Chapter 11: Beneath the Surface

11:1 The LORD abhors dishonest scales, but accurate weights are his delight.

      A "double pan" (or "triple beam") scale that did not work accurately is the idea in this verse. At issue would be that the amount of product or payment being weighed in one pan did not equally balance with the known and marked weight stone in the other pan.
      Also at issue are accurate weights. Apparently weights were not always accurate, suggesting two weights were marked as equal, but were not. An unscrupulous businessman would buy and sell product with different weights which were supposed to be the same. Presumably he used a heavier weight to buy and a lighter weight to sell. Here at Helping Up Mission, the guys would call this "a dope-fiend move!"
      Excavations in Israel have uncovered ancient store-front shops and we now have multiple weights marked with the same value. In Old Testament times, weights were made by chipping stones into round balls and then marked accordingly. Some archaeologist decided it would be a good idea to actually weigh them (maybe because of this verse!). When they were measured, weights of the same value were found to be different.

11:22 Like a gold ring in a pig's snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.

      It would seem that this wise saying was also playing off a common practice in the ancient Near East. While there may have been exceptions for royalty and the wealthy, the general population frequently wore earrings and nose rings of simple metal hoops.
      There was no particular Hebrew word for earrings – worn by both men and women – but there are Biblical references to rings in the ear (Gn 35:4; Ex 32:2-3). There was, however, a particular word for nose rings, and women (men, too) wore gold (whenever the actual material is mentioned – it is gold) rings in their noses (Gn 24:47; Is 3:21; Ez 16:12).

11:30 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise.

      The Tree of Life was first mentioned in the Garden of Eden (Gn 2:9; 3:22, 24) and last mentioned in the New Jerusalem (Rv 22:2, 14, 19). Fruit from this tree produced life and health for all who partook.
      Different versions of the "tree of life" concept were known throughout the ancient Near East, from Egypt to Mesopotamia. There are a number of ancient depictions from a variety of cultures often labeled as the/a "tree of life." But most are just the assumptions of modern scholars that this was the ancient meaning – which may or may not be correct.