26:1 Like snow in summer or rain in harvest,
and under four things it cannot bear up:
under a fool who is stuffed with food, 15
and under a female servant who dispossesses 17 her mistress.
1 tn Heb “a ring of gold.” The noun זָהָב (zahav, “gold”) is a genitive of material; the ring is made out of gold.
2 tn Heb “in a snout of a swine.” A beautiful ornament and a pig are as incongruous as a beautiful woman who has no taste or ethical judgment.
3 tn The verb “is” does not appear in the Hebrew but is supplied in the translation for the sake of clarity and smoothness.
4 tn Heb “turns away [from].”
5 tn Heb “taste.” The term can refer to physical taste (Exod 16:31), intellectual discretion (1 Sam 25:33), or ethical judgment (Ps 119:66). Here it probably means that she has no moral sensibility, no propriety, no good taste – she is unchaste. Her beauty will be put to wrong uses.
6 tn The word יֶתֶר (yeter) could be rendered either “arrogant” (cf. NIV) or “excellent” (cf. KJV, NASB; NLT “eloquent”) because the basic idea of the word is “remainder; excess,” from the verb “be left over.” It describes “lofty” speech (arrogant or excellent) that is not suited for the fool. The Greek version, using pista, seems to support the idea of “excellent,” and makes a contrast: “words that are excellent do not fit a fool.” The idea of arrogance (NIV) fits if it is taken in the sense of lofty, heightened, or excessive language.
7 tn “a lip of excess.” The term “lip” is a metonymy for what is said.
8 sn The “fool” proper, described by the term נָבָל (naval), occurs only here, in v. 21, and in 30:22 in the book. It describes someone who is godless and immoral in an overbearing way (e.g., 1 Sam 25:25; Ps 14:1). A fool should restrain his words lest his foolishness spew out.
9 tn Heb “speech of falsehood”; NRSV “false speech.”
10 sn This “ruler” (KJV, NASB “prince”; NAB “noble”) is a gentleman with a code of honor, to whom truthfulness is second nature (W. McKane, Proverbs [OTL], 507). The word describes one as “inclined, generous, noble” (BDB 622 s.v. נָדִיב). It is cognate to the word for the “free will offering.” So for such a noble person lies are not suited. The argument is from the lesser to the greater – if fools shouldn’t speak lofty things, then honorable people should not lie (or, lofty people should not speak base things).
11 sn “Honor” in this passage probably means respect, external recognition of worth, accolades, advancement to high position, etc. All of these would be out of place with a fool; so the sage is warning against elevating or acclaiming those who are worthless. See also J. A. Emerton, “Notes on Some Passages in the Book of Proverbs,” VT 15 (1965): 271-79.
13 sn The Hebrew verb means “to rage; to quake; to be in tumult.” The sage is using humorous and satirical hyperbole to say that the changes described in the following verses shake up the whole order of life. The sayings assume that the new, elevated status of the individuals was not accompanied by a change in nature. For example, it was not completely unknown in the ancient world for a servant to become king, and in the process begin to behave like a king.
14 sn A servant coming to power could become a tyrant if he is unaccustomed to the use of such power, or he might retain the attitude of a servant and be useless as a leader.
15 tn Heb “filled with food” (so ASV); NASB “satisfied with food”; NAB, NRSV “glutted with food”; CEV “who eats too much”; NLT “who prospers.”
sn The expression stuffed with food probably represents prosperity in general. So the line portrays someone who suddenly comes into wealth, but continues to be boorish and irreligious.
16 tn The Hebrew term means “hated,” from שָׂנֵא (sane’), a feminine passive participle. The text does not say why she is hated; some have speculated that she might be odious (cf. KJV, ASV, NAB) or unattractive, but perhaps she is married to someone incapable of showing love (e.g., Gen 29:31, 33; Deut 21:15; Isa 60:5). Perhaps the strange situation of Jacob was in the mind of the sage, for Leah was described as “hated” (Gen 29:31).
17 tn The verb יָרַשׁ (yarash) means either (1) “to possess; to inherit” or (2) “to dispossess.” Often the process of possessing meant the dispossessing of those already there (e.g., Hagar and Sarah in Gen 16:5; 21:10); another example is the Israelites’ wars against the Canaanites.