Proverbs 11


מֹאזְנֵי מִרְמָה תֹּועֲבַת יְהוָה וְאֶבֶן שְׁלֵמָה רְצֹונֹו׃   11:1

Prov. 11:1   Scales of deceit are an abomination of the Lord,

                              while a perfect weight is His delight.

בָּא־זָדֹון וַיָּבֹא קָלֹון וְאֶת־צְנוּעִים חָכְמָה׃   11:2

Prov. 11:2   Pride comes, then comes shame,

                              but wisdom is with the lowly.

I presume that the lowly are those who are humble and unassuming.

תֻּמַּת יְשָׁרִים תַּנְחֵם וְסֶלֶף בֹּוגְדִים וְשַׁדָּם׃   11:3

Prov. 11:3   The integrity of the upright shall guide them,

                              but the perverseness of the deceitful?

                       Yes, it will destroy them.

לֹא־יֹועִיל הֹון בְּיֹום עֶבְרָה וּצְדָקָה תַּצִּיל מִמָּוֶת׃   11:4

Prov. 11:4   Wealth will not avail at the time of wrath,

                              while righteousness will deliver from death.

I have to assume that the wrath mentioned here is that of God in the day of judgment.  Evil ones, although they may be wealthy, will not escape God’s “wrath.”  But those who are righteous (wealthy or not) will be delivered.

צִדְקַת תָּמִים תְּיַשֵּׁר דַּרְכּוֹ וּבְרִשְׁעָתוֹ יִפֹּל רָשָׁע׃   11:5

Prov. 11:5   The righteousness of the wholesome shall make one's path straight,

                              but by his own wickedness a wicked one shall fall.

The path of the righteous is straight, but the path of one who is wicked will be crooked and stony, and he will stumble and fall.

צִדְקַת יְשָׁרִים תַּצִּילֵם וּבְהַוַּת בֹּגְדִים יִלָּכֵדוּ׃   11:6

Prov. 11:6   The righteousness of the upright shall deliver them,

                              but the deceitful shall be seized by their own desire.

בְּמוֹת אָדָם רָשָׁע תֹּאבַד תִּקְוָה וְתוֹחֶלֶת אוֹנִים אָבָדָה׃   11:7

Prov. 11:7   With the death of a wicked man, expectation shall perish,

                              as the hope of potency vanishes.

I suppose this verse is commenting that when a wicked one dies, so do his expectations and any hope of effectiveness.  If my observation is right, then isn’t this obvious?  And is it true only for the wicked?  Isn’t it also true for the righteous one?

צַדִּיק מִצָּרָה נֶחֱלָץ וַיָּבֹא רָשָׁע תַּחְתָּיו׃   11:8

Prov. 11:8   A righteous one is delivered from trouble,

                              but a wicked one comes in its place.

The wicked one will be in the midst of trouble (from which the righteous one is delivered).

בְּפֶה חָנֵף יַשְׁחִת רֵעֵהוּ וּבְדַעַת צַדִּיקִים יֵחָלֵצוּ׃   11:9

Prov. 11:9   A godless one could destroy his neighbor with the mouth,

                              but by knowledge the righteous shall rescue.

In this verse a godless one is contrasted with one who has knowledge.  As the scribe has informed us already, knowledge is the knowledge of God, of the Torah.  But how does he mean that a godless one can destroy someone with the mouth?  By leading him astray, away from the way of the Lord?  By intimidating him?  By lying about him?  By spreading false rumors about him?  All of the above?  But the righteous, having the knowledge of the Lord, can rescue the victim of the godless one.  If this is what the scribe is telling us, then I think his view is somewhat oversimplified.  Those being led astray often cannot be rescued.  Can the victim himself have been righteous?  Could he rescue himself?  Like many aphorisms, might this one be exaggerated?

בְּטוּב צַדִּיקִים תַּעֲלֹץ קִרְיָה וּבַאֲבֹד רְשָׁעִים רִנָּה׃   11:10

Prov. 11:10   Because of the goodness of the righteous the city shall rejoice,

                              and because of the destruction of the wicked, a cry of joy.

