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Proverbs 19:1

Context

19:1 Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity 1 

than one who is perverse in his speech 2  and is a fool. 3 

Proverbs 19:22

Context

19:22 What is desirable 4  for a person is to show loyal love, 5 

and a poor person is better than a liar. 6 

1 sn People should follow honesty even if it leads to poverty (e.g., Prov 18:23; 19:22).

2 tn Heb “lips.” The term “lips” is a metonymy for what one says with his lips. The expression “perverse in his lips” refers to speech that is morally perverted. Some medieval Hebrew mss, the Syriac, and Tg. Prov 19:1 have “his ways” rather than “his lips” (e.g., Prov 28:6); cf. NAB.

3 tc The Syriac and Tg. Prov 19:1 read “rich” instead of MT “fool.” This makes tighter antithetical parallelism than MT and is followed by NAB. However, the MT makes sense as it stands; this is an example of metonymical parallelism. The MT reading is also supported by the LXX. The Hebrew construction uses וְהוּא (vÿhu’), “and he [is],” before “fool.” This may be rendered “one who is perverse while a fool” or “a fool at the same time.”

4 tn Heb “the desire of a man” (so KJV). The noun in construct is תַּאֲוַת (taavat), “desire [of].” Here it refers to “the desire of a man [= person].” Two problems surface here, the connotation of the word and the kind of genitive. “Desire” can also be translated “lust,” and so J. H. Greenstone has “The lust of a man is his shame” (Proverbs, 208). But the sentence is more likely positive in view of the more common uses of the words. “Man” could be a genitive of possession or subjective genitive – the man desires loyal love. It could also be an objective genitive, meaning “what is desired for a man.” The first would be the more natural in the proverb, which is showing that loyal love is better than wealth.

5 tn Heb “[is] his loyal love”; NIV “unfailing love”; NRSV “loyalty.”

6 sn The second half of the proverb presents the logical inference: The liar would be without “loyal love” entirely, and so poverty would be better than this. A poor person who wishes to do better is preferable to a person who makes promises and does not keep them.



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