Proverbs 30


דִּבְרֵי אָגוּר בִּן־יָקֶה הַמַּשָּׂא נְאֻם הַגֶּבֶר לְאִיתִיאֵל לְאִיתִיאֵל וְאֻכָל׃   30:1

Prov. 30:1   The words of Agur son of Jakeh: The man declared the utterance to Ithiel, to Ithiel and


The source of this chapter and its author are unknown.  Speculation runs the gamut of possibilities.  However, the change in style is very obvious, and the sheer simplicity -- even profundity -- of the author’s observations is startling.  Please observe that the next two verses can be assumed to be either false modesty or a form of irony.  I prefer the latter.

כִּי בַעַר אָנֹכִי מֵאִישׁ וְלֹא־בִינַת אָדָם לִי׃   30:2

Prov. 30:2   Though I may be more stupid than anyone,

                                and the discernment of humanity is not mine,

וְלֹא־לָמַדְתִּי חָכְמָה וְדַעַת קְדֹשִׁים אֵדָע׃   30:3

Prov. 30:3   and I have not learned wisdom,

                                that I could discern the knowledge of the Holy One,

מִי עָלָה־שָׁמַיִם וַיֵּרַד מִי אָסַף־רוּחַ בְּחָפְנָיו מִי צָרַר־מַיִם בַּשִּׂמְלָה מִי הֵקִים כָּל־אַפְסֵי־אָרֶץ   30:4              מַה־שְּמוֹ וּמַה־שֶּׁם־בְּנוֹ כִּי תֵדָע׃

Prov. 30:4   who has ascended heaven and descended,

                                who has gathered the wind in his hands,

                       who has restrained the waters by boundaries,

                                who has erected all the ends of the earth?

                       What is his name, and what is the name of his son, if you would know?

כָּל־אִמְרַת אֱלוֹהַּ צְרוּפָה מָגֵן הוּא לַחֹסִים בּוֹ׃   30:5

Prov. 30:5   Every utterance of God is refined;

                                He is a Shield to those taking refuge in Him.

The word I translate as is refined is to be taken in the sense of a precious metal.

אַל־תּוֹסְףְּ עַל־דְּבָרָיו פֶּן־יוֹכִיחַ בְּךָ וְנִכְזָבְתָּ׃   30:6

Prov. 30:6   You must not add onto His words,

                                lest He would judge because of you

                       and you be proven a liar.

שְׁתַּיִם שָׁאַלְתִּי מֵאִתָּךְ אַל־תִּמְנַע מִמֶּנִּי בְּטֶרֶם אָמוּת׃   30:7

Prov. 30:7   I ask from You the two things

                                You must not withhold from me before I should die:

שָׁוְא וּדְבַר־כָּזָב הַרְחֵק מִמֶּנִּי רֵאשׁ וָעֹשֶׁר אַל־תִּתֶּן־לִי הַטְרִיפֵנִי לֶחֶם חֻקִּי׃   30:8

Prov. 30:8   Put vanity and lying speech far away from me.

                                May You appoint to me neither poverty nor wealth,

                       feed me my prescribed food,

Oh?  Three things, not two?  No, I’m guessing from the next verse below that the third English line of this verse is a metaphorical explanation of line 2 or an enlargement upon it.

פֶּן אֶשְׂבַּע וְכִחַשְׁתִּי וְאָמַרְתִּי מִי יְהוָה וּפֶן־אִוָּרֵשׁ וְגָנַבְתִּי וְתָפַשְׂתִּי שֵׁם אֱלֹהָי׃    30:9

Prov. 30:9   lest I would become too satisfied

                                and deny falsely and say, "Who is the Lord?"

                      or lest I would become too poor and have to steal,

                                and wield the name of my God.

The word I translate as wield in the last line may be intended to mean in a profane way.  Odd that the word for profane was not used here.  The author may have been describing a procedure having to do with stealing that was prevalent in his day, but of which we know little or nothing.

