Thorns and snares (Proverbs 22:5)
Posted by jac/cdc on January 15, 2007
(Proverbs 22:5) צִנִּים פַּחִים בְּדֶרֶךְ עִקֵּשׁ שׁוֹמֵ֥ר נַ֝פְשׁ֗וֹ יִרְחַ֥ק מֵהֶֽם׃
tsi-NEEM pa-CHEEM b’-DE-rech ‘ee-QAYSH sho-MAYR naph-SHO yir-CHAQ may-HEM
Thorns and snares are in the way of the perverse; the diligent guardian of their life will keep far from them.
Proverbs presents orthodox wisdom: the wise will prosper and the wicked will suffer. Examples to the contrary, however, do not invalidate the advice based on this world view, and presented in this proverb in terms of the metaphor of ‘way, path’. The ‘perverse’ are those who turn aside from the ‘way’ of wisdom, and their way is full of difficulty and problems—whether physical, financial, or moral. The person who successfully avoids these problems is the one who takes full stock in the danger of “turning from the way” and recognizes that to preserve their life they must attend to staying “on the straight and narrow.” The whole metaphor of ‘way’ is very productive throughout the Hebrew Bible and moral and religious writings; the proverb here calls to mind the extended use of ‘way’ in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress.