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r. NAMES. 

i. The Masoretic title is Prorcrhs of Solomon , 

Mishle Shcldmo, by the later Jews usually abridged to MisMe). 
That this is old appears to be shown by the (irk. (6 1! ) title 
TTupoifiiui (the .subscription is simply 77. in Cod. B, TT. SaAo/iwrros 
in K, TT. 2oA. in A and C). The name might naturally have been 
suggested by i K. 4-" - (^-), but would originally have been given 
to the collection io -22 1(; , whence it would have been extended to 
the whole book as additions were made to it from time to time. 
That this was the common Talmudic title is shown by Bertheau.* 
On the meaning of mashal and its synonyms see notes on i 1 -" 

2. By early Christian writers the book was commonly called 
Wisdom or All-virtuous Wisdom^ r/ Tram/aero? iro^ a, names which 
were also given to Ben-Sim (Rcclesiasticus} and Wisdom of Sol 
omon. \ Other designations were r/ ao^/ /^Ao? ( I )ionys. of Alex.) 
and r/ TruiSuywyi/a/ cro^t x (Greg. Nax. Ornt. T[). U hether this 
<rociu represents an ancient Heb. title r;:rn is uncertain. Krit/sche 
(Die Weisheit Jesus- SiracVs, Einl. p. xx) holds that the name 
o-o<iu given to Ben-Sim bears witness to a similar n; .me for our 
Proverbs ; but this is not certain. It is possible that the title 
Wisdom was common in Jewish circles, and thence passed to the 
Christians; so Hegesippus (quoted by Kuseb. /// /. ///>.) refers the 


designation to unwritten Jewish tradition." But in that case it 
would be rather a descriptive term than the official title, and in 
the former sense we may naturally take the Talmudic name Book 
of Wisdom* In the same way we may explain the somewhat 
curious fact that the Midrash on Proverbs begins by citing Job 28 - : 
"and wisdom, where can it be found?" the author has merely in 
mind the fact that Proverbs deals with wisdom, which term was 
obviously used to define the contents of all the philosophical 
books. j 


The divisions of the Book indicated in the text itself are as 
follows : 

I. A group of discourses on wisdom and wise conduct (1-9) : 
i. General title (i 1 ), purpose of the Book (i 2-c ), central or fun 
damental principle (i 7 ) ; 2. Warning against consorting with sin 
ners (i^ J ) ; 3. Wisdom s appeal (i*- 33 ) ; 4. Wisdom as guardian 
against bad men and women (2) ; 5. Advantages attending obe 
dience to the sage s instruction, the fear of Yahweh, and devotion 
to wisdom (3) ; 6. Exhortation to obey the sage (4) ; 7. Warn 
ing against unchaste women (5) ; 8. Three paragraphs, against 
suretyship, indolence, slander, here misplaced (6 1 " 19 ) ; 9. Warn 
ing against unchaste women (6 -^ } ; 10. A similar warning (7) ; 
ii. Function of Wisdom as controller of life, and as attendant of 
Yahweh in the creation of the world (8) ; 12. Wisdom and Folly 
contrasted as hosts (g 1 - - 13 - 18 ), and an interjected, misplaced par 
agraph of apophthegms on wisdom (9 M2 )- 

II. A collection of aphorisms in couplet form (io 1 -22 lc ). 

III. Two collections of aphoristic quatrains (22 17 -24 22 , and 

2 4 *). 

IV. A collection of aphoristic couplets (25-29). 

V. A collection of discourses of various characters (30. 31) : 
the " words of Agur " (so 1 -*) ; the certainty of God s word (30* fi ) ; 

* ncan IED, the name given to Proverbs in Tosephot Baba Bathra, 14 b. 

t See Hermann Deutsch, Die Sprllche Salomos nach der aiiffassung im Talmud 
und Midrasch, 1885. Deutsch also cites a synagogal prayer of the lath century, in 
which Proverbs is styled n-um 12D ; but this hardly proves anything for the earliest 


prayer for moderate circumstances (30 7 - ;| ) ; against slandering ser 
vants (30" ) ; a collection of aphorisms citing certain things ar 
ranged in groups of fours (30"- ;; ) ; instruction to a king (v ) : 
description of a model housewife (3i" l " ;1 ). 

The purpose of all these sections is the inculcation of certain 
cardinal social virtues, such as industry, thrift, discretion, truth 
fulness, honesty, chastity, kindness, forgiveness, warning against 
the corresponding vices, and praise of wisdom as the guiding prin 
ciple of life. If we compare Proverbs in this regard with licn- 
Sira, we find that the latter, while it deals in general with the 
same moral qualities, goes more into detail in the treatment of 
social relations, and has more to say of manners as distinguished 
from morals. 


The divisions indicated above suggest, by their differences of 
tone and content, that the Book has been formed by the combina 
tion of collections of various dates and origins. It is not probable 
that one man was the author of the philosophical discourses of 
chs. 1-9, the pithy aphorisms of io 1 -22 1 i , the quatrains of 22^-24, 
the couplets of 25-29, and the mixed material of 30. 31. 

A similar conclusion is indicated by the repetitions which occur 
in the Book. Thus, as between II. and III. we find variant coup 
lets : cf. 1 1 1 " and 22- 1 -- 7 ; 18 " and 24- ; identical lines : ii"and 
24 ; 1 3 - and 24-" ; 14 and 24 ; 20 " and 24-- . As between II. 
and IV.: identical couplets : cf. i8 s and26--; 19 anil 28 ; i </ 
and 26 " ; 20" and 27 " ; 21 "and 25- ; 22" and 27 -; variant coup 
lets: i2 u and 28 1 1 ; i3 L 4 and 29 1 " ; 15" " and 25"; i6 lL> and 25 ; 
i6- s and 26 2l) ; 22 - and 29 "; 22 1:: and 26"; identical lines : 10 
and 29 " ; 15 * and 29- ; i f and 27- ; 19 and 27 ". As between 
III. and IV., an identical line : cf. 24- and 28- . Cf. also 6 " 
with 24 "" ! " ;1 . 

From these repetitions we infer that the collectors of II., III.. 
IV., were mutually independent no one of them was acquainted 
with the work of the others. In I. and Y. we find no matter 
that can be called repetition ; the peculiar tone of each of 
these divisions kept it apart from tin; others; 6 1 " and y " 1 - are 


Subdivisions or smaller collections also appear to be indicated 
by repetitions within each of the three middle sections. Within 
II.: identical or equivalent couplets: 10 and i5 2 "; io 2 and 1 1 4 ; 
ii 1 " and iy ls and 20 "; 13" and 14- ; i4 12 and i6 2: (and cf. 2i L>u ) ; 
I4 2 " and ig 4 ; i6 2 and 21" ; 19 " and 19 - ; 20" and 20 L>:! ; 21 - and 
2i w ; identical or equivalent lines: 10" and io n ; io s and io" 
(perhaps scribal error); io r> and i8 n ; io 27 and 19" ; n 1:; and 
2o w ; n 14 and 15-; n 21 and 16% i2 14 and i3 2 ; i4 31 and 17" ; 
15 " and i8 12 ; i6 LS and i8 12 ; i9 12 and 2O 2 . Within III. : couplets 
or lines : 22 s and 23" ; 22 2S and 23 10 (the couplets which in 23 1 "- 
form one quatrain are in 22 2;! - 2S divided between two quatrains) ; 
23 17tt and 24^ ; 23"* and 24 14 (a similar division of couplets) ; on 
23 ;! -" see notes. Within IV. : 28 12 and 29 2 . 

In some cases these latter repetitions may be scribal errors. 
Ewald, Delitzsch, and others, endeavor to determine the limits of 
the smaller subdivisions, which are held to be indicated sometimes 
by similarity of material, sometimes by catch-words ; see the 
notes. The paragraphal divisions are obvious in I. and V., and in 
parts of III. and IV. ; in II. the absence of logical arrangement 
makes it very difficult, if not impossible, to recognize any such 
paragraphs, and the divisions which have been suggested are com 
monly arbitrary and useless, as is pointed out within. 

The misplacement of certain passages, as 4 1S , 6 1 " 5 <K M9 , 9 7 " 12 , 
and of a number of lines in II. is discussed in the notes. 


i. Hebrew poetry, as is now generally agreed, has neither 
metre in the Greek and Latin sense, nor systematic rhyme ; there 
are occasional sequences of syllables, which may be called iambic, 
trochaic, anapaestic, etc., and occasional assonances or rhymes ; 
but these are of irregular occurrence, and obviously do not belong 
to the essence of the form of the verse.* 

* On the rhythmical form of Hebrew poetry see J. Ley, Gruitdzuge dcs rhythmus 
etc., 1875, and Leitfaden der Mctrik, 1887 ; G. Bickell, Carmina Vet. Test, metrice, 
1882, his additions in /.eitschr. f. Kath. Thcol., 1885-1886, and the introductory 
remarks to his Kritische Bearbeitung d. Proverbien in the Wiener 7.citsc/ir. f. d. 
Kunde d. Morgenlandes, 1891 ; C. A. Briggs, Biblical Study 3 , 1891, Hebraica, 1887, 
1888, General Introduction to the Study of Holy Scripture, 1899, chs. xiv-xvii ; 


The rhythmical form of the poetic line or verse is marked not 
by the number of words or syllables, but by the number of accents 
or beats. The accent of each word or group of words is fixed by 
the laws of Hebrew accentuation; accepting the Masoretic system 
as correct (and we have nothing else to guide us), we can with 
reasonable probability determine the number of beats in any line. 
The chief source of uncertainty lies in the presence of possibly un 
accented words, which are to be combined into rhythmical unity 
with following words ; such are short prepositions, conjunctions, 
negatives, and nouns defined by following nouns (sfatiis construc 
ts). These may or may not have an accent; in determining 
this point we may sometimes be aided by the Masoretic punctu 
ation (the Maqqef or hyphen), which gives the pronunciation of 
the seventh century of our era; but this is not always decisive, 
and we must, in the last instance, be guided by the general nature 
of the rhythm. 

In order to avoid the possibly misleading suggestions of the 
terms "dimeter, trimeter, tetrameter, pentameter, hexameter," 
etc., the lines are here called binary (" having two beats "), ter 
nary, or quaternary. For the guidance of the English reader 
(the translation rarely giving the rhythmical form of the Hebrew) 
the rhythmical definition of every couplet is marked in the com 
mentary ; thus, ternary means that both lines of the couplet are 
ternary, ternary-binary that the first line is ternary and the second 
line binary, etc. 

In Proverbs the lines are arranged almost without exception in 
couplets (distichal). A certain number of triplets occur (tris- 
tichal), and these must be dealt with every one for itself. The 
presence of triplets, even in a passage predominantly distichal, 
must be admitted to be possible. In some cases the third line 
appears to be a corruption of some other line, or the remains of a 
separate couplet, or an erroneous scribal insertion ; where there 
is no reasonable ground of suspicion, beyond the irregularity, the 
triplet form must be accepted. 

2. Strophes (quatrains and other forms) occur in all p;irts of 
the Book except II. It is not to be assumed that a discourse 


must be strophic in form ; in every case the question must be de 
cided by the logical connection of the material.* 

The principle of arrangement by couplets and strophes may 
properly be used for the criticism of the text, always, of course, 
with due caution; it may easily be pressed too far. 

3. The form of the parallelism varies in the different Sections. 
In I. it may be said to be, in accordance with the tone of the dis 
courses, wholly synonymous ; the apparent exceptions are 3- 2 ~ y> , 
9 8 , all occurring in misplaced or doubtful paragraphs. II. divides 
itself into two parts : in chs. 10-15 the form is antithetic, in i6-22 10 
the couplets are mostly comparisons and single sentences, with a 
few antitheses. III. is made up of synonymous lines, except 24. 
IV. shows a division into two parts : in chs. 25-27 we find com 
parisons and single sentences, except in 25-, 2f - - u , which con 
tains antitheses, while in chs. 28. 29 the two forms are nearly equal 
in number (33 antithetic couplets, 22 comparisons and single 
sentences) . In V. the parallelism is, with a few exceptions (see 
2 O i2.24-28 ^ i 30 ), synonymous. 

So far, then, as the rhythmical form may be regarded as an 
indication of origin we must put in one group chs. 10-15 anc * part 
of chs. 28. 29, and in another group chs. 16-2 2, 25-27 and part of 
chs. 28. 29. I. and V. stand by themselves, and III. stands mid 
way between II., IV., and I. 

If we compare the rhythmical forms of Proverbs and the Psalter, 
we find that most of the Psalms, being connected discourses, re 
semble I.; the aphoristic ^ 37 shows the same variations as II., 
III., IV. Lamentations is rhythmically unique, but belongs in the 
same general category as I., as does also Canticles. 


Proverbs may be described as a manual of conduct, or, as 
Bruch calls it, an " anthology of gnomes." Its observations relate 
to a number of forms of life, to affairs domestic, agricultural, 
urban (the temptations of city life), commercial, political, and 

* On strophic structure in the Old Testament see, besides the works mentioned 
above, D. H. Miiller, Die Propheten. 1895, and Strophenbau und Kesponsion, 1898. 


Many of the sayings are simply maxims of commonsense pru- 
dence, enjoining industry and caution (6 1 "- io 4 Vl ii 1 1 i2 u 


14-" i6 2<! 2O ! 23 1 -" 25 2 8 s 30 1 ", etc.), sometimes with what 
seems to be a humorous or sarcastic turn (6 :; ~" 19- 23""" 30-" ). 
The most are ethical, inculcating lessons of truth and general good 
ness. A religious tone is found in different degrees in different 
sections : in I., if \ve omit the cosmogonic hymn in ch. S, the ref 
erences to God occur almost exclusively in chs. 1-3, and there 
partly in passages (such as 2 5 ~ s 3 L>7 " :r> ) which appear to be editorial 
insertions; the divine name is mentioned most frequently in II. 
(21 times in chs. 10-15, T 3 time.; in chs. 16. 17, 21 times in 18- 
22 ") ; in III. there are 6 occurrences, and 8 in IV. (2 in chs. 25- 
27, and 6 in chs. 28. 29) ; in V. a reference to God is found only 
in 30--" (3 times). It appears then that II. is relatively more 
religious, the rest of the Book more definitely ethical. 

None of the aphorisms, however, not even such as " go to 
the ant, thou sluggard," or "answer a fool according to his folly," 
or the tetrads in ch. 30, are popular proverbs or folk-sayings. 
They are all reflective and academic in tone, and must be re 
garded as the productions of schools of moralists in a period of 
high moral culture. The ideas of the Hook may be considered 
under their ethical, religious, and philosophical aspects.* 

A. Ethical. 

i. The high ethical standard of the Hook is universally recog 
nized. Its maxims all look to the establishment of a safe, peaceful, 
happy social life, in the family and the community; the supposed 
exceptions, cases of alleged selfish prudence (as, for example, the 
caution against going security), are only apparent, since proper 
regard for self is an element of justice. 

Honesty and truthfulness in public and private life, especially 
business-transactions and courts of justice, are throughout insis 
on, and respect for human properly and life is enjoined ; 
alist has particularly in mind the urban crimes of perjury. 

*Cf A. F. mime, Gesclnchtl. l\n 

T. K. Cheyne, Job and Solomon, 1887; C. G. Montcf.o.v, 
of Pro-. ., in 1QR., 1890 ; K. Pfeiffer, AV/^,,, 
1897; Clicync, Jewish Ke/ijf. /-//. 


robbery, and murder. A fine conception of political equity is 
given in the picture of the king (not a Messiah, but an ideal 
sovereign in general), who is represented as the embodiment of 
justice in his dealings with his people ; the references to royal 
authority occur almost exclusively in chs. 16-29 (the other in 
stances are 8 15 I4 28 - 35 30^ 3i 2 ~ 9 ). The idea of justice is prominent 
in all parts of Proverbs (as also throughout OT., and in Egyptian 
and Greek ethical systems) ; and, as the fundamental virtue in 
human intercourse, it is identified with general probity or right 
eousness, the same terms being used to express both conceptions 
(see notes on i 3 al.}. Warnings against unchastity constitute a spe 
cial feature of I. (they are found elsewhere in 22 14 23- 3O 20 ) ; one 
of the terms used for harlot, " strange woman " (2 1<5 a/.), designates 
the vice in question as an offence against the well-being of the 
family. Kindness to man (3 al.} and beast (i2 10 ) is enjoined fre 
quently in II., and once in I. and V. each ; the fact that the term 
(as elsewhere in OT.) is several times associated with " truth " (3 
i4 22 i6 6 2O 28 ) may indicate that the element of justice entered into 
the conception of kindness. Love is extolled (io 12 ) as minister 
ing to peace. There is a sharp polemic against slander and mali 
cious gossip (6 12 - L - 10 i6 28 /.). Special regard is shown for the 
interests of the poor (22 22 a/.). Irascibility is condemned (I4 29 ), 
and pride (13 ) ; and modesty or lowliness is approved (n 2 ). 
Frank acknowledgment of wrong is enjoined (28 13 ). Revenge is 
forbidden (24 17 ), and kindness to enemies is insisted on. Indus 
try is praised, sloth is ridiculed, temperance in eating and drinking 
is urged. The ideal of family-life is high (especially in I., III., 
and ch. 31) : monogamy is assumed; parents are the responsible 
guides of their children, and entitled to their obedience and 
respect (love to parents is not mentioned, but is doubtless in 
volved), the mother having equal honor with the father. Woman 
is spoken of only in the relations of wife, mother, and housewife : 
she is a power in the house, capable of making home miserable 
(i9 13 #/.) or happy (i8 22 3i 28 ) ; she has not only housekeeping- 
capacity, but also broad wisdom (i s 3i - M> ) , her position is as high 
as any accorded her in ancient life (Egypt, Greece, Rome). 
Proverbs speaks (i 8 at.} of the training of children at home ; but 
of the method and extent of the education of children in Hebrew 


postexilian communities we know little (of. note on 22 ). The 
frequency with which terms for instruction" occur in the Book 
makes it probable that a definite apparatus of training existed. 

Among the virtues not mentioned in Proverbs are courage (see 
note on 28 ), fortitude (see 3"), moderation in thought, self- 
sacrifice, intellectual truthfulness. The silence of the sages (and 
of OT. generally) respecting these traits is doubtless to be inter 
preted as indicating not that they did not exist among the Israel 
ites, but chiefly that the moralists attached more importance to 
other qualities as effective forces in the struggle of life ; the last- 
mentioned virtue, further, belongs to a mode of thought which was 
foreign to the Jewish mind. The obligation to seek truth is rec 
ognized in I. (i J 3" a!.}, but the "truth" is that law of conduct 
obedience to which secures prosperity and happiness. Of beauty 
as an element of life nothing is said ; the failure to mention it is 
due not to the religious character of the Book (for much of the 
material of Proverbs is non-religious), but to the fact that the Jew 
ish sages had not been trained to distinct recognition of the value 
of the beautiful in the conduct of life. So also the silence of 
Proverbs in regard to international ethics must be referred to the 
times ; the Jews were not then a nation, and could not have 
political relations with the surrounding peoples, and moreover, a 
science of international ethics did not then exist in the world. 

2. Life is contemplated on its external and visible side, as a 
mass of acts. The freedom of the will is assumed, but there is no 
inquiry into its nature and its relation to the absolute will of T.od 
or to conditions of temperament and education. There is MO 
reference to such inward experiences as swaying between opposed 
lines of conduct, struggle with temptation, and the mistakes ot 
conscientious ignorance. Men are judged, without allowance, ac 
cording to their actual conformity to law, and are sharply divided 
into good and bad ; in i~ " simpleton," " scoffer," and " fool " are 
equivalent terms, and these classes are set over against the obe 
dient in r--"". In TI.-V. characters are regarded as fixed : 
the exhortations assume the possibility of change, but it i 
(i- s ) that when the hour of punishment comes it will 1 
to turn. There is no reference to sorrow for sin or in gener; 
processes of conversion from bad to good, or from good to \ 


(so in Ez. 1 8). The advantages and disadvantages, for practical 
morality, of this strictly external conception of life are obvious. 

The absence of all inquiry into the psychological basis of the 
moral life (which Proverbs has in common with the rest of OT.) is 
due-to the Jewish practical, unspeculative habit of thought. There 
are no terms for " conscience " and " duty " in Hebrew, and no 
Hebrew prophet or sage troubles himself to examine into the 
origin of the sense of obligation. The OT. ethical thought is 
wholly occupied with the question how to make the best of life. 

3. The same practical point of view controls the determination of 
the grounds of moral judgments, and the motives for the good life. 

For the standard of rightdoing the appeal in Proverbs is to 
commonsense or to the command of God. There is no reference 
to the good of society as a whole, no recognition of society as an 
ethical cosmos,* no attempt to define the relation between society 
and the individual or to harmonize egoism and altruism in the 
unity of the cosmos. 

The motive urged for good living is individualistic utilitarian or 
eudaemonistic not the glory of God, or the welfare of men in 
general, but the well-being of the actor. Nor is there specific 
reference to man s obligation to seek moral perfection for its own 
sake. The only point directly insisted on is that happiness follows 
obedience to the law of right. It is unnecessary to call attention 
to the fundamental value of this principle in practical life, and to 
its ethical limitations. On the other hand, it cannot be assumed 
that the broader and more ideal points of view were unknown to 
the Jewish moralists ; we can infer only that such points of view 
did not seem to them to have practical importance. 

The scheme of life in Proverbs cannot strictly be called either 
optimistic or pessimistic. The existence of moral and physical 
evil is recognized, without attempt to explain its origin or to 
reconcile it with the moral perfection of God. But there is also 
recognition of the possibility of escaping or rising superior to all 
evil; universal happiness is contemplated as the ideal ultimate 
lot of humanity.! 

* That is, no recognition by the individual as guide of his own life. The 
philosophical conception of the cosmos is found in cli. 8; see p. xvi. 
t On a supposed pessimistic sentiment in I4 13 see note on that verse. 

]>. A f /itfious. 

1. Monotheism is taken for granted, Cud is regarded as su 
preme and absolute in po\ver, wisdom, and goodness, and the only 
trace of anthropomorphism in the theistic conception is the unsym 
pathetic (hostile and mocking) attitude of God toward the sinner 
(i- ! ii- at.). This conception is in the main that of OT. gener 
ally, and is a part of the practical point of view of the moralists. 

2. Of other supernatural beings (angels and demons) there is 
no mention (see note on 30 - ). The existence of such beings no 
doubt formed part of the popular belief of the time (job i" 3 }- 
i// pi 11 i C. 2 1 1 ) ; but the sages, dealing with the everyday moral 
life, saw no occasion to refer to these administrative agencies, and 
confined themselves to the visible facts. Idolatry is not mentioned 

the audience addressed in Proverbs is Jewish. 

3. Sin is the violation of law in the most general sense, and 
salvation, which is deliverance from earthly evil, is secured by- 
obedience to law, human and divine. There is no reference or 
allusion to a Messiah, or to any national deliverance (see notes on 
the passages relating to kings). 

4. The only national element in the Book is the mention of 
sacrifice, which occurs five times ; of the occurrences only three 
(i5 s 2i :! -- : ) have an ethical tone, the others (7" 17 ) being merely 
allusions to feasting in connection with sacrifices. There is no 
mention of temple or priests. As to a supposed reference to 
tithes in 3" see note on that verse. Obviously the temple-cult is 
recognized, but is not supposed to have a close connection with 
moral life. 

5. The sage speaks in his own name, without reference to divine 
inspiration or to any book as authority. The " law " of which he 
speaks is the law of his own conscience and reason : he does not 
name Moses or the prophets. In some cases (as in (V" 1 - ; " ) he 
appears to depart from the 1 entateuchal legislation. He does 
not mention a collection of sacred books : but this silence is due 
partly to the literary custom of the time, partly to the nature of 
his material : even the author of the H isJoin <>/ St ^nifii, though 
in chs. 10-19 nc follows closely the narrative of the Hexateuch, 
does not name that book. In Proverbs (30" i; ) there are two quo- 


tations, one from \f/ iS " 1 , the other from Dt. 4- 13^, and neither of 
these books is mentioned. The sages were doubtless acquainted 
with the greater part of our Old Testament, but they use its mate 
rial freely as literature, and do not cite it as a Canon of Scripture. * 
Proverbs does not mention a class of scribes or extol learning as 
Ben-Sira does (38 24 -39 u ), but it makes mention of sages, and 
assumes the existence of systematic instruction, in which the study 
of the literature no doubt played an important part. 

6. The eschatology is of the simple and primitive sort that is 
found in the greater part of OT. : Sheol, the abode of all the 
dead, has no moral significance ; there is no judgment after death, 
and the position of men in Sheol has no relation to their moral 
character ; see notes on 2 18 - 19 5" al. The divine judgment is mani 
fested in the last moment of life (rnnK, 5 4 al.}. The idea of ethical 
immortality was either unknown to the sages or was regarded by 
them as unimportant for practical life. 

7. The thought of the greater part of the Book is definitely 
religious, standing in sympathetic and reverent contact with the 
conception of a just and wise divine government of the world. 
The sages are independent thinkers, but refer their wisdom 
ultimately to God. 

C. Philosophical.^ 

i. In agreement with other Wisdom books, and in contrast with 
the rest of OT., Proverbs, in all its parts and especially in I., iden 
tifies virtue with knowledge. Its position is thus sharply distin 
guished from that of the Prophets, the Law, and the Psalmists, in 
which Yahvveh, as national God, is always ready to favor his people 
if he alone be recognized and obeyed. The central idea of the 
Book is " wisdom," which performs all the functions elsewhere in 
OT. ascribed to Yahweh (i 20 - 31 2 : - 22 3 13 - 18 9 22 17 al.}. This wis 
dom is, in parts of the Book, also identified with religion (i 7 al.} 
a point of view proper and necessary for a Jew. But the sage s 
chief interest, particularly in I., is in the intellectual grasp of prac 
tical truth ; in certain places, as in 2~ 8 , an editor has thought it 

* Cf. the manner in which Jeremiah is referred to in Dan. 9-, and the way in 
which the translator of Deu-Sira puts his grandfather in the same category with the 
prophets and other Israelitish writers. 

t Cf. H. Bois, Origiites d. I. philosophic judco-alexandrine, 1890. 


des,rable to introduce a specifically religions statement into the 
sages picture of the all-sufficiency of wisdom. The r 
coloring in I. and elsewhere is, however, not to be referred ^to a 
desire on the part of the philosophers to placate the orthodox 
party (Oort), but must be regarded as a natural expression of the 
view of the authors of the Hook. 

The conception of the world as a physical and moral cosmos or 

orderly arrangement is found, at least in germinal form, in such 

>r. passages as Gen. i, ^ I04 . But the conception is far dis- 

tmcter in Pr. 8, in which wisdom is said to control all human 

society and to have been present at the creation of the world * 

Wisdom in Proverbs is a human quality, generally (in II -V ) 
regulating the ordinary affairs of men, but sometimes (in I ) 
appearing in the larger character of sovereign of life. It is then 
only a step to the still broader conception of her in (S--- !1 ) as a 
divine attribute, as in fact the chief attribute of Cod. How this 
scheme of different conceptions is to be unified is not explained 
by the sages, and we cannot be sure that they had worked out a 
self-consistent philosophical system. But the idea of "wisdom" 
appears to be parallel to the OT. idea of "spirit" a life com 
mon to God and man, breathed into man by God treated ordi 
narily in its human relations and activities merely, but, in the 
highest flights of the philosophical imagination (as in oh. 8), re 
garded as universal and all-controlling. The conception is not 
"pantheistic " in the modern sense of that term, but is an ethical 
and philosophical expansion and purification of the old tribal and 
national idea of the unity of the deity with his people. Cf. \VS. 7. 
The question whether the representation of Wisdom in ch. 8 is a 
personification or a hypostatization is discussed in the notes. 

2. An expression of philosophical skepticism appears to occur 
in 3 o-- 4 (Agur) on which see notes; the doubt expressed relates 
to man s capacity to understand God. The parallels are all in the 
Wisdom books (Job 3, f- 19" a/., Keel. 3"). Klsewhere in OT. 
(as in $ 139) the greatness of Clod is treated as a ground of awe 
and reverence; here it is regarded as a reason for refraining from 
attempts to define him. 


D. Comparison with Other Books. 

1. In its ethical code Proverbs agrees in the main with the 
more advanced Jewish canonical and uncanonical books (the Pirkc 
Aboth is especially important) and with the New Testament ; in 
the later period of Jewish history there had come to be a gener 
ally recognized moral code.* In some cases (as in 6 32 ~ 35 ) Proverbs 
modifies the old law for the better, and its prohibition of revenge 
(24 17 - 29 25 21 ) not only stands in striking contrast with such senti 
ments as that of i// 109, but appears to be unique in OT. (it is not 
exactly paralleled in Lev. ig 18 \\i i2O 7 ). 

2. Its religious point of view is in general (in respect to God, 
sin, salvation, Messianic expectation, the future life) the same as 
that of the other Wisdom books except Wisdom of Solomon; but 
it is less national than Ben-Sira (see, for example, BS. 24), and 
differs from our book of Job in that it makes no mention of sub 
ordinate supernatural beings (cf. Job i 6 3 8 5* 26 12 - 13 33 23 ) ; WS. 
is much later than Proverbs, and represents a different order of 

3. In its picture of social life it most resembles Ben-Sira | ; 
the two books deal, in fact, with the same sort of society, chiefly 
city life, with its commerce, its feasts, its gossip, its temptations to 
licentiousness, its relaxation of family-ties, its worship of money, 
and its close relations with royalty ; cf., among other passages, 
Pr. 3 20 and BS. 7 12 (slander), Pr. 5. 7 and BS. ^ 2 3 18 - 20 (the har 
lot), Pr. 6 1 - I? 18 and BS. 29 - 10 - 18 (suretyship), Pr. i3 24 and 
BS. 30 L12 (chastisement of children), Pr. n 4 22 and BS. 5 8 
(riches), Pr. i 4 31 22 1G and BS. 4 1 (the poor), Pr. i 4 a5 2 8 15 and 
BS. io 3 (kings), Pr. is 20 3O 11 - 17 and BS. 3 1 - 16 (conduct toward 
parents), Pr. i8 24 and BS. 6 7 - 1(i (friends), Pr. 20 1 2^ and BS. I9 1 
3 1 27 " 30 (wine), Pr. 2O U and BS. 27- (buying and selling), Pr. 23 1 " 8 
and BS. 32 1 " 11 (conduct at feasts). Ben-Sira goes more into detail 
than Proverbs in the description of social relations, but the social 

* Ben-Sira sometimes falls below the general level ; on this point and on the 
ethics of Prov. and BS. see C. G. Montefiore in Jewish Quart. Rev. II. (1889- 
1890), pp. 430 ff. 

t And we may add the Syriac Menander, given in Land s Artec data Syriaca, 
Vol. I. ; see Frankenberg s article in ZATW., 1895. 


organization contemplated appears to be the same in the twc 

4- More generally, as regards the moral and religious point of 
view and a.m of the books of the Wisdom group : Job is a pas 
sionate discussion of the question whether the divine government 
of the world is just: Proverbs and Bcn-Sira ignore this question 
and confine themselves to cheery practical suggestions for the 
conduct of everyday-life; Ecclesiastes treats life as a logically and 
ethically insoluble riddle, and advises a moderate and wise enjoy 
ment of its good things ; Wisdom of Solomon dwells on eternal 
wisdom, the architect and inspirer of the world, as the guide of 
life, and on the hope of happy immortality as the consolation amid 
earthly trials. Proverbs and Ben-Sin* thus form a separate sub 
group, devoting themselves to practical morals in contrast with 
the speculative element in the other books. 


i. Various authors are named in the titles: to Solomon are 
ascribed chs. io 1 -22 1(! , 25-29, and apparently chs. 1-9 (though the 
title in i 1 may be intended to refer to the whole book), to "the 
sages" 22 17 -2 4 -- and 24*"", to Agur 30^ (and possibly but not 
probably other parts of ch. 30), to the Mother of King Lemuel 

- - 

No OT. titles are in themselves authoritative in the sense that 
they can be accepted without reference to the material involved. 
The name "Moses" stands for legislators of all periods; no 
psalm or other production ascribed by the tradition to David can 
be assigned him without examination of its contents ; large parts 
of the books of Amos, Isaiah, Micah, Zephaniah, Jeremiah, and 
Zechariah were certainly not written by the prophets whose names 
they bear, and Jonah and Daniel had nothing to do with the com 
position of the books called after them. The name "Solomon" 
in titles is of equally doubtful import. The fact that he is said to 
be the author of Proverbs, Canticles, Ecclesiastes, and i// 72. 127 * 
shows that the Jewish tradition came to regard him as the ideal of 

* To which somewhat later were added \Visdom ,<f .V/Vw.v/ and / .,,;/w.r of Sol 


wisdom and a writer of idealizing non-liturgical poetry,* and 
ascribed to him indiscriminately everything of this sort. If the 
titles in Canticles and Ecclesiastes cannot be accepted as authori 
tative, neither can those in Proverbs be so regarded. And if little 
or no weight is to be attached to i 1 (as is now generally held), 
the same thing must hold of lo 1 and 25 1 . As to the latter title it 
is sometimes said that so definite a statement (namely, that prov 
erbs of Solomon were edited by scholars of Hezekiah s time) 
must have an historical basis. But still more definite statements 
are prefixed to certain obviously late psalms ascribed to David 
(see, for example, $ 51-60), and the history of the Prophetic and 
historical writings makes it improbable that the collection and 
editing of literary material began so early as the reign of Heze- 

Agur and Lemuel s Mother are shadowy figures of whom little 
of a helpful nature can be said ; see notes on 30 1 3I 1 . With " the 
sages " the case is somewhat different ; the term specifies not an 
individual, but a class, and, since it is apparently derived from the 
nature of the material, so far carries with it its own justification ; 
but from it in itself we get no more chronological aid than we 
should get in the criticism of the Psalter from the statement that 
the book was composed by " psalmists." Whether the ascription 
to " sages " is probable must be determined by an examination of 
the contents of the sections in question. 

In the body of the book of Proverbs there is no mention of any 
historical person or event from which a date can be drawn. Ithicl 
and Ucal (30 ) appear to be corrupt forms, the attempt of Geiger 
to find a King Alcimus in 30"* is unsuccessful, and the absence of 
historical allusions elsewhere in the Book is intelligible from the 
nature of the material. 

For the determination of origin and date we must, therefore, 
have recourse to internal data. 

2. The following facts appear to point to the postexilian period 
as the time of origination of the Book.f 

The tacit assumption of monotheism can hardly belong to an 

* * 72 appears to have been referred to him because it gives the picture of a 
splendid monarch, and i// 127 because of his fame as builder of the Temple, 
t Cf. Stade and Holtzmann, GVI., II., pp. 292 ff, 



earlier time. Kzekiel (!/. 6. 8. 23 a/.) declares that idolatry \v;.. 
rampant in Israel down to the destruction of Jerusalem by the 
Chaldeans, and its existence more than a century later is probably 
vouched for by Zech. 13-.* It may be said that the sages, as mor 
alists, might ignore purely religious errors, even though they were 
as common as in the preexilian period; but astral worship is re 
ferred to in Job 3I 26 - 27 , and it is hardly likely that in a book of so 
wide a range as that of Proverbs there should be no hint of a 
usage that would have been the destruction of the " fear of 

The absence of characteristic national traits points in the same 
direction. The terms "Israel, Israel s covenant with Yahweh, 
temple, priest, prophet " (see note on 2 9 |S ), all common in the 
Prophetic writings, do not occur in Proverbs. These expressions 
are found in postexilian writings, and their absence in Proverbs is, 
therefore, not merely a matter of date ; but it is difficult to under 
stand how an Israelitish ethical and religious writer of the preex 
ilian time, whatever the literary form of his work, could refrain 
from mentioning them. The same remark holds of other religious 
ideas referred to above ( 5, B). The fact that the term "law." 
which (whether priestly or Prophetic) in preexilian writings always 
means the command of Yahweh, here denotes the instruction of 
sages is significant. As for the national name "Yahweh," frequent 
in Proverbs, it occurs in Bcn-Sira, and we must assume that it 
was in common use among the Jews down to the second century 
H.C.f In a word, if for the name Yahweh we substitute "Cod," 
there is not a paragraph or a sentence in Proverb* which would 
not be as suitable for any other people as for Israel. This non- 
national form of thought belongs to a sort of culture which did 
not exist among the Jews till they were scattered throughout the 
world and came under Persian and Creek influence. 

The social life depicted in l^niverbs does not bear the marks of 

* Xecli. i-S and M.ilachi bring no accusation of polytheism against their contem 
poraries ; perhaps idolatry, licid under in the period of reconstruction, shuucd 
itself at the later time represented by Xech. 13-. It could not, however, have been 
very prominent or dangerous after the exile. 

t When the Jews began to give up the utterance of the name Yahweh, and to 
substitute for it Adonay and other terms, is uncertain. 


Old Israel. While polygamy is recognized as legal or is assumed 
in an exilian code (Lev. i8 u ), here monogamy is taken for 
granted. Agricultural pursuits are mentioned (3 a/.), but the 
chief attention is given to city life with its special occupations and 
temptations (see $ 5). There are numerous and emphatic warn 
ings against malicious gossip, going security, greed of money, noc 
turnal robbery, murder, and unchastity vices and faults which, 
though possible in any tolerably organized community, were spe 
cially prominent in the postexilian cities : on the last-named vice, 
to which so much space is given in chs. 1-9, see notes on 2 W 5* a/. 
The system of education assumed as existing is of a much more 
advanced sort than that indicated in Dt. 6. The frequent men 
tion of kings as a class in the world, and as persons whom the 
private citizen might meet socially (see 23* -. and other references 
in 5 ) , belongs to an order of things foreign to the older life (cf. 
Dt. ij 14 - 20 Isa. ii 1 " 5 al.) ; the best commentary on it is found in 
the pictures of royal life given in Josephus and similar histories. 

The philosophical conceptions referred to above ($ 5, C) are 
out of place in any preexilian century or during the exile. They 
manifestly belong to the time when the Jews came into close intel 
lectual contact with the non-Semitic world. It has been supposed 
that they were derived from Persia, but this is hardly probable if 
we may judge from the extant Persian sacred books : wisdom 
plays no such prominent part in the Avesta as it plays in Prtrcerbs; 
in the Gathas, it is true, various qualities are personified, but 
among these it is wisdom to which least importance is attached, 
and the Avesta is in general more ecclesiastical than philosophical. 
In the West * it is only in Greece that we find that identification 
of knowledge and virtue which is characteristic of the Jewish 
Wisdom literature a trait which in Proi erbs is especially prom 
inent in chs. 1-9, but appears also throughout the Book. The 
Jews seem not to have become acquainted with Greek philosophy 
before the conquest of Alexander. 

3. The same date (postexilian) is indicated by the use of the 
terms " wisdom " and " wise " in OT. More than half of the oc- 

* The Indian systems may be left out of consideration ; there is no good histor 
ical ground for supposing a Hindoo influence on Western Asia as early as the 
third centurv B.C. 

currences 01 tr.ese trrms ire lounc ::. tr.e 
the other books except in half a dozen : - _ 
psalms i no philosophical attaches to them. In the histor 
ical and ProTjhetical writing thev r e:\-r to mechanical or artbtir 
skill (Ex. 5_: ; Isa. 40- i Cnr. -j- j, cleverr.e- in oriinarv 2 
(2 Sam. 15 14-1. political sagacity (Gen. 41"- lr.. r I-:,. 3 io :; 

< Ex. 7 - Dan. : >. or reneral intelligence Hos. 14 1-a. i i-j. 
In Prcrfrf-j and the other V>";sdom book: they relate to a definite 
class of sare^ -R-hose function is the pursuit of universal moral and 
relirlous wisdom men who. unlike the pror,hets. lav no cla 

wi:h suspicion on the contemporarv " dse men." whose wisdom 
appears to he contrasted with the true ethical kr. ,".ded_ e of ^"oh- 

and competent teacners ,: tn:s .:no" e. I. .ere occurreu. oo- 
w;^e men. an . t a v 

tion of the unity of the ^roup of Wisdom books / ; . Pr^-crl:, 
E;n-S:ra, :;. -: -:a-t>:;. 11 : : : 

society. Tne similarity bet-veen /-r- : -r ; an 1 /.V;:-.SV>j 


Prophetical books suggests that his affinities, intellectual, moral, 
and religious, were with the sages, and that he belonged to their 
period. When we consider the uniqueness of the Wisdom group 
and the substantial mutual identity of the books composing it, it 
is difficult to avoid the conclusion that they all sprang from one 
intellectual and religious tendency, and that they belong to the 
same cultural period. Three of them (J3S., Eccl, WS.) are cer 
tainly of the second and first centuries B.C., and the other two 
cannot be very far removed in time. 

4. It may be possible to obtain a more definite date for Prov 
erbs by comparing the Wisdom books one with another. A two 
fold division of these books may be made, according to the point 
of comparison. In regard to speculative thought they fall into 
two sub-groups : Job, Eccl., WS., discuss the question of the justice 
of the divine government of the world ; Prov. and BS. ignore this 
question. In regard to literary form and general religious tone 
there are the sub-groups : Job, Prov., BS., which agree in rhyth 
mical form, in the conception of the righteous and the wicked, and 
in the view of the future life ; and Eccl., WS., which depart from 
the old literary form, and attack and defend the new doctrine of 

Though arguments from diction have to be used with great 
caution, the following statement of the occurrences of 24 ethical 
terms in Job, Prov., and Eccl may be of value, it being borne in 
mind that in extent the three books are to one another about as 
35:32:13.* Of the terms involving the idea of wisdom the 
stem cm is most frequent in Eccl, somewhat less so in Prov., 
much less \& Job ; the adj. p: is found 9 times in Prov., once 
in Eccl. not at all in /<>/>; of substantives nW (= wisdom) is 
peculiar to Prov. (chs. 1-9) ; n:s is frequent in Prov. (mostly 
in I.), much less frequent in Job, wanting in Eccl; nin is com 
mon in Prov., much less common in Eccl, still less \\\ Job ; n;2n 
is not infrequent in Prov., rare in Job, not found in Eccl ; HUIJ 
and mrn (more general terms) are equally common in Job and 

* It would be desirable to include lien- Sir a in the comparison; but this will not 
be possible till we have more of its Hebrew text. Cf. the list of Heb. words given 
in Cowley and Neubaucr s Ecclesiasticus (BS. 39 15 -49 U ) ; the list, however, needs 
revision. Ben-Sir a appears to contain more late words than Proverbs. 

ORIC.IX A.\n xxv 

Prov., and arc lacking in Reel. Of words expressing / 
frequent in Prov. and I .ee!., and wanting in Job; "TS is common 
in Prov., very rare in Job, lacking in EC T is peculiar to 
/Vc>< . The verb S"-~ .v/// occurs 8 times in the poem oi\/W<. 
once in Zur/., not at all in /Vr ., the participle is not infrequent 
in Reel., less frequent in Prov., lacking in Job, the substantive is 
about equally common in Job and Prov., and is wanting in Reel. 
Of terms for instruction the noun r.nrr, is found only in / n 
the verb of this stem is about equally common in Job and Prov., 
and is lacking in EccL; the stem -r is rare in Job, frequent in 
Prov., not found in EccL Of words signifying way in the sense 
of coin/net h:"K occurs only in / J /YT ., T~ is common in/ / and 
Prov. and rare in Reel., while rr.K and nir;, about equally com 
mon in Job and Prov., are lacking in Reel. The terms -icn and 
jr, kinJness and favor, are not uncommon in / /w., but the iirst 
is rare in Job and wanting in Reel., while the second is rare in 
Reel, and wanting in Job. !TS:E command is found 10 times in 
/>;w., twice in /:Vf/., once in /<;/>, but fora n times in / J /w., once 
in /<;/y, ami not at all in Reel. Words = ethically crooked do not 
occur in AY<7. / tt pir is common and "rrs: rare in / J /v<-., and both 
terms are very rare in Job (on the other hand r,"J, found several 
times in Job, does not occur in Prov. and /:Vr/.). It will be ob 
served that, so far as this list goes, EccL is nearer than Job to 
Prov. in certain terms of the more strictly scientific vocabulary 
/-._ --.- ... r y~ } K-2, ^n), in general avoiding terms that 
have a religions, ecclesiastical, or hortatory coloring; / / , on the 
other hand, is nearer Prov. in the diction which the latter shares 
with the Psalter. We may thence probably infer that the philo 
sophical conception of wisdom is less developed in Job than in 
Proverbs, and that the former book is earlier than the latter. The 
same conclusion seems to be suggested by a comparison of the 
representation of wisdom in Job 28 (in which wisdom h 
be undiscoverablc by man, but is identified, as is also often clone- 
in Prov.,vtih obedience to Cod) with that in Pr. 
wisdom is almost identified with (lot! himself).* 


The general inference from these considerations is that most of 
Proverbs stands in time between Job and Ben-Sim. The date 
of the latter book is about B.C. 190. For Job the similarity be 
tween its historical milieu and that of Isa. 53 Mai. 3 H - " suggests a 
time not earlier than c. B.C. 400, and the non-national and specu 
lative tone of the book points to a date fifty or a hundred years 
still later.* We thus have c. B.C. 300 as the upper limit for Prov 
erbs ; for the lower limit see the following paragraph. In this 
statement of the relation between Job and Proverbs there is one 
point that may seem to make a difficulty. It is held by some 
critics that the sceptical tone of the former must belong to a later 
period than the calm unspeculative attitude of the latter, which 
accords with the position of Job s Friends. But this point, very 
interesting in its suggestions, seems not to be decisive for the 
chronological relation of the two books. It is obvious, on the one 
hand, from Malachi that the sceptical movement began as early 
as B.C. 40o,f and, on the other hand, from Ben-Sim it is no less 
obvious that the unsceptical attitude was retained as late as 
B.C. 200. What we have to conclude, therefore, is that the two 
points of view continued to be held side by side for a consider 
able period, and it is perhaps an accident that we have only hints 
of scepticism (as, for example, in Agur) between Job and Eccle- 
siastes. And that there was a continuous development of scepti 
cal thought is made probable by a comparison of the tones of Job 
and Ecclesiastes the one passionate and profoundly religious, 
the other indifferent and feebly religious ; these different phases 
appear to indicate widely different periods of culture. The differ 
ence between Job and Proverbs is one not merely of time, but of 
point of view as well. We must assume that the Jewish sages 
of the four centuries preceding the beginning of our era were of 
two general classes, the one content to consider the questions 
of practical everyday life, the other not satisfied with anything 
less than a solution of the great ethical and religious question 

affect the view above expressed. Job 28 is, however, now out of place and inter- 
ruptive, and may well belong in the same period with Pr. 1-9. 

* On the date of Job cf. the commentaries of Davidson and Budde, and the 
articles in Hastings Dictionary of the Bible, Cheyne s Cyclopaedia Biblica, and 
HerzogS. f And cf. Jer. 12! 20". 


of the \vorld the question of the justice of the divine govern 
ment of men. The first line is continued in / /vrv/YV, certain 
psalms, and Hen-Sim, the second in Job, certain psalms, / . <Y/,X, 
and U isi/. of Solomon. In these parallel lines the chronological 
relations of the various writings may be measurably determined by 
such considerations as are presented above. 

5. It remains to ask whether the internal indications enable us to 
fix the chronological order of the various parts of the liook. There 
is an obvious division into three parts, I., II. -IV., and V., and of 
these the central part appears to form the kernel of the Book. 

a. Taking first this central part, we may begin by separating 
HI (22 l ~-24), which clearly differs from its context. It consists 
of quatrains, with synonymous parallelism, which form short horta 
tory discourses. It assumes a system of instruction by sages, and is 
marked by ethical inwardness and depth. It indicates, therefore, 
an advanced stage of reflection and teaching. In its rhythmical 
and strophic form it resembles Ben-Sim. Its two parts, 22 - 
24-- and 24 2:i "" , though separate collections, are so nearly akin in 
form and thought that they must be considered to be products 
of the same period and the same circle of sages. 

b. The remainder of the central part is composed of two sorts 
of aphorisms, i. In chs. 10-15 and half of chs. 28. 29 we find an 
titheses, restrained and lapidary in style, expressing general moral 
sentiments, with frequent mention of the divine name and of the 
terms " righteous" and "wicked." 2. In chs. 16-22 " 25-27 and 
half of chs. 28. 29 there is a predominant employment of compari 
sons and other single sentences, the style is more flowing than in 
the first group (10-15, etc-.), the material is more varied, and 
there is much less frequent use of the terms above-mentioned. 

The question of chronological priority between these two sorts 
of aphorism is not easy to decide. The compressed and vigorous 
antithesis may seem to different persons to be earlier or later than 
the more flowing form. It is probable that the two do not stand 
far apart in time, but the more human and pointed tone of tin- 
second group accords more closely with the style of Ben-Sin 


This analysis indicates that there once existed various small 
bodies of aphorisms (in oral or written form), and that these were 
variously combined into small books. They were all the products 
of cultivated ethical reflection, though part of their material was 
doubtless old. Thus the sub-section chs. 10-15 appears to have 
been a separate book of antitheses, and a similar work was used 
by the compiler of chs. 28. 29, and, more sparingly, by other 
editors. We have another aphoristic book in 16-2 2 10 , and still 
another in chs. 25-27 and parts of chs. 28. 29. From portions of 
these works an editor compiled our section io -22 lfi , and from 
other portions the section chs. 25-29 was independently put 
together. All this material was regarded by the tradition as 
Solomonic, and, when the sections were combined, the editor, 
aware of a difference, referred the formation of the second to the 
scholars of Hezekiah s time (see note on 25 ). This statement 
of the editor proves not the chronological priority of io 1 -22 ic , 
but only that this latter collection was made before the other. 
Smaller collections, such as the Book of Fools (in 26 1 12 ) are 
referred to in the notes, and are further indicated in the lists of 
repetitions given in 3. Throughout the central part (chs. 10- 
29) the marks of editorial hands are visible. 

c. The first main division of the Book (chs. 1-9, except 6 T " J 
9 7 " 12 ) appears to be later than the central part. Such later date is 
suggested by its precise pedagogic form, its philosophic concep 
tions (ch. 8), and the prominence it gives to certain sins (robbery 
and unchastity). The question might be raised whether the sec 
tion is a unit whether it does not divide itself naturally into two 
parts, one (ch. 8 and parts of chs. 3. 4) philosophical and specula 
tive, the other hortatory and practical. There is, no doubt, such a 
difference in the contents, but it is hardly of a sort to indicate 
duality of authorship : the general conception of wisdom is the 
same throughout, and the practical hortatory tone is not confined 
to the distinctively pedagogic paragraphs. The relation between 
the section and the Book of Job has already been referred to. 
The two have the same rhythmic form (synonymous parallelism, 
and frequency of quatrain arrangement) ; but a similar agreement 
exists between Proverbs, many psalms, and Wisdom of Solomon, 
and is of no use for the determination of relative priority in time 


between these books. The fact that the pessimism of Job is not 
found in Proverbs is referred to above (in paragraph 4 of >J 6). 
It is held by some critics that in Job 15 there is a direct allusion 
to I rov. 8""" 1 , that Klipha/, asks Job whether he is the personified 
Wisdom there described.* P>ut this view rests on an improbable 
interpretation of the couplet. In the first line Kliphaz asks 
whether Job was the first man created, assuming, apparently, that 
the first man stood very near the counsels of God and was en 
dowed with special wisdom (cf. \\) The parallelism (synonymous 
throughout the chapter) suggests that the second line is identical 
in meaning with the first, and that the expression " before the 
hills" is a rhetorical synonym of "in hoar antiquity." Or, if the 
two lines be not mutually equivalent, the second must be regarded 
as a heightening of the first, with more cutting sarcasm : were 
you created first of men? or, forsooth, before the world?" There 
is no obvious allusion to a primeval Wisdom, or to any cosmogonic 
history (and v. 8 relates not to the past, but to the speaker s pres 
ent). Finally, even if the second line be supposed to refer to the 
same fact that is mentioned in Prov. 8-" , it does not appear why 
Job, rather than Proverbs, should be considered the borrower ; 
the conception in the latter book is certainly the more highly 
developed. And, in general, the conception of wisdom seems to 
be more developed in Prov. 1-9 than in Job ; in the latter book 
(omitting ch. 28, which, on exegetical grounds, is probably to be 
regarded as an interpolation) wisdom is the reflection of sages, 
handed down orally, on one great question a question which 
has its roots in the Prophetic writings ; in Prov. 1-9 wisdom is 
the guide of life, with organized instruction, and in one passage 
(ch. 8) there is a philosophical personification which approaches 
nearer to WS. 7 than to Job 28.7 Cf. notes on 30 . 

The paragraphs 6 1 " 6 M1 9 7 " 1 - belong partly in the same category 
with III., partly with V. 


d. Chs. 30. 31, a collection of unconnected fragments, have the 
appearance of an appendix. The cool agnosticism of Agur re 
minds us of Kohelcfli rather than of Job. The artificial tetradic 
form is probably late ; see note on 30" ff. The terms wise and 
wisdom either relate to common-sense sagacity (3Q- 4 3i~ ; ), or when 
they denote philosophical depth, are treated with contempt (30"). 
On the strange titles in 3O l 31 see notes on these verses. 

The history of the formation of the Book appears to be some 
what as follows : Out of certain current collections of aphorisms 
were first put together our subsections chs. 10-15, I 6-22 10 , 25-27, 
and 28. 29, and from these by different editors the sections 10-2 2 lti 
and 25-29 were made, the editor of the latter being aware of the 
existence of the former.* The two may have received substan 
tially their present form between B.C. 350 and B.C. 300, the second 
a little later than the first. During the next half-century the sec 
tion III. (22 17 -24) was produced, and a book of aphorisms was 
formed by combining II. and IV. and inserting III. between them ; 
it is not apparent how this position came to be assigned III., but, 
as 25 ("these also are proverbs of Solomon") seems to presup 
pose xo 1 ("proverbs of Solomon"), and III. is referred not to 
Solomon but to the " sages," it is likely that it was added after II. 
and IV. had been combined ; it is possible, however, that it was 
first attached to II., the collection IV., with its title unchanged, 
being then added. The opening section (omitting 6 1 " 19 9 7 " 12 ) may 
have been composed about the middle of the third century B.C., 
and was combined by its author (or by some contemporary editor) 
with 1 1. -IV. ; the introduction (i"~ 7 ) is couched in the technical 
terms of the schools, and is probably the work of the author of 
the section ; he seems also to have prefixed the general title (i 1 ). 
The additions to the section (6 ~ 19 9 7 ~ 12 )> which resemble III., V., 
and II., may be due to the final redactor, or to a very late scribe. 
Finally the work was completed by the addition of the fragments 
contained in chs. 30, 31, the completion falling in the second 
century B.C. Succeeding copyists introduced into the text a num 
ber of errors, not only in words and phrases, but also in arrange 
ment of lines and couplets. 

It is possible, however, that the title in 25! was inserted by the final redactor. 


6. The linguistic phenomena of the Hook are in accord with 
these dates : while the style, especially in the earlier parts, does 
not differ substantially from that of the classic " period (which 
maybe taken to include centuries 8-5 n.c.), there are passages, 
chiefly in the later parts, which show a nearer approach to the 
later usage. It is to be borne in mind, of course, that the vocabu 
lary and syntax are probably to some extent affected by the nature 
of the material : in such a work there would naturally be a large 
number of philosophical terms, antl the more popular aphorisms 
would use words which, though not new, might not be found else 
where.* Such expressions may characterize the individual style 
of the Book, but do not determine its date. It is to be noted also 
that a certain number of peculiarities are to be set down as scribal 
errors. These deductions being made, there still remains a small 
number of expressions which appear to belong to the later usage. 
Some of these (as -i in 31-) are Aramaisms, others are late- 
Hebrew ; reference is made to these in the critical notes. Ben- 
Si ra, so far as we can judge from the part of its Hebrew text 
which we have (chs. 39 lr -49 u ), contains a greater number of late 
expressions than Frorerbs a fact which we might expect from 
its later date and its fuller and freer treatment of matters of every 
day life. It is doubtful whether any Arabisms occur in Frovcrbs ; 
the words which have been so explained may all be otherwise 
satisfactorily accounted for. There are no Persian or (ireek words. 


i. The text is not in good condition ; errors are more frequent 
in II.-V. than in I., the simple style of the latter having saved it 
to some extent from scribal misunderstandings and misrepresenta 
tions. The mistakes are to be set down partly to the ignorance 
of copyists, partly to the freedom which they allowed themselves 
in dealing with this book as with other OT. books ; we find much 


the same state of things in Samuel, Jsaia/i, I^ckicI, and Psalms. 

It does not appear that changes were made in /V< 

interests of theological opinion or from a sense of propriety or de- 


cency (causa honoris, c. reverentiac, etc.).* Such changes were 
made in other OT. books ; the immunity of Proverbs is due in 
part to its untheological character, in part to the fact that it was 
looked on as less sacred and authoritative than the Pentateuch 
and the Prophetic writings. 

2. The extant Ancient Versions of Proverbs are the Septuagint 
(from which were made the Coptic and the Hexaplar Syriac), the 
Peshitta Syriac, the Targum, fragments of the later Greek transla 
tions (Aquila, Symmachus, Theodotion, etc.), and the Latin of 

Of these the oldest and, for the criticism of the text, the most 
valuable is the Septuagint. It represents in general an older text 
than that of the received Hebrew tradition ; f but its value as a 
presentation of the old Jewish aphoristic thought and as a critical 
instrument is impaired by the corruptions it has suffered and by 
certain peculiarities in the mode of translation. In a number of 
cases it offers good suggestions for the restoration of the original 
Hebrew. In not a few instances the translator does not under 
stand the Hebrew. \ He sometimes departs from the literal 
rendering in order to give the translation a smoother and more 
idiomatic Greek form, sometimes also in order to obtain a better 
antithesis or a more appropriate thought. Possibly he is some 
times influenced by the desire to reproduce the later Pharisaic 
orthodoxy, || but this is not clear; there is no trace of distinctively 
Christian ideas. The Greek book is somewhat longer than the 
Hebrew : some Hebrew couplets and lines it omits, but it includes 
much that the Hebrew text has not. The omissions usually indi 
cate a Hebrew scribal plus. The additions are sometimes in the 

* Geiger, Urschrift, pp. 378, 400, 403, finds an example of such change in 7 18 , 
and Hitzig in 3O 31 , on which see critical notes. 

f The translation may have been made as early as 100 B.C. 

J Such ignorance is found abundantly elsewhere in the Septuagint, but is here 
especially obvious a fact which may be due in part (as Frankenberg suggests) to 
the absence of a good exegetical tradition ; Proverbs was not so much read and 
commented on as some other books. It is not certain that one man translated the 
whole of Proverbs. 

\ Cf. Jager, Observations in Prov. Sal. vers. alex., 1788. This, however, hardly 
warrants us in supposing (Frankenberg) that the translation was made for a non- 
Jewish public. 

|| This hypothesis is carried to excess by Heidenheim. 


form of doublets, but oftcner contain entirely new matter, which 
the Greek translator has either himself composed, or, as is more 
probable, has inserted from current collections of proverbs. They 
appear sometimes to be based on a Hebrew original, sometimes to 
have been written originally in Greek. There is rarely ground for 
supposing of any one of them that it formed part of the original 
Book of Prorcrbs ; but they show that our Hebrew Hook is only 
a selection out of a great mass of material then current, and they 
thus corroborate the view of date given above. An unsettled con 
dition of the early Hebrew MSS. of Proverbs is possibly indicated 
by the Septuagint order of sub-sections in III., IV., V., which (if 
we designate the chapters as in the Hebrew) are arranged thus : 
22 ir -2 4 --; 30 -"; 2_r ! - 34 ; 3 o u - :!;; ; 31 - ; 25-29; 3i" u;i1 .* From 
the point of view of similarity of material this arrangement is 
manifestly inferior to that of our Hebrew text it breaks up III. 
and ch. 31 by the interposition of alien matter, and places IV. far 
from its natural connection. But it does not follow that the mal- 
arrangement is due to the caprice of a Greek translator.! The 
subsections composing III.-V. must once have circulated as sepa 
rate treatises, and may have been combined in different ways by 
Jewish scribes or editors. What we know of the procedure of 
Greek translators elsewhere in OT. (for example, in Jeremiah ] 
does not favor the supposition that they acted capriciously in this 

The Coptic Version is useful for the control of the Greek. It 
sometimes offers material not found in our Greek MSS. ; all such 
cases must be judged by the critical rules applied to the Greek 
Version. \ 

The present Peshitta Syriac text of Prorcrbs has a perplexing 
mixture of readings, agreeing sometimes with %] against &, some 
times with (> against %} ; the more important readings are given 
in the Gritical Notes. As it follows %} in general in material and 

* Cf. the Greek arrangement of "Jcreiii 
the modern attempts at rearranging l : .cclcsia>ta. 

t So Strack and Frankenherg. The latter observes that the Greek arrangement 
divides the latter part of the Hook into two Solomonie collections, with only two 
titles (lo 1 25 ). This may have been the principle of arrangement, but the trans 
lator may have found it in his Hebrew manuscript. 

j Cf. Hickell, who makes much use of the Coptic. 


arrangement, it is probable that it is based on the Hebrew ; at 
the same time we know too little of the history of Syriac transla 
tions to be able to say whether or how far the present text has 
been corrected from the Hebrew. On the other hand, the nature 
of the agreements between S and ( favors the view that the former 
has in certain passages followed the latter ; whether, in that case, 
this rendering from the Greek was the work of the original Syriac 
translator or of a later reviser is a difficult question, though the 
former supposition seems the more probable. If we add to all 
this that the Syriac translation is often free, it is obvious that it 
must be used with caution in the criticism of the Hebrew or the 

The Targum, as is now generally held, is based on the Syriac, 
though in a number of cases it follows the Hebrew. 

Jerome for the most part follows the Masoretic text closely, and 
gives little material for getting back of it. Where he follows the 
rendering of ( or inserts from it couplets which are not in ffc|, he 
probably retains the older Latin text, which was made from the 
Greek. He represents the Jewish exegesis of his time, but is 
rarely helpful in those cases in which the Hebrew is peculiarly 
difficult or obscure. 


According to Rabbinical authorities f the reception of the Book 
into the Canon was for a time opposed on the ground of its con 
tradictory statements (26 4 " ) and its too highly colored descrip 
tions (7 7 " 20 ). The latter class of objections seems to have arisen 
early, if any chronological conclusion can be drawn from the state 
ment of the tradition that they were set aside by the " men of the 
Great Synagogue." The solution of the question appears to have 
been found in the allegorical interpretation of the passage in ch. 7. 
The Talmud says nothing of any difficulty in connection with 
Agur. The doubts concerning Proverbs soon passed away, and 
its value was universally recognized. It is quoted or used in NT. 
frequently (over twenty times) and in the Talmud (especially in 

* On details of 5 and C see J. A. Dathe, 1764, in Rosenmiiller s Optisctila, 1814, 
Th. Noldeke, in Archiv f. wiss. erforschung d. AT., ii., and Pinkuss articles in 
Z.-1TW., 1894. 

t S/tab. 30 b, Aboth Nathan, Cap. i. 

Pirkc Aboth}, is cited abundantly by the early Christian writers, 
has always been highly esteemed for its practical wisdom, and a 
number of its aphorisms have become household words. 

On Text and Versions. 

I uoroi H N, Epfj-eveia. l\ tat d. tc.\U d. Ircrc d. Proi crbes, 

( . J. L. YOCF.L, 1768 (in Schukens). 1890. 

J. ( -. JACKK, Ol>ici"T. in Pror. Sal. ( . HicKr.i.i., Kril. bcarbciluu^ d. 
-crs. alcxandrinam, 1788. Prorcrbicn (in ll ioicr /.citschr. /. 

d. Kundc d. Moi-cnlijnd t s}, 1891. 
II. I INKT.SS, Die syrische itcbcrsct- 


scln-if!}, 1865, 1866. L". \F,sri, K, art. Bibeliibersetzn)icn t in 

DYSERINCK, Kritische Scholien (in ] Icr/.o^ s Real-Encykl? (and puh- 

Theol. Tijdschrifl}, 1883. lished separately). 

II. OOKT, Sprcukcn I. -IX. (in Th, Remarks on text in commentaries 

Tijthchr.}, 1885. 

Translations and Commentaries. 

Midrash Mishle, ed. S. Iluher, 1893. II. DKIISCII, /;/,- Sf^riichc Sal.\< nn,-/ i 

SAAIM.VS version, ed. |. Derenbourg, d. aiiffassmig 1111 I liluncd n. .!//</- 

1894 (cf. li. Heller, in REJ., 1898). rasch dar^csldlt it. krithch unier- 

I\ASUI, Lat. transl. by Breithaupt, 1714. sutht, 1885. 

AUEN EZRA,* ed.C. M. Horowit/,, 1884. J. MKKCKUI S, ( </////. in Sit/. r>\>;\, 

The commentaries of Rashi, Aben ete., 1573. 1651. 

Ezra, and Levi ben Gersom are given M. (IKIKK, Proi . re^iuti sapicnlissiini 

also in A. ( ii^ijeius /// Pro- . Sal. Sal., etc., i<S3, i(>9<), 172^. 

Comment, friiiin Rabbinoriun. 1620. C. 15. MKIIAKI.IS (in J. II. Michaelis. 

and are eited in I,. Cahen s f.ii Riblc, I hcriorcs annotationcs in //ti^ii^r.. 



II. EWALD, in his Poet. Biicher 

ter~\ d. Alt. Bundes, 1837, 1867. 
G. R. NOYES, New Translation of the 

Prov., etc., 1846. 
M. STUART, Com /a. on the Book of 

Prov., etc., 1852. 
F. HITZIG, Die Spriiche Sat. s iiber- 

setzt, etc., 1858. 
O. ZOCKLER, Com m. zu d. Spr. Sal. 

(in Lange s Bibelwerk), 1866 (Eng. 

transl., 1870). 
H. F. MUHLAU, DC prov. quac di- 

cuntur Aguri et Lemuclis origine 

atque indole, 1869. 
FRANZ DELITZSCH, Das Sal. Spruch- 

buch, 1873 (Eng. transl. 1875). 

E. RKUSS, in his annotated transl. of 

the Bible, French ed. (La Bible), 

1878, Germ. ed. (Das Alt. Test.), 

W. NOWACK (in Kiirzgef. exeget. 

Handbuch z. AT.), 1883 (revision 

of E. Bertheau, 1847). 
H. L. STRACK (in Strack u. Zockler s 

Kurzgef. Comm. z. AT.), 1888. 
R. F. HORTON (in Expositor s Bible), 

G. WILDEBOER (in Marti s Kurzer 

Hand-Comm.z. AT.), 1897. 

komm. z. AT.), 1898. 

General Works. 

L. DUKES, Introduction to Proverbs in 

Cahen, La Bible, 1847. 
J. F. BRUCH, Weisheitslehre d. He- 

br der, 1851. 
H. Bois, La po csie gnomique chez I. 

Ifebreux et chcz 1. Grecs Solomon 

et Thi-ognis, 1886. 
T. K. CHEYNE, in Job and Solomon, 


C. G. MONTEFIORE, Notes upon the 
date and religious value of the Book 
of Prov. (in Jeiu. Quart. Rev.), 

R. SMEND, Alttcstamentliche religions- 
geschichte, 1893. 

R. PFEIFFER, Die relig.-sitlliche Welt 
anschauung d. Buchcs d. Spriiche, 

Proverbs of Other Ancient Peoples. 

Chinese : F. H. Jenings, Proverbial 

Philosophy of Confucius, 1895; W. 

_ Scarborough, Chinese Proverbs,i% ]<* > . 

Egyptian : T. L. Griffith, art. Egyptian 
Literature, in Library of the World 1 s 
Best Literature. 

Assyrian : M. Jager, Assyr. Rathsel u. 
Sprichivorter, in Bcitrage z. Assyri- 
ologie, 1892. 

Indian: Bohtlingk, Ind. Spriiche; 
Muir, Sanskrit Texts ; M. Williams, 
Indian Wisdom ; P. More, Indian 
Epigrams, 1898 ; C. R. Lanman, 
Indie Epigrams, 1899 ; see also the 

Hitopadec.a, the Panchatantra, and 
the Jatakas. 

Greek : For the aphorisms which go 
under the name of Menander see the 
collections of Meineke and Koch. 

Syrian : The so-called Syriac Menan 
der is given in Land, Anecdota Syr., 
I.; cf. ZATW., 1895. 

As a Semitic parallel we may add 

Arabic : Freytag, Meidani; Fleischer, 
Alt s Spriiche. 

See also L. Dukes, Blumenlese, 
and his Introduction to Proverbs in 
Cahen, La Bible. 




A series of discourses on the excellence of wisdom, with illus 
trations of its principles taken from everyday life. These are 
preceded by a general introduction, before which stands a general 
title. On the date and origin see the Introduction. 

I. contains the title (v. 1 ), an introduction (v.-- 7 ), and two 
discourses (V. S - K| - - IU2;! ). 

1. Title. T/ie proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of 
Israel. The title king of Israel belongs to Solomon. On the 
ascription to Solomon, and on the term proverbs (Heb. mis/tie) as 
name of the book, see the Introduction. The title was probably pre 
fixed by the collector of I., or by the editor of I.-IV., or. possibly, 
by the last compiler. The Heb. word maslial (proverb] probably 
signifies similarity, parallelism (nearly = comparison}, and seems 
to have been used at an early time of all poetry, hardly with 
reference to the form (parallelism of clauses, clause-rhythm, being 
the distinctive formal characteristic of old-Semitic poetry), but. 
probably, with reference to the thought (short distiches made by 
the juxtaposition of related ideas, originally comparisons with 
familiar objects) ;* the men called mas/ialis/s (Xu. 2i J7 ) appear, 
like the Greek rhapsodists and the Arabian raiL is, to have been 
reciters (doubtless also sometimes composers) of narrative and 
descriptive poems. There is no one English equivalent for ma- 


shal it seems to cover the whole ground of Hebrew poetry. It 
may signify a simple folksaying or aphorism (i Sam. io 12 24 H(1 
Ez. i2~ i8 2 ), an allegory (Ez. iy 2 ), an enigmatical saying (Ez. 21 " ), 
a byword (Jer. 24 Dt. 28 37 ), a taunting speech (Isa. i4 4 Hab. 2 ), 
a lament (Mic. 2 4 ), a visional or apocalyptic discourse (Nu. 23 
24 1 " ), a didactic discourse (i/ 49- 7$), an argument or plea (Job, 
29 ).* In the Book of Proverbs it is either an aphorism (10-22) 
or a discourse (1-9, 23 29 ~ 35 27 23 ~ 27 ). 

2-7. Preface or introduction, stating the object of the book, 
namely, that men may be induced to accept the teaching of 
wisdom. The structure is distichal, with synonymous parallelism 
(except v. 7 ). The thought is similar to that of 22 17 ~ 21 , and the 
preface, like the title, was probably prefixed by a late, perhaps the 
latest, editor ; the paragraph is syntactically a continuation of v. 1 . 

2. That men may acquire wisdom and training, 
May understand rational discourse, 

3. May receive training in wise conduct 
In justice and probity and rectitude, 

4. That discretion may be given to the inexperienced, 
To the youth knowledge and insight. 

5. Let the wise man hear and add to his learning, 
And the man of intelligence gain education, 

6. That he may understand proverb and parable, 
The words of sages and their aphorisms. 

7. The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of knowledge 
Wisdom and discipline fools despise. 

As the Hebrew text stands the introduction appears to consist 
of two parts, the statement of object ( 2 " c ), and the definition of 
knowledge ( 7 ) ; and the former divides itself into a general refer 
ence to men (~ 3 ), with special regard to the immature ( 4 ), and a 
particular reference to the wise ( 5 - G ) that is, the work is said to 
be addressed to all classes of intelligence. The definition ( 7 ) 
stands by itself, being of the nature of a general reflection, an 
appendix to the statement of object. V. 5 appears to be a pa 
renthesis or an editorial insertion the syntactical construction 

* Cf. Delitzscb, op. cit., pp. 196 if, 

I. 2 


here changes (to be resumed in v. r> ), and there is a certain incon 
gruity in bidding a sage learn to understand the words of sages. 
If these two couplets be omitted, we have a symmetrical para 
graph of two quatrains : **, "that men may acquire wisdom," and 
4 - r> , "that the immature may be educated into understanding the 
discourses of the sages." 

2-4. The general object of the book. The syntactical con 
nection with v. 1 is close : the proverbs of Solomon . . . [whose 
object is] that men may acquire, etc. 2. Synonymous, ternary. 
Lit.: to acquire (or, know}, etc., the subject of the Infinitive 
being " men " or " the pupil." The parallel expressions are prac 
tically equivalent in meaning. Wisdom is the general expression 
for knowledge of all good things ; it is practical sagacity (Ju. ^ 
2 Sam. 13" 14- 20 1 1 ), the skill of the artisan (Ex. 31 ), wide 
acquaintance with facts (i K. ^ ?A [s"- 4 ]), learning (Jer. 8"), skill 
in expounding secret things (Kz. 28"), statesmanship (Jer. iS IS ), 
and finally, knowledge of right living in the highest sense. This 
last is its sense here moral and religious intelligence. It ex 
cludes not only the morally bad, but also (in contrast with Greek 
wisdom) the philosophically speculative, though, in parts of Prov 
erbs, Ecclesiastes, and Wisdom of Solomon, it is tinged with Greek 
philosophical thought. In it the religious element is practically 
identical with the moral : no stress is laid in Proverbs on the 
ritualistic side of life (sacrifices, vows), the devotional (prayer, 
praise, reading sacred books), or the dogmatic (monotheism, sin, 
salvation) ; the writers of chs. 1-9 and of the whole Hook are 
concerned with practical affairs ; the law of God is for them 
simply the moral law. The second term, training, discipline. 
(or, instruction}, signifies properly the fact of teaching, educa 
tion (sometimes chastisement), but must here be taken to mean 
the result of right teaching, that is, wisdom ; the teacher may be 
God, or a man who imparts the law of Cod. Rational discourse 
is lit. words of understanding; this last term --_-" discernment, 
comprehension," is in like manner identical with wisdom.-- 
Man s relation to wisdom is expressed by the word acquire (lit. 
know or learn}. So far as stress is thus laid on intellectual 
recognition of right as the basis of a uood life the thought of our 


section (and of the whole Book) is allied to the Socratic-Stoic 
conception of morality. The OT. term, however, like the Greek, 
expresses more than bare intellectual recognition it involves 
intellectual assimilation and practical acceptance of truth as the 
rule of life; see Am. 3 10 Hos. 6 3 13 Isa. i 3 Jer. i 4 a) Job 20- 
if/ 5i :i(5) . Still, knowledge is here set forth as the foundation of 
conduct, that is, it is assumed that men will do right when its 
nature and consequences are clearly understood by them. The 
conception of a change of heart is not found in Proverbs. In the 
second clause the verb understand discern, distinguish, appre 
hend, is a synonym of know, 3. Ternary ; line 2 is the defini 
tion of the last word of line i. The element of assimilation is 
expressed in the term receive " apprehend, accept, and apply as 
a rule of life." The term training (or, instruction} is usually 
defined by its source (v. 8 , father, 3" Yahweh), but here by its 
object or aim, as in Isa. 53* the chastisement of [ == which should 
procure } our peace. The aim is here expressed by four terms (so 
RV.), wise conduct, justice, probity, rectitude, the three last of 
which are better taken as setting forth the content of the first. 
From the signification of these words they cannot be understood 
as objects of the verb receive (Nowack, Frankenberg), or as ex 
pressing the content of the term instruction (Delitzsch). Kamp- 
hausen * renders : that men may accept instruction that makes 
wise (king), righteousness and [sense of~\ the right and rectitude, 
taking instruction as = " the fact of teaching," and leaving it 
uncertain whether the terms in the second clause are the object 
of receive or are in apposition with instruction. Delitzsch and 
Frankenberg, not so well : to attain intelligent instruction. Wise 
conduct is action which springs from insight and sagacity, in ordi 
nary affairs (i Sam. 18 Gen. 4 8 14 3" Prov. io 5 14*" a/.), and espe 
cially in the moral and religious life (Jer. 3 r> \j/ 119") . Such action, 
in its best sense, is controlled by moral principle, and is accordingly 
here defined by several synonymous terms. Justice (RV. righteous 
ness} is a forensic term, expressing the quality of the character 
and action of that one of the two parties to a lawsuit who has the 
right on his side, and thus comes to signify right conduct in gen- 

* In Katitzsch s Heilige Schrift. 

eral. Probity is the procedure of a judge, especially legal deci 
sion (Ju. 4" 2 Sam. 15- ) or custom (i Sam. 2 1:; 10 - ), law (Dt. 4 ). 
God s acts of moral government in the world (Isa. 26 - i//io5 ; ), 
then general conduct in accordance with legal decision (assumed 
to be morally right) whether made by man or by God. Rectitude 
is levelness, straightness, straightforwardness of conduct, as op 
posed to the crooked ways of those who abandon the guidance of 
moral truth. These three words are variant expressions of recti 
tude, and thus define the content of the general term wise conduct. 
V. 2 declares that knowledge of right principle is the basis of true 
life ; v. :! assumes that this knowledge necessarily leads to action 
controlled by moral principle. 4. Synonymous, ternary. From 
the point of view of the teacher ; lit. : to give discretion, etc. The 
inexperienced (RV. simple} are the uninstructed, the immature ; 
the word is here used in a negative, indifferent sense, to indicate 
need of instruction (used in v." with bad connotation). The Heb. 
term appears to signify those whose minds are open to influence, 
who can be easily led. The parallel youth likewise emphasizes the 
idea of immaturity (so that there is no need to substitute a term 
= stupid} ; the word may mean babe (Kx. 2 ), child (2 K. 4 - ), 
young man ( Ju. i f) , or, without respect to age, servant ( 2 Sam. 9") . 
The Book of Proverbs addresses itself to men only, not to women ; 
the silence respecting the latter is doubtless due to their domestic 
isolation and comparative security from grosser temptations ; more 
attention is paid them in Een-Sira (y- 1 --" 9 22 4 " 23--"- 25""- 26 
36- 1 -- 42 ;M1 ). Discretion is cleverness in general (Gen. 3 ), either 
for good (so throughout Pr.) or for evil (Kx. 21"). The synonym 
insight, or discretion, is the power of forming plans or perceiving 
the best line of procedure for gaining an end, then the plan itself, 
good or bad ; in Pr. sometimes employed in a bad sense (i2 J 14 
24 s ), oftener, as here, in a good sense. 

5. Synonymous, quaternary-ternary (possibly ternary). The 
telic sense that the wise man may hear ( KY. Orelh) is not a 
correct rendering of the Heb. ; the hortative sense / 
(De., Frank.) though not in accordance with the construction of 
the rest of the paragraph, is that which best suits the expression 
of object which characterizes the introduction. The declarative 


rendering is adopted by the Vrss., Schult., Kamph. ; the sentence 
then breaks the connection, and must be taken to be parentheti 
cal. It seems, indeed, not to belong here, but in some such 
connection as that in which the similar aphorism 9 now stands. 
It is perhaps an old gloss (found in all the Vrss.) the design of 
which is to point out that the teaching of wisdom is appropriate 
not only for the immature (v. 4 ), but also for the wise. Learning 
is that which is received, the content or material of instruction. 
The parallel expression in the second clause appears to be a nauti 
cal term (so the Grk. and Lat. Vrss.) derived from the word for 
rope, and meaning steering, guidance ; used in Job 37 12 of God s 
guidance of the clouds; in Pr. n 14 12^ 2O 18 24" = counsel, and 
here power of guidance, of sound direction of life, = education. 
6. Synonymous, ternary. The scholarly aim. The verse con 
nects itself immediately with v. 2 - 4 ; these refer to the subject- 
matter of teaching, v. 6 to its form. The allusion here seems to be 
to organized schools, and to the habit of Oriental teachers of 
couching their instruction in figures, parables, and allegories (see 
especially ch. 30). The reference is not to esoteric teaching 
intended to conceal the highest wisdom from the mass of men 
there is no evidence that such esoterism existed anywhere in the 
ancient world * though the teacher would naturally speak more 
freely to the inner circle of his pupils (cf. Mt. i3 34 ). The three 
terms here employed to describe the form of the sage s instruction 
have no exact representatives in English. On proverb see note 
on v. 1 . The meaning of the stem of the second term (nr ra) 
appears to be turn, bend ; Gen. 42 23 an interpreter is one who 
translates discourse from one language into another, and so the 
Babylonian ambassadors or interpreters of 2 C. 32 31 ; Isa. ^y~ the 
mediators or interpreters are the representative men, prophets, and 
priests (the Grk. not so well, rulers], who made God s words intel 
ligible to the people, and the mediating angel of Job 33^ interprets 
man s case to God. Our word thus appears to mean a turned or 
figurative saying, one that looks toward another sense, a parable ; 
in the only other place in which it occurs, Hab. 2 fi , it has the 

* This statement can, I believe, be substantiated. The Greek Mysteries, and 
such passages as Dan. 12, do not form exceptions. 

I. 5-6 9 

connotation of taunt, sarcasm ; cf. the similar use of proverb. 
Here it signifies a didactic utterance (rhythmical in form), in 
which the figurative need not be the predominant feature. The 
third expression (rrrn) comes in like manner from a stem meaning 
///;-;/ aside, and signifies some sort of deflected discourse. Its 
earliest use seems to be that of riddle, as in Ju. 14, i K. to 1 
/_ 2 (^ Q!) i n Kz. 1 7- it = parable, and in Nu. i 2 s the parabolic 
or visional form of the ordinary divine communication with priest 
or prophet, in contrast with the direct speech which Vahweh 
employed with Moses ; in Dan. 8 ! Antiochus Kpiphanes is de 
scribed as understanding hi doth, which must mean tortuous (mor 
ally tricky) words or procedures ; a shading of scorn and ridicule 
appears in Hab. 2 " , while in i// 49 V>) 78-, as in Pr., the sense is 
simply didactic. Here it obviously = aphorisms. The three 
terms are here synonyms. Their etymology indicates that the 
earliest teaching was figurative in form (riddle, proverb, parable, 
allegory) ; but, as prophecy naturally advanced from ecstatic 
utterance to straightforward discourse, so the Israelitish sages 
gradually abandoned the figurative form in the interests of clear 
ness, though it continued to be employed by popular teachers. 
V. assumes that it is a part of good education to understand 
the aphorisms of the sages, and these, as Pr. and Ben-Sira show, 
were simple and direct expositions and enforcements of duty. 
That a definite class of teachers with some sort of school-organi 
zation existed as early as the third century n.c. appears probable 
from the way in which the sages are spoken of in Pr. (especially 
22 17 - 1 ), and Eccl. 12". and from the account given in / // 
Aboth of the heads of schools and their sayings from the middle 
of the second century on. The aphorisms, and particularly the 
discourses, in Pr. and Ben-Sira are for the most part not popular 
in form, but bear the impress of cultivated thought. Later the 
title sages was given to the teachers of the law." 

If v/ 1 be omitted, v.-- 4 - ! form a symmetrical strophe or paragraph : 

To know wisdom and instruction, to discern words of understanding. 
To receive instruction in wise conduct, in justice and probity and ivc 
To ajve discretion to the inexperienced, to the youth knowledge and insi- 
To understand proved, and parable, the words of sa-es and their aphorisms. 


7. The motto. Antithetic, quaternary. This general definition 
of wisdom may be regarded as the motto of the whole book, and is 
probably to be ascribed to the final editor ; see \j/ 1 1 1 1 ". The begin 
ning of knowledge, its choicest feature, its foremost and essential 
element, is said to be the fear of Yahweh. The term fear goes 
back historically to the dread which was felt in the presence of the 
powerful and stern tribal or national deity ; Semitic deities were in 
the historical period generally conceived of as lords or kings, exer 
cising constant control over their peoples, and inflicting punishment 
on them for disobedience. This is the prevailing attitude of the 
pious man toward God throughout the OT. ; only the sentiment 
gradually advances from the form of mere dread of the divine 
anger to that of reverence for the divine law. It never entirely 
loses, however, the coloring implied in the word fear. The OT. 
ethical conception of life is not love of a moral ideal as the 
supreme good, but regard for it as an ordination of the supreme 
authority ; the world is looked on not as a household in which 
God and man are co-workers, but as a realm in which God is king 
and man is subject. This conception, the result of the moral 
strenuousness of the Jewish people and of their Oriental govern 
mental scheme of life, helped to develop moral strictness. It is a 
fundamental principle of moral life, though not the only principle. 
The idea of the Hebrew sage is that he who lives with reverent 
acknowledgment of God as lawgiver will have within his soul a 
permanent and efficient moral guide ; other conditions of ethical 
experience, such as native character, knowledge, temptation, sur 
roundings, are left unmentioned, not deliberately excluded, but 
omitted because they are not prominent in the writer s thought ; 
his purpose is to emphasize the one principle of reverence as 
paramount, and he identifies the man s own moral ideal with the 
divine moral law. The use of the name Yahweh instead of the 
more general Elohim is not significant as to date or as to ethical 
feeling. Yahweh, though in name nothing but the national deity 
of the Jews, is here regarded as the supreme and only God. The 
personal name was gradually replaced by the Lord (as in the 
ancient Versions, except the Targtim), or the Holy One (as in 
the Talmud), or God (as in Ezra, Neh., Eccles., and some 
Psalms), but, as appears from some late Psalms, continued to 

1-7 II 

be freely used, in certain circles, down to the second century i;.c. 
It is possible, however, that both in Kgypt and in Palestine it was, 
in this later time, though written, not pronounced, but replaced in 
reading by Adona\ (f/ie Lord}. The second clause states, not 
formally but in substance, the antithesis to the first, the sense 
being : " absence of the fear of Vahweh (in fools) is negation (con 
tempt) of wisdom." The fool is primarily a person lacking in good 
sense in general, uninstructed (Isa. 35^), unskilled ( Pr. n -" ), or 
offensively ignorant (io s 2O :: zy ), then, as here, one who is lacking 
in the highest wisdom, and therefore devoid of piety toward God 
(so the Grk. here). Such an one despises wisdom, is ignorant of 
and does not value its high function, nor accept it as guide. 
Instead of the couplet of the Heb. the (irk. has a quatrain : 

The beginning of wisdom is the fear of (loci, 

And a good understanding have all they that practise it; 

Piety toward (iod is the beginning of knowledge, 

Hut wisdom and instruction the impious will set at naught. 

The second line of this quatrain now stands in \p in 1 ", and the 
third line appears to be a doublet of the first (except that the 
terms wisdom and knowledge exchange places), but may be an 
original parallelism. Whether the longer form of the (ireek is an 
expansion of Heb. or Grk. scribes, or belongs to the original 
reading, it is difficult to say. As this verse is an isolated apho 
rism, its length does not affect the rhythmical structure of the 
succeeding discourse. Cf. BS. i u ~ -\ 

I. 1. The primitive sense of the stem L >.-~ is doubtful. In all Semitic 
languages it means to be like or cijnal, in Canaanitish (Heb., I hoen.) z\-<> 
to rule, and in Arab, to stain/ erect, be eminent, superior. The original 
force is perhaps to be alongside of, u/>orc (cf. ^ = on, superposition, and at. 
juxtaposition), whence the notions of similarity and superiority. See Schul- 
tens. Pror., Fleischer (in Do.), Thes., l ,I >] .. ID s x^-" V": <P os 
fpa.ffi\evcrfv ei> ]ffparj\. possibly a variant reading (cf. lied. I 1 ), but hardh 
an indication { lager) that the (irk. translator considered ihe paragraph v. 
to be n.m-Solomonic. 2. The primary sense of the stem -:~ 
tlie Arab.) to be _//>;;/, fixed, whence the verb ,r,v/Vv/. retrain, and the 
noun fi.\-cJne>s of opinion. /v/iw/Vi/cV- 3. ^-~ ~ i> taken as - /;/A / 
K isitom, by Clort, J heol. Tijdsch., xix. ^So ( 1L doctrinai). as in Dan. I 17 ; 
the Inf. occurs elsewhere in IV. twice, in 2I 11 = 
= wise conduct: the latter sense is preferable here. =-^". is collective 


plu., a mass of equitable actions = equity ; syn. ii"" i r, Mai. 2 6 Isa. 1 1 4 
A different sense occurs in Dan. 11. (5 divides the v. into three stiches: 
d^affdai re O"r/)o0as \6ywv. voTJtrai re diKaiocrvvTji aXr/Or), KO.I Kpifj.a KarevOvveiv. 
On <rrp. \oy. see Schleusner, Lex. What Heb. it represents is doubtful; Lag. 
P12DVD turnings (cf. Ez. 41"- 24 ), which, however, is not used of speech; Hei- 
denheim (in Vierleljahrsschr. f. theol. Forsch., ii. 401) 1D13 tip?, the teachings of 
discipline, which hardly explains <S; vorjvai = SotrnV, d\T)6r) is scribal insertion 
(Lag., on the contrary, rejects SIK. as usual rendering), /car. = some form of 
T.J", perh. itt ^D taken as Inf., less probably Hif. nrn. 3L = $?. & to receive 
instruction and fear, where NnSm seems to be scribal error. & = $J, except 
that it prefixes i to pis. Graetz inserts nnoin before tois (as in 6- ;i ), and 
writes SwnS and ons^D ODiJ Si, making a tristich (so (5). 4. D^NPC, written 
v> 22. 32 Q>p S ; the x is vowel-letter, and should be omitted. St. nns = open, 
wide (Gen. 9 27 ), then to be persuaded, enticed, seduced ; \~ifl open-minded, per 
suadable, simple-minded, inexperienced ; Ar. fata, = broad-minded, generous, 
and young man, fat vd = legal decision (opening, expounding of a legal ques 
tion), mufti = judge. |^ nnS; (5 iva 5y, free rendering. J !>J L ; (5 TrcuSt 
5 vty, in which v^ is perh. dittogram (Jag.), but may be orig. (Lag.) ; accord 
ing to Heid. it is miswriting of vtos, the two words IT. and v. being designed to 
form a parallel to plu. T. For nyj Graetz unnecessarily writes i> 3 stupid. 
Rashi i>*j = ij?uc cast out from or destitute of learning. 5. A telic force for 
ysv is hardly supported by such a construction as that of i^ce" Isa. 13 in 
which the two clauses are closely combined. niSann is denominative noun 
of action; (3 Kv/3fyvr]<riv, 3L gnbernacula, A26 gubernationes ; on jj 11 see 
notes of Lag. and Field; Fleischer (in De.) compares Ar. tadbtr, Syr. duboro. 
V. 5 is regarded as interpolation by Ziegler, and as parenthetical by Wilde- 
boer. 6. |i| nos^o; (5 ffKoreivbv \6yov; A9 fpfjitvelav, and so 5L Rashi, AV., 
against the parallelism, the interpretation, marg. an eloquent speech ; \\.V. figure. 
7. On the etymology of S>ix as = thick, dtill, stupid, see Fleisch., De., SS., 
BDB. ; Malbim, Heid. (in De.) sceptic, from ^Six perhaps. Bickell {Wiener 
ZKAT. v. 86) adopts the reading of on the ground that beginning of wisdom 
as well as beginning of knowledge is here absolutely necessary; he holds that the 
Psalmist took the passage from Pr. and that the translator of the ^ followed the 
translation of Pr., the clause falling out of pj by homoeoteleuton. It is, how 
ever, equally possible that Pr. followed the i/ . Further, it is not clear what Heb. 
would be represented by (5 eiW/3aa e/s 6ebv, which Bickell renders by nvr> nx-r ; 
but eve. nowhere else represents "v, and the expression looks like original Greek 
rather than like a translation. It is found in Cl. Al., Strom., 161. The Heb. 
author may have written P> i in first clause because he had noon in second. 

8-19. Discourse against organized robbery: exhortation to 

listen to instruction (v. s ") ; the temptation to robbery and 

murder (v. 1 "- 14 ) ; warning against it, fate of the robber (v. 1M1 ). 

-The arrangement is in couplets, with varying number of beats. 

I. S-y I 3 

Bickell further arranges it in quatrains : v. s ly . 

The text is not quite clear ; some good emendations are suggested 
by the Greek. 

S. Hear, my son, thy father s instruct inn, 

And forsake IK it the admonition of thy mother, 

9. For a chaplet of beauty they will he to thy head, 
And chains about thy neck. 

10. My son, if sinners entice tliee, consent thou not,* - 

11. If they say: "Come with us, 
Let us lay wait for the <. perfect, 
Let us lurk for the innocent [], 

12. Let us, like Sheoi, swallow them alive, 
Sound as they who i;u down to the Pit; 


15. [] Walk not in company with them, 
Keep thy feet from their paths; f 

17. For in vain the net is spread 
In the sight of any bird, 

1 8. And they for their own blood lay wait, 
They lurk for their own lives. 

19. Such is the < fate of all who by violence seek gain : 
It destroys the lives of its possessors. 

8, 9. Exhortation. V. s is synonymous, ternary ; v. y synony 
mous, ternary-binary. On instruction see note on \v. Admoni 
tion ( Heb. tora, sometimes = law} is here synonym of instruction. 
Forsake, more exactly reject, repel. Chains = necklace. The 
address i/iv son in\ pupil, is characteristic of chs. 1-9, and 
also, though less markedly, of 22 17 -24" ; it occurs once (27") 
in the section chs. 25-29, and once (19 " ") in the central division 

* Perhaps better : 

10. My son, if sinners entice tliee, 

11. If they say : Let us lay wait for the perfect/ 

12. Let us, like Sheol, swallow them alive, 
Sound as they who go down to the Pit; 


of the Book, io 1 -22 IG . It indicates an organized system of instruc 
tion, probably in schools ; see note on v." above. The instruction 
here mentioned, however, is that not of sages but of parents. It 
is assumed that the teaching of father and mother will be wise, 
and this moral training of home would naturally form the basis of 
the fuller instruction of the schools. The reference is to the 
moral law in general, not specifically to the Tora (Law of Moses), 
though this would naturally be the foundation of Jewish home 
teaching. The Talmud (Ber. 35 a, Pes. 50^, Sanh. 102 a) explains 
father here as = " God," and mother as = " Israel " (Ez. ig 2 ) ; 
according to Rashi the instruction of the father is what God gave 
to Moses in writing and orally, while the law of the mother means 
the words of the Scribes or Rabbis whereby they made a hedge to 
the Law.* Ornaments of head and neck were anciently worn by 
men as well as by women. | 

10-19. Alliance with bands of robbers and murderers can be 
attended only with disaster. The organized robbery here referred 
to suggests city life of the later time, the periods when, under 
Persian and Greek rule, Jerusalem and Alexandria sheltered a 
miscellaneous population, and a distinct criminal class became 
more prominent. The references in the preexilian prophets are 
to a less organized sort of crime ; they speak rather of legalized 
oppression of the poor by the rich ; see Am. 8 5 - c Hos. 4 2 6 s - 9 7 1 
Isa. i 2;J S - lo 1 Mic. 2- 3 3 6 12 f 3 Zeph. 3 3 Jer. 5 28 7 - n Ez. i8 UM:! 
22 3 - <J ; the passages in Hos. are the only ones that seem to relate 
to bands of robbers, and they represent a state of anarchy under 
the last kings of Samaria. The description here might be under 
stood (so Frank.) as referring not to literal robbery and murder, 
but to spoliation under legal forms ; but the language of the para 
graph (v. 11 - IS ) and the manner of I. (portrayal of open vice, 
chs. 5. 6. 7) favor the former view. Frank, compares BS. 3i 25f . 

10. The rhythm is irregular : the first clause is ternary, the 
second has only one beat ; the latter might be attached to v. 11 , or 

* On the education of Jewish children see J. Wiesen, GescA. u. Me/A. d. Schul- 
wesen im talmud. Altcrthume ; for the Greek customs, Becker, Charicles, Eng. tr., 
pp. 217 ff. ; for the Roman, Callus, pp. 182 ff. 

t See Ju. 8- c ; Maspero, Anc. Egypt and Assyria; Becker, Char., 198, n.6, Gal., 
429 ff- 

I. 8-12 15 

omitted as gloss, and " 1Ul will then form the couplet. Sinner* 
is the general term for wrongdoers, persons of bad moral charac 
ter, etymologically " those who miss the mark " ; they are men who 
fail in the performance of duty, and thus miss the aim of life. 
The noun occurs most frequently in Ps. and 1 r. (13 23 "), the 
verb is common in all parts of ( )T. Instead of the conditional 
construction the (irk. has the hortative : let iu>t impious men lead 
thec astrav, but the conditional protasis is a natural if not neces 
sary preliminary to the hortative apodosis of v. 15 . 11. A triplet 
in the Heb., ternary-binary-binary ; the verse division is doubtful 
(see note on v." 1 ). The Heb. text instead of perfect lias I /oix/, 
and at the end of the verse adds without cause ; the first emenda 
tion (requiring the change of one Heb. letter) is called for by the 
parallelism, and the addition without cause is superfluous, since 
the victims are described as innocent. If the reading blood be 
retained, it must be understood elliptically, as = to shed blood ; it 
cannot be taken (Fleisch. in l)e.) to mean a \outJi, a \oung blood. 
The adv. without cause must qualify the verb ///// ,- the translation 
innocent in rain (that is, their innocence does not save them), 
while grammatically possible, docs not accord with the connec 
tion. Bloodshed is assumed to be a natural accompaniment of 
robbery, and it is accomplished by lying in wait in the dark places 
of the city. Ancient cities were badly lighted at night, and not 
usually well policed. Cf. i// io s . 12. Synonymous, ternary. The 
word rendered sound is generally used of moral completeness 
= perfect (Gen. 6 ;| Pr. 2- 1 ), and is here so taken by some (as 
Kamph.) ; but the parallelism favors the physical sense /// ///// 
liodily health and strength, equivalent to the parallel alive (as in 
l >.. 15" , cf. the ritual use, Kx. 12 " <?/.). The sense of the passage 
is: we will swallow them ((irk. him) alive and sound so that 
they shall be as completely destroyed from the earth as those that 
go down by course of nature into the pit of Sheol (that is, those 
who die). Sheol (and so its equivalent the Pit} is the I nder- 
world, the abode of the dead, good and bad, a cheerless place 
whose deni/ens have no occupation (Keel. 9" ) and no relations 
with Vahweh* (Isa. 3<8 ls ) ; descent to it is a misfortune, since it 


deprives man of activity and happiness, but not a punishment ex 
cept when it is premature (<A 55~ i( ~ 4) )- The second clause reads 
in the Grk. : and let us take away the remembrance of him from 
the earth (cf. \\i 34 1<i(17) IOQ " ), which represents a different Heb. 
text from ours, the general sense being unchanged ; in the Heb. 
the parallelism to the first clause is presented in the adj. sound, in 
the Grk. in the verb take away. The course of thought favors the 
Heb. ; the Grk. is probably an imitation of the psalm -passage. 
13. Synonymous, ternary. The object of the assault is treasure ; 
the house is to be broken into (Mt. 6 19 ). The robbers have their 
own houses, are residents of the city. The Vrss. give slightly 
different readings ; (:/<?/ us seize his costly possessions ; S : all 
his wealth and glory; 9T : all wealth and glory (or property). 
|^ gives a good sense = " all sorts of wealth." 14. Synony 
mous, ternary. The word lot is primarily the thing (a die or 
something of the sort) used to procure the answer of the deity 
(as by Urim and Thummim) to a question (Lev. i6 8 ), then the 
thing assigned to the questioner by the divine decision (Jud. i 3 ), 
then in general one s part in life (Jer. I3 25 i/ i6 5 Dan. i2 13 ) ; cast 
thy lot among us = share our fortunes, identify thyself with us. 
The disposition of the booty indicates a regular organization in 
the robber-band. There is to be one purse, a common fund of 
spoil to be equitably distributed among the members of the gang. 
This is held out as an inducement to the neophyte, who would 
thus get more than he could hope to gain by his own separate 
efforts. Murder is lightly passed over by the robbers as a natural 
and easy feature of their occupation ; the young man is supposed 
to be accessible to the temptation of easily acquired wealth. The 
picture of manners here given is historically valuable. For another 
interpretation see note above (on v. 1(MO ). 15-19. The reason 
for avoiding such companions : their path, though it may be tem 
porarily successful, leads finally to destruction. 15. Synonymous, 
ternary. The received Hebrew text begins the verse with my son, 
as in v. 10 , and a justification for this expression may be found 

hut in OT. there is no trace of any divine government in the Underworld (which is 
an isolated and anomalous place) till late postexilic times when the one God 
became universal (Job 1413 2 6) and the idea of resurrection arose (Dan. 12 -, cf, 
the doubtful Isa. 


in the length of the preliminary description, v." M1 , which might 
make the resumptive my son natural (Ikming.) ; but, on the other 
hand, as it is not found in (> is unnecessary at the besiinnin" 

* o o 

of the apodosis, and is rhythmically undesirable, it is better to 
omit it. 16. Synonymous, ternary. On both internal and exter 
nal grounds this verse is probably to lie regarded as a scribal 
insertion. It breaks the connection between v. 1 - and v. 17 , the 
latter of which gives the ground (namely, the peril of the robbers 
course) for the exhortation of the former ; and the section v. 1: " ia 
is devoted to a description not of the character of the robbers 
(which is given in v." 1 -") but of their fate. Verse" , further, is 
identical with Isa. 59 7:l , and is not found in the best Grk. MSS. 
It appears to be the gloss of a scribe who thought a reference to 
the bloodthirstiness of the robber-band here appropriate, or wrote, 
as a remark, on the margin this parallel expression, which was 
then inserted in the text by a subsequent scribe. In the second 
clause we may take/6r/ as subject of make Jiastc, or we may insert 
the subject they (the robbers). 17. Single sentence, ternary. 
This statement is introductory to that of v. s , and its meaning is 
fixed by the relation between the two : v. 18 declares that the 
robber murderer s course is destructive to him, and v. r must 
therefore set forth the destruction and the blindness not of the 
victim but of the murderer himself; the comparison refers not to 
the futility of laying snares in the sight of birds (who thus see the 
trap and avoid it), but to the blindness and folly of birds who, 
though the snare is laid in their sight, nevertheless fall into it. In 
like manner the criminal, blinded by desire for gain, fails to see 
the snare which God (working through society and law) spreads 
for him, and falls irredeemably into it. The connection is not : 
go not with them, the net which they spread for thee is clearly 
visible, thou wilt surely not be blinder than a bird (/iegl., He.), 
but : go not with them, for, like silly birds, they fall into the net, 
and thou wilt be entrapped witli them ( Kw.. Xowack, Strack., a/., 
and cf. Srhultens). I Vank. renders: for ^<i//ioi// success /V the 
net spread, etc., that is, the efforts of the snarers [the sinners] are 
without result for themselves they catch no birds; a possible 
sense and good in itself, but the couplet appears to state a fact 
always true of bird-snaring. Moreover, the sage probably intends 


not to deny that sinners get booty, but to affirm that, though they 
get it, it does not profit them in the end. A different text is 
offered by (, which reads : for not in vain are nets spread for 
birds (inserting not, and neglecting in the sight of), that is, not in 
vain are there pitfalls for criminals in the shape of human laws and 
dispensations of God they (v. 18 ) are laying up punishment for 
themselves. This gives a natural connection of thought, but looks 
like an interpretation of a text not understood. The Heb. ex 
pression possessor of wings, = bird, is found only here and Eccl. 
lo 20 . 18. Synonymous, ternary-binary. Their criminal proced 
ure, begun for their profit, turns out to be a plot against them 
selves ; they overreach themselves and become the executors of 
their own doom. It is not said how this result is brought about, 
but the allusion doubtless is to human law and divine judgments. 
This is the old-Israelitish view that wrongdoing will be punished 
in this life perhaps also the belief that criminals cannot in the 
long run escape the vigilance of the law. ( for they who have 
to do with blood lay iip evils for themselves, and the overthrow of 
lawless men is grievous, in which the first clause is incorrect ren 
dering of the whole Heb. verse, and the second clause is a parallel, 
probably a scribal addition ; the contrast given in own blood is 
ignored, in accordance with the Grk. reading of v. 17 . 19. Single 
sentence, ternary. Lit. : such are the ways, the manner and out 
come of life (or, the sense latter end, fate, may be got by a slight 
change in the Heb. word). Grk., second cl. : for by impiety they 
destroy their lives, an appropriate idea, but here probably not origi 
nal. See i5 <J7 28 Job 8 13 Hos. 4". The term gain has here the 
connotation of violence, injustice, as in Ez. 2 a 13 ; the simple sense 
profit is found in Gen. 37- Mai. 3" Job 22". The argument of the 
section v. 10 " 19 is an appeal not directly to the sense of right, but to 
rational self-regard : robbery and murder bring destruction on the 
perpetrator, and must therefore be avoided. The connection, 
however, indicates that this law of prudence is regarded as the 
law of God. 

9. "M^, only here and 4, lit. twisted, any adornment for the head, \>\y 
apparently a denom. from pj> neck, a word whieh occurs in Jew. Aram, and 
Arab., but not in Heb. Graetz, with little probability, emends to nS^Sj perfect, 
& omits. 1$ " D 1 "; (5 B TraiSeiav, (S NAC v6/J.ovs (and so 5?) ; the latter is prob. 

T. 17-19 JQ 

scribal variation (cf. 6 2 " 1 ), hardly (Lag.) rendering of >D "j for ->Dr:; Heid. 
holds that it comes from a Pharisaic hand. |Q :i ; (5 1! 5ej7, (5 A 77, prrh. 
free rendering (Heid.: allusion to phylacteries), perh. representing a variant 
reading, though the original in that case is not apparent. 10, 11. (5 divides 
v. 1 "- n as follows : My son, let not impious men seduce tlice, Xor consent thou 
if they urge thec, saying, Come with us, go shares in blood, And let us Slide 
the just man unjustly in the earth. ISickell, omitting 1 " a for rhythmical 
reasons, writes : Consent not if thev stir, come with its, Let us lav wait for 
blood, let us lurk for the innocent. The Ileb. rhythm is not satisfactory, hut 
it is hardly improved by these variations. I>ickell s omission of " " is 
unwarranted, and the resulting form is not good, either rhythmically or 
rhetorically. (5 is rhythmically better, but its rendering of 11) is partly 
incorrect, partly free. fi) may be retained if we suppose lob to be purposely 
short, and take n as couplet: If they sav, come with us, Let us lay wait for 
tlie perfect, let us lurk for the innocent, or, if we throw out lnh - 1I( , and part 
of 1Ia , and take the rest as couplet. It is hardly possible to recover the 
original form. 10. ID =N; (5 /J.T/ = \v. 1) N3> (from nax), in which the 
N and 2 have changed places (full form rasr), or the N is the writing of an 
Aram, scribe for n, the initial N of the stem being omitted because it was 
unpronounced. The regular form rnxr is found in a number of MSS. (see 
l)e Rossi), and either it should here be written, or we should, with l!i., write 
axr; in several MSS. the verb is understood as NO (xur, to"), which is 
improbable. 11. After ncN (5S 1 have -| s , perh. repetition from following 
n? 1 " 1 . (f5 Trapa/caXeVwcrt may = s\ |1) ."O^xj; (5 Kuivuvriaov, from 2~*" or "on 
(Lag.). |1) 2^; Dyserinck, Theol. J ijd. 17, 578, reads z~^, which suits the 
next clause; Oort, i/>., 19, 381, holds that the reading of v. 1 * (which ver. is 
clearly parallel to v. n ) sustains 21 here. %] r\i;>; seems to be intrans. (as 
apparently in $ io s 56") ; elsewhere the (^al is trans., and so it is here taken 
by Frank, who renders: w^e will set (a trap}. |l] -p^; (5 &i>5pa 5i.Ka.Lov, 
either not having the ^ or (Lag.) taking it, according to the Aram, const., as 
sign of Ace. $) c:n, found in the Yrss. ($ s~v3 maliciously ), but superflu 
ous, and probably a gloss (Bi.). The whole clause maybe omitted without 
detriment to the sense, and with advantage to the rhythm. 12. Jt) C; -S 2;; 
(iraetx. Pi., as in 19-* 21- . As 2d clause (P has KO.I Upwuev avrou TT^V fj.vij/j.rii> 
e /c yrjs, representing the Ileb. of \j/ 34 17 ioy i:> , perh. editorial variation; Lag. 
suggests that, the Ileb. text of (5 being effaced, it took the appropriate 
passage from the Ps.; for It) o^cn may have stood c?";i; Heid. supposes 
that 15 may have had n-?xs": cr^-n^ s~r , improb. late Ileb. 13. 11) ; "; 
<5 rrjv KTTJtriv avrou; Ii. syn, not so good a reading as that of 11). 
14. |i) s -i:-; (P115C have Impv., which is brttcr. though not absolutely 
necessary, since the asscrtory form of statement is possible; lii. emits T as 
marring the parallelism, but /// r lot is with us is hard. - - - (p 1 has a <loublct. a 
free and a literal rendering; the former is probably the original (Jag-. Lag.. 
Haumgartner), the latter a correcting gloss - 15. 11) ;::; C? Sl :> ru . II-l J.^ 
(= V), 252, 254, 295, 297, i ie Mm 1 , lacking in (5 SABC , and should probably be 


omitted. J^ ro rij sing.; plu. in (5ILSC and several Ileb. MSS., the cliff, not 
appearing in script, defect. pj "P 13 ) lacking in 31 De R 249. 16. Wanting 
in the uncials of ( (exc. NC. a A) and in Copt. (Sahiclic and Memphitic); 
Cod. 23 (of H-P) adds to it from Rom. 3 10 17 , and the cursives which contain 
it place it some before and some after v. 17 . It appears not to belong to the 
original text. After m & has N^U: (= ^p.% as in Isa. 59"). 17. < prefixes 
ov; J5> has i instead of T, and for $ m ra plu. act. Part. pans. $| mVo in 
sense of spread is difficult, the word elsewhere meaning scatter, -winnow ; 
Schult. here ventilatum; Rashi, in vain is (grain) scattered (on} the net. 
We should perhaps read pan nines (@ SIKTVO.) or -\ -lins a:n, which is 
phonetically not too hard. In Hos. 5 1 <Q renders 3 by ^Kreivetv, which is its 
expression here. |$ Sj?j; plu. in IL^V. and 4 Heb. MSS. 18. | I3i,v; 
<S (CieT^xoires; see v. 11 . |^ DST; (5 Bal - 06wf (H-P 23 tu/zciTajj>) = a^a^, not 
so well. @, rendering Ufli" 1 by BTjo-avpifrvtriv, adds /ca/cd as necessary comple 
ment. J5 appears to make v. 18 a continuation of v. 10 (Pink.) 19. pj PUTIN ; 
<! Pnn.v, probably to be adopted; see 5* Nu. 23 10 ^3787.38 73!"; -IN is not 
elsewhere used as = fate, the sense here required by the connection. 
ft i^;3; (5 TV dffcjSe^ = nS,; 3 (Jag.). 

20-33. The appeal of Wisdom. Wisdom, standing in a public 
place, exhorts the ignorant and the scornful to listen to her words, 
threatening them with destruction if they refuse. The section is 
independent, having no immediate connection with the preceding 
or the succeeding context. It resembles the first half of ch. 8, 
but is minatory while that is persuasive in tone. As the text 
stands, it is arranged in couplets (except v. 22 23 -- 7 , which are trip 
lets), which may be naturally combined into quatrains. After the 
introduction (v. 20 - 21 ) comes the address, which consists of a denun 
ciation (v. 22 23 ), the charge of disregard of her teaching (v. 24-25 ), a 
description of the fate of the despisers (v. 2(Kil ), and a contrast 
between the doom of fools and the happiness of the obedient 
(v. 32 - 83 ). Wisdom is personified, as in chs. 8. 9. 

20. Wisdom cries aloud in the streets, 
In the broad places utters her voice, 

21. Calls out at the head of the < high places, 
In the gates of the gateways [] * she says: 

22. How long, ye dullards, will ye love ignorance [] f, 
And fools hate knowledge? 

* The Heb. adds : / // the city. 

f The Heb. adds : and scoffers delight in scoffing. 

I. 20-21 21 

23. [] * T will utter my mind to you 5 
Will tell you my decision: 

24. Because I have called, and ye refuse 1, 

1 have stretched out my hand, and none regarded. 

25. Ye have ignored all my counsel, 
My admonition ye have rejected, - 

26. I, in m\ turn, will lair^h in [the dav of ] your calamity, 
I will mock when your disaster comes, 

27. When your disaster comes like a storm, 
And your calamity like a whirlwind. [J t 

28. Then will they call on me, but I will not answer, 
They will seek me, hut will not find me, 

29. For that they hated knowledge, 
And chose not the fear of Yahweh. 

30. They would none of my counsel, 
All my admonition they despised; 

31. Therefore they shall eat of the fruit of their own conduct, 
And be sated with their own counsels. 

32. For the indifference of the insensate will slay them, 
The careless ease of fools will destroy them. 

33. But whoso hearkens to me will dwell secure, 
Will be free from fear of harm. 

The interpretation of tho paragraph depends in part on the 
view taken of the relation between v." -" and the following verses. 
If the former are held to contain an exhortation to repentance 
(v." la ), they can hardly be closely connected with the latter, since 
these presume that the call of Wisdom has been rejected, and the 
discourse should state, after v.- :! , the repellant answer of the per 
sons addressed ; as the text stands, \v 4 ~ ;n constitute a separate 
discourse which states the result of disobedience. Unity of 
thought may be gained by omitting v.- ; a , and taking the whole 
piece as minatory, the connection being : you have turned a deaf 
ear to me long enough (v.~), I have lost patience and will tell you 
my decision (v. ") : because you have refused, etc. (\v " ;l ). 

20, 21. Introduction: the publicity of Wisdom s appeal. - 

Synonymous, ternary. After gateways the Heb. has /// tJie city her 


wonts she says ; the expressions in the city and her words, which 
mar the rhythm in the original, appear to be glosses, the former 
intended as an explanation of gateways (stating definitely that the 
reference is to city gates), the latter noting that the following 
verses give the words then uttered by Wisdom. The Grk. has a 
somewhat different reading : Wisdom sings in the streets (lit. exits), 
in the broad places boldly speaks, proclaims on the summits of the 
walls, sits at the gates of princes, at the gates of the city boldly says ; 
this seems to be partly misreading, partly expansion, of our Heb. 
text. Broad places are the wide open spaces in front of city 
gates ; instead of high places the Heb. has a word which is com 
monly rendered noisy places, understood to mean crowded thor 
oughfares (including bazaars and market-places) ; but this sense 
is doubtful, and a better term is given in 8 2 (high places), or by 
Sept. (walls) ; walls may be included in the high places ; these, 
together with streets and gateways, were gathering-places for the 
people. The gateway was a long structure entered at the extremi 
ties through gates. The verb cries aloud expresses an excited 
emotional utterance, usually of joy (Lev. g 24 Isa. 12" Job 38 ), 
sometimes of sorrow (Lam. 2i 18 ), or general excitement (^ 78- ), 
here of intensity of feeling. Wisdom does not content herself 
with being wise at home, but seeks men out in their everyday 
life s he is a preacher. The custom of speaking in places of 
concourse was an old one, familiar to the prophets ; see Jer. f, 
and cf. Mic. i 8 Isa. 2O 2 Jer. 5 1 ; so also Socrates (Xen., Mem. I. i, 
10). The later Jewish custom resembles both that of the proph 
ets and that of the Greek philosopher, the former in its hortatory 
tone, the latter in its reflective, ethical subject-matter. The choice 
of the term wisdom to denote the religious teacher points to a 
phase of life which came after the great prophetic period (in the 
prophets wisdom is not religious), and probably indicates the 
influence of the Greek atmosphere in which the Jews lived from 
the close of the fourth century B.C. on* (see Introduction, 6). 

* Cf. the similar use of wisdom in Ben-Sira, Eccl., Wisd. of Sol. The title 
Koheletk, given in Eccl. to Wisdom (speaking in the person of Solomon), if, as 
is possible, it means a caller (or member} of a public assembly, supposes acquaint 
ance with Grk. forms of life; see the commentaries of Tyler, Plumptre, Reuss, 
Siegfried, Wildeboer, and Cheyne s Job and Solomon, 

The exhortation in Prov. is not : put away all other gods and 
serve Vah\veh alone, or : bring offerings to the temple according 
to the Law, but : listen to reason and conscience, which are the 
voice of ( lod in the soul. 

22-33. The discourse of wisdom in the received Heb. text 
falls naturally into two parts, an invitation, v." - ;; , and a denuncia 
tion, v. 1 ^". The connection between the divisions is not clear 
(see note above on v. 20 ^). The denunciation is introduced 
abruptly, as if the invitation had been refused, though nothing 
is said of a refusal. On this point the Versions offer nothing 
different from the Heb., and there is not good ground for exten 
sive alterations of the text (see below). A closer connection 
between the parts might be secured by giving v. 21 " :> the condi 
tional form, the apodosis following in v. 2ti , but against this is the 
form of the verbs in v.- 4 - 5 . Failing this we shall have to consider 
the divisions as separate discourses, or suppose that an explana 
tory transitional statement has fallen out after v. 2: \ or, what seems 
most satisfactory, omit v. 2; a ; v. 22 - 23 will then contain not an invita 
tion, but a denunciation. Cf. the connectedness and smoothness 
of the similar discourse 8 1 11 . 

22, 23. The Heb. has two triplets : v. 22 is quaternary-quaternary- 
ternary, v. 23 binary-ternary-ternary ; on the text see below. The 
three classes of persons are practically the same, though the 
words have different shades of meaning. Dullards (or simple 
tons, RV. simple} are the inexperienced (v. 1 ), here those who 
positively love ignorance, and deliberately refuse to listen to 
instruction in right living. The terms scoffing (or scorn} and 
scoffer (or scorncr} belong almost exclusively to the later relig 
ious vocabulary of Pss., Pr. ; they occur elsewhere only Hos. T 
Isa. 28 14 - 2 " 29 20 Job 1 6-", in which passages they express contempt 
in general ; in Pr. scoffer = bad man, one who turns his back on 
what is good (so i// i 1 ), the special element of contempt not 
being significant ; the simple sense occurs in 20 . In i// IK;" the 
reference is to apostate Jews or foreign enemies : in Pr. there 
is no reference to the nation Israel. Fool ( Heb. kcsi/ ) is also 
a term of the reflective moral literature, occurring, in the intel 
lectual or ethical sense, only in Pss., 1 r., Eccl. (the verb is 


found once, Jer. io 8 ) ; it seems to mean a stolid, dull person, 
in Pr. one who is insensible to moral truth and acts without 
regard to it. By these three terms the sages express the con 
trast to that wisdom which consists in acceptance of and 
obedience to the divine law of conduct written in man s heart. 
As only two of these classes {dullards and. fools} are mentioned 
in v. 32 (which is a resume of the preceding statement), there is 
ground for supposing v.~ b to be a scribal addition ; Wisdom is 
here dealing with the unwise. In v. 23a of the Heb. these persons 
are urged to listen to instruction, to turn (that is, give heed) to 
(not at} the admonition of Wisdom ; she promises to impart her 
knowledge to them. Admonition (or, reproof} (used chiefly in 
Pss., Pr.) is exhortation tinged with imputation of blameworthiness. 
For the reason given above this line should probably be omitted ; 
the remaining couplet (v. 23 ) will then be Wisdom s declaration that 
she now utters her final word. The word rendered Jitter (RV. 
pour out) is a poetical synonym of speak ; so i5~ 28 \\i i9 2(3) y8 2 94* 
iQi 1 1 145 ; and mind {spirit} = thought, here = purpose or deter 
mination. The Heb. word commonly rendered spirit means first 
wind and so breath, and then the inward life or being; in Pr. 
it generally has this last sense, as u 13 i6 2 3L> 2$ 2S 29" (so Isa. 40" 
the mind, judgment of Yahweh). Here the meaning is given by 
the parallelism : / will tell (or make known} my words = / will 
utter my thought.* The words (here decision} and the mind 
are stated in the following address (v. 24 27 ). My spirit may also 
= myself. The Heb. introduces the second line of v. 23 with 
behold. ( construes the two verses differently : So long as the 
guileless hold fast to righteousness they shall not be ashamed, but 
the foolish, being lovers of insolence, have become impious, have 
hated knowledge, and have become liable to reproof ; behold I 
will pour forth to you the utterance of my breath, and teach you 
my word. The declarative form (instead of the interrogation 
of the Heb.) is improbable, and the contrast in v. 22 is against 
the connection. Bickell reads : How long will ye love ignorance, 
and scorners delight them in scorning, and fools hate knowledge 
and incur my reproof? He thus gains a rhythmically symmetrical 

* So Salomon ben Melek, cited by Heid. 


quatrain, and (by obliterating the invitation of v.") gets rid of 
the break between v.---- ;! and the rest of the discourse, lint the 
substitution of incur for turn is arbitrary, v.- :k (which he omit>) 
is a natural introduction to the denunciatory discourse, and the 
omission of the subject (dullards} in v." !1 is, from the parallelism, 
improbable. , makes \v" ;a conditional : // \c turn . . . / 7 t <///, 
etc. ; but this construction only introduces confusion, since v.-" 1 
assume that they have not turned. 

24-33. The denunciation, consisting of a direct address (v.- 1 "" 7 ), 
a description, in 3 pers., of the fate of the recusant (v. LN " ;l ), and 
a statement of the contrasted positions of the ignorant and the 
wise (v. :J "- ;!;: ). 

