13 The sluggard says, “There’s a lion outside! I’ll be killed in the public square!”
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I would say that the point that the cited verse from Proverbs is trying to make is to emphasize through humorous exaggeration the lengths to which a sluggard (that is, a person who is lazy by disposition) will go in order to avoid having to work -- whether the sluggard allows himself to be deterred by impediments that normally industrious people would not hesitate to address and overcome, or even goes to the extent of making up excuses that are totally and obviously false, but that the sluggard claims are making work impossible. A later verse in Proverbs (Proverbs 26:15) employs the same type of hyperbole by describing the sluggard as even lacking the energy to bring food that is in his hand up to his mouth so that he can eat it.
I like Brother Maas's cross-reference at the end of his answer. (A later verse in Proverbs (Proverbs 26:15) employs the same type of hyperbole by describing the sluggard as even lacking the energy to bring food that is in his hand up to his mouth so that he can eat it. The verse in question paints a humorous picture of a sluggard’s excuse-making: “The sluggard says, ‘There’s a lion outside! I’ll be killed in the public square!’” This extreme excuse would be like a person today saying, “There could be a wild bear loose on the highway, so I had better not go to work.” For most people, the possibility of a rampaging bear is so remote as to be laughable—and it’s certainly no reason to skip work. To further delve into the verse in question, see this translation: “The sluggard says, ‘There is a lion 1 outside! I will be killed in the middle of the streets!’” 2 Notes: 1 The proverb humorously describes the sluggard as making ridiculous excuses for not working – he might be eaten by a lion (e.g., Prov. 26:13). It is possible that “lion” is figurative, intended to represent someone who is like a lion, but this detracts from the humor of the exaggeration. 2 The LXX changes the phrase to read “murderers in the street” to form a better parallelism, possibly because the verb רָצַח (ratsakh) is used only of humans, not wild animals. The NIV attempts to solve the problem by making the second line a separate claim by the sluggard: “or, ‘I will be murdered in the streets!’” I often quote the Message Bible translation of Proverbs 10:5 about wise people being diligent in their work -- "Make hay while the sun shines—that’s smart; go fishing during harvest—that’s stupid." Peculiar person that I am, I always do this on October 5 (10/5). But I do it more often really than that because it's one of my favorite verses. What Mr. Maas mentioned about the section in the Book, Proverbs 26:13-16, dealing with the lazy person was classic: "A later verse in Proverbs (Proverbs 26:15) employs the same type of hyperbole by describing the sluggard as even lacking the energy to bring food that is in his hand up to his mouth so that he can eat it." Now that's sloth! The King James Version here, Prov. 26:15 has an important note in the RSB: KJV -- "The slothful hideth his hand in his bosom; it grieveth him to bring it again to his mouth." "Bosom" would be better translated "bowl." And "it grieveth him to bring" means that he is weary of bringing (cf. Proverbs 19:24).
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