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Proverbs 6:1-5 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 6

Miscellaneous Proverbs[a]

Against Going Surety for One’s Neighbor

[b]My son, if you have become surety to your neighbor,
    given your hand in pledge to another,
You have been snared by the utterance of your lips,
    caught by the words of your mouth;
So do this, my son, to free yourself,
    since you have fallen into your neighbor’s power:
Go, hurry, rouse your neighbor!
Give no sleep to your eyes,
    nor slumber to your eyelids;
Free yourself like a gazelle from the hunter,
    or like a bird from the hand of the fowler.


  1. 6:1–19 Four independent pieces akin to those in 30:1–5, 6–11, 12–15, and 16–19. Some judge the verses to be an ancient addition, but the fact that the pieces differ from the other material in chaps. 1–9 is not a strong argument against their originality. Ancient anthologies did not always have the symmetry of modern collections. An editor may have placed the four pieces in the midst of the three poems on the forbidden woman to shed light on some of their themes. Verses 1–5 warn against getting trapped by one’s words to another person (the Hebrew word for “another” is the same used for the forbidden woman); vv. 6–11 proposes the ant as a model of forethought and diligence; vv. 12–15 describes the reprobate who bears some similarity to the seductive woman, especially as portrayed in chap. 7; vv. 16–19 depicts the typical enemy of God, underscoring the person’s destructive words.
  2. 6:1–5 Unlike other instructions that begin with “my son,” this instruction does not urge the hearer to store up the father’s words as a means to wisdom, but only to avoid one practice—going surety for one’s neighbor. The warning is intensified by repetition of “neighbor” and “free yourself,” the mention of bodily organs, and the imagery of hunting. Given your hand in pledge: lit., “struck your hands”; this was probably the legal method for closing a contract. To become surety meant intervening in favor of the insolvent debtor and assuming responsibility for the payment of the debt, either by obtaining it from the debtor or substituting oneself. Proverbs is strongly opposed to the practice (11:15; 17:18; 20:16; 22:26–27; 27:13) apparently because of the danger it poses to the freedom of the one providing surety.
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.


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