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 sn Heb “I set my heart.” The “heart” represents the mind and the will combined; to “set” the mind and will means to give careful consideration to what was observed.
5 tn Heb “I looked, I received instruction.” There are four verbs in the two parts of this verse: “I saw…I set…I saw…I received.” It is clear that the first two verbs in each half verse are the foundation for the next two. At the beginning of the verse the form is the preterite with the vav (ו) consecutive; it can be subordinated as a temporal clause to the next verb, probably to be identified as a preterite with the vav – “when I saw, I put.” The next two verbs are both perfect tenses; their construction would parallel the first half of the verse, even though there are no conjunctions here – “[when] I saw, I received.”
sn The teacher makes several observations of the state of the sluggard that reveal that his continued laziness will result in poverty. The reminiscence used here may be a literary device to draw a fictional but characteristically true picture of the lazy person.