NOTE: For a PDF copy of this segment, please click here. This will enable you to print out the entire text of the article. [Rev 0]
Key Concepts of Mishlei 09-03 (Invitation to Ignorance)
In the first segment of this chapter (09-01) Mishlei presented us with the metaphor of a female spirit that graciously invites mankind to participate in the gift of Wisdom. He then demonstrated (in segment 09-02) that not everyone is ready to respond to such a kind invitation. In fact the scoffers and instigators are happy to reject it because they hate it.
Now, in the final segment of the chapter, Mishlei presents us with the metaphor of Ignorance, a foolish woman who is the mirror-image of Wisdom. She invites mankind to neglect wisdom and enjoy the illusory benefits of ignorance. She fails to warn her guests that if they accept her invitation they will be facing their doom.
In contrast to the woman of Wisdom, who took great pains to prepare her home and set her table to receive her guests, the woman of Ignorance spends her time in idle chatter. She positions herself where everyone can see her and she calls out to passersby with rude remarks, denigrating wisdom because it interferes with sensual pleasure. Her foolish advice is to suppress self-discipline and encourage permissiveness. After all, she says, “stolen water is sweet.”
(יג) אֵשֶׁת כְּסִילוּת הֹמִיָּה פְּתַיּוּת וּבַל יָדְעָה מָּה: (יד) וְיָשְׁבָה לְפֶתַח בֵּיתָהּ עַל כִּסֵּא מְרֹמֵי קָרֶת: (טו) לִקְרֹא לְעֹבְרֵי דָרֶךְ הַמְיַשְּׁרִים אֹרְחוֹתָם: (טז) מִי פֶתִי יָסֻר הֵנָּה וַחֲסַר לֵב וְאָמְרָה לּוֹ: (יז) מַיִם גְּנוּבִים יִמְתָּקוּ וְלֶחֶם סְתָרִים יִנְעָם: (יח) וְלֹא יָדַע כִּי רְפָאִים שָׁם בְּעִמְקֵי שְׁאוֹל קְרֻאֶיהָ:
(13) The woman of foolishness chatters ignorantly. She does not [even] know what she is saying. (14) She sits [immodestly] at the door of her house on a chair at the city heights (15) to call out to the passersby, who are trying to straighten out their ways. (16) [She calls to them saying,] “Whoever is unlearned, let him turn here!” And as for the one who lacks self-discipline, she says to him: (17) “Stolen water is sweet and bread [eaten] in secret is pleasing.” (18) [The innocent invitee] does not know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of the netherworld.
(יג) אֵשֶׁת כְּסִילוּת הֹמִיָּה פְּתַיּוּת
וּבַל יָדְעָה מָּה:
The woman of foolishness chatters ignorantly and incessantly — אֵשֶׁת כְּסִילוּת הֹמִיָּה פְּתַיּוּת . Her chatter has no real purpose for she herself does not fully know what she is saying — וּבַל יָדְעָה מָּה .
(יד) וְיָשְׁבָה לְפֶתַח בֵּיתָהּ
עַל כִּסֵּא מְרֹמֵי קָרֶת:
In contrast to Wisdom, she doesn’t make an effort to prepare herself, but carries on where she happens to be. She sits immodestly at the door of her house — וְיָשְׁבָה לְפֶתַח בֵּיתָהּ , on a chair at the city heights — עַל כִּסֵּא מְרֹמֵי קָרֶת – where all can see her. She uses no “maidens” to transmit wisdom and she has set no table to welcome seekers of knowledge. In her foolishness, she thinks she has no need to be modest and reserved.
(טו) לִקְרֹא לְעֹבְרֵי דָרֶךְ
She sits there to call out to the passersby — לִקְרֹא לְעֹבְרֵי דָרֶךְ , who are still confused about their spiritual direction and are trying to straighten out their ways — הַמְיַשְּׁרִים אֹרְחוֹתָם .
(טז) מִי פֶתִי יָסֻר הֵנָּה
וַחֲסַר לֵב וְאָמְרָה לּוֹ:
She calls to them saying, “Whoever is unlearned, let him turn here — מִי פֶתִי יָסֻר הֵנָּה ! He will be comfortable among those of us who disdain wisdom.” She says there is no value in the abstract rules of morality. They only interfere with sensual pleasure. As for the one who lacks self-discipline — חֲסַר לֵב , she says to him — אָמְרָה לּוֹ :
(יז) מַיִם גְּנוּבִים יִמְתָּקוּ
וְלֶחֶם סְתָרִים יִנְעָם:
“Stolen water is sweet — מַיִם גְּנוּבִים יִמְתָּקוּ , and bread eaten in secret is pleasing — וְלֶחֶם סְתָרִים יִנְעָם .” In contrast to the meat and wine offered to the guests of Wisdom, the guests of Ignorance won’t get much real pleasure from the stolen bread and water, but it will seem sweet because of the underhanded way in which they acquired it.
(יח) וְלֹא יָדַע כִּי רְפָאִים שָׁם
בְּעִמְקֵי שְׁאוֹל קְרֻאֶיהָ:
But the one who listens to her does not know that the dead are there — וְלֹא יָדַע כִּי רְפָאִים שָׁם , that her guests end up in the depths of the netherworld — בְּעִמְקֵי שְׁאוֹל קְרֻאֶיהָ .
The primary sources used in the interpretation of the verses of this segment are listed below.
יג- המאירי, מצודות, הגר”א
יד -אבן עזרא, רלב”ג, הגר”א
טו – אבן עזרא, מצודות, מלבי”ם
טז – רשר”ה
יז – אבן עזרא, מצודות, הגר”א, מלבי”ם
יח – רלב”ג, מצודות, מלבי”ם