24-27. Wisdom will mock at the calamity of those who reject 
her invitation. The lines may be read as ternary, but the law or 
rule governing the beats is not clear. V.- 1 - -* -" are couplets, v." 7 is a 
triplet in the Heb. ; the Grk. converts v.- 7 into a quatrain (or two 
couplets) by adding at the end when destruction comes upon \ou. 
Bickell, by omissions, substitutions, and transpositions, makes out 
of v.- (i - - 7 a quatrain : I also will laugJi in (the day of} your calamity, 
wJien distress and anguish conic upon you, I will mock when \our 
fear comes as a storm and your desolation comes as a whirlwind. 
V.- 7 in the Heb. is expansion of the predicates of v.- 5 , a recognized 
poetical form. It is not necessary to insist on absolutely symmet 
rical couplets at all hazards ; but, as the rest of the paragraph is 
arranged in couplets and quatrains, and as the two predicate-terms 
of v. L ", calamity and disaster, are given in v.- 7 " , and v.- 7 appears 
to be an afterthought (a scribal insertion), it is better to omit this 
last. The verbs in v.- 1 - refer to Wisdom s invitations in the past, 
that is, all the good influences of life ; warning has not been lack 
ing, and on the despised warning follows this minatory discourse. 
The first verb in v. 23 is primarily go freely al>out and let go free, 
then neglect, avoid, ignore; the sense of "allowing full play or 
license " is found in Ex. 5 32 ;:> I r. 29", that of " neglecting, avoid 
ing," in 4 1 8 : " 13" i5 ;j . Laugh at (instead of laugh in, etc.), 
v.- 1 , is possible (den. 39"), but does not agree so well with the 
designation of time in the following clause. Afock is stronger than 
laugh, expressing bitterness or exulting derision. The / /// my 


turn (RV. I also} brings out the contrast of persons : "You have 
had your turn, and I shall have mine." Disaster is \\\.. fear (par 
allel to calamity) = ground or cause of fear. Instead of storm we 
may render by desolation (RV. marg.), but the former sense is 
favored by the parallelism. Distress and anguish are synonyms 
(cf. Isa. 8-30 ), both signifying distressful limitation, straitness, 
opposed to largeness, freedom of movement (^ 3i 8(9) 1 18 5 ). Befall 
is lit. come upon. V. 270 is probably not original ; see note above. 
The address is minatory. The offence (v. 24 a ) is disregard of 
the exhortation of Wisdom she has implored, they have turned a 
deaf ear. Their posture of mind is that of deliberate disregard 
they have had sufficient warning. Whether their neglect came 
from lack of previous training, or from superficiality and frivolity 
of nature, or from conscious choice of evil in preference to good, 
is not said. The picture is presented objectively : these persons, 
for whatever reason, are outside the domain of Wisdom. This 
objective view is characteristic of the old-Israelitish thought, which 
does not seek nice psychological distinctions ; the prophets judge 
individuals and nations by their relation to the law of Yahweh or 
to the nation Israel, without examination of mental experiences ; 
compare also the distinction, in the Fourth Gospel, between the 
domains of light and darkness. Solidity of ethical judgment is 
thereby gained, though at the cost of sympathetic discrimination. 
- The result (v. 26 27 ) is that when the punishment comes the dis 
obedient will be without the support of Wisdom. The calamity 
(as everywhere in Pr.) occurs in this life it is not said to be 
inflicted by Wisdom, but comes in the natural course of things ; it 
is inevitable, a necessary result of the divine government of the 
world, which includes both natural law and special divine interven 
tion. On the one hand, the sage intimates, those who neglect 
Wisdom will naturally find themselves defenceless in the evil day 
which Wisdom alone can avert ; on the other hand, God as gov 
ernor will punish the evildoer. Wisdom is here first ordinary 
human sagacity, which saves man from misfortune, and then that 
higher sagacity which is the comprehension and assimilation of 
the good as divine, of that highest truth and right which God has 
embodied in his law. There is an approach here to the concep 
tion of communion with truth, or with the divine source of truth, 

T. 24-31 27 

as the strongest support of the ethical life. The personified 
Wisdom, who speaks as the final arbiter of men s destinies, is the 
insight that rules the \vorld, and is identical with (iod s moral la\v. 
-The discordant note in the announcement of retribution is 
Wisdom s mockery of the wretched sufferer. This is not in accord 
with her character as pure, divine intelligence, friendly to man (as 
she appears, for example, in 8" 1 )* ; the unhappy fate of the evil 
doer, it would seem, should call forth sorrow and not exultation. 
Such, however, is the tone of the old Hebrew thought ; the 
prophets exult in like manner over the downfall of the enemies of 
Israel. The Hebrew, whether prophet, psalmist, or sage, was a 
thoroughgoing partisan, identifying himself with his circle, and 
identifying his interests with the eternal order. Further, his gov 
ernmental conception of the world was purely external : the bad, 
from whatever point of view they were adjudged bad, were 
regarded as enemies of the realm, and their destruction was 
hailed with joy. Such seems to be the point of view of the writer 
of this passage. He does not feel that, though sin is to be de 
nounced and its consequences set forth, the sinner has a claim on 
the sympathy of his fellowmen ; he does not take into account 
temptations and struggles of soul. He contents himself with 
dividing men into two classes those who heed and those who 
reject wisdom. 

28-33. Resumptive description of the fate of the unwise 
(who are spoken of in third person), consisting of a detailed 
explanation of their punishment (v.- s - !1 ), and a statement of the 
general rule of compensation in life (v. ;! - " ). 

28-31. Resumptive description of punishment. Well formed 
couplets, synonymous, ternary, except that v. ;:lh is binary, the penult 
being a very long word. The correspondence with the preceding 
paragraph is close, with inversion of the order of thought : \v" 
answers to v.-"-- 7 , and v. 29 - 30 to v. 24 - 25 ; the conclusion is repeated 
in v: 1 . The rendering seek early (AY.) or seek diligently (\\\ .} 
rests on the derivation of the verb from a noun meaning morning, 
as if it signified to rise betimes in order to do one s work dili- 

* According to the Musoretic Hebrew text ; sec note on that verse below. 


gently;* but this derivation is improbable in the face of y 1 " n 27 , 
Job 7" 1 - the verb means simply seek, here parallel to call. The 
terms hated, chose not, would none, despised (v. -" J - :!0 ) are synonyms, 
expressing indifference or hostility to the instructions of Wisdom. 
In v:* ;u the counsel (or counsels] and admonition (or admoni 
tions) of Wisdom are contrasted with the man s own way (~ man 
ner or scheme of life, conduct} and counsels (or devices}. In v. 29 
Bickell would read the knowledge of God as the appropriate 
parallel to the fear of Yahweh (so in 2 "), which is also, perhaps, 
rhythmically an improvement of the text ; yet, as the former ex 
pression occurs only once in Pr. (and elsewhere in OT. only twice, 
Hos. 4 1 6, knowledge of the Most High once, Nu. 24 1G ), it is per 
haps better to retain the general term knowledge, which in v. 7 is 
identified with the fear of Yahweh. The thought is the same 
with that of the preceding paragraph, only with an added touch of 
irremediableness in v. 28 . The offenders who have deliberately 
rejected the counsels and appeals of Wisdom will find, when the 
day of punitive distress comes, that they need her aid, but they 
will ask it in vain ; she will be deaf to their cries, as they were deaf 
to her appeals. This is only a more vivid statement of the prin 
ciple affirmed in v. 31 , that every one must eat of the fruit of his 
own doings a universally recognized law of life. If it be asked, 
what room is here left for repentance? the answer of the sage is 
that the offenders have had ample opportunity to amend their 
ways, and have refused to change (v. 30 ). As to the term of 
repentance and the limit of Wisdom s patience, it is assumed that 
at a given moment God intervenes to punish, when sin has grown 
too great to bear, when the iniquity is full (Gen. i5 10 i8-- 21 ), but 
this moment is known to God alone. The point of view is exter 
nal : at a certain moment retribution inevitably comes (whether 
in the course of natural or civil law, or by supernatural inter 
vention), and then, in the nature of things, it is too late for the 
sinner to retrace his steps ; there is no reference here to a state 
of punitive blindness and moral deadness in which the man 
desires to repent and cannot, or is conscious that he is morally 

* It need hardly be added that the word early in this rendering of AV. has 
nothing to do with the tirne of life, 

lost ; * the cry of the sinner in v. js is for deliverance from physi 
cal evil. 

32, 33. The general rule. Both couplets are synonymous, 
ternary. 32. Indifference (r^w S) = arerscness, apostasv, recu 
sance, refusal, is the "turning away" from instruction and conse 
quently from right living. Careless ease (r S w) is primarilv ////if/, 
freedom from care and anxiety (as in 17 ), here, in bad sense, 
repose gained by ignoring or neglecting the serious responsibilities 
of life (nearly = negligence}. The two terms are, in their primary 
senses, mutually complementary : rejection of knowledge produces 
false security and deceptive peace, and the latter presupposes the 
former ; they are here substantially synonymous : refusal is indif 
ference, negligence. Insensate (= dullards} and fools as in v.". 
33. Secure may mean, objectively, free from danger (as in y 
Jer. 23 ), or subjectively, free from sense of danger (as in 3- 
Ju. 8"). The contrast with the slay of v."- favors the former 
meaning, but the second line (fear = apprehension) makes the 
latter probable. The sense of security is thus put over against the 
careless ease of fools (v." 1 ) . Wisdom sums up by stating the gen 
eral principle that ethical folly is self-destructive (so 5- - ) ; as to 
the means by which this destruction is effected see note on pre 
ceding verse. In contrast with the false peace of the ignorant is 
put the true peace which comes from wisdom a security which 
is assured by obedience to the laws of man and Clod. The refer 
ence is to freedom from outward misfortune ; the whole tone of 
the Book makes it improbable that the writer has in mind the 
inward peace which is independent of external experiences ; else 
where harm (RV. cril} is visible "misfortune" or "mischief" 
( v- !>. :;n H. is ^1 T 4 j ^-, 22 a!.}. Inward peace, resting on con 
sciousness of right and trust in God, was no doubt recognized and 
valued, but it is assumed in Pr. to be coincident with freedom 
from outward calamity, and is not treated as an independent fact. 



sion and intensity (Bott., Now., Siegf., Strack in Comtn., Karth) ; its predicates 
are sing. exc. in 24 7 .* n;i->, 3 sing. fern. Qal energic (or possibly Q. plu. of 
pi) ; it is unnecessary to point njnri (as in Job 39 23 ) ; Heid. s emendation 
n.31 n sina, adopted by Oort, is simple, and secures parallelism in the nouns, 
but loses it in the verbs. <S v/jLveirai (Lag. = ^.nn) is perh. Mid., prob. error 
for v/j,ve?; a Pass, is inappropriate and improbable. 21. |l] rvcn; reixtwv 
nicin; so 5 Nm 3 the tower (or castle or palace). The Partcp. *n never 
occurs alone, but always as predicate (j n 9 13 2O l Isa. 22 2 Jer. 4 19 Ez. 7 1 " ), 
and it is doubtful whether it can here be taken as subst.; the reading D^cin 
(8-) is graphically not too hard, or, after , we may read nsn. 1 an"" 1 ; 
<S dwao-Tuv c^i- (here inappropriate) to which wapedpevei is added, appar 
ently to fill out the clause. Jag. thinks tirl . . . irapedpeijei add. from 8 3 . 
Bickell omits a" 1 -^ and icxn (both of which, however, are called for by the 
connection), and for "vya writes ci". We should rather omit "vyj, and mcN 
as glosses. The Vrss. (exc. <@) follow |^ with unimportant variations, and 
the glosses must have been early. 22. inn ~\y (<S 6uov &v %p6wv) is always 
interrog. in OT. On ovifl see note on v. 4 above; the final letter of the stem 
is omitted because not pronounced nnsn Qal = 13?NP ; ex w " rcu > perh. 
free rendering, perh. (Lag.) scribal error for tpuvrai. Instead of Perf. ncn 
we expect Impf. (& acre/Sets yev6/j.ei>oi, perh. (Lag.) = ai*? D3 onTiS (read 
C^rro) instead of $,} 01 cn 1 ^. 23. $fy Uirr; (5 Kal vwetiOvvoi iytvovro pos 
sibly = 13 irr (Lag., Heid., cf. Aboth, i, 11) or (Bi.) = I^-NII. But as 3in is 
prob. a loan-word from the Aram., found only Dan. I 11 (Ez. i8 7 the noun is 
corruption, probably of air), its occurrence here is doubtful. If the line (v. 23 ") 
be retained, the Impf. (which cannot have Impv. force) must be changed to 
Impv. m- (the n perh. repeated from preceding nyi) ; so also Dyserinck. 
J?3J gush, iS 4 ; elsewhere only Hif. = speak, exc. in Eccl. lo 1 , where the text 
is doubtful. 1? ^nn; (5 e/x^s TTPO^S pTjatv, paraphrastic, perh. (Lag.) to avoid 
the expression TTVOTJV TrpoieaOai = die ; the verb has the sense of utter, The 
change of pers. in the verbs in v. 22 - 23 is a common rhetorical usage in OT. 
24. |) ];, omitted by Bi., apparently for the sake of the rhythm, is desirable, 
if not necessary, as introduction to v. 2G . |^ UNcm; $5 Kal ovx vwriKova-are, 
free rendering of $?, or from some form of yss or r\y; (hardly from 3Tpn, as 
in 2 2 ) ; 52u pnjcin S, from irsxn NS. (SS2T render a ^pn by a verb 2 j)lu., 
assimilation of the translator. 25. >nrm-", noun as obj. of ri3N only here, 
elsewhere (as v. 33 ) with pref. S, and so perh. to be written here (Oort). The 
two nouns in this v. are plu. in <@, the second in 1L, variations coming from 
script, defect. 26. (5 prefixes roiyapovv as natural connective. 1$ TN; 
cbrwAet i?, as Job 2i 3 3<D 12 ; Ileid., = i3N. 5^J IHD; SXefyos, perh. = -i-o 
(Gr.), which, however, is nowhere else so rendered (24 Job 30-* 3i 29 ). 
27. K. nixr, O. ns ^c 1 , both from nsir; freely &(pvu, and so <S, Rashi, and 
apparently 3C. p? ino and TN % ; (5 ^6pn/3os and Karaffrpo^r], rhetorical varia- 

* On rv>S L "n, Eccl. ii" 2 12 /., cf. Barth, A 7 /?., } 259 c, Comms. of Tyler and Palm, 
and Strack in Stud. u. A rif., 1896, IV. 

II. 3 , 

lions from the renderings in v.- ; . 5 attaches v.- 7a to v. - Vl , ami <S adds a fourth 
line (Jag, Lag.) in v.- 7 ; these changes show tliat the old translators found 
difficulties in the rhythm. I .i. takes v.- l! - - " in the following order: - la - - 71 - 
-W - -" , tranferring HN -JT to v.- 1 , throwing out C:-~D xbi in v.- 7 as scribal 
repetition, and writing cr^u- instead of C:TN. Tlie rhythm thus gained is 
hardly better than that of |i), except in that it gets rid of the triplet. It would 
be simpler, if the triplet is judged insupportable, to regard v.- 7 as a gloss, the 
addition of a familiar expression (see note on this line above); ef. the similar 
expression in the triplet of \f/ n6 \ in contrast with the couplets of ^ i8 : . 
28. <5 wrongly puts v.- Sa as direct address. The verb ->n-j occurs, outside of 
Job, I ss., Pr., only in IIos. 5 15 Isa. 26 ; 1L here mane consiir^ent (and similarly 
elsewhere in Pr., e\c. y 10 ). Denominalives of the caus. stem (rarely of the 
simple stem) are frequent in Arab, and Ileb. (so zy- -, ) to express the doing 
of a thing at a certain time of the day, but they do not then contain a substan- 
tively additional idea like seek ; the primitive sense of the stem is doubtful. ( >n 
the old ending j of the verb in j: nn;:"> see liottcher, I.ehrb., II. 950, 1047 f., 
and Toy, in Tram. Amer. Phil. Assoc.,Vol XI. iSSo. After -:- (3 adds 
KO.KOL as subject, unnecessary general interpretative gloss, not (Lag.) addition 
of a Christian scribe to avoid contradiction of Mt. 7"- s . 29. |1) r ;-<, t^ l! <ro- 
(piav, for which we should expect aiffOrjo-iv, yet <7. is not necessarily Christian 
(Lag.) or Alexandrian (Ileicl.); (5 A ira.i.oia.v, 1L disciplinam (= "Di^ v. 2 ). 
|t? rs-"; (5 B \6yov, peril, interpretation of an Alex, scribe. 30. (3 has the 
two nouns in plu. (script, defect ). 31. 11) .- >;:; 6 freely dcre/ie/as; ;: is 
used in ( )T. in bad sense, exc. Pr. 22- . 32. nj>u ; ", always in bad sense in 
( )T. <S dvd wvyap r;5iKovi> vrjiriovs, taking "2 as trans. = turn aside, oppress, 
hardly = retribution (Jag. because of retribution for \_thcir treatment of ] 
children they shall be sluing, or from ns^-^ (Schleusn.) assailing, or (Lag.) 
."^-30 injustice. |t? ri^u 1 ; eferaa-^o? = r^xr or r^r (so ") 5T \v v - 
^;v-or, free rendering of %). |i] n;-i in: 1 :; (^ * , dfio/lus dirb wavrbs KCLKOV, 
where IT. is insertion for sake of definiteness. Cf. Clem. Alex., 162, 181. In 
|1) r^U and pxu ; there seems to be a verbal play. ^ J3 is adverbial. n;-~ 
^n; may mean disaster of harm, but :, = disaster, is not elsewhere defined by 
a noun of source. 

II. A discourse setting- forth the blessing s conferred by Wis 
dom, the sage (and not AYisdom herself) being the speaker. It 
consists of one well-sustained sentence (K\v.), each paragraph 
being linked to the preceding by a connective word ; the rhyth 
mical arrangement appears to be in quatrains. After the protasis, 
stating, as the necessary condition, earnest application to the 
teaching of wisdom (v. 1 " 4 ), comes the long apodosis (v. - -), giving 
a double result: first, the knowledge of (lod and its attendant 
blessing (v/ " 8 , apparently an insertion or a parenthesis) : second 


(v. 9 " 22 ), the comprehension of probity (v. !) - 20 ), and the possession 
of wisdom as guide (v. 1(l ll ), which will deliver from evil men 
(v. 12 " 15 ) and evil women (v. 1& ~ la ), and so lead to the reward of the 
upright (v.- 1 ), in contrast with the fate of the wicked (v. 22 ). 

1-4. The condition of enjoying the protection of Wisdom. 

1. My son, if thou receive my words 

And lay up my commandments with thee, 

2. So that thou incline thine ear to wisdom, 
Apply thy mind to discernment, 

3. If thou cry to understanding, 
And invoke discernment, 

4. If thou seek her as silver, 

Search for her as for hid treasures 

1-4. Mind, lit. heart, is (as always in OT.) the whole inward 
nature, here particularly intellectual capacity, attention (so that thy 
heart substantially = thyself}. Discernment and understanding 
are synonyms, equivalent to intellectual perception and wisdom, 
here with ethical-religious coloring. It is unto (not for) discern 
ment and understanding that the pupil is to cry he calls to her 
to come to him and instruct and help him. The Grk. and Lat. 
Vrss. divide the sentence differently from the Hebrew. Grk. : 
If thou receive the utterance of my commandment and hide it with 
thee, thine ear shall hearken to wisdom, and thou shalt apply, etc. ; 
Lat. : If thou receive . . . and hide . . . , that thine ear may hearken, 
etc. (then} incline thy heart, etc. But it seems clear that the con 
dition includes the whole paragraph, v. 1 " 4 . The sage emphasizes 
the necessity of earnestness in the pursuit of wisdom the expres 
sions increase in intensity from receive, lay up (hide), incline, 
apply, to cry, lift up the voice, and then seek, search. Study of 
wisdom is represented as an organized discipline requiring clefi- 
niteness of purpose and concentration of powers. The prophets 
demand conformity to the law of Yahweh, and exhort that he 
himself be sought ; here attention is directed to a principle and 
body of moral and religious knowledge. 

1. Synonymous, ternary. The sage speaks on his own authority 
(my words}, appealing neither to a divine revelation to himself, 


nor to the teaching of a human master (a trait characteristic of 
the Wisdom literature). He is conscious of having words to utter 
which it behooves all men to hear. He does not stand apart from 
the law of God, but he is an independent expounder of the divine 
moral law, having received it into his mind, and comprehending 
its nature and effects intellectually and morally. The prophet 
speaks in the name of Yahweh, and gives a specific divine 
message ; the sage speaks in his own name, representing philo 
sophical reflection, the authority in which is the divinely given 
human reason and conscience. The term commandments, the 
same that is used in the prophetical and legal books for the moral 
and ritual ordinances of Yahweh, here denotes the sage s own in 
structions, which in v. 2 are identified with wisdom. 2. Synony 
mous, ternary. Epexegetical equivalent of v. 1 , put in Heb. as 
purpose (in order that thou mayst incline}, or, as we more nat 
urally conceive it, as result (so that). Mind (lit. heart} is the 
whole inward perceptive nature. The Heb. word is not properly 
represented by Eng. heart, which conveys to the modern reader 
the impression of a particularly emotional element. Physiologi 
cally, the OT. locates emotion in the bowels, and intellect in the 
heart ; the brain (not mentioned in OT.) was not regarded by 
the ancients as having intellectual significance.* 3. Synonymous, 
ternary. The Heb. begins with a particle (usually =for} which 
may probably be rendered yea (so RV.) ; it is merely resumptive, 
and may be omitted in an Eng. translation. The Syr. reads and 
if; the Targ., by the change of a vowel, has and call understand 
ing nwtJicr. Invoke, lit. lift up tlie voice to call to, synonym of 
cry to. 4. Synonymous, ternary-binary. Hid treasures, etymo- 
logically something hidden, then treasure, from the custom, in the 
absence of secure places in houses, of hiding valuables in the 
earth or in holes in rocks : see Jer. 41* Job 3- Gen. 43 >J;{ (some 
thing concealed and unknown), Isa. 45 ; (where the word = simply 
treasure, the adj. hidden being added) ; cf. Mt. 13"; the notion 
of something hidden away for safety seems generally to inhere in 
the expression ; here there is also the suggestion that effort is 
necessary to find and secure it. 

* Of the Semitic languages it is only Arabic that has a word (divu^ for brain; 
the origin of this word is uncertain ; the adj. dam ig means stupid. 


II. 1. inN (poetic word) always in plu. in Pr., 121 being used for sing., 
II 13 al. 2. As to the force of S and Inf. here cf. Ew., 280 d ; (5 vwaKovcre- 
TQI ffo<pias rb ols <rov; IL ut audiat sapientiam auris tua, perh. free transla 
tion, perh. taking I;TN as subject, as in Isa. %2 S (Qal Impf.), in which case, 
though Inf. is possible, we should expect Qal Impf., since ftN never occurs as 
subj. with Hif. (apparently not in i/ io 17 ) ; <{ render by the Impf. in con 
tinuation of the construction of v. 1 , perh. = a^ prn, a good reading, yet it is 
doubtful whether SC had a text different from that of f|J. The Impf. ron 
continues the telic or ecbatic sense of the preceding construction; a i before 
it is appropriate but not necessary. JoJC render it by a Fut., li, by an Impv. 
begins the apod, with v. 2 . v. 2b is given by in double form, first = j, 
and then an improbable variation (regarded as genuine by Jag., Lag.) in which 
ijaS is read instead of "pS, but the introduction of son is pointless, doubtless 
scribal error. 3. >a cannot here = for (<5IL), nor can ax o = but (Hitz.), 
with supposition of a preceding neg. clause. @T omits o and inserts i before 
ax; J5 has simply &np.i% perh. free rendering of |^. There is no good 
ground in ancient authorities for omitting T, and it must be taken ( = yea\ 
as emphatic introduction of the new conditional clause. 1 ON; { a.v, and 
so Ue R. 874 (379) in Bibl. Erfurt. I.; see Berakoth 57 a, where this clause is 
cited for the interpretation of a dream respecting one s mother, and cf. Cappel., 
Crit. Sac. 5. 2. 2. The reading of 2T comes from an old midrash (Norzi), and 
the omission of o is a consequence of free citation. 1 nra; <@ ffofiiav 
(instead of <t>povr]<ris ), which Heid. takes to be Alexandrian Jewish, and Lag. 
Christian. Some MSS. of (B al "g- i f - A sup ras C a ) and edd. (Comp. Aid. 
and J5 11 obel.) add at end of v. 3 TTJK 5 afodr)crii> fijr^o-ijs /xe7(Xr? rrj 4>uvfj, 
which Jager considers to be the true <8 text of 1 , = Sij Spa cpan njnnSi; in 
favor of this is its divergence from J. Against its being the true text of Pr. 
is perh. the parallelism and the occurrence of spa in the next verse. Gr. 
suggests, with little probability, that 3 b may be dittogram of 2 b . 

5-8. The consequence of the condition expressed in v. 1 - 4 . If 
wisdom be embraced, then the man will understand the fear of 
Yahweh (v. 5 ), for Yahweh is the source of wisdom (v. G ), and the 
protector of the upright (v. 7 8 ). Apparently an editorial insertion. 
The proper apodosis to v. 1 " 4 is v. 9ff : if thou seek wisdom, then 
(v. 10 ) wisdom will come to thee. V. 5 " 8 introduce a new thought, and 
were probably added by an editor who thought that the central 
idea of these discourses, the fear of Yahweh, ought not to be 
lacking here. See further in notes below. 

5. Then shall thou understand the fear of Yahweh, 
And find the knowledge of God; 

6. For Yahweh gives wisdom, 

Out of his mouth come knowledge and discernment; 

II- 5-6 35 

y. He lays up deliverance for the upright, 

Is a shield to those who walk in integrity; 

8. lie guards the paths of probity, 

5. The fear of Yahweh. Synonymous, ternary. The divine 
name God {Elohini) oecurs elsewhere in Pr. four times, 2 " 3 25- 
30 - ; the expression knowledge of God in OT. only here and Hos. 
4 6 U (Nu. 24 10 knowledge of the Most Jligli}. In the preexilian 
literature Elohim is used as proper name only in the Elohistic 
narrative (Am. 4 11 Hos. i2 :H4) seem to be citations from this nar 
rative), not in any prophetic writing except in the passages above 
mentioned (not in Hos. 4 6 ; Mic. 3 7 ). After the exile it grad 
ually became a proper name (the local, national sense of Yahweh 
disappearing), and in Pr. = Yahweh. The change of name here 
is rhetorical variation. The fear of Yahweh (the fear or rever 
ence directed toward him) is equivalent to the knowledge of God 
(the knowledge which has to do with him). The first expression 
represents the God of Israel as the source of all ethical authority 
and law, and reverent obedience to him as the principle of life ; 
the second declares that true learning is concerned with the ethical 
character of God and the duties which he imposes ; knowledge is 
not only intellectual apprehension, but also communion of soul. 
Wisdom is thus conceived of as both an attitude of soul and a 
body of knowledge, all in the sphere of religion. This old- 
Hebrew point of view stands in the Book of Proverbs in organic 
union with the human ethical conception of life in this way : the 
moral content of life is based not on ritual and ecclesiastical law, 
but on reason and conscience, and these are the gift of God (see 
next verse). We have here, on the one hand, the recognition of 
the mind of man as a source of truth, and, on the other hand, the 
assertion that the moral potency of the mind is the creation of 
God. This larger conception came to the Jews through natural 
growth under the stimulus of foreign (mainly Greek) thought. 
Instead of sJialt (which implies determination on the part of the 
speaker, or else is hypothetical) we may write wilt (which ex 
presses futurity simply). Gf. note on i : . 6. Synonymous, ter 
nary. Yahweh the source of wisdom. This is stated as the 
ground of the affirmation of v. , and brings this paragraph into 


logical relation with v. 1 " 4 . He who seeks wisdom will understand 
the fear or knowledge of God, because all knowledge comes from 
him. The reference is probably to the whole moral thought and 
conduct of man human instincts, the results of experience, the 
common-law of morality, as well as the ethical prescriptions con 
tained in the Israelitish canonical and oral codes. The stress, 
however, is laid on man s moral nature, which is represented as a 
divine gift. The expression out of his mouth (Grk. from his 
presence) means from him; he utters his command and man 
receives wisdom ; the reference seems not to be to his giving a 
law (the Tora), which would not agree with the general connec 
tion. The mouth of Yahweh, a frequent expression in the proph 
ets, is found only here in Pr. (Str.) ; here alone God is teacher, 
elsewhere Wisdom. The expression occurs in Job 22", and in a 
few late v/^s, 105 up 72 - 88 138*. 7, 8. Synonymous, ternary. 
Yahweh protects the upright. The word rendered deliverance 
occurs, except Isa. 2S 29 and (the textually doubtful) Mic. 6 9 , only 
in Job and Pr. It appears to signify the act or power of estab 
lishment or arrangement, and so fertility in expedients, wisdom, 
and, as result, achievement, help, deliverance. The last sense is 
the one here naturally suggested by the parallel shield. This latter 
word is to be taken (in the present Heb. text) as in apposition 
with the subject (Yahweh) of the preceding clause. The syn 
onymous expressions the upright and those who walk in integrity 
indicate right conduct in general ; the upright are those who con 
form their lives to the straight line of moral and religious pro 
priety ; integrity is perfectness of life. The reference is to general 
substantial rectitude, not to absolute freedom from sin or error, or 
to the inner life of the soul ; cf. Gen. 2o 5 i K. g 4 i// ioi 2 Pr. 19*. - 
8 presents the same thought in the form of purpose or result 
(epexegetical equivalent), so as to guard, he guards the way, 
that is, the life and interests,. of those who obey him. The ex 
pression guard the paths of probity is peculiar and difficult; the 
verb means either keep, observe, or guard, have an eye on ; in the 
former sense it is followed as object by the law observed, as in 3 1 
5 2 28 7 Dt. 33 \l/ iiQ 33 al. ; in the latter sense by the person or 
concrete thing to be defended, as in 2 11 4 Isa. 26" al. (once, 22 12 , 
by knowledge), or by the thing to be watched, as in Job 7 20 . As 

II. 6-8 37 

Yahweh is subject, it is the latter sense that appears to be 
intended here ; yet everywhere else the path of probity (or its 
equivalent) is something that is walked in, as in \v", not guarded, 
though the way of a man is said to be scrutinized (Job i$- 7 ) or 
controlled (i// 139") by God. As the text stands, paths of probity 
must be regarded as a poetical variation of paths of the upright 
(cf. v.-), equivalent to the parallel wav of tJie pious (Heb. his 
pious ones, RV. saints"). On probity see note on i :; . The pious 
man (~*C~) is he who is characterized by kindness, lore ( """). 
The stem seems to signify any strong feeling toward a person, 
whether unfriendly, envy (as in Arabic), or friendly, kindness (as 
in Heb.), or both (as in Aramaic, and cf. 14" 25 " Lev. 20 ). 
The substantive is used of kindness shown to man by man (Gen. 
24 lL> ) or by God (Ex. 34", often in Pss.), whether of man s acts 
toward Gotl (Hos. 6 4 - 1 <// 89- 2 Chr. 32 ;! - 35- Xeh. i3 14 ) is doubt 
ful. The adj. is used twice of God (Jer. 3 1 - ^ i8 - "" : = 2 Sam. 
22 - "), many times of man. It may be active, = loving or passive, 
^beloved. It is the former sense in which it is used of God, and 
this seems to be its meaning throughout OT., though the other 
is possible, and, in most cases, appropriate; the deity might be 
thought of as the bestower and the worshipper as the recipient of 
favors, or the latter might be regarded as bound to his god by a 
sentiment of love and devotion, which, at first physical and mer 
cenary, would grow more and more ethically and spiritually pure ; 
the active sense is favored by the parallelism in i// i<S - ( - ; , with the. 
kind (merciful, good) thou wilt show thyself kind. The adj. 
occurs first in the second half of the seventh century (Mir,. 7- Dt. 
33 s Jer. 3 -), and elsewhere only in late poetry (i Sam. 2 2 Chr. 
6" Pr. 2 s and Pss.). When it began to be employed in the sense 
of devoted to God, pious (the rendering saint is inappropriate) 
can hardly be determined. In the second century, in the struggle 
between Antiochus Kpiphanes and the Jews, it appears as a tech 
nical term to designate those who strictly maintained the religion 
of Israel against the inroads of Hellenism (i Mac. ^ - AmSiuot, 
Hasidean or Asidean).* In some Pss. ( -<> K(>- i lO 1 ,i/.) it means 
pious Israel in contrast with surrounding heathen oppressors or 

* Cf. \\Vilh;msen, Die P/ia/ isacf u. d. SaducAa / Schurcr, . / the } . 
People, II. ii. 26. 


apostate Jews. In Pr. it is found only here, in an editorial inser 
tion (perhaps of the second century B.C.) ; it is here a general 
term for pious. 

5 (gu s A a-uvrjo-ds (frbfiov, for which Clem. Al., 121, has wjycrets 
In v. 5b B = ??; Cl. Alex. K. a.tff6t)<Tiv 6da.v evpri<Teis (and so Orig.), free ren 
dering, probably original (Lag.). 6. ^ v:r; <S B airb irpoauTrov af/rov = 
vjsr, apparently scribal error. 7. K jasi, Q (and some MSS.), better, fOi"> 
(1L custodief), since the couplets appear to be independent statements; 
<@ K. Orjffavpifei, = pj Kethib (not = las), as in i 18 . 1$ nv^.-i; < (MSS.) 
ff<i3T7]pia.v, 5L salutem, Cl. Al. jloriOeiav, @T in MS. (cited by Levy, Chald. 
Wbch.*) "?}, in Bibl. Rab., 1568, "nap /^#, in ]>uxt., Lag. -pnar glory. 
f$ fir, rendered by vb. or partcp. in the Vrss. : <@ vwepainrie?, 1L et proteget, 
S?2C V Doi; |Q is curt poetic construction, instead of the ordinary Kin *c; we 
expect a verb protect (but the stem does not occur in OT. in this sense) or 
a noun = protection as object of IDS (but no such noun suggests itself); 3 
cannot be object of "> JJJ ah vp^nS; rrjv tropeiav avrCiv = an^SnS (Vog., 
Schleusn.), as in i/ 67 (68) 25 . 8. $% li j 1 , equivalent proposition represented 
as purpose or result; < has i and Perf., and we may here read Impf. ; Gr. 
isiV, but this does not accord with b . fQ asu 3 is given in all the Vrss., except 
that (@ (except Cod. 23) has plu. K. ipn sing.; Q and many Ileb. MSS. 
and all Vrss. have plu., as the context requires; 9T omits the suffix. Oort, to 
secure perfect parallelism, reads : n2w 1 > iion "pii and {that they may) pre 
serve the way of piety toward him (or, the way of his kindness) ; but this is 
not in keeping with the general idea in v. 6 " 8 , in which Yahweh is subject, and 
iiDn TIT is hard; it would be easier to change !OD- 3 to B">:y or apis (cf. v 20 ). 

9-22. The proper conclusion to the condition stated in v. 1 - 4 : 
first, the comprehension of righteousness (v. !) 2U ) , then the guid 
ance and protection of Wisdom (v. 1(MO ), with the reward of 
goodness and the punishment of wickedness (v. 21 -). V. 20 should 
probably be transposed so as to stand next after vA In its present 
position it interrupts the connection between v. 19 and v. 21 , while 
by its thought it attaches itself naturally to v. !) . 

9, 20. Comprehension of rectitude. 

9. Then shalt thou understand righteousness and probity, 

> Shalt keep > every path of good, 
20. That thou mayest walk in the way of good men, 
Mayest follow the paths of the righteous. 

9. The verse is not a poetical couplet in the Heb., which reads 
in second line : and rectitude every path of good, giving the first 

IT. 9, 20 


three nouns in the order in which they occur in i\ There the 
rhythmical form is proper; here it is defective, and (though it is 
possible that the three nouns may have been originally taken from 
i 3 ) it seems better (by an easy emendation) to write the verb 
which the parallelism calls for: cf. the expressions keep (= follow} 
the paths in v.-, and keep my ways in 8"-. On the nouns in first 
line see notes on r. Path (2 1: - lfS 4 u -- 5 - 1 ^ 23 ) is lit. wagon- 
road, then any way ; the following good defines the path as lying 
in the domain or leading in the direction of what is (morally) 
good. The then attaches this section to v. M : " if thou earnestly 
seek wisdom, thou shall be morally enlightened, shall acquire intel 
lectual acumen in ethical questions, and [if the emendation sug 
gested above be correct] the power of right action " ; freedom of 
choice is implied, and it is assumed that he who fully knows the 
good way will follow it.* On the substitution of wilt for shall 
see note on v/ above. 20. Synonymous, ternary. The purpose 
that thou maycst walk involves result. The verse thus expands 
the second line of v. !l . At the end of first line the Heb. has 
simply the word good (plural) ; the parallelism favors the render 
ing good men (i\Q\.good things}. Good is the general term for 
fitness of all sorts, here used of moral fitness and rectitude. 
Follow is lit. keep. The righteous or just man is he who does 
justice, Tightness (see note on r ). The epithel is applied in OT. 
to man and to God, but its significance, depending on the con 
tent of the current idea of justice, varies with ihe different periods 
of Heb. hislory. Yahweh is just to a man or to Israel when he 
acts in accordance with natural or legal right. In the earlier 
phase of thought Israel s national right was held to be victory over 
its enemies, and justice came to be equivalent to rictorv, as in 
Ju. 5" i S. i2 7 Jer. 5 1 10 . The purely ethical conception grew 
with the general ethical growth of the people ; and in the pro 
phetical and later books (see, for ex., K/. iS) tends to become 
predominant, though the primitive idea lingers in places. In I r. 
righteous = morally and religiously good in general ; the word 
(\\ke good a.v\& perfect} expresses not absolute sinlessncss, but gen 
eral rectitude. In late exilian and postexilian writings it is often 

* So Pluto and the Stoics. 


a synonym for the faithful part of Israel (Isa. 53" 26* \f/ 3i 18 19 94^ 
/.). The Grk. reads the verse as a conditional sentence, and 
connects it immediately with v. 19 : for if they had gone in good 
paths they would have found the paths of righteousness easy, the 
Heb. is preferable. Bickell omits the verse as marring the 
strophic structure of the paragraph ; but this difficulty disappears 
in the arrangement here adopted. 

10-19. The moral protection afforded by Wisdom. Wisdom, 
entering the soul (v. 10 ) and keeping watch over it (v. 11 ), saves 
the man from the influence of bad men (v. 12 ~ 15 ) and bad women 

(v. 10 ~ ly ). 

10. For wisdom shall enter thy mind, 

And knowledge shall be pleasant to thee, 

11. Discretion shall watch over thee, 
Discernment shall guard thee, 

12. To save thee from the manner of life of bad men, 
From men whose speech is wicked, 

13. Who leave the paths of uprightness, 
To walk in ways of darkness, 

14. Who rejoice in doing wrong*, 
[And] in iniquities take delight, 

15. Whose paths are crooked, 
And iniquitous their ways 

1 6. To save thee from the lewd woman, 
From the harlot with her cajoling words, 

1 7. W T ho forsakes the friend of her youth, 
And forgets the covenant of God. 

1 8. For her house leads down(?) to Death, 
And her paths unto the Shades; 

19. None that go to her return, 
Or attain the paths of life. 

10, 11. Wisdom as guardian. 10. Synonymous, ternary. 
The entrance of Wisdom into the soul ; cf. Job 14" . Knowledge 
= wisdom ; see note on i 2 . On mind (lit. heart) see note on 
v. 2 above. Enter and be pleasant to are synonyms, = become 
acceptable to thee, a part of thy intellectual and moral being." - 
Thee is lit. thy soul ; the term soul means the principle of life, 
and so life or being, and my soul, thy soul, are common expres- 

II. 10-11 41 

sions in OT. for me (or, myself), t/iee (or, thyself). The Heb. 
word does not emphasize spirituality of thought, but, being a gen 
eral term for the principle of life, it may, like its synonym mint/, 
express any intellectual power. 11. Synonymous, ternary-binary. 
On discretion (or, insight) ax\& discernment (or, intelligence) see 
notes on i 4 and 2-. The guardianship (the result of Wisdom s 
entrance into the soul) is subjective the man s security is in his 
own reason and conscience, in the law of life which these give ; 
the whole is, however, viewed as finally the ordination of God, 
though not in the form of an external law. These two verses 
give the ground of the preceding statement (v. ;> -") ; understand 
ing will be gained by the entrance of Wisdom into the mind, not 
in a forced manner, but so that she shall be acceptable, pleasant 
to the soul. The man is represented as assimilating wisdom, 
coming into harmony with it, following it not through external 
pressure, but by inward impulse ; to do right becomes delightful 
to him. This is largely because he sees the advantages of recti 
tude (v. L>1 ) ; but there is probably still to be recognized here the 
germ of the idea of transformation of nature (a development out 
of such conceptions as those of Jer. 3i :!:! Ez. 36- ). The Grk. 
takes v. 10 as condition, and v. 11 as its result : 10. for if wisdom 
enter . . . and knowledge seem beautiful ... n. good counsel 
shall guard thee, etc. (the same construction may be got from the 
Heb. by rendering when Wisdom shall enter). This construction 
is not decidedly against the context, and gives a good sense : it 
seems, however, to be less natural than the causal construction 
(for), not because the nouns in v. 11 are identical in meaning with 
those in v. 10 (such repetition would not be against the manner of 
Pr.). but because, as v. 9 - 20 state the result of the condition of v. ~ 
we more naturally expect in v. 10 not a new condition, but a ground 
or reason of the preceding statement. The general sense is the 
same in the two constructions. There is no need to take \ 
parentheses; v. 1 - is logically connected with v." (see below). - 
Jiickell, in order to gain an additional couplet (an omission being 
indicated, as he thinks, by a discrepancy of gender in the Heb.) 
expands v. 1 " as follows : for wisdom shall 

knowledge unto thy soul \jhall come, instruction sliall />e goo,/ /<> 
thy mind, and learning to /iy soul] shall be pleasant. This inser- 


tion is without support from the Anc. Vrss., and seems not to be 
necessary or probable ; the text, as it stands, gives a satisfactory 
sense and a good rhythm, and the quatrain, which is here desid 
erated, is gained by the transference of v. 20 . On the grammatical 
point see critical note. 

12-15. First, Wisdom saves from bad men. 12. Synonymous, 
ternary. Instead of the Infin. to save, expressing purpose or result, 
we may, by a slight change, read she will save (Bickell) ; the change 
does not affect the general sense. Manner of life is lit. way, and 
whose speech is wicked is lit. who speak wickedness (or wrong or 
wicked things) . The Heb. has, in second clause, sing, man (appar 
ently used in collective sense) ; the plu. form accords better in 
Eng. with the following verses. Instead of way of bad (men) we 
may render way of the bad (man), and so in second clause the 
man who speaks ; or way of evil; or, possibly, evil (or, wicked) 
way. The concrete form (man or men) in first clause is favored by 
the parallelism, and the plu. is more natural here in English. The 
adj. bad or evil (in) is used in OT. of any sort of badness, of 
body (Gen. 4i 3 ), of appearance or deportment (Ex. 2i 8 ), of expe 
rience or fortune (Jer. 4), of moral or religious conduct (passim) ; 
it describes whatever does not conform to a norm it is the oppo 
site of the equally general term good (Sits) ; it is here the morally 
bad. Cf. note on the subst. evil, i 33 . A wrong thing (rTCBnn) 
is that which is turned aside from the path of right ; its meaning 
is not precisely expressed by perverse (which answers to it etymo- 
logically), or by RV. f reward (which = refractory, perverse, ob 
stinate) ; it may sometimes be properly rendered \yyfalse, but in 
Pr. it is a general term, signifying that which is opposed to the 
right (= wicked, bad) it occurs in Dt. 32 20 (they are a genera 
tion given to falsities, persons in whom no confidence can be placed), 
and elsewhere only in Pr. Bad men are here described by their 
conduct or manner of life (way) and their speech ; the two things 
are treated as equivalent each to the other, speech being regarded 
as the indication of thought and life. The sage lays stress on the 
power of evil association : to avoid bad men is to be saved from 
evil suggestion from without, from the reinforcement that sym 
pathy gives to the evil within the heart. He warns against a 

n. ii-i 4 43 

malign moral influence, which is not the only one in life, but is 
the most obvious, and one of the most powerful. Rashi says that 
the men here referred to are Epicureans (that is, heretics in gen 
eral), who seduce Israel to idolatry and pervert the law to evil.* 
13. Antithetic, ternary. Description of the conduct of bad 
men. Uprightness is a general term for rectitude ; it appears first 
in the Deuteronomistic vocabulary (l)t. 9 i K. 9 i C. 29 "), and 
then only in the Wisdom books; it always has a religious coloring, 
except in Job 6" , and, perhaps, Keel. 12" . That these men leave 
(or forsake) rectitude does not imply that they had once followed 
right paths, but only that they have chosen other paths. Their 
walk is the way of darkness in contrast with the light which illu 
mines the way of wisdom, the darkness (as the parallelism sug 
gests) here characterizing the sphere (as in Jno. 3 1; ~ 21 ) rather than 
the result (as in 4 1;| ) ; evil (in contrast with uprightness) seeks 
the concealment of darkness. Such, from the parallelism, seems 
to be the sense in this passage, though everywhere else in OT. 
where light and darkness are used figuratively it is the guidance 
and safety of the former and the danger of the latter that are indi 
cated (Isa. 2- 42" i// 27 1 Pr. 4 1S 6- :! 13" i6 13 Isa. 58 .// iS LS( - ; " Keel. 
2 14 Pr. 20 - 1 "), and so it may be here with the term darkness. The 
employment of the two terms to express spheres of life charac 
terizes the Mazdean sacred books. 14. Synonymous, ternary. 
A stronger touch. The connective and is inserted in accordance 
with the general norm of the couplets. Iniquities (lit. iniquities 
of evil} is the same word in the Heb. that is rendered wrong 
things in v. 12 ; there the reference was to words, here it is to 
deeds in both cases it is the opposite of right that is meant; it 
is here (if the text be correct), for the sake of emphasis and 
vigor, qualified by the term cril (or, wickedness}. The rejoice 
and delight are a heightening of \\\z forsake of the preceding verse ; 
bad men, it is said, not only deliberately choose wicked ways, but 
also take pleasure in them. The sage, in stating this familiar fact, 
is probably to be understood not as implying that men delight in 
evil as evil, but only as meaning that wrongdoing, interwoven into 
life, becomes a source of enjoyment, the enjoyment coming from 


the momentary good result, not from the consciousness of commit 
ting an unlawful or unrighteous deed. Other things being equal, 
men, as a rule, prefer right to wrong. The murderer in i 11 " 13 is 
represented as committing murder not for its own sake, but to get 
gain of goods ; his wrong is not in desiring wealth, but in using 
improper means to secure it. Wicked men are those whose con 
sciences are not tender and strong enough to prevent their enjoy 
ing good things evilly gained. There is a formal resemblance 
between this v. and Job 3 22 , perh. imitation by our author.* 
15. Synonymous, ternary-binary. Variation of the preceding verses 
description of bad life as departure from the right path. The 
Heb. reads (with insertion of a pronoun) whose paths are crooked 
and (they) iniquitous in their ways (so substantially AV.). Slight 
changes in the text give the renderings who are crooked in their 
paths and iniquitous in their ways (so substantially Oort, RV.), 
or who make crooked their paths (Dyserinck, Kamphausen) and 
in their ways turn into bypaths (Kamp.), or whose paths are 
crooked and their ways iniquitous (so substantially most of the 
Ancient Vrss.) . Of these the last is simplest, requiring only the 
omission of one letter of the Heb. ; the meaning is the same in 
all. Two new adjs. are here introduced, synonymous with each 
other and with the iniquities of v. 14 ; they occur in OT. in the 
ethical sense only. Crooked (c?|2$?) is that which departs from 
the right way (allied to false) ; outside of Pr. the adj. occurs in 
Dt. 32 ^ i8 2G(27) (=28. 22 2r ) ioi 4 , the vb. in Mic. 3 Isa. 59* Job 
9 20 . Iniquitous also (n^D, found, outside of Pr., only in Isa. 3O 12 ) 
is that which turns aside into wrong ways, morally perverted, 
wrong, false. 

16-19. The second class of evil persons from whom Wisdom 
delivers men : licentious women. The prominence given in Pr., 
especially in chs. 1-9, to the vice of licentiousness shows that it 
was a notorious social evil at the time when the book was written. 
In the preexilian and exilian books comparatively little is said of 
it. That there were harlots and adulteresses in Israel from an 
early time is shown by such passages as Judg. n 1 (Jephthah s 
mother) i K. 3 1G (the two women who appeared before Solomon) 

* Cf. Strack, Stud. it. Krit., 1896, IV. 

I i. 14-16 45 

Hos. 3 1 ( Hosea s wife), by the prophetic denunciations of the 
crime (Hos. 4- Jer. f Mai. 3 ), by the laws against it (Ex. 20" 
])t. 22 Lev. 20 "), and by the employment of the terms harlotry 
and adultery (in Pent. Judg. Chr. Ps. Hos. Mic. Jer. E/..) as des 
ignations of religious unfaithfulness. Prostitution was a feature of 
the Canaanitish religious cults, and made its way into Israel. If 
we exclude the references to this last usage, the mention of the 
vice in question in the prophetical books is not frequent ; less 
stress is laid on it than on the oppression of the poor by the rich. 
In a polygamous society and in a country without great cities it 
was not likely to grow to great proportions. The case was differ 
ent when the Jews were dispersed through the world, and lived in 
cities like Jerusalem and Alexandria, centres of wealth and luxury, 
inhabited by mixed populations. This form of debauchery then 
became commoner and better organized. Hetairae flocked to 
the cities. Naukratis in the Egyptian Delta was famous under 
the Ptolemies for its brilliant venal women. The temptations of 
Alexandria are illustrated by the story told by Josephus (Ant. 12, 
4, 6) of Joseph the son of Tobias. The picture of society given 
in Ben-Sira (^ itf 2^- <] 25^ * 26 s - 1 - 42 1M4 ), based on life in 
Jerusalem and Alexandria in the third and second centuries i:.c., 
agrees in substance with the descriptions of the Book of Proverbs. 
The tone is modern. Instead of the old clan-life of Israel, with 
its definite family-ties and local bounds, we have the personal free 
dom of the Greek period in Syria and Egypt. This tone, most 
observable in chs. 1-9, is not wholly wanting in the rest of the 
book. The woman is represented as the temptress, the man as 
the silly victim. 

16. Synonymous, ternary. To save may be read (as in v. 1 -) 
she will sai e. The terms lewd woman and harlot are both lit. 
strange woman (or, stranger}. M itli her cajoling won/s, lit.: 
who makes smooth her words (RV. flatters, etc.). The reference 
is to dissolute women, but the precise sense in which the term 
strange is here used is differently understood. The Heb. has two 
synonyms, both of which occur in OT. in three significations : one 
who is outside the circle of one s family or one s clan ; an alien 
to one s nation, = " foreigner" ; one not one s self, = " another." 


For the first term (-IT) see i K. 3 " Dt. 25- Nu. i sl ; Ex. 30 Lev. 
22 12 ; Pr. 6 1 ii 15 i4 10 27- (this third sense is found only in Pr.). 
For the second term ( "5:) see Gen. 3i 15 Job 19" ^ 69 8(9) Eccl. 6 2 ; 
Dt. i5 :i i K. n 1 ; Pr. 2y 2 . Women of this class were doubtless 
often non-Israelites, and such might be the sense here (so Siegfr., 
Stade, and, so far as the second term is concerned, De.) ; but 
the general character of the descriptions here and in chs. 5, 7, 
9 13 " 18 , and the contrast expressed in 5 19 - 20 , make it almost certain 
that the writer has in mind dissolute women without regard to 
nationality, and that the strange woman is one who is not bound 
to the man by legal ties, who is outside the circle of his proper 
relations, that is, a harlot or an adulteress. Rashi : Epicureanism.* 
-The smooth, cajoling words are given in 7 13 - 20 ; f is identical 
with our verse, except in the first word the similarity between 
the themes of the two discourses makes the repetition natural. 
The Grk. connects v. 1G 17 not with v. 11 , but with v. 15 , taking them as 
the description of the influence of bad men, and following a Heb. 
text very different from ours : 16. To remove thee far from the right 
way and estrange thee from righteous opinion. My son, let not 
evil counsel take possession of thee, 17. which forsakes the teaching 
of youth ana 1 forgets the divine covenant. This is a bit of rabbin 
ical or Alexandrian allegorizing, while in f the Heb. is literally 
translated. 17. Synonymous, ternary. The strange woman s 
social and religious infidelity. The reference is to a married 
woman, and the friend of her youth is not God (to which sense 
the parallelism is supposed by some to point), but her husband. 
For the use of the term friend (^K) see i6 28 17 Mic. f Jer. 3 4 
"A55 13(14) ; the sense guide, instructor, is not found in OT. The 
expression of our verse is perhaps taken from Jer. 3", where the 
adulterous spouse Israel, charged with her infidelities by Yahweh, 
is exhorted to cry to him : my father, thon art the friend of my 
youth, that is, "the husband of my youth (cf. Hos. 2 7 - 15(<J - 17) Ez. 
i6 43 ) whom I have forsaken for others" ; but while the infidelity 

* Cf. Buxtorf, Le.r., s. v. >cnx, for the use of Aramaean woman as = foreign 
woman and harlot. On the OT. sense of strange woman sec Kuenen, Einl., iii. 
{ 97 ; Wildeboer, Lift, des A T., 23, Anm. 7 ; Bertholet, Die Stellung der hr. und 
Juden zu den Fremden, p. 195. Cf. the Maxims of the Egyptian Any, of the New 
Kingdom (Eng. transl. in art. Egypt. Literature in Library of the World s Best 

u. 16-19 47 

in Jer. is national and ritual, in Pr. it is individual and physical. 
At the same time, the marriage-obligation is here regarded as a 
divine law (Kx. 20"), and so as an agreement with God to obey 
him and thus obtain his blessing. The Heb. has of her God ; the 
more general form of God (as, apparently, in the (Irk.) is better. 
-The conception of the marriage-relation involved in the verse 
(and throughout the Book) is a high one. The old polygamy or 
bigamy (the rule up to the exile) is ignored ; monogamy is 
assumed as the established custom. The husband is the trusted 
friend ; the marriage-tie has a divine sanction (cf. Mai. 2 U ). The 
expression covenant of God may refer simply to the general idea 
of sacredness involved, or it may possibly allude to a religious 
marriage-ceremony. Of the Israelitish marriage-ceremonies of 
the pre-Christian time we know little. The old custom was that 
the woman was brought into the man s dwelling, by that act be 
coming his wife (Gen. 24" 29" i Sam. 2$ w Dt. 21 -), purchase- 
money (inohar) being paid the father (Gen. 34 - i Sam. 18- ); 
sometimes the man, in the presence of witnesses, affirmed his pur 
pose to take the woman as wife (Ru. 4 "~ I:1 ) ; a feast was some 
times held (Ju. i4 10 Tob. 8 ut ), and the bride was led to the hus 
band s home in procession (i// 45"- r < 1:j - 1(i > c f. Alt. 25 M ").* A trace 
of a religious ceremony appears in Tob. y 1 - , where Raguel 
takes his daughter by the hand and gives her to Tobias as wife, 
saying : according to the law of Moses take her to thy father (there 
was also a written contract, Tob. 7 U(lt;) ) ; it is not improbable that 
in this later time it was customary for the father or guardian of 
the bride to address a word of pious counsel to the newly married 
couple. No part in the ceremony appears to have been taken by 
priest or other official person. The modern Jewish marriage, 
though it differs considerably from the customs of Bible and Tal 
mud, is still essentially a family-ceremony. t 18. 19. Synony- 

* On the view that Canticles is a wedding-poem, consisting of the songs sung 
by bride, bridegroom, and companions in the marriage-festival, see \\Vtxstein, 
in De. s Comm y on Canticles; K. Budde, in the AVra \Vorld, March, 1894, and in 
his Comm y on Cant., in Marti s Hand-Commentar ; C. Siegfried, Holiesiicd, in 
Nowack s Handkomnictitar. 

t See the Talm. treatises, Kctiib. and Kiddush., J. F. Schroder, Satziingen 
Gebrauchc d. talm.-rab. Jiidcnthmns, and I, Abrahams, Jcii isk Life in the Middlt 
Ages, 1896. 


mous, ternary. The fate of those who yield to the seductions of 
the adulteress : physical death is their portion. The meaning is 
plain, but the exact rendering of v. 18a is doubtful. The Heb., as it 
stands, must be rendered she sinks down to death, her house ; but 
death, the house appointed for all living (Job 3O 23 ), would hardly 
be called the house of one person ; the rendering she . . . together 
with her house, that is, with her visitors (Bottch. De. Now.), is not 
permissible. The reading of the Grk. (whose text differed from 
our Heb.), she has set her house by death (adopted by Bickell), 
does not give a satisfactory thought her house, which is on the 
earth, is not naturally represented as being by Death, which is 
here the underground-world ; and the Heb. preposition, = unto, 
must also then be changed to one meaning near, by. The paral 
lelism suggests that house is the subject, and a change of the Heb. 
accents (not the consonants) gives the possible sense, bows down, 
or sinks down, leads down, for the verb. The picture pre 
sented is of a path which leads from upper earth to Sheol, like 
those by which Odysseus and Aeneas descend to Hades (less 
probably of a pit through which one sinks into Sheol) ; on this 
downward path she and her guests enter, and from the land of 
the dead they never return. A slight change in the Heb. gives a 
verb meaning goes down, leads down (i? 10 , used in Job 2i 13 
of descent to Sheol), a sense which is perhaps favored by the 
similar expression in 5 5 . House (if the text be correct) is the 
abode, the place from which goes the path to the Underworld, 
with connotation of "household," the woman and those who go 
to her house. Death = the realm of death, Sheol (cf. i// 9 13(14) Pr. 
5 5 7*}. It is not a place of punishment, but the abode of all the 
dead. The punishment referred to in the verse is premature and 
unhappy death, which is represented everywhere in OT. as a mis 
fortune, a visitation of God as retribution for wrongdoing (29* 
^9 17<18) ) ; long life is the reward of the good (3), but the days of 
the wicked shall be cut short (io w ). This is the old-Hebrew con 
ception, which limits moral-spiritual life to the present world. 
Here God, it was held, dispenses rewards and punishments ; when 
one has entered Sheol, God no longer takes account of him (only 
in Job i4 13 26 s - 6 is there a suggestion that the power of the God 
of heaven may extend to the Underworld). Death is the physical 

II. iS-iy 49 

event which transfers men from the sphere of activity to that of 
inactivity, where there is no relation between man and God (Isa. 
3S 18 - 19 ). This conception seems to be a survival of the early 
belief which assigned the Underworld to a separate deity (so in 
Babylonia), independent of the deity who ruled the world, and 
supreme in his own domain ; the subterranean deity vanished 
from the Israelitish system, but the gap between Sheol and the 
God of Israel remained. Proverbs retains the old view ; its idea 
of the future life is without ethical elements. The Shades (Re- 
phaim) are the dead, the inhabitants of Sheol.* Earthly condi 
tions, such as distinctions of rank, are represented sometimes as 
continuing in Sheol (Ez. 32"~ :! " Isa. i4 9 ), sometimes as not con 
tinuing (Job 3 1;J - 1!) \p 88 r>t(i) ). The rephaim are without mundane 
power or significance (Isa. I4 1 "), and the pious among them 
cannot praise God (Isa. 38 18 i// 8S 10(ll) ). Yet they were popularly 
thought of as being gods, or as possessing supernatural powers 
(r Sam. 28" Isa. S 19 , a survival of the primitive belief on this 
point). In Pr. the facts emphasized are that their existence is 
without happiness, and that they never return to live the life of 
this earth. f The paths of life = the ordinary earthly life, not 
moral-spiritual life or salvation. The statement that for the vic 
tims of the adulteress there is no return to this life is not meant 
to indicate that for others (the followers of Wisdom) there is 
return, but only to emphasize the fact that the fate of adulterers 
(premature death) is irreversible. Pr. has nothing elsewhere on 
the impossibility of return from Sheol, but it may be assumed that 
its authors shared the opinion expressed in the other Wisdom 
Books (Job I4 7 " 1 - Eccl. 9 Ben-Sira 17""). 

9. 11) 2 ->tr^ (I 3 s^r?) is rendered as noun (S in s/,jf. fons//: and so 
(!r.) by all Vrss. except pcrh. (!?, whose KaropOucreis may he noun 2 (so 
I, at;. Bailing.)* or vcr > = ^< 7 " s /" J / f cs/ii?>/is/i : the noun-form occurs elsewhere 
only once, \f/ 96- (Ileh. 97-), and then sing. = p:" ; between noun and verb 
it is hard to decide. The text of fl> presents a serious rhythmical difficulty 

* Whether the term has any etymological connection with the gentilic name 
Rephaim (Dt. 211 ,;/.) is uncertain. Cf. Schwallv, in /. / 7 .. iS<)S, j. pp. I.-P ft . 

f In the obscure passage Isa. 26 I; it is doubtful whether the reference i- 
national resuscitation (as in Kz. 37) or to some sort of appearance of the rephaim 
on the earth. 


(in I 3b , in which the same three nouns occur, the rhythm is good). The diffi 
culty may be removed by writing -IDSPP, from which D-C C might come without 
difficulty, especially if the scribe had i 3 in mind. Gr. B"n t3DS3. 10. $ "o; 
(@ (av yap = SN ^. $ p^; (@ B rrjv didvotav, (5 s A <rV Sidvoiav. $ a]?; 1 ; 
(5 Ka\7) e tvat S6^. The masc. vb. nyj 1 with fern. subj. njn is poetic license, 
as in 8 10 14 29 25 (where Bi., who here by a long insertion introduces a masc. 
subj., retains the masc. verb); i is construed with fem. predicates in Isa. 47 
i/ I39 6 Dan. I2 4 , that is, in OT. three times with masc. and three times with 
fem. predicates. In the former case it appears to be conceived of in a general 
way as a thing (perh. as the act of knowing) without regard to gender; see 
other cases of such freedom in E\v., 174^. 11. $? HOTS; <S (foil, by S) 
/3ou\7? KaXrj, to indicate that "o is here used in good sense. Similarly for 
$ nijan (S (and so ) has evvoia off la. On the suff. in ns-\sjn see Ew., 
250 a, Ols., 97 ; the n;_ is for ruj_, in which n is vowel-letter, and j the 
verb-ending (survival of the Energic form). 12. $? YvsnS; <5 IW piiff-rj-rat 
ye, apparently = $; S> xsanni, & n ", 1L / eruaris, perh. Impf. instead of 
? and Inf., perh. free rendering of $; Bi. writes -f^r on the ground that this 
paragraph is not a consequence but an explanation; on this point see notes 
on vA y-\ better taken as subst. defining TH; the Vrss. render it by adj. 
Gr. p-:? PiD2np; @BNACai. ^Siv viffTov (and so & 11 marg.) ; H-P 23 
(=Cod. Venet. San Marco, V) oiavrpawiva (and so S 11 ) =$. 13. 
begins the v. with u, apparently reading NH, a particle which does not occur 
elsewhere in Pr, and would not be appropriate here. On the vocalization of 
the art. (i) see Miklol, 53/>, and on the accentuation see Bar-Delitzsch, note 
on this verse. In 2 cl. instead of S and Inf. (PD^) S3TIL have i and vb. or 
partcp. and walk, free rendering which gives the sense of $ correctly, substi 
tution of the coordinate for the subordinate construction. Bi. here retains $. 
14. H-P 23, 68 al. prefix w. $ >"> nr;^; @ tiri KaKols. $ r^anr, 
written defect, in some MSS., taken as sing, in <5S St. The second y->, 
supported by all Vrss., is somewhat hard. Gr. regards it as dittogram, but the 
rhythm calls for a word here; Dys. emends to "^, but the iniquities of another 
is hardly possible. Failing a satisfactory emendation, $ may be retained. 
15. The text of $ may be rendered who are crooked as to their paths and per 
verse in their ways, or a 3 may be prefixed to crvnmx, or the i omitted (so 
Oort) before BnSjrs; but the order a^rpy is (or -1x2) is not quite satisfac 
tory (cf. io ig 1 28" 18 ); Dys. (followed by Kamp.) writes a^ pjrn (as in io 9 ), 
a phonetically easy emendation, the s being supposed to have fallen out 
through preceding :, but the order is slightly against this construction also. 
The simplest reading is that of the Vrss. (except A9), which apparently did 
not have 3 before ";s, whose paths are crooked and their ways iniquitous ; the 
order in that case hardly makes a difficulty. Field suggests that H et infantes 
gressus ear urn may have been influenced by A KCU 6pv\ov<ri.v, cf. Job if 
where <@ 6pv\^a (or fytfXXijjueO = !$ s - s by-word. 16. has a text wholly 
different from that of $ : roO paKpav ue Tron/crai a7r6 65oO evdeias xal aXX<5- 
rpiov T?)S SiK-aias yv<i>;j.i}S a consequence attached to v. 15 insteal of a new 

IT. 9-19 5! 

paragraph. This is nut a scribal heterogram of the particular words of It), 
but an independent allegorizing reading of the schools. The next section also 
is taken as a description of moral folly, and is introduced by the words vit fj.r) 
ere KaraXdpfl /ca/cr? /3ou\7? (of. BS 7 1 ). The connection favors the personal 
picture of fij; the reading of (5 illustrates the manner in which the expounders 
and scribes, in Jerusalem and Alexandria, sometimes dealt with such ethical 
texts as this. 5 writes Impf. at the beginning (and so Bi.), inserts x.-"rn as 
subj., omits m; (for the sake of brevity), and for It) np^nn has Nrrir. possi 
bly = n-j^nn (Baumg.), though this is generally rendered by <] S ~N (Pink. ). 
Bi. omits nnr.x on rhythmical grounds, but this seems hardly necessary. 
17. ft) IPX; (5 8i.affKa\iav (<& v /j.d&T]<riv), probably in accordance with iis 
allegorical conception of the passage (cf. Aram. J2 s ix), and so {T Sux- 1! ; 
J5 Nj ai:: rearer, educator, A T]ye/.LOi>a, Q ^yov/j.evov, TH dncein. Though no 
\"rs. renders by friend, this sense is assured in Ileb., and is the most appro 
priate here. The st. = come or bring together, whence Semitic thousand, Ileb. 
leader (head of clan or tribe), Ileb. Ar. friend, Arab, compose (a book), 
Aram, teach : the origin of the senses o.v (X. Sem.) and ship (Ass., Aram.) is 
not clear. ft) rrnSx m:; G 8ia6^K-qv Oeia.v = C n s N o (and so <T Bi), a 
better reading than that of ft). 18. ft) -nu : (mil el) ; 6 BaL tOero nrr; 
(@^ upia-ev; * she forgets (r;"j nnx 1 , repeated from preceding v.) the 
threshold!, (=-;r2-;) of her house and the ivay (=-m,N) of her paths : 2T, 
freely, u<hose house is in the depth of deatJi ; IL inclinata est . . . tfomits cins. 
It) nnr, fern., can hardly stand with masc. r"3 (if 2 were meant as collective, 
it would probably have a plur. verb); nn J 1 (st. third n), though it occurs in 
Oa! only once, and then not certainly (Isa. 5i- 3 ), may be taken as = inclines, 
sinks (Ibn Janah), or we may write nnr (cf. ^ icy" 11 ) ; perh., however, we 
should read rru. |t) 2^X3T \x; (5 /J-era rCiv yrftevuv (H-P 103 ^rjtvuv ) 
-> .~N; 7177. is rendering of ">, in 9 1? , elsewhere of 2~N (Jer. 32- ) or six ja 
(i// 49 2 3 )); in WS y 1 yrjyevovs TrpwToirXdffTov is Adam. C an yrjivui/ earthv 
be the true reading here and 9 18 ? cf. yrjivos, 2 fob 4 - = ia"2. (5 has the 
doublet irapa. T q.5rj = SiXU S X (cf. 9 18 ). The meaning of the stem in i is not 
certain, possibly = weak, powerless (cf. Isa. I4 1 1 ); but this can hardly be the 
signification of the gentilic "i. 19. On the ending in pavj" 1 see critical note on 
I- 8 . 1 or v. I;)a (5 has two readings: one, which appears to be the earlier (so 
Lag.) takes UJ 1 as pass., Ka.Ta.\ ^6.vovTai, and for rimx has virb fviavruv 
= rij" . or ni 11 (cf. I K. 8 5!l where ev. sv), scribal errors, the lattir. perh., 
from 3-; the other is identical with It) except that for C -n it puts evQdas (C? v 
dyadds), which maybe a moralizing interpretation after the manner of v. 1 1 . or 
perh. (Lag.) a marginal note, or (ISaumg.) a familiar term, which has ejected 
the original word. Xeither of these readings offers any advantages over that ol 
|t). For 1i) irs" 5 has ]^^r^, remember, wliicli in the connection yields 
no sensj, and is emended by Lag. to p;^i~: attain. (L omits sutf. in " - x^, 
and, by way of interpretation, adds zTa after ji3jr\ 


21,22. Conclusion, stating the consequences of good and bad 

21. For the upright shall dwell in the land, 
And the perfect shall remain therein ; 

22. But the wicked shall be cut off from the land, 
And the transgressors shall be rooted out of it. 

21. Synonymous, ternary. The reward of the good stated as 
motive for right conduct. On upright see note on v. 7 , on perfect, 
note on i 12 . The reward of good men is permanent abode in the 
land ; the remain = survive (or be left), implies that certain per 
sons are ejected or destroyed from the land (see next verse), in 
which in all catastrophes the righteous are maintained. The 
expression dwell in the land (not earth) refers to the land of 
Israel. The ancient Israelitish conception (found also in other 
peoples) was that gods and men were attached to the soil. The 
god protected his own land and no other, and the citizen as such 
enjoyed the benefits of this protection. To leave the land was to 
lose one s connection with its deity (i S. 26 19 2 K. 5 17 ) and to 
give up the rewards which his favor promised. Hence in part the 
anxiety of the Israelitish law to secure to each tribe family and 
individual man a possession in the land (Ju. 2 Ez. 47 13ff Nu. 36 
Ru. 4 and the genealogies in Chron. and Neh.), infringement on 
which was regarded as a great crime (Mic. 2 2 Dt. 19" 2y 17 Pr. 22 28 
23 10 ). Israel, and not any other nation, was Yahweh s own pos 
session and property (Ex. i 9 r> Dt. 14" 26 18 $ i35 4 > cf - Tit - 2 " 
i Pet. 2 9 ). Thus the expression dwell in the land (^ $f - 1 29 , cf. 
Mt. 5 5 ) came to be equivalent to enjoy the divine favor and all the 
blessings of life, and such is its sense here. Though in later times 
a large part of the Jews dwelt out of Palestine, the old expression 
held its own as the symbol of happiness, and with it the hope 
remained of living and dying in the land with which the divine 
promises were believed to be connected.* 22. Synonymous, ter 
nary. The contrasted fate of evildoers. Wicked is employed in 
Pr. as a general term (along with foolish) for those who discard 
and disobey the divine law of wisdom. The primitive sense is 

* Much of this feeling still remains in countries in which the Jews are excluded 
from the rights of citizenship; it has almost completely disappeared in countries in 
which they have full civil recognition. 


doubtful, but in OT. it commonly means morally bad. It is also 
a forensic- term (the opposite of /V/v/), signifying one tchosc case 
in IctK /.v bad, wrong, or aJjiiJ^cd to be had (cf. Kx. 2 ) ; the 
Causative of the verb = adjnJge one wrong or guilty in court ( i 7 " 
Kx. 22 1 l -" ) Isa. 50 - Job 15 ). In the prophetical and historical 
books the noun generally means those who violate the moral law ; 
in the Pss. it is often used, by a natural transition, as a name for 
the persecutors of Israel (^ if 58" l(1 " 75 H|!1 > ii 9 ;i /.). In Pr. 
there is no national limitation ; the wicked are they of all nations 
who disobey the law of right. The term transgressors or faithless 
is here employed as equivalent to wicked. The original sense of 
the word seems to involve the idea of underhand dealing, faith 
lessness to an agreement, treachery (Ju. 9 -" Jer. 3-"), but it is 
extended to include faithlessness to duty and right in general 
= transgressors. In the Pss. it sometimes means Jewish apos 
tates (i// 25 ). The verbs in the verse express violent extirpation 
by any means, by the hand of man or Cod. The first (rn~) is 
the term used in the legal books to express the execution of intol 
erable offenders ( that person shall be cut off from his people, 
Lev. 7" al.) ; the second (nc:) is once used (I)t. 28 m ) for the 
expulsion of the nation from its land. The writer of the verse 
probably has these half-technical uses in mind, but employs the 
terms in the broadest sense ; unrighteous persons, he says, shall 
have no place in the land of promise, no claim, that is, to happi 
ness in this life. Here, as elsewhere, the mode of execution of 
the punishment is not stated, but the divine judgment is to be 
understood as coming in the way of natural law (courts of law, 
failure of plans, sickness, natural death), or through special divine 
interposition (violent death). 

20. It) rrsvj -p-<; (5 rpifiovs ayaOdi, according to Lajj. false reading of 
the ahhrev. TJ. 21. The (Irk. MSS. exhibit two renderings, with a number 
of verbal variations. The one which appears to be nearer to li), writing 
Xpytrroi and S.KO.KOI, is found (as doublet) in ( ompl. Aid. and (with ubel.) 
5", in (5 A (?<*(* > ", II-I 23, 103, 109, 147, 248, 252, 253. 254. ,!/., a t, roup 
wliieli su^ests a combination of the recension of I.ucian and some other 
recension; the other, writing evdfts and oaioi, is the text of & \ and appears 
to show the hand of an Alexandrian revisor (see note on v. 19 ). 22. For 1) 
2 i^-i (p has odol aaepuv (<$ - v 6^01 Se do-.), as in ^ i l!:l (Ja.i;."). free or carch-ss 
transcription of a C.rk. scribe, peril, corruption of on (Held.).- -11) i--\ ,>al 


Impf., must be taken as indef., but the parallelism suggests a Fas<;. , as all 
Vrss. have it (though this may be free rendering) ; we may point as I Inf. (so 
Bi.), a form which, however, is not found elsewhere; Gr. irw, Ilof. of mj; 
Oort, Frank., Nif. of r.D:. Bi. omits V"^- (as perh. gloss to nj?;;), which in 
fact does not appear in the similar passages ^ 37 <J -S- 38 ; yet such determi 
nations of ma by nouns of place occur elsewhere (Jer. 35 19 Ex.. 25" Lev. I7 10 ), 
and both rhythm and syntax appear to demand a word here, njsc being 
otherwise left without antecedent. 

This chapter states the economical or prudential conception of 
the good life which is the prevailing view of the book of Proverbs 
(see note on r~) ; the motive urged for good living is the earthly 
well-being which attends it. This sort of eudaemonism, in which 
the individual actor alone is considered, and the reward of virtue 
is represented not as inward but as outward (long life, peace, 
honor, riches, see ch. 3), may seem to us ethically defective in 
several points. It does not present the good as an independent 
ideal, to be pursued solely for its own sake ; it does not hold up 
the highest well-being of the world as the goal and standard of 
moral conduct ; it says nothing of a sympathetic community and 
cooperation of men as the instrument for the development of the 
moral life ; it makes no direct mention of the function of con 
science as moral guide ; and it makes the unmodified declaration 
that virtue is always attended by outward prosperity. In this last 
point Pr. represents the old-Hebrew view, which *made no analysis 
of the inner life, conceived of goodness as obedience to outward 
law, held that the deity controlled every man s life by occasional 
and immediate intervention, and so necessarily regarded pros 
perity as the accompaniment of obedience to divine law. This 
view is combated in the book of Job ; but it appears that Job s 
argument made little impression (perhaps by reason of the absence 
of an ethical conception of the future life), and that many or 
most of the sages saw nothing more practically helpful than the 
old position. As soon as the idea of future compensation was 
established (\VS. 3), the doctrine of present reward was modified ; 
in Pr. this idea is not accepted. See the Introduction, 5, A, 
and 6, 4. The defects of ethical theory mentioned above are 
in part explained by the aim of the book. The sages no doubt 
recognized the function of conscience, and believed in the value 



of right in itself. But they probably held that \vliat men need is 
not ethical theory, but practical considerations which shall help 
them to live virtuously. In this they were right the mass of 
men are controlled by their relations to one another in society, 
and by the hope of reward and the fear of punishment. It is true 
also that men s experience has led them to believe that goodness 
is profitable for this life as well as for the life to come. Further, 
an ideal element is introduced by the identification of wisdom 
with the will of God, which is held to be the absolute right, and 
by the personification of wisdom (ch. 8) as God s first creation 
and intimate friend. The sages, it may be inferred, mean to say 
that he who connects his ethical law with God is provided with a 
restraining influence so far as he fears God, and with an elevating 
influence so far as he loves him. In certain passages (as. for 
example, 2 ) they appear to reach the ultimate moral conception, 
namely, the ethical union of man with God conceived of as the 
moral ideal. These considerations must modify our judgment of 
what seems to be a baldly prudential scheme of ethical life. 

III. Three independent discourses or paragraphs, introduced 
each by the address < my son, all more or less fragmentary. 
The first (v. M ") consists of exhortations to follow the teacher s 
instruction (v. 1 -) and observe kindness and truth (v. : 4 ). to trust 
in Yahweh and fear him (v. vs ), and to honor him with one s 
wealth (v. - - 1 "). The second (v. 11 --") sets forth the value of divine 
chastening (v. 11 - 1 -), the preciousness of Wisdom (v. 13 18 ), and her 
function in creation (v. 111 -"). The third (v. 21 - 35 ) describes the 
safety which comes from discretion (v.- 1 - ) and from the protec 
tion of Yahweh (v .- " - "), enjoins neighborly kindness (v.- : " ;l ). and 
sets forth the retribution of the upright and the wicked (v. - " ). 
The third approaches, in parts (v.- 7 ~ ;r ), the form of discourse of 
chs. 25-27. The poetical structure of the chapter is distichal, with 
four-line strophes, though in some places the form is obscure. 

V. i-io. 

But keep niv commandments in mind; 


3. Let not kindness and faithfulness leave thee 
Hind them on thy neck [] * 

4. So wilt thou find favor and good < repute > 
With God and man. 

5. Trust to Yahweh with all thy heart, 

And lean not on thine own understanding; 

6. In all thy ways acknowledge him, 
And he will smooth thy paths. 

7. Be not wise in thine own eyes 

Fear Yahweh, and turn away from sin 

8. Then will there be health to thy < body > 
And refreshment to thy bones. 

9. Honor Yahweh with thy wealth, 
With the best of all thy revenue 

10. Then will thy barns be filled with < corn 
And thy vats will overflow with must. 

The teacher exhorts the pupil to remember his instruction, 
urging the advantage it will bring him. 1. Synonymous, ternary. 
Exhortation. Lit.: let thy heart (mind) keep (guard, pre 
serve) my commandments. Son = " pupil," as in i 8 . The con 
tent of the instruction (law, tora} is to be inferred from the 
precepts of the Book of Pr. ; it is almost exclusively moral and 
religious, never national, but always individual, very rarely cere 
monial, never dogmatic. It thus stands in contrast with the tora 
of the prophet, which is national-religious (sole worship of Yahweh 
and obedience to his will), and with that of the priest (Penta 
teuch), which is ritual. The sage presents himself as authority 
and source of moral wisdom ; priest and prophet speak only in 
the name of Yahweh, declaring his word. The prophet, it is said, 
who shall speak a word not given him by God shall die (Dt. iS 20 ), 
even though he has been deceived by Yahweh (Ez. 14) ; the sage 
finds his word in his own mind in the prophet this is a crime 
(Ez. is 23 ). This diversity is the result of the difference of the 
points of view of different periods of Israelitish history. The 
sages represent a period of reflection, in which human life is 
studied for its own sake, and its natural laws investigated. 

* The Received Text adds : Write them on the tablet of thy mind (lit. heart). 

in- i-3 57 

2. Single sentence, which may be taken as binary, or as quaternary- 
ternary. The reward. Pong life is considered in () ! . to be one 
of the chief blessings of man s lot (Kx. 20 -), including, as it does, 
the idea of happiness (so that the first line might be rendered : a 
Ion* and happy lift }. Sheol offered nothing the longer one 
lived on earth the greater one s opportunities for work and enjoy 
ment (Isa. 3S U 65-").* Peace is originally wholeness, completeness 
of condition. It is used of bodily health (Gen. 29 ), of political 
concord (Jiul. 4 17 ), of friendly relation between men (i// 41 ""), 
of national tranquillity and safety (Jer. 6" 33 ), and, as here, of a 
general condition of freedom from danger and disturbance.! The 
reference is primarily to outward quiet, though inward serenity is 
of course involved. This delightful ideal, a long and peaceful life, 
is the favorite one in Proverbs. It is represented both as the nat 
ural product of devotion to wisdom (intelligent uprightness of life), 
and as the gift of God two ideas easily harmonized by the con 
ception of wisdom as having its root in reverence for God. - 
Bestow on tlice, lit. add to tJice. 

3, 4. An injunction parallel to that of v. 1 2 , and apparently 
intended as explanation or definition of it. 3. Synonymous, ter 
nary (or, ternary-binary). The verse is perhaps epexegetical of 
v. 1 , a description of the law of wisdom as the maintenance of kind 
ness and faithfulness. This combination of qualities (or its equiv 
alent) occurs often in OT. (Gen. 24 - Kx. 34" Dt. 7 iff 25" Sj 1 " 1 
Pr. 14- i6 (1 20 JS a!.} as the expression of perfectly good relations 
between man and man, or between man and God. Kim/ness 
is friendly good feeling and the conduct appropriate thereto (see 
note on 2 s ), love of man for man (Ksth. 2 17 ) or of man for God 
(Hos. 6 r ). It is not properly mercy, compassion, clemency, for 
giveness (for which ideas Heb. has other expressions, Dt. 13 
Kx. 34" Dan. f/ 1 * )- Vahweh is good and kind to Israel because 
he loves the nation that is the normal condition of thing:, ; and 

* Cf. Cic. De Sfiit-ctiife. 

fl lic OT. shclcm (RV. /V^v-^v-/;/; ) is an offering which completes 
duty to God or makes one whole with him by the fu .tilment of a vow or by ;Ur. 
gift of gratitude for favors received. Arabic hlaiu ("submission, resignation") 
the putting one s self in a position of soundness with God by faith, obe< 


even when his kindness is brought into connection with the re 
moval of transgression, as in ^ 103, it still remains simple kindness. 
Faithfulness (firmness} is steadfastness, fidelity to one s word 
and to the obligations which spring from one s relations with 
men. It is thus sometimes equivalent to truthfulness (i/> \^ 2 } or 
io truth (i K. io fi Dt. I3 14 1 " ), but has usually, as here, a wider 
signification. The two qualities together, complementing each 
other (love being thus saved from feebleness, and fidelity from 
harshness), may be said to form a perfect moral character. They 
are to be attached to the neck not as an amulet to ward off evil 
(though such ornaments may originally have been amulets),* but, 
as the general connection indicates, as a necklace (i 9 ) or a seal- 
chain (Gen. 38 18 , possibly as bearing a seal-ring), that one may 
carry them with him always, and have them in remembrance. 
The Heb. adds the parallel line : write them on the tablet of thy 
mind, a form of expression which occurs only here and in 7 3 Jer. 
I7 1 , but the same idea is found in Dt. 30" Jer. 3I 33 . The allusion 
is to the tablets of the decalogue, and to the command (Dt. 6 s - <J ) 
to write the divine precepts on hands and forehead, doorposts 
and gates (the later phylacteries, etc.)f ; cf. the Arab, expression 
to write a thing with a needle on the inner corner of the eye. The 
moral law is not only to be accepted as an external code, but also 
to be received into the mind and form part of the man s nature 
(cf. Jer. 3I 33 ). This third clause is lacking in some Gk. Mss., 
and is probably not original the verse is complete without it, 
and it mars the symmetrical distichal form of the paragraph ; it 
may have been inserted by a Heb. scribe from f, where it is in 
place. The general idea of kindness tended to pass into that of 
pity for the poor and almsgiving; so the Lat. Vulg. here has mise- 
ricordia, and the Grk. a word (eAe^ocrwai) which was later em 
ployed for alms (BS. 3" Mt. 6 2 Lu. n 41 Diog. Laert. 5, 17), and 
has given us our word eleemosynary, though here it seems to mean 
pity, mercy. 4. Single sentence, ternary. The recompense. 

* The preexilian Israelites wore amulets called saharon (Isa. 3 18 , cf. Jud. 8 21 2G ) 
and lahash (Isa. 3 2() ) ; apparently also earrings served as amulets (Gen. 35 4 , cf. 
Hos. a 13 * 1 " )). How long this practice continued is uncertain. The thummim 
(tummim, sometimes improperly identified with Arab, tamimd) was not an amulet. 

f Such legends also appear to have been originally of the nature of amulets. 

I"- 3-5 59 

The Heb. reads: And thou wilt find [lit. and find } favor and 
good understanding in the sight of Cod and man, in which the 
term understanding is unsatisfactory, since ,^W understanding (or, 
intelligence} is not of the nature of recompense, parallel to favor, 
but is rather the cause of the latter (so \-~" good understanding gives 
favor}. Most of the Vrss. have found difficulty with the expres 
sion. The Grk. attaches the first part (through the word favor) 
to v. 3 , and then renders : and devise excellent things in the sight of 
the Lord and of men (so quoted freely in Rom. i2 17 2 Cor. 8" ) ; 
but this does not agree with the connection, from which we expect 
the statement of the result of acting as v. ;! enjoins. The Peshitta 
Syriac has . . . favor and good and understanding, and the Tar- 
gum . . . favor and understanding and good. A slight change in 
the Heb. gives name instead of understanding; the expression 
favor and good name (cf. 22 ) expresses the recompense required 
by the connection. On favor see note on r . \\tfindfavor is 
to be acceptable, approved, well thought of (den. 6" Ru. 2 ") ; a 
kind and faithful character, says the sage, will be acceptable both 
to God and to men (so Lu. 2 : -) ; in the sight of "on the part 
of," "with"; the same isolation of moral qualities as the condi 
tion of the divine favor is found in Isa. i l> 66- ^ 24 a/., but is 
more complete and persistent in Pr. than in any other Biblical 
book. The good reward of right doing (if we accept this reading) 
is this favor and the benefits (friendship, protection, aid) which 
naturally flow from it. 

5-10. The blessing attendant on trusting and honoring God. 
Exhortation to trust (\v ), acknowledge (v. ; ), and fear him (v. 7 ), 
the result of which will be health (v. s ). Exhortation to honor 
him in the use of wealth (v. ;i ), the result of which will be 
abundance of wealth (v. 1 "). The preceding paragraph (v. M ) 
deals with the ethical side of life, this with the religious side. 

5-8. Benefit of dependence on God. 5. Synonymous, ternary, 
or ternary-binary. The Grk. has God instead of Yahweli ; the in 
terchange of divine names seems not to be significant in Proverbs, 
but the Grk. preference for God may indicate the later Jewish 
feeling. To trust to God is, from the connection, to regard him 
as the source of wisdom and power, the guide in the moral life 


and in all other things, to obey his law, and have confidence in 
him ; see note on i 7 . We may render trust in, understanding this 
expression in the sense indicated. With all the heart with the 
whole conviction and force of the mind, absolutely. Opposed to 
this posture of mind is the leaning on one s own understanding 
(insight, wisdom) as on a prop or staff (2 S. i u Mic. 3 11 Job 24^). 
The assumption is that man s intellect, apart from God, will not 
guide him aright. This assumption is founded not on any theory 
of man s native depravity (such a theory does not exist in OT.), 
but on observation of life. Man is often blinded by passion and 
at the mercy of temptation (i 10 14 ), but he may avoid sin by his 
own will (i 10 ) if he will give heed to God s law, which is a fixed 
rule of conduct unaffected by the mutations and perversions of 
human passion. Man, further, is fallible, and does not always 
know what is best to do he must have confidence in a higher 
wisdom if he wishes to feel secure and be free from anxiety. This 
sense of security and peace is involved in the term trust (cf. 
Ju. 8"). The sage probably does not mean to exclude human 
thought and effort. In times of great national distress prophets 
and psalmists sometimes represent the military strength of nations 
as nothing when compared with the absolute power of the God of 
Israel (Hos. i 7 Isa. 2 17 10. 31 \\i 2O 7(8) n8 s ) ; but here, as gener 
ally in OT., the idea seems to be that human wisdom and strength 
must be guided and sustained by God. 6. Single sentence, ter 
nary. Repetition of the injunction, with statement of the result 
of obedience. Acknowledge know, hare intimate acquaintance 
with, that is, know and obey the divine law, recognize its suprem 
acy and take it as guide. To smooth is to make level ; the meta 
phor is derived from the preparation of a highway, as in Isa. 40^. 
The usual way of human life, the sage intimates, is full of inequali 
ties and difficulties, but he who has in mind the law of God will 
find these hindrances removed and his path made easy. The 
reference is not to nice moral problems which shall be solved by 
the divine law, but, as the context indicates, to external difficulties 
and dangers, such as poverty, sickness, enmities, evil allurements. 
The paths are all a man s ways, social, commercial, political, 
religious ; he has only to do right and trust in God, and affairs 
will be made easy for him he will enjoy prosperity in the sense; 

111. 5-8 6 1 

of v. 1 " 1G " 4 " ; it is the old doctrine of the prosperity of the right- 
eons. At the end of the verse some (irk. MSS. add and thy foot 
shall not stumble, a scribal insertion from v. 2 . 7. Synonymous, 
ternary, or, ternary-quaternary. Repetition of the warning against 
self-confidence. Progressive parallelism. The holding one s self 
wise is represented as the contrast to or negation of fearing Clod, 
an antithesis similar to that of v/ it is assumed that to trust to 
one s own wisdom is to follow another law than that of Clod, 
ordinary human standards of judgment being different from the 
divine standard ; a somewhat different view of conceit of wisdom 
is given in Keel. 7" . The fear of Yahwch, which is assumed to 
be the true wisdom (as in i 7 ), is defined as turning away from 
sin (lit. evil). The evil in this case cannot = misfortune, escape 
from which would then be the result of fearing Ck)d (as in v . " ), 
for the verb means a voluntary avoidance, and expresses moral 
character (as in Job i 1 Pr. 16"). The fear of Vahweh, it is 
implied, gives the proper ethical norm of life, and wisdom, as 
generally in chs. 1-9, is understood to involve a religious element. 
Clem, of Alex. (Strom., 155) has fear God who alone is mighty, a 
free expansion, perhaps suggested by Mt. icr s (Lag.). 8. Synony 
mous, ternary-binary. The reward. The first line may be read : 
it (the fearing Yahweh and departing from sin) will be, etc., but it 
is better to take health as subject of the verb ; and then may be 
inserted (after the (Irk.) as giving a better syntactical connection 
with the preceding verses. Instead of body the Heb. has navel, an 
improbable reading, since elsewhere (Kx. i6 4 , and a similar term 
Cant. 7 - ) the term is not used for the whole body and being. A 
slight change in the Heb. gives the word for bod\ (so the (Irk. 
reads) or the word for flesh. The latter term occurs in i i l7 for 
the whole man; the combination body and bone ( flesh and 
bone) is found, in this sense, in den. 29" 2 Sam. 5 Job 2 :> (and cf. 
Job 2 1- 4 30""). Each of these terms is used as = self (designation 
of the spiritual from the physical), as in Xeh. 9 :;r ^ i6 ;i 35 " 63 - , 
and we may here render : thou wilt have health and ref 
Of these two words the first is properly an abstract noun of action, 
healing (deliverance from disease), and the second, ref res 
that which refreshes (lit. drink, as in Hos. 2 7 ^ 102 "). The sense 
of the verse is that obedience to the law of God secures for a man 


a thoroughly healthy and happy condition of being. The happi 
ness is primarily freedom from bodily and other outward ills, but 
necessarily involves inward peace. 

9, 10. Religious use of wealth. 9. Synonymous, ternary- 
binary (or, ternary). The word here rendered revenue (RV. 
increase} commonly refers to agricultural produce, and this sense 
is indicated by v. 10 ; elsewhere in Pr. (as, for example, in i6 8 ) the 
word appears to have a wider meaning. The reference in the 
injunction seems to be rather to a general righteous employment 
of riches than to the payment of the legal tithes. There is else 
where in this part of the book (chs. 1-9) no reference to the 
ceremonial law as obligatory (in y 14 sacrifice is mentioned as a 
popular observance), and the immediate context favors the more 
general interpretation. The term here rendered the best (rrc K-i) 
is so used in Am. 6 1 i// yS 51 105 (of persons) i Sam. 2 20 Am. 6 6 (of 
things). See the injunction to give freely in v. 27 , and compare the 
similar injunction in Ben-Sira 2y> n . God would thus be honored 
by obedience to the commands respecting the care of the poor 
and other general moral precepts. The sense will, however, be 
substantially the same if we translate -with (or, out of} the first- 
fruits of all thy revenue, the reference then being to the triennial 
tithe for the poor (Dt. i4 28 - 20 ) and the annual tithe for the temple- 
ministers (Dt. i8 -- 13 Nu. iS 1 -- 13 ). These were doubtless regarded 
as obligatory by all pious Israelites, though in Prov. they are else 
where silently passed over as part of the acknowledged routine of 
religious life, observance of which did not necessarily argue a gen 
uine spirit of obedience to the moral law. With is lit. out of, a 
form of expression which is meant to indicate that it is a portion of 
one s wealth that is to be thus used. The verse reads in the Grk. : 
Honor the Lord out of thy righteous labors, and give him the first 
f thy fruits of righteousness, which appears to be a scholastic para 
phrase or interpretation of the Hebrew. 10. Synonymous-ter 
nary. Statement of the reward of such use of wealth. Our Heb. 
text reads : thy barns will be filled with plenty ; but this last term 
is elsewhere always adverbial (Gen. 41-- Eccl. 5 12<11) ), and never a 
thing with which something may be filled ; an easy emendation 
(suggested by the Grk.) gives corn, parallel to must. Corn is 

III. S-IO ,-, 

a general term for cereals. Must (irrr, which the Yrss. here all 
render by wine) is the wine-crop, the grape-juice expressed and 
gathered into vats; it is frequently mentioned, along with corn 
and oil, as one of the main crops of the land of C anaan (I)t. - 1; 
Neh. 5 11 ). Apparently it was not commonly drunk till it was fer 
mented ; it is spoken of as exhilarating (Ju. 9 - ) and intoxicat 
ing (Hos. 4 11 ). The reward of honoring Vahweh is here physical, 
in keeping with the old-Hebrew idea. The agricultural life con 
templated suits the Palestinian Jews throughout the whole of the 
OT. period ; abundance of the standard crops, corn and wine, 
was a synonym of prosperity down to the final dispersion of the 
people (A.C. 70). So wealth, in v.", = " agricultural revenue." 

III. 1. 6 vov.ip.uv (\\-\\ 68 al. vofjiuv ) takes m- as plu., possibly (Heid.) 
a Pharisaic reading to include the oral tradition, more probably induced by 
the plu. in > ; Cl. Alex. Oea/j.ui , peril, from memory (so the Draconian laws 
were called). (5 prifj-ard for |i) ris- is rhetorical, untechnical rendering, not 
reference to the decalogue. -^: is properly, keep safe (and so sub 
stantially = remember}, though " keeping in mind " may be practically equiva 
lent to "observing, obeying (^ 25 - 78 ). 3. Jager gets rid of the triplet 
form by attaching a to v.- (changing ^x to x^), but this clause belongs by its 
content to v. : >. It is better to omit , which is lacking in ($ I! (found in 
<5 A <" ^ Compl., Aid., Cl. Al., Proc., S" sub ast. 1LS3T) ; see note <,n f- The 
different positions given the clause in C.rk. MSS. suggest that it is a gloss 
(Lag.). (5 e\er],uoffvi>a.i (for -<Dn) here = kindness, merev, as in Hen. 47- - , 
not alms. 4. For 11) Impv. xi": ]]i. writes xi":.-, which, however, is unneces 
sary, the Impv. being not uncommon in prot. and apod, of a conditional 
sentence (6 ; 8 :i3 9 1 /.)._$] s,-j. j s takcn ))y ^ as i nl])V t ^o^p, against the 
connection; 1L disciplinam, a meaning which the word will hardly bear; as 
L r- 1 (perhaps occasioned by I3 15 \f in 1 ) here affords no satisfactory sense. 
we may emend to :;r, which suits the connection, though it is without support 
from MSS. or Yrss. take avj as subst, inserting i before it. following 
the order of It], 5 transposing .r and _\ This latter fact may seem (llaumg.) 
to indicate that S here follows (T, only introducing an error; but elsewhere <T 
seems to be dependent on , though it sometimes shows a correction after 11). 

5. It) S N (twice); read ^ (so (5 in second occurrence); throughout ( >T. 
we should probably emend "-x after ro; to s ". 11) ni.T; 6 (hu. 6. 11) IT." ; 
<5 avrriv, scil. a-o<f>iav, against the connection; (P takes as telic. 7. %] ~ni 
rbv 6tbv. 8. In -nr .-IND-I it is doubtful wl-etlier the subject of -i.- is -i or 
the statement in v. 7l> ; in the latter case we slit uld expert xv. after -\ in the 
former case a connecting particle, as in fact (? introduces the verse witli rare, 
and Jc with telic >; a connective seems preferable: fi> :>/// tie re l<e or that 
there may be. rixin is an Aramaic form. 11) ir narel : (? cr^uarl, and so 


S"; Si ^D3; It = $; -V^JID (Lag.) or -c-jis (Buxt.) = $ (the word, in 
Syr. nsrj-13 or nrjir, seems to be a compel, of ir, but the force of the first 
element is doubtful). Read "C 3, with (S, Cler., Bi. ; or, with Vog., Schl., Ew., 
Hi., Oort, Kamp., TNT. On <5 eTri/ue Xeta as rendering of MpS see Schleusner s 
note; Procop. iiri^veia stability ; A Tremors, of which Deissmann (Bibel- 
studien, p. 152) finds an example as early as B.C. 240. 9. <@ renders |Vi by 
dtKaiuv irbvuv, a homiletical expression intended to warn against the unjust 
acquisition of wealth; for a similar use of IT. see BS. I4 15 28 15 , and for the 
idea Pr. io 1; ; labor = wealth Eccl. a 22 al. similarly defines rsian by 
diKawavvys, and further omits *?;, which term, here unnecessary though not 
out of place, may have been lacking in the Heb. MS. of <. 10. |J >3U ; 
< ir\i<i<rtJ:OVT)s a-irov (so rightly Procop.; the text has o^ry by scribal error, or, 
if ?rX. did not originally stand in the Grk. the Dat. fflrtp might have been used 
after the vb. ir/jUTrXTjrat) ; but a marg. note in J5 n (which = |Q) states that 
the <7. is found neither in the Heb. nor in the Grk., from which it may be 
inferred that the Grk. MSS. here varied. The text of 4 presents a conflation 
of two readings, TrX. = j?3ir and &. = -or, of which the latter is more likely to 
be original, and the former a correction after Heb. The reading 13. suits 
the context and is adopted by Oort, and regarded as original by Frankenberg; 
it is perh. against it that in the combination corn and -wine in OT. it is always 
jn and never 13> that is used, though this is not decisive, and 13U seems to 
be required by the parallelism; for its use see Gen. 42 1 " - Am. 8 5 Neh. io 32 . 

11, 12. A separate paragraph (a quatrain) on the benefit of 
divine chastening, possibly here placed as a modification of the 
preceding paragraph, to explain cases in which worldly prosperity 
does not follow rectitude. It would then be of the nature of an 
editorial insertion. 

11. Reject not, my son, the instruction of Yahweh, 
And spurn not his reproof, 

12. For whom <he loves he reproves, 

And he afflicts < him > in whom he delights. 

11. Synonymous, ternary- (or, quaternary-) binary. Instead of 
reject we may render despise (the general sense is the same in the 
two renderings), and instead of spurn (lit. loathe} the nearly 
equivalent be wearied out with, weary of (so RV.), as in Gen. 27 46 ; 
The Grk. has/a//// not (so quoted in Heb. 12 " ), = " give not up thy 
self-command and endurance," which may be an interpretation of 
our text, or may represent another Heb. term. 12. Synonymous, 
ternary (in the emended text). In the first line the Heb. has 
Yahweh (Yakwe/i loves instead of he loves ), which is a scribal 

III. 11-12 63 

insertion (explicitum} for clearness. -The second line reads, 
according to the Alasoretic pointing, and [= \ea, reproves him] 
ax a father \_reproves~\ tJic son in whom lie delights, or delights in 
him as a father in his son. These renderings, though possible, 
arc hard, and the suggested representation of God as father would 
perhaps make a difficulty, since it would be unique in Proverbs. 
The translation afflicts given above (which the Heb. consonants 
permit) is supported by the parallelism, by the (Irk., and by 
Job 5 IS . The parallelism naturally suggests (though it does not 
absolutely require) an explicit reference to disciplinary suffering. 
The Grk. has for whom tJie Lord lores lie reproves, and scourges 
every son whom he receives (so quoted in Heb. 12"), in which 
scourges afflicts. Job 5 !7 - 1S reads : 

Happy is the man whom Cod reproves, 

Therefore despise [or, reject] not the instruction of Shaddai, 

For he wounds and binds up, 

lie smites and his hand heals. 

The similarity between the passages in Job and Prov. makes it 
probable that one is an imitation of the other, or that the expres 
sions used were current in the schools.* The word son in second 
line should be changed to //////, so as to secure a better parallelism. 
- \Yhichever translation be adopted, the sense is the same : the 
suffering of a good man is to be regarded as a divine chastening 
dictated by love. The thought is found in Job 4. 5 (Kliphax) and 
33 (Klihu), but only here in Proverbs. The sages of Prov. else 
where adopt the old view (defended by the three friends in Job) 
that suffering is always the punishment of sin ; the author of our 
passage (following the school of Kliphaz and Klihu) considers the 
exception to the rule, and finds the explanation of the suffering of 
the righteous in the disciplinary love of God, which is also the 
NT. view (it is suggested in OT. in such passages as Am. 4* M1 ). 
Though hinted by the earliest of the Tsraclitish ethical writers 
(Amos), it appears to have made no lasting impression till after 

* Recent writers are divided in opinion on the question of priority between Job 5 
and Pr. 1-9. As Pr. agrees, in the point of view under discussion, with 1 rn-Sira, it 
should probably be regarded as the later, unless Job be put very late (in the second 
or first century B.C.). In both Pr. and Job it is individual rather than national 
suffering that is contemplated, 


the acceptance (in the second or first century B.C.) of the doctrine 
of ethical immortality.* 

11. For various unimportant var. lect. of <5 in v." 12 see II-P. fi) ^3 
should probably be omitted as (early) scribal insertion. 12. JIN without 
Makkef, as in \J/ 47 6o 2 , probably a scribal accident, nw in v. ia is sus 
tained by all Mss. and Vrss., but may be omitted (as explicitum) with advan 
tage to the rhythm. For |t] axpi read Hif. 3N:r, after ( /J.a<TTiyoi, and as in 
Job 5 18 ; Pi. 2ND (Dys., cf. Cappell.) is possible, but does not occur in OT. 
|!j p nx; (5 (exc. H-P 106) iravra. vlbv, adopted by Bi.; the ir. is natural, 
and may be rhetorical explanation; the universality indicated by Jty in a is 
involved in the Heb. of b . The p, found in all texts, probably suggested the 
pointing 3N?, and must be early; yet it is not appropriate here (it probably 
has no connection with the common address <ja of v. 11 ) ; we expect T.TN or 
li N Ss, and this reading may be adopted as the most probable. 1 nsv; 
(5 irapadexfTat, free rendering of "$%, as in Mai. I 13 ; S2T "H seems to be repe 
tition from preceding cl., or, instead of nsi 1 they perh. read PST or .TTV. 

13-20. Excellence of wisdom. A group of 8 couplets, v. 19 - 20 
forming a separate sub-paragraph. 

13. Happy the man who finds wisdom, 
And the man who gains understanding; 

14. For the profit she brings is better than [] silver, f 
And the revenue she bestows than gold. 

15. She is more precious than corals 

No treasures [] J can compare with her. 

1 6. Long life is in her right hand, 

In her left hand riches and honor. 

17. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, 
And all her paths are peace; 

1 8. She is a tree of life to those who grasp her 
Happy are they who hold her fast. 

19. Vahweh by wisdom founded the earth, 

By understanding established the heavens. 

20. By his knowledge the waters well forth, 
And the clouds drop down dew. 

13. Synonymous, ternary, or, quaternary-ternary. The Grk. 
and Syr. Vrss. have two terms for man (tinman being . . . mortal). 

* On the doctrine of the Talmud, see Weber, T/ieol. 69. 
t Heb. : better than the profit of silver. 
J Heb. : no treasures of thine. 

and it is not improbable that the Heb. originally had such a vari 
ation, perhaps = homo . . . vir, or two equivalent words = homo. 
Whether wisdom is acquired by one s own effort or received as a 
giit from Clod, is not said ; the two points of view were probably 
not distinguished by the writer. The beatitudes of Prov. all (with 
the exception of i6 ai ; relate to the individual moral life, standing 
thus in contrast with those of the legal and historical books (and 
<A 32 - i 4 6 : Eccl. io 17 ) which refer to national life, and to those of 
the Psalter, which, with a few exceptions, have a personal- religious 
tone.* --14. Synonymous, ternary-binary (in the emended text). 
Literally : for her acquisition is better than the acquisition of silver, 
and her revenue than gold. The expression rendered her acquisi 
tion may mean the acquiring lie r, or what she acquires (tier gain, 
profit), or what she produces ( = the gain that one gets from 
her}, or her trade, or trading in her (= RY. the merchandise of it, 
the word merchandise being used in the now obsolete sense of 
commerce) . The meaning seems to be fixed by the second clause, 
in which her revenue must signify either what comes to her (her 
income), or what she yields to her possessor (the income from 
he)} ; the second of these senses is supported by the connec 
tion, in which the topic is the advantage that man derives from 
wisdom, and by the similar passage 8 1 " my fruit is better than 
gold and my revenue than silver, that is, as v. 17 suggests, what she 
has to offer to her followers. From the parallelism we may con 
clude that her acquisition or gain signifies the profit she brings. 
The translation /;/- to acquire her is better than to acquire silver 
and to gain her (is better) than gold, though intelligible and not 
out of keeping with the context, is hardly allowed by the Hebrew. 
Grk. : for it is better to traffic for her than for treasures of go/,/ 
and silver; cf. Mt. i3 4 *- ". Latin Vulgate : for the acquisition, of 
her is better than traffic in silver and her fruit is of best and 
purest gold. Peshitta Syriac and Targum : for traffic in her is 
better than traffic in silver and her fruit than pure gold. These 
various translations give the same general idea. The parallelism 
here and <S UI suggests the omission of the second/;? /// (or acquisi- 

* The Psalmist, however, often speaks as a member of the nation ; his individual 
experience is the common one. 


tion) in first line. In if/ i9 10(11) similar praise is given to the 
Tora ; the points of view of the sage and the psalmist are different. 
15. Synonymous, ternary. The Heb. has all thy treasures can 
not (= none of thy treasures can} compare with her ; the Possess. 
Pron., which is inappropriate, is better omitted with all the ancient 
Versions. The meaning of the Heb. noun in first cl. (DTJB) is 
uncertain. It was unknown to the ancient Vrss. : Grk., Syr., 
Targ., here have precious stones, Lat. Vulg. has all wealth; else 
where Lat. has a number of other renderings ; in Job 28 18 Targ. 
has pearls. The rendering corals is based on Lam. 4", where the 
word is used to indicate ruddiness of complexion. There and 
here RV. has rubies in the text, and corals in the margin (see 
Job 28 18 ) ; the ruby would be appropriate in Lam. 4 7 by its color, 
but the word here employed never occurs in lists of gems (such 
as Ex. 28 17 "- 39 10 " 13 Ez. 28 13 ), but only in poetical books (Lam., 
Job, Prov.). The coral was highly valued by the ancients (Plin., 
H.N., 32, u), and, as it was found on the coast of India and in 
the Red Sea, might well have been known to the Jews. The ren 
dering pearls (Bochart, Ewald, Reuss, Noyes, Strack, al.} would 
suit if the complexion in Lam. 4 7 could be understood as pearly ; 
corals is favored by Gesen., Fleischer, De., Kamphausen, and 
others. Treasures is lit. what is desired, desirable, precious. 
Wisdom is a source of gain (v. 14 ) and is thus precious. Between 
the clauses of the Heb. text the Grk. inserts nothing evil shall 
resist her, she is well known to (or easily recognizable by} all who 
approach her; the first of these added clauses may be a corrupt 
form of the Heb. second cl. (perhaps for nothing desirable can be 
set over against her}, and the second may come in like manner 
from Heb. first clause. The addition is an interruption of the 
connection, and its meaning is obscure. 16. Equivalent clauses, 
ternary. At the beginning of second cl. and may be inserted, with 
the Grk., and after the prevailing norm of the couplets. The pre 
ceding description of the excellence of wisdom is figurative 
nothing is said of the precise nature of the benefits she confers. 
Here we have an explicit statement of the material rewards that 
attend her ; see n. on v. 2 Long life is lit. length of days. The 
riches and honor, here mentioned in addition to long life, are to be 
taken literally. The sage s point of view seems to be twofold. 

III. 14-18 6(J 


On the one hand, his conception of wisdom includes prudem 
and sagacity, qualities that usually secure both wealth and the 
esteem of men; cf. such passages as io 4 i i- 1 1 12" i4 :;; 19" 2 \-- 
22-* 2 4 :! - (; 27 - 3 1 10 - 1 this idea runs through the whole book. 
These qualities do not exclude the higher side of the conception 
of wisdom which appears elsewhere in the book. On the other 
hand, there is the idea that God, by some direct intervention or 
according to the general laws of his government of the world, 
bestows prosperity on those who obey the precepts of wisdom. 
After this verse the Grk. adds : out of her mouth proceeds righteous 
ness, and law and mercy she bears on her tongue ; cf. Isa. 45-" out 
of my mouth proceeds righteousness (Yahweh is the speaker) and 
Pr. 3 1- 1 " and the law of kindness [= kindly instruction } is on her 
tongue (said of the good housewife). This couplet, which is not 
in keeping with the context, is the addition of an annotator who 
felt that the passage should contain not a Pharisaic glorification 
of the Tora (Heid.), but a recognition of the ethical elements of 
wisdom. Our present Grk. text of ji 3 " (on which see note) is 
different from the clause here cited, and the latter must have been 
translated from the Heb. or from a Grk. text which followed the 
Hebrew ; the Grk. should probably here read : the law of kind 
ness, etc. The ethical element introduced by the Grk. lies out 
side the idea of the Heb. sage, whose purpose is simply to describe 
wisdom as the summitm bonuni. 17. Synonymous, binary, or 
ternary. The pleasantness and peace are to be interpreted accord 
ing to v. lrt : a life controlled by intellectual and moral wisdom will 
be free from disturbances and cares. Cf. Job ^ where peace is 
the reward of the man whom God instructs. It is outward peace 
that is primarily meant, but this would doubtless be accompanied, 
in the view of the writer, by serenity of mind ; the Heb. con 
ception of life, as is apparent throughout the Hook of Proverbs, 
was distinctly objective, but it necessarily included, as all human 
thought does, the posture of soul. I\\ice ! is the common saluta 
tion among men in OT. (as now among the Arabs), a general 
expression, covering all the outward conditions of life: the dis 
tinctively inward application of the term does not appear in OT. 
Cf. Jno. 14- i6 3! . 18. Synonymous, probably ternary-binary. 
Tree of life is a figurative expression (probably a commonplace of 


the poetical vocabulary), equivalent (as appears from n 30 i3 22 
IS 4 ) to source of long life and peace ; the statement of this verse 
is thus identical in meaning with that of v. 10 17 . The poetical 
image of lifegiving fruit (found also Ez. 47 1 -, and cf. the fountain 
of life, Pr. io n al.} is probably connected with the conception of a 
primitive sacred tree of life, and it is not unlikely that -the allusion 
here is to the tree of Gen. 2.3; if this be so, it is the only such 
allusion, besides that of Ez. 4y 12 , in OT. (the description of the 
garden of God in Ez. 28 has no mention of this particular tree). 
In Genesis the life is physical ; the man, it is said, would have 
lived forever if he had eaten of the fruit of the tree, even after he 
had violated the command by eating of the other tree (Gen. 3").* 
Here also the life is physical, as appears from v. 16 ; there is no 
reference or allusion to existence beyond the grave. But the sage 
departs from the account in Gen. in that he attributes long life to 
a quality of mind. 

19, 20. A separate paragraph. From a description of the 
blessings which wisdom confers on man, the sage goes on to 
exalt it as a guiding principle of God in the creation and 
maintenance of the physical world; the same conception is 
found in 8 1M1 (and cf. Job 28 20 - 28 ), BS. i 24 WSol. 7. This view is 
characteristic of the Wisdom books, while in the Prophets (Am. 4 13 
5 8 9 Isa. 40 there are no such references in preexilian writings) 
and the Psalms (89. 104. 139) God s works are cited as illustra 
tions of his greatness and his care for his people. The cosmical 
conception, which dwells on the order of the world for its own 
sake, belongs to the post-prophetic period and indicates an influ 
ence of Greek thought. f This paragraph obviously connects itself 
with the preceding and not with the following (which is an exhor 
tation to obey the laws of wisdom) ; whether it originally formed 
part of a larger section is uncertain. 19. Synonymous, quater 
nary-ternary. Wisdom as primeval attribute of the Creator. 

* On the tree of life in Gen., see Dillmann, Genesis ; Budde, Dibl. Urgeschickie ; 
Cheyne, Job and Sol., p. 123, and Bampton Lect., p. 441 f. ; Schwally, Lcben nach d. 
Tode, p. 1 1 8. 

f There is perhaps a trace of Persian thought also; cf. Cheyne, Jen>. Relig. Life 
after the Exile, pp. 151, 208. Whether the sages were affected by Egyptian cos- 
inogonic ideas is uncertain. 

I IT. 18-20 71 

It is the skill shown in the creation that is had in mind (as 
in fob 28 Pr. 8) ; contrast the national point of view of the 
prophets and the psalmists, the social interest of den. 2, and 
the statistical form of Gen. i. Wisdom here seems to be simply 
an attribute, with no approach to hypostatization. The expres 
sions founded and established belong to the old- Hebrew cosmo- 
gonical ideas. The earth was conceived of as a plane mass, 
resting on an ocean (\li 24- 136"), as having foundations (Isa. 5i 1:! 
\l/ 104 Pr. 8- u ) and as supported by pillars (Job (/ i// 75 3l4) ); Sheol 
was apparently supposed to lie beneath the subjacent ocean (cf. 
Am. 9" 3 ). Above the earth the heaven or sky was thought of as 
a material expanse (Gen. i 2 ), fixed in its place by God and sup 
ported by pillars (Job 26" ^ iS 7 "), by which we are probably to 
understand the mountains. The plu. heavens represents the sky 
as made up of contiguous parts ; the expression heavens of heav 
ens, elsewhere used of the celestial abode of the deity (Dt. 10" 
i K. S-" i/f I48 4 ) conceives of it as including different planes. The 
three divisions of the world are given in Kx. 20 : the heaven 
above, the earth beneath, the water under the earth.* --The 
monotheistic view of creation is here assumed as generally held 
(while Isa. 40 contains a polemic against polytheism). 20. Par 
allels, ternary. Wisdom in the divine direction of the material 
world. The verbs are better taken as Present ; v. 1 1 deals with the 
creation of the world, here we pass to its present guidance ; if the 
verbs be rendered as Past, the reference will be to the original 
arrangement. Lit. the Jeeps are cleft, that is, the subterranean 
structure is broken up so that the water may How. The waters 
include all bodies of water that issue from the ground, namely, 
springs and rivers, and also the sea ; these come from the sub 
terraneous ocean. Along with them is mentioned the water that 
is held to come from the other great aqueous supply : the den< 
is supposed to fall from the clouds, and the term is probably 
meant to include rain (cf. Job 28- " M 36-") ; the reference is to 
an ocean above the sky. Cf. (Gen. 7") the double process by 
which the flood is produced : the fountains of the great deep 


burst forth (that is, water rises from the subterranean ocean), and 
the windows of heaven are opened (that is, openings are made in 
the sky through which the water of the celestial ocean may fall). 
Apart from any scientific conception of method the verse declares 
that the divine wisdom appears in the distribution of water in the 
world. It is possible that in the original form of the section other 
illustrations of God s wisdom followed. Cf. 8 22 "" 31 . 

13. pf DIN . . . DIN; < (followed by j&) avBpwiros (dvTjp) . . . OvrjTos; 
we should perh. read ITUN or S"N (so Kamp.) instead of second N; 3L omits 
it. p| pifli; (5 eldfv, Cl. Alex. Migne I. 357 e vpe (but 552 o!5e), assimilation 
to vb. of a ; Saadia psi. 14. mnD; <@ avT^v e/juropeveffdai (Cl. Al. ffj.Tropev- 
6r)vcu, Fed. 91); ( b y xP vff t v K - dpyvpiov Orjffavpovs, prob. free rendering of 
P|, cf. 3 1 18 where D is rendered by tpydecr6ar, & follows p, only inserting 
pro;: (= 3io), before last word. 15. The tone in mp> is drawn back for the 
sake of the rhythm. K D"jfl, scribal error for Q. DTJS; a similar error in 
Lam. 4 7 was perh. the source of 3L ebore antique. For $? T> Dn read with all 
anc. Vrss. D^SDH (so Oort, Bi.), the restrictive suff. being out of keeping with 
the context. P? W"; < &iov, and, in the doublet, dvTirdZerat. (N c - a A dvri- 
rdffaerai ). doublet irovripbv (yon), perh. for iroQi\r^v (Jag., Grabe, cited 
by Schl.). @, second doub. evyvuvrbs tffnv iraaiv TO?S tyyl$ov<nv avry 
(Proc. by scribal error 6pyL^ovcnv, (@ v <pawTo^lvoi^) perh. [SoS] ton n;"nj 
nonp or nijoS irxV .TJ; in any case not original. For |^ no Oort would 
rather read nS; the Prep, after PIIB> (= like, eqttal} is ^ or SN except here 
and 8 11 Esth. 7 4 ; the 3 may introduce the noun of estimation. 16. After 
c^ TIN <& adds /cat Hry fw^s, apparently from v. 2 ; the addition mars the 
rhythm. (5 also introduces the v. by yap (adopted by Bi.), but the causal 
form does not agree with the context. On the couplet inserted by see 
what is said above, and cf. notes of Lag. and Heid. In b we should perh. 
read v6fj.ov 5e t\tov. 17. PJ aiStr: Ba! - tv tipr/vy, (@ Va *- /xer eip., ( s> omits 
prep.; P? is to be retained. 18. In a , as often elsewhere (rhetorical expan 
sion), (g prefixes ira<ri to the Part, (oipirnn). Instead of PQ the suff. might 
be attached to the Partcp. In b p? has sing. pred. iB NC with plu. subj. 
n>3DP. |L (and so Bi.) makes subj. sing., and JS3T pred. plu., but these ren 
derings do not necessarily indicate the precise form of the Heb. text of the 
Vrss., since they might in any case make their translations conform to gram 
matical rules; in the construction of pj, which occurs elsewhere (Gen. a; 29 
Ex. 3 1 14 al., see Ew. 319^), the sing. pred. is distributive or individualiz 
ing, or it is a simplified (unitary) form similar to initial sing. vb. followed by 
plu. subject. The vb. Ti>,s = make or call happy seems to be Denom. 
Clause b stands in <S B /cat rots t-irepeiSofjitvois <br avrrjv a>s tiri Kvpiov; <5 Bub 
adds dff(t>a\-/i and <g ><< A dff(pa\^s, and so J6 H Proc. Hil.; a<r<p, = na ND 
(taken as Pi. Part. = guide or as Pu. guided, and perh. read nirss), is 
understood as referring to wisdom; ws c. K. apparently = n^, repetition out 

III. 20-21 73 

of n->:2.-i (Lag., Oort). The Ileli. text of (5 = 11?, only with Prep. " before 
T. 19. Ei> (= 2) is prefixed to aoQiq. by several Fathers, and to <f>pov/i<rti 
by <S S "* many eurss. and several Fathers (see II-P), probably a scribal 
variation. SJC attach 3 sing. masc. suff. to the second noun, $ to the tirst 
also. 20. Suff. in I.-;T omitted by <5 BA , inserted by (5 " c - tt H-P 69 a/. Comp. 
Aid. The precise sense of the expression VP^J rb ir is nut quite clear; we 
expect : " the rock (or, the earth) was cleft, and the waters issued, as in i/< yS 1 ". 
The construction in Pr. is supported, however, by Gen. j u \f/ ~4 :: \ the latter 
passage can hardly be rendered : fkoit didst clearc a way for fountain and 
brook. Apparently the subterranean en 7 is regarded as a mass, lying motion 
less, and requiring to be cleft in order that its waters may move. Instead of 
ID; "* 4 MSS. have JDT with same meaning (cf. I)t. 32-), perhaps scribal 
error, or euphonic variation; on transposition of radicals in stems see Bottch., 
Lchrb., I. 265-267. 

