but righteousness delivers from mortal danger. 2
but a cruel person brings himself trouble. 9
11:28 The one who trusts in his riches will fall,
but whoever hates bribes 29 will live.
but afterward his mouth will be filled with gravel. 37
but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty. 44
they seek death. 48
gathers it for someone who is gracious 63 to the needy.
but the one who hastens 65 to gain riches will not go unpunished.
1 sn The “day of wrath” refers to divine punishment in this life (R. N. Whybray, Proverbs [CBC], 67; e.g., also Job 21:30; Ezek 7:19; Zeph 1:18). Righteousness and not wealth is more valuable in anticipating judgment.
2 tn Heb “from death.”
3 tn Heb “a woman of grace.” The genitive חֵן (khen, “grace”) functions as an attributive adjective. The contrast is between “a gracious woman” (אֵשֶׁת־חֵן, ’eshet-khen), a woman who is not only graceful but generous, and “powerful men,” a term usually having a bad sense, such as tyrants or ruthless men.
4 tn Heb “those who are terrifying.” The term עָרִיץ (’arits) refers to a person who strikes terror into the hearts of his victims. The term refers to a ruthless person who uses violence to overcome his victims (BDB 792 s.v.). Cf. ASV, NASB, NLT “violent men”; NRSV “the aggressive.”
5 tc The LXX adds: “She who hates virtue makes a throne for dishonor; the idle will be destitute of means.” This reading is followed by several English versions (e.g., NAB, NEB, NRSV, TEV). C. H. Toy concludes that MT provides remnants of the original, but that the LXX does not provide the full meaning (Proverbs [ICC], 229).
sn The implication is that the ruthless men will obtain wealth without honor, and therefore this is not viewed as success by the writer.
6 tn Heb “man of kindness.”
sn This contrasts the “kind person” and the “cruel person” (one who is fierce, cruel), showing the consequences of their dispositions.
7 tn The term גֹּמֶל (gomel) means “to deal fully [or “adequately”] with” someone or something. The kind person will benefit himself.
9 tn Heb “brings trouble to his flesh.”
sn There may be a conscious effort by the sage to contrast “soul” and “body”: He contrasts the benefits of kindness for the “soul” (translated “himself”) with the trouble that comes to the “flesh/body” (translated “himself”) of the cruel.
10 tn The form is the masculine singular adjective used as a substantive.
11 tn Heb “makes” (so NAB).
12 tn Heb “wages of deception.”
sn Whatever recompense or reward the wicked receive will not last, hence, it is deceptive (R. B. Y. Scott, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes [AB], 88).
13 sn The participle “sowing” provides an implied comparison (the figure is known as hypocatastasis) with the point of practicing righteousness and inspiring others to do the same. What is sown will yield fruit (1 Cor 9:11; 2 Cor 9:6; Jas 3:18).
14 tn The term “reaps” does not appear in the Hebrew but has been supplied in the translation from context for the sake of smoothness.
15 tn Heb “true” (so NASB, NRSV); KJV, NAB, NIV “sure.”
16 sn A wordplay (paronomasia) occurs between “deceptive” (שָׁקֶר, shaqer) and “reward” (שֶׂכֶר, sekher), underscoring the contrast by the repetition of sounds. The wages of the wicked are deceptive; the reward of the righteous is sure.
17 sn The implication from the parallelism is that the righteous do not trust in their own riches, but in the
18 tn Heb “leafage” or “leaf” (cf. KJV “as a branch”); TEV “leaves of summer”; NLT “leaves in spring.” The simile of a leaf is a figure of prosperity and fertility throughout the ancient Near East.
19 tc The MT reads מֵהֵבֶל (mehevel, “from vanity”). The Greek and Latin versions (followed by RSV) reflect מְבֹהָל (mÿvohal, “in haste”) which exhibits metathesis. MT is the more difficult reading and therefore preferred. The alternate reading fits the parallelism better, but is therefore a less difficult reading.
tn Heb “wealth from vanity” (cf. KJV, ASV). The term הֶבֶל (hevel) literally means “vapor” and figuratively refers to that which is unsubstantial, fleeting, or amount to nothing (BDB 210 s.v.). Used in antithesis with the expression “little by little,” it means either “without working for it” or “quickly.” Some English versions assume dishonest gain (cf. NASB, NIV, CEV).
20 tn Heb “will become small.” The verb מָעָט (ma’at) means “to become small; to become diminished; to become few.” Money gained without work will diminish quickly, because it was come by too easily. The verb forms a precise contrast with רָבָה (ravah), “to become much; to become many,” but in the Hiphil, “to multiply; to make much many; to cause increase.”
