but the one who rejects 3 rebuke goes astray.
but the one who hates reproof is stupid. 5
but a scoffer 8 does not listen to rebuke.
but the one who accepts reproof is honored. 11
15:5 A fool rejects his father’s discipline,
but whoever heeds reproof shows good sense. 18
the one who hates reproof 20 will die.
and before honor comes humility. 29
than a hundred blows on a fool. 31
correct a discerning person, and as a result he will understand knowledge. 38
but the rod of discipline 41 will drive it far from him.
23:13 Do not withhold discipline from a child;
even if you strike him with the rod, he will not die.
1 tn Heb “discipline.” The noun מוּסָר (musar) has a basic two-fold range of meanings: (1) “discipline” (so NIV; NAB “admonition”; NCV, NLT “correction”) and (2) “instruction” (BDB 416 s.v.; so KJV, NASB, NRSV). The wise person listens to instruction (first colon); however, the fool will not even take discipline to heart (second colon).
2 tn The term is a genitive of location indicating the goal (IBHS 147-48 §9.5.2f).
3 sn The contrast with the one who holds fast to discipline is the one who forsakes or abandons reproof or correction. Whereas the first is an example, this latter individual causes people to wander from the true course of life, that is, causes them to err.
4 sn Those who wish to improve themselves must learn to accept correction; the fool hates/rejects any correction.
5 sn The word בָּעַר (ba’ar, “brutish; stupid”) normally describes dumb animals that lack intellectual sense. Here, it describes the moral fool who is not willing to learn from correction. He is like a dumb animal (so the term here functions as a hypocatastasis: implied comparison).
6 tn The term “accepts” does not appear in the Hebrew but is supplied in the translation for the sake of smoothness and clarity.
7 tc G. R. Driver suggested reading this word as מְיֻסַּר (mÿyussar, “allows himself to be disciplined”); see his “Hebrew Notes on Prophets and Proverbs,” JTS 41 (1940): 174. But this is not necessary at all; the MT makes good sense as it stands. Similarly, the LXX has “a wise son listens to his father.”
tn Heb “discipline of a father.”
8 sn The “scoffer” is the worst kind of fool. He has no respect for authority, reviles worship of God, and is unteachable because he thinks he knows it all. The change to a stronger word in the second colon – “rebuke” (גָּעַר, ga’ar) – shows that he does not respond to instruction on any level. Cf. NLT “a young mocker,” taking this to refer to the opposite of the “wise son” in the first colon.
9 tn The verb III פָּרַע (para’) normally means “to let go; to let alone” and here “to neglect; to avoid; to reject” (BDB 828 s.v.).
10 tn The phrase “ends up in” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is implied by the parallelism; it is supplied in the translation for the sake of smoothness.
11 sn Honor and success are contrasted with poverty and shame; the key to enjoying the one and escaping the other is discipline and correction. W. McKane, Proverbs (OTL), 456, notes that it is a difference between a man of weight (power and wealth, from the idea of “heavy” for “honor”) and the man of straw (lowly esteemed and poor).
12 sn R. N. Whybray cites an Egyptian proverb that says that “boys have their ears on their backsides; they listen when they are beaten” (Proverbs [CBC], 80). Cf. Prov 4:3-4, 10-11; Eph 6:4; Heb 12:5-11.
13 sn The importance of parental disciplining is stressed by the verbs “hate” and “love.” “Hating” a child in this sense means in essence abandoning or rejecting him; “loving” a child means embracing and caring for him. Failure to discipline a child is tantamount to hating him – not caring about his character.
14 tn Heb “his son.”
15 tn Heb “him”; the referent (his child) is specified in the translation for clarity.
16 tn Heb “seeks him.” The verb שָׁחַר (shahar, “to be diligent; to do something early”; BDB 1007 s.v.) could mean “to be diligent to discipline,” or “to be early or prompt in disciplining.” See G. R. Driver, “Hebrew Notes on Prophets and Proverbs,” JTS 41 (1940): 170.
17 tn The noun מוּסָר (musar, “discipline”) functions as an adverbial accusative of reference: “he is diligent in reference to discipline.”
18 tn Heb “is prudent” (so KJV, NASB, NRSV); NCV, NLT “is wise.” Anyone who accepts correction or rebuke will become prudent in life.
19 tn The two lines are parallel synonymously, so the “severe discipline” of the first colon is parallel to “will die” of the second. The expression מוּסָר רָע (musar ra’, “severe discipline”) indicates a discipline that is catastrophic or harmful to life.
20 sn If this line and the previous line are synonymous, then the one who abandons the way also refuses any correction, and so there is severe punishment. To abandon the way means to leave the life of righteousness which is the repeated subject of the book of Proverbs.
