Iniquities ensnare the wicked: The ethical theory of Proverbs 1-9

Michael Baris

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3 Scopus citations


In terms of moral theory, Proverbs 1-9 seems disappointing. Heavily emphasizing the eudemonistic consequences of folly, its adages appear self-centered and therefore highly inappropriate in the context of religious ethics. In the present article, I contend that Wisdom's central position as God's world order in this text is comparable to Stoic thought that faces similar problems. At the same time, while the Stoics were concerned with conformity to the universal logos per se, Proverbs 1-9 focuses on the moral structure of the human psyche, highlighting the self-destructive consequences of immoral behavior as internal phenomena. The cause and effect nexus central to the chapters in question stems from the individual as a moral agent, transforming the external incentives of "common sense" admonitions to reflections on the inner impetus for moral behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-144
Number of pages16
JournalHebrew Studies
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


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