אַל־תַּלְשֵׁן עֶבֶד אֶל־ (אֲדֹנֹו) [אֲדֹנָיו] פֶּן־יְקַלֶּלְךָ וְאָשָׁמְתָּ׃   30:10

Prov. 30:10   You must not slander a servant to his master,

                                lest he should curse you and you be guilty.

We have here another puzzling non-error.  The word in the parentheses, translated as his master, is singular.  The word in the brackets has a yad added.  That would make it plural as in his masters, which would be very obviously wrong -- unless the antecedent of the pronoun he is the servant and not the master.  But I doubt this.  Wouldn’t the master be the one who curses the slanderer?

דּוֹר אָבִיו יְקַלֵּל וְאֶת־אִמּוֹ לֹא יְבָרֵךְ׃   30:11

Prov. 30:11   A generation may curse its father,

                                and not bless its mother.

Was this the existing generation in the time of Agur?  If so, the time period was not Solomon’s.  It was most likely later.

דּוֹר טָהוֹר בְּעֵינָיו וּמִצֹּאָתוֹ לֹא רֻחָץ׃   30:12

Prov. 30:12   A generation may be pure in its own eyes,

                                yet it has not washed off its filth.

דּוֹר מָה־רָמוּ עֵינָיו וְעַפְעַפָּיו יִנָּשֵׂאוּ׃   30:13

Prov. 30:13   A generation, its eyes are so lofty,

                                that its eyelids must be lifted up!

דֹּור חֲרָבֹות שִׁנָּיו וּמַאֲכָלֹות מְתַלְּעֹתָיו לֶאֱכֹל עֲנִיִּים מֵאֶרֶץ וְאֶבְיֹונִים מֵאָדָם׃   30:14

Prov. 30:14   A generation, its teeth are swords

                                and its fangs are knives

                         to consume the poor from the earth

                                and the needy from out of humanity!

לַעֲלוּקָה שְׁתֵּי בָנֹות הַב הַב שָׁלֹושׁ הֵנָּה לֹא תִשְׂבַּעְנָה אַרְבַּע לֹא־אָמְרוּ הֹון׃   30:15

Prov. 30:15   The leech has two daughters, Give, Give.

                                These three can not be satisfied.

                         Four never say, "Enough:"

Some commentators mention that the two daughters may refer to the two points on the leech at which it draws blood.  I believe the buildup to four in this verse is prelude to the next verse in which the four are identified.

שְׁאוֹל וְעֹצֶר רָחַם אֶרֶץ לֹא־שָׂבְעָה מַּיִם וְאֵשׁ לֹא־אָמְרָה הוֹן׃   30:16

Prov. 30:16   The netherworld and a barren womb!

                                The earth never has its fill of water.

                         And fire never says, "Enough."

עַיִן תִּלְעַג לְאָב וְתָבוּז לִיקֲּהַת־אֵם יִקְּרוּהָ עֹרְבֵי־נַחַל וְיֹאכְלוּהָ בְנֵי־נָשֶׁר׃   30:17

Prov. 30:17   An eye would have ridicule for a father

                                and despise obeying a mother:

                         Ravens of the valley would pluck it out

                                and the young of the vulture would eat it.

שְׁלֹשָׁה הֵמָּה נִפְלְאוּ מִמֶּנִּי (וְאַרְבָּע) [וְאַרְבָּעָה] לֹא יְדַעְתִּים׃   30:18

Prov. 30:18   These three are more difficult than I can understand

                                -- even four -- I do not know them:

The word in the parentheses, translated as four, is not in error, in my opinion.  Its spelling indicates the feminine form, which is what it should be to match the gender of the word translated as three, which is also feminine.  The “correction” in the brackets makes it masculine.  Another strange oversight by the sages?

דֶּרֶךְ הַנֶּשֶׁר בַּשָּׁמַיִם דֶּרֶךְ נָחָשׁ עֲלֵי צוּר דֶּרֶךְ־אֳנִיָּה בְלֶב־יָם וְדֶרֶךְ גֶּבֶר בְּעַלְמָה׃    30:19

Prov. 30:19   The path of an eagle in the sky,

                                the manner of a serpent upon a rock,

                          the voyage of a ship in the midst of the sea,

                                and the way of a man with a young woman!

