Three things are too wonderful for me;
four I do not understand:
the way of an eagle in the sky,
the way of a serpent on a rock,
the way of a ship on the high seas,
and the way of a man with a virgin.
This is the way of an adulteress:
she eats and wipes her mouth
and says, “I have done no wrong.”(30:18-20)*
The first few lines ending with “the way of a man with a virgin” made only limited sense to me, I thought it was positive at first. So I read some online commentary on it.
Some took the last line as meaning a man who engages in fornication and deflowers an innocent virgin (a really big deal in Jewish society), but leaves no visible trace of sin (as the eagle, serpent, and ship leave no trace of their passage). Under this reading, it would show disapproval of fornication, at least with virgins. So, a no-no to playerdom.
Others I read had viewed the line as something more innocent and wonderful. They compared young love and marriage to the natural wonders of the world. In that case, marry young, marry a virgin, it’s wonderful.
Some connected it to the next few lines about the adulteress. Where the original four lines hide their traces, so to does the adulterous. In this case, beware, the virgin who says she’s a virgin may not be, and the women who plays innocent, may not be innocent. These warnings far precede those of the manosphere about women lying about their n-count.
So, next time a women complains about you judging her for her number of sexual partners, tell her it’s in the Bible, Proverbs 13:19-20.
I’m not sure which would be the best reading and can’t verify as I don’t know Hebrew, but they all seem to fit well with the rest of scripture, so they all seem valid. A combination of the first and third interpretation seemed to be the one most used by the older and mroe well-respected sources, so I’d lean to those.
There is also is another warning against adulteresses.
Under three things the earth trembles;
under four it cannot bear up:
a slave when he becomes king,
and a fool when he is filled with food;
an unloved woman when she gets a husband,
and a maidservant when she displaces her mistress. (30:21-23)*
In other translations unloved comes out as bitter, odious, or hated. Avoid bitter and odious women.
Also, avoid those with newly acquired power who might use it pettily. (Does he mean democracy?)
What are you doing, my son? What are you doing, son of my womb?What are you doing, son of my vows?
Do not give your strength to women,
your ways to those who destroy kings.(31:2-3)
A clear warning not to waste yourself on women.
This commentary said it nicely:
Give not thy strength unto women, unto strange women. He must not be soft and effeminate, nor spend that time in a vain conversation with the ladies which should be spent in getting knowledge and despatching business, nor employ that wit (which is the strength of the soul) in courting and complimenting them which he should employ about the affairs of his government.
Having a good woman is excellent, but don’t waste the effort on women who aren’t worth it. Also, have a life beyond women, there are many more important and fruitful things to attend to.
Tomorrow I will publish the fourth and final piece of our current looks at Proverbs. We will be looking at the exciting topic of the Proverbs 31 woman. Don’t miss it.