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Proverbs 30:13-15 New English Translation (NET Bible)

13 There is a generation whose eyes are so lofty,[a]
and whose eyelids are lifted up disdainfully.[b]
14 There is a generation whose teeth are like[c] swords[d]
and whose molars[e] are like knives
to devour[f] the poor from the earth
and the needy from among the human race.
15 The leech[g] has two daughters:[h]
“Give! Give!”[i]
There are three things that will[j] never be satisfied,
four[k] that have never said, “Enough”[l]


  1. Proverbs 30:13 tn Heb “how high are its eyes!” This is a use of the interrogative pronoun in exclamatory sentences (R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 25, §127).
  2. Proverbs 30:13 tn Heb “its eyelids are lifted up,” a gesture indicating arrogance and contempt or disdain for others. To make this clear, the present translation supplies the adverb “disdainfully” at the end of the verse.sn The verbs “to be high” (translated “are…lofty”) and “to be lifted up” depict arrogance and disdain for others. The emphasis on the eyes and eyelids (parasynonyms in poetry) is employed because the glance, the look, is the immediate evidence of contempt for others (e.g., also 6:17 and Ps 131:1).
  3. Proverbs 30:14 tn The comparative “like” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is implied by the metaphor; it is supplied in the translation for the sake of clarity.
  4. Proverbs 30:14 sn There are two figures used in each of these lines: teeth/great teeth and “swords/knives.” The term “teeth” is a metonymy for the process of chewing and eating. This goes with the figure of the second half of the verse that speaks about “devouring” the poor—so the whole image of eating and chewing refers to destroying the poor (an implied comparison). The figures of “swords/knives” are metaphors within this image. Comparing teeth to swords means that they are sharp and powerful. The imagery captures the rapacity of their power.
  5. Proverbs 30:14 tn Heb “teeth” (so NRSV) or “jaw teeth” (so KJV, ASV, NASB) or perhaps “jawbone.” This is a different Hebrew word for “teeth” than the one in the previous line; if it refers to “jaw teeth” then a translation like “molars” would be appropriate, although this image might not fit with the metaphor (“like knives”) unless the other teeth, the incisors or front teeth, are pictured as being even longer (“like swords”).
  6. Proverbs 30:14 tn The Hebrew form לֶאֱכֹל (leʾekhol) is the Qal infinitive construct; it indicates the purpose of this generation’s ruthless power—it is destructive. The figure is an implied comparison (known as hypocatastasis) between “devouring” and “destroying.”
  7. Proverbs 30:15 sn The next two verses describe insatiable things, things that are problematic to normal life. The meaning of v. 15a and its relationship to 15b is debated. But the “leech” seems to have been selected to begin the section because it was symbolic of greed—it sucks blood through its two suckers. This may be what the reference to two daughters calling “Give! Give!” might signify (if so, this is an implied comparison, a figure known as hypocatastasis).
  8. Proverbs 30:15 sn As one might expect, there have been various attempts to identify the “two daughters.” In the Rabbinic literature some identified Alukah (the “leech”) with Sheol, and the two daughters with paradise and hell, one claiming the righteous and the other the unrighteous; others identified Alukah with Gehenna, and the two daughters with heresy and government, neither of which is ever satisfied (Midrash Tehillim quoted by Rashi, a Jewish scholar who lived a.d. 1040-1105, and in the Talmud, b. Avodah Zarah 17a). J. J. Glueck suggests that what is in view is erotic passion (and not a leech) with its two maidens of burning desire crying for more (“Proverbs 30:15a, ” VT 14 [1964]: 367-70). F. S. North rightly criticizes this view as gratuitous; he argues for the view of a leech with two suckers (“The Four Insatiables,” VT 15 [1965]: 281-82).
  9. Proverbs 30:15 tn The two imperatives הַב הַב (hav hav, “give, give,” from יָהַב, yahav) correspond to the two daughters, and form their appeal. This would then be a personification—it is as if the leech is crying out, “Give! Give!”
  10. Proverbs 30:15 tn This verb is a Hebrew imperfect for the future tense, while the next verb is a Hebrew perfect for the perfective. Most translations render both as present tense “are satisfied…say” (KJV, NIV, ESV, Holman, while NASB gives both as future “will not be satisfied…will not say”). Using both the future and the past is more emphatic, these never have been and never will be satisfied.
  11. Proverbs 30:15 sn There is a noticeable rhetorical sequence here: two daughters, three things, four (see W. M. Roth, “The Numerical Sequence x / x +1 in the Old Testament,” VT 12 [1962]: 300-311, and “Numerical Sayings in the Old Testament,” VT 13 [1965]: 86). W. McKane thinks the series builds to a climax with the four, and in the four the barren woman is the focal point, the other three being metaphors for her sexual desire (Proverbs [OTL], 656). This interpretation is a minority view, however, and has not won widespread support.
  12. Proverbs 30:15 tn Throughout the book of Proverbs הוֹן (hon) means “wealth,” but here it has the nuance of “sufficiency” (cf. TEV, CEV, NLT “satisfied”) or “enough” (BDB 223 s.v.).
New English Translation (NET)

NET Bible® copyright ©1996-2017 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. http://netbible.com All rights reserved.


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