus under consideration here.

(Note: Vid., Baer's Torath Emeth, p. 29f., and Psalmen-Commentar under Psalms 52:5.)

As בו and לו have received the doubling Dagesh, so on the other hand, according to Ewald, §193b, it has disappeared from העזה (written with Raphe according to Kimchi, Michlol 145a). And as נשׁקה has the tone thrown back, so the proper pausal ותּאמר is accented on the ult., but without attracting the לו following by dageshing, which is the case only when the first of the two words terminates in the sound of ā ( āh ). העז פניו is said of one who shows firmness of hardness of countenance (Arab. slabt alwajh ), i.e., one who shows shamelessness, or, as we say, an iron forehead (Fl.).

Verses 14-15

She laid hold on him and kissed him, both of which actions were shameless, and then, assuming the passivity and modesty befitting the woman, and disregarding morality and the law, she said to the youth:

14 “To bring peace-offerings was binding upon me,

To-day have I redeemed my vows.

15 Therefore am I come out to meet thee,

To seek thy face, and have found thee.”

We have translated זבחי שׁלמים “peace-offerings,” proceeding on the principle that שׁלם (sing. only Amos 5:22, and on the Phoenician altar at Marseilles) denotes contracting friendship with one (from שׁלם , to hold friendly relationship), and then the gifts having this in view; for the idea of this kind of offering is the attestation and confirmation of communion with God. But in view of the derivatives שׁלמנים and שׁלּוּם , it is perhaps more appropriate to combine שׁלם with שׁלּם , to discharge perfectly, and to translate it thank-payment-offering, or with v. Hofmann, a due-offering, where not directly thank-offering; for the proper eucharistic offering, which is the expression of thanks on a particular occasion, is removed from the species of the Shelamim by the addition of the words על־תּודה (Leviticus 7:12-25). The characteristic of the Shelamim is the division of the flesh of the sacrifice between Jahve and His priests on the one side, and the person (or persons) bringing it on the other side: only one part of the flesh of the sacrifice was Jahve's, consumed by fire (Leviticus 3:16); the priests received one part; those who brought the offering received back another part as it were from the altar of God, that they might eat it with holy joy along with their household. So here the adulteress says that there was binding upon her, in consequence of a vow she had taken, the duty of presenting peace-offerings, or offerings that were due; to-day (she reckons the day in the sense of the dies civilis from night to night) she has performed her duties, and the שׁלמי נדר have yielded much to her that she might therewith regale him, her true lover; for with על־כּן she means to say that even the prospect of the gay festival which she can prepare for him moved her thus to meet him. This address of the woman affords us a glimpse into the history of the customs of those times. The Shelamim meals degenerated in the same manner as our Kirmsen .

(Note: Kirmse = anniversary of the dedication of a church, village fête.)

Secularization lies doubly near to merrymaking when the law sanctions this, and it can conceal itself behind the mask of piety. Regarding שׁחר , a more exact word for בּקּשׁ , vid., at Proverbs 1:28. To seek the countenance of one is equivalent to to seek his person, himself, but yet not without reference to the wished-for look [ aspectus ] of the person.

Verses 16-18

Thus she found him, and described to him the enjoyment which awaited him in eating and drinking, then in the pleasures of love.

16 “My bed have I spread with cushions,

Variegated coverlets, Egyptian linen;

17 I have sprinkled my couch

With myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon.

18 Come then, we will intoxicate ourselves with love till the morning,

And will satisfy ourselves in love.”

