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Proverbs 14

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14:1 Every wise woman 1  builds 2  her household, 3 

but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands.

14:2 The one who walks in his uprightness fears the Lord, 4 

but the one who is perverted in his ways 5  despises him.

14:3 In 6  the speech 7  of a fool is a rod for his back, 8 

but the words 9  of the wise protect them.

14:4 Where there are no oxen, the feeding trough is clean,

but an abundant harvest is produced by strong oxen. 10 

14:5 A truthful witness 11  does not lie,

but a false witness 12  breathes out lies. 13 

14:6 The scorner 14  seeks wisdom but finds none, 15 

but understanding is easy 16  for a discerning person.

14:7 Leave the presence of a foolish person, 17 

or 18  you will not understand 19  wise counsel. 20 

14:8 The wisdom of the shrewd person 21  is to discern 22  his way,

but the folly of fools is deception. 23 

14:9 Fools mock 24  at reparation, 25 

but among the upright there is favor. 26 

14:10 The heart knows its own bitterness, 27 

and with its joy no one else 28  can share. 29 

14:11 The household 30  of the wicked will be destroyed,

but the tent 31  of the upright will flourish.

14:12 There is a way that seems right to a person, 32 

but its end is the way that leads to death. 33 

14:13 Even in laughter the heart may ache, 34 

and the end 35  of joy may be 36  grief.

14:14 The backslider 37  will be paid back 38  from his own ways,

but a good person will be rewarded 39  for his.

14:15 A naive person 40  believes everything,

but the shrewd person discerns his steps. 41 

14:16 A wise person is cautious 42  and turns from evil,

but a fool throws off restraint 43  and is overconfident. 44 

14:17 A person who has a quick temper 45  does foolish things,

and a person with crafty schemes 46  is hated. 47 

14:18 The naive inherit 48  folly,

but the shrewd 49  are crowned 50  with knowledge.

14:19 Those who are evil will bow 51  before those who are good,

and the wicked will bow 52  at the gates 53  of the righteous.

14:20 A poor person is disliked 54  even by his neighbors,

but those who love the rich are many.

14:21 The one who despises his neighbor sins,

but whoever is kind to the needy is blessed.

14:22 Do not those who devise 55  evil go astray?

But those who plan good exhibit 56  faithful covenant love. 57 

14:23 In all hard work 58  there is profit,

but merely talking about it 59  only brings 60  poverty. 61 

14:24 The crown of the wise is their riches, 62 

but the folly 63  of fools is folly.

14:25 A truthful witness 64  rescues lives, 65 

but the one who breathes lies brings 66  deception. 67 

14:26 In the fear of the Lord one has 68  strong confidence, 69 

and it will be a refuge 70  for his children.

14:27 The fear of the Lord 71  is like 72  a life-giving fountain, 73 

to turn 74  people 75  from deadly snares. 76 

14:28 A king’s glory is 77  the abundance of people,

but the lack of subjects 78  is the ruin 79  of a ruler.

14:29 The one who is slow to anger has great understanding,

but the one who has a quick temper 80  exalts 81  folly.

14:30 A tranquil spirit 82  revives the body, 83 

but envy 84  is rottenness to the bones. 85 

14:31 The one who oppresses 86  the poor insults 87  his Creator,

but whoever shows favor 88  to the needy honors him.

14:32 The wicked will be thrown down in his trouble, 89 

but the righteous have refuge 90  even in the threat of death. 91 

14:33 Wisdom rests in the heart of the discerning;

it is known 92  even in the heart 93  of fools.

14:34 Righteousness exalts 94  a nation,

but sin is a disgrace 95  to any people.

14:35 The king shows favor 96  to a wise 97  servant,

but his wrath falls 98  on one who acts shamefully.

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1 tn Heb “wise ones of women.” The construct phrase חַכְמוֹת נָשִׁים (khakhmot nashim) features a wholistic genitive: “wise women.” The plural functions in a distributive sense: “every wise woman.” The contrast is between wise and foolish women (e.g., Prov 7:10-23; 31:10-31).

