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Proverbs 1:15-19

Context

1:15 My child, do not go down 1  their way, 2 

withhold yourself 3  from their path; 4 

1:16 for they 5  are eager 6  to inflict harm, 7 

and they hasten 8  to shed blood. 9 

1:17 Surely it is futile to spread 10  a net

in plain sight of 11  any bird, 12 

1:18 but these men lie in wait for their own blood, 13 

they ambush their own lives! 14 

1:19 Such 15  are the ways 16  of all who gain profit unjustly; 17 

it 18  takes away the life 19  of those who obtain it! 20 

Proverbs 3:31-33

Context

3:31 Do not envy a violent man, 21 

and do not choose to imitate 22  any of his ways;

3:32 for one who goes astray 23  is an abomination 24  to the Lord,

but he reveals 25  his intimate counsel 26  to the upright.

3:33 The Lord’s curse 27  is on the household 28  of the wicked, 29 

but he blesses 30  the home 31  of the righteous. 32 

Proverbs 4:19

Context

4:19 The way of the wicked is like gloomy darkness; 33 

they do not know what causes them to stumble. 34 

1 tn Heb “do not walk.”

2 tn Heb “in the way with them.”

3 tn Heb “your foot.” The term “foot” (רֶגֶל, regel) is a synecdoche of part (= your foot) for the whole person (= yourself).

4 sn The word “path” (נְתִיבָה, nÿtivah) like the word “way” (דֶּרֶךְ, derekh) is used as an idiom (developed from a hypocatastasis), meaning “conduct, course of life.”

5 tn Heb “their feet.” The term “feet” is a synecdoche of the part (= their feet) for the whole person (= they), stressing the eagerness of the robbers.

6 tn Heb “run.” The verb רוּץ (ruts, “run”) functions here as a metonymy of association, meaning “to be eager” to do something (BDB 930 s.v.).

7 tn Heb “to harm.” The noun רַע (ra’) has a four-fold range of meanings: (1) “pain, harm” (Prov 3:30), (2) “calamity, disaster” (13:21), (3) “distress, misery” (14:32) and (4) “moral evil” (8:13; see BDB 948-49 s.v.). The parallelism with “swift to shed blood” suggests it means “to inflict harm, injury.”

8 tn The imperfect tense verbs may be classified as habitual or progressive imperfects describing their ongoing continual activity.

9 tc The BHS editors suggest deleting this entire verse from MT because it does not appear in several versions (Codex B of the LXX, Coptic, Arabic) and is similar to Isa 59:7a. It is possible that it was a scribal gloss (intentional addition) copied into the margin from Isaiah. But this does not adequately explain the differences. It does fit the context well enough to be original.

10 tn Heb “for the net to be spread out.” The Pual participle of זָרָה (zarah) means “to be spread” (HALOT 280 s.v. I זרה pu.1). The subject of this verbal use of the participle is the noun הָרָשֶׁת (harashet, “the net”). It is futile for the net to be spread out in plain view of birds.

11 tn Heb “in the eyes of.”

sn This means either: (1) Spreading a net in view of birds is futile because birds will avoid the trap; but the wicked are so blind that they fail to see danger; or (2) it does not matter if a net is spread because birds are so hungry they will eat anyway and be trapped; the wicked act in a similar way.

12 tn Heb “all of the possessors of wings.”

13 sn They think that they are going to shed innocent blood, but in their blindness they do not realize that it is their own blood they shed. Their greed will lead to their destruction. This is an example of ironic poetic justice. They do not intend to destroy themselves; but this is what they accomplish.

14 tn Heb “their own souls.” The term נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh, “soul”) is used as a metonymy (= soul) of association (= life). The noun נֶפֶשׁ often refers to physical “life” (Exod 21:23; Num 17:3; Judg 5:18; Prov 12:10; BDB 659 s.v. 3.c).

15 tn The exclamation כֵּן (ken, “so; thus; such”) marks a conclusion (BDB 485 s.v.). It draws a comparison between the destruction of the wicked in v. 18 and the concluding statement in v. 19.

16 tc The MT reads אָרְחוֹת (’orkhot, “paths; ways” as figure for mode of life): “so are the ways [or, paths] of all who gain profit unjustly.” The BHS editors suggest emending the text to אַחֲרִית (’akharit, “end” as figure for their fate) by simple metathesis between ח (khet) and ר (resh) and by orthographic confusion between י (yod) and ו (vav), both common scribal errors: “so is the fate of all who gain profit unjustly.” The external evidence supports MT, which is also the more difficult reading. It adequately fits the context which uses “way” and “path” imagery throughout 1:10-19.

