asher63 (asher63) wrote,

Lady Wisdom and Mistress Folly

I'm working on getting Proverbs 6 thru 8 nailed down in the Hebrew. This hasn't been my favorite section of P in the past but I'm warming to it now. I really like the contrasts between the feminine personifications of Folly and Wisdom. (I don't have to be bound by the reading of "physical gratification and heretical ideas" propounded by the good folks at ArtScroll.)

One thing I notice about the behavior of Folly, the femme fatale of 7:6 - 27, is that it's this weird mixture of secretiveness and aggressiveness. She's here, she's there, suddenly she's hitting on him. She literally gets in his face. She's a stalker. It's not just that her behavior is "unladylike" - it's manipulative and dangerous.

The male object of her attentions can't claim ignorance, because she tells him upfront that "the man is not in his house ... he took the purse of money with him." So she's a married woman trying to make a few shekels on the side. And notice how her house (7:8 and :11) becomes "his house" in her words (7:19) - it's like the husband is gone, so NOBODY is responsible for what happens in the house! She's disavowing responsibility on behalf of herself and the male listener. And the final warning (23) is - like so much of P - eminently pragmatic, and recalls 6:26-32. The lesson: following Folly is bad for your health.

Wisdom, by contrast, stands in plain view and calls out (see 1:20, etc.), where she can be seen and heard by anyone who cares to look or listen. She may be subtle but she's not sneaky. Again, this is totally consistent with the outlook of P: real wisdom isn't convoluted (niftal ve'ikkesh), it's honest and straightforward. Lady Wisdom doesn't try to entice you with a lot of glamor and superstition; she doesn't promise you get-rich-quick schemes or thrust a copy of Dianetics into your hand. But if you seek her you'll find her, and if you love her she'll treat you right (8:17).

I'm not super religious or a Bible geek, but I am very fond of Proverbs.
Tags: hebraica, hebrew, proverbs

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