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Full text of "A critical and exegetical commentary on the book of Proverbs"



S'v'^^' i.^-*-i/ii-^i^'^'^ii-^iuiiiii?ri-n 



|ntcrnati0iTHl Critical Cnmrntntarp 

on t^g Hob Scrrptuns of tbe #ltr antr 
l^tb Ccstaments. 



Regius Professor of Hebreu<, Oxford ; 


Master of University College, Durham ; 


Edward Robinson Professor of Biblical Theology, 
Union Theological Seminary^ New Yorh, 


Professor C. H. TOY 





The Rights of Translation and Reproduction are Reserved 

The International Critical Commentary 







First Impression 1899 

Fifth Impression 1959 

WAY 161964 


§ I. Names. 

1. The Masoretic title is Proverbs of Solomon {rrd^VS 'ho^, 
Mishle Shflomo, by the later Jews usually abridged to Mishle). 
That this is old appears to be shown by the Grk. ((§^) title 
■n-apoiixLai (the subscription is simply n. in Cod. B, v. SoAo/xwvtos 
in K, TT. 2oX. in A and C). The name might naturally have been 
suggested by i K. 4^^ (5^-), but would originally have been given 
to the collection 10^-22^'', 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 Berth eau.* 
On the meaning of mashal and its synonyms see notes on i}-^ 

2. By early Christian writers the book was commonly called 
Wisdom or All-virtuous Wisdom,-\ 17 Travaptros ao^ia, names which 
were also given to Ben-Sira {Ecclesiasticus) and Wisdom of Sol- 
omon. \ Other designations were 17 <jo<^r] ^l^Xos (Dionys. of Alex.) 
and ri iraiBaywytKr] aof^ia. (Greg. Naz. Oral. 11). Whether this 
cro^ta represents an ancient Heb. title niasn is uncertain. Fritzsche 
{Die Weisheit Jesus- Sirach's, Einl. p. xx) holds that the name 
(To^lo. given to Ben-Sira bears witness to a similar name 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 Euseb. ubi sup.) refers the 

* Einleitung to his Comm'y on Spriicke. 

t Clem. Rom. Cor. i5', Euseb. Hist. Eccl. 4, 22. 

+ Cf. Fritzsche, Welsh. Jes.-Sirach ; Nowack, Spruche Salomo's. The expres- 
sions (ro4)ia and ^j irav. ao^. sometimes, however, designate Wisdom simply (as the 
speaker) , and are not titles of books. Cf. Frankenberg, Die SprUche, Einl., § i. 

b V 


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 

§ 2. Divisions. 

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^), purpose of the Book (i""^), central or fun- 
damental principle (i^) ; 2. Warning against consorting with sin- 
ners (i*"^^) ; 3. Wisdom's appeal (i-'^-^s) • 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'"'^) ; 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 (9^-^-^*'^*), and an interjected, misplaced par- 
agraph of apophthegms on wisdom (9''^'). 

II. A collection of aphorisms in couplet form (10^-22^®). 

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

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

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

* nc:)n icD, the name given to Proverbs in Tosephot Baba Bathra, 14 b. 

t See Hermann Deutsch, Die Spriiche Salome's nach der aiiffassung im Talmud 
und Midrasch, 1885. Deutsch also cites a synagogal prayer of the 12th century, in 
which Proverbs is styled nnonn nsD ; but this hardly proves anything for the earliest 


prayer for moderate circumstances (30''^) ; against slandering ser- 
vants (30'") ; a collection of aphorisms citing certain things ar- 
ranged in groups of fours (30^^"^) ; instruction to a king (31'"^) ; 
description of a model housewife (31^'^^). 

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 Frove?-bs in this regard with Ben- 
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. 

§ 3, Structure of the Material. 

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 10^-22^^, 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. ii^and 2 2^*^-^; 18^ and 24-*; identical lines : 11" and 
24"; 13^ and 24^; 14^ and 24^; 20" and 24^. As between II. 
and IV.: identical couplets : cf. 18^ and 26^^; 19^ and 28^; 19^* 
and 26'^; 20^'' and 27"; 21^ and 25-''; 22^ and 27^-; variant coup- 
lets : 12" and 2 8^^ 132-' and 291^; island 25"; 16^2 and 25^; 
16^ and 26^; 22^ and 29^; 22" and 26^^; identical lines : 10^ 
and 29^; 15^* and 29^; 17' and 27^^; 19^' and 27^^ As between 
III. and IV., an identical line : cf. 24^3 and 28^^ Cf. also 6'" " 
with 24^-^. 

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 V. we find no matter 
that can be called repetition ; the peculiar tone of each of 
these divisions kept it apart from the others ; 6^"^^ and 9'"^ are 


Subdivisions or smaller collections also appear to be indicated 
by repetitions within each of the three middle sections. Within 
11. : identical or equivalent couplets : lo' and 15^; lO" and 11*; 
11'^ and 17'* and 20^®; 13" and 14"; 14^ and 16" (and cf. 21^) ; 
14^* and 19*; 16'' and 21^; 19^ and 19^; 20'° and 20^; 21^ and 
21^*; identical or equivalent lines: 10® and 10"; 10' and 10^" 
(perhaps scribal error); 10'* and 18"; 10^ and 19^; 11^* and 
20^^; 11" and 15^; 11^^ and 16^, 12" and 13^; 14^^ and 17*; 
i5=» and i8»-; i6'« and 18^ ; 19^^ ^nd 20I Within III. : couplets 
ox lines : 22^ and 23"; 22^ and 23^° (the couplets which in 23^"" 
form one quatrain are in 22^ ^ divided between two quatrains) ; 
23^'* and 24^* ; 23^* and 24" (a similar division of couplets) ; on 
23^-^ see notes. Within IV. : 28^^ and 29^ 

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^*, 6i-5- ^-u. 12-19^ ^7-12^ 
and of a number of lines in II. is discussed in the notes. 

§ 4. Rhythm and Parallelism. 

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, Grundzuge des rhythmus 
etc., 1875, and Leit/aden der Meirik, 1887 ; G. Bickell, Carmina Vet. Test, metrice, 
1882, his additions in Zeitschr. f. Kath. Theol., 1885-1886, and the introductory 
remarks to his Kritische Bearbeitung d. Proverbien in the Wiener Zeitschr. f. d. 
Kunde d. Morgenlandes, 1891 ; C. A. Briggs, Biblical Study^, 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 {s/aius construc- 
tus). 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 hne 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 Hne, 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 parts of 
the Book except 11. It is not to be assumed that a discourse 

Grimme, in ZDMG., 1896. On Babylonian rhythm see Delitzsch, Bab. Weltschopf- 
ungsepos ; H. Zimmern, in ZA TW., 1898. 


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^"''''- ^^ 
9^, all occurring in misplaced or doubtful paragraphs. II. divides 
itself into two parts : in chs. 10-15 the form is antithetic, in 16-22^® 
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''-^, which con- 
tains antitheses, while in chs. 28. 29 the two forms are nearly equal 
in number {;^;^ antithetic couplets, 22 comparisons and single 
sentences) . In V. the parallelism is, with a few exceptions (see 
2q12. 24-28 21^), 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 ^"^ P^^t 
of chs. 28. 29, and in another group chs. 16-22^*^, 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 i/' 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. 

§ 5 . Thought. 

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, ^'^^ Strophenbau und Responsion, 1898. 


Many of the sayings are simply maxims of commonsense pru- 
dence, enjoining industry and caution (6^'^-^^^ lo^-^^ ii''' 12^ 
j^2o jg26 20'^ 23^^ 25*^ 28* 30^", 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 we omit the cosmogonic hymn in ch. 8, the ref- 
erences to God occur almost exclusively in chs. 1-3, and there 
partly in passages (such as 2^ 3^"^) which appear to be editorial 
insertions ; the divine name is mentioned most frequently in II. 
(21 times in chs. 10-15, 13 times 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 11. 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 Book may be considered 
under their ethical, religious, and philosophical aspects.* 

A. Ethical. 

I. The high ethical standard of the Book 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 in 
business-transactions and courts of justice, are throughout insisted 
on, and respect for human property and life is enjoined ; the mor- 
alist has particularly in mind the urban crimes of perjury, theft. 

* Cf. A. F. Dahne, Geschichtl. Darstellung d.jiid.-alex. Relig.-philosophie, 1834; 
T. K. Cheyne, Job and Solomon, 1887 ; C. G. Montefiore, Kelig. Value of the Book 
o/Prov., in JQR., 1890 ; R. Pfeiffer, ReUg.-sittliche Weltanschauung d. B. d. Spriiche, 
1897; Cheyne, Jewish Relig. Life after the Exile, 1898. 


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^^ 14^-^ 30'^^ 31^^)- 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^ a/.). Warnings against unchastity constitute a spe- 
cial feature of I. (they are found elsewhere in 22^* 23^ 30-°) ; one 
of the terms used for harlot, " strange woman " (2^® al.), designates 
the vice in question as an offence against the well-being of the 
family. Kindness to man (3^ al.^ and beast (12^") 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^ 
14^^ 16^ 20-*) may indicate that the element of justice entered into 
the conception of kindness. Love is extolled (10^) as minister- 
ing to peace. There is a sharp polemic against slander and mali- 
cious gossip (6^--^^-^^ 16^ a/.). Special regard is shown for the 
interests of the poor (22^^ a/.). Irascibility is condemned (14^), 
and pride (13^") ; and modesty or lowUness is approved (11^). 
Frank acknowledgment of wrong is enjoined (28^^). Revenge is 
forbidden (24"), 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-Hfe is high (especially in L, 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 
(19^^ dt/.) or happy (18" 31^) ; she has not only housekeeping- 
capacity, but also broad wisdom (i* 31""*) ; her position is as high 
as any accorded her in ancient life (Egypt, Greece, Rome). 
Proverbs speaks (i* a/.) 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 (cf. 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 quahties 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- 3^ a:/.), but the "truth " is that law of conduct 
obedience to which secures prosperity and happiness. Of beauty 
as an element of hfe nothing is said ; the failure to mention it is 
due not to the religious character of the Book (for much of the 
material oi 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 God 
or to conditions of temperament and education. There is no 
reference to such inward experiences as swaying between opposed 
lines of conduct, struggle with temptation, and the mistakes of 
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 i^'^-^s ji^ II,-V. characters are regarded as fixed; in I. 
the exhortations assume the possibility of change, but it is said 
(i^) that when the hour of punishment comes it will be too late 
to turn. There is no reference to sorrow for sin or in general to 
processes of conversion from bad to good, or from good to bad 


(so in Ez. i8). 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.f 

* That is, no recognition by the individual as guide of his own life. The 
philosophical conception of the cosmos is found in ch. 8; see p. xvi. 
t On a supposed pessimistic sentiment in 14I8 see note on that verse. 


B. Religious. 

1. Monotheism is taken for granted, God is regarded as su- 
preme and absolute in power, 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-" 11^ al.). 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'' t^-^ 
\j/ 91" I C. 21^) ; 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 
(15* 21^-^) 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 6-''^"^) he 
appears to depart from the Pentateuchal legislation. He does 
not mention a collection of sacred books ; but this silence is due 
partly to the hterary custom of the time, partly to the nature of 
his material ; even the author of the Wisdom of Solomon, though 
in chs. 10-19 he follows closely the narrative of the Hexateuch, 
does not name that book. In Proverbs (30^-^) there are two quo- 


tations, one from \f/ i8^\ the other from Dt. 4^ 13^ and neither of 
these books is mentioned. The sages were doubdess 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^^-39"), 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^*-^^ 5* al. The divine judgment is mani- 
fested in the last moment of life (ninx, 5* 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, f 

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 Yahweh, 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 {x"^^ 2''^'^ 3^^'* 9^^ 221" al.). This wis- 
dom is, in parts of the Book, also identified with rehgion (i^ 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^"*, an editor has thought it 

* Cf. the manner in which Jeremiah is referred to in Dan. 92, and the way in 
which the translator of Ben-Sira puts his grandfather in the same category with the 
prophets and other Israelitish writers. 

t Cf. H. Bois, Origines d. I. philosophie judio-alexandrine, 1890. 


desirable to introduce a specifically religious statement into the 
sage's picture of the all-sufificiency of wisdom. The religious 
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 Book. 

The conception of the world as a physical and moral cosmos or 
orderly arrangement is found, at least in germinal form, in such 
OT. passages as Gen. i, if/ 104. But the conception is far dis- 
tincter 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^^''') as a 
divine attribute, as in fact the chief attribute of God, 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 ch, 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. WS. 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 30^ (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, 9^^ 19® al., Eccl. 3"). Elsewhere in OT. 
(as in i/f 139) the greatness of God is treated as a ground of awe 
and reverence ; here it is regarded as a reason for refraining from 
attempts to define him. 

* See footnote on p. xiv. 


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 Firke 
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^^"^) Proverbs 
modifies the old law for the better, and its prohibition of revenge 
(24^^-^ 25^') not only stands in striking contrast with such senti- 
ments as that of \^ 109, but appears to be unique in OT. (it is not 
exactly paralleled in Lev. 19^* i/' 120^). 

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 oi Job in that it makes no mention of sub- 
ordinate supernatural beings (cf. Job i^ 3^ 5^ 26^^-^^ Zl^)'i WS. 
is much later than Proverbs, and represents a different order of 

3. In its picture of social life it most resembles Ben-Sira f ; 
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. 329 and BS. f^ (slander), Pr. 5. 7 and BS. g^-^ 2:^"^"^ (the har- 
lot), Pr. 6^-^ 17^^ and BS. 29^-^-i''-^^ (suretyship), Pr. \^^ and 
BS. 30^-^^ (chastisement of children), Pr. 11^ 22^® and BS. 5* 
(riches), Pr. 14''^ 22^*^ and BS. 4^"^ (the poor), Pr. 14^ 28^^ and 
BS. 10^ (kings), Pr. 15^0 30"- 1" and BS. 3^"^^ (conduct toward 
parents), Pr. 18-^ and BS. 6^-^" (friends), Pr. 20^ 23^^ and BS. 19^ 
31-""^ (wine), Pr. 20" and BS. 27^ (buying and selling), Pr. 23^'* 
and BS. 32^''' (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. 43off. 

t And we may add the Syriac Menander, given in Land's Anecdota Syriaca, 
Vol. I. ; see Frankenberg's article in ZATW., 1895. 


organization contemplated appears to be the same in the two 

4. More generally, as regards the moral and religious point of 
view and aim 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 Ben-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-Sira thus form a separate sub- 
group, devoting themselves to practical morals in contrast with 
the speculative element in the other books. 

§ 6. Origin and Date. 

I. Various authors are named in the titles : to Solomon are 
ascribed chs. 10^-22^^, 25-29, and apparently chs. 1-9 (though the 
title in i^ may be intended to refer to the whole book), to "the 
sages" 2 2"-24^^ and 24^^^, to Agur 30^ (and possibly but not 
probably other parts of ch. 30), to the Mother of King Lemuel 
31^'; 21^*"' and probably 30^'^ are anonymous. 

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 Wisdom of Solomon and Psalms of Sol- 


wisdom and a writer of idealizing non-liturgical poetry,* and 
ascribed to him indiscriminately everything of this sort. If the 
titles in Catiticles and Ecdesiastes cannot be accepted as authori- 
tative, neither can those in Proverbs be so regarded. And if httle 
or no weight is to be attached to i^ (as is now generally held), 
the same thing must hold of lo^ and 25^ 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, \\i 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^ 31^ 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. Ithiel 
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, 
Aave 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 ^ 127 because of his fame as builder of the Temple, 
t Cf. Stade and Holtzmann, G VI., II.. pp. 293 it 


earlier time. Ezekiel (Ez. 6. 8. 23 al.) declares that idolatry was 
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 31^^'^, and it is hardly hkely 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 29'*), 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 IsraeHtish 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 Ben-Sira, and we must assume that it 
was in common use among the Jews down to the second century 
B.c.f In a word, if for the name Yahweh we substitute " God," 
there is not a paragraph or a sentence in Proverbs 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 Greek influence. 

The social life depicted in Proverbs does not bear the marks of 

* Zech. 1-8 and Malachi bring no accusation of polytheism against their contem- 
poraries; perhaps idolatry, held under in the period of reconstruction, showed 
itself at the later time represented by Zech. 132. 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^'^), here monogamy is taken for 
granted. Agricultural pursuits are mentioned (3^ al.), 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'*^ 5^ al. 
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 Hfe (cf. 
Dt. 17'*"^ Isa. 11^^ 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 Proverbs; 
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 Proverbs 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 century B.C. 


currences of these terms are found in the Wisdom books, and in 
the other books (except in half a dozen passages in late reflective 
psalms) no philosophical sense attaches to them. In the histor- 
ical and Prophetical writings they refer to mechanical or artistic 
skill (Ex. 35^° Isa. 40^ i Chr. 22^^), cleverness in ordinary affairs 
(2 Sam. 13* 1 4-), political sagacity (Gen. 41^ Dt. i^^ Isa. 3^ 19" 
Jer. 8^ Ez. 27^ 28^ Esth. i^), magical or prophetic knowledge 
(Ex. 7^^ Dan. 5"), or general intelligence (Hos. 14^'^*'^ Isa. 11-). 
In Proverbs and the other Wisdom books they relate to a definite 
class of sages whose function is the pursuit of universal moral and 
religious wisdom — men who, unlike the prophets, lay no claim to 
supernatural inspiration, but make their appeal simply to human 
reason. In at least one passage of the later preexilian time (Jer. 
^23(22)^ there is the suggestion that the ethical prophets looked 
with suspicion on the contemporary "wise men," whose wisdom 
appears to be contrasted with the true ethical knowledge of Yah- 
weh ; but in Proverbs the sages present themselves as legitimate 
and competent teachers of this knowledge. There occurred, ob- 
viously, a noteworthy change in the character and position of the 
wise men, and the change could have taken place only after the 

Confirmation of this view may be obtained fi-om the considera- 
tion of the unity of the group of Wisdom books {Job, Proverbs, 
Ben-Sira, Ecclesiastes, Wisdom of Solomon). All these books, 
though there are differences among them, are substantially iden- 
tical each with the others in their philosophical points of view and 
in their ethical codes. They have the same conception of wisdom, 
and, if we omit Job, they portray the same general condition of 
society. The similarity between Proverbs and Ben-Sira is espe- 
cially striking.* It is not impossible that the similarity is due in 
part to borrowing (though it may be equally well accounted for 
by supposing that the two books drew material from the same 
sources, and BS. has not the tone of an imitator) ; but in that 
case the fact that Ben-Sira imitated Proverbs rather than the 

* The most notable difference between the two books is the nationalistic con- 
ception of wisdom in one passage of the latter (ch. 24) ; but this does not impair 
the general similarity between them. BS. 24^8 (which in its present form appears 
to identify wisdom with the Tora) is possibly a gloss. 


Prophetical books suggests that his affinities, intellectxial, 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 s^jbstantial mutual identity of the books composing it, it 
is diflScult 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 {BS., 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 : Joby Eccl., WS., discuss the question of the justice 
of the divine government of the world ; Prov. and BS. ignore this 
question. In regard to hterary 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 m Job ; the adj. p: is found 9 times in Prov., once 
in Eccl., not at all '\n Job ; of substantives ncTO (= wisdom) is 
peculiar to Prov. Cchs. 1-9) ; yiz is frequent in Prov. (mostly 
in I.), much less frequent in Job, wanting in Eccl.; rm is com- 
mon in Prov., much less common in Eccl., still less in Job ; ,T:2n 
is not infrequent in Prov., rare in Job, not found in Eccl. ; rxxo 
and .Tur (more general terms) are equally common in Job and 

• It would be desirable to includ-; Ben-Hira in the comparison ; but this will not 
be possible till we haTe more of its Hebrew text. Cf. the list of Heb. words given 
in Cowley and Neubauer's EccUsiastUus {BS. 39^-49") ; the list, however, needs 
revision. Ben- Sir a appears to contain more late words than Prwerbs. 


Prov., and are lacking in Eccl. Of words expressing folly boD is 
frequent in Prov. and Eccl., and wanting in Job ; "jiK is common 
in Prov., very rare in Job, lacking in Eccl.; 'ns is peculiar to 
Prov. The verb N^n sin occurs 8 times in the poem oi Job, 
once in Eccl., not at all in Prov., the participle is not infrequent 
in Eccl., less frequent in Prov., lacking in Job, the substantive is 
about equally common in Job and Prov., and is wanting in Eccl. 
Of terms for instruction the noun nnsn is found only in Prov., 
the verb of this stem is about equally common in Job and Prov., 
and is lacking in Eccl.; the stem "ic is rare in Job, frequent in 
Prov., not found in Eccl. Of words signifying way in the sense 
of conduct "rjua occurs only in Prov., Iti is common m Job and 
Prov. and rare in Eccl., while ms and nan:, about equally com- 
mon in Job and Prov., are lacking in ^<rr/. The terms icn and 
jn, kindness and favor, are not uncommon in Prov., but the first 
is rare in yi?^ and wanting in Eccl., while the second is rare in 
Eccl. and wanting in Job. m::Q covunand is found lo times in 
Prov., twice in Eccl., once \\\ Job, but /t'r^z ii times in Prov., once 
in y<?^, and not at all in Eccl. Words = ethically crooked do not 
occur in Eccl.; irpl' is common and ';'n£3 rare in Prov., and both 
terms are very rare in Job (on the other hand mi7, found several 
times in Job, does not occur in Prov. and Eccl.). 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 
(nsn, nam, p3, nun, hu^, X'on), in general avoiding terms that 
have a religious, ecclesiastical, or hortatory coloring ; Job, 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 is said to 
be undiscoverable by man, but is identified, as is also often done 
in Prov., with obedience to God) with that in Pr. 8 (in which 
wisdom is almost identified with God himself).* 

• For the opposite view see Budde's Hiob, Einleitung. Some critics regard v.M 
of Job 28 as an editorial addition ; the excision of this verse will not materially 


The general inference from these considerations is that most of 
Proverbs stands in time between Job and Ben-Sira. 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. -^^-^^ 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 Umit for Proit- 
erbs ; for the lower hmit 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. 400,1 and, on the other hand, from Ben-Sira 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 oi 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 vvell belong in the same period with Pr. 1-9. 

* On tlie date of yob cf. the commentaries of Davidson and Budde, and the 
articles in Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible, Cheyne's Cyclopaedia Biblica, and 
HerzogS. t And cf. Jer. 12I •20'. 


of the world — the question of the justice of the divine govern- 
ment of men. The first line is continued in Proverbs, certain 
psalms, and Ben-Sira, the second in Job, certain psalms, Eccles., 
and Wisd. 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 Book. 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 
III. (2 2'"-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-Sira. Its two parts, 22'^- 
24^ and 24^*^, 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 ^-nd 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 the 
second group accords more closely with the style of Ben-Sira* 

* It is this fresh picturesqueness that has given us a number of household words 
from chs. 25-29 (Davidson), but this characteristic does not in itself indicate great 


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 16-22^^, and still 
another in chs. 25-27 and parts of chs. 28, 29. From portions of 
these works an editor compiled our section 1 0^-22^®, 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 10^-22^®, 
but only that this latter collection was made before the other. 
Smaller collections, such as the Book of Fools (in 26'"'^) 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^'^ 
9^"^^) 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 § 6). 
It is held by some critics that in Job 15^ there is a direct allusion 
to Prov. 8^"^^ that Ehphaz asks Job whether he is the personified 
Wisdom there described.* But this view rests on an improbable 
interpretation of the couplet. In the first line Eliphaz 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. v.*) 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.* relates not to the past, but to the speaker's pres- 
ent) . Finally, even if the second hne 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 aS.f Cf. notes on jo"'. 

The paragraphs 6^"^ 6*^" 9^''^ belong partly in the same category 
with III., partly with V. 

* So Ewald, Davidson, Budde, al. The couplet in Job reads: 

Wert thou the first man born? 
Wert brought forth before the hills? 

tCf. Seyring, Die Abhangigkeit d. Spr. Sal. Cap. I.-IX., etc., 1889; Strack, in 
Stud. u. Krit., 1896 ; Wildeboer, LUt. d. A T. 


d. Chs. 30. 31, a collection of unconnected fragments, have the 
appearance of an appendix. The cool agnosticism of Agur re- 
minds us of Koheleth 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 (30^'' 31"®), or when 
they denote philosophical depth, are treated with contempt (30^). 
On the strange titles in 30^ 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, 16-22^®, 25-27, 
and 28. 29, and from these by different editors the sections 10-22^® 
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 Httle later than the first. During the next half-century the sec- 
tion III. (2 2^"-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 10^ ("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^"^^ 9'^"^^) rnay 
have been composed about the middle of the third century B.C., 
and was combined by its author (or by some contemporary editor) 
with II.-IV. ; the introduction (i^O 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^). 
The additions to the section (6^"^^ 9^"^^)? 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 25I was inserted by the final redactor. 


6. The linguistic phenomena of the Book are in accord with 
these dates : while the style, especially in the earlier parts, does 
not differ substar^tially from that of the " classic " period (which 
may be taken to include centuries 8-5 B.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, and 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 12 in 31^) are Aramaisms, others are late- 
Hebrew ; reference is made to these in the critical notes. Ben- 
Sira, so far as we can judge from the part of its Hebrew text 
which we have (chs. 39''-49^^), contains a greater number of late 
expressions than Proverbs — 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 Proverbs ; 
the words which have been so explained may all be otherwise 
satisfactorily accounted for. There are no Persian or Greek words. 

§ 7. Text and Versions. 

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, Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Psalms. 
It does not appear that changes were made in Proverbs in the 
interests of theological opinion or from a sense of propriety or de- 

* This is the case with most of the words mentioned as rare in Driver's Introd. 
to Lit. of OT. 


cency {causa honoris, c. reverentiae, 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. J 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, II 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 7I8, 
and Hitzig in 30^1, on which see critical notes. 

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

X 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. 

II This hypothesis is carried to excess by Heidenheim. 


form of doublets, but oftener 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 Proverbs ; but they show that our Hebrew Book 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 HI., IV., V., which (if 
we designate the chapters as in the Hebrew) are arranged thus : 
22^^-2422; 30I-1*; 24="-^; 30*^; 31'-^ 25-29; 31!'^^* From 
the point of view of similarity of material this arrangement is 
manifestly inferior to that of our Hebrew text — it breaks up HI. 
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 Proverbs has a perplexing 
mixture of readings, agreeing sometimes with |^ against @, some- 
times with (g against % ; the more important readings are given 
in the Critical Notes. As it follows "^ in general in material and 

* Cf. the Greek arrangement of Jeremiah, and numbering of the Psalms, and 
the modern attempts at rearranging Ecclesiastes. 

t So Strack and Frankenberg. The latter observes that the Greek arrangement 
divides the latter part of the Book into two Solomonic collections, with only two 
titles (loi 25I). This may have been the principle of arrangement, but the trans- 
lator may have found it in his Hebrew manuscript. 

X Cf. Bickell, 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 Uttle 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 (3 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 (3 or inserts from it couplets which are not in |^, 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. 

§ 8. Canonicity. 

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^-^) and its too highly colored descrip- 
tions (7""'"). 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 S and 2E see J. A. Dathe, 1764, in Rosenmiiller's Opuscula, 1814, 
Th. Noldeke, in Archiv f. whs. erforschung d. A T., ii., and Pinkuss' articles in 
ZATW., 1894. 

t Shab. 30 b, Aboth Nathan, Cap. i. 



Pirke AbotJi), 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. 

§ 9. Bibliography. 
On Text and Versions. 

PrOCOPIUS, 'YApfxtvda, 

G. J. L. VoGEL, 1768 (in Schultens). 

J. G. Jager, Observv. in Prov. Sal. 

vers, alexandrinam, 1788. 
J. F. ScHLEUSNER, Opuscula, 1 81 2, and 

Lexicon"^, 1829. 
P. DE Lagarde, Anmerkungen z. 

griech. uebersetzung d. Proverbien, 

M. Heidenheim, Ztir textkritik d. 

Proverbien (in his Vierteljahr- 

schrift), 1865, 1866. 
Dyserinck, Kritische Scholien (in 

Theol. Tijdschrift), 1883. 
H. OoRT, Spreuken I.-IX. (in Th. 

Tijdschr.), 1885. 
A. J. Baumgartner, itude critique sur 

Vetat d. texte d. livre d. Proverbes, 

G. BiCKELL, Krit. bearbeitung d. 
Proverbien (in Wiener Zeitschr. f. 
d. Kunde d. Morgenlandes), 1 89 1. 

H. PiNKUSS, Die syrische ueberset- 
zung d. Proverbien (in ZATW.), 

H. Gratz, Exeget. studien (in his 
Afonaissckrift), 1884, and Emenda- 
tioties, 1892-1894. 

E. Nestle, art. Bibeliibersetzungen, in 
Herzog's Real-Encykl? (and pub- 
lished separately). 

Remarks on text in commentaries 
of Hitzig, Ewald, Delitzsch,Zockler, 
Nowack, Wildeboer, Frankenberg. 

Translatiotis and Commentaries. 

Midrash Mishit, ed. S. Buber, 1893. 

Saadia's version, ed. J. Derenbourg, 
1894 (cf. B. Heller, in REJ., 1898). 

Rashi, Lat. transl. by Breithaupt, 1714. 

Aben Ezra,* ed. C. M. Horowitz, 1884. 
The commentaries of Rashi, Aben 
Ezra, and Levi ben Gersom are given 
also in A. Giggeius' In Prov. Sal. 
Comment, trium Rabbinorum, 1620, 
and are cited in L. Cahen's La Bible, 
1847. In this last work Leopold 
Dukes, in his Introduction to Prov- 
erbs, gives a list of 38 Jewish com- 
mentators on the book, beginning 
with Saadia (d. 942) and ending 
with J. Lowenstein (1837). 

H. Deutsch, Die Sprilche Sal.'s nach 

d. auffassung im Talmud ti. Mid- 

rasch dargestellt u. kritisch unter- 

sucht, 1885. 
J. Mercerus, Comm. in Sal. Prov., 

etc., 1573, 1651. 
M. Geier, Prov. regum sapientissimi 

Sal., etc., 1653, 1699, 1725. 
C. B. Michaelis (in J. H. Michaelis, 

Uberiores annoiationes in Hagiogr., 

etc.), 1720. 

A. Schultens, Prov. Sal., etc., 1748, 
and abridged ed. by G. J. L. Vogel, 

B. Hodgson, The Prov, of Sol. transl., 
etc., 1788. 

* It is not certain that this work is by Aben Ezra ; it may be by Moses Qamhi 
(Kimchi). It was edited also, from another MS., by S. R. Driver (Oxford, 1880). 



H. EwALD, in his Poel. Biicher [Dic/i- 

ter'] d. Alt. Bundes, 1837, 1867. 
G. R. NoYES, New Translation of the 

Prov., etc., 1846. 
M. Stuart, Comm. on the Book of 

Prov., etc., 1852. 
F. HiTZiG, Die Sprilche Sal's Uber- 

setzt, etc., 1858. 
O. ZOCKLER, Comm. zu d. Spr. Sal. 

(in Lange's Bibelwerk), 1866 (Eng. 

transl., 1870). 
H. F. MiJHLAU, De prov. quae di- 

cuntur Aguri et Lemuelis origine 

atque indole, 1869. 
Franz Delitzsch, Das Sal. Spruch- 

buch, 1873 (Eng. transl. 1875). 

E. Reuss, in his annotated transl. of 

the Bible, French ed. (Z.« Bible), 

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

W. NowACK (in Kurzgef 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. 
W. Frankenberg (in Nowack's iYaw*/- 

komtn. 2. AT.), 1898. 

Gene?'al Works. 

L. Dukes, Introduction to Proverbs in 

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

braer, 185 1. 
H. Bois, La poesie gnotnique chez I, 

Hebreux et chez I. Grccs — Solomon 

et Theognis, 1886. 
T. K. Cheyne, in yob and Solomon, 


C. G. Montefiore, Notes upon the 
date and religious value of the Book 
of Prov. (in yeiv. Quart. Rev.), 
I 889- I 890. 

R. Smend, Alttestamentliche religions- 
geschichte, 1893. 

R. Pfeiffer, Die relig.-sittliche Welt- 
anschauung d. Buches d. Spriiche, 

Proverbs of Other Ancient Peoples. 

Chinese : F. H. Jenings, Proverbial 
Philosophy of Confucius, 1895; ^• 
Scarborough, Chinese Proverbs,i?>']^. 

Egyptian : T. L. Griffith, art. Egyptian 
Literature, in Library of the World's 
Best Literature. 

Assyrian : M. Jager, Assyr. Rdthsel u. 
Sprichivorter, in Beitrdge 2. Assyri- 
ologie, 1892. 

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

Hitopade(a, the Panchatantra, and 
the yatakas. 

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, 
Ali'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.'), an introduction (v.--''), and two 
discourses (v.^-^^-^^). 

1. Title. — The 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. mishle) 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 mashal {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 mashalists (Nu. 21^) appear, 
like the Greek rhapsodists and the Arabian rawis, to have been 
reciters (doubtless also sometimes composers) of narrative and 
descriptive poems. There is no one EngUsh equivalent for ma- 

* There is no OT. word iax poetry, though there are terms for various species of 
poetical composition, song, etc. On the late Hebrew terms for liturgical poetry and 
poets, //)'«/, i>aitan (ttoijjtijs) , see Delitzsch, Zur Gesch. d. judisch. Poesie, pp. 49 ff. 



shal — it seems to cover the whole ground of Hebrew poetry. It 
may signify a simple folksaying or aphorism (i Sam. lo^^ 24"*^'' 
Ez. 12^^ 18^), an allegory (Ez. 17^), an enigmatical saying (Ez. 21^), 
a byword (Jer. 24^ Dt. 28^^), a taunting speech (Isa. 14* Hab. 2^), 
a lament (Mic. 2^), a visional or apocalyptic discourse (Nu. 23^ 
24^^), a didactic discourse ((/'49. 78), an argument or plea (Job 
29^).* In the Book of Proverbs it is either an aphorism (10-22) 
or a discourse (1-9, 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.^). The thought is similar to that of 22^^"^^, and the 
preface, like the title, was probably prefixed by a late, perhaps the 
latest, editor ; the paragraph is syntactically a continuation of v.*. 

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 (-"''), and the definition of 
knowledge (') ; and the former divides itself into a general refer- 
ence to men ("■^), with special regard to the immature (■*), and a 
particular reference to the wise (^- '^) — that is, the work is said to 
be addressed to all classes of intelligence. The definition (^) 
stands by itself, being of the nature of a general reflection, an 
appendix to the statement of object. V.^ appears to be a pa- 
renthesis or an editorial insertion — the syntactical construction 

* Cf. Delitzsch, op. cit., pp. 196 fif. 

I. 2 5 

here changes (to be resumed in v.®), 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 
*-^, "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.^ is close : the proverbs of Solomon . . . [whose 
object is] f/iaf 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. 5^ 
2 Sam. 13^ 14^ 20!*^), the skill of the artisan (Ex. 31^), wide 
acquaintance with facts (i K. 4^* [S*^'^]), learning (Jer. 8^), skill 
in expounding secret things (Ez. 28^), statesmanship (Jer. 18^^), 
and finally, knowledge of right living in the highest sense. This 
last is its sense here — moral and rehgious 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 Book are 
concerned with practical affairs ; the law of God is for them 
simply the moral law. — The second term, training, disciplitie, 
(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 God. 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 good 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^° Hos. 6^ 13^ Isa. i^ Jer. 14^ Job 20^ 
\j/ ^i^^^K 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- 
hefid, 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 
e.xpressed in the term receive = " apprehend, accept, and apply as 
a rule of life." — The term /raining (or, instruction) is usually 
defined by its source (v.^, father, 3^^ Yahweh), but here by its 
object or aim, as in Isa. 53^ the chastisement 0/ \^= 7vhich 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 (Dehtzsch). Kamp- 
hausen * renders : that men may accept instruction that snakes 
wise (k/ug), righteousness and \sense of] the tight and rectitiide, 
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. 48^* 3® Prov. 10^ 14^ al.), and espe- 
cially in the moral and religious life (Jer. 3^^ tp 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 Kautzsch's Heilige Schrift. 

I. 2-5 7 

eral. Probity is the procedure of a judge, especially legal deci- 
sion (Ju. 4^ 2 Sam. 15-) or custom (i Sam. 2^^ 10"^), law (Dt. 4''). 
God's acts of moral government in the world (Isa. 26^ i/zios'), 
then general conduct in accordance with legal decision (assunuAi 
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. 
N? declares that knowledge of riglit 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. I'he 
inexperienced {KY. si/nple) are the uninstructed, the immature; 
the word is here used in a negative, indifferent sense, to indicate 
need of instruction (used in wp 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 (Ex. 2^), child (2 K. 4^^), 
young man (Ju. 17'), 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 Ben-Sira (y'"^'" 9^ 22^-^ 23""-'' 25^""-'^ 26 
36^''"^ 42^"). — Discretion is cleverness in general (Gen. 3^), either 
for good (so throughout Pr.) or for evil (Ex. 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 (12- 14'^ 
24*), oftener, as here, in a good sense. 

5. Synonymous, quaternary-ternary (possibly ternary). The 
telic sense that the wise man may hear (RV. Orelli) is not a 
correct rendering of the Heb. ; the hortative sense let . . . hear 
(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.^), 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^^ of God's 
guidance of the clouds; in Pr. 11" 12^ 20^* 20^ =■ coiaisel, 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.'"* ; these refer to the subject- 
matter of teaching, v.*^ 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. 13^). — The three 
terms here employed to describe the form of the sage's instruction 
have no exact representatives in English. On prove?'b see note 
on \}. The meaning of the stem of the second term (n^'bia) 
appears to be turn, bend ; Gen. 42^ an inteipreter is one who 
translates discourse from one language into another, and so the 
Babylonian ambassadors or interpreters of 2 C. 32'^' ; Isa. 43^' 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 inediating angel oi ]oh 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^, it has the 

* This statement can, I believe, be substantiated. The Greek Mysteries, and 
such passages as Dan. 122, 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 (riTn) comes in like manner from a stem meaning 
turn aside, and signifies some sort of deflected discourse. Its 
earliest use seems to be that of riddle, as in Ju. 14, i K. 10^ 
(= 2 C. 9') ; in Ez. 17- it = parable, and in Nu. 12^ the parabolic 
or visional form of the ordinary divine communication with priest 
or prophet, in contrast wilh the direct speech which Yahweh 
employed with Moses ; in Dan. 8^ Antiochus Epiphanes is de- 
scribetl as understanding hidoth, which must mean tortuous (mor- 
ally tricky) words or procedures ; a shading of scorn and ridicule 
appears in Hab. 2®, while in i/^ 49''<^^ 78^, as in Pr., the sense is 
simply didactic. Here it o\i\\Qw%\y — apho7-isms. — 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 B.C. appears probable 
from the way in which the sages are spoken of in Pr. (especially 
22^'"-'), and Eccl, i2^\ and from the account given in Pirke 
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.^ be omitted, v.^"^ "^ 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 rectitude. 
To give discretion to the inexperienced, to the youth knowledge and insight. 
To understand proverb and parable, the words of sages and their aphorisms. 

* See Schiirer, Jewish People, Eng. tr., II. i. 32^ 


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 «// 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 hfe, 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 
feeUng. 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 Targum), 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 

I. 7 II 

be freely used, in certain circles, down to the second century b.c. 
It is possible, however, that both in Egypt and in Palestine it was, 
in this later time, though written, not pronounced, but replaced in 
reading by Adonay {the Lord). — The second clause states, not 
formally but in substance, the antithesis to the first, the sense 
being : " absence of the fear of Yahweh (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. 11"''), or 
offensively ignorant (10* 20^ 29^), 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 Grk. has a quatrain : 

The beginning of wisdom is the fear of God, 

And a good understanding have all they that practise it; 

Piety toward God is the beginning of knowledge, 

But wisdom and instruction the impious will set at naught. 

The second line of this quatrain now stands in xp in"', and the 
third line appears to be a doublet of the first (except that the 
terms wisdom and kvotvledge exchange places), but may be an 
original parallelism. Whether the longer form of the Greek 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""^. 

I. 1. The primitive sense of the stem '^;;'3 is doubtful. In all Semitic 
languages it means to be like or equal, in Canaanitish (Heb., Phoen.) also 
to rule, and in Arab, to stand erect, be eminent, superior. The original 
force is perhaps to be alongside of, above (cf. *?;' = on, superposition, and at, 
juxtaposition), whence the notions of similarity and superiority. See Schul- 
tens, Prov., Fleischer (in De.), Ges. T/ies., BDB. — ?§ "-Nn::" -pT.; (5 Ss 
i^aaiXfva-ev iv '\(jpa-f)\, possibly a variant reading (cf. Eccl. i^), but hardly 
an indication (Jager) that the Grk. translator considered the paragraph v.'-^ 
to be non-Solomonic. — 2. The primary sense of the stem zzr\ seems (from 
the Arab.) to be Jirm, fixed, whence the verb control, restrain, and the 
r^OMVi fixedness of opinion, knowledge. — 3. '^Drn is taken z% = intelligence, 
■wisdom, by Oort, Theol. Tijdsch., xix. 380 (IL doctrinae), as in Dan. i'^; 
the Inf. occurs elsewhere in Pr. twice, in 21^1 = make ivise, teach, in 21^^ 
= wise conduct.- the latter sense is preferable here, on-^^a is collective 


plu., a mass of equitable actions = equity ; syn. ni-'T, Mai. a" Isa. 1 1* ^ 45*^"^- 
A different sense occurs in Dan. 1 1^. — @ divides the v. into three stiches: 
di^aadaL re ffrpo^as X67WJ', vofjcrai re diKaLOO'vvrji' d\r]$TJ, kuI KpLfxa KarevOOveiv. 
On arp. Xoy. see Schleusner, Lex. What Heb. it represents is doubtful; Lag. 
noDiD turnings (cf. Ez. 41^-24), which, however, is not used of speech; Hei- 
denheim (in Viei-teljahrsschr. f. iheol. Forsch., ii. 401) "iDia ''np'^, the teachittgs of 
discipline, vv'hich hardly explains <5; voT)<jat. = ^yvrx"^, a\r]0rj is scribal insertion 
(Lag., on the contrary, rejects diK. as usual rendering), kclt. = some form of 
^:r1, perh. -i::"r: taken as Inf., less probably Hif. iir'in. IL = |l?. & to receive 
instruction and fear, where Nn'?m seems to be scribal error. ST = |^, except 
that it prefixes 1 to pix. — Graetz inserts nnoin before IDID (as in 623), ^nd 
writes Sidbti'^ and □nifiD tosa'Di, making a tristich (so ©). — 4. D'NPc, written 
y_22. 32 oipD; the N is vowel-letter, and should be omitted. St. T\r\o = open, 
wide (Gen. 9^^), then to be persuaded, enticed, seduced ; >nD open-minded, per- 
suadable, simple-minded, inexperienced ; Ar. fata = broad-minded, generous, 
and young man, fatwd = legal decision (opening, expounding of a legal ques- 
tion), imifti = judge. — |^ nn'^; (Q Xva 5y, free rendering. J^ -i>"jS; @ TratSJ 
5^ vi(^, in which z'^tj^ is perh. dittogram (Jag.), but may be orig. (Lag.) ; accord- 
ing to Heid. it is miswriting of vios, the two words tt. and v. being designed to 
form a parallel to plu. 'd. For lyj Graetz unnecessarily writes nyj stupid. 
Rashi i;'j = lyuc cast out from or destitute of learning. — 5. A telic force for 
VD!£" is hardly supported by such a construction as that of t'Ci:"' Isa. 13^ in 
which the two clauses are closely combined. — m^ann is denominative noun 
of action; ® Kv^ipyrjaiv, it gubernacula, AS9 gubernationes ; on S^ see 
notes of Lag. and Field; Fleischer (in De.) compares Ar. tadhlr, Syr. duboro. 

— V.^ is regarded as interpolation by Ziegler, and as parenthetical by Wilde- 
boer. — 6. f§ nxiSc; ^ aKOTuvhv \6yov; AG epfievelav, and so IL Rashi, AV., 
against the parallelism, t/ie interpretation, marg. an eloquent speech ; KV. figure. 

— 7. On the etymology of "^mn as = thick, dull, stupid, see Fleisch., De., SS., 
BDB.; Malbim, Heid. (in De.) sceptic, from •''?in perhaps. — Bickell (^Wiener 
ZKM. V. 86) adopts the reading of (5 on the ground that beginning of wisdom 
as well as beginnittg of kno2vledge is here absolutely necessary; he holds that the 
Psalmist took the passage from Pr. and that the translator of the f followed the 
translation of Pr., the clause falling out of J^ by homoeoteleuton. It is, how- 
ever, equally possible that Pr. followed the ^p. Further, it is not clear what Heb. 
would be represented by <5 evcripeia eh Oebv, which Bickell renders by ni.T pni'; 
but €i5cr. nowhere else represents 't, and the expression looks like original Greek 
rather than like a translation. It is found in CI. Al., Strom., 161. The Heb. 
author may have written npi in first clause because he had noon in second. 

8-19. Discourse against organized robbery : exhortation to 
listen to instruction (v.^^- ^) ; the temptation to robbery and 
murder (v.'"-'^) ; warning against it, fate of the robber (v.'^^^). 

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

I. 8-9 13 

Bickell further arranges it in quatrains : v.*- '■ '"• "• ^^' ^^- "• ^*- "• ^*- ". 
The text is not quite clear ; some good emendations are suggested 
by the Greek. 

8. Hear, my son, thy father's instruction, 

And forsake not the admonition of thy mother; 

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

10. My son, if sinners entice thee, 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 Sheol, swallow them alive, 
Sound as they who go down to the Pit; 

13. All precious wealth we shall find, 
We shall fill our houses with spoil; 

14. Cast thou thy lot among us, 
One purse we all will have," — 

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, — 

18. 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.* is synonymous, ternary ; v.^ 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 my son = my pupil, is characteristic of chs. 1-9, and 
also, though less markedly, of 22^-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 thee, 

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; 

•f" 16. For their feet run to evil, 
And haste to shed blood. 


of the Book, Io'-2 2'^ 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. %ob, Sanh. 102 a) explains 
father here as = " God," and ?nother as = " Israel" (Ez. 19^); 
according to Rashi the instructio7i 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. t 

10-19. Alliance with bauds 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 1 
to a less organized sort of crime; they speak rather of legalized/ 
oppression of the poor by the rich ; see Am. 8^-^ Hos. 4^ 6^-^ 7 ■ 
Isa. i=" 5^3 10' Mic. 2^ 33 6^ f^ Zeph. 3' Jer. 5^ f^' Ez. 18^*^1^ \ 
22^^; 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."- ^*) and the manner of I. (portrayal of open vice 
chs. 5.6. 7) favor the former view. Frank, compares BS. 31^^'. 

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

* On the education of Jewish children see J. Wiesen, Gesch. u. Meih. d. Schui- 
wesen im talmud. Alterthume ; for the Greek customs, Becker, Charicles, Eng. tr.. 
pp. 217 ff.; for the Roman, Gallus, pp. 182 ff. 

t See Ju. 826 ; Masp^ro, Anc, Egypt and Assyria ; Becker, Char., 198, n. 6, Gc. 
429 fl 

1. 8-12 15 

omitted as gloss, and ^°- "* will then form the couplet. — Sinners 
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 Pr. (13^' 23^'), the 
verb is common in all parts of OT, Instead of the conditional 
construction the Grk. has the hortative : /<?/ not impious men lead 
thee astray, but the conditional protasis is a natural if not neces- 
sary preliminary to the hortative apodosis of v.^*. — 11. A triplet 
in the Heb., ternary-binary-binary ; the verse division is doubtful 
(see note on v.'"). The Heb. text instead q{ perfect has blood, 
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 De.) to mean a youth, a young blood. 
The adv. ivithout cause must qualify the verb lurk ; the translation 
innocent in vain (that is, their innocence does not save them), 
while grammatically possible, does 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. ^ lol — 12. Synonymous, ternary. The 
word rendered sound is generally used of moral completeness 
= perfect (Gen. 6^ Pr. 2-'), and is here so taken by some (as 
Kamph.) ; but the parallelism favors the physical sense in full 
bodily health and strength, equivalent to the parallel ^//z'<? (as in 
Ez! 15^ cf. the ritual use7Ex. i2'' al.). The sense of tlTe passage 
is: we will swallow them (Grk. 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 Under- 
world, the abode of the dead, good and bad, a cheerless place 
whose denizens have no occupation (Eccl. 9^°) and no relations 
with Yahweh * (Isa. 38'*) ; descent to it is a misfortune, since it 

* It is probable that in the oldest form of the Heb. religion (as in the Baby- 
Ionian) Sheol was under the control of a separate deity, independent of Yahweh: 


deprives man of activity and happiness, but not a punishment ex- 
cept when it is premature {{{/ 55^'"*0- — The second clause reads 
in the Grk. : and let us take away the remembrance of him from 
the earth (cf. i// 34^''<^'^ 109'^), 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^^). The robbers have their 
own houses, are residents of the city. The Vrss. give slightly 
different readings ; & : let tis seize his costly possessions ; S : all 
his wealth and glory; C : all wealth and glory (or propei'ty^. 
^ 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. 16*), then the 
thing assigned to the questioner by the divine decision (Jud. i^), 
then in general one's part in life (Jer. 13^ \^ 16^ Dan. 12'^) ; cast 
thy lot among us = share our fortunes, ide7itify thyself with tts. 
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.^*^^^). — 15-19. The reason 
for avoiding such companions : their path, though it may be tem- 
porarily successful, leads finallv to destruction. — 15. Synonymous, 
ternary. The received Hebrew text begins the verse with my son, 
as in v.^", and a justification for this expression may be found 

but 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 266) and the idea of resurrection arose (Dan. 12-, cf, 
the doubtful Isa. 2619J. 

I. 12-17 17 

in the length of the preliminary description, v.'*^", which might 
make the resumptive my son natural (Baumg.) ; but, on the other 
hand, as it is not found in (©, is unnecessary at the beginning 
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 be regarded as a scribal 
insertion. It breaks the connection between v.^" and v.*'^, the 
latter of which gives the ground (namely, the peril of the robbers' 
course) for the exhortation of the former ; and the section v.^^" 
is devoted to a description not of the character of the robbers 
(which is given in v.^""") but of their fate. Verse ^®, further, is 
identical with Isa. 59^% 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 /<?<?/ as subject of make haste, or we may insert 
the subject they (the robbers). — 17. Single sentence, ternary. 
This statement is introductory to that of v.^*, and its meaning is 
fixed by the relation between the two : v.'* declares that the 
robber murderer's course is destructive to him, and v.^' must 
therefore set forth the destruction and the bUndness 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 
Hke manner the criminal, bhnded 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 (Ziegl., De.), 
but : go not with them, for, like silly birds, they fall into the net, 
and thou wilt be entrapped with them (Ew., Nowack, Strack., al., 
and cf. Schultens). Frank, renders: for without success is 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 (3, 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.^^) 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^. — 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 beHef that criminals cannot in the 
long run escape the vigilance of the law. — (S for they who have 
to do with blood lay tip evils for themselves, and the overthrow of 
la7vless ?nen 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.^^ — 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 15^ 28^'' Job 8^^ Hos. 4". The term gain has here the 
connotation of violence, injustice, as in Ez. 22"; the simple sense 
profit is found in Gen. 37-^ Mai. 3" Job 22^. — The argument of the 
section v.^"'^^ 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. n^S, only here and 4^, lit. twisted, any adornment for the head, pjj? 
apparently a denom. from pjjj neck, a word which occurs in Jew. Aram, and 
Arab., but not in Heb. Graetz, with little probability, emends to rh-hz perfect. 
& omits. — J^ idid; (S^ TraLdeiav, (Q^^^ vd/iovs (and so S); the latter is prob. 

I. 17-19 19 

scribal variation (cf. (fl^), hardly (Lag.) rendering of "iDin: for nora; Heid. 
holds that it comes from a Pharisaic hand. — |^ :-i; (g^ g^lr?, @a ^^^^ perh. 
free rendering (Heid. : allusion to phylacteries), perh. representing a variant 
reading, though the original in that case is not apparent. — 10, 11. @ divides 
y 10. 11 as follows : My son, lei not impious men seduce thee, Nor consent thou 
if they urge thee, saying. Come with us, go shares in blood, And let us hide 
the just man unjustly in the earth. Bickell, omitting '^^^ for rhythmical 
reasons, writes : Consent not if they say, come with us, Let us lay wait for 
blood, let us lurk for the innocent. The Heb. rhythm is not satisfactory, but 
it is hardly improved by these variations. Bickell's omission of i"* is 
unwarranted, and the resulting form is not good, either rhythmically or 
rhetorically. (5 is rhythmically better, but its rendering of |§ is partly 
incorrect, partly free, pj may be retained if we suppose ^'"' to be purposely 
short, and take ^^ as couplet : If they say, come with us. Let us lay wait for 
the perfect, let us lurk for the innocent, or, if we throw out i^b. iic^ ^^d part 
of ^'*, and take the rest as couplet. It is hardly possible to recover the 
original form. — 10. "^ :n'; (5 ^17 = Sx. — f^ vx;'"i (from njs), in which the 
»< and a have changed places (full form nas.i), 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 njN.i is found in a number of MSS. (see 
De' Rossi), and either it should here be written, or we should, with Bi., write 
a.sri; in several MSS. the verb is understood as nij (xi^-, N3r), which is 
improbable. — 11. After n::N' (gS have "i^, perh. repetition from following 
."ir*^. (5 wapaKa\4(Tw<Ti may = '.s*. — |^ naisj; (S KOivdivrjaov, from 3"^" or T3n 
(Lag.). — 5§ 3-''^; Dyserinck, Theol. Tijd. 17, 578, reads C"'^, which suits the 
next clause; Oort, ib., 19, 381, holds that the reading of v.i^ (which ver. is 
clearly parallel to v.^i) sustains m here. — ^ njrjsj seems to be intrans. (as 
apparently in ^ 10^ 56') ; elsewhere the Qal is trans., and so it is here taken 
by Frank, who renders: we will set {a trap). — J§ 'pi^; (§ dvdpa dlKaiov, 
either not having the '-, or (Lag.) taking it, according to the Aram, const., as 
sign of Ace. — ^ 2:r, found in the Vrss. (S n""'.'3 maliciously), but superflu- 
ous, and probably a gloss (Bi.). The whole clause may be omitted without 
detriment to the sense, and with advantage to the rhythm. — 12. J^ 2j?'73j; 
Graetz Pi., as in 19'^* 21^'. — As 2d clause (@ has Kal dpcj/xev avrov ttjv fj.vrifj.riu 
iK yrjs, representing the Heb. of \p 34^^ 109^^, perh. editorial variation; Lag. 
suggests that, the Heb. text of (§ being effaced, it took the appropriate 
passage from the Ps.; for |^ a^S''om may have stood 037:1; Heid. supposes 
that (5 may have had noisn o.iiyn^ a?."i\ improb. late Heb. — 13. ?^ ?n; 
(S TT]v KTrj(Tiv auTou; Bi. OV^, not so good a reading as that of J§. — 
14. ?§ ^^37; (SILSST have Impv., which is better, though not absolutely 
necessary, since the assertory form of statement is possible; Bi. omits 'n as 
marring the parallelism, but thy lot is with us is hard. — (§'' has a doublet, a 
fr«e and a literal rendering; the former is probably the original (Jag., Lag., 
Baumgartner), the latter a correcting gloss — 15. |^ -j^; (5^"=" vU, H-P 23 
(= V), 252, 254, 295, 297, vU fj.ov, lacking in (gx^A-BC^ and should probably be 


omitted. — J§ n3V"iJ sing.; plu. in (SILSiir and several Heb. MsS., the diH. not 
appearing in script, defect. — J^ l">'-» lacking in IL De'R 249. — 16. Wanting 
in the uncials of (^ (exG> Nc. a A) and in Copt. (Sahidic and Memphitic); 
Cod. 23 (of H-P) adds to it from Rom, 3'^- ^% and the cursives which contain 
it place it some before and some after v.^^. It appears not to belong to the 
original text. — After ot 3i has n^jt (= 'pj, as in Isa. 59"). — 17. (S prefixes 
»y; Sb has 1 instead of T, and for jl^ n-\i2 plu. act. Part. I'^n-j. — J^ mic in 
sense of spread is difficult, the word elsewhere meaning scatter, winnoiv ; 
Schult. here ventilatum ; Rashi, in vain is {grain^ scattered {on) the net. 
We should perhaps read T^Z'-\ n-j-iDO ((S hiKTMo.) or -\ rjno ojn, which is 
phonetically not too hard. In Hos. 5' (S renders a by iKrelvetv, which is its 
expression here. — 1§ ''•;2; plu. in (SlLlt. and 4 Heb. MSS. — 18. ?§ 13-in-; 
@ /ueT^X"*''"^'; see v.^^. |§ 3^-"; (gBai. 0(j;/oy (H-P 23 al/idriov) — D''0'', not 
so well. (@, rendering iJ2i^ by drjjavpL^oviriv, adds Kajcd as necessary comple- 
ment. & appears to make v.^^ a continuation of v.^" (Pink.) — 19. J^ mniN; 
(@ nnnh', probably to be adopted; see 5* Nu. 23^* ,^^737.38 73I"; -ns is not 
elsewhere used as = fate, the sense here required by the connection. — 
^ V7;2; (5 T3 d(r£^eL<i. = r\^);2 (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.^-- ^^, which are trip- 
lets), which may be naturally combined into quatrains. After the 
introduction (v.^-^') comes the address, which consists of a denun- 
ciation (v.^-^), the charge of disregard of her teaching (v."-^), a 
description of the fate of the despisers (v.^®^^), and a contrast 
between the doom of fools and the happiness of the obedient 
(v.^^-^). 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 [] t» 
And fools hate knowledge? 

* The Heb. adds : in the city. 

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

I. 20-2I 21 

23. [] * I will utter my mind to you, 
Will teU you my decision : 

24. Because I have called, and ye refused, 

I have stretched out my hand, and none regarded, 

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

26. I, in my turn, will laugh in [the day of] your calamity, 
I will mock when your disaster comes, 

27. When your disaster comes like a storm. 
And your calamity like a whirlwind. [] f 

28. Then will they call on me, but I will not answer, 
They will seek me, but 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 the 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.^), 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.^^^ constitute a separate 
discourse which states the result of disobedience. Unity of 
thought may be gained by omitting v.^, 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.-*^'). 

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

Synonymous, ternary. After gateways the Heb. has in the city her 

« V.i'^a in the Heb. : turn ye to my admonition. 
t Heb. v.iS'c : -when diitress and anguish befall you. 


words 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 oi 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 p7-inces, 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^ {Jiigh 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. 9'* Isa. 12^ Job 38^), 
sometimes of sorrow (Lam. 21''-'), or general excitement (1/^78^), 
here of intensity of feeling. — Wisdom does not content herself 
with being wise at home, but seeks men out in their everyday 
life — she is a preacher. The custom of speaking in places of 
concourse was an old one, familiar to the prophets ; see Jer. 7*, 
and cf. Mic. i* Isa. 20^ Jer. 5' ; so also Socrates (Xen., Mem. L 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 
Koheleth, given in Eccl. to Wisdom (speaking in the person of Solomon), if, as 
is possible, it means a caller (or metnber) of a public assembly, supposes acquaint- 
ance with Grk. forms of life; see the commentaries of Tyler, Plumptre, Reuss, 
Siegfried, Wildeboer, and Cheyne's '^ob and Solo/Hcn. 

I. 20-23 23 

The exhortation in Prov. is not : put away all other gods and 
serve Yahweh alone, or : bring offerings to the temple according 
to the Law, but : listen to reason and conscience, which are the 
voice of God 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.^''^. The connection between the divisions is not clear 
(see note above on v.^*'^''). 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.^^ ^ the condi- 
tional form, the apodosis following in v.-*^, but against this is the 
form of the verbs in v.-'*' ^. 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.^^, or, what seems 
most satisfactory, omit v."'^ ; v.^ -'' will then contain not an invita- 
tion, but a denunciation. Cf the connectedness and smoothness 
of the similar discourse 8^'". 

22, 23. The Heb. has two triplets : v?'^ is quaternary-quaternary- 
ternary, v.^ 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- 
ions, RV. simple) are the inexperienced (v.'*), here those who 
positively love ignorance, and deliberately refuse to listen to 
instruction in right living. — The terms scoffing (or scorn) and 
scoffer (or scorner) belong almost exclusively to the later relig- 
ious vocabulary of Pss., Pr. ; they occur elsewhere only Hos. 7* 
Isa. 28"-^ 29^" Job 16^, 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'), the special element of contempt not 
being significant ; the simple sense occurs in 20^. In i// 119"^ the 
reference is to apostate Jews or foreign enemies ; in Pr. there 
is no reference to the nation Israel. — Fool (Heb. kesil) is also 
a term of the reflective moral literature, occurring, in the intel- 
lectual or ethical sense, only in Pss., Pr., Eccl. (the verb is 


found once, Jer. lo*) ; 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.^^ (which is a r^sum^ of the preceding statement), there is 
ground for supposing v.^'" to be a scribal addition ; Wisdom is 
here dealing with the unwise. — In v.^ 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. Admotiition (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.^) will then be Wisdom's declaration that 
she now utters her final word. The word rendered titter (RV. 
pour out) is a poetical synonym oi speak ; so i5^^(/' 19^*^^ 78^94* 
191'"' 145^ ; and mind {spirit) — thought, here = pufpose 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 11^^ 16'^^ 25^* 29" (so Isa. 40" 
the mind, Judgment of Yahweh). Here the meaning is given by 
the parallelism : / will tell (or make known) my words = I will 
utter my thought* The words (here = decision) and the mind 
are stated in the following address (v.^*"^). My spirit may also 
= myself. — The Heb. introduces the second line of v.^ with 
behold. — O construes the two verses differently : So lofig 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.^^ is against 
the connection. — Bickell reads : Hoiu 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. 

I. 22-27 25 

quatrain, and (by obliterating the invitation of v.^) gets rid of 
the break between v.^^- ^ and the rest of the discourse. But the 
substitution of incur for turn is arbitrary, v.^''- " (which he omits) 
is a natural introduction to the denunciatory discourse, and the 
omission of the subject {dullards) in v.^^* is, from the parallelism, 
improbable. S makes v.^ conditional : if ye turn . . . I will, 
etc. ; but this construction only introduces confusion, since v.^^- 
assume that they have not turned. 

24-33. The denimciation, consisting of a direct address (v.^*-^), 
a description, in 3 pers., of the fate of the recusant (v.^*^^), and 
a statement of the contrasted positions of the ignorant and the 
wise (v.^^^). 

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.^*- ^- ^ are couplets, v.^ is a 
triplet in the Heb. ; the Grk. converts v?' into a quatrain (or two 
couplets) by adding at the end when destruction comes upon you. 
Bickell, by omissions, substitutions, and transpositions, makes out 
of v.^- ^ a quatrain : / also will laugh in {the day of) your calamity, 
when distress and anguish come upon you, I will mock when your 
fear comes as a storm and your desolation comes as a whirlwind. 
N^ in the Heb. is expansion of the predicates of v.^, 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.*, calamity and disaster, are given in v.^*- '', and v.^'' appears 
to be an afterthought (a scribal insertion), it is better to omit this 
last. — The verbs in v.^ ^ 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.^ is primarily go freely about and let go free, 
then neglect, avoid, ignore; the sense of "allowing full play or 
license " is found in Ex. 5* 32^ Pr. 29^^ that of " neglecting, avoid- 
ing," in 4'^ 8^ 13^* 15^^ — Laugh at (instead of laugh in, etc.), 
v.^, is possible (Gen. 39"), but does not agree so well with the 
designation of time in the following clause. Mock is stronger than 
laugh, expressing bitterness or exulting derision. The / in my 


turn (RV. I also) brings out the contrast of persons : "You have 
had your turn, and I shall have mine." Disaster is \\i. 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 (>/' 31*^^' 1 18^). Befall 
is lit. come upon. Y.^" is probably not original ; see note above. 

— The address is minatory. The offence (v.^*^) 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.^^ ^) 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, thoge who neglect 
Wisdom will naturally iind thernselves defenceless in the evil day 
which Wisdom aloiie 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, 

1. 24-31 2^ 

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 world, and is identical with God's moral law. 
— 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^^)* ; 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__content.s himselfjvith 
dividing men intO-imLxl asses — those who hee d and those who 
reject w isdom. 

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.-*-^^), 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.^"' 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.-*'-^, and v.^-^ to v.^*-^; the conclusion is repeated 
in vP-. The rendering seek early (AV.) or seek diligetitly (RV.) 
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 Masoretic Hebrew text ; see note on that verse below. 


'gently ; * but this derivation is improbable in the face of 7^ 1 1^, 
Job 7^^ — the verb means simply seek, here parallel to ^all. The 
terms hated, chose not, would none, despised {yp- **) are synonyms, 
expressing indifference or hostility to the instructions of Wisdom. 
In v.*'-'^ the coutisel (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.^ 
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 O T. only twice, 
Hos. V 6^ kfiowledge of the Most High once, Nu. 24^^), it is per- 
haps better to retain the general term knowledge, which in v.^ is 
iidentified 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.^. 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?^, 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.**). 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. 15^^ i8^-^), 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 q( AV. has 
nothing to (Jo wilb the time of life. 

1. 28-33 29 

lost ; * the cry of the sinner in v.^ is for deHverance from physi- 
cal evil. 

32, 33. The general rule. — Both couplets are synonymous, 
ternary. — 32. Indifference (naira) = averseness, apostasy, recu- 
sance, refusal, is the " turning away " from instruction and conse- 
quently from right living. Careless ease (mblT) is primarily quiet, 
freedom from care and anxiety (as in 17^), here, in bad sense, 
repose gained by ignoring or neglecting the serious responsibilities 
of Ufe (nearly = neglige 7ic e) . 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 3^ 
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.^^). — 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 God. 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. evil) is visible "misfortune" or "mischief" 
(3^*' 6"-'* 13^^ 16* 17^ 22^ al.). 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. 

