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Admonition to Avoid the Wiles of the Adulteress[a]

My child,[b] devote yourself to my words
and store up my commands inside yourself.[c]
Keep my commands[d] so that you may live,[e]
and obey[f] my instruction as your most prized possession.[g]
Bind them on your forearm;[h]
write them on the tablet of your heart.[i]
Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,”[j]
and call understanding a close relative,
so that they may keep you from the adulterous woman,[k]
from the loose woman[l] who has flattered[m] you[n] with her words.
For at the window of my house
through my window lattice I looked out
and I saw among the naive[o]
I discerned among the youths[p]
a young man[q] who lacked sense.[r]
He was passing by the street near her corner,
making his way[s] along the road to her house[t]
in the twilight, the evening,[u]
in the dark of the night.[v]
10 Suddenly[w] a woman came out to meet him!
She was dressed like a prostitute[x] and with secret intent.[y]
11 (She is loud and rebellious,
she[z] does not remain[aa] at home—
12 at one time outside, at another[ab] in the wide plazas,
and by every corner she lies in wait.)
13 So she grabbed him and kissed him,
and with a bold expression[ac] she said to him,
14 “I have meat from my peace offerings at home;[ad]
today I have fulfilled my vows!
15 That is why I came out to meet you,
to look for you,[ae] and I found you!
16 I have spread my bed with elegant coverings,[af]
with richly colored fabric[ag] from Egypt.
17 I have perfumed my bed
with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon.
18 Come, let’s drink deeply[ah] of lovemaking[ai] until morning,
let’s delight ourselves[aj] with love’s pleasures.
19 For my husband[ak] is not at home;[al]
he has gone on a journey of some distance.
20 He has taken a bag of money with him;[am]
he will not return until[an] the end of the month.”[ao]
21 She turned him aside[ap] with her persuasions;[aq]
with her smooth talk[ar] she was enticing him along.[as]
22 Suddenly he was going[at] after her
like an ox that goes to the slaughter,
like a stag prancing into a trapper’s snare[au]
23 till an arrow pierces his liver[av]
like a bird hurrying into a trap,
and he does not know that it will cost him his life.[aw]
24 So now, sons,[ax] listen to me,
and pay attention to the words I speak.[ay]
25 Do not let your heart turn aside to her ways—
do not wander into her pathways;
26 for she has brought down[az] many fatally wounded,
and all those she has slain are many.[ba]
27 Her house is the way to the grave,[bb]
going down to the chambers of death.


  1. Proverbs 7:1 sn The chapter begins with the important teaching of the father (1-5), then it focuses on the seduction: first the victim (6-9), then the temptress (10-12), then the persuasion (13-20), and the capitulation (21-23); the chapter concludes with the deadly results of adultery (24-27).
  2. Proverbs 7:1 tn The text again has “my son.” In this passage perhaps “son” would be the most fitting because of the warning against the adulterous woman. However, since even in this particular folly the temptation works both ways, the general address to either young men or women is retained. Similar warnings would apply to daughters to be warned of smooth-talking, seductive men.
  3. Proverbs 7:1 tn Heb “store up with yourself.” Most translations either use “store” (NIV, NRSV) or “treasure” (NASB, ESV, NKJV) and “with you” (ESV, NRSV, KJV) or “within you” (NIV, NASB, NKJV). BDB 860 s.v. צָפַן Qal.1 suggests that “within you” means “in your own keeping.” HALOT 1049 s.v. describes the verb as “to keep in one’s heart.” NIDOTTE 837 s.v. צָפַן says the verb “takes on the technical meaning of memorizing the commandments of God.” The instructions are to have these lessons stored up inside so that you can draw on them in The idea here is to study to be prepared. It is the opposite of the idea of getting in a difficult situation and then looking for something in the Bible to apply to your life. This verse is about applying your life to biblical wisdom and being prepared for situations that may come your way.
  4. Proverbs 7:2 tc Before v. 2 the LXX inserts: “My son, fear the Lord and you will be strong, and besides him, fear no other.” Although this addition has the precedent of 3:7 and 9 and harmonizes with 14:26, it does not fit here; the advice is to listen to the teacher.