The noun ערשׂ , from ערשׂ , = Arab. 'arash , aedificare, fabricari , signifies generally the wooden frame; thus not so much the bed within as the erected bed-place (cf. Arab. 'arsh , throne, and 'arysh , arbour). This bedstead she had richly and beautifully cushioned, that it might be soft and agreeable. רבד , from רב , signifies to lay on or apply closely, thus either vincire (whence the name of the necklace, Genesis 41:42) or sternere (different from רפד , Job 17:13, which acquires the meaning sternere from the root-meaning to raise up from under, sublevare ), whence מרבדּים , cushions, pillows, stragulae . Böttcher punctuates מרבדּים incorrectly; the ב remains aspirated, and the connection of the syllables is looser than in מרבּה , Ewald, §88d. The צטבות beginning the second half-verse is in no case an adjective to מרבדים , in every case only appos., probably an independent conception; not derived from חטב (cogn. חצב ), to hew wood (whence Arab. ḥaṭab , fire-wood), according to which Kimchi, and with him the Graec. Venet. ( περιξύστοις ), understands it of the carefully polished bed-poles or bed-boards, but from חטב = Arab. khaṭeba , to be streaked, of diverse colours ( vid., under Psalms 144:12), whence the Syriac machṭabto , a figured (striped, checkered) garment. Hitzig finds the idea of coloured or variegated here unsuitable, but without justice; for the pleasantness of a bed is augmented not only by its softness, but also by the impression which its costliness makes on the eye. The following אטוּן מצרים stands in an appositional relation to חטבות , as when one says in Arabic taub - un dı̂bâg '- un , a garment brocade = of brocade. אטוּן (after the Syr. for אטוּן , as אמוּן ) signifies in the Targum the cord ( e.g., Jeremiah 38:6), like the Arab. ṭunub , Syr. ( e.g., Isaiah 54:2) tûnob ; the root is טן , not in the sense of to bind, to wind (Deitr.), but in the sense of to stretch; the thread or cord is named from the extension in regard to length, and אטון is thus thread-work, whether in weaving or spinning.

(Note: Hence perhaps the Greek ὀθόνη , which Fick in his Vergl. Wörterbuch connects with the Arab. verb-root vadh , to bind, wind, clothe, but not without making thereto interrogation marks.)

The fame of Egyptian manufactures is still expressed in the Spanish aclabtea , fine linen cloth, which is equivalent to the modern Arabic el - ḳobṭı̂je ( ḳibṭije ); they had there particularly also an intimate acquaintance with the dye stuffs found in the plants and fossils of the country (Klemm's Culturgeschichte, v. 308-310).

Proverbs 7:17-18

These verses remind us of expressions in the Canticles. There, at Proverbs 4:14, are found the three names for spicery as here, and one sees that מר אהלים are not to be connected genitively: there are three things, accented as in the title-verse Proverbs 1:3. The myrrh, מר ( Balsamodendron myrrha ), belongs, like the frankincense, to the species of the Amyris , which is an exotic in Palestine not less than with us; the aromatic quality in them does not arise from the flowers or leaves, so that Song of Solomon 1:13 leads us to think of a bunch of myrrh, but from the resin oozing through the bark ( Gummi myrrhae or merely myrrha ), consisting of bright glossy red or golden-yellow grains more or less transparent. אהלים (used by Balaam, Numbers 24:6) is the Semitic Old-Indian name of the aloë, agaru or aguru; the aromatic quality is in the wood of the Aquilaria agallocha , especially its root ( agallochum or lignum aloes ) dried in the earth - in more modern use and commerce the inspissated juice of its leaves. קנּמון is κιννάμωμον (like מר , a Semitic word

(Note: Myrrh has its name מר from the bitterness of its taste, and קנם appears to be a secondary formation from קנה , whence קנה , reed; cf. the names of the cinnamon, cannella , Fr. cannelle . Cinnamum ( κίνναμον ) is only a shorter form for cinnamomum . Pliny, Hist. Nat. xii. 19 (42), uses both forms indiscriminately.)

