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Proverbs 4:18-22

Context

4:18 But the path of the righteous is like the bright morning light, 1 

growing brighter and brighter 2  until full day. 3 

4:19 The way of the wicked is like gloomy darkness; 4 

they do not know what causes them to stumble. 5 

4:20 My child, pay attention to my words;

listen attentively 6  to my sayings.

4:21 Do not let them depart 7  from your sight,

guard 8  them within your heart; 9 

4:22 for they are life to those who find them

and healing to one’s entire body. 10 

1 tn Heb “like light of brightness.” This construction is an attributive genitive: “bright light.” The word “light” (אוֹר, ’or) refers to the early morning light or the dawn (BDB 21 s.v.). The point of the simile is that the course of life that the righteous follow is like the clear, bright morning light. It is illumined, clear, easy to follow, and healthy and safe – the opposite of what darkness represents.

2 tn The construction uses the Qal active participle of הָלַךְ (halakh) in a metaphorical sense to add the idea of continuance or continually to the participle הוֹלֵךְ (holekh). Here the path was growing light, but the added participle signifies continually.

3 tn Heb “until the day is established.” This expression refers to the coming of the full day or the time of high noon.

4 sn The simile describes ignorance or spiritual blindness, sinfulness, calamity, despair.

5 tn Heb “in what they stumble.”

6 tn Heb “incline your ear.” The verb הַט (hat) is the Hiphil imperative from נָטָה (natah, Hiphil: “to turn to; to incline”). The idiom “to incline the ear” gives the picture of “lean over and listen closely.”

sn Commentators note the use of the body in this section: ear (v. 20), eyes (v. 21), flesh (v. 22), heart (v. 23), lips (v. 24), eyes (v. 25), feet (v. 26), and hands and feet (v. 27). Each is a synecdoche of part representing the whole; the total accumulation signifies the complete person in the process.

7 tn The Hiphil form יַלִּיזוּ (yallizu) follows the Aramaic with gemination. The verb means “to turn aside; to depart” (intransitive Hiphil or inner causative).

8 tn Or “keep” (so KJV, NIV, NRSV and many others).

9 sn The words “eyes” and “heart” are metonymies of subject representing the faculties of each. Cf. CEV “think about it all.”

10 tn Heb “to all of his flesh.”



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