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Proverbs 5:1--7:27

Context
Admonition to Avoid Seduction to Evil 1 

5:1 My child, 2  be attentive to my wisdom,

pay close attention 3  to my understanding,

5:2 in order to safeguard 4  discretion, 5 

and that your lips may guard knowledge.

5:3 For the lips 6  of the adulterous woman drip honey,

and her seductive words 7  are smoother than olive oil,

5:4 but in the end 8  she is bitter 9  as wormwood, 10 

sharp as a two-edged 11  sword.

5:5 Her feet go down to death;

her steps lead straight to the grave. 12 

5:6 Lest 13  she should make level the path leading to life, 14 

her paths are unstable 15  but she does not know it. 16 

5:7 So now, children, 17  listen to me;

do not turn aside from the words I speak. 18 

5:8 Keep yourself 19  far 20  from her,

and do not go near the door of her house,

5:9 lest you give your vigor 21  to others

and your years to a cruel person,

5:10 lest strangers devour 22  your strength, 23 

and your labor 24  benefit 25  another man’s house.

5:11 And at the end of your life 26  you will groan 27 

when your flesh and your body are wasted away. 28 

5:12 And you will say, “How I hated discipline!

My heart spurned reproof!

5:13 For 29  I did not obey my teachers 30 

and I did not heed 31  my instructors. 32 

5:14 I almost 33  came to complete ruin 34 

in the midst of the whole congregation!” 35 

5:15 Drink water from your own cistern

and running water from your own well. 36 

5:16 Should your springs be dispersed 37  outside,

your streams of water in the wide plazas?

5:17 Let them be for yourself 38  alone,

and not for strangers with you. 39 

5:18 May your fountain be blessed, 40 

and may you rejoice 41  in your young wife 42 

5:19 a loving doe, 43  a graceful deer;

may her breasts satisfy you at all times,

may you be captivated 44  by her love always.

5:20 But why should you be captivated, 45  my son, by an adulteress,

and embrace the bosom of a different woman? 46 

5:21 For the ways of a person 47  are in front of the Lord’s eyes,

and the Lord 48  weighs 49  all that person’s 50  paths.

5:22 The wicked 51  will be captured by his 52  own iniquities, 53 

and he will be held 54  by the cords of his own sin. 55 

5:23 He will die because 56  there was no discipline;

because of the greatness of his folly 57  he will reel. 58 

Admonitions and Warnings against Dangerous and Destructive Acts 59 

6:1 My child, 60  if you have made a pledge 61  for your neighbor,

and 62  have become a guarantor 63  for a stranger, 64 

6:2 if 65  you have been ensnared 66  by the words you have uttered, 67 

and have been caught by the words you have spoken,

6:3 then, my child, do this in order to deliver yourself, 68 

because you have fallen into your neighbor’s power: 69 

go, humble yourself, 70 

and appeal firmly 71  to your neighbor.

6:4 Permit no sleep to your eyes 72 

or slumber to your eyelids.

6:5 Deliver yourself like a gazelle from a snare, 73 

and like a bird from the trap 74  of the fowler.

6:6 Go to the ant, you sluggard; 75 

observe its ways and be wise!

6:7 It has no commander,

overseer, or 76  ruler,

6:8 yet it prepares its food in the summer;

it gathers at the harvest what it will eat. 77 

6:9 How long, you sluggard, will you lie there?

When will you rise from your sleep? 78 

6:10 A little sleep, a little slumber,

a little folding of the hands to relax, 79 

6:11 and your poverty will come like a robber, 80 

and your need like an armed man. 81 

6:12 A worthless and wicked person 82 

walks around saying perverse 83  things; 84 

6:13 he winks with his eyes,

signals with his feet,

and points with his fingers; 85 

6:14 he plots evil with perverse thoughts 86  in his heart,

he spreads contention 87  at all times.

6:15 Therefore, his disaster will come suddenly;

in an instant 88  he will be broken, and there will be no remedy.

6:16 There are six things that the Lord hates,

even 89  seven 90  things that are an abomination to him: 91 

6:17 haughty eyes, 92  a lying tongue, 93 

and hands that shed innocent blood, 94 

6:18 a heart that devises wicked plans, 95 

feet that are swift to run 96  to evil,

6:19 a false witness who pours out lies, 97 

and a person who spreads discord 98  among family members. 99 

6:20 My child, guard the commands of your father

and do not forsake the instruction of your mother.

6:21 Bind them 100  on your heart continually;

fasten them around your neck.

6:22 When you walk about, 101  they 102  will guide you;

when you lie down, they will watch over you;

when you wake up, 103  they will talk 104  to you.

6:23 For the commandments 105  are like 106  a lamp, 107 

instruction is like a light,

and rebukes of discipline are like 108  the road leading to life, 109 

6:24 by keeping 110  you from the evil woman, 111 

from the smooth tongue of 112  the loose woman. 113 

6:25 Do not lust 114  in your heart for her beauty,

and do not let her captivate you with her alluring eyes; 115 

6:26 for on account 116  of a prostitute one is brought down to a loaf of bread,

but the wife of another man 117  preys on your precious life. 118 

6:27 Can a man hold 119  fire 120  against his chest 121 

without 122  burning his clothes?

6:28 Can 123  a man walk on hot coals

without scorching his feet?

6:29 So it is with 124  the one who has sex with 125  his neighbor’s wife;

no one 126  who touches 127  her will escape 128  punishment. 129 

6:30 People 130  do not despise a thief when he steals

to fulfill his need 131  when he is hungry.

6:31 Yet 132  if he is caught 133  he must repay 134  seven times over,

he might even have to give 135  all the wealth of his house.

6:32 A man who commits adultery with a woman lacks wisdom, 136 

whoever does it destroys his own life. 137 

6:33 He will be beaten and despised, 138 

and his reproach will not be wiped away; 139 

6:34 for jealousy kindles 140  a husband’s 141  rage,

and he will not show mercy 142  when he takes revenge.

