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.
but the righteous person is as confident 189 as a lion.
but those who keep the law contend 199 with them.
but those who seek the Lord 202 understand it all.
gathers it for someone who is gracious 212 to the needy.
28:10 The one who leads the upright astray in an evil way
will himself fall into his own pit, 216
but the blameless will inherit what is good. 217
but a discerning poor person can evaluate him properly. 220
but when the wicked rise to power, people are sought out. 223
but whoever confesses them and forsakes them will find mercy. 226
but whoever hardens his heart 228 will fall into evil.
so is a wicked ruler over a poor people. 231
but the one who hates 233 unjust gain will prolong his days.
let no one support him.
but the one who hastens 244 to gain riches will not go unpunished.
for a person will transgress over the smallest piece of bread. 247
and does not know that poverty will overtake him. 249
than the one who flatters 253 with the tongue.
but when they perish, 271 the righteous increase.
when the wicked rule, the people groan. 277
but one who exacts tribute 285 tears it down.
the wicked does not understand such 295 knowledge.
but those who are wise turn away wrath.
as for the upright, they seek his life. 305
but a wise person keeps it back. 307
the Lord gives light 314 to the eyes of them both.
his throne 316 will be established forever.
but the righteous will see 323 their downfall.
There is more hope for a fool than for him. 337
he will be a weakling 339 in the end.
but one who has a lowly spirit 345 will gain honor.
he hears the oath to testify, 348 but does not talk.
but whoever trusts in the Lord will be set on high. 352
but it is from the Lord that one receives justice. 354
29:27 An unjust person is an abomination to the righteous,
and the one who lives an upright life is an abomination to the wicked. 355
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.”
188 sn The line portrays the insecurity of a guilty person – he flees because he has a guilty conscience, or because he is suspicious of others around him, or because he fears judgment.
189 tn The verb בָּטַח (batakh) means “to trust; to be secure; to be confident.” Cf. KJV, NASB, NIV, NRSV, NLT “bold.”
sn The righteous, who seek to find favor with God and man, have a clear conscience and do not need to look over their shoulders for avengers or law enforcers. Their position is one of confidence, so that they do not flee.
190 sn The Hebrew word translated “rebellious” has rebellion as its basic meaning, and that is the idea here. The proverb is describing a time when sinfulness brings about social and political unrest.
191 tn Heb “many are its princes” (so NASB).
sn In such a chaotic time there will be many rulers, either simultaneously or in a rapid sequence. The times of the judges or the days of the northern kings of Israel provide examples.
192 tn Heb “a man who understands [and] knows”; NRSV “an intelligent ruler”; NLT “wise and knowledgeable leaders.”
193 tc The LXX reads (probably from a different underlying Hebrew text): “It is the fault of a violent man that quarrels start, but they are settled by a man of discernment.” For a survey of suggestions, see C. H. Toy, Proverbs (ICC), 495, and W. McKane, Proverbs (OTL), 630.
tn This last line is difficult. The MT has כֵּן יַאֲרִיךְ (ken ya’arikh). The verb means “to prolong,” but כֵּן (ken) is open to several possibilities for meaning. J. H. Greenstone’s interpretation of it as a noun from the Hollow root כּוּן (kun) with a meaning of “established order” is what is expected here (Proverbs, 293).
sn For a study of the verses in chapters 28 and 29 concerning kings and governments, see B. V. Malchow, “A Manual for Future Monarchs,” CBQ 47 (1985): 238-45.
194 tc The MT reads “a poor man,” גֶּבֶר רָשׁ (gever rash); cf. KJV, NASB, NLT. The problem is that the poor in the book of Proverbs is not an oppressor and does not have the power to be such. So commentators assume the word is incorrect. By a slight change to רָשָׁע (rasha’) the reading becomes “a wicked ruler” [Heb “a wicked mighty man”]. There is no textual support for this change. The LXX, however, reads, “A courageous man oppresses the poor with impieties.” If “a poor man” is retained, then the oppression would include betrayal – one would expect a poor man to have sympathy for others who are impoverished, but in fact that is not the case. It is a sad commentary on human nature that the truly oppressed people can also be oppressed by other poor people.
195 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.
196 sn “Food” is a metonymy of effect here. The picture is of the driving rain that should cause crops to grow so that food can be produced – but does not (some English versions assume the crops are destroyed instead, e.g., NCV, TEV, CEV, NLT). The point the proverb is making is that a show of strength may not produce anything except ruin.
197 sn Some commentators do not think that the word refers to the Mosaic law, but to “instruction” or “teaching” in general (cf. NCV “who disobey what they have been taught”). However, the expression “keep the law” in the second line indicates that it is binding, which would not be true of teaching in general (J. Bright, “The Apodictic Prohibition: Some Observations,” JBL 92 : 185-204). Moreover, Proverbs 28:9 and 29:18 refer to the law, and this chapter has a stress on piety.
198 sn The proverb gives the outcome and the evidence of those who forsake the law – they “praise the wicked.” This may mean (1) calling the wicked good or (2) justifying what the wicked do, for such people are no longer sensitive to evil.
199 tn The verb is the Hitpael imperfect of גָּרָה (garah), which means “to stir up strife” but in this stem means “to engage in strife” (cf. NIV “resist them”). Tg. Prov 28:4 adds an explanatory expansion, “so as to induce them to repent.”
200 tn Heb “men of evil”; the context does not limit this to males only, however.
201 tn The term translated “justice” is מִשְׁפָּט (mishpat); it refers to the legal rights of people, decisions that are equitable in the community. W. G. Plaut observes that there are always those who think that “justice” is that which benefits them, otherwise it is not justice (Proverbs, 282).
