New English Translation
19 Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity[a]
than one who is perverse in his speech[b] and is a fool.[c]
2 It is dangerous[d] to have zeal[e] without knowledge,
and the one who acts hastily[f] makes poor choices.[g]
3 A person’s folly[h] subverts[i] his way,
and[j] his heart rages[k] against the Lord.
4 Wealth adds many friends,
but a poor person is separated[l] from his friend.[m]
5 A false witness[n] will not go unpunished,
and the one who spouts out[o] lies will not escape punishment.[p]
6 Many people entreat the favor[q] of a generous person,[r]
and everyone is the friend[s] of the person who gives gifts.[t]
7 All the relatives[u] of a poor person hate him;[v]
how much more do his friends avoid[w] him—
one who chases words, which are nothing.[x]
8 The one who acquires understanding[y] loves himself;[z]
the one who preserves understanding will prosper.[aa]
9 A false witness will not go unpunished,
and the one who spouts out[ab] lies will perish.[ac]
10 Luxury is not appropriate[ad] for a fool;[ae]
how much less for a servant to rule over princes![af]
11 A person’s wisdom[ag] has made him slow to anger,[ah]
and it is his glory[ai] to overlook[aj] an offense.
12 A king’s wrath is like[ak] the roar of a lion,[al]
but his favor is like dew on the grass.[am]
13 A foolish child[an] is the ruin of his father,
and a contentious wife[ao] is like[ap] a constant dripping.[aq]
14 A house and wealth are inherited from parents,[ar]
but a prudent wife[as] is from the Lord.
15 Laziness brings on[at] a deep sleep,[au]
and the idle person[av] will go hungry.[aw]
16 The one who obeys commandments guards[ax] his life;
the one who despises his ways[ay] will die.[az]
17 The one who is gracious to[ba] the poor lends to[bb] the Lord,
and the Lord[bc] will repay him[bd] for his good deed.[be]
18 Discipline your child, for[bf] there is hope,
but do not set your heart on causing his death.[bg]
19 A person with great anger bears the penalty,[bh]
but if you deliver him from it once, you will have to do it again.[bi]
20 Listen to advice[bj] and receive discipline,
that[bk] you may become wise[bl] by the end of your life.[bm]
21 There are many plans[bn] in a person’s mind,[bo]
but it[bp] is the counsel[bq] of the Lord that will stand.
22 What is desirable[br] for a person is to show loyal love,[bs]
and a poor person is better than a liar.[bt]
23 Fearing the Lord[bu] leads[bv] to life,[bw]
and one who does so will live[bx] satisfied; he will not be afflicted[by] by calamity.
24 The sluggard has plunged[bz] his hand into the dish,
and he will not even bring it back to his mouth![ca]
25 Flog[cb] a scorner, and as a result the simpleton[cc] will learn prudence;[cd]
correct a discerning person, and as a result he will understand knowledge.[ce]
26 The one who robs[cf] his father[cg] and chases away his mother
is a son[ch] who brings shame and disgrace.
27 If you stop listening to[ci] instruction, my child,
you will stray[cj] from the words of knowledge.
28 A crooked witness[ck] scorns justice,
and the mouth of the wicked devours[cl] iniquity.
29 Penalties[cm] have been prepared[cn] for scorners,
and floggings for the backs of fools.
- Proverbs 19:1 sn People should follow honesty even if it leads to poverty (e.g., Prov 18:23; 19:22).
- Proverbs 19:1 tn Heb “lips.” The term “lips” is a metonymy for what one says with his lips. The expression “perverse in his lips” refers to speech that is morally perverted. Some medieval Hebrew mss, the Syriac, and Tg. Prov 19:1 have “his ways” rather than “his lips” (e.g., Prov 28:6); cf. NAB.
- Proverbs 19:1 tc The Syriac and Tg. Prov 19:1 read “rich” instead of MT “fool.” This makes tighter antithetical parallelism than MT and is followed by NAB. However, the MT makes sense as it stands; this is an example of metonymical parallelism. The MT reading is also supported by the LXX. The Hebrew construction uses וְהוּא (vehuʾ), “and he [is],” before “fool.” This may be rendered “one who is perverse while a fool” or “a fool at the same time.”