6:35 He will not consider 143  any compensation; 144 

he will not be willing, even if you multiply the compensation. 145 

Admonition to Avoid the Wiles of the Adulteress 146 

7:1 My child, 147  keep my words

and treasure up my commands in your own keeping. 148 

7:2 Keep my commands 149  so that you may live, 150 

and obey 151  my instruction as your most prized possession. 152 

7:3 Bind them on your forearm; 153 

write them on the tablet of your heart. 154 

7:4 Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” 155 

and call understanding a close relative,

7:5 so that they may keep you 156  from the adulterous 157  woman,

from the loose woman 158  who flatters you 159  with her words. 160 

7:6 For at the window of my house

through my window lattice I looked out

7:7 and I saw among the naive –

I discerned among the youths 161 

a young man 162  who lacked wisdom. 163 

7:8 He was passing by the street near her corner,

making his way 164  along the road to her house 165 

7:9 in the twilight, the evening, 166 

in the dark of the night. 167 

7:10 Suddenly 168  a woman came out to meet him!

She was dressed like a prostitute 169  and with secret intent. 170 

7:11 (She is loud and rebellious,

she 171  does not remain 172  at home –

7:12 at one time outside, at another 173  in the wide plazas,

and by every corner she lies in wait.)

7:13 So she grabbed him and kissed him,

and with a bold expression 174  she said to him,

7:14 “I have 175  fresh meat at home; 176 

today I have fulfilled my vows!

7:15 That is why I came out to meet you,

to look for you, 177  and I found you!

7:16 I have spread my bed with elegant coverings, 178 

with richly colored fabric 179  from Egypt.

7:17 I have perfumed my bed

with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon.

7:18 Come, let’s drink deeply 180  of lovemaking 181  until morning,

let’s delight ourselves 182  with sexual intercourse. 183 

7:19 For my husband 184  is not at home; 185 

he has gone on a journey of some distance.

7:20 He has taken a bag of money with him; 186 

he will not return until 187  the end of the month.” 188 

7:21 She persuaded him 189  with persuasive words; 190 

with her smooth talk 191  she compelled him. 192 

7:22 Suddenly he went 193  after her

like an ox that goes to the slaughter,

like a stag prancing into a trapper’s snare 194 

7:23 till an arrow pierces his liver 195 

like a bird hurrying into a trap,

and he does not know that it will cost him his life. 196 

7:24 So now, sons, 197  listen to me,

and pay attention to the words I speak. 198 

7:25 Do not let your heart turn aside to her ways –

do not wander into her pathways;

7:26 for she has brought down 199  many fatally wounded,

and all those she has slain are many. 200 

7:27 Her house is the way to the grave, 201 

going down 202  to the chambers 203  of death.

1 sn In this chapter the sage/father exhorts discretion (1, 2) then explains how to avoid seduction (3-6); this is followed by a second exhortation to prevention (7, 8) and an explanation that obedience will avoid ruin and regret (9-14); finally, he warns against sharing love with strangers (15-17) but to find it at home (18-23). For an analysis of the chapter, see J. E. Goldingay, “Proverbs V and IX,” RB 84 (1977): 80-93.

2 tn The text again has “my son.” In this passage perhaps “son” would be the most fitting because of the warning against going to the adulterous woman. However, since the image of the adulterous woman probably represents all kinds of folly (through personification), and since even in this particular folly the temptation works both ways, the general address to either young men or women should be retained. The text was certainly not intended to convey that only women could seduce men.

3 tn Heb “incline your ear” (so NAB, NRSV); NLT “listen carefully.”

4 tn Heb “keep, protect, guard.”

5 sn This “discretion” is the same word in 1:4; it is wise, prudential consideration, careful planning, or the ability to devise plans with a view to the best way to carry them out. If that ability is retained then temptations to digress will not interfere.

6 sn “Lips” is a metonymy of cause, referring to her words. Dripping honey is an implied comparison between the product and her words, which are flattering and smooth (cf. Song 4:11). See M. Dahood, “Honey That Drips. Notes on Proverbs 5:2-3,” Bib 54 (1973): 65-66.

7 tn Heb “her palate.” The word חֵךְ (khekh, “palate; roof of the mouth; gums”) is a metonymy of cause (= organ of speech) for what is said (= her seductive speech). The present translation clarifies this metonymy with the phrase “her seductive words.”

8 sn Heb “her end” (so KJV). D. Kidner notes that Proverbs does not allow us to forget that there is an afterward (Proverbs [TOTC], 65).

9 sn The verb “to be bitter” (מָרַר, marar) describes things that are harmful and destructive for life, such as the death of the members of the family of Naomi (Ruth 1:20) or finding water that was undrinkable (Exod 15:22-27). The word indicates that the sweet talking will turn out badly.

10 tn The Hebrew term translated “wormwood” refers to the aromatic plant that contrasts with the sweetness of honey. Some follow the LXX and translate it as “gall” (cf. NIV). The point is that there was sweetness when the tryst had alluring glamour, but afterward it had an ugly ring (W. G. Plaut, Proverbs, 74).

11 sn The Hebrew has “like a sword of [two] mouths,” meaning a double-edged sword that devours/cuts either way. There is no movement without damage. There may be a wordplay here with this description of the “sword with two mouths,” and the subject of the passage being the words of her mouth which also have two sides to them. The irony is cut by the idiom.

12 tn The term שְׁאוֹל (sheol, “grave”) is paralleled to “death,” so it does not refer here to the realm of the unblessed.

sn The terms death and grave could be hyperbolic of a ruined life, but probably refer primarily to the mortal consequences of a life of debauchery.

13 tn The particle פֶּן (pen) means “lest” (probably from “for the aversion of”). It occurs this once, unusually, preceding the principal clause (BDB 814 s.v.). It means that some action has been taken to avert or avoid what follows. She avoids the path of life, albeit ignorantly.

14 tn Heb “the path of life.” The noun חַיִּים (khayyim, “of life”) functions as a genitive of direction (“leading to”).

15 sn The verb נוּעַ (nua’) means “to quiver; to wave; to waver; to tremble”; cf. KJV “her ways are moveable”; NAB “her paths will ramble”; NLT “She staggers down a crooked trail.” The ways of the adulterous woman are unstable (BDB 631 s.v.).

16 sn The sadder part of the description is that this woman does not know how unstable her life is, or how uneven. However, Thomas suggests that it means, “she is not tranquil.” See D. W. Thomas, “A Note on לא תדע in Proverbs v 6,” JTS 37 (1936): 59.

17 tn Heb “sons.”

18 tn Heb “the words of my mouth” (so KJV, NAB, NRSV).

