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Proverbs 21:6

Context

21:6 Making a fortune 1  by a lying tongue is like 2  a vapor driven back and forth; 3 

they seek death. 4 

Proverbs 21:28

Context

21:28 A lying witness 5  will perish, 6 

but the one who reports accurately speaks forever. 7 

1 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.

2 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.

3 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.”

4 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.

5 tn Heb “a witness of lies,” an attributive genitive.

6 tn The Hebrew verb translated “will perish” (יֹאבֵד, yobed) could mean that the false witness will die, either by the hand of God or by the community. But it also could be taken in the sense that the false testimony will be destroyed. This would mean that “false witness” would be a metonymy of cause – what he says will perish (cf. NCV “will be forgotten”).

7 tn Heb “but a man who listens speaks forever.” The first part of it may mean (1) a true witness, one who reports what he actually hears. But it may also refer to (2) someone who listens to the false testimony given by the false witness. The NIV follows the suggestion of a homonym for the Hebrew word with the meaning “will perish/be destroyed”: “will be destroyed forever.” This suggests a synonymous pair of ideas rather than a contrast. Others accept antithetical parallelism. C. H. Toy suggested an idea like “be established” to contrast with “will perish” (Proverbs [ICC], 411). W. McKane suggested it meant the truthful witness “will speak to the end” without being put down (Proverbs [OTL], 556). It is simpler to interpret the words that are here in the sense of a contrast. The idea of speaking forever/to the end would then be hyperbolic.



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