Hebrew Nations Rough Preliminary Translation with Some Commentary (30 July, 2013, Av 23, 5773)
Duration: 22. 47 minutes
Proverbs chapter 16 tells us how to keep control of our selves and our destiny and how to relate to the controlling influences and attempts at influence made by others, for good or bad.
Until now (in our Brit-Am Commentaries to Scripture) we have been using accepted conventional translations.
When we came across points that we considered important and the given translation was not satisfactory we mentioned it.
We then too, gave points of commentary that were pertinent in our eyes.
This method has had its drawbacks.
On a trial basis we are now giving our own translation along with some comments.
In making this translation we primarily used the Hebrew Bible, the Linguistic Commentaries of Metsudat David and Metsudat Zion,
and we consulted, as will be noticed, The New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized Edition), 1989, 1995. We choice this version because it happened to be available online rather than for any other reason. Our own translation is radically different.
Anyway the Book of Proverb is a valuable work giving instructive, beneficial, and enjoyable reading.
This holds regardless of what Translation is used.
Our own translation given here for the first time will often be hurried, possibly inaccurate, and later require revision.
This translation incorporates a combination of Literal Interpretation and extrapolation.
You Have Been Warned!
The Book of Proverbs was written by King Solomon son of David of the House of Jesse. This is one of the greatest books in existence.
Apart from its sanctity and Biblical status just from the point of view of good literature and utility for the human condition the book earns its way.
The Hebrew original encompasses numerous facets and possibilities of interpretation, all of them valid.
Our present attempt is worth its while. Benefit may also be gained by comparing it, now and again, with other translations.
Proverbs 16: 1 To man is given designs of the mind
but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD.
Proverbs 16: 2 All the ways of a person are pure in his eyes
but the plans of individual personalities are known to the LORD.
Proverbs 16: 3 Make your deeds depend on the LORD
and HE will arrange your thoughts.
Proverbs 16: 4
Everything that is done has its own reason before The LORD
including the wicked for the bad day.
Proverbs 16: 5 An abomination to the Lord are the haughty of heart,
from hand to hand they will not be unrequited.
from hand to hand. Iben Ezra and Rabbeinu Yonah explain this to mean From the hand of God to the hand of man, measure for measure. As they do so will be done to them.
Proverbs 16: 6 By Kindness AND Truth shall iniquity be atoned for
and through fear of the LORD shall evil be avoided.
In Hebrew EMET means "truth". This encompasses faithfulness but also means more than it.
All of us have done things we regret and that we would like to go away. This is the way to do it.
Kindness AND Truth atone for iniquity.
Through Fear of God not only do we avoid doing evil but we also escape evil happening to us.
Proverbs 16: 7 When God is pleased with the ways of a man,
even his enemies will make peace with him.
Rabbi Mair said, This means his wife!
We all have enemies and we all have adversaries. Sometimes those who are against us are not necessarily all bad. They may just not understand us properly. May be we do not understand them? If we try to do what God wants we may obtain a broader, more tolerant, perspective. We will act in a better way. We shall be seen to do so. Sooner or later those close to us may notice this. We shall radiate a more positive attitude towards others. This rubs off.
Proverbs 16:8 Better is a little with righteousness
than numerous harvests achieved unjustly.
Proverbs 16:9 The heart of man thinks out his path
but the LORD prepares his step.
Proverbs 16:10 A charm is in the mouth of the king who rules justly
in judgment he shall not abjure his mouth.
God will be with a ruler who seeks justice. He will be enabled to make declarations and carry them out. He will do what is right.
Proverbs 16: 11 Honest balances and scales are for the LORD;
all the weights in the bag are HIS doing.
God wants us to be honest. We should all do what we have to do. This would solve many problems.
We should realize that everything belongs to God only HE allows us to make use of what we have.
Proverbs 16:12 An abomination to kings is the doing of evil,
for by righteousness will the throne be made ready.
Good government requires honesty and abiding by the law. Cheats and gangsters and violent actions lead to the disintegration of society.