21 tn Heb “by hand”; cf. KJV, ASV, NASB “by labor.”
22 tn Heb “will increase.”
23 sn One of the frequent characteristics of wisdom literature is the “better” saying; it is a comparison of different but similar things to determine which is to be preferred. These two verses focus on spiritual things being better than troubled material things.
24 sn Turmoil refers to anxiety; the fear of the
25 sn Not all wealth has turmoil with it. But the proverb is focusing on the comparison of two things – fear of the
26 tn Heb “the one who gains.” The phrase בּוֹצֵעַ בָּצַע (botseakh batsa’) is a participle followed by its cognate accusative. This refers to a person who is always making the big deal, getting the larger cut, or in a hurry to get rich. The verb, though, makes it clear that the gaining of a profit is by violence and usually unjust, since the root has the idea of “cut off; break off; gain by violence.” The line is contrasted with hating bribes, and so the gain in this line may be through bribery.
27 sn The participle “troubles” (עֹכֵר, ’okher) can have the connotation of making things difficult for the family, or completely ruining the family (cf. NAB). In Josh 7:1 Achan took some of the “banned things” and was put to death: Because he “troubled Israel,” the
28 tn Heb “his house.”
29 tn Heb “gifts” (so KJV). Gifts can be harmless enough, but in a setting like this the idea is that the “gift” is in exchange for some “profit [or, gain].” Therefore they are bribes (cf. ASV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV, NLT), and to be hated or rejected. Abram, for example, would not take anything that the king of Sodom had to offer, “lest [he] say, “I have made Abram rich” (Gen 14:22-24).
30 tn The phrase “works like” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is implied by the metaphor; it is supplied for the sake of clarity.
31 tn Heb “a stone of favors”; NAB, NRSV “a magic stone.” The term שֹׁחַד (shokhad, “bribe”) could be simply translated as “a gift”; but the second half of the verse says that the one who offers it is successful. At best it could be a gift that opens doors; at worst it is a bribe. The word שֹׁחַד is never used of a disinterested gift, so there is always something of the bribe in it (e.g., Ps 15:5; Isa 1:23). Here it is “a stone that brings favor,” the genitive being the effect or the result of the gift. In other words, it has magical properties and “works like a charm.”
32 tn Heb “in the eyes of its owner.”
33 tn Heb “in all that he turns”; NASB, NIV “wherever he turns.”
34 sn As C. H. Toy points out, the sage is merely affirming a point without making a comment – those who use bribery meet with widespread success (Proverbs [ICC], 341). This does not amount to an endorsement of bribery.
35 tn Heb “bread of deceit” (so KJV, NAB). This refers to food gained through dishonest means. The term “bread” is a synecdoche of specific for general, referring to anything obtained by fraud, including food.
36 tn Heb “a man.”
37 sn The image of food and eating is carried throughout the proverb. Food taken by fraud seems sweet at first, but afterward it is not. To end up with a mouth full of gravel (a mass of small particles; e.g., Job 20:14-15; Lam 3:16) implies by comparison that what has been taken by fraud will be worthless and useless and certainly in the way (like food turning into sand and dirt).
38 tc The Kethib reads מְבֻחֶלֶת (mÿbukhelet), “gotten by greed” (based on a cognate Syriac verb, “to be greedy”); but the Qere is מְבֹהֶלֶת (mÿvohelet), “gotten hastily [or, quickly].” A large number of
39 tn The form is the Pual imperfect, “will not be blessed,” suggesting that divine justice is at work.
sn The Hebrew verb means “enriched, made fruitful, prospered.” Whatever the inheritance was, it will not reach its full potential or even remain permanent.
40 tn Heb “in its end”; KJV, ASV “the end thereof.”
41 tn The word “diligent” is an adjective used substantivally. The related verb means “to cut, sharpen, decide”; so the adjective describes one who is “sharp” – one who acts decisively. The word “hasty” has the idea of being pressed or pressured into quick actions. So the text contrasts calculated expeditiousness with unproductive haste. C. H. Toy does not like this contrast, and so proposes changing the latter to “lazy” (Proverbs [ICC], 399), but W. McKane rightly criticizes that as unnecessarily forming a pedestrian antithesis (Proverbs [OTL], 550).
42 tn The term “lead” is supplied in the translation.
43 tn The Hebrew noun translated “plenty” comes from the verb יָתַר (yatar), which means “to remain over.” So the calculated diligence will lead to abundance, prosperity.
