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Proverbs 8:14-17

Context

8:14 Counsel and sound wisdom belong to me; 1 

I possess understanding and might.

8:15 Kings reign by means of me,

and potentates 2  decree 3  righteousness;

8:16 by me princes rule,

as well as nobles and 4  all righteous judges. 5 

8:17 I love 6  those who love me,

and those who seek me find me.

1 tc In the second half of v. 14 instead of אֲנִי (’ani) the editors propose reading simply לִי (li) as the renderings in the LXX, Latin, and Syriac suggest. Then, in place of the לִי that comes in the same colon, read וְלִי (vÿli). While the MT is a difficult reading, it can be translated as it is. It would be difficult to know exactly what the ancient versions were reading, because their translations could have been derived from either text. They represent an effort to smooth out the text.

tn Heb “To me [belong] counsel and sound wisdom.” The second colon in the verse has: “I, understanding, to me and might.”

sn In vv. 14-17 the pronouns come first and should receive greater prominence – although it is not always easy to do this with English.

2 tn The verb רָזַן (razan) means “to be weighty; to be judicious; to be commanding.” It only occurs in the Qal active participle in the plural as a substantive, meaning “potentates; rulers” (e.g., Ps 1:1-3). Cf. KJV, ASV “princes”; NAB “lawgivers.”

3 sn This verb יְחֹקְקוּ (yÿkhoqqu) is related to the noun חֹק (khoq), which is a “statute; decree.” The verb is defined as “to cut in; to inscribe; to decree” (BDB 349 s.v. חָקַק). The point the verse is making is that when these potentates decree righteousness, it is by wisdom. History records all too often that these rulers acted as fools and opposed righteousness (cf. Ps 2:1-3). But people in power need wisdom to govern the earth (e.g., Isa 11:1-4 which predicts how Messiah will use wisdom to do this very thing). The point is underscored with the paronomasia in v. 15 with “kings” and “will reign” from the same root, and then in v. 16 with both “princes” and “rule” being cognate. The repetition of sounds and meanings strengthens the statements.

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

5 tc Many of the MT mss read “sovereigns [princes], all the judges of the earth.” The LXX has “sovereigns…rule the earth.” But the MT manuscript in the text has “judges of righteousness.” C. H. Toy suggests that the Hebrew here has assimilated Psalm 148:11 in its construction (Proverbs [ICC], 167). The expression “judges of the earth” is what one would expect, but the more difficult and unexpected reading, the one scribes might change, would be “judges of righteousness.” If that reading stands, then it would probably be interpreted as using an attributive genitive.

6 sn In contrast to the word for “hate” (שָׂנֵא, shaneh) the verb “love” (אָהֵב, ’ahev) includes within it the idea of choosing spontaneously. So in this line loving and seeking point up the means of finding wisdom.



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