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Proverbs 6:27

Context

6:27 Can a man hold 1  fire 2  against his chest 3 

without 4  burning his clothes?

Proverbs 16:33

Context

16:33 The dice are thrown into the lap, 5 

but their every decision 6  is from the Lord. 7 

Proverbs 21:14

Context

21:14 A gift given 8  in secret subdues 9  anger,

and a bribe given secretly 10  subdues 11  strong wrath. 12 

1 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.

2 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).

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

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

5 tn Heb “the lot is cast.” Because the ancient practice of “casting lots” is unfamiliar to many modern readers, the imagery has been updated to “throwing dice.”

sn The proverb concerns the practice of seeking divine leading through casting lots. For a similar lesson, see Amenemope (18, 19:16-17, in ANET 423).

6 tn Heb “all its decision.”

7 sn The point concerns seeking God’s will through the practice. The Lord gives guidance in decisions that are submitted to him.

8 sn The synonymous parallelism joins the more neutral term “gift” with the more specific “bribe.” D. Kidner notes that this underscores how hard it is to tell the difference between them, especially since they accomplish similar things (Proverbs [TOTC], 143).

9 tn The word כָּפָה (kafah) occurs only here; it means “to subdue,” but in New Hebrew it means “to overturn; to compel.” The BHS editors suggest a change to כָּבָה (kavah), “to be quenched,” based on Symmachus and Tg. Prov 21:14, but there is no substantial improvement in the text’s meaning with such a change.

10 tn Heb “a bribe in the bosom” (so NASB). This refers to a gift hidden in the folds of the garment, i.e., given secretly (cf. NIV “a bribe concealed in the cloak”).

11 tn The repetition of the term “subdues” in the second line is supplied in the translation.

12 tc The LXX offers a moralizing translation not too closely tied to the MT: “he who withholds a gift stirs up violent wrath.”



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