Proverbs

Proverbs and Wisdom

The word of God came to the people of Israel in different ways. We have already dealt with the origin of the prophetic and historical books: they arose from the prophets’ preaching and from the reflection of religious circles on the history of Israel.

However, other believers preferred to meditate on human behavior, the vicissitudes of life, the different fortunes of those who are irresponsible and those who control their desires. In particular, they wanted to understand God’s justice in this world.

The wisdom of people of all times has developed around these themes. We hear about Chinese wisdom, Hindu wisdom… Yet, the wisdom of the Middle East may have come first. There had been an abundance of wisdom writings for almost thirty centuries before Christ both in Egypt and Mesopotamia (as we know, Palestine is between the borders of these two countries).

The Jewish people were profoundly marked by this wisdom which shines through almost all the parables and “sayings” of Jesus who was formed at that school.

This literature, what the religious community has preserved and accepted, is no less the word of God than the prophetic books. Even if, at times, this wisdom seems a bit pedestrian and utilitarian, it does attest to many convictions of the Jewish and the Christian faiths, namely, as human beings, we are responsible for our actions; experience is a teacher of truth and it is the touchstone of what sages have declared; God created the world and he reveals himself in his creation. Finally, our wisdom has its limits and beyond that, we can only put our trust in the justice and the providence of God.

The greater part of the Book of Proverbs is very old (chaps. 10–31). The first section (chaps. 1–9), however, is much more recent, around the second century before Christ. There we find a meditation on the Wisdom of God, from which all human wisdom proceeds. The height of this contemplation on divine Wisdom is found in the famous eighth chapter.

1

1These are proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel:

2for you to obtain wisdom and instruction,

to penetrate words of significance,

3to acquire well-ordered knowledge,

and become just with discernment and integrity.

4Simple people will become clever

and the young will acquire understanding and foresight.

5Let the wise man listen: he will add to his learning,

and the man of sound judgment will acquire skill,

6to understand the proverbs and sayings,

the words of the wise and their riddles.

7The beginning of knowledge is the fear of Yahweh,

only fools have contempt for wisdom and discipline.

 

Avoid the company of evildoers

8Listen, my son, to the teaching of your father, do not ignore your mother’s instruction: 9for they will be your graceful crown, a precious chain around your neck.

10My son, if sinners try to tempt you, do not give in.

11They will invite you, “Come with us, let us spill blood, let us ambush the innocent without a second thought. 12We will engulf them as does the netherworld and snatch them suddenly as does death. 13We will help ourselves to many riches and fill our houses with booty. 14Join forces with us; one purse will be shared between us!”

15My son, do not go with them, do not set foot along their way. 16See how they speed on to evil! How they hasten to spill blood!

17What bird would fall into a trap if you set it up in its sight? 18But these people stalk themselves and set a trap for their own lives.

19Such is the lot of all who live by plunder: plunder will rob them of their own lives.

 

Listen to me today

20Wisdom shouts aloud in the streets, she raises her voice in the marketplace; 21at street corners she cries; she delivers her speeches at the city gates:

22 “You ignorant people, how long will you continue to cling to your foolishness? How long will mockers revel in their mockery, and fools have contempt for knowledge?

23Listen to my warning. I will now pour my spirit upon you and make you know my words.

24Indeed if I cry out and you refuse to listen, if I offer my hand and no one cares, 25if you ignore my advice and reject my warning, 26I, in turn, will laugh at your disaster, I will sneer when terror grips you; 27when terror comes down on you like a hurricane, and distress and anxiety befall you.

28Then people will cry to me but I will not respond. They will seek me but will not find me, 29because they despised knowledge and did not choose the fear of Yahweh; 30they would not listen to any advice and they rejected all my warnings.

31They will harvest the fruit of their evil ways and have their fill of their own designs. 32For the error of the ignorant leads to death, the idleness of fools brings about their ruin.

33But whoever listens to me will feel secure and at ease, without fear of evil.”

It is good to acquire wisdom

2

1My son, if you heed my words and value my commands, 2with your ear attentive to wisdom and your heart obedient to understanding; 3if you call for perception and raise your voice for insight; 4if you seek it as silver and search for it more than any treasure 5then you will understand the fear of Yahweh, and you will find the knowledge of God.

6For Yahweh gives wisdom and from his mouth come knowledge and insight. 7He reserves his help for the upright and is a shield for those who walk in integrity; 8he guards the ways of the just and protects the steps of his faithful.

9Then you will understand justice, discernment and integrity—all that leads you to happiness.

10Wisdom will abide in your heart and knowledge will comfort your inner self. 11Foresight will guide you and understanding will protect you. 12It will guard you from evil, from people of misleading speech, 13from those who have abandoned the ways of honesty to walk the roads of darkness; 14they rejoice in evildoing, they revel in perversions; 15their paths are crooked and their ways devious.

16Wisdom keeps you from the alien woman, from the stranger with her smooth words, 17who deserts the partner of her youth and forgets the Covenant of her God.

18For her house inclines towards death, her paths towards the grave. 19Those who go to her never return, they do not regain the paths of life.

20So you will walk along the way of the good, and keep to the paths of the virtuous. 21For the honest will inherit the land; the people of integrity will live on it.

22The evildoers instead will be cut off from the land. The wicked will be rooted out of it.

 

3

1My son, do not forget my instruction, my commands; keep them in your heart. 2For they will bring you length of days, years of life and peace.

3Let loyalty and kindness never leave you; tie them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart, 4 that you may find favor and a good name in the eyes of God and people.

 

Put wisdom into practice

5Trust in Yahweh with all your heart; do not rely on your own insight. 6Let his presence pervade all your ways and he will protect your foot from the snare.

7Do not consider yourself wise, fear God, and turn away from evil. 8This will be a medicine to your body and a relief to your bones.

9Honor Yahweh, giving him from what you have, the first fruits of all your produce. 10Then your barns will be filled to overflowing, your vats will brim over with wine.

11My son, do not scorn the discipline of Yahweh; do not ignore his correction. 12For Yahweh corrects those he loves, as a father does his beloved son.

 

13Happy the one who finds wisdom and gains insight. 14For she is of more value than silver and more useful than gold. 15She is more precious than pearls; nothing you could wish for would compare with her. 16With her right hand she offers you length of days, with her left, riches and glory. 17She leads you through delightful ways; all her roads are peace.

18She is a tree of life for those who clasp her; those who possess her are happy.

19It is by his wisdom that Yahweh founded the earth; by his understanding that he made firm the heavens. 20By his knowledge the depths were scooped out, and the clouds rained down dew.

21My son, hold on to sound judgment and discretion and do not let them out of your sight. 22They will give life to your inner self, and adorn your neck.

23Then you can go your way safely and your foot will not stumble. 24You will have no fear when you lie down and your sleep will be peaceful. 25You will not fear sudden terror or the attack of evildoers. 26For Yahweh is at your side and he guards your steps from the snare.

27Do not hold back from those who ask your help, when it is in your power to do it. 28Do not say to your neighbor, “Go away! Come another time; tomorrow I will give it to you!” when you can help him now.

29Do not plot evil against your neighbor who lives trustingly beside you, 30nor fight a man without cause when he has done you no wrong. 31Do not envy the man of violence or follow his example.

32For Yahweh hates the wicked but guides the honest. 33He curses the house of the evildoer but blesses the home of the upright. 34If there are mockers, he mocks them in turn but he shows his favor to the humble. 35The wise will possess his glory while the foolish will inherit disgrace.

 

Keep to the right path

4

1Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction and pay attention so that you may gain insight. 2For I have given you good principles; do not discard my teaching!

3For when I, too, was a young boy, and my mother fondly looked on me as special, 4my father taught me and said to me: Treasure my words in your heart; listen to my directions and you will live.

5Acquire wisdom and insight and do not forget or reject the words of my mouth. 6Do not abandon wisdom for she will protect you. Love her and she will be your salvation.

7The beginning of wisdom is to work to acquire it. At the cost of all you possess, strive to gain insight. 8Hold her close, for she will exalt you and bring you honor if you embrace her. 9She will crown you with grace and put a diadem of splendor on your head.

10Listen, my son, and take my words to heart; then the years of your life will be multiplied.

11Because I have taught you the way of wisdom and have guided you along honest ways, 12you will walk with ease and run without falling. 13Hold firm to discipline; never let her go. Guard her well for she is your salvation.

14Do not follow the way of the wicked nor walk with evildoers. 15Avoid them, turn your back on them and pass on. 16For they do not sleep unless they have done evil; they cannot rest unless they have caused someone’s downfall. 17Wickedness is their bread and violence their wine.

18The way of the upright is like the dawn that becomes brighter until the fullness of day. 19The way of the wicked is total darkness and they do not notice that which will make them fall.

20My son, be attentive and listen carefully to my words. 21Never let them out of your sight but guard them in the bottom of your heart. 22For they are life to those who cling to them and healing for the inner spirit.

 

23Above all else, guard your heart, for therein is the source of life. 24Keep your mouth from lies and let not deceit come from your lips.

25Keep your sight on what is ahead and your eyes directed straight in front of you. 26Test the ground under your feet and all your ways will be secure. 27Turn neither to left nor to right and keep your path from evil.

