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Proverbs 22:17--24:22

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 

22:19 So that 8  your confidence may be in the Lord,

I am making them known to you today 9  – even you.

22:20 Have I not written thirty sayings 10  for you,

sayings 11  of counsel and knowledge,

22:21 to show you true and reliable words, 12 

so that you may give accurate answers 13  to those who sent you?

22:22 Do not exploit 14  a poor person because he is poor

and do not crush the needy in court, 15 

22:23 for the Lord will plead their case 16 

and will rob those who are robbing 17  them.

22:24 Do not make friends with an angry person, 18 

and do not associate with a wrathful person,

22:25 lest you learn 19  his ways

and entangle yourself in a snare. 20 

22:26 Do not be one who strikes hands in pledge

or who puts up security for debts.

22:27 If you do not have enough to pay,

your bed 21  will be taken 22  right out from under you! 23 

22:28 Do not move an ancient boundary stone 24 

which was put in place by your ancestors. 25 

22:29 Do you see a person skilled 26  in his work?

He will take his position before kings;

he will not take his position 27  before obscure people. 28 

23:1 When you sit down to eat with a ruler,

consider carefully 29  what 30  is before you,

23:2 and put a knife to your throat 31 

if you possess a large appetite. 32 

23:3 Do not crave that ruler’s 33  delicacies,

for 34  that food is deceptive. 35 

23:4 Do not wear yourself out to become rich;

be wise enough to restrain yourself. 36 

23:5 When you gaze upon riches, 37  they are gone,

for they surely make wings for themselves,

and fly off into the sky like an eagle! 38 

23:6 Do not eat the food of a stingy person, 39 

do not crave his delicacies;

23:7 for he is 40  like someone calculating the cost 41  in his mind. 42 

“Eat and drink,” he says to you,

but his heart is not with you;

23:8 you will vomit up 43  the little bit you have eaten,

and will have wasted your pleasant words. 44 

23:9 Do not speak in the ears of a fool, 45 

for he will despise the wisdom of your words. 46 

23:10 Do not move an ancient boundary stone,

or take over 47  the fields of the fatherless,

23:11 for their Protector 48  is strong;

he will plead their case against you. 49 

23:12 Apply 50  your heart to instruction

and your ears to the words of knowledge.

23:13 Do not withhold discipline from a child;

even if you strike him with the rod, he will not die.

23:14 If you strike 51  him with the rod,

you will deliver him 52  from death. 53 

23:15 My child, 54  if your heart is wise,

then my heart also will be glad;

23:16 my soul 55  will rejoice

when your lips speak what is right. 56 

23:17 Do not let your heart envy 57  sinners,

but rather be zealous in fearing the Lord 58  all the time.

23:18 For surely there is a future, 59 

and your hope will not be cut off. 60 

23:19 Listen, my child, 61  and be wise,

and guide your heart on the right way.

23:20 Do not spend time 62  among drunkards, 63 

among those who eat too much 64  meat,

23:21 because drunkards and gluttons become impoverished,

and drowsiness 65  clothes them with rags. 66 

23:22 Listen to your father who begot you,

and do not despise your mother when she is old.

23:23 Acquire 67  truth and do not sell it –

wisdom, and discipline, and understanding.

23:24 The father of a righteous person will rejoice greatly; 68 

whoever fathers a wise child 69  will have joy in him.

23:25 May your father and your mother have joy;

may she who bore you rejoice. 70 

23:26 Give me your heart, my son, 71 

and let your eyes observe my ways;

23:27 for a prostitute is like 72  a deep pit;

a harlot 73  is like 74  a narrow well. 75 

23:28 Indeed, she lies in wait like a robber, 76 

and increases the unfaithful 77  among men. 78 

23:29 Who has woe? 79  Who has sorrow?

Who has contentions? Who has complaints?

Who has wounds without cause? Who has dullness 80  of the eyes?

23:30 Those who linger over wine,

those who go looking for mixed wine. 81 

23:31 Do not look on the wine when it is red,

when it sparkles 82  in the cup,

when it goes down smoothly. 83 

23:32 Afterward 84  it bites like a snake,

and stings like a viper.

23:33 Your eyes will see strange things, 85 

and your mind will speak perverse things.

23:34 And you will be like one who lies down in the midst 86  of the sea,

and like one who lies down on the top of the rigging. 87 

23:35 You will say, 88  “They have struck me, but I am not harmed!