20. The form piDDn, found elsewhere only 9I 2^ (and by emend. 14^) 
yj/ 493(<), is prob. not abstr. sing, for ncsn (01s., Ew., De.), but plu. of exten- 

* This is the doctrine of J. A. Alexander's hymn, beginning: "There is a time, 
we know not when" (AVw York Church Praise-Book. 1881), or: "There is a line, 
by us unseen " (Congregational Hymn-Book, 1858), but it is not found here or else- 
where in the Bible. 


sion and intensity (Bott., Now., Siegf., Strack in Cotnm., Barth) ; its predicates 
are sing. exc. in 24^* — r\\-^:^^, 3 sing. fern. Qal energic (or possibly Q. plu. of 
jn) ; it is unnecessary to point nn.-i (as in Job 39-3) ; Heid.'s emendation 
7\-^-\ r-i-inj, adopted by Oort, is simple, and secures parallelism in the nouns, 
but loses it in the verbs. <5 vfivdTai (Lag. = hjt^) is perh. Mid., prob. error 
for xjixvd; a Pass, is inappropriate and improbable. — 21. J§ nvch; @ reix^wv 
= main; so 2C xm^a iAe iower (or casile or palace). The Partcp. m never 
occurs alone, but always as predicate (7II 91^ 20' Isa. 22'^ Jer. 4'^ Ez. 7I6), 
and it is doubtful whether it can here be taken as subst.; the reading □•'c'lo 
(8-) is graphically not too hard, or, after ®, we may read rr.n. — |^ an;-.;'; 
(@ SwaffrQiv = oni- (here inappropriate) to which wapedpe^jei is added, appar- 
ently to fill out the clause. Jag. thinks ^wi . . . irapeSpeOei add. from 8^. — 
Bickell omits an;-;- and icn.-i (both of which, however, are called for by the 
connection), and for •^^';2 writes a-;v. We should rather omit ■\^-;z and n>-icN 
as glosses. The Vrss. (exc. (5) follow ^ with unimportant variations, and 
the glosses must have been early. — 22. \-i2 -\-; {<§ 6<tov cLv xp^fov) is always 
interrog. in OT. — On c;pd see note on v.* above; the final letter of the stem 
is omitted because not pronounced — nnxn Qal = lans- ; (g exi^vrai, perh. 
free rendering, perh. (Lag.) scribal error for ^pw^rot. — Instead of Perf. ncn 
we expect Impf. — O a.a-ej3€'is yevd/xevoL, perh. (Lag.) = c^'?-Dj d.-imS (read 
Dnr.-i:i) instead of J^ -ji en'-. — 23. |^ nu-r; (5 /cat VTrevevvoi iy^vovro pos- 
sibly = i3in'' (Lag., Held., cf. AdolA, i, 11) or (Bi.) = icir-x^i. But as ain is 
prob. a loan-word from the Aram., found only Dan. i" (Ez. 18^ the noun is 
corruption, probably of 3iU'), its occurrence here is doubtful. If the line (v.^Sa) 
be retained, the Im.pf. (which cannot have Impv. force) must be changed to 
Impv. mr (the n perh. repeated from preceding n;n); so also Dyserinck. — 
j?33 gus/i, iS'*; elsewhere only Hif. = speak, exc. in Eccl. 10', where the text 
is doubtful. — "^ 'nn; (§ f/x^s ■nvorj% prjffiv, paraphrastic, perh. (Lag.) to avoid 
the expression ■n-voT)v irpoLecrdai = die; the verb has the sense of u/Ur. — The 
change of pers. in the verbs in v.^-- -^ is a common rhetorical usage in OT. — 
24. 1^ r", omitted by Bi., apparently for the sake of the rhythm, is desirable, 
if not necessary, as introduction to v.'^*^. — ^ uscm; (5 Kal oi/x vTrrjKova-are, 
free rendering of |^, or from some form of I'^'i' or nj;- (hardly from z^cpn, as 
in 2-) ; SiJr ?ror:ii n"-, from iraxn n*?. (@5E render 3^i;'pn by a verb 2 plu., 
assimilation of the translator. — 25. ^~r\3t~\ noun as obj. of n^N only here, 
elsewhere (as v.^') with pref. ^, and so perh. to be written here (Oort). The 
two nouns in this v. are plu. in (SS, the second in IL, variations coming from 
script, defect. — 26. (5 prefixes roiyapovv as natural connective. — |^ t'n; 
@ d7rwXe/(?, as Job 2r' 30''^; Ileid., = las. — 1§ -ino; (5 6\e6pos, perh. = i^a 
(Gr.), which, however, is nowhere else so rendered (24'^-' Job 30'-* 31'-^). — 
27. K. "'>>;"", Q. HN'U', both from rttty; (3 freely &4>vu, and so S, Rashi, and 
apparently ST. — ?§ nnD and -cn; <3 dbpv^os and KaTaarpocpT), rhetorical varia- 

* On - '-'- -, Eccl. ii' 2I2 al.. cf. Barth, N£., J 259 c, Comms. of Tyler and Palm, 
and Strack in Stud. u. Krit., 1896, IV. 

II. 31 

tions from the renderings in v.^^. — 5 attaches v.^''* to v>, ana «S adds a fourth 
line (Jag, Lag.) in v.-"; these changes show that the old translators found 
difficulties in the rhythm. — Bi. takes v.-^- ^ in the following order : ^^- ^^■ 
26b. 270^ tranferring ns'-^'j to v.^', throwing out a^in-a nj3 in v.-^ as scribal 
repetition, and writing a^""!;' instead of s^'i'n. The rhythm thus gained is 
hardly better than that of |^, except in that it gets rid of the triplet. It would 
be simpler, if the triplet is judged insupportable, to regard v.^^' as a gloss, the 
addition of a familiar expression (see note on this line above) ; cf. the similar 
expression in the triplet of f n6^, in contrast with the couplets of \p i8*-^. — 
28. (3 wrongly puts v.-^ as direct address. — The verb -\r\v occurs, outside of 
Job, Pss., Pr., only in Hos. 5'* Isa. 26'; it here mane consurgeni (and similarly 
elsewhere in Pr., exc. 71^). Denominatives of the caus. stem (rarely of the 
simple stem) are frequent in Arab, and Heb. (so zyi'^) 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. On 
the old ending j of the verb in ■'jmn-^i see Bottcher, Lehrb., II. § 930, 1047 f , 
and Toy, in l^ans. Amer. Phil. Assoc, Yol. XI. 1880. — After C'' (§ adds 
KUKoi as subject, unnecessary general interpretative gloss, not (Lag.) addition 
of a Christian scribe to avoid contradiction of Mt. 7"-^. — 29. |§ .""i; <3^ (xo- 
<f)iav, for which we should expect ala-dr]ai.v, yet ff. is not necessarily Christian 
(Lag.) or Alexandrian (Held.); (3^ vaiSiav, IL disciplinam (= -"DiD v.^). — 
J^ rx-\^; (S'^ X670J', perh. interpretation of an Alex, scribe. — 30. <5 has the 
two nouns in plu. {script, defect^. — 31. |^ ~'i';'.; (@ freely dtre^eias; 'D is 
used in OT. in bad sense, exc. Pr. 22^'. — 32. njiu'::, always in bad sense in 
OT. — (5 dv6' <ivya.p tiSIkovv vrjirlovs, taking '" as trans. = /urn aside, oppress, 
hardly = retribution (Jag. because of retribution for \_their treatment of^ 
children they shall be slain), or from nairo (Schleusn.) assailing, or (Lag.) 
rv:'3a injustice. — J^ ■^t^z'; @ e^erao-^uis = p'^x.r or r*?;' (so S>^) SC ^p'O 
error, free rendering of |§. — |^ ny-i -inDC; <5 ^, d06|3a;s d7r6 iravTb^ KaKoO, 
where tt. is insertion for sake of definiteness. Cf Clem. Alex., 162, 181. — In 
|§ r^^'C' and jisu' there seems to be a verbal play. — n32 is adverbial. — n>'-, 
inD may mean disaster of harm, but 's, = disaster, is not elsewhere defined by 
a noun of source. 

n. A discourse setting forth the blessings conferred by Wis- 
dom, the sage (and not Wisdom herself) being the speaker. It 
consists of one well-sustained sentence (Ew.), 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.^^), comes the long apodosis (v.^^), giving 
a double result : first, the knowledge of God and its attendant 
blessing (v.^, apparently an insertion or a parenthesis) ; second 


(v.*"^), the comprehension of probity (v.®-^), and the possession 
of wisdom as guide (v.^""), which will deliver from evil men 
^y 12-15^ and evil women (v.^^^^), and so lead to the reward of the 
upright (v.^^), in contrast with the fate of the wicked (v.^). 

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. Mifid, lit. heart, is (as always in OT.) the whole inward 
nature, here particularly intellectual capacity, attention (so that thy 
/id-czr/ substantially = /"/r^'i".?^). 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 ?ny conwiandment and hide it with 
thee, thi?ie ear shall hearken to wisdom, and thou shall 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.'"^. — 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 defi- 
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 
{77iy words), appealing neither to a divine revelation to himself, 

n- 1-4 33 

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.^ are identified with wisdotn. — 2. Synony- 
mous, ternary. Epexegetical equivalent of \}, put in Heb. as 
purpose (/« oi'der that thou mayst incline), or, as we more nat- 
urally conceive it, as result {so that). — Mind {Wt. 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 _>'^d! (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 tmderstand- 
ing mother. Invoke, lit. lift up the 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^ (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 {dimag) for brain; 
the origin of this word is uncertain ; the adj. damlg means stupid. 


n. 1. iDN (poetic word) always in plu. in Pr., -\3"t being used for sing., 
11^^ al. — 2. As to the force of "• and Inf. here cf. Ew., § 280 a',- (5 viraKoixre- 
rai (Tocpias t6 ols (rov; |L ui audiat sapientiam auris tua, perh. free transla- 
tion, perh. taking ^JrN as subject, as in Isa. 32' (Qal Impf.), in which case, 
though Inf. is possible, we should expect Qal Impf., since jrN never occurs as 
subj. with Hif. (apparently not in V 10^') ; .SST render by the Impf. in con- 
tinuation of the construction of v.^, perh. = i-v?t\ a good reading, yet it is 
doubtful whether (@S® had a text different from that of !§. — The Impf. nan 
continues the telic or ecbatic sense of the preceding construction; a i before 
it is appropriate but not necessary. ©SiC render it by a Fut., IL by an Impv. 
@ begins the apod, with v.^. — v.-'' is given by @ in double form, first = |§, 
and then an improbable variation (regarded as genuine by Jag., Lag.) in which 
■in^ is read instead of "la^, but the introduction of son is pointless, doubtless 
scribal error. — 3. ^3 cannot here = for ((@1L), nor can ex '^ = hut (Hitz.), 
with supposition of a preceding neg. clause. ^ omits '3 and inserts 1 before 
ON; S has simply niiT', perh. free rendering of j^. There is no good 
ground in ancient authorities for omitting t, and it must be taken ( = _yfa') 
as emphatic introduction of the new conditional clause. — 1§ cs; 2C 2n, and 
so De'R. 874 (379) in Bibl. Erfurt. I.; see Berakoth $7 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 ST comes from an old midrash (Norzi), and 
the omission of ^d is a consequence of free citation. — |^ ^r2; (5 co<f>lav 
(instead of (f)p6vTj<Tis) , which Heid. takes to be Alexandrian Jewish, and Lag. 
Christian. — Some MSS. of (g (B^bmg. inf. ^ ^up ras C^) and edd. (Comp. Aid. 
and S^ obel.) add at end of v.^ ttjv 8^ atadyjinv tV'V'^V^ fxeydXri ry (pcovy, 
which Jager considers to be the true (§ text of'', =: '^ij "^pi U'p^n nji3?'^T, in 
favor of this is its divergence from |^. Against its being the true text of Pr. 
is perh. the parallelism and the occurrence of j-13 in the next verse. — Gr. 
suggests, with little probability, that 3^ may be dittogram of 2^. 

5-8. The consequence of the condition expressed in v.i^. If 

wisdom be embraced, then the man will understand the fear of 
Yahweh (v.^), for Yahvveh is the source of wisdom (v.^), and the 
protector of the upright (v.'-*). Apparently an editorial insertion. 
The proper apodosis to v.^"^ is v.^**"- : if thou seek wisdom, then 
(v.^") wisdom will come to thee. V.^ introduce a new thought, and 
were probably added by an editor who thought that the central 
idea of these discourses, the /ear of Yahweh, ought not to be 
lacking here. See further in notes below. 

5. Then shalt 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; 

n. 5-6 35 

7. He lays up deliverance for the upright, 

Is a shield to those who walk in integrity; 

8. He guards the paths of probity, 
And protects the way of the pious. 

5. The fear of Yahweh. Synonymous, ternary. The divine 
name God {Elohim) occurs elsewhere in Pr. four times, 2^^ 3* 25^ 
30' ; the expression knowledge of God in OT. only here and Hos. 
4^ 6® (Nu. 24^® knowledge of the Most High). In the preexilian 
literature Elohim is used as proper name only in the Elohistic 
narrative (Am. 4" Hos. 12^^^' 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^). 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 shall (which implies determination on the part of the 
speaker, or else is hypothetical) we may write 7vilt (which ex- 
presses futurity simply) . Cf. 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.^"^. 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 fro7}i 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 \\j%, 105^ 119^-** 138^ — 7, 8. Synonymous, ternary. 
Yahweh protects the upright. The word rendered deliverance 
occurs, except Isa. 28^ and (the textually doubtful) Mic. 6^ 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. 20'^ i K. 9* i/' loi^ 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 pecuhar 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* 
5^ 28^ Dt. 33^ i/' 119^ al. ; in the latter sense by the person or 
concrete thing to be defended, as in 2'^ 4'' Isa. 26^ al. (once, 22^^, 
by knowledge), or by the thing to be watched, as in Job 7^. 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 vP, not guarded, 
though the way of a man is said to be scrutinized (Job 13^') or 
controlled (0 139^) by God. As the text stands, /^M^ of probity 
must be regarded as a poetical variation oi paths of the upright 
(cf. v.^°), equivalent to the parallel way of the pious (Heb. his 
pious ones, RV. saints). On probity see note i^. — The pious 
man (T'DH) is he who is characterized by kindness, love ("^on). 
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. 
24I2) or by God (Ex. 34®, often in Pss.), whether of man's acts 
toward God (Hos. 6^- e gg^^ 2 Chr. 32^2 3526 Neh. 13I*) is doubt- 
ful. The adj. is used twice of God (Jer. 3I2 ^ 1 825(26) = 2 gam. 
2226), niany 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 i8^'-®', with the 
kind (merciful, good) thou wilt shoiv thyself kind. The adj. 
occurs first in the second half of the seventh century (Mic. 7^ Dt. 
33* Jer. 3^-), and elsewhere only in late poetry (i Sam. 2^ 2 Chr. 
6*^ Pr. 2' 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 Epiphanes 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. 2^^ 'Ao-tSaiot, 
Hasidean or Asidean).* In some Pss. (79- 86^ 116'^ al.) it means 
pious Israel in contrast with surrounding heathen oppressors or 

*Cf. Wellhausen, Die Pharisaer u. d. Saducaer ; Schurer, Hist, of the Jew. 
People, II. ii. 26. 


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

8. ©BN A o-i/j-^o-ets 06j3o»', for which Clem. Al., 121, has voTfia-en 6eo(r^^eiav. 
In v.'^'' (@B = l§; CI. Alex. k. at<r67]aiu 6eiav eup^ireis (and so Orig.), free ren- 
dering, probably original (Lag.). — 6. |§ visr; (S^ awb wpoffwirov avroO = 
VJ3C, apparently scribal error. — 7. K [£3X1, Q (and some MSS.), better, jox' 
(E, custodief), since the couplets appear to be independent statements; 
6 K. erjaavpl^ei, = |^ Kethib (not = lai-), as in i^^. _^ n^Li'ir; @ (MSS.) 
auTrjpiav, 3L salutetn, CI. Al. ^orjdeiap, K in MS. (cited by Levy, Chald. 
Wbch.) ivni, in Bibl. Rab., 1568, '"n?D /4fi^, in Buxt., Lag. -\^r\2t glory. — 

|§ 71::, rendered by vb. or partcp. in the Vrss. : © inrepaa-Triet, IL fi proleget, 
S® rp-i; ?^ is curt poetic construction, instead of the ordinary Ntn t; we 
expect a verb = p9-oleci (but the stem does not occur in OT. in this sense) or 
a noun = protection as object of pi"' (but no such noun suggests itself); 'a 
cannot be object of "' — 1§ Dn ■'dSh'^; @ rir\v iropdav avrCiv = zro'''iT\b (Vog., 
Schleusn.), as in i/' 67 (68)^^ — 8. f^ "ix:*^, equivalent proposition represented 
as purpose or result; S has 1 and Perf., and we may here read Impf. ; Gr. 
ix:'', but this does not accord with ''. — J§ a3'.rD is given in all the Vrss., except 
that (5 (except Cod. 23) has plu. — K. iDn sing.; Q and many Heb. MSS. 
and all Vrss. have plu., as the context requires; ST omits the suffix. — Oort, to 
secure perfect parallelism, reads : nDtt'^ non iiii and {that they may) pre- 
serve the way of piety tojvard him (or, the way of his kindness); but this is 
not in keeping with the general idea in v.^ in which Yahweh is subject, and 
iiDn ^\-\^^ is hard; it would be easier to change Oflw'S to DiU" or cp^x (cf. v'^"). 

9-22. The proper conclusion to the condition stated in v.i-* : 
first, the comprehension of righteousness (v.^^), then the guid- 
ance and protection of Wisdom (v.^""^^), with the reward of 
goodness and the punishment of wickedness (v.^^ ^^). — V.^*^ should 
probably be transposed so as to stand next after v.^ In its present 
position it interrupts the connection between y}^ and v.^', while 
by its thought it attaches itself naturally to v.". 

9, 20. Comprehension of rectitude. 

9. Then shalt thou understand righteousness and probity, 
i 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 

II. 9. 2o 39 

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^) 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 tvays in 8^'. On the nouns in first 
line see notes on i^. — Path (2^^-'^ j\^^-'^ 5^ ^^ i/f 23^) is lit. wagon- 
road, then any way ; the following ^^1?^ 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.^"^ : " if thou earnestly 
seek wisdom, thou shalt be morally enlightened, shalt 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 shalt 
see note on v.^ above. — 20. Synonymous, ternary. The purpose 
that thou mayest walk involves result. The verse thus expands 
the second line of v.^. — At the end of first line the Heb. has 
simply the word good (plural) ; the parallelism favors the render- 
ing good men {no\. 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 i^). The epithet 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 the different periods 
of Heb. history. 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 victory, as in 
Ju. 5'^ I S. 12^ Jer. 51^°. The purely ethical conception grew 
with the general ethical growth of the people ; and in the pro- 
phetical and later books (see, for ex., Ez. 18) tends to become 
predominant, though the primitive idea lingers in places. In Pr. 
righteous ~ morally and religiously good in general ; the word 
(like good and pef/ect) expresses not absolute sinlessness, but gen- 
eral rectitude. In late exilian and postexilian writings it is often 

* So Plato and the Stoics. 


a synonym for the faithful part of Israel (Isa. 53" 26^ i}/ 31^*'") 94^' 
a/.). — The Grk. reads the verse as a conditional sentence, and 
connects it immediately with v.'® : /or 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.^°) and keeping watch over it (v."), saves 
the man from the influence of bad men (v.^^-^^) and bad women 


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 — 

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

17. Who forsakes the friend of her youth, 
And forgets the covenant of God. 

18. 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^ — On mind (lit. heart) see note on 
v.^ 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. lo-ii 41 

sions in OT. for me (or, myself), thee (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 mind, 
express any intellectual power. — 11. Synonymous, ternary-binary. 
On discretion (or, insight) a.ud discernment (or, intelligence) see 
notes on i'' 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.^') ; 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. 31^ Ez. 36^). — The Grk. 
takes v.*" as condition, and v." as its result : 10. for if wisdom 
enter . . . and knowledge seem beautiful ... 11. 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." are identical in meaning with 
those in v.^" (such repetition would not be against the manner of 
Pr.), but because, as v.^-^ state the result of the condition of v.^"^, 
we more naturally expect in v.^° 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 v.^"- " as 
parentheses ; v.^^ is logically connected with v." (see below) . — 
Bickell, in order to gain an additional couplet (an omission being 
indicated, as he thinks, by a discrepancy of gender in the Heb.) 
expands v.^** as follows : for wisdotn shall e7iter itito thy mind and 
knowledge unto thy soul \jhall come, instruction shall be good to 
thy mind, and learning to fhy 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.^. 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, jnan (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 {7?ian or f?iefi) 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. 41^^), of appearance or deportment (Ex. 21*), 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 (31D) ; it is here the morally 
bad. Cf note on the subst. evil, i^. — A wrong thing (mSEnn) 
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 BN. frozvard (which = refractory, perverse, ob- 
stinate) ; it may sometimes be properly rendered hy false, but in 
Pr. it is a general term, signifying that which is opposed to the 
right (= wicked, bad) ; it occurs in Dt. 32^ {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 

II. II-I4 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 (Dt. 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, Eccl. 1 2^°. 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^^^^ rather than 
the result (as in 4^^) ; 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« lA 27I Pr. 41* 6^3 13" 16^^ Isa. 58'" r\i iS^^'^^^ Eccl. 
2" Pr. 20^), 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. iniqtiities 
of evil) is the same word in the Heb. that is rendered wrong 
things in v.^^ ; 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 evil (or, wickedness). — The rejoice 
and delight are a heightening of \he 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 

* On the terms Epicureans and M'mim (Talmudic designations of heretics) see 
Buxtorf, Lex., and Cheyne's Cyclop. Biblica, Art. "Canon." 


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"'^^ 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-', 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 {ihey) iniquitous i?i their zvays (so substantially AV.). Slight 
changes in the text give the renderings who are crooked iti their 
paths and iniquitous ifi 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." ; they occur in OT. in the 
ethical sense only. Crooked (JCpu) is that which departs from 
the right way (allied to false) ; outside of Pr. the adj. occurs in 
Dt. 32* xl; i8-«'2'> (= 2 S. 22^^) loi^ the vb. in Mic. 3^ Isa. 59^ Job 
9^. Ifiiquitous also (Tib'D, found, outside of Pr., only in Isa. 30'^) 
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. 11^ (Jephthah's 
mother) i K. 3^^ (the two women who appeared before Solomon) 

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

II. i4-i6 45 

Hos. 3^ (Hosea's wife), by the prophetic denunciations of the 
crime (Hos. 4^ Jer. 7' Mai, 3*), by the laws against it (Ex. 20^^ 
Dt. 22 Lev. 20'°), and by the employment of the terms harlotry 
and adultery (in Pent. Judg. Chr. Ps. Hos. Mic. Jer. Ez.) 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 {Anf. 12, 
4, 6) of Joseph the son of Tobias. The picture of society given 
in Ben-Sira (9^^ 19=^ 23^^26 251^26 25^12 42^-"), based on hfe in 
Jerusalem and Alexandria in the third and second centuries B.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.") 
s/i£ will save. The terms lewd woman and harlot are both lit. 
strange woman (or, stranger). With her cajoling words, 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 (m) see i K. 3^* Dt. 25' Nu. i^^; Ex. 30^3 Lev. 
22"; Pr. 6^ 11^^ 14^° 27- (this third sense is found only in Pr.). 
For the second term (nsj) see Gen. 31^^ Job 19^^ ij/ 69*'^' Eccl. 6^; 
Dt. i^'^ I K. ii^j Pr. 27^ 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^^^*, and the contrast expressed in 5^^-^, make it almost certain 
that the writer has in mind dissolute women without regard to 
nationality, and that the strange ivoman 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'^-^; 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.^^ ^^ not with v.", but with v.^^, taking them as 
the description of the influence of bad men, and following a Heb. 
text very different from ours : \6. To remove thee far from the right 
way and estrange thee from righteous opifiion. My son, let not 
evil counsel take possession of thee, 17. which forsakes the teaching 
of youth and fotgets the divine cove?iant. This is a bit of rabbin- 
ical or Alexandrian allegorizing, while in 7^ the Heb. is hterally 
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 {^'A) see 16^ 17^ Mic. f Jer. 3* 
^ 55^3(14) ^ ^.j^g 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, thou art the friend of my 
youth, that is, " the husband of my youth (cf. Hos. 2^- *^<^- ^^^ Ez. 
16^) whom I have forsaken for others" ; but while the infidelity 

* Cf. Buxtorf, Lex., s. v. >Dnx, for the use of Aramaean woman as = foreign 
woman and harlot. On the OT. sense of strange woman see Kuenen, Einl., iii. 
f 97 ; Wildeboer, Litt. des A T., § 23, Anm. 7 ; Bertholet, Die Stellung der Isr. und 
j^udett 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 

II. i6-i9 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 (Ex. 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 Grk.) is better. 
— Tlie 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. MaK 2"). 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 vi'ife (Gen. 24*^' 29-^ i Sam. 25*° Dt. 21^-), purchase- 
money {niohar) 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^°-^^) ; a feast was some- 
times held (Ju. 14^° Tob. 8'^), and the bride was led to the hus- 
band's home in procession (i/' 45i-'i5{i5.i6) ^f. Mt. 25"**).* A trace 
of a religious ceremony appears in Tob. 7^"- ^'"- ^^', 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"(i'") ; 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.f — 18, 19. Synony- 

* On the view that Canticles is a wedding-poem, consisting of the songs sang 
by bride, bridegroom, and companions in the marriage-festival, see Wetzstein, 
in De.'s Comm'y on Canticles; K. Budde, in the New World, March, 1894, and in 
his Comm'y on Cant., in Marti's Hand-Commentar ; C. Siegfried, Hoheslied, in 
Nowack's Handkommentar. 

t See the Talm. treatises, Ketub. and Kiddush., J. F. Schroder, Satzungen u. 
Gebrauche d. talm.-rab. Judenthums, and I. Abrahams, Jewish Life in the Middle 
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.^^ 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 30-''), 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 (17'", used in Job 21'* 
of descent to Sheol), a sense which is perhaps favored by the 
similar expression in 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 q''^'"' Pr. 
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* 
^^17(18)^ . \QXig life is the reward of the good (3'*), but the days of 
the wicked shall be cut short (10^). 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 14''^ 26*-® is there a suggestion that the power of the God 
of heaven may extend to the Underworld). Death is the physical 

II. 1 8-1 9 49 

event which transfers men from the sphere of activity to that of 
inactivity, where there is no relation between man and God (Isa. 
^318. 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 Hfe 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. 14^), sometimes as not con- 
tinuing (Job 3'^'^ 1// 88^^"*). The rephaim are without mundane 
power or significance (Isa. 14"*), and the pious among them 
cannot praise God (Isa. 38'* xjj 88'"*"*). Yet they were popularly 
thought of as being gods, or as possessing supernatural powers 
(i Sam. 28'^ Isa. 8^^, 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. t — |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 14^2 Eccl. 9^ Ben-Sira 17^)./ 

9. ||J a^-^c^'p (l' D'lrr) is rendered as noun (S^ in siat. constr. and so 
Gr.) by all Vrss. except perh. ®, whose KaropOd^creis may be noun = 'D (so 
Lag. Baumg.), or verb = i^ou shalt establish ; the noun-form occurs elsewhere 
only once, ^p 96^ (Heb. gy''^), and then sing. = \^ZlZ ; between noun and verb 
it is hard to decide. The text of |§ presents a serious rhythmical difficulty 

* Whether the term has any etymological connection with the gentilic name 
Rephaim (Dt. 2" al.) is uncertain. Cf. Schwally, in ZAT., 1898, i. pp. 132 ff. 

t In the obscure passage Isa. 2619 it is doubtful whether the reference is to a 
national resuscitation (as in Ez. 37) or to some sort of appearance of the rephaim 
on the earth. 


(in i3b, in which the same three nouns occur, the rhythm is good). The diffi- 
culty may be removed by writing -\r:-yr, from which OTi'C might come without 
difficulty, especially if the scribe had i' in mind. Gr. '^'in tDorc. — 10. ?§ io; 
© idiv yap = as ^u. — |^ -\2'^; (gs ^-^^ didvoiav, (5^ A g.^^ Stdvoioi'. — pj ajjy; 
@ koXt? elmt S6^j7. — The masc. vb. a>'r with fern, subj. nyn is poetic license, 
as in S^^ 14*^ 29-^ (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^'^ 
f 139^ Dan. 12*, 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. |§ norc; (S (foil, by S) 
§ov\7] Ka\T], to indicate that 'o is here used in good sense. Similarly for 
^ ."iU3n (3 (and so &) has evfoia oaia. — On the suff. in nj-ixjn see Ew., 
§ 250 a, 01s., § 97 a; the n;_ is for no:-, in which n is vowel-letter, and j the 
verb-ending (survival of the Energic form). — 12. |§ I'^'sn^; (g iVa pva-qral 
ae, apparently = ^; Si NSB.nm, ® 'n "n, 3L ui eruaris, perh. Impf. instead of 
S and Inf., perh. free rendering of J^; Bi. writes -\^-i-^ on the ground that this 
paragraph is not a consequence but an explanation; on this point see notes 
on V.2. >n better taken as subst. defining iti; the Vrss. render it by adj. 
Gr. jjnc? — ni3snr; (gB«ACai. ^,^5^^ Triarbv (and so S^ marg.); H-P 23 
(=Cod. Venet'. San Marco, V) diajTpaixfjiii>a (and so S") = |§. — 13. (& 
begins the v. with w, apparently reading vxn, a particle which does not occur 
elsewhere in Pr., and would not be appropriate here. On the vocalization of 
the art. (n) see Miklol, 53 b, and on the accentuation see Bar-Delitzsch, note 
on this verse. — In 2 cl. instead of ^ and Inf. (p^*^"") S^TIL have 1 and vb. or 
partcp. and walk, free rendering which gives the sense of ||J correctly, substi- 
tution of the coordinate for the subordinate construction. Bi. here retains |^. 
— 14. H-P 23, 68 al. prefix w. — ?§ >.'t Pii';'*^; © eivX KaKois. — 1§ P22nr, 
written defect, in some MSS., taken as sing, in (3SK ^X- — The second ;-i, 
supported by all Vrss., is somewhat hard. Gr. regards it as dittogram, but the 
rhythm calls for a word here; Dys. emends to y^, but i/ie iniquides 0/ another 
is hardly possible. Failing a satisfactory emendation, |§ may be retained. — 
15. The text of J^ may be rendered who are crooked as to their paths a7id per- 
verse in their ways, or a 3 may be prefixed to an^nmN, or the 1 omitted (so 
Oort) before □n'^jyc; but the order crpy '■(« (or 'hnj) is not quite satisfac- 
tory (cf. lo^ 19I 286 '8). Dys, (followed by Kamp.) writes a^t;'pya (as in lo^), 
a phonetically easy emendation, the c 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 AG), which apparently did 
not have 1 before 'yn, whose paths are crooked and their ivays iniquitous ; the 
order in that case hardly makes a difficulty. — Field suggests that % et infames 
gressus eorum may have been influenced by A /cat Qpv\o\i<Ti.v; cf. Job 17^ 
where (5 dpvXTj/xa (or dpiiWi^fxa) = |Q "-CD by-ivord. — 16. (!l has a text wholly 
different from that of Jlj : toO /j.aKpdv ere Troi^crai d7r6 68ov eiideias Kal dW6- 
Tptov T^j SiKaias yuwfjL-qs — a consequence attached to v.'* instead of a new 

II. 9-19 51 

paragraph. This is not a scribal heterogram of the particular words of |§, 
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 vli ix-f) 
ae KaTaXd^y Ka/crj ^ouXt? (cf. BS 7^). The connection favors the personal 
picture of J^; 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. — S> writes Impf. at the beginning (and so Bi.), inserts NPCjn as 
subj., omits mt (for the sake of brevity), and for ||J npiSnn has nddhc, possi- 
bly = nrjiSnn (Baumg.), though this is generally rendered by iSns (Pink.). 
Bi. omits rm;;s on rhythmical grounds, but this seems hardly necessary. — 
17. 1^ 117^'; ® SioatrKaXLav ((3^' uddr^a-Lv), probably in accordance with its 
allegorical conception of the passage (cf. Aram. isSiws), and so 2I;Bux. 2 ; 
& Nj-313 rearer, educator, A TjyefjLdua, 6 -qyotj/xevov, IL ducem. Though no 
Vrs. renders by friend, this sense is assured in Heb., and is the most appro- 
priate here. The st. — come or bring together, whence Semitic thousand, Heb. 
leader (head of clan or tribe), Heb. Ar. friend, Arab, compose (a book), 
Aram, teach; the origin of the senses ox (N. Sem.) and ship (Ass., Aram.) is 
not clear. —|^ -i-n'^s r>-|j; G Sta^Ty/ciji' ^eiav =: Dvi'^x '3 (and so ST Bi), a 
better reading than that of |^. — 18. p? ^rvc (mil'el) ; (gB'^'- iQero = t\t^V; 
©■^ wpiaev; S) she forgets (r^a = nnsj-, repeated from preceding v.) the 
threshtlds (= ^jri3-) of her house and the way (= ms) of her paths; 2E, 
freely, whose house is in the depth of death ; % inclinata est . . . domus eius. 
1^ r\n-Z', fem., can hardly stand with masc. n^a (if '2 were meant as collective, 
it would probably have a plur. verb); nn-r (st. third n), though it occurs in 
Qal only once, and then not certainly (Isa. 51^^), may be taken as = inclines, 
sinks (Ibn Janah), or we may write T\n-:.' (cf. V' loy^S) ; perh., however, we 
should read rnj. — |^ 3\n-d-i 'r'.s; © iieTo. tCiv yriyevQv (H-P 103 yr]ti'u}v) = 
'-\ m; yny. is rendering of n in 9I8, elsewhere of aiN (Jer. 32-") or mx 'ja 
(xp 492(3)) ; in WS 7I yr^yevovi irpuTOirXdcrTov is Adam. Can yrjtvwv earthy 
be the true reading here and 9IS? cf. 77ji>os, S Job 4^^ = -\-:-;i. <& has the 
doublet irapa t^ q.d7] = '?wy ha (cf. g^^). The meaning of the stem in -\ is not 
certain, possibly = weaJi, powerless (cf. Isa. 14^°) ; but this can hardly be the 
signification of the gentilic -\. — 19. On the ending in p3Vi'i see critical note on 
i28. — for v.''*" (3 has two readings : one, which appears to be the earlier (so 
Lag.) takes ^^y as pass., KaraXafx^dvovTai, and for mms has virb iviavrup 
= nui', or ^n-i'' (cf. i K. 8^^ where ei'. = av), scribal errors, the latter, perh., 
from 32; the other is identical with ^ except that for a^n it puts eiideias ((5^ 
d7o^ds), which maybe a moralizing interpretation after the manner of v.^^ '', or 
perh. (Lag.) a marginal note, or (Baumg.) a familiar term, which has ejected 
the original word. Neither of these readings offers any advantages over that of 
J^. — For |§ ir;" & has \>-^z-\j^t:, rememder, which in the connection yields 
no sense, and is emended by Lag. to p2-\-^o attain. ST omits suff. in n^sa, 
and, by way of interpretation, adds Siiz'2 after p3V^\ 


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.'^, on perfect, 
note on i'^. 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'^ 2 K. 5'') 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. ^•]'^^^- Nu. 36^ 
Ru. 4^ and the genealogies in Chron. and Neh.), infringement on 
which was regarded as a great crime (Mic. 2- Dt. 19^^ 27^^ Pr. 22^^ 
23^°). Israel, and not any other nation, was Yahweh's own pos- 
session and property (Ex. 19^ Dt. 14'^ 26'^ i/^ 135*, cf Tit. 2" 
I Pet. 2^). Thus the expression dwell in the land (</'37^"'^^ cf. 
Mt. 5^) came to be equivalent to enjoy the divine favor and all the 
blessiiigs 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. 

II. 21-22 53 

doubtful, but in OT. it commonly means morally bad. It is also 
a forensic term (the opposite oijust), signifying ^«<? whose case 
in law is bad, wrong, or adjudged to be bad (cf. Ex. 2"') ; the 
Causative of the verb = adjudge one wrong or guilty iti court (17^* 
Ex. 22^'-' 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 (t/'iy^ ^g^*'*"' 75^*^' 119''^ al.). In Pr. 
there is no national limitation ; the wicked are they of all nations 
who disobey the law of right. — The term transgressors o\ 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 ((/' 25^). — The verbs in the verse express violent extirpation 
by any means, by the hand of man or God. The first (m2) 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 (ns:) is once used (Dt. 28"^) 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. ?§ 30rj IT'; (5 Tpi^ovs dyadd^, according to Lag. false reading of 
the abbrev. -yx — 21. The Grk. MSS. exhibit two renderings, with a number 
of verbal variations. The one which appears to be nearer to |tj, writing 
XPVO'Tol and dxaKoi, is found (as doublet) in Compl. Aid. and (with obel. ) 
S", in (5'^(g *<§-< <^- \ H-P 23, 103, 109, 147, 248, 252, 253, 254, a/., a group 
which suggests a combination of the recension of Lucian and some other 
recension; the other, writing evBets and Sctloi., is the text of (§^, and appears 
to show the hand of an Alexandrian revisor (see note on v.'^). — 22. For |Q 
DV-'ii (& has 65ol dire^Qv ((3^ 65ol 8i dff.), as in 1/' 1^" (Jag.), free or careless 
transcription of a Grk. scribe, perh. corruption of 8tc (Heid ). — ||J inr-, Qal 


Impf., must be taken as indef., but the parallelism suggests a Pass., as all 
Vrss. have it (though this may be free rendering) ; we may point as Hof. (so 
Bi.), a form which, however, is not found elsewhere; Gr. im>, Hof. of mj; 
Oort, Frank., Nif. of nDj. — Bi. omits I'isn (as perh. gloss to njDc), which in 
fact does not appear in the similar passages yj/ 379-22.28.88. ygt such determi- 
nations of mo by nouns of place occur elsewhere (Jer. 35^^ Ez. 25" Lev. 17^''), 
and both rhythm and syntax appear to demand a word here, hjdd 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 i^) ; 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 Hfe, 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 (VVS. 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 

I"- 55 

of right in itself. But they probably held that what 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 hfe 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. 

in. Three independent discourses or paragraphs, introduced 
each by the address 'my son,' aU more or less fragmentary. 
The first (v.^-'") consists of exhortations to follow the teacher's 
instruction (v.^"^) and observe kindness and truth (v.^ *), to trust 
in Yahweh and fear him (v.^^), and to honor him with one's 
wealth (v.^ ^"). The second (v."--") sets forth the value of divine 
chastening (v."-^-), the preciousness of Wisdom (v.^''"^*), and her 
function in creation (v."^). The third (v.-'-^) describes the 
safety which comes from discretion (v.^^--^) and from the protec- 
tion of Yahweh (v.-^ ^®), enjoins neighborly kindness (v.^'^^), and 
sets forth the retribution of the upright and the wicked (v;^-"^). 
The third approaches, in parts (v.^'"^), 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. 

First Discourse. V. i-io. 

1. My son, forget not my instruction, 
But keep my commandments in mind; 

2. For length of days and years of life 
And peace will they bestow on thee. 


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

4. So wilt thou find favor and good i 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) i7iy commandinents. Son = " pupil," as in i^ The con- 
tent of the instructioti (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. 18^), 
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. 13^^). 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 thcni on the tablet of thy mind (lit. heart). 

xii. 1-3 57 

2. Single sentence, which may be taken as binary, or as quaternary- 
ternary. The reward. Long life is considered in OT. to be one 
of the chief blessings of man's lot (Ex. 20^^), including, as it does, 
the idea of happiness (so that the first line might be rendered : a 
long and happy life). Sheol offered nothing — the longer one 
lived on earth the greater one's opportunities for work and enjoy- 
ment (Isa. 38^^ 65^).* Peace is originally wholeness, completeness 
of condition. It is used of bodily health (Gen. 29®), of political 
concord (Jud. 4^^), of friendly relation between men {^ 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 thee, lit. add to thee. 

3, 4. An injunction parallel to that of v.^ ^, and apparently 
intended as explanation or definition of it. — 3. Synonymous, ter- 
nary (or, ternary-binary). The verse is perhaps epexegetical of 
V.', a description of the law of wisdom as the maintenance of kind- 
ness and faithfulness. This combination of quahties (or its equiv- 
alent) occurs often in OT. (Gen. 24^^ Ex. 34^ Dt. 7^ xp 25'° Ss'^'"' 
Pr. 14^^ 16'' 20-'' al.) as the expression of perfectly good relations 
between man and man, or between man and God. Kindness 
is friendly good feeling and the conduct appropriate thereto (see 
note on 2"), love of man for man (Esth. 2'') or of man for God 
(Hos. 6^). It is not properly mercy, compassion, clemency, for- 
giveness (for which ideas Heb. has other expressions, Dt. i3'''*^^> 
Ex. 34^ Dan. 9^**'). Yahweh is good and kind to Israel because 
he loves the nation — that is the normal condition of things ; and 

* Cf. Cic. De Sencctute. 

t The OT. shelem (RV. peace-offering) is an offering which completes one's 
duty to God or makes one whole with him by the fulfilment of a vow or by a free 
gift of gratitude for favors received. Arabic Islam ("submission, resignation") is 
the putting one's self in a position of soundness with God by faith, obedience, and 


even when his kindness is brought into connection with the re- 
moval of transgression, as in i/r 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 iruihfulness {\\i 15^) or 
to truth (i K. 10® Dt. i3"''^05 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^) or a seal- 
chain (Gen. 38'*, 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 o?i the tablet of thy 
mind, a form of expression which occurs only here and in 7^ Jer. 
17', but the same idea is found in Dt. 30" Jer. 31*^. The allusion 
is to the tablets of the decalogue, and to the command (Dt. 6*-') 
to write the divine precepts on hands and forehead, doorposts 
and gates (the later phylacteries, etc.)t ; cf. the Arab, expression 
to write a thing with a needle on the inner cor?ier 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. 31^). — 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 7'', 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 (eAeiy/xoo-i'vat) which was later em- 
ployed for alms (BS. 3" Mt. 6^ Lu. 11*' 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. 3I8, cf. Jud. 821 26) 
and lahash (Isa. S^*)) ; apparently also earrings served as amulets (Gen. 35^, cf. 
Hos. 213(15)). How long this practice continued is uncertain. The thummim 
(tuitunim, sometimes improperly identified with Arab, tamima) was not an amulet. 

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

ni- 3-5 59 

The Heb. reads: And thou wilt find [lit. and find "] favor and 
good undetstafiding in the sight of God and man, in which the 
term understanding is unsatisfactory, since ^<?^^ understanding (or, 
intelligence) is not of the nature of recompense, parallel to favor, 
but is rather the cause of the latter (so i^^^ 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.^, and then renders : and devise excellent things in the sight of 
the Lord and of men (so quoted freely in Rom. 12^'' 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 a?id understanding and good. A slight change in 
the Heb. gives name instead of understanding ; the expression 
favor and good name (of. 22^) expresses the recompense required 
by the connection. — Ovi favor see note on i^ To find favor \?, 
to be acceptable, approved, well thought of (Gen. 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^* ''■* 66" \\i 24 al., but is 
more complete and persistent in Pr. than in any other Bibhcal 
book. The good reivard 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.^), 
the result of which will be health (v.^). Exhortation to honor 
him in the use of wealth (v.^), the result of which will be 
abundance of wealth (v.^»). — The preceding paragraph (v.^"^) 
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 Yahweh ; 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^ 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 understandirig 
(insight, wisdom) as on a prop or staff (2 S. i" Mic. 3" 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'"""), but he may avoid sin by his 
own will (1^°) 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^ Isa. 2^' 10. 31 \\i 20"'^' 11 8*-^) ; 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, have intimate acquaintance 
with, that is, know and obey the divine law, recognize its suprem- 
acy and take it as guide. To smooth is to 7nake 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 

III. 5-8 6l 

of V.'"- ^^ -*■ ^ ; it is the old doctrine of the prosperity of the right- 
eous. — At the end of the verse some Grk. MSS. add and thy foot 
shall not stumble, a scribal insertion from v.^^. — 7. Synonymous, 
ternary, or, ternary-quaternary. Repetition of the warning against 
self-confidence. Progressive parallehsm. The holding one's self 
wise is represented as the contrast to or negation of fearing God, 
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 God, 
ordinary human standards of judgment being different from the 
divine standard ; a somewhat different view of conceit of wisdom 
is given in Eccl. 7^^ The fear of Yahweh, which is assumed to 
be the true wisdom (as in i'), is defined as turning away from 
sin (lit. evil). The evil in this case cannot = tnisfortune, escape 
from which would then be the result of fearing God (as in v.^**), 
for the verb means a voluntary avoidance, and expresses moral 
character (as in Job i^ Pr. 16"). The fear of Yahweh, 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. 10^ (Lag.). — 8. Synony- 
mous, ternary-binary. The reward. The first line may be read : 
// (the fearing Yahweh and departing from sin) will be, etc., but it 
is better to take health as subject of the verb ; and theji may be 
inserted (after the Grk.) as giving a better syntactical connection 
with the preceding verses. Instead of body the Heb. has navel, an 
improbable reading, since elsewhere (Ez. i6\ 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 body (so the Grk. 
reads) or the word for flesh. The latter term occurs in 11'' for 
the whole man ; the combination body and bone ( = flesh and 
bone) is found, in this sense, in Gen. 29" 2 Sam. 5' Job 2^ (and cf. 
Job 21^^ 30'^) • Each of these terms is used as = self (designation 
of the spiritual from the physical), as in Neh. (f^ ij/ 16^ 35^° 63^'-*, 
and we may here render : thou wilt have health and refreshment. 
Of these two words the first is properly an abstract noun of action, 
healing (deliverance from disease), and the second, refreshment, is 
that which refreshes (lit. drink, as in Hos. 2' \\i 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.^"; elsewhere in Pr. (as, for example, in i6*) 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 obHgatory (in 7" sacrifice is mentioned as a 
popular observance), and the immediate context favors the more 
general interpretation. The term here rendered the best (riTS"!) 
is so used in Am. 6^ i/f 78^^ 105^ (of persons) i Sam. 2^ Am. 6® (of 
things). See the injunction to give freely in v.^, and compare the 
similar injunction in Ben-Sira 29^ ". 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. 14^-^^) and the annual tithe for the temple- 
ministers (Dt. i8^-^^Nu. 1 8^-^^). 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 
of 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^^*"^), 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. 8-10 63 

a general term for cereals. Must (triTn, which the Vrss. 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 Canaan (Dt. 7^^ 
Neh. 5"). Apparently it was not commonly drunk till it was fer- 
mented ; it is spoken of as exhilarating (Ju. 9^^) and intoxicat- 
ing (Hos. 4"). The reward of honoring Yahweh 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." 

in. 1. @ vo/x^(Lca)v(H-P, 68 al. vbiJUiiv) takes min as plu., possibly (Heid.) 
a Pharisaic reading to include the oral tradition, more probably induced by 
the plu. in **; CI. Alex. Oecrfj-wv, perh. from memory (so the Draconian laws 
were called). — (5 p-^fiard for |§ rno is rhetorical, untechnical rendering, not 
reference to the decalogue. — tjJ is properly preserve, keep safe (and so sub- 
stantially = remember'), though " keeping in mind " may be practically equiva- 
lent to "observing, obeying" (J/ 25''^ 78'). — 3. Jager gets rid of the triplet 
form by attaching * to v.2 (changing '?n to nS), but this clause belongs by its 
content to v.^. It is better to omit •=, which is lacking in (§B oi. (found in 
@A al. 02 Compl., Aid., CI. Al., Proc, S" sub ast. ILSST) ; see note on f. The 
different positions given the clause in Grk. MSS. suggest that it is a gloss 
(Lag.). — (S k\ey\p.o<Tvva<. (for non) \itr& = kindness, mercy, as in Gen. 47^^, 
not alms. — 4. For |^ Impv. nsd Bi. writes nssp, which, however, is unneces- 
sary, the Impv. being not uncommon in prot. and apod, of a conditional 
sentence (6^ 8^^ 9^ a/.). — 1§ "^yc is taken by (5 as Impv., irpovoO, against the 
connection; 5L disciplinam, a meaning which the word will hardly bear; as 
^yv (perhaps occasioned by 131^ i/' iii''^) here affords no satisfactory sense, 
we may emend to zt, which suits the connection, though it is without support 
from MSS. or Vrss. — SC take Dvj as subst , inserting 1 before it, ® following 
the order of |^, % transposing 'v and 'a. This latter fact may seem (Baumg.) 
to indicate that ^ here follows ST, only introducing an error; but elsewhere % 
seems to be dependent on Si, though it sometimes shows a correction after |§. 
— 5. 1^ '^>v (twice) ; read Sj; (so (5 in second occurrence) ; throughout OT. 
we should probably emend ^x after na3 to '^j.'. — |^ ^v^^; ® ^fy- — 6. |§ inv"!; 
® a.vTi\v, scil. (To<piav, against the connection; <5 takes ^ as telle. — T- M ^^^' 
(5 Tbv debv. — 8. In 'nn pindi it is doubtful whether the subject of vh.t is '-\ or 
the statement in v.*^; in the latter case we should expect X''^ after "1, in the 
former case a connecting particle, as in fact (5 introduces the verse with rbre, 
and S with telle 1; a connective seems preferable: so will there be or that 
there may be. nixsT is an Aramaic form. — |^ -\t' ttavel ; <S a-Jinarl, and so 


S)^; S> -^Dz; 1L = ^; HL na^'JiJ (Lag.) or -\'i'm (Buxt.) = ?§ (the word, in 
Syr. niTjiD or T-'Jir, seems to be a compd. of ir, but the force of the first 
element is doubtful). Read -\Z'2, with (§, Cler., Bi. ; or, with Vog., Schl., Ew., 
Hi., Oort, Kamp., "l.^■^:•. — On @ ^7rt/xAeia as rendering of ^^py see Schleusner's 
note; Procop. iinfiiveia stability ; 'A 7roTt(r/x6s, of which Deissmann {Bibel- 
studien, p. 152) finds an example as early as B.C. 240. — 9. (S renders ]'n by 
SiKalcov ■k6v<j)v, a homiletical e.xpression intended to warn against the unjust 
acquisition of wealth; for a similar use of tt. see BS. 14^" 28'^ and for the 
idea Pr. lo^'; labor = wealth Eccl. 2^2 al. @ similarly defines TNOn by 
5i/coto(n;;'77s, and further omits "rr, which term, here unnecessary though not 
out of place, may have been lacking in the Heb. MS. of (§. — 10. ^ y^-^:"; 
@ Tr\r](7fjLovi]s fflrov (so rightly Procop. ; the text has o-fry by scribal error, or, 
if TrX. did not originally stand in the Grk. the Dat. alrii) might have been used 
after the vb. Trl/xTrXriTai); but a marg. note in S'* (which = |^) states that 
the a. 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 <3 presents a conflation 
of two readings, irX. =: >'3U" and (t. — '\2r, 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 n^:* seems to 
be required by the parallelism; for its use see Gen. 42^"^- Am. 8^ Neh. lo^^^ 

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 spurti (lit. loathe^ the nearly 
equivalent be wearied out with, weary of (so RV.), as in Gen. 27*® ; 
The Grk. hd.?, faint 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 Une the Heb. has 
Yahiveh (^Yahweh loves instead of he loves'), which is a scribal 

III. 11-12 65 

insertion {explicitum) for clearness. — The second line reads, 
according to the Masoretic pointing, atid \^ — yea, reproves hit>i\ 
as a father \_reproves~\ the son in whom he delights, or delights in 
him as a father in his son. These renderings, though possible, 
are 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 Grk., and by 
Job 5^^ The paralleHsm naturally suggests (though it does not 
absolutely require) an explicit reference to disciplinary suffering. 
The Grk. has for whom the Lord loves he reproves, and scourges 
every son whom he receives (so quoted in Heb. 12^), in which 
scourges = afflicts. Job 5^''-^^ reads : 

Happy is the man whom God reproves, 

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

For he wounds and binds up, 

He 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 him, so as to secure a better parallelism. 
— Whichever 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 (Eliphaz) and 
^^ (Elihu), 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 Eliphaz and EHhu) 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^"). 
Though hinted by the earliest of the IsraeUtish 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 Ben-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 immortaUty.* 

11. For various unimportant var. lect. of (S in v.^'- ^^ see H-P. ^ "^ii 
should probably be omitted as (early) scribal insertion. — 12. HN without 
Makkef, as in xf/ 47^ 6o''2, probably a scribal accident. nin< in vM is sus- 
tained by all Mss. and Vrss., but may be omitted (as explicitwti) with advan- 
tage to the rhythm. For |§ 3ndi read Hif. 3N'r, after (S fxaaTiTioi, and as in 
Job 5I8; Pi. 2N3 (Dys., cf. Cappell.) is possible, but does not occur in OT. — 
J^ J3 nx; (S (exc. H-P 106) -ko-vto. vi6v, adopted by Bi.; the ir. is natural, 
and may be rhetorical explanation; the universality indicated by |^ in * is 
involved in the Heb. of ^. The p, found in all texts, probably suggested the 
pointing 3nt, and must be early; yet it is not appropriate here (it probably 
has no connection with the common address "j3 of v.^^) ; we expect i-'n or 
-\yn Vd, and this reading may be adopted as the most probable. — 1§ ns-\'; 
(5 TrapaS^X^^"*') free rendering of |^, as in Mai. i'^; ^^ >-n seems to be repe- 
tition from preceding cl., or, instead of nxi' they perh. read nxi' or mi'. 

13-20. Excellence of wisdom. — A group of 8 couplets, v.^^-^ 
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 [] % can compare with her, 

16. 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; 

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

19. Yahweh 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 (Jiuman being . . . mor/fa/), 

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

III. 12-14 (i"] 

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 
gift from God, is not said ; the two points of view were probably 
not distinguished by the writer. The beatitudes of Prov. all (with 
the exception of 16-'^) relate to the individual moral life, standing 
thus in contrast with those of the legal and historical books (and 
ij/ 32^^ 146^ Eccl. 10^^) which refer to national hfe, 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 : /or her acquisition is better than the acquisition of silver, 
and her revenue than gold. The expression rendered her acquisi- 
tion may mean the acquiring her, or what she acquires {her gain, 
profit), or what she produces {— the gain that one gets from 
her) , or her trade, or trading in her ( = RV. 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 {Jier 
income), or what she yields to her possessor {the income from 
her) ; 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'^ my fruit is better than 
gold and my revenue than silver, that is, as v.^^ 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 for 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 gold 
and silver ; cf. Mt. 13^^^ 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 8^^ suggests the omission of the second, profit (or acquisi- 

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


Hon) in first line. — In xp iq'''^"^ 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 ail thy treasures can- 
not (= none of thy treasiires can) cojupare with )ier ; the Possess. 
Pron., which is inappropriate, is better omitted with all the ancient 
Versions. The meaning of the Heb. noun in first cl. (D'rSB) 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^^ 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'*) ; the ruby would be appropriate in Lam. 4^ by its color, 
but the word here employed never occurs in hsts of gems (such 
as Ex. 28^^"^ 39^°"^^ Ez. 28'^), but only in poetical books (Lam., 
Job, Prov.). The coral was highly valued by the ancients (Plin., 
H.N., 32, 11), 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 peai'ls (Bochart, Ewald, Reuss, Noyes, Strack, al.) would 
suit if the complexion in Lam. 4" 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.'*) 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.^ Long life is Ht. le?igth 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 69 

On the one hand, his conception of wisdom includes prudence 
and sagacity, qualities that usually secure both wealth and the 
esteem of men; cf. such passages as 10* 11^ 12" 14^ 19" 21^ 
22^ 24^ 27"^ 21^*^^ — this idea runs through the who^e 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 laiv and jnercy she bears on her tongue ; cf. Isa. 45^^ out 
of my 7nouth proceeds righteousness (Yahweh is the speaker) and 
Pr. 31^ and the laiv of kindness [= kindly instruction'] h 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 31-'"' (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. Hes out- 
side the idea of the Heb. sage, whose purpose is simply to describe 
wisdom as the sunwium bonum. — 17. Synonymous, binary, or 
ternary. The pleasantness and peace are to be interpreted accord- 
ing to v.^^ : a life controlled by intellectual and moral wisdom will 
be free from disturbances and cares. Cf. Job 5-* 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 Book of Proverbs, 
was distinctly objective, but it necessarily included, as all human 
thought does, the posture of soul. Peace/ 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'\ — 18. Synonymous, probably ternary-binary. 
Tree of life is a figurative expression (probably a commonplace of 


the poetical vocabulary), equivalent (as appears from ii^" 13^' 
15'') to source of long life and peace ; the statement of this verse 
is thus identical in meaning with that of v.'^- ". The poetical 
image of lifegiving fruit (found also Ez. 47^^, and cf. the fountain 
of life, Pr. 10" 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. 47'^, 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.^^; 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 Ufe 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^^' (and cf. Job 28-o--«), BS. i^" WSol. 7. This view is 
characteristic of the Wisdom books, while in the Prophets (Am. 4'^ 
5^ 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, Bibl. Urgeschichie ; 
Cheyne, "Job and Sol., p. 123, and Dampton Led., p. 441 f. ; Schwally, Leben nack d. 
Tode, p. 1 18. 

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

III. 18-20 


It is the skill shown in the creation that is had in mind (as 
in Job 28 Pr. 8) ; contrast the national point of view of the 
prophets and the psalmists, the social interest of Gen. 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 {^\i 24^ 136*^), as having foundations (Isa. 51'^ 
y\i 104* Pr. 8^) and as supported by pillars (Job 9^ \\i 75^^*') ; Sheol 
was apparently supposed to lie beneath the subjacent ocean (cf. 
Am. 9^'^). Above the earth the heaven or sky was thought of as 
a material expanse (Gen. i'), fixed in its place by God and sup- 
ported by pillars (Job 26'^ 1/' i8'<^*), 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. 8^ i/^ 148^) conceives of it as including different planes. The 
three divisions of the world are given in Ex. 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." 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 deeps are cleft, that is, the subterranean 
structure is broken up so that the water may flow. 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 dew 
is supposed to fall from the clouds, and the term is probably 
meant to include rain (cf. Job 28-^ -'^ 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 

* For later Jewish cosmogonic ideas see Secrets of Enoch, ed. R. H. Charles; 
Weber, TheoL, \ 44. On Babylonian ideas cf. Jastrow, Relig. of Bab. aiid Assyria, 
pp. 442 f., 489. 


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^^"^^ * 

13. |§ ais . . . n-iN; © (followed by ^) &v9puiros (dvijp) . . . 6vr)Ths; 
we should perh. read ::m:n or c\x (so Kamp.) instead of second n; 3L omits 
it. — 1§ |i"ifi'»; © elSev, CI. Alex. Migne I. 357 e'vpe (but 552 ol5e), assimilation 
to vb. of*; Saadia pei. — 14. mnD; @ avTr)v ipLwopfieffdai (CI. Al. ifxiropev- 
d^vai, Ped. 91); <§'^ "h xpi'O'^oi/ /c. dpyvplov O-qaavpovs, prob. free rendering of 
J^, cf. 31'* where D is rendered by epyd^e<ydai.; & follows |^, only inserting 
pp;;D (=: 3j), before last word. — 15. The tone in r\-\pi is drawn back for the 
sake of the rhythm. — K a'l'jr, scribal error for Q. D''J"Jd; a similar error in 
Lam. 4'' was perh. the source of 3L el>ore antiquo. — For ^ i^ssn read with all 
anc. Vrss. a^Sijn (so Oort, Bi.), the restrictive suff. being out of keeping with 
the context. — ||J ivi"; (5 S^toc, and, in the doublet, dvTird^iTai (n'^-^ A dvTi- 
TdffcreTai). (3 doublet iroi>Tjp6v {fon), perh. for Trodtjrdv (Jag-, Grabe, cited 
by Schl.). <3, second doub. evyvwardi €<ttiv irdcnv rols iyyl^ovcriv avrrj 
(Proc. by scribal error dpyii^ovaiv, <3^ icpairrondvois) perh. = ["'^''] ^f'l •i/'iiJ 
nonp or rr'jDV T.:'.sS n-j; in any case not original. — For |^ n3 Oort would 
rather read 7^'^'; the Prep, after r\)Z' (= /He, equal) is *? or '^n except here 
and 8^^ Esth. 7*; the a may introduce the noun of estimation. — 16. After 
DID'' Tis © adds koX errj fwTjs, apparently from v.'^; the addition mars the 
rhythm. (3 also introduces the v. by yap (adopted by Bi.), but the causal 
form does not agree with the context. — On the couplet inserted by (5 see 
what is said above, and cf. notes of Lag. and Heid. In ^ we should perh. 
read ^6^01' 5^ iXhv. — 17. p? aiSir*: (g^aj. ^^ dp-qvri, (g^'"'- fier' eip., (5'< omits 
prep.; |^ is to be retained. — 18. In '', as often elsewhere (rhetorical expan- 
sion), (g prefixes wdai to the Part. (Di|innD). — Instead of r<3 the suff. might 
be attached to the Partcp. — In ^ |^ has sing. pred. ib'NC with plu. subj. 
H'lSDP. % (and so Bi.) makes subj. sing., and SE 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 ^, which occurs elsewhere (Gen. 27-^ 
Ex. 31" al., see Ew. § 3i9<7), 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. ^va. = make or call happy seems to be Denom. — 
Clause ^ stands in (g^ ^al toIs iwepeiboixivois iw' avT^v ws iirl Kiipiov; @Bab 
adds d(T(t>a\-n and (g >" ci. A do-^aXijs, and so Si" Proc. Hil.; aa-(p. = -\Z'i<:2 
(taken as Pi. Fari. = guule or as V\x.= guided, and perh. read pic-nc), is 
understood as referring to wisdom; ws e. k. apparently = n^r, repetition out 

III. 20-2I 73 

of no2n (Lag., Oort). The Heb. text of (5 = |^, only with Prep. ':' before 
T. — 19. 'Ev (= j) is prefixed to crocpig, by several Fathers, and to (ppovria-ei 
by @ >• c. a. A many curss. and several Fathers (see H-P), probably a scribal 
variation. SC attach 3 sing. masc. suff. to the second noun, S to the first 
also. — 20. Suff. in ir;-i omitted by (S^-^, inserted by ® ^ "=■* H-P 69 al. Comp. 
Aid. — The precise sense of the e.xpression i>p33 nbhn is not quite clear; we 
expect : " the rock (or, the earth) was cleft, and the waters issued," as in i/- 78^^. 
The construction in Pr. is supported, however, by Gen. 7I1 yp 74^^; the latter 
passage can hardly be rendered : //iot( didst cleave a -way for fountain and 
brook. Apparently the subterranean :nn is regarded as a mass, lying motion- 
less, and requiring to be cleft in order that its waters may move. Instead of 
1d;;t' 4 MSS. have jdi;'' with same meaning (cf. Dt. 32^), perhaps scribal 
error, or euphonic variation; on transposition of radicals in stems see Bottch., 
Lehrb., 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- 

2\b. My son, keep [with thee] wisdom and discretion, 

21 a. Let them not depart 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,' f 
Nor 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, quaternary- 
binary. The present Heb. text reads : tny soti, let ihetn not 

* Heb. : liest down. t Heb. : Fear not sudden 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 suppUed from v.'^- ^^ (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.-^. The Vrss. are 
unsatisfactory. Grk. (the text of which may be corrupt) : my 
son, do not escape {Yii.fiow azvay) ; Lat. : let not these flow away 
from thine eyes ; Syr. Targ. : let it riot be despicable in thine eyes. 
The beginning of the paragraph, which contained the antecedent 
of them, may have fallen out ; it may perhaps be supphed from 
the closely parallel passage 4^^^. We may either insert a verse 
similar to 4^, or supply a single word and read let not my words 
(or, let not wisdom) swenie, etc. The term swerve, turn aside, 
seems strange in this connection, and the Vrss. assumed dififerent 
stems. We expect one of the usual words for depart, as in 27-^ 
or 17^^, 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' and 
I*, and on keep see notes on 2-° 3^ — 22. Synonymous, ternary- 
binary. The reward (the description of which goes through v.-^). 
Instead oi 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-- ^^\ Being is here better 
than soul (as rendering of U'SD), 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. Adormnerit is lit. 
beauty, grace of forjn (see note on i^), and so an ornament as a 
thing of beauty, and as a lasting possession ; see notes on i^ 3^ 
True sagacity, it is declared, will bring its possessor not only long 

III. 21-25 75 

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 Grk. 
here inserts v.*, with a slight variation {flesh instead of body). — 
23. Synonymous, ternary. Security in walk. The second cl. (which 
reads lit. and shalt fioi strike thy foot) occurs in \p 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 Grk. 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 \p, or xp from Pr. — 24. Parallels, ternary. Security at home. 
The Heb. text reads : when thou liest down thou wilt (or, shalt) 
not be afraid, yea, thou wilt (or, shalt) lie down and thy 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. Grk., in first 
cl. : when thou sittest down ; Targ. : when thou liest down and 
steepest; Syr.: and thou shalt sleep ; Lat. : if thou sleep thou shalt 
not be afraid, thou shalt rest, etc. In \p 3^^^' 4**^^ the expression is 
lie docvn and sleep ; in Dt. 6^ we have the pairs sit 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 //V to j-?V. — 25. Synonymous, ternary. Security from calam- 
ity. Lit. terror (or, calamity) of the foolish and storm (or, deso- 
lation) of the wicked. The Heb., instead of terror of the foolish, 
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-''-^ 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^' 
ij/ gi^. — 26. Progressive, ternary. The ground of hope. J^ro- 
tector is lit. confidence =^ ^xoMVidi. of confidence; cf. Job 8'* 31''*. 
The specifically religious theistic point of view (as in Job 5^'"-® 
^91) is here introduced — wisdom is identified with trust in God, 
according to the fundamental principle stated in i'. 

21. If f^ y^^ be referred to st. r^, this use of the word (= depart) must 
probably be regarded as peculiar to the Hokma diction. (§ (Tra^apujs = "'i.i) 
and 3L {effluant) appear to have taken it from ^m flow, <S2E ("'n, foil, by 
Prep. Z) from '^*7i despicable. In 4^1 (g has eKXiinoa-ii', 52^ p;J (from ^"^t), 
IL recedant (from n"? or '?;:). Lag. supposes that napa^pv^s (as he writes the 
word, but apparently without MS. authority) comes from preceding ippvrjffav 
by erroneous repetition of ppvrjs, and he thinks it impossible to restore the 
verb. (S (which omits ^ Tryc) must be rendered do nol slip away (that is, 
from my instruction, or, from wisdom), a strange reading, and SC3L are 
equally unsatisfactory. There seems to be nothing better than to retain |^; 
on the construction of the verse see note above. Bi. reads r>r, 3 sing, fem., 
understanding wisdom as subject; Oort i^r' (cf the stem '^rx). The reading 
of S2u is found in Kenn. 95, 150, and is adopted by Houb., and the form 
v-7^ (as in 4^1) occurs in some printed edd. (see De' Rossi). — In ^ (5S attach 
I pers. suff. to the nouns, and S treats ixj as Inf Heid.'s remark that S:W, 
reverse the order of the nouns is not correct (cf Pink.). — 22. <S 'iva i;i^ari 
V i^^X"^ <''ov (or (TTj i^uxT? H-P 23, 252) is free rendering of |^. — 23. <3 vewoi- 
6ws and iv eip-rjvTj, doublet; iraaas, rhetorical insertion. — 1§ l^^"'; the Qal is 
regularly trans., and is so rendered f gi^- by @1L; here intrans. by @IL and 
apparently by 52^; Saadia ^Z'2 -pi-\ Bis.-i nVi, in which the verb may be taken 
either as trans, or as intrans., and thy foot will not strike (or, thou 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. J§ has 3:r in both clauses, Impf. and Perf., rhetorical variation; a better 
reading is given in * by (S (foil, by S^), Kadr) = ar^ (referred by Hitz., Held, 
to influence of Dt. 6^), adopted by Bi. on the ground that |§ is intolerably 
tautological. The Vrss. all vary the expressions: (@ Kidri and KaOevSris; 
2r 12ini 20U'.i in » and 'J'.-i in •>; ^ --i.-i in ^, --yr \n^; IL dortnieris and qui- 
esces ; and so Saad. lie down and sleep. These renderings may be rhetorical 
variations of f§. In 2C the 'rni is explanatory addition to 'in (S). — 25. J^ 
Sx may be changed to n^, after the norm of v.-*, or perhaps may be taken 
as declarative, which force it possibly sometimes has in poetry (Job 32-^) and 
elevated prose (Jer. 14^^), though in these passages it may be scribal error. 

III. 25-27 yj 

— For inD Gr. proposes T13, referring to i^b 27 ^here <5 has SXedpos and 
06pvj3os; yet these may be understood as free translations of "ins taken 
as = cause of fear; @ here has TrrdTja-iv iwekdodcrav, in which tt. =■ inc, and 
iw. is repetition from ^ or represents 3N^o read as some form of N13. The 
terror and storm of 5§ are understood by @, against the connection and 
against the suggestion of i2e. 27^ as an attack made on the righteous by the 
wicked. — ^ =^7?; point oxnp (Oort). — |^ ,xan ■'d; cf. N33 \^-'^. — 26. On 
the Beth essentiae in n'r'Dpo (so Ex. 18* Isa. 40'*^ 1/' 146*) see Ges.-'', § 1191, Ew., 
§ 22()b, and cf. 2C T^i'DJ; on the similar Arab, construction see Casp. ed. 
Wright, II. § 56^ and Rem. a, ed. Miiller, § 423, 2rt; 3L in latere liio and % 
"lev take 'J as = loin, flank ; (5 eTt Tracrwj' bhOiv <to\i — ■i.~'?D::3. — |^ -13'? Atf. 
Xe7. ; Oort suggests that it may be pointed as Qal Inf. or written Nif. Inf. 
ij*?."!; @Ba;. a-aXevdys (= ■Ji:: or '])}?), which Semler would change to dypevd^i 
(so H-P 23, 252'"'"'K-, and S" -i^spr), and Lag. to <rv\Xr)(peys. 