  5. Proverbs 7:2 tn The construction of an imperative with the vav (ו) of sequence after another imperative denotes a logical sequence of purpose or result: “that you may live,” or “and you will live.”
  6. Proverbs 7:2 tn The term “obey” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is implied by the parallelism; it is supplied for the sake of clarity and smoothness. Some English versions, in light of the second line of v. 1, supply “guard” (e.g., NIV, NCV, NLT).
  7. Proverbs 7:2 tn The Hebrew phrase refers to the pupil of the eye, perhaps by the idiom “the little man in [the] eye.” The term אִישׁוֹן (ʾishon, “pupil”) appears to be a diminutive from אִישׁ (ʾish, “man”). The saying may have arisen because the pupil will make a small reflection of the person looking into another’s eyes. Because of the importance of protecting the eye from harm, the “pupil” of the eye “has the idea of something precious that was to be guarded jealously” (NIDOTTE 386 s.v. אִישׁוֹן). Traditionally this Hebrew idiom is translated into English as “the apple of your eye” (so KJV, NAB, NIV, NRSV); a more contemporary rendering would be “as your most prized possession.” The point is that the teaching must be the central focus of the disciple’s vision and attention.
  8. Proverbs 7:3 tn Heb “fingers” (so KJV and many other English versions). In light of Deut 6:8, “fingers” appears to be a metonymy for the lower part of the arm or for the hands.
  9. Proverbs 7:3 sn This is an allusion to Deut 6:8. Binding the teachings on the fingers and writing them on the tablets here are implied comparisons for preserving the teaching in memory so that it can be recalled and used with ease.
  10. Proverbs 7:4 sn The metaphor is meant to signify that the disciple will be closely related to and familiar with wisdom and understanding, as close as to a sibling. Wisdom will be personified in the next two chapters, and so referring to it as a sister in this chapter certainly prepares for that personification.
  11. Proverbs 7:5 tn Heb “strange” (so KJV, ASV). See the note at 2:16, which is identical to this verse, except for using a synonym for the beginning verb.
  12. Proverbs 7:5 tn Heb “strange woman.” This can be interpreted as a “wayward wife” (so NIV) or an “unfaithful wife” (so NCV). As discussed earlier, the designations “strange woman” and “foreign woman” could refer to Israelites who stood outside the community in their lawlessness and loose morals—an adulteress or wayward woman. H. Ringgren and W. Zimmerli, however, suggest that she is also a promoter of a pagan cult, but that is not entirely convincing (Spruche/Prediger [ATD], 19).
  13. Proverbs 7:5 tn The Hiphil of חָלַק (khalaq, “to be smooth/slippery”) means “to use smooth words,” that is, to flatter (Pss 5:10; 36:3; Prov 2:16; 28:23; 29:5). The seductive speech of the temptress is as sweet as honey and smooth as oil (5:3).sn As the perfect verb of a dynamic root, the verb reports what she has done. She probably flatters every man who crosses her path, but this advice is given to the young man who would have on his mind what she has said to him. Part of succumbing to temptation often involves becoming narrowly focused on something perceived as pleasurable and blocking out any thought of the consequences. (Compare Eve in Gen 3.) The sage goes on to tell a story in order to make the trap and the consequences vivid.
  14. Proverbs 7:5 tn The term “you” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for the sake of smoothness.
  15. Proverbs 7:7 tn Heb פֶּתִי (peti, “naive, simpleton”).sn This naive young man who lacked wisdom is one of the פֶּתִי (peti) simpletons, lacking keen judgment, one void of common sense (cf. NAB, NASB, NRSV, NLT) or understanding (cf. KJV, ASV). He is young, inexperienced, featherbrained (so D. Kidner, Proverbs [TOTC], 75).
  16. Proverbs 7:7 tc Heb “sons.” The MT reads בַבָּנִים (vabbanim) “among the sons,” perhaps meaning “young men” (cf. Song 2:3; HALOT 138, s. v. I בֵּן). Based on the Syriac, Targum, and Vulgate, perhaps the text should read בַנְבָלִים (vanevalim, “among the fools”).
  17. Proverbs 7:7 tn Heb “lad” or “youth.”
  18. Proverbs 7:7 tn The term לֵב (lev, “mind, heart”) is used as a metonymy of association for what one does with the mind (thinking), and so refers to discernment, wisdom, good sense.
