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Proverbs 3:27-35

Context
Wisdom Demonstrated in Relationships with People

3:27 Do not withhold good from those who need it, 1 

when 2  you 3  have the ability 4  to help. 5 

3:28 Do not say to your neighbor, “Go! Return tomorrow

and I will give it,” when 6  you have it with you at the time. 7 

3:29 Do not plot 8  evil against your neighbor

when 9  he dwells by you unsuspectingly.

3:30 Do not accuse 10  anyone 11  without legitimate cause, 12 

if he has not treated you wrongly.

3:31 Do not envy a violent man, 13 

and do not choose to imitate 14  any of his ways;

3:32 for one who goes astray 15  is an abomination 16  to the Lord,

but he reveals 17  his intimate counsel 18  to the upright.

3:33 The Lord’s curse 19  is on the household 20  of the wicked, 21 

but he blesses 22  the home 23  of the righteous. 24 

3:34 Although 25  he is scornful to arrogant scoffers, 26 

yet 27  he shows favor to the humble. 28 

3:35 The wise inherit honor,

but he holds fools up 29  to public contempt. 30 

1 tn The MT has “from its possessors” and the LXX simply has “from the poor.” C. H. Toy (Proverbs [ICC], 77) suggests emending the text to read “neighbors” (changing בְּעָלָיו [bealav] to רֵעֶיךָ, reekha) but that is gratuitous. The idea can be explained as being those who need to possess it, or as BDB 127 s.v. בַּעַל has it with an objective genitive, “the owner of it” = the one to whom it is due.

2 tn The infinitive construct with preposition ב (bet) introduces a temporal clause: “when….”

3 tc The form יָדֶיךָ (yadekha) is a Kethib/Qere reading. The Kethib is the dual יָדֶיךָ (“your hands”) and the Qere is the singular יָדְךָ (yadÿkha, “your hand”). Normally the Qere is preferred because it represents an alternate textual tradition that the Masoretes viewed as superior to the received text.

tn Heb “your hand.” The term יָדְךָ (“your hand”) functions as a synecdoche of part (= your hand) for the whole person (= you).

4 tn Heb “it is to the power of your hand.” This expression is idiomatic for “it is in your power” or “you have the ability” (Gen 31:29; Deut 28:23; Neh 5:5; Mic 2:1). The noun אֵל (’el) means “power” (BDB 43 s.v. 7), and יָד (yad, “hand”) is used figuratively to denote “ability” (BDB 390 s.v. 2). Several translations render this as “when it is in your power to do it” (KJV, RSV, NRSV, NASB) or “when it is in your power to act” (NIV). W. McKane suggests, “when it is in your power to confer it” (Proverbs [OTL], 215).

5 tn Heb “to do [it]” (cf. KJV, NASB, NRSV).

6 tn Heb “and it is with you.” The prefixed vav introduces a circumstantial clause: “when …”

7 tn The words “at the time” are not in the Hebrew text, but are supplied in the translation for clarity.

8 sn The verb חָרַשׁ (kharash) means “to cut in; to engrave; to plough; to devise.” The idea of plotting is metaphorical for working, practicing or fabricating (BDB 360 s.v.).

9 tn The vav (ו) prefixed to the pronoun introduces a disjunctive circumstantial clause: “when….”

10 sn The term רִיב (riv) can mean “quarrel” or “legal accusation” (BDB 936 s.v.). Both ideas would work but the more technical legal accusation fits the context better. This is a warning to not bring legal accusations against anyone without a legitimate reason.

11 tn Heb “a man.”

12 tn Heb “gratuitously”; NIV, TEV “for no (+ good NCV) reason.” The adverb חִנָּם (khinam) means “without cause, undeservedly,” especially of groundless hostility (HALOT 334 s.v. 3; BDB 336 s.v. c).

13 tn Heb “a man of violence.” The noun חָמָס (khamas, “violence”) functions as an attributive genitive. The word itself means “violence, wrong” (HALOT 329 s.v.) and refers to physical violence, social injustice, harsh treatment, wild ruthlessness, injurious words, hatred, and general rudeness (BDB 329 s.v.).

14 tn Heb “do not choose.”

15 tn The basic meaning of the verb לוּז (luz) is “to turn aside; to depart” (BDB 531 s.v.). The Niphal stem is always used figuratively of moral apostasy from the path of righteousness: (1) “to go astray” (Prov 2:15; 3:32; 14:2) and (2) “crookedness” in action (Isa 30:12; see HALOT 522 s.v. לוז nif; BDB 531 s.v. Niph).

