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Proverbs 15:14

Context

15:14 The discerning heart seeks knowledge,

but the mouth of fools feeds on folly. 1 

Proverbs 15:24

Context

15:24 The path of life is upward 2  for the wise person, 3 

to 4  keep him from going downward to Sheol. 5 

1 tn The idea expressed in the second colon does not make a strong parallelism with the first with its emphasis on seeking knowledge. Its poetic image of feeding (a hypocatastasis) would signify the acquisition of folly – the fool has an appetite for it. D. W. Thomas suggests the change of one letter, ר (resh) to ד (dalet), to obtain a reading יִדְעֶה (yideh); this he then connects to an Arabic root da`a with the meaning “sought, demanded” to form what he thinks is a better parallel (“Textual and Philological Notes on Some Passages in the Book of Proverbs,” VTSup 3 [1955]: 285). But even though the parallelism is not as precise as some would prefer, there is insufficient warrant for such a change.

2 tn There is disagreement over the meaning of the term translated “upward.” The verse is usually taken to mean that “upward” is a reference to physical life and well-being (cf. NCV), and “going down to Sheol” is a reference to physical death, that is, the grave, because the concept of immortality is said not to appear in the book of Proverbs. The proverb then would mean that the wise live long and healthy lives. But W. McKane argues (correctly) that “upwards” in contrast to Sheol, does not fit the ways of describing the worldly pattern of conduct and that it is only intelligible if taken as a reference to immortality (Proverbs [OTL], 480). The translations “upwards” and “downwards” are not found in the LXX. This has led some commentators to speculate that these terms were not found in the original, but were added later, after the idea of immortality became prominent. However, this is mere speculation.

3 tn Heb “to the wise [man],” because the form is masculine.

4 tn The term לְמַעַן (lemaan, “in order to”) introduces a purpose clause; the path leads upward in order to turn the wise away from Sheol.

5 tn Heb “to turn from Sheol downward”; cf. NAB “the nether world below.”



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