25:1 These also are proverbs of Solomon,
which the men of King Hezekiah of Judah copied: 1
and it is the glory of a king to search out a matter.
so the hearts of kings are unsearchable. 5
25:4 Remove the dross from the silver,
and material 6 for the silversmith will emerge;
25:6 Do not honor yourself before the king,
and do not stand in the place of great men;
than to put you lower 12 before a prince,
whom your eyes have seen. 13
or 15 what will you do afterward
when your neighbor puts you to shame?
do not reveal the secret of another person, 17
25:10 lest the one who hears it put you to shame
and your infamy 18 will never go away.
so is a word skillfully spoken. 20
so is a wise reprover to the ear of the one who listens. 22
so is a faithful messenger to those who send him,
for he refreshes the heart 24 of his masters.
lest he become weary 36 of you and hate you.
or like vinegar poured on soda, 44
so is one who sings songs to a heavy heart. 45
25:21 If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat,
and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink,
and the Lord will reward you. 47
25:24 It is better to live on a corner of the housetop
than in a house in company with a quarrelsome wife. 52
so is good news from a distant land. 54
so is a righteous person who gives way 57 before the wicked.
nor is it honorable for people to seek their own glory. 59
25:28 Like a city that is broken down and without a wall,
so is a person who cannot control his temper. 60
26:1 Like snow in summer or rain in harvest,
26:2 Like a fluttering bird or like a flying swallow,
26:3 A whip for the horse and a bridle for the donkey,
and a rod for the backs of fools! 65
lest you yourself also be like him. 67
lest he be wise in his own estimation. 69
so is giving honor to a fool.
so is a proverb in the mouth of a fool. 78
so is the one who hires 80 a fool or hires any passer-by.
so a fool repeats his folly. 82
There is more hope for a fool 85 than for him.
A lion in the streets!” 87
so a sluggard turns 90 on his bed.
he is too lazy to bring it back to his mouth. 92
than seven people who respond with good sense. 94
so is the person passing by who becomes furious 96 over a quarrel not his own.
firebrands and deadly arrows, 98
and says, “Was I not only joking?” 100
26:20 Where there is no wood, a fire goes out,
26:21 Like charcoal is to burning coals, and wood to fire,
26:22 The words of a gossip are like delicious morsels;
they go down into a person’s innermost being. 105
his evil will be uncovered 119 in the assembly.
the one who rolls a stone – it will come back on him.
and a flattering mouth works ruin. 122
for you do not know 125 what a day may bring forth.
someone else, 128 and not your own lips.
27:3 A stone is heavy and sand is weighty,
but who can stand before jealousy? 132
than hidden 134 love.
but to the hungry mouth 139 every bitter thing is sweet.
so is a person who wanders from his home. 141
likewise the sweetness of one’s friend from sincere counsel. 143
27:10 Do not forsake your friend and your father’s friend,
and do not enter your brother’s house in the day of your disaster;
a neighbor nearby is better than a brother far away. 144
27:12 A shrewd person sees danger and hides himself,
but the naive keep right on going 148 and suffer for it.
it will be counted as a curse to him. 154
27:15 A continual dripping on a rainy day
and whoever takes care of 166 his master will be honored.
so a person’s heart 168 reflects the person.
among the grain 178 with the pestle,
his foolishness would not depart from him. 179
give careful attention 182 to your herds,
nor does a crown last 184 from generation to generation.
27:25 When the hay is removed and new grass appears,
and the grass from the hills is gathered in,
27:26 the lambs will be for your clothing,
and the goats will be for the price of a field. 185
for the food of your household,
and for the sustenance 187 of your servant girls.
1 sn This section of the book of Proverbs contains proverbs attributed to Solomon but copied by Hezekiah’s sages (between 715
2 sn The proverb provides a contrast between God and the king, and therein is the clue to the range of application involved. The interest of the king is ruling or administering his government; and so the subject matter is a contrast to the way God rules his kingdom.
3 sn The two infinitives form the heart of the contrast – “to conceal a matter” and “to search out a matter.” God’s government of the universe is beyond human understanding – humans cannot begin to fathom the intentions and operations of it. But it is the glory of kings to search out matters and make them intelligible to the people. Human government cannot claim divine secrecy; kings have to study and investigate everything before making a decision, even divine government as far as possible. But kings who rule as God’s representatives must also try to represent his will in human affairs – they must even inquire after God to find his will. This is their glorious nature and responsibility. For more general information on vv. 2-27, see G. E. Bryce, “Another Wisdom ‘Book’ in Proverbs,” JBL 91 (1972): 145-57.
4 tn Heb “heavens for height and earth for depth.” The proverb is clearly intending the first line to be an illustration of the second – it is almost emblematic parallelism.
5 sn The proverb is affirming a simple fact: The king’s plans and decisions are beyond the comprehension of the common people. While the king would make many things clear to the people, there are other things that are “above their heads” or “too deep for them.” They are unsearchable because of his superior wisdom, his caprice, or his need for secrecy. Inscrutability is sometimes necessary to keep a firm grip on power.
6 tn The Hebrew כֶּלִי (keli) means “vessel; utensil” (cf. KJV, ASV, NASB). But purging dross from silver does not produce a “vessel” for the silversmith. Some versions therefore render it “material” (e.g., NIV, NRSV). The LXX says “that it will be entirely pure.” So D. W. Thomas reads כָּלִיל (kalil) and translates it “purified completely” (“Notes on Some Passages in the Book of Proverbs,” VT 15 : 271-79; cf. NAB). W. McKane simply rearranges the line to say that the smith can produce a work of art (Proverbs [OTL], 580; cf. TEV “a thing of beauty”). The easiest explanation is that “vessel” is a metonymy of effect, “vessel” put for the material that goes into making it (such metonymies occur fairly often in Psalms and Proverbs).
7 sn These two verses present first an illustration and then the point (so it is emblematic parallelism). The passage uses imperatives to teach that the wicked must be purged from the kingdom.
8 sn “Throne” is a metonymy of subject (or adjunct); it is the symbol of the government over which the king presides (cf. NCV, TEV).
9 sn When the king purges the wicked from his court he will be left with righteous counselors and his government therefore will be “established in righteousness” – it will endure through righteousness (cf. NLT “made secure by justice”). But as J. H. Greenstone says, “The king may have perfect ideals and his conduct may be irreproachable, but he may be misled by unscrupulous courtiers” (Proverbs, 264).