- Proverbs 19:2 tn Heb “not good.” This is a figure known as tapeinosis (a deliberate understatement to emphasize a worst-case scenario): “it is dangerous!”
- Proverbs 19:2 tn The interpretation of this line depends largely on the meaning of נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh) which has a broad range of meanings: (1) the breathing substance of man, (2) living being, (3) life, (4) person, (5) seat of the appetites, (6) seat of emotions and passions, (7) activities of intellect, emotion and will, (8) moral character, etc. (BDB 659-61 s.v.). In light of the synonymous parallelism, the most likely nuance here is “zeal, passion” (HALOT 713 s.v. 8). NIV takes the word in the sense of “vitality” and “drive”—“it is not good to have zeal without knowledge” (cf. NCV, TEV, and NLT which are all similar).
- Proverbs 19:2 tn Heb “he who is hasty with his feet.” The verb אוּץ (ʾuts) means “to be pressed; to press; to make haste.” The verb is followed by the preposition ב (bet) which indicates that with which one hastens—his feet. The word “feet” is a synecdoche of part for the whole person—body and mind working together (cf. NLT “a person who moves too quickly”).
- Proverbs 19:2 tn Heb “misses the goal.” The participle חוֹטֵא (khoteʾ) can be translated “sins” (cf. KJV, ASV), but in this context it refers only to actions without knowledge, which could lead to sin, or could lead simply to making poor choices (cf. NAB “blunders”; NASB “errs”; NCV “might make a mistake”). sn The basic meaning of the verb is “to miss a goal or the way.” D. Kidner says, “How negative is the achievement of a man who wants tangible and quick rewards”—he will miss the way (Proverbs [TOTC], 132).
- Proverbs 19:3 tn Heb “the folly of a man.”
- Proverbs 19:3 tn The verb סָלַף (salaf) normally means “to twist; to pervert; to overturn,” but in this context it means “to subvert” (BDB 701 s.v.); cf. ASV “subverteth.” sn J. H. Greenstone comments: “Man’s own failures are the result of his own folly and should not be attributed to God” (Proverbs, 201).
- Proverbs 19:3 tn The clause begins with vav on the nonverb phrase “against the Lord.” While clause structure and word order is less compelling in a book like Proverbs, this fits well as a circumstantial clause indicating concession.
- Proverbs 19:3 sn The “heart raging” is a metonymy of cause (or adjunct); it represents the emotions that will lead to blaming God for the frustration. Genesis 42:28 offers a calmer illustration of this as the brothers ask what God was doing to them.
- Proverbs 19:4 tn The Niphal imperfect probably should be taken in the passive sense (the poor person is deserted by his “friend,” cf. NAB, NIV) rather than as a direct middle (the poor person deserted his friend).
- Proverbs 19:4 sn This proverb simply makes an observation on life: People pursue wealthy folk hoping that they can gain something from the rich, but the poor are deserted even by friends, who fear that the poor will try to gain something from them.
- Proverbs 19:5 tn Heb “a witness of lies.” This expression is an attributive genitive: “a lying witness” (cf. CEV “dishonest witnesses”). This is paralleled by “the one who pours out lies.”
- Proverbs 19:5 tn Heb “breathes out”; NAB “utters”; NIV “pours out.”
- Proverbs 19:5 tn Heb “will not escape” (so NAB, NASB); NIV “will not go free.” Here “punishment” is implied, and has been supplied in the translation for clarity. sn This proverb is a general statement, because on occasion there are false witnesses who go unpunished in this life (e.g., Prov 6:19; 14:5, 25; 19:9). The Talmud affirms, “False witnesses are contemptible even to those who hire them” (b. Sanhedrin 29b).
- Proverbs 19:6 tn The verb יְחַלּוּ (yekhallu) is a Piel imperfect of חָלָה (khalah) meaning “to seek favor; to entreat favor; to mollify; to appease”; cf. NIV “curry favor.” It literally means “making the face of someone sweet or pleasant,” as in stroking the face. To “entreat the favor” of someone is to induce him to show favor; the action aims at receiving gifts, benefits, or any other kind of success. sn The Hebrew verb translated “entreat the favor” is often used to express prayer when God is the one whose favor is being sought; here it is the prince who can grant requests.
