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Proverbs 2:12-15


2:12 to deliver 1  you from the way of the wicked, 2 

from those 3  speaking perversity, 4 

2:13 who leave 5  the upright 6  paths

to walk on the dark 7  ways,

2:14 who delight 8  in doing 9  evil, 10 

they rejoice in perverse evil; 11 

2:15 whose paths 12  are morally crooked, 13 

and who are devious 14  in their ways;

1 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.

2 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.”

3 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.

4 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.

5 tn The articular plural active participle functions as attributive adjective for אִישׁ (’ish, “man”) in v. 12b, indicating that אִישׁ (“man”) is collective.

6 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.

7 tn Heb “ways of darkness.” Darkness is often metaphorical for sinfulness, ignorance, or oppression. Their way of life lacks spiritual illumination.

8 tn The articular plural active participle functions as the second attributive adjective for אִישׁ (’ish, “man”) in v. 12b.

9 tn The Qal infinitive construct is the complementary use of the form, expressing the direct object of the participle.

10 tn Or “harm.”

11 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.

12 tn The noun in this relative clause is an accusative of specification: The evil people are twisted with respect to their paths/conduct.

13 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.

14 tn The Niphal participle of לוּז (luz, “devious; crooked”) describes conduct that is morally deceptive, crafty, and cunning (Isa 30:12).

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