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Proverbs 22:1-2

Context

22:1 A good name 1  is to be chosen 2  rather than great wealth,

good favor 3  more than silver or gold.

22:2 The rich and the poor meet together; 4 

the Lord is the creator of them both. 5 

Proverbs 22:7

Context

22:7 The rich rule over 6  the poor,

and the borrower is servant 7  to the lender.

Proverbs 22:9

Context

22:9 A generous person 8  will be blessed, 9 

for he gives some of his food 10  to the poor.

Proverbs 22:16

Context

22:16 The one who oppresses the poor to increase his own gain

and the one who gives to the rich 11  – both end up only in poverty.

Proverbs 22:26-27

Context

22:26 Do not be one who strikes hands in pledge

or who puts up security for debts.

22:27 If you do not have enough to pay,

your bed 12  will be taken 13  right out from under you! 14 

1 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).

2 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.”

3 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.

4 tn The form of the verb is the Niphal perfect of פָּגַשׁ (pagash); it means “to meet together [or, each other]” (cf. KJV, ASV). The point is that rich and poor live side by side in this life, but they are both part of God’s creation (cf. NAB, NASB “have a common bond”). Some commentators have taken this to mean that they should live together because they are part of God’s creation; but the verb form will not sustain that meaning.

5 tn Heb “all.” The Lord is sovereign over both groups, that is, he has had the final say whether a person is rich or poor. People would do well to treat all people with respect, for God can as easily reduce the rich to poverty as raise up the poor to wealth.

6 sn The proverb is making an observation on life. The synonymous parallelism matches “rule over” with “servant” to show how poverty makes people dependent on, or obligated to, others.

7 tn Or “slave” (so NAB, NASB, NRSV, TEV, CEV). This may refer to the practice in Israel of people selling themselves into slavery to pay off debts (Exod 21:2-7).

8 tn Heb “good of eye.” This expression is an attributed genitive meaning “bountiful of eye” (cf. KJV, ASV “He that hath a bountiful eye”). This is the opposite of the “evil eye” which is covetous and wicked. The “eye” is a metonymy representing looking well to people’s needs. So this refers to the generous person (cf. NASB, NIV, NRSV, NLT).

9 tn The form יְבֹרָךְ (yÿvorakh) is a Pual imperfect (here in pause) from בָּרַךְ (barakh); the word means “blessed” in the sense of “enriched,” implying there is a practical reward for being generous to the poor.

10 sn It is from his own food that he gives to the poor. Of the many observations that could be made, it is worth noting that in blessing this kind of person God is in fact providing for the poor, because out of his blessing he will surely continue to share more.

11 tn Heb “oppressing the poor, it is gain; giving to the rich, it is loss.” The Hebrew is cryptic, but two sins are mentioned here that will be punished by poverty: extortion and bribery. Perhaps the proverb is simply saying it is easy to oppress the poor for gain, but it is a waste of money to try to buy or bribe a patron (D. Kidner, Proverbs [TOTC], 149).

12 tn The “bed” may be a metonymy of adjunct, meaning the garment that covers the bed (e.g., Exod 22:26). At any rate, it represents the individual’s last possession (like the English expression “the shirt off his back”).

13 tn Heb “If you cannot pay, why should he take the bed from under you?” This rhetorical question is used to affirm the statement. The rhetorical interrogative לָמָּה (lamah, “why?”) appears in MT but not in the ancient versions; it may be in the Hebrew text by dittography.

14 sn The third saying deals with rash vows: If people foolishly pledge what they have, they could lose everything (e.g., 6:1-5; 11:15; 17:18; 20:16; there is no Egyptian parallel).



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