Proverbs 7:9 Exegesis

Preface

Proverbs 7:9 is one of five verses in the KJV of the Bible in which Even (Hebrew ereb, and Greek opsios) was interpreted and not given an accurate translation. The lexicons do not give the Biblical definition of Even and Evenings: this severely handicaps anyone who wants to gain a thorough understanding of the Bible. In the teaching called Between the Evenings the Biblical definition of Even/Evening was given. Now it is important to address these five incorrectly translated verses and bring consistency to the Biblical translation of these verses. We should never settle for a translator’s interpretation. A translator who inserts his interpretation has committed an egregious infraction. Translators have the duty to present the purest translation possible. An exegete has the duty to interpret a pure translation. If the translation has degraded into an erroneous interpretation, then the exegete performs the near impossible task of interpreting an erroneous interpretation; and Biblical truth can be compromised. The enemy of your soul likes nothing better than to insert interpretations into the Bible text and let them simmer for generations, until the proper understanding of the text is hidden in time, and most all scholars and preachers follow the canned and heretical interpretation because, all to often, they consider historical presentations superior to truthful presentations.

Proverbs 7:9

Part I

1.a. This treatise gives the exegesis of Proverbs 7:9 KJV, “In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night:”.

1.b. Proverbs chapter seven tells a story of the heart condition of two people. Proverbs 7:9 is a key verse within this story. If translated, as I propose in this treatise, it is more consistent, more compatible with the story as a whole. The witness (from verse six) is little concerned with the time of day that it is in verse nine, rather he is discerning the young man’s soul.

 

Proverbs 7:9 KJV, “In the twilight (Strong’s H5399 nesheph נשף), in the evening (Strong’s H3117 yowm יום and H6153 ereb עדב), in the black (Strong’s H380 iyshown איש) and dark (Strong’s H653 aphelah אפלה) night (Strong’s H3915 layil ליל):”.

 

3. “In the twilight” means that no portion of the disk of the sun is above the horizon. It can refer to a time prior to sunrise, or after sunset meaning that the sky still has some light available but it is growing dark and more difficult to see. In this verse, the meaning is applied to a time after sunset. This part of the translation appears solid and imparts the information that the writer intended. This verse, taken in context, describes people who come out at night to sin. They come out at night because they do not wish to be easily identified. Twilight is the beginning of the cover of darkness which they seek. Job 24:15 KJV, “The eye also of the adulterer waiteth for the twilight, saying, No eye shall see me: and disguiseth his face.

 

4.a. “[I]n the evening” is the next part of this verse and is a corrupt translation for more than one reason. The Hebrew word “yowm” should not have been translated as “evening”, because yowm means “day”. The Hebrew word ereb means even or evening. But even or evening or ereb in biblical time keeping does not refer to the time of day after sundown, instead it refers to the time of day from noon to sundown. In other words, ereb means afternoon in our current day usage of the word. See our treatise Between The Evenings for a more complete explanation of the meaning of even/evening/ereb/opsios.

 

4.b. So, the corruption in the translation of yowm and ereb is that yowm is ignored completely. The corruption in the translation of ereb is that it is made to refer to a period of time after sundown, when it really refers to the afternoon (in our modern concept). The logic in this verse has broken down: The first third talks about twilight and the second third talks about the afternoon. If these sinners want to remain hidden, they certainly would not go out to meet each other in the afternoon.

 

4.c. When used together, yowm and ereb, have a slightly different meaning than when used separately. I checked with a Hebrew translation of this verse and they did employ a slightly different meaning to these two words used together. It read, “as daylight wanes”. This translation at least has some logic to it. “In the twilight, as daylight wanes…” certainly explains that it was a time of transition from light to darkness and darkness had the upper hand.