 

Beware of the adulteress

5

1My son, pay heed to my wisdom and listen to my insights; 2remember my counsel and let your lips not depart from this knowledge.

3Know that the lips of the adulteress are sweet as honey and her words smoother than oil, 4but the outcome is bitter as herbs. It is as sharp as a double-edged sword.

5Her feet go down to the grave and her steps lead to death. 6She pays no attention to the path of life and strays without knowing it.

7Now then, my son, listen to me and do not forget my words: 8Stay away from her and never approach the door of her house, 9lest you surrender your honor to strangers and your best years to cruel men, 10lest others benefit from your goods, and your earnings go to an alien house.

11You will complain in the end, when your body and flesh are already devoured and 12you will say, “Why did I reject instruction and turn my back on sound advice? 13Why did I not listen to the voice of my teachers and follow their counsel? 14For I have come to the depths of disgrace in the midst of the whole community.”

 

15Drink, then, from the water of your own cistern, from that which flows in your own well. 16Do not let your fountains be wasted elsewhere nor in the public streets. 17They are for you alone and not for strangers.

18May your fountainhead be blessed and may you find joy in the wife of your youth, 19your beautiful hind and graceful gazelle! May her breasts be your delight at all times: be always in love with her.

20My son, why be infatuated with an adulteress and embrace a strange woman? 21For Yahweh watches the ways of men and he observes all their paths.

22The wicked will be caught in his own evil and remain entangled in the nets of his own sin. 23He will die for want of discipline and will drown in the rising tide of his own evil.

6

1My son, if you have stood bail for your neighbor or guaranteed the word of a stranger; 2if you have committed yourself with your own lips, know that you have trapped yourself with your own words. 3Then do this, my son: release yourself. If you have fallen into the hands of your neighbor, go speedily, kneel down and plead with him; 4do not give sleep to your eyes or rest to your eyelids. 5Break free, like a gazelle from the trap or a bird from the hand.

 

The idlers and the fools

6You idler, go to the ant, watch her ways and be wise. 7She has no master, no steward or overseer. 8She secures food in summer and stores up provisions during harvest time.

9How long, you idler, are you going to lie around? When do you intend to rise from sleep? 10A little sleep, a little drowsiness and your laziness creeps upon you and then, like a tramp, 11poverty comes, bringing misery like a vagabond.

12The villain, the unjust man, goes about with a sneer on his lips, 13winking his eye, shuffling his feet and beckoning with his finger. 14His heart is deceitful; he is forever plotting evil and causing arguments. 15Therefore, disaster will suddenly and irrevocably overtake him.

16There are six things Yahweh hates; seven his inner being detests: 17the proud look, the lying tongue, hands which spill innocent blood, 18the depraved heart, feet which speed towards evil, 19a false and lying witness and the one who sows discord among people.

20My son, respect your father’s instruction and do not reject your mother’s teaching. 21Hold them forever in your heart and hang them around your neck. 22These will guard your footsteps, protect you when you sleep and speak to you on waking.

23For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light; correction teaches you the way of life.

24It will protect you from the evil woman, the smooth talking of the stranger. 25Do not covet her beauty in your heart or let her captivate you with her looks. 26For the prostitute deserves a piece of bread but the adulteress hunts after your worthy life.

27Can you hold fire in your pocket without setting fire to your clothes or 28walk on hot coals without burning your feet? 29So it is for the man who approaches his neighbor’s wife: all who touch her will be punished.

30One does not condemn the hungry thief who steals to fill his stomach; 31nevertheless, if he is caught, he must pay sevenfold and give all the goods in his house. 32How senseless is the adulterer! Whoever commits adultery destroys himself. 33He will reap blows and contempt and his disgrace will not be erased.

34Jealousy inflames the husband’s heart and when he can take revenge he will have no mercy. 35He will accept nothing, neither reparation nor lavish gifts.

 

7

1My son, keep my words and remain faithful to my commands. 2Hold fast to my instruction and you will have life; treasure my teachings as the apple of your eye. 3Bind them on your fingers, write them on the tablets of your heart. 4Let wisdom be your sister and knowledge your friend, 5so that you will be saved from the adulterous woman, from the stranger with her enticing words.

6From my window I was looking out through the lattice and 7I saw among the young men, an inexperienced youth 8who walked along the road near her corner, towards the path to her house. 9It was dusk, daylight was fading—the time of darkness and shadow. 10And look! Out comes this woman to meet him, dressed like a prostitute, covered with a veil.

11She is brazen and shameless, unable to remain in the house. 12Now at the corner, now in the square, she is on the lookout. 13She throws herself at him, kisses him and confidently says, 14“I have to offer sacrifices and terminate my vows; because of this 15I came out to meet you. I sought and found you. 16I have spread on my bed quilts and fine Egyptian sheets and 17sprinkled it with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon. 18Come, let us abandon ourselves to pleasure and drink our fill of love all night, 19for my husband is not at home but away on a long journey. 20He has taken his moneybags and will not return before the full moon.”

21She led him astray with such smooth and seductive words.

22At once he followed her, as an ox led to slaughter or a deer caught in a snare 23until its liver is pierced by an arrow; as a bird springs at the snare unaware that its life is at stake.

24Now then, my sons, listen and pay attention to my words. 25Do not be led astray or lose yourself on her paths. 26For she has brought many to their death and the strongest were all her victims. 27Her house leads to hell and death.

 

Wisdom calls

8

1Who calls? Is it not Wisdom?

Who lifts up her voice?

2Is it not Knowledge?

She shouts from the hilltops

and waits by the crossroads;

3in the vicinity of the city gates she speaks,

4“To you, people, I call,

for my message is directed to all that live,

5so that the ignorant may learn

and the thoughtless come to their senses.

6Listen to me for I speak of vital things

and everything I say is true.

7Truthful words come from my mouth

and my lips do not lend themselves to evil.

8All my words are right,

none are twisted or deceitful.

9The intelligent will verify their truth,

the wise perceive their sincerity.

10Prefer my teaching to silver

and seek wisdom rather than gold,

11because wisdom has more value than any jewel

and all that you may desire cannot equal it.

12I, Wisdom, dwell with discretion

and count prudence among my friends.

13The fear of Yahweh is rejection of evil.

I hate all pride, arrogance, wicked ways and lies,

14but I love counsel, discretion, prudence and strength.

15Kings reign by my power,

their ministers issue just laws;

16by me princes govern,

and the great and noble of the earth as well.

17I love those who love me

and go to meet those who seek me.

18Riches and honor are with me,

true well-being and upright living.

19More precious than silver and gold

are my fruit and my yield.

20I proceed on the path of righteousness

and make use of the ways of justice,

21giving riches to those who love me,

and filling their cellars.

 

Yahweh formed me at the beginning

22Yahweh created me first,

at the beginning of his works.

23He formed me from of old,

from eternity, even before the earth.

24The abyss did not exist when I was born,

the springs of the sea had not gushed forth,

25the mountains were still not set in their place

nor the hills, when I was born

26before he made the earth or countryside,

or the first grains of the world’s dust.

27I was there when he made the skies

and drew the earth’s compass on the abyss,

28when he formed the clouds above

and when the springs of the ocean emerged;

29when he made the sea with its limits,

that it might not overflow.

When he laid the foundations of the earth,

30I was close beside him,

the designer of his works,

and I was his daily delight,

forever playing in his presence,

31playing throughout the world

and delighting to be with humans.

32Now then, my sons, listen to me:

happy are those who follow my ways.

33Listen to my teaching and gain wisdom;

do not ignore it.

34Happy are those who listen to me

and wait at my gates every day,

watching, close to my threshold.

35Those who find me find life:

theirs is Yahweh’s blessing.

36Those who offend me will undergo affliction;

they hate me for they love death.

 

Wisdom invites to her table

9

1Wisdom has built her house

set upon seven pillars;

2she has slaughtered her beasts,

prepared her wine and laid her table.

3Next, she sent her servants to call

from the central square of the city,

4“Pass by here, you who are fools.”

To the senseless she says,

5“Come, eat and drink

of the bread and wine I have prepared.

6Give up your foolishness and you will live;

take the straight path of discernment.”

 

7He who corrects a mocker gains insults; and he who reprimands an evildoer receives abuse. 8Do not rebuke the mocker lest he hate you, but counsel the wise who will be grateful. 9Give to the wise man and he will become wiser each day; teach an upright man and he will increase his wisdom.

10Fear of Yahweh is the beginning of wisdom and to know the Holy One brings discernment. 11Then I will multiply your days and increase your years of life. 12If you are wise your wisdom will work to your advantage, but if you mock you alone will be harmed.

13Lady Foolishness is impetuous, a simpleton who knows nothing. 14She sits at the door of her house, on a throne in the central square of the city, 15to invite all passersby, “Come here, whoever is ignorant.” 16To the foolish she says, 17“Stolen waters are sweet and pilfered bread is the tastiest.”

18But he does not see the Shadow world lying there; nor realize that its guests are heading towards the abyss of death.

 

 

 

Second Part: the Proverbs of Solomon

 

10

1A wise son is his father’s joy, a foolish one his mother’s heartbreak.

2Treasures wrongfully acquired are of no value but upright living saves from death.

