Proverbs 17

 

טוֹב פַּת חֲרֵבָה וְשַׁלְוָה־בָהּ מִבַּיִת מָלֵא זִבְחֵי־רִיב׃   17:1

Prov. 17:1   A dry morsel with quietitude in it

                               is better than a house full of contentious sacrifices.

עֶבֶד־מַשְׂכִּיל יִמְשֹׁל בְּבֵן מֵבִישׁ וּבְתוֹךְ אַחִים יַחֲלֹק נַחֲלָה׃   17:2

Prov. 17:2   An insightful servant can have dominion when a son acts shamefully,

                               and can share an inheritance among brethren.

I find that all the popular bibles have mistranslated part of this verse, causing it to have a slightly different meaning.  They have something like ... will rule over a disgraceful son ....  I must admit that the liberties taken by other translators is sometimes distressing to me.  In this verse the beth prefix to the fourth word is seldom translated as over.  I have never translated it as such, as it isn’t a valid translation.  Now whereas the popular translation implies a lopsided relationship between the servant and the son, my translation implies nothing of the sort.  It says that the servant may be more favored than the son.

מַצְרֵף לַכֶּסֶף וְכוּר לַזָּהָב וּבֹחֵן לִבּוֹת יְהוָה׃   17:3

Prov. 17:3   The crucible is for silver and the furnace is for gold,

                               but the Lord is the Prover of hearts.

מֵרַע מַקְשִׁיב עַל־שְׂפַת־אָוֶן שֶׁקֶר מֵזִין עַל־לְשׁוֹן הַוֺּת׃   17:4

Prov. 17:4   An evil doer is attentive to the speech of iniquity.

                               A liar is a listener to a destructive tongue.

לֹעֵג לָרָשׁ חֵרֵף עֹשֵׂהוּ שָׂמֵחַ לְאֵיד לֹא יִנָּקֶה׃   17:5

Prov. 17:5   Showing derision for someone poor is blaspheming his Maker.

                               Anyone joyous about a calamity cannot be innocent.

עֲטֶרֶת זְקֵנִים בְּנֵי בָנִים וְתִפְאֶרֶת בָּנִים אֲבוֹתָם׃   17:6

Prov. 17:6   The crown of old ones is the children of children,

                               and the honor of children is their fathers.

לֹא־נָאוָה לְנָבָל שְׂפַת־יֶתֶר אַף כִּי־לְנָדִיב שְׂפַת־שָׁקֶר׃   17:7

Prov. 17:7   Speaking too much is not becoming for a fool,

                               much less so for a prince speaking deception.

אֶבֶן־חֵן הַשֹּׁחַד בְּעֵינֵי בְעָלָיו אֶל־כָּל־אֲשֶׁר יִפְנֶה יַשְׂכִּיל׃   17:8

Prov. 17:8   The bribe is a precious stone in the eyes of its owner;

                               to whomever it may be offered, it can succeed.

מְכַסֶּה־פֶּשַׁע מְבַקֵּשׁ אַהֲבָה וְשֹׁנֶה בְדָבָר מַפְרִיד אַלּוּף׃   17:9

Prov. 17:9   Concealing a transgression, one may be seeking love,

                               while being repetitious about a matter, one may be splitting a friendship.

תֵּחַת גְּעָרָה בְמֵבִין מֵהַכּוֹת כְּסִיל מֵאָה׃   17:10

Prov. 17:10   A rebuke would be more penetrating to an understanding person

                               than a hundred strikes, a fool.

אַךְ־מְרִי יְבַקֶּשׁ־רָע וּמַלְאָךְ אַכְזָרִי יְשֻׁלַּח־בּוֹ׃   17:11

Prov. 17:11   A rebellious person might seek only evil,

                               so a cruel messenger would be sent off to him.

פָּגוֹשׁ דֹּב שַׁכּוּל בְּאִישׁ וְאַל־כְּסִיל בְּאִוַּלְתּוֹ׃   17:12

Prov. 17:12   Encounter a bear robbed of cubs by a person,

                               but not a fool in his folly.

These are strong words.  They must signify an overpowering disdain for fools by the scribe.  In my opinion, he is too strongly prejudiced.  Anyone can be a fool in a conducive circumstance.  I suspect that few of us can truthfully claim to have never acted foolishly.

מֵשִׁיב רָעָה תַּחַת טֹובָה לֹא־ (תָמִישׁ) [תָמוּשׁ] רָעָה מִבֵּיתֹו׃   17:13

Prov. 17:13   He who returns evil for good,

                               evil shall not depart from his house.

The “error” in the parentheses and the “correction” in the brackets are both correct in this context.  There is no error here.

פֹּוטֵר מַיִם רֵאשִׁית מָדֹון וְלִפְנֵי הִתְגַּלַּע הָרִיב נְטֹושׁ׃   17:14

Prov. 17:14   The beginning of strife is the letting out of water,

                               so before one breaks out in contention, leave off.

The traditional understanding of the words of this verse is that when strife begins, it’s like a leak in a dam that grows ever larger if not controlled at the start.

