Wisdom and Folly
At God’s Banquet[a]
1 Wisdom has built her house;
she has hewn her seven pillars.
2 She has slain her animals and mixed her wine,
and she has spread her table.
3 She has sent forth her maidservants
and proclaimed from the heights of the city,
4 “Let those who are simple[b] turn in here.”
To the person without understanding she says,
5 “Come and partake of my food,
and taste the wine that I have prepared!
6 Abandon foolishness so that you may live;
walk in the way of understanding.
A Parenthesis about the Arrogant[c]
7 “If you correct an arrogant man, you invite insults;
if you rebuke a wicked man, you incur abuse.
8 If you reprove an insolent man, he will hate you;
if you reprove a wise man, he will love you.
9 Instruct a wise man, and he will become wiser still;
teach a righteous man, and he will advance in learning.
10 [d]“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,[e]
and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
11 For by me your days will be multiplied,
and years will be added to your life.
12 If you are wise, it is to your advantage;
if you are arrogant, you alone will bear the blame.”
Folly Sits at the Door of Her House[f]
13 The woman Folly[g] acts impulsively;
she is undisciplined and lacking in knowledge.
14 She sits at the door of her house,
upon a seat commanding the city,
15 calling out to the passers-by
who are hurrying on their straight way,
16 “You who are simple, turn in here.”
To the fool she says,
17 “Stolen water is sweet,
and bread eaten in secret tastes good.”
18 But little does he know that the dead are there
and that her guests are headed for the netherworld.
- Proverbs 9:1 This beautiful poem once again presents Wisdom as a person. She invites men and women to a feast in her house, the seven pillars of which symbolize perfection. The theme of the feast at which the wise are gathered was dear to antiquity; Christ, too, will speak to us of guests invited to the royal feast (see Mt 22:2; Lk 14:16). Reading this fascinating invitation, Christians will be reminded of the Eucharistic Supper where Christ offers them the word and the bread. It is the sign and foreshadowing of the royal feast to which are called all human beings, and where all will experience the joy of God.
- Proverbs 9:4 Simple: see note on Prov 1:4.
- Proverbs 9:7 This parenthesis about the arrogant continues the reflections already set forth in the preceding chapters. In the manner of certain psalms, the author attacks scoffers and abandons them to their lot. For they are those who eschew the meaning of their lives, the respect for others, and the consideration of God as if they were fleeing from their true destiny, their value as human beings. This is folly.
- Proverbs 9:10 These three verses summarize the message that is found in the first nine chapters.
- Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: see note on Prov 1:7.
- Proverbs 9:13 In contrast with Wisdom, who is God’s hostess, here is a picture full of irony. Folly holds her banquet too, but she can offer only stolen water, bread eaten in secret, and, in the end, death, the sojourn in the land of oblivion and hopelessness (i.e., the netherworld). This comparison of Wisdom and Folly, this contrast of the two banquets, recalls the opposition of the two ways: here we are called to make our choice.
- Proverbs 9:13 The description of Folly in this verse links her to the adulteress of Prov 2:16; 7:10ff.