202 sn The contrast (and the difference) is between the wicked and those who seek the
203 sn This chapter gives a lot of attention to the contrast between the poor and the rich, assuming an integrity for the poor that is not present with the rich; the subject is addressed in vv. 6, 8, 11, 20, 22, 25, and 27 (G. A. Chutter, “Riches and Poverty in the Book of Proverbs,” Crux 18 : 23-28).
204 tn The Hebrew term translated “ways” is in the dual, suggesting that the person has double ways, i.e., he is hypocritical. C. H. Toy does not like this idea and changes the form to the plural (Proverbs [ICC], 497), but his emendation is gratuitous and should be rejected.
205 tn Heb “and he is rich.” Many English versions treat this as a concessive clause (cf. KJV “though he be rich”).
206 sn This is another “better” saying, contrasting a poor person who has integrity with a rich person who is perverse. Of course there are rich people with integrity and perverse poor people, but that is not of interest here. If it came to the choices described here, honest poverty is better than corrupt wealth.
207 tn The Hebrew word could refer (1) to “instruction” by the father (cf. NCV) or (2) the Mosaic law (so most English versions). The chapter seems to be stressing religious obedience, so the referent is probably the law. Besides, the father’s teaching will be what the law demands, and the one who associates with gluttons is not abiding by the law.
208 tn Heb “son,” but the immediate context does not suggest limiting this only to male children.
209 sn The companion of gluttons shames his father and his family because such a life style as he now embraces is both unruly and antisocial.
210 tn Heb “father,” but the immediate context does not suggest limiting this only to the male parent.
211 tn Heb “by interest and increase” (so ASV; NASB “by interest and usury”; NAB “by interest and overcharge.” The two words seem to be synonyms; they probably form a nominal hendiadys, meaning “by increasing [exorbitant] interest.” The law prohibited making a commission or charging interest (Exod 22:25; Lev 25:36-37; Deut 23:20; Ps 15:5). If the poor needed help, the rich were to help them – but not charge them interest.
212 tn The term חוֹנֵן (khonen, “someone who shows favor”) is the active participle.
sn The verse is saying that in God’s justice wealth amassed unjustly will eventually go to the poor. God will take the wealth away from them and give it to people who will distribute it better to the poor.
213 sn The expression “turn away the ear from hearing” uses a metonymy to mean that this individual will not listen – it indicates a deliberate refusal to follow the instruction of the law.
214 sn It is hard to imagine how someone who willfully refuses to obey the law of God would pray according to the will of God. Such a person is more apt to pray for some physical thing or make demands on God. (Of course a prayer of repentance would be an exception and would not be an abomination to the
215 sn C. H. Toy says, “If a man, on his part, is deaf to instruction, then God, on his part, is deaf to prayer” (Proverbs [ICC], 499). And W. McKane observes that one who fails to attend to God’s law is a wicked person, even if he is a man of prayer (Proverbs [OTL], 623).
216 sn The image of falling into a pit (a figure of speech known as hypocatastasis, involving implied comparison) is meant to say that the evil to which he guides people will ultimately destroy him.
217 sn This proverb is teaching that those who corrupt others will be destroyed, usually by their own devices, but those who manage to avoid being corrupted will be rewarded. According to this proverb the righteous can be led astray (e.g., 26:27).
218 tn Heb “a rich man,” although the context does not indicate that this is limited only to males.
219 sn The idiom “in his own eyes” means “in his own opinion,” that is, his self conceit. The rich person thinks he is wise because he is rich, that he has made all the right choices.
220 tn The form יַחְקְרֶנּוּ (yakhqÿrennu) means “he searches him” (cf. KJV, ASV) or “he examines him”; a potential imperfect nuance fits well here to indicate that a discerning person, even though poor, can search the flaws of the rich and see through the pretension and the false assumptions (cf. NAB, NASB, NIV “sees through him”). Several commentators have connected the word to the Arabic root hqr, which means “despise” (D. W. Thomas, “Notes on Some Passages in the Book of Proverbs,” JTS 38 : 400-403), but that would be both predictable and flat.
221 tn The form בַּעֲלֹץ (ba’alots) is the infinitive construct with the preposition indicating a temporal clause (“when…”); the “righteous” are the subject of this clause (subjective genitive). The word may be taken as a metonymy of adjunct – the righteous exult or rejoice because they are prosperous (cf. NLT “succeed”).
222 sn “Glory” here may have the sense of elation and praise.
223 tn The meaning of “sought out” (יְחֻפַּשׂ, yÿkhuppas) indicates that people have gone into hiding. So the development of the ideas for this proverb require in the first line that “rejoice” be connected with “triumph” that means they have come to power; and in the second line that “are sought out” means people have gone into hiding (cf. ASV, NIV, NRSV, NLT). C. H. Toy thinks this is too strained; he offers this rendering: “When the righteous are exalted there is great confidence, but when the wicked come into power men hide themselves” (Proverbs [ICC], 500). For the verb G. R. Driver posits an Arabic cognate hafasa, “prostrated; trampled on” (“Problems in the Hebrew Text of Proverbs,” Bib 32 : 192-93), which gives a clearer result of wicked rule, but is perhaps unnecessary (e.g., Prov 28:28; 29:2). See J. A. Emerton, “Notes on Some Passages in the Book of Proverbs,” JTS 20 (1969): 202-20.