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 
Eook were finally edited about the same time. Cf. 6^-*-^"-^^^ 
g'-'' Eccl. 7I-9. 

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

28. Say not to thy neighbor : " Go 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 /rem its possessors, which cannot mean from the 
poor (Grk.), as if they were lawful owners of alms, or from them 
to 7vhom it is due (RV.) ; nor can we render, with Lat. Vulg. : 
Restrain not him zvho can from doing good ; if thou art able, thy- 
self do good. The connection (v.-^-^) suggests some such word as 
neighbor, which may be got by a not very difiicult change of the 
Hebrew. The word is wanting in Peshitta 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, clansinan, neighbor, frie7td, but seems here to 
be employed in the wider sense in which it is used in Dt. 15^ 
Lu. lo^-^-^^ (taken from the Grk. of Lev. 19^*). Similar injunc- 
tions are found in ii-*--« 14-^^^ 17'' 21^ if" BS. 29^- 2- 20. 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 
give. 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.^' 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^ — 
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^'* 14^' 20^ 22^*^, 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. 

III. 27-30 79 

27. In expressions of position or quality Spa always signifies one who 
employs or controls the thing in question: husband = owner of a wife; ally. 
Gen. 1413 = one who enters into and employs a treaty; dreamer, Gen. 371^ = 
one who has and employs dreams; archer. Gen. 49^8 = one who uses arrows; 
a 7nan of affairs, Ex. 24", conducts his affairs; creditor, Dt. 15'^ = one who 
makes and controls a loan; the hair of a hairy man, 2 K. i^ belongs by 
nature to him; a legal adversary, Isa. 50^, is one who conducts the prosecu- 
tion; one who is sworn, Neh. 6^^, makes an oath; a bird, Pr. i^^, uses its 
wings; a -waster effects waste; an angry man, 22^* 29^2, feels and shows anger; 
dL glutton, 232, has appetite; a rogue, 248, makes mischief; a babbler, Eccl. lo^i, 
uses his tongue. There is thus no authority in Heb. usage for the statement 
(made by Schult., De., and others) that 2x0 hyz 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 good or deserves it. Nor does Aram, permit such a rendering. The word 
must be either, with SiZT, omitted, or else changed; a corruption of yy-\ into 
r'^;'2 offers no great graphic difficulty. From @ ivberj Gr. suggests r^sr, and 
Oort sees nothing better than jv^n; but (§ is probably free rendering of J§. 

— K ''"''' is possible, but marginal reading t' is the common form and is found 
in many MSS. of Kenn. and De'R. ; Rashi gives two explanations, one = IL, 
one = @. — 28. |^ -i'l is sing., the Yod 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 i"^, the omission of "i''>nS in (5 may be due to 
homoeoteleuton, or possibly to homoeoarkton, especially if it were written in 
the abridged form 'n'^, — S, probably by scribal inadvertence, transfers "[nx cm 
from end to beginning of the verse. On the addition in @ see note on this 
verse above. — 29. jl§ Khnp; (§ TeKT-f)vrt; BS 7^2(13) iporpla; the figurative 
sense devise comes more naturally from carve, but possibly also horn plough. 

— 30. 1^ nS cn; (3 M, perh. taking ||J as = jd, or perh. reading nS -wa or 
vh 'iJ'N. — It was hardly on moral grounds that ^ was omitted in S. 

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. Envy not the man of violence. 
And take no pleasure in his ways; 

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

But between him and the upright there is friendship. 

33. The curse of Yahweh is on the house of the wicked, 
But the habitation of the righteous he blesses. 


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^) rather than choose (which, however, gives a good 
sense). The violence is highhanded, unlawful procedure of any 
sort ; man of violence = 7vicked man ; the " violence " was gener- 
ally practised for purposes of pecuniary or political gain ; cf. 10® 
16^. 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 \p Zl^^' 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 fnen, and covet not their ways, in which first clause comes 
from scribal error, but second clause is favored by the parallelism 
and by 24'^ i/^ 37^ On the other hand our text is supported by 
24^, 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 earher 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. 14-*, Dt. 14^^, 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 ifiiquitous) 
man (for the term see note on 2'^) 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, 


III. 31-34 81 

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 29'''^ ij/ 25'* (and ij/ 55'^*''^'), in which the sense is clearly 
friendship. The ground for avoiding the ways of the wicked 
(v.^^) 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). 
We may render on the house or in the house. The value of Yahweh'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- 
tween 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 blesses by pro- 
nouncing good, man by invoking good from God.* — 'LdX. 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 : if (or, though) he scorns, 
etc., yet he shows, etc., the preceding and succeeding verses being 
declarative. Still less can v.''^ 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. i/^ 1 8^<-*^>- ^*^'27) . ^Y\q 
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- 
iated pious (a";y) is that which is variously rendered in RV. 
by poor, afflicted, humble, lowly, meek. Its primary sense seems 
to be 07ie who is bowed, bent, or one who bows hitjiself (under or 
before a hostile force) ; it thus comes 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 afiiic- 

* The Heb. term for bless never means curse, blaspheme, or renounce ; in Job i^- U 
^ 9 the Heb. word is to be changed so as to read curse. 


tion {[j/ 74^' a/.), or, one who afflicts himself by fasting or is 
humble before God, and so in general the Godfearing, pious (so 
used of Moses, Nu. 12^, and so \\i 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^ — Bickell omits the verse as an interpolation 
which breaks the connection between v.^ and v.^ ; it is, however, 
closely parallel to v.''^, and, if any verse is to be omitted as irrele- 
vant, it should rather be v.^* (see note on this verse below). — 
For the sentiment cf. 16'^. — 35. Antithetic, ternary. The first 
cl. = honor is the p07-tion of wise men. The thought is that of 11^ 
12* 13''' 14" 22-^ 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^^ 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'^), exalt (if/ 89^"), take 
away, remove out of the way (Hos. 11^ Isa. 57"), offer ds gift or 
sacrifice (that is, lift up before the deity, Ex. 35^^ Lev. 4^). 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, promotion) of fools {Mi. shame exalts fools), and 
so Schult. : the brand of itifamy 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- 

ni. 34-35 83 

dering fools change \their glory~\ into shame (cf. Hos. 4^ Jer. 2" 
xp 106-*), but the insertion is improbable, and the resulting sense 
not clear or appropriate. Another slight change gives fools in- 
crease shame (cf. Isa. 40^ Eccl. 6" 10"), a good and natural 
sense; and a similar rendering is appropriate in 14-^ But an 
equally easy and more probable emendation gives the verb possess, 
get possessio7i of {= obtaiti). In any case the meaning of the 
second cl. 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. (5 /ttTj KT-qcrrj [nj|ip] KaKQv dvdpwv oveldri, in which oc. may = J^ Dm 
(Baumg.) as in 26^ Job ig', k. being epexegetical; Lag. suggests that k. a. 0. 
is simply poetical expression of k. a., like /x^ya <rdivos 'Heriw^'os = 'Her/wi'. — 
^■i]\u}(ry]s may = |^ inan; according to Oort, it = innr, which seems unneces- 
sary.* — 32. (5 seems to make irapdvo/jLoi (n'^j) subj. of ^ ev 8i 5i/caiois oir 
(Tvvedpid^ei, but doubtless oii is scribal error, repetition of following <rv (Lag.), 
and KvpLOi is subj. — Heid., noting that (3 has Trap, instead of ff/coXtdfwK (14^) 
and aKaOapTos instead of the usual ^Si\vyp.a, sees in this v. a Pharisaic attack 
on the Sadducees, the paranomists, and regards aiivedpid^ei as an allusion to 
the Sanhedrin. This is possible, but not necessary, and the supposed allusion 
in ffvvfd. vanishes with the disappearance of ov. — 33. |5 iin'; <§ Oeov. All 
following nouns are plural in (§, perh. stylistic variation of the translator, 
perh. representing variations from our Heb. text; so .SST Saad. have plu. in ', 
IL in •>, and in (S1L the vb. in ^ is Pass. plu. — 34. D^xSS dn cannot here mean 
7vhen he deals %vith scorners (Lag., De., Kamp.) as separate protasis (with 
l**?' Nin as apodosis), nor can dn = surely (RV.), since, in asseverations, this 
word has negative force. Gr., Oort, change □« to n^nSs (after Jas. 4^ i Pet. 5^), 
and Oort omits pref. ^; but nim is the divine name used above in the para- 
graph, and the Nin further must then be omitted. Dys.'s emendation to cj.', 
with omission of pref. S (which may easily be doublet) is simpler, bringing 
the sentence into the norm of 1// 18'^^. Or, we may, with (5 Kuptos vTrepritpdvon 
6.vTiTd(T(TiTai, omit QvS (so SiElL), though this is graphically not so easy. 
® Kvpios may represent 7\y-r\^, or may be explicitum. — K. D^'j"; Q a^jv, for 
which S has NDon. For y^^ ^K have lino: casls down, free rendering. — 
85. |§ 3n?:; @ v^po}(Ta.v■, «.3C I^apj; IL sttiltoriim exaltatio, apparently taking 
pSp as subj.; Dys. emends to sn^cc, Gr. better to D^anc, but we should proba- 
bly read c'nn or 'inv 

* Held., by oversight, quotes Procop.'s comments as additions to the Grk. text. 


rv. Three exhortations (v.'-», v.^'^'^ v.^^), 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 iuch condition that we cannot be sure of 
the exact sense. The Vatican Grk. 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. He used to teach me and say to me : 
4 /J. "Let thy mind retain my words. 

4^. 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 is 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**, and cf. v.^ below. On instruction 
and wisdom (the term usually rendered understandifig) see notes 
on I-. The word rendered give heed, = hearken, attend, is a syn- 
onym of heat ised only in poetry and solemn prose. Compre- 

* On the omission of v.^b. 7^ see note on these verses below. 

IV. 1-3 85 

hend = know (i-). 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 beheves 
that his teaching is sound and important, and the teaching or law 
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. / 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, my father's son\ 
tender \_= of tender age, weali] and an only child in the presence of 
[= xvith'\ my mother. Grk. : / also tuas a son, obedient to a father, 
and beloved in the 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 child 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 myself was a son, tinder the 
authority of a father, and beloved by 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, with 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.'''''' and v.^ are plain; the 
difficulty lies in v.''''-^ ^ The following considerations may help to 
fix the wording. V.", since it interrupts the connection between 
v." and v.^ is syntactically confused, and is not found in the Grk., 
may be omitted (see note on this verse below). V.'^'' also inter- 
rupts the connection between v.^^ and v.^ (this last verse supposing 
a preceding reference to wisdom), and should be omitted. We 
shall thus have to form a couplet out of v.'''' and v.^^. 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.^ 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.^, 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^. J?etaitt — grasp, hold firmly in hand, hold fast. — The 
third line of the verse is identical with the first line of 7^ and is, 
for this reason, here thrown out by some critics as a scribal inser- 
tion ; but such repetition is possible (for ex., i*'^ = 6""^). Grk. has 
only the first half, omitting the words afid 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^), whether or 
not she is mentioned in this verse. 

t On the education of children see Nowack, Nel>. Arch., I. p. 172; Schiirer, 
Gesck. (= Hist, of the Jew. People, II., 2, § 27), and the literature therein named. 

IV. 3-6 ^y 

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.^ No arrangement of the lines, however, is entirely free 
from objections. — And live ^^ that thou juayest {by them) live, 
that is, " that they may secure the happiness of a long earthly 
life ; " for the idea see 3-. — 5. The present Heb. text reads : get 
wisdom, get understa7iding, forget fiot, and turn not away 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.*'' ; and the 
expression forget not should properly follow not get wisdom, etc., 
but keep my comrnandments. The former phrase is omitted in the 
Grk., which reads : keep co7Jimandments, forget not, and tieglect 
not the discourse of my motith; this is in itself clear, but it makes 
the teacher's discourse the antecedent of v.^ {forsake it not), 
whereas the tone of v.^ *• ^ almost forces us to regard zvisdom as 
their subject. It is, therefore, better to omit the second clause 
{and turn, etc.) as a gloss on v.^''- ", 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 juouth (Graetz), which has the advantage of offer- 
ing only one subject (as in v.®), 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 tmderstanding, foiget not {the instruction of my lips'], and 
swerve 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.*'=-^ be adopted 
(see above), we must probably suppose a break at the end of v.*, 
the following paragraph (v.'' *^) 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 3'-^; the essential thought is the same in both. 
The verb love, used in the ethical sense, with man as subject, here 
has the abstract wisdovi as object (in i^^ its opposite, ignorance) ; 
in the Prophetical books (Am. 5'* Mic. 3^ al.) the object is gen- 
erally right conduct, in the legal books (Dt. 6* Lev. 19'^ al.) 
Yahweh and man, in ^ (26* 119^' al.) Zion and the Tora. — The 
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 ivisdom, and, with all that thou hast gotten, buy, etc., that 
is, buy wisdom at the price of all thy property, cf. 23-'' Mt. 13*^' ''^ 
or, along 7vith 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 (n'tTKi), in the 
sense of best, chief, principal, never occurs undefined (only twice 
in OT. undefined, Isa. 46'° and the doubtful Gen. i', both times 
in the sense oi 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 7visdom,^^ 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.' and v.'^" 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.^ and 
v.*, and is probably a gloss. Possibly the expressions get wisdom 
and get understanding, written in the margin as a summary of v.'*"^, 
got into v;^, 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 89 

/// an embankment against a thing, or (Grk.) around a thing, 
so as to protect it; or, fnake a rampart of a thing (Jager), 
surround one's self with a thing as a protection ; or cast up as a 
highway (cf is''-* Isa. 57"), and so make plane and firm ; or, per- 
haps, simply raise up, exalt, esteetii highly, prize (cf. the similar 
form in Ex. 9''). This last agrees with the parallel embrace, and 
is adopted by most expositors. Syr. Targ. have freely love her ; 
Lat. Rashi : lay hold of her ; 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. give to thy head a chaplet. Beauty (or, grace) and 
glory are physically descriptive terms — the sense is beautiful 
chaplet and glorious (or, splendid) croiun; cf. i^ BS. 6^^*^^ 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. 16^^ 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 n"T as subst., and connects it by 1 wath nra. — 2. ^ np*^; 
ig StSpoi', IL domim. — f^ \--iir; H-P 68. 161. 248 Comp. Aid. rhv eabv Xdyov, 
which hardly represents a different Heb. text from ours — not necessarily 
Christian correction (Lag.), more probably rhetorical variation. — 3. (5 utt-jkoos 
may be rendering of |§ 71 taken as = sof, submissive; Lag. holds it to be 
rendering of i^ poor (Lev. 25^"'); Heid. of 13 oppressed (^26^^ ^ 10^^ a/.), 
neither of which terms is here appropriate, or likely to be rendered by vtti^koos. 
The connection in ^ requires a descriptive term between p and ■'^s^; ti 
might be transposed so as to stand before '■> or before r^-, but the signifi- 
cation would still make difficulty unless it could be understood as = peUed 
(2r ,iJ5:.), parallel to beloved in ^. Read ^:is ^-^zh iyi T^ v--n p ^r. — The 
/cd7Jj of (S is probably inserted to bring out the proper emphasis. — |^ ■''n-; 
read ■''t ; @ here has d7a7raj^e^os; ^-t\^ is rendered by 070x77x6$ Gen. 22^- ^2- '^ 
{0^ does not contain these passages) Am. 8^" Jer. 6-^ Zech. I2i^ by novoyevii^ 
Ju. 1 1^' ((5-^ adds ayaTT-qr-q) \p 22-1 25^^ 35!^ and by fjLouoTp6irovs i/- 68"; "i^i" is 
always rendered by some form of d7air.; we cannot, therefore, determine |§ 
from <§; but in any case iv.' must here mean only child, and this in the 
connection is inappropriate. On the MS. reading 'J3^ instead of 'JD'' see 
De' Rossi's note. — 4. In '^ the vbs. might be read as sing., as in |^, or plu., 
as in (5. — 'EpetS^rw may represent |^ i;.-> taken as Nif. (see Concord, of 

* Cf. Nowack, Heb. Arch., I. p. 185 f., and for the Gik. and Rom. customs, Becker, 
Char., Exc. L, Gall., Exc. L, and the refs. in the Diets, of Antiqs. 


Grk.), or perh. "i^D^ (De.). — 6 rjiihepos \6yos, = in^"-, hardly original, proba- 
bly rhetorical interpretation of Grk. translator. — |^ n-n-, lacking in (Q^ (S'' 
ast., retained by Proc.) ; the clause was perhaps introduced from 7^, where it 
is natural (S adds "j-^ at end of v.); according to Lag. n-'ni comes from the 
half-obliterated ^■2':ir\ of a gloss (see note on next verse). — After •'''? VL inserts 
nin>, so as to express divine authority for the teaching, or it = ''-, erroneous 
repetition of the two ^ in -[cn'' '^ (Pink.). — 5. |^ nj'2 r\:p n::jn njp, lacking 
in (3^ (S" ast.) ; Or. reads 'n r^:p as obj. of n^r.-i '?s, and omits '3 'p as gloss, 
but 'p as obj. of '."1 does not occur elsewhere and is not a natural construction. 
The whole expression (together with .thi) interrupts the connection between 
V1ISD (v.*) and '."I Sx, and if v.'''' be retained must be regarded as a gloss; 
it may be retained if v.''''' be thrown out; see note on v.'. — 7. Lacking in <5^ 
(S'l ast.) ; it interrupts the connection between v.'' and v.**, is syntactically 
and lexicographically difficult, and must be regarded as scribal insertion. 
Lag.'s explanation of v.'' and v.^^ is as follows : v.", 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.**, writing n;;:in for an 
illegible word which followed ,"i;;'.s'"i (the word should be a synonym of ]^:p, 
and Bi. writes V-n) ; the other found 'i and irjp ^dd illegible, and omitted 
them, made i>ni out of the first '~, and attached the resulting sentence to v.'*. 
This ingenious and complicated reconstruction still leaves an unsatisfactory 
CQyy^\&\. the best of wealth is get ivisdom aiid, ztz. As 'n '1 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 23^3, though it is hard to say 
how the text assumed its present shape. — 8, |^ ^D^D; © (and so 5^) Trept- 
Xapdfcajo'oj'; S3E 3"3n; IL arripe. The vb. may be denom. from n'^Sb or 
n7D:;; 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 n^'^D.i '^n, from Aram. n^D, = Heb. tn, on which see note 
on this v. above. — In '^ (§, not so well, takes 123 as Impv. with 3 sing. fern, 
suff., attaches 2 sing. suff. to ',-i~, and connects by Iva. (|^ o). SST reverse 
the positions of the vbs. — 9. nv,'-. occurs only twice in OT., here and i^; the 
stem in Heb. and Aram. = he attached to, accompany, in Arab, and Eth. twist, 
wind (so perh. also in Heb. triM'?), which is the meaning in .111^. Gr. (as in 
I^) reads n'r'^'^r. — |^ 1^'^^; <5 virepacnrlffri, but stem pi (^ = give, give up 
Gen. 14^' Hos. 11^) is not connected with po shield, which appears to come 
from p enclose, protect. Gr. proposes ij;'."! bind (see 6-') which is hardly 
better than |^. 

10-19. A separate discourse, consisting of exhortation to obey 
the sage's instruction (v."^^^), and to avoid the way of the 
wicked in view of their character (v.^*"^'), with a description 

IV. lo-u gi 

of the paths of the righteous and the wicked (v.^^ '^). The 
order of verses in the second half is unsatisfactory, and is variously 
changed by commentators. Hitzig omits v.'^ '^ as interpolation, 
inverts the order of v.^*- '', and before the latter inserts for ; 
Delitzsch, Novvack, Strack, Graetz simply invert the order of 
y_i8. 19 . Bickell places v.^® '^ after v.'* ^^ The inversion of the 
order of v.'*- ^^ 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 be many. 

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

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

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

14. Enter not the path of the wicked, 
Walk not in the way of bad 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.^ ; on sing, son, instead of plu. sons, 
see note on that verse. The reward — long life — as in 3^ '". It 
is again the sage that is the source of instruction. — 11. Synony- 
mous, ternary. The sage (as in v.^) characterizes his instruction. 
Not (RV.) have taught (or, itistructed) and have led ; the refer- 
ence is to the present instruction. Wisdom 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" ; lit. thy step will not be straitened. T 
The hfe 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 stumbhng, even when one runs ; cf. 3®- ^. — 
13. Synonymous, ternary. Repetition of exhortation. The yny in- 
struction (after the Grk. — the Heb. has simply instruction) is in 
accordance with v.'"- ", in which the teacher offers his own words ' 
for the guidance of the pupil. The // is fern, in the Heb., though 
the word for instruction is masc. ; the writer in thought identifies 
the latter with wisdom ; cf. 2'- 3!- 2- 21. 22^ ^^^r., jg ^q j^g understood 
as in v.'° ; 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. 12^^), 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." is 
ternary, v.^^ is binary (curt, sharp injunction). Warning. Emphatic 
iteration. In v."** the sense is not even if thou enter, continue not 
to 7valk therein. On walk see critical note. — 16, 17. Synony- 
mous ; v.^^ is quaternary, v.^^ 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- t 

nue farmers, grasping and desperate men of all sorts, some of 
whom are described by Josephus. The condidons of the society 

IV. 12-19 93 

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 recognize 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 recognize 
good and evil in all things. — The defining terms wickedness and 
violence (v.^') may express substance or origin ; the meaning may 
be that these are the food and drink of the wicked (cf. Job 15'® 
34"), or that the latter procure the necessaries and goods of life 
by these means (cf. 9^^), 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 ai., the 
second by C. B. Michaelis, De., 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 
\}^ 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 //// they do 
their desire ; the Heb. may be corrupt, but no satisfactory emenda- 
tion is obvious. — Hitzig omits v.^'^- ^' on the ground that they have 
no logical connection with v.'^, 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.^'^ connects itself 
by the sense with v.^", and the initial and {but) of v.'^ more natu- 
rally indicates a contrast with v.^', it is better to transpose the two 
verses. — 19. Progressive, ternary. The characterization 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^^-^^ 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.^^ The noun, used only in poetry and 
solemn prose, means deep darkness and gloom ; so in Ex. lo^ 
Dt. 28^ Joel 2^ etc., and cf. the similar term in Job 3® 10^^ ij/ gi^. 
— 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^"-^ 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 : //le ways of the 
righteous shine like light — grammatically good, but not favored 
by the form of v.^^, 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* Isa. 62^), and with reference to the light of fire 
(Isa. 4^), of the moon (Isa. 60^^), the stars (Joel 2^"), the sun 
(Am. 5^" Isa. 60^ Hab. 3* 2 Sam. 23*) ; here, as in Isa. 60^, 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 hght 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. Ewald, who takes the reference 
to be to the forenoon sun, thinks that the figure is derived from 

IV. 19, i8 95 

Ju. 5^^ (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 ^ n^) the noun n;i^ is read by Lag., who objects to the 
obj. after two Imps.; •;c~', he thinks, cannot well be taken as isolated exhorta- 
tion, and elsewhere in this series of paragraphs (4!- -^ 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; (5 = |^. In''© 
has two renderings, one = ||J, while in the other nimx or •'DIt stands instead 
of njj', or (Held.) less probably, ni'?''3;r {^'?^2'y?), which does not occur else- 
where in Pr. The second rendering, as freer, is prob. original (Jag., Lag.), 
only 680I, which is unnatural, seems to be scribal error, through incorrect hear- 
ing of the copyist (itacism), or through 65oiis in next v., or through corruption 
of the Heb. — 3C "J--, error for 1'?::. — 11. The vbs. are Pres. Perfs. — 1§ tm; 
(3 odoiis (and so S2E), which agrees with plu. in ^, and may be rhetorical 
assimilation, or original Heb. reading. — 12. ^ ^>•i■, poetic and elevated term 
for step, walk; plu., by natural usage of language, in ©Sit and RV. — 
Sb tyiiJ shaken, free rendering of |^ -\s\ — 13. Read nmc, with © im% 
iratdelas, as the connection requires. In ^ (B has free rendering of |§. — 
14. |§ T.^Nn (st. as in "^y, and Arab, id) ; the Pi. occurs elsewhere only in 
caus. sense = /ead, or ca/l happy, and, as the connection (parallel xan) here 
suggests the meaning go forivard, walk, it is better to point as Qal, as in 9®; 
Lag. writes iir.-i (for -ii::'t<n), which perh. gives an easier rhythm. The Vrss. 
translate by regard as fortunate (^desirable), be pleased ivith, envy, <§ ^rfKibarjs, 
AG fiaKapicry^, ^^ ja^", IL tzbi placeat (and in ^ 3L, by assimilation, has 
delecteris). — 15. p? inpo is sustained by parallel n-jr; (g (foil, by S) iv 
(fj Siv t6it({) aTparoTre5evcrw(rii>, perh. = ^ri•;-\•2 (Jag.) or icvi'p (Lag.), or nny-tip 
(Oort) their pasture-ground or camp, though the word occurs in OT. only of 
flocks; Held, suggests the improbable -\'?d district (only Neh. 3^ ■"'■ © nepi- 
X^pos); Schult., after the Arab., disturba seriein ejus, " give up association 
with them; " ^T^ag- ;:'ns (Buxt. ::'in "^Ir. tt'nN), heed not, pass over, without 
suff ., and following suffs. in plu. — n-jr is perhaps Aramaism. — 16. ?§ K 
I'rir^i, Q better iV^r^^ (so ST), though without obj. expressed (see Ew., § 303 f); 
© Koi\xQ>vTo.i. (writing i instead of on) = yiyv^ (Schleusn., Lag.) or 130B' 
(Oort), less prob. u;" (Heid.); Si pHj^iax jnap do their will, not = iSitt'a' 
cook, mature (Umbr.) or i^i-.ro'' get control (?/(Heid.), but free rendering or 
interpretation o{ '^— do harm, work their wicked will on (E work fall or 
destruction). Oort proposes to read ir^'n^'' destroy, of which, he suggests, the 
in;:'! of v." may be mutilation. Bi. regards 5§ as scribal erroneous copy of 
last word of v.i^ (which v. he puts immediately before v.^®), and reads IJ1S1 
murmur, speak blasphemously, which (S, he holds, took wrongly in its other 
sense of lodge. These readings offer no advantage over J§. — 17. ]§ DiD2n; 



(S irapavdfiCf) = ||J — ^ ir^u'^; © fxeduaKOvrai = nai'i or iiDr, which Oort 
thinks may be the true reading of |i^, the in::'' being then corruption of i."'n-"' 
(see n. on v.^'-^). S2C i/i^ir iread (y..rr) is the b. of wickedness (^T of the 
wicked), vAi\c\\. is not favored by i". — 19. ||J '^";?>'"; ^5 MSS. and Bibl. Brix. 
have :: instead of r, and so ©SSTIL have adjs = dark, a reading which agrees 
well with *>, giving explicitly the reason why the wicked stumble — their way is 
in darkness ; on the other hand '^ is favored by the j of v.'^ — the way is dan- 
gerous, like darkness. — Instead of i-?Z'y nop Bi. (on what ground he does not 
state) reads I'^^'joa [_lhey do not perceive or take note of] its stumbling-blocks, 
which does not appear to be rhythmically or otherwise better than |^. — 18. (@ 
takes nn, "fii and i x as preds. of rns (which it reids as plu., 65ot) ; this is 
hardly possible so far as regairds the two last, which naturally refer to the noun 
"ii.v; the first maybe understood as Partcp. agreeing with -i.s (so S^TIL and 
RV.) or, less probably, with ms (in which case it must be fern. — so perh. 
(5), or as vb. (Oort) referring to ms (so perh. @), or as subst. defining tin. 
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 ^ The pointing as 
Partcp. agreeing with -iix, while grammatically good, is rhetorically not proba- 
ble; light is said to shine (Isa. g-C* Job 18^ 22-^), and the moon is said 
(Isa. 13^0 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. r_i) does not else- 
where in OT. certainly occur in the sense of dawn (possibly in Isa. 62^, cf. 
2 Sam. 23*); but cf. S ndd BS 50^, where ^ has da-Trjp iudivdi and ?L stella 
mattitina. — |^ ? "j-, an impossible pointing, since the word is not a subst.; 
point jni, 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 rh 
ffTadepbv T^s iifi^pas, i] aradepct. fi€(r7]fj.ppla, Arab. ^K^JS^e ncxr, = 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.^^) 
and to practise rectitude (v.-^-'). 


20. My son, attend to my words. 
To my instructions lend thine ear. 

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

22. P'or they are life to those who find them, 
Health to their whole being. I 

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. 20-23 97 

25. Let thine eyes look straight forward, 
Thy gaze be directed straight before thee. 

26. Let the path of thy feet be smooth, 
Let all thy roads be firm. 

27. Turn not to right 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 turn (or, incline). 
See notes on 3^' 4^-^". — 21. Synonymous, binary-ternary. Lit.: 
Let them not depart from thine eyes, keep thetn in thy 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 eyes. — 22, 23. Ground of the exhorta- 
tion. — 22. Synonymous, ternary (or, binary). The grammatical 
number is uncertain. We may read : for they are life to those 
who find them and health (or, healing) to all their being {yi\.. flesh), 
ox ... to him who finds . . . all his. Life, as in 2^^ 3'*- ^^ 4^^, = 
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) ^^^in 3^ The 
terms flesh, heart, soul often = self. The Gk. here has all flesh, 
= all men, as in Gen. (P, etc. — 23. Single sentence, ternary. 
Vigilance as source of life and happiness. The Heb. in first line 
reads : more than all guarding ( = " with more vigilant guarding 
than in any other case ") watch thou over thy 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. 
(De., 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 Greek reading : with all watchitig 
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," Ez. 48''", once, apparently, " escape," 
\\i 68^<^'). The // may grammatically refer to heart, but Prov. 



everywhere else (as in 3^ ^ ^ '' ^^ 4*- '**■ " 6^ S^) represents /i/e 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 /lear^ is to be understood as = se/f, 
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 — Li/e = prosperity. The 
sense of the couplet is : with utmost care guard thyself from sin 
— thus wilt thou be happy. The use of hear/ 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. 12^), 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 sinfulness (RV. froward and perverse) 
mean departure (turning aside) from truth and right, contrariness 
to good ; cf. notes on 2^ 3^'. 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.^*). 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 \?^- "". — 26, 27. The path of 
rectitude. — -26. Synonymous, ternary-binary (or, perhaps, ter- 
nary). That is, "make thee a plane, solid road in Hfe." The 

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

IV. 23-«7 99 

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. Even so a man 
must arrange his path in life, walking in the straight and smooth 
way of rectitude. — The word tuake level occurs in 5^-^^ Isa. 26^, 
i/^ 78^"; the sense weigh, ponder (denom. from scales, ij/ 58^^^^) is 
not here appropriate. The second verb is equivalent to the first, 
meaning />ul 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 (Ex. 19^^ \\/ 7"). Grk. : make straight 
paths for thy feet (so freely Heb. 12^^) and make thy ways 
straight, which agrees in sense with the Heb., though it is not 
verbally accurate; evil is crookedness (v.^^) and good is straight- 
ness. — The plane and soUd 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.^®) — to swerve, 
the second cl. explains, is to fall into evil, 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 hifnself will 
make straight thy paths, and guide thy goings i?i peace. The con- 
ception here differs from that of v.^"-^ in two points (Hitz.) : 
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, De. shows that it can be naturally expressed in He- 
brew. It is hardly possible to determine whether it is due to a 

* Plato, Laws, iv, 717, referred to in Pluk, his, 26. 


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

21. ^ ii'''?'' Hi., only here; we should perh. read Qal (as in 3^1), so Bi. 
@ Svrws fiT] iK\iTru3criy ae, perh. reading i^r, from '-'•y, of. note on 3^1. For 
|§ I'JVP (gAB.N- have at irriyai (xov (= l'J^>'c) and (§^3. 252. 2S4. w ^i ^. ,-^5 
^laris (Tov ((§-^3 omits (xov); Lag. regards the latter (which Procop. also has) 
as the original; but as the reading of (@ABx ^^s no meaning, the words 
T. f. ff. may have been added by a Grk. scribe to make sense. Nor is there 
probability in Lag.'s view that the 5td iravrbs (= ny '?03) of ^-^■*-^ (inserted 
after 122''?) belongs to the Heb. original; cf. (S 6^1. Held, suspects in <§ pro- 
vision against a possible Pharisaic interpretation of the cl. as a reference to 
the frontlets of Dt. 6^ ! — SST 1JV3 (Lag. 70) ]^vi, from S*??, as in 321, on 
which see note. — 22. As the suffs. in onissb and nK'3 are inconcinnate, one 
of them must be changed; the sing. 1 cannot be retained as individualizing; 
S2r write the first as sing; (5 here has plu., but in ^ (5^ n* ^ omit suff. 
(giving an improbable reading), avrov is added in a'^-^- A 23, 254 ^^ and 
aiiTuv in 109, 157, 252, 297; these all go back to |^, and show that its form is 
early. — The Trdai of (g>6ia!. before rots evpl<rKov(nv may be a part of the Grk. 
original, but does not call for the insertion of ^3 in |§. The avT-ftv in * seems 
to have pTjcris (v.-'^) in view. — 23. |§ ictrD Ssc; the prep, is p in ® and AG 
(d7r6 wavTbs (pvXdy/iaros), a in 5 and apparently in (& (iraffy fvXaK^), and 
IL {omni custodia) ; the latter is adopted by Oort, Bi., Frank., RV., and 
seems preferable; 'd means properly the act of watching, hardly the thing 
■watched — the two interpretations give the same general sense. — The ro\jT(i)v 
of (5 in b appears to refer to the \byoi^ of v.^" (so Procop. understands it) ; 
the pronouns in the section are strangely varied in (5. — 24. The Vrss. except 
ST, render by various adjs. the substs. which in |§ are defined by no and 
DTiBS' (so RV. ) S N|"'''Dy deep, representing |§ nitrp", is apparently miswrit- 
ing of N.-iip; (2C .smp''y) ; cf. S 22'^. — On r.y^ see Ew., § 165 b, Stade, § 304 f, 
Preuschen, in ZAT., 1895, and De.'s note; the regular form of stat. const. 
(from nV) would be '^ — this seems to be poetic variation, unless it be from 
an otherwise unknown st. ni'^, like ni3U', nij-j' from n^'J'. The forms in m 
appear to be Aramaisms. — 25. Both terms of direction nij'? and ^uj are 
improperly understood by (5 in an ethical sense, bpQh and Skata (and so S^ 
Procop.), and the first by SSTIL (not by AGS); cf. ;/' 173. — 26. ^* is para- 
phrased by S2r keep thy feet (lit. 7nake t. f pass by) from evil ways (as in 
v.2^), % dirige for 0^73. — "^ '^:i is omitted by O (in reversal of its custom, 
which is to insert a Ss in such statements), except H-P 296 (correction after 
J^). u;'' is taken as active by (@ASG. — For variations of patrist. writers see 


rv. 27-v. 2 loi 

H-P. — 27. J^ >•■>::; <& dirb 65ov KaKTJs, as in 2I2. — On the added quatrain 
in (3 see note above. 

V. A discourse against sexual licentiousness in men. — After 

the usual introductory exhortation to give heed to instruction 
(v.^-^), 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."''^), and is urged to conjugal fidelity (v.^"™), the 
motive presented being the fate of the wicked (v.--^).* Cf. 
BS. 2f-'' 42'^" 

The Deadly Power of the Harlot. V.^-®. 

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

2. That discretion may watch < over 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. But at the last she is bitter 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 my understanding ; but the sage, while he speaks of 
his own words, commandments, law, instruction, never elsewhere 
claims wisdom (= understandi7ig, knowledge, insight, or discretion) 
as his own, but represents it as the goal to which his instruction 
leads ; see 2^-^- ^" 3^- -^ 4^- -■ ^°- ^ ; for the meanings of the terms see 
note on i^. — 2, The text is in disorder, and can be only con- 
jecturaily restored ; and the connection between v.^ and v.^ is not 
expressed. The Heb. (followed substantially by all Vrss. except 

* On v.21 see note on that verse below. 

t Heb. : my wisdom and my understanding. 


Grk.) reads to preserve \_— that thou mayest preserve"] discretion 
[= sagacity, insight], and that thy lips may keep knowledge. But 
the reference to the lips of the pupil, proper in 4^*, is out of place 
here ; lips utter, but do not keep ; we should rather expect thy 
tnind {heart), as in 3^ 4^ or simply keep thou, as in 4^^ 7^, if the 
point is the inward acceptance of wisdom or instruction. The 
mention of the lips of a strange woman, in v.^, might suggest, as 
contrast, Jiiy lips ; so Grk. : and the knowledge of my lips is en- 
joined [or, according to another reading, I 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 Hps 
of the teacher are nowhere else described as the possessors of 
knowledge, though they are said (15^ to scatter knowledge, that 
is, by words. These considerations are unfavorable to the emen- 
dations that the knowledge of fny 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.^ and v.^, reads : that thou mayest 
keep discretion and knowledge, that they may preserve {thee) from 
the strange woman (cf. 7^). Some such form as this is required 
by the connection. The resemblance between this passage and 
gii. 16 ^1-5 jg obvious, and we should probably here introduce a 
couplet like 2^" 'f, and read : that discretion fnay watch over thee 
and knowledge p}eserve thee, to save thee from the strange woman, 
etc. (as in the translation given above). 

3-6. Description of the harlot; cf. 2""-^^ ^^21.^.21^ ^p^e 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.^ the Grk. inserts give 
no heed to a worthless woman (Lat. . . . to a woman'' s deceit) ; but 
this destroys the distichal form of the verse ; it is a scribal effort 
to secure connection between v.^ 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 



V. 2-3 103 

above ; some reference to the strange woman must have preceded 
v.^, 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 O T. are the denunciation of 
the luxurious ladies of Jerusalem in Isa. 3^^-4^ (connected with 
the nation's defection from Yahweh), and the similar sarcastic 
prediction of Am. 4^"^, directed against the great ladies of Samaria. 
Ez. (13''"^) denounces the prophetesses in their official capacity. 
Ben-Sira (25^-*^ 26^" 42^'^) 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.^^), and, if we may con- 
clude from 7^^, 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 honey (the word means the honey of the comb), an expression 
which in Cant. 4" 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 . . . are 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 
(Ju. 14^** Ez. 3^ Rev. lo^-^" ^ 19^" 119'"'''), but neither mouth nor 
lip is called honey; we might, perhaps, say are sweet as ho?tey, or, 
are as honey, though, while words are called honey (16^*), the 
mouth or the lip is rather the source from which the honey drops 
or flows. — The term rendered woids (RV. mouth) 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 12"), and thence comes to express intellectual discernment 
(Job 6*^) ; and it is used, as here, for the vocal cavity as the seat 
of speech (8^ Hos. 8') ; its smoothness denotes flattery (29^) or 
hypocrisy (t// 5^°) ; so Eng. smooth and oily. — The woman is de- 
scribed as mistress of cajoling, enticing words ; see the specimen 
of her persuasions given in 7'*"-". Rashi and other Jewish exposi- 
tors explain the figure of the woman as Epicureanism (philosophi- 
cal scepticism, irrehgiousness), 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.'^). Wormwood 
is a symbol in OT. of suffering, as the result of man's injustice 
(Am. 5' 6^^), or as divine punishment (Dt. 29^'^'^^^ Jer. g^^^^*^ 23'^ 
Lam. 3'^- ^^) 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^^ Death is here a place, = the 
realm of death, = Sheol. — Lead down to is lit, take hold on (as 
in 1/^17^)= cleave to, follow (or, keep) the path to. On Sheol 
see note on i'^. 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 tP"^ 4". 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 arc not firtnly fixed, paraphrase, with 
instead of to, incorrect division of the verse, and consequent inser- 

* See Celsius, Hierobotanicum ; Tristram, Survey ; J. H. Balfour, Plants of the 

V. 3-6 I05 

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 ways are unstable \_totter, reel, wander aim- 
lessly\, she knows not [or, thou knowest 7iot~\ ; that is, her ways 
are unstable in order that she tnay not [or, that thou mayest not'\ 
prepare the paths 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 e?iter on, walk in (Anc. Vrss.), or, ponder (Schult. 
RV. marg.). The last phrase of the verse, she ktiotvs 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^ ignorance is appropriately introduced, and cf \^ 35*), 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 does tiot make level the way of life ; there let all thy ways 
be made firm, here her paths are 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 of 
prepare, or may be changed to one meaning tread or enter, as in 
the Versions. We may, with probability, read : she prepares not 
a highway of life, her paths 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.^ 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 *> as in 42", \67oij 
(so S, only sing.), exc. H-P 23, 252, which have (l>povrja-€i. ^^ has doublet, 
first = @Boj. (vvith obel.), second = |§@^- ^-, the latter being correction after 
J^. Between ©^ and |§ it is not easy to decide; |^ is perh. favored by the 
parallelism. — 2. To na^'? Bi. appends suff. 1, which is proper (as subj.), 
though not necessary in poetical style. SST, taking 'o as subj., render 'cS by 
Pass. Impf. and insert 3 before '::. — 1§ mar::; (5 ewoiav dyadriv, — In '' 
(gBN*(vid) S,i<rd7]a-is 5^ i/xuv x^'^^'^" ivr^Werai <roi=m'' "f? ^noir 'ii (Jag., 
adopted by Bi.); the other MSS. of (S &i(r0r]<nv . . . ipr^Wofial (roi = 
niSN . . .; on the objection to this reading and that of J^ see note above. 
The passage should perhaps stand as follows (of. 2^^- ^^) : 

T^sj^ npTi HDtD Tioiyn 
np^Snn nnoN nnsjD mi .ib'nd -\h>irh 

Or, the first half only of second line may be inserted, and we shall then have 
a couplet quaternary-ternary. — 3. (3 (and so substantially 3L) prefixes /xr; 
7rp6(rexe 4>av\ri yvvaiKl, = n'?iix nrxS 2'w'p."i Sn, against which the objection 
based on the rhythm seems decisive, though some such connecting phrase (see 
note on v.^ above) is necessary. — |^ n-ii; (g irbpvqs, = hjt, or free rendering 
of ^. — ^ \''^n; % fiitidius (= more shining or sleeker), free trans, of J^, or 
perh. from some form of '?'^n. — |^ JC^'n; @ irphs Kaipbv apparently (Lag.) 
for irpb i\alov; S9 vivip iXaiov; for abv read rbv (Jag.). — Bi. improperly 
omits njoB.i, which is required by the usage of language. — The primitive 
sense of in (for ijn) palate is uncertain, perh. a narrow aperture or passage 
(Ges. Thes., Dillm. Lex. Ling. Aeth., cf. pjn, pjj?) ; the vb. is denom., = in 
Arab, to rub a chihVs 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^), dedicate a 
private residence (Dt. 20*) or a temple (i K. 8^^) ; cf. note on 22^; the proper 
name li:n (if it be Heb.) may, like Arab, "i^jn, mean a man of experience or 
wisdom. Cf. Lane, Lex.; BDB. — On ST see Lag., Pink. — 4. Instead of |§ as 
(3) @ has than (d = id) ; cf. Heb. 4^2 ^ jj^s jn in both clauses, ST in *) only; 
there was confusion between 3 and D in the Heb. MSS. (easy in either the old 
or the square script). — At end of * (S rhetorically adds eypTjcretj, and ,S makes 
suff. to nnnN plu., referring to its words in v.^ (|^ in). — 5. On the para- 
phrasing text of (5 see notes of Jag., Lag. ; it paraphrases suff. in niSji, takes 
nmi as Hif., has tn before nc, and Nif. of "(DP, before which it inserts neg.; 
S2C Gr. "JED; IL penetrant; S^ nro (= ®); Bi. writes "Pi 'x sing.; there is 
no reason for changing |§, unless, as in 2^^, preps, be inserted before nin and 

V. 6 


Swr, though these may stand as objectives without preposition. — 6. J^ ]s is 
unintelligible; the connection requires a neg. (perh. '!'^), as all Anc. Vrss. take 
it. Succeeding interpretations have been various. Talmud, A/oe(^ Katon, g a : 
do not ponder the path of life (that is, to discover the precepts, obedience to 
vi^hich is most rewarded by God) ; Rashi : do not ponder the way of the life of 
the woman, for all her paths lead to death; Schultens (connecting it with 5'') : 
(she plunges into Sheol) lest perchance she should ponder, etc., and possibly 
repent (a result which she wishes to avoid) ; C. B. Mich. : (her ways wander) 
lest thou ponder, etc. ; Ew. al. : lest she ponder ; Nowack, Strack : that she 
may not enter on ; Kamp. : that she may miss ; De. (adopting an untenable 
translation of jo) : she is far from entering; Noyes: she gives no heed to ; 
Frank, omits the line as incapable of satisfactory translation, but thinks that 
® gives the sense properly. The objections to jd 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 1523 (]>'sS, cited by Now.), 
see note on that verse. — f§ mN; S >s'>"*^'> miswriting of NmiN (Vogel), — 
1^ D>fl.i; @ freely iw^pxerai (and so S^) ; 3L aitibulant, referring to pedes 
V.*, or to gressus v.^; Gr. ^'^D.1 subvert. ^ may be retained. — J^ y-\r\ n':' is 
omitted by Bi. as marring the parallelism; it is rhythmically and in sense 
inappropriate. The Vrss. represent J^; <3 (foil, by ,S1L) Kal ovk evyvua-Toi 
(referring to Tpox'at)' — ^^'^ knows them not ; ST, reproducing |^ exactly (only 
pref. 1) Kyi' n'71; ^c\i\i\t, haud curat, and so most later expositors (as RV.) 
she knows (or, observes') it not; C. B. Mich.: so that thou knowest not (where 
thou art). Some expression here seems required by the rhythm, and we may 
doubtfully emend to ubi (4^^). 

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

7. Now, therefore « my son,' hearken to me. 
And depart not from the words of my mouth. 

8. Keep thy path far from her. 

Go not near the door of her house; 

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

10. Lest strangers enjoy thy substance, 
And thy labors (go to) an alien's house; 

11. And thou groan at last. 

When thy body and flesh 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. so/is, 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.® is ternary-binary; v.^^ is ternary. More 
particular statement of the loss she inflicts. Our Heb. text reads : 
9. Lfsf thou give up thine hofior to others and thy years to the cruel 
[or to a cruel one^, 10. lest strangers be filled with thy strefigth, 
and thy labors {go) into an alien's house. The strength of v.^" = 
wealth, as in Job 6*- (RV. substajice) . In v.® (which seems in- 
tended to express the same thought as v.^") 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.^ 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^® 8^*) . The reference (cf. 

V. 7-13 109 

v/) cannot be to the punishment of death for adulterers ordained 
in the IsraeUtish law (Ez. i6*^ 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 
(Ew.) ; no such provision exists in the OT. law. It is simply 
that the Hcentious 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 morahst 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. in thy aftertiffie 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.^- ^**, loss of wealth involving or 
expressing loss of all that makes life enjoyable. — Grk. : and thou 
repent at last when the flesh of thy body is consumed, a reading which 
represents sHght 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- 
qXsqx flesh of body. — 12,13. Synonymous, ternary, hit. my heart 
(= myself) has despised (v.^), and lent (lit. inclined) mine ear to 
mine instructors {y}% The Heb. prefixes how to the whole quat- 
rain, the sense being : how have I hated . . . despised . . . how 
have I not listened . . . and not inclined !, an awkward form of 
expression in EngUsh (RV. has an ungrammatical sentence in 
v.'^'', and drops the how in v.^^) . Heb. employs this how as in- 


troduction to laments (2 Sam. i^ Zeph. 2^" Ez. 26" Isa. 14* i^* 
Lam. i^ 2^ Jer. 48^^) with the sense how latnentable the case .', here 
how foolish I was /, 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^-^. — 
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 B.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.^- ^^) 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 occnrs, in 13'^ i/' 10*^ 27^ ; 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 Israehtish community appears to have exer- 
cised judicial and executive powers (Dt. 17^ 21 Lev. 24^^) 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^^*) ; he sees that he came near losing 
his life or suffering some other overwhelming punishment ; cf. Ben- 
Sira 23^^ It is obvious that the point here is different from that 
of v.^- ^'^, 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. Schiirer, yewish People, 2, 2, § 31. 

V. 13-14 III 

7. ^ C'J3; (S vU; read 'J3, as in v.'- 20^ and make the vbs. sing. — 
8. 1^ 7\>'^-;r:; @ ciTr' avTijs; Bi. unnecessarily njDC. — 1§ nrp and nij written 
by (3 (in several different forms) plu., by Heb. or Grk. scribal inadvertence. 
— 9. |§ "iin; Sg; S\t; @ fw^f, which may perh. represent ^^ taken (like 133, 
see Dillm.'s note on Gen. 49^, Geiger, Urschrift, p. 319) as = soul (Lag.), but 
more probably is rendering of •'N-i, which is favored by the parallel rji', © ^[ov; 
Oort Jin, which Gr. regards as the Heb. text of S (cf. Pink.), and it should 
probably here be read instead of J^ in. — ^ ^tdn, emend to noj; @ aviKt- 
Tilxo<TLv (and so SIL) ; 21 here and 1 1" pNijij (= Heb. n^j), regarded by Vog. 
as scribal error for j^niidx, by Baumg. for Nnuj (so 17^^); the connection 
favors ST. — 10. |^ p (lacking in (^^ ^^^) is omitted by Lag. as bad Heb., 
since the force of the part, in v.^ may extend through v.^''; but such repetition 
is rhetorically permissible. — The Vrss. properly supply a vb. \n^; |^ is poeti- 
cally concise. With use of hd as = wealth cf. similar use of S'n. — 11. |^ .-^cnj ; 
(5 (followed by S), not so well, fi.eTatie\t]dT}ari, = ncnj. — 1§ ^n1■^^^ta; Clem., 
Strom. 122, iwl yqpws (and so S), regarded by Lag. as the genuine text of ©, 
fTr' ecrxaTWJ' being revision. — The trdpKes crcbiMards ffov of© (adopted by Bi.) 
is rhetorically not so good as |^. Geiger, Urschrift, p. 418, supposes that the 
original text had rhi instead of n'73. — 12. The diff. between |^ nnDi.n and 
@ iXiyxovs is one of pointing (in 6^^ |^ has plu. and (& sing.), and there is 
little choice between them. (3^- ^^- ^ Constitt. 98 Arab, but not Aeth. (Lag.), 
add SiKaluv, an addition natural but not found elsewhere. — 13. In nSi omit 1, 
with @. Instead of ^ip2 a number of MSS. have Sip'?, which is perh. better. — 
Lag. points out that the reading of @^ "'■ -jraidevovrds fie Kal diSdffKovrds fie is 
the original Grk. (though not the translation of the original Heb.), and that 
of @^<»^-, conformed to the Heb., a correction. — 14. |^ a-;^D; (S Trap 6\lyov; 
A ws dXlyov; Schol. ip ^paxuriTtfi; % pene ; SiZT '?''73 -\y ■wholly; Gr. emends 
to DXDJ despised. — S^T p^o takes y-\ 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 two parts, the 
first (v.^^'^) figurative, the second (v.'^^) 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. Drink water from thine own cistern, 
Running water from thine own well. 

16, Should thy springs be scattered abroad? 
Thy streams of water in the streets? 


17. Let them be 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,t 
Be thou ever ravished with her love. 

20. Why shouldest thou [] + 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'^) into which water falls or 
flows from without and in which it remains motionless ; in the 
well (Nu. 21^^-^*) 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. 21^°, Koran 2^^) ; there is no reference to children 
in the paragraph. The basis of the figure is given in Isa. 36^^ 
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. 51M 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. 12® also 
cistern stands in a general way for Ufe. § A close approach to the 
wording of our verse is found in Cant. 4'*, in which the heroine is 
called a garden-fountain, a well of living water, of streams from 
Lebanon (and cf. v.^), that is, a source of refreshing and enjoy- 

« Heb. : blessed. 

t On the omission of first line of v.i9 see note on this verse below. 

X Heb. inserts my son. 

§ In Eccl. 12^ the emendation cistern (ni3) or well (iN3), =wife, instead of 
creator (Nin), is not favored by the connection, and is, on rhetorical grounds, 
extremely difficult if not impossible; probably iiiub. laia is orthodox scribal 

V. 15-17 113 

ment (the similarity of expressions in Pr. and Cant., here and 
elsewhere, suggests that one of these books drew from the other). 
— Grk., by a slight change of text, has drink luaters out of thine 
own vessels (dyyetwi^), and in NT. (i Th. 4* i Pet. 3') vessel 
(a-Kevo^) = wi/e ; the latter term represents the body as the locus 
or instrument of the soul or of service, and often = person, but 
the Grk. 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. BS. 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.'^ and in v.'^-° 
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.^*^- '", as v}* gives that of v.'''. The 
sense is : seek not thy pleasure in the streets (from harlots, see 
7^-), fi-om all sorts of sources {scattered abroad). Springs and 
streams symbolize sources of enjoyment, and particularly such as 
are commonly outside of one's house-land ; while cistern and well, 
\}^ (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 
(thy streams will be [or, let thy streams be] spread abroad), adopted 
by a number of expositors (from Aquila and Saadia on), is held 
to mean "thou shalt 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" (Ew., De., al) ; 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). — Grk. : let 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.^*, = " 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 Uteral 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.^^- ^®, is explained in second cl. as = wife, as source of 
physical pleasure. The Heb. reads : let thy foimtain 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 \vife as one''s 
own with the harlot as stranger, and there is probability in the 
Grk. reading let thy fountaiii be thine own or for thee alone 
(which represents a slight modification of our Heb. text) (cf. 
v."). The fountain of Lev. 12" 20^* 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 t 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. 

t For ex., by Leroy-Beaulieu, Israel chez Us nations, Ch. VII. 

V. I7-20 115 

Expansion of second line of v,^*. As first line of v.^^ the Heb. 
has: Lovely hind, 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. Bickell, insert- 
ing one word, writes the verse as a quatrain : Lovely hind, charm- 
ing wild goaf. Let her breasts intoxicate thee, Let her always make 
thee quiver, Be ever ravished with her love ; but the inserted word 
is doubtful and improbable. — The hind is some variety of deer 
(Dt. 12^^), probably red or fallow. The wild goat (i Sam. 24^^^^ 
Job 39^ \^ i04'*)> an inhabitant of the rocks, is gray in color, and 
of great agility and grace ; it is said to be still found at Engedi, 
where David's men may have hunted it ; the renderings roe (RV.) 
and gazelle (Strack, Kamph., al.) are liardly 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 bosotn of v.-". — The Targum interprets 
the wife as = the law : wisdom lear7i thou always, and to love of 
it ever strenuously apply thyself. — 20. 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 : why wilt thou be ravished with (or, fascinated by), etc.?, 
that is, seeing thou wilt certainly be punished for such conduct 
(v.^\ but see note on that verse below). — The address my son in 
the Heb. is rhythmically hard, is not found in the Grk., and is bet- 
ter omitted. — With this section cf BS. 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 

* See Tristram, Fauna, etc., in Survey of West. Pal. 


teachers of the time did not take the higher view of the marriage- 
relation ; of. 3i«^^ BS. 26'-"- ^^^-^ 3623(28). 

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 are before the eyes of Yahweh, 
And he weighs all his paths. 

22. 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 tmcovered before hini). 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^' ^2^ 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.^^ and the following verses is not clear. V.^^ 
regards all men, good and bad, v.^^- ^-^ regard bad men only. The 
insertion of the words the wicked, in vP, appears to show that the 
reference in the him 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 him had been expressed. 
The same thing is true of the his in first line of v.^^ — it has now 
no expressed antecedent. It follows either that v.^^ 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. f Heb. : go astray. 

V. 21-23 117 

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 Heb. has shall 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 Grk.). The rendering (obtained by 
changing the text) his ozun iniquities shall catch the wicked is pos- 
sible but syntactically hard. Possibly we should read : the wicked 
shall be caught i7i his iniquities, or, less probably (with Grk.) : 
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 i'*- ^^ — 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 passitn. 
Further, death is the outcome of sin, see i^^, etc. The parallel- 
ism, with comparison also of such couplets as i^^ seems to require 
the sense perish in second cl. (so one reading of the Grk.). 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 utter ruin (Noyes, Reuss, De., al.), a 
sense which the Heb. verb nowhere else has, or wander froin the 
path of life (Wild.), for which pregnant sense there is no author- 
ity. — V.21-23, as regards the idea, constitute a separate paragraph, 
which, however, does not give the expected quatrain-form ; some 
critics, therefore, attach v.-^ to \?-^ (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? or v.' or v.^^), or by the expansion of one couplet 
into two (see note on v.^^). 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. 


16. S^IIL as f^, and so IL in »; in *> ®, followed by IL, substantially = ?§. — 
J§ iO; <S dyyeluv, which may be free rendering of |^, giving the sense 
drink from thy driuking-vessel, or may represent do, hardly = 'Sj (Heid.), 
which would be graphically hard; Lag. refers © to Syr. -\^^:, graphically easy, 
and in Geopon. 23'* a/. = dyyetov (and cf. Payne-Smith, Thes., Syr.'); the 
usual sense of the Aram, word is hive (of bees), but Jewish Aram. .t\id occurs 
with the more general meaning box, pot (see the references in Buxt., Levy, 
Jastrow). — 16. Of (5 MSS. B alone inserts ^t} before the vb. in *; the sense 
thus obtained is correct, but the insertion of the neg. in |§ is unnecessary (see 
note on v.'^ above). Whether ni) belongs to the Grk. original is doubtful; 
Lag. thinks that ht] VTvepeKx^iffdu} represents a single Heb. word (a view not 
supported by the oiiK ipelderai of v.^). — The insertion of vdara in » was made 
necessary by the reading of a in "i\'^j'';'a as prep. ; in ^ 'jSd was understood 
as vb. — 18. 1^ 1113; <3 I5ia (whence Chrys. v. 98 a/. fJ^vip), probably = iioS 
(Vog.), as in v.^^, after which ||J should probably be emended; Heid. improb- 
ably T^a, out of 1113 ; Bi. emends pj to -\-}p, after v.^*; Oort thinks it probable 
that the Grk. transl. read ^ib (let thy fountain be thy cistern) and gave a free 
rendering; Oorl's own reading Tib beneficent hardly suits the idea of the para- 
graph, in which the soleness of the wife is the theme. — f§ '"'^'f^^* for which 
12 Heb. codd. and one cod. of 2C (De' Rossi) have '.vd, © yuerd and so SilL 
Arab., the commoner construction, and possibly the right reading here and 
elsewhere (Eccl. 2^^ 2 C. 20-'); Midr. Mishle has c, Shohar Tob 2. — 
19. in'' is the reading of the Occident, recension, and the Q of the Orient., 
which as K. has i^ti (Ginsb.). For r\wr\ 3 codd. of De' Rossi have nju'.-i 
increase, prob. scribal error. The Vrss. find difficulty in construction and 
sense. (5 fills out " with d/xiXelru) croc, in '' has idia ("ii:i^?) for n^ii, and ijyel- 
(t6w (mi?) and <tvv^<ttu} (u'ti?) for n-' (Lag.) (but these terms may be 
merely allegorizing paraphrases), in " renders i^cn by ttoXXoo-tAj cVtj. S 
writes nnmiN in *>, either allegorizing or reading n>2-\i for nm. ^ allegorizes 
throughout; only AS (and doubtless 9) IL Arab, follow J§ literally. Bi., tak- 
ing avvi<TT(i3 ffOL as = i*? >np, inserts l^pn before n^ ^22, thus gaining an 
additional line, parallel to the *= of |^, an attractive emendation if the sense 
required (intoxicate) could be shown to belong to Hif. of '^yi; see note on 
this verse above. The text of fij is to be retained in bc^ but it is doubtful 
whether » formed part of the original Heb. ; see n. on this v. above. The 
emendation nm for r\''-\-\_ (Hitz., al.) is not necessary; cf Geiger, Urschrift, 
397 ff. — 20. |§ njrri, in 3 codd. ■•CT'; © 7roXi>j, == Aram. njuT ; cf. BS. 9*. 
9E n~\'^T\ lead astray, S N>'i3."i go astray. — pn is omitted in B-D by typo- 
graphical error. — 21. Nin should be inserted before 0*^00. — 22. Omit PK 
vmn as scribal explicitum, with (§; the termination of the vb. 'S^ is j_, not 
1J-. — © (SvSpo, whence Bi. u'.vn, which is not probable; dvdpa seems to be 
merely explicit expression of the Heb. suffix. Possibly we should read : 'j-ya 
V-i-in laSi (cf. 62 116 Eccl. 726). — 23. Nin, supported by the Vrss., gives un- 
necessary emphasis, and has perh. got into this place by scribal transposition 
from V.21. — @ /xerdi airaidfVTuv, perh. error for dia diraidevaiav, as 2 has it. — 

VI. 1 19 

15 niz'\ weak and inappropriate, perh. scribal repetition from v.^^^ — we expect 
a vb. like nna' or i2n or better jju, which occurs along with nis in Job 3^1 4^''; 
the change of yir into ny^^ is graphically not very difficult, (g i^epl(l>ri perh. 
= "|S!:'i or is'ip. For its /3i6r7jTos (which stands in the place of inViN) Schl. 
suggests ■^\i6i6Tir)ros. © adds the line Kal dirJikeTo di d.(ppO(T6vrjv, which 
Jiiger, Baumg., take as rendering of », Schl., Lag., more probably as rend, of ^ 
(Schl. writes 81a, iro\\r]u airoO d^p.), and the vb. air. 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.'"^ : against going security for others ; v.^" : against 
sloth ; v.^^^^ : against mischief-making ; v.^^^^ : against seven sins. 
In tone these closely resemble 2 2^'-24^ and 30"'^', with which 
they obviously belong. Since they interrupt the course of thought 
in chs. 1-9, it is not hkely that they were here inserted by the 
author of this Division ; they were probably misplaced by an editor 
or scribe, and 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, self- 
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. 11^^ 17'* 20^" 22^® 27", 
BS. 29'*-'^; in favor of suretyship is BS. 29**'^^. Commercial lend- 
ing is to be distinguished from lending to the poor and unfortu- 
nate (Ex. 22^'^^' \{/ sf^), though borrowing is regarded in 22" as a 


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

2. Hast snared thyself by thine own dips,' * 
Trapped thyself by the words of thy mouth, 

* Heb. : iAe 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.^ ternary, v.^ (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 ha?id, refer- 
ence to a legal procedure for concluding a bargain (cf. 2 K. 10'^). 
In v.^* lips (instead of the words 0/ 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 a?tother (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^ Ex. 2'^ 20''' Pr. 6^, etc., for the second 
I K. 3''' Job 15^^ Pr. 5^°, 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. \\ cf. Nah. 3^^). 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 ^if/ down into the ?nire (see Ez. 34^*, and cf. Pr. 25-^). 

* Heb. adds (probably from v.S) : and free thyself. t Heb. : hand. 

vr. T-5 121 

The connection favors the meaning violently bestir thyself (RV. 
marg. bestir thyself), act impetuously or move quickly (so the 
Vulg.). Grk. : Do, my son, what I bid thee, and save thyself — 
for thou art come into the hands of bad men on thy friend's ac- 
count — be not slack, but sharply assail thy frie7id also for whom 
thou 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, hnportune 
(RV.) is hardly strong enough ; beset, besiege, or assail better 
express the impetuosity involved in the Heb. term. Then (RV. 
now) is illative, not temporal ; so in Ex. 33'*' Job 9^ 1 7^* al. — 
4, 5. Synonymous, v.^ ternary-binary, v.^ ternary. Continuation 
of exhortation. In v.^" the Heb. has simply from the hand (so 
Vulg.), and RV. (as AV.) 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 BS. 
2720^ — xhe animal named in v.^* is a deer (Dt. 12^^), swift, an 
inhabitant of the plain (2 S. 2'*) and of the mountain (i C. 12*, 
perh. 2 S. i^^), a symbol of mascuHne beauty (Cant. 2^ 8"), and 
so is generally understood to be the gazelle ( Tabitha, Acts 9^, is 
the fem. 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 Pr., only one description of a business-transaction involving 
personal security (Neh. 5^''^, 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 preexilian 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 Ex. 22^-' Dt. 24^'^>^ — The surety was 
sometimes financially ruined by having to meet the obligations of 

*See Tristram, Wood, Nowack. 



the debtor (BS. 29^^-^^), 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.^ 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^^*^, 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^-^ = 
lit. 6^" ". 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.^ must be intro- 
duced before v.^ in order to connect the conclusion with what 
precedes. Bickell so transfers v.^, and omits v.^''" as identical 
with 24^ ^ ; 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. 221-2. 

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. 



How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? 

When wilt thou rise from thy slumber? 

A little sleep, a little slumber, 

A little folding of the hands to rest — 

So shall thy poverty come as a highwayman. 

And thy want as an armed man. 

VI. 5-8 123 

6. Progressive, ternary. Cf. 30^. On the ant in proverbial 
literature see Malan on this verse.* On the habits of the animal 
see Encyl. Brit., Darwin in Journ. of Linnaean Soc. VI. 21, Lub- 
bock, Ants, Bees, and Wasps. What particular species is here 
meant is uncertain; cf. Tristram, Nat. Hist, of the Bible. — The 
term sluggard appears to belong to the parenetic vocabulary of 
OT. ; it occurs only in Proverbs. But the observation of the 
habits of the ant and its use as an example of industry may be 
old; cf. I K. 4^ (s")- — 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. 3") ; the second 
denotes a sort of roll-officer, who keeps a hst of names and super- 
intends the men at their work, in peace or in war (Ex. 5^ Dt. 20^ 
2 Chr. 19") ; the third is a general term for ruler, royal or other 
(i K. 4-' [5^] Isa. 16' Jer. 51**'). — 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 Anini., I. i. 11, calls them anarchal, with- 
out government), though AeHan (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. Grk. 
makes it a triplet, and possibly some word or phrase has fallen out 
of the Heb. text. — 8. Synonymous, ternary. The vbs. provide 
(lit. establish, prepare^ and gather here amount to the same thing, 
and the nouns /^^r/ and provision are synonyms. The word ren- 

* De. mentions also Goldberg, Chofes Matmonim, and Landsberger, Fabulae 
aliquot Aramaeae. 


dered summer is sometimes used for the warm season in general, as 
opposed to whiter (Gen. 8^^ \^ 74^0, extending apparently through 
harvest-time (Jer. 8^"), sometimes for the latter part of the fruit- 
season (Isa. 28* Jer. 40^°). Hatiiest also is temporally indefinite, 
varying with the crop, from March (barley, 2 S. 21^) to September 
(grapes, Isa. 18*). 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 paralleHsm 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 does her 
wfl?-k — her products kings and private persons use for health — 
she is desi?-ed 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 
unmentioned. Elsewhere in OT. (Isa. 7'^ Dt. i^ \\i 118^^) 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. eai-ly 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^". 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. 8-12 125 

fies stupid inactivity. — 11. Synonymous, ternary. Highwayman 
is roadster, wayfarer, the implication being that his purpose is 
bad ; the term, hke Eng. highwayvian, belongs to a time when 
travelling was not safe, when men who frequented the public roads 
were likely to be robbers (cf. RV.). Artned tnan, lit. ma}i with 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 shieldman 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 thou be diligent, thy harvest 
will come 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, 

13. Winks with his eyes, scrapes with his feet, 
Signs with his fingers, 

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." appears as merely one 
item in the indictment, but the paragraph may also be translated : 
a wicked man . . . dealing with . . . winking . . . scraping . . . 
signitig . . . devisi7ig . . . is always sowing 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. tnan of belial) 
occurs in 16^ 19^, the second (Heb. man of badness or iniquity) 
in 6^* io23 17^ etc. The term belial usually means deep depravity 


(not merely worthtessness) ; in two passages, y\i i8*^*^ 41*^®', appar- 
ently utter ruiti (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 defined in v.^^- " ; 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 lo^'^ BS. 27^^ 
as sign of mischief, in \p 35^^ 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 j/(?«/^i- (RV.) is here inappropriate, though the verb elsewhere 
has that meaning. Signing (lit. teaching) with the fngers is a 
universal gesture, of various import, here mischievous, contemptu- 
ous, etc. ; for the sense show see Gen. 46^^ Ex. 15^. For other 
inimical movements of the body see Job 16^"^". 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 disturbajices in the city, a fuller statement of what the Heb. 
suggests. In the Heb. text the verse reads : Evil is in his ttiind 
[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^^, evil a.nd wrong. — 15. Synonymous, quaternary. The 

VI. I2-I6 127 

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-*^. The two Heb. 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. broketi, = 
destroyed; see Jer. 17^^ Ez. 32^^ Lam. i^^ Dan. 8^. 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 God 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^^), 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 30""^' in its arithmetical enumeration, and to 
gi2-i5 jj^ j|.g subject-matter and rhetorical form (absence of com- 
parisons) ; by the nature of its contents it appropriately follows 
y^i2-i5_ The things enumerated belong all together ; they portray 
the character of the man who schemes to despoil and ruin his 


16. There are six things that Yahweh hates, 
Yea, seven are an abomination to him : 

17. Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, 

And hands that shed innocent blood, 

18. A mind that devises wicked schemes. 
Feet that make haste to do harm,* 

19. A false witness who utters lies, 

And he who sows discord among 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 seven, arithmetically indefinite, im- 
plying that the enumeration does not exhaust the list of things 

* Heb. : make haste to run to harm. 


coming under a particular category ; cf. notes on 30''- '^ Between 
the expressions Yahweh hates and abomination to him there is no 
difference of meaning ; on abomination see note on 3^". The 
sense of the verse is : God hates and abominates a nu?nber of 
things, namely. — 17. Parallels, ternary. Haughty eyes; so 30^^ 
Haughtiness is naturally expressed by the eyes (cf. Lat. super- 
ci/ium); see \p 131. In i/' 18^^^^ the expression characterizes 
Israel's proud and oppressive enemies, whom Yahweh will bring 
down. More generally in Isa. 2"''^ 10'^ Job 21^^ 38^* 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. 19^" Jer. 1 9*; the meaning is the same. — 18. Parallels, ter- 
nary. The expression wicked sche7nes 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 mn (instead of walk) ; cf. \p 147^". The Grk. omits 
run, reading /^^/ hastening to do ill ; cf. i'^, 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."^, 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- 
ing of first cl. is plain, but its form is doubtful. In 14^ where the 

VI. i6-i9 129 

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 Eccl. i^*, 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, t which accords in form with the rest of the section. 
For the thought cf. 12" 14*-^ and 19*' 25^*; for laws against false 
testifying see Ex. 2o'« (== Dt. s^") Dt. 19^^ Lev. 6^ (522). The 
expression witness of falsity (as the Heb. reads) is parallel to 
tongue of falsity in v.^^. 

