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Walk[a] abreast with a foolish person,[b]
and you do not understand[c] wise counsel.[d]

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  1. Proverbs 14:7 tn The general meaning of the proverb is clear, to avoid association with a fool who is not a source of wisdom. But the precise way that the proverb says it is unclear. The Hebrew in the first colon has the imperative לֵךְ (lekh) “walk” followed by the compound preposition מִנֶּגֶד (minneged) “across from,” “opposite of,” or rarely “[away] from in front of [someone’s eyes].” The most common use of the preposition yields, “Walk across/abreast from a foolish person and you do not [come to] know knowledgeable lips.” Many translations interpret it to say “go/stay away from…” (e.g. NIV, ESV, NAS, KJV) while others say “enter into the presence of…” (ASV, ERV).tc Instead of לֵךְ (lekh) “walk,” the LXX reads “all,” implying the reversal of the two consonants as כֹּל (kol). The Hebrew would mean “everything is opposite of the foolish person.” This is perhaps an idiomatic way of saying that from the fool’s perspective, everything is opposed to him.
  2. Proverbs 14:7 tn Heb “a man, a stupid fellow.”
  3. Proverbs 14:7 tn As the perfect form of a stative verb, יָדַעְתָּ (yadaʿta) may be understood as present or past: thus as the result “you do not come to know” or the basis “you have not known.”tc The MT reads וּבַל־יָדַעְתָּ (uval yadaʿta, “you do not know [the lips of knowledge]).” The LXX reflects a Hebrew Vorlage of וּכְלֵי־דַעַת (ukhele daʿat) “instruments of knowledge/discretion.” The textual variant involves wrong word division and orthographic confusion between ב (bet) and כ (kaf). The LXX reading here makes sense if its reading of the first colon is accepted (see earlier note) or if מִנֶּגֶד (minneged) is separative (“walk away from…”). Both would contrast the value of being with a fool and value of wise lips. The LXX of Proverbs can be loose, but this case seems to be the faithful rendering of a slightly different Hebrew copy. Either the LXX or the MT text could just as easily give rise to the other. Both readings are workable and both give the same general advice. Tg. Prov 14:7 freely interprets the verse: “for there is no knowledge on his lips.” C. H. Toy emends the text: “for his lips do not utter knowledge” as in 15:7 (Proverbs [ICC], 285).
  4. Proverbs 14:7 tn Heb “lips of knowledge” (so KJV, ASV). “Lips” is the metonymy of cause, and “knowledge” is an objective genitive (speaking knowledge) or attributive genitive (knowledgeable speech): “wise counsel.”

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