2 tn The perfect tense verb in the first colon functions in a gnomic sense, while the imperfect tense in the second colon is a habitual imperfect.

3 tn Heb “house.” This term functions as a synecdoche of container (= house) for contents (= household, family).

4 tn Heb “fear of the Lord.” The term יְהוָה (yÿhvah, “the Lord”) functions as an objective genitive.

5 tn Heb “crooked of ways”; NRSV “devious in conduct.” This construct phrase features a genitive of specification: “crooked in reference to his ways.” The term “ways” is an idiom for moral conduct. The evidence that people fear the Lord is uprightness; the evidence of those who despise him is the devious ways.

6 tn The preposition בְּ (bet) may denote (1) exchange: “in exchange for” foolish talk there is a rod; or (2) cause: “because of” foolish talk.

7 sn The noun פֶּה (peh, “mouth”) functions as a metonymy of cause for what is said (“speech, words, talk”).

8 tc The MT reads גַּאֲוָה (gaavah, “pride”) which creates an awkward sense “in the mouth of a fool is a rod of pride” (cf. KJV, ASV). The BHS editors suggest emending the form to גֵּוֹה (“disciplining-rod”) to create tighter parallelism and irony: “in the mouth of a fool is a rod for the back” (e.g., Prov 10:13). What the fools says will bring discipline.

tn Heb “a rod of back.” The noun גֵּוֹה functions as a genitive of specification: “a rod for his back.” The fool is punished because of what he says.

9 tn Heb “lips.” The term “lips” is a metonymy of cause, meaning what they say. The wise by their speech will find protection.

10 tn Heb “the strength of oxen.” The genitive שׁוֹר (shor, “oxen”) functions as an attributed genitive: “strong oxen.” Strong oxen are indispensable for a good harvest, and for oxen to be strong they must be well-fed. The farmer has to balance grain consumption with the work oxen do.

11 tn Heb “a witness of faithfulness.” The genitive functions in an attributive sense: “faithful witness” (so KJV, NRSV); TEV “reliable witness.”

12 tn Heb “a witness of falsehood.” The genitive functions in an attributive sense: “false witness.”

13 sn This saying addresses the problem of legal testimony: A faithful witness does not lie, but a false witness does lie – naturally. The first colon uses the verb כָּזַב (kazav, “to lie”) and the second colon uses the noun כָּזָב (kazav, “lie; falsehood”).

14 sn The “scorner” (לֵץ, lets) is intellectually arrogant; he lacks any serious interest in knowledge or religion. He pursues wisdom in a superficial way so that he can appear wise. The acquisition of wisdom is conditioned by one’s attitude toward it (J. H. Greenstone, Proverbs, 149).

15 tn Heb “and there is not.”

16 sn The Niphal of קָלַל (qalal) means “to appear light; to appear trifling; to appear easy.”

17 tn Heb “a man, a stupid fellow.”

18 tn Heb “and.” The vav (ו) that introduces this clause may be understood as meaning “or….”

19 tc The MT reads וּבַל־יָדַעְתָּ (uval-yadata, “you did not know [the lips of knowledge]).” It must mean that one should leave the fool because he did not receive knowledge from what fools said. Tg. Prov 14:7 freely interprets the verse: “for there is no knowledge on his lips.” The LXX reflects a Hebrew Vorlage of וּכְלֵי־דַעַת (ukhÿle-daat, “[wise lips] are weapons of discretion”). The textual variant involves wrong word division and orthographic confusion between ב (bet) and כ (kaf). C. H. Toy emends the text: “for his lips do not utter knowledge” as in 15:7 (Proverbs [ICC], 285). The MT is workable and more difficult.

20 tn Heb “lips of knowledge” (so KJV, ASV). “Lips” is the metonymy of cause, and “knowledge” is an objective genitive (speaking knowledge) or attributive genitive (knowledgeable speech): “wise counsel.”

21 tn Or “the prudent [person]” (cf. KJV, NASB, NIV).

