Friday, April 19, 2013

Deromanticizing Adultery

*These notes go with my post on Marriage as God's Holy Covenant

Derek Kidner On The Adulterous Woman, Proverbs 7:

            She is called at one point an evil woman (6:24), but most often a stranger or outsider (using the virtually synonymous Hebrew terms zara or nokiyya) – yet her foreignness does not have to be literal. The point is that she has put herself outside the loyalties and structures of society and the laws of God, and owes her disruptiveness and much of her fascination to that intriguing fact.

            The portraiture is lively. Her talk drips with charm and plausibility (5:3), and she knows how to sweep a fool of his feet with a mixture of impudence and flattery, enticement and reassurance, as we learn in the compelling little drama of 7:10-21. Behind this fa├žade, and revealed in these chapters with shocking suddenness, she emerges as a character riddled with contradictions. On the one hand she has the slipperiness of the quitter and the inveterate improviser- a creature who walks out on her sworn promises to God and man (2:17), and has not a serious thought in her head (‘her course turns this way and that, and what does she care?’ 5:6 NEB)- while on the other hand towards her quarry she has the steely cunning and persistence of the predator (5:4; 7:10-12)…Their unchastity is seen for what it is, stripped of its romantic colouring and traced to its bitter end.

            In a different vein, using metaphor more sparingly, the teacher speaks in 5:7-14 of the dignity that a man surrenders by loose living; of perhaps the bondage of blackmail; of his scattered and haphazard brood which should have been a close knit family; of venereal disease; of vain regrets; of well nigh irretrievable disgrace. And if the risks of any philanderer are high, those of the adulterer may be literally deadly. ‘An adulteress stalks a man’s very life (6:26), for there is no length to which jealousy and wounded pride may not drive a man (6:32-35). 

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