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Proverbs 27:4-6

Context

27:4 Wrath is cruel and anger is overwhelming, 1 

but who can stand before jealousy? 2 

27:5 Better is open 3  rebuke

than hidden 4  love.

27:6 Faithful 5  are the wounds of a friend,

but the kisses 6  of an enemy are excessive. 7 

1 tn Heb “fierceness of wrath and outpouring [= flood] of anger.” A number of English versions use “flood” here (e.g., NASB, NCV, NLT).

2 tn The Hebrew term translated “jealousy” here probably has the negative sense of “envy” rather than the positive sense of “zeal.” It is a raging emotion (like “anger” and “wrath,” this word has nuances of heat, intensity) that defies reason at times and can be destructive like a consuming fire (e.g., 6:32-35; Song 8:6-7). The rhetorical question is intended to affirm that no one can survive a jealous rage. (Whether one is the subject who is jealous or the object of the jealousy of someone else is not so clear.)

3 tn Heb “revealed” or “uncovered” (Pual participle from גָּלָה, galah). This would specify the reproof or rebuke as direct, honest, and frank, whether it was coming from a friend or an enemy.

4 tn The Hebrew term translated “hidden” (a Pual participle from סָתַר, satar) refers to a love that is carefully concealed; this is contrasted with the open rebuke in the first line. What is described, then, is someone too timid, too afraid, or not trusting enough to admit that reproof is a genuine part of love (W. McKane, Proverbs [OTL], 610). It is a love that is not expressed in proper concern for the one loved. See also, e.g., 28:23 and 29:3.

5 tn The Niphal participle of אָמַן (’aman) means “faithful; reliable; sure; trustworthy.” The word indicates that the wounds from a friend “can be trusted” (so NIV, NCV) because they are meant to correct and not to destroy (e.g., 25:12; Deut 7:9; Job 12:20).

6 sn “Kisses” probably represents a metonymy of adjunct; the term describes any expressions or indications of affection. But coming from an enemy, they will be insincere – as indicated by their excessive number.

7 tn The form is נַעְתָּרוֹת (natarot), the Niphal participle of עָתַר (’atar, “to be abundant”). Contemporary translations render this rare form in a number of different ways: “deceitful” (NASB, NKJV); “profuse” (NRSV); “many” (NLT). But the idea of “excessive” or “numerous” fits very well. The kisses of an enemy cannot be trusted, no matter how often they are presented.



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