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Proverbs 12

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12:1 The one who loves discipline loves knowledge, 1 

but the one who hates reproof is stupid. 2 

12:2 A good person obtains favor from the Lord,

but the Lord 3  condemns a person with wicked schemes. 4 

12:3 No one 5  can be established 6  through wickedness,

but a righteous root 7  cannot be moved.

12:4 A noble wife 8  is the crown 9  of her husband,

but the wife 10  who acts shamefully is like rottenness in his bones. 11 

12:5 The plans 12  of the righteous are just;

the counsels of the wicked are deceitful. 13 

12:6 The words of the wicked lie in wait 14  to shed innocent blood, 15 

but the words 16  of the upright will deliver them.

12:7 The wicked are overthrown 17  and perish, 18 

but the righteous household 19  will stand.

12:8 A person 20  is praised in accordance with 21  his wisdom,

but the one who has a twisted mind 22  is despised.

12:9 Better is a person of humble standing 23  who nevertheless has a servant, 24 

than one who pretends to be somebody important 25  yet has no food.

12:10 A righteous person cares for 26  the life of his animal,

but even the most compassionate acts 27  of the wicked are cruel.

12:11 The one who works 28  his field will have plenty 29  of food,

but whoever chases daydreams 30  lacks wisdom. 31 

12:12 The wicked person desires a stronghold, 32 

but the righteous root 33  endures. 34 

12:13 The evil person is ensnared 35  by the transgression of his speech, 36 

but the righteous person escapes out of trouble. 37 

12:14 A person will be satisfied with good from the fruit of his words, 38 

and the work of his hands 39  will be rendered to 40  him.

12:15 The way of a fool 41  is right 42  in his own opinion, 43 

but the one who listens to advice is wise. 44 

12:16 A fool’s annoyance 45  is known at once, 46 

but the prudent 47  overlooks 48  an insult.

12:17 The faithful witness 49  tells what is right, 50 

but a false witness 51  speaks 52  deceit.

12:18 Speaking recklessly 53  is like the thrusts of a sword,

but the words 54  of the wise bring 55  healing. 56 

12:19 The one who tells the truth 57  will endure forever,

but the one who lies 58  will last only for a moment. 59 

12:20 Deceit is in the heart of those who plot evil, 60 

but those who promote peace 61  have joy.

12:21 The righteous do not encounter 62  any harm, 63 

but the wicked are filled with calamity. 64 

12:22 The Lord 65  abhors a person who lies, 66 

but those who deal truthfully 67  are his delight. 68 

12:23 The shrewd person 69  conceals 70  knowledge,

but foolish people 71  publicize folly. 72 

12:24 The diligent 73  person 74  will rule,

but the slothful 75  will become a slave. 76 

12:25 Anxiety 77  in a person’s heart 78  weighs him down, 79 

but an encouraging 80  word brings him joy. 81 

12:26 The righteous person is cautious in his friendship, 82 

but the way of the wicked leads them astray.

12:27 The lazy person does not roast 83  his prey,

but personal possessions 84  are precious to the diligent.

12:28 In the path of righteousness there is life,

but another path leads to death. 85 

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1 sn Those who wish to improve themselves must learn to accept correction; the fool hates/rejects any correction.

2 sn The word בָּעַר (baar, “brutish; stupid”) normally describes dumb animals that lack intellectual sense. Here, it describes the moral fool who is not willing to learn from correction. He is like a dumb animal (so the term here functions as a hypocatastasis: implied comparison).

3 tn Heb “but he condemns”; the referent (the Lord) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

4 tn Heb “a man of wicked plans.” The noun מְזִמּוֹת (mÿzimmot, “evil plans”) functions as an attributive genitive: “an evil-scheming man.” Cf. NASB “a man who devises evil”; NAB “the schemer.”

5 tn Heb “a man cannot be.”

