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The Wiles of the Prostitute

My son, keep my words
And treasure my commandments within you [so they are readily available to guide you].

Keep my commandments and live,
And keep my teaching and law as the apple of your eye.

Bind them [securely] on your fingers;
Write them on the tablet of your heart.

Say to [skillful and godly] wisdom, “You are my sister,”
And regard understanding and intelligent insight as your intimate friends;

That they may keep you from the immoral woman,
From the foreigner [who does not observe God’s laws and] who flatters with her [smooth] words.


For at the window of my house
I looked out through my lattice.

And among the naive [the inexperienced and gullible],
I saw among the youths
A young man lacking [good] sense,

Passing through the street near her corner;
And he took the path to her house

In the twilight, in the evening;
In the black and dark night.
10 
And there a woman met him,
Dressed as a prostitute and sly and cunning of heart.
11 
She was boisterous and rebellious;
[a]She would not stay at home.
12 
At times she was in the streets, at times in the market places,
Lurking and setting her ambush at every corner.
13 
So she caught him and kissed him
And with a brazen and impudent face she said to him:
14 
“I have peace offerings with me;
Today I have paid my vows.
15 
“So I came out to meet you [that you might share with me the feast of my offering],
Diligently I sought your face and I have found you.
16 
“I have spread my couch with coverings and cushions of tapestry,
With colored fine linen of Egypt.
17 
“I have perfumed my bed
With myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon.
18 
“Come, let us drink our fill of love until morning;
Let us console and delight ourselves with love.
19 
“For my husband is not at home.
He has gone on a long journey;
20 
He has taken a bag of money with him,
And he will come home on the appointed day.”
21 
With her many persuasions she caused him to yield;
With her flattering lips she seduced him.
22 
Suddenly he went after her, as an ox goes to the slaughter [not knowing the outcome],
Or as one in stocks going to the correction [to be given] to a fool,
23 
Until an arrow pierced his liver [with a mortal wound];
Like a bird fluttering straight into the net,
He did not know that it would cost him his life.

24 
Now therefore, my sons, listen to me,
And pay attention to the words of my mouth.
25 
Do not let your heart turn aside to her ways,
Do not stray into her [evil, immoral] paths.
26 
For she has cast down many [mortally] wounded;
Indeed, all who were killed by her were strong.(A)
27 
Her house is the way to [b]Sheol,
Descending to the chambers of death.(B)

The Commendation of Wisdom

Does not wisdom call,
And understanding lift up her voice?

On the top of the heights beside the way,
Where the paths meet, wisdom takes her stand;

Beside the gates, at the entrance to the city,
At the entrance of the doors, she cries out:

“To you, O men, I call,
And my voice is directed to the sons of men.

“O you naive or inexperienced [who are easily misled], understand prudence and seek astute common sense;
And, O you [closed-minded, self-confident] fools, understand wisdom [seek the insight and self-discipline that leads to godly living].(C)

“Listen, for I will speak excellent and noble things;
And the opening of my lips will reveal right things.

“For my mouth will utter truth,
And wickedness is repulsive and loathsome to my lips.

“All the words of my mouth are in righteousness (upright, in right standing with God);
There is nothing contrary to truth or perverted (crooked) in them.

“They are all straightforward to him who understands [with an open and willing mind],
And right to those who find knowledge and live by it.
10 
“Take my instruction rather than [seeking] silver,
And take knowledge rather than choicest gold,
11 
“For wisdom is better than rubies;
And all desirable things cannot compare with her.(D)

12 
“I, [godly] wisdom, reside with prudence [good judgment, moral courage and astute common sense],
And I find knowledge and discretion.(E)
13 
“The [reverent] fear and worshipful awe of the Lord includes the hatred of evil;
Pride and arrogance and the evil way,
And the perverted mouth, I hate.
14 
“Counsel is mine and sound wisdom;
I am understanding, power and strength are mine.
15 
“By me kings reign
And rulers decide and decree justice.(F)
16 
“By me princes rule, and nobles,
All who judge and govern rightly.
17 
“I love those who love me;
And those who seek me early and diligently will find me.(G)
18 
“Riches and honor are with me,
Enduring wealth and righteousness (right standing with God).(H)
19 
“My fruit is better than gold, even pure gold,
And my yield is better than choicest silver.
20 
“I, [Wisdom, continuously] walk in the way of righteousness,
In the midst of the paths of justice,
21 
That I may cause those who love me to inherit wealth and true riches,
And that I may fill their treasuries.