  19. Proverbs 7:8 tn The verb צָעַד (tsaʿad) means “to step; to march.” It suggests that the youth was intentionally making his way to her house. The verb is the imperfect tense; it stresses continual action parallel to the active participle that began the verse, but within a context that is past time.
  20. Proverbs 7:8 tn Heb “way of her house.” The term “way” is an adverbial accusative telling where he was marching. It is described by the genitive “her house” identifying where the way goes by or to.
  21. Proverbs 7:9 tn Heb “in the evening of the day.”
  22. Proverbs 7:9 tn Heb “in the middle of the night, and dark”; KJV “in the black and dark night”; NRSV “at the time of night and darkness.”
  23. Proverbs 7:10 tn The particle וְהִנֵּה (vehinneh) introduces a dramatic sense of the immediate to the narrative; it has a deictic force, “and look!—there was a woman,” or “all of a sudden this woman….”
  24. Proverbs 7:10 tn Heb “with the garment of a prostitute.” The noun שִׁית (shit, “garment”) is an adverbial accusative specifying the appearance of the woman. The words “she was” are supplied in the translation to make a complete English sentence.
  25. Proverbs 7:10 tn Heb “kept secret of heart”; cf. ASV, NRSV “wily of heart.” The verbal form is the passive participle from נָצַר (natsar) in construct. C. H. Toy lists the suggestions of the commentators: false, malicious, secret, subtle, excited, hypocritical (Proverbs [ICC], 149). The LXX has “causes the hearts of the young men to fly away.” The verb means “to guard; to watch; to keep”; to be guarded of heart means to be wily, to have secret intent—she has locked up her plans and gives nothing away (e.g., Isaiah 48:6 as well). Interestingly enough, this contrasts with her attire which gives everything away.
  26. Proverbs 7:11 tn Heb “her feet.” This is a synecdoche, a part for the whole; the point is that she never stays home, but is out and about all the time.
  27. Proverbs 7:11 tn Heb “dwell” or “settle”; NAB “her feet cannot rest.”
  28. Proverbs 7:12 tn The repetition of the noun פַּעַם (paʿam, “step, occasion”) is an idiom indicating different occasions. It could be rendered idiomatically in English as “now [here], now [there],” “once [here], then [there],” or “at one time…at another time” (BDB 822 s.v. פַּעַם 3.e).
  29. Proverbs 7:13 tn Heb “she made her face bold.” The Hiphil perfect of עָזַז (ʿazaz, “to be strong”) means she has an impudent face (cf. KJV, NAB, NRSV), a bold or brazen expression (cf. NASB, NIV, NLT).
  30. Proverbs 7:14 tn Heb “peace offerings are with me.” The peace offerings refer to the meat left over from the votive offering made at the sanctuary (e.g., Lev 7:11-21). Apparently the sacrificial worship meant little to this woman spiritually. By expressing that she has peace offerings, she could be saying that she has fresh meat for a meal at home, or that she was ceremonially clean, perhaps after her period. At any rate, it is all probably a ruse for winning a customer.
  31. Proverbs 7:15 tn Heb “to look diligently for your face.”
  32. Proverbs 7:16 tn Heb “with spreads I have spread my bed.” The rare noun is a cognate to the verb.
  33. Proverbs 7:16 tn The feminine noun means “dark-hued stuffs” (BDB 310 s.v. חֲטֻבוֹת). The form is a passive participle from a supposed root II חָטַב (khatav), which in Arabic means to be of a turbid, dusky color mixed with yellowish red. Its Aramaic cognate means “variegated”; cf. NAB “with brocaded cloths of Egyptian linen.” BDB’s translation of this colon is unsatisfactory: “with dark hued stuffs of yarn from Egypt.”
  34. Proverbs 7:18 tn The verb means “to be saturated; to drink one’s fill,” and can at times mean “to be intoxicated with.”
  35. Proverbs 7:18 tn Heb “loves.” The word דּוֹד (dod) means physical love or lovemaking. It is found frequently in the Song of Solomon for the loved one, the beloved.
  36. Proverbs 7:18 tn The form is the Hitpael cohortative of עָלַס (ʿalas), which means “to rejoice.” Cf. NIV “let’s enjoy ourselves.”
