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Proverbs 28:28

Context

28:28 When the wicked gain control, 1  people 2  hide themselves, 3 

but when they perish, 4  the righteous increase.

Proverbs 29:2

Context

29:2 When the righteous become numerous, 5  the people rejoice;

when the wicked rule, the people groan. 6 

1 tn Heb “the wicked rise,” referring to an accession to power, as in a government. Cf. TEV “come to power”; NLT “take charge.”

sn The proverb is essentially the same as 28:12 (e.g., Prov 11:10; 29:2, 16). It refers to the wicked “rising to power” in government.

2 tn Heb “a man” or “mankind” in a generic sense.

3 tn The form is the Niphal imperfect of סָתַר (satar, “to hide”); in this stem it can mean “to hide themselves” or “to go into hiding.” In either case the expression would be a hyperbole; the populace would not go into hiding, but they would tread softly and move about cautiously. G. R. Driver suggests the Akkadian sataru instead, which means “to demolish,” and is cognate to the Aramaic “to destroy.” This would produce the idea that people are “destroyed” when the wicked come to power (“Problems in the Hebrew Text of Proverbs,” Bib 32 [1951]: 192-93). That meaning certainly fits the idea, but there is no reason for the change because the MT is perfectly readable as it is and makes good sense.

4 tn The two clauses have parallel constructions: They both begin with infinitives construct with prepositions functioning as temporal clauses, followed by subjective genitives (first the wicked, and then the pronoun referring to them). This heightens the antithesis: “when the wicked rise…when they perish.”

5 tn The Hebrew form בִּרְבוֹת (birvot) is the Qal infinitive construct of רָבָה (ravah) with a בּ (bet) preposition, forming a temporal clause with a subjective genitive following it. It is paralleled in the second colon by the same construction, showing the antithesis: וּבִמְשֹׁל (uvimshol), “and when the wicked rule.” Some commentators wish to change the first verb to make it parallel this more closely, e.g., רָדָה (radah, “to rule”), but that would be too neat and is completely unsupported. The contrast is between when the righteous increase and when the wicked rule. It is not hard to see how this contrast works out in society.

6 tn The Niphal verb אָנַח (’anakh) means “to sigh; to groan,” usually because of grief or physical and emotional distress. The word is a metonymy of effect; the cause is the oppression and distress due to evil rulers.



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