- Proverbs 19:6 tn Heb “the face of a generous man”; ASV “the liberal man.” The term “face” is a synecdoche of part (= face) for the whole (= person).
- Proverbs 19:6 sn The proverb acknowledges the fact of life, but it also reminds people of the value of gifts in life, especially in business or in politics.
- Proverbs 19:6 tn Heb “a man of gifts.” This could be (1) attributive genitive: a man characterized by giving gifts or (2) objective genitive: a man who gives gifts (IBHS 146 §9.5.2b).
- Proverbs 19:7 tn Heb “brothers,” but not limited only to male siblings in this context.
- Proverbs 19:7 tn Heb “hate him.” The verb שָׂנֵא (saneʾ) may be nuanced “reject” here (metonymy of effect, cf. CEV). The kind of “dislike” or “hatred” family members show to a poor relative is to have nothing to do with him (NIV “is shunned”). If relatives do this, how much more will the poor person’s friends do so.
- Proverbs 19:7 tn Heb “his friends are far from him.”
- Proverbs 19:7 tc The section titled “proverbs of Solomon” (10:1-22:16) has 375 proverbs. 374 are two-line proverbs, while this three-line proverb has a difficult and awkward third line. The LXX has three two-line proverbs where this one verse is in the Hebrew text. The second proverb in the Greek text is separate and self contained; the third has some correlation to the stray third line in the Hebrew Masoretic text. Assuming the LXX points to an original two-line Hebrew proverb, Delitzsch proposed two Hebrew texts possibly lying behind the Greek. The reconstructed text would begin with “the friend of many is repaid with harm” and end with either (1) “the one who pursues words [=rumors] will not escape” or (2) “chasing words which are not [=nothing]” (Delitzsch, Proverbs I, 15; Proverbs II, 25). The first option best reflects the Greek, while the second option reflects the existing Hebrew. Besides the issue raised by the LXX, the Hebrew itself differs in tradition, with the Kethib reading the final two words as “they are not” (לֹא הֵמָּה; loʾ hemmah) and the Qere reading “they are his” (לוֹ הֵמָּה; lo hemmah). Unless other manuscript evidence comes to light, the text cannot be recovered with certainty.tn Different solutions have been proposed for the problematic last line of the verse. One perspective is that his attempts at friendship result only in empty words (words which are not). Another that he pursues words (spoken by family and friends) but only the words belong to him (they are his). Another supplies missing (but implied?) elements, “he pursues [them with] words, but they [do] not [respond].” Since they are far off, he has to look for them “with words” (adverbial accusative), that is, “send word” for help. But they “are nowhere to be found” (so NIV). The basic idea is of his family and friends rejecting the poor person, revealing how superficial they are, and making themselves scarce.
- Proverbs 19:8 tn The term לֵב (lev, “mind, heart”) is used as a metonymy of association for what one does with the mind (thinking), and so refers to discernment, wisdom, good sense. Most English versions translate as “wisdom” or “sense” but cf. NAB “intelligence.”
- Proverbs 19:8 tn Heb “his own soul.” The expression “loves his soul” means that he is paying attention to his needs or taking care of his life (cf. NAB “is his own best friend”). This expression works with its parallel to provide the whole idea: “loving the soul” is the metonymy of the cause for prospering, and “prospering” is the metonymy of the effect (of loving).
- Proverbs 19:8 tn Heb “finds good” (similar KJV, NASB); NCV “will succeed.” The MT reads לִמְצֹא (limtsoʾ), a Qal infinitive construct. The LXX (as well as the other major early versions) renders it as a future, which reflects a Vorlage of יִמְצָא (yimtsaʾ). The infinitive is used here in a modal sense, meaning “is destined to” or “is certain of” finding good in life.
- Proverbs 19:9 tn Heb “breathes out”; NAB “utters”; NIV “pours out.”
