Ethics and Sanctions in the Proverbs

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Sometimes I feel like a professor. I’ve never written so much on theory, theology, and philosophy! The concepts of ethics and sanctions hardly ever show up in any tenth-grade education, much less a study of Proverbs.

Proverbs 1

Solomon tells his son what wisdom is used for: knowledge, discipline, righteousness, insight, discretion, and obedience. He tells his son not to go about with communistic thieves (is that an oxymoron?) for they bring themselves to ruin. He uses the metaphor of Wisdom as a woman, begging for people to come to her for salvation from poverty and distress.

As we know, ethics has to do with a moral code. In this case, as it is throughout the Proverbs, the moral code is Wisdom (and the Law). The sanctions (consequence) of people refusing to take advantage of the good gift of wisdom, is their imminent destruction.

Proverbs 1:33 “But whoever listens to me [wisdom] dwells safely, and is at ease of dread of evil.”

So the sanctions resulting from the ethical choice of listening to Wisdom is a better life.

Proverbs 2

Solomon tells his son what will happen if he accepts wisdom: He will have knowledge, and will walk in the right ways. If wisdom gives you delight in understanding every good path, then of course you will want to search for it! So seek it like you would for treasure.

The chapter goes on to say that the ‘strange woman’ lurks, and those who fall prey to her fall into death and will be plucked out of the earth, but that the righteous will remain. So DON’T go to the strange woman.

What does it mean to walk in the ‘ways of goodness’, or ‘paths of righteousness’? Yeshua was the Way. He was the Truth, the Life, and, as said in the book of John, the Word. If the Law is the Word of Yah, and the Word is the Way, then the Law is the Way -(the way to life). So, the right path is the law – walk in it, no going back, no turning around.

Proverbs 3

The commands are directly tied to wisdom and positive sanctions, such as long life and full storehouses. Solomon advises his son not to cause trouble when he could do good to others. The theme is what good things wisdom will bring you, and what you will forfeit if you do not get wisdom.

Proverbs 4

Classic parent-to-child-advice – Child, listen to me! The overriding theme here is to not let go of wisdom, because there are negative sanctions for those who are crooked. Guard the wisdom you have – protect it – don’t lose it – don’t compromise.

Proverbs 5

Rules are there for a reason. Even though most of us wouldn’t say we agree with everything our parents believe, their advice is useful and their wisdom valuable. (Unless your parents aren’t very wise!)

But for many of those young people with parents giving them sound wisdom, many choose to disregard it, and the chapter talks about how you will greatly repent if you set off along the crooked path, lamenting that you did not heed your parents’ advice.

The second half of the chapter focuses on staying with the wife of your youth, and staying AWAY from the strange woman. (For me, as a single girl, I choose to implement this principle by being moral and by preparing myself to stay faithful to my husband if I do marry.)

Proverbs 6

This chapter covers a few topics in detail …

1. Do not sign an agreement with or for someone you don’t know well enough to trust, or you may find yourself snared as by a trapper.

2. Work hard, because, if you’re lazy, you will not have any wealth and poverty is close to you.

3. The seven matters which Yahweh hates.

4. Listen to your parents’ teaching, for it will keep you away from the immoral person.

5. And lastly, do not commit adultery. You risk death.

The end of Proverbs 6 prepares us for the important principle in the next chapter …

Proverbs 7 – The immoral woman

In verse 1 through to verse 6, Solomon reiterates the importance of listening to your parents’ teachings, treasuring them and the Torah as close friends.

I know of no other example of what a woman should NOT be that has been so widely quoted as Proverbs 7. Beginning at verse 6, Solomon tells of how he beheld a woman enticing a young man to commit adultery with her. In plain language, she tells of how she has made her sacrifices and her husband is gone. She has dressed herself alluringly, has hung her bedroom with all kind of frippery, all for that simple youth, who follows her blindly like a lamb to the slaughter.

One who follows the adulteress will be ensnared. You will never be the same again. It is sin and Yah hates it, and it will bring you to destruction. (I’m looking at you too, ladies. Don’t be an adulteress or fall prey to the world.)

In Conclusion …

 I think chapters one to seven in the book of proverbs can be summarized in a few important points:

  • Do not walk in the paths of the immoral man/woman/girl/boy/person.
  • Work hard and learn lots!
  • Do not forget the Law! Keep it close to you always.
  • Listen to your parents. They have useful knowledge and teaching.
  • Seek wisdom (from your parents, family, older friends, older men, older women, anyone who has wisdom!)
  • Follow this blog (Just kidding!)

Thanks for reading!



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