10 tn The phrase “for him” is supplied in the translation for clarity.
11 sn This proverb, covering the two verses, is teaching that it is wiser to be promoted than to risk demotion by self-promotion. The point is clear: Trying to promote oneself could bring on public humiliation; but it would be an honor to have everyone in court hear the promotion by the king.
12 tn The two infinitives construct form the contrast in this “better” sayings; each serves as the subject of its respective clause.
13 tc Most modern commentators either omit this last line or attach it to the next verse. But it is in the text of the MT as well as the LXX, Syriac, Vulgate, and most modern English versions (although some of them do connect it to the following verse, e.g., NAB, NIV, NRSV, NLT).
14 tn Heb “do not go out hastily to strive”; the verb “to strive” means dispute in the legal context. The last clause of v. 7, “what your eyes have seen,” does fit very well with the initial clause of v. 8. It would then say: What you see, do not take hastily to court, but if the case was not valid, he would end up in disgrace.
sn The Hebrew verb רִיב (riv) is often used in legal contexts; here the warning is not to go to court hastily lest it turn out badly.
15 tn The clause begins with פֶּן (pen, “lest”) which seems a bit out of place in this line. C. H. Toy suggests changing it to כִּי (ki, “for”) to make a better connection, instead of supplying an ellipsis: “lest it be said what…” (Proverbs [ICC], 461).
16 tn The verse begins with the direct object רִיבְךָ (ribkha, “your case”) followed by the imperative from the same root, רִיב (riv, “argue”). It is paralleled by the negated Piel jussive. The construction of the clauses indicates that the first colon is foundational to the second: “Argue…but do not reveal,” or better, “When you argue…do not reveal.”
17 sn The concern is that in arguing with one person a secret about another might be divulged, perhaps deliberately in an attempt to clear oneself. The point then is about damaging a friendship by involving the friend without necessity or warrant in someone else’s quarrel.
18 tn The noun דִּבָּה (dibbah, “infamy; defamation; evil report; whispering”) is used of an evil report here (e.g., Gen 37:2), namely a true report of evil doing. So if a person betrays another person’s confidence, he will never be able to live down the bad reputation he made as one who betrays secrets (cf. NIV).
19 sn The verse uses emblematic parallelism, stating the simile in the first part and the point in the second. The meaning of the simile is not entirely clear, but it does speak of beauty, value, and artistry. The “apples of gold” (possibly citrons, quinces, oranges, or apricots) may refer to carvings of fruit in gold on columns.
20 tn Heb “on its wheels.” This expression means “aptly, fittingly.” The point is obviously about the immense value and memorable beauty of words used skillfully (R. N. Whybray, Proverbs [CBC], 148). Noting the meaning of the term and the dual form of the word, W. McKane suggests that the expression is metaphorical for the balancing halves of a Hebrew parallel wisdom saying: “The stichos is a wheel, and the sentence consisting of two wheels is a ‘well-turned’ expression” (Proverbs [OTL], 584). The line then would be describing a balanced, well-turned saying, a proverb; it is skillfully constructed, beautifully written, and of lasting value.
21 sn This saying is another example of emblematic parallelism; the first half is the simile, and the second half makes the point from it: A wise rebuke that is properly received is of lasting value. The rebuke in the ear of an obedient student is like ornaments of fine jewelry.
22 tn The “ear of the listener” refers to the obedient disciple, the one who complies with the reproof he hears. Cf. KJV, ASV, NAB “an obedient ear.”
23 sn The emblem in the parallelism of this verse is the simile of the first line. Because snow at the time of harvest would be rare, and probably unwelcome, various commentators have sought to explain this expression. R. N. Whybray suggests it may refer to snow brought down from the mountains and kept cool in an ice hole (Proverbs [CBC], 148); this seems rather forced. J. H. Greenstone following Rashi, a Jewish scholar who lived
24 tn Heb “he restores the life [or, soul] of his masters.” The idea suggests that someone who sends the messenger either entrusts his life to him or relies on the messenger to resolve some concern. A faithful messenger restores his master’s spirit and so is “refreshing.”
25 sn The emblem now is one of clouds and winds that would be expected to produce rain; they gain attention and raise people’s expectations but prove to be disappointing when no rain is forthcoming, and hence could be thought of as deceitful.
26 tn The form מִתְהַלֵּל (mithallel) is the Hitpael participle of the well-known word for “praise”; but in this stem it means “to praise oneself” or “to boast.” The description of “windbag” seems appropriate in this context.
27 tn Heb “a gift of falsehood.” This would mean that the individual brags about giving a gift, when there is no gift.
28 tn Heb “long of anger” or “forbearance” (so NASB).
29 tn The two imperfect verbs in this line may be nuanced as potential imperfects because what is described could happen, but does not do so as a rule.
30 tn The “tongue” is a metonymy of cause; and so the expression here refers to soft or gentle speech. This fits well with the parallel idea of patience (“long of anger”) – through a calm patient persuasion much can be accomplished. Some English versions relate this figure directly to the persuasion of a ruler in the previous line (cf. TEV “can even convince rulers”).
31 sn The idea of breaking a bone uses the hardest and most firm part of the body in contrast to the “softness of the tongue.” Both are figurative, forming a comparison. A gentle speech can break down any stiff opposition.
32 tn The verse simply begins “you have found honey.” Some turn this into an interrogative clause for the condition laid down (cf. KJV, ASV, NASB, NLT); most make the form in some way subordinate to the following instruction: “when you find…eat.”
33 tn The verb means “to be satisfied; to be sated; to be filled.” Here it means more than satisfied, since it describes one who overindulges and becomes sick. The English verb “stuffed” conveys this idea well.
34 sn The proverb warns that anything overindulged in can become sickening. The verse uses formal parallelism to express first the condition and then its consequences. It teaches that moderation is wise in the pleasures of life.
35 tn Heb “make your foot rare.” The verb is הֹקַר (hoqar), the Hiphil imperative of יָקַר (yaqar, “to be rare; to be precious”). To “make one’s foot rare” would mean to keep the visits to a minimum as well as making them valuable – things increase in value, according to the nuances of this word, when they are rare.
36 tn Heb “gets full.” This verb means “to be sated; to be satisfied; to be filled.” It is often used with reference to food, but here it refers to frequent visits that wear out one’s welcome (cf. NLT).