3Yahweh does not let the righteous go hungry but he denies satisfaction to the evildoers.

4The lazy hand brings poverty; the diligent hand brings wealth.

5The prudent man reaps in summer; the one who sleeps at harvest time deserves scorn.

6Blessings on the head of the upright man! Violence silences the cry of the wicked.

7The righteous will be remembered with blessings, the name of the wicked will rot away.

8The wise of heart is open to instruction, the chattering fool speeds towards ruin.

9Whoever behaves honorably will walk safely, but the follower of crooked ways will be punished.

10The wink of an eye brings trouble; but a rebuke wins peace.

11The mouth of the righteous is a source of life, but violence is concealed in the mouths of evildoers.

12Hatred enkindles disputes, love covers over all offenses.

13Wisdom is to be found on the lips of the discerning man; the stick is for the fool’s back.

14The wise store up learning but the mouth of the fool makes way for ruin.

15The rich man’s fortune is his fortress, the poverty of the poor is their undoing.

16The virtuous man’s toil brings him life, while the sins of the evil man destroy him.

17Respect for discipline is the path of life; he who ignores correction is doomed.

18Hypocritical is he who tolerates hatred; he who slanders is a fool.

19Sin will not be lacking where too many words are spoken; the prudent man controls his tongue.

20The upright man’s tongue is pure silver, but the hearts of evildoers have little value.

21The lips of one righteous feed many people while fools die for lack of sense.

22The blessing of Yahweh brings riches, no effort can replace it.

23The fool delights in doing evil and the wise man in acquiring wisdom.

24The evildoer will encounter the evil he dreaded whereas the upright man will receive what he looked forward to.

25After the storm the wicked man is seen no more, but the upright man remains forever.

26The lazy man is like vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes of his master.

27Fear of Yahweh lengthens one’s life, but the years of the wicked will be cut short.

28The hope of the upright ends in happiness but the expectations of the wicked come to nothing.

29The ways of Yahweh are a fortress for the upright but for evildoers only ruin.

30The righteous will never be disturbed but evildoers will not survive on the land.

31Wisdom springs forth from the mouth of the virtuous but the corrupt tongue will be torn out. 32Goodness dwells on the lips of the upright, corruption in the mouth of the wicked.

 

 

11

1Yahweh detests a false scale but a just weight pleases him.

2Disgrace always accompanies pride; wisdom resides with the humble.

3Honesty illumines the path of the upright; but the corrupt are confounded by their own evil.

4On the day of vengeance riches will prove useless but honest living will save from death.

5The virtuous man’s integrity smooths his way, while the wicked man falls by his own evil.

6Upright living saves the virtuous while evildoers are caught in their own greed.

7The hope of the wicked is buried with them and their trust in riches is of no avail.

8The upright will escape from distress; a wicked man will take his place.

9The godless man uses his mouth to destroy his neighbor but the virtuous use their wisdom to save themselves.

10The city rejoices in the good fortune of the upright and delights in the ruin of the wicked.

11A city is raised on the blessing of the upright and destroyed by the mouth of the wicked.

12Whoever mocks his neighbor is a fool; an intelligent person chooses silence.

13The gossip reveals secrets, but the trustworthy man keeps a secret.

14Lack of guidance leads to a nation’s decline whereas numerous counselors bring success.

15He who stands bail for a stranger harms himself; he who avoids going bail will be safe.

16A gracious woman wins renown, and bold men acquire riches.

17The generous man does himself a favor while a cruel man wounds his own flesh.

18The pay of the wicked is an illusion; while the upright man reaps a sure reward.

19Upright living leads to life but the way of evil leads to death.

20Yahweh detests the corrupt of heart but loves those whose life is upright.

21Be assured that the wicked will not go unpunished, but those who are righteous will be saved.

22The pretty woman without discretion is like a gold ring in the snout of a pig.

23The upright desire nothing but good; the desires of the wicked are in vain.

24Those who are generous increase their riches; others are misers and impoverish themselves.

25The warmhearted soul will prosper; he who waters will himself be watered.

26He who hoards wheat is cursed by the people; blessed is he who sells his seeds.

27Yahweh rewards the one who seeks good; but he who pursues evil will be caught by it.

28He who trusts in riches will stumble; while the upright will flourish like leaves.

29Whoever mismanages his house will inherit only wind; the fool will end up a slave of the wise.

30The fruit of the upright is a tree of life while the wicked are uprooted before their time.

31If here on earth the upright get their due, how much more the wicked and the sinner!

 

12

1He who loves discipline, loves knowledge; foolish is he who rejects correction.

2The good man wins the favor of Yahweh who condemns the one of evil schemes.

3No man is made secure by evil but nothing undermines the roots of the upright.

4A good wife is her husband’s crown while the shameless woman is like a cancer in his bones.

5The plans of the upright are honest and the plottings of the wicked deceitful.

6The words of the wicked are mortal snares but the virtuous refute and elude them.

 

7The evildoers are thrown down and are no more; but the house of the virtuous will never crumble.

8Everyone is praised in proportion to his prudence; while the corrupt of heart will be met with contempt.

9Better to be a common man and have a servant than to feel oneself great and run short of bread.

10The upright man looks after his animals but the wicked are heartless.

11He who cultivates the earth will have his fill of bread, while the fool chases after illusions.

12The desires of the wicked produce evil, but the roots of the virtuous produce fruit.

13The wicked man is entangled in his own lies, but the virtuous man will be saved from misfortune.

14Those who meditate on wisdom will attain all that is good; each one is rewarded according to the works of his hands.

15The fool considers his way right while the wise man listens to advice.

16The fool shows his annoyance immediately, but the discreet man overlooks an insult.

17The trustworthy witness leads to the truth, and the liar to confusion.

18The one who speaks thoughtlessly pierces like a sword; but the words of the wise bring healing.

19Truthful words endure forever but lies, for only a moment.

20Deceit dwells in the heart of the schemer, happiness in those who pursue peace.

21No misfortune will befall the virtuous but the wicked will have their fill of troubles.

22Yahweh hates the lips of liars and loves those who speak the truth.

23The discreet man conceals his wisdom while fools make public their nonsense.

24The hardworking hand will rule; and the lazy will have to obey.

25Intense grief depresses the heart while a friendly word makes it glad.

26The just man guides his neighbor while the way of the wicked leads them astray.

27The lazy hand will have no game to cook: being industrious is the secret of wealth.

28Life is to be found on the path of virtue, the way of the wicked leads to death.

13

1An intelligent child listens to his father’s advice, but a mocker listens to no correction.

2A man can taste goodness from the fruit of his own mouth, but the treacherous feed on violence.

3He who guards his mouth preserves his life, the constant talker is lost.

4The lazy man hopes but his desires are in vain, whereas hard workers have their desires fulfilled.

5The righteous person hates lying words but the evildoer slanders and defames.

6Virtue protects those of honest life; while sin brings ruin to the wicked.

7One pretends to be rich but has nothing, another, of great wealth, feigns poverty.

8A man’s wealth lets him ransom his life but the poor man has nothing with which to do so.

9The light of the virtuous is bright, the lamp of the godless is extinguished.

10Arrogance only brings trouble; wisdom is found in those who take advice.

11Sudden riches will decrease, he who gathers little by little will be enriched.

12Delayed hope makes the heart languish, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life.

13The one who scorns teaching will be in want, those who respect the commandment will be rewarded.

14The wise man’s teaching is a life-giving fountain for escaping the snares of death.

15Prudent intelligence wins favor, the way of liars leads nowhere.

16Every prudent man acts with reflection, the fool parades his stupidity.

17A wicked messenger falls on misfortune, the reliable one brings healing.

18Poverty and shame to the one who rejects correction; honor to him who accepts rebuke.

19Desire fulfilled is sweet to the soul; but fools spurn rejection of evil.

20Walk with the wise and you will gain wisdom; those who befriend fools become wicked.

21Misfortune hounds the sinner, while the upright abound in good fortune.

22A good man’s inheritance is for his children’s children, a sinner’s wealth will be kept for the virtuous.

23The tillage of the poor supplies food, while others perish because of their lack of righteousness.

24Unloved is the child whom the father hates to punish; the loving father frequently corrects.

25The upright man eats his fill, while the stomach of the wicked goes hungry.

 

14

1Wisdom builds her house, foolishness destroys it with her own hands.

2Upright living is fear of Yahweh, but he who is devious in his ways scorns him.

3From the fool’s mouth comes the rod of his pride, the wise man’s lips protect him.

4Where there’s no oxen, there’s no wheat, in the oxen’s strength there’s abundant harvest.

5The truthful witness does not lie; the false witness breathes deceit.

6The mocker searches for wisdom in vain; knowledge comes easily to the discreet man.

7Keep away from the fool for you will find no wisdom in his words.

8The wisdom of the discreet man lies in guarding his conduct, but the foolishness of fools is full of deceit.

9Fools never make amends, while goodwill dwells among the upright.

10The heart understands its own grief; no stranger can share in its joy.

11The house of the wicked will be destroyed, but the tent of the upright will stand firm.

12To one, his way appears correct, but in the end it leads to death.

13The heart feels pain in the midst of laughter, and joy ends in sorrow.

14The reckless man reaps the fruit of his ways; the good man will earn reward.

