The weakness of the Egyptian wise sages (Isa 19:11-19:15)

“The princes of Zoan

Are utterly foolish.

The wise counselors of Pharaoh

Give stupid counsel.

How can you say to Pharaoh?

‘I am one of the sages.

I am a descendant of the ancient kings.’

Where now are your sages?

Let them tell you!

Let them make known!

What has Yahweh of hosts

Planned against Egypt?

The princes of Zoan

Have become fools.

The princes of Memphis

Are deluded.

Those who are the cornerstones

Of its tribes

Have led Egypt astray.

Yahweh has poured into them

A spirit of confusion.

They have made Egypt

Stagger in all its doings.

They are as a drunken man

Staggers around in vomit.

Neither head nor tail,

Palm branch or reed,

Will be able to do

Something for Egypt.”

Now Isaiah attacks the wise sages of Egypt since he calls them stupid. Isaiah mentions the capital cities of Egypt, Zoan in the north and Memphis in the south. The princes and the wise men in these places were giving stupid advice. These wise sages had no idea what Yahweh was planning for them since they were like deluded fools. They were supposed to be the cornerstones of their tribes, but they were really in confusion. In colorful language, Isaiah says that they were like drunkards staggering around in their own vomit. Nobody could do anything for Egypt, head, tail, palm branch, or reed. The rulers were the head and palm trees, while the tail and the reed represented the ordinary people. They were all getting foolish stupid advice from their so-called wise sages.

Conversations among fools (Sir 27:11-27:15)

“The conversation of the godly

Is always wise.

But the fool changes

Like the moon.

Among stupid people,

Limit your time.

But among thoughtful people

Linger on.

The talk of fools

Is offensive.

Their laughter

Is wantonly sinful.

Their cursing or swearing

Makes one’s hair stand on end.

Their quarrels make

Others stop their ears.

The strife of the proud

Leads to bloodshed.

Their abuse

Is grievous to hear.”

Sirach talks about the conversations of fools. Certainly, the conversations of the godly are always wise. However, the fools change their mind like the changes in the moon. You should stay away from stupid people, but linger with thoughtful people. If you listen to the talk of fools, you will see that it is offensive, with their random sinful cursing and swearing that will make your hair stand on end. You should not listen to their quarrels. The arguments of these proud fools will lead to bloodshed. It is very difficult to listen to these foolish conversations.

Stay away from stupid people (Sir 22:13-22:15)

“Do not talk much

With a senseless person!

Without sense,

He will despise

Everything about you.

Do not visit

An unintelligent person!

Stay clear of him!

You may have trouble.

You may be spattered

When he shakes himself off.

Avoid him!

Then you will find rest.

You will never be wearied

By his lack of sense.

What is heavier than lead?

What is its name

Except ‘Fool’?

Sand is easier to bear

Than a stupid person.

Salt is easier to bear

Than a stupid person.

A piece of iron is easier to bear

Than a stupid person.”

Sirach warns us to stay away from stupid people. Do not talk to these senseless people. They will despise you for your intelligence. There is a kind of elitism here. He did not want you to visit with unintelligent people. Stay away from them when they shake themselves like animals, because some of their filth might spatter on you. If you stay away from them, you will not be weary of their senseless talk. A fool is heavier to bear than lead. Practically everything is easier to live with than a stupid person. Thus sand, salt, and iron is better than these stupid senseless fools.

Stupidity (Prov 30:2-30:3)

“Surely I am too stupid to be human.

I do not have human understanding.

I have not learned wisdom.

I do not have knowledge of the Holy One.”

In a rare expression of humility, this Agur proclaims that he is too stupid to even be a human. He admits his human limitations since he does not even have human understanding. He has never learned about wisdom. He does not even know the holy one.

Badly kept fields (Prov 24:30-24:32)

I passed by the field

Of a lazy person.

I passed by the vineyard

Of a stupid person.

See!

