Last Sunday, our pastor preached on this passage (among others). As I was scrambling to keep up in my Readers Hebrew Bible, I realized that the translation that he read was not even close to what I had in my Hebrew Bible. He read something like this: ‘Wealth obtained by fraud dwindles, but the one who gathers by labor increases it’ (NASB). A look at several different translations show the struggle to understand this verse:

NRSV – Wealth hastily gotten will dwindle, but those who gather little by little will increase it. 

NET – Wealth gained quickly will dwindle away, but the one who gathers it little by little37 will become rich.

NIV – Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow.

ESV – Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.

NASB – Wealth obtained by fraud dwindles, but the one who gathers by labor increases it.

JPS – Wealth may dwindle to less than nothing, but he who gathers little by little increases it.

The Hebrew, however reads: הון מהבל ימעט וקבץ על־יד ירבה. Translated as literally as possible this reads: (more…)