Ah!  If only this were always true!

בְּבִרְכַּת יְשָׁרִים תָּרוּם קָרֶת וּבְפִי רְשָׁעִים תֵּהָרֵס׃   11:11

Prov. 11:11   By the blessing of the upright a city can be exalted,

                              but by the mouth of the wicked it can be destroyed.

בָּז־לְרֵעֵהוּ חֲסַר־לֵב וְאִישׁ תְּבוּנוֹת יַחֲרִישׁ׃   11:12

Prov. 11:12   One showing contempt to his neighbor lacks understanding,

                              while one of intelligence would remain silent.

This verse seems to be implying that the one of intelligence might also harbor contempt for his neighbor; he just wouldn’t show it.                                                                       [Return to Prov. 12:8]

הוֹלֵךְ רָכִיל מְגַלֶּה־סּוֹד וְנֶאֱמַן־רוּחַ מְכַסֶּה דָבָר׃   11:13

Prov. 11:13   A tale bearer going about is a discloser of secret counsel,

                              but one faithful of spirit is a concealer of a word.

בְּאֵין תַּחְבֻּלוֹת יִפָּל־עָם וּתְשׁוּעָה בְּרֹב יוֹעֵץ׃   11:14

Prov. 11:14   Without wise counsel a people would fall away,

                              but salvation is in a multitude of advice giving.

It depends on who is giving the advice.  No?  And who is giving the wise counsel?  Not the wise person.  He should remain silent (unless the one receiving the counsel is himself wise?).  See Prov. 9:8.

רַע־יֵרוֹעַ כִּי־עָרַב זָר וְשֹׂנֵא תֹקְעִים בּוֹטֵחַ׃   11:15

Prov. 11:15   One could be badly hurt if he goes surety for a stranger,

                              but a hater of those who strike hands shall be secure.

Is the phrase “those who strike hands” a colloquialism for entering into a loan agreement?  See Prov. 6:1.

                                                                                            [Return to Prov. 17:18]           [Return to Prov. 22:26]

אֵשֶׁת־חֵן תִּתְמֹךְ כָּבוֹד וְעָרִיצִים יִתְמְכוּ־עֹשֶׁר׃   11:16

Prov. 11:16   A woman of grace might gain honor,

                              but mighty men shall gain wealth.

גֹּמֵל נַפְשׁוֹ אִישׁ חָסֶד וְעֹכֵר שְׁאֵרוֹ אַכְזָרִי׃   11:17

Prov. 11:17   A kind one rewards his soul,

                              whereas one cruel troubles his flesh.

רָשָׁע עֹשֶׂה פְעֻלַּת־שָׁקֶר וְזֹרֵעַ צְדָקָה שֶׂכֶר אֱמֶת׃   11:18

Prov. 11:18   A wicked one accomplishes work of deceit,

                              but the sower of righteousness employs truth.

כֵּן־צְדָקָה לְחַיִּים וּמְרַדֵּף רָעָה לְמוֹתוֹ׃   11:19

Prov. 11:19   Just as righteousness is for life,

                              so the pursuit of evil is for one's death.

תּוֹעֲבַת יְהוָה עִקְּשֵׁי־לֵב וּרְצוֹנוֹ תְּמִימֵי דָרֶךְ׃   11:20

Prov. 11:20   The perverse of heart are an abomination of the Lord,

                              while those wholesome of manner are His delight.

יָד לְיָד לֹא־יִנָּקֶה רָּע וְזֶרַע צַדִּיקִים נִמְלָט׃   11:21

Prov. 11:21   Shake hands:  An evil one will not go unpunished,

                              while any descendant of the righteous shall be delivered.

The phrase I translate as Shake hands is literally hand to hand.  Others translate the phrase loosely as My hand on it!  My translation tends to more closely match the dictionary idiom.                    [Return to Prov. 16:5]

נֶזֶם זָהָב בְּאַף חֲזִיר אִשָּׁה יָפָה וְסָרַת טָעַם׃   11:22

Prov. 11:22   A woman, beautiful, but departing from taste,

                              is a gold ring in the nose of a swine.

