We have not said much about Proverbs in our FRESH READ project. We find the relatively accessible commentary by Duane Garrett (New American Commentary, vol 14) to be helpful in the dizzying mass of proverbs that start in chapter 10 and go mostly at what seems to be random. Garrett has listed a number of ways that these proverbs are clustered in a variety of groupings. some of these are lost in translation to English and some are easy to see. Here are some of these clusters.
- Parallel collection (abab form) eg. 10:27-30 – these proverbs are similar in content and form
- Chiastic collection (abba form) 12:19-22; 14:8-15 – these proverbs link the first and last lines, next to first and next to last, and so on. the middle proverbs may be the point of the collection.
- Catchword collection – where the proverbs share a catchword (in Hebrew). 15:15-17
- Thematic collection – proverbs sharing a theme. 10:31-32
- Inclusio collection – the first and last proverbs are similar or contain common catch words. 11:23-27
We find in this particular case that a commentary that suggests such structures is very helpful for those who are not Hebrew Scholars.
In the case of Proverbs 14
- v. 4 is a single bi-colon (two part) proverb
- v. 8-25 is a Chiasmus where vs. 8,15; 9,14; 10,13; 11,12 are linked
- v. 16-17 according to Garrett’s reading is a chiasm 16a17b; 16b,17a
- v. 18-24 features an inclusio (v18,19,24) and a structure involving doubled proverbs
Now for fun
Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean,
but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.
Well then, it seems that oxen are messy, but then you don’t get much farming done without one. so this is a rather amusing way to say: it takes money to make money, or no pain – no gain.