Bible reading guide: MISHLEY / PROVERBS

PROVERBS, MISHLEY, מִשְׁלֵי, reading guide with samples
Rabbi David L Kline

(Roman numerals indicate six divisions, following Michael V Fox in Jewish Study Bible.)
1:1-7            Learn!  Wisdom, understanding, justice, cunning, riddles
 8-19            Fatherly advice, watch out for bad guys
 20-33             Lady Wisdom: Wise up, take my advice

2:1-22            Wisdom will save you from double talking men and smooth talking women

3:1-12            Good faith counts.  Trust God. Don’t be a wise guy.
13-20            Happiness, wealth, peace.  God created with wisdom.
21-26            Prudence, security
27-30            Be a good neighbor
31-35            Don’t admire the violent

4:1-9            Parental advice is Torah, Ki lekach tov. . .
10-19            Avoid the path of the wicked
20-27            Direct your body parts

5:1-14            Keep away from the “strange” woman, ishah zarah
15-20            Enjoy life with your own wife
21-23            Wickedness is self defeating

6:1-19            Do not a borrower be
6-11            Work like an ant, wake up lazybones
12-15            Crooked behavior
16-19            Six plus one bad things, family strife the ultimate
20-23            “Mitsvah is a lamp, Torah a light” Ki ner mitzvah v’torah or
24-35            Adultery destroys, worse than paying a prostitute, stealing

7:1-27            Lady Wisdom versus the seductress (graphic)

8:1-36            The wonders of Wisdom, creation of the world, happiness

9:1-6            Lady Wisdom’s house of  7 pillars, her hospitality
7-12            Only the wise accept correction
13-18            Stolen water is sweet

II              SOLOMONIC PROVERBS (10-16, thesis and antithesis, 17-22 parallelism)
10:2            A bad guy’s treasure is of no use but tsedakah saves from death.                       

11:24            One scatters but adds, another saves righteously but lacks.                                   

12:18            There is speech like a sword thrust, but wise language heals.

13:12            Hope deferred sickens the heart but desire realized is a tree of life.           

14:15            A simpleton believes anything, but a clever one watches his step.

15:17            Better a meal of greens with love than marbled steak with hate.

16:24            Pleasant words are like honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing the bone.           

17:28            A fool who keeps quiet may be thought wise, who seals his lips–discerning.

18:17            The first is right in his argument, till the other comes to examine him.

19:4            Wealth adds many friends, a poor man is separated from his friend.

20:1            Wine is a scoffer, beer is noisy, anyone who reels from it won’t be wise

21:19            Better to live in a desert than with an argumentative and angry woman

22:6            Train a lad in his way and he’ll not turn from it even when he’s old.           

III             Admonitions, adapted from Egyptian “Instruction of Amenope” 22:17-23:11, 24:1-2,11-12   (see provided listing)
23:4            Do not exhaust yourself seeking riches; Have the sense to show some restraint. You cast your eyes at it, and it is gone; For it will sprout wings like an eagle, And fly to the skies.

23:12-28            Parental advice on behavior, women.

23:29-35            Wine bites like a snake.  Alcoholism.

24:21            Fear Yah and a king, my son, and don’t mix with nonconformists.           

IV             From unnamed Chachamim (Sages) 24:23-34
:30-4            I passed by the field of a lazy man. . . overgrown with thorns. . . > quote Prv 6:10f
A bit of sleep, a bit of slumber, a bit of hugging in bed,
            And along comes your poverty and your want, like a man with a shield.

V            25-29 Back to Proverbs of Solomon, comparisons
25:11            Like golden apples in silver settings is a word spoken at the right time.

26:4f            Don’t answer a fool with silliness: you will be comparable to him.
            Answer a fool with silliness, lest he be wise in his own eyes.

27:20            Sheol and Avadon are never sated, nor are human eyes.

28:1            The bad man flees when there is no pursuer, the righteous are secure as a lion.

29:12            A ruler who listens to lies, all his ministers are wicked.

VI             Appendices: Agur, Lemuel, and Eshet Chayil
30:19            Wondrous. . . unknown. . . the way of a lad and a lass.

31:6-9            Give wine for the embittered. . . champion the poor and the needy.

12-31  Eshet Chayil, What a woman!
29            There are many fine women, but you are the best.

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