Home » On Proverbs » The Story of the Crafty Woman and Simple Man (Part One) – On Proverbs 7:6-20

The Story of the Crafty Woman and Simple Man (Part One) – On Proverbs 7:6-20

When you were younger did you like to listen to stories from your dad or mum? I fondly remember hearing silly stories from Dad at bedtime, and they were captivating. Stories help focus our minds, and that is why there are so many children’s books full of them. There is drama, suspense, and a build up and climax or two! A good story leaves us satisfied and thoughtful. Much of chapter seven is a narration of the interaction between a simple young man and a crafty adulterous. Some of you might be incredulously saying, “What?! More about sexual immorality?”

Why is there so much talk in Proverbs about adultery? Well that’s a good question and one  of the many reasons to study Proverbs even more deeply than I am in my posts. Suffice for my post to say, adultery is a sin that affects everyone involved very deeply, including the Holy Spirit (if there are believers acting sinfully), and so it is an important issue to deal with.

Now lets read the story of these two characters.

The Simple Youth. 

 

 

6 For at the window of my house I looked through my lattice, 7 and saw among the simple, I perceived among the youths, a young man devoid of understanding, 8 passing along the street near her corner; and he took the path to her house 9 in the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night.

The Crafty Woman.

10 And there a woman met him, with the attire of a harlot, and a crafty heart. 11 She was loud and rebellious, her feet would not stay at home. 12 At times she was outside, at times in the open square, lurking at every corner.

Her Tasty Seduction.

 

13 So she caught him and kissed him; with an 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, diligently to seek your face, and I  have found you. 16 I have spread my bed with tapestry, coloured coverings of Egyptian linen. 17 I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. 18 Come, let us take our fill of love until morning; let us 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 will come home on the appointed day.”

There is more in this story to come, but we will pause the story and reflect on what has passed here. I will finish the story in Part 2.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Solomon is the storyteller, and includes a mention of himself as the onlooker from above. He points out a youth who is without understanding. While angry youths may be the scary ones, a clueless man is a wrecking ball of all kinds of destruction! This youth is out at night for no good reason, and is passing by the woman’s house. We are not told if he is seeking her, but it’s clear he is asking for trouble! (See 8 and 9.) It’s indicated he knows who she is and is tempted by the opportunity.

  

The woman enters the scene and much more is said about her. (See 10-12.)

 

 

Immediately we smell trouble, as she is dressed up in the clothes one would associate with a p rostitute and is said to have a crafty heart. The woman is a schemer and dresses up to attract attention from certain men who would desire her. She cannot sit still at home with her rebellious scheming and is out about in the city looking for men to seduce. She has a rehearsed script all ready for this simple man but hardly needs to use it. Easy prey, one might say.

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This woman is described as an opportunity seeker and doesn’t hesitate to catch hold of him. Breaking boundaries that should well be left unbroken, she flirts outrageously with the man by grabbing and kissing him (vs. 13). That would be a truly shocking display of rebellion in that culture, but perhaps even nowadays we would be uncomfortable with such a display by a stranger.

She attempts to sooth his anxiety of this sin by saying she had gone to the temple that day and is all clear with God(!)

This woman is impudent in her actions and doesn’t care she is sinning with her actions.

 

She makes what is a horrific sin sound like paradise in verses 15-18. When she should have her bed prepared for her husband, she is doing it for a complete stranger. Such a betrayal. As we see in in verses 19 and 20 she executed her plans with him out of the picture. She twists this to her advantage as a further tempting factor for the young simpleton.

By now she has him well and truly in her grasps. A wise man would have fled on the first sign of temptation. He most obviously stays and hears out all her words of silver. Such a fool.

 

What is happening here? An Israelite woman is betraying her husband by seducing a foolish Israelite man. This is such an offensive image to imagine. God is not being honoured in any way here. Not a silly story at all. Not even a bedtime story in any way. It’s a story that is compelling and repulsive at the same time. There is more to come. Stick around. Move on to Part 2.

—————-

 

Your turn: What is your impression about this woman? This man? Am I fair in my assessment?

Note: All scripture is taken from Biblestudytools.com and is the New King James Version. I am using a commentary by John Kitchen for help with difficult concepts and words.

3 thoughts on “The Story of the Crafty Woman and Simple Man (Part One) – On Proverbs 7:6-20

  1. Hi there. I think you are somewhat on the right track. However, this Proverbs’ ‘strange’ or ‘foreign’ or ‘estranged’ woman (translated adulterous woman/adulteress/the adulteress sometimes) is likely a married prostitute, estranged from/to her husband, yet still living in the same house with him (Prov 2:17, 5:9:10, 7:8-12, 27, possibly 9:13,17-18). If she’s not that, she’s like a ‘serial adulteress’. Prov 6:24-26 is evidence she is flattering and might be a prostitute due to the mention of her beauty and seductive eyelids. The words
    ‘give’, ‘honour’, ‘years’, ‘wealth’ and ‘labours’ in Prov 5:9-10 sound like they are about a prostitute.

    The two main terms for this ‘strange’ or ‘foreign’ or ‘estranged’ woman in Hebrew Proverbs are zarah/ishah zarah (can mean estranged wife, who can have sex with many men), and nokariyah (can mean foreign woman, and a foreign woman in ancient Israel was likely often a prostitute).

