It is not for kings, 1 O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, 2 or for rulers to crave strong drink, 3
"It is not for kings, O Lemuel—not for kings to drink wine, not for rulers to crave beer,
It is not for kings, O Lemuel, It is not for kings to drink wine, Or for rulers to desire strong drink,
And it is not for kings, O Lemuel, to guzzle wine. Rulers should not crave liquor.
"Leaders can't afford to make fools of themselves, gulping wine and swilling beer,
It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to take wine, or for rulers to say, Where is strong drink?
It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, or for rulers to desire strong drink;
It is not for kings, O Lemuel, It is not for kings to drink wine, Nor for princes intoxicating drink;
[It is] not for kings
[it is] not for kings
<0335> (8675) <0176>
|NET © [draft] ITL|
It is not
, O Lemuel
, it is not
to crave strong drink,
|NET © Notes||
1 tn Heb “[It is] not for kings.”
2 sn This second warning for kings concerns the use of alcohol. If this passage is meant to prohibit any use of alcohol by kings, it would be unheard of in any ancient royal court. What is probably meant is an excessive and unwarranted use of alcohol, or a troubling need for it, so that the meaning is “to drink wine in excess” (cf. NLT “to guzzle wine”; CEV “should not get drunk”). The danger, of course, would be that excessive use of alcohol would cloud the mind and deprive a king of true administrative ability and justice.
3 tn The MT has אֵו (’ev), a Kethib/Qere reading. The Kethib is אוֹ (’o) but the Qere is אֵי (’ey). Some follow the Qere and take the word as a shortened form of וַֹיֵּה, “where?” This would mean the ruler would be always asking for drink (cf. ASV). Others reconstruct to אַוֵּה (’avveh, “to desire; to crave”). In either case, the verse would be saying that a king is not to be wanting/seeking alcohol.
tn Here “strong drink” probably refers to barley beer (cf. NIV, NCV “beer”).