מַצְדִּיק רָשָׁע וּמַרְשִׁיעַ צַדִּיק תּוֹעֲבַת יְהוָה גַּם־שְׁנֵיהֶם׃   17:15

Prov. 17:15   Justifying a wicked thing or condemning a righteous act:

                               Either of them is an abomination of the Lord.

לָמָּה־זֶּה מְחִיר בְּיַד־כְּסִיל לִקְנוֹת חָכְמָה וְלֶב־אָיִן׃   17:16

Prov. 17:16   Of what use is a reward in the hand of a fool to acquire wisdom,

                               when there is no understanding?

בְּכָל־עֵת אֹהֵב הָרֵעַ וְאָח לְצָרָה יִוָּלֵד׃   17:17

Prov. 17:17   One who is a friend would be loving on every occasion,

                               while a brother could be born for distress.

אָדָם חֲסַר־לֵב תּוֹקֵעַ כָּף עֹרֵב עֲרֻבָּה לִפְנֵי רֵעֵהוּ׃   17:18

Prov. 17:18   Clapping a hand, a man becoming surety before his neighbor

                               is lacking understanding.

This gesture of clapping a hand seems to be connected with becoming surety for a loan or simply being involved in a loan transaction.  See Prov. 6:1 and Prov. 11:15.                                                  [Return to Prov. 22:26]

אֹהֵב פֶּשַׁע אֹהֵב מַצָּה מַגְבִּיהַּ פִּתְחוֹ מְבַקֶּשׁ־שָׁבֶר׃   17:19

Prov. 17:19   A lover of strife is a lover of transgression.

                               He who would be exalting his doorway would be seeking ruin.

There are two prevailing interpretations of this verse, depending on the translation of the third-from-last word.  The word can mean his opening or his doorway.  If the former translation is stressed, it is taken to indicate the person’s mouth -- in other words, arrogant speech.  If the latter translation, it is taken to indicate ostentatious living.

עִקֶּשׁ־לֵב לֹא יִמְצָא־טוֹב וְנֶהְפָּךְ בִּלְשׁוֹנוֹ יִפּוֹל בְּרָעָה׃   17:20

Prov. 17:20   A perverted heart will not encounter good,

                               and who is perverse with his tongue will fall into evil.

יֹלֵד כְּסִיל לְתוּגָה לוֹ וְלֹא־יִשְׂמַח אֲבִי נָבָל׃   17:21

Prov. 17:21   Begetting a fool would be for one's sorrow,

                               and the father of an imbecile will have no joy.

לֵב שָׂמֵחַ יֵיטִב גֵּהָה וְרוּחַ נְכֵאָה תְּיַבֶּשׁ־גָּרֶם׃   17:22

Prov. 17:22   A joyful heart can be a good cure,

                               while a stricken spirit can wither bone.

שֹׁחַד מֵחֵיק רָשָׁע יִקָּח לְהַטּוֹת אָרְחוֹת מִשְׁפָּט׃   17:23

Prov. 17:23   A wicked person will take a bribe from the bosom

                               to bend the paths of justice.

אֶת־פְּנֵי מֵבִין חָכְמָה וְעֵינֵי כְסִיל בִּקְצֵה־אָרֶץ׃   17:24

Prov. 17:24   Wisdom is near the face of an understanding person,

                               but the eyes of a fool are on the end of the earth.

In other words, a fool’s attention is unfocused.

כַּעַס לְאָבִיו בֵּן כְּסִיל וּמֶמֶר לְיוֹלַדְתּוֹ׃   17:25

Prov. 17:25   A foolish son is a grief to his father,

                               and bitterness to the one who bore him.

גַּם עֲנוֹשׁ לַצַּדִּיק לֹא־טוֹב לְהַכּוֹת נְדִיבִים עַל־יֹשֶׁר׃   17:26

Prov. 17:26   Punishment for a righteous person is not good,

                               also striking nobility for uprightness.

The punishment mentioned here most likely refers to that meted out by other humans, not the Lord.  I would also suggest that striking nobility refers to that meted out by other nobles, not the 99%.

חֹושֵׂךְ אֲמָרָיו יֹודֵעַ דָּעַת (וְקַר־) [יְקַר־]רוּחַ אִישׁ תְּבוּנָה׃   17:27

Prov. 17:27   A withholder of one's words is a perceiver of knowledge,

                               and a person of understanding is composed.

The alleged error in the parentheses is to me correctly spelled.  The two words, that in the parentheses and the word following the brackets constitute an idiom meaning and ... is composed.  The word in the brackets is unnecessary, even incorrect in my eyes.

גַּם אֱוִיל מַחֲרִישׁ חָכָם יֵחָשֵׁב אֹטֵם שְׂפָתָיו נָבֹון׃   17:28

Prov. 17:28   Even a fool keeping silent can be thought wise;

                               one keeping his lips closed, discerning.

 

[Return to Proverbs Chapters]   [Prev.:  Prov. 16]   [Next:  Prov. 18]