Proverbs - Lesson 15

Wicked Woman (Part 3/3)

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

Bruce Waltke
Lesson 15
Watching Now
Wicked Woman (Part 3/3)

I. Lesson 9 of the Parents to the Son - Continued

A. Review

B. Darkness and Evil are Bound Up

II. Lesson 10 of the Parents to the Son – Proverbs 9

A. Translation

B. Structure and Exegesis

C. A Janus

D. The Mocker

  • 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. Lesson 9 of the Parents to the Son - Continued

A. Review

the Diptych of Chapters 7 and 8: We are on page three of the outline dealing with lesson nine of the parents to the son. This is the part of the second address by Woman Wisdom. We have concluded the parental lessons or lectures in the home with the three dealing with the wayward wife. Now, we have Woman Wisdom addressing the non-committed at the gate and now balancing that at the end in chapter 8, we have Woman Wisdom at the gate again addressing not only the non-committed but the masses of people in general. In a way Proverbs 7 and 8 is a diptych, two different pictures hinged together that are related and we see the woman of the night in chapter 7, it is night, it is secretive and it is not in the open but by contrast Woman Wisdom is at the gate of the city having nothing to hide, nothing to be ashamed of and no hypocrisy, speaking clearly and openly because she speaks truthfully. This is a striking contrast between two characters with a scenic depiction between the darkness of night verses the openness at the gate where everyone can see. We covered the setting and addresses and wisdom’s exhortation to listen with motivation and then the main lesson.

We talked about her communicable attributes within historical time and her role in the civil order of government giving gifts of honor. So there is every reason to love this woman and reject the woman of the night. And then she deals with her origins, with her genesis. Her wisdom is before creation and we read in verses 22-26 that she originates from the very heart of God. Solomon’s teachings are words expressing his heart and they have a divinity about them. They are totally consistent with whom God is and come from his very being and therefore reflect his glory and person. After that we got off on the word qanani which is to possess or create or as the other verbs clearly says, ‘brought forth – begotten’ from his very nature. And that 23-26 and the next five verses she tells us about the joy of life or her delight in the created order in verses 27-31.’ 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, when he gave the sea its boundary so the waters would not overstep his command, and when he marked out the foundations of the earth. Then I was constantly at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence, rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in mankind.’ The sea in the Old Testament symbolizes chaos, sterility, hostility and undesirable. It is a mystery, it is the abyss and the Bible tells us that it is restrained, restricted and limited. So we have this chaos on the one hand but a chaos that is bound and restricted. It cannot go beyond his commands, but he doesn’t eliminate it. This is the language of Job speaking.

B. Darkness and Evil are Bound Up

Job is trying to understand evil, this chaos and the answer God gives is God is there and knows everything but God said to the darkness of the night, there will be a morning. He bounds it. In the original creation, there was all darkness and there was a separation between that and light, but he didn’t eliminate the darkness where wickedness can dwell and the wayward woman can dwell. In the New Heaven and the New Earth in Revelation, there will not be any darkness. So there are three stages: darkness, bounded darkness and no darkness where evil is eliminated entirely. So we are living in the between time were we still have darkness and the sea, but it is all restricted and bounded. Why it’s there is a mystery. However, it enables us to live by faith in the mist of it, but he doesn’t eliminate it; evil is always limited and restricted. Disaster is always bounded and therefore you have reason to trust God in faith. I can see the necessity or reason so that we might be perfected in grace and faith and endurance. Note that a student asked, ‘having no night and no sea is it metaphorical? I don’t really understand the eternal state, the lecturer answers. I just can’t enter into that world; but all that is damaging to life will be gone. It will be a perfect state. I don’t change the metaphors of the Bible because once you start this, then different images appear. So I will stay with that metaphor, whether it is literal or not, it isn’t that important to me. He sets the sea limits and the waters can’t go beyond his command. Again, this is the language of Job.

