but the way of the wicked leads them astray.
but those who love the rich are many.
and a gossip separates the closest friends. 12
but whoever repeats a matter separates close friends. 15
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
19:4 Wealth adds many friends,
how much more do his friends avoid him –
and do not associate with a wrathful person,
is the one who gives an honest answer.
likewise the sweetness of one’s friend from sincere counsel. 48
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. 49
1 tn The basic meaning of the verb לוּז (luz) is “to turn aside; to depart” (BDB 531 s.v.). The Niphal stem is always used figuratively of moral apostasy from the path of righteousness: (1) “to go astray” (Prov 2:15; 3:32; 14:2) and (2) “crookedness” in action (Isa 30:12; see HALOT 522 s.v. לוז nif; BDB 531 s.v. Niph).
2 tn Heb “abomination of the
3 tn Heb “but with the upright is his intimate counsel.” The phrase “he reveals” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for the sake of smoothness and clarity.
4 tn Heb “his counsel.” The noun סוֹד (sod) can refer to (1) “intimate circle” of friends and confidants, (2) “confidential discussion” among friends and confidants, or “secret counsel” revealed from one confidant to another and kept secret and (3) relationship of “intimacy” with a person (BDB 691 s.v.; HALOT 745 s.v.). God reveals his secret counsel to the heavenly assembly (Job 15:8; Jer 23:18, 22) and his prophets (Amos 3:7). God has brought the angels into his “intimate circle” (Ps 89:8). Likewise, those who fear the
5 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.
6 tn Heb “tree of life” (so KJV, NAB, NIV, NRSV). The noun חַיִּים (khayyim, “life”) is genitive of product. What the righteous produce (“fruit”) is like a tree of life – a long and healthy life as well as a life-giving influence and provision for others.
7 tc The Leningrad Codex mistakenly vocalized ש (sin or shin) as שׂ (sin) instead of שׁ (shin) in the term נְפָשׂוֹת (nefashot) which is vocalized as נְפָשׁוֹת (nefasot, “souls”) in the other medieval Hebrew
8 tc The MT reads חָכָם (khakham, “wise”) and seems to refer to capturing (לָקַח, laqakh; “to lay hold of; to seize; to capture”) people with influential ideas (e.g., 2 Sam 15:6). An alternate textual tradition reads חָמָס (khamas) “violent” (reflected in the LXX and Syriac) and refers to taking away lives: “but the one who takes away lives (= kills people) is violent” (cf. NAB, NRSV, TEV). The textual variant was caused by orthographic confusion of ס (samek) and כ (kaf), and metathesis of מ (mem) between the 2nd and 3rd consonants. If the parallelism is synonymous, the MT reading fits; if the parallelism is antithetical, the alternate tradition fits. See D. C. Snell, “‘Taking Souls’ in Proverbs 11:30,” VT 33 (1083): 362-65.
9 tn The line has several possible translations: (1) The verb יָתֵר (yater) can mean “to spy out; to examine,” which makes a good contrast to “lead astray” in the parallel colon. (2) יָתֵר could be the Hophal of נָתַר (natar, Hiphil “to set free”; Hophal “to be set free”): “the righteous is delivered from harm” [reading mera`ah] (J. A. Emerton, “A Note on Proverbs 12:26,” ZAW 76 : 191-93). (3) Another option is, “the righteous guides his friend aright” (cf. NRSV, NLT).
10 tn Heb “hated.” The verse is just a statement of fact. The verbs “love” and “hate” must be seen in their connotations: The poor are rejected, avoided, shunned – that is, hated; but the rich are sought after, favored, embraced – that is, loved.
11 tn Heb “a man of perverse things”; NAB “an intriguer.” This refers to someone who destroys lives. The parallelism suggests that he is a “slanderer” or “gossip” – one who whispers and murmurs (18:8; 26:20, 22).
12 tn The term אַלּוּף (’aluf) refers to a “friend” or “an intimate associate.” The word has other possible translations, including “tame” or “docile” when used of animals. Rashi, a Jewish scholar who lived
13 tn Heb “covers” (so NASB); NIV “covers over.” How people respond to the faults of others reveals whether or not they have love. The contrast is between one who “covers” (forgives, cf. NCV, NRSV) the fault of a friend and one who repeats news about it. The former promotes love because he cares about the person; the latter divides friends.
14 sn The participle מְבַקֵּשׁ (mÿvaqesh) means “seeks” in the sense of seeking to secure or procure or promote love. There can be no friendship without such understanding and discretion.
15 sn W. G. Plaut notes that harping on the past has destroyed many friendships and marriages (Proverbs, 188). W. McKane observes that this line refers to the person who breaks up friendships by his scandalous gossip, even if it is done with a kind of zeal for the welfare of the community, for it will destroy love and trust (Proverbs [OTL], 508-9).
16 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).
17 tn Heb “a brother.”
18 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.
19 tn Heb “brother,” but this is not limited to actual siblings (cf. NRSV “an ally”; CEV, NLT “friend”).