44 tn Heb “lack; need; thing needed”; NRSV “to want.”
45 tn The first word of the verse is the noun meaning “doing, deed, work.” The BHS editors suggest reading with the LXX an active participle – “the one who makes” (cf. NAB “He who makes”). The second word means “treasure,” from the verb “lay up, store up.” It is an objective genitive here.
46 tn The comparative “like” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is implied by the metaphor; it is supplied for the sake of clarity.
47 tn The Hebrew הֶבֶל נִדָּף (hevel nidaf) is properly “a driven vapor” (“driven” = the Niphal participle). The point of the metaphor is that the ill-gotten gains will vanish into thin air. The LXX has “pursues” (as if reading רֹדֵף, rodef); cf. NAB “chasing a bubble over deadly snares.”
48 tn The Hebrew has “seekers of death,” meaning “[they that seek them] are seekers of death,” or that the fortune is “a fleeting vapor for those who seek death.” The sense is not readily apparent. The Greek and the Latin versions have “snares of death”; the form מוֹקְשֵׁי (moqÿshe) was read instead of מְבַקְשֵׁי (mÿvaqshe). This reading does not make a more credible metaphor, and one must explain the loss of the letter ב (bet) in the textual variant. It is, however, slightly easier to interpret in the verse, and is followed by a number of English versions (e.g., NAB, NIV, NRSV, NLT). But whether the easier reading is the correct one in this case would be difficult to prove.
49 tn The “violence” (שֹׁד, shod) drags away the wicked, probably either to do more sin or to their punishment. “Violence” here is either personified, or it is a metonymy of cause, meaning “the outcome of their violence” drags them away.
50 tn Heb “violence of the wicked.” This is a subjective genitive: “violence which the wicked do.”
51 tn The second colon of the verse is the causal clause, explaining why they are dragged away. They are not passive victims of their circumstances or their crimes. They choose to persist in their violence and so it destroys them.
52 tn Heb “they refuse to do justice” (so ASV); NASB “refuse to act with justice.”
53 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).
54 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.
55 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”).
56 tn The repetition of the term “subdues” in the second line is supplied in the translation.
57 tc The LXX offers a moralizing translation not too closely tied to the MT: “he who withholds a gift stirs up violent wrath.”
58 sn This chapter gives a lot of attention to the contrast between the poor and the rich, assuming an integrity for the poor that is not present with the rich; the subject is addressed in vv. 6, 8, 11, 20, 22, 25, and 27 (G. A. Chutter, “Riches and Poverty in the Book of Proverbs,” Crux 18 : 23-28).
59 tn The Hebrew term translated “ways” is in the dual, suggesting that the person has double ways, i.e., he is hypocritical. C. H. Toy does not like this idea and changes the form to the plural (Proverbs [ICC], 497), but his emendation is gratuitous and should be rejected.
60 tn Heb “and he is rich.” Many English versions treat this as a concessive clause (cf. KJV “though he be rich”).
61 sn This is another “better” saying, contrasting a poor person who has integrity with a rich person who is perverse. Of course there are rich people with integrity and perverse poor people, but that is not of interest here. If it came to the choices described here, honest poverty is better than corrupt wealth.
62 tn Heb “by interest and increase” (so ASV; NASB “by interest and usury”; NAB “by interest and overcharge.” The two words seem to be synonyms; they probably form a nominal hendiadys, meaning “by increasing [exorbitant] interest.” The law prohibited making a commission or charging interest (Exod 22:25; Lev 25:36-37; Deut 23:20; Ps 15:5). If the poor needed help, the rich were to help them – but not charge them interest.
63 tn The term חוֹנֵן (khonen, “someone who shows favor”) is the active participle.
sn The verse is saying that in God’s justice wealth amassed unjustly will eventually go to the poor. God will take the wealth away from them and give it to people who will distribute it better to the poor.
64 tn Heb “a man of faithfulness,” although the context does not indicate this should be limited only to males.
sn The text does not qualify the nature of the faithfulness. While this would certainly have implications for the person’s righteous acts, its primary meaning may be his diligence and reliability in his work. His faithful work will bring the returns.
65 sn The proverb is not rebuking diligent labor. One who is eager to get rich quickly is the opposite of the faithful person. The first person is faithful to God and to the covenant community; the second is trying to get rich as quickly as possible, at the least without doing an honest day’s work and at the worst dishonestly. In a hurry to gain wealth, he falls into various schemes and will pay for it. Tg. Prov 28:20 interprets this to say he hastens through deceit and wrongdoing.