  37. Proverbs 7:19 tn Heb “the man.” The LXX interpreted it as “my husband,” taking the article to be used as a possessive. Many English versions do the same.
  38. Proverbs 7:19 tn Heb “in his house.”
  39. Proverbs 7:20 tn Heb “in his hand.”
  40. Proverbs 7:20 tn Heb “he will come back to his home at.”
  41. Proverbs 7:20 tn Heb “new moon.” Judging from the fact that the husband took a purse of money and was staying away until the next full moon, the woman implies that they would be safe in their escapade. If v. 9 and v. 20 are any clue, he could be gone for about two weeks—until the moon is full again.
  42. Proverbs 7:21 tn Heb “she turned him aside.” This expression means that she persuaded him. sn While this verb is a Hebrew perfect (and so past tense in English) the next verb is an imperfect (past progressive). The sage is taking us inside the transition in the man’s mind. He is hooked but not yet reeled in. He has turned and maybe taken a step in her direction, but not really committed yet inside. The second half of the verse points to her continuing enticement to keep him coming until he commits; she is close to closing the deal.
  43. Proverbs 7:21 sn The term לֶקַח (leqakh) was used earlier in Proverbs for wise instruction; now it is used ironically for enticement to sin (see D. W. Thomas, “Textual and Philological Notes on Some Passages in the Book of Proverbs,” VTSup 3 [1955]: 280-92).
  44. Proverbs 7:21 tn Heb “smoothness of her lips”; cf. NAB “smooth lips”; NASB “flattering lips.” The term “lips” is a metonymy of cause representing what she says. The noun חֵלֶק (kheleq) “smoothness” is the counterpart to the verb “flatter” is 7:5.
  45. Proverbs 7:21 tn The basic meaning of the verb נָדַח (nadakh) is “to go/be led astray.” In the causative Hiphil form it means “to drive away, to entice, to seduce.” As an imperfect verb in a past time setting it is progressive: she turned him aside and was leading him astray.
  46. Proverbs 7:22 tn The participle with “suddenly” gives a vivid picture. It depicts the inner change in the man. She had turned him and been enticing him along, but he was still like an ox deciding whether to really follow the call after turning in its direction. Then suddenly, like a switch has been thrown inside, he goes on under his own will power, just like the dumb ox he has become.
  47. Proverbs 7:22 tn The present translation follows R. B. Y. Scott (Proverbs, Ecclesiastes [AB], 64). This third colon of the verse would usually be rendered, “fetters to the chastening of a fool” (KJV, ASV, and NASB are all similar). But there is no support that עֶכֶס (ʿekhes) means “fetters.” It appears in Isaiah 3:16 as “anklets.” The parallelism here suggests that some animal imagery is required. Thus the ancient versions have “as a dog to the bonds.”
  48. Proverbs 7:23 sn The figure of an arrow piercing the liver (an implied comparison) may refer to the pangs of a guilty conscience that the guilty must reap along with the spiritual and physical ruin that follows (see on these expressions H. W. Wolff, Anthropology of the Old Testament).
  49. Proverbs 7:23 tn The expression that it is “for/about/over his life” means that it could cost him his life (e.g., Num 16:38). Alternatively, the line could refer to moral corruption and social disgrace rather than physical death—but this would not rule out physical death too.
  50. Proverbs 7:24 tn The literal translation “sons” works well here in view of the warning. Cf. KJV, NAB, NRSV “children.”
  51. Proverbs 7:24 tn Heb “the words of my mouth.”
  52. Proverbs 7:26 tn Heb “she has caused to fall.”
  53. Proverbs 7:26 tn Heb “numerous” (so NAB, NASB, NRSV, NLT) or “countless.”
  54. Proverbs 7:27 tn The noun “Sheol” in parallelism to “the chambers of death” probably means the grave. The noun is a genitive of location, indicating the goal of the road(s). Her house is not the grave; it is, however, the sure way to it. Cf. Her house is the way to the grave. The young man’s life is not destroyed in one instant; it is taken from him gradually as he enters into a course of life that will leave him as another victim of the wages of sin. The point of the warning is to prevent such a course from starting. Sin can certainly be forgiven, but the more involvement in this matter the greater the alienation from the healthy community.