Proverbs 3


בְּנִי תֹּורָתִי אַל־תִּשְׁכָּח וּמִצְוֹתַי יִצֹּר לִבֶּךָ׃   3:1

Prov. 3:1   My son, you must not forget my teaching,

                              and let your heart keep my commandments.

כִּי אֹרֶךְ יָמִים וּשְׁנֹות חַיִּים וְשָׁלֹום יֹוסִיפוּ לָךְ׃   3:2

Prov. 3:2   For length of days, and years of living and peace will be added to you.

חֶסֶד וֶאֱמֶת אַל־יַעַזְבֻךָ קָשְׁרֵם עַל־גַּרְגְּרֹותֶיךָ כָּתְבֵם עַל־לוּחַ לִבֶּךָ׃   3:3

Prov. 3:3   May kindness and truth never leave you.

                              Bind them upon your neck,

                    write them upon the tablet of your heart.

This verse contains an unacknowledged error.  The seventh word contains a yad that makes its translation plural and it should be singular.  The translation as the word is spelled is your necks.  Clearly, it should be your neck.

It seems obvious to me that the verbs bind and write are meant to be figurative, not literal.  I suspect that other uses of these terms, especially in the Torah, are to be taken as figurative in many instances as well.

וּמְצָא־חֵן וְשֵׂכֶל־טֹוב בְּעֵינֵי אֱלֹהִים וְאָדָם׃   3:4

Prov. 3:4   Thus attain grace, and good sense in the eyes of God and humanity.

בְּטַח אֶל־יְהוָה בְּכָל־לִבֶּךָ וְאֶל־בִּינָתְךָ אַל־תִּשָּׁעֵן׃   3:5

Prov. 3:5   Have trust concerning the Lord with all your heart,

                              that you do not trust concerning your own mind.

This verse, as written, inspires my questioning of its advice.  Is following it humanly possible?  Can one mindlessly trust?  That’s what this verse implies.  But I must have a belief -- a faith -- in my trust concerning the Lord.  My trust comes from much deliberation (as well as experiencing the Lord’s presence in my life) and subsequent recognition of the wisdom of the words of the Torah and the rest of the bible.  And that belief is based in my mind (and heart?).  Thus I am incapable of following this advice.  I must trust my own mind, even when it comes to trust concerning the Lord.  I dare say the author, or anyone else, for that matter, should be equally incapable of blind trust as well.  It takes a personal decision to trust blindly, no matter how I look at it.  I am willing to concede, however, that the author may have sacrificed logic for the sake of the poetry.  I am also willing to concede that his intent may have been to exaggerate to emphasize his point -- that is, to not trust only in yourself.  As indicated in the next two verses, look to the Lord in all your decisions and actions.

בְּכָל־דְּרָכֶיךָ דָעֵהוּ וְהוּא יְיַשֵּׁר אֹרְחֹתֶיךָ׃   3:6

Prov. 3:6   Acknowledge Him in all your ways,

                              and He will direct your paths.

אַל־תְּהִי חָכָם בְּעֵינֶיךָ יְרָא אֶת־יְהוָה וְסוּר מֵרָע׃   3:7

Prov. 3:7   You must not be wise in your own eyes;

                              revere the Lord and turn away from evil.

I think you may find that the author doesn’t always seem to follow his own advice.            [Return to Prov. 5:1]

רִפְאוּת תְּהִי לְשָׁרֶּךָ וְשִׁקּוּי לְעַצְמֹותֶיךָ׃   3:8

Prov. 3:8   It will be healing for your navel

                              and refreshment for your bones.

כַּבֵּד אֶת־יְהוָה מֵהֹונֶךָ וּמֵרֵאשִׁית כָּל־תְּבוּאָתֶךָ׃   3:9

Prov. 3:9   Honor the Lord more than your substance

                              and more than the choicest of all your produce;

וְיִמָּלְאוּ אֲסָמֶיךָ שָׂבָע וְתִירֹושׁ יְקָבֶיךָ יִפְרֹצוּ׃   3:10

Prov. 3:10   then your barns will be made full of plenty,

                              and your vats will be overflowing new wine.

