Proverbs - Lesson 14

Wicked Woman (Part 2/3)

Dr. Waltke continue his discussion of this topic, picking up at Proverbs 5:15.

Bruce Waltke
Lesson 14
Watching Now
Wicked Woman (Part 2/3)

I. The Institution of Marriage

A. Introduction

B. The Wisdom of Marriage

C. Intoxication of Your Wife

II. Lesson 9 of the Parents to the Son – Proverbs 8

A. Translation

B. Introduction

C. Wisdom’s Communicable Attributes

D. Qanani and the Arian Controversy

  • Dr. Waltke covers some introductory issues for the class.

  • The aim of this lecture is to determine our pre-understanding of life and Proverbs. Dr. Waltke discusses issues of God as author, human author as inspired, and Lectio Divina.

  • The preamble and initial verses are key to understanding Proverbs properly.

  • Second half of the Preamble dealing with the issues of moral and mental acumen.

  • We now meet the ten lectures in Proverbs of the parent's teaching to the son/daughter. When Dr. Waltke originally lectured, he skipped ahead to the discussion of politics, and is now resuming the normal order. Those lectures on politics are our lectures 24-26.

  • Dr. Waltke begins with a 20 minute summary of the class so far, and then moves into Proverbs 2 and "Safeguards Against the Wicked." This is the second Proverbs lecture.

  • After a seven minute review and some questions, Dr. Waltke moves into Proverbs 2 and its description of the purpose of godly character/fruit. It is a safeguard against the wicked man and woman, and closes in a summary of life, not death.

  • In dealing with 3:-12, Dr. Waltke raises the legitimate hermeneutical question if the book promises too much. Does it make promises it can't keep?

  • The value of wisdom and applying it to living it out in community.

  • Proverb's teaching on getting the family heritage (4:1-9), staying off the wrong way (4:10-19), not swerving from the right way (4:20-27).

  • The final part of the previous lecture.

  • Dr. Waltke concludes this lecture on 16:10-15 and the discussion on the king.

  • The author deals with the topic of the wicked woman. Proverbs 5:1-14.

  • Dr. Waltke continue his discussion of this topic, picking up at Proverbs 5:15.

  • The final lecture on this topic, picking up at Proverbs 8.

  • Covers the topic of money, drawing thematically from through the book. Proverbs 6:1-19; 10:1-5; Psalm 49; various passages.

  • After a 18 minute summary of the entire book of Proverbs, Dr. Waltke moves into discussing the topic of being money-wise but drawing from many different passages in Proverbs.

  • Dr. Waltke concludes the topic of money by talking about the value of wealth, and how to have enduring wealth.

  • Drawing from passages throughout Proverbs, Dr. Waltke looks at the topics of the power of words, the limitations of words, and the characteristics of wise speech (B.R.E.A.T.H.).

  • After introducing the need for a study on marriage, we look at the characteristics of a wise husband and a wise wife. One of the many points is that both husband and wife are to be involved in the teaching of their children.

  • This lesson focuses on the teaching of the children by both parents (with a discussion of 1 Timothy 2:12-3:1), believing that this teaching will be effective, and recognizing the dignity of the child (among other topics).

  • After a discussion of the structure of the famous poem in Proverbs 31, Dr. Waltke moves into a verse by verse exegesis, emphasizing her entrepreneurial spirit and social consciousness.

  • Discussion of Proverbs 30 with a strong emphasis in understanding its poetic structure.

  • Christians should be involved in politics. Politics and the Christian life are inseparable just as ethics and the Christian life are inseparable. A just government is the foundation for a nation's economic prosperity and social well-being. In biblical theology, the king is replaced by voting citizens.

    There is an outline for each lecture to help you follow the main points. You may also download a complete outline that includes comments from Dr. Waltke's research that he was not able to cover in the lectures.

  • After a review of the preceding lecture, Dr. Waltke talks about how we are in a spiritual and political war with "fools." The wise retrain evil by punishing wrong doers. Non-involvement is a vote for the wicked. The benefits of a righteous and just government.

  • What are the foundations for a good government? What are the characteristics of a good ruler?

  • Dr. Waltke concludes the class by summarizing the basic theology of Proverbs in an attempt to show that it is in agreement with the rest of the Old Testament. 

Prof. Bruce Waltke is acknowledged as the most accomplished scholar of Proverbs of this generation. His two-volume commentary on Proverbs and the relevant sections of his Old Testament Theology show an honesty and mastery of the text rarely seen. When you watch him teach, you will see both a magisterial handling of the material and also a gentleness that is not always present in a scholar of his caliber. This is an expansive class that covers the structure, theology, and content of the entire book. Some of the classes were even filmed in his home.

