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Proverbs: Chapter 30

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Text view alone

1The words of Agur son of Jakeh. An oracle.

Thus says the man: I am weary, O God, I am weary, O God. How can I prevail? d Meaning of Heb uncertain 2 Surely I am too stupid to be human; I do not have human understanding. 3 I have not learned wisdom, nor have I knowledge of the holy ones. e Or human fear 4 Who has ascended to heaven and come down? Who has gathered the wind in the hollow of the hand? Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is the person's name? And what is the name of the person's child? Surely you know!

5

Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. 6 Do not add to his words, or else he will rebuke you, and you will be found a liar.

7

Two things I ask of you; do not deny them to me before I die: 8 Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that I need, 9 or I shall be full, and deny you, and say, “Who is the LORD?” or I shall be poor, and steal, and profane the name of my God.

10

Do not slander a servant to a master, or the servant will curse you, and you will be held guilty.

11

There are those who curse their fathers and do not bless their mothers. 12 There are those who are pure in their own eyes yet are not cleansed of their filthiness. 13 There are those—how lofty are their eyes, how high their eyelids lift!— 14 there are those whose teeth are swords, whose teeth are knives, to devour the poor from off the earth, the needy from among mortals.

15

The leech a Or I am spent. Meaning of Heb uncertain has two daughters; “Give, give,” they cry. Three things are never satisfied; four never say, “Enough”: 16 Sheol, the barren womb, the earth ever thirsty for water, and the fire that never says, “Enough.” a Or I am spent. Meaning of Heb uncertain

17

The eye that mocks a father and scorns to obey a mother will be pecked out by the ravens of the valley and eaten by the vultures.

18

Three things are too wonderful for me; four I do not understand: 19 the way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a snake on a rock, the way of a ship on the high seas, and the way of a man with a girl. 20 This is the way of an adulteress: she eats, and wipes her mouth, and says, “I have done no wrong.”

21

Under three things the earth trembles; under four it cannot bear up: 22 a slave when he becomes king, and a fool when glutted with food; 23 an unloved woman when she gets a husband, and a maid when she succeeds her mistress.

24

Four things on earth are small, yet they are exceedingly wise: 25 the ants are a people without strength, yet they provide their food in the summer; 26 the badgers are a people without power, yet they make their homes in the rocks; 27 the locusts have no king, yet all of them march in rank; 28 the lizard b Or Holy One can be grasped in the hand, yet it is found in kings' palaces.

29

Three things are stately in their stride; four are stately in their gait: 30 the lion, which is mightiest among wild animals and does not turn back before any; 31 the strutting rooster, c Meaning of Heb uncertain the he‐goat, and a king striding before a Or I am spent. Meaning of Heb uncertain his people. 32 If you have been foolish, exalting yourself, or if you have been devising evil, put your hand on your mouth. 33 For as pressing milk produces curds, and pressing the nose produces blood, so pressing anger produces strife.

Notes:

b Meaning of Heb uncertain

c Or human fear

d Or I am spent. Meaning of Heb uncertain

e Or Holy One

a Meaning of Heb uncertain

Text Commentary view alone

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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