Sunday, December 22, 2013

Proverbs 16:1-18:24


Proverbs 16:1-22:16, the second part of the second division of the book of Proverbs, is called the "royal collection." At least that's what some of my study Bibles say. What distinguishes it from the first part of the second division? The Harper Collins Study Bible says that the royal collection is characterized by less antithetical proverbs (simple contrasts) and more synonymous parallelism (the second part of the proverb restates the first part in different terms). The New Interpreters Study Bible says that a major theme of the royal collection is "people's roles within social structures." The CEB (Common English Bible) Study Bible says that this collection is characterized by proverbs contrasting God's wisdom with the limited wisdom of human rulers. It also notes that "Many of the themes of the two sections are the same."

YHWH is mentioned by name nine times in Proverbs 16:1-11. Verses 10 and 12-14  all have to do with kings. This section of Proverbs may be organized more thematically than what we have seen before. May be. A little.

Proverbs 16:18 might sound familiar:

Pride goes before destruction,
   a haughty spirit before a fall. 

I've usually heard a shortened paraphrase of this saying: "Pride goeth before a fall."

Proverbs 16:25 is a word-for-word duplicate (in the NIV, at least) of Proverbs 14:12:

There is a way that appears to be right,
   but in the end it leads to death.  

Proverbs 16:30 is the third and, I think, last reference to winking in the book of Proverbs.

Whoever winks with their eye is plotting perversity;
   whoever purses their lips is bent on evil.

Gestures can be interpreted differently in different cultural contexts. The Jewish Study Bible refers to winking and lip-pursing as "the body language of a scoundrel." The Harper Collins Study Bible suggests that winking may be related to "the evil eye." The New Oxford Annotated Bible suggests that winking is a sign of "duplicity."

Did I mention that I own a few study Bibles?

The book of Proverbs mentions bribery several times. In general it is in favor of giving bribes and opposed to taking them.

  A bribe is seen as a charm by the one who gives it;
   they think success will come at every turn.
      (Proverbs 17:8)

The wicked accept bribes in secret
   to pervert the course of justice.
      (Proverbs 17:23)

Do I need to say that perverting justice is a bad thing?

 Acquitting the guilty
and condemning the innocent—
   the LORD detests them both.
      (Proverbs 17:15)

Proverbs 18:13 has good advice for those who engage in debates on the internet or, for that matter, in person.

 To answer before listening—
   that is folly and shame. 

And Proverbs 18:23 might be directed to the "top 2%"

The poor plead for mercy,
   but the rich answer harshly.

Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?

Alistair Sim is my favorite movie Scrooge. Merry Christmas!
Next: Proverbs 19-21

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