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Proverbs 26:7-9 New English Translation (NET Bible)

Like[a] legs dangle uselessly[b] from the lame,
so[c] a proverb[d] dangles[e] in the mouth of fools.
Like tying a stone in a sling,[f]
so is giving honor to a fool.
Like[g] a thorn[h] has gone up into the hand of a drunkard,
so[i] a proverb has gone up[j] into the mouth of a fool.[k]

Footnotes:

  1. Proverbs 26:7 tn The line does not start with the comparative preposition כ(kaf) “like,” but the proverb clearly invites comparison between the two lines.
  2. Proverbs 26:7 tn Heb “thighs dangle from the lame.” The verb is דַּלְיוּ (dalyu), from דָּלָה (dalah) or דָּלַל (dalal) biforms which mean “to hang down” and possibly by extension “to let down/lower/be low” and “to draw [water]” i.e., lowering a bucket into a well and drawing it up. We might imagine paralyzed legs either as “dangling” or “pulled up” to a stable position where a person sits, both indicating the uselessness of the legs—they are there but cannot be used. Since the verb must function in both halves of the verse, “dangling” is the most likely picture. Luther gave the verse a fanciful but memorable rendering: “Like dancing to a cripple, so is a proverb in the mouth of the fool.”
  3. Proverbs 26:7 tn Because of the analogy within the verse, indicated in translation by supplying “like,” the conjunction vav has been translated “so.”
  4. Proverbs 26:7 sn As C. H. Toy puts it, the fool is a “proverb-monger” (Proverbs [ICC], 474); he handles an aphorism about as well as a lame man can walk. The fool does not understand, has not implemented, and cannot explain the proverb. It is useless to him even though he repeats it.
  5. Proverbs 26:7 tn The verb has been supplied from the first colon because of the convention of ellipsis and double duty (omitting a word in one line which is understood to apply from another line).
  6. Proverbs 26:8 tn The translation “like tying a stone in a sling” seems to make the most sense, even though the word for “sling” occurs only here. sn The point is that only someone who does not know how a sling works would do such a stupid thing (R. N. Whybray, Proverbs [CBC], 152). So to honor a fool would be absurd; it would be counterproductive, for he would still be a fool.
  7. Proverbs 26:9 tn The line does not start with the comparative preposition כ (kaf) “like,” but the proverb clearly invites comparison between the two lines.
  8. Proverbs 26:9 sn The picture is one of seizing a thornbush and having the thorn pierce the hand (עָלָה בְיַד־, ʿalah veyad). A drunk does not know how to handle a thornbush because he cannot control his movements and so gets hurt (W. McKane, Proverbs [OTL], 599). C. H. Toy suggests that this rather means a half-crazy drunken man brandishing a stick (Proverbs [ICC], 475). In this regard cf. NLT “a thornbush brandished by a drunkard.”
  9. Proverbs 26:9 tn Because of the analogy within the verse, indicated in translation by supplying “like,” the conjunction vav has been translated “so.”
  10. Proverbs 26:9 tn The verb has been supplied from the first colon because of the convention of ellipsis and double duty (omitting a word in one line which is understood to apply from another line).
  11. Proverbs 26:9 sn A fool can read or speak a proverb but will be intellectually and spiritually unable to handle it; he will misapply it or misuse it in some way. In doing so he will reveal more of his folly. It is painful to hear fools try to use proverbs.
New English Translation (NET)

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