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Chapter 28

The wicked flee though none pursue;
    but the just, like a lion, are confident.
If a land is rebellious, its princes will be many;
    but with an intelligent and wise ruler there is stability.[a]
One who is poor and extorts from the lowly
    is a devastating rain that leaves no food.[b]
Those who abandon instruction[c] praise the wicked,
    but those who keep instruction oppose them.
The evil understand nothing of justice,[d]
    but those who seek the Lord understand everything.
Better to be poor and walk in integrity
    than rich and crooked in one’s ways.(A)
Whoever heeds instruction is a wise son,
    but whoever joins with wastrels disgraces his father.
Whoever amasses wealth by interest and overcharge[e]
    gathers it for the one who is kind to the poor.
Those who turn their ears from hearing instruction,(B)
    even their prayer is an abomination.
10 Those who mislead the upright into an evil way
    will themselves fall into their own pit,
    but the blameless will attain prosperity.
11 The rich are wise in their own eyes,
    but the poor who are intelligent see through them.
12 When the just triumph, there is great glory;
    but when the wicked prevail, people hide.[f]
13 Those who conceal their sins do not prosper,
    but those who confess and forsake them obtain mercy.[g]
14 Happy those who always fear;[h]
    but those who harden their hearts fall into evil.
15 A roaring lion or a ravenous bear
    is a wicked ruler over a poor people.
16 The less prudent the rulers, the more oppressive their deeds.
    Those who hate ill-gotten gain prolong their days.
17 Though a person burdened with blood guilt is in flight even to the grave,
    let no one offer support.
18 Whoever walks blamelessly is safe,
    but one whose ways are crooked falls into a pit.
19 Those who cultivate their land will have plenty of food,
    but those who engage in idle pursuits will have plenty of want.(C)
20 The trustworthy will be richly blessed;
    but whoever hastens to be rich will not go unpunished.(D)
21 To show partiality is never good:(E)
    for even a morsel of bread one may do wrong.[i]
22 Misers hurry toward wealth,
    not knowing that want is coming toward them.[j]
23 Whoever rebukes another wins more favor
    than one who flatters with the tongue.
24 Whoever defrauds father or mother and says, “It is no sin,”(F)
    is a partner to a brigand.
25 The greedy person stirs up strife,
    but the one who trusts in the Lord will prosper.
26 Those who trust in themselves are fools,
    but those who walk in wisdom are safe.
27 Those who give to the poor have no lack,(G)
    but those who avert their eyes, many curses.
28 When the wicked prevail, people hide;
    but at their fall the just abound.(H)


  1. 28:2 The first line expresses the paradox that rebellion, far from doing away with rulers, actually multiplies them. The second line is corrupt.
  2. 28:3 The reference may be to tax farmers who collected taxes and took a commission. The collectors’ lack of wealth was the cause of their oppression of poor farmers. They are like a rain too violent to allow crops to grow.
  3. 28:4 Instruction: torah; the word is used both for the teaching of the wise and the law of Moses.
  4. 28:5 Understanding nothing of justice plays on the twofold sense of justice as righteousness and as punishment that comes on the wicked. On the other hand, those who seek the Lord understand everything, i.e., that the Lord punishes the wicked and rewards the righteous (themselves).
  5. 28:8 Interest and overcharge were strictly forbidden in the old law among Israelites because it was presumed that the borrower was in distress; cf. Ex 22:25; Lv 25:35–37; Dt 23:20; Ps 15:5; Ez 18:8. Divine providence will take the offender’s wealth; cf. Eccl 2:26.
  6. 28:12 People react in opposite ways to the triumph of good and evil. To the triumph of good, they react by public display, public celebration, and to the triumph of evil, by hiding.
  7. 28:13 Concealing the faults of another is a good thing in Proverbs (17:9), but concealing one’s own sins is not. Ps 32:1–5 expresses the anguish caused by concealing one’s sins rather than bringing them to light so they can be healed by God.
  8. 28:14 Fear is a different verb than in the phrase “to fear (or revere) the Lord.” In its only other biblical occurrence (Is 51:13), the verb means to dread an oppressor. The saying states a paradox: those who fear in the sense of being cautious are declared happy, whereas those who are fearless will fall into traps they did not “fear.” In short, there is good fear and bad fear.
  9. 28:21 Cf. 24:23. Verse 21b warns that even in a light matter one must remain impartial.
  10. 28:22 “Bad of eye” is the Hebrew idiom for miserly. Misers fail to see that poverty is hurrying toward them because of their wrong attitude toward wealth. Because misers are “bad of eye,” they do not see the danger.

28 The wicked flee(A) though no one pursues,(B)
    but the righteous are as bold as a lion.(C)

When a country is rebellious, it has many rulers,
    but a ruler with discernment and knowledge maintains order.

A ruler[a] who oppresses the poor
    is like a driving rain that leaves no crops.

Those who forsake instruction praise the wicked,
    but those who heed it resist them.

Evildoers do not understand what is right,
    but those who seek the Lord understand it fully.

Better the poor whose walk is blameless
    than the rich whose ways are perverse.(D)

A discerning son heeds instruction,
    but a companion of gluttons disgraces his father.(E)

Whoever increases wealth by taking interest(F) or profit from the poor
    amasses it for another,(G) who will be kind to the poor.(H)

If anyone turns a deaf ear to my instruction,
    even their prayers are detestable.(I)

10 Whoever leads the upright along an evil path
    will fall into their own trap,(J)
    but the blameless will receive a good inheritance.

11 The rich are wise in their own eyes;
    one who is poor and discerning sees how deluded they are.

12 When the righteous triumph, there is great elation;(K)
    but when the wicked rise to power, people go into hiding.(L)

13 Whoever conceals their sins(M) does not prosper,
    but the one who confesses(N) and renounces them finds mercy.(O)

14 Blessed is the one who always trembles before God,
    but whoever hardens their heart falls into trouble.

15 Like a roaring lion or a charging bear
    is a wicked ruler over a helpless people.

16 A tyrannical ruler practices extortion,
    but one who hates ill-gotten gain will enjoy a long reign.

17 Anyone tormented by the guilt of murder
    will seek refuge(P) in the grave;
    let no one hold them back.

18 The one whose walk is blameless is kept safe,(Q)
    but the one whose ways are perverse will fall(R) into the pit.[b]

19 Those who work their land will have abundant food,
    but those who chase fantasies will have their fill of poverty.(S)

20 A faithful person will be richly blessed,
    but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished.(T)

21 To show partiality(U) is not good(V)
    yet a person will do wrong for a piece of bread.(W)

22 The stingy are eager to get rich
    and are unaware that poverty awaits them.(X)

23 Whoever rebukes a person will in the end gain favor
    rather than one who has a flattering tongue.(Y)

24 Whoever robs their father or mother(Z)
    and says, “It’s not wrong,”
    is partner to one who destroys.(AA)

25 The greedy stir up conflict,(AB)
    but those who trust in the Lord(AC) will prosper.

26 Those who trust in themselves are fools,(AD)
    but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe.(AE)

27 Those who give to the poor will lack nothing,(AF)
    but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses.(AG)

28 When the wicked rise to power, people go into hiding;(AH)
    but when the wicked perish, the righteous thrive.


  1. Proverbs 28:3 Or A poor person
  2. Proverbs 28:18 Syriac (see Septuagint); Hebrew into one