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Proverbs 9:9-12


9:9 Give instruction 1  to a wise person, 2  and he will become wiser still;

teach 3  a righteous person and he will add to his 4  learning.

9:10 The beginning 5  of wisdom is to fear the Lord, 6 

and acknowledging 7  the Holy One 8  is understanding.

9:11 For because 9  of me your days will be many,

and years will be added 10  to your life.

9:12 If you are wise, you are wise to your own advantage, 11 

but if you are a mocker, 12  you alone must 13  bear it. 14 

1 tn The noun “instruction” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation.

2 sn The parallelism shows what Proverbs will repeatedly stress, that the wise person is the righteous person.

3 tn The Hiphil verb normally means “to cause to know, make known”; but here the context suggests “to teach” (so many English versions).

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

5 sn The difference between תְּחִלַּת (tÿkhillat) here and רֵאשִׁית (reshit) of 1:7, if there is any substantial difference, is that this term refers to the starting point of wisdom, and the earlier one indicates the primary place of wisdom (K&D 16:202).

6 tn Heb “fear of the Lord.”

7 tn Heb “knowledge of the Holy One” (so ASV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV).

8 tn The word is in the plural in the Hebrew (literally “holy ones”; KJV “the holy”). It was translated “holy men” in Tg. Prov 9:10. But it probably was meant to signify the majestic nature of the Lord. As J. H. Greenstone says, he is “all-holy” (Proverbs, 94). This is an example of the plural of majesty, one of the honorific uses of the plural (see IBHS 122-23 §7.4.3b).

9 tn The preposition בּ (bet) here may have the causal sense (R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 45, §247), although it could also be means (Williams, 44, §243).

10 tn The verb וְיוֹסִיפוּ (vÿyosifu) is the Hiphil imperfect, third masculine plural; but because there is no expressed subject the verb may be taken as a passive.

11 tn The text simply has the preposition לְ (lamed) with a suffix; but this will be the use of the preposition classified as “interest,” either for advantage or disadvantage (R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 48-49, §271).

12 tn The perfect tense is here in a conditional clause because of the conjunction following the first colon of the verse that begins with “if.” The perfect tense then lays down the antithetical condition – “if you mock,” or “if you are a mocker.”

13 tn The use of the imperfect tense here could be the simple future tense (cf. NASB, NRSV “you…will bear it”), but the obligatory nuance is more appropriate – “you must bear it.” These words anticipate James’ warnings that the words we speak will haunt us through life (e.g., James 3:1-12).

14 tc The LXX has an addition: “Forsake folly, that you may reign forever; and seek discretion and direct understanding in knowledge.”

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