21-26. A separate section (parallel to but distinct from the 
preceding), exhorting to the practice of Wisdom on the ground 
that it will give security to life. Hitzig s reasons for regarding 
the section as an interpolation (namely, that the repetition of the 
promise of reward is unnecessary, that the vocabulary contains 
late expressions, and that the omission of these verses secures a 
division of the chapter into paragraphs of ten verses each) are 
now generally rejected. The whole section, chs. 1-9, is not early, 
but late ; it is made up of sub-sections, in which there is neces 
sarily repetition ; and the hypothesis of decimal division is arbi 

21 / . My son, keep [with thee] wisdom and discretion, 
21 a. Let them not depar f from thy sight; 

22. They will be life to thy being, 
Adornment to thy neck. 

23. Then wilt thou go thy way securely; 
Thy foot will not stumble; 

24. When thou < sittest down * thou wilt not be afraid, 
Thou wilt lie down, and thy sleep will be sweet. 

25. Thou wilt not fear the calamity that befalls the < foolish, t 
Xor the storm that strikes the wicked; 

26. For Yahweh will be thy protector. 
And will keep thy feet from snares. 

21. Synonymous, ternary, or, in the emended text, quaternaiy- 
binary. The present Heb. text reads : m\ son, /</ the 

* Heb. : licst down. t Heb. : l- car not sitJJtii calamity. 


depart (or, swerve} from thine eyes, keep wisdom (or, sagacity} 
and discretion. But the subject of the first cl. is lacking. The 
antecedent of them cannot be supplied from v. ly a) (where wisdom, 
understanding, and knowledge are attributes of God, and in any 
case such reference to them would be too abrupt), or from the 
second cl. (which would be against Heb. usage). A similar ob 
jection applies to the rendering (obtained by a slight change in 
the Heb.) let it [wisdom] not swerve : the reference to wisdom 
is abrupt, and the sing, does not agree with v. 22 . The Vrss. are 
unsatisfactory. Grk. (the text of which may be corrupt) : my 
son, do not escape (\\\..flow away) Lat. : let not these flow away 
from thine eyes ; Syr. Targ. : let it not be despicable in thine eyes. 
The beginning of the paragraph, which contained the antecedent 
of them, may have fallen out ; it may perhaps be supplied from 
the closely parallel passage 4 20 * 22 . We may either insert a verse 
similar to 4*, or supply a single word and read let not my words 
(or, let not wisdom} swerve, etc. The term swerve, turn aside, 
seems strange in this connection, and the Vrss. assumed different 
stems. We expect one of the usual words for depart, as in 2 y- 2 
or iy 13 , or else, with inversion, turn not away from my instruction. 
A proper form may be got by transposing the clauses : my son, 
preserve sagacity and discretion, let them not depart from thine 
eyes (Umbreit), which is without Versional support, but seems to 
be the simplest solution of the difficulty of the first clause. On 
the terms sagacity ( wisdom} and discretion see notes on 2 7 and 
i 4 , and on keep see notes on 2 20 3 1 . 22. Synonymous, ternary- 
binary. The reward (the description of which goes through v. 25 ) . 
Instead of will, here and throughout the paragraph (simple state 
ment of result), we may render shall (authoritative statement) . 
Grk. in order that, but the verse is better understood as express 
ing result. The life is physical, as in 3- 1G . Being is here better 
than soul (as rendering of ITS3), since the latter term conveys to 
us a spiritual sense not contained in the Hebrew ; we might trans 
late they will (or, shall} be life to thee, that is, they will (or, shall) 
confer on thee long life, a supreme blessing. Adornment is lit. 
beauty, grace of form (see note on i), and so an ornament as a 
thing of beauty, and as a lasting possession ; see notes on i 9 3 3 . 
True sagacity, it is declared, will bring its possessor not only long 


life but also loveliness and graciousness, the reference being to 
the attractiveness of a character moulded by a high, Godfearing 
intelligence, beautiful in itself and attractive to men. The (Irk. 
here inserts v/, with a slight variation (flesh instead of body). 
23. Synonymous, ternary. Security in walk. The second cl. (which 
reads lit. am/ shall not strike thy foot} occurs in t// 91 " with the 
addition against a stone ; there the guidance is referred to angels, 
here to wisdom ; the whole psalm is parallel to our section, and 
shows the difference between the points of view of psalmist and 
sage. A slight change in the Heb. gives the reading thy foot 
will (or, shall} not stumble (so (irk. RV.) ; the sense is the same 
in both renderings. The expression was probably a common one 
to express safety ; it is unnecessary to suppose that Pr. took it 
from i//, or \\i from Pr. 24. Parallels, ternary. Security at home. 
The Heb. text reads : when than licst down thou wilt (or, shalt) 
not be a/raii/, yea, thou wilt (or, shalt) lie down and tliy sleep 
will (or, shall} be sweet. The repetition of the verb is somewhat 
strange, though it is defensible on rhetorical grounds. The Heb. 
vb. has the two senses lie down and sleep, and Schultens thinks 
that the first of these is to be understood in first cl., and the 
second in second cl. ; but this is not permissible. (Irk., in first 
cl. : when thou sittcst down; Targ. : when thou licst down and 
sleepest; Syr.: and thou shalt sleep ; Lat. : if thon sleep thou shalt 
not be afraid, thou shalt rest, etc. In t/> 3-" " " 4 S ; " the expression is 
lie down and sleep ; in Dt. 6 7 we have the pairs sif down, walk, 
and lie down, rise. We might retain the Heb. text, and under 
stand it to refer to sleep undisturbed by attacks of robbers and 
murderers ; but a more natural form is obtained by changing the 
first lie to sit. 25. Synonymous, ternary. Security from calam 
ity. Lit. terror (or, calamity} of tJie foolish and storm (or, deso 
lation} of the wicked. The Heb., instead of terror of the fo- 
has sudden terror, which gives a good but less appropriate sense ; 
the parallelism favors a reference to a class of persons, and this 
reading is supported by i 1 " 1 - 7 . The translation foolish requires no 
change in the consonants of the Hebrew. At the end of second 
line the Heb. has when it comes, an addition to complete the 
rhythm, but unnecessary to the sense. The declarative render 
ing thou wilt (or, shalt} not be afraid is required by the connec- 


tion ; the imperative be not afraid is here out of place. The 
wicked will be visited with storms of calamity, but when these 
come the man who is guided by the divine wisdom need not fear 
they shall not reach him. Cf. the similar statements in Job 5 21 
\l/ 9 1 5 " 8 . 26. Progressive, ternary. The ground of hope. Pro 
tector is lit. confidence = ground of confidence ; cf. Job 8 14 3i 24 . 
The specifically religious theistic point of view (as in Job 5 17 ~ ?6 
1^91) is here introduced wisdom is identified with trust in God, 
according to the fundamental principle stated in i 7 . 

21. If JK? vS^ be referred to st. nS, this use of the word (= depart} must 
probably be regarded as peculiar to the Hokma diction. <5 (Trapapvfjs = s in) 
and IL (effluant) appear to have taken it from Su flow, SC ( s u, foil, by 
Prep, a) from V?T despicable. In 4 21 <& has iK\iiru<riv, <SJC J^rj (from S 1 ??), 
IL recedant (from nS or STJ). Lag. supposes that irapappvfjs (as he writes the 
word, but apparently without MS. authority) comes from preceding fppvrjo-av 
by erroneous repetition of ppvys, and he thinks it impossible to restore the 
verb. <S (which omits $? TJ V > 2) must be rendered do not slip away (that is, 
from my instruction, or, from wisdom}, a strange reading, and <S2TIL are 
equally unsatisfactory. There seems to be nothing better than to retain |$ > 
on the construction of the verse see note above. Bi. reads rSr, 3 sing, fern., 
understanding wisdom as subject; Oort V?p (cf. the stem 7tx). The reading 
of SC is found in Kenn. 95, 150, and is adopted by Houb., and the form 
ipV> (as in 4 21 ) occurs in some printed ecld. (see De Rossi). In }> (&& attach 
I pers. suff. to the nouns, and J5 treats Tij as Inf. Heid. s remark that SjfE 
reverse the order of the nouns is not correct (cf. Pink.). 22. <Q iva. f 770" 77 
7; ^vx"n vov (or crj i/ i X ? H-P 23, 252) is free rendering of $J. 23. (5 weTroi- 
0cbs and tv eip-^vrj, doublet; irdffas, rhetorical insertion. ft) T^" 1 ! the Qal is 
regularly trans., and is so rendered ^ pi 12 by (5IL; here intrans. by (S3L and 
apparently by ,(; Saadia ^ 2 "|Sji aixn K71, in which the verb may be taken 
either as trans, or as intrans., and thy foot will not strike (or, thon wilt not 
strike thy foot) against anything (rendered intrans. by Derenbourg and Lam 
bert). There is no reason for abandoning the ordinary sense of the word. 
24. 10 has 2DT in both clauses, Impf. and Perf., rhetorical variation; a better 
reading is given in tt by ( (foil, by n ), KaGrj = arn (referred by Hit/.., Heid. 
to influence of Dt. 6"), adopted by Bi. on the ground that |j is intolerably 
tautological. The Vrss. all vary the expressions: (@ KdOy and Ka0ei/5??s; 
2> "pirn aoB n in " and n in b ; S " n in a , ~T in ; IL dormieris and ^w/- 
esces ; and so Saad. /;> down and 5/^t^. These renderings may be rhetorical 
variations of flj. In 2T the s m is explanatory addition to x^i (5>). 25. |i) 
SN may be changed to N^, after the norm of v. 2i , or perhaps may be taken 
as declarative, which force it possibly sometimes has in poetry (Job 32 21 ) and 
elevated prose (Jer. I4 17 ), though in these passages it may be scribal errcr. 

HI =5-27 77 

For ins C,r. proposes -P<?, referring to i-" - whore (? lias 6\eOpo<; and 
dbfjvfios; yet these may be understood as free translations of -<nr taken 
as = cansf of ji dr; here has Trro^cnv (irf\6oi>ffav, in which TT. = -tnr, ami 
f?r. is repetition from > or represents CNTD read as some form of s ir. The 
terror and storm of 1) are understood by (3, against the conneetion and 
against the suggestion of I- 1 - , as an attack made on the righteous by tin- 
wicked. |B =src ; point ss-c (<>ort). ii> xar >r; cf. N22 i- 1 "-- 7 . _ 26. (in 
the Beth esscntiae in f-D:2 (so Kx. i8 4 Isa. 40 " ^ 146*) see (ies.- ; , $ 1 19 /, Kw., 
22()l>, and ef. JT "t^ D^; on the similar Arab, construction see Casp. ed. 
Wright, II. 56,7 and Rem. n, ed. Miiller, 423, 2u; 31 in later,: iuo and $ 
~\" ; take o as = AJ/W, flank ; <5 ETTI -TracrtDr 65ai^ crov = ir s D > :2. It) n;^ air. 
\ey.; Oort suggests that it may be pointed as Oal Inf. or written Xif. Inf. 
inS-i; (5 U - ffaXevOys (= -jr: or ^Jj?), which Semler would change to dy/jei/ejjs 
(so H-P 23, 252 lnar =-, and 5 H i srr), and Lag. to 

27-30. A detached group of sayings, enjoining kindness to 
one s fellowmen. They are prosaic in style, roughly formed 
couplets, with scarcely perceptible rhythm. In their homely char 
acter they resemble rather some of the aphorisms of chs. 10-29 
than the discourses of chs. 1-9, and seem out of place here. 
Their presence appears to indicate that these two divisions of the 
Book were finally edited about the same time. Cf. 6 W - - n - 1:M J 
9 7 - 1 - Eccl. y 1 - - 1 . 

27. Withhold not good from thy < neighbor > 
When it is in thy power to do it; 

28. Say not to thy neighbor: " Co and come again, 

And tomorrow I will give," when thou hast it by thee. 

29. Devise no injury to thy neighbor, 
Seeing he dwells in confidence by thee. 

30. Strive not with a man without cause, 
If he have done thee no harm. 

27, 28. Two nearly identical exhortations to beneficence. In 
v.- the Heb. has from its possessors, which cannot mean from the 
poor ((irk.), as if they were lawful owners of alms, or from them 
to whom it is due (RV.) ; nor can we render, with I, at. Vulg. : 
Restrain not him who can from doing good ; if thou art able, thy 
self do good. The connection (v.- s -" ) suggests some such word as 
neighbor, which may be got by a not very difficult change of the 
Hebrew. The word is wanting in 1 eshitta and Targum. which 
have the general precept refrain not from doing good, but the con- 


nection favors the reference to the " neighbor." The term 
means associate, clansman, neighbor, friend, but seems here to 
be employed in the wider sense in which it is used in Dt. 15- 
Lu. lo- 7 -" -" 7 (taken from the Grk. of Lev. iQ 18 ). Similar injunc 
tions are found in n - 1 -- 6 i^.- 1 - 31 iy 17 2i L>c 27* BS. 2 g l - - **. In all 
these the tone is one of broad human sympathy. 28 enjoins 
prompt and hearty help, as in our proverb : " who gives quickly 
gives twice " ; there is no ground for restricting the injunction to 
paying a hired man his wages (see Rashi) . The first cl. may be 
understood as quoting two equivalent speeches of the man who 
puts his neighbor off: Go and come again and Tomorrow I will 
gire. Grk. omits to thy neighbor, perhaps by scribal error ; the 
expression is possibly an insertion of the Heb. scribe for the sake 
of clearness, certainly not (as Lag. thinks) to restrict an injunc 
tion which was thought to be too general. Cf. the omission of 
the similar expression of v.- 7 by the Aramaic Vrss., which likewise 
seems to be scribal abridgment or inadvertence. At the end of 
the verse Grk. adds for thou knowest not what the next day 
will bring forth, a not very appropriate gloss, taken from 27 1 . 
29. Single sentence, ternary. Against malicious conduct. Seeing 
he dwells in confidence by thee, that is, dwells unsuspecting, or, as 
the Grk. has it, seeing he dwells by thee and trusts in thee. Trustful 
feeling, here stated as the ground of obligation of kindness, is the 
basis of social life ; to a generous mind the plea is a strong one. 
30. Single sentence, ternary. Against groundless quarrelling. 
The verb in first cl. means contend, in general, and in this sense is 
found in proper names, as Jerubbaal, = " Baal [that is, Yahweh] 
contends [for me]." It is a common term for litigation, but is 
here used for any (unfriendly) disputation. The verse is tautolo- 
gous, the second cl. merely repeating the without cause of the 
first clause. One or the other of these might be omitted without 
detriment, and in fact Syr. omits second cl., probably for simpli 
fication ; but the repetition may be retained as rhetorical fulness. 
The Grk. has, in second cl., lest he do thee harm, a suggestion simi 
lar to that of 6 1 " 14 " 20 3 22 24 2l , but here not in keeping with the 
context, which contains merely injunctions without statement of 
consequences. The meaning of the verse is that while contention 
is sometimes right and necessary, it must always be for good cause. 

in. 27-30 79 

27. In expressions of position or quality ^ 3 always signifies one who 
employs or controls the thing in question: husband = owner of a wife; ally, 
Gen. I4 1:5 = one who enters into and employs a treaty; dreamer, Gen. 3" 1 1 
one who has and employs dreams; archer, Gen. 49 J:; = one who uses arrows; 
a man of affairs, Kx. 24^, conducts his affairs; creditor, l)t. 15- = one who 
makes and controls a loan; the hair of a hairy man, 2 K. i", belongs by 
nature to him; a legal tidrersury, Isa. 50", is one who conducts the prosecu 
tion; one who is worn, Xeh. 6 1 ", makes an oath; a bird, Pr. I 17 , uses its 
wings; a -vaster effects waste; an angry man, 22- 29--, feels and shows anger; 
a glutton, 23-, has appetite; a rogue, 24*, makes mischief; a babbler, Keel. lo 11 , 
uses his tongue. There is thus no authority in Ileb. usage for the statement 
(made by Sehult., De., and others) that 2vj s ;a may here mean not him who 
does good but him to whom good is done; and further, the sense actually 
given by them is something still different, namely, him who stands in need 
of "ood or deserves it. Nor does Aram, permit such a rendering. The word 
must be either, with S2T, omitted, or else changed; a corruption of y;-> into 
v s ;2 offers no great graphic difficulty. From 6 evSeii Gr. suggests v-x: 1 , and 
Oort sees nothing better than Ji 3x; but (5 is probably free rendering of |l). 

K ^-11 is possible, but marginal reading -< is the common form and is found 

in many MSS. of Kenn. and De R.; Rashi gives two explanations, one = 1L, 
one = (5. 28. |1) "^ is sing., the Vod being third rad.; the omission of 
this letter, as in margin, is unnecessary, though it is omitted in many Span. 
MSS. As the next word is ^, the omission of Ti" 1 " in nia > 1)e <luc l " 
homoeoteleuton, or possibly to homoeoarkton, especially if it were written in 
the abridged form -< s . S, probably by scribal inadvertence, transfers vs U-M 
from end to beginning of the verse. On the addition in (5 see note on this 
verse above. 29. $i^n-; (5 TfKT^vr,; US 7 -( 1:! aporpia; the figurative 
sense devise comes more naturally from carve, but possibly also horn plough. 
30. It) X s -x; 6 M, perh. taking 11) as = p, or perh. reading x^ ^rs or 
N s ._;, Ni i t %vas hardly on moral grounds that b was omitted in $. 

31-35. Comparison between the fortunes of the wicked and 
the righteous a separate group of aphorisms, similar to the 
religious aphorisms of chs. 10-22, having a general connection 
with the preceding paragraph. It is a warning against the seduc 
tion of the apparent prosperity of wickedness. 

31. Knvy not the man of violence, 
And take no pleasure in his ways; 

32. For a bad man is an abomination to Vahweh, 

But between him and the upright there is friendship. 


34. Scoffers he scoffs at, 

But to the pious he shows favor. 

35. Wise men obtain honor, 

But ignominy is the < portion > of fools. 

31. Synonymous, ternary. The warning. The second line 
may be rendered : take pleasure in none of his ways (lit. take not 
pleasure in all his ways) . The parallelism calls for take pleasure 
(i^Gen. 6 2 ) rather than choose (which, however, gives a good 
sense). The violence is highhanded, unlawful procedure of any 
sort ; man of violence = wicked man ; the " violence " was gener 
ally practised for purposes of pecuniary or political gain; cf. 10" 
I6 28 . It is assumed that there is something in the fortunes of 
such a person which one might be tempted to envy, and so to be 
pleased with (or, choose) ; for the explanation see \\i 37 3ff -. It is 
the problem of the Book of Job, which is here solved in the old 
way; see next verse. Grk. reads procure not the reproaches of 
bad men, and covet not their ways, in which first clause comes 
from scribal error, but second clause is favored by the parallelism 
and by 24 19 \\i 37*. On the other hand our text is supported by 
24 1 , and gives a good sense. Lat. do not imitate his ways, which 
represents the Hebrew. 32-34. The reason for the warning is 
here found in the way in which God deals with the righteous and 
the wicked. The rewards and punishments are earthly and ex 
ternal ; there is no recognition of ethical immortality, and life is 
regarded on the side of its outward experiences. 32. Anti 
thetic, ternary-binary. This form is common in chs. 10-22, but not 
in chs. 1-9. The term abomination is used in the earlier historical, 
the prophetical, and the legal literature of what is contrary to a 
religious cult or usage, Israelitish or foreign, as in Gen. 43*- , 
K. i4 24 , Dt. i4 3 , Ez. 5", etc. ; in later books it is extended to 
include moral offences, as here ; it means something which is 
incompatible with the nature of Yahweh. The bad (or iniquitous } 
man (for the term see note on 2 15 ) is as abhorrent to Yahweh as 
an idol or other abomination, but with the upright he sits as with 
familiar friends (lit. with the upright is his friendship} . The word 
rendered friendship means private, intimate converse and friendly 
relation, then the assembly or persons who thus converse together, 

in- 3i-34 Si 

and finally the secret counsel they take and the design or plan 
they form. The connection must decide in any given case which 
of these significations is most appropriate. With this passage cf. 
Job 2^-~ $ 25" (and <// 55 11 1 ""), in which the sense is clearly 
friendship. The ground for avoiding the ways of the wicked 
(v. :;1 ) is that Yahweh is hostile to him and friendly to the right 
eous ; what this friendliness secures is stated in the next verse. 
33. Antithetic, quaternary-ternary, or ternary (as in chs. 10-22). 
\Ve may render on tiie house or in the house. The value of Vahweh s 
friendship is here said to be the (external) prosperity it brings ; no 
reference is made to the moral benefit of communion of soul be- 
Uveen God and man this latter is rather regarded as the ground 
of the blessing. A curse in the mouth of God is a sentence or pro 
nouncement of evil ; in the mouth of man it is an imprecation, an 
invocation of divine punishment. Similarly God /> /esses by pro 
nouncing good, man by invoking good from God.* I, at. poverty 
from the Lord is an interpretation of curse of Yahweh suggested 
by second clause. 34. Antithetic, ternary (or, ternary-binary). 
The surely of RV. is incorrect ; see critical note below. Nor is 
the hypothetical rendering satisfactory: //(or, though} he scorns, 
etc., yet he shows, etc., the preceding and succeeding verses being 
declarative. Still less can v. !1 be protasis and v .- " apodosis. A 
variation of the preceding statement. On scoffers see note on i~. 
For the conception of reciprocity in first cl. cf. \!/ : 8-" - > - "- 7 > ; the 
representation of God as acting toward men as they act toward 
him rests on an ancient anthropomorphism, which in Pr. is prob 
ably purified by the conviction that God, as just, must be hostile to 
evildoers ; but the thought never rises to the point of conceiving 
of him as merciful to fools and sinners. The word here trans 
lated pious (c":r) is that which is variously rendered in RY. 
by poor, afflicted, humble, lowly, meek. Its primary sense seems 
to be one who is bowed, bent, or one who bows himself (under or 
before a hostile force) ; it thus conies to signify one who suffers 
from financial poverty (Am. 8 al.}, one who is oppressed by the 
strong, particularly the nation Israel in the time of national afflic- 


tion ((]/ 74 19 a I.}, or, one who afflicts himself by fasting or is 
humble before God, and so in general the Godfearing, pious (so 
used of Moses, Nu. i2 3 , and so ^ 37", quoted in Mt. 5 " ). This 
last is the sense suggested by the parallelism here, though lowly, 
humble, is also appropriate. Grk. : the Lord resists the proud, 
but shows favor to the humble, quoted, with slight variations, in 
Jas. 4", i Pet. 5 5 . Bickell omits the verse as an interpolation 
which breaks the connection between v. ;i ! and v. a " ; it is, however, 
closely parallel to v. 33 , and, if any verse is to be omitted as irrele 
vant, it should rather be v. 35 (see note on this verse below). 
For the sentiment cf. i6 CJ . 35. Antithetic, ternary. The first 
cl. = honor is the portion of wise men. The thought is that of n 2 
12 s 13 " I4 19 22- J al. ; men of integrity and insight will receive 
recognition at the hands of their fellowmen the approbation 
of society is presented as a motive for rightdoing a powerful 
inducement. The term wise doubtless includes moral and re 
ligious as well as intellectual elements, and so fools in the second 
clause. The verb means primarily to have or obtain possession (as 
in Jos. 14 ), and secondarily to inherit, a sense which is here not 
appropriate. Honor is the respect or high recognition accorded 
by God to man, or by man to God or man (i K. 3 13 Gen. 45" 
i Sam. 6" ) ; opposed to it is the shame of the second cl., slight 
estimation, contempt. The translation of the second cl. is doubt 
ful, one word being apparently corrupt. This word, as it stands, 
may mean lift up (from the ground, 2 K. 2 13 ), exalt (\\i SQ 20 ), take 
away, remove out of the way (Hos. n 4 Isa. 57 M ), offer as gift or 
sacrifice (that is, lift up before the deity, Ex. 35 24 Lev. 4 8 ). None 
of these senses are here suitable : fools do not exalt or remove or 
offer ignominy, nor does ignominy do these things to fools. No 
satisfactory translation of the clause has been made. Grk. : the 
godless exalt dishonor; Lat. (followed by RV.) : ignominy is the 
exaltation (or, promo tion} of fools (lit. shame exalts fools}, and 
so Schult. : the brand of infamy gives notoriety to fools ; Syr. 
Targ. : fools suffer (lit. receive} shame, which is not a translation 
of the Heb., the word in Heb. meaning not " to take away for one s 
own benefit or use," but " to take out of the way, do away with," 
and, in the ritual, " to take a portion not for one s self but for 
God." A slight change of text, with an insertion, gives the ren- 

m - .14-35 83 

deringyWir change {their glory] into shame (cf. IIos. 4 7 ]er. 2" 
\lr io6 L< "), but the insertion is improbable, and the resulting sense 
not clear or appropriate. Another slight change gives fools in 
crease shame (cf. Isa. 40-" Keel. 6" io 14 ), a good and natural 
sense; and a similar rendering is appropriate in i^--\ Hut an 
equally easy and more probable emendation gives the verb possess, 
get possession of (= obtain}. In any case the meaning of the 
second el. is ignominy is the portion of fools, that is, of those who 
are not wise enough to see that it is their duty as well as their 
interest to obey the divine law. The ignominy and the honor, it 
is to be supposed, are assigned by God. The couplet appears not 
to belong with the preceding quatrains, from which it differs in 
tone ; it is probably the addition of an editor. 

31. (3 /XT; KTriarj [njpr] KO.K&V di>5pu>v oveidri, in which 6v. may = It) D~:n 
(liaumg.) as in 26 Job 19% K . being epexegetical; Lag. suggests that K . a. o. 

is simply poetical expression of K. a., like fj.tya adevos HertWos lltriwv. 

$77X^0-775 may = |i) -inar; according to Oort, it = in.-.-, which seems unneces 
sary.* 32. (5 seems to make Trapdro/xos (rrj) suhj. of b iv 5e SiKaiois ov 
crvvedpid^fi, but doubtless ov is scribal error, repetition of following <rv (Lag.), 
and /ci/ptos is sub]. Heid., noting that (5 lias Trap, instead of ffKo\idfav (14-) 
and dudeapros instead of the usual (lde\vy/j.a, sees in this v. a Pharisaic attack 
on the Sadducees, the paranomists, and regards (rvvedpidfa as an allusion to 
the Sanhedrin. This is possible, but not necessary, and the supposed allusion 
in a-wed. vanishes with the disappearance of ov. 33. 1!) HIT; (^ 8eov. All 
following nouns are plural in (5, perh. stylistic variation of the translator, 
pern, representing variations from our Ifeb. text; so 37 Saad. have phi. in ", 
1L in , and in @1L the vb. in h is Pass. plu. 34. 3 i ^ s zs cannot here menu 
when he deals with scorners (Lag., I)e., Kamp.) as separate ])rotasis (with 
!" Nin as apodosis), nor can :s = surely (RV.), since, in asseverations, this 
word has negative force. ( Ir., ( )ort, change ax to a-n^x (after Jas. 4 I Pet. 5 : ), 
and Oort omits pref. s ; but nn> is the divine name used above in the para 
graph, and the xn further must then be omitted. Dys. s emendation to z". 
with omission of pref. ^ (which may easily be doublet) is simpler, bringing 
the sentence into the norm of \// iS Jt; . Or, we may, with (? Kvpios virepr)(t>dvoi<> 
dvTiTdao-fTai, omit Dx (so 52T1L), though this is graphically not so easy. 
(5 Kvptos may represent mrv, or may be cxplicitnm. K. a"j;; O c^i;;, for 
which $ has N^TH. For r iL " S3T have ^~o: casts don<n, free rendering. 
35. J^ n^r; Q inf/uo-av; S3T p^a" 1 :; 11 slttlloruni exullalic, a]>pareiitly taking 
p- p as subj.; Dys. emends to ir-i---:, C,r. better to a 1 ^-:, but we sliould prnlc- 
blv read u ; -^n or ^ i-. 

* Heid., by oversight, quotes Proeop. s comments as addition;, to the Gik. text. 


IV. Three exhortations (v. 1 - 9 , v. 10 - 19 , v. 20 - 27 ), the theme of all 
three being the excellence and beneficent power of wisdom. 
They are like those of chs. 2. 3 in that the advice is of a gen 
eral nature, while in chs. 5. 6. 7 it is directed against a particular 

1-9. The sage cites the instruction given him by his father. 
The text is, in parts, in such condition that we cannot be sure of 
the exact sense. The Vatican (irk. makes the teacher s instruc 
tion (and not wisdom) the subject of praise. 

1. Hear, O children, the instruction of a father 
Give heed that ye may comprehend wisdom. 

2. For good counsel I give you 
Forsake ye not my teaching. 

3. When I was of tender age, [] 
Beloved by my father, 

4 a. lie used to teach me and say to me : 

4 b. " Let thy mind retain my words. 

4<r. Keep my commandments and live; 

5 a. Get wisdom, get understanding. 

6. Forsake her not, and she will preserve thee, 
Love her, and she will keep thee.* 

8. Prize her, and she wilt exalt thee, 

She will honor thee if thou embrace her; 

9. She will encircle thy head with a chaplet of beauty, 
Bestow on thee a crown of glory." 

1. Extensive or exegetical (the second cl. repeating first cl. 
and giving the reason for it), ternary. Exhortation to hearken. 
The sage (by the plu. children or sons} addresses himself to a 
circle of hearers, a school, though the difference of number K not 
significant; when the sing, is used, the address is to a class of 
persons, young men in general. Father is not here used in the 
stricter (family) sense of the word, but with the wider connota 
tion of teacher ; see note on i 8 , and cf. v. 3 below. On instruction 
and wisdom (the term usually rendered understanding} see notes 
on i 2 . The word rendered give heed, hearken, attend, is a syn 
onym of hear used only in poetry and solemn prose. Compre- 

* On the omission of v/>b. 7_ se e note on these verses below. 

IV. 1-3 ,X 5 

= know (i J ). The source of authority of the teaching is 
the experience of the teacher. 2. Continued thought, ternary - 
(or, quaternary-) binary. The ground of the sage s claim to be 
heard. The sage speaks with conviction and authority ; he believes 
that his teaching is sound and important, and the teaching or /aw 
that he gives is his own, that is, is grounded in his own soul, 
though derived from divine teaching ; the prophet, on the con 
trary, never speaks in his own name. Counsel or instruction 
( RV. doctrine}, with which law is synonymous, is here given to 
others : in i (on which see note) it is received from others. 
Grk. gift something received. Lat. I give you a good gift 
(omitting for, which, though not necessary, is appropriate, nearly 
-namely}. 3. The sage refers to his own childhood. The 
Heb. reads : For I was a son to my father [or, mv father s son], 
tender [= of tender age, weak] and an only child in the presence of 
[ with ] my mother. Grk. : / also was a son, obedient to a father, 
and beloved in Hie presence of a mother. The first cl. is strange 
it seems unnecessary and unnatural to describe a boy as the son 
of his father, and it is not probable that any writer would use such 
an expression ; we expect a word descriptive of the son s rela 
tions with the father (as the relations with the mother are de 
scribed in the second cl.). The obedient of the Grk. seems to be 
free rendering of our Heb. (instead of tender}, though it may rep 
resent a different Heb. word ; something like this would be pos 
sible, but is not particularly appropriate; it would require a 
change in the order of the words. The only e/ii/d also is improb 
able ; an adj. like the beloved of the Grk. would be appropriate ; 
but this sense (RV. only beloved} does not properly belong to the 
Heb. word here used ; the expression as an only child would be 
in place. After calling on his pupils to give heed to his instruc 
tion, the writer (in order to give the weight of tradition to his 
words) might naturally say for I mvself was a son, under Hie 
authority of a father, and beloved b\ a mother. But, as only the 
father is referred to (in the Heb. text) in the following couplet, it 
seems probable that the mention of the mother here does not 
belong to the original form, and that my mother took the place of 
my father in the second line after the expression to my father had 
been introduced, by scribal error, into the first line. If, widi this 


correction, we substitute beloved for only son, we have a simple 
and clear sentence. The verse suggests an interesting picture of 
the family-training of the time (probably the third century B.C.). 
The father is the authoritative guide of the children.* The in 
struction is oral there is no reference to books ; books were 
rare, and were probably used only by advanced students, though 
children of the better families may have been taught to read at 
home. There is no sign of the existence of children s schools at 
this time.f 4-7. It is not easy to determine the precise con 
nection of thought in this passage. V. 4a - b and v. G are plain; the 
difficulty lies in v. 40 - 1 "- 7 . The following considerations may help to 
fix the wording. V. 7 , since it interrupts the connection between 
v. and v. 8 , is syntactically confused, and is not found in the Grk., 
may be omitted (see note on this verse below). V/ )b also inter 
rupts the connection between v/ a and v. 6 (this last verse supposing 
a preceding reference to wisdom), and should be omitted. We 
shall thus have to form a couplet out of v. 4c and v. a . The resultant 
paragraph is not free from difficulties ; but it follows the indica 
tions of the Heb. text, and affords a clear sense. 4. The two 
first clauses make a couplet, continuous, ternary. The father s 
address, beginning with the second clause, appears to extend 
through v. 9 . The father alone is here cited, in the Heb., as 
teacher (see note on preceding verse). Grk. (reversing the order 
of the verbs) : they said and taught me, thus including the mother ; 
in v. 5 , however, it makes the father alone the speaker, and so, prob 
ably, it should be throughout, in accordance with the manner of 
the rest of the section, chs. 1-9. On mind (lit. heart) see note 
on 2 2 . Retain = grasp, hold firmly in hand, hold fast. The 
third line of the verse is identical with the first line of -j~, and is, 
for this reason, here thrown out by some critics as a scribal inser 
tion ; but such repetition is possible (for ex., i 81 = 6 20b ). Grk. has 
only the first half, omitting the words and live ; but for this omis 
sion there is no good reason. In the present state of the text there 
seems to be nothing better than to attach the line to the first line 

* The mother also was doubtless the instructor of the child (see I s ), whether or 
not she is mentioned in this verse. 

t On the education of children see Nowack, Heb. Arch., I. p. 172; Schiirer, 
Gesch. (= Hist, of the Jeiv. People, II., 2, $ 27), and the literature therein named, 

IV. 3-6 8; 

of the next verse, though it is an objection to this construction 
that the resultant couplet does not present a satisfactory parallel 
ism we expect a whole couplet devoted to wisdom, preparatory 
to v. 1 . No arrangement of the lines, however, is entirely free 
from objections. And lire ~ that thoit maycst (l>\ than) lire, 
that is, " that they may secure the happiness of a long earthly 
life ; " for the idea see 3-. 5. The present II el), text reads : get 
wisdom, get understanding, forget not, and turn not awav from 
the words of my mouth. If the wording be genuine, the iteration 
expresses the earnestness of the sage, who identifies his instruc 
tions with wisdom. But the present form is hardly original. The 
second line (and turn, etc.) belongs naturally with v. 4 ; and the 
expression forget not should properly follow not get wisdom, etc., 
but keep my commandments. The former phrase is omitted in the 
Grk., which reads : keep commandments, forget not, and neglect 
not the discourse of my mouth ; this is in itself clear, but it makes 
the teacher s discourse the antecedent of v. ; (forsake it not}, 
whereas the tone of v. ! 8 almost forces us to regard wisdom as 
their subject. It is, therefore, better to omit the second clause 
(and turn, etc.) as a gloss on v. 41 % and also the forget not, and 
retain the rest as an introduction to v. ; . Other proposed con 
structions are : forget not to acquire wisdom, and swerve not from 
the words of her mouth (Graetz), which has the advantage of offer 
ing only one subject (as in v. 1 ), but is open to the objection that 
Wisdom s " mouth " is nowhere else mentioned ; Oort also would 
omit get understanding (as gloss on get wisdom), and add to 
forget not some such expression as my law (as in 3 ), but thinks 
that the whole verse is probably a scribal insertion ; get wisdom, 
get understanding, forget not {the instruction of my lips ], and 
siuerve not, etc. (Bickell). While the general sense is plain, the 
original form can hardly be recovered. It seems probable that in 
v/ the writer passes from reference to his own " instruction " to 
the praise of" wisdom." If the Grk. reading of v. 1 be adopted 
(see above), we must probably suppose a break at the end of v.", 
the following paragraph (v. ; s ) having lost a couplet in which 
wisdom was introduced. 6. Synonymous, binary. In the Heb. 
the subject of the discourse is wisdom or understanding which 
preserves its followers, as in 2" ; in the Vat. Grk. the subject is 


the utterance or instruction of the sage, the function of which is 
the same as in ^ ~ ; the essential thought is the same in both. 
The verb love, used in the ethical sense, with man as subject, here 
has the abstract wisdom as object (in i" its opposite, ignorance} ; 
in the Prophetical books (Am. 5 15 Mic. 3 - a/.) the object is gen 
erally right conduct, in the legal books (Dt. 6 5 Lev. 19 at.) 
Yahweh and man, in i// (a6 8 119" al.} Zion and the Tora. 1 he 
sing, her appears to point to one antecedent in v/ , whereas Heb. 
there has two terms. 7. The text is corrupt, and the verse 
should probably be omitted. The Heb. reads : the beginning of 
wisdom get wisdom, and in all thy substance get understanding, 
or buy wisdom, and, with all that thou hast gotten, buy, etc., that 
is, buy wisdom at the price of all thy property, cf. 23 Mt. i3 4 JG , 
or, along with all, etc. (AV. with all thy getting is incorrect). 
The rendering wisdom is the principal thing (RV. Zockler, in 
Lange) is here out of the question; the word (nTiO), in the 
sense of best, chief, principal, never occurs undefined (only twice 
in OT. undefined, Isa. 46 and the doubtful Gen. i 1 , both times 
in the sense of beginning], and here we obviously have the familiar 
expression the beginning of wisdom. This expression cannot be 
brought into intelligible connection with the rest of the verse. 
The statement the beginning of wisdom is " get wisdom," if syn 
tactically possible (which is doubtful), involves an intolerable tau 
tology, and the same objection holds to the rendering (obtained 
by changing Impv. to Inf.) . . . to get wisdom. Bickell, to avoid 
the tautology, reads the beginning (or, chief} of thy wealth is, 
etc., which is out of keeping with the tone of the paragraph, is 
without Versional support, and is an unnatural form of expression. 
-The resemblance between v. 7 and v. 5a is obvious ; the former is 
expansion of the latter, or both are corruptions of the same orig 
inal. In any case v." interrupts the connection between v. fi and 
v. 8 , and is probably a gloss. Possibly the expressions get wisdom 
and get understanding, written in the margin as a summary of v. 4 " , 
got into v. 5 , and then in expanded form were inserted as v." ; this, 
if it happened, must have happened after the Vat. Grk. Vrs. was 
made the omission of such passages by the Grk. translator is 
not probable. See note on v/ . 8. Synonymous, binary. The 
meaning of the first vb. is not quite certain. It may signify cast 

IV. 6-9 SQ 

///> <?// embankment against a thing, or (Grk.) around a thing, 
so as to protect it; or, make a rampart of a tiling (fagcr), 
surround one s self with a thing as a protection ; or cant up as a 
highway (cf. 15 Isa. 57"), and so make plane and firm ; or, per 
haps, simply raise up, exalt, esteem higlily, prize (cf. the similar 
form in Kx. 9 17 ). This last agrees with the parallel embrace, and 
is adopted by most expositors. Syr. Targ. have freely lore her; 
Lat. Rashi : lay hold of lie r ; Saad. : give thyself up to her. A pro 
posed emendation is : despise her not (Frankenberg), which gives 
a good sense but not a perfect parallelism. 9. Synonymous, ter 
nary. Lit. gire to tliy head a cJiaplet. Beauty (or, grace) and 
glory are physically descriptive terms the sense is beautiful 
ehaplet and glorious (or, splendid) cnmni ; cf. r BS. G -" ^ 1 25* . 
The expression may be suggested by a custom of wearing chaplets 
and crowns at feasts, or on other joyful occasions, as weddings ; 
cf. Ez. iC 1 - 23 - Isa. 28 Job 19 BS. 32 - ; how far such a custom 
existed among the earlier Hebrews the OT. does not inform us, 
but it may easily have been borrowed at a later time.* 

1. S takes r"i as subst., and connects it by 1 with nra. 2. It) rip 1 -; 
(P Suipov, 1L don it m. It) \--nr; II-I 68. 161. 248 Cump. Aid. rbv e<xoi> \6yov, 
which hardly represents a different Ileb. text from ours not necessarily 
Christian correction (Lag.), more probably rhetorical variation. 3. (5 virriKoos 
may be rendering of |t) -p taken as = soft, sul/iissire; I .at;, holds it to be 
rendering of ~\^ poor (Lev. 2 :,- "< ); Ileid. of -p oppressed (26- s ^ IO 1 " 1 al.), 
neither of which terms is here appropriate, or likely to be rendered by vwriKoos. 
The connection in |t) rc(]uires a descriptive term between ;z and -js-; -n 
might be trans])osed so as to stand before - 1 or before .->-, but the signifi 
cation would still make difficulty unless it could be understood as .= -.felted 
(vT ^ :: .), ]iarallcl to /w crr</ in . Rea<l -^s -j^" -I->M T> v~-n p T. The 
Kdyw of (5 is probably inserted to bring out the proper emphasis. 11) ---; 
read -VT; (5 here has dya.Trufj.fvo s; ITT is rendered by d")a7r7;Tos (len. 22- - ll! 
((? I! docs not contain these passages) Am. S 1 [er. 6- Xech. 12 , by fj.ovo~/vr]S 
Ju. II 11 ((P A adds dya-mr/Tr/) / 22- 1 25 1 35 ", and by ^ovorpdirov; -y 6S ; ; i - 1 - is 
always rendered by some lorm of dya-ir.; we cannot, therefore, determine It) 
Iroin (?: but in any case IT, must here mean only child, and this in the 
connection is inappropriate. ( )n the MS. reading ;:: instead of :: sec- 
he Rossi s note. 4. In :1 the vbs. might be read as sing., as in It), or phi., 
as in (P. V.peidfTw may represent It) T.: taken as Nil", (see Concord, of 


Grk.),or perh. "JED 1 (De.). 6 rj^repos \6yos, = im-<, hardly original, proba 
bly rhetorical interpretation of Grk. translator. f# ,-P,T, lacking in (S B (S n 
ast., retained by Proc.); the clause was perhaps introduced from 7 2 , where it 
is natural (S> adds 7 2b at end of v.) ; according to Lag. mm comes from the 
half-obliterated nsDn of a gloss (see note on next verse). After iS 2T inserts 
mrp, so as to express divine authority for the teaching, or it = ", erroneous 
repetition of the two > in -pro ^ (Pink.). 5. $% nra njp ncrin njp, lacking 
in (@ u (& 11 ast.) ; Gr. reads n nup as obj. of nyyn Sx, and omits 3 -p as gloss, 
but p as obj. of n does not occur elsewhere and is not a natural construction. 
The whole expression (together with mm) interrupts the connection between 
OISD (v. 4 ) and n Ss, and if v/ b be retained must be regarded as a gloss; 
it may be retained if v. 5b be thrown out; see note on v. 7 . 7. Lacking in (g B 
(S 11 ast.) ; it interrupts the connection between v. 6 and v. 8 , is syntactically 
and lexicographically difficult, and must be regarded as scribal insertion. 
Lag. s explanation of v. 7 and v. t5a is as follows : v. 7 , in distichal form, stood 
in the margin of some Heb. MS., and was incorporated into the text in two 
places by two different scribes; one inserted it after v. 6 , writing naun for an 
illegible word which followed PTNT (the word should be a synonym of fjp, 
and Bi. writes STI) ; the other found "\ and -jrjp Saai illegible, and omitted 
them, made mm out of the first n, and attached the resulting sentence to v. 4 . 
This ingenious and complicated reconstruction still leaves an unsatisfactory 
couplet the best of wealth is get wisdom and, etc. As n -\ cannot be brought 
into syntactical relation with the rest of the sentence, it may be better to 
regard it as a fragment of a distich similar to i", and to take the rest of the 
verse as a fragment of another distich similar to 23 23 , though it is hard to say 
how the text assumed its present shape. 8. $% SD^D; <@ (and so j n ) irepi- 
XapaKua-ov; >& a on; 21 arripe. The vb. may be clenom. from nSSb or 
n 7DO; but, as from these nouns it may be inferred that the st. = lift up (so 
here Aben Ez. Qamhi), it may here be rendered, in general accord with the 
rest of the v., prize. For other renderings see Schultens note. Frank, pro 
poses to emend to mSon SN, from Aram. nSo, = Heb. na, on which see note 
on this v. above. In b (5, not so well, takes naa as Impv. with 3 sing. fern, 
suff., attaches 2 sing. suff. to HP, and connects by tva (|^ ^3). J5IE reverse 
the positions of the vbs. 9. miS occurs only twice in OT., here and I 9 ; the 
stem in Heb. and Aram. = be attached to, accompany, in Arab, and Eth. twist, 
wind (so perh. also in Heb. imS), which is the meaning in mi\ Gr. (as in 
I 9 ) reads nS^r. 1 IJJS.-i; (5 ^irfpaa-rriarr), but stem JJD ( = give, give tip 
Gen. 142 Hos. II 8 ) is not connected with pa shield, which appears to come 
from jj enclose, protect. Gr. proposes ij> n bind (see 6 21 ) which is hardly 
better than |. 

10-19. A separate discourse, consisting of exhortation to obey 
the sage s instruction (v. 1(M:! ), and to avoid the way of the 
wicked in view of their character (v. 14 " 17 ), with a description 

IV. io- 1 1 91 

of the paths of the righteous and the wicked (v. ls "). The 
order of verses in the second half is unsatisfactory, and is variously 
changed by commentators. Hitzig omits v." ; 17 as interpolation, 
inverts the order of v. K , and before the latter inserts Jor ; 
Delitzsch, Nowack, Strack, (Iraetz simply invert the order of 
v." 1:I ; Bickell })laces v." ; " after v. 18 - 19 . The inversion of the 
order of v. ls - iy seems to be all that is needed to secure a natural 

10. Hear, my son, and receive my words, 
And the years of thy life will he many. 

11. In the way of wisdom I instruct thee, 
Lead thee in the paths of uprightness. 

12. When thou walkest, thy steps will he unimpeded, 
And if thou run, thou wilt not stumble. 

13. Hold fast . my > instruction let it not go 
Keep it, for it is thy life. 

14. Knter not the path of the wicked, 
Walk not in the way of had men; 

15. Avoid it, traverse it not, 
Shun it, and pass on. 

16. For they sleep not unless they have done harm, 

Nor slumber unless they have made some one stumble; 

17. They eat the bread of wickedness, 
And drink the wine of violence. 

19. The way of the wicked is like darkness 
They know not at what they stumble. 

18. But the path of the righteous is like the light of the dawn 
Which shines ever brighter till the full day comes. 

10. Protasis and apodosis, ternary, or quaternary. Lagarde (by 
a slight change of text) reads : hear, my son, the instruction of my 
words, etc., but elsewhere instruction is ascribed not to words, but 
to a person, and the verb receive is favored by 2 . The form of 
address is similar to that of v. 1 ; on sing, son, instead of phi. sons, 
see note on that verse. The reward long life as in y " 
is again the sage that is the source of instruction. 11. Synony 
mous, ternary. The sage (as in v. J ) characterizes his instruction. 
Not (RV.) have taught (or, instructed} and have led ; the refer 
ence is to the present instruction. \Visdom is here parallel to 


uprightness, practical moral goodness. There is no mention of a 
divine law ; this, no doubt, is taken for granted, but the teacher s 
present interest is the practical guidance of life. 12. Synony 
mous, ternary-binary, or ternary. The inducement. For the ex 
pression of first cl. cf. Job 1 8 7 ; lit. thy step will not be straitened. 
The life of a good man is likened to a journey on a well-made 
road there will be no narrow and difficult ways, nor any stones 
or other occasions of stumbling, even when one runs ; cf. 3 23 . 
13. Synonymous, ternary. Repetition of exhortation. The my in 
struction (after the Grk. the Heb. has simply instruction} is in 
accordance with v." 1 - 11 , in which the teacher offers his own words 
for the guidance of the pupil. The it is fern, in the Heb., though 
the word for instruction is masc. ; the writer in thought identifies 
the latter with wisdom; cf. 2 -- 3 - -~. Life is to be understood 
as in v. 10 ; it includes not only length of days, but also all else 
that is desirable ; while the reference is not primarily or chiefly to 
the inner life, this is probably involved in the writer s scheme 
moral enlightenment, he means to say, is the essence of life (cf. 
Eccl. i2 13 ), and is to be resolutely grasped and held. Grk. : keep 
it for thy life, the same idea as in the Hebrew. 

14-17. Warning against association with bad men on the 
ground of their moral character. 14, 15. Synonymous ; v. 11 is 
ternary, v. 15 is binary (curt, sharp injunction). Warning. Emphatic 
iteration. In v. ub the sense is not even if thou enter, continue not 
to walk therein. On walk see critical note. 16, 17. Synony 
mous ; v. 16 is quaternary, v. 17 ternary. Characterization of the 
manner of life of the wicked. Hyperbolical expression of their 
life as one of violence (legal and illegal unkindness, oppression, 
robbery, murder). The type of character portrayed is an ex 
treme one, reckless violence ; no account is taken of those whom 
moral evil has only slightly touched. The writer may have in 
mind the foreign and native oppressors of the Jews in the fourth 
and third centuries B.C., as in i// 14. 53. 64. 74, etc. ; more proba 
bly he is thinking of a class of men that was numerous in the 
great cities of that period, unscrupulous government agents, reve 
nue farmers, grasping and desperate men of all sorts, some of 
whom are described by Josephus. The conditions of the society 


of the time were favorable to violence and oppression, and it is on 
these conditions that the writer bases his description, which must 
thus be taken as a local picture of life. His division of men is 
simple : they are wholly good, or wholly bad, or ignorant and 
stupid ; he does not recogni/.e the nicer and more complicated 
experiences of the soul. There is a certain justification for this 
general point of view : evil, it may be said, whatever its degree. 
is always evil, and therefore to be avoided ; dallying with trans 
gression of assured moral rules is dangerous. This is the sharply 
defined, objective old-Hebrew view, which stands in contrast with 
the modern disposition to distinguish and divide, to recogni/e 
good and evil in all things. The defining terms wickedness and 
violence (v. 17 ) may express substance or origin; the meaning may 
be that these are the food and drink of the wicked (cf. fob i5 li; 
34 ), or that the latter procure the necessaries and goods of life 
by these means (cf. 9 17 ), and both these senses are permitted by 
the general connection and by the parallelism of v." ; the first 
interpretation is favored by Procopius, Schultens, Umbreit a/., the 
second by C. 13. Michaelis, l)e., Zockler, Strack, Nowack. The 
general sense is not affected by this difference of interpretation ; 
the first sense appears to suit the context better. The last word of 
v. 1 " cause (some one} to stumble presents a difficulty : the object is 
not expressed! in the Heb. (the form in the text is intrans., the 
trans, form is given in the margin), and the Syr. has //// thcv c/o 
/heir desire ; the Heb. may be corrupt, but no satisfactory emenda 
tion is obvious. Hitzig omits v. 1 1 17 on the ground that they have 
no logical connection with v. l \ but the relation between the verses 
seems clear. 

18, 19. Contrasted fortunes of wicked and righteous, pre 
sented as a motive for living righteously. As v. 1 1 connects itself 
by the sense with v. 7 , and the initial ami (/ ///) of v. ls more natu 
rally indicates a contrast with v. 1 , it is better to transpose the two 
verses. 19. Progressive, ternary. The characteri/ation of the 
life of bad men as uncertain and perilous follows fitly on the pre 
ceding description of their moral character. The figure is that of 
a man stumbling on in darkness so the wicked is exposed to 
perils of fortune. These pertain not to his inward moral and 


religious experiences, but to his outward fate ; the reference, as 
the context shows, is not to the darkening of the intellect and the 
hardening of the conscience by sin, but to outward uncertainty 
and misfortunes, such as sudden death and the loss of worldly 
goods (cf. i ia32 2" etc.). Instead of as darkness some Heb. 
MSS. have in darkness, and the ancient Vrss. dark; our text is 
favored by the as of v. 18 . The noun, used only in poetry and 
solemn prose, means deep darkness and gloom ; so in Ex. io- 2 
Dt. 2S 29 Joel 2- etc., and cf. the similar term in Job 3" io 22 // gi 6 . 
18. Comparison, quaternary. From the connection the refer 
ence is not to the glory of the righteous life, but to its security. 
The good man walks in safety his path is clear, and not beset 
with dangers ; the explanation is given in 3 1 26 . It is happiness 
and security from outward evils in this life that is meant. Such a 
conception of the perfect well-being of the righteous may have 
paved the way for the later doctrine of immortality, though this 
doctrine is not hinted at in Proverbs. The rendering dawn is 
not certain. Grk., taking the word as verb : the ways of the 
righteous shine like light grammatically good, but not favored 
by the form of v. 19 , in which the standard of comparison is a noun 
(darkness} . The rendering of the Lat. Vulg. (and so Syr. Targ. 
RV.), shining light (obtained by a change of vowels), is not 
probable, as this expression (light defined by its brightness) does 
not occur elsewhere. The term brightness is used in a general 
way (Ez. i 4 Isa. 62 1 ), and with reference to the light of fire 
(Isa. 4 :> ), of the moon (Isa. 6o !1) ), the stars (Joel 2 10 ), the sun 
(Am. 5- Isa. 6o 3 Hab. 3 4 2 Sam. 23 4 ) ; here, as in Isa. 6o 3 , it 
seems to be the light that precedes the full day. The last expres 
sion in the v., lit. //// the day is established (or, certain), probably 
means the coming of full day in contrast with early light or dawn 
(see critical note). Many expositors, however (Rashi, Schult., 
Fleisch., De., Reuss, al.} understand it to signify noon, when the 
day reaches its height, or (De.) when the sun appears to stand 
still in the zenith, or (Fleisch.), in a figure taken from scales, 
when the tongue of day is vertical. The perfect day of the Lat. 
(adopted by RV.) lends itself to either interpretation, and is per 
haps preferable for that reason. Evvald, who takes the reference 
to be to the forenoon sun, thinks that the figure is derived from 

iv. 19, is 95 

Ju. 5 ;I (the rising sun dispersing darkness). However the doubt 
ful terms be rendered, the general sense is plain : the God- fearing 
man walks in a light (divine guidance) which, so far from growing 
less, continually increases, and shields him from all harm. 

10. Instead of 1i) npi the noun np L is read by Lag., who objects to the 
obj. after two Imps.; ;;;:, he thinks, cannot well be taken as isolated exhorta 
tion, anil elsewhere in this series of paragraphs (4 - J> 5 ) the initial vb. of hear 
ing or heeding is followed by its own noun (some word signifying utterance or 
teaching). On the other hand, see note above on this word; (S = fl). In (5 
has two renderings, one = ^i), while in the other rims or u-n stands instead 
of rur, or (Ileid.) less probably, m 1 ?^:: ( lL "jr?), which does not occur else 
where in I r. The second rendering, as freer, is prob. original (Jag., Lag.), 
only 65<x, which is unnatural, seems to be scribal error, through incorrect hear 
ing of the copyist (itaeism), or through 65ot)s in next v., or through corruption 
of the Heb. tC *)", error for S T. 11. The vbs. are Pres. I erfs. |i) -pi; 
(5 65oi)s (and so S2T), which agrees with plu. in h , and may be rhetorical 
assimilation, or original Ileb. reading. 12. fl) >;: , poetic and elevated term 
for step, walk; plu., by natural usage of language, in (SS lL and RV. 
J5 jyiTj shaken, free rendering of fij ns\ 13. Read ^Di", with <5 tfJ-TJs 
TrcuSe/as, as the connection requires. In b (!5 has free rendering of ft). 
14. |i) -C vvn (st. as in i^", and Aral). ^D); the Pi. occurs elsewhere only in 
caus. sense = lead, or call happy, and, as the connection (parallel JOT) here 
suggests the meaning go forward, urn Ik, it is better to point as Qal, as in 9*"; 
Lag. writes iirr (for -n^xr), which perh. gives an easier rhythm. The Vrss. 
translate by regard as fortunate {desirable}, be pleased with, enrv, (5 77X0x7775, 
A6 /j.a.Kapt<rr]s, Jc>iC r- >r , 3L tibi placeat (and in a IL, by assimilation, has 
delecteris}. 15. %] inyis is sustained by parallel n-jf; (3 (foil, by jj>) ti> 
oj CLV r67ry vTpa.Toirf5evcrucnv, jierh. = n"il (Jiig.) or i^vii (Lag.), or m"T2 
(Oort) their pasture-ground or ca:p, though the word occurs in OT. only of 
flocks; Ileid. suggests the improbable 1 L D district (only Xeh. 5 " irepl- 
Xwpos) ; Schult., after the Arab., disturba scriem f;ns,"givc ii]i association 
with them; " & L *x K->-\N (Huxt. sriN 3ir. ""-"vV), heed not, pass orer, without 
suff., and following suffs. in ]ilu. rcr is perhaps Aramaism. 16. |i) K 
i s v:-; , O better ! SV J-D (so 2T), though without obj. expressed (see Lw., 303 c} ; 
(5 KOifj.uvTai (writing i instead of DS) = 1JD" M (Schleusn., Lag.) or 123;* 
(Oort), less prob. ij; 1 (Ileid.); 5> pnj^as }^2y do their li ill, not = 1 L "U 2 1 
cook, mature (Umbr.) or I"". " get control of (Ileid.), but free rendering or 
interpretation of \\ = do harm, work their wicked will on (JC work fall or 
destruction}. Oort proposes to read ir - n;" i/eslrov, of which, he suggests, the 
ir"" of v. 17 may be mutilation. I!i. regards |1) as scribal erroneous copy of 
last word of v. 1 1 (which v. he puts immediately before v. 1 ), and reads ir^" 
murmur, speak blasphemously, which (?, he holds, took wrongly in its other 
sense of lodge. These readings offer no advantage over 31). 17. 11) : - Dtn; 


Trapav6/ju i > = |t? JQ ir^; (5 fJ-fffuffKovrai rw or nor, which Oort 
thinks may he the true reading of ft?, the ns" heing then corruption of wn;" 
(see n. on v. 1G ). &< their bread (ssn 1 ?) w //^ /;. of wickedness (3T of the 
wicked}, which is not favored by h . 19. |i? ^Q^p; 15 MSS. and Bibl. Brix. 
have 3 instead of r, and so (SS2T1L have adjs. = dark, a reading which agrees 
well with b , giving explicitly the reason why the wicked stumble their way is 
in darkness ; on the other hand It) is favored by the 3 of v. 18 the way is dan 
gerous, like darkness. Instead of ihyy HD3 Bi. (on what ground he does not 
state) reads iSs ooa \_they do not perceive or take note of] its stumbling-blocks, 
which does not appear to be rhythmically or otherwise better than $). 18. ( 
takes njj, i^in and TX as preds. of mx (which it reads as plu., 65oi) ; this is 
hardly possible so far as regards the two last, which naturally refer to the noun 
TIN; the first may be understood as Partcp. agreeing with TIN (so SOL and 
RV.) or, less probably, with nix (in which case it must be fern. so perh. 
(5), or as vb. (Oort) referring to ms (so perh. <@), or as subst. defining -IIN. 
In this last case it must mean dawn, early light, and this rendering is favored 
by the fact that it offers a contrast to the full day of b . The pointing as 
Partcp. agreeing with TIN, while grammatically good, is rhetorically not proba 
ble; light is said to shine (Isa. g 2 * 1 Job i8 5 22 28 ), and the moon is said 
(Isa. I3 10 ) to cause its light to shine, but light is not elsewhere described as a 
shining thing; if the epithet were employed, the expression would naturally 
be defined by the name of the luminary or source of light, nu does not else 
where in OT. certainly occur in the sense of dawn (possibly in Isa. 62 1 , cf. 
2 Sam. 23*) ; but cf. & Nnji: BS 50, where (5 has avrrip eu9iv6s and ?L Stella 
matutina. it) foi, an impossible pointing, since the word is not a subst.; 
point j)3j, Perf. Nif. The OT. meaning of the word is simply fixed, firm, 
which may here refer either to full day or to noon; on the expressions rb 
ffradepbv TTJS Tj^pas, 77 ffraOepa fj.ea"rifJL^pia., Arab, ixn^s r^Nf, = noon, see 
Schult., Ges. ( Thes.) Fleisch., De., and cf. Lucan, Phars., ix. 528, 529. 

20-27. A paragraph similar to the three preceding, containing 
injunctions to give heed to the teacher s instructions (v.-" 23 ) 
and to practise rectitude (v. 24 ~- 7 ). 

20. My son, attend to my words, 

To my instructions lend thine ear. 

21. Let them not depart from thec, 
Keep them in mind. 

22. For they are life to those who find them, 
Health to their whole being. 

23. With all vigilance guard thou thyself, 
For thus wilt thou gain life. 

24. Banish from thee wickedness of mouth, 
Sinfulness of lips put far from thee. 

IV. 20-2.5 97 

25. I .ft thine ryes look straight forward. 
Thy jja/e he directed straight before tliee. 

26. [.el the path of thy feel he smooth, 
Let all thy roads he linn. 

27. Turn not to ri^ht nor to left, 
Keep thy feet away from evil. 

20,21. The exhortation. 20. Synonymous, ternary, Instruc 
tions and lend are lit. sayings (or, words} and ////// (or, incline}. 
See notes on 3- 4 - " . 21. Synonymous, binary-ternary. Lit.: 
Let the in not depart from thine eves, keep them in th\ mind (lit. 
heart, the inward being), = keep them in mind. On depart see 
note on 3- . Syr. and Targ. have the improbable reading let them 
not be despicable in thine eves. 22, 23. Ground of the exhorta 
tion. 22. Synonymous, ternary (or, binary). The grammatical 
number is uncertain. We may read : for they are /iff: to those 
who find them and health (or, healing) to all their being (\\t. flesh}, 
or ... to him who finds . . . all his. Life, as in 2- 3" " 4 1;; , = 
long life or preservation of life, which comprehends all outward 
earthly blessing. The synonym health (or, healing}, involves de 
liverance from the evils of life ; cf. 3*. Flesh stands for body, and 
so = being; cf. bones and (in the corrected text) body in 3*. The 
terms flesh, heart, soul often = self. The Gk. here has all flesh, 
= all men, as in (Jen. 6 12 , etc. 23. Single sentence, ternary. 
Vigilance as source of life and happiness. The Ileb. in first line 
reads: more than all guarding ( "with more vigilant guarding 
than in any other case ") watch thou over th\ heart, = " watch thy 
heart (or, thyself) more than anything else " ; the same general 
sense is given by the rendering : above all that thou guardest, etc. 
(Do., RV. marg.), but this signification ( <; the thing guarded") 
the word has not elsewhere in OT. In this interpretation the 
object of the comparison (between the heart or self and other 
things) is not clear, and is not found elsewhere in Proverbs. A 
better sense is given by the Creek reading: with all watching 
guard etc., that is, in every way, with all possible vigilance and 
diligence (so AV., RV.). The second line is lit.: for from it 
are the outgoings of life, that is, the beginning or origin (usually 
the " border " or " boundary." F./. 48"", once, apparently, " escape," 
i// 6S 2 " 2 "). The // may grammatically refer to heart, but Prov. 



everywhere else (as in f 7 - 8 21 - " 4 4 " ! w 6 s3 8 M ) represents //# as 
the result of acceptance of wisdom and obedience to instruction ; 
we should probably, therefore, take the // to refer to the " guard 
ing " of first line: "therefrom (= from thy diligent obedience) 
proceeds life." * The word heart is to be understood as = self, 
and not as indicating a contrast between inward and outward life ; 
such a contrast is not found in Prov. the outward life is treated 
as the expression of the inward self. Life = prosperity. The 
sense of the couplet is : with utmost care guard thyself from sin 
thus wilt thou be happy. The use of heart as = intellectual 
being does not rest on a belief that the heart is the centre of the 
physical life. The blood was held, by common observation, to be 
the life (Dt. i2 2;! ), but the function of the heart in the circulation 
of the blood was unknown to the Hebrews, and, whatever impor 
tance they may have attached to this physical organ as prominent 
in the cavity of the body, no less importance was attached to 
other organs, as the bowels and the kidneys (and perhaps the 
liver, but not the brain). The ground of their assignment of par 
ticular mental functions to various physical organs is not known to 
us . 24, 25. Against wicked speech. 24. Synonymous, quater 
nary. Wickedness and sin/illness (RV. froward and perverse} 
mean departure (turning aside) from truth and right, contrariness 
to good ; cf. notes on 2 15 f 1 . The man s utterance is understood 
to express and be identical with his thought and purpose ; so that 
the precept is equivalent to "think no evil." There is perhaps 
also the implication that evil thought, when embodied in words, 
acquires greater consistency, and goes on its bad mission beyond 
the thinker s control. 25. Synonymous, ternary. Uprightness 
of conduct symbolized by straightforwardness of look, in contrast 
with the devious and crooked ways of wickedness (v. 24 ). The 
serious man fixes his gaze on the goal and suffers nothing to turn 
it aside. The rendering in first line : look to the right (= right 
eousness} (Frank.) is unnecessary, and is not in keeping with the 
figurative form of second line and v. 2G 2r . 26, 27. The path of 
rectitude. 26. Synonymous, ternary-binary (or, perhaps, ter 
nary). That is, "make thee a plane, solid road in life." The 

* This seems to be the interpretation of Saadia and Rashi. 

figure is taken from the preparation of a highway for a king or an 
army (Isa. 40" ) hills are cut down and valleys filled, crooked 
roads are made straight and rough places smooth, so that there 
shall be no need to turn aside from the highroad. Kven so a man 
must arrange his path in life, walking in the straight and smooth 
w.iy of rectitude. The word make level occurs in 5 - Isa. 2(> , 
i// 78""; the sense weigh, ponder (denom. from scales, ^ 5S J|:;j ) is 
not here appropriate. The second verb is equivalent to the first, 
meaning put in good condition of stability and security, not mark 
off, lay out, though these terms, like ordered and RV. established, 
involve the same general idea ; like the first it has the general 
sense of preparedness (Kx. i 9 u <// 7"). (Irk.: make straight 
paths for thy feet (so freely Heb. i2 1:! ) and make th\ wa\s 
straight, which agrees in sense with the Heb., though it is not 
verbally accurate ; evil is crookedness (v.- 1 ) and good is straight- 
ness. The plane and solid way in life is to be secured (v.----) 
by accepting the instruction of the sage, that is, of Wisdom. 
27. Synonymous, ternary. The straight way. Duty consists in 
walking unswervingly in the path so prepared (v. a! ) to swerve, 
the second cl. explains, is to fall into eril, physical and moral. 
Grk. appends the quatrain : For the ways of the right hand God 
knoweth, but distorted are those of the left. And he himself will 
make straight thy paths, and guide thy goings in peace. The con 
ception here differs from that of v. 20 - 27 in two points (Hit/.): 
right and left, instead of representing both of them divergencies 
from the straight path of rectitude, express the one the good way 
and the other the bad, and the ways are made straight not by the 
man but by God. The insertion (which is the expansion, by 
the addition of the second and fourth lines, of a modified form 
of 5- ) was made by some one who felt that the fact of divine 
supervision ought to be strongly brought out. Lagarde thinks 
that it does not go back to a Semitic original, but is the work of 
a Greek-speaking Christian of the primitive period : he refers to 
the numerous dissertations on the two ways in life.* On the 
other hand, l)e. shows that it can be naturally expressed in He 
brew. It is hardly possible to determine whether it is due to a 

* Halo 


Jew or to a Christian, but in any case it bears witness to the free 
dom, in dealing with the text, which copyists or editors allowed 
themselves. Hitzig regards the Heb. v.- 7 as a superfluous scribal 
amplification ; however, it adds something to the thought of v. 26 , 
is not out of keeping with the tone and manner of the section, 
and is found in all Ancient Versions. 

21. ft? v^ Hi., only here; we should perh. read Qal (as in 3 21 ), so Bi. 
SITUS M i K \tiruffiv ere, perh. reading iSr, from *?u; cf. note on 3 21 . For 
ft? Tr ? ASS have at ir^af ffov (=^^5:=) and (S 23 - : J7 oi IT. TT)S 
fwijs ffov (- 95 omits er<w) ; Lag. regards the latter (which Procop. also has) 
as the original; but as the reading of ABS% has no meaning, the words 
r. f. <r. may have been added by a Grk. scribe to make sense. Nor is there 
probability in Lag. s view that the fed ravrbt (= rj? Saa) of 2 -"- - w (inserted 
after paS) belongs to the Heb. original; cf. 6 21 . Held, suspects in pro 
vision against a possible Pharisaic interpretation of the cl. as a reference to 
the frontlets of Dt. 68 . -jrya (Lag. 7=) rSpj, from ^r, as in 3", on 
which see note. 22- As the surfs, in arPNXb and infra are inconcinnate, one 
of them must be changed; the sing, i cannot be retained as individualizing; 
& write the first as sing; here has plu., but in b B x * 3L omit stiff, 
(giving an improbable reading), avrov is added in s c - a - A 23, 254 S H and 
avTCiv in 109, 157, 252, 297; these all go back to ft?, and show that its form is 

ear ly. The iraffi of 1G1 al - before rots evplfficovffiv may be a part of the Grk. 

original, but does not call for the insertion of Sj in $. The avrriv in a seems 
to have p^is (v. 20 ) in view. 23. f^ -issrn S;s; the prep, is p in (E and A6 
(d7r6 Travrbs ^uXrf/x^aTos), 3 in and apparently in (Trdo-r? ^uXa/cfj), and 
1L (omni custodia}; the latter is adopted by Oort, Bi., Frank., RV., and 
seems preferable; D means properly the act of watching, hardly the thing 
watcAett ttie two interpretations give the same general sense. The TO<UTUV 
of in b appears to refer to the X67ots of v. 20 (so Procop. understands it) ; 
the pronouns in the section are strangely varied in . 24. The Vrss. except 
, render by various adjs. the substs. which in |ij are denned by no and 
O T\OV (so RV.) Si NP 2? deep, representing $ mrpr, is apparently miswrit- 
ing of tow ( Knip y) ; cf. S 22 r . On S see Ew., 165 ^, Stade, 304*, 
Preuschen, in ZAT., 1895, and De. s note; the regular form of stat. const. 
(from nS) would be ^ this seems to be poetic variation, unless it be from 
an otherwise unknown st. ruS like mac-, mair from r\yy. The forms in ni 
appear to be Aramaisms. 25. Both terms of direction roj 1 ? anil -juj are 
improperly understood by in an ethical sense, 6/>0A and 8lKaia (and so ." 
Procop.), and the first by S3T3L (not by A9S); cf. ^ I 7 3 . 26. ft?" is para 
phrased by SE keep thy feet (lit. ;w&? t. f. pass by} from evil ways (as in 
v. 27 ). 3L dirige for oSo. |Q S 3 is omitted by (in reversal of its custom, 
which is to insert a ^3 in such statements), except H-P 296 (correction after 
|ij). i::< is taken as active by AS6. For variations of patrist. writers see 

IV, 27-V. 2 101 

IF-P. 27. II) >"*"; (5 a-TTO 65ov KO.KTJS, as in 2 --. On the added quatrain 
in (5 see note above. 

V. A discourse against sexual licentiousness in men. After 
the usual introductory exhortation to give heed to instruction 
(v. 1 --), the deadly influence of the harlot is described (v. : " ; ), the 
pupil is cautioned to avoid her lest loss of wealth and destruction 
come on him (v. 7 " 14 ), and is urged to conjugal fidelity (v. r - J "), the 
motive presented being the fate of the wicked (v.~ -").* Cf. 
JJS. 2 3 17 -- ; 4 2 ;M4 . 


1. My son, give heed to [] wisdom,! 
To [J understanding t lend thine ear, 

2. That discretion may watch iover thee, 
That knowledge [] may preserve thee, 
[To save thee from the harlot, 

The woman of enticing words.] 

3. For the lips of the harlot drop honey, 
Her words are smoother than oil; 

4. I5ut at the last she is hitter as wormwood. 
Sharp as a two-edged sword. 

5. Her feet go down to Death, 
Her steps lead down to Sheol; 

6. No well-built highway of life she walks, 
Uncertain her paths and not < firm.- 

1.2. The general exhortation. 1. Synonymous, ternary. The 
Heb. (in this followed by all Anc. Vrss.) has the poss. prons. my 
wisdom and m\ understanding ; but the sage, while he speaks of 
his own words, commandments, law, instruction, never elsewhere 
claims wisdom (= understanding, knowledge, insight, or discretion ) 
as his own, but represents it as the goal to which his instruction 
leads ; see 2 " :M1 3 - 4 - " - " ; for the meanings of the terms see 
note on r~ . 2. The text is in disorder, and can be only con- 
jecturally restored ; and the ronnection between v." and v. ; i^ not 
expressed. The Heb. (followed substantially by all Vrss. except 


Grk.) reads to present [ that tlwu may est preserve] discretion 
[= sagacity, insight], ami that thy lips may keep knowledge. But 
the reference to the lips of the pupil, proper in 4 <J4 , is out of place 
here; lips utter, but do not keep; we should rather expect thy 
mind (heart}, as in 3 l 4 4 , or simply keep thou, as in 4 1:i f, if the 
point is the inward acceptance of wisdom or instruction. The 
mention of the lips of a strange woman, in v. 3 , might suggest, as 
contrast, my lips ; so Grk. : and the knowledge of my lips is en 
joined [or, according to another reading, / enjoin] on thee. This 
is so far better than the Heb. as it refers to the utterance of lips, 
but it is syntactically not in accord with the preceding (in which 
the pupil is the subject), and the expression is strange the lips 
of the teacher are nowhere else described as the possessors of 
knowledge, though they are said (is 7 ) to scatter knowledge, that 
is, by words. These considerations are unfavorable to the emen 
dations that the knowledge of my lips may be preserved for you 
(Oort), and that my lips may enjoin knowledge on thee (Bickell). 
It is hardly possible to construe the expression thy lips (or, my 
lips}, which appears to have been introduced by an early scribe 
from the next verse. Dyserinck, omitting this expression, and 
seeking a connection between v. 2 and v. 3 , reads : that thou mayest 
keep discretion and knowledge, that they may preserve (thee} from 
the strange woman (cf. f). Some such form as this is required 
by the connection. The resemblance between this passage and 
2 n.w 7 i-s i s obvious, and we should probably here introduce a 
couplet like 2 10 f, and read : that discretion may watch over thee 
and knowledge pieserve thee, to save thee from the strange woman, 
etc. (as in the translation given above) . 

3-6. Description of the harlot; cf. 2 1(1 - 1! 7 -- 2G 27 . The de 
scription follows abruptly on the exhortation, while elsewhere 
there is an easy transition from the appeal (hear, attend} to the 
subject-matter of the instruction. Before v. n the Grk. inserts give 
no heed to a worthless woman (I, at. . . . to a woman s deceit} ; but 
this destroys the distichal form of the verse ; it is a scribal effort 
to secure connection between v. 3 and v. ;! , but it is not in the 
manner of similar passages, and probably does not represent a 
Heb. text. On other proposed transitional expressions see note 


above ; some reference to the sf range woman must have preceded 
v: 1 , but it was early lost. The warning is addressed only to men ; 
nothing is said of the danger to women from the seductions of 
men. This silence may be due in part to the belief that women 
were more hedged in and guarded by social arrangements, and 
less exposed to temptation than men ; but it is chiefly the result 
of the fact that in the OT. (as in most ancient and modern works 
on practical ethics) it is only men that are had in mind, the moral 
independence of women not being distinctly recognized. The 
only addresses to women as such in OT. are the denunciation of 
the luxurious ladies of Jerusalem in Isa. 3 lli -4 1 (connected with 
the nation s defection from Yahweh), and the similar sarcastic 
prediction of Am. 4 % directed against the great ladies of Samaria. 
K/.. (i3 17 ~~ : ) denounces the prophetesses in their official capacity. 
Ben-Sira (25 >J " J -- t! 26" 42 1M1 ) directs the husband how to deal with 
his erring wife, and the father how to manage his daughter, but 
addresses no word of advice to women. In our chapter the man 
who is warned is thought of as married (v. r> ), and, if we may con 
clude from 7 11 , the woman against whom he is warned is married. 
The married state is regarded as the normal one ; in ancient life, 
men, as a rule, were married at an early age. 3. Synonymous, ter 
nary. On strange woman, = harlot, see note on 2. The specious, 
soft-speaking lips are compared to a honeycomb, and are said to 
drop honc\ (the word means the honey of the comb), an expression 
which in Cant. 4 11 denotes not sweet speech but bodily sweetness. 
Bickell judges, from the parallelism, that the verb drop does not 
belong here, but has been introduced from Cant. 4", and that we 
should read the lips . . . arc honey; the emendation hardly im 
proves the rhythm of the Heb., and is otherwise improbable 
the sweetness of honey is a standard of comparison in the Bible 
(lu. i4 ls K/. 3" Rev. io - \l/ iQ 1 " ii9 10:! )> but neither mouth nor 
lip is called honey; we might, perhaps, say arc s-ti>eet as honey, or, 
are as honev, though, while worth are called honey (i6 J4 ), the 
mouth or the lip is rather the source from which the honey drops 
or (lows. The term rendered words ( RV. moi/fli) is properly 
palate (roof of the mouth), to which the tongue cleaves from 
thirst (Lam. 4 ) or from emotion (Job 29" ), the result being 
sometimes dumbness (Ez. 3-") ; it is the organ of physical taste 


(Job i2 u ), and thence comes to express intellectual discernment 
(Job 6 3;1 ) ; and it is used, as here, for the vocal cavity as the seat 
of speech (8 7 Hos. 8 1 ) ; its smoothness denotes flattery (29 ) or 
hypocrisy ($ 5 10 ) ; so Kng. smooth and 0tfj . The woman is de 
scribed as mistress of cajoling, enticing words ; see the specimen 
of her persuasions given in y 14 - 20 . Rashi and other Jewish exposi 
tors explain the figure of the woman as Epicureanism (philosophi 
cal scepticism, irreligiousness), or as heresy in general (including 
idolatry) ; and it was similarly allegorized by some early Christian 
writers. 4. Synonymous, ternary. Lit. the end (RV. latter end} 
of her is bitter, etc., that is, the final outcome or result of relations 
with her; the term end (Heb. aharith) always involves the idea 
of final judgment. In contrast with the sweetness and smooth 
ness of the woman s speech and demeanor is put the bitterness 
and sharpness of the doom she brings on men (v. 5 ) . Wormwood 
is a symbol in OT. of suffering, as the result of man s injustice 
(Am. 5 7 6 12 ), or as divine punishment (Dt. 29 18(17) Jer. 9 1X14) 2^ 
Lam. 3 U - 19 ) or, as here, as the natural outcome of man s sin. The 
plant meant is some species of Artemisia* ; the word is probably 
here used in a generic sense ; Grk. bile, the other Vrss. absinthium. 
5. Synonymous, ternary. See 2 18 . Death is here a place, = the 
realm of death, = Sheol. Lead down to is lit. take hold on (as 
in i// 17- ) = cleave to, follow (or, keep} the path to. On Sheol 
see note on i 12 . The woman s manner of life is represented as 
fatal to earthly well-being to enter into relations with her is to 
go the way that shortens one s days ; the purely moral side of the 
procedure is not referred to. This is part of the general repre 
sentation of the Book that wickedness brings death, that is, pre 
mature and unhappy death ; so 2 1!K22 4 1!) . Whether in the present 
case death comes from the weakening of bodily strength or by 
direct intervention of God is not said. The connection does not 
suggest a reference to legal punishment. Grk. : for the feet of 
folly (perh. a philosophical abstraction) lead her associates with 
death to Hades, and her steps are not firmly fixed, paraphrase, with 
instead of A?, incorrect division of the verse, and consequent inser- 

* See Celsius, Hicrobotanicum ; Tristram, Survey; T. H. Balfour Plants of the 


tion of the negative. Lat., second cl. : her steps penetrate unto 
the Underworld or the dead (ad inferos}. 6. Text and trans 
lation are uncertain. The Heb. reads : the path of life lest she [or, 
thou~\ make level, her wavs arc unstable ^totter, reel, wander aitn- 
less/y~\, she knows not [or, thou knowest not ] ; that is, her wa\s 
are unstable in order that she may not [or, that thou ma vest nc>t~\ 
prepare the pat/is of life ; but in sentences in which the protasis 
is introduced by lest, the apodosis always states that which is 
done in order that something else may not happen (the two 
things must, of course, be different), while here the two clauses 
are identical in meaning to say that her paths are unstable in 
order that they may not be stable, or, in order that thou, if thou 
walk in them, mayest not be stable (cf. 4- ), gives no sense, and 
could not have been written by the Heb. author. The Anc. Vrss. 
take first cl. as an independent affirmation parallel to second cl., 
and have not instead of lest, and this no doubt gives the proper 
general form (but RV. so that . . not is impossible). The con 
nection indicates that it is the woman (and not the man) that is 
spoken of throughout the verse ; the verb in first cl. means make 
plane, and not enter on, walk in (Anc. Vrss.), or, ponder (Schult. 
RV. marg.). The last phrase of the verse, she knows not, is 
strange, whether it be taken to mean that she knows not that her 
ways are unstable, or that she knows not whither her ways wander 
the point indicated by the connection is not her ignorance (in 
9 W ignorance is appropriately introduced, and cf. \jj 35 s ). but the 
evil character of her paths. Our verse is clearly intended to 
express the contrast to 4 - " : there make level the path of thy feet, 
here she docs not make level the way of life ; there let all thy ways 
be made firm, here her pat/is arc -unstable and, after which we 
expect an expression = not firm. There might seem, further, to 
be tautology in the terms way of life and make level, since a way 
that leads to life must of necessity, according to OT. usage, be 
level ; but life here appears to stand as contrast to the death of 
the preceding verse, and the verb may be retained in the sense oi 
prepare, or may be changed to one meaning tread or enter, as in 
the Versions. We may, with probability, read : she prepares not 
a high-icay of life, her pat/is wander and are not firm. Notwith 
standing the uncertainties of the text, the general sense of the 


verse is clear : the path of the harlot is unstable and does not 
lead to life the verse states negatively what v. 5 states positively, 
that is, she and her associates are doomed to a premature and 
wretched death. 

1. Drop the i pers. suffs. ; see note above. <5 writes b as in 4 -\ \67ois 
(so j, only sing.), exc. H-P 23, 252, which have (ppovrivei. Jo 1 has doublet, 
first = (@ Ba? - (with obel.), second = pj(@- 3 2 ~> 2 , the latter being correction after 
f. Between (@ B and f$ it is not easy to decide; $ is perh. favored by the 
parallelism. 2. To is^S Bi. appends suff. -t, which is proper (as subj.), 
though not necessary in poetical style. j$C, taking "2 as subj., render &h by 
Pass. Impf. and insert 3 before c. |t^ mats; <& evvoiav dyad-^v. In b 
(gBs*(vid) & i ff()r](Ti.s 5 c/j.wv x el ^ MV evr^XXerai <rot=iiii "jS Viet? "11 (Jag., 
adopted by Bi.) ; the other MSS. of <5 &L<r6-r](Tiv . . . fvr^XXofjLai trot = 
DISK . . .; on the objection to this reading and that of pj see note above. 
The passage should perhaps stand as follows (cf. a 11 - 1(i ) : 

pxr pjni nsra -psirn 
npiVnn nnnN rv-pja mi na>Na ~\h^r\h 

Or, the first half only of second line may be inserted, and we shall then have 
a couplet quaternary-ternary. 3. (and so substantially IL) prefixes /XT; 
irpoa-exe (pavXy yvvaiKi, n jMN rc xS 3^ pn Sx, against which the objection 
based on the rhythm seems decisive, though some such connecting phrase (see 
note on v. 2 above) is necessary. |t| m; ; (& irbpi/w, = nj;, or free rendering 
of |1|. ty pSn; IL nitidius (= more shilling or sleeker), free trans, of |tj, or 
perh. from some form of S 1 ?."!. $? I s e ; 9j ?rp6s Kaipbv apparently (Lag.) 
for irpb \aiov; 29 inrtp eXaiov; for crdi read rbv (Jag.). Bi. improperly 
omits njflBP, which is required by the usage of language. The primitive 
sense of in (for -pn) palate is uncertain, perh. a narrow aperture or passage 
(Ges. T/ies,, Dillm. Lex. Ling. Aeth., cf. pjn, pj> ) ; the vl). is denom., = in 
Arab, to rub a child 1 s palate (with chewed dates, etc.) when it is named, proba 
bly by way of dedication to the clan-deity (W. R. Smith, Kinship, p. 154), and 
hence perh. initiate, dedicate, educate ; in Heb. train a child (22 6 ), dedicate a 
private residence (Dt. 2O 5 ) or a temple (i K. 8 f<:5 ) ; cf. note on 22 6 ; the proper 
name "|un (if it be Heb.) may, like Arab. Tjn, mean a man of experience or 
wisdom. Cf. Lane, Lex.; BOB. On @T see Lag., Pink. 4. Instead of |i) as 
(3) < has than (s = p) ; cf. Heb. 4 V2 . S has p in both clauses, in b only; 
there was confusion between 3 and D in the Heb. MSS. (easy in either the old 
or the square script). At end of n (S rhetorically adds cup^o-eis, and S makes 
suff. to nnnN plu., referring to its ivords in v. 3 (|il in). 5. On the para 
phrasing text of <@ see notes of Jag., Lag. ; it paraphrases suff. in mS.n, takes 
Jim 1 * as Hif., has PN before PUT, and Nif. of -pp, before which it inserts neg.; 
J53T Gr. 1CD; IL penetrant; S> u pro (= (5); Bi. writes TH i - sing.; there is 
no reason for changing %], unless, as in 2 1 *, preps, be inserted before Pis and 

V. 6 


SINK-, though these may stand as objectives without preposition. _ 6. 11) ;c is 
unintelligible; the connection requires a neg. (perh. S 2),asall Anc. \ rss. take 
it. Succeeding interpretations have been various. Talmud, Moed Katon, <j a : 
do not ponder the path of life (that is, to discover the precepts, obedience to 
which is most rewarded by (lod) ; Rashi : Jo not ponder the r.v/r of the life of 
the woman, for all her paths lead to death; Schullcns (connecting it with 5 ) : 
(she plunges into Sheol) lest perchance she should pondt r, etc., and possibly 
repent (a result which she wishes to avoid) ; C. 1!. Mich. : (her ways wander) 
lest thou ponder, etc.; Ew. al. : lest she ponder ; Xowack, Strack : that she 
may not enter on ; Kamp. : that she may miss; I)e. (adopting an untenable 
translation of js) : she is far from entering; Xoyes : she gires no heed to ; 
Frank, omits the line as incapable of satisfactory translation, but thinks that 
<5 gives the sense properly. The objections to ]s are first its position (not at 
beginning of clause), and secondly, the identity of content of the two clauses; 
on the supposed similarity in this last respect of i*,- ( ""-, cited by Xow.), 
see note on that verse. 11) mx; $ N.VN, miswriting of Nrrns (Vogel). _ 
%} D S E~; I? freely i-n-fp-^erai (and so 37); 3L ambulant, referring to pedts 
\v , or to ^rasies v. ; Gr. y?D? sitbrcrt. 11) maybe retained. 11) VT N 1 ? is 
omitted by 15i. as marring the parallelism; it is rhythmically and in sense 
inappropriate. The Yrss. represent 11); (P (foil, by $11) KO.I OUK fvyvua-Toi 
(relerring to rpoxtac), = she knows them not ; (T, reproducing 11) exactly (onlv 
l>ref. i) N;"^ ,s s i; Schult. hand curat, and st> most later expositors (as RY.) 
she knon<s (or, observes} it not ; C. 15. Mich.: so that thou k no- vest not (where 
thou art). Some expression here seems required by the rhythm, and we may 
doubtfully emend to i;r (4-). 

7-14. After this general description of the perils of association 
with the harlot, the discourse repeats the warning against her 
(v 7 s ), basing it on the suffering she brings, namely, loss of 
wealth (v. 1 - 1 "), and closing with a picture of the victim s use 
less regret (v."-"). 

7. Xow, therefore < my son, hearken to me, 
And depart not from the words of my mouth. 

8. Keep thy path far from her, 

(!o not near the door of her house; 

9. Lest thou give up thy < wealth to others, 
The (toil of) thy years to < aliens, 

1 1. And tin ni <^roan at last, 

\Vhui thy body and llesli are consumed, 
12. And say: "Alas ! I have hated instruction, 

And guidance I have despised; 


13. I have not listened to the voice of my teachers, 
Nor hearkened to my instructors; 

14. I had wellnigh come to complete grief 
In the congregation and the assembly." 

7, 8. Synonymous, ternary. Exhortation : " seeing she is as I 
have said, avoid her." The Heb. has plu. sons, but the sing, is 
called for by the rest of the address, and is found in the Grk. and 
the Latin. The woman (probably married, but whether married 
or unmarried) has her own house. 

9, 10. Synonymous ; v. 9 is ternary-binary ; v. 10 is ternary. More 
particular statement of the loss she inflicts. Our Heb. text reads : 
9. Lest thou give up thine honor to others and thy years to the cruel 
[or to a cruel one\, 10. lest strangers be filled with thy strength, 
and thy labors (g>) into an alien s house. The strength of v. 1 " = 
wealth, as in Job 6" (RV. substance}. In v. 9 (which seems in 
tended to express the same thought as v. 10 ) the parallelism sug 
gests the reading wealth (or perhaps life, as in the Grk.) instead 
of honor, and the meaning will then be that all the outcome, the 
earnings, of the man s life pass into the hands of others. If the 
reading honor be retained, this word must be interpreted simi 
larly, as equivalent to years, that is, the labor of years, wealth, 
called honor because it gives a man an honorable position among 
men. The two clauses of v. 9 must be taken as synonymous ; we 
cannot understand honor as expressing the freshness and grace of 
youth, and years the dignity of age. The term cruel, if it be the 
right reading, is parallel and equivalent to others, strangers, aliens, 
and is to be understood as describing the pitiless character of 
these persons (creditors, sharpers, the woman and her friends, 
including, perhaps, the husband) who get possession of the vic 
tim s money. It is, however, a surprising term in this connection 
(the general reference being simply to the fact that the man loses 
his property), and seems to be scribal error for the word meaning 
alien (as the Targ. has it). The quatrain appears to give a com 
plete double set of synonyms, four words signifying "wealth," and 
four signifying " other persons." -- In any case the penalty pre 
dicted for the debauchee is loss of worldly wealth, as, on the other 
hand, riches is the reward of the wise (3 10 8 1S ). The reference (cf. 

V. 7-13 109 

v.") cannot be to the punishment of death for adulterers ordained 
in the Israelitish law (K/. i6 4 " Lev. 20 "), since there is here no 
hint of such a fatal ending or of legal procedure (cf. note on v."), 
but the intimation is that the punishment, loss of wealth, comes 
from ordinary social causes. Still less is it meant that the offender 
may be emasculated and become the slave of the injured husband 
(Kw.); no such provision exists in the ()T. law. It is simply 
that the licentious man, careless and prodigal, is preyed on by 
others (chiefly the woman and her husband and lovers), and thus 
sacrifices his years to aliens. This is the sting of his doom, that 
his toil goes to build up not his own house but another s, and his 
life thus becomes a failure. The point of view is external there 
is no reference to corruption of soul ; that is no doubt assumed, 
but the moralist uses what he thinks the most effective deterrent 
argument, the social destructiveness of the vice in question. 

11-14. The man s lamentation over his broken life. 11. Pro 
gressive, binary-ternary. At last (lit. /// thy aftertimc or at thy 
end} =. when the results of thy action show themselves ; the refer 
ence may be to the period immediately succeeding the loss of 
wealth or to the end of life. Body and flesh (= the being, per 
sonality) are consumed, worn out, the allusion being not to the 
physical results of sexual indulgence (the point is not excess, but 
illegality and immorality), but to the loss of social position and 
power, in general to the failure of the man s life. The picture is 
identical in substance with that of v. 1 - 1 ", loss of wealth involving or 
expressing loss of all that makes life enjoyable. (irk. : and tliou 
repent at last when tlic flesh of thy body is consumed, a reading which 
represents slight modifications of our Heb. text : groan, mourn, 
repent are practically equivalent, groan being the strongest ; the 
rhetorical repetition body and flesh is more effective than the pre- 
cisery^ jr/! of body. 12, 13. Synonymous, ternary. Lit. my heart 
(= myself) has despised (v. L> ), and lent (lit. inclined} mine car to 
mine instructors (v." ! ). The Heb. prefixes how to the whole quat 
rain, the sense being : how hare I hated . . . despised . . . how 
hare I not listened . . . and not inclined . , an awkward form of 
expression in Knglish (RV. has an ungrammatical sentence in 
v. 1 - , and drops the how in v. 1; ). Heb. employs this how as in- 


troduction to laments (2 Sam. i 25 Zeph. 2 ir> Ez. 26 lr Isa. 14* i 21 
Lam. i 1 2 1 Jer. 48 17 ) with the sense how lamentable the case . , here 
how foolish I was i, a meaning which is expressed by alas ! In 
stead of the Perf. have hated, etc., we may render by the Pret. 
I hated, etc. On instruction and guidance see notes on i 2 - 23 . 
The sage here reaches the gist of his discourse obedience to 
instruction would have saved the man from this unhappy fate. 
The teachers are wise men, fathers of families and heads of 
schools. Here, as elsewhere in the book, it seems to be assumed 
that more or less organized schemes of moral instruction for young 
men existed incipient universities such as appear in the second 
century u.c. 14. Progressive, ternary. Lit.: had wellnigh fallen 
into all evil. If the evil be moral, the congregation (or, assembly) 
is the crowd of bad companions who lead the man astray, or the 
community which witnesses his downfall ; but this interpretation 
does not agree with the connection he declares (v. 12 - 13 ) not that 
he came near descending, but that he did descend into the depths 
of moral evil, and he reflects that he has barely escaped some 
thing else, namely, crushing suffering. This sense of the term 
evil occurs in i3 u \jj IO G 2f ; here it appears to mean official pun 
ishment. Congregation and assembly (synonymous terms) signify 
first any mass of persons gathered together, and then particularly 
a community (sometimes the whole body of Israelites) in organ 
ized political or judicial form, here the official gathering of the 
man s community to take cognizance of offences against law. In 
the early time every Israelitish community appears to have exer 
cised judicial and executive powers (Dt. if 21 Lev. 24 lfi .) In 
the Roman times also the Jewish communities all over the empire 
seem to have had the right of jurisdiction over their members, and 
this was probably the case in the Grk. period in Palestine and 
Egypt.* The adulterer might, perhaps, have been sentenced to 
death (but see notes on 6 33ff ) ; he sees that he came near losing 
his life or suffering some other overwhelming punishment ; cf. Ben- 
Sira 23 21 . It is obvious that the point here is different from that 
of v. ; - 10 , and that in v/ also the reference is general, not particu 
larly to legal punishment. The stress here laid on the verdict of 
the community is to be noted. 

* Cf. Schurer, Jewish People, 2, 2, \ 31. 

V. 13-14 I I [ 

7. 21) - - 1 -! <5 if ; read }?, as in v. 1 - -", and make the vbs. sing. 
8. 11) n-^;--:; (5 CITT CU TT}S; l!i. unnecessarily nj-; 1 :. 1J> rrc and r % 3 written 
liy (in several different forms) phi., by Heb. or (irk. scribal inadvertence. 
9. 11) " i"; SC """: (3 i wTyf, which may peril, represent TI taken (like ibr. 
see Dillm. s note on (ien. 49 , (iciger, L rsci/ri //, p. jKj) as = .?()/// ( Lag.}, but 
more probably is rendering of --r, which is favored by the parallel r;r. lp ^iW; 
Oorl pi, which (ir. regards as the Heb. text of 5> (cf. I ink.), and it should 
probably here be read instead of 11) in. It) -i-;x, emend to >";; (? dreXe- 
rifj.ocrii (and so $11); <T here and II 17 J\MDIJ ( I leb. ^r:), regarded by Yog. 
as scribal error for pxi:rx, by liaumg. for N lrrj (so I7 11 ); the connection 
favors JT. 10. Ill) fs (lacking in (5 v lll;; ) is omitted by Lag. as bad Heb.. 
since the force of the part, in v. - may extend through v. 10 ; but such repetition 
is rhetorically permissible. The Yrss. properly supply a vb. in ; It) is poeti 
cally concise. \Vith use of n: as = ivealtk cf. similar use of ^ % n. 11. |t| .---;; 
(5 (followed by $), not so well, /j.eTa/j.f\7]dr]ffy, p^nj. -11) l~ v ^nN2; t lem., 
Strom. 122, TTL yrjpus (and so ), regarded by Lag. as the genuine text of (S, 
err ecrxdrajf being revision. The crdp/ces crw/xaris aov of (5 (adopted by ]!:.) 
is rhetorically not so good as 11). Geiger, Urschrifl, p. 418, supposes that the 
original text had ma instead of n->r. 12. The diff. bet\\ p een 11) rroir and 
(5 f\eyxovs is one of pointing (in 6- :J |i) has plu. and <5 sing.), and there is 
little choice between them. <5 " - - - -* " Constitt. 9 s Arab, but not Aeth. (Lag.), 
add dLKaiuv, an addition natural but not found elsewhere. 13. In >N"?I omit \ 
with . Instead of "-ipa a number of MSS. have s i l i-, which is perh. better. 
Lag. points out that the reading of (5 15 " - TrcuSeiWros /xe /cat 8iddffKOi>T6s fj.f is 
the original (Irk. (though not the translation of the original I leb.), and that 
of (5- ;i " -, conformed to the Heb., a correction. 14. 11) jv:r; (5 Trap 6\iyov; 
A ws 6\i 70i>; Schol. tv /rJpaxurdTff) ; 1L penc ; S2T ^3 i> wholly; ( !r. emends 
to Dst: </ t s/>isci/. 5C p- % 2 takes >i as plural. 

15-20. Exhortation (couched in erotic terms) to avoid har 
lotry and observe conjugal fidelity. The sacredness and social 
value of the family are implied. It is assumed that men are mar 
ried, and the exhortation indicates that conjugal infidelity was a 
crying evil of the time. The paragraph consists of t\vo parts, the 
first (v. lv17 ) figurative, the second (v. 1 *" - ") the literal interpreta 
tion of the first. The terms cistern, waters, etc., are used figura 
tively but the allegorical interpretation of the wife, as = wisdom, 
etc., is excluded by the connection. 

15. Ilrink water from thine own cistern, 
Running water from thine own well. 

16. Should thy springs be scattered abroad? 
Thv streams of water in the streets? 


17. Let them he for thyself alone, 
And not for others with thee. 

18. Let thy fountain be < thine own, * 

Get thou joy from the wife of thy youth; 

19. [] Let her breasts intoxicate thee always,! 
Be thou ever ravished with her love. 

20. Why shouldest thou [] J be ravished with a stranger, 
Embrace the bosom of another woman ? 

15. Synonymous, binary-ternary. The cistern is a receptacle 
(often hewn out of the rock, Jer. 2 13 ) into which water falls or 
flows from without and in which it remains motionless ; in the 
well (Nu. 2i 17 - 18 ) the water rises from beneath and has movement, 
life (so here running water is not spoken of in connection with 
the cistern} ; the two terms are rhetorical variations of expression 
for a supply of drinking-water. The figure appears to be a general 
one : let thy own wife be thy source of enjoyment, as refreshing 
as water to a thirsty man. The enjoyment meant is sensual, but 
there does not seem to be a comparison of the female form to a 
cistern or well, or a designation of the wife as the source of chil 
dren (cf. Ex. 2 1 , Koran 2 223 ) ; there is no reference to children 
in the paragraph. The basis of the figure is given in Isa. 36 16 
where drinking from one s (literal) cistern is the symbol of enjoy 
ment of one s home. The general idea of origin is expressed in 
Isa. 5 1 1 : Abraham is the rock whence was hewn the stone for the 
building of the nation, Sarah the rock-pit (the same word that is 
here used for cistern) whence the nation was dug ; in this there 
seems to be no pictorial allusion to the mother s womb father 
and mother are spoken of in the same way. In Eccl. 1 2 also 
cistern stands in a general way for life. A close approach to the 
wording of our verse is found in Cant. 4 15 , in which the heroine is 
called a garden-fountain, a well of living water, of streams from 
Lebanon (and cf. v. 12 ), that is, a source of refreshing and enjoy- 

* Heb. : blessed. 

t On the omission of first line of v. 19 see note on this verse below. 

J Heb. inserts my son. 

In Eccl. I2 1 the emendation cistern (113) or well (iN3), =v>i/e, instead of 
creator (5012), is not favored by the connection, and is, on rhetorical grounds, 
extremely difficult if not impossible; probably ii ub, I2 1B is orthodox scribal 

V. 15-17 j i -^ 

ment (the similarity of expressions in 1 r. and Cant., here and 
elsewhere, suggests that one of these books drew from the other). 
-Grk., by a slight change of text, has drink wafers out of thine 
own vessels (uyyW), and in NT. (i Th. 4 i 1 ct. 3 7 ) vessel 
(<rr<o?) = wife ; the latter term represents the body as the locus 
or instrument of the soul or of service, and often = person, but 
the (Irk. term here means drinking-vessels. Our Heb. text in 
troduces the wife not as child-bearer, but as source of pleasure. 
For the general figure cf. US. 26 -. 16. Synonymous, ternary- 
binary. It is a question whether the infidelity here referred to is 
that of the husband or that of the wife. The connection clearly 
favors the former interpretation ; the reference in v. r> and in v. I8 -- 
is obviously to the man, and it is not likely that the discourse 
would be interrupted by the introduction of a topic which is men 
tioned nowhere else in the chapter; and \v", further, appears to 
give the literal meaning of v. lt! - ir , as v. ls gives that of v. M . The 
sense is : seek not thy pleasure in the streets (from harlots, see 
7 -), from all sorts of sources (scattered ah road}. Springs and 
streams symbolize sources of enjoyment, and particularly such as 
are commonly outside of one s house-land ; while cistern and we//, 
v. 1 (also sources of enjoyment) are properly attached to the 
house. The interrogative form (which may be rendered by a 
negative), though not given in the Heb., is permissible, and is 
demanded by the connection. The declarative or the jussive form 
(t/iy s/reatns will !>e [or, let thy streams l>e} spread ahroad) , adopted 
by a number of expositors (from Aquila and Saadia on), is held 
to mean"thou shall have numerous descendants" (Schult.),or 
" let thy generative power act freely within the marriage-relation " 
(De.); but these interpretations are not favored by the context. 
The terms springs, etc., cannot naturally be taken to mean "gen 
erative power" (K\v., De., a/.); the connection shows that they 
signify "sources of pleasure" (here sensual pleasure). -Those 
who make the woman the subject interpret : " let not thy wife 
stray abroad " (as a result of thy infidelity). (Irk. : /,/ not thy 
waters overflow, etc. (the negative is involved in the interrogative 
form). Others : "do not squander thy virile strength," which is 
correct in general sense (see above), but incorrect in form. - 
17. Synonymous, ternary, or binary. Repetition of the exhorta- 


tion of v. 16 , = " let thy pleasures belong to thyself alone (that is, 
be derived from thine own wife), and not be shared with others 
(as they must be, if thou consort with harlots)." On the less 
probable interpretation : " let thy wife be for thee alone, and not 
for others with thee" (= let not thy wife become a harlot) see 
note on preceding verse. 18-20. This group repeats and inter 
prets the exhortation of the preceding in literal terms the erotic 
expressions (cf. Canticles) are partly explained by the fact that 
women did not in ancient times form part of the audiences ad 
dressed by men, or of the public for which books were written.* 
18. Synonymous, ternary. Fountain, parallel to water, springs, 
rivers of v. 15 1(; , is explained in second cl. as = wife, as source of 
physical pleasure. The Heb. reads : let thy fountain be blessed. 
The "fountain" may be regarded as blessed when it is enjoyed 
in accordance with the laws of God and man, that is, in the mar 
riage-relation, in contrast with the pleasures of illicit love ; as 
appears from the connection, there is no reference to the blessed 
ness of children born in wedlock the wife is viewed not as child- 
bearer but as pleasure-giver. The term blessed is, however, not 
what we should expect ; the section contrasts the wife as one s 
own with the harlot as stranger, and there is probability in the 
Grk. reading let thy fountain be thine own or for thcc alone 
(which represents a slight modification of our Heb. text) (cf. 
v. 17 ). The fountain of Lev. i2 7 2O 1S refers to the blood of child 
birth and menses and has nothing to do with our passage. The 
joy of second cl., as appears from the following context, is sen 
sual. Among ancient peoples marriage was considered a duty, 
and early marriage appears to have been the general custom ; 
such a custom is assumed in the expression wife of thy youth, and 
the writer probably had in mind its value as a guard against 
debauchery. It has been suggested f that the astonishing vitality 
of the Jews is due in part to their maintenance of early marriage 
(a custom which they have always kept up except when, as now to 
some extent, they have fallen into the habits of other peoples). 
19. Synonymous, ternary (the first line of the Heb. being omitted) . 

* Cf. the Idyls of Theoc., Bion, Moschus. 

f For ex., by Leroy-Beaulieu, Israel c/ies les nations, Ch. VII. 

V. 1 7-20 I i 5 

Expansion of second line of v. ls . As first line of v. 1 " the Heb. 
has: Lovely hi in/, charming wild goat an expression which, if 
it be retained, must be regarded as a parenthetical exclamation, 
whether it be attached to this verse or to the preceding; but it 
interrupts the discourse and destroys the distichal form, and is 
doubtless the insertion of a scribe, a gloss on wife. lUckell, insert 
ing one word, writes the verse as a quatrain : Lovely hind, cJiarm- 
ing wild goat, Let her breasts intoxicate thce, Let lie r always make 
//ice (/litre/; Be ever ravished with her love ; but the inserted word 
is doubtful and improbable. The hind is some variety of deer 
(I>t. 1 2 15 ), probably red or fallow. The wild goat (i Sam. 2^ 
Job 39 \li i04 ls ), an inhabitant of the rocks, is gray in color, and 
of great agility and grace ; it is said to be still found at Kngedi, 
where David s men may have hunted it ; the renderings roe (RV.) 
and gazelle (Strack, Kamph., al.) are hardly allowable.* This is 
the only place in OT. where a woman is compared to an animal as 
type of beauty (Cant. 4 - " are not properly exceptions), though 
such comparisons for men are not rare. A change in the vowels 
of the Heb. gives in first line love instead of breasts, but the latter 
reading is favored by the bosom of v."". The Targum interprets 
the wife as = the law : wisdom learn tJiou alwa\s, and to love of 
it ever strenuously apply thysc/f. 2Q. Synonymous, ternary. This 
verse is naturally taken in connection with the preceding exhor 
tation. The question is asked: why seek another woman? the 
answer expected is : there is no reason for so doing, seeing thy 
wife is sufficient; the appeal is based on the foregoing section. 
If the verse be connected with what follows, it should be ren 
dered : w/iy wilt tJiou be ravished witJi (or, fascinated b\), etc.?, 
that is, seeing thon wilt certainly be punished for such conduct 
(v.- 1 , but see note on that verse below). The address my son in 
the Heb. is rhythmically hard, is not found in the (Irk., and is bet 
ter omitted. With this section cf. 1!S. 9 - - . The sage of Prov. 
combating a particular vice, here treats the wife not as intellectual 
companion of the husband or as mother of the family, but as sat 
isfaction of bodily desire he sets lawful over against unlawful 
passion; but, of course, it is not thence to be inferred that the 


teachers of the time did not take the higher view of the marriage- 
relation ; cf. 3 i 1(W1 , BS. 26 1 - 3 " 13 - 14 3 6 2;X2S) . 

21-23. General concluding- reflection, similar to what is found 
at the end of chs. i. 2. 3, without special bearing on the body 
of the chapter, perhaps the addition of the final editor. 

21. For the ways of a man arc before the eyes of Yahweh, 

And he weighs all his paths. 
2.2. His iniquities shall catch him [],* 

And in the net of his sins he shall be taken. 
23. He shall die for lack of instruction, 

And < perish > f through the greatness of his folly. 

21. Synonymous, ternary. The universal supervision of God is 
cited as a general reason for carefulness in conduct ; the principle 
applies to all men, not especially to adulterers. In second cl. the 
parallelism favors the rendering weighs God has his eye on, 
estimates and judges human actions (Grk. observes, Targ., Syr., all 
his ways are uncovered before him}. We may also translate makes 
plane (see note on 4-), understanding this expression to mean 
arranges, makes possible, that is, God so ordains life that the bad 
man may run his course and meet his punishment, man is free 
(De., Now., Str.) ; but here, as in i 31 - 32 , it seems to be the 
judgment of God rather than the freedom of man that the writer 
has in view. The way in which the divine government shows 
itself is explained in the following verses. Such must be the 
course of thought if the present text be correct. But the connec 
tion between v. 21 and the following verses is not clear. V.- 1 
regards all men, good and bad, v. 2 -- K regard bad men only. The 
insertion of the words the wicked, in v. 22 , appears to show that the 
reference in the /// ;;/ was thought to need explanation ; and it is 
natural to suppose that, when the verse was written, the reference 
was clear, that is, that the antecedent of ///;;/ had been expressed. 
The same thing is true of the his in first line of v. 22 --it has now 
no expressed antecedent. It follows either that v.- 1 originally 
referred to the wicked (a supposition with which the general verb 
weigh does not agree), or that some passage (perhaps a couplet) 

* Heb. inserts the wicked. t Heb. : go astray. 

V. 21-23 I I? 

referring to the "wicked" has fallen out, or that v.- is the inser 
tion of an editor. The last construction would still require a 
modification of v.-- (see note on this verse below). 22. Synon 
ymous, binary-ternary (in the emended form of the couplet). 
In first cl. the Ileb. has sliall catch him, the wicked, in which both 
objects cannot be original, and it is more probable that the 
explicit term the wicked is an old scribal explanation (found in 
Targ., Syr., Lat., but not in (irk.). The rendering (obtained In- 
changing the text) his own iniquities sliall catch the wicked is pos 
sible but syntactically hard. Possibly we should read : the wicked 
s/ia/l be caught in his iniquities, or, less probably (with (irk.) : 
iniquities shall catch a man. The figure is that of an animal 
caught in a net, the man is caught in his own wrongdoings (the 
plu. sins is given in most of the Anc. Vrss.). This is the dispen 
sation of God, and it is implied that it is also the natural course 
of things. Net is literally strings or threads. 23. Synonymous, 
ternary. The thought is that of r" 1 "-" 1 sin is the result of lack of 
instruction, of the guidance of divine wisdom as given particularly 
in the teaching of the sages; see the preceding sections frissim. 
Further, death is the outcome of sin, see r" 1 -, etc. The parallel 
ism, with comparison also of such couplets as r"-, seems to require 
the sense perish in second cl. (so one reading of the (irk.). The 
Heb. has go astray, an expression so weak alongside of the die of 
first cl. that those who retain it have to interpret it as = stagger or 
fall into the grave or into litter ruin (Xoyes, Reuss, De., a!.), a 
sense which the Heb. verb nowhere else has, or wander from the 
path of life (Wild.), for which pregnant sense there is no author 
ity. V. 21 " 2 ", as regards the idea, constitute a separate paragraph, 
which, however, does not give the expected quatrain-form : some 
critics, therefore, attach v.- 1 to v.-" (with which it is not logically 
connected). The chapter, as it stands, has an uneven number of 
couplets, and, consequently, at least one defective quatrain. This 
defect may be removed by changes of text, as by the omission of 
a couplet (e.g. v. L> or v." or v. jl ), or by the expansion of one couplet 
into two (see note on v. 1; ). Failing a satisfactory emendation of 
this sort, we have to accept a formal irregularity in this chapter, 
with the possibility that the writer allowed himself a certain 
license in the construction of quatrains and paragraphs. 


15. #2E as $J, and so 1L in fl ; in <S, followed by 1L, substantially = $?. 
$? to; < a77t wv, which may be free rendering of ||J, giving the sense 
drink from thy drinking-vcssel, or may represent DT, hardly = ^3 (Heid.), 
which would be graphically hard ; Lag. refers <S to Syr. iir, graphically easy, 
and in Geopon. 2$ u al. = ayye iov (and cf. Payne-Smith, Thes., Syr.); the 
usual sense of the Aram, word is hive (of bees), but Jewish Aram, mu occurs 
with the more general meaning box, pot (see the references in Buxt., Levy, 
Jastrow). 16. Of <S MSS. B alone inserts w before the vb. in a ; the sense 
thus obtained is correct, but the insertion of the neg. in f^ is unnecessary (see 
note on v. 16 above). Whether JJ.T) belongs to the Grk. original is doubtful; 
Lag. thinks that /ur/ virepeKx^du represents a single Heb. word (a view not 
supported by the OVK tpeiSeTai of v. 5 ). The insertion of vdara in a was made 
necessary by the reading of 2 in -ppjvn as prep. ; in b ^jSo was understood 
as vb. 18. $2 l-na; (5 Idia (whence Chrys. v. 98 al. nbvy), probably = TO 1 ? 
(Vog.), as in v. 17 , after which fl| should probably be emended; Heid. improb 
ably "p 2, out of -pi3; Bi. emends $? to Tpb, after v. 15 ; Oort thinks it probable 
that the Grk. transl. read rpb (let thy fountain be thy cistern) and gave a free 
rendering; Oorl s own reading TO beneficent hardly suits the idea of the para 
graph, in which the soleness of the wife is the theme. $fy nc sr, for which 
12 Heb. codd. and one cod. of { (De Rossi) have "JO, <@ /JXTO. and so J51L 
Arab., the commoner construction, and possibly the right reading here and 
elsewhere (Eccl. 2 W 2 C. 2O 27 ) ; Midr. Mishle has c, Shohar Tab 3. 
19. p" 1 1 i s the reading of the Occident, recension, and the Q of the Orient., 
which as K. has T 1 " 1 1 (Ginsb.). For njtt n 3 codd. of De Rossi have n.iirn 
increase, prob. scribal error. The Vrss. find difficulty in construction and 
sense. (5 fills out a with 6/uXet rw trot, in b has I8ta (-poS?) for rvn, and Tiyei- 
v6u (11 "?) and crvvto-Tw (i> ii?) for in (Lag.) (but these terms may be 
merely allegorizing paraphrases), in c renders "Pon by TroXXoffris effrj. 
writes nnmiN in b , either allegorizing or reading m:m for mi. 3T allegorizes 
throughout; only AS (and doubtless 6) 1L Arab, follow ^ literally. Bi., tak 
ing ffvvtffru aoi as = iS yir, inserts ^Vpn before ny Sa2, thus gaining an 
additional line, parallel to the c of $%, an attractive emendation if the sense 
required (intoxicate ) could be shown to belong to Hif. of S>n; see note on 
this verse above. The text of |j is to be retained in bc , but it is doubtful 
whether a formed part of the original Heb.; see n. on this v. above. The 
emendation nm for rn-n (Ilitz., /.) is not necessary; cf. Geiger, Urschrift, 
397 ff. 20. $| n.iu ; r, in 3 codd. ^P; wo\vs, = Aram. DJ-JT; cf. BS. 9*. 
2T J.nrn lead astray, S N;"JP ^w astray. pn is omitted in B-D by typo 
graphical error. 21. Nin should be inserted before D^SE. 22. Omit ns 
yinn as scribal explicitum, with ; the termination of the vb. ^ is j_, not 
u_. (S &v5pa, whence Bi. u ; xn, which is not probable; Avdpa seems to be 
merely explicit expression of the Heb. suffix. Possibly we should read : jn 3 
ysnn loS 11 (cf. 6 2 li Eccl. 7 20 ). 23. Nin, supported by the Vrss., gives un 
necessary emphasis, and has perh. got into this place by scribal transposition 
from v. 21 ,- -(5 /xerd aTroiSevrwv, perh. error for SLO, ^.wai^fvaLav, as 2 has it, - 

vi. ii9 

ID .1.1U-, weak and inappropriate, perh. scribal repetition from v.- 1 we expect 
a vb. like rn^ or iax or better yr, which occurs along with TIT in Job j 11 4 1 ; 
the change of pr into n.r;" is graphically not very difficult. & e^fpi<prj perh. 
= -| s w" or U "ir. I or its /iiorTjros (which stands in the place of Ti"^x) Sclil. 
su rr esls Tj\ith6T TJTOS. (5 adds the line KCU diru\TO 81 d<f>po(?vvr)i>, which 
lager, railing., take as rendering of ", Sclil., Lag., more probably as rend, of 1 
(Sclil. writes Oia 7ro\\r?r avrov d</>.:.), and the vb. drr. sustains the change 
of text above proposed. 

VI. The second half of the chapter (v.-"" ; ) is a discourse 
against adultery, similar to that of ch. 5. The first half consists 
of four short sections wholly different in style from the rest of this 
Division (chs. 1-9) ; while the other discourses are general 
praises of wisdom, or warnings against robbery and debauchery, 
conceived in a broad and solemn way, these are homely warn 
ings against petty vices, with one arithmetical enumeration of 
sins. V. 1 " 1 : against going security for others ; v. 1 "" : against 
sloth ; v. 1 -- 15 : against mischief-making ; V. I|M;I : against seven sins. 
In tone these closely resemble 22 17 -24 :;i and 30 ll - ;il , with which 
they obviously belong. Since they interrupt the course of thought 
in chs. 1-9, it is not likely that they were here inserted by the 
author of this Division ; they were probably misplaced by an editor 
or scribe, anil at an early period, since they occur here in all the 
Ancient Versions. The metrical unit is the couplet, most of the lines 
being ternary ; a division into quatrains is not always recognizable. 

1-5. In eager, semi-humorous fashion men are cautioned 
against pledging themselves pecuniarily for others a thrifty, selt- 
regarding, prudent injunction, sound from the point of view of 
social-economic justice and kindness, though the author would 
probably not deny that there are times when such prudential 
maxims must be thrown to the winds. Cf. ii 1 " 17" 20" 22 -" 27 , 
1!S. 29 18 19 ; in favor of suretyship is US. 29 14 17 . Commercial lend 
ing is to be distinguished from lending to the poor and unfortu 
nate (Kx. 22 - r (L n i/> 37-"), though borrowing is regarded in 22 as a 


1. If, my son, thou hast become surety for thy lellow. 
Hast pledged thyself for another, 

2. Hast snared thyself by thine <>\\n . lips,- * 
Trapped thyself by the words of thy mouth. 


3. Then do this, my son [] * 

For thou art come into thy fellow s power 
Go in hot haste, 
And beset thy fellow, 

4. Give not sleep to thine eyes 
Nor slumber to thine eyelids, 

5. Free thyself as a gazelle from the < snare, t 
And as a bird from the hand of the fowler. 

1, 2. Synonymous, v. 1 ternary, v. L> (as emended) binary. The 
earnest, eager tone suggests that the writer has experienced or 
observed the predicament which he describes it is a business 
man advising his friend. The address my son, with which the 
Heb. begins, here not inappropriate, is by some critics omitted on 
rhythmical grounds. Pledged thyself, lit. struck thy Jiand, refer 
ence to a legal procedure for concluding a bargain (cf. 2 K. io r> ). 
In v. 2a lips (instead of the words of thy mouth of the Heb.) is taken 
from the Grk., and is in accordance with the usage of the context, 
in which synonyms and not repetitions are employed. Fellow 
and another (RV. stranger) here mean any person with whom 
one has dealings the terms are not contrasted, but synonymous ; 
for the first see Gen. 1 1 3 Ex. 2 1:i 20 Pr. 6 , etc., for the second 
i K. 3 1:! Job 15 Pr. 5 1() , etc. The figure of the couplet is taken 
from hunting the unwary surety is an animal caught in a trap. 
3-5. The rest of the section urges the surety to get out of his 
difficulty as quickly as possible. 3. Probably a quatrain (as in the 
Grk.), though the text is not quite certain ; the first couplet may 
be taken as ternary, the second couplet as binary. This refers to 
what follows. The expression and free thyself, added in the Heb. 
at the end of the first line, is anticipatory, unnecessary, and inter- 
ruptive ; it was probably inserted by a scribe from v/ . The 
second line is parenthetical, and states the reason for prompt action ; 
power is lit. hand ; the commoner expression is to fall into one s 
hand (2 S. 24" Lam. i 7 , cf. Nah. 3 12 ). The verb in third line is 
doubtful in form and signification. It is taken by some to mean 
tread, stamp, crush thyself down, demean, humble thyself (RN.) ; by 
others, as denominative from a word meaning mire, in the equiv 
alent sense <?/ down into the mire (see Ez. 34 *, and cf. Pr. 25 ai ). 

Heb. adds (probably from v. 5 ) : and free thyself. f Heb. : hand. 

VI. 1-5 121 

The connection favors the meaning violently bestir th\self ( RY. 
marg. bestir thyself}, act impetuously or more <]iiick!\ (so the 
Vulg.). (irk. : Ho, my son, what I bid thee, and save tli\self ~ 
for t !io u art come into the hands of bad men on tli\ friend s ac 
count be not slack, but sharply assail thy friend also for whom 
//ion hast pledged thyself the same general meaning as that of 
the Heb. : no time is to be lost and no soft words to be used 
go and insist on being released from your pledge. Importune 
(RY.) is hardly strong enough; beset, besiege, or assail better 
express the impetuosity involved in the Heb. term. Tlien (RY. 

now } is illative, not temporal; so in Ex. 33 Job 9 -" i/ 1 ^/. 