They beat me, but I did not know it! 89 

When will I awake? I will look for another drink.” 90 

24:1 Do not envy evil people, 91 

do not desire 92  to be with them;

24:2 for their hearts contemplate violence,

and their lips speak harm. 93 

24:3 By 94  wisdom a house is built, 95 

and through understanding it is established;

24:4 by knowledge its rooms are filled

with all kinds of precious and pleasing treasures.

24:5 A wise warrior 96  is strong, 97 

and a man of knowledge makes his strength stronger;

24:6 for with guidance you wage your war,

and with numerous advisers there is victory. 98 

24:7 Wisdom is unattainable 99  for a fool;

in court 100  he does not open his mouth. 101 

24:8 The one who plans to do evil

will be called a scheming person. 102 

24:9 A foolish scheme 103  is sin,

and the scorner is an abomination to people. 104 

24:10 If you faint 105  in the day of trouble, 106 

your strength is small! 107 

24:11 Deliver those being taken away to death,

and hold back those slipping to the slaughter. 108 

24:12 If you say, “But we did not know about this,”

does not the one who evaluates 109  hearts consider?

Does not the one who guards your life know?

Will he not repay each person according to his deeds? 110 

24:13 Eat honey, 111  my child, for it is good,

and honey from the honeycomb is sweet to your taste.

24:14 Likewise, know 112  that wisdom is sweet 113  to your soul;

if you find it, 114  you will have a future, 115 

and your hope will not be cut off.

24:15 Do not lie in wait like the wicked 116  against the place where the righteous live;

do not assault 117  his home.

24:16 Although 118  a righteous person may fall seven times, he gets up again,

but the wicked will be brought down 119  by calamity.

24:17 Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, 120 

and when he stumbles do not let your heart rejoice,

24:18 lest the Lord see it, and be displeased, 121 

and turn his wrath away from him. 122 

24:19 Do not fret because of evil people

or be envious of wicked people,

24:20 for the evil person has no future, 123 

and the lamp of the wicked will be extinguished. 124 

24:21 Fear the Lord, my child, 125  as well as the king,

and do not associate 126  with rebels, 127 

24:22 for suddenly their destruction will overtake them, 128 

and who knows the ruinous judgment both the Lord and the king can bring? 129 

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.

8 tn The form לִהְיוֹת (lihyot, “to be”) is the infinitive construct indicating the purpose (or result) of the teaching (cf. NASB, NIV, NRSV).

9 tn Heb “I cause you to know.” The term “today” indicates that the verb should have the instantaneous nuance, and so an English present tense is used in the translation (“am making…known”).

10 tn Older English versions and a few more recent ones render this phrase as either “excellent things” following the Qere (so KJV, ASV, NASB, NKJV), “officers,” or “heretofore” [day before yesterday], following the Kethib. However (as in most recent English versions) the Qere should be rendered “thirty,” referring to the number in the collection (cf. NAB, NIV, NRSV, NLT).

11 tn The term “sayings” does not appear in the Hebrew text but is supplied in the translation for the sake of clarity.

12 tn Heb “to cause you to know the truth of words of truth” (NASB similar).

13 tn Heb “to return true words”; NAB “a dependable report”; NIV “sound answers.”

14 tn Two negated jussives form the instruction here: אַל־תִּגְזָל (’al-tigzal, “do not exploit”) and וְאַל־תְּדַכֵּא (veal-tÿdakke’, “do not crush”).

sn Robbing or oppressing the poor is easy because they are defenseless. But this makes the crime tempting as well as contemptible. What is envisioned may be in bounds legally (just) but out of bounds morally.

15 tn Heb “in the gate” (so KJV); NAB, NASB, NRSV “at the gate.” The “gate” of the city was the center of activity, the place of business as well as the place for settling legal disputes. The language of the next verse suggests a legal setting, so “court” is an appropriate translation here.

16 tn The construction uses the verb יָרִיב (yariv) with its cognate accusative. It can mean “to strive,” but here it probably means “to argue a case, plead a case” (cf. KJV, NASB, NIV, NRSV). How the Lord will do this is not specified – either through righteous people or by direct intervention.

17 tn The verb קָבַע (qava’, “to rob; to spoil; to plunder”) is used here in both places to reflect the principle of talionic justice. What the oppressors did to the poor will be turned back on them by the Lord.

18 tn Heb “possessor of anger.” This expression is an idiom for “wrathful person” or “an angry person” (cf. NAB “a hotheaded man”; NLT “short-tempered people”). These are people characterized by anger, meaning the anger is not a rare occurrence with them.