17 tn Heb “those who unjustly gain unjust gain.” The participle בֹּצֵעַ (boysea’, “those who unjustly gain”) is followed by the cognate accusative of the same root בָּצַע (batsa’, “unjust gain”) to underscore the idea that they gained their wealth through heinous criminal activity.

sn The verb followed by the cognate noun usually means seeking gain in an unjust way (1 Sam 8:3), or for selfish purposes (Gen 37:26), or gaining by violence. The word may have the sense of covetousness.

18 tn The subject of the verb is the noun בָּצַע (“unjust gain”), which is also the referent of the 3rd person masculine singular suffix on בְּעָלָיו (bÿalav, “its owners”). Greed takes away the life of those who live by greed (e.g., 15:27; 26:27). See G. R. Driver, “Problems in the Hebrew Text of Proverbs,” Bib 32 (1951): 173-74.

19 tn The term נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh, “soul”) is used as a metonymy (= soul) of association (= life). The noun נֶפֶשׁ often refers to physical “life” (Exod 21:23; Num 17:3; Judg 5:18; Prov 12:10; BDB 659 s.v. 3.c).

20 tn Heb “its owners.”

21 tn Heb “a man of violence.” The noun חָמָס (khamas, “violence”) functions as an attributive genitive. The word itself means “violence, wrong” (HALOT 329 s.v.) and refers to physical violence, social injustice, harsh treatment, wild ruthlessness, injurious words, hatred, and general rudeness (BDB 329 s.v.).

22 tn Heb “do not choose.”

23 tn The basic meaning of the verb לוּז (luz) is “to turn aside; to depart” (BDB 531 s.v.). The Niphal stem is always used figuratively of moral apostasy from the path of righteousness: (1) “to go astray” (Prov 2:15; 3:32; 14:2) and (2) “crookedness” in action (Isa 30:12; see HALOT 522 s.v. לוז nif; BDB 531 s.v. Niph).

24 tn Heb “abomination of the Lord.” The term יְהוָה (yÿhvah, “the Lord”) functions as a genitive of respect: “abomination to the Lord.” It is loathsome or detestable to him. Things that are repugnant to the Lord are usually the most heinous of crimes and gross violations of rituals.

25 tn Heb “but with the upright is his intimate counsel.” The phrase “he reveals” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for the sake of smoothness and clarity.

26 tn Heb “his counsel.” The noun סוֹד (sod) can refer to (1) “intimate circle” of friends and confidants, (2) “confidential discussion” among friends and confidants, or “secret counsel” revealed from one confidant to another and kept secret and (3) relationship of “intimacy” with a person (BDB 691 s.v.; HALOT 745 s.v.). God reveals his secret counsel to the heavenly assembly (Job 15:8; Jer 23:18, 22) and his prophets (Amos 3:7). God has brought the angels into his “intimate circle” (Ps 89:8). Likewise, those who fear the Lord enjoy an intimate relationship with him (Job 29:4; Ps 25:14; Prov 3:32). The perverse are repugnant to the Lord, but he takes the upright into his confidence and brings him into his intimate circle.

27 tn Heb “the curse of the Lord.” This expression features a genitive of possession or source: “the Lord’s curse” or “a curse from the Lord.” The noun מְאֵרַה (mÿerah, “curse”) connotes banishment or separation from the place of blessing. It is the antonym of בְּרָכָה (bÿrakhah, “blessing”). The curse of God brings ruin and failure to crops, land in general, an individual, or the nation (Deut 28:20; Mal 2:2; 3:9; see BDB 76 s.v. מְאֵרַה; HALOT 541 s.v.).

28 tn Heb “house.” The term בֵּית (bet, “house”) functions as a synecdoche of container (= house) for the persons contained (= household). See, e.g., Exod 1:21; Deut 6:22; Josh 22:15 (BDB 109 s.v. 5.a).

29 sn The term “wicked” is singular; the term “righteous” in the second half of the verse is plural. In scripture such changes often hint at God’s reluctance to curse, but eagerness to bless (e.g., Gen 12:3).

30 sn The term “bless” (בָּרַךְ, barakh) is the antithesis of “curse.” A blessing is a gift, enrichment, or endowment. The blessing of God empowers one with the ability to succeed, and brings vitality and prosperity in the material realm, but especially in one’s spiritual relationship with God.

31 tn Heb “habitation.” The noun נָוֶה (naveh, “habitation; abode”), which is the poetic parallel to בֵּית (bet, “house”), usually refers to the abode of a shepherd in the country: “habitation” in the country (BDB 627 s.v. נָוֶה). It functions as a synecdoche of container (= habitation) for the contents (= people in the habitation and all they possess).

32 tn The Hebrew is structured chiastically (AB:BA): “The curse of the Lord / is on the house of the wicked // but the home of the righteous / he blesses.” The word order in the translation is reversed for the sake of smoothness and readability.

33 sn The simile describes ignorance or spiritual blindness, sinfulness, calamity, despair.

34 tn Heb “in what they stumble.”



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