The Book of Proverbs, chapter four, with BAC (Brit-Am Commentary).
Proverbs 4:1-9 You Can Overcome!
[Proverbs 4:1] Hear, my children, the instruction of a father, And give attention to know understanding;
We should listen to what our fathers told us.
If we found them to be wrong then we should thing what we would want our children to know and do.
Do we ourselves go in this path?
[Proverbs 4:2] For I give you good doctrine: Do not forsake my law.
MY LAW: Hebrew "Torati" i.e. My Torah. The word "Torah" strictly speaking connotes instruction.
God is the Father of us all.
We are all HIS sons.
Israel is the son of the Almighty.
Then you shall say to Pharaoh, Thus says the LORD: Israel is My son, My firstborn [Exodus 4:22].
So is Ephraim.
They shall come with weeping,
And with supplications I will lead them.
I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters,
In a straight way in which they shall not stumble;
For I am a Father to Israel,
And Ephraim is My firstborn [Jeremiah 31:9].
[Proverbs 4:3] When I was my father's son, Tender and the only one in the sight of my mother,
Parents should live their children and want what is good for them. When marital harmony exists the connection between a child and his parents is increased since (amongst other things) the child receives a message from each parent to love and honor the other partner whose existence in the child they recognize.
[Proverbs 4:4] He also taught me, and said to me: Let your heart retain my words; Keep my commands, and live.
Through grasping hold of that which was good and unique in our parents and ancestors we may enhance our own vitality.
[Proverbs 4:5] Get wisdom! Get understanding! Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth.
We should try to understand things and know how to live. We all make mistakes but we also do right things.
Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav said,
"If you believe you can make it worse then also believe you can make it better".
It all can be corrected. Everything can be made better.
Words can help. Words can make a difference. Say positive things to others especially to those around you.
[Proverbs 4:6] Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you; Love her, and she will keep you.
Do not abandon wisdom and right knowledge and you will be lead in the right path.
[Proverbs 4:7] Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding.
Get good knowledge and right principles but also strive to understand how these should be applied and how they work. It can be done and you can do it.
[Proverbs 4:8] Exalt her, and she will promote you; She will bring you honor, when you embrace her.
Do this, cling to this, and you shall come forward. Even if you make mistakes on the way you will still progress. Keep striving and intend the good of all. Maintain your belief in the Almighty.
[Proverbs 4:9] She will place on your head an ornament of grace; A crown of glory she will deliver to you.
Eventually through striving in the right path you will earn the respect of others. Even more importantly you will gain your own self-respect. Even if you have lost it in the past, you will get it back.
Proverbs 4:10-18 Get Away from Evil While You Can!
[Proverbs 4:10] Hear, my son, and receive my sayings,
And the years of your life will be many.
# the years of your life #. In Hebrew "shanot chayim". Chayim means "life". You may recognize the toast, "Le-Chayim" (i.e. To Life), that Jews makes when they drink alcohol together.
The Sages said that this expression, "shanot chayim" does not mean just years of life but also years that have life (i.e. vitality) in them.
All other things being equal the Right Path gives you, in the long run, more of everything!
Not only will you live longer but you will feel alive more!
[Proverbs 4:11] I have taught you in the way of wisdom;
I have led you in right paths.
[Proverbs 4:12] When you walk, your steps will not be hindered,
And when you run, you will not stumble.
If one absorbs Biblical knowledge then even under pressure and/or in exceptional circumstance one will act correctly for the good of everybody.
Bible Knowledge can make you certain of the path you choose enabling you to surge forward without fear.
[Proverbs 4:13] Take firm hold of instruction, do not let go; Keep her, for she is your life.
do not let go. In Hebrew "Al Teraf" from the root RFH connoting "weaken, soften", i.e. do not slacken off.
We learn some things, some times. It happens that we realize a certain truth or receive an insight that we were not aware of previously or had forgotten. We should treasure such instruction and store it with us. How many times have we made the same mistake over and over again? This is not necessary.
[Proverbs 4:14] Do not enter the path of the wicked, And do not walk in the way of evil.
walk. Hebrew "ta-asher". Literally go straight. Do not try to go straight ahead along evil paths. Get away from them.
[Proverbs 4:15] Avoid it, do not travel on it;
Turn away from it and pass on.
Avoid it: In Hebrew "Parayuhu" from the root PRE meaning to uncover, disturb, to pay, to alter the situation, to release from debt, to let go. A related word is "PeRA" meaning wild. This gives us the English word FREE since in Hebrew the same letter stands for both P and F. The two sounds (P and F) are interchangeable in the same word-roots and switch around for phonetic and grammatical reasons. It could also be the source of PRAY even though conventional sources trace this word to Old French preier , from the Latin, precari "ask earnestly, beg". When we pray we discharge a debt. We also ask the Almighty to free us, from whatever we need freeing from, by answering our prayer. PRE in Hebrew can mean "pay" and we may also trace the English Word PAY to the same root.
The English word "Fray" means unravel at the edge, loosened, and this too is similar to the Hebrew PRE.
As mentioned, we also have the related Hebrew word root PRA connoting wild and untamed. It can also mean an untamed animal. Ishmael (forefather of the Arabs) was referred to as as "pera adam" i.e. an untamed beast [or "wild donkey"]of a man". PERA may have given rise to the English word PREY. [Otherwise traced to Old French preie "booty, animal taken in the chase" .]
In this case, in Proverbs 4:15, we are being told to get out of the Evil trap. Pay if you have to, squirm, struggle, free yourself anyway you can but get away from evil and from surroundings that cause you to go bad.
