Proverbs 22


There are three interesting features found in this chapter.  First, is that several verses are continuations of the previous verse.  Up to this point (except for the first nine chapters, which comprise an introductory section to the Book of Proverbs) there have been no continuations; each verse being a self-contained thought.  This leads me to suspect that a new scribe (author) is involved here.  Second, and quite peculiar, there are six alleged errors in this chapter, none of which are actual errors in my opinion.  I must humbly admit, I really can’t understand how the sages identified their errors.  Finally, there are several verses that are mistranslated in many bibles, some of which radically change the meaning I believe was intended.  So take notice, I have much to say about many of the verses in this chapter.

נִבְחָר שֵׁם מֵעֹשֶׁר רָב מִכֶּסֶף וּמִזָּהָב חֵן טוֹב׃   22:1

Prov. 22:1   A good reputation is more preferable than great wealth.

                                 Favor is better than silver or gold.

עָשִׁיר וָרָשׁ נִפְגָּשׁוּ עֹשֵׂה כֻלָּם יְהוָה׃   22:2

Prov. 22:2   Rich and poor meet together;

                                 the Lord is the Maker of each of them.

The translation of this verse is accurately stated here and in many other translations.  The primary variation is a substitution of have this in common for meet together.  However, I suspect the scribe may have had in mind something like the latter variation although it doesn’t conform too well to the Hebrew.  I believe he may have thought  that (in this context) rich and poor were alike in the sense that the Lord made them all.  Can you see the possibility that meet together could mean are alike.  I can.

עָרוּם רָאָה רָעָה (וְיִסָּתֵר) [וְנִסְתָּר] וּפְתָיִים עָבְרוּ וְנֶעֱנָשׁוּ׃   22:3

Prov. 22:3   A sensible person considers evil but he hides,

                                 whereas the foolish transgress and are punished.

The first non-error appears here.  The word in the parentheses is correctly spelled.  Translators ignore the fact that the vav prefix is inverting, so the verb, translated as but he hides, is appropriately imperfect.  The correction in the brackets makes the verb inappropriately perfect.                                     [Return to Prov. 27:12]

עֵקֶב עֲנָוָה יִרְאַת יְהוָה עֹשֶׁר וְכָבוֹד וְחַיִּים׃   22:4

Prov. 22:4   The consequence of reverence of the Lord

                                 is humility, wealth and honor and life.

I believe this verse is universally mistranslated.  Two principal variations are prevalent and they go something like

(1) “Humility and the fear of the Lord bring wealth and honor and life,” and (2) “The fruit of humility is the fear of the Lord, riches and glory and life.”   As to (1), there are only two places for the conjunction and in the verse and they appear between wealth and honor and between honor and life.  There is no and after humility.  As for (2), it follows the Hebrew more faithfully than (1), but my problem with it is that in my experience, fear (or reverence) of the Lord does not derive from humility.  I believe it is the other way around; humility comes from reverence (fear) of the Lord.

צִנִּים פַּחִים בְּדֶרֶךְ עִקֵּשׁ שׁוֹמֵר נַפְשׁוֹ יִרְחַק מֵהֶם׃   22:5

Prov. 22:5   Along the perverted path are thorns, snares.

                                 A guardian of his soul would stay far from them.

חֲנֹךְ לַנַּעַר עַל־פִּי דַרְכּוֹ גַּם כִּי־יַזְקִין לֹא־יָסוּר מִמֶּנָּה׃   22:6

Prov. 22:6   Give early training to a child according to his way;

                                 even when he will be old he will not depart from it.

There are at most two similar translations to this one in all the bibles I have inspected.  Almost all others have something like “Train a child in the way he should go ....”  Needless to say, this variation ignores the Hebrew, and in my opinion misses its apparent intent.  I believe the scribe was instructing a parent to go along with the early inclination of the infant so that it learns trust and experiences contentment before the more rigorous teaching begins.  As I see it, the scribe understood that the earliest learning shapes personality and character, and stays with a person for much of his or her life.

עָשִׁיר בְּרָשִׁים יִמְשׁוֹל וְעֶבֶד לֹוֶה לְאִישׁ מַלְוֶה׃   22:7

Prov. 22:7   A rich person will have dominion among the poor,

                                 as a borrower will be a servant to the lender.