Verse 29b reads, ‘and when he marked out the foundations of the earth. Then I was constantly beside him.’ Here we have another highly debated word in translation. ‘Or I was constantly at his side.’ This ‘constantly’ is awmone in Hebrew. Here, Woman Wisdom is the agent or craftsman, not the Lord’s instrument, who created the cosmos. This is used in the ASV, ESV, NET, NIV, and NRSV. The problem becomes that Woman Wisdom is the one who is making, she is the craftsman. Only God is the creator and wisdom is an instrument he uses, it is an agent which he uses, but wisdom did not create anything. Solomon’s teachings did not create, but the wisdom found in Proverbs was used by God to make the creation. Arguments for this are used in Jeremiah 52:15 and the argument is circular here. In 2nd Kings 25:11 it is multitude or hehamon in Hebrew and kol-heharash in 2nd Kings 24:14, 16 is all the craftsmen. Others think that it means, ‘a little child or a nursling.’ This was said by the rabbis, Kayatz, Menhold and then there is constantly and the root is understood by Symmachus and Theodotion in the Targum and I argued this in the development of the NIV. So the word ‘constantly’ fits so perfectly within the verse with day after day, all the time. The point is, she was there and saw the whole creation. Wisdom is before everything and she observed the creation of everything; she knows it comprehensively and perfectly. But why is she arguing that she existed before everything else. She was brought forth before everything and observed the entire creation and knows the whole creation. There is a pre-existence of wisdom which has a patent of nobility. You have the right to be an aristocrat. In Egypt to be an accredited god, you have to exist before the creation. This document is the accreditation that I am nobility. She has the comprehensive knowledge that assures her absolute knowledge. The laws that God gives is consistently with the nature of it and when you go against creation, it just doesn’t work. So the laws conform to the created order.

We now we come to the final invitation and warning in verses 32-36. ‘Now then, my children listen to me; blessed are those who keep my ways. Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not disregard it. Blessed are those who listen to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway. For those who find me find life and receive favor from the Lord. But those who fail to find me harm themselves; all who hate me love death.’ So the father appeals to the son in the home to listen to his teaching and woman wisdom is at the city gate appealing to the masses to listen to the teachings of Solomon. This chapter in Proverbs is profoundly theological.

II. Lesson 10 of the Parents to the Son – Proverbs 9

A. Translation

Wisdom has built her house; she has set up its seven pillars. She has slaughtered her animals and mixed her wine; and she has set her table. She has sent out her servant girls; she calls out from the highest point of the city, let all who are simple turn aside here! To those who have no sense she says, come, dine on my food and drink the wine I have mixed. Leave your ways, you simpletons, and you will live; and proceed on the way of insight. Whoever corrects a mocker gets insults; whoever rebukes a wicked person gets hurt. Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you; rebuke a wise person and he will love you. Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still; teach the righteous and he will add to his learning. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is insight. For through wisdom your days will be many, and years will be added to your life. If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you; if you are a mocker, you alone will incur guilt. Folly is an unruly woman; she is simple and knows nothing. She sits at the door of her house, on a throne at the highest point of the city, calling out to those who pass by, who go straight on their way; let all who are simple turn aside here! To those who have no sense she says stolen water is sweet; food eaten in secret is delicious! But little does he know that the dead are there, that her guests are deep in the realm of the dead.

B. Structure and Exegesis

At the beginning of the outline you have wisdom’s banquet and at the end you have folly’s banquet. They are both six verses and in the middle we have six verses in which the poet supplements her invitation of why she didn’t invite mockers. I think that is the reason for it. To a certain extent, they are arranged by association and it invites you to think about the connection is to all of this. But she does not invite the mockers and warns you not to invite them either. She has invited the simpletons particularly because the wise have already gained in knowledge.


Lecturer’s Outline – Proverbs 9 -  Description  -




Wisdom’s Banquet




A. Preparation for the meal





B. Invitation to the meal





Poet’s Supplement to Invitations




A. Result to sage for correcting mocker





B. Janus: Beginning and Gain of Wisdom





C. Result to self for being wise or mocker




Folly’s Banquet




A Pretentious Hostess





B. Invitation to Meal




So you have the preparation and then the invitation but all who are simple turn aside. You have an alternating structure where in Folly’s Banquet she is only a pretentious hostess. That is her way and her invitation is a way to the deep realm of the dead. There is an obvious parallelism between the two with the preparation of the meal. This is alternating parallelism.

