Proverbs 23

 

You will notice that continuing verses occur even more frequently below than in the previous chapter.  We seem to

have no transient feature here.  We may be involved with an author (scribe) who has not written any of the chapters

following Proverbs 9 and preceding Proverbs 22.

כִּי־תֵשֵׁב לִלְחוֹם אֶת־מוֹשֵׁל בִּין תָּבִין אֶת־אֲשֶׁר לְפָנֶיךָ׃   23:1

Prov. 23:1   When you would sit to eat with a ruler,

                                you should carefully consider who is before you,

וְשַׂמְתָּ שַׂכִּין בְּלֹעֶךָ אִם־בַּעַל נֶפֶשׁ אָתָּה׃   23:2

Prov. 23:2   and put a knife to your throat

                                if you are a person of appetite.

Apparently the scribe is not advising respect, but possibly fear at eating too much -- gluttony!  But why only at a

ruler’s table?

אַל־תִּתְאָו לְמַטְעַמֹּותָיו וְהוּא לֶחֶם כְּזָבִים׃   23:3

Prov. 23:3   You must not be greedy for his delicious foods,

                                as it is deceitful food.

Now he’s alluding to something different.  But what is deceitful food?  Was it gotten with deceit?  Is the food

appearing to be something it is not?  Is it too fattening?  Take your pick or make your own guess.

אַל־תִּיגַע לְהַעֲשִׁיר מִבִּינָתְךָ חֲדָל׃   23:4

Prov. 23:4   You must not make yourself weary to become rich.

                                Desist from your own discernment.

 הֲתָעוּף) [הֲתָעִיף] עֵינֶיךָ בֹּו וְאֵינֶנּוּ כִּי עָשֹׂה יַעֲשֶׂה־לֹּו כְנָפַיִם כְּנֶשֶׁר (וְעָיֵף) [יָעוּף] הַשָּׁמָיִם׃   23:5

Prov. 23:5   Would your eyes hover upon it?  Then it is no more.

                                For quickly it will make for itself wings like an eagle,

                       and fly about the sky.

The pronoun it at the end of the question must refer back to the wealth addressed in the preceding verse.  I say this

because the pronoun is masculine and the only masculine antecedent in the preceding verse is rich

Aside from this, we encounter a continuation of misidentified “errors.”  The ”correction” in the first set of brackets for

the “error” before the first (left) parenthesis is not required.  The word is spelled correctly for an imperfect second

-person feminine singular (but should be plural) verb whose subject is eyes, which is also feminine and plural.  I

would make a different correction to make the verb I translate as hover plural.  I’d move the vav in the corrected

word to the end, making it a suffix.  You may notice that the second “error” is the inverse of the first “error.”  It is correct as it appears in the parentheses and is translated as will ... fly about.

אַל־תִּלְחַם אֶת־לֶחֶם רַע עָיִן וְאַל־ (תִּתְאָו) [תִּתְאָיו] לְמַטְעַמֹּתָיו׃   23:6

Prov. 23:6   You must not eat the bread of one with an evil eye

                                or be greedy for his delicacies.

Once more, I believe the “error” in the parentheses is a non-error.  The yad added in the brackets seems to be

unnecessary.

כִּי כְּמוֹ־שָׁעַר בְּנַפְשׁוֹ כֶּן־הוּא אֱכֹל וּשְׁתֵה יֹאמַר לָךְ וְלִבּוֹ בַּל־עִמָּךְ׃   23:7

Prov. 23:7   For as one calculating on his own behalf, so is he.

                                "Eat and drink," he might say to you, but his heart is hardly with you.

פִּתְּךָ־אָכַלְתָּ תְקִיאֶנָּה וְשִׁחַתָּ דְּבָרֶיךָ הַנְּעִימִים׃   23:8

Prov. 23:8   The morsel you eat, you will vomit it up,

                                and you will corrupt your sweet words.

Some, maybe most, commentators believe the eater would offer false complements about the food and the host. 

Thus the corruption of his sweet words.

בְּאָזְנֵי כְסִיל אַל־תְּדַבֵּר כִּי־יָבוּז לְשֵׂכֶל מִלֶּיךָ׃   23:9

Prov. 23:9   In the ears of a fool, you should not speak,

                                for he will have contempt for the good sense of your words.

אַל־תַּסֵּג גְּבוּל עוֹלָם וּבִשְׂדֵי יְתוֹמִים אַל־תָּבֹא׃   23:10

Prov. 23:10   You must not remove a perpetual border,

                                or come into the fields of orphans.

