Songs & Sayings #7 - Hebrew Proverbs Ch. 7


The Songs and Sayings Podcast: Reading through the wisdom literature of the world.

By Menashe David Israel

Chapter 7 of Hebrew Proverbs

Further reading: The Wisdom Books by Robert Alter

Proverbs by the Bible Project


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My comments:

In this podcast, we continue in chapter seven on our journey through the ancient Hebrew book of Proverbs.

A life update for me: My wife and I are moving soon, so I spent most of today packing instead of digging through commentary. So, I’m forced to make this podcast what I intended initially, which is a simple, consistent, daily reading of wisdom literature with minimal commentary. 

The thing is, I truly enjoy researching things to share, and I can sometimes get carried away. But my core idea is to model a daily practice of reading ancient wisdom. To breathe whatever life I can into this tradition…

So I’ll make a couple of quick comments and then I’ll conclude by reading the chapter.

Robert Alter, whom I’ve referenced on this podcast a few times now, says in his Translation and Commentary on the “The Wisdom Books” that chapter seven is, “the closest to a sustained narrative that one finds in Proverbs.” 

And as I was reading it I had the same thought. It also appears that the whole narrative in the chapter is bracketed by two specific lines:

The first is in the second verse, which says, “Keep my commands and live,” and the second is in the very last verse, which says, “Her house is the way to Sheol.”

This chapter takes up again the theme of advising the young man who might sometime encounter a strange-woman on a dark night.

Much of this first section of proverbs deals with this theme. And though there isn’t time to go into it today, it would be interesting to consider what the negative commands might be for women who read these proverbs.

A few other quick notes:

In verse 14, “peace offerings” are mentioned. What’s interesting about these is that they are acquired from the temple, where half of the offering is left at the temple and the other half of the offering, which consisted of meat, was brought home. So when the strange-woman tells the young man that she has payed her vows, she is effectively telling him that if he comes over they can have dinner before they have sex all night.

In verse 16, they mention Egyptian cotton. Who knew that 2,500 years later Egyptian cotton would still be a thing? The last time I purchased bedding, the advertisement of Egyptian cotton was on every set of sheets I considered.

Verse 20 mentions “the day appointed.” Which is another way of saying, “the new moon.” And which also speaks to the scene of this chapter, which is a dark night. ☗

Read Proverbs 7 on the Bible App