37 sn The first line identifies the emblem of the proverb: False witnesses are here compared to deadly weapons because they can cause the death of innocent people (e.g., Exod 20:16; Deut 5:20; and Prov 14:5).
38 tn The verb עָנָה (’anah) followed by the preposition בְּ (bet) with its object means “to testify against” (answer against someone). With the preposition לְ (lamed) it would mean “to testify for” someone. Here the false witness is an adversary, hence the comparison with deadly weapons.
39 tn While עֵד (’ed) could be interpreted as “evidence” (a meaning that came from a metonymy – what the witness gives in court), its normal meaning is “witness.” Here it would function as an adverbial accusative, specifying how he would answer in court.
40 sn The similes in this emblematic parallelism focus on things that are incapable of performing certain activities – they are either too painful to use or are ineffective.
41 tn Since there is no preposition to clarify the construction, there are two ways to take the term מִבְטָח (mivtakh, “confidence”) in the context. It can either refer (1) to reliance on an unfaithful person, or it can refer (2) to that on which the unfaithful person relies. C. H. Toy argues for the second, that what the faithless person relies on will fail him in the time of trouble (Proverbs [ICC], 466). This view requires a slight change in the MT to make “confidence” a construct noun (i.e., the confidence of the faithless); the first view, which fits better the MT as it stands, says that “confidence [in] a faithless person” is like relying on a decaying tooth or a lame foot. This is the view preferred in most English versions, including the present one.
42 tn Heb “in the day of trouble”; KJV, NASB “in time of trouble.”
43 tc The consonants of the Hebrew text of this verse are similar to the consonants in v. 19. The LXX has a much longer reading: “Like vinegar is bad for a wound, so a pain that afflicts the body afflicts the heart. Like a moth in a garment, and a worm in wood, so the pain of a man wounds the heart” (NRSV follows much of the LXX reading; NAB follows only the second sentence of the LXX reading). The idea that v. 20 is a dittogram is not very convincing; and the Greek version is too far removed to be of help in the matter.
44 tn The second simile mentions pouring vinegar on soda. The LXX has “scab,” but that does not fit as a sensitive thing. The reference is to sodium carbonate (natural in Egypt) which can be neutralized with vinegar.
46 sn The imagery of the “burning coals” represents pangs of conscience, more readily effected by kindness than by violence. These coals produce the sharp pain of contrition through regret (e.g., 18:19; 20:22; 24:17; Gen 42-45; 1 Sam 24:18-20; Rom 12:20). The coals then would be an implied comparison with a searing conscience.
47 sn The second consequence of treating enemies with kindness is that the
48 sn One difficulty here is that it is the west wind that brings rain to Israel (e.g., 1 Kgs 18:41-44). C. H. Toy suggests that the expression is general, referring to a northwest wind – unless it is an error (Proverbs [ICC], 468). J. P. M. van der Ploeg suggests that the saying originated outside the land, perhaps in Egypt (“Prov 25:23,” VT 3 : 189-92). But this would imply it was current in a place where it made no sense. R. N. Whybray suggests that the solution lies with the verb “brings forth” (תְּחוֹלֵל, tÿkholel); he suggests redefining it to mean “repels, holds back” (cf. KJV “driveth away”). Thus, the point would be that the north wind holds back the rain just as an angry look holds back slander (Proverbs [CBC], 149). But the support for this definition is not convincing. Seeing this as a general reference to northerly winds is the preferred solution.
49 tn Heb “a tongue of secret” or “a hidden tongue,” referring to someone who goes around whispering about people behind their backs (cf. KJV, NAB, NASB, NRSV “a backbiting tongue”).
50 tn The phrase “brings forth” does not appear in Hebrew in this line but is implied by the parallelism with the previous line; it is supplied here in the translation for clarity.
51 sn The verse implies a comparison between the two parts to make the point that certain things automatically bring certain results. Gossiping words will infuriate people as easily as the northerly winds bring the cold rain.
53 tn Heb “a weary [or, faint] soul” (so NASB, NIV); KJV, ASV, NRSV “a thirsty soul,” but “soul” here refers to the whole person.
55 tn The Niphal participle is from רָפַס (rafas), which means “to stamp; to tread; to foul by treading [or, by stamping].” BDB 952 s.v. defines it here as a “fountain befouled.” The picture is one of a spring of water where men and beasts gather and muddy it by their trampling in and out of it.
56 tn The Hophal participle from שָׁחַת (shakhat, “to ruin; to destroy; to corrupt”) provides a general description – the well has been “ruined” or “corrupted” (so ASV) and is therefore unusable.
57 tn The verb מָט (mat) means “to give way; to move.” This probably refers to the integrity of the righteous being lost – comparing it to moving [off course]. T. T. Perowne writes, “To see a righteous man moved from his steadfastness through fear or favour in the presence of the wicked is as disheartening as to find the stream turbid and defiled at which you were longing to quench your thirst” (Proverbs, 161). But the line may refer to the loss of social standing and position by the righteous due to the plots of the wicked – just as someone muddied the water, someone made the righteous slip from his place.
58 sn This is a figure of speech known as tapeinosis – a deliberate understatement to emphasize a worst-case scenario: “it is bad!”
59 tn Heb “and the investigation of their glory is not glory.” This line is difficult to understand but it forms an analogy to honey – glory, like honey, is good, but not to excess. The LXX rendered this, “it is proper to honor notable sayings.” A. A. MacIntosh suggests, “He who searches for glory will be distressed” (“A Note on Prov 25:27,” VT 20 : 112-14). G. E. Bryce has “to search out difficult things is glorious” (“Another Wisdom ‘Book’ in Proverbs,” JBL 91 (1972): 145-47). R. C. Van Leeuwen suggests, “to seek difficult things is as glory” (“Proverbs 25:27 Once Again,” VT 36 : 105-14). The Hebrew is cryptic, but not unintelligible: “seeking their glory [is not] glory.” It is saying that seeking one’s own glory is dishonorable.
60 tn Heb “whose spirit lacks restraint” (ASV similar). A person whose spirit (רוּחַ, ruakh) “lacks restraint” is one who is given to outbursts of passion, who lacks self-control (cf. NIV, NRSV, CEV, NLT). This person has no natural defenses but reveals his true nature all the time. The proverb is stating that without self-control a person is vulnerable, like a city without defenses.