The first part of this couplet is identical to that of Prov. 22:28.  But what of the second part, which is very different

from the corresponding part of that verse?  I think it may be a kind of explanation or example of the reason the border

should not be moved.  Why would one move a border?  He would most likely be enlarging his own land.  And whose

land would be encroached upon?  Someone weak, is my guess.  Such as an orphan, who may have received no

inheritance.

כִּי־גֹאֲלָם חָזָק הוּא־יָרִיב אֶת־רִיבָם אִתָּךְ׃   23:11

Prov. 23:11   For their Redeemer is strong.

                                He will plead their case with you.

הָבִיאָה לַמּוּסָר לִבֶּךָ וְאָזְנֶךָ לְאִמְרֵי־דָעַת׃   23:12

Prov. 23:12   Bring your heart to instruction,

                                and your ear to words of knowledge.

אַל־תִּמְנַע מִנַּעַר מוּסָר כִּי־תַכֶּנּוּ בַשֵּׁבֶט לֹא יָמוּת׃   23:13

Prov. 23:13   You must not withhold discipline from a child.

                                Though you would strike him with a rod, he will not die.

אַתָּה בַּשֵּׁבֶט תַּכֶּנּוּ וְנַפְשׁוֹ מִשְּׁאוֹל תַּצִּיל׃   23:14

Prov. 23:14   You must beat him with a rod

                                so you will save his soul from Sheol.

בְּנִי אִם־חָכַם לִבֶּךָ יִשְׂמַח לִבִּי גַם־אָנִי׃   23:15

Prov. 23:15   My son, if your heart will be wise,

                                my heart will be glad, I also.

וְתַעְלֹזְנָה כִלְיוֹתָי בְּדַבֵּר שְׂפָתֶיךָ מֵישָׁרִים׃   23:16

Prov. 23:16   And my insides will rejoice

                                on the speech of your lips of upright things.

אַל־יְקַנֵּא לִבְּךָ בַּחַטָּאִים כִּי אִם־בְּיִרְאַת־יְהוָה כָּל־הַיּוֹם׃   23:17

Prov. 23:17   Your heart must not be zealous towards sinning,

                                but rather toward reverence of the Lord all the time.

כִּי אִם־יֵשׁ אַחֲרִית וְתִקְוָתְךָ לֹא תִכָּרֵת׃   23:18

Prov. 23:18   For if there is an afterwards,

                                then your hope will not be cut off.

This verse is almost universally mistranslated.  Everywhere it goes something like “For surely there is a future, ....” 

That translation seems to miss the point of this verse.  The second word, which is translated by me as if, cannot be

translated as surely.  The term is used for conditional situations, not certain ones.  But the phrase cannot be “For if

there is a future, ....”  There is surely a future.  I believe the scribe is actually alluding to the afterlife, which is

uncertain to many.

שְׁמַע־אַתָּה בְנִי וַחֲכָם וְאַשֵּׁר בַּדֶּרֶךְ לִבֶּךָ׃   23:19

Prov. 23:19   You listen, my son, and become wise,

                                that your heart will progress in the way.

אַל־תְּהִי בְסֹבְאֵי־יָיִן בְּזֹלֲלֵי בָשָׂר לָמוֹ׃   23:20

Prov. 23:20   You must not be with heavy drinkers of wine,

                                with the gluttonies of their flesh.

כִּי־סֹבֵא וְזוֹלֵל יִוָּרֵשׁ וּקְרָעִים תַּלְבִּישׁ נוּמָה׃   23:21

Prov. 23:21   For a drunkard or a glutton shall come to poverty,

                                and drowsiness shall put on clothes of rags.

שְׁמַע לְאָבִיךָ זֶה יְלָדֶךָ וְאַל־תָּבוּז כִּי־זָקְנָה אִמֶּךָ׃   23:22

Prov. 23:22   Listen to your father who begot you,

                                that you must not despise your mother when she becomes old.

אֱמֶת קְנֵה וְאַל־תִּמְכֹּר חָכְמָה וּמוּסָר וּבִינָה׃   23:23

Prov. 23:23   Buy the truth,

                                and you must not sell wisdom or instruction or understanding.

גֹּול) [גִּיל] (יָגֹול) [יָגִיל] אֲבִי צַדִּיק (יֹולֵד) [וְיֹולֵד] חָכָם (וְיִשְׂמַח־) [יִשְׂמַח־]בֹּו׃   23:24

Prov. 23:24   The father of a righteous one, the sire of a wise one,

                                shall greatly rejoice; he will be glad because of him.