מוּסַר יְהוָה בְּנִי אַל־תִּמְאָס וְאַל־תָּקֹץ בְּתֹוכַחְתֹּו׃   3:11

Prov. 3:11   My son, you must not despise the discipline of the Lord,

                              or be grieved by His correction.

כִּי אֶת אֲשֶׁר יֶאֱהַב יְהוָה יֹוכִיחַ וּכְאָב אֶת־בֵּן יִרְצֶה׃   3:12

Prov. 3:12   For whom the Lord would love, He would correct,

                              even as a father, the son he would be pleased with.

אַשְׁרֵי אָדָם מָצָא חָכְמָה וְאָדָם יָפִיק תְּבוּנָה׃   3:13

Prov. 3:13   Happy is the one finding wisdom,

                              and the one who can provide understanding.

כִּי טֹוב סַחְרָהּ מִסְּחַר־כָּסֶף וּמֵחָרוּץ תְּבוּאָתָהּ׃   3:14

Prov. 3:14   For its profit is better than the profit of silver,

                              or than gold, its revenue.

יְקָרָה הִיא (מִפְּנִיִּים) [מִפְּנִינִים] וְכָל־חֲפָצֶיךָ לֹא יִשְׁווּ־בָהּ׃   3:15

Prov. 3:15   It is more precious than pearls,

                              and no desired things of yours can be compared to it.

The word in the parentheses (translated by me as more [precious] than pearls) is missing a nun.  The correction is in the brackets.

אֹרֶךְ יָמִים בִּימִינָהּ בִּשְׂמֹאולָהּ עֹשֶׁר וְכָבֹוד׃   3:16

Prov. 3:16   Length of days are in its right hand,

                              in its left hand, wealth and honor.

דְּרָכֶיהָ דַרְכֵי־נֹעַם וְכָל־נְתִיבֹותֶיהָ שָׁלֹום׃   3:17

Prov. 3:17   Its ways are ways of pleasantness,

                              and all its paths are of peace.

עֵץ־חַיִּים הִיא לַמַּחֲזִיקִים בָּהּ וְתֹמְכֶיהָ מְאֻשָּׁר׃   3:18

Prov. 3:18   It is the tree of life for those keeping hold on it,

                              and he who grasps it will be happy.

יְהוָה בְּחָכְמָה יָסַד־אָרֶץ כֹּונֵן מַיִם בִּתְבוּנָה׃   3:19

Prov. 3:19   With wisdom the Lord founded the earth;

                              He established the heavens with understanding.

בְּדַעְתֹּו תְּהֹומֹות נִבְקָעוּ וּשְׁחָקִים יִרְעֲפוּ־טָל׃   3:20

Prov. 3:20   With His knowledge the depths are split apart,

                              so the clouds can drip dew.

בְּנִי אַל־יָלֻזוּ מֵעֵינֶיךָ נְצֹר תֻּשִׁיָּה וּמְזִמָּה׃   3:21

Prov. 3:21   My son, let them not depart from your eyes;

                              preserve sound wisdom and discretion,

וְיִהְיוּ חַיִּים לְנַפְשֶׁךָ וְחֵן לְגַרְגְּרֹתֶיךָ׃   3:22

Prov. 3:22   as they are life for your soul

                              and grace for your neck.

This verse has the same unacknowledged error as in v. 3:3.  The last word contains an unwarranted yad.

אָז תֵּלֵךְ לָבֶטַח דַּרְכֶּךָ וְרַגְלְךָ לֹא תִגֹּוף׃   3:23

Prov. 3:23   Then you can walk your way safely

                              and your foot will not stumble.

The third word here, translated as safely, carries the same implication of tranquility as the identical word in Prov. 1:33 does (there translated as securely).