15The simpleton believes all he’s told, the prudent man watches his step.

16The wise man fears and avoids evil, the fool goes near and feels safe.

17The angry man does foolish things, the crafty man makes himself hated.

18Foolishness is the inheritance of fools, the prudent choose wisdom as their crown.

19The wicked shall kneel before the good, and the godless, before the gates of the virtuous.

20The poor man is detestable even to his neighbor while the rich man has many friends.

21A sinner is he who looks down on his neighbor, happy is he who shows pity to the poor.

22Does evil plotting not lead to ruin? Do goodness and sincerity not belong to those devoted to good?

23Hard work yields a profit but the idler brings misfortune.

24Wealth is the wise man’s crown, foolishness the diadem of fools.

25A truthful witness saves lives; he who lies will be lost.

26There is great security in the fear of Yahweh, his sons find refuge in him.

27The fear of Yahweh is a life-giving fountain for escaping the snares of death.

28Numerous people are a king’s glory; lack of subjects ruins a prince.

29The discerning man is slow to anger, the impatient one displays stupidity.

30A peaceful heart is the body’s life but the passions are a cancer in the bones.

31Oppression of the weak insults their creator, he is honored by those who have compassion on the needy.

32The evildoer is overthrown by his own evil, the upright man feels safe up to death.

33Wisdom resides in the heart of the discerning; who ever sees her among fools?

34Virtue makes a nation great; the sinner disgraces a people.

35The clever servant enjoys the king’s favor but the fool has to suffer his anger.

 

15

1A kind answer soothes anger; while a cutting word increases wrath.

2The tongue of the wise speaks knowledge, but the mouth of fools spreads stupidity.

3The eyes of Yahweh are everywhere, watching the good and the evil.

4The pacifying tongue is a tree of life, while the viper’s tongue destroys the heart.

5Paternal correction is scorned by the fool, but the one who listens shows discretion.

6Abundance resides in the house of the virtuous, but disgrace descends on the profits of the wicked.

7The lips of the wise sow knowledge whereas the fool’s thoughts are not safe.

8Yahweh detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but listens to the prayer of the honest man.

9Yahweh abhors the conduct of the wicked but loves him who seeks virtue.

10Correct severely him who strays from the way; whoever hates being rebuked will die.

11Yahweh sees into hell and the abyss; how much more into the hearts of the sons of men!

12The mocker does not like being reprimanded; he does not go to the wise.

13A glad heart brightens the face, a sad one weighs down the spirit.

14A discerning heart seeks knowledge, but the mouth of fools feeds on stupidity.

15Every day is evil to the afflicted one; while the happy heart is always feasting.

16Better to have little but fear the Lord than to have a fortune accompanied by anxiety.

17Better to have vegetables where there is love than to have a fattened ox with nothing but hatred.

18The hotheaded man provokes disputes, while the one slow to anger reconciles differences.

19The way of the lazy is strewn with thorns, but the path of hard workers is a spacious road.

20The wise child is his father’s joy, but the foolish despises his mother.

21Foolishness appeals to the man with no sense but the discerning man goes on his way.

22Plans fall through for lack of deliberation; a multitude of counselors ensures success.

23Happy is he who knows how to answer. Welcome indeed is the apt word!

24To the discerning man, the way of life leads upward; he will be saved from the place of darkness below.

25Yahweh tears down the house of the proud, but he strengthens the widow’s boundaries.

26Yahweh detests corrupt designs but words of goodness are pleasing to him.

27He who craves dishonest gain brings trouble on his house; he who accepts no tempting bribes will live.

28The man of upright heart thinks before he speaks, the mouth of the wicked pours out evil.

29Yahweh stays far away from the wicked but hears the prayer of the virtuous.

30A kind look delights the heart, good news revives one’s strength.

31The ear which listens to helpful correction is found among the wise.

32He who ignores correction despises himself, he who heeds the reprimand acquires discernment.

33The fear of Yahweh is a school of wisdom; humility precedes praise.

 

16

1Man’s heart makes plans but it is Yahweh who answers.

2Although people are satisfied with all of their deeds Yahweh considers the motives.

3Entrust all you do to Yahweh and your plans will be realized.

4Yahweh made everything for a purpose, even the evildoer for the day of punishment.

5Yahweh hates the arrogant heart; you can be sure it will not go unpunished.

6With goodness and faithfulness you atone for your sin; with fear of Yahweh you may turn away from evil.

7When Yahweh is pleased with a man’s conduct, he reconciles even his enemies with him.

8Better to have little but be just than to have a great income without honesty.

9Man’s heart seeks the right way but it is Yahweh who makes his footsteps sure.

10The lips of the king utter oracles; he will not be mistaken when he judges.

11Yahweh demands a just balance and scales; the weights are the work of his hands.

 

12Kings who do evil are an abomination; it is justice that supports the kingship.

13He who judges according to justice wins the king’s favor, honest men are pleasing to him.

14The king’s anger is a messenger of death but the wise man knows how to appease him.

15The king’s serene countenance means life, his favor is like the spring rain.

16Better to have acquired wisdom rather than gold, discernment rather than silver.

17The way of the honest man is to turn away from evil; he who watches his steps keeps his life safe.

18Pride goes before destruction, an arrogant spirit before a fall.

19Better be humble among the lowly than share loot with the proud.

20He who listens to the word will find happiness; blessed is he who trusts in Yahweh.

21He whose heart is wise will be proclaimed discerning; moderate speech brings knowledge.

22Good sense is a life-giving fountain to those who possess it, foolishness is the punishment of fools.

23The wise man’s heart keeps guard over his mouth, making his words more effective.

24Kind words are like a honeycomb: sweet to the spirit and healthy to the body.

25To one, his way seems honest, but ultimately it leads to death.

26The worker’s appetite works to his benefit; the need to eat spurs him on.

27The troublemaker prepares disgrace, a scorching fire is on his lips.

28The scoundrel stirs up trouble; his critical comments split up friends.

29A violent man deceives his neighbor and leads him along a path that is not good.

30He who closes his eyes and purses his lips to plot deceit already commits evil.

31White hairs are a magnificent crown for the one who has followed the path of virtue.

32The patient man is to be preferred to the hero; better the man who masters himself than the conqueror of cities.

33Fate is thrown in the bag but the decision depends on Yahweh.

 

17

1Better a crust of dry bread in peace than the discord of a house full of feasting.

2A shrewd servant will replace the foolish son of the master and will share the inheritance as one of the brothers.

3A crucible for silver and a furnace for gold but Yahweh is the tester of hearts.

4The evil plotter listens to the lips of liars; and the liar gives an ear to the corrupt tongue.

5He who mocks the poor insults their Creator, he who laughs at the deprived will not go unpunished.

6The crown of the aged is their children’s children, the children’s glory is their father.

7Noble language does not suit the fool and even less do lies suit a prince.

8The giver of gifts possesses a treasure, wherever he goes he will succeed.

9Whoever covers over a fault promotes friendships, but he who reveals a word divides friends.

10A discerning man is more impressed by a reprimand than a fool is by a hundred lashes.

11The wicked man seeks nothing but rebellion; a cruel messenger will be sent against him.

12It is better to meet with a bear deprived of her cubs than with a fool in his foolishness.

13He who repays good with evil will not rid his house of evil.

14To begin legal proceedings is like opening a dam; withdraw before the dispute erupts.

15To excuse the guilty and condemn the just: both are detestable to Yahweh.

16What good is money in a fool’s hand? How can he buy wisdom? He has no sense.

17A friend will love you at all times, a brother has been born to you for times of adversity.

18He who is full of promises and goes bail for his neighbor has no sense.

19The sinner loves disputes, the man of arrogant words hastens his own ruin.

20The man of double-dealing does not find happiness, the sly tongue falls into disgrace.

21He who fathers a fool has acquired misery, there is no joy for a fool’s father.

22A joyful heart gives health to the body, while a sad spirit dries up the bones.

23The corrupt man takes bribes to pervert the course of justice.

24The discerning man keeps wisdom before his eyes; the fool’s eyes are on every corner of the world.

25The foolish son is a worry to his father and distress to her who gave him birth.

26It is not right to fine the upright; the noble ought not to be beaten.

27The prudent of speech are wise; he who keeps his temper is an educated man.

28Then the fool, if silent, can pass as wise; the clever man keeps his lips sealed.

 

18

1He who holds himself aloof follows his own whims and is annoyed at others’ advice.

2The fool does not relish reflection but only the airing of his own views.

3When the wicked come, scorn also comes, and offense brings shame.

4Man’s words are like deep waters; an overflowing torrent is the fountain of wisdom.

5It is not good to give consideration to the wicked or to harm the virtuous when giving judgment.

6The fool’s lips cause disputes and his mouth attracts blows.

7The fool’s mouth is his undoing; his lips will ensnare his life.

8The gossiper’s words are tasty mouthfuls which go right to the bottom of the stomach.

9He who dawdles at work is a brother of the destroyer.

10Yahweh’s name is a strong tower, the virtuous rely on it and are safe.

11The rich man’s wealth is his fortress; he relies on it as on a high wall.

12Before its downfall, the heart is wrapped in pride; while humility goes before honor.

13To argue before listening to the facts shows stupidity which leads to disgrace.