זֹורֵעַ עַוְלָה (יִקְצֹור־) [יִקְצָר־]אָוֶן וְשֵׁבֶט עֶבְרָתֹו יִכְלֶה׃   22:8

Prov. 22:8   A sower of injustice will be a reaper of trouble,

                                 and the offshoot of his arrogance will fail.

The second non-error appears here.  The vav in the word in the parentheses is appropriate if the word is interpreted to be a verb/noun combination, which is the way I have translated it (will be a reaper).  The elimination of the vav from the word in the brackets makes it a simple active verb and is generally translated as reap or harvest.  While these are reasonably correct, my translation, which disallows the error, is also correct.

טוֹב־עַיִן הוּא יְבֹרָךְ כִּי־נָתַן מִלַּחְמוֹ לַדָּל׃   22:9

Prov. 22:9   A generous one will himself be blessed,

                                 that he gives from his bread to a poor person.

גָּרֵשׁ לֵץ וְיֵצֵא מָדוֹן וְיִשְׁבֹּת דִּין וְקָלוֹן׃   22:10

Prov. 22:10   Cast out a scorner and strife will go,

                                 and dispute and shame will cease.

אֹהֵב (טְהֹור־) [טְהָר־]לֵב חֵן פָתָיו רֵעֵהוּ מֶלֶךְ׃   22:11

Prov. 22:11   One who loves purity of heart, grace of his lips,

                                 a king would be his friend.

The third non-error appears here.  The vav in the word in the parentheses is appropriate if the word is interpreted to be a noun rather than an adjective, as in purity, instead of the more-often-found adjective pure (as in pure heart).  So the word in the brackets is not necessary.

עֵינֵי יְהוָה נָצְרוּ דָעַת וַיְסַלֵּף דִּבְרֵי בֹגֵד׃   22:12

Prov. 22:12   The "eyes" of the Lord guard knowledge,

                                 so He overthrows the words of a deceitful one.

אָמַר עָצֵל אֲרִי בַחוּץ בְּתוֹךְ רְחֹבוֹת אֵרָצֵחַ׃   22:13

Prov. 22:13   A sluggard thinks, "A lion is on the outside;

                                 in the midst of the open spaces I will be slain."

שׁוּחָה עֲמֻקָּה פִּי זָרֹות זְעוּם יְהוָה (יִפֹּול־) [יִפָּל־]שָׁם׃   22:14

Prov. 22:14   The mouth of strange women is a deep pit;

                                 who is abhorred of the Lord would be falling in there.

Here’s the fourth non-error. The word in the parentheses is spelled as a participle (which I translate as would be falling in).  The word in the brackets, spelled as an active verb, would also be correct (translated as would fall in), but is unnecessary.  Aside from this, the word translated as strange women is itself strange.  I can find no reasonable exposition of the term.  Many other translations have harlots or adulteresses (as well their incorrect singular forms), which need no explanation, but I don’t see that these terms fit well -- what is meant by their mouth is a deep pit?  Isn’t it their seduction that is a deep pit?  By using the term mouth, I believe the scribe was thinking of their speech as a deep pit.  They would entice an Israelite to stray from his faith.                  [Return to Prov. 23:28]

אִוֶּלֶת קְשׁוּרָה בְלֶב־נָעַר שֵׁבֶט מוּסָר יַרְחִיקֶנָּה מִמֶּנּוּ׃   22:15

Prov. 22:15   Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child.

                                 A chastening rod should put it far away from him.

עֹשֵׁק דָּל לְהַרְבּוֹת לוֹ נֹתֵן לְעָשִׁיר אַךְ־לְמַחְסוֹר׃   22:16

Prov. 22:16   Oppressing a poor person to increase oneself,

                                 giving to a rich individual,

                        would be only towards poverty.

הַט אָזְנְךָ וּשְׁמַע דִּבְרֵי חֲכָמִים וְלִבְּךָ תָּשִׁית לְדַעְתִּי׃   22:17

Prov. 22:17   Stretch your ear and hear the words of the wise,

                                 and you will set your heart to my knowledge.

כִּי־נָעִים כִּי־תִשְׁמְרֵם בְּבִטְנֶךָ יִכֹּנוּ יַחְדָּו עַל־שְׂפָתֶיךָ׃   22:18

Prov. 22:18   For it will be pleasant if you will keep them on your mind,

                                 they should be enduring all together on your lips.