1. 1^ 'J3, attested by all Vrss., omitted by Bi., as marring the rhythm; 
without it we have only two ictus in the line. — The force of the on, which 
extends to end of v.^, is confined by @ to v.K — |^ plu. \Bp; read sing., with 
®<S2riL, as the sense requires. — 2. Taken by <B as ground (yap) for the 
statement of v.^'' (TrapaSiio-fis), and written in 3 pers. — a divergent text which 
does not agree with the context so well as |^. — The repetition of nns in |§ is 
strange, and so also the similar repetition, x^^^Vi x^^'^f <''"'> in @; as the xefXr; 
prob. had a Heb. basis, it is better to write ''rsz' in second line of |§; pri/J-affi 
inst. of xf^^-7 is given in H-P 147 (161 suprascript.), 252, 297, and Compl. 
(and X67V in Arm.), which may be a correction after |§, or a rhetorical varia- 
tion. On Idlov = iavToO see Deissmann, Bibelstud., pp. 120 ff. — 3. J§ '^.^^T'S 
see note on v^. — In » (5 a ^701 aoi. ivT^Wofxai seems to be free rendering 
of 5§ KiDX HNr, hardly = TIXN; eh x^^'pas KaKwv in *>, = D^i ^132, is prob. doub- 
let (possibly the orig. Grk. reading), the |^ text being represented by dia crbv 
(piXov; Iffdi (in <^) is perh. scribal error for tdi, which reading is found in codd. 
B^i>A (see Lag.'s n.). — J§ D.?'}~!^; ® l^-V iK\v6ix€vos, "h /(stina; SST render 
the two vbs. of |§ freely by '^ijn jij arouse therefore, apparently giving no 
separate word for |§ n; and in * nibn is not rendered at all. ivi and iv"», 
difference of orthography. To make the reference in I'jr-t clear @ adds 
o ive-yviiffU}. — 4. Gr. suggests 3 pers., instead of 2 pers., for the suffix. — 
5. ^ lie, here impossible (used in rabbin. Heb. as = offhand, immediately) ; 
the expression occurs isolated elsewhere only i K. 20*2 where it is error for 

* Ew., De., Now., Zock., Str., Kamph. t RV. Noyes, Reuss. 




'\^''^D (see (&); here we must either supply a word, as tix (RV., Bott.) or na 
(Gr., Str.), or better, with ^^K, Oort, Bi., write no for i"; Kamp. transfers 
the 1 of niflpi to -f\ . . . as a gazelle from his hand, as a bird, etc., which is 
simple, but does not account for (5 j3p6xw«' or secure parallelism with ti'-ip"'; 
this last is omitted in (SSC but is favored by the rhythm. For the second ■!> 
several Heb. codd. have ns. — 6-11. The style of @ 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^ hSd:, @ fivp/xT]^, 5C pc'Diu' or pu-ir, S icriw' (Arab, cpco); 
the origin of the Heb. word is unknown. — The ^rjXuffov and iKelvov (Toipihre- 
pos of (3 are rhetorical expansion. — f^ -\^; SST paraphrase by Nmnn imitate. 
S omits |§ ^s>, and transfers njni to next verse. — 7. |^ Vi?', ® yeupylov, not 
= Aram. j-iOp (Lag.), but free rendering of n^xp (which SST read instead of 
pxp). — 1^ lab-; X ypafifiaria. — 8. The variation of vb. -forms is rhetorical. 
— On the terms in the addition in (g see Lag.'s note. — 9. |§ oipn; (gABxoi 
iyepd'^cry, as in Ju. 2^^-^% perh. = y^pn, of. Pr. 6^2. — 10. Oort suggests that 
2DV^ is dittogram from 3Dr.n S of preceding verse, but the word is in sense 
and rhythm appropriate; it was perh. lacking in Heb. text of <S, hardly (Oort, 
Baumg.) read D^'itr'? (^(rTTjdr}) ; cf. Pinkuss' note. — <& makes the v. an ad- 
dress to the sluggard, and in ^ has an additional cl., 6\lyov bi Kadrjaai, = a;'0 
2yy, probably expansion of Grk. scribe (the Heb. rhythm is against it) or here 
introduced by error from ^ (cf. remark above on 23'^V). — 11. H l^nc, writ- 
ten iSnnD in 24^*. — ti'N-i (ii'n), a favorite word in Pr., though ijy (u ), 
pox, S^", also occur a number of times. — The v. is variously rendered in the 
Vrss. H nSnn is explained in ® as /ca/cds 6doLir6poi, and is taken by SST, 
against the parallelism, as vb,, ^3-^1m will assault thee ; J§ }JD B"n, <& ayadbs 
dpofievs (and in the added couplet /ca/c6s dpofievs), S® NTHVa N13J a quick 
{alert') tnan, = JC3 V'i< (Lag., Oort) or better inn tt'w (Baumg.), neither of 
which readings seems preferable to that of |^ (with which IL agrees). The 
additional couplet in (5 is doublet of |§; on its Heb. text see Hitz., Lag., 
Baumg. In 24^* (& (like SE) renders 'd by irpoiropevoixivq, and in *> SE have 
NiP^a tabellarius, courier (= dpofievi). ^ appears to have in mind the vio- 
lence of the armed robber, (S^'^E the swiftness of the traveller or courier. — 
12. |§ a^^? is not elsewhere followed by defining subst., and De., Str., therefore 
take '^y^'^3 as adj. (cf. constr. in 11^), but, as this is hardly allowable, we must 
either write c'>i<, as in 162'', or accept this phrase as proof that aix may be fol- 
lowed by defining subst. — |^ ^'H^^; for the two defining terms (of |^) <& has 
&(f)pwv and irapdvofw^ (i03> 253: irapdv. and &(pp(i)v), and '3 may here be rep- 
resented by the latter (which is its more usual representative); Si t^hoD folly ; 
2C ND'ra oppression; BL apostata (so elsewhere Aq.). SySa 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.), z.r\A — wickedness every- 
where except Nah. i^^ 2^ ^ 18^ (= 2 Sam. 22^) 41^, where it = ruin, destruc- 
tion (= death). The origin of the word is doubtful. It has commonly been 
regarded as a compound, the first element being the neg. 'hi, the second ele- 

VI. 5-14 131 

ment being Sij?, or some form of r\h'; or hy\ An early Jewish explanation is 
reflected in the apostate of Aq. IL, = Si? 1*73 without yoke, disobedience (so 
Sanhed, \\\b). From rh'): one does not ascend, = moral lowness (Kimchi); 
or, one does not rise (or, emerge^), = ruin (so Lag., Proph. Chald. XLVII, 
on ^ 41^ : [sickness] from which one does not rise, suggesting 13-! instead 
of i^-i) ; and, more generally, [the depth] from which one does not come up 
(Cheyne, Expositor, June, 1895, Baethgen, Halevy), = Sheol (JDMichaelis). 
From '?>■' : no profit, = worthlessness (like nj?T i'?^ ignorance, and db' ■hi 
namelessness, and cf. 'r>'' n'^, Jer. a^^, = worthless [foreign] god), in moral 
sense, like ps (Gesen. 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); '3 ^Vru 
{\p 18^) would then = streams of Sheol, and '3 "i^'js = servants of Bilil, = 
"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 \p 18^ (if the i/' be postexilic) an original Si'?3 Bilil 
( = Sheol) was changed by an editor into the familiar ^•;^^z purposely or by 
error. Yet the meaning ruin (= death) accords satisfactorily with the parallel 
terms in the \p, and the character of the deity Bilil is at present too uncertain 
to rest an argument on. Cf. Mich., Supplementa, s.v. '?>•'; Baudissin in Herzog, 
J?E^., and in Expos. Times, November, 1897; Cheyne m Expos. Times, Decem- 
ber, 1897, May, 1898; Moore, Judges, on Ju. icf^^. The derivation from the 
noun V>'i appears to be the most probable; the two elements came to be writ- 
ten as one word, like nicSi-. Cf. the various combinations with negatives in 
Heb. (-13T tih, ^D'j n"?), and the use of the Ass. balu, as noun = nonentity, as 
prep. = without. — Bef. nr>f|?j; ins. 3 (so Bi.). — 1§ ns -;•; @ 65oi>s oix ayadds, 
perh. after l6'^3 (Jag-); ^2 is omitted in S, and Oort for '3 writes nr, which he 
transfers to next v. to represent (3 S' aiirdi . The stem '>, subst. or adj., 
occurs in |§ with way in 2^^ 28^, with heart ii^" 1720, with lip 19^ with mouth 
here and 4^*; i-n would here agree well with the following context, but no 
serious objection in this regard can be made to nrj; (g and |§ represent par- 
allel texts. — 13. K. py and ^i^, sing., and so ©; Q plu., perh. better; 
IL strangely oculis, pede, and digito. — 1§ S'^ID, @ arifxaivei, SC odp, % terii, 
Arpl^up, S Trposrpl^uv; the most appropriate sense is rub, 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. — 1§ mir, (3 diSda-Kei, 
&W m ; teach = shoiv, give indications (on relation between senses teach and 
throw in n-|i see SS., BDB.). — 14. J^ is supported by the Vrss., exc. that ® adds 

* As Underworld deity she appears only in a mutilated passage in the Descent 
of Ishtar, where she seems to be the sister of Ishtar (cf. 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 I " Otherwise only the fern, 
form Bililitum is found (G. A. Reisner) ; c£ M. Jastrow, Relig. of Babylonia and 
Assyria, pp. 417, 589. 


at end of ^ ir6\ei (H-P lo6 iroXX££j), perh. expansion of Grk. scribe, less prob- 
ably = nji03 (after |§ opu) or -\]} (from foil. ^•;). — As ^ ends with Partcp., 
there is some ground for so ending »■ 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.i^. — Saadia (ed. Derenbourg) takes Pi3onn in 
sense of change of mind. — K. d>j-<o, Q □•'jnp; sing, is always written jnc, 
plu. 3 times D'jiD (twice 6^^ lo^^, without Q), elsewhere K. c^jnc, Q D'jnD 
(a late, probably academic, attempt to bring out the Yod of the stem) ; on 
Mas. text see notes in B-D on 6i* 25-*, and on the form Ew., § 54^ 1604 
01s., § 203 b. — For rbv^ Gr. reads Z'r^^, whispers. — 15. (5 takes yPD and 
i3!f'' as substantives; in OT. 'd 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'8-24. 29) either pred., six things are those, with following rel. cl. (so 
apparently SSEIL), or as subj., six — they are zvhat Y. hates ; in ch. 30 the pron. 
is better taken as appositional subject. — For tt; (B read riy (Jag.), x^'P". 
and -\3^i (Lag. = i^i'i) or lats'j, ffwrpiperai, foryac (or yati'i). Read sing. 
P3J71P, as in marg. — 18. |§ V''i'^> lacking in @, is omitted by Lag. as scribal 
error (j-h wrongly written for 'yi':'), and by Bi, as tautological; it is not 
necessary, and is probably error (though the combination of ^'^\}'0 and yn is 
found in \}/ 147^^, and Y-\^ may easily have fallen out of the Heb. text of O). — 
19. n'fl", 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 14^ (where it 
is in good form), and should here be inverted, as inSlI; cf. 12^'. ny is taken 
as abstr. by Saad. Gr. The omission of IPS' ny would leave an unsatisfactory 
sentence. — "1 is well rendered in (gABai. by ^KKalei (H-P 103 iKx^ei). — nVtt'D, 
Gr. cnSc, as in v.^*. — oijiD, see note on v.i*; it is lacking in &. 

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.^ ^^), then apparently of wisdom (v.--^^), especially as safeguard 
against the adulteress who brings misfortune to her victim (v,^^^), 
he getting only wounds and dishonor (v.'''*'^) through the outraged 
husband's anger (v.^-^). The section is similar to 2^^^^ 5. 7. 8^^^*. 
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. 20-2I 133 

20, 21. Commendation of parental instruction. — See 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 {tora) usually rendered law. 
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 i^ 
3^-2-, etc. — The term continually is used of perpetually recurring 
or repeated acts (as the daily offering in the temple), and so = 
constantly, always, all the time ; see Isa. 57'^ Jer. 52^ i/r i6^ The 
plu. them may refer to precept and laiv (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" ^1-24 ^e ^4.5^ . ^^^^^ ^g 
the text stands, the it (or, she) of v.^^ has no such antecedent. 
We might (with Bickell) insert, at the beginning of v.", some 
such line as wisdom will keep thee ; but this would still leave the 
connection between v.^^ and v.^* unsatisfactory, for elsewhere (2'^ 
7^) it is not precept or instruction but ivisdotn or discretion that 
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.^^^-'^ and v.^'^^ ; Bickell gets rid of the 
latter of these by omitting v.^^, and of the former by attaching 
V.2* to v.^ (the objection to this procedure is stated above), 



making v,^^ a quatrain. — Abetter emendation would be to omit 
the doubtful couplets v.^^- ^, and make v.^^ a couplet by the omis- 
sion of third line ; and v.^^, 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.^) ; the two categories were prob- 
ably considered to be identical. Precept and instruction (syn- 
onyms) represent the teaching of the sage (cf. 4-), 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 29^ ; for the 
meaning see note on i^ ; and on admonition see note on i^ Way 
of life is the course of a long and prosperous earthly life, and the 
conduct that secures it; see 2^^ 3^ ^^ and i/' 16", and for similar 
expressions see Job 28" \\i 27'^ 36^*^°^ Pr. 10" 13''* 15* 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^*'* 4^^; in i// 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 i?istructiofi of v.^ (see remark above) ; the writer 

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

t Heb. bad (or, evil). 

VI. 21-25 135 

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." '^, 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 rumiest, 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 thou wakes t she will talk 
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^'^0. The addition may have been made by a 
scribe who, taking liest down (which is really contrast to walkest ) 
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 hfe 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 Grk. {married woma?i), and w.^ ; or the sense 
alien (as in 2^*^) 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 hcentious woman (or the professional 
prostitute), is mentioned in 6"" f^ 2-^ 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^''- '^ The social evil here por- 
trayed is more particularly appropriate to the postexilian period ; 
the preexihan shrine-prostitute (Gen. sS-^'^- Hos. 4" Dt. 2^"^^^) 
belongs to a very different sort of IsraeUtish 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. 
gisdD Job i6^« xj; II* Pr. 4^^ 6^ cf. 30^1 — Vulg. /.?/ ;w/ thy heart 
desire, etc. ; the Grk. interprets first cl., and writes second cl. in 
twofold form : kt 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 mai'ried 
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 7^", 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.^"^-). — Text and transla- 
tion of first cl. are doubtful. The Heb. reads either/^r 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 zs = on account of or by 
jneans of, and supply the expression 07ie [or, a man"} is brought 
down [or, comes down']* The objections to this interpretation 
are that the prep, does not mean on account of or by tneans 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 \_ofte 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*) , 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., De., Now., Reuss, Zock., Noyes, Str., 
Kamp., RV. 

VI. 25-26 137 

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. Either 
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 
hunts fust (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 B.C. may be inferred from the story in Jos. Ant. 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 conjecturally translate : 

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


For the price of a harlot is a morsel of bread, 
But the adulteress hunts the precious life. 

The rest of the chapter deals with the perils which beset the 
adulterer: first an illustration (v5-^), then a comparison with 
another crime (v.^, finally the ground of the peril (v.^**). 
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 
morahst 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 — 
WTioso 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^) 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 16^ the lot is cast into the 
lap. — 28. Question, ternary. For r^^A see 25^ 26-^; they were 
of wood (cf. \\i 120^); in Isa. 6^ a different word is used {hot 
stone). — 29. Single sentence, ternary. Go unp2inished or be 
held guiltless or free. Though the statement is general in form, 
the special reference, as appears probable from \P^, 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.^), 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.-"- ^, but it may be omitted without 
detriment to the sense, the consequence being stated in v.^-. 

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

* See note on 5I*. 


VI. 26-31 139 

to satisfy hunger. The latter may get off by a private money- 
payment (v.^" ^^), 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 he is hungry; 

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

32. But he who commits adultery is devoid of sense, 
He destroys himself who so acts. 

33. Blows 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. 

Nor be content though thou give many gifts. 

30, 31. The first couplet is a single sentence, ternary ; the sec- 
ond is synonymous, ternary. The Heb. reads : meri 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.^^) 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-" the thief is disgraced), and moreover, the sage 
here (v.^^) 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). We 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.^"-^^; and there is, further, the doubt 

* Cf. Loewenstein, Die Proverbien Salomos (183S), on this verse. 


whether this lenient view of the hungry thief is probable. — The 
first couplet may be read as a question (Hitz., Frank., alS) : 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.^ and v.^' 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^, if one should offer to give all the substance of 
his house for love, he would be utterly despised (that is, his offer 
would be rejected with contempt), might suggest the translation: 
men do not contemptuously repulse (= refect 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 
earhest law-book the rule is that the thief, when caught, shall pay, 
according to circumstances, double, fourfold, or fivefold (Ex. 22^ ^■" 
[21^ 22^-®]), and there are similar rules for fraud (Ex. 22^^^^ 
Lev. 6^^ [5^"^]) ; 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. 19^'*' Hos. 7^ Joel 2^ Job 4^-) ; 
for violent procedure other words* are employed. — V.^'* is ren- 
dered in Grk. Syr. Targ. // is not wonderful if, etc. ; Vulg. // is 
no great offetice, etc. ; these translations may be free renderings of 

VI. 31-33 141 

our Heb. 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 
destroys himself; how this is done is indicated in the following 
verses. The rendering destroys his own soul (RV. al.) 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 destroy himself so acts (Targ., 
RV.), or, with slight change of text, he works destruction for hitn- 
self {Gx\i. 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 Ez. 23*"^ — 
the character of the penalty in the old ordeal of Nu. 5""^ 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. 8^ seems to 
recognize the possibility of other than capital punishment (as in 
fact the woman goes free). In our verse (as in v.^^) 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 {blows), 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"), 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 a?idfury) will not spare, etc. On 
the power of jealousy see 14^*^ 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.^') 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. covering of a fault) is the general term for anything 
offered or prescribed in lieu of punishment, whether as legal sat- 
isfaction (Ex. 21^° Nu. 35^^ Job 33^* Pr. 13^ 21^^) or as bribe 
(Am. 5^^). 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 Heb. sing, nouns and the Grk. plu. in v.^" there is 
little to choose. — |^ 3*^, © ^vxv- — 22. On the inversion of v.^^- ^ see note 
above on v.22-24, |^ -jnx nnjn; @ (followed in part by S) iivdyov avTT)v k. 
ixera ffoO ea-ru}, = -|nN nnjn (Jag.), or the second part is doublet, = iriK n>nn. 
IL gradiantur and custodiant, to conform the number to that of v.^i. Bi. 
inserts at beginning inxn nd dj nn:ni; see note above on v.^^, Jn third line 
® is free rendering of |^. — For |^ iniBTi Gr. suggests ■jn^ii'ip. — 23. |^ plu. 
nnnn; read sing, with (5 f\eyx°^j hut 1 (© Kal) should not be inserted before 
nDiD; Cl. Al. 154^' (cited by Lag.) has i\iyx^'- ® makes two clauses instead 
of three: 6ti Xi5x''os evToXyj vd/xov, Kal (pws 656s fw^s Kal eXeyxos Kal iraidela; 
J^ is preferable on grounds of sense and symmetry. Gr. "jON niXD and min 

VI. 33-VII. 143 

TON. — 24. f^ n, © irTrdj/Spou, = JJT (Vog.), adopted by Gr., Bi.; to this 
Baumg. objects that the word, used as = another, always has the sufiix, as in 
v.'^^; read mr. — 25. In ^ @ gives free rendering, and in "^ has doublet, the 
original having 6cj>da\nm%, the revision p\€4>dpu)v to agree with J^ (Lag.). — 
IL takes 133^ as subj. — 26. |§ n>a, probably taken as prep, in exchange for, 
and rendered freely in all Vrss. : (S ri}xy\, % pretium, % N'ST (for |''Di price, 
Oort) with npSd added as explanation, S n^cn, for N''b-i price (but of. Nold., 
in Pink.); Oort, doubtfully, -i^_3 ; read ^x^ or r\-n hunts. — |^ ny, omitted by 
Bi. (who also omits pb'n), read "[X by Ew., Gr., and one or the other of these 
emendations should be adopted. — Frank.: onS 133 -yv} njr ncx -|-iv '3> an 
appropriate emendation, after ®3L (though it would be better to omit the 
second l-i>')» ^^^^ graphically not so easy as the one above proposed. — 
29. Omitted by Bi. without explanation, apparently to gain a simple quatrain 
iyP-^'), he having above (v."'^-) expanded a verse (triplet) into a quatrain; 
V.29 is a natural, though not necessary, conclusion to v?'- ^8; it might be 
omitted without loss, and its naturalness might account for its insertion as a 
gloss. — The form of |^ is substantially supported by the Vrss. — 30. The 
Vrss. suggest no emendation of |§, of which they give free translations; see 
note on this verse above. — 31. DTJJJB' is in form dual of the fem. (as in the 
second numeral), lit. two sevens, but used in the sense sevens, = sevenfold; 
for a different view see M. Heilprin, Hisior. Poetry of the Anc. I/edrews,Yo\. I. 
note A. ?^ jn^; ©, interpreting correctly, Sovs piaerai eavrbv. — 32. |§ reads 
lit. he who destroys himself (3^ who wishes to destroy, etc.) he does it, or better 
he destroys hitnself who does it (taking xin as in apposition with n^ntyc). 
6 (followed by IL) appears to render freely, so that its Heb. text can hardly 
be conclusively made out. It improperly takes the verse as a single sentence, 
writes 5t' ei/Seiav (= iDna?), makes 'a (or nn->rs) obj. of the verb in which it 
omits suff. {jepiTtoiCnaC), and apparently omits xin (omitted by Bi.). |§ 
gives a good sense as it stands, but becomes easier if we omit ^•n and take 
r\if'i> as rel. clause. — 33. |§ ns?:>, (5 vTro(l>^pei, which Lag. emends to a.iro<p4- 
pel, prob. = % not }<r^_ (cf. the different rendering of Ntt-' in v.^^). — At end 
© adds els rbv alQva, probably rhetorical expansion, but Lag. holds that oSi;?'? 
stood in 1^ and has fallen out by similarity to following nnan nS; the addition 
is possible, but is not favored by the rhythm; Baumg. compares the nnn hit of 
rp 109I*. — 34. |§ laj ncn nKjp ">3; the subj. (as the connection shows) is 'P 
(as in Cant. 8^ -p Six'^a nu'i'i), and we should perhaps expect that 'J would be 
attached to it and not' to 'n, though the present form is intelligible. (&, badly, 
fieffrbs yap fijXoi; dvp-bs av8pbs a^rijs, taking n as subj. K = M> ^ follows 
(&, only inverting the order of the words, and omittmg avTrjs : the fury of a 
man, because it is full of jealousy, will not spare, etc. — 35. @ and 3L render 
^ freely, and independently each of the other. 

Vn. Warning against the adulteress. — A more elaborate 
treatment of the subject of 2^^^^ 5, 6=^*^, and similar in arrange- 


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

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^ 4^, etc., Ben-Sira 3^ 
Words, commandments, law are synonyms ; the Impv. and live = 
and thou shall live, or so that thou mayest 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/^ 17*; in 
Pr. 7^ 20^ = centre, core ; in Lam. 2^^ daughter of the eye is 
equivalent to eye. — Between our v. and v.^ Grk. has my son, fear 
the Lord and thou shall be strofig, and beside him fear no other, in 
general accordance with 3''^ 14^® (cf. Eccl. 5^'^^, 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-^ As the hands are always in 
sight, the finger is a fit reminder-place ; so in Dt. 6* 11^* Ex. 13^®, 
which our verse may have in mind. It is uncertain how long 
before the beginning of our era the custom existed of winding 
praj^er bands {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 i^ 3^ 6^' it would seem more 
probable that the allusion here is to a ring, probably the seal-ring 
(Gen. 38'^ 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''*) to write the law on doorposts and gates, but to the tab- 
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^ 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 . . . gain^ 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^® 6^ (on which see notes), and is on 
that account omitted by Bickell ; but, though not necessary, it 
gives a natural and desirable connection between the exhortation 
(v.^"^) and the description (v.*^^^). 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.''"^), is accosted by an 
impudent woman, a frequenter of the streets (v.^**"^^), 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.-^"^). The description differs from that of 2'^" 

* Inscribed objects attached to the person were, perhaps, originally amulets or 
talismans ; cf. notes on i^ 38. 


(which merely states that death is the result of a licentious course) 
and from that of 6-"^^ (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. 
Ben-Sira 9^^ 19^ 26^^- 42^^ 

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."*. 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 (hke 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 ; t the 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.'"''^ in which she is already in the street ; if she is indoors 
in v.^^, we should expect to have in v.'" : she came forth and met 
him ; the woman appears to be introduced as a new personage in 
V,'". — 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. 616 2 K. 9^0 Cant. 2^ ; Aristoph., Thesmoph., 797 ; Livy, 24, 21 ; 
Vitruv., V, 6, 9. 

VII. 6-9 147 

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 Heb., saw atnong the simple, which 
introduces a tautology {^simple = void of sense) should be omitted ; 
the couplet will then be a single sentence, binary. — Simple = 
void 0/ understanding ; see note on i^. — 8. Synonymous, ternary. 
A corner, as in Grk., is hardly better than Heb. her corner; the 
latter expression denotes not the particular place at which she 
stands (in v.^^ 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^ 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. : in the evening-gloom, when there is quiet of 
night afid 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 fine may 
perhaps mean : in the darkness of cofnplete night (so RV.), 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. On the added v. in <5 see note above on v.i The fact that it 
appears in no other Vrss. exc. S^ throws no light on its date; such additions 
were natural for a long period. Ew., without giving 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. — p-^N, = Arab, insdn, 
apparently a human (or manlike) thing ; the ending on {dti) is elsewhere in 
O.T. not dimin. but general-relational; Aram, un is diminutive, j''^ 'n is par- 
allel in i/- 17^ to pi' na (perhaps = the centre or principal part of the eye); 
the Aram. Vrss. here render 'x by Nnaa gate ; cf. Ges., Thes., BDB. — "^ \~Tn; 
@ Tohs de ifwCii X670US, as if it read •'"^^i, or ncN, as in 4^''; between such 
variants there is no ground of choice. — 3. For |^ rV^iN S, by scribal in- 
advertence, has lis, as in 3^. — 4. |§ !<"'|iP; (3 irepiiroi-qaai, — r.ip:^ (Jag-); 
whether (3 had nj^an (Jag.) or took '^ in |§ nr2^ as sign of accus. (Lag.) can 
hardly be determined. — For >"ib Oort suggests fem. n;-i::, but this is not neces- 
sary. — 5. (5 irovrjpds, apparently miswriting of ir6pvr]s (Lag.); cf. (§ in 2'^. 
— 6, 7. On the ist pers. in the vbs. in (5 see note on these vv. above. Oort 
suggests ina^n for ^r^2, to secure fuller parallelism, and Gr. the insertion of 
njni before lyj; 5' has 3d pers. plu. — 8. ^ ~:c; the masc. form of the noun 
is found only here and Zech. I4''\ — piu-j is omitted in (§, i;'i"' in ^ (by free 
translation or inadvertence). For ^>i"' (§ has XaXovvra, 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.) : '\'C': 
(degree of light), 3iy (part of the day), nV'*? p'i'\x (part of the night), nhsa 
(degree of darkness) ; we should probably, in accord with the preceding ex- 
pressions, read nSsNO. (&, however, makes two phrases of the v. : iv (jk6th 
effwepivf, = 31J7 'J3, and ijvlKa &v ijcruxla- WKTepivrj Kal yvocpiIiSTjs, = ^, except 
that for pj^ix it seems to have had some form of yy^ sleep (Schl.), or possibly 
of taps' 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 i 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.*), 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- 
tnent) Grk. has/c^r/;/, 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 

vn. IO-I2 


woman here described (the married woman) is technically distin- 
guished from the harlot proper (who was unmarried). — The 
translation wily (RV.) is conjectural ; other proposed renderings 
are false (Schult.), malicious (Ew., Now., Kamp., etc.), secret, 
hypocritical (Berth., Str., Stade), excited (Frank.), subtle (AV., 
De.) ; 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. Grlc. : 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'^) usually expresses excited movement and noise (i K. i" 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 ; 
])roposed 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, selfwilled, 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 Greek laws forbad free women to leave their houses after 
sunset,* but it appears from this passage and from Cant. 3- and 
Ben-Sira (26*-^**) 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^'* 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 
j2o. 21^^ choosing corners particularly as convenient places for 
seeing and being seen. The paragraph is a vivid description of 
the city manners of the later time (probably third cent. B.C.). 
Y U.12 ^j-g q£ ^j^g nature of a parenthesis. 

* Becker, Char. 468 f. 


10. The Art. before hitn (found in ®) has dropped out by reason of pre- 
ceding n. Before nxnpS there is usually a vb. of going, but this is sometimes 
omitted, as in i S. lo^" al. — The signification dress for n^tt* seems to be assured 
by "A 73''; after (5 elSos Hitz., Oort suggest a form of mir (8" 26* 271*). If 
the text-word be retained, prep. 3 should perh. be inserted before it. — 1§ msj 
I"-"; @ (foil, by ^ST) T^oiu viwv i^iirTacrdai Kapdias (the viuv is explanatory 
insertion), as if from tij (cf. 27^); Lag. emends to i^ia-Ta(r9ai (Eur. Bacch. 
850) lose one's senses, and thinks that © had mixD producing a whirl, after 
Syr. pis (Castel. 755), but such a sense is proved neither in Heb, nor in 
Aram.; IL id capiendas anitnas, apparently from i-'X (Berth., cf. Ez. 13^"). 
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 o-pjjj (281^) or '7noj (8^) or aij; (but this stem is em- 
ployed elsewhere in Pr. only in good sense), and see the expressions in 
Eccl. 726. Schult., Jictu cordis, from nix, in sense of Arab. nix. — 11. |§ mniD 
headstrong ; <3 dawros pro^igale seems to represent |§ (Lag. improbably, from 
n-iD); read na2iD (cf. Cant. 3'^-^), IL vaga, ^ Nmno. — 12. @, less well than 
?§, divides the v. at fina, after which it inserts, to complete the parallelism, 
the vb. pifj.§€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. 

16. 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. 

18. 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 seen (note on v."), some liberty of movement, it 

VII. 13-14 151 

would appear from Cant. 5^ that the night-watchmen sometimes 
arrested strolUng women, though under what circumstances does 
not appear. Watchers on city-walls no doubt existed from of old 
(Isa. 21"-^ 62^ \jj 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.^^"") ; 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: / have a sacrificial feast 
at my house. The Heb. term here rendered offering {shelem, RV. 
peace-offering) is a general one comprehending several varieties. 
It signifies primarily wholeness, soiaidness, 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. 7^^'"^). It consisted 
always of flesh, to which (at least in the later ritual) was added 
flour, oil, and wine (Nu. 15''^°) ; 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 shelefn 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-^"^). 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. 7'^). The woman, not inat- 
tentive to her religious duties (and there is no reason to suppose 

* The same stem is found in Arab. Islam, = the establishing of sound relations 
with God by submission, resignation ; and Moslem = one who is resigned to God's 
will, a professor of Islam. 


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 doubdess 
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. 5*^ 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 festiv^e 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 fnight find 
thee, is feeble and improbable. — The two next verses describe the 
luxurious appointments of the woman's house, whence (and from 
v.^*--") it may be inferred that her husband was a man of sub- 
stance, and she of good social position. — 16. Synonymous, ter- 
nary. Couch is properly bedstead (Dt. 3" \p 132''), elsewhere 
(Job 7^^) 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 both sides). AV. coverings probably gives the sense of the 
term (RV., 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 jn 
HosA ha. Shanah, 5 b. 

VII. I4-I8 153 

both sides ; Syr. Targ., spreads or carpets ; Vulg. embroidered car- 
pets ; recent commentators generally striped (ox, party-colored) 
spreads or cloths. The second term represents some kind of ma- 
terial, stuff, or, as the word signifies in Aram., yarn; it is left 
untranslated by the Anc. Vrss. (or they may have had a different 
word), except that Theod. has tnarked with Egyptian 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 perfiimed (lit. sprinkled). 
The aromatic substances here named are frequently mentioned in 
OT. (e.g. Cant. 4"). Myrrh is a gum-resin which exudes from 
the Balsamodendron Myrrha, 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. yP Cant. 5^ ; for its use in the preparation of 
the temple-oil see Ex. 30^--^. Aloes is the fragrant resin-gum of 
Aloexylon and Aquilaria ovata of Malacca and A. agallochum 
of Bengal. Cinna7non 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. b.c. (Am. 6^), but the perfumes here men- 
tioned appear only in postexilian writings (Ex. 30, Esth., ^ 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. 
SS'O), with blood (Isa. z^^ ]tx. 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 fnan, an expression which is per- 
haps used by the woman in a shghting 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^^ 
9- Mt. 13^^). — 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 {\p 81^'^^) 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 t rafatum of n;y,n (a local peculiarity of Masoretic pronuncia- 
tion) see De.'s note in B-D. — .tjo is unnecessarily omitted by Bi., apparently 
on rhythmical grounds. — 14. f^ D''C'?;;'; plu. every\vhere except Am. 5-^ 
(where it is perh. scribal error), n^r often = a'?::' (Ex. 24^, cf. Ez. 44^1 with 
45!^), here = slain offering. — 15. The Vrss. have free renderings of |^. On 
S3r see Pink. — 16. |§ ia->, laiD, of uncertain meaning, the vb. only here, the 
noun here and 31^"^; @^ Ktiplt^ (gxc. a. a plu.) reraKa, in which the noun 
= girths, suggests the sense bind for the vb. (as in 1131 chain. Gen. 41*2 Ez. 
16", and in Arab.), but in 31^2 (g has y\aiva-i mantles, which favors the render- 
ing coverlets here ; S2C have stem Mr, A9 irepio-Tpdivvvfii, spread in vb. and noun; 
IL intexui funibus, the noun being after (5, but the vb. weave, appropriate in 
31^2, is here out of place. The weight of authority appears to favor the sense 
spread. — nnan, cf. Arab. 3an. Oort, taking it as rendered by @ earpuKa, 
emends to 'ntsn, but the Grk. word rather represents |^ jibn, read as TiBn or 
noN. — jiDN, found here only, is possibly a foreign word (but oddvrj linen may 
be a loan-word from Sem.) ; in Jew.-Aram. it = thread, a possible sense here, 
but 2r has another term, N:;-ip carpet, perh. = stuff woven of thread. On the 
form see 01s., p. 335; it seems unnecessary to regard it as Aram. — 17. |^ \iDJ 
spr inkle, C^zS. only here; Bi., Hif. ^r^oY\ (cf. ^ 681°), Oort \-30: (cf. Cant. 5^); 
Gr. 'ncj, from rjjj. — ib is Semitic, o^Sns (cf. Hind, aghil, Sanscr. aguru) 
East Indian, and pnap, though its origin is uncertain, is probably foreign.* — 

• Cf. H. Lewy, Semit. Fremdworter im Griech. ; C. P. G. Scott, Malayan Words 
in Eng., in JAGS., Vol. 17. 

VII. I8-2I 


18. The plu. am and a^^ns are used always of sensual love. Geiger, Ursckrifl, 
p. 398, reads ci-i (see 519), but the Mas. form is better. |§ nD-'>'nj; ® ivKv- 
\i<T6u)/j.ev, after which Oort unnecessarily emends to New-Heb. nSji'.nj /^/ us 
wallow. — Bi., to complete his scheme of quatrains, adds the couplet "^JDi 
03;j ajjyn ipnoM j,n p^hn -arv} — the woman, he holds, according to -vP-, em- 
ployed argument (nii*?) and it must be introduced here; but her persuasions 
are sufficiently given in v.i*-20. — 20. ND3, only here and ^ 81* (.idd). Here 
2r has XT';; feast (Rashi : the time fixed for the feast), S = @, (5 5t' rnxepdv 
■troXKQv (perh. free transl. — Lag. suggests that 5t' ^/x. = SLxofJ-Vf'n),'^ pinnae 
lunae (and so Bar Ali, cited in Ges. Thes.'), Saad. day of sacrifice, Aben Ezra 
new moon; in ^ 81* 2E has •'DonoT Nm% S nd;, 1L^ ?'« w^c/zo inense, (3 evcF-qixt^ 
favorable (apparently a guess). And since in S ndd stands for the 15th day 
of the month in i K. 12^^ and for the 23d in 2 C. y^"*, 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, ST ^ 81* 
appears to interpret it as the former), or its first day. On the form see 01s. 
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, n^d latler part, and = second half of the 
month, and so the festival of that time; ST 'Ddpd may be denom. {the month 
of) the nd:, but prob. = covered (so Rosh ha. Shanah "] 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. kuseu (see De., Ass. Handwb. s. v. kuseii, aqu), 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 b. Like a bird that hastes to a net, 
c. Knowing not that it concerns its life, 
a. Till an arrow cleaves its liver. 

21. Synonymous, ternary. Fair speech is lit. teaching, instruc- 
tion (see note on i^) — designation of the woman's enticing de- 
scription as a didactic discourse or argument. Persuades, lit. 
causes to yield ; blandishmefit of her lips, lit. smoothness of her lips ; 
see 2^^ 5^ 6^ 7^ Seduces, lit. carries off (or, away). The two 
verbs are employed in OT. to express the leading away of Israel 
after other gods than Yahweh, the first, for ex., in i K. ii^ the 


second in Dt. 13'^^^ 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.*' 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 ^''- ">■, ^^^ ^s"-, 23c. a._ ^he difference of length of lines in 
the Eng. translation does not exist in the Heb. — 22. Compari- 
sons, ternary. The Heb. reads : he Jollows her suddenly, as an 
ox that goes to slaughter, and as fetters to the chastisement 0/ 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 (C3U) vatd.r\% fetters — in the only 
other place in which it occurs in OT., Isa. 3^*, it is used in the 
sense of anklets (and in Isa. 3^'' 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 frolicsotne 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* i Sam. 28"'*, cf. Pr. 15^')- — 
Instead of suddenly read, with Grk., enticed or deceived or per- 
suaded, according to the stem in i^" 16^^ 20" 24^ 25'^ Jer. 20' 
Job 31^ cf. Hos. 7" Job 5". — 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 j cf. i'^- 2^, 
etc. There is no reference to the mode of death ; the descrip- 
tion resembles that in ch. 2 (v.^^^^) more than those in chs. 5 and 
6. — 23. Comparison and consequence, ternary. As the text 
stands, v.^ is connected with the preceding context (" he follows 

VII. 21-25 157 

her as an ox, etc., till an arrow cleaves his liver"), and a new 
comparison, to a bird, is added. We gain simplicity by transfer- 
ring the third line to the end of the verse (so Hitz., De., Bi., 
Frank.), and dividing v."-^ 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 m the liver with an arrow (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^'^. — 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 i/' 16^, 
in which my glory = myself, we should read tny liver (parallel to 
my heart or my soul). 

24-27. Concluding exhortation against the woman, based on 
her fatal influence; so 2^**-^''' 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. 
Go not astray in her paths. 

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

27. In her house are ways to Sheol, 
Going down to the chambers of Death. 

24. Synonymous, ternary-binary. The Heb. has plu. sons, 
without possess, pron., in this verse, and sing, in v.^* ; the change 
of number is possible, but is here not probable ; the Grk. has 
the sing., and this, in any case, is better in an English trans- 
lation. — Here, as elsewhere, the sage is his own authority. — 
25. Synonymous, ternary-binary. Lit. let not thy mind [^heart'\ 
turn aside, in which thy mind (like thy soul elsewhere) = thyself. 
Turn aside (found elsewhere only in 4'^ Nu. ^isis-^o^^^ noun in 
Hos. 5-) is declining from the right way, =^^ astray. — Many 
Heb. MSS. connect the two lines by and. Grk. omits second line, 

* The Heb. has ye children (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 7nany she has cast dowfi 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 7nen 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^- Zech. 8*^ 1/^40^^^^ 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 ivays to Sheol (so Schult., Evv., 
Frank.), rendered by AV., RV. her house is the way, etc., by 
Reuss is in the 7oay, 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. 
12^ 14'-) — there are many chances of death from association 
with her. The penalty referred to is premature physical death, 
as in i^^ 2-^ 5^, not moral depravation, and not punishment after 
death ; see note on i^-. 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. 
22I8-32* jga 14^^), 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 Dt. 32-^ \p 86^'') — there is 
mention of gates (Isa. 38^° \p 9'^^" 107^^ Job 38^'), as in Baby- 
lonian,! but not of courts, streets or houses. The word chamber 

* Emended text in Haupt's Sacred Books of the Old Testament. 
t The bars of Job 17I6 is doubtful — see note in Budde's Hiob. 


VII. 2[;-VIII. 159 

does, indeed, generally stand in contrast with the space outside 
the house (court or street), and in earthly Hfe implies privacy 
(Ju. 3^'* 2 K. 6^-) ; bul!» in poetical usage it appears to stand (sing, 
or plu.) for the whole of a given place or space (Job 9^ 37''). If, 
however, the term be here understood to imply divisions in Sheol, 
these (as OT. usage shows) are not connected with moral differ- 
ences in the inhabitants. 

22. "^ DSTD, not headlong (Schult.) but suddenly ; (5 Kev(pwd€ls cajoled 
(like a simpleton, k^tt^os), as from stem nno; some form of this stem is re- 
quired by the connection, perh. TyT}X:iy, cf. Job 31^ nu-vX Sy laS nnoj dn; graphi- 
cally 'J might easily pass into 'd, especially if d in latter was marked by a line 
(\snfl). — D3jr, here yields no sense; @ ki^wc, = 2*^3; IL agnus, = t'2:); read 
^rj, — nDiD correction; (3 deafiovs, = nO'C, better than |§, but not wholly ap- 
propriate, since it does not naturally correspond to the parallel nj-j; it may 
therefore be better to read p3-\3 slall (see note on this v. above), though 
the reading of <§ is intelligible. — '?mx must be taken as vb., some such form 
as 'rar (Gr.). It is read '?''N by (5 and transferred to next v. : ws eXacpos ro^ev- 
/xari weirX-qyus. — 23. On the inversion of clauses see note on this v. above. 
The order of p? is retained by the Vrss. — 24. ?§ 0^:2; (5, beUer, vU.— 
25. On au'> see Stade, § 489 ^, and cf. Ew. § 224 c. — CI. 2, lacking in 6^^ jg 
given in 6^"=''-^, H-P. 23, 68, 106 al., Compl., Aid., and, according to S", 
belongs to G; the omission in B is inadvertence. — 26. |^ Zi-<'^^n; 6 freely 
rpibaacra. It may be also by freedom of translation that @ does not render 
*7j; but this word, though syntactically possible, and not unaccordant with the 
rhythm, is not necessary, and is in any case naturally omitted in an Eng. 
translation. — 27. In cl. i |^, reproduced by (SSTIL, is possible though hard; 
S's insertion of T^'T\-\^ii, — ot^, before r\r^-'2 is no doubt explanatory addition. 
Insertion of 3 is easy, but perh. unnecessary. — 1§ nm^ @ /cordYoi/o-at, free 
rendering, or = nnn'D (Lag.). 

VIII. Exalted function of "Wisdom. — A separate discourse (cf. 
i^"*^), consisting of two closely related sections (v.'^-^ and v.-^"^') 
with introduction and conclusion. After the description of Wis- 
dom as public exhorter (v.^"^) comes her address, in the first sec- 
tion of which (v.*-2i) is set forth her high character and honorable 
function among men (she utters truth, v.'^^ and confers knowledge, 
riches, and honor, v.^^^-i), and in the second (v.^^-^i) her position as 
cherished companion of Yahweh in the beginning ; the conclusion 
states the happiness of those who obey her and the evil fate of 
those who reject her (v.^'-^^). With this hymn to Wisdom cf. the 
hymns to Yahweh, i// 104. 107, and the praise of Wisdom in Job 28, 


Ben-Sira i^"^ 24, Wisd. Sol. 7'-8-' ; 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^^', only Wisdom is here 
dramatically described as taking her stand. — 1. Synonymous, ter- 
nary (or, binary-ternary). IVist/om and understanding are iden- 
tical in meaning ; see note on i'-. — 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-^ makes it probable that the term 
here = thorough/ares ; cf. 9^". As thoroughfares are called noisy 
places and broad places (1^°'^), so they may be called high places 
or highways, as in 16' (where, however, another word is used) ; 
cf. Ju. 5^. Parallel to this is the expression in the streets (not, as 
RV., where the paths tneet) . Grk. omits on the road, rendering 
v.^ : 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.^ thus mentions one sort of public place (the street), v.^ 
gives the other sort, the city-gates, which were common meeting- 
places for citizens, hke the Greek agora and the Roman forum ; 
see, for ex., Ju. 9^, 2 Sam. 15^, Dt. 22'^ Jer. 17^ \\i 69^^''^'. 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 7nouth (RV. entry) of the city ; we should per- 

VIII. 1-5 i6i 

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^^, Jos. 8^, i K. 22^°, Jer. i'^, Ez. 81 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 Yahweh, 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.-*- ^^ as glosses, and thus makes 
one couplet out of v.^- ^, and this was perhaps the original form : 

Does not Wisdom call? 
And Understanding utter her voice? 
In the streets she takes her stand, 
At the gateways cries aloud. 

4-21. The teaching and the rewards of Wisdom. — After an 
introductory appeal to men (v.^-^), the section falls naturally into 
two main parts, first (v.^"), Wisdom's ethical excellence (her in- 
struction, v.^^, her superiority over silver, etc., v.'"-^^), and second 
^y. 12. 14-21^ omitting v.'^ as scribal insertion) her intellectual emi- 
nence (she enables kings to rule well, v.^-- '*'^'', and dispenses riches 
and honor to those who love her, v.^''^^). Cf. Job 28^^^^, Ben- 
Sira i"- ^\ Wisd. Sol. 7'' " 8^ 

4, 5. The appeal. 

4. To you, O men, I call. 

And my appeal is to the sons of men. 

5. Learn, O ye simple, to know understanding, 
And, ye fools, to understand wisdom. 

4. Synonymous, ternary. The terms 7nen and sons of men 
appear to mean all classes of nieji, 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. Ap- 
peal \% lit. voice. — 5. Synonymous, ternary. Lit.: comprehend, 
ye simple, discretion, and, ye fools, comprehend 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 a.nd fool see notes on i^ '^. The Heb. word here translated 



by understanding is that which in i* is rendered by sagacity {orma) ; 
it means true knowledge of the principles of life. The significa- 
tion of the corresponding term in cl. 2 (ht. heart) is given in 
Hos. 7'' : 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 %\m^\y 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 wrong. 

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.^*, 
straightforward, honest, true things, corresponding to the 7-ight or 
right things in the second clauses of v.^ and v.®. Utterance is lit- 
erally opening. — 1, Synonymous, ternary. The initial particle, 
sometimes =for, is here better taken as asseverative ; v,^ is par- 
allel to, not explanatory of, v.^ 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 
Yahiveh (cf. 16^^), and Grk. here has false lips are an abomina- 

* Heb. : excellent things (?). 

t Heb. : wickedness is abomination to my lips. 

VIII. 5-IO i63 

tion to me; the change of sense requires no great change in the 
Hebrew. — 8. Synonymous, binary-ternary (or, ternary). Just, 
Ht. injustice (RV. in righteousness) = in accordance with right 
(see notes on i^ 2''^), in contrast with \\\^ false and 7vrong of the 
second clause, synonymous terms whose original, physical sense is 
tivisted or crooked ; the first occurs in Pr. only here (cf. Job 5^^) ; 
on the second see note on 2'^. — 9. Synonymous, ternary. The 
sense right, 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.*"*. 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 ; RV. plain is ambiguous, 
being = either level (as in RV. Isa. 40^) 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, who finds (attains) moral knowledge, will recognize 
the truth of Wisdom's words. This affirmation stands almost alone 
in OT. In Ez. 18^ 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 NT. 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'"^, on which see notes ; 8" is 
substantially identical with 3^^ There (and so 8^^) the revenue or 
outcome of wisdom is extolled, here wisdom itself. — 10. Synony- 
mous, ternary. The Hebrew has my instruction, but the simple 

* Kamphausen, and, in part, Delitzsch. 


noun (as in the Grk.) answers better to the knowledge of second cl., 
and to the wisdom of v.". The speaker is not Wisdom, but the 
sage : the most desirable thing in Hfe, 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^"^. 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 corals see note on 
3'*. Treasures is literally desirable things (as, for ex., in Hag. 2'), 
a general term including all things held to be valuable. Instead 
of can cofnpare 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.^^ 
and V." (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.^' (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 the fear of Yahweh 
is defined only in general terms (as = wisdom, i^ 9^" 15^, or as 
source of blessing, 10^^ 14^^ 19^^)) i^ot by a specific moral con- 
tent (in 16^ 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.^-"^^), or as granting favors to her 
friends (v.^). The first clause of the verse is a general declara- 
tion which (apart from the difficulty stated above) might stand 
anywhere in the section 10^-22^''; 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.""^ 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.^^, after 
which it is put by Bickell. We 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, Phcenicia, Ch. 10. 

VIII. lo-ii, 13 165 

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

The fear of Yahweh is hatred of evil. 
Pride and arrogancy, 

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

Or, omitting the first line : 

Pride and arrogance and sinful 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 Grk. : the fear of the 
Lo7-d hates imrighteousness and insolence and pride and the ways 
of wicked men, and I hate the corrupt ways of bad men. On the 
omission of first hne see above. The sentiment of the verse is a 
famihar one in Proverbs; see 2^- 6^^"^^ 11^ 16^ Pride and arro- 
gancy 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 
on 22"6". 

VIII. 1. 1^ (which IL follows exactly, and 3E with one variation) is sup- 
ported by the context. (gBsA ^i) , , , Kripv^ets and iva . . . viraKoiarj (for 
nV'p ?nn); Procop., with H-P 23, 109, 147, 157, 295 Aid., 5(6 cri) . . . Krjpv^ov, 
and 2C has i^^yrt S10;, = p*^, = 5ib. Since this is a separate discourse, a con- 
necting pS is improbable. The natural subject in ^ is Wisdom's utterance, 
and the inix yaz'T^ of (5 is doubtless scribal error. — 2. "im "hy is omitted by 
(&, but the rhythm requires some word here, and nothing better offers itself 
Bi. omits these and the two preceding words, and v.^*, reading (v.^- 3) r^i 
■I'^r^ onPD Kaa naxj rinj; the maintenance of the full form of 1& is favored by 
i20. 2i_ -phe difficult a^c^a is better taken as the equivalent of its parallel 
ma^nj of second cl. |^ 'O t'Nij, (5 iirl rC}vv\pTj\Qi' &Kpuv, IL in summis excel- 
sis que verticibus. ^ nij is scribal error for 71.13 (v.^''), or possibly Aramaism. 
— 3. |§ nip ifjS; (S SufacTTWJ', perhaps for a,(XTiuiv (Jag.). "'D is used of the 
mouth of a well (Gen. 29^) or of the Underworld {^ eg'^'i*" 141') or of 
the earth (Gen. 4II), but never elsewhere of the entrance to a city. % juxia 
porias civitatis, free rendering, possibly reading ijbS. 'p 'cS is parallel to t> 3 
in i2i (on which see note), and may be a gloss; Oort suggests r\v.-yp as pes- 


sible emendation. The two passages, i^O- 21 gi-s^ have probably affected each 
other, and it is difficult to restore the true text, ^no may be taken as 
locative, without preposition. — 4. ^ z^^Z'^x (elsewhere only Isa. 53^ 1,^ 141*) 
here = din •'J^, = dyOpwiroi.; the distinction which seems sometimes to be 
made (1/' 492(3) 62^(^'^', cf. Isa. 2^), between mN '3 and nf^a '3, is not contem- ^; 

plated here. — 5. J^ 3"' ^^2r, © ivdeaBe KapSlav, =: 3S irD"i, to which the ob- 
jection is not so much that the remote object is not expressed (for the 3*? n^ii' 
of I Sam. 4-3 offers support for such a construction) as that it destroys the 
parallelism of the verse — 3"? corresponds to nz'\';. — 6. (5 elffaKoijcrari /xov. — 
|VJ z^i^jj, as adj. air. \ey., possibly (cf. -"ij, ij)) visible, clear (see Schult.'s 
note), but probably (from ■t'Jj) princely, a sense here inappropriate; read 
D\-ibj, as in v.^* (so Gratz); (5 aenva; ^iSTil as |^. — J^ nrsr, elsewhere key, 
here opening (abstract noun of action) ; @ avoiaw, apparently Pi. Part., not 
so well; Oort nnsr, from the door, referring to Mic. 7^, where, however, the 
phrase is different. — 7. |^ ';z'-\ "inDr n3;'i."; (5 i^deXvyfiha ivavrlov i/xoO 
XetXij xpevdii; read "t vno'J' ''^ '.1 (or \i3yip), in accordance with 12^2. — Before 
ncN Bi. inserts >n3-', a doubtful betterment of the rhythm. — 9. |^ has Part., in 
first cl. sing., in second cl. plu. ; (5, better, plu. in both. — 10. oDi" ; omit suff ., 
with (5, in agreement with .~;>n in second cl. — |^ '^.s' (and not a^) on account 
of the injunction involved; see Ges.^", § 152, i^, Anm. i. — In ^ several dif- 
ferent Grk. readings are found: @^ = |§; (gBb(vid.) h^s, as doublet, dtre- 
peiadai (Clem. Al., Procop. avrepeidecrde, read dvdaipeicrde) 8^ alaO-qaei x/'^^^"'^ 
Kadapov, (3^, as doublet, avTavaipeicrOaL (read avdaipeXade) atcrdTjaiv XP^'^^°^ 
Kal dpyvpiov; the readings which differ from |^ are probably nearer the Grk. 
original (Lag.). The verb was inserted, by the translator, to secure sym- 
metry, or (Lag.) he read .-nn3j as pred. of np; |^ 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 (14^ 16'''"^^ 19^"-^^ 
22^ 24-^ 25'"' 29''-" 30^^ 31'' a/.). After the remark of the sage in 
v.'" '^ Wisdom now resumes her discourse. 

12. I, Wisdom, I possess'* intelligence, 
I have knowledge and insight. 

14. With me is counsel and skill, 
With me understanding and might. 

15. By me kings do reign. 
And rulers administer justice. 

16. By me princes govern, 
And sovereigns < rule » f the earth. 

* Heb. : dwell in. f Heb. : all the rulers {or, judges) of. 

VIII. 12, I4-I6 167 

12. Synonymous, ternary. Possess is emendation of the Heb. 
inhabit, which is here unnatural. The statement of the Heb. is 
not that Wisdom dwells, in friendly alliance, with intelligetice, but 
that she dwells in intelligence, an unexampled form of expression..* 
V.'^- " 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 acqjiainted with (cf. i/a 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* 8'\ 
In second cl. the and, lacking in the Heb., is properly supplied 
by RV. ; the combination occurs in i^*". 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 : /, understanding is 
mine and might. The rendering of RV. / a?n 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. 11^ and Job 12''', 
passages which stand in some relation to this. — The predicates in 
v.'-- " are synonyms of wisdom ; but the latter conception is here 
personified, and endowed with all the qualities that are connected 
with it. — 15, 16. Synonymous, ternary. The rendering above 
given of 16^ (which is after the Grk.) 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 i/' 148'^ : kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and 
all judges of the earth; in the psalm it is natural, v.^>- being com- 
posed entirely of groups of nouns, with the verb in v.^ In our 
passage the arrangement is different: v.'^*- ^^"^ ^"^ consist each of 
subject and predicate; the predicate is simply verb in v.^^^^•'^ in 
v.^^** it is verb and noun, and this form we expect in v.^'^''. The 

* Cf. the appropriate expression of i Tim. 6I6 : [God] dwelling in light un- 


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 writers 
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. 10^, 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 (t/^ 144'°), and is indeed himself Israel's king (lo^^ ag^'^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'"- ^^'^. V.^^ belongs rather 
to this paragraph than to the preceding. \ 


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

18. 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 Qi seek diligently (or, early), see note on i^^ — The reciproc- 
ity expressed in first cl. is not real (like that of i/' 1 825-26(26.27)^^ -^^^ 
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-i8 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. His thought is an expanded 
and refined form of the old-Hebrew idea (Ez. 18^). Similar 
stress is laid in the Fourth Gospel on the power of the human 
desire and will (Jno. 5**j'<? 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 than the light). Cf. note on v.^. — 
18. Synonymous, ternary. The connection shows that the refer- 
ence is to earthly honor and wealth (as in v.^^ 3^" al.). Honor is 
good repute in the eyes of men. Lordly = splendid, or, in general, 
great, Grk. abundant, Lat. Vulg. superb, RV. durable, margin 
aticient (that is, inherited fro tn ancestots) ; the word appears to 
mean advanced, eminetit, and some such superlative adjective is 
suggested by the connection, but the sense inherited (Stade) is 
not appropriate. — The term here translated by prosperity (np"ii) 
is usually rendered hy justice or righteousness. It signifies prima- 
rily that which is right, true, as quality of a fact or of the soul 
(the English yV^i'//V^ has the same double sense). In its most 
general meaning, in accordajice with propriety or ivith the facts in 
t/ie case, it occurs in i Sam. 26"^, where Yahweh 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 : every 
tongue that enters into a legal cofitest with thee thou shall get the 
better of \_— procure a sentence of condemnation on] — this is the 
lot of the servants of Yahweh, and their fortune awarded by me, 
says Yahweh (Isa. 54^')- This signification comes out clearly in 
\\i \\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, a:mong other things (v.^) : wealth and riches are 



in his house, and his good for hcnc lasts for ever (that is, is con- 
tinued in his descendants). So the word must be taken in 21^"', 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 
(^=z 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'". — 20, 21. Both couplets are synonymous; 
v.^ is ternary, v.^' 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.^^ ; 
here it is a quality of action (= right decision), there it is the 
result of this action. The statement of v.^ is simply I deal justly. 
Friends, lit. those who love vie, as in v.'"; wealth ■= possession, 
property (RV. substance'). The initial particle in v.-^ expresses 
purpose (/;/ 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 
he properly rewarded. The rendering righteousness (instead of 
equity) in v.-" 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.-^ 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. I8-2I 171 

12. in \n 332', an improbable expression; (& Karea-Krivoxj-a; SilE- r^"^^ create 
(cf. PinK;; read 'r::Dr\ uyidersta-nd, ox \-^j|-', which is graphically not hard, 
if the ;;• of >T\iy:- may be miswriting of preceding n (in r\z-:>r(). Before Piot?: 
insert i . |^ nxcx; (g iireKaX€<7diJ.r]v, ior iireKTr)(T6.ixriv (Jag.). — 13. ^ ;-i rxju'; 
on SE cf. Pink.; on an apparently personal interpretation of •;-\ (= bad man) 
in Talm. see H. Deutsch, Spr. Sal., p. 68. — 14. In '' we must either take -j.s 
as preposed subject, and insert i before mnj, or, what is simpler, following 
@, change ^jn to >"'. — 16. |§ V"»x 'i33b' ^2; © Tipavvoi Kparovcn 7575; read 
'N i3d:". — For y-i.v SSEiL and many Heb. MSS. and printed Edd. give p-':; 
(see De' Rossi), which seems to be scribal repetition from end of preceding 
verse; after 'JD'.;' we expect 3 before piv, as in 1/' 96^^ 98^. — On SC see Pink.'s 
note. — 17. Read Qeri '3-i.-< (so (§) ; Bi. 3^x n^ 3-is ijx I love hitn who loves 
Yah, an improbable reading. — 18. |^ p~"; <S ttoWZv, perhaps for iraXanGiv 
(Grabe, cited by Lag.); ST N"^r-:i and riches; S =|§; 'A /xer' elp-^vrji; S 
(and 9) iraXatis; IL superhae. — 20. At the end (5 adds dvaffTpi^ofxai, to 
correspond with the vb. of first cl., but against the rh>thm. — 21. |!? Z'y, 
tS'^Tfap^iv; 3r xrN^JD nm:' many years; ,S x^no hope ; '^ tit diiem. On the 
form cf. Ew., § 146 a', Stade, § 370^, and on the meaning BDB. On the coup- 
let added in (Q (the style of which differs from that of the context) see notes 
of Jager, 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.^"-^), rejoic- 
ing in all his work (v.^-'''). 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.'^^^), she conducts the gov- 
ernment of society (v.^"^®), and confers the noblest rewards (v.'"'-^), 
she antedates human experience, having been present at the con- 
struction of the world (v.^^"^^). The description is completely 
non-national and universal, and thus stands in contrast with the 
similar passage in Ben-Sira (ch. 24), in which Wisdom dwells in 
Israel and is identified with the Jewish Law. From the more 
vivid and human picture of Wisd. Sol., ch. 7 it differs in its 
architectural simphcity and solidity, while Philo's Wisdom is more 
philosophical in form and comes to the very verge of hypostasis. 


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 hfe — 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.^^- ^) ; her birth before the world (v.^^) ; her presence at the 
creation of the world (v.^"^) ; her joyous existence in the pres- 
ence of God (v.^'^^). The third division seems to refer in a gen- 
eral way to the second : v.^- -'^ have the same material as v.^, and 
v.^'' has the same as v.^^- -^ ; v.^ has no antecedent, unless there 
be in v.^-^ an implication of the creation of the heaven (cf. Gen. 
i^). 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 days 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 Heb. adds : and the fields. 


VIII. 22-23 173 

27- When he established the heavens I was there, 

When he marked off the vault on the face of the deep, 

28. When he made firm the clouds above, 
« Fixed fast ' the fountains of the deep, 

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

30. And I was at his side, as his « ward,> 
Full of delight day by day, 
Sporting in his presence continually, 

31. Sporting in his world. [] f 

22, 23. Wisdom's primeval origin. 

22. Synonymous, quaternary- ternary. Instead of Yahweh Targ. 
has God. — The rendering /^rw^a' {= created) is supported by 
the parallel expressions in v.^-^*-^ {made or ordained and brought 
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. Amiatinus) have as the begin- 
nitig, Clementine Vulgate, Syriac, Targum in 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'^, where Behemoth is described 
as the chief (lit. beginning) of the creation of God. \ — Creation is 
lit. way, = procedure, performance (Job 26" 40^^) ; Grk. has plu. 
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. the 
beginning of the creation of God (Rev. 3"), and the firstborn of 
all creatio7i (Col. i^^). — In 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 Yahweh'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. Primeval time (usually everlasting in RV.) 

* Heb. adds : that its waters should not transgress his command. 
t Heb. adds : and my delight was with mankind. 
X See Budde's note, in Nowack's Handkommentar. 


is time hidden by distance, remote, dim, in the past or in the 
future ; in Mic. 5-'^' 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 famiUar 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/' 90'-, where the termini, appUed 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 bitih in v.-'* ^). It seems, however, to be forcing the 
terms when it is held (Frank.) that v.-^ '•^ refer to Wisdom's con- 
ception in the womb, and v.-^-" 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") 
ordained, established (RV. set up), ^placed in position, is per- 
mitted by the connection, but is less apposite. — The origin (Ht. 
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.-^ the waters, 
in v.^ the mountains, in v.-^ 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 \fj 90^, and of the sea in Job 38* ; 
here it seems to be a pure figure of speech (parallel to formed, 
\.^), 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 full, 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 \^ i8^^^^ the fouti- 
dations of the mountains shook (in an earthquake), and Jon. 2*^^^ 
I went down to the bases (or, extremities') of the mountains (the 
level of the bottom of the sea).* — 26. Synonymous, ternary. 
The Hebrew reads : the earth and the outside places. The expres- 
sion outside 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 parallehsm, 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 two terms as synonymous, 
as in Job 5'" ; in Job they occur in different clauses in proper par- 
allehsm, while here they stand together connected by and (which 
can hardly be taken as = natnely), 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 that it contains {the 
earth and the fubiess thereof). We get no light on the verse 
from the Anc. Vrss. Grk. : the Lord made countries and uninhab- 
ited tracts and inhabited sujnmits 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. first (or, 
mass) of the clods (or, dust) Lat. has poles; the chronological 
rendering first (instead of mass) is favored by first line {not 

* Cf. the Babylonian view, given in Jastrow's Relig. of Bab. and Ass., p. 443, 
488 f. 


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. (i/' 8. 139). Cf. Job 38*"". — 27. Synonymous, 
ternary. The heavois = sky, thought of as a solid expanse 
(Gen. i^) to be fixed in its place. To the eye it appears as the 
interior of the dome, a circle, sphere, vau/f, 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- ip 104^"). This conception (to which 
that of the Babylonians and Greeks is similar) * rests on the 
simplest geographical observation. If the rendering eirc/e be 
adopted (RV.), instead oi 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-'' t/f 18"''-'), 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. 7") ; 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.^^ its limita- 
tion. In accordance with the phraseology of the rest of the para- 
graph we must \tz.di fixed fast (instead of became fast or strong, 
or burst violently forth), a reading supported by the Greek, and 
obtained by a sHght 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. i^-'" Job 38^" \j/ 104^^ 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 beyo?id its shore 
allowable, since the Heb. word ('2) is never used in the sense of 

* Jastrow, op. cit.; II. 18, 607 ; Herod. 4, 56. 

VIII. 27-30 177 

shore. — The earth is described as founded, like a building, in 
many passages in OT. (Jer. 31^ Isa. 51^^ Job 38* i/^ 24^^ 82* 104*), 
and the word is to be interpreted literally. — The Vatican Grk. 
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.''*- ^, 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". 