19 tn The verb פֶּן־תֶּאֱלַף (pen-teelaf) is translated “lest you learn.” The idea is more precisely “become familiar with his ways.” The construction indicates that if one associates with such people he will become like them (cf. TEV “you might learn their habits”).

20 sn The warning in this proverb is to avoid associating with a hothead because his influence could be fatal (a similar idea is found in the Instruction of Amenemope, chap. 9, 11:13-14 [ANET 423]).

21 tn The “bed” may be a metonymy of adjunct, meaning the garment that covers the bed (e.g., Exod 22:26). At any rate, it represents the individual’s last possession (like the English expression “the shirt off his back”).

22 tn Heb “If you cannot pay, why should he take the bed from under you?” This rhetorical question is used to affirm the statement. The rhetorical interrogative לָמָּה (lamah, “why?”) appears in MT but not in the ancient versions; it may be in the Hebrew text by dittography.

23 sn The third saying deals with rash vows: If people foolishly pledge what they have, they could lose everything (e.g., 6:1-5; 11:15; 17:18; 20:16; there is no Egyptian parallel).

24 sn Moving a boundary stone was (and still is) a major problem. The boundaries that were established by the forefathers were to be preserved, but no law would stop such violations if people lacked integrity (e.g., Deut 19:14; 27:17; 1 Kgs 21:16-19). Boundaries in Israel were sacred because God owned the land and he apportioned the property to the tribes. To extend one’s property illegally by moving a neighbor’s boundary marker was a violation of covenant and oath. Of course, disputes could arise when both sides claim their ancestors established a boundary.

25 tn Heb “your fathers” (so NAB, NASB).

sn The fourth saying deals with respect for property that belongs to other people (cf. Instruction of Amenemope, chap. 6, 7:12-13 [ANET 422]).

26 sn The word translated “skilled” is general enough to apply to any crafts; but it may refer to a scribe or an official (R. N. Whybray, Proverbs [CBC], 134).

27 tn The verb form used twice here is יִתְיַצֵּב (yityatsev), the Hitpael imperfect of יָצַב (yatsav), which means “to set or station oneself; to take one’s stand” in this stem. With the form לִפְנֵי (life) it means “to present oneself before” someone; so here it has the idea of serving as a courtier in the presence of a king.

28 sn The fifth saying affirms that true skill earns recognition and advancement (cf. Instruction of Amenemope, chap. 30, 27:16-17 [ANET 424]).

29 tn The construction uses the imperfect tense of instruction with the infinitive absolute to emphasize the careful discernment required on such occasions. Cf. NIV “note well”; NLT “pay attention.”

30 tn Or “who,” referring to the ruler (so ASV, NAB, TEV).

31 sn The expression “put a knife to your throat” is an idiom that means “curb your appetite” or “control yourself” (cf. TEV). The instruction was from a time when people dealt with all-powerful tyrants. To enter the presence of such a person and indulge one’s appetites would be to take a very high risk.

32 tn Heb “lord of appetite.” The idiom בַּעַל נֶפֶשׁ (baal nefesh) refers to someone who possesses a large appetite (cf. NAB “a ravenous appetite”). A person with a big appetite is in danger of taking liberties when invited to court.

33 tn Heb “his”; the referent (the ruler mentioned in v. 1) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

34 sn The final line gives the causal clause: The impressive feast is not what it appears to be; the king is not doing you a favor, but rather wants something from you or is observing you (K&D 17:104); cf. TEV “he may be trying to trick you.”

35 sn Verses 1-3 form the sixth saying about being cautious before rulers (cf. Instruction of Amememope, chap. 23, 23:13-18). One should not get too familiar with rulers, for they always have ulterior motives. The Mishnah cites Gamaliel as warning that a ruler only draws someone into his court for his purpose, but in their day of trouble he will not be there to help them (m. Abot 2:3).

36 tn Heb “from your understanding cease.” In the context this means that the person should have enough understanding to stop wearing himself out trying to be rich (cf. NRSV “be wise enough to desist”).

37 tc The Kethib is הֲתָעוּף (hatauf), “do your eyes fly [light] on it?” The Qere is the Hiphil, הֲתָעִיף (hataif) “do you cause your eyes to fly on it?” But the line is difficult. The question may be indirect: If you cast your eyes on it, it is gone – when you think you are close, it slips away.

tn The term “riches” is not in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation based on the previous verse.

38 sn This seventh saying warns people not to expend all their energy trying to get rich because riches are fleeting (cf. Instruction of Amememope, chap. 7, 9:10-11 which says, “they have made themselves wings like geese and have flown away to heaven”). In the ancient world the symbol of birds flying away signified fleeting wealth.