Proverbs 16:13 The will of kings are righteous lips
Straight-forward speakers will he love.
Officials in high positions value honest candid reports. Knowing the truth as to what is happening is worth a good portion of the total effort.
Righteous lips means not only speaking the truth but also being fair and considerate.
Proverbs 16:14 The wrath of the king are messengers of death,
a wise man will appease it.
It happens that those who are angry with us are only waiting to be appeased. It may be not so much that their will has not been done but rather that their pride or the prestige of what they represent has been offended.
Proverbs 16:15 In the light of the face of the king is there life,
and his favour is like a cloud bringing the spring rain.
What is said here concerning a king is applicable to whosoever is in authority. One does not have to be a flatterer or obsequious but respect for position and good will is in order.
Proverbs 16:16 How good it is to acquire wisdom! It is better than fine red gold!
Obtaining understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.
Knowledge and wisdom and the understanding that should go with them become part of us. They can make us what we are. Money and possessions are external accretions that can go away just like they came.
3. The Value of Positivity
17 The pathway of the upright is to avoid evil;
One who guards his soul will keep his route straight.
18 Calamity is preceded by pride,
and before failure a haughty spirit.
This is true. The Hebrew words for pride (Gaon) and haughty spirit (govah ruach) used here connote elevation and distraction. Not only does pride often lead to disaster but even just letting the mind wander in the wrong direction or feelingly overduly pleased with oneself increases the probability of something wrong occurring.
The more humility we have the less we will be angry with other, the less will we think ourselves the center of the universe, and the more should we be able to do what needs to be done at the present time. This will diminish our propensity to make mistakes and cause accidents, or help us get out of them when they are about to happen.
19 Better a lowly spirit with the poor
than dividing spoil with the proud.
20 He who seeks understanding of something will find good in it,
and a Truster in the LORD will be affirmed.
Acquiring knowledge and understanding is to be encouraged. This is especially so when the matter involves one's livelihood.
21 Someone who uses his heart wisely will be called perceptive
and sweetness of lips will add instruction.
We should use what we have well.
Learning to express what we knew or feel intuitively reinforces our own knowledge and mastery of the subject.
sweetness of lips will add instruction. Metsudat David: He who mollifies his words to teach his fellow in a manner palatable to him shall also be of aid to himself: For through this he will learn more to understand the inner essence of the matter taught.
22 A fountain of life is intelligence to they who have it,
but wicked folly is the punishment of the foolish wicked.
wicked folly. In Hebrew "ivelet".
the foolish wicked. In Hebrew "evilim".
Both words are from the root AVL or EVL. This word means acting foolishly or criminal irresponsibility. There is an associated form where the word sounds very similar but the first letter is more emphasized. [In Hebrew it becomes an ayin instead of an aleph]. This is pronounced similarly to the English word "evil" and means the same. Rabbi Matityahu Glazzerson wrote a series of works on the Hebrew Language most of which are available in English.
He points out that the Hebrew avel (with an aleph) meaning foolish and the Hebrew word "evil" (with an ayin) meaning evil are basically the same word.
Foolishness is a slightly moderated degree of evil and wickedness.
These two words gave rise to the English word "evil".
Etymology: Old English yfel (Kentish evel) "bad, vicious, ill, wicked," cf. Old Saxon ubil, Old Frisian and Middle Dutch evel, Dutch euvel, Old High German ubil,
The expression "wicked folly is the punishment of the foolish wicked" may alternately be rendered from the Hebrew as, The Morality of the Criminal Irresponsible is Criminal Irresponsibity.
23 The heart of the wise instructs his mouth,
and through his lips adds teaching.
We should try to think well before we speak. A correct formulation of what we intend can help clarify the matter to ourselves and to others. People like learning new things that resonate with their own experiences. When one speaks it should be for the benefit of both oneself and the person being spoken to.