4, 5. Synonymous, v. 4 ternary-binary, v/ ternary. Continuation 
of exhortation. In v/ - 1 the Heb. has simply from the hand (so 
Vulg.), and RV. (as AY.) supplies, by conjecture, of the hunter; 
this is a natural construction, and it is possible that the defining 
word may have fallen out of the Heb. ; but it is simpler to read 
snare or trap, with Grk., Targ., Syr.; see this expression in I>S. 
27-". The animal named in v/ a is a deer (I)t. 12 " ), swift, an 
inhabitant of the plain (2 S. 2 1S ) and of the mountain (i C. 12", 
perh. 2 S. i 1:i ), a symbol of masculine beauty (Cant. 2 ! 8"), and 
so is generally understood to be the gazelle {Tabitlia, Acts () , is 
the fern, form of the equivalent Aramaic word).* 

Of the details of the old Heb. law of suretyship or endorsement 
we have no information. Besides the procedure of Judah in 
pledging himself for Benjamin (Gen. 43 ), and a couple of allu 
sions to the practice (Job 17" ^ 119 --), we find in OT., outside 
of 1 r., only one description of a business-transaction involving 
personal security (Xeh. 5 M1 ), and this is rather of the nature of a 
mortgage given by a man on his children regarded as his property. 
The allusions to personal endorsement all occur in postexilian 
writings ; it is probable that the custom (for which there was no 
ground in the commercially simple preexiliau life) sprang up when 
the Jews were scattered through the Persian and Greek empires 
and entered on their real commercial career. On the law of 
pledges of things see Kx. 22"" " Dt. 24" M;1 . The surety was 
sometimes financially ruined by having to meet the obligations of 

Sec Tristram, \Vootl, \o\vack. 


the debtor (BS. 29 18 - 19 ), and was thus at the mercy of the latter, 
who might throw him into the hands of the creditor ; the bad 
men of the Grk. in v. 3 appear to be creditors. Probably all of a 
man s property might be pledged for debt ; whether there was a 
homestead-exemption law is uncertain, nor does it appear whether 
the debtor could be sold as a slave. 

6-11. Against sloth. The example of the ant is adduced, 
and the sluggard warned that poverty will overtake him. The 
tone is perhaps satirical ; the passage is a specimen of the popular 
teaching of the sages. The parallel passage, 24 3(K!4 , does not 
adduce the ant, but describes the neglected condition of the slug 
gard s field, and has the same conclusion as our section : 24 :a34 = 
lit. 6 ia u . The two paragraphs are variations on the same theme ; 
both have taken the ending from the same source (some familiar 
expression, or some earlier collection of aphorisms, now lost), or 
one has borrowed from the other. In either case our passage has 
a clearer unity than that of ch. 24, in which our v. 9 must be intro 
duced before v. 33 in order to connect the conclusion with what 
precedes. Bickell so transfers v. 9 , and omits v. 10 - 11 as identical 
with 24 s3 - 34 ; but both sections must be retained entire as parallel 
passages, with the possibility that one has borrowed from the 
other. Obviously our section does not belong in its present 
place, though when and how it was misplaced we cannot say ; 
the change was made early, since the Versions here accord with 
the Hebrew. Cf. BS. 22 1 - 2 . 

6. Go to the ant, thou sluggard, 
Consider her ways and be wise. 

7. She, having no chief, 
Overseer, or ruler, 

8. Provides her food in summer, 
Gathers her provision in harvest-time. 

9. How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? 
When wilt thou rise from thy slumber? 

10. A little sleep, a little slumber, 

A little folding of the hands to rest 

11. So shall thy poverty come as a highwayman, 
And thy want as an armed man- 

6. Progressive, ternary. (Y. 30- . On the ant in proverbial 
literature see Malan on this verse.* On the habits of the animal 
see I .nivl. Brit., Danvin in Jonrn. of Linnaean Soc. VI. 21, I.ub- 
bock, Ants, /ices, an,/ 1 1 \isfs. \Vhut particular specie.-, is here 
meant is uncertain; cf. Tristram, .Yd/. Hist, of the /> / />/<-. Tin- 
term s/ii^u-,/ appears to belong to the parenetic vocabulary of 
OT. ; it occurs only in 1 roverbs. But the observation of the 
habits of the ant and its use as an example of industry may be 
old; cf. i K. 4 : " (5 1;! ). 7. Synonymous, ternary-binary. The 
three terms employed are here used as synonymous, though they 
have their different shades of meaning. The first is employed in 
OT. of both civil and military leaders (Ju. 1 1" Isa. f) the second 
denotes a sort of roll-officer, who keeps a list of names and super 
intends the men at their work, in peace or in war (Kx. 5 l)t. 20" 
2 Chr. 19") ; the third is a general term for ruler, royal or other 
(i K. 4- [ 5 J Isa. 16 Jer. 5 1 4 "). Ants are said by recent writers 
to have an elaborate social organization, sometimes with king and 
queen, sometimes with a slave-class acquired (as by the termites 
or white ants) by capture and forced to do the work of the com 
munity. This organization seems to have been unknown to the 
ancients (Aristotle, De Anim., I. i. n, calls them anarchal, with 
out government), though Aelian (in his History of Animals, third 
cent, of our era) speaks of their leaders and nobles. This verse 
is omitted by Bickell as a prosaic gloss, which weakens the com 
parison and introduces the irrelevant consideration of govern 
mental direction irrelevant because men are industrious not by 
pressure of rulers, but from regard to their private interests. The 
second and third points are not well taken : social organization 
certainly helps human industry, and our writer says that ants, with 
out this advantage, set men a good example. The argument from 
lack of poetic form has more weight, the verse is not a complete 
couplet, but we can hardly throw it out on that account. (Irk. 
makes it a triplet, and possibly some word or phrase has fallen out 
of the Heb. text. 8. Synonymous, ternary. The vbs. proride 
(lit. establish, prepare} and ga flier here amount to the same thing, 
and the nouns food and provision are synonyms. The word ren- 



dered summer \$ sometimes used for the warm season in general, as 
opposed to winter (Gen. 8" ^ 74 17 )> extending apparently through 
harvest-time (Jer. 8 L> "), sometimes for the latter part of the fruit- 
season (Isa. 28 4 Jer. 4O W ). Hat-vest also is temporally indefinite, 
varying with the crop, from March (barley, 2 S. 21 - ) to September 
(grapes, Isa. i8 s ). The two clauses are identical in meaning; 
the sense is not that the ant does one thing in summer and an 
other in harvest-time. Nor is it intended to express progress in 
the action (by the different Heb. verb-forms) : begins to provide in 
summer, completes the gathering in autumn. The structure of the 
other verses of the section points to an identical parallelism here. 
As to the industrial habit spoken of in the verse, the latest 
authorities hold that some species of ant are graminivorous and 
store up food ; for the modern opinion see the works cited above, 
and for ancient statements see Malan. Grk. adds : Or, go to the 
bee and learn how diligent she is and how seriously she docs her 
W ork her products kings and private persons use for health 
she is desired and respected by all though feeble in body, by honor 
ing wisdom she obtains distinction. The addition comes from a 
Grk. scribe (it is probably a gloss which has got into the text) 
who thought that the other industrious insect ought not to go 
unraentioned. Elsewhere in OT. (Isa. y 18 Dt. i 44 $ nS 12 ) the bee 
is introduced as hostile to man ; the word does not occur in the 
Heb. text of Proverbs. 9. Synonymous, ternary. It is agri 
cultural life that the description is dealing with (cf. 24"), in which 
early rising is a necessity.* Cf. the Eng. early to bed and early to 
rise, etc., and many such popular sayings; Persius v. 132-134 re 
sembles our passage in form. 10. Synonymous (or, continuous), 
binary (or, binary-ternary). The sluggard s reply, or continua 
tion of the remonstrance of the sage. The repetition of a little is 
perh. intended to give a humorous coloring, but may be meant 
simply as a serious description. Cf. the babbling words put into 
the drunkards mouths in Isa. 28 10 . The second clause is lit. 
a little folding of the hands to lie, that is, to lie comfortably, to 
compose one s self to sleep. The same phrase in Eccl. 4 signi- 

* Early rising was, however, the general rule in ancient life; see Plato, Laws, 
vii. pp. 807, 808; Arist., Econ. i. 6; Juv., vii. 222 ff. 

VI. S-I2 


fies stupid inactivity. 11. Synonymous, ternary. HighwayM !;; 
is roadster, wayfarer, the implication being that his purpose is 
bail ; the term, like Kng. highway/nan, belongs to a time when 
travelling was not safe, when men who frequented the public roads 
were likely to be robbers (cf. RV.). Armed man, lit. man until a 
shield, perhaps a wandering soldier out of service (Oort), more 
probably simply a dangerous assailant. Poverty, properly (as 
result of sloth) a negative thing, lack of goods, is personified as a 
powerful and ruthless enemy who destroys or carries off one s sub 
stance. Instead of shicldman Grk. has swift runner (apparently 
representing a different Heb. text from ours), which offers a formal 
but not a real parallel to the wayfarer of first clause. Grk. (fol 
lowed by Vulg.) further adds : but if tJwu be diligent, th\ harvest 
will conic as a fountain, and want will depart as a bad runner 
the contrast to the preceding statement, and probably from a Grk. 

12-15. The mischief maker rebuke of mischievous talk 
and hints. The tone is curt and sharp, the rhythm irregular; 
the vocabulary perhaps points to a late period. 

12. A wicked man, a bad man 

Deals in false speech, 
15. Winks with his eyes, scrapes with his feet, 

Signs with his lingers, 

14. Devises mischief in his mind, 
Is always sowing discord. 

15. Therefore of a sudden shall calamity strike him, 
Suddenly shall he be crushed, and that without remedy. 

In this translation the second line of v. u appears as merely one 
item in the indictment, but the paragraph may also be translated : 
a wicked man . . . dealing witli . . . winking . . . scraping 
signing . . . devising . . . is always soiling discord, the last ex 
pression giving the result of the preceding acts ; this construction 
does not modify the general sense. 

12. Parallels, ternary. The two adjectives are synonymous, 
expressing general depravity; the first (Heb. man of i Hal} 
occurs in ]6 jr 19-", the second (Heb. man of badness or iniquity} 
in 6 18 io -" J 17 , etc. The term belial usually means deep depravity 


(not merely worthlessness) ; in two passages, t// i8 4(5) 4i 8(9) , appar 
ently utter ruin (cf. Cheyne, Psalms}. Instead of son of Belial 
(Ju. 19-, etc.) the rendering should be wicked man. Speech is 
lit. mouth the fault denounced is evil talk. Grk. and Syr., 
however, omitting mouth have walks in ways that are not good, 
and this may be the right reading ; the false of the Heb. would 
then be denned in v. 13 - 14 ; cf. 4**. Mouth may be understood as 
expressing the man s whole thought. The first line is by some 
expositors (Saadia, Zock., a!.) taken as a separate sentence : a 
worthless [properly wicked] man is the deceiver, which is possi 
ble, but does not agree so well with the structure of the paragraph. 
13. Three binary clauses. Gestures indicating the spirit of 
malice and mischief. Movement of the eyes occurs in io 10 BS. 27- 
as sign of mischief, in v/> yj* as sign of exultation ; cf. the Arab, 
saying (attributed to Ali) O God, pardon us the culpable winking 
of the eye (De.), and see other parallels in Malan. The second 
verb is rendered in the Grk. by gives signs, in Targ. and Syr. by 
stamps, in Aq., Sym., Vulg. (in accordance with a Talmudic use of 
the word) by rubs (scrapes, shuffles) : in any case the movement 
is a mark of enmity, perhaps a sign to a confederate ; the render 
ing speaks (RV.) is here inappropriate, though the verb elsewhere 
has that meaning. Signing (lit. teaching) with the fingers is a 
universal gesture, of various import, here mischievous, contemptu 
ous, etc. ; for the sense show see Gen. 46 - 8 Ex. 15" . For other 
inimical movements of the body see Job i6 iu ". The verse is a 
lively description of the silent, underhand procedures of mischief- 
makers, the hints, suggestions, provocations, and signals that arc 
effective in hatching quarrels or giving insults. 14. Synonymous, 
ternary. A direct statement of what is implied in the preced 
ing verses. The man occupies himself with devising mischievous 
schemes, in private and public relations ; in second cl. Grk. has 
makes disturbances in the city, a fuller statement of what the Heb. 
suggests. In the Heb. text the verse reads : Evil is in his mind 
[lit. heart}, he devises mischief continually, he spreads strifes, a 
triplet which may be reduced to a couplet by the omission of one 
word (mischief) ; the change does not affect the sense. Evil, = 
mischief, is in the most general sense departure from good ; see 
note on 2 12 , evil and wrong. 15. Synonymous, quaternary. The 

VI. I2-IO 


penalty. The writer s sense of the seriousness of the vice described 
is indicated by the abrupt, vehement, almost fierce, declaration of 
punishment. On calamity, see note on i ljl! . The two Ileb. terms 
for sudden are synonyms; the first occurs in 24-- (it is better 
omitted in 3-" ), the second in 29 (the second cl. of which is 
identical with second cl. of our verse note the difference be 
tween the offences in the two verses). Crushed is lit. broken, = 
destroyed ; see Jer. i; 1 * Kz. 32 -* Lam. i 1 Dan. S - \ The blow is 
irremediable, that is, it is death. The agency of destruction is 
not stated ; the writer s view doubtless was that it might come 
from (iod directly, by sickness, etc., or indirectly, through the 
enemies, private and public, that a mischief-maker naturally raises 
up against himself. Sudden death was regarded as a great mis 
fortune, and as a sign of divine anger, since it sent the man irre 
trievably to Sheol (see 2 1!) ), where he could never gain a position 
of favor with God. 

16-19. A list of seven things hateful to God. The section 
is similar to those in 3o"" ;1 in its arithmetical enumeration, and to 
6 1 - - 15 in its subject-matter and rhetorical form (absence of com 
parisons) ; by the nature of its contents it appropriately follows 
v. 1 -- ". The things enumerated belong all together ; they portray 
the character of the man who schemes to despoil and ruin his 

1 6. There are six things that Yaluveh hates, 
\ ea, seven are an abomination to him: 

17. FlauLjhty eyes, a lyinjj tongue, 

And hands that shed innocent blood, 
I 8. A mind that devises wicked schemes, 

l eet that make haste to do harm,* 
19. A false witness who utters lies, 

And he who sows discord ainoni; brethren. 

16. Progressive (substantially synonymous), ternary. The se- 
quence six, seven does not imply that the seventh thing is an after 
thought, or inferior in importance to the others ; it is a rhetorical 
form, equivalent to our six or seren, arithmetically indefinite, im 
plying that the enumeration does not exhaust the list of tilings 


coming under a particular category ; cf. notes on 30" 1S . Between 
the expressions Yahwch hates and abomination to him there is no 
difference of meaning; on abomination see note on f 1 . The 
sense of the verse is : God hates and abominates a number of 
things, namely. 17. Parallels, ternary. Haughty eyes; so 30". 
Haughtiness is naturally expressed by the eyes (cf. Lat. super- 
cilium); see ^ 131. In ^ IS - 17 28 the expression characterizes 
Israel s proud and oppressive enemies, whom Yahweh will bring 
down. More generally in Isa. 2 1M; io 33 Job 21- 38 15 all lofty 
things are conceived of as standing in antagonism to God and 
therefore destined to be overthrown (cf. the Greek representation 
of the deity as jealous of powerful men, Prometheus and Poly- 
crates of Samos, and the Hindu stories of Indra s fear of certain 
Munis) . This national point of view remains to the end of OT. 
(Daniel), in Apocryphal books (Ben-Sira, Mace., etc.), and in the 
Talmud, but does not appear in Pr. ; in our verse it is individual 
moral feeling that is spoken of haughtiness, put alongside of 
falsehood and murder, is to be understood as implying disregard 
of human rights and divine laws it is excessive conceit of and 
regard for one s own person. Instead of innocent blood we 
might render by the blood of the innocent (or, righteous] as in 
Dt. i9 10 J er - X 9 4 ; the meaning is the same. 18. Parallels, ter 
nary. The expression wicked schemes might be understood in a 
wide sense as including all plans and plots that are opposed to the 
right, but here refers particularly to harmful plots. The Heb., in 
second line, reads : make haste to run, which means not swiftness 
in running (RV. after the Vulg.) but haste in beginning to run, 
eagerness to seize on every opportunity to engage in wickedness ; 
the picture of eagerness contained in the word haste is heightened 
by the term run (instead of walk) ; cf. ^ i47 1G . The Grk. omits 
;-//;/, reading/*/ hastening to do ill; cf. i" 1 , where only one verb is 
employed in each clause ; as the run is unnecessary, the Grk. text 
is probably to be preferred. 19. Parallels, ternary. The second 
cl. is identical in meaning with v. I41) , brethren being taken as = 
friends or associates, members of the same circle the suggestion 
is that there is no occasion or temptation to sow dissensions except 
among persons whose mutual relations are amicable. The mean- 
in" of first cl. is plain, but its form is doubtful. In 14" , where the 

o * 

VI. 1 6-19 I2Q 

Heb. text recurs, it is properly rendered a false witness utters lies 
(and so the Grk. here), but this is out of keeping with the syntacti 
cal form in the other verses we expect a subject defined by fol 
lowing words. Similar objections hold to other translations of our 
Heb. text : he who utters lies is a false witness (cf. for the con 
struction Keel. i ls , but here the resulting identical proposition is 
out of the question, and the declarative sentence is out of keeping 
with the context) ; he who utters lies as a false witness* is hard 
and improbable, and so the appositional rendering he who utters 
lies, a false witness, and he who utters lies, false testimony. The 
cl. is not in proper shape, and it seems better, with Syr. and Targ., 
to invert the Heb. order and translate by a false witness who 
utters lies, | which accords in form with the rest of the section. 
For the thought cf. i2 17 14 " -" and 19 ;| 25 ls ; for laws against false 
testifying see Kx. 20" (= Dt. 5-") Dt. 19 " Lev. 6 :! (5 -"- ). The 
expression witness of falsity (as the Heb. reads) is parallel to 
tongue of falsity in v. 1 . 

1. 1i) "-, attested by all Vrss., omitted by F>i., as marring the rhythm; 
without it we have only two ictus in the line. The force of the CX, which 
extends to end of \-.-, is confined by (5 to v. la . li) plu. sr; read sing., with 
(SSiTlL, as the sense requires. 2. Taken by 6 as ground (yap) for the 
statement of v. 11 (7rapa5w<ms), and written in 3 pers. a divergent text which 
does not agree with the context so well as li). The repetition of i-x in 11) is 
strange, and so also the similar repetition, xa X?/, xet\e<7ii , in (3; as the x^ 7 ? 
pro!), had a Ileb. basis, it is better to write TD- in second line of li); p^/xacrt 
inst. of x e ^-. s given in 1I-I 147 (161 suprascript.), 252, 297, and C ompl. 
(and \6y<f> in Arm.), which may be a correction after li), or a rhetorical varia 
tion. < )n iSiov = eai ToO see Deissmann, BibelstuJ., pp. I2off. 3. |ll S > T "\ 
see note on v 1 . In :l (3 a tyu crot fVT^\\ seems to be free rendering 
of ]i) X12X rx-, hardly = TSX; s X f ^P as KO-KUV in , = 3""" 1 H--. > s prob. doub 
let (possibly the orig. (Irk. reading), the It) text being represented by 5ia aov 
(pi\oi>; iffOi (in ) is peril, scribal error for it)i, which reading is found in codd. 
B :>1 A (see Lag. s n.). li) D3-i-n; (J5 ^ tK\v6/j.evos, 11 fcftiua ; S2T render 
the two vbs. of li) freely by s< :t J->.) arouse therefore, apparently giving no 
separate word for |i) TI; and in a xiex is not rendered at all. i;-i and V^, 
difference of orthography. To make the reference in yyi clear (? adds 
o tveyvr]<ju. 4. (ir. suggests 3 pers., instead of 2 pers., for the suffix.- 
5. li) T-, here impossible (used in rabbin. Heb. as = offhand, inline Jiately~] ; 
the expression occurs isolated elsewhere only I K. 2O 4 - where it is error for 

* Ew., De., Now., Zdck., Sir., Kampli. t KV. Xoyes, Reuss. 



TV12 (see (5); here we must either supply a word, as -vs (RV., Bott.) or no 
(Gr., Str.), or better, with @C, Oort, Bi., write ns for -p; Kamp. transfers 
the i of -vasal to T, . . . as a gazelle from his hand, as a bird, etc., which is 
simple, but does not account for <5 Ppbxwv or secure parallelism with C -v; 
this last is omitted in <, but is favored by the rhythm. For the second -v 
several Heb. codd. have ne. 6-11. The style of <5 in this section is freer 
than in most other passages; the text is often rather a paraphrase than a 
translation a result perh. of the secular and homely nature of the subject- 
matter. 6. 1$ nScj, (5 ntpwt, & ?n ; !=ViT or jcr-iu , S pu ii: (Arab. CDSD) ; 
the origin of the Heb. word is unknown. The tfXuarov and t/<eivov ffotpwrc- 
pos of are rhetorical expansion. ^ ; S paraphrase by NSinn imitate. 
S> omits |E? Ss>, and transfers Dam to next verse. 7. fl? psp; <5 7607/37101;, not 
= Aram, pap (Lag.), but free rendering of -vsp (which SC read instead of 

f^xp). $? "? ; 2 7payu/zaT<?a. 8. The variation of vb.-forms is rhetorical. 

On the terms in the addition in (5 see Lag. s note. 9. $ oipn; (5 ABSa( 
tyepSfcv, as in Ju. 2 1U - 18 , perh. = rpr% cf. Pr. 6**. 10. Oort suggests that 
332>S is dittogram from aas-n S of preceding verse, but the word is in sense 
and rhythm appropriate; it was perh. lacking in Heb. text of (5, hardly (Oort, 
Baumg.) read o^tt S (ffr^d-r)} ; cf. Pinkuss note. <S makes the v. an ad 
dress to the sluggard, and in n has an additional cl., 6\lyov 8t icd6i)ffa.i, B?D 
asr, probably expansion of Grk. scribe (the Heb. rhythm is against it) or here 
introduced by error from b (cf. remark above on 33^). 11. H l^nr, writ 
ten -rSnpD in 24 34 . tt Ni (2*^), a favorite word in Pr., though T; (u ), 
jrax, Si, also occur a number of limes. The v. is variously rendered in the 
Vrss. H l^nn is explained in (5 as Ka*6s 65onr6pos, and is taken by <SC, 
against the parallelism, as vb., iD-n>m will assault thee ; ty p3 C"N, ffi tyaMt (and in the added couplet Kac6s 5po/uei>s), S3T NI^ D N13J <z qitick 
(alerf) man, - J= y J tt"N (Lag., Oort) or better inn t^^ (Baumg.), neither of 
which readings seems preferable to that of p? (with which 11 agrees). The 
additional couplet in <@ is doublet of $; on its Heb. text see Hitz., Lag., 
Baumg. In 24** <5 (like &) renders C by TrpoTropevo^vri, and in b S9T have 
NiSa-J tabellariits, courier ( Spo^ei/s). ^ appears to have in mind the vio 
lence of the armed robber, 6SC the swiftness of the traveller or courier. 
12. |$ aiN is not elsewhere followed by defining subst., and De., Str., therefore 
take rj Sa as adj. (cf. constr. in n 7 ), but, as this is hardly allowable, we must 
either write tyx, as in i6 27 , or accept this phrase as proof that ais may be fol 
lowed by defining subst. $ ^ l 1 ??; for the two defining terms (of |0) (5 has 
&4>pwv and irapdvoiAos (103, 253: irapdv. and &<j>puv}, and 3 may here be rep 
resented by the latter (which is its more usual representative); > vhy> folly; 
xc^ J oppression; !L apostata (so elsewhere Aq.). S^Sa occurs 27 times 
in Mas. text of OT., and further apparently, according to <@, in I Sam. 29, 
perhaps also (Cheyne) in ^ 52 (always as subst.), and = wickedness every 
where except Nah. i 11 2 1 ^ i8 5 (= 2 Sam. 22 5 ) 4i 9 , where it = ruin, destruc 
tion (= deatK). The origin of the word is doubtful. It has commonly been 
regarded as a compound, the first element being the neg. ^Sa, the second ele- 

VI. 5-H 131 

merit being s ", or some form of rp; 1 or s ; \ An early Jewish explanation is 
reflected in the apostate of Aq. IL, = ^ -; -s-j wit/tout yoke, disobedience (so 
Sanhcd. iu/<). From n 1 ? 4 , 4 : one does not ascend, ~ moral lowness (Kimchi) ; 
or, <>;/ </<v.f ;/( / ;/.> (or, emerge ), = ruin (so Lai;., Proph. Chald. XI A" 1 1, 
on i// 41 : [sickness] /rtw which one does not rise, suggesting I^T instead 
of "O^) ; and, more generally, [the depth] from which one does not come up 
(Cheyne, Expositor, June, 1895, b aethgen, llalevy), = Sheol (Jl)Michaelis). 
From "V : no profit, ivorthhssness (like r>i lS 2 ignorance, ami cu 1 I ra 
namelessncss, and cf. s >" 1 is 1 " 4 , Jer. 2 11 , = worthless [foreign] god), in moral 
sense, like px (desert, and most modern expositors). The word is possibly 
not a compound. It has been proposed to connect it with Babylonian Bilil, 
a goddess of the Underworld* (Cheyne, Expos. Times, June, 1897); "^ lL r!J 
($ iS 5 ) would then = streams of Sheol, and 2 v ^ jx = servants of Bilil, = 
44 bad men. This last rendering cannot be accepted, since the Underworld 
and its deities had no ethical significance for the ancient Semites; but it is 
conceivable that in // l8 5 (if the // be postexilic) an original L " L O Bilil 
( Sheol) was changed by an editor into the familiar hy^i purposely or by 
error. Yet the meaning ruin (= death) accords satisfactorily with the parallel 
terms in the \f/, and the character of the deity Bilil is at present too uncertain 
to rest an argument on. Cf. Mich., Supplementa, s.v. s ; 44 ; Baudissin in Herzog, 
A /: 3 ., and in Expos. Times, November, 1897; Cheyne in Expos. Times, Decem 
ber, 1897, May, 1898; Moore, Judges, on Ju. 19--. The derivation from the 
noun v appears to be the most probable; the two elements came to be writ 
ten as one word, like moSs. Cf. the various combinations with negatives in 
Ileb. (121 N S <?; N S ), and the use of the Ass. bain, as noun = nonentity, as 
prep. = wit/iout. lief. P C p" ins. 2 (so I>i.). li) ns ;; (f5 65oi)s OVK dyaOds, 
perh. after i6- 9 (Jag.); no is omitted in 5, and Oort for 3 writes nr, which he 
transfers to next v. to represent (565 avrbs . The stem ; , subst. or adj., 
occurs in |t) with way in 2 15 28, with heart 1 1- I j-" 1 , with /// 19 , with inoiitk 
here and 4 - 4 ; ~\^ would here agree well with the following context, but no 
serious objection in this regard can be made to nc; (5 and |i) represent par 
allel texts. 13. K. ;" and s .n, sing., and so (5; O plu., jierh. better; 
IL strangely ondis, pede, and digito. |i) SS 1T, (S ff^fJ-aivei, .iT D2P, 3L Av/V, 
A rplfiwv, S Trposrpifiuv, the most appropriate sense is r/ , stamp, scrape, not 
found elsewhere in OT., but well attested in Talm. ; whether there is any con 
nection between this and the sense speak is uncertain. 11) miT, (5 5t5dcrKfi, 
5iT i 4 :" 4 ; /i l-?^ = show, give indications (on relation between senses teach and 
////-<w in m- see SS., 1)1)15.). 14. 11) is supported by the Yrss., exc. that (5 adds 

* As Underworld deity she appears only in a mutilated passage in the Descent 
of Ishtur, where she seems to be the sister of Ishtar (ef. Jensen, Kosmologie, p. 225). 
The form Bilili occurs in a list of gods in pairs, who are invoked thus : " in the 
name of Alala and Bililu may it be conjured away!" Otherwise only the fern, 
form nililitiim is found (G. A. Reisner) ; cf. M. Jastrow, Relig. of liabylonia and 
Assyria, pp. 417, 589. 


at end of b ir6\ei (H-P 106 TroXXds), perh. expansion of Grk. scribe, less prob 
ably = nj-]D3 (after JiJ 3?" 1 -) or iy (from foil. S; ). As b ends with Partcp., 
there is some ground for so ending a and omitting y-<, which here produces 
rhythmical limping (so Bi.) and is not necessary for the sense; cf. the bal 
anced phrases in the similar v. 18 . Saadia (cd. Derenbourg) takes msam in 
sense of change of mind. K. a^ic, O_ C jnc; sing, is always written jnc, 
plu. 3 times o^ic (twice 6 19 io 12 , without Q), elsewhere K. C jrc, O o^jna 
(a late, probably academic, attempt to bring out the Yod of the stem) ; on 
Mas. text see notes in B-D on 6 14 25 24 , and on the form Ew., 54 </ locu/, 
Ols., 203 b. For rfrv Gr. reads vr^\ whispers. 15. <5 takes y.ifl and 
13S" as substantives; in OT. 3 occurs as subst. only with prep, and in sense 
of a moment. 16. njn cannot be Dem. adj. (these six or those six), but is 
(cf. 3O 18 - 24 - 29 ) either pred., six things are those, with following rel. cl. (so 
apparently J53T1L) , or as subj., six they are what Y. hates ; in ch. 30 the pron. 
is better taken as appositional subject. For irir (@> read Sri: 1 (Jag.), xcupti, 
and 13B" (Lag. = latt i) or -or:, a-vvrpt^erai, for yiry (or ya^ i). Read sing. 
najriP, as in marg. 18. $} V^S lacking in <5, is omitted by Lag. as scribal 
error (pS wrongly written for jnS), and by Bi. as tautological; it is not 
necessary, and is probably error (though the combination of nine and p is 
found in \p I47 15 , and pS may easily have fallen out of the Heb. text of ). 
19. rr>D , as to its form, might be taken as subst. and pointed as in stat. const.; 
but common nouns made by pref. Yod are rare, the resulting sense (a breather 
of lies, a false witness, so IL), though possible, would not accord very well with 
the context (in the other cases mentioned the appositional construction does 
not occur), and the Vrss. (exc. Saad. who apparently understands it as Inf.) 
take > as vb. The cl. seems to be taken from or assimilated to I4 5 (where it 
is in good form), and should here be inverted, as in 5>(E; cf. I2 17 . iv is taken 
as abstr. by Saad. Gr. The omission of ipB> ij? would leave an unsatisfactory 
sentence. " is well rendered in (gABaj. by tKKalei (H-P 103 ^x^O- nl7 ir D > 
Gr. B>nSc, as in v. 14 . D Jic, see note on v. 14 ; it is lacking in j&. 

20-35. Warning against the adulteress. We here return 
to the material proper to this Division (chs. 1-9). This subsec 
tion connects itself immediately with ch. 5, having the same gen 
eral theme. First comes commendation of parental instruction 
(v. 20 21 ), then apparently of wisdom (v. 22 - 23 ), especially as safeguard 
against the adulteress who brings misfortune to her victim (v. 24 " 29 ), 
he getting only wounds and dishonor (v. 30 " 33 ) through the outraged 
husband s anger (v. 34 - 35 ). The section is similar to 2 16 - 19 5. 7. 8 13 " 18 . 
These may all have been composed by one man (since there is 
great resemblance between them), or they may have been col 
lected from various sources by an editor. 

VI. 2O-2I 1^3 

20, 21. Commendation of parental instruction. Sec note 

on i " . 

20. Keep, my son, the precept of thy father, 
And reject not the instruction of thy mother. 

21. Bind them continually to thy heart, 
Hang them around thy neck. 

20. Parallels, quaternary-ternary. Parental instruction is iden 
tified with the teaching of the sages ; it is assumed that in the 
well-ordered household father and mother will be wise ; the same 
assumption is made in all commands to honor and obey parents. 
Instruction represents the Heb. word (font) usually rendered !aw. 
The Grk. has plu. in both clauses, laws, ordinances ; the Vulg. pre 
cepts, law. Cast away (the proper sense of the Heb.) = substantially 
forsake (RV.), but is more forcible, = reject. 21. Synonymous, 
ternary-binary. In 3- the teacher s law is to be written on the 
tablets of the heart ; here, with a change of figure, it is to be 
firmly attached to the heart, which is the seat of thought and 
moral and religious life. The figure of second cl. is found in r 
3 :i " , etc. The term continually is used of perpetually recurring 
or repeated acts (as the daily offering in the temple), and so = 
constantly, always, all t/ie time ; see Isa. 57 Jer. 52 " i//- i6 s . The 
plu. than may refer to precept and law (v.-") taken as different 
things, or these terms may have been plu. in the original Heb. 
text (as they are in the Greek). 

In the remainder of the chapter the wording and arrangement 
present difficulties. The sing, pronoun in v.-- points to wisdom 
(or one of its synonyms) as antecedent, as, in fact, in chs. 1-9 
only "wisdom" watches over and leads (2" 2I "- 4 y 4 ) ; but, as 
the text stands, the it (or, she} of v." has no such antecedent. 
We might (with P.ickell) insert, at the beginning of v.~, some 
such line as wisdom will keep tlice ; but this would still leave the 
connection between v. 33 and v. 24 unsatisfactory, for elsewhere (2" 
7") it is not precept or instruction but wisdom or discretion th:it 
saves from the harlot and other destructive persons. Further. 
while the normal arrangement in chs. 1-9 is in quatrains, we here 
have two natural sextets, v.- 4 ~- ! and v.- " 1 " ; Iiickell gets rid ot the 
latter of these by omitting v. -" , and of the former by attaching 
v." 4 to v. 23 (the objection to this procedure is stated above), 


making v. 22 a quatrain. A better emendation would be to omit 
the doubtful couplets v. a! - XJ , and make v." a couplet by the omis 
sion of third line ; and v. 23 , which obviously connects itself with 
the first couplet, should be transposed before v.". 

22-25. Wisdom as guide, and as guard against the harlot. 

23. For precept is a lamp, and instruction is light, 
And the guidance of admonition is the way of life. 

22. When thou walkest she [Wisdom] will lead thee, 
When thou liest down she will watch over thee.* 

24. To preserve thee from the < alien > f woman, 
From the wiles of the stranger s tongue; 

25. Desire not her beauty in thy heart, 

Let her not captivate thee with her eyes. 

23. Synonymous, quaternary. The discourse here turns from 
parental instruction to the idea of instruction and law in general 
(retaining the two terms of v. 2 ") ; the two categories were prob 
ably considered to be identical. Precept and instruction (syn 
onyms) represent the teaching of the sage (cf. 4 2 ), held to be 
based on the divine law. Guidance (RV. reproofs}, plu. in our 
Heb. text, is sing, in Grk. Syr. Targ. Lat., and a number of 
Heb. MSS., and throughout Pr., except here and 2$ ; for the 
meaning see note on i 23 ; and on admonition see note on i 2 . Way 
of life is the course of a long and prosperous earthly life, and the 
conduct that secures it; see 2 1;) 3 2 5" and ^ i6 n , and for similar 
expressions see Job 28" $ 27 36 11(in) Pr. io n i3 u i5 4 al. The 
Syr. and Targ. have guidance and instruction ; Grk., for the pre 
cept of law is a lamp, and a light is [or, is a lamp and a light, ] a 
way of life and guidance and instruction; the Heb. (taking 
guidance as subj. in second cl.) gives a more natural construction. 
22. Parallels, ternary. Similar imagery in 3 2a24 4 12 ; in ^91 
the guidance, here referred to law and instruction or wisdom, is 
ascribed to God. The she (RV. //) can hardly be understood to 
refer to the instruction of v. 23 (see remark above) ; the writer 

* Heb. adds : when thou wakest, she will talk with thee ; see note on this verse 

t Heb. bad (or, evil). 

vi. 21-25 i35 

passes silently to wisdom as subject, or else something (a line or a 
couplet) has been lost from the text. Some commentators, main 
taining the order v."- 2:! , gain an antecedent for she by inserting a 
line as first line: wisdom will (or, shall) guide thee (or, keep 
thee), or, seek wisdom, forsake it not, or, as second line: when 
thou run nest, she will keep thee ; these additions make a quatrain 
of the verse. The present unsymmetrical form may also be got 
rid of by omitting the third line, when t/iou wakest she will tall; 
with thee, which, while it gives an intelligible thought in itself, 
seems unnecessary, since walking and lying down include all of 
one s time (cf. 3~ ! ~ 4 ). The addition may have been made by a 
scribe who, taking liest down (which is really contrast to walkcst ) 
as = steepest, thought it proper to complete the picture by intro 
ducing awaking. The verb talk is here strange ; we expect a syn 
onym of lead. If we keep the triplet, the meaning is: wisdom 
will guide thee in thy active life of the day, guard thee while thou 
liest helpless in sleep, and at thy awaking be with thee to utter 
words of advice. 24. Synonymous, ternary. The special theme 
of the section : the adulteress is the peril against which the aid of 
wisdom is particularly invoked. In first cl. the Heb. has evil 
woman, an appropriate description, but the parallelism suggests 
the reading the wife of another (requiring the change of one 
vowel), as in the (Irk. (married woman}, and v. L>il ; or the sense 
alien (as in 2 11 ) may be got by a slight change of consonants. 
Stranger, as in 5* f , = " wife of another man " ; see note on 2" . 
The harlot, the unmarried licentious woman (or the professional 
prostitute), is mentioned in 6- : 7" 2^- 7 29", but is to be distin 
guished from the unchaste married woman (called adulteress, 30 -", 
and stranger), against whom, as the more dangerous person, a great 
part of chs. 1-9 is directed. She is the more guilty of the two 
because she violates the marriage-vow (2 ) ; the danger from her 
is described below. See note on 2 li; . The social evil here por 
trayed is more particularly appropriate to the postexilian period ; 
the preexilian shrine-prostitute (( .en. ^S- 1 -"- IIos. 4" Dt. 23 ") 
belongs to a very different sort of Israelitish society. 25. Syn 
onymous, ternary-binary. The Heb. connects the two clauses by 
and, and at end of the verse has eyelids instead of eyes, perhaps 
with allusion to the seductive play of eyes (winks, etc., Vulg., 


nods), but the term is generally simply equivalent to eyes, Jer. 
9 M<i-) J O - D l6 ie ^ TI 4 p r 4 a-, 6 4 ; c 3 o 1;i . _ Vulg. / not thy heart 

desire, etc. ; the Grk. interprets first cl., and writes second cl. in 
twofold form : let not desire of beauty overcome thee, neither be 
thou caught by thine eyes nor captivated by her eyelids. 

26. Our Heb. text next gives a couplet of which the second cl. 
(lit. the married woman hunts for the precious life) presents no 
difficulty; for the expression of the predicate cf. Ez. 13" -. 
There is difference of opinion among expositors as to whether the 
harlot of first cl. is synonymous or contrasted with the married 
woman of second cl. ; the latter view (which is that of the Anc. 
Vrss., Ew. al.) is favored by the fact that the two terms are dis 
tinctly contrasted in y 10 , and elsewhere in chs. 1-9 it is always the 
stranger (that is, married woman) against whom men are warned. 
If this view be adopted, the verse does not condone association 
with harlots (Now.), but simply lays stress on the greater harm- 
fulness of the other class of unchaste women (cf. the contrast 
between the thief and the adulterer, v^ 2 ). Text and transla 
tion of first cl. are doubtful. The Heb. reads either for on behalf 
of a harlot to [= as far as~\ a loaf of bread, or, for in exchange 
for a harlot, etc. The first form is adopted by the great mass of 
expositors, who then take on behalf of as = on account of or by 
means of, and supply the expression one [or, a mau~\ is brought 
down [or, comes down].* The objections to this interpretation 
are that the prep, does not mean on account of or by means of, 
and that the assumed omission of the verb is hard and improb 
able ; the prep, may be changed (Gr., Oort), but the difficulty of 
the verb is not thereby removed. The second form appears to 
have been adopted by the Anc. Vrss. (Grk. Syr. Targ. Vulg. 
and also Saad.), which translate substantially: for the price of a 
harlot is a loaf of bread, = in exchange for a harlot [one gives ] a 
loaf of bread, in which the insertion makes a difficulty as in the 
other form, and the sense given to the prep., though found else 
where (Job 2 4 ). is here unnatural and improbable ; this rendering 
of the line may, however, be obtained by a change of text. The 

* So Rashi, Aben Ezra, Schult., Hitz., Do., Now., Reuss, Zock., Noycs, Str., 
Ramp., RV. 

VI. 25-26 t 37 

first translation declares that the harlot brings a man to poverty, 
while the married woman seeks his death ; the second, that one 
pays a small price for the one, a great price for the other. Hither 
of these senses of first cl. is intelligible ; the first agrees better 
with the context, in which the theme is the harm wrought by 
unchaste women. Poverty, it is true, is usually indicated by 
morsel (of bread) instead of loaf (17 28- Oort), but in i S. 2" 
the two terms appear to be used as synonymous. A slight change 
in the Heb. gives the same verb in the two lines : for a harlot 
limits just (or, only} a piece of bread. This gets rid of some of 
the syntactical and other difficulties, and the resulting form has 
the directness and homeliness of a practical aphorism : the ordi 
nary harlot is after subsistence, will deprive a man of his money, 
but not ruin him; the unchaste married woman brings on him 
destructive social (and possibly legal) punishment. That concu 
binage did not bring great social discredit among the Jews of the 
third century i;.c. may be inferred from the story in Jos. .-/;;/. 12, 
4, 6 ; and adultery is here denounced as by far the more dan 
gerous evil. The retribution attending it is loss of physical life, 
either at the hands of the outraged husband, or by the operation 
of law there seems to be no allusion to loss of property, or to 
destruction of bodily powers by dissipation ; see notes on v/ -" ; 
(and cf. Geiger, Urschrift, p. 241). The couplet, however, in 
whatever way it be taken, remains obscure. It is not clear 
whether the two clauses describe two classes of women or only 
one class ; and it is difficult to give a satisfactory translation of 
the first clause. The verse has the appearance of an editorial or 
scribal addition (gloss). We may conjectural!}- translate : 

For the harlot seeks a morsel of bread, 
But the adulteress hunts the precious life; 
or : 

The rest of the chapter deals with the perils which beset the 
adulterer: first an illustration (v.- 7 ~-" p ), then a comparison with 
another crime (v. :; "" :;i ), finally the ground of the peril (v. :;1 " " ). 
While in ch. 2 the sage describes death as the punishment of this 


sin, and in ch. 5 loss of wealth and of social position, he here 
dwells on the revenge taken by the husband of the woman. The 
moral wrong of adultery is of course assumed ; the practical 
moralist lays stress on the penalty as the best way of deterring 
men from the commission of the crime in question. 

27-29. Illustrations of the peril of adultery. 

27. Can one take fire in his lap 
And his clothes not be burned? 

28. Or, can one walk on hot coals 
And his feet not be scorched? 

So with him who has commerce with another man s wife 
Whoso touches her will not go unpunished. 

27. Question, ternary. The same term is used in Heb. of the 
breast or bosom of the body (5 20 ) and of the middle portion of 
the outer garment in which things were kept and carried and on 
which they were laid (so now in Syria and Egypt) ; here the ref 
erence is not to the bosom (De., who improperly cites Isa. 40"), 
but to the lap of the garment ; so in I6 33 the lot is cast into the 
lap. 28. Question, ternary. For coals see 2$- 2 26- 1 ; they were 
of wood (cf. \j/ i20 4 ); in Isa. 6 G a different word is used (hoi 
stone). 29. Single sentence, ternary. Go unpunished or be 
held guiltless or free. Though the statement is general in form, 
the special reference, as appears probable from v.- 50 " 5 " , is to legal 
punishment, or to the husband s vengeance ; here, as in the pre 
ceding paragraph, there does not seem to be any allusion to the 
enervating effects of adultery on body and mind, or to an imme 
diate divine interposition. It is implied that the law is so strict, 
or the husband so determined, that no plea offered by the offender, 
such as provocation, seduction (v. 24 ), or the notorious character 
of the woman, will be accepted. The character of tribunal and 
punishment is not stated.* The couplet gives a natural exposi 
tion of the illustrations of v.- ; - 2S , but it may be omitted without 
detriment to the sense, the consequence being stated in v. 3 2 . 

30-35. Another illustration of the folly of adultery, derived 
from a comparison between the adulterer and the man who steals 

* See note on 5 14 . 

VI. 20 3 139 

to satisfy hunger. The latter may get off by a private money- 
payment (v. :ia;)1 ), the former, by reason of the husband s jealousy, 
cannot make such compensation, is forever disgraced (v. " " ), and 
apparently falls into the hands of the law. 

30. Men do [it is true] despise a thief if he steal 
To satisfy his appetite when lie is hungry; 

31. And, being caught, he must restore sevenfold, 
Must give all the effeets of his house. 

32. Hut he who commits adultery is devoid of sense, 
He destroys himself who so aets. 

33. ]>lows and disgrace he will get, 

And his ignominy will not be wiped away. 

34. For jealousy is fury in a man, 

And he will not have pity in the day of vengeance; 

35. He will not accept any ransom, 

Xor bo content though thou give many gifts. 

30, 31. The first couplet is a single sentence, ternary ; the sec 
ond is synonymous, ternary. The Hcb. reads : men do not despise 
the thief if he steal, etc. This has been understood to mean that 
one who is driven by hunger to steal is pitied but not despised 
his offence is not condoned, but he does not of necessity lose 
social position, and (v. 1 " 1 ) he recovers legal standing by making 
compensation.* No doubt moralists are disposed to make allow 
ance for such cases of theft ; but there is no trace of this leniency 
in OT. (in Jer. 2 LV the thief is disgraced), and moreover, the sage 
here (v. ;;1 ) forgets or ignores the thief s poverty, and represents 
him as a man of property. To avoid this discrepancy some com 
mentators (Now., Str.) regard the two couplets as describing two 
different cases, that of the hungry thief, who is not despised, and 
that of the ordinary thief, who has to make restitution, the two 
categories corresponding respectively to v. :; - : " ; (disgrace) and \v" ; " 
(no money-compensation). \Ve should thus have the contrast : 
" a thief may escape disgrace, or may get off by payment of 
money ; an adulterer does not escape disgrace, or get off by such 
payment." This contrast is not expressed in the text there is 
no change of subject in v. :; " :;l ; and there is, further, the doubt 


whether this lenient view of the hungry thief is probable. The 
first couplet may be read as a question (Hitz., Frank., a/.) : do not 
men despise, etc. ?, men despise, etc. The contrast will then be : 
" a thief suffers disgrace, but escapes with loss of money ; an 
adulterer gets disgrace and blows, and no money-payment atones 
for his offence." This seems to be the better interpretation of 
the contrasted fortunes of thief and adulterer. The discrepancy 
between v. 30 and v. 31 remains ; it must be regarded as an over 
sight of the author, or the Heb. text must be so changed as to 
indicate the two classes of thieves referred to above. The ren 
dering : men do not overlook a thief though he steal, etc. (Ew., 
Zock., Noyes) is not warranted (the verb does not mean overlook), 
and loses the main contrast of the paragraph. The similar phra 
seology in Cant. 8 7 , // one should offer to give all the substance of 
his house for love, he would be iitterly despised (that is, his offer 
would be rejected with contempt), might suggest the translation: 
men do not contemptuously repulse ( = reject the offer of} a thief if, 
stealing to satisfy appetite and being caught, he offer to restore, etc. ; 
but this is hardly a natural rendering of the Hebrew. In the 
earliest law-book the rule is that the thief, when caught, shall pay, 
according to circumstances, double, fourfold, or fivefold (Ex. 22 1 4 7 
[2 r s7 22 3 - ]), and there are similar rules for fraud (Ex. 22 n(8 
Lev. 6 W [s 20 " 24 ]) ; on payment of the mulct the thief recovered 
legal standing. The sevenfold in our passage points, perhaps, to 
a change in the law, but it is more probable that the reference is 
not to a legal penalty, but to a private arrangement with the 
injured person, and that the seven is a round number, = very 
large; the " sevenfold restitution " is then explained as possibly 
amounting to all the effects (or, substance } of his house. The 
phrase when he is hungry is omitted by Bickell as a gloss ; it is 
not logically necessary, but is a not unnatural poetical expansion. 
The Heb. terms rendered steal and thief involve secrecy and 
not violence or malignancy (2 Sam. i9 r<(4) Hos. y 1 Joel 2" Job 4 12 ) ; 
for violent procedure other words* are employed. V." ln is ren 
dered in Grk. Syr. Targ. // is not wonderful if, etc. ; Vulg. // is 
no great offence, etc. ; these translations may be free renderings of 

VI - 31-33 141 

our Ileb. text. 32-35. The folly of the adulterer in provoking 
the wrath of the injured husband. 32. Synonymous, ternary. 
He is a fool {devoid of sense, lit. of mind or heart] because he 
dcstro\s himself ; how this is done is indicated in the following 
verses. The rendering destroys his 0701 son! ( RV. <//.) conveys a 
wrong impression by suggesting moral and spiritual depravation 
and destruction an idea correct in itself, but not here expressed. 
The writer doubtless held adultery to be a crime against society 
and against the adulterer s own moral being ; but, instead of speak 
ing of the necessity of preserving the purity of the family and the 
individual (considerations which generally have little force against 
passion), he employs what he regards as the most effective argu 
ment the appeal to self-interest : an adulterer, he says, is (even 
compared with a thief) a fool. The second cl. may be rendered 
(but not so well) he who would destrov himself so acts (Targ., 
RV.), or, with slight change of text, he works destruction for fiim- 
.<r//" ((irk. Vulg.). 33. Synonymous, ternary. The retribution 
follows. According to the old law the punishment of adultery 
was death for both parties (Dt. 22--"- Lev. 20" ; cf. Kz. 23 4 "" 47 
the character of the penalty in the old ordeal of Xu. $ U ~- J is doubt 
ful). Later the rigor of the law appears to have been relaxed; 
in Ben-Sira 23 ^- nothing is said of death, and Jno. S 1 seems to 
recognize the possibility of other than capital punishment (as in 
fact the woman goes free). In our verse (as in v. ::1 ) it may be 
that it is not legal punishment that is meant. The outraged hus 
band might prefer not to parade his wrong in the courts he 
might deal with the offender himself by the simple method of 
bodily chastisement (Hows}, though this was possibly a public 
form of punishment (cf. BS. 23- ). In any case, as the thing 
became known, the criminal would suffer indelible ignominy. As 
the paragraph is dealing particularly with the male offender, there 
is no reference to the penalty which might be inflicted on the 
woman. In later times divorce, either public: or private (cf. 
Mt. i 1: ), lay within the power of the husband, and it is probable 
that this mode of redress existed when our chapter was written, 
and is here assumed as possible. But the moral interests of the 
unchaste woman are not considered in chs. 1-9 ; she is treated 
simply as an evil to be avoided, and was in law largely a chattel of 


the husband. In the regard of showing no sympathy with the 
unchaste woman Prov. is not peculiar it has been the general 
rule in most communities up to the present day. The feeling 
underlying it apparently is that such a woman is merely a tempter, 
and must be utterly depraved. Somewhat higher ethically is the 
sympathy expressed by Ptahhetep, Instructions, 37 (see Art. 
Egypt. Literature, in Library of the World s Best Literature} . 
34. Synonymous, binary (or, binary-ternary). The sense of first 
cl. is : jealousy enrages a man (or husband) ; Grk. : the fury (or, 
spirit) of her husband is full of jealousy ; Vulg. : jealousy and a 
man s fury (or a man s jealousy and fury} will not spare, etc. On 
the power of jealousy see I4 30 27* Cant. 8. The day of vengeance 
may be either private or legal. The sage uses the common fact 
of the husband s rage as a warning. On the ordeal of Nu. 5 see 
note on preceding verse. On the power of the Jewish congrega 
tion see note on 5". 35. Synonymous, ternary. It is assumed 
that the adulterer (like the thief, v. 31 ) will attempt to escape pun 
ishment, public or private, by the payment of money as compen 
sation or bribe either the law allowed such compensation at the 
time, or it is supposed that the husband will not go to law. Ran 
som (lit. core ring of a fault) is the general term for anything 
offered or prescribed in lieu of punishment, whether as legal sat 
isfaction (Ex. 2I 30 Nu. 35 31 Job 33 24 Pr. 13" 2i 18 ) or as bribe 
(Am. 5 12 ). The second cl. explains that the compensation here 
meant is in money or its equivalent. The general case is here 
stated ; there might be exceptions, but ordinarily the husband 
would be relentless, and the adulterer is a fool to run such a risk 
the thief may escape, but not the adulterer. 

20, 21. Between the Ileb. sing, nouns and the Grk. plu. in v. 21 there is 
little to choose. |tj aS, <S / UXT?. 22. On the inversion of v. 22 - 23 see note 
above on v.~- 24 . $1 "l n}< n nj~; <5 (followed in part by j) ^07011 avryv K. 
fiera crov terra;, = ins nnjn (Jag.), or the second part is doublet, = ins rvn?. 
3L gradianliir and custodiant, to conform the number to that of v. 21 . Bi. 
inserts at beginning -pxn xn DJ ncrm; see note above on v. 2 -. In third line 
<5 is free rendering of $J. For |ty -jrvaTi Gr. suggests ir^c ir. 23. |i) plu. 
nviDir-; read sing, with <& Xe7xos, but i (<S fat) should not be inserted before 
\Dir; Cl. Al. I54 19 (cited by Lag.) has A^7x. makes two clauses instead 
of three : Sri \vx v os evro\r) v6/uoi , Kal (^uis 656s s"w?}s /cat Xe7%os KCU Trcudfia; 
|i] is preferable on grounds of sense and symmetry. Gr. "paN nisa and mm 

VI. 33-VH. 143 

T:X. 24. ft) >"% (3 inrdvopo-j, jn (Yog.), adopted by dr., lii.; to this 
Baumg. objects that the word, used as = another, always has the suffix, as in 
v.- y ; read m\ 25. In il (5 gives free rendering, and in > iias doublet, the 
original having 600aXjuois, the revision fi\f<pdpuv to agree with 11) (Lag.). 
IL takes 12 2- as subj. 26. It) ~<"2, probably taken as prep. /;/ t \\-</ia>tg<- for, 
and rendered freely in all Yrss. : (5 Tt/oirj, IL pretimn, C N"-" 1 (for p~-i /v/-, 
Oort) with N.- 1 ^-: added as explanation, .S "^"1", for N\;-T price (but cf. Nold., 
in Tink.); ( )orl, doubtfully, i<2 ; read ^iT or n-<s hunt.;. %] -7, omitted by 
ISi. (who also omits rrx), read ~|N by F.w., dr., and one or the other of these 
emendations should be adopted. Frank.: err? irr T; ";; ru\x -p; 1 T, an 
appropriate emendation, after (51L (though it would be better to omit the 
second T") but graphically not so easy as the one above proposed. 
29. ( tmitied by 15i. without explanation, apparently to gain a simple quatrain 
(v. - ~ -"), he having above (v.--) expanded a verse (triplet) into a quatrain; 
v.- - 1 is a natural, though not necessary, conclusion to v.- 7 - - s ; it might be 
omitted without loss, and its naturalness might account for its insertion as a 
gloss. The form of 1i) is substantially supported by the Yrss. 30. The 
Yrss. suggest no emendation of Ji), of which they give free translations; see 
note on this verse above. 31. D^r?3U ; is in form dual of the fern, (as in the 
second numeral), lit. two sevens, but used in the sense sevens, = sevenfold ; 
for a different view see M. Heilprin, Histor. Poetry of (lie Anc. Hebrews, Yol. I. 
note A. |i) J.T; (5, interpreting correctly, 5oi)s piWrcu eavrbv. 32. 11) reads 
lit. he i ho destroys himself (JL inho wishes to destroy, etc.) he does it, or better 
//< destroys himself w/io does it (taking xin as in apposition with r nr^). 
(5 (followed by 11) appears to render freely, so that its I Feb. text can hardly 
be conclusively made out. It improperly takes the verse as a single sentence, 
writes 5t tvdftai (= iDm?), makes 3 (or rnr-:) obj. of the verb in which it 
omits suff. (TrepiTroioYcu), and apparently omits Nin (omitted by l!i.). |1) 
gives a good sense as it stands, but becomes easier if we omit MI and take 
n ;.";< as red. clause. 33. ]i) Si " , <5 VTTO(f>epei, which Lag. emends to a-jro^- 
pei, prob. = It), not NU" 1 (cf. the different rendering of sr^ in v. :i "). At end 
(5 adds fis rov aiava, probably rhetorical expansion, but Lag. holds that C^i; <s 
stood in 10 and has fallen out by similarity to following in?r N" ; the addition 
is possible, but is not favored by the rhythm; 1 Sailing, compares the rcr S N of 
\j/ loQ 14 . 34. 1 .) "O.i r?;n nxj,"" :; the subj. (as the connection shows) is T> 
(as in Cant. S " p L 1N2 3 nr, 1 ]), and we should perhaps expect that J would be 
attached to it and not to M, though the present form is intelligible. (P. badly, 
/uecrros yap j ^Xou dvfj.6? avdpos ayr^s. taking n as subj. T --- It) ; 5 follows 
(P. only inverting the order of the words, and omitting ai r^s : the fury </ a 
man, became it is full of jealousv, will not spare, etc. 35. O and IL vender 
Jt) freely, and independently each of the other. 

VII. Warning against the adulteress. A more elaborate 
treatment of the subject of 2 1(M; 5, 6-^" , and similar in arrange- 



ment to these subsections. The number of these closely similar 
addresses suggests that the section chs. 1-9 is a compilation. 
The writer counsels obedience to his word (v. 1 " 3 ), that is, to wisdom 
(v. 4 ), that it may preserve the pupil from the adulteress (v. 5 ), 
whose fatal wiles are described (v.^), and concludes with an 
appeal to avoid her (v.- 4 "- 7 ). 

1-5. Wisdom the preserver against the adulteress. 

1. My son, keep my words, 

And lay up my commandments with thee. 

2. Keep my commandments and live, 
And my law as the apple of thine eye. 

3. Bind them on thy fingers, 

Write them on the tablet of thy mind. 

4. Say unto Wisdom : " Thou art my sister," 
And call Understanding kinswoman, 

5. That she may keep thee from another s wife, 
From the adulteress with her enticing speech. 

1, 2. Both couplets are synonymous, ternary. One form of the 
standing introductory summons; see 3 1 4 1 , etc., Ben-Sira 3 -. 
Words, commandments, law are synonyms ; the Impv. and live = 
and thou shalt live, or so that Uwu maycst live (that is, live long 
and happily). Apple of the eye,= pupil of the eye, symbol of 
most delicate and precious things, here and in Dt. 32 1 " </> iy 8 ; in 
Pr. f 20 - = centre, core ; in Lam. 2 18 daughter of the eye is 
equivalent to eye. Between our v. and v. 2 Grk. has my son, fear 
the Lord and thou shalt be strong, and beside him fear no other, in 
general accordance with 3 7 9 14* (cf. Eccl. 5 7(fi) ), but out of keep 
ing with the context here, in which the point is obedience to the 
teacher himself; it is the addition of a scribe or an editor who 
thought that a distinctly religious exhortation should be here intro 
duced. Cf. Racine, Ath. I., i : je crains Dieu, cher Abner, et n ai 
point d autre crainte. 3. Synonymous, binary (or, perhaps, ter 
nary). Nearly identical with 3" 6 L>I . As the hands are always in 
sight, the finger is a fit reminder-place ; so in Dt. 6 8 n 18 Ex. i3 lt: , 
which our verse may have in mind. It is uncertain how long 
before the beginning of our era the custom existed of winding 
prayerbands (totafoth, tefillin, phylacteries) around the finger and 

vii. 1-5 145 

arm; the earliest reference to them is in NT. (Mt. 23 ) and 
Josephus (Ant. 4, 8, 13). From r 3" 6 J1 it would seem more 
probable that the allusion here is to a ring, probably the seal-ring 
(Gen. 38 1S Jer. 22- Cant. 8") which appears to have been com 
monly worn by men ; the same verb bind is used in 3" of a neck 
lace. In second cl. the allusion is probably not to the command 
(Dt. 6 ;l ) to write the law on doorposts and gates, but to the fab- 
lets of the law, or to inscribed tablets in general. In any case it 
is inward recognition of law that is enjoined, and the law is that 
not of Moses, but of the sage himself.* 4. Synonymous, ter 
nary. Expression of closest intimacy. Kinswoman involves the 
idea of intimate friendship ; in Ru. 2 1 3- (the only other places 
in which the term occurs) the point is the obligation of kinship. 
Grk. : say that Wisdom is thy sister and gain the friendship of 
Understanding (lit. gain Understanding as friend}, in which the 
parallelism (say . . . ^aifi) is not so good as in the Heb. 
5. Synonymous, ternary. The woman is described in both clauses 
in the Heb. as stranger, that is, another man s wife, and therefore, 
in this connection, an adulteress. The final clause is lit. who 
makes smooth her words, = " uses enticing words." The verse is 
substantially identical with 2 1<; 6 - 4 (on which see notes), and is on 
that account omitted by Rickell ; but, though not necessary, it 
gives a natural and desirable connection between the exhortation 
(v. 1 - 4 ) and the description (v. 1 "-" ). It is possible that these two 
paragraphs were composed independently of each other in that 
case v." is the insertion of the compiler, and should therefore be 

6-23. Detailed description of the seductive arts of the adul 
teress, and of their fatal result. A thoughtless young man. 
wandering through the streets at night (v. 1 " 1 ), is accosted by an 
impudent woman, a frequenter of the streets (v." ~ I; ), who invites 
him to go to her house, saying that she has prepared a feast with 
all pleasant accompaniments, and that her husband has gone away 
on a long journey (v. "" - "); he yields, and goes unconsciously to 
destruction (v.- 1 " -"). The description differs from that of 2 ll ~ 

* Inscribed objects attached to the person were, perhaps, originally amulets or 
talismans; cf. notes on i y 3". 


(which merely states that death is the result of a licentious course) 
and from that of 6 24 " 35 (which dwells on the folly of this sin) in 
the detailed picture it gives of the woman s wiles. Literary skill 
is shown in the vivid contrast between her attractive home, the 
scene of luxurious carousal, and the wretched death that follows. 
The description shows acquaintance with the later city life. Cf. 
Beri-Sira ^ ic? 26 9 " 12 42 12 . 

6-9. The young man. 

6. For at the window of my house 
Through my lattice I looked forth, 

7. And saw among the youths,* 
A young man void of sense, 

8. Passing along the street near her corner, 
Walking in the way that led to her house, 

9. In the evening twilight, 

[Or] in the darkness of the dead of night. 

6. Continuous, ternary. The for, introducing the illustrative 
case, follows naturally on v/ , less well on v. 4 . The case put is 
represented as typical the suggestion is : one may any evening 
look out and see, etc. In first line we should perhaps read : 
through (or, out of) my window I looked. The windows of 
Oriental houses (like those of Europe some centuries ago) are not 
enclosed with glass, but have trellis-work of wood or metal, through 
which a person standing within may see the street without being 
seen from without ; f tne window was a favorite place of observa 
tion (so in Thousand and One Nights frequently). Grk. repre 
sents the woman as the observer : from her house she looks out of 
a window into the streets. The picture of her as on the watch 
for her prey is natural and effective in itself, but hardly agrees 
with v. 10 12 in which she is already in the street ; if she is indoors 
in v.~ 9 , we should expect to have in v. 10 : she came forth and met 
him ; the woman appears to be introduced as a new personage in 
v. 111 . 7. Single sentence with peculiar rhythm, the first line con 
sisting of two parallel clauses, with their completion in second 

* Heb. : and saw among the simple, observed among the youths. 
t Ju. 528 2 S. 6is 2 K. 9 30 Cant. 2 ; Aristoph., Thesmoph., 797 ; Livy, 24, 21 ; 
Vitruv., v. 6, 9. 

VII. 6-9 I47 

line, or (if the second line be begun with perceived) the second 
line giving a parallel to first line, and adding the completing 
phrase. The expression of the I leb., saw among the simple, which 
introduces a tautology (simple = void of sense) should be omitted ; 
the couplet will then be a single sentence, binary. Simple = 
void of understanding ; see note on i . 8. Synonymous, ternary. 
A corner, as in (Irk., is hardly better than Heb. her corner; the 
latter expression denotes not the particular place at which she 
stands (in v. 1 - she does not confine herself to one spot), but the 
corner near which her house is. The young man is not repre 
sented (as RV. suggests) as going to her house, but only as fol 
lowing the road that led thither ; he is strolling aimlessly within 
her domain, and so meets her; Ben-Sira 9 7 warns young men 
against such nocturnal strolling. The her house implies that she 
has already been mentioned ; the reference, according to the Heb. 
text, is to v/ , but in the Grk. text more naturally to v." (see note 
above). 9. Parallels, ternary. The two clauses, as they stand 
in the Heb., giving different parts of the night, must be connected 
by or or and; Grk. : /// the evening-gloom, when there is quiet of 
night and of darkness (different text, or free rendering), which 
has the advantage of giving unity of time to the two clauses. Twi 
light, the dim light near sunrise or sunset, is defined by evening. 
The second cl. is lit. in the pupil (= centre, middle) of the night 
and darkness. The intention of the Heb. text seems to be to 
indicate the whole period of darkness during which people were 
accustomed to walk in the streets : from twilight to midnight one 
may see young men traversing the streets. The second line may 
perhaps mean : in the darkness of complete night (so RY.). that is, 
any time after twilight. In the early evening or in bright star 
light or moonlight figures without might be visible from a window, 
and torches and lanterns were sometimes carried, though hardly 
by the persons here described ; for the rest the description is im 
aginative, though no doubt based on personal observation. Roman 
youths at such times sometimes wore masks (Juv. 6, 330). 

VII. 1. ()n the added v. in (? sec note above- on v. 1 The fact that it 
appears in no other Yrss. e.\e. S" throws no li^ht on its date; such additions 
were natural for a lonj period. K\v., without ivin<j reasons, regards the v. 
(which he renders into Heb.) as genuine. 2. Segol with Athnah in n-n 


bears witness to the phonetic force of this vowel. fWK, = Arab, insdn, 
apparently a human (or manlike) thing ; the ending on (an*) is elsewhere in 
O.T. not dimin. but general-relational; Aram, fin is diminutive, py N is par 
allel in t/ 17 s to py P3 (perhaps = the centre or principal part of the eye); 
the Aram. Vrss. here render by Nroa gate; cf. Ges., 7 Aes., BOB. $? Trv>n; 
(5 TOI)S 5e <?/wi>s X67ous, as if it read nan, or noN, as in 4 10 ; between such 
variants there is no ground of choice. 3. For $ n > 3S <S, by scribal in 
advertence, has -nx, as in 3 3 . 4. f$ NtpP; (5 Trepnroi-ricrai, = njpn (Jag.); 
whether <@ had nran (Jag.) or took ? in $? nraS as sign of accus. (Lag.) can 
hardly be determined. For j?ib Oort suggests fem. n;ne, but this is not neces 
sary. 5. (5 Trovrjpas, apparently miswriting of ir6pvijs (Lag.); cf. < in 2 16 . 
6, 7. On the 1st pers. in the vbs. in < see note on these vv. above. Oort 
suggests inaan for Tra, to secure fuller parallelism, and Gr. the insertion of 
rum before >> :; j& has 3d pers. plu. 8. fi? nja; the masc. form of the noun 
is found only here and Zech. I4 10 . piu J is omitted in (g, -i;x in j$ (by free 
translation or inadvertence). For i>*x> (5 has \a\ovvra, error of Grk. scribe; 
for proposed emendations see notes of Lag., Baumg., and on @ cf. Pink. 
9. The Heb. text appears to offer an inverted parallelism (cf. Schult.) : itt j 
(degree of light), 2~\y (part of the day), nS^S jiS"N (part of the night), H^BN 
(degree of darkness) ; we should probably, in accord with the preceding ex 
pressions, read nSaxa. (5, however, makes two phrases of the v. : tv cr/5ret 
{ffirepivy, = 3~\y J3, and -rjvlKa. &v rjcrvxio- WKrepivri KO.I yvo<f>a5-r;s, = |0, except 
that for p2"N it seems to have had some form of js sleep (Schl.), or possibly 
of ops repose. With such twofold division | would read : in the twilight of 
evening, in the depth of black night. 

10-12. The woman. 

10. And lo, < the > woman comes to meet him, 
In harlot s dress, and wily (?) of heart. 

11. She is boisterous and a < gadabout > 
Her feet rest not in her house 

12. Now she is in the street, now in the squares, 
And she lurks at every corner. 

10. Continuous, ternary. As the woman is referred to above 
(v. 8 ), the def. art. (as in the Grk.) is preferable to the reading of 
the Heb. (a woman}. She comes to meet him by design, not 
simply meets (or, met) him (RV.). Instead of dress (or, orna 
ment) Grk. has/tfr;;/, appearance, a sense (= mien) which perhaps 
better suits the context, in which the woman s character is de 
scribed. Whether harlots at this time wore a distinguishing dress 
is uncertain (in Gen. 38^ it is the veil that is characteristic) ; the 
reference is perhaps to the style of attire. In this expression the 

VII. io-i2 I4 

woman here described (the married woman) is technically distin 
guished from the harlot proper (who was unmarried). The 
translation ay//y (RV.) is conjectural ; other proposed renderings 
are false (Sennit.), malicious ( Kw., Now., Ramp., etc.), sec re/, 
hypocritical (Berth., Str., Stade), excite,/ (Frank.), subtle (\\ ., 
J)e.) ; in Isa. 48" the Heb. word appears to mean hidden, secret, 
and here, if the reading be correct, some such sense as wily suits 
the connection, (irk. : causes the hearts of young men to fly away 
(or, as emended by Lag., causes young men to lose their heads} ; 
Vulg. : prepared to catch souls. These renderings may represent 
our Heb., or may rest on a different text ; they do not suggest 
any satisfactory emendation. 11. Synonymous, ternary. Here 
also the adjectives are doubtful. The first (which occurs again in 
9 I:! ) usually expresses excited movement and noise (i K. i 41 Isa. 
22-), and may here refer to the woman s free, boisterous manner 
of talking, or to her unrestrained actions, or to both of these ; 
proposed renderings are garrulous (Vulg.), loud, clamorous, 
excited, vehement, passionate, boisterous, of which the last appears 
best to reproduce the Heb. term. The second word, as it stands 
in our Heb. text, means rebellious, selfivillcd, wilful, which may 
be understood as expressing her attitude toward her husband, her 
refusal to obey him and stay at home ; a slight change of letters, 
however, gives the sense going about, gadding about (Vulg. stroll 
ing, cf. Cant. 3~ :! , where the maiden and the watchmen go about 
the city), and this is in keeping with the following clauses. The 
older Creek laws forbad free women to leave their houses after 
sunset,* but it appears from this passage and from Cant. and 
Ken-Sira (2 6 s " ) that at a later time women had no little liberty 
of movement, and part of the duty of a careful husband or father 
was to keep his wife or daughter indoors (Ben-Sira 25-- , cf. i Tim. 
5 13 Tit. 2"). 12. Synonymous, binary- (or, quaternary-) ternary. 
Licentious women showed themselves freely in the streets and in 
the squares or open places at gates and elsewhere (see note on 
i 2 "- 1 ), choosing corners particularly as convenient places for 
seeing and being seen. The paragrapli is a vivid description of 
the city manners of the later time (probably third cent. B.C.). 
V." - are of the nature of a parenthesis. 

* Becker, C /tar. 408 f. 


10. The Art. before nrx (found in <5) has dropped out by reason of pre 
ceding n. Before r.xipS there is usually a vl>. of going, but this is sometimes 
omitted, as in I S. io 10 al. The signilication dress for rns> seems to be assured 
by \j/ 73; after ( eiSos Hitz., Oort suggest a form of nis> (8 11 26* 27 15 ). If 
the text-word be retained, prep, a should perh. be inserted before it. ^ mxj 
^; (5 (foil, by {) iroiei vetav ^tirraa-dai Kapdtas (the vtwv is explanatory 
insertion), as if from "nj (cf. 27) ; Lag. emends to &J: <rra(r0cu (Eur. Bacch. 
850) Aw 0* .s senses, and thinks that <S had rrvxn producing a whirl, after 
Syr. pis (Castel. 755), but sueh a sense is proved neither in Heb. nor in 
Aram.; ii, yd capiendas atiimas, apparently from "PX (Berth , cf. Ez. I3 20 ). 
There is no satisfactory derivation for the text-word; that from ixj {hidden, 
wily, cf. Isa. 48") seems least objectionable. There is perh. scribal error; we 
expect some word like e pyj (28 18 ) or Snoj (8 s ) or oiy (but this stem is em 
ployed elsewhere in Pr. only in good sense), and see the expressions in 
Eccl. 7 2G . Schult, fictti cordis, from -ns, in sense of Arab. -nx. 11. $ P-VVD 
headstrong ; &<TUTOS profligate seems to represent ^ (Lag. improbably, from 
mo); read roaio (cf. Cant. 3 2 - 3 ), !L vaga, 1& xmns. 12. (S, less well than 
JiJ, divides the v. at f in3 > after which it inserts, to complete the parallelism, 
the vb. ^/j.^Tai roams. 

13-20. Her invitation: she assures him that she has made 
special preparations to receive him. 

13. So she seizes him and kisses him, 
With impudent look says to him : 

14. " A vow-offering was due from me 
To-day I have paid my vows 

15. So I came out to meet thee, 

To seek thee and I have found thee. 
1 6. I have spread my couch with coverlets, 

With striped cloths of Egyptian yarn. 
17. I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, 

With aloes and with cinnamon. 
1 8. Come, let us, till morning, take our fill of love, 

Let us take our pleasure in love. 

19. For my husband is not at home, 
He is gone on a long journey; 

20. He took a bag of money with him, 

He will come home at full-moon feast." 

13. Continuous, binary-ternary. This free procedure may have 
taken place in a retired spot, else it would probably not have 
escaped the attention of the police ; though women at this period 
had, as we have seeq (note on v. 11 ), some liberty of movement, it 

VII. I3-H 15 

would appear from Cant. 5 7 that the night-watchmen sometimes 
arrested strolling women, though under what circumstances does 
not appear. Watchers on city-walls no doubt existed from of old 
(Isa. 21" - 62 i// 127 ), but the relatively modern night-patrol is 
mentioned only in Cant. 3 " 5 . The expression with impudent 
(or, wanton ) look (lit. puts on a bold face, so 21" ) does not inti 
mate that the woman assumes an attitude not natural to her, but 
simply describes her meretricious boldness. 14. Protasis and 
apodosis, ternary. Of course the observer at the window does 
not hear the long and probably whispered speech that follows 
(v. u ~ :> ") ; the writer describes a common scene. The woman 
(who thus appears to be an Israelite) begins by telling the young 
man that her payment of a vow-offering enabled her to provide 
special entertainment at this time; the feast is not mentioned, but, 
as the invariable accompaniment of the sacrifice, is taken for 
granted; we might, therefore, render : I hare a sacrificial feast 
at m\ house. The Heb. term here rendered offering (she/cm, RV. 
peace-offering} is a general one comprehending several varieties. 
It signifies primarily wholeness, soundness, and so security, friendly, 
peaceful relations with the deity, or the payment of one s obliga 
tions to the deity so as to secure his friendship.* As a technical sac 
rificial term it denotes the ordinary offerings made freely to gain 
favor, or presented in gratitude for favors bestowed or in fulfil 
ment of a vow (see the different sorts in Lev. y 11 1 1 ). It consisted 
always of flesh, to which (at least in the later ritual) was added 
flour, oil, and wine (Xu. 15 ln ) ; and of the animal presented 
only the blood and the fat of the intestines was offered on the 
altar, the rest was eaten by the worshippers. The she/em thus 
differs from the holocaust (Heb. ola, RV. burnt-offering) which 
was wholly consumed on the altar. It is in fact the old sacrificial 
meal of the family or clan, which was of a festive character (Am. 
5- ~ 2:! ). In the present instance its occasion is a vow which has 
just been fulfilled (to-day} ; the law required that the flesh should 
be eaten on the day of offering (Lev. f }. The woman, not inat 
tentive to her religious duties (and there is no reason to suppose 


that she herein acted otherwise than in good faith), having dis 
charged her vow and prepared the feast, goes out to seek a com 
panion, and pretends to the youth (it seems probable that it is a 
pretence) that she has come expressly to find him. If the sacri 
fice was offered on an altar, the scene of the incident is doubtless 
Jerusalem ; but it is possible that the Egyptian Jews, before the 
building of the Onias-temple (B.C. 149), maintained customs of 
vows at home, dedication being substituted for actual sacrifice. 
From the plu. vows it may perhaps be inferred that vows were suf 
fered to accumulate, so that a number were paid at one time ; and 
from Eccl. ^ we gather that there was sometimes undue delay in 
paying, so that it became necessary for the priests or other officers 
to send messengers to demand payment.* 15. Continuous, ter 
nary. The so (or, therefore) refers to the festive character of the 
occasion : " as I have prepared an excellent table, and do not wish 
to enjoy it alone, therefore I have come," etc. To seek thee, lit. to 
seek thy face. The reading proposed by Bickell, that I might find 
thee, is feeble and improbable. The two next verses describe the 
luxurious appointments of the woman s house, whence (and from 
v. 1! - 20 ) it may be inferred that her husband was a man of sub 
stance, and she of good social position. 16. Synonymous, ter 
nary. Conch is properly bedstead (Dt. 3" i/r i^2 3 ). elsewhere 
(Job y 13 ) used also for the whole of the sleeping-furniture, but 
here apparently for the structure on which bed-clothing is spread. 
The uncertainty of the term here rendered coverlets appears from 
the diversity of the translations given it: Grk., Vulg. cords ; Syr. 
Targ. beds or mattresses (or perh., cushions, pillows} ; Aq., Theod. 
spreads; and these renderings (except the first) are variously 
adopted by modern commentators. The word occurs elsewhere 
only in 31 - -, where it seems to mean some sort of cloth-work 
(Grk. is here doubtful, Aq., Th., Vulg. spreads, Sym. carpets shaggy 
on botJi sides}. AV. coverings probably gives the sense of the 
term (R.V., not so well, carpets, marg. cushions}, but the addition 
of tapestry (= embroidered) is without support. AV. decked 
= covered, spread. The terms in second cl. must also describe 
some sort of bed-clothing : the first is in Grk. carpets shaggy on 

* On the later regulations respecting delay see commentary on Dt. 2321-23 in 
Kos/i ha. S/iana/i, 5 b. 

Vll. 14-18 TI;^ 

both sides ; Syr. Targ., spreads or carpets ; Vulg. embroidered car 
pets ; recent commentators generally striped (or, party-colored ) 
spreads or clotlis. The second term represents some kind of ma 
terial, jY////~, or, as the word signifies in Aram.. \arn; it is left 
untranslated by the Anc. Yrss. (or they may have had a different 
word), except that Theod. has marked with F.^-ptian paintings. 
Across the ancient Greek bedstead (which was usually of wood, 
sometimes of bronze) were stretched girths (cords) which sup 
ported a mattress, and on this were spread coverlets, which were 
sometimes colored. There was a headboard, and sometimes a 
footboard ; at the former were placed cushions or pillows. This 
is the general arrangement here referred to, though the precise 
significations of the various terms are doubtful. The mention of 
Egyptian material may indicate that the section was not written in 
Egypt ; commercial intercourse between Egypt and Palestine had 
existed since the time of Solomon, and became more frequent 
after the settlement of the Jews in Alexandria. 17. Continuous, 
ternary-binary. After the bedstead was spread with costly cov 
erings, the bed, thus prepared, was perfumed (lit. sprinkled}. 
The aromatic substances here named are frequently mentioned in 
OT. (e.g. Cant. 4 14 ). Myrrh is a gum-resin which exudes from 
the Balsamodendron Myrrh a, a shrub growing in Arabia and 
Abyssinia ; it is reddish brown in color, has an agreeable odor 
and an aromatic-bitter taste ; a liquid form of it appears to be 
mentioned in Ex. 30 - Cant. 5" ; for its use in the preparation of 
the temple-oil see Ex. 30--- . Aloes is the fragrant resin-gum of 
Alocxylon and Aquilaria orata of Malacca and ./. agallochum 
of Bengal. Cinnamon is the aromatic bark of a Ceylonese tree ; 
it was an ingredient of the sacred oil of the Jews (Ex. 30 - --- " ). 
The description indicates a high degree of luxury. Among the 
Israelites ivory couches (or divans) were used by the rich as early 
as the eighth cent. i:.c. (Am. 6 ), but the perfumes here men 
tioned appear only in postexilian writings (Ex. 30, Esth., i/> 45. 
Cant., Pr.) ; they seem to have become known to the Jews 
through late intercourse with foreign peoples. 18. Synonymous, 
quaternary-binary. The vbs. express fulness of enjoyment. The 
first (take our fill} means to be filled, saturated with water (Isa. 
55" ), with blood (Isa. 34 Jer. 46 "), with love (here and 5 ) ; 


the second means to enjoy one s self, Grk. to roll in, Targ. give 
one s self up to, Vulg., Syr. embrace. 19. Synonymous, ternary. 
In first cl. the Heb. reads the man, an expression which is per 
haps used by the woman in a slighting way instead of the friendly 
my husband, as if she would say : the man who owns the house, 
whom I happen to be bound to but do not care for. But such a 
refined sneer does not seem very probable, and, as Grk. has my 
husband, we should rather so read, or with RV. write the goodman. 
The master of the house appears to be a rich merchant, called on 
to make long journeys, as was the custom with merchants (Tob. 5 3 
9- Mt. I3 45 ). 20. Continuous, ternary. Time is reckoned by 
feasts, and these by the phases of the moon (so now frequently in 
rural communities, even where the solar year exists) . Fullmoon- 
feast (i// Sr^ 4 ) is the middle of the month the scene occurs 
in the first half of the month, and the intimation is that some 
days must elapse before the husband can return. There was no 
fixed day for paying vows. The festival referred to may be Pass 
over or Tabernacles. 

13. On the r rafatum of nr; f n (a local peculiarity of Masoretic pronuncia 
tion) see De. s note in B-D. n>jo is unnecessarily omitted by Bi., apparently 
on rhythmical grounds. 14. J D oVs ; plu. everywhere except Am. 5 22 
(where it is perh. scribal error), rar often = vbv (Ex. 24^ cf. Ez. /[/i 11 with 
45 15 ), here = slain offering. 15. The Vrss. have free renderings of |^. On 
&2C see Pink. 16. ^ 131, naie, of uncertain meaning, the vb. only here, the 
noun here and 3i 22 ; (S B Kfiplq. ((g s c - a - A plu.) r^ra/co, in which the noun 
girths, suggests the sense bind for the vb. (as in TOT chain, Gen. 41*2 Ez. 
i6 u , and in Arab.), but in 3i 2 - < has x^a/ws mantles, which favors the render 
ing coverlets here ; ,&{ have stem MS*, A9 Trepiffrpuvvv/jLi, spread in vb. and noun ; 
H intexui funibus, the noun being after <5, but the vb. weave, appropriate in 
3 1 22 , is here out of place. The weight of authority appears to favor the sense 
spread. maan, cf. Arab. aan. Oort, taking it as rendered by (5 ta-rpuKa, 
emends to Titan, but the Grk. word rather represents $ jrjx, read as Titan or 
nas. JIMS, found here only, is possibly a foreign word (but 696vrj linen may 
be a loan-word from Sem.) ; in Jew.-Aram. it = thread, a possible sense here, 
but < has another term, NCip carpet, perh. = stuff woven of thread. On the 
form see Ols., p. 335 ; it seems unnecessary to regard it as Aram. 17. $| TDJ 
sprinkle, Qal only here; Bi., Hif. \-IJH n (cf. ^ 68 10 ),Oort TD Jj (cf. Cant. 5 8 ); 
Gr. TIDI, from POJ. -ib is Semitic, a^Snx (cf. Hind, aghil, Sanscr. aguru) 
East Indian, and pc:p, though its origin is uncertain, is probably foreign.* 

* Cf. H. Lewy, Semit. Fremdivorter im Griech. ; C. P. G. Scott, Malayan Words 
in Eng. t in JAOS.. Vol. 17. 

VII. iS-2i 155 

18. The plu. C TI and :r:nx are used always of sensual love, (leiger, Urschrift, 
p. 398, reads cvr (see 5 ), hut the Mas. form is better. %} HD S ;TJ; (3 CVKV-, after which <)<>rt unnecessarily emends to \e\v-lleli. n^j;-.- /,/ us 
wallow. Bi., to complete his scheme of quatrains, adds the couplet ^i.i 
u3:i ;)J>P V-" 1 " 1 i" 1 "3 is C^V- the woman, he holds, according to v. - 1 , em 
ployed argument (rip 1 ?) and it must lie introduced here; but her persuasions 
are sufficiently given in v. 14 "- ". 20. NOT, only here and ^ 8i 4 (~D:). Here 
& has N-r> /i </.y/ (Rashi : the time fixed for the feast), j? <S, <8 Si Ti^epuv 
TTO\\UV (perh. free transl. Lag. suggests that di i]/j.. = 5i.xofJ.rivr]}, 1L plenae 
litnae (and so liar Ali, cited in Ges. 7 hes.*), Saad. day of sacrifice, Aben L/.ra 
iiew moon ; in \f/ Si 4 (E has DDTSi NITV, J? NOT, IL V z media mense, (5 eiV^y 
favorable (apparently a guess). And since in Jo >sD: stands for the I5th day 
of the month in I K. I2 :i - and for the 23d in 2 C. y 1 , the word appears to 
mean the week of the feast from the middle of the month on, and so either 
the feast (either Passover or Tabernacles, here perhaps the latter, iC ty 8i 4 
appears to interpret it as the former), or its first day. On the form see Ols. 
p. 256, 282. The word seems to be Aramaic, but its etymology is uncertain 
prob. not from stem = cover (Ges., De., " the disk of the moon is covered with 
light"), perh. related to Arab. NUO latter part, and = second half of the 
month, and so the festival of that time; ^ ^DDPS may be dcnom. (the month 
of) the NDr, but prob. covered (so Rash ha. S/ianah 7 b. 8 a). Aben Ezra s 
interpretation is against this derivation, but his rendering is opposed to that 
of earlier authorities. The word, however, may mean simply feast. BDB. 
compares As. kitseu (see De., Ass. Ilandwb. s. v. kusefi, aqft ), full moon (as 
tiara of a deity). 

21-23. The youth yields to her persuasions, and thus goes to 
his death. 

21. With much fair speech she persuades him, 
By the blandishment of her lips seduces him. 

22. So enticed he follows her, 

Like an ox that goes to slaughter, 

Like a < calf that is led to the stall, 
23 / . Like a bird that hastes to a net, 
f. Knowing not that it concerns its life, 
(/. Till an arrow cleaves its liver. 

21. Synonymous, ternary. Fait- speech is lit. teaching, instruc 
tion (see note on r ) designation of the woman s enticing de 
scription as a didactic discourse or argument. Pi-rsuttJes, lit. 
causes to yield ; blandishment of her lips, lit. smoothness of her lips ; 
see 2 ll! 5" 6 JI f . Seduces, lit. carries off (or, rta tzr). The two 
verbs are employed in ()T. to express the leading away of Israel 
after other gods than Yahweh, the first, for ex., in i K. ji", the 


second in Dt. i3 " ((!) . The two clauses do not involve a climax, 
but are identical in meaning. 22,23. The text is corrupt in 
individual words, and there is probably a displacement of clauses. 
The three lines of v.- 3 should probably stand in the order b c a ; 
in v.~ Bickell further follows the order a c b. The two verses form 
three couplets, and should probably be divided into three verses, 
in the order 2 - a - b -, 2 - c - Wo -, Kc - a -. The difference of length of lines in 
the Eng. translation does not exist in the Heb. 22. Compari 
sons, ternary. The Heb. reads : he follows her suddenly, as an 
ox that goes to slaughter, and as fetters to the chastisement of a fool, 
in which suddenly is inappropriate, and third cl. yields no sense ; 
Luther s as to the fetters where fools are chastised is not allowed 
by the Heb., and lacks the fatal character which the connection 
requires ; the latter objection applies to the inversion of AV. 
(adopted by De., Now., Str. ) as a fool to the correction of the 
stocks (or, the chastisement of fetters} ; the rendering one in fet 
ters (Noyes, RV. marg.) is impossible, and there is no sufficient 
evidence that the Heb. word (C2U) means fetters in the only 
other place in which it occurs in OT., Isa. 3 18 , it is used in the 
sense of anklets (and in Isa. 3 1G the verb shake the anklets occurs), 
from which can be inferred only that the sense fetters is possible 
(Schult. : as it were, with head bound to feet}. The parallelism 
suggests the mention of an animal, and so Grk. Syr. Targ. as a 
dog to bonds ; Vulg. as a frolicsome lamb, not knowing that a fool 
is led to bonds. The rendering as a calf that is led to the stall is 
obtained by a few changes in the Heb. consonants ; the stalled 
calf was kept for slaughter (Am. 6 4 i Sam. 28 24 , cf. Pr. i5 17 ). 
Instead of suddenly read, with Grk., enticed or deceived or per 
suaded, according to the stem in i 10 i6- J 2O 19 24^ 25^ Jer. ao : 
Job 31, cf. Hos. 7" Job 5 2 . The verse is a picture of the brute- 
like stupidity with which the man goes to his unforeseen fate. 
The death (which is physical) is apparently represented as 
coming not by violation of the laws of temperance, but by gen 
eral dispensation of God in social and legal penalties ; cf. i 32 2", 
etc. There is no reference to the mode of death ; the descrip 
tion resembles that in ch. 2 (v. 1 1 " 111 ) more than those in chs. 5 and 
6. 23. Comparison and consequence, ternary. As the text 
stands, v. 23a is connected with the preceding context (" he follows 


her as an ox, etc., till an arrow cleaves his liver"), and a new 
comparison, to a bird, is added. AYe gain simplicity by transfer 
ring the third line to the end of the verse (so Hit/.., 1 >e., BL 
Frank.), and dividing %-.-- - :! into three verses so as to read accord 
ing to the translation given above. The Heb. order is given in 
the Anc. Vrss., only Grk. Syr. Targ. have in first line as a stag 
shot in the liver with an arro:^ (in which stag represents the last 
word of v." of the Heb.). The third couplet, in the order given 
above, appears to refer to the bird, which is shot as it approaches 
the net or after it is entrapped ; a similar reference to the igno 
rance of birds is made in i 1 . Liver, as seat of life, is found 
only here and Lam. 2", elsewhere only in ritual procedures. It is 
common in Bab. -Assyrian. Possibly in some passages, as if/ 16", 
in which my glory = myself, we should read my liver (parallel to 
my heart or my soul}. 

24-27. Concluding exhortation against the woman, based on 
her fatal influence; so 2 1 S - 1 J 5* 9, cf. 6 " "~^\ 

24. Now, therefore, < my son, * hearken to me, 
And attend to the words of my mouth. 

25. Turn not aside to her ways, 
Clo not astray in her paths. 

26. For many are the dead she has east down, 
And numerous they she lias slain. 

2~. In her house are ways to Sheol, 

(lointj; down to the chambers of Death. 

24. Synonymous, ternary-binary. The Heb. has pin. sons, 
without possess, pron., in this verse, and sing, in v.- ;1 ; the change 
of number is possible, but is here not probable; the (Irk. has 
the sing., and this, in any case, is better in an Knglish trans 
lation. Here, as elsewhere, the sage is his own authority. 
25. Synonymous, ternary-binary. Lit. let not thy mi in/ \_/iear/~\ 
turn aside, in which th\ mind (like th\ son/ elsewhere) ///w//. 
7 urn aside (found elsewhere only in 4 " Xu. 5 - - , noun in 
Ilos. 5") is declining from the right way, -- g<> a\/rav. Many 
Heb. MSS. connect the two lines bv and. (Irk. omits second line, 

* The Heb. has ye c/iiUrcn (or, sons}. 


probably by scribal error ; it is necessary for the symmetry of the 
verse. 26. Synonymous, ternary-binary. The first cl. may also 
be rendered : for many she has cast down dead ; the translation 
given above is favored by the parallelism. The form of RV. : she 
has cast down many wounded is not permitted by the Heb., and the 
slain of second cl. requires dead instead of wounded. In second 
cl. AV. has yea, many strong men have been slain by her, RV., 
better, yea, all her slain are a mighty host. The reference is not 
to the strength of the victims (with the implication : if she has 
slain strong men, how can the ordinary man expect to escape?), 
but, as appears from first cl., to their number. The Heb. word 
has the meaning numerous in Am. 5 12 Zech. 8^ \f/^o r>(fi) al. Second 
cl. reads in the Heb. : and numerous are all her slain, in which 
the all is not agreeable to Eng. idiom, and probably does not 
belong to the original Heb. text. 27. Synonymous, ternary- 
binary. Heb. lit. her house is ways to Sheol (so Schult., Ew., 
I 1 rank.), rendered by AV., RV. her house is the way, etc., by 
Reuss is in the way, by Hitz., De., Str. is a multiplicity of ways, 
by Now., Kamp. is full of ways. The sense appears to be that 
many paths, leading to the Underworld, issue from her house (cf. 
i2 JH 14 -) there are many chances of death from association 
with her. The penalty referred to is premature physical death, 
as in i 32 2 M 5 1 ", not moral depravation, and not punishment after 
death ; see note on \ vi . Chambers of Death = simply Sheol, not 
the private rooms of the Underworld, its most distant and painful 
parts. The distinctions in Sheol are not moral, but ritual or 
social : the uncircumcised and those who descend without proper 
burial- rites are assigned to remote, socially inferior, corners (Ez. 
32 18 ~ : * Isa. i4 1:< ), kings and great warriors sit on thrones or occupy 
other prominent positions (Isa. 14"). In the Babylonian Under 
world there seems to be some sort of sevenfold division (see 
Descent of Ishtar}, the significance of which is not known. No 
such division appears in OT. (not in I)t. 32^ if/ 86") there is 
mention of gates (Isa. 38 ^ 9" u 107" Job 38"), as in Baby 
lonian,! hut not f courts, streets or houses. The word chamber 

* Emended text in Haupt s Sacred Hooks of the Old Testament. 
t The bars of Job 1716 is doubtful see note in Budde s Hiob. 

VII. 25-VIII. 159 

floes, indeed, generally stand in contrast with the space outside 
the house (court or street), and in earthly life implies privacy 
(Ju. 3- 2 K. 6 -) ; but in poetical usage it appears to stand (sing, 
or phi.) lor the whole of a given place or space (Job </ 37 ). If, 
however, the term be here understood to imply divisions in Sheol, 
these (as O T. usage shows) are not connected with moral differ 
ences in the inhabitants. 

22. JU =N.-e, not hcatllonx (Schult.) Imt i, uddcn ly ; 6 utTrfiwOds cajoled 
(like a simpleton, K^TT^OS), as from stem nrc; some form of this stem is re 
quired by the connection, pcrh. nroj; cf. Job 31 * TUTN s > 2 s n-^j EN; graphi 
cally -j might easily pass into c, especially if E in latter was marked by a line 
( Hro). DD; , here yields no sense; KUUV, 2 s ;; 1L tignus, = ira:; rend 
S J;~. ^Di^ correction ; (3 Oeo>uw, ^D"T, better than $.), but not wholly ap 
propriate, since it does not naturally correspond to the parallel na - j; it may 
therefore be better to read pint stall (sec note on this v. above;, though 
the reading of (5 is intelligible. S> IN must be taken as vb., some such form 
as S 2V ((jt.). It is read s \x by and transferred to next v. : u>s t Xa^os rcey- 
HO.TI irfTrXriyus. 23. On the inversion of clauses see note on this v. above. 
The order of J.) is retained by the Vrss. 24. %) C^2; , better, v U. 
25. On ru -1 see Stade, 489^, and cf. Kw. 224^. C 1. 2, lacking in (5 I! , is 
given in <* c - a - A , II-l . 23, 68, 106 <?/.,< ompl., Aid., and, according to ", 
Ijelongs to (J; the omission in 15 is inadvertence. 26. %) C^ s n; <J5 freely 
T/auicracra. It may be also by freedom of translation that (3 does not render 
s ;; but this word, though syntactically possible, and not unaccordant with the 
rhythm, is not necessary, and is in any case naturally omitted in an Kng. 
translation. 27. In cl. I Ji?, reproduced by (SC1L, is possible though hard; 
S s insertion of rmis, = ;>, before n.- 3 is no doubt explanatory addition. 
Insertion of 3 is easy, but perh. unnecessary.- Jt} riTv; (3 *. ard7oi;tra(, free 
rendering, or rnn>2 (Lag.). 

VIII. Exalted function of Wisdom. A separate discourse (cf. 
r""" ;! ), consisting of two closely related sections (v. 1 "- 1 and v."" 31 ) 
with introduction and conclusion. After the description of Wis 
dom as public exhorter (v. u:! ) comes her address, in the first sec 
tion of which (v. 4 "- 1 ) is set forth her high character and honorable 
function among men (she utters truth, v. " ;i , and confers knowledge, 
riches, and honor, v. ""- ), and in the second (v." " ) her position as 
cherished companion of Vahweh in the beginning ; the conclusion 
states the happiness of those who obey her and the evil fate of 
those who reject her (v. ri -" : " ; ). With this hymn (t) Wisdom cf. the 
hymns to Yahweh, t// 104. 107, and the praise of Wisdom in Job 28, 


Ben-Sira i 1 " 21 24, Wisd. Sol. f-8- 1 ; it most resembles the last two 
passages in its personification, being in this point more advanced 
than the description in Job. 

1-3. Wisdom stands in places of concourse, and cries to men. 

1. Does not Wisdom call? 

And Understanding utter her voice? 

2. At the head of thoroughfares, on the road, 
In the streets she takes her stand. 

3. Beside the gateways, at the portal of the city, 
At the entrance of the gates she cries aloud. 

The phrases are nearly the same as in i 20 - 21 , only Wisdom is here 
dramatically described as taking her stand. 1. Synonymous, ter 
nary (or, binary-ternary). Wisdom and understanding are iden 
tical in meaning; see note on i 2 . 2. Synonymous, ternary. The 
Heb. reads : at the head (or, on the top} of high places on (or, 
by) the road (or, way) ; the high places might be supposed to be 
the walls and battlements of the city, or benches on the streets, or 
the platforms of the shops, which in Eastern cities are slightly ele 
vated above the street, and would permit a speaker to make him 
self visible to the throng of bypassers ; but we know of no such 
custom, and comparison with i 21 makes it probable that the term 
here = thoroughfares ; cf. <y" ". As thoroughfares are called noisy 
places and broad places (i 20 - 21 ), so they may be called high places 
or highways, as in i6 7 (where, however, another word is used) ; 
cf. Ju. 5 20 . Parallel to this is the expression in the streets (not, as 
RV., where the paths meet) . Grk. omits on the road, rendering 
v. 2 : on the lofty summits she is, amid the ways she stands ; the 
omitted phrase may be a gloss on the preceding expression, but 
something seems necessary here, and, in the absence of anything 
better, this phrase may be retained. 3. Synonymous, binary. 
While v. 2 thus mentions one sort of public place (the street), v. 3 
gives the other sort, the city-gates, which were common meeting- 
places for citizens, like the Greek agora and the Roman forum ; 
see, for ex., Ju. 9^, 2 Sam. 15- , Dt. 22 " , Jer. 17 - , i// 69 12 "" . The 
three expressions here used are merely varied ways of describing 
the space at the gates where men met to talk. For the second 
the Heb. has the mouth (RV. entry) of the city ; we should per- 

VIII. -5 I6l 

haps read in front of the city. The gates (lit. doors) are the open 
ings in the gateways, the latter being elaborate structures, covered 
ways with a door at each extremity ; for the full phrase door of 
the gateway see i- 1 , Jos. S 1 " , i K. 22" . Jer. i 1 , I-]/. N ; . The couplet, 
thus, does not mention three different spots (on this side, on that 
side, and within the gateway), but gives only one place. Wherever 
men throng thither Wisdom goes. Instead of the immediate word 
of Vahweh, which the prophet announces, the sage proclaims man s 
own conviction of rational life, which, however, he identifies with 
the will of God. Bickell omits v.- a - 3a as glosses, and thus makes 
one couplet out of v. L ;; , and this was perhaps the original form : 

And Understanding utter her voice? 

In the streets she takes her stan 

4-21. The teaching and the rewards of Wisdom. After an 
introductory appeal to men (v. 4 - 5 ), the section falls naturally into 
two main parts, first (v. MI ), Wisdom s ethical excellence (her in 
struction, v. " 9 , her superiority over silver, etc., v. 10 - 11 ), and second 
(v. 1 -- -- , omitting v. 1: as scribal insertion) her intellectual emi 
nence (she enables kings to rule well, v. 1 --"- 1 1 , and dispenses riches 
and honor to those who love her, v. 17 -- 1 ). Cf. Job 2S 1: - 1;| , JJen- 
Sira i 17 - 19 , Wisd. Sol. f 14 8" . 

4, 5. The appeal. 

And my appeal is to the sons of men. 

4. Synonymous, ternary. The terms men and sons of men 
appear to mean all classes of men, and to indicate the writer s 
view of the universality of the mission of Wisdom, who seeks her 
disciples among Jews and Greeks, learned and unlearned. .-//- 
peal is lit. voice. 5. Synonymous, ternary. Lit.: comprehend, 
ye simple, discretion, and, ye fools, eompreliend wisdom. Wisdom 
is the sage s ideal scheme of life, to be sought by those who have 
it not ; they must set themselves to comprehend its nature. On 
simple and fool see notes on i --. The Heb. word here translated 



by understanding is that which in i 4 is rendered by sagacity (orma} ; 
it means true knowledge of the principles of life. The significa 
tion of the corresponding term in cl. 2 (lit. heart) is given in 
Hos. 7 11 : Ephraim is like a silly dove, without sense. The coup 
let may be rendered : Ye inexperienced, acquire intelligence ye 
thoughtless, embrace wisdom. The Latin here has simply ye fools, 
give heed ( = set your mind on}, which does not maintain the par 
allelism of terms. The rendering of RV., be ye of an understand 
ing heart, does not give the sense of the Hebrew, in which the 
exhortation is not understand in your mind, but apprehend and 
appropriate the idea of wisdom. The writer accordingly goes on 
to tell what wisdom is. 

6-9. Wisdom declares her moral excellence. 

6. Hear ye, for I speak < verity, * 

And the utterance of my lips is right. 

7. Yea, my mouth discourses truth, 
And * false lips are my abomination. f 

8. All the words of my mouth are just, 
In them is nothing false and svrong. 

9. They are all true to those who understand, 
And right to those who find knowledge. 

These verses form a group of aphorisms, all saying substantially 
the same thing, with variations of phraseology. 6. Synonymous, 
ternary. Instead of verity (lit. verities) the Heb. has princes, or 
perhaps princely (noble} things (RV. excellent things}, a term here 
out of place ; a slight change of letters gives the word used in v. 9a , 
straightforward, honest, true things, corresponding to the right or 
right things in the second clauses of v. G and v. 9 . Utterance is lit 
erally opening. 7. Synonymous, ternary. The initial particle, 
sometimes for, is here better taken as asseverative ; v. 7 is par 
allel to, not explanatory of, v. G . In cl. 2 our Heb. has and wicked 
ness is an abomination to my lips, in which the lips are poetically 
described as rejecting wickedness with horror ; but a more natural 
reading is suggested by 12", false lips are an abomination to 
Yahweh (cf. i6 13 ), and Grk. here has false lips are an abomina- 

* Heb. : excellent things (?). 

t Heb. : wickedness is abomination to my lips. 

VIII. -i 

fion / me; the change of sense requires no great change in the 
Hebrew. 8. Synonymous, binary-ternary (or, ternary), fust, 
lit. /// justice ( KY. /// righteousness) = /// accordance with right 
(see notes on i :! a 11 - 1 "), in contrast with the false and wrong of the 
seeoiul clause, synonymous terms whose original, physical sense is 
faistcJ or crooked ; the first occurs in Pr. only here (cf. Job 5") ; 
on the second see note on 2 1 . 9. Synonymous, ternary. The 
sense rig/if, true for the adj. in first cl. is assured by 2 Sam. 15 
Am. 3" Isa. 30" Prov. 24- ", and the second adj. is identical in 
meaning with that of v. cb . What the verse says is not that Wis 
dom s words are clear, intelligible, simple to the instructed,* but 
that they commend themselves as true ; KY. plain is ambiguous, 
being = either level (as in KY. Isa. 4o 4 ) or clear, but neither of 
these senses is correct. The verse is an appeal to the moral 
consciousness of men, affirming that he who understands the true 
relations of life, \\\\v finds (attains) moral knowledge, \\\\\ recognize 
the truth of Wisdom s words. This affirmation stands almost alone 
in OT. In Ez. 1 8- there is the assumption that the people know 
in their hearts that Yahweh s moral procedure is right ; here we 
have a direct recognition of the insight of the conscience. How 
a man comes to understand the truth the sage does not say. His 
picture is objective and stative : the world is divided by him into 
the two classes of the wise and the fools, and it depends on the 
man s will to which of these he shall belong. In the XT. the 
nearest approach to this conception of moral classes is found in 
the Fourth Gospel. 

10, 11. The sage declares the preciousness of wisdom. 

10. Take ye instruction and not silver, 

And knowledge rather than choice gold. 

11. For Wisdom is better than corals, 
With her no treasures can compare. 

The same thought is found in 3 1 "- 1 , on which see notes : S 11 is 
substantially identical with $ . There (and so S l!l ) the revenue or 
outcome of wisdom is extolled, here wisdom itself. 10. Synony 
mous, ternary. The Hebrew has my instruction. but the simple 


noun (as in the (irk.) answers better to the knowledge of second cl., 
and to the wisdom of v. 11 . The speaker is not Wisdom, but the 
sage : the most desirable thing in life, he says, is the insight which 
enables one to order one s life by the standard of truth the 
point of view is that not of the prophets and psalmists, but of the 
younger school of Jewish thinkers. Cf. 4" J . Choice gold is doubt 
less the same as the fine gold of 3", gold valuable by the gold 
smith s standard. The word rendered choice is found, in OT., only 
in Proverbs.* 11. Synonymous, ternary. On corah see note on 
3 ir . Treasures is literally desirable things (as, for ex., in Hag. 2 7 ), 
a general term including all things held to be valuable. Instead 
of can compare with we may render are equal to. 

13. This verse is not here in place, but it is not clear where it 
is to be put. It not only interrupts the connection between v. 1 - 
and v. 14 (in which the intellectual excellence of wisdom is the 
theme), but its tone is not that of the rest of the chapter. It 
differs from the paragraph v.^ J (which it resembles in a general 
way) by the use of the expression the fear of Yahweh ; in this 
paragraph it is with moral insight, and not with religious fear, that 
the writer is dealing, and elsewhere in Proverbs i\\efear of Yahweh 
is defined only in general terms (as = wisdom, i 7 9 15, or as 
source of blessing, io 27 14- - T> ig 23 ), not by a specific moral con 
tent (in i6 G men depart from evil by the fear of Yahweh). Else 
where in this chapter Yahweh is spoken of only in his relation to 
Wisdom, either as her friend (v. 22 " 31 ), or as granting favors to her 
friends (v. M ). The first clause of the verse is a general declara 
tion which (apart from the difficulty stated above) might stand 
anywhere in the section io 1 -22 1(! ; it is omitted by Bickell as a 
gloss summing up the content of the verse. But even with this 
omission it is impossible to find a natural place for the verse in 
this chapter. In the section v. 6 " 9 the theme is the truthfulness 
of the instruction of Wisdom, and the mention of pride is out of 
place, and its thought has no special relation to that of v. 17 , after 
which it is put by Bickell. W 7 e must therefore conclude that the 
verse, though found in all the Anc. Vrss., is a scribal insertion. 

* On ancient Semitic methods of preparing gold, cf. Rawlinson, Phoenicia, Ch. io. 

VIII. lo-ii, 13 105 

Many such aphorisms were doubtless in circulation among the 
learned, and were occasionally inserted out of place. Heb. : 

The fear of Y-ihweh is haired of evil. 
Pride and arro^ancy, 

The way of evil and the mouth of falsehood 
Do I hate. 

Or, omitting the first line : 

Pride and arrogance and sinfu! life 
And the mouth of falsehood I hate. 

The inconcinnity of the two parts of the verse, as it stands in the 
Heb. text, is obvious : the first part is the sage s statement of the 
relation of religion to evil ; the second part is, in the connection, 
Wisdom s statement of her attitude toward evil. The rhythmic 
arrangement is bad, and is not bettered by (irk. : the fear of the 
Lord liates unrighteousness and insolence and pride and the -,(.<a\s 
of wicked men, and I hate the corrupt ways of had men. On the 
omission of first line see above. The sentiment of the verse is a 
familiar one in Proverbs; see 2 1 - 6 12 ~ w ii" 16". Pride and arro- 
gcincv are identical in meaning ; the first occurs only here in OT.. 
the second is found in 16 *, and in OT. often elsewhere. On 
falsehood (lit. what is turned away, that is, from truth) see notes 

VIII. 1. 11) (which 11 follows exactly, and 5T with one variation) is sup 
ported by the context. (J3 I! *- V <rv . . . Krjpv&is and iva. . . . uiraKovffr] (for 
: " P I.~IT); Proeop., with II-P 23, 109, 147, 1^7, 295 Aid., 816 <rv . . . Kripv^ov, 
and J" has x::rn s vj-:, = f:-, = 5(6. Since this is a separate discourse, a con 
necting j; s is improbable. The natural subject in h is Wisdom s utterance, 
and the -|~ix ;;;." of (3 is doubtless scribal error. 2. TH <s ; - is omitted by 
(P, but the rhythm requires some word here, and nothing better olfers itself. 
Hi. omits these and the two preceding words, and v. :;:l , reading (v.-- ;! ) r - 2 
.-P-T "~- N2 - "- ^ "27;; the maintenance of the full form of 11) is favored by 
I- 1 " - . I lie diflicuU 3-"- 1 -: is belter taken as the ei|iiivaleiit of its parallel 
T12T: ill second <1. 11) ; " X">2, (f> eVt rwi VY if\Cjv a\/jwr. 1L /;/ \ni/in:!< f.\n l- 
sis <///, -\-yliiilin.-,. 11) --2 is scribal error for -jira i v.- i, or possibl;. Aramaism. 

3. 11) -^i ;" ; ifS orratrrdii , perhaps fur ddrt oii/ i \:i ^.~ . T is used "I the 
mouth of a well (Ceil. 29-) or of the I nderworld ( - Y fiy 1 """ 1 141") or ! 
the earth (^(ien. 4"), but never elsewhere of the entrance to a city. 11 jn.\f>: 
f ortas c/7 //,i/i s, free rendering, possibly reading :s*. p "2^ is parallel to ->;:: 
in i- 1 r,,n which see note \ and mav be a -jloss; < lort siiL,^ests -s- 1 ^ as pos- 


sible emendation. The two passages, i*. 21 g 1 - 3 , have probably affected each 
other, and it is difficult to restore the true text. Nias may be taken as 
locative, without preposition. 4. |t? C^N (elsewhere only Isa. 53^ ^ 141*) 
here = ans ^a, = &v0pwrroi; the distinction which seems sometimes to be 
made ($ 49 2 ( 3 > 62 y ( 10 >, cf. Isa. 2 9 ), between DIN 2 and ir^x a, is not contem 
plated here. 5. $? a 1 ? ira~, (@ evOevde Kapdiav, = aS Iran, to which the ob 
jection is not so much that the remote object is not expressed (for the aS n<8> 
of I Sam. 4 2D offers support for such a construction) as that it destroys the 
parallelism of the verse a 1 ? corresponds to noi>. 6. (5 tlffaxofyrasri /JLOV. 
|tj cn j;, as adj. air. \ey., possibly (cf. njj, "m) visible, clear (see Schult. s 
note), but probably (from i^j) princely, a sense here inappropriate; read 
OTIJJ, as in v> (so Gratz); <5 <re/; S9T1L as $J. |$ nrnr, elsewhere Xvy, 
here opening (abstract noun of action) ; (@ avoiiru, apparently Pi. Part., not 
so well; Oort mer, from the door, referring to Mic. 7 5 , where, however, the 
phrase is different. 7. ^ ysn Pas nay ip; (S ifl8e\vypva tvavrlov ^/xou 
xet XTj i/ euSij; read "\ \IBS ^ n (or \nayiP), in accordance with 12. Before 
PCS Bi. inserts na-, a doubtful betterment of the rhythm. 9. |Q has Part., in 
first cl. sing., in second cl. plu. ; <5, better, plu. in both. 10. nois ; omit suff ., 
with (5, in agreement with P>H in second cl. |j N (and not xS) on account 
of the injunction involved; see Ges. 25 , 152, ib, Anm. I. In b several dif 
ferent Grk. readings are found: <5 B = $?; <g B1) (vid.) has, as doublet, cbre- 
pftadcu (Clem. Al., Procop. avrepeiSeirde, read avOaipe ia de} 6 ai<r6rj<rei \pvalov 
Ka.6a.pov, (S A , as doublet, avTavaipfiffBai (read avOaipeiffde) aicrdTjffii xpwn ou 
/cat dpyvpiov; the readings which differ from J^ are probably nearer the Grk. 
original (Lag.). The verb was inserted, by the translator, to secure sym 
metry, or (Lag.) he read mnaj as pred. of pyi; pj is to be maintained. 

12, 14-16. The function of Wisdom in the guidance of the 
rulers of the world through her control of intelligence. With 
this prominence given to political leaders may be compared the 
references to kings in other parts of the Book (i4 28 I6 10 " 1 5 ig 1 " 
22 L)9 24" 25 1 " 7 29 4 - 11 3o 31 3i 4 a!.}. After the remark of the sage in 
v. ia u Wisdom now resumes her discourse. 

12. I, Wisdom, < possess > * intelligence, 

I have knowledge and insight. 
14. With me is counsel and skill, 

With me understanding and might. 

1 1;. By me kings do reign, 

And rulers administer justice. 
1 6. By me princes govern, 

And sovereigns < rule > f the earth. 

* Heb. : dwell in. f Heb. : all t/ie rulers (or, judges) of. 

VIM. u. 14 if> 167 

12. Synonymous, ternary, /^.ov. is emendation of the Heb. 
inhabit, which is here unnatural. The statement of the Heb. is 
not that Wisdom dwells, in friendly alliance, li ith intelligence, but 
that she dwells /// intelligence, an unexampled form of expression.* 
V. 1 -- 14 obviously set forth the resources of Wisdom ; the predicates 
all state what she has at command. The connection calls for a 
word expressing ownership, and the Peshita and the Targum have 
create, which is apparently the rendering of the Heb. verb (see v.~) 
which means both create and possess; the latter term fits the con 
nection. Another emendation is am acquainted with (cf. ^ 139 )- 
In second cl. the verb, lit. find, come upon, come into possession 
of (so in v: " ). On intelligence (or, sagacity) see notes on i 4 S . 
In second cl. the and, lacking in the Heb., is properly supplied 
by RV. ; the combination occurs in i 41 . The three predicate 
nouns are synonyms. 14. Synonymous, binary-ternary, or bi 
nary. In second cl. and is lacking in the Heb. before the second 
noun ; this being supplied, the translation is : I, understanding is 
mine and might. The rendering of RV. / am understanding is 
out of keeping with the context and with the usage of the whole 
Book. Counsel is advice, and the knowledge which enables one 
to advise profitably. Skill is the ability so to arrange things as to 
lead to the desired result ; see note on 2 . Might is power of 
thought, and, by consequence, of action ; see Isa. 1 1 2 and Job i2 n , 
passages which stand in some relation to this. The predicates in 
v. 1 -- 14 are synonyms of wisdom ; but the latter conception is here 
personified, and endowed with all the qualities that are connected 
w ith it. 15, 16. Synonymous, ternary. The rendering above 
given of i6 h (which is after the (Irk.) has the advantage of gaining 
symmetry of clauses. The Heb. reads and sovereigns (or, nobles, 
or, magnates ), all the judges of the earth. A similar sequence 
occurs in ^ 148" : kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and 
all judges of the earth; in the psalm it is natural, v.^ J being com 
posed entirely of groups of nouns, with the verb in v. . In our 
passage the arrangement is different: v . " a " " " consist each of 
subject and predicate; the predicate is simply verb in v. 1 " ", in 
v. 1 " 1 it is verb and noun, and this form we expect in v." 1 1 he 


Heb. text seems here to have been assimilated to that of the 
psalm. Administer = decree. Instead of earth some Vrss. and 
Heb. MSS. have justice, which is probably repetition, by scribal 
error, from end of preceding verse. The rulers of the world are 
here conceived of ideally as governing by wisdom. The writer s 
tone is friendly ; it is that of a man who looks on governments 
broadly, as institutions of life to be controlled by the laws of 
human knowledge and discretion. He thus stands in contrast 
with those psalmists who regard the kings of the earth as hostile 
to Israel (as \\i 149*% and with such passages as Eccl. xo 20 , in 
which the king is spoken of as a dread personage to be cautiously 
dealt with. Throughout Proverbs the source of royal success is 
wisdom ; in the Psalms it is Yahweh who guides the earthly rulers 
of Israel (<// 144 10 ), and is indeed himself Israel s king (io lc 29 a/.). 

17-21. The first half of the chapter concludes with a descrip 
tion of the earthly rewards of Wisdom. Whatever men seek, 
riches and honor, is supplied in abundance by Wisdom men 
will consult their interests in seeking her. The sage appeals to 
dominant human motives, and teaches men how to make life 
a success in the worldly sense. Cf. 3 1 "- 1G - . V. 1; belongs rather 
to this paragraph than to the preceding. 

17. I love those who love me, 
And they who seek me find me. 

1 8. Riches and honor are with me, 
Lordly wealth and prosperity. 

19. My fruit is better than finest gold, 
And my produce than choice silver. 

20. In the way of equity I walk, 
In the paths of justice, 

21. To endow my friends with wealth, 
And fill their treasuries. 

17. Synonymous, ternary-binary. On the rendering seek, in- 
stead of seek diligently (or, early}, see note on i- s . The reciproc 
ity expressed in first cl. is not real (like that of ^ i8 a 26 < 2G -- 7 ) > but 
only formal, the sense being that, by a natural law of mind, only 
those who earnestly desire Wisdom can come into intimate rela 
tions with her. The first clause states the attitude of mind, the 

VIII. i6-iS 169 

second the consequent effort the two are mutually complement 
ary. It is assumed that men may naturally desire wisdom, and 
that search for it is always successful. The sage recognizes to the 
full the moral responsibility and potency of man ; the highest gift 
of life is within every man s grasp. Mis thought is an expanded 
and refined form of the old-Hebrew idea ( Kz. 18 ). Similar 
stress is laid in the Fourth Gospel on the power of the human 
desire and will (Jno. 5" ir do not wish to come to me} and on the 
attitude of mind here expressed by the word love (Jno. 3 " men 
loved the darkness rather tlian the fight). Cf. note on v. ; . 
18. Synonymous, ternary. The connection shows that the refer 
ence is to earthly honor and wealth (as in v.- 1 3 " a/.}. Honor is 
good repute in the eyes of men. Lordly = splendid, or, in general. 
great, Grk. abundant, I, at. Vulg. superb, RV. durable, margin 
ancient (that is, inherited from ancestors} the word appears to 
mean advanced, eminent, and some such superlative adjective is 
suggested by the connection, but the sense inherited (Stade) is 
not appropriate. The term here translated by prosperity (rip-ft) 
is usually rendered by Justice or righteousness. It signifies prima 
rily that which is right, true, as quality of a fact or of the soul 
(the English justice has the same double sense). In its most 
general meaning, /;/ accordance with propriety or with the facts in 
the case, it occurs in i Sam. 26 - , where Vahweh is said to give 
every man his due, and in Joel 2- :; , where Yahweh gives rain in just 
measure. It thus comes to mean the just measure of fortune which 
is meted out to a man, for example, by God, and then, by a natu 
ral transition, the good decision in his favor, the good fortune 
awarded him sometimes a legal decision by a judge (and the 
judge may be God). It expresses Yahweh s interpositions on 
behalf of Israel (Ju. 5"), that is, his (just) decisions in their 
favor, and the good fortune which his protection insures : crerv 
tongu, /hat enters info a legal contest with tliee /ho// slialt get (lie 
better oj [= procure a sentence of condemnation on J /his is the 
lot of the servants of } ahweh, and their fortune awarded bv m, , 
says \a/t7cc// ( Isa. 54 ). This signification comes out clearly in 
i/ ii 2, which is a description of the happiness of the man who 
fears Yahweh ; his happiness is based on earthly prosperity, and 
it is said of him, among other things (v. ;; ) : wealth and riches are 


in his house, and his good fortune lasts for ever (that is, is con 
tinued in his descendants). So the word must be taken in 2 i 2lh , if 
it be retained in the text (it is lacking in the Grk.), and this sense 
is required by the connection of our verse ; the sage ascribes to 
Wisdom the bestowal of well-being which the psalmist ascribes 
to Yahweh. 19. Synonymous, ternary. Fruit and produce 
( = product, crop, revenue) are synonymous agricultural expres 
sions of blessing and prosperity. As in the preceding verse, 
the blessing is external. The comparison affirms not that Wis 
dom s reward is different in character from gold (namely, moral 
and spiritual), but that it is more splendid and desirable than the 
most precious metals. In first cl. the Heb. has two terms, gen 
erally rendered by gold and fine gold; their precise meanings are 
uncertain, but their combination may be represented by finest 
gold. Cf. note on v 10 . 20, 21. Both couplets are synonymous; 
v. 20 is ternary, v. 21 ternary-binary. Wisdom sums up her promises 
of reward in the declaration that she deals equitably and justly 
with her friends. Equity and justice are synonyms. The former 
term represents the Heb. word rendered by prosperity in v. 18 ; 
here it is a quality of action (= right decision), there it is the 
result of this action. The statement of v. 20 is simply I deal justly. 
Friends, lit. those who love me, as in v. ir ; wealth possession, 
property (RV. substance). The initial particle in v. 21 expresses 
purpose (in order that I may), and this is here equivalent to 
result (so that I do) . Wisdom s justice is guarantee that she will 
properly reward those who devote themselves to her ; the two 
verses may be thus paraphrased : Since I am just, my friends will 
be properly rewarded. The rendering righteousness (instead of 
equity) in v. 20 is misleading ; it conveys to us the idea of obedi 
ence to religious law, or moral and religious purity ; but these 
qualities, though they belong to Wisdom, are not here in question ; 
the writer, as the connection shows, has in mind simply the justice 
which assures to every man his due. At the end of v. 21 Grk. 
adds, as introduction or transition to the following section, the 
words : If I declare to you the things of daily occurrence, I will re 
member to recount the things of old that is, I now pass from our 
present life to the history of the primeval time an explanatory 
note by a scribe, not a part of the original text. 

