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Proverbs 6:20-24 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Warning Against Adultery[a]

20 Observe, my son, your father’s command,
    and do not reject your mother’s teaching;
21 Keep them fastened over your heart always,
    tie them around your neck.
22 When you lie down they[b] will watch over you,
    when you wake, they will share your concerns;
    wherever you turn, they will guide you.
23 For the command is a lamp, and the teaching a light,
    and a way to life are the reproofs that discipline,
24 Keeping you from another’s wife,
    from the smooth tongue of the foreign woman.

Footnotes:

  1. 6:20–35

    The second of three instructions on adultery (5:1–23; 6:20–35; and chap. 7). The instructions assume that wisdom will protect one from adultery and its consequences: loss of property and danger to one’s person. In this poem, the father and the mother urge their son to keep their teaching constantly before his eyes. The teaching will light his way and make it a path to life (v. 23). The teaching will preserve him from the adulterous woman who is far more dangerous than a prostitute. Prostitutes may cost one money, but having an affair with someone else’s wife puts one in grave danger. The poem bluntly urges self-interest as a motive to refrain from adultery.

    The poem has three parts. I (vv. 20–24, ten lines), in which v. 23 repeats “command” and “teaching” of v. 20 and “keeping” in v. 24 completes the fixed pair initiated by “observe” in v. 20; II (vv. 25–29, ten lines) is a self-contained argument comparing the costs of a liaison with a prostitute and a married woman; III (vv. 30–35, twelve lines) draws conclusions from the comparison of adultery with theft: the latter involves property only but adultery destroys one’s name and very self. The best protection against such a woman is heeding parental instruction, which is to be kept vividly before one’s eyes like a written tablet.

  2. 6:22 They: Heb. has “she.” If this verse is not out of place, then the antecedent of “she” is command (v. 20), or perhaps wisdom.
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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