Proverbs 12


אֹהֵב מוּסָר אֹהֵב דָּעַת וְשֹׂנֵא תֹוכַחַת בָּעַר׃   12:1

Prov. 12:1   The lover of knowledge is a lover of instruction,

                               but a stupid one is a hater of rebuke.

More than one message can be derived from this verse.  First is the obvious:  One seeking knowledge delights in receiving instruction, whereas one who dislikes or disdains knowledge hates receiving instruction.  To me this sounds almost like a tautology.  I prefer a more subtle message:  One seeking knowledge receives instruction lightly, maybe even delightfully, while one avoiding instruction experiences it as difficult and onerous.  Either way, this verse seems to imply that hardship is not a punishment, but a means of education.  How ironic!  Especially with this verse coming directly following Prov. 11:31.  So the scribe appears to be not at all certain that behavior earns reward or punishment.  Refer back to my remarks following Prov. 11:31.

טֹוב יָפִיק רָצֹון מֵיְהוָה וְאִישׁ מְזִמֹּות יַרְשִׁיעַ׃   12:2

Prov. 12:2   One good shall obtain favor from the Lord,

                               but He shall condemn anyone of evil devices.

This sounds too much like reward and punishment again.

לֹא־יִכֹּון אָדָם בְּרֶשַׁע וְשֹׁרֶשׁ צַדִּיקִים בַּל־יִמֹּוט׃   12:3

Prov. 12:3   Humanity shall not be established by wickedness,

                               and the base of the righteous shall not be shaken.

There are two equally valid translations for this verse, each saying something different.  The one above reads as a statement of faith or as a prophecy.  In the alternative translation, “Humanity must not be established by wickedness, and the base of the righteous must not be shaken,” it becomes an admonition.  I actually prefer the latter translation, because many of the author’s statements are a kind of admonition.  But the translation I have conforms better to the general use by the scribe of imperfect (future tense) verbs.

אֵשֶׁת־חַיִל עֲטֶרֶת בַּעְלָהּ וּכְרָקָב בְּעַצְמֹותָיו מְבִישָׁה׃   12:4

Prov. 12:4   A woman of virtue is the crown of her husband,

                               but one shaming him is like decay in his bones.

מַחְשְׁבֹות צַדִּיקִים מִשְׁפָּט תַּחְבֻּלֹות רְשָׁעִים מִרְמָה׃   12:5

Prov. 12:5   The thoughts of the righteous are of justice;

                               the counsels of the wicked are of deceit.

דִּבְרֵי רְשָׁעִים אֱרָב־דָּם וּפִי יְשָׁרִים יַצִּילֵם׃   12:6

Prov. 12:6   The words of the wicked are a deadly ambush,

                               but the mouth of the upright shall snatch them away.

I’m not sure what the pronoun them refers to.  It’s either words or the wicked.  I lean towards words:  The speech of the upright will remove or counteract the speech of the wicked.

הָפֹוךְ רְשָׁעִים וְאֵינָם וּבֵית צַדִּיקִים יַעֲמֹד׃   12:7

Prov. 12:7   He will be overthrowing the wicked that there will be no more of them,

                               but the house of the righteous shall endure.

לְפִישִׂ־כְלֹו יְהֻלַּל־אִישׁ וְנַעֲוֵה־לֵב יִהְיֶה לָבוּז׃   12:8

Prov. 12:8   One will be praised for his intelligent mouth,

                               but a perverted mind shall be held in contempt.

I am mildly troubled by this statement.  It seems to conflict with Prov. 11:12.  We are told there that an intelligent person would keep his mouth shut, concealing his wisdom.  However, as I mention there, it may be that the earlier statement relates only to instances in which one might be tempted to rebuke his neighbor.  But see also v. 12:23 below, which seems to be in agreement with Prov. 11:12.

טֹוב נִקְלֶה וְעֶבֶד לֹו מִמְּתַכַּבֵּד וַחֲסַר־לָחֶם׃    12:9

Prov. 12:9   Better is one lightly esteemed and has a servant

                               than one honoring himself who is lacking bread.

This one doesn’t quite inspire me with a grand thought.  Where’s the contrast?  It would be more satisfying if it said either one lightly esteemed, vs. one honored, or one lightly esteeming himself vs. one honoring himself.

יֹודֵעַ צַדִּיק נֶפֶשׁ בְּהֶמְתֹּו וְרַחֲמֵי רְשָׁעִים אַכְזָרִי׃   12:10

Prov. 12:10   A righteous individual is considerate of the feelings of his beast,

                               but the compassion of the wicked is cruel.

עֹבֵד אַדְמָתֹו יִשְׂבַּע־לָחֶם וּמְרַדֵּף רֵיקִים חֲסַר־לֵב׃   12:11

Prov. 12:11   The worker of his soil shall have plenty of bread,

                               but he who pursues idleness lacks understanding.

He probably also lacks bread.

חָמַד רָשָׁע מְצֹוד רָעִים וְשֹׁרֶשׁ צַדִּיקִים יִתֵּן׃   12:12

Prov. 12:12   A wicked person prefers the snare of evil people,

                               while the root of the righteous shall yield produce.

This one also seems to carry a subtle message.  I imagine the author might be telling us that the snare of evil people yields no produce.