VIII. iS-2i 171 

12. 11) \-i:r J , an improbable expression; (P KartffK^vuffa; 5JT r^a create 
(cf. I ink); read Tj:D"i understaiiit, or .-:>, which is graphically not hard, 
if the L- of -r;^r may he miswriting of preceding i (in 17;-). Before .-17:7 
insert 1 . 11) NS7N; (5 fTTfKa\fcrd/j.-rji>, for ( lag.). 13. ID ;"> rs;U ; 
on $J" cf. I ink.; on an apparently personal interpretation of -;-\ (= A/,/ w,/;/) 
in Tabu, see II. Deutsch, Spr. Sal., p. 6S. 14. In \ve must either take ;x 
as preposed subject, and insert i before mi3J, or, what is simpler, following 
(5, change JN to *\ 16. li) VN v J2r s r; (5 rvpawoi KparovcrL yrjs; read 
N v j;r>. For ^-IN ^3TIL and many Ileb. MSS. and printed Kdd. give >-:> 
(see I)e Rossi), which seems to be scribal repetition from end of preceding 
verse; after ^DZ- we expect 3 before p- V, as in \p 96 1:! 98 . On 5 3T see Pink. s 
note. 17. Read Oeri anx (so (ftS); Hi. 3ix n> ^-is >;N I love Inm u lio lores 
Yn/i, an improbable reading. 18. ?i) r~." , (3 iro\\uv, perhaps for TraXaiuv 
((irabe, cited by Lag.); x -v7i and riches ; 5 = 11); \ flprfv^; ^ 
(and O) TraXaios; 1L supcrbac. 20. At the end adds dvaffTp^, to 
correspond with the vb. of first cl., but against the rhythm. 21. 11) u-; 
<& virapj-iv; iT Nr.x^ D N^-J- many years ; $ N^3D //< /t ; 1L ufditeiii. On the 
form cf. Ksv., 146 </, Stade, i< 370 1>, and on the meaning \\\ )P>. ( )n the coup 
let added in (5 (the style of which differs from that of the context) see notes 
of Ja ger, Lag., Baumgartner. 

22-31. Wisdom s primeval life with Yahweh. A section 
distinct from, but allied to, the preceding. The statement of 
Wisdom s rewards is followed by a description of her creation and 
her intimate relations with Yahweh ; the picture is similar to that 
in 3 -", but is more detailed, with distincter personification, ap 
proaching but not reaching hypostatization. Wisdom was brought 
into being before Yahweh began the work of creation (v. -"-"- ), was 
present when he established heavens, sea, and earth (v.- 7 ~- ;i ), rejoic 
ing in all his work (v." u;1 ). This is the culmination of the portrai 
ture, in Proverbs, of Wisdom s function in the world : she is the 
source of sound knowledge in life (v/" 11 ), she conducts the gov 
ernment of society (v. 1 - " ), and confers the noblest rewards (v. 1 ""- 1 ), 
she antedates human experience, having been present at the con 
struction of the world (v.~" ::1 ). The description is completely 
non-national and universal, and thus stands in contract with the 
similar passage in Ben-Sira (Yh. 24), in which Wisdom dwells in 
Israel and is identified with the Jewish l;iw. From the more 
vivid and human picture of Wisd. Sol., ch. 7 it differs in its 
architectural simplicity and solidity, while 1 hilo s Wisdom is more 
philosophical in form and comes to the very verge of hvpostasis. 


In Job 28 the representation of Wisdom is ethical, not cosmo- 
gonic : eluding man s search she is declared by God to be iden 
tical with righteousness. Proverbs offers the earliest surviving 
form of that Hellenized conception which finally took complete 
shape in Philo. The sage of Proverbs is thoroughly Israelitish, 
but his idea of the unity and order of the world has been formed 
in an atmosphere pervaded by Greek thought. His Wisdom is 
the creature of Yahweh, God of Israel and of the whole earth, but 
is at the same time the highest intelligence, conceived of as 
present with God in the creation of the world, and directing all 
human life a conception which thus combines philosophic uni 
versality and Jewish theistic belief. 

With the picture of creation here given cf. that of Gen. i, that 
of Job 38*-", and the Babylonian cosmogonic epic.* Our poem 
divides itself naturally into four parts : Wisdom s primeval origin 
(v. 2 -- 2J ) ; her birth before the world (v. 2 *- 20 ) ; her presence at the 
creation of the world (v. 27 - 29 ) ; her joyous existence in the pres 
ence of God (v. :!a:u ). The third division seems to refer in a gen 
eral way to the second : v.- 8 - 2ta have the same material as v.- 4 , and 
v. 291 has the same as v. 25 - 2G ; v.- 7 has no antecedent, unless there 
be in v.~ 2:3 an implication of the creation of the heaven (cf. Gen. 
i 1 ). The paragraph consists of ten couplets, and might be 
written as five quatrains (so Bickell), but the logical division 
would thus be abandoned. 

22. Yahweh formed me as the beginning of his creation, 
The first of his works, in clays of yore; 

23. In the primeval time was I fashioned, 

In the beginning, at the origin of the earth. 

24. When there were no depths was I brought into being, 
No fountains full of water; 

25. Before the mountains were sunk, 
Before the hills was I brought into being, 

26. When he had not yet made the earth, [] f 
Nor the first of the clods of the world. 

* See Delitzsch s edition of the poem, and the discussion of it in M. Jastrow s 
Relig. of Babylonia and Assyria, ch. 21. 
t Ileb. adds : and t/ic fields. 

VIII. 22-2, 

2~. When lie established the heavens I wns there, 

When lie marked off the vault mi the face of the deep, 

28. When he made linn the clouds above, 
i Fixed fast the fountains of the deep, 

29. When he set bounds to the sea, [ J * 
When he laid the foundations of the earth. 

And I was at his side, as his i ward, 

Sporting in his presence continually, 

31. Sporting in his world. 

22, 23. Wisdom s primeval origin. 

22. Synonymous, quaternary-ternary. Instead of Yaliweh Tnrg. 
has God. The rendering formed (= created] is supported by 
the parallel expressions in v. -" - - (made or ordained and bronglit 
into being) ; the translation possessed (RV.) is possible, but does 
not accord with the context, in which the point is the time of 
Wisdom s creation. -The Hebrew, all the Greek Versions, and 
the best MS. of the Vulgate (Cod. Amiatimis) have as the begin 
ning, Clementine Vulgate, Syriac, Targum /// the beginning (so 
RV.) ; the two readings are substantially identical in meaning, 
but that of the Hebrew is favored by the form of second cl. (first), 
and by the similar phrase in Job 40 1;l , where Behemoth is described 
as the chief (lit. beginning) of the creation of Got/. \ Creation is 
lit. way, = procedure, performance (Job 26" 4O 1;| ) ; Grk. has phi. 
ways, which is perhaps favored by plu. works of second cl. First 
(RV. margin) is the more natural rendering of the Hebrew ; 
before ( RV. and some Anc. Vrss.) is hardly allowable. Cf. ///, 
beginning of the creation of God (Rev. 3"), and the firstborn of 
all creation (Col. i " ). /// days of yore (RV. of old} = "in 
remotest antiquity"; see note on the parallel expression in next 
verse. 23. Synonymous, binary. While v.~ describes Wisdom 
as the first of Vahweh s works, v.- :! gives the time of her creation 
in general terms. The Hebrew prepositions introduce the point 
of time not before which (RV., some Anc. Vrss.) but at which the 
creation took place. Primenil time (usually ererlasting in RY.) 


is time hidden by distance, remote, dim, in the past or in the 
future ; in Mic. 5 <AI) it is used to express the remote origin of the 
Davidic house : a ruler in Israel whose origin is long ago in the 
distant past. The familiar expression from everlasting to everlast 
ing gives the two termini of a long period, from a remote past 
to a remote future ; so in \\i go 2 , where the termini, applied to 
God, are indefinitely remote, though the Hebrew word has not 
the modern sense of the temporally infinite. The rendering 
fashioned is favored by the formed of v." (see also the verbs 
expressing birth in v. 24 25 ). It seems, however, to be forcing the 
terms when it is held (Frank.) that v.-- 23 refer to Wisdom s con 
ception in the womb, and v. 24 " 20 to her birth ; both paragraphs 
relate to her birth, the difference between them being that the 
first is general, the second specific. The rendering (see \\i 2 G ) 
ordained, established (RV. set up), = placed in position, is per 
mitted by the connection, but is less apposite. The origin (lit. 
first times) of the earth = the beginning of Yahweh s work. 
Wisdom, though coeval with the beginning of the divine activity, 
is created at a definite point of time, and thus differs from the 
Logos of Philo and the Fourth Gospel. The date and occasion 
of the beginning are not defined (though Wisdom precedes the 
physical world), and nothing is said of the existence of Wisdom 
or of the nature of the life of God before the creative work 

24-26. Wisdom anterior to the physical world. 

The physical world is described by its parts : in v. 24 the waters, 
in v. 23 the mountains, in v. 26 the soil. 24. Synonymous, binary. 
Depths are the great masses of water, seas and rivers, including 
probably the subterranean ocean whence fountains spring ; see 
note on 3 - . Brought into being, lit. brought forth ; the same 
figure is used of the earth in ^ go 2 , and of the sea in Job 38 s ; 
here it seems to be a pure figure of speech (parallel to formed, 
v. 2 -), with no reference to physical begetting; Wisdom is the 
creature, not the child, of Yahweh. In the Hebrew of second cl. 
the fountains are described by a term usually understood to mean 
heavy, heavy-laden, and so abounding (RV.) or rich (in water) ; 
the word occurs nowhere else in this sense, and is not found in the 

VIII. 23-26 175 

Grk. ; a slight change of the Heb. gives the meaning /,///, but 
the word should perhaps be omitted. 25. Synonymous, ternary. 
The word sunk refers to the ancient view that the mountains were 
solid structures resting on foundations sunk deep in the earth 
down to the floor of the subterranean ocean ; so i// iS 1 " the f<>nn - 
if a f ions of the mountains shook (in an earthquake), and Jon. 2 " 
1 went down to the bases (or, extremities} of the mountain* (the 
level of the bottom of the sea).* 26. Synonymous, ternary. 
The Hebrew reads : the earth and the outside places. The expres 
sion outsiilc places is difficult. To understand it as referring to 
the heavenly spaces (for which it would be a strange and improb 
able term) seems forbidden by the parallelism, second cl. speaking 
of the earth alone. The word must mean fields, as in Job 5 ". To 
obtain a contrast some expositors take earth as = cultivated land, 
and fields as = uncultivated land, but this does violence to the 
language. It is difficult to regard the t\vo terms as synonymous, 
as in Job 5 ; in Job they occur in different clauses in proper par 
allelism, while here they stand together connected by and (which 
can hardly be taken as = namely), and, even if the synonymity 
were allowed, we should have to suppose a whole to be put in ap 
position with some of its parts. This is obviously different from 
the common expression the earth and all tJiat it contains (the 
earth and the fulness thereof). We get no light on the verse 
from the Anc. Vrss. Grk. : the Lord made countries and uninhab 
ited tracts and inhabited summits of the region under the heavens, 
which follows the Heb. in a general way, but yields no sense. 
Syr. Targ. Lat. have rivers instead of outside places ; Aq. and 
Sym. have exits. Either these renderings are guesses, or they rep 
resent forms of text different from ours. It seems impossible to 
fix the Heb. original, but, in any case, both clauses refer to the 
creation of the earth, and the expression outside places may be 
omitted without detriment to the thought. For Heb. firs t (or, 
mass) of the clods (or, dust) Lat. has poles; the chronological 
rendering first (instead of mass) is favored by first line (not 



27-31. Wisdom present at the construction of the universe. 

27-29 describe the creation of the physical world (omitting 
heavenly bodies and animate things), probably selected on ac 
count of its obvious grandeur ; the wonderfulness of man is rarely 
spoken of in OT. (^ 8. 139). Cf. Job 3S 4 11 . 27. Synonymous, 
ternary. The heavens sky, thought of as a solid expanse 
(Gen. i fi ) to be fixed in its place. To the eye it appears as the 
interior of the dome, a circle, sphere, vault, on which God is said 
to walk (Job 22") ; this vault descends on all sides to the terres 
trial expanse, forming a circle (the horizon), and is said to rest on 
the deep, that is, the ocean which not only underlies but also flows 
round the world (Gen. i 2 ^ 104"). This conception (to which 
that of the Babylonians and Greeks is similar) * rests on the 
simplest geographical observation. If the rendering circle be 
adopted (RV.), instead of vault, the reference will be to the hori 
zon. 28. Synonymous, ternary. Clouds (AV.) as in 3-, not 
skies (RV.), the heavens (= skies) being mentioned in the pre 
ceding verse ; the Heb. word is used for the sky apparently con 
ceived of as an expanse of clouds (Dt. 33 20 ^ i8 11(12) ). In the 
second line the fountains of the deep might, from the parallelism, 
be interpreted as the celestial sources of water, stored above the 
firmament, whence descends the rain when the windows of heaven 
are opened (Gen. y 11 ) ; the sea is mentioned in the next verse. 
But the deep is elsewhere always the sea, and must probably be 
so understood here in this verse its formation, in v.- J its limita 
tion. In accordance with the phraseology of the rest of the para 
graph we must read fixed fast (instead of became fast or strong, 
or burst violently forth}, a reading supported by the Greek, and 
obtained by a slight change in the Hebrew. 29. A triplet (as 
the text stands) ; the first and second lines form a couplet, synony 
mous, ternary, and the third line also is ternary. The bounds of 
the sea are fixed, as in Gen. r 1 - 10 Job 38 8 " 1 ^ i04~ 9 . Lit. when he 
set to the sea its bound ; the rendering when he ordained his decree 
for the sea does not accord so well with the following clause. 
Nor, in second cl., is the translation should not pass beyond its shore 
allowable, since the Heb. word ( ) is never used in the sense of 

* Jastrcw, op. cit.; 11. 18, 607; Herod. 4, 36. 


shore. The earth is described as founded, like a building, in 
many passages in OT. (Jer. 31- " Isa. 5i 1:! Job 38 \\> 24- 82 " 104" ). 
and the word is to be interpreted literally. The Vatican (Irk. 
omits the first and second clauses of this verse (probably by scribal 
oversight) ; Bickell, to avoid the triplet form, omits the third. The 
symmetrical arrangement of the other verses suggests that a line 
may have here fallen out of the Hebrew text, or been added to it. 
There is no trace of a missing line. The third line corresponds 
to v.- 5 J \ and seems to be necessary; but second line, an explana 
tion of first line, is not necessary, and may be a gloss suggested 
by Job 38 11 . 

30, 31 describe Wisdom s manner of life at the side of Yahweh 
during the work of creation. Text and translation are difficult. 
Cf. WS. y- -S 1 . 30. Apparently ternary; v. :; " appears to belong 
with v. :;la , the two lines forming a couplet (ternary). The verb 
was refers the paragraph to the period mentioned above, the time 
of creation. The expression at //is side implies intimate associa 
tion, but not necessarily architectonic activity ; in itself it conveys 
only the idea that God s work was characterized by wisdom. 
The word rendered ward in the translation above occurs only here 
in OT., and its meaning is doubtful. By a change of form it may 
be understood as having the same sense as the similar term in 
Cant. 7"- , artist, here architect, master-workman;* the objection 
to this rendering is that in the preceding description Yahweh him 
self is architect, and in the following context Wisdom is repre 
sented as sporting, not as working, f A different change of the 
Heb. word gives the form found in Lam. 4-" , = one brought up, 
cherished, whence a hi inn us (alumna}, nursling, foster-child, \ or 
guarded, under protection, ward (Frank.). Frankenberg under 
stands the procedure of the paragraph thus : Wisdom is conceived 
(v. 2J -- ! ), is born (v. L>4 " - "), is present at the creation (v. J7 " L " ), is, as 
young child, at Vahweh s side, under his care, living a joyous life. 
The sense nursling accords with the succeeding context, and with 

t Aq., Rashi, A\ ., Schult., ,;/. 


the representation of the whole paragraph, and corresponds, as 
passive, to the active nurse or tutor, male (Nu. n lL> 2 K. to 1 
Isa. 49 - 3 Esth. 2 7 ) or female (2 S. 4 Ru. 4" ). The renderings 
faithful (Targ.) and continually (Hoffman, Schriftbewcis, I., 97) 
are not allowable ; the Heb. might be changed so as to give the 
sense continually, parallel to day by day, and to the adverb in the 
third line, but the change would be arbitrary and graphically hard. 

WS. 9, Wisdom, who knows thy works, was with thee, was pres 
ent when thou madest the world, appears to be a philosophically 
colored reproduction of this line. In second line the Heb. reads 
lit. : / was delight, which may mean " I experienced an emotion of 
delight " or " I was a source of delight " (to God), = his delight; * 
the latter is the sense of delight in most of the passages in which 
the word occurs (Isa. ^ Jer. 31 - ^ iiQ 34 " -), but the former is 
favored by the connection, in which is portrayed Wisdom s joy in 
the contemplation of the divine creation (Wild., al.) ; cf. Job 38 7 . 
For the construction (/ was delight I was full of delight) cf. 
\l/ i20 7 : / am peace, = "I am for peace (or peaceable)," and 
Gen. 12 s : be thou blessing, = "be thou full of (or, a type of) 
blessing." The picture of enjoyment is continued in the next 
line by the term sporting or laughing (RV., rejoicing), which in 
like manner portrays Wisdom s delight in God s work. The word 
can hardly have the sense joyously active, which would be appropri 
ate if Wisdom were represented as master-workman. ,f 31. Ter 
nary. The first line seems to be identical in meaning with v. 3iv . 
His world is lit. the. world of his earth, in which expression the 
first term may represent as an organized whole that which the 
second term represents merely as a mass. The expression is, 
however, more probably a rhetorical aggregation ; the two terms 
are really synonymous (as in v. 2(J , i/> 9O 2 a!.), the first being poetic, 
the second the ordinary prose word ; the first does not mean 
specifically the inhabited world, fj otKou/teVr/ (as RV. interprets it) 

both terms are occasionally used in that sense (^ 96 13 ). It 

* So Grk., RV., Oort, Frank., al. 

t The verb is used to describe the play of the people in a festival (Ex.32 6 ), 
dancing etc. in a religious procession (2 S. 6 - 1 ), and a military combat of cham 
pions (2 S. 2 1 *- 6 ) ; in the last case the " sport " was of the grimmest, but it was 
apparently regarded as a spectacle in which the two armies found relaxation and 

VIII. 3o-3> I-Q 

does not seem to be the intention of the poet to represent Wisdom 
as passing from the divine presence into the world of men ; the 
point in the whole of the preceding description is her intimate 
association with Vahweh in the creation of the world not as 
architect or adviser, but as companion it is the poetical expres 
sion of the fact that wisdom is visible in the construction of the 
world. This being the theme, it seems improbable that at the 
end so important a point as Wisdom s dealing with men (which is 
treated at length in the first half of the chapter) would be intro 
duced with a brief sentence, and with the term sporting. For this 
reason the second line, and my (/dig/if was -with mankind (lit. with 
tin- sons of me 11), appears to be an addition by an editor or scribe 
who desired to see a reference to Wisdom s work among men. But, 
in the preceding description of creation man is not mentioned, 
the author choosing to confine his view to the physical world (cf. 
Job 38. 39, where only things non-human are mentioned). (Irk. 
regards Yahweh as the subject of the couplet : when he rejoiced 
at /taring finished the inhabited world, and rejoiced among the 
sons of men (following Gen. r ;I ), but the change of subject is 

32-36. Wisdom s concluding exhortation to men. The He 
brew reads : 

32. And now, my sons, hearken to me 
Happy are they who walk in my ways. 

33. Hear instruction that ye may he wise, 
Reject it not. 

34. Happy is the man who hearkens to me, 
Watching continually at my gates, 
Waiting at the posts of my doors. 

35- I 1 i he who linds me finds life. 

And obtains favor from Vahweh. 
30. And he who misses me wrongs himself 

All who hate me love death. 

In the Hebrew text the order is unsatisfactory; \!" is closely 
connected with v. 3 - a , and v. :la with v." - 1 this is nearly the order of 
\ at. (Irk., which, however, omits v." ; . Following this suggestion, 
with some modifications, we might read : 

And now, my sons, hearken to me, 
Hear my instruction, reject it not. 


Happy is he who walks in my ways, 
Happy the man who hearkens to me, 
\Vatching, etc. 

If v. 3 - be retained, as in the Hebrew, its symmetry would be im 
proved by reading the second line : Reject not my admonition. 
The lines in the Heb. text are ternary, except v. iib , which has 
only one beat ; in the emendation suggested above this exception 
disappears. The emendation also gets rid of the triplet (vv" 4 ), 
and gives a series of synonymous couplets. Bickell, by inser 
tions, makes three quatrains. The happiness of the devotee of 
Wisdom (the central thought of chs. 1-9) is here stated in general 
terms. Such an one waits at her doors (v. 34b ) like a suppliant for 
royal favor. The content of the happiness is expressed (v. 35 ) by 
the equivalent terms life and the favor of Yahweh, the opposite of 
which is wronging one s self and death (v. 30 ) . The life and death 
are, as elsewhere (i 32 2 21 " 3, etc.), physical, but with the conno 
tation of general earthly well-being or failure, bodily and moral. 
The opposite of finds is misses (v. 36 , RV., marg.), that is, fails to 
find metaphorical expression taken from missing a mark; sin 
also in Heb. is conceived of as a failure to hit the mark, but the 
sense sins against (RV.), which the Heb. word might conceivably 
have, does not accord with that of the parallel clause. There is, 
however, in misses an element of conscious action ( = purposely 
fails to find}, which is definitely expressed in the parallel hate 
(v. 36 ) = deliberately disapprove and reject (cf. v. 33 ). It is the free 
human will that is appealed to (as in i- 5 and throughout the 
Book) of their own motion men accept or reject the highest 
things. Those who reject instruction do violence to, wrong them 
selves (his soul = himself }, and, hating the source of life, love 
death (see 2 22 4 5 s y 27 ) ; the rendering his life, instead of him 
self (v. t%a ), is less accurate. By change of text despises may be 
read (as in i5 32 ), instead of wrongs, but the change is not neces 
sary. With the independent action of man accords the attitude 
of God to those who choose aright he shows goodwill, friend- 
liness, favor (v. 3 ) -- his opposite attitude toward the unwise is 
stated in 3 3 -"" " (cf. ^ iS 25 2C(2C 27) ). The relation of God to human 
conduct is here described as that of a judge he is not said to 
inspire or guide, but to bestow favor or disfavor according to 
desert (so generally in OT.). 


This description of wisdom lias played a prominent part in theo 
logical history, especially in the history of Christian dogmatics. 
It is imitated in 1!S. i " " 24 ; in the latter chapter Wisdom is iden 
tified with the l,a\v, and so generally in the later Jewish expository 
works.* In \Yisd. Sol. 7 it is Wisdom s relation to the human 
soul that is expounded. The NT., chiefly occupied with other 
points of view, barely alludes (Mt. n 1 1 i Cor. i- 1 Col. i 1 " li; ) to an 
identification of Wisdom with the Messiah. Philo s treatment of 
the conception hardly goes beyond the OT. point of view.f The 
Jewish schools appear to have laid no stress on the demiurgic 
function of wisdom as such. J It is in the Christian Church that 
the idea first assumed importance. The whole passage, Pr. 8~~ 31 
(especially v. 2 -) was early employed in the controversies respecting 
the nature of the Second Person of the Trinity, particularly in con 
nection with the idea of eternal generation ; the argument turned 
in part on the question whether the verb in v.~ was to be trans 
lated by created or by possessed. The passage was used by the 
Sabellians, and is referred to as proof of the uncreated person of 
the Son by Irenaeus, || Tertullian.^f and especially by Athanasius 
(against the Arian position),** and later by Augustine, tt and 
Basil of Caesarea j J ; it has often since been cited as proof- 
text.^ It seems obvious that it gives a personification, intended 
to affirm the wisdom manifest in the creation of the world an 
approach (under Creek influence) to hypostasis, but not more 
than an approach. 

22. 11? in-; IT NTS It) ;;-.; n * A > "" (and s.i 55T) fKTifffv, II-P 23 
(Ycnet.), 252, A B eKTrjaaro, and H, possedit. (? renders "~> l>y et y, and 
omits 7N"; the rendering appears to lie an error of the translator, and not 

* Mit/i-tis/i Mis/il,- on I r. 8--, /!,>: A\i>>., c. i, a!. 

t See Druinmond, Fhilo-Jtidaem;, Bk. 3, eh. 6, p. 212; Siegfried, 1 hilo -\ni 
Alex dud.; Briggs, A/essia/i of Apostlcs, ]). 495-514; Toy, Judainn and I /instian- 
ity, ]>. 99-102. 

I See Weber, Tlieol^ic (on M,->III\I, Metatrou, ete.). 

^ Dorner, l\-rson <;/ Clin.-.t, Kng. ti\in-,l. I., 2, p. 183 f. 

|i Guit. Hacr., Bk. 4. eh. 20. 

II Co/if. /V,M-., ch. 7. ff /), Tnn., T5k. I., eh. 12. 

** DC Decrct., ij?, 14, and Orat. II., chs. i ">-22. l\ Letters, 8, o. 

\\^ In ( rif. \n\ (on S--) l>y ( alv. ///./., _, 14, 8, Turn tinc, ///., 3, 29, and (appar 
ently) by Dick, l/ii\ /., cli. 30, but not by I lodge and other recent writers. 


designed to avoid the expression of primeval origin, which it brings out fully 
in the context. J52T Dip |C; 3L antequam. The construction of this verse, 
and particularly of Dip, is difficult. Dip is not a preposition in Heb. (KY. 
before), nor does it elsewhere occur as noun = foremost, first (what was the 
Heb. original of BS. I 4 irporepa. iravruv we do not know). Either (if the text 
be retained) it must be read as an Aram, form, Dip (which is not a probable 
writing for the original text), or it must be conjecturally assumed to mean 
first. If the context (v. 23 ) be held to call for the temporal interpretation 
of the two predicates, we must read n^N^a (so Jerome, Ep. 140, ad Cyp.}. 
The difficulty with Dip might be avoided by reading : TNO ^hys Dipc, of old he 
created me, of yore ; there would then be no word in answering to the 011 
of a , but this would not be an insuperable objection. 23. J|? TDEJ ; tfcfJieXtu- 
aev, as if from ID , and so j& ijjpns, and 3 (pass.) rujprn N; A /careo-rd^i/; 
IL ordinata sum. The signification put, set, establish for the stem -|DJ is 
assured by i/ 2 6 , and by Ass. nasak ( = put, set, De., Hwbuch); possibly this 
signitication and the pour out of Heb. are connected; Ass. has nisakku 
( priest}, and both Ass. and Heb. have ~\D] prince, perhaps = one set (in 
official position), possibly, like nisakku, a fourer (of libations). But the 
derivation of our word from "po is more satisfactory (Ew., Hitz., Frank.) ; 
in3Dj was read by 2 (and, according to one account, by 6), TrpoKexei piff/xcu, 
probably for -rrpoKexpiff/J-o-i, and (De.) by Grace. Ven., /C(fxu/xcu. 24. |i) \~SSn; 
(5, less well, woirjffai. ||=J ^33J lacking in <@>, and perhaps to be omitted as 
yielding no satisfactory sense; we may, however, read ^N^CJ or N^:: (cf. 
Eccl. II 3 ). Bottcher s noblest of waters is not appropriate. Oort D^ pa: cleft, 
with omission of Die, does not commend itself. The dag. forte in the i seems 
to be due to the rapid pronunciation of stat. const. 26. |!? sS i; 1 ; (5 Kvpios, 
free rendering, or possibly = IJIN. $=J msin; ( dot/cijToi/s; the word is in 
compatible with ins (perhaps inserted from Job 5 10 ), and is better omitted. 
Sdl rivers, on which see Noldeke s remark in Pink. $J p-nav C ^; Graetz 
noblest of dust, = gold (Job 28 6 ). For 7 Dys. writes ^D; heights, an unneces 
sary change; < oiKo^^va, the origin of which is doubtful; Baumg., probably 
rightly, rejects Aram, nncy inhabited ; Heicl. suggests nm>, the name of one 
of the seven heavens, according to Pirke Eliezer, c. 18 (see f 68 5 ); cf. Levy, 
Chald. Wort. 27. ?Q Jin (see Isa. 4O 22 Job 22 14 ); <5 Opftvov, perhaps after 
Job 22 14 . @ ai>t/j.ui>, mnn, or freely takes Dinr. to be the upper ocean, the 
source of rain and wind-clouds, and so perhaps, in next verse, TTJS vir ovpavbv. 
28. $J rr;; write my (Oort, Bi.), from the connection, and (5 do-0aAe?s 
trldfi. < T^S vw ovpavbv (see preceding note), perhaps = ^3.1 (cf. v.- c ) ; 
Just, and Iren. are cited in H-P as having apt<r<rov, and Lag. holds this to be 
the genuine reading of (5. 29. <S B omits -, apparently by scribal error; 
Bi. omits c as induced by the erroneous Grk. text of v.- 7b ; probably 11? has lost 
a line. For $ pin B had pin, a good reading, but no change of ty is neces 
sary. 30. |$ j -:N; taken from stem JEN firm by <S ap^ovaa; S: NJprn 
arranger (or perhaps pass., = fir in, trusty}; 20 iffr-r]p(.y^vn; II cuncta com 
ponens ; understood as connected with jr* nurse by A -T^VDV^V^ (= ps, 

IX. 1 83 

cf. Lam. 4 : (iraet/) ; rendered as ;.dj. by J" xr:~^-? faithful, trusty. Nouns 
of the form K -j,i are either abstract nouns of action (Inf. abs.), or of the 
nature of I res. Parts., usually of stative vbs. (i-," 1 ), sometimes of active or 
voluntative vbs. (j; is , perhaps ps lord ); on the norm see Lw., <j 152 / ; on 
the masc. lorm, lies.-", 122. 2. c. Anm. I. For the name of agent we expect 
the lorm "^p, as in Cant. 7-, and Ass. nmnicinu. Read fix. Cf. Ill )!!., s.v. 
]t">x and jrx. li) C ") ^ - nTiN ; (5 t ",u) i?/-^" 77 irpoGt^ouptv, reading vyrj ; . , 
which, from the connection, is improbable. The expression, which looks tau- 
tologous, is omitted by 15i. as dittography from the context; if it be taken as 
scribal repetition, the cv sv also should probably be omitted. The line may, 
however, be retained; see note on this v. above. 31. (5 understands HIT as 
subject, and at end of a adds ou ireXe cras, perhaps reading r sS r~ for ^nr (Lag.), 
perhaps free translation, since (Ilaumg.) olKov/j.fvt)v suggests s ar. 32. The 
order in (J5 I! is v. :! - a - :>la - ;; - ( - " ctc - (v. ;;:! is omitted), a natural arrangement, 
favored by the i in TNI, which seems to point to a preceding parallel clause. 
ISi., after the Saidic Yrs., fills out v ."-" * as follows: And now, my sons, 
hearken to me ; Hear the instruction \_of my words ! Lire to length of days] 
and be wise, And reject not [mv admonition] , a possible but suspicious ex 
pansion; it introduces the reward (life) in anticipation of v. :;: , and employs 
the doubtful expression C" : 1 "ps s vn (in -^ 23 the verb is different). If not 
the addition of the Coptic scribe, it is based on a doubtful Ileb. text; cf. IJi. s 
note. 33. The Ileb. text is rhythmically unsatisfactory, and, if the verse be 
retained, we should perhaps, with Hi. (see preceding note), add \-n;ir at end. 

35. K Ni": (Q Ni":) seems to be scribal repetition of preceding word; 
i, f^oooi /jiov f^odoi .fw?}s, read -Nsb and \vvb, inappropriate and improbable. 

36. (5 has Part, and vb. plu. in :l probably a change of the (irk. scribe, 
in the interests of rhetorical symmetry ; Ileb. poetry is loiul ol variations of 
grammatical number in adjacent clauses. 

IX. Wisdom and Folly as hosts. This chapter, as it stands, 
consists of three parts. In v. ~ : Wisdom is personified as a house 
holder who prepares a feast (v. 1 - ), to which she invites the unin- 
structed (v. 1 4 ), urging them to partake of her provision and live 
(v. " ") ; cf. i - ""-" 8 - - 1 . In contrast with this, stands, in the third 
part, v. 1:> ~ ls , the invitation of Folly, who, noisy and seductive (v. ;; ), 
sits in a prominent place and calls to the passers-by (v. 11 "), 
tempting the uninstructed youth by promise of secret delights 
(v. 1 "- 1 ), he not knowing that her house is Sheol (v. H ). Standing 
between these two descriptions, and interrupting their connection, 
is the paragraph v. 7 " 12 , composed of separate aphorisms ; it belongs 
by its contents in the succeeding division of the Hook (io -22 li; ), 
and is here doubtless inserted bv scribal error. The remainder of 


the chapter stands in specially close connection with ch. 7 as a 
warning against debauchery. 

1-6. Wisdom s invitation to her feast a semi-allegorical 
description of her gifts. 

1. Wisdom has built her house, 
< Set up > * her seven pillars, 

2. Killed her beasts, mixed her wine, 
And prepared her table. 

3. She has sent forth her maidens < to cry > f 
On the thoroughfares of the city : 

4. " Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither " ! 
To him who is void of understanding she says : 

5. " Come, eat my bread, 
Drink the wine I have mixed ! 

6. Forsake < folly, J and live, 

And walk in the way of understanding " ! 

1. Synonymous, ternary. The building of the house is men 
tioned as a necessary preparation for holding a continual feast ; it 
is an indication that Wisdom has set up a permanent establish 
ment, in which she is ready at all times to entertain all who may 
come to her. Instead of Heb. hewn (the technical term of the 
stonemason) the parallelism favors the builder s term set up, 
reared, erected (so Grk. Syr. Targ.) ; the point is not that the 
pillars are hewn, but that they are put in place, so that the house 
is finished and ready for guests. The pillars are an ordinary archi 
tectural feature of the time, here introduced as a natural append 
age to the house. The precise position of the pillars in the 
Jewish house of this period (c. 3d century B.C.) is not known; 
probably, as in Greek and Roman houses, they surrounded the 
hall or court which was entered from the street-door and was 
used for festive purposes ; they served as support for an upper 
gallery. The number seven is not significant ; either it is merely 
a round number, or it indicates the usual architectural arrange 
ment of the time. The verse easily lends itself to allegorizing 

* Heb. : hewn. \ Heb. : she cries. 

\ Heb. : ye foolish, or, possibly, the foolish (or, simple). 


and spiritualizing interpretation, and has been understood in this 
\vay from an early period. The Midrash takes Wisdom io be the 
l.a\v, which created all the worlds ; 1 rocopius : the enhypostatic 
power of God the Father prepared the whole cosmos as its abode ; 
Rashi : God by wisdom created the world. The sei en pillars 
haye been explained as the seven firmaments or heavens, or the 
seven regions or climates (Midrash) ; the seven days of creation, 
or the seven books of the Law* (Rashi) ; the seven charismata 
or gifts of the Holy Ghost (Procop., Bernard, De.) ; the seven 
eras of the Church (Vitringa) ; the seven sacraments, or the om 
nipotent word of the Son of God (Geier) ; the prophets, apostles, 
and martyrs (J. H. Mich.) ; the seven liberal arts (Heid.) ; the 
seven first chapters of Proverbs (Hitz.).f These interpretations 
carry their refutation on their face. The allegorical element in 
the paragraph is simply the representation of Wisdom as hostess, 
dispensing, in her own house, instruction, here symbolized by 
food and drink. 2. Parallels, quaternary- (or, binary-) ternary. 
In first cl. the Heb. is literally slain her slaying killed her beasts. 
Meat and wine are mentioned as the chief materials of a feast (so 
i Sam. 1 6- Dan. io ; ). Meat was eaten by the Jews probably not 
daily, but on special occasions (festivals), which had a religious 
character. J Fermented wine (Heb. yayin) was a common article 
of food (i Sam. i6 L Job i 13 <// 104 ). It was mixed with spices 
to make it more pleasant to the taste (Isa. 5 -"- i// io2 ; (lm ). The 
Greeks commonly mixed their wine with water in a bowl (krater), 
and the Grk. here introduces this term : she has mixed her wine 
in a krater ; to drink unmixed wine was considered by them un 
seemly (Plato, Laws, I. 9). Which sort of mixing is here intended 
is uncertain.- -The /(?/ /< , originally a leather mat or other mate 
rial laid on the ground (as among the Arabs to-day), came at an 
early time among the Hebrews to be a raised tray or board at 

* (ien. i 1 and Num. io : -J (-c/iai tin- ark fct /<>/ -^\irj, etc.) were regarded, on 
account of their importance, as separate hooks. 

t For other interpretations see notes of (icier, Yininga. De. 

% For the- preexilian custom see I)t. 12-" - ij,-^-", and fur the later usage Lev. 
17"- "; cf. note on I r. 7 N . The daily provision of meat on the king s table 
(i K. 4- :! [5-]) was probably connected with a daily sacrifice. In our verse (Irk. 
has slai/i lit-r offerings. The use of meat is comparatively rare in Palestine at the 
present day. 


which people sat on stools (so, perhaps, i Sam. 2O 25 ) or reclined 
on divans (Am. 6 4 ) ; cf. the tables of the Temple (Ez. 4O 39 Ex. 
25 23 ). 3. Continuous, ternary. The maidens are the necessary 
machinery of invitation, not to be explained allegorically as signi 
fying preachers of righteousness; the householder (as in Mt. 22 " ) 
bids her guests through servants, who thus (as sometimes now) 
take the place of letters. The term is a general one for young 
women, sometimes free and unservile (Gen. 24" Ru. 2 " Esth. 2-), 
sometimes, as here, attendants (so 2y 27 31 "), apparently not 
slaves. According to our Heb. text (she cries} she herself also, 
not content with sending messages, gives her invitation on the 
thoroughfares of the city (lit. high places), elevated places where 
one could easily be seen and heard (see note on 8 2 ) ; these have, 
of course, no connection with the old shrines called highplaces in 
the prophetical and historical books. It is not clear whether it is 
thus intended to represent her (as in i 20 - 21 8 1 " 3 ) as going forth to 
places of public resort, or (as might be suggested by the parallel 
v. 14 below) as having her house and her seat in an elevated part of 
the city. But the syntax and sense of the Heb. are unsatisfac 
tory, and the change of one letter gives the reading she has sent 
forth her maidens to cry ; this is not out of accord with v. 4 , in 
which the proclamation may be understood to be made by Wis 
dom through the messengers. In the Grk. she cries not on the 
heights, but with a loud voice, but this reading is improbable. 
4. Synonymous, ternary. The invitation is addressed to the 
simple and void of understanding, those who have not moral 
insight and power of self-direction, the negative, unformed minds, 
not yet given up to sin, but in danger of becoming its dupes ; the 
steadfastly good and the deliberately evil are not considered 
the former do not need guidance, the latter will not accept it. 
Obviously, however, the author does not mean to exclude any 
class of persons from the counsels of Wisdom ; he writes as a 
practical moralist, and represents the simple as her natural hearers. 
-The division of the verse is unusual ; the second clause, instead 
of continuing the exhortation of the first, introduces a new for 
mula of address ; some expositors, following the Grk. of v. 16 , 
would write : whoso is devoid of understanding, I say to him, etc. ; 
but this would not be a natural form of address see note on v." . 

5. Parallels, ternary. The invitation in figurative form. Ilread, 
which here takes the place of the meat or flesh of beasts of \v, is 
also a necessary part of the feast. 6. Synonymous, ternary. 
The invitation in literal, explanatory form. The Heb. reads: for 
sake, ye simple (RY. incorrectly : hare off, \e simple OIKS), an in 
complete sentence, since the verb requires an object, as in 2 I;; 3 
4-, etc.; the object can hardly be the simple (AV. forsake the 
foolish), for this would be a singular admonition to the simple, 
and the parallelism calls for an abstract noun as object. Some 
(as Kamp.) suppose the object to have fallen out of the text, and 
leave a blank ; others (l)e., Xo\v., Str.) supply simplicity as object : 
forsake, ye simple, simplicity. A better expedient is, by a slight 
change in the Heb. word, to read (as in the (irk.) simplicity or 
folly ; Luther : rerlasset das all>erne wcscn ; cf. i". The word_/W/v 
(which might easily have fallen out on account of its resemblance 
to the preceding) may be added ; but the resulting clause will be 
less rhythmical. Grk. : Forsake folly, tliat \e mav reign forever ; 
and seek discretion, and direct understanding in (or, />y) knowl 
edge a misreading and expansion of the Hebrew. For the 
reign cf. Wisd. Sol. 6 1 1 . 

IX. 1. 11) .--:;-; see note on I- 1 . |i) rnsn; <5 vir^peia-ev, na iM (Yogcl), 
from 3i j; S 11 nrrrD; moy; 5 r-rpx; this reading is favored by the par- 
allelism. 2. Alter nrop (5 has ei? Kparijpa, = D:I, probably not in original 
It) (fallen out by resemblance to preceding word, La-;.), but addition of (Irk. 
scribe for completeness.- On ;n-^ s. Moore, on Ju. r. 3. (5 ooi Aoi-s, peril, 
rhetorical generalization of gender, or scribal error, possibly (Lag.) suggested 
to a C hristian scribe by Mt. 22 :! . It) r-\i <--<:: >s) "; vS->,T; (5 avyKa\ov<ra /JLCTO. 
v^rj\ov Ktjpvy/jia.To?, ,-> being taken as a form of Nip, and 7 "; as adverbial expres 
sion. (5 does not take "I" 1 : as = Jici^Jits ; the word appears to mean rnhcd 
streets here and in S- 9^. The addition eiri Kparrjpa of 1*5 ajipears to be erro 
neous insertion from preceding verse. IL, freely; a,t arccin et aJ moenia ci: ita- 
//.*. It) N^T makes a ditficulty; we exjiect a reference to the maidens, r.s in 
SiTIL, reading r^N-p- or N->,i s , and this form should probably be adopted, in 
spite ot the 5 p. sing. II-N of v/ . \\ m only here and in Kx. 21" \\here it 
=: bod) ; Aram, and Assyr., li in^ ; the stem appears to mean iur- t ii, ti> t ii\l ; 
?*, ; here = ";, if the text be correct; cf. icJ2 \ .\. 21- , = / // hiintel/ . 4. For 
It) ii"N ( )ort <//. would read I p. ^tx or -." "x, but the change is unnecessary. 
(ir.: 1 s ni-xi n;i -^D< 3 s ->D-) T2 >. 5. (? phi. dpTui; as in 2o :! (;en. 14 - 
etc., free use of (irk. idiom, not (Lag.) allusion to Kucharist ( Ino. (>). 
6. It) 2 N~^; (5 a<f>po<rvvi]v, and so all other Vrss. ; read Tr. as the scnsi 
requires; this word may have been read VD and so expanded into 3--; and 


D N.T. Grk. expansion may have come from change of .f^cre-re into 
and introduction of clause from Wisd. Sol. 6 23 (Lag.) ; Baumg. suggests that 
the Grk. translator wrote /Jtwerr/re, which was corrupted (perh. under influence 
of WS. 6- 3 ) into fia.ffi\fvcrriTe, and that K. fijr. (ppoi>. was then added to com 
plete the parallelism. Cf. Lag., Pink. 

13-18. The invitation of Folly. The section is parallel to 
v. 1 " , and should be transferred to this place. The central figure 
plays a part corresponding to and contrasted with that of Wisdom 
above. She is described as noisy (v. la ), sitting in a public place 
(v. 14 ), calling to passers-by (v. 15 ), inviting the simple to come to 
her (v. IG ), promising them stolen pleasures (v. 17 ), which, the sage 
adds, lead to death (v. 18 ). The two sections give the contrast 
between rectitude and sexual debauchery. Cf. 5 2 "- 7 10 "- 1 . From 
the " abrupt " way in which this paragraph is introduced (without 
such preparatory statement as is found in v. 1 - 2 ), its only ground 
being the contrast with Wisdom s invitation, Frankenberg con 
cludes that it is not the work of the author of chs. 1-9 ; the writer 
of v. I3ff -, he observes, regarded the harlot of chs. 5 and 7 as merely 
a personification of Folly a view which appears in the Grk. 
and has survived till now. Certainly the picture in v. 13ff - is based 
in part on chs. 5 and 7, but this fact hardly points to difference of 
authorship ; nor is it introduced with undue abruptness (if it 
assumes v. 1 " 6 ) ; and it is not necessary to suppose because Folly 
is here the harlot of chs. 5 and 7 that the writer did not regard 
this latter personage as a real woman; in chs. 2. 5. 6. 7 Folly is 
identified with sexual immorality. 

13. [] Folly is loud and < seductive, 
She knows no < shame > ( ?) 

14. At the door of her house she sits, 
On [] * the thoroughfares of the city, 

15. To call to the passers-by, 

To those who are going their ways : 

1 6. " Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither " ! 

And to him who is void of understanding she says : 

17. " Stolen waters are sweet, 

And bread eaten in secret is pleasant " ! 

18. But he knows not that the Shades are there, 
That her guests are in the depths of Sheol. 

Heb. : on a seal in (or, near). 

IX. I 3 -I 4 I ,Sq 

13. Rhythm uncertain. Folly s character. The text is doubt 
ful. Heb. : 77ie foolish woman (lit. woman of folly } is boisterous 
(or, loud ), simplicity, and knows not what (or. perhaps, anything) : 
(Irk. : A foolish a/n/ impudent woman comes to lack a morsel, site 
who knows not shame ; Syr. : ./ woman lacking in discretion, seduc 
tive : Targ. : A woman foolish and a gadabout, ignorant, a nil she 
knows not good ; Lat. : .-/ woman foolish and noisv, and full of 
wiles, and knowing notliing at all. From a comparison with the 
parallel v. 1 it appears probable that the woman of the Hebrew is 
a gloss by a scribe who wished to call the reader s attention to the 
fact that folly was a personification ; this being omitted, Folly 
stands opposed to Wisdom. The rendering Madam Folly (taking 
woman of folly as = the woman folly so DC., Kamp.) is hardly 
allowable; elsewhere (n" ; 12 2i J - w 25- 2 y 1 " 31" ) the defining 
noun after woman has adjectival force. The word rendered Folly 
(fern.) occurs only here in OT. ; the corresponding masc. form is 
frequent in Prov.; see i"-- - 3 "" 8 . Instead of boisterous some 
translators (Str., Kamp., Frank.) write passionate (sensuously 
excitable), but this sense for the Heb. term is doubtful ; see notes 
on i J1 7 n . The expression simplicity of the Heb. text is sus 
picious both from its form (abstract noun) and from its meaning 
it is unnecessary to say that folly is foolish ; the connection 
favors a reading (seductive, or enticing) like those given by Syr. 
and Lat., and this is obtained by an inconsiderable change of text. 
The sense of the last clause it is difficult to determine. The Heb. 
hardly permits the translation she knows nothing, and this, more 
over, does not comport with the address and power attributed to 
Folly in the context ; Folly is primarily a moral, not an intel 
lectual term it does not exclude ordinary intelligence as the 
sweeping expression knows notliing appears to do. (irk. sliame 
(which suits the connection) may be doubtfully adopted : the 
Heb. word which it implies is used elsewhere ( i8 1; Jer. 51 Isa. 
50 i// 35- ; a!.) only in the sense of obloquy, never as = the sense of 
sliame. though that may be an accident the verb has this mean- 
in" (!;/. if/ 1 a/.). The C.rk. rendering mav be a free interpretation 

o \ / 

of our Heb. text, as the Targ. goo,/ seems to be.- 14. Synony 
mous, ternary. Folly sits in a prominent place, where she < an be 
seen; Grk. on a seat in public in the streets. Wisdom (v. :; ) cries 


aloud in such places Folly sits and calls; the contrast in the 
methods of the two (the one sending out to seek men, the other 
sitting at home as seductress) does not indicate difference of zeal 

the two descriptions seem to express the same earnestness it 
is perhaps meant to say that Folly, like the unchaste woman 
whom she represents, the symbol of unlawful pleasures, prefers the 
privacy of her house (cf. ch. 7), while Wisdom, the preacher of 
righteousness, boldly gives her invitation in open day and in 
public places ; but the text is not clear, and probably no differ 
ence is intended in the methods of the two, unless it be in the 
sending out of the maidens. In second line we should probably 
read simply : on the thoroughfares, etc., as in v. n , instead of the 
Heb. on a scat in, etc. ; see notes on 8 2 9". Folly, like Wisdom, has 
a house, in which she sets a feast ; the description of the prepara 
tions (cf. v. 1 -) is omitted, probably as an unnecessary repetition. 

15-17. Her invitation, parallel to that of Wisdom (v. 4 ~ ! ) ; v. 16 
= v. 4 ; v. 17 corresponds to v: - . 15. Synonymous, ternary-binary. 
She addresses herself to the passers-by (so Wisdom, i 20 21 8 1 " 3 ), 
remaining, however, at the door of her house. The expression 
those who are going their ways (cl. 2.) = the passers-by (cl. i.), 
not who are going straightforward (right} on their ways the 
intention (as appears from the connection) is to represent these 
passers not as earnest persons bent on going forward without turn 
ing to right or left, but as ordinary wayfarers, to any and all of 
whom Folly addresses herself; a similar verb (walk) is used in 
v. (i ; in 3 n n 3 i5 21 the connection is different. 16. Synonymous, 
ternary. See note on v. 4 . The expressions simple and void of 
understanding, here as there, mean lacking in knowledge of the 
world, imable to recognize good and bad (cL v. 17 ). Instead of she 
says Grk. has I say, a reading which would give unity of form to 
the invitation in this verse, yet is not quite natural, since Folly 
would not address her intended victims as void of sense ; cf. v. 4 . 
17. Synonymous, ternary. The inducement she offers is the 
delight of secret enjoyments, things prohibited by law or con 
demned by society, more tempting because they are forbidden. 
Folly here appears as identical with the strange woman of chs. 5 
and 7. Her water and bread are parallel to the bread and wine 
of Wisdom (v. "), only here the feasting is clandestine the refer- 

IX. 14-iS u^ 

ence is to illicit sexual relations. Stolen waters ( = any illicit 
thing) arc sweet was probably a current proverbial saying; and, 
in the term water, instead of the more festive wine, there may be 
an allusion to the figure of 5 U li; , on \vhich see notes. 18. Synony 
mous, ternary. Comment of the sage : the fate of Folly s guests. 
In 2" 5 ; f~ it is said that the licentious woman s ways lead to 
death; here, in sharper phrase, her house is identified with the 
Underworld it is already in effect in the depths, and its inmates, 
though they have the semblance of life, are doomed and as good 
as dead. The death is physical, as in the parallel passages cited 
above ; the guests are no doubt regarded by the writer as morally 
dead, but that is not the statement here. On S/KH/CS (Refaim) 
see note on 2". The word rendered depths also = rallc\s, but, 
from the connection and from general OT. usage, this cannot be 
understood as a topographical description of Sheol, an assertion 
that it contains hills and valleys. It merely describes Sheol as 
lying deep beneath the earth, but there is possibly an allusion to 
the valley of Rephaim, near Jerusalem (2 Sam. 5 ls lsa. 17-" ). The 
simple youth, who yields to Folly s invitation, is ignorant of his 
danger ; on the class of persons meant see note on v. 1 . Grk. 
here adds four couplets : 

But turn away, linger not in the place, 

Nor set thine eye on her; 

For thus wilt thou go through alien water,. 

And pass over an alien stream. 

l!ut abstain from alien water. 

Drink not of an alien fountain, 

That thou mayst live long. 

That years of life may be added to Ihee. 

This is the addition of a scribe who felt that the curt ending of 
the text needed a hortatory complement ; it mars the poetic unity 
and vigor of the paragraph. The figure of the three first couplets 
is taken from 5 "; the last couplet (a familiar expression) is 
nearly the same as v." of this chapter. 

13. 1) r^ S: and - -;: arc inr. \ey. (both probably Aram, forms : the 
latter may come from a st. vr; ((>ls.),the ./-vowel In ing preserved by the 
doubling of the Vod: I )e., folio;ving Oamhi (.]///{/,>/. iSi,/1, points r- 7;; 
from \~D we should have rvrs. Oort proposes Pi. mr?. which may help to 
account for (5 evSfrjs ^u^ou (from ;; and re); Jiiger points out that (P in- 


volves a form of na. The connection favors the reading n.-io?:, = enticing. 
In niTDa ns x the 3 cannot be appositional definitive (De.). There is no 
example in OT. of a determinative standing in apposition with a single noun 
in stat. const, (irs na is not a case in point, for > here is local definition of 
3) ; on the construction called suspended determination (where one noun 
defines two in stat. const., these being in app. with each other) see Ew. 289 c; 
Ges. 26 130. 5; Moore, Judges, on Ju. ig 2 -; Driver, Dent., on Dt. 2I 11 . Every 
where else in Prov. prx is defined by the following noun, -3 here is parallel 
to ni23n in v. 1 , and ne>N must be omitted as gloss, intended to indicate that the 
nSoa was to be understood as a personification (a woman). Graetz would 
write it Btt ! *t and attach it to preceding verse a possible construction (though 
a2>x does not occur elsewhere with Nrj), but the rhythm is against the addi 
tion of a word in v. 12 . In ns Jag., Hitz., Lag., Graetz, al. see the remains 
of roVa ((g alffx^vriv"), an attractive reading (cf. Jer. 3 3 ) if 3 may be under 
stood as meaning the feeling of shame; this sense it has nowhere else in OT. 
(though ah:, Ni. and Ilof., is so employed) elsewhere it = opprobrium. 
ns is always to be taken as interrog., direct or indirect, even in Gen. 38 8 ; we 
might here read nc-ixa (as in Gen. 396), but the connection does not favor 
the resulting sense. We may doubtfully read noSa less well (Frank.) aSrn 
(Jer. 8 12 ). 14. f|J mp <mr, of which @ eyU^avcDs kv irXaretais may be free 
rendering (see the wholly different wording of <5 in v. 3 ) ; it would seem that 
(05 takes 1310 as = streets or squares ; see note on this v. above. 2T Nr"*; % ) N--I 
and & NSI (omitting the last word) also represent f^, except that & appar 
ently read some form of np> instead of rip (Oort). f$ is suspicious; for 
ND3 we should probably read ^2), as in v. 3 . If our text be retained, it would 
be better to insert a before p c, which expression may, however (Fleisch.) 
be taken as adverbial. 15. |^ ans vs (<S KarevOvvovras ) may be taken in 
the sense of 1L pergcntes, or we may substitute the stem irs, as in 4 14 . 
16. %1 mrx; <5 and & have I p. (the 3 p. occurs in Clem. Al.) ; the 3 p., as 
the harder, is to be retained. 17. < inverts the order of clauses of |i), but 
gives no suggestion for change of our text. 18. (56 5 OVK oidevtirt. y-riyeveis 
(D SSi) irap avrri (su 1 ) SXXvvroi (iDCi?) Kal tirl irtrevpov q.8ov (^l>sr pS>i) 
ffwavrq. (nip). On yrjyeveis cf. note on 2 18 ; other renderings of "i in (5 are 
veKpoi, ylyavres; see Schleusner. , interpreting: pn nS^ss 1 najn that she 
cast down the giants there. On the added couplets in (SS see note above. 

7-12. A little group of aphorisms, belonging in the body 
of the Book; see parallel proverbs in 13 i5 12 19" io 8 17 i6 21 ~ a 
io- n ly , and also i 7 \\i in 10 . They are probably the insertion of 
a scribe who found this a convenient place for introducing into his 
manuscript a collection which was in his possession, or, possibly, 
they are here placed in order to separate the description of detest 
able Folly from that of divine Wisdom. Grk. (see below) ex 
pands v. 1 - with remarks which are apparently designed to pave 

I-V 7-9 193 

the way to the following section. The Hebrew scribe makes six 
couplets, so that this may agree in length with the other sections. 
A certain logical order has been observed : v. 7 and v. s accord in 
thought, and so v. s and v. 1 , and v. 1 " and v." ; v. 1 - stands by itself, 
and may be an afterthought. 

7-9. Results of instruction given to different classes of persons. 

7. He who corrects a scoffer gets insult, 

And he who reproves a wicked man, reviling. 

8. Reprove not a scoffer lest he hate thee; 
Reprove a wise man, and he will love thee. 

9. (live (instruction) to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser; 
Teach a righteous man, and he will gain more instruction. 

7. Synonymous, ternary. The scoffer. On scoffer see note on 
i--, and cf. 13 - 18 1 5 1 " 23 - . The term is here substantially equivalent 
to the wicked of second cl., but further describes the bad man, the 
enemy of wisdom, as one who actively rejects, despises, and mocks 
at true principles of life ; the wicked is, in general, one who ha 
bitually does wrong, and is to be condemned in a tribunal of jus 
tice. Such persons are thought of as past reformation, so that he 
who tries to better them does them no good, but only brings on 
himself insult and reviling. The first of these terms signifies 
originally littleness, despicablencss (so Partcp. in 12 - ), then dis 
grace (3" 6 ") and, actively, belittling, reproach, reriling, insult 
(iS 3 ). The second, as it stands in the Heb., is literally .*yV/, blem 
ish, physical (Cant. 4" Dan. i 1 ), or ceremonial (Xu. 19-, and so 
everywhere in the Pentateuch, except Dt. 32 " , where the text is 
corrupt) ; in Job u 1 (if the text be correct) it appears to mean 
apprehension, fear, or, perhaps, consciousness of guilt (but these 
interpretations are somewhat forced). Here the text is doubtful, 
but the parallelism calls for a word insult. The point of view 
of the verse is similar to that of those sociologists who recognize a 
class of " incapables." 8. Antithetic, ternary. The scoffer and 
the wise man. The first clause repeats the thought of the preced 
ing verse, the second contrasts the conduct of the wise man under 
reproof; cf. 15 " "-, with which verses our v. 7 8 might properly be 
put. 9. Synonymous, ternary. The wise man. See i 5 io s i 2 " 14 
15 -, and especially 2i H . ll isc and righteous are here put as iden 
tical, as throughout the Hook, particularly in io 1 -22 1 1 . The teach- 


ableness of the wise is allied to humility it is the opposite of 
the posture of mind implied in the term scoffer. 

10. The beginning of wisdom is the fear of Yahweh, 

And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. 

Synonymous, quaternary- (or, ternary-) ternary. The verse is 
related in a general way to the preceding context ; the first cl. is 
found substantially in i 7 (with inversion of subject and predicate) 
and \\i in 10 . In second cl., instead of knowledge of( =fear of, obe 
dience to} the Holy One a number of versions and expositors * have 
knowledge (or, counsel) of holy men (the Heb. word is plu.), = 
either the knowledge which good men possess, or that which makes 
men good ; but the parallelism obviously demands a reference to 
God. The plu. word is used of men (Israelites) in ^ 34 10 Dan. 8 24 , 
of angels in Zech. 14 Job 5 15" 4/ 89" (and Aramaic, Dan. 4 17(U) ), 
but of God only here and 3O 3 (the sing, is common). The plu. 
(here probably used as expressing extent and majesty) may have 
been suggested by the plu. form Elohim for God, or it may have 
arisen in the same way (an original mass of divine beings in a 
community afterwards conceived of as one being) ; cf. plu. for 
Creator, Eccl. i2\ f and Aram. Heavens, God, Dan. 4- G < 23 >. The 
term belongs to the later, more refined, vocabulary, which sought 
to designate the divine Being by his ethical qualities. On the 
thought see note on i 7 ; knowledge of the divine will is theoretical 
wisdom, but cannot be separated from reverence ( obedience), 
which is practical wisdom. The divine law here had in mind is 
ethical, not ritual, and obedience to it is held to secure prosperity. 

ii. For by me will thy clays be multiplied, 
And the years of thy life increased. 

Synonymous, ternary. Instead of by me, Syr. Targ. (and appar 
ently Grk., in this way) have by it, which effects some connection 
with the preceding verse, the it being the fear or the knowledge of 
God. But this connection is not quite natural (we should perhaps 
expect rather them than / /, and the for is not appropriate), and it 

* Grk., Vulg., Luther, AV., Procop., Rashi, J. H. Mich., al. 

+ The clause Eccl. I2 1 " probably does not belong; to the original form of the 
verse, but it shows tin- linguistic usage of the later period. Bickell s emendation 
thy wife, instead of thy Creator, is, on exegetical grounds, out of the question. 


may be just as well to retain our Hub. text, anil regard the verse 
as the only surviving part of a paragraph, the me referring to 
wisdom mentioned in a lost couplet. The general sense is not 
affected by this difference of reading. There is no connection 
with v ; . For the thought see 3- " ; io- 7 u/ : , in which long life is 
the reward of fearing (iod. 

12. If thou art wise, thou art wise for thyself, 

And, il thou art a scoffer, thou alone must bear (the consequences). 

Antithetic, ternary. Of this verse (which is quite isolated, hav 
ing no connection with the context, and no parallel in the whole 
Book) we have two forms, in the Hebrew and the Creek. The 
?Iebrew, given above, affirms sharply the principle of individual 
responsibility, generalizing the idea of Kz. iS 4 (he wlio sins, he 
[alo>h ~\ shall t/ii ) ; the prophet declares that every Israelite shall 
bear the consequences of his sin the sage extends the princi 
ple to all moral life, a principle certainly involved everywhere in 
Proverbs, but nowhere else expressed under the form of moral 
isolation. The writer has in mind, however, not a selfish isolation 
(it is not the command thon sJtalt l>c wise}, but the impossibility 
of vicariousness in the moral life. (irk. (followed by Syr.) reads : 
If thou be wise, for thyself tliou shalt be wise and for thy neighbors, 
but if thou prove evil, tJioit alone shalt bear the evil; the first cl. 
may also be rendered : // tJiou be wise for thyself, thou shalt be 
wise for thy neighbors also the general sense remains the same, 
the man is inseparably connected, on his good side, with his fel 
lows. This pleasant, but untrue, affirmation, that a man s good 
ness benefits his fellows, while his evil affects only himself, looks 
like the effort of an editor to relieve the apparent selfishness of 
the verse. It is hardly correct to say (Ja ger) that the thou alone 
of the Heb. in second cl. indicates, by contrast, the presence of 
ami for thy neighbor in first cl. ; the alone is merely the definite 
statement in one line of the aloneness which is involved in the par 
allel line. A change from the Crk. form to that of the Heb. is less 
probable than a change in the opposite direction, and the latter 
should therefore be retained as probably the original. After v. 1 - 

(irk. adds: 

Who stays himself on lies lie feeds on wind, 

And he will follow after wini/ed birds. 


The ways of his own vineyard he forsakes, 

And wanders from the paths of his own husbandry. 

He passes through a waterless waste, 

Through a land given over to drought, 

And with his hands he gathers barrenness. 

Before line 7 Bickell, to complete the couplet, inserts : 
lie sows on an unfilled, waterless soil. 

This paragraph appears to be an amplified form of a Hebrew 
original, taken, perhaps, as Bickell suggests, from a current collec 
tion of aphorisms. The thought is vigorous, but the paragraph 
certainly does not belong in this place, nor did it form a part of 
the original Book of Proverbs, with whose literary style it does not 
agree. The liar is compared to a neglectful husbandman who 
comes to grief. With feeds on wind cf. Eccl. i 14 , and with the 
second line, 2y 8 2$ . 

7. I*? 1 is reproduced by (S-VBXaz. fj,; instead of rroD reprover H-P 23. 68. 
109. 147. al. 3> H && had (the Grk. and S H in a doublet line) rron reproofs, 
which does not agree with the parallelism (cf. Pink.). <& aL /iw/xTjo-ercu favr6v 

ID-ID or iS Dir, and so probably the fj.u\wires a.frr<p of H-P 23 al. (the Aram. 
w wound, scar, proposed by Lag., seems unnecessary). %} is better read 
i 1 ? Dis, though D is suspicious; whether it can be taken as = insult or indig 
nity, as the parallelism requires, is doubtful, but no satisfactory emendation 
of the text suggests itself; possibly we should read ns?3. Gr. rvaiDi v*? ~ 
f?p iS npS IDTO jwV?. 8. The <5 MSS. add a positive doublet of a in varying 
forms. 9. The apparently incomplete expression \-\ is variously supplemented 
by the Vrss.; ( (followed by 5>1L) adds a.<j)opp.-fiv opportunity ; & writes iS.x. 
The rhythm does not suggest an omission in $?, which is intelligible also as it 
stands; but the insertion of a word (= instruction ) in a translation is allowable. 

10. 3$ D BHp is rendered as plu. in all extant Vrss. (the readings of the Hex. 
are not known) except J5 Lee , and Saadia; it seems then to have been under 
stood (except perh. in {) as = righteous men. (5 adds at end : rb yap yvdvan 
v6fj.ov diavoias tariv dyaOrjs, the remark of a legalistic scribe, here out of place. 

For variant expressions in Clem. Al. (which, however, do not necessarily 
mean different MS. readings) see H-P and Lag. 11. |t) ^ is followed by IL 
only; J&C na; TOVTI? r$ Tpbirq, probably = ,13; see note on this verse 
above. $J 13 DP must be taken with indef. subject, but we should perh. read 
Nifal. 12. On the addition of (5 in a /cat rots ir\T)tTioi> see note on this verse 
above, and on (reavr^ Deissmann, Bibelstud., p. I2of. On the added couplets 
see notes of Lag. and Baumg., and for a translation of them into Heb. see 
J)e. (the Germ. ed. the translation is omitted in the Eng. translation). 


On the constitution and date of this division see the Introduc 
tion. The title Proverbs of Solomon belongs to the whole division. 
The proverbs will be arranged in groups as far as their subject- 
matter allows. Ben-Sira is to be compared throughout. 

X. The main thought is that moral goodness and industry 
bring prosperity, and wickedness and indolence adversity the 
portraiture is broad, not going into particulars. The parallelism 
is generally antithetic. 

1. Wise and foolish youth. 

A wise son makes a glad father, 

ISut a foolish son is a grief to his mother. 

Antithetic, ternary. Cf. 19-" 2S 7 . JJ ise = discreet, living a 
good life morally and industrially. We pass now from the philo 
sophical conception of chs. 1-9, in which wisdom is a lore, the 
subject-matter and product of organi/ed instruction, to the every 
day common-sense view of wisdom as general soundness and pro 
priety of conduct. The difference is not, however, to be pressed 
very far it is largely one of shading ; the aphoristic teaching of 
chs. io 1 -22 It) , the outcome of observation under a general religious 
point of view, is expanded in chs. 1-9 into discourses in which 
life is regarded as an organi/ed whole, with wisdom as central and 
governing principle. The antithesis is symmetrical and exact: 
unsc and glad are contrasted with foolish and grief. Glad and 
grief relate primarily to external conditions, such as the satisfac 
tion or worry uhirh come to parents from the good or bad con 
duit and reputation of their children : but the emotion founded 
simply on affection is not to be excluded. The interchange of 
father wcv\ mother is poetical variation ; the meaning is not that 
the father is more interested in the wise son, and the mother in 
the foolish son (special maternal tenderness for a feeble or erring 


child), \>\\\. father and mother stand each for parents. Similarly, the 
silence respecting the daughter is not to be interpreted as showing 
complete lack of interest in female children ; it comes in part from 
the relatively greater seclusion of young unmarried women, and 
their freedom from the grosser temptations of life they might 
naturally be passed over in a book which deals not with the 
inward life, but with visible conduct in the outward world of 
society, and, in fact, the unmarried woman is not mentioned in 
Proverbs. The depraved woman is introduced as a warning not 
to women, but to men ; the good woman of ch. 31 is the married 
head of a household, and is praised mainly for the advantages of 
wealth and social position which she brings to her husband and 
family. The non-mention of daughters and of women in general 
may, however, be attributed in part to the relatively small estima 
tion in which women were held in the ancient civilized world, 
among Chinese, Hindoos, Israelites, Greeks, and Romans.* On 
care of daughters see BS. 7 24 25 26 1(M2 42 ;wl . Similar sayings con 
cerning good sons are cited by Malan from the Ramayana, Confu 
cius, Menander, etc. 

2. Profits of wrongdoing and rightdoing. 

Treasures wrongly acquired profit nothing, 
But righteousness delivers from death. 

Antithetic, ternary. The Heb. has treasures of wickedness, 
= wealth acquired unjustly (not stores or masses of evildoing) ; 
this is contrasted wAh justice, righteousness as a method of proce 
dure in business-transactions and other affairs of life. Ill-gotten 
wealth, says the writer, though it may procure temporary triumph, 
profits nothing in the end, since violence and injustice are sure to 
bring divine or human (legal or private) vengeance on the man s 
head. Justice ( probity), on the other hand, by avoiding such 
vengeance (and having the blessing of God), secures to its pos- 

* On the position of women in antiquity see Revue Encyclopcd., vi. (1896), 825 f. ; 
A. Rebel, Die Fran it. d. Sozialismits, 1891 (Eng. tranl., 1894) ; Th. Matthias, 7.ur 
Stellung d. griech. Fran in il. Massisch. 7.cit, 1893; Marquardt and Mommsen, 
Hdbch. d. romisch. Alterthumer, 1871-1888 ; Gardner and Jevons, Manual of Grk. 
Antiq., 1895; Becker, Char, and Callus. As to Egypt cf. Wilkinson, Anc. Egypt., 
chs. a. 5. 8. etc. 


sessor a long and peaceful life exemption from premature death, 
which is regarded in OT. as a direct divine judgment. Wealth, 
says the sage, will not avert God s judgment, but righteousness 
secures his favor. For the nature of the death see notes on i iy 
2 1 *"", etc.; cf. v." - - 1 - " M of this chapter. That there is no refer 
ence to rewards and punishments beyond the grave appears from 
the whole thought of the Book. On the terms wickedness, right 
eousness see notes on 4 17 S 18 i 3 . As early as the second century 
B.C. (and perhaps earlier) the term righteousness came to be used 
as equivalent to almsgiving, alms, as in Dan. 4 L>7( 4) , where the king 
is urged to rid himself of the guilt of sin by righteousness defined 
as showing kindness to the poor ; and parallels to our proverb 
are found in Tob. 4 1 " i2 ;t KS. 3 29*-, with substitution of alms 
giving for righteousness ; in Tob. 1 2 ; the two terms are employed 
as synonyms. This usage occurs also in NT. (Mt. 6 ), Talmud 
(Sitcca, 49 />), Midrash (on I r. 21 ), Koran (Q 1 " 4 ).* It is to be 
explained by the prominence which almsgiving always assumes in 
society (the care of the poor being the most obvious of social 
duties) it naturally comes to be regarded as the special indica 
tion of a good heart, and as a means of wiping out guilt (cf. the 
analogous use in OT. of afflict one s self [or fast). This idea, how 
ever, does not seem to be contained in our proverb ; the contrast 
appears to be between probity and wickedness in general, though 
it is possible that the intention is to put treasure acquired wick 
edly and used selfishly over against wealth expended for the 

3. Desire fulfilled and unfulfilled. 

Yalnveh suffers not the righteous to hunger, 
l!ut he disappoints the desire ol the wicked. 

Antithetic, quaternary-ternary. Itightcoiis and wicked are used 
in the most general sense. The Heb. has the soul of Hie riglitcous, 
where soul the personality, with special reference to desire or 
appetite, as in Dt. 14" ^ 107 I r. 13 . Disappoint is lit. thrust 
awa\, reject, put out of consideration. The word here used tor 
desire means evil desire (cf. note on 1 1 1 ) ; for good desire another 

* It seems not to have existed among the Greeks and the Romans. 


term is employed (lo- 1 n- 3 a!.). The point of view (found 
throughout OT., except in the speeches of Job and in Eccl.) is 
that the temporal wants of the righteous are provided for by God. 
This idea is expanded at greatest length in ^ 37 (see especially 
v. 19 25 ), a poem which seems to belong to the same period as the 
central part of Proverbs. Elsewhere in OT. the application is to 
the nation, or rather to the righteous part of it (Isa. 7. 8 Ez. 36 
Isa. 53, the Psalter passim}. Founded on the conviction of the 
divine justice, it survived all changes of fortune, and in Proverbs 
is applied without reservation to the individual man. In Wisd. 
Sol. and NT. this view is abandoned, and the reward of the right 
eous is sought in the future life. 

4, 5. Industry and sloth. 

4. A slack hand makes poor, 
A diligent hand makes rich. 

5. He who gathers in summer acts wisely, 
He who sleeps in harvest acts shamefully. 

4. Antithetic, ternary. Cf. i2- 4 ig 15 22 6 - 11 2^ 28 W . Prob 
ably based on an old popular proverb ; parallels are found among 
all peoples. The second line is lit. : the hand of the diligent 
makes rich. As hand in OT. often person, we may also render : 
The slothful becomes poor, the diligent becomes rich. By the 
change of a vowel poverty may be read instead of poor, with the 
sense : The slothful gains poverty, the diligent gains wealth, but 
the change is unnecessary. The Vrss. give different readings : 
poverty brings a man low (Grk. Targ. Syr.) ; or, a slack hand 
brings poverty (Lat.). In the first of these the verb is, from the 
parallelism, obviously wrong ; the second is identical with a read 
ing given above. The Lat. and the Hexaplar Syriac here add 
the first couplet of the addition found in Grk. after 9 -, which see ; 
it seems here to be the random insertion of a scribe. 5. Anti 
thetic, ternary. Providence and improvidence. Lit. is a son 
who acts wisely, and is a son who acts shamefully. The last ex 
pression may be rendered, as in RV., who causes shame (cf. 28 7 ), 
but the parallelism favors the translation here given. We may 
also reverse the order of subject and predicate, and render : He 

X. 3-5 201 

(or, <r sen) who acts wisely gathers in summer, he (or, a sou} 
who acts shamefully sleeps in harrest. The meaning is the same 
in the two translations ; but the first (characterizing the art as 
wise or unwise) is more natural than the second (characterizing 
the man as acting so or so). The statement is meant to be uni 
versal ; the word son contemplates the man as a member of a 
family, but it is also assumed that he is an independent worker. 
The agricultural life, to which the proverb relates, existed among 
the Jews in Palestine from their first occupation of the land down 
to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. On summer and 
harvest see note on 6 s . (irk. has : 

A son who is instructed will be wise. 

And shall use the fool as servant. 

A thoughtful son is saved from heat, 

But a lawless son is blighted (or, carried away) by the wind in harvest. 

The first couplet appears in some MSS. at 9 - ; the second has a 
general resemblance to the Heb. of our verse, with great verbal 

X. 1. The title is lacking in (5$, and was perhaps not inserted in 11) till 
after (? was made. To 2N SJTC attach suff., which may have fallen out 
through foil, i; but the simple form accords with the curt ness of aphoristic 
expression, and may be retained notwithstanding the I-N. 2. 11) y^ (and 
so 1L) ; (5 cbo/xoi s (and so S3T), less appropriate, since yr-> "i ;; forms a con 
trast to npis. For np-Vi in the sense of jus/ire, ai,i, sue for to Israel (by 
Yahwch) see }u. 5" Mic. & , and cf. the similar sense in Sabean, in Hal. 
1 88, 8 (p-^)- < r- adds may =V2, as in II 4 . 3. 11) pyi: (g AI!l " SiKaiav; 
between the two readings there is little to choose. The primary sense of the 
stem mi seems to be go, more, whence Mw (of the wind), and Aram. l>c ( peril, 
from In-cathc, perh. horn fall out, hafpen}, and specifically ^ (/c:, //, ////( Arab. ); 
the noun = air (Arab.), eit-sin; connected with breathing (Arab., Heb.), //tis- 
fcrtnni\Ji-structioii, = that which ///A on one (Heb.). In Job 37 nin appears 
to mean /,"///, but Siegf. emends to ~^ i <tt,-r (see Konig. ]i. 5<)8\ ( f. Meischer, 
in I)e.-, p. 94, I .udde on Job 6- 37 fi , 15D1 .. I K-is.-lier ( in I )e.. Job 37 ) holds 
that the primitive sense of the stem is ,:,.//v, y.i^ ii. $IT fii /c.f: w/cw . 1L insi- 
n idf. (P i wrii; - ~T, does not give so good an antithesis as 11). 1H r-j. 
for which a number of MSS. and printed edd. (see I >e KO^D have :- .:: 
treaf/icrvtts, apparently a gloss which expelled the text-wonl. 1 he variation 
of number (sing, i , phi. "i) is for rhythmical effect. 4. (P (loll, by $JT 
trtvla. ( ac^) avopa rairtivot, perh. taking 11) as = poi-cr/y inakci f u k,;u.t *!a<k 
(cf. Schleusn.), or reading some form of -j; or T. Between U .o and ;;-- 


there is not much choice; the parallelism (Tiy.-i) rather favors the former. 
The Hif. n may be simple causative (inakes rich} or causative-reflexive (be 
comes ricJi). On the couplet added in 1LS n see Baumg. s note. 5. The text 
of <& seems to be based on that of fj. Its first cl. vibs TreTrcuSei^j/os ero06s 
eo-Tcu = Sara iDio p, the D 3 being perh. paraphrase of pps "u**; of this the 
third cl. dieffihOr) dirb KO.V/J.O.TOS v. vo^/j.tav is a doublet, K. = yp (what Heb. 
word 5. represents is doubtful) ; the second cl. T<J5 5 &<f>povi. dia.Kt>v<4> xpijo-ercu 
is scribal appendage as antithesis to the first; the fourth cl. di>e[j.6(J)9opos (read 
dce/zcx^pTjToj) 5 yiverai tv d/xijry iu6s irapd.voij.os S"3D p "^p3 1"U (cf. Isa. 
19"). The whole is a paraphrase which may have taken the place of an 
original Grk. text. 

6, 7. The recompense of virtue and vice. 

6. Blessings are on the head of the righteous 


7. The memory of the righteous will be blessed, 
But the name of the wicked will rot. 

6. Blessings may be the good wishes or encomiums of men (as 
in v. 7 ), or the good things bestowed by God (so Grk.); the latter 
interpretation is perhaps favored by the use of the expression on 
the head (of Joseph) in Gen. 4Q 26 Dt. 33 16 ; cf. De. s notes here and 
on Gen. 49 26 . The second cl. reads in the Heb. : but the mouth 
of the wicked covers violence, or violence covers the mouth of the 
wicked (identical with second clause of v. 11 ). Neither of these 
renderings gives any natural connection with the first clause. Vio 
lence is high-handed, oppressive conduct it is said (\j/ 73 and 
perhaps Mai. 2 16 ) to cover the wicked man as a garment, he is 
enwrapped in it (i3 2 delights in it) ; so perhaps here, it covers his 
mouth, that is, controls his speech, and therefore, his life. But 
this affords no contrast to the first cl., from which we should rather 
expect some such line as evil pursues the wicked. Grk. (repre 
senting a slightly different Heb. text from ours) : untimely grief 
shall cover, etc., which gives a contrast. Bickell emends : but the 
fruit of the wicked is sorrow and wrath (cf. i3 2 ). Graetz sug 
gests face instead of mouth. We should perhaps read : 

The blessing of Yahweh is on the head of the righteous, 
But sorrow shall cover the face of the wicked. 

* Heb. : But violence covers the mouth of the wicked. 

X. 6-8 2O3 

The text appears to have been assimilated to that of v. " , on which 
see note ; or, possibly the original line has been lost, and v. 1 " sub 
stituted for it. 7. Antithetic, ternary. The antithesis is exact 
and complete. The common human desire to leave a good name 
behind shall be fulfilled, says the writer, for the good, but not for 
the bad : men will bless the one, or will regard him as an example of 
blessedness or prosperity ; the other they will forget.* The rule, 
in fact, holds in general, though it is not without numerous excep 
tions. The opposite point of view is expressed \\\Jnl. Cues., 3, 2 : 

The evil that men do lives after them; 
The good is oft interred with their bones. 

Instead of will rot a slight change of text gives the reading : will 
/>(. cursed (Frank.), which offers an exact contrast to blessed, and 
should perhaps be adopted ; this verb occurs in 1 1" 1 24-*. 

8. Obedience to law characteristic of the wise. 

A wise man heeds commands, 
But a foolish talker will fall. 

Antithetic, ternary. Lit. one who is wise of mind (Heb. heart), 
and one who is foolish of lips ; the prating fool of RY. is inexact 
it is not a fool who talks, but a man who talks folly. The 
meaning of the first cl. is plain the wise man (he who is sound 
in thought, practically judicious) abides by the prescriptions of 
competent authority. This characterization of the wise man is 
especially natural to the Jew of this period (4th or 31! century i:.c.), 
for whom all right was embodied in his Tora. but is also of universal 
propriety, since all right conduct is conformity to law of some 
sort ; here the law is external, divine or human. The second cl., 
also, is plain in itself (foolish talking brings misfortune), but stands 
in no obvious relation to the first cl., and seems not to be here in 
place. We may, indeed, suppose an elaborate implicit antithesis : 
language may be understood as the expression of thought and mind 
(so that foolish talker ---JoolisJi man}, and falling as the result of 
not licediii^ commands, and the proverb, fully expressed, would 
then read : the wise man abides by law. talks sensibly, and pros- 


pers ; the fool rejects law, talks foolishly, and fails. But this 
roundabout mode of expression is contrary to the method of the 
Book, in which the antithesis of the clauses is obviously meant to 
be clearly set forth. The second cl. (which occurs again in v. 10 ) 
was probably here inserted by error of scribe ; it belongs properly 
in an aphorism in which the other clause declares the stability of 
the righteous. The reference is to earthly failure. 

9. Safety in integrity. 

lie who walks uprightly walks surely, 

Hut he whose ways are crooked shall < suffer. 

Antithetic, ternary. In second cl. the Heb. has shall be known, 
that is, apparently, known as ( = discovered to be) a wrong-doer, 
and punished. That a bad man s wickedness will be found out is 
probable ; but the parallelism calls for the mention of punishment, 
and a natural expression is given in n 15 , where stiff er loss or evil 
(RV. smart for if) stands in contrast with sure ; this rendering 
requires only a slight change in one Heb. letter. We may also 
translate : but it goes ill with him whose ways, etc. The transla 
tions will be taught (that is, by his experience) (Ew.), and will be 
seen through (De.) are improbable. Uprightly is lit. in upright 
ness, perfectness, or innocence ; on crooked see note on 2 15 . Surely 
not confidently, but safely. The proverb seems not to contem 
plate divine intervention, but to refer to a common law of society : 
the man of upright life has nothing to fear from his neighbors 
or from the law a dishonest man will be punished nearly 
equivalent to honesty is the best policy. 

10. Mischief-makers and friendly critics. 

lie who winks the eye makes trouble, 
< Hut he who reproves makes peace. 

Antithetic, probably ternary. On winking the eye (or, with the 
eye) as an expression for stirring up strife by malicious hints see 
note on 6 12 " u . The second cl. reads in the Heb. : and a foolish 
talker shall fall, apparently repeated from v. s (where, however, it 
is not in place), here offering no antithesis we expect the men 
tion of something which causes the opposite of trouble. Grk. has 


He who winks deceitfully with his eyes causes sorrow to ien, but 
he wlio reproves openly makes peace. This furnishes the desired 
contrast, but in expanded form ; the deceitfully and to men are 
explanatory additions, and perhaps also the openly (IHckell), 
though we might read (see 27 ) open reproof makes peace, or he 
who reproves evil, etc. (cf. 24- ). In any case the suggestion is 
that frank reproof of wrongdoing will pave the way to repentance 
and amity. For the word trouble see 15" Job <f\ and cf. the simi 
lar term in icr- I5 1 ^ 127- (sometimes = labor, 5" 14- ). 

11. Righteous and wicked speech. 

The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, 
]!ut violence envelops the mouth of the wicked. 

Antithetic, ternary. The second cl. (identical with second cl. 
of v. n , on which see note) is not to be rendered the mouth of 
the wicked conceals violence ; * violence is represented as a gar 
ment which clothes the bad man s mouth, that is, it characterizes 
and is produced by his utterance the idea of concealment is 
not in place, it is rather expression that is meant ; in Prov. mouth 
is generally equivalent to utterance, and the idea that the wicked 
man uses language to conceal his thought (that is, is hypocritical), 
though here possible, does not accord with the first line. The 
contrast is between the speech of the righteous and that of the 
wicked the former is a source of wisdom, peace, good earthly 
life, the latter brings hurt, misfortune ; it is the effect on others 
that is referred to. The expression fountain of life = /ifc-giving 
water, or, generally, source of life, is used of God in Jer. 2 1:1 17" 
t/r 36 :I UI) (De.), in accordance with the national theistic point of 
view of the prophets and psalmists ; in Prov. it is used of wise, 
upright speech (so here), of the law of the wise (13"), of the 
fear of God (i4 7 )> of wisdom or understanding (i6 :: -), the refer 
ence in all cases being to prosperous and happy earthly life as the 
result of obedience to the highest wisdom, which is ultimately obe 
dience to the law of God ; see 3- 4" 8 : "~ , etc. The sage thus con 
ceives of human life as a system ordered by law, this law residing 
in the mind of man, but being also the will of God, who thus 

* De., Str., KLUHII. <:/. 


manifests himself in human thought. The fountain of life is a 
natural figure, especially in Palestine, where springs played so 
important a part in agriculture and life generally ; there seems to 
be no reason to suppose a reference to a primitive " spring of life " 
corresponding to the "tree of life" of Gen. 2 (see note on 3 18 ). 
The expression living water (Jer. 2 13 al.), = running water 
(contrasted with standing water), is used in a different sense. 

12. Hatred and love. 

Hatred stirs up strifes, 

But love hides all transgressions. 

Antithetic, ternary. Cf. 17. Hatred dwells on and exagger 
ates evil or unwise words and acts, and so causes misunderstand 
ings and quarrels. Love hides trangressions, not by condoning 
wrong, but by making allowance and forgiving ; it leads a man to 
cover up not his own faults (this is condemned in 28 13 ) but those 
of others (so i Cor. i3 7 ). This clause is quoted in i Pet. 4 s in 
the form love hides a multitude of sins (that is, sins of others), 
free citation, possibly from memory, but more probably (since it 
occurs in Jas.) from some current Aramaic or Greek version 
(which perhaps represented a Heb. text slightly different from 
ours). A different application is given to the latter part of the 
expression in Jas. 5, in which it is said that he who turns a sinner 
from his evil ways covers a multitude of sins, conceals them, that 
is, from the eyes of God, who no longer takes note of them 
a use of cover derived from OT., in which a verb * having this 
meaning is employed in the sense atone for (Ex. 29, etc.), for 
give (<// yS 158 ), appease (Pr. i6 14 ). The idea in these passages is 
the same as in this verse sin is hidden, ignored. 

6. ft? ria-a; 45 (foil, by IL) ev\oyia Kvplov, in which the K. is perh. original 
(Lag.), perh. interpretation. It is doubtful whether there is any difference 
of sense between C siS and tyjoa ; the former does occur in connection with 
blessing (Gen. 49 20 Dt. 33 16 ), and the latter, after verbs of inflicting, in con 
nection with punishment (i K. 2^ Obad. 13 Joel 4 4 7 ) ; but elsewhere the two 
are used in the same sense (cf. Ez. i6 12 with Pr. 4). For |$ ^ Graetz, with 
probability, suggests ->:B. f$ D^n; (5 irtvdo<i Hupov (Lag. ddp6oi>, but cf. \VS. 

* Kapar, kipper, whence koper, ransom, kapporet, covering (of the ark), RV, 

X. n-13 20/ 

I4 r< ), whence we may read D;r. 7. 11) i:^ 1 ; (T> afitvwTiu, -y;--, as in 13 
20- 24- ; -$sC have i;r; Krochmnl Incited by ( Ir.) apv shall be cursed (cf. n 2 ), 
a good reading if the ~:^2 he understood of men (Frank, apr)- 8. 11) -ix; 
(5 15 " aorcYos Ihibblin* ((5 ;i) S 11 ficrraros unsteady); the (7^o\id^u;i <>l (3 is 
gloss on this expression, or (Jag.) on the oiaarptfyuv (11) -7;":) of v 1 . 1 ( .) J2--; 

i/;ro<r/>-cWd??<rt7-cu stumble, fall (as Arab. -IP ): Frank. --;--. \\hicli, how 
ever, does not occur elsewliere \vitliout a defining term. 9. 11) "^ (loll, by 
all \ rss.) gives no satisfactory sense: read ;^;_ (so ( iraet/) or - 1 i"> ; el. 1 1 1 " 

1 ;- i// io6 :i - . ( )n SC see 1 ink. 10. II) 1 (= S 1 ) is here out of place. (5 6 
5e e\e 7x wl/ M 67 "^ irappriffias dp-rjvoiroi.e i, perh. c s u ^ s % rs" 3 nrc; lii. ~- ; M rir - : 
c^;-; /uer. Trap, is rendered by Lag- r^c^p (so in Lev. 26 1 "), by dr. Z^JD S N. 

11. For Jl) 1 >D (S has ev X f P pe-rh. scribal error for x et ^ e (( rube, Lag.), 

12. On 11) cn 1 : see note on 6 1 * s ; after HDJ occurs ^ 44- Io6 17 Job 2i- \ 
the primary sense of the vb. being perh. lay, heap. (5 TOL-S fj.rj <j>i\oveiKovi>Tas, 
= =;u ; 3 x 1 ", the nog. being inserted to obtain a contrast with a . S xr.-na 
shame (for 11) i2"ix) is scribal error, or emendation to avoid saying that love 
covers sinners (Pink.). 

13, 14. The character and use of speech. 

I }. In the speech of the discerning wisdom is found, 

l!ut for the fool s back there is a rod. 
14. Wise men conceal what they know, 

liut the talk of a fool is impending destruction. 

13. Ternary. The two clauses, taken separately, give each a 
good sense, but there is no close connection between them. The 
first has congeners in icr 1 -" 1 14 " i5 7 , where there is well marked 
antithesis. The second is found almost word for word in 26" , in 
which the meaning is clear the fool, like a beast, must be driven 
or guided by force (cf. i// 32"). Such must be its sense here, 
and we should then expect in the first cl. the statement that the 
wise man is otherwise directed ; possibly this is what is meant by 
saying that wisdom is in his speech (lit. lips) he is guided by 
reason. But this sense is not obvious, and in v. ;;1 the expression 
has another meaning, namely, that the lips of the good man utter 
wisdom, in contrast with which we should here expect to read 
that the fool utters folly (cf. v. 11 ). This sense may be got by a 
couple of changes in the Heb. text : but folly is in the mouth of 
the fool (lit. of him u>lio /.v deroiJ of inii/ers/ain/i/i^, lacking in 
sense). It is doubtful, however, whether we should not rather 
retain the text, and regard the second cl. as here out of place. 


As the verse stands, the meaning must be taken to be : An intelli 
gent man s speech is wise, his thought is good, and he knows how 
to direct his life a fool has no guiding principle in himself, and 
must be driven like a beast, or coerced like a child. From Grk. 
we get no help : he who brings out wisdom from his lips smites 
the fool with a rod. 14. Antithetic, ternary. The antithesis is 
obvious : wise men, knowing the power of words, are cautious in 
speech, and by sometimes keeping back what they know, avert 
misfortune, while fools, talking thoughtlessly, are constantly in 
danger of bringing destruction on people s heads, as by talebear 
ing, revealing secrets, and the like. Reticence is often praised 
in Prov. ; see v. 19 n 1;i 12 al. If the rendering wise men lay up 
knowledge (De., RV.) be adopted, the antithesis will be destroyed, 
and the two clauses cannot be regarded as belonging together. 
Cf. BS. 9 18 20 6 - 7 . 

15, 16. Wealth its social value, and its proper use. 

15. The rich man s wealth is his strong city, 

And the poverty of the poor is their destruction. 

1 6. The wage of the righteous leads to life, 
The revenue of the wicked to < destruction. 

15. Antithetic, ternary. Strong city = protection against all 
dangers and ills. The second cl. is lit. : and the destruction of the 
poor is their poverty. Cf. v. 29 BS. 4O 25 . The Grk. omits the pos 
sessive pronouns. There is probably no ethical thought in the 
proverb the sense is that wealth smooths one s path in life, 
bringing supply of bodily needs, guarding against the attacks of 
the powerful, and giving social consideration (I4 20 iS 23 19* 22 3I 23 ), 
while the poor man is exposed to bodily and social privations 
(i9 4 Eccl. 9 1C ). It seems to be simply a recognition of the value 
of money, such as is found in all civilized lands. Possibly, how 
ever, the sage has also in mind the moral dangers of poverty, as 
in 30 y . A somewhat different sense is given to the first cl. in 
18", on which see note. The opposite side of the picture the 
danger of wealth is brought out in n 4 13" 23* 28 6 - u BS. 30" 3I 1 8 , 
and it is declared in 19- 28 that poverty is preferable to vice. - 
16. Antithetic, ternary. Lit. : the wage, etc. is ( = leads} to life, 
the revenue, etc. is to, etc. Wage (wages of labor) and revenue 


(what accrues to one) are synonyms it is not meant to contrast 
the wealth of the righteous as gained by honest toil with that of 
the wicked as acquired without work (I)e., Sir.) ; the former term 
is used also of the wicked (n s ) and the latter of wisdom (3"). 
The contrast is between the tendencies and results of riches in 
different men. For the good man, who acquires and uses it prop 
erly, it leads to long life and earthly happiness (for this sense see 
notes on 3- - - ) he does nothing to endanger his position. For 
the bad man it leads we expect the antithesis to death (for which 
see ii 1 ) instead of this the Heb. has to sin. If the text be 
correct, we must suppose that the sin involves punishment, ulti 
mately death the bad man comes into conflict with the laws of 
society, or incurs the anger and vengeance of God. But the word 
sin is here difficult. The point of the verse is not that wealth is 
an occasion of sin to the wicked man, but that, as the properly 
acquired and used wealth of the righteous secures life for him, so 
the improperly acquired and used wealth of the wicked secures 
death or calamity for him. The word sin, though supported by 
all the Vrss., appears to be a miswriting.* An easy change of text 
gives the appropriate term destruction (as in v. 11 " ). The mean 
ing of the proverb is plain even wealth, ordinarily regarded as 
a blessing, becomes a curse in the hands of a bad man. The 
point of view is that of chs. 1-9 : rightdoing is attended by 
earthly prosperity, wrongdoing by adversity. 

17. Docility and indocility. 

Antithetic, ternary. The first cl., lit. the way to life is he 7c/i<>, 
etc., might be rendered : lie is a u<a\farer to life iclio, etc., or it is 
flic ic ay to life ic/icn one, etc. ; the sense remains the same : he 
who follows right instruction will be led to a long and happy 
earthly life (see preceding verse), since he will be taught to avoid 
folly and so will escape danger. The second cl. states the reverse 


side : rejection of instruction causes one to miss the way of life 
and happiness, and to wander into the paths of misfortune and 
death. The second verb is in form causative in the Heb., and 
we may translate : he who heeds instruction is a way to life (for 
others), but he who neglects admonition leads (others) astray (cf. 
Wildeboer) ; but this seems less natural than the sense given 
above (cf. the similar thought in 15 ). The proverb inculcates 
a teachable disposition one mark of a fool is unwillingness to 
take advice. The instruction must be understood to be of the 
most general sort, including training in the higher divine ethical 
law, as well as guidance in smaller matters of everyday life. 

18. Talebearing. The form is doubtful. The Hebrew most 
naturally reads : 

He who hides hatred is a liar (lit. lying lips), 
And he who utters (or, spreads) slander is a fool. 

The verse is thus a synthetic parallelism, and AV. makes it 
(against the norm of the context) a single sentence : he that 
hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttcreth a slander, is a 
fool. Luther : false mouths cover hatred. In the connection the 
expression he who hides hatred must mean the man who conceals 
hostile feeling under friendly words (26 - 6 ), and is thus false in 
speech. There might thence seem to result the antithesis of 
secrecy and publicity : a secret hater is a liar, an open slanderer 
is a fool. But this antithesis does not really exist in the verse - 
the suggestion rather is that concealed hatred expresses itself in 
slander (the two are related as cause and effect), which is itself 
an underhand, secret procedure. But, from the usage of Prov. 
(io u ii 13 i2 10 - 23 if 28 13 ) the verb hide (lit. cover}, when unde 
fined, would naturally mean to cover up, put out of the way, in 
a good sense, so that we might expect the clause to read : he who 
covers tip hatred is righteous, and so Grk. righteous lips conceal 
hatred. The text may be rendered: Lying lips conceal hatred, 
= the liar conceals, etc. ; but this general proposition is not true, 
and does not offer a distinct contrast to the second line. In 26- 
the covering of hatred is defined as effected by deceit, and is thus 
stamped as evil ; without such a defining term it is doubtful 
whether the expression can be taken in a bad sense. We must 

X. i 7-19 21 f 

adopt the construction of AY., or the reading of (Irk., or else \ve 
must suppose that the original text has been lost, and that it 
referred to suppression of evil reports (as in v. 1;i 17 - ), or gave 
some other antithesis to the second clause. 

13. Sec note on this v. above. A possible reading for is ^Dn Tsu-a r^\Ni 
2^. In * Hi. omits Ni--- for the sake of the rhythm. 6 I! omits " by error. 

In h pdtiSu Tvirrei (LvSpa. aKapdiov = 2^ ion i3jS 22?. $? = <Q- JTII^ ty 

14. 6 e~,Vj- ffwrpiffi, = 3^ nrin^. 15. fl> :;-, aaeftdv, nrob. for dade- 
v&v (<5- :! Grabe, Lag.). 16. For |i] rx-jn we should read nnrra or .-v:. 
17. The expression =;r^ m.x, only here; ef. -^ iG 11 ] r. 2 la 5 b \^; the prep, 
does not appear in the Vrss. We may read n^u^ n -x (ef. I5 - 4 ), or I artep. 
n-is 1 , or -M-n n-, x ., ^ -.- r? can ))c ta ^ en on ] y in t j le causat j ve scnse> as 
everywhere else in OT. (the only other occurrence of the ilif. in Pr. is 
1 2-" ; , on which see note). Read <)a\ n;p (the c being omitted as erroneous 
rej)etition of preceding r), or, with Hit/., point n ;.--: as Ilith. On the mis 
translation of (5 see notes of Vog., Lag., ISaumg. 18. For <5 StVata 
(for Jt) -or) (irabe suggests dt5i/ca, Lag. (with (5" ; ) ooAia, which may be 
conformation to |fj, or 5. may be free rendering to gain a good sense. The 
text of |i) a appears to be corrupt, and no aid is got from the Vrss. See note 
on this v. above. 

19-21. The proper use of speech. 

in.. In a multitude of words transgression will not be lacking, 
And he who controls his tongue acts wisely. 

20. The tongue of the righteous is choice silver, 
The mind of the ivicked is little worth. 

21. The lips of the righteous feed many, 

liut the foolish die through lack of understanding. 

19. Antithetic, ternary. Tongue is lit. ///.r. The second line 
may also be rendered : the wise man controls, etc. The caution 
is against much talking in general, says the sage, it is impossible 
to talk much and be wise. The reference is to everyday life; 
transgression is overstepping the bounds of sobriety and good 
sense. The preceding proverb is directed against gossip as inju 
rious to others; this is intended to guard the man s own charac 
ter. It may be popular in origin, but its present form was given 
it by cultivated thinkers. Cf. US. 20". Malan cites n number of 
close parallels to this proverb, as talkativeness is intemperance in 
speech (Theophrast. Char. S), and silence is a /te,^e al>out wisJoin 
(Pirkc Aboth, 3, 13), and cf. Pirk, Al>., i, 17. which is probably 


based on this verse. -20. Antithetic, quaternary- (or, ternary-) 
ternary The antithesis rests on the identification of thought or 
,/;i/(lit. heart) and tf<wA (tongue) , it is assumed (and in 
general it is true) that they correspond to each other. A g 
man s speech, issuing from his good mind, makes for everything 
good in life, and may be likened to choice silver, silver refined of 
highest value, and everywhere current. The mind of the wicked 
(their inward being, attitude toward life, thought and opinion), 
which naturally expresses itself in words, is of small account - 
a contemptuous expression, doubtless = of no account of no 
value for speaker or hearer. The point of view is moral (as in 
chs i-o) righteous and wicked are identified with wise and un 
wise -21. Antithetic, quaternary- (or, ternary-) ternary. Speech 
and thought are identified, as in the preceding verse, and righteous 
(= wise} is set over against foolish (no doubt here = wicked) -, 
understanding is lit. mind (heart}, as above. The antithesis 
between the nutritive power of wise thought and speech, and 
incapacity of moral folly to gain life -earthly life, taken in the 
widest sense, with physical and moral content. The good man 
ministers to all the wants not only of himself, but also of others 
(manv here = all with whom he comes in contact), the bad man 
cannot keep even himself alive ; the death referred to 
premature physical death which is the penalty of failure to g asp 
and follow wisdom; see note on v.=. The thought is substan 
tially that of 3 14 - 17 , with substitution of the righteous man for wis 
dom -A sharper antithesis would be gained by the reading many 
die through one who lacks understanding, but the change of fools 
to many is difficult ; the rendering/** die through one, etc., gives 
lonrooriate thought. - In the first line the translation the hps, 
^Tmany ^friends) is hardly allowed by the Hebrew. 
Cf. BS. 6 45 9 18 . 

22. Happiness of work blessed by God. 

The blessing of Yahwch, it makes rich, 
And he adds no sorrow with it. 

Continuous or extensive (the second cl. completing the first oy 
an additional detail), ternary. The first cl. affirms that physical 
wealth is the gift of God, as in chs. 1-9 this gift is ascribed i 

Wisdom. The repetition of the subject by the insertion of // 
indicates that it is the divine blessing and not anything else that 
gives riches, that is. the divine blessing on the labor of men\ 
hands, fn the second cl. the term \<>rrt>i\ (sometimes = painful 
effort, toil) is used, as in 15 {sorrow oj heart or mind}, (Jen. 3 , 
for pain, suffering ; the wealth bestowed by Yalnveh is distin 
guished, as being free from sorrow, from ill-gotten gain, which 
brings evil with it (13" 15 i6 1:l 21" 28 ). There is an implied an 
tithesis between the wealth of good men and that of bad men. 
Elsewhere in OT., when a preposition follows the verb add, it is to 
(see Jer. 45 ), which would here be out of place. This under 
standing of the term rendered sorrou* is that of the Anc. Vrss. 
Some expositors,* taking it in the sense of labor, render : ami toil 
adds not to it (namely, to the blessing), that is, human labor 
counts for nothing in the acquisition of wealth it is all God s 
doing. But such a sharp separation between man s work and 
(lod s work is hardly an OT. conception (passages like Kx. 14" 
<// 1 1 8 s do not bear on this question) man is everywhere repre 
sented as working under (rod s direction; so i/> 127- (which is 
cited by K\v., l)e., Str., as supporting their translation) affirms not 
that labor in itself is useless, but only labor unattended by the 
divine blessing. In i4 J: it is said that there is profit in all labor. 

23. How wrongdoing appears to fools and to sages. 

It is as sport to a fool to do wroni, , 

But it is < abomination > to a man of sense. 

Antithetic, quaternary-ternary. The essential idea in the term 
sport is not ease of performance (Dc. al. : child s play), but recre 
ation, enjoyment so (Jen. 17 " Kx. 32 Ju. \(r Zech. 8 Job 40-" 
1 r. 8 ; "" n 26 IU ji 25 (the sense derision which the word sometimes 
has, as in 2 C. 30" Job 30 i// 2 I r. f j ; , does not come into con 
sideration here)- It is the fool s moral superficiality that enables 
him to enjoy sin he has no deep sense of its sinfulness ; it is 
involved that such conduct is easy for him the assumption is 
that wrongdoing may become part of a man s nature, his normal 
and joyous activity. The term here rendered wron^ ( RV. <v/< /<,/- 


ness} is a strong one, sometimes expressing general enormity of 
conduct (2 1 27 24" Job 31" ^ 26 10 ), frequently in the Prophetical 
and legal books = lewdness (Jer. \f Ez. i6 - 7 23- T.ev. i8 17 ), 
here badness in the most general sense. The Heb. of the second 
line is lit. : and wisdom to a man of sense (or, understanding), 
which may conceivably mean that a man of sense is wise (an 
identical proposition), or that wisdom is as sport (natural enjoy 
ment) to a man of sense (but wisdom is not parallel to wrong 
doing we should expect the name of the act, rightdoing). The 
natural subject of the second line is wrongdoing, and the predicate 
should be antithetic to sport; from the similar thought in i6 12 we 
may here read abomination. Other proposed readings are : a dis 
grace (which does not furnish a distinct contrast to sport) , and as 
(object of) anger (which gives the desired contrast, but the inser 
tion of object of is unwarranted, and the as inappropriate). The 
terms fool and man of sense have an intellectual and moral content. 

24, 25. Fate of righteous and wicked. 

24. What the wicked fears will befall him, 

But the desire of the righteous will be granted. 

25. When the tempest passes, the wicked is no more, 
But the righteous is established for ever. 

24. Antithetic, ternary. Lit. the fear of the wicked. The con 
trast is between fear and desire. Instead of saying that the desire 
of the wicked will not be granted, the author gives a more strik 
ing antithesis by declaring that the calamity apprehended by the 
wicked will overtake him. It is the ancient opinion of retribution 
in this world : every man desires happiness, and fears and appre 
hends misfortune the good man shall have his desire (so ch. 3 
and passim), the fear of the bad man shall be fulfilled. This 
opinion is combated in Job f : Job, a good man, had feared evil, 
and it had come upon him. Our sage maintains the old view 
(which long continued to be the prevailing one), doubtless con 
sidering it to be necessary for the restraint of evil and the encour 
agement of good. The happiness had in view is general prosperity, 
without special reference to the satisfaction of a good conscience 
or the enjoyment of communion with God, and with no reference 
to the retribution of the future life. In the second line the Heb. 

X. 23-25 215 

has : the desire, etc., lie will grant. The he is regarded by some 
critics as indefinite (the resulting sense being will l>e granted}, by 
others as referring to Yahweh. Neither of these interpretations is 
favored by the usage of < ) i ., an I the verb must be written as 
Passive. 25. Antithetic, ternary. Lit. at the passing over of flic 
tempest (that is, of misfortune) tlie wieked is not. The Syr. has : 
as the tempest suddenly passes, so f/ie wicked perishes and is not 
found. In i 1 7 the fear ( = source of fear) of the wicked is 
likened to a whirlwind or tempest, but (even if the Hob. allow it) 
the comparison is not appropriate for the idea of impermanence, 
and the Syr. is obliged to insert the word suddenly to get the 
picture of swift destruction. The same construction (without the 
suddenly} is given by Targ. Lat. and AV. The second cl. reads : 
the righteous is an everlasting foundation, not that he is a support 
for others, but (as the contrast requires) that he himself is firmly 
established. The verse sets forth the permanence and imperma 
nence of the two classes of men : the wicked is swept away by 
the tempest of divine punishment (i -~), the righteous is secured 
against overthrow by divine protection (cf. i2 7 14"). The thought 
is adopted in Mt. 7- -". 

19. For 11) S ^,T S has N^--; (= s i :<) and for -:;, N S IN (= r^), which 
gives a less marked antithesis than that (if 11). C. 15. Mich, (quoted by L)e.) 
compares the Tro\v\oyia TroXXd. cr<pd\fj.a.Ta of Stobaeus. 20. (!5 I! ireirvpu)/j.{i>os 

(11) 1-3;), }>erh. for TreTreipancvos (Lag.) 21. 11) V" 1 ; Frank., not well, gain 
as friends. The subst. ^Di occurs in OT. only here and 2S--, the adj. 
ten times in IV.; 3"? is omitted by (5, probably by scribal error. (5 badly 
eVi orarai i-^Xd, = r 21 V" (11) i V^ 1 ). 22. After Hif. of KD the thing 
to which something is added is introduced generally by s ;, sometimes by s or 
-s; here alone the vb. is followed by r: the prep, introduces the thing 
nhngwith which the 3*; is not added. (5 follows 11), but inserts explanatory 
phrases: tirl Kf<f>a.\r]v SiKaiov after fv\o;ia K., an<l in Kapoia alter \ JTrij. 
23. .-r:;-, in 11) is to be taken as the antithesis to n-; rr;. I "or M C.raet/. sug 
gests .1-.^; (tisgnici-. as contrast to --: , taken as = sport, a partial antithesis, 
but hardly convincing. Read ny x . Frank.: ">"H:. (3 ;l iv ~,i\wn arfipuy 
Trpdffj-ei Kaxd, ; n^ 1 ; 1 ^D; r~ "-i n accordance \\ith which miglil be ren 
dered : and (:> //// enji vmcnt} a man of understanding {practices} u isdom 
fomitting "), which has no advantage over 11). In (? takes n:p- as pred.; 
$^ lollow 6 in u (C N 2; for -r;;\ and 11) in . 11^11). 24. ]!) ;n<_, 
hardly with sub), nvi understood -there is no reason why should not have 
been written, if it had been meant (cf. -^ 2I :; ), and there is no trace ol it in 
the Vrss., except in Saad.; nor is there in ( ) I , a clear example of the impers. 


or indef. construction of p% not in 13^ (on which sec note below) or in 
Tob 37 U (on which see Budde s note). It is better, with SO,, to take it as 
Pass., and point as Hof. (cf. Job 28*), or (Vog.) as Nif.-<5 a ^ dTXef 
aaeflv Tre/H^percu (and so 3), where cbr. perh. = 1, as in Jer. 49 , ar 
,rep = to> (cf. Schleusn., Lag.). After - -* adds SoiAetfcri 5e 40p* 0pov(/iV 
(perh. from 1 I 29 ), and after " /ca^a 8t d<re/3o0s e/cXety (perh. corruption of , 
and cf is 1 ). The additions do not belong to the Heb. original. -25. In 
nr-3 the 3 is taken as compar. by 3E1L Saad.; if this were the sense we 
should expect p in \ and so render; 1L has quasi before fundamentum. 
> Mean! Si t KK \lvas <r^r<u els rbv aiQva seems to be free rendering c 
and it is unnecessary (Semler, cited and approved by Lag.) to change i. to 
d/cXii Tjs unswerving. 

26. The sluggard. 

As vinegar to the teeth and as smoke to the eyes, 
So is the sluggard to those who send him. 

A simple comparison, quaternary-ternary, based on some pop 
ular saying. The term rendered vinegar is used for any acid 
drink made from the juice of the grape (Nu. 6 3 , forbidden,, there 
fore, to Nazirites) in some forms it was refreshing (Ru. 2 
others unpleasant (^ 69"^ ) ; see note on 25*. 
render, in second cl, not so well : to him who, taking the 
word as plu. of majesty (like the word for lord ) . Grk., in first cl. 
as unripe (sour) grapes, perhaps scribal error for vinegar, and 
in second cl. so is lawlessness to those who practise it, which 
agrees well with the ethical tone of this chapter, not so well with 
first cl. It is probably a misreading of our Heb. text. Whether 
the proverb originally stood in this place is doubtful ; it resembles 
in form the aphorisms of chs. 25. 26. 

27-29. Contrasted fortunes of righteous and wicked. 

27. The fear of Yahweh prolongs life, 

But the life of the wicked will be shortened. 

28. The hope of the righteous will have a glad issue, 
But the expectation of the wicked will perish. 

29. Yahweh is a stronghold to the man of integrity, 
But destruction to the workers of iniquity. 

27. Antithetic, ternary. So 3 lfi and many other passages - 
Ion- life, a supreme blessing when there is no hope beyond the 
grave, is the reward of piety. The sage probably thinks both of 
natural causes (sobriety, etc.) as producing this result, and of im- 

X. 26-30 217 

mediate divine action. For life the Heb. has d>.iy< in first rl., 
\ears in second cl. ()n/wr of Yahweh sec note on i 7 . -28. An 
tithetic, ternary. Lit. in first cl. ///< hope of the righteous is : g/a</- 
ness. The thought is substantially that of v." 1 the aim of all 
men, good and bad, is happiness the cause is human law and 
divine control the good will, the bad will not, gain what they 
wish. Cf. fob 8 1 " i// 112 ", and so everywhere in ()T., except in 
the speeches of Job and in Kcclesiastes. The aphorism looks to 
the close of life. 29. Antithetic, ternary. According to the 
Masoretic punctuation the first line reads : a stronghold to perfec 
tion is the wa\ of Yahweh ; the parallelism requires that we read 
(with (irk.) perfect (or, righteous, or, pious} instead of perfection. 
Hut, as elsewhere in OT., it is always Yahweh himself, and not his 
" way," that is called a stronghold, the line must be translated : 
Yahweh is a stronghold to him who is perfect in his way, that is, 
to a man of integrity. The conception is the old- Hebrew one, 
that the retributions of God in this life are determined by men s 
moral character. When (as in RY.) the -way of Yahweh" is 
taken as subject of the sentence, the understanding is that the 
divine government of the world produces the results named an 
idea appropriate in itself (see Kz. 18 i// i8- v:1 - :i;) ) ; but "strong 
hold " is a strange predicate of " way " (or " method of govern 
ment "), and OT. usage is against such a construction. In the 
translation here adopted Yahwe/i is the subject of the whole 
couplet, the antithesis being found in the two members of the 
predicate, stronghold, etc., and destruction, etc. We may also 
take the second cl. as a separate sentence, and render : but de 
struction will be to the workers of iniquity ; the antithesis will then 
be simply between the protection given to the righteous and the 
ruin visited on the wicked. The objection to this rendering is that 
it does not recogni/e the syntactical parallelism between strongliold 
to the perfect and destruction to the workers of iniquity which is 
suggested by the Heb. both expressions appear to be predicates 
of Yahweh. The second cl. recurs in ji 1 , on which see note. 

30. Permanence of the righteous. 


Antithetic, ternary. The general idea is the same as that of 
v. M , but there is special reference to the privileges of citizenship. 
The sentiment of love of country was reinforced among the Israel 
ites (and probably to some extent among other ancient Semitic 
peoples) by a definite view of the relation between the deity, the 
citizen, and the land. The favor of the deity was confined to his 
own land and people, and the prosperity of the man was insepa 
rably connected with his share in the soil. In ancient times this 
view was held in a crude, unethical way (i Sam. 26 W ) ; in Israel 
it was gradually purified by intellectual and moral growth, but 
never wholly given up it was always in the land of Canaan that 
the final blessing was to come to the people. The prophets inter 
preted exile as a temporary cessation of privilege, a preparation 
for a higher destiny (Jer. 27- Ez. 39 25 ~ 29 Isa. 53). Thus posses 
sion of the soil, dwelling in the land, came to be the synonym of 
the highest blessing (i/> 37"", cf. Mt. 5 5 ), and is so used here. 
The expression retained its validity in the Greek period in spite 
of the dispersion of the people (cf. Dan. 12 BS. 36" Enoch 85- 
90). The reference in the first cl. (as the parallelism shows) is 
to physical permanence, not to the maintenance of moral integrity. 
See notes on r ;i 2 21- ~. 

31, 32. Speech of righteous and wicked: The expressions are 
not perfectly clear ; the text is perhaps in disorder. The Heb. 


31. The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, 
But the tongue of falsehood shall be cut off. 

32. The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable, 
But the mouth of the wicked is falsehood. 

31. Antithetic, ternary. The causative sense Titter seems to be 
required by the connection ; but elsewhere (i^ 62 10(1I) 92 14(1;i) ) this 
form of the verb means sprout, grow, increase (the causative form, 
make grow, occurs in Zech. 9 17 ). As the text stands, the antithe 
sis is implicit. Instead of saying that the tongue of the wicked 
utters folly or falsehood (as in v." L> ), the verse, looking forward to 
consequences, declares that it shall be cut off ; the proverb in full 
form would be : the righteous speaks wisdom, obeys God, and 
lives the wicked speaks folly, disobeys, and dies. It is a repeti 
tion of the familiar idea of precise compensation in this life ; cf. 

-^- .50-32 219 

A ?>^ (4] 37 " 59 12 1 1 M4 S ( inc reference in the Psalms is generally 
to national enemies) I r. 4- 10" 1: 12 15-" F.crl. 10 - 1; , etc. 
32. Antithetic, quaternary-ternary (or, ternarv-binan I . A Dimple 
statement of the difference between the utterances of the two 
classes of men. Acceptable is that which gives content, pleasure, 
to man (Ksth. i s ) or to (loci (I r. 8 :; 11 12 -, etc., Isa. 49 s , and, in 
the sacrificial ritual, Lev. 22-, etc.). In the latter case the divine 
name is always expressed elsewhere in Prov., and the reference 
here must be to man. Good men, the proverb says, employ the 
sincere and kindly language that gives men pleasure. On the 
other hand, the false language of bad men, the parallelism sug 
gests, stirs up strifes. The verb know, as predicate of lips, is 
somewhat strange. It might be taken, as in 12" , in the sense 
regards, pays attention to, but we should then expect the righteous 
man as subject; here we shall better, with Grk. and Hit/ig, read 
utter* The proverb defines men s characters by the nature of 
their speech. In the four clauses of the two verses there is pos 
sibly a chiastic arrangement, the fourth cl. answering to the first cl., 
and the second cl. to the third cl., so that the simple form would be : 

The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, 
But the mouth of the wicked falsehood. 
The lips of the righteous utter what is acceptable, 
But the tongue of falsehood will be cut off. 

26. In h (P may = n^i" (11) ^sv-i) ; whether xpw.u^fcus represents 
vnSt* or some other word is uncertain. 28. 1i) r s n ~ hope ; (5 tvxpovifei, niz. s 
long (because there is always hope), or, less probably, is dejerred (because 
only a hope), or perh. represents some other Ileb. word, as nxr. 29. 11) i^~ ; 
(5 06/ios, as in v.- ; 5; 1 (with note oi \otirol wffavTus) 656s, which may be 
conformation to It), or may be original . 11) -~ must lie pointed "; l)j. 
suggests that the Masoretes here pointed the word as subst. becau.-e the adj. 
is not found elsewhere with prefix. u~ occurs nine times in ethical sense (in 
poetical books only), twice of physical purity (Cant. 5- 6 1 ), once of social 
habitude (den. 25 J7 ); it is an ethical term of the later literature (lob, 1 ss. 
I r.). 31. lij 2V is doubtful, since it elsewhere means sf>>\utt, ^i ois< and 
even I [if. is hardly satisfactory; llit/. s emendation \^-^ is not improbable. 
(!3 I! aTroard^ei may = ar or fir ( fag. in Lag.), or may be error tor eViurarai 
(so- 1 ---- 5.)=p;"i< (as in v. :! - !l ). 32. li>-\"-; we should probably read 

p;- (cf. 15-). 

* Cf. fob 33 :i , where there is a similar difficulty, and the second cl. should per 
haps read : my lips speak -cliat is sincere. 


XI. The contents are similar to those of ch. 10, but there are 
several new groups, as v. 1 " ", l J - ] , - t ~- fl . 

1. Honesty. 

A false balance is an abomination to Yahweh, 
But a just weight is well-pleasing to him. 

Antithetic, ternary. Honesty in commercial dealing. So 16" 
2O 10 - 25 , and cf. 20"; for the earlier legal precept see Dt. 25 lr> Ez. 
45 10 Lev. 19. On abomination see note on 3-; originally ritual 
istic, it later acquired an. ethical meaning. The moral rule is 
here connected with the divine will. 

2. Pride and humility. 

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, 
But with the humble is wisdom. 

Antithetic, ternary. Pride is here an overweening sense of 
one s deserts, and the humble man is one who does not overesti 
mate himself; the latter term is in the Heb. a different one from 
that so rendered in i/> g 12 < 13 > and elsewhere (which properly pious] 
it occurs in Mic. 6 s of humility before God, and might be so un 
derstood here * ; but the context suggests the more general sense, 
referring to relations between man and man : as the haughty man 
makes enemies, is opposed and overthrown, so the humble man is 
complaisant, avoids antagonisms and disgrace, and is therefore 
wise. Such appears to be the antithesis : wisdom involves the 
honor or peace which we might expect to be put over against the 
disgrace of the first cl. Wisdom here = good sense in worldly 
relations, though it may also involve acquaintance with and obe 
dience to the law of God, as in chs. 1-9. The term pride occurs 
i Sam. 17 - * Ez. y 1 " Jer. 49 (and the adj. in Pss.). With this 
proverb cf. 13 i5 ;a i6 iaiy 18 - 22"*, and the Eng. "pride will have 
a fall," and for other parallels see Malan. Instead of the hnmble 
the Lat. has humility, which gives a directer contrast to pride, 
though it is probably not the original Heb. reading. 

* In the prophets and Psalms all things which come into rivalry with Yahweh 
are regarded as objects of his displeasure, to be cast down ; this theocratic sense 
of pride is probably not the one meant by the proverb. 