22 tn The Hiphil infinitive construct denotes purpose. Those who are shrewd will use it to give careful consideration to all their ways.

23 tn The word means “deception,” but some suggest “self-deception” here (W. McKane, Proverbs [OTL], 466; and D. W. Thomas, “Textual and Philological Notes on Some Passages in the Book of Proverbs,” VTSup 3 [1955]: 286); cf. NLT “fools deceive themselves.” The parallelism would favor this, but there is little support for it. The word usually means “craft practiced on others.” If the line is saying the fool is deceitful, there is only a loose antithesis between the cola.

24 tn The noun “fools” is plural but the verb “mock” is singular. This has led some to reverse the line to say “guilty/guilt offering mocks fools” (C. H. Toy, Proverbs [ICC], 287); see, e.g., Isa 1:14; Amos 5:22. But lack of agreement between subject and verb is not an insurmountable difficulty.

25 tc The LXX reads “houses of transgressors will owe purification.” Tg. Prov 14:9 has “guilt has its home among fools” (apparently reading לִין לוּן, lin lun).

tn Heb “guilt.” The word אָשָׁם (’asham) has a broad range of meanings: “guilt; reparation.” According to Leviticus, when someone realized he was guilty he would bring a “reparation offering,” a sin offering with an additional tribute for restitution (Lev 5:1-6). It would be left up to the guilty to come forward; it was for the kind of thing that only he would know, for which his conscience would bother him. Fools mock any need or attempt to make things right, to make restitution (cf. NIV, NRSV, NCV, TEV).

26 tn The word רָצוֹן (ratson) means “favor; acceptance; pleasing.” It usually means what is pleasing or acceptable to God. In this passage it either means that the upright try to make amends, or that the upright find favor for doing so.

27 tn Heb “bitterness of its soul.”

28 tn Heb “stranger” (so KJV, NASB, NRSV).

29 tn The verb is the Hitpael of II עָרַב (’arav), which means “to take in pledge; to give in pledge; to exchange.” Here it means “to share [in].” The proverb is saying that there are joys and sorrows that cannot be shared. No one can truly understand the deepest feelings of another.

30 tn Heb “house.” The term “house” is a metonymy of subject, referring to their contents: families and family life.

sn Personal integrity ensures domestic stability and prosperity, while lack of such integrity (= wickedness) will lead to the opposite.

31 tn The term “tent” is a metonymy here referring to the contents of the tent: families.

32 tn Heb “which is straight before a man.”

sn The proverb recalls the ways of the adulterous woman in chapters 1-9, and so the translation of “man” is retained. The first line does not say that the “way” that seems right is “vice,” but the second line clarifies that. The individual can rationalize all he wants, but the result is still the same. The proverb warns that any evil activity can take any number of ways (plural) to destruction.

33 tn Heb “the ways of death” (so KJV, ASV). This construct phrase features a genitive of destiny: “ways that lead to [or, end in] death.” Here death means ruin (e.g., Prov 7:27; 16:25). The LXX adds “Hades,” but the verse seems to be concerned with events of this life.

34 sn No joy is completely free of grief. There is a joy that is superficial and there is underlying pain that will remain after the joy is gone.

35 tn Heb “and its end, joy, is grief.” The suffix may be regarded as an Aramaism, a proleptic suffix referring to “joy.”

36 tn The phrase “may be” is not in the Hebrew but is supplied from the parallelism, which features an imperfect of possibility.

37 tn Heb “a turning away of heart.” The genitive לֵב (lev, “heart”) functions as an attributive adjective: “a backslidden heart.” The term סוּג (sug) means “to move away; to move backwards; to depart; to backslide” (BDB 690 s.v. I סוּג). This individual is the one who backslides, that is, who departs from the path of righteousness.

38 tn Heb “will be filled”; cf. KJV, ASV. The verb (“to be filled, to be satisfied”) here means “to be repaid,” that is, to partake in his own evil ways. His faithlessness will come back to haunt him.

39 tn The phrase “will be rewarded” does not appear in the Hebrew but is supplied in the translation for the sake of clarity and smoothness.