6 tn The Niphal imperfect of כּוּן (cun, “to be established”) refers to finding permanent “security” (so NRSV, TEV, CEV) before God. Only righteousness can do that.

7 tn Heb “a root of righteousness.” The genitive צַדִּיקִים (tsadiqim, “righteousness”) functions as an attributive adjective. The figure “root” (שֹׁרֶשׁ, shoresh) stresses the security of the righteous; they are firmly planted and cannot be uprooted (cf. NLT “the godly have deep roots”). The righteous are often compared to a tree (e.g., 11:30; Ps 1:3; 92:13).

8 tn Heb “a wife of virtue”; NAB, NLT “a worthy wife.” This noble woman (אֵשֶׁת־חַיִל, ’shet-khayil) is the subject of Prov 31. She is a “virtuous woman” (cf. KJV), a capable woman of noble character. She is contrasted with the woman who is disgraceful (מְבִישָׁה, mÿvishah; “one who causes shame”) or who lowers his standing in the community.

9 sn The metaphor of the “crown” emphasizes that such a wife is a symbol of honor and glory.

10 tn Heb “she”; the referent (the wife) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

11 sn The simile means that the shameful acts of such a woman will eat away her husband’s strength and influence and destroy his happiness.

12 tn Heb “thoughts.” This term refers not just to random thoughts, however, but to what is planned or devised.

13 sn The plans of good people are directed toward what is right. Advice from the wicked, however, is deceitful and can only lead to trouble.

14 tn The infinitive construct אֱרָב (’erav, “to lie in wait”) expresses the purpose of their conversations. The idea of “lying in wait for blood” is an implied comparison (hypocatastasis): Their words are like an ambush intended to destroy (cf. NAB, NRSV “are a deadly ambush”). The words of the wicked are here personified.

15 tn Heb “for blood.” The term “blood” is a metonymy of effect, the cause being the person that they will attack and whose blood they will shed. After the construct “blood” is also an objective genitive.

16 tn Heb “mouth.” The term פֶּה (peh, “mouth”) is a metonymy of cause, signifying what the righteous say. The righteous can make a skillful defense against false accusations that are intended to destroy. The righteous, who have gained wisdom, can escape the traps set by the words of the wicked.

17 sn This proverb is about the stability of the righteous in times of trouble. The term “overthrown” might allude to Gen 19:21.

18 tn Heb “and they are not.”

19 tn Heb “the house of the righteous.” The genitive צַדִּיקִים (tsadiqim) functions as an attributive adjective: “righteous house.” The noun בֵּית (bet, “house”) functions as a synecdoche of container (= house) for the contents (= family, household; perhaps household possessions). Cf. NCV “a good person’s family”; NLT “the children of the godly.”

20 tn Heb “a man.”

21 tn Heb “to the mouth of.” This idiom means “according to” (BDB 805 s.v. פֶּה 6.b.(b); cf. KJV, NAB, NIV). The point is that praise is proportionate to wisdom.

22 tn Heb “crooked of heart”; cf. NAB, NLT “a warped mind” (NIV similar). The noun לֵב (lev, “heart”) is an attributive genitive. It functions as a metonymy of association for “mind; thoughts” (BDB 524 s.v. 3) and “will; volition” (BDB 524 s.v. 4). He does not perceive things as they are, so he makes all the wrong choices. His thinking is all wrong.

23 tn Heb “one who is lightly regarded.” The verb קָלָה (qalah) means “to be lightly esteemed; to be dishonored; to be degraded” (BDB 885 s.v.).

24 tn The meaning of the phrase וְעֶבֶד לוֹ (vÿeved lo) is ambiguous; the preposition is either possessive (“has a servant”) or a reflexive indirect object (“is a servant for himself”; cf. NAB, TEV). Several versions (LXX, Vulgate, Syriac) read “and yet has a servant.”