14The spirit of man sustains him when ill but who will lift the one of broken spirit?

15The discerning heart obtains wisdom, the ear of the wise searches out knowledge.

16A present opens all doors to you and brings you into the company of the powerful.

17The first to plead his case seems to be right, but his opponent appears and there is matter for trial.

18Casting lots terminates disputes and decides between the powerful.

19A brother who is helped is more steadfast than a fortress but quarrels are like the bars of a castle.

20A man is filled with what comes from his mouth and is nourished by what his lips provide.

21The tongue has power over life and death, those who like speaking will eat its fruit.

22He who finds a wife finds happiness, he has won Yahweh’s favor.

23The poor man pleads, while the rich man responds harshly.

24Some friends only bring ruin, others are closer than a brother.

 

 

19

1Better the poor man who lives honestly than the fool who lies.

2It is bad for men not to reflect, and acting too quickly can lead one astray.

3A man spoils his chances through his own stupidity but it is against Yahweh that his heart rages.

4Wealth multiplies friends, but the poor man is deprived of his only friend.

5The false witness will not go unpunished, the liar will not escape.

6Many are the flatterers of the noble man, the whole world is a friend to the rich man.

7A poor man is hated by all his brothers, and even more so do his friends desert him. He searches for someone to talk to but finds no one.

8He who acquires wisdom loves himself, he who respects knowledge will be happy.

9The false witness will not go unpunished, the liar will perish.

10It is not good that a fool live luxuriously, still less that a slave command princes.

11A clever man is slow to anger; his glory lies in forgetting offenses.

12The angry king is like a roaring lion but his favor is like the dew on the grass.

13The foolish son is the ruination of his father; the nagging wife is like a dripping gutter.

14House and wealth are inherited from a father but a sensible wife is a gift from Yahweh.

15Laziness makes a man fall asleep, the idler will go hungry.

16He who keeps the commandment keeps his life; he who despises it dies.

17He who shows compassion to the poor lends to Yahweh, who will repay his good deed.

18Correct your son as long as there is hope, lest you be responsible for his death.

19The violent man leaves himself open to a fine; if you spare him he will continue.

20Listen to counsel and accept correction, and you will be wise in the end.

21Plans abound in the human heart but only Yahweh’s purpose will be realized.

22Goodness is attractive in a person; better a poor man than a liar.

23Love of Yahweh leads you to life; you will have your fill and live without fear.

24The lazy man dips his hand in the dish but he cannot even lift it to his mouth.

25Punish the mocker and the ignorant will be more careful; rebuke a discerning man and he will listen to reason.

26He who dispossesses his father and evicts his mother is a shameful and degenerate son.

27My son, listen to instruction and stop straying from the words of wisdom.

28An unworthy witness makes a mockery of justice; the mouth of the wicked feeds on evil.

29Punishments were made for mockers and blows, for the backs of fools.

 

20

1Wine leads to vulgarity and strong drink, to bravado; he who strays in it will never be wise.

2The angry king is like a roaring lion; whoever provokes him risks his life.

3It is good for man to avoid quarrels; it is the fool who does not master himself.

4Autumn is over, yet the fool does no work; come the harvest, he searches and finds nothing.

5Counsel is like deep water in the heart, the discerning man has only to draw it out.

6Many are called good but where can the trustworthy man be found?

7The upright man who works honestly will make his sons happy after him.

8The king who sits in judgment discovers evil at a single glance.

9Who can say, “I have purified my heart, I am cleansed from sin?”

10The crooked measure and scales—these are the things that Yahweh detests.

11The child reveals himself in his deeds: whether his actions are honest and upright.

12The ear that hears, the eye that sees, Yahweh has made them both.

13Do not love sleep lest you become poor; keep your eyes open and you will have your fill of bread.

14“No good, no good,” says the buyer but off he goes congratulating himself.

15Although you have gold and abundance of pearls, the most valuable adornment is lips which speak wisely.

16Get rid of his clothes because he has stood bail for a stranger; arrest him for the profit of those unknown!

17Stolen bread tastes good but later on your mouth is full of sand.

18Plans take shape, thanks to advice; do battle, then, with wise strategies.

19The gossiper reveals secrets; have nothing to do with chatterers.

20Whoever curses his father and mother will see his lamp extinguished in the midst of darkness.

21Advantage hastily gained in the beginning will not be blessed in the long run.

22Never say, “I will take revenge.” Trust in Yahweh; he will save you.

23Yahweh detests false weights; it does no good to have false scales.

24Yahweh directs a man’s steps, who can know where his way leads?

25It is dangerous to make hasty promises to Yahweh and only then reflect on them.

26A king throws evildoers to the wind and runs the thresher over them.

27Man’s spirit is Yahweh’s lamp which searches the hidden places of the heart.

28Goodness and loyalty keep guard over the king; his throne stands due to goodness.

29Energy is the adornment of youth, white hair the dignity of age.

30Bleeding wounds purify evil, blows bring healing to the inner self.

 

21

1In the hands of Yahweh, the heart of the king is like running water; he directs it wherever he wishes.

2To the eyes of man all his ways are honest but it is Yahweh who weighs the heart.

3To do what is upright and just pleases Yahweh more than sacrifice.

4Haughty looks, proud heart, the light of the wicked is sin.

5The plans of a hardworking man result in earnings; poverty is for those who act too hastily.

6To make a fortune by means of deceit is like running after the wind; the end is death.

7The violence of the wicked carries them away because they refuse to practice justice.

8The way of the criminal is devious; but honest are the ways of the innocent man.

9Better the corner of a barn to live in than a house shared with a raging woman.

10The soul of the wicked desires nothing but evil; not even his friend is treated with compassion.

11When the mocker is punished the ignorant man grows wise; when the wise man is instructed he grows in knowledge.

12The Just One watches the house of the evildoer and hurls the wicked into misfortune.

13He who is deaf to the poor man’s cry will not be heard when he himself calls out.

14A discreet gift pacifies anger, a bribe diverts violent rage.

15Upright men are glad when justice reigns but evildoers tremble.

16He who departs from the ways of prudence will sleep in the assembly of the Shades.

17Pleasure-lovers remain poor, he who loves wine and perfume will never grow rich.

18The wicked man will pay for the virtuous and the treacherous man, for the honest.

19Better to live in a deserted place than with a raging and abusive woman.

20There is oil and precious treasure in the wise man’s house, things which the fool squanders.

21He who seeks justice and mercy will gain life, prosperity and honor.

22The wise man conquers a city of warriors and tears down the walls they trust in.

23He who keeps guard over his mouth and tongue saves himself from anguish.

24“Mocker” is the name of the arrogant and haughty, he in whom pride abounds.

25The idler’s desires lead him to death because his hands refuse to work. 26He covets all day long while the upright man gives without stinting.

27Yahweh detests the sacrifice of the wicked, above all when they offer it for an unjust cause.

28The lying witness will perish but he who listens wisely will be given time to speak.

29The wicked man tries to appear firm and stable while the honest man confirms his way.

30No wisdom, prudence or advice can withstand the look of Yahweh.

31The horse is equipped for the day of battle but it is Yahweh who gives the victory.

 

22

1A good name is better than great wealth; fame is preferable to silver or gold.

2Rich and poor have something in common, Yahweh has made them all.

3The discreet man foresees disgrace and hides, the ignorant keep going at their own expense.

4The reward of humility is fear of Yahweh, wealth, honor and life.

5The path of the wicked is paved with thorns and traps, he who loves his life will keep his distance.

6Teach a child the way he should go, he will not stray from it while he lives.

7The rich man lords it over the poor, the borrower is the moneylender’s slave.

8Whoever sows injustice reaps disaster; the power of the wicked will be broken.

9The warmhearted man will be blessed since he shares his bread with the poor.

10Throw out the mocker and the dispute will cease, fighting and insults will end.

11He who loves purity of heart and speaks sensibly will find a friend in the king.

12Yahweh’s look protects the wise man and discredits the words of the liar.

13The lazy man says, “There is a lion outside, he will kill me in the street.”

14The adulterous woman’s mouth is a deep pit, he whom Yahweh wishes to punish will fall into it.

15The heart of the child is naturally foolish, the beating of instruction will cure it.

16When you oppress the poor, you make them grow; when you give to the rich, you waste everything.

 

The proverbs of the wise

17Give ear, listen to the words of the wise and apply yourself to understanding them, 18because it will be your delight to keep them deep within you, to have them always ready on your lips.

19I wish now to teach you, so that you will place your trust in Yahweh. 20Have I not written for you thirty chapters of advice and knowledge 21so that you may recognize the truth and be able to answer rightly him who sent you?

22Do not take from the poor man just because he is poor or condemn the one in misfortune, 23because Yahweh will intercede for them and will carry off the life of their oppressors.

24Do not befriend the angry man or be a companion to the one of rage, 25for fear you adopt their ways and lose your life in their midst.

26Do not be one of those who undertake a commitment and act as guarantor of debts; 27if you cannot pay, they will take from you the very bed in which you sleep.

28Do not move the ancient boundaries established by your ancestors.

29You see a clever man at work? He will enter the service of kings; he will not stay in the service of people of no renown.