61 sn “Honor” in this passage probably means respect, external recognition of worth, accolades, advancement to high position, etc. All of these would be out of place with a fool; so the sage is warning against elevating or acclaiming those who are worthless. See also J. A. Emerton, “Notes on Some Passages in the Book of Proverbs,” VT 15 (1965): 271-79.
63 tn Heb “causeless curse” (KJV similar) describes an undeserved curse (cf. NIV, NRSV). The Hebrew word translated “causeless” is the adverb from ָחנַן (khanan); it means “without cause; gratuitous.”
sn This proverb is saying that a curse that is uttered will be powerless if that curse is undeserved. It was commonly believed in the ancient world that blessings and curses had power in themselves, that once spoken they were effectual. But scripture makes it clear that the power of a blessing or a curse depends on the power of the one behind it (e.g., Num 22:38; 23:8). A curse would only take effect if the one who declared it had the authority to do so, and he would only do that if the curse was deserved.
64 tc The MT has the negative with the verb “to enter; to come” to mean “will not come” (לֹא תָבֹא, lo’ tavo’). This is interpreted to mean “will not come to rest” or “will not come home.” Some commentators have taken the Qere reading of לוֹ (lo) instead, and read it as “will come home to him.” This is also a little difficult; but it gives the idea that an undeserved curse will come [back] to him [who gave it]. Just as a bird will fly around and eventually come home, so will the undeserved curse return on the one who gave it. This is plausible; but there is no referent for the suffix, making it syntactically difficult.
65 sn A fool must be disciplined by force like an animal – there is no reasoning. The fool is as difficult to manage as the donkey or horse.
66 sn One should not answer a fool’s foolish questions in line with the fool’s mode of reasoning (J. H. Greenstone, Proverbs, 274).
67 sn The person who descends to the level of a fool to argue with him only looks like a fool as well.
68 sn The apparent contradiction with the last verse has troubled commentators for some time. The Rabbis solved it by saying that v. 4 referred to secular things, but v. 5 referred to sacred or religious controversies. While this does not resolve the issue, it does give a sound application for the two verses together – in negligible issues one should just ignore the stupid person, but in issues that matter the fool must be dealt with, lest credence be given to what he says (W. G. Plaut, Proverbs, 266). The text presents two proverbs each of which presents an aspect of the whole truth. One should not lower himself to the level of the fool, but there are times when the lesser of two evils is to do so, other than let the fool gain confidence that he is a wise person or be considered wise by others. Paul, for example, talked like a “fool” to correct the foolish ideas of the Corinthians (2 Cor 11:16-17; 12:11).
69 tn Heb “in his own eyes” (so NAB, NASB, NIV).
70 sn Sending a messenger on a mission is like having another pair of feet. But if the messenger is a fool, this proverb says, not only does the sender not have an extra pair of feet – he cuts off the pair he has. It would not be simply that the message did not get through; it would get through incorrectly and be a setback! The other simile uses “violence,” a term for violent social wrongs and injustice. The metaphorical idea of “drinking” violence means suffering violence – it is one’s portion. So sending a fool on a mission will have injurious consequences.
71 tn The participle could be taken as the subject of the sentence: “the one who sends…cuts off…and drinks.”
72 sn The consequence is given in the first line and the cause in the second. It would be better not to send a message at all than to use a fool as messenger.
73 tn Heb “like the legs which hang down from the lame” (so NASB). The is דַּלְיוּ (dalyu), from דָּלַל (dalal, “to hang; to be low; to languish”) although the spelling of the form indicates it would be from דָּלָה (dalah, “to draw” [water]). The word indicates the uselessness of the legs – they are there but cannot be used. Luther gave the verse a fanciful but memorable rendering: “Like dancing to a cripple, so is a proverb in the mouth of the fool.”
74 tn The proverb does not begin with a כְּ (bet) preposition to indicate a simile; but the analogy within the verse makes it clear that the first line is the emblem. The conjunction vav then indicates the equation – “so.”
75 sn As C. H. Toy puts it, the fool is a “proverb-monger” (Proverbs [ICC], 474); he handles an aphorism about as well as a lame man can walk. The fool does not understand, has not implemented, and cannot explain the proverb. It is useless to him even though he repeats it.
76 tn The translation “like tying a stone in a sling” seems to make the most sense, even though the word for “sling” occurs only here.
sn The point is that only someone who does not know how a sling works would do such a stupid thing (R. N. Whybray, Proverbs [CBC], 152). So to honor a fool would be absurd; it would be counterproductive, for he would still be a fool.
77 sn The picture is one of seizing a thornbush and having the thorn pierce the hand (עָלָה בְיַד־, ’alah vÿyad). A drunk does not know how to handle a thornbush because he cannot control his movements and so gets hurt (W. McKane, Proverbs [OTL], 599). C. H. Toy suggests that this rather means a half-crazy drunken man brandishing a stick (Proverbs [ICC], 475). In this regard cf. NLT “a thornbush brandished by a drunkard.”
78 sn A fool can read or speak a proverb but will be intellectually and spiritually unable to handle it; he will misapply it or misuse it in some way. In doing so he will reveal more of his folly. It is painful to hear fools try to use proverbs.
79 tn Heb “who wounds everyone” (so NASB). A similar rendering is given by ASV, NAB, NIV, NRSV, and NLT; it is the only one that makes sense out of a verse that most commentators consider hopelessly corrupt. That is not to say it is the correct rendering, only that it makes sense as a required negative statement in a proverb. The first line has רַב מְחוֹלֵל־כֹּל (rav mÿkholel-col). The first word, רַב (rav), can mean “archer,” “ master,” or “much.” The verb מְחוֹלֵל (mÿkholel) can mean “to wound” or “to bring forth.” The possibilities are: “a master performs [or, produces] all,” “a master injures all,” “an archer wounds all,” or “much produces all.” The line probably should be stating something negative, so the idea of an archer injuring or wounding people [at random] is preferable. An undisciplined hireling will have the same effect as an archer shooting at anything and everything (cf. NLT “an archer who shoots recklessly”).
80 tn The participle שֹׂכֵר (shokher) is rendered here according to its normal meaning “hires” or “pays wages to.” Other suggestions include “one who rewards a fool” (derived from the idea of wages) and “one who stops a fool” (from a similar word).
