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Proverbs 22:17-18

Context
The Sayings of the Wise 1 

22:17 Incline your ear 2  and listen to the words of the wise,

and apply your heart to my instruction. 3 

22:18 For it is pleasing if 4  you keep these sayings 5  within you,

and 6  they are ready on your lips. 7 

1 sn A new collection of sayings begins here, forming the fourth section of the book of Proverbs. This collection is not like that of 1:1–9:18; here the introductory material is more personal than 1:1-7, and the style differs, showing great similarity to the Instruction of Amenemope in Egypt (especially the thirty precepts of the sages in 22:17–24:22). Verses 17-21 form the introduction, and then the sayings begin in v. 22. After the thirty sayings are given, there are further sayings in 24:23-34. There is much literature on this material: see W. K. Simpson, ed., Literature of Ancient Egypt; ANET 412-425; and A. Cody, “Notes on Proverbs 22:21 and 22:23b,” Bib 61 (1980): 418-26.

2 sn To “incline the ear” means to “listen carefully” (cf. NCV); the expression is metonymical in that the ear is the instrument for hearing. It is like telling someone to lean over to hear better.

3 tn Heb “knowledge” (so KJV, NASB); in this context it refers to the knowledge that is spoken by the wise, hence “instruction.”

4 tn Or “when” (so NIV).

5 tn Heb “keep them,” referring to the words of the wise expressed in these sayings. The referent has been specified in the translation for clarity.

6 tn The term “and” does not appear in the Hebrew but is supplied in the translation.

7 sn If the teachings are preserved in the heart/mind of the disciple, then that individual will always be ready to speak what was retained.



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