New American Bible (Revised Edition)
III. First Solomonic Collection of Sayings[a]
- 10:1–22:16 The Proverbs of Solomon are a collection of three hundred and seventy-five proverbs on a wide variety of subjects. No overall arrangement is discernible, but there are many clusters of sayings related by vocabulary and theme. One thread running through the whole is the relationship of the “son,” the disciple, to the parents, and its effect upon the house(hold). In chaps. 10–14 almost all the proverbs are antithetical; “the righteous” and “the wicked” (ethical), “the wise” and “the foolish” (sapiential), and “the devout, the pious” and “the irreverent” (religious). Chapters 15–22 have fewer sharp antitheses. The sayings are generally witty, often indirect, and are rich in irony and paradox.
The opening saying ties the whole collection to the first section, for “son,” “father,” and “mother” evoke the opening line of the first instruction, “Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and reject not your mother’s teaching.” The son is the subject of parental exhortation throughout chaps. 1–9. This is the first of many sayings on domestic happiness or unhappiness, between parents and children (e.g., 15:20; 17:21) and between husband and wife (e.g., 12:4; 14:1). Founding or maintaining a household is an important metaphor in the book.
Adult children represented the family (headed by the oldest married male) to the outside world. Foolishness, i.e., malicious ignorance, brought dishonor to the parents and the family.