62:9 Men are nothing but a mere breath;
human beings are unreliable. 1
When they are weighed in the scales,
all of them together are lighter than air. 2
Do not put false confidence in what you can gain by robbery! 4
If wealth increases, do not become attached to it! 5
1 tn Heb “only a breath [are] the sons of mankind, a lie [are] the sons of man.” The phrases “sons of mankind” and “sons of man” also appear together in Ps 49:2. Because of the parallel line there, where “rich and poor” are mentioned, a number of interpreters and translators treat these expressions as polar opposites, בְּנֵי אָדָם (bÿney ’adam) referring to the lower classes and בְּנֵי אִישׁ (bÿney ’ish) to higher classes. But usage does not support such a view. The rare phrase בְּנֵי אִישׁ (“sons of man”) appears to refer to human beings in general in its other uses (see Pss 4:2; Lam 3:33). It is better to understand the phrases as synonymous expressions.
2 tn The noun הֶבֶל (hevel), translated “a breath” earlier in the verse, appears again here.
3 tn Heb “do not trust in oppression.” Here “oppression” stands by metonymy for the riches that can be gained by oppressive measures, as the final line of the verse indicates.
4 tn Heb “and in robbery do not place vain hope.” Here “robbery” stands by metonymy for the riches that can be gained by theft, as the next line of the verse indicates.
5 tn Heb “[as for] wealth, when it bears fruit, do not set [your] heart [on it].”