82 sn The point is clear: Fools repeat their disgusting mistakes, or to put it another way, whenever we repeat our disgusting mistakes we are fools. The proverb is affirming that no matter how many times a fool is warned, he never learns.
83 tn The verse simply uses a perfect tense. The meaning of the verse would be the same if this were interpreted as an affirmation rather than as an interrogative. The first line calls such a person to one’s attention.
84 tn Heb “in his own eyes” (so NAB, NASB, NIV).
sn The subject matter of the verse is the person who is wise in his own opinion. Self-conceit is actually part of the folly that the book of Proverbs criticizes; those who think they are wise even though they are not are impossible to help. For someone to think he is wise when he is not makes him a conceited ignoramus (W. G. Plaut, Proverbs, 268).
85 sn Previous passages in the book of Proverbs all but deny the possibility of hope for the fool. So this proverb is saying there is absolutely no hope for the self-conceited person, and there might be a slight hope for the fool – he may yet figure out that he really is a fool.
87 tn Heb “in the broad plazas”; NAB, NASB “in the square.” This proverb makes the same point as 22:13, namely, that the sluggard uses absurd excuses to get out of work. D. Kidner notes that in this situation the sluggard has probably convinced himself that he is a realist and not a lazy person (Proverbs [TOTC], 163).
88 tn The comparative “like” is not in the Hebrew text, but is supplied from context in the translation.
89 sn The sluggard is too lazy to get out of bed – although he would probably rationalize this by saying that he is not at his best in the morning. The humor of the verse is based on an analogy with a door – it moves back and forth on its hinges but goes nowhere. Like the door to the wall, the sluggard is “hinged” to his bed (e.g., Prov 6:9-10; 24:33).
90 tn The term “turns” is not in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation from the parallelism.
91 tn Heb “buries” (so many English versions); KJV “hideth”; NAB “loses.”
93 tn Heb “in his eyes.” The lazy person thinks that he has life all figured out and has chosen the wise course of action – but he is simply lazy. J. H. Greenstone says, for example, “Much anti-intellectualism may be traced to such rationalization for laziness” (Proverbs, 269).
94 tn The term means “taste; judgment.” The related verb means “to taste; to perceive,” that is, “to examine by tasting,” or examine by experiencing (e.g., Ps 34:9). Here the idea is expressed with the participle in construct, “those returners [of] good sense,” those who answer tastefully, with discretion. Cf. NIV “who (+ can NRSV) answer discreetly.”
95 tn Heb “grabs the ears of a dog. The word “wild” has been supplied in the translation to make clear that these were not domesticated pets. CEV, to accomplish the same point, has “a mad dog,” but there is no indication of that in context.
sn Someone who did this ran a serious risk of injury or harm. Dogs were not domestic pets in the ancient Near East; they were scavengers that ran in packs like jackals.
96 tn The word מִתְעַבֵּר (mit’abber) means “to put oneself in a fury” or “become furious” (BDB 720 s.v.). The Latin version apparently assumed the verb was עָרַב (’arav), for it has the sense of “meddle” (so also NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV). However, the MT reading could easily fit the verse, referring to anyone passing by who gets furious over a fight that is not his.
97 tn The term כְּמִתְלַהְלֵהַּ (kÿmitlahleah) is the Hitpalpel participle of the quadriliteral verbal root לִהְלֵהַּ (lihleah), which means “to amaze; to startle” (BDB 529 s.v.). Here it functions as a substantive – the object of the preposition – and has the meaning of “madman” (cf. NRSV “maniac”). This is the only occurrence of the term.
98 tn Heb “arrows and death” (so KJV, NASB). This expression can be understood as a nominal hendiadys: “deadly arrows” (so NAB, NIV).
99 tn Heb “man.”
100 sn The subject of this proverb is not simply a deceiver, but one who does so out of jest, or at least who claims he was joking afterward. The participle מְשַׂחֵק has the idea of “laughing, mocking”; in this context it might convey the idea of “kidding” or “joking.” The point is that such practical joking is immature and often dangerous. To the foolish deceiver it might all seem like fun, like sport; but it can destroy people. One cannot trifle with dangerous weapons, or put them in irresponsible hands; likewise one cannot trifle with human relationships. W. G. Plaut notes, “The only worthwhile humor is that which laughs with, not at others” (Proverbs, 270).
101 sn Gossip (that is, the one who goes around whispering and slandering) fuels contention just as wood fuels a fire. The point of the proverb is to prevent contention – if one takes away the cause, contention will cease (e.g., 18:8).
102 tn Heb “becomes silent.”
103 sn Heb “a man of contentions”; NCV, NRSV, NLT “a quarrelsome person.” The expression focuses on the person who is contentious by nature. His quarreling is like piling fuel on a fire that would otherwise go out. This kind of person not only starts strife, but keeps it going.
104 tn The Pilpel infinitive construct לְחַרְחַר (lÿkharkhar) from חָרַר (kharar, “to be hot; to be scorched; to burn”) means “to kindle; to cause to flare up.”
106 tn The traditional translation of “silver dross” (so KJV, ASV, NASB) never did make much sense because the parallel idea deals with hypocrisy – “fervent lips with an evil heart.” But silver dross would not be used over earthenware – instead it is discarded. Yet the MT clearly has “silver dross” (כֶּסֶף סִיגִים, kesef sigim). Ugaritic turned up a word spsg which means “glaze,” and this found a parallel in Hittite zapzaga[y]a. H. L. Ginsberg repointed the Hebrew text to k’sapsagim, “like glaze,” and this has been adopted by many commentators and recent English versions (e.g., NAB, NIV, NRSV, NLT). The final ם (mem) is then classified as enclitic. See, among others, K. L. Barker, “The Value of Ugaritic for Old Testament Studies,” BSac 133 (1976): 128-29.
107 tn The word translated “fervent” actually means “burning, glowing”; the LXX has “flattering lips” (as if from חָלַק [khalaq] rather than דָּלַק [dalaq]).
108 sn The analogy fits the second line very well. Glaze makes a vessel look beautiful and certainly different from the clay that it actually is. So is one who has evil intent (“heart”) but covers it with glowing speech.
109 tn The Niphal imperfect from נָכַר (nakhar) means “to act [or, treat] as a foreigner [or, stranger]; to misconstrue; to disguise.” The direct object (“it”) is not present in the Hebrew text but is implied. In this passage it means that the hater speaks what is “foreign” to his thought; in other words, he dissembles.
