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It is dangerous[a] to have zeal[b] without knowledge,
and the one who acts hastily[c] makes poor choices.[d]

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  1. Proverbs 19:2 tn Heb “not good.” This is a figure known as tapeinosis (a deliberate understatement to emphasize a worst-case scenario): “it is dangerous!”
  2. Proverbs 19:2 tn The interpretation of this line depends largely on the meaning of נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh) which has a broad range of meanings: (1) the breathing substance of man, (2) living being, (3) life, (4) person, (5) seat of the appetites, (6) seat of emotions and passions, (7) activities of intellect, emotion and will, (8) moral character, etc. (BDB 659-61 s.v.). In light of the synonymous parallelism, the most likely nuance here is “zeal, passion” (HALOT 713 s.v. 8). NIV takes the word in the sense of “vitality” and “drive”—“it is not good to have zeal without knowledge” (cf. NCV, TEV, and NLT which are all similar).
  3. Proverbs 19:2 tn Heb “he who is hasty with his feet.” The verb אוּץ (ʾuts) means “to be pressed; to press; to make haste.” The verb is followed by the preposition ב (bet) which indicates that with which one hastens—his feet. The word “feet” is a synecdoche of part for the whole person—body and mind working together (cf. NLT “a person who moves too quickly”).
  4. Proverbs 19:2 tn Heb “misses the goal.” The participle חוֹטֵא (khoteʾ) can be translated “sins” (cf. KJV, ASV), but in this context it refers only to actions without knowledge, which could lead to sin, or could lead simply to making poor choices (cf. NAB “blunders”; NASB “errs”; NCV “might make a mistake”). sn The basic meaning of the verb is “to miss a goal or the way.” D. Kidner says, “How negative is the achievement of a man who wants tangible and quick rewards”—he will miss the way (Proverbs [TOTC], 132).