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Proverbs 4:1-4

Context
Admonition to Follow Righteousness and Avoid Wickedness 1 

4:1 Listen, children, 2  to a father’s instruction, 3 

and pay attention so that 4  you may gain 5  discernment.

4:2 Because I give 6  you good instruction, 7 

do not forsake my teaching.

4:3 When I was a son to my father, 8 

a tender only child 9  before my mother,

4:4 he taught me, and he said to me:

“Let your heart lay hold of my words;

keep my commands so that 10  you will live.

1 sn The chapter includes an exhortation to acquire wisdom (1-4a), a list of the benefits of wisdom (4b-9), a call to pursue a righteous lifestyle (10-13), a warning against a wicked lifestyle (14-19), and an exhortation to righteousness (20-27).

2 tn Heb “sons.”

3 tn Heb “discipline.”

4 tn The Qal infinitive construct with preposition ל (lamed) indicates the purpose/result of the preceding imperative.

5 tn Heb “know” (so KJV, ASV).

6 tn The perfect tense has the nuance of instantaneous perfect; the sage is now calling the disciples to listen. It could also be a perfect of resolve, indicating what he is determined to do.

7 tn The word לֶקַח (leqakh, “instruction”) can be subjective (instruction acquired) or objective (the thing being taught). The latter fits best here.

8 tn Or “a boy with my father.”

9 tc The LXX introduces the ideas of “obedient” and “beloved” for these two terms. This seems to be a free rendering, if not a translation of a different Hebrew textual tradition. The MT makes good sense and requires no emendation.

tn Heb “tender and only one.” The phrase רַךְ וְיָחִיד (rakh vÿyakhid, “tender and only one”) is a hendiadys meaning “tender only child.” The adjective רַךְ (rakh) means “tender; delicate” (BDB 940 s.v. רַךְ), and describes a lad who is young and undeveloped in character (e.g., 2 Sam 3:39). The adjective יָחִיד (yakhid) means “only one” (BDB 402 s.v. יָחִיד) and refers to a beloved and prized only child (e.g., Gen 22:2).

10 tn The imperative with the vav expresses volitional sequence after the preceding imperative: “keep and then you will live,” meaning “keep so that you may live.”



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