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Proverbs 1:18-19

Context

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

they ambush their own lives! 2 

1:19 Such 3  are the ways 4  of all who gain profit unjustly; 5 

it 6  takes away the life 7  of those who obtain it! 8 

1 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.

2 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).

3 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.

4 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.

5 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.

6 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.

7 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).

8 tn Heb “its owners.”



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