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. 7"-8^ — 30. Apparently ternary ; v.^""" appears to belong 
with v.^^% 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 his 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.! A different change of the 
Heb. word gives the form found in Lam. 4^ = one brought up, 
cherished, whence alumnus {alunina), nursling, foster-child, % or 
guarded, under protection, ward (Frank.). Frankenberg under- 
stands the procedure of the paragraph thus : Wisdom is conceived 
iy.^^), is born (v.^*-^^), is present at the creation (v.'^"®), is, as 
young child, at Yahweh's side, under his care, living a joyous life. 
The sense nursling accords with the succeeding context, and with 

* So Grk., Lat., Ew., RV., and most modern expositors. The expression in 
Jer. S2I6 is too obscure to be cited in this connection. 

t It is, perhaps, to the sense artist of the word here that WS. 721 alludes in its 

t Aq., Rashi, AV., Schult., al. 


the representation of the whole paragraph, and corresponds, as 
passive, to the active 7iurse or tiiior, male (Nu. 11'^ 2 K. 10' 
Isa. 49^ Esth. 2') or female (2 S. 4^ Ru. 4'^). The renderings 
faithful (Targ.) and continually (Hoffman, Schriftbeweis, 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^, Wisdo?n, 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 hne the Heb. reads 
ht. : / was delight, which may mean " I experienced an emotion of 
dehght " 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. 5" Jer. 31^1/' iig^^"'), but the former is 
favored by the connection, in which is portrayed Wisdom's joy in 
the contemplation of the divine creation (Wild., <z/.) ; cf. Job 38^ 
For the construction (/ was delight = I was full of delight^ cf. 
\\i 120'^: / am peace, = " I am for peace (or peaceable)," and 
Gen, 12^: 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 dehght in God's work. The word 
can hardly have the ^QXi&& joyously active, which would be appropri- 
ate if Wisdom were represented as master-workman.\ — 31. Ter- 
nary. The first line seems to be identical in meaning with v.^". 
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.^®, \^ 90^ a/.), the first being poetic, 
the second the ordinary prose word ; the first does not mean 
specifically the inhabited world, 17 oiKovixkvt] (as RV. interprets it) 

— both terms are occasionally used in that sense {\\i 96'^). It 

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

t The verb is used to describe the play of the people in a festival (Ex. 326), 
dancing etc. in a religious procession (2 S. 621), and a military combat of cham- 
pions (2 S. 2i''-i6) ; 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. 30-36 179 

does not seem to be the intention of the poet to represent Wisdom 
as passing from the divine presence into tiie world of men ; the 
point in the wliole of the preceding description is her intimate 
association with Yahweh 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 delight was with mankind (lit. with 
the sons of men), 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). — Grk. 
regards Yahweh as the subject of the couplet : when he rejoiced 
at having finished the inhabited world, and rejoiced among the 
sons of men (following Gen. 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 be 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. For he who finds me finds life, 
And obtains favor from Yahweh, 

36. And he who misses me wrongs himself — 
All who hate me love death. 

In the Hebrew text the order is unsatisfactory ; v.^ is closely 
connected with v.^-% and v.^" with v.^-" — this is nearly the order of 
Vat Grk., 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, 
Watching, etc. 

If v.^ be retained, as in the Hebrew, its symmetry would be im- 
proved by reading the second line : Reject jwt my admonition. 
The lines in the Heb. text are ternary, except v.^'', which has 
only one beat ; in the emendation suggested above this exception 
disappears. The emendation also gets rid of the triplet (v.^), 
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.^**) like a suppliant for 
royal favor. The content of the happiness is expressed (v.^) by 
the equivalent terms life and the favor of Yahweh, the opposite of 
which is 7vrofiging one's self di.nd death {v?^). The life and death 
are, as elsewhere (i^- 2^^-^-' 3^^, etc.), physical, but with the conno- 
tation of general earthly well-being or failure, bodily and moral. 
The opposite oi finds is misses (v.^, 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.^) = deliberately disapprove and reject (cf. v.^). It is the free 
human will that is appealed to (as in i^ 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 (yhis soul = himself), and, hating the source of life, love 
death (see 2^^ 4'^ 5^ 7^) ; the rendering his life, instead of him- 
self (v.^*), is less accurate. By change of text despises may be 
read (as in 15^^), 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.^) — his opposite attitude toward the unwise is 
stated in 3^2-35 (^f. ^ jg^ 26(26.27) ■j^ -phe 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.). 

VIII. 32-36 l8l 

This description of wisdom has played a prominent part in theo- 
logical history, especially in the history of Christian dogmatics. 
It is imitated in BS. i^"^" 24 ; in the latter chapter Wisdom is iden- 
tified with the Law, and so generally in the later Jewish expository 
works.* In Wisd. 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. 11^^ i Cor. i^* Col. i'^ 1^) to an 
identification of Wisdom with the Messiah. Philo's treatment of 
the conception hardly goes beyond the OT. point of view.t 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^"^^ 
(especially v.^^) 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,^ and especially by Athanasius 
(against the Arian position),** and later by Augustine,tt s^nd 
Basil of CaesareaJJ; 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 Greek influence) to hypostasis, but not more 
than an approach. 

22. 1^ nin^; ?C nhSn — J^ ^:jp ; ©BXAoi.pZur. (and so S^T) eKTt(rej'; H-P 23 
(Venet.), 252, 'AS9 iKTT](TaTO, and IL possedit. — (5 renders mp by d%, and 
omits jnd; the rendering appears to be an error of the translator, and not 

* Midrash Mishle on Pr. 822, Ber. Rab., c. i, al. 

t See Drummond, Philo-yudaeus, Bk. 3, ch. 6, p. 212; Siegfried, Philo von 
Alexand. ; Briggs, Messiah of Apostles, p. 495-514 ; Toy, "Judaism and Christian- 
ity, p. 99-102. 

X See Weber, Theologie (on Memra, Metatron, etc.). 

§ Domer, Person of Christ, Eng. transl. I., 2, p. 183 f. 

II Cont. Haer., Bk. 4, ch. 20. 

f Cont. Prax., ch. 7. tt De Trin., Bk. I., ch. 12. 

** De Decret., 13, 14, and Orat. II., chs. 16-22. XX Letters, 8, 8. 

§§ In Crit. Sac. (on 822) by Calv. Inst., 2, 14, 8, Turretine, Inst., 3, 29, and (appar- 
ently) by Dick, TheoL, ch. 30, but not by Hodge and other recent writers. 


designed to avoid the expression of primeval origin, which it brings out fully 
in the context. 5)9C 3"i|"> ]t; % antequam. — The construction of this verse, 
and particularly of aip, is difficult, o-'p is not a preposition in Heb. (RV. 
before), nor does it elsewhere occur as noun — foremost, first (what was the 
Heb. original of BS. i* irpoTipa wdvTOJv we do not know). Either (if the text 
be retained) it must be read as an Aram, form, r-"? (which is not a probable 
writing for the original text), or it must be conjecturally assumed to mean 
first. If the context (v.^^) be held to call for the temporal interpretation 
of the two predicates, we must read n^i-Nn^ (so Jerome, Ep. 140, ad Cyp.). 
The difficulty with s-ip might be avoided by reading : ins •>j'^;'d B-^pr, of old he 
created me, of yore ; there would then be no word in •' answering to the ■'^"i"' 
of *, but this would not be an insuperable objection. — 23. 3§ Trr:; (3 idefieXlu- 
aev, as if from *D-, and so & -jjprs, and Su (pass.) ->iprr'i<; 'A KarecTTad-qv; 
It ordiitata sum. The signification put, set, establish for the stem ~\0i is 
assured by 1/' 2^, and by Ass. nasak { = put, set, De., Hxvbuch); possibly this 
signification and the pour out of Heb. are connected; Ass. has nisakku 
{ = priest), and both Ass. and Heb. have HDj prince, perhaps = one set (in 
official position), possibly, hke nisakku, = a poitrer (of libations). But the 
derivation of our word from -[SD is more satisfactory (Ew., Hitz., Frank.) ; 
\"i;dj was read by 2 (and, according to one account, by 9), TrpoKex^ipt(r/iai, 
probably for TrpoKexpio-yuat, and (De.) by Graec. Ven., k^x'^M'". — 24. ?§'n':''?n; 
(Si, less well, irocTjarai. — 1§ ^laa:, lacking in <3, and perhaps to be omitted as 
yielding no satisfactory sense; we may, however, read ■'n'^sj or •'H^d (cf. 
Eccl. 11^). Bottcher's noblest of waters is not appropriate. Oort a^j'paj cleft, 
with omission of D"'?:, does not commend itself. The dag. forte in the 1 seems 
to be due to the rapid pronunciation of stat. const. — 26. |§ n*^ -'•;; @ Kvpioz, 
free rendering, or possibly = 'j"!S'. — |^ nsin; (§ aoLK-qrov^; the word is in- 
compatible with yyn (perhaps inserted from Job 5^"), and is better omitted. 
SSTIL rivers, on which see Noldeke's remark in Pink. — 1§ pnsv w'N^; Graetz 
noblest of dust, = gold (Job 28^). For 'y Dys. writes •'^Q" heights, an unneces- 
sary change; ® oiKovfieva, the origin of which is doubtful; Baumg., probably 
rightly, rejects Aram. n^^^r:•J inhabited; Heid. suggests r'i3->;', the name of one 
of the seven heavens, according to Pirke Eliezer, c. 18 (see ^ 68^) ; cf. Levy, 
Chald. Wort. — 27. J^ Jin (see Isa. 40-2 Job 22^*); @ Qpbvov, perhaps after 
Job 22^*. — (S av^nujv, = p^T\^^^, or freely takes ainn to be the upper ocean, the 
source of rain and wind-clouds, and so perhaps, in next verse, t^s vtv ovpavbv. 
— 28. |§ i^r;; write in;' (Oort, Bi.), from the connection, and ® dtr^aAe?? 
iridei. — (S T-jys vw ovpavbv (see preceding note), perhaps = "^an (cf. v.*"^) ; 
Just, and Iren. are cited in H-P as having a^ijff<Tov, and Lag. holds this to be 
the genuine reading of (5. — 29. (5^ omits * ''■, apparently by scribal error; 
Bi. omits "= as induced by the erroneous Grk. text of v.-"''; probably |^ has lost 
a line. For J§ pin (@b had pm, a good reading, but no change of |^ is neces- 
sary. — 30. 1^ t^rv; taken from stem JCN firm by <3 apfib^ovaa; Sb MJprn 
arranger (or perhaps pass., =firm, trusty); 20 ia-rrjpiyixivr); it cuncta com- 
ponens ; understood as connected with frs nurse hy' k T\.QT]vovp.iv'n (= JICN, 

IX. 1 83 

cf. Lam. 45 Graetz) ; rendered as adj. by % v.T\yri>r\-a faithful, trusty. Nouns 
of the form V'^i-j are either abstract nouns of action (Inf. abs.), or of the 
nature of Pres. Parts., usually of stative vbs. (r-3p), sometimes of active or 
voluntative vbs. (ir"?, perhaps pN lord); on the norm see Ew., § 152^; on 
the masc. form, Ges.^e, § 122, 2, c. Anm. i. For the name of agent we expect 
the form ^Bp, as in Cant, "f, and Ass. ummdiiu. Read ]r:N. Cf. BDB., s.v. 
]iCN and jaN. — 1§ s^i-V-' ^^n.xi; @ 67 w T\it.r\v ^ Trpoa^xaipev, reading v•J^Z'■;y, 
which, from the connection, is improbable. The expression, which looks tau- 
tologous, is omitted by Bi. as dittography from the context; if it be taken as 
scribal repetition, the sr ar also should probably be omitted. The line may, 
however, be retained; see note on this v. above. — 31. (5 understands nin- as 
subject, and at end of ° adds avvreXeaas, perhaps reading r^Sjn for San (Lag.), 
perhaps free translation, since (Baumg.) olKovfjievrjv suggests '?3n. — 32. The 
order in (g^ is v.32a- 34a. 32b. 34b. etc. (^v33 js omitted), a natural arrangement, 
favored by the 1 in ^n^'si, which seems to point to a preceding parallel clause. 
Bi., after the Saidic Vrs., fills out v."-^- ^3 as follows: And 7iow, my sons, 
hearken to me ; Hear the instruction [of my words ! Live to length of days'] 
and be wise, And reject not [my admonition] ! a possible but suspicious ex- 
pansion; it introduces the reward (life) in anticipation of v.^^, and employs 
the doubtful expression C'C' -[-ixS vn (in ^ 23^ the verb is different). If not 
the addition of the Coptic scribe, it is based on a doubtful Heb. text; cf. Bi.'s 
note. — 33. The Heb. text is rhythmically unsatisfactory, and, if the verse be 
retained, we should perhaps, with Bi. (see preceding note), add >nn3in at end. 

— 35. K 1NSD (Q N5,":) seems to be scribal repetition of preceding word; 
(S, iiohol fiov e^oSoi ^ojijs, read \s'5;b and ^xvb, inappropriate and improbable. 

— 36. (3 has Part, and vb. plu. in " — probably a change of the Grk. scribe, 
in the interests of rhetorical symmetry; Heb. poetry is fond of 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.^-^), to which she invites the unin- 
structed (v.^-^), urging them to partake of her provision and live 
(v.^*') ; cf. i2o-23 3i-2i_ jj^ contrast with this, stands, in the third 
part, v.^''"^*, the invitation of Folly, who, noisy and seductive (v.^^), 
sits in a prominent place and calls to the passers-by (v."'^), 
tempting the uninstructed youth by promise of secret delights 
(v.^" 1'), he not knowing that her house is Sheol (v.^^). Standing 
between these two descriptions, and interrupting their connection, 
is the paragraph v.'"^, composed of separate aphorisms ; it belongs 
by its contents in the succeeding division of the Book (10-22^"), 
and is here doubtless inserted by 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. Th& 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. f Heb. : she cries. 

X Heb. : ye foolish, or, possibly, the foolish (or, simple). 

IX. 1-2 1 85 

and spiritualizing interpretation, and has been understood in this 
way from an early period. The Midrash takes Wisdom to be the 
Law, which created all the worlds ; Procopius : the enhypostatic 
power of God the Father prepared the whole cosmos as its abode ; 
Rashi : God by wisdom created the world. The seven pillars 
have 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.).t 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. lo'^). Meat was eaten by the Jews probably not 
daily, but on special occasions (festivals), which had a rehgious 
character. % Fermented wine {Yieh. yayin) was a common article 
of food (i Sam. i6™ Job i^^ xp 104^^). It was mixed with spices 
to make it more pleasant to the taste (Isa. 5^ \p 102^'^°'). 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, Laivs, I. 9). Which sort of mixing is here intended 
is uncertain. — The table, 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 

* Gen. ii and Num. lo^S {when the ark set forward, etc.) were regarded, on 
account of their importance, as separate books. 

t For other interpretations see notes of Geier, Vitringa, De. 

+ For the preexilian custom see Dt. 1220. 21 i423-27_ and for the later usage Lev. 
173.4.13; cf. note on Pr. 7!*. The daily provision of meat on the king's table 
(I K. 423 [58]) was probably connected with a daily sacrifice. In our verse Grk. 
has slain her offerings. The use of meat is comparatively rare in Palestine at the 
present day. 


which people sat on stools (so, perhaps, i Sam. 20^) or reclined 
on divans (Am. 6^) ; cf. the tables of the Temple (Ez. 40^* Ex. 
25^). — 3. Continuous, ternary. The ma uiens 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 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 (ht. /lig/i places), elevated places where 
one could easily be seen and heard (see note on 8^) ; 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™-^^ 8^"^) as going forth to 
places of public resort, or (as might be suggested by the parallel 
v." 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.*, 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 7vith 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 siinple 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.'", 
would write : whoso is devoid of u?iders tan ding, I say to him, etc. ; 
but this would not be a natural form of address — see note on v.^*. 


IX. 2-6 18; 

— 5. Parallels, ternary. The invitation in figurative form. Bread, 
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 (RV. incorrectly : leave off, ye simple ones), an in- 
complete sentence, since the verb requires an object, as in 2" ^^ 
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 (De., Now., 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 Grk.) simplicity or 
folly ; Luther : verlasset das alberne wesen ; cf. i"-. The vioxd folly 
(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, that ye may reign forever ; 
and seek discretion, and di7-ect ujiderstanding in (or, by) knotvl- 
edge — a misreading and expansion of the Hebrew. For the 
reign cf. Wisd. Sol. 6^\ 

IX. 1. |§ nicjn; see note on i^o. — |^ nasn; (Q vTrripeuev, = n3>xn (Vogel), 
from axj; S^ nn3::D; ST mv;'; S r^^px; this reading is favored by the par- 
allelism. — 2. After nsD:^ @ has et's Kparijpa, = Db3, probably not in original 
|§ (fallen out by resemblance to preceding word, Lag.), but addition of Grk. 
scribe for completeness. — On ]n'^z' s. Moore, on Ju. i^. — 3. (3 doOXovs, perh. 
rhetorical generalization of gender, or scribal error, possibly (Lag.) suggested 
to a Christian scribe by Mt. 22^. — |^ ~-\p 'r^D \S3 S;? !<"»|T; <S <TvyKa\ov<7a (jxto. 
vtpriXoO Krj piiyfiar OS, 'p being taken as a form of .sip, and 'p 'c as adverbial expres- 
sion. (§ does not take ^cnra as = heights ; the word appears to mean raised 
streets here and in 8'^ 9^*. The addition iivl KpaTijpa of (@ appears to be erro- 
neous insertion from preceding verse. IL, freely; ad arcem et ad vioenia civita- 
tis. |§ Nipn makes a difficulty; we expect a reference to the maidens, as in 
Si3CIL, reading .ijNipn or Nip':', and this form should probably be adopted, in 
spite of the 3 p. sing. m::N of v.^. — |^ ni only here and in Ex. 21^'* where it 
= body ; Aram, and Assyr., wing ; the stem appears to mean curved, arched ; 
"SJ S;; here r= '^;', if the text be correct; cf. idj3 Ex. 21^, = in himself. — 4. For 
1^ mnx Oort al. would read i p. iSN or \-n2vS, but the change is unnecessary. — 
Gr. : iS mr;Ni T^'jr\ -ipi 2S iDni v^o ■'C. — 5. @ plu. dprwv, as in 20^8 Gen. 14^^ 
etc., free use of Grk. idiom, not (Lag.) allusion to Eucharist (Jno. 6). — 
6. pj ::'n~d; (g acppoa-vvrjv, and so all other Vrss.; read 'PD, as the sense 
requires; this word may have been read "i^d and so expanded into D'PD and 

t88 proverbs 

O^NPD. — Grk. expansion may have come from change of fijffere into fTjTiJo-aTe, 
and introduction of clause from Wisd. Sol. d"^ (Lag.) ; Baumg. suggests that 
the Grk. translator wrote §i.d}<n)Te, which was corrupted (perh. under influence 
of WS. 6^) into /SaertXei/o-ijTe, and that k. j^rfr, <ppov. was then added to com- 
plete the parallelism. Cf. Lag., Pink. 

13-18. The invitation of Folly. — The section is parallel to 
v.^"*, 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.^^), sitting in a public place 
(v.'*), calling to passers-by (v.^*), inviting the simple to come to 
her (v.^^), promising them stolen pleasures (v.''), which, the sage 
adds, lead to death (v.^*). The two sections give the contrast 
between rectitude and sexual debauchery. Cf. 5^^ 7^°"". From 
the " abrupt " way in which this paragraph is introduced (without 
such preparatory statement as is found in v.^^), 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.'^"^, 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.^^^- 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.^"^) ; 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. [] P'olly 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 : 

16. " 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 seat in (or, near). 


IX. 13-14 189 

13. Rhythm uncertain. Folly's character. The text is doubt- 
ful. Heb. : The foolish woman (lit. woman of folly) is boisterous 
(or, loud), simplicity, and knows not what (or, perhaps, anything) ; 
Grk. : A foolish and impudent woman comes to lack a jnorsel, she 
who knows not shame ; Syr. : A woman lacking in discretion, seduc- 
tive ; Targ. : A woman foolish and a gadabout, ignorant, and she 
knows not good ; Lat. : A woman foolish and fioisy, and full of 
wiles, and knowing nothing at all. — From a comparison with the 
parallel v.^ 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 De., Kamp.) is hardly 
allowable; elsewhere (11'^ 12* 21^-^ 25^27^^ 31^°) the defining 
noun after woman has adjectival force. The word rendered Folly 
(fem.) occurs only here in OT. ; the corresponding masc. form is 
frequent in Prov. ; see 122-32 ^35 gs 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^^ 7". 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 foohsh ; 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 nothing appears to do. Grk. shame 
(which suits the connection) may be doubtfully adopted ; the 
Heb. word which it implies is used elsewhere (18'^ Jer. 51^' Isa. 
50^ lA 35^ al) only in the sense of obloquy, never as = the sense of 
shame, though that may be an accident — the verb has this mean- 
ing (Ez. 16" al.). The Grk. rendering may be a free interpretation 
of our Heb. text, as the Targ. good seems to be. — 14. Synony- 
mous, ternary. Folly sits in a prominent place, where she can 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.^, instead of the 
Heb. 071 a seat in, etc. ; see notes on 8^ 9^ Folly, like Wisdom, has 
a house, in which she sets a feast ; the description of the prepara- 
tions (cf. v.^-^) is omitted, probably as an unnecessary repetition. 
— 15-17. Her invitation, parallel to that of Wisdom (v.'*^) ; v.^'' 
= v.'*; v. '^ corresponds to v.^-^ — 15. Synonymous, ternary-binary. 
She addresses herself to the passers-by (so Wisdom, i™'^^ 8^"^), 
remaining, however, at the door of her house. The expression 
those who are going their ways (cl. 2.) = the passers-by (cl. i.), 
TiO\.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.^; in 3^ 11^ 15^^ the connection is different. — 16. Synonymous, 
ternary. See note on v.*. The expressions simple and void of 
understanding, here as there, mean lacking in knotvledge of the 
world, unable to recognize good and bad {cL v.'^). Instead of she 
says Grk. has / 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.^ — 
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 wojnan of chs. 5 
and 7. Her water and bread are parallel to the bread and ^vine 
of Wisdom (v.^), only here the feasting is clandestine — the refer- 

IX. i4-i8 191 

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 whie, there may be 
an allusion to the figure of 5^^'^^ on which 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 Shades (Refaim) 
see note on 2^^. The word rendered depths also = valleys, 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^^ Isa. 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.*. — 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. 

But abstain from alien water, 

Drink not of an alien fountain, 

That thou mayst live long, 

That years of life may be added to thee. 

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 famihar expression) is 
nearly the same as v." of this chapter. 

13. J^ n'^'DD and mv^D are Att. Xe7. (both probably Aram, forms); the 
latter may come from a st. ■'^n (01s.), the a-vowel being preserved by the 
doubling of the Yod; De., following Qamhi {Miklol, 181 a), points nvno; 
from ^no we should have .•^vrs. Oort proposes Pi. nna';, which may help to 
account for (5 evSeJjs \pwixo\) (from )c and td); Jager points out that ® in- 


volves a form of pd. The connection favors the reading nnoD, = enticing. — 
In niS^DD ntt'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 's 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 r; 
Ges-'^^s § I ^o. 5 ; Moore, /«a^«, on Ju. Kf-; Driver, Z?<?«/., on Dt. 21 1^. Every- 
where else in Prov. na'x is defined by the following noun. '2 here is parallel 
to maon in v.^, and db'n must be omitted as gloss, intended to indicate that the 
nSos was to be understood as a personification (a woman). Graetz would 
write it zvn and attach it to preceding verse — a possible construction (though 
Ziyi< does not occur elsewhere with ii-'i), but the rhythm is against the addi- 
tion of a word in v.^^. — In na Jag., Hitz., Lag., Graetz, al. see the remains 
of naSo ((5 ai<Tx'JfV''}> an attractive reading (cf. Jer. 3^) if 'd may be under- 
stood as meaning the feeling of shame ; this sense it has nowhere else in OT. 
(though a^:, Ni. and Hof., is so employed) — elsewhere it = opprobrium. 
riD is always to be taken as interrog., direct or indirect, even in Gen. 38^; we 
might here read hcin:; (as in Gen. 39^), but the connection does not favor 
the resulting sense. We may doubtfully read naSo — less well (Frank.) oSsn 
(Jer. 8^'^). — 14. |§ mp ■'cir:, of which (§ tyu^oi'ws ^v TrXareiatj may be free 
rendering (see the wholly different wording of @ in v.^) ; it would seem that 
(5 takes ■'DID as = streets or squares ; see note on this v. above. ST xrtryi ndi 
and Sb t<Di (omitting the last word) also represent |^, except that ?C appar- 
ently read some form of ipi instead of n-ip (Oort). |^ is suspicious; for 
NDD we should probably read isj, as in v.^. If our text be retained, it would 
be better to insert 1 before 'p 'd, which expression may, however (Fleisch.) 
be taken as adverbial. — 15. |^ an-ir'^D (O Ko-nvBiivovTai) may be taken in 
the sense of 1L pergentes, or we may substitute the stem tj-n, as in 4I*. — 
16. 1^ m>:N; (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 |^, but 
gives no suggestion for change of our text. — 18. (5 6 5^ ou/c olSej' 6'ti 7rj7ems 
(3^x21) Trap' a.vTr^ (ot:') fiXXuvrat (iccc') Ka\ inl irdrevpov g.dov (SlNa* pDyi) 
avvavrq. (mp). On y7)yeveli cf. note on 2^^; other renderings of 'i in @ are 
veKpoi,ylyavTes; see Schleusner. ^.interpreting: jnn n'7''DN nnjJT t/iat she 
cast down the giants there. — On the added couplets in (55 see note above. 

7-12. A little group of aphorisms, belonging in the body 
of the Book; see parallel proverbs in 13^ 15^^ 19'"^ lo*-^^ 16-^"^ 
10^^ 11^^, and also i^ i/' iii^". 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.'^ with remarks which are apparently designed to pave 


IX. 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 : vJ and v.* accord in 
thought, and so v.^ and v.^, and v.^° and v." ; v.^ 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. Give (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^- "^ 15^ 23^ The term is here substantially equivalent 
to the wicked oi ?,QCon6. 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, despicableness (so Partcp. in 12^), then dis- 
grace (3^ 6^) and, actively, belittlifig, reproach, reviling, insult 
(18^) . The second, as it stands in the Heb., is Hterally spot, blem- 
ish, physical (Cant. 4^ Dan. i*), or ceremonial (Nu. 19^, and so 
everywhere in the Pentateuch, except Dt. 32^, where the text is 
corrupt) ; in Job 11'* (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.^- ^ might properly be 
put. — 9. Synonymous, ternary. The wise man. See i^ 10* 12^^ 14® 
15^, and especially 21". Wise and righteous are here put as iden- 
tical, as throughout the Book, particularly in 10^-22^^ The teach- 


ableness of the wise is allied to humility — it is the opposite of 
the posture of mind implied in the term scoffer. 

lo. 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' (with inversion of subject and predicate) 
and i/' 1 1 1^". In second cl., instead of knowledge of{ =fear of, obe- 
dietice to) the Holy One a number of versions and expositors * have 
know/edge (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 \\i 34^" Dan. 8^*, 
of angels in Zech. 14^ Job 5' x^'" i// 89^ (and Aramaic, Dan. 4^^<"'), 
but of God only here and 30^ (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. 1 2^ f and Aram. Heavens, = God, Dan. ^^'■^K 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'' ; 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 days be multiplied, 
And the years of thy life increased. 

Synonymous, ternary. Instead of ^i' me, Syr. Targ. (and appar- 
ently Grk., In this way) have 3y 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 thein than //, and the for is not appropriate) , and it 

* Grk., Vulg., Luther, AV., Procop., Rashi, J. H. Mich., al. 

+ The clause Eccl. I2ia probably does not belong to the original form of the 
verse, but it shows the linguistic usage of the later period. Bickell's emendation 
thy wife, instead of thy Creator, is, on exegetical grounds, out of the question. 

IX. 9-12 195 

may be just as well to retain our Heb. text, and 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 
withv^ For the thought see 3--^® 10^ ip-^, in which long life is 
the reward of fearing God. 

12. If thou art wise, thou art wise for thyself, 

And, if 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 Greek. The 
Hebrew, given above, affirms sharply the principle of individual 
responsibility, generalizing the idea of Ez. 18* {he who sins, he 
\_alone'\ shall die) ; 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 thou shall be wise), but the impossibility 
of vicariousness in the moral life. — Grk. (followed by Syr.) reads : 
If thou be wise, for thyself thou shall be ivise and for thy neighbors, 
but if thou prove evil, thou alone shall bear the evil ; the first cl. 
may also be rendered : if thou be wise for thyself, thou shall 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 (Jager) that the thou alone 
of the Heb. in second cl. indicates, by contrast, the presence of 
and 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 Grk. 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." 

Grk. adds : 

Who stays himself on lies he feeds on wind, 

And he will follow after winged 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 : 
He sows on an untilled, 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. Wxih. feeds on wind cf. Eccl. i", and with the 
second line, 27^ 23^. 

7. I^** is reproduced by (gABvaj. |j^. instead of n>DD reprover H-P 23. 68. 
109. 147. al. S)^ S2r had (the Grk. and 5>^ in a doublet line) nriDn reproofs, 
which does not agree with the parallelism (cf. Pink.). (gAai. fnofiTqa-erai iavrdv 
= miD or 1^ aic, and so probably the ixd}\wires ai^ry of H-P 23 al. (the Aram. 
DIB' wound, scar, proposed by Lag., seems unnecessary). J^ is better read 
iS Dir, though 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 no*?:!. — Gr. noiDi f"? id 
f>p h n|S'7 1DID yiri'?. — 8. The (g MSS. add a positive doublet of* in varying 
forms. — 9. The apparently incomplete expression jn is variously supplemented 
by the Vrss.; (§ (followed by SIL) adds a(pop\xi\v opportunity ; VL writes f|SN. 
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. |§ a^irip is rendered as plu. in all extant Vrss. (the readings of the Hex. 
are not known) except S^'^'^, and Saadia; it seems then to have been under- 
stood (except perh. in 2^) as = righteous men. — (5 adds at end : rh yap yvdvaL 
v6/jLov 8iavoias icrrlv dyadrjs, 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. |^ o is followed by % 
only; S>3C nj; (g roiJTip ry rpdwo), probably = r\2; see note on this verse 
above. — 1§ iD'Dr must be taken with indef. subject, but we should perh. read 
Nifal. — 12. On the addition of @ in * Kal roTs irX-qaiov see note on this verse 
above, and on aeavr^ Deissmann, Bibelstud., p. I20f. On the added couplets 
see notes of Lag. and Baumg., and for a translation of them into Heb. see 
De. (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, 

But a foolish son is a grief to his mother. 


Antithetic, ternary. Cf. 19-*^ 28^ Wise = 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 organized 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. 10^-22'^, 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 organized whole, with wisdom as central and 
governing principle. — The antithesis is symmetrical and exact: 
wise and glad are contrasted with foolish and grief Glad and 
grief relate primarily to external conditions, such as the satisfac- 
tion or worry which come to parents from the good or bad con- 
duct and reputation of their children ; but the emotion founded 
simply on affection is not to be excluded. The interchange of 
father and 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), \i\x\. 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 hfe, 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^-^ 26^**"^^ 42^". — 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 with 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 Encycloped., vi. (1896), 825 f. ; 
A. Bebel, Die Frau it. d. Sozialistnus , 1891 (Eng. tranl., 1894) ; Th. Matthias, Zur 
Stellung d. griech. Frau in d. klassisch. Zeit, 1893 ; Marquardt and Mommsen, 
Hdbch. d. romisch. Alterthiimer, 1871-1888 ; Gardner and Jevons, Manual of Grk. 
Antiq., 1895 ; Becker, Char, and Gallu.' As to Egypt cf. Wilkinson, Anc. Egypt., 
chs. 2. 5. 8. etc. 

X. 1-3 199 

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" 
2^^-^ etc. ; cf. v.^^-21-2^-30 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^' 8^* i^. — 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^'^*', 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'° 12^ BS. 3^ 29^-, with substitution of abns- 
giving for righteousness ; in Tob. 1 2^ the two terms are employed 
as synonyms. This usage occurs also in NT. (Mt. 6'), Talmud 
{Succa, 49/5), Midrash (on Pr. 21^), Koran (9^°^).* 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 ior 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. 

Yahweh suffers not the righteous to hunger. 
But he disappoints the desire of the wicked. 

Antithetic, quaternary-ternary. Righteous and wicked are used 
in the most general sense. The Heb. has the soul of the righteous, 
where soul = the personality, with special reference to desire or 
appetite, as in Dt. 14-^ ip 107^^ Pr. 13^^ Disappoint is lit. thrust 
away, refect, put out of cofisideration. The word here used for 
desire means evil desire (cf. note on ii*') ; for good desire another 

* It seems not to have existed among the Greeks and the Romans. 


term is employed (lo-'' ii® ^/.). 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 i/' 37 (see especially 
v.^^-^), 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 
diWne 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. 12-^ 19^^ 22^ 6^" 27^^: ^^x^^ 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, wK'Ca 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 I^t. and the Hexaplar S\Tiac 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'), 
but the parallehsm favors the translation here given. We may 
also reverse the order of subject and predicate, and render : He 

X. 3-5 201 

(or, a son) who acts wisely gathers in sjimmer, he (or, a son) 
who acts shamefully sleeps in harvest. The meaning is the same 
in the two translations ; but the first (characterizing the act 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^ — Grk. 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 (gS, and was perhaps not inserted in 5© till 
after (§ was made. — To 3n SSTC attach suff., which may have fallen out 
through foil, i; but the simple form accords with the curtness of aphoristic 
expression, and may be retained notwithstanding the ics. — 2. |§ >;'i (and 
so IL) ; <& avb^l.ov'i (and so S2^), less appropriate, since •;z'-\ .-liS forms a con- 
trast to n|iTi. — For 7\p-\-i in the sense oi justice, aid, succor to Israel (by 
Yahweh) see Ju. 5^^ Mic. 6^ and cf. the similar sense in Sabean, in Hal. 
188, 8 (p-'x). Gr. adds m2y zvz, as in 11*. — 3. |& P7?; ©aB"'- biKalav; 
between the two readings there is httle to choose. — The primary sense of the 
stem nin seems to be go, move, whence blow (of the wind), and Aram, be (perh. 
from breathe, perh. hova fall out, happen), d^nd s'ptci^czXXy go down, fall {Xrzb.); 
the noun = air (Arab.), desire, connected with breathing (Arab., Heb.), mis- 
fortune, destruction, = that which /a/A on one (Heb.). In Job 37^ nin appears 
to meanya//, but Siegf. emends to nin water (see Konig, p. 598). Cf. Fleischer, 
in De.2, p. 94, Budde on Job 62 376, BDB. Fleischer (in De., Job 378) holds 
that the primitive sense of the stem is gape, yawn. ,SC p possession ; IL insi- 
dias. @ foJiJt', = r^n, does not give so good an antithesis as |§. — ?§ av'^'n, 
for which a number of MSS. and printed edd. (see De' Rossi) have cnj3 
treacherous, apparently a gloss which expelled the tex-t-word. The variation 
of number (sing. 'S, plu. -n) is for rhythmical effect.— 4. (S (foil, by SsZ) 
vevia (iJ-Nn) &vSpa raireivot, perh. taking 5^ as = poverty makes the hand slack 
(cf. Schleusn.), or reading some form of nj;- or yr. Between B^.xn and b'nt 


there is not much choice; the parallelism ("wyr^) rather favors the former. 
The liif. 'n may be simple causative (makes ricli) or causative-reflexive (be- 
comes rich). On the couplet added in ILS^ see Baumg.'s note. — 5. The text 
of (5 seems to be based on that of |^. Its first cl. vVo% TreTratSeu/x^i/os (ro06s 
earac = '?D^'D noiD p, the 'D 'o being perh. paraphrase of f'pa njs; of this the 
third cl. diecrddri dirt) Kaifxaros v. vormuiu is a doublet, k. = y^p (what Heb. 
word 6. represents is doubtful) ; the second cl. T(f) 5^ dcppovi SiaKivif) xRVC^'rai 
is scribal appendage as antithesis to the first; the fourth cl. av€fi6<j)dopos (read 
aveixo<(>bp7)Tos) 5^ ylverai iv d/MT^rip vios Trapdvo/j.os = z'^zrz ]2 li'pa Tij (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."), 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. 49-° Dt. 33^® ; cf. De.'s notes here and 
on Gen. 49-^. — The second cl. reads in the Heb. : but the mouth 
of the wicked covers violence or violence covets the mouth of the 
wicked (identical with second clause of v.^'). Neither of these 
renderings gives any natural connection with the first clause. Vio- 
lence is high-handed, oppressive conduct — it is said {\\i 73® and 
perhaps Mai. 2'^) to cover the wicked man as a garment, he is 
enwrapped in it (13- delights in it) ; so perhaps here, it covers his 
mouth, that is, controls his speech, and therefore, his hfe. 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 13"). Graetz sug- 
gests face instead of tnouth. 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 


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."'' 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 in////. Caes., 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 
be cursed (Frank.), which offers an exact contrast to blessed, and 
should perhaps be adopted ; this verb occurs in 11^^ 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 tnind (Heb. heart), 
and one who is foolish of lips ; x\iQ prating fool of RV. is inexact 
— it is not a fool who talks, but a ma7i 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 3d century B.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 ^= foolish man), a.nd falling as the result of 
not heediftg commands, and the proverb, folly expressed, would 
then read : the wise man abides by law, talks sensibly, and pros- 

* So in Gen. I23 : in thee shall all nations bless themselves, that is, take thee as 
the standard of success ; the explanation of the expression is given in Gen. 4820. 


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.^") 
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. 

He who walks uprightly walks surely, 

But 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 ii^^, where suffer loss or evil 
(RV. smart for it) 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, per/ectness, or injwcence ; on crooked see note on 2^^. 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 hofiesty is the best policy. 

10. Mischief-makers and friendly critics. 

He who winks the eye makes trouble, 
i But 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'^"". The second cl. reads in the Heb. : and a foolish 
talker shall fall, apparently repeated from v.^ (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 


X. 8-1 1 20S 

He who winks deceitfully with his eyes causes sorrow to men, but 
he who 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 (Bickell), 
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 9*^ and cf. the simi- 
lar term in 10-^ 15^ ij/i2f (sometimes = labor, 5^° 14^). 

11. Eighteous and wicked speech. 

The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, 
But violence envelops the mouth of the wicked. 

Antithetic, ternary. The second cl. (identical with second cl. 
of v.^, 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 — life-giving 
water, or, generally, source of life, is used of God in Jer, 2^^ 17^^ 
{p 36^*^°' (De-)> i"^ 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 (14^), of wisdom or understanding (16'^), 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 m.ind of man, but being also the will of God, who thus 

* De.. Str., Kamp. al. 


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^*). 
— The expression living water (Jer. 2^^ a/.), =: 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^^) but those 
of others (so i Cor. 13'^). This clause is quoted in i Pet. 4^ in 
the form love hides a fnidtitude 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 ato?ie for (Ex. 29^^, tic), for- 
give (if/ 78^), appease (Pr. 16"). The idea in these passages is 
the same as in this verse — sin is hidden, ignored. 

6. "% nbia; ® (foil, by it) e^Xo7/a Kvplov, in which the k. is perh. original 
(Lag.), perh. interpretation. — It is doubtful whether there is any difference 
of sense between ii'vxn'^ and i:'N-i3; the former does occur in connection with 
blessing (Gen. 49^6 Dt. S^'^^), and the latter, after verbs of inflicting, in con- 
nection with punishment ( i K. 2^'' Obad.^^ Joel 4'*- 7) ; but elsewhere the two 
are used in the same sense (cf. Ez. i6i'^ with Pr. 4^). — For ^ 'd Graetz, with 
probability, suggests "ijo. |§ D::n; @ Tr4v0os dwpov (Lag. ddpSov, but cf. WS. 

* Kapar, kipper, whence koper, ransom, kapporet, covering (pi the ark), RV. 

X. II-I3 207 

14^'^), whence we may read d;:. — 7. |^ opi'; ® a^ivvvrai, = y,'-\\ as in 138 
20--'24-*; SShavei;-!; Krochmal (cited by Gr.) 2;^^^ shall be cursed {cl ll2J), 
a good reading if the ^3-1:3 be understood of men (Frank, apr). — 8 |^ '?is; 
@Baj. dffreyos babbling {^''■'''^ S)^ S-araros unsteady); the (r/coXtafwi' of ® is 
gloss on this expression, or (Jag.) on the oiaffrpecpuv (f^ -V/C) of v^. J§ aj?-; 
(5 viro(rKe\i<Tdrj<r€Tai. stumble, fall (as Arab. 03'^) ; Frank. i3?-, which, how- 
ever, does not occur elsewhere without a defining term. — 9. |§ >nv (foil, by 
all Vrss.) gives no satisfactory sense; read yi^ (so Graetz) or i*? ;?-|i; cf. ii^^ 
1320 ^ io632. On Sa; see Pink. — 10. ^ (= gb) is here out of place. @ 5 
5^ eX^X'^'' M^Tii irapp-qaias elpTivoTroie?, perh. = a^U''' n\""3;'3 n3b; Bi. n;r;"> n;a 
dSs"; /ier. Trop. is rendered by Lag. rvDDp (so in Lev, 261^), by Or. Wis h«. 
— 11. For l^'' '3 (3 has iv x^'P^, perh. scribal error for x^^^" (Grabe, Lag.)i 
— 12. On |§ ip:: see note on 6I' — ^; after nD3 occurs t/* 44^^ io6i^ Job 2i2'j, 
the primary sense of the vb, being perh. lay, heap. — © toi>s p.t\ (piXoveiKovvra^, 
= a:,'ro n^, the neg. being inserted to obtain a contrast with ». S snnna 
shame (for ^ t2"in) is scribal error, or emendation to avoid saying that love 
covers sinners (Pink.). 

13, 14. The character and use of speech. 

13. In the speech of the discerning wisdom is found, 
But for the fool's back there is a rod. 

14. Wise men conceal what they know, 

But 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 10^'^^ 14^ 15', 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.^^ 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.") . 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 who is devoid of ujiders landing, 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 frotn 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 hke. Reticence is often praised 
in Prov. ; see v.^^ ii^^ 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^« 20^^^ 

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. 

16. 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.^" BS. 40^^. 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 Hfe, 
bringing supply of bodily needs, guarding against the attacks of 
the powerful, and giving social consideration (14^ 18^ 19* 22^ 31^), 
— while the poor man is exposed to bodily and social privations 
(19* Eccl. 9^^). — 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^ — 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 1 1* 13* 23* 28®- " BS. 30" 31^-^, 
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 

X. 13-17 209 

(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 (De., Str.) ; the former term 
is used also of the wicked (ii'*) 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*) — 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."-^). 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. 

He is in the way of life who heeds instruction, 

But he who neglects admonition goes (fatally) astray. 

Antithetic, ternary. The first cl., lit. the way to life is he who, 
etc., might be rendered : he is a wayfarer to life who, etc., or it is 
the way to life when 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 

» The sense punishment, which is given by some to the Heb. word in Isa. 5I8 
I K. 1334 Nu. 3223 Dan. 92*. is doubtful, and in any case can hardly be assigned to 
it here. 


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 ms true Hon 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 uttereth 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 feehng under friendly words (26^^), 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. 
(10^- 11^^ 12^®-^ 17^ 28^) 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 up 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. 17-19 211 

adopt the construction of AV., or the reading of Grk., or else we 
must suppose that the original text has been lost, and that it 
referred to suppression of evil reports (as in v.^^ 17^), or gave 
some other antithesis to the second clause. 

13. See note on this v. above. A possible reading for ^ is ion ■'PD'^o ph^t^^ 
3S. In * Bi. omits Ni:;n for the sake of the rhythm. (5^ omits » by error. 
In ^ pd^dij} TVTTTei dvdpa cLKapBiov = aS ion -i3jV 'az'Z'. S = @; ©IL = ?§. — 
14. (5 eyylieL crvvTpL^rj, = 3np nnnc'^. — 15. |^ r:?-;, (5 daefiQv, prob. for da-de- 
vCiv ((§23 Grabe, Lag.). — 16. For f^ rxjn we should read nnnn or nis. — 
17. The expression Z'_rp n-\ii, only here; cf. i/' i6^i Pr. 2^^ 5** 15^*; the prep, 
does not appear in the Vrss. We may read -iipc''^ 'n 'x (cf. 15'^*), or Partcp. 
n-]>', or 'C 'n msa — ^ 7^-;r-a can be taken only in the causative sense, as 
everywhere else in OT. (the only other occurrence of the Hif. in Pr. is 
12'^^, on which see note). Read Qal n;'n (the :: being omitted as erroneous 
repetition of preceding .-), or, with Hitz., point ni'PD as Hith. — On the mis- 
translation of (@ see notes of Vog., Lag., Baumg. — 18. For (§^ Skaia 
(for 5^ "^P-') Grabe suggests ddiKa, Lag. (with (S"*^) doXia, which may be 
conformation to f^, or 5. may be free rendering to gain a good sense. The 
text of J^» 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. 

19. 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 wicked is little worth. 

21. The lips of the righteous feed many. 

But the foolish die through lack of understanding. 

19. Antithetic, ternary. Tongue is lit. lips. 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. BS. 20^ Malan cites a number of 
close parallels to this proverb, as talkativeness is intemperance in 
speech (Theophrast. Char. 8), and silence is a hedge about wisdom 
{Pirke Aboth, 3, 13), and cf. Pirk. Ah., i, 17, which is probably 


based on this verse. — 20. Antithetic, quaternary- (or, ternary-) 
ternary. The antithesis rests on the identification of thought or 
7nind (lit. hearty and speech {^tongue) ; it is assumed (and in 
general it is true) that they correspond to each other. A good 
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. 1-9) ; righteous and wicked are identified with wise and un- 
zvise. — 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 is 
between the nutritive power of wise thought and speech, and the 
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 
{many here = all with whom he comes in contact), the bad man 
cannot keep even himself alive ; the death referred to is the 
premature physical death which is the penalty of failure to grasp 
and follow wisdom ; see note on v.-. The thought is substan- 
tially that of 3^^'^, with substitution of the righteous man for wis- 
do7n. — A sharper antithesis would be gained by the reading ma7ty 
die through one who lacks understanding, but the change of fools 
to many is difficult ; the rendering /^^A die through one, etc., gives 
no appropriate thought. — In the first line the translation the lips, 
etc., gai7i 77ia7iy (as friends) is hardly allowed by the Hebrew. 
Cf. BS. 6^^911 , 

22. Happiness of work blessed by God. 

The blessing of Yahweh, it makes rich, 
And he adds no sorrow with it. 

Continuous or extensive (the second cl. completing the first by 
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 to 


X. 20-23 213 

Wisdom. The repetition of the subject by the insertion of it 
indicates that it is the divine blessing and not anything else that 
gives riches, that is, the divine blessing on the labor of men's 
hands. In the second cl. the term sorrow (sometimes = paitiful 
effort, toil) is used, as in 15^^ {sorrow of heart ox mind), Gen. 3'", 
for pain, suffering; the wealth bestowed by Yahweh is distin- 
guished, as being free from sorrow, from ill-gotten gain, which 
brings evil with it (13" 15^ 16^^ 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 sorrow is that of the Anc. Vrss. 
Some expositors,* taking it in the sense of labor, render : and toil 
adds ?iot 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 
God's work is hardly an OT. conception (passages like Ex. 14" 
^ 118* do not bear on this question) — man is everywhere repre- 
sented as working under God's direction; so \p 127" (which is 
cited by Ew., De., Str., as supporting their translation) affirms not 
that labor in itself is useless, but only labor unattended by the 
divine blessing. In 14^^ 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 wrong, 

But it is < abomination > to a man of sense. 

Antithetic, quaternary-ternary. The essential idea in the term 
sport is not ease of performance (De. al. : child's play), but recre- 
ation, enjoyment — so Gen. 17^^ Ex. 32^ Ju. 16^ Zech. 8^ Job 40^ 
Pr. 8^-^^ 26^^ 31^ (the sense derision which the word sometimes 
has, as in 2 C. 30^" Job 30' i/^ 2* Pr. i^^ 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 wrong {RY. wicked- 

* Saadia, Rashi, Luther, Ew., Hitz., De., Str., Kamp., Frank, 


tiess) is a strong one, sometimes expressing general enormity of 
conduct (21^' 24^ Job 31" i/' 26^°), frequently in the Prophetical 
and legal books = lewdness (Jer. 13-' Ez. 16^ 23-^ Lev. 18"), 
here badness in the most general sense. — The Heb. of the second 
line is lit.; and wisdom to a man of sense (or, imderstanding), 
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 wrongdoitig, and the predicate 
should be antithetic to sport; from the similar thought in 16^^ we 
may here read abotnitiation. 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 yi^f?/ 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. lAi. the fear of the 7uicked. The con- 
trast is between /^(Tr 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 passiin), the fear of the bad man shall be fulfilled. This 
opinion is combated in Job 3"' : 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 hfe. — In the second line the Heb. 

X. 23-25 215 

has : the desire, etc., he will grant. The he is regarded by some 
critics as indefinite (the resuhing sense being will be granted) , by 
others as referring to Yahweh. Neither of these interpretations is 
favored by the usage of OT., and the verb must be written as 
Passive. — 25. Antithetic, ternary. \At. at the passing over of the 
tempest (that is, of misfortune) the wicked is not. The Syr. has : 
as the tetnpest suddenly passes, so the wicked pet-ishes and is not 
found. In i"' the fear ( — source of fear) of the wicked is 
Ukened to a whirlwind or tempest, but (even if the Heb. 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. 12^ 14^^)- The thought 
is adopted in Mt. f^^. 

19. For 1^ '^7n> S has Xi-SPD (= Si-r) and for •;z<s, n'^ix (= ""^'fl), which 
gives a less marked antithesis than that of ||J. — C. B. Mich, (quoted by De.) 
compares the iro\v\oyla iroWa a(pd.\fxaTa of Stobaeus. — 20. <S^ treirvpufi^vos 
(|§ in^j), perh. for weTreLpaixivo^ (Lag.) — 21. |^ i;n-'; Frank., not well, gain 
as friends. — The subst. ^D^ occurs in OT. only here and 28-^, the adj. 
ten times in Pr.; aS is omitted by ©, probably by scribal error. © badly 
iirlcTTaTaL v-J/tjXd, = r^'iti r;•^^^ (pj cm i;n'). — 22. After Hif. of no^ the thing 
io which something is added is introduced generally by ^", sometimes by '"' or 
h.<; here alone the vb. is followed by ay — the prep, introduces the thing 
along with which the 2^7 is not added. — © follows p), but inserts explanatory 
phrases: ^-kX KecpaXrjv dixaiov after eiiXoyia k., and iv Kapdlg. after X^ttt]. — 
23. ncDH in |^ is to be taken as the antithesis to nor nt-;. For 'n Graetz sug- 
gests no'^D disgrace, as contrast to pn.:', taken as = sport, a partial antithesis, 
but hardly convincing. Read ^"^'p. Frank.: ncriD. (S^ iv yi\wTi d<ppu}v 
irpdaaei KaKa, = 1 r\-y; Sdd s^nz''!, in accordance with which ^ might be ren- 
dered: and {ivith enjoyment') a man of understanding {practices) -wisdom 
(omitting '?), which has no advantage over pj. \n^ @ takes njpn as pred.; 
&% follow (5 in a (2J xn-,::; for n::;), and P? in b. 1^ = 5^.-24. |^ ]r\\, 
hardly with subj. nin^ understood — there is no reason why '■' should not have 
been written, if it had been meant (cf. ^ 21^), and there is no trace of it in 
the Vrss., except in Saad. ; nor is there in OT. a clear example of the impers. 


or indef. construction of p% not in 13^'^ (on which see note below) or in 
Job 37!" (on which see Budde's note). It is better, with 5'^IL, to take it as 
Pass., and point as Hof. (cf. Job aS^^), or (Vog.) as Nif. — ©" iv dirivXeia 
a.<T€^7]s ■tr€pL(f)^peTat. (and so S), where air. perh. = tj::, as in Jer. 49'^^, and 
irep. = N2^ (cf. Schleusn., Lag.). After ^ <3^ adds dov\ev(7i di &(ppu)v 4>povLp.(f} 
(perh. from 11^^), and after ^ Kupdia 5^ dcrejSoOs e/cXe£i/'ei (perh. corruption of '', 
and cf. 15"). The additions do not belong to the Heb. original. — 25, In 
■\3VJ the 3 is taken as compar. by SSTIL Saad.; if this were the sense we 
should expect p in ^, and so <S2C render; IL has ^iiasi before fundamettttim. 
©^ diKaios 8i iKKXlvas cnb^eTai els rbv aiuiva. seems to be free rendering of J^, 
and it is unnecessary (Semler, cited and approved by Lag.) to change iKK. to 
d/cXiv^s 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^, forbidden, there- 
fore, to Nazirites) — in some forms it was refreshing (Ru. 2^^), in 
others unpleasant (i// 69^^'"^) ; see note on 25-". Hitz., Ew. 
render, in second cL, not so well : to him who, taking the Heb. 
word as plu. of majesty (Hke 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^^ and many other passages — "^ 
long 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 21/ 

mediate divine action. For life the Heb. has days in first cl., 
years in second cl. On fear of Yahweh see note on i^ — 28. An- 
tithetic, ternary. Lit. in first cl. the hope of the righteous is glad- 
ness. The thought is substantially that of v.-*- ^ — 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. Job 8'^ i/' 1 1 2^°, and so everywhere in OT., except in 
the speeches of Job and in Ecclesiastes. The aphorism looks to 
the close of Hfe. — 29. Antithetic, ternary. According to the 
Masoretic punctuation the first line reads : a stronghold to perfec- 
tion is the ivay of Yahweh ; the parallelism requires that we read 
(with Grk.) perfect (or, righteous, or, pious) instead o{ perfection. 
But, 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 iti 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 RV.) 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 Ez. i8 \p ig^^-^-^-^') ; 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 Yahweh 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 recognize the syntactical parallelism between stronghold 
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 21^^, on which see note. 

30. Permanence of the righteous. 

The righteous will never be moved, 

But the wicked will not abide in the land. 


Antithetic, ternary. The ^ereri ir" s :.e same as diat of 
v.^, b'Jt there is spe:^. reference to the pri\Tlege5 of citizenship. 
The 5e~::~ent of love of country was reinforced a:.. ::.g the Israel- 
.:r- ?-.'. probably to some extent among other ancient Semitic 
' e : : 'cs ) bv a definite view of the relation between the deitv, the 
c ".::"., and the land. The favor of the deity was confined to his 
c T- h:. ' "Tid people, and the prosperity of the man was insepa- 
r : :::iected with his share in the soiL In ancient times this 
v.r :s held in a crude, unethical way (i Sam. 26^) ; in Israel 
.1; .--- rially purified by intellectual and moral growth, but 
-e er ^.h _ .en up — it was always in the land of Canaan that i 

: e r .:h. : e . as to come to the people. The prophets inter- 
preted exi^e as a temporary cessation of privilege, a preparation 
for a higher destiny Qer. 27* Ez. 39^® Isa. 53>. Th:= r jsses- 
sion of tiie soil, dwelling in the land, came to be the e r. :-yni of 
the hi^est blessing (^ 37"*, c£ ML 5'), and is s: :5ei here. 
The expression retained its validity in the Greek r t: : i in sj :e 
erf the dispersion of the people (cf. Dan. 12 ES. 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 i® ^^. 

31. 32, Speech of righteons and wicked: The exptesslons are 
n:: 7e:frh :!ear; the text :- : rr-; - :n h r^e:. The Heb. 


51. Themondt of the : :'- r :- vir- ^ -. 

Bat the tongue cf z h- hi.. ; . .: -. 

32. Thelipsof the rl^ • :- --. : .: :i"!e, 

Eat the tnoath cf :zt i.^^i _; f_^. ...._. 

31. A-:hhr::c, ternary. The caisatr/e ser.=e uffir seems to be 
required oy tae connection; but eLacshere («> 62- ■ 92"*"^ ) tnis 
form of the verb means sprout, grow, increase (the causative form, 
make grow, occurs in Zech, 9*^) . As the text stands, the antithe- 
sis is implicit Instead of saying that the tongue of the wicked 
utters folly or fabehood (as in v.*^, 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 

X. 30-32 219 

•A 36^^^' 37** 59^^*^^^ 144* (the reference in the Psalms is generally 
to national enemies) Pr. 4-* 10" ^^ 12^^-^^ 15^-^ Eccl. lo^^-^^, etc. — 
32. Antithetic, quaternary-ternary (or, ternary-binary). A simple 
statement of the difference between the utterances of the two 
classes of men. Acceptable is that which gives content, pleasure, 
to man (Esth. i*) or to God (Pr. 8^ 11^ 12^, etc., Isa. 49'', 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 
tnan as subject; here we shall better, with Grk. and Hitzig, 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 b (5 Trapavofila may = pi'^v; (^ "^iVn) ; whether xpo'fJ-^vois represents 
vrhv or some other word is uncertain. — 28. |^ pVnh Aope; <& ivxpovl^^h lasts 
long (because there is always hope), or, less probably, is deferred (because 
only a hope), or perh. represents some other Heb. word, as inx.-^. — 29. ?^ Tt'; 
® (?i6/3os, as in v.'^^; S>^ (with note ol Xoiirol wa-avrus) 656s, which may be 
conformation to |^, or may be original (@. — 1§ ar must be pointed on; De. 
suggests that the Masoretes here pointed the word as subst. because the adj. 
is not found elsewhere with prefix. 2;^ occurs nine times in ethical sense (in 
poetical books only), twice of physical purity (Cant. 5^ 6^), once of social 
habitude (Gen. 25^") ; it is an ethical term of the later literature (Job, Pss. 
Pr.). — 31. 1^ 2y is doubtful, since it elsewhere means sprout, grow, and 
even Hif. is hardly satisfactory; Hitz.'s emendation li>a^ is not improbable. 
@B dTToo-Tdfei may = at> or ^y (Jag. in Lag.), or may be error for eirljTaTai 
(so (§23.2.52 ^H)^ |,j,-,, (as in v.3^). — 32. lit ]y;^y, we should probably read 
ji;3' (cf. 152). 

* Cf. Job 338, where there is a similar difficulty, and the second cl. should per- 
haps read: my lips speak what is sincere. 


XI. The contents are similar to those of ch. lo, but there are 

several new groups, as v.^"- ", ^^"^', "^^^ 

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 i6^' 
2q1o. 23^ and cf. 20^*; for the earlier legal precept see Dt. 25^^ Ez. 
45^" Lev. 19^. On abo7nination 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 pi-f'^' and elsewhere (which properly =//^//j-) ; 
it occurs in Mic. 6'^ 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 setise 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. 7^" Jer. 49^*^ (and the adj. in Pss.). With this 
proverb cf. 13'" i5'^ i6^*-^^ 18'' 22^ and the Eng. "pride will have 
a fall," and for other parallels see Malan. — Instead of tJie himible 
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 
oi pride is probably not the one meant bv the proverb, 



XI. 1-4 221 

3-6. The saving power of goodness contrasted with the de- 
structive power of evil. The point of view is tiiat 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. 

3. The integrity of the upright will guide them, 
And the wickedness of the wicked will ruin them. 

4. Riches profit not in the day of wrath, 
But righteousness rescues from death. 

5. The righteousness of the perfect smooths his path, 
But the wicked will fall by 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 ; ruin = 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, are guided by God — the wicked, being bad, are destroyed 
by God). — 4. Antithetic, ternary, or quaternary-ternary. The 
day of wrath 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, death, that is, 
death premature, sudden, violent, or otherwise unhappy (in sec- 
ond cl. Targ. has evil death) ; see note on 2'*. In the prophets 
the day of wrath has a national signification — it is the day in 
which Yahvveh visits the sin of Israel or of other nations with 
famine, pestilence, exile, or overthrow ; in the Wisdom books 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 = almsgivi?ig (cf. note on 10'-) ; see Tob. 12^, and cf. BS. 29^^ 

— 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.^ : goodness is socially helpful, badness is hurtful. The iden- 
tity would be complete if we could render in second cl. in (or, by) 
their own wickedness. The Heb. word (see note on 10^) has two 
assured senses, desire (always evil) and calamity or destruction 
(17* 19^^ Job 6^" 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^ i/' 35^), possibly that of the capture of a city 
(16^-). The term wicked of the second cl. is the same as that so 
translated in v.^''. 

7. The text is uncertain. The Heb. of first cl. reads : 
When 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 

XL 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 De. ; 
but the term (as De. 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) we expect a definite ethical 
term as equivalent or opposite to the wicked 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 
plu. (found here) being never elsewhere so employed. The ren- 
dering sorrow (Ew.) 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 iniquity. But, in the two 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 14^^), 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 10^ 11*; cf. note on 14^^ — 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 

* Saad., Luth., Hitz., Zock., Noyes, Reuss, Str., Kamp. 

t The change of form of the verb, from Impf. in first cl. to Perf. in second cl., 
is not to strengthen the thought (as '\i perishes, will perish . . . has perished), but 
is rhetorical variation. 


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. 21^^ 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''^), 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 
Hfe 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 oi pure, sacred (so ^profane), as in Isa. 10^ (and the verb 
in Jer. 3^ Isa, 24'' Nu. 35^ ^ 106^) ; then it passed to the sense 
of morally impm-e, out of relation with God (so RV. godless). 
Lat. : siinulator ; 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 10-') 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, 14'^-^^ 22^), or by knowing the wiles 
of the impious and avoiding them. The converse statement is 
found in 10^^, where the righteous saves with his lips, and the 

XI. 7-9 225 

wicked die through ignorance. In general in Pr. the effect of 
evil and good is confined to their possessors. — Grk. : in the 
mouth of the impious is a snare for citizens, but the knowledge of 
the righteous is prosperous, a free rendering of the Heb. (with 
some changes of text), affected by next verse. — If we suppose 
second cl. to be isolated, standing in no logical connection with 
first cl., its meaning may be that knowledge ( = wisdom) is the 
saving thing in life — a conception which controls chs. 1-9. 

XI. 1. |§ n^'^r; (5 SlKaiov. On the use of 5. in the 2d century B.C. cf. 
Deissmann, Bibehtudien, pp. 112 f. — 2. On f-'p see note on ■^^. — Stade 
(^VVbch.) suggests that ■:ri is Aram.; he refers to 13!', which has the general 
form of our v., only with nsr: for pr, and aj>;'j -well-advised for Z';yi humble, 
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 yjx 
in Mic. 6^ is against regarding it as Aram. (Baumg.). — ©'' arbiM. hk raireivuv 
IxeXerq. uoplav, in which ar. is perh. repetition from 10^2, and /j.€\. insertion 
for clearness. IL, for the sake of formal symmetry : ubi autem humilitas ibi 
et sapientia. — 3. Kethib 3i.;'i (adopted in ©) is scribal error for Qere air;. — 
^ I^'D; & S.-21 /rzVf (a guess; cf. Pink.); IL supplaniaiio ; 3E, verb jSa^jj, 
shall be driven forth. The stem •-|"'D = move on ; Arab, pass by or forward; 
Jew. Aram, turn aside ; Heb. turti aside, upside down. — (S" a.iToQa.v^v diKatos 
iXiirev fj.eTdfj.fXou, perh. = cnjn DTi-' Pfc2 (Jag., Bi.) ; cf. v.'''; see notes of Lag., 
Heid., Baumg.; (3^ = ^ vP\ = ?^.— 4. |^ p; E i^^P^ deceit, = jis.— 
(gi09.i47 give |§; the v. is lacking in all other @ MSS., perh. by scribal over- 
sight, possibly (Heid.) omitted from dogmatic considerations, because it seemed 
to favor the rabbinical doctrine of justification by alms (cf. Baba Bathra, \oa) 
or by the study of the Tora (see the Midrash), against the Christian doctrine 
of justification by faith. — 5. |§ :r;;; Bi. =;. — ?^ "-3^; Yalkut id':"; Ber. 
Rab. nn-T, both free renderings, or citations from memory; cf. v.^. — 6. The 
singular construction of » (-p without suff.) is not supported by Gen. 96 (De.) 
or yp 32<5 (Now.) ; these passages do not leave the reader to infer the subject 
of the verb from a preceding predicate; read o^i--, with gSSTIL- — 7. See 
note on this v. above. For the impossible djs (elsewhere only Hos. 9* 
Isa. 40-6- 29 ^ 78=1, the last better c^is, cf. ^ 1052^) we may read (with @ 
do-eiSwv) d'^w (Bi.), or ps (but this latter term cannot be taken as concrete); 
but the form of the whole v. is doubtful. In * anx, 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 \ — ]^ niv ; (g ei)pa.%, = n^s (Jag.) taken as = persecution. — 1§ i;n- ; 
@ di/T' axiTov, for his sake, or in place of him. — 9. r^v>2, with the mouth, as 
njj-ta, by knowledge; or we may write hq^. — qjn is to turn away (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 so in Pr. of 


the wicked m general. — i^i^ aae^Civ (n<^ d/naprwXwv) ; AS9 viroKpir^i; Sb V^JJ 
wicked; % '"'21 treacherous ; IL simulator. — ^^ injj-\ mz'i; @ 5ro7is TroX/rotj, 
perh. = 'T (or nncn) nnB*. 

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'^ 28'^ 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 in the 
prophets (Am. 4^-^ Hos. f Mic. f-'^ Isa. 3" ^^ Jer. 22--^ Ez. 22'=i^). 
But, for them the nation is the unit, and the worship of other gods 
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 jnouth (utterance, counsel) of the ivicked (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. Con- 
tempt, lack of due regard for one's neighbor, may show itself in 
various ways : in 14'''^ (where its opposite is care for the poor) it 
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 se7ise (lit. heart) because he thus makes enemies and involves 

XI. IO-I4 22/ 

himself and others in difficulties ; it is obviously the part of dis- 
cretion (or, U7idersianding) to keep silent. The reference is not 
immediately or mainly to the kindhness (to the neighbor) that 
should seal one's tongue, or to reflection on the fallibility of human 
judgments that should 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. — Grk. a man 
lackiiig in sense shows contempt for hisfellozv-ciiizens. — 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-® 9*'^^ Ez. 22^ Lev. iq*'. It is unnecessary to render by he 
who goes about as a talebearer (RV.) ; the goittg 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 20^'; 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 jna?i reveals the deliberations of the assembly (or, 
council) — by the Lat. 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. 

Where there is no guidance a people falls, 

But 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 
rehgious element) is not a folksaying, but the reflection of a man 
hving in contact with pubHc 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^^) 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 hajids) ; cf. 6^ 17^* 22^". Suffer \s 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 31^^ 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 hcentious 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 fi-om 
her family and her circle of friends. — The Grk. expresses a fuller 
antithesis by means of two couplets : 

A gracious woman obtains honor for her husband, 

But a woman who hates righteousness is a throne of dishonor. 

The slothful come to lack riches, 

But the manly lean (securely) on riches. 

Lines 1,4 represent the Heh. ; /or 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 i/' 94^) ; hates righteousness indicates that gracious is 
taken as = righteous; line 3 may be rendered: they who are 
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 two 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 (jNIich.): he who does good to himself 
is kind {to others) atid he who is 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 
^y._i8-2o. 24-26^ the subjects of the lines are such words as righteous, 
wicked, kind, cruel. 


