they ambush their own lives! 2
but whoever hates bribes 15 will live.
but the righteous gives and does not hold back. 17
good favor 20 more than silver or gold.
gathers it for someone who is gracious 33 to the needy.
and does not know that poverty will overtake him. 35
but one who exacts tribute 42 tears it down.
1 sn They think that they are going to shed innocent blood, but in their blindness they do not realize that it is their own blood they shed. Their greed will lead to their destruction. This is an example of ironic poetic justice. They do not intend to destroy themselves; but this is what they accomplish.
2 tn Heb “their own souls.” The term נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh, “soul”) is used as a metonymy (= soul) of association (= life). The noun נֶפֶשׁ often refers to physical “life” (Exod 21:23; Num 17:3; Judg 5:18; Prov 12:10; BDB 659 s.v. 3.c).
4 tc The MT reads אָרְחוֹת (’orkhot, “paths; ways” as figure for mode of life): “so are the ways [or, paths] of all who gain profit unjustly.” The BHS editors suggest emending the text to אַחֲרִית (’akharit, “end” as figure for their fate) by simple metathesis between ח (khet) and ר (resh) and by orthographic confusion between י (yod) and ו (vav), both common scribal errors: “so is the fate of all who gain profit unjustly.” The external evidence supports MT, which is also the more difficult reading. It adequately fits the context which uses “way” and “path” imagery throughout 1:10-19.
5 tn Heb “those who unjustly gain unjust gain.” The participle בֹּצֵעַ (boysea’, “those who unjustly gain”) is followed by the cognate accusative of the same root בָּצַע (batsa’, “unjust gain”) to underscore the idea that they gained their wealth through heinous criminal activity.
sn The verb followed by the cognate noun usually means seeking gain in an unjust way (1 Sam 8:3), or for selfish purposes (Gen 37:26), or gaining by violence. The word may have the sense of covetousness.
6 tn The subject of the verb is the noun בָּצַע (“unjust gain”), which is also the referent of the 3rd person masculine singular suffix on בְּעָלָיו (bÿ’alav, “its owners”). Greed takes away the life of those who live by greed (e.g., 15:27; 26:27). See G. R. Driver, “Problems in the Hebrew Text of Proverbs,” Bib 32 (1951): 173-74.
7 tn The term נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh, “soul”) is used as a metonymy (= soul) of association (= life). The noun נֶפֶשׁ often refers to physical “life” (Exod 21:23; Num 17:3; Judg 5:18; Prov 12:10; BDB 659 s.v. 3.c).
8 tn Heb “its owners.”
9 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.
10 sn Turmoil refers to anxiety; the fear of the
11 sn Not all wealth has turmoil with it. But the proverb is focusing on the comparison of two things – fear of the
12 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.
13 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
14 tn Heb “his house.”
15 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).
16 tn The construction uses the Hitpael perfect tense הִתְאַוָּה (hit’avvah) followed by the cognate accusative תַאֲוָה (ta’avah). It describes one who is consumed with craving for more. The verse has been placed with the preceding because of the literary connection with “desire/craving.”
17 sn The additional clause, “and does not hold back,” emphasizes that when the righteous gives he gives freely, without fearing that his generosity will bring him to poverty. This is the contrast with the one who is self-indulgent and craves for more.
18 tn Heb “a name.” The idea of the name being “good” is implied; it has the connotation here of a reputation (cf. TEV, CEV, NLT).
19 tn “To be chosen rather than” is a translation of the Niphal participle with the comparative degree taken into consideration. Cf. CEV “worth much more than.”
20 tn Heb “favor of goodness.” This is a somewhat difficult expression. Some English versions render the phrase “favor is better than silver or gold” (so NASB, NRSV) making it parallel to the first colon. But if “good” is retained as an attributive modifier, then it would mean one was well thought of, or one had engaging qualities (cf. ASV “loving favor; NLT “high esteem”). This fits with the idea of the reputation in the first colon, for a good name would bring with it the favor of others.
