Proverbs 30:20
Such is the way of an adulterous woman; she eats, and wipes her mouth, and said, I have done no wickedness.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(20) Such is the way of an adulterous woman.—As there is no proof of her guilt, she flatly denies it.

Proverbs 30:20. Such — So secret and undiscernible; is the way of an adulterous woman — Of one that secretly lives in the sin of adultery. As “artful men insinuate themselves into the affections of young women, and seduce them to their ruin, by an almost infinity of stratagems, which can never be all unravelled, so also the adulterous wife uses much ingenuity to impose on her husband, to shun detection, and to escape shame and punishment, by schemes and devices which cannot all be enumerated. Every new crime intended, or committed, gives rise to some new artifice; as the ship, in some degree, deviates every time from the course which it steered before. The object of the seducer is to prevail over his prey, and that of the adulteress to conceal her guilt; and the whole extent of their subtlety and ingenuity is employed to effect those purposes.” — Scott.30:10 Slander not a servant to his master, accuse him not in small matters, to make mischief. 11-14. In every age there are monsters of ingratitude who ill-treat their parents. Many persuade themselves they are holy persons, whose hearts are full of sin, and who practise secret wickedness. There are others whose lofty pride is manifest. There have also been cruel monsters in every age. 15-17. Cruelty and covetousness are two daughters of the horseleech, that still cry, Give, give, and they are continually uneasy to themselves. Four things never are satisfied, to which these devourers are compared. Those are never rich that are always coveting. And many who have come to a bad end, have owned that their wicked courses began by despising their parents' authority. 18-20. Four things cannot be fully known. The kingdom of nature is full of marvels. The fourth is a mystery of iniquity; the cursed arts by which a vile seducer gains the affections of a female; and the arts which a vile woman uses to conceal her wickedness. 21-23 Four sorts of persons are very troublesome. Men of low origin and base spirit, who, getting authority, become tyrants. Foolish and violent men indulging in excesses. A woman of a contentious spirit and vicious habits. A servant who has obtained undue influence. Let those whom Providence has advanced from low beginnings, carefully watch against that sin which most easily besets them.The way of a man with a maid - The act of sin leaves no outward mark upon the sinners. 20. she eateth … mouth—that is, she hides the evidences of her shame and professes innocence. Such, so secret and undiscernible,

is the way of an adulterous woman; of her who, though she be called and accounted a maid yet in truth is an adulteress: not a common strumpet, for of such the following words are not true, but one that secretly lives in the sin of adultery or fornication.

She eateth, to wit, the bread of deceit in secret, by which is understood the act of filthiness, Proverbs 9:17 20:17, which such persons do as greedily desire, and as delightfully feed upon, as hungry persons do upon bread. Thus chastely doth the Holy Ghost express the most filthy actions, to teach us to avoid all immodest and obscene speeches as well as actions.

Wipeth her mouth, as a child doth when it hath eaten some forbidden food, and would not be discovered.

Saith, I have done no wickedness; denies the fact, and avoweth her innoceney. Such is the way of an adulterous woman,.... It is equally unknown as the way of a man with a maid; it is difficult to detect her, she takes so much care and caution, and uses so many artful methods to conceal her wickedness from her husband; though she lives in adultery, it is in a most private manner, and carried on so secretly and artfully that she is not easily discovered;

she eateth, and wipeth her mouth; like one that eats what he should not, wipes his mouth that it might not be known or suspected he had ate anything; so such an adulteress commits the sin of adultery; and when she has done looks as grave and demure, and carries it so to her husband and all her friends, as if she was the chastest person upon earth. The allusion may be to harlots, who after an impure congress used to wash themselves (a), and had servants to wait upon them and serve them with water, called from hence "aquarioli" (b);

and saith, I have done no wickedness; she says by her behaviour, by her demure looks; and if suspected and challenged with it utterly denies it. This is an emblem of the antichristian whore of Rome, who, though the mother of harlots, and abominations of the earth; though guilty of the foulest adultery, that is, the grossest idolatry, yet pretends to be the pure and chaste spouse of Christ; and, under the guise of purity and holiness, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness, seduces the minds of many; see Revelation 17:1.

(a) "Dedecus hoc sumpta dissimulavit aqua", Ovid. Amor. l. 3. Eleg. 6. in fine. (b) Tertull. Apolog. c. 43. Vid. Turnebi Adversar. l. 14. c. 12.