19 tn Heb “your way.”

20 sn There is a contrast made between “keep far away” (הַרְחֵק, harkheq) and “do not draw near” (וְאַל־תִּקְרַב, vÿal-tiqrav).

21 sn The term הוֹד (hod, “vigor; splendor; majesty”) in this context means the best time of one’s life (cf. NIV “your best strength”), the full manly vigor that will be wasted with licentiousness. Here it is paralleled by “years,” which refers to the best years of that vigor, the prime of life. Life would be ruined by living this way, or the revenge of the woman’s husband would cut it short.

22 tn Or “are sated, satisfied.”

23 tn The word כֹּחַ (coakh, “strength”) refers to what laborious toil would produce (so a metonymy of cause). Everything that this person worked for could become the property for others to enjoy.

24 tn “labor, painful toil.”

25 tn The term “benefit” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for the sake of clarity and smoothness.

26 tn Heb “at your end.”

27 tn The form is the perfect tense with the vav consecutive; it is equal to a specific future within this context.

sn The verb means “to growl, groan.” It refers to a lion when it devours its prey, and to a sufferer in pain or remorse (e.g., Ezek 24:23).

28 tn Heb “in the finishing of your flesh and your body.” The construction uses the Qal infinitive construct of כָּלָה (calah) in a temporal clause; the verb means “be complete, at an end, finished, spent.”

29 tn The vav that introduces this clause functions in an explanatory sense.

30 tn The Hebrew term מוֹרַי (moray) is the nominal form based on the Hiphil plural participle with a suffix, from the root יָרָה (yarah). The verb is “to teach,” the common noun is “instruction, law [torah],” and this participle form is teacher (“my teachers”).

31 sn The idioms are vivid: This expression is “incline the ear”; earlier in the first line is “listen to the voice,” meaning “obey.” Such detailed description emphasizes the importance of the material.

32 tn The form is the Piel plural participle of לָמַד (lamad) used substantivally.

33 tn The expression כִּמְעַט (kimat) is “like a little.” It means “almost,” and is used of unrealized action (BDB 590 s.v. 2). Cf. NCV “I came close to”; NLT “I have come to the brink of.”

34 tn Heb “I was in all evil” (cf. KJV, ASV).

35 tn The text uses the two words “congregation and assembly” to form a hendiadys, meaning the entire assembly.

36 sn Paul Kruger develops this section as an allegory consisting of a series of metaphors. He suggests that what is at issue is private versus common property. The images of the cistern, well, or fountain are used of a wife (e.g., Song 4:15) because she, like water, satisfies desires. Streams of water in the street would then mean sexual contact with a lewd woman. According to 7:12 she never stays home but is in the streets and is the property of many (P. Kruger, “Promiscuity and Marriage Fidelity? A Note on Prov 5:15-18,” JNSL 13 [1987]: 61-68).

37 tn The verb means “to be scattered; to be dispersed”; here the imperfect takes a deliberative nuance in a rhetorical question.

38 tn The ל (lamed) preposition denotes possession: “for you” = “yours.” The term לְבַדֶּךָ (lÿvadekha) is appositional, underscoring the possession as exclusive.

39 sn The point is that what is private is not to be shared with strangers; it belongs in the home and in the marriage. The water from that cistern is not to be channeled to strangers or to the public.

40 sn The positive instruction is now given: Find pleasure in a fulfilling marriage. The “fountain” is another in the series of implied comparisons with the sexual pleasure that must be fulfilled at home. That it should be blessed (the passive participle of בָּרַךְ, barakh) indicates that sexual delight is God-given; having it blessed would mean that it would be endowed with fruitfulness, that it would fulfill all that God intended it to do.

41 tn The form is a Qal imperative with a vav (ו) of sequence; after the jussive of the first half this colon could be given an equivalent translation or logically subordinated.

42 tn Or “in the wife you married when you were young” (cf. NCV, CEV); Heb “in the wife of your youth” (so NIV, NLT). The genitive functions as an attributive adjective: “young wife” or “youthful wife.” Another possibility is that it refers to the age in which a man married his wife: “the wife you married in your youth.”

43 tn The construct expression “a doe of loves” is an attributive genitive, describing the doe with the word “loves.” The plural noun may be an abstract plural of intensification (but this noun only occurs in the plural). The same construction follows with a “deer of grace” – a graceful deer.

sn The imagery for intimate love in marriage is now employed to stress the beauty of sexual fulfillment as it was intended. The doe and deer, both implied comparisons, exhibit the grace and love of the wife.

44 sn The verb שָׁגָה (shagah) means “to swerve; to meander; to reel” as in drunkenness; it signifies a staggering gait expressing the ecstatic joy of a captivated lover. It may also mean “to be always intoxicated with her love” (cf. NRSV).

45 tn In the interrogative clause the imperfect has a deliberative nuance.

46 tn Heb “foreigner” (so ASV, NASB), but this does not mean that the woman is non-Israelite. This term describes a woman who is outside the moral boundaries of the covenant community – she is another man’s wife, but since she acts with moral abandonment she is called “foreign.”

47 tn Heb “man.”

48 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the Lord) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

49 tn BDB 814 s.v. פָּלַס 2 suggests that the participle מְפַּלֵּס (mÿpalles) means “to make level [or, straight].” As one’s ways are in front of the eyes of the Lord, they become straight or right. It could be translated “weighs” since it is a denominative from the noun for “balance, scale”; the Lord weighs or examines the actions.

50 tn Heb “all his”; the referent (the person mentioned in the first half of the verse) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

51 tn The suffix on the verb is the direct object suffix; “the wicked” is a second object by apposition: They capture him, the wicked. Since “the wicked” is not found in the LXX, it could be an old scribal error; or the Greek translator may have simply smoothed out the sentence. C. H. Toy suggests turning the sentence into a passive idea: “The wicked will be caught in his iniquities” (Proverbs [ICC], 117).

52 tn The word is the subject of the clause, but the pronominal suffix has no clear referent. The suffix is proleptic, referring to the wicked.

53 tn Heb “his own iniquities will capture the wicked.” The translation shifts the syntax for the sake of smoothness and readability.

54 sn The lack of discipline and control in the area of sexual gratification is destructive. The one who plays with this kind of sin will become ensnared by it and led to ruin.

