Proverbs 7-9: Personifications

Good morning! I’m so glad to be rolling with these again and this book has been a little fun so far.


Proverbs 7

Yet another warning against adulteress women and telling men to keep it in their pants if the woman isn’t their own wife. We talked about this in the last post as well, but with slightly different connotations. This one does make the claim that this “adulteress” is trying to entice men who are not her husband to her. Some terms other than “adulteress” used in other translations are “estranged” or “strange” or “wayward” woman and that her words are “seductive” or “flattering” whereas the ESV uses “smooth words”. They all get at about the same thing, that this time we are talking about a woman who specifically likes to sleep around when her husband isn’t home. Verse 19 even has her mentioning that he is gone and when he will be home.

Okay, when speaking of women in the Bible, it should not be overlooked that this is the third piece of wisdom against adultery and that each is against a different temptation into adultery. The first in chapter 5 was from a “forbidden” woman that is made to sound enticing without trying to be. This is a woman who you aren’t supposed to sleep with but is beautiful or that you find irresistible somehow. The second one is in chapter 6 is an “evil woman” who is the wife of a neighbor or friend or acquaintance that wants to sleep with you. Now we have a woman who is also married but seducing any passersby. But as in these other examples, the emphasis is on resistance and therefore reinforces that a man has the ability to not sleep with a woman just because he finds her beautiful or she wants to sleep with him when that woman is socially off-limits.

This is given as wisdom here and not the commandment style mandate that there is elsewhere. I know there is lots of controversy over whether or not adultery should be illegal, but as wisdom, I don’t see how there could be any doubt that steering clear is a great idea. It breaks social contracts and trust within a community and/or household. It is absolutely a wise thing to resist the temptation of.

Okay, to keep from steering completely off course, this one (as in chapter 6) does put emphasis on the woman’s temptations and her ability to bring a man despite whether he knows better. The difference between the woman here and in chapter 6, though, is the quote from verse 14-20:

14“I had to offer sacrifices,d
and today I have paid my vows;
15so now I have come out to meet you,
to seek you eagerly, and I have found you.
16I have spread my couch with coverings,
colored linens from Egyptian linen;
17I have perfumed my bed with myrrh,
aloes, and cinnamon.
18Come, let us take our fill of love till morning;
let us delight ourselves with love.
19For my husband is not at home;
he has gone on a long journey;
20he took a bag of money with him;
at full moon he will come home.”

While many of the behaviors mentioned could be easily misinterpreted from perfectly innocent behaviors, this line that the adulteress woman says is not mistakable. While she is again painted as a woman out to destroy men, the emphasis is still on male resistance to intentional temptation and therefore their ability to not sleep with a woman.

I’m sure this easily gender bends as far as what is wise, but this is a book from father to son and there was likely equitable advice to women about men just as bad as these women but not necessarily that which they saw to preserve. It’s also possible that the wording was changed depending on the person one was speaking to and that records kept the default gender pronouns, which are still consistently male.


Proverb 8

This is another personification of wisdom, again as female. This one asserts that wisdom was made well before the earth, and even heaven. It was among the very first of God’s creations. It also reinforces the idea that it is to be listened to, otherwise one will go down the wrong path and that misfortunes are sure to follow. My favorite part of this proverb is verse 12:

12“I, wisdom, dwell with prudence,
and I find knowledge and discretion.

Knowledge AND discretion. Knowing how to make a good decision is definitely the reason one most needs wisdom, isn’t it?

The unfortunate thing about this personification is that it does lend the notion that good fortune is a reward of knowledge, discretion and acting with wisdom rather than the probable outcome. It makes it seem like the things that happen when we don’t act wisely are punishments handed down by an angry God rather than the normal consequences of doing something that isn’t wise, which I would categorize as those ill-conceived or selfish things we do sometimes.


Proverbs 9

Titled The Way of Wisdom, the first of two proverbs in this chapter talks mostly about what happens when you try to correct or help someone not do something dumb. Personally, I find this one funny because it’s so true. There will be people who give you crap when you’re trying to help them. It does also include a personification of Wisdom as a female. Also that verse 8 can be summed up with “Haters gonna hate”.

The next proverb is The Way of Folly, which then personifies Folly and is also female. It’s a short one and uses the same style as the first one, but then segues to make it so that “her guests are in the depths of Sheol“.


Chapter links go to the ESV translations at Biblehub.com but I’m reading from the ESV Global Study Bible, which is available for free on the Kindle Reading App.

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