110 tn Or “places; puts; lays up” (cf. KJV, ASV, NASB).
111 tn Heb “within him” (so KJV, ASV) or “in his midst”; NAB “in his inmost being.”
sn Hypocritical words may hide a wicked heart. The proverb makes an observation: One who in reality despises other people will often disguise that with what he says.
112 tn The particle כִּי (ki) is here interpreted with a temporal nuance. It is also possible that it could be read as concessive (so NIV, NLT “Though”).
113 tn The meaning of the rare Piel form of חָנַן (khanan) is “to make gracious; to make favorable.” The subject is קוֹלוֹ (qolo, “his voice”), a metonymy of cause for what he says. The idea is that what he says is very gracious in its content and its effect.
114 sn It may be that the placing of this proverb in this setting is designed to point out that the person speaking graciously is this wicked person who conceals an evil heart. Otherwise it may have in mind a person who has already proven untrustworthy but protests in order to conceal his plans. But even if that were not the connection, the proverb would still warn the disciple not to believe someone just because it sounded wonderful. It will take great discernment to know if there is sincerity behind the person’s words.
115 sn The number “seven” is used in scripture as the complete number. In this passage it is not intended to be literally seven; rather, the expression means that there is complete or total abomination in his heart. Cf. TEV “his heart is filled to the brim with hate.”
116 sn “Abomination” means something that is loathed. This is a description applied by the writer, for the hypocritical person would not refer to his plans this way.
118 tn The form תִּכַּסֶּה (tikkasseh) is the Hitpael imperfect (with assimilation); it is probably passive, meaning “is concealed,” although it could mean “conceals itself” (naturally). Since the proverb uses antithetical parallelism, an imperfect tense nuance of possibility (“may be concealed”) works well here (cf. NIV, NLT).
119 sn The Hebrew verb means “to uncover,” here in the sense of “to reveal; to make known; to expose.” The verse is promising that the evil the person has done will be exposed publicly. The common belief that righteousness will ultimately triumph informs this saying.
120 sn The verse is teaching talionic justice (“an eye for an eye,” etc.), and so the activities described should be interpreted as evil in their intent. “Digging a pit” would mean laying a trap for someone (the figure of speech would be a metonymy of cause for the effect of ruining someone, if an actual pit is being dug; the figure would be hypocatastasis if digging a pit is being compared to laying a trap, but no pit is being dug). Likewise, “rolling a stone” on someone means to destroy that individual.
121 tn Heb “the tongue of deception.” The subject matter of this proverb is deceptive speech. The “tongue of deception” (using a metonymy of cause with an attributive genitive) means that what is said is false. Likewise the “smooth mouth” means that what is said is smooth, flattering.
122 sn The verse makes it clear that only pain and ruin can come from deception. The statement that the lying tongue “hates those crushed by it” suggests that the sentiments of hatred help the deceiver justify what he says about people. The ruin that he brings is probably on other people, but it could also be taken to include his own ruin.
123 tn The form אַל־תִּתְהַלֵּל (’al-tithallel) is the Hitpael jussive negated; it is from the common verb “to praise,” and so in this setting means “to praise oneself” or “to boast.”
sn The verse rules out one’s overconfident sense of ability to control the future. No one can presume on the future.
124 sn The word “tomorrow” is a metonymy of subject, meaning what will be done tomorrow, or in the future in general.
125 sn The expression “you do not know” balances the presumption of the first line, reminding the disciple of his ignorance and therefore his need for humility (e.g., Matt 6:34; Luke 12:20; Jas 4:13-16).
126 tn Heb “a stranger.” This does not necessarily refer to a non-Israelite, as has been demonstrated before in the book of Proverbs, but these are people outside the familiar and accepted circles. The point is that such a person would be objective in speaking about your abilities and accomplishments.
127 sn “Mouth” and “lips” are metonymies of cause; they mean “what is said.” People should try to avoid praising themselves. Self praise can easily become a form of pride, even if it begins with trivial things. It does not establish a reputation; reputation comes from what others think about you.
128 tn “a foreigner”; KJV, ASV, NASB, NRSV “a stranger.”
129 tn The subject matter is the vexation produced by a fool. The term כַּעַס (ca’as) means “vexation” (ASV); provocation” (NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV); “anger” (KJV “wrath”) and usually refers to undeserved treatment. Cf. NLT “the resentment caused by a fool.”
sn The same noun is used in 1 Sam 1:6, 16 for the “provocation” given to Hannah by Peninnah for being barren.
130 sn The contrast is made between dealing with the vexation of a fool and physical labor (moving stones and sand). More tiring is the vexation of a fool, for the mental and emotional effort it takes to deal with it is more draining than physical labor. It is, in the sense of this passage, almost unbearable.
131 tn Heb “fierceness of wrath and outpouring [= flood] of anger.” A number of English versions use “flood” here (e.g., NASB, NCV, NLT).
132 tn The Hebrew term translated “jealousy” here probably has the negative sense of “envy” rather than the positive sense of “zeal.” It is a raging emotion (like “anger” and “wrath,” this word has nuances of heat, intensity) that defies reason at times and can be destructive like a consuming fire (e.g., 6:32-35; Song 8:6-7). The rhetorical question is intended to affirm that no one can survive a jealous rage. (Whether one is the subject who is jealous or the object of the jealousy of someone else is not so clear.)
133 tn Heb “revealed” or “uncovered” (Pual participle from גָּלָה, galah). This would specify the reproof or rebuke as direct, honest, and frank, whether it was coming from a friend or an enemy.
134 tn The Hebrew term translated “hidden” (a Pual participle from סָתַר, satar) refers to a love that is carefully concealed; this is contrasted with the open rebuke in the first line. What is described, then, is someone too timid, too afraid, or not trusting enough to admit that reproof is a genuine part of love (W. McKane, Proverbs [OTL], 610). It is a love that is not expressed in proper concern for the one loved. See also, e.g., 28:23 and 29:3.
135 tn The Niphal participle of אָמַן (’aman) means “faithful; reliable; sure; trustworthy.” The word indicates that the wounds from a friend “can be trusted” (so NIV, NCV) because they are meant to correct and not to destroy (e.g., 25:12; Deut 7:9; Job 12:20).
