6:20 My child, guard the commands of your father
and do not forsake the instruction of your mother.
fasten them around your neck.
when you lie down, they will watch over you;
instruction is like a light,
10:1 The Proverbs of Solomon:
but a scoffer 36 does not listen to rebuke.
15:5 A fool rejects his father’s discipline,
but whoever heeds reproof shows good sense. 37
and the father of a fool has no joy. 52
and bitterness to the mother who bore him. 54
but a prudent wife 65 is from the Lord.
is a son 68 who brings shame and disgrace.
you will stray 70 from the words of knowledge.
but the rod of discipline 76 will drive it far from him.
which was put in place by your ancestors. 78
23:22 Listen to your father who begot you,
and do not despise your mother when she is old.
whoever fathers a wise child 80 will have joy in him.
23:25 May your father and your mother have joy;
may she who bore you rejoice. 81
so is a person who wanders from his home. 83
27:10 Do not forsake your friend and your father’s friend,
and do not enter your brother’s house in the day of your disaster;
a neighbor nearby is better than a brother far away. 84
and despises obeying 98 a mother –
the ravens of the valley will peck it out
and the young vultures will eat it. 99
1 tn The imperative שְׁמַע (shÿma’, “Listen!”) forms an urgent exhortation which expects immediate compliance with parental instruction.
2 tn Heb “my son.” It is likely that collections of proverbs grew up in the royal courts and were designed for the training of the youthful prince. But once the collection was included in the canon, the term “son” would be expanded to mean a disciple, for all the people were to learn wisdom when young. It would not be limited to sons alone but would include daughters – as the expression “the children of (בְּנֵי, bÿne) Israel” (including males and females) clearly shows. Several passages in the Mishnah and Talmud record instructions to teach daughters the Mosaic law so that they will be righteous and avoid sin as well. The translation “my child,” although not entirely satisfactory, will be used here.
4 tn Heb “of.” The noun אָבִיךָ (’avikha, “of your father”) may be classified as a genitive of source.
5 tn Heb “instruction.” In Proverbs the noun תּוֹרַה (torah) often means “instruction” or “moral direction” rather than “law” (BDB 435 s.v. 1.a). It is related to יָרָה (yarah, “to point [or, show] the way” in the Hiphil (BDB 435). Instruction attempts to point a person in the right direction (e.g., Gen 46:28).
6 tn Heb “of.” The noun אִמֶּךָ (’immekha, “of your mother”) may be classified as a genitive of source.
7 tn The comparative “like” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is implied by the metaphor; it is supplied in the translation for the sake of clarity.
8 tn Heb “a garland of grace.” The word חֵן (khen, “grace”) refers to qualities that make a person pleasant and agreeable, e.g., a gracious and charming person (BDB 336 s.v.). The metaphor compares the teachings that produce these qualities to an attractive wreath.
10 tn Heb “for.”
11 tn The comparative “like” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is implied by the metaphor; it is supplied in the translation for the sake of clarity.
12 tn Cf. KJV, ASV “chains”; NIV “a chain”; but this English term could suggest a prisoner’s chain to the modern reader rather than adornment.
13 tn Heb “for.”
14 sn The figures used here are hypocatastases (implied comparisons). There may also be an allusion to Deut 6 where the people were told to bind the law on their foreheads and arms. The point here is that the disciple will never be without these instructions. See further, P. W. Skehan, Studies in Israelite Poetry and Wisdom (CBQMS), 1-8.
15 tn The verbal form is the Hitpael infinitive construct with a preposition and a suffixed subjective genitive to form a temporal clause. The term הָלַךְ (halakh) in this verbal stem means “to go about; to go to and fro.” The use of these terms in v. 22 also alludes to Deut 6:7.
16 tn Heb “it will guide you.” The verb is singular and the instruction is the subject.
17 tn In both of the preceding cola an infinitive construct was used for the temporal clauses; now the construction uses a perfect tense with vav (ו) consecutive. The verb would then be equivalent to an imperfect tense, but subordinated as a temporal clause here.
18 sn The Hebrew verb means “talk” in the sense of “to muse; to complain; to meditate”; cf. TEV, NLT “advise you.” Instruction bound to the heart will speak to the disciple on awaking.
19 tn Heb “the commandment” (so KJV, NASB, NRSV).