that had come to the Greeks through the Phoenicians), the cinnamon, i.e., the inner rind of the Laurus cinnamomum . The myrrh is native to Arabia; the aloë, as its name denotes, is Indian; the cinnamon in like manner came through Indian travellers from the east coast of Africa and Ceylon (Taprobane). All these three spices are drugs, i.e., are dry apothecaries' wares; but we are not on that account to conclude that she perfumed (Hitzig) her bed with spices, viz., burnt in a censer, an operation which, according to Song of Solomon 3:6, would rather be designated קטּרתּי . The verb נוּף (only here as Kal) signifies to lift oneself up ( vid., under Psalms 48:13), and transitively to raise and swing hither and thither (= חניף ); here with a double accusative, to besprinkle anything out of a vessel moved hither and thither. According to this sense, we must think of the three aromas as essences in the state of solution; cf. Exodus 30:22-33; Esther 2:12. Hitzig's question, “Who would sprinkle bed-sheets with perfumed and thus impure water?” betrays little knowledge of the means by which even at the present day clean linen is made fragrant. The expression רוה דּודים sounds like שׁכר דודים , Song of Solomon 5:1, although there דודים is probably the voc., and not, as here, the accus.; רוה is the Kal of רוּה , Proverbs 5:19, and signifies to drink something copiously in full draughts. The verbal form עלס for עלץ is found besides only in Job 20:18; Job 39:13; the Hithpa. signifies to enjoy oneself greatly, perhaps (since the Hithpa. is sometimes used reciprocally, vid., under Genesis 2:25) with the idea of reciprocity (Targ. חר לצד ). We read bo o habim with Chateph - Kametz after Ben-Asher ( vid., Kimchi's Lex.); the punctuation בּאהבים is that of Ben-Naphtali.

Verses 19-20

The adulteress now deprives the youth of all fear; the circumstances under which her invitation is given are as favourable as possible.

19 “For the man is not at home,

He has gone on a long journey.

20 He has taken the purse with him:

He will not return home till the day of the full moon.”

It is true that the article stands in האישׁ , Arab. alm'ar - fat , i.e., serves to define the word: the man, to whom here κατ ̓ ̓ξοχήν and alone reference can be made, viz., the husband of the adulteress (Fl.); but on the other side it is characteristic that she does not say אישׁי (as e.g., Genesis 29:32), but ignores the relation of love and duty in which she is placed to him, and speaks of him as one standing at a distance from her (Aben-Ezra). Erroneously Vogel reads בּבּית after the Targ. instead of בּביתו . We say in Hebr. אינו בביתו , il n'est pas chez soi, as we say לקח בּידו , il a pris avec soi (cf. Jeremiah 38:10). מרחוק Hitzig seeks to connect with the verb, which, after Isaiah 17:13; Isaiah 22:3, is possible; for the Hebr. מרחוק ( ממּרחק ), far off, has frequently the meaning from afar, for the measure of length is determined not from the point of departure outward, but from the end, as e.g., Homer, Il. ii. 456; ἕκαθεν δέ τε φαίνεται αὐγή , from afar the gleam is seen, i.e., shines hither from the distance. Similarly we say in French, il vient du coté du nord , he comes from the north, as well as il va du coté du nord , he goes northwards. But as we do not say: he has gone on a journey far off, but: on a distant journey, so here מרחוק is virtually an adj. ( vid., under Isaiah 5:26) equivalent to רחוקה (Numbers 9:10): a journey which is distant = such as from it he has a long way back. Michaelis has well remarked here: ut timorem ei penitus adimat, veluti per gradus incedit . He has undertaken a journey to a remote point, but yet more: he has taken money with him, has thus business to detain him; and still further: he has even determined the distant time of his return. צרור־הכּסף .nruter (thus to be written after Ben-Asher, vid., Baer's Torath Emeth, p. 41) is the purse (from צרר , to bind together), not one of many, but that which is his own. The terminus precedes 20b to emphasize the lateness; vid., on כּסא under Psalms 81:4. Graec. Venet. τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τοῦ καιροῦ , after Kimchi and others, who derive כסא ( כסה ) from the root כס , to reckon, and regard it as denoting only a definite time. But the two passages require a special idea; and the Syr. ḳêso , which in 1 Kings 12:32; 2 Chronicles 7:10, designates the time from the 15th day of the month, shows that the word denotes not, according to the Talmud, the new moon (or the new year's day), when the moon's disk begins to cover itself, i.e., to fill ( יתכסה ), but the full moon, when it is covered, i.e., filled; so that thus the time of the night-scene here described is not that of the last quarter of the moon (Ewald), in which it rises at midnight, but that of the new moon (Hitzig), when the night is without moonlight. Since the derivation of the word from כסא ( כסה ), to cover, gives the satisfactory idea of the covering or filling of the moon's disk, we do not seek after any other; Dietrich fixes on the root-idea of roundness, and Hitzig of vision ( כסא = סכה , שׂכה , vid., on the contrary, under Psalms 143:9). The ל is that of time at which, in which, about which, anything is done; it is more indefinite than בּ would be. He will not return for some fourteen days.