 

23

1If you sit at a table with a great man, beware of what is in front of you; 2if your appetite is too great, put a knife to your throat. 3Do not greedily desire his fine food for it is deceptive nourishment.

4Do not wear yourself out trying to be rich, do not dwell on it. 5Set your eyes on wealth and it no longer exists; it sprouts wings and flies into the sky like an eagle.

6Do not eat with the wicked man or be greedy for his choice food. 7All is appearance, for he plots in his heart. “Eat and drink,” he says but he is not to be trusted. 8You will spit it out as soon as it is tasted and your words of praise will be wasted.

9Do not speak with a fool; he will not be able to appreciate your remarks.

10Do not move the ancient boundaries or take possession of the orphan’s land because his Avenger is powerful; 11he will take sides against you.

12Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of wisdom.

13Do not hold back from correcting a youth; the rod will not kill him. 14With several strokes, you save him from death.

15My son, if your heart is wise, then my own heart is glad, 16and my whole being will rejoice when you speak the truth.

17Do not envy sinners but, each day, fear Yahweh; then you will have a future and 18your hope will not be in vain.

19Listen, my son, and you will be wise and you will make your heart go straight on its way.

20Do not be one of those who get drunk with wine or who stuff themselves with meat, 21since the drunkard and the glutton impoverish themselves and the sleepyhead is clothed in rags.

22Listen to your father who begot you; do not despise your mother in her old age.

23Acquire truth and never sell it; gain wisdom, discipline and discernment.

24Happy the father of a virtuous man! How he will rejoice, 25he who fathers a wise man! May your father and mother rejoice and may she who bore you be glad.

26My son, give me your heart, that your eyes may delight in my ways. 27You should know that the prostitute is a deep abyss and the unknown woman a narrow well. 28Like a thief she lies in wait and she increases the sinners among men.

29For whom are the cries and laments? For whom the complaints and sighs? For whom the blows without reason? For whom the eyes which see double?

30For those who abandon themselves to wine and go in search of the well-blended wine. 31Do not consider the wine: how red it is and how sparkling the glass! How smoothly it flows!

32In the end, it bites like a snake and stings like a viper. 33Your eyes will see strange things and you will end up speaking nonsense. 34You will be like a man asleep on the high seas or at the rudder: “They hit me but I am not hurt. 35They beat me but I feel nothing. When will I wake up? I will go in search of more.”

 

24

1Do not envy the wicked or desire their company, 2for their hearts dream only of violence and their lips speak nothing but evil.

3With wisdom a house is built. 4It is strengthened by prudence. Its granaries are filled by knowledge with all that is good, precious and desirable.

5The wise man is powerful; the one of knowledge adds to his strength. 6Because of this, he goes into battle with wise plans, since success depends on many advisers.

7Wisdom is beyond the reach of the fool; let him not open his mouth in the assembly.

8The plotter of evil is called an unscrupulous mastermind.

9The fool dreams only of sin, the mocker deserves only contempt.

10If you lose heart when misfortune comes, miserable is your strength.

11Rescue those who are being carried away to die; save those who are being dragged away to torture. 12Afterwards you will say, “We did not know.” But he who weighs the heart, does he not understand? He who watches over the soul is aware and he will give to each one according to his deeds.

13Eat honey, my son, because it is good; the honeycomb is sweet to the taste. 14So also will wisdom be to your soul. If you find it, you have a future and your hope will not be in vain.

15Evildoer, do not spy on the house of the virtuous man, do not disturb his home. 16Because even though the virtuous man falls seven times, he gets up again, while the wicked sink in their adversity.

17Do not rejoice if your enemy falls or let your heart be glad if he stumbles, 18lest Yahweh see and be displeased and his anger be turned on you.

19Do not be incensed by the wicked or envious of the ungodly, 20since there is no future in evil and the lamp of the wicked will be extinguished.

21Fear Yahweh and the king, my son; make no deals with agitators, 22for disaster will befall them without warning and who knows when their ruin will come?

 

Other proverbs of the wise

23It is not good for judges to show partiality. People curse and nations hate him 24who says to the wicked man, “You are just.” 25But those who punish the evildoer can boast; blessing and happiness will be theirs.

26An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips.

27Finish your work out-of-doors and plan your work in the fields; afterwards, you can think of building your house.

28Do not lightly bear witness against your neighbor lest you lie.

29Do not say, “I will do to him what he did to me; I will repay him for his deeds.”

30I passed by the lazy man’s field, near the vineyard of the senseless man. 31Everywhere it was full of weeds; thistles covered the ground and the stonewall was fallen apart. 32Seeing all this, I reflected and drew this lesson from what I saw. 33A little sleep, a little drowsiness and 34your laziness creeps upon you and then, like a tramp, poverty comes, bringing misery like a vagabond.

 

Solomon’s proverbs

25

1These are also Proverbs of Solomon, recorded in the time of Hezekiah, king of Judah.

2The glory of God is in hiding secrets and the glory of the king, in revealing them. 3As high as the skies, as deep as the earth, such is the heart of kings.

4Remove the impurity from silver and it will become a vessel in the hands of the silversmith. 5Remove the wicked from the king’s presence and he will affirm his power through justice.

6Do not boast before the king or put yourself among the great. 7It would be better to be invited, “Come up here,” than to be humiliated after having seen the prince.

8Do not be too hasty in accusing your neighbor for what would happen to you should he confound you?

9Defend your case against your neighbor but do not reveal the secret of another, 10lest he overhear it and despise you and your reputation be lost.

11An opportune word is like golden apples encased in silver. 12A gold ring or an ornament of fine gold, such is the wise man’s rebuke to a responsive person.

13The trustworthy messenger is like the coolness of snow at harvest time, to him who sends him: he revives the soul of his master.

 

14Clouds and wind but no rain, such is the one who promises but does not fulfill.

15With a little patience you will persuade the judge; a soft tongue can break bones.

16If you find honey, eat enough but not too much, lest you bring it up again.

17Go rarely to your neighbor’s house lest he tire of you and grow to hate you.

18A mace, a sword, a keen arrow: such is the one who lies about his neighbor.

19A decaying tooth, a lame foot, such is the trust put in the ungodly on the day of trouble.

20Singing songs to a grieving person is like taking off your cloak in frosty weather or pouring vinegar into a wound.

21If your enemy is hungry give him something to eat, if thirsty, something to drink; 22thus you pile up red-hot coals on his head and Yahweh will reward you.

23As the north wind brings the rain, so the gossiping tongue leaves angry faces.

24Better the corner of a barn to live in than a house shared with a whimsical woman.

25Good news from a distant country is like cool water to a dry throat.

26A churning river or a polluted spring is like the virtuous man who trembles before the evildoer.

27It is not good to eat too much honey and even less good to be greedy for honors.

28The man who cannot contain his anger is like an open city, without defenses.

26

1Honors do not suit the fool any more than snow in summer and rain at harvest.

2The sparrow escapes, the swallow flies off, so the motiveless curse will have no effect.

3A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey, a stick for the backs of fools.

4Do not answer the stupidity of fools lest you become like them.

5Answer the stupidity of the fool lest he consider himself intelligent.

6He who sends messages by a fool is cutting his own feet.

7Like the unsteady legs of a lame man, such is a proverb in the mouth of fools.

8Honoring a fool is like tying a stone in a sling.

9Like a thorn branch in a drunkard’s hands, such is a proverb in the mouth of fools.

10Like an archer wounding all passersby, so is he who employs a fool.

11The fool reverts to his stupidity just as a dog returns to his vomit.

12See that man who thinks himself wise? There is more hope for a fool!

13“There’s a lion in the street,” the lazy man says, “a lion in the square.”

14The door turns on its hinges and the lazy man, on his bed. 15The idler dips his hand in the dish but is too tired to lift it to his mouth. 16The idler considers himself wiser than many people who answer tactfully.

17Interfering in the disputes of others is like grabbing a passing dog by the tail.

18As a madman hurls flaming, deadly arrows, 19so does the one who lies to his friend and then says, “It was just a joke.”

20For lack of wood, the fire goes out; for want of a gossiper, the quarrel dies down.

21Charcoal on hot coals, wood on a fire, and a quarrelsome man for stirring up disputes.

22The words of the gossiper are delicious mouthfuls which go right down to the bottom of the stomach. 23Like silver on earthenware, so are smooth lips with a corrupt heart.

24The one who hates, disguises his words and keeps his treachery inside; 25do not trust his sweet language for seven evils fill his heart. 26But although he conceals his hatred like a hypocrite, his evil will be revealed in the assembly.

27He who digs a pit falls in it and the rock he rolls away falls back on him.

28The liar hates his victims, the flattering mouth brings destruction.

 

27

1Do not feel confident about tomorrow since you do not know how today will end.

2Let another praise you but not your own mouth; a stranger but not your own lips.

3Heavy the stone and weighty the sand but the fool’s anger outweighs both.

4Wrath is cruel and anger, impulsive but who can withstand jealousy?

5Better an honest rebuke than false affection.

6Worthy of trust is the friend who speaks honestly; the enemy is he who multiplies caresses.

7The full mouth looks down on honey, the hungry one finds any bitter thing sweet.

8Like a bird far from its nest, so is the one who wanders from his own place.

9Oil and perfume gladden the heart; so too does the sweetness of friendship comfort the soul.

