Saturday, June 27, 2015


The book of Proverbs is quite a mix. Some of it sounds like thumbnail analyses of the day's court cases. Some of it seems pretty obvious:
My son, if sinful men entice you, do not give in to them.

If they say, “Come along with us; let’s lie in wait for innocent blood, let’s ambush some harmless soul;


These men lie in wait for their own blood; they ambush only themselves!

Such are the paths of all who go after ill-gotten gain; it takes away the life of those who get it.

In fact you wonder in what sort of society that advice would be necessary.

Maybe I haven't been reading enough commentaries, but it only just occurred to me the other day that this is explicitly addressed to "my son." A king isn't likely to join a common bandit gang--he's more likely to join other kings in ganging up on a land that seems worth conquering. OK, so if I treat this as a parable of wider application than just street gangs to whom else does it apply? Somebody with some power (more of us than we like to think, but not all).

1 comment:

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I read recently that the use of the book was inculcation of general wisdom into young men, who were expected to memorise large portions and internalise it. It was not something debated by the rabbis for nuances of the precise applicability or degree of promise. Adult males would quote it in admonishment and encouragement, but not study it - it was for young men. (I imagine women and young women picked up a fair bit of it as well, what with all the memorising by boys in the family and men sprinkling these things into conversation.)