This is how the verse (Proverbs 4:15) could literally be rendered:
# Free yourself from it [i.e. from the evil path], do not pass by it, move away from it, and pass by. #
In other words: It might be difficult. Do what it takes. Get away. Do not look back. Bad people are not your friends.
The same applies in the ideological rational sphere.
Bad ideas are not good for you. They are not out to enhance your comprehension.
Do not believe in Conspiracy Theories or in the mind set of those who concoct them.
The same applies to free-thinkers and liberal humanitarians and the like who in the name of high-sounding principles work against the cause of the Bible, of good, and of justice.
They do not want your Enlightenment but rather to plunge you back into their own darkness.
Do not share their smoke, do not partake of their sex (or lack of it), do not follow their mind-set.
Keep away from evil paths. If you cannot or will not fight it, simply avoid it.
[Proverbs 4:16] For they do not sleep unless they have done evil;
And their sleep is taken away unless they make someone fall.
This is the way of evil people. They may not be consciously aware of their own evil intentions.
But in most cases what the practical results of their evil machinations could be are quite obvious. They feed off the innocent. They need others to impair and even destroy their lives just as they themselves have done to themselves and to others before you.
[Proverbs 4:17] For they eat the bread of wickedness, And drink the wine of violence.
They take from others through deceit or outright oppression. There is nothing good about that, No good will come off it.
Lack of resistance to evil or the acceptance of evil doctrines invites violence and evil.
Matters are often open and apparent in advance. Distance yourself from bad people and wicked influences.
[Proverbs 4:18] But the path of the just is like the shining light,
That shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.
We must be just, fair, speak the truth and acknowledge it.
If we believe in God and avoid evil our light will shine brilliantly without any effort on our part. Our righteousness will be recognized. We will be able to look at ourselves with respect. What is more we will have contributed in some way towards making the world a better place.
That is what we are here for. Your own good is what the Almighty wants for you. Listen unto HIM.
So too, concerning Zionism: God wants the Jewish People to return to the Land of Israel and build it up. Anything good for Israel is in accordance with the Divine Will. All who contribute in that direction will be rewarded.
The same applies to other Israelite countries.
The Almighty will reward whosoever works for the good of the Israelite Tribes wherever they are.
Proverbs 4:19-27 Look Straight and Keep Faith with God, Yourself, and Others.
[Proverbs 4:19] The way of the wicked is like darkness;
They do not know what makes them stumble.
Someone who does bad deeds or things in the wrong way will fall over themselves in other fields. They will not be aware that their sin in another matter is the cause of their falling.
So too, if bad luck or unpleasant incidents overtakes us we must first deal with them as they are. After that we should search back lest perhaps in some other way we did something that
made us liable for what happened.
[Proverbs 4:20] My son, give attention to my words;
Incline your ear to my sayings.
[Proverbs 4:21] Do not let them depart from your eyes;
Keep them in the midst of your heart;
Remember words of wisdom especially those of the Bible. Keep them with you even if you cannot apply them properly at present or in some kind of crisis situation and cannot think straight.
[Proverbs 4:22] For they are life to those who find them,
And health to all their flesh.
The words of the Bible will help you come through. You may not become as successful as you would have liked to have been but the chances are that you will be vastly better off than you were liable to be if you had not strengthened yourself through the Bible.
There is also the psychosomatic aspect: Bad thoughts, malicious attitudes, needless anger, baseless bitterness, backbiting, etc all arouse negative enrgies. They enervate and dissipate and weaken our physical defense and rejuvenating systems. Be good and good will come unto you.
[Proverbs 4:23] Keep your heart with all diligence,
For out of it spring the issues of life.
This strengthens the point of the previous verse. Think positively. God will help you if you speak to HIM.
Do not think bad things. Avoid negative energies.
Rashi: Whatever you learn from the Torah keep it well for even small things (that are in it) bring great reward if they are kept.
Metsudat David: More than anything else that you may watch over, watch over your own heart. Be careful not to think of sinning for the major outcomes of life spring from the heart. Why therefore should you allow thoughts that can destroy your life?
Iben Ezra says that the heart is like the king of the body.
All the Commentators understand this verse along the same lines:
Keep your thoughts positive because your mind determines what will happen in your life.
[Proverbs 4:24] Put away from you a deceitful mouth,
And put perverse lips far from you.
Rabeinu Yonah: # This is connected to what it says further on,
THE WICKED IS SNARED BY THE TRANSGRESSION OF HIS LIPS [Proverbs 12:13]
DEATH AND LIFE ARE IN THE POWER OF THE TONGUE [Proverbs 18:21].
a deceitful mouth: Means one who does not admit the truth.
PERVERSE LIPS: Someone who calls evil good #
Do not lie. Do not deceive yourself. Do not be deceived. Do not deceive others.
[Proverbs 4:25] Let your eyes look straight ahead,
And your eyelids look right before you.
What you see is what you get but be sure you see it.
Rashi: # Perceive the truth and righteousness.#
Metsudat David: # Consider with the greatest care the outcome of what you stand to do so that your gaze (eyelids) may guide you in the right path. #
[Proverbs 4:26] Ponder the path of your feet,
And let all your ways be established.
[Proverbs 4:27] Do not turn to the right or the left;
Remove your foot from evil.
Experience shows that going in the right path is not usually so difficult. What is difficult is trying to remain on the right path after one has already compromised their position. The advice given here is not to put ourselves in such situations and to foresee the possible outcome if we consider doing so.
Avoid having to fight a rearguard action.
If you go down you may succeed to keep on fighting but it would always be easier if you had have stayed on your feet.
If you fell down once, take heed, and try not to fall down again.