Thursday, December 26, 2013

Proverbs 22:1-23:35


Proverbs 22:1-16 conclude the "royal collection." Reading behind these sayings one can discern their intended audience. They were written for the privileged, for wealthy, educated, young men. These verses remind their readers that it is important to maintain a good reputation (v. 1), that the rich and the poor are equally God's children (v. 2), that it is important to raise children right (v.6). Corporal punishment may be useful in this latter regard (v. 15). They tell their audience to be generous (v. 9), to keep good company (v. 10), and to avoid loose women (v. 14). There is also a little mockery of the lazy and their excuses in this section (v. 13).

That the Proverbs can be extrapolated to apply to other audiences should probably go without saying but, there, I said it anyway.

Proverbs 22:17-24:22 is the third collection of this book. It is headed "Sayings of the Wise." The Jewish Study Bible notes that a connection between this section and an Egyptian work called the Instruction of Amenemope has been recognized since 1923.  The sayings in this section are similar in theme to what has gone before but tend to be longer in form. This section emphasizes right behavior in the presence of one's social betters. Client/patron relationships were the social norm in the ancient near east.

 Proverbs 22:20 says that the Sayings of the Wise contains 30 sayings. The New Interpreters Study Bible calls this:

An apparent reference to the Instruction of Amenemope, which has 30 sections. This part of Proverbs, however, does not have 30 elements.

On the other hand, the New International Version (2011 edition)  "helpfully" numbers the 30 sayings. The NIV, I've noted before, tends to translate difficulties out of existence.

I will give the Jewish Study Bible the last word in this debate:

There is disagreement...on identifying thirty proverbs in the present form of [this] section.


Proverbs 23:1-3 has advice on table manners:

When you sit to dine with a ruler,
   note well what is before you,
and put a knife to your throat
   if you are given to gluttony.
Do not crave his delicacies,
   for that food is deceptive.

There is also advice for those who are invited to dine with a stingy host:

Do not eat the food of a begrudging host,
   do not crave his delicacies;
for he is the kind of person
   who is always thinking about the cost.
“Eat and drink,” he says to you,
   but his heart is not with you.
You will vomit up the little you have eaten
   and will have wasted your compliments.
      (Proverbs 23:6-9)

I'm thinking its best not to eat to much no matter who your host is.

Proverbs 22:28 and 23:10-11 both warn against moving property markers, a form of theft.

Proverbs 23:29-35 warn against drunkenness with a comically detail description of the dangers of too much wine:

 Who has woe? Who has sorrow?
   Who has strife? Who has complaints?
   Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes?
Those who linger over wine,
   who go to sample bowls of mixed wine.
Do not gaze at wine when it is red,
   when it sparkles in the cup,
   when it goes down smoothly!
In the end it bites like a snake
   and poisons like a viper.
Your eyes will see strange sights,
   and your mind will imagine confusing things.
You will be like one sleeping on the high seas,
   lying on top of the rigging.
“They hit me,” you will say, “but I’m not hurt!
   They beat me, but I don’t feel it!
When will I wake up
   so I can find another drink?”

That little old winemaker, Noah

The Mosaic of Noah, the first wine-maker, is from S. Marco Basilica, Venice.

Next: Proverbs 24-26

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