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10 The appetite[a] of the wicked has desired[b] evil;
his neighbor is shown no favor[c] in his eyes.
11 When a scorner is punished, the naive[d] becomes wise;
when a wise person is instructed,[e] he gains knowledge.
12 The Righteous One[f] considers[g] the house[h] of the wicked;
he overthrows the wicked to their ruin.[i]

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  1. Proverbs 21:10 tn Heb “soul.” The Hebrew text uses נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh, traditionally, “soul”) as the formal subject of the sentence—“the soul of a wicked man desires.” This term has at its core the idea of appetites, and so its use here underscores that the cravings are deep-seated (BDB 660 s.v. 5), and the translation “appetite” reflects this.
  2. Proverbs 21:10 tn The verb אִוְּתָה (ʾivvetah) is a Piel perfect. Categorically, Piel verbs are dynamic rather than stative, so the perfect form should be understood as past or perfective. In the Qal, some verbs for “desire” are stative and some dynamic; so semantically the question could be raised whether this is a rare, or lone, stative in the Piel. If stative, it could be understood as present tense, as rendered in most translations. But it is doubtful that more recent developments in linguistics and biblical Hebrew influenced any of the translations. However, as perfective we should understand that this is what they have set their desire on, and that is ongoing, so a present time relevance is appropriate. In this proverb the first colon provides the setting as a basis, and the second colon gives the result. We may understand it as “because [he/she] has desired evil, his/her neighbor will not be shown favor.”
  3. Proverbs 21:10 tn The form יֻחַן (yukhan) is a Hophal imperfect from חָנַן (khanan); it means “to be shown mercy”—here negated to mean “he will not be shown mercy.” The person who lives to satisfy his own craving for evil will not be interested in meeting the needs of others.
  4. Proverbs 21:11 sn The contrast here is between the simple and the wise. The simple gain wisdom when they see the scorner punished; the wise gains knowledge through instruction. The scorner does not change, but should be punished for the benefit of the simple (e.g., Prov 19:25).
  5. Proverbs 21:11 tn Heb “in the instructing of the wise.” The construction uses the Hiphil infinitive construct הַשְׂכִּיל (haskil) with a preposition to form a temporal clause (= “when”). The word “wise” (חָכָם, khakham) after it is the subjective genitive. The preposition ל (lamed) on the form is probably dittography from the ending of the infinitive.
  6. Proverbs 21:12 tn In the book of Proverbs, the Hebrew term צַּדִּיק (tsaddiq) normally refers to a human being, and that is a possible translation here (cf. KJV, ASV, NAB), although it would have to refer to a righteous person who was a judge or a ruler with the right to destroy the wicked. Many commentators and English versions simply interpret this as a reference to God (cf. NIV, NRSV, TEV, NLT).
  7. Proverbs 21:12 tn The form מַשְׂכִּיל (maskil) is now used with the meaning “to consider; to give attention to; to ponder.” It is the careful scrutiny that is given to the household of the wicked before judgment is poured out on them.
  8. Proverbs 21:12 tn Heb “house.” This term probably means “household” here—the family. One way to read the line is that the righteous judge (human or divine) takes into consideration the wicked person’s family before judging the wicked person. The other—and more plausible—interpretation is that the judge considers the household of the wicked and then on the basis of what was observed judges them.
  9. Proverbs 21:12 tn Heb “to evil” (i.e., catastrophe); cf. NLT “to disaster.”

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