This is an overly strong statement and apparently prejudiced as well as a poor simile.  Whose taste is the scribe referring to?  Is it the “norm,” the current fashion?  His taste?  Or does he mean by taste, more than that?  Is “departing from taste” a euphemism for harlotry?  Or gossiping?  Or what?  And the simile I’d use if I were writing this is a gold ring in a dirty nose.

תַּאֲוַת צַדִּיקִים אַךְ־טוֹב תִּקְוַת רְשָׁעִים עֶבְרָה׃   11:23

Prov. 11:23   The desire of the righteous is only excellence;

                              the expectation of the wicked is excess.

יֵשׁ מְפַזֵּר וְנוֹסָף עוֹד וְחוֹשֵׂךְ מִיֹּשֶׁר אַךְ־לְמַחְסוֹר׃   11:24

Prov. 11:24   There might be one who is scattering,

                              but he is increasing still,

                         and another who is withholding more than is right,

                              yet he is in need.

נֶפֶשׁ־בְּרָכָה תְדֻשָּׁן וּמַרְוֶה גַּם־הוּא יוֹרֶא׃   11:25

Prov. 11:25   A blessing soul shall become prosperous;

                              and one watering shall also be watered himself.

Not the typical couplet here.  The second line complements the first, rather than offering a contrast.

מֹנֵעַ בָּר יִקְּבֻהוּ לְאוֹם וּבְרָכָה לְרֹאשׁ מַשְׁבִּיר׃   11:26

Prov. 11:26   A withholder of corn, the people will curse him,

                              but a blessing shall be for the head of a seller of grain.

שֹׁחֵר טֹוב יְבַקֵּשׁ רָצֹון וְדֹרֵשׁ רָעָה תְבֹואֶנּוּ׃   11:27

Prov. 11:27   A diligent seeker of good might desire favor,

                              but a practitioner of evil, it shall come to him.

I don’t think I understand this verse.  The Hebrew is convoluted and its meaning is uncertain.  There are three different words here that have the same general translation, to seek (the first, third, and fifth).  But they obviously (at least to me) were not meant to be identically translated.  The first part of the couplet seems to imply that favor might come to the seeker of good, while the second part seems to state that evil will surely come to one who practices it.  That’s the best I can do with this verse.

בֹּוטֵחַ בְּעָשְׁרֹו הוּא יִפֹּל וְכֶעָלֶה צַדִּיקִים יִפְרָחוּ׃   11:28

Prov. 11:28   Trusting in his own riches, one shall fail,

                              but the righteous shall blossom like foliage.

עֹוכֵר בֵּיתֹו יִנְחַל־רוּחַ וְעֶבֶד אֱוִיל לַחֲכַם־לֵב׃   11:29

Prov. 11:29   One troubling his own house shall inherit wind,

                              so would a quarrelsome servant to one wise of heart.

פְּרִי־צַדִּיק עֵץ חַיִּים וְלֹקֵחַ נְפָשֹׂות חָכָם׃   11:30

Prov. 11:30   Fruit of a righteous one is of the tree of life,

                              as a wise person is leading souls.

Another untypical couplet.

הֵן צַדִּיק בָּאָרֶץ יְשֻׁלָּם אַף כִּי־רָשָׁע וְחֹוטֵא׃   11:31

Prov. 11:31   If any righteous one on the earth is to be paid,

                              surely, then, the wicked one and the sinner.

I wonder, is the scribe raising a hypothetical question in the first part of this couplet by using the preposition if?  Or is the if only introductory to the answer in the second part?  What I think the scribe means is, given that the righteous are paid for their righteousness, then the wicked would be paid for their evil.  Of course this is the theme in many of the verses in this book, and in fact, much of the bible.  All behavior earns reward or punishment.  As you may know, I don’t hold to this hypothesis, unless it relates to the spiritual world, to the soul, to the afterlife.  To my mind, believing too strongly  that our behavior is appropriately rewarded or punished, which in the “physical mundane” world appears not to be true, can lead to unhealthy dread of the Lord and/or to corruption of humankind.  See my companion web site for more on this topic.                                                       [Return to Prov. 12:1]


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