Proverbs 25


We will find in this chapter many more continuing verses.  In addition, the Hebrew of some of the verses is even more terse than before, which makes the English come out differently formatted.  Maybe it’s due to the men of Hezekiah, who “transcribed” them (see the first verse).  Remember that the time of Hezekiah was some hundreds of years after Solomon’s reign.  I wonder if some or all of these were composed or at least modified by Hezekiah himself.

גַּם־אֵלֶּה מִשְׁלֵי שְׁלֹמֹה אֲשֶׁר הֶעְתִּיקוּ אַנְשֵׁי חִזְקִיָּה מֶלֶךְ־יְהוּדָה׃   25:1

Prov. 25:1   These are also proverbs of Solomon,

                                which men of Hezekiah, king of Judah, transcribed.

כְּבֹד אֱלֹהִים הַסְתֵּר דָּבָר וּכְבֹד מְלָכִים חֲקֹר דָּבָר׃   25:2

Prov. 25:2   The glory of God is a hidden thing,

                                and the glory of kings is searching out a matter.

I believe this verse contrasts the Lord’s inscrutability with a king’s openness.  Aside from its being an impossible comparison, God versus a king, I don’t even believe the second part of the couplet.  It may be a matter of relativity, but I believe that most rulers are also inscrutable.  To me the only contrast is one of degree.  God’s glory is not within our reach or grasp, but a king’s may be partially understood.

שָׁמַיִם לָרוּם וָאָרֶץ לָעֹמֶק וְלֵב מְלָכִים אֵין חֵקֶר׃   25:3

Prov. 25:3   Heaven for height and the earth for depth

                                and the heart of kings are not searchable.

הָגֹו סִיגִים מִכָּסֶף וַיֵּצֵא לַצֹּרֵף כֶּלִי׃   25:4

Prov. 25:4   Remove dross from silver,

                                and a vessel comes forth for the refiner.

I imagine this is a reference to a human as the silver and dross, and the refiner being the Lord.

הָגֹו רָשָׁע לִפְנֵי־מֶלֶךְ וְיִכֹּון בַּצֶּדֶק כִּסְאֹו׃   25:5

Prov. 25:5   Drive out wickedness before the king,

                                and his throne will be established in righteousness.

אַל־תִּתְהַדַּר לִפְנֵי־מֶלֶךְ וּבִמְקוֹם גְּדֹלִים אַל־תַּעֲמֹד׃   25:6

Prov. 25:6   You must not honor yourself before a king,

                                or stand in the place of greatness.

כִּי טוֹב אֲמָר־לְךָ עֲלֵה הֵנָּה מֵהַשְׁפִּילְךָ לִפְנֵי נָדִיב אֲשֶׁר רָאוּ עֵינֶיךָ׃   25:7

Prov. 25:7   For it is better he say to you, "Come up here,"

                                than he humble you before a noble whom your eyes see.

אַל־תֵּצֵא לָרִב מַהֵר פֶּן מַה־תַּעֲשֶׂה בְּאַחֲרִיתָהּ בְּהַכְלִים אֹתְךָ רֵעֶךָ׃   25:8

Prov. 25:8   You must not go forth to contend hastily,

                                lest what will you do at its end

                      when your neighbor could be shaming you?

רִיבְךָ רִיב אֶת־רֵעֶךָ וְסוֹד אַחֵר אַל־תְּגָל׃   25:9

Prov. 25:9   Plead your cause with your neighbor,

                                but you must not reveal an intimacy of another,

פֶּן־יְחַסֶּדְךָ שֹׁמֵעַ וְדִבָּתְךָ לֹא תָשׁוּב׃   25:10

Prov. 25:10   lest the hearer would reproach you,

                                and not turn away your shame.

תַּפּוּחֵי זָהָב בְּמַשְׂכִּיּוֹת כָּסֶף דָּבָר דָּבֻר עַל־אָפְנָיו׃   25:11

Prov. 25:11   Apples of gold in settings of silver:

                                A word appropriately spoken!

Some commentators say this refers to a gold carving with a silver net over it, so that with a quick glance only the silver can be seen.  You have to look more closely to see the gold, as you might to recognize an appropriate word.

נֶזֶם זָהָב וַחֲלִי־כָתֶם מוֹכִיחַ חָכָם עַל־אֹזֶן שֹׁמָעַת׃   25:12

Prov. 25:12   A gold earring or a pure gold ornament

                                is a skillful reproof upon an obedient ear.

This one is a bit strange.  Is this verse referring to a reward as a suitable reproof?  No, what it is saying is the following:  A skillful reproof to one who is willing to listen and learn is seen by him as a valuable reward.

כְּצִנַּת־שֶׁלֶג בְּיוֹם קָצִיר צִיר נֶאֱמָן לְשֹׁלְחָיו וְנֶפֶשׁ אֲדֹנָיו יָשִׁיב׃   25:13

Prov. 25:13   Like a breath of snow at harvest time

                                is a messenger who is faithful to his senders,

                         as he can refresh the soul of his masters.

Would you agree that this one is an even stranger verse?  A breath of snow at harvest time?  Maybe the author or scribe is exaggerating.  Maybe his metaphor really means a cool breeze to refresh a hard-working sweating field laborer.  I imagine that could be like a messenger who is faithful to his sender(s).