16 tn Heb “abomination of the Lord.” The term יְהוָה (yÿhvah, “the Lord”) functions as a genitive of respect: “abomination to the Lord.” It is loathsome or detestable to him. Things that are repugnant to the Lord are usually the most heinous of crimes and gross violations of rituals.

17 tn Heb “but with the upright is his intimate counsel.” The phrase “he reveals” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for the sake of smoothness and clarity.

18 tn Heb “his counsel.” The noun סוֹד (sod) can refer to (1) “intimate circle” of friends and confidants, (2) “confidential discussion” among friends and confidants, or “secret counsel” revealed from one confidant to another and kept secret and (3) relationship of “intimacy” with a person (BDB 691 s.v.; HALOT 745 s.v.). God reveals his secret counsel to the heavenly assembly (Job 15:8; Jer 23:18, 22) and his prophets (Amos 3:7). God has brought the angels into his “intimate circle” (Ps 89:8). Likewise, those who fear the Lord enjoy an intimate relationship with him (Job 29:4; Ps 25:14; Prov 3:32). The perverse are repugnant to the Lord, but he takes the upright into his confidence and brings him into his intimate circle.

19 tn Heb “the curse of the Lord.” This expression features a genitive of possession or source: “the Lord’s curse” or “a curse from the Lord.” The noun מְאֵרַה (mÿerah, “curse”) connotes banishment or separation from the place of blessing. It is the antonym of בְּרָכָה (bÿrakhah, “blessing”). The curse of God brings ruin and failure to crops, land in general, an individual, or the nation (Deut 28:20; Mal 2:2; 3:9; see BDB 76 s.v. מְאֵרַה; HALOT 541 s.v.).

20 tn Heb “house.” The term בֵּית (bet, “house”) functions as a synecdoche of container (= house) for the persons contained (= household). See, e.g., Exod 1:21; Deut 6:22; Josh 22:15 (BDB 109 s.v. 5.a).

21 sn The term “wicked” is singular; the term “righteous” in the second half of the verse is plural. In scripture such changes often hint at God’s reluctance to curse, but eagerness to bless (e.g., Gen 12:3).

22 sn The term “bless” (בָּרַךְ, barakh) is the antithesis of “curse.” A blessing is a gift, enrichment, or endowment. The blessing of God empowers one with the ability to succeed, and brings vitality and prosperity in the material realm, but especially in one’s spiritual relationship with God.

23 tn Heb “habitation.” The noun נָוֶה (naveh, “habitation; abode”), which is the poetic parallel to בֵּית (bet, “house”), usually refers to the abode of a shepherd in the country: “habitation” in the country (BDB 627 s.v. נָוֶה). It functions as a synecdoche of container (= habitation) for the contents (= people in the habitation and all they possess).

24 tn The Hebrew is structured chiastically (AB:BA): “The curse of the Lord / is on the house of the wicked // but the home of the righteous / he blesses.” The word order in the translation is reversed for the sake of smoothness and readability.

25 tn The particle אִם (’im, “though”) introduces a concessive clause: “though….”

26 tn Heb “he mocks those who mock.” The repetition of the root לִיץ (lits, “to scorn; to mock”) connotes poetic justice; the punishment fits the crime. Scoffers are characterized by arrogant pride (e.g., Prov 21:24), as the antithetical parallelism with “the humble” here emphasizes.

27 tn The prefixed vav (ו) introduces the apodosis to the concessive clause: “Though … yet …”

28 tn The Hebrew is structured chiastically (AB:BA): “he scorns / arrogant scoffers // but to the humble / he gives grace.” The word order in the translation is reversed for the sake of smoothness and readability.

29 tc MT reads מֵרִים (merim, “he lifts up”): singular Hiphil participle of רוּם (rum, “to rise; to exalt”), functioning verbally with the Lord as the implied subject: “but he lifts up fools to shame.” The LXX and Vulgate reflect the plural מְרִימִים (mÿrimim, “they exalt”) with “fools” (כְּסִילִים, kesilim) as the explicit subject: “but fools exalt shame.” The textual variant was caused by haplography or dittography of ים (depending on whether MT or the alternate tradition is original).

30 tn The noun קָלוֹן (qalon, “ignominy; dishonor; contempt”) is from קָלָה (qalah) which is an alternate form of קָלַל (qalal) which means (1) “to treat something lightly,” (2) “to treat with contempt [or, with little esteem]” or (3) “to curse.” The noun refers to personal disgrace or shame. While the wise will inherit honor, fools will be made a public display of dishonor. God lets fools entangle themselves in their folly in a way for all to see.



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