21 tn Heb “ear” (so KJV, NRSV). The term “ear” is a synecdoche of part (= ear) for the whole (= person).
22 tn “Life” is an objective genitive: Reproof brings or preserves life. Cf. NIV “life-giving rebuke”; NLT “constructive criticism.”
23 tn Heb “lodges.” This means to live with, to be at home with.
24 sn The proverb is one full sentence; it affirms that a teachable person is among the wise.
25 sn To “despise oneself” means to reject oneself as if there was little value. The one who ignores discipline is not interested in improving himself.
26 tn Or “heeds” (so NAB, NIV); NASB “listens to.”
27 tn The Hebrew text reads קוֹנֶה לֵּב (qoneh lev), the participle of קָנָה (qanah, “to acquire; to possess”) with its object, “heart.” The word “heart” is frequently a metonymy of subject, meaning all the capacities of the human spirit and/or mind. Here it refers to the ability to make judgments or discernment.
28 tn Heb “[is] instruction of wisdom” (KJV and NASB similar). The noun translated “wisdom” is an attributive genitive: “wise instruction.”
sn The idea of the first line is similar to Prov 1:7 and 9:10. Here it may mean that the fear of the
29 tn Heb “[is] humility” (so KJV). The second clause is a parallel idea in that it stresses how one thing leads to another – humility to honor. Humble submission in faith to the
30 tn Heb “goes in deeper” (cf. NASB, NRSV). The verb נָחֵת (nakhet) “to go down; to descend” with the preposition בְּ (bet) means “to descend into; to make an impression on” someone.
31 tn The form is the Hiphil infinitive of נָכָה (nakhah) with the comparative מִן, min. The word “fool” then would be an objective genitive – more than blows to/on a fool.
32 tn The translation understands כִּי (ki) as causal. Some prefer to take כִּי as temporal and translate, “while there is hope” (so KJV, NASB, NCV, NRSV, NLT), meaning that discipline should be administered when the child is young and easily guided. In the causal reading of כִּי, the idea seems to be that children should be disciplined because change is possible due to their youth and the fact that they are not set in their ways.
33 tn The expression “do not lift up your soul/life” to his death may mean (1) “do not set your heart” on his death (cf. ASV, NAB, NASB, NRSV), or it may mean (2) “do not be a willing partner” (cf. NIV). The parent is to discipline a child, but he is not to take it to the extreme and destroy or kill the child.
34 tn The Hiphil infinitive construct הֲמִיתוֹ (hamito) means “taking it to heart” in this line. The traditional rendering was “and let not your soul spare for his crying.” This involved a different reading than “causing his death” (J. H. Greenstone, Proverbs, 206-7).
35 tn The Hiphil imperfect תַּכֶּה (takeh) is followed by another imperfect. It could be rendered: “strike a scorner [imperfect of instruction] and a simpleton will become prudent.” But the first of the parallel verbs can also be subordinated to the second as a temporal or conditional clause. Some English versions translate “beat” (NAB “if you beat an arrogant man”), but this could be understood to refer to competition rather than physical punishment. Therefore “flog” has been used in the translation, since it is normally associated with punishment or discipline.
36 sn Different people learn differently. There are three types of people in this proverb: the scorner with a closed mind, the simpleton with an empty mind, and the discerning person with an open mind (D. Kidner, Proverbs [TOTC], 135). The simpleton learns by observing a scoffer being punished, even though the punishment will have no effect on the scoffer.
38 tn The second half begins with הוֹכִיחַ (hokhiakh), the Hiphil infinitive construct. This parallels the imperfect tense beginning the first half; it forms a temporal or conditional clause as well, so that the main verb is “he will understand.”
sn The discerning person will learn from verbal rebukes. The contrast is caught in a wordplay in the Midrash: “For the wise a hint [r’mizo], for the fool a fist [kurmezo]” (Mishle 22:6).
39 sn The passive participle is figurative (implied comparison with “binding”); it means that folly forms part of a child’s nature (J. H. Greenstone, Proverbs, 238).
40 tn The “heart of a child” (לֶב־נָעַר, lev-na’ar) refers here to the natural inclination of a child to foolishness. The younger child is meant in this context, but the word can include youth. R. N. Whybray suggests that this idea might be described as a doctrine of “original folly” (Proverbs [CBC], 125). Cf. TEV “Children just naturally do silly, careless things.”
41 tn The word “rod” is a metonymy of adjunct; it represents physical chastening for direction or punishment, to suppress folly and develop potential. The genitive (“discipline”) may be taken as an attributive genitive (“a chastening rod”) or an objective genitive, (“a rod [= punishment] that brings about correction/discipline”).