I will now allure her.
I will bring her
Into the wilderness.
I will speak tenderly
I will give her
I will make
The Valley of Achor
A door of hope.
There she shall respond
As in the days
Of her youth,
As at the time.
When she came out
Of the land of Egypt.’”
Now Yahweh was going to lure her back into the wilderness. He was going to speak tenderly to her. Her vineyards would be returned. The Valley of Achor, near Jericho, would be a door of hope for her, instead of a place of sin. Then Israel would respond, as in the days of her youth in the wilderness, after she left Egypt.
“Who has woe?
Who has sorrow?
Who has strife?
Who has complaining?
Who has wounds without cause?
Who has redness of eyes?
The answer is
Those who linger late over wine,
Those who keep trying mixed wine.
Do not look at wine when it is red.
Do not look at it when it sparkles in the cup.
Do not look at it when it goes down smoothly.
At the last it bites like a serpent.
It stings like an adder.
Your eyes will see strange things.
Your mind will utter perverse things.
You will be like
One who lies down in the midst of the sea.
You will be like
One who lies on the top of a mast.
You will say.
‘They struck me.
But I was not hurt.
They beat me.
But I did not feel it.
When shall I awake?
I will seek another drink.’”
This is a stinging rebuke against drunkenness. What are some of the characteristics of a drunkard or an alcoholic? They are full of woe and sorrow. They are always in arguments complaining. They have wounds on their body that they do not know where they came from. Of course, they have redness in their eyes. There is a lure to excessive wine drinking. They stay up late drinking and talking. This red wine sparkles in the cup and goes down so smoothly. However, this wine has a bite like a snake or viper adder. That is when you hallucinate. You see strange things and image even stranger things. You think that you are in the middle of the sea or at the top of a ship’s mast. You complain that you got hit, but it didn’t hurt. People beat you, but you do not feel it. All you think about when you wake up is when I will get my next drink. These are the true symptoms of an alcoholic. You need to get help.
“A prostitute is a deep pit.
An adulteress is a narrow well.
She lies in wait like a robber.
She increases the number of the faithless.”
Once again there is a warning about prostitutes and adulteress women who are trying to lure young men. They are like a deep pit or a narrow well. They will rob you since they lay in wait for you. These evil women are the cause of the increase in the number of the faithless. It is never the fault of the men, only the women. There are no admonitions to young women about males attempting to rape them. Perhaps they were more protected in this society.
“You will be saved from the loose woman.
You will be saved from the adulteress
With her smooth words.
She has forsaken the partner of her youth.
She has forgotten the covenant of her God.
Her house or way sinks down to death.
Her paths lead to the shades.
Those who go to her
Never come back.
They never regain the paths of life.”
The loose or strange woman was always a problem for young men. Notice this is specifically for young men, since there is no equivalent advice for young women to watch out for males who might want to commit adultery. This is an adulterous woman who uses smooth words to lure young men. Interestingly enough, the emphasis is on the wickedness of the woman, since the assumption was that the good young men would have to be led astray. She has forsaken the partner or companion of her youth for another young man. Actually that is what middle aged men do, not middle aged women. She has forgotten her covenant with God. She and her house would lead to death, as she lives in the shadows of life, not in the bright sunlight. Now came the big warning. Those who went to her would never return. Their whole life would be ruined. They would never regain the path of life. This was a strong warning to be aware of smooth talking middle aged women.