224 tn The Hebrew participles provide the subject matter in this contrast. On the one hand is the person who covers over (מְכַסֶּה, mÿkhasseh) his sins. This means refusing to acknowledge them in confession, and perhaps rationalizing them away. On the other hand there is the one who both “confesses” (מוֹדֶה, modeh) and “forsakes” (עֹזֵב, ’ozev) the sin. To “confess” sins means to acknowledge them, to say the same thing about them that God does.
225 sn The verse contrasts the consequences of each. The person who refuses to confess will not prosper. This is an understatement (a figure of speech known as tapeinosis); the opposite is the truth, that eventually such a person will be undone and ruined. On the other hand, the penitent will find mercy. This expression is a metonymy of cause for the effect – although “mercy” is mentioned, what mercy provides is intended, i.e., forgiveness. In other passages the verb “conceal” is used of God’s forgiveness – he covers over the iniquity (Ps 32:1). Whoever acknowledges sin, God will cover it; whoever covers it, God will lay it open.
226 sn This verse is unique in the book of Proverbs; it captures the theology of forgiveness (e.g., Pss 32 and 51). Every part of the passage is essential to the point: Confession of sins as opposed to concealing them, coupled with a turning away from them, results in mercy.
227 tn Most commentators (and some English versions, e.g., NIV) assume that the participle מְפַחֵד (mÿfakhed, “fears”) means “fears the
228 sn The one who “hardens his heart” in this context is the person who refuses to fear sin and its consequences. The image of the “hard heart” is one of a stubborn will, unyielding and unbending (cf. NCV, TEV, NLT). This individual will fall into sin.
229 tn The term “like” is not in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity and smoothness.
230 sn The comparison uses animals that are powerful, terrifying, insensitive, and in search of prey. Because political tyrants are like this, animal imagery of this sort is also used in Dan 7:1-8 for the series of ruthless world powers.
231 sn A poor nation under the control of political tyrants who are dangerous and destructive is helpless. The people of that nation will crumble under them because they cannot meet their demands and are of no use to them.
232 tn Heb “A prince lacking of understanding [is] also a great oppressor” (both KJV, ASV similar) The last clause, “and a great oppressor,” appears to modify “the prince.” There is little difference in meaning, only in emphasis. The LXX has “lacks income” (reading תְּבוּאוֹת [tÿvu’ot] instead of תְּבוּנוֹת [tÿvunot]). C. H. Toy (Proverbs [ICC], 501) suggests deleting the word for “prince” altogether, but this emendation is gratuitous.
233 tc This follows the Qere reading of the participle which is singular (as opposed to the plural). The implication is that this one is also a ruler, paralleling the first half. But since he “hates” (= rejects) unjust gain he will extend [his] days, meaning he will enjoy a long and happy life (cf. NIV, NRSV, CEV).
234 tn The form is the Qal passive participle. The verb means “to oppress; to wrong; to extort”; here the idea of being “oppressed” would refer to the burden of a guilty conscience (hence “tormented”; cf. NAB, NRSV “burdened”). Some commentators have wanted to emend the text to read “suspected,” or “charged with,” or “given to,” etc., but if the motive is religious and not legal, then “oppressed” or “tormented” is preferred.
235 sn The text has “the blood of a life”; blood will be the metonymy of effect for the murder, the shedding of blood.
236 tn The verse is cryptic; it simply says that he will “flee to the pit.” Some have taken the “pit” to refer to the place of detention for prisoners, but why would he flee to that place? It seems rather to refer to death. This could mean that (1) since there is no place for him to go outside of the grave, he should flee to the pit (cf. TEV, NLT), or (2) he will be a fugitive until he goes to the grave (cf. NASB, NIV, NCV, NRSV, CEV). Neither one of these options is easily derived from the text. The verse seems to be saying that the one who is guilty of murder will flee, and no one should assist him. The meaning of “the pit” is unresolved.
237 tn The form is the Niphal imperfect of יָשַׁע (yasha’, “will be saved”). In all probability this refers to deliverance from misfortune. Some render it “kept safe” (NIV) or “will be safe” (NRSV, TEV). It must be interpreted in contrast to the corrupt person who will fall.
238 tn The Qal imperfect יִפּוֹל (yipol) is given a future translation in this context, as is the previous verb (“will be delivered”) because the working out of divine retribution appears to be coming suddenly in the future. The idea of “falling” could be a metonymy of adjunct (with the falling accompanying the ruin that comes to the person), or it may simply be a comparison between falling and being destroyed. Cf. NCV “will suddenly be ruined”; NLT “will be destroyed.”
239 tn The last word in the verse, בְּאֶחָת (bÿ’ekhat), means “in one [= at once (?)].” This may indicate a sudden fall, for falling “in one” (the literal meaning) makes no sense. W. McKane wishes to emend the text to read “into a pit” based on v. 10b (Proverbs [OTL], 622); this emendation is followed by NAB, NRSV.
240 tn Or “will have plenty of food” (Heb “bread”); so NAB, NASB, NCV.
241 tn Heb “empty things” or “vain things”; NRSV “follows worthless pursuits.”
sn Prosperity depends on diligent work and not on chasing empty dreams. The proverb is essentially the same as Prov 12:11 except for the last expression.
242 tn The repetition of the verb strengthens the contrast. Both halves of the verse use the verb יִשְׂבַּע (yisba’, “will be satisfied; will be filled with; will have enough”). It is positive in the first colon, but negative in the second – with an ironic twist to say one is “satisfied” with poverty.
