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Wise Words from Agur

30 These are the words of Agur son of Jakeh [C an otherwise unknown wise man].

·This is his message to Ithiel, to Ithiel and Ucal [or The utterance of the man, “I am weary, O God; I am weary, O God, and I am exhausted; C unclear whether these are proper names or verbs]:
“I am ·the most stupid person there is [a dullard/brute more than a human; Ps. 73:22],
    and I have no understanding.
I have not learned to be wise,
    and I don’t know much about ·God, the Holy One [or the holy ones; C a reference to angels].
Who has gone up to heaven and come back down [John 3:12–13]?
    Who can hold the wind ·in his hand [or by the handful; Gen. 8:1; Ex. 10:13; 15:10; Num. 11:31; Amos 4:13]?
Who can gather up the waters in his coat [Job 26:8]?
    Who has set in place the ends of the earth [8:27–29]?
What is his name or his son’s name?
    Tell me, if you know!

“Every word of God ·is true [passes the test; L is refined; 2 Sam. 22:31; Ps. 18:30].
    ·He guards those [L They are a shield to those] who come to him for ·safety [refuge].
Do not add to his words [Deut. 4:2; 12:32],
    or he will correct you and prove you are a liar.

“I ask two things from you, Lord.
    Don’t ·refuse [withhold them from] me before I die.
Keep me from lying and ·being dishonest [fraud].
    And don’t make me either rich or poor;
    just give me enough food for each day [Matt. 6:11; 1 Tim. 6:8].
If I ·have too much [am sated/satisfied], I might ·reject [deny] you
    and say, ‘·I don’t know the Lord [L Who is the Lord?]
If I am poor, I might steal
    and ·disgrace [profane] the name of my God.

10 “Do not ·say bad things about [slander] servants to their masters,
or they will curse you, and you will suffer for it [Eccl. 7:21–22].

11 “Some people curse their fathers
    and do not bless their mothers [Ex. 20:12; 21:17].
12 Some people think they are pure,
    but they ·are not really free from evil [L have not cleaned off their own excrement; Deut. 23:12–14].
13 Some people have such ·a proud look [haughty eyes]!
    They ·look down on others [L raise their eyebrows; Ps. 131].
14 Some people have teeth like swords;
    their jaws ·seem full of knives [are a butcher’s knife; C their words hurt people].
They want to ·remove [L consume] the poor from the earth
    and the needy from the ·land [or humanity].

15 “·Greed [L The leech] has two daughters
    named ‘Give’ and ‘Give.’
There are three things that are never satisfied,
    really four that never say, ‘I’ve had enough!’:
16 the ·cemetery [grave; Sheol], the ·childless mother [L barren womb],
    the land that never gets enough rain,
and fire that never says, ‘I’ve had enough!’

17 “·If you make fun of your [L An eye that ridicules one’s] father
    and ·refuse to obey your [L despises the teaching of one’s] mother,
the ·birds [L ravens] of the ·valley [wadi] will peck out your eyes,
    and the ·vultures [or young eagles] will eat them.

18 “There are three things that are too ·hard [wonderful] for me,
    really four I don’t understand:
19 the way an eagle flies in the sky,
    the way a snake slides over a rock,
the way a ship sails on the sea,
    and the way a man and a woman ·fall in [or make] love.

20 “This is the way of a woman who takes part in adultery:
    She acts as if she had eaten and washed her face;
she says, ‘I haven’t done anything wrong.’

21 “There are three things that make the earth tremble,
    really four it cannot ·stand [bear]:
22 a servant who becomes a king [Eccl. 10:5–7],
    a foolish person who has plenty to eat,
23 a ·hated [unloved] woman who gets married,
    and a maid who ·replaces [displaces; succeeds] her mistress [Gen. 16:4].

24 “There are four things on earth that are small,
    but they are very wise:
25 Ants are not very strong,
    but they ·store up [have] food in the summer.
26 ·Rock badgers [or Coneys] are not very powerful,
    but they can live among the ·rocks [crags].
27 Locusts have no king,
    but they ·all go forward in formation [advance together in ranks].
28 Lizards can be caught in the hand,
    but they are found even in kings’ palaces.