55 tn The Hebrew is structured chiastically: “his own iniquities will capture the wicked, by the cords of his own sin will he be held.”

56 tn The preposition בּ (bet) is used in a causal sense: “because” (cf. NCV, TEV, CEV).

57 sn The word אִוַּלְתּוֹ (’ivvalto, “his folly”) is from the root אול and is related to the noun אֶוִיל (’evil, “foolish; fool”). The noun אִוֶּלֶת (’ivvelet, “folly”) describes foolish and destructive activity. It lacks understanding, destroys what wisdom builds, and leads to destruction if it is not corrected.

58 sn The verb שָׁגָה (shagah, “to swerve; to reel”) is repeated in a negative sense. If the young man is not captivated by his wife but is captivated with a stranger in sinful acts, then his own iniquities will captivate him and he will be led to ruin.

59 sn The chapter advises release from foolish indebtedness (1-5), admonishes avoiding laziness (6-11), warns of the danger of poverty (9-11) and deviousness (12-15), lists conduct that the Lord hates (16-19), and warns about immorality (20-35).

60 tn Heb “my son” (likewise in vv. 3, 20).

61 sn It was fairly common for people to put up some kind of financial security for someone else, that is, to underwrite another’s debts. But the pledge in view here was foolish because the debtor was a neighbor who was not well known (זָר, zar), perhaps a misfit in the community. The one who pledged security for this one was simply gullible.

62 tn The conjunction “and” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for the sake of smoothness.

63 tn Heb “struck your hands”; NIV “have struck hands in pledge”; NASB “have given a pledge.” The guarantee of a pledge was signaled by a handshake (e.g., 11:15; 17:18; 22:26).

64 tn Heb “stranger.” The term זוּר (zur, “stranger”) probably refers to a neighbor who was not well-known. Alternatively, it could describe a person who is living outside the norms of convention, a moral misfit in the community. In any case, this “stranger” is a high risk in any financial arrangement.

65 tn The term “if” does not appear in this line but is implied by the parallelism. It is supplied in the translation for the sake of clarity.

66 tn The verb יָקַשׁ (yaqash) means “to lay a bait; to lure; to lay snares.” In the Niphal it means “to be caught by bait; to be ensnared” – here in a business entanglement.

67 tn Heb “by the words of your mouth.” The same expression occurs at the end of the following line (cf. KJV, ASV, NASB). Many English versions vary the wording slightly, presumably for stylistic reasons, to avoid redundancy (e.g., NAB, NIV, NRSV, NLT).

68 tn The syntactical construction of imperative followed by an imperative + vav consecutive denotes purpose: “in order to be delivered.” The verb means “to deliver oneself, be delivered” in the Niphal. The image is one of being snatched or plucked quickly out of some danger or trouble, in the sense of a rescue, as in a “brand snatched [Hophal stem] from the fire” (Zech 3:2).

69 tn Heb “have come into the hand of your neighbor” (so NASB; cf. KJV, ASV). The idiom using the “hand” means that the individual has come under the control or the power of someone else. This particular word for hand is used to play ironically on its first occurrence in v. 1.

70 tn In the Hitpael the verb רָפַס (rafas) means “to stamp oneself down” or “to humble oneself” (cf. KJV, NASB, NIV). BDB 952 s.v. Hithp suggests “become a suppliant.” G. R. Driver related it to the Akkadian cognate rapasu, “trample,” and interpreted as trampling oneself, swallowing pride, being unremitting in effort (“Some Hebrew Verbs, Nouns, and Pronouns,” JTS 30 [1929]: 374).

71 tn Heb “be bold.” The verb רָהַב (rahav) means “to act stormily; to act boisterously; to act arrogantly.” The idea here is a strong one: storm against (beset, importune) your neighbor. The meaning is that he should be bold and not take no for an answer. Cf. NIV “press your plea”; TEV “beg him to release you.”

72 tn Heb “do not give sleep to your eyes.” The point is to go to the neighbor and seek release from the agreement immediately (cf. NLT “Don’t rest until you do”).

73 tn Heb “from the hand.” Most translations supply “of the hunter.” The word “hand” can signify power, control; so the meaning is that of a gazelle freeing itself from a snare or a trap that a hunter set.

74 tc Heb “hand” (so KJV, NAB, NRSV). Some mss and versions have it as “trap,” which may very well represent an interpretation too.

75 sn The sluggard (עָצֵל, ’atsel) is the lazy or sluggish person (cf. NCV “lazy person”; NRSV, NLT “lazybones”).

76 tn The conjunction vav (ו) here has the classification of alternative, “or” (R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 71, §433).

77 tc The LXX adds a lengthy section at the end of the verse on the lesson from the bee: “Or, go to the bee and learn how diligent she is and how seriously she does her work – her products kings and private persons use for health – she is desired and respected by all – though feeble in body, by honoring wisdom she obtains distinction.” The Greek translator thought the other insect should be mentioned (see C. H. Toy, Proverbs [ICC], 124).

tn Heb “its food.”

78 sn The use of the two rhetorical questions is designed to rebuke the lazy person in a forceful manner. The sluggard is spending too much time sleeping.

79 sn The writer might in this verse be imitating the words of the sluggard who just wants to take “a little nap.” The use is ironic, for by indulging in this little rest the lazy one comes to ruin.

80 tn Heb “like a wayfarer” or “like a traveler” (cf. KJV). The LXX has “swiftness like a traveler.” It has also been interpreted as a “highwayman” (cf. NAB) or a “dangerous assailant.” W. McKane suggests “vagrant” (Proverbs [OTL], 324); cf. NASB “vagabond.” Someone traveling swiftly would likely be a robber.

81 tn The Hebrew word for “armed” is probably connected to the word for “shield” and “deliver” (s.v. גָּנַן). G. R. Driver connects it to the Arabic word for “bold; insolent,” interpreting its use here as referring to a beggar or an insolent man (“Studies in the Vocabulary of the Old Testament, IV,” JTS 33 [1933]: 38-47).

