13:9 The light 1 of the righteous shines brightly, 2
but the lamp 3 of the wicked goes out. 4
20:20 The one who curses 5 his father and his mother,
his lamp 6 will be extinguished in the blackest 7 darkness.
24:20 for the evil person has no future, 8
and the lamp of the wicked will be extinguished. 9
1 sn The images of “light” and “darkness” are used frequently in scripture. Here “light” is an implied comparison: “light” represents life, joy, and prosperity; “darkness” signifies adversity and death. So the “light of the righteous” represents the prosperous life of the righteous.
2 tn The verb יִשְׂמָח (yismah) is normally translated “to make glad; to rejoice.” But with “light” as the subject, it has the connotation “to shine brightly” (see G. R. Driver, “Problems in the Hebrew Text of Proverbs,” Bib 32 : 180).
3 sn The lamp is an implied comparison as well, comparing the life of the wicked to a lamp that is going to be extinguished.
4 tc The LXX adds, “Deceitful souls go astray in sins, but the righteous are pitiful and merciful.”
tn The verb דָּעַךְ (da’akh) means “to go out [in reference to a fire or lamp]; to be extinguished.” The idea is that of being made extinct, snuffed out (cf. NIV, NLT). The imagery may have been drawn from the sanctuary where the flame was to be kept burning perpetually. Not so with the wicked.
5 tn The form is the Piel participle of קָלַל (qalal), which means “to be light”; in the Piel stem it means “to take lightly; to treat as worthless; to treat contemptuously; to curse.” Under the Mosaic law such treatment of parents brought a death penalty (Exod 21:17; Lev 20:9; Deut 27:16).
6 tn “His lamp” is a figure known as hypocatastasis (an implied comparison) meaning “his life.” Cf. NLT “the lamp of your life”; TEV “your life will end like a lamp.”
sn For the lamp to be extinguished would mean death (e.g., 13:9) and possibly also the removal of posterity (R. N. Whybray, Proverbs [CBC], 115).
7 tc The Kethib, followed by the LXX, Syriac, and Latin, has בְּאִישׁוֹן (bÿ’ishon), “in the pupil of the eye darkness,” the dark spot of the eye. But the Qere has בֶּאֱשׁוּן (be’eshun), probably to be rendered “pitch” or “blackest,” although the form occurs nowhere else. The meaning with either reading is approximately the same – deep darkness, which adds vividly to the figure of the lamp being snuffed out. This individual’s destruction will be total and final.
8 tn Heb “there is no end [i.e., future] for the evil.”
9 sn The saying warns against envying the wicked; v. 19 provides the instruction, and v. 20 the motivation. The motivation is that there is no future hope for them – nothing to envy, or as C. H. Toy explains, there will be no good outcome for their lives (Proverbs [ICC], 449). They will die suddenly, as the implied comparison with the lamp being snuffed out signifies.