39 tn Heb “an evil eye.” This is the opposite of the “good eye” which meant the generous man. The “evil eye” refers to a person who is out to get everything for himself (cf. NASB, NCV, CEV “selfish”). He is ill-mannered and inhospitable (e.g., Prov 28:22). He is up to no good – even though he may appear to be a host.

40 tc The line is difficult; it appears to mean that the miser is the kind of person who has calculated the cost of everything in his mind as he offers the food. The LXX has: “Eating and drinking with him is as if one should swallow a hair; do not introduce him to your company nor eat bread with him.” The Hebrew verb “to calculate” (שָׁעַר, shaar) with a change of vocalization and of sibilant would yield “hair” (שֵׂעָר, sear) – “like a hair in the throat [נֶפֶשׁ, nefesh], so is he.” This would picture an irritating experience. The Instruction of Amenemope uses “blocking the throat” in a similar saying (chapt. 11, 14:7 [ANET 423]). The suggested change is plausible and is followed by NRSV; but the rare verb “to calculate” in the MT would be easier to defend on the basis of the canons of textual criticism because it is the more difficult reading.

41 tn The phrase “the cost” does not appear in the Hebrew but is implied by the verb; it is supplied in the translation for the sake of clarity.

42 tn Heb “soul.”

43 sn Eating and drinking with a selfish miser would be irritating and disgusting. The line is hyperbolic; the whole experience turns the stomach.

44 tn Or “your compliments” (so NASB, NIV); cf. TEV “your flattery.”

sn This is the eighth saying; it claims that it would be a mistake to accept hospitality from a stingy person. He is always thinking about the cost, his heart is not in it, and any attempt at pleasant conversation will be lost.

45 sn The mention of “the ears” emphasizes the concerted effort to get the person’s undivided attention. However, a fool rejects instruction and discipline.

46 sn Saying number nine indicates that wisdom is wasted on a fool. The literature of Egypt has no specific parallel to this one.

47 tn Or “encroach on” (NIV, NRSV); Heb “go into.”

48 tn The participle גֹּאֵל (goel) describes a “kinsman redeemer.” Some English versions explicitly cite “God” (e.g., NCV, CEV) or “the Lord” (e.g. TEV).

sn The Hebrew term describes a “kinsman-redeemer.” That individual would be a rich or powerful relative who can protect the family; he does this by paying off the debts of a poor relative, buying up the property of a relative who sells himself into slavery, marrying the widow of a deceased relative to keep the inheritance in the family, or taking vengeance on someone who harms a relative, that vengeance often resulting in delivering (“redeeming”) the relative from bondage. If there was no human “kinsman redeemer,” then the defenseless had to rely on God to perform these actions (e.g., Gen 48:16; Exod 6:6; Job 19:25; Isa 41–63). In the prophetic literature God is presented as the Redeemer in that he takes vengeance on the enemies (the Babylonians) to deliverer his people (kin). In this proverb the Lord is probably the Protector of these people who will champion their cause and set things right.

49 sn This is the tenth saying; once again there is a warning not to encroach on other people’s rights and property, especially the defenseless (see v. 10; 22:22-23, 28).

50 tn Heb “bring.” The Hiphil imperative “come; enter” means “to apply the heart,” to use the heart or mind in the process. The same would be true in the second half: “to bring the ears” would mean to listen very carefully. Cf. TEV “Pay attention.”

51 tn Or “punish” (NIV). The syntax of these two lines suggests a conditional clause (cf. NCV, NRSV).

52 tn Heb “his soul.” The term נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh, “soul”) functions as a synecdoche of part (= soul) for the whole (= person); see BDB 660 s.v. 4.

53 tn The term שְׁאוֹל (shÿol, “Sheol”) in this context probably means “death” (so NIV, NCV, NLT) and not the realm of the departed (wicked) spirits (cf. NAB “the nether world”). In the wisdom of other lands, Ahiqar 6:82 says, “If I strike you, my son, you will not die.” The idea is that discipline helps the child to a full life; if the child dies prematurely, it would be more than likely a consequence of not being trained by discipline. In the book of Proverbs the “death” mentioned here could be social as well as physical.

54 tn Heb “my son,” although the context does not limit this exhortation to male children.

55 tn Heb “my kidneys”; in biblical Hebrew the term was used for the innermost being, the soul, the central location of the passions. Cf. NASB, NIV “my inmost being.”