82 sn The terms describe one who is both worthless and wicked. Some suggest that בְּלִיַּעַל (bÿliyyaal) is a compound of the negative בְּלִי (bÿli) and a noun יַעַל (yaal, “profit; worth”). Others suggest that the root is from בַּעַל (baal, “lord [of goats]”) or a derivative of בָּלַע (bala’) with reduplication (“confusion” or “engulfing ruin”), or a proper name from Babylonian Bililu. See B. Otzen, TDOT 2:131-36; and D. W. Thomas, “בְּלִיַּעַל in the Old Testament,” Biblical and Patristic Studies in Memory of Robert Pierce Casey, 11-19. Whatever the etymology, usage shows that the word describes people who violate the law (Deut 15:9; Judg 19:22; 1 Kgs 21:10, 13; Prov 16:27; et al.) or act in a contemptuous and foolish manner against cultic observance or social institutions (1 Sam 10:27; 25:17; 30:22); cf. NRSV “a scoundrel and a villain” (NAB and NIV similar). The present instruction will focus on the devious practice of such wicked and worthless folk.

83 tn Heb “crooked” or “twisted.” This term can refer to something that is physically twisted or crooked, or something morally perverse. Cf. NAB “crooked talk”; NRSV “crooked speech.”

84 tn Heb “walks around with a perverse mouth.” The term “mouth” is a metonymy of cause, an organ of speech put for what is said. This is an individual who says perverted or twisted things.

85 sn The sinister sign language and gestures of the perverse individual seem to indicate any kind of look or gesture that is put on and therefore a form of deception if not a way of making insinuations. W. McKane suggests from the presence of חֹרֵשׁ (khoresh) in v. 14 that there may be some use of magic here (Proverbs [OTL], 325).

86 tn The noun is an adverbial accusative of manner, explaining the circumstances that inform his evil plans.

87 tn The word “contention” is from the root דִּין (din); the noun means “strife, contention, quarrel.” The normal plural form is represented by the Qere, and the contracted form by the Kethib.

88 tn This word is a substantive that is used here as an adverbial accusative – with suddenness, at an instant.

89 tn The conjunction has the explicative use here (R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 71, §434).

90 sn This saying involves a numerical ladder, paralleling six things with seven things (e.g., also 30:15, 18, 21, 24, 29). The point of such a numerical arrangement is that the number does not exhaust the list (W. M. Roth, “The Numerical Sequence x / x +1 in the Old Testament,” VT 12 [1962]: 300-311; and his “Numerical Sayings in the Old Testament,” VT 13 [1965]: 86).

91 tn Heb “his soul.”

92 sn The expression “high/ lofty [רָמוֹת, ramot] eyes” refers to a proud look suggesting arrogant ambition (cf. NCV “a proud look”). The use of “eyes” is a metonymy of adjunct, the look in the eyes accompanying the attitude. This term “high” is used in Num 15:30 for the sin of the “high hand,” i.e., willful rebellion or defiant sin. The usage of “haughty eyes” may be illustrated by its use with the pompous Assyrian invader (Isa 10:12-14) and the proud king of the book of Daniel (11:12). God does not tolerate anyone who thinks so highly of himself and who has such ambition.

93 tn Heb “a tongue of deception.” The genitive noun functions attributively. The term “tongue” functions as a metonymy. The term is used of false prophets who deceive (Jer 14:14), and of a deceiver who betrays (Ps 109:2). The Lord hates deceptive speech because it is destructive (26:28).

94 sn The hands are the instruments of murder (metonymy of cause), and God hates bloodshed. Gen 9:6 prohibited shedding blood because people are the image of God. Even David being a man of blood (in war mostly) was not permitted to build the Temple (1 Chr 22:8). But shedding innocent blood was a greater crime – it usually went with positions of power, such as King Manasseh filling the streets with blood (2 Kgs 21:16), or princes doing it for gain (Ezek 22:27).

95 tn Heb “heart that devises plans of wickedness.” The latter term is an attributive genitive. The heart (metonymy of subject) represents the will; here it plots evil schemes. The heart is capable of evil schemes (Gen 6:5); the heart that does this is deceitful (Prov 12:20; 14:22).

96 tc The MT reads “make haste to run,” that is, be eager to seize the opportunity. The LXX omits “run,” that is, feet hastening to do evil. It must have appeared to the LXX translator that the verb was unnecessary; only one verb occurs in the other cola.

sn The word “feet” is here a synecdoche, a part for the whole. Being the instruments of movement, they represent the swift and eager actions of the whole person to do some harm.

97 sn The Lord hates perjury and a lying witness (e.g., Ps 40:4; Amos 2:4; Mic 1:4). This is a direct violation of the law (Exod 20).

98 sn Dissension is attributed in Proverbs to contentious people (21:9; 26:21; 25:24) who have a short fuse (15:8).

99 tn Heb “brothers,” although not limited to male siblings only. Cf. NRSV, CEV “in a family”; TEV “among friends.”

sn These seven things the Lord hates. To discover what the Lord desires, one need only list the opposites: humility, truthful speech, preservation of life, pure thoughts, eagerness to do good, honest witnesses, and peaceful harmony. In the NT the Beatitudes present the positive opposites (Matt 5). It has seven blessed things to match these seven hated things; moreover, the first contrasts with the first here (“poor in spirit” of 5:5 with “haughty eyes”), and the seventh (“peacemakers” of 5:7) contrasts with the seventh here (“sows dissension”).

100 sn The figures used here are hypocatastases (implied comparisons). There may also be an allusion to Deut 6 where the people were told to bind the law on their foreheads and arms. The point here is that the disciple will never be without these instructions. See further, P. W. Skehan, Studies in Israelite Poetry and Wisdom (CBQMS), 1-8.

101 tn The verbal form is the Hitpael infinitive construct with a preposition and a suffixed subjective genitive to form a temporal clause. The term הָלַךְ (halakh) in this verbal stem means “to go about; to go to and fro.” The use of these terms in v. 22 also alludes to Deut 6:7.

102 tn Heb “it will guide you.” The verb is singular and the instruction is the subject.

103 tn In both of the preceding cola an infinitive construct was used for the temporal clauses; now the construction uses a perfect tense with vav (ו) consecutive. The verb would then be equivalent to an imperfect tense, but subordinated as a temporal clause here.

104 sn The Hebrew verb means “talk” in the sense of “to muse; to complain; to meditate”; cf. TEV, NLT “advise you.” Instruction bound to the heart will speak to the disciple on awaking.

105 tn Heb “the commandment” (so KJV, NASB, NRSV).

106 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.

