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Proverbs 10:20-21

Context

10:20 What the righteous say 1  is like 2  the best 3  silver,

but what the wicked think 4  is of little value. 5 

10:21 The teaching 6  of the righteous feeds 7  many,

but fools die 8  for lack of wisdom. 9 

1 tn Heb “the lips of the righteous.” The term “lips” functions as a metonymy of cause for speech. This contrasts the tongue (metonymy of cause for what they say) with the heart (metonymy of subject for what they intend). What the righteous say is more valuable than what the wicked intend.

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

3 tn Or “pure”; Heb “choice.”

4 tn Heb “the heart of the wicked” (so KJV, NAB, NIV). The term “heart” functions as a metonymy of cause for thoughts. The term לֵב (lev, “heart”) often refers to the seat of thoughts, will and emotions (BDB 524 s.v. 3-4).

5 tn Heb “like little.” This expression refers to what has little value: “little worth” (so KJV, NAB, NRSV; cf. BDB 590 s.v. מְעַט 2.d). The point of the metaphor is clarified by the parallelism: Silver is valuable; the heart of the wicked is worth little. Tg. Prov 10:20 says it was full of dross, a contrast with choice silver.

6 tn Heb “lips.” The term “lips” functions as a metonymy of cause for what is said (or in this case taught).

7 tn The verb רָעָה (raah) means “to feed” or “to shepherd” (e.g., Gen 48:15). What they say will meet the needs of many.

8 tn In what sense the fool “dies” is unclear. Fools ruin their lives and the lives of others by their lack of discipline and knowledge. The contrast is between enhancing life and ruining life.

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



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