56 sn This twelfth saying simply observes that children bring joy to their parents when they demonstrate wisdom. The quatrain is arranged in a chiastic structure (AB:B'A'): The first line (A) speaks of wisdom in the child, and it is paired with the last line (A') which speaks of the child’s saying what is right. In between these brackets are two lines (B and B') concerning joy to the parent.

57 tn The verb in this line is אַל־יְקַנֵּא (’al-yÿqanne’), the Piel jussive negated. The verb means “to be jealous, to be zealous”; it describes passionate intensity for something. In English, if the object is illegitimate, it is called “envy”; if it is correct, it is called “zeal.” Here the warning is not to envy the sinners. The second colon could use the verb in the positive sense to mean “but rather let your passion burn for the fear of the Lord.”

58 tn Heb “the fear of the Lord.” This expression features an objective genitive: “fearing the Lord.”

59 tn Heb “end” (so KJV); ASV “a reward.”

60 sn The saying is an understatement; far from being cut off, the “hope” will be realized in the end. So this saying, the thirteenth, advises people to be zealous for the fear of the Lord, their religion, rather than for anything that sinners have to offer.

61 tn Heb “my son,” but the immediate context does not limit this to male children.

62 tn Heb “do not be among,” but in the sense of “associate with” (TEV); “join” (NIV); “consort…with” (NAB).

63 tn The verb סָבָא (sava’) means “to imbibe; to drink largely.” The participial construction here, סֹבְאֵי־יַיִן (sove-yayin), describes “drunkards” (cf. NLT) which is somewhat stronger than saying it refers to “people who drink too much” (cf. NIV, TEV).

64 tn The verb זָלַל (zalal) means “to be light; to be worthless; to make light of.” Making light of something came to mean “to be lavish with; to squander,” especially with regard to food. So it describes “gluttons” primarily; but in the expression there is also room for the person who wastes a lot of food as well.

65 tn Here “drowsiness” is a metonymy of effect or adjunct, put for the drunkenness and gluttony that causes it. So all of it, the drunkenness and the drowsiness that comes from it, brings on the ruin (cf. CEV “you will end up poor”). Likewise, “rags” is a metonymy of adjunct, associated with the poverty brought on by a dissolute lifestyle.

66 sn This is the fourteenth saying, warning about poor associations. Drunkenness and gluttony represent the epitome of the lack of discipline. In the Mishnah they are used to measure a stubborn and rebellious son (m. Sanhedrin 8). W. G. Plaut notes that excessive drinking and eating are usually symptoms of deeper problems; we usually focus more on the drinking because it is dangerous to others (Proverbs, 241-42).

67 tn Heb “buy” (so KJV, NASB, NIV, NLT); CEV “Invest in truth.”

sn The sixteenth saying is an instruction to buy/acquire the kind of life that pleases God and brings joy to parents. “Getting truth” would mean getting training in the truth, and getting wisdom and understanding would mean developing the perception and practical knowledge of the truth.

68 tc The Qere reading has the imperfect יָגִיל (yagil) with the cognate accusative גִּיל (gil) which intensifies the meaning and the specific future of this verb.

69 tn The term “child” is supplied for the masculine singular adjective here.

70 tn The form תָגֵל (tagel) is clearly a short form and therefore a jussive (“may she…rejoice”); if this second verb is a jussive, then the parallel יִשְׂמַח (yismakh) should be a jussive also (“may your father and your mother have joy”).

71 tn Heb “my son”; the reference to a “son” is retained in the translation here because in the following lines the advice is to avoid women who are prostitutes.

72 tn The comparative “like” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is implied by the metaphor; it is supplied for the sake of clarity.

73 tn Heb “foreign woman” (so ASV). The term נָכְרִיָּה (nokhriyyah, “foreign woman”) often refers to a prostitute (e.g., Prov 2:6; 5:20; 6:24; 7:5). While not all foreign women in Israel were prostitutes, their prospects for economic survival were meager and many turned to prostitution to earn a living. Some English versions see this term referring to an adulteress as opposed to a prostitute (cf. NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV, NLT).

74 tn The comparative “like” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is implied by the metaphor; it is supplied in the translation for the sake of clarity.

75 sn In either case, whether a prostitute or an adulteress wife is involved, the danger is the same. The metaphors of a “deep pit” and a “narrow well” describe this sin as one that is a trap from which there is no escape. The “pit” is a gateway to Sheol, and those who enter are as good as dead, whether socially or through punishment physically.

