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Proverbs 3:19-26

Context

3:19 By wisdom the Lord laid the foundation of the earth; 1 

he established the heavens by understanding. 2 

3:20 By his knowledge the primordial sea 3  was broken open, 4 

and the clouds drip down dew. 5 

3:21 My child, do not let them 6  escape from your sight;

safeguard sound wisdom and discretion. 7 

3:22 So 8  they will give 9  life to you, 10 

and grace to adorn 11  your neck. 12 

3:23 Then you will walk on your way 13  with security,

and you 14  will not stumble. 15 

3:24 When 16  you lie down you will not be filled with fear; 17 

when 18  you lie down your sleep will be pleasant. 19 

3:25 You will not be afraid 20  of sudden 21  disaster, 22 

or when destruction overtakes 23  the wicked; 24 

3:26 for the Lord will be 25  the source of your confidence, 26 

and he will guard your foot 27  from being caught in a trap. 28 

1 tn Heb “founded the earth.” The verb יָסַד (yasad, “to establish; to found”) describes laying the foundation of a building (1 Kgs 5:31 [HT]; 7:10; 2 Chr 3:3; Ezra 3:10-12; Zech 4:9) and God laying the foundation of the earth (Job 38:4; Pss 24:2; 89:12; 102:26; 104:5; Isa 48:13; 51:13, 16; Zech 12:1).

2 sn The theme of God’s use of wisdom in creation is developed in Prov 8:22-31. Because God established the world to operate according to the principle of wisdom it is impossible for anyone to live successfully in his world apart from the wisdom that only God can give.

3 sn The word תְּהוֹמוֹת (tÿhomot, “primordial sea”) alludes to the chaotic “deep” in Gen 1:2 (BDB 1063 s.v. תְּהוֹם 3). This was viewed in the ancient world as a force to be reckoned with. However, God not only formed it but controls it (see J. Emerton, “Spring and Torrent in Ps 74:15,” VT 15 [1965]: 125).

4 sn This might refer to God’s action of dividing the waters to form the dry ground on the third day (Gen 1:9-10) or, less likely, to the breaking up of the fountains of the deep at the flood (Gen 7:11).

5 sn The two colons form a merism: The wisdom of God is behind all forces of nature, whether the violent breaking forth of its watery forces at creation or the provision of the gentle rain and dew throughout history (T. T. Perowne, Proverbs, 55).

6 tn The object of the verb “escape” is either (1) wisdom, knowledge, and understanding in vv. 13-20 or (2) “wisdom and discretion” in the second colon of this verse. Several English versions transpose the terms “wisdom and discretion” from the second colon into the first colon for the sake of clarity and smoothness (e.g., RSV, NRSV, NIV, TEV, CEV).
NIV takes the subject from the second colon and reverses the clauses to clarify that.

7 tn Or: “purpose,” “power of devising.”

8 tn Heb “and.” The vav probably denotes purpose/result.

9 tn Heb “they will be.”

10 tn Heb “your soul.” The noun נַפְשֶׁךָ (nafshekha, “your soul”) is a synecdoche of part (= inner soul) for the whole person (= you); see BDB 600 s.v. 4.a.2.

11 tn The phrase “to adorn” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for the sake of clarity and smoothness.

12 tn Heb “grace for your neck.” See note on 1:9.

13 tn The noun דַּרְכֶּךָ (darkekha, “your way”) functions as an adverbial accusative of location: “on your way.”

14 tn Heb “your foot.” The term רַגְלְךָ (raglÿkha, “your foot”) functions as a synecdoche of part (= foot) for the whole person (= you).

15 sn The verb נָגַף (ragaf, “to strike; to smite”) sometimes means “to stumble” against a stone (e.g., Ps 91:12). Here the object (“stone”) is implied (BDB 619 s.v.). This is a figure (hypocatastasis) comparing stumbling on a stone in the path to making serious mistakes in life that bring harm.

