Keil and Delitzsch OT Commentary
The words of Agur the son of Jakeh, even the prophecy: the man spake unto Ithiel, even unto Ithiel and Ucal,The title of this first appendix, according to the text lying before us, is:
"The words of Agur the son of Jakeh, the utterance."
This title of the following collection of proverbs is limited by Olewejored; and המּשּׂא, separated from the author's name by Rebia, is interpreted as a second inscription, standing on one line with דּברי, as particularizing that first. The old synagogue tradition which, on the ground of the general title Proverbs 1:1, regarded the whole Book of Proverbs as the work of Solomon, interpreted the words, "Agur the son of Jakeh," as an allegorical designation of Solomon, who appropriated the words of the Tôra to the king, Deuteronomy 17:17, and again rejected them, for he said: God is with me, and I shall not do it (viz., take many wives, without thereby suffering injury), Schemth rabba, c. 6. The translation of Jerome: Verba congregantis filii Vomentis, is the echo of this Jewish interpretation. One would suppose that if "Agur" were Solomon's name, "Jakeh" must be that of David; but another interpretation in Midrash Mishle renders בן ("son") as the designation of the bearer of a quality, and sees in "Agur" one who girded (אגר equals חגר) his loins for wisdom; and in "son of Jakeh" one free from sin (חטא ועון נקי מכל). In the Middle Ages this mode of interpretation, which is historically and linguistically absurd, first began to prevail; for then the view was expressed by several (Aben Ezra, and Meri the Spaniard) that Agur ben Jakeh was a wise man of the time of Solomon. That of Solomon's time, they thence conclude (blind to Proverbs 25:1) that Solomon collected together these proverbs of the otherwise unknown wise man. In truth, the age of the man must remain undecided; and at all events, the time of Hezekiah is the fixed period from which, where possible, it is to be sought. The name "Agur" means the gathered (Proverbs 6:8; Proverbs 10:5), or, after the predominant meaning of the Arab. âjar, the bribed, mercede conductum; also the collector (cf. יקוּשׁ, fowler); or the word might mean, perhaps, industrious in collecting (cf. 'alwaḳ, attached to, and other examples in Mhlau, p. 36). Regarding בּן equals binj (usual in בּן־נּוּן), and its relation to the Arab. ibn, vid., Genesis, p. 555. The name Jakeh is more transparent. The noun יקהה, Proverbs 30:17; Genesis 49:10, means the obedient, from the verb יקהּ; but, formed from this verbal stem, the form of the word would be יקהּ (not יקה). The form יקה is the participial adj. from יקה, like יפה from יפה; and the Arab. waḳay, corresponding to this יקה, viii. ittaḳay, to be on one's guard, particularly before God; the usual word fore piety regarded as εὐλάβεια. Mhlau (p. 37) rightly sees in the proper names Eltekeh [Joshua 19:44] and Eltekon [Joshua 15:59] the secondary verbal stem תּקה, which, like e.g., תּוה (תּאה), תּאב, עתד, has originated from the reflexive, which in these proper names, supposing that אל is subj., means to take under protection; not: to give heed equals cavere. All these meanings are closely connected. In all these three forms - יקהּ, יקה, תּקה - the verb is a synonym of שׁמר; so that יקה denotes
(Note: According to the Lex. 'Gezer (from the Mesopotamian town of 'Geziret ibn 'Amr), the word wakihon is, in the Mesopotamian language, "the overseer of the house in which is the cross of the Christians;" and accordingly, in Muhammed's letter to the Christians of Negran, after they became subject to him, "a monk shall not be removed from his monastery, nor a presbyter from his presbyterate, (waḳâhtah) wala watah wakahyttah" (this will be the correct phrase), "nor an overseer from his office." The verbal stem waḳ-ah (יקהּ) is, as it appears, Northern Semitic; the South Arabian lexicographer Neshwan ignores it (Wetzstein in Mhlau).)
the pious, either as taking care, εὐλαβής, or as keeping, i.e., observing, viz., that which is commanded by God.