You may download the notes that Dr. Waltke is using as he teaches the course on Proverbs by clicking on the Lecture Notes link under Downloads on the home page.

I. The Institution of Marriage

A. Introduction

We are still on the lessons of 8, 9 and 10 to the child and we are treating them as a unit, trying to interface them with one another. We are using the 8th lesson in chapter 5 as our template. We have worked out the way through the introduction and then we came down to the Folly of Adultery and that was broken into two parts. There is the social and economic value plus his strength and energies being spent in Canaanite’s husband household. The second part is being under condemnation within your own community. Those were the two parts.

Proverbs 5:15-23: Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well. Should your springs overflow in the streets, your streams of water in the public squares? Let them be yours alone, never to be shared with strangers. May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer—may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love. Why, my son, be intoxicated with another man’s wife? Why embrace the bosom of a wayward woman? For your ways are in full view of the Lord, and he examines all your paths; the evil deeds of the wicked ensnare them; the cords of their sins hold them fast. For lack of discipline they will die, led astray by their own great folly.

B. The Wisdom of Marriage

In contrast to the Folly of Adultery, he now commends the wisdom of marriage and he is looking at marriage in its fundamental sense of its sexual relationship. For chapter 5:15-20, I divided it into prudence of privacy verses folly of promiscuity. Then in verses 18-19, we have the father’s prayer for the son to have a sexually satisfying wife. First, the prudence of Privacy in verses 15-17, ‘Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well. Should your springs overflow in the streets, your streams of water in the public squares? Let them be yours alone, never to be shared with strangers. May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer— may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love. Why, my son, why be intoxicated with another man’s wife? Why embrace the bosom of a wayward woman?’ This chapter is about sex with words like water, cistern and springs in streets. This has to do with sexual satisfaction and being both privately owned. It is yours alone, your private property. There is a metaphor of comparing the Lord with a shepherd. But if you say, ‘Oh shepherd of Israel, save us,’ that is an incomplete metaphor because the shepherd is not identified. You have to fill in what the metaphor is. So when he says, ‘drink water,’ I understand that to be an incomplete metaphor and so it is likening sex or the anodyne of sex to satisfy a basic human desire and that water quenches that human desire. This is one aspect of it, as C.S. Lewis points out, that in marriage; it is insufficient because once the thirst is slated and satisfied, then you have no more need for the water. A better kind of love is like the sweet pea; you don’t need it but you keep going back to it. But it is a basic need for water and that is what this is about. So satisfy your own sexual desire from your own cistern and then in typical parallelism, he intensifies it, running water from your own well. In other words, the very best water; and water from a cistern cannot compare to fresh cold running water. There is also agape love.

Then he says that should your springs overflow into the streets. He is saying should your water be among the water that everyone is drinking, thus he is advocating the privacy of marriage to that of no marriage. He says in verse 17, let them be yours alone, never to be shared with strangers, thus arguing for virginity and monogamy and privacy of marriage. In Solomon 4:11-16 I read in regards to an ideal marriage: ‘your lips drop sweetness as the honeycomb, my bride; milk and honey are under your tongue. You are a garden locked up, my sister, my bride; you are a spring enclosed, a sealed fountain. You are a garden fountain, a well of flowing water streaming down from Lebanon.’ Then the bride says, ‘Awake, north wind, and come, south wind! Blow on my garden that its fragrance may spread abroad. Let my beloved come into his garden and taste its garden and taste its choice fruits.’ This is how I interpret this difficult metaphor. Now he has a prayer in verses 18-19, ‘may your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer – may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love.’ Fountain is used here to indicate a source of sexual satisfaction. May you ever enjoy the wife you knew in your youth! I went on an archaeological dig back in 1971 and on top of the tell there were these beautiful goats and they reminded me of these proverbs. I just wanted to touch their beautiful colored hair.

C. Intoxication of Your Wife

This is highly erotica language talking about her breasts and satisfying her mate. It is a combined love that takes in the Sweet pea love analogy, a patriotic love; a feeling that you get from singing the national anthem and lastly agape love; a love that makes you want to die for those you love. This involves both the quality and quantity of their relationship in marriage and it includes all forms of love. The language creates an intoxicating idea of what marriage can be like. The why in verse 20 is a rhetorical question that condemns adultery! This is marriage and this teaching counteracts worldly teachings against the promotion of lustful sexual propaganda. There are no secrets from God, everything is known; the sins of explicit sexual activities behind closed doors of all kinds are known and will be dealt with. The Lord’s omniscience includes all human behavior in every detail. Their darkest evil will be made known. Everything that we do is constantly under his evaluation to be rewarded and to be blessed or punished if necessary. The moral depravity of the wicked ensnares them. Their sins hold them fast and through the lack of discipline, they will die led astray by their own follies. Without the Word of God and instruction, without a lack of musar, both instruction and discipline, we go astray by our own great folly. So that concludes these lectures.

