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Proverbs 23:10-11

Context

23:10 Do not move an ancient boundary stone,

or take over 1  the fields of the fatherless,

23:11 for their Protector 2  is strong;

he will plead their case against you. 3 

1 tn Or “encroach on” (NIV, NRSV); Heb “go into.”

2 tn The participle גֹּאֵל (goel) describes a “kinsman redeemer.” Some English versions explicitly cite “God” (e.g., NCV, CEV) or “the Lord” (e.g. TEV).

sn The Hebrew term describes a “kinsman-redeemer.” That individual would be a rich or powerful relative who can protect the family; he does this by paying off the debts of a poor relative, buying up the property of a relative who sells himself into slavery, marrying the widow of a deceased relative to keep the inheritance in the family, or taking vengeance on someone who harms a relative, that vengeance often resulting in delivering (“redeeming”) the relative from bondage. If there was no human “kinsman redeemer,” then the defenseless had to rely on God to perform these actions (e.g., Gen 48:16; Exod 6:6; Job 19:25; Isa 41–63). In the prophetic literature God is presented as the Redeemer in that he takes vengeance on the enemies (the Babylonians) to deliverer his people (kin). In this proverb the Lord is probably the Protector of these people who will champion their cause and set things right.

3 sn This is the tenth saying; once again there is a warning not to encroach on other people’s rights and property, especially the defenseless (see v. 10; 22:22-23, 28).



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