20 tn The comparative “like” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is implied by the metaphor; it is supplied in the translation for the sake of clarity.
21 sn The terms “lamp,” “light,” and “way” are all metaphors. The positive teachings and commandments will illumine or reveal to the disciple the way to life; the disciplinary correctives will provide guidance into fullness of life.
22 tn The comparative “like” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is implied by the metaphor; it is supplied in the translation for the sake of clarity.
23 tn Heb “the way of life” (so KJV, NASB, NRSV); NIV, NLT “the way to life.” The noun “life” is a genitive following the construct “way.” It could be an attributive genitive modifying the kind of way/course of life that instruction provides, but it could also be objective in that the course of life followed would produce and lead to life.
24 sn Beginning with ch. 10 there is a difference in the form of the material contained in the book of Proverbs. No longer are there long admonitions, but the actual proverbs, short aphorisms dealing with right or wrong choices. Other than a few similar themes grouped together here and there, there is no arrangement to the material as a whole. It is a long collection of approximately 400 proverbs.
25 tn Heb “son.”
26 tn The imperfect tense describes progressive or habitual action, translated here with an English present tense. These fit the nature of proverbs which are general maxims, and not necessarily absolutes or universal truths. One may normally expect to find what the proverb notes, and one should live according to its instructions in the light of those expectations; but one should not be surprised if from time to time there is an exception. The fact that there may be an exception does not diminish the need to live by the sayings.
27 tn Heb “son.”
28 tn Heb “grief of his mother.” The noun “grief” is in construct, and “mother” is an objective genitive. The saying declares that the consequences of wisdom or folly affects the parents.
29 tn The verb עָכַר (’akhar, “to trouble”) refers to actions which make life difficult for one’s family (BDB 747 s.v.). He will be cut out of the family inheritance.
30 tn Heb “his house.” The term בֵּית (bet, “house”) is a synecdoche of container (= house) for its contents (= family, household).
31 tn Heb “the wind” (so KJV, NCV, NLT); NAB “empty air.” The word “wind” (רוּחַ, ruakh) refers to what cannot be grasped (Prov 27:16; Eccl 1:14, 17). The figure is a hypocatastasis, comparing wind to what he inherits – nothing he can put his hands on. Cf. CEV “won’t inherit a thing.”
32 sn The “fool” here is the “troubler” of the first half. One who mismanages his affairs so badly so that there is nothing for the family may have to sell himself into slavery to the wise. The ideas of the two halves of the verse are complementary.
33 tn Heb “to the wise of heart.” The noun לֵב (lev, “heart”) is an attributed genitive: “wise heart.” The term לֵב (“heart”) also functions as a synecdoche of part (= heart) for the whole (= person); see BDB 525 s.v. 7.
34 tn The term “accepts” does not appear in the Hebrew but is supplied in the translation for the sake of smoothness and clarity.
35 tc G. R. Driver suggested reading this word as מְיֻסַּר (mÿyussar, “allows himself to be disciplined”); see his “Hebrew Notes on Prophets and Proverbs,” JTS 41 (1940): 174. But this is not necessary at all; the MT makes good sense as it stands. Similarly, the LXX has “a wise son listens to his father.”
tn Heb “discipline of a father.”
36 sn The “scoffer” is the worst kind of fool. He has no respect for authority, reviles worship of God, and is unteachable because he thinks he knows it all. The change to a stronger word in the second colon – “rebuke” (גָּעַר, ga’ar) – shows that he does not respond to instruction on any level. Cf. NLT “a young mocker,” taking this to refer to the opposite of the “wise son” in the first colon.
37 tn Heb “is prudent” (so KJV, NASB, NRSV); NCV, NLT “is wise.” Anyone who accepts correction or rebuke will become prudent in life.
38 tn Heb “son.”
39 tn Heb “a fool of a man,” a genitive of specification.
40 sn The proverb is almost the same as 10:1, except that “despises” replaces “grief.” This adds the idea of the callousness of the one who inflicts grief on his mother (D. Kidner, Proverbs [TOTC], 116).
41 tn Heb “children of children [sons of sons].”
42 tn The comparative “like” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is implied by the metaphor; it is supplied in the translation for the sake of clarity.
43 sn The metaphor signifies that grandchildren are like a crown, that is, they are the “crowning glory” of life. The proverb comes from a culture that places great importance on the family in society and that values its heritage.