107 sn The terms “lamp,” “light,” and “way” are all metaphors. The positive teachings and commandments will illumine or reveal to the disciple the way to life; the disciplinary correctives will provide guidance into fullness of life.

108 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.

109 tn Heb “the way of life” (so KJV, NASB, NRSV); NIV, NLT “the way to life.” The noun “life” is a genitive following the construct “way.” It could be an attributive genitive modifying the kind of way/course of life that instruction provides, but it could also be objective in that the course of life followed would produce and lead to life.

110 tn The infinitive construct is epexegetical here, explaining how these teachings function as lights: “by keeping you.” This verse is the transition from the general admonition about heeding the teachings to the practical application.

111 tc The word translated “woman” is modified by רַע (ra’, “evil”) in the sense of violating the codes of the community and inflicting harm on others. The BHS editors propose changing it to read “strange woman” as before, but there is not support for that. Some commentaries follow the LXX and read רַע as “wife of a neighbor” (cf. NAB; also NRSV “the wife of another”; CEV “someone else’s wife”) but that seems to be only a clarification.

112 tn The word “tongue” is not in construct; the word “foreign woman” is in apposition to “smooth of tongue,” specifying whose it is. The word “smooth” then is the object of the preposition, “tongue” is the genitive of specification, and “foreign woman” in apposition.

113 sn The description of the woman as a “strange woman” and now a “loose [Heb “foreign”] woman” is within the context of the people of Israel. She is a “foreigner” in the sense that she is a nonconformist, wayward, and loose. It does not necessarily mean that she is not ethnically an Israelite.

114 tn The negated jussive gives the young person an immediate warning. The verb חָמַד (khamad) means “to desire,” and here in the sense of lust. The word is used in the Decalogue of Deut 5:21 for the warning against coveting.

sn Lusting after someone in the heart, according to Jesus, is a sin of the same kind as the act, not just the first step toward it (Matt 5:28). Playing with temptation in the heart – the seat of the will and the emotions – is only the heart reaching out after the sin.

115 tn Heb “her eyelids” (so KJV, NASB); NRSV “eyelashes”; TEV “flirting eyes”). This term is a synecdoche of part (eyelids) for the whole (eyes) or a metonymy of association for painted eyes and the luring glances that are the symptoms of seduction (e.g., 2 Kgs 9:30). The term “alluring” is not in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for the sake of clarification.

116 tn The word בְעַד (bÿad) may be taken either as “on account of” (= by means of a) prostitute (cf. ASV, NASB), or “for the price of” a prostitute (cf. NAB). Most expositors take the first reading, though that use of the preposition is unattested, and then must supply “one is brought to.” The verse would then say that going to a prostitute can bring a man to poverty, but going to another man’s wife can lead to death. If the second view were taken, it would mean that one had a smaller price than the other. It is not indicating that one is preferable to the other; both are to be avoided.

117 tn Heb “the wife of a man.”

118 tn These two lines might be an example of synthetic parallelism, that is, “A, what’s more B.” The A-line describes the detrimental moral effect of a man going to a professional prostitute; the B-line heightens this and describes the far worse effect – moral and mortal! – of a man committing adultery with another man’s wife. When a man goes to a prostitute, he lowers himself to become nothing more than a “meal ticket” to sustain the life of that woman; however, when a man commits adultery, he places his very life in jeopardy – the rage of the husband could very well kill him.

119 tn The Qal imperfect (with the interrogative) here has a potential nuance – “Is it possible to do this?” The sentence is obviously a rhetorical question making an affirmation that it is not possible.

120 sn “Fire” provides the analogy for the sage’s warning: Fire represents the sinful woman (hypocatastasis) drawn close, and the burning of the clothes the inevitable consequences of the liaison. See J. L. Crenshaw, “Impossible Questions, Sayings, and Tasks,” Semeia 17 (1980): 19-34. The word “fire” (אֵשׁ, ’esh) plays on the words “man” (אִישׁ,’ish) and “woman” (אִשָּׁה, ’ishah); a passage like this probably inspired R. Gamaliel’s little explanation that what binds a man and a woman together in a holy marriage is י (yod) and ה (he), the two main letters of the holy name Yah. But if the Lord is removed from the relationship, that is, if these two letters are removed, all that is left is the אֵשׁ – the fire of passion. Since Gamaliel was the teacher of Paul, this may have influenced Paul’s advice that it was better to marry than to burn (1 Cor 7:9).

121 tn Heb “snatch up fire into his bosom.”

122 tn The second colon begins with the vav (ו) disjunctive on the noun, indicating a disjunctive clause; here it is a circumstantial clause.

123 tn The particle indicates that this is another rhetorical question like that in v. 27.

124 tn Heb “thus is the one.”

125 tn Heb “who goes in to” (so NAB, NASB). The Hebrew verb בּוֹא (bo’, “to go in; to enter”) is used throughout scripture as a euphemism for the act of sexual intercourse. Cf. NIV, NRSV, NLT “who sleeps with”; NCV “have sexual relations with.”

126 tn Heb “anyone who touches her will not.”

127 sn The verb “touches” is intended here to be a euphemism for illegal sexual contact (e.g., Gen 20:6).

128 tn Heb “will be exempt from”; NASB, NLT “will not go unpunished.”

129 tn The verb is יִנָּקֶה (yinnaqeh), the Niphal imperfect from נָקָה (naqah, “to be empty; to be clean”). From it we get the adjectives “clean,” “free from guilt,” “innocent.” The Niphal has the meanings (1) “to be cleaned out” (of a plundered city; e.g., Isa 3:26), (2) “to be clean; to be free from guilt; to be innocent” (Ps 19:14), (3) “to be free; to be exempt from punishment” [here], and (4) “to be free; to be exempt from obligation” (Gen 24:8).

130 tn Heb “they do not despise.”

131 tn Heb “himself” or “his life.” Since the word נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh, traditionally “soul”) refers to the whole person, body and soul, and since it has a basic idea of the bundle of appetites that make up a person, the use here for satisfying his hunger is appropriate.

132 tn The term “yet” is supplied in the translation.

133 tn Heb “is found out.” The perfect tense with the vav (ו) consecutive is equivalent to the imperfect nuances. Here it introduces either a conditional or a temporal clause before the imperfect.

