Through desire a man, having separated himself - The original is difficult and obscure. The Vulgate, Septuagint, and Arabic, read as follows: "He who wishes to break with his friend, and seeks occasions or pretenses shall at all times be worthy of blame."
My old MS. Bible translates, Occasioun seeketh that wil go awei fro a freend: at al tyme he schal ben wariable.
Coverdale thus: "Who so hath pleasure to sowe discorde, piketh a quarrel in every thinge."
Bible by Barker, 1615: "Fro the desire thereof he will separate himself to seeke it, and occupie himself in all wisdome." Which has in the margin the following note: "He that loveth wisdom will separate himself from all impediments, and give himself wholly to seek it."
The Hebrew: יתגלע תושיה בכל נפרד יבקש לתאוה lethaavah yebakkesh niphrad, bechol tushiyah yithgalla . The nearest translation to the words is perhaps the following: "He who is separated shall seek the desired thing, (i.e., the object of his desire), and shall intermeddle (mingle himself) with all realities or all essential knowledge." He finds that he can make little progress in the investigation of Divine and natural things, if he have much to do with secular or trifliing matters: he therefore separates himself as well from unprofitable pursuits as from frivolous company, and then enters into the spirit of his pursuit; is not satisfied with superficial observances, but examines the substance and essence, as far as possible, of those things which have been the objects of his desire. This appears to me the best meaning: the reader may judge for himself.
The text and the marginal readings indicate the two chief constructions of this somewhat difficult verse. Other renderings are
(1) He who separateth himself from others seeks his own desire, and rushes forward against all wise counsel: a warning against self-will and the self-assertion which exults in differing from the received customs and opinions of mankind.
(2) he who separates himself (from the foolish, unlearned multitude) seeks his own desire (that which is worthy to be desired), and mingleth himself with all wisdom. So the Jewish commentators generally.
Between (1) blaming and (2) commending the life of isolation, the decision must be that (1) is most in harmony with the temper of the Book of Proverbs; but it is not strange that Pharisaism, in its very name, separating and self-exalting, should have adopted (2).