243 tn Heb “a man of faithfulness,” although the context does not indicate this should be limited only to males.
sn The text does not qualify the nature of the faithfulness. While this would certainly have implications for the person’s righteous acts, its primary meaning may be his diligence and reliability in his work. His faithful work will bring the returns.
244 sn The proverb is not rebuking diligent labor. One who is eager to get rich quickly is the opposite of the faithful person. The first person is faithful to God and to the covenant community; the second is trying to get rich as quickly as possible, at the least without doing an honest day’s work and at the worst dishonestly. In a hurry to gain wealth, he falls into various schemes and will pay for it. Tg. Prov 28:20 interprets this to say he hastens through deceit and wrongdoing.
245 tn The construction uses the Hiphil infinitive הַכֵּר (hakken) as the subject of the sentence: “to have respect for [or, recognize] persons is not good” (e.g., 24:23; 18:5; Deut 1:17; Lev 19:15). Such favoritism is “not good”; instead, it is a miscarriage of justice and is to be avoided.
246 tn Heb “not good.” This is a figure of speech known as tapeinosis – a deliberate understatement to emphasize a worst-case scenario: “it is terrible!”
247 tn The meaning and connection of the line is not readily clear. It could be taken in one of two ways: (1) a person can steal even a small piece of bread if hungry, and so the court should show some compassion, or it should show no partiality even in such a pathetic case; (2) a person could be bribed for a very small price (a small piece of bread being the figure representing this). This second view harmonizes best with the law.
248 tn Heb “a man with an evil eye” (as opposed to the generous man who has a “good” eye). This individual is selfish, unkind, unsympathetic to others. He looks only to his own gain. Cf. NAB “The avaricious man”; NLT “A greedy person.”
249 sn The one who is hasty to gain wealth is involved in sin in some way, for which he will be punished by poverty. The idea of “hastening” after riches suggests a dishonest approach to acquiring wealth.
250 tn Or “rebukes” (NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV).
251 tn Heb “a man,” but the context does not indicate this should be limited only to males.
252 tn There is a problem with אַחֲרַי (’akharay), which in the MT reads “after me.” This could be taken to mean “after my instructions,” but that is forced. C. H. Toy suggests simply changing it to “after” or “afterward,” i.e., “in the end” (Proverbs [ICC], 504), a solution most English versions adopt. G. R. Driver suggested an Akkadian cognate ahurru, “common man,” reading “as a rebuker an ordinary man” (“Hebrew Notes,” ZAW 52 : 147).
253 tn The construction uses the Hiphil participle מַחֲלִיק (makhaliq, “makes smooth”) followed by the adverbial accusative of means, the metonymy “tongue” – he makes what he says smooth. This will be pleasing for the moment, but it will offer no constructive help like the rebuke would.
254 sn While the expression is general enough to cover any kind of robbery, the point seems to be that because it can be rationalized it may refer to prematurely trying to gain control of the family property through some form of pressure and in the process reducing the parents’ possessions and standing in the community. The culprit could claim what he does is not wrong because the estate would be his anyway.
255 sn The metaphor of “companion” here means that a person who would do this is just like the criminally destructive person. It is as if they were working together, for the results are the same.
256 tn Heb “man who destroys” (so NASB); TEV “no better than a common thief.”
257 tn Heb “wide of soul.” This is an idiom meaning “a greedy person.” The term נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh, traditionally, “soul”) has here its more basic meaning of appetites (a person is a soul, a bundle of appetites; BDB 660 s.v. 5.a). It would mean “wide of appetite” (רְהַב־נֶפֶשׁ), thus “greedy.”
258 sn Greed “stirs up” the strife. This individual’s attitude and actions stir up dissension because people do not long tolerate him.
259 tn The construction uses the participle בּוֹטֵחַ (boteakh) followed by עַל־יְהוָה (’al-yÿhvah), which gives the sense of “relying confidently on the
260 tn The verb דָּשֵׁן (dashen) means “to be fat,” and in the Piel/Pual stems “to make fat/to be made fat” (cf. KJV, ASV). The idea of being “fat” was symbolic of health and prosperity – the one who trusts in the
261 sn The idea of “trusting in one’s own heart” is a way of describing one who is self-reliant. C. H. Toy says it means to follow the untrained suggestions of the mind or to rely on one’s own mental resources (Proverbs [ICC], 505). It is arrogant to take no counsel but to rely only on one’s own intelligence.
262 sn The idiom of “walking in wisdom” means to live life according to the acquired skill and knowledge passed on from the sages. It is the wisdom from above that the book of Proverbs presents, not the undisciplined and uninformed wit and wisdom from below.
263 tn The verb form יִמָּלֵט (yimmalet) is the Niphal imperfect; the form means “to escape.” In this context one would conclude that it means “to escape from trouble,” because the one who lives in this life by wisdom will escape trouble, and the one who trusts in himself will not.
264 sn The generous individual will be rewarded. He will not lack nor miss what he has given away to the poor.
265 tn Heb “hides his eyes”; “to them” is supplied in the translation to indicate the link with the poor in the preceding line. Hiding or closing the eyes is a metonymy of cause or of adjunct, indicating a decision not to look on and thereby help the poor. It could also be taken as an implied comparison, i.e., not helping the poor is like closing the eyes to them.
266 tn The term “receives” is not in the Hebrew text but is implied, and is supplied in the translation.
267 sn The text does not specify the nature or the source of the curses. It is natural to think that they would be given by the poor who are being mistreated and ignored. Far from being praised for their contributions to society, selfish, stingy people will be reviled for their heartless indifference.
268 tn Heb “the wicked rise,” referring to an accession to power, as in a government. Cf. TEV “come to power”; NLT “take charge.”
