Hollywood Hitpael

“There is one who makes himself rich, yet has nothing; And one who makes himself poor, yet has great riches” (Proverbs 13:7, NKJV). There may be many levels of application of Solomon’s words here. I think of the rich young ruler, who appeared to be rich, but when he “turned away sorrowful,” showed that he was in reality poor (Matt. 19:16-22). The rich man of Luke 12:15-21 was not really wealthy because he was “not rich toward God” (v.21).

It is interesting to compare the rendering of the English Standard Version which renders the text, “One pretends to be rich (emp. mine, L.M.), yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth” (Prov. 13:7; likewise rendered in NAS, CSB, NET, NIV, NRS).

This makes for an interesting word study. The NET textual note on the phrase pretends to be rich, states, “The Hitpael of עָשַׁר (’ashar, ‘to be rich’) means ‘to pretend to be rich’ (BDB 799 s.v. עָשַׁר Hithp); this is the so-called ‘Hollywood Hitpael’ (emp. mine, L.M.) function which involves “acting” or pretending to be something one is not.”

Hollywood Hitpael. That was a new one on me, but it makes sense. The world of Hollywood is a pretend world. Bearing this in mind may help us to pursue what is real and substantive: the Word of God, and being in right relationship with Him!

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