It was all overgrown with thorns.

The ground was covered with nettles.

Its stone wall was broken down.

Then I saw it.

I considered it.

I looked.

I received instruction.”

This wise person passed by the fields of a lazy person as well as the vineyards of a stupid person. These fields were overgrown with thorns and nettles. The stone wall fences were broken down. Once again, this indicates a strong agricultural society where there were general rules on how to keep up your farming fields. The wise one saw it, looked at it, considered it, and received instructions about it. This un-kept farm field was a big deal.

Clever ones (Prov 12:23-12:25)

“Whoever is clever

Conceals his knowledge.

But the mind of the fool

Broadcasts folly.

The hand of the diligent will rule.

The lazy will be put to forced labor.

Anxiety weighs down the human heart.

But a good word cheers it up.”

The clever person conceals their knowledge. They do not show off their wisdom. The fools, on the other hand, broadcast their folly. They speak and show how stupid they are. The diligent will rule, while the lazy ones will be forced into labor. Anxiety weights down people, but a good word can cheer people up.

The foolish woman (Prov 9:13-9:18)

“The foolish woman is loud.

She is ignorant.

She knows nothing.

She sits at the door of her house.

She takes a seat at the high places of the town.

She calls to those who pass by.

They go straight on their way.

‘You who are simple,

Turn in here!’

To those without sense,

She says.

‘Stolen water is sweet.

Bread eaten in secret is pleasant.’

But they do not know that the dead are there.

Her guests are in the depths of Sheol.”

Now we are back to the foolish woman. She is the loud, ignorant, and stupid woman who sits at her door or at the high places in town. She tries to get those passing by her to turn into her house. However, they go straight past her. Her sales pitch is that stolen water is sweet and bread eaten in secret is pleasant. This is a subtle form of seduction. Thus this first introduction to the proverbs ends with this admonition to avoid the evil ladies, as if men had nothing to do with it, as if men were not interested in sex without this enticement.

The great works of Yahweh (Ps 92:5-92:9)

“How great are your works!

Yahweh!

Your thoughts are very deep!

The dullard cannot know this.

The stupid cannot understand this.

The wicked sprout like grass.

All evildoers flourish.

They are doomed to destruction forever.

But you are on high forever!

Yahweh!

Your enemies!

Yahweh!

Your enemies shall perish.

All evildoers shall be scattered.”

The works of Yahweh are great. His thoughts are very deep. The dullards and stupid people do not know and understand this. The wicked and the evildoers are flourishing like grass. However, they are doomed to eternal destruction. Yahweh is on high forever and thus his enemies will perish. All the evildoers will be scattered.

I was stupid (Ps 73:21-73:26)

“When my soul was embittered,

When I was pricked in heart,

I was stupid.

I was ignorant.

I was like a brute beast toward you.

Nevertheless I am continually with you.

You hold my right hand.

You guide me with your counsel.

Afterward you will receive me with honor.

Whom have I in heaven but you?

There is nothing on earth

That I desire other than you.

My flesh may fail.

My heart may fail.

But God is the strength of my heart.

God is my portion forever.”

This psalmist Asaph says that he was stupid and ignorant when he had these strange thoughts about the prosperous wicked people. He was acting like a brutal beast toward God. However, God led him by the hand and gave him counsel. God then honored him. There was no one else in heaven besides God who could help him. There was nothing on this earth that he desired. His heart and his flesh might fail, but God remained his strength and portion forever.

The evildoers (Ps 53:4-53:4)

“Have they no knowledge?

Those evildoers

Who eat up my people

As they eat bread.

Why do they not call upon Yahweh?”

Once again this is exactly like Psalm 14.  The evildoers are stupid.  They have no knowledge.  They eat up Yahweh’s people.  This metaphor seems to indicate what the evildoers were trying to do to Yahweh’s people.  Why are they not calling on Yahweh?  Here the term used is Yahweh and not merely God.