Two Paths . . . Two Mindsets
At the close of the last post, those seeking to know “wisdom” in order to “find the knowledge of [Israel’s] God” (Proverbs 2:1-5) were given a choice between two paths – the path of the Strange Woman or the path of Wisdom.
One path will cause those who follow it to “find the knowledge of [Israel’s] God” (Proverbs 2:5)
The other path leads into the arms of the strange woman and ends in death. (Proverbs 2:18, 5:5, 7:27)
In these chapters, Solomon is urging his son to choose the path taught to him by his father, David, “the man after God’s own heart.” (1 Samuel 13:14)
As he talks to his son, Solomon discusses the characteristics of the righteous, how they relate to God, how they treat others and what building blocks they put into place to eventually “find the knowledge of [Israel’s] God.” (Proverbs 2:5)
Solomon will also speak to his son about sinners and wicked people. He reveals to his son the wiles and the tactics of the wicked; those who have forsaken the path of the righteous to follow their own. (Proverbs 2:13)
If you have forsaken something, you either once valued that something and no longer value it or you at least have knowledge of what you have forsaken and have chosen to ignore – or walk opposed to – what you know.
We will talk more in-depth about this when we focus on Proverbs 2.
Interspersed throughout Solomon’s instructions are many references to the Strange Woman and “lady” wisdom, along with numerous mentions of the righteous and the wicked (or sinners).
As we dig into these passages, it will become apparent that “wisdom” is a characterization of those who traverse the paths of righteousness and listen to the message of wisdom.
Looking Past Cold-Blooded Murder
Let’s take a look at our first group of people . . . the “sinners.”
In the entirety of Scripture, sinners come in all shapes and sizes with different vices and different MO’s (methods of operation), but in Proverbs 1-9, Solomon is describing a certain type of sinner.
This sinner has his/her own goals and operates in a framework opposed to the righteous.
Yes, they traverse a path contrary to “the fear of the Lord.”
My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent.
Solomon starts by warning his son to stay away from people who would “entice” him away from the path that his father and mother would have him walk – the path of Wisdom. We’ve already proven that this path will cause a man to walk in obedience to the commandments and “the fear of the Lord.”
Those who want you to deviate from, or forsake, the path of Wisdom will try to convince you that you can have fulfillment in this life by means other than “the fear of the Lord.” In their quest to befriend you, they urge YOU to join THEM, instead of making an effort to join YOU.
Come with us, let us lie in wait to shed blood; let us lurk secretly for the innocent without cause; let us swallow them alive like Sheol, and whole, like those who go down to the Pit; we shall find all kinds of precious possessions, we shall fill our houses with spoil; cast in your lot among us, let us all have one purse.
When most people read this verse, they are unwittingly drawn to the part that says “let us lie in wait to shed blood,” and if they don’t look any deeper, they will write this group of sinners off as a bunch of murderers.
This assumption may be somewhat accurate, but it misses the whole point.
By reading this passage closer, the reader must acknowledge that the sinners’ bloodshed has a goal; it’s NOT just killing for the sake of killing.
The Allure of Taking What is Not Yours
These people want something that is not theirs and they want to take it from – not just anyone – but from “the innocent.”
If they say, “Come with us, let us lie in wait to shed blood; let us lurk secretly for the innocent without cause; let us swallow them alive like Sheol, and whole, like those who go down to the Pit;”
In this passage, “innocent” does not infer “naivete.”
Here, the Hebrew word for “innocent” is “naqiy”  and it means “to be free from guilt, blameless.”
Solomon is warning his son of a group of sinners who would try to “entice” the son by saying “Come with us. . .” in order to “lie in wait” or “lurk secretly” along the righteous path to hunt, kill and plunder the riches of the innocent person.
Who is the innocent person?
A safe assumption would be that the “innocent” person would be walking the path of righteousness, or he/she would not be “innocent.” We’ve already established that those who walk the path of the righteous are those who walk in the true “fear of the Lord” by obeying His Torah.
What kind of riches and plunder would the house of the innocent person have?
This is an important question and we will discuss it soon.
It’s Not About the “Stuff”
There is something very strange going on here with this particular group of “sinners.”