10Never desert your friend or your father’s friend; do not hasten to your brother’s house when troubles strike: better a friend nearby than a brother far away.

11Learn to be wise, my son, and make me happy so that I can reply to those who insult me.

12The discerning man foresees danger and takes cover, but fools keep going, to their own loss.

13Get rid of his clothes since he has gone surety for a stranger, seize him for the benefit of those unknown.

14If he, at dawn, blesses his neighbor in a loud voice, it shall be interpreted as a curse.

15The constant dripping of a gutter on a rainy day and a nagging woman have something in common. 16Stopping her is like stopping the wind and grasping oil in one’s hand.

17Iron is sharpened with iron, contact with a neighbor sharpens a man’s wit.

18He who tends the fig tree eats its fruit, he who looks after his master will be honored.

19As the face is reflected in water, so man finds himself in his own heart.

20Death and hell are never satisfied; so, also, the eyes of men.

21A crucible for silver, a furnace for gold; you will know a man by his reputation.

22Even though you grind the fool in a mortar, you will not rid him of his stupidity.

23Know well the state of your herd and tend to your flock 24because wealth does not last forever and riches are not handed down from generation to generation. 25Once the pasture is mowed and the aftergrowth appears and the hay is gathered in from the hills, 26you should have lambs to clothe you and goats to pay for your fields, 27sufficient goats’ milk to feed you, to sustain your household and provide for your serving girls.

 

28

1The wicked man runs away even when no one is after him but the virtuous man feels as safe as a lion.

2A country, for its sins, has many rulers; but with one wise ruler there is stability.

3The evildoer oppressing the poor is like destructive floods which leave no food.

4Those who forsake the Law applaud evil; those faithful to the Law fight evil.

5The wicked have no understanding of justice but those who seek Yahweh understand all.

6Better the poor but honest life than devious living, with riches.

7A clever man keeps the Law, while he who associates with scoundrels brings shame to his father.

8He who adds to his wealth by usury and greed amasses it for another who has compassion on the poor.

9If anyone turns a deaf ear to the Law, even his prayer is contaminated by sin.

10He who leads the virtuous astray will fall into his own trap. The upright will inherit happiness.

11The rich man thinks himself wise while the poor but sensible man knows how to show him up.

12When the virtuous triumph, there is great feasting, but when the wicked dominate, everybody hides.

13Whoever conceals his faults will not prosper, but he who confesses and renounces them will be shown mercy.

14Happy the one who always lives in the fear of God; he who hardens his heart will fall on disaster.

15A roaring lion, a hungry bear, such is the bad leader of a poor people.

16The ruler lacking intelligence multiplies oppression; but he who abhors greed will endure.

17The man wanted for murder will be on the run until death. Let him go!

18He who goes his way honestly will be saved, he who vacillates between two ways will fall in one of them.

19He who tends his land will have an abundance of bread, while he who chases illusions will have his fill of misery.

20The trustworthy man will be heaped with blessings, but he who is preoccupied with getting rich will not be guiltless.

21It is not good to show partiality but a man will do wrong for a mouthful of bread.

22The greedy-eyed man is on the lookout for wealth not knowing that misfortune will befall him.

23He who reproves another will eventually enjoy more favor than the flatterer.

24He who steals from his father and mother saying, “It’s not a sin,” is just like a criminal.

25The greedy man brings about trouble; but he who trusts in Yahweh will be filled with good things.

26He who trusts in himself is just like a fool; while he who walks wisely will be saved.

27He who gives to the poor will not be in need; but he who turns a blind eye to them will have his fill of disgrace.

28When the wicked triumph, everybody hides; but when they perish, the virtuous multiply.

 

29

1He who resists correction will be broken suddenly and without remedy.

2When the virtuous rule, the people are happy, but they groan when the wicked are in power.

3He who loves wisdom makes his father happy, but whoever maintains prostitutes will lose his wealth.

4Through justice a king makes his country prosper; but the extortioner brings it to ruin.

5The one who flatters his neighbor lays a snare at his feet.

6In the wicked man’s sins lies a snare for himself, while the upright man runs on rejoicing.

7The virtuous man is concerned about the problems of the poor; the evildoer, however, understands nothing.

8Mockers create disturbances in the city but the wise turn troubles away.

9When the wise man argues with the fool, whether he is annoyed or joking, he will get nowhere.

10The violent hate the blameless man but the virtuous seek out his presence.

11The fool gives free rein to his rage; while the wise man restrains it.

12When a ruler listens to false reports, all his ministers will be scoundrels.

13The poor man and usurer have something in common: both receive the light of day from God.

14The king who judges the poor with justice will affirm his throne forever.

15Both the stick and rebuke bring wisdom, while the spoilt child brings shame to his mother.

16When the wicked rule, sin abounds, but the virtuous shall witness their downfall.

17Correct your son and he will bring you rest; you will be happy in him.

18Where prophets are lacking, the people get out of hand; happy is he who obeys the Law.

19A slave is not corrected by words; even if he understands he will take no notice.

20You see a man dying to speak? There is more hope for a fool.

21If you spoil your slave from childhood, he will end up a rebel.

22The hot-tempered man provokes disputes, his anger multiplies his sins.

23A man’s pride results in his humiliation, but he who humbles himself will achieve honors.

24He who shares with the thief harms himself; even you who kept silent when you should have denounced him.

25To be afraid of people is a trap; but whoever trusts in Yahweh will be safe.

26Many seek a ruler’s favor but each one’s fate comes from God.

27The upright man detests the wicked and the evildoer hates the honest man.

 

Sayings of Agur

30

1The sayings of Agur, Son of Jakeh, of Massa.

2He says, “My God, my God, I am worn-out and weary. Too stupid to be human, I am devoid of intelligence; 3I have not acquired wisdom or grasped the knowledge of the Holy One.”

4Who has ascended the heavens and descended? Who has gathered the wind in his hands? Who has encircled the waters with his cloak? Who has established the limits of the earth? What is his name or the name of his son?

Do you know?

5Every word of God is true, he is a shield in whom man can find refuge. 6Add nothing to his words lest he rebuke you and take you for a liar.

7O God, two things I beg of you, do not deny me them before I die. 8Keep lying and falsehood far away from me, give me neither poverty nor riches. Give me just as much food as I need lest, 9satisfied, I deny you and say, “Who is Yahweh?” Or else, out of necessity, I steal and profane the name of my God.

10Do not accuse a slave to his master’s face lest he curse you and you have to pay.

11What a people are those who curse their father and do not bless their mother, 12who consider themselves pure but their sins have not been cleansed! 13They have a haughty look and disdainful eye; 14their teeth are like daggers and their fangs, like blades to devour the weak of the land and the poor of the people.

15The leech has two daughters, “Give me!” and “Give me!”

16There are three insatiable things and four which never say, “Enough”: the grave, the sterile womb, the earth longing for water and the fire which never cries, “Enough.”

17The eye which challenges a father and despises his aging mother, will be gouged out by the ravens of the valley and devoured by the eagles.

18There are three things which I cannot comprehend and four which I do not understand: 19the way of the eagle through the sky, the way of the snake on the rock, the way of the ship on high seas and the way of the human being within the mother.

20What can I say of the adulterous woman? She eats, and having wiped her mouth, she says, “I have done nothing wrong.”

21Three things make the earth tremble; there are four which it cannot withstand: 22the slave who becomes king, the fool stuffed with bread, 23the unbearable woman who marries and the maid who inherits from her mistress.

24There are four tiny creatures on the earth that are among the wisest of the wise: 25the ants that are without strength, but in summer make sure of their supplies; 26the rock-rabbits that are without vigor, but make their home in the rocks; 27the locusts that have no king, but move forward in organized groups; 28the lizard which can be caught by hand, but lives in the palaces of kings.

29Three things have a stately step and four have a noble bearing: 30the lion, the bravest of animals, that retreats before nothing; 31the cock that struts proudly among the hens; the he-goat that leads his flock, and the king at the head of his army.

32If you have been foolish enough to get angry and afterwards regret it, cover your mouth with your hand. 33Since by churning the milk butter is produced, by squeezing the nose blood flows, and by stirring up anger arguments arise.

 

The sayings of Lemuel

31

1The sayings of Lemuel, king of Massa, taught him by his mother.

2No, my son! Son of my womb, no!

No, my most beloved son!

3Do not waste your strength on women, or your life on those who destroy kings.

4It is not for kings, O Lemuel, not for kings to drink wine or for rulers to love strong drink. 5Lest in drinking they forget what they have decreed and override the cause of the helpless.

6Give strong drink to the one about to die and wine to the heart full of bitterness: 7so that he may drink and forget his misfortune and remember his pain no more. 8Speak on behalf of the dumb and defend the cause of all who are destitute.

9Open your mouth, pronounce just sentences, defend the needy and the poor.

 

The perfect wife

10The woman of character, where is she to be found? She is more precious than any jewel.

11Her husband has complete confidence in her; she will be of great benefit to him.

12She brings him only good and not evil, all the days of her life.

13She has obtained wool and flax, and works them with skillful hands.

14She is like the merchant ships which bring provisions from afar.

15She gets up while it is still dark, feeds her household and allots tasks to the servants.

