Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction
and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.
They are a garland to grace your head
and a chain to adorn your neck.
The Holy Bible : Today’s New International Version. 2005 (Pr 1:8–9). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
Following a common Ancient Near Eastern format, the book of Proverbs is set up as instructions from a father to his son, from the wise and experienced to the naive and inexperienced. What parents have to tell their children is something to which the children should pay attention, because it will benefit them. The Proverbs are written as poetry. Poetry is designed to affect the emotions. Hebrew poetry, like the poetry throughout the Ancient Near East, is parallelistic. That is, rather than rhyming sounds, it rhymes ideas: it repeats the same concept using different words. Thus, “father” parallels “mother,” “instruction” parallels “teaching.” “Garland” parallels “chain” and “head” parallels “neck.” This is an example of what is called “synonymous parallelism.”