 

4.d. I prefer a more literal translation. Since ereb means even which means sundown (in this case the second even or second sundown of the day), I would translate these two words as “the after even time of the day” or “the after sundown time of the day” or “the night time of the day”. In the last case, ereb does not literally translate to night; however, it gets the point across as effectively as “as daylight wanes”. After all a day can be divided into two or three parts. A two part division would be the daylight portion of a day and the dark or night portion of a day. A three part division would be morning, evening (our modern day afternoon), and night.

 

4.e. This phrase, “the night time of the day” also confirms that a day consists of the daylight hours and the night time hours that follow. Another verse that confirms that the night hours are part of a day is Mark 14:30 KJV, “And [Yahoshua] saith unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice.

 

5.a. In this paragraph, I will attempt to explain from another approach, how we can have a day time of the day and a night time of the day. 

 

5.b. A day has several different meanings in Scripture. It must be determined from the context which meaning applies. Here are some of your choices: The daylight time of the day only; the night time of the day; both the daylight and night hours of a day; and a period of time that may be more than a single day. 

 

5.c. Here is an example of the night time hours of a day. Proverbs 7:9 KJV, "In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night:”. This Scripture is filled with time markers: "In the twilight" means after sundown; "in the evening" means in the afternoon or it can mean at sundown; and "in the black and dark night" means after sundown. As translated, this Scripture contradicts itself. Two time markers indicate that it is after sunset, and one time marker indicates that it is at sunset or sooner.

 

Evening is translated from the Hebrew word yowm (Strong's H3117 yowm יום). Now the translators have given a totally false translation. Yowm means day. Ereb means the evening time of the day (Strong's H6153 ereb עדב), which is our modern day afternoon. The translation I checked left out ereb and incorrectly translated yowm into evening. Possibly some might say the translators left out "yowm" and translated ereb correctly. Either way, the translators left out a vital word in their translation. Taken together, these two words yowm and ereb, mean "the time of day after sundown" or "the night time of the day”.

 

Upon checking about fifty translations and only two of them translated this verse with any semblance of correctness. Here is John Wycliffe’s translation of 1380. Proverbs 7:9 WYC “[I]n dark time, when the day draweth to night, in the darkness and mist in the night.” In the original wording we have Proverbs 7:9 WYC “[G]oith niy the weie of hir hous in derk tyme, whanne the dai drawith to niyt, in the derknessis and myst of the nyyt.

 

Let us compare my two suggestions along side of Wycliffe’s translation. We will focus only on the part of the verse that has been translated incorrectly by all the other versions.

 

the time of day after sundown

 

the night time of the day

 

when the day draweth to night

 

whanne the dai drawith to niyt.

 

5.d. What changed between Wycliffe’s translation in 1380 and the next translations available to us in 1525 with William Tyndale, Myles Coverdale in 1535, Thomas Matthew in 1537, the Great Bible in 1539, the Geneva Bible in 1560, Bishops’ Bible in 1568, and the King James Bible in 1611? Why was the knowledge of the night time of the day lost to these subsequent translations? Why was the knowledge that the Hebrew word ereb, which meant even or evening, which meant afternoon or sunset lost? This lack of knowledge affects every other verse in the entire Bible in which the word ereb is used. It literally changes the times as prophesied in Daniel 7:25 KJV, “And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.

 

5.e. The Stone Edition Tanach also gave a valid translation for the part of Proverbs 7:9 that addresses the use of the Hebrew words of yowm and ereb together. I will underline that part. “[I]n the twilight, as daylight wanes, in the blackness of night and darkness.” Wanes is not a word for word translation of ereb, because ereb means, in this context, sundown. However the phrase as daylight wanes certainly imparts the correct meaning. Yowm and ereb used together does mean that the daylight is waning because it refers to the after sundown time of day or the night time of the day.

 

6.a. Now we will take a look at the last third of verse nine and the three major words in that verse, “in the black and dark night”. I have made a chart that shows each word in Hebrew, how it is translated into English in the King James Version, and a list of the meanings that should have been used by the translators but were rejected in favor of the definitions they did employ.