40 sn The contrast is with the simpleton and the shrewd. The simpleton is the young person who is untrained morally or intellectually, and therefore gullible. The shrewd one is the prudent person, the one who has the ability to make critical discriminations.

41 tn Heb “his step”; cf. TEV “sensible people watch their step.”

42 tn Heb “fears.” Since the holy name (Yahweh, translated “the Lord”) is not used, it probably does not here mean fear of the Lord, but of the consequences of actions.

43 tn The Hitpael of עָבַר (’avar, “to pass over”) means “to pass over the bounds of propriety; to act insolently” (BDB 720 s.v.; cf. ASV “beareth himself insolently”).

44 tn The verb בָּטַח here denotes self-assurance or overconfidence. Fools are not cautious and do not fear the consequences of their actions.

45 sn The proverb discusses two character traits that are distasteful to others – the quick tempered person (“short of anger” or impatient) and the crafty person (“man of devices”). C. H. Toy thinks that the proverb is antithetical and renders it “but a wise man endures” (Proverbs [ICC], 292). In other words, the quick-tempered person acts foolishly and loses people’s respect, but the wise man does not.

46 tn Heb “a man of devices.”

47 tc The LXX reads “endures” (from נָשָׂא, nasa’) rather than “is hated” (from שָׂנֵא, sane’). This change seems to have arisen on the assumption that a contrast was needed. It has: “a man of thought endures.” Other versions take מְזִמּוֹת (mÿzimmot) in a good sense; but antithetical parallelism is unwarranted here.

48 tc G. R. Driver, however, proposed reading the verb as “are adorned” from הלה (“Problems in the Hebrew Text of Proverbs,” Bib 32 [1951]: 181). A similar reading is followed by a number of English versions (e.g., NAB, NRSV, NLT).

sn The proverb anticipates what the simple will receive, assuming they remain simpletons.

49 tn Or “prudent” (KJV, NASB, NIV); NRSV, TEV “clever.”

50 tn The meaning of יַכְתִּרוּ (yakhtiru, Hiphil imperfect of כָּתַר, katar) is elusive. It may not mean “to be crowned” or “to crown themselves,” but “to encircle” or “to embrace.” BDB 509 s.v. כָּתַר Hiph suggests “to throw out crowns” (throw out knowledge as a crown) or “to encompass knowledge,” i.e., possess it (parallel to inherit).

51 tn Many versions nuance the perfect tense verb שָׁחַח (shakhakh) as a characteristic perfect. But the proverb suggests that the reality lies in the future. So the verb is best classified as a prophetic perfect (cf. NASB, NIV, CEV, NLT): Ultimately the wicked will acknowledge and serve the righteous – a point the prophets make.

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

53 sn J. H. Greenstone suggests that this means that they are begging for favors (Proverbs, 154).

54 tn Heb “hated.” The verse is just a statement of fact. The verbs “love” and “hate” must be seen in their connotations: The poor are rejected, avoided, shunned – that is, hated; but the rich are sought after, favored, embraced – that is, loved.

55 sn The verb חָרַשׁ (kharash) means (1) literally: “to cut in; to engrave; to plow,” describing the work of a craftsman; and (2) figuratively: “to devise,” describing the mental activity of planning evil (what will harm people) in the first colon, and planning good (what will benefit them) in the second colon.

56 tn The term “exhibit” does not appear in the Hebrew, but is supplied in the translation for clarity and smoothness.

57 tn Heb “loyal-love and truth.” The two terms חֶסֶד וֶאֱמֶת (khesed veemet) often form a hendiadys: “faithful love” or better “faithful covenant love.”

58 sn The Hebrew term עֶצֶב (’etsev, “painful toil; labor”) is first used in scripture in Gen 3:19 to describe the effects of the Fall. The point here is that people should be more afraid of idle talk than of hard labor.

59 tn Heb “word of lips.” This construct phrase features a genitive of source (“a word from the lips”) or a subjective genitive (“speaking a word”). Talk without work (which produces nothing) is contrasted with labor that produces something.