Wisdom has set up its seven pillars. Now in the ancient world, you had at best a house with four pillars but seven pillars is an extremely large house. The point is that she can accommodate everybody because seven symbolizes perfection. This is a perfect house and everybody can come. The meat has been set alongside the wine, so she has prepared her table. So Solomon has built the house that can accommodate everybody. I think the prologue functions as the house. It’s built and the meal is the proverbs that will follow. This is what you are to eat and enjoy and dine upon. And she has arranged all the proverbs so you can feed upon them. Those servants could be the parents but there are others who are inviting people to come and learn the proverbs. To a certain extent we could think of ourselves as servants calling people to enjoy this meal. She doesn’t say who they are. So she sends us out and she is from the highest point of the city. When she gave her address she was at the highest point. It is to be heard by everybody. The invitation is to her house is actually the Book of Proverbs; come eat and drink of the teachings that I give. They have to turn aside and enter into this material. The next part is a bit unusual between these two addresses. We have the results of the sage for correcting a mocker, but she doesn’t engage the mocker, but instead she says the wise will love you for your correction. Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still. Teach the righteous and they will add to their learning. The center line is the key to the book: the beginning and gain of wisdom in verse 10. The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and the knowledge of the Holy One, there is understanding. We had it at the beginning of the book and now we have it again at the end of the book. This summarizes the teaching that the wise will embrace.

Then he discusses the results to self, of the wise and of the mocker. ‘For through wisdom your days will be many, and years will be added to your life. If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you; if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer.’ She is trying to be gracious to the fool; she is not bothered with the mocker, they have no self-respect. But for Folly, ‘she is a pretentious woman; she is simple and knows nothing. She sits at the door of her house, on a seat at the highest point of the city, calling out to those who pass by, who go straight on their way.’ She elevates herself but prepares nothing and gives no sound teaching. ‘Let all who are simple come to my house! To those who have no sense, she says, stolen water is sweet; food eaten in secret is delicious!’ They don’t realize that the dead are there and her guests are deep in the realm of the dead.’

C. A Janus

There is a Janus (this is a discipline of poetics on how ancient writers composed their material. Here it is a technical word for transition. Originally a Roman god with two faces, one looked ahead and one looked behind. He finds the expression in the mouth of January. So the Janus here is looking back to the prologue and then ahead at the meal which is chapter 10.) So the Janus is between the prologue and collection II. We are now just finishing up Collection I which has consisted of ten lessons of the parents to the son. It is a life and death conflict between the Wisdom of chapter 8 and the unchaste wife of chapters 5, 6, and 7. This is united Chiastically into one lecture. So chapters 7 and 8 are antithetically connected. In 7 you had the adulterous and in 8 you have Woman Wisdom and in 9 you have Woman Wisdom and then you have personified evil of Woman Folly. This antithesis prepares us for the antithetical (means being in direct and unequivocal opposition) proverbs of chapter 10. The first proverb matches the antithesis of the Preamble which is of a wise son who brings joy to his father, but a foolish son brings grief to his mother. And at the end of chapter 8 the sons were waiting for Wisdom to open the door (8:34) and Wisdom opens it wide to include the simpletons. The house that is finished is the prologue and the meal that you are about to eat are the proverbs that are about to begin.

D. The Mocker

What about the mocker? There are four kinds of soil; some is hard while some is shallow, etc. These are people of course. So you know how to minister and you are not surprised when you run into these different kinds of people. The same goes for Proverbs, there are different personality types and you will meet basically four different types of people: the wise who have a disposition; they will readily learn and they want to be rebuked. I usually teach the wise, never the mockers or fools. One time I taught a class that had non-Christians amongst the students. Afterwards, I came away absolutely exhausted. This happened every day. And I said to the professor there that I have never lectured where I had been so tired by the end of the day. He replied, ‘you are in spiritual warfare.’ He continued, ‘a number of those students are rejecting what you are saying.’ And I could immediately see this. One such antidote with one of the girl students said that she wasn’t going to give up on her sex and her drugs. There was a war. She was a fool. So you have the wise and the uncommitted and then you have people that love to be uncommitted, the typical teenager at an early age and then you have those who despise it. They reject it and trample is under foot, and if you rebuke them, they will hit right back at you. And the mocker is the worst sort; he says I’m okay, you are not okay. He is at the final stage; he looks down on you. You can’t reach these kinds of people; they believe they are god. There are two words for the fool in Hebrew, a stupid fellow and a foolish fellow. But it would be foolish to try to turn what can’t be turned. It is foolish to try to reach the mocker.