Strong's     Hebrew     Meaning       KJV          Possible

number      word         of word        Transla-   Transla-

                                                    tion         tions

 

 

H380          iyshown     the              black        his soul

                                  middle of                     like the

                                  the night                      dark pupil

                                  (deepest                      of an eye

                                  blackness)

                                  

 

                                  pupil of

                                  the eye

 

 

H653           aphelah     darkness       dark         is full of

                                                                      wicked-

                                   gloominess                   ness

                                   calamity

                                   wickedness

                                   (figuratively)

 

 

H3915          layil           night             night        and 

                                                                        gloom

                                                                        of 

                                     night of                        night

                                     gloom

 

                                     protective

                                     shadow

6.b. The last third of this verse begins with black or the Hebrew word iyshown. The translation of this word can be highly complex. One meaning is “the middle of the night (that is the deepest blackness)”. But is this translation logical and in sync with the first two thirds of the verse? It could be. We have gone from twilight, to the night part of a day, and now to the middle of the night. This is a logical progression of time and continually growing darkness. But, is this what the observer from verse six was witnessing? I think not. The verse six observer was not witnessing a scene that was rapidly progressing through time. The observer was giving witness to a scene being played out before his eyes; a snapshot in time so to speak, but not a video. In a video he could have described a scene that is progressing in time. But he did not, instead he described a snapshot in time. If the witness is giving us a verbal video of his observations, then he would have had to stare and observe the scene he was describing from the time of twilight until the time of deep darkness of night. I doubt seriously that the couple were standing still in the same spot for a lengthy period of time. Besides, without moon light - which is never mentioned - the witness would have lost sight of the couple.

 

6.c. There is a second meaning for iyshown. It means the “pupil of the eye”. Using this definition in verse nine opens up another possibility for the intended meaning of this Scripture. If the verse six witness was discerning the young man’s motives, and I believe he was, then making reference to his eyes has the deeper meaning of peering into the soul of the young man; discerning his spiritual and moral condition; discerning if his soul is full of light or darkness. Matthew 6:23 KJV, “But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!” Luke 11:34 KJV, “The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness.

 

7.a. The next word to be translated from Hebrew is aphelah. This word also has several possible meanings. It could mean darkness, gloominess, calamity, or wickedness (in a figurative manner). Since the previous word of iyshown means deepest blackness, would it make any sense to translate this next word of aphelah as darkness? “Deepest blackness darkness” just does not flow comfortably after “In the twilight, in the night time of the day”. Nor does “gloominess” substitute very well. Possibly “calamity” or “wickedness” would work. 

 

7.b. But if we are going to translate the meaning of the last third of this verse by peering into the young man’s heart and soul, then the definition of wickedness for aphelah makes perfect sense. Iyshown has already revealed that the young man’s thoughts are not pure. What better way to follow up on that thought than to further describe his dark soul by calling him wicked? 

 

8.a. The last word in verse nine is layil which means “night” or “night of gloom” or “protective shadow”.

 

8.b. If we use the definition for layil of “night of gloom”, then I believe we have completed the thoughts of discernment toward this errant young man. Rather than having light coming from his soul through his eyes (iyshown) we have darkness. Rather than having to repeat this reference to darkness with the next word, instead we substitute wickedness (aphelah). And finally, with layil we see the young man’s final condition, he is covered by the gloominess of night.

 

9.a. Now that we have proposed that the spiritual significance of the last third of this verse has been overlooked or rejected by the translators, let us put our understanding of the verse together.

 

9.b. First, let us look at the translation again from the King James version. Proverbs 7:9 KJV, “In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night:”.

 

9.c. Second, let us look at this verse again with the corrections I made, due to the erroneous use of “evening” (actually afternoon) for the two Hebrew words of ereb and yowm. Proverbs 7:9 KJV, “In the twilight, in the [after sunset time of the day], in the black and dark night:”.