44 tn The noun תִּפְאָרָת (tif’arat) means “beauty; glory” (BDB 802 s.v.). In this passage “glory” seems to be identified with “glorying; boasting”; so a rendering that children are proud of their parents would be in order. Thus, “glory of children” would be a subjective genitive, the glorying that children do.”
45 tc The LXX has inserted: “To the faithful belongs the whole world of wealth, but to the unfaithful not an obulus.” It was apparently some popular sentiment at the time.
tn Heb “their fathers.”
46 sn The verse uses synonymous parallelism, so “friend” and “relative” are equated. Others, however, will take the verse with antithetical parallelism: W. G. Plaut argues that friendship is a spiritual relationship whereas a brother’s ties are based on a blood relationship – often adversity is the only thing that brings brothers together (Proverbs, 189).
47 tn Heb “a brother.”
48 tn Heb “is born for adversity.” This is not referring to sibling rivalry but to the loyalty a brother shows during times of calamity. This is not to say that a brother only shows loyalty when there is trouble, nor that he always does in these times (e.g., 18:19, 24; 19:7; 27:10). The true friend is the same as a brotherly relation – in times of greatest need the loyal love is displayed.
49 sn Here the Hebrew terms כְּסִיל (kÿsil) and נָבָל (naval) are paired. The first one, which occurs about fifty times in the book, refers to a dullard, whether it be in spiritual, intellectual, or moral matters. The second word, rare in the book, primarily focuses on religious folly – it refers to the practical atheist, the one who lives as if there is no God.
50 tn The form simply means “bears” or “gives birth to,” but since it is masculine it could be rendered “fathers” (cf. NASB “he who begets a fool”; NIV “To have a fool for a son”). The form for “fool” is masculine, but the proverb is not limited only to male children (cf. NCV “It is sad to have a foolish child”).
51 tn The phrase “does so” is supplied for the sake of clarification.
52 sn Parents of fools, who had hoped for children who would be a credit to the family, find only bitter disappointment (cf. TEV “nothing but sadness and sorrow”).
53 sn The Hebrew noun means “vexation, anger, grief.”
54 tn Heb “to the one who bore him.” Because the participle is feminine singular in Hebrew, this has been translated as “the mother who bore him.”
sn The proverb is similar to v. 21, 10:1, and 15:20.
55 tn Heb “brother,” but this is not limited to actual siblings (cf. NRSV “an ally”; CEV, NLT “friend”).
56 tn The Niphal participle from פָּשַׁע (pasha’) modifies “brother”: a brother transgressed, offended, sinned against.
57 tc The LXX has a clear antithetical proverb here: “A brother helped is like a stronghold, but disputes are like bars of a citadel.” Accordingly, the editors of BHS propose מוֹשִׁיעַ (moshia’) instead of נִפְשָׁע (nifsha’, so also the other versions and the RSV). But since both lines use the comparison with a citadel (fortified/barred), the antithesis is problematic.
tn The phrase “is harder to reach” is supplied in the translation on the basis of the comparative מִן (min). It is difficult to get into a fortified city; it is more difficult to reach an offended brother.
58 tn Heb “bars,” but this could be understood to mean “taverns,” so “barred gates” is employed in the translation.
59 sn The proverb is talking about changing a friend or a relative into an enemy by abuse or strife – the bars go up, as it were. And the “walls” that are erected are not easily torn down.
60 tn Heb “a foolish son” (so KJV, NAB, NIV, CEV); NRSV “a stupid child.”
61 tn Heb “the contentions of a wife” (so KJV, NASB); NAB “the nagging of a wife.” The genitive could be interpreted (1) as genitive of source or subjective genitive – she is quarreling; or (2) it could be a genitive of specification, making the word “contentions” a modifier, as in the present translation.
62 tn Heb “is a constant dripping.” The term “like” does not appear in the Hebrew but is supplied in the translation for the sake of clarity. The metaphor pictures water dropping (perhaps rain through the roof, cf. NRSV, CEV) in a continuous flow: It is annoying and irritating (e.g., Prov 27:15-16).
63 tc The LXX makes this moralistic statement for 13b: “vows paid out of hire of a harlot are not pure.” It is not based on the MT and attempts to reconstruct a text using this have been unsuccessful.
64 tn Heb “inheritance of fathers” (so KJV, ASV, NASB).
