so is a wicked ruler over a poor people. 3
but the one who hates 5 unjust gain will prolong his days.
let no one support him.
but the one who hastens 16 to gain riches will not go unpunished.
for a person will transgress over the smallest piece of bread. 19
and does not know that poverty will overtake him. 21
than the one who flatters 25 with the tongue.
but when they perish, 43 the righteous increase.
[28:15] 2 sn The comparison uses animals that are powerful, terrifying, insensitive, and in search of prey. Because political tyrants are like this, animal imagery of this sort is also used in Dan 7:1-8 for the series of ruthless world powers.
[28:15] 3 sn A poor nation under the control of political tyrants who are dangerous and destructive is helpless. The people of that nation will crumble under them because they cannot meet their demands and are of no use to them.
[28:16] 4 tn Heb “A prince lacking of understanding [is] also a great oppressor” (both KJV, ASV similar) The last clause, “and a great oppressor,” appears to modify “the prince.” There is little difference in meaning, only in emphasis. The LXX has “lacks income” (reading תְּבוּאוֹת [tÿvu’ot] instead of תְּבוּנוֹת [tÿvunot]). C. H. Toy (Proverbs [ICC], 501) suggests deleting the word for “prince” altogether, but this emendation is gratuitous.
[28:16] 5 tc This follows the Qere reading of the participle which is singular (as opposed to the plural). The implication is that this one is also a ruler, paralleling the first half. But since he “hates” (= rejects) unjust gain he will extend [his] days, meaning he will enjoy a long and happy life (cf. NIV, NRSV, CEV).
[28:17] 6 tn The form is the Qal passive participle. The verb means “to oppress; to wrong; to extort”; here the idea of being “oppressed” would refer to the burden of a guilty conscience (hence “tormented”; cf. NAB, NRSV “burdened”). Some commentators have wanted to emend the text to read “suspected,” or “charged with,” or “given to,” etc., but if the motive is religious and not legal, then “oppressed” or “tormented” is preferred.
[28:17] 8 tn The verse is cryptic; it simply says that he will “flee to the pit.” Some have taken the “pit” to refer to the place of detention for prisoners, but why would he flee to that place? It seems rather to refer to death. This could mean that (1) since there is no place for him to go outside of the grave, he should flee to the pit (cf. TEV, NLT), or (2) he will be a fugitive until he goes to the grave (cf. NASB, NIV, NCV, NRSV, CEV). Neither one of these options is easily derived from the text. The verse seems to be saying that the one who is guilty of murder will flee, and no one should assist him. The meaning of “the pit” is unresolved.
[28:18] 9 tn The form is the Niphal imperfect of יָשַׁע (yasha’, “will be saved”). In all probability this refers to deliverance from misfortune. Some render it “kept safe” (NIV) or “will be safe” (NRSV, TEV). It must be interpreted in contrast to the corrupt person who will fall.
[28:18] 10 tn The Qal imperfect יִפּוֹל (yipol) is given a future translation in this context, as is the previous verb (“will be delivered”) because the working out of divine retribution appears to be coming suddenly in the future. The idea of “falling” could be a metonymy of adjunct (with the falling accompanying the ruin that comes to the person), or it may simply be a comparison between falling and being destroyed. Cf. NCV “will suddenly be ruined”; NLT “will be destroyed.”
[28:18] 11 tn The last word in the verse, בְּאֶחָת (bÿ’ekhat), means “in one [= at once (?)].” This may indicate a sudden fall, for falling “in one” (the literal meaning) makes no sense. W. McKane wishes to emend the text to read “into a pit” based on v. 10b (Proverbs [OTL], 622); this emendation is followed by NAB, NRSV.
[28:19] 14 tn The repetition of the verb strengthens the contrast. Both halves of the verse use the verb יִשְׂבַּע (yisba’, “will be satisfied; will be filled with; will have enough”). It is positive in the first colon, but negative in the second – with an ironic twist to say one is “satisfied” with poverty.
[28:20] sn The text does not qualify the nature of the faithfulness. While this would certainly have implications for the person’s righteous acts, its primary meaning may be his diligence and reliability in his work. His faithful work will bring the returns.
[28:20] 16 sn The proverb is not rebuking diligent labor. One who is eager to get rich quickly is the opposite of the faithful person. The first person is faithful to God and to the covenant community; the second is trying to get rich as quickly as possible, at the least without doing an honest day’s work and at the worst dishonestly. In a hurry to gain wealth, he falls into various schemes and will pay for it. Tg. Prov 28:20 interprets this to say he hastens through deceit and wrongdoing.
[28:21] 17 tn The construction uses the Hiphil infinitive הַכֵּר (hakken) as the subject of the sentence: “to have respect for [or, recognize] persons is not good” (e.g., 24:23; 18:5; Deut 1:17; Lev 19:15). Such favoritism is “not good”; instead, it is a miscarriage of justice and is to be avoided.