 

9.d. Third, let us look at the full insertion of the translation that we propose, which I believe was the intended meaning by the original author of this verse. Proverbs 7:9, “In the twilight, in the after sunset time of the day, his soul like the dark pupil of an eye, is full of wickedness and gloom of night.

 

9.e. I believe, if you study the chart that I have provided, you will see that our translation falls within the parameters of a valid translation.

 

10. In Proverbs 7:2, just seven verses prior to verse nine, we see a contrast. In verse two our Father desires that our focus be on His law. Proverbs 7:2 KJV, “Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye.” The point I am making here is that if your focus is on the law of Yahowah rather than adultery, then the pupil of your eye will reveal light and not darkness.

 

11. If the KJ translators knew the correct meaning of ereb/even and the correct meaning of ereb/even and yowm/day when used together - which is the “night time of the day”, then they most likely would have opted for the translation that I have proposed here. This one word ereb, and in this case the joint usage of the words ereb and yowm, have a tremendous impact upon the translation of the entire Bible.

 

12. There are four other places in the KJV in which the word even or evening has been mistranslated: Genesis 49:27, Leviticus 6:20, Job 7:4, and Psalms 30:5. We will cover these four verses in Parts II, III, IV, & V.

 

 

Genesis 49:27

Part II

 

 

13. Genesis 49:27 KJV, “Benjamin shall ravin as a wolf: in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil.

 

The word “night” is a translation that relays the meaning of this verse. But, it is not a word for word grammatically correct translation. Behind the word “night” is the Hebrew word ereb, which means even or evening, and that is our modern day afternoon. Ereb can also mean the end of the afternoon, or the second sunset of the day, then night begins. In Genesis 1:5, when it says “then there was evening”, that meant that night has now come because the second sunset of the day has occurred. So, it should be in Genesis 49:27. See our treatise Between The Evenings for a more thorough explanation.

 

A better translation would be Genesis 49:27 KJV, “Benjamin shall ravin as a wolf: in the morning he shall devour the prey, and [at evening] he shall divide the spoil.

 

Morning is the part of the day from sunrise to noon. Evening is the time of day from noon to sunset. Night is the time of day from sunset to sunrise. Benjamin divided the spoils at evening, which - in this context - is the end of our modern day afternoon.

 

 

Leviticus 6:20

Part III

 

 

14. Leviticus 6:20 KJV, “This is the offering of Aaron and of his sons, which they shall offer unto [Yahowah] in the day when he is anointed; the tenth part of an ephah of fine flour for a meat offering perpetual, half of it in the morning, and half thereof at night.

 

The word night is an incorrect translation. It is my opinion this reveals that the KJV translators did not know the meaning of ereb/evening. Ereb is from noon to sunset, the same as our modern day afternoon. The KJV translators have given us an interpretation, not a translation in this verse.

 

The correct translation should be Leviticus 6:20 KJV, “This is the offering of Aaron and of his sons, which they shall offer unto [Yahowah] in the day when he is anointed; the tenth part of an ephah of fine flour for a meat offering perpetual, half of it in the morning, and half thereof [in the evening].” And some Bibles give us this translation.

 

Morning is the part of the day from sunrise to noon. Evening is the time of day from noon to sunset. Night is the time of day from sunset to sunrise. Aaron and his sons will offer the fine flour in the evening, which is our modern day afternoon.

 

Job 7:4

Part IV

15. Job 7:4 KJV, “When I lie down, I say, When shall I arise, and the night be gone? and I am full of tossings to and fro unto the dawning of the day.

 

The word night is an incorrect translation. It reveals that the KJV translators did not know the meaning of ereb/evening. Ereb is from noon to sunset, the same as our modern day afternoon. The KJV translators have given us an interpretation, not a translation in this verse.