II. Lesson 9 of the Parents to the Son – Proverbs 8

A. Translation

Does not Wisdom call out? Does not Understanding raise her voice? At the highest point along the way, at the crossroads, she takes her stand; beside the gates, as he entries of the city, at the entrance of the openings, she cries aloud: To you, O people, I call out; Indeed, I cry aloud [to you], humanity. You simpletons understand shrewdness, and you fools, set your hearts on it. Listen; because I speak what is right, I open my lips to speak what is upright. Surely, my palate utters truth for my lips detest wickedness. All the words of my mouth are spoken in righteousness; none of them is deceitful or perverse. To the discerning all of them are right; they are upright to those who have found knowledge. Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold,

[for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her.] I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence; I possess knowledge and discretion. To fear the LORD is to hate evil-- pride and arrogance and evil behavior and a perverse mouth I hate. Counsel and resourcefulness belong to me; I am insight; heroic strength is mine. By me, kings reign and rulers issue decrees that are just. By me rulers govern, and nobles--all who rule on earth. As for me, those who love me I love, and those who seek me diligently will find me. With me are riches and honor, enduring wealth and prosperity. My fruit is better than gold, even pure gold; what I yield surpasses choice silver. I walk about in the path of righteousness, in the midst of the byways of justice, bequeathing property to those who love me and making their treasuries full. The LORD brought me forth as the first of his ways, the earliest of his deeds from of old; In the most remote time I was formed, at the very beginning, from the earliest times of the earth. When there were no depths, I was given birth, when there were no springs abounding with water; Before the mountains were settled in place, before the hills, I was given birth, before he made the earth and the open fields and the world’s first clods of dirt. I was there when he set the heavens in place, when he inscribed a circle on the face of the deep, when he established the clouds above and fixed securely the fountains of the deep, when he set for the sea its limits--and the waters cannot go beyond his command—when he marked out the foundations of the earth. And I was beside him constantly a delighting before him day after day, celebrating before him at all time, celebrating his inhabited earth, and my delight was humanity.

So now, sons, listen to me; --and blessed are those who keep my ways. Listen to instruction and become wise; and do not disregard it. Blessed is the person who listens to me, keeping vigil at my doors day by day, observing the doorposts of my doorways; for the one who finds me find life and so obtains favor from the LORD. But the one who misses me harms himself; all who hate me love death."

Lecturer’s Outline – Proverbs 8 - Description Verses Number of Verses


Lecturer’s Outline – Proverbs 8 -  Description


Number of Verses






A. Setting and Addressees of Wisdom’s Speech





B. Wisdom’s Exhortation to Listen with Motivation





Body: Lesson




A. Wisdom’s Communicable Attributes in Historical Time





  1. Wisdom’s Role in Civil Order






  1. Wisdom’s gifts of Material Glory for Her Lovers






B. Wisdom’s Birth and Celebration in Primordial Time





  1. Wisdom’s Genesis Before Creation






  1. Wisdom’s Delight in the Created Order






Conclusion: Final Invitation and Warning



B. Introduction

We are now at lesson 9 and this deals with Proverbs chapter 8. This has been the most controversial chapter in the Book of Proverbs. The chapter had a large impact on the Nicaean Creed. In the creed, you have God of God, begotten of God and light from light. This is the major chapter that defended the Arian viewpoint. (Note that Arius developed the doctrine that Jesus as the Son of God was not of the same substance as the Father but was created as an agent for creating the world.)

It was a dominant viewpoint and that Athanasius won that asserted the deity of Jesus is truly amazing. This controversy over the deity of Jesus was dividing the Constantine Empire and that is why the Emperor called the council to resolve the debate. And for the Arians, their major text was Proverbs 8:22. The Septuagint has in verse 23, ‘He created me.’ The city of Alexandria was the center of the Arian thought. They would shout this verse, created. I would suggest that you hold my outline against my translation. You can see that the chapter falls in a sequence of ten verses and these stanzas are divided into smaller sections of five verses each. It is very symmetrical and I’ve pointed that out because of the patterns associated with Hebrew text and these patterns have meanings. This is very symmetrical perhaps because God is very symmetrical. For example, the Holy of Hollies was 20 cubits by 20 Cubits by 20 cubits. This is saying that everything is orderly, but the world wants everything to be in disorder which is in part, the lack of absolutes.