Applying these principles may be difficult. Nevertheless the advice, when taken, is efficacious.
through his lips adds teaching. Mestsudat David: He shall teach his mouth to mollify his words. When they are fluent on his lips he will be able to learn more and understand the inner essence of the matter...
24 Like a honeycomb are pleasant words,
sweet to the soul, and healing for the bone [health to the body].
Speak well, be positive and encouraging. You can change reality from negativity to optimism just by saying the right things.
Many situations contain both light and darkness. Turn on the light.
25 There is a path that is straight in front of a person,
but it ends in routeways to death.
We should be careful in what we do and not take things for granted.
Usually what our family, friends, society, etc, recommend for us should be taken into consideration. More often than not the obvious common sense course is the correct one. Nevertheless there are exceptions. Remember in many ways we are alone. When we have to give judgment there will be no-one around to take the blame.
26 The mind of the worker works for him,
for his mouth forces him to it.
By his mouth we may understand the meaning to be the needs of his mouth, i.e. his appetite and hunger.
I once did a course in a seemingly attractive yet difficult profession. The instructor told us that he had been teaching the art for decades. Many would drop out shortly after beginning. They who continued to the end usually ended up working at something else. Students who seemed to have an aptitude and proficiency often gave up. Cases that seemed to the teacher as hopeless became successes. He said that despite all his experience and knowledge of human nature he still could never discern who would succeed and who would not. There was however one common denominator shared by all those who kept going and did in the end make a living out of the profession: They needed the money!
There is something to be learned from this.
If you want something to go well, and it deserves to succeed, internalize the message: You need it.
4. Avoiding Evil and Retaining Self-Respect
27 A reprobate person digs [invests in] evil
and on his lips is [something] like a scorching fire.
28 A man of contumacy shall send forth contention,
and a constant complainer disassociates the mentor.
The word translated as mentor in Hebrew is "aluf". This may also mean a teacher, leader, or age-old friend.
29 A violent robber shall entice his fellow,
and lead him in a way that is not good.
30 Winking with his eyes [at you] in order to consider [your] undoing,
Hinting with his lips [in pretended friendship, but intending things] completely bad [for you].
The translation is rough but the message is clear. There are people who will pretend to be your friend. It may that in their eyes they really are friendly. It may be that they approach you when you are vulnerable and need a friend.
Nevertheless they may be your undoing. Someone who has taken the bad path is liable to be bad for everyone.
Our training and present-day Western Civilization inculcates in us the notion that nobody is innately bad and not to prejudge anyone.
Nevertheless it happens that a person continues in a bad path until it becomes part of them. They instinctively create negativity. They could change but usually they do not wish to.
There are people we may be able to have a good influence over.
There are others who in some ways are stronger than us and are liable to have an effect on us rather than we on them.
We should all recognize our limitations and keep away from negative influences.
This applies on a person to person level. It may also be applicable to what we do or even what programs etc we look at.
There are some things that we can view and benefit from despite problematic elements in the program.
Other shows may have adverse influence over us even though we tend to deny it.
Women are also liable to be seduced by those who only want to exploit them.
Men are also in a similar position, not necessarily in the physical sense, but in other ways they too are in danger of being taken for a ride by pretended friends. This may not be an everyday occureence but it happens. The Book of Proverbs is warning us to take heed.
31 A crown of glory is white hair,
Through a pathway of justice may it be found.
Through living a righteous life we may reach on old age of honor. Plan it now.
Do now only that which you may look back on with self-respect.
32 Better is the slow to anger than a mighty man,
and a ruler over his spirit than he who captures a city.
When one gets angry control is lost. Do not let yourself be pushed into places you do not want to go to. Be better than a warrior. Master yourself and everything will remain within your own control. God will reward you.
33 Upon the chest [fold in the garment] is placed the lottery
But from the LORD is the individual judgement.
Metsudat David (1700s) explains that in Ancient Times there was a custom to make decisions by writing down different possibilities on pieces of parchment, placing them in a kind of fold or pocket in the garment that covered the chest, and then drawing one of them out.
The final decision belongs to God.
Man tries, God decides.