76 tn The noun חֶתֶף (khetef) is defined by BDB 369 s.v. as “prey,” but this is the only occurrence of the word. The related verb BDB 368-69 s.v. חָתַף defines as “to seize; to snatch away” (with an Aramaic cognate meaning “to break in pieces” [Pa], and an Arabic word “death”). But the only occurrence of that word is in Job 9:12, where it is defined as “seizes.” So in this passage the noun could have either a passive sense (what is seized = prey), or an active sense (the one who seizes = a robber, bandit). The traditional rendering is “prey” (KJV); most modern English versions have the active sense (“robber” or similar; cf. NIV “like a bandit”). Since the prepositional phrase (the simile) is modifying the woman, the active sense works better in the translation.

77 tn The participle means “unfaithful [men]” (masculine plural); it could also be interpreted as “unfaithfulness” in the abstract sense. M. Dahood interprets it to mean “garments” (which would have to be repointed), saying that she collects garments in pledge for her service (M. Dahood, “To Pawn One’s Cloak,” Bib 42 [1961]: 359-66). But that is far-fetched; it might have happened on occasion, but as a common custom it is unlikely. Besides that, the text in the MT makes perfectly good sense without such a change.

sn Such a woman makes more people prove unfaithful to the law of God through her practice.

78 sn Verses 26-28 comprise the seventeenth saying; it warns the young person to follow the instructions about temptations because there are plenty of temptresses lurking about.

79 sn The eighteenth saying is about excessive drinking. The style changes here as the sage breaks into a vivid use of the imagination. It begins with a riddle describing the effects of drunkenness (v. 29) and gives the answer in v. 30; instructions follow in v. 31, with the consequences described in v. 32; the direct address continues in vv. 33 and 34; and the whole subject is concluded with the drunkard’s own words in v. 35 (M. E. Andrews, “Variety of Expression in Proverbs 23:29-35,” VT 28 [1978]: 102-3).

80 sn The Hebrew word translated “dullness” describes darkness or dullness of the eyes due to intoxication, perhaps “redness” (so KJV, NASB, NRSV); NIV, NCV, NLT “bloodshot eyes.” NAB understands the situation differently: “black eyes.”

81 sn The answer to the question posed in v. 29 is obviously one who drinks too much, which this verse uses metonymies to point out. Lingering over wine is an adjunct of drinking more wine; and seeking mixed wine obviously means with the effect or the purpose of drinking it.

82 tn Heb “its eye gives.” With CEV’s “bubbling up in the glass” one might think champagne was in view.

83 tn The expression is difficult, and is suspected of having been added from Song 7:10, although the parallel is not exact. The verb is the Hitpael imperfect of הָלַךְ (halakh); and the prepositional phrase uses the word “upright; equity; pleasing,” from יָשָׁר (yashar). KJV has “when it moveth itself aright”; much more helpful is ASV: “when it goeth down smoothly.” Most recent English versions are similar to ASV. The phrase obviously refers to the pleasing nature of wine.

84 tn Heb “its end”; NASB “At the last”; TEV (interpretively) “The next morning.”

85 tn The feminine plural of זָר (zar, “strange things”) refers to the trouble one has in seeing and speaking when drunk.

86 tn Heb “heart.” The idiom here means “middle”; KJV “in the midst.”

87 sn The point of these similes is to compare being drunk with being seasick. One who tries to sleep when at sea, or even worse, when up on the ropes of the mast, will be tossed back and forth.

88 tn The phrase “You will say” is supplied in the translation to make it clear that the drunkard is now speaking.

89 sn The line describes how one who is intoxicated does not feel the pain, even though beaten by others. He does not even remember it.

90 tn The last line has only “I will add I will seek it again.” The use of אוֹסִיף (’osif) signals a verbal hendiadys with the next verb: “I will again seek it.” In this context the suffix on the verb refers to the wine – the drunkard wants to go and get another drink.

91 tn Heb “evil men,” although the context indicates a generic sense.

92 tn The Hitpael jussive is from the verb that means “to crave; to desire.” This is more of a coveting, an intense desire.

93 sn This nineteenth saying warns against evil associations. Evil people are obsessed with destruction and trouble. See on this theme 1:10-19; 3:31 and 23:17. D. Kidner observes that a close view of sinners is often a good antidote to envying them (Proverbs [TOTC], 153).

94 tn The preposition בְּ (bet, “by; through”) in these two lines indicates means.

