Proverbs 14 – with help from Garrett

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

Proverbs 14:4
    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.


This is Personal!

I have been reading N. T. Wright who makes the case that we have read the biblical story too individualistically.  He says, to make a very great oversimplificaiton, that there needs to be more “we” in our thinking.

Then I discovered this passage:

Deut. 29:19, 21
    one who, when he hears the words of this sworn covenant, blesses himself in his heart, saying, ‘I shall be safe, though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart.’ This will lead to the sweeping away of moist and dry alike….    And the Lord will single him out from all the tribes of Israel for calamity, in accordance with all the curses of the covenant written in this Book of the Law.

    The “we” is in this section in which Moses presents a challenge to the second generation to accept the Covenant.  It is about a nation, not one individual.  Yet, in the midst of the nation, is each individual member.  The man who stands in the crowd, looks to be just like the rest, but who has a heart of unbelief, will be discovered by the Lord.

    In swinging the pendulum back, we don’t want to go too far.

Fresh Read