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14 The discerning mind[a] seeks knowledge,
but the mouth of fools feeds on folly.[b]
15 All the days[c] of the afflicted[d] are bad,[e]
but one with[f] a cheerful heart has a continual feast.[g]
16 Better[h] is little with the fear of the Lord
than great wealth and turmoil[i] with it.[j]

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  1. Proverbs 15:14 tn Or “heart.” The Hebrew term is לֵב (lev, “mind, heart”).
  2. Proverbs 15:14 tc The idea expressed in the second colon does not make a strong parallelism with the first with its emphasis on seeking knowledge. Its poetic image of feeding (a hypocatastasis) would signify the acquisition of folly—the fool has an appetite for it. D. W. Thomas suggests the change of one letter, ר (resh) to ד (dalet), to obtain a reading יִדְעֶה (yidʿeh); this he then connects to an Arabic root daʿa with the meaning “sought, demanded” to form what he thinks is a better parallel (“Textual and Philological Notes on Some Passages in the Book of Proverbs,” VTSup 3 [1955]: 285). But even though the parallelism is not as precise as some would prefer, there is insufficient warrant for such a change.
  3. Proverbs 15:15 sn The “days” represent what happens on those days (metonymy of subject).
  4. Proverbs 15:15 tn The contrast is between the “afflicted” and the “good of heart” (a genitive of specification, “cheerful/healthy heart/spirit/attitude”). sn The parallelism suggests that the afflicted is one afflicted within his spirit, for the proverb is promoting a healthy frame of mind.
  5. Proverbs 15:15 tn Or “evil”; or “catastrophic.”
  6. Proverbs 15:15 tn “one with” is supplied.
  7. Proverbs 15:15 sn The image of a continual feast signifies the enjoyment of what life offers (cf. TEV “happy people…enjoy life”). The figure is a hypocatastasis; among its several implications are joy, fulfillment, abundance, pleasure.
  8. Proverbs 15:16 sn One of the frequent characteristics of wisdom literature is the “better” saying; it is a comparison of different but similar things to determine which is to be preferred. These two verses focus on spiritual things being better than troubled material things.
  9. Proverbs 15:16 sn Turmoil refers to anxiety; the fear of the Lord alleviates anxiety, for it brings with it contentment and confidence.
  10. Proverbs 15:16 sn Not all wealth has turmoil with it. But the proverb is focusing on the comparison of two things—fear of the Lord with little and wealth with turmoil. Between these two, the former is definitely better.

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