Proverbs 2


בְּנִי אִם־תִּקַּח אֲמָרָי וּמִצְוֺתַי תִּצְפֹּן אִתָּךְ׃   2:1

Prov. 2:1   My son, if you will receive my sayings

                             and keep my commandments as treasure with you,

There is something somewhat peculiar in the grammar of this verse.  Once explained, however, it may not seem particularly strange.  The verse opens with “My son,” which is obviously masculine.  Yet the pronoun “you” at the end of the verse, referring back ot the son, is feminine.  Now there are other places in the bible where this sort of mismatch in gender occurs, and some appear to be just as strange.  But at least his one may be explained fairly straightforwardly.  If this is the Lord speaking, as it appears in Proverbs to sometimes true, then the son is Israel, and Israel is often referred to in the masculine when the nation is being addressed, but is often feminine when addressing the land, and either gender when addressing the people of Israel.  Here the Lord may be addressing the nation at the beginning and the people at the end.

לְהַקְשִׁיב לַחָכְמָה אָזְנֶךָ תַּטֶּה לִבְּךָ לַתְּבוּנָה׃   2:2

Prov. 2:2   inclining your ear to wisdom,

                             your heart will turn to understanding.

As in the last eleven verses of the previous chapter (Prov. 1:23 to 1:33), these first two of this chapter also sound as if the speaker might be the Lord.  Who else offers commandments?

כִּי אִם לַבִּינָה תִקְרָא לַתְּבוּנָה תִּתֵּן קוֹלֶךָ׃   2:3

Prov. 2:3   For if you will call out for discernment,

                             deliver up your voice for understanding,

אִם־תְּבַקְשֶׁנָּה כַכָּסֶף וְכַמַּטְמוֹנִים תַּחְפְּשֶׂנָּה׃   2:4

Prov. 2:4   if you will desire it as if it were silver,

                             and search it out as for hidden treasure,

אָז תָּבִין יִרְאַת יְהוָה וְדַעַת אֱלֹהִים תִּמְצָא׃   2:5

Prov. 2:5   then you shall understand reverence of the Lord

                             and find knowledge of God.

Is the scribe here saying that wisdom allows one to understand reverence?  In Prov. 1:7 he says that reverence of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.  Does this verse contradict that?  Possibly.  Yet this verse can be interpreted to mean that reverence is first, then the wisdom that derives from it allows one to understand the reverence.   With this interpretation, the verse is not in contradiction.

כִּי־יְהוָה יִתֵּן חָכְמָה מִפִּיו דַּעַת וּתְבוּנָה׃   2:6

Prov. 2:6   For the Lord can give wisdom;

                             knowledge and understanding are from His “mouth,”

וְצָפַן) [יִצְפֹּן] לַיְשָׁרִים תּוּשִׁיָּה מָגֵן לְהֹלְכֵי תֹם׃   2:7

Prov. 2:7   and He would store up sound wisdom for the upright,

                             a shield to walkers of integrity,

The “error” indicated before the left parenthesis above and the “error” in the parentheses in the next verse seem to me to be more examples of arbitrary and unnecessary judgment.  The vav prefix of the word in this verse seems perfectly normal, and as I have translated this verse, it makes sense as it stands.  The “correction” in fact does nothing but remove the word and in the translation:  “He would store sound ....”  The “correction” to the “error” in the verse below simply changes the noun translated as any faithful one of His from singular to plural, modifying the translation to [the way of] His faithful ones.  Can you recognize any significant difference in the two respective translations?  I can’t.  Ergo, there are no errors here.

לִנְצֹר אָרְחֹות מִשְׁפָּט וְדֶרֶךְ (חֲסִידֹו) [חֲסִידָיו] יִשְׁמֹר׃   2:8

Prov. 2:8   guarding the paths of justice,

                             that He would protect the way of any faithful one of His.

אָז תָּבִין צֶדֶק וּמִשְׁפָּט וּמֵישָׁרִים כָּל־מַעְגַּל־טוֹב׃   2:9

Prov. 2:9   Then you shall understand righteousness and justice and equity,

                             every excellent course.

כִּי־תָבוֹא חָכְמָה בְלִבֶּךָ וְדַעַת לְנַפְשְׁךָ יִנְעָם׃   2:10

Prov. 2:10   For wisdom shall enter into your heart

                             and knowledge shall be delightful to your soul.

מְזִמָּה תִּשְׁמֹר עָלֶיךָ תְּבוּנָה תִנְצְרֶכָּה׃   2:11

Prov. 2:11   Discretion shall watch over you,

                             understanding shall guard you,

לְהַצִּילְךָ מִדֶּרֶךְ רָע מֵאִישׁ מְדַבֵּר תַּהְפֻּכוֹת׃   2:12

Prov. 2:12   delivering you from an evil way,

                             from anyone speaking of perverse things,

הַעֹזְבִים אָרְחוֹת יֹשֶׁר לָלֶכֶת בְּדַרְכֵי־חֹשֶׁךְ׃   2:13

Prov. 2:13   who forsake the paths of what is right

                             to walk in the ways of darkness,

הַשְּׂמֵחִים לַעֲשׂוֹת רָע יָגִילוּ בְּתַהְפֻּכוֹת רָע׃   2:14

Prov. 2:14   who are rejoicing doing evil

                             -- they would exult in perverse things of evil --

אֲשֶׁר אָרְחֹתֵיהֶם עִקְּשִׁים וּנְלוֹזִים בְּמַעְגְּלוֹתָם׃   2:15

Prov. 2:15   whose ways are distorted

                             and are devious in their courses;

לְהַצִּילְךָ מֵאִשָּׁה זָרָה מִנָּכְרִיָּה אֲמָרֶיהָ הֶחֱלִיקָה׃   2:16

Prov. 2:16   delivering you from the strange woman,

                             from the alien woman whose words are deceitful,

This verse continues the thought of v. 2:12.  Notice that the verses from 2:11 down to 2:20 constitute one long sentence.

הַעֹזֶבֶת אַלּוּף נְעוּרֶיהָ וְאֶת־בְּרִית אֱלֹהֶיהָ שָׁכֵחָה׃   2:17

Prov. 2:17   who had forsaken the Lord of her youth

                             and forgotten the covenant of her God,

כִּי שָׁחָה אֶל־מָוֶת בֵּיתָהּ וְאֶל־רְפָאִים מַעְגְּלֹתֶיהָ׃   2:18

Prov. 2:18   that she has sunk her house down to death,

                             and her courses to spirits

כָּל־בָּאֶיהָ לֹא יְשׁוּבוּן וְלֹא־יַשִּׂיגוּ אָרְחוֹת חַיִּים׃   2:19

Prov. 2:19   --none going to her will return,

                             or attain the paths of the living --

לְמַעַן תֵּלֵךְ בְּדֶרֶךְ טוֹבִים וְאָרְחוֹת צַדִּיקִים תִּשְׁמֹר׃   2:20

Prov. 2:20   in order that you may walk in the way of good men

                             and keep righteous paths.

כִּי־יְשָׁרִים יִשְׁכְּנוּ־אָרֶץ וּתְמִימִים יִוָּתְרוּ בָהּ׃   2:21

Prov. 2:21   For the upright shall establish the earth

                             and the wholesome shall remain on it.

וּרְשָׁעִים מֵאֶרֶץ יִכָּרֵתוּ וּבֹוגְדִים יִסְּחוּ מִמֶּנָּה׃   2:22

Prov. 2:22   But the wicked shall be cut off from the earth

                             and the faithless shall be torn away from it.


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