- Proverbs 19:9 sn The verse is the same as v. 5, except that the last word changes to the verb “will perish” (cf. NCV “will die”; CEV, NLT “will be destroyed”; TEV “is doomed”).
- Proverbs 19:10 tn The form נָאוֶה (naʾveh) is an adjective meaning “seemly; comely” in the older English versions like KJV, ASV, “fitting” in more recent ones (e.g., NASB, NIV, NRSV). The verbal root נוֹה (noh) only occurs in the Pilel stem, but it also has the basic meaning of “being fitting; being comely.” In this sentence the form is a predicate adjective.
- Proverbs 19:10 sn The verse is simply observing two things that are misfits. It is not concerned with a fool who changes and can handle wealth, or a servant who changes to become a nobleman. It is focused on things that are incongruous.
- Proverbs 19:10 sn In the ancient world the prince would be trained for his rule (hence, one of the original purposes of Proverbs). A slave ruling over princes would be arrogant and cruel, or foolish and unwise. For other unbearable things, e.g., 11:22; 17:7; 26:1; 30:21-23.
- Proverbs 19:11 tn Or “prudence,” the successful use of wisdom in discretion. Cf. NAB, NRSV, NLT “good sense.”
- Proverbs 19:11 tn Heb “has slowed his anger.” The Hiphil perfect of אָרַךְ (ʾarakh, “to be long”) means “to make long; to prolong.” As the perfect form of a dynamic verb it should understood as past or perfective. Having developed an insightful perspective has resulted in not being quick to respond in anger.
- Proverbs 19:11 sn “Glory” signifies the idea of beauty or adornment. D. Kidner explains that such patience “brings out here the glowing colours of a virtue which in practice may look drably unassertive” (Proverbs [TOTC], 133).
- Proverbs 19:11 tn Heb “to pass over” (so KJV, ASV); NCV, TEV “ignore.” The infinitive construct עֲבֹר (ʿavor) functions as the formal subject of the sentence. This clause provides the cause, whereas the former gave the effect—if one can pass over an offense there will be no anger.sn W. McKane says, “The virtue which is indicated here is more than a forgiving temper; it includes also the ability to shrug off insults and the absence of a brooding hypersensitivity…. It contains elements of toughness and self-discipline; it is the capacity to stifle a hot, emotional rejoinder and to sleep on an insult” (Proverbs [OTL], 530).
- Proverbs 19:12 sn The verse contrasts the “rage” of the king with his “favor” by using two similes. The first simile presents the king at his most dangerous—his anger (e.g., 20:2; Amos 3:4). The second simile presents his favor as beneficial for life (e.g., 16:14-15; 28:15).
- Proverbs 19:12 tn Heb “is a roaring like a lion.”
- Proverbs 19:12 sn The proverb makes an observation about a king’s power to terrify or to refresh. It advises people to use tact with a king.
- Proverbs 19:13 tn Heb “a foolish son” (so KJV, NAB, NIV, CEV); NRSV “a stupid child.”
- Proverbs 19:13 tn Heb “the contentions of a wife” (so KJV, NASB); NAB “the nagging of a wife.” The genitive could be interpreted (1) as genitive of source or subjective genitive—she is quarreling; or (2) it could be a genitive of specification, making the word “contentions” a modifier, as in the present translation.
- Proverbs 19:13 tn Heb “is a constant dripping.” The term “like” does not appear in the Hebrew but is supplied in the translation for the sake of clarity. The metaphor pictures water dropping (perhaps rain through the roof, cf. NRSV, CEV) in a continuous flow: It is annoying and irritating (e.g., Prov 27:15-16).
- Proverbs 19:13 tc The LXX makes this moralistic statement for 13b: “vows paid out of hire of a harlot are not pure.” It is not based on the MT and attempts to reconstruct a text using this have been unsuccessful.
- Proverbs 19:14 tn Heb “inheritance of fathers” (so KJV, ASV, NASB).
