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Barnes' Notes on the Bible
1My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee.
The harlot adulteress of an Eastern city is contrasted with the true feminine ideal of the Wisdom who is to be the "sister" and "kinswoman" Proverbs 7:4 of the young man as he goes on his way through life. See Proverbs 8 in the introduction.
2Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye.
3Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart.
4Say unto wisdom, Thou art my sister; and call understanding thy kinswoman:
5That they may keep thee from the strange woman, from the stranger which flattereth with her words.
6For at the window of my house I looked through my casement,
Casement - The latticed opening of an Eastern house, overlooking the street (compare Judges 5:28).
7And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding,
Simple - In the bad sense of the word (Proverbs 1:22 note); "open" to all impressions of evil, empty-headed and empty-hearted; lounging near the house of ill-repute, not as yet deliberately purposing to sin, but placing himself in the way of it at a time when the pure in heart would seek their home. There is a certain symbolic meaning in the picture of the gathering gloom Proverbs 7:9. Night is falling over the young man's life as the shadows deepen.
8Passing through the street near her corner; and he went the way to her house,
9In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night:
10And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart.
11(She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house:
Loud and stubborn - Both words describe the half-animal signs of a vicious nature. Compare Hosea 4:16.
12Now is she without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner.)
13So she caught him, and kissed him, and with an impudent face said unto him,
14I have peace offerings with me; this day have I payed my vows.
This pretence of a religious feast gives us an insight into some strange features of popular religion under the monarchy of Judah. The harlot uses the technical word Leviticus 3:1 for the "peace-offerings," and makes them the starting-point for her sin. They have to be eaten on the same day that they are offered Leviticus 7:15-16, and she invites her victim to the feast. She who speaks is a "foreigner" who, under a show of conformity to the religion of Israel, still retains her old notions (see Proverbs 2:16 note), and a feast-day to her is nothing but a time of self-indulgence, which she may invite another to share with her. If we assume, as probable, that these harlots of Jerusalem were mainly of Phoenician origin, the connection of their worship with their sin would be but the continuation of their original "cultus."
15Therefore came I forth to meet thee, diligently to seek thy face, and I have found thee.
16I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with carved works, with fine linen of Egypt.
The words point to the art and commerce which flourished under Solomon.
Carved works - Most commentators take the original as meaning "striped coverlets of linen of Egypt."
17I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon.
The love of perfumes is here, as in Isaiah 3:24, a sign of luxurious vice.
Cinnamon - The Hebrew word is identical with the English. The spice imported by the Phoenician traders from the further East, probably from Ceylon, has kept its name through all changes of language.
18Come, let us take our fill of love until the morning: let us solace ourselves with loves.
19For the goodman is not at home, he is gone a long journey:
The reference to the husband is probably a blind. The use of the word "goodman" is due to the wish of the English translators to give a colloquial character to this part of their Version. The Hebrew is merely "the man." A touch of scorn may be noticed in the form of speech: not "my husband," but simply "the man."
20He hath taken a bag of money with him, and will come home at the day appointed.
21With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him.
Fair speech - The Hebrew word is usually translated "doctrine," or "learning" Proverbs 1:5; Proverbs 4:2; Proverbs 9:9; possibly it is used here in keen irony.
22He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks;
As a fool ... - literally, "As a fetter to the correction of a fool," the order of which is inverted in the King James Version The Septuagint, followed by the Syriac Version, has another reading, and interprets the clause: "As a dog, enticed by food, goes to the chain that is to bind him, so does the youth go to the temptress." None of the attempts of commentators to get a meaning out of the present text are in any degree satisfactory.
23Till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life.
The first clause does not connect itself very clearly with the foregoing, and is probably affected by the corrupt text which makes it perplexing.
24Hearken unto me now therefore, O ye children, and attend to the words of my mouth.
25Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths.
26For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her.
The house of the harlot is now likened to a field of battle strewn with the corpses of the many slain.
27Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.