16 tn The particle אִם (’im, “if”) here functions in its rare temporal sense (“when”) followed by an imperfect tense (e.g., Num 36:4; BDB 50 s.v. 1.b.4.b).

17 tn Heb “terror.” The verb פָּחַד (pakhad, “terror”) describes emotion that is stronger than mere fear – it is dread.

18 tn The construction of vav consecutive + perfect tense followed by vav (ו) consecutive + perfect tense depicts a temporal clause. The temporal nuance is also suggested by the parallelism of the preceding colon.

19 tn The verb עָרְבָה (’orvah) is from III עָרַב (“to be sweet; to be pleasing; to be pleasant”; BDB 787 s.v. III עָרַב). It should not be confused with the other five homonymic roots that are also spelled עָרַב (’arav; see BDB 786-88).

20 tn Heb “do not be afraid.” The negative exhortation אַל־תִּירָא (’al-tira’, “do not be afraid”) is used rhetorically to emphasize that the person who seeks wisdom will have no reason to fear the consequences of wicked actions.

21 tn Heb “terror of suddenness.” The noun פִּתְאֹם (pitom, “sudden”) functions as an attributive genitive: “sudden terror” (e.g., Job 22:10; BDB 837 s.v.).

22 tn Heb “terror.” The noun פַּחַד (pakhad, “terror”) is a metonymy of effect for cause (= disaster); see BDB 808 s.v. 2. This is suggested by the parallelism with the noun מִשֹּׁאַת (mishoat, “destruction”) in the following colon. The term פַּחַד (“terror”) often refers to the object (or cause) of terror (e.g., Job 3:25; 15:21; 22:10; 31:23; Pss 31:12; 36:2; Isa 24:18; Jer 48:44).

23 tn Heb “or the destruction of the wicked when it comes.”

24 tn Heb “destruction of the wicked.” The noun רְשָׁעִים (rÿshaim, “wicked ones”) probably functions as an objective genitive (the destruction that comes on the wicked) or a genitive of source (the destruction that the wicked bring on others).

25 tn Or “the Lord will be at your side.” Assuming that the noun כֶּסֶל (kesel) is related to the root II כָסַל (“confidence”; BDB 492 s.v. כֶּסֶל 3), the preposition ב (bet) introduces the predicate noun כִּסְלֶךָ (kislekha, “your confidence”) and functions as a beth essentiae (GKC 379 §119.i) which emphasizes the quality or nature of the noun (BDB 88 s.v. בְּ 7; HALOT 104 s.v. בְּ 3): “the Lord will be your confidence.” However, if the noun is related to I כסל (“loins; side”; HALOT 489 s.v. I כֶּסֶל 2), the preposition ב (bet) would function in a locative sense: “the Lord will be at your side.” See tn on the following phrase “source of your confidence.”

26 tn Heb “your confidence” (so NAB, NIV, NRSV) or “at your side.” There is debate whether the term כֶּסֶל (kesel) is related to the root I כָסַל “loins; side” (so HALOT 489 s.v. I כֶּסֶל 2) or II כָסַל “confidence” (so BDB 492 s.v. כֶּסֶל 3). The Vulgate relates it to I כָסַל and offers “the Lord will be at your side (latus).” Others relate it to II כָסַל “confidence” (e.g., Job 8:14; 31:24; Ps 78:7) and take it as a metonymy (= confidence) of adjunct (= object of confidence): “the Lord will be the source [or, object] of your confidence.”

27 sn The term רַגְלְךָ (raglekha, “your foot”) functions as a synecdoche of part (= your foot) for the whole person (= you). This synecdoche develops the extended comparison between the hunter’s snare and calamity that afflicts the wicked.

28 tn Heb “from capture.” The noun לָכֶד (lakhed, “capture; snare”) occurs only here in OT (BDB 540 s.v.; HALOT 530 s.v. לֶכֶד). It is figurative for the calamity of v. 25. God will protect the wise (or, righteous) from the consequences of sin (snares) that afflict the wicked.



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