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Proverbs 1:28-32

Context

1:28 Then they will call to me, but I will not answer;

they will diligently seek 1  me, but they will not find me.

1:29 Because 2  they hated moral knowledge, 3 

and did not choose to fear the Lord, 4 

1:30 they did not comply with my advice,

they spurned 5  all my rebuke.

1:31 Therefore 6  they will eat from the fruit 7  of their way, 8 

and they will be stuffed full 9  of their own counsel.

1:32 For the waywardness 10  of the

simpletons will kill 11  them,

and the careless ease 12  of fools will destroy them.

1 tn Heb “look to.” The verb שָׁחַר (shakhar, “to look”) is used figuratively of intensely looking (=seeking) for deliverance out of trouble (W. L. Holladay, Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon, 366); cf. NLT “anxiously search for.” It is used elsewhere in parallelism with בָּקַשׁ (baqash, “to seek rescue”; Hos 5:15). It does not mean “to seek early” (cf. KJV) as is popularly taught due to etymological connections with the noun שַׁחַר (shakhar, “dawn”; so BDB 1007 s.v. שָׁחַר).

2 tn The causal particle תַּחַת כִּי (takhat ki, “for the reason that”) introduces a second accusation of sin and reason for punishment.

3 tn Heb “knowledge.” The noun דָעַת (daat, “knowledge”) refers to moral knowledge. See note on 1:7.

4 tn Heb “the fear of the Lord.” The noun is an objective genitive; the Lord is to be the object of fear. See note on 1:7.

5 tn The verb “spurned” (נָאַץ, naats) is parallel to “comply, accede to, be willing” (e.g., 1:10). This is how the morally stubborn fool acts (e.g., 15:5).

6 tn The vav (ו) prefixed to the verb וְיֹאכְלוּ (vÿyokhÿlu) functions in a consecutive logical sense: “therefore.”

7 sn The expression “eat the fruit of” is a figurative expression (hypocatastasis) that compares the consequences of sin to agricultural growth that culminates in produce. They will suffer the consequences of their sinful actions, that is, they will “reap” what they “sow.”

8 sn The words “way” (דֶּרֶךְ, derekh) and “counsel” (מוֹעֵצָה, moetsah) stand in strong contrast to the instruction of wisdom which gave counsel and rebuke to encourage a better way. They will bear the consequences of the course they follow and the advice they take (for that wrong advice, e.g., Ps 1:1).

9 tn Heb “to eat to one’s fill.” The verb שָׂבֵעַ (savea’) means (1) positive: “to eat one’s fill” so that one’s appetite is satisfied and (2) negative: “to eat in excess” as a glutton to the point of sickness and revulsion (BDB 959 s.v.). Fools will not only “eat” the fruit of their own way (v. 31a), they will be force-fed this revolting “menu” which will make them want to vomit (v. 31b) and eventually kill them (v. 32).

10 tn Heb “turning away” (so KJV). The term מְשׁוּבַת (mÿshuvat, “turning away”) refers to moral defection and apostasy (BDB 1000 s.v.; cf. ASV “backsliding”). The noun מְשׁוּבַת (“turning away”) which appears at the end of Wisdom’s speech in 1:32 is from the same root as the verb תָּשׁוּבוּ (tashuvu, “turn!”) which appears at the beginning of this speech in 1:23. This repetition of the root שׁוּב (shuv, “to turn”) creates a wordplay: Because fools refuse to “turn to” wisdom (1:23), they will be destroyed by their “turning away” from wisdom (1:32). The wordplay highlights the poetic justice of their judgment. But here they have never embraced the teaching in the first place; so it means turning from the advice as opposed to turning to it.

11 sn The Hebrew verb “to kill” (הָרַג, harag) is the end of the naive who refuse to change. The word is broad enough to include murder, massacre, killing in battle, and execution. Here it is judicial execution by God, using their own foolish choices as the means to ruin.

12 tn Heb “complacency” (so NASB, NIV, NRSV, NLT); NAB “smugness.” The noun שַׁלְוַה (shalvah) means (1) positively: “quietness; peace; ease” and (2) negatively: “self-sufficiency; complacency; careless security” (BDB 1017 s.v.), which is the sense here. It is “repose gained by ignoring or neglecting the serious responsibilities of life” (C. H. Toy, Proverbs [ICC], 29).



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