So we have the introduction in verses 1-10. I think perhaps that these immediate verses could be an interpolation (meaning something is placed into an area from somewhere else) of other Proverbs, that is verse 11. We have the setting and the addresses of wisdom’s speech and then the typical exhortation to listen with motivation. In verse 1, wisdom is a personification of Solomon’s teachings and it wants to be heard. In order to be heard in the streets, those who knew wisdom were to teach it and uphold it in the public place which associates itself with politics somewhat. So, she wants to be heard and it isn’t something just for the church. It is to set the standards for the whole community. She is calling out very prominently. At the highest point along the way at the cross roads she takes a stand at the point when people are making a decision and that is when she wants to be heard so that they make a correct decision, a decision for wisdom and righteousness but not for wickedness and folly at the crossroads, beside the gates at the entry to the city. The cities’ gates have a large entry and exit points where business was carried on. The city I was involved in excavating was Gazer and between the opening of the gate and the exit, there were benches and that is where the elders sat and you would bring your case there to be tried. And in the process of excavating the area, we were down on the Solomon level and we came across cellophane. It had been left there by a German Archaeologist after World War I. In ancient days, they had a lookout rock, a high rock which they called the losers rock and once you arrived there, you would hold up what was found. It was at the highest point so everybody sould see it. So Wisdom is at the highest point where everybody can see her. And she is at the crucial point and at the entrance of the city. She is saying to the uncommitted, ‘make up your mind now before it is too late.

At the gates, there is a going out and a going in and in poetics, you look for scenic depiction. Everything in the Bible is there for a reason and so when you get a scenic depiction like this, you ask yourself, why? For example, when you have the Lady of the Night, twilight, darkness etc. it is very appropriate for her because she has stolen sweet water. Her activities cannot be made public. Remember Judas went out in the night, etc. and at the window of the house. These are scenic depictions through the Bible. So here the scenic depiction is at the entrance, not at the exit. She is appealing to the youth and the uncommitted but the fools can also repent. It is not too late. This completes the first five verses and now we have the exhortation to listen with motivation.

In the next five verses, she says, ‘listen’ for I speak what is right.’ She says that her mouth speaks the truth, for her lips detest wickedness; I have no taste for it. Her words are spoken in righteousness, nothing is deceitful or perverse. I speak clearly and straight forward. She saying now that if you have the right kind of heart, you can discern what she is saying, otherwise you can’t. That often happens, if somebody hates you, they just can’t hear you correctly; they refuse to hear you correctly. In verse 11, we have wisdom being more precious than rubies and we had this in chapter 3.’ We saw this back in chapter 3:14 which says, ‘for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is saying that this is important and I think it is important for this day also. So we see that verse 14 matches 8:10, a scribe must have interpolated this verse from chapter 3. It destroys the symmetry but if I argue that people will not agree as they will not take out a whole verse in the Bible. I just don’t think it was in the original poem.

C. Wisdom’s Communicable Attributes

So the Body of the chapter starts in verse 12. We start off with Wisdom’s communicable attributes in historical time. And then the debated passage of Wisdom’s birth and celebration in primordial time in verses 22-31; for communicable, in theology we make a distinction between non-communicable and communicable. There are certain attributes of God that cannot be shared such as his eternality: his eternal life, his omniscience and his omnipotence. We cannot participate in that; so those are non-communicable attributes. Whereas the communicable attributes are his grace, his love, his truth and his mercy. These are also the attributes of wisdom that we participate in. So of these communicable attributes, we have wisdom’s role in the civil order starting at verse 12. You can see here that all these other synonyms are inseparable. If you have wisdom, you are going to have prudence and the wisdom possesses knowledge and discretion. Fear of the Lord is to hate evil and a perverse mouth, I hate. As a result of that, I have counsel and sound judgment with perfect insight. Kings reign because of me in verse 15 and rulers govern because of me. Within these Proverbs politics should be established and right behavior. Starting at verse 8:17, she talks about material glory for her lovers. Those who seek me will find me. I have riches, honor, enduring wealth and prosperity. So she is saying that her fruit is better than gold and it is far better than choice silver. We have the origin of wisdom and in the early church, they identified wisdom with Christ, they thought Jesus was created. ‘Brought me forth’ is one of the critical words in the debate and it means that wisdom has an origin; she is not eternal it would seem. That is why the King James translates as ‘The Lord possessed me as the first of his works.’ This could however entail her everlastingness.