XT. 1-4 2.21 

3-6. The saving power of goodness contrasted with the de 
structive power of evil. The point of vic\v is that of outward 
compensation in the present life according to moral character. 
The occurrence of these slightly varying forms of the same idea 
suggests the teaching of schools, in which sages would seek to 
inculcate a fundamental thought by repetition. 

]. The integrity of the upright will guide them, 

And the wickedness of the wicked will ruin them. 

4. Riches prolit not in the day ol wrath, 
Hut righteousness rescues from death. 

5. The righteousness ot the perfect smooths his path, 
llut the wicked will fall l>y his wickedness. 

6. The righteousness of the upright will save them, 
But the wicked are caught in their own desire. 

3. Antithetic, ternary. Integrity is moral perfectness, freedom 
from misdoing it is the quality of the upright, those who walk 
in the straight line of duty (rectitude) ; so (Job i ) Job is called 
perfect and upright. Opposed to this is the wickedness (devia 
tion from the right way, wrongness) of the wicked ; this last term 
does not represent the Hebrew word usually so rendered; it 
sometimes means faithless, those who act secretly, treacherously, 
not keeping word with man or God, but, from the connection, 
commonly in Prov. = the morally bad in general. Guide lead 
in the right way, procure wellbeing ; ;///// = devastate, reduce to 
nothing. The proverb contemplates in the first instance the op 
eration of natural, social law (the agencies mentioned are human 
qualities, integrity and wickedness ) , but doubtless with inclusion of 
the idea of divine reward and punishment (the upright, being per 
fect, arc guided by God the wicked, being bad. are destroyed 
by God). 4. Antithetic, ternary, or quaternary-ternary. The 
day <>f wraili, may be the time of any crushing catastrophe, 
brought on by man or God ; here, from the parallelism, the refer 
ence seems to be to the crowning catastrophe, dcatli, that is, 
death premature, sudden, violent, or otherwise unhappy (m sec 
ond cl. Targ. has eril death} ; see note on 2 ! \ In the prophets 
the day of wratli has a national signification it is the day in 
which Yahweh visits the sin of Israel or of other nations with 
famine, pestilence, exile, or overthrow ; in the Wisdom book-- it is 


the day (usually the final day) of retribution for the individual 
sinner. The verse contrasts moral and non-moral defences 
against misfortune; riches seems to stand for any social non-moral 
power, with the implication, of course, that it is not allied with 
rectitude ; cf. i^ 49. Here, as in the preceding verse, the sage 
may have in mind both natural and divine law, or ordinary social 
law regarded as the law of God. It is not said that wealth is in 
itself bad, but it is hinted that some men rely on wealth instead 
of righteousness to save them from calamity a condition of 
things that holds good of Hebrew society from Amos down to the 
second century B.C. ; anywhere within this period such a proverb 
may have originated. Righteousness was sometimes interpreted 
as = almsgiving (cf. note on 10-) ; see Tob. 12", and cf. BS. 2Q 12 . 
Saadia (loth cent. A.D.) renders in first cl. day of resurrection, 
against the usage of Pr., which takes no account of the future life. 
5. Antithetic, quaternary-ternary. The figure is taken from 
wayfaring : one man walks safely in a smooth, level road, another, 
wandering from the main road, stumbles over rough places, and 
falls irretrievably. See note on v. ! ; on the verb smooth (make 
level or straight) see 3. The agencies are here again qualities, 
righteousness and wickedness, and the same union of human and 
divine law as in the preceding verses is to be understood. 
6. Antithetic, ternary. An antithesis nearly identical with that 
of v. 3 : goodness is socially helpful, badness is hurtful. The iden 
tity would be complete if we could render in second cl. /// (or, by) 
their own wickedness. The Heb. word (see note on io n ) has two 
assured senses, desire (always evil) and calamity or destruction 
(iy 4 IQ U Job 6 30 30") ; the latter is here inappropriate (RV. im 
properly, mischief}, the former approaches nearly the idea of 
wickedness. The figure implied in caught (or, taken} is probably 
that of a net (cf. 6 2 $ 35 8 ), possibly that of the capture of a city 
(I6 3 - ). The term wicked of the second cl. is the same as that so 
translated in v. 31 . 

7. The text is uncertain. The Heb. of first cl. reads : 
Wlu ii a wicked man dies, his expectation perishes. 

The second cl., in its present form, can only be rendered : and 
the hope of strength (or, sorrow} perishes. The abstract strength 

XI. 4-7 223 

is taken as concrete strong by Rashi (who holds the reference 
to be to the hope of the children of strong men), and by l)e. ; 
but the term (as Do. points out) is never elsewhere used in an 
ethical sense, and (though the inadequacy of strength, as of riches, 
v. , might conceivably be referred to) \ve expect a definite ethical 
term as equivalent or opposite to the wicket/ of first cl. ; nor does 
the concrete sense occur elsewhere. The sense iniquity, wicked 
ness or wicked, unjust* is without support from OT. usage, the 
phi. (found here) being never elsewhere so employed. The ren 
dering sorrow (K\v.) or sorrowful (Berth.) is not appropriate ; it 
is improbable that the expectation of the wicked would be de 
scribed simply as sorrowful hope. Failing a satisfactory render 
ing of the present text, emendations have been proposed : Graetz, 
sons (= Rashi) ; Bi. bad men ; or (by dropping the plu. termina 
tion) we get init/i/ifv. But, in the t\vo last cases, we have the 
proverb consisting of two identical propositions, which, in this 
place, is a very improbable form.f The Grk. supplies a desired 
antithesis by rendering : 

When a righteous man dies his hope does not perish, 
But the boast of the wicked perishes. 

This form, which is not supported by any other ancient authority, 
looks like an interpretation of the Greek scribe, under the influ 
ence of the later belief in immortality. The true text of the 
second cl. must be left undetermined. The form of the first cl. 
suggests that the hope of the righteous man, in the sage s view, 
would not perish at his death. If such an interpretation were 
certain (here and in i4 :; -), it might help us to fix the time at 
which the doctrine of immortality entered the Jewish world. But 
the doubt respecting the second cl. attaches itself to the first cl. 
also, and we cannot regard its form as assured. The more natu 
ral thought for Pr. is given in io JS n 4 ; cf. note on i4 :;j . One of 
the clauses of the verse is perhaps a doublet, each clause having 
originally read : the hope of the wicked will perish, and the doublet 


having ejected the proper antithetic clause which described the 
hope of the righteous. 

8. Rescue of the righteous. 

The righteous is delivered out of trouble, 
And the wicked comes in his stead. 

Implicit antithesis, ternary. In his stead means reversal of posi 
tions, not vicarious suffering (Isa. 53), an idea not found in Pr. ; 
cf. 2 1 18 . The aphorism contains the sage s solution of the problem 
of evil. The righteous is sometimes afflicted of this fact the 
sage (unlike the author of Job) attempts no discussion ; but the 
affliction, he maintains, is temporary (so Job 20" ) ultimately 
the righteous is rescued (so i2 13 ), and the wicked, cast down 
from his shortlived triumph, takes his proper place as sufferer. It 
is the doctrine of recompense in this world. The case of the 
good man s suffering and the bad man s prospering throughout 
life is not considered here or elsewhere in the Book. Cf. \\i 49. 73. 

9. The righteous escapes the ruin which the wicked designs. 

With his mouth the impious man would destroy his neighbor, 
But by knowledge the righteous are rescued. 

Antithetic, quaternary-ternary. The word here rendered impi 
ous seems to have been originally a ritual term, signifying the op 
posite of pure, sacred (so = profane} , as in Isa. io 6 (and the verb 
in Jer. 3 1 Isa. 24* Nu. 35 i33 <// io6 r!8 ) ; then it passed to the sense 
of morally impure, out of relation with God (so RV. godless). 
Lat. : simulator; Aq. Sym. Theod. : hypocrite. The speech of 
such an one is false, malignant, likely to bring his fellowmen into 
trouble and death (as, for ex., by traducing them to men in 
power). There is probably no reference to the corrupting power 
of evil talk. As contrast to this we might expect in second cl. 
the statement (somewhat as in io 21 ) that the righteous saves his 
neighbor (and so perhaps we should read), instead of which it is 
said that he escapes (that is, apparently, the destruction of first 
cl.) by knowledge either by general acquaintance with life (a 
result of devotion to wisdom, M 1 " 10 22"), or by knowing the wiles 
of the impious and avoiding them. The converse statement is 
found in io- 1 , where the righteous saves with his lips, and the 

* 7-9 225 

wicked die through ignorance. In general in Pr. the effect of 
evil and good is confined to their possessors. (irk.: /// the 
mouth of the impious is a snare for citizens, but the knowledge of 
tlie ri^litcous is prosperous, a free rendering of the Ileb. (with 
some changes of text), affected by next verse. If \ve suppose 
second cl. to he isolated, standing in no logical connection with 
first cl., its meaning may be that kmnvleiige ( wisdom) is the 
saving thing in life a conception which controls chs. 1-9. 

XI. 1. 11) ""^r, (5 SIKCLIOV. On the use of 5. in the 2tl century r,.c. cf. 
Deissinann, Bibelstudien, pp. ii2t". 2. On p,i see note on 3 :;r . Static 
(iriu-Ji.} suggests that ;;; is Aram.; he refers to I3 1 , which lias the general 
form of our v.. only with n-^ for p-, and z>-;i wcll-adrised for ;;;;; /nun die, 
but such mutations of subjects and predicates are common in Pr., and there is 
no good ground for changing the. text here; cf. Lag. The occurrence of yy* 
in Mic. 6 H is against regarding it as Aram. (Haumg.).- &> arb^a. 5<? ra.TTfi.vuv 
/j.e\erq. yotplav, in which or. is perh. repetition from io :i - , and yueX. insertion 
for clearness. 1L, for the sake of formal symmetry: iibi aulan liuiuilitas ilri 

et sapienlia. 3. Ketlnb ^TJM (adopted in 3T) is scribal error for Oere :tu". 

11] i"D; 5 N.-"i pride (a guess; cf. Pink.); 1L snppla nta tio ; 3T, verb jSj^a;, 
shall be drircn forth. The stem rpD = more on ; Arab, pass by or forward ; 
Jew. Aram, turn aside ; Heb. turn aside, upside down. (S a airodavuv StVoios 
f\iwei> /xerdyueXoc, perh. = cnjr s^- " r ::2 (Jag., Hi.) ; cf. \v a ; see notes of Lag., 
Ileid., Kaumg.; 6 b = li? v. 1 " 1 . 6 = 11). 4. 11) p ; C Nip- deceit, = JIN. 
6" u ur give J1J; the v. is lacking in all other (5 MSS., perh. by scribal over 
sight, possibly (Ileid.) omitted from dogmatic considerations, because it seemed 
to favor the rabbinical doctrine of justilication by alms (cf. Baba Bathra, \oa) 
or by the study of the Tora (see the Midra.-,h), against the Christian doctrine 
of justification by faith. 5. 11) ~~~; l!i. c~. |l) 1 -2 < ; Yalkiit -<: s -; tier. 
Kab. nni-, both free renderings, or citations from memory; cf. v. 1 . 6. The 
singular construction of" (m without suff.) is not supported by Gen. 9 (De.) 
or \f/ 32 (Xow.) ; these passages do not leave the reader to infer the subject 
of the verb from a preceding predicate; read c~i", with (SSJTIL- 7. See 
note on this v. above. For the impossible DJN (elsewhere only llos. 9 4 
Isa. 4o - (i --- \f/ yS" 1 , the last better r % s, cf. \f/ 105^) we may read (with <Q 
do-f^uj^) : k ix (Hi.), or JIN (but this latter term cannot be taken as concrete); 
but the form of the whole v. is doubtful. In ll -IN, though sustained by <&, is 
better omitted, for the sake of the rhythm. 8. Impf. followed by 1 + Impf., 
both expressing general facts, the second a sequel to the first; it is unnecessary 
to point \ |i) mv; (5 07?pas, =: m:> (Jag.) taken as persecution. |i) i-n.-; 
dvr avTov, for his sake, or in place of him. 9. .132, witk tht- mouth, as 
."""2, by knowledge ; or we may write n^. r|>n is to tur>i awctv (to good or 
to bad), used in Arab, of persons in good sense, in Aram, and Heb. in bad 
sense, of one who turns from religious faithfulness, profane, and S > in Pr. of 


Ihc wicked m general. <5 B foepZv (V anaprwXwv); AZ6 viroKptr^; & V J T 
wicked; & ^J treacherous; IL simulator. ft in;p Pn= :; ira-yls TroXirats, 
perh. = "i (or pns-s) Pnsr. 

10, 11. Relation of moral goodness to civil prosperity. 

10. When it goes well with the righteous the city rejoices, 
And when the wicked perish there is shouting. 

11. By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted, 
But by the mouth of the wicked it is overthrown. 

Antithetic ; apparently quaternary-ternary. See 14* 2S 12 29". 
The first couplet states the fact, the second the reason. The 
counsels of the righteous, controlled by probity, bring blessing and 
prosperity to the state ; those of the wicked, dictated by selfish 
ambition and rapacity, bring destruction. This view of the rela 
tion of virtue to civil prosperity is found in substance m the 
prophets (Am. 4 " Hos. f Mic. 3^ Isa. 3" * J er - 22 " Ez "]> 
But, for them the nation is the unit, and the worship of other g 
than Yahweh the chief sin ; here the moral side alone is men 
tioned, and the civil unit is the city. It was in the Greek period 
that the city-state became familiar to the Jews, and it seems to be 
this later civilization that is here meant. The expression blessing 
of the upright might mean God s blessing on the upright, but the 
parallel mouth (utterance, counsel) of the wicked (which is malefi 
cent) points to the beneficent words (involving deeds) of good men. 

12, 13. Against contemptuous talk and talebearing. 

12. He who mocks his neighbor is lacking in sense, 
But the man of discretion keeps silent. 

13. A talebearer reveals secrets, 

But a trustworthy man conceals a matter. 

12. Antithetic, ternary. Reversing subject and predicate in 
first cl., we may read : the fool mocks his neighbor (so Grk. Str. 
Kamp.) ; the sense is the same. The Heb. has despises. 
tempt, lack of due regard for one s neighbor, may show itself in 
various ways: in i 4 21 (where its opposite is care for the poor) ii 
manifests itself in indifference to men s bodily wellbeing; here, as 
it stands in contrast with silence, it involves speech. A man who 
speaks contemptuously of his fellow-citizens is said to be lacking 
in sense (lit. heart) because he thus makes enemies and involves 

X I . I o- 1 4 -> ~> 7 

- j 

himself and others in difficulties ; it is obviously the part of dis 
cretion (or, understanding) to keep silent. The reference is not 
immediately or mainly to the kindliness (to the neighbor) that 
should seal one s tongue, or to reflection on the fallibility of human 
judgments that .-.hould make one cautious (though these things 
would naturally be involved), but to a prudent regard for conse 
quences in social relations. Nor is the line drawn between just 
and blameworthy criticism ; the sage contents himself with de 
nouncing contemptuous talk as a foolish thing. (irk. a man 
lacking in sense shows contempt for his fellow-citizens. 13. Anti 
thetic, ternary. A simple statement of two types of character. 
The Heb. expression describes the talebearer as one who goes 
about spreading malicious gossip lit. a walker of slander ; see 
Jer. 6- s 9 4 " K/. 22 Lev. 19". It is unnecessary to render by he 
wlio goes about as a talebearer ( RV.) ; the going is included in 
the bear. In contrast with such an one the trustworthy man 
(trusty of mind} keeps silence respecting things which he has 
learned in confidential intercourse or otherwise secrets of family 
or state ; the reference is to things the mention of which is dan 
gerous or undesirable. The first cl. occurs in 2o ;l ; on secret cf. 
note on 3 :: - ; the word is here to be taken in a general sense. The 
clause is understood by Grk. of political relations (cf. next verse) : 
a double-tongued man reveals the deliberations of the assembly (or, 
council} by the I ,at. of private affairs : he who is of faithful mind 
conceals his friend s act ; it is applicable to all the relations of life. 

14. Value of political wisdom. 

\\ here there is no guidance a people- falls, 

]>ut in the multitude of counsellors there is safety. 

Antithetic, ternary. A civil and political adage. Guidance is 
lit. steering there must be some one at the helm ; the guidance 
is assumed to be good (so RV., interpreting, wise guidance}. The 
multitude of counsellors points not to any special political organi 
zation, but simply to the need of manysided advice ; that will be 
a well-governed city or state in which questions of policy are looked 
at from all points ; Frank, refers to the " friends " of the Ptolemies 
and Seleucids. On the term guidance see note on i ; the word 
belongs to the poetical vocabulary. Instead of counsellors the 


Anc. Vrss. have counsel or counsels. The proverb (which has no 
religious element) is not a folksaying, but the reflection of a man 
living in contact with public affairs. Hitzig cites, as representing 
the opposite point of view : " too many cooks spoil the broth." 

15. Against giving security. 

He who is surety for another will suffer, 
But he who hates suretyship is secure. 

Antithetic, ternary. A prudential maxim, the wisdom of which, 
as a general rule, is verified by universal experience, though there 
are obvious occasions when it should be disregarded. The word 
here rendered another (see note on 2 16 ) has three possible mean 
ings : a person of a different nation ; one of a different clan, 
family, or household ; and a different individual. The strong 
Jewish national and family feeling might seem to favor the first 
sense, or the third, with exclusion of one s immediate family 
(father, son, brother). But the tone of the proverb appears to be 
universal, and in the later Jewish life the old relations of clan had 
partly vanished the Jews became commercial, and needed com 
mercial strictness; exceptions might be left to the individual. 
Suretyship is lit. (as the Heb. text stands) those who go security 
(lit. strike hands) ; cf. 6 1 if s 22. Suffer is go ill. RV. he that 
hateth suretiship is sure gives a good verbal play. 

16. Honor to good women. 

A gracious woman obtains honor, 
Violent men obtain wealth. 

Antithetic, ternary. This is the only verse in Pr. in which men 
are contrasted with women (such contrast is not made in 19"). 
If the text be correct, the proverb relates to the struggle for riches 
and social position in communities in which women had some sort 
of influence, and the contrast is between upright gentleness and 
immoral force : an unscrupulous man may gain riches, but not 
esteem a woman of gracious bearing, beautiful in manner (and 
presumably, in spirit) obtains honor. And as the industrious 
woman of 3I 23 helps to procure social consideration for her hus 
band, so the honor here may be for husband and family, though 
women in Pr. (except those of licentious character) have no im- 

XI. 14-17 229 

mediate relations with society at large ; but as there is no mention 
of family, it is probably better to understand the expression as 
referring to the esteem which comes to the woman herself from 
her family and her circle of friends. The (Irk. expresses a fuller 
antithesis by means of t\vo couplets : 

A gracious woman obtains honor for her husband, 

l!ut a woman who hates righteousness is a throne of dishonor. 

The slothful come to lack riches, 

I>ut the manly lean (securely) on riches. 

Lines 1,4 represent the Heb. ; for her husband is interpreta 
tion. Lines 2, 3 are probably an addition by a Greek scribe; 
throne is nowhere else used of a person (the expression perhaps 
comes from ^ 94 211 ) ; hates righteousness indicates that gracious is 
taken as = righteous; line 3 may be rendered: they who arc 
slothful as to riches come to want. It is possible that the two 
lines of the Heb. verse are remnants of two independent couplets, 
the first relating to women, the second to men ; but the Grk. 
hardly gives the true text. 

17. Kindliness is good policy. 

The kindly man does himself good, 
The cruel man does himself harm. 

Antithetic, ternary. Self is lit. soul in first cl., flesh in second 
cl. ; the tu-o terms are synonymous the Heb. language expresses 
the idea self only by such words. It is on this term that the em 
phasis is laid ; it is himself that the kind man helps and the cruel 
man hurts the one makes friends, the other makes enemies ; the 
commendation of kindness is based on its good results to him 
who practises it a practical suggestion which would not prevent 
the sage s holding that it is in itself an obligatory thing. There 
is probably (to judge from the rest of the Book) no reference to 
the ennobling power of one quality and the depraving power of 
the other. The translation (Mich.): he who docs good to himself 
is kind (to others} and he who /v hurtful to himself is cruel (to 
others}, is grammatically possible, but here improbable, because of 
the difficulty of supplying to others, and because in the context 
(v. 1 " 1 " - 1 -- 1 ) the subjects of the lines are such words as righteous. 
wicked, kind, cruel. 


10, 11. rp-ip (v. 10 ) occurs in preexilian prophets (Hos. Isa. Hab.) and several 
times in Pr., rip (v. 11 ) only in poetical books (Job 2(/ Pr. 8 :i 9 :i u i i n ) ; the use 
of the two words is not a ground for supposing difference of authorship in the 
two v. (so Hitz., who omits v. 11 ), since both terms seem to have been common in 
the writer s time. <@ B here omits v. 1111 (which it gives in v. :!l ) and v. lu , making 
one couplet of v. 10a - U1) ; the omission, apparently scribal error, is supplied in 
(gABbsc (taken, according to & n , from 9). (5 /caruy>0w<Te (p>r) is changed 
to KO.T apxfoa T ty Lag., who refers the present (5 text to Theodotion. 
12. |ij n-;i; (5 TroAtTcis, as in v. 10 , a political interpretation natural in a city 
like Alexandria. 13. ^m elsewhere = slander ; so Ez. 22 9 "i irj.v, Jer. 6- 8 
9 3 , and probably Lev. ig 16 Pr. 2O 19 . The vb. f^ has the sense of going about, 
Jos. I4 10 . For the construction here cf. Isa. 33 15 rpis I 1 ?."! one u ho walks in 
righteousness ; cf. also the common construction in which n is delined by an 
Inf. abs. The st. is ^m go, whence the noun = a going, gaMing, and, as the 
principal occupation of gadabouts is malicious gossip, talking maliciously, 
and so slander. ~]^ is sometimes followed by an adj. which describes the 
condition of the subject of the vb., as in Gen. i$ 2 (I go childless}, 2 S. I5 a) 
Job 24 10 , and so -\ might perhaps be taken here (= slanderer, talebearer}, 
but for the phrases in Jer. and Ez. above cited; but it is to be observed that 
the adj. after y?n describes the condition rather than the action of the subject. 
Cf. SS., in which both constructions of -i are given, adj. under t-n, subst. 
under in. On I D see note on f 2 ; <S, freely, /3oi;\<zs ev vvvedplv. 14. |D ^D> 
a;; irlvrovffiv wo-irep 4>v\\a, = rrvr, cf. v. 28 (Jag.). For $ ?; (sing., 
defining the category) the Anc. Vrss. read ns? counsel, as in I2 15 2O lft , and 
this is perh. preferable as corresponding more precisely to r^am in first cl. - 
15. In $ yii JP the vb. must be taken as Nif. of yn (not >n, Ges. 26 67^), 
and the y-\ as intensive nominal addition, performing the function of Inf. Abs. 
(cf. Ew. 312 ); and we may point >"> (Gratz). Siegfried, in IVbch., pro 
poses to omit y-i , or to read jn > n - In f - A1)S - + Im P f - Q al - which is lhe usual 
construction; but, as Nif. occurs in \$ and the >i is intelligible, the change 
is unnecessary. For ft? a-)-; 13 read 3^ . |i) -"; CJr. ii^, as in 6 1 ; see note- 
on 20 16 . The verb ypp occurs in the sense of making ct bargain only in Job 
and Pr.; this limitation is perhaps an accident. $ ayp p, Act. Partcp., should 
perhaps be written >pn Inf. the a may have arisen from following a ; SS. 
suggests Pass. Partcp. (cf. op/f>, Eccl. 4 1 ) ; for Act. Parlcp. as = abstract noun 
n, 7,ech. n", is not decisive. (5 irovripbs KaKoiroiei (p ) &TO.V <ru/x/x^?7 
( V (T) Mret 5^ ^xo" dff^aXe^as (n J32 ypr). In second cl. S has /4rt/ 
7C //o confidently hope ; & hates those ivho put their trust in Cod. It was 
chiefly the word c;rpn (1L laqueos) that embarrassed the ancient translators. 
For further discussion of the readings of the Anc. Vrss. see notes of Jag., 
Schleus. Lag. Ik-id. Baumg. Pink. 16. See note on this v. above. For 
$ jn we might read vn. as in I2 4 (recalling also the ^"n ru-s of ch. 31), but 
the jn also gives a definite and natural character. Whether or not the 
expanded text of (5 (adopted by Bi.) comes from a Hebrew MS. may be 
doubtful; but the strangeness of the expression 0p6vos drifua^ and the vigorous 

XI. iS-iQ 231 

curtncss of $3 favor the originality of the latter. 11 agree with Jt); 5 follows 
<8. 17. ?i? "^NiT; <5 ffCifJ.0.; ^ OIKOVS, jirobahly for oitctiovs (Schl.) ; 31 pro- 
pinijHOs. li) i-vrN; see note on ^; writes a form of ->;:, there properly, 
here improperly. 

18-21. Contrasted rewards of virtue and vice. Antithetic. 

iS. The wicked earns delusive pay, 

lint lie who sows righteousness real wages. 

19. If one i follows after righteousness, (it leads) to life, 
If one pursues wiekedness, (it leads) to death. 

20. They who are of wieked mind are" an abomination to Valiwth, 
l!ut they who are perfect in their walk are well-pleasing to him. 

21. The wieked will assuredly not go unpunished, 
But the righteous will be rescued. 

18. Ternary. The form of expression is taken from industrial 
life. Real ivagcs is lit. reward of truth. The gain of a bad man 
is not real, for it is not enduring (icr 5 ), and cannot save him from 
misfortune (n 4 ), but he who sows goodness shall reap prosperity 
(io- 4 ) his revenue is real and permanent, not illusive. The 
fact is here recognized that a bad man sometimes prospers, and 
the explanation offered is that his prosperity is only seeming ; cf. 
note on v. s . The Latin has a slightly different form : 

The ungodly does unstable work, 

I!ut to him who sows righteousness there is a faithful reward; 

but the idea of fav, wages for work done, is clearly found in both 
clauses, (loodness, says the proverb, is commercially profitable 
the pay is prosperity, insured by the laws of man and the 
favor of Ciod. 19. Ternary. The second cl. is lit.: lie ic/io 
pursues wicket/ness, to his death (RV. doeth it to /it s own deat]i}. 
The general idea of the verse is plain : righteousness insures a 
long and happy life, wickedness a premature or otherwise unhappy 
death ; see notes on r ; - " 2- - - 3-. The wording of the first cl. is 
doubtful. The more natural rendering of the Heb. is so rix/tfrous- 
firss (/ends} to life (Saad.) ; this would connect the verse with 
the preceding as illustration or result ( Luther has for, Noyes as) ; 
but such connection is contrary to the usage of this part of I r.. 
in which each verse is an independent affirmation, and besides, 
the relation of thought between this verse and the preceding does 


not suggest or justify a connective so. The word may be taken as 
adj., = true, righteous (E\v., see note on i5 7 , Jer. 23 ), but right 
eous in righteousness is insufferable tautology : if it be taken as 
subst., = that which is true, righteous, genuineness (Rashi, Cocc. 
Schult. De. Str.), the resulting expression, what is true in right 
eousness ( not true righteousness, but the true part of righteous 
ness) is unnatural ; the renderings firm, steadfast (Zock. RV.) 
are lexicographically unsupported, and this objection holds to 
Vogel s emendation he who is firm in his walk. The Lat. has 
clemency, Grk. and Syr. (by a change of text) son (Grk. a righteous 
son is born unto life}. The expression son of is used frequently 
in OT. to denote doom or quality, but always evil quality: 3i 8 
sons of destruction, \p 79" sons of death, ^ Sg 22 23 * son of wicked 
ness, and the common son of depravity (belial, i Sam. 25", cf. 
note on Pr. 6 1 -) ; the reading son of righteousness would give a 
not wholly unsatisfactory sense if son could be supposed to be 
properly used in a good sense. The Partcp. he who pursues sug 
gests for the first cl. a Partcp. he who follows after (lit. feeds on, 
15") ; cf. i2 28 , the form of which is similar to that of this verse. 
20. Ternary. General statement of the moral demands of the 
divine favor; cf. 12" i4 2 i5 J . Mind (lit. heart) is the whole 
spiritual being. They who are of wicked mind, lit. the wicked 
(averted, perverted) of mind, are those who stray from the straight 
path of goodness. The perfect man is morally well-rounded, com 
plete ; the term in OT. involves general right feeling, but not 
absolute perfection of soul ; see note on 2 21 . No heightening of 
effect or increase of intensity is involved in the sequence mind 
. . . walk (= conduct) the two terms are equivalent, each involv 
ing the other. The terms abomination and well-pleasing are oppo- 
sites, originally ritualistic, here ethical; see Dt. y 26 Lev. 22 21 , and 
notes on 3 32 8 :!l \ 21. Ternary. The idea is a fundamental one 
in Pr., the reference being always to retribution in this life ; see 
j26-3.i 2 2i.22^ e j c> Assuredly (so recent expositors and lexicographers 
generally) is lit. hand to hand . , the meaning of which is properly 
given in margin of RV. : my hand upon it my word for it . 
It appears to be a popular phrase of asseveration, derived from 
the procedure in a bargain, in which the parties clasped hands ; 
so in v. 15 above, 6 l , and Job if who will clasp my hand (enter 

XL 19-22 233 

into a bargain with me, be my security) ? The rendering though 
liand (/oin) in liand (RV.) = though men unite their forces, 
against \vhich the form of the Ileb. sentence is decisive ; cf. 16 . 
The translation (Sehult. des. after the Arab, usage) from genera 
tion to generation, = through all time, is not supported by Ileb. 
usage. Saad. : as tlie turn of hand to hand, apparently = suJ- 
dcnly. Rashi explains the clause to mean : from the hand of dod 
to the hand of the wicked the retribution will come. Targ. and 
Syr. : Jic li Jio lifts Ids hand against his neighbor sJiall not l>c Jicld 
innocent of evil, a mistranslation. In second cl. the lieb. has 
the seed of the righteous, the seed meaning simply race, as in 
Isa. i (where the prophet calls his contemporaries a seed of evil 
doers}, 65 L :! (where seed is contrasted with offspring}, and not 
posterity (a sense which the word often has) ; a reference to pos 
terity (Berth, a/., in the sense : not merely the righteous, but also 
their descendants) would be inappropriate here, where the purpose 
is simply to contrast the fates of the wicked and the righteous. 

22. Beauty without discretion. 

A golden ring in a swine s snout 
Such is a fair woman without discretion. 

A simple comparison, ternary, but with omission of the particle 
of comparison the Heb. says : a golden ring . . . is a fair 
woman . . . The nose-ring was, and is, a common ornament of 
women in Western Asia, and in many barbarous and half-civilized 
tribes ; see den. 24- Ju. S - 1 Isa. 3" Job 42", and Lane s Manners 
and Customs of the Modern Rg\ptians, Appendix A. The term 
rendered discretion signifies first ph\sical taste (Kx. i6 :;l Job 6 1 1 ), 
then capacity of intellectual disc rim i nation (\ Sam. 2 5^ Job 12 - "), 
and apparently also ethical and religious judgment (^ 119 "). It 
occurs in one other place in Pr. (24 ). where it means intellectual 
judgment, opinion, ansivcr based on sound judgment. Here the 
moral element is probably included. There is as great incon 
gruity, it is said, in the union of beauty of person and deformity 
oi mind and character in a woman as in the presence of a rich 
ornament on the coarsest and unrleanest of beasts (so the ( Irk. ) ; * 


this is no doubt the meaning of the condensed expression of the 
Heb. that such a woman is a ring, etc. 

23. Character determines fortune. 

The desire of the righteous issues only in good, 
The expectation of the wicked in wrath. 

Antithetic, ternary. Desire expectation. Lit. . . . is only 
good, and . . . is wrath (or, arrogance }. The proverb is suscep 
tible of two interpretations, according as we take the predicates 
to express qualities or results of the subjects. In the first case 
(De.) the desire of righteous men is described as itself good, 
morally pure, embracing praiseworthy objects, that of wicked men 
as selfseeking, proud, arrogant (such is the sense of the word in 
Isa. i6 6 , = Jer. 48 30 ). In the second case it is declared that the 
issue of hope will be in accordance with the character of the man 
prosperity (divine favor) for the one class, wrath (divine pun 
ishment) for the other ; the last word of the verse commonly 
means anger, of man (Gen. 49 7 ), or of God (Isa. i3 1:! Zeph. i 15 ) ; 
such is its sense in 1 i 4 , where day of wrath is parallel with (doom 
of) death. If the first interpretation be adopted, it will be under 
stood that the hope of the righteous is fulfilled, that of the wicked 
denied (Grk. is destroyed}. The second interpretation is favored 
by such proverbs as io 24 -- 8 n 7 , and by the tone of the Book, which 
in general describes the consequences of actions. It is, besides, 
very nearly a tautology to say that the desire of a good man is 
good, that of a bad man bad. 

24-26. Liberality or generosity, and niggardliness or avarice. 

24. One man spends, yet still increases, 

Another withholds what is proper, but (it tends) only to want. 

25. The liberal man will be prospered, 

And he who waters will himself be watered. 

26. He who withholds corn, the people curse him, 
But blessing is on the head of him who sells it. 

24. Complete antithesis, ternary : one spends and grows, another 
hoards and declines. \I\\.. there is one who spends. The terms and 
the sense seem to be general there is no special reference to 
almsgiving (as in \p 112), but it is said that a just expenditure 

XI. 22-26 235 

of one s wealth, in every way, is rational policy, tending to gain. 
That the reference is to physical wealth (and not to thought and 
act) may be inferred from similar expressions in Pr. ( 1 1 - " J - 14- 
2i : ), and that a general habit or policy is spoken of appears from 
the general character of the terms employed : experience teaches 
that the man of liberal methods prospers, and such an one, it is 
probably meant to say, has the blessing of God. The sage does 
not seem to have in mind a man s care of himself. Proper is 
that which is just, appropriate to the circumstances (the RV. 
rendering more than is proper is incorrect) ; want is lack, deficit. 
See a similar thought in I)S. n 11 . In second cl. the Lat. (and so 
the Syr.) has, incorrectly : Others seize what is not theirs, and arc 
alwavs in want. 25. Synonymous (a form of rare occurrence in 
chs. 10-15), ternary. Liberal man is lit. person (lit. sou!) of 
fi/essirig, one who dispenses kindness, beneficence. Prospered is 
lit. made fat, metaphor derived from the condition of well-nour 
ished animals or vegetables (Ju. 9" Isa. 30- Jer. 31" Job 36 1(1 , cf. 
Pr. i3 4 28 - ) ; the metaphor in waters, watered is agricultural. 
The reference appears to be specifically to kindly, generous con 
duct toward others ; the reward of such conduct is determined 
by social laws and by the divine approval. 26. Antithetic, ter 
nary. Allusion to the practice of hoarding grain in seasons of 
scarcity in order to sell it at a high price. This is the only men 
tion in OT. of this procedure so frequent in commercially devel 
oped communities ; Am. 8 ~ s speaks only of eager desire to make 
money, and of fraudulent methods in trade. The practice here 
denounced probably became familiar to the Jews under Greek 
governments in great commercial and financial centres. Syr. and 
Targ. : He who wntliJiolds corn in time of famine shall be aban 
doned to his enemies, in which the last expression is based on a 
misreading of the Hebrew. 

18. There is a paronomasia in "OuS irj ; the latter Stade \voulil write >;" 
ur <::: (so 50, since the usual noun-form is ->:;:; the assonance, however, 
may he intended: $ may he free rendering of 11). The Participles express the 
general rule; nj 1 " is to he understood in second cl. (? airtpu-a. 5t/ctu wr, as 
in |i), v.-" , which see. -- 19. See note on this v. above. < >mit the suff. in 
ire, as in all Anc. Yrss. 11) p; (p (followed by $ ) i><6s, and Hi. 2: JT N;:I 
~3;"i jNt, apparently taking ;: a., = ->:-sr; 1L ilt iiuntin, perhaps taking n p -nx 


in the sense of alms (Baumg.), and p from stem pr, or possibly reading p. 
The connection calls for a term parallel to the pp-ic of h ; Kamp. -TJP, he who 
associates with, after 15" Hos. 12- ^ 37*; (Jr. pr, graphically easy, but not 
appropriate in sense, even though, with Vogel, we supply ^ lam; nsrj? is 
graphically possible in the old alphabet, but not easy; to pn the same objec 
tion lies as to JJD; Kamp. s emendation may be provisionally accepted. 
20. In a (5 has odoi for |ij aS, assimilation to b , and in rhetorically inserts 
n-dvres. 21. With T 1 *? T 1 cf. the common expression rp j:pr, strike hands. 
|^ Cp~<i >"<T; (SI, not so well, b tnreipwv 5iKa.Loavvriv, = npTi >"\r. For $? aSaj 
(5 has Ai^ercu /xKr^i/ Triffrbv, after v. 18b (Lag.). 22. $ an; (favored by the 
rhythm) is lacking in <@ B , found in (@> s c - a ; the epithet is often inserted in |t?, 
but sometimes omitted, as in Hos. 2 10 Isa. 3 21 Ez. i6 1 -. 23. fft n< J3"; 
< d7roXe?Tcu, = mas, and so De Rossi 941, a natural reading, but not dis 
tinctly antithetic to the a j of a . 24. |l? ip; Perles, Analekt., p. 88, T^; 
wealth, which is appropriate, but not better than f^. > i n b > et ^ Ka ^ * 
ffwdyovres, apparently free rendering of Ity. 25. In fty Nn " the N seems to 
be substitution, by an Aramaic-speaking scribe, for n, which is found in many 
MSS. of Kenn. and De Rossi (in which, however, it may be correction). The 
stem may be nn, Hof. nrv, whence n*, -TV, nv, or (Fleisch., De.), by metath 
esis, mv, m^; or, from st. -TV (IIos. 6^) we may get Hof. rrv, nv; it is, 
perhaps, better to emend to Hof. (Bi.) or Nif. (Gr.) of nn; C takes the form 
from Hif. mn teach, Si from -ns curse, both improbable. @ is corrupt; its 
Traffa air\T) is perhaps for Triavdri<reTai will be fattened (so A20), and its 
6u/j.u5r)s for iMtOvcros (2), or perhaps = rnn one ivho excites anger ; ev<?x h} J - U1 
may = njnn ac, or may represent a form of ns\ 26. |Q 1i " 2p i ; (5 irrdKliroiTO, 
= Aram, par (so SC). 

27. Kindness gains goodwill. 

He who seeks good < wins favor, 

lie who seeks evil, it will overtake him. 

Antithetic, ternary. The word rendered favor may = good 
will, acceptance (i2 2 I4 35 ), or what pleases, what is acceptable 
(ic 32 , etc.); see note on S 35 . The good and evil are better taken 
in a wide sense, as embracing moral (as in Am. 5") and general 
conditions (as in f 1 - \f^ i/^pi 10 Eccl. 2"), and as describing the 
man s conduct toward others. The second cl. declares that evil 
doing rebounds on its author such is the implication in the 
expression overtake, lit. come upon (or to} him. The first cl. 
should give the antithesis to this : he who seeks good (for others), 
it will come to him as well. The Heb. has seeks favor; the seeks 
may be understood to mean is thus really seeking (and finding) 
favor, or, if this be thought to be putting too much into the word, 

XI. 27-29 237 

we may change the text. The simple sense of seeks yields no 
satisfactory meaning for the clause. The favor can hardly be 
taken as = God s favor, for, if such reference had been intended, 
the divine name would have been expressed (De.), as in 12-. If 
the favor be understood as referring to man, \ve have (in the Ileb. 
text) the statement that he who wishes good fortune for himself 
must so act as to gain the goodwill of others, must do what is 
phasing to them an idea found nowhere else in 1 r., and here 
offering no good contrast to first cl. Nor is the noun (favor, or, 
what is acceptable} elsewhere in OT. preceded by the verb seek, 
and it is better to understand some such term as win, gain, obtain, 
procure (so AV., Reuss). Yet this reading does not give a perfect 
antithesis, and it may be better to supply the divine name, and 
render : he who seeks what is (morally) good secures God s favor, 
while he who seeks what is (morally) bad brings down on /ii in- 
self divine retribution. Possibly the two lines belong to different 

28. Folly of trusting in wealth. 

He who trusts in his riches will fall, 

But the righteous will flourish like the green leaf. 

Antithetic, ternary. The antithesis assumes that the man who 
trusts in riches is ungodly, and that the righteous trust not in 
riches, but in God. Riches is here the representative of worldly 
power, and the admonition is directed not against legitimate con 
fidence in wealth (as a means, for example, of doing good), but 
against the belief that it can save a bad man from the conse 
quences of his deeds (that is, from human or divine wrath) ; see 
io 2 ii 4 i// 62 1(MI> . The metaphor is different in the two clauses- 
it is taken in the first from a building, in the second from a tree. 
Identity of metaphor may be gained by substituting fade for fall 
(see \\i r ! 37 >J ), by the change of one Heb. letter, or (as in the (Irk.) 
by reading rise instead of flourish. The former of these changes 
gives a natural sense, but it is hardly necessary ; difference ot 
metaphor in two clauses of a proverb is not unnatural. 

29. Economic folly of stinginess. 

lie who brings distress on his household will have the wind as his possession, 
And the foolish will lie slave to llu; wise. 


Synonymous, ternary. For the verb brings distress on, or harms 
(RV. troubleth} see n 7 is fi 27 Gen. 34 i Sam. i 4 - 9 i K. i8 17 ; 
household is lit. house ; the rendering inherit for the second verb 
in first cl. (RV.) is possible (the man may be said to inherit pov 
erty from his own folly), but the idea is rather that of coming to 
possess. The general sense of the verse is indicated in i2 724 
I4 1 - 19 17 - : the man who, by incapacity, negligence, or niggardli 
ness, fails to nourish and build up his household will find his re 
sources reduced to nothing ; for wind, as = nothingness, see Jer. 
5 13 Eccl. i 14 . The second cl. restates the case : a man guilty of 
this economic and moral folly becomes literally or virtually a slave. 
The wise man (lit. wise of mind} is thrifty and successful, and 
neglect of one s own family is declared to be the sign of a fooL 
Slavery existed among the Jews throughout the OT. time (Neh. ^ 
Pr. i2 IJ if 30 10 , etc.), and later* ; but whether the reference here 
is to the holding of Hebrew slaves by a Hebrew master is uncer 
tain foreign slaves might be possessed by a Jew, or Jewish 
slaves by a foreigner. Possibly the two clauses do not belong 

30. Life and death the outcome of conduct. 

Our Heb. text reads : 

The fruit of a righteous man is a tree of life, 
But a wise man takes lives. 

The takes is generally (as by RV.) interpreted to mean wins: 
a wise man wins souls ( = persons) by his wisdom, which is under 
stood to be morally good. But elsewhere in OT. the last expres 
sion of the couplet always means takes away (= destroys) lives, 
and must be so interpreted here ; the resultant affirmation is, how 
ever, impossible. A better form is suggested by Grk., which has : 
from the fruit of righteousness grows a tree of life, but the lives of 
the lawless are taken away untimely, in which the word untimely 
probably represents an expression containing the Heb. term ren 
dered violence by RV. (io 6 a/.), and we may read : 

The revenue of righteousness is a tree of life, 
But rapine destroys men s lives. 

* See A. Griinfeld, Stellung der Sklaven bei den Juden, etc. 

XI. 2 9 -3i 239 


Antithetic, ternary. Fruit product, revenue (8 1;| ) ; nipitn 
volves the idea of revenue (or wealth) acquired by violence (injus 
tice). The couplet may be paraphrased thus : the wealth which 
is gained by rectitude is a source of long life and happiness, while 
that which is gained by injustice brings death; cf. 3"^^ 11 ^ 13" 
i^ r> 2i ; . The result is stated in general terms the agencies are 
divine and human. Tree of life is a familiar figure of speech, 
used in Pr. of wisdom (3 *), of fulfilled desire (13 -), of healing 
speech (15 ), and here of the product of integrity. Another 
reading of the couplet is proposed by Gra tz : 

The mouth of the righteous is a tree of life, 
l!ut the wicked harms himself. 

This gives an appropriate sense ; for the first line cf. io n , for sec 
ond line 8 li; . The changes required in the Heb. text by this 
emendation are, however, somewhat violent. Kwald and others 
arrange v. 20 - 30 in the order : v. 20 * ;;(la 2 JI) - " M> , but nothing is thereby 

31. Certainty of retribution for sin. 

]>ehold, the righteous will be punished on earth 
How much more the wicked and the sinner! 

Progressive parallelism (advance from the less to the greater, 
or from the presence to the absence of a modifying condition), 
ternary. Instead of behold we may render // (so the Grk.) the 
sense of the clause is not thereby changed. The verb punish is 
lit. repa\\ give what is due (for one s actions), the sense of puni 
tive retribution obviously belonging to both clauses. The basis 
of the thought is the justice of the divine government : even the 
righteous will be punished for evildoing, then of course the wicked. 
The expression : "all the more will the wicked be punished" may 
appear to involve the idea that the divine justice, if relaxed at all, 
will be relaxed in favor of the righteous, and that, if it be main 
tained in spite of their claims, it will more certainly be maintained 
in the case of the wicked, who have no claims; the meaning of 
the couplet may perhaps, however, be understood to be: 
who sins even a little will be punished, and he who sins much will 
receive greater punishment." It appears to be directed against 


those who fancied that sin might somehow escape God s notice ; 
cf. Eccl. 8 n , and, contra, Eccl. 3 Q 2 . By some expositors the 
verb is understood in first cl. as = rewarded, in second cl. as 
= punished, but this gives the unsatisfactory sense that God will 
more certainly punish the wicked than reward the righteous. Or, 
the verse is thus paraphrased (Str.) : the righteous are in general 
rewarded, though with real or apparent exceptions, but the wicked 
are most certainly punished an interpretation which reads into 
the text what it does not contain. The retribution is represented 
as coming from God (though it may come through man). 
Wicked and sinner are synonymous ; the terms appear to be sep 
arate grammatical subjects (not forming an hendiadys). The 
righteous are not perfect men, but men generally obedient to God, 
though capable of falling into sin. On earth does not express a 
contrast with a future life, but merely states that the world is the 
scene of life and retribution ; we might render in the land, as in 
2 21 - 23 . The reading of Grk. (quoted in i Pet. 4 18 ) // the righteous 
is scarcely saved, where shall the ungodly and sinner appear ? may 
be free translation of our Heb., the retribution inflicted on the 
righteous being taken as the means necessary to secure their final 
salvation, which is thus indicated as difficult ; but Grk. probably 
had a different Heb. text from ours. 

27. For $? C p:r Gratz doubtfully proposes po> finds, which occurs in 3 18 
8 35 I2 2 l8 2 2 ; this is not graphically hard, and gives the desired sense. On 
-\rar and c>p3 see notes on i- 8 2 4 ; cm is frequently used of inquiry at an 
oracle (Gen. 252- Ez. I4 10 ), but means also simply seek (Dt. 22 2 ). 28. $ S^; 
Ewald Sa\ $? nSva; (5 &vri\appav6fjievos, ntyc, as Partcp. (Jag.) or Syb 
(Ew.); Bi. reads n^ys as Subst, Jidhe ; Ew. nk;r, as = immer holier; Gr. 
oSnxD, as aloe trees. None of these readings offer decided advantages over 
fjj. 29. 3$ 13; ; <5, periphrastically, 6 /J.TJ (rvvirepi<p{p6/j.e[j.os, he ivho does not 
act humanely. In n jg> has a doublet, in one form following $?, in the other 
(5, in both cases with variations an indication of the variety of sources from 
which our present & text has been constructed; here it is probable that the 
|i] form is the later. 30. K Kapirov diKa.iocrvi Tjs (pverai dtvdpov fw^s, an inap 
propriate figure the fruit should rather come from the tree; in Jt? the fruit 
( = outcome) is the tree, a mixed but not impossible metaphor. |$ p-)S; point 
pnx, after . For $ na Gratz reads ">e, as in IO 11 , which is, perhaps, better. 
For $ nr^ appears to have read n^ or npSj, which it renders freely by 
cKpaipovvrai. Aupoi, are untimely taken away, and its Hwpoi probably represents 
Dsn, for $J D3n (see 10 I3 2 ); cf. Frank. S> follows , with one variation. 

XI. 3I-XIT. I 241 

For |1) crn PS flj Gr. proposes D~ ~ T2:, as in S :!; ; he should then read ". -< 
for np"? (cf. IO 11 ). This offers a natural contrast, but the change of - to > is 
not easy. Read Otn for 11) 3;n (Frank.". 31. In place of 11) v">o (5 has 
/j.6\LS (a ATT. \ey.}, the origin of which is doubtful. (5 may render 11) ;^^" 
paraphrastically by /j.6\is ffu feTou, or /xoXis may represent a separate I lei), 
word, as 2; Tr (dr.), or """to (l>i.), or i "N2 (Jag.); awfercu may then = ;^;" 
taken in good sense, or it may = ;u >", or (Heid.) C^" (it is nowhere else the 
rendering of C S J"). < follows (5. having iDi"" 1 for ^rfXis. appears to have 
been influenced by j?; it retains 11) V^ -i 1 ut (here alone) renders 3" 1 -" by 
iDntT, a term which elsewhere means control one s self (,">>), or aw, ///A; 
possession of ( s ~;), but here, from the connection, must = strengthen ones 
self, grcrw strong (and in it has : Intt tlie ~si(kcd and the sinners ranisfi from 
the earth*). 11) and <Q give two different texts, with different ideas; we cannot 
combine them, writing :~ U i ] %LI SO (lli.) or iijr^a (Cir.), for then gives no 
appropriate sense (we get a good sense, however, by writing ::*":). Hither 
text is possible: that of It) perhaps accords better with the general tone of 
Proverbs. In (5 has TTOV, = n^\v, for 11) ; f]S; JT assimilates the form of the 
clause to that of a . 1L follows 11). Saadia : TC cwA/ to God the righteous might 
be at peace in this ivorld, then how the wicked and l/ie sinner ! (_1. notes ol 
llitzig, lleidenheim, Lagarde. 

XII. 1. It is wise to desire instruction. Antithetic, ternary. 
The couplet admits of several translations. It may be rendered : 

He who loves knowledge loves instruction, 
l!ut the stupid man hates admonition. 

Here the man is defined by his attitude toward wisdom. he 
loves it or he is insensible to it, and he will accordingly seek or 
reject instruction. Or, reversing subject and predicate, we may 

render : 

He who loves instruction loves knowledge, 

And he who hates admonition is stupid. 

In this form the defining point is the man s attitude toward in 
struction, and the predicate states the result : in one case he gains 
(and so shows that he loves) knowledge; in the other case he vir 
tually declines knowledge, and so proves himself stolid and irra 
tional. The general sense is the same in these two translations, 
and either may be adopted ; but a more natural form is perhaps 
gained by varying the order of subject and predicate in the two 
clauses, and reading : 

He who loves knowledge lnves instruction, 
I!ut he who hates admonition is stupid. 



The terms instruction and admonition are practically synonymous ; 
the reference is to moral and religious teaching ; see notes on 
i - 23 . Stupid (lit. like a brute animal, incapable of recognizing 
what is reasonable) is here likewise an ethical term. The proverb 
may allude to all sorts of teaching (by parents, friends, priests, 
lawyers), but probably contemplates especially the schools or writ 
ings of sages, in which were given rules for the conduct of life. 

2, 3. Contrast in fortunes of virtuous and vicious. 

2. A good man will find favor with Yahweh, 
A wicked man he will condemn. 

3. No man stands by wickedness, 

But the root of the righteous remains unmoved. 

2. Antithetic, quaternary. Good is here used in the most gen 
eral ethical sense. On wicked (nsttt, wickedness, wicked devices) 
see note on i 4 . The word means reflection, plan, and is capable 
of being understood in a good or in a bad sense; in Pr. 1-9 it 
occurs in the good sense only, in chs. 10-24 (it is not found in 
25-31) in the bad sense only, a difference of use which accords 
with the view of difference of authorship for these two sections. 
In the general sense of thought, purpose it occurs in Jer. 23-" 3o - 4 
5 1 11 \b io 4 Job 42 - . Condemn is a forensic term, = pronounce 
guilty : in first cl. we might have the corresponding verb pro 
nounce right, instead of which stands the equivalent expression 
find favor ; see notes on i 3 2~. The idea of the verse is divine 
retribution in this life. 3. Antithetic, ternary. The thought, 
familiar in Pr., that permanence comes only through goodness. 
The result is no doubt conceived as effected by God, who, how 
ever, may employ human instrumentalities. Stand (or, be estab 
lished} = stand firmly fixed in a position of earthly prosperity. 
The figure is varied in the two clauses. 

4. Wives, good and bad. 

A good wife is a crown to her husband, 

One \vho acts badly is as rottenness in his bones. 

Antithetic, ternary. For other references to wives see u lfi iQ 14 

2I 9 .W = 2 -4 ffl 1 10-31 B g UI 2 10-20 ^ ^23-24 ^ 

XII. 1-4 243 

f" 9 : : the treatment of family life belongs naturally to the gnomic 
literature both by the character and by the date of the latter. 
The wife of first cl. is described in the Heb. as a woman Q{ power, 
capacity (b r,), a term which, when used of men, expresses the 
vigor or prowess of the warrior (Ju. 3-- , etc.), or intellectual 
strength ( Kx. 14- ), or physical wealth (Ru. 2 Pr. 13--, etc.). Of 
women it is used only four times in OT., once of Ruth (Ru. 3"), 
and, in Prov., here and 3i 1(| -- J ; in ch. 31 it describes a woman of 
good, vigorous character, especially of business capacity, and in 
Ruth it might be rendered irreproachable the stress may be 
laid on general capacity or on moral worth ; here, probably, both 
shades of meaning are included. The words rirtiions and capable 
are too narrow the best English representative of the Heb. 
term is good, understood as including probity and housewifely 
capacity. Such a woman, it is said, is her husband s crown, his 
glory and joy, bringing him happiness at home and honor abroad 
by the excellence of her household arrangements, and the respect 
which her character commands. The crown signifies royal honor ; 
see 4" Lam. 5" " Job 19" Cant. 3". In contrast with her is the wife 
who acts badly (cf. io : ) ; bad is here to be taken as the opposite 
of the good above ; such a woman destroys her husband s happi 
ness and power as rottenness (caries} destroys the bones. The 
bones represent the substantial framework of the body (see i4 ;1 "). 
-Here and in ch. 31 the wife appears as manager of the eco 
nomic affairs of the household, like the lady of medieval Kurope. 
Though she is not spoken of as the intellectual companion of her 
husband or as the educator of her children, it need not be 
doubted that she acted in both these capacities. Her /caching is 
expressly mentioned in 6 - " (cf. 31-"), and in the later history ( [o- 
sephus, the Talmud) we meet with not a few Jewish women who, 
if not technically "educated," were capable of the best intellect 
ual sympathy with their fathers and husbands. 

5. 6. Contrast between virtuous and vicious in designs and 


5. Antithetic, ternary. Phi ns and designs are synonyms they 
are not contrasted as simple and not-simple (De.), and are not 
ethically distinctive ; the first, here used of the righteous, is used 
of the wicked in 15* , and the second is employed in a good sense 
in i 5 ii 14 ; they mean designs in general, and must be defined by 
distinctive predicates. Just is lit. justice. The statement of the 
verse that good men deal fairly, bad men unfairly is not an 
identical proposition, but is equivalent to by their fruits ye shall 
know them. *. Antithetic, ternary. The first cl. is lit.: the 
words . . . are a lying in wait, etc., which may be interpreted, in 
accordance with i" : relate to lying in wait* ; but it is better to 
retain the lively figure of the text: the words (= plans) of bad 
men are assassins who treacherously lurk for their victims. Speech 
is lit. mouth. In second cl. the Heb. has saves than, in which 
the them (which has no antecedent in first cl.) must refer to the 
upright. Such a reference, however, is not favored by the paral 
lelism : the wicked, in first cl., attack others, and the upright, in 
second cl., should save others ; good men, moreover, are, in Pr., 
saved not by their words, but by their righteousness (io 2 n 4 ") or 
by God (i6"- 7 i8 10 a/., cf. note on i 4 3 )- To avoid the suspended 
them Bickell changes the blood of first cl. (Heb. dam) to men or 
mankind (Heb. adani) ; but so general a statement ("the wicked 
lie in wait for human beings, or for a man ") is not probable ; 
wicked rather attack the innocent ( i 11 ) . It is simpler to omit the 
them, whereby we gain for the couplet the sense : " the words 
(= plans) of the wicked are hurtful, those of the upright helpful." 
The reference in first cl. is to slanderous talk, accusations to 
great men, false testimony in courts of justice, and the like ; 
second cl. refers to the healing power of just and kindly speech. 

7. Permanence and impermanence. 

The wicked are overthrown and vanish, 
But the house of the righteous stands. 

* \Vildeboer su-geMs that the author of i i-i Lad our verse in mind, and ex 
panded its thought. This is possible, and would agree with the supposition tli 
chs 1-9 are later than chs. 10-22; but the idea may well have been a co.nmov 
place of the schools, and .nay have been expressed independently by d 


XII. 5-9 245 

Antithetic, ternary. The same thought is given in io"\ Vanish is lit. 
are not, cease to exist ; the sense of first cl. is : the wicked shall 
l>e completely and finally destro\ed, without hope of restoration, that 
is, by judgment of Clod, with or without human instrumentality. 
The tyt rse repeats the belief that virtue and vice are fully recom 
pensed in this life. The first cl. may be rendered : overthrow the 
wicked and they vanish (so the Latin, vcrte). It is taken by some 
(Saad. Ew. Reuss) to mean : " once overthrown, they vanish," 
that is, they have no power to recover themselves. Others (as 
Zock.) interpret: "turn about and are not," that is, " vanish in 
the twinkling of an eye." These renderings are possible, and may 
be regarded as included in the Heb. words ; but a simpler and 
more natural antithesis is gained by the translation here adopted, 

8. Intelligence commands respect. 

A man is commended according to his intelligence, 
A wrongheaded man is despised. 

Antithetic, ternary (or, binary-ternary). Intelligence is capacity 
of sound thought and judgment ; so in 3* (on which see note) 
i3 1: 1 6" i9 n 23" Job iy 4 i Sam. 2^, and cf. the corresponding 
adj. (Partcp.) in io : 1<J i4 r> , etc. The opposite quality is distor 
tion, wrongness of intellect (lit. of heart ), incapacity to think 
soundly. The contrast intended is not of learning and ignorance, 
or of philosophical depth and shallowness, but of ability and in 
ability to think justly in common matters of life. The proverb is 
a tribute to intellectual clearness, without special reference to, but 
doubtless with inclusion of, the moral and religious sides of life. 
The English term perverse (RV.) has an element of wilfulness 
which is not contained in the Hebrew ; the sense of the latter is 
better expressed by our wrongheaded, taken as = " incapable of 
just, discriminating thought, lacking in judgment," Lat. excors. 

9. Comfort better than show. The present Heb. text must be 
rendered : 

Uctter off is he who is socially low, yet has a servant, 
Than he who plays the great man, and yet lacks bread. 

Antithetic comparison, ternary (or, ternary-binary). Better off is 
lit. better. That the term low (or, lowly, RV. lightly esteemed) 


refers to social position appears from the connection, and from 
i Sam. i8 2! Isa. 3 " (RV. l>ase). The proverb does not commend 
the social middle class as such (De.), but simply says that a man 
of small social importance, if he be in comfortable circumstances 
(this is implied in his having a slave), is really better off than one 
who tries to keep up a certain state, while he lacks the necessaries 
of life. Plays the great man is lit. acts as if he were (or, pretends 
to be} honorable (or, rich) ; cf. i3 7 . We expect the man of the 
second cl. to be described (in contrast with the low of first cl.) as 
being really of high rank, not as merely assuming it. But the 
sage seems to have in mind a man of petty pride of rank, who 
finds his pleasure in keeping up a vain show. The proverb may 
be a popular saying : comfort before show ; the case of a well 
born man struggling honestly and openly with poverty is not here 
considered. Some Anc. Vrss. and some modern expositors 
(Schultens, Hitz. Ew.) render the second half of the first cl. : 
ami is a servant to himself (works for himself, is sufficient unto 
himself), a sense which may be obtained by a slight change in 
the Hebrew. It gets rid of the statement (which to some seems 
incongruous) that the socially unhonored man has a servant ; but 
the possession of a servant, by no means improbable for a man in 
moderate circumstances,* may well be put as an indication of 
comfort, while, on the other hand, the expression acts as servant 
to himself (is his own servant, works for himself) does not offer a 
distinct antithesis to the lacks bread of the second clause. Frank- 
enberg, rendering : it is better when one is despised for working 
his field than when one plays, etc., finds in the proverb proof that 
manual labor, especially agriculture, was looked on as degrading. 
But the opposite of this is true if we may judge from the respect 

* At Athens the price of slaves varied considerably, but it was possible in Xen- 
ophon s time (Mem. ii, 5, 2) to buy a slave for half a mina (in weight about ten 
dollars, in purchasing power from five to ten times as much). The possession of 
only one slave was regarded as a sign of great poverty (Plut. Apophth. i, p. 696, 
Phoc. 19). In early Israel (Ex. 2i 32 ) the value of a slave was 30 shekels of silver. 
= about 18 dollars. Aecording to 2 Mac. 8 11 Nicanor (in the second century H.c.) 
promised to sell 90 Jews for a talent, that is, at the rate of about 14 dollars a head. 
A poor man might thus easily buy a slave. It would happen, also, that a man 
would inherit a slave, and, though reduced in circumstances, would then manage 
to keep him. 

XII. H.-IO 247 

with which work is spoken of in IV. (G^ 11 io r?/.) and in later 
books, as Pirkc Al oth i, 10 ; 4. i. I .en-Sira, as sage (US. 38- " ), 
looks down on the ploughman and the handicraftsman who have 
no time tor the contemplation of true wisdom, but he never 
speaks of work as socially despicable. Some critics (as Kamp.) 
regard the expression us corrupt, and leave it untranslated. A 
similar proverb, perhaps a modification of this, is found in US. 

IO* 27 . 

XII. 2. 11) is supported in general by UK- Yrss. (p 7rapa<nw7r7j0?j<reTat, is 
prob. not from U-TI (Jag.), nor (Fag.) confluence of Trapa Oui ( = nn<r) and 
rjTTi]9r)creTai (= "- ^ Isa. 54 "), but free rendering of 11) ;"f \ 3. <5 dv6/j.ov, 
perh. scribal error for avon ias, perh. (Lag.) =;:-. 4. It) rr riv::; et- 
t^\V, = 1 "^ (lag.), and following a.Trb\\vai.v, Jag. thinks, represents the rest 
of the 11) word, \-.r. S = (5 ; = <5, with transpositions. 11) .-1^:3 -; 11 ,/ni 
confusion? res dignas ^crit. For 11) r^j; Midr. Tanch. gives nscr, citation 
from memory. 6. See note on this v. above. The suff. in 11) 3 s i is given 
in all the Yrss., but is belter omitted, if 11) :l be retained, so as to avoid the 
ambiguity of , and gain the general form of statement which is found in ". 
_ For 11) 31 ISi. reads :^N, which is too general a term in the connection; 
(lr. stcr (see his emendation in i 11 ), but this is not favored by the :^u - . 
This objection lies against the reading ~~:~^ O->N< C"^" , and 11) - 2- 1 is besides 
supported by the -s of ". 7. |1) ib i is better taken as Inf. Abs., = finite vb. 
(Fw., 32S/ ), as in S3T; 11 verte ; (5 ov fav arpa^rj. dr., referring to 14", 
adds "v-.x, but this is unnecessary, and mars the rhythm. 8. 11) ^ru 1 is the 
specilic Hokma term for intellectual sobriety. 11) " r ;: occurs only here in 
Prov. (and elsewhere only I Sam. 2O :! ) ; the common terms are ^c: and ^7;. 
(5 ffTo/j.a. ai verov fyKiij^id^eraL virb dfSpos, -~ U s ^^j 1 Ll r^ c s ; ^ s " 1 in 
3 cocld. of De Rossi. 11) r^ K ; (P /j.vKT-rjpi^Tai. S3T --- 11). For 11) LI ?.-P 
11 has nosicttir, and for 2" -i;; r<jina. ct cxcors. 9. Ilithp. of -2; only here 
and Nah. 3 1:> ; in Nah. = s//o^ thyself (really ) ,; ;,(//, or perh. make a show of 
Sreutness, here net the part of greatness. IT = |t). 6 (followed by $) i! oov- 
\evwi> eavru, 1L sufficient si/ i, pointing -13;, and perhaps { though not neces 
sarily) reading i; DJ s instead of r. I .i. 13;, and ( ir. ^:= (for ploughing , but 
11) ""2" gives a satisfactory sense. 

10. Kindness to animals. 

Antithetic, quaternary-ternary. Righfetn/s is sing, in the Heb., 
wickeii phi. rhetorical variation. The first cl. reads lit.: . . 
knows the suit! of /us l>c^t. Knows here gircs attention to, 


comes into sympathetic relations with (cf. Dt. 33 * Job tf 1 35 15 ). 
Soul is the principle of life, common, according to OT. usage, to 
man and beast; it here signifies not the mere vitality (it is not 
that the good man refrains from killing his beast), but the sum- 
total of life as experience (cf. Ru. 4 " Job 10 ) ; the righteous 
man provides all things necessary for the animal s healthy and 
happy existence. The connection (cl. 2) indicates that the 
clause is of the nature of a meiosis : the good man is careful even 
of the lower animals, much more, then, of human beings. The 
second cl. is universal in form : the bad man is cruel to all 
(beasts and men). The term rendered heart above usually 
means compassion (RV. tender mercies), and is here so under 
stood by many Anc. Vrss. and commentators * ; the oxymoron 
cruel compassion is possible, but occurs nowhere else in OT., and 
seems somewhat forced. In several passages (Am. i 11 i K. 3 26 , 
and perhaps Isa. 6$ r> ) the Heb. word in question appears to 
mean bowels, as seat of emotion, for which the Eng. equivalent is 
heart, and this sense may be adopted here (with De. Reuss, Str. 
Kamp. Frank.) as the more probable. Kindness to domestic 
animals is enjoined in the Tora (Ex. 2O 10 23 - Dt. 25*), and the 
divine care of beasts is spoken of in Jonah (4") and in various 
Psalms ( 3 6 fi(7) io 4 14 * , cf. 148 ) ; so also BS. 7. 

11. Steady industry. 

He who tills his land will have plenty of bread, 

But he who follows useless pursuits is lacking in sense. 

Implicit antithesis, ternary. Cf. 28 19 , BS. 2O- 8 . In second cl. 
the direct antithesis would be expressed by will lack bread (so 
nearly in 28), but the Masoretic form of the proverb, perhaps 
for the sake of variety, states not the result, but the quality of 
mind ; such variations of apophthegms were doubtless common 
with the sages. Possibly, however, the second line should read : 

lie who follows useless pursuits will lack bread. 

The verse does not give special praise to agriculture, but takes it 
as a common pursuit, and as an example of legitimate and profita- 

* Aq. Targ. Saad. Schult. Ew. Zock. al. 


ble industry ; the sense is he who seriously pursues a settled occu 
pation will live comfortably. The antithesis favors the sense pur 
suits in second rl. rather than persons (the Heb. gives simply the 
adj. rain, unprofitable} ; the reference seems to be not to idleness 
or slothfulness (Lat. otiiim}, but to purposeless, unsteady occupa 
tions, perhaps also to immoral commercial and political practices. 
Agriculture was followed by the Palestinian Jews down to the de 
struction of Jerusalem by the Romans ; see Joseph. Ant. 20, 9. 2 ; 
War, 7, 8. 3. (irk. (followed by Lat.) here adds the couplet : 

He who indulges in banquets of wine 

Will leave dishonor (as a legacy) to his strongholds, 

or, as Bickell emends, 

Will come to poverty and dishonor. 

The idea is appropriate, but the couplet is more probably an 
editorial addition, or an extract from some current collection of 
proverbs, than part of the original Heb. text. 

12. Text and translation are doubtful. The Heb. reads : The 
wicked desires the net of evil men, but the root of the righteous pro 
duces (lit. gives}. If we understand the net of first cl. to be that 
which bad men spread for others, the result is an identical propo 
sition : the wicked desire the net of the wicked ; if the net be that 
in which bad men are caught, the resulting expression, the wicked 
desire (that is, in effect by their evil conduct seek and gain) the 
net which entraps the wicked is hard and unnatural. Others * 
render : the prey of evil men, taking the meaning to be that the 
wicked seeks (but in vain) to enrich himself by unrighteous gain ; 
but, even if we accept the translation prey, spoil (which is without 
authority), the statement that the wicked desires the spoil of the 
wicked is in form unnatural. The second cl. also offers a diffi 
culty : the verb there employed is used of a tree which produces 
fruit, but never of the root of a tree ( RV.), and it cannot be ren 
dered shoots forth, that is, sends forth slender stocks. Moreover, 
in all these interpretations a real antithesis is lacking. (Irk. has : 
the desires of the wicked are evil, but the roots of the righteous are 
firm, which gives a clear sense, accords in second cl. with v. :; , and 

* Fleisch. Do. N oyes, Zock. Str. 


may be got from the present Heb. text without great changes, but 
it gives no good contrast in the two clauses. Targ., in second cl., 
shall be established. Syr. : the wicked desires to do evil (a change 
of one word in the Heb.). Lat. : the desire of the wicked is a de 
fence of the worst {things or persons ), but the root of the righteous 
will grow. Various emendations have been proposed. Hitz. : 
the refuge of the wicked is clay, but the root of the righteous en 
dures (or, is enduring] ; this form of second cl. is adopted by 
Ew. Zock. Kamp. at. Gratz adopts the Lat. defence. Bi. trans 
forms the couplet, reading : the pillars of the wicked totter, but the 
root of the righteous is a fortress. Kamp. omits the second half 
of first cl. (the net of evil men} as untranslatable. Reuss : the 
wicked hunts for misfortune, which he offers as a guess ; Frank. : 
wickedness is the net of bad men (cf. v. 13a ), that is, they are caught 
by their own conduct. Hitzig s reading of second cl. (obtained 
by a slight change in the Heb.) seems probable (cf. v. 3 ) ; in first 
cl. we should expect (as in v.* 1 ) some figure of unsteadfastness 
(such as Bi. tries to supply) ; Frankenberg s emendation is the 
least open to objections, but it does not supply a satisfactory con 
trast to the second line. The two lines appear to belong to 
different couplets. 

13, 14. The effects of speech. 

13. By the sin of his lips the wicked is ensnared, 
But the righteous escapes from trouble. 

14. From the fruit of his lips comes [] requital to a man, 
And what his hands do will return to him. 

13. Antithetic, ternary. Cf. io u n 9 i8 7 29. Sin (or trans 
gression*) of the lips is any wicked, especially malicious, form of 
speech, which brings a man into danger by making enemies or 
exposing him to legal penalties ; the reference is solely to the evil 
consequences of a man s own talk. The Heb. of first cl. reads : 
/// the sin of the lips is a snare to the wicked. The form given by 
Grk. (requiring the change of one letter of the Heb.) is better : 
the sinner falls into snares. In second cl. the reference is to the 
guarded and kindly speech of the righteous. Grk. adds : 

He whose looks are gentle will he pitied, 

But he who encounters (men) in the gates will afllict souls. 

XII. 12-15 2 5 J 

The reference in second ci. seems to be to litigiousness. I)e. 
suggests the emendation : will afflict himself. The origin of the 
couplet is doubtful. 14. Synonymous, ternary. I f. 13- 14" 18-". 
In first cl. the Hob. has : from the fruit of a man s lips he is sated 
(or recompensed} with good ; but this does not give the general 
statement which we expect as parallel to second cl., and which is 
given in 18-"; the omission of the word good (which may easily 
have been inserted by a scribe) secures the symmetry of the 
couplet. We have then the declaration that every man must take 
the consequences of his words and deeds (cf. i4 14 ). The Heb. 
has in the two clauses two synonymous words for man (ish and 
ada/n}. The marginal Heb. reading of second line is : and what 
a man s hands do he will requite him for, in which the he is re 
garded by some as indefinite subject (one will requite}, by others 
as referring to God ; but neither of these interpretations is sup 
ported by the usage of the Book. For the form of the text, return. 
see Obad. 15. In second cl. Grk. (probably incorrectly) gets a 
completer parallelism by rendering : and the recompense of his lips 
shall be given him ; the variant hands is better than lips. Syr., 
with slight difference of order from Heb. : a good man shall be 
satisfied, etc. If the reading of the Heb. be retained, we have 
a progressive parallelism : in first cl. wise, kindly, righteous speech 
brings reward ; in second cl. all actions bring requital. In these 
two couplets the immediate reference appears to be to social law, 
not to the fact that God takes cognizance of words and deeds. 

15, 16. Two marks of a fool. 

15. The way of a fool seems to him right, 
But a wise man listens to advice. 

16. A fool s anger is displayed on the spot, 
l!ut a sensible man ignores an affront. 

15. Implicit antithesis, ternary. It is assumed that the fool 
is stupidly self-confident and does not see the need of seeking 
advice. The reference appears to be solely to intellectual judg 
ments, not to religious opinions, though these also will be included 
in the broader scope of the proverb. There is obviously here no 
condemnation of rational confidence in well-considered opinions. 


16. Antithetic, quaternary-ternary (or, perhaps, ternary). Lit. : 
a fool, on the very day (on which he receives an insult, a disgrace), 
his anger makes itself known (or, displays his anger), but a sensi 
ble man covers up insult. The proverb condemns thoughtless, 
passionate resentment, and enjoins calmness and deliberateness in 
the face of insult. It does not condemn self-defence, or resent 
ment directed against wrongdoing, nor approve weakness, or cow 
ardice, or reticence under all circumstances ; it does not relate 
to forgiveness of injuries, or to the non-resistance described in 
Mt. 5 :w " 42 ; it simply enjoins calmness. The motive indicated is 
not love or consideration for the author of the affront, but regard 
for one s own interests, or for the general well-being. Quick 
resentment is treated first of all as a foolish thing ; doubtless it 
was also considered morally wrong. On the term affront see note 
on 3 ;B . Cf. the sentiment of ii~. 

10. ft? 2m; (5 cnr\dyx va > so <S (the -wicked, their bowels are closed); 
IL viscera. On -\ as = bowels see Ges. Thes. t and cf. cm womb and (in Arab.) 
relationship ; whether the sense mercy, love is derived from a stem = soft (cf. 
Arab, cm), or is connected with the viscera considered as the seat of affection, 
is uncertain. 11. |tj aS ion; Gr. cnS vt; Frank.: cnS IDIT. For the addi 
tional couplet in (5 see note on this v. above, and notes of Lag. De. Bauing. 
Bi. 12. | icn; ( tirtOvfjilai, = rrcn; SC = $; IL desiiteriuw, = -\r.r\; 
Hitz. -isn; Bi. -no;. . Frank, makes anS (end of v. n ) out of $ "en aS (v. u -i-), 
regards the 1 of ncn as miswriting of i (in following >sn), and attaching the 
3 (of aS) to i, reads: Dp Tin ysna, an intelligible sentence. |^ a jn "isc; 
<@ omits ?, for which S> has "vysh, = Heb. ns-ycS; IL munimentum pessimo- 
runi ; Gr. D S i ii C; Bi. (omitting - c) 0^ ^. The simplest reading of a is that 
of (, but it is not connected in its thought with b ; the readings of Bi. and 
Gr. are not natural; the true text can hardly be recovered. In b we may 
read ]ron for |ij J.T, C pr-j, <Q tv dxvpunaa-iv (so Ew. Gr. Kainp.) ; Bi. isc. 
Lag. suggests that pi may be corruption of the p ((5 olvuv") of L . For other 
emendations see Nowack. 13. |ij C p ~; (S ffJ-Triirrei eis Tra7/5as; read trpj 
or S pc. |^ NS i, i + Impf., rhetorical sequence. On the additional couplet 
in (5 sec Lag. and Bickell; Bi. s i> U a NIJII (= <S 6 5e O-I/TOPTWC <V Tri^Xats) is 
suspicious (^r_y in (he gate is not the natural antithesis to have a gentle look), 
and the couplet, while it looks like a bad translation from Hebrew, is of 
doubtful origin. 14. On the omission of 33 see note on this v. above. 
|t| J N; (5 ^vxy at>5p6s, in which \f/. is probably interpretation of the Grk. 
translator (deleted by Lag.); a c-aj in the Heb. would mar the rhythm. 
|tj IT; (S B , not so well, x ei ^wv (23. 157 x el P&i>, and so S> n ). 16. Jl| "~<^; 
the Vrss. understand the form as Hitil. Jt? era; Gr. isva. 

XII. i6-i9 253 

17-19. Good and bad speech. 

17. He who speaks mil the truth affirms justice, 

Hut a false witness (affirms) injustice. 
iS. Some men s chatter is like sword-thrusts, 

I .ut the tongue of the wise is healing. 
19. The lip of truth endures for ever, 

]>ut the lying tongue is hut for a moment. 

17. Antithetic, ternary. The reference is to the depositions of 
witnesses before a legal tribunal. The verb rendered speaks out 
appears to have a technical legal sense ; it is used of giving legal 
testimony in 6 11 i-V -" iQ 5 1 ; the first line, therefore, may be trans 
lated : a true witness affirms, etc. The rendering injustice (the 
word is usually translated deceit, as in n 1 ) is supported by Job 15"" 
^ 4V 55 J " ( ""> aml is here r ^ ( l lu re( l by the antithesis if justice be 
written in the first line ; btit the antithesis may also be truth . . . 
falsehood. Testimony in a court of law, says the proverb, is 
public affirmation of justice and order, or of their contraries ; a 
false witness sins against the fundamental principle of social life. 
The prominence given in the Book to the crime of perjury indi 
cates that it was not uncommon. On the term justice see notes on 
,! 2 - ". 18. Antithetic, ternary. Lit.: there, is one who chatters 
like the thrusts of a sword, but, etc. The person of first cl. is 
implietlly/Wfr//. The verb of first cl. is used in Lev. 5 of the 
unwary utterance in which a man unconsciously binds himself by 
an oath (and so the corresponding noun in Nu. 30 "" ! ") ; in 
i// io6 :v; it describes a hasty, unadvised speech of which Moses 
was once guilty (Nu. 2o" M! ) : here it means the thoughtless talk 
which, taking no heed of what is due to men, wounds them by 
unkindness or imprudence. In contrast with this is the sympa 
thetic and wise speech which heals suffering and saves from dis 
aster. The proverb breathes a fine air of elevated benevolent 
feeling, the reference being not especially to testimony in court, 
but to general relations of life. 19. Antithetic, ternary. l *or a 
moment is lit. for an eye-wink. The affirmation appears to be 
general: truth, supported by fr ( ls > ;lll(1 having the approval of 
men and C.od, is permanent: falsehood, unsupported and unap- 
proved, speedily passes away. Similar aphorisms are found among 
other peoples ; Delit/sch cites (from Dukes) later Ileb. proverbs, 


which, however, are probably based on this. Grk. (departing 
somewhat from our Heb. text) understands the reference to be to 
courts of law : true lips establish testimony, but a hasty witness has 
an unjust tongue, a reading which resembles v. 17 , but is here less 
probable than the form of the Hebrew. 

20-23. Of falsehood and folly. Antithetic, ternary. 

20. Injustice is the purpose of those who devise evil, 
But they whose plans promote well-being are <just.> 

21. No mischief befalls the righteous, 
But the wicked are full of misfortune. 

22. Lying lips are an abomination to Yahweh, 
But they who deal truly are his delight. 

23. A man of sense keeps back his knowledge, 
But fools proclaim their foolishness. 

20. Lit. : injustice is in the hearts of those who, etc., is their 
purpose, belongs to their nature, and is the product of their acts. 
On injustice (RV. deceit} see note on v. 17 ; lack of fairness and 
truthfulness is injustice. On devise evil see 3 20 6 14 18 i Sam. 23. 
The second cl. in the Heb. reads : but to the counsellors of well- 
being there is joy. The counsellors of well-being are those whose 
designs and plans are such as to promote the welfare of their 
fellow-beings ; for this sense, plan or design, see Isa. i4 24 . But 
the terrn/i?) of second cl. stands in no natural connection with the 
injustice or deceit of first cl. This latter term expresses the purpose 
of wicked men, and we should expect the corresponding term of 
second cl. to express the purpose of good men, their sincerity and 
equity. Such is the contrast given in v. of this chapter, and 
obtainable here by a slight change of the Heb., with the reading : 
to the designers of well-being there is justice. If the joy of the 
Heb. be retained, the couplet must be interpreted to mean : 
wicked men design injustice, but the good men, purposing good 
to others, will be rewarded with joy or happiness. This is a 
possible but not natural and easy antithesis. In 21 " it is said that 
the practice of justice is joy to the just man, but the omission of 
the subject (the practice of justice), as is here assumed, would be 
hard. On well-being (RV. peace}, = "wholeness, completeness 
of being," see note on y. Counsellors of well-being = benevolent, 

XII. 19-24 

righteous men. The interpretation of joy as that which the good 
man procures for others is hardly allowed by the Heb. : see icr s 
i ;;-" 2 i 1 " , where the joy is subjective, and similar constructions in 
lo 11 i L L I; etc. 21. The doctrine of full compensation in this life. 
Mischief a\\<\ misfortune (RV. cril) are synonymous, and here refer 
not to moral depravation, but to outward suffering as the punish 
ment inflicted by God. On mischief as = misfortune see 22* 
job 5 ; 2i 1;i ; on misfortune see notes on 3" 6 14 ls i i J7 i3 17 14 i6 4 
3 1 1 -. Grk. Targ. Syr. give a different idea : 

Xo injustice is pleasing to the righteous, 
But the ungodly are (or, will be) full of evil. 

This conception (representing a somewhat different Heb. text 
from ours) is appropriate, and may be the original form of the 
couplet. 22. The same general thought is found in io :1 " - i2 i;i 
13 " :6 1! 20 -" , and the same predicates in n-. On abomination 
see note on 3" -. 23. Wise reticence and foolish blabbing. Keeps 
(or holds) back (lit. conceals) = "holds in reserve, is not forward 
to display." The second cl. is lit. : the heart (= mind, nature) 
of fools proclaims, etc. The verse is an aphorism of prudence, 
sagacity, the quality to which Proverbs gives such prominence. 
The fool rushes in, displays his folly, is despised and gets into 
trouble ; the man of common sense is cautious, reserved. The allu 
sion is to circumstances which demand caution ; outspokenness 
under certain conditions is approved in such passages as 15-. But 
the Book reflects a society (large cities and arbitrary government) 
in which silence is golden. For keeps back Gra tz proposes to 
read utters, but this gives up the striking antithesis of the Maso- 
retic Hebrew text, which is supported by i 7- " s and other proverbs. 

24. Industry brings success. 

The hand of the diligent will bear rule, 
But the slothful will be tributary. 

Antithetic, ternary (or. binary-ternary). Praise of industry is 
found in TO 12 - " 13 19 " 21 " , and satire on sloth in 6 "" 24 " 
While the idea is common to all times and peoples, this form of 
the apophthegm is suggested by political relations it is learned 
rather than popular : a vigorous nation rules over its neighbors. 


a feeble nation pays tribute ; an industrious man attains wealth, 
high position, influence, power (22- ), a slothful man loses his 
wealth and becomes dependent (n 211 ). Slothful is lit. slothful- 
ness. For tributary ( under tribute ) see Ju. i 1 *" * i K. 4" Lam. i 1 
Isa. 3i 8 . The couplet may be more tersely rendered : 

The diligent bear rule, 
The slothful are underlings. 

25. Power of sympathy. 

Anxiety in a man s mind bows it down, 
But a kind word makes it glad. 

Implicit or progressive antithesis, ternary : a kind word dispels 
anxiety and makes glad. Instead of kind (lit. good} word Grk. 
has good news, but the antithesis rather points to friendly, sympa 
thetic words. 

17. |$ np , Hif. (without subject expressed), for which Lag. (p. vii) pro 
poses no 11 , as in \fs 2J 12 ; De. (here and on 6 19 ) defends $?> but the construc 
tion is hard, and Lag. s reading seems preferable; see notes on 6 19 I4 5 . De. 
remarks that elsewhere in Pr. "> stands with ca?D (he should except 2Q 8 ); but 
this may be accidental. (5 : iiriSeiKvv^vriv Trlffnv tTrayyt\\fi 6i/ccuos; ^7ri5. 
may perhaps (Jag.) represent a form of npn, taken as affirm (in a court of 
justice), though elsewhere in Pr. (exc. ig- H 2 ) ^y/caXwc) - n is rendered by tKKaifiv; 
Lag. s suggestion, ro , is not probable, since this vb. is regularly represented 
by \tyx eiv ( c f-> however, eX. attest and tirid. demonstrate, prove, in a court 
of law). 18. $| nsa (oa), to speak thoughtlessly (understood by (SStC as 
= simply speak} may be mimetic (hardly connected historically with /3aT- 
ro\o7t^) ; 6IL render freely promise (according to Lag. they read reaa). 
<S B fJ-dxaipw, read, with H-P 103 al., /mxafyjp, or insert ws, with 68. 
19. %] i"S jrn; (5 KaropOoi fj-aprvplav. tv> jan (Jag.), the S being taken 
(in Aram, fashion) as introducing the object, or perhaps the S had fallen out; 
in l) also the i> was read improperly as iv. It in a = |i), in = (S; & in a 
free, in b follows <S; C in a = |i), in b follows (S. (S s rendering of b is thus 
strongly supported, but |ij is favored by the antithesis. The form nsvns is 
commonly explained as I pers. sing. Ilif. Impf., but it is a noun, sometimes 
(Jer. 49 19 50**) used adverbially; it appears to be an Inf. of Aram, form (less 
probably = JMIN, from j?n, with N prosthetic). ^20. Ql unn, in the sense of 
mental construction, is a Hokma term (3 29 6 14 - 18 I4 22 ) ; but see also I Sam. 23 9 
Hos. io 13 Job 4 8 . Note assonance in nai^, nnr:;; 1 ; for the latter term Clr. pro 
poses nj!pN; it is better to read ass C. (5 ftov\6^voi; read pov\>oi, with 
jgn inarR. 23 (Lag.). 21. 3$ n ^ > ; (and so S3T) dp^et, = nmj, a not improb 
able reading. 22. $J ^v; Gr. suggests jrS % , as parallel to PD!: 1 , but the varia- 

XII. 24-26 257 

lion of $.) is natural and effective. 23. For 11) ~D :, N-O % > ~^N < has Gpbvos 
(Nrr), crvvavrricrfTai (from m," 1 ), dpcus ( r " N), all misreaclings. { >, paraphras 
ing, sr"i *:XD. S> in u = (5, in apparently = Jl), rendering rS.y by Nrr-2; 
ef. Pinkuss note. IL = 11). 24. The adj. }" , in sense of diligent, only in 
IV. (ef. the vh. in 2 Sam. T ), elsewhere (Isa. 4I 1; ) sharp ; (P CK\eKTwt>, free 
rendering, or (Bailing.) connected with n />;v go/tt ; ef. Job 37 n 10) , where 
fK\. represents ^2, taken by (5 as one word, and connected with 13 chosen, 
brilliant, and IV. I2- 7 where Ka.0a.p6s - "r. 25. (5 rentiers freely: 0o/3epos 
\6yos = nj\-<; rapdcrcret nnu ;% ; diKaiov is added to U .v as interpretation; 
d77e\i a 131 (it is unnecessary to suppose, with dr., that read mra). 
11) is reproduced substantially by JclTIL, and ft by B; but S>(C give the <f>o(3. and 
rap. of (5, which, here as elsewhere, appears to have influenced these Vrss. 

26. A satisfactory translation of this couplet can hardly be 
given. The second cl., the UHIV of tlic wicked misleads tJiein (or, 
leads them to destruction} is intelligible, though in form somewhat 
strange. A man s wav (common metaphor for conduct, manner 
of life} is described in OT. as easy or hard, or as leading to hap 
piness or to misfortune, or it is said that men go astray or are led 
astray (by God or man) in their way, but it is never elsewhere 
said that the way itself causes men to wander; see i 1;u;!1 2 1 - 20 3 " 
4 L>fi 8 -" 13 14 i5 u> al. ; we should perhaps read : the uwv of the 
wicked is error, or the wicked goes astray in his r^ cn 1 . In con 
trast with this we expect in first cl. some such statement as the 
path of the righteous is straight (cf. 15"), or the righteous departs 
from eril (cf. i6 17 ), but the text offers no such thought. The 
Heb., as it stands, must be rendered : the righteous searches out 
(= explores, studies) his friend, which here yields no satisfactorv 
sense. A change in the Heb. preposition gives . . . explores (the 
way) for his friend (or, neighbor}, which is hardly apposite ; and 
the same remark holds of Kwald s translation (adopted, appar 
ently, by RY.) . . . is a guide to . . ., in which, moreover, the 
rendering guide is unwarranted. -The Anc. Vrss. give no material 
help. Grk. : a just arbiter will be liis own friend, perhaps cor 
rupt for the just is his own friend, or the just man knows his 
friend ; Aq. : lie who makes his neighbor rich (lit. to abound} is 
just (we righteous}; Targ. (followed by Saad. Rashi): the righteous 
is better than his neighbor; Syr. : the righteous giz es his friend 
good counsel (= . . . is a guide to . . .} ; I -at. : he wlio ignores 
loss for his friend s sake is just. Most modern expositors (fol- 


lowing Doderlein) prefer to change the vowels of one word and 
render : the righteous searches out his pasture, that is, superior to 
sinful desire, seeks (and finds) moral and religious nourishment * 
a figure taken from pastoral life in which good pasturage stands 
for well-being and happiness (Job i2- 4 ). But the expression, used 
appropriately of the wild ox (Job 39 8 ), is never elsewhere em 
ployed of man (not in Ez. 34" 18 ), and is somewhat strange and 
forced. The verb of the clause is suspicious ; it is used in the 
earlier literature of the selection of a camping-ground (Dt. i 33 
Nu. io ;ij ) or of a country, for example, by Yahweh (Ez. 20"), of 
the investigation of Canaan by the spies (Nu. 13 , and frequently 
in Nu. 13. 14), perhaps of a specifically military reconnoissance 
(Ju. i 23 , but the text is doubtful), later of reflection (Nu. i5 39 ) 
and intellectual investigation (Eccl. i 13 ) ; it does not seem to be 
appropriate here. The simplest emendation or interpretation is 
that of Targ., followed by AV. : the righteous is more excellent 
(marg. abundant} than his neighbor, but this is neither apposite in 
itself, nor related to second cl. We can only surmise, from com 
parison of I4 22 i6 17 2i 1G , that the general sense of the couplet is: 
the righteous departs from evil, but the wicked strays from the 
(right) way. The two lines may be, however, wholly unconnected 
with each other. 

27. The two clauses are unrelated to each other ; there appears 
to be a displacement each clause has lost its parallel. The first 
may read : the slothful man (lit. slothfulncss, the man of sloth- 
fulness} does not hunt (or, rouse, or, roast) his game metaphor 
taken from hunting-life ; the meaning of the verb is doubtful, but 
the general sense appears to be that the slothful man is too lazy to 
provide food for himself, and must consequently suffer ; Kamp. 
regards it as too corrupt for translation. The second cl. should 
express the idea that the diligent man does make provision for 
himself, but this meaning cannot be got from the present text. 
The following are some of the translations which have been pro 
posed. Rashi (obtained, however, by an inversion) : the sub 
stance of an industrious man is valuable (and so AV) ; Qamhi, 
Schult. (followed by De. Reuss, Now. RV. marg. Str. Kamp.) : 

* So Hitz. Ew. De. Bi. Str. Kamp. 

XII. 26-28 259 

a valuable possession (wealth, substance) of a man is diligence 
(or, to be diligent), but the last word is the adj. diligent, and can 
not be rendered diligence ; Berth. K\v. : a precious treasure of 
( = to) a man is one who is diligent, that is, an industrious servant 
an allowable rendering of the Heb., but an inappropriate idea ; 
the intention of the clause is to praise the diligent man for his 
value not to others but to himself. (Irk. (and so Syr.) changes 
the order of the words and reads : a precious possession is a pure 
man, which order is adopted by Umbreit, Bi. and others, substi 
tuting diligent for pure ; Targ. : the substance (wealth) of man is 
precious gold, and Latin : . . . is the price of gold. RV. (and so 
Noyes) inserts a preposition : the precious substance of men is to the 
diligent. If, in addition to this insertion, we transpose two words, 
we have the simple reading : the diligent man possesses (or, gains) 
wealth (lit. there is valuable property to the, etc.), a familiar idea 
in Prov., but not obviously connected with first cl. Cf. io 4 i2 L 4 
i 5 la i 9 u 20* a/. 

28. Antithetic, ternary. The first cl. reads : in the path of 
righteousness is life the doctrine, abundantly dwelt on in Prov., 
that goodness insures a long and happy life ; see notes on 3- 8* 
i4 L>7 . The second cl., in its present form, is untranslatable (the 
wav of its path not death, in which not is the imperative neg., 
and can qualify only a verb). Saad. Schult. De., mistranslating 
the negative : the way of its path is immortality (= not death) ; 
RV. (repeating AV.), adopting this mistranslation, inserting a 
preposition (without italicizing it), and writing way of path as one 
word, renders : /// the pathway thereof there is no death. The 
definition of way by its synonym path is unexampled in Prov., 
and the resulting second cl. is a simple repetition of first cl. The 
form of the negative here employed is used only in voluntative 
sentences, and, if there were a verb, we might render : and let not 
the wa\ of its path be death, an obviously impossible form of state 
ment. The Anc. Vrss. and some Heb. MSS. and printed edd. 
have to instead of the negative (the difference involves merely 
the change of a vowel), and the clause should no doubt read: 
but the wa\ of wickedness leads to death, or some equivalent ex 
pression (so most modern critics) the idea that the bad man 


will be cut off prematurely, or die some unhappy death. Cf. 2 12 - 18 
4 18 - 19 5 5 f 1 ii ly i4 12 i5 9 , and, for the insertion of the verb leads, 
see i4 ffl . 

26. 3$ b is reproduced by (S3OL, but can hardly be correct; "pi cannot 
be subject of Ilif. of nj p. ty PP> gives no good sense whether pointed as 
adj. or as Hif. of IP. The text is hardly recoverable; the Vrss. seem to have 
had |t|. We might read: pns ip (cf. i6 17 ), but there will then be no 
distinct contrast of expression between a and b . See Lag. Baumg. Pinkuss, 
and note on this v. above. 27. The Vrss. in general support |lj, though, in 
some cases, with inversions (see note on this v. above). |J pn; (5 (and so <Sj) 
Ka6ap6s; WL gold. Gr. -\p }-nn. Read in b n oixS; ip 1 * p occurs in i 13 24*. 
The insertion of DIN between the two words is possible, but here hard. 
|^ -pn is taken by Rashi, Qamhi al. to mean roast, = burn, as in Aram. 
(Dan. 3 27 ), and cf. Arab, pin; Schult. and others compare Arab, -pri wore 
(intrans.); Saad. meet, encounter (tps III.); see Ges. T/ies., BDB, De.; the 
word is perhaps corrupt. See De Rossi. 28. In b for f) PN the Vrss. have 
Sx; and for this reading in MSS. and printed edd. see De Rossi, B-D, Gins- 
burg. | nap:; <5 HVT)<TIKO.KUV revengeful; & pros wicked; 1& NJPON, scribal 
error for 3N; 3L devium, possibly for nanjn (Baumg.). Some word, standing 
in contrast with np-is, must probably be substituted for nan;. Levy, Chald. 
Wbch., suggests that < read SVPJ, but this is not probable; Jag. nans; Buxt., 
Anticrit, 717, thinks \i.vt]G. an insertion of the Grk. translator; Lag. prefers, 
with 161 marg., c 8t p.vr)<nKa.KC}v; Bi. ma;: (see 21- ). 

XIII. 1. Our Heb. text reads : 

A wise son his father s instruction, 
But a scoffer listens not to rebuke. 

Antithetic, ternary. In first cl., if our Heb. text be retained, a 
verb, = hears or regards, should, from the parallelism, probably 
be inserted (so Targ. RV.) ; Kamp., instead of his father s, reads 
loves (see I2 1 , where, however, the verb in second cl. is hates) ; 
Rashi inserts seeks and loves ; Saad. accepts ; Schult. : one is (or, 
becomes} a wise son (when) instructed by one s father; Lat. (fol 
lowed by De. Now. Str.) : a wise son is (= is the product of) 
his father s instruction, which is a hard and improbable construc 
tion. The verb, by scribal corruption, has disappeared from the 
Hebrew ; probably we should read : a wise son heeds (or, loves) 
instruction. On first cl. see notes on 2 1 3 4 1 ; on instruction see 
note on i", and cf. i3 18 * ; on scoffer see note on i" ; rebuke occurs 
i3 8 i; 10 Eccl. f, etc. In second rl we might expect foolish son, 

XII. 2S-X1II. 2 26 1 

as 111 15", but scoffer (which occurs in 9" as antithesis to wise} is a 
more vigorous synonym oi fool. The (irk., assimilating the two 
clauses, reads (its destroyed being corrected to rebuked} : 

to which, however, the Hebrew form is to be preferred. The 
proverb lays stress on teachableness ; the scoffer, out of badness 
of heart, refuses instruction. Whether or not father be retained 
in the text, the reference is especially to young men. 

2. The outcome of conduct. The Ileb. is probably to be 
translated : 

From the fruit of his mouth a man enjoys (lit. eats) good,. 
But the desire of the wicked is violence. 

So the couplet is rendered by many expositors * ; others y supply 
in second cl. the verb of first cl. : tlie appetite (lit. soul} . . . feeds 
on violence, but appetite in OT., though it desires or loathes, is 
full or empty, is never said to eat. The violence may be that 
done to others (which is the natural interpretation), or (as first 
cl. suggests) that which rebounds on the bad man ; but in this 
last case the expression ( " the appetite of the wicked for 
wrongdoing really brings violence on their own heads") is round 
about and hard. The first cl. is substantially identical with 12"", 
in which, from the parallelism, we should probably omit the good 
(and so Reuss here) ; but here the antithesis demands its reten 
tion. The form of the Heb. couplet is unsatisfactory: the ex 
pressions "a man s words bring him good" and "the desire of 
bad men is for violence " stand in no natural relation to each 
other, r.rk. : the good man eats of tlie fruits of righteousness, but 
the soitls of the wicked perish untimely ; Syr.: . . . perisJi ; Targ. : 
. . . are snatched away : (irat/ (after <S :; ; ) renders second cl. : (lie 
faithless do /tar/n to tJicmselvcs. We seem to have here a disloca 
tion the two clauses do not belong together. The first cl. 
should perhaps be assimilated to the corrected form of 12", and 
the second cl. might then be retained, with the sense that bad 
men desire to act violently (that is, to gain wealth by unjust 

* Lat. Suad. Ruslii, De. Zock. Str. Kuni[>. f Sdiult. iJeith. liw. KV 


means). An antithesis is gained by adopting the Grk. reading, 
or by rendering : a good man enjoys the (good) fruit of his mouth, 
but (or, and) the wicked harm themselves. On wicked (or, faith 
less) see note on 2~, and on violence note on 3 31 ; cf. also notes 
on io fin i2 14 26. 

3. Speech must be cautious. 

He who guards his mouth preserves his life, 
He who opens wide his lips it is ruin to him. 

Exact antithesis, ternary (or, quaternary-ternary). Warning 
against incautious speech, as in io 10 if 8 . The warning is always 
in place, even in everyday affairs, but is especially appropriate 
under a despotic government or in any ill-regulated society (such 
as abounded under the Persian and Grk. governments), where an 
imprudent word may cost a man his life. The reference is obvi 
ously to the physical life, not to the soul (as the Heb. term may 
sometimes be rendered) as the seat of moral and religious expe 
rience. Cf. BS. 9 18 , and the Syr. Menander, p. 70, 1. 12. 

4. Sloth and industry. 

The slothful desires and has not, 
The diligent is richly supplied. 

Antithetic, ternary. Contrast of results of industry and idleness. 
Lit. the soul of the slothful and the soul of the diligent, in which 
soul is the physical principle of life, = desire, appetite. Richly 
supplied is lit. made fat (n 25 15"" 28" Dt. 31 -" </ 23") ; fatness, 
originally the sign of animal and vegetable health and vigor, is 
used as general symbol of prosperity. The shiftlessness of the 
lazy man is similarly denounced or ridiculed in 6 <M1 i2 2 ip 24 2O 4 
al. The Grk. (omitting the neg.) : the idle desire, but the hands 
of the active (or, strenuous or manly) arc diligent (perhaps error 
for prosperous) ; Lat. (repeating the verb in first cl.) : the slothful 
will and will not, = is too la/y to decide or to act. 

5. Men s relation to truth. 

The righteous hate deception, 

But the wicked act vilely and shamefully. 

Antithetic, ternary. The subjects are sing, in the Hebrew. De 
ception (lit. a false thing) includes all words and deeds opposed 
to truthfulness (cf. Col. 3 - Eph. 4- ). As in first cl., so in second 
cl. the verbs more naturally express an attitude of mind (cf., for 
this rendering, io r i2 4 14"- 17- i9 - ; ) ; deception = rile and shame 
ful action* Other translations (which, however, fail to bring out 
a distinct antithesis) are : brings into evil odor (or, disgrace} and 
shame (Schult. De. Str. RV. inarg.) ; is loathsome and comes to 
shame (RY.) ; is ashamed and without confidence (Grk.) ; is 
ashamed and put to the blush (Targ.) ; acts badly and brings 
shame (Saad.) ; confounds and shall be confounded (Lat.). 

6. Preservative power of probity. 

Righteousness preserves him whose conduct is perfect, 
But wickedness destroys the sinner. 

Antithetic, ternary. Lit. the perfect of walk ; the Heb. seems 
intended to read : innocence of walk, and, in second cl., sin, but 
the concrete terms are preferable in the Heb. text as well as in 
the Kng. translation. In second cl. the Anc. Vrss. have (not so 
well) sin destroys (or, carries off} t/ie wicked. On the OT. con 
ception perfect see note on 2 : , and, on the general statement of 
the earthly consequences of good and evil conduct, notes on i :! -- ;a 
3" io 7 , etc. There seems no reason to hold, with Lag., that 
righteousness here = a/msgiring ; the natural opposite of wicked 
ness is goodness in general. Lag. refers to v. 7 " s (on which see 
notes), and inclines to take sin (= offence against the theocratic 
order) as subject, but for this there seems to be no necessity. 
On the OT. relation between righteousness and almsgiving see 
note on io J . Righteousness may save, and wickedness destroy, 
through the operation of natural causes, or through the directly 
manifested favor or disfavor of (lod, who remembers and reckons 
acts for or against men ((Jen. 15 Kz. 2 i- Ml -""). This verse is lack 
ing in the Vatican MS. of the (Irk., perhaps by scribal oversight. 

7. Social pretence. 

Some, having nothing, pretend to lie rich, 
< Hhers, being wealthy, pretend to he poor. 

* So Kashi, li\v. Kami). 


Antithetic, binary (or, ternary-binary). Apparently a condemna 
tory reference to two contrasted weaknesses, namely, foolish love 
of display, and equally foolish miserliness, conduct which is doubt 
less to be met with at all times. Or, there may be special allu 
sion to a state of things which was common in the disordered 
period of the conflicts between the Greek princes of Syria and 
Egypt, when there were often pressing reasons for making a show 
of wealth or poverty. The moral is that men should be simply 
honest and unpretentious. In second cl. there might possibly be 
an allusion to desire to get rid of the obligation to give alms (see 
note on preceding verse), but such allusion is not obvious. 

8. Wealth as a protection against enemies. The text of 
second cl. appears to have suffered from scribal error. The Heb. 
of the couplet reads : 

A man s wealth is ransom for his life, 
But the poor man does not heed rebuke, 

in which the predicate of second cl. is identical with that of v." 1 , 
and stands in no relation to first clause. It is not the character 
istic of the poor to reject admonition, and the connection calls for 
the statement that the poor man, not having money with which to 
buy off his prosecutor or oppressor, must suffer the legal or illegal 
consequences of his crime or misfortune ; see similar references 
to the social disadvantages of poverty in I4 20 ig 4 - 7 30". Examples 
of a state of things in which money alone saves life abound in Jew 
ish and other histories (and cf. the reference to murderous rapac 
ity in Ez. 22- 7 ). The predicate of second cl. may be erroneous 
scribal repetition from v. 1 , and should perhaps read something 
like has no friends, or is a prey to his enemies. Or, the second cl. 
may be repetition of v. lb , with erroneous substitution of poor man 
for scoffer ; in that case it has nothing to do with first clause. 
Various attempts have been made to establish a connection be 
tween the two clauses. Saad. : [wealth, rightly used in good 
works, saves life] but he is poor who heeds not the admonition of 
God ; Rashi : the poor does not hear reproach (from the good 
rich man, who, on the contrary, gives him alms) , or he who is 
poor (in the knowledge of the law) hears not the admonition (of 
the law, and therefore does not escape evil) ; Midrash Haggada 

XIII. 7-8 265 

(cited by Rashi) refers the clause to the payment of the half- 
shekel obligatory on all Israelites equally (Kx. 3O 1:; ), so that the 
poor man is not exposed to contempt for his poverty ; l)e. points 
out that the reference cannot be to the old legal commutation of 
the death-penalty to a fine, for this is restricted to one case (Kx. 
21 " "), and even then the offender does not escape threatening or 
rebuke, and, if he cannot pay the fine, must suffer death (cf. Kx. 
22 :UM ) ; Schult. agrees in general with Saad., holding the meaning 
to be: true riches is that (namely, wisdom and virtue) which 
saves a man from death (\f/ 49"" 1 "), and he is poor who does not 
heed admonition ; Kwald takes the second half of the clause as 
subject (an improbable construction), and translates: yet he 
became poor who never heard an accusation (reference to legal 
proceedings) ; some * take rebuke as = threat (a sense which the 
word nowhere else has), and understand the meaning to be that 
the poor man, secure in the fact that he has nothing to be robbed 
of (cantabit vacuus coram latrone viator }, hears or heeds not 
threats, is not concerned with the schemes of the powerful op 
pressor. These renderings are all forced and improbable; the 
first clause simply points out the value of wealth, apparently in 
evil or corrupt times, as a means of security (by bribery, and, in 
general, by procuring powerful protection), and the second cl. 
either belongs to another couplet, or must be emended so as to 
give a contrast to first clause. The emendation wicked for poor 
does not furnish a contrast. On ransom see note on 6 ; ". In the 
present case the rich man is exposed to the legal and other 
assaults of the powerful, and saves his life by a payment of money. 
See lo 1 , and, contra, i I LN . 

XIII. 1. In " ; or ^ may have fallen out; cf. * 4 1 S 19- al. Dimock 
(cited by Dys.), any, for $) ay; Kanip. any (if this be adopted, ID? and any 
should be transposed); 13i. inserts prep, p before Di, but the resulting con 
struction is hard. (5 ;l virriKOOs may represent i "- (so in 2 1- S , where, however. 
Jug. proposes to read eV^/coos), or may lie free rendering of 11): in di ^oos 
;= yc" 1 N 1 " 1 , and i>ios apparently represents } ^ (assimilation to form o| " i ; cv 
a.Trw\eia (111) n->y:) is peril, corruption oft ; d.Trfi\rj (lug., sec v/ 1 ). ki. inserts 
*^~ in , and $ ;;.-::. In $ I.. 11. .us (p freely. ( in iT y-;:. to be icad 
xrs: (so jf ), see Levy, s.v. xrya, and I inkuss.- l- or D? 4 MSS. liave r, ;;, 

Mich. De. Now. Reuss, Noyes, 7.6ck. Sir. Kanip. RV. 


after lo 1 . 2. In a & renders as in I2 14a ; for J a->N -<s @ has SiKaiotrvvv, 
perh. reading pis, perh. imitating ii 3) (Baum.). @ b 6XoOvTai fiw/soi may 
represent J^ Dsn (the evil fate which overtakes the wicked), or Dcr, from 
ODD (Capp. Crit. Sac., iv. 4, 5, cf. Lag. Baum. Pink.). On dupoi cf. Frank, 
on 1 1 35 . The word does not of itself render Den, but only in conjunction with 
some other term, as perish. A connection between a and b might be got by 
inserting 33 after c-x (so &), and supplying in >> a verb parallel to ^DN". See 
note on this v. above. Instead of Ssx^ 7 MSS. and Bibl. Sonc. have j,-3B", and 
so j&Ol Venet., as in I2 U . 3. The stem pirs in Arab. = go forth, separate 
one s self (then transgress, act unrestrainedly*) ; in Aram., cause to go forth or 
away, cut off ; in Heb. cause to go apart, open wide (Qal only here, Pi. 
Ez. i6 >25 ). 4. In ffi Sxj? irsj the i may be petrified sign of Norn., as in irvn, 
Gen. i 24 al., ua, Nu. 24 3 - 15 , iryc, ^ 1148, perh. to be read wyv (the form is not 
found elsewhere in Pr.), or Aram, anticipatory suff. (elsewhere in Pr. only 
I4 13 , on which see note), or we may (with Bi.) omit it as scribal error. adds 
the suff. to the second a>cj also. With juh cf. Assyr. NB-I, jan. (5, not so 
well, omits }>N; IL takes it as negation of munc : vult et non vult piger. 
<S1L render VxjJ j as = Sxj?. 5. | irx:r, from C-NO; better e-a , from co. 
(S oi^x f%t<.irappr)<Tlavis free rendering of |$ icn^; on S see Pinkuss. 6. One 
MS. has syz^, and one ason. Read asm instead of |^ PNEH. The subst. an 
occurs a number of times in Pr. (a 7 lo 9 ig 1 2O 7 28), the sing. adj. here, lo 29 
29 10 , the sing, acn I 12 2 21 II 5 - 20 28 10 - 18 . For the stem t^o cf. the Arab, sense 
go beyond, and turn over (land for sowing); in Heb. Pi. turn over, destroy; 
subst. F| L< p departure from (going beyond} the right way, falsity. The couplet, 
found in 6 A - < 1G1 - - <* S," Clem. Procop., is lacking in B , probably by 
scribal inadvertence; its sentiment, though of the most general nature, is 
appropriate, and the style of the Hebrew is natural. 8. For J$ u ; i Frank, 
suggests yen; see note on this v. above. If this emendation be adopted, the 
two lines of the v. must be held to belong to different couplets. JtJ mp; 
(S direiXriv. On this word, and on t NP>*3, j$ NHN3, see critical note on v. 1 

9. Permanent prosperity of the righteous. 

The light of the righteous < shines brightly, 
But the lamp of the wicked goes out. 

Antithetic, ternary. Shines brightly is in the Heb. rejoices, an 
expression not appropriate in the connection. Statement of the 
earthly fortunes of good and bad men under the figure of houses, 
one brightly illuminated (symbol of life, prosperity, joy), the 
other in darkness (symbol of adversity and death) ; see the full 
form of the figure in Job 18. Light and lamp are synonymous 
(so in Job 18"), not symbols respectively of divine providence and 
human sagacity (De., who, inappropriately, refers to 6" )- For 

XIII. 9-io 26; 

some general parallels in Talmudic and other writings see Hitz. 
De. (the references in Malan are scarcely appropriate). 
Another emendation (Frank.) is: light rejoices tlic righteous, 
which gives a less marked antithesis than the reading here 
adopted. Grk. : there is light to the righteous always, perhaps a 
free rendering of our Heb., perhaps based on a different text. 
The Grk. adds the couplet : 

Crafty souls go astray in sins, 

But the righteous pity and are merciful. 

For the first cl. cf. 2 I:< C 1 -, and, for second cl., i// T,f l ; the two 
clauses have no special connection with each other. The couplet 
is not improbably a combination of glosses. 

10. Pride as source of discord. The Heb. reads : 

Pride causes only strife, 

But with those who take counsel is wisdom. 

Antithetic, ternary-binary. Cf. 1 1" H 12 - 15- 24. According to 
this reading /VvV& (haughty self-confidence) is set over against the 
disposition to take counsel, which is the sign of rational self-dis 
trust ; and such pride, bringing one into conflict with others, is 
thus foolish, while the opposite disposition is a mark of wisdom. 
A distincter antithesis is gained if (with Hitz., after 1 1 2 , on which 
see note) we read : with the humble is wisdom (for which the 
change required in the Heb. is not great) ; on the other hand, 
the reading of the text is intelligible, and is perhaps a designed 
variation of that of ii . The general sense remains the same 
those who take counsel (RV., not so accurately, tlie well-advised} 
may be described as humble or modest. The proverb is directed 
against litigiousness and general quarrelsomeness and offensive- 
assertion of one s supposed rights, perhaps, also, against the obsti 
nate pride of rival princes, which frequently led to wars. (Irk. 
(with different text) : a bad man does evil by insolence, but they 
who judge themselves are wise, in which the antithesis is less clear 
than in the Hebrew. The couplet should perhaps read : 

humble being taken as = unassuming. 


11. Results of legitimate and illegitimate accumulation of 

Wealth gathered < in haste > grows small, 
But he who gradually amasses increases. 

Antithetic, ternary. The Heb. reads : wealth (got) from nothing 
ness (or, vanity}, in which vanity is by some* taken as = fraud, 
swindling; but the word means only "a breath, something transi 
tory, practically non-existent" (Dt. 32 21 Job 7 Eccl. i 2 ), a sense 
which is here inappropriate (since wealth built up from nothing 
may be praiseworthy), and does not offer a good contrast with 
the following gradually. Comparison with 2O 21 28" makes it 
probable that the Grk. and the Lat. are right in reading in haste\ ; 
the expression probably looks to abnormal methods, not accord 
ing to the ordinary laws of industry or inheritance (as by son 
from father), but fraudulent business procedures, extortion, and 
the like. A man who becomes rich in this way, says the proverb, 
is likely to lose his wealth ; the reference is probably to reckless 
expenditure in luxuries, dissipation, speculations and illegal ven 
tures, not to divine retribution ; and, on the other hand, legiti 
mate industry will be accompanied by caution and thrift. This is 
obviously the observation of a man who lived in a commercial 
community. The rendering wealth dwindles away sooner than a 
breath (Umbreit, Noyes) is in itself inappropriate (since a breath, 
here = nothing, cannot dwindle), and does not stand in contrast 
with second cl. The translation by labor (RV.), instead of 
gradually, is improbable. The Grk. inserts the explanatory 
phrases iniquitously (in first cl.), righteously (in second cl.), 
which latter Targ. renders and gives to the poor (see note on io 2 ). 
Grk. adds : The righteous is merciful and lends, on which see 
note on v. 9 . 

12. Hope fulfilled and unfulfilled. 

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, 
But desire fulfilled is a tree of life. 

Antithetic, ternary. Hope and desire are synonyms each = " the 
thing desired or hoped for." Fulfilled is lit. having come. Instead 

* Schult. De. Str. t So Vog. Hitz. Ew. Reuss, Bi. Kamp. al. 

XIII. n-13 269 

of hope deferred we might render extended waiting the sense 
would be the same. Heart is not the emotional nature, but the 
whole inward man ; on tree of life see notes on 3-* i r 3 ". The 
proverb has no ethical bearing ; it is true without reference to the 
moral character of desire. The (Irk., misunderstanding the scope 
of the saying, writes good desire. 

13. Safety lies in obedience. The Heb. reads : 

He who despises the word is treated as debtor to it, 
But he who fears the commandment is rewarded. 

Antithetic, ternary, Is treated as debtor is lit. has been forced to 
give a pledge. According to the Jewish law the debtor deposited 
with the creditor some article as pledge (Ex. 22- H - )) Am. 2* Job 
22 " Pr. 2o" ; al.) or mortgaged his house or land (Neh. 5 3 ), and 
the creditor, if the debt were not paid, might take possession of 
the debtor s property (Mic. 2 - ), and even, if this did not suffice, 
of his person, and his wife and children (2 K. 4 Isa. 50 Xeh. 
5 s ).* So, our text declares, he who offends against the word 
(that is, the law) is regarded as a debtor to it, and, if he do not 
meet his obligation, will be punished, while he who fears and 
obeys will ^rewarded (cf. n 31 ). The sinner, it is said, exists 
on sufferance for a time; at the end of that time he must dis 
charge his obligation by obedience, or submit to his fate. This, 
however, is hardly a natural representation, and a slight change of 
the Heb. gives the simpler reading : 

He who despises the word will perish, 

But he who fears the command will he safe. 

The term word may mean " law in general " ; possibly it = word 
of God, with specific reference to the divine la\v given to Israel. 
The punishment and reward may come from man or from CJod. 
Cf. notes on i 3 i6 L ". Gra tz unnecessarily emends to: he who 

despises strife . . and he who fears contention . . . (irk. adds 

the triplet : 

A crafty son will have no good thinjj;, 

But the affairs of a wise servant will he prosperous, 

And his path will he directed aright. 

* See Nowack, Heb. Arch., pp. 3^3 ff. 


This is apparently a scribal addition, taken, perhaps, from some 
current collection of proverbs (not from Ben-Sira) ; the second 
and third lines perhaps form a doublet. The thought is in keep 
ing with that of our Book of Proverbs, in which, however, the 
only parallel couplet is i f. The Lat. adds the couplet given in 
the Grk. after v. J . 

14. Wisdom is life-giving. 

The teaching of the sage is a fountain of life, 
Whereby one may avoid the snares of death. 

Ternary, progressive (second cl. = predicate of first cl.), in form 
a single sentence, contrary to the norm of this part of the Book ; 
1 4^ is nearly identical. The two lines give two different figures. 
The second cl. is lit. : to avoid, etc. On fountain of life see note 
on io n . Teaching (Heb. fora) = "content of the instruction." 
Snares of death are snares set by death (as fowler or hunter), or, 
more probably, snares of which the result is death, as in first cl. 
the result of the fountain is life. The sage (see 22" 24^ i 2 " 6 2 1 ) is 
the man of experience and wisdom, the teacher (public or private) 
whose instruction is designed to be a practical guide in everyday 
affairs. The sages appear to have formed a recognized class at 
this time, and to have performed the function of Heads of schools 
or Professors of the philosophy of life. Their teaching related to 
matters of common-sense prudence, and to the more nearly ideal 
conception of right and wrong ; it included the observations of 
practical sagacity, and the prescriptions of a strictly ethical-reli 
gious view of life ; see notes on i 2 " 6 io u 13" i4 27 al. In Proverbs 
the guide of life is not the immediate divine word of the Prophets 
or the divine rule of the Tora, but human reflection illuminated 
by divine wisdom a difference which indicates a new phase of 
development of Israelitish moral and religious thought. The 
Grk. gains a contrast by reading second cl. : but the foolish dies by 
a snare, an improbable form (cf. i2 13 ). An antithetic form might 
be expected, but cannot be got by any natural emendation of the 
Hebrew text. The idea of the proverb, as it stands, is that integ 
rity (probably religious integrity) brings long and happy life, as in 
3 1C al- 

.Vi5 271 

9. 11) nr*:"; S3T ryu ; 1L laelijicat, reading Pi. (so Frank.), 1 ut the order 
of words does not favor this reading; (5 5id Travros, perh. paraphrase of |l), con 
trast to the t\\tinitishen\rf b (Jag.), liardly for nru" 1 /j t .r/V ;/</<</ (Lag.), possibly 
for n ij " or <::.-; see Schleusn. who thinks that a word (peril. xap7"6v) has fallen 
out. One MS. of IK K. has rr:v. (iriitx would emend to mp (cf. 2 K. 5 - - 
Isa. 58 n Job 9"), a more natural reading than that of 11), and here, probably, to 
be adopted; rr:u is nowhere else used of a light. For I Job. translations of the 
couplet added in (5 see Kw. and l!i.; cf. note on this \. above. 10. 11) csv;; 
Hi. (not improbably) :>?;> , a ft <- r u-; (P, freely, eavruv twi.-yvuij.ovfs (see 12- ). 
<S >i for 11) p->. It is better to omit pi and the 2 of p?3 as corrupted repeti 
tion of preceding -[;-<. 11. 11) Vpnt; (5 fTricrTrovSafo^cr;, H, festinata. .< 

follow (5, with modifications. Read (with E\v. Reuss, Lag. Kamp.) s ;V;j~. s ;- 

i = " according to the task of the day, gradually " (cf. Levy, XlllV., for the 
late Ileb. use); "<O would mean "by the labor of one s hand." (5 adds at 
end: SiKaios oixTfipfi KO.I MX/"?- 12. (5 gives an elaborate paraphrase of a , 
making of it a full couplet: Kpficrcrwv fvapxbpfvos [B /^ei/cus] fiorfBtiv [N"- -" 
106. 248. A al. J3otj6f2v^ xapdiq. ToO Trayye\\ofj.^vov KO.L ei j t\iri5a (Lyovros, 
= better speedy help than halting promise. Some MSS. of (23. 106. 149 a!.) 
and S n here add the line above given at end of v. 11 , while others (106. 248) 
omit ^ij 1 . As the form of |i) is obviously original, these variations exhibit the 
liberties and uncertainties of (irk. scribes (see Baum.). 13. On the Heb. 
represented by the addition in <S (found also in j?) see Ew., Bi., and, on the 
texts of <S and jjj, Baum. Pinkuss. Gr. reads 31 for -a-*, and nss strife for 

mi-:. Better Frank., who omits ^, and reads nSu^ ((5 vyiaivet.) for 11) s^-j". 

14. In <5 has: 6 5e &vovs virb vayidos dave?rai, = w pss r^i ^zn (so Baum.; 
Jag. ip) ; but the collocation die + snare is hard. We should perh. expect 
some such form as pis ip\ 5 and one Ileb. MS. have nsrn for Ji) c;n. 

