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Proverbs 29:5-6

Context

29:5 The one 1  who flatters 2  his neighbor

spreads a net 3  for his steps. 4 

29:6 In the transgression of an evil person there is a snare, 5 

but a righteous person can sing 6  and rejoice. 7 

1 tn Heb “a man,” but the context here does not suggest that the proverb refers to males only.

2 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.

3 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.

4 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).

5 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.

6 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 mss and an Arabic cognate dana, “continue.” He translates it “but the righteous remains and rejoices” (“Problems in the Hebrew Text of Proverbs,” Bib 32 [1951]: 193-94). None of these changes are particularly helpful. The verb is unusual for a geminate root, but Gesenius shows several places where the same pattern can be seen in other geminate verbs (GKC 180 §67.q). In light of this it is preferable to retain the reading of the MT here.

7 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.



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