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Proverbs 1:8-19

Context

1:8 Listen, 1  my child, 2  to the instruction 3  from 4  your father,

and do not forsake the teaching 5  from 6  your mother.

1:9 For they will be like 7  an elegant 8  garland 9  on 10  your head,

and like 11  pendants 12  around 13  your neck.

Admonition to Avoid Easy but Unjust Riches

1:10 My child, if sinners 14  try to entice 15  you,

do not consent! 16 

1:11 If they say, “Come with us!

We will 17  lie in wait 18  to shed blood; 19 

we will ambush 20  an innocent person 21  capriciously. 22 

1:12 We will swallow them alive 23  like Sheol, 24 

those full of vigor 25  like those going down to the Pit.

1:13 We will seize 26  all kinds 27  of precious wealth;

we will fill our houses with plunder. 28 

1:14 Join with us! 29 

We will all share 30  equally in what we steal.” 31 

1:15 My child, do not go down 32  their way, 33 

withhold yourself 34  from their path; 35 

1:16 for they 36  are eager 37  to inflict harm, 38 

and they hasten 39  to shed blood. 40 

1:17 Surely it is futile to spread 41  a net

in plain sight of 42  any bird, 43 

1:18 but these men lie in wait for their own blood, 44 

they ambush their own lives! 45 

1:19 Such 46  are the ways 47  of all who gain profit unjustly; 48 

it 49  takes away the life 50  of those who obtain it! 51 

1 tn The imperative שְׁמַע (shÿma’, “Listen!”) forms an urgent exhortation which expects immediate compliance with parental instruction.

2 tn Heb “my son.” It is likely that collections of proverbs grew up in the royal courts and were designed for the training of the youthful prince. But once the collection was included in the canon, the term “son” would be expanded to mean a disciple, for all the people were to learn wisdom when young. It would not be limited to sons alone but would include daughters – as the expression “the children of (בְּנֵי, bÿne) Israel” (including males and females) clearly shows. Several passages in the Mishnah and Talmud record instructions to teach daughters the Mosaic law so that they will be righteous and avoid sin as well. The translation “my child,” although not entirely satisfactory, will be used here.

3 tn Heb “training” or “discipline.” See note on 1:2.

4 tn Heb “of.” The noun אָבִיךָ (’avikha, “of your father”) may be classified as a genitive of source.

5 tn Heb “instruction.” In Proverbs the noun תּוֹרַה (torah) often means “instruction” or “moral direction” rather than “law” (BDB 435 s.v. 1.a). It is related to יָרָה (yarah, “to point [or, show] the way” in the Hiphil (BDB 435). Instruction attempts to point a person in the right direction (e.g., Gen 46:28).

6 tn Heb “of.” The noun אִמֶּךָ (’immekha, “of your mother”) may be classified as a genitive of source.

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

8 tn Heb “a garland of grace.” The word חֵן (khen, “grace”) refers to qualities that make a person pleasant and agreeable, e.g., a gracious and charming person (BDB 336 s.v.). The metaphor compares the teachings that produce these qualities to an attractive wreath.

9 tn The noun לִוְיַה (livyah, “wreath; garland”) refers to a headdress and appears only twice in the OT (Prov 1:9; 4:9; BDB 531 s.v.; HALOT 524 s.v.).

10 tn Heb “for.”

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

12 tn Cf. KJV, ASV “chains”; NIV “a chain”; but this English term could suggest a prisoner’s chain to the modern reader rather than adornment.

13 tn Heb “for.”

14 tn The term חַטָּא (khatta’) is the common word for “sinner” in the OT. Because the related verb is used once of sling-shot throwers who miss the mark (Judg 20:16), the idea of sin is often explained as “missing the moral mark” (BDB 306-8 s.v.). But the term should not be restricted to the idea of a sin of ignorance or simply falling short of the moral ideal. Its meaning is more likely seen in the related Akkadian term “to revolt, rebel.” It is active rebellion against authority. It is used here in reference to a gang of robbers.

15 tn The imperfect tense verb יְפַתּוּךָ (yÿftukha) may be nuanced in a connotative sense: “(If) they attempt to
persuade you.” The verb פָּתָה (patah) means “to persuade, entice” a person to sin (BDB 834 s.v. פָּתָה 1; see, e.g., Judg 14:15; 16:5; Prov 16:29; Hos 2:16).

16 tc The MT reads the root אָבָה (’avah, “to be willing; to consent”). Some medieval Hebrew mss read the root בּוֹא (bo’, “to go”): “do not go with them.” The majority of Hebrew mss and the versions support the MT reading, which is the less common word and so the more likely original reading.

