Proverbs 5-6 If ofthe ofthe
If the image of the woman has figured importantly in the first chapters of Proverbs 1-9, it utterly dominates the second half of the text. The most vivid and extensive representations are those of the strange woman. As in chapter 2, her sexuality is repeatedly associated with speech. She has "a smooth tongue" (6:24), "smooth words" (7:5), "smooth lips" (7:21). In the most explicitly erotic description it is said that "her lips drip with honey" and the inside of her mouth is "smoother than oil" (5:3). That she figures as the father's chief rival for the allegiance of the son would be clear simply from the length and intensity of the attack on her, but in 7:21 it is even said that she misleads the naive youth with her "teaching," a term used of the father's instruction as well (4:2). The fear that the father has of her is revealed in one of the images used to describe her deceptiveness. In patriarchal thinking it is woman's lack of the phallus and the privilege that the male associates with its possession that grounds woman's inferiority. In the father's phantasm the danger is that behind that reassuring smoothness, that visible absence of the phallus, there lurks something "sharp as a two edged sword" (5:4). The fantasy is that she not only possesses a hidden super potency but that it is a castrating potency as well. She threatens to reverse the body symbolism on which the father's authority is established.