Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke, , at sacred-texts.com
A farther exhortation to acquire wisdom, in order to be preserved from impure connections, Pro 7:1-5. The character of a harlot, and her conduct towards a youth who fell into her snare, vv. 6-23. Solemn exhortations to avoid this evil, Pro 7:24-27.
My son, keep my words - See Pro 2:1.
As the apple of thine eye - As the pupil of the eye, which is of such essential necessity to sight, and so easily injured.
Bind them upon thy fingers - See on Pro 3:3 (note).
Thou art my sister - Thou art my dearest friend, and I will treat thee as such.
The strange woman - The prostitute, the adulteress.
I looked through my casement - The casement is a small aperture in a large window, or a window opening on hinges. Here it means the lattice, for they had no glass windows in the East. And the latticed windows produced a double advantage
1. Making the apartments sufficiently private; and
2. Admitting fresh air to keep them cool.
Among the simple ones - The inexperienced, inconsiderate young men.
A young man void of understanding - בעל ראשאהץ חסר לב, "destitute of a heart." He had not wisdom to discern the evil intended; nor courage to resist the flatteries of the seducer.
He went the way to her house - She appears to have had a corner house sufficiently remarkable; and a way from the main street to it.
In the twilight, in the evening - Some time after sun-setting; before it was quite dark.
In the black and dark night - When there were neither lamps nor moon-shine.
A woman with the attire of a harlot - It appears that sitting in some open place, and covering the face, or having a veil of a peculiar kind on, was the evidence of a harlot, Gen 38:14, Gen 38:15-19. No doubt, in Solomon's time, they had other distinctions. In all other countries, and in all times. the show of their countenance did testify against them; they declared their sin as Sodom; they hid it not. However, this does not seem to have been a mere prostitute; for she was, according to her own declaration, a married woman, and kept house, Pro 7:19, if her assertions relative to this were not falsehoods, and calculated the better to render him secure, and prevent the suspicion of endangering himself by cohabiting with a common woman; which I am rather inclined to think was the case, for she was subtle of heart.
She is loud and stubborn - המיה homiyah, she is never at rest, always agitated; busily employed to gain her end, and this is to go into the path of error: סררת sorereth, "turning aside;" preferring any way to the right way. And, therefore, it is added, her feet abide not in her house, she gads abroad; and this disposition probably first led her to this vice.
Now is she without - She is continually exposing herself, and showing by her gait and gestures what she is, and what she wants. These two verses are a parenthesis, intended to show the character of the woman.
So she caught him - Laid fast hold on him, and kissed him, to show that she was affectionately attached to him.
And with an impudent face - העזה פניה heezzah paneyha, "she strengthened her countenance," assumed the most confident look she could; endeavored to appear friendly and sincere.
I have peace-offerings with me - More literally, "the sacrifices of the peace-offerings are with me." Peace-offerings Mymlv shelamim, were offerings the spiritual design of which was to make peace between God and man, to make up the breach between them which sin had occasioned; see the notes on Leviticus 7 (note), where every kind of sacrifice offered under the law is explained. When the blood of these was poured out at the altar, and the fat burnt there, the breast and right shoulder were the priest's portion; but the rest of the carcass belonged to the sacrificer, who might carry it home, and make a feast to his friends. See Lev 3:1-11. Much light is cast on this place by the fact that the gods in many parts of the East are actually worshipped in brothels, and fragments of the offerings are divided among the wretches who fall into the snare of the prostitutes - Ward's Customs.
Have I payed my vows - She seems to insinuate that she had made a vow for the health and safety of this young man; and having done so, and prepared the sacrificial banquet, came actually out to seek him, that he might partake of it with her, Pro 7:15. But, as she intended to proceed farther than mere friendship, she was obliged to avail herself of the night season, and the absence of her husband.
I have decked my bed - ערשי arsi, "my couch or sofa;" distinguished from משכבי mishcabi, "my bed," Pro 7:17, the place to sleep on, as the other was the place to recline on at meals. The tapestry, מרבדים marbaddim, mentioned here seems to refer to the covering of the sofa; exquisitely woven and figured cloth. חטבות אטון chatuboth etun, the Targum translates painted carpets, such as were manufactured in Egypt; some kind of embroidered or embossed stuff is apparently meant.
I have perfumed any bed with Myrrh - מר mor, "aloes," אהלים ahalim, and "cinnamon," קנמון kinnamon. We have taken our names from the original words; but probably the ahalim may not mean aloes, which is no perfume; but sandal wood, which is very much used in the East. She had used every means to excite the passions she wished to bring into action.
Come, let us take our fill of love - נרוה דדים nirveh dodim, "Let us revel in the breasts;" and then it is added, "Let us solace ourselves with loves," נתעלסה באהבים nithallesah boohabim; "let us gratify each other with loves, with the utmost delights." This does not half express the original; but I forbear. The speech shows the brazen face of this woman, well translated by the Vulgate, "Veni, inebriemur uberibus; et fruamur cupidinis amplexibus." And the Septuagint has expressed the spirit of it: Ελθε, και απολαυσωμεν φιλιας - δευρο, και εγκυλισθωμεν ερωτι. "Veni, et fruamur amicitia - Veni, et colluctemur cupidine." Though varied in the words, all the versions have expressed the same thing. In the old MS. Bible, the speech of this woman is as follows: I have arrayed with cordis my litil bed, and spred with peyntid tapetis of Egipt: I have springid my ligginge place with mirre and aloes and calelcum, and be we inwardly drunken with Tetis, and use we the coveytied clippingis to the tyme that the dai wax light. The original itself is too gross to be literally translated; but quite in character as coming from the mouth of an abandoned woman.
For the good man - Literally, "For the man is not in his house."
He hath taken - Literally, "The money bag he hath taken in his hand." He is gone a journey of itinerant merchandising. This seems to be what is intended.
And will come home at the day appointed - ליום הכסא leyom hakkase, the time fixed for a return from such a journey. The Vulgate says, "at the full moon." The Targum, "the day of the assembly." In other words, He will return by the approaching festival.
With her much fair speech - With her blandishments and lascivious talk, she overcame all his scruples, and constrained him to yield.
As an ox goeth to the slaughter - The original of this and the following verse has been variously translated. Dr. Grey corrects and translates thus: "He goeth after her straightway, as an Ox goeth to the Slaughter; as a Dog to the Chain; and as a Deer till the Dart strike through his liver; as a Bird hasteneth to the Snare, and knoweth not that it is for its life." Very slight alterations in the Hebrew text produce these differences; but it is not necessary to pursue them; all serve to mark the stupidity and folly of the man who is led away by enticing women or who lives a life of intemperance.
Hearken unto me now, therefore, O ye children - Ye that are young and inexperienced, seriously consider the example set before your eyes, and take warning at another's expense.
For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her - That is, such like women have been the ruin of many. חללים chalalim, which we render wounded, also signifies solsliers or men of war; and עצמים atsumim, which we render strong men, may be translated heroes. Many of those who have distinguished themselves in the field and in the cabinet have been overcome and destroyed by their mistresses. History is full of such examples.
Her house is the way to hell - שאול sheol, the pit, the grave, the place of the dead, the eternal and infernal world. And they who, through such, fall into the grave, descend lower, into the chambers of death; the place where pleasure is at an end, and illusion mocks no more.