The increase from the land is taken by all; the king himself profits from the fields.
After all, a king who cultivates the field is an advantage to the land.
Even the king milks the land for his own profit!
But the good earth doesn't cheat anyone--even a bad king is honestly served by a field.
It is good generally for a country where the land is worked to have a king.
But all things considered, this is an advantage for a land: a king for a plowed field.
Moreover the profit of the land is for all; even the king is served from the field.
|NET © [draft] ITL|
|NET © Notes||
1 tn The phrase “is seized” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.
2 tn The function of the term נֶעֱבָד (ne’evar, Niphal participle ms from עָבַד, ’avar, “to serve”) has been understood in four ways: (1) adjectival use of the participle, modifying the noun שָׂדֶה (sadeh, “field”): “cultivated field” (RSV, NRSV, NJPS, NAB); (2) adjectival use of the participle, modifying מֶלֶךְ (melekh, “king”): “the king who cultivates” (NASB); (3) verbal use of the participle, taking שָׂדֶה (“field”) as the subject: “field is cultivated” (NEB); and (4) verbal use of the participle, taking מֶלֶךְ (“king”) as the subject: “the king is served” (KJV, NASB); also “the king profits” (NIV). BDB 713 s.v. עָבַד 2 lists both the adjectival and verbal options: “a king for [i.e., devoted to] the cultivated field” and “a king that makes himself servant to the field [i.e., devoted to agriculture].” HALOT 774 s.v. עבד suggests the line be rendered as “a king who serves the land.” In the Qal stem the verb עָבַד (’avar) is sometimes used in reference to tribute imposed upon a king’s subjects (e.g., Jer 25:14; 27:7; 30:8; Ezek 34:27) and in reference to subjects serving a king (e.g., Judg 9:28, 38; 1 Sam 11:1; 1 Kgs 5:1; 2 Sam 22:44; Jer 27:7; 28:14; 2 Kgs 25:24); cf. BDB 713 s.v. עָבַד 3; HALOT 773 s.v. עבד 3. Likewise, it is also used in reference to tilling the ground (e.g., Gen 2:5; 4:2, 12; 2 Sam 9:10; Isa 30:24; Jer 27:11; Zech 13:5; Prov 12:11; 28:19) and a vineyard or garden (Gen 2:15; Deut 28:39); cf. HALOT 773 s.v. עבד 3; BDB 713 s.v. עָבַד 3.
3 tn The syntax and exegesis of the line is difficult. There are three basic interpretive options: (1) the king takes care of the security of the cultivated land: “in any case, the advantage of a country is that there is a king for the cultivated land”; (2) the king is in favor of a prosperous agricultural policy: “in any case, the advantage of a country is that there is a king who is obeyed for the sake of the agriculture”; and (3) the king exploits the poor farmers: “the produce of the land is [seized] by all, even the king is served by the fields.” Perhaps the best option in the light of the context is to take the referent of כֹּל (kol, “all”) to the government officials of 5:8 rather than to the people as a whole. The verse depicts the exploitation of the poor farmers by corrupt government officials. This is reflected in two English versions: “the increase from the land is taken by all; the king himself profits from the fields” (NIV); “the profit of the land is among all of them; a cultivated field has a king” (RSV margin). On the other hand, the LXX treated the syntax so the king is viewed in a neutral sense: και περισσεια γης ἐπι παντι ἐστι, βασιλευς του αργου εἰργασμενου (“The abundance of the earth is for everyone; the king is dependent on the tilled field”). Most English versions deal with the syntax so that the king is viewed in a neutral or positive sense: “the profit of the earth is for all; the king himself is served by the field” (KJV); “a king who cultivates the field is an advantage to the land” (NASB); “this is an advantage for a land: a king for a plowed field” (NRSV); “the greatest advantage in all the land is his: he controls a field that is cultivated” (NJPS); “a country prospers with a king who has control” (Moffatt); “a king devoted to the field is an advantage to the land” (MLB); “a king is an advantage to a land with cultivated fields” (RSV); “the best thing for a country is a king whose own lands are well tilled” (NEB); and “an advantage for a country in every respect is a king for the arable land” (NAB). See D. Barthélemy, ed., Preliminary and Interim Report on the Hebrew Old Testament Text Project, 3:576–77.