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Proverbs 1:20-23

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 

1:22 “How long will you simpletons 8  love naiveté? 9 

How long 10  will mockers 11  delight 12  in mockery 13 

and fools 14  hate knowledge?

1:23 If only 15  you will respond 16  to my rebuke, 17 

then 18  I will pour 19  out my thoughts 20  to you

and 21  I will make 22  my words known to you.

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.”

8 tn Wisdom addresses three types of people: simpletons (פְּתָיִם, pÿtayim), scoffers (לֵצִים, letsim) and fools (כְּסִילִים, kÿsilim). For the term “simpleton” see note on 1:4. Each of these three types of people is satisfied with the life being led and will not listen to reason. See J. A. Emerton, “A Note on the Hebrew Text of Proverbs 1:22-23,” JTS 19 (1968): 609-14.

9 tn Heb “simplicity” (so KJV, NASB); NAB “inanity.” The noun פֶּתִי (peti) means “simplicity; lack of wisdom” (BDB 834 s.v.; HALOT 989 s.v. II פֶּתִי). It is related to the term פְּתָיִם (pÿtayim) “simpletons” and so forms a striking wordplay. This lack of wisdom and moral simplicity is inherent in the character of the naive person.

10 tn The second instance of “How long?” does not appear in the Hebrew text; it is supplied in the translation for smoothness and style.

11 sn The term לֵצִים (leysim, “scoffers; mockers”) comes from the root לִיץ (lits, “to scorn; to mock; to speak indirectly” (BDB 539 s.v. לִיץ). They are cynical and defiant freethinkers who ridicule the righteous and all for which they stand (e.g., Ps 1:1).

12 tn Heb “delight.” The verb (חָמַד, khamad) is often translated “to take pleasure; to delight” but frequently has the meaning of a selfish desire, a coveting of something. It is the term, for example, used for coveting in the Decalogue (Exod 20:17; Deut 5:21) and for the covetous desire of Eve (Gen 3:6) and Achan (Josh 7:21). It is tempting to nuance it here as “illicit desire” for mockery.

13 tn Heb “for themselves.” The ethical dative לָהֶם (lahem, “for themselves”) is normally untranslated. It is a rhetorical device emphasizing that they take delight in mockery for their own self-interests.

14 sn The term “fool” (כְּסִיל, kÿsil) refers to the morally insensitive dullard (BDB 493 s.v.).

15 tn The imperfect tense is in the conditional protasis without the conditional particle, followed by the clause beginning with הִנֵּה (hinneh, “then”). The phrase “If only…” does not appear in the Hebrew but is implied by the syntax; it is supplied in the translation for the sake of clarity.

16 tn Heb “turn.” The verb is from שׁוּב (shuv, “to return; to respond; to repent”).

17 sn The noun תּוֹכַחַת (tokhakhat, “rebuke”) is used in all kinds of disputes including rebuking, arguing, reasoning, admonishing, and chiding. The term is broad enough to include here warning and rebuke. Cf. KJV, NAB, NRSV “reproof”; TEV “when I reprimand you”; CEV “correct you.”

18 tn Heb “Behold!”

19 tn The Hiphil cohortative of נָבַע (nava’, “to pour out”) describes the speaker’s resolution to pour out wisdom on those who respond.

20 tn Heb “my spirit.” The term “spirit” (רוּחַ, ruakh) functions as a metonymy (= spirit) of association (= thoughts), as indicated by the parallelism with “my words” (דְּבָרַי, dÿbaray). The noun רוּחַ (ruakh, “spirit”) can have a cognitive nuance, e.g., “spirit of wisdom” (Exod 28:3; Deut 34:9). It is used metonymically for “words” (Job 20:3) and “mind” (Isa 40:13; Ezek 11:5; 20:32; 1 Chr 28:12; see BDB 925 s.v. רוּחַ 6). The “spirit of wisdom” produces skill and capacity necessary for success (Isa 11:2; John 7:37-39).

21 tn The conjunction “and” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for the sake of smoothness.

22 tn Here too the form is the cohortative, stressing the resolution of wisdom to reveal herself to the one who responds.



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