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Proverbs 1:20-21

Context
Warning Against Disregarding Wisdom

1:20 Wisdom 1  calls out 2  in the street,

she shouts loudly 3  in the plazas; 4 

1:21 at the head of the noisy 5  streets she calls,

in the entrances of the gates in the city 6  she utters her words: 7 

1 tn The noun חָכְמָה (khokhmah, “wisdom”) is the abstract feminine plural form. It probably functions as a plural of intensity, stressing the all-embracing, elevated wisdom (W. McKane, Proverbs [OTL], 272). As in 8:1-9:11, Wisdom is personified as a righteous woman in 1:20-33.

2 sn The verb רָנַן (ranan, “to cry out, give a ringing cry”) always expresses excitement, whether of joyful praise or lamentable sorrow (BDB 943 s.v.). Here it is an excited summons.

3 tn Heb “she gives her voice.” The expression means to shout loudly (BDB 679 s.v. נָתַן Qal.x).

4 sn The word רְחֹבוֹת (rÿkhovot, “plazas”) refers to the wide plazas or broad open spaces near the gate where all the people assembled. The personification of wisdom as a woman crying out in this place would be a vivid picture of the public appeal to all who pass by.

5 tc MT reads הֹמִיּוֹת (homyyot, “noisy streets”; Qal participle feminine plural from הָמָה [hamah], “to murmur; to roar”), referring to the busy, bustling place where the street branches off from the gate complex. The LXX reads τειχέων (teicewn) which reflects חֹמוֹת (khomot), “walls” (feminine plural noun from חוֹמָה [khomah], “wall”): “She proclaims on the summits of the walls.” MT is preferred because it is the more difficult form. The LXX textual error was caused by simple omission of yod (י). In addition, the LXX expands the verse to read, “she sits at the gates of the princes, at the gates of the city she boldly says.” The shorter MT reading is preferred.

6 sn The phrase “in the city” further defines the area of the entrance just inside the gate complex, the business area. In an ancient Near Eastern city, business dealings and judicial proceedings would both take place in this area.

7 tn Heb “she speaks her words.”



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