    Prov 7:5,8,10,12,16 (foreign aspect, ‘Egypt’),19,25-27 are the best verses showing what she is about. Prov 2:19 (Hebrew/’LXX’: ‘all’/’not’), ‘they’, 7:26 (‘many’, ‘many’), possibly 9:18 (‘the dead’, ‘her guests’) and possibly 6:26 in the ‘LXX’ (plural word: lives/souls) are evidences she has many victims/partners/lovers. She is likely married, Prov 2:17, 5:9-10, 6:26,29,32-35, 7:19, 9:17 are evidences of this. (‘stolen water is sweet’ likely refers to adultery. A wife’s sexuality is referred to as water in Prov 5:15. Bread of secrets or ‘hidden bread is pleasant’ can also refer to adultery, as Potiphar’s wife may be referred to as ‘the bread’ Potiphar knew, while he gave everything else into the hand of Joseph, Gen 39:6). This ‘strange’ or
    ‘foreign’ or ‘estranged’ woman in Proverbs apparently isn’t directly called a prostitute because the professional or unmarried prostitute is mentioned in Prov 6:26, 7:10, 23:27 (first part), 29:3 (plural), and this ‘foreign woman’ apparently has a foreign aspect (Prov 7:16) and is likely married, and is likely a married prostitute or serial adulteress in simple terms. I’d call her an estranged wife prostitute.

    This ‘strange’ or ‘estranged’ or ‘foreign’ woman in Proverbs is likely a married prostitute, in simple terms. In more complex terms, I’d call her an estranged wife prostitute. Less likely, she is a ‘serial adulteress’. Prov 7:5,8,10-12,16 (foreign aspect, ‘Egypt),19 (likely married, ‘the man’ is likely a term of belittlement, similar to Potiphar’s wife calling her husband ‘he’ in Gen 39:14, with no introduction or respect shown; or it is a term for
    vagueness),25-27 are the best verses showing what this Proverbs ‘strange’ woman is about. What is one to make of the words ‘And the adulteress will hunt for the precious life’ (plural in the ‘LXX’) in Prov 6:26? Likely this ‘strange woman’ in Proverbs is, at least, committing adultery on a regular basis, with many men. She may be hunting for the precious life/lives as in for it or them, as in hunting for wealth or hunting for men to commit adultery with.
    What this verse really means is disputed, but it is evidence that this ‘strange woman’ in Proverbs commits adultery, and in ancient Israel that meant she was married, as it was not adultery for an unmarried woman to have sex with a married man.

    She is likely a serial adulteress or a serial adulterous prostitute, in simple, yet basically sufficient terms. This video mentions her being a ‘giant adulteress’, but the picture (3:30-3:33) looks like an adulterous prostitute, doesn’t it?

    That is likely who she is in Proverbs.

    She may be an ‘estranged’ wife/woman from her husband, and who has sex with many men. One of the main terms for her in Hebrew Proverbs, zarah/ishah zarah can have an ‘estranged’ meaning to it. http://biblehub.com/aramaic-plain-english/proverbs/7.htm

    These pastor links used to work, a couple no longer do because the pastor’s website no longer exists or has changed.

    The pastor I agree with probably the most is this one here, by the name of M. Sean Reynolds, where he says:

    Therefore, the “foreign woman” in Proverbs is a seductive adulteress, who is also sometimes a prostitute.

    http://www.thewholecounsel.com/proverbs-2214/

    Pastor/priest/Bible scholar George Leo Haydock’s Catholic commentary (mid 19th century) lists a married ‘abandoned woman’ (prostitute) as a preferred definition of who she is, citing Antoine Augustin Calmet (a French Benedictine monk of the 17th and 18th centuries who wrote commentaries on the Bible)

    http://haydock1859.tripod.com/id1096.html

    Here is pastor Bob Yandian who identifies her as a prostitute and claims a verse in Prov 9 shows what she’s really like, and implies her serial adulterous side with the words ‘He is stealing waters that rightfully belong to another man’, and with ‘This woman has a long list of successes and they are all lying flat on their backs in the coffin.’

    http://www.bobyandian.com/the-strange-woman/

    Here is pastor Larry Wood who thinks she is at least some type of prostitute.

    http://www.biblenews1.com/babylon/babylon3.html

    ‘For the prostitute is a deep pit,
    And the foreign prostitute is a narrow well. (Proverbs 23:27)’

    Here is pastor Darrell Mitchell

    http://www.netbiblestudy.com/00_cartimages/Proverbs.pdf

    Chapter 5 is an exhortation to get acquaintance with and submit to the laws of
    wisdom. Verses 3-4 give a particular caution against these heathen temple prostitutes
    and remedies are prescribed against that sin.

    the primary scope of this chapter is to relate the symbol of the
    adulterous woman of idolatry, that tend to degrade men’s minds and manners –- these
    temple harlots certainly apply!

    Here are some videos which I believe are along the lines of who I think she is:

    • Great thoughts! When I sat down to write on Proverbs, I didn’t intend to bring out every truth or connection in the passage, just to simply ask what it saying and how we might apply it’s truth to our lives. Your answer is deep and thoughtful, and I appreciate it. I apologize I haven’t responded in so long. I haven’t been blogging at all for a while now. Cheers.

      • No problem. I am sorry if I seemed too critical. ‘Strange woman’/immoral woman/foreign woman/estranged woman/’the adulteress’/’adulterous woman’/’promiscuous woman’/’seductress’/etc (it is translated in many ways, while the Hebrew has strange/estranged/foreign woman; similar case with the LXX and Vulgate, etc) in Proverbs is a ‘pet peeve’ of mine. I have studied her for many months in various languages and Bibles. I do believe you were on the right track though, I was trying to help ‘flesh out’ your knowledge. Thanks for not being offended and the compliment.

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