Study Guide

Proverbs Morality and Ethics

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Morality and Ethics

The wisdom and knowledge Proverbs offers mainly concerns morality and ethics. (Meanwhile, we get a cookie for connecting Theme 1 and Theme 2.) Sometimes Proverbs may come pretty close to being just a collection of platitudes when making points about morality: goodness is really good; badness is, like, sooooooo bad. But it frequently rises above this self-evident equivalence to provide more specific advice.

For instance, Proverbs is concerned about the treatment of animals—not something you might've expected from an ancient text. It urges people not to be vengeful, to be kind to their own enemies, and to avoid rejoicing when bad things happen to those enemies. Overall, it presents what most people would probably consider a highly humane vision of conduct and life—even in the modern world.

Questions About Morality and Ethics

  1. How does Proverbs' advice against vengeance jive with the rest of the Bible? Do humans in other Biblical books pursue vengeance, and is it always considered a bad thing?
  2. What are Proverbs' moral guidelines concerning the kind of words people use? Why do you think Proverbs finds this so important? How does speech underlie other kinds of conduct?
  3. What's wrong with living alone? Why does Proverbs want people to live together?
  4. If you're also reading the New Testament, do any of the proverbs seem like they might've influenced Jesus's ethics in the Gospels?

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