correct a discerning person, and as a result he will understand knowledge. 11
you will stray 13 from the words of knowledge.
1 tn The verb שָׁמַר (shamar) is repeated twice in this line but with two different senses, creating a polysemantic wordplay: “he who obeys/keeps (ֹֹשׁמֵר, shomer) the commandment safeguards/keeps (שֹׁמֵר, shomer) his life.”
2 sn The expression his ways could refer either (1) to the conduct of the individual himself, or (2) to the commandments as the
3 tc The Kethib is יָוְמֻת (yavmut), “will be put to death,” while the Qere reads יָמוּת (yamut, “will die”). The Qere is the preferred reading and is followed by most English versions.
4 sn The advice refers in all probability to the teachings of the sages that will make one wise.
5 tn The proverb is one continuous thought, but the second half of the verse provides the purpose for the imperatives of the first half.
6 tn The imperfect tense has the nuance of a final imperfect in a purpose clause, and so is translated “that you may become wise” (cf. NAB, NRSV).
7 tn Heb “become wise in your latter end” (cf. KJV, ASV) which could obviously be misunderstood.
8 tn The Hiphil imperfect תַּכֶּה (takeh) is followed by another imperfect. It could be rendered: “strike a scorner [imperfect of instruction] and a simpleton will become prudent.” But the first of the parallel verbs can also be subordinated to the second as a temporal or conditional clause. Some English versions translate “beat” (NAB “if you beat an arrogant man”), but this could be understood to refer to competition rather than physical punishment. Therefore “flog” has been used in the translation, since it is normally associated with punishment or discipline.
9 sn Different people learn differently. There are three types of people in this proverb: the scorner with a closed mind, the simpleton with an empty mind, and the discerning person with an open mind (D. Kidner, Proverbs [TOTC], 135). The simpleton learns by observing a scoffer being punished, even though the punishment will have no effect on the scoffer.
11 tn The second half begins with הוֹכִיחַ (hokhiakh), the Hiphil infinitive construct. This parallels the imperfect tense beginning the first half; it forms a temporal or conditional clause as well, so that the main verb is “he will understand.”
sn The discerning person will learn from verbal rebukes. The contrast is caught in a wordplay in the Midrash: “For the wise a hint [r’mizo], for the fool a fist [kurmezo]” (Mishle 22:6).
12 tn Heb “Stop listening…!” The infinitive construct לִשְׁמֹעַ (lishmoa’) functions as the direct object of the imperative: “stop heeding [or, listening to].” Of course in this proverb which shows the consequences of doing so, this is irony. The sage is instructing not to stop. The conditional protasis construction does not appear in the Hebrew but is supplied in the translation.
13 tn The second line has an infinitive construct לִשְׁגוֹת (lishgot), meaning “to stray; to go astray; to err.” It indicates the result of the instruction – stop listening, and as a result you will go astray. The LXX took it differently: “A son who ceases to attend to discipline is likely to stray from words of knowledge.” RSV sees the final clause as the purpose of the instructions to be avoided: “do not listen to instructions to err.”