25 tn Heb “who feigns importance.” The term מְתַכַּבֵּד (mÿtakkabed, from כָּבֵד, caved, “to be weighty; to be honored; to be important”) is an example of the so-called “Hollywood” Hitpael which describes a person putting on an act (BDB 458 s.v. כָּבֵד Hitp.2).

sn This individual lives beyond his financial means in a vain show to impress other people and thus cannot afford to put food on the table.

26 tn Heb “knows”; NLT “concerned for the welfare of.” The righteous take care of animals, not just people.

27 tn Heb “but the mercies.” The additional words appear in the translation for the sake of clarification. The line can be interpreted in two ways: (1) when the wicked exhibit a kind act, they do it in a cruel way, or (2) even the kindest of their acts is cruel by all assessments, e.g., stuffing animals with food to fatten them for market – their “kindness” is driven by ulterior motives (J. H. Greenstone, Proverbs, 129).

28 sn In the biblical period agriculture was the most common occupation for the people; so “working a field” describes a substantial occupation, but also represents working in general. Diligent work, not get-rich-quick schemes, is the key to ensuring income.

29 tn Heb “will have his fill of” or “will be satisfied with.”

30 tn Heb “empty things” or “vain things.” The term רֵיקִים (reqim) refers to worthless pursuits in an effort to make money. The fact that the participle used is “chase after” shows how elusive these are. Cf. NIV “fantasies”; NCV “empty dreams”; TEV “useless projects.”

31 tn Heb “heart.” The term לֵב (lev, “heart”) functions as a metonymy of association for wisdom (BDB 524 s.v. 3).

32 tn This line is difficult to interpret. BDB connects the term מְצוֹד (mÿtsod) to II מָצוֹד which means (1) “snare; hunting-net” and (2) what is caught: “prey” (BDB 844-45 s.v. II מָצוֹד). This would function as a metonymy of cause for what the net catches: the prey. Or it may be saying that the wicked get caught in their own net, that is, reap the consequences of their own sins. On the other hand, HALOT 622 connects מְצוֹד (mÿtsod) to II מְצוּדָה (mÿtsudah, “mountain stronghold”; cf. NAB “the stronghold of evil men will be demolished”). The LXX translated it as: “The desires of the wicked are evil.” The Syriac has: “The wicked desire to do evil.” The Latin expands it: “The desire of the wicked is a defense of the worst [things, or persons].” C. H. Toy suggests emending the text to read “wickedness is the net of bad men” (Proverbs [ICC], 250).

33 tn Heb “the root of righteousness.” The genitive צַדִּיקִים (tsadiqim, “righteousness”) functions as an attributive adjective. The wicked want what belongs to others, but the righteous continue to flourish.

34 tc The MT reads יִתֵּן (yitten, “gives,” from נָתַן [natan, “to give”]), and yields an awkward meaning: “the root of the righteous gives.” The LXX reads “the root of the righteous endures” (cf. NAB). This suggests a Hebrew Vorlage of אֵיתָן (’etan, “constant; continual”; HALOT 44-45 s.v. I אֵיתָן 2) which would involve the omission of א (alef) in the MT. The metaphor “root” (שֹׁרֶשׁ, shoresh) is often used in Proverbs for that which endures; so internal evidence supports the alternate tradition.

35 tc MT reads the noun מוֹקֵשׁ (moqesh, “bait; lure”). The LXX, Syriac and Tg. Prov 12:13 took it as a passive participle (“is ensnared”). The MT is the more difficult reading and so is preferred. The versions appear to be trying to clarify a difficult reading.

tn Heb “snare of a man.” The word “snare” is the figurative meaning of the noun מוֹקֵשׁ (“bait; lure” from יָקַשׁ [yaqash, “to lay a bait, or lure”]).

36 tn Heb “transgression of the lips.” The noun “lips” is a genitive of specification and it functions as a metonymy of cause for speech: sinful talk or sinning by talking. J. H. Greenstone suggests that this refers to litigation; the wicked attempt to involve the innocent (Proverbs, 131).

