Do not let covenant loyalty and faithfulness leave you;
bind them around your neck;
[write them upon the tablet of your heart,] Bible

“covenant loyalty…faithfulness.” These are the figure of speech personification, because the Hebrew text is stated as if they are people and could leave on their own and somehow we could prevent them from doing so—which is actually close to the truth. If we neglect something for too long a time, we become unclear about it and eventually forget it. So here we see covenant loyalty and faithfulness added to their friends, Wisdom, prudence, and discretion. For more on the figure of speech personification, see commentary on Proverbs 1:20, “Wisdom.”

“neck” The word is plural in the Hebrew text to agree with the plural subject, “you [all],” but we leave it singular for ease of reading in English. The essence of the verse is, “You all, do not let covenant loyalty and faithfulness leave, bind them around your necks.”

“[write them upon the tablet of your heart].” We put this phrase in brackets because it has likely been added to the text. It stands out because it is the first time a third stanza has been added to a verse in Proverbs. More conclusive, however, is that it is missing from the Septuagint texts, and some of the Septuagint texts we have of Proverbs are much older than the Hebrew texts. While it is common for the Septuagint to differ from the Hebrew, it is not common for an entire sentence to be absent from the Septuagint but included in the Hebrew text. Also, sadly, there have only been a few fragments of Proverbs found in the Dead Sea Scrolls, but this verse is not in any of the fragments. We have kept the sentence in the verse because it is in the Hebrew text and because it fits in the context, but we put it in brackets because it is likely not original. Additions like this can come into the Hebrew or Greek text because the copies were made by hand, so if someone left out a phrase while copying, they wrote it in the margin so it could be copied back into the text by the next scribe. However, it was also common for scribes to write notes in the margins of their Bibles, just as we do today, and occasionally one of those notes got copied into the Bible as Holy Scripture. That is likely what happened in this case.

Commentary for: Proverbs 3:3