17 tn This cohortative נֶאֶרְבָה (neervah) could denote resolve (“We will lie in wait!”) or exhortation (“Let us lie in wait!”). These sinners are either expressing their determination to carry out a violent plan or they are trying to entice the lad to participate with them.

18 tn The verb אָרַב (’arav, “to lie in wait”) it is used for planning murder (Deut 19:11), kidnapping (Judg 21:20), or seduction (Prov 23:28).

19 tn Heb “for blood.” The term דָּם (dam, “blood”) functions as a metonymy of effect for “blood shed violently” through murder (HALOT 224 s.v. 4).

20 tn Heb “lie in hiding.”

21 tn The term “innocent” (נָקִי, naqi) intimates that the person to be attacked is harmless.

22 tn Heb “without cause” (so KJV, NASB); NCV “just for fun.” The term חִנָּם (khinnam, “without cause”) emphasizes that the planned attack is completely unwarranted.

23 tn Heb “lives.” The noun חַיִּים (khayyim, “lives”) functions as an adverbial accusative of manner: “alive.” The form is a plural of state, used to describe a condition of life which encompasses a long period of time – in this case a person’s entire life. Murder cuts short a person’s life.

24 tn The noun שְׁאוֹל (shÿol) can mean (1) “death,” cf. NCV; (2) “the grave,” cf. KJV, NIV, NLT (3) “Sheol” as the realm of departed spirits, cf. NAB “the nether world,” and (4) “extreme danger.” Here it is parallel to the noun בוֹר (vor, “the Pit”) so it is the grave or more likely “Sheol” (cf. ASV, NRSV). Elsewhere Sheol is personified as having an insatiable appetite and swallowing people alive as they descend to their death (e.g., Num 16:30, 33; Isa 5:14; Hab 2:5). In ancient Near Eastern literature, the grave is often personified in similar manner, e.g., in Ugaritic mythological texts Mot (= “death”) is referred to as “the great swallower.”

25 tn Heb “and whole.” The vav (ו) is asseverative or appositional (“even”); it is omitted in the translation for the sake of style and smoothness. The substantival adjective תָּמִים (tamim, “whole; perfect; blameless”) is an adverbial accusative describing the condition and state of the object. Used in parallel to חַיִּים (khayyim, “alive”), it must mean “full of health” (BDB 1071 s.v. תָּמִים 2). These cutthroats want to murder a person who is full of vigor.

26 tn Heb “find.” The use of the verb מָצָא (matsa’, “to find”) is deliberate understatement to rhetorically down-play the heinous act of thievery.

27 tn Heb “all wealth of preciousness.”

28 tn The noun שָׁלָל (shalal, “plunder”) functions as an adverbial accusative of material: “with plunder.” This term is normally used for the spoils of war (e.g., Deut 20:14; Josh 7:21; Judg 8:24, 25; 1 Sam 30:20) but here refers to “stolen goods” (so NCV, CEV; e.g., Isa 10:2; Prov 16:19; BDB 1022 s.v. 3). The enticement was to join a criminal gang and adopt a life of crime to enjoy ill-gotten gain (A. Cohen, Proverbs, 4). Cf. NAB, NRSV “booty”; TEV “loot.”

29 tn Heb “Throw in your lot with us.” This is a figurative expression (hypocatastasis) urging the naive to join their life of crime and divide their loot equally. The noun גּוֹרָל (goral, “lot”) can refer to (1) lot thrown for decision-making processes, e.g., choosing the scapegoat (Lev 16:8), discovering a guilty party (Jonah 1:7) or allocating property (Josh 18:6); (2) allotted portion (Josh 15:1) and (3) allotted fate or future destiny (Prov 1:14; Dan 12:13; see BDB 174 s.v.). Here the criminals urged the lad to share their life. The verb תַּפִּיל (tappil) is an imperfect of injunction: “Throw in…!” but might also be an imperfect of permission: “you may throw.” It functions metonymically as an invitation to join their life of crime: “share with us” (BDB 658 s.v. 3).

30 tn Heb “there will be to all of us.”

31 tn Heb “one purse” (so KJV, NAB, NRSV). The term כִּיס (kis, “purse; bag”) is a synecdoche of container (= purse) for contents (= stolen goods). The adjective אֶחָד (’ekhad, “one”) indicates that the thieves promised to share equally in what they had stolen.

32 tn Heb “do not walk.”

33 tn Heb “in the way with them.”