269 tn Heb “a man” or “mankind” in a generic sense.
270 tn The form is the Niphal imperfect of סָתַר (satar, “to hide”); in this stem it can mean “to hide themselves” or “to go into hiding.” In either case the expression would be a hyperbole; the populace would not go into hiding, but they would tread softly and move about cautiously. G. R. Driver suggests the Akkadian sataru instead, which means “to demolish,” and is cognate to the Aramaic “to destroy.” This would produce the idea that people are “destroyed” when the wicked come to power (“Problems in the Hebrew Text of Proverbs,” Bib 32 : 192-93). That meaning certainly fits the idea, but there is no reason for the change because the MT is perfectly readable as it is and makes good sense.
271 tn The two clauses have parallel constructions: They both begin with infinitives construct with prepositions functioning as temporal clauses, followed by subjective genitives (first the wicked, and then the pronoun referring to them). This heightens the antithesis: “when the wicked rise…when they perish.”
272 tn The idiom “to harden the neck” (מַקְשֶׁה־עֹרֶף, maqsheh-’oref) is the idea of resisting the rebukes and persisting in obstinacy (e.g., Exod 32:9). The opposite of a “stiff neck” would be the bending back, i.e., submission.
273 tn The Hebrew construction is אִישׁ תּוֹכָחוֹת (’ish tokhakhot, “a man of rebukes”), meaning “a man who has (or receives) many rebukes.” This describes a person who is deserving of punishment and who has been given many warnings. The text says, then, “a man of rebukes hardening himself.”
275 tn Or “healing” (NRSV).
276 tn The Hebrew form בִּרְבוֹת (birvot) is the Qal infinitive construct of רָבָה (ravah) with a בּ (bet) preposition, forming a temporal clause with a subjective genitive following it. It is paralleled in the second colon by the same construction, showing the antithesis: וּבִמְשֹׁל (uvimshol), “and when the wicked rule.” Some commentators wish to change the first verb to make it parallel this more closely, e.g., רָדָה (radah, “to rule”), but that would be too neat and is completely unsupported. The contrast is between when the righteous increase and when the wicked rule. It is not hard to see how this contrast works out in society.
277 tn The Niphal verb אָנַח (’anakh) means “to sigh; to groan,” usually because of grief or physical and emotional distress. The word is a metonymy of effect; the cause is the oppression and distress due to evil rulers.
278 tn Heb “a man.” Here “man” is retained in the translation because the second colon mentions prostitutes.
279 tn Or “causes his father to rejoice”; NAB “makes his father glad.”
280 tn The active participle רֹעֶה (ro’eh) is from the second root רָעָה (ra’ah), meaning “to associate with.” The verb occurs only a few times, and mostly in the book of Proverbs. It is related to רֵעֶה (re’eh, “friend; companion; fellow”). To describe someone as a “companion” or “friend” of prostitutes is somewhat euphemistic; it surely means someone who is frequently engaging the services of prostitutes.
281 tn The Hebrew verb יְאַבֶּד (yÿ’abbed) means “destroys”; it is the Piel imperfect of the verb that means “to perish.”
282 sn Wealth was seen as a sign of success and of God’s blessings, pretty much as it always has been. To be seen as honorable in the community meant one had acquired some substance and kept his reputation. It would be a disgrace to the family to have a son who squandered his money on prostitutes (e.g., Prov 5:10; 6:31).
283 tn The form is the Hiphil imperfect of the verb עָמַד (’amad, “to stand”), hence, “to cause to stand.” It means that the king makes the nation “stand firm,” with “standing firm” being a figure for strength, security, and stability. Cf. NCV “makes his country (the nation CEV) strong.”
284 tn Or “country.” This term functions as a metonymy of subject for the people in the land.
285 tn The Hebrew text reads אִישׁ תְּרוּמוֹת (’ish tÿrumot, “a man of offerings”), which could refer to a man who “receives gifts” or “gives gifts.” Because of its destructive nature on the country, here the phrase must mean that he receives or “exacts” the money (cf. NRSV “makes heavy exactions”). This seems to go beyond the ordinary taxation for two reasons: (1) this ruler is a “man of offerings,” indicating that it is in his nature to do this, and (2) it tears down the country. The word “offerings” has been taken to refer to gifts or bribes (cf. NASB, NIV, CEV, NLT), but the word itself suggests more the idea of tribute or taxes that are demanded; this Hebrew word was used in Leviticus for offerings given to the priests, and in Ezek 45:16 for taxes. The point seems to be that this ruler or administrator is breaking the backs of the people with heavy taxes or tribute (e.g., 1 Sam 8:11-18), and this causes division and strife.
286 tn Heb “a man,” but the context here does not suggest that the proverb refers to males only.
287 tn The form is the Hiphil participle, literally “deals smoothly,” i.e., smoothing over things that should be brought to one’s attention.
sn The flatterer is too smooth; his words are intended to gratify. In this proverb some malice is attached to the flattery, for the words prove to be destructive.
288 sn The image of “spreading a net” for someone’s steps is an implied comparison (a figure of speech known as hypocatastasis): As one would literally spread a net, this individual’s flattery will come back to destroy him. A net would be spread to catch the prey, and so the idea is one of being caught and destroyed.
289 tn There is some ambiguity concerning the referent of “his steps.” The net could be spread for the one flattered (cf. NRSV, “a net for the neighbor’s feet”; NLT, “their feet,” referring to others), or for the flatterer himself (cf. TEV “you set a trap for yourself”). The latter idea would make the verse more powerful: In flattering someone the flatterer is getting himself into a trap (e.g., 2:16; 7:5; 26:28; 28:23).
