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Proverbs 6:16-19

Context

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

even 1  seven 2  things that are an abomination to him: 3 

6:17 haughty eyes, 4  a lying tongue, 5 

and hands that shed innocent blood, 6 

6:18 a heart that devises wicked plans, 7 

feet that are swift to run 8  to evil,

6:19 a false witness who pours out lies, 9 

and a person who spreads discord 10  among family members. 11 

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

2 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).

3 tn Heb “his soul.”

4 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.

5 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).

6 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).

7 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).

8 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.

9 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).

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

11 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”).



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