כֵּן דֶּרֶךְ אִשָּׁה מְנָאָפֶת אָכְלָה וּמָחֲתָה פִיהָ וְאָמְרָה לֹא־פָעַלְתִּי אָוֶן׃   30:20

Prov. 30:20   Thus is the manner of an adulterous woman:

                                She feeds, then wipes her mouth

                         and says, "I have done no wickedness."

תַּחַת שָׁלוֹשׁ רָגְזָה אֶרֶץ וְתַחַת אַרְבַּע לֹא־תוּכַל שְׂאֵת׃   30:21

Prov. 30:21   For three things the earth quakes

                                -- even for four, it would not be able to endure:

תַּחַת־עֶבֶד כִּי יִמְלוֹךְ וְנָבָל כִּי יִשְׂבַּע־לָחֶם׃   30:22

Prov. 30:22   For a slave if he were made a king,

                                and a fool when he would be sated of food,

תַּחַת שְׂנוּאָה כִּי תִבָּעֵל וְשִׁפְחָה כִּי־תִירַשׁ גְּבִרְתָּהּ׃   30:23

Prov. 30:23   for a hateful woman when she would be married,

                                and a handmaid if she were to succeed her mistress.

אַרְבָּעָה הֵם קְטַנֵּי־אָרֶץ וְהֵמָּה חֲכָמִים מְחֻכָּמִים׃   30:24

Prov. 30:24   These four are small things of the earth,

                                but they are wiser than wise:

הַנְּמָלִים עַם לֹא־עָז וַיָּכִינוּ בַקַּיִץ לַחְמָם׃   30:25

Prov. 30:25   The ants are a community with no strength,

                                yet they can provide their food in the summer,

שְׁפַנִּים עַם לֹא־עָצוּם וַיָּשִׂימוּ בַסֶּלַע בֵּיתָם׃   30:26

Prov. 30:26   rock badgers are not a mighty population,

                                yet they can make their house in a crag,

מֶלֶךְ אֵין לָאַרְבֶּה וַיֵּצֵא חֹצֵץ כֻּלּוֹ׃   30:27

Prov. 30:27   a swarm of locusts have no king,

                                yet can go forth picking off the whole of it,

שְׂמָמִית בְּיָדַיִם תְּתַפֵּשׂ וְהִיא בְּהֵיכְלֵי מֶלֶךְ׃   30:28

Prov. 30:28   the spider you can catch with the hands,

                                yet it is in the palaces of a king.

שְׁלֹשָׁה הֵמָּה מֵיטִיבֵי צָעַד וְאַרְבָּעָה מֵיטִבֵי לָכֶת׃   30:29

Prov. 30:29   These three are the most beautiful of stride

                                -- even four most beautiful of movement:

See Amos 1:3.

לַיִשׁ גִּבּוֹר בַּבְּהֵמָה וְלֹא־יָשׁוּב מִפְּנֵי־כֹל׃   30:30

Prov. 30:30   The lion, so mighty among the beast

                                that he will not turn away from any,

זַרְזִיר מָתְנַיִם אוֹ־תָיִשׁ וּמֶלֶךְ אַלְקוּם עִמּוֹ׃   30:31

Prov. 30:31   the greyhound, and the he-goat,

                                and a king, none rising up against him.

אִם־נָבַלְתָּ בְהִתְנַשֵּׂא וְאִם־זַמּוֹתָ יָד לְפֶה׃   30:32

Prov. 30:32   If you have been foolish to lift yourself up,

                                and if you have devised, keep silent.

כִּי מִיץ חָלָב יוֹצִיא חֶמְאָה וּמִיץ־אַף יוֹצִיא דָם וּמִיץ אַפַּיִם יוֹצִיא רִיב׃   30:33

Prov. 30:33   For the churning of milk will yield curd,

                                and twisting the nose yield blood,

                         so the forcing of those angry will yield strife.


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