290 tn The Syriac and Tg. Prov 29:6 simplify the meaning by writing it with a passive verb: “the evil man is ensnared by his guilt.” The metaphor of the snare indicates that the evil person will be caught in his own transgression.
291 tc The two verbs create some difficulty because the book of Proverbs does not usually duplicate verbs like this and because the first verb יָרוּן (yarun) is irregular. The BHS editors prefer to emend it to יָרוּץ (yaruts, “will rush”; cf. NAB “runs on joyfully”). W. McKane emends it to “exult” to form a hendiadys: “is deliriously happy” (Proverbs [OTL], 638). G. R. Driver suggests changing the word to יָדוֹן (yadon) based on two Hebrew
292 sn These two verbs express the confidence of the righteous – they have no fears and so can sing. So the proverb is saying that only the righteous can enjoy a sense of security.
293 tn The form is an active participle, יֹדֵעַ (yodea’); it describes the righteous as “knowing, caring for, having sympathetic knowledge for, or considering favorably” the legal needs of the poor. Cf. NAB “has a care for”; NASB “is concerned for.”
294 tn The Hebrew word used here is דִּין (din), which typically means “judgment,” but can also mean “strife” and “cause.” Here it refers to the “cause” of the poor (so KJV, ASV), their plea, their case, their legal rights. A righteous person is sympathetic to this.
295 tn The term “such” is supplied in the translation for clarification. It is not simply any knowledge that the wicked do not understand, but the knowledge mentioned in the first colon. They do not understand the “sympathetic knowledge” or “concern” for the cause of the poor.
296 tn Heb “men of scorn”; NAB “Arrogant men”; ASV, NRSV “Scoffers”; NIV, NLT “Mockers.”
297 tn The verb means “to blow; to breathe” (BDB 806 s.v. פּוּחַ). In the Hiphil imperfect its meaning here is “to excite; to inflame” a city, as in blowing up a flame or kindling a fire. It is also used with “words” in 6:19 and 12:17 – they “puff out words.” Such scornful people make dangerous situations worse, whereas the wise calm things down (e.g., 2 Sam 20).
298 tn The term “city” is a metonymy of subject; it refers to the people in the city who can easily be set in an uproar by such scornful people.
299 tn Heb “a wise man…a foolish man.”
300 tn The verb שָׁפַט (shafat) means “to judge.” In the Niphal stem it could be passive, but is more frequently reciprocal: “to enter into controversy” or “to go to court.” The word is usually used in connection with a lawsuit (so many recent English versions), but can also refer to an argument (e.g., 1 Sam 12:7; Isa 43:26); cf. NAB “disputes”; NASB “has a controversy.”
301 tn The noun נָחַת (nakhat) is a derivative of נוּחַ (nuakh, “to rest”) and so means “quietness” or “rest,” i.e., “peace.”
sn The proverb is saying that there will be no possibility of settling the matter in a calm way, no matter what mood the fool is in (e.g., Prov 26:4). R. N. Whybray says one can only cut the losses and have no further dealings with the fool (Proverbs [CBC], 168).
302 tn Heb “and he is angry and he laughs.” The construction uses the conjunctive vav to express alternate actions: “whether…or.”
303 tn Heb “men of bloods.” The Hebrew word for “blood” is written in the plural to reflect the shedding of blood. So the expression “men of bloods” means people who shed blood – murderers, bloodthirsty men, or those who would not hesitate to commit murder in order to get what they want.
304 sn The Hebrew word describes the “blameless” or “innocent” who maintain integrity. The bloodthirsty despise people who insist on decency and integrity.
305 tn Heb “and the upright seek his life.” There are two ways this second line can be taken. (1) One can see it as a continuation of the first line, meaning that the bloodthirsty men also “seek the life of the upright” (cf. NIV, NRSV). The difficulty is that the suffix is singular but the apparent referent is plural. (2) One can take it is as a contrast: “but as for the upright, they seek his life” – a fairly straightforward rendering (cf. ASV). The difficulty here is that “seeking a life” is normally a hostile act, but it would here be positive: “seeking” a life to preserve it. The verse would then say that the bloodthirsty hate the innocent, but the righteous protect them (W. McKane, Proverbs [OTL], 637; cf. NAB, NASB, TEV).
306 tn Heb “his spirit.” It has been commonly interpreted to mean “his anger” (ASV, NAB, NIV, NRSV), but it probably means more than that. The fool gives full expression to his “soul,” whether it is anger or bitterness or frustration or any other emotions. He has no self-control.
307 tn The line is difficult. The MT has בְּאחוֹר יְשַׁבְּחֶנָּה (bÿ’khor yÿshabbÿkhennah), which literally means “steals it back.” The verb שָׁבַח (shavakh) means “to soothe; to still,” as with a storm, or here with the temper. But because אָחוֹר (’akhor) does not fit very well with this verb, most commentators offer some suggested change. C. H. Toy reads “anger” instead of “back” and translates the verb “restrain” following the LXX, which has “self-control” (Proverbs [ICC], 510). The idea of self-control is what is intended, but the changes suggested are not entirely warranted. A number of English versions have “holds it back” (e.g., NASB, NRSV, NLT), and this fits the Hebrew as well as any.
308 tn The Hiphil participle מַקְשִׁיב (maqshiv) means “to give attention to; to regard; to heed.” Cf. NASB, NCV, TEV “pays attention to.”
sn Such a ruler would become known as one who could be lied to, because he paid attention to lies.
