4 tn Heb “the fool of lips”; cf. NASB “a babbling fool.” The phrase is a genitive of specification: “a fool in respect to lips.” The term “lips” is a metonymy of cause (= lips) for effect (= speech). The word for fool (אֶוִיל, ’evil) refers to someone who despises knowledge and discernment.
3 tn Heb “the mouth of foolishness”; cf. NRSV, NLT “the babbling of a fool.” The term פֶּה (peh, “mouth”) functions as a metonymy of cause for speech. The genitive אֶוִיל (’evil, “foolishness”) functions as an attributive adjective: “a foolish mouth” = foolish speech.
1 tn The meaning of this verse has been debated. The text has literally “indeed [or “for”] a little there, a little there” ( כִּי צַו לָצָו צַו לָצָו קַו לָקָו קַו, ki tsav latsav, tsav latsav, qav laqav, qav laqav). The present translation assumes that the repetitive syllables are gibberish that resembles baby talk (cf v. 9b) and mimics what the people will hear when foreign invaders conquer the land (v. 11). In this case זְעֵיר (zÿ’er, “a little”) refers to the short syllabic structure of the babbling (cf. CEV). Some take צַו (tsav) as a derivative of צָוָה (tsavah, “command”) and translate the first part of the statement as “command after command, command after command.” Proponents of this position (followed by many English versions) also take קַו (qav) as a noun meaning “measuring line” (see v. 17), understood here in the abstract sense of “standard” or “rule.”