15. Value of intelligence. The first cl. reads : 
Fine intelligence (or, good sense) wins favor. 

The expression (ra Srt ) which stands as subject of the clause 
signifies intellectual penetration or fineness (i Sam. 25 ;i ), or wis 
dom in the most general sense (i// in 1 ") (in Pr. 3 4 the text must 
be changed) ; the substantive is the distinctive term in Prov. for 
sagacify, discretion, prudence (12* i6 2 J ig u 23 - , and so K/.r. S 1S ). 
Here the reference is to that fine perception of propriety which 
makes a man discreet and courteous in his dealing with his 
fellows, whereby he wins their favor ; the term culture (suggested 
by De.), understood to include both intellectual and social fine 
ness, may convey the idea of the Hebrew. With this idea the 
second cl., as it now stands, cannot be brought into clear relation. 
Lit. it reads : Tlie way (conduct, manner) oj the wicked (faithless) 


is permanent (enduring), in which wickedness is not a natural con 
trast to intelligence, and the conduct or manner of life of the 
wicked is described not as bringing disfavor, but as permanent, a 
term used everywhere else in a laudatory sense, as indicative of 
strength, but never with ethical significance. It is employed to 
describe a stream as perennial (Am. s - 4 Dt. 2i 4 // 74 1 " ), or men 
(Jer. 5 lt-i 49 19 5O 44 Job i2 9 ), or their abode (Nu. 24 - ), or the foun 
dations of the earth (Mic. 6 2 ), as enduring, a bow (Gen. 4Q 24 ), as 
standing fast, sure, the sea as having a permanent place or flow 
(Ex. I4 7 ), and pain as perpetual (Job 33 19 ). The renderings 
hard (AV. Str.), rugged (RV.), unfruitful, desolate (Reuss, Zock.), 
uncultivated (De.), are unwarranted by etymology or usage. 
Schultens understands it as tenacious, inflexible, that is, in a 
bad sense, but such a sense does not belong to it ; the clause can 
not mean : the manner or conduct of bad men is characterized by 
an immovableness which pays no respect to the claims of others. 
Grk. Syr. Targ. : are destroyed; Lat. : whirlpool. The true read 
ing is uncertain. The translation of AV. : the way of transgress 
ors is hard has been by many readers understood to mean that 
transgressors have a hard time of it, or, that the modes of proce 
dure of bad men are cruel senses which are foreign to the 
words. The next verse may perhaps suggest that the original text 
contained some such expression as " the conduct of fools is hate 
ful" (or, "breeds enmity "), or, less probably, "is their destruc 
tion" (Grk.), or (Frank.) "is emptiness" (cf. BS. 4i 1(1 ). The 
two lines appear to belong to different couplets. After the first 
cl. the Grk. adds the apparent variant : 

And to know the law is the part of sound understanding, 

the first half of which reads like a gloss on the expression wins 
favor one, that is, gains the favor of God by a knowledge of 
the law. But the line is found in the Grk. at the end of 9 also, 
where it is more appropriate ; and it was, perhaps, here inserted 
merely because of the common expression sound understanding 
( = fine intelligence) . 

16. Good sense and its lack shown in conduct. 

The man of sense shows intelligence in all he does, 
13ut the fool makes a display of folly. 

XIII. 15-17 2/3 

Antithetic, ternary. The Heb. has, in first cl. : Kvcr\ man of 
sense acts with knowledge (or, intelligence } ; the transposition 
(with Syr. Lut.) of the crery (= a//) gives a better form to the 
sentence. The adj. sfiisil>!e (= <>f sense, RV. prudent ) is a com 
mon term in Prov. for the expression of intellectual sobriety and 
acuteness ; what is here said is that a man of this sort acts with 
due regard to circumstances, while the fool spreads out or displays 
his ignorance and folly like a pedlar who openly spreads his wares 
before the gaze of all men. C f. i2- :; 15-. The reference appears 
to be solely to intellectual qualities. 

17. Good and bad messengers. 

Antithetic, ternary. In first cl. the I leb. has nicked and falls into . 
but it is the business capacity of the messenger, and not his moral 
character, that is in question (so in 25 " ), and the predicate refers 
(as in second cl.) not to the misfortunes of the messenger, but to 
the unhappy consequences which Ins incapacity entails on his em 
ployers. The correction requires only the omission of one letter 
and the change of tsvo vowel-points. The term enrov occurs 
again in 25"; in Isa. 18- Jer. 49" (=()bad. 1 ), and perhaps in 
Isa. 57 - ,* it means a political or governmental messenger, an am 
bassador, but the more general name cni-oy is preferable as suiting 
all the passages in which the word occurs. The reference is prob 
ably to private as well as public negotiations, and to affairs of 
every description for the settlement of which an intermediator is 
required. The terms incompetent, triist:^ortliv, misfortune, heals 
are of general (not primarily ethical) import. Insures success, 
lit. is healtJi, that is, is a source of health, the agency by which a 
sound, prosperous condition is attained. See 4 - - 6 I:> i2 IS i4 :; " 15 
ifr 4 29 Mai. 4- (3-" ).t The second cl. states not that the good 
messenger heals or remedies the mistakes of the bad messenger of 
first cl., but generally that such an one is helpful. 


18. Financial success the reward of docility and caution. 

Poverty and shame will be the lot of him who rejects instruction, 
But he who regards admonition will be honored. 

Antithetic, ternary (or, quaternary-ternary). Prudent regard to 
advice, says the sage, insures success in life ; the maxim is a gen 
eral one, and leaves room for cases in which, for moral or other 
reasons, one must go against the counsel of friends. The primary 
reference is to commercial success. The shame (disgrace) is that 
which usually attends poverty, and the honor is that which is given 
to wealth. The principle involved (caution in decisions) has, of 
course, a wider scope. Cf. i2 l i$ - S2 . The instruction and admo 
nition may be understood (but less probably) to refer to general 
moral and religious teaching. The Grk., against the parallelism, 
inverts the order, rendering : instruction removes (or, averts) pov 
erty and dishonor. 

19. Two displaced lines, each of which has lost its proper par 
allel line : 

Desire accomplished is sweet to the soul, 

But it is an abomination to fools to depart from evil. 

The first cl. is substantially identical with second cl. of 13, and 
the second cl. with second cl. of 29*, in each of which couplets 
there is a distinct antithesis. A connection here between the two 
lines has been sought * by paraphrasing : " desire fulfilled is pleas 
ant, and thus fools cherish their evil desire, and will not abandon 
it," or (Wild.) : " the desires of good men are granted by God, 
but fools cannot expect such a blessing " ; but these interpreta 
tions are forced, and contrary to the style of Proverbs, in which 
the connection of thought is simple and obvious; cf. 18 -, in 
which the fool s pleasure is defined, and see notes on 13 - 29- . 
Grk. (followed, with some variations, by Syr. Targ.) has : 

The desires of the righteous gladden the soul, 

But the deeds of the unrighteous are far from knowledge ; 

which in part represents a different Heb. text from ours, and 
seems to be in part a religious interpretation of our first clause. 
Similar religious interpretations of the first cl. are given by Rashi, 

Rashi, Schult. DC. Rcuss, Sir. al. 


Delitzsch, and others, but it obviously contemplates a general non- 
moral fact of human experience. 

20. On choosing associates wisely. 

Walk with the wise, and tlmu wilt become wise, 
But he who associates with fools will smart for it. 

Antithetic, ternary. In first cl. the Heb. margin (assimilating the 
construction to that of second cl.) reads: he who walks . . . be 
comes, ll ill smart (see ii 1 ) is lit. will l>e made (or, become} 
bad (-will come into eril ease }; there is an implied contrast 
between this cril, the result of folly, and the good or advantage 
which is derived from wisdom. In the Heb. of second cl. there 
is an assonance : ro e k s ilim \cro\i. The power of association to 
mould character is referred to in i 1 " 2 - 4" i6 L " J 22- -- 23-" jS : - 1;l . 
The wise may be in general men of good sense, or the reference 
may be specifically to sages, men who sought and taught wisdom. 
The verse may be an admonition to attend the schools; cf. BS. 

39 "" Eccl. I2 11 " 11 . 

15. At e7i<l of a lii. adds ->pni (presumably for the metre s sake). 11) j.- S 
(on the stem see I5I)P>), apparently an elative form, made (as in South Scni.) 
by pref. N, sporadic in \<>. Semitic; (5 tv dwu!\fia (and so J?) : JT (apparently 
following botli 11) and (3) -or s ::3i NC,T Nmx\ 1L rvr,/^,). |a^. supposes 
that (5 read CIN llieir calamity (i- 7 24 - - [ob 21 " <//.), (!r. p^x; neither of 
these would account for 1L zww;V. (3 may possibly be free rendering of 11). 
Frank. n> (see Job 6 1S 12-* P>S. 41 ). which is not satisfactory in itself, and 
secures no _i;ood contrast between the clauses. 16. Ii) re-;- ~-*-; -;; better 
(as apparently $1L) " " ^r; 5 takes ; as defining relative clause (I ink.); 
cf. 16". drat/ proposes ^rir for 11) T. 17. |t) 1N S ^; (3 /iatnXei .s. It) ;--; 
read yn (so drat/). 11) ^ s*; read Ilif. SB (so Reuss, Now. lii. Gr. Kamp. 
I- rank.) ; cf. 7- I9 1 " . 11) c:"N, plu. of extent and emphasis. N:^ - : may be 
pointed as subst. or as I i. Partcp.;. (3, freely, pvcrerai avrbv. 18. ISefore 
11) >"<b insert \ 19. 11) rvnj ms" ; (3 tTri()v/jiia.i evffcfi&v (68. 106. nl. C ompl. 
citTf/icDv), in which ciV. is probably insertion to i^ain a religious tone, though 
il may represent a 3,1 is (cf. note on 2I ;tl ); (3 tpya, r->3" C|iif, -> "r 
11) r2".~; UTTO yi uia fu!^. "^T, for 11) v". IL i/ni /it^imit, as if :^D or ^r 1 . 
i Mi a readin- -;-->. for 11) 3^5?. see I )e Rossi. --20. Kelhib :l (followed 1 y 
(T> ,t\\ o Ini]i\s. in conditional sentence; Ued (followed b\ S^vTU) has I .utc] . 
and Impf., as in h . 11) -;~--\ 1$ -, i/uxr^o-crcu, Nil", or llof. of ;">; iL, freely, 
sintilis i-J]iiiftur ; in ijiT = |l). 


21, 22. Recompense of righteousness and unrighteousness. 
Antithetic, ternary. The doctrine of earthly reward according to 
conduct ; see notes on 3 13 " 18 . 

21. Misfortune pursues sinners, 

But good fortune is the lot of the righteous. 

22. The good man leaves wealth to his children s children, 
But the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the righteous. 

21. Misfortune is lit. evil; good fortune is simply good in the 
Hebrew. On the terms sinners and righteous see notes on i 3 - 10 
2 20 . The second cl. is lit. : he (or, one} recompenses the righteous 
with good. The he is by some* taken to refer to God (Yahweh), 
but this is improbable, since such omission of the divine name as 
subject occurs nowhere else ; others f understand the subject to 
be the indefinite one, and render the verb as passive {the righteous 
are recompensed}, a construction possible, but hardly employed 
except where the connection points naturally to a definite subject ; 
still others would construe good as subject (good rewards the 
righteous}, taking it as = " the Good One," God (but God is 
never in OT. called simply "the Good One"), or as = " pros 
perity " (but this expression represents the reward, not the re- 
warder). It is perhaps better, following the Grk., to change the 
verb into overtakes, and make good (corresponding to evil in first 
cl.) the subject: good overtakes (is the lot of} the righteous; 
for this use of the verb see Isa. 59 11 Job 27 20 . The sense is un 
affected by this change of text. The Pass, form of the verb in 
the Heb. is found in n :u i3 13 . 22. The term good describes 
that which is satisfactory of its kind, well adapted to its ends, as 
food (Gen. 3* ), or land (Ex. 3*) ; used of persons it may mean 
beautiful (Gen. 24 " i Sam. 9"), or kind (i Sam. 25" ty 73 ), or 
morally exemplary ; here, from the parallelism, it is equivalent to 
righteous, as in 12- i4 14 - 1!) . The reference is not to successful 
thrift, or to the kindhearted, liberal man who by dispensing bless 
ing is himself blessed (as in n r> ), but to the morally good man 
whose obedience to law is rewarded with worldly prosperity. The 
ethical use of the term is frequent in Prov., less frequent in Pss., 
elsewhere rare. The bequeathal of wealth to descendants was in 

* Saad. Now. Str. and apparently Schult. f Lat. De. RV. 

XIII. 2i-2j 277 

Israel (as among ancient peoples generally) a crowning test of 
prosperity. This blessing is said to come to the righteous, but 
not to sinners, whose wealth, on the contrary, passes (by natural 
laws) into the hands of the good. On tinner see notes on 8 ;; ; 
1 1 31 . 

23. The Hebrew yields no satisfactory sense. It reads : 

The statement of first cl. is opposed to common observation and 
to the declaration of 10 " , and uses the strange term fallow- 
ground instead of some general word for " land " ; the second cl. 
is vague (the injustice may belong to the perishing man or to his 
destroyer), and between the two clauses there is no obvious rela 
tion the productivity of a poor man s land has nothing to do 
with a man s perishing by injustice. A sufficiently free para 
phrase may, indeed, supply the needed connection : " even the 
fresh land (which requires severe labor, and is presumably of mod 
erate productive power) of a (pious or industrious) poor man 
yields abundance of food, while many men (relatively rich) by 
their unjust actions (fail to get nourishment from their land, and 
in the end) are destroyed." * But these insertions overpass the 
limits of allowable interpretation. There is nothing to indicate 
that the/cw man of first cl. is diligent or righteous this cannot 
be properly inferred (by contrast) from the injustice of second cl. ; 
nor is the poor man, as such, ever commended in Prov. (not in 
19--, and not in 3" ) ; moreover, a man supplied abundantly with 
food is hardly to be called poor (cf. v. - " ). The Anc. Yrss. vary 
considerably from the Heb., and from one another. (Irk. : the 
righteous shall pas.t many years in wealth, but the unrighteous 
shall be speedily destroyed ; and that there were variations in the 
Greek versions is shown by the rendering of the Hexaplar Syriac, 
which is based on the (Ireek text of Origen: the great cnjov 
weal tli many years, but some men perish lit fie b\ little ; Pesh. Syr. : 
those wJio hare no habitation (or. means <>f s/fl>sis/enee) [that is, 
the poor] waste wealth many years, aihl some waste (it) [or, per- 

* So substantially E\v. Uc. Rc-uss, Now. Str. 


haps, by emendation, peris h~] completely ; Targ. : the great man 
devours the land of the poor, and some men arc taken awav 
(= die} unjustly (or, without judgment) \ Lat. : there is much 
food in the fresh land of the fathers ( chiefs, heads of families), 
and (or, but) for others it is collected without judgment. The 
medieval Jewish commentators are equally at a loss in translating 
the verse. Saad. : food (that is, the manner of one s eating) is 
often a sign of poverty, and many men are carried off without 
judgment (that is, without knowing the judgment of God, or with 
out dying a natural death) ; Rashi allegorizes. Frankenberg 
emends : 

The fallow-ground of the wicked yields abundance of food, 
And wealth gathered by injustice. 

But such a general affirmation is not found elsewhere in Pr., the 
translation wealth collected is not probable, and the difficulty of 
the fallow-ground remains. The Hebrew text appears to be 
corrupt beyond emendation. 

24. The rod for children. 

He who spares his rod hates his son, 
But he who loves him chastises him. 

Antithetic, quaternary-ternary (or, ternary). Spares = withholds, 
fails to use (it does not mean "uses slightly") ; see io lu n 24 i;- 7 
2i 2l! 24 11 Gen. 22 12 ty ig 13 14 Job 7". Chastises is lit. seeks with 
chastisement, = deals (with him) by chastisement ; the verb does 
not contain the idea of " early, betimes, diligently " (De. RV. al.) ; 
see notes on i 28 7 13 8 17 n 27 . The proverb simply commends 
bodily chastisement as a means of training ; details are left to the 
judgment of parents; on chastisement see notes on i-- s . Similar 
sayings are 22 " 23 2^ ; the regulation of I)t. 2i ls "-- (infliction 
of death on a disobedient son) seems, in the later postexilian 
period, to have fallen into desuetude.* 

* On methods of corporal punishment of children among the Greeks and 
Romans see Becker, Char ides, Exc. to Sc. I, and Gallus, Exc. II to Sc. I, and 
A. /immern, The Home Life of the Ancient Greeks (transl. from the Germ, of H. 
Bliimner), p. 98; for Chinese and other apophthegms relating to this point see 

XIII. 2;,-25 2/9 

25. Relation of righteousness to supply of bodily wants. 

The righteous has enough to satisfy his appetite, 
Uut the wicked suffers lack of food. 

Antithetic, ternary. Lit. : the rigJiteous cats ( = has food enough) 
to tlic satisfying of his appetite, but the belly of tlte U iekcil lacks. 
On appetite (= animal life or soul) see notes on 6 :! " i ls . Belly is 
the middle part of the body, rarely the outer surface (Job 40" 
Cant. 7 - "). usually the interior, including the womb (den. 2^ 
a/.} and the cavity containing the bowels, regarded as the seat of 
general feeling (Job 20"") or as the receptacle of food (here and 
1 8 -", on which see note) ; it thus comes to stand for the man s 
being or personality (i// iy 14 ), or the combination soi/l and Ixlly 
expresses the whole being (i// 3r (U ! ). The reference in the prov 
erb is to the satisfaction of all bodily needs, food standing for all 
the physical necessaries of life not to the satisfaction of spiritual 
needs, of which there is no suggestion in the words; the inward 
life of spiritual experience is alluded to in 1 rov. always under the 
general terms ivistloni, fear of Ya/iK ch, and the like. On bodily 
compensation in this life see notes on i :! - "" 2 n -, etc. The dis 
tinctness of the phraseology of this verse brings out in sharp 
relief the indistinctness of v. J;! . 

21. 11) 2J S^U"; (? K-araAT^ercu dyadd; read 2 J Ji" (E\v. Kamp.) ; Bi. 
c-u l- ; (iriit/. 2 s r zi^s r:f; Lag. suggests that the word was written "-, 
out of which (5 made JS"; Jag. regards 3!. 1 - as the word read by (P, miswriting 
uf =-::". 22. To understand .in" as suhj.of s nr is unnatural and unnecessary. 
Before au I .i. inserts rs, but cf. 1 2-. 1L, fully, filios ct tifpctts. 23. (5 may 
be based on |1) : 6i\ atot (lag. 2^ J", for |i) :^ X->) Troirjaovffii (perh. Aram. 12; 
pass time, for li; TN) ev -rrXovTifi (It) 13 land, taken as = -ccaltli} tr-rj rro\\d 
( = JtJ 2^), &SIKOL Se (free rendering of li) " ", to bring out contrast with 
SiKcuoi) diro\ovvTai (=11) ^rD;) ffvvrbnus (perh. free rendering of 11) N^2 
C2- ~, possibly = :s-r, omitting ,V2). S (P. except that in " it lias periph 
rasis for poor instead of righteous, and renders |i) ^:N by i-<2iN, and in also 
has ii2 X, which, however, may be scribal error for TON* (Pink.). The \ rss. 
a]>pear thus to support the text of 11), but furnish no suggestions for its 
emendation. Krank. reads :-j-< for 11) r-J-s- 1 , and takes U" as = wealth : this 
latter is here hard, and the resulting couplet is unsatisfactory. < >n "" see 
Pil>l>. 24. "11) -Dt ^-r, with two objects, as ;", 2 K. n/-; the suff. 
refers to the son, not (Kw. ,n .) to ". (? eV(ue\u;s iraiSevft, probably not 
reading T": (Pink.), but taking J- as = s,~f& carefully, and rendering the 
phrase according to (Jrk. idiom (as RV. according to Kng. idiom). This 


incorrect rendering of nn^ is found in S> (which = <S, except that it expresses 
the suff.) 5E (3V2) 3L (instanfer) and an anonymous (irk. Vrs. (dpffpifct, in 
Field), and is obviously due to a supposed derivation of this stem from tn^ 
dawn (so Saad. Rashi). Gratx suggests nD D rnrc 3 corrects him in (Jiis) 
youth, but the change is unnecessary. 25. ft? pa; (5 \l/vxa.i, perh. by 
assimilation to a , 3 being usually rendered in by Koi\la (so A26ES 11 
here); SiCS" D"O (Heb. U"c, Jcr. 5i :i4 ); IL zvte;-. 

XIV. 1. Wisdom and folly in the home. 

The Heb. text is in disorder, and the proper form is doubtful. 
The Received Text reads : 

The wise among women build (every one) her house, 
But folly with her hands tears it down. 

The improbable collocation of concrete and abstract (wise and 
folly) may be got rid of by slight changes of text, as by reading, 
in first cl., the wisdom of women (so many recent expositors), or, 
in second cl., the foolish (Anc. Vrss. RV.). In all these readings 
the reference is to the wife as manager of household affairs, as in 
3 1 10 " 31 , where, indeed, as to her acts she is called capable, and 
wise in her words only, but the difference is not significant. Else 
where in OT. the epithet wise, used of women, indicates sagacity 
(Ju. 5 20 2 S. 14* 20 16 - 22 ), artistic skill (Ex. 35 25 ), or the profession 
of mourner (Jer. 9 1C(17) ). The sense may thus here be : it is the 
wisdom of the wife especially that secures the prosperity of the 
household. This interpretation, however, assigns the wife a role 
which is more important than is indicated elsewhere in Pr., and is 
in itself not probable the man is in OT. the more important 
person of the family. A simpler statement of the general effi 
ciency of the housewife may be gained by further changes of the 
text, with the resultant reading : 

A wise woman builds her house, 

A foolish woman with her hands tears it down. 

Builds her house = builds up her household, It is possible, how 
ever, that (as 9 1 24" suggest) the word women of the present text 
is a gloss on the plu. adj. wise, and should be omitted. If. fur 
ther, we change wise to wisdom and omit the unnecessary ex 
pression with her hands, we have the rendering : 


Wisdom builds the house, 
l- olly tears it down. 

The statement then is that wisdom is constructive, folly destruc 
tive, of the family and the best life. The objection to this emen 
dation is that wisdom and folly are not personified elsewhere in 
chs. 10-29; an isolated case might, however, occtir. The word 
women being omitted, the first line of this couplet is identical 
with first line of 9 , from which it may have been taken, and a dif 
ferent meaning given it. Or the expression may have been a 
common one in gnomic discourse, and may have been employed 
by different writers in different senses. 

2. Identity of integrity and piety. 

He whose life is upright fears Yahweh, 
l!ut he whose ways are wicked despises him. 

Antithetic, quaternary-ternary (or, ternary). Lit. lie who walks 
in his uprightness (but the his should be omitted), and he who is 
wicked (crooked) /// his wars. That is, the good man shows by 
his conduct that he reverences God who demands uprightness, 
while the bad man practically sets him at defiance. Subject and 
predicate may be reversed, so as to read : lie who fears Yahwch 
is upright . . . he who despises him is bad, and the resulting sense 
is substantially the same as before. The first translation defines 
moral conduct by the man s relation to God, the second defines 
the man s attitude toward God by his moral conduct. The first 
is perhaps favored by the Hebrew order of words. On wicked 
( = crooked, RV. perverse} see note on 2 U . 

3. Discretion in speech. The couplet reads in our Ileb. text : 

In the mouth of the fool is a sprijj of pride, 
l!ut the lips ot the wise preserve them. 

Implicit antithesis, quaternary-ternary (or, ternary). The word 
rendered sprig occurs elsewhere in OT. only in Isa. ii 1 , where it 
signifies a small branch shooting from the stock of a tree : here 
the branch of pride springs from its stem in the fool s mouth. 
The line simply characteri/.es the fool s language as proud ; but, 
as second cl. declares the preservative effect of wise speech, we 


may probably infer that some effect of foolish proud speech is 
implied in first cl., and this effect, according to the parallelism in 
the present Heb. text, touches the fool himself pride harms or 
destroys him (as in it" :6 18 29" ). It may be a question whether 
we should not omit the them in second cl., and interpret : " the 
fool s words are proud (insolent toward others), but the words of 
the wise are helpful (preservative of others)." This would accord 
better with the function ascribed in Pr. to utterance. The Anc. 
Vrss., instead of sprig, have goad or rod. If this translation be 
adopted, we may regard the rod of pride as wounding others (Syr. 
Targ. Ew. Str. and perhaps Grk.), or as a scourge to the fool him 
self (De. Reuss, Zock.), = a rod for pride (Kamp.) ; Hitzig (by 
a change of text) : a rod for his back (cf. 26*, where, however, 
the word rendered rod is different). But the translation rod is 
doubtful, and the expression is not quite natural. The rendering 
insolence (Earth) instead of sprig (or, rod) is not probable. 
Elsewhere the lips of the wise are said to give food (io 21 ), to dis 
pense knowledge (i5 : )> or to keep knowledge (5% here to save 
(cf. io 11 ). As the Heb. verb is sing., De. would assume wisdom 
as subject (the lips of the wise, wisdom preserves them), but this is 
violent and unnecessary ; it is easier to take the verb as plural. 
The proverb, like many others, assumes the identity of speech 
and thought, and enjoins prudence in words. 

4. Importance of the ox for the farmer. Antithetic, binary. 
The Heb. text may perhaps be translated (as in RV.) : 

Where there are no oxen the crib is clean, 

But abundance of produce comes by the strength of the ox. 

This form, however, does not offer a good contrast in the clauses 
we expect: " no oxen, no produce"; the rendering clean (in 
a physical sense) is doubtful (elsewhere, except Cant. 6", the 
word means "morally pure," Job n 4 \j/ 24*, etc.),* and, in any 
case, the sense required is not clean, but empty, a meaning that 
the Heb. term never has ; nor would it be necessary to say that 

* On the use of the word in Cant. 6 9 see the Comms. of Budde (in Marti) and 
Siegfried (in Nowack). In ty iS 20 * 21 ) (=28. 22 21 ) the corresponding noun is em 
ployed to describe the hands, but as a figure of moral purity. 

where there are no oxen the crib is clean. A slight change of 
text gives for the first line the rendering : 

In the second line \ve should expect: " ; many oxen, much prod 
uce," a statement that may be got from the present text, since the 
strength (= working power) of oxen is in proportion to their 
number ; the precise statement is that the crops depend on the 
ox, the animal used in ploughing. The couplet states a fact of 
agricultural economy : a wise fanner will see to it that his oxen 
are numerous and in good condition. Care of animals is implied, 
but not for their sake. The duty of kindness to working animals 
is enjoined in I2 1 " I)t. 25 . 

5. True and false testimony. 

A trustworthy witness does not lie, 
But a false witness utters lies. 

Antithetic, ternary. The thought is identical with that of I2 17 , on 
which see note ; the man makes public affirmation of truth or 
falsehood. The proverb is aimed at the crime of false testifying 
in a court of law. Cf. 6 1 1 14-" 19 . 

6. Wisdom comes only to the serious. 

The scoffer seeks wisdom and finds it not, 

I5ut to the man of understanding knowledge is easy. 

Antithetic, quaternary-ternary. Wisdom = knowledge, acquaint 
ance with right principles and methods, here especially in things 
moral and religious. The term scoffer, as used in Prov., while it 
is often a synonym of wicked, ungodly, always contains the ele 
ment of lack of moral seriousness, and generally, also, that of posi 
tive opposition to truth ; it here stands in contrast with the man 
of understanding, that is, intellectual sobriety and insight, based 
on moral earnestness. The scoffer s desire for wisdom is not 
explained ; the sage means, we may surmise, that he valued it 
because it gave social power and excited admiration he did not 
love it for its own sake, had no real sympathy with it, and there 
fore no receptivity for it (cf. 2 Tim. 3 7 : ever learning and never 
able to come to a knowledge of the truth"). These two classes, 


here as elsewhere in Prov., are assumed as facts no attempt is 
made to analyze the characters, to trace their origin, or to suggest 
methods of training, whereby the one may be strengthened and 
the other transformed. 

7. Text and meaning are uncertain. The Hebrew text more 
naturally reads : 

If thou go from the presence of a foolish man, 
Thou hast not known lips of knowledge. 

The first cl. has the Imperative go, if thou go. If it be taken as 
a command proper, the second cl. must be understood as giving 
the ground of the exhortation : go from . . . for thou hast not ob 
served (in him), etc., but this the Heb. does not warrant. The 
same is true of Saadia s rendering : go from . . . else -wilt thou 
not know. Some (Schult. Ew. RV.) translate : go into the pres 
ence of, which is allowable, but less probable (it does not, how 
ever, change the general sense). As the couplet stands, the 
meaning is that a fool has no knowledge, and that from inter 
course with him one gains nothing. This is an intelligible state 
ment, but the form is strange, and the phraseology of second cl. 
is not natural the expression know lips occurs nowhere else, 
and we expect the explanatory phrase /// him (inserted by RV.). 
- The Anc. Vrss. give various turns to the couplet. Grk. (with 
several variations from the Heb. text) : All things are adverse to 
a foolish man, but wise lips are weapons of discretion, an unsatis 
factory form, followed by Syr. and (with a slight modification) by 
Bickell ; Targ. : Withdraw into another path from the presence of 
a fool, for there is no knowledge in his lips, a simple and natural 
sentence, probably a free translation of our Hebrew ; Lat. : Go 
into the presence of a foolish man, and he knows not lips of pru 
dence, in which the verb knows (3 pers. instead of 2 pers.) may 
be the erroneous transcription of a Latin scribe. These readings 
show that there was difficulty in the Hebrew text, but it is not 
easy to suggest a satisfactory emendation. The second cl. might 
be conformed to 2O 15 : wise lips are a precious adornment, but 
this stands in no relation to the first clause, the form of which in 
the Grk. is not probable ; after 26 we might read in first cl. : 
there is no honor to a fool, but this has no support from Versions. 

XIV. 6-8 285 

The simplest emendation, perhaps, would be : go from the pres 
ence of a fool, for his lips do not utter knowledge ; cf. i5 7 . 

8. Conduct must be carefully considered. The couplet reads 
in our Heb. text : 

The wisdom of a man of sense consists in understanding (or, considering) his 

The folly of fools is deceit. 

Free or loose antithesis, quaternary-ternary (or, ternary). The 
first d. gives the gist of the practical philosophy of the sages : a 
man of good sense shows his wisdom not by fine words and the 
ories or by boldness and display, but in the capacity to consider 
his actions, comprehend their real import, and choose that course 
of conduct which is best adapted to secure happiness. The wis- 
t/om referred to is practical sagacity; there is no mention of 
moral or religious elements, though the second cl. may perhaps 
suggest that these are involved. The second cl. does not offer an 
explicit contrast to the first. We expect the statement that the 
fool shows his folly by the absence of reflection and insight in the 
direction of his affairs, instead of which it is deceit that marks him 
that is, craft, deception practised on others ; such is the mean 
ing of the term in Prov. (see n 1 I2 ul7 -- 14 - 20" 2 6- M ) and 
throughout OT. The contrast would be obvious if we could take 
the word in the sense of "self-deception" (so Berth. E\v. 76ck.), 
but the usage seems not to allow this. We may suppose that the 
sage chooses to pass over the obvious mental incapacity of the 
fool, to characterize him by his moral procedure, and to stigma- 
ti/e or ridicule this as folly folly, he may say, is best shown in 
craft and fraud ; or, reversing subject and predicate, we may un 
derstand the line to say that deceit is essentially folly. Taking a 
suggestion from the (Irk., the line may be read : 

The folly of fools leads them astray, 

which furnishes a direct and natural antithesis, and should per 
haps be adopted. It is possible that the two lines did not origi 
nally stand together in one couplet. 

XIV. 1. ty rtrn, feni. plu. const, of ;rr, is improbable because of the sing. 
vb. nrja and the abstr. sing. r s iN in ; read r-rn, as in y 1 , on which see note. 


BK J is best omitted as gloss to adj. nsan. If a reference to wise and foolish 
women were intended, we should rather expect ncan ni?N (or ncan nc N) and 
nSix. JlJ n^a though logically unnecessary does not mar the rhythm (Hi.). 
On the Vrss. see note on this v. above. 2. The suff. in nu ; ^ may be retained, 
as in %] 28 (on which see note), but is better omitted, as in $? io 9 . On n 1 ? 
see note on 2 15 . <& renders the vb. in by the passive, against the parallelism; 
IL further makes one sentence of the couplet : ambiilans redo itinere el iiniens 
Deuin despicitur ab eo qui infami graditur via. 3. Tjn occurs elsewhere 
only Isa. II 1 , where it = shoot, stem, or branch; the Ileb. word may have had 
the meaning (which the word has in Aram.) rod, though that is probably not 
the sense here, and there is no need to regard our word as Aramaic. The 
sense pride (Barth., Ety/nol. Stud.), though it may have some support from 
Arab. (Tjsn walking with a proud gait) is not favored by Aram, or by the 
connection here; cf. BDB. ftj anss n is probably scribal error for ance P, 
so (5 <j)v\d<T(rfi avrovs; in the similar forms in Ex. 18- Ru. 2 8 the i may be 
miswriting of \ or, more probably, erroneous scribal insertion. 4. riSx is half- 
poetical synonym of ic f . The large a is scribal accident; see note in B-D. 
On the first vowel in Dax see Ols. 87, 175. The stem is apparently denom., 
furnish food; so Partcp. oax, I K. 5 ;i (4 23 ) Pr. I5 17 , provided with food, 
fatted, and subst. Das C, Jer. 5O 26 , a place -where food is kept. But for D3N here 
we should probably read D-TX, taking ia as = corn. On the Mas. pointing of 
13 see Buxt. Com. Crit. 6. (& frjTTja-eis <To<plav wapa KO.KOIS, = ~ cs^a e*|?3 
which accords less well than ft? with b . Spi is Nif. Partcp. or Perf. of S*?p, 
masc. by poetic license, the subj. pjn being fern. 7. L> "u:a is here more 
naturally from. n;n> may be taken as general Present, but, after Impv. ~p, 
we expect Imperf. <@ TTO.VTO., ^3 (for |Q 1 s ), and oir\a, = ^a (for |l| s a). 
In h we may perhaps read: njn vnot (or, -ina 11 ) nf N 1 ? T. 8. |^ |an; Bi. ja; 
<5 t-myvwo-eTai, = jar, or it may be free rendering of JtJ. |tj n-:^-:; (5 tv 
Tr\dvri, perhaps free rendering of JIJ, perhaps = n;-.T, a reading better than 
that of |l). IL = %l; S seems to be affected by 6. 

9. Text and translation are doubtful. The natural rendering 
of the Hebrew is : 

The guilt-offering (or, guilt) mocks fools, 
But among the upright there is good-will. 

The second cl. is clear. Good-will may be divine or human, but 
in the former case the divine name is expressed, as in n 1 12- 15* 
1 8" at,; here the meaning must be that among upright men there 
is kind feeling toward one another, or (with a slight change of 
text), that the upright obtain the favor of other men, that is, are 
prosperous. The subject of second cl. (asham) is susceptible of 
two renderings, both difficult in the connection. The representa 
tion of the sacrifice as mocking the sacrificer is unexampled 

XIV. 9-io 2 8/ 

elsewhere it is God who hates :ind rejects the formal offerings of 
bad and unrepentant men (Am. 5-- Isa. I H ) ; and the verb here 
used is never elsewhere employed in connection with sacrifice. 
Further, the employment of the specific term guilt-offering 
(which, in the later ritual, was confined to particular offences, 
Lev. 5. 6. 19--, RV. trespass-offering} would be somewhat strange. 
If the object had been to say that (loci does not accept the sacri 
fice of the unrighteous, it would seem that a different phrase 
would have been chosen. The rendering guilt mocks fools (K\v.) 
is not natural. Sin is said (Num. 32- :i ), by its consequences, to 
reach men, find them out (Fw. compares the Grk. Nemesis), but 
the sort of personification involved in mocks is violent and with 
out example. Nor is the rendering fools mock at guilt (RV.) 
more satisfactory; it is not at guilt, but at sin (AY.) that bad 
men may be supposed to mock, but the Heb. word is not a nat 
ural expression for sin. None of these translations exhibit a rela 
tion of thought between the two clauses, except by means of a 
forced paraphrase, as : " the offering mockingly leaves fools unac 
cepted, but the upright do not mock one another (or, need no ex 
piatory offering one from another)"; or, "fools insolently laugh 
at the guilt which their wrong-doing incurs, and thus bring hatred 
on themselves, while among the upright there is that kindness 
which is the natural product of well-doing." Grk. (followed by 
Syr.) : the houses of transgressors will owe (= will owe the law, 
will need) purification, hut the houses of the righteous are accept 
able (that is, to God and man) ; Targ. : fools speak in parables of 
sin, but among the upright is faror ; Lat. as AV. Natural forms of 
the couplet would be : 

Fools incur tjuilt, 

(loud men have the favor of (lod; 
or : 

Fools suffer misfortune, 
Ciooil men are prosperous. 

The clauses may be displaced ; the original reading of first cl. is 
lost. For antitheses to the clauses see \\-~ 15". 

10. The Received text is to be translated : 

Every heart knows its own sorrow. 
And no other shares its joy. 


Formal antithesis, with identity of thought, quaternary-ternary 
(or, ternary). Lit. : the heart knows its own bitterness, and no 
stranger, etc. Heart = not the emotional nature, but simply 
man. A simple statement of the familiar fact that every man in 
his deeper feeling stands alone. All experiences are included, 
but there is no special reference to moral or religious emotion ; 
rather (since no religious or ethical term is used) it is the com 
mon, everyday experience that is mainly contemplated. This 
statement of psychological isolation is not at all in conflict with 
the natural obligation of sympathy with others, as expressed, for 
example, in Rom. 12 . For similar proverbs among other nations 
see Malan. In Eng. : "every man knows where the shoe pinches." 
Bickell, on the ground that isolation is natural to sorrow, but 
not to joy, omits the negative in second cl., and reads : others 
share its joy ; but the universality of the Heb. text seems prefer 
able. The Anc. Vrss. have the negative. As second line the Grk. 
has : and when he rejoices, he has no fellowship with (or, there is 
no mingling of) pride, in accordance with which the couplet 
might be rendered : 

Every man knows his sorrow, 

And (therefore) with his joy no pride is mingled; 

that is, the remembrance of sorrow makes one modest and mod 
erate in times of prosperity and joy (see, on the other hand, BS. 
1 1 25 ). This is a proper sentiment, but (even after the change of 
stranger to pride} the construction (when one knows, etc., then, 
etc.) is not naturally suggested by the Hebrew. Cf., however, 
v. 13 of this chapter. To the form of the Heb. it has been ob 
jected that the idea of emotional isolation is foreign to the 
thought of Prov. ; but it is doubtful whether this is a less probable 
conception for the sages than that of the Greek. 

11. The good endure, the bad pass away. 

The house of the wicked will be destroyed, 
But the tent of the upright will flourish. 

Antithetic, ternary. House tent, = dwelling-place, including the 
family-life, and the fortunes in general. The word tent is a sur 
vival from the old nomadic time ; the old rallying-cry was : " to 


your tents, O Israel !" (2 Sam. 20 i K. 12"). On the doctrine 
of permanence and impermanence see notes on r ! - ;;! al. 

12 Vice is a road that leads to death. 

Ternary-binary. Identity in subject, antithesis in predicate, = "a 
way seemingly straight, but really fatal " or, complete antithesis, 
" the beginning of the way is straight, the end of it is death. 1 
The figure is that of a journey, in which the traveller imagines 
that lie is pursuing a straight path that will lead him to his 
desired goal of success and happiness, but finds, too late, that it 
leads to earthly death, that is, to the destruction of happiness. 
The substitution of the ethical term right (RV.) for straight aban 
dons the figure. The thought of the proverb is the illusive char 
acter of an immoral life : it seems to promise wealth, power, 
happiness, while its inevitable issue is destruction wickedness 
fails, righteousness succeeds; see 2" 5^ f 9 1S IO :! a!.; the 
couplet occurs again at 16- . The process or method of delusion 
is not described. In second cl. the Heb. has plur. ways (or, 
roat/s). If the text be correct (we should perhaps read sing., 
with Targ.), the plur. is poetic conception of the road as consist 
ing of numerous paths ; it is not intended to indicate that immo 
rality leads by many paths to death, while to life there is one way 
only; against this interpretation is the sing, way in first cl. (cf. 
Mt. 7 U ). C.rk. : the end of it goes into the depths of Hades. 
There is no reference to punishment in the other world. On end 
see note on 5 . 

13. Alternation of joy and sorrow in human life. 

Kven in laughter tin- heart may be sad, 
And tin.- rnd cil joy may be sorrow. 

Identical parallelism, binary-ternary (or, ternary). The text may 
be rendered: . . . the heart is sad . . . the end . . . is sorrow. 
The proverb will then say that joy always passes into sorrow, a 
pessimistic utterance, hardly in place in this P.ook. Nor docs the 
sage mean to say that there is a deep-lying sadness in the human 


soul which springs from a sense of the vanity of life (De.). This 
is a conception found nowhere else in OT., not even in Eccles., 
in which, while life is regarded as vanity, there is no distinct refer 
ence to a universal sense of failure ; the OT. generally looks on 
life as a good gift of God, and expects, by the divine blessing, to 
find it full of joy (3 18 5 " $ 16"). Nor, as Reuss remarks, can 
there be reference here to a pervading sense of sin as the cause 
of sadness ; this conception also is foreign to OT. (and to NT. as 
well, Mt. 6 :14 Rom. 12" Phil. 4* Eph. 5* Jno. 14 ). The verse 
probably speaks of the alternations of ordinary experiences, and 
the mixed nature of emotions, and doubtless means to suggest 
that men should not be surprised at the occurrence of these alter 
nations, or yield themselves irrationally to either sort of emotion 
(cf. v. lu ). The assertion of Eccl. f, that sorrow is better than 
laughter, represents a different conception of life. 

14. Deeds determine fortune. 

The bad man reaps the fruit of his acts, 

The good man (enjoys the outcome) of his < deeds. 

Antithesis of subject, ternary-binary. Lit. : From his ways the 
bad man is sated, and from himself the good man. Instead of the 
improbable from himself we may read, by the insertion of one 
letter, from his deeds (Grk. from his thoughts} ; to take the Heb. 
expression as meaning that the good man finds sufficient reward 
in his inward experiences would be against the manner of thought 
of Prov., which everywhere contemplates outward recompense ; 
cf. Isa. 3 . In first cl. the subject is lit. he who in mind turns 
aside (that is, from the path of right) = the disobedient or wicked 
or bad man (Zeph. i ; \}/ 44 I8(1;|) ) ; RV. backslider conveys the 
wrong impression of an apostate, one who declines from or aban 
dons his own previous position of moral right ; the Hebrew ex 
pression here implies simply non-adherence to the right. On 
good see note on 13 "; on the doctrine of the verse cf. 2- 1 ~ al,, 
Gal. 6 7 . 

15, 16. Necessity of thoughtfulness and prudence. Cf. 2 a 3 
(= 2 7 11! )- 

15. The simpleton believes every word, 

But the man of sense takes heed to his step. 

XIV. 13-iG 2QT 

1 6. The wise man is cautious, and avoids misfortune, 
But the fool is arrogant and confident. 

15. Explicit antithesis of subject, implicit antithesis of predicate, 
ternary. Simpleton is the person untrained, unformed intellectu 
ally (i 1 22 : ]]/.. 45-" i/> I9 7 " ) or morally ( r- (f) ; the term is here 
used in the former sense, in contrast with the thoughtful, prudent 
man. The point of view of i Cor. ij 7 is different: love has a 
largeminded, though not blind, trust in men; the simpleton is 
credulous, the man of love is sympathetic. 16. Antithetic, ter 
nary. The reference, as in the preceding verse, is to intellectual 
qualities such is the intimation of second clause. Is cautious ; 
lit. fears. Misfortune (or, harni) is lit. evil, a term used in OT. 
in the widest sense. In second cl. the first adj. is lit. passing 
beyond bounds ; the verb usually = to be angrv (l)t. 3-" \p yS- 1 " 1 - 
S9 :N:!; "), and the Partcp. in 26 17 get excited, get into a passion ; 
for the meaning arrogant (which is suggested by the synonym 
confident} see the corresponding substantive in ii- ;! 2i 24 Isa. 16 
Jer. 48 ". Other proposed renderings are presumptuous, insolent, 
passionately excited. In first cl. \l fears had been meant in a 
religious sense, the divine name would have been added ; see 3 7 
14- 3i ;! ", and cf. i 7 8 1:! i6 ; 22 al. The word here = "is appre 
hensive (of men and things) and on his guard." The predicates 
may be written : cautiously avoids and is arrogantly confident. 
Instead of arrogant the Grk. has mingles with, and Frank, renders : 

The wise man guards himself anxiously against evil, 
Hut the fool lightly takes part therein, 

eril being taken as = wicked conduct. The context (v. 1 " 1 17 - )S ) 
favors the translation given above. 

9. 11) V s -; (P o<pfi\T]ffovviv. perh. some form of 3n. In (p has otVt cu 
(-3) for %} p3, and it introduces this word in "; the resulting couplet is intelli 
gible, but not probable. A simpler reading, based on (p, would be: 13m a -nx 
^i z-vj"^ z- X; this assumes that the fi-i exists, for the upright, without srx. 
read }^\ but renders it by pr-, taking the stem in the sense .r/w/- in 
/ iraM-s. Lag. changes (?) KaOapurrfv to KaOvfipiff^v, and gives as He 1 ,), 
text of (5: nr: nx <L ": S "IN. See Baum. $ has two forms of the couplet, one 
= (3, the other nearer to 1i|; the second reads: fools commit (13;-) sin, but 
t!u- sons (\J3 for |i) j-;) etc.; for v 1 " it had, perhaps, some form of ^; ("hardly 
a form of v^;-). Ciriit/., p ; 1 Yank. =U ; N ]^ -i pr but the p- is hardly appo- 


s it e> 10. JtJ > ; & vfipei, P > adopted by Frank.; see note on this v. 

above. The suff. in tires might then be omitted. 11. %] rno ; trrri- 
ffovrcu; Gr. suggests nrp have free space. SIN, in Heb. tent; thence, in 
Arab., family, people; cf. Ass. alti,-city. \Z. $? 3~n; probably to be 
read, with 3T, sing. 13. For |Q 3^ 3W Gr. proposes v^ 3x3-. |tj nmnx 
nncc*; the n is probably not anticipatory suffix (though it may have been 
added by an Aramaic-speaking scribe, see 13*), and is not to be prefixed, as 
art., to following word (which would be against the usage of Pr.), but is better 
deleted as scribal inadvertence. Before verb of a inserts the neg., which 
may be the slip of a scribe (Lag.), or may come from v. 10 , or from an altered 
Heb. text. & attaches suff. to nTOB>. 14. ? iSys; read 1^3:: (Ue. Str. 
Kamp.). On Sicu/oTj/idrwi/ (hardly = v^yz, possibly V s ; , taken as = what 
is in him} see Capp. Crit. 4, 17. 6, Buxt. Anticrit. 579, Jag. Lag. Baum.; on 
& cf. Pinkuss. For the combination of -pn and SSys see Ju. 2 19 Hos. 4 Jer. 4 18 
! 7 io 3 2 19 Ez. 3& 21 Zech. I 4 - 8 al. 15. $ ^s; &KO.KOS, ignorant of evil, 
simpleminded in good sense; and, on other hand, iravovpyos takes D-; in 
bad sense. In , iravovpyos 8t tpxerai els nerdvoiav, it is not clear what 
Heb. is represented by e/s /oier.; Jag. i::rN L ; Schl., = $; Heid., nas nV. 
S2T take |^ wrN as from Ti N good fortune ; ILgressusis preferable. 1L adds 
the couplet given in I3 2 . 16. $ 13>TO is read by (followed by ? 
Frank.) as 3ij?nn (Capp. Crit., 4, 7. 3), avtuy being addition of translator; 

17, 18. Good sense versus irascibility and stupidity. 

17. A quick-tempered man acts foolishly, 
But a wise man < endures. 

1 8. Simpletons come into possession of folly, 
But men of sense < acquire > knowledge. 

17. Antithetic, ternary. In second cl. the Heb. has : and a 
schemer (or, a man of wicked devices} is hated. According to 
this reading the proverb compares two bad dispositions by their 
outcome and by the impression they make on men. The quick 
tempered man (he who is easily angered, RV. soon angry) often 
acts foolishly, and thus loses the respect of his fellows ; the ma 
licious plotter, on the other hand, is hated. But a better contrast 
is obtained if (by the omission of one Heb. letter) we read (with 
the Grk.) a man of thought endures, bears much without getting 
angry. The verb bear, endure is used absolutely in Isa. i 14 46* 
Jer. 44 ffi (and cf. Pr. 19"). In the subj. of second cl. the term 
thought (or, schemes, plans } may be understood in a good sense 
(hence wise man), or in a bad sense (hence wicked plotter) ; see 

XIV. i 7 -20 293 

note on the word in i 4 ; it is understood by all Anc. Vrss. except 
Lat. in the good sense. The antithesis is chiastic : an^rv is con 
trasted with endures, and foolish with wise. 18. Antithetic, ter 
nary. Simpleton, as in v. 1 . In first cl. the verb should not be 
rendered by inherit (RY.), which may suggest the incorrect inter 
pretation that the silly, unformed man falls heir to folly without 
effort, while the man of reflection or good sense acquires knowl 
edge only by exertion ; the proverb affirms merely that a thought 
less person is ignorant and foolish, while a man who understands 
the needs of life gains knowledge. The translation in second cl. 
are crowned with knowledge, or, wear knowledge as a crown* 
while it gives the same general sense as that of the emendation 
here adopted, is lexicographically doubtful. 

19. Triumph of goodness. 

The had bow before the good, 

And the wicked at the gates of the righteous. 

Identical parallelism, ternary. In second cl. we may supply some 
such verb as stand suppliant. The adjectives are all to be under 
stood in the ethical sense. The form of expression is taken from 
Oriental custom : the inferior prostrates himself before the supe 
rior, or waits humbly at the great man s gate to implore his favor. 
The doctrine (based on belief in the immediate intervention of 
God) that moral goodness must in this life triumph externally 
over wickedness was held by Jewish philosophy till it accepted 
the broader doctrine of ethical immortality (Wisd. Sol. 2-5). 

20, 21. Evils and claims of poverty. Antithetic, ternary. 

20. The poor man is hated even by his neighbor, 
l!ut the rich has many friends. 

21. He wlio despises his neighbor sins, 

IJut lie who lias pity on the poor, happy is he. 

20. J\eig)i!>or is any one who stands in close social relations, from 
whom, therefore, sympathy may be expected < Lu. io ;: ). Hated 
is probably to be taken literally, = "detested" as a troublesome 
and obstructive person: possibly, however, = " relatively disre- 

* Theod. Tars. Saacl. Kaslii, Lutli. RV. Scliult. Do Wette. Xoycs,, De. 
Kamp. Frank, al. 


garded " (cf. Lu. 14^ with Mt. lo 37 ). The second cl. is lit. : the 
lovers of the rich are many. The proverb states, without com 
ment, a universal social fact. 21. Neighbor, as in the preceding 
verse, only he is here a person to whom sympathy is due, and it 
is assumed that he is poor; despise ( contemptuously neglect 
and repel) is substantially hate. The first cl., thus, passes judg 
ment on the coldhearted " neighbor " of v. L>0 , declaring that he 
sins against the law of God (see notes on i 10 S 3 "). The parallel 
ism of the two proverbs points to the rendering poor (RV.) in 
second cl. (= physically poor), though the Heb. word may also 
mean afflicted, suffering in a general sense (De. Kamp. a/.). As 
he who despises the poor sins against God, so he who is kind to 
him is happy (not in the consciousness of well-doing, but) in the 
favor of God, who will reward such beneficence. Here we see 
the starting-point for the later view (Dan. 4 24(27) ) that almsgiving 
has expiatory efficacy, and for the use of righteousness as = alms 
giving (Mt. 6 1 ). 

17. |$ rsrs N is taken in good sense by the Vrss., except 61L. $? N;:P; 
viro<t>tpei; read NB" 1 ; Hi. JNS< is quiet ; Ew., against the usage, NV^I (= niu") 
bears himself quietly, endures (he refers to i/ I3I 2 ). IL = $?. On <S> (= <S) 
see Pink. { paraphrases |tj, only taking 2 in good sense, and NT-" as Qal, 
making subj. in a the same as in b . 18. For $J T^:r neither the Heb. 
meaning surround (as = get possession of, cf. Ez. 2i 14 ) nor the Aram, wait 
for (Job 36-) is here appropriate. The denom. sense, from nro crown 
(favored by a large number of authorities, ancient and modern) is more 
appropriate; but this use, which occurs nowhere else, is of doubtful correct 
ness, nor does it furnish an exact or specially apt antithesis to the iSru of a . 
The term for crown in Pr. (4 9 I2 4 I4 24 i6 31 ly 6 ) is HTJ; ; the noun nro may 
be Heb. (cf. nr>i a capital, I K. 7 16 , and Ass. kudur, a sort of cap or head- 
covering [De. Ass. \VbchJ\), but, as it occurs only in Esth., and as, according 
to Suidas, Ktdapis was said to be a Persian term for royal or priestly crown, it 
may be Persian. The Pers. word may, however, come from the Babylonian. 
nldapis (= Kira/Hs), it seems, meant also a felt hat, a sense which Bab. kudur 
might well have. Cf. Lag. Gesamm. Abhandl. 207. De. compares post-Bibl. 
iroD giver of frowns, and njnn 1,13 crown of knowledge. Bi. r\y buy, which 
is not decidedly apposite; Gr. n^sm glory (as he and Cheyne read in \l/ 142 s ), 
also unsatisfactory. The connection calls for the sense acquire, but the reading 
is uncertain; we should, perhaps, emend to isri" or i2*i", or to irnx*, which 
(5 Kpa.Trjffovffti may represent. 19. The Anc. Vrss., except 1L, supply a verb 
in : (5 Oepairfvffovffiv; J5tT jpj come. 20. In |ty injriS the ^ expresses gen 
eral relation, = in respect to, for. The cl. may be rendered : even to his 

XIV. 20-22 2Q5 

;?t /< r ///w ///( poor man is a haled person. 21. :;; an<l i;y are identical in 
meaning throughout < >T. In 1 rov. Keth. always gives the former (3 :il 14- 
J-K. jtjr.i 22-- jo 14 }! -"), the latter is^ivcn by Oeri in 3 ; " 14- Ib 1 1 . Possibly 
tlie Massorctcs in the last-named passages, and in -^ <y : - > io vj , take -;; in a 
physical and i;;; in a religious sense (cf. the opposite change in i/> Q 1 ^ 1 * ); the 
distinction is unwarranted, and it is difficult to see why they have altered the 
text in just these passages. S ("B-) understand the term in the physical 
sense. In i// y 1 - 1 S> has jrD*:, J" the vl>. :;:. (5 :1 TrfV^ras perhaps represents 
C""i (instead of ii;" 1 ), but may be interpretative assimilation to the TTTWXOI/S 
of . 1L adds at end the gloss: qiti credit in Domino misericordiam Jiligit. 

22. Recompense of beneficence and maleficence. 

I )o not they go astray who devise evil ? 

] >ut they who devise good meet with kindness and faithfulness. 

Antithetic, ternary. The interrogative form is emphatic, = rerily, 
thcv go iis/ra] . The derived sense devise is here better than the 
more primitive ci/f, carrc (Reuss), or flongii (K\v.) ; devise evil, 
devise good are general expressions for planning and doing wrong 
and right. The figure in go astray is that of travel : the bail man 
wanders hopelessly, and the expression may be rendered : go to 
destruction. The expression kindness and faithfulness (or, as 
hendiadys, faitlifnl kindness) denotes honest, constant, friendly 
dealing, on the part of man or of God ; see Gen. 47-- (Jacob asks 
of Joseph), Jos. 2" (the spies promise Rahab), 2 Sam. 15-" (Da 
vid s farewell to Ittai), 2 Sam. 2 (David s greeting to the men of 
Jabesh-Gilead) ; the phrase occurs in Pr. $ (on which see note) 
16 2o - N , in which passages the reference is to human relations, 
and such is probably the sense here. The proverb affirms that 
bad men are without the friendly help of their fellows, while good 
men meet with kindness. The translation inerey and tnttli (RV.) 
may be retained for its beauty, if it be understood in the sense 
given above. The Grk. (followed by Syr.) has two forms of the 
couplet. One follows the consonants of the Hebrew, but changes 
the grammatical forms : 

I hry who err devise evil, 

Hut the good devise mercy and truth. 

The other departs more widely from the IK brew: 

The workers of evil know not mercy and faith, 

l!ut acts of kindness and faith belong to good workers. 


In second cl. the Lat. has : mercy and truth devise good. These 
readings offer no satisfactory suggestions for changes of the 

23. Work versus talk. 

In all labor there is profit, 

But mere talk tends only to penury. 

Antithetic, ternary. In second cl., lit. : the talk of the lips is 
only, etc. The Grk. interprets : he who is merry and careless can 
only come to penury. The verse (the simple reflection of which 
seemed bald) is paraphrased by the Syr. in a distinctly religious 
sense : /;/ all thine anxiety there is one thing which is profitable, 
(namely,) he in whose life there is lack shall have repose and com 
fort; the Lord heals every sorrow ; but the talk of the lips of the 
wicked brings them to penury. This is quite in the manner of the 
Jewish Midrash (but the Targ. here is literal). Lagarde thinks 
the paraphrase the work of a Christian scribe who had in mind 
Lu. i6 1!W1 (parable of Lazarus) io 4 - (Mary s "good part"). The 
proverb simply inculcates industry. 

24. Coronets of sages and fools. The Hebrew reads : 

The crown of the wise is their riches, 
The folly of fools is folly, 

which must be taken to mean that wealth is an ornament to those 
who wisely use it (better : -wealth is the [or, a} crown, etc.), and 
that folly, when accompanied by wealth, remains always folly. 
But this interpretation requires too much to be supplied, and the 
statement of first cl. is strange ; elsewhere in Pr. the crown is the 
honor bestowed by wisdom (4"), or a good wife (i2 4 ), or the hoary 
head (i6 31 ), or grandchildren (if) ; wealth is bestowed by wis 
dom (3 16 8 IS ), or is the reward of piety (22 4 ), but not elsewhere 
an ornament to wise men. The interpretation "wealth is that 
crown of honor which is bestowed by wisdom " (4" 3 ) seems 
farfetched the line here refers to the use made of wealth by the 
wise. A couple of changes in the Hebrew (based on the Grk.) 
give the reading : 

The crown of the wise is their wisdom, 
The diadem of fools is their folly. 

XIV. 22-26 


This offers a natural antithesis (ternary). In second cl. Targ. has : 
the glory of fools ; Syr. : the subversion, etc. Cf. HS. 13- : M ealth 
is good for him who is without sin, and poverty is bad in the 
nwutli(?} of the pious (or, according to another reading, the 

25. True testimony saves, false testimony slays. Our Hebrew 

reads : 

A true witness saves lives, 

But he who utters lies is (= causes) deception. 

Antithetic, ternary. Instead of is deception we may read : de 
ceives. The reference is to legal procedures. Truthful testimony 
saves men from death (when they are unjustly accused), and in 
general from loss and misfortune, while false testimony, according 
to the present Heb. text, deceives the judges and the public, and 
thus brings ruin or loss on innocent persons. Similar sayings are 
6 1 1 I2 1 i4 r> . But the form of second cl. is grammatically unsatis 
factory, and does not give a clear antithesis to first clause. It is 
probably better, by a slight change of the Heb., to read : 

But he \vho utters lies destroys. 

26, 27. The preservative power of godly fear. 

26. He who fears Yalnveh has strong ground of confidence, 
And his children will have a refuge. 

27. The fear of Vahweh is a fountain of life, 
Whereby one avoids the snares of death. 

26. Continuous parallelism, ternary, or quaternary-ternary. 
The Heb. has : //; the fear of YaJnveh is, etc., but this gives 
no antecedent for the //is of second cl., which cannot refer to 
Yahu<eh ; the usage of Prov., and the parallel aphorism, 2O 7 , show 
that the children of the God-fearing man are meant: such pas 
sages as I)t. 14 (Kw.). i// 73 r> , in which Israelites are called "sons 
of God," have no bearing on this verse. Nor is it satisfactory to 
consider the /u s as referring to a he who fears contained implicitly 
in the fear (I)e. Sir. al.} ; this is rhetorically hard and unnatural. 
If the unity of the couplet is to be preserved, it is better (with 
Luther) to change the text and read as above. To/w Yalr^eh is 
to have reverent regard for his law, with its rewards and punish 
ments, and this ensures his protection. The second cl. involves 


the idea of solidarity and inheritance, according to which children 
reap the fruits of the father s deeds (Ex. 2O 5 r> , and contra, Dt. 24 1(i 
Jer. 3 1 29 Ez. i8 J ). It is less likely that the reference is to the 
good training of pious fathers, whereby their children learn to fear 
God and thus have him as a refuge ; this, if it were the sage s 
thought, would be distinctly expressed. 27. Continuous, ternary 
or quaternary-ternary. Lit. : to avoid. The couplet is identical 
with 1 3 U , with substitution of the fear of Yahweh for the law of 
the wise, the two things being regarded in Prov. as mutually equiv 
alent, and as of equal authority (cf. BS. iQ 20 ). The teaching of 
the sage rests on his own observation and conviction, but it 
involves the recognition of God as the supreme source of truth. 
The change of figure {fountain and snares} is not rhetorically bad. 

28. Population the measure of strength. 

A numerous people secures the king s glory, 
But lack of people entails his destruction. 

Antithetic, ternary (or, binary). Lit. : in the multitude of people 
is . . . but in the lack . . . is the destruction of the prince (De., 
unnecessarily and improbably, the destruction of his glory) . This 
political observation, which suits any time, refers to industrial 
activity and international wars, and declares that wealth and mili 
tary strength are the decisive factors in national political life a 
purely human point of view, standing in contrast with that of the 
prophets and psalmists; see Isa. 7" io u 37 20 14 " 49 7 Ez. 39 s * 
1610 - Cf.v. 

29-33. Various exhibitions of wisdom and folly. 

29. lie who is slow to anger shows great wisdom, 
He who is of hasty temper shows great folly. 

30. A tranquil mind is the life of the body, 
But passion is rottenness of hones. 

31. He who oppresses the poor reviles his Maker, 
I le honors him who has mercy on the needy. 

32. The wicked is overthrown by his wickedness, 
But the righteous may trust < to his integrity. 

33. Wisdom takes up its abode in the mind of men of sense, 
And < folly in the mind of fools. 

XIV. 26-31 2Q9 

29. Antithetic, ternary. U is t /in is, more exactly, good sense ; 
the irascible man is characterized as a fool on general principles of 
personal and social well-being. In second line the verb of our 
Heb. text is lit. lifts up, exalts, which (if the text be retained) is 
best understood * as = increases ( = is full ( >f, />n /igs to a high 
pifc/i), ory as = proclaims aloud ; in any case the sense is that 
hasty temper is a sign of lack of sense ; the renderings : takes 
folly up (as it lies before his feet) } and carries folly au>ay (receives 
it as his portion in life). while they give the same general mean 
ing, are not favored by the parallelism. The text should probably 
be changed so as to read increases. 30. Antithetic, quaternary- 
ternary. Tranquil mind is lit. heart of healing, a mind or na 
ture which soothes its possessor; its opposite is an excitable, 
passionate disposition which keeps the man in turmoil, which is to 
the soul as caries to the bones. Body (\\\.. flesh) and bones stand 
for the man s whole being (as often elsewhere), and are not to be 
understood (De.) as referring to the close relation between body 
and mind ; this physiologico-psychological observation is not found 
in OT. The rendering passion (for the word which often means 
envy, jealousy, indignation) is suggested by the connection (the 
term expresses the opposite of tranquillity) ; for a similar sense cf. 
F;/. 5 1;! Isa. 42 1;! Cant. 8 . Jealousy (if this translation be adopted) 
will express the pain one feels at the success of others ; but we 
should then expect in the first cl. the opposite feeling (sympathy, 
well-wishing). 31. Chiastic antithesis, ternary. The his may 
refer to the subject /"-, or to the poor ; in the former case, the 
insult to Cod consists in the violation of his command to be good 
to the poor, in the latter case the consideration is that neglect of 
the creature is offence to the Creator. In either case the familiar 
duty is based on religious grounds, but in the latter case (as De. 
remarks) there is the implied recognition of a common humanity 
the needy man is not merely an object of passing sympathy, he 
is respected as a creation of the divine wisdom. A similar idea is 
found in Mai. j 1 ", and an exact parallel in Job 31 ; in the well- 
known hymn of Cleanthes all men are said k> be sons of Cod. 
Here a practical turn is given to the conception. Cf. 17 IQ " 

* So (Irk. TaiL, . Syr. l- lcisd). Rump, 
t With Sdiult. Rcuss. 


BS 4 r - 6 (in which a special prudential motive is introduced). 
Maker is a divine name of the late reflective literature (Isa. 51 
54 Job 4 17 35 10 (f/ 95) ; Hos. 8 14 Isa. if, in which also the word 
occurs, are probably late editorial insertions. 32. Antithetic, 
ternary. In the reading given above (which follows the Grk.) 
the contrast is the common one between the results of righteous 
ness and wickedness, the second cl. affirming that a good man, on 
account of his integrity, has ground to expect the protection of 
God. This does not involve self-righteousness (De.), but is sim 
ply the general teaching of Prov. as to the reward of the righteous. 
As the text stands, it must be rendered : 

The wicked is overthrown by his calamity, 
But the righteous has hope (even) in his death, 

in which the contrast is between the absoluteness of the fall of a 
wicked man, and the confidence or trust which the good man has 
even in the greatest of calamities. One objection to this render 
ing is that the term hope (or, trust, confidence) is nowhere else used 
absolutely, but always with the addition of the object or ground 
of hope (30^ Isa. 3O 2 if/ n8 8 a!.). But the chief difficulty lies in 
the necessity of defining hope in accordance with the usage of 
Proverbs. The book does not recognize a joyful immortality, but 
everywhere retains the old idea of Sheol, and regards death as a 
misfortune. What hope could the righteous have for the here 
after? Delitzsch suggests that, though there was then no revela 
tion of true immortality, yet the pious trusted God, and fell asleep, 
believing that they were going home to him ; this, however, is but 
another way of saying that they had the hope of immortal life. 
We must either suppose that Prov. here announces a doctrine 
which is ignored in the rest of the book, or we must recognize an 
erroneous reading in the Hebrew text. A slight change gives the 
reading of the Grk. 33. Antithetic, ternary. Lit. : In the heart 
( = mind} of the intelligent man -wisdom reposes (or, is at rest}, 
but in the mind (or, inward parf) of fools it makes itself known 
(or, is made known}. Since the meaning cannot be that true 
wisdom is possessed by fools, the / / (= wisdom} of second cl. 
must be understood (according to the present text) in a sarcastic 
or ironical or humorous sense, and known must express a contrast 

XIV - 


to rcfflscs, so that we may paraphrase : " a man of sense, not 
being ambitious to gain applause, keeps his wisdom to himself 
(reserving it for fit occasion), while a fool, anxious to shine, or 
ignorant of propriety, airs what he thinks his wisdom at every 
opportunity." IJut this paraphrase contains too much explanation, 
and the employment of wisdom in a sarcastic sense is unexampled 
and improbable ; moreover the expression // makes itself known in 
the mind of fools is strange and hard. Cf. i2 L ; , where a sentiment 
of this sort is clearly expressed. The Grk. (followed by Syr.) 
inserts the negative, and says that it is not known in fools, while 
the Targ. reads : folly is known (or, makes itself known] ; these 
emendations offer an intelligible statement, but they leave the 
strange term known, which yields no satisfactory sense. The Lat. 
gives the bold interpretation : // will teach fools also (cf. S" ), which, 
however, the Heb. cannot mean. The rendering : (that which is) 
in (tie inward part of fools is made known (Schult. RV.) is syn 
tactically highly improbable, if not impossible. The present text 
seems impracticable ; the change of is known to folly (not a vio 
lent one in the Hebrew) gives a syntactically natural sentence, 
with a sense substantially that of 13 " 14* 15- - " (and cf. Keel. 7 - ) : 
practical wisdom is the permanent possession of men who have a 
true perception of the relations of life, while folly in conduct 
(r.S tf) characterizes those who are intellectually dull C?c:). The 
distinction between perception and conduct is made elsewhere in 
Prov. (io- ;! 14 s a/.). 

34, 35. Relation of nations and kings to integrity and 

I lie kind s lavor is bestowed on a servant who acts intelligently, 
His ani^er rests on one who conducts affairs liadly. 

34. Antithetic, ternary, ftightroitsncss here = general moral 
integrity, its opposite is sin ; cxa//s = gives prosperity and power ; 
disgrace = that which produces contempt, namely, on account of 
lack of national vigor and power. The sentiment is substantially 
that of the prophets, that national prosperity accompanies obedi 
ence to divine law only, there is here no reference to the specific 
Israelitish Law, and the relation between integrity and success is 


conceived under the general laws of social life. It is not clear 
whether there is reference to the nation as a political unit, whether, 
that is, we have here a principle of international ethics ; but, as 
such a principle is nowhere else stated in OT., the reference is 
probably intranational. The recognition of the necessity of in 
tegrity in the life of the people is distinct and noteworthy ; the 
motive, as elsewhere in Prov., is utilitarian : morality is commer 
cially and socially profitable. 35. Antithetic, ternary. In first 
cl. the predicate is who acts cleverly, skilfully, that is, in adminis 
trative affairs; the contrasted predicate is who acts badly, that 
is, is incompetent. Sewant any subordinate, here an official 
person. The verse may be rendered : 

A clever servant has the king s favor, 
An incompetent one his displeasure. 

22. p? Ni^n is not expressed in any Anc. Vrs. (j& xSi> % the godless, and so (), 
but is good in sense and rhythm. For fj lyrv Hi. proposes i>"v, and for "> n Gr. 
suggests ia>Tn a 1 ?^; neither of these emendations is a distinct improvement of 
|. Before isnn in b insert h (cf. I3 18 16) ; so <5- On the double rendering 
in <5$S see Lag. Baum. Pink. Lag. regards the second form in <& as original, 
but this is not clear. 23. (5 appears not to give a double translation of |t) a 
(Lag.), but to render JQ CTO. nai freely by ^5i)s KCU dvd\yr)Tos. On Si (which 
follows 6, but also gives $ paraphrastically) cf. Pink. 24. $ a oir;-; 
<5 -rravovpyos; read asi!? or cnsi". iltj 1 nSix (first occurrence), rendered 
freely by <5 Siarpi^l read n^ (i 9 4 9 )- The second N is better written 
DnS-iN. pj rune; read, with Hi., nois destroys. 26. |i) mm nx-va; read 
> N-yS, to gain an antecedent for the suffix in following via. 27. f$ n ?T.; 
6 irp6ffTayfj.a, = mr, as in 13" (Jag. Baum.). 28. |1? ] n, only here; else 
where (8 15 31* Ju. 5 3 Hab. I 10 Isa. 4O- 3 ^ 2 2 ) |n; the stem (see the Arab.) 
= heavy, weighty, powerful; <S dvvdffTov; f Dnp (vpbvoos) provider, leader 
(so Heb. n;-i); S> 1^; 11 principis ; cf. name of Syr. king }n, I K. n - 3 . 
29. |1] a-v:; i<rxvp6s (Icrxvpus B ab N c - a A); 2T "JD, apparently = nain (Gr.), 
which we should probably here read. 30. <S a (followed by J5) irpq.v0vfj.os 
dvrjp KapSias larpbs is free rendering of |D, the two first words ($) a-jtra "n) 
having been conformed, by scribal caprice, to the beginning of v.- 9 , na.Kp66vfj.os 
dv/ip, and taken as subject; for |Q NBID 3 s (5 appears to have read aS sic. 

31. $J P" i ; (S 6 <ruKo0ai/TaJj . H and pax do not occur in chs. 1-9. 
32. %l \^ba noh; 6 irfiroiO&s rfj eavrov 6(Ti6rr;Tt; read inna (Bi. Kamp. 
Frank.). 33. flj y 1 ^; read r^ix. For dr5p6s, in (5 <?P Kapdlq. dyaGrj dvdpbs 
crania, Jag. proposes ?ve5pos, which would satisfactorily represent fQ njn (see 
Lag.). 34. %} ion (apparently an Aramaism) ; <5 f\a<Tffovov<ri, = ion (Jag.). 

35. $ imari; <S T-J 5^ eai/roO evarpoQlq., = irsnyi (Jag.). (5 has another 
rendering of b in 15 : tpyi] dTriNXvertc Kai (ppovlfj-ovs (jas), 

XIV. 34-XV. 4 303 

XV. 1. Fewer of gentleness. 

A suit answer turns away wrath, 
liut harsh words stir up anger. 

Antithetic, ternary. .SV// = niikl, gentle ; see 25 " . Tunis away ; 
cf. 29" 24 1S Jer. iS L> "; one Greek text has causes to cease ( de 
stroys). Harsh (RV. grievous} is that which produces vexation 
or pain. Hindu, Chinese, Greek and other parallels to this prov 
erb are given by Malan ; see also Ptah-hotep (in Art. Egyptian 
Lit., in Lib. of World s Best Lit.}. To this couplet the Grk. 
prefixes a modified form of second cl. of 14 " : anger destroys even 
the wise. 

2. Speech of sage and fool. 

The tongue of the wise i dispenses > knowledge, 
The mouth of fools utters folly. 

Antithetic, quaternary (or, ternary). Dispenses is lit. drops (^ 
Job 29 - - Am. y lu lv/.. 2o 4li [21 - ] al.), for which the Heb. has makes 
good, that is, does or treats in a good, excellent way, RV. uttercth 
aright; this does not give so exact a contrast to utters as the read 
ing here adopted, which is obtained by a slight change in one 
Heb. letter. The reference is to all wisdom and folly, religious 
and other. Cf. IO - "- ::I - :! - i2 ls 14 . 

3. God s criticism of life. 

I lie eyes of Yahweh are in every place, 
Keeping watch on wicked and good. 

Continuous, ternary. The Participle in second cl. is used of the 
watchman of a city (2 K. 9 17 Isa. 52"), of the prophet as moral 
and religious critic (K/,. 3 K ), of the wife as guardian of the house 
hold (3i- r ), and the verb of God as observer of men (i// 66 : ). 
This universal divine criticism is adduced as a warning against 
wrong-doing (De.) : Yahweh will punish the bad and reward the 
good nothing escapes his eye. Possibly also (Frank.) the 
couplet is aimed at the philosophical theory that God looks with 
indifference on human actions (Epicureanism). 

4. Gentle speech. 

A soothing tongue is a tree of life, 
Hut violent words wound the soul. 


Antithetic, ternary. Soothing tongue is lit. the healing of the 
tongue, that is, its utterance which has power to heal or soothe 
the feelings of others, becoming thus to them a source of enjoy 
able life ; the t\vo terms of the Heb. expression should perhaps 
be inverted, so as to read a tongue of healing (such is the order 
in 1 4 * , a heart of healing}. RV. wholesome tongue ; De. gentle 
ness of tongue. On tree of life see note on 3". The Heb. of 
second cl. reads lit. : but riolence (RV. pervcrseness} therein (that 
is, in the tongue) is a breaking of the spirit, a crushing or wound 
ing of the man to whom or of whom such words are spoken : 
spirit = inner being or personality ; for the expression see Isa. 
65 u (RV. vexation of spirit}. Violent is that which passes 
beyond the line of right, the immoderate, extravagant, or false ; 
see note on n 3 , and, for the corresponding verb, notes on 13" 19 
2 1 12 22 12 . The parallelism here favors the sense immoderate (so 
the Lat.) or violent, which gives a contrast "like that in v. 1 . The 
second cl. is misunderstood by all the Anc. Vrss. except the Latin. 

5. Docility a mark of wisdom. 

A fool despises his father s instruction, 
But he who regards reproof acts wisely. 

Antithetic, quaternary-ternary (or, ternary). Cf. I3 1 i5 20 . Acts 
wisely = is wise, that is, shows his good sense in accepting re 
proof. The first cl. assumes that parental instruction is the basis 
of moral life, but the characterization of the fool as a despiser 
holds good, in Prov., in respect to all instruction (io 8 I2 1 al.}. 

6. Financial reward of righteousness. 

In the house of the righteous are great stores, 
But the revenues of the wicked are < cut off. 

Antithetic, ternary. Cf. lo 2 !! 4 ^ 27 . Physical prosperity is rep 
resented as the reward of virtue. The Heb. reads lit. : the house 
of the righteous is a great store (or, treasure} , but in the revenue 
(or, produce} of the wicked is a thing troubled (that is, brought 
into misfortune, calamity, or embarrassment, see Ju. n 35 i Sam. 
1 4 s9 i K. iS 17 ) ; cf. ii 1729 . This last expression is not here ap 
propriate ; calamity (RV. trouble) would be logically correct, 
though the Heb. does not admit of this translation ; the antithesis 

xv. 4-7 305 

favors the reading (found in one Greek text) destroyed, cut off ; 
the prep. /// should be removed from second cl., and inserted (as 
in RY.) in first clause. The form of expression of the couplet is 
drawn from agricultural life; the term reroute occurs in 3 ;| - " 8 U) 
io" : 14 i6 s iS - 1 " Kx. 23 Jos. ^- al. The Grk. has two render 
ings of the couplet, one differing slightly from the Heb., the other 
conformed to it ; the former is probably the older, the latter a 

7. Sages, not fools, seek knowledge. 

The lips of the wise (preserve knowledge, 
l]ul the mind of fools is without < intelligence. 

Antithetic, quaternary-ternary. The proverb contrasts the wise 
man s devotion to knowledge with the intellectual dulness of the 
opposite class. Wise and foolish denote tempers or constitutions 
of mind ; knowledge is the product or the accumulated treasure of 
wisdom. Lips and mind (heart} are substantially synonyms; the 
lips speak what the mind thinks ; so in \v s , and cf. v. u . Here, as 
elsewhere in Pr., stress is laid on utterance and teaching. In 
the first line the verb in the Ileb. is scatter, a word elsewhere 
used of destructive dispersion (2O s -- ; V./.. 5" if/ io6- 7 a/.) ; the ap 
propriate term preserve is obtained by the change of one letter. 
The last expression of second cl. reads in the Heb. is not so, or, 
is not upright (or, honest, or, steadfast, or, trustworthy}. The 
first of these renderings is rhetorically lame and improbable, and 
is hardly bettered by RV. doetli not so the verb scatter, retained 
by RV., suits lips, but not mind, though this difficulty disappears 
if we read preserve. The second rendering supplies no good con 
trast to first cl. ; the point is not the fool s lack of uprightness, 
but his inability to appreciate knowledge. The contrast is gained 
by a slight change in the Heb. text, whereby we have the sense 
do en not understand ; for similar expressions see 18 23 " 2S 5 29". 
The fool, whose point of view puts him out of sympathy with the 
right, has no real comprehension of life. 

8, 9. Two abominations of the Lord. Antithetic, quaternary- 


9. Abomination to Yahweh is the life of the wicked, 
But him who practises righteousness he loves. 

8. This is one of the few places in Prov. in which the sacrificial 
ritual is mentioned (see 7" I7 1 2i 3 - 27 ), and here, as in 2I 3 - 27 , it is 
introduced in a connection which calls for disapprobation. Sacri 
fice without righteousness, say the sages and the prophets, is ab 
horrent to God ; sacrifice with righteousness is not mentioned in 
Prov., perhaps because it was obviously proper, and called for no 
remark. The sages recognize the ritual as a legitimate and bind 
ing form of worship, but they lay no stress on it they never 
enjoin obedience to its requirements. The contrast of sacrifice 
and prayer appears to be doubly significant : it intimates that the 
former is an outward service easily performed by a bad man, 
while the latter is an inward service appropriate to the sincerely 
pious ; and it suggests that, in a certain circle, a movement had 
begun which, by laying stress on communion of heart with God, 
tended to bring about the abolition of the sacrificial ritual; a sim 
ilar movement appears to be indicated in ^ 5o 14 , and is most fully 
visible in the Sermon on the Mount. The two terms can hardly 
here be synonyms, standing each for a ritual complex which in 
cludes the commonly associated acts of sacrifice and prayer (see 
i Sam. i 12 2 Sam. 7 18 , and cf. Lu. i 10 ) ; the antithesis is here 
marked. For a similar attitude toward sacrifice cf. Am. 5- Isa. 
i 11 Jer. 7 22 i Sam. 15- \]/ 5O M4 5i 10 17 ( 18 - 1;) >. On sacrifice see note 
on 7 14 , on acceptable, notes on 8 v> io" 2 n 1 , and, for the ritual use 
of the term, Lev. i 3 . The prayer of the morally good man is 
acceptable, is pleasing and is heard, simply because he is good 
but it is not said whether or not he also offers sacrifice. 9. Par 
allel to the preceding couplet, with substitution of ethical for reli 
gious conditions. Life is lit. way, = line of conduct, manner of 
life; practises is \\\.. follows after. Possibly the editor, in putting 
the two couplets together, meant to explain the first by the second. 

10. He who will not learn must die. 

There is stern correction for him who forsakes the way, 
He who hates reproof shall die. 

Identical, ternary. The way is that of truth and righteousness. 
The stern (hard, grievous, sharp) correction is death (second cl. 

fc). On correction and reproof *w notes on i- - The 
person described is the morally wicked, disobedient man ; the 
punishment is physical and earthly. Life is represented as a dis 
ciplinewoe to him who fails to profit thereby ! Grk., inter 
preting: shall die basely (or, a shameful death). 

11. The depths of the soul are known to God. 

She,,] and Abaddon lie open before Yalnveh, 
How much more the hearts of men ! 

Extended parallelism, ternary. The couplet expresses a conclu- 
:on from the less to the greater ; it is assumed that the Under 
world is a more remote and mysterious region than the human 
On Sheol see notes on i 5-- al. The term Abaddon 
e of destruction, region of death) occurs elsewhere in OT 
2f" (in connection, as here, with Sheol) , Job 26" (parallel to 
-- (in connection with Death, = the Realm of death) 
3 1 - (-Underworld), ,/, 88"^ (parallel to Grave, and = Under 
world) ; ,t is thus a synonym of Sheol, to which it is here added 
for rhetorical emphasis. There is no authority for the opinion 
: Abaddon is the lowest region of Sheol. The OT does 
not recognize strata in Sheol; the expression in I)t. 32^ J, 86" 
Sheol below (AV. lowest hell, RV. lowest pit), simply describes 
Sheol as a place beneath the earth, like the Netherland (= Sheol) 
of Ez. 31". In the XT. Apocalypse ( 9 <>) Abaddon is the name 
the Angel of the Abyss ( = Angel who inflicts death, and sends 
nen to Sheol) ; in the Talmud (Shab. 89 ) it is used in a similar 
-r; as the conception of the other life became more defi- 
the tendency was to personalize OT. expressions. Here as 
ob 26", \ ahweh is apparently represented as controlling Sheol ; 
rent view is expressed in Isa. 39 where (as generally in 
ie earlier literature) Yahweh has nothing to do with the Under 
world (cf. note on i) : the change of view was due to the corn 
ier development of the monotheistic- idea. Kven f,,1, (lob 
M ) .s not sure that Cod s power controls Sheol; the view of 
is more advanced, but still does not express a moral control 
1 In- Cod over the denizens of the Underworld.- \fen is 
lildren oj men ; son of man is a comparatively late Heb 


expression for " human being" ; so Ez. 2 1 a!., Job 25 \js 8 4(5) 33 1 
Dan. 8 17 (and Aramaic, 7 1:i ). 

12. Indocility of the scoffer. 

A scoffer loves not to be reproved, 
And will not walk < with > the wise. 

Explanatory parallelism, ternary-binary. On scoffer see note on 
i~. In second cl. the Heb. has go to ; the better reading is 
given in 13 (so the Grk. here) ; cf. 22- 4 ("do not walk [asso 
ciate] with an irascible man"). Cf. also i 15 4". The scoffer is 
regarded as a man whose character is fixed. It is not suggested 
that he might be helped by association with the wise. 

13. Joy enlivens, sorrow depresses. 

Joyous heart makes cheerful face, 

But by sorrow of soul the spirit is broken. 

Antithesis partly implicit, ternary. RV. (= AV.) : a merry heart 
maketh a cheerful countenance, in which the word merry now im 
plies more of movement and utterance than is contained in the 
Heb. term, which means joyful, glad. Soul is lit. heart ; heart 
and spirit are synonyms, both signifying the inner nature or being, 
but, in the connection, spirit may have the connotation (in Heb. 
as in English) of courage and hope. Exact antithesis in expres 
sion would require " sad face " in second cl. ; the variant phrase 
implies that a broken spirit is manifested by sadness of counte 
nance, while a cheerful face shows a high, courageous spirit. The 
proverb notes a fact of experience : joy is inspiring, sorrow is 
depressing the advantage of the former is clear. The man s 
mood is shown by his countenance. Cf. BS. I3 25 . 

14. The aliment of sages is knowledge, of fools folly. 

The mind of the wise seeks knowledge, 
The mouth of fools feeds on folly. 

Antithetic, ternary. The relation between wise and knowledge 
is the same here as in v. 7 , on which see note. In second cl. the 
Heb. text has face, which Ewald retains; but the reading of the 
margin, mouth (which is found in all the Anc. Vrss.) accords with 
the verb feeds, and is obviously better ; mouth feeds is a rhetorical 


variation of mind seeks. Instead of feed* on, the verb of the sec 
ond d. may be rendered is occupied with, strires after (lit. asso 
ciates ici/h), or, de/igh/s in, but feeds better suits the noun month. 
-The word rendered fools denotes the highest degree of stolidity, 
insusceptibility and unreceptiveness ; the mental furniture and 
nourishment of such an one is foolishness or folly in thought and 
deed, and this is the product of ignorance. Here, as in i4 :; ! al. 
and throughout chs. 1-9, virtue is allied with knowledge, vice with 
ignorance. The verbs express eager interest and devotion. 

XV. 1. It? 2:"; Berakoth, \1 a 21:7 (Strack, Prole.;., 105) It) -n; freely 
VTroTriirrova-a sul>iissh><:. |t? n s ;->; tyeipei, free rendering of ft), or of -v;t, 
as S> has it. 2. It) rjr; read ty-T (Mic. 2 i; Ex. 21-); the stem occurs in IV. 

only in 5 :! , and then in the literal sense; /caXo. ewiaTarai = It) r>i 2 Jr. 

> r s ix; S irci 1 -, = r-x (Jag.). 4. In 0SC diverge widely from It): 
065^ a-vvTTipuv avrriv 7r\T?cr0T7crercu irvevp.a.TOs; TT\. = > 2r^; <n^r. perh. from 
D-D or D-2-; weighs (Jug. Gr.) ; Schl. suggests /xrj <rvvTT)p3>v and ffwrpi^fffrat. 
(and substantially 5) yarj nn fl p ^x-n (S adds -i;-:), apparently free 
rendering of 0. Ui. writes q K b and ypr. There seems to he nothing better 
than to retain It), perh. omitting 2 in ma (Isa. 65 14 ) ; De., in support of the 2, 
adduces Arab, ova ~<~ : lie has broken my heart; the 2 would thus mark the 
place of the act of breaking. q^D (the stem in % usually 1fln, < s p s r>) occurs 
only here ami I i :i , on which see note. 5. |i) ] w, (5 WTripifci. 6. In 
|i) .-N2.-2 omit the 2, and insert the same prep, before ~2 (so SJT). P,i. .-2-^2. 
Jt) r->;":; read r^r;. On (5 see Lag. Baum. 7. ID T>P; (5 5<?5ercu, from 
>:N; i; (j>v\dffffov<ri; read w^ (Frank.). It) jr; (5 d<r0a\e T rs; 1L (?2 N 1 ") </issi- 
mile ; read p^ (so also Cr. suggests). 10. It? n^x 2T r; 6 ~<vupigera.i VTTO 
TUV -wapiovTuv, = -x >-!j;-^ (Jag.), 7^ 1 c ing supplied to make the sentence 
complete. O.KO.KOV (1Q y->), probably error for KCLKOU (Jag.). S follows ; 

2T -n-iN N-;-^-:, perh. free rendering of |t). |i) rr ; (ir. LI7 (Hos. 13!). 

11. It) pas; dTT^Xeia. 12. |t) S N; read r.v (0 /ieri). 13. In b 
ffKvOpuirdfft is sat/ maintains 2:2 as subject, while 5 follows It) excej)! 
that it makes the verb transitive; in both cases we have the natural freedom 
of translators. 14. Kcthib >;<:; read Oere 3 (so 05f). It) r^x ,-i;--i>; 
yvufferai (;-v) KaK d (perh. = It)) ; C.r. n-^< ,/f/i^/s in, and Frank. n;-v as 
corres]X)n<ling Aram, form; all the senses of the stem n;i seem to be closely 
related to one another. 

15. Happiness is better than sorrow. 

Every day is hard for him who is in trouble, 
liut the happy man has a continual least. 

Antithetic, ternary. A statement of ordinary experience (cf. 
v. I:{ ), without ethical import, but with implied commendation of 



cheerfulness and happiness. Happy is lit. good of heart, that is, in 
a good, joyous, or cheerful frame of mind. The/eas/ is the enjoy 
ment of the conditions of life. Hard here represents the same 
Heb. word that is rendered by stern in v. 1 ". On the adjective 
translated /// trouble (which elsewhere has also the senses poor, 
afflicted, pious} see notes on 3 :!4 14- i6 lu . 

16. 17. Superiority of spiritual over physical wealth. 

1 6. Better is little with the fear of Yahweh 
Than great treasure and trouble therewith. 

17. Better a dish of herbs with love 
Than a fatted ox with hate. 

16. Single sentence expressing an antithesis, ternary. Lit. in 
the fear, etc., that is, so held. Trouble (a different word from that 
rendered in trouble in preceding verse) is disturbance, anxiety, 
perplexity. It is assumed that the fear of Yahweh, morality based 
on or connected with religion, saves one from harassing care, since 
it brings divine protection. It is not said that wealth necessarily 
entails trouble and distress, but only that this may be the case 
a statement which the experience of all men, especially in highly 
organized communities, abundantly confirms ; and the couplet is 
a warning against rage for riches. 17. Antithetic sentence, ter 
nary. Cf. 1 7 1 . The word rendered dish appears to mean prima 
rily, " that which one offers to a traveller," and then, in general, 
" a portion of food " ; Grk. entertainment of a guest ; the allusion 
in the proverb may be to such entertainment, though the applica 
tion is general, to all meals. The allusion, as in the preceding 
couplet, is to the perils of wealth (fatted ox stands for luxury in 
general). There is no polemic against wealth, but a reminder that 
it is not always an unmixed blessing. On fatted see note on i4 4 , 
and cf. i K. 4 23 (5 ). 

18, 19. Commendation of patience and industry. 

1 8. An irascible man stirs up contention, 
One slow to anger appeases strife. 

19. The way of the slothful is < hedged up with thorns, 
But the path of the < diligent > is well-built. 

18. Antithetic, ternary. The man of first cl. is not one who is 
?.ngry (RV. wrathful}, but one prone to anger, quicktempered, in 

XV. IS-20 


contrast with the calm, patient man of second cl. See the similar 
statements in 14-- 15 15S. S K 28 s " 1 -. 19. Antithetic, quaternary- 
ternary, (irk., happily: the way of the slo fitful is s frown with 
thorns, that of the sturdy is smooth. Heb. : is like a hedge of 
thorns, in which the like is to be omitted (in accordance with the 
form of second cl.) and the hedge changed to hedged a path 
cannot be compared to a hedge, but may be said to be hedged 
up, encumbered; so Hos. 2 G(8) : I will hedge up th\ way with 
thorns. The slothful man meets with obstacles at every point, and 
makes no progress. On the other hand, the path of the industri 
ous man is can-fully constructed and free from obstacles, like a 
highway (so K.Y.); the adj. means cast up, roads having been con 
structed by throwing up earth (Jer. iS 1 Isa. 57"). The antithesis 
requires that the man of second cl. be described as diligent; the 
Heb. term (yas/iar) may mean honest, straigJitforward (usually, 
upright), but an inconsiderable alteration gives the ordinary word 
for industrious (to 1 12- - 13 21 ). 

20,21. Wisdom and folly their results for life. Antithetic, 
ternary. Delit/sch makes v. L> " (on account of its resemblance to 
10 ) the beginning of the third section (see 13 ) of the collection 
contained in io -22 ". It may mark the beginning of a separate 
minor collection ; see the Introduction. 

20. A wise son makes a glad father, 
A fool scorns his mother. 

21. Folly is delight to one who lacks sense, 

15ut a man of understanding is straightforward in his ways. 

20. The first cl. is identical with first cl. of 10 . In the second 
cl., instead of the is a source of anxiety to of lo 1 (which furnishes 
an obvious contrast), we have the variation scorns, which may 
be taken to mean "despises advice and so brings sorrow to his 
mother," or " shows by his conduct that he despises his mother s 
teaching," or simply "scorns his mother and her advice" (so 
the (Irk.) that is, the wise son honors and gladdens his father, 
the foolish laughs at and saddens his mother. The variation of 
expression in a familiar apophthegm would be not unnatural ; it is 
possible, however, that the second cl. stood originally with some 
such line as a wise son honors his father. In second cl. the 


Heb. reads (as in 2I 20 ) : a fool of a man (RV. foolish ma)]} a 
construction like that of Gen. i6 12 , a wild ass of a man (a man 
of the fool sort, of the wild ass species). The Anc. Vrss. and 
some Heb. MSS. read foolish son, which may be assimilation of the 
expression here to the more familiar form of lo 1 . 21. The term 
folly here has a moral as well as an intellectual content. The 
delight is made possible by intellectual and moral obtuseness 
the fool does not understand the consequences of his actions, and 
therefore has no basis for his moral life ; he takes pleasure in 
things bad not because they are bad, but because he does not 
know that they are bad, and does not see or believe that they will 
bring punishment on him. He who has insight into the laws of 
life, human and divine, acts in a straightforward way, is wisely 
upright, knowing that this is the only safe rule of life. Knowledge 
is thus represented as the foundation of character. 

15. Before $J 3 j insert V. ( n Trdvra TOV xpt> vov L 6<p0a\/j.ol rGiv KO.KUV 
(= oy~\ T>) Trpoffd^x " 1 - 1 KaKa. Lag. supposes that the Grk. translator had 
jn jn jn, which he read n> % -\ nin BV<; perh., however, the Grk. stands for 
njn np ^j/?; Bi. r*y-\ y~\ \r>. Jty nrrs; (5 yavxa-vovaiv, = rare (Lag.). 
16. | nsnn; Gr. nsi::. The following ^3 is omitted by Bi. on rhythmical 
grounds. For |Q - $5 has d^o/Sias, a singular expression (= wit/tout the fear 
of Yahwe/i), but apparently chosen as contrast to the </>6/3ou of a ; the reading 
do-fpetas (j$ a 23. 252. Lag.) is scribal emendation; cf. Baum. On SS> see 
Pinkuss. 17. |D rrns; <5 ^fi>i(Tfj.6s; S<C mr a meal; 1L freely, vocari ad. 
Bi. omits cu , instead of which < has KOI x&P lv > perh. = jm (Bi.), perh. 
rhetorical expansion. < NCtr"*; not Rabbin, (love of) the name, i.e. God 
(Baum.), but (love of) reputation; see Pinkuss. 18. On the two renderings 
of <S see Lag. Baum.; dcre/3^s (ocn), as being farther from $?, is regarded by 
Lag. as genuine; TTJV /j.{\\ov<Tav (= the impending or threatening quarrel} 
is free rendering of |!J 31, or, possibly, = N^n; /uSXXoc, in like manner, may 
freely express the contrast of the clauses, the pa of |ij being left untranslated. 
J5 combines the two renderings of <S, perhaps by alterations of successive 
scribes. 19. |1^ rirss; read r\3?b - : (so <S, cf. Lag.). $J 2">-"; (5 avSpeiuv; 
read c;nn (cf. (5 in io l ). 20. $? :^N C D:; (S*2> and 7 Heb. MSS. have 
TDJ p, probably assimilation to lo 1 . |i7 nr a; /j.vKTr]plei; S NP.~n3 t/is- 
grace (the same stem is employed in lo 1 ). 21. (5 appears to leave nn^t? 
untranslated, and to insert rpifiot from the connection; Lag. emends tvdeets to 

22, 23. Value of wise words. 

22. Where there is no counsel plans are thwarted, 
They succeed when many give advice. 

XV. 20-24 313 

2}. Joy comes to a man from the utterance of his mouth, 
And a word in season, how <;ood is it ! 

22. Antithetic, ternary. The idea of the couplet is substan 
tially that of 1 1". on which see note ; variations of such aphorisms 
were doubtless common; see note on \v" . \ \\Q plans (RY. pur 
poses) may be those of a government or those of a private family 
or person; thwarted (RV. disappointed} is lit. broken; succeed 
(RV. are established) is lit. stand ; the last expression of second 
line is lit. : l>y (or, through) the multitude of counsellors (or, ad 
visers). The king had his cabinet, and the private man his circle 
of friends. On counsel see 3 "- 1 1 1;; 2O 11 25 , and cf. Am. 3" Jer. 23 
Job 19 i// 55 14 1 " 1 . 23. Synonymous, ternary. Utterance is lit. 
answer, a term which is often used in OT. and NT. for expression 
or speech in general, where there is no obvious response. The 
meaning appears to be that a well-considered and apposite word 
may bring profit and joy to him who utters it. The general ex 
pression utterance of the mouth is defined in second cl. as a word 
in season (lit. /// ifs time), appropriate to the situation. The ref 
erence will then be to all sorts of occasions of private intercourse 
(business relations, and other social and family relations) and public 
affairs in city and state. Good = useful, effective. If the word in 
season be understood as a word of advice, consolation, or general 
friendliness, which is helpful not to the utterer, but to others, it 
will be necessary to omit the possessive pronoun in first cl., and 
read from an utterance of the mouth. The omission of the pro 
noun still permits, however, the first interpretation of the couplet, 
which may be rendered : a judicious utterance brings satisfaction, 
a seasonable word is useful. 

24. Wisdom is life. 

The wise man s path goes upward, to life, 
lie avoids (the way to Sheol beneath. 

In form antithetic, in meaning identical, ternary. The second 
cl. is lit. : so as to turn away from Sheol l>eneath ( - so that lie 
turns, etc.) appositional proposition put (as is not uncommon 
in OT.) in the form of result (or, what is the same thing in Ueb., 
purpose). The first cl. is lit. : the wa\ of life upward is to (= is 
the way of) the wise man ; as l>encath (or, downward) (nullifies 


Sheol, so upward qualifies way of life ; the statement is that the 
way of life (which is described as an upward one) pertains to the 
wise and not to the unwise. Sheol stands here (as everywhere else 
in Prov.) for physical death, and the life of first cl. must, accord 
ingly, be physical life; see, for example, 13" i4 L 7 . The signifi 
cance of the term upward is given in the paragraph 2 1 *" 22 where 
the way that leads down to the dead is contrasted with the path 
of the righteous who continue to dwell on upper earth ; the 
couplet repeats the familiar belief that good men (for wise includes 
good) will enjoy long and happy life in this world ; see notes on 
2 w 3 is 5 c I0 i; T3 H a f t The rendering of RV., to the wise the way 
of life (goeth) upward appears to imply that there may be a way 
of life which goes in some other direction ; that of Reuss is better : 
the wise man climbs the -way of life. There is, however, no refer 
ence to an eminence above the earth (heaven, for example) to 
which the wise man ascends ; men in OT. (except Enoch and 
Elijah) go, after this life, not to heaven but to Sheol ; the upward 
is simply the negation of the beneath (or, downward) . There is 
in this verse, therefore, when its terms are interpreted in accord 
ance with the usage of the Book of Proverbs, no intimation of a 
doctrine of happy immortality. 

25, 26. Divine antagonism to moral evil. Antithetic, ternary. 

25. Yahweh uproots the house of the proud, 
But establishes the border of the widow. 

26. Evil devices are an abomination to Yahweh 
[But pleasant words are pure.] 

25. Widow here stands for any poor, helpless person, the nat 
ural prey of the powerful and unscrupulous, here called the proud 
(i6 19 Job 40 11 \\i 94 2 ) ; Yahweh is described as the protector of the 
weak (so always the chiefs, kings, and national deities of antiquity); 
he is the father of the orphan, the judge who secures the rights of 
the widow (</> 68" (C) ). The word border alludes to the Israelitish 
law which endeavored to maintain intact the landed property of 
every family by forbidding its alienation (Dt. 19") ; greed of land 
is denounced by the prophets (Isa. 5 8 Mic. 2 1J ) and the later mor 
alists (Job 24 2 Pr. 22 2S ). The law, based at first on the insepa 
rable connection between land and citizenship, became later more 

XV. 2 4 -2 7 3 I5 

directly the expression of a sentiment of justice. 26. Eril de- 
rices are thoughts or plans which look to the injury of others. On 
abomination see note on 3" -. The second clause, as it stands, 
cannot be original. The connection calls for the statement of 
something which is not an offence to Yahweh the clause simply 
describes certain words. Many recent commentators and trans 
lators, in order to secure a connection between the two clauses, 
insert the words to him in the second ; but, if this is done, the 
difficulty remains that pure (tahor) is not a proper contrast to 
abomination (tocba) ; even if it be taken in a ritualistic sense as 
- clean, its opposite is unclean (tame} in any case it is a singular 
epithet to apply to friendly speech. Grk. (with a different Heb. 
text from ours) : the sayings of the pure are held in honor, which 
gives a good thought, but not a satisfactory contrast ; Lat. (follow 
ing (Irk.) : pure speech will l>e confirmed by him as very beautiful. 
We should, perhaps, change the text so as to read : pleasant (or, 
gracious) :i>on/s are well-pleasing to liim ; gracious words will then 
stand as the sign of friendly intention. Hut even this readino- 
does not give a satisfactory contrast to the first cl., and the line 
seems to be out of place as well as formally corrupt. 

27. Against taking bribes. 

lie who is greedy of gain destroys his own house, 
J5ut he who hates gifts will live. 

Antithetic, ternary (or, quaternary-ternary). The expression 
greedy of gain involves injustice in the acquisition of wealth (see 
note on i u ). A rebuke of avarice and highhanded dealing, with 
special reference, in second cl. (and apparently in first cl. also) 
to judicial and other bribery. Government in Oriental lands has 
always included the giving and taking of gifts. See n 1 "- , Kx. 23", 
Kz. 22 -, Keel. 7 7 . A greedy unscrupulous man (that is, a corrupt 
judge or magnate) comes to grief, says the sage ; he is ruined by 
natural causes, or by direct intervention of God. 

1 Vom this point onward the order of verses in the Grk. varies 
in an irregular manner from that of the Hebrew; the nature of 
the material (isolated sayings) made such variation easy. The 
arrangement in the Greek (as in the Hebrew) seems to be some 
times determined by verbal resemblances, and there was her? 


great play for the fancy of scribes. Whether the advantage in ar 
rangement is with the Heb. or with the Greek must be determined 
separately in every case. 

28. Speech of good and bad men. 

The righteous considers his words, 

The utteranees of the wicked are vicious. 

Antithetic, ternary. Lit. the mind (heart) of the righteous consid 
ers (RV. studies) to answer, and the mouth of the wicked utters 
bad things ; the Heb. idiom likes to describe fully processes of 
thought and action. The antithesis is ethical, not merely intel 
lectual ; the meaning is not that the righteous speaks cautiously, 
the wicked inconsiderately, but that the good man takes care to 
speak what is true and kind, while the bad man, feeling no con 
cern on this point, follows the bent of his mind, and speaks evil. 
The propositions are put as universal, in accordance with the eth 
ical system of Proverbs, which recognizes no nice distinctions, 
but regards men as wholly good or wholly bad. The verb ren 
dered utters is lit. pours out (see i 23 is 2 ), and is possibly, but not 
probably, meant to contrast the wicked man s unscrupulous 
deluge of words with the deliberate speech of the righteous. - 
Grk. in first line : the hearts of the righteous meditate faithfulness, 
which gives a better contrast with second line than the Hebrew, 
and should perhaps be adopted. 

29. What prayers are heard. 

Yahweh is far from the wicked, 

But he hears the prayer of the righteous. 

Antithetic, ternary. Cf. v. 8 . Far from inaccessible to, deaf to 
the appeal of. It is involved that the wicked may pray (that is, 
ask for some favor), but their prayer will not be favorably re 
ceived. The case of a bad man s repenting is not considered ; 
such a man, in the view of the OT., would, by his repentance, be 
transferred from the category of the wicked to that of the 

30. Good news. 

Pleasant news makes the heart glad, 
Good tidings make the bones fat, 

XV. 27-32 31? 

Synonymous, with variation of terms, ternary. Pleasant news is 
lit. light (or, shining) of the eyes, that is, the light which shines in 
the eyes of the bringer of good news (as the second cl. suggests) ; 
cf. 16 Job 29-* i// 4 1 44 ; 4) 89 " . The expression is by some un 
derstood to mean good fortune, which gives the same general 
sense ; but this meaning is doubtful, and does not furnish so 
direct an antithesis as the rendering here adopted, (irk. (with a 
variation of text) : the eye which sees beautiful tilings. Fat hones 
are those which are full of marrow ; cf. <// 63 " , and notes on 

31-33. Docility and humility. 

31. He who hearkens to life-giving admonition 
\Vill ohvell among the wise. 

32. He who rejects instruction slights himself, 

But he who regards admonition gains understanding. 

33. llie fear of Yahweh is instruction in wisdom, 
And before honor goes humility. 

31. Single sentence, quaternary-ternary. Lit. the ear that heark 
ens to the admonition of life ; the ear = the man ; on admonition 
(or, reproof) see note on i - " . Dwell is properly lodge, pass the 
night (den. 19- 2 Sam. 17" Job 31 " - ), but the term is used in 
poetry to express permanent dwelling (19- " Job i9 4 t// 91 ). 
Teachableness is the key that unlocks the door of the sages. 
The observation is a general one, but has an academic coloring. 
The life is of this world, and primarily physical (see 3- al.\ but 
involves the higher moral and religious elements. To dwell with 
the wise is synonym of success and happiness, knowledge is the 
fundamental fact in life. The abrupt and vigorous synecdoche 
which, in second cl., puts ear for man, is especially natural in 
gnomic poetry. 32. Antithetic, quaternary-ternary. On instruc 
tion see note on i J ; admonition, as in preceding couplet. Slight 
is despise, lightly esteem, then treat sliglitinglv, and reject as l>eing 
of small value ( r Sam. S 1 Job 5 1 r. 3"). One who refuses to be 
taught fails to become wise, and thus puts a slight on himself, 
treats himself as being of small account. The contrast to this is 
stated clearly in second clause. The Ileb. has a formal antithe 
sis which cannot be reproduced in English : slights //is soul 


(= personality, self) . . . gains heart (= understanding) ; the 
parallelism forbids us to take soul as = life. The Greek transla 
tor abandons the text in order to get the sharp contrast : hates 
himself . . . loves his own soul. Here, as in the preceding 
couplet, understanding, knowledge, wisdom, is the essential thing 
in life, the synonym of well-being. 33. Quaternary-ternary. 
The connection between the two clauses is not explicit one of 
them is perhaps out of place ; but see below. The fear of Yah- 
wch is elsewhere described as the beginning of knowledge (i 7 ) or 
of wisdom (9), and here, in substantially the same sense, as the 
instruction of wisdom, that is, the instruction which wisdom gives, 
or, more probably, instruction in wisdom. The latter expression 
is, therefore, the proper subject of the sentence : the material or 
the essence of wisdom is reverent regard for .the divine law, for 
(as Pr. elsewhere declares) this law is the perfect expression of 
the truth of life, and obedience to it ensures safe guidance and 
perfect happiness. This fundamental conception, the identity of 
divine wisdom and human wisdom, is thus common to the two 
Divisions, chs. 1-9 and chs. io 1 -22 16 . See notes on r 9 . The 
proper antithesis to second cl. is found in 1 8 12 : pride leads to de 
struction as humility to honor ; but a connection between humility 
and the fear of Yahweh is given in 22 4 , which is an expansion of 
this clause. According to 22* the two things are substantially the 
same : humility is a reverent attitude toward God as supreme and 
holy ruler. If the term be so understood here, the honor is the 
reward (as in 22 4 ) which God bestows on those who obey him, 
and our couplet contains an expanded parallelism : the fear of 
God is wisdom, and it entails honor first the intellectual product 
of reverence, and then its reward. On the other hand, i8 12 , com 
pared with i6 ls , suggests that it is the natural social law that is 
here contemplated : humble demeanor procures friends and 
honor, as pride makes enemies and leads to downfall. Probably 
both conceptions of the aphorism were held, and the gnomic 
writers used one or the other as suited their purposes. The iden 
tity of the two conceptions results from the doctrine that God is 
the author of natural law. 

22. (5 /XT; Tt/xwi/Ttj = atb (J[J pto) ; iv KapStai* l^l (|t| 3^3). The 
insertion of ns? counsel at end of b (<5tC) is adopted by I5i., who refers to 

XV. J2-XVI. 

the sing. 2,-v-; this insertion is possible, but hardly necessary; <",r. n 
< >n $, which follows (5, but with arbitrary changes, see liaum. 
23. (? ov fir) vira.KOVO-rj 6 *a/c6s aurrj ovde /J.TJ eiTry xaipibv TI Ka.1 KaXov rf KOI.V$ 
n^a ia-n rvs nj;-c2 tr-.s -;~Z" N\ the man being interpreted as Ka*6j, 
and the couplet freely rendered throughout. As to the original sense of the 
stem ,-ij;- answer cf. Ges. J /ies., and Arab. ;;, :;;. 24. |i) -n"~ s ; SLavori- 
Mara, peril, after I-]/. u r >, perh. = rams; cf. Jag. Lag. ft) res; <rw077, 
perh. = -i s (Paum.), or re-s (Jag.). 26. On see note on this verse above. 
(P a.~,vC>v 5f pria-ei-i ffe/j.vai, in whicli it is doubtful what Ileb. word a. repre 
sents. For |t) =-;n-j we should perhaps read ^j>. 27. Instead of o-wftrtu 
(It) rrrv) 23. 103. 252. 253 have tfeerai, a correction after the Ileb. See 
notes of Lag. and liaum. on the dislocation of couplets at this point. 28. In 
S 7 24-, ^ 2 1 njn is followed by the object directly, in ^ 77 1:i 143- by a and 
object, here by 2 in ; as, however, the object is here an act, the s is 
appropriate. 11) -;;:-; 6 I! Triarw, 6 XA Triffriv; 5C (following ) N.-j^n; 
these Vrss. seem to have had H:^N or r;-N, which should perhaps be adopted 
in It). 30. 11) ;;>; ->-:; <5 16- OtupQiv 600a\^6s ^a\d, free rendering of ]ty 
taken to mean "what the eye sees." The Ileb. expression does not occur 
elsewhere in OT., but appears to mean the light that resides in the e\ ts (cf. 
if* 90 s ); for the rendering good fortune there is no authority in OT. ; INS 
occurs only in late writings (from }]/.. on). 31. Lacking in 6, probably 
by scribal accident. The rendering in S 1 1 appears to be based on that of 
A2BK; these Yrss. and S = Jt); $n differs from S in a couple of words. 
32. 11) DX : and n; --; <Q !6 :i , freely, to gain a distinct contrast, fjuo-ft and 
dyaTrp. 33. |i] nin>; (Q (i6 4 ) v /. Q fo ,. (^H.VN KVp i ov . w hich of these is 
original in the Grk. it is hard to say. $ ^D-:; Perles, Analekt. p. 60 : ^D- 
basis, which is suitable, but the change is not necessary. See II-P, Lag 

XVI. 1-9. Divine control of life. 

1. To man belong the plans of the mind, 

l!ut from Yahweh comes the answer of the tongue. 

2. All a man s conduct seems to him pure, 
P>ut it is Yahweh who weighs the spirit. 

3. Commit thy work to Yahweh, 
Then will thy plans succeed. 

4. \ ahweh has made everything for its own end, 
Yea, even the wicked for the evil day. 

5. I he proud man is an abomination to Yahweh, 
He will assuredly not go unpunished. 

6. P,y kindness and truth sin is expiated, 

And by the fear of Yahweh one escapes misfortune. 

7. When a man s ways please Yahweh, 

He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. 


8. Better is a little with righteousness 
Than great revenues with injustice. 

9. Man devises his way, 

But Yahweh directs his steps. 

1. Antithetic, ternary (or, binary). This proverb is identical in 
meaning with v. 9 , and with our "man proposes, God disposes"; 
see Malan for Chinese and other parallels. Plans is arrange 
ments (RV. preparations} ; mind is lit. heart; the answer of the 
tongue = the final outcome of one s reflections and purposes. To 
regard the couplet as contrasting merely thought and expression 
(De.) is to empty it of meaning; Mt. io 19 (referred to by De.) 
is different. The idea of God s absolute control of human affairs 
is found throughout OT., as, for ex., in Am. 3" <// n8 8 Ex. io 1 , cf. 
Rom. 9 16 . In the term answer there is possibly allusion to the 
task of speaking (defending one s self, etc.) before great men 
(Frank.). See 22 21 , and note on i5 - >:! . 2. Antithetic, ternary. 
See 3 7 I4 12 2i 2 2/}. 12 . Contrast between human and divine moral 
judgments. The first cl. does not mean to affirm that men never 
condemn their own conduct, but states a general rule of human 
self-satisfaction, or is in the nature of a supposition, so that the 
couplet may be paraphrased : " though a man s actions may seem 
right to him, ignorant and prejudiced as he is, yet the final ver 
dict on them comes from the infallible investigation of God." 
The suggestion is that men should not take their own judgment of 
themselves, but should test themselves by the judgment of God, 
that is, by the absolutely pure moral standard. Conduct and 
spirit are lit. ways and spirits; the latter term expresses the 
whole inward nature, its purposes and motives ; weighs = meas 
ures, determines, tries, appreciates. In i Sam. i6 7 we have a 
somewhat different contrast, namely, between human judgment 
based on the merely outward and visible, and divine judgment 
which regards the mind. 3. Continuous, ternary-binary. Lit. 
roll on Yahweh thy works (or, deeds ), trust everything to him ; so 
\\> 37 " , cf. i// 22 8(9) . Syr. Targ. Lat. read disclose. V. 1 " 3 are lack 
ing in the Greek. 4. Continuous, ternary. The Heb. permits 
the translation for his own end, but the rendering its is indicated 
by second cl., which states the end or destiny for which wicked 
men are created. The proverb declares, in a simple and direct 

way, the principle (reco^ni/ed everywhere in OT.) of the abso 
luteness of Vahweh s government of the world, and it is added 
that every one of his acts has a definite purpose ; since the 
wicked are punished, it is Vahweh who has created them to that 
end. This predestination to evil (to use the modern expression) 
is held in OT., without metaphysical speculation and without em 
barrassment, in connection with the belief in human freedom - 
men are considered to be either good or bad, but the good man 
may at any moment become bad, or the bad man good ; see Kx. 
9 " Kz. 14 - 1 8, 1!S. 39 1 "-" 1 , cf. Keel. 3 -". (irk. reads: all the 
works of the Lont (arc done} with righteousness, and the wicked 
man is kept for the eril day. The evil (/ay is the day of judg 
ment, retribution, punishment. The prophets regard the nations 
of the earth as controlled by Vahweh in the interests of Israel ; 
the sage considers individual men as created with a purpose. 
This larger view belongs to the philosophic period of Jewish his 
tory. What God s purpose is in creating the wicked for punish 
ment the proverb does not say. According to Kzekiel (Kz. 38" 
39- ) Gog is punished that Vahweh may manifest his power and 
glory to all nations, and so in the Pentateuch Pharaoh is dealt 
with (Kx. 9" , cf. Rom. 9 ). The sage s point of view is not 
clear it is, perhaps, that the moral government of the world 
makes the punishment of the bad man necessary ; but no explana 
tion is given of why the bad man should have been created at all. 
There is no intimation of a belief that the wicked are a neces 
sary element of God s education of the world (cf. 1!S. 15 -). 
5. Continuous, ternary-binary. The first cl. is the same as 
first cl. of n-" , with substitution of proud iw false ; the proud 
man is he who sets himself presumptuously against Vahweh, and 
refuses to obey the divine law. The second cl. is the same 
as first cl. of i r 1 , with omission of the wicked ; on the expres 
sion assuredly (lit. hand to hand, = my hand on it !} see note 
on ii- 1 . 

Grk. here inserts the two couplets : 

The beginning of a good way is to do justly, 

And it is more acceptable with ( iod than to offer sacrifices. 

lie who seeks the Lord will lind knowledge with righteousness, 

And they who rightly seek him will lind peace. 



These couplets (which may have been written originally in He 
brew) resemble proverbs in our Hebrew text ; the first may have 
been suggested by i6 \ the second by 28" (cf. 14 ). It is prob 
able that many aphorisms were in circulation which are not in 
cluded in our Book of Proverbs ; some of these are found in the 
Greek text of Proverbs, others in Ben-Sira. 6. Synonymous, 
ternary. The expression kindness and truth stands for morality 
.or virtue in general ; so it is used in f, on which see note. By 
such ethical integrity sin (or, iniquity) is expiated (lit. covered}, 
that is, the divine anger against sin is turned away, and the 
man s relation to God is as though he had not sinned. The 
priestly mode of expiating sin was by offerings, but prophets 
and sages lay the greater stress on disposition of mind and 
on conduct; see Hos. 6 (where love to God and knowledge 
of him are said to be more desired by Yahweh than sacrifice), 
Jer. 7 22 2 5 (where Yahweh is said to have commanded not sacrifice 
but obedience) ; cf. Ez. 18 $ 50" 51 >*("< > ; in Isa. 4 o 2 the sin 
of Jerusalem is said to have been expiated by her suffering. The 
fear of Yahweh is parallel and equivalent to kindness (or, Iwe) 
and truth; and misfortune (or, suffering), lit. evil, is identical 
with the punishment which is averted when sin is expiated. 
7. Continuous, ternary. (irk. (the couplet occurs after is 28 ) : 
the ways of righteous men are acceptable with the Lord, and by 
them even enemies become friends, which is identical in meaning 
with the Hebrew ; the form of the latter seems preferable. In 
stead of the by them of the Greek we should perhaps read to them. 
In the Heb. couplet the happy condition of the righteous is 
brought about directly by divine action ; but human causes, such 
as the kindliness and helpfulness of the good man, are probably 
not meant to be excluded. 8. Comparison, ternary. Substan 
tially identical with is" 1 . The proverb differs from the others of 
the group in not containing an explicit reference to the divine 
government; but righteousness = the fear of Yahweh (i5 Ifi ). 
9. Antithetic, ternary. Identical in meaning with v. 1 . Lit. the 
mind (heart) of man devises (or, thinks out, plans}. Grk. : let the 
heart of a man think (or, reckon} justly, that his steps may be set 
right by God, which misses the striking antithesis of the Heb., but 
gives a good thought ; the justly is added from the connection. 


In v. 1 9 we have two substantially identical aphorisms in close prox 
imity. One is a variant of the other, perhaps in a different collec 
tion ; the editors naturally took all good material that they found. 

10-15. Functions of king s. 

The couplets are extended parallelisms. The reference is to 
all sovereigns, not merely to those of Israel : if, as is probable, 
the paragraph is postexilian in date, it is the numerous non- 
Jewish monarchs of the (ireek period (possibly, also, the Macca- 
bean princes) that formed the writer s milieu. It is, howeve r - 
the ideal king whose character is here sketched (except in v." ) 
whether the proverbs be preexilian or postexilian --the king who 
governs in wisdom and justice. In such ideal portraitures in the 
Prophets and the Psalms (Isa. n ^ 72 ) the king is guided by 
(rod, and controlled by the divine law; here, and elsewhere in 
this part of Prov., the reference is to the human law of right (in 
8 " to the personified divine-human wisdom). The term " theo 
cratic " can be used of the Israelitish kings only in the vague way 
in which it is applicable to all ancient sovereigns they all per 
formed religious rites, and consulted the deity in important affairs 
The kings of Israel were as arbitrary and absolute as the inde 
pendent spirit of the clans, tribes, elders, and princes permitted 
-hardly one of them paid much respect to the moral 
law of \ ahweh in his political policy or his private concerns I) e 
litzsch observes that the OT. never speaks of the actual kin- as 
infallible ; the idea " the king can do no wrong " did not exist in 
srael. - Reference to kings is found both in chs. i-n and in chs 

10. The lips of the king are an oracle, 

In judgment his mouth transgresses not. 

11. [] Balance and scales are < the king s," 

All the weights of the bag are his work. 

12. It is abomination to kings to commit wickedness, 
For the throne is established by righteousness. 

1.5. Righteous lips are the delight of kings. 

And they love him who speaks right. 
14- The anger of the king is a messenger of death, - 

A wise man will pacify it. 
15. In the light of the king s countenance is life. 

And his favor is like a cloud of the Spring ra j n . 