Verse 21

The result: -

21 She beguiled him by the fulness of her talking,

By the smoothness of her lips she drew him away.

Here is a climax. First she brought him to yield, overcoming the resistance of his mind to the last point (cf. 1 Kings 11:3); then drove him, or, as we say, hurried him wholly away, viz., from the right path or conduct (cf. Deuteronomy 13:6, Deuteronomy 13:11). With הטּתּוּ (= הטּתהוּ ) as the chief factum, the past imperf. is interchanged, 21b. Regarding לקח , see above, p. 56. Here is the rhetoric of sin (Zöckler); and perhaps the לקח of 20a has suggested this antiphrastic לקח to the author (Hitzig), as חלק (the inverted לקח , formed like שׁפל , which is the abstr. of שׁפל as that is of חלק ) and תּדּיחנּוּ are reciprocally conditioned, for the idea of the slippery (Psalms 73:18) connects itself with חלק .

Verses 22-23

What followed: -

22 So he goes after her at once

As an ox which goeth to the slaughter-house,

And as one bereft of reason to the restraint of fetters,

23 As a bird hastens to the net,

Without knowing that his life is at stake -

Till the arrow pierces his liver.

The part. הולך (thus to be accentuated according to the rule in Baer's Torath Emeth, p. 25, with Mercha to the tone-syllable and Mahpach to the preceding open syllable) preserves the idea of the fool's going after her. פּתאם (suddenly) fixes the point, when he all at once resolves to betake himself to the rendezvous in the house of the adulteress, now a κεπφωθείς , as the lxx translates, i.e., as we say, a simpleton who has gone on the lime-twig. He follows her as an ox goes to the slaughter-house, unconscious that he is going thither to be slaughtered; the lxx ungrammatically destroying the attributive clause: ὥσπερ δὲ βοῦς ἐπὶ σφαγὴν ἄγεται . The difficulties in וּכעכס (thus punctuated, after Kimchi, with a double Segol, and not וכעכס , as is frequently the case) multiply, and it is not to be reconciled with the traditional text. The ox appears to require another beast as a side-piece; and accordingly the lxx, Syr., and Targ. find in עכס a dog (to which from אויל they also pick out איּל , a stag), Jerome a lamb ( et quasi agnus כבשׂ ), Rashi a venomous serpent (perhaps after ἔχις ?), Löwenstein and Malbim a rattlesnake ( נחשׁ מצלצל after עכּס ); but all this is mere conjecture. Symmachus' σκιρτῶν ( ἐπὶ δεσμῶν ἄφρων ) is without support, and, like the favourite rendering of Schelling, et sicut saliens in vinculum cervus ( איל ), is unsuitable on account of the unsemitic position of the words. The noun עכס , plur. עכסים , signifies, Isaiah 3:18, an anklet as a female ornament (whence Isaiah 3:16 the denom. עכּס , to make a tinkling of the anklets). In itself the word only means the fetter, compes , from עכס , Arab. 'akas , 'akash , contrahere, constringere ( vid., Fleischer under Isaiah 59:5); and that it can also be used of any kind of means of checking free movement, the Arab. 'ikâs , as the name of a cord with which the camel is made fast by the head and forefeet, shows. With this signification the interpretation is: et velut pedicâ (= וכבעכס ) implicatus ad castigationem stulti , he follows her as if (bound) with a fetter to the punishment of the fool, i.e., of himself (Michaelis, Fleischer, and others). Otherwise Luther, who first translated “in a fetter,” but afterwards (supplying ל , not ב ): “and as if to fetters, where one corrects fools.” But the ellipsis is harsh, and the parallelism leads us to expect a living being in the place of עכס . Now since, according to Gesenius, עכס , fetter, can be equivalent to a fettered one neither at Isaiah 17:5; Isaiah 21:17, nor Proverbs 23:28 (according to which עכס must at least have an active personal signification), we transpose the nouns of the clause and write וכאויל אל־מוּסר עכס , he follows her as a fool ( Psychol. p. 292) to correction (restraint) with fetters; or if אויל is to be understood not so much physically as morally, and refers to self-destroying conduct (Psalms 107:7): as a madman, i.e., a criminal, to chains. The one figure denotes the fate into which he rushes, like a beast devoid of reason, as the loss of life; and the other denotes the fate to which he permits himself to be led by that woman, like a criminal by the officer, as the loss of freedom and of honour.

