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Proverbs 6:1-3

New American Standard Bible 1995 Parental Counsel

6 My son, if you have become surety for your neighbor, Have [a]given a pledge for a stranger, 2 If you have been snared with the words of your mouth, Have been caught with the words of your mouth, 3 Do this then, my son, and deliver yourself; Since you have come into the [b]hand of your neighbor, Go, humble yourself, and importune your neighbor.

Proverbs 6:1-3

New King James Version Dangerous Promises

6 My son, if you become [a]surety for your friend, If you have [b]shaken hands in pledge for a stranger, 2 You are snared by the words of your mouth; You are taken by the words of your mouth. 3 So do this, my son, and deliver yourself; For you have come into the hand of your friend: Go and humble yourself; Plead with your friend.

Proverbs 6:1-3

English Standard Version

Practical Warnings

6 My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor, have given your pledge for a stranger, 2 if you are snared in the words of your mouth, caught in the words of your mouth, 3 then do this, my son, and save yourself, for you have come into the hand of your neighbor: go, hasten,[a] and plead urgently with your neighbor.

6:1-3 The Westminster Leningrad Codex

6 בְּ֭נִי אִם־עָרַ֣בְתָּ לְרֵעֶ֑ךָ תָּקַ֖עְתָּ לַזָּ֣ר כַּפֶּֽיךָ׃

2 נוֹקַ֥שְׁתָּ בְאִמְרֵי־פִ֑יךָ נִ֝לְכַּ֗דְתָּ בְּאִמְרֵי־פִֽיךָ׃

3 עֲשֵׂ֨ה זֹ֥את אֵפ֪וֹא׀ בְּנִ֡י וְֽהִנָּצֵ֗ל כִּ֘י בָ֤אתָ בְכַף־רֵעֶ֑ךָ לֵ֥ךְ הִ֝תְרַפֵּ֗ס וּרְהַ֥ב רֵעֶֽיךָ׃

Most of the commentaries on:

https://biblehub.com/commentaries/proverbs/6-1.htm

seem to indicate that the Proverbs 6's first few verses refers to being cautious about being financially in debt ( or in shape or form being financially obligated to someone else ).

However, could someone please read and analyze the Hebrew to see if Proverbs 6's first few verses can be interpreted as broad enough to go beyond financial obligations?

To elaborate using an example, if a person allows his child to stay over at a their school friend's house then the school friend's parents are obligated to look after said person's child when it comes to physical safety, mental health, etc., during the duration of said child's stay over at the house.

In fact a more obvious example, school teachers & school administrators are responsible for the physical safety, mental health, etc., of children attending their school when they attending school during the weekday

Therefore, could someone please read and analyze the Hebrew to see if Proverbs 6's first few verses can be interpreted as broad enough to go beyond financial obligations?

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    In a word - yes it is very broad
    – Dottard
    Feb 19, 2022 at 21:22

1 Answer 1

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A law is one thing. A moral principle is another. Proverbs 6:1-3 is not dealing with law but with a king giving counsel to his son. The writer is giving written instructions to the heir to the throne, in a society that operated many hundreds of years before Jesus was born.

However, other parts of the Hebrew scriptures deal with the principles involved in such pledges, which could be viewed as legally binding, once hands had been struck in pledge. The same matter is repeated in Proverbs 22:26-27 which gives this advice:

"Do not be a man who strikes hands in pledge or puts up security for debts; if you lack the means to pay, your very bed will be snatched from under you."

This seems to infer that the person for whom you gave security for their debt has defaulted, and now the loan is being called in. The man standing as security must now pay.

In Genesis 43:9 this happened when Judah volunteered to personally guarantee the safe return of his younger brother, Benjamin, to their elderly father, Jacob. When this pledge seemed impossible to fulfil, he had to offer himself to Joseph as a slave (Genesis 44:32-33). Such arrangements were sealed by "striking hands". This means that the principle involved can apply to more than financial debts. In modern society, the Law acknowledges such a thing as both a moral and a legal "Duty of Care" in many situations. Your examples come into that category.

It is not necessary to check out the Hebrew wording of Proverbs 6:1-3 to see that the principle can apply to any sworn agreement. There is no mention of anything being written down - it is a matter of honour, and of one's word. But if you want analysis of the Hebrew words, you might find the Mi Yodea site the best place to ask about that.

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