Proverbs 26:11

“As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.”

Such was the phrase that turned over and over in my mind when I heard that A– had seized speakership of the lower house. Surprisingly, the thought came neither with anger nor with dismay but with bemusement. Three years down, this is the change that you all voted for?

As with many such biblical expressions, the proverb is fraught with meaning. I looked up its history and usage. Apparently in ancient times, dogs were considered unclean as they were scavengers of the dead. That a dog should consume its own vomit, this doesn’t need a long stretch of imagination — it is meant to evoke shame and revulsion.

The image of the fool is more interesting. Unlike our common modern association with diminished intellectual capacity, “the fool” in Proverbs is a person lacking moral behavior and discipline. Contrast this with “the wise”, who behaves righteously.

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