22 
“The Lord created and possessed me at the beginning of His way,
Before His works of old [were accomplished].
23 
“From everlasting I was established and ordained,
From the beginning, before the earth existed, [I, godly wisdom, existed].(I)
24 
“When there were no ocean depths I was born,
When there were no fountains and springs overflowing with water.
25 
“Before the mountains were settled,
Before the hills, I was born;(J)
26 
While He had not yet made the earth and the fields,
Or the first of the dust of the earth.
27 
“When He established the heavens, I [Wisdom] was there;
When He drew a circle upon the face of the deep,
28 
When He made firm the skies above,
When the fountains and springs of the deep became fixed and strong,
29 
When He set for the sea its boundary
So that the waters would not transgress [the boundaries set by] His command,
When He marked out the foundations of the earth—(K)
30 
Then I was beside Him, as a master craftsman;
And I was daily His delight;
Rejoicing before Him always,(L)
31 
Rejoicing in the world, His inhabited earth,
And having my delight in the sons of men.(M)

32 
“Now therefore, O sons, listen to me,
For blessed [happy, prosperous, to be admired] are they who keep my ways.(N)
33 
“Heed (pay attention to) instruction and be wise,
And do not ignore or neglect it.
34 
“Blessed [happy, prosperous, to be admired] is the man who listens to me,
Watching daily at my gates,
Waiting at my doorposts.
35 
“For whoever finds me (Wisdom) finds life
And obtains favor and grace from the Lord.
36 
“But he who fails to find me or sins against me injures himself;
All those who hate me love and court death.”

Wisdom’s Invitation

Wisdom has built her [spacious and sufficient] house;
She has hewn out and set up her seven pillars.

She has prepared her food, she has mixed her wine;
She has also set her table.(O)

She has sent out her maidens, she calls
From the highest places of the city:

“Whoever is naive or inexperienced, let him turn in here!”
As for him who lacks understanding, she says,

“Come, eat my food
And drink the wine I have mixed [and accept my gifts].(P)

“Leave [behind] your foolishness [and the foolish] and live,
And walk in the way of insight and understanding.”


He who corrects and instructs a scoffer gets dishonor for himself,
And he who rebukes a wicked man gets insults for himself.

[c]Do not correct a scoffer [who foolishly ridicules and takes no responsibility for his error] or he will hate you;
Correct a wise man [who learns from his error], and he will love you.(Q)

Give instruction to a wise man and he will become even wiser;
Teach a righteous man and he will increase his learning.
10 
The [reverent] fear of the Lord [that is, worshiping Him and regarding Him as truly awesome] is the beginning and the preeminent part of wisdom [its starting point and its essence],
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding and spiritual insight.
11 
For by me (wisdom from God) your days will be multiplied,
And years of life shall be increased.
12 
If you are wise, you are wise for yourself [for your own benefit];
If you scoff [thoughtlessly ridicule and disdain], you alone will pay the penalty.

13 
The foolish woman is restless and noisy;
She is naive and easily misled and thoughtless, and knows nothing at all [of eternal value].
14 
She sits at the doorway of her house,
On a seat by the high and conspicuous places of the city,
15 
Calling to those who pass by,
Who are making their paths straight:
16 
“Whoever is naive or inexperienced, let him turn in here!”
And to him who lacks understanding (common sense), she says,
17 
“Stolen waters (pleasures) are sweet [because they are forbidden];
And bread eaten in secret is pleasant.”(R)
18 
But he does not know that the spirits of the dead are there,
And that her guests are [already] in the depths of Sheol (the nether world, the place of the dead).

Footnotes

  1. Proverbs 7:11 Lit Her feet do not.
  2. Proverbs 7:27 Hades, the nether world, the place of the dead.
  3. Proverbs 9:8 The ancient rabbis took this to have the force of a commandment: never give a rebuke that is sure to be ignored.

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