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allegory. The objection loses force, however, when it is noted that another writer who lived in the same milieu and stood squarely in the mainstream of the wisdom tradition did not follow this exegetical procedure. Sirach's translator

rendered his grandfather's Hebrew hrz hwx ("strange

woman" ) as gunaiki etairizomenon ( "loose woman," Sir. 9:3 ) and as gunaikoj etairoj ("a woman who is a harlot, "

Sir. 41:22).

This should not be surprising for Sirach's grandson was simply following the ancient wisdom tradition's warnings against promiscuous sexual behavior. Such warnings are common in ancient near eastern wisdom literature, especially in the instruction genre, as far back as Ptah-Hotep.86 The "strange woman" in Proverbs 1-9, even chapter 7, is best taken as a heightened presentation of a woman who presents a particularly alluring appeal for the folly of illicit sexual relations. The warning is against adultery with her, not her foreign status nor her cultic affiliation.

Only one mashal seems to refer to the "strange woman."

A deep pit is the mouth of strange women (tvrz)

with whomever Yahweh is angry, he will fall there. Proverbs 22:14

86 See J. Wilson, "The Instruction of the Vizier Ptah- Hotep," Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, by J. Pritchard (2nd ed., Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1955), p. 413.

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