65 sn This statement describes a wife who has a skillful use of knowledge and discretion that proves to be successful. This contrasts with the preceding verse. The proverb is not concerned about unhappy marriages or bad wives (both of which exist); it simply affirms that when a marriage works out well one should credit it as a gift from God.
66 tn The construction joins the Piel participle מְשַׁדֶּד (mÿshaded, “one who robs”) with the Hiphil imperfect יַבְרִיחַ (yavriakh, “causes to flee” = chases away). The imperfect given a progressive imperfect nuance matches the timeless description of the participle as a substantive.
67 sn “Father” and “mother” here represent a stereotypical word pair in the book of Proverbs, rather than describing separate crimes against each individual parent. Both crimes are against both parents.
68 tn The more generic “child” does not fit the activities described in this verse and so “son” is retained in the translation. In the ancient world a “son” was more likely than a daughter to behave as stated. Such behavior may reflect the son wanting to take over his father’s lands prematurely.
69 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.
70 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.”
71 tn The form is the Piel participle of קָלַל (qalal), which means “to be light”; in the Piel stem it means “to take lightly; to treat as worthless; to treat contemptuously; to curse.” Under the Mosaic law such treatment of parents brought a death penalty (Exod 21:17; Lev 20:9; Deut 27:16).
72 tn “His lamp” is a figure known as hypocatastasis (an implied comparison) meaning “his life.” Cf. NLT “the lamp of your life”; TEV “your life will end like a lamp.”
sn For the lamp to be extinguished would mean death (e.g., 13:9) and possibly also the removal of posterity (R. N. Whybray, Proverbs [CBC], 115).
73 tc The Kethib, followed by the LXX, Syriac, and Latin, has בְּאִישׁוֹן (bÿ’ishon), “in the pupil of the eye darkness,” the dark spot of the eye. But the Qere has בֶּאֱשׁוּן (be’eshun), probably to be rendered “pitch” or “blackest,” although the form occurs nowhere else. The meaning with either reading is approximately the same – deep darkness, which adds vividly to the figure of the lamp being snuffed out. This individual’s destruction will be total and final.
74 sn The passive participle is figurative (implied comparison with “binding”); it means that folly forms part of a child’s nature (J. H. Greenstone, Proverbs, 238).
75 tn The “heart of a child” (לֶב־נָעַר, lev-na’ar) refers here to the natural inclination of a child to foolishness. The younger child is meant in this context, but the word can include youth. R. N. Whybray suggests that this idea might be described as a doctrine of “original folly” (Proverbs [CBC], 125). Cf. TEV “Children just naturally do silly, careless things.”
76 tn The word “rod” is a metonymy of adjunct; it represents physical chastening for direction or punishment, to suppress folly and develop potential. The genitive (“discipline”) may be taken as an attributive genitive (“a chastening rod”) or an objective genitive, (“a rod [= punishment] that brings about correction/discipline”).
77 sn Moving a boundary stone was (and still is) a major problem. The boundaries that were established by the forefathers were to be preserved, but no law would stop such violations if people lacked integrity (e.g., Deut 19:14; 27:17; 1 Kgs 21:16-19). Boundaries in Israel were sacred because God owned the land and he apportioned the property to the tribes. To extend one’s property illegally by moving a neighbor’s boundary marker was a violation of covenant and oath. Of course, disputes could arise when both sides claim their ancestors established a boundary.
78 tn Heb “your fathers” (so NAB, NASB).
sn The fourth saying deals with respect for property that belongs to other people (cf. Instruction of Amenemope, chap. 6, 7:12-13 [ANET 422]).
79 tc The Qere reading has the imperfect יָגִיל (yagil) with the cognate accusative גִּיל (gil) which intensifies the meaning and the specific future of this verb.
80 tn The term “child” is supplied for the masculine singular adjective here.
81 tn The form תָגֵל (tagel) is clearly a short form and therefore a jussive (“may she…rejoice”); if this second verb is a jussive, then the parallel יִשְׂמַח (yismakh) should be a jussive also (“may your father and your mother have joy”).
82 tn The form נוֹדֶדֶת (nodedet) is the Qal participle from נָדַד (nadad), “to wander; to stray; to flutter; to retreat; to depart”; cf. NIV, NRSV, NLT “strays.” It will be directly paralleled with the masculine participle in the second colon.