134 tn The imperfect tense has an obligatory nuance. The verb in the Piel means “to repay; to make restitution; to recompense”; cf. NCV, TEV, CEV “must pay back.”

135 tn This final clause in the section is somewhat cryptic. The guilty thief must pay back sevenfold what he stole, even if it means he must use the substance of his whole house. The verb functions as an imperfect of possibility: “he might even give.”

136 tn Heb “heart.” The term “heart” is used as a metonymy of association for discernment, wisdom, good sense. Cf. NAB “is a fool”; NIV “lacks judgment”; NCV, NRSV “has no sense.”

137 tn Heb “soul.” The noun נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh, “soul”) functions as a metonymy of association for “life” (BDB 659 s.v. 3.c).

138 tn Heb “He will receive a wound and contempt.”

139 sn Even though the text has said that the man caught in adultery ruins his life, it does not mean that he was put to death, although that could have happened. He seems to live on in ignominy, destroyed socially and spiritually. He might receive blows and wounds from the husband and shame and disgrace from the spiritual community. D. Kidner observes that in a morally healthy society the adulterer would be a social outcast (Proverbs [TOTC], 75).

140 tn The word “kindles” was supplied in the translation; both “rage” and “jealousy” have meanings connected to heat.

141 tn Heb “a man’s.”

142 tn The verb חָמַל (khamal) means “to show mercy; to show compassion; to show pity,” usually with the outcome of sparing or delivering someone. The idea here is that the husband will not spare the guilty man any of the punishment (cf. NRSV “he shows no restraint”).

143 tn Heb “lift up the face of,” meaning “regard.”

144 tn The word rendered “compensation” is כֹּפֶר (cofer); it is essentially a ransom price, a sum to be paid to deliver another from debt, bondage, or crime. The husband cannot accept payment as a ransom for a life, since what has happened cannot be undone so easily.

145 tn BDB 1005 s.v. שֹׁחַד suggests that this term means “hush money” or “bribe” (cf. NIV, NRSV, NLT). C. H. Toy takes it as legal compensation (Proverbs [ICC], 142).

146 sn The chapter begins with the important teaching of the father (1-5), then it focuses on the seduction: first of the victim (6-9), then the temptress (10-12), then the seduction (13-20), and the capitulation (21-23); the chapter concludes with the deadly results of consorting (24-27).

147 tn Heb “my son.”

148 tn Heb “within you” (so NASB, NIV); KJV, ASV, NRSV “with you.” BDB 860 s.v. צָפַן Qal.1 suggests that “within you” means “in your own keeping.”

149 tc Before v. 2 the LXX inserts: “My son, fear the Lord and you will be strong, and besides him, fear no other.” Although this addition has the precedent of 3:7 and 9 and harmonizes with 14:26, it does not fit here; the advice is to listen to the teacher.

150 tn The construction of an imperative with the vav (ו) of sequence after another imperative denotes a logical sequence of purpose or result: “that you may live,” or “and you will live.”

151 tn The term “obey” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is implied by the parallelism; it is supplied for the sake of clarity and smoothness. Some English versions, in light of the second line of v. 1, supply “guard” (e.g., NIV, NCV, NLT).

152 tn Heb “the little man in your eye.” Traditionally this Hebrew idiom is translated into English as “the apple of your eye” (so KJV, NAB, NIV, NRSV); a more contemporary rendering would be “as your most prized possession.” The word for “man” has the diminutive ending on it. It refers to the pupil, where the object focused on – a man – is reflected in miniature. The point is that the teaching must be the central focus of the disciple’s vision and attention.

153 tn Heb “fingers” (so KJV and many other English versions). In light of Deut 6:8, “fingers” appears to be a metonymy for the lower part of the arm.

154 sn This is an allusion to Deut 6:8. Binding the teachings on the fingers and writing them on the tablets here are implied comparisons for preserving the teaching in memory so that it can be recalled and used with ease.

155 sn The metaphor is meant to signify that the disciple will be closely related to and familiar with wisdom and understanding, as close as to a sibling. Wisdom will be personified in the next two chapters, and so referring to it as a sister in this chapter certainly prepares for that personification.

156 tn The infinitive construct with the preposition shows the purpose of associating closely with wisdom: Wisdom will obviate temptations, the greatest being the sexual urge.

157 tn Heb “strange” (so KJV, ASV).

158 tn Heb “strange woman.” This can be interpreted as a “wayward wife” (so NIV) or an “unfaithful wife” (so NCV). As discussed earlier, the designations “strange woman” and “foreign woman” could refer to Israelites who stood outside the community in their lawlessness and loose morals – an adulteress or wayward woman. H. Ringgren and W. Zimmerli, however, suggest that she is also a promoter of a pagan cult, but that is not entirely convincing (Spruche/Prediger [ATD], 19).

159 tn The term “you” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for the sake of smoothness.

160 tn Heb “she makes smooth her words.” This expression means “she flatters with her words.”

161 tn Heb “sons.”

162 tn Heb “lad” or “youth.”

163 tn Heb “heart.”

sn This young man who lacked wisdom is one of the simpletons, lacking keen judgment, one void of common sense (cf. NAB, NASB, NRSV, NLT) or understanding (cf. KJV, ASV). He is young, inexperienced, featherbrained (so D. Kidner, Proverbs [TOTC], 75).

164 tn The verb צָעַד (tsaad) means “to step; to march.” It suggests that the youth was intentionally making his way to her house. The verb is the imperfect tense; it stresses continual action parallel to the active participle that began the verse, but within a context that is past time.

165 tn Heb “way of her house.” This expression uses an adverbial accusative of location, telling where he was marching along. The term “house” is the genitive of location, giving the goal.

166 tn Heb “in the evening of the day.”

167 tn Heb “in the middle of the night, and dark”; KJV “in the black and dark night”; NRSV “at the time of night and darkness.”

168 tn The particle וְהִנֵּה (vÿhinneh) introduces a dramatic sense of the immediate to the narrative; it has a deictic force, “and look! – there was a woman,” or “all of a sudden this woman….”

169 tn Heb “with the garment of a prostitute.” The noun שִׁית (shith, “garment”) is an adverbial accusative specifying the appearance of the woman. The words “she was” are supplied in the translation to make a complete English sentence.