In consequence of the accentuation, המשּׂא is the second designation of this string of proverbs, and is parallel with דברי. But that is absolutely impossible. משּׂא (from נשׂא, to raise, viz., the voice, to begin to express) denotes the utterance, and according to the usage of the words before us, the divine utterance, the message of God revealed to the prophet and announced by him, for the most part, if not always (vid., at Isaiah 13:1), the message of God as the avenger. Accordingly Jewish interpreters (e.g., Meri and Arama) remark that משׂא designates what follows, as דבר נבוּאיּי, i.e., an utterance of the prophetic spirit. But, on the other hand, what follows begins with the confession of human weakness and short-sightedness; and, moreover, we read proverbs not of a divine but altogether of a human and even of a decaying spiritual stamp, besides distinguished from the Solomonic proverbs by this, that the I of the poet, which remains in the background, here comes to the front. This משׂא of prophetic utterances does not at all harmonize with the following string of proverbs. It does not so harmonize on this account, because one theme does not run through these proverbs which the sing. משׂא requires. It comes to this, that משׂא never occurs by itself in the sense of a divine, a solemn utterance, without having some more clearly defining addition, though it should be only a demonstrative הזּה (Isaiah 14:28). But what author, whether poet or prophet, would give to his work the title of משׂא, which in itself means everything, and thus nothing! And now: the utterance - what can the article at all mean here? This question has remained unanswered by every interpreter. Ewald also sees himself constrained to clothe the naked word; he does it by reading together המשׂא נאם, and translating the "sublime saying which he spoke." But apart from the consideration that Jeremiah 23:31 proves nothing for the use of this use of נאם, the form (הגבר) נאם is supported by 2 Samuel 23:1 (cf. Proverbs 30:5 with 2 Samuel 22:31); and besides, the omission of the אשׁר, and in addition of the relative pronoun (נאמו), would be an inaccuracy not at all to be expected on the brow of this gnomology (vid., Hitzig). If we leave the altogether unsuspected נאם undisturbed, המשׂא will be a nearer definition of the name of the author. The Midrash has a right suspicion, for it takes together Hamassa and Agur ben Jakeh, and explains: of Agur the son of Jakeh, who took upon himself the yoke of the most blessed. The Graecus Venetus comes nearer what is correct, for it translates: λόγοι Ἀγούρου υἱέως Ἰακέως τοῦ Μασάου. We connect Proverbs 31:1, where למוּאל מלך, "Lemuel (the) king," is a linguistic impossibility, and thus, according to the accentuation lying before us, מלך משּׂא also are to be connected together; thus it appears that משׂא must be the name of a country and a people. It was Hitzig who first made this Columbus-egg to stand. But this is the case only so far as he recognised in למואל מלך משׂא a Lemuel, the king of Massa, and recognised this Massa also in Proverbs 30:1 (vid., his dissertation: Das Knigreich Massa [the kingdom of Massa], in Zeller's Theolog. Jahrbb. 1844, and his Comm.), viz., the Israelitish Massa named in Genesis 25:14 ( equals 1 Chronicles 1:30) along with Dumah and Tema. But he proceeds in a hair-splitting way, and with ingenious hypothesis, without any valid foundation. That this Dumah is the Dumat el-jendel (cf. under Isaiah 21:11) lying in the north of Nejed, near the southern frontiers of Syria, the name and the founding of which is referred by the Arabians to Dm the son of Ishmael, must be regarded as possible, and consequently Massa is certainly to be sought in Northern Arabia. But if, on the ground of 1 Chronicles 4:42., he finds there a Simeonitic kingdom, and finds its origin in this, that the tribe of Simeon originally belonging to the ten tribes, and thus coming from the north settled in the south of Judah, and from thence in the days of Hezekiah, fleeing before the Assyrians, were driven farther and farther in a south-east direction towards Northern Arabia; on the contrary, it has been shown by Graf (The Tribe of Simeon, a contribution to the history of Israel, 1866) that Simeon never settled in the north of the Holy Land, and according to existing evidences extended their settlement from Negeb partly into the Idumean highlands, but not into the highlands of North Arabia. Hitzig thinks that there are found traces of the Massa of Agur and Lemuel in the Jewish town
(Note: Cf. Blau's Arab. im sechsten Jahrh. in the Deutsch. Morgl. Zeits. xxxiii. 590, and also p. 573 of the same, regarding a family of proselytes among the Jews in Taima.)
