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.)
I PARENTAL ADVICE
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.