Friday, October 4, 2013

A Collection of Proverbs on Fools (17.7-28)

4. A Collection of Proverbs on Fools (17.7-28)
The unit of fools picks up where the inclusio of 17:6 with 16:31 left off.  It elaborates and expands the catalogue of malevolent communicators (vv. 4-5), mentioning the liar (v.7), the briber (v.8), and the gossip (v.9).  --Waltke in NICOT
(a) Janus: Catalogue of Fools expanded (17.7-9)
The proverbs following, Proverbs 17:7-10, appear to be united acrostically by the succession of the letters ש (שׂ, שׁ) and ת.  --Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament
                                     Much less
Excellent speech           lying lips
is not becoming 
to a fool,                         to a prince.  
a prince...  This “ruler” (KJV, NASB “prince”; NAB “noble”) is a gentleman with a code of honor, to whom truthfulness is second nature (W. McKane, Proverbs [OTL], 507). The word describes one as “inclined, generous, noble” (BDB 622 s.v. נָדִיב). It is cognate to the word for the “free will offering.” So for such a noble person lies are not suited. The argument is from the lesser to the greater – if fools shouldn’t speak lofty things, then honorable people should not lie (or, lofty people should not speak base things).  --NET Bible study notes
A present is a precious stone in the eyes of its possessor; 
Wherever he turns, he prospers.  
precious stone... Heb “a stone of favors”; NAB, NRSV “a magic stone.” The term שֹׁחַד (shokhad, “bribe”) could be simply translated as “a gift”; but the second half of the verse says that the one who offers it is successful. At best it could be a gift that opens doors; at worst it is a bribe. The word שֹׁחַד is never used of a disinterested gift, so there is always something of the bribe in it (e.g., Ps 15:5; Isa 1:23). Here it is “a stone that brings favor,” the genitive being the effect or the result of the gift. In other words, it has magical properties and “works like a charm.”  --NET Bible translation notes
9                                  But
He who                      he who
covers                        repeats
a transgression       a matter
seeks love,                separates friends.
covers... Heb “covers” (so NASB); NIV “covers over.” How people respond to the faults of others reveals whether or not they have love. The contrast is between one who “covers” (forgives, cf. NCV, NRSV) the fault of a friend and one who repeats news about it. The former promotes love because he cares about the person; the latter divides friends.  --NET Bible translation notes
repeats…  For the second line, cf. 16:28b.  Repeateth may indicate either tale-telling or (as rv) harping on a matter.  –Kidner in TOTC
chief friends…  (rv) is a single word, denoting a bosom companion.  –Kidner in TOTC

b) Fools and Their Punishment (17.10-15)
Verse 10 functions as a janus: it both qualifies covering over transgression by calling for verbal rebuke and corporal flogging, and, as an educational proverb, introduces the subunit on how to respond to fools in light of their certain judgment (17:10-15).  The first pair qualifies the admonition to cover over transgression…  The second warns against encountering a raging fool (13:12)…  The third pair escalates not encountering the raging fool to not provoking his anger in the first place…  --Waltke in NICOT
10                               Than
is more effective       a hundred blows
for a wise man          on a fool.  
is more effective..Heb “goes in deeper” (cf. NASB, NRSV). The verb נָחֵת (nakhet) “to go down; to descend” with the preposition בְּ (bet) means “to descend into; to make an impression on” someone.  --NET Bible translation notes
An evil man seeks only rebellion; 
Therefore a cruel messenger will be sent against him.  
<> Subject and object should be reversed here, as the Heb. Suggests. So Maffatt , succinctly : ‘Rebels are out for mischief.’  That is to say, since rebellion scorns moderation, the rebel need expect none, for what we seek, we find.  See also verse 13.  –Kidner in TOTC
<> The proverb is set up in a cause and effect relationship. The cause is that evil people seek rebellion. The term מְרִי (mÿri) means “rebellion.” It is related to the verb מָרָה (marah, “to be contentious; to be rebellious; to be refractory”). BDB 598 s.v. מְרִי translates the line “a rebellious man seeketh only evil” (so NASB).  --NET Bible study notes
Let a man meet          Rather than
a bear                           a fool  
robbed of her cubs,    in his folly.  
Let a man meet...  Heb “Let a man meet” (so NASB); NLT “It is safer to meet.” The infinitive absolute פָּגוֹשׁ (pagosh, “to meet”) functions as a jussive of advice. The bear meeting a man is less dangerous than a fool in his folly. It could be worded as a “better” saying, but that formula is not found here.  --NET Bible translation notes
in his folly...  For a slightly different nuance cf. TEV “some fool busy with a stupid project.”  --NET Bible study notes
Whoever rewards evil for good, 
Evil will not depart from his house.  
The beginning of strife is like releasing water; 
Therefore stop contention before a quarrel starts.  
like releasing water... The verse simply begins with “letting out water.” This phrase is a metaphor, but most English versions have made it a simile (supplying “like” or “as”). R. N. Whybray takes it literally and makes it the subject of the clause: “stealing water starts a quarrel” (Proverbs [CBC], 100). However, the verb more likely means “to let out, set free” and not “to steal,” for which there are clearer words.  --NET Bible translation notes
<> The image involves a small leak in a container or cistern that starts to spurt out water. The problem will get worse if it is not stopped. Strife is like that.  --NET Bible study notes
Before it be meddled with… (av): rather, … breaks out (rsv).  The verb recurs only in 18:1; 20:3.  Opening such a luice lits loose more than one can predict, control or revive.  –Kidner in TOTC
He who justifies the wicked, 
and he who condemns the just, 
Both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord

 (c) The Fool versus the Friend (17.16-20)
The catchword “fool” (kesîl) in its introductory educational proverb links this subunit with the preceding and following introductions (vv. 10, 16, 21).  This subunit is held together and divided by the catchword “one who loves” (vv. 17,19), contrasting the loving friend with the misanthropic fool who loves strife.  Each of these is a part of a proverbial pair in which the second saying qualifies the first.  –Waltke in NICOT
We take Proverbs 17:16-21 together. This group beings with a proverb of the heartless, and ends with one of the perverse-hearted; and between these there are not wanting noticeable points of contact between the proverbs that follow one another.  --Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament
Why is there in the hand of a fool the purchase price of wisdom, 
Since he has no heart for it?  
W. McKane envisions a situation where the fool comes to a sage with a fee in hand, supposing that he can acquire a career as a sage, and this gives rise to the biting comment here: Why does the fool have money in his hands? To buy wisdom when he has no brains? (Proverbs [OTL], 505). --NET Bible study notes
heart…  can mean ‘will’ (cf. av) or mind (rsv see also rv), probably both here.  Maffattt neatly retains the double-entendre with ‘wen he has no mind to learn’.  –Kidner in TOTC
A friend loves at all times, 
And a brother is born for adversity.  
friend...  The verse uses synonymous parallelism, so “friend” and “relative” are equated. Others, however, will take the verse with antithetical parallelism: W. G. Plaut argues that friendship is a spiritual relationship whereas a brother’s ties are based on a blood relationship – often adversity is the only thing that brings brothers together (Proverbs, 189).  --NET Bible study notes
for adversity... Heb “is born for adversity.” This is not referring to sibling rivalry but to the loyalty a brother shows during times of calamity. This is not to say that a brother only shows loyalty when there is trouble, nor that he always does in these times (e.g., 18:19, 24; 19:7; 27:10). The true friend is the same as a brotherly relation – in times of greatest need the loyal love is displayed.  --NET Bible translation notes
A man devoid of understanding shakes hands in a pledge, 
And becomes surety for his friend.  
in a pledge...  The phrase “in pledge” is supplied for the sake of clarification.  --NET Bible translation notes
He who loves transgression loves strife, 
And he who exalts his gate seeks destruction.  
exalts his gate...  Some have taken this second line literally and interpreted it to mean he has built a pretentious house. Probably it is meant to be figurative: The gate is the mouth (the figure would be hypocatastasis) and so to make it high is to say lofty things – he brags too much (e.g., 1 Sam 2:3; Prov 18:12; 29:23); cf. NCV, TEV, NLT. C. H. Toy (Proverbs [ICC], 348) wishes to emend פִּתְחוֹ (pitkho, “his gate”) to פִּיו (piv, “his mouth”), but that is unnecessary since the idea can be obtained by interpretation.  --NET Bible translation notes
20                                     And
He who                            he who
has a deceitful heart     has a perverse tongue
finds no good,                 falls into evil