136 sn “Kisses” probably represents a metonymy of adjunct; the term describes any expressions or indications of affection. But coming from an enemy, they will be insincere – as indicated by their excessive number.
137 tn The form is נַעְתָּרוֹת (na’tarot), the Niphal participle of עָתַר (’atar, “to be abundant”). Contemporary translations render this rare form in a number of different ways: “deceitful” (NASB, NKJV); “profuse” (NRSV); “many” (NLT). But the idea of “excessive” or “numerous” fits very well. The kisses of an enemy cannot be trusted, no matter how often they are presented.
138 tn Traditionally, “soul” (so KJV, ASV). The Hebrew text uses נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh) here for the subject – the full appetite [“soul”]. The word refers to the whole person with all his appetites. Here its primary reference is to eating, but it has a wider application than that – possession, experience, education, and the like.
139 tn Here the term נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh, traditionally, “soul”) is used again, now in contrast to describe the “hungry appetite” (cf. NRSV “ravenous appetite”), although “hungry mouth” might be more idiomatic for the idea. Those whose needs are great are more appreciative of things than those who are satisfied. The needy will be delighted even with bitter things.
140 tn The form נוֹדֶדֶת (nodedet) is the Qal participle from נָדַד (nadad), “to wander; to stray; to flutter; to retreat; to depart”; cf. NIV, NRSV, NLT “strays.” It will be directly paralleled with the masculine participle in the second colon.
141 tn Heb “place” (so KJV, ASV); most other English versions translate as “home.”
sn The reason for the wandering from the nest/place is not given, but it could be because of exile, eviction, business, or irresponsible actions. The saying may be generally observing that those who wander lack the security of their home and cannot contribute to their community (e.g., the massive movement of refugees). It could be portraying the unhappy plight of the wanderer without condemning him over the reason for the flight.
142 sn The first line of the proverb provides the emblem to the parallel point. The emblem is the joy that anointing oil (ointment) and incense bring, and the point is the value of the advice of a friend.
143 tn Some think the MT is unintelligible as it stands: “The sweetness of his friend from the counsel of the soul.” The Latin version has “the soul is sweetened by the good counsels of a friend.” D. W. Thomas suggests, “counsels of a friend make sweet the soul” (“Notes on Some Passages in the Book of Proverbs,” VT 15 : 275). G. R. Driver suggests, “the counsel of a friend is sweeter than one’s own advice” (literally, “more than the counsel of the soul”). He also suggests “more than of fragrant wood.” See G. R. Driver, “Hebrew Notes,” ZAW 52 (1934): 54; idem, “Suggestions and Objections,” ZAW 55 (1937): 69-70. The LXX reads “and the soul is rent by misfortunes.” The MT, for want of better or more convincing readings, may be interpreted to mean something like “[Just as] ointment and incense brings joy to the heart, [so] the sweetness of one’s friend [comes] from his sincere counsel.”
144 sn The meaning of the verse is very difficult, although the translation is rather straightforward. It may simply be saying that people should retain family relationships but will discover that a friend who is available is better than a relative who is not. But C. H. Toy thinks that the verse is made up of three lines that have no connection: 10a instructs people to maintain relationships, 10b says not to go to a brother’s house [only?] when disaster strikes, and 10c observes that a nearby friend is better than a far-away relative. C. H. Toy suggests a connection may have been there, but has been lost (Proverbs [ICC], 485-86). The conflict between 17:17 and 10b may be another example of presenting two sides of the issue, a fairly frequent occurrence in the book of Proverbs.
145 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.
146 tn The verb is the cohortative of שׁוּב (shuv); after the two imperatives that provide the instruction, this form with the vav will indicate the purpose or result (indirect volitive sequence).
147 sn The expression anyone who taunts me refers to those who would reproach or treat the sage with contempt, condemning him as a poor teacher. Teachers are often criticized for the faults and weaknesses of their students; but any teacher criticized that way takes pleasure in pointing to those who have learned as proof that he has not labored in vain (e.g., 1 Thess 2:19-20; 3:8).
148 tn Heb “go on”; the word “right” is supplied in the translation to clarify the meaning: The naive person, oblivious to impending danger, meets it head on.
149 tn Heb “his garment.”
150 tn Or “for a strange (= adulterous) woman.” Cf. KJV, ASV, NASB, NLT; NIV “a wayward woman.”
152 tn The verse begins with the Piel participle from בָּרַךְ (barach). It could be taken as the subject, with the resulting translation: “Blessing…will be counted as a curse.” However, that would be rather awkward. So it is preferable to take the first line as the condition (“if someone blesses”) and the second as the consequence (“[then] it will be counted”).
153 tn Heb “rising early in the morning” (so KJV, ASV). The infinitive explains the verb “bless,” giving the circumstances of its action. The individual rises early to give his blessing.
154 sn The point of the proverb is that loud and untimely greetings are not appreciated. What was given as a “blessing” will be considered a “curse” – the two words being antonyms. The proverb makes the point that how, when, and why they say what they say is important too (D. Kidner, Proverbs [TOTC], 166).
155 tn Heb “a wife of contentions” (an attributive genitive). Cf. NAB, NIV “a quarrelsome wife”; NLT “a nagging wife.”
156 tn The form נִשְׁתָּוָה (nishtavah) is classified by BDB as a Nitpael perfect from the root שָׁוָה (shavah, “to be like; to resemble”; BDB 1001 s.v. I שָׁוָה). The form also has metathesis before the sibilant. The LXX interprets it as “Drops drive a man out of his house on a wintry day; so a railing woman also drives him out of his own house.”
157 tn The participle and verb both are from the root צָפַן (tsafan, “to hide”). This combination could be translated “hiding her is [like] hiding the wind.”
sn A contentious woman is uncontrollable. The wind can gust at any moment; so too the contentious woman can nag or complain without warning. If anyone can hide the wind he can hide her.
158 sn The verb is the Qal imperfect of קָרָא (qara’); BDB 895 s.v. 5.b defines it here as “call for = demand, require,” but acknowledge that it is probably corrupt. R. B. Y. Scott interprets it to mean “grasping” oil in the hand, an expression he compares to the modern “butterfingers” (Proverbs, Ecclesiastes [AB], 163). Others have interpreted it to mean “betrays” – “ointment of his right hand betrays itself,” meaning its smell persists. However, the connection to the proverb does not seem obvious with that interpretation.