37 sn J. H. Greenstone suggests that when the wicked become involved in contradictions of testimony, the innocent is freed from the trouble. Another meaning would be that the wicked get themselves trapped by what they say, but the righteous avoid that (Proverbs, 131).

38 tn Heb “fruit of the lips.” The term “fruit” is the implied comparison, meaning what is produced; and “lips” is the metonymy of cause, referring to speech. Proper speech will result in good things.

39 tn Heb “the work of the hands of a man.”

40 tc The Kethib has the Qal imperfect, “will return” to him (cf. NASB); the Qere preserves a Hiphil imperfect, “he/one will restore/render” to him (cf. KJV, ASV). The Qere seems to suggest that someone (God or people) will reward him in kind. Since there is no expressed subject, it may be translated as a passive voice.

41 sn The way of a fool describes a headlong course of actions (“way” is an idiom for conduct) that is not abandoned even when wise advice is offered.

42 sn The fool believes that his own plans and ideas are perfect or “right” (יָשָׁר, yashar); he is satisfied with his own opinion.

43 tn Heb “in his own eyes.”

44 tn Or “a wise person listens to advice” (cf. NIV, NRSV, TEV, CEV, NLT).

45 tn Heb “The fool, at once his vexation is known.” This rhetorically emphatic construction uses an independent nominative absolute, which is then followed by the formal subject with a suffix. The construction focuses attention on “the fool,” then states what is to be said about him.

46 tn Heb “on the day” or “the same day.”

sn The fool is impatient and unwise, and so flares up immediately when anything bothers him. W. McKane says that the fool’s reaction is “like an injured animal and so his opponent knows that he has been wounded” (Proverbs [OTL], 442).

47 tn Heb “shrewd.”

48 tn Heb “covers.” The verb כָּסָה (casah) means “covers” in the sense of ignores or bides his time. The point is not that he does not respond at all, but that he is shrewd enough to handle the criticism or insult in the best way – not instinctively and irrationally.

49 tn The text has “he pours out faithfully”; the word rendered “faithfully” or “reliably” (אֱמוּנָה, ’emunah) is used frequently for giving testimony in court, and so here the subject matter is the reliable witness.

50 tn Heb “righteousness.”

51 tn Heb “witness of falsehoods.” The genitive noun functions attributively, and the plural form depicts habitual action or moral characteristic. This describes a person who habitually lies. A false witness cannot be counted on to help the cause of justice.

52 tn The term “speaks” does not appear in this line but is implied by the parallelism; it is supplied in the translation for clarity and smoothness.

53 tn The term בּוֹטֶה (boteh) means “to speak rashly [or, thoughtlessly]” (e.g., Lev 5:4; Num 30:7).

54 tn Heb “the tongue” (so NAB, NIV, NRSV). The term לָשׁוֹן (lashon, “tongue”) functions as a metonymy of cause for what is said.

55 tn The term “brings” does not appear in the Hebrew but is supplied in the translation for the sake of clarity and smoothness.

56 sn Healing is a metonymy of effect. Healing words are the opposite of the cutting, irresponsible words. What the wise say is faithful and true, gentle and kind, uplifting and encouraging; so their words bring healing.

57 tn Heb “a lip of truth.” The genitive אֱמֶת (’emet, “truth”) functions as an attributive adjective: “truthful lip.” The term שְׂפַת (sÿfat, “lip”) functions as a synecdoche of part (= lip) for the whole (= person): “truthful person.” The contrast is between “the lip of truth” and the “tongue of lying.”

58 tn Heb “a tongue of deceit.” The genitive שָׁקֶר (shaqer, “deceit”) functions as an attributive genitive. The noun לָשׁוֹן (lashon, “tongue”) functions as a synecdoche of part (= tongue) for the whole (= person): “lying person.”