10, 11. n>-ip (v.i°) occurs in preexilian prophets (Hos. Isa. Hab.) and several 
limes in Pr., np (v.i^) only in poetical books (Job 29" Pr. 8^ g^- ^■^ 1 1^^) ; the use 
of the two words is not a ground for supposing difference of authorship in the 
twov. (so Hitz.jwho omits v.^''), since both terms seem to have been common in 
the writer's time. — (§^ here omits v.^"'' (which it gives in v.^b) and v.^'^ making 
one couplet of v.^"*-^!''; the omission, apparently scribal error, is supplied in 
(tgABbsc (taken, according to Si", from G). (5 Karupdojo-e (i":'>n) is changed 
to KaTiJipxv'^o-To by Lag., who refers the present (5 text to Theodotion. — 
12. 1^ n-.-i; (@ TToXlras, as in v.i'\ a political interpretation natural in a city 
like Alexandria. — 13. '?^3"> elsewhere = j/a«a'i?/',- so Ez. 22^ "i •'"^•jn, Jer. 6-^ 
9^, and probably Lev. 191^ Pr. 20'^. The vb. T^n has the sense oi going abotit, k 

Jos. 14!'^. For the construction here cf. Isa. 33^^ ppis t'rn one who walks in 
righteousness ; cf. also the common construction in which 'n is defined by an 
Inf. abs. The st. is '?D"i go, whence the noun = a going, gadding, and, as the 
principal occupation of gadabouts is malicious gossip, talking maliciously, 
and so slander. "I'^n is sometimes followed by an adj. which describes the 
condition of the subject of the vb., as in Gen. 15^ (^I go childless), 2 S. 15*^ 
Job 24!'^, 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 ^'rn describes the condition rather than the action of the subject. 
Cf. SS., in which both constructions of — 1 are given, adj. under "i^n, subst. 
under Ppi. — On ib see note on 3^-; @, freely, ^ouXas kv ffwedpiq). — 14. |§ ^d^ 
0'; (§ TriiTTOva-Lv wcnrep (pOWa, = r\'-'y'D, cf. v.^^ (J^gO- — For |§ y/^ (sing., 
defining the category) the Anc. Vrss. read nsi' counsel, as in 121^ 20^8, and 
this is perh. preferable as corresponding more precisely to p'^ann in first cl. — 
15. In 1^ "^i >n the vb. must be taken as Nif. of ;•;•-! (not >'n, Ges.^s § 67^), 
and the ;n as intensive nominal addition, performing the function of Inf. Abs. 
(cf. Ew. § 312 (^); and we may point >i (Gratz). Siegfried, in IVbch., pro- 
poses to omit 3,'n\ or to read j,-ii >n, Inf. Abs. + Impf Qal, which is the usual 
construction; but, as Nif. occurs in 13-"^ and the jn is intelligible, the change 
is unnecessary. — For pj 2-y] ^o read 3nV. — 1|? it; Gr. -n*^, as in 6^; see note 
on 20^^. — The verb >pp occurs in the sense of making a bargain only in Job 
and Pr.; this limitation is perhaps an accident, f^ =V|i'r, Act. Partcp., should 
perhaps be written j'pn Inf. — the a may have arisen from following 3 ; SS. 
suggests Pass. Partcp. (cf. opK';, Eccl. 4I) ; for Act. Partcp. as = abstract noun 
C^an, Zech. 11", is not decisive. — © irov-qpbs KcxKowoid (V') Srav avixfxl^rj 
diKaltf) (ir) /jLicre? Se Tixov aacpakelas (n03:D i'pr-). In second cl. S h3.9, hates 
those 7vho confidently hope ; ^T hates those who put their trust in God. It was 
chiefly the word C"p."i (ii, laqueos) that embarrassed the ancient translators. 
For further discussion of the readings of the Anc. Vrss. see notes of Jag., 
Schleus. Lag. Heid. Baumg. Pink. — 16. See note on this v. above. For 
|§ jn we might read '^;n, as in 12* (recalling also the ^^n r'L:'x of ch. 31), but 
the jn also gives a definite and natural character. — Whether or not the 
expanded text of © (adopted by Bi.) comes from a Hebrew MS. may be 
doubtful; but the strangeness of the expression 6p6vos drtyotias and the vigorous 

XI. I8-I9 231 

curtness of |^ favor the originality of the latter. 3CiL agree with J^ ; ^ follows 
<3- — 17. 1^ iNtf"; <3 <rw/xa; S or/cous, probably for oi/ceious (Schl.) ; % pro- 
pinquos. — 1§ 'ipx; see note on 5^; ^ writes a form of ijj, there properly, 
here improperly. 

18-21. Contrasted rewards of virtue and vice. Antithetic. 

18. The wicked earns delusive pay, 

But he who sows righteousness real wages. 

19. If one < follows after > righteousness, (it leads) to life, 
If one pursues wickedness, (it leads) to death. 

20. They who are of wicked mind are an abomination to Yahweh, 
But they who are perfect in their walk are well-pleasing to him. 

21. The wicked will assuredly not go unpunished. 
But the righteous will be rescued. 

18. Ternary. The form of expression is taken from industrial 
life. Real wages is lit. reward of truth. The gain of a bad man 
is not real, for it is not enduring (10^), and cannot save him from 
misfortune (n*), but he who sows goodness shall reap prosperity 
(10^*) — 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 ; of. 
note on v.^. The I,atin has a slightly different form : 

The ungodly does unstable work. 

But to him who sows righteousness there is a faithful reward; 

but the idea of pay, wages for work done, is clearly found in both 
clauses. Goodness, says the proverb, is commercially profitable 
— the pay is prosperity, insured by the laws of man and the 
favor of God. — 19. Ternary. The second cl. is lit.: he who 
pursues wickedtiess, to his death (RV. doeth it to his own death). 
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 i^--^ 2-'" 3^. The wording of the first cl. is 
doubtful. The more natural rendering of the Heb. is so righteous- 
ness {tends) 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 Pr., 
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 (Ew., see note on 15', 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, tvkat 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) sott (Grk. a righteous 
son is born tinto life). The expression son of is used frequently 
in OT. to denote doom or quality, but always evil quality: 31® 
sons of destruction, i{/ 79" sons of death, i// 89'^^'^^^ son of wicked- 
ness, and the common son of depravity {belial, i Sam. 25'', cf. 
note on Pr. 6^-) ; 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 {Wi. feeds on, 
15''*) ; cf. 12"*, 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-^ 14^ 15^. 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 peifect 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-'. 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 dixo. oppo- 
sites, originally rituahstic, here ethical; see Dt. 7-" Lev. 22-', and 
notes on 3^^ 8^^ — 21. Ternary. The idea is a fundamental one 
in Pr., the reference being always to retribution in this life ; see 
j26-33 221-22^ etc. Assurcdfy (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 I = wrv word for it I 
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.^* above, 6\ and Job i f" who will clasp my hand (enter 

XI. 19-22 233 

into a bargain with me, be my security) ? The rendering though- 
hand {Join) in hand (RV.) = though tnen unite their forces, 
against which the form of the Heb. sentence is decisive; cf. i6^ 
The translation (Schult. Ges. after the Arab, usage) frotn genera- 
tion to generation, = through all titne, is not supported by Heb. 
usage. Saad. : as the turn of hand to hand, apparently = sud- 
denly. Rashi explains the clause to mean : from the hand of God 
to the hand of the wicked the retribution will come. Targ. and 
Syr. : he who lifts his hand agai?ist his neighbor shall not be held 
innocent of evil, a mistranslation. In second cl. the Heb. 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-^ (where seed is contrasted with offspriitg), and not 
posterity (a sense which the word often has) ; a reference to pos- 
terity (Berth, al., 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 Gen. 24^- Ju. 8-* Isa. 3-^ Job 42", and Lane's J/(2««<frj- 
and Customs of the Modern Egyptians, Appendix A. The term 
rendered discretio7i signifies first physical taste (Ex. 16^^ Job 6"), 
then capacity of intellectual discrimination (i Sam. 25^ Job 12^"), 
and apparently also ethical and religious judgment (i/^ 119^). It 
occurs in one other place in Pr. (24^^), where it means intellectual 
judgment, opinio7i, answer 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 
of mind and character in a woman as in the presence of a rich 
ornament on the coarsest and uncleanest of beasts (so the Grk.) ;* 

* There is no allusion to a ring used to lead animals, for which process Heb. 
employs the word hook (2 K. 19"^** Ez. 19*). 


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, 1 6^, = Jer. 48^°). 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. 49^5 or of God (Isa. 13^^ Zeph. i^^) ; 
such is its sense in 1 1*, 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 lo-^--^ 11^, 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. Lit. thei-e is one who spends. The terms and 
the sense seem to be general — there is no special reference to 
almsgiving (as in \\i 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. (n^s-zs 1423 
21^), 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 tnore than is proper is incorrect) ; want is lack, deficit. 
See a similar thought in BS. 11". In second cl. the Lat. (and so 
the Syr.) has, incorrectly : Others seize what is not theirs, and are 
always in want. — 25. Synonymous (a form of rare occurrence in 
chs. 10-15), ternary. Liberal man is lit. person (lit. soul) of 
blessing, 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^*', cf. 
Pr. 13'* 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^^ 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 withholds co7-n in time of fatnine 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 nnr, itL:*; the latter Stade would write 138' 
or ^-\yv (so 5i), since the usual noun-form is i^u'; the assonance, however, 
may be intended; % may be free rendering of ||J. The Participles express the 
general rule; ^z-; is to be understood in second cl. ® a-iripua 5^ dcKaioji', as 
in |§, v.2H^, which see. — 19. See note on this v. above. Omit the suff. in 
inb, as in all Anc. Vrss. — ^ j:; <§ (followed by &) viSs, and Bi. p; ^ Njsn 
nayn JND, apparently taking p as = -\-z'i<2; IL dementia, perhaps taking npnx 


in the sense of alms (Baumg.), and p from stem |i3, or possibly reading p. 
The connection calls for a term parallel to the r|Tic of •>; Kamp. 7\-p, he who 
associates with, after 15I* Hos. 12- -^ 37^; Gr. JJ3, graphically easy, but not 
appropriate in sense, even though, with Vogel, we supply "7 lani; r\t"i is 
graphically possible in the old alphabet, but not easy; to ]dd the same objec- 
tion lies as to }J3; Kamp.'s emendation may be provisionally accepted. — 
20. In ^ @ has bhoi for |^ 3^, assimilation to •>, and in •* rhetorically inserts 
Trdz'Tes. — 21. With T''? ti cf. the common expression ^i^ ;"|ir, strike hands. — 
|§ □P^S yir; (5, not so well, 6 cnrelpuv diKawa^vriv, = npix y-\r. — For |§ aSni 
© has Xrifi^peTai ixKrdbv TTLarSv, after v.^*'' (Lag.). — 22. |§ 3nr (favored by the 
rhythm) is lacking in (5^, found in (g**"^"; the epithet is often inserted in |§, 
but sometimes omitted, as in Hos. 2'^ Isa. 321 Ez. i6^'^. — 23. J^ ni^-.'; 
(5 dTroXetrat, = m^s", and so De' Rossi 941, a natural reading, but not dis- 
tinctly antithetic to the 2b of ». — 24. |§ nr^; Perles, Analekt., p. 88, iti';? 
wealth, which is appropriate, but not better than |^. — ^, in ^, elcrlv Kai oi 
ffwdyovres, apparently free rendering of |^. — 25. In |^ n^" 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. r]\y, whence n>, nn', ny, or (Fleisch., De.), by metath- 
esis, r\y\ ny^; or, from st. rn-i (Hos. 6^) we may get Hof. ny, ny; it is, 
perhaps, better to emend to Hof. (Bi.) or Nif. (Gr. ) of nn; 2C takes the form 
from Hif. ^^^r^ teach, & from lis curse, both improbable. O is corrupt; its 
Tracra a.it\ri is perhaps for Triavdy]<TeTai %vill be fattened (so 'A29), and its 
6v/x(ji5ris for /xidvaos (S), or perhaps = tnc one who excites atiger ; €^(rx'»7MWJ' 
may = ^N^D aa, or may represent a form of hdv — 26. |§ ^7\1■-i'^■, @ viroXliroiro, 
= Aram. p^U' (so S^T). 

27. Kindness gains goodwill. 

He who seeks good < wins > favor, 

He who seeks evil, it will overtake him. 

Antithetic, ternary. The word rendered favor may = good- 
will, acceptance (12^ 14^), or what pleases, what is acceptable 
(10''^, etc.); see note on 8^. The good and evil are better taken 
in a wide sense, as embracing moral (as in Am. 5^*) and general 
conditions (as in 3^-^ 13-^ 1/^91'" 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. cottie tipott (or to) hi}?i. 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, we have (in the Heb. 
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 
pleaswg to them — an idea found nowhere else in Pr., 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 witi, 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 bri?igs down on him- 
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 
10^ II'' 1/^ 62^°*"*. 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 faR 
(see ^ ^^ if), by the change of one Heb. letter, or (as in the Grk.) 
by reading rise instead oi flourish. The former of these changes 
gives a natural sense, but it is hardly necessary ; difference of 
metaphor in two clauses of a proverb is not unnatural. 

29. Economic folly of stinginess. 

He who brings distress on his household will have the wind as his possession, 
And the foolish will be slave to the wise. 


Synonymous, ternary. For the verb brings distress on, or harms 
{KV.troubkth) see 11' is^^^ Gen. 34"'« i Sam. 14^ i K. i8'^ 
hotisehold 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 \2'-^^ 
j^M9 jy2. j.|^g x^z.v\. who, by incapacity, negligence, or niggardli- 
ness, fails to nourish and build up his household will find his re- 
sources reduced to nothing ; for 7vind, as = nothingness, see Jer. 
5^^ Eccl. i". The second cl. restates the case : a man guilty of 
this economic and moral folly becomes literally or virtually a slave. 
The a/zVif man (lit. luise 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. 5^ 
Pr. 12^ 17^ 30^", 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 : 
froin the fruit of righteousness grows a tree of life, but the lives of 
the lawless are taken away untiinely, in which the word tititimely 
probably represents an expression containing the Heb. term ren- 
dered violence by RV. (10® «/.), and we may read : 

The revenue of righteousness is a tree of Ufe, 
But rapine destroys men's lives. 

* See A. Griinfeld, Stellung der Sklaven bei den Juden, etc. 

XI. 29-31 239 

Antithetic, ternary. 7^r«/V = product, revenue (8"); rapine in- 
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" 
15^" 21*'. 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 Gratz : 

The mouth of the righteous is a tree of life. 
But the wicked harms himself. 

This gives an appropriate sense ; for the first line cf. 10", for sec- 
ond line 8^^. The changes required in the Heb. text by this 
emendation are, however, somewhat violent. Ewald and others 
arrange v.^- ^ in the order : v.^*- ^*' ^^- ^^, but nothing is thereby 

31. Certainty of retribution for sin. 

Behold, 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 if (so the Grk.) — the 
sense of the clause is not thereby changed. The verb punish is 
lit. repay, 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 : " he 
who sins even a little will be punished, and he who sins much will 
receive greater punishment." It appc^-s to be directed against 


those who fancied that sin might somehow escape God's notice ; 
cf. Eccl. 8", and, contra, Eccl. 3^^ 9I 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 faUing 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 
221.22^ The reading of Grk. (quoted in i Pet. 4^*) if 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 |§ u'|"'3'' Gratz doubtfully proposes \)v finds, which occurs in 3^8 
g85 12^ i822; this is not graphically hard, and gives the desired sense. On 
•\r\v and ^'p^ see notes on i-** 2*; e-n is frequently used of inquiry at an 
oracle (Gen. 25^2 Ez. 141"), but means also simply seek (Dt. 222). — 28. |§ "^bi; 
Ewald '73\ — 1§ ^!?"3; (S avTiXa/jL^avd/xevos, — n'^jjD, as Partcp. (Jag.) or ^yb 
(Ew.); Bi. reads n^yo as Subst., h'ohe ; Ew. n^i;r, 2.% — immer h'oher ; Gr. 
oSnN3, as aloe trees. None of these readings offer decided advantages over 
|§. — 29. |§ 13;; (5, periphrastically, 6 /xtj <Tvvn-epi(l>ep6fiefjLos, he who does not 
act humanely. — In ^ S has a doublet, in one form following |§, in the other 
(S, in both cases with variations — an indication of the variety of sources from 
which our present <S text has been constructed; here it is probable that the 
|§ form is the later. — 30. <@ ex Kapirov 8iKaio(nji>r]s (ptjerai diudpov ^wrjs, an inap- 
propriate figure — the fruit should rather come from the tree; in ^ the fruit 
(= outcome) is the tree, a mixed but not impossible metaphor. J^ pyi; point 
pnx, after (g. For ^ >-\d Gratz reads ''O, as in lo^^, which is, perhaps, better. — 
For J^ n|->> (3 appears to have read n^h or npSj, which it renders freely by 
d4>a(.povvTai doopoi, are untimely taken away, and its Ewpoi probably represents 
D-:n, for J§ cjn (see 10^ I3''^)> <^i- Frank. — & follows @, with one variation. 

XI. 3I-XII. I 241 

— For |§ DDH nfcj Gr. proposes o-'n ^-cs:, as in 8^^; he should then read •;-y-\ 
for np-' (cf. lo"). This offers a natural contrast, but the change of "? to ~i is 
not easy. Read Dcn for J^ D;n (Frank.). — 31. In place of |^ i'"'^*^ (S has 
fx6\ii (a (XTT. Xe7.), the origin of which is doubtful. <§ may render ^ sVi'^ 
paraphrastically by fi6\is ffw^erai, or /x6Xts may represent a separate Heb. 
word, as i3>C3 (Gr.), or v'?N3 (Bi.), or vcn'^ (Jag.) ; aw^erai may then = d''?\v 
taken in good sense, or it may = yu'v, or (Held.) oSd' (it is nowhere else the 
rendering of o*:";"). S follows <3, having iDnt*^ for n6\is. ST appears to have 
been influenced by S; it retains J^ V^'^* but (here alone) renders a'^-'" by 
jD.-i::r, a term which elsewhere means control one's self (i"'Dn), or cotne into 
possession of ('^ni), but here, from the connection, must = strengthen one^s 
self, grow strong (and in ^ it has : biit the wicked and the sinners vanish from 
the earth). J^ and (5 give two different texts, with different ideas; we cannot 
combine them, writing o^'yi*' Ybn2 (Bi.) or "> Di'D3 (Gr.), for "> then gives no 
appropriate sense (we get a good sense, however, by writing a'^c'). Either 
text is possible; that of f^ perhaps accords better with the general tone of 
Proverbs. In "^ (§ has irov, = hj^n, for |^ -D 1^! 2^ assimilates the form of the 
clause to that of *. 3L follows |^. Saadia : would to God the righteous might 
be at peace in this world, then how the wicked and the sinner ! Cf. notes of 
Hitzig, Heidenheim, 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, 
But 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 loves instruction, 
But 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--\ Stupid (lit. like a brute ani?nai, 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 (niSTtt, wickedness, wicked devices) 
see note on i''. 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 thoiight, pujpose it occurs in Jer. 23-" 30^* 
51" \\i 10^ Job 42^. Condemn is a forensic ierva, = 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^ 2^1 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 instrumentahties. 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 who acts badly is as rottenness in his bones. 

Antithetic, ternary. For other references to wives see 11^^ 19^* 

XII. 1-4 243 

7^ 9^ J the treatment of family life belongs naturally to the gnomic 
Hterature both by the character and by the date of the latter. 
The wife of first cl. is described in the Heb. as a woman oi power, 
capacity ('?"n), a term which, when used of men, expresses the 
vigor or prowess of the warrior (Ju. 3'-^, etc.), or intellectual 
strength (Ex. 14-^), or physical wealth (Ru. 2^ Pr. 13^2, etc.). Of 
women it is used only four times in OT., once of Ruth (Ru. 3"), 
and, in Prov., here and 31^°"-^; 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 virtuous 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 cnnvfi, 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. 10') ; 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 bofies. The 
bones represent the substantial framework of the body (see 14^"). 
— Here and in ch. 31 the wife appears as manager of the eco- 
nomic affairs of the household, hke the lady of medieval Europe. 
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 teaching is 
expressly mentioned in 6-" (cf 31-*^), and in the later history (Jo- 
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. The plans of the righteous are just, 
The designs of the wicked are deceit. 

6. The words of the wicked lie in wait for blood, 
But the speech of the upright saves []. 


5. Antithetic, ternary. P/ans a.nd designs a.ve 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^ 11"; 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. — 6. 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 them, 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 (10^ 11'' '^) or 
by God (i6^-^ i8^° al., cf. note on 14^). To avoid the suspended 
them Bickell changes the blood of first cl. (Heb. dam) to men or 
mankind (Heb. adam) ; but so general a statement ("the wicked 
lie in wait for human beings, or for a man ") is not probable ; the 
wicked rather attack the innocent (i"). 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 ; the 
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. 

* Wildeboer suggests that the author of iU-i9 had our verse in mind, and ex- 
panded its thought. This is possible, and would agree with the supposition that 
chs. 1-9 are later than chs. 10-22; but the idea may well have been a common- 
place of the schools, and may have been expressed independently by different 

XII. 5-9 245 

Antithetic, ternary. The same thought is given in lo^. Vanish is Ht. 
are not, = cease to exist ; the sense of first cl. is : the wicked shall 
be completely and finally destroyed, without hope of restoration, that 
is, by judgment of God, with or without human instrumentality. 
The verse repeats the behef that virtue and vice are fully recom- 
pensed in this hfe. — The first cl. may be rendered : overthrow the 
wicked and they vanish (so the Latin, verte). 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) 
j^is jg22 j^u 22^ Job 17^ I Sam. 25^, and cf. the corresponding 
adj. (Partcp.) in 10^^^ 14^, etc. The opposite qndiWiy \s distor- 
tion, wrongness of i^itellect (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 EngHsh 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 : 

Better 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. 18^^ Isa. 3'' (RV. base). 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 he) honorable (or, 7'ich) ; cf 13^. 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. : 
and 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 ozvn servant, works for hitnself) does not offer a 
distinct antithesis to the lacks bread of the second clause. Frank- 
enberg, rendering : // is better when one is despised for working 
his field than when 07ie 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. Apophtk. i, p. 696, 
Pkoc. 19). In early Israel (Ex. 21^2) the value of a slave was 30 shekels of silver, 
= about 18 dollars. According to 2 Mac. SH Nicanor (in the second century B.C.) 
promised to sell go 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. 9- lo 247 

with which work is spoken of in Pr. (6''"" 10^ al.) and in later 
books, as Pirke Aboth i, 10; 4, i. Ben-Sira, as sage (BS. 38^"^), 
looks down on the ploughman and the handicraftsman who have 
no time for the contemplation of true wisdom, but he never 
speaks of work as socially despicable. — Some critics (as Kamp.) 
regard the expression as corrupt, and leave it untranslated. — A 
similar proverb, perhaps a modification of this, is found in BS. 


XII. 2. 1^ is supported in general by the Vrss. © Trapaa-iioirrjd-fia-erat, is 
prob. not from !:'"\n (Jag.), nor (Lag.) confluence of Trapa 6u) (= .-ivt:;) and 
i]TTT]driaeTai (= yil'T' Isa. 54^"), but free rendering of |^ •;y^\ — 3. @ avofiov, 
perh. scribal error for dvo/xias, perh. (Lag.) = i'U'^. — 4. |^ mbsva; © ii> 
|!>Ay, = Vi'2 (Jag.), and following dTroWvaLu, Jag. thinks, represents the rest 
of the 1^ word, \-c. ^ — (3; 5C = (5, with transpositions. |^ nu'a::; 5L ^ui 
confusiotie res dignas gerit. — For J^ ~'^'^'i Midr. Tanch. gives mxsP, citation 
from memory. — 6. See note on this v. above. The suff. in |§ a^v is given 
in all the Vrss., but is better omitted, if |^* be retained, so as to avoid the 
ambiguity of '', and gain the general form of statement which is found in ^ 

— For J^ C"i Bi. reads anx, which is too general a term in the connection; 
Gr. D::r!n (see his emendation in i^^), but this is not favored by the z-^\ 
This objection lies against the reading C"r> i:nN^ c>"-'"', and |§ ^131 is besides 
supported by the ■'d of ^. — 7. |§ ibn is better taken as Inf Abs., = finite vb. 
(Ew., § 328 (^), as in SE; 5L verte ; (S oS Vav <TTpa<p^. Gr., referring to 14", 
adds •'"yna, but this is unnecessary, and mars the rhythm. — 8. |& ''X' is the 
specific Hokma term for intellectual sobriety. — |^ .■"•.•! occurs only here in 
Prov. (and elsewhere only i Sam. 20^') ; the common terms are ^pd: and u'pj,'. 

— <3 ffrd/jLa avveTov e7Ka)/xtdf'erat virb dt>5p6s, = Z'ti S'7ri> hyy 'fl'?; SSn'" in 
3 codd. of De' Rossi. — 1§ n'^; (5 p-vKTripl^erai. S^ = |^. For ^ V7n> 
IL has noscetzir, and for :i"^ n;;: vaiitis et excors. — 9. Hithp. of ia: only here 
and Nah. 3!^; in Nah. = sho7v //?;'j^^ (really) great, or perh. inake a show of 
greatness, here act the part of greatness. — 3C = |0. <& (followed by Ss) 2 5ov- 
\ei)oov eavT^, % suficiens sibi, pointing -15 ;, and perhaps (though not neces- 
sarily) reading ri'z:'^ instead of i"?. Bi. -\y, and Gr. ir.i- (for ploughing), but 
J^ T3y gives a satisfactory sense. 

10. Kindness to animals. 

The righteous regards the comfort (even) of his beast, 
But the heart of the wicked is cruel. 

Antithetic, quaternary-ternary. Righteous is sing, in the Heb., 
wicked plu. — rhetorical variation. The first cl. reads lit. : . . . 
knows the soul of his beast. Knows here = gives attention io,^ 


comes into sympathetic relations with (cf. Dt. 33^ Job 9^^ 35"). 
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 co?npassion (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^^ i K. 3-^, 
and perhaps Isa. 63^^) 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. 20^" 23'^ Dt. 25*), and the 
divine care of beasts is spoken of in Jonah (4") and in various 
Psalms (36«''* 104"^, cf. 148'") ; so also BS. f\ 

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^", BS. 20^^ 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 : 

He 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. Evv. Zock. al. 

XII. IO-I2 249 

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 cl. rather than persons (the Heb. gives simply the 
adj. vain, unprofitable) ; the reference seems to be not to idleness 
or slothfulness (Lat. otium), 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. Afit. 20, 9. 2 ; 
War, 7, 8. 3. — Grk. (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 meti, 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. — • Grk. 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. De. Noyes, Zcick. 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 enduritig) ; this form of second cl. is adopted by 
Ew. Zock. Kamp. al. 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 hu?its for misfortune, which he offers as a guess ; Frank. : 
tvickedness is the net of bad men (cf. v.^^"), 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.^) ; in first 
cl. we should expect (as in v.^) 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. 10" 11^ 18^ 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 : 
iti the siti of the lips is a siiare to the tvickcd. The form given by 
Grk. (requiring the change of one letter of the Heb.) is better : 
the sin7ier 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 be pitied, 

But he who encounters (men) in the gates will afflict souls. 

XII. 12-15 251 

The reference in second cl. seems to be to litigiousness. De. 
suggests the emendation : will afflict himself. The origin of the 
couplet is doubtful. — 14. Synonymous, ternary. Cf. 13^ 14" 18^". 
In iirst cl. the Heb. 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 14"). The Heb. 
has in the two clauses two synonymous words for man {ish and 
adam). The marginal Heb. reading of second line is : and what 
a man's hands do he will reqtiite 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 lits 
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 parallehsm : 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, 
But 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 tip 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^"^"; it simply enjoins calmness. The motive indicated is 
not love or consideration for the author of the aiifront, 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 aff^vnt see note 
on 3''^. Cf. the sentiment of ii^. 

10. 1^ ^~n-i; O (r7rXd7x»'a; so % {^ihe wicked, their bo~veh are closed'); 
5L viscera. On -\ as = bowels see Ges. Thes., and cf. cm ^voml 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. |§ 3*? iDn; Gr. □n'? 'n; Frank.: cnS -\0r\\ — For the addi- 
tional couplet in (g see note on this v. above, and notes of Lag. De. Baumg. 
Bi. — 12. 1^ -irn; (5 iTrievixlai, = r^-\Tin; 52^ = 3^; % desideritwi, — •\r:n; 
Hitz. -\?;n; Bi. noy. Frank, makes Zivh (end of v.'i) out of |^ -i:;n aS (v."-^-), 
regards the t of icn as miswriting of i (in following >';n), and attaching the 
3 (of 2'-'') to '-I, reads: ap lis y^na, an intelligible sentence. — 1§ a^yi isc; 
@ omits '::, for which S has -^2';rJ^, = Heb. r\z'-;z'~'; 3L munimenttim pessimo- 
rum ; Gr. O'un ixc; Bi. (omitting 'r) cy^. The simplest reading of * is that 
of @, but it is not connected in its thought with **; the readings of Bi. and 
Gr. are not natural; the true text can hardly be recovered. — In ^ we may 
read j.-^N for '% i.t, % 3\";rj, (5 ^i' oxvpthixadiv (so Ew. Gr. Kamp.) ; Bi. is;:. 
Lag. suggests that j.i^ may be corruption of the ]" (® olvijiv) of "=. For other 
emendations see Nowack. — 13. |^ -?'-\ (3 eixTriwTei eis vayidas; read cpj 
or K'pr. — f^ NSM, 1 + Impf., rhetorical sequence. — On the additional couplet 
in <& see Lag. and Bickell; Bi.'s -\-;z'2 xipi (= <& 6 de a-vvavTwv iv TriXais) is 
suspicious {cry in the 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 aa see note on this v. above. — 
1^ r.s; (5 \pvxT'} dv5p6s, in which f. is probably interpretation of the Grk. 
translator (deleted by Lag.); a ::'3J in the Heb. would mar the rhythm. — 
1^ .-,,. (gB^ not so well, xf'^^^w (23. 157 x^'P"^". and so S^). — 16. |§ ;'-<v; 
the Vrss. understand the form as Hifil. — |^ ar2; Gr. icva. 

XII. I6-I9 253 

17-19. Good and bad speech. 

17. He who speaks out the truth affirms justice, 
But a false witness (affirms) injustice. 

18. Some men's chatter is hke sword-thrusts. 
But the tongue of the wise is heahng. 

19. The lip of truth endures for ever, 

But the lying tongue is but 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'^ 14^-^ iq^-'*; the first line, therefore, may be trans- 
lated : a true witness affirms, etc. The rendering injustice (the 
word is usually translated deceit, as in 11^) is supported by Job 15^^ 
>A 43^ 55^^"^\ ^nd is here required by the antithesis \i justice be 
written in the first line ; but 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 ttxm justice see notes on 
i3 2^0. — 18. Antithetic, ternary. Lit. : there is one who chatters 
like the thrusts of a sword, but, etc. The person of first cl. is 
impliedly foolish. 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. -jo^'*'"-*') ; in 
\\i 106^ it describes a hasty, unadvised speech of which Moses 
was once guilty (Nu. 20^*^^^) ; 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. For a 
moment is lit. " for an eye-wink." The affirmation appears to be 
general : truth, supported by facts, and having the approval of 
men and God, is permanent ; falsehood, unsupported and unap- 
proved, speedily passes away. Similar aphorisms are found among 
other peoples ; Delitzsch cites (from Dukes) later Heb. 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.^'^, 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.^^; lack of fairness and 
truthfulness is injustice. On devise evil 's,e& 3^ 6"-^^ i Sam. 23^ — 
The second cl. in the Heb. reads : but to the counsellors of well- 
being there is joy. The coutisellors 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. 14^*. But 
the termy^'jv 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 3^ Counsellors of well-being =■ benevolent, 

XII. 19-24 255 

righteous tne?i. The interpretation o( Joy as that which the good 
man procures for others is hardly allowed by the Heb. ; see lo-^ 
15^ 21^^, where the joy is subjective, and similar constructions in 
jq16 jj.26 gj.(,^ — 21. The doctrine of full compensation in this hfe. 
Mischief 2iVid misfortune (RV. evil) 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" 21^"; on misfortime see notes on 3^" 6"-^* 11^ 13^' 14^* 16'* 
31^. — Grk. Targ. Syr. give a different idea : 

No 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 lo^i-^a 12" 
13° 16'* 20-'', and the same predicates in 11^. 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 Gratz proposes to 
read utters, but this gives up the striking antithesis of the Maso- 
retic Hebrew text, which is supported by i f'- ^ 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 lo* 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 (11^^). Slothful is lit. slothful- 
ness. For tributary (= under tribute^ see Ju. i'-**"^" i K. 4^ Lam. i^ 
Isa. 3I^ — 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) ivord Grk. 
has good 7iews, but the antithesis rather points to friendly, sympa- 
thetic words. 

17. 1^ HD'', Hif. (without subject expressed), for which Lag. (p. vii) pro- 
poses m% as in 1/' 27^'-; De. (here and on 6^^) defends J^, but the construc- 
tion is hard, and Lag.'s reading seems preferable ; see notes on 6^^ 14*. De. 
remarks that elsewhere in Pr. '■' stands with d^td (he should except 29^); but 
this may be accidental. — <& : iirLbeiKwixivriv irla-Tiv iTrayyiWeL SlKaios; iiri5. 
may perhaps (Jag.) represent a form of npn, taken as — affirm (in a court of 
justice), though elsewhere in Pr. (exc. 19^(2) k'^KoXQiv') n is rendered by iKKaleiv; 
Lag.'s suggestion, ny, is not probable, since this vb. is regularly represented 
by iX^yx^'-" (cf-i however, i\. attest and errtS. demottstraie, prove, in a court 
of law). — 18. 1^ ^33 (vNJi), to speak thoughtlessly (understood by (5Si2C as 
= simply speak) may be mimetic (hardly connected historically with ^a.r- 
ToXo7etj'); 01L render freely promise (according to Lag. they read naa). 
— (@B jadxaipat; read, with H-P 103 a/., /uaxo//)^, or insert ws, with 68. — 
19. J^ ly'*? pp; (@ Karopdot fiaprvpiav, = -^yy ]2D (Jag.), the S being taken 
(in Aram, fashion) as introducing the object, or perhaps the S had fallen out; 
in 'J also the ly' was read improperly as t;. — 1L in * = |§, in *> =: @; S in * 
free, in ^ follows (3; ST in * = |^, in ^ follows (g. (5's rendering of ^ is thus 
strongly supported, but |§ is favored by the antithesis. The form nynx is 
commonly explained as i pers. sing. Hif. Impf., but it is a noun, sometimes 
(Jer. 49^^ 50'**) used adverbially; it appears to be an Inf. of Aram, form (less 
probably = j,'JiN, from pi, with n prosthetic). — 20. |ij cnn, in the sense of 
mental construction, is a Hokma term (3^9 6i*- "^^ 14^^) ; but see also i Sam. 23^ 
Hos. ioi3 Job 48. — Note assonance in nmn, nncu'; for the latter term Gr. pro- 
poses njDN; it is better to read Oo-'C. — (5 ^ovXdpLevoi; read ^ovXevd/xevoi, with 
^n marg. 33 (Lag.). —21. ^ nis->; (g (and so SST) apd^et, = r\w, a not improb- 
able reading. — 22. "^ ■_";'; Gr. suggests j!f'7i, as parallel to t^d'^, but the varia- 

XII. 24-26 257 

tion of |§ is natural and effective. — 23. For ^ no':, Nnp», n^ix © has 0p6vos 
(sD3), crvvavTri<TeTai (from t'P), cipa?s (•"■?n), all misreadings. — ST'', paraphras- 
ing, NHi"!^ ''J'^D. — S in » = <S, in b apparently = |§, rendering r^^iN by Nru"3; 
cf. Pinkuss' note. — IL = J§. — 24. The adj. fin, in sense of diligent, only in 
Pr. (cf. the vb. in 2 Sam. 52'), elsewhere (Isa. 4115) sharp; <Q tKXeKTwv, free 
rendering, or (Baumg.) connected with 'n /Mr,f ^(;/(/,- cf Job 37"(^''\ where 
e/c\. represents ■'ij, taken by @ as one word, and connected with -13 chosen, 
brilliant, and Pr. 12^'^ where Ka6ap6i = 'n. — 25. (Q renders freely: (po^epbs 
X670S = njXT; rapdaa-ei = nnu'^; diKaiov is added to U'N as interpretation; 
d77€X/a = 13T (it is unnecessary to suppose, with Gr., that (§ read mfj), 
5^ is reproduced substantially by 52111, and ^ by O; but SST give the 0o/3. and 
rap. of @, which, here as elsewhere, appears to have influenced these Vrss. 

26. A satisfactory translation of this couplet can hardly be 
given. The second cl., t/ie way of the wicked misleads them (or, 
leads them to destruction) is intelligible, though in form somewhat 
strange. A man's way (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'^^ 2'^"^ 3^ '^ 
4-® 320 j^is J ^12 J ^19 ^i^ . ^g should perhaps read : the ivay of the 
wicked is error, or the wicked goes astray in his way. — 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 
frotn evil (cf. 16^^), 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 satisfactory 
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 Ewald's translation (adopted, appar- 
ently, by RV.) . . . is a guide to . . ., in which, moreover, the 
rendering ^«/V/<f is unwarranted. — The Anc. Vrss. give no material 
help. Grk. : a Just arbiter will be his own frie?id, perhaps cor- 
rupt for the Just is his own friend, or the Just mati knows his 
friend; Aq. : he who makes his neighbor rich (lit. to abound) is 
Just (or righteous); Targ. (followed by Saad. Rashi): the righteous 
is better than his neighbor; Syr. : the righteous gives his friend 
good counsel {=^ ... is a guide to . . .) ; Lat. : he who 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 12^^). But the expression, used 
appropriately of the wild ox (Job 39*), is never elsewhere em- 
ployed of man (not in Ez. 34^^'^^), 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^ 
Nu. lo'^) 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"'^, but the text is doubtful), later of reflection (Nu. 15^^) 
and intellectual investigation (Eccl. i^^) ; 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. abimdant) than his neighbor, but this is neither apposite in 
itself, nor related to second cl. We can only surmise, from com- 
parison of 14-^ 16^^ 21'", that the general sense of the couplet is : 
the righteous departs from evil, but the wicked strays from the 
{right) way. The two hnes 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. slothfulness, = the man of sloth- 
fulness) does not hunt (or, rouse, or, ?'oast) 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 


a valuable possessioti (wealth, substance) of a man is diligence 
(or, to be diligent), but the last word is the adj. diligent, and can- 
not be rendered diligefice ; Berth. Ew. : 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. — Grk. (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 substatice (wealth) of man is 
precious gold, and Latin : ... is the price of gold. — RV, (and so 
Noyes) inserts a preposition : the precious subsia7ice 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. lo* 12^ 
1519 19" 20^ al. 

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^ 
14^. The second cl., in its present form, is untranslatable {the 
way 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 : in the pathway thereof there is 710 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 : a7id let not 
the way 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 way 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'- '* 
^18.19 ^5 y27 jjij j^ii; 158^ and, for the insertion of the verb leads, 
see 14^. 

26. ^ is reproduced by (SBEIL, but can hardly be correct; l-n cannot 
be subject of Hif. of 7\-;r. — J^ -i.-i gives no good sense whether pointed as 
adj. or as Hif. of 17. The text is hardly recoverable; the Vrss. seem to have 
had |§. We might read: pTi nv-j^ -\D> (cf. 16"), but there will then be no 
distinct contrast of expression between " and **. See Lag. Baumg. Pinkuss, 
and note on this v. above. — 27. The Vrss. in general support |§, though, in 
some cases, with inversions (see note on this v. above). |§ |'"\n; @ (and so S) 
Kadapds; 'iUlL go/c/. Gr. ip' ynn. Read in '' 'n oinS; ip'' jn occurs in i'^ 24*. 
The insertion of oin between the two words is possible, but here hard. — 
1^ "^-^n is taken by Rashi, Qamhi a/, to mean roas^, = 6urn, as in Aram. 
(Dan. 3^"), and cf Arab, p-^n; Schult. and others compare Arab, iin move 
(intrans.); S^Sid. mee^, eiicounUf {']-^'i III.); see Ges. 7Vies., BDB, De.; the 
word is perhaps corrupt. See De' Rossi. — 28. In '' for |^ "^n the Vrss. have 
'7N; and for this reading in MSS. and printed edd. see De' Rossi, B-D, Gins- 
burg. J§ norj; (§ /j.vr]aLKdKU)i> revengeful ; ,S pnrN wicked ; W Njnax, scribal 
error for ox; IL devium, possibly for na.ijc (Baumg.). Some word, standing 
in contrast with T\p-\-i, must probably be substituted for n^yj. Levy, Chald. 
Wbch., suggests that (§ read avr:, but this is not probable; Jag. na^?;; Buxt., 
Anticrit, 717, thinks p.vi]<T. an insertion of the Grk. translator; Lag. prefers, 
with 161 marg., bhh fivtjffiKaKuv; Bi, may (see 2i2*). 

XIII. 1. Our Heb. text reads : 

A wise son his father's instruction, 
But a scoffer listens not to rebuke. 

Antithetic, ternary. In first el., if our Heb. text be retained, a 
verb, = /tears or regards, should, from the parallelism, probably 
be inserted (so Targ. RV.) ; Kamp., instead of /us fai/ier's, reads 
loves (see 12^ where, however, the verb in second cl. is /lates) ; 
Rashi inserts seeks and loves ; Saad. accepts ; Schult. : one is (or, 
becomes^ a wise son {w/ien) instructed by one's fat/ier; Lat. (fol- 
lowed by De. Now. Str.) : a wise son is (= is the product of) 
his fat/ier'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 /leeds (or, loves) 
instruction. — On first cl. see notes on 2^ 3^ 4^; on instruction see 
note on i^, and cf. 13I8.24 . ^^ scoffer see note on i" ; rebu/ze occurs 
13* 1^10 Eccl. 'f, etc.-- In second cl. we might &\\)tci foolis/i son, 

XII. 28-XIII. 2 261 

as in 15', but scoffer (which occurs in 9' as antithesis to wise) is a 
more vigorous synonym o{ fool. The Grk., assimilating the two 
clauses, reads (its destroyed htmg corrected to rebuked) : 

A wise son is obedient to his father, 
But a disobedient son will be 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 Heb. is probably to be 
translated : 

From the fruit of his mouth a man enjoys (lit. cats) good. 
But the desire of the wicked is violence. 

So the couplet is rendered by many expositors * ; others f supply 
in second cl. the verb of first cl. : the appetite (lit. sotd) . . . feeds 
on violence, but appetite in O'l'., though it desires or loathes, is 
full or empty, is never said to cat. 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. Grk. : the good man eats of the fruits of righteousness, but 
the souls of the wicked perish untimely ; Syr.: . . .perish; Targ. : 
. . . are snatched away ; Gratz (after 8''^*') renders second cl. : the 
faithless do harm to themselves. 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. Saad. Rashi, De. Zock. Str. Kamp. f Schult. Berth. Ew. RV. 



means). An antithesis is gained by adopting the Grk. reading, 
or by rendering : a good man enjoys the {good) fruit of his t?iouth, 
but (or, and) the wicked harm themselves. On wicked {or, faith- 
less) see note on 2^", and on violence note on 3^^ ; cf. also notes 
on 10^" 12" 26". 

3. Speech must he 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 10'" 17^^. 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^^, 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 (11^ 15^'' 28^ Dt. 31^*' \p 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''"" 12^' 19^'* 20* 
al. The Grk. (omitting the neg.) : the idle desire, but the hands 
of the active (or, strenuous or manl}>) are diligent (perhaps error 
ioY prosperous) ; Lat. (repeating the verb in first cl.) : the slothful 
will and will not, = is too lazy to decide or to act. 

5. Men's relation to truth. 

The righteous hate deception, 

But the wicked act vilely and shamefully. 

XIII. 2-7 263 

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, 10^ 12^ 14^' 17" 19''') ; deception ^vile 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. marg.) ; is loathsonie and comes to 
shame (RV.) ; is ashamed and ivithout confidence (Grk.) ; is 
ashamed and put to the blush (Targ.) ; acts badly and brijigs 
shame (Saad.) ; confounds and shall be cojifounded (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 Eng. translation. In second cl. the Anc. Vrss. have (not so 
well) sin destroys (or, car>'ies off) the 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^^ "" 
3^^ 10'^, etc. — There seems no reason to hold, with Lag., that 
righteousness here = almsgiving ; the natural opposite of wicked- 
ness is goodness in general. Lag. refers to v.''-^ (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 lo'. — Righteousness may save, and wickedness destroy, 
through the operation of natural causes, or through the directly 
manifested favor or disfavor of God, who remembers and reckons 
acts for or against men (Gen. 15" Ez. 2i-''<^'). This verse is lack- 
ing in the Vatican MS. of the Grk., perhaps by scribal oversight. 

7. Social pretence. 

Some, having nothing, pretend to be rich, 
Others, being wealthy, pretend to be poor. 

* So Rashi, Ew. Kamp. 


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.*'', 
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 14^ 19*'^ 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''). The predicate of second cl. may be erroneous 
scribal repetition from v.\ 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.^'', 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 (Ex. 30'^), so that the 
poor man is not exposed to contempt for his poverty ; De. 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 (Ex. 
21^), and even then the offender does not escape threatening or 
rebuke, and, if he cannot pay the fine, must suffer death (cf. Ex. 
22^^') ; 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 {\p 49*"'"), and he is poor who does not 
heed admonition ; Evvald takes the second half of the clause as 
subject (an improbable construction), and translates: yef he 
became poor who never heard ati 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 10'*, and, contra, ii^^ 

XIII. 1. In * i'nr or '^jp may have fallen out; cf. 1^41 8^' K)"^^ al. Dimock 
(cited by Dys.), ans, for |^ dn; Kamp. 3ts (if this be adopted, iDD and anx 
should be transposed) ; Bi. inserts prep, ja before iD", but the resulting con- 
struction is hard. (§" ijiri)Koo% may represent >r:r (so in 21^^, where, however, 
Jag. proposes to read ^tftj/coos), or may be free rendering of J^; in •> avf]Koo% 
= ;'c;' N^, and i;t6s apparently represents yV (assimilation to form of *) ; iv 
dirwXei{t(|§ •ii;"5) is perh. corruption of ^;' dTretXj (Jag., see v.^). — ST inserts 
Saps in ", and S j'DnB'C. In '' S follows @ freely. On 3C NPya, to be read 
NHND (so S), see Levy, s.v, NPy^, and Pinkuss. — For ids 4 MSS. have ncc', 

* Mich. De. Now. Reuss, Noyes, Zock. Str. Kamp. RV. 



after lo^. — 2. In " ^T renders as in la^*"; for |§ ti-'N id (B has SiKaioa-ijvris, 
perh. reading pix, perh. imitating ii*' (Baum.). (3^ oXovvrai dwpoi may 
represent J^ D,:n (the evil fate which overtakes the wicked), or Dcr, from 
ODD (Capp. Crit. Sac, iv. 4, 5, of. Lag. Baum. Pink.). On SiupoL cf. Frank, 
on 11^''. The word does not of itself render D::n, but only in conjunction with 
some other term, as perish. — A connection between "• and ^ might be got by 
inserting aa after e'S (so S), and supplying in "^ a verb parallel to '?d.s\ See 
note on this v. above. — Instead of "^jni 7 MSS. and Bibl. Sonc. have ^yy-, and 
so 5iEiL Venet., as in 12'*. — 3. The stem pt'z in Arab, —go forth, separate 
one's self (then transgress, act unrestrainedly') ; in Aram., cause to go forth or 
azvay, cut off; in Heb. cause to go apart, open wide (Qal only here, Pi. 
Ez. 1 625), — 4_ jn 1^ Si-y vj-aj the ^ may be petrified sign of Nom., as in in\-i, 
Gen. i^i al., ij3, Nu. 2^- ^^, iri"^> "A II4^> perh. to be read 'JV2 (the form is not 
found elsewhere in Pr.), or Aram, anticipatory suff. (elsewhere in Pr. only 
14^^, on which see note), or we may (with Bi.) omit it as scribal error. ST adds 
the suff. to the second U'dj also. — With ]t"\ cf. Assyr. N'.;'i, ji:n. — (g, not so 
well, omits i^n; IL takes it as negation of niNPC : vult et non viilt piger. 
(SSIL render Sxy ': as = h^-;. — 5. |§ u'N3% from B'jo ; better Z'2\ from ira. — 
(§ ovx ^^enrappr](Tiav is free rendering of |^ ion''; on S see Pinkuss. — 6. One 
MS. has D>'U'"i, and one ::N":3n. Read as-jin instead of |^ rN-.2n. The subst. on 
occurs a number of times in Pr. (2^ lo^ 19I ao'^ 28'^), the sing. adj. here, lo^^ 
29!", the sing. D?:n i^^ 2^1 ii^- 20 28'"- '*. — For the stem f^So cf. the Arab, sense 
go beyond, and turn over (land for sowing) ; in Heb. Pi. turn over, destroy ; 
subst. 'I'^D departure from {going l/eyond) the right -way, falsity. — The couplet, 
found in (S^. 68. I6I. 248. ai. ^H Clem. Procop., is lacking in (g^^ probably by 
scribal inadvertence; its sentiment, though of the most general nature, is 
appropriate, and the style of the Hebrew is natural. — 8. For |§ t-\ Frank, 
suggests ';z'~\; see cote on this v. above. If this emendation be adopted, the 
two lines of the v. must be held to belong to different couplets. J^ nnyj; 
© dweiXTiv. On this word, and on W Nn>'3, B nhnd, see critical note on v.i 

9. Permanent prosperity of the righteous. 

The light of the righteous i 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 i8^ 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 267 

some general parallels in Talmudic and other writings see Hitz. 
De. (the references in Malan are scarcely appropriate). — • 
Another emendation (Frank.) is : light rejoices the 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^ 6^^, and, for second el., \^ 37^^; 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. 11^^* 12^ 15^^ 24®. According to 
this reading /r/^(? (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 wisdojn. 
A distincter antithesis is gained if (with Hitz., after 11^, on which 
see note) we read : with the h^imble 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 11^. The general sense remains the same — 
those who take coimsel (RV., not so accurately, the well-advised^ 
may be described as huuible or ynodest. The proverb is directed 
against Htigiousness 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. — Grk. 
(with different text) : a bad man does evil by insolence, but they 
who judge themselves are wise, in which the antithesis is less ciear 
than in the Hebrew. The couplet should perhaps read : 

Pride engenders strife. 

But with the humble is wisdom, 

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^^ Job 7^^ Eccl. i^), 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 2cP- 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 10^). 
— Grk. adds : The righteous is merciful and lends, on which see 
note on v.^. 

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 \s lit. having come. Instead 

» Schult. De. Sir. 

t So Vog. Hitz. Ew. Reuss, Bi. Kamp. al. 

XIII. II-I3 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'^ 1 1^. The 
proverb has no ethical bearing ; it is true without reference to the 
moral character of desire. The Grk., 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-^<-** Am. 2* Job 
22'' Pr. 20"^ al.) or mortgaged his house or land (Neh. 5^), 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^ Neh. 
5^).* 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 be rewarded (cf. 11'^). 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 be safe. 

The term word may mean " law in general " ; possibly it = word 
of God, with specific reference to the divine law given to Israel. 
The punishment and reward may come from man or from God. 
Cf. notes on i^ 3^ 16^. — Gratz unnecessarily emends to : he who 
desiises strife . . . dX^A he who fears contention . . . — Grk. adds 

the triplet : 

A crafty son will have no good thing, 

But the affairs of a wise servant will be prosperous, 

And his path will be directed aright. 

* See Nowack, Heb. Arch., pp. 353 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.^. 

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 ; 
14^ is nearly identical. The two lines give two different figures. 
The second cl. is ht. : to avoid, etc. On fountain of life see note 
on 10". Teaching (Heb. tora) =" 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 Hfe. The sage (see 22'" 2^ i^ 2^) 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 hfe ; see notes on i-"^ 10^^ 13" 14-' 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. 12"). 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 hfe, as in 

XIII. 13-15 271 

9. f§ net"'; SSC rnj; % laetificat, reading Pi. (so Frank.), but the order 
of words does not favor tiiis reading; (g 5id Travros, perh. paraphrase of pf, con- 
trast to the extinguished oi ^ (Jag.), hardly for n.:u- is extended {l.z.g.), possibly 
for nijS or "icn; see Schleusn. who thinks that a word (perh. xap7"<5'') has fallen 
out. One MS. of De R. has ncs'. Gratz would emend to n-\v (cf. 2 K. 3-^ 
Isa. 58^'^ Job 9"), a more natural reading than that of |^, and here, probably, to 
be adopted; ^c'.^• is nowhere else used of a light. — P'or Heb. translations of the 
couplet added in (@ see Ew. and Bi.; cf. note on this v. above. — 10. |^ Dsyj; 
Hi. (not improbably) dj?jx, after 11'-; (S, freely, eavrdv iwLyvibfj.oves (see la^^). 
— (5 yn for |§ pi. It is better to omit pi and the 3 of pn as corrupted repeti- 
tion of preceding "ip-i. — 11. ]^^2r\r:;(SeTrL(Tirovda^oiMip7i,%/estinata. SE 
follow (5, with modifications. Read (with Ew. Reuss, Lag. Kamp.) "^nac. — '?•; 
T' = " according to the task of the day, gradually " (cf. Levy, NHW., for the 
late Heb. use) ; no would mean " by the labor of one's hand." (5 adds at 
end : 5kaios oi/creipet koX Kixpq.. — 12. (5 gives an elaborate paraphrase of ^, 
making of it a full couplet: Kpelajwv impx(>/J.evos [B — /^^vois] fSorjdCiv [n^" 
106. 248. A at. /SoTj^eti'] KapSiq. ToO iirayy eWofx^vov Kal els eXTrida dyovTos, 
= better speedy help than halting promise. Some MSS. of @ (23. 106. 149 al.) 
and ^11 here add the line above given at end of v.^i, while others (106. 248) 
omit l^**. As the form of |^ is obviously original, these variations exhibit the 
liberties and uncertainties of Grk. scribes (see Baum.). — 13. On the Heb. 
represented by the addition in (g (found also in S>) see Ew., Bi., and, on the 
texts of @ and S, Baum. Pinkuss. — Gr. reads an for -l3^, and nsa strife for 
niXD. Better Frank., who omits i'?, and reads d'?k''' ((§ vyiaivei) for "^ oh-s'\ — 
14. In b (5 has: 6 5i dvovs virb irayldos dave^rai, = Z'pm nc^ ^D:» (so Baum.; 
Jag. no) ; but the collocation die + snare is hard. We should perh. expect 
some such form as pix -\D\ — Si and one Heb. MS. have ncjn for |§ Don. 

15. Value of intelligence. The first cl. reads : 

Fine intelligence (or, good sense) wins favor. 

The expression (DD Sr'tr) which stands as subject of the clause 
signifies intellectual pe7ietration ox fineness (i Sam. 25^), or wis- 
dom in the most general sense {y\i 1 1 1^°) (in Pr. 3'* the text must 
be changed) ; the substantive is the distinctive term in Prov. for 
sagacity, discretion, prudence (12^ i(>^ 19" 23^, and so Ezr. 8^®). 
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 culhire (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 : The way (conduct, manner) of 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. 5-^ Dt. 2\^ \\i 74^^), or men 
(Jer. 5'^ 49^® 50''"' Job 12'*), or their abode (Nu. 24-'), or the foun- 
dations of the earth (Mic. 6^), as enduring, a bow (Gen. 49^*), as 
standing fast, sure, the sea as having a permanent place or flow 
(Ex. 14^), and pain as perpetual (Job 33^'). 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 
coatained 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. 41^"). 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 7vins 
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, 
But the fool makes a display of folly. 

XIII. 15-17 273 

Antithetic, ternary. The Heb. has, in first cl. : Every man of 
sense acts zvith knoiuledge (or, intelligence^ ; the transposition 
(with Syr. Lat.) of the every (= all^ gives a better form to tlie 
sentence. The adj. sensible {= of sense, 'R}I. 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. Cf. 12^ 15-. The reference appears 
to be solely to intellectual qualities. 

17, Good and bad messengers. 

An < incompetent > messenger < plunges one > into misfortune, 
But a trustworthy envoy insures success. 

Antithetic, ternary. In first cl. the Heb. has ivicked 2iX\6. 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 his incapacity entails on his em- 
ployers. The correction requires only the omission of one letter 
and the change of two vowel-points. The term envoy occurs 
again in 25^^; in Isa. 18^ Jer. 49" (= Obad.'), and perhaps in 
Isa. 5 7^,* it means a political or governmental messenger, an am- 
bassador, but the more general name envoy 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, trustworthy, misfortune, heals 
are of general (not primarily ethical) import. — Insures success, 
Ht, is health, that is, is a source of health, the agency by which a 
sound, prosperous condition is attained. See 4" 6'^ 12"^ 14^" 15* 
16^* 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. 

* In Jos. 9* the word should be changed so as to agree with v.12. 
t On the term in Eccl. 10* ( = quiet or conciliatory demeanor) cf. Siegfried (in 
Nowack) and Wildeboer (in Marti). 



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 hfe ; 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 sha?ne {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. 12^ 15^-^^. The mstruciio?i and admo- 
nitio7i 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 a?id 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. De. Reuss, Str. al. 

XIII. I8-20 2/5 

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 thou 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. Will smart (see ii^^) is lit. will be made (or, becotne) 
bad {=^ will come into evil case); there is an impHed contrast 
between this evil, the result o{ folly, and the good or advantage 
which is derived from wisdom. In the Heb. of second cl. there 
is an assonance : roe k'silim yeroa. The power of association to 
mould character is referred to in i'** 2^' 4'* 16-'' 22-'*-^ 23^ 28'-^*. 
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. 
39i-» Eccl. 12^". 

15. At end of ^ Bi. adds iDni (presumably for the metre's sake). — 1§ fn>N 
(on the stem see BDB), apparently an elative form, made (as in South Sem.) 
by pref. x, sporadic in No. Semitic; @ iv diruXelg. (and so S) ; 2E (apparently 
following both |^ and (@) i^n ^rpi NDpn Nnisi; IL vorago. Jag. supposes 
that (5 read din their calamity (l^T 24-2 Job 2ii'^ a/.), Gr. p^N; neither of 
these would account for IL vorago. <S may possibly be free rendering of |§. 
Frank, inn (see Job 6^8 1224 BS. 41^"), which is not satisfactory in itself, and 
secures no good contrast between the clauses. — 16. |^ n:;-;" ony S3; better 
(as apparently S3L) 'y "^ S3; S takes '^ "> as defining relative clause (Pink.); 
cf. 16*. Gratz proposes ^ys for f§ Sa. — 17. |^ 1!<Sd; (5 ^acriXe^i. — J^ i-B-n; 
read p-\ (so Gratz). — ^ Sb''; read Hif. Ssji (so Reuss, Now. Bi. Gr. Kamp. 
Frank.); cf. 7-^ 19^^. — |^ a:::N', plu. of extent and emphasis. — xdi3 may be 
pointed as subst. or as Pi. Partcp. ; (5, freely, fujfferai aiirdv. — 18. Before 
PJ •;-\h insert '"'. — 19. |§ n>nj nwn; (5 ^-wiOvfilai eiia-e^Qv (68. 106. a/. Compl. 
dae^Qv), in which eva. is probably insertion to gain a religious tone, though 
it may represent a apix (cf. note on 21*'); (5 epya, = may (J^gO for 
1^ nayh; dw6 yvdiaeui^, = yic, for ^ j.->D. — IL gui fugitint, as if a";D or -\D\ 
On a reading ajjcn, for |§ oSd3, see De' Rossi. — 20. Kethib ^ (followed by 
(§), two Impvs. in conditional sentence; Qeri (followed by SSTIL) has Partcp. 
and Impf., as in ^. ■ — ^|BJ j.n-'; (5 Yvaxr^^crerai, = Nif. or Hof. of yi^; 3L, freely, 
similis efficietur ; in •* S2C = 3§. 


21, 22. Recompense of righteousness and unrighteousness. — 
Antithetic, ternary. The doctrine of earthly reward according to 
conduct ; see notes on ^'^^^^. 

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 Ut. evil ; good fortune is simply good in the 
Hebrew. On the \.Q.xxi\?, sinners and righteous see notes on i^'** 
2-'\ 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 v^^^o. 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^ Job 27^. The sense is un- 
affected by this change of text. The Pass, form of the verb in 
the Heb. is found in 11^^ 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 kijid (i Sam. 25^^ xjj 73^), or 
morally exemplary ; here, from the parallelism, it is equivalent to 
righteous, as in 12- 14'*- '^ The reference is not to successful 
thrift, or to the kindhearted, liberal man who by dispensing bless- 
ing is himself blessed (as in n^), 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. t Lat. De. RV. 

XIII. 21-23 277 

Israel fas 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 sinner see notes on 8^® 


23. The Hebrew yields no satisfactory sense. It reads : 

The fallow-ground of the poor yields (lit. is) abundance of food, 
But many a man perishes (or, is swept away) by injustice. 

The statement of first cl. is opposed to common observation and 
to the declaration of lo^^, 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 poor 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. Vrss. vary 
considerably from the Heb., and from one another. Grk. : the 
righteous shall pass 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 Greek text of Origen : the great enjoy 
wealth tnany years, but some men perish little by little; Pesh. Syr. : 
those who have no habitation (or, means of subsistence) [that is, 
the poor] waste wealth many years, and some waste {it) [or, per- 

* So substantially Ew. De. Reuss, Now. Str. 



haps, by emendation, perish'] completely ; Targ. : the great man 
devours the land of the poor, and some men are taken away 
{^= die) unjustly (or, without Judg?ne?it) ; 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 lo^''' n^^ 17-^ 
21^^® 24" Gen. 22^ y\i 19^3(14) Jqj^ ^11^ Chastises is lit. seeks with 
chastisemefit, = deals (with him) by chastisement ; the verb does 
not contain the idea of " early, betimes, diligently " (De. RV. al.) ; 
see notes on i-* 7^' 8" 11^. 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-^ Similar 
sayings are 22^^ 23^^ 29^^; the regulation of Dt. 21^^'^ (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, Chariclcs, Exc. to Sc. I, and Gcillus, Exc. II to So. I, and 
A. Zimmern, The Nome 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. 23-25 2/9 

25. Relation of righteousness to supply of bodily wants. 

The righteous has enough to satisfy his appetite, 
But the wicked suffers lack of food. 

Antithetic, ternary. Lit. : the righteous eats (= has food enough) 
to the satisfying of his appetite, but the belly of the wicked lacks. 
On appetite (= animal life or soul) see notes on 6^" i^*. Belly is 
the middle part of the body, rarely the outer surface (Job 40^® 
Cant. 7^'^'), usually the interior, including the womb (Gen. 25^ 
«/.) and the cavity containing the bowels, regarded as the seat of 
general feeling (Job 20^°) or as the receptacle of food (here and 
18™, on which see note) ; it thus comes to stand for the man's 
being or personality (i// 17"), or the combination soul and belly 
expresses the whole being (1/^ 31^""*). The reference in the prov- 
erb is to the satisfaction of all bodily needs, food standing for all 
the physical necessaries of hfe — 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 Prov. always under the 
general terms wisdom, fear of Yahweh, and the like. On bodily 
compensation in this life see notes on i^^*' 2^^^^, etc. — The dis- 
tinctness of the phraseology of this verse brings out in sharp 
relief the indistinctness of v.^. 

21. J^ 2b aSc'^; © KaTaKT)ii^p€Tai ayada; read 3t3 Jiyi (Ew. Kamp.); Bi. 
D^ir^; Gratz dW^ Di^nx njDi; Lag. suggests that the word was written '^Z'\ 
out of which (S made j:;*''; Jag. regards dj^" as the word read by (S, miswriting 
of 3*7^". — 22. To understand nini as subj. of Snji is unnatural and unnecessary. 
Before 3'J Bi. inserts Z'><, but cf. 12^. — IL, fully, _/f/?05 et nepotes. — 23. (5 may 
be based on |^ : diKaLoi (Jag. a^r% for |§ D-\si) Troiri<7ov(riv (perh. Aram, i^;' 
pass time, for f^ Son) iv irXovTip (|^ -\: land, taken as = tuealth) errj iroWd 
(= J§ 31), ddiKOL dk (free rendering of ^ ii'm, to bring out contrast with 
dlKaioi) dwoXovvTai (= |§ nsDj) avvTbfj.ws (perh. free rendering of P^ n'^3 
•ozv:^, possibly = DNnB, omitting xSa). ^ = (§, except that in ^ it has periph- 
rasis for poor instead of righteous, and renders f^ Sjn by naiN, and in ^ also 
has n2iN, which, however, may be scribal error for 112N (Pink.). The Vrss. 
appear thus to support the text of ^, but furnish no suggestions for its 
emendation. — Frank, reads a>'!:'-i for |§ air'N-i, and takes t- as = wealth; this 
latter is here hard, and the resulting couplet is unsatisfactory. On t:" see 
BDB. — 24. pj iDp iinr, -v with two objects, as a-ip, 2 K. 19^'-; the suff. 
refers to the son, not (Ew. «/.) to 'C. — <5 ^Tri/xeXiDs 7rat5ei5ej, probably not 
reading id^d (Pink.), but taking "i> as = seek carefully, and rendering the 
phrase according to Grk. idiom (as RV. according to Eng. idiom). This 



incorrect rendering of in'i' is found in & (which = (S, except that it expresses 
the suff.) K (-■'i"'"-) 2L {instanter) and an anonymous Grk. Vrs. {dpdpi^ei, in 
Field), and is obviously due to a supposed derivation of this stem from -\nz> 
dawn (so Saad. Rashi). — Gratz suggests nD^D n->n'^3 corrects him in (Jiis) 
youth, but the change is unnecessary. — 25. |^ \2i; @ i^vxal, perh. by 
assimilation to ", '2 being usually rendered in <S by KoiXla (so 'ASGE^^ 
here); SoES>^ 0^J (Heb. U'lr, Jer. Si^^*); IL venter. 

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 
/o//v) may be got rid of by slight changes of text, as by reading, 
in first cl., t/ie wisdom of wojnen (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 
2jio-3i^ 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^ 2 S. \\- 20^^--), artistic skill (Ex. 35^), or the profession 
of mourner (Jer. 9^^'^"^). 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 eiS- 
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^ 24''' suggest) the word zuotnen 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 : 

XIV. 1-3 28 1 

Wisdom builds the house, 
Folly 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, occur. — 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. 

8. Identity of integrity and piety. 

He whose life is upright fears Yahweh, 
But he whose ways are wicked despises him. 

Antithetic, quaternary-ternary (or, ternary). Lit. he who walks 
in his uprightness (but the his should be omitted), and he who is 
wicked (crooked) iti his ways. 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 : He who fears Yahweh 
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, 'SC'J . perverse) see note on 2^^. 

3. Discretion in speech. — The couplet reads in our Heb. text ; 

In the mouth of the fool is a sprig of pride. 
But the lips of the wise preserve them. 

Implicit antithesis, quaternary-ternary (or, ternary). The word 
rendered sprig occurs elsewhere in OT. only in Isa. ii\ 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 characterizes 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 ii^ i6^* 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 (Barth) instead of sprig (or, rod) is not probable. — 
Elsewhere the lips of the wise are said to give food (10^'), to dis- 
pense knowledge (15^), or to keep knowledge (5^), here to save 
(cf. 10"). As the Heb. verb is sing., De. would assume wisdotn 
as subject (ythe 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 ^/.fa« (in 
a physical sense) is doubtful (elsewhere, except Cant. 6^, the 
word means "morally pure," Job i\^ \p 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^ see the Comrns. of Budde (in Marti) and 
Siegfried (in Nowack). In i^ i820(2i) (= 2 S. 2221) the corresponding noun is em- 
ployed to describe the hands, but as a figure of moral purity. 

XIV. 3-6 283 

where there are no oxen the crib is clean. A slight change of 
text gives for the first line the rendering : 

Where there are no oxen there is no corn. 

In the second line we should expect : " many oxen, much prod- 
uce," a statement that may be got from the present text, since the 
strefigth ( = 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 farmer 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 12^" Dt. 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 12^^, 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^^ 14^ i(f. 

