but the speech 29 of the wicked is perverse.
1 tn Heb “mouth.” The word “mouth” is metonymy of cause, representing what the righteous say and teach.
2 tn Heb “a fountain of life is the mouth of the righteous” (NAB similar). The subject (“a fountain of life”) and the predicate (“the mouth of the righteous”) in the Hebrew text are reversed in the present translation (as in most English versions) for the sake of clarity and smoothness. The idea of this metaphor, “the fountain of life,” may come from Ps 36:9 (e.g., also Prov 13:14; 14:27; 16:22). What the righteous say is beneficial to life or life-giving. Their words are life-giving but the words of the wicked are violent. See R. B. Y. Scott, “Wise and Foolish, Righteous and Wicked,” VT 29 (1972): 145-65.
3 tn Heb “the mouth.” The term פֶּה (peh, “mouth”) functions as a metonymy of cause for speech.
4 tn Heb “covers.” Behind the speech of the wicked is aggressive violence (W. McKane, Proverbs [OTL], 422).
5 tn The syntax of this line is ambiguous. The translation takes “the mouth of the wicked” as the nominative subject and “violence” as the accusative direct object; however, the subject might be “violence,” hence: “violence covers the mouth of the wicked.”
6 tn Heb “on the lips” (so NAB, NASB, NRSV). The term “lips” is a metonymy of cause for the words spoken by the lips.
7 tn Heb “the one who is discerning.” The term “discerning” describes someone who is critically perceptive and has understanding. He can be relied on to say things that are wise.
8 tn Heb “the one lacking of heart.” The noun לֵב (lev, “heart”) functions as a genitive of specification: “lacking in respect to heart.” The term לֵב functions in a figurative sense (metonymy of association) for wisdom because the heart is viewed as the seat of common sense (BDB 524 s.v. 3.a).
9 tn Heb “a rod is for the back of the one lacking heart.” The term שֵׁבֶט (shevet, “rod”) functions figuratively: synecdoche of specific (= rod of discipline) for general (= discipline in general). The term גֵו (gev, “back”) is a synecdoche of part (= back) for the whole (= person as a whole). The back is emphasized because it was the object of physical corporeal discipline. This proverb is not limited in its application to physical corporeal punishment because the consequences of foolishness may come in many forms, physical corporeal discipline being only one form.
10 tn Heb “wise men.”
11 sn The verb צָפַן (tsafan, “to store up; to treasure”) may mean (1) the wise acquire and do not lose wisdom (cf. NAB, NIV, TEV), or (2) they do not tell all that they know (cf. NCV), that is, they treasure it up for a time when they will need it. The fool, by contrast, talks without thinking.
12 tn Heb “the mouth of foolishness”; cf. NRSV, NLT “the babbling of a fool.” The term פֶּה (peh, “mouth”) functions as a metonymy of cause for speech. The genitive אֶוִיל (’evil, “foolishness”) functions as an attributive adjective: “a foolish mouth” = foolish speech.
14 tn Heb “the lips of the righteous.” The term “lips” functions as a metonymy of cause for speech. This contrasts the tongue (metonymy of cause for what they say) with the heart (metonymy of subject for what they intend). What the righteous say is more valuable than what the wicked intend.
15 tn The comparative “like” is not in the Hebrew text but is implied by the metaphor; it is supplied in the translation for the sake of clarity.
16 tn Or “pure”; Heb “choice.”
17 tn Heb “the heart of the wicked” (so KJV, NAB, NIV). The term “heart” functions as a metonymy of cause for thoughts. The term לֵב (lev, “heart”) often refers to the seat of thoughts, will and emotions (BDB 524 s.v. 3-4).
18 tn Heb “like little.” This expression refers to what has little value: “little worth” (so KJV, NAB, NRSV; cf. BDB 590 s.v. מְעַט 2.d). The point of the metaphor is clarified by the parallelism: Silver is valuable; the heart of the wicked is worth little. Tg. Prov 10:20 says it was full of dross, a contrast with choice silver.
19 tn Heb “lips.” The term “lips” functions as a metonymy of cause for what is said (or in this case taught).
21 tn In what sense the fool “dies” is unclear. Fools ruin their lives and the lives of others by their lack of discipline and knowledge. The contrast is between enhancing life and ruining life.
23 tn Heb “the mouth.” The term פֶּה (peh, “mouth”) functions as a metonymy of cause for speech.
24 tn Heb “bears wisdom.” The verb נוּב (nuv) means “to bear fruit.” It is used figuratively of the righteous; they produce wisdom and righteousness. The term חָכְמָה (khokhmah, “wisdom”) represents the “fruit” that the righteous bear: “they bear the fruit of wisdom” (BDB 626 s.v.).
25 tn Heb “the tongue of perversions.” The noun תַּהְפֻּכוֹת (tahpukhot, “perversions”) functions as a genitive of content; it refers to what the tongue says – perverse things. The plural form depicts a plural of character. The term לָשׁוֹן (lashon, “tongue”) functions as a synecdoche of part (= tongue) for the whole person (= the speaker). The tongue is emphasized because this person is characterized by perverse speech. The term תַּהְפֻּכוֹת (“perversions”) refers to those who turn things upside down, overthrow, or pervert what is right.
26 tn Heb “will be cut off” (so NAB, NRSV, NLT); cf. KJV, NASB, NIV “cut out.” Their tongue will be cut off, a hyperbole meaning to bring to an end the evil that they speak.
27 sn The verb “know” applied to “lips” is unusual. “Lips” is a metonymy for what the righteous say; and their words “know” (a personification) what is pleasing, i.e., they are acquainted with.
28 sn The righteous say what is pleasing, acceptable, or delightful; but the wicked say perverse and destructive things.
29 tn Heb “lips.” The term “lips” is a metonymy of cause for what is said.