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The New Oxford Annotated Bible New Revised Standard Study Bible that provides essential scholarship and guidance for Bible readers.

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Commentary on Proverbs

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30.1–33 : The words of Agur and other sayings.

V. 1a is a title, but the extent of Agur's sayings (perhaps as far as v. 9 ) is uncertain.

1 :

Oracle, others understand the Heb to mean “from Massa,” a region of northern Arabia (Gen 25.14; 1 Chr 1.30 ). If so, Agur is a non‐Israelite. The rest of v. 1 is all but untranslatable.

2–3 :

The writer acknowledges human limitations.

4 :

Rhetorical questions implying the answer “God”; cf. Job 38.4–41 .

5–6 :

A pious response to vv. 1–4 (see Ps 18.30; 2 Sam 22.31; Deut 4.2; 12.32 ).

7–9 :

A prayer to be kept from falsehood, and to be given neither poverty nor riches (see Sir 31.1–4 ).

30.10–33 : Admonitions and numerical sayings.

Several of these sayings may have originated as riddles (e.g., vv. 15–16,18–19 ).

11–14 :

Four types of sinners: the unfilial, self‐satisfied, arrogant, and avaricious.

15–16 :

Two sayings on the insatiable. Sheol, the abode of the dead. Barren womb, see Gen 30.1 . Fire, see Am 7.4 .

18–19 :

Four wonders, comparable as regards a mysterious and irrecoverable way (Wis 5.10–11 ).

20 :

A moralizing comment on v. 19d ; eats, engages in illicit sex ( 5.15; 9.17; Sir 23.17; 26.12 ).

21–23 :

Four intolerable situations. Maid … mistress, see Gen 16.3–4 .

24–28 :

Four small yet instructive creatures.

29–31 :

Four examples of grandeur, or perhaps pomposity (the comparison with a king might be ironic; cf. vv. 27–28 ).

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