59 tn Heb “while I would twinkle.” This expression is an idiom meaning “only for a moment.” The twinkling of the eye, the slightest movement, signals the brevity of the life of a lie (hyperbole). But truth will be established (תִּכּוֹן, tikon), that is, be made firm and endure.

60 sn The contrast here is between “evil” (= pain and calamity) and “peace” (= social wholeness and well-being); see, e.g., Pss 34:14 and 37:37.

61 tn Heb “those who are counselors of peace.” The term שָׁלוֹם (shalom, “peace”) is an objective genitive, so the genitive-construct “counselors of peace” means those who advise, advocate or promote peace (cf. NAB, NIV).

62 tn Heb “is not allowed to meet to the righteous.”

63 tn Heb “all calamity.” The proper nuance of אָוֶן (’aven) is debated. It is normally understood metonymically (effect) as “harm; trouble,” that is, the result/effect of wickedness (e.g., Gen 50:20). Rashi, a Jewish scholar who lived a.d. 1040-1105, took it as “wickedness,” its primary meaning; “the righteous will not be caught up in wickedness.”

64 tn The expression רָע מָלְאוּ (malÿu ra’, “to be full of evil”) means (1) the wicked do much evil or (2) the wicked experience much calamity (cf. NAB, NIV, NRSV, NLT).

65 tn Heb “an abomination of the Lord.” The term יְהוָה (yÿhvah, “the Lord”) is a subjective genitive.

66 tn Heb “lips of lying.” The genitive שָׁקֶר (shaqer, “lying”) functions as an attributive genitive: “lying lips.” The term “lips” functions as a synecdoche of part (= lips) for the whole (= person): “a liar.”

67 tn Heb “but doers of truthfulness.” The term “truthfulness” is an objective genitive, meaning: “those who practice truth” or “those who act in good faith.” Their words and works are reliable.

68 sn The contrast between “delight/pleasure” and “abomination” is emphatic. What pleases the Lord is acting truthfully or faithfully.

69 tn Heb “a shrewd man” (so NAB); KJV, NIV “a prudent man”; NRSV “One who is clever.”

sn A shrewd person knows how to use knowledge wisely, and restrains himself from revealing all he knows.

70 sn The term כֹּסֶה (koseh, “covers; hides”) does not mean that he never shares his knowledge, but discerns when it is and is not appropriate to speak.

71 tn Heb “the heart of fools.” The term לֵב (lev, “heart”) functions as a synecdoche of part (= heart) for the whole (= person): “foolish people.” This type of fool despises correction and instruction. His intent is to proclaim all that he does – which is folly. W. McKane says that the more one speaks, the less likely he is able to speak effectively (Proverbs [OTL], 422). Cf. TEV “stupid people advertise their ignorance”; NLT “fools broadcast their folly.”

72 sn The noun אִוֶּלֶת (’ivvelet, “foolishness; folly”) is the antithesis of perception and understanding. It is related to the noun אֱוִּיל (’evvil, “fool”), one who is morally bad because he despises wisdom and discipline, mocks at guilt, is licentious and quarrelsome, and is almost impossible to rebuke.

73 tn The term חָרַץ (kharats, “diligent”) means (1) literally: “to cut; to sharpen,” (2) figurative: “to decide” and “to be diligent. It is used figuratively in Proverbs for diligence. The semantic development of the figure may be understood thus: “cut, sharpen” leads to “act decisively” which leads to “be diligent.” By their diligent work they succeed to management. The diligent rise to the top, while the lazy sink to the bottom.

74 tn Heb “the hand of the diligent.” The term “hand” is a synecdoche of part (= hand) for the whole (= person): diligent person. The hand is emphasized because it is the instrument of physical labor; it signifies the actions and the industry of a diligent person – what his hand does.

75 tn Heb “deceitful.” The term refers to one who is not diligent; this person tries to deceive his master about his work, which he has neglected.

