Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The OTHER Woman

God grants wisdom to those who seek it actively, and His wisdom serves to protect us.

Pro 2:16  To deliver thee from the strange woman, even from the stranger which flattereth with her words;
Pro 2:17  Which forsaketh the guide of her youth, and forgetteth the covenant of her God.
Pro 2:18  For her house inclineth unto death, and her paths unto the dead.
Pro 2:19  None that go unto her return again, neither take they hold of the paths of life.

The wisdom of God is identified as a woman in Proverbs, and then we have this woman.  She is called "strange," "adulteress," and "loose" by various translations in this verse.  She makes several appearances in Proverbs and isn't depicted fondly in any of them. 

She comes back in chapter 5, with lips that drip honey, and advises to stay away from her.  Again in 6, there is more advice to stay away from her.  In chapter 7 we get an entire story about a young man who is seduced by her, and it explains she is everywhere in the city lying in wait.  Immediately after (chapter 8) we have more on Godly wisdom, the first woman, and how she is also everywhere in the city.

Finally in Chapter 9 we see a more direct comparison:
Pro 9:1  Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars:
Pro 9:2  She hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine; she hath also furnished her table.
Pro 9:3  She hath sent forth her maidens: she crieth upon the highest places of the city,
Pro 9:4  Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him,
Pro 9:5  Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled.
Pro 9:6  Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.

Pro 9:13  A foolish woman is clamorous: she is simple, and knoweth nothing.
Pro 9:14  For she sitteth at the door of her house, on a seat in the high places of the city,
Pro 9:15  To call passengers who go right on their ways:
Pro 9:16  Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: and as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him,
Pro 9:17  Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.
Pro 9:18  But he knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell. 

Both women are calling.  Both are easy to find.  Both want the simple to come to them.  One leads to life, and the other leads to death.  I've read that all of these passages can be taken in a variety of ways.  The first is the most literal - the loose woman should be avoided by men because fornication and adultery are evil.  Men should not be having sex prior to marriage and shouldn't be sleeping with other women once they are married.  In this case, this is advice to avoid adultery.

A second option considers the adultery of Israel.  God's people had a tendency to forget Him and His covenant.  They would engage in idolatry and worship other gods.  Remember, it did not take very long for them to go from accepting God to building a golden calf.  This attention deficit disorder would repeat itself over and over again.  The first time "adultery" is used in the context of someone having committed it, as opposed to a general rule against it, occurs in Jeremiah 3:8.

Jer 3:8  And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also. 

God's people play the harlot and the adulterer frequently.  So with that idea in mind, any of these passages could reference the nation as a whole and urge them to turn to God instead of the adulterous ways of idolatary.  In chapter 2 above, leaving God to be with the loose woman would lead the nation into destruction and exile.

A third way I've read it can be interpreted is the idea of worldly wisdom versus Godly wisdom.  If the two women in Proverbs are the opposite of each other and one represents God's wisdom, then the other would be the worldly wisdom that will lead us astray.  This becomes easier to see in later depictions of this woman, as she is seen as very attractive, enticing, and easy to follow.  Her paths lead to death.

These three levels of looking at the two women in Proverbs have fascinated me for awhile.  I have no urge to commit adultery, so the first, obvious, and literal meaning of the passages on the loose woman were always hard for me to get into.  With other ways of looking at it, I find it to be more applicable.

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