This group wants to “swallow them [the innocent] alive” and “[swallow them] whole.” They are not satisfied with just taking the riches from the innocent, killing them and walking away with a smile.
No, they want it all.
If they say, “Come with us, let us lie in wait to shed blood; let us lurk secretly for the innocent without cause [chinnam]; let us swallow them alive like Sheol, and whole, like those who go down to the Pit;
The Hebrew word for “without cause” is “chinnam” and it has many meanings.
- for nothing
- without cause
So, how do we know which definition to use?
By using deductive reasoning, we find that the only logical definition to use in this passage would be “freely.”
In the passage above, “chinnam” cannot mean “for nothing,” because they have a goal in mind – to steal what is owned by the innocent.
“Chinnam” cannot mean “without cause” because they have a reason . . . to get rich!
In this analogy, “chinnam” can only mean “freely,” as in “by our own free will.”
The thieves are inviting Solomon’s son to “freely” come with them to perform this action. You can almost hear an air of arrogance and independence as they declare:
“Come with us, Solomon’s son, be free from the bondage that your father and mother are trying to teach you! We have freedom! This is the path we have chosen!”
Now, slow down and think about this. Ignore the urge to “skim” . . . I want you to digest this.
There is a dual meaning to the word “chinnam” or “freely.”
These thieves want to swallow the innocent “freely” (as of their own free will) and “freely” (with no perceived cost). They want to “swallow” the innocent “alive” and “whole.”
The Hebrew word for “alive” is “chay” and pretty much means exactly what it says, “live, life or alive.”
The Hebrew word for “whole,” however, is “tamiym.” “Tamiym” means so much more than “whole.”
The word, “tamiym” is mentioned 91 times in the Tanakh. 80 of those times, “tamiym” is directly connected to a person’s innocence, defined as “without blemish, perfect, upright, without spot, uprightly.”
According to the BlueLetterBible, 4 times out of 91, “tamiym” is defined as “whole,” but one cannot ignore the strong allusion to innocence and righteousness.
The “man after God’s own heart” wrote:
Blessed are the undefiled [tamiym] in the way,
Who walk in the law [towrah] of the LORD!
. . . certainly, his son made the same association.
So we can draw a healthy conclusion that the thieves not only want the riches of the innocent, they also want to freely . . . of their own free will . . . consume (swallow, internalize) . . . what makes them (the innocent) “tamiym” . . . freely . . . without cost.
Keep all this in mind as you move forward in this series.
Why would a prince be tempted to join up with thieves?
Solomon has started this whole comparison between “Lady” Wisdom and the Strange Woman with a warning to stay away from a group of people who rob and kill the innocent.
Let’s think about that for a minute.
Is it realistic to think that one born of royalty would be “enticed” to join a group of thieves bent on killing innocent people?
During Solomon’s day, thieves were likely looked upon as the scum of the earth, at least by those in good standing!
This would hardly be a temptation for a king’s son.
If, in fact, a royal prince was particularly evil, he would likely hire out a group of thieves to do his “dirty work.” He would not actually join the group to carry out the act.
And yet Solomon feels that it is important to warn his son not to join with them . . . Why?
Why is Solomon warning his son to stay away from those whom the son would have no desire to be with in the first place?
Because Solomon is hinting at something deeper here.
Remember that I mentioned in an earlier post:
Whatever “lady” you choose to follow, whatever path you choose, has the strong potential to intertwine itself within your psyche. It will shape (or reshape) your very way of thinking.
This is what Solomon is talking about.
Whatever path you choose – whether the path of righteousness or the path of those who want to freely obtain what is not theirs – it will create a framework from which you operate and that will determine your destiny.
So let’s do a little recap.
So far, we have 3 different entities involved in this passage.
- King Solomon’s son – the one who could be potentially tempted;
- The innocent victim – the one walking the paths of righteousness;
- The group of sinners – who want King Solomon’s son in on their quest to consume the innocent “alive” and “whole.”
It’s important to make that distinction to fully understand the entire passage.
There’s something else strange going on here with these thieves. I’ll discuss it in the next post.
-  https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H5355&t=KJV
-  https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H2600&t=NKJV
-  https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H2416&t=NKJV
-  https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H8549&t=NKJV