Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Proverbs 11.30

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; 
And he that winneth souls is wise. (KJV)
The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, 
And he who is wise wins souls. (NASB)
The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, 
and whoever captures souls is wise. (ESV)
The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, 
and he who wins souls is wise. (NIV)
The fruit of the righteous is like a tree producing life, 
and the one who wins souls is wise. (NET Bible)
The seeds of good deeds become a tree of life; 
a wise person wins friends. (NLT

As usual, Waltke is very helpful here. (pp. 511-513)

          The fruit of the righteous is the tree of life,
          and the wise gather lives.
     As attested partially by the translation footnotes, the translation of the second line and, therefore, its meaning is difficult and obscure.  The first colon uses the tree of life (Gen. 2.9; Prov. 3.18; 12.12; 15.4) as a metaphor and considers the righteous to be its fruit.  Fruit here also carries the connotation of the consequences.  Righteousness results in life.
     According to the MT, the second line is also about the wise. The real question surrounds the meaning of the phrase here translated tentatively "gather lives" (lōqēah  nĕpaśôt ).  If this is the correct translation, there are at least two possible understandings.  First, it may be that those who receive people are those who make friends easily.  If so, then this verse fits in with the theme of friendship in the book.  The second interpretation suggests that the actions and advice of the wise preserve and enhance the lives of others.  This interpretation is the one that I lean toward.  The third interpretation is that presented by the NIV, which spiritualizes the text, perhaps understanding nepeš in the sense of "soul."  It seems to be misled by the modern expression "winning souls," but this interpretation seems quite foreign to the OT.  The difficulty with the phrase does lead many to adopt the emendation (changing "wise" [hakam] to "violence" [hamas]) suggested in part by the versions and render something like the NRSB (suported by the Septuagint):
               The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,
               but violence takes lives away.   
 ---Tremper Longman III  in Proverbs (BCOTWP)
11:30. As a result (fruit) of righteous living a person becomes a tree of life (cf. 3:18; 13:12; 15:4), a source of a meaningful life for others (cf. the leaf in 11:28). This contrasts with a fool who troubles his family (v. 29). Wins souls in verse 30 does not mean soul-winning or evangelism. Since “win” is literally “attract or take,” the idea may be that a righteous person attracts others to wisdom. This fits the thought in the first part of the verse of a tree giving life to others by its fruit.    ---Sid S. Buzzell in The Bible Knowledge Commentary
Proverbs 11:30 
30 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,
     And the wise man winneth souls.
The lxx translate, ἐκ καρποῦ δικαιοσύνης φύεται δένδρον ζωῆς; Hitzig takes thence the word צֶדֶק; but this translation discredits itself by the unnatural reversal of the relation of fruit and tree. The fruit of the righteous is here not the good which his conduct brings to him, as Isa_3:10; Jer_32:19, but his activity itself proceeding from an internal impulse. This fruit is a tree of life. We need to supplement פְּרִי [fruit] as little here as אֹרַח [a traveller] at Pro_10:17; for the meaning of the proverb is, that the fruit of the righteous, i.e., his external influence, itself is a tree of life, namely for others, since his words and actions exert a quickening, refreshing, happy influence upon them. By this means the wise (righteousness and wisdom come together according to the saying of the Chokma, Pro_1:7) becomes a winner of souls (לקח as Pro_6:25, but taken in bonam partem), or, as expressed in the N.T. (Mat_4:19), a fisher of men, for he gains them not only for himself, but also for the service of wisdom and righteousness.   ---Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume 3

cf. confer, compare
cf. confer, compare

Verse 30 This shows what great blessings good men are, especially those that are eminently wise, to the places where they live, and therefore how much to be valued. 1. The righteous are as trees of life; the fruits of their piety and charity, their instructions, reproofs, examples, and prayers, their interest in heaven, and their influence upon earth, are like the fruits of that tree, precious and useful, contributing to the support and nourishment of the spiritual life in many; they are the ornaments of paradise, God's church on earth, for whose sake it stands. 2. The wise are something more; they are as trees of knowledge, not forbidden, but commanded knowledge. He that is wise, by communicating his wisdom, wins souls, wins upon them to bring them in love with God and holiness, and so wins them over into the interests of God's kingdom among men. The wise are said to turn many to righteousness, and that is the same with winning souls here, Dan. 12:3. Abraham's proselytes are called the souls that he had gotten, Gen. 12:5. Those that would win souls have need of wisdom to know how to deal with them; and those that do win souls show that they are wise.       ---Matthew Henry Complete
11.30  Virtue spreads its blessings
The sense of the Heb. (AV, RV) is that a righteous man has a life-giving influence, and a wise man wins others to wisdom.  The phrase 'to win souls (i.e. people) can, however, also mean to take lives', when the context demands it (as 1 Ki. 19.4); and by substituting 'violence' (hamas) for 'wise man' (hakam), the LXX provides such a context, and is followed by RSV.  But the Old Testament knows the metaphor of capturing people with ideas or influences (cf. in a bad sense, 6.25; 2 Sa. 15.6); and the promise, 'thou shalt catch men', was doubly apt if it was meant to awaken echoes of this proverb.    ---Kidner in Proverbs: An Introduction and  Commentary (TOTC)

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