נְשִׂיאִים וְרוּחַ וְגֶשֶׁם אָיִן אִישׁ מִתְהַלֵּל בְּמַתַּת־שָׁקֶר׃   25:14

Prov. 25:14   Mists and wind yet no rain:

                                One who boasts about a deceptive gift.

I have been able to find no commentary on this verse, and I don’t understand why.  Do all translators and scholars understand the meaning of this verse?  I don’t think I do.  Its meaning escapes me.  But I must not be thinking deeply enough.  The author or scribe has often employed language that was obscure.  Okay, maybe the meaning is that listening to someone boasting about a gift he is giving but never does feels like a false promise of rain.

בְּאֹרֶךְ אַפַּיִם יְפֻתֶּה קָצִין וְלָשׁוֹן רַכָּה תִּשְׁבָּר־גָּרֶם׃   25:15

Prov. 25:15   By long forbearance can a ruler be persuaded,

                                and a soft tongue can shatter bone.

דְּבַשׁ מָצָאתָ אֱכֹל דַּיֶּךָּ פֶּן־תִּשְׂבָּעֶנּוּ וַהֲקֵאתוֹ׃   25:16

Prov. 25:16   You find honey; eat only enough,

                                lest you have it in excess and vomit it up.

הֹקַר רַגְלְךָ מִבֵּית רֵעֶךָ פֶּן־יִשְׂבָּעֲךָ וּשְׂנֵאֶךָ׃   25:17

Prov. 25:17   Keep your foot scarce from the house of your neighbor,

                                lest he get his fill of you and start to hate you.

מֵפִיץ וְחֶרֶב וְחֵץ שָׁנוּן אִישׁ עֹנֶה בְרֵעֵהוּ עֵד שָׁקֶר׃   25:18

Prov. 25:18   A hammer or a sword or a sharp arrow:

                                A person testifying false testimony against his neighbor.

שֵׁן רֹעָה וְרֶגֶל מוּעָדֶת מִבְטָח בּוֹגֵד בְּיוֹם צָרָה׃   25:19

Prov. 25:19   A broken tooth or a stumbling foot:

                                Trusting a treacherous person in a time of trouble.

מַעֲדֶה בֶּגֶד בְּיוֹם קָרָה חֹמֶץ עַל־נָתֶר וְשָׁר בַּשִּׁרִים עַל לֶב־רָע׃   25:20

Prov. 25:20   Removing a garment on a day of cold, vinegar on nitre,

                                and singing with lyric songs concerning a miserable heart!

Pour vinegar on biblical nitre (which is different from modern nitre) and it effervesces energetically.

אִם־רָעֵב שֹׂנַאֲךָ הַאֲכִלֵהוּ לָחֶם וְאִם־צָמֵא הַשְׁקֵהוּ מָיִם׃   25:21

Prov. 25:21   Should one hating you be hungry, give him bread to eat,

                                and if thirsty, give him water to drink.

כִּי גֶחָלִים אַתָּה חֹתֶה עַל־רֹאשֹׁו וַיהוָה יְשַׁלֶּם־לָךְ׃   25:22

Prov. 25:22   For hot coals you would be piling up on his head,

                                and the Lord will make it good for you.

רוּחַ צָפוֹן תְּחוֹלֵל גָּשֶׁם וּפָנִים נִזְעָמִים לְשׁוֹן סָתֶר׃   25:23

Prov. 25:23   A north wind will bring forth rain,

                                as a slanderous tongue, an indignant countenance.

טֹוב שֶׁבֶת עַל־פִּנַּת־גָּג מֵאֵשֶׁת (מִדֹונִים) [מִדְיָנִים] וּבֵית חָבֶר׃   25:24

Prov. 25:24   Dwelling on the corner of a roof is better

                                than a quarrelsome wife and a house shared.

This verse is almost identical to Prov. 21:9.  Except for one letter of one word, they are identical (but the earlier verse doesn’t have the error in the parentheses, one we’ve seen twice before)).  As a result of that one letter, the English changes a bit.

מַיִם קָרִים עַל־נֶפֶשׁ עֲיֵפָה וּשְׁמוּעָה טֹובָה מֵאֶרֶץ מֶרְחָק׃   25:25

Prov. 25:25   Cool water for a faint soul,

                                and good news from a distant land!

מַעְיָן נִרְפָּשׂ וּמָקֹור מָשְׁחָת צַדִּיק מָט לִפְנֵי־רָשָׁע׃   25:26

Prov. 25:26   A fouled spring or a corrupted fountain:

                                A righteous person tottering before a wicked one.

I think what is meant here is that the righteous person doesn’t just totter.  I suspect tottering is a euphemism for a sign of significant weakness in the presence of an evil person.

אָכֹל דְּבַשׁ הַרְבֹּות לֹא־טֹוב וְחֵקֶר כְּבֹדָם כָּבֹוד׃   25:27

Prov. 25:27   Eating too much honey is not good;

                                nor is investigating the abundance of others' glory.

This scribe uses honey as a frequent metaphor.  Here he compares eating too much honey with a presumed excessive enjoyment of someone questioning the glory of another.  Remember one eating too much honey could get sick (v. 25:16 above).

עִיר פְּרוּצָה אֵין חֹומָה אִישׁ אֲשֶׁר אֵין מַעְצָר לְרוּחֹו׃   25:28

Prov. 25:28   A city broken open with no wall:

                                A person who has no restraint for his spirit!


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