of טילמאס, of Benjamin of Tudela, lying three days' journey from Chebar, and in the proper name (Arab.) Malsā (smooth), which is given to a rock between Tema and Wady el-Kora (vid., Kosegarten's Chestom. p. 143); but how notched his ingenuity here is need scarcely be shown. By means of more cautious combinations Mhlau has placed the residence of Agur and Lemuel in the Hauran mountain range, near which there is a Dumah, likewise a Tm; and in the name of the town Mismje, lying in the Lej, is probably found the Mishma which is named along with Massa, Genesis 25:14; and from this that is related in 1 Chronicles 5:9., 1 Chronicles 5:18-22, of warlike expeditions on the part of the tribes lying on the east of the Jordan against the Hagarenes and their allies Jetur, Nephish, and Nodab,
(Note: Mhlau combines Nodab with Nudbe to the south-east of Bosra; Blau (Deut. Morg. Zeit. xxv. 566), with the Ναβδαῖοι of Eupolemos named along with the Ναβατοῖοι. The Kams has Nadab as the name of a tribe.)
it is with certainty concluded that in the Hauran, and in the wilderness which stretches behind the Euphrates towards it, Israelitish tribes have had their abode, whose territory had been early seized by the trans-Jordanic tribes, and was held "until the captivity," 1 Chronicles 5:22, i.e., till the Assyrian deportation. This designation of time is almost as unfavourable to Mhlau's theory of a Massa in the Hauran, inhabited by Israelitish tribes from the other side, as the expression "to Mount Seir" (1 Chronicles 4:42) is to Hitzig's North Arabian Massa inhabited by Simeonites. We must leave it undecided whether Dumah and Tm, which the Toledoth of Ismael name in the neighbourhood of Massa, are the east Hauran districts now existing; or as Blau (Deut. Morgl. Zeit. xxv. 539), with Hitzig, supposes, North Arabian districts (cf. Genesis. p. 377, 4th ed.).
(Note: Dozy (Israeliten in Mecca, p. 89f.) connects Massa with Mansh, a pretended old name of Mecca.)
"Be it as it may, the contents and the language of this difficult piece almost necessarily point to a region bordering on the Syro-Arabian waste. Ziegler's view (Neue Uebers. der Denksprche Salomo's, 1791, p. 29), that Lemuel was probably an emir of an Arabian tribe in the east of Jordan, and that a wise Hebrew translated those proverbs of the emir into Hebrew, is certainly untenable, but does not depart so far from the end as may appear at the first glance" (Mhlau).
(Note: These German quotations with the name of Mhlau are taken from the additions to his book, which he placed at my disposal.)
If the text-punctuation lying before us rests on the false supposition that Massa, Proverbs 30:1; Proverbs 31:1, is a generic name, and not a proper name, then certainly the question arises whether משׂא should not be used instead of משּׂא, much more משׂא, which is suggested as possible in the article "Sprche," in Herzog's Encycl. xiv. 694. Were משׁא, Genesis 10:30, the region Μεσήνη, on the northern border of the Persian Gulf, in which Apamea lay, then it might be said in favour of this, that as the histories of Muhammed and of Benjamin of Tudela prove the existence of an old Jewish occupation of North Arabia, but without anything being heard of a משּׂא, the Talmud bears testimony
(Note: Vid., Neubauer's Le Gographie du Talmud, pp. 325, 329, 382.)
to a Jewish occupation of Mesene, and particularly of Apamea; and by the mother of Lemuel, the king of Mesha, one may think
(Note: Derenbourg's Essai sur l'Hist. et la Gog. de la Palestine, i. p. 224.)
