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Proverbs 4:25-27

Context

4:25 Let your eyes look directly 1  in front of you

and let your gaze 2  look straight before you.

4:26 Make the path for your feet 3  level, 4 

so that 5  all your ways may be established. 6 

4:27 Do not turn 7  to the right or to the left;

turn yourself 8  away from evil. 9 

1 tn The jussives in this verse are both Hiphil, the first from the verb “to gaze; to look intently [or, carefully],” (נָבַט, navat) and the second from the verb “to be smooth, straight” (יָשָׁר, yashar).

2 tn Heb “your eyelids.” The term “eyelids” is often a poetic synonym for “eye” (it is a metonymy of adjunct, something connected with the eye put for the eye that sees); it may intensify the idea as one might squint to gain a clearer look.

3 tn Heb “path of your foot.”

4 sn The verb is a denominative Piel from the word פֶּלֶס (peles), “balance; scale.” In addition to telling the disciple to keep focused on a righteous life, the sage tells him to keep his path level, which is figurative for living the righteous life.

5 tn The vav prefixed to the beginning of this dependent clause denotes purpose/result following the preceding imperative.

6 tn The Niphal jussive from כּוּן (cun, “to be fixed; to be established; to be steadfast”) continues the idiom of walking and ways for the moral sense in life.

7 sn The two verbs in this verse are from different roots, but nonetheless share the same semantic domain. The first verb is תֵּט (tet), a jussive from נָטָה (natah), which means “to turn aside” (Hiphil); the second verb is the Hiphil imperative of סוּר (sur), which means “to cause to turn to the side” (Hiphil). The disciple is not to leave the path of righteousness; but to stay on the path he must leave evil.

8 tn Heb “your foot” (so NAB, NIV, NRSV). The term רַגְלְךָ (raglÿkha, “your foot”) is a synecdoche of part (= foot) for the whole person (= “yourself”).

9 tc The LXX adds, “For the way of the right hand God knows, but those of the left hand are distorted; and he himself will make straight your paths and guide your goings in peace.” The ideas presented here are not out of harmony with Proverbs, but the section clearly shows an expansion by the translator. For a brief discussion of whether this addition is Jewish or early Christian, see C. H. Toy, Proverbs (ICC), 99.



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