- Proverbs 19:14 sn This statement describes a wife who has a skillful use of knowledge and discretion that proves to be successful. This contrasts with the preceding verse. The proverb is not concerned about unhappy marriages or bad wives (both of which exist); it simply affirms that when a marriage works out well one should credit it as a gift from God.
- Proverbs 19:15 tn Heb “causes to fall” or “casts”; NAB “plunges…into.”
- Proverbs 19:15 tn Or “complete inactivity”; the word תַּרְדֵּמָה (tardemah) can refer to a physical “deep sleep” (e.g., Gen 2:21; Jonah 1:5, 6), but it can also be used figuratively for complete inactivity, as other words for “sleep” can. Here it refers to lethargy or debility and morbidness.
- Proverbs 19:15 tn The expression וְנֶפֶשׁ רְמִיָּה (venefesh remiyyah) can be translated “the soul of deceit” or “the soul of slackness.” There are two identical feminine nouns, one from the verb “beguile,” and the other from a cognate Arabic root “grow loose.” The second is more likely here in view of the parallelism (cf. NIV “a shiftless man”; NAB “the sluggard”). One who is slack, that is, idle, will go hungry.
- Proverbs 19:15 sn The two lines are related in a metonymical sense: “deep sleep” is the cause of going hungry, and “going hungry” is the effect of deep sleep.
- Proverbs 19:16 tn The verb שָׁמַר (shamar) is repeated twice in this line but with two different senses, creating a polysemantic wordplay: “he who obeys/keeps (ֹֹשֹמֵר, shomer) the commandment safeguards/keeps (שֹׁמֵר, shomer) his life.”
- Proverbs 19:16 sn The expression his ways could refer either (1) to the conduct of the individual himself, or (2) to the commandments as the Lord’s ways. If the latter is the case, then the punishment is more certain.
- Proverbs 19:16 tc The Kethib is יוּמָת (yumat), “will be put to death,” while the Qere reads יָמוּת (yamut, “will die”). The Qere is the preferred reading and is followed by most English versions.
- Proverbs 19:17 sn The participle חוֹנֵן (khonen, “shows favor to”) is related to the word for “grace.” The activity here is the kind favor shown poor people for no particular reason and with no hope of repayment. It is literally an act of grace.
- Proverbs 19:17 tn The form מַלְוֵה (malveh) is the Hiphil participle from לָוָה (lavah) in construct; it means “to cause to borrow; to lend.” The expression here is “lender of the Lord.” The person who helps the poor becomes the creditor of God.
- Proverbs 19:17 tn Heb “he.” The referent of the third person masculine singular pronoun is “the Lord” in the preceding line, which has been supplied here in the translation for clarity.
- Proverbs 19:17 sn The promise of reward does not necessarily mean that the person who gives to the poor will get money back; the rewards in the book of Proverbs involve life and prosperity in general.
- Proverbs 19:17 tn Heb “and his good deed will repay him.” The word גְּמֻלוֹ (gemulo) could be (1) the subject or (2) part of a double accusative of the verb. Understanding it as part of the double accusative makes better sense, for then the subject of the verb is God. How “his deed” could repay him is not immediately obvious.
- Proverbs 19:18 tn The translation understands כִּי (ki) as causal. Some prefer to take כִּי as temporal and translate, “while there is hope” (so KJV, NASB, NCV, NRSV, NLT), meaning that discipline should be administered when the child is young and easily guided. In the causal reading of כִּי, the idea seems to be that children should be disciplined because change is possible due to their youth and the fact that they are not set in their ways.