170 tn Heb “kept secret of heart”; cf. ASV, NRSV “wily of heart.” The verbal form is the passive participle from נָצַר (natsar) in construct. C. H. Toy lists the suggestions of the commentators: false, malicious, secret, subtle, excited, hypocritical (Proverbs [ICC], 149). The LXX has “causes the hearts of the young men to fly away.” The verb means “to guard; to watch; to keep”; to be guarded of heart means to be wily, to have secret intent – she has locked up her plans and gives nothing away (e.g., Isaiah 48:6 as well). Interestingly enough, this contrasts with her attire which gives everything away.

171 tn Heb “her feet.” This is a synecdoche, a part for the whole; the point is that she never stays home, but is out and about all the time.

172 tn Heb “dwell” or “settle”; NAB “her feet cannot rest.”

173 tn The repetition of the noun “time, step,” usually translated “now, this time,” signifies here “at one time…at another time” (BDB 822 s.v. פַּעַם 3.e).

174 tn Heb “she makes bold her face.” The Hiphil perfect of עָזַז (’azar, “to be strong”) means she has an impudent face (cf. KJV, NAB, NRSV), a bold or brazen expression (cf. NASB, NIV, NLT).

175 tn Heb “with me.”

176 tn Heb “I have peace offerings.” The peace offerings refer to the meat left over from the votive offering made at the sanctuary (e.g., Lev 7:11-21). Apparently the sacrificial worship meant as little to this woman spiritually as does Christmas to modern hypocrites who follow in her pattern. By expressing that she has peace offerings, she could be saying nothing more than that she has fresh meat for a meal at home, or that she was ceremonially clean, perhaps after her period. At any rate, it is all probably a ruse for winning a customer.

177 tn Heb “to look diligently for your face.”

178 tn Heb “with spreads.” The sentence begins with the cognate accusative: “with spreads I have spread my bed.” The construction enhances the idea – she has covered her bed.

179 tn The feminine noun means “dark-hued stuffs” (BDB 310 s.v. חֲטֻבוֹת). The form is a passive participle from a supposed root II חָטַב (khatav), which in Arabic means to be of a turbid, dusky color mixed with yellowish red. Its Aramaic cognate means “variegated”; cf. NAB “with brocaded cloths of Egyptian linen.” BDB’s translation of this colon is unsatifactory: “with dark hued stuffs of yarn from Egypt.”

180 tn The form נִרְוֶה (nirveh) is the plural cohortative; following the imperative “come” the form expresses the hortatory “let’s.” The verb means “to be saturated; to drink one’s fill,” and can at times mean “to be intoxicated with.”

181 tn Heb “loves.” The word דּוֹד (dod) means physical love or lovemaking. It is found frequently in the Song of Solomon for the loved one, the beloved. Here the form (literally, “loves”) is used in reference to multiple acts of sexual intercourse, as the phrase “until morning” suggests.

182 tn The form is the Hitpael cohortative of עָלַס (’alas), which means “to rejoice.” Cf. NIV “let’s enjoy ourselves.”

183 tn Heb “with love.”

184 tn Heb “the man.” The LXX interpreted it as “my husband,” taking the article to be used as a possessive. Many English versions do the same.

185 tn Heb “in his house.”

186 tn Heb “in his hand.”

187 tn Heb “he will come back at.”

188 tn Heb “new moon.” Judging from the fact that the husband took a purse of money and was staying away until the next full moon, the woman implies that they would be safe in their escapade. If v. 9 and v. 20 are any clue, he could be gone for about two weeks – until the moon is full again.

189 tn Heb “she turned him aside.” This expression means that she persuaded him. This section now begins the description of the capitulation, for the flattering speech is finished.

190 sn The term לֶקַח (leqakh) was used earlier in Proverbs for wise instruction; now it is used ironically for enticement to sin (see D. W. Thomas, “Textual and Philological Notes on Some Passages in the Book of Proverbs,” VTSup 3 [1955]: 280-92).

191 tn Heb “smooth of her lips”; cf. NAB “smooth lips”; NASB “flattering lips.” The term “lips” is a metonymy of cause representing what she says.

192 tn The verb means “to impel; to thrust; to banish,” but in this stem in this context “to compel; to force” into some action. The imperfect tense has the nuance of progressive imperfect to parallel the characteristic perfect of the first colon.

193 tn The participle with “suddenly” gives a more vivid picture, almost as if to say “there he goes.”

194 tn The present translation follows R. B. Y. Scott (Proverbs, Ecclesiastes [AB], 64). This third colon of the verse would usually be rendered, “fetters to the chastening of a fool” (KJV, ASV, and NASB are all similar). But there is no support that עֶכֶס (’ekhes) means “fetters.” It appears in Isaiah 3:16 as “anklets.” The parallelism here suggests that some animal imagery is required. Thus the ancient versions have “as a dog to the bonds.”

195 sn The figure of an arrow piercing the liver (an implied comparison) may refer to the pangs of a guilty conscience that the guilty must reap along with the spiritual and physical ruin that follows (see on these expressions H. W. Wolff, Anthropology of the Old Testament).

196 tn The expression that it is “for/about/over his life” means that it could cost him his life (e.g., Num 16:38). Alternatively, the line could refer to moral corruption and social disgrace rather than physical death – but this would not rule out physical death too.

197 tn The literal translation “sons” works well here in view of the warning. Cf. KJV, NAB, NRSV “children.”

198 tn Heb “the words of my mouth.”

199 tn Heb “she has caused to fall.”

200 tn Heb “numerous” (so NAB, NASB, NRSV, NLT) or “countless.”

201 tn The noun “Sheol” in parallelism to “the chambers of death” probably means the grave. The noun is a genitive of location, indicating the goal of the road(s). Her house is not the grave; it is, however, the sure way to it.

sn Her house is the way to the grave. The young man’s life is not destroyed in one instant; it is taken from him gradually as he enters into a course of life that will leave him as another victim of the wages of sin. The point of the warning is to prevent such a course from starting. Sin can certainly be forgiven, but the more involvement in this matter the greater the alienation from the healthy community.

202 tn The Qal active participle modifies “ways” to Sheol. The “road,” as it were, descends to the place of death.

203 tn “Chambers” is a hypocatastasis, comparing the place of death or the grave with a bedroom in the house. It plays on the subtlety of the temptation. Cf. NLT “Her bedroom is the den of death.”



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