6:9 How long, you sluggard, will you lie there?
When will you rise from your sleep? 1
so is the sluggard to those 3 who send him.
and he will not even bring it back to his mouth! 8
for his hands 15 refuse to work.
but the righteous gives and does not hold back. 17
I will be killed in the middle of the streets!” 19
24:30 I passed by the field of a sluggard,
by the vineyard of one who lacks wisdom. 20
the ground 22 was covered with weeds,
and its stone wall was broken down.
I received instruction from what I saw: 24
24:33 “A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to relax,
24:34 and your poverty will come like a bandit,
and your need like an armed robber.” 25
A lion in the streets!” 27
so a sluggard turns 30 on his bed.
he is too lazy to bring it back to his mouth. 32
than seven people who respond with good sense. 34
1 sn The use of the two rhetorical questions is designed to rebuke the lazy person in a forceful manner. The sluggard is spending too much time sleeping.
2 sn Two similes are used to portray the aggravation in sending a lazy person to accomplish a task. Vinegar to the teeth is an unpleasant, irritating experience; and smoke to the eyes is an unpleasant experience that hinders progress.
3 tn The participle is plural, and so probably should be taken in a distributive sense: “to each one who sends him.”
4 tn Heb “like an overgrowth”; NRSV “overgrown with thorns”; cf. CEV “like walking in a thorn patch.” The point of the simile is that the path of life taken by the lazy person has many obstacles that are painful – it is like trying to break through a hedge of thorns. The LXX has “strewn with thorns.”
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 sn The contrast to the “thorny way” is the highway, the Hebrew word signifying a well built-up road (סָלַל, salal, “to heap up”). The upright have no reason to swerve, duck, or detour, but may expect “clear sailing.” Other passages pair these two concepts, e.g., Prov 6:10; 10:26; 28:19.
7 tn Heb “buries” (so many English versions); KJV “hideth”; NAB “loses.”
8 sn This humorous portrayal is an exaggeration; but the point is that laziness can overcome hunger. It would have a wider application for anyone who would start a project and then lack the interest or energy to finish it (R. N. Whybray, Proverbs [CBC], 111). Ibn Ezra proposes that the dish was empty, because the sluggard was too lazy to provide for himself.
9 sn The act of plowing is put for the whole process of planting a crop.
10 tn Heb “in the autumn”; ASV “by reason of the winter.” The noun means “autumn, harvest time.” The right time for planting was after the harvest and the rainy season of autumn and winter began.
11 tn The Piel of the verb שָׁאַל (sha’al, “to ask”) means “to beg” or “to inquire carefully.” At the harvest time he looks for produce but there is none. The Piel might suggest, however, that because he did not plant, or did not do it at the right time, he is reduced to begging and will have nothing (cf. KJV, ASV; NASB “he begs during the harvest”).
12 tn The phrase “for the crop” does not appear in the Hebrew but is implied; it is supplied in the translation for the sake of clarity.
13 tn Heb “the desire of the sluggard” (so ASV, NASB). This phrase features a subject genitive: “what the sluggard desires.” The term תַּאֲוַת (ta’avat, “desire; craving”) is a metonymy of cause. The craving itself will not destroy the sluggard, but what will destroy him is what the craving causes him to do or not to do. The lazy come to ruin because they desire the easy way out.
14 tn The verb תְּמִיתֶנּוּ (tÿmitennu) is the Hiphil imperfect with a suffix: “will kill him.” It is probably used hyperbolically here for coming to ruin (cf. NLT), although it could include physical death.
15 sn “Hands” is figurative for the whole person; but “hands” is retained in the translation because it is often the symbol to express one’s ability of action.
16 tn The construction uses the Hitpael perfect tense הִתְאַוָּה (hit’avvah) followed by the cognate accusative תַאֲוָה (ta’avah). It describes one who is consumed with craving for more. The verse has been placed with the preceding because of the literary connection with “desire/craving.”
17 sn The additional clause, “and does not hold back,” emphasizes that when the righteous gives he gives freely, without fearing that his generosity will bring him to poverty. This is the contrast with the one who is self-indulgent and craves for more.
18 sn The proverb humorously describes the sluggard as making ridiculous excuses for not working – he might be eaten by a lion (e.g., 26:13). It is possible that “lion” is figurative, intended to represent someone who is like a lion, but this detracts from the humor of the exaggeration.
19 tc The LXX changes the phrase to read “murderers in the street” to form a better parallelism, possibly because the verb רָצַח (ratsakh) is used only of humans, not wild animals. The NIV attempts to solve the problem by making the second line a separate claim by the sluggard: “or, ‘I will be murdered in the streets!’”
20 tn Heb “lacks heart”; KJV “understanding”; NAB, NASB, NLT “sense.”
21 tn The Hebrew term וְהִנֵּה (vÿhinneh, traditionally “and, lo” [KJV, ASV]) is a deictic particle that calls attention to what comes next. “And look” is too abrupt here; “I saw” calls attention to the field that was noticed.
22 tn Heb “its face” (so KJV, ASV).
23 sn Heb “I set my heart.” The “heart” represents the mind and the will combined; to “set” the mind and will means to give careful consideration to what was observed.
24 tn Heb “I looked, I received instruction.” There are four verbs in the two parts of this verse: “I saw…I set…I saw…I received.” It is clear that the first two verbs in each half verse are the foundation for the next two. At the beginning of the verse the form is the preterite with the vav (ו) consecutive; it can be subordinated as a temporal clause to the next verb, probably to be identified as a preterite with the vav – “when I saw, I put.” The next two verbs are both perfect tenses; their construction would parallel the first half of the verse, even though there are no conjunctions here – “[when] I saw, I received.”
sn The teacher makes several observations of the state of the sluggard that reveal that his continued laziness will result in poverty. The reminiscence used here may be a literary device to draw a fictional but characteristically true picture of the lazy person.
25 tn Heb “a man of shield.” This could refer to an armed warrior (so NRSV) but in this context, in collocation with the other word for “robber” in the previous line, it must refer to an armed criminal.
27 tn Heb “in the broad plazas”; NAB, NASB “in the square.” This proverb makes the same point as 22:13, namely, that the sluggard uses absurd excuses to get out of work. D. Kidner notes that in this situation the sluggard has probably convinced himself that he is a realist and not a lazy person (Proverbs [TOTC], 163).
28 tn The comparative “like” is not in the Hebrew text, but is supplied from context in the translation.
29 sn The sluggard is too lazy to get out of bed – although he would probably rationalize this by saying that he is not at his best in the morning. The humor of the verse is based on an analogy with a door – it moves back and forth on its hinges but goes nowhere. Like the door to the wall, the sluggard is “hinged” to his bed (e.g., Prov 6:9-10; 24:33).
30 tn The term “turns” is not in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation from the parallelism.
31 tn Heb “buries” (so many English versions); KJV “hideth”; NAB “loses.”
33 tn Heb “in his eyes.” The lazy person thinks that he has life all figured out and has chosen the wise course of action – but he is simply lazy. J. H. Greenstone says, for example, “Much anti-intellectualism may be traced to such rationalization for laziness” (Proverbs, 269).
34 tn The term means “taste; judgment.” The related verb means “to taste; to perceive,” that is, “to examine by tasting,” or examine by experiencing (e.g., Ps 34:9). Here the idea is expressed with the participle in construct, “those returners [of] good sense,” those who answer tastefully, with discretion. Cf. NIV “who (+ can NRSV) answer discreetly.”