Does this verse really have four errors?  Would you believe three?  The first two errors have the same root.  The two

words there are translated as shall greatly rejoice.  The replacement of the vav by the yad in both cases is correct. 

The third error, however, is assumed to be a verb or a participle and is typically translated as begetting or one who

begets.  I believe it is a noun translated as sire, and is not an error.  The fourth error should not have the vav prefix.

יִשְׂמַח־אָבִיךָ וְאִמֶּךָ וְתָגֵל יֹולַדְתֶּךָ׃   23:25

Prov. 23:25   Let your father be glad, and your mother,

                                and let she who bore you rejoice.

תְּנָה־בְנִי לִבְּךָ לִי וְעֵינֶיךָ דְּרָכַי (תִּרְצֶנָה) [תִּצֹּרְנָה]׃   23:26

Prov. 23:26   My son, commit your heart to me,

                                so your eyes will be pleased with my ways.

The alleged error here is also not an error.  The word in the parentheses is correctly spelled and the “correction” in

the brackets is superfluous.

כִּי־שׁוּחָה עֲמֻקָּה זוֹנָה וּבְאֵר צָרָה נָכְרִיָּה׃   23:27

Prov. 23:27   For a harlot is a deep pit,

                                and an alien woman a well of grief.

אַף־הִיא כְּחֶתֶף תֶּאֱרֹב וּבוֹגְדִים בְּאָדָם תּוֹסִף׃   23:28

Prov. 23:28   Like a robber, she also will lie in wait,

                                and will increase the faithless among humankind.

These two verses, 27 and 28, have some similarity to Prov. 22:14. I’m referring to both parts of v. 27 and the last part of v. 28.   Also notice my remarks relating to Prov. 22:14, especially the last sentence there, which is pertinent here.

לְמִי אֹוי לְמִי אֲבֹוי לְמִי (מִדֹונִים) [מִדְיָנִים] לְמִי שִׂיחַ לְמִי פְּצָעִים חִנָּם לְמִי חַכְלִלוּת עֵינָיִם׃   23:29

Prov. 23:29   For whom alas? For whom woe?

                                For whom contention? For whom anxiety?

                         For whom wounds without cause?

                                For whom redness of the eyes?

What a poignant verse!  A quadruplet?  Meanwhile, the error here in the parentheses is one we’ve seen before.  The

word in the brackets provides the correction.

לַמְאַחֲרִים עַל־הַיָּיִן לַבָּאִים לַחְקֹר מִמְסָךְ׃   23:30

Prov. 23:30   For those delaying too long on the wine,

                                for those coming to explore mixed drink.

אַל־תֵּרֶא יַיִן כִּי יִתְאַדָּם כִּי־יִתֵּן (בַּכִּיס) [בַּכֹּוס] עֵינֹו יִתְהַלֵּךְ בְּמֵישָׁרִים׃   23:31

Prov. 23:31   You must not regard wine if it would be red,

                                when it might give to the cup its appearance,

                        would come smoothly.

The word in error here in the parentheses should be spelled with a vav in place of the yad.  The correction, which is

translated as cup (the word in the parentheses is translatable as bag), is in the brackets.

אַחֲרִיתֹו כְּנָחָשׁ יִשָּׁךְ וּכְצִפְעֹנִי יַפְרִשׁ׃   23:32

Prov. 23:32   Afterward like a serpent it will bite,

                                and like a viper sting.

עֵינֶיךָ יִרְאוּ זָרוֹת וְלִבְּךָ יְדַבֵּר תַּהְפֻּכוֹת׃   23:33

Prov. 23:33   Your eyes will see strange things,

                                and your heart will threaten perversities.

וְהָיִיתָ כְּשֹׁכֵב בְּלֶב־יָם וּכְשֹׁכֵב בְּרֹאשׁ חִבֵּל׃   23:34

Prov. 23:34   And you will be like someone lying down in the midst of the sea,

                                or someone lying on top of a mast.

הִכּוּנִי בַל־חָלִיתִי הֲלָמוּנִי בַּל־יָדָעְתִּי מָתַי אָקִיץ אוֹסִיף אֲבַקְשֶׁנּוּ עוֹד׃   23:35

Prov. 23:35   "They struck me, I did not become sick;

                                they hammered me, I did not know.

                        When will I wake up?

                                I would seek it yet again."

Presumably, this verse is hypothetically spoken by those mentioned in v. 23:30 and 31 who must be inebriated. 

The scribe seems to assume (in the last line) that they are addicted to alcohol.

 

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