[28:21] 19 tn The meaning and connection of the line is not readily clear. It could be taken in one of two ways: (1) a person can steal even a small piece of bread if hungry, and so the court should show some compassion, or it should show no partiality even in such a pathetic case; (2) a person could be bribed for a very small price (a small piece of bread being the figure representing this). This second view harmonizes best with the law.
[28:22] 20 tn Heb “a man with an evil eye” (as opposed to the generous man who has a “good” eye). This individual is selfish, unkind, unsympathetic to others. He looks only to his own gain. Cf. NAB “The avaricious man”; NLT “A greedy person.”
[28:22] 21 sn The one who is hasty to gain wealth is involved in sin in some way, for which he will be punished by poverty. The idea of “hastening” after riches suggests a dishonest approach to acquiring wealth.
[28:23] 24 tn There is a problem with אַחֲרַי (’akharay), which in the MT reads “after me.” This could be taken to mean “after my instructions,” but that is forced. C. H. Toy suggests simply changing it to “after” or “afterward,” i.e., “in the end” (Proverbs [ICC], 504), a solution most English versions adopt. G. R. Driver suggested an Akkadian cognate ahurru, “common man,” reading “as a rebuker an ordinary man” (“Hebrew Notes,” ZAW 52 : 147).
[28:23] 25 tn The construction uses the Hiphil participle מַחֲלִיק (makhaliq, “makes smooth”) followed by the adverbial accusative of means, the metonymy “tongue” – he makes what he says smooth. This will be pleasing for the moment, but it will offer no constructive help like the rebuke would.
[28:24] 26 sn While the expression is general enough to cover any kind of robbery, the point seems to be that because it can be rationalized it may refer to prematurely trying to gain control of the family property through some form of pressure and in the process reducing the parents’ possessions and standing in the community. The culprit could claim what he does is not wrong because the estate would be his anyway.
[28:24] 27 sn The metaphor of “companion” here means that a person who would do this is just like the criminally destructive person. It is as if they were working together, for the results are the same.
[28:25] 29 tn Heb “wide of soul.” This is an idiom meaning “a greedy person.” The term נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh, traditionally, “soul”) has here its more basic meaning of appetites (a person is a soul, a bundle of appetites; BDB 660 s.v. 5.a). It would mean “wide of appetite” (רְהַב־נֶפֶשׁ), thus “greedy.”
[28:25] 31 tn The construction uses the participle בּוֹטֵחַ (boteakh) followed by עַל־יְהוָה (’al-yÿhvah), which gives the sense of “relying confidently on the
[28:25] 32 tn The verb דָּשֵׁן (dashen) means “to be fat,” and in the Piel/Pual stems “to make fat/to be made fat” (cf. KJV, ASV). The idea of being “fat” was symbolic of health and prosperity – the one who trusts in the
[28:26] 33 sn The idea of “trusting in one’s own heart” is a way of describing one who is self-reliant. C. H. Toy says it means to follow the untrained suggestions of the mind or to rely on one’s own mental resources (Proverbs [ICC], 505). It is arrogant to take no counsel but to rely only on one’s own intelligence.
[28:26] 34 sn The idiom of “walking in wisdom” means to live life according to the acquired skill and knowledge passed on from the sages. It is the wisdom from above that the book of Proverbs presents, not the undisciplined and uninformed wit and wisdom from below.
[28:26] 35 tn The verb form יִמָּלֵט (yimmalet) is the Niphal imperfect; the form means “to escape.” In this context one would conclude that it means “to escape from trouble,” because the one who lives in this life by wisdom will escape trouble, and the one who trusts in himself will not.
[28:27] 37 tn Heb “hides his eyes”; “to them” is supplied in the translation to indicate the link with the poor in the preceding line. Hiding or closing the eyes is a metonymy of cause or of adjunct, indicating a decision not to look on and thereby help the poor. It could also be taken as an implied comparison, i.e., not helping the poor is like closing the eyes to them.
[28:27] 39 sn The text does not specify the nature or the source of the curses. It is natural to think that they would be given by the poor who are being mistreated and ignored. Far from being praised for their contributions to society, selfish, stingy people will be reviled for their heartless indifference.
[28:28] 42 tn The form is the Niphal imperfect of סָתַר (satar, “to hide”); in this stem it can mean “to hide themselves” or “to go into hiding.” In either case the expression would be a hyperbole; the populace would not go into hiding, but they would tread softly and move about cautiously. G. R. Driver suggests the Akkadian sataru instead, which means “to demolish,” and is cognate to the Aramaic “to destroy.” This would produce the idea that people are “destroyed” when the wicked come to power (“Problems in the Hebrew Text of Proverbs,” Bib 32 : 192-93). That meaning certainly fits the idea, but there is no reason for the change because the MT is perfectly readable as it is and makes good sense.
[28:28] 43 tn The two clauses have parallel constructions: They both begin with infinitives construct with prepositions functioning as temporal clauses, followed by subjective genitives (first the wicked, and then the pronoun referring to them). This heightens the antithesis: “when the wicked rise…when they perish.”