20 tn The Niphal participle from פָּשַׁע (pasha’) modifies “brother”: a brother transgressed, offended, sinned against.
21 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.
22 tn Heb “bars,” but this could be understood to mean “taverns,” so “barred gates” is employed in the translation.
23 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.
24 tc The construction is “a man of friends” (cf. NASB) meaning a man who has friends (a genitive of the thing possessed). C. H. Toy, however, suggests reading יֵשׁ (yesh) instead of אִישׁ (’ish), along with some of the Greek
25 tn The text simply has לְהִתְרֹעֵעַ (lÿhitro’ea’), which means “for being crushed” or “to be shattered” (but not “to show oneself friendly” as in the KJV). What can be made of the sentence is that “a man who has [many] friends [may have them] for being crushed” – the infinitive giving the result (i.e., “with the result that he may be crushed by them”).
26 tn The Niphal imperfect probably should be taken in the passive sense (the poor person is deserted by his “friend,” cf. NAB, NIV) rather than as a direct middle (the poor person deserted his friend).
27 sn This proverb simply makes an observation on life: People pursue wealthy folk hoping that they can gain something from the rich, but the poor are deserted even by friends, who fear that the poor will try to gain something from them.
28 tn The verb יְחַלּוּ (yÿkhalu) is a Piel imperfect of חָלָה (khalah) meaning “to seek favor; to entreat favor; to mollify; to appease”; cf. NIV “curry favor.” It literally means “making the face of someone sweet or pleasant,” as in stroking the face. To “entreat the favor” of someone is to induce him to show favor; the action aims at receiving gifts, benefits, or any other kind of success.
sn The Hebrew verb translated “entreat the favor” is often used to express prayer when God is the one whose favor is being sought; here it is the prince who can grant requests.
29 tn Heb “the face of a generous man”; ASV “the liberal man.” The term “face” is a synecdoche of part (= face) for the whole (= person).
30 sn The proverb acknowledges the fact of life; but it also reminds people of the value of gifts in life, especially in business or in politics.
31 tn Heb “a man of gifts.” This could be (1) attributive genitive: a man characterized by giving gifts or (2) objective genitive: a man who gives gifts (IBHS 146 §9.5.2b).
32 tn Heb “brothers,” but not limited only to male siblings in this context.
33 tn Heb “hate him.” The verb שָׂנֵא (sane’) may be nuanced “reject” here (metonymy of effect, cf. CEV). The kind of “dislike” or “hatred” family members show to a poor relative is to have nothing to do with him (NIV “is shunned”). If relatives do this, how much more will the poor person’s friends do so.
34 tn The direct object “them” does not appear in the Hebrew but is supplied in the translation for the sake of smoothness.
35 tn Heb “not they.” The last line of the verse is problematic. The preceding two lines are loosely synonymous in their parallelism, but the third adds something like: “he pursues [them with] words, but they [do] not [respond].” Some simply say it is a corrupt remnant of a separate proverb and beyond restoration. The basic idea does make sense, though. The idea of his family and friends rejecting the poor person reveals how superficial they are, and how they make themselves scarce. Since they are far off, he has to look for them “with words” (adverbial accusative), that is, “send word” for help. But they “are nowhere to be found” (so NIV). The LXX reads “will not be delivered” in place of “not they” – clearly an attempt to make sense out of the cryptic phrase, and, in the process, showing evidence for that text.
36 tn Heb “many a man calls/proclaims a man of his loyal love.” The Syriac and Tg. Prov 20:6 render the verb as passive: “many are called kind.” Other suggestions include: “most men meet people who will do them occasional kindnesses” (RSV); “many men profess friendship” (C. H. Toy, Proverbs [ICC], 384); “many men invite only the one who has shown them kindness.” The simplest interpretation in this context is “many proclaim [themselves to be] a kind person (= a loyal friend).” The contrast is between many who claim to be loyal friends and the one who actually proves to be faithful.
37 tn The shift to the expression “a man of faithfulness[es]” in the second line indicates that of all those who claim to show faithful love, it is rare to find one who is truly reliable (as the word אֱמוּנִים [’emunim] indicates clearly); cf. NAB, NRSV “one worthy of trust.”
38 sn The point of the rhetorical question is that a truly faithful friend is very difficult to find.
39 sn The “heart” is a metonymy of subject; it represents the intentions and choices that are made. “Pure of heart” uses “heart” as a genitive of specification. The expression refers to someone who has honest and clear intentions.
40 tn Heb “grace of his lips” (so KJV, ASV). The “lips” are a metonymy of cause representing what is said; it also functions as a genitive of specification.
sn This individual is gracious or kind in what he says; thus the verse is commending honest intentions and gracious words.
41 tn The syntax of the line is somewhat difficult, because “grace of his lips” seems to be intruding on the point of the verse with little explanation. Therefore the LXX rendered it “The Lord loves the pure in heart; all who are blameless in their ways are acceptable to him.” This has very little correspondence with the Hebrew; nevertheless commentators attempt to reconstruct the verse using it, and the NAB follows the first clause of the LXX here. Some have suggested taking “king” as the subject of the whole verse (“the king loves…”), but this is forced.