Here we encounter the first verse that is a continuation of the previous one.  It is reminiscent of the verses in the first nine chapters of this book.  Verse 22:17 starts this monologue, which continues through v. 21.

לִהְיוֹת בַּיהוָה מִבְטַחֶךָ הוֹדַעְתִּיךָ הַיּוֹם אַף־אָתָּה׃   22:19

Prov. 22:19   Your trust being in the Lord,

                                 I make known to you this day, also you.

הֲלֹא כָתַבְתִּי לְךָ (שִׁלְשֹׁום) [שָׁלִישִׁים] בְּמֹועֵצֹת וָדָעַת׃   22:20

Prov. 22:20   Did not I write to you in the past

                                 with counsels and knowledge,

Here is the fifth non-error.  The word in the parentheses is correct and has the meaning of in the past.  The “correction” in the brackets is very peculiar because it appears not to be a proper Hebrew word.  If anything, the first yad should be a vav. and the word would then be translated as the inappropriate number thirty.  Aside from this, the verse offers some interesting evidence that the scribe wrote often to the recipient with his advice.  I believe this is an important piece of evidence that informs us that the scribe had one particular person in mind for all of the information he was offering.  And he was at some distance away so that he had to write to him.

לְהֹודִיעֲךָ קֹשְׁטְ אִמְרֵי אֱמֶת לְהָשִׁיב אֲמָרִים אֱמֶת לְשֹׁלְחֶיךָ׃   22:21

Prov. 22:21   making known to you the certainty of the sayings of truth

                                 to bring back the words of truth to those sending you?

More mystery!  What’s this about the recipient having been sent someplace?  I’ve found some discussion of this, but little of it seems meaningful or insightful.

אַל־תִּגְזָל־דָּל כִּי דַל־הוּא וְאַל־תְּדַכֵּא עָנִי בַשָּׁעַר׃   22:22

Prov. 22:22   You must not rob a poor person, for he is weak,

                                 and you must not crush a humble person at the gate.

כִּי־יְהוָה יָרִיב רִיבָם וְקָבַע אֶת־קֹבְעֵיהֶם נָפֶשׁ׃   22:23

Prov. 22:23   For the Lord shall plead their cause,

                                 and He will rob their despoilers of life.

Here is another continuing verse, starting with v. 22 and ending here.  Then we have two more such in vss. 24 and 25 below.  Following that are two more in vss. 26 and 27.

אַל־תִּתְרַע אֶת־בַּעַל אָף וְאֶת־אִישׁ חֵמוֹת לֹא תָבוֹא׃   22:24

Prov. 22:24   You must not befriend a man of anger;

                                 nor shall you go with a person of wrath,

פֶּן־תֶּאֱלַף (אָרְחָתֹו) [אֹרְחֹתָיו] וְלָקַחְתָּ מֹוקֵשׁ לְנַפְשֶׁךָ׃   22:25

Prov. 22:25   lest you learn his way

                                 and bring a snare to your soul.

Here is the sixth and final non-error.  The word in the parentheses is spelled in the singular, and translated as his way.  The word in the brackets is spelled in the plural, and is translated elsewhere as his ways.  Either of these is correct, so this error is nonexistent.

אַל־תְּהִי בְתֹקְעֵי־כָף בַּעֹרְבִים מַשָּׁאוֹת׃   22:26

Prov. 22:26   You must not be with the clappers of the hand,

                                 with those making surety for loans.

See Prov. 6:1, 11:15 and 17:18 for more on clapping hands.

אִם־אֵין־לְךָ לְשַׁלֵּם לָמָּה יִקַּח מִשְׁכָּבְךָ מִתַּחְתֶּיךָ׃   22:27

Prov. 22:27   If you would not have to pay,

                                 why should your bed be taken away from under you?

This verse is a continuation of v. 22:26.

אַל־תַּסֵּג גְּבוּל עוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר עָשׂוּ אֲבוֹתֶיךָ׃   22:28

Prov. 22:28   You must not remove a perpetual border

                                 that your ancestors made.                              [Return to Prov. 23:10]

חָזִיתָ אִישׁ מָהִיר בִּמְלַאכְתּוֹ לִפְנֵי־מְלָכִים יִתְיַצָּב בַּל־יִתְיַצֵּב לִפְנֵי חֲשֻׁכִּים׃   22:29

Prov. 22:29   You see someone expert in his workmanship:

                                 He could take a stand before kings;

                         he need not stand before lowly men.


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