Such is the way of an adulterous woman; she eateth, and {k} wipeth her mouth, and saith, I have done no wickedness.

(k) She has her desires, and later counterfeits as though she were an honest woman.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
20. The “four things” of the two preceding verses find their moral in this verse. So lightly does the abandoned woman think of the consequences of her sin; so does it pass away when committed and leave no mark behind. It is but to eat and wipe the lips, and all trace of the food is gone.Verse 20. - This verse is a kind of gloss or illustration of the last thought of the preceding verse, and seems not to have formed an original part of the numerical proverb. It might well be placed in a parenthesis. Many commentators consider it to be an interpolation. Such is the way of an adulterous woman. What Agur had said of a man above, he now applies to the practised adulteress, whose sin cannot be traced. She eateth. This is a euphemism for the sin which she commits, "Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant" (Proverbs 9:17; comp. Proverbs 5:15). And wipeth her mouth, as if to leave no trace of her illicit repast. And saith, I have done no wickedness. As she has sinned in secret, and there is no outward proof of her guilt, she boldly denies it. Septuagint, "Such is the way of an adulterous woman, who, when she has committed the act, having washed herself, says she has done nothing amiss." She forgets him who seeth in secret, and is quite content to escape detection at man's eyes, and to assume the character of a virtuous wife, which popular report assigns to her. There now follows a Priamel,

(Note: Cf. vol. i. p. 13. The name (from praeambulum) given to a peculiar form of popular gnomic poetry which prevailed in Germany from the 12th (e.g., the Meistersinger or Minstrel Sparvogel) to the 16th century, but was especially cultivated during the 14th and 15th centuries. Its peculiarity consisted in this, that after a series of antecedents or subjects, a briefly-expressed consequent or predicate was introduced as the epigrammatic point applicable to all these antecedents together. Vid., Erschenburg's Denkmlern altdeutscher Dichtkinst, Bremen 1799.)

the first line of which is, by יקלל, connected with the יקללך of the preceding distich:

11 A generation that curseth their father,

     And doth not bless their mother;

12 A generation pure in their own eyes,

     And yet not washed from their filthiness;

13 A generation - how haughty their eyes,

     And their eyelids lift themselves up;

14 A generation whose teeth are swords and their jaw teeth knives

     To devour the poor from the earth and the needy from the midst of men.

Ewald translates: O generation! but that would have required the word, 13a, הדּור (Jeremiah 2:31), and one would have expected to have found something mentioned which the generation addressed were to take heed to; but it is not so. But if "O generation!" should be equivalent to "O regarding the generation!" then הוי ought to have introduced the sentence. And if we translate, with Luther: There is a generation, etc., then ישׁ is supplied, which might drop out, but could not be omitted. The lxx inserts after ἔκγονον the word κακόν, and then renders what follows as pred. - a simple expedient, but worthless. The Venet. does not need this expedient, for it renders γενεὰ τὸν πατέρα αὐτοῦ βλασφημέσει; but then the order of the words in 11a would have been דור יקלל אביו; and in 12a, after the manner of a subst. clause, דור טהור בעיניו הוא, one sees distinctly, from Proverbs 30:13 and Proverbs 30:14, that what follows דור is to be understood, not as a pred., but as an attributive clause. As little can we interpret Proverbs 30:14, with Lwenstein, as pred. of the three subj., "it is a generation whose teeth are swords;" that would at least have required the words דור הוא; but Proverbs 30:14 is not at all a judgment valid for all the three subjects. The Targ. and Jerome translate correctly, as we above;

(Note: The Syr. begins 11a as if הוי were to be supplied.)

but by this rendering there are four subjects in the preamble, and the whole appears, since the common pred. is wanting, as a mutilated Priamel. Perhaps the author meant to say: it is such a generation that encompasses us; or: such is an abomination to Jahve; for דור is a Gesamtheit equals totality, generation of men who are bound together by contemporary existence, or homogeneity, or by both, but always a totality; so that these Proverbs 30:11-14, might describe quatuor detestabilia genera hominum (C. B. Michaelis), and yet one generatio, which divide among themselves these four vices, of blackest ingratitude, loathsome self-righteousness, arrogant presumption, and unmerciful covetousness. Similar is the description given in the Mishna Sota ix. 14, of the character of the age in which the Messiah appeared. "The appearance of this age," thus it concludes, "is like the appearance of a dog; a son is not ashamed before his father; to whom will we then look for help? To our Father in heaven!"

continued...

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