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chapter.64 Verse 16 introduces the "strange woman" from whom the pupil will be delivered if he heeds the words of the teacher.65 Verses 17-19 describe this woman as one

who forsakes the companion of her youth and forgets the covenant of her God; for her house sinks down to death, and her paths to the shades; none who go to her come back nor do they regain the paths of life. Proverbs 2:17-19

This woman is evidently unfaithful to her marriage. The use of hyhlx (her God) rather than hvhy (Yahweh)

is striking since the latter is characteristic of Proverbs 1-9. Yet, the God in question must be Yahweh who was a witness to the covenant between a man and the wife of his youth.66 Whoever falls prey to this woman is led inevitably to involvement "with her in her estrangement from society. . . . They take a journey to the land of no return."67

64 As McKane, pp. 278-279, notes the adherence of this chapter to the instruction genre is rather loose; there are no imperatives, and it lacks "concrete, authoritive instruc- tion on specific matters." Nevertheless, "the formal structure of the Instruction is the key to the analysis of this chapter."

65 Note the Mx (if) clauses of vv. 1, 3 and 4 on which the zx (then) clauses of vv. 5 and 9 are conditioned.

66 Mal. 2:14; otherwise, the "covenant" may refer to the commandment against adultery (Exod. 20:14; Deut. 5:18) which belonged to Yahweh's covenant with Israel.

67

McKane, p. 288.

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