5 The one[a] who flatters[b] his neighbor spreads a net[c] for his steps.[d]
Proverbs 29:5tnHeb “a man,” but the context here does not suggest that the proverb refers to males only.
Proverbs 29:5tn The form is the Hiphil participle, literally “deals smoothly,” i.e., smoothing over things that should be brought to one’s attention. sn The flatterer is too smooth; his words are intended to gratify. In this proverb some malice is attached to the flattery, for the words prove to be destructive.
Proverbs 29:5sn The image of “spreading a net” for someone’s steps is an implied comparison (a figure of speech known as hypocatastasis): As one would literally spread a net, this individual’s flattery will come back to destroy him. A net would be spread to catch the prey, and so the idea is one of being caught and destroyed.
Proverbs 29:5tn There is some ambiguity concerning the referent of “his steps.” The net could be spread for the one flattered (cf. NRSV, “a net for the neighbor’s feet”; NLT, “their feet,” referring to others), or for the flatterer himself (cf. TEV “you set a trap for yourself”). The latter idea would make the verse more powerful: In flattering someone the flatterer is getting himself into a trap (e.g., 2:16; 7:5; 26:28; 28:23).
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