Numbered Parallelism in Proverbs:
Prov. 6:16-19, NASB - 16 There are six things which the Lord hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: 17 Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood, 18 A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that run rapidly to evil, 19 A false witness who utters lies, And one who spreads strife among brothers.
Prov. 30:18, NASB - There are three things which are too wonderful for me, Four which I do not understand:
Prov. 30:29, NASB - There are three things which are stately in their march, Even four which are stately when they walk:
Proverbs is a book of comparisons between common, concrete images and life’s most profound truths.
In the example of Prov 30:18, the 3 wonderful physical things explain the deeper 4th. The eagle soars through the sky effortlessly, the snake flows like a liquid uphill on a rock, and the ship sails gracefully by the power of the wind through huge waves in the heart of the sea. These all explain the 4th, and most awesome, which is the courtship of a mighty man with an innocent young woman. Jacob slaved 7 years night and day sleeping out in the cold yet they seemed to him like a few short days because of his love for Rachel (Gen 29:20).
The example of Prov 30:29 is similar, but a little different, I think. The 3 stately animals describe the 4th, the king. Then the 4 numbered parallelisms explain the following 2 verses of how you should act before a king.
32 If thou hast done foolishly in lifting up thyself, or if thou hast thought evil, lay the hand upon thy mouth.
33 For the pressing of milk bringeth forth butter, and the pressing of the nose bringeth forth blood; and the pressing of anger bringeth forth strife.
Then we come to subject of this post: Prov 6:16-19.
The 6 things that God hates explain how bad the 7th one is.
If it had just said, The Lord hates the sending of discord among brothers, it would not have nearly the impact as it does here.
Also, the 7 things God hates explain the previous paragraph about the man of Belial:
2 A man of Belial, a wicked person, is he that goeth about with a perverse mouth;
13 he winketh with his eyes, he speaketh with his feet, he teacheth with his fingers;
14 deceits are in his heart; he deviseth mischief at all times, he soweth discords.
15 Therefore shall his calamity come suddenly: in a moment shall he be broken, and without remedy.
In the 7 numbered parallels, we have 5 body parts: eyes, tongue, hands, heart and feet.
The man of Belial is described by almost the same body parts and in a little different order: mouth, eyes, feet, fingers, heart.
Both the man of Belial, and the 7 parallelisms end with the same thing: sending forth discord. The Hebrew verb and noun are the same for both the man of Belial and the 7th parallelism.
The only thing missing is the man of Belial does not have the false witness.
The false witness actually could be the same thing as the one who sends discord among brothers. So it is 6 or 7 things that God hates.
v19 could be translated:
19 A false witness breathes out lies and is sending discord between brothers.
LXX translated that way:
LXX 19 An unjust witness kindles falsehoods, and brings on quarrels between brethren.
But LXX does not have the numbers in v16
LXX 16 For he rejoices in all things which God hates, and he is ruined by reason of impurity of soul.
So, in conclusion, we have 6 or 7 things that God hates. The 1st 5, which are all related to body parts explain the seriousness of the last 1 or 2.
In the other 2 examples of numbered parallelism, it wasn't 3 OR 4 parallelisms, but it was clearly 4, with the 4th being a deep aspect of human life, and the previous 3 from creation.
Are there any other numbered parallelism where it is n OR n+1 items? Where 2 items could be counted as 2 OR 1?
I don't know of others in the Old Testament.
In the New Testament there is Rev 17:10-11