83 tn Heb “place” (so KJV, ASV); most other English versions translate as “home.”
sn The reason for the wandering from the nest/place is not given, but it could be because of exile, eviction, business, or irresponsible actions. The saying may be generally observing that those who wander lack the security of their home and cannot contribute to their community (e.g., the massive movement of refugees). It could be portraying the unhappy plight of the wanderer without condemning him over the reason for the flight.
84 sn The meaning of the verse is very difficult, although the translation is rather straightforward. It may simply be saying that people should retain family relationships but will discover that a friend who is available is better than a relative who is not. But C. H. Toy thinks that the verse is made up of three lines that have no connection: 10a instructs people to maintain relationships, 10b says not to go to a brother’s house [only?] when disaster strikes, and 10c observes that a nearby friend is better than a far-away relative. C. H. Toy suggests a connection may have been there, but has been lost (Proverbs [ICC], 485-86). The conflict between 17:17 and 10b may be another example of presenting two sides of the issue, a fairly frequent occurrence in the book of Proverbs.
85 tn The Hebrew word could refer (1) to “instruction” by the father (cf. NCV) or (2) the Mosaic law (so most English versions). The chapter seems to be stressing religious obedience, so the referent is probably the law. Besides, the father’s teaching will be what the law demands, and the one who associates with gluttons is not abiding by the law.
86 tn Heb “son,” but the immediate context does not suggest limiting this only to male children.
87 sn The companion of gluttons shames his father and his family because such a life style as he now embraces is both unruly and antisocial.
88 tn Heb “father,” but the immediate context does not suggest limiting this only to the male parent.
89 sn While the expression is general enough to cover any kind of robbery, the point seems to be that because it can be rationalized it may refer to prematurely trying to gain control of the family property through some form of pressure and in the process reducing the parents’ possessions and standing in the community. The culprit could claim what he does is not wrong because the estate would be his anyway.
90 sn The metaphor of “companion” here means that a person who would do this is just like the criminally destructive person. It is as if they were working together, for the results are the same.
91 tn Heb “man who destroys” (so NASB); TEV “no better than a common thief.”
92 tn Heb “a man.” Here “man” is retained in the translation because the second colon mentions prostitutes.
93 tn Or “causes his father to rejoice”; NAB “makes his father glad.”
94 tn The active participle רֹעֶה (ro’eh) is from the second root רָעָה (ra’ah), meaning “to associate with.” The verb occurs only a few times, and mostly in the book of Proverbs. It is related to רֵעֶה (re’eh, “friend; companion; fellow”). To describe someone as a “companion” or “friend” of prostitutes is somewhat euphemistic; it surely means someone who is frequently engaging the services of prostitutes.
95 tn The Hebrew verb יְאַבֶּד (yÿ’abbed) means “destroys”; it is the Piel imperfect of the verb that means “to perish.”
96 sn Wealth was seen as a sign of success and of God’s blessings, pretty much as it always has been. To be seen as honorable in the community meant one had acquired some substance and kept his reputation. It would be a disgrace to the family to have a son who squandered his money on prostitutes (e.g., Prov 5:10; 6:31).
97 sn The “eye” as the organ that exhibits the inner feelings most clearly, here represents a look of scorn or disdain that speaks volumes (a metonymy of cause or of adjunct). It is comparable to the “evil eye” which is stinginess (28:22).
98 tn The Hebrew word לִיקֲּהַת (liqqahat, “obeying”) occurs only here and in Gen 49:10; it seems to mean “to receive” in the sense of “receiving instruction” or “obeying.” C. H. Toy suggests emending to “to old age” (לְזִקְנַת, lÿziqnat) of the mother (Proverbs [ICC], 530). The LXX with γῆρας (ghra", “old age”) suggests that a root lhq had something to do with “white hair.” D. W. Thomas suggests a corruption from lhyqt to lyqht; it would have read, “The eye that mocks a father and despises an aged mother” (“A Note on לִיקֲּהַת in Proverbs 30:17,” JTS 42 : 154-55); this is followed by NAB “or scorns an aged mother.”
99 sn The sternest punishment is for the evil eye. The punishment is talionic – eye for eye. The reference to “the valley” may indicate a place where people are not be given decent burials and the birds of prey pick the corpses clean. It is an image the prophets use in judgment passages.