Proverbs 29

 

אִישׁ תּוֹכָחוֹת מַקְשֶׁה־עֹרֶף פֶּתַע יִשָּׁבֵר וְאֵין מַרְפֵּא׃   29:1

Prov. 29:1   A stubborn person is one having a stiff neck.

                               Suddenly It could shatter and there will be no healing.

I have a sneaking suspicion that this verse was intended to be humorous.

בִּרְבוֹת צַדִּיקִים יִשְׂמַח הָעָם וּבִמְשֹׁל רָשָׁע יֵאָנַח עָם׃   29:2

Prov. 29:2   With the righteous increasing, the people can rejoice,

                               but with a wicked one ruling, people would sigh.

אִישׁ־אֹהֵב חָכְמָה יְשַׂמַּח אָבִיו וְרֹעֶה זוֹנוֹת יְאַבֶּד־הוֹן׃   29:3

Prov. 29:3   Anyone loving wisdom will gladden his father,

                               while anyone being a companion of harlots will give up substance.

I wonder.  Would the wisdom-loving son gain substance by gladdening his father?  Along with that, is there a double meaning to giving up substance?  It might mean the wayward son loses his inheritance or fails to devote himself to success.  On the other hand, it could also refer to his semen.

מֶלֶךְ בְּמִשְׁפָּט יַעֲמִיד אָרֶץ וְאִישׁ תְּרוּמוֹת יֶהֶרְסֶנָּה׃   29:4

Prov. 29:4   With justice, a king can establish a land,

                               but someone of tributes can pull it down.

I presume the term someone of tributes describes a king who demands gifts for favors.

גֶּבֶר מַחֲלִיק עַל־רֵעֵהוּ רֶשֶׁת פּוֹרֵשׂ עַל־פְּעָמָיו׃   29:5

Prov. 29:5   A strong man who is flattering to his neighbor

                               is spreading a net for his steps.

בְּפֶשַׁע אִישׁ רָע מוֹקֵשׁ וְצַדִּיק יָרוּן וְשָׂמֵחַ׃   29:6

Prov. 29:6   There is a snare in the transgression of an evil person,

                               but a righteous one will sing out and rejoice.

Does he sing out and rejoice because he avoided the snare?

יֹדֵעַ צַדִּיק דִּין דַּלִּים רָשָׁע לֹא־יָבִין דָּעַת׃   29:7

Prov. 29:7   A righteous one recognizes the cause of the poor;

                               a wicked one cannot understand the perception.

אַנְשֵׁי לָצוֹן יָפִיחוּ קִרְיָה וַחֲכָמִים יָשִׁיבוּ אָף׃   29:8

Prov. 29:8   Scornful persons can inflame a city,

                               but wise people can turn back anger.

אִישׁ־חָכָם נִשְׁפָּט אֶת־אִישׁ אֱוִיל וְרָגַז וְשָׂחַק וְאֵין נָחַת׃   29:9

Prov. 29:9   Were a wise one to enter into controversy with a foolish one

                               while either raging or laughing,

                        then there would be no rest.

No one knows whether the participles raging or laughing apply to the wise one or the fool.  My guess is it applies to the wise one.  The implication is that however he approaches the controversy, belligerently or with humor (opposite states of emotion?), he will find no satisfaction.

אַנְשֵׁי דָמִים יִשְׂנְאוּ־תָם וִישָׁרִים יְבַקְשׁוּ נַפְשׁוֹ׃   29:10

Prov. 29:10   Blood-thirsty persons would hate a wholesome one,

                               so anyone of the upright, they would desire his life.

כָּל־רוּחוֹ יוֹצִיא כְסִיל וְחָכָם בְּאָחוֹר יְשַׁבְּחֶנָּה׃   29:11

Prov. 29:11   A fool would display all his spirit,

                               while a wise one would quiet it inside.

Is this verse informing us that a fool would reveal all his desires and inclinations, while a wise one would tame them internally?  Maybe.

מֹשֵׁל מַקְשִׁיב עַל־דְּבַר־שָׁקֶר כָּל־מְשָׁרְתָיו רְשָׁעִים׃   29:12

Prov. 29:12   Were a ruler paying attention to falsehood,

                               all his ministers would be wicked.

רָשׁ וְאִישׁ תְּכָכִים נִפְגָּשׁוּ מֵאִיר־עֵינֵי שְׁנֵיהֶם יְהוָה׃   29:13

Prov. 29:13   A poor person and an oppressor meet.

                               The Lord would be lighting up the eyes of both of them.

This verse seems fairly straightforward.  The poor person would see the oppressor for who he is, and the oppressor would see someone he can exploit.

מֶלֶךְ שׁוֹפֵט בֶּאֱמֶת דַּלִּים כִּסְאוֹ לָעַד יִכּוֹן׃   29:14

Prov. 29:14   Were a king judging the poor faithfully,

                               his throne would be forever established.

This verse is either an exaggeration or it relates on a spiritual level.

שֵׁבֶט וְתוֹכַחַת יִתֵּן חָכְמָה וְנַעַר מְשֻׁלָּח מֵבִישׁ אִמּוֹ׃   29:15

Prov. 29:15   A rod, with rebuke, will produce wisdom,

                               while a child let loose will be one who shames his mother.