21 tn The verse simply begins “you have found honey.” Some turn this into an interrogative clause for the condition laid down (cf. KJV, ASV, NASB, NLT); most make the form in some way subordinate to the following instruction: “when you find…eat.”
22 tn The verb means “to be satisfied; to be sated; to be filled.” Here it means more than satisfied, since it describes one who overindulges and becomes sick. The English verb “stuffed” conveys this idea well.
23 sn The proverb warns that anything overindulged in can become sickening. The verse uses formal parallelism to express first the condition and then its consequences. It teaches that moderation is wise in the pleasures of life.
24 tn The term “as” is not in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation in light of the analogy.
25 sn Countless generations of people have gone into the world below; yet “death” is never satisfied – it always takes more. The line personifies Death and Destruction. It forms the emblem in the parallelism.
26 tn Heb “eyes of a man.” This expression refers to the desires – what the individual looks longingly on. Ecclesiastes Rabbah 1:34 (one of the rabbinic Midrashim) says, “No man dies and has one-half of what he wanted.”
27 tc The LXX contains a scribal addition: “He who fixes his eye is an abomination to the
28 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).
29 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.
30 tn Heb “and he is rich.” Many English versions treat this as a concessive clause (cf. KJV “though he be rich”).
31 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.
32 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.
33 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.
34 tn Heb “a man with an evil eye” (as opposed to the generous man who has a “good” eye). This individual is selfish, unkind, unsympathetic to others. He looks only to his own gain. Cf. NAB “The avaricious man”; NLT “A greedy person.”
35 sn The one who is hasty to gain wealth is involved in sin in some way, for which he will be punished by poverty. The idea of “hastening” after riches suggests a dishonest approach to acquiring wealth.
36 tn Heb “wide of soul.” This is an idiom meaning “a greedy person.” The term נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh, traditionally, “soul”) has here its more basic meaning of appetites (a person is a soul, a bundle of appetites; BDB 660 s.v. 5.a). It would mean “wide of appetite” (רְהַב־נֶפֶשׁ), thus “greedy.”
37 sn Greed “stirs up” the strife. This individual’s attitude and actions stir up dissension because people do not long tolerate him.
38 tn The construction uses the participle בּוֹטֵחַ (boteakh) followed by עַל־יְהוָה (’al-yÿhvah), which gives the sense of “relying confidently on the
39 tn The verb דָּשֵׁן (dashen) means “to be fat,” and in the Piel/Pual stems “to make fat/to be made fat” (cf. KJV, ASV). The idea of being “fat” was symbolic of health and prosperity – the one who trusts in the
40 tn The form is the Hiphil imperfect of the verb עָמַד (’amad, “to stand”), hence, “to cause to stand.” It means that the king makes the nation “stand firm,” with “standing firm” being a figure for strength, security, and stability. Cf. NCV “makes his country (the nation CEV) strong.”
41 tn Or “country.” This term functions as a metonymy of subject for the people in the land.
42 tn The Hebrew text reads אִישׁ תְּרוּמוֹת (’ish tÿrumot, “a man of offerings”), which could refer to a man who “receives gifts” or “gives gifts.” Because of its destructive nature on the country, here the phrase must mean that he receives or “exacts” the money (cf. NRSV “makes heavy exactions”). This seems to go beyond the ordinary taxation for two reasons: (1) this ruler is a “man of offerings,” indicating that it is in his nature to do this, and (2) it tears down the country. The word “offerings” has been taken to refer to gifts or bribes (cf. NASB, NIV, CEV, NLT), but the word itself suggests more the idea of tribute or taxes that are demanded; this Hebrew word was used in Leviticus for offerings given to the priests, and in Ezek 45:16 for taxes. The point seems to be that this ruler or administrator is breaking the backs of the people with heavy taxes or tribute (e.g., 1 Sam 8:11-18), and this causes division and strife.