95 sn The twentieth saying, vv. 3-4, concerns the use of wisdom for domestic enterprises. In Prov 9:1 wisdom was personified as a woman who builds a house; but here the emphasis is primarily on the building – it is a sign of security and prosperity (C. H. Toy, Proverbs [ICC], 442). One could still make a secondary application from this line for a household or “family” (cf. NCV, which sees this as a reference to the family).

96 sn The twenty-first saying seems to be concerned with the need for wisdom in warfare. In line with that, the word used here is גֶּבֶר (gever), “mighty man; hero; warrior.”

97 tn The expression בַּעוֹז (baoz) employs a beth essentiae, meaning he “is strong,” not “in strength.”

98 sn The point of the saying is that wise counsel is necessary in war. Victory, strategy, and counsel are more important than mere military strength – many great armies have been destroyed because of their unwise leaders. See on this theme 11:14; 20:18; and 21:22.

99 tc The MT reads רָאמוֹת (ramot, “corals”) – wisdom to the fool is corals, i.e., an unattainable treasure. With a slight change in the text, removing the א (alef), the reading is רָמוֹת (ramot, “high”), i.e., wisdom is too high – unattainable – for a fool. The internal evidence favors the emendation, which is followed by most English versions including KJV.

100 tn Heb “[city] gate,” a metonymy of subject, meaning what goes on in the gate – court cases and business transactions. So it is in these assemblies that the fool keeps quiet. The term “court” has been used in the translation for clarity. Some English versions do not emphasize the forensic connotation here: NCV “in a discussion”; NLT “When the leaders gather.”

101 sn The verse portrays a fool out of his element: In a serious moment in the gathering of the community, he does not even open his mouth (a metonymy of cause, meaning “speak”). Wisdom is too high for the fool – it is beyond his ability.

102 tn Heb “possessor of schemes”; NAB “an intriguer.” The picture of the wicked person is graphic: He devises plans to do evil and is known as a schemer. Elsewhere the “schemes” are outrageous and lewd (e.g., Lev 18:7; Judg 20:6). Here the description portrays him as a cold, calculating, active person: “the fool is capable of intense mental activity but it adds up to sin” (W. McKane, Proverbs [OTL], 399).

103 tn Heb “the scheme of folly” (NIV similar). The genitive functions as an attributive genitive, meaning “foolish scheme.” But it could also be interpreted as a genitive of source, the scheme that comes from folly (or from the fool if “folly” were metonymical).

104 tn Heb “to a man”; cf. CEV “Everyone hates senseless fools.”

sn This describes evil people who flout all morality and goodness; sooner or later the public will have had enough of them.

105 tn Heb “show yourself slack” (NASB similar). The verb רָפָה (rafah) means “to sink; to relax.” In the causative stems it means “to let slacken; to let go; to refrain; to fail; to do nothing.” In the Hitpael stem BDB 952 s.v. defines it as “to show yourself slack.” It has also been rendered as “give up” (NCV, CEV); “fail” (NLT); “falter” (NIV). The colon implies a condition, for which the second part of the verse is the apodosis.

106 tn The verse employs a paronomasia to underscore the point: “trouble” is צָרָה (tsarah), literally “a bind; a strait [or, narrow] place”; “small” is צַר (tsar), with the same idea of “narrow” or “close.”

107 sn The test of strength is adversity, for it reveals how strong a person is. Of course a weak person can always plead adverse conditions in order to quit. This is the twenty-fourth saying.

108 tn The idea of “slipping” (participle from מוֹט, mot) has troubled some commentators. G. R. Driver emends it to read “at the point of” (“Problems in Proverbs,” ZAW 50 [1932]: 146). But the MT as it stands makes good sense. The reference would be general, viz., to help any who are in mortal danger or who might be tottering on the edge of such disaster – whether through sin, or through disease, war, or danger. Several English versions (e.g., NASB, NIV, NRSV) render this term as “staggering.”

sn God holds people responsible for rescuing those who are in mortal danger. The use of “death” and “slaughter” seems rather strong in the passage, but they have been used before in the book for the destruction that comes through evil.

109 tn Heb “weighs” (so NASB, NIV, NRSV) meaning “tests” or “evaluates.”

110 sn The verse completes the saying by affirming that people will be judged responsible for helping those in mortal danger. The verse uses a series of rhetorical questions to affirm that God knows our hearts and we cannot plead ignorance.

111 sn The twenty-sixth saying teaches that one should develop wisdom because it has a profitable future. The saying draws on the image of honey; its health-giving properties make a good analogy to wisdom.