29 “There are three things that ·strut proudly [L are excellent in gait],
    really four that ·walk as if they were important [L are excellent as they walk]:
30 a lion, ·the proudest animal [or a warrior among beasts],
    which ·is strong and runs from nothing [backs down from nothing],
31 a rooster, a male goat,
    and a king when his army is around him.

32 “If you have been foolish and proud,
    or if you have planned evil, ·shut [L put your hand to] your mouth [Job 40:2].
33 Just as ·stirring [L pressing] milk makes ·butter [curds],
    and ·twisting [L pressing] noses makes ·them bleed [blood],
so ·stirring up [L pressing] anger ·causes trouble [leads to accusations].”

Sayings of Agur

30 The sayings(A) of Agur son of Jakeh—an inspired utterance.

This man’s utterance to Ithiel:

“I am weary, God,
    but I can prevail.[a]
Surely I am only a brute, not a man;
    I do not have human understanding.
I have not learned wisdom,
    nor have I attained to the knowledge of the Holy One.(B)
Who has gone up(C) to heaven and come down?
    Whose hands(D) have gathered up the wind?
Who has wrapped up the waters(E) in a cloak?(F)
    Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is his name,(G) and what is the name of his son?
    Surely you know!

“Every word of God is flawless;(H)
    he is a shield(I) to those who take refuge in him.
Do not add(J) to his words,
    or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.

“Two things I ask of you, Lord;
    do not refuse me before I die:
Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
    give me neither poverty nor riches,
    but give me only my daily bread.(K)
Otherwise, I may have too much and disown(L) you
    and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’(M)
Or I may become poor and steal,
    and so dishonor the name of my God.(N)

10 “Do not slander a servant to their master,
    or they will curse you, and you will pay for it.

11 “There are those who curse their fathers
    and do not bless their mothers;(O)
12 those who are pure in their own eyes(P)
    and yet are not cleansed of their filth;(Q)
13 those whose eyes are ever so haughty,(R)
    whose glances are so disdainful;
14 those whose teeth(S) are swords
    and whose jaws are set with knives(T)
to devour(U) the poor(V) from the earth
    and the needy from among mankind.(W)

15 “The leech has two daughters.
    ‘Give! Give!’ they cry.

“There are three things that are never satisfied,(X)
    four that never say, ‘Enough!’:
16 the grave,(Y) the barren womb,
    land, which is never satisfied with water,
    and fire, which never says, ‘Enough!’

17 “The eye that mocks(Z) a father,
    that scorns an aged mother,
will be pecked out by the ravens of the valley,
    will be eaten by the vultures.(AA)

18 “There are three things that are too amazing for me,
    four that I do not understand:
19 the way of an eagle in the sky,
    the way of a snake on a rock,
the way of a ship on the high seas,
    and the way of a man with a young woman.

20 “This is the way of an adulterous woman:
    She eats and wipes her mouth
    and says, ‘I’ve done nothing wrong.’(AB)

21 “Under three things the earth trembles,
    under four it cannot bear up:
22 a servant who becomes king,(AC)
    a godless fool who gets plenty to eat,
23 a contemptible woman who gets married,
    and a servant who displaces her mistress.

24 “Four things on earth are small,
    yet they are extremely wise:
25 Ants are creatures of little strength,
    yet they store up their food in the summer;(AD)
26 hyraxes(AE) are creatures of little power,
    yet they make their home in the crags;
27 locusts(AF) have no king,
    yet they advance together in ranks;
28 a lizard can be caught with the hand,
    yet it is found in kings’ palaces.

29 “There are three things that are stately in their stride,
    four that move with stately bearing:
30 a lion, mighty among beasts,
    who retreats before nothing;
31 a strutting rooster, a he-goat,
    and a king secure against revolt.[b]

32 “If you play the fool and exalt yourself,
    or if you plan evil,
    clap your hand over your mouth!(AG)
33 For as churning cream produces butter,
    and as twisting the nose produces blood,
    so stirring up anger produces strife.”


  1. Proverbs 30:1 With a different word division of the Hebrew; Masoretic Text utterance to Ithiel, / to Ithiel and Ukal:
  2. Proverbs 30:31 The meaning of the Hebrew for this phrase is uncertain.

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