D. Qanani and the Arian Controversy

The Hebrew word is qanani and it is the key text in the Arian controversy of which there are three interpretations. Note that the NIV committee debated this word for twenty five hours but there wasn’t twenty five hours of information to debate so something else was going on. Out of the seven people, five voted for ‘brought forth’ while two voted for possessed. When the NIV came out, instead of brought forth, it had possessed. What happened? The two who disagreed held a session together and voted in possessed. In 1983 in the five year revision, I brought this up and it was voted out. The Gideon’s in England would not use the NIV because it didn’t have possessed for qanani. People felt that the issue of Christ was at stake here, because if woman wisdom is Christ then Christ may not be eternal. This is the issue with woman issue but it can’t be Christ because it just doesn’t work. And even in the Nicaean Greed, I don’t know what it means when it says, ‘eternally begotten.’ For me, the word ‘begotten’ has a beginning. It is an oxymoron, being eternally begotten, but that is how they got around the problem. Even today, the word man for many means male whereas many wanted it changed to man and female. But for many, man can be used generically.

So this is why translations are often created for the purpose of a target audience. This is inclusive language and some don’t hear it. The reason why this is, woman wisdom has the quality of divine; she is very much like a Christ figure. She laughs at the time of judgement and has all the attributes of God. She is so God like and that is the argument that leads them to that conclusion. Who could this be but God, but you see in my mind, Solomon’s wisdom is the expression of God. I don’t believe that this is part of the trajectory for the trinity either. Even when God says, let us; he is explicitly addressing the heavenly court. A lot of people don’t like this idea either. I’m not convinced that the Spirit of God was covering over the water. That again is a difficult juxtaposition; how do you have spirit covering literally over literal water? That is difficult for me and when he recreates the earth, what happens? It was a wind from God going over the water. The KJV has possessed the ASV and today the ESV. Early fathers and translators changed the Greek to read possessed. This harmonizes with ‘the Lord discovered me’ in chapter 28:27 in where wisdom can be found.

The three fold importance includes a patent of nobility. A pre-existence of Wisdom bestows on her the highest rank, dignity and authority. It assures her absolute knowledge. You have to be Godly to be wise. Woman Wisdom delights in decrees that gave the cosmos enduring structure in verse 29. Now she enables rulers to issue decrees that give society enduring structure in verse 15. It is by wisdom that you can handle everyday things which are to act in conformity with their nature that is the way they were divinely made and ordered. The next word was to create. This better fits the use of qanah in Psalm 139:13, ‘For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.’ The words, ‘knit me together’ don’t fit very well with possessed; create fits the best. The KJV used the French word, reigns here. The NIV uses create here. The Targum and Syriac also have ‘create’ and in all fairness, they aren’t all that different from the Septuagint as they rely heavily on it. Interestingly, a derivative is qinyan which means creatures. The next word in ‘beget’ or brought forth which is in the NIV and NAB. This is the probable meaning of qanah in Genesis 4:1, ‘Adam made love to his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, “With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man.” Later she gave birth to his brother Abel.’ This is with the birth of Cain. But the ancients did not have the Ugaritic texts which date to 1400 BC and gives us a very good insight into the meanings of Hebrew words. The meanings in Ugaritic includes obtain, create and beget, with beget being the most applicable.

For me the context settles the issue. In Proverbs 8:24-25, ‘when there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water. Before the mountains had been shaped, before the hills, I was brought forth.’ I was brought forth’, is hul in Hebrew which means to arrive in childbirth. You always interpret the unclear in light of the clear. So the point here, if you have create then it stands apart from yourself; it doesn’t derive from yourself. But if you beget it, it participates in your very nature, from your very being and I think Solomon’s wisdom emerges from the very being of God. It participates in his nature. Wisdom was there even before Genesis 1:2. ‘I was formed long ages ago, at the very beginning, when the world came to be. When there were no watery depths, I was given birth, when there were no springs overflowing with water; before the mountains were settled in place, before the hills, I was given birth, before he made the world or its fields or any of the dust of the earth. I was there when he set the heavens in place, when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep, when he established the clouds above and fixed securely the fountains of the deep.’ Wisdom was there in the beginning and that why many think that Wisdom was Christ but it says that Wisdom was created, so it can be Christ because Christ was not created. In other words, nothing is older that Solomon’s teachings. It existed before everything.