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Proverbs 10:19-21

Context

10:19 When words abound, transgression is inevitable, 1 

but the one who restrains 2  his words 3  is wise.

10:20 What the righteous say 4  is like 5  the best 6  silver,

but what the wicked think 7  is of little value. 8 

10:21 The teaching 9  of the righteous feeds 10  many,

but fools die 11  for lack of wisdom. 12 

1 tn Heb “does not cease.” It is impossible to avoid sinning in an abundance of words – sooner or later one is bound to say something wrong.

2 tn Or “holds his lips under control.” The verb חָשַׂךְ (khasakh) means “to withhold; to restrain; to hold in check” (BDB 362 s.v.). The related Arabic term is used in reference to placing a piece of wood in the mouth of a goat to prevent it from sucking (HALOT 359 s.v. חשׂךְ).

3 tn Heb “his lips” (so KJV, NAB, NASB); NIV “his tongue.” The term “lips” is a metonymy of cause for speech.

4 tn Heb “the lips of the righteous.” The term “lips” functions as a metonymy of cause for speech. This contrasts the tongue (metonymy of cause for what they say) with the heart (metonymy of subject for what they intend). What the righteous say is more valuable than what the wicked intend.

5 tn The comparative “like” is not in the Hebrew text but is implied by the metaphor; it is supplied in the translation for the sake of clarity.

6 tn Or “pure”; Heb “choice.”

7 tn Heb “the heart of the wicked” (so KJV, NAB, NIV). The term “heart” functions as a metonymy of cause for thoughts. The term לֵב (lev, “heart”) often refers to the seat of thoughts, will and emotions (BDB 524 s.v. 3-4).

8 tn Heb “like little.” This expression refers to what has little value: “little worth” (so KJV, NAB, NRSV; cf. BDB 590 s.v. מְעַט 2.d). The point of the metaphor is clarified by the parallelism: Silver is valuable; the heart of the wicked is worth little. Tg. Prov 10:20 says it was full of dross, a contrast with choice silver.

9 tn Heb “lips.” The term “lips” functions as a metonymy of cause for what is said (or in this case taught).

10 tn The verb רָעָה (raah) means “to feed” or “to shepherd” (e.g., Gen 48:15). What they say will meet the needs of many.

11 tn In what sense the fool “dies” is unclear. Fools ruin their lives and the lives of others by their lack of discipline and knowledge. The contrast is between enhancing life and ruining life.

12 tn Heb “heart.” The term לֵב (lev, “heart”) functions as a metonymy of association for wisdom and knowledge (BDB 524 s.v. 3.a).



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