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Proverbs 6:1-5

Context
Admonitions and Warnings against Dangerous and Destructive Acts 1 

6:1 My child, 2  if you have made a pledge 3  for your neighbor,

and 4  have become a guarantor 5  for a stranger, 6 

6:2 if 7  you have been ensnared 8  by the words you have uttered, 9 

and have been caught by the words you have spoken,

6:3 then, my child, do this in order to deliver yourself, 10 

because you have fallen into your neighbor’s power: 11 

go, humble yourself, 12 

and appeal firmly 13  to your neighbor.

6:4 Permit no sleep to your eyes 14 

or slumber to your eyelids.

6:5 Deliver yourself like a gazelle from a snare, 15 

and like a bird from the trap 16  of the fowler.

Proverbs 11:15

Context

11:15 The one who puts up security for a stranger 17  will surely have trouble, 18 

but whoever avoids 19  shaking hands 20  will be secure.

Proverbs 17:18

Context

17:18 The one who lacks wisdom 21  strikes hands in pledge, 22 

and puts up financial security 23  for his neighbor. 24 

Proverbs 20:16

Context

20:16 Take a man’s 25  garment 26  when he has given security for a stranger, 27 

and when he gives surety for strangers, 28  hold him 29  in pledge.

1 sn The chapter advises release from foolish indebtedness (1-5), admonishes avoiding laziness (6-11), warns of the danger of poverty (9-11) and deviousness (12-15), lists conduct that the Lord hates (16-19), and warns about immorality (20-35).

2 tn Heb “my son” (likewise in vv. 3, 20).

3 sn It was fairly common for people to put up some kind of financial security for someone else, that is, to underwrite another’s debts. But the pledge in view here was foolish because the debtor was a neighbor who was not well known (זָר, zar), perhaps a misfit in the community. The one who pledged security for this one was simply gullible.

4 tn The conjunction “and” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for the sake of smoothness.

5 tn Heb “struck your hands”; NIV “have struck hands in pledge”; NASB “have given a pledge.” The guarantee of a pledge was signaled by a handshake (e.g., 11:15; 17:18; 22:26).

6 tn Heb “stranger.” The term זוּר (zur, “stranger”) probably refers to a neighbor who was not well-known. Alternatively, it could describe a person who is living outside the norms of convention, a moral misfit in the community. In any case, this “stranger” is a high risk in any financial arrangement.

7 tn The term “if” does not appear in this line but is implied by the parallelism. It is supplied in the translation for the sake of clarity.

8 tn The verb יָקַשׁ (yaqash) means “to lay a bait; to lure; to lay snares.” In the Niphal it means “to be caught by bait; to be ensnared” – here in a business entanglement.

9 tn Heb “by the words of your mouth.” The same expression occurs at the end of the following line (cf. KJV, ASV, NASB). Many English versions vary the wording slightly, presumably for stylistic reasons, to avoid redundancy (e.g., NAB, NIV, NRSV, NLT).

10 tn The syntactical construction of imperative followed by an imperative + vav consecutive denotes purpose: “in order to be delivered.” The verb means “to deliver oneself, be delivered” in the Niphal. The image is one of being snatched or plucked quickly out of some danger or trouble, in the sense of a rescue, as in a “brand snatched [Hophal stem] from the fire” (Zech 3:2).

11 tn Heb “have come into the hand of your neighbor” (so NASB; cf. KJV, ASV). The idiom using the “hand” means that the individual has come under the control or the power of someone else. This particular word for hand is used to play ironically on its first occurrence in v. 1.

12 tn In the Hitpael the verb רָפַס (rafas) means “to stamp oneself down” or “to humble oneself” (cf. KJV, NASB, NIV). BDB 952 s.v. Hithp suggests “become a suppliant.” G. R. Driver related it to the Akkadian cognate rapasu, “trample,” and interpreted as trampling oneself, swallowing pride, being unremitting in effort (“Some Hebrew Verbs, Nouns, and Pronouns,” JTS 30 [1929]: 374).

13 tn Heb “be bold.” The verb רָהַב (rahav) means “to act stormily; to act boisterously; to act arrogantly.” The idea here is a strong one: storm against (beset, importune) your neighbor. The meaning is that he should be bold and not take no for an answer. Cf. NIV “press your plea”; TEV “beg him to release you.”

14 tn Heb “do not give sleep to your eyes.” The point is to go to the neighbor and seek release from the agreement immediately (cf. NLT “Don’t rest until you do”).

15 tn Heb “from the hand.” Most translations supply “of the hunter.” The word “hand” can signify power, control; so the meaning is that of a gazelle freeing itself from a snare or a trap that a hunter set.

16 tc Heb “hand” (so KJV, NAB, NRSV). Some mss and versions have it as “trap,” which may very well represent an interpretation too.

17 sn The “stranger” could refer to a person from another country or culture, as it often does; but it could also refer to an unknown Israelite, with the idea that the individual stands outside the known and respectable community.

18 tn The sentence begins with the Niphal imperfect and the cognate (רַע־יֵרוֹעַ, ra-yeroa’), stressing that whoever does this “will certainly suffer hurt.” The hurt in this case will be financial responsibility for a bad risk.

19 tn Heb “hates.” The term שֹׂנֵא (shoneh) means “to reject,” and here “to avoid.” The participle is substantival, functioning as the subject of the clause. The next participle, תֹקְעִים (toqim, “striking hands”), is its object, telling what is hated. The third participle בּוֹטֵחַ (boteakh, “is secure”) functions verbally.

20 tn Heb “striking.” The imagery here is shaking hands to seal a contract. The term “hands” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is implied.

21 tn Heb “heart”; KJV, ASV “a man void of understanding”; NIV “a man lacking in judgment.”

22 tn The phrase “in pledge” is supplied for the sake of clarification.

23 tn The line uses the participle עֹרֵב (’orev) with its cognate accusative עֲרֻבָּה (’arubah), “who pledges a pledge.”

24 sn It is foolish to pledge security for someone’s loans (e.g., Prov 6:1-5).

25 tn Heb “his garment.”

26 sn Taking a garment was the way of holding someone responsible to pay debts. In fact, the garment was the article normally taken for security (Exod 22:24-26; Deut 24:10-13). Because this is a high risk security pledge (e.g., 6:1-5), the creditor is to deal more severely than when the pledge is given by the debtor for himself.

27 tc The Kethib has the masculine plural form, נָכְרִים (nakhrim), suggesting a reading “strangers.” But the Qere has the feminine form נָכְרִיָּה (nakhriyyah), “strange woman” or “another man’s wife” (e.g., 27:13). The parallelism would suggest “strangers” is the correct reading, although theories have been put forward for the interpretation of “strange woman” (see below).

sn The one for whom the pledge is taken is called “a stranger” and “foreign.” These two words do not necessarily mean that the individual or individuals are non-Israelite – just outside the community and not well known.

28 tn M. Dahood argues that the cloak was taken in pledge for a harlot (cf. NIV “a wayward woman”). Two sins would then be committed: taking a cloak and going to a prostitute (“To Pawn One’s Cloak,” Bib 42 [1961]: 359-66; also Snijders, “The Meaning of זָר,” 85-86). In the MT the almost identical proverb in 27:13 has a feminine singular form here.

29 tn Or “hold it” (so NIV, NCV).



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