בִּרְבוֹת רְשָׁעִים יִרְבֶּה־פָּשַׁע וְצַדִּיקִים בְּמַפַּלְתָּם יִרְאוּ׃   29:16

Prov. 29:16   With the wicked becoming many,

                               they will increase transgression,

                          yet the righteous will gaze at their falling.

יַסֵּר בִּנְךָ וִינִיחֶךָ וְיִתֵּן מַעֲדַנִּים לְנַפְשֶׁךָ׃   29:17

Prov. 29:17   Discipline your son and he will give you rest,

                               and he will produce delights for your soul.

בְּאֵין חָזוֹן יִפָּרַע עָם וְשֹׁמֵר תּוֹרָה אַשְׁרֵהוּ׃   29:18

Prov. 29:18   A people without vision will lose constraint,

                               but keeping the Torah will be one's happiness.

I wonder if this verse is observing that the people is without vision because they ignore the Torah, which provides a precious vision of God and the triumph of good.

בִּדְבָרִים לֹא־יִוָּסֶר עָבֶד כִּי־יָבִין וְאֵין מַעֲנֶה׃   29:19

Prov. 29:19   A servant should not be disciplined by words,

                               for he may understand, but there will be no response.

I’m guessing that there will be no response, that is, the response desired by the master, because the servant may not be injured or properly disciplined by words alone.  So while he understands the words and the reason for them, he ignores his master.  Nothing changes.

חָזִיתָ אִישׁ אָץ בִּדְבָרָיו תִּקְוָה לִכְסִיל מִמֶּנּוּ׃   29:20

Prov. 29:20   You see one hasty with his words;

                               there is more hope for a fool than for him.

מְפַנֵּק מִנֹּעַר עַבְדּוֹ וְאַחֲרִיתוֹ יִהְיֶה מָנוֹן׃   29:21

Prov. 29:21   One pampering his servant from childhood:

                               Then after it he would become a tyrant.

The meaning of the last word of this verse is not well understood.  It appears only in this one place in the bible.  Some sages and scholars believe the word should be translated as tyrant.  Others believe it should be translated as offspring.  I have difficulty accepting either translation, although I favor tyrant.  The word may mean something akin to tyrant, such as disobedient or noncompliant, but tyrant seems a bit too strong.  On the other hand, offspring (or son) seems rather questionable.  Could a servant coddled from childhood consider himself an offspring of his master?  I don’t know, but I suspect it would be a relatively infrequent outcome.  More than likely he would be a friend of his master’s and would participate in the household responsibilities and benefits.  Maybe he could be something like a son after all.

אִישׁ־אַף יְגָרֶה מָדוֹן וּבַעַל חֵמָה רַב־פָּשַׁע׃   29:22

Prov. 29:22   An angry person can stir up strife,

                               and one quick tempered, much transgression.

גַּאֲוַת אָדָם תַּשְׁפִּילֶנּוּ וּשְׁפַל־רוּחַ יִתְמֹךְ כָּבוֹד׃   29:23

Prov. 29:23   The pride of a person can bring him low,

                               but he of humble spirit can attain honor.

חוֹלֵק עִם־גַּנָּב שׂוֹנֵא נַפְשׁוֹ אָלָה יִשְׁמַע וְלֹא יַגִּיד׃   29:24

Prov. 29:24   One sharing with a thief would be hateful of his soul.

                               He can sense lament but will not acknowledge.

חֶרְדַּת אָדָם יִתֵּן מוֹקֵשׁ וּבוֹטֵחַ בַּיהוָה יְשֻׂגָּב׃   29:25

Prov. 29:25   A snare would be set: Fearing humankind;

                               but one trusting in the Lord will be set on high.

The first part of this couplet is universally mistranslated, although the mistranslation doesn’t drastically change the message (with the emphasis on drastically).  All bibles with which I am familiar offer variations of the following:  “Fear of man brings a snare, ....”  The problem with this translation is that it ignores the grammar.  The third word is a masculine verb and is translated by me as would be set.  But its subject, the first word, translated as fear, is feminine.  The only noun that is masculine is the fourth word, translated as snare.  So it, not fear, has to be the subject of the phrase.

Now what is the difference between the two translations?  The universal translation says fear is a snare, and that is certainly true, but it misses an important point.  That point is this:  One trusting in the Lord does not fear humankind.  So he escapes the snare that is set for those who do not trust in the Lord.

רַבִּים מְבַקְשִׁים פְּנֵי־מוֹשֵׁל וּמֵיְהוָה מִשְׁפַּט־אִישׁ׃   29:26

Prov. 29:26   Many are those seeking the face of a ruler,

                               but the judgment of each one is from the Lord.

תּוֹעֲבַת צַדִּיקִים אִישׁ עָוֶל וְתוֹעֲבַת רָשָׁע יְשַׁר־דָּרֶךְ׃   29:27

Prov. 29:27   An evil person is an abomination of the righteous,

                               and a path of uprightness is an abomination of a wicked person.

 

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