 

The correct translation should be Job 7:4 KJV, “When I lie down, I say, When shall I arise and [evening] be gone? and I am full of tossings to and fro unto the dawning of the day.” But this translation makes little sense. It would appear that Job is lamenting when evening will be over (evening is our modern afternoon). But the KJV translators want this verse to make sense to them, and they do that by making it appear that Job is lamenting when night will be over. But the only way they can do that is to translate ereb (evening) as night, which is a huge error. Ereb is not night, it is evening or in this case sunset (ereb has four specific meanings and one of them is sunset).

 

Young translates the verse differently. Job 7:4 YLT, “If I lay down then I said, `When do I rise!' And evening hath been measured, And I have been full of tossings till dawn.” Young correctly inserts evening rather than night, I assume his scholarly conscience will not allow him to do otherwise. But it does not appear that Young understands the full meaning of ereb any more than the KJV translators do. After all, the Lexicons do not give us the full and proper meaning of ereb. The full and proper meaning of ereb can only be obtained by a careful study of the Scriptures. Please refer to our treatise Between The Evenings.

 

When Young says “evening hath been measured…tossings till dawn” it appears that he is trying to say that evening was basically all night long. One could only hope he really meant that “after sunset I tossed and turned until dawn”. Because this is that which the verse really communicates.

 

If we take every word of this verse, and refer to Strong’s Concordance we can construct a sentence every bit as well as the KJV translators and Young. But we have an advantage that they did not have. We know that which ereb means in its entirety. So, here is the correct translation: “If I lie down, I say, when shall I rise? At eventide it continues, I weary with tossings till dawn.

 

This verse could be translated quite differently though. If we take the thoughts and meanings of what is being relayed to us and ignore the exact words that were used, it could sound like this: “It makes no difference if I’m laying down or sitting or standing up, and it makes no difference if it’s day time or night time, I am in agony.” Ignoring the exact words used would make this meaning for meaning an interpretation and not a translation. I do not want a text, a Bible, that is an interpretation. But as an expositor of the Scriptures it is my job to interpret. Yet I cannot interpret if I do not have a reliable translation set before me.

 

Morning is the part of the day from sunrise to noon. Evening is the time of day from noon to sunset. Night is the time of day from sunset to sunrise. Job is in agony all day long until sunset (ereb), then his agony continues all night long until sunrise. He never receives any relief.

 

 

Psalm 30:5

Part V

16. Psalm 30:5 KJV, “For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

 

The word night, which is translated from the Hebrew word ereb, is not a word for word translation. Instead, night is a meaning for meaning interpretation of this verse. Let me explain.

 

Ereb means a biblical evening. A biblical evening is identical with our modern day afternoon, it goes from high noon until sundown. In the Bible there is no such time marker known as afternoon. Afternoon in the Bible is always referred to as the evening. Ereb has three additional meanings and all are connected to its primary definition. (1) High noon is the first even (ereb) of a biblical day; also known as Little Evening. (2) Sundown is the second even (ereb) of a biblical day. (3) Any time between these two evenings can also be referred to as even or evening. (4) And of course even or evening can refer to the entire time between these two evenings.

 

So, in Psalm 30:5, when even (ereb) is used it is referring to the second even of the day which is sundown. Basically, it is saying that “after sundown”, which is the night time of a day, “weeping may endure, but joy cometh in the morning.”

 

The problem I have with the liberty the KJ translators took with this verse is that they may have steered someone to incorrectly think that night is a proper translation of ereb, when it is not. But I will grant them that they did give a valid meaning for meaning interpretation of this verse. But that is a problem, it is an interpretation, not a translation when it comes to this one word ereb.

 

17. We welcome constructive input supported by Scriptures from the Bible. Please contact us by using the contact icon. Copyright © 2013 Richard Douglas Mauck and/or Sandra Faye Mauck. All rights reserved. This material is copyrighted to protect the integrity of this work. Permission is hereby granted to copy this treatise in its entirety as long as no editing is done, no charge is made to those with whom it is shared, and full credit is given to the authors.