Proverbs 7:23

The confusion into which the text has fallen is continued in this verse. For the figure of the deadly arrow connects itself neither with that of the ox which goes to the slaughter-house, nor with that of the madman who is put in chains: the former is not killed by being shot; and with the latter, the object is to render him harmless, not to put him to death. The lxx therefore converts אויל into איל , a stag, and connects the shooting with an arrow with this: ἢ ὡς ἔλαφος τοξεύματι πεπληγὼς εἰς τὸ ἧπαρ . But we need no encroachment on the text itself, only a correct placing of its members. The three thoughts, Proverbs 7:23, reach a right conclusion and issue, if with כּמהר צפּור אל־פּח (here Mercha - mahpach) a new departure is begun with a comparison: he follows her with eager desires, like as a bird hastens to the snare ( vid., regarding פח , a snare, and מוקשׁ , a noose, under Isaiah 8:15). What then follows is a continuation of 22a. The subject is again the youth, whose way is compared to that of an ox going to the slaughter, of a culprit in chains, and of a fool; and he knows not ( non novit , as Proverbs 4:19; Proverbs 9:18, and according to the sense, non curat , Proverbs 3:6; Proverbs 5:6) that it is done at the risk of his life ( בנפשׁו as 1 Kings 2:23; Numbers 17:3), that his life is the price with which this kind of love is bought ( הוּא , neut., as not merely Ecclesiastes 2:1 and the like, but also e.g., Leviticus 10:3; Esther 9:1) - that does not concern him till ( עד = עד אשׁר or עד כי ) the arrow breaks or pierces through ( פּלּח as Job 16:13) his liver, i.e., till he receives the death-wound, from which, if not immediately, yet at length he certainly dies. Elsewhere the part of the body struck with a deadly wound is called the reins or loins (Job, etc.), or the gall-bladder (Job 20:25); here the liver, which is called כּבד , Arab. kebid , perhaps as the organ in which sorrowful and painful affections make themselves felt (cf. Aeschylus, Agam. 801: δῆγμα λύπης ἐφ ̓ ἧπαρ προσικνεῖται ), especially the latter, because the passion of sensual love, according to the idea of the ancients, reflected itself in the liver. He who is love-sick has jecur ulcerosum (Horace, Od. i. 25. 15); he is diseased in his liver ( Psychol. p. 268). But the arrow is not here the arrow of love which makes love-sick, but the arrow of death, which slays him who is ensnared in sinful love. The befooled youth continues the disreputable relation into which he has entered till it terminates in adultery and in lingering disease upon his body, remorse in his soul, and dishonour to his name, speedily ending in inevitable ruin both spiritually and temporally.

