His love (Song 4:9-4:11)

Male lover

“You have ravished my heart!

My sister!

My bride!

You have ravished my heart

With a glance of your eyes,

With one jewel of your necklace.

How sweet is your love!

My sister!

My bride!

How much better is your love

Than wine!

The fragrance of your oils is better

Than any spice!

Your lips distil nectar!

My bride!

Honey and milk are under your tongue.

The scent of your garments is

Like the scent of Lebanon.”

This male lover than goes into a praise of her wonders. He calls her a bride and a sister. Sister is a term of endearment in Egyptian poetry. Bride is used as an aspiration term, what he wants to happen. She has ravished his heart. She has stolen his heart with her glancing eyes and jeweled necklace. Her love is sweet and better than wine. Her fragrance is better than any spices. Her lips are like fruity nectar. She seems to have milk and honey under her tongue just like the Promised Land was always full of milk and honey. Her garments smelt like Lebanon. I assume that this was a good smell of cedar wood.

Apple tree (Song 2:3-2:5)

Female lover

“As an apple tree

Among the trees of the wood,

So is my beloved

Among young men.

With great delight

I sat in his shadow.

His fruit was sweet to my taste.

He brought me

To the banqueting house.

His intention toward me

Was love.

Sustain me with raisins.

Refresh me with apples.

I am faint with love.”

The female lover compares her lover to an apple tree in a forest. Thus she can sit in his shadow as this shady apple tree stands out among the other young men. His fruit was sweet and tasty. He brought her to the banquet hall with his love intentions. He sustained her with raisins. He refreshed her with apples. There could be sexual connotations here, but certainly the setting is romantic love. She is love sick, fainting with love. Clearly, she has fallen in love with this handsome young man who is like an apple tree.

Light (Eccl 11:7-11:8)

“Light is sweet.

It is pleasant for the eyes

To see the sun.

Even those who live many years,

Should rejoice in them all.

Yet let them remember

That the days of darkness

Will be many.

All that comes is vanity.”

Light is sweet as it provides your eyes with the pleasant sight of the sun. Even those who get to live a happy long life should remember that there will be plenty of long dark days to come. Your long light filled life is mere vanity or useless, because it will come to an end.

Odd situations (Prov 27:5-27:7)

“Better is open rebuke

Than hidden love.

Well meant

Are the wounds

A friend inflicts.

Profuse are the kisses of an enemy.

The sated appetite spurns honey.

But to a ravenous appetite

Even the bitter is sweet.”

Here we have a series of pithy sayings. It is better to rebuke someone than have a hidden love. A friend can inflict a wound also. The profuse kisses of an enemy are false. If you are filled and not hungry, you will turn away from honey. Apparently honey was a great delicacy. However, if you are hungry, even bitter things will seem sweet.

Wisdom and honey (Prov 24:13-24:14)

“My child!

Eat honey!

It is good.

The drippings of the honeycomb

Are sweet to your taste.

Know that wisdom is such to your soul.

If you find it,

You will find a future.

Your hope will not be cut off.”

There is nothing wrong with eating honey because it is good and tastes sweet. Wisdom is like honey to your soul because it is good. If you find wisdom, you will have a hopeful future.

Business transactions (Prov 20:14-20:17)

“‘It is bad.

It is bad.’

Says the buyer.

Then he goes away.

Then he boasts.

There is gold.

There is an abundance of costly stones.

But the lips informed by knowledge

Are a precious jewel.

Take the garment of one

Who has given surety for a stranger.

Seize the pledge

Given as surety for foreigners.

Bread gained by deceit is sweet.

But afterward the mouth will be full of gravel.”

Here we have a series of business transactions. We have already seen the bad scales and measures. Now this is how people complain when they buy something, saying it is bad. However, when they go away they boast about the good bargain they just made. Although there are gold and precious stones, nothing is more precious than lips informed by knowledge. Then there is the problem of pledge and surety for loans. It is not a good idea to lend to strangers, especially if you are the stranger. You seem to be able to take their garments and pledges. Watch out for bread that you get by being deceitful, it may taste sweet at first, but afterwards it will be like a mouthful of gravel.

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.