d) The Fool, Injustice, and the Reserved Speech of the Wise (17.21-28)
This section is divided into two subunits.  The frame is formed by the catchwords "fool" (kesil), and in its chiastic structure, participles of the verb "bear" (yld, the first word in v. 21a and the last in v. 25b), and "father" ('ab, vv. 21b, 25a).  The ver   --Waltke in NICOT
21                                          And
He who begets                  the father of
a scoffer                               a  fool
does so to his sorrow,       has no joy.  
Joy…  Strong's H8056 – sameach: joyful, merry, glad
22                                              But
A merry heart                         a broken spirit
does good, like medicine,     dries the bones.  
merry…  Strong's H8056 – sameach: joyful, merry, glad
A wicked man accepts a bribe behind the back  
To pervert the ways of justice.  
Wisdom is in the sight of him who has understanding, 
But the eyes of a fool are on the ends of the earth.  
Wisdom is in the sight of him… Wisdom is ‘straight in front of’ the discerning man, in two senses: (a) he sets his face toward it (rsv), unlike the fool; and (b) he cannot miss it.  Both senses are in James 1:5-8.  –Kidner in TOTC
in the sight...  The verse begins with אֶת־פְּנֵי מֵבִין (’et-pÿni mevin), “before the discerning” or “the face of the discerning.” The particle אֶת here is simply drawing emphasis to the predicate (IBHS 182-83 §10.3.2b). Cf. NIV “A discerning man keeps wisdom in view.”  --NET Bible translation notes
ends of the earth...  To say that “the eyes of the fool run to the ends of the earth” means that he has no power to concentrate and cannot focus his attention on anything. The language is hyperbolic. Cf. NCV “the mind of a fool wanders everywhere.”  --NET Bible study notes
A foolish son 
is a grief                    bitterness
to his father,           to her who bore him.  
grief...  The Hebrew noun means “vexation, anger, grief.”
Also,                        Nor
to punish                to strike
the righteous         princes
is not good,            for their uprightness.  
The tyrant in view is a very high magistrate because he is in a position to flog subordinate nobles in the government’s hierarchical structure (cf. Eccl. 5:8).  Its synonymous parallels pair two forms of legal punishment, “to fine” and “to flog,” for two kinds of virtuous citizens, “an innocent person” and “nobles,” and two negative evaluations, “is not good” and “is against what is upright.”  --Waltke in NICOT
<>  The ruler is the servant of God, who has to preserve rectitude, εἰς ὀργὴν τῷ τὸ κακὸν πράσσοντι [who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.] (Romans 13:4). It is not good when he makes his power to punish to be felt by the innocent as well as by the guilty.  --Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament
<>  If the power of punishment is abused to the punishing of the righteous, yea, even to the corporeal chastisement of the noble, and their straight, i.e., conscientious, firm, open conduct, is made a crime against them, that is not good - it is perversion of the idea of justice, and an iniquity which challenges the penal rectitude of the Most High (Ecclesiastes 5:7).     --Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament
punish...  The verb עָנַשׁ, here a Qal infinitive construct, properly means “to fine” (cf. NAB, NRSV, NLT) but is taken here to mean “to punish” in general. The infinitive functions as the subject of the clause.  --NET Bible translation notes
for their uprightness... Heb “[is] against uprightness.” The expression may be rendered “contrary to what is right.”     --NET Bible translation notes
The two lines could be synonymous parallelism; but the second part is being used to show how wrong the first act would be – punishing the righteous makes about as much sense as beating an official of the court for doing what is just.  --NET Bible study notes
Princes…  Though nobles could be fools and not merit their honorific title (Isa. 32:5), the parallel with “innocent” and the assertion that the flogging is against what is upright show that the nobles in view will not compromise their honor and be corrupted by the system.  –Waltke in NICOT
27                                              And
He who has knowledge         a man of understanding
spares his words,                    is of a calm spirit.  
spares...  The participle חוֹשֵׂךְ (khosekh) means “withholds; restrains; refrains; spares; holds in check,” etc. One who has knowledge speaks carefully.  --NET Bible translation notes
calm spirit... Heb “cool of spirit.” This genitive of specification describes one who is “calm” (so NCV, TEV, CEV) or “even-tempered” (so NIV, NLT); he is composed.  --NET Bible translation notes
Even a fool                              (2) he
is counted wise                       (3) is considered perceptive.
when he holds his peace;      (1) When he shuts his lips

No comments:

Post a Comment