159 tc The LXX took an etymologizing approach to the whole verse and translated it “the north wind is a severe wind, but by its name is termed auspicious.” In this rendering the Hebrew text’s “oil” became “its name,” “right hand” became “auspicious,” and “grasp” became “called.”
160 tn The term “as” is not in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation to clarify the comparison.
161 tn BDB classifies the verb in the first colon as a Qal apocopated jussive of I חָדָה (khadah, “to grow sharp”; BDB 292 s.v.), and the verb in the second half of the verse (יַחַד, yakhad) as a Hiphil apocopated jussive. The difference would be: “let iron by means of iron grow sharp, and let a man sharpen the countenance of his friend.” But it makes more sense to take them both as Hiphil forms, the first being in pause. Other suggestions have been put forward for the meaning of the word, but the verb “sharpens” fits the context the best, and is followed by most English versions. The verb may be a shortened form of the imperfect rather than a jussive.
162 tn Heb “and a man,” although the context does not indicate this should be limited to males only.
163 tn Heb “sharpens the face of his friend.” The use of the word “face” (cf. KJV, ASV “countenance”) would here emphasize that it is the personality or character that is being sharpened. Constructive criticism sharpens character. Use of the wits in interaction that makes two people sharp as a razor (W. McKane, Proverbs [OTL], 615); another example, from the Talmud, is that of two students sharpening each other in the study of the Torah (b. Ta’anit 7a).
164 sn Tending fig trees requires closer attention than other plants; so the point here would be the diligent care that is required.
165 sn The principle is established in the first line with the emblem: Those who faithfully serve will be rewarded in kind. The second half of the proverb makes the point from this illustration.
166 sn The Hebrew participle translated “takes care of” (שֹׁמֵר, shomer) describes a careful watching over or looking after, a meticulous service, anticipating the needs and safeguarding the charge. Such a servant need not worry about his efforts going unrecognized and unrewarded (e.g., Prov 22:29; 2 Tim 2:6, 15).
167 tn The verse is somewhat cryptic and so has prompted many readings. The first line in the MT has “As water the face to the face.” The simplest and most probable interpretation is that clear water gives a reflection of the face (cf. NASB, NIV, NRSV, NLT). One creative but unconvincing suggestion is that of L. Kopf, who suggests the idea is “water of face” (a construct) and that it means shame or modesty, i.e., a face is not really human without shame, and a man without a heart is not human (“Arabische Etymologien und Parallelen zum Bibelwörterbuch,” VT 9 : 260-61).
168 tn The second line has “so the heart of a man to a man” (cf. KJV, ASV). The present translation (along with many English versions) supplies “reflects” as a verb in the second line to emphasize the parallelism.
sn In the parallelism this statement means that a person’s heart is the true reflection of that person. It is in looking at the heart, the will, the choices, the loves, the decisions, the attitudes, that people come to self-awareness.
169 tn The term “as” is not in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation in light of the analogy.
170 sn Countless generations of people have gone into the world below; yet “death” is never satisfied – it always takes more. The line personifies Death and Destruction. It forms the emblem in the parallelism.
171 tn Heb “eyes of a man.” This expression refers to the desires – what the individual looks longingly on. Ecclesiastes Rabbah 1:34 (one of the rabbinic Midrashim) says, “No man dies and has one-half of what he wanted.”
172 tc The LXX contains a scribal addition: “He who fixes his eye is an abomination to the
173 sn Once again this proverb uses emblematic parallelism. The crucible and the furnace are used to refine and thus reveal the pure metals. The analogy is that praise will reveal the person because others will examine and evaluate what an individual has done in order to make the public acclamation.
174 tn Heb “and a man,” but the context does not indicate this is limited only to males.
175 tn The verb “is proved” was supplied in the translation in view of the analogy. Many English versions supply “tested” for the same reason.
sn The proverb is saying that public praise is usually a good measure of the qualities and contributions of a person. The other side of it is that righteousness is often denounced, but the proverb is not addressing everything that people say.
176 tn Heb “by [the] praise of him.” The pronominal suffix is an objective genitive, meaning “the praise about him” (= “the praise he receives”). Some commentators would take the suffix as a subjective genitive, meaning “the praise he gives”; this would mean people stand revealed by what they praise (D. Kidner, Proverbs [TOTC], 168). That does not seem to work as well with the emblem of the first line which indicates being tested. The LXX adds a couplet: “The heart of the transgressor seeks evil; but the upright heart seeks knowledge.”
177 tn The verb means “to pound” in a mortar with a pestle (cf. NRSV “Crush”; NLT “grind”). The imperfect is in a conditional clause, an unreal, hypothetical condition to make the point.
178 tn The Hebrew term רִיפוֹת (rifot) refers to some kind of grain spread out to dry and then pounded. It may refer to barley groats (coarsely ground barley), but others have suggested the term means “cheeses” (BDB 937 s.v.). Most English versions have “grain” without being more specific; NAB “grits.”
179 tn The LXX contains this paraphrase: “If you scourge a fool in the assembly, dishonoring him, you would not remove his folly.” This removes the imagery of mortar and pestle from the verse. Using the analogy of pounding something in a mortar, the proverb is saying even if a fool was pounded or pulverized, meaning severe physical punishment, his folly would not leave him – it is too ingrained in his nature.
180 tn The sentence uses the infinitive absolute and the imperfect from יָדַע (yada’, “to know”). The imperfect here has been given the obligatory nuance, “you must know,” and that has to be intensified with the infinitive.
181 tn Heb “the faces of your flock.”
182 tn The idiom is “place [it on] your heart” or “take to heart.” Cf. NLT “put your heart into.”
183 tn Heb “riches are not forever” (so KJV, NASB); TEV “wealth is not permanent.” The term “last” is supplied in the translation for clarity.
184 tn The conjunction and the particle indicate that the same nuance continues here in the second colon, and so “last” has been supplied here as well.
185 sn Verse 25 is the protasis and v. 26 the apodosis. The two verses say that when the harvest is taken in, then the grass will grow, and they can sell and use their livestock. The lambs will provide clothing, and the goats when sold will pay for land.
186 sn This part of the proverb shows the proper interplay between human labor and divine provision. It teaches people to take care of what they have because it will not last forever.
187 tn Heb “life”; KJV, NAB “maintenance”; NRSV “nourishment.”