6. Wisdom comes only to the serious. 

The scoffer seeks wisdom and finds it not, 

But 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 understandiftg, 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" : "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 hifn), 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 in 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 7nan, but wise lips are weapons of discretion, an unsatis- 
factory form, followed by Syr. and (with a slight modification) by 
Bickell ; Targ. : Withdraw into a7iother path from the presence of 
a fool, for there is 7W kno7vledge in his lips, a simple and natural 
sentence, probably a free translation of our Hebrew ; Lat. : Go 
into the presence of a foolish 7Jian, 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 20'* : 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. : 
Ihere 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 twt utter knowledge ; cf. 15'. 

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 cl. 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- 
dom 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 
exphcit 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 11^ j2^^"-^ 14^ 20^ 26"^) and 
throughout OT. The contrast would be obvious if we could take 
the word in the sense of "self-deception" (so Berth. Ew. Zock.), 
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- 
tize 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 Grk., 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. 1^ rbsn, fern. plu. const, of c:r, is improbable because of the sing, 
vb. nnja and the abstr. sing, n'rix in '>; read t-zzt^, as in 9I, on which see note. 


DU'j is best omitted as gloss to adj. ncjn. If a reference to wise and foolish 
women were intended, we should rather expect nc^n nu-'N (or ncDn n"'N) and 
n'^iN. — J^ '^''7'2 though logically unnecessary does not mar the rhythm (Bi.). 
On the Vrss. see note on this v. above. — 2. The suff. in no'' may be retained, 
as in 1^ 28^ (on which see note), but is better omitted, as in ^ 10^. On ti'? 
see note on 2^^. (§ renders the vb. in ^ by the passive, against the parallelism; 
3L further makes one sentence of the couplet : amhda^is recto itinere et timens 
Deum despicitur ab eo qui infami graditur via. — 3. nan occurs elsewhere 
only Isa. ii^ where it = shoot, stem, or branch; the Heb. 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., Etytnol. Stud.), though it may have some support from 
Arab. (iBsn = walking with a proud gait) is not favored by Aram, or by the 
connection here; cf. BDB. — 1§ aii:;'i:'n is probably scribal error for cnc^'n, 
so (S <pv\a.(T<r€i. avTov%; in the similar forms in Ex. 18-^ Ru. 2^ the i may be 
miswriting of •>, or, more probably, erroneous scribal insertion. — 4. I'^N is half- 
poetical synonym of nil*. — The large a is scribal accident; see note in B-D. — 
On the first vowel in Dax see 01s. §§ 87, 175. The stem is apparently denom., 
■= furnish food ; so Partcp. D3N, i K. 5^ (4'^^) Pr. 15^^, provided with food, 
fatted, and subst. Daxo, Jer. 50^6, a place where food is kept. But for D3N here 
we should probably read D.ox, taking ^a as = corn. — On the Mas. pointing of 
13 see Buxt. Com. Crit. — C. O fT/rijo-ets <TO<plav irapa KaKols, = 'n D);^^ Z'f>2, 
which accords less well than |§ with ^. — ^T'l is Nif. Partcp. or Perf. of S'?p, 
masc. by poetic license, the subj. nj?T being fem. — 7. S nj:D is here more 
naturally from. — pyri may be taken as general Present, but, after Impv. l':', 
we expect Imperf. — (5 irdi'Ta, = S3 (for |^ ^'^), and 6'7rXa, — ^^d (for |^ ^2). 
In b we may perhaps read: n^T VPSt' (or, ma'') 'i'W nS ^3. — 8. |§ ]3n; Bi. p; 
(5 ewiyvwa-eraL, = pr, or it may be free rendering of |^. — ^ ncic; (5 iv 
irXdvy, perhaps free rendering of |^, perhaps = r\';~i:, a reading better than 
that of %}. — IL = |§; S seems to be affected by (g. 

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 11^ 12^ 15* 
18^ al.; 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 difificult in the connection. The representa- 
tion of the sacrifice as mocking the sacrificer is unexampled — 

XIV. 9-10 287 

elsewhere it is God who hates and rejects the formal offerings of 
bad and unrepentant men (Am. 5^ Isa. i'*) ; 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. \(f^, RV. trespass-offering^ would be somewhat strange. 
If the object had been to say that God 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 (Ew.) 
is not natural. Sin is said (Num. 32-^), by its consequences, to 
reach men, find them out (Ew. compares the Grk. Nemesis), but 
the sort of personification involved in mocks is violent and with- 
out example. Nor is the rendering fools jnock at guilt (RV.) 
more satisfactory; it is not at guilt, but at sin (AV.) 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, but 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 favor ; Lat. as AV. Natural forms of 
the couplet would be : 

Fools incur guilt. 

Good men have the favor of God; 

Fools suffer misfortune, 

Good men are prosperous. 

The clauses may be displaced ; the original reading of first cl. is 
lost. For antitheses to the clauses see ii'' 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 
ma7i. 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. i2^^ 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) wiih 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. 
TT^). This is a proper sentiment, but (even after the change of 
stranger to pride) the construction (ivhen one knows, etc., then, 
etc.) is not naturally suggested by the Hebrew. Cf., however, 
v.^* 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, mciuding 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 

XIV. IO-I3 289 

your tents, O Israel !" (2 Sam. 20' i K. 12^®). On the doctrine 
of permanence and impermanence see notes on i^--^ al. 

12. Vice is a road that leads to death. 

There is a way that seems straight to a man, 
But the end of it is the road 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." 
The figure is that of a journey, in which the traveller imagines 
that he 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 aha.n- 
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^-^ 7^' 9^* lo'^ 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, 
roads'). 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'va. first cl. (cf 
Mt. y-^^-"). Grk. : 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. 

Even in laughter the heart may be sad, 
And the end of joy may be sorrow. 

Identical parallelism, binary-ternary (or, ternary). The text may 
be rendered : . . . the heart is sad . . . the e?id . . . is sorrow. 
The proverb will then say that joy always passes into sorrow, a 
pessimistic utterance, hardly in place in this Book. Nor does 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 Hfe (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 ufiiversal setise 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^^ ^^^ \p 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^ 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.^°). The assertion of Eccl. 7^, that sorrow is better than 
laughter, represents a different conception of Hfe. 

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. : Frovi his ways the 
bad man is sated, and from himself the good fnan. 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^ i/^ 44'**'^') ; 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^-^ aL, 
Gal. 6\ 

15, 16. Necessity of thoughtfulness and prudence. Cf. 22^ 

15. The simpleton believes every vv^ord, 

But the man of sense takes heed to his step. 

XIV. I3-I6 291 

l6. 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* 22^ Ez. 45"" \\i 19"'^^) or morally (i'''^ 9") ; the term is here 
used in the former sense, in contrast with the thoughtful, prudent 
man. The point of view of i Cor. 13'' 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 cautions ; 
lit. fears. Misfortune (or, hartn) 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 atigry (Dt. 3-'' i/' 78-^- *^-*^^ 
3^38(39) -^^ and the Partcp. in 26''' = get excited, get into a passion ; 
for the meaning arrogant (which is suggested by the synonym 
confident) see the corresponding substantive in ii'^ 21-* Isa. 16^ 
Jer. 48^". Other proposed renderings are presumptuous, insolent, 
passionately excited. — In first cl. \{ fears had been meant in a 
religious sense, the divine name would have been added ; see 3^ 
14^ 31^", and cf. i" S^'^ 16® 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 arroga7itly confident. 
Instead of arrogant the Grk. has mingles with, and Frank, renders : 

The wise man guards himself anxiously against evil, 
But the fool lightly takes part therein, 

evil being taken as = wicked conduct. The context (v.^^- ^"' '*) 
favors the translation given above. 

9. J^ t'^'; (@ o'peiK'fiaoviriv. perh. = some form of an. In "^ (5 has oIkIoli 
(no) for 1^ y2, and it introduces this word in ^; the resulting couplet is intelli- 
gible, but not probable. A simpler reading, based on (5, would be : nn^ dSix 
fii 2n-;:"^i a-^N ; this assumes that the yis exists, for the upright, without nrx. 
— 3r read Y^\ but renders it by j'^'n", taking the stem in the sense speak in 
parables. — Lag. changes <§ Kadapi(riJ.6v to Ka9vj3piaix6v, and gives as Heb. 
text of (3 : nrj ns>'^D Sii.s. See Baum. — S has two forms of the couplet, one 
= (S, the other nearer to |^; the second reads: fools conimit (lay) sin, but 
the sons (^n for ?^ r^) etc.; for y^' it had, perhaps, some form of ^^-^ (hardly 
a form of y^y). Gratz, jSi; Frank, di^n jSi '1N ^Tt, but the |V> is hardly appo- 



site. — 10. p? "'J; ® v^p€i, = pi, adopted by Frank.; see note on this v. 
above. The suff. in innijr might then be omitted. — 11. |^ mo^; @ crrr,- 
ffovrai; Gr. suggests niT' /lave free space. — ':'nN, in Heb. tent; thence, in 
Arab., family, people; cf. Ass. alu, — city. — 12. |§ ■'O'T'; probably to be 
read, with ®, sing. — 13. For ^ 3"? 3Nd^ Gr. proposes \h 3N3\ — |^ n,-i-\n,x 
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 '^ <§ inserts the neg., which 
may be the slip of a scribe (Lag.), or may com.e from y}^, or from an altered 
Heb. text. S attaches suff. to nnr::;'. — 14. |^ i'^;p; read i^Syas (De. Str. 
Kamp.). On (5 dcavo-qixdTwv (hardly = v^^'ji:, possibly v"?;', taken as = w/iat 
is in hint) see Capp. Crit. 4, 17. 6, Buxt. Attticrit. 579, Jag. Lag. Baum.; on 
Ss cf. Pinkuss. For the combination of "ji-i and '^'^i'c see Ju. 2^9 Hos. 4^ Jer. 4-* 
17W 32^^ Ez. 36^^ Zech. I**' al. — 15. |[£j v^c; (5 aKaKos, ignorant of evil, 
simpleminded in good sense; and, on other hand, (§ n-acoCp7os takes Di>r in 
bad sense. In (!!'', irai'oOpYos 5^ epxerai els /jLerdpoLav, it is not clear what 
Heb. is represented by els i^er.; Jag. laa'N':'; Schl., = ^; Held., 7\2\Z'ri^. 
S3C take ^ nrs as ixom.-\z'i< good forttaie ; '^ gresstis i?, preferable. — IL adds 
the couplet given in (5 13'. — 16. pj -i2;'rD is read by (g (followed by S^SI 
Frank.) as 3i;;nD (Capp. Crit., 4, 7. 3), dv6fjup being addition of translator; 

17, 18. Good sense versus irascibility and stupidity. 

17. A quick-tempered man acts foolishly, 
But a wise man t endures.' 

18. Simpletons come into possession of folly, 
But men of sense < acquire > knowledge, 

17. Antithetic, ternary. In second cl. the Heb. has : a^id a 
schemer (or, a jnan 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 ajigry) 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" 46* 
Jer. 44^ (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. I7-20 293 

note on the word in i^ ; it is understood by all Anc. Vrss. except 
Lat. in the good sense. The antithesis is chiastic : angry is con- 
trasted with endures, and foolish with wise. — 18. Antithetic, ter- 
nary. Simpleton, as in v.^^. In first cl. the verb should not be 
rendered by inherit (RV.), 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. 
a7-e crozuned 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 bad 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 immortahty (Wisd. Sol. 2-5). 

20, 21. Evils and claims of poverty. — Antithetic, ternary. 

20. The poor man is hated even by his neighbor, 
But the rich has many friends. 

21. He who despises his neighbor sins. 

But he who has pity on the poor, happy is he. 

20. Neighbor is any one who stands in close social relations, from 
whom, therefore, sympathy may be expected (Lu. 10^"). Hated 
is probably to be taken literally, = " detested " as a troublesome 
and obstructive person ; possibly, however, = " relatively disre- 

* Theod. Targ. Saad. Rashi, Luth. RV. Schult. De Wette, Noyes, Reuss, De. 
Kamp. Frank, al. 


garded " (cf. Lu. 14^ with Mt. 10^). The second cl. is \\i. : 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.-", declaring that he 
sins against the law of God (see notes on i^° 8^^). 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. al). — 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"^'-'') that almsgiving 
has expiatory efficacy, and for the use of righteousness as = abns- 
giving (Mt. 6^). 

17. 1^ rcrc t'N is taken in good sense by the Vrss., except 93L. — J^ t<ri?'>; 
@ vTro(p4pei; read KZ'^; Hi. ]iiZ'^ is quiet ; Ew., against the usage, nI;" (= niri) 
bears himself quietly, endures (he refers to \p 131"). iL = |^. On & (^= (5) 
see Pink. ® paraphrases ||^, only taking '■; in good sense, and nj"" as Qal, 
making subj. in ^ the same as in b. — 18. For |§ ^-\:^T neither the Heb. 
meaning surround (as = get possession of, cf. Ez. 21 1*) nor the Aram, wait 
for (Job 36'^) is here appropriate. The denom. sense, from "\."i3 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 iSnj of *. 
The term for crown in Pr. (4^ 12* 14^^ \&^ 17^) is r\-\-y;; the noun 1.13 may 
be Heb. (cf. mnb a capital, i K. 71^, and Ass. ktidur, a sort of cap or head- 
covering [De. Ass. Wich.l), but, as it occurs only in Esth., and as, according 
to Suidas, /ciSapts 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. 
Kidapis (= Klrapis), it seems, meant also a felt hat, a sense which Bab. kiidiir 
might well have. Cf. Lag. Gesamm. Abhandl. 207. De. compares post-Bibl. 
"(■"DrD giver of crowns, and rj,nn 1.13 crown of knowledge. Bi. nD^ buy, which 
is not decidedly apposite; Gr. y-\^z'?^ glory (as he and Cheyne read in ^ 142^), 
also unsatisfactory. The connection calls for the sense acquire, but the reading 
is uncertain; we should, perhaps, emend to luh'-' or vjni>, or to irnx', which 
(5 Kpar-^ffovaiv may represent. — 19. The Anc. Vrss., except IL, supply a verb 
in'': (5 6epaireii(70vaiv; S2u \'ri come. — 20. In pj in;;">^ the *? expresses gen- 
eral relation, = in respect to, for. The cl. may be rendered: even to his 

XIV. 20-22 295 

neighbor the poor man is a hated person. — 21. ^j" and ijjj are identical in 
meaning throughout OT. In Prov. Keth. always gives the former (3^* 14^1 
1^15 i6i9 22" 30I* 3i9- 20), the latter is given by Qeri in f^ 14^1 i6i9. Possibly 
the Massoretes in the last-named passages, and in -^ 913(12) 10I2, take •'jy in a 
physical and ij> in a religious sense (cf. the opposite change in -^ 919(1*)); the 
distinction is unwarranted, and it is difficult to see why they have altered the 
text in just these passages. S3C (?3Dc) understand the term in the physical 
sense. In -^ 91^ <S has pDC, ?C the vb. ■'j;'. — ^^ Tr^vrjTas perhaps represents 
Dtrn (instead of in;-\), but may be interpretative assimilation to the tttwxovs 
of ''. — IL adds at end the gloss: gui credit in Doinino misericordiam diligit. 

22. Recompense of beneficence and maleficence. 

Do not they go astray who devise evil ? 

But they who devise good meet with kindness and faithfulness. 

Antithetic, ternary. The interrogative form is emphatic, = verify, 
they go astray. The derived sense devise is here better than the 
more primitive cut, carve (Reuss), or plough (E\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 bad man 
wanders hopelessly, and the expression may be rendered : go to 
destruction. The expression kindness and faithfulness (or, as 
hendiadys, faithful 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. 3" (on which see note) 
16'^ 20-*, 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 mercy and truth (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 : 

They who err devise evil, 

But the good devise mercy and truth. 

The other departs more widely from the Hebrew : 

The workers of evil know not mercy and faith, 

But 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., ht. : the talk of the lips is 
only, etc. The Grk. interprets : he who is merry and careless can 
07ily come to penury. The verse (the simple reflection of which 
seemed bald) is paraphrased by the Syr. in a distinctly religious 
sense : in 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. 16'^^^ (parable of Lazarus) 10^- (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 (12^), or the hoary 
head (16''^), or grandchildren (17®) ; wealth is bestowed by wis- 
dom (3^® 8^^), or is the reward of piet}' (22*), 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. 22-26 297 

This offers a natural antithesis (ternary) . In second cl. Targ. has : 
the glory of fools ; Syr.: the subversion, &\.c. Cf. BS. 13^^: Wealth 
is good for him who is without sin, and poverty is bad in the 
mouth{?) 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 pubhc, and 
thus brings ruin or loss on innocent persons. Similar sayings are 
6'^ 12'" 14^. — 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 who utters lies destroys. 

26, 27. The preservative power of godly fear. 

26. He who fears Yahweh has strong ground of confidence, 
And his children will have a refuge. 

27. The fear of Yahweh is a fountain of life, 
Whereby one avoids the snares of death. 

26. Continuous parallelism, ternary, or quaternary-ternary. 
The Heb. has : in the fear of Yahweh is, etc., but this gives 
no antecedent for the his of second cl., which cannot refer to 
Yahtveh ; the usage of Prov., and the parallel aphorism, 20^, show 
that the children of the God-fearing man are meant : such pas- 
sages as Dt. 14^ (Ew.), \\i 73^'^, in which Israelites are called "sons 
of God," have no bearing on this verse. Nor is it satisfactory to 
consider the his as referring to a he who fears contained implicitly 
in the fear (De. Str. a/.) ; 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 fear Yahweh 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. 20' '', and contra, Dt. 24"' 
Jer. 31^^ Ez. 18"). 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 13", 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. 19""). 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 innltitude 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^' 10'' 37-" 14" 49' Ez. 39^ 
Joel3(4)'--i«V'33''- Cf. v.^ 

29-33. Various exhibitions of wisdom and folly. 

29. He 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 bones. 

31. He who oppresses the poor reviles his Maker, 
He 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, 5,1 
And < folly in the mind of fools. 1 

XIV. 25-31 299 

29. Antithetic, ternary. Wisdom is, more exactly, good sense ; 
the irascible man is characterized as a fool on general principles of 
personal and social well-being. In second hne the verb of om' 
Heb. text is lit. lifts up, exalts, which (if the text be retained) is 
best understood * as = increases ( = is full of, brings to a high 
pitch), orf 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 hes before his feet) { and carries folly away (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 {y\\.. 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. 
Ez. 5^^ Isa. 42^^ 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 he, or to the poor ; in the former case, the 
insult to God 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. 2^°, and an exact parallel in Job 31^^; in the well- 
known hymn of Cleanthes all men are said to be sons of God. 
Here a practical turn is given to the conception. Cf. 17* 19'^ 

* So Grk. Targ. Syr. Fleisch. Kamp. + Ew. 

t With Schult. Reuss. § Rashi, De. Str. 



BS 4*^ (in which a special prudential motive is introduced). 
Maker '\s a divine name of the late reflective literature (Isa. 51^^ 
54^ Job 4^^ 35'° i/' 95*^) ; Hos. 8'* Isa. 17", 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. 30- t// 118^ 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, 
beheving 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 
(= jnind) of the intelligent man wisdom reposes (or, is at rest), 
but in the mind (or, inward part) of fools it makes itself known 
(or, is made known). Since the meaning cannot be that true 
wisdom is possessed by fools, the it (= 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 

>^iv. 31-34 301 

to reposes, 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." But this paraphrase contains too much explanation, 
and the employment of wisdom in a sarcastic sense is unexampled 
and improbable ; moreover the expression // ?nakes itself ktiown in 
the mind of fools is strange and hard. Cf. 12"^, where a sentiment 
of this sort is clearly expressed. The Grk. (followed by Syr.) 
inserts the negative, and says that it is not knowfi in fools, while 
the Targ. reads : folly is known (or, makes itself knowii) ; these 
emendations offer an intelligible statement, but they leave the 
strange term known, which yields no satisfactory sense. The Lat. 
gives the bold interpretation : // tvill teach fools also (cf 8^), which, 
however, the Heb. cannot mean. The rendering : {that which is) 
in the 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 knoivn 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. Eccl. 7^) : 
practical wisdom is the permanent possession of men who have a 
true perception of the relations of Hfe, while folly in conduct 
(nbix) characterizes those who are intellectually dull (bos). The 
distinction between perception and conduct is made elsewhere in 
Prov. (10-^ 14^ al.). 

34, 35. Relation of nations and kings to integrity and 

34. Righteousness exalts a nation, 
But sin is the disgrace of peoples. 

35. The king's favor is bestowed on a servant who acts intelligently, 
His anger rests on one who conducts affairs badly. 

34. Antithetic, ternary. Righteousness here = general moral 
integrity, its opposite is sin ; exalts = 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 Pro v., 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. Servant = 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. 1^ Ni'^n is not expressed in any Anc. Vrs. (S x*^!" the godless, and so 2C), 
but is good in sense and rhythm. For ?§ i;'n^ Hi. proposes i;;t, and for "> 'n Gr. 
suggests i3;;ni nSi'; neither of these emendations is a distinct improvement of 
1^. Before ^'y\~ in ^ insert ^7 (cf. 13I8 16^) ; so ©. — On the double rendering 
in (5S 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 |^* 
(Lag.), but to render J§ D\"ii3-' "121 freely by yjbii^ kuI dvdXyrjros. On <S (which 
follows (3, but also gives J^^ paraphrastically) cf. Pink. — 24. |§* dtj7; 
<3 Travovpyoi; read d?div or Dnn>". — l^'' r'?\s (first occurrence), rendered 
freely by © SiarptjS^; read pmS (i^ 4^). The second 'n is better written 
onSiN, — 1^ ncic; read, with Hi., noi3 destroys. — 26. |§ nin> riNTia; read 
'1 Nn;S, to gain an antecedent for the suffix in following v:3. — 27. ?§ ^^(^>; 
(3 irpbarayfia, = mr, as in 13I* (Jag. Baum.). — 28. ^ j'ri, only here; else- 
where (8^^ 31* Ju. 53 Hab. ii'' Isa. 40^^ xp 2^) ]p; the stem (see the Arab.) 
^= heavy, zueighty, powerful; (§ ^vvdarov; VL Dna (7rp6voos) provider, leader 
(so Heb. ny-\); Si 1*^-; IL principis; cf. name of Syr. king ^rn, i K. ii^^. — 
29. ?^ ::■;"; @ iVxi/pis {lvx^pOi% B^b nc-^A); S ud, apparently = nanD (Gr.), 
which we should probably here read. — 30. (5* (followed by S) irpq.iidvfws 
dvrip Kapdias iarpbs is free rendering of |^, the two first words (|§ anij'3 "n) 
having been conformed, by scribal caprice, to the beginning of v.'*'^, /j.aKp66v/jLos 
dv-qp, and taken as subject; for |^ nqio 2^ <@ appears to have read aS nsic. 

— 31. 1^ p'^j?; <5 6 (TVKocpavTQv. — St and ji2S do not occur in chs. 1-9. — 
32. 1^ \ib2 HDn; @ 6 TTfTToidois ry iavrov b<n6T-r)Ti\ read i3P3 (Bi. Kamp. 
Frank.). — 33. |§ yiri; read nSiN. For dv5pbs, in (5 e»' Kapdiq. dyady dvSpbs 
(Tocpla, Jag. proposes eveSpos, which would satisfactorily represent f^ njn (see 
Lag.). — 34. ||J iDn (apparently an Aramaism); (§ iXaa-ffovovcri, = iDn (Jag.). 

— 35. J§ V-nari; O rj 5^ eauroO evarpocplq., = ipmi'i (Jag.). — (3 has another 
rendering of ^ in 15^*: 6p7r/ dTriXXuo-tj' kuI <j>povi^ovs (jap). 


XIV. 34-XV. 4 303 

XV. 1. Power of gentleness. 

A soft answer turns away wrath, 
But harsh words stir up anger. 

Antithetic, ternary. 6'<?//= mild, gentle ; see 25^^. Turns away ; 
cf. 29" 24^* Jer. 18^; one Greek text has causes to cease (= de- 
stroys). Harsh {KY . 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^ : atiger destroys even 
the wise. 

2. Speech of sage and fool. 

The tongue of the wise « dispenses > knowledge, 
The mouth of fools utters folly. 

Antithetic, quaternary (or, ternary). Dispenses is lit, drops (5^ 
Job 29^^ Am. 7^*^ Ez. 20*^ [21^] al.), for which the Heb, has 7)iakes 
good, that is, does or treats in a good, excellent way, RV. uttereth 
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. lo^^-^i-ss ^^"^ ^^z^ 

3. God's criticism of life. 

The 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'^ Isa. 52^), of the prophet as moral 
and rehgious critic (Ez. 3^^), of the wife as guardian of the house- 
hold (31^), and the verb of God as observer of men {\p 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, 
But violent words wound the soul. 



Antithetic, ternary. Soothing tojigue 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 two terms of the Heb. expression should perhaps 
be inverted, so as to read a tojigue of healing (such is the order 
in 14^", 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 Ht. : but violence (RV. perverseness) 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" (RV. vexation of spirit). — Violent is that which passes 
beyond the line of right, the immoderate, extravagant, or false ; 
see note on 11^, and, for the corresponding verb, notes on 13^ 19^ 
21^^ 22^^ The parallelism here favors the sense immoderate (so 
the Lat.) or violent, which gives a contrast like that in \}. — 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. 13^ 15^". 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 (10* 12^ a/.). 

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. 10^ ii* 15^. 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. 11''^ i Sam. 
14^ I K. 18^'') ; cf. 11^'-^^ 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 3C5 

favors the reading (found in one Greek text) destroyed, cut off ; 
the prep, in should be removed from second cl., and inserted (as 
in RV.) in first clause. The form of expression of the couplet is 
drawn from agricultural life; the term reve?me occurs in 3®" 8^'-' 
ioi« 14* 16S 18'" Ex. 231" Jos. 5^dr/.— 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, 
But 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.-*, and cf v.". Here, as 
elsewhere in Pr., stress is laid on utterance and teaching. — In 
the first line the verb in the Heb. is scatter, a word elsewhere 
used of destructive dispersion (20*-^ Ez. 5^° \f/ 106-' al.) ; 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. doeth 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 
does not understand ; for similar expressions see 18^ 23^^ 28^ 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- 

8. The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to Yahweh, 
But the prayer of the upright is acceptable to him. 


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" 17^ 21^-^^), and here, as in 21^-^, 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 aboHtion of the sacrificial ritual; a sim- 
ilar movement appears to be indicated in i/r 50", 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^^ 2 Sam. 7^^, and cf. Lu. 1^°) ; the antithesis is here 
marked. — For a similar attitude toward sacrifice cf. Am. 5^^ Isa. 
i" Jer. f I Sam. 15-2 ^^ 50^^^ ^iie.irdaiG)^ Qn sacrifice see note 
on 7^^, on acceptable, notes on 8^ 10^^ 11^, and, for the ritual use 
of the term, Lev. i^ 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 ht. 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. 

XV. 8-1 1 307 

shall die). On correction and reproof ste notes on i^^. The 
person described is the morally wicked, disobedient man ; the 
punishment is physical and earthly. Life is represented as a dis- 
cipline — woe 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. 

Sheol and Abaddon lie open before Yahweh, 
How much more the hearts of men ! 

Extended parallelism, ternary. The couplet expresses a conclu- 
sion from the less to the greater ; it is assumed that the Under- 
world is a more remote and mysterious region than the human 
soul. On Sheol see notes on i^" 5^ al. The term Abaddon 
( = place of destruction, region of death) occurs elsewhere in OT. 
in 27-" (in connection, as here, with Sheol), Job 26^ (parallel to 
Sheol), 28^^ (in connection with Death, — the Realm of death), 
31^ (= Underworld), i/^ 88"'^^^ (parallel to Grave, and = Under- 
world) ; it is thus a synonym oi Sheol, to which it is here added 
for rhetorical emphasis. There is no authority for the opinion 
(De.) that Abaddon is the lowest region of Sheol. The OT. does 
not recognize strata in Sheol; the expression in Dt. 32"^ i/' 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 NT. Apocalypse (9") Abaddon is the name 
of the Angel of the Abyss (= Angel who inflicts death, and sends 
men to Sheol) ; in the Talmud {Shab. 89^) it is used in a similar 
manner ; as the conception of the other life became more defi- 
nite, the tendency was to personalize OT. expressions. Here, as 
in Job 26®, Yahweh is apparently represented as controlling Sheol ; 
a different view is expressed in Isa. 39^^, where (as generally in 
the earlier literature) Yahweh has nothing to do with the Under- 
world (cf. note on i^-) ; the change of view was due to the com- 
pleter development of the monotheistic idea. Even Job (Job 
14^^) is not sure that God's power controls Sheol; the view of 
Prov. is more advanced, but still does not express a moral control 
exercised by God over the denizens of the Underworld. — Men is 
lit. childreti of men ; son of man is a comparatively late Heb. 


expression for " human being " ; so Ez. 2^ al., Job 25® ^ 8*'*^ 33^* 
Uan. 8^^ (and Aramaic, 7^^). 

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-'* ("do not walk [asso- 
ciate] with an irascible man"). Cf. also i'^ 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- 
phes more of movement and utterance than is contained in the 
Heb. term, which means joyful, glad. Soul is lit. heart; heart 
and spi?-it 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. 13^. 

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 hioivledge 
is the same here as in v.^, on which see note. In second cl. the 
Heb. text has face, which Ewald retains ; but the reading of the 
margin, tnouth (which is found in all the Anc. Vrss.) accords with 
the vtxhfeedSy and is obviously better ; mouth feeds is a rhetorical 

XV. II-I5 309 

variation of mind seeks. — Instead oi feeds on, the verb of the sec- 
ond cl. may be rendered is occupied with, strives after (lit. asso- 
ciates with), or, delights in, but feeds better suits the noun mouth. 
— The word rendered /(^^/jr 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 14^ al. 
and throughout chs. 1-9, virtue is allied with knowledge, vice with 
ignorance. The verbs express eager interest and devotion. 

XV. 1. ?|J 2-v^; Berakoth, i-j a nu'C (Strack, Proleg., 105) — pj "!->; (g freely 
viroiriiTTOva-a submissive. — ||J ■"'^i'"'; (§ iyelpei, free rendering of |^, or of "iV2, 
as S has it. — 2. |ij 2J;^; read 1-3-1 (Mic. 2^ Ez. 2i2); the stem occurs in Pr. 
only in 5^, and then in the literal sense; (§ Ka\a ewiffTaTai — ||? nyi aar. — 
|§ n'^is; S ipl3^, = r^s (Jag.). — 4. In b (g^^ diverge widely from 1^ : 
(3 Si (TVvrrfpCiJv avT'}]v Tr\r](76ri(TeTai irvevfiaros; ttX. = y2Z^'<; <tvvt. perh. from 
D^D or D7po weighs (Jag. Gr.) ; Schl. suggests /nr? crvvTrjpCiv and awTpi^rtcreTai. 
3; (and substantially &) yas'j "■nnifj p Sjnii (5> adds nj::), apparently free 
rendering of (5. Bi. writes ^I'^b and >'3'^'. There seems to be nothing better 
than to retain ||J, perh. omitting a in nn3 (Isa. 65I*) ; De., in support of the j, 
adduces Arab, o'^po i'wT'j he has broken my heart ; the 3 would thus mark the 
place of the act of breaking. — ^p (the stem in S usually ^on, ^' '^p'?|->) occurs 
only here and ii^, on which see note. — 5. ||J "xr; (5 fJ.vKTT]p[^€i. — 6. In 
|§ -N3.-ia omit the 2, and insert the same prep, before r2 (so <S2C). Bi. nbnnj. 
1^ '"':^3",:!; read .t^dj. — On (g see Lag. Baum. — 7. f^ n^; (5 S^Serat, from 
irs"; S <pv\daa-ov(Ti; read ■nxi (Frank.). — |^ jr; (g dcr0aXe?s; IL (p n't) dissi- 
mile ; read p'> (so also Gr. suggests). — 10. |^ mx IV)"^; @ 7i'wptferat iittA 
Tuji/ irapi6vTwv, — n i-i2p'7 (Jag.), 71'. being supplied to make the sentence 
complete. — (§ dKd/coi/ (|^ y-i), probably error for kclkov (Jag.). S> follows (g; 
ST nniN Nva::, perh. free rendering of |§. — f§ nr^; Gr. a::'' (Hos. 13!). — 
11. 1^ n?»<; 6i dTTwXeia. — 12. ||J '^.n; read rx ((g ^ifTa). — 13. In » 
@ (TKv6pcoTrd^€L is sad maintains djd as subject, while S follows ^ except 
that it makes the verb transitive ; in both cases we have the natural freedom 
of translators. — 14. Kelhib ^jd; read Qere •'2 (so (gSST). — |^ n'^'ix nvn^; 
@ yvdxrerai (•;!>) KaKo. (perh. = |^) ; Gr. nxii delights in, and Frank. nj?-\^ as 
corresponding Aram, form; all the senses of the stem n;n seem to be closely 
related to one another. 

15. Happiness is better than sorrow. 

Every day is hard for him who is in trouble, 
But the happy man has a continual feast. 

Antithetic, ternary. A statement of ordinary experience (cf. 
v.^^), without ethical import, but with iniphed commendation of 


cheerfulness and happiness. Happy is Mi. good of heart, that is, in 
a good, joyous, or cheerful frame of mind. 'Yhe/easi is the enjoy- 
ment of the conditions of life. Hard here represents the same 
Heb. word that is rendered by stem in v.^". On the adjective 
translated /;/ trouble (which elsewhere has also the senses poor, 
afflicted, pious) see notes on 3^'* 14-^ i6^^ 

16, 17. Superiority of spiritual over physical wealth. 

16. 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 ihtfear 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. 17^ 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 14'*, 
andcf. I K. 4^3 ^^^y 

18, 19. Commendation of patience and industry. 

18. An irascible man stirs up contention, 
One slow to anger appeases strife. 

19. The way of the slothful is < hetlged 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 
angry (RV. wrathful), but one prone to anger, quicktempered, in 

XV. 15-20 311 

contrast with the calm, patient man of second cl. See the similar 
statements in 142^ 15^ BS. S^^ 28*-^^. — 19. Antithetic, quaternary- 
ternary. Grk., happily : ^/le way of the slothful is strown with 
thorns, that of the sturdy is smooth. Heb. : is like a hedge of 
thortis, 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®**^ : / will hedge up thy 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 carefully constructed and free from obstacles, like a 
highway (so RV.); the adj. means cast up, roads having been con- 
structed by throwing up earth (Jer. 18^^ Isa. 57"). The antithesis 
requires that the man of second cl. be described as diligent; the 
Heb. term {yashar) may mean honest, straightfonvard (usually, 
upright'), but an inconsiderable alteration gives the ordinary word 
for industrious (10* 12-*^^ 13^ 21^). 

20,21. Wisdom and folly — their results for life. Antithetic, 
ternary. Delitzsch makes v.^ (on account of its resemblance to 
10^) the beginning of the third section (see 13^) of the collection 
contained in 10^-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, 

But 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 10^ (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 Grk.) — 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 21^) : a fool of a man (KN. foolish man) — a 
construction like that of Gen. 16'^, a wild ass of a man (a man 
of the fool sort, of the wild ass species). The Anc. Vrss. and 
some Heb. MSS. x^dA foolish son, which may be assimilation of the 
expression here to the more familiar form of io\ — 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 straightfortvard 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 "^ y^ insert ^. — ^^ Travra tov xp(>vov ol dcpdaX/xoi tQv KaKwp 
(= Dyi •'y;) irpoa-d^xovTai KaKa. Lag. supposes that the Grk. translator had 
y\ ']!'\ 'yn, which he read n>-i r;-\ 2y-i; perh., however, the Grk. stands for 
nj.n oyi "'J^yS; Bi. nj'-i y\ iry. — 1§ nni-c; (g ijcrvxdaovcnv, = njrs (I-ag.). — 
16. |§ n::nD; Or. nmr. The following ^3 is omitted by Bi. on rhythmical 
grounds. — For pj 'c (H has d0o/3i'as, a singular expression (= without the fear 
of Yahweh), but apparently chosen as contrast to the <p6^ov of *; the reading 
dcre^eias (S'^ 23. 252. Lag.) is scribal emendation; of. Baum. On & see 
Pinkuss. — 17. |^ '"in-\s; (g Icytir/ios; .SST ~-\y a meal; % heely, vocari ad. 
Bi. omits z"', instead of which (@ has Kai x^pi-v, perh. = jni (Bi.), perh. 
rhetorical expansion. — ^ n:;c'-'; not Rabbin, (love of) the name, i.e. God 
(Baum.), but (love of) reputation : see Pinkuss. — 18. On the two renderings 
of O see Lag. Baum.; dcre^i^s (D"n), as being farther from ^, is regarded by 
Lag. as genuine; (§ ttjv fj.iWov(rav (= the impending or threatejti7!g gicarrel) 
is free rendering of ||? 3-', or, possibly, = N3n; fiaWov, in like manner, may 
freely express the contrast of the clauses, the ]t; of |^ being left untranslated. 
S combines the two renderings of (3, perhaps by alterations of successive 
scribes. — 19. |^ .-^d^-itc; read pi-'d-: (so (3, cf Lag.). — |tj z-'-'j-; (B dvdpeiwv; 
read Si"in (cf. (S in io<). — 20. |^ 2-1K "^D:; (&^E and 7 Heb. MSS. have 
~?D3 p, probably assimilation to lo^. — p? n:^; (3 fJ-VKT-qpl^ei; ^ a-rnz dis- 
grace {ihe %2.mG stem is employed in lo^). — 21. (5 appears to leave nn:;t;' 
untranslated, and to insert TpljBoi from the connection; Lag. emends evdeeh 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 3^3 

23. Joy comes to a man from the utterance of his mouth. 
And a word in season, how good 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.^°. Thep/ans (RV. 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. : by (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^^ 20^^ 25^, and cf. Am. 3" Jer. 23^* 
Job 19'^ i// 55^^'^^*. — 23. Synonymous, ternary. Utterance is lit. 
answer, a terra 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. /« its 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 
aifairs 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 utte7-ance 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 seasojiable word is useful. 

24. Wisdom is life. 

The wise man's path goes upward, to life, 
He 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 beneath {= so that he 
turns, etc.) — appositional proposition put (as is not uncommon 
in OT.) in the form of result (or, what is the same thing in Heb., 
purpose). The first cl. is lit. : the way of life upward is to {= is 
the way of) the wise man; as be?ieath (or, dotvnward) quahfies 


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 Ufe of first cl. must, accord- 
ingly, be physical fife; see, for example, 13" 14^. The signifi- 
cance of the term iipward is given in the paragraph 2'*"^ 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 
2I9 ^18 ^6 jq17 ^^14 ^1^ -pj^g 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 upwaj-d 
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 estabUshes 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 pow-erful and unscrupulous, here called the proud 
(16^^ Job 40" \j/ 94-) ; 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 (1/^ 68^*^'). 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^ Mic. 2^) and the later mor- 
alists (Job 24^ Pr. 22^). The law, based at first on the insepa- 
rable connection between land and citizenship, became later more 

XV. 24-27 315 

directly the expression of a sentiment of justice. — 26. Evil de- 
vices 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 pin-e {tahof) is not a proper contrast to 
abomination {toeba) ; even if it be taken in a ritualistic sense as 
= dean, its opposite is 2(nclean {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 Grk.) : pU7-e speech will be confif-med by him as very beautiful. 
We should, perhaps, change the text so as to read : pleasant (or, 
gracious) words are well-pleasing to him ; gracious words will then 
stand as the sign of friendly intention. But even this reading 
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. 

He who is greedy of gain destroys his own house, 
But 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'®). A rebuke of avarice and highhanded deaUng, 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 11-^, Ex. 23*, 
Ez. 22^-, Eccl. 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. 

From 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 here 


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 utterances of the wicked are vicious. 

Antithetic, ternary. Lit. the mind {heart) of the righteous consid- 
ers (RV. studies) to a?iswer, 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 litters is lit. pours out (see i^ i5"), 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.^. Azr/;v;;/ = 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. 27-32 317 

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 el. suggests) ; 
cf. 1 6^^ Job 29"* \p 4'' 44"'^^ 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. Grk. (with a 
variation of text) : the eye which sees beautiful things. Fat bones 
are those which are full of marrow ; cf. y^i 63^'^^, and notes on 

31-33. Docility and humility. 

31. He who hearkens to hfe-giving admonition 
Will dwell among the wise. 

32. He who rejects instruction slights himself, 

But he who regards admonition gains understanding. 

33. The 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 (Gen. 19^ 2 Sam. 17* Job 31^^), but the term is used in 
poetry to express permanent dwelling (19-^ Job 19'* \\i 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 divell with 
the wise is synonym of success and happiness, knowledge is the 
fundamental fact in hfe. — 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- ; admonition, as in preceding couplet. Slight 
is despise, lightly esteem, then treat slightingly, and reject as being 
of S7nall value (i Sam. 8' Job s^'' Pr. 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 Heb. has a formal antithe- 
sis which cannot be reproduced in English : slights his 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- 
weh is elsewhere described as the beginning of knowledge (i^) 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. 10^-22^*^. See notes on i'' 9^°. — The 
proper antithesis to second cl. is found in 18^^ : pride leads to de- 
struction as humility to honor ; but a connection between humility 
and the fear of Yahweh is given in 22*, which is an expansion of 
this clause. According to 22* the two things are substantially the 
same : hujnility 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*) which God bestows on those who obey him, 
and our couplet contains an expanded parallelism : the fear of 
God is tvisdom, and it entails honor — first the intellectual product 
of reverence, and then its reward. On the other hand, 18^^, com- 
pared with 16", 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. <@ fi^ niMuvres = U]2 (||J V^^); ^^ KapSlais = 2^2 (^ 2'-^2). — The 
insertion of nsv counsel at end of ^ ((@<S2E) is adopted by Bi., who refers to 


XV. 32-XVI. 319 

the sing, apn; this insertion is possible, but hardly necessary; Gr. nat^nn men. 
— On S, which follows (3, but with arbitrary changes, see Baum. Pinkuss. — 
23. (& ov 1X7] vTraKova-Q 6 KaKbs avry oiiSi jxt] eiiry Kaipibv ri Kal KaXbv tQ koivi^ 
= ab HD 'Tij-'a nail n^a nj>'c3 trx >••:•;•> n^, the man being interpreted as /ca/c6s, 
and the couplet freely rendered throughout. — As to the original sense of the 
stem nj>' answer cf. Ges. T/ies., and Arab, ^y;, ■<Ji'2. — 24. ^ ^'^';^^; (& Siavorj- 
fjuira, perh. after Ez. ii^, perh. = .n3'.;'no; cf. Jag. Lag. — |^ na;:; (5 ffdidfi, 
perh. = '?s:: (Baum.), or na^:: (Jag-)- — 26. On ^ see note on this verse above. 
(5 ayuwv di priaeii (refjLvai, in which it is doubtful what Heb, word ff. repre- 
sents. For 1^ c-iiia we should perhaps read iji-i. — 27. Instead of o-wferat 
(1^ n^n^) 23. 103. 252. 253 have ^rjCTerai, a. correction after the Heb. — See 
notes of Lag. and Baum. on the dislocation of couplets at this point. — 28. In 
8'' 24^, i// 2^ njn is followed by the object directly, in ^ 77^2 143^ by 3 and 
object, here by 2 in SST; as, however, the object is here an act, the h is 
appropriate. — '^ ~'yC> (5^ Tio-reis; (g"^^ Tr/crrty; SE (following @) N.njc^n; 
these Vrss. seem to have had nj-:s or r':"N, which should perhaps be adopted 
in |§. — 30. 1^ Z^y; is":; (§ 16'^ BeojpQv dcpdaXfxbs Ka\a, free rendering of |§ 
taken to mean " what the eye sees." The Heb. expression does not occur 
elsewhere in OT., but appears to mean i/ie light that resides in the eyes (cf. 
•^ 90^); for the rendering good fortune there is no authority in OT.; ind 
occurs only in late writings (from Ez. on). — 31. Lacking in (§, probably 
by scribal accident. The rendering in S^ appears to be based on that of 
ASeE; these Vrss. and SM = |§; <S^ differs from S in a couple of words. — 
32. ||? DNb and ■:^ip; (3 16^, freely, to gain a distinct contrast, fiLae2 and 
dyairg.. — 33. |^ nini; (5 (16^) ^ "'■ Beov; (gBAX Kvplov; which of these is 
original in the Grk. it is hard to say. — ^ 1D9; Perles, Analekt. p. 60: iD3 
basis, which is suitable, but the change is not necessary. — See H-P, Lag, 

XVI. 1-9. Divine control of life. 

1. To man belong the plans of the mind. 

But from Yahweh comes the answer of the tongue. 

2. All a man's conduct seems to him pure. 
But it is Yahweh who weighs the spirit. 

3. Commit thy work to Yahweh, 
Then will thy plans succeed. 

4. Yahweh has made everything for its own end, 
Yea, even the wicked for the evil day. 

5. The proud man is an abomination to Yahweh, 
He will assuredly not go unpunished. 

6. By 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 hin? 


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.^, 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 
tongiie = 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. 10^^ (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*' \j/ US'* Ex. io\ cf. 
Rom. 9^^. In the term answer there is possibly allusion to the 
task of speaking (defending one's self, etc.) before great men 
(Frank.). See 22^', and note on 15^. — 2. Antithetic, ternary. 
See 3^ 14^ 21^ 24^^. 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. 16'^ 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 
x^i 37^, cf. \^ 22**^'. Syr. Targ. Lat. read disclose. — V.^"^ 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 

XVI. 1-5 321 

way, the principle (recognized everywhere in OT.) of the abso- 
luteness of Yahvveh'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 Yahvveh 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 Ex. 
9'« Ez. 14^ 1 8, BS. 39^*^^ cf. Eccl. 3I-". — Grk. reads: all the 
works of the Lord {are done) with righteousness, and the wicked 
man is kept for the evil day. — The evil day is the day of judg- 
ment, retribution, punishment. — The prophets regard the nations 
of the earth as controlled by Yahweh 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 Ezekiel (Ez. 38^*^ 
39-^) Gog is punished that Yahweh may manifest his power and 
glory to all nations, and so in the Pentateuch Pharaoh is dealt 
with (Ex. 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. BS. 15'"). — 
5. Continuous, ternary-binary. The first cl. is the same as 
first cl. of II-'', with substitution oi proud iox false ; Xh^ proud 
man is he who sets himself presumptuously against Yahweh, and 
refuses to obey the divine law. The second cl. is the same 
as first cl. of ii"^, with omission of the wicked; on the expres- 
sion assuredly (lit. hand to hand, = my hand on it J) see note 
on ii-\ 

Grk. here inserts the two couplets : 

The beginning of a good way is to do justly, 
And it is more acceptable with God than to offer sacrifices. 
He who seeks the Lord will find knowledge with righteousness, 
And they who rightly seek him will find peace. 



These couplets (which may have been wTitten originally in He- 
brew) resemble proverbs in our Hebrew text ; the first may have 
been suggested by i6^, the second by aS'^ (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 kitid7iess and truth stands for morality 
or virtue in general ; so it is used in 3^, 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. 'f-- ^ (where Yahweh is said to have commanded not sacrifice 
but obedience) ; cf. Ez. 18 \^ 50^* ^ jie. ucis. 19) . jj^ jg^_ ^q2 ^j^g gjj^ 

of Jerusalem is said to have been expiated by her suffering. — The 
fear of Yahweh is parallel and equivalent to kindness (or, love) 
and truth; and misfortune (or, suffering), lit. enil, is identical 
with the punishment which is averted when sin is expiated. — 
7. Continuous, ternary. Grk. (the couplet occurs after 15^) : 
the ways of righteous men are acceptable with the Lord, and by 
thetn even enemies become friends, which is identical in meaning 
with the Hebrew ; the form of the latter seems preferable. In- 
stead of the by thetn of the Greek we should perhaps read to thetn. 
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 15^^. 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 (15^^). — 
9. Antithetic, ternary. Identical in meaning with v}. 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. — 

XVI. 5-9 323 

In v.^ ® 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 kings. 

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 Greek period (possibly, also, the Macca- 
bean princes) that formed the writer's milieu. It is, however, 
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. ii^^ ip 72) the king is guided by 
God, 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 Israehtish kings only in the vague way 
in which it is apphcable 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 
them to be — hardly one of them paid much respect to the moral 
law of Yahweh in his political pohcy or his private concerns. De- 
litzsch observes that the OT. never speaks of the actual king as 
infallible ; the idea " the king can do no wrong " did not exist in 
Israel. — Reference to kings is found both in chs. 1-9 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. 

13. 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 rain. 



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 decision. 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. 21^^'-^' Nu. 
23^) ; the practice was condemned by the prophets as generally 
connected with the worship of other gods than Yahweh (i Sam. 
15^ Dt. 18^*^ 2 K. 17'"), or with false pretensions to speaking in 
his name (Jer. 14" Ez. 13^). Here the term is used figuratively. 

— Bickell emends to oracle of Yahweh, but the addition is unnec- 
essary — the divine name is understood. — 11. Ternary-binary. 
Weights is lit. stones, which were kept in a bag. From Am. 8^ 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. 45'''''^ ; it 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 Greeks, the Jews had a regular system 
of stamped weights of stone or metal. — The balance is the steel- 
yard— cf. 11^ 20^» '3 Am. 8^ Hos. i2^'»' Mic. 6" Lev. 19^ Jer. 32^°. 

— 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. 19^'' al.) 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 ajid 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, Altbabylon. Afaass- und 
Gewichtssystem, 1893, and G. A. Reisner on Bab. metrology. 

XVI. IO-I5 325 

It is singular that the adjective just should be attached to one of 
these, and not to the other. The Lat. avoids this difficulty by 
rendering (with a slight change of text) : balance and scales are 
{matter of) judgment for Yahweh, that is, he has to decide all 
cases in which a false use of them occurs. But 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 rendering a 
just balance and scales are, etc., given by many commentators 
and translations,* is grammatically incorrect. — 12. Ternary, Cf. 
Dt. ly'^-* Isa. 32^ The affirmation includes all kings considered 
as ideal rulers ; such rulers understand that justice is essential to 
their permanence. Grk., less well : he who does evil is an abomi- 
nation, etc. — Cf. 2 Sam. 7^^*^- i// 94"" Isa. 16^ j similar aphorisms 
are 20-* 25^ 29^^. — 13. Ternary. Good kings desire honest coun- 
sellors and servants. The verb love 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. Binary. The Heb. 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 ideal character; the couplet, however, rather regards him 
simply as ruler. — 15. Binary. The antithesis to the preceding 

* Geier, E\v. De. Str. RV. al. These assume an exception to the grammatical 
rule. Zockler : scale and just balances. 



aphorism. The light of the countenance is a friendly look, =■ favor, 
gracious reception ; the word for light is different from that used 
in 15^, but the general sense is the same. — Life is long and 
happy life, = prosperity. The king, here as in v.", 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. 10^ Job 
2g^ ; the Autumn rain ("former rain," October) preceded the 
sowing (Hos. 6^ Dt. ii^* Jer. 5-* Joel 2^ ijj 84«<''). For details of 
agriculture see Nowack, Arch. I. § 41. 

XVI. 1. Wanting in (5^ found in SH(g23aJ. ^^^.^ ^252. 253 ai. ^H add Sffv 
fi^as ei ToaovTov raweLvov aeavrbv Kal evavTL Kvpiov tov deov ivp-qaeis X'^P"'* 
= BS. 3^^, and perhaps thence taken by (Q-^-"'-. — 2. The adj. i? occurs only in 
the late priestly ritual (Ex. 27'^'' 30^^ Lev. 242''), Job, Prov., but the verb n^r is 
found in Isa. i^^ Mic. 6^^. — The stem \'2T', — establish, appears to be a second- 
ary formation from p; the origin of the sense weigh, test is not clear. Gr., 
unnecessarily, jn3.- — The couplet is not found in this form in (H^; something 
like it appears in (5 16*, which is nearly related to the added couplet given 
above under v.^; cf. BS. 35i7-i8 — 3. Wanting in (§^, found in eS"@23a(.^ 
perhaps a late addition to |§, after '/'37^. — On v.^ 3 gee notes of Lag. Baum. 
Bi. — 4, = 9 in (5. — |^ Sr'5; (5 ep7o. — 1§ dj; (5 ^lyXdo-ererat, = -iCi'. 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). — (S's rendering of inji'S*? by fxtra. SiKaiocrv i't)S is accounted for 
by Held, from the Rabbin, reference of the Heb. expression to students of law; 
but, like 2C those who obey him, (5 simply takes the form in ^ as = obey. — In 
J§ iniTO*^ the vowel-point under S may be scribal error, or it may be anoma- 
lously inserted to distinguish this expression from the prep, ti""*^ with suffix (so 
Ew. De. Philippi). — 5, = 6 in @. — pj nayn; (@ aKaOapros (cf. /35Ai'7/xa, 
1526). — 10. cop, originally part, fragment {Ktzh. portioti), from stem = 
divide ; divination is perhaps from the fragments (of stone, etc.) which were 
used in divining processes (Halevy, RE/., 1887), perhaps from the verb = 
divide, determine fates. — 11. The stems dSd and ftx (Arab, wazan) appear 
to express the idea of evenness, equality. — BD'i'C qualifies only ''JtNC, not d'?d; 
see Philippi, Stat. Const, im Heb., p. 12 ff. (S poiry] ^v^ov dLKaioa-Ovr) irapa k. = 
m.T'S QQC'o D''ji.sa D^s, taking asz':2 as pred., and so S3L. The tDD£'n is better 
omitted as gloss. — |^ mniS; read, with Gr., iSoS; see note on this v. above. 
— 12. S read r\2-!p and oz'-;, the latter word qualifying ddSs; ^iE appear to 
have been influenced by (S; see Baum. Pink. — 13. |ij 3-in>, Qal; IL Nif. (and 
so Jag.) ; if a change is thought necessary, it will be better to write the 
vb. Qal. plur., or (with (5) the noun sing., nVs. — 14. 'f^ •'dn'?d; (&, sing., is 


XVI. 15-17 32/ 

belter. — 15. ii'phn is, perhaps, originally time of gathering, and mn, '-{•< 
sprinkler. On the reading of ST see Fleisch,, in Levy, ChaLd. IVort., I. 420, 
and on S3^ cf. the notes of Baum. and Pinlc. 

16-19. Wisdom, integrity, humility. 

16. Wisdom is better than gold. 

And understanding more to be desired than silver. 

17. The path of the upright avoids misfortune, 
He guards his life who takes heed to his way. 

18. Pride goes before destruction. 
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 the getting of miderstanding ; for the terms see note on 
3^'*. 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 thati gold! but the how juuch 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. may be 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.^', 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 vv-ill 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. ii" (pride brings disgrace), 15^ (humility brings 
honor), 16^^ iS^' (contrast of pride and humility), 21-* 22'' 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 i3 contrasted proud, and with poor the rich who divide 
the spoil. Instead oi poor we might render by huj?ihle (RV. 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 rehgious import, = those 
who submit themselves to God, and those who disobey and disre- 
gard him. — The expression divide the spoil is taken from military 




hfe (Gen. 49-' Ex. 15^ Jos. 22* Ju. 5^" i Sam. 30 

t// 68^^^^^), or from the judicial and other civil injustices of the 

rich ; cf. 

1^3 31". 

20-25. Wisdom and graciousness. 

20. He who gives heed to the word will prosper, 
And the man that trusts in Yahweh, 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. 17-22 329 

20. Synonymous, ternary. Gives heed is acts wisely (in ref- 
erence to) ; cf. 2i'-. The word is the law of right as given by 
the sages and by God, and it is unnecessary to add of Yahweh 
(Gratz) ; see note on 13^^ ; it is not improbable that the reference 
is in part to (postexilian) legal and prophetical documents. Pros- 
per is \\\..find 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 he 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- 
cernmetit, 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 i^) is to be rendered persuasive- 
ness, as in f^, 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 i^ 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) Gratz, by change 
of text, would read agreeable, and Bickell 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.*. 
— Sweetness = graciousness, friendliness ; on discerning see note 
on i^ — 22. Antithetic, ternary. On wellspring {ox, fountain) of 
life see 10" 13^* 14^ 18*; on chastisement (the word is also ren- 
dered instruction and correction) see i^ 3" f' \f^ 2 2'\ 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 is 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.^'. On makes judicious (a different term from the discern- 
ing of v.^^) see notes on i^ lo^ ^^ 14^" 15-^ Here it is the wise 
man's mind ( = good sense or sagacity) that makes his speech 
persuasive ; in v.^' the agent is sweetness of expression; but the 
epithet judicious or sagacious favors the reading discerning (in- 
stead of agreeable) in v.^^ 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). Honeycojub, cf. \\i 19^°'"', 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.^^ ; 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 14^. 

16. On riip cf. 01s. § 173^, Ges.^^ § 75 « ; it seems probable that the form 
is here, as 01s. suggests, scribal error for r:i"i, since the latter occurs in •*; 
IL Impv. in both clauses, inserting quia; Stade takes it as Inf. abs., Bi. as 
Impv., but the |§ Infin. is more satisfactory. (5 voacnctl, = nip or \:p. — Omit 
no (probably repetition of preceding ns), which is syntactically difficult, if not 
impossible. — 17. In '^ a reviser has brought the text of (3 into accord with PJ, 
which latter is obviously correct. Bi. makes two couplets, adopting the *> and 
the <= of ®; but no great advantage is thereby gained, and the preference 
should probably be given to ^ as the shorter. — 18. On the ava^ Xey. i^t'z 
cf. Earth, Nominalhild, § 196 b. — 19. '?Dr, Infin., taken as adj. by S, which 
inserts it also before 'j?, pointed o^r". — On the relation between duj' (here 
Qeri) and a^j; (here Kethib) see critical note on 14^1. — 20. |§ -13-1 Sj', where 
S;; = according to, in respect to (cf. i/' iig^ 113-13 ^Cl^'S); Bi. 1313, after @ kv. 

— Gr. nini 13-1. In i* the Grk. Codd. vary between ^eifJ and Kvpicf), 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, Theol. Stud. u. Krit., 1893). 

— 21. @ expands '^ 3V nan into a-o<po{>s Kal a-vveroijs. — |^ jbj; (3 (pai\ovs, = 
'?3j (Jag.), whence Bi. S3J harp ; Gr. suggests nyj. ^ gives pj freely. See 
note on this v. above. — 22. Before |^ r'?;J3 insert V, with (S; it fell out by 
reason of the S of preceding Soa*. — 23. ^% vary from, but support, |§. 

— 24. (S in *>, less well, y\vKa(T \i.o. Zk avrov laffis ^vxv^, = NSID ^Dih ipHDl. — 
25. @<S2CiL here yary slightly from their renderings of 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 cl. explaining first cl.), ternary. Cf. 
Eccl. 6^ Appetite is Heb. nefesh (= sou/), that part of the nature 
which desires or craves food ; so 6'^ 23^ 27' Dt. 14-^ 23-""-'* Job 33^. 
The second cl. is lit. for his mouth 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, and drives away 7-uin ; but the perverse 
brings ruin on his own mouth; ruin is misreading of the Heb. 
word for mouth, and the last clause is the comment of a scribe. 
Syr.: the soul that inflicts sufferi?ig suffers, and from its mouth 
comes ruin, which in part follows the Greek. 

27, 30. Mischief-making. Ternary. Cf. Q^'^^, 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. Wicked man, lit. man of belial ; 
see note on 6^^. Mischief (or, misfortune') is lit. evil. The second 
cl. 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. 17^ Lit. a man 
of falsehoods, a liar ; on this term see note on 2^ ; backbiter is 
lit. murmurer, whisperer ; in the second line, lit. : separates a 
friend, probably = not alienates his friend, but, as the parallelism 
{discord) and 18^^ suggest, separates (= alienates) one friend from 
another ; on friend see 2^^ (the RV. rendering, chief friends, = 


intimate friends, is possible but unnecessary) ; Rashi : alietiates the 
prince (such is the meaning of the Heb.word in Gen. 36^^ Zech. 9"), 
that is, God ; Luther : makes prmces disagree. — 29. Extensive. 
Villain is ht. man of violence, here in general a man of immoral 
or criminal methods of procedure ; he entices his neighbor or 
comrade (as in i^"-^^) 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^'^' ". Lit. : he 
zvho 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- 
sununates, 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^^", 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 devises falsities 
And marks out all evils with his lips; 
He is a furnace of wickedness. 

XVI. 2S-33 333 

Whence Bickell : he who shuts his eyes is false, he who closes his 
ears is a furnace of wickedness. — Lit. : he who with astonished 
eyes meditates wickedness biting his lips perfects evil. — The general 
sense of the couplet is plain, but form and translation are uncertain. 
Cf. BS. 5". 

31. Righteousness gives long life. 

A hoary head is a crown of glory 
Which is gained by a righteous Ufe. 

Continuous, ternary. The second cl. is lit. in the way (= life^ 
of righteousness it is found (= come upoft, acquired). The Heb. 
hardly allows the rendering if it be foutid in, etc. (this idea is 
expressed eloquently in BS. 25*^). The assertion is that old age 
is the reward of rightdoing : righteousness, — wisdom, bestows long 
life (3^'^® al^. The possibihty that a bad man may live to be old 
is not here considered ; it is assumed that the wicked perish early 
(2" 12' 24^*^ 29^ \\i 9^^''^^ 55^"^^'*')- This conception, which is the 
prevailing one in OT. (it is opposed by Job) and in BS. (i'- 16*), 
was modified by the acceptance of the doctrine of happy immor- 
tality (WS. 4'^-^ "honorable age is not . . . measured by number 
of years "), and is not found in NT. 

32. Excellence of self-control. 

He who is slow to anger is better than a warrior, 
And he who rules himself than he who takes a city. 

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 
{(To}c})poa-vvrj) ; in OT. it is referred to only in the Wisdom books. 
Numerous parallel sayings (Chinese, Hindu, Greek, etc.) are cited 
by Malan ; see Hor., 01 2, 2. Delitzsch refers to I'irke Aboth, 
4, I, Par. Regained, 2, 4668". — The Grk. adds, after first cl., its 
rendering of second cl. of 24^ : and a man of prudence than a 
great estate. 

33. God controls men's decisions. 

The lot is cast into the lap, 

But the whole decision of it is from Yahweh. 



Implied antithesis, ternary-binary. The thought is substantially 
that of V.'- ^ : 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 if., Cic, De Divin., 2, 41 (Cicero says that edu- 
cated people of his time regarded the custom as a superstition). 
In OT. important public and private affairs are so determined 
(Ju. i'' Isa. 34" Lev. i6*'''- Jon. i^ al., cf. Acts i-*^) ; the priestly 
decision by Urim and Thummin was probably by lot (i Sam. i4''^*'^- 
28® Nu. 27-^ al.). The term lol wa.s used also as = one's part or 
portion (Ju. i^ ij/ i6'^). On lap see notes on 5^ 6" ; the reference 
here is to the garment. 

26. 1^ Say z'sy, ® dvr^p iv irSvois; but 'J is better understood as = appetite. 
— 1^ vi'b; (5 dTTciXeiai', = T'D (Hitz.); in © the line *= is gloss on ''. — The stem 
t^SN appears to signify lay on (so in Arab.),/ri?w, u7-ge, impel ; in Syr. to be 
solicitous ; for the Assyr. see De. Assyr. Hdwbuch.; in |^ Job 33" the noun 
tlDN is probably to be emended, after (§, to ^d (01s. Siegf. Budde, aL~). Sy ^dn 
is regarded by Wild, as Aramaism. Cf. BDB. — 27. On 'I'i'hz see critical note 
on 6^2, 1^ m;; Gr. suggests (but unnecessarily) tr-nn. — Between Kethib 
vnoii' and Qeri iPij'^ there is little choice. — 28. ]n: was not understood by 
the Vrss. : (5 \afj.TrT7]pa 56\ov nvpaeijcrei KaKoTs, in which X. suggests 13 (Lag.), 
and K. is interpretation; W' qitarreller, ot fiery, irascible; S empty, inane; 
iL verbose; cf. Lag. Baum. — The small final Nun is doubtless due to some 
scribal accident in the archetypal MS. (cf. Lag.). — 30. The stem rw) — com- 
press (so Syr.) or strike (so Arab.) ; see note above on this verse. Stade com- 
pares as>, 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 wijik. 
On y-\\> see notes on 6i^ ioi°, and cf ^ 35^®. The sense gnaw, bite, found in 
Ass. (De. PVbch.) suits the connection (flips') ; cf. i-n-LdaKvuv below, and the 
connection of y-\p in Arab. Aram, with slander. — In © irdpra rd /ca/cd is 
doublet of oCtos Kdfiivds eariv /ca/c/as, but which is the earlier is uncertain; 
Bi. adopts Kdnivos KaKias, — n>-\ 13. Instead of the opt^ei of <@^, = n?3 
(©■•^ opyi^ei, perh. scribal error, perh. — '\'sp), a number of Codd. (23. 106. 
109. 147. 149. 157. 252. 260. 295, 297) have eiriSaKVwv gnawing, adding, how- 
ever, bpi^ei. before irdvTa, and e. is probably the original (g reading (Lag.).— 
On S see Pink. — For ^ip Gr. reads Tpp, a possible but unnecessary emenda- 
tion. — 33. Si':in ns' after passive verb (so Gen. 4^^ al.); 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. ^6 § 121 b. — 



XVI. 33-xvii. 2 335 

(S, having rendered moCD Sd by -n-avra to. dUaia, assimilates » to •> by writing 
wdvTa Tots clSIkols, Snj being left untranslated. 

XVn. 1. Desirableness of a quiet life. 

Better a dry morsel and quietness therewith 
Than a house full of feasting and strife. 

Antithetic comparison, ternary — the value of a quiet life. Cf. 
15^® '' 25-^. The word here rendered feasting is lit, sacrifices ; 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. 
gi2. 13 20*^-^. The ordinary term for 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 (Dt. 12^' ^^), The old term for the 
ritual slaying of beasts is, however, sometimes used to express 
private slaying (Dt. 12^^ Ez. 39^' Isa. 34^), and thus comes to 
denote feastitig (so RV. ; AV. marg. good cheer-) ; this word suffi- 
ciently expresses the contrast of the meagre dry 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 7". 

2. Cleverness succeeds. 

A wise slave will rule over a profligate son, 
And will share the inheritance among brethren. 

Continuous sentence, quaternary (or, ternary). Wise = one who 
acts with sagacity, a clever, capable person ; moral excellence is 
not expressed, but is possibly to be understood. Frofiigate = one 
who acts shamefully, in such a way as to bring disgrace on himself 
and his family (see 10^ 12* 14^) • Share is lit. divide. 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'^ (RV. 


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^^ Dt. 5'* i2'2-i8 16^'"") ; in the later law 
(Gen. 17'-) the slave is required to be circumcised, though this 
rule is relaxed in the Talmud {Yebam. 48 b). Abraham (Gen. 
15^) speaks of his homeborn slave Eliezer as his heir; a man 
sometimes gave his daughter in marriage to his slave (i Chr. 2^), 
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 30^).* In regard to the value set on sons com- 
pare what is said in Ben-Sira (16'') and Wisdom (4') of the unde- 
sirableness of bad children. — For the idea cf. BS. 10^. 

3. God the judge of character. 

The fining-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^ Jer. 6^^ Ez. 22'^"-^ Mai. ■^ ; the figura- 
tive use is found in Isa. 48'" "A i?^ 66^° 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-^! 

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, Alterthumer , p. 240; Nowack, Arch., \ 29. 

t See art. Refining in Smith, Diet, of Bib.; Now., Arch., ^43. 4; Rawlinson, 
Phoenicia, p. 317. 

XVII. 2-6 337 

Identical thought with variation of terms, ternary. Words and 
talk are lit. /// and tongue ; wicked words is lit. /// of wickedness 
{Hob. aweti) — the defining noun is employed in 6^'-^^ lo-^ ii" 
12-^ al., and in OT. the majority of its occurrences are in Job, Ps. 
Prov. ; mischievous talk is lit. tofigue of injury (or, destruction) ; 
for a false man the Heb. text has falsity, hardly abstract for con- 
crete, rather the text must be corrected; false is to be taken in 
the sense oi false {or, faithless) 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 ivhen one gives heed, ^.tc, 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.''. The first cl. is a variation of 
14^^% 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. BS. 4^. 
— Grk. adds : and he who is compassionate will find mercy, 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 cl., 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^^- " 4^ Originally this 
desire for children was connected with the beUef 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^®, but the form is Greek, and we 
must suppose that a Greek-speaking scribe has inserted the lines 
in this place (or after v.^) as a familiar saying, or from a current 
written collection of aphorisms. 

