understanding will guard you,
to walk on the dark 13 ways,
they rejoice in perverse evil; 17
and who are devious 20 in their ways;
1 tn The noun לֵב (lev, “heart”) functions as a metonymy of association for “mind” and “thoughts” (BDB 524 s.v. 3). It represents the center of the inner life where the volition and emotions join to bring about actions. It is used here in parallelism with נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh, “soul”), for which see note.
3 tn Heb “pleasant.” The verb יִנְעָם (yin’am, “to be pleasant”) describes what is attractive. It is used of being physically attracted to one’s lover (Song 7:7) or to a close friendship (2 Sam 1:26). Here wisdom becomes attractive to the righteous, that is, the righteous desires to acquire it.
4 tn Heb “your soul.” The term נַפְשְׁךָ (nafshÿkha, “your soul”) functions as a synecdoche of part (= soul) for the whole person (= you); see BDB 660 s.v. 4.a.2. It also might function as a metonymy of association for emotions and passions (BDB 660 s.v. 6) or mental cognition (BDB 660 s.v. 7).
5 tn The word מְזִמָּה (mÿzimmah, “discretion”) is the ability to know the best course of action for achieving one’s goal. It is knowledge and understanding with a purpose. This kind of knowledge enables one to make the right choices that will protect him from blunders and their consequences (cf. NLT “wise planning”; CEV “sound judgment”).
6 tn Heb “will watch over you.”
7 tn The Hiphil infinitive construct of נָצַל (natsal, “to deliver”) expresses the purpose of understanding right conduct: to protect a person from the wicked. The verb נָצַל (natsal) means “to save; to deliver; to rescue,” as in snatching away prey from an animal, rescuing from enemies, plucking a brand from the fire, retrieving property, or the like. Here it portrays rescue from the course of action of the wicked.
8 tn The term “wicked” (רַע, ra’) means “bad, harmful, painful.” Rather than referring to the abstract concept of “wickedness” in general, the term probably refers to wicked people because of the parallelism with “those speaking perversity.”
9 tn Heb “man.” The singular noun אִישׁ (’ish, “man”) here will be further defined in vv. 13-15 with plural forms (verbs, nouns and suffixes). So the singular functions in a collective sense which is rendered in a plural sense in the translation for the sake of clarification and smoothness.
10 tn Heb “perversities.” The plural form of תַּהְפֻּכוֹת (tahpukhot) may denote a plurality of number (“perverse things”) or intensification: “awful perversity.” As here, it often refers to perverse speech (Prov 8:13; 10:31, 32; 23:33). It is related to the noun הֶפֶךְ (hefekh, “that which is contrary, perverse”) which refers to what is contrary to morality (Isa 29:16; Ezek 16:34; BDB 246 s.v. הֶפֶךְ). The related verb הָפַךְ (hafakh, “to turn; to overturn”) is used (1) literally of turning things over, e.g., tipping over a bowl (2 Kgs 21:13) and turning over bread-cakes (Judg 7:13; Hos 7:8) and (2) figuratively of perverting things so that they are morally upside down, so to speak (Jer 23:36). These people speak what is contrary to morality, wisdom, sense, logic or the truth.
12 tn Heb “paths of uprightness.” The noun יָשָׁר (yashar, “uprightness; straightness”) is an attributive genitive. The moral life is described in Proverbs as the smooth, straight way (2:13; 4:11). The wicked abandon the clear straight path for an evil, crooked, uncertain path.
13 tn Heb “ways of darkness.” Darkness is often metaphorical for sinfulness, ignorance, or oppression. Their way of life lacks spiritual illumination.
15 tn The Qal infinitive construct is the complementary use of the form, expressing the direct object of the participle.
16 tn Or “harm.”
17 tn Heb “the perversity of evil” (so NASB). The noun רָע (ra’, “evil”) functions as an attributed genitive which is modified by the construct noun תַהְפֻּכוֹת (tahpukhot, “perversity”) which functions as an attributive adjective.
18 tn The noun in this relative clause is an accusative of specification: The evil people are twisted with respect to their paths/conduct.
19 tn Heb “crooked.” The adjective עִקֵּשׁ (’iqqesh, “crooked; twisted”) uses the morphological pattern of adjectives that depict permanent bodily defects, e.g., blindness, lameness. Their actions are morally defective and, apart from repentance, are permanently crooked and twisted.