Based on the Hebrew reading of Proverbs 22:4, "Fear [of] YHVH" ( יִרְאַ֣ת יְהוָ֑ה ) is the result of "Humility" ( עֲ֭נָוָה ).

If we speak Mishlei 22:4, then we could say :

" Eqev Anavah Yirat HaShem, Osher, ve-Kavod, ve-Chayim" ( עֵ֣קֶב עֲ֭נָוָה יִרְאַ֣ת יְהוָ֑ה עֹ֖שֶׁר וְכָב֣וֹד וְחַיִּֽים )

  • If we speak Mishlei 22:4 in English, then we say : " Following Humility [is] Fear [of] The-NAME, Wealth, and-Honor, and-Life. " - English bibles however differ on translating this verse.

The [KJV] removes the word "Following" ( עֵ֣קֶב ) to insert AND as a conditional operator :

" By humility [AND] the fear of the LORD [are] riches, and honour, and life. "

The [NIV] removes the word "Following" ( עֵ֣קֶב ) leaving the phrase :

" Humility is the fear of The-LORD; [its wages] are riches and honor and life. "

Is it accurate to state "Humility [is] Fear of [The] LORD" when translating Proverbs 22:4 ?

2 Answers 2


Hebrew proverbs are notoriously tricky to translate - their pithy meaning is usually multifaceted. In the Hebrew, Prov 22:4 is just seven words, tightly packed with meaning.

Further, as with English proverbs, they often deliberately ambiguous to allow multiple understandings. The same is true in most languages. I think this is true here as well.

The literal rendering of the Hebrew might be:

Because of humility fear of YHWH riches and honor and life

Thus, we might render the proverb according to several options:

1. Humility and Fear of the LORD leads to riches and honor and life. That is, one needs both humility and fear of the LORD to receive riches and honor and life.

Thus, we have, NLT, ESV, BSB, KJV, NASB, CSB, ESV, NET, WEB, etc.

2. Humility leads to fear of the LORD with riches and honor and life That is, true humility leads directly to the fear of the LORD and riches and honor and life.

Thus, ISV, JPS, LSV, YLT, etc.

3. Humility is the fear of the LORD; which leads to riches and honor and life

Thus, NIV. (This is really only a variant of #1 above.)

Significantly, the LXX has the following:

γενεὰ σοφίας φόβος Κυρίου καὶ πλοῦτος καὶ δόξα καὶ ζωή = The fear of the Lord is the offspring of wisdom, and wealth, and glory, and life. (Brenton)

In the spirit of all proverbs, I think that all of these are simultaneously correct and equally valid.


This is my really literal translation, Proverbs 22:4:

The consequence of humility— 
  the fear of the Lord,
    wealth and honor and life.

I don't bother with any verb because there is none in the Hebrew. I use the emdash to indicate consequence. I place the three phrases in parallel. I have added no extra conjunction.

This verse has many different translations because the verb is missing and the first word עֵ֣קֶב has a wide range of meanings.

עֵ֣קֶב (‘ê·qeḇ)
Noun - masculine singular construct
Strong's Hebrew 6118: A heel, the last of anything, result, compensation, on account of


עֵ֫קֶב noun [masculine] consequence, usually as adverb accusative as a consequence of, because (that) also reward, end (see below עָקַב; and cf, heel figurative consequence, result); —

1 Isaiah 5:23 מַצְדִּיקֵי רָשָׁע עֵקֶב שֹׁחַד (adverb accusative) in consequence of a bribe. Psalm 40:16 (= Psalm 70:4) על עֵקֶב בָּשְׁתָּם (pleon.) according to the consequence of their shame, i.e. in consequence of the disgrace falling upon them. Hence as

conjunction עֵקֶב אֲשֶׁר as a consequence of (the fact) that, because, Genesis 22:18 אֲשֶׁר שָׁמַעְתָּ ׳בְּקֹלִי ע Genesis 26:5; 2 Samuel 12:6; so עֵקֶב כִּי 2 Samuel 12:10; Amos 4:12 כִּי זאת אעשׂה לך ׳ע; עֵקֶב alone, Numbers 14:24, and (followed by imperfect) Deuteronomy 7:12 תשׁמעון ׳ע in consequence of your hearkening, etc., Deuteronomy 8:20.

2 consequence = gain, reward, Psalm 19:12 בְּשָׁמְרָם עֵקֶב רָב, Proverbs 22:4 ׳עשֶׁר וגו ׳עֵקֶב עֲנָוָה (וְ)יִרְאַת י.

3 end (of time), adverb accusative, Psalm 119:33 ׳וְאֶצֳּרֶנָּה ע to the end, Psalm 119:112 לְעוֺלָם ׳ע (compare Ecclus 16:3; ᵑ7 עִקְבָּא (rare)).

The translation of every version is justified and guided by its own translation philosophy.

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