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Proverbs 1:4

Context

1:4 To impart 1  shrewdness 2  to the morally naive, 3 

and 4  a discerning 5  plan 6  to the young person. 7 

Proverbs 1:22-23

Context

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 Heb “to give.” The infinitive construct + ל (lamed) here introduces the fourth purpose of the book: It reveals the purpose from the perspective of the teacher. It is what the wise instructor/sage wants to impart to the naive youths.

2 tn The noun עָרְמָה (’arÿmah) “prudence, shrewdness, craftiness” (BDB 791 s.v.) or “cleverness” (HALOT 886 s.v. 1) refers to a shrewd plan of action, viewed positively or negatively. It is used negatively of planned deception (Josh 9:4) and premeditated murder (Exod 21:14). The related adjective described the serpent as “shrewd, crafty, cunning” (Gen 3:1); it describes cunning plans (Job 5:12) and deception (Job 15:5). The related verb describes a wicked concocted plan (Ps 83:4). The term is used positively of a morally prudent lifestyle (Prov 8:5, 12; 15:5; 19:25). There is no virtue for simpletons to be unaware in this world; they need to be wise as serpents. Proverbs provide a morally shrewd plan for life.

3 tn Heb “the naive” or “simpleton.” The substantival adjective פֶּתִי (peti) means “simple; open-minded” in the sense of being open and easily influenced by either wisdom or folly (BDB 834 s.v.; HALOT 989 s.v. I פֶּתִי). The simpleton is easily enticed and misled (Prov 1:32; 7:7; 9:6; 22:3; 27:12); believes everything, including bad counsel (Prov 14:15); lacks moral prudence (Prov 8:5; 19:25); needs discernment (Prov 21:11); but is capable of learning (Prov 9:4, 16). The related verb means “to be wide open; open-minded; enticed, deceived” (BDB 834). The term describes one easily persuaded and gullible, open to any influence, good or bad (cf. NLT “the simpleminded”). This is the “wide-eyed youth” who is headed for trouble unless he listens to the counsel of wisdom.

4 tn The conjunction “and” does not appear in the Hebrew text but is implied; it is supplied in the translation for the sake of smoothness and style.

5 tn Heb “knowledge and purpose.” The noun דַּעַת (daat, “knowledge”) may be nuanced “discernment” here (HALOT 229 s.v. I דַּעַת 4). The nouns וּמְזִמָּה דַּעַת (daat umÿzimmah, “discernment and purpose”) form a hendiadys (two nouns joined with vav to describe the same thing): The first noun functions adjectivally and the second functions as a noun: “discerning plan.” This parallels “a shrewd plan for the morally naive” or “a discerning plan for the young person.”

6 tn The noun מְזִמָּה (mÿzimmah) may mean (1) “plan” or (2) “discretion” (BDB 273 s.v.; HALOT 566 s.v.). It describes the ability to make plans or formulate the best course of action for gaining a goal (C. H. Toy, Proverbs [ICC], 7). The related verb זָמַם (zamam) means “to plan; to devise” (BDB 273 s.v.; HALOT 272 s.v. I זמם; e.g., Gen 11:6). Here the nouns “knowledge and plan” (וּמְזִמָּה דַּעַת, daat umÿzimmah) form a hendiadys: knowledge of how to form and carry out a morally wise plan for life.

7 tn Heb “young man” or “youth.”

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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