7. Let fools be false, and good men true. 

Honest words do not beconne 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 17-^ 30^^) is a contemptuous 
and opprobrious term involving lack of intellectual and moral in- 
sight and weight (i Sam. 25-^ 2 Sam. 3^ Job 2'° <// 14^) ; the con- 
trasted word in second cl. {nadib) elsewhere in Pr., except 17^, 

XVII. 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, \\\t\\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, diffuseness) is here appropriate ; in Gen. 49^ the 
meaning suggested by the connection is excelleficy 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 Eccl. (2'^ 7^ al.). There appears to be no authority for 
the meanings elevated, noble (Ew.) 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 Hes 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. : verba 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 
may be got by a slight change of text. 

XVII. 1. As na; is rarely used of private slaughter of animals, Dys., not 
without probability, proposes to read ^na-J here, as in 9^; the Vrss. had the 
word of f§. — 6* \i.i& ii8ovrjs probably = r\2y (see ^ 20I') for |^ n^nn (Jag.), 


but may be interpretation of |§ ; in *> instead of the woWQv of B we should per- 
haps read ir\-fipri$ with nAC, and dyadCov Kal ddUwu are expansion, dd. being 
possibly scribal variation of /xera /udx'??. — 2. |§ Z'lr: ]z; (§ oecnroTCiv d(pp6- 
viov, apparently = 'a '?;!a; Bi., comparing BS. lo''^^ (^iXevdepoi), reads mnD, but 
this is hardly probable. — In '^ (5 has free rendering of |i? ; in "^ for pa stands 
eKXeKTal (n* eKX^yerai), from "^nj. Instead of Kvpiw (3^ has 0(3 (9e(p). — 

4. 1^ J.'"]a is Hif. Partcp. of j,'>'-i; we therefore expect a corresponding con- 
crete form in '', and may, with Gr., read ip^'D (of. i S. 15-®) instead of ■^pi'; 
f;;j is for pxr; both this verb and aajpn are commonly and properly followed 
by "^x, and so we should probably here read instead of '-■;. — For an extraordi- 
nary translation of this couplet see Schultens. — (g^'ABai. SiKatos 5i ov wpoa- 
4xei, probably scribal alteration to gain an antithesis; |^ is followed in 
(Qm. 161. 248. Compi._ — On a couplet here added in ©^ ai. gee note on v.". — 

5. ?§ I'N; (& dTToXXuyn^vy, perh. = i3N (Lag.). — After misfortune STiL add, 
as interpretation, of another. — 6. On the couplet added in (H see note on this 
proverb above, and cf. notes of Lag. and Baumgartner. — 7. In '^ (S iriaTd 
may be free rendering of |ij -\.~i to gain a contrast with the ipevdfj of ^; but 
it is possibly error of Grk. scribe for irepicrffa (Grabe, Lag.); in ^ SiKal<{) 
(representing |^ aij) may be miswriting of diKaffrrj or dvvdffTrj (Jag.), or, the 
Heb. may have been read pis, but (S may be free translation of ^. — •y^;' 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. 
Ileb,) and South Sem. (Arab. Eth.); in all these dialects, except Ass. (so 
far as reported in De. Wbch.) the noun also means string — whether this sense 
is related to the other is uncertain. The word should here probably be 
emended to -\v\ 

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, = /^r/<^^, as in Ex. 23* (= Dt. 
16^^) Isa. i^ \p 15^ The possessor (or, owjier') 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® 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. S-9 341 

eraily 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 Frankenberg's interpretation of 
stone of favor z.'s, = ■a. stone that brings favor, a lucky stone or 
magic stone. The Heb. expression does not occur in this sense 
elsewhere in OT., but the Israelites had amulets (Ez. 13^^), 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 the estimation of, suits the bribed better than the briber, 
though it may be understood of the latter ; the reading in the 
hands ^ 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 saine : 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. iS^ Isa. 52^^, and cf. Pr. 
jq5.i9 j^35 jg24 jg2o j y2 ^ ^14 ^^vi ^ -pj-jg g^gg statcs, without com- 

ment, a fact of experience : bribery is a potent means of success. 
It is forbidden in Ex. 23^ al. 

9. Forbearance promotes friendship. 

He who covers up transgression seeks love, 
He who harps on a matter alienates his friend. 

Antithetic, ternary. Similar reflections are found in 10^ 16^''. 
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 ahenates 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 10^^), 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 10^^ the 
point of view is different — hatred and love are the subjects. — 
On frietid see notes on 2^^ i6-*; on alienates {— separates) notes 
on i6-« i8^«, 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 Ht. descends; Hitzig com- 
pares Sallust, Jug. 1 1 : altius in pectus descendit. 

11. Rebellion is dangerous. 

A < rebel > seek to do mischief, 

But a terrible messenger is sent to him. 

Continuous sentence, ternary (as the text stands). The first cl. 
reads hterally : rebellio7i 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 tiie 
statement (De. Siegfried al.) that the abstract rebellion is used for 
the concrete rebellious (in Ez. 2' 44^ we should read, with Grk., 
house of rebellion). Grk. (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- 

XVII. 9-12 343 

iless angel (or, messenger^, that is, some frightful misfortune 
(storm, pestilence, or the Uke). This sense is, however, here im- 
probable — if Yahweh 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. Rebelliotis, 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 23'"^, 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 Ezekiel, who (Ez. 
17) denounces Zedekiah for his rebellion against the King of 
Babylon, or to the fifth or fourth century B.C., when the Jews were 
accused (Neh. 6^^) of wishing to make themselves independent 
of Persia, or when (according to Euseb. 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 rebeUions were rife 
in the various provinces into which Alexander's empire was di- 
vided. — The emendation : the king will send 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^ 11^^ 12'^ Jer. 6^ 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. 17* 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. 

Whoso 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. 2y^'-'^. 

8. f^ ^^u^^ jn jdn, for which (@ has fxia-dbs X'^P^^'^" TraiSeia; Lag., with 
probability, emends to a-rad/xos for /x., and iirldocns for tt.; ST, inverting, ndd 
NiD.i NnriU'i; & misunderstands; 3L gemma gratissima expectatio praesto- 
lantis. — 9. |§ nji* repeat (with 3 introducing the thing in which the repeti- 
tion occurs) gives a good sense; Gr. emends to nr^' errs, and Winckler to 
^^^^l•l'^^ Teports, a meaning which occurs in Ass. (De. IVhch.') but not in Heb. — 
d /xicrei Kpinrreiv, in which fx. — sj^' (and so ST), and k. may be rendering of 
1 n understood as = the idea contained in the ."ic^r; of" (Lag.). On S, which 
is based on (5, see Pinkuss. — 10. In |§ rr^-^^ (from rnj) the first rad. is assimi- 
lated, and the tone, for rhythmical reasons, is retracted; the assimilation occurs 
also in Jer. 2ii3 Job 2ii3, but not in f 3S3; cf. 01s. § 237 a, Ges.2° § 66/ The 
stem is perhaps Aramaic. — (S in " has free rendering of |§ ; in *> it seems to 
have read D.s'3 '?D3 rrna (Jag. Lag.) or to have taken T^nr\ from nnn (^crwrpl- 
/3et), a reading which Frank, adopts; the derivation from pnj seems more 
appropriate. C expands |!f; S follows (g; IL = ?^. — 11. ||J IN (wanting in 
<5S9r, in % rendered by semper') taken either as = only or as = certainly, is 
inapposite, and the abstract no (read n^io in (§1L) is here very improbable, if 
not impossible; read no a-N (as SSE have it). — After n'?j' the Prep. 3 seems 
properly to introduce the object which one stretches out the hand to grasp ; 
we should here perh. read i*^ or v'^vV. — Before "-\ Bi., following ®, inserts ^2; 
for 1^ -|N^o Gr. reads iSno (so 6'^), but the difference is not important; Dys., 
more probably, i^c and n'-'-i;'\ — 12. For the Heb. of (§'' Jag. suggests "ij'n 
Syq i:'N3 hdnt; in ^ (g read Ss' instead of '^x : to a fool is folly. 5» in * follows 
®, only doubling the subject {^care and fear), in '' = |£j, with 'r'x for '?.x. %va.'^ 
mingles J§ and S, in *>, reading Ss, interprets |^. 11 = 1^. 

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 ren- 
dered getting wrought up (or, quarrelling^ occurs elsewhere in OT. 

XVII. 13-15 345 

only in i8' 20', on which see notes.* The reference in the first 
line of our Heb. text seems to be to making a small aperture in a 
dam 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 flow of water stronger. This construction 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 
oi water, whence we have : outpouring of words is the beginnifig 
of strife, a warning against thoughtless talk, as in 10^^ 17-^ — 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 15^ 16^*) — perhaps (omitting the leave off) : 
before conflict goes quarrelling, a progression in the thought. 
Either 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 
a2:ainst 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, serviUty to governors, or a bribe. The Heb. of 
first cl. contains an assonance that cannot well be imitated in 
modern English, somewhat as he who rights the wrong and he 
who wrongs the right (the verb right as in Shakspere, Rich. III. 
I, 3). The rendering of RV., justifies (that \?,, pronoutices fust), 
now conveys a wrong impression, one too distinctly ethical, and 
acquits 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 /^.y/V/v has passed into NT. (Rom. f, etc.). Wicked is 

* Schult. De. al. take it (from Arab, and Syr.) to mean show the teeth (in sign 
of anger), whence quarrel; according to others (Siegfried al.) it means break 
forth (in a hostile way). 


he whose cause is bad, righteous he whose cause is good. On 
abomination see note on 3^^. For the idea of the couplet cf. Ex. 
23^ Dt. 25' Isa. s^'^ I K. 8-^- Job 34^^ i// 94-^ Pr. 24^". 

16. Wisdom is beyond the fool's reach. 

If the fool has money to buy wisdom, 

What boots it, since he has no mmd? « 

Question, really prose, but arranged in ternary form. Lit. why 
(or, of 7v hat avail) is there a price in the fooPs hand to buy wis- 
dom, and intelleci (lit. heart) there is none ? Grk. : ivhy 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 (vow)"; 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.^"^ and v.^. 

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 i/^ 35", cf 2 Sam. i-^) 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. Reuss, Kamp. RV. 
marg. al.) adopt the rendering atid is born as a brother for (or, 

XVII. I5-I8 347 

in) adversity, that is, the true friend, in time of trial, is, as it were, 
bom anew into blood-kinship and assumes the role of brother. 
This translation gives substantially the same sense as the other, 
identifying //-/,f«r/ and brother in respect of faithfulness, but is less 
natural, and less exact. — Some interpret the second Hne 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 (i8^^ 19") 
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. 
gi4-iG 2323^ 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 sisier is used as 
= dear frie fid (7* Cant. 4^ aL). 

18. Folly of going security. 

Void of sense is he who pledges himself, 
Who becomes security to another. 

Identity of predicates, quaternary or ternary. Pledges himself is 
lit. strikes hands ; on the expression see notes on 6^ II^^ The 
another refers to the creditor. To atiother is lit. in the presence 
of his neighbor. Grk. : for his own friends, with the same gen- 
eral sense. Similar warnings are given in 6^^ ii^'^ 20'" 22^® 27^^ 
BS. 29^^'-^'. 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. 

19. He loves i wounds' who loves strife, 

He who i 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 tnakcs 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 7nouth, — speaks lof- 
tily, haughtily ; cf, the similar expression sj>eak loftily in i Sam. 2^t 
— The parallelism involves the idea that proud words occasion 
strife, and strife is always injurious, often destructive. Cf. 1 1" 
i8^^ 20^ 29-^. — 20. Synonymous, binary-ternary. \JX. he who is 
false in heart (= mind, inward being) and he tvho is false in 
tongue ; on the first of these terms for false see note on 2'^ — 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. 

He 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'd) 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 17' 30--, and less than 
twenty times in the whole OT.) commonly, outside of Pr., relates 
to rehgious 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 10^) adds: but a wise 

* The Grk. has : loho tnakes his house high. 

t Aben Ezra, Schult. al. interpret door as = mouth, but this is an improbable 

XVII. 19-22 349 

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, 
But a broken spirit dries up the bones. 

Antithetic, quaternary (or, binary). Cf. 15'^, to first cl. of which 
our first cl. is conformed by some critics ; but the variation of the 
Heb. seems more probable. On heart and spirit see notes on 2^ 
and 11'^; 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 healing (or, recovery). The bones, as skeleton, repre- 
sent the whole body ; they may be vigorous, fat, full of marrow 
(3^ j^3o jg24 isa. 58"), or feeble, rotten, eaten by caries (12* 14^ 
^ 21^"^"^ Job 30^") ; in this verse the dryness 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. nao or imd is better than f^ Tjb (so Gr.). — On the stem y'^J see Schult. 
Ges. Thes. BDB. From Arab, it appears to signify tincover, disclose (= Heb. 
nSj), then show the teeth, quarrel, rage ; the last-named meaning suits the use 
of the Hith. in Pr.; Gr. (after Nidda, viii. 2) takes it as = burst forth (so also 
Siegf.); Heb. n*?;, Syr. y'?.), Arab, jfi, seem to be different stems. Frank., 
in opposition to the rendering before there be conflict, says that 'JoS is never 
used in dehortation, but always introduces something that actually precedes; 
yet cf. Gen. z'f \ib ''jsS. — (5 is partly corrupt, partly based on a different 
Heb. text from ours : f^ovalav SLSwctlv perh. = tjd gives free course (but Jag. 
refers to 1/' 22^) ; X67ots = 0"'C (instead of C'c) ; 5iKaiO(Tijvr]s is perh. for 5ia5t- 
Kafflas and evSelas for dvaideias (y^J.-in) (Jag.). — S read DHt for u'C, and 
perh. 3i]n for •;^:irin (Baum.) ; ^T appears to expand & (cf. Pinkuss); IL" ei 
anteqtiam patiatiir contumeliam (perh. = before he is stripped^ judicitim dese- 
rit. — 16. On tne arrangement of lines in @ see note on v.^^ below. — 17. To 
take mv^ as = in adversity is perh. possible, but is here hardly natural. — In "^ 
(5 has a doublet, the second member of which is abridged; or this second line 


may be an interpretative gloss, f^ y^^ was, according to Jag., understood by 
@ as Hif. Impv. of r\-;-) make thee a friend. — 18. (@iL take ^d '!^>r' as a gesture 
of joy. — '% v-i^p ijdS; Gr., retaining sense of J^, -i j;::'?; Bi., after @ (rwi' 
eauroO (pLXwv) '7'o'^, making the reference general — the nature of the warning 
is not thereby affected. — 19. |§ j-'-'o; Gr, yxij, which is preferable. — In <3 
the order of lines differs from that of |^ : after v.^^ come v.^^'' and a modified 
form of vP, then v.i' (with doublet). i8. i9a. 20. the change is due to an error of a 
Grk. scribe. — ^ ^nrs; IS top eavrov oIkov, = 1.-15 or in.-i3, a good sense, but 
not preferable to that of J§. It is better, however, with Frank., to read "D; cf. 
the combination of naj with -i;-, i Sam. 2^. — 21. |^ -i*^'-; (@ KapSia, = 2^. 
here inapposite and against the parallelism ; it is perh. induced by the k. of 
v.^^. — 22. ^ .11) is most naturally connected with the verb of Hos. 5^3, and 
so, = healiug. The similarity to 15^^ has suggested the sense face, for which, 
however, there is no authority (see Arab, nnj and nji). The primitive signifi- 
cation of the stem is uncertain; cf. Syr. >snj, flee, withdraw (whence perhaps 
our noun, = cessation, betterment), and see notes of De. Now., and the lexi- 
cons. @ eveKTeiv; ^^ read n>u body, and Dys. Gr. emend to nu. 

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 6^ 16^ ; 
on bribe (lit. gift) see v.^ above, and on the power of gifts cf. 
21". 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. in 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^ 17^° 2^) is he who compre- 


XVII. 23-26 35? 

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 (Heb. kesil, see v.^^), 
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. «/.) is improbable — 
the fool is not represented in Pr. as seeking wisdom except in the 
moment of final deadly peril (i"*), 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 eiids of the earth see Jer. 25^ Dt. 28^ \\i 135" 
Mt. 1 2*^ al. ; 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 10^ 15"*' 17^^ Fool 
{kestl) as in v.^'-^*. — Delitzsch makes 17-^-18^ a separate section 
on the ground that it begins and ends with the same thoughts 
which open and close the preceding passage, 1 7"^"-^ ; 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 Heb. is clear : 

Also to fine the righteous is not good. 

The word also (= intensive atid), 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 Hne 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 even 
(Kamphausen : already) is, for the same reason, improper. — 
Fine (usually employed of a pecuniary mulct, Dt. 22^^* a/.) may 
= more generally punish (as in 22^). Not good = not p}-oper. — 
The second line may be rendered : To smite the 7ioble for upright- 


ness (RV.), or : . . . against 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 "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 paralleHsm of predicates in the clauses. 
Kamphausen changes the text and renders : to smite the noble is 
so in high degree (that is, is emphatically 7iot good), but the trans- 
lation is doubtfiil, 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 nobletnan, prince 
(8^^ 2^ Job 12^^ \\i 1 1 8^ al.), or willing, freehearted (Ex. 35^), but 
also, apparently, inorally noble: thus in v.^ 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 ijiini) 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 pervert 
justice. Cf. 18^, which appears to be a variation of this couplet, 
and after it our line might be read : to oppj-ess the upright in 

27, 28. Value of silence. — Identical, quaternary-ternary (or, 


27. He 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. 10". First cl. lit. . . . knoivs knowledge; cf. /!^,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. 26-28 353 

speaking; the 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 cool. — The ancient Heb. editors (in the Ma- 
sora) read, in second cL, he who is precious (= costly, dear, rare) 
of spirit, which is interpreted by Rashi (perhaps guided by first 
cl.) to mean he who is sparing of words, by others of worthy bear- 
ing (Saadia) ox character (Schult. AV.). The two last render- 
ings are tautological (cf. De.) ; the translation cool (which is 
generally adopted by recent expositors) seems satisfactory ; Grk. 
longanimous ; Targ. humble. — Wise, Ut. a ffian 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 Lag.'s attempt to explain the word- 
ing, and Baum.'s criticism of Lag. — Ss he who receives bribes is wicked, and per- 
verts the way of justice, less probable than |^. — 24. ||J ^JO rx alongside of, in 
front of; Gr. emends improperly to <jd "^n toivard. Before jpa Bi. inserts u\s, 
unnecessarily; sense and rhythm in |§ are good. In (SSST tn is not ren- 
dered. — With @i03. 147.253 the Qrif. text is better read vpoffuiirov ffweroO dvdpbs 
<ro<pbv, (5^ giving no sense (Lag.). The pn rejoice of (El^^s must be emended, 
after S, to p^n look, as in the Breslau Codex (Pink.). — 26. Omit aj as mean- 
ingless ( f note on v.^s belov/) . The S before p-ii- is improbable, since E'jj; is 
elsewhere followed by noun without Prep, (see 21II); we should perh. read 
t-yi^ (see the "^ in i') ; the insertion of the Prep, before the noun may be error 
of eye, or may be due to an Aramaic-speaking scribe. — |^ T-rp; better ncsnS 
(Frank.) . For 1^1 cf Arab. 3ij active, excellent ( — physically or morally good), 
and Eth. aij": exposed to peril {= pressed on) ; the stem perhaps = ?nove on, 
press forzuard. — |^ lU'i I'^jr affords no satisfactory sense; read t^'^ ^5 (Gr.), as 
@ ov^k 6(riov (Dys. lU" iSa) ; the emendation -\-2\ '•Sy superabundantly (Kamp.) 
does not accord with the context. S® who say what is right ; IL ^td recta 
judicat. — 'SSt. K ipi; Q -\?\ The latter is followed freely by (g^TIL and the 
medieval Jewish interpreters, the former by S- — 28. |^ 2J introduces a con- 
trast between the "^in and the naturally suggested n^n (in v.^o there is no 
such natural suggestion of contrast between pis and >"'"\). — (5 avoT]T^^ eirepw- 
r-f)(yavTi (:;n-i::) crotpLav <70(j>La (p::2r\) 'Koyiffdriaerai, an improbable reading. 
On the unimportant couplet added in (g 8. 16I to v.2', and apparently a free 
variation of v.-^a, see Lag. — S repeats arnnn in ^. 



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 occasioti, gnashes his teeth against all that is ben- 
eficial [to others]. It seems impossible to get a sati3factory 
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. al. For the views of the early commentators see Crit- 
ici 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) : A retired man pursiteth 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. 

xwii. 1-3 355 

Antithetic, ternary. On fool {kes'il) see notes on i^^ 17". Sound 
sense is comprehension and the conduct which follows therefrom ; 
see note on 2-. The second cl. is lit. but in his mind's \_heari'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. 

When < 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, cojnes also contempt, a7id 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 11^ {co7Jies pride, then comes 
disgrace). — Of the three other nouns of our Heb. the first and 
third are active (expressing one's feehng 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 paralleHsm (the 
scorn of second cl. is directed toward the bad man), and by such 
proverbs as 11^. — The second cl. in our Heb. affords no satisfac- 
tory sense. Disgrace cannot be taken (Zockler) as = shameful 
conduct (synonymous with tuickedness) . 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,t following 
the Grk., 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. J : and with him 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 

* Strack, al. f With Fleischer. J Gratz, Bickell. 


(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 scor?i 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* ■^ 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 jnan's mouth are deep 
waters, a floiving brook, a wellspring of wisdofn. This unre- 
stricted statement does not accord with the thought of Prov., in 
which no such excellence is ascribed to men in general (in 12" 
the text is to be changed) ; nor can we take ma?i 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 
tvaters [that is, of a cistern, which is exhaustible], the wellspring, 
etc., is a flowing [or, bubblijig, = 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 hke that of our first cl. 
is found in 20', 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 ivellsprijig. 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 (cf. 13'* 16-^), but then the wisdom of second cl. will not 

XVIII. 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 \.txvi\ fountam (Heb. maqor), when it is used meta- 
phorically, always occurs elsewhere in connection with the idea of 
"life" (5^^ lo'i i3» 14-' 16" Jer. 2^^ if' if; 36^(^0' 68-«'-'0, and the 
definition /(fe here suits the context better than wisdom. 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 10". But the usage of Prov. must be allowed to have 
weight, and we should perhaps read the couplet : The words of 
the wise are deep waters, a flowing brook, a perennial fountain, 
that is, an inexhaustible source of counsel and blessing. — On 
word diS equivalent to thought 'ate note on 10". 

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, = 17'^® (cf. 17^^) ; guilty and innocent diXe. 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* 2^ Job 13* \p 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. turit 
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 thou inayest decline from 
the truth of justice (reading truth or righteousness instead oi right- 
eous). Grk. (expressing the implied adjective) : nor is it holy to 
pervert justice in judgment. Cf. i K. 21*"^^ Am. 5^^ Isa. i^ Jer. 
22^ Ez. 22^ al. 

XVIII. 1. |§ msn; (5 Trpo^do-eu, = n:{<n, as in Ju. 14* (Capp. Crit. Sac. 4, 
5, 13), which should, perhaps, be adopted; cf. 2 K. 5''. Possibly pnj slanderer 
should be read instead of tidj; cf. 16"^^; the "^ of f^ appears to be taken by @ 



as sign of Ace. — f§ rr'B'in .^33; ® iv iravrl Kaipi?, perh. free rendering of ?§; 
on '.-1 see Lag on this passage. — |^ PJ"''; (& iwoveldLcrTOi, =^';^ri'' or j;'*?."^ 
(Capp. 4, 7, 3). — On Si and ST see notes of Pink, and Baum. — 2. (3 dyerai 
(supplied by the translator) is apparently scribal error for dyarai (Jag.), and 
dtppocrvvri is interpretation of ^ ■3'? P7JPn, or perh. (Gr. Baum.) represents 
ri'7^n (which, however, it does not represent in Eccl. lo^^). — 3. ^ ■;t-\ and 
pp; read yri and pt. — 12, pp, n;3-in, are general terms for contempt, which 
is naturally often expressed by words, sometimes also by deeds; see 12^6*^ 
335 ^ 83!^ 633 ju. 5IS, Bi. (and so Gr. doubtfully) reads r-vi. — (5 €ts ^ddos 
is ingeniously explained by Jag. as = rno inio the pool (for |§ CJ n3), but it 
is doubtful whether ^ddos would be used for din, a word which <3 elsewhere 
in OT. perfectly understands; one might rather think of pi:-;; cf. I3a.di/ in v.*, 
1^ ^-'^v. — 4. For ^'x ^0 read :;n (Gr. njp.-i c.n-), and for rrrsn read D;n (so (@ 
and several Heb. MSS.). — (§ X670S ev Kapoiq. dvopbs, = Z'i< i'?^ "i^-", in which 
373 appears to have arisen out of ||J di3 (in "3 "i3i), the "\ and □ becoming 7 
and 3 (Lag.). — @ d^/aTTTySi/et Lag. regards as error for dvairidvei.. 

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^-^^ 19^ 20^ Lit. come into strife, % 
= lead, etc. ; or a slight change of the Heb. will give lead (so 
the Grk.). Brings 071 him is lit. calls for. The fool's thoughtless 
or mahcious words involve him in disputes (legal or other), which, 
since he is in the wrong, entail punishment. — 7. Identical, bi- 
nary-ternary. Cf. 12^^ 13* 17^^ 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^". 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, blows [AV. 
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 words are soft (or, reserved^, nevertheless they penetrate 
(lit. go doiuti) \ it is the quality of sweetness in the words that 
makes them acceptable. The Heb. has lit. in second cl. go dowti 
into 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 7^. 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. 

He 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^" 10* 12^^ 15^^ 20^^^ 21^ 24^''^ 
26^3-16 (cf. BS. 2 2^-2 4o2»^«). Brothers "one of similar nature" 
(so companion in 28-*). Him who destroys is lit. a possessor 
{= a dealer) of destructiofi ; 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. 1^ Qal "1X3"; (SST Hif. in2% unnecessary. — |^ niD'7ncS; © to dpa(jb 
davarov; the last word seems to represent the three last letters of |^ (Jag-)> 
the rest is doubtful : Jag. suggests that (§ out of n^S made Ty::h (comparing 
gia 20^), Baum. suggests n-iin (9^8 yy^^ . . . dpa<Te1a), and Levy (^Chald. 
Wort., s.v. N.-nn) in:;'^ (out of ^r\-z^) ; the reading ncnn is the most probable. 
— 8. On jnj see note on \iy^. — ?§ ncn'^nn (found only here and in the 
duplicate couplet 26--) has been variously explained: i. (5 (in 26-^) fxaXaKol 
(which elsewhere in © = -\-\) ; cf. pSn 28-^ flatter i7ig (so Kimhi, Geier), and 
Arab. TT.Tt> soft (Ew. compares a>:), or (Frank.) Aram, n'^n sweet ; possibly 
2 (26^2) iv irapipytfi subordinate, incidental is here to be included, in the 
sense oi feigned, but see below under sport. 2. Whisper, tnurmur (= t'rh); 
'A (26'^) yoT)TiKoL jugglers,- Ew. suggests comparison with Aram, cyi as 


possible, = murmur, as expressing either the transient or the insinuating 
character of words. 3. 9C px"' disttirb, vex (and so substantially ^), as = oVn 
strike ; so Immanuel (in Reuchlin), Rashi ivounds (cf. Z'", Heb, and Arab.) 
or (26^2) combatants, Luther, AV. (see text and margin), Levi, Vatablus those 
ruho feign themselves tvounded. Similar is 2C pi (262-) strike down, perh. scribal 
variation of px-i (cf. Levy). 4. S in &^ P''C."', = aKipaioi (Middeldorpf fi/co- 
Kot), IL simplicia, (26"^"-^) i^airXovfiei'oi, perh. free rendering of (@i, perh. error 
of text. 5. Sport, play, taking an*? as = n.T?; so Saad. Mich. Zock. 6. Hidden 
(Aben Ezra), perh. with reference to Arab, zrh, IV, or connected with whisper. 
7. Burning (Ew.) = destructive (like poison), taking an*? as = jnV. — The 
comparison with Arab. nnS swallow with avidity 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. ?^ o, 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". The superstitious notions which were 

•See Spencer, Social., I. 263; Jevons, Introd. to Hist, of Rel., pp. 245, 361; 
Brinton, Rel. of Prim. Peoples, pp. 92 f. 

XVIII. IO-I3 36i 

later attached to the " tetragrammaton " are unknown to the OT.* 
Cf. Ex. 3". — Is safe, lit. is set on high or in a high place, where 
he is safe from the attacks of enemies. The proverb affirms gen- 
erally that God protects the righteous ; it says nothing of the 
means employed. Q,i.\\i2f. — 11. Parallel comparisons, quater- 
nary-ternary. Estimation, lit. picture, then, apparently, imagina- 
tion, thought; cf. \\i 73^, and note on Pr. 25". 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 impUed ; cf. 10^^, 
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.^"-" it 
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." stood originally, no doubt, as a simple record ol 

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^^ The second cl. 
occurs in 15^. — 13. Single sentence, ternary. Hears = '^ gw^s 
attention to" ; shame = '-'disgrace." Cf. BS. 11*, Pirk. Ab. 5, 7. 

14, 15. Value of courage and wisdom. 

14. The spirit of a man sustains misfortune, 
But a broken spirit who can bear? 

15. The mind of the intelligent acquires knowledge, 
The ear of the wise seeks after knowledge. 

* See Buxt. Lex. s. v. uh£3 and "'nioc ar. In Lev. 2411- 16 "the Name" should 
be read " the name of Yahweh " ; the " Yahweh " was omitted causa reverentiae by 
late scribes. 


14. Implicit antithesis, ternary, = " an unimpaired spirit is strong, 
a broken spirit is weak." Frankenberg, in first cl., not so well: 
He who soothes a ?na?i sustains ( = controls) his anger. Spirit is 
the inner being thought of as the seat of vigor and courage (as in 
Eng. spirited) ; broken = stricken, crushed. Sustain and bear are 
here synonyms; the rendering raise up (RV. marg.), instead of 
dear {— endure), is here improbable. Misfortu?ie is lit. sickness 
(RV. itifirmity), 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 parallehsm, 
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 1^) 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 ivise. 

16-18. Legal and other contests. 

16. 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. 

18. 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 Hberal man benevolently dispenses (19®), thereby gaining 
friendsjt 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. t De. Str. al. 

XVIII. 14-19 363 

aid, and he thus has room, a free field, access (as in second line) 
to the presence of the patron. Cf. 17^ The custom of making 
such presents to the great, common in Israel and elsewhere, was 
notably prevalent in the Greek 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 ; plea, lit. lawsuit (RV. cause) ; 
the other, lit. his neighbor, the other party to the suit ; tests him, 
lit. searches hifn, examines his argument, and presents the other 
side. The first cl. may be translated he who is first in his plea 
{KY. pleadeth 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 alteram partem. — 
18. Synonymous, ternary-binary. On the employment of the lot 
among the Israelites see note on 16"'^. 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 God, 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 De. Reuss, al. t Rashi, RV. al. + E\v. Zock. al. 


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. lo^'^), and should read: the rich itiaii'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 tvellfoicnded 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. 16^ i K. 4^^ Isa. 45^ Neh. f, and cf. 
Nowack, Arch. i. 142, 368 ff. 

10. (5 eK fxeyaXojo-vvTis, = ^y:: (Jag.)- — H- 1^ ~?"^'? (cf- 25") apparently 
= "something graved or fashioned"; the meaning of the stem is uncertain. 
Frank, suggests v-'Ji or ydd:, which is, perhaps, to be adopted. — 12. J§ w'n 
need not be omitted in the interests of the rhythm, since rx 3^ may be 
pronounced as one word. — 14. ^ \'!?i]"^> ® depdwuv (ppdi/ifxos, aiCcordmg to 
Jag., = n-ina (cf. 19^) one who carefully aitettds to him (see Lag.'s note), 
which Frank, adopts, rendering : wer ihn schmeichelnd bes'dnftigt, and taking 
m as = anger, but the resulting line does not offer a good antithesis to second 
line. — pj nxDj m; "^L spiritum ad irascendtim facilem. — 17. K xb'; Q n31. 
Either reading gives a good sense, but a connective is natural, and we should 
perh. write n3''i; a i may have fallen out by reason of preceding i. — (5 eofTou 
KaT-fiyopos, — 12-1:: (i Sam. 2^'>) or ot (Isa. 45^). — 18. pj ^-(yri; (gABx ffi-y-,)- 
p6s {= (nyrjXds) a silent man; better kXtjpos, as in (gsc a. marg. ^H ^j — 
1^ DDXP; Gr. suggests ta: or Dxp contestants. — 19. |§ j.'U'SJ ns; & (followed 
by S^IL) d.de\4>bi vwb d5eX0oO ^OTjdorj/xevos, = J.'rj ns, improbable in the con- 
nection. The isolated yi:'Dj is suspicious; the Nif. occurs only here, and the 
Qal is always followed by 3 or "?>•; De. compares icp = ^h-; Dcp, 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^ v; n''ip::, though syntactically possible, is hard; 
the substitution of d for a is favored by ^ and by (SS^TIL- — On K anc, 
Q amc see critical note on 6^*. — 1§ Ib^x m3D; @, inverting order, ucrirep 
TeOefj-iKiuiixivov ^acriXeiop as a firmly founded palace ; for t. (ABn a/.) Lag. 
would read p.inoy\e\ip.hov {^^ 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. 19-22 3^5 

20. Synonymous, ternary (or, quaternary- ternary). The thought 
is that of 12" 13'^ on which see notes — a man must take the 
consequences of his words, which are here regarded as expressing 
his thought and nature. \a\.. from the fruit of a man's moiith his 
belly is filled, the outcome (or, product) of his lips fills him. Fill 
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 3^". — 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 a^-e fond of using it, but the verb 
is not natural, and the text is perhaps wrong. Grk. they who co?i- 
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 it 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 favor 
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 : tnay congratulate 


himself, it is a favor from God. On the sentiment and on the 
meaning of good (= capable) as used of a wife see 12* 19" ^{^^^^ 
BS. 7^^ 258 26i-«-^3-"-^«-^ 40=^ (read prude?ii wife) ■ cf. 5^« Gen. 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. 8^, 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" BS. 13I — 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 hne, 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 
mati states a personal quality or a characteristic occupation (see 
3^ 10-^ 12^ \(f^ 29* Isa. 53'' i// 41"^^°^) ; thus in Gen. 46^ the 7nen 
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 tnan (the difference between the two is that 
of a vowel), and first Hne 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 modem expositors. 

XVIII. 22-24 3^7 

Anc. Vrss.,* and is adopted by Luther, Mercer, Geier, AV. The 
verbal form (the Prep, to + Infin. in the Heb.) must be under- 
stood to express the purpose and function of the friejids : 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 /rt'ends (first line) and friend (Ht. /over, second line) are in 
themselves synonyms — the difference betw^een 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*"" 
(especially v.^") 37"* ^ 

20. Bi. omits the Prep, in nsr, making the noun the subject of the verb — 
possible, but unnecessary. — The reading 2b U'n, suggested by Gr. (who refers 
to 12I*) is here inappropriate. — 21. |^ st. anx; (g Kparovvres, from rnx, 
which affords no good sense; all other ancient authorities and most moderns 
follow ^, which can hardly be original. No good emendation has been sug- 
gested; neither 1:3; (^those who are subject to if) nor i"U' {those who give heed 
to if) (Gr.) is satisfactory. Rashi : " he who loves his tongue and exercises 
himself in the law." Saadia: "according as he loves one or the other" 
(death or hfe). — 22. The insertion of r^^-j after nrs ((^SSTIL) is natural, but 
unnecessary (cf. Eccl. 7-^). — On the couplet added in (§ (and in SIL) see 
note on this proverb above; * follows closely the norm of 1^", and '' is the 
natural antithesis. — 23. Lacking in @abs^ given in S^ and H-P 23. 103. al.; 
see notes of H-P, Field, Lag. — 24. |^ >'ppn, not from >"i (Gr. Ven.), or i*i 
bad (Zock. al.), but from ;-i break. Read njn.'^n, from n;-i (so S^TiL®-^). — 
|§ z'n is read r; by 2C Hitz. Lowenstein, Frank, al., and is, from the parallel- 
ism, to be adopted. Baer (in App. Crit. to the B-D ed. of Prov.) observes 
(from the Masora) that this is one of the three occurrences of i:"N, in which 
v^ is to be expected, the others being 2 Sam. 141^ Mic. 6^''; see Kimhi, Libr. 
Rad., s.v. -J'^N. — The couplet, like the preceding, is wanting in (S-^"^-, found 
in H-P 23 al.; >i'TrnS is rendered by toO eraipeixraadai, cf. IL ad societatem. 
S^ a man loves himself in order that he may be loved, either a free rendering 
of ®, or a corrupt Syr. text. The construction of i^ is periphrastic future, 
= 'nnS .T'n, is going to be (or, is to be) ruined. In the emended text *? -|- Inf. 
expresses purpose. Cf. critical note on 19*. 

* Targ. Lat. and some Grk. 


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 {ox, perfectness'). Speech is lit. lips ; on false (RV. 
periierse) see note on 2^^. Instead of rich the Heb. has a fool. 
The couplet occurs again at 28®, with rich instead oi 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 (ht. 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.^) as a thing not good, and this is hardly 
probable. — The first half 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 : whefi 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- 

XIX. 1-6 369 

to save money) , that is not good, is hardly to be obtained from 
the Heb., and is not a probable reflection for Pr. The last ex- 
pression of first cl. means " not a good (or, sensible, useful, help- 
ful) thing," nearly = unsuccessful ; Reuss's blind eagemess can 
only be hurtful, and Wildeboer's where there is no knowledge (or, 
reflection), there also (even) eagerness is not good are grammati- 
cally doubtful. — In second cl. is hasty in action is lit. hastes 
with his feet. — 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 the 7nark (see 8"® Job 5"^). — 
3. Continued thought, quaternary-ternary. Ruins = overturns 
(RV. subverteth) ; affairs is lit. way ; God, lit. Yahweh. For 
the thought cf. BS. 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 God ; the reply is that the fault is with men 
themselves — a practical way of dealing with a much-debated 
question characteristic of Pr., and standing in marked contrast 
with the lines of thought of Job and Ecclesiastes. — 4. Antithetic, 
quaternary-ternary. Cf. v.^ 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^^ lo^^ 

5-7. Perjury, liberality, poverty. 

5. A false witness will not go unpunished, 
He who utters lies will not escape. 

6. Many seek the favor of the liberal man, 
All are friends to him who gives. 

7. All the poor man's brethren hate him — 
How much more do his friends stand aloof! 

5. Identical in thought, ternary (or, binary-ternary). For the 
expressions see 6'^ 14^^ and v.^ below, of which this couplet is a 
doublet, and here not in place ; the reference is to legal proceed- 
ings, and the certainty of punishment is affirmed 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 



indefinite many is heightened into the definite all, and thus 
receives the suggestion of universaUty. Seek the favor is ht. 
stroke (or, smooth) the face (caressingly) or make the face soft 
(gentle, favorable) ; see Job ii'^ \\i 45^''^^' i K. 13" \\i wff^, etc. 
The translation liberal (lit. willing) is suggested by the parallel- 
ism, but the Heb. word {fiadib) may also be rendered potentate 
(Grk. kings) or noble; see notes on 8'^ 17^ -^ 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 Uberality 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] pursueth 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 
are nought and he pttrsueth). 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. 
He who follows wisdom i will > get good. 

9. A false witness will not escape, 
He who utters lies will perish. 

XIX. 6-IO 371 

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^) ; /ot- 
iows = preserves, pays due regard to; is a friejid to (or, loves) 
himself (lit. loves his soiil) = " has regard for his own interests " ; 
as predicate of second cl. the Heb. has to find (or, get^ 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^*"'*, 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-- Eccl. 10^ BS. ii^ 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. \f 14^. — On the position of Heb. slaves see notes on 11^ 

12^ 22^^.* 

* Cf. Job 41* [402s], from which, however, it cannot be inferred that the relation 
of a slave to his master was based on an agreement between the two. 



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^ (in 3^ the text is incorrect) ; 
the couplet in the Heb. is lit. : a maii'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 
slow {= to defer) . . . to pass, corresponding to the other paral- 
lel expressions a man''s wisdom . . . his glory. The same 
thought is found in 14^''-^^, and cf. 25-^^^ and Eccl. 8\ 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. 



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 20-, on which see note ; similar 
references to royal power see in 16^'* 28'^ Eccl. 8^'*. 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 (gNABC. ^h ^^,1, ast. Compl. H-P 23. 103. 253 = |^.— 

J^ '^p:!; 5 N"i''n>, 3L dives (but adds et insipiens at end) ; read lii';', which the 
parallelism imperatively demands. The insipiens of iL and the N'SpD of some 
MSS. of Sh are corrections after |^. — For ^ rns"' .SST have ways, which may 
be free rendering of |^, or may represent Heb. vsT (cf. Pink.). — 2. Lacking 
in @XABC. H-P 23 al. without knowledge of the soul there is no good ; S'^ to 
be without knowledge etc. is not good ; Saad. Compl. without knowledge the sotd 
is not good ; &K he who does not knoiv himself, it is not good for him ; 3L where 
there is no hioivledge of the sold it is not good ; Rashi as H-P 23 IL. — 3a nS 
must be predicate; nVj -f- noun always qualifies a preceding word (noun or 

XIX. II-I4 373 

verb), and cannot here qualify ii'dj ("a soul without knowledge"). The 
Heb. text appears to be defective, Gr. proposes to attach » to the '?D3 of v.i, 
change CJ to dj (cf. Isa. 21 12), and insert ^ before n':', but the resulting sense, 
" a fool flees without knowledge of soul to what is not good," is awkward, and 
Sd:3 is probably not original. The ::'r: is unnecessary and strange, and looks 
like a gloss on ry; if this be omitted, and 2J be changed to nz"; or rry (cf. 
21^) or n''."i, the clause becomes clear in construction and meaning. — it'dj may 
be a gloss on py-i k^3 r>.-i. — 4. In |^ m^-is the n may be Prep., or nominal 
preformative. — 6. The art. in ;nn is to be omitted; Bi. y-\ n^3. — 7. |§ in>-\D 
is defectively written plu. — © follows ^^- ^ with change of pointing. — 
Bi. adopts the additional couplet of (5 and renders it into Hebrew. — 
8. 1^ S'lc'^; read xi-:-, as apparently ©S^IL (and so Dys.), though these 
Vrss. may merely give idiomatic translations of ns::'^; to take it as abridged 
periphrastic Future, = -3'? rrn (De. Wild, a/.) is allowable, but seems here 
less natural; cf. note on J.'yi.'^i-', 18-*. — 9. See notes on v.^ — 11. Point 
TjNn as Inf. (so apparently AGS). (& is corrupt (see Jag. Baumg.). 

13, 14. Bad sons, bad and good wives. 

13. 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, 
But a wise wife is the gift of God. 

13. Collocation of two similar things, ternary. The thought of 
first cl. is found in 10^ lySi 25 ^^nd cf. v.'^ below), that of second 
cl. in 2f^. We expect, as contrast to first cl., a reference to the 
wise son, or, as contrast to second cl., a reference (as in v.") to 
the good wife ; the couplet is perhaps made up from two others. 
The noun dripping (or, dropping) is found elsewhere in OT. only 
in 27^^, the verb drip, drop only in Job 16-" i/' 119^ Eccl. 10^*, all 
late passages ; the term continual (lit. pushifig, driving) occurs in 
Heb. only here and 27^^ (Aramaic in Dan. 425.32.33(22.29.30) ^2i)_ q^ 

Wisd. Sol. 3^-. — IVi/e is Ht. woinan, here possibly any "woman," 
but the special reference is more probable. An Arab proverb, 
which De. heard from Wetzstein, 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 God (lit. Yahweh). 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^-^ 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.^^ suggests an un- 
happy choice. — Wise = intelligent, probably in the special sense 
of tJu-ifty ; cf. 31^^^ This second cl. gives a contrast to the 
second cl. of v.^^. Cf. 18" (and Eccl. 9^) ; in BS. 26^ a good wife 
is the portion of those who fear God, and such is the implication 
in our passage. 

15. Inconveniences of idleness. 

Slothfulness casts into a deep sleep, 
The idle man must suffer hunger. 

Synonymous, ternary. The noun deep sleep is found in Gen. 2^ 
i5'- I Sam. 26^" Isa. 29^° Job 4^^^ 2)'^^^ the corresponding verb in 
Ju. 4^^ Jon. i^ Dan. 8'^, the Participle in 10^ (on which see note) 
\^ 76®''^ Jon. i" Dan. lo^ The expression here signifies complete 
inactivity. Man, lit. soul (y = person). Cf. 6^ ^^ 10^ 12"^ 20^^ 24^'^. 

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 com7nand- 
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^), 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. i4-i8 375 

ably, wise) norm, instead of by his own caprice ; the general 
sense remains the same. — For the Heb. despises his ways an easy 
change of text gives the reading : despises 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.). Will die 
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. 21^ ^^, 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'" \G^ . 

17. God rewards kindness to the poor. 

He who has pity on the poor lends to Yahweh, 
And he will repay him his deed. 

Continued thought, binary, or ternary-binary. On poor see note 
on 10^^; cf. 22^ 29^ i// 41^^^'. In second cl. we may render good 
deed (as RV.), the adj. being supphed from the connection ; the 
Heb. word signifies "something done," sometimes good (1// 103^), 
sometimes bad (1// 137^), often with the suggestion that there is to 
be retribution or recompense for the thing done, as here and 12^*. 
Kindness to the poor is regarded as done to God (cf. Mt. 25*"), 
who will repay it, as the whole Book suggests, by bestowing long 
life and worldly prosperity. — The ethical basis of the proverb is 
the recognition of the natural duty of caring for the poor. The 
motive urged is not the obligation to do right, but the reward of 

18. Chastisement saves a child. 

Chastise thy son while there is still hope — 
Set not thy heart on his destruction. 

Implicit parallelism, quaternary-ternary. Chastise is reach {^ 2^^), 
reprove (Pr. 9"), correct (Jer. 30'^), here punish bodily, as in 
2gi7.i9 ]3t_ 2ii«. Instead of 7vhile the Heb. may be rendered >r 
(RV. seeing). Set not thy heart is lit. lift not up thy soul {= thy 
desire), as in \^ 24* 25' 86^. On his destruction is lit. to kill hint. 
Cf. 13-^ 23" 29^'. The sense is : train thy son by bodily chastise- 
ment in the docile period of childhood — do not, through weak 


or mistaken kindness, so neglect to control him that he shall go 
astray and finally suffer death as the natural (legal or other) conse- 
quence of his ill-doing. The second cl. can hardly be understood 
as a warning against excessive bodily punishment i^do not carry 
your chastisetnent so far as to kill hiin). According to Dt. 21^^^^ 
a son, on the representation of his father that he was intractable, 
might be sentenced to death by the elders of the city ; but the 
more refined feeling of later times revolted against this procedure.* m 

In the family life contemplated by Pr. it is highly improbable that 
a father would ever think of carrying chastisement to the point of 
killing his son. The meaning of the couplet is given in 23^^ — 
Bickell : do not fancy that thou could'' st kill liim, a violent and 
inappropriate emendation. The rendering let not thy soul spare 
for his crying (AV.)t is hardly permitted by the Hebrew. 

13. Before |§ -^-y dripping d should, perhaps, be inserted. — 14. |^ rhyva 
prudent ; @ aptib^erai. (with which Lag. compares the (5 rendering of hyi? in 
Gen. 48") takes the Heb. word as = is zvisely adapted, that is, given in 
marriage (and so SST). — 15. The couplet occurs in @ in 18^, with variations. 
— 16. Bi. changes the second ^c•w• of |§ to ^ns to avoid repetition (referring 
to v.^) ; but the repetition is here effective. — 1§ vam; read -':3-', to agree 
with nrb. Keth. nc^; read Qerl np\ — 18. |§ ^^T^-C:r\ "^s; (g (followed by S) c's 
v^piv, — '^r\''-:^r\ Sn, from r\r^r\ (Jag.), or x-\ram. K::n neglect, despise (Lag.) ; A^TIL 
= |§. — The text appears to be corrupt, but no satisfactory emendation offers 
itself. Bi. : is'aj nbti Din Sni. 


19. Text and translation doubtful. 

The Heb. margin reads : A man of great anger pays a fine (or, 
must bear a penalty) (or, he who pays a fine is very angry), for, 
(or, but, or, in truth) if thou rescue, thou must do so again (or, 
thou wilt increase). In first cl. great is the reading of the Heb. 
margin ; the text has an obscure word, variously rendered {stony, 

* In the oldest known Semitic material there is no mention of the father's power 
of life and death over the son ; see the Sumerian " Laws relating to the family " 
(found in Assurbanipal's library, and probably adopted by the Assyrians), in 
which the severest punishment that could be inflicted on a refractory son is expul- 
sion from the father's house. But the law in Dt. 21I8-21 is probably a modification 
of an earlier Hebrew regulation, according to which the father had the power of 
inflicting death (cf. Ex. 2ii5. 17). Cf. W. R. Smith, Relig. Sem.'^. pp. 59 f. The 
power of life and death was originally included in the Roman patria potestas, 

+ Following medieval Jewish authorities. ■ 


XIX. I8-20 377 

hard, rough, frequent) . Of the many interpretations offered of 
second cl. the following are the principal : If thou save [thine 
enemy] thou wilt add [good to thyself] * ; If thou save [thy son, 
by moderate chastisement], thou mayst continue [chastisement, 
and so educate him to virtue] f ; If thou save [the angry man 
from the legal penalty, thine interposition is useless], thou must 
do it again [since he will repeat his offence] I ; If thou save [the 
person who is the object of the angry man's wrath], thou increas- 
est [the angry man's wrath]. § These interpretations supply a 
great deal, and the two last assume (what is improbable) that 
anger is a finable offence. With changes of text we may read : 
The more he sins, the more he adds to his punishment || ; or, [a 
man who is fined is very angry] but if he show contempt [of 
court], he has to pay morel i but such details of legal penalties 
(even if they could be got naturally) are out of place in this 
series of aphorisms. The text appears to be incurably corrupt, 
and there is perhaps, in addition, a dislocation. 

20, 21. Human counsel, human and divine plans. 

20. Hearken to counsel, and receive instruction, 
That thou mayst be wise in future. 

21. Many are the thoughts in a man's mind, 
But the plan of Yahweh, it will stand. 

20. Continuous, ternary, or quaternary-ternary (possibly binary- 
ternary). On counsel and instruction see notes on i^ -; they are 
the teaching of the sages, or of sagacious persons in general, and 
they make one wise in all affairs. The thought may be simply 
the commonsense one : " take advice if you would act sensibly — 
only a fool refuses to take advice," or there may be a reference to 
the philosophical, ideal conception of wisdom of chs. 1-9. In 
future is lit. in thine after-life (RV, thy tatter end), an expression 
which generally means " the end of life " (see 5^), but here, from 
the connection, seems to signify " hereafter [after receiving 
instruction] in thy life." The Syriac reading in thy ways is per- 

* Rashi. t Saad. Michaelis. + Bertheau, RV. al. 

§ Str. Wild. Strack quotes Rabbi Simeon ben Eleazar {Pirke Aboth 4, 18) : " do 
not try to soothe thy neighbor when he is angry," for you thereby only exasperate 
him. II Syr. Targ. \ Frankenberg. 


haps better. It is not probable that the couplet, taken as an 
address to the pupil, refers to technical teaching and promotion 
in the schools : " thou art now only a beginner, but listen to 
instruction, and thou wilt become a sage" (Wild.). — 21. Anti- 
thetic, ternary. Thoughts = reflections, designs ; plan is in Heb. 
the same word as that rendered counsel in v.'", but here decision, 
design (regarded as the result of deliberation). The absolutely 
wise and sure divine purpose in the government of the affairs of 
men is contrasted with the diversity and uncertainty of human 
plans; cf. iG^-^-^ 20-^ 3^. 

22. Form and sense are uncertain. 

Lit. : the desire of a tnan is his kind?iess, and a poor man is 
better than a liar. The meaning of first cl. is doubtful. It may 
be taken (with objective genitival construction) to be : " the 
desire felt toward a man (our regard for him) is called forth by 
his kindness" (to us or to others), but this* is an improbable 
translation ; or " that which is desired by man is to receive kind- 
ness " (Saad.), or "man's desire and joy is to show kindness,"! 
both of which are doubtful as translations, and give a thought 
which is not in accordance with the tone of the Book. Many 
recent expositors % render : " a man's goodwill is his kindness," 
that is, beneficence lies in the intention ; but the Heb. word 
hardly means "goodwill" — it is "desire" or "the thing desired," § 
as in 10^* 11^ j^is. 19 ^ jq17 ^329 Qgj^^ .^^ and never elsewhere in 
OT. has the sense of "intention." And further, if it could be 
held to have that sense here, the form of the Heb. sentence 
would still be hard and improbable. None of these translations 
establish a relation between the two clauses of the couplet ; the 
interpretation : " the essence of beneficence is the intention — a 
poor man who would give, but cannot, is better than a rich man 
who could give, but hes and says he cannot give " || manifestly 
imports into the text what does not exist there. — Grk. (with 
change of text) " mercy is fruit to a man," whence Ew. " a man's 
gain is his pious love," and so a poor man who has this love (Grk. 

* RV. niarg., Rashi and other medieval Jewish expositors, Schult. Noyes ("that 
which makes a man beloved"). 

t Bertheau, Zock. \ Stade, Kamp. Wild. 

X Euchel, De. Reuss, Now. Str., and so RV. [| De. Str. al. 



XIX. 21-23 379 

a righteous poor man) is better than one who has become rich by 
lying (Grk. a rich liar) ; this, though more inteIHgible than the 
Heb., is still forced. It would give a better sense to read : a 
man's kindness is a revenue to him, that is, " kindness is good 
policy," but the Heb. would not be a natural form of expression 
for this thought. The Lat. gets the doubtful proposition in first 
cl. : " a needy man is merciful." Hitzig, taking the suggestion of 
the Grk., renders : " from the revenue of a man is his kind gift," 
an insignificant truism. Dyserinck, changing the text in second 
cl. : " what is attractive in a man is his friendliness, but better 
rough (or, crabbed) than false"; but the interpretation of "the 
desire of a man " as = " what is desirable in a man " is not sup- 
ported by OT. usage. — The second cl. should probably read : an 
honest poor man is better than a rich liar. The first cl. must be 
left untranslated, as affording no satisfactory sense; and it cannot 
be brought into natural connection with the second clause. 

23. Piety gives safety. 

The fear of Yahweh leads to life, 

< Who hopes in him > will be unvisited by harm. 

Synonymous. Lit. : the fear of Yahweh {tends) to life, and he 
dwells (or, abides) satisfied, he will not be visited by evil The 
enallage of subject in the Received Text is harsh, and not in 
accordance with the style of Pr. — the he of second cl. has no 
antecedent; the rendering ofie dwells (De. Zock.) is not allow- 
able, but, if our Heb. text be retained, this form, or the insertion 
of " to man " in first cl. or the explanation " he who has it dwells " 
(RV. and most recent translators) is necessary for syntactical 
clearness ; the Heb. text is in bad condition, and something hke 
the emendation above suggested seems necessary; cf 29^ \\i \\(f. 
Life = long life and prosperity, bestowed by God as reward of 
obedience; see notes on i^''^ 3". On dzaell see note on 15^^ 
Satisfied = con te tit (27^ .// 17^ cf. Pr. 30^ ^\, 16^^). With first cl. 
cf. 14^, with second cl. cf. lo^ 

24-29. Sluggards, mockers of parents and of truth, perjurers. 

24. The lazy man dips his hand into the dish. 
And will not bring it to his mouth. 


25. Smite a mocker, and the ignorant becomes wise, 
Reprove a man of sense, and he gains knowledge. 

26. He who maltreats his father and drives away his mother 
Is a son who acts shamefully and disgracefully. 

27. ? < He who ceases > to listen to instruction 
< Will ' wander from words of knowledge ? 

28. A false witness scoffs at justice, 

And the mouth of the wicked < utters > iniquity. 

29. Penalties are prepared for scoffers, 
And stripes for the backs of fools. 

24. Continuous, quaternary-ternary. A humorous and sarcastic 
rebuke of laziness, repeated, with variation of expression in 
second cl., in 26^^ Dips is in the Heb. Ht. hides (RV. burieth) ; 
disk occurs in 2 K. 21" (and nearly the same Heb. vi^ord in 2 K. 
2^ 2 C. 35^'') ; the scene is a meal, and the method of eating is 
Oriental (cf. Mk. 14^). The verb of the Heb. {taman) is hardly 
appropriate (Schult. Bi.), and should perhaps be changed (to 
tubal, dip). The last word of first cl. is rendered or read vari- 
ously in the Anc. Vrss. : bosom * ; armpit \ ; Rashi reports a ren- 
dering slit in a garment (= bosom), and Gratz suggests garment. 
There seems to be no good reason for changing the reading dish, 
\hoVi^ bosom gives a good sense. — 25. Antithetic, quaternary or 
ternary. On mocker (=one who contemptuously rejects right 
teaching, is unteachable) see note on i"^. Ignorant =^ simple, 
moral simpleton (i^"). The morally ignorant man, says the 
proverb, is warned when bad men are punished — it is an intelli- 
gible object-lesson ; a wise man learns in a more rational way, by 
giving heed to advice. — 26. Continuous, binary-ternary. In 
second cl. we may render : who is vile and despicable (Reuss), or 
who causes shame and reproach (RV. De., cf. 29^^). Cf. 10^ 13'' 
1 7". Nothing is said of the punishment of the unworthy son ; the 
old laws (Ex. 21^^-^'') had probably at this time fallen into desue- 
tude. — Maltreats is probably equivalent to drives away. The 
son here seems to be in possession of the property in his father's 
lifetime ; the latter is presumably decrepit, the care of the property 
falls naturally to the son, whose unfilial conduct, though it may be 
condemned by public opinion, does not come under the cogni- 

* Grk. Syr., and so some medieval Jewish commentators, AV. Bickell, 
t Aq. Sym. Targ. Lat. 

XIX. 24-29 3^1 

zance of the law. — 27. Lit. cease, my son, to listen to instruction, to 
wander from the words of knowledge. The saying has been inter- 
preted as a serious exhortation, — " cease to listen to that sort of 
teaching which will cause thee to wander," etc.,* but the Heb. 
term here rendered instruction can hardly be understood, when 
used without an adjective, to mean anything but right instruction, 
nor has it any other meaning elsewhere in Pr. ; or f " cease to 
Hsten to [good] instruction in order (that is, if thy purpose is, or, 
if the result for thee is to be) to wander," etc., but such an exhor- 
tation (= "better not hear than hear and not obey") is foreign 
to the thought of Pr., which elsewhere divides men into the two 
classes, those who hear and those who do not hear, and does not 
deal with the case of those who dally with teaching or seek it in 
sport or know and act not (Wildeboer refers to Lu. 12'*'). Ewald 
and Reuss regard the exhortation as ironical, = " only cease to hear, 
and you will soon wander," etc., but the latter thinks such a form 
unexampled in Pr. and doubtful. The grammatical construction of 
the Hebrew, also, is not clear, and the address my son does not else- 
where occur in this division of the Book ( 10^-22'^) . The text must 
be changed either as in the translation given above, or so as to 
read : Cease, tny son, to hate instruction, to wander, etc., or, do 
not cease, my son, to listen, etc., and do not waftder, etc. If the 
second or third reading be adopted, the couplet should be trans- 
ferred to chs. 1-9 (cf. 5^-) or chs. 22^'-24-^ (cf. 23^-). — 28. Syn- 
onymous, quaternary or ternary. False is ht. wicked; for the mean- 
ing of the term {belial) see note on 6^^ The scene of first cl. is a 
court of justice (Ex. 20^'' Lev. 5^), and the second cl., from the par- 
allelism, is to be so understood : the wicked witness inflicts injury 
by false statements ; the iniquity is the harm done by the perjurer 
not to his own soul (so the Grk,), but to the legal rights of others. 
Instead of Heb. gulps dow?i, read utters (see i^^ 15- ^ 59''** 78"). 
Cf. 6^^ 14^ 25^^ — 29. Synonymous, ternary. Penalties, Wt. Judg- 
ments, a term which occurs only in the plu., and is found elsewhere 
only in Ez. and later parts of Ex. Num. Chr. ; a change of one 
letter of the Heb. gives rods (so the Grk.), which offers an exacter 
parallelism to the stripes of second cl. On scoffers (to which fools 

* Saad. Schult. Str. t Oetinger, De. Now. 



is here equivalent) see note on i^. The punishment spoken of is 
that inflicted by men. 

19. Kethib Sij, with which Arab, '^tj stotty, hard may be compared (Ew. 
explains it by Arab, h^t} frequent, but the interchange of ? and n is improbable). 
The stem '?iJ in this sense may be found in "-i.! /o^ (originally, perhaps, /f/^i^/(?, 
Schult. a/.), but as the adj. does not elsewhere occur in North-Semitic, the 
Qeri Su (so 6) seems preferable. For J^ '?sn and iDh Frank, proposes f^' 
and f:D\ — "^ appears to be corrupt, but a satisfactory emendation is difficult. 
— 20. I^irnnx^; S> ir'mso, perhaps to be adopted. — 22. p? .•"!>>: r; (& Kaprros, 
whence Ew. and Bi. emend to rxpn revenue ; kindness may be said to be a 
source of revenue, but cannot be called revenue. -"Dn is not " pious love " 
(Ew.), but general benevolence and friendliness. — In ^ <3 supplies the sug- 
gested adjectives. — 23. J^** f'^' >'3U' appears to be a corrupt expression. An 
intelligible reading of ^ would be: >'i i^^] Va vSj; "»3U'; the same thought is 
expressed in 29--', with ns2 instead of •>2Z'. — 24. |§ "nVi; (S KdXirov accords 
with the verb of |^, |"r, and is perhaps a guess induced by this verb. The 
noun in |^ is more pertinent (for why should a man take his hand from his 
bosom in order to carry it to his mouth?), and the verb should perhaps be 
changed to ^2'J. — 26. p) iTii'c; Gr. -^y" ejects, to secure exacter parallelism 
with r\-\z\, or, as he writes it, ma^. — 27. ©: njn for J^ r\xv, and j;n for 
1^ nyi; iiL: do nut cease . . . and be not ignorant etc.; S2E : cease, my son, 
and hear . . . and thou wilt not -wander etc. The Heb. form is doubtful; we 
may insert the neg. with IL, or write N":t;' for fij •;-zz', or, omitting ^J2, read ^"ip. 
and "ii:" for |^ '^"n and ~yv. — 28. |^ "'i^'^a iv; @ 6 i'^~^vwiiivo% iraida 
acppova, = -2 \2 2y (Lag.). — pj ■;'7T; Frank., better, •;2\ — 29. ^ d-jck*; 
(5 fid(TTLyet, = Q\22y, perh. better. 

XX. 1. Folly of drinking to excess. 

Wine is a mocker, mead is a brawler, 
Whoever is overtaken thereby is not wise. 

Extensive, quaternary- (or, binary-) ternary. The sense is : it is 
not prudent or sensible to indulge to excess in intoxicating drinks, 
or : one thus overtaken (that is, drunk) does not in this condi- 
tion behave or act wisely. IVt'ne {yayi?i) is the fermented juice 
of the grape; of mead (RV. strong drink) all that appears from 
OT. is that it was intoxicating (Isa. 28"), and, in the later legisla- 
tion (Lev. 10®) forbidden to priests, that it was a common bev- 
erage of the people in the religious feasts of the preexilic time 
(Dt. 14^®), and that Nazirites (and probably also the Rechabites, 
Jer. 35) abstained from it (not on account of its intoxicating 



XIX. 29-XX. 4 383 

qualities, but because they represented the old pastoral life, and 
rejected agricultural novelties). It is not improbable that it was 
the fermented juice of fruits (other than grapes), such as the 
pomegranate (cf Cant. 8") and the date.* Mocker, scoffing at all 
things good and true ; brawler, violent, loud, uncontrolled. The 
drink is credited with the characteristics which it produces in 
men. Is overiaketi, ht. reels (Isa. 28'), is intoxicated (cf. 5^®) ; 
the rendering errs (RV.) or is deceived (AV.) is possible, but less 

2. Royal anger. 

The wrath of a king is like the roar of a lion, 
He who < angers > him sins against himself. 

Comparison and its explanation, quaternary-ternary. Wrath of, 
lit. terror of, = "terror inspired by"; Grk. threat is formally a 
more appropriate expression — the lion's roar is properly an illus- 
tration of an utterance of the king ; the Heb. means to say : the 
terror produced by an angry king is as great as that produced by 
the roar of a lion. The translation angers follows the Grk. ; the 
Heb. is rather is angry with (RV. marg.). Instead oi himself v^t 
may render his own life {nefesh, soul). For sins against we 
should perhaps read harms, as in 8^. Cf. 16" 19^. 

3. Folly of strife. 

It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, 
Only fools are quarrelsome. 

Antithetic, quaternary-binary. The second cl. reads lit. : but 
every fool is quarrelsome (or, quarrels, RV., will be quarrelling). 
On the word here rendered quarrel ^to. notes on 17" i8\ 

4. Sloth produces no bread. 

In the autumn the sluggard does not plough, 

And therefore in harvest he looks in vain (for a crop). 

Continuous, ternary. Autuniti is here particularly the season, 
following the last ingathering of crops, when the ground is to be 

* Our words sugar, saccharine probably have the same stem as the Heb. term 
(shekdr). On \\s ms&mng cL L,s.g., Mittkeilungen, 2, ■^e^y ; Nowack, y4rc^., i, 120, 


prepared for sowing (the season of the " former " or " early " 
rain), beginning in October and lasting four or five months; the 
Heb. term is, however, generally used for the colder half of the 
year (Gen. 8-^ Am. 3^^ ^ 74^") as opposed to the warmer half 
which includes harvest-time and summer. The hafvesi begins in 
April (barley) and lasts till September (grapes). The rendering 
by reason of the winter (RV.) or of the cold (Lat.) is improbable 
— the sluggard is deterred not by cold, but by laziness ; f-oni the 
begitining of autumn on (De. Str.) is possible, but less natural 
than in autuinn. Looks i7i vain, lit. asks and there is nothing ; 
he seeks food from his fields, but, owing to his neglect, there is 
none ; the rendering begs (or, shall beg, Lat. RV.) is inappro- 
priate — the man's slothfulness would not prevent his being 
helped by his neighbors, especially in the plentiful and joyous 
time of harvest. 

5. Shrewdness discovers plans. 

The purpose in a man's mind is deep water, 
But a man of sagacity will draw it out. 

Continuous, quaternary-ternary. A man's real thought, the prov- 
erb says, is hard to fathom, but may be discovered by one who 
knows how to sound the mind. Purpose is counsel, plan, the 
result of deliberation ; tnind is lit. heart; deep water (plu. in the 
Heb.) is the symbol of something hard to exhaust or apprehend. 
The figure is that of a mass of water which has to be drawn from 
a well or reservoir ; the deeper the water the harder the task. 
The allusion is to men's disposition to conceal their plans. A 
clever man will discover a plan by shrewd inquiries and guesses. 
The proverb has no moral content. See iS'*, in which our first cl. 
occurs with words for purpose, and mouth for mind. 

6 Rarity of real friendship. 

Many men profess friendship, 

But a trustworthy man who can find? 

Antithetic, ternary. The first line is Ht. : many jnen proclaim 
every one his kindness (or, many a maji proclaims his kindness), 
= " professions of wilHngness to be helpful are frequent," with 
the implication that such professions are frequently hollow — it 

XX. 4-7 385 

is not easy to find a man trustworthy or faithful, one who can 
be relied on for sympathy and aid i