- Proverbs 19:18 tc The word הֲמִיתוֹ (hamito) is the Hiphil infinitive construct of מוּת (mut, “to die”) plus third masculine singular suffix, “to cause/allow his death.” The LXX gives “do not lift up your soul to excess,” perhaps having read חֵמוֹת (khemot, “anger, rage”) with a ח (het) instead of a ה (he) and without the suffix. The KJV rendered as “let not thy soul spare for his crying.” Perhaps they read as if from the similar sounding root מוּט (mut, “to shudder,” as in “at making him shudder”) or from the verb הָמָה (hamah, “to murmur, be in commotion”), whose Qal infinitive construct with suffix would be הֲמוֹתוֹ (hamoto). It is not clear that either of these latter roots should be associated with crying.tn The expression “lift up your soul” is unclear. It may mean “to set your heart on something” as in determining to do it, perhaps even determining a course of action that leads to unintended results. Or it may mean “to remove your soul from something,” as in withdrawing from a course of action. Several possibilities arise for understanding this verse. The two most likely are to “not set your heart on causing (i.e., contributing to) his death” or to “not withdraw your soul [from disciplining as you should] resulting in causing his death.” These have the same effect of warning against failing to discipline to the ruin of the undisciplined child. T. Longman calls this the most natural reading, consistent with Prov 23:13-14 (Proverbs 370). Less likely, it may warn against being extreme in punishment (any capital punishment should go before the elders, see Deut 21:18-21).
- Proverbs 19:19 sn The Hebrew word means “indemnity, fine”; this suggests that the trouble could be legal, and the angry person has to pay for it.
- Proverbs 19:19 tn The second colon of the verse is very difficult, and there have been many proposals as to its meaning: (1) “If you save [your enemy], you will add [good to yourself]”; (2) “If you save [your son by chastening], you may continue [chastisement and so educate him]”; (3) “If you deliver [him by paying the fine for him once], you will have to do it again”; (4) “If you save [him this time], you will have to increase [the punishment later on].” All interpretations have to supply a considerable amount of material (indicated by brackets). Many English versions are similar to (3).
- Proverbs 19:20 sn The advice refers in all probability to the teachings of the sages that will make one wise.
- Proverbs 19:20 tn The proverb is one continuous thought, but the second half of the verse provides the purpose for the imperatives of the first half.
- Proverbs 19:20 tn The imperfect tense has the nuance of a final imperfect in a purpose clause, and so is translated “that you may become wise” (cf. NAB, NRSV).
- Proverbs 19:20 tn Heb “become wise in your latter end” (cf. KJV, ASV) which could obviously be misunderstood.
- Proverbs 19:21 sn The plans (from the Hebrew verb חָשַׁב [khashav], “to think; to reckon; to devise”) in the human heart are many. But only those which God approves will succeed.
- Proverbs 19:21 tn Heb “in the heart of a man” (cf. NAB, NIV). Here “heart” is used for the seat of thoughts, plans, and reasoning, so the translation uses “mind.” In contemporary English “heart” is more often associated with the seat of emotion than with the seat of planning and reasoning.
- Proverbs 19:21 tn Heb “but the counsel of the Lord, it will stand.” The construction draws attention to the “counsel of the Lord”; it is an independent nominative absolute, and the resumptive independent pronoun is the formal subject of the verb.
- Proverbs 19:21 tn The antithetical parallelism pairs “counsel” with “plans.” “Counsel of the Lord” (עֲצַת יְהוָה, ʿatsat yehvah) is literally “advice” or “counsel” with the connotation of “plan” in this context (cf. NIV, NRSV, NLT “purpose”; NCV “plan”; TEV “the Lord’s will”).sn The point of the proverb is that the human being with many plans is uncertain, but the Lord with a sure plan gives correct counsel.
- Proverbs 19:22 tn Heb “the desire of a man” (so KJV). The noun in construct is תַּאֲוַת (taʾavat), “desire [of].” Here it refers to “the desire of a man [= person].” Two problems surface here, the connotation of the word and the kind of genitive. “Desire” can also be translated “lust,” and so J. H. Greenstone has “The lust of a man is his shame” (Proverbs, 208). But the sentence is more likely positive in view of the more common uses of the words. “Man” could be a genitive of possession or subjective genitive—the man desires loyal love. It could also be an objective genitive, meaning “what is desired for a man.” The first would be the more natural in the proverb, which is showing that loyal love is better than wealth.
- Proverbs 19:22 tn Heb “[is] his loyal love”; NIV “unfailing love”; NRSV “loyalty.”
- Proverbs 19:22 sn The second half of the proverb presents the logical inference: The liar would be without “loyal love” entirely, and so poverty would be better than this. A poor person who wishes to do better is preferable to a person who makes promises and does not keep them.
