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The Access Bible New Revised Standard Bible, written and edited with first-time Bible readers in mind.

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Commentary on Proverbs

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1.1–9.18 :

Speeches and instructions.

1.1–7 :

Introduction and purpose of the book.

1 :

Egyptian and biblical wisdom books, contrary to the customary anonymity of ancient literature, give the name of the author, who was normally a king or prominent courtier advising his son or disciple. Solomon, famed for his wisdom, is named as the author, or, as we might say, patron of the entire book.

2–7 :

There are fourteen (two times seven) different nouns for wisdom or wise sayings in order to show totality. Verses 2–3 are concerned with learning, v. 4 with teaching, v. 5 with the teacher or sage, v. 6 with understanding wisdom writings, and v. 7 (in climactic position) with fear of the LORD.

4 :

The simple are naive or uninstructed people, either because of their youth or, sometimes, because of their carelessness. In the latter case the term has a negative connotation.

7 :

The verse is the climax * of the introduction, for the LORD is the source of blessings for the wise. The phrase wisdom and instruction reprises the same phrase in v. 2a . Fear of the LORD is the traditional (and not fully satisfactory) translation of “yir'at YHWH,” literally, “revering the LORD.” The phrase means giving to one's God what is due, knowing and accepting one's place in the universe. It primarily designates neither an emotion (fear) nor general reverence, but rather a conviction that one should honor and serve a particular god.

1.8–19 :

Parental advice on leaving home. The opening scene of a youth leaving parents and home to establish his own household sets the scene for the entire book. Every reader must establish a household in the sense of learning to live well as an adult, accepting traditional wisdom and discerning where true life is to be found.

10–14 :

A group of sinners invites the youth not simply to commit a violent crime but to share in their violent life (Come with us. … Throw in your lot among us).

16–17 :

Verse 16 is a gloss from Isa 59.7 to explain the enigmatic v. 17 , which is a parable * about sinners not seeing the divine retribution that works invisibly. The evil they plan for others will come upon them instead (vv. 18–19 ).

1.20–33 :

The consequences of not heeding Wisdom. Woman Wisdom warns the simple (who seem to have previously rejected her teaching) that she will not be there when the inevitable disaster comes upon them (vv. 22–32 ). She nonetheless gives them a last chance to accept her (v. 33 ). Verses 24–27 and 28–31 are parallel sections. Each gives a reason (because, vv. 25, 29 ) and announces a disaster; the first section employs the grammatical second person, and the second section employs the grammatical third person.

20–21 :

The entrance of the city gates is the entrance to the upper city, which was the place of business and government.

22–23a :

The best solution to the textual confusion is to drop v. 22b–c as a later insertion and to translate How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? Its parallel verse is best rendered (differently from NRSV) “Will you turn away from my reproof?” The translation “turn away” is preferable to NRSV give heed to and is based on the meaning of the same root in v. 32a (waywardness) and on Hebrew idiom.

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