As we have seen in Segment 21-09, sociability is a quality of temperament that is essential to happy home. This quality enables harmony between husband and wife, but its absence can make home life unbearable for either party. When the husband or wife maintains a quarrelsome nature, no amount of friendship or companionship can overcome the painfulness that both must endure.
As shown below, the proverb in Segment 21-19 follows the pattern of Segment 21-09, but with more emphasis. Instead of a woman who is merely quarrelsome, we are now concerned with a woman whose nature is to be angry as well. In such a case her husband is advised not to remain in the same house. Even a corner of the roof is too close. To avoid her angry outbursts, it is better to move out of the entire neighborhood, even if it means living in a desert land.
ט = טוֹב לָשֶׁבֶת עַל פִּנַּת גָּג מֵאֵשֶׁת מִדְיָנִים וּבֵית חָבֶר
(9) It is better to dwell on a corner of the roof,
than in a house of friendship with a quarrelsome woman
יט = טוֹב שֶׁבֶת בְּאֶרֶץ מִדְבָּר מֵאֵשֶׁת מִדְיָנִים וָכָעַס
(19) It is better to dwell in a desert land,
than with a quarrelsome and angry woman.
(19) It is better to dwell — טוֹב שֶׁבֶת
in a desert land, — בְּאֶרֶץ מִדְבָּר
than with a quarrelsome and angry woman. — מֵאֵשֶׁת מִדְיָנִים וָכָעַס.
Another difference between the two proverbs is that in the earlier proverb, it was “a house of friendship.” That means the husband had the moral support of a friend and because of that he did not venture further than his roof top. But that comfort is lacking in the present proverb and therefore his only option is to escape to the wilderness. (רבינו יונה)
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