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

61 sn The noun מַחְסוֹר (makhsor, “need; thing needed; poverty”) comes from the verb “to lack; to be lacking; to decrease; to need.” A person given to idle talk rather than industrious work will have needs that go unmet.

62 sn C. H. Toy suggests that this line probably means that wealth is an ornament to those who use it well (Proverbs [ICC], 269). J. H. Greenstone suggests that it means that the wisdom of the wise, which is their crown of glory, constitutes their wealth (Proverbs, 155).

63 tc The MT reads אִוֶלֶת (’ivelet, “folly”). The editors of BHS propose emending the text to וְלִוְיַת (vÿlivyat, “but the wealth”), as suggested by the LXX. See M. Rotenberg, “The Meaning of אִוֶּלֶת in Proverbs,” LesŒ 25 (1960-1961): 201. A similar emendation is followed by NAB (“the diadem”) and NRSV (“the garland”).

64 tn Heb “a witness of truth”; cf. CEV “an honest witness.”

65 tn The noun נְפָשׁוֹת (nÿfashot) often means “souls,” but here “lives” – it functions as a metonymy for life (BDB 659 s.v. נֶפֶשׁ 3.c).

sn The setting of this proverb is the courtroom. One who tells the truth “saves” (מַצִּיל [matsil, “rescues; delivers”]) the lives of those falsely accused.

66 tn The term “brings” does not appear in the Hebrew but is supplied in the translation for the sake of clarity. Also possible, “is deceitful.”

67 tc Several commentators suggest emending the text from the noun מִרְמָה (mirmah, “deception”) to the participle מְרַמֶּה (mÿrameh, “destroys”). However, this revocalization is not necessary because the MT makes sense as it stands: A false witness destroys lives.

68 tn Heb “In the fear of the Lord [is] confidence of strength.” The phrase “one has” does not appear in the Hebrew but is supplied in the translation for the sake of smoothness.

69 tn Heb “confidence of strength.” This construct phrase features an attributive genitive: “strong confidence” (so most English versions; NIV “a secure fortress”).

70 sn The fear of the Lord will not only provide security for the parent but will also be a refuge for children. The line recalls Exod 20:5-6 where children will reap the benefits of the righteous parents. The line could also be read as “he [= God] will be a refuge for the children.”

71 sn The verse is similar to Prov 13:14 except that “the fear of the Lord” has replaced “the teaching of the wise.”

72 tn The comparative “like” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is implied by the metaphor; it is supplied for the sake of clarity.

73 tn Heb “fountain of life.”

74 tn The infinitive construct with prefixed ל (lamed) indicates the purpose/result of the first line; it could also function epexegetically, explaining how fear is a fountain: “by turning….”

75 tn The term “people” does not appear in the Hebrew but is supplied in the translation for the sake of smoothness.

76 tn Heb “snares of death” (so KJV, NAB, NIV, NRSV, NLT); CEV “deadly traps.”

77 tn The preposition serves as the beth essentiae – the glory is the abundant population, not in it.

78 tn Heb “people.” Cf. NLT “a dwindling nation.”

79 sn The word means “ruin; destruction,” but in this context it could be a metonymy of effect, the cause being an attack by more numerous people that will bring ruin to the ruler. The proverb is purely a practical and secular saying, unlike some of the faith teachings in salvation history passages.

80 tn Heb “hasty of spirit” (so KJV, ASV); NRSV, NLT “a hasty temper.” One who has a quick temper or a short fuse will be evident to everyone, due to his rash actions.

81 sn The participle “exalts” (מֵרִים, merim) means that this person brings folly to a full measure, lifts it up, brings it to the full notice of everybody.

82 tn Heb “heart of healing.” The genitive מַרְפֵּא (marpe’, “healing”) functions as an attributive adjective: “a healing heart.” The term לֵב (lev, “heart”) is a metonymy for the emotional state of a person (BDB 660 s.v. 6). A healthy spirit is tranquil, bringing peace to the body (J. H. Greenstone, Proverbs, 158).