42 tn Heb “possessor of anger.” This expression is an idiom for “wrathful person” or “an angry person” (cf. NAB “a hotheaded man”; NLT “short-tempered people”). These are people characterized by anger, meaning the anger is not a rare occurrence with them.
43 tn Heb “the one who returns right words kisses the lips.” This is an implied comparison for giving an honest answer. Honesty is like a kiss. The kiss would signify love, devotion, sincerity, and commitment (in that culture) – an outward expression of what is in the heart. It is an apt illustration of telling the truth. Some English versions now replace the figure to avoid cultural misunderstanding (cf. TEV, CEV “a sign of true friendship”; NLT “an honor”).
44 tn The Niphal participle of אָמַן (’aman) means “faithful; reliable; sure; trustworthy.” The word indicates that the wounds from a friend “can be trusted” (so NIV, NCV) because they are meant to correct and not to destroy (e.g., 25:12; Deut 7:9; Job 12:20).
45 sn “Kisses” probably represents a metonymy of adjunct; the term describes any expressions or indications of affection. But coming from an enemy, they will be insincere – as indicated by their excessive number.
46 tn The form is נַעְתָּרוֹת (na’tarot), the Niphal participle of עָתַר (’atar, “to be abundant”). Contemporary translations render this rare form in a number of different ways: “deceitful” (NASB, NKJV); “profuse” (NRSV); “many” (NLT). But the idea of “excessive” or “numerous” fits very well. The kisses of an enemy cannot be trusted, no matter how often they are presented.
47 sn The first line of the proverb provides the emblem to the parallel point. The emblem is the joy that anointing oil (ointment) and incense bring, and the point is the value of the advice of a friend.
48 tn Some think the MT is unintelligible as it stands: “The sweetness of his friend from the counsel of the soul.” The Latin version has “the soul is sweetened by the good counsels of a friend.” D. W. Thomas suggests, “counsels of a friend make sweet the soul” (“Notes on Some Passages in the Book of Proverbs,” VT 15 : 275). G. R. Driver suggests, “the counsel of a friend is sweeter than one’s own advice” (literally, “more than the counsel of the soul”). He also suggests “more than of fragrant wood.” See G. R. Driver, “Hebrew Notes,” ZAW 52 (1934): 54; idem, “Suggestions and Objections,” ZAW 55 (1937): 69-70. The LXX reads “and the soul is rent by misfortunes.” The MT, for want of better or more convincing readings, may be interpreted to mean something like “[Just as] ointment and incense brings joy to the heart, [so] the sweetness of one’s friend [comes] from his sincere counsel.”
49 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.
50 tn The term “as” is not in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation to clarify the comparison.
51 tn BDB classifies the verb in the first colon as a Qal apocopated jussive of I חָדָה (khadah, “to grow sharp”; BDB 292 s.v.), and the verb in the second half of the verse (יַחַד, yakhad) as a Hiphil apocopated jussive. The difference would be: “let iron by means of iron grow sharp, and let a man sharpen the countenance of his friend.” But it makes more sense to take them both as Hiphil forms, the first being in pause. Other suggestions have been put forward for the meaning of the word, but the verb “sharpens” fits the context the best, and is followed by most English versions. The verb may be a shortened form of the imperfect rather than a jussive.
52 tn Heb “and a man,” although the context does not indicate this should be limited to males only.
53 tn Heb “sharpens the face of his friend.” The use of the word “face” (cf. KJV, ASV “countenance”) would here emphasize that it is the personality or character that is being sharpened. Constructive criticism sharpens character. Use of the wits in interaction that makes two people sharp as a razor (W. McKane, Proverbs [OTL], 615); another example, from the Talmud, is that of two students sharpening each other in the study of the Torah (b. Ta’anit 7a).
54 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.
55 tn Heb “son,” but the immediate context does not suggest limiting this only to male children.
56 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.
57 tn Heb “father,” but the immediate context does not suggest limiting this only to the male parent.
58 tn Heb “a man,” but the context here does not suggest that the proverb refers to males only.
59 tn The form is the Hiphil participle, literally “deals smoothly,” i.e., smoothing over things that should be brought to one’s attention.
sn The flatterer is too smooth; his words are intended to gratify. In this proverb some malice is attached to the flattery, for the words prove to be destructive.
60 sn The image of “spreading a net” for someone’s steps is an implied comparison (a figure of speech known as hypocatastasis): As one would literally spread a net, this individual’s flattery will come back to destroy him. A net would be spread to catch the prey, and so the idea is one of being caught and destroyed.
61 tn There is some ambiguity concerning the referent of “his steps.” The net could be spread for the one flattered (cf. NRSV, “a net for the neighbor’s feet”; NLT, “their feet,” referring to others), or for the flatterer himself (cf. TEV “you set a trap for yourself”). The latter idea would make the verse more powerful: In flattering someone the flatterer is getting himself into a trap (e.g., 2:16; 7:5; 26:28; 28:23).