בְּפֶשַׁע פָתַיִם מֹוקֵשׁ רָע וַיֵּצֵא מִצָּרָה צַדִּיק׃   12:13

Prov. 12:13   In the transgression of the lips is an evil snare,

                               but anyone righteous will escape from trouble.

מִפְּרִי פִי־אִישׁ יִשְׂבַּע־טֹוב וּגְמוּל יְדֵי־אָדָם (יָשׁוּב) [יָשִׁיב] לֹו׃   12:14

Prov. 12:14   One can be pleasantly satisfied by the yield of the mouth,

                               as the profit of the hands of a man shall come back to him.

I don’t get the message of this verse.  As I interpret it, the verse says that a busy mouth will provide satisfaction just as busy hands will.  But this doesn’t seem to yield much wisdom.  In fact, it seems to defy wisdom.  Maybe the intent is that the yield of the mouth that is not busy will be as satisfying as the profit of busy hands.  Or maybe it just isn’t meant to be very meaningful at all, just good poetry.  Meanwhile, in my opinion, the “error” in the parentheses is not really an error, being acceptable in either the form shown there or that in the brackets.  It’s simply a matter of interpretation, whether the profit of a man’s hands will be brought back or will come back to him.

דֶּרֶךְ אֱוִיל יָשָׁר בְּעֵינָיו וְשֹׁמֵעַ לְעֵצָה חָכָם׃   12:15

Prov. 12:15   The path of a fool is fitting in his eyes,

                               but a wise man listens to advice.

The message here, I believe, is that a fool is so satisfied with his choices that he would not listen to any advice.

אֱוִיל בַּיֹּום יִוָּדַע כַּעְסֹו וְכֹסֶה קָלֹון עָרוּם׃   12:16

Prov. 12:16   A fool, his frustration would be recognized in a day,

                               but a prudent individual would conceal shame.

Is there a second meaning hidden here?  Is the frustration of a fool synonymous with the shame of a wise one?  Or is shame even more difficult to conceal than frustration?

יָפִיחַ אֱמוּנָה יַגִּיד צֶדֶק וְעֵד שְׁקָרִים מִרְמָה׃   12:17

Prov. 12:17   One who would breathe truth would declare righteousness,

                               but the testimony of liars would be deceitful.

יֵשׁ בֹּוטֶה כְּמַדְקְרֹות חָרֶב וּלְשֹׁון חֲכָמִים מַרְפֵּא׃   12:18

Prov. 12:18   The substance of a rash speaker is like sword thrusts,

                               but the tongue of the wise is healing.

שְׂפַת־אֱמֶת תִּכֹּון לָעַד וְעַד־אַרְגִּיעָה לְשֹׁון שָׁקֶר׃   12:19

Prov. 12:19   Truthful speech shall be established for ever,

                               but a lying tongue shall be for a moment.

מִרְמָה בְּלֶב־חֹרְשֵׁי רָע וּלְיֹעֲצֵי שָׁלֹום שִׂמְחָה׃   12:20

Prov. 12:20   Treachery is in the heart of devisors of evil,

                               but joy is for counselors of peace.

לֹא־יְאֻנֶּה לַצַּדִּיק כָּל־אָוֶן וּרְשָׁעִים מָלְאוּ רָע׃   12:21

Prov. 12:21   No trouble shall be sent to a righteous person,

                               but the wicked are full of distress.

I doubt the accuracy of this verse.  I think king David would too.

תֹּועֲבַת יְהוָה שִׂפְתֵי־שָׁקֶר וְעֹשֵׂי אֱמוּנָה רְצֹונֹו׃   12:22

Prov. 12:22   Lips of deception are an abomination of the Lord,

                               while producers of truth are His delight.

אָדָם עָרוּם כֹּסֶה דָּעַת וְלֵב כְּסִילִים יִקְרָא אִוֶּלֶת׃   12:23

Prov. 12:23   One concealing knowledge is a sensible man,

                               but the heart of fools would proclaim foolishness.

יַד־חָרוּצִים תִּמְשֹׁול וּרְמִיָּה תִּהְיֶה לָמַס׃   12:24

Prov. 12:24   The hand of the diligent shall rule,

                               while forced labor shall be for the slacker.

דְּאָגָה בְלֶב־אִישׁ יַשְׁחֶנָּה וְדָבָר טֹוב יְשַׂמְּחֶנָּה׃   12:25

Prov. 12:25   Anxiety in the heart of a person can depress it,

                               but a good word can make it glad.

דְּאָגָה בְלֶב־אִישׁ יַשְׁחֶנָּה וְדָבָר טֹוב יְשַׂמְּחֶנָּה׃   12:26

Prov. 12:26   A righteous person can seek guidance from his friend,

                               but the way of the wicked must lead them astray.

לֹא־יַחֲרֹךְ רְמִיָּה צֵידֹו וְהֹון־אָדָם יָקָר חָרוּץ׃   12:27

Prov. 12:27   A lax one cannot make his hunt ready,

                               so the most prized asset of a person is diligence.

I wonder why the scribe introduced the concept of a hunt here.  Does he mean a hunt for an animal? Or is he referring to the hunt for knowledge? 

בְּאֹרַח־צְדָקָה חַיִּים וְדֶרֶךְ נְתִיבָה אַל־מָוֶת׃   12:28

Prov. 12:28   Along the path of righteousness is life,

                               and the journey of its traveler is without death.


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