309 tn Heb “word of falsehood” or “lying word.” Cf. TEV “false information.”
310 tn The verb שָׁרַת (sharat) means “to minister; to serve.” The Piel plural participle here refers to servants of the king who attend to him – courtiers and ministers (cf. NIV, NRSV, TEV, CEV “officials”; NLT “advisers”). This, his entourage, will have to resort to evil practices to gain his favor if he is swayed by such lies.
311 sn The servants of the monarch adjust to their ruler; when they see that court flattery and deception are effective, they will begin to practice it and in the end become wicked (e.g., Prov 16:10; 20:8; 25:2).
312 tn Heb “a man of oppressions”; KJV “the deceitful man.” The noun תֹּךְ (tokh) means “injury; oppression” (BDB 1067 s.v.). Such men were usually the rich and powerful. The Greek and the Latin versions have “the debtor and creditor.”
313 tn The verb פָּגַשׁ (pagash) means “to meet; to encounter.” In the Niphal it means “to meet each other; to meet together” (cf. KJV, ASV). The focus in this passage is on what they share in common.
314 sn The expression gives light to the eyes means “gives them sight” (cf. NIV). The expression means that by giving them sight the
315 tn The king must judge “in truth” (בֶּאֱמֶת, be’emet). Some have interpreted this to mean “faithfully” (KJV, ASV) but that is somewhat unclear. The idea is that the poor must be treated fairly and justly (cf. NIV “with fairness”; NRSV “with equity”); “truth” is that which corresponds to the standard of the law revealed by God. There must be no miscarriage of justice for these people simply because they are poor.
316 sn The term “throne” is a metonymy of subject; it represents the dynasty, the reign of this particular king and his descendants. The qualification of the enduring administration is its moral character. The language of this proverb reflects the promise of the Davidic Covenant (e.g., Prov 16:12; 20:28; 25:5; 31:5).
317 tn The word “rod” is a metonymy of cause, in which the instrument being used to discipline is mentioned in place of the process of disciplining someone. So the expression refers to the process of discipline that is designed to correct someone. Some understand the words “rod and reproof” to form a hendiadys, meaning “a correcting [or, reproving] rod” (cf. NAB, NIV “the rod of correction”).
318 tn Heb “gives” (so NAB).
319 tn The form is a Pual participle; the form means “to let loose” (from the meaning “to send”; cf. KJV, NIV “left to himself”), and so in this context “unrestrained.”
320 sn The Hebrew participle translated “brings shame” is a metonymy of effect; the cause is the unruly and foolish things that an unrestrained child will do.
321 sn The focus on the mother is probably a rhetorical variation for the “parent” (e.g., 17:21; 23:24-25) and is not meant to assume that only the mother will do the training and endure the shame for a case like this (e.g., 13:24; 23:13).
322 tn The verb רָבָה (ravah), which is repeated twice in this line, means “to increase.” The first occurrence here is usually taken to mean that when the wicked increase they hold the power (cf. NRSV, NLT “are in authority”; TEV, CEV “are in power”). The text does not explain the details, only that when the wicked increase sin will increase in the land.
323 sn The Hebrew verb translated “see” in this context indicates a triumph: The righteous will gaze with satisfaction, or they will look on the downfall of the wicked triumphantly (e.g., Pss 37:4 and 112:8). The verse is teaching that no matter how widespread evil may be, the righteous will someday see its destruction.
324 tn The verb, a Hiphil imperfect with a suffix, could be subordinated to the preceding imperative to form a purpose clause (indirect volitive classification): “that he may give you rest.” The same then could apply to the second part of the verse.
326 sn The parallelism of this verse is synthetic; the second half adds the idea of “delight/pleasure” to that of “rest.” So a disciplined child will both relieve anxiety (“give…rest”) and bring happiness to the parents.
327 tn Heb “no vision.” The Hebrew word “vision” (from the verb חָזָה [khazah, “to see”]) refers to divine communication to prophets (as in 1 Sam 3:1) and not to individual goals or plans. C. H. Toy sees a problem here: The most calamitous period of Israel’s history was when prophetic vision was at its height, whereas people were often more obedient when God was silent. He also notes that in the book of Proverbs there is no mention of prophetic teaching with wisdom as a guide. So he emends the word to “guidance” following the LXX (Proverbs [ICC], 512). The TEV has “guidance”; the NIV retains “revelation.” It must be stated that the prophetic ministry was usually in response to the calamitous periods, calling the people back to God. Without them the downward rush to anarchy and destruction would have been faster than with these prophetic calls from God.
328 tn The verb פָּרַע (para’) means “to let go; to let alone.” It occurs here in the Niphal with the meaning of “[the people] are let loose,” meaning, they cast off restraint (e.g., Exod 32:25). Cf. NLT “run wild.”
329 sn The law here refers to scripture, the concrete form of revelation. So the two halves of the verse provide the contrast: When there is no prophetic revelation there is chaos, but those who keep the revelation contained in scripture find blessing.
330 tn There is a tendency among commentators and English versions to translate אַשְׁרֵהוּ (’ashrehu) as “happy is he!” (cf. KJV, ASV, NAB, NASB, TEV, NLT). But “happy” can be a misleading translation. The Hebrew word refers to a heavenly bliss, an inner joy, that comes from knowing one is right with God and experiencing his blessing. “Happiness,” on the other hand, depends on what happens.
331 sn Servants could not be corrected by mere words; they had to be treated like children for they were frequently unresponsive. This, of course, would apply to certain kinds of servants. The Greek version translated this as “a stubborn servant.”
