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Proverbs 27:15-16

Context

27:15 A continual dripping on a rainy day

and a contentious wife 1  are alike. 2 

27:16 Whoever hides her hides the wind 3 

or grasps 4  oil with his right hand. 5 

1 tn Heb “a wife of contentions” (an attributive genitive). Cf. NAB, NIV “a quarrelsome wife”; NLT “a nagging wife.”

2 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.”

3 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.

4 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.

5 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.”



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