The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Book of Proverbs
Here are the words of Agur, son of Jacé.✻ Here is revelation made known by one that had God with him, God’s near presence to comfort him, as he spoke.
What though I be ignorant, beyond human wont?
What though the knowledge of man has passed me by, wisdom’s dull pupil, without skill in holy lore?
Who may he be that has scaled heaven, and come back to tell its secrets; held the winds in the hollow of his hand, wrapped away the storm-clouds under his mantle, fixed the bounds of earth? Tell me his name; tell me, if thou canst, where son of his may be found?
All God’s promises are like metal tested in the fire; he is the sure defence of all who trust in him.✻
Add to his word no word of thine; speedily thy practices shall come to light.
Two requests I would make of thee; be they mine while life lasts.
Keep my thoughts ever far from treachery and lying; and for my state of life, be neither poverty mine nor riches. Grant me only the livelihood I need;
so shall not abundance tempt me to disown thee, and doubt if Lord there be, nor want bid me steal, and dishonour my God’s name with perjury.
Never accuse a slave to his master; curse thee he may, and to thy undoing.
A bad breed it is, that curse their fathers and for their mothers have no good word.
A bad breed, that owns no blot, yet is all unpurged from its defilement.
A bad breed, all haughty looks and scornful brow.
A bad breed, that has teeth sharp as swords, jaws that grind slowly on, till poor folk none are left, their friendless neighbours.
Two sisters there are, men say, brood of the leech, that still cry, Give us more, give us more! But stay, there is a third Insatiable; nay, a fourth I can name that never says, Enough!
The grave, and the barren womb, and earth that soaks up the rain, and fire; did fire ever say, Enough?
Proud looks, that tell of a father mocked, a mother’s pangs despised! That eye the ravens shall pick out on the hill-side, the vulture’s brood shall prey on it.
Three mysteries there are too high for me, and a fourth is beyond my ken;
eagle that flies in air, viper that crawls on rock, ship that sails the sea, and man that goes courting maid.✻
Nor less I marvel at wanton wife that licks her greedy lips, and will have it that she did no harm.
Three sights there are set earth trembling, and a fourth it cannot endure;
slave turned king, churl full fed,
a scold married, and a maid that supplants✻ her mistress.
Of four little things in nature, wise men cannot match the skill.
How puny a race the ants, that hoard their food in harvest time;
how defenceless the rock-rabbits, that hide their burrows in the clefts!
No prince have the locusts, yet ever they march in rank;
the lizard climbs high, and makes its home in the palaces of kings.
Three creatures there are that walk majestically, and a fourth goes proudly on his way;
bravest of beasts, the lion, that fears no encounter,
the cock (Loins-girt they call him),✻ and the ram; and the king, too, for who can say him nay?
Fool that thrusts himself forward will prove a fool;✻ he had been better advised to hold his tongue.
First milk, then butter thou mayst have for the wringing; blow thy nose lustily, and blood shall flow at last; how then canst thou press thy quarrel home, and no strife come of it?
The Holy Bible