332 tn The Niphal imperfect here is best rendered as a potential imperfect – “cannot be corrected.” The second line of the verse clarifies that even though the servant understands the words, he does not respond. It will take more.
333 tn Heb “for he understands, but there is no answer.” The concessive idea (“although”) is taken from the juxtaposition of the two parts.
334 sn To say “there is no answer” means that this servant does not obey – he has to be trained in a different way.
335 tn Heb “a man,” but there is no indication in the immediate context that this should be limited only to males.
336 sn The focus of this proverb is on someone who is hasty in his words. This is the person who does not stop to think, but acts on the spur of the moment. To speak before thinking is foolishness.
338 tn There is no conditional particle at the beginning of the verse; however, the relationship of the clauses, which lay down the condition first and then (with a vav) the consequences, indicates a conditional construction here. Cf. also NAB, NIV, NCV, TEV.
339 tn The word מָגוֹן (magon) is a hapax legomenon; accordingly, it has been given a variety of interpretations. The LXX has “grief,” and this has been adopted by some versions (e.g., NIV, NCV). The idea would be that treating the servant too easily for so long would not train him at all, so he will be of little use, and therefore a grief. J. Reider takes the word to mean “weakling” from the Arabic root na’na (“to be weak”), with a noun/adjective form muna’ana’ (“weak; feeble”); see his “Etymological Studies in Biblical Hebrew,” VT 4 : 276-95. This would give a different emphasis to the sentence, but on the whole not very different than the first. In both cases the servant will not be trained well. Rashi, a Jewish scholar who lived
340 tn Heb “a man of anger.” Here “anger” is an attributive (“an angry man”). This expression describes one given to or characterized by anger, not merely temporarily angry. The same is true of the next description.
341 tn Heb “possessor of wrath.” Here “wrath” is an attributive (cf. ASV “a wrathful man”; KJV “a furious man”).
342 tn Heb “an abundance of transgression.” The phrase means “abounding in transgression” (BDB 913 s.v. רַב 1.d]). Not only does the angry person stir up dissension, but he also frequently causes sin in himself and in others (e.g., 14:17, 29; 15:18; 16:32; 22:24).
343 tn Heb “pride of a man,” with “man” functioning as a possessive. There is no indication in the immediate context that this is restricted only to males.
344 tn There is a wordplay here due to the repetition of the root שָׁפֵל (shafel). In the first line the verb תִּשְׁפִּילֶנּוּ (tishpilennu) is the Hiphil imperfect of the root, rendered “will bring him low.” In the second line the word is used in the description of the “lowly of spirit,” שְׁפַל־רוּחַ (shÿfal-ruakh). The contrast works well: The proud will be brought “low,” but the one who is “lowly” will be honored. In this instance the wordplay can be preserved in the translation.
345 tn Heb “low in spirit”; KJV “humble in spirit.” This refers to an attitude of humility.
sn The Hebrew word translated “lowly” forms an implied comparison: To be humble is like being low, base, earthbound; whereas pride is often compared to being high, lofty – at least in one’s own eyes.
346 sn The expression shares with a thief describes someone who is an “accomplice” (cf. NAB, NIV) because he is willing to share in the loot without taking part in the crime.
347 tn Heb “hates his soul.” The accomplice is working against himself, for he will be punished along with the thief if he is caught.
348 tn Heb “oath” or “imprecation”; ASV “adjuration.” This amounted to an “oath” or “curse” (cf. NAB “he hears himself put under a curse”; NRSV “one hears the victim’s curse”) either by or on behalf of the victim, that any witness to the crime must testify (cf. Lev 5:1). However, in this legal setting referring to “a victim’s curse” could be misleading (cf. also KJV “he heareth cursing”), since it could be understood to refer to profanity directed against those guilty of the crime rather than an imprecation called down on a witness who refused to testify (as in the present proverb). The present translation specifies this as an “oath to testify.”
sn The oath to testify was not an oath to tell the truth before a court of law in the modern sense. Instead it was a “curse” or “imprecation” expressed by the victim of the theft, or by the legal authorities, called down on any witness of the crime who kept silent or refused to testify (as here). According to Lev 5:1, if a witness does not speak up he is accountable for the crime. This person hears the adjuration, but if he speaks up he is condemned, and if he does not speak up he is guilty under the law. The proverb is an unusual one; it seems to be warning against getting mixed up in any way with the thief, for it will create a serious ethical dilemma.
349 tn Heb “the fear of man.” This uses an objective genitive to describe a situation where fearing what people might do or think controls one’s life. There is no indication in the immediate context that this should be limited only to males, so the translation uses the more generic “people” here.
350 tn Heb “gives [or yields, or produces]”; NIV “will prove to be.”
351 sn “Snare” is an implied comparison; fearing people is like being in a trap – there is no freedom of movement or sense of security.
352 sn The image of being set on high comes from the military experience of finding a defensible position, a place of safety and security, such as a high wall or a mountain. Trusting in the
353 sn The idiom seek the face means to try to obtain favor from someone. According to the proverb, many people assume that true justice depends on the disposition of some earthly ruler.
354 tn Heb “but from the
355 tn Heb “who is upright in the way” (so NASB; KJV and ASV are similar). Here “in the way” refers to the course of a person’s life, hence “who lives an upright life.” Cf. NAB “he who walks uprightly.”
sn The proverb makes a simple observation on life: The righteous detest the wicked, and the wicked detest the lifestyle of the righteous. Each is troublesome to the beliefs and the activities of the other.