A series of two-line sayings that are mostly unrelated and complete in themselves is given. Each one could stand on its own merits. With very few exceptions, they are written in antithetic parallelism, wherein the second line contrasts the first. They cover a wide range of conduct. Some of these seem totally unreligious to us, but given the unity of the book, they are still presented as the wise words that “Lady Wisdom” imparts. (Hence the importance of reading chapters 1-9 first.) Though efforts to discern units within this collection have not been too successful, scholars are unwilling to conclude that these are merely haphazard sayings. Sometimes the same topic will be addressed for several verses. Sometimes the placement of a saying enhances the meaning within a larger group. Chapters 10-12 seem to place considerable emphasis on just/wicked sayings. Chapters 13-15 emphasize wise/foolish terminology. 15:33-16:11 have a preponderance of The Lord’s sayings, while 16:10-15 focus on the king. Beyond this, there is simply no agreement as to subunits within the collection. Chapters 17-22 are a group of miscellaneous sayings, one right after another, ending with a series of proverbs on rich/poor.
These proverbs are quite distinct from those previously discussed in that they are all longer, appear in couplets, and are addressed to young men. Instead of antithetical parallelism, these are written as admonitions, usually accompanied by the reason for it. Salient topics include warnings against gluttony and intoxication, admonitions to not envy the wicked, how to be an obedient son, and the oft-repeated refrain to "fear the Lord".
E. Proverbs of Solomon as Compiled by Hezekiah's Men
Proverbs 25-29 There is a considerable difference between the first three and last two chapters of this section. The first three chapters have virtually no mention of God, but they do have many similes and metaphors, but there are many admonitions. The last two chapters are the exact opposite, leading some scholars to think these were originally two separate sections. Now, however, the title delineates these five chapters as one whole. They are distinctive also, in that they are linked to a specific period of time, having been "copied" by Hezekiah's men.
These are words of Lemuel's mother given to him, the king of Massa (thought to be an area in North Arabia, but otherwise unknown). This is the only occasion of instruction given by a mother. Emphasis on social responsibility is given. An admonition to avoid women and wine is given.
Proverbs 31:10-31 – The Virtuous Woman
An acrostic poem, these verses extol the perfect, industrious woman whose husband is barely visible. This has led some to believe this was an idealized portrait of a woman who could not literally exist. Others see this as a fitting end to the book of proverbs…a masterful portrait of Wisdom.