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Proverbs 16:21

Context

16:21 The one who is wise in heart 1  is called 2  discerning,

and kind speech 3  increases persuasiveness. 4 

Proverbs 16:24

Context

16:24 Pleasant words are like 5  a honeycomb, 6 

sweet to the soul and healing 7  to the bones.

1 tn Heb “wise of heart” (so NRSV).

2 tn Heb “to the wise of heart it will be called discerning.” This means that the wise of heart, those who make wise decisions (“heart” being the metonymy), will gain a reputation of being the discerning ones.

3 tn Heb “sweetness of lips.” The term “lips” is a metonymy of cause, meaning what is said. It is a genitive of specification. The idea of “sweetness” must be gracious and friendly words. The teaching will be well-received because it is both delightful and persuasive (cf. NIV “pleasant words promote instruction”).

4 tn Heb “teaching” or “receptivity”; KJV “learning”; NIV “instruction.”

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

6 sn The metaphor of honey or the honeycomb is used elsewhere in scripture, notably Ps 19:10 [11]. Honey was used in Israel as a symbol of the delightful and healthy products of the land – “a land flowing with milk and honey” (Deut 6:3).

7 sn Two predicates are added to qualify the metaphor: The pleasant words are “sweet” and “healing.” “Soul” includes in it the appetites, physical and spiritual; and so sweet to the “soul” would summarize all the ways pleasant words give pleasure. “Bones” is a metonymy of subject, the boney framework representing the whole person, body and soul. Pleasant words, like honey, will enliven and encourage the whole person. One might recall, in line with the imagery here, how Jonathan’s eyes brightened when he ate from the honeycomb (1 Sam 14:27).



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