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Proverbs 17:3

Context

17:3 The crucible 1  is for refining 2  silver and the furnace 3  is for gold,

likewise 4  the Lord tests 5  hearts.

Proverbs 27:21

Context

27:21 As the crucible is for silver and the furnace is for gold, 6 

so a person 7  is proved 8  by the praise he receives. 9 

1 sn The noun מַצְרֵף (matsref) means “a place or instrument for refining” (cf. ASV, NASB “the refining pot”). The related verb, which means “to melt, refine, smelt,” is used in scripture literally for refining and figuratively for the Lord’s purifying and cleansing and testing people.

2 tn The term “refining” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is implied by the parallelism; it is supplied in the translation for the sake of clarity.

3 sn The term כּוּר (cur) describes a “furnace” or “smelting pot.” It can be used figuratively for the beneficial side of affliction (Isa 48:10).

4 tn Heb “and.” Most English versions treat this as an adversative (“but”).

5 sn The participle בֹּחֵן (bokhen, “tests”) in this emblematic parallelism takes on the connotations of the crucible and the furnace. When the Lord “tests” human hearts, the test, whatever form it takes, is designed to improve the value of the one being tested. Evil and folly will be removed when such testing takes place.

6 sn Once again this proverb uses emblematic parallelism. The crucible and the furnace are used to refine and thus reveal the pure metals. The analogy is that praise will reveal the person because others will examine and evaluate what an individual has done in order to make the public acclamation.

7 tn Heb “and a man,” but the context does not indicate this is limited only to males.

8 tn The verb “is proved” was supplied in the translation in view of the analogy. Many English versions supply “tested” for the same reason.

sn The proverb is saying that public praise is usually a good measure of the qualities and contributions of a person. The other side of it is that righteousness is often denounced, but the proverb is not addressing everything that people say.

9 tn Heb “by [the] praise of him.” The pronominal suffix is an objective genitive, meaning “the praise about him” (= “the praise he receives”). Some commentators would take the suffix as a subjective genitive, meaning “the praise he gives”; this would mean people stand revealed by what they praise (D. Kidner, Proverbs [TOTC], 168). That does not seem to work as well with the emblem of the first line which indicates being tested. The LXX adds a couplet: “The heart of the transgressor seeks evil; but the upright heart seeks knowledge.”



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