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Proverbs 2:1-6

Context
Benefits of Seeking Wisdom 1 

2:1 My child, 2  if 3  you receive my words,

and store up 4  my commands within you,

2:2 by making 5  your ear 6  attentive to wisdom,

and 7  by turning 8  your heart 9  to understanding,

2:3 indeed, if 10  you call out for 11  discernment 12 

raise your voice 13  for understanding –

2:4 if 14  you seek 15  it like silver, 16 

and search for it 17  like hidden treasure,

2:5 then you will understand 18  how to fear the Lord, 19 

and you will discover 20  knowledge 21  about God. 22 

2:6 For 23  the Lord gives 24  wisdom,

and from his mouth 25  comes 26  knowledge and understanding.

1 sn The chapter begins with an admonition to receive wisdom (1-4) and then traces the benefits: the knowledge of God and his protection (5-8), moral discernment for living (9-11), protection from evil men (12-15) and immoral women (16-19), and enablement for righteous living (20-22).

2 tn Heb “my son.”

3 sn Verses 1-11 form one long conditional sentence in the Hebrew text: (1) the protasis (“if…”) encompasses vv. 1-4 and (2) the apodosis (“then…”) consists of two parallel panels in vv. 5-8 and vv. 9-11 both of which are introduced by the particle אָז (’az, “then”).

4 sn The verb “to store up” (צָפַן, tsafan; cf. NAB, NLT “treasure”) in the second colon qualifies the term “receive” (לָקַח, laqakh) in the first, just as “commands” intensifies “words.” This pattern of intensification through parallelism occurs throughout the next three verses. The verb “to store up; to treasure” is used in reference to things of value for future use, e.g., wealth, dowry for a bride. Since proverbs will be useful throughout life and not always immediately applicable, the idea of storing up the sayings is fitting. They will form the way people think which in turn will influence attitudes (W. G. Plaut, Proverbs, 43).

5 tn The Hiphil infinitive construct לְהַקְשִׁיב (lÿhaqshiv, “by making attentive”) functions as an epexegetical explanation of how one will receive the instruction.

6 sn The word “ear” is a metonymy of cause; the word is used as the instrument of hearing. But in parallelism with “heart” it indicates one aspect of the mental process of hearing and understanding. A “hearing ear” describes an obedient or responsive person (BDB 24 s.v. אֹזֶן 2).

7 tn The conjunction “and” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for the sake of smoothness.

8 tn The Hiphil imperfect (“by turning”) continues the nuance introduced by the infinitive construct in the first colon (GKC 352 §114.r). The verb נָטָה (natah) normally means “to stretch out” and only occasionally “to turn” or “to incline” one’s heart to something, as is the case here.

9 tn Or “mind” (the center of the will, the choice).

10 tn Both particles retain their individual meanings, otherwise the verse would begin with a strong adversative and be a contrast to what has been said.

11 tn Heb “summon.”

12 sn The noun recalls the second purpose of the book (1:2). It is also cognate to the last word of 2:2, forming a transition. The two objects of the prepositions in this verse are actually personifications, as if they could be summoned.

13 tn Heb “give your voice”; the expression is idiomatic for raising or lifting the voice to make a sound that carries further (e.g., Jer 2:15). This deliberate expression indicates that something significant is being uttered. J. H. Greenstone says, “If it [understanding] does not come at your first call, raise your voice to a higher pitch, put forth greater efforts” (Proverbs, 17).

14 tn The conditional particle now reiterates the initial conditional clause of this introductory section (1-4); the apodosis will follow in v. 5.

15 tn The verb בָּקַשׁ (baqash) means “to search for; to seek; to investigate” (BDB 134 s.v.). This calls for the same diligence one would have in looking for silver.

16 sn The two similes affirm that the value placed on the object will influence the eagerness and diligence in the pursuit and development of wisdom (e.g., Job 28:9-11). The point is not only that the object sought is valuable, but that the effort will be demanding but rewarding.

17 sn The verb חָפַשׂ (khafas) means “to dig; to search” (BDB 344 s.v.; cf. NCV “hunt for it”). The Arabic cognate means “to dig for water.” It is used literally of Joseph searching his brothers’ sacks (Gen 44:12) and figuratively for searching the soul (Ps 64:7). This is a more emphatic word than the one used in the first colon and again emphasizes that acquiring wisdom will be demanding.

18 tn The verb בִּין (bin, “to perceive; to understand; to discern”) refers to ability to grasp, discern or be sensitive to what it means to fear the Lord.

19 tn Heb “the fear of the Lord.” The noun is an objective genitive; the Lord is to be the object of fear and reverence.

20 tn Heb “find” (so KJV, NAB, NIV, NRSV).

21 tn The term דַּעַת (daat, “knowledge”) goes beyond cognition; it is often used metonymically (cause) for obedience (effect); see, e.g., Prov 3:6, “in all your ways acknowledge him,” and BDB 395 s.v. This means that the disciple will follow God’s moral code; for to know God is to react ethically and spiritually to his will (e.g., J. H. Greenstone, Proverbs, 18).

22 tn Heb “knowledge of God.” The noun is an objective genitive.

23 tn This is a causal clause. The reason one must fear and know the Lord is that he is the source of true, effectual wisdom.

24 tn The verb is an imperfect tense which probably functions as a habitual imperfect describing a universal truth in the past, present and future.

25 sn This expression is an anthropomorphism; it indicates that the Lord is the immediate source or author of the wisdom. It is worth noting that in the incarnation many of these “anthropomorphisms” become literal in the person of the Logos, the Word, Jesus, who reveals the Father.

26 tn The verb “comes” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for the sake of clarity and smoothness.



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