112 tn D. W. Thomas argues for a meaning of “seek” in place of “know” (“Notes on Some Passages in the Book of Proverbs,” JTS 38 [1937]: 400-403).

113 tn The phrase “is sweet” is supplied in the translation as a clarification.

114 tn The term “it” is supplied in the translation.

115 tn Heb “there will be an end.” The word is אַחֲרִית (’akhrit, “after-part, end”). BDB 31 s.v. b says in a passage like this it means “a future,” i.e., a happy close of life, sometimes suggesting the idea of posterity promised to the righteous, often parallel to “hope.”

116 tn The word “wicked” could be taken as a vocative (cf. KJV, ASV, NASB, “O wicked man”); but since the next line refers to the wicked this is unlikely. It serves better as an adverbial accusative (“like the wicked”).

117 sn The saying warns that it is futile and self-defeating to mistreat God’s people, for they survive – the wicked do not. The warning is against a deliberate, planned assault on their places of dwelling.

118 tn The clause beginning with כִּי (ki) could be interpreted as causal or conditional; but in view of the significance of the next clause it seems better to take it as a concessive clause (“although”). Its verb then receives a modal nuance of possibility. The apodosis is then “and he rises up,” which could be a participle or a perfect tense; although he may fall, he gets up (or, will get up).

sn The righteous may suffer adversity or misfortune any number of times – seven times here – but they will “rise” for virtue triumphs over evil in the end (R. N. Whybray, Proverbs [CBC], 140).

119 tn The verb could be translated with an English present tense (“are brought down,” so NIV) to express what happens to the wicked in this life; but since the saying warns against being like the wicked, their destruction is more likely directed to the future.

120 sn The saying (vv. 17, 18) warns against gloating over the misfortune of one’s enemies. The prohibition is formed with two negated jussives “do not rejoice” and “let not be glad,” the second qualified by “your heart” as the subject, signifying the inner satisfaction of such a defeat.

121 tn Heb “and [it is] evil in his eyes.”

122 sn The judgment of God should strike a note of fear in the heart of people (e.g., Lev 19:17-18). His judgment is not to be taken lightly, or personalized as a victory. If that were to happen, then the Lord might take pity on the enemies in their calamity, for he champions the downtrodden and defeated. These are probably personal enemies; the imprecatory psalms and the prophetic oracles present a different set of circumstances for the downfall of God’s enemies – even the book of Proverbs says that brings joy to the community.

123 tn Heb “there is no end [i.e., future] for the evil.”

124 sn The saying warns against envying the wicked; v. 19 provides the instruction, and v. 20 the motivation. The motivation is that there is no future hope for them – nothing to envy, or as C. H. Toy explains, there will be no good outcome for their lives (Proverbs [ICC], 449). They will die suddenly, as the implied comparison with the lamp being snuffed out signifies.

125 tn Heb “my son,” but there is no indication in the immediate context that this should be limited only to male children.

126 tn Heb “do not get mixed up with”; cf. TEV “Have nothing to do with”; NIV “do not join with.” The verb עָרַב (’arav) is used elsewhere meaning “to exchange; to take on pledge.” In the Hitpael stem it means “to have fellowship; to share; to associate with.” Some English versions (e.g., KJV) interpret as “to meddle” in this context, because “to have fellowship” is certainly not what is meant.

127 tn The form rendered “rebellious” is difficult; it appears to be the Qal active participle, plural, from שָׁנָה (shanah), “to change” – “those who change.” The RV might have thought of the idea of “change” when they rendered it “political agitators.” The Syriac and Tg. Prov 24:21 have “fools,” the Latin has “detractors,” and the LXX reads, “do not disobey either of them,” referring to God and the king in the first line. Accordingly the ruin predicted in the next line would be the ruin that God and the king can inflict. If the idea of “changers” is retained, it would have to mean people who at one time feared God and the king but no longer do.

128 tn Heb “will rise” (so NASB).

129 tn Heb “the ruin of the two of them.” Judgment is sent on the rebels both by God and the king. The term פִּיד (pid, “ruin; disaster”) is a metonymy of effect, the cause being the sentence of judgment (= “ruinous judgment” in the translation; cf. NLT “punishment”). The word “two of them” is a subjective genitive – they two bring the disaster on the rebels. The referents (the Lord and the king) have been specified in the translation for clarity.

sn The reward for living in peace under God in this world is that those who do will escape the calamities that will fall on the rebellious. Verse 21a is used in 1 Peter 2:17, and v. 22 is used in Romans 13:1-7 (v. 4). This is the thirtieth and last of this collection.



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