8. Speech and Commerce (20.12-19)
...the unit consists of an introduction to accept the wisdom tradition in conjunction with being alert (vv. 12-13) and a conclusion to accept wise counsel from one's peers (v. 18-19), sandwiching between them the body that deals with imprudent business practices.
--Bruce Waltke in NICOT
--Bruce Waltke in NICOT
a. Introduction and Janus (12-13)
A pair of rearing proverbs matching the LORD's receptors of wisdom with human responsibility. --Bruce Waltke in NICOT
The hearing ear and the seeing eye,
The Lord has made them both.
hearing...seeing... The first half of the verse refers to two basic senses that the Lord has given to people. C. H. Toy, however, thinks that they represent all the faculties (Proverbs [ICC], 388). But in the book of Proverbs seeing and hearing come to the fore. By usage “hearing” also means obeying (15:31; 25:12), and “seeing” also means perceiving and understanding (Isa 6:9-10). --NET Bible study notes
ear... In this book ear almost always connotes being teachable. Proverbs 2.2; 4.20; 5.1, 13; 15.31; 18.15; 22,17; 23.9, 12; 25.12; 28.9
Do not love sleep, Open your eyes,
lest you come to poverty; and you will be satisfied with bread.
--> The proverb uses antithetical parallelism to teach that diligence leads to prosperity. It contrasts loving sleep with opening the eyes, and poverty with satisfaction. Just as “sleep” can be used for slothfulness or laziness, so opening the eyes can represent vigorous, active conduct. The idioms have caught on in modern usage as well – things like “open your eyes” or “asleep on the job.” --NET Bible study notes
bread... Heb “bread” (so KJV, ASV, NRSV), although the term often serves in a generic sense for food in general --NET Bible translation notes
b. Body: Imprudent Speech in the Marketplace (14-17)
Van Leeuwen notes: "Taken together, the two sayings seem to present an ironic contrast between the goods for which one haggles and the priceless wisdom (see 3:15; 8:10-11). --Bruce Waltke in NICOT
But when he has gone his way, then he boasts.
There is gold and a multitude of rubies,
But the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel.
Whybray notes v. 15 comments on v. 14: "that which is most valuable cannot be obtained 'over the counter or through sordid deals." --Bruce Waltke in NICOT
The third links the imprudent business practice of going surety for another (v. 16) and being deceptive (v. 17) by a play on I eārab ("to go surety") and III eārab ("to be sweet"). --Bruce Waltke in NICOT
Take the garment of one who is surety for a stranger,
And hold it as a pledge when it is for a seductress.
...the proverb emphasizes the stupidity of risking one's life for an unknown creditor by becoming security for a stranger. (McKane) --Bruce Waltke in NICOT
stranger... someone who is not part of the covenant community
Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man,
But afterward his mouth will be filled with gravel.
The theme of foolish speech in the marketplace is escalated from implied rash and imprudent speech (v. 16) to false speech (v. 17). --Bruce Waltke in NICOT
Bread gained by deceit... Heb “bread of deceit” (so KJV, NAB). This refers to food gained through dishonest means. The term “bread” is a synecdoche of specific for general, referring to anything obtained by fraud, including food. --NET Bible translation notes
c. Conclusion: Accepting Wise Counsel (18-19)
Note the contrast between wise counsel who help establish a good plan and the gossip whose loose lips mean he must be avoided.
Plans are established by counsel;
By wise counsel wage war.
He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets;
Therefore do not associate with one who flatters with his lips.
A talebearer reveals secrets,
But he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter.
...20.19 is synonymous, equating "the slanderer who divulges secrets" with "a silly chatterer" --that is, one who handles words in a careless, not thoughtful and unguarded way. --Bruce Waltke in NICOT