but there is success 2 in the abundance of counselors.
1 tn The word תַּחְבֻּלוֹת (takhvulot, “guidance; direction”) is derived from the root I חָבַל (khaval, “rope-pulling” and “steering” or “directing” a ship; BDB 286 s.v.). Thus spiritual guidance is like steering a ship, here the ship of state (R. N. Whybray, Proverbs [CBC], 68; Prov 1:5). Advice is necessary for the success of a nation.
2 tn Heb “victory.” This term תְּשׁוּעָה (teshu’ah) means “salvation” or “victory” (BDB 448 s.v.); cf. NAB, TEV “security”; NRSV, NLT “safety.” Here, it connotes “success” as the antithesis of the nation falling. The setting could be one of battle or economics. Victory or success will be more likely with good advice. This assumes that the counselors are wise.
3 tn The noun form is plural, but the verb is singular, suggesting either an abstract plural or a collective plural is being used here.
4 tn The clause begins with vav (ו) on “with guidance.” But the clause has an imperative for its main verb. One could take the imperfect tense in the first colon as an imperfect of injunction, and then this clause would be also instructional. But the imperfect tense is a Niphal, and so it is better to take the first colon as the foundational clause and the second colon as the consequence (cf. NAB): If that is true, then you should do this.
5 sn There have been attempts by various commentators to take “war” figuratively to mean life’s struggles, litigation, or evil inclinations. But there is no need and little justification for such interpretations. The proverb simply describes the necessity of taking counsel before going to war.
6 tn Heb “The wise [one/man].”
7 tn The Qal perfect tense of עָלָה (’alah) functions in a potential nuance. Wisdom can be more effectual than physical strength.
8 sn In a war the victory is credited not so much to the infantry as to the tactician who plans the attack. Brilliant strategy wins wars, even over apparently insuperable odds (e.g., Prov 24:5-6; Eccl 9:13-16; 2 Cor 10:4).
9 tn Heb “and bring down the strength of its confidence.” The word “strength” is a metonymy of adjunct, referring to the place of strength, i.e., “the stronghold.” “Confidence” is a genitive of worth; the stronghold is their confidence, it is appropriate for the confidence of the city.