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Proverbs 3:16-18

Context

3:16 Long life 1  is in her right hand;

in her left hand are riches and honor.

3:17 Her ways are very pleasant, 2 

and all her paths are peaceful.

3:18 She is like 3  a tree of life 4  to those who obtain her, 5 

and everyone who grasps hold of her will be blessed. 6 

1 tn Heb “length of days” (so KJV, ASV).

2 tn Heb “her ways are ways of pleasantness” (so KJV, NRSV). The present translation contracts this expression for the sake of smoothness. The plural of דֶרֶךְ (derekh, “way”) is repeated for emphasis. The noun נֹעַם (noam, “pleasantness”) functions as an attributive genitive: “pleasant ways.”

3 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.

4 sn The metaphor compares wisdom to the symbol of vitality and fullness of life. This might be an allusion to Gen 3:22, suggesting that what was lost as a result of the Fall may be recovered through wisdom: long and beneficial life (R. Marcus, “The Tree of Life in Proverbs,” JBL 62 [1943]: 117-20).

5 tn Heb “lay hold of her.”

6 tn The singular participle מְאֻשָּׁר (mÿushar, literally, “he will be blessed”) functions as a distributive singular for a plural subject (GKC 464 §145.l): “each and everyone will be blessed.” Not recognizing this point of syntax, the BHS editors unnecessarily suggest emending this singular form to the plural.



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