16If she sets her heart on a field, she buys it and plants a vineyard with her own hands.

17She is full of energy and her arms show her strength.

18She knows her work is successful and, at night, her light remains unextinguished.

19She puts her hand to the distaff and her fingers hold the spindle.

20She reaches out her hand to the helpless and gives to the poor.

21When snow comes, she has no fears for her household since they are all doubly clothed.

22She makes her own quilts and her clothes are purple and fine linen.

23Her husband is well-respected; he sits in council with the elders of the people.

24She weaves linen cloth and sells it; she supplies the merchants with sashes.

25She is strong and dignified and looks with confidence to the future.

26She speaks wisely and her words are kind.

27She keeps an eye on the conduct of her household and is never idle.

28Her sons rise up and call her blessed, her husband sings her praises:

29“Many women have done wonders but you surpass them all.”

30Charm is deceptive and beauty useless; the woman who is wise is the one to praise.

31May she enjoy the fruits of her labor and may all praise her for her works.

• 1.1  From the beginning, people are divided into two groups. On one hand, the wise which includes the intelligent, clever and responsible; on the other hand, the foolish, including also those who are stupid, lying and evil.

The beginning of knowledge is the fear of Yahweh (v. 7). This word “fear” does not have for us the meaning it had in the Bible. It is not, in fact, a matter of being afraid of God, but to be conscious of acting in his presence and of being responsible to him. Those who “fear Yahweh” make fidelity and obedience to his word the basis of their decisions.

• 20. An invitation to be converted today. Tomorrow will be too late. Jesus will say the same: Matthew 7:21 and 25:1.

Wisdom shouts aloud in the streets. Who will be able to say that no one awakened him and showed him the way? Subhuman conditions of life make a people irresponsible, but irresponsible people also make a subhuman world. All are invited, however, to come out of their passivity.

They did not choose the fear of Yahweh (v. 29). It is easy to excuse oneself: “There is no malice on my part; it is a question of negligence.” Wisdom rejects these excuses. Negligence is a form of contempt for God.

• 2.1  The wisdom of God protects those who love it against evil influences. They are no longer like straw carried off by the wind, or in our world a number lost in the crowd, submissive to the pressure of media and the attractions of the consumer world. They resist the call of drunkards, of frivolous women and of unscrupulous companions.

• 3.5  The first paragraph deals with the attitudes leading to wisdom: humility, being willing to sacrifice what God wants, not becoming discouraged when the Lord corrects us, that is to say, when we are tested (see Heb 12:5 and Rev 3:19).

The proverbs insist on the value of advice, discipline, correction: to live as one pleases, according to one’s fantasies causes all sorts of misfortune: this is a saying of Proverbs (see 5:12).

Then the years of your life will be multiplied (4:10). The teachings of wisdom assure you of life and well-being. It is even healthy for the body (3:8 and 4:22).

• 4.23 Above all else, guard your heart, for therein is the source of life. Let us not forget that in the Bible “heart” signifies all that is interior in humans: their conscience, deepest desires, own criteria. It is a call not to allow oneself to be carried away by activism, nor to shut our eyes to a particular aspect of our conduct, to search among our motives where it is very easy for a good intention to be accompanied by others that are less noble. All are to be put under the light of faith.

• 5.15 Drink, then, from the water of your own cistern. Let people be responsible first in their married life. This chapter deals with the consequences of licentiousness. It invites a man to value the intimacy of his marriage and after many years to be able to continue being the lover of his wife: be always in love with her.

It is strange that today it is necessary to be reminded of such things in a society of abundance where infidelity is extolled as if it multiplied the possibilities of enjoyment and of finding oneself. The contempt for fidelity and the family is the first cause of death in a country: children become rare and selfishness is the law. The Bible knows that people only reach maturity by respecting a law and that sexual liberty only brings decline to a disenchanted heart.

• 6.1 Here we have all kinds of advice.

Verses 1-5. A person who is responsible, however generous and obliging he may be, always thinks before committing himself.

Verses 9-11. Being lazy about getting up: see also 26:14.

Following this passage, there is a long discourse on the consequences of adultery which is accompanied by a life of lies and slavery.

• 8.1  Wisdom speaks again in this poem. We understand that this Wisdom is the wisdom found in the books of the Bible. Biblical words are the Word of God and because of that even when they seem naive, or “old hat” at times, they are always bearers of life (Jesus will say that the word of God is a seed).

All the benefits that will be reaped by the frequent reading of the Bible are listed: to begin with, the fear of God, that is to say, appreciating God above all things. Then culture that enables us to be leaders and to undertake responsible tasks. Finally success in life.

Many youths and adults who are not well educated think they will always be inferior: they do not believe they are capable of performing well either in ministry or in community development. They must realize that the regular study of the Bible will not only strengthen their faith, but be a starting point for human wisdom and enabling them to guide others.

• 22. Yahweh created me first, at the beginning of his works. Note the poetic way of presenting wisdom as if it were someone, as if it were a daughter of God: I was his daily delight, forever playing in his presence; playing throughout the world. Such figures of speech contain a religious discovery of the last centuries before Christ.

For a very long time the Bible insisted on the fact that there is only one God and that he has nothing to do with the countless gods of the pagans. Now believers sense that there is something missing in their knowledge of Yahweh. How can God be a source of life and love if he is locked up in his solitude? Thanks to the Bible, believers know that besides being the Almighty and Holy God, the Lord becomes present to his people, in the temple and the Cloud, and that he reveals himself to the prophets to whom he sends his Spirit.

Thus, in the last books of the Old Testament, the authors speak of the Spirit, the Wisdom, the Power, the Providence of God as if they were both something of God and something different from him, like characters sharing God’s mysterious life and through whom he is involved in human affairs.

This is a way of preparing for the great revelation which will happen with the coming of Jesus. God is one in three persons and from the beginning his eternal Son “through whom all things were made” and who came to live among us was with the Father (see Jn 1:1-4; Col 1:15 and Heb 1:2-3).

Thus Wisdom is a figure of Christ. Christians came to see it as an image of their mother, Mary. In fact, more than any other creature, she was present in God’s plans from the beginning and deserves to be called “Throne of Wisdom” since she was so intimately united with the Son, the Wisdom of God.

Happy are those who listen to me (v. 34). Thus the Wisdom of God speaks to the beginner taking his first steps in search of wisdom.

Who is this beginner? Perhaps the one who enrolled in a reading course because she wanted to better her situation; or one who dedicates his days off to taking a course in unions in order to serve better his fellow workers; or the one who studies at night after work; or the one who does not go to bed without having read a biblical passage with his wife, etc. The wisdom you will gain comes from God himself, the source of all truth, who calls men and women to share in his wisdom.

This student may not reach a highly-prized knowledge, nor will he graduate with honors in this world! It does not matter. Because he decided to live more responsibly and to develop his human potential, God will see him as one of his children and one day, will give him the true wisdom which is in God.

We find two similar texts in Wisdom 7:21 and Sirach 24:5.

• 9.1 We will easily discover the image of Christ in these few verses. Wisdom is the image of the Son of God.

We find the invitation to the banquet in Matthew 22:4. Rich and poor, sensible and foolish people, all are called to change their lives.

The bread and the wine which Wisdom gives will one day be the body and blood of Christ (see Jn 6).

God is always present in our lives; he gives himself and nourishes us. We are invited to open our hands to take what he offers. Each day, he gives us what we need to solve the problems of humanity now.

• 10.1  Here is the oldest part of the Book of Proverbs. It is a collection of proverbs and sayings attributed to king Solomon (chaps. 11–22). Then will follow proverbs from other sources. See 22:17; 24:23; 25:1; 30:1 and 31:1.

Here, more than elsewhere, it is fitting to recall that the words of the Bible are at one and the same time the word of God and human words. As word of God, they contain a teaching that always has value. There are also human words, words of wisdom gathered by an ancient people through experience in a culture different from our own. We cannot expect Christian intuition that comes much later in the plan of God. He is a good educator and it has taken him centuries to give his people wisdom.

These proverbs point to qualities suitable for responsible persons:

– farsighted, self-assured, capable of persevering in their behavior and not lazy;

– being prudent and not trusting anyone (see 12:23; 14:6; 14:15; 25:17);

– being just and able to forgive (28:2; 31:8; 21:26; 25:21);

– being in control of one’s tongue (13:3);

– being able to correct one’s children (13:1).

• 31.10  Mother’s Day was established recently to celebrate the women who spend their lives in the hidden tasks of the home, and who, through their sacrifices and love, build the best of our world. This poem concluding the book of Proverbs expresses a similar viewpoint.

It is not by chance that this poem concludes the book of Provers. Wisdom in Israel was not intellectual reflection far removed from real life with slight interest in discovering reasons for living. Wisdom, first of all was knowing how to organize one’s life, just as Solomon said. And, actually women often have a predominant role in all that makes for a happy home and allows persons who believe in life, to be formed and capable of serving the world.

The author lists the numerous activities of women: happiness on earth depends on very little: care is needed, and fidelity to tasks, also something not often insisted upon.

In Israel, men dominated. Women worked more than men. While the men would talk “at the gate” of their village, women looked after the house and the orchard and raised the children. This poem urges all husbands to praise their wives and be grateful to them.