but the righteous person is as confident 2 as a lion.
but those who keep the law contend 12 with them.
but those who seek the Lord 15 understand it all.
gathers it for someone who is gracious 25 to the needy.
28:10 The one who leads the upright astray in an evil way
will himself fall into his own pit, 29
but the blameless will inherit what is good. 30
but a discerning poor person can evaluate him properly. 33
but when the wicked rise to power, people are sought out. 36
but whoever confesses them and forsakes them will find mercy. 39
but whoever hardens his heart 41 will fall into evil.
so is a wicked ruler over a poor people. 44
but the one who hates 46 unjust gain will prolong his days.
let no one support him.
but the one who hastens 57 to gain riches will not go unpunished.
for a person will transgress over the smallest piece of bread. 60
and does not know that poverty will overtake him. 62
than the one who flatters 66 with the tongue.
but when they perish, 84 the righteous increase.
when the wicked rule, the people groan. 90
but one who exacts tribute 98 tears it down.
the wicked does not understand such 108 knowledge.
but those who are wise turn away wrath.
as for the upright, they seek his life. 118
but a wise person keeps it back. 120
the Lord gives light 127 to the eyes of them both.
his throne 129 will be established forever.
but the righteous will see 136 their downfall.
There is more hope for a fool than for him. 150
he will be a weakling 152 in the end.
but one who has a lowly spirit 158 will gain honor.
he hears the oath to testify, 161 but does not talk.
but whoever trusts in the Lord will be set on high. 165
but it is from the Lord that one receives justice. 167
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. 168
1 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.
2 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.
3 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.
4 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.
5 tn Heb “a man who understands [and] knows”; NRSV “an intelligent ruler”; NLT “wise and knowledgeable leaders.”
6 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.
7 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.
8 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.
9 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.
10 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.
11 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.
12 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.”
13 tn Heb “men of evil”; the context does not limit this to males only, however.
14 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).
15 sn The contrast (and the difference) is between the wicked and those who seek the
16 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).
17 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.
18 tn Heb “and he is rich.” Many English versions treat this as a concessive clause (cf. KJV “though he be rich”).
19 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.
20 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.
21 tn Heb “son,” but the immediate context does not suggest limiting this only to male children.
22 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.
23 tn Heb “father,” but the immediate context does not suggest limiting this only to the male parent.
24 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.
25 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.
26 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.
27 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
28 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).
29 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.
30 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).
31 tn Heb “a rich man,” although the context does not indicate that this is limited only to males.
32 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.
33 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.
34 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”).
35 sn “Glory” here may have the sense of elation and praise.
36 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.
37 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.
38 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.
39 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.
40 tn Most commentators (and some English versions, e.g., NIV) assume that the participle מְפַחֵד (mÿfakhed, “fears”) means “fears the
41 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.
42 tn The term “like” is not in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity and smoothness.
43 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.
44 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.
45 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.
46 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).
47 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.
48 sn The text has “the blood of a life”; blood will be the metonymy of effect for the murder, the shedding of blood.
49 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.
50 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.
51 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.”
52 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.
53 tn Or “will have plenty of food” (Heb “bread”); so NAB, NASB, NCV.
54 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.
55 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.
56 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.
57 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.
58 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.
59 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!”
60 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.
61 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.”
62 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.
63 tn Or “rebukes” (NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV).
64 tn Heb “a man,” but the context does not indicate this should be limited only to males.
65 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).
66 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.
67 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.
68 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.
69 tn Heb “man who destroys” (so NASB); TEV “no better than a common thief.”
70 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.”
71 sn Greed “stirs up” the strife. This individual’s attitude and actions stir up dissension because people do not long tolerate him.
72 tn The construction uses the participle בּוֹטֵחַ (boteakh) followed by עַל־יְהוָה (’al-yÿhvah), which gives the sense of “relying confidently on the
73 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
74 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.
75 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.
76 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.
77 sn The generous individual will be rewarded. He will not lack nor miss what he has given away to the poor.
78 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.
79 tn The term “receives” is not in the Hebrew text but is implied, and is supplied in the translation.
80 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.
81 tn Heb “the wicked rise,” referring to an accession to power, as in a government. Cf. TEV “come to power”; NLT “take charge.”
82 tn Heb “a man” or “mankind” in a generic sense.
83 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.
84 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.”
85 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.
86 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.”
88 tn Or “healing” (NRSV).
89 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.
90 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.
91 tn Heb “a man.” Here “man” is retained in the translation because the second colon mentions prostitutes.
92 tn Or “causes his father to rejoice”; NAB “makes his father glad.”
93 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.
94 tn The Hebrew verb יְאַבֶּד (yÿ’abbed) means “destroys”; it is the Piel imperfect of the verb that means “to perish.”
95 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).
96 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.”
97 tn Or “country.” This term functions as a metonymy of subject for the people in the land.
98 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.
99 tn Heb “a man,” but the context here does not suggest that the proverb refers to males only.
100 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.
101 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.
102 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).
103 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.
104 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
105 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.
106 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.”
107 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.
108 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.
109 tn Heb “men of scorn”; NAB “Arrogant men”; ASV, NRSV “Scoffers”; NIV, NLT “Mockers.”
110 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).
111 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.
112 tn Heb “a wise man…a foolish man.”
113 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.”
114 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).
115 tn Heb “and he is angry and he laughs.” The construction uses the conjunctive vav to express alternate actions: “whether…or.”
116 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.
117 sn The Hebrew word describes the “blameless” or “innocent” who maintain integrity. The bloodthirsty despise people who insist on decency and integrity.
118 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).
119 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.
120 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.
121 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.
122 tn Heb “word of falsehood” or “lying word.” Cf. TEV “false information.”
123 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.
124 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).
125 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.”
126 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.
127 sn The expression gives light to the eyes means “gives them sight” (cf. NIV). The expression means that by giving them sight the
128 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.
129 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).
130 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”).
131 tn Heb “gives” (so NAB).
132 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.”
133 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.
134 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).
135 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.
136 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.
137 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.
139 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.
140 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.
141 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.”
142 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.
143 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.
144 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.”
145 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.
146 tn Heb “for he understands, but there is no answer.” The concessive idea (“although”) is taken from the juxtaposition of the two parts.
147 sn To say “there is no answer” means that this servant does not obey – he has to be trained in a different way.
148 tn Heb “a man,” but there is no indication in the immediate context that this should be limited only to males.
149 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.
151 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.
152 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
153 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.
154 tn Heb “possessor of wrath.” Here “wrath” is an attributive (cf. ASV “a wrathful man”; KJV “a furious man”).
155 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).
156 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.
157 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.
158 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.
159 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.
160 tn Heb “hates his soul.” The accomplice is working against himself, for he will be punished along with the thief if he is caught.
161 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.
162 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.
163 tn Heb “gives [or yields, or produces]”; NIV “will prove to be.”
164 sn “Snare” is an implied comparison; fearing people is like being in a trap – there is no freedom of movement or sense of security.
165 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
166 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.
167 tn Heb “but from the
168 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.