1 sn The terms describe one who is both worthless and wicked. Some suggest that בְּלִיַּעַל (bÿliyya’al) is a compound of the negative בְּלִי (bÿli) and a noun יַעַל (ya’al, “profit; worth”). Others suggest that the root is from בַּעַל (ba’al, “lord [of goats]”) or a derivative of בָּלַע (bala’) with reduplication (“confusion” or “engulfing ruin”), or a proper name from Babylonian Bililu. See B. Otzen, TDOT 2:131-36; and D. W. Thomas, “בְּלִיַּעַל in the Old Testament,” Biblical and Patristic Studies in Memory of Robert Pierce Casey, 11-19. Whatever the etymology, usage shows that the word describes people who violate the law (Deut 15:9; Judg 19:22; 1 Kgs 21:10, 13; Prov 16:27; et al.) or act in a contemptuous and foolish manner against cultic observance or social institutions (1 Sam 10:27; 25:17; 30:22); cf. NRSV “a scoundrel and a villain” (NAB and NIV similar). The present instruction will focus on the devious practice of such wicked and worthless folk.
2 tn Heb “crooked” or “twisted.” This term can refer to something that is physically twisted or crooked, or something morally perverse. Cf. NAB “crooked talk”; NRSV “crooked speech.”
3 tn Heb “walks around with a perverse mouth.” The term “mouth” is a metonymy of cause, an organ of speech put for what is said. This is an individual who says perverted or twisted things.
4 sn The sinister sign language and gestures of the perverse individual seem to indicate any kind of look or gesture that is put on and therefore a form of deception if not a way of making insinuations. W. McKane suggests from the presence of חֹרֵשׁ (khoresh) in v. 14 that there may be some use of magic here (Proverbs [OTL], 325).