17:8 A bribe works like 1 a charm 2 for the one who offers it; 3
in whatever he does 4 he succeeds. 5
17:23 A wicked person receives a bribe secretly 6
to pervert 7 the ways of justice.
1 tn The phrase “works like” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is implied by the metaphor; it is supplied for the sake of clarity.
2 tn Heb “a stone of favors”; NAB, NRSV “a magic stone.” The term שֹׁחַד (shokhad, “bribe”) could be simply translated as “a gift”; but the second half of the verse says that the one who offers it is successful. At best it could be a gift that opens doors; at worst it is a bribe. The word שֹׁחַד is never used of a disinterested gift, so there is always something of the bribe in it (e.g., Ps 15:5; Isa 1:23). Here it is “a stone that brings favor,” the genitive being the effect or the result of the gift. In other words, it has magical properties and “works like a charm.”
3 tn Heb “in the eyes of its owner.”
4 tn Heb “in all that he turns”; NASB, NIV “wherever he turns.”
5 sn As C. H. Toy points out, the sage is merely affirming a point without making a comment – those who use bribery meet with widespread success (Proverbs [ICC], 341). This does not amount to an endorsement of bribery.
6 sn The fact that the “gift” is given secretly (Heb “from the bosom” [מֵחֵיק, mekheq]; so NASB) indicates that it was not proper. Cf. NRSV “a concealed bribe”; TEV, CEV, NLT “secret bribes.”
7 tn The form לְהַטּוֹת (lÿhattot) is the Hiphil infinitive construct of נָטָה (natah), meaning “to thrust away,” i.e., to “pervert.” This purpose clause clarifies that the receiving of the “gift” is for evil intent.