34 tn Heb “your foot.” The term “foot” (רֶגֶל, regel) is a synecdoche of part (= your foot) for the whole person (= yourself).

35 sn The word “path” (נְתִיבָה, nÿtivah) like the word “way” (דֶּרֶךְ, derekh) is used as an idiom (developed from a hypocatastasis), meaning “conduct, course of life.”

36 tn Heb “their feet.” The term “feet” is a synecdoche of the part (= their feet) for the whole person (= they), stressing the eagerness of the robbers.

37 tn Heb “run.” The verb רוּץ (ruts, “run”) functions here as a metonymy of association, meaning “to be eager” to do something (BDB 930 s.v.).

38 tn Heb “to harm.” The noun רַע (ra’) has a four-fold range of meanings: (1) “pain, harm” (Prov 3:30), (2) “calamity, disaster” (13:21), (3) “distress, misery” (14:32) and (4) “moral evil” (8:13; see BDB 948-49 s.v.). The parallelism with “swift to shed blood” suggests it means “to inflict harm, injury.”

39 tn The imperfect tense verbs may be classified as habitual or progressive imperfects describing their ongoing continual activity.

40 tc The BHS editors suggest deleting this entire verse from MT because it does not appear in several versions (Codex B of the LXX, Coptic, Arabic) and is similar to Isa 59:7a. It is possible that it was a scribal gloss (intentional addition) copied into the margin from Isaiah. But this does not adequately explain the differences. It does fit the context well enough to be original.

41 tn Heb “for the net to be spread out.” The Pual participle of זָרָה (zarah) means “to be spread” (HALOT 280 s.v. I זרה pu.1). The subject of this verbal use of the participle is the noun הָרָשֶׁת (harashet, “the net”). It is futile for the net to be spread out in plain view of birds.

42 tn Heb “in the eyes of.”

sn This means either: (1) Spreading a net in view of birds is futile because birds will avoid the trap; but the wicked are so blind that they fail to see danger; or (2) it does not matter if a net is spread because birds are so hungry they will eat anyway and be trapped; the wicked act in a similar way.

43 tn Heb “all of the possessors of wings.”

44 sn They think that they are going to shed innocent blood, but in their blindness they do not realize that it is their own blood they shed. Their greed will lead to their destruction. This is an example of ironic poetic justice. They do not intend to destroy themselves; but this is what they accomplish.

45 tn Heb “their own souls.” The term נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh, “soul”) is used as a metonymy (= soul) of association (= life). The noun נֶפֶשׁ often refers to physical “life” (Exod 21:23; Num 17:3; Judg 5:18; Prov 12:10; BDB 659 s.v. 3.c).

46 tn The exclamation כֵּן (ken, “so; thus; such”) marks a conclusion (BDB 485 s.v.). It draws a comparison between the destruction of the wicked in v. 18 and the concluding statement in v. 19.

47 tc The MT reads אָרְחוֹת (’orkhot, “paths; ways” as figure for mode of life): “so are the ways [or, paths] of all who gain profit unjustly.” The BHS editors suggest emending the text to אַחֲרִית (’akharit, “end” as figure for their fate) by simple metathesis between ח (khet) and ר (resh) and by orthographic confusion between י (yod) and ו (vav), both common scribal errors: “so is the fate of all who gain profit unjustly.” The external evidence supports MT, which is also the more difficult reading. It adequately fits the context which uses “way” and “path” imagery throughout 1:10-19.

48 tn Heb “those who unjustly gain unjust gain.” The participle בֹּצֵעַ (boysea’, “those who unjustly gain”) is followed by the cognate accusative of the same root בָּצַע (batsa’, “unjust gain”) to underscore the idea that they gained their wealth through heinous criminal activity.

sn The verb followed by the cognate noun usually means seeking gain in an unjust way (1 Sam 8:3), or for selfish purposes (Gen 37:26), or gaining by violence. The word may have the sense of covetousness.

49 tn The subject of the verb is the noun בָּצַע (“unjust gain”), which is also the referent of the 3rd person masculine singular suffix on בְּעָלָיו (bÿalav, “its owners”). Greed takes away the life of those who live by greed (e.g., 15:27; 26:27). See G. R. Driver, “Problems in the Hebrew Text of Proverbs,” Bib 32 (1951): 173-74.

50 tn The term נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh, “soul”) is used as a metonymy (= soul) of association (= life). The noun נֶפֶשׁ often refers to physical “life” (Exod 21:23; Num 17:3; Judg 5:18; Prov 12:10; BDB 659 s.v. 3.c).

51 tn Heb “its owners.”



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