18:16 A person’s gift 1 makes room for him,
and leads him 2 before important people.
19:4 Wealth adds many friends,
but a poor person is separated 3 from his friend. 4
19:6 Many people entreat the favor 5 of a generous person, 6
and everyone is the friend 7 of the person who gives gifts. 8
22:11 The one who loves a pure heart 9
and whose speech is gracious 10 – the king will be his friend. 11
22:29 Do you see a person skilled 12 in his work?
He will take his position before kings;
he will not take his position 13 before obscure people. 14
1 sn The Hebrew term translated “gift” is a more general term than “bribe” (שֹׁחַד, shokhad), used in 17:8, 23. But it also has danger (e.g., 15:27; 21:14), for by giving gifts one might learn how influential they are and use them for bribes. The proverb simply states that a gift can expedite matters.
2 sn The two verbs here show a progression, helping to form the synthetic parallelism. The gift first “makes room” (יַרְחִיב, yarkhiv) for the person, that is, extending a place for him, and then “ushers him in” (יַנְחֵנּוּ, yakhenu) among the greats.
3 tn The Niphal imperfect probably should be taken in the passive sense (the poor person is deserted by his “friend,” cf. NAB, NIV) rather than as a direct middle (the poor person deserted his friend).
4 sn This proverb simply makes an observation on life: People pursue wealthy folk hoping that they can gain something from the rich, but the poor are deserted even by friends, who fear that the poor will try to gain something from them.
5 tn The verb יְחַלּוּ (yÿkhalu) is a Piel imperfect of חָלָה (khalah) meaning “to seek favor; to entreat favor; to mollify; to appease”; cf. NIV “curry favor.” It literally means “making the face of someone sweet or pleasant,” as in stroking the face. To “entreat the favor” of someone is to induce him to show favor; the action aims at receiving gifts, benefits, or any other kind of success.
sn The Hebrew verb translated “entreat the favor” is often used to express prayer when God is the one whose favor is being sought; here it is the prince who can grant requests.
6 tn Heb “the face of a generous man”; ASV “the liberal man.” The term “face” is a synecdoche of part (= face) for the whole (= person).
7 sn The proverb acknowledges the fact of life; but it also reminds people of the value of gifts in life, especially in business or in politics.
8 tn Heb “a man of gifts.” This could be (1) attributive genitive: a man characterized by giving gifts or (2) objective genitive: a man who gives gifts (IBHS 146 §9.5.2b).
9 sn The “heart” is a metonymy of subject; it represents the intentions and choices that are made. “Pure of heart” uses “heart” as a genitive of specification. The expression refers to someone who has honest and clear intentions.
10 tn Heb “grace of his lips” (so KJV, ASV). The “lips” are a metonymy of cause representing what is said; it also functions as a genitive of specification.
sn This individual is gracious or kind in what he says; thus the verse is commending honest intentions and gracious words.
11 tn The syntax of the line is somewhat difficult, because “grace of his lips” seems to be intruding on the point of the verse with little explanation. Therefore the LXX rendered it “The Lord loves the pure in heart; all who are blameless in their ways are acceptable to him.” This has very little correspondence with the Hebrew; nevertheless commentators attempt to reconstruct the verse using it, and the NAB follows the first clause of the LXX here. Some have suggested taking “king” as the subject of the whole verse (“the king loves…”), but this is forced.
12 sn The word translated “skilled” is general enough to apply to any crafts; but it may refer to a scribe or an official (R. N. Whybray, Proverbs [CBC], 134).
13 tn The verb form used twice here is יִתְיַצֵּב (yityatsev), the Hitpael imperfect of יָצַב (yatsav), which means “to set or station oneself; to take one’s stand” in this stem. With the form לִפְנֵי (life) it means “to present oneself before” someone; so here it has the idea of serving as a courtier in the presence of a king.
14 sn The fifth saying affirms that true skill earns recognition and advancement (cf. Instruction of Amenemope, chap. 30, 27:16-17 [ANET 424]).