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Proverbs 29:18

Context

29:18 When there is no prophetic vision 1  the people cast off restraint, 2 

but the one who keeps the law, 3  blessed is he! 4 

1 tn Heb “no vision.” The Hebrew word “vision” (from the verb חָזָה [khazah, “to see”]) refers to divine communication to prophets (as in 1 Sam 3:1) and not to individual goals or plans. C. H. Toy sees a problem here: The most calamitous period of Israel’s history was when prophetic vision was at its height, whereas people were often more obedient when God was silent. He also notes that in the book of Proverbs there is no mention of prophetic teaching with wisdom as a guide. So he emends the word to “guidance” following the LXX (Proverbs [ICC], 512). The TEV has “guidance”; the NIV retains “revelation.” It must be stated that the prophetic ministry was usually in response to the calamitous periods, calling the people back to God. Without them the downward rush to anarchy and destruction would have been faster than with these prophetic calls from God.

2 tn The verb פָּרַע (para’) means “to let go; to let alone.” It occurs here in the Niphal with the meaning of “[the people] are let loose,” meaning, they cast off restraint (e.g., Exod 32:25). Cf. NLT “run wild.”

3 sn The law here refers to scripture, the concrete form of revelation. So the two halves of the verse provide the contrast: When there is no prophetic revelation there is chaos, but those who keep the revelation contained in scripture find blessing.

4 tn There is a tendency among commentators and English versions to translate אַשְׁרֵהוּ (’ashrehu) as “happy is he!” (cf. KJV, ASV, NAB, NASB, TEV, NLT). But “happy” can be a misleading translation. The Hebrew word refers to a heavenly bliss, an inner joy, that comes from knowing one is right with God and experiencing his blessing. “Happiness,” on the other hand, depends on what happens.



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