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Proverbs 4:3-4

Context

4:3 When I was a son to my father, 1 

a tender only child 2  before my mother,

4:4 he taught me, and he said to me:

“Let your heart lay hold of my words;

keep my commands so that 3  you will live.

Proverbs 4:10-11

Context

4:10 Listen, my child, 4  and accept my words,

so that 5  the years of your life will be many. 6 

4:11 I will guide you 7  in the way of wisdom

and I will lead you in upright paths. 8 

1 tn Or “a boy with my father.”

2 tc The LXX introduces the ideas of “obedient” and “beloved” for these two terms. This seems to be a free rendering, if not a translation of a different Hebrew textual tradition. The MT makes good sense and requires no emendation.

tn Heb “tender and only one.” The phrase רַךְ וְיָחִיד (rakh vÿyakhid, “tender and only one”) is a hendiadys meaning “tender only child.” The adjective רַךְ (rakh) means “tender; delicate” (BDB 940 s.v. רַךְ), and describes a lad who is young and undeveloped in character (e.g., 2 Sam 3:39). The adjective יָחִיד (yakhid) means “only one” (BDB 402 s.v. יָחִיד) and refers to a beloved and prized only child (e.g., Gen 22:2).

3 tn The imperative with the vav expresses volitional sequence after the preceding imperative: “keep and then you will live,” meaning “keep so that you may live.”

4 tn Heb “my son” (likewise in v. 20).

5 tn The vav prefixed to the imperfect verb follows an imperative; this volitive sequence depicts purpose/result.

6 tn Heb “and the years of life will be many for you.”

7 tn The form הֹרֵתִיךָ (horetikha) is the Hiphil perfect with a suffix from the root יָרָה (yarah, “to guide”). This and the parallel verb should be taken as instantaneous perfects, translated as an English present tense: The sage is now instructing or pointing the way.

sn The verb יָרָה (yarah) means “to teach; to instruct; to guide.” This is from the same root as the Hebrew word for “law” (torah). See G. R. Driver, “Hebrew Notes,” VT 1 (1951): 241-50; and J. L. Crenshaw, “The Acquisition of Knowledge in Israelite Wisdom Literature,” WW 7 (1986): 9.

8 tn Heb “in the tracks of uprightness”; cf. NAB “on straightforward paths.” Both the verb and the object of the preposition make use of the idiom – the verb is the Hiphil perfect from דֶּרֶךְ (derekh, related to “road; way”) and the object is “wagon tracks, paths.”



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