10. Binary. Lit. on the lips . . . is an oracular decision (RV. 
divine sentence} : the decision of the ideal king is as just as if 
God himself had given it that is, as second cl. puts it, he does 
not violate justice ; judgment = legal dec.sion. The meaning (as 
may be inferred from the parallel proverbs in chs. 10-31) is not 
that God speaks through the king. Delitzsch s rendering : let not 
his mouth err is out of the question. The term oracular decision 
is literally divination, the consultation of the deity (Ez. 2i 21 
23 s ) ; the practice was condemned by the prophets as generally 
connected with the worship of other gods than Yahweh (i Sam. 
i5 2! Dt i8 10 2 K. ly 17 ), or with false pretensions to speaking in 
his name (Jer. : 4 U Ez. i 3 c )- Here the term is used figuratively. 
_ Bickell emends to oracle of Yahweh, but the addition is unnec 
essarythe divine name is understood. 11. Ternary-binary. 
WeMits is lit. stones, which were kept in a bag. From Am. 8 5 we 
may! perhaps, infer that, as early as the eighth century B.C., the 
Israelites had a legal standard of weights and measures (and, for 
the sixth century, cf. Ez. 4 5 10 " J if is possible, indeed, that the 
Babylonians had introduced their system into Canaan in or before 
the fifteenth century.* It may be assumed that, after the Exile, 
under the Persians and the (keeks, the Jews had a regular system 
of stamped weights of stone or metal. The balance is the steel 
yard cf. n 1 20 10 - 23 Am. 8 5 Hos. i2 7 < S) Mic. 6 11 Lev. 19* Jer. 3 2 10 . 
In the first cl. the Heb. has are Yahweh s, for which it seems 
better (with Gratz) to read are the king s, with the sense that 
the system of weights and measures is ordained by the king as 
supreme authority and fountain of justice ; this emendation brings 
the couplet into formal accord with the context. As the text 
stands, God is the ordainer of the machinery of commercial trans 
actions, a statement which is not elsewhere found in OT. he is 
said (as in Lev. \<f> a/.) to demand just weights, he is not said to 
make or establish them. The word king may have been inter 
preted by some scribe as meaning the divine king, Yahweh. In 
the first line the Heb. reads: balance and just weights are, etc. 

* The Babylonian predominance in Canaan is shown by the fact that the 
Amarna correspondence employs Babylonian script and language. On early 
Babylonian weights and measures see C. F. Lehmann, Atoabylon. Moots- und 
tlewichtsystem. 1893, and G. A. Reisner on Bab. metrology. 

XVI. io-i5 3 2 5 

It is singular that the adjective just should be attached to one of 
these, and not to the other. The I. at. avoids this difficulty by 
rendering (with a slight change ot text) : balance and scales are 
{matter (>/) judgment for Yahweh, that is. he has to decide all 
cases in which a false use of them occurs. Hut this interpretation 
of the term judgment is difficult, and the resulting sentence does 
not offer a proper parallel to the second line. It would be better 
to omit the word balance (which would get rid of the difficulty), 
but a more satisfactory sentence is gained by omitting the adjec 
tive, which is here not appropriate as second cl. states that all 
stones are the work, etc., so first cl. must state that balance and 
weights in general belong, etc. A scribe might naturally think it 
desirable to note that the balances are just. -The renderings 
just balance and scales are, etc., given by many commentators 
and translations," is grammatically incorrect. 12. Ternarv. Cf. 
I)t. ly 1 " L " Isa. 32 . The affirmation includes all kings considered 
as ideal rulers ; such rulers understand that justice is essential to 
their permanence. (Irk., less well : he who does eril is an abomi 
nation, etc. Cf. 2 Sam. 7 1:1 " ^ 94-" Isa. 16 " ; similar aphorisms 
are 2o - s 25" 29". 13. Ternary. Cood kings desire honest coun 
sellors and servants. The verb lore is .sing, in the Hebrew, either 
individualizing ("every king loves"), or agreeing with a sing. 
king, instead of the kings of the text, or error for plural. 
14. Ilinary. The Ileb. has plural messengers. The sense of 
second cl. is probably not "it maybe pacified by a wise man" 
(that is, by wise precautions or other measures), but " he who is 
wise will seek to pacify it" (instead of braving it). The point of 
the couplet is to magnify the king, not the wise man, and the 
second line is more naturally understood as adding something to 
the statement of the first line : the king s anger is so terrible a 
thing that a man shows wisdom in trying to pacify it. The king 
is represented as absolute, as was true, in many respects, of all 
ancient monarchs : this trait is not necessarily out of keeping with 
his idea! character: the couplet, however, rather regards him 
simply as ruler. 15. Hinary. The antithesis to the preceding 


aphorism. The light of the countenance is a friendly look, = favor, 
gracious reception ; the word for light is different from that used 
in I5 30 , but the general sense is the same. Life is long and 
happy life, = prosperity. The king, here as in v. 14 , is regarded 
simply as the arbiter of fate ; his moral qualities do not come into 
consideration. The Spring rain ("latter rain," March- April) 
was essential to the ripening of the crops, and the cloud which 
heralded it was a symbol of blessing; see Jer. 3 " Zech. lo 1 Job 
29 <J3 ; the Autumn rain ("former rain," October) preceded the 
sowing (Hos. 6 :i Ut. n u Jer. ^ Joel a - 3 // 84 fi(7) ). For details of 
agriculture see Nowack, Arch. I. 41. 

XVI. 1. Wanting in <5 B , found in 5 11 * 1 " - S?L; <S a " 2 - 2M " <S" add Ser V 
/j.tyas ei roffovrov rairelvov ffeavrbv Kal evavri icvptov rov Oeou evprjffeis xdptv, 
= BS. 3 18 , and perhaps thence taken by(- 5 - a! -. 2. The adj. -JT occurs only in 
the late priestly ritual (Ex. 27 29 3O 34 Lev. 24 7 ), Job, Prov., but the verb ro: is 
found in Isa. I 16 Mic. 6 11 . The stem p~, = establish, appears to be a second 
ary formation from p; the origin of the sense -weigh, test is not clear, dr., 
unnecessarily, jna. The couplet is not found in this form in < B ; something 
like it appears in ( i6 5 , which is nearly related to the added couplet given 
above under v. 1 ; cf. BS. 35 17 - Ls . 3. Wanting in <S B , found in OS 11 23 " -, 
perhaps a late addition to ty, after ^^. On v. 1 3 see notes of Lag. Baum. 
Bi. 4, = 9 in <S. |ij Vvc; (5 e pya. |) BJ; (5 <pv\dffffrai, = -\cv. This 
is probably a mere scribal variation, and not an attempt to avoid the statement 
that God destines the wicked to punishment (Pink., who refers to Baethgen, 
JPT. 8, 413). <5 s rendering of injysS by /JLCTO. 5iKa.ioffvv^ is accounted for 
by Heid. from the Rabbin, reference of the Heb. expression to students of law; 
but, like & those who obey him, <S simply takes the form in |t? as = obey. In 
$J inn-a*- 1 the vowel-point under S may be scribal error, or it may be anoma 
lously inserted to distinguish this expression from the prep. f>c s with suffix (so 
Ew. De. Philippi). 5, = 6 in (5. $ P3"r; d/cd0apTos (cf. pdt\vy(j.a, 
15-6). 10. cop, originally part, fragment (Arab, portion ), from stem = 
divide ; divination is perhaps from the fragments (of stone, etc.) which were 
used in divining processes (Ilalevy, KKJ., 1887), perhaps from the verb = 
divide, determine fates. 11. The stems D^fl and J;N (Arab, wazati) appear 
to express the idea of evenness, equality. JD" C qualifies only jfNr, not D s c; 
see Philippi, Slat. Const, im Heb., p. 12 ff. 6 po-rrrj jVyoD SiKaioativrj irapa K. = 
nin^S taes S C JTN3 D^c, taking usrr; as pred., and so S1L. The Dor-: is better 
omitted as gloss. %\ nirv^; read, with dr., 7^; see note on this v. above. 
12. S read n^- 1 and =^7, the latter word qualifying arta; S2T appear to 
have been influenced by <5; see Baum. Pink. 13. |1? ans% ( v )al; 1L Nif. (and 
so Jag.); if a change is thought necessary, it will be better to write the 
vb. Qal. plur., or (with <@) the noun sing., 1^. 14. $ asS?; <S, sing., is 

XVI. i 5 -i7 3-7 

16-19. Wisdom, integrity, humility. 

l(>. Wisdom is better than gold, 

And understanding more to be desired than silver. 
17. The path ot the upright avoids misfortune, 

lie guards his life who takes heed to his way. 
IS. I ride goes before destruetion, 

And a haughty spirit before a fall. 
19. It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor 

Than to divide the spoil with the proud. 

16. Two equivalent comparisons, ternary. Lit. the getting of wis 
dom and flic getting of understanding; for the terms see note on 
3 14 . Fully expressed : " the acquisition of wisdom is better than 
that of gold," etc. The Heb. of first cl. reads : the getting of wis 
dom how much better is it than gold! but the how much is 
probably scribal error. The identity of the thought of this 
couplet with that of 3" is an indication that the final form was 
given to the two sections, chs. 1-9 and chs. 10-22" , about the 
same time. 17. Identical, ternary-quaternary. In second cl. 
he who pays careful attention to his (moral) conduct is said thus 
to guard or preserve his life (or, himself, lit. his soul} that is, 
integrity is a guard against misfortune this is the familiar teach 
ing of Proverbs ; in accordance with the parallelism the evil of 
first cl. (as the Heb. lit. reads) is naturally misfortune, which the 
path of the upright avoids. The interpretation " the conduct of 
the upright consists in avoiding moral evil " is possible, but does 
not furnish an antithesis. The second cl. maybe rendered: he 
who guards his life (or, himself) takes heed to his way, that is, he 
who desires to have a good, happy life looks carefully to his con 
duct. Combining this with the second rendering of first cl., the 
couplet would mean : " a good man avoids wrong, and he who 
has care for himself looks to his conduct," which (if we may be 
guided by the context) is less satisfactory than the interpretation : 
"the upright man escapes misfortune, and he who is careful in 
his conduct saves his life" the surrounding couplets deal not 
with the method of securing happiness, but with the results of 


good living. Grk., adding three lines after first cl. of v. 1? , and 
one line after second cl., makes three couplets, as follows : 

The paths of life turn aside from evils, 
And the ways of righteousness are length of life. 
He who receives instruction will be prosperous, 
And he who regards reproofs will be made wise. 
He who guards his ways preserves his soul, 
And he who loves his life will spare his mouth. 

This is probably a scribe s expansion of the Hebrew couplet ; the 
matter is all to be found in the Heb. Proverbs. 18. Identical, 
binary. Cf. n" (pride brings disgrace), 15 (humility brings 
honor), i6 1<J 18 - (contrast of pride and humility), 2i - 4 22 4 30". 
The reference seems to be to the social laws and conditions which 
tend to abase pride. The English " pride will have a fall " may be 
derived from this proverb. 19. Chiastic comparison, ternary. 
With lowly is contrasted proud, and with poor the rich who divide 
the spoil. Instead of poor we might render by humble (^N . marg. 
meek}, but this would destroy the antithesis, and introduce a tau 
tology, since lowly = humble. The terms lowly and proud are 
here ethical, = the unassuming or inoffensive, and the overbearing 
or oppressive : they have, perhaps, also a religious import, = those 
who submit themselves to God, and those who disobey and disre 
gard him. The expression divide the spoil is taken from military 
life (Gen. 4,<f Ex. 15 Jos. 22 s Ju. 5 30 i Sam. 30~ 24 Isa. 53 - 
\j> 68 12(i3) ), or from the judicial and other civil injustices of the 
rich ; cf. i 13 31". 

20-25. Wisdom and graciousness. 

20. He who gives heed to the word will prosper, 
And the man that trusts in Vahwch, happy is he ! 

21. The wise man is called a man of discernment : 
Sweetness of speech increases power of persuasion. 

22. Wisdom is a wellspring of life to its possessor, 
And folly is the chastisement of fools. 

23. The wise man s mind makes his speech judicious, 
And gives persuasiveness to his discourse. 

24. Pleasant words are a honeycomb, 

Sweet to the soul and healing to the body. 

25. There is a way that seems right to a man, 
But the end of it is the way to death. 

XVI. 17-22 $2C) 

20. Synonymous, ternary, (sires heed is acts wisely (in ref 
erence to) ; cf. 2 i 1 -. The word is the law of right as given by 
the sages and by God, ami it is unnecessary to add of Yahweh 
(Grat/) ; see note on 13 ; ; it is not improbable that the reference 
is in part to (postexilian) legal and prophetical documents. Pros 
per is lit.////</ good. Trust substantially = gives heed, since trust 
and obedience involve each the other. The good and happiness 
include all desirable things of this life. The proverb gives the 
purely religious point of view : God blesses those who obey and 
trust him, and they need no other protection; see v. :! 3 ; . The 
expression happy is lie occurs in 14 29". 21. Synonymous, ter 
nary. The power of discreet gentleness of speech. Lit., in first 
line : the wise of mind [lit. heart ] is called discerning. The dis 
cernment, as may be inferred from second line, shows itself in 
selecting proper language by which to influence men. Is called = 
"is recognized as, given credit for being." The last expression of 
second line (RV. learning, as in r ) is to be rendered persuasive 
ness, as in 7- , on which see note ; such is the effect of sweetness 
of speech (lit. of lips}. A man of true wisdom of thought shows 
himself intelligent, judicious, discerning (RV. prudent) by his 
attractive words, whereby he brings men to his way of thinking, or 
to a recognition of duty. The rendering increases learning does 
not convey a distinct sense ; in r the sage adds, by study, to his 
own learning ; sweetness of discourse could increase the learning 
of others only, but the Heb. expression does not naturally convey 
that idea. Instead of discerning (or, intelligent} Grat/, by change 
of text, would read agreeable, and P>ickell harp (that is, as melo 
dious as a harp) ; the latter reading is unnatural, the former 
furnishes a good antithesis, but the Heb. text is favored by v. ai . 
Sweetness = graciousness, friendliness; on discerning see note 
on i . 22. Antithetic, ternary. On wellspring (or, fountain} of 
life see 10" 13" 14- iS 1 ; on chastisement (the word is also ren 
dered instruction and correction) see \- 3" 7 -"- 13- 22 . As wis 
dom secures for its possessor (by natural and divine law) all the 
blessings of life, so folly brings on its possessor loss of blessing, 
and positively punishment. The chastisement ^ not here a means 
of reformation, but merely a requital of wrongdoing; the fool is 
once for all ignorant, inapprehensive, disobedient to human and 


divine law. 23. Synonymous, ternary. Identical in thought 
with v. 21 . On makes judicious (a different term from the discern 
ing of v.- 1 ) see notes on i 3 lo 5 - 19 I4 35 \^. Here it is the wise 
man s mind (=good sense or sagacity) that makes his speech 
persuasive ; in v.^ 1 the agent is sweetness of expression ; but the 
epithet judicious or sagacious favors the reading discerning (in 
stead of agreeable} in v. J1 . The two couplets are variations of one 
theme. Speech and discourse are lit. mouth and lips. 24. Single 
sentence (second cl. interpreting first cl), binary (or, binary- 
quaternary). Honeycotiib, cf. ^ i9 10(U) , i Sam. 14- Cant. 5 ; 
pleasant = graceful, gracious, friendly ; body is lit. bone. Gratz 
finds in this couplet a suggestion for his emendation in v. 21 ; it 
does give some support to his reading, yet it is to be observed 
that the reference here is simply to charm of expression and man 
ner, while there the connection between wisdom and speech is 
considered. 25. Identical with i4 12 . 

16. On n jp cf. Ols. 173^, Ges. 20 75 ; it seems probable that the form 
is here, as Ols. suggests, scribal error for pjp, since the latter occurs in h ; 
1L Iinpv. in both clauses, inserting quiet; Stade takes it as Inf. abs., Hi. as 
Impv., but the %) Inlin. is more satisfactory. (5 vocrcnai, = pjp or ipp. Omit 
no (probably repetition of preceding nc), which is syntactically difficult, if not 
impossible. 17. In b a reviser has brought the text of (5 into accord with %}, 
which latter is obviously correct. Bi. makes two couplets, adopting the b and 
the c of <S; but no great advantage is thereby gained, and the preference 
should probably be given to $% as the shorter. 18. On the &wa% \ey. f^trp 
cf. Barth, Noininalbild. 196 b. 19. Sac , Infill., taken as adj. by S>, which 
inserts it also before 7, pointed B r". On the relation between Biy; (here 
Qeri) and vy; (here Kethib) see critical note on I4 21 . 20. 11) 121 hy, where 
^y = according to, in respect to (cf. ^ Iig 9 -pa-o is 1 ^) ; Bi. iana, after (5 eV. 

Gr. nw -131. In b the Grk. Codd. vary between 0e< and Kvpty, a varia 
tion that appears throughout OT., and is adduced by Klost. as proof that 
difference of divine names in the Heb. text is not a sign of difference of 
authorship (for a criticism of Klost. see E. Konig, Tkeol. Stud. it. A rit., 1893). 

21. <& expands |IJ a 1 ? DDH into ffo<f>ovs KO.I ffwerofa. |D fb:; (5 0ai>Xouj, = 
Saj (Jag.), whence Bi. Sap harp; Gr. suggests o?j. S 1 gives |J freely. See 
note on this v. above. 22. Before $? v*?ya insert L> , with (S; it fell out by 
reason of the S of preceding 7S0. 23. (5$ vary from, but support. |t|. 

24. <S in , less well, y\vKa.ff/j.a dt avrov Tacris ^v\r)^, ND13 fflj^ iprci. 
25. (SJciCIL here vary slightly from their renderings of I4 1 -. 

XVI. 23-28 331 

26. Hunger makes a man industrious. 

The laborer s appetite labors for him, 
For his mouth impels him to work. 

Single sentence (second ci. explaining first cl.), ternary. Cf. 
Eccl. 6 7 . Appetite is Heb. ncfcsh (= so///), that part of the nature 
which desires or craves food ; so 6 1 " 23- 27" Dt. 14- 23 - 1 - " 1 Job 33 - 1 ". 
The second cl. is lit. for his month presses on him. The parono 
masia in first cl. is effective : man works, and his appetite works 
for him. Hunger, says the proverb, is a useful thing, since it 
drives a man on to work ; or, a man will work, whether he likes it 
or not, for hunger forces him to gain food. Industry, from this 
point of view, is not a virtue of high rank. Grk. : A man who 
labors labors for himself t and drives awav ruin; but the perverse 
brings ruin on his own mouth ; ruin is misreading of the Heb. 
word for month, and the last clause is the comment of a scribe. 
Syr.: the soul that inflicts suffering suffers, and from its mouth 
comes ruin, which in part follows the Greek. 

27, 30. Mischief -making. Ternary. Cf. 6 - -", a paragraph 
which is out of place in chs. 1-9. 

27. A wicked man digs (a pit of) mischief, 

And on his lips there is as it were a scorching fire. 

28. A false man scatters discord abroad, 
And a backbiter separates friends. 

29. A villain entices his neighbor, 
And leads him in a way not good. 

30. A slanderer devises falsehoods, 

A backbiter consummates mischief. 

27. A metaphor and a simile, ll ieked man, lit. man of belial ; 
see note on 6 1 -. Mischief (or, misfortune} is lit. evil. Hie second 
rl. indicates that the reference of the couplet is to slanderous talk : 
the man s lips scorch, burn those of whom he talks he digs a 
pit into which they fall. 28. Synonymous. Cf. i 7 . \rt.aman 
of falsehoods, a liar: on this term see note on 2 -; backbiter is 
lit. murmiircr, whisperer; in the second line, lit. : separates a 
friend, probably = not alienates his fiiein/, but, as the parallelism 
(t/iscont) and iS ls suggest, separates ( = alienates) one friend from 
another; on fricihi <;ee 2 17 (the RV. rendering, chief friends, = 


intimate friends, is possible but unnecessary) : Rashi : alienates the 
prince (such is the meaning of the Heb. word in Gen. 36 Zech. g 1 ), 
that is, God ; Luther : makes princes disagree. 29. Extensive. 
Villain is lit. man of violence, here in general a man of immoral 
or criminal methods of procedure ; he entices his neighbor or 
comrade (as in i lu ~ iy ) into habits of vice and crime, not to some 
secret place where he may rob or murder him this last does not 
suit the expression in a way not good. Neighbor = any associate 
or acquaintance, and, in general, any man. 30. Parallelism of 
expressions. The couplet is almost identical with 6 13- u . Lit. : he 
who shuts (or, winks) his eyes to devise, etc., he who shuts (or, 
bites) his lips consummates, etc. ; in first cl. the Infinitive expresses 
purpose, and the sentence is incomplete, or the meaning may be : 
he who shuts, etc. (does it) to devise, etc. (RV.) ; in second cl. the 
verb expresses the completed act. We may gain symmetry and 
completeness by changing the Infinitive into a finite verb, and 
reading : he who shuts . . . devises, etc., and he who closes . . . con 
summates, etc. ; this reading supposes that the acts of shutting or 
winking eyes and closing or gnawing lips are regarded as signs of 
evil purpose, which, from 6 13 ", appears to be the case. On the 
other hand, if we change the finite verb of second cl. into an 
Infinitive, we have a natural expression, but, at the same time, two 
incomplete sentences, and it must be supposed that a final clause 
has been lost, the complete proverb reading : " he who closes (or, 
winks) his eyes in order to concoct mischief, and he who shuts 
(or, snaps) his lips in order to perfect (or, as a sign that he has 
perfected) mischief, let him be avoided (or, he will surely come to 
grief)." Such a couplet, however, would be contrary to the norm 
of this Division, in which every couplet is complete in itself. The 
construction with two finite verbs is the simpler and the more 
natural. The expressions he who winks the eyes and he who closes 
(or, gnaws} the lips are equivalent to slanderer and backbiter. 
The progression of thought, devises . . . consummates, is rhetorical 
each of these classes of persons does both of these acts. The 
Grk. reads : 

He who fixes his eyes clevises falsities 
And marks out all evils with his lips; 
He is a furnace of wickedness. 


Whence I .ickell : he wlio shuts his eyes is false, he who closes his 
cars is a furnace of wickedness. lit. : he who with astonished 
eyes meditates wiekedness biting his lips perfects evil. The general 
sense of the couplet is plain, but form and translation are uncertain. 
Cf. US. 5". 

31. Righteousness gives long life. 

A hoary head is a crown of glory 
\Yhich is gained by a righteous life. 

Continuous, ternary. The second cl. is lit. /// the way ( life} 
of rig/ifecn/sness it is foil nit ( come upon, acquired}. The Hel>. 
hardly allows the rendering // // be found in, etc. (this idea is 
expressed eloquently in US. 25 4 -"). The assertion is that old age 
is the reward of rightdoing : righteousness, = wisdom, bestows long 
life (y- -" ; <?/.). The possibility that a bad man may live to be old 
is not here considered ; it is assumed that the wicked perish early 
(2-- i2 : 24" 29 1 & 9 17|IS) 55 2: 1 41 )- This conception, which is the 
prevailing one in OT. (it is opposed by Job) and in 1!S. (i 1 - i6 4 ), 
was modified by the acceptance of the doctrine of happy immor 
tality (WS. 4 s "honorable age is not . . . measured by number 
of years"), and is not found in XT. 

32. Excellence of self-control. 

Synonymous, ternary-quaternary (or, ternary-binary). Himself 
is lit. his spirit (= his inner nature, soul). The sage extols the 
virtue of moderation, self-control, a familiar one to Greek thought 
(o-oK^jornrr/) ; in ( )T. it is referred to only in the Wisdom books. 
Numerous parallel sayings (Chinese, Hindu, Greek, etc.) are cited 
by Malan ; see Hor., Ol. 2, 2. 1 )elit/sch refers to Pirke Ahoth, 
4, i, Par. Regained, 2, 466 ff. The (irk. adds, after first cl., its 
rendering of second cl. of 24 : and a /nan of prudence than a 
great estate. 

33. God controls men s decisions. 

The i"t is east into the lap, 

Ikit the whole decision of it is from Vahweh. 


Implied antithesis, ternary-binary. The thought is substantially 
that of v. 1 - 9 : all human affairs are controlled by God only, in 
this case, the arbitrament is consciously referred to him. The de 
termination of the divine will by casting lots was probably universal 
in the ancient world ; the deity was supposed to direct the throw ; 
see Iliad, 3, 316 ff., Cic., DC Dirin., 2, 41 (Cicero says that edu 
cated people of his time regarded the custom as a superstition), 
n OT. important public and private affairs are so determined 
(Ju. i ;! Isa. 34 1 Lev. i6 str Jon. i 7 a/., cf. Acts i* 3 ) ; the priestly 
decision by Urim and Thummin was probably by lot (i Sam. i 4 41ff 
28 Nu. 2f l at.). The term lot was used also as one s part or 
portion (Ju. i 3 $ 16*). On lap see notes on 5-" 6 27 ; the reference 
here is to the garment. 

26. 10 hey trcj; <5 dvrip ^i/ 7r6ms; hut j is better understood as = appetite. 
$ ws; dird>\fiav, = TS (Hitz.) ; in <5 the line <= is gloss on b . The stem 
p*< appears to signify lay on (so in Arab.),/r<r, urge, impel; in Syr. to be 
solicitous; for the Assyr. see De. Assyr. HJwbuch.; in $ Job 33" the noun 
px is probably to be emended, after <5, to p (Ols. Siegf. Budde, al.~). hy px 
is regarded by Wild, as Aramaism. Cf. BOB. 27. On Sj Sa see critical note 
on 6 12 . $ n-o; Gr. suggests (but unnecessarily) t:nn. Between Kethib 
vnfls> and Qeri I.IDI? there is little choice. 28. jnj was not understood by 
the Vrss. : XanwTypa d6\ov irvpo-ffofi KO.KOIS, in which X. suggests -n (Lag.), 
and K. is interpretation; quarrelter, or fiery, irascible; & empty, inane; 
1L verbose; cf. Lag. Baum. The small final Nun is doubtless due to some 
scribal accident in the archetypal MS. (cf. Lag.). 30. The stem nxy = com 
press (so Syr.) or strike (so Arab.) ; see note above on this verse. Stade com 
pares 3S>, which stem, in its late-Heb. and Aram, sense, shut, should perhaps 
be read here (so Gratz, Frank.). In any case the shut may suggest wink. 
On jnp see notes on 6 io 10 , and cf. ^ 35. The sense gnaw, bite, found in 
Ass. (De. Wbch.) suits the connection (lips) ; cf. tiriSdicvuv below, and the 
connection of np in Arab. Aram, with slander. In <5 ircbra rd naicd is 
doublet of OUTOS /cd/xu/os tvTiv KaKlas, but which is the earlier is uncertain; 
Bi. adopts icdfuvot icada*, = n;i np. Instead of the op/fet of B ( _ n L, 3 
(<S- V tpyifrt, perh. scribal error, perh. = nsp), a numl>er of Codd. (23. 106. 
109. 147. 149. 157. 252. 260.295.297) have tiriSdxvuv gnawing, adding, how 
ever, oplfci before irdvra., and e. is probably the original <@ reading (Lag.). 

On > see Pink. For v<P Or. reads vpp, a possible but unnecessary emenda 
tion. 33. VVjn p.s after passive verb (so Gen. 4" /.); what is commonly 
grammatical subject is here presented as the object of the action, or rather, as 
the object of contemplation, as in Arab, after inna, anna ; it is an attempt, 
on the part of the language, to give prominence and emphasis to the thing 
by holding it up as object of thought; see Ew. 295 b, Ges. 2fl 121 b. 

xvi. 33-XYii. 2 335 

. having rendered vjc.*7 r by wdvra ra SIKCUR, assimilates to by writing 
ai-ra. rofs ddiKo<.s, ~"u being left untranslated. 

XVII 1. Desirableness of a quiet life. 

Antithetic comparison, ternary -- the value of a quiet life. Cf. 
j.i., ir ,_-.(_ -j<] ie won j ] ierc rem i erc( i feasting j s ]i t> stit-rt/iies ; in 
ancient Israel all eating of flesh was a religious act the animal 
was first presented to the deity by the priest, and then eaten by 
the worshippers with the accompaniments of a feast ; see i Sam. 
9 1J - ; 20 - . The ordinary term tor this animal sacrifice is the 
one employed in our verse. Such sacrifice was offered at a 
shrine ; but the Deuteronomic code, which abolished all shrines 
but the Jerusalem temple, expressly authorizes the killing and 
eating of animals at home (l)t. I2 13 - 1 ). The old term for the 
ritual slaying of beasts is, however, sometimes used to express 
private slaying ( I)t. 12 Kz. ^ Isa. 34). and thus comes to 
denote feasting (so RY. ; AY. marg. gtx>i/ cheer} ; this word suffi 
ciently expresses the contrast of the meagre </rv morsel, bread 
without savory accompaniments, and the richness of a meal in 
which meat is the principal feature. It is uncertain whether the 
proverb contemplates a sacrifice proper, or a private preparation 
of animal food, but the general sense is the same in the two cases. 
Cf. note on y 14 . 

2. Cleverness succeeds. 

A wise slave will rule over a profligate son. 
And will share the inheritance among brethren. 

Continuous sentence, quaternary (or, ternary), ll ise one who 
acts with sagacity, a clever, capable person : moral excellence is 
not expressed, but is possibly to be understood. Profligate = one 
who acts shamefully, in such a way as to bring disgrace on himself 
and his family (see 10" i 2 4 14 - ). Share is lit. t/irn/e. The slave, 
in the case here supposed, is said, not to act, after the father s 
death, as executor of the estate, distributer of the property among 
the heirs (De.), but himself to be one of the heirs, promoted 
above the unworthy son ; for this sense of the verb see 29- (RY. 


is partner) ; share the inheritance need mean no more than come 
into possession of part of the property. Slaves in Israel, even 
when non-Israelite of origin, were considered as members of the 
family, adopted the religion of the master, and took part in the 
national festivals (Gen. 24 - I)t. 5 14 I2 1 -- 18 i6"- 14 ) ; in the later law 
(Gen. i? 1 -) the slave is required to be circumcised, though this 
rule is relaxed in the Talmud (Yebam. 48 b). Abraham (Gen. 
i5 :! ) speaks of his homeborn slave Eliezer as his heir; a man 
sometimes gave his daughter in marriage to his slave (i Chr. 2 :<0 ), 
who thus came to be head of the household. So an unworthy 
son, it is here said, might be partly or wholly set aside in favor of 
a capable slave. Such a case was, no doubt, exceptional the 
Old Testament law regards sons as the heirs, but it appears that, 
in later times, the father had considerable liberty in disposing of 
his property (see so 23 ) .* In regard to the value set on sons com 
pare what is said in Ben-Sira (i6 :! ) and Wisdom (4 ) of the unde- 
sirableness of bad children. For the idea cf. BS. io a . 

3. God the judge of character. 

The lining-pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold, 
And Yahweh is the trier of hearts. 

The couplet may be regarded (as in RV.) as expressing a con 
trast between material and spiritual testing, but is better under 
stood as an implied comparison: as . . . so; quaternary- (or, 
binary-) ternary. Other references to the process of testing and 
refining metals are Isa. i a Jer. 6- KJ Ez. 22 Mai. 3 3 ; the figura 
tive use is found in Isa. 4 8 10 V 7 s 66 10 Dan. 12 al. The charac 
ter of metals, says the proverb, is disclosed by the human process 
of refining, and the true nature of the human soul by God it is 
involved, of course, that he alone can fully estimate the soul- 
man may know something of it, but not all. The first cl. of this 
verse occurs in 27 n .f 

4. Moral badness of listening to evil talk. 

A bad man gives heed to wicked words, 
A false man listens to mischievous talk. 

* Cf Ewald. Alterthiimer, p. 240; Nowack, Arch., \ 29. 

tSee art. Refining in Smith, Diet, of Bib.; Now., Arch., } 43- 4! Rawlin ion, 
Phoenicia, p. 317. 


Identical thought \vith variation of terms, ternary. ll ords and 
talk are lit. /// and tongue ; wicked words is lit. /// of wickedness 
(Heb. awen) the defining noun is employed in 6 1 - ls 10-" n 7 
I2- 1 a/., and in OT. the majority of its occurrences are in Job, Ps. 
Prov. ; mischicroits talk is lit. tongue of injurv (or, destruction} ; 
for <i false man the Heb. text has falsify, hardly abstract for con 
crete, rather the text must be corrected; false is to be taken in 
the sense Q{ false (or, faith iess] to friends and companions (- un 
mindful of what is due to men), substantially equivalent to bad. 
The purpose of the proverb seems to be not to define bad and 
false as those who give heed, etc., but to assert that those who so 
give heed are bad and false. Another rendering of the couplet 
(Frank.) is : deceit ( ?) results when one gives heed, eic., falsehood 
results when one listens, etc., but this is scarcely natural. Many 
MSS. of Grk. here add a couplet which in the Vatican MS. occurs 
after v. ; . 

5. To laugh at misfortune is impious and dangerous. 

He who mocks the poor reproaches his Maker, 
He who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished. 

The rhythmical form is that of v. 4 . The first cl. is a variation of 
i4 la , on which verse see note. The calamity is apparently, from 
the parallelism, that which befalls the poor, and he who is glad at 
misfortune thus mocks the unfortunate ; such an one, inasmuch as 
he reproaches (contemptuously criticises) his divine Maker (by 
mistaking and blaming his providential control of the world), will 
incur punishment from God. The second cl., taken by itself, 
might refer to the punishment of heartlessness through the opera 
tion of natural laws. The sympathy with the poor here expressed 
is found throughout the Old Testament. The mocking is perhaps 
simply or mainly the failure to give sympathy and aid ; cf. P,S. / . 
Grk. adds : and lie wJio is compassionate will find me rc\, a nat 
ural contrast, probably a gloss. 

6. Parent and child each the ornament of the other. 

Children s children are the crown of old men. 
And the adornment of children is their fathers. 


Parallelism of form, two similar or complementary thoughts, ter 
nary. Cf. i// 127""" BS. 3" 25". The intimate relation between 
parent and child, in general the value of the family, is expressed 
by the statement that each member is the crown or adornment of 
the others ; mother and daughter are to be included. Parent 
and child form a social unit each gives support, dignity, and 
happiness to the other. The RV. rendering in second c\., glory, 
is possible, if the term be taken as meaning " honor received," 
but the parallelism shows that it is here equivalent to the crown 
of the first clause. The value placed on children as procuring 
respect for parents is apparent throughout OT.; a sort of protest 
against this feeling occurs in Wisd. Sol. 3 13 u 4*. Originally this 
desire for children was connected with the belief that the child 
less man, having no one, after his death, to provide food for his 
Shade, would fare ill in the Otherworld. Of this primitive belief 
(and of the related cult of ancestors) there are no definite traces 
in OT. The Grk. (Vat. MS.) adds: 

To the faithful belongs the whole world of wealth, 
But to the faithless not an obolus. 

It is difficult to explain this couplet as a corruption of any He 
brew proverb, or to attach it to any distich in the context. The 
sentiment resembles that of 3 10 , but the form is Greek, and we 
must suppose that a Greek-speaking scribe has inserted the lines 
in this place (or after v. 4 ) as a familiar saying, or from a current 
written collection of aphorisms. 

7. Let fools be false, and good men true. 

Honest words do nwt become a fool, 
Much less do lies a man of rectitude. 

Parallel between a less and a greater, ternary (or, ternary-binary). 
Lit. lip of excellence and lip of falsehood. The first cl. appears to 
be sarcastic and sardonic, = "a fool has no business to talk truth," 
or " true talk does not comport with a fool s character." Fool 
(Heb. nabal, in Pr. only here and ly- 1 30 ") is a contemptuous 
and opprobrious term involving lack of intellectual and moral in 
sight and weight (i Sam. 25"" 2 Sam. $ A Job 2 1 " \j/ 14 ) ; the con 
trasted word in second cl. (nadib) elsewhere in Pr., except i; 26 , 

xvn. 6-7 339 

means nobleman or prince (8" ; 25"), but here, from the parallel 
ism, better man of noble character, of rectitude (cf. Isa. 32", 
where it is contrasted, as here, with fool}. The general sense of 
the aphorism is apparent from the similar sayings in 19 " 26 ; in 
both of these something is mentioned which is obviously out of 
keeping with the status of the fool, and in 19" an advance is 
made to something which is regarded as still less appropriate in 
some other person. The precise sense of first cl. turns on the 
meaning of the subject of the sentence. The term which there 
in the Heb. defines speech signifies remainder or (in adverbial use) 
exceedingly throughout OT. except in our verse and Gen. 49" (in 
Job 4- the form is probably corrupt), but neither of these senses 
{abundance, dijfuscncss} is here appropriate; in Gen. 49" the 
meaning suggested by the connection is excellencv or (as Dillmann 
explains it) superiority, preeminence, and the same sense is found 
in Syriac and in a related Heb. word which occurs a number of 
times in Keel. (2 " 7 - al.}. There appears to be no authority for 
the meanings elevated, noble (K\v.) and pretentious, arrogant (De. 
Reuss, RV. marg.). The proverb seems to offer a sharp and sar 
castic antithesis the sage would say: "let every man act in 
character excellent (here = honest, true) words do not become 
a fool, nor lies a man of rectitude." According to De. the mean 
ing is : " it is repulsive to us when an ignorant, vulgar man puts 
himself impudently forward, and much more repulsive," etc. ; but 
this meaning (if it could be got from the Heb.) is not appropri 
ate, since, from the tone of the second cl., we expect in first cl. 
the mention of something which is alien to the fool. Nor, accord 
ing to OT. usage, can the contrast between the characters be a 
social one : churl . . . nobleman. Grk. : faithful (or, true] words 
do not become a fool, in which the adjective may be chosen as 
offering a distinct contrast to false, but the sense is appropriate, 
and may rest on a Heb. term; Lat. ; rcrba composita (feigned, 
false words, which are in excess of the truth). If the meaning 
honest, true be regarded as foreign to the word of the Heb., it 
ma be ot b a slight chane of text. 


but may be interpretation of |i) ; in b instead of the TroXXtDi of B we should per 
haps read ir\r)pr]s with N AC, and dya0H>v Kal dSiKuv are expansion, dS. being 
possibly scribal variation of /u.erd /mx^s. 2. $| s 32 J2; <S Sfo-Troruv d<f>p&- 
vwv, apparently = ;2 s > 2; Bi., comparing BS. io 25 (Aetfflepot). reads n-vi2, but 
this is hardly probable. In a <S has free rendering of |t); in b for jro stands 
tK\KTal (N* ^KX^yercu), from ina. Instead of Kvpiy (5 A has Ou> (9e<J3). 

4. |t? ""n is Hif. Partcp. of ];;->; we therefore expect a corresponding con 
crete form in lj , and may, with Gr., read npivc (cf. I S. I5 2J ) instead of ipr; 
j"D is for J:N^; both this verb and 3271:2 are commonly and properly followed 
by Sx, and so we should probably here read instead of *?;. For an extraordi 
nary translation of this couplet see Schultens. g<ABol Sixmos de ov irpo<r- 
^X et > probably scribal alteration to gain an antithesis; JQ is followed in 
(gfis. ici. 248. Coinpi. () n a couplet here added in <S A " see note on v. r> . 

5. |t] TN; <5 dTro\\v/j.^v({3, perh. = ~2S (Lag.). After misfortune (E1L add, 
as interpretation, of another. 6. On the couplet added in (S see note on this 
proverb above, and cf. notes of Lag. and Baumgartner. 7. In a <S Triffrd 
may be free rendering of J| ir. 1 * to gain a contrast with the \f/fvdrj of b ; but 
it is possibly error of (Irk. scribe for Trepifftrd (Grabe, Lag.); in b diKaltf) 
(representing $J a*":) may be miswriting of SiKaffry or dvvdffrrj (Jiig.), or, the 
Heb. may have been read pis, but (5 may be free translation of "JD. "i^" 1 must 
mean either remainder or abundance or excellence ; see note on this couplet 
above. The stem has the sense over and above in North Sem. (Ass. Aram. 
Heb.) and South Sem. (Arab. Eth.) ; in all these dialects, except Ass. (so 
far as reported in De. Wifo4.)the noun also means string whether this sense 
is related to the other is uncertain. The word should here probably be 
emended to ^u ; \ 

8. Power of a bribe. The Heb. reads : 

A stone of favor (or, beauty) is a gift in the eyes of its possessor 
Whithersoever he (or, it) turns, he (or, it) prospers (or, acts cleverly). 

Extensive (second cl. explaining first cl.), quaternary-ternary. 
Gift here, from the connection, = bribe, as in Ex. 2$* (= Dt. 
i6 11J ) Isa. i 23 1// 15 . The possessor (or, owner} is more naturally 
the briber, who succeeds by bribing ; if it be taken as = the 
bribed, the meaning is that the latter, stimulated by the gift, does 
his best {acts cleverly, skilfully, wisely}, or is successful. The 
stone, if characterized by beauty, precious stone (cf. i u 3-), and 
the meaning will be that the bribe, as a costly, precious thing con 
trols the action of venal magnates. But this sense is too nearly 
tautologous to be probable to say that a bribe is a precious 
stone is to say nothing to the point ; a bribe was in fact often lit- 

XVII. 8-9 34 ! 

erally a precious stone, generally its equivalent in money. We 
expect an expression describing the power of the bribe, and such 
an expression is furnished by Krankenberg s interpretation of 
s/one <if favor as a stone that brings favor, a lucky stone or 
magic stone. The Heb. expression does not occur in this sense 
elsewhere in ()T., but the Israelites had amulets (Kz. i3 ls ), and 
charms, sometimes made of precious stones, were widely em 
ployed in antiquity. The rendering : a bribe is a source of good 
luck gives an intelligible thought. The expression / // the eyes of, 
= in tJic estimation of, suits the bribed better than the briber, 
though it may be understood of the latter ; the reading //;. the 
hands of would be more appropriate for the briber. The couplet 
must be taken to mean either : 

A bribe is a beautiful thing in the estimation of him who accepts it, 
And he (accordingly) in all respects acts skilfully (or, successfully) ; 
or : 

A bribe is a thing of power in the hands of him who gives it, 
In all that he undertakes he prospers. 

The latter interpretation is the more probable. If in second cl. 
it be substituted for he, the general sense remains the same : the 
bribe succeeds. The two meanings of the verb (acts wisely and 
succeeds} are substantially identical ; one states the manner, the 
other the result of action; see i Sam. 18 " Isa. 52 ", and cf. Pr. 
I0 .-,. ut r ^:w j-i i j->o x ^2 j^n 2I n _ -pj ie sa g e s t a t; eS} without com 
ment, a fact of experience : bribery is a potent means of success. 
It is forbidden in Ex. 23 s al. 

9. Forbearance promotes friendship. 

lie who covers up transgression seeks love, 
lie who harps on a matter alienates his friend. 

Antithetic, ternary. Similar reflections are found in IO 1 - i6 2K . 
He who covers up (is silent about) the hasty speeches and ill- 
advised acts of his friend thus puts aside occasions of quarrel, 
and promotes kindliness of feeling ; he who repeats (or, spreads 
abroad, or, harps on) imprudent talk alienates his friend. The 
proverb is concerned not with crime but with gossip. The inver 
sion of subject and predicate, so as to read he covers transgression 
who seeks love (De., who refers to lo 1 -), is possible, but accords 


less well with second cl., in which the man s mode of dealing with 
his friend s slips of word and deed is the subject ; in ic 1 - the 

point of view is different hatred and lore are the subjects. 

(3\\ friend see notes on 2 17 i6- s ; on alienates (= separates ) notes 
on i6- s iS Ks , and cf. 18 19 . 

10. A wise man heeds criticism. 

A reproof enters deeper into a man of sense 
Than a hundred stripes into a fool. 

Simple comparison, ternary. The Grk., following a different point 
ing of the Heb., has : "a threat humbles (lit. crushes) the heart 
of a man of sense, but a fool, though scourged, does not under 
stand." The general meaning is the same in the two forms ; 
there is no good ground for changing the present Hebrew. The 
proverb is an observation of common experience, and has paral 
lels in other literatures. Hundred is a large round number ; cf. 
the legal " forty stripes save one." We may render : a reproof 
affects (or, benefits)," etc. --Enters is lit. descends; Hitzig com 
pares Sallust, Jug. 1 1 : altius in pcctus descendit. 

11. Rebellion is dangerous. 

A i rebel > seek to do mischief, 

Hut a terrible messenger is sent to him. 

Continuous sentence, ternary (as the text stands). The first cl. 
reads literally : rebellion seeks only mischief, or possibly, rebellion 
certainly seeks, etc. the translation above given involves a slight 
change of text ; there is no good authority in OT. usage for the 
statement (De. Siegfried a/.) that the abstract rebellion is used for 
the concrete reb nis (in !]/. 2 44 we should read, with Grk., 
house of rebellion), (irk. (followed by Lat. and RV.) inverts this 
order of subject and predicate : every bad man stirs up strifes, 
but so general an allegation does not account for the sharp threat 
of the second clause. The statement a bad man seeks only rebel 
lion (as the Heb. may be rendered) is not true unless the last 
term is taken (as it is used elsewhere in OT.) as = "disobedience 
to God"; so it seems to be understood in part by the Grk., 
which renders the second cl. : but the Lord will send to him a pit- 


i/t-ss angel (or, messenger*), that is, some frightful misfortune 
(storm, pestilence, or the like). This sense is, however, here im 
probable if Yahii.<eh were meant to be the subject, it would be 
expressed and the second cl. suggests that some flagrant crime 
like rebellion is had in mind, and then the subject of the sentence 
is naturally a rebellious man or a rebel. Rebellious, in the sense 
of " disobedience to God," is distinctively a term of the Prophetic 
thought. If the text be correct (as to which there is ground for 
doubt) the proverb is purely political (like 2^~ ? , etc.), affirming 
that rebellion against constituted authority is an evil and danger 
ous thing. Such an opinion might suit many different periods of 
history : it might possibly belong to the time of Kzekiel, who (Ez. 
17) denounces Zedekiah for his rebellion against the King of 
Babylon, or to the fifth or fourth century K.C., when the Jews were 
accused (Xeh. 6 " s ) of wishing to make themselves independent 
of Persia, or when (according to Kuseb. Chron., in the Armenian 
translation) a considerable body of Jews was deported, by Artax- 
erxes Ochus, to Hyrcania in punishment for an uprising ; but it 
more naturally falls in the Greek period when rebellions were rife 
in the various provinces into which Alexander s empire was di 
vided. The emendation : the king will scud a terrible one 
against him (Dyserinck) gives a good sense (substantially iden 
tical with that of our Heb.), and should, perhaps, be adopted. 
On terrible (or, cruel) see 5 n 17 i2 10 Jer. 6 -Ja Isa. 13 . 

12. A fool is dangerous. 

Meet a bear robbed of her whelps 
Rather than a fool in his folly. 

Continuous sentence with implied comparison, binary. Lit. : let 
a bear, etc., meet a man rather, etc. For the picture of the bear 
see 2 Sam. \~f Hos. 13*. The point of comparison is the danger 
involved in the two meetings ; in the animal the danger arises 
from her ferocious anger, in the fool from his intellectual and 
moral idiocy he is capable of everything, his folly is an integral 
part of him. The couplet may be based on an old folk-saying. 
Grk. (with a peculiar reading of the Heb.) : care may come on 
a wise man, but fools meditate evil. 


13. Punishment of returning evil for good. 

\Vhoso returns evil for good, 

From his house evil shall not depart. 

Simple affirmation, ternary. Such base ingratitude, it is said, will 
be punished whether through the social laws that spring from 
men s moral sense, or by direct divine action, is not said. For 
the phrase of first cl. see i Sam. 25- , and on returning good for 
evil see Pr. 25- -. 

8. ]i) -inu ; ,i jn px, for which <5 has nurObs \a.p (.Tuv iraiSet a; Lag., with 
probability, emends to <rra0/x6s for fj.., and tiriSoiris for TT.; <, inverting, XSD 
tnpn N-infc i; & misunderstands; 1L gemma gratissima expectatio praesto- 
lantis. 9. $? njir repeat (with 3 introducing the thing in which the repeti 
tion occurs) gives a good sense; (Jr. emends to r\yy errs, and Winckler to 
n;:r2 reports, a meaning which occurs in Ass. (De. \Vbch.~) but not in Heb. 
(5 nivei Kpi/Trreiv, in which /JL. = N^r (and so 2T), and K. may be rendering of 
131 understood as = the idea contained in the nco?: of" (Lag.). On S, which 
is based on , see Pinkuss. 10. In fij rrn (from rnj) the first rad. is assimi 
lated, and the tone, for rhythmical reasons, is retracted; the assimilation occurs 
also in Jer. 2i 13 Job 2i 13 , but not in \f> 38 3 ; cf. Ols. 237 a, Ges.- 66 / The 
stem is perhaps Aramaic. (5 in a has free rendering of |i); in it seems to 
have read 0x2 *?p3 n:n3 (Jag. Lag.) or to have taken rnn from prn (vvvrpl- 
fifi), a reading which Frank, adopts; the derivation from rnj seems more 
appropriate. expands $; follows (5; 11 = $. 11. $ > (wanting in 
(SSiT, in 1L rendered l)y semper ) taken either as = only or as = certainly, is 
inapposite, and the abstract nn (read n3->3 in lL)is here very improbable, if 
not impossible; read ns c-x (as SC have it). After n s r the Prep. 3 seems 
properly to introduce the object which one stretches out the hand to grasp; 
we should here perh. read V? or vSx. Before n Bi., following , inserts Va; 
for |t? IN" ^ Gr. reads ^S^^ (so 6 11 ), but the difference is not important; Dys., 
more probably, -fc? and nS-^._12. For the Ileb. of <5 a Jag. suggests u ; jo 
Srjt- c-x3 n3xi; in read S.x instead of "x : to a fool is folly. S in " follows 
(5, only doubling the subject (care and fear}, in = "$L], with S N for s x. 2T in a 
mingles |l) and S, in , reading Sx, interprets $. 1L = ty. 

14. Of quarrelling. 

Text and translation are doubtful. Our Heb. may be rendered : 
a letter out of water is the beginning of strife, and before getting 
wrought up (= excited, angry) leave off contention, or ... before 
contention (or, quarrelling) breaks out, leave off. The word \c\\- 
dered getting wrought up (or, quarrelling) occurs elsewhere in OT. 

xvii. i 3 -i5 345 

only in iS 1 20", on which see notes.* The reference in the first 
line of our Heh. text seems to be to making a small aperture in a 
<lam or in anything which prevents the flow of water : it is easy to 
let the water out, hard to stop it the aperture grows larger, and 
the How of water stronger. This ronst ruction is intelligible, 
though the language is somewhat indefinite ; we should expect 
mention of the point whence the water is let out ; in any case, we 
must, for grammatical accuracy, read : a letting out, etc. The 
Grk. gives what is perhaps a better text by reading words instead 
of water, whence we have : outpouring of words is the beginning 
of strife, a warning against thoughtless talk, as in io u if 7 . In 
the second line the norm of the Book leads us to expect an asser 
tion (parallel to that of first line) that something comes before 
something (as in i5 :i:1 i6 H ) perhaps (omitting the leave off} : 
before conflict goes quarrelling, a progression in the thought. 
Hither the rendering of RV. {leave off contention before there be 
quarrelling) or that of Siegfried (before contention break out leave 
off} is, however, possible. Whatever the precise form of the 
aphorism may be, its general sense is clear it is a warning 
against strife. 

15. God abhors judicial corruption. 

He who gives judgment for the wicked and he who condemns the righteous 
Are both of them an abomination to Yahweh. 

Simple affirmation, quaternary-ternary (or, binary-ternary). The 
offence described is that of the unjust judge, controlled by preju 
dice, passion, servility to governors, or a bribe. The Heb. of 
first cl. contains an assonance that cannot well be imitated in 
modern Knglish, somewhat as he who rig/its the wrong ami lie 
who wrongs the right (the verb right as in Shakspcre, Rich. III. 
i, 3). The rendering of RY., justifies (that is, pronounces /list}, 
now conveys a wrong impression, one too distinctly ethical, and 
aci/ints is too narrow a term, since the bad man is not necessarily 
the defendant in the trial. From this Heb. word the forensic ex 
pression //^7//r has passed into XT. (Rom. 3-", etc.). W ickcil is 


he whose cause is bad, righteous he whose cause is good. On 
abomination see note on 3 :a . For the idea of the couplet cf. Ex. 

23 7 Dt. 25 Isa. 5 -" i K. 8" - Job 34 17 i/> 94- Pr. 2^. 

16. Wisdom is beyond the fool s reach. 

If the fool has money to buy wisdom, 
What boots it, since he has no mind? 

Question, really prose, but arranged in ternary form. Lit. why 
(or, of what avail} is there a price in the fool s hand to buy wis 
dom, and intellect (lit. heatt} there is none? (irk. : why has a 
fool wealth ? for a dolt cannot buy wisdom. The term fool ap 
pears to refer to both intellectual and moral weakness, since wis 
dom in Pr. is commonly employed in the wider sense. There 
may be an allusion to attendance, by mentally and morally weak 
persons, on the instruction of sages; but, as it is doubtful whether 
fees were taken by the Jewish teachers, the proverb may merely 
affirm that wisdom cannot be got without certain qualities of 
mind. Here, as elsewhere in the Book, the fool is absolutely ex 
cluded from the domain of wisdom, and nothing is said of a 
change of mind whereby he may enter it. De. cites the "golden 
proverb " of Democritus : " there are many who have learning 
without mind (vovv) " ; but the antithesis of Pr. goes deeper 
the fool is not merely lacking in breadth and fineness of intellect 
ual apprehension, he is also unsympathetic toward all knowledge 
and wisdom. Mind is properly " capacity to learn," which here 
probably involves "disposition to learn." The Grk. adds a 
couplet made up from v. 19a and v. 20 . 

17. Value of friendship. 

A friend is always friendly, 
A brother is born for adversity. 

Identical, ternary. As symbols of steadfast, helpful affection 
friend and brother are here (as in ^ 35", cf. 2 Sam. i 26 ) equiva 
lents : one is loving at all times, even in times of trial ; the other 
is born for ( = intended for, adapted to, exercises his specific 
function in) adversity, the occasion which most severely tests 
friendship. Many recent translators (De. Renss, Kamp. RV. 
marg. at.) adopt the rendering and is born as a brother for (or, 

XVII. . 5 -iS 347 

/;/) adversity, that is, the true friend, in time of trial, is, as it were, 
born anew into blood-kinship and assumes the role of brother. 
This translation gives substantially the same sense as the other, 
identifying //vV//;/ and brother in respect of faithfulness, but is less 
natural, and less exact. Some interpret the second line as ex 
pressing a contrast to (and an advance on) the first line, with the 
sense : "a friend, it is true, is always friendly, but in time of trial 
it is the brother (at other times indifferent) that comes forward " ; 
but the term always appears to include times of trial ; the friend 
is not friendly in fair weather only, and the brother does not con 
fine his kindness to seasons of adversity. A brother is a natural 
representative of unselfish love; but Pr. in two places (iS 1;l iQ 7 ) 
represents the fraternal relationship as far from perfect, and in 
two places (18 - 27" ) puts it below the relationship of friend or 
neighbor that is, it estimates the bond of social affection as 
higher than that of blood. On the value of friendship see BS. 
6 14 ~" ; 22- ;; . The love of sister for brother or of brother for sister is 
nowhere directly spoken of in OT. (in 2 Sam. 13-" Absalom is 
next of kin and natural protector), but the word sister is used as 
= dear friend (7* Cant. 4 #/.). 

18. Folly of going security. 

Void of sense is he who pledges himself, 
\Yho becomes security to another. 

Identity of predicates, quaternary or ternary. Pledges himself is 
lit. strikes hands; on the expression see notes 0116 n 1 " . The 
another refers to the creditor. To another is lit. /// t/ie presence 
of his neighbor. Grk. : for his ox>>i friends, with the same gen 
eral sense. Similar warnings are given in 6 " : ii 1 20 " 22 - 27 ^ 
US. 29 IV - ". The OT. law says nothing of such security ; the cus 
tom arose, doubtless, in the later commercial life. 

19, 20. Strife and falseness are destructive. 

in.. lie loves .wounds who loves strife, 

He who .talks- proudly seeks destruction, 

.20. A false heart finds no good, 

A lying tongue falls into calamity. 


19. Chiastic parallelism, quaternary (or, binary). Instead of 
wounds the Heb. has sin, not here appropriate, the corresponding 
term in second cl. being destruction; the emendation requires 
only a slight change in the Hebrew. In second cl. the text reads : 
he who makes high his door, which is understood to refer to the 
pride and ostentation shown by building the house-door high * ; 
but no such custom is known to have existed in antiquity, and the 
parallelism calls for an expression referring to strife ; the change 
of a letter gives the reading makes high his mouth, = speaks lof 
tily, haughtily ; cf. the similar expression speak loftily in i Sam. 2 :! .f 
-The parallelism involves the idea that proud words occasion 
strife, and strife is always injurious, often destructive. Cf. n- 
i8 12 20 :; 29 - 3 . 20. Synonymous, binary-ternary. Lit. he who is 
false in heart ( mind, inward being) and he who is false in 
tongue ; on the first of these terms for false see note on 2 15 it 
means " that which deviates from the straight line," " morally 
crooked"; the second means " that which is turned away from 
the proper form." Finds meets with. The good and calamity 
(lit. evil) relate not to moral advantage or disadvantage, but, as 
appears from the whole course of thought in the Book, to external 
prosperity or adversity; it would, besides, be tautological to say 
that the liar is not morally good. 

21. Children not always a joy. 

lie who begets a dolt does it to his sorrow, 
And the father of a fool has no joy. 

Identical, ternary. The two terms dolt (Heb. kes il) and fool 
(Heb. nabal) are here practically identical in meaning. The 
former (which occurs nearly fifty times in Pr., see note on i~) 
is " dull, slow-witted," intellectually, morally, or religiously ; the 
latter (found elsewhere in Pr. only in iy 7 30", and less than 
twenty times in the whole OT. ) commonly, outside of Pr., relates 
to religious folly. Here the reference may be to intellectual and 
moral stupidity, or to the intellectual sort alone. Cf. v. - " of this 
chapter, and BS. 22". Grk. (imitating lo 1 ) adds: but a wise 

* The Grk. has : -who makes his house high, 

t Aben Ezra, Schult. al. interpret door as = mouth, but this is an improbable 

XVII. IQ-22 

son makes a glad mother, an antithesis which might naturally have 
been appended by a scribe. 

22. Cheerfulness is health. 

A cheerful heart is a good medicine, 
]5ut a broken spirit dries up the bones. 

Antithetic, quaternary (Or, binary). C f. \^ \ to first cl. of which 
our first cl. is conformed by some critics ; but the variation of the 
Heb. seems more probable. On Jicart and spirit see notes on z* 
and ii"; both terms here relate to temper of mind in first cl. 
we have a cheery, courageous nature, in second cl. a broken-spir 
ited, dejected, downcast nature. In first cl. the predicate is lit. 
causes good licaling (or, recovery}. The l>oncs< as skeleton, repre 
sent the whole body ; they may be vigorous, fat, full of marrow 
(3" if ifr 1 Isa. 58"), or feeble, rotten, eaten by caries (12 i4 ;; " 
i// 31"" " Job 30"") ; in this verse the dry ness is contrasted with 
the fatness (fulness of marrow) of healthy bones. The reference 
is primarily to the physiological effect of temper of mind, and 
then, perhaps, to the general effect on life ; as to the old-Hebrew 
conception of the relation of the bones to the rest of the body, 
the process of nourishment in bones, and the relation of mind to 
body we have no precise information. For similar sayings among 
other peoples see Malan ; on ancient medicine see art. Medicine 
in Smith, Diet, of Bible. 

14. ->;.:= or -vj.i is better than li) -vjb (so Gr.). On the stein yS) see Sehult. 
Ges. Thes. I!I>I5. From Arab, it appears to signify inuoi er, disclose ( Heb. 
n*?j), then s/iow the teeth, quarrel, rage ; the last-named meaning suits the use 
of the Ilith. in 1 r.; dr. (after XicMei, viii. 2) takes it as = luirst forth (so also 
Siegf.); Heb. rw, Syr. > s j, Arab. ; : -:, seem to be different stems. Frank., 
in opposition to the rendering l<eforc there be conflict, says that ^D S is never 
used in dehortation, but always introduces something that actually precedes; 
yet cf. Gen. 27 TO ^3^. (? is partly corrupt, partly based on a different 
IIeb. text from ours: f^ovcriav diduffiv perh. = -03 ^I TI-S free course (but J;ii, r . 
refers to \f/ 22*) ; Xo /ois = c^ 1 : (instead of z*-.) ;<rui>r]s is perh. for diaoi- 
Kaaias and eVoet as for dcaioeias (;" .).-: ) ([;i^.).--S read ~"i for 3-7, ami 
peril. a-i;-i for ^J-T (T.auin.); J" appears to expand (cf. I inkussi; 1L 1 ./ 
ttn/ei/uam fafiatiir coiitHHieliaiii (perh. = i>e/ore he is .>//v /yV,/) jinln in;// t/ese- 
rit. 16. On the arrangement of lines in (P see note on v. 1 - below. -- IT. I o 
take ">^ as = in adversity is perh. possible, but is here hardly natural. In 
(3 has a doublet, the second member of which is abridged; or this second line 


may be an interpretative gloss. J& jrn was, according to Jag., understood by 
<5 as Ilif. Impv. of njn make thee a friend. 18. (Sil take "p jrpn as a gesture 
of joy. $ injp <joS; (Jr., retaining sense of $), "i ]"^; Bi., after (TWV 
eauroO 4>l\wv) njnS, making the reference general the nature of the warning 
is not thereby affected. 19. $ i - s; Gr. yss, which is preferable. In <5 
the order of lines differs from that of Jty : after v. 16 come v. 19b and a modified 
form of v. 2) , then v. 17 (with doublet), is. ioa.2-). tne change is due to an error of a 
Grk. scribe. |j TIPS; (5 rbv favrov O IKOV, ^1 or -inp3, a good sense, but 
not preferable to that of |. It is better, however, with Frank., to read c; cf. 
the combination of raj with -a--, I Sam. 2 3 . 21. $) ^ -j <g KapSia, = 3.S. 
here inapposite and against the parallelism ; it is perh. induced by the K. of 
v. 2 -. 22. |9 nrn is most naturally connected with the verb of Hos. 5 13 , and 
so, = heali tig. The similarity to I5 13 has suggested the sense face, for which, 
however, there is no authority (see Arab, nnj and rm). The primitive signifi 
cation of the stem is uncertain ; cf. Syr. Nru, flee, withdraw (whence perhaps 
our noun, = cessation, betterment), and see notes of De. Now., and the lexi 
cons. (5 eveKTelv; JotC read ,TU body, and Dys. Gr. emend to rm. 

23. Wickedness of taking bribes. 

A wicked man accepts a bribe 
To pervert the course of justice. 

Single sentence, ternary. Lit. . . . accepts a bribe from the bosom 
(that is, of a briber) . . . the ways of justice. On bosom as = a 
part of a garment, and on its use as pocket see notes on (y 1 i6 1<53 ; 
on bribe (lit. gift) see v. 8 above, and on the power of gifts cf. 
2 1 14 . The rendering . . . takes a bribe from (his own) bosom 
(that is, in order to corrupt a judge and pervert justice), while 
possible, accords with the Heb. and with parallel sayings less well 
than the translation above adopted. The wicked man is here the 
corrupt judge or other influential person. 

24, 25. Inanity and oppressiveness of the fool. 

24. The goal of the man of understanding is wisdom, 
The fool s eyes roam over all the world. 

25. A foolish son is a grief to his father 
And bitterness to her that bare him. 

24. Antithetic, ternary. Lit. /// front of the man of understand 
ing is wisdom, but the eyes of the fool are on the ends of the earth. 
The man of understanding (see 8 <J 17" 2 :> ) is he who compre- 

XVII. 23-26 351 

hends the issues of life, and makes it his aim to attain the true 
principle and law of conduct (the divine law implanted in the 
mind of man) ; the fool, on the other hand (Hel>. kcsil, see v. J1 ), 
lacking in insight and stability, is incapable of fixing his attention 
on any one thing, and therefore does not seek wisdom. The in 
terpretation " the man of sense sees wisdom everywhere, the fool 

seeks it unsuccessfully everywhere" (Ew. al.} is improbable 

the fool is not represented in Pr. as seeking wisdom except in the 
moment of final deadly peril (i- s ), while the reference here is to 
the man s ordinary thought, and the point is his lack of serious 
ness ; cf., on the other hand, the attitude of the scoffer in 14 . 
For the expression ends of the earth see Jer. 2^" Dt. 28 " <// i35 7 
Mt. 12 - a!.; it denotes the extremities of the then known world, 
that is, the region south of Ethiopia, the south of Arabia, the 
region just east of the Tigris (perhaps to the centre of Asia), Asia 
Minor, and the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea. 25. Identical, 
ternary-binary. The proverb is a variation of lo 1 15^ if 1 . Fool 
(kes i/) as in v. J1 - l . Delit/sch makes if- -iS- a separate section 
on the ground that it begins and ends with the same thoughts 
which open and close the preceding passage, i;- 1 - 4 ; but the 
repetition of a proverb hardly warrants such a division ; see the 

26. Against injustice under forms of law. 

The first line of the I leb. is clear : 

Also to line the righteous is not fjood. 

The word also (= intensive a IK/), which implies a conjunction or 
contrast with something that precedes, is here without significance, 
unless we suppose a lost line or couplet with which this line or 
this couplet stands in contrast (possibly 18" ) ; and even if the 
order of lines in the couplet be inverted, the word will still be in 
apposite, since the relation of thought between the two lines does 
not call for such an emphatic connective; the rendering nrn 
(Kamphausen: a/rea,/\-~) is, for the same reason, improper. - 
l ine ( usually employed of a pecuniary mulct, 1 )t. 22" ^/.) may 
= more generally punish (as in 22 " ). Not good = not proper. 
The second line may be rendered : 7 <> smite the noble for upright- 


ness (R.V.), or: ... againsf equity, unjustly (Frank, al.}, or: 
. . . is against equity, = is unseemly (Wild.). The first sense is 
improbable : in first line the bad act is simply punishing a just or 
righteous man (without the addition " for his justice or righteous 
ness"), nor in fact is the u noble " man commonly assailed "for 
(= on account of) his nobleness," but in a rapacious spirit which 
cares not whether its victim be noble or ignoble, or his cause just 
or unjust. The second rendering (in which the expression is not 
good must be supplied from first line) involves a tautology any 
punishment of a righteous man must be unjust. The third ren 
dering gives a distinct parallelism of predicates in the clauses. 
Kamphausen changes the text and renders : to smite the noble is 
so in high degree (that is, is emphatically not good}, but the trans 
lation is doubtful, and a climax here is improbable. If the word 
noble be retained, it must, from the parallelism, be understood in 
a moral sense, as = righteous. It may mean nobleman, prince 
(8 16 25 7 Job I2- 1 // 1 1 8" a!.), or willing, freehearted (Ex. 35 ), but 
also, apparently, morally noble : thus in v. 7 of this chapter it is 
put over against fool, and in Isa. 32"^ is contrasted with fool and 
knave. Another emendation of text (Frank.) gives the reading : 
to oppress (him} in court unjustly (or, inequitably}, to which the 
tautology {oppress . . . unjustly} seems a decisive objection. 
Probably the second line should be read either : / / is not seemly 
(or, fair} to oppress the upright, or : // is not seemly to pewert 
justice. Cf. 1 8" , which appears to be a variation of this couplet, 
and after it our line might be read : to oppress the upright in 

27, 28. Value of silence. Identical, quaternary-ternary (or, 

27. lie who is sparing of words is wise, 
A man of cool spirit is judicious. 

28. Even a fool, if he hold his peace, is accounted wise, 
Sensible, if he keep his lips shut. 

27. Cf. io u) . First rl. lit. . . . knows knowledge; cf. 4 , know 
understanding. The man of cool spirit (lit. he who is cool of 
spirit} is one who maintains composure and self-control, is not 
under the dominion of excited feeling, and is therefore cautious in 

XVII. 26-28 

speaking; die proverb is primarily directed not against literary 
loquacity (though this may well be included), but against lan 
guage, which may stir up ill feeling. Subjects and predicates 
may be inverted, so as to read : The wise man is sparing of words, 
the judicious man is ftw/. The ancient Hob. editors (in the Ma- 
sura) read, in second d., he who is precious (= costly, dear, rare) 
of spirit, which is interpreted by Rash i (perhaps guided by first 
d.) to mean he who is sparing of wonts, by others of worthv bear 
ing (Saadia) or character (Schult. AV.). The two last render 
ings are tautological (cf. I)e.) ; the translation cool (which is 
generally adopted by recent expositors) seems satisfactory ; (irk. 
longanimoiis ; Targ. humble. Wise, lit. a man of wisdom (or, 
comprehension}. 28. The meaning is not that the fool shows 
wisdom in keeping silence, but that silence conceals folly, and is, 
moreover, commonly regarded as a sign of profundity. See many 
proverbs, similar to these two, in Malan s Notes. 

23. <5 gives a very free rendering of the whole couplet as a single sentence, 
and adds a doublet of the second half; see Fag. s attempt to explain the word 
ing, and Baum. s criticism of Fag. S he who receives bribes is wicked, and per- 

is the way of justice, less probable than ?>. 24. |> - jS r.x alongside of, in 
from of; (Jr. emends improperly to -n -,x toward. Before p- Bi. inserts u\v, 
unnecessarily; sense and rhythm in \\ are good. In (5SC r>x is not ren 
dered. With & > - ; the Ch-k. text is better read irpovuTrov cvverov dvdpbs 
<ro<pov, giving no sense (Fag.). The pn rejoice of "" must be emended, 
after S, to P >n look, as in the Urcslau Codex (Pink.). 26. Omit =1 as mean 
ingless ( f. note on v* below). The - before -v is improbable, since U ;; is 
elsewhere followed by noun without Prep, (see 21"); we should perh. read 
(see the ^ in ) ; the insertion of the Prep, before the noun may be error 
of eye, or may be due to an Aramaic-speaking scribe. 11) rrnS; better r^nS 
( Frank.). For -; cf. Arab, a^ active, excellent ( = physically or morally good), 
Kth. a;:- exposed to peril (= pressed on} the stem perhaps = move on, 
Press forward. "fa -^ ^-; affords no satisfactory sense; read Ti" ^i ((lr.\as 
(5 oi,8c 6Vio,(I)ys. v^ ^a); the emendation -.n, *; superabundantly (Kamp.) 
does not accord witli the context. ^ who say what is right; 1L ,ftri recta 
-27. K ^; () v-. I he latter is followed freely by (piTll and the 
medieval Jewish interpreters, the former by 28. & -\ introduces a con 
trast between the S* and the naturally suggeste.l = = n (in vV there is no 
such natural suggestion of contrast between pis and ;--.). d vo j TV tTrepu- 
- ^-.) vo^iav (ro<t>ia (n ;;.-,) \>>y l< r6ri<TfTa.i, an improbable reading. 
< )n the unimportant couplet a.lded in & 8 - KI to v ., and apparentlv a free 
variation of v. *", see Fag $ repeats a-,-,--; in > . 

2 A 


XVIII. 1. Our Heb. reads: One who separates himself (or, 
holds himself aloof, or, is alienated) seeks desire, quarrels with 
(or, rages against) all wisdom (or, quarrels by every means). 
This is now generally held to mean that one who holds himself 
aloof from his friends or from society follows his own selfish de 
sires and ambitions, and opposes everything reasonable.* This 
observation, however, does not accord with the tone of Proverbs. 
The character thus described is that of a man who, wrapped up 
in himself, ignores the interests and claims of the community, and 
thus becomes an enemy of society. The same thought, in ecclesi 
astical form, is expressed in Hillel s saying (Pirke Aboth, 2, 4) : 
"separate not thyself from the congregation," that is, "be not a 
separatist, a free-lance or schismatic, do not withdraw thyself 
from the mass of belief and custom represented by the commu 
nity" an idea natural to an Israelite of the later time, but, in its 
broader form improbable for the sages of Proverbs. Grk. (fol 
lowed by Lat.) has : a man who wishes to separate from friends 
seeks pretexts, but at all times he will be liable to reproach (or, per 
haps, and . . . will be full of reproach), which reads pretext for 
desire and will be reproached for will quarrel, and adds from 
friends. This reading is adopted substantially by Hitzig and 
Frankenberg. The latter renders : the alienated friend seeks an 
occasion [of quarrel], seeks by all means to stir up strife, which in 
its homely tone resembles other aphorisms of the Book, but 
appears to be over-cynical. The renderings at all times (Grk.) 
and by all means (Frank.) are doubtful. Hitzig s translation is 
not more satisfactory : he who is excluded [by men from their 
society] seeks an occasion, gnashes his teeth against all that is ben 
eficial [to others]. It seems impossible to get a satisfactory 
sense from the Hebrew, and no good emendation presents itself. 

2. The fool s fatuousness. 

A fool takes no pleasure in sound sense, 
But rather in revealing his nature. 

* So Luth. RV. Ew. De. a/. For the views of the early commentators see Cr it- 
id Sacri and Geier. Aben Ezra explained it as referring to the traveller who 
leaves home in order to search out all knowledge. So nearly B. Hodgson (Ox 
ford, 1788) : .-/ retired man pursueth the researches he delighteth in, and hath 
pleasure in each branch of science, a pleasing picture, but forbidden by the verb 
of the second clause. 


Antithetic, ternary. On fool (kesi/) see notes on i - - 17- . So/tint 
sense is comprehension and the conduct which follows therefrom ; 
see note on 2 -. The second cl. is lit. but in his mind s \_hearf s~\ 
disclosing itself. The fool, that is, having no inkling of what is 
wise and noble, has fatuous satisfaction in following out and man 
ifesting his intellectual and moral feebleness, which he regards as 

3. Vice entails disgrace. 

\\ hen . wickedness > comes then comes also contempt, 
And on i insolence follows scorn. 

Synonymous, binary (or, quaternary-binary). The Heb. reads: 
when the wicked man comes, comes also contempt, and with dis 
grace is scorn. The reading wickedness (obtained by a change 
of vowels) is favored by the form of expression of first cl., by the 
second cl., and by the parallel line in n- (comes pride, then comes 
disgrace}. Of the three other nouns of our Heb. the first and 
third are active (expressing one s feeling toward a person), the 
second is passive (expressing the state of the despised person). 
The relation of the nouns of first cl. to each other is ambiguous : 
the contempt may be felt by the wicked for others, or by others 
for him ; the second sense is favored by the parallelism (the 
scorn of second cl. is directed toward the bad man), and by such 
proverbs as i i J . --The second cl. in our Heb. affords no satisfac 
tory sense. Disgrace cannot be taken (Xockler) as = shameful 
conduct (synonymous with wickedness). The couplet is by some * 
understood to mean : " the wicked man despises others, but with 
the disgrace which he inflicts on others comes scorn from others 
for him." a forced interpretation of second cl. Others,! following 
the (irk., read : " When the wicked comes, comes also contempt, 
disgrace, and scorn," which is grammatically and rhythmically 
improbable. A slight change of text gives the reading for sec 
ond cl. \ : and with Jiim are disgrace and scorn, that is, he (the 
wicked man) inflicts these on others; this (identical in sense 
with Fleischer s rendering, but grammatically better) is intel 
ligible, but is not quite natural. A parallel to first cl. is got if 

* Struck, ,;/, \ \Vith Fleischer. + Griitz, Hickcll, 


(by an easy change of consonants) we substitute insolence (or, 
pride} for disgrace : " with wickedness is contempt, with pride is 
scorn." The ambiguity of direction in scorn remains ; for the 
reasons given above it is better to take it as felt toward the bad 
man. Grk. and Lat. regard the contempt of first cl. as inflicted 
by the wicked ; in second cl. Lat. makes him the sufferer, Grk. is 
doubtful. On contempt, disgrace, scorn see notes on 1 2* f 6. 
The distinction made by Delitzsch, that the first and third of 
these terms relate to words, and the second to conduct, is not 
warranted by OT. usage. 

4. The Heb. text reads : The words of a man s mouth are deep 
waters, a flowing brook, a wdlspring of wisdom. This unre 
stricted statement does not accord with the thought of Prov., in 
which no such excellence is ascribed to men in general (in i2 14 
the text is to be changed) ; nor can we take man as = " the ideal 
man," or paraphrase (Ew. De.) " it often happens that the words," 
etc. this is not in the manner of the Book. As the couplet 
stands, the man must be qualified by some term like " good," or, 
"wise," and the second cl. must be regarded as continuing the 
predicate of first cl. To take second cl. as an independent sen 
tence, and describe the wellspring of wisdom as a floiving brook 
(RV.) is to introduce an impropriety of language a fountain is 
not a brook; and the rendering the words, etc., are deepened 
waters [that is, of a cistern, which is exhaustible], the wellspring, 
etc., is a flowing [or, bubbling, = inexhaustible] brook (Hitz.) 
supposes a meaning ("deepened") which the Heb. does not 
permit, and thus introduces an unwarranted antithesis between 
"man s words" and "wisdom." The two lines of the couplet 
do not agree well together. A comparison like that of our first cl. 
is found in zo " , but in a sense which is hardly applicable here : 
there a man s secret thought is compared to "deep water," as 
hard to fathom and get possession of; here the deep water is 
rather the symbol of inexhaustible supply, a sense which is given 
by the parallel terms flowing brook and wellspring. This inex- 
haustibleness cannot be meant to be affirmed of men in general ; 
the man must be defined. We may supply righteous (as in 10"), 
or wise (rf. 13" i6 22 ), but then the wisdom of second cl. will not 

XVIH. 3-5 357 

be appropriate it is not naturally related to "righteous," and, 
with " wise " in first cl., it would produce an identical proposition. 
Further, the teem fountain (Heb. maqor}, when it is used meta 
phorically, always occurs elsewhere in connection with the idea of 
"life" ( 5 1S 10" 13" i 4 - 1 6~ Jer. 2 I:1 i 7 1:; $ 36 ^ " 68 ai - ; ), and the 
definition life here suits the context better than u< is Join. The ex 
pression fountain of life may mean either " fountain of life-giving 
water," or " perennial fountain " ; the latter sense accords with 
the parallel brook. The reading life, instead of wisdom, is found 
in the Grk. and in a few Heb. MSS. ; the testimony of the latter 
is not of great value, and the Greek reading may be a correction 
after io n . But the usage of Prov. must be allowed to have 
weight, and we should perhaps read the couplet : 77ic words of 
the wise are deep waters, a flowing brook, a perennial fountain. 
that is, an inexhaustible source of counsel and blessing. On 
word ^ equivalent to thought see note on io n . 

5. Against legal injustice. 

To favor the guilty is not good. 

Nor to oppress the innocent in court. 

Identical thought with antithesis of terms, ternary. A forensic 
saying, = if (cf. ly 1 ) ; guilty and innocent we the terms usually 
rendered wicked and righteous respectively. Favor is lit. lift up 
the face, that is, "raise a suppliant from the ground in token of 
favor" (Lev. 19 Mai. i s 2 y Job 13" i/r 82-, and the verb alone in 
Gen. 19- , = accept} ; the implication here is that the favoring is 
unjust. The Heb. of second cl. reads: to oppress (lit. ////;/ 
aside, that is, from one s rights), etc., which may be taken to 
mean so as to oppress, etc. (RV. marg.), but it is more natural to 
understand second cl. as simply parallel to first cl. Court is lit. 
judgment, = legal decision. Lat. : that tlion mayest decline from 
the truth of justice (reading /;-///// or righteousness instead of right 
eous}. Grk. (expressing the implied adjective) : nor is it holy to 
perrert justice in judgment. Gf. i K. 2 I IM:! Am. 5 - Isa. i - :; [er. 

22 ] ]/.. 22 lL a/. 

XVIII. \. 1i> -IIN-; <5 irpotjidfftis, n:sr, as in [u. 14 (( app. ( ;//. Sac. 4, 
5. I ;, 1, \vhii h should, perhaps, l.e adopted; cf. 2 K. :, . 1 ossiMy ;n; slanderer 
should IKJ read instead of TOJ; cf. Kj--; the " of It) appears to be taken by & 


as sign of Ace. J n Bhn.SsS; <5 tv iravrl /cat/xjj, perh. free rendering of |^; 
on .1 see Lag on this passage. |Q p-ir 11 ; <5 firovfidiffros, = s ; jr < or J> l 7n > 
(Capp. 4, 7, 3). On 5 and see notes of Pink, and Baum. 2. <5 &yerai 
(supplied by the translator) is apparently scribal error for dyarai (Jag.), and 
a.<j>po<rui>ri is interpretation of ||J 13 *? r^j.-in, or perh. (Or. Baum.) represents 
nV?n (which, however, it does not represent in Eccl. io 13 ). 3. |tj > U"J and 
f?p; read yen and pr. ra, fS" 1 , nsin, are general terms for contempt, which 
is naturally often expressed by words, sometimes also by deeds; see I2 8 6 3) , 
3 35 f 83 17 , 6 33 Ju. 5 18 . Bi. (and so Gr. doubtfully) reads ^"\ <5 els PMos 
is ingeniously explained by Jag. as = BJxa into the pool (for $? BI so), but it 
is doubtful whether /3ci#os would be used for B.IN, a word which (5 elsewhere 
in OT. perfectly understands; one might rather think of psj:; cf. fiaOv in v. 4 , 
3$ E|?:p>. 4. For -j s ^a read asn (Gr. njan S-N), and for naan read a;n (so <S 
and several Heb. MSS.). (5 X67os ^v Kapdip dvdp6s, J-s aSa na- 1 , in which 
a^a appears to have arisen out of J^ ma (in ^s la-i), the i and a becoming "? 
and a (Lag.). dvawf]5vfi Lag. regards as orror for avairidvei. 

6-8. Foolish and slanderous talk. 

6. The lips of a fool lead him into strife, 
And his mouth brings on him stripes. 

7. A fool s mouth is his ruin, 
And his lips a snare to him. 

8. The words of a slanderer are like dainty morsels, 
They penetrate into the innermost recesses of a man. 

6. Identical, ternary. Cf. ly 14 - 19 ig 29 20^. Lit. come into strife, 
lead, etc. ; or a slight change of the Heb. will give lead (so 
the Grk.). Brings on him is lit. calls for. The fool s thoughtless 
or malicious words involve him in disputes (legal or other), which, 
since he is in the wrong, entail punishment. 7. Identical, bi 
nary-ternary. Cf. i2 13 13 s i7 28 . The thought is the same as in 
the preceding couplet. Ruin is to be taken as = " grievous ca 
lamity, crushing misfortune." The Heb. is lit. a snare to his 
person (lit. soul}, = to himself. 8. Comparison explained, ter 
nary. The couplet occurs again at 26" ; cf. 16-" 26 20 . The slan 
derer is one who whispers malicious gossip, which, says the 
proverb, is received by the hearers as eagerly as choice morsels 
of food, and, like them, pass into men s being, and so affect their 
thought and action. On other translations of the word here ren 
dered dainty morsels (such as sport or mockery, I/lows [AY. 
wounds] burning, tormenting, simple, reserved, soft) see critical 
note below. The text does not express an antithesis in the two 

xviii. 6-9 359 

lines : the wonts arc soft (or, reserved), nevertheless they penetrate 
(lit. ^o down} ; it is the quality of sweetness in the words that 
makes them acceptable. The Heb. has lit. in second cl. go down 
info the inner chambers of the belly, in accordance with the men 
tion of food in first cl. ; the expression the recesses of a man is 
more appropriate to the acceptance of gossip. On inner cham 
bers (here = interior) see note on f. The proverb simply states 
a fact men s readiness to listen to malicious talk without com 
ment. For the concluding phrase cf. 20 " . 

9. Sloth is destructive. 

lie who is slack in his work 
Is brother to him who destroys. 

Single sentence, binary-ternary. Against indolence and careless 
ness. The primary reference in work is probably to the ordinary 
bread-winning occupations of life, but the term may include all 
affairs, of friendship, statesmanship, etc. The slothful or indolent 
man, the proverb declares, ruins things as effectually as the spend 
thrift or traitor or any one who sets himself to destroy. Indo 
lence, as an offence against physical well-being, is specially 
denounced in Proverbs; so in 6 -" io ( 12 - i5 l;l 20 4 - I:! 21- 24 "- 
26 1:; "" (cf. P>S. 22 -- 40- s " 1 "). Brothcr= "one of similar nature" 
(so companion in 28- ). Him who destroys is lit. a possessor 
( = a dealer} of destruction ; the reference is not to robbers and 
murderers, but simply to those who bring ruin on their own 
affairs and those of others. Rashi explains the expression as 
referring to Satan. 

6. 11) Oal ^ 2-; <5C Hif. ^?% unnecessary. ?!) r^n-p^; (5 TO Opa<rv". the last word seems to represent the three last letters of %} (Jag-) 
the rest is doubtful: Jag. su^ests that 6 out of n-.^ made n?h (comparing 
9 1:! 20 1 ), Baum. suggests -trn (</ :! 71 ^ . . . 0pao-e?a), and Levy (C/ialtt. 
Wort., s.v. xr^-) -VT:^ (out of -T: S ) ; the reading n-m is the most probable. 
8. On |Ji: see note on 16-*. ?i) ="- :"? (found only here ami in the 
duplicate couplet 26--^ has been variously explained: I. (? (in 26--) /j.a\a.Koi 
(which elsewhere in (p = T>) ; cf. p^n 2S- :: /I.if/frii^ (so Kimhi, C.eier). and 
Arab, -^n 1 - soft ( Kw. compares E;J), or (1 rank.) Aram. ->n su t ct ; possibly 
- (2(>--) iv wapipyu sulmrJinate, incidental is here to be included, in the 
sense of feigned, but see below under .yV;V. 2. Whispcr, murmur ( = r,i s ) i 
A (26- - ) yo7)TtKoi jn&/c,-s ; Kw. suggests comparison with Aram. ; 


possible, = murmur, as expressing either the transient or the insinuating 
character of words. 3. 2T pxi disturb, vex (and so substantially %), as = aSn 
strike; so Immanuel (in Reuchlin), Rashi wounds (cf. cr, 1 , Heb. and Arab.) 
or (a6 22 ) combatants, Luther, AV. (see text and margin), Levi, Vatablus those 
who feign themselves wounded. Similar is jm (26 2 -) strike down, perh. scribal 
variation of psi (cf. Levy). 4. 2 in &" j-^-, = dictpaioi (Middeklorpf d*a- 
Kot), 1L simplida, 6 (26 22 ) tfrir\ot/j.evoi, perh. free rendering of (5, perh. error 
of text. 5. S/0r/, play, taking cn^ as = m<- ; so Saad. Mich. Z6ck. 6. Hidden 
(Aben Ezra), perh. with reference to Arab, on 1 -, IV, or connected with whisper. 
7. Burning (Ew.) = destructive (like poison), taking en- as = an 1 -. The 
comparison with Arab, en*? swallow with aridity seems to be the most satisfac 
tory, though the rendering sweet morsels is possible. omits the couplet, 
substituting 19, but with changes (Jag. Lag.). 9. $ =_>, with reference to 
other classes of persons who are destructive. Originally it may have pointed 
to an immediately preceding statement; in the present connection it is with 
out significance. 

10, 11. God and wealth as fortresses. 

10. The name of Yahweh is a strong fortress, 
To which the righteous runs and is safe. 

11. A rich man s wealth is his strong city, 
It is like a high wall in his estimation. 

10. Single sentence, ternary (or, binary-ternary). The expres 
sion name of Yahweh, common elsewhere in OT. (except in Ju. 
Ru. Ezr. Esth. Job [discourses] Eccl. Cant.), is found in Pr. only 
here (a similar expression in 30 ). The name = the person, 
because it expressed his nature and qualities (as early names com 
monly did), and because in very ancient times the name was re 
garded (perhaps in consequence of its significance) as having an 
objective existence and as identical with its possessor,* and the 
locution which thence arose survived in later times when the old 
crude conception had vanished. Every people came to associate 
with the name of its god all that it attributed to the god. The 
name Yahweh was significant to the Jews at this time not because 
it was a " tetragrammaton " or had in it any mysterious meaning, 
but because, as the proper name of the national deity, it repre 
sented for them all ideas of divine guidance and protection. On 
the period of the history during which the name was commonly 
employed see note on i 7 . The superstitious notions which were 

* See Spencer, Social., I. 263; Jevons, Introd. to Mist, of AV/., pp. 245, 361; 
Brinton, AV/. of Prim. Peoples, pp. 92 f. 

XVIII. io-i3 3^1 

later attached to the " tetragrammaton " are unknown to the OT.* 
Cf. Ex. 3 14 . Is safe, lit. is set on /iig/i or /// a high place, where 
he is safe from the attacks of enemies. The proverb affirms gen 
erally that Cod protects the righteous; it says nothing of the 
means employed. Cf. i/> 27 . 11. Parallel comparisons, quater 
nary-ternary. Estimation, lit. picture, then, apparently, imagina 
tion, thought; cf. \\i 73 7 , and note on Pr. 25 n . A better 
parallelism is given by reading : and like a high wall is his riches. 
The Heb. appears to say that wealth is a protection not really, 
but only in the opinion of its possessor ; this is possibly the cor 
rection of an editor who took offence at the role ascribed to 
wealth. Whichever reading be adopted, the couplet simply states 
a fact ; it is doubtful whether praise or blame is implied ; cf. to 1 *, 
in which our first cl. occurs. Wealth is regarded in Pr. sometimes 
as a desirable source of power, sometimes as associated with im 
moral and irreligious pride. From the collocation of v. 10 ll jt 
might be surmised that the former is a correction of the latter, or 
a protest against it. Such protest may have been added or inserted 
by an editor ; v. 11 stood originally, no doubt, as a simple record of 

12, 13. Danger of pride and hasty speech. 

12. Pride goes before destruction, 
And before honor humility. 

13. He who answers before he hears, 
It is folly and shame to him. 

12. Antithetic, ternary-binary. Lit., in first cl., before destruction 
a man (lit. a man s heart) is haughty ; see i6 18 . The second cl. 
occurs in 15" . 13. Single sentence, ternary. Hears = " gives 
attention to" ; shame "disgrace." Cf. BS. n*, Pirk. Ab. 5, 7. 

14, 15. Value of courage and wisdom. 

e spirit o! a man sustains mistortune, 

But a broken spirit who fan bear? 

15. The mind of the intelligent acquires knowled 

I he ear ol the wise seeks after knmvlei 

* See Huxt. Lc\. s. v. U ^D and tr-MS 1 : S J . In Lev. 2J. 1 . li; "the Name" should 

read " the name of Yahweh " ; the " Yahweh " was omitted causa reverentiae b\ 


14. Implicit antithesis, ternary, = " an unimpaired spirit is strong, 
a broken spirit is weak." Frankenberg, in first cl., not so well: 
lie who soothes a man sustains ( controls) his anger. Spirit is 
the inner being thought of as the seat of vigor and courage (as in 
Kng. spirited} broken = stricken, crushed. Sustain and bear are 
here synonyms; the rendering raise up (RV. marg.), instead of 
bear ( endure}, is here improbable. Misfortune is lit. sickness 
(RV. infirmity}, here used of any suffering. The proverb records 
a fact of human experience, the sense being : when the spirit, 
which is the source of strength, is itself crushed, what help is 
there? (for the rhetorical form cf. Mk. 9), and the implied ex 
hortation is : be brave, do not succumb to trouble. There is no 
reference or allusion to divine aid. There is here a near approach 
to the Greek conception of " courage " as a virtue, a conception 
hardly elsewhere formulated in OT. 15. Identical parallelism, 
ternary. The first cl., with variation of verb, occurs in 15", in 
which the second cl. introduces the fool as contrast. Intelligent 
(see note on r ) and wise are synonyms, and so acquires and 
seeks after. The word ear points to oral instruction. A progres 
sion of thought, such as: "the intelligent (the higher grade of 
mind) already possesses knowledge, the wise (the inferior grade) 
is only seeking it," is improbable. No such distinction exists in 
Pr. between intelligent and wise. 

16-18. Legal and other contests. 

1 6. A man s gift makes room for him, 
And brings him before great men. 

17. The first comer is right in his plea, 
Then comes the other and tests him. 

1 8. The lot puts an end to disputes, 
And decides between the mighty. 

16. Synonymous parallelism, ternary. The gift is not intellectual 
endowment,* a sense foreign to the Heb. term, nor the bounty 
which a liberal man benevolently dispenses (19), thereby gaining 
friends,t nor precisely a bribe, but probably, as second cl. appears 
to indicate, a present made to great and powerful men, whereby 
they become well disposed to the giver, afford him protection and 

* Hitzig. f UL-. Sti . al. 

XVIII. 14-19 

aid, and he thus has room, a free field, access (as in second line) 
to the presence of the patron. Cf. i 7". The custom of making 
such presents to the great, common in Israel and elsewhere, was 
notably prevalent in the ( .reek period of Jewish history ; see, for 
ex., the stories of Joseph, Hyrcanus, and Herod in Jos. Ant. 12, 
4, 2. 9 ; 14, 12, 2. 17. Single sentence, with implied antithesis, 
ternary-binary. First comer, he who first presents his cause 
before the judge, and is naturally able to make out a good case ; 
is right, that is, in appearance; pica, \\\.. lawsuit ( R.V. cause) ; 
the other, lit. his neighbor, the other party to the suit ; tests him. 
lit. searches him, examines his argument, and presents the other 
side. The first cl. may be translated lie who is first in his pica 
(RV. pleadcth his cause first} is right*; the sense remains the 
same. In Pirk. Ab. i, 8 it is said that the judge, so long as the 
parties are in his presence, must regard both as guilty, that is, 
must distrust both. The proverb = audi altcram partcm. 
18. Synonymous, ternary-binary. On the employment of the lot 
among the Israelites see note on iG* . In this case the contend- 


ing parties, instead of going into court, agree to refer their dis 
pute not to an arbitrator, who would weigh the arguments and 
decide like a judge, but to (loci, who was supposed to order the 
drawing or casting of the lots in accordance with justice ; this 
divine decision, if accepted in good faith, would at once stop con 
tention, even when the contestants were powerful. The questions 
in which the lot was resorted to in the later time were, it is proba 
ble, chiefly or wholly such as concerned property rights of private 
persons political disputes would commonly be otherwise settled. 
Decides is lit. separates, that is, parts the contestants, so that the 
dispute ceases. 

19. It is difficult, if not impossible, to construe the Heb. text. 
Lit. : a brother sinned against (?) than a strong city, and disputes 
are like the bar of a fortress. The translations sinned against 
{treated perfidiously, injured, offended }\ and who resists, sets him 
self in opposition \ are grammatically doubtful. The insertions 
harder, stronger, harder to be won, etc., before the comparative 
sign than, are unwarranted ; it would be necessary, if the preced- 

: So DC. koiibs, ,//. t kabhi, RV. <;/. \ K\v. Zock. <//. 


ing word should be retained, to change than to like (see second 
line). But even then the comparison of an injured friend and of 
disputes to a fortified city or a fortress is strange and improbable. 
It is not impossible that the couplet is a variant of v." of this 
chapter (cf. io u ), and should read: the rich man s wealth is a 
strong city, and his riches is like the bars of a fortress. Grk. : a 
brother helped by a brother is like a strong and lofty city, and is as 
strong as a well-founded palace. This is better than the Heb., 
but is still unsatisfactory there is no reason why a brother 
helped by a brother should be thus singled out. For the bars of 
cities and fortresses see Ju. i6 3 i K. 4 13 Isa. 45 2 Neh. 3 3 , and cf. 
Novvack, Arch. i. 142, 368 ff. 

10. <5 K /j.eya\uffvvr)s, ^ j-p (Jag.). 11. $? ~?"? (cf. 25") apparently 
= "something graved or fashioned"; the meaning of the stem is uncertain. 
Frank, suggests vsoj or VD^:, which is, perhaps, to he adopted. 12. $? " .x 
need not be omitted in the interests of the rhythm, since ir.s 3 s may be 
pronounced as one word. 14. 1$ ^?"; (5 depd-rruv (pp6vi/j.os, according to 
Jag., = n^rra (cf. 19) one who carefully attends to him (see Lag. s note), 
which Frank, adopts, rendering : iver ikn schmeichelnd besanftigt, and taking 
rn as = anger, but the resulting line does not offer a good antithesis to second 
line. flj nsoj m; IL spiritual ad irascendum facilem. 17. K so ; Q so\ 
Either reading gives a good sense, but a connective is natural, and we should 
perh. write N:TI; a i may have fallen out by reason of preceding \ (5 eatrroD 
Ka.Tr/yopos, = 13-12 (i Sam. 2 1 ) or 13^ (Isa. 45 9 ). 18. |^ S-vin; (ABX 0-1777- 
p<5j ( = <n777X6s) a silent man; better K\TJ/>OS, as in <5 V - " lliar K- j? H al. 
|t? = -> >; Gr. suggests NXI or axa contestants. 19. |t? >U ; DJ nv; <5 (followed 
by J53T1L) dSeX^os vird dSeX^oO Po-r)0ov/j.ei>os, = ?U ; j ns, improbable in the con 
nection. The isolated yz Di is suspicious; the Nif. occurs only here, and the 
Qal is always followed by 3 or ?;; De. compares ^n = ^-; asp, but to this it 
may be replied that the two forms are different (Frank.) in the case of an 
Act. Partcp. the construction is possible, but not in the case of Pass. Partcp. 
See note on this v. above. J!? r; ~ > V- , though syntactically possible, is hard ; 
the substitution of 3 for n is favored by b and by (SSSCIL. On K arc, 
Q ariD see critical note on 6 14 . |^ fc^N m3-; (5, inverting order, uairtp 
Tfdffj.fXiwfjL^voi pa<ri\eioi> as a firmly founded palace ; for r. (ABx tf/.) Lag. 
would read iufia-)(\vntvov (S 11 al.) barred. 

20,21. Power of the tongue. 

20. From the fruit of the mouth comes requital to men, 
The outcome of the lips they must bear. 

21. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, 
They who use it must eat its fruit. 

xviii. Kj-22 3 rj 5 

20. Synonymous, ternary (or, quaternary-ternary). The thought 
is that of 12" i3 - - :i , on which see notes a man must take the 
consequences of his words, which are here regarded as expressing 
his thought and nature. \\\..from the fruit of a man s mouth his 
belly is filled, the outcome (or, product} of his lips fills him. J ill 
and belly belong to the figure employed (eating) words are 
spoken of as something that a man feeds on, they, by their conse 
quences, determine his position and fate, they bring requital, for 
good or for evil according to their character. On outcome 
( = produce, product} see notes on $ 14 . 21. Synonymous, ter 
nary. See 13- . Good and bad speech are contrasted by their 
results. The death and life are physical ; see notes on 3- 5 . 
Are in the power of = "are at the disposition of, are dealt out by." 
Caution in speech is suggested, since words may bring the great 
est misfortune (the termination of earthly life) or the greatest 
good fortune (a long and prosperous life). In second cl. the 
Heb. reads lit. they who love it (the tongue), which, in the con 
nection, can mean only they who are fond of using it, but the verb 
is not natural, and the text is perhaps wrong. Grk. they who con 
trol it does not agree with the general form of the predicate of 
second cl., or with the thought of first cl. ; the predicate to such 
a subject should be will enjoy good. The suggestions of De., that 
the // may refer to wisdom, or should be read Yahweh, are out of 
the question. Cf. BS. 37^. 

22-24. Wife, wealth, friend. 

22. If one finds a wife, it is a piece of good fortune, 
A favor bestowed on him by Yahweh. 

23. The poor man uses entreaties, 
The rich man answers roughly. 

24. There are friends who only seek society, 

And there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. 

22. Synonymous, ternary (or, quaternary-ternary). Lit. he who 
finds a wife (that is, a good wife) finds good, and obtains faror 
from Yahweh, that is, he finds not a good thing (RV.), but good 
fortune, which, says second cl., he must regard as a special favor 
from God, who bestows all good fortune (not " he may, in conse 
quence, expect favor from God"). Reuss : may congratulate 


himself, it is a favor from God. On the sentiment and on the 
meaning of good ( capable) as used of a wife see i2 4 19" 3I 10 - 51 
US. 7 I!I 2 5 S 26 1 - 3 - 13 -"- 16 - 23 4 o- ;! (read prudent wife} cf. 5 18 Gen. 2 2 * 
Eccl. 9 - (for another view see Eccl. 7-"). Rashi : " he who finds 
the law " ; Saadia sees in the wife an allusion to Eve. Cf. S 35 , in 
which our second cl. occurs, the reference there being to the find 
ing of wisdom. Numerous similar sayings are cited by Malan. 

The Grk. adds : " he who puts away a good wife puts away good, 
and he who retains an adulteress is foolish and ungodly," a scribal 
addition intended to bring the thought of the couplet out more 
fully. 23. Antithetic, ternary (or, binary-ternary) . The social 
eminence and the rudeness of manner which sometimes accom 
pany wealth, and the social dependence and humble bearing of 
the poor man put by the proverb as a general rule ; this may 
be taken as a testimony to the manners of the time (probably the 
Greek period) ; cf. 22 7 BS. ^ l 24. Antithetic, ternary. Heb., 
first line : A man of friends is to be broken [= crushed, ruined], 
that is, his nominal friends, so far from helping him, will only use 
him for their own purposes. This interpretation * is exaggerated 
in its statement, does not offer a satisfactory antithesis to the 
second line, does not follow the best Heb. text, and is in part a 
doubtful translation. The expression man of friends, with the 
sense " he who possesses (or, makes) many friends " is not quite 
in accordance with OT. usage, in which the defining noun after 
man states a personal quality or a characteristic occupation (see 
3 :! io- :! 12- 19- 2 9 4 Isa. 53 :i $ 41^ )) ; thus in Gen. 4 6 34 the men 
of the flock means precisely not " men owning flocks," but " men 
whose business is the tending of flocks." Apart from this the 
parallelism (supported by a Jewish tradition) favors the reading 
there are instead of man (the difference between the two is that 
of a vowel), and first line might be rendered: there are friends 
for being crushed, that is, who only bring ruin. But, since the 
second line speaks of a steady, reliable friend, we expect in first 
line a reference to superficial, untrustworthy (rather than to hurt 
ful) friends ; this reference is gained by giving to the verb the 
sense of " friendly association," a sense which is found in several 

* Adopted by Schultens, De. RV., and the majority of modern expositors. 

XVIII. 22-24 

Anc. Vrss.,* and is adopted by Luther, Mercer, (eier, AY. The 
verbal form (the Prep, to + Infin. in the Heb.) must be under 
stood to express the purpose and function of the Jriends : they 
seek only society, and are found wanting in time of stress, while, 
on the other hand, there are friends who stand by a man in his 
darkest days, and are more to be relied on than the nearest blood- 
kinsman. Friends, says the sage, are of two sorts : some are fair- 
weather comrades, but some are stout and faithful helpers. The 
terms friends (first line) and friend (lit. lover, second line) are in 
themselves synonyms the difference between them here in 
tended is suggested by the context. The second line has some 
times been understood to refer to the Messiah. Cf. BS. 6 s 1 
(especially v. 1 ") 37 4 " . 

20. Hi. omits the Prep, in -is-, making the noun the subject of the verb 
possible, but unnecessary. The reading "i l U ; x, suggested by Gr. (who refers 
to I2 H ) is here inappropriate. 21. |i) st. 2 -is; <5 Kparovvres, from r~s, 
which affords no good sense; all other ancient authorities and most moderns 
follow 11), which can hardly be original. No good emendation has been sug 
gested; neither -<2" (those a-ho arc subject to it) nor - 1 -;: 1 (those who gire heed 
to it) (dr.) is satisfactory. Rashi : "he who loves his tongue and exercises 
himself in the law. Saadia: "according as lie loves one or the other" 
(death or life). 22. The insertion of nn j after nu .x (iS^JTIl) is natural, but 
unnecessary (cf. Keel. 7 - K ). < )n the couplet added in (5 ( and in S1L) see 
note on this proverb above; a follows closely the norm of |i) a , and b is the 
natural antithesis. 23. Lacking in (5 A1!N> , given in $" and II-] 23. 103. al.\ 
see notes of II-I , Field, Lag. 24. It) ""i", not from y (Gr. Yen.), or >i 
bad (X.i iek. <?/.), but from "^ break. Read ryrn, from n;-i (so SO.(S J:5 )- 
11) - .v is read U" by iT Hit/. I.owenstein, Frank. <?/., and is, from the parallel 
ism, to be adopted. liaer (in .//>/. Crit. to the 15-1) ed. of 1 rov.) observes 
(from the Masura) that this is one of the three occurrences of J -x, in which 
^" is to be expected, the others being 2 Sam. 14 - Mic. 6 1 ; see Kiinhi, f.i/>r. 
A tni., s.v. - "N. The couplet, like the preceding, is wanting in (f^" , found 
in 11-P 2^ <!/.; ""~^~ " |S is rendered by TOV eraipfvcracrOai, cf. 1L ad societatem. 
S 11 >i mail /ores himself in ori/er that he may be lored, either a free rendering 
of (P, or a corrupt Syr. text. The construction of 11) is periphrastic future, 
= Tn"? r,-n, is going to be (or, is to h>) ruined. In the emended text ^ ; Int. 
expresses purpose. Cf. critical note on 19*. 

TU:L;. I, at. anil some Gi!;, 


XIX. 1-4. Poverty, wealth, folly. 

1. Better is a poor man, upright in life, 

Than he who is false in speech, even though he be <rich. 

2. To act without reflection is not good, 

He who is hasty in action fails of his aim. 

3. A man s folly ruins his affairs, 
And then he is angry with God. 

4. Wealth adds many friends, 

But the poor man his (one) friend withdraws. 

1. Comparison, antithetic, ternary. In first cl, lit. who walks in 
his uprightness (or,perfectness). Speech is lit. lips ; QK. false (RV. 
perverse) see note on 2 15 . Instead of rich the Heb. has a fool. 
The couplet occurs again at 28, with rich instead of fool, a read 
ing here required both by the parallelism of the clauses (poor 
. . . rich) and by the obviously intended antithesis in second cl. : 
the though he be (lit. and he is~) naturally introduces something 
which might appear to oppose the better, but fool could only 
strengthen the comparison. Ewald thinks that rich was the orig 
inal reading, but retains fool on the ground that this expression 
( = haughty) is a synonym of rich * ; but this is obviously not 
true in Pr. the poor may be upright, but he is never identical 
with the religiously humble ; and the rich, though he may be arro 
gant, is always the man of physical wealth. 2. Synonymous, 
ternary. Against heedlessness. The Heb. begins with the word 
also, which is significant here only in case it is intended to add 
heedlessness to falsity (v. 1 ) as a thing not good, and this is hardly 
probable. The first halt* of first cl. is defective, lit. without 
knowledge of soul, that is, " in the soul," = without reflection, as 
appears from the parallel haste of second cl. ; the verb, act or be, 
must be supplied, and soul should perhaps be omitted. The Heb. 
word for soul may also mean self or desire, but the renderings to 
be without self-knowledge (Ew.) and desire without reflection 
(Hitz.) are not in accordance with the usage of the Book. The 
translation that the soul be without knowledge (RV.) is grammati 
cally untenable. So, also, the interpretation : when one pays no 
regard to his desires (that is, denies himself all pleasures, in order 

* So Zock. De. Nowack al. The reading rich is adopted by Gratz and Kamp- 


to save money), tliat is not good, is hardly to be obtained from 
the Hob., and is not a probable reflection for I r. The last ex 
pression of first d. means " not a good (or, sensible, useful, help 
ful) thing-," nearly = unsuccessful; Reuss s blind eagerness can 
only />c Jntrffi/I, and Wildeboer s where ///ere is no knowledge (or, 
reflection), there also (even) eagerness is not good are grammati 
cally doubtful. In second d. is /KIS/V in action is lit. hastes 
- If the proverb be taken in connection with the 
preceding, it must be interpreted as directed particularly against 
heedless pursuit of wealth ; but it seems better to understand it 
as a condemnation of thoughtless eagerness and hastiness in gen 
eral. Fails of his aim = misses tlie mark (see 8 : " ; Job 5 L 4 ). 
3. Continued thought, quaternary-ternary. Ruins = overturns 
(RY. snln crteth} ; affairs is lit. way; God, lit. Yahweh. For 
the thought cf. MS. 15"--" Soph. Oed. Col. 1693 ff., and other par 
allels in Malan. The couplet is a criticism of the allegation that 
failure is the work of Clod ; the reply is that the fault is with men 
themselves a practical way of dealing with a much-debated 
question characteristic of I r., and standing in marked contrast 
with the lines of thought of Job and Fcclesiastes. 4. Antithetic, 
quaternary- ternary. Cf. v. 7 and 14"". The second cl. may also 
be rendered : the poor is separated from his friend (so RV). On 
the terms wealth and poor see notes on i l; io . 

5-7. Perjury, liberality, poverty. 

5. A false witness will not L, r <> unpunished, 
He who utters lies will not escape. 

6. Many seek the favor of the liberal man, 
All are friends to him who ^ives. 

7. All the poor man s brethren hate him 

I low much more do his friends stand aloof! 

5. Identical in thought, ternary (or, binary-ternary). For the 
expressions see 6 1;| 14 " -" and v. ;i belo\v, of which this couplet is a 
doublet, and here not in place : the reference is to legal proceed 
ings, and uie certainty of punishment is aftirmed as a general rule 
a testimony to the justice of the courts of law of the time. 

6. Identical in sense, with increment of expression, ternary. The 

.2 1! 


indefinite many is heightened into the definite all, and thus 
receives the suggestion of universality. Seek the favor is lit. 
stroke (or, smooth} t)ie face (caressingly) or make the face soft 
(gentle, favorable) ; see Job n iy i// 45 U?(: } i K i3 r> \\i 119, etc. 
The translation liberal (lit. willing) is suggested by the parallel 
ism, but the Heb. word (nad ib) may also be rendered potentate 
(Grk. kings) or noble; see notes on 8 16 iy 7 2<i . The reference is 
probably to the munificence of the rich private man or prince 
who seeks, by gifts, to attach men to his person and his cause 
such was the method in ancient political and social life. A more 
general reference to unselfish liberality is possible, but the prov 
erb appears to contemplate the somewhat corrupt city life of the 
later period of Judaism. 7. Advance from the less to the 
greater, ternary (or, ternary-quaternary, or, binary-ternary). 
Hate is to be understood literally a poor man, as likely to be 
burdensome, easily becomes an object of detestation ; brethren 
= kinsfolk in blood, and friends are associates, not bound by the 
tie of blood, whose friendship is superficial and untrue. It is 
assumed that blood-kinsmen are under greater obligation than 
friends to help. 

At the end of this couplet the Heb. has a line which is now 
unintelligible, reading lit. he who pursues words, they are not 
(Heb. marg. his they are}, which RV. interprets as meaning he 
[the poor man] pnrsueth them with words, but they are gone, a 
sense which is not contained in the Heb., and is forced and unnat 
ural in form (RV. marg. is correct except the expressions which 
arc nought and he pursuetK). Lat. : he who pursues only words 
shall have nothing, which is intelligible (though not a rendering 
of our Heb.), but the expression pursue words is strange. The 
line appears to be the corrupt remnant of a lost couplet, but it is 
hardly possible, with our present means of information, to recover 
the original form. 

8, 9. Wisdom is profitable, falseness is fatal. 

8. He who acquires understanding is a friend to himself, 
lie who follows wisdom < will get good. 

9. A false witness will not escape, 
He who utters lies will perish. 

XIX. o-io 3/1 

8. Synonymous, binary- (or, quaternary-) ternary. Understand 
ing, lit. heart, = mind, intellectual perception, with reference to 
all the affairs of life; the same idea is expressed by wisdom, lit. 
apprehension, comprehension, insight " (see note on 2") : fol 
lows = preserves, pays due regard to; is a friend to (or, loves} 
himself (lit. loves his son!} = " has regard for his own interests " ; 
as predicate of second cl. the Ileb. has to find (or, gct~} good, 
which may be understood as = "is going to get," etc., but a 
simple change of letters gives the better reading will get ; good 
= " what is advantageous." The sense is : intellectual insight 
(= clearness of thought, good sense) is profitable in this life, the 
moral as well as the physical life being probably included ; cf. 
3 1:! ~ 1S , etc. 9. Synonymous, ternary (or, binary-ternary). The 
couplet is a variation of v. , with the stronger expression perish in 
second clause. 

10. Wealth and power befit only the wise and the free. 

Luxury is not a fitting thing for a fool, 
Much less for a slave is rule over princes. 

Climax, ternary. Fitting = appropriate (not exactly seemly or 
becoming} ; see 17 26 . The proverb compares two things in 
which there is no propriety : the value and use of luxury are not 
understood by an obtuse, uncultivated man, rather it develops his 
bad qualities, and he becomes ridiculous and disgusting; and a 
slave, with all the vices of a servile class, elevated to political 
power, is likely to become arrogant and tyrannical. Wealth was 
often acquired by men morally and intellectually dull, and the pro 
motion of slaves to places of authority was not uncommon in 
Asiatic and African governments (Strack refers to the role played 
by eunuchs) ; cf. 30"- Keel. 10" 1>S. i r" 1 . The fool of first cl. may 
be identical with the slave of second cl., but this is not necessary. 
On the other hand, slaves sometimes proved excellent governors ; 
cf. 17- i4 : " . On the position of Heb. slaves see notes on II L>; 
12 22 . 


11. Forbearance is wise. 

It is wisdom in a man to be slow to anger, 
It is his glory to pass over transgression. 

Synonymous, ternary (or, quaternary-ternary). On wisdom^ 
= "sound sense," see note on 12 s (in 3* the text is incorrect) ; 
the couplet in the Heb. is lit. : a man s wisdom defers his anger, 
and his glory (= that on which he may pride himself) is to pass, 
etc. ; the translation given above is obtained by changing the 
vowels of one word, whereby we gain the exact parallelism to be 
sloiu {to defer} . . . to pass, corresponding to the other paral 
lel expressions a man s wisdom . . . his glory. The same 
thought is found in I4 17 - 29 , and cf. 25 21 " and Eccl. 8 1 . Forgive 
ness of errors and injuries is here represented as a sensible thing, 
probably because it promotes social peace and wellbeing ; there 
appears to be no reference to divine reward, though there may be 
an implication of moral law. For the expression pass over trans 
gression cf. Mic. y 18 . 

12. A king s anger is dreadful, his favor refreshing. 

The wrath of a king is like the roaring of a lion, 
His favor like dew on vegetation. 

Antithetic, ternary (or, quaternary-ternary). The first cl., with 
change of one word, occurs in so 2 , on which see note ; similar 
references to royal power see in 16" 28 15 Eccl. 8 2 " 4 . The picture 
of the king suits many periods of history, but particularly the time 
when the Jews had special reason to fear the caprices of foreign 
rulers. The word rendered by vegetation includes grass, herbs 
and cereals. 

XIX. 1. Wanting in <SXABC. 511 sn/l asL Compl. II-P 23. 103. 253 = $. 
JlJ *?:>:; J5> N-V.-7, 1L dives (but adds et insipicns at end) ; read 11:7, which the 
parallelism imperatively demands. The insipicns of 1L and the nSpo of some 
MSS. of j& are corrections after J#. For $ vrsu- S2T have ways, which may 
be free rendering of li), or may represent Heb. v;n cf. Pink.). 2. Lacking 
in (Jr$ XABC ; H-P 23 al. without knowledge of the soul there is no good; Jc" to 
lie without knowledge etc. is not good ; Saad. Compl. without knowledge the soul 
ts not good ; J5@T he who does not know himself, it is not good for him ; IL where 
there is no knowledge of the soul it is not good ; Rashi as II-P 23 IL. 33 N 1 " 
must be predicate; xSa + noun always qualifies a preceding word (noun or 

XIX. n-14 


verM, and cannot here qualify Z S) ("a soul without knowledge"). The 
Heb. text appears to be defective, dr. proposes to attach :l to the "Dr of v. 1 , 
change 3) to D; (cf. Isa. 2I 1 -), and insert " before N^, but the resulting sense, 
"a fro! llees without knowledge of soul to what is not good, is awkward, and 
~D: is probably not original. The rs: is unnecessary and strange, and looks 
like a gloss on r; 1 ^; if this be omitted, and :i be changed to .i-j-;- or ru > (cf. 
2i :1 ) or .-.-;, the clause becomes clear in construction and meaning. ITS* may 
be a gloss on r; T N S 2 rv\ 4. In 11) it;-i-: the " may be Prep., or nominal 
preformative. 6. The art. in y". is to lie omitted; l!i. y r^r. 7. |i) in-.-i-; 
is defectively written plu. (5 follows %] - h with change of pointing. 
15i. adopts the additional couplet of (5 and renders it into Hebrew. 
8. li) Ni "-; read Ni"; 1 , as apparently (S^iTll (and so Dys.), though these 
Yrss. may merely give idiomatic translations of .vi"^; to take it as abridged 
periphrastic Future, = ;*> rvn (De. Wild. <</.) is allowable, but seems here 
less natural; cf. note on >;"\~.-i-, i8- 4 . 9. See notes on v/ . 11. Point 
p_si as Inf. (so apparently A6S). (5 is corrupt (see Jag. Baumg.). 

13, 14. Bad sons, bad and good wives. 

I j. A foolish son is ruin to his father, 

The quarrelling of a wife is like the continual dripping of a roof. 
14. House and riches are an inheritance from fathers, 

liut a wise wife is the gift of God. 

13. Collocation of two similar things, ternary. The thought of 
first cl. is found in 10 17- -" (and cf. v. ls below), that of second 
cl. in 27 . We expect, as contrast to first cl., a reference to the 
wise son, or, as contrast to second cl., a reference (as in v. 14 ) to 
the good wife ; the couplet is perhaps made up from two others. 
The noun (/ri/>/>i;tg (or, dropping} is found elsewhere in OT. only 
in 27 " , the verb drip, drop only in Job 16-" i// Ti9- 8 Eccl. io ls , all 
late passages ; the term continual (lit. pushing, driving} occurs in 
Heb. only here and 27 " (Aramaic in Dan. 4-" ;:J - - :; "> ^- ). Cf. 
Wisd. Sol. 3 -. Wife is lit. woman, here possibly any "woman," 
but the special reference is more probable. An Arab proverb, 
which De. heard from Wet/stein, says that three things make a 
house intolerable : tak (the leaking through of rain), -nak (a wife s 
nagging) and bak (bugs) ; other parallels are cited by Malan. 

14. Antithetic, ternary (or, quaternary-ternary). Wealth, says 
the sage, is an accident of birth, while a wise wife is a special 
favor from Clod (lit. Yahu ch}. This seems to be a curious limi 
tation of divine providence, which, we expect an Israelite to say, 


certainly controls a man s birth and inheritance of property as 
well as his choice of a wife ; the distinction made between social 
conditions established by social law and acts controlled by the 
will of the individual is popular, not philosophical or theocratic 
(the form in i8~ is better) ; it shows, however, the value set on a 
good wife. In early times the wife was usually chosen by the 
young man s parents (Gen. 24 :! - 4 38), though not always (Ju. 
14-); at a later period considerable freedom was doubtless 
accorded the man, and a happy choice on his part is here repre 
sented as due to special divine guidance. V. u suggests an un 
happy choice. Wise = intelligent, probably in the special sense 
of thrifty ; cf. 3I 10 " 31 . This second cl. gives a contrast to the 
second cl. of v. 13 . Cf. i8~ (and Eccl. 9) ; in BS. a6 3 a good wife 
is the portion of those who fear God, and such is the implication 
in our passage. 

15. Inconveniences of idleness. 

Sloth fulness casts into a deep sleep, 
The idle man must suffer hunger. 

Synonymous, ternary. The noun deep sleep is found in Gen. 2 21 
I5 1 - i Sam. 26 1 - Isa. 29 Job 4 33 15 , the corresponding verb in 
Ju. 4 21 Jon. r Dan. 8 1S , the Participle in io 5 (on which see note) 
\l/ 76 6(7) Jon. i c Dan. io 9 . The expression here signifies complete 
inactivity. Man, lit. soul ( = person). Cf. 6 ;1 10 io 4 i2 24 2O 13 24^ M . 

16. Obedience to law gives life. 

He who obeys the law preserves his life, 
He who despises the < word > will die. 

Antithetic, quaternary-ternary. Lit. he who keeps the command 
ment keeps his life (lit. soul), he who despises his ways will die. 
The law may be human (especially the teaching of the sages) or 
divine ; the principle of the couplet is the same in both cases, but 
in the latter case it is God who (directly or indirectly) deals out 
reward or punishment (as in 3 s3 ), while in the latter the agent of 
retribution is the court of justice, or the natural law of human 
society. We may also translate : he who obeys (or, conforms to) 
law, that is, regulates his conduct by an established (and, presum- 

xix. i 4 -is 375 

ably, wise) norm, instead of by his own caprice ; the general 
sense remains the same. For the Heb. despises /us rctrvs an easy 
change of text gives the reading: <frs/> scs the word (as in 13 "), 
which supplies the appropriate parallelism of nouns; the verb 
despises cannot well be used of a man s ways (Frank.). ///// ate 
is the reading of the Heb. margin (Masoretic), the text has will 
be put to death, that is, by decision of the judge - the common 
legal expression (as in Ex. 2i lL " , etc.) ; the former is more in 
accordance with the manner of Pr., which regards death as the 
natural consequence of wrong-doing. Cf. 13 15" i6 1 . 

17. God rewards kindness to the poor. 

lie who has pity on the poor lends to Vahweh, 
And he will repay him his deed. 

Continued thought, binary, or ternary-binary. On poor see note 
on io 1: ; cf. 22 29 7 ^ 4i u - . In second cl. we may render good 
deed (as R.V.), the adj. being supplied from the connection ; the 
Heb. word signifies "something done," sometimes good (i// 103-),