אִם־תִּשְׁכַּב לֹא־תִפְחָד וְשָׁכַבְתָּ וְעָרְבָה שְׁנָתֶךָ׃   3:24

Prov. 3:24   When you will lie down you will not be afraid,

                              so you can lie down and your sleep will be pleasant.

אַל־תִּירָא מִפַּחַד פִּתְאֹם וּמִשֹּׁאַת רְשָׁעִים כִּי תָבֹא׃   3:25

Prov. 3:25   You must not be frightened by sudden terror

                              and the devastation of the wicked, for it will come.

כִּי־יְהוָה יִהְיֶה בְכִסְלֶךָ וְשָׁמַר רַגְלְךָ מִלָּכֶד׃   3:26

Prov. 3:26   But let the Lord be in your confidence

                              and He will keep your foot from capture.

אַל־תִּמְנַע־טֹוב מִבְּעָלָיו בִּהְיֹות לְאֵל (יָדֶיךָ) [יָדְךָ] לַעֲשֹׂות׃   3:27

Prov. 3:27   You must not withhold good,

                              with its being in the power of your hands to do,

                       from whom it is due.

Once more an apparently arbitrary error judgment by the sages!  The word in the parentheses is spelled as plural and is translated by me as your hands.  The “correction” in the brackets would make it singular:  your hand.  I submit that either form is correct.

אַל־תֹּאמַר (לְרֵעֶיךָ) [לְרֵעֲךָ] לֵךְ וָשׁוּב וּמָחָר אֶתֵּן וְיֵשׁ אִתָּךְ׃   3:28

Prov. 3:28   You must not say to your neighbor,

                              “Go and come back, and tomorrow I will give, and it will be yours.”

The word in the parentheses is in error, having an unnecessary yad,  which makes the translation your neighbors instead of your neighbor.  The correction is in the brackets.

אַל־תַּחֲרֹשׁ עַל־רֵעֲךָ רָעָה וְהוּא־יֹושֵׁב לָבֶטַח אִתָּךְ׃   3:29

Prov. 3:29   You must not devise evil against your neighbor,

                              so he may dwell securely near you.

The next-to-last word is the same as that in Prov. 1:33 and in v. 3:23, and carries the same connotation of tranquility and lack of concern.

אַל־ (תָּרֹוב) [תָּרִיב] עִם־אָדָם חִנָּם אִם־לֹא גְמָלְךָ רָעָה׃   3:30

Prov. 3:30   You must not strive with anyone without cause

                              if he has dealt you no harm.

The word in the parentheses is in error.  The vav should be a yad.  The correction is in the brackets.

אַל־תְּקַנֵּא בְּאִישׁ חָמָס וְאַל־תִּבְחַר בְּכָל־דְּרָכָיו׃   3:31

Prov. 3:31   You must not envy one of violence

                              or choose any of his ways.

כִּי תֹועֲבַת יְהוָה נָלֹוז וְאֶת־יְשָׁרִים סֹודֹו׃   3:32

Prov. 3:32   For anyone perverse is an abomination of the Lord,

                              but His counsel is with the upright.

מְאֵרַת יְהוָה בְּבֵית רָשָׁע וּנְוֵה צַדִּיקִים יְבָרֵךְ׃   3:33

Prov. 3:33   The curse of the Lord is on any wicked house,

                              but He will bless the habitation of righteous ones.

אִם־לַלֵּצִים הוּא־יָלִיץ (וְלַעֲנִיִּים) [וְלַעֲנָוִים] יִתֶּן־חֵן׃   3:34

Prov. 3:34   Whoever is of scorners He will scorn,

                              but to the humble He will provide grace.

Another apparently arbitrary error judgment!  The word in the parentheses is most commonly translated as humble, and seems appropriate to the context.  The word in the brackets is most commonly translated as poor, which I believe is less appropriate to the context.

כָּבֹוד חֲכָמִים יִנְחָלוּ וּכְסִילִים מֵרִים קָלֹון׃   3:35

Prov. 3:35   The wise will acquire honor,

                              but fools will be taking up shame.


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