Tuesday, 21 July 2009

The Book of Proverbs

Thank you to everyone who has given suggestions for future posts after yesterday’s request. My friend Paul responded with an excerpt from Chapter 23 of Proverbs, which illustrates the ‘pain and perils’ of the demon drink.

I have repeated the passage here using the King James Authorised Version of 1611 which I have chosen because of its influence on English language and literature.

Who hath woe? Who hath sorrow? Who hath contentions? Who hath babbling? Who hath wounds without cause? Who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things.
(Proverbs 23:29-33)

Paul adds: “You’ll also find brutally honest accounts of good men coming unstuck thanks to too much of the bottle (or wineskin, I suppose), e.g. Noah (Genesis 9:20-27) and Lot (Genesis 19:30-38). Some less reputable fellows also got into sticky situations – see Esther 1:10-12 and 1 Kings 20:16-21. And the original ‘writing on the wall’ interrupted a particularly well lubricated evening, Daniel 5.”

I may well return to some of these at later dates, but looking back at even the more unapologetic accounts of over-indulgence that I’ve posted already, the ‘sting of the adder’ never seems far behind. Beware...

1 comment:

  1. Comment by Peter Rockhill

    There's an episode in the Book of Judith (a book not included in the King James I don't think) where a devout woman called Judith (meaning 'Jewess') delivers the Jewish people from the advancing Assyrian army. Being beautiful and beguiling as well as holy, she's invited to spend some time in the Assyrian camp with their general-in-chief, Holofernes. As he confides to a minion: "We shall be disgraced if we let a woman like this go without seducing her, everyone will laugh at us!"
    Alone with her, Holofernes drinks more wine "than he had drunk in his life", and dozes off. So Judith takes Holofernes' scimitar, hacks off his head, and puts it in a bag. Then she walks out of the camp with her maid, back to the Israelites. Ancient girl power.
    (Source: New Jerusalem Bible)