76 tn Heb “will be for slave labor.” The term מַס (mas, “slave labor”) refers to a person forced into labor from slavery.

77 tn The word “anxiety” (דְּאָגָה, dÿagah) combines anxiety and fear – anxious fear (e.g., Jer 49:23; Ezek 4:16); and for the verb (e.g., Ps 38:18; Jer 17:8).

78 tn Heb “the heart of a man.”

79 tn Heb “bows it [= his heart] down.” Anxiety weighs heavily on the heart, causing depression. The spirit is brought low.

80 tn Heb “good.” The Hebrew word “good” (טוֹב, tov) refers to what is beneficial for life, promotes life, creates life or protects life. The “good word” here would include encouragement, kindness, and insight – the person needs to regain the proper perspective on life and renew his confidence.

81 tn Heb “makes it [= his heart] glad.” The similarly sounding terms יַשְׁחֶנָּה (yashkhennah, “weighs it down”) and יְשַׂמְּחֶנָּה (yÿsammÿkhennah, “makes it glad”) create a wordplay (paronomasia) that dramatically emphasizes the polar opposite emotional states: depression versus joy.

82 tn The line has several possible translations: (1) The verb יָתֵר (yater) can mean “to spy out; to examine,” which makes a good contrast to “lead astray” in the parallel colon. (2) יָתֵר could be the Hophal of נָתַר (natar, Hiphil “to set free”; Hophal “to be set free”): “the righteous is delivered from harm” [reading mera`ah] (J. A. Emerton, “A Note on Proverbs 12:26,” ZAW 76 [1964]: 191-93). (3) Another option is, “the righteous guides his friend aright” (cf. NRSV, NLT).

83 tc The MT reads יַחֲרֹךְ (yakharokh) from II חָרַךְ (kharakh, “to roast”?). On the other hand, several versions (LXX, Syriac, Vulgate) reflect a Hebrew Vorlage of יַדְרִיךְ (yadrikh) from דָרַךְ (darakh, “to gain”), meaning: “a lazy person cannot catch his prey” (suggested by Gemser; cf. NAB). The MT is the more difficult reading, being a hapax legomenon, and therefore should be retained; the versions are trying to make sense out of a rare expression.

tn The verb II חָרַךְ (kharakh) is a hapax legomenon, appearing in the OT only here. BDB suggests that it means “to start; to set in motion” (BDB 355 s.v.). The related Aramaic and Syriac verb means “to scorch; to parch,” and the related Arabic verb means “to roast; to scorch by burning”; so it may mean “to roast; to fry” (HALOT 353 s.v. I חרך). The lazy person can’t be bothered cooking what he has hunted. The Midrash sees an allusion to Jacob and Esau in Genesis 25. M. Dahood translates it: “the languid man will roast no game for himself, but the diligent will come on the wealth of the steppe” (“The Hapax harak in Proverbs 12:27,” Bib 63 [1982]: 60-62). This hyperbole means that the lazy person does not complete a project.

84 tn Heb “the wealth of a man.”

85 tc The consonants אל־מות (’l-mvt) are vocalized by the MT as אַל־מָוֶת (’al-mavet, “no death”), meaning: “the journey of her path is no-death” = immortality. However, many medieval Hebrew mss and all the versions vocalize it as אֶל־מָוֶת (’el-mavet, “to death”), meaning: “but another path leads to death” (cf. NAB, NCV). W. McKane adopts this reading, and suggests that MT is a scribal change toward eternal life (Proverbs [OTL], 451-52). Others adopt this reading because they do not find the term “life” used in Proverbs for eternal life, nor do they find references to immortality elsewhere in Proverbs.

tn Heb “no death.” This phrase may mean “immortality.” Those who enter the path of righteousness by faith and seek to live righteously are on their way to eternal life. However, M. Dahood suggests that it means permanence (“Immortality in Proverbs 12:28,” Bib 41 [1960]: 176-81).



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