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31 The one who oppresses[a] the poor has insulted[b] his Creator,
but whoever honors him shows favor[c] to the needy.
32 An evil person will be thrown down through his wickedness,[d]
but a righteous person takes refuge in his integrity.[e]
33 Wisdom rests in the heart of the discerning;
it is not known[f] in the inner parts[g] of fools.

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  1. Proverbs 14:31 tn Heb “an oppressor of the poor.” The verb עָשַׁק (ʿashaq) normally means “to oppress” (as in many English versions). However, here it might mean “to slander.” See J. A. Emerton, “Notes on Some Passages in the Book of Proverbs,” JTS 20 (1969): 202-22.
  2. Proverbs 14:31 sn In the Piel this verb has the meaning of “to reproach; to taunt; to say sharp things against” someone (cf. NIV “shows contempt for”). By oppressing the poor one taunts or mistreats God because that person is in the image of God—hence the reference to his/her maker, or “Creator.” To ridicule what God made is to ridicule God himself.
  3. Proverbs 14:31 tn Or “whoever shows favor to the needy honors him” (so NASB, NIV, and most translations, except KJV). While being an “oppressor” contrasts “showing favor” and to “have insulted” contrasts “honoring” the Creator, the proverb may also make its contrast by switching which element is the subject and which is verbal. In the first half “the oppressor” occurs first; the second half begins with vav (and/but) plus “the one who honors him. When the second half of a proverb begins with vav plus a participle, the overwhelming trend is that the participle is the subject, or occasionally the object of the sentence. On the rare occasions that a participle is the subject of a finite verb in a clause where the verb comes first, eight occur in the A-line and only one in the B-line (6:29 where the A-line is verbless and the B-line places focus on the verb). In some cases it is ambiguous whether the participle is verbal or substantival (11:17; 12:16; 16:2; 17:3; 21:2; 29:13) but these probably act as a predicate nominative. In other cases where another participle supplies the verbal element in the B-line (10:19; 11:13, 15; 16:28; 17:9; 19:2) the lead participle is the subject and the verbal participle is second. Thus standard syntax expects to read the line with “the one who honors him” as the subject. Showing favor to the needy is an outgrowth of the character of honoring the Lord. This may also elucidate the contrast between the verb forms. What act(s) it took to be “an oppressor of the poor” qualify as having insulted (perfect verb) the Maker. Insult has been given; that mark continues. But the one who honors him [the Maker] keeps (participle) being gracious to the The phrase “shows favor” is contrasted with the term “oppresses.” To “show favor” means to be gracious to (or treat kindly) those who do not deserve it or cannot repay it. It is treatment that is gratis. This honors God because he commanded it to be done (Prov 14:21; 17:5; 19:17).
  4. Proverbs 14:32 tn Or “during his trouble” (i.e., when catastrophe comes). The noun רָעָה (raʿah) can refer to evil (so KJV, NASB, ESV, NRSV) or to calamity (CEV, NIV, NLT).
  5. Proverbs 14:32 tc The MT reads בְּמוֹתוֹ (bemoto, “in his death”). The LXX reads “in his integrity,” implying the switching of two letters to בְּתוּמּוֹ (betummo). The LXX is followed by some English versions (e.g., NAB “in his honesty,” NRSV “in their integrity,” and TEV “by their integrity”). For all other cases of the verb חָסָה (khasah, “to take refuge”), the preposition ב (bet) indicates what the person relies on, not what they take refuge through, and it is unlikely that the righteous rely on death or see death as a refuge.
  6. Proverbs 14:33 tc The MT says “it [wisdom] is known,” but this runs counter to the rest of Proverbs’ teaching, making it sound sarcastic at best. The LXX and the Syriac negate the clause, saying it is “not known in the heart fools” (cf. NAB, NRSV, TEV, NLT), which suggests the word לֹא (loʾ, “not”) has dropped out. The Targum supports reading אִוֶּלֶת (ʾivvelet) “folly is in the heart of fools.” Thomas connects the verb to the Arabic root wdʿ and translates it “in fools it is suppressed.” See D. W. Thomas, “The Root ידע in Hebrew,” JTS 35 (1934): 302-3.
  7. Proverbs 14:33 tn Heb “in the inner part”; ASV “in the inward part”; NRSV “in the heart of fools.”