Verses 24-25

With ועתּה , as at Proverbs 5:7, the author now brings his narrative to a close, adding the exhortation deduced from it:

24 And now, ye children, give ear unto me,

And observe the words of my mouth!

25 Let not thine heart incline to her ways,

And stray not in her paths.

The verb שׂטה (whence jēst , like jēt , Proverbs 4:15, with long ē from i) the author uses also of departure from a wicked way (Proverbs 4:15); but here, where the portraiture of a faithless wife (a סוטה ) is presented, the word used in the law of jealousy, Num 5, for the trespass of an אשׁת אישׁ is specially appropriate. שׂטה is interchanged with תּעה (cf. Genesis 21:14): wander not on her paths, which would be the consequence of straying on them. Theodotion: καὶ μὴ πλανηθῇς ἐν ἀτραποῖς αὐτῆς , with καί , as also Syr., Targ., and Jerome. The Masora reckons this verse to the 25 which have אל at the beginning and ואל at the middle of each clause ( vid., Baer in the Luth. Zeitschrift, 1865, p. 587); the text of Norzi has therefore correctly ואל , which is found also in good MSS ( e.g., the Erfurt, 2 and 3).

Verses 26-27

The admonition, having its motive in that which goes before, is now founded on the emphatic finale:

26 For many are the slain whom she hath caused to fall,

And many are her slain.

27 A multiplicity of ways to help is her house,

Going down to the chambers of death.

The translation “for many slain has she laid low” (Syr., Targ., Jerome, Luther) is also syntactically possible; for רבּים can be placed before its substantive after the manner of the demonstratives and numerals ( e.g., Nehemiah 9:28, cf. אחד , Song of Solomon 4:9), and the accentuation which requires two servants (the usual two Munachs) to the Athnach appears indeed thus to construe it. It is otherwise if רבים here meant magni (thus e.g., Ralbag, and recently Bertheau), and not multi; but רבים and עצמים stand elsewhere in connection with each other in the signification many and numerous, Psalms 35:18; Joel 2:2; Micah 4:3. “Her slain” are those slain by her; the part. pass. is connected with the genitive of the actor, e.g., Proverbs 9:18; cf. (Arab.) ḳatyl âlmḥabbt , of one whom love kills (Fl.). With Proverbs 7:27 cf. Proverbs 2:18; Proverbs 9:18. In 27a, בּיתהּ is not equivalent to בביתה after Proverbs 8:2, also not elliptical and equivalent to דרכי ביתה ; the former is unnecessary, the latter is in no case established by Psalms 45:7; Ezra 10:13, nor by Deuteronomy 8:15; 2 Kings 23:17 (see, on the other hand, Philippi's Status Constructus, pp. 87-93). Rightly Hitzig has: her house forms a multiplicity of ways to hell, in so far as adultery leads by a diversity of ways to hell. Similarly the subject and the predicate vary in number, Proverbs 16:25; Psalms 110:3; Job 26:13; Daniel 9:23, and frequently. If one is once in her house, he may go in this or in that way, but surely his path is to destruction: it consists of many steps to hell, such as lead down ( דרך , fem. Isaiah 37:34, masc. Isaiah 30:21) to the extreme depths of death (cf. Job 9:9, “chambers of the south” = its remotest regions veiling themselves in the invisible); for חדר (Arab. khiddr ) is the part of the tent or the house removed farthest back, and the most private (Fl.). These חדרי־מות , cf. עמקי שׁאול , Proverbs 9:18, approach to the conception of גּיהנּם , which is afterwards distinguished from שאול .

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Bibliographical Information
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Proverbs 7". Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary. 1854-1889.