but the poor person hears no threat. 3
but a rich man answers harshly. 5
and the borrower is servant 7 to the lender.
1 sn As the word “ransom” (כֹּפֶר, cofer) indicates, the rich are susceptible to kidnapping and robbery. But the poor man pays no attention to blackmail – he does not have money to buy off oppressors. So the rich person is exposed to legal attacks and threats of physical violence and must use his wealth as ransom.
2 tn Heb “the life of a man.”
3 tn The term גְּעָרָה (gÿ’arah) may mean (1) “rebuke” (so KJV, NASB) or (2) “threat” (so NIV; cf. ASV, NRSV, NLT ). If “rebuke” is the sense here, it means that the burdens of society fall on the rich as well as the dangers. But the sense of “threat” better fits the context: The rich are threatened with extortion, but the poor are not (cf. CEV “the poor don’t have that problem”).
4 tn Heb “speaks supplications”; NIV “pleads for mercy.” The poor man has to ask for help because he has no choice (cf. CEV). The Hebrew term תַּחֲנוּן (takhanun) is a “supplication for favor” (related to the verb חָנַן [khanan], “to be gracious; to show favor”). So the poor man speaks, but what he speaks is a request for favor.
5 sn The rich person responds harshly to the request. He has hardened himself against such appeals because of relentless demands. The proverb is an observation saying; it simply describes the way the world generally works, rather than setting this out as the ideal.
6 sn The proverb is making an observation on life. The synonymous parallelism matches “rule over” with “servant” to show how poverty makes people dependent on, or obligated to, others.