- Proverbs 19:23 tn Heb “the fear of the Lord.” This expression features an objective genitive: “fearing the Lord.”
- Proverbs 19:23 tn The term “leads” does not appear in the Hebrew but is supplied in the translation for the sake of clarity and style.
- Proverbs 19:23 tn Here “life” is probably a metonymy of subject for “blessings and prosperity in life.” The plural form often covers a person’s “lifetime.”
- Proverbs 19:23 tn The subject of this verb is probably the one who fears the Lord and enjoys life. So the proverb uses synthetic parallelism; the second half tells what this life is like—it is an abiding contentment that is not threatened by calamity (cf. NCV “unbothered by trouble”).
- Proverbs 19:23 tn Heb “he will not be visited” (so KJV, ASV). The verb פָּקַד (paqad) is often translated “visit.” It describes intervention that will change the destiny. If God “visits” it means he intervenes to bless or to curse. To be “visited by trouble” means that calamity will interfere with the course of life and change the direction or the destiny. Therefore this is not referring to a minor trouble that one might briefly experience. A life in the Lord cannot be disrupted by such major catastrophes that would alter one’s destiny.
- Proverbs 19:24 tn Heb The verb תָּמַן (taman) means “to bury” (so many English versions) or “to hide” (so KJV). As the perfect form of a dynamic verb it should be understood as past or perfective. The proverb presents a scene where the sluggard has not just reached to the food in the dish but buried his hand in it. The second comment reveals that this is not a frozen frame, but a continuing scene revealing the extent of his laziness.
- Proverbs 19:24 sn This humorous portrayal is an exaggeration, but the point is that laziness opposes common sense and can thwart basic needs. It would have a wider application for anyone who would start a project and then lack the interest or energy to finish it (R. N. Whybray, Proverbs [CBC], 111). Ibn Ezra proposes that the dish was empty, because the sluggard was too lazy to provide for himself.
- Proverbs 19:25 tn The Hiphil imperfect תַּכֶּה (takkeh) is followed by another imperfect. It could be rendered: “strike a scorner [imperfect of instruction] and a simpleton will become prudent.” But the first of the parallel verbs can also be subordinated to the second as a temporal or conditional clause. Some English versions translate “beat” (NAB “if you beat an arrogant man”), but this could be understood to refer to competition rather than physical punishment. Therefore “flog” has been used in the translation, since it is normally associated with punishment or discipline.
- Proverbs 19:25 sn Different people learn differently. There are three types of people in this proverb: the scorner with a closed mind, the simpleton with an empty mind, and the discerning person with an open mind (D. Kidner, Proverbs [TOTC], 135). The simpleton learns by observing a scoffer being punished, even though the punishment will have no effect on the scoffer.
- Proverbs 19:25 sn The word is related to “shrewdness” (cf. 1:4). The simpleton will learn at least where the traps are and how to avoid them.
- Proverbs 19:25 tn The second half begins with הוֹכִיחַ (hokhiakh), the Hiphil infinitive construct. This parallels the imperfect tense beginning the first half; it forms a temporal or conditional clause as well, so that the main verb is “he will understand.”sn The discerning person will learn from verbal rebukes. The contrast is caught in a wordplay in the Midrash: “For the wise a hint [rʾmizo], for the fool a fist [kurmezo]” (Mishle 22:6).
- Proverbs 19:26 tn The construction joins the Piel participle מְשַׁדֶּד (meshadded, “one who robs”) with the Hiphil imperfect יַבְרִיחַ (yavriakh, “causes to flee” = chases away). The imperfect given a progressive imperfect nuance matches the timeless description of the participle as a substantive.
- Proverbs 19:26 sn “Father” and “mother” here represent a stereotypical word pair in the book of Proverbs, rather than describing separate crimes against each individual parent. Both crimes are against both parents.
- Proverbs 19:26 tn The more generic “child” does not fit the activities described in this verse and so “son” is retained in the translation. In the ancient world a “son” was more likely than a daughter to behave as stated. Such behavior may reflect the son wanting to take over his father’s lands prematurely.