83 tn Heb “life of the flesh” (so KJV, ASV); NAB, NIV “gives life to the body.”

84 tn The term קִנְאָה (qinah, “envy”) refers to passionate zeal or “jealousy” (so NAB, NCV, TEV, NLT), depending on whether the object is out of bounds or within one’s rights. In the good sense one might be consumed with zeal to defend the institutions of the sanctuary. But as envy or jealousy the word describes an intense and sometimes violent excitement and desire that is never satisfied.

85 tn Heb “rottenness of bones.” The term “bones” may be a synecdoche representing the entire body; it is in contrast with “flesh” of the first colon. One who is consumed with envy finds no tranquility or general sense of health in body or spirit.

86 tn The verb עָשַׁק (’ashaq) normally means “to oppress” (as in many English versions). However, here it might mean “to slander.” See J. A. Emerton, “Notes on Some Passages in the Book of Proverbs,” JTS 20 (1969): 202-22.

87 sn In the Piel this verb has the meaning of “to reproach; to taunt; to say sharp things against” someone (cf. NIV “shows contempt for”). By oppressing the poor one taunts or mistreats God because that person is in the image of God – hence the reference to the “Creator.” To ridicule what God made is to ridicule God himself.

88 sn The phrase “shows favor” is contrasted with the term “oppresses.” To “show favor” means to be gracious to (or treat kindly) those who do not deserve it or cannot repay it. It is treatment that is gratis. This honors God because he commanded it to be done (Prov 14:21; 17:5; 19:17).

89 tn The prepositional phrase must be “in his time of trouble” (i.e., when catastrophe comes). Cf. CEV “In times of trouble the wicked are destroyed.” A wicked person has nothing to fall back on in such times.

90 sn The righteous have hope in a just retribution – they have a place of safety even in death.

91 tc The LXX reads this as “in his integrity,” as if it were בְּתוּמּוֹ (bÿtumo) instead of “in his death” (בְּמוֹתוֹ, bÿmoto). The LXX is followed by some English versions (e.g., NAB “in his honesty,” NRSV “in their integrity,” and TEV “by their integrity”).

tn Heb “in his death.” The term “death” may function as a metonymy of effect for a life-threatening situation.

92 tn The LXX negates the clause, saying it is “not known in fools” (cf. NAB, NRSV, TEV, NLT). Thomas connects the verb to the Arabic root wd` and translates it “in fools it is suppressed.” See D. W. Thomas, “The Root ידע in Hebrew,” JTS 35 (1934): 302-3.

sn The second line may be ironic or sarcastic. The fool, eager to appear wise, blurts out what seems to be wisdom, but in the process turns it to folly. The contrast is that wisdom resides with people who have understanding.

93 tn Heb “in the inner part”; ASV “in the inward part”; NRSV “in the heart of fools.”

94 sn The verb תְּרוֹמֵם (tÿromem, translated “exalts”) is a Polel imperfect; it means “to lift up; to raise up; to elevate.” Here the upright dealings of the leaders and the people will lift up the people. The people’s condition in that nation will be raised.

95 tn The term is the homonymic root II חֶסֶד (khesed, “shame; reproach”; BDB 340 s.v.), as reflected by the LXX translation. Rabbinic exegesis generally took it as I חֶסֶד (“loyal love; kindness”) as if it said, “even the kindness of some nations is a sin because they do it only for a show” (so Rashi, a Jewish scholar who lived a.d. 1040-1105).

96 tn Heb “the favor of a king.” The noun “king” functions as a subjective genitive: “the king shows favor….”

97 sn The wise servant is shown favor, while the shameful servant is shown anger. Two Hiphil participles make the contrast: מַשְׂכִּיל (maskil, “wise”) and מֵבִישׁ (mevish, “one who acts shamefully”). The wise servant is a delight and enjoys the favor of the king because he is skillful and clever. The shameful one botches his duties; his indiscretions and incapacity expose the master to criticism (W. McKane, Proverbs [OTL], 470).

98 tn Heb “is” (so KJV, ASV).



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