- Proverbs 19:27 tn Heb “Stop listening…!” The infinitive construct לִשְׁמֹעַ (lishmoaʿ) functions as the direct object of the imperative: “stop heeding [or, listening to].” Of course in this proverb which shows the consequences of doing so, this is irony. The sage is instructing not to stop. The conditional protasis construction does not appear in the Hebrew but is supplied in the translation.
- Proverbs 19:27 tn The second line has an infinitive construct לִשְׁגוֹת (lishgot), meaning “to stray; to go astray; to err.” It indicates the result of the instruction—stop listening, and as a result you will go astray. The LXX took it differently: “A son who ceases to attend to discipline is likely to stray from words of knowledge.” RSV sees the final clause as the purpose of the instructions to be avoided: “do not listen to instructions to err.”
- Proverbs 19:28 tn Heb “a witness who is worthless and wicked” (עֵד בְּלִיַּעַל, ʿed beliyyaʿal). Cf. KJV “an ungodly witness”; NAB “an unprincipled witness”; NCV “an evil witness”; NASB “a rascally witness.”sn These are crooked or corrupt witnesses who willfully distort the facts and make a mockery of the whole legal process.
- Proverbs 19:28 tn The parallel line says the mouth of the wicked “gulps down” or “swallows” (יְבַלַּע, yevallaʿ) iniquity. The verb does not seem to fit the line (or the proverb) very well. Some have emended the text to יַבִּיעַ (yabbiaʿ, “gushes”) as in 15:28 (cf. NAB “pours out”). Driver followed an Arabic balaga to get “enunciates,” which works well with the idea of a false witness (W. McKane, Proverbs [OTL], 529). As it stands, however, the line indicates that in what he says the wicked person accepts evil—and that could describe a false witness.
- Proverbs 19:29 tc The MT reads שְׁפָטִים (shefatim from שֶׁפֶט, shephet), meaning “penalties; judgments.” The text might be מִשְׁפָּטִים (mishpatim) restoring a mem lost by haplography (the previous word ends with mem), and meaning “judicial decisions” (by extension “penalties”). The LXX reads “scourges,” a gloss it uses for שׁוֹטִים (shotim; cf. Prov 26:3), while some propose emending to שְׁבָטִים (shevatim) “rods” (cf. 23:14). Rods might be the instrument of the flogging mentioned in the second half of the verse, but any of the proposals conforms to the convention of parallelism. The main choice is between the MT as it stands and the LXX.
- Proverbs 19:29 tn The verb is a Niphal perfect of כוּן (kun) and may be past, as in “have been prepared,” or focused on the resulting state, as in “are ready.”
New International Version
19 Better the poor whose walk is blameless
than a fool whose lips are perverse.(A)
2 Desire without knowledge is not good—
how much more will hasty feet miss the way!(B)
4 Wealth attracts many friends,
but even the closest friend of the poor person deserts them.(E)
8 The one who gets wisdom loves life;
the one who cherishes understanding will soon prosper.(M)
9 A false witness will not go unpunished,
and whoever pours out lies will perish.(N)
11 A person’s wisdom yields patience;(Q)
it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.
15 Laziness brings on deep sleep,
and the shiftless go hungry.(Y)
16 Whoever keeps commandments keeps their life,
but whoever shows contempt for their ways will die.(Z)
18 Discipline your children, for in that there is hope;
do not be a willing party to their death.(AC)
19 A hot-tempered person must pay the penalty;
rescue them, and you will have to do it again.
21 Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.(AF)
22 What a person desires is unfailing love[b];
better to be poor than a liar.
23 The fear of the Lord leads to life;
then one rests content, untouched by trouble.(AG)
24 A sluggard buries his hand in the dish;
he will not even bring it back to his mouth!(AH)
26 Whoever robs their father and drives out their mother(AK)
is a child who brings shame and disgrace.
27 Stop listening to instruction, my son,(AL)
and you will stray from the words of knowledge.
28 A corrupt witness mocks at justice,
and the mouth of the wicked gulps down evil.(AM)
29 Penalties are prepared for mockers,
and beatings for the backs of fools.(AN)