of Helena, celebrated in Jewish writings, queen of Adiabene, the mother of Monabaz and Izates. But the identity of the Mesha of the catalogue of nations with Μεσήνη is uncertain, and the Jewish population of that place dates at least from the time of the Sassanides to the period of the Babylonian exile. We therefore hold by the Ishmaelite Massa, whether North Arabian or Hauranian; but we by no means subscribe Mhlau's non possumus non negare, Agurum et Lemulem proseytos e paganis, non Israelitas fuisse. The religion of the tribes descended from Abraham, so far as it had not degenerated, was not to be regarded as idolatrous. It was the religion which exists to the present day among the great Ishmaelite tribes of the Syrian desert as the true tradition of their fathers under the name of Dn Ibrhm (Abraham's religion); which, as from Wetzstein, we have noted in the Commentary on Job (p. 387 and elsewhere), continues along with Mosaism among the nomadic tribes of the wilderness; which shortly before the appearance of Christianity in the country beyond the Jordan, produced doctrines coming into contact with the teachings of the gospel; which at that very time, according to historic evidences (e.g., Mjsin's chronicles of the Ka'be), was dominant even in the towns of Higz; and in the second century after Christ, was for the first time during the repeated migration of the South Arabians again oppressed by Greek idolatry, and was confined to the wilderness; which gave the mightiest impulse to the rise of Islam, and furnished its best component part; and which towards the end of the last century, in the country of Neged, pressed to a reform of Islam, and had as a result the Wahabite doctrine. If we except Proverbs 30:5., the proverbs of Agur and Lemuel contain nothing which may not be conceived from a non-Israelitish standpoint on which the author of the Book of Job placed himself. Even Job 30:5. is not there (cf. Job 6:10; Job 23:12) without parallels. When one compares Deuteronomy 4:2; Deuteronomy 13:1, and 2 Samuel 22:31 equals Psalm 18:31 (from which Proverbs 30:5 of the proverbs of Agur is derived, with the change of יהוה into אלוהּ), Agur certainly appears as one intimately acquainted with the revealed religion of Israel, and with their literature. But must we take the two Massites therefore, with Hitzig, Mhlau, and Zckler, as born Israelites? Since the Bible history knows no Israelitish king outside of the Holy Land, we regard it as more probable that King Lemuel and his countryman Agur were Ishmaelites who had raised themselves above the religion of Abraham, and recognised the religion of Israel as its completion.
If we now return to the words of Proverbs 30:1, Hitzig makes Agur Lemuel's brother, for he vocalizes אגוּר בּן־יקההּ משּׂא, i.e., Agur the son of her whom Massa obeys. Ripa and Bjrck of Sweden, and Stuart of America, adopt this view. But supposing that יקהּ is connected with the accusative of him who is obeyed, בן, as the representative of such an attributive clause, as of its virtual genitive, is elsewhere without example; and besides, it is unadvisable to explain away the proper name יקה, which speaks for itself. There are two other possibilities of comprehending המּשּׁא, without the change, or with the change of a single letter. Wetzstein, on Proverbs 31:1, has said regarding Mhlau's translation "King of Massa:" "I would more cautiously translate, 'King of the Massans,' since this interpretation is unobjectionable; while, on the contrary, this is not terra Massa, nor urbs Massa. It is true that the inhabitants of Massa were not pure nomads, after 30 and 31, but probably, like the other tribes of Israel, they were half nomads, who possessed no great land as exclusive property, and whose chief place did not perhaps bear their name. The latter may then have been as rare in ancient times as it is in the present day. Neither the Sammar, the Harb, the Muntefik, nor other half nomads whom I know in the southern parts of the Syrian desert, have any place which bears their name. So also, it appears, the people of Uz (עוץ), which we were constrained to think of as a dominant, firmly-settled race, since it had so great a husbandman as Job, possessed no קרית עוּץ. Only in certain cases, where a tribe resided for many centuries in and around a place, does the name of this tribe appear to have remained attached to it. Thus from גוּף דּוּמה, 'the low-country of the Dumahns,' or קרית דּוּמה, 'the city of Dumahns,' as also from קרית תּימא, 'the city of the Temans,' gradually there arose (probably not till the decline and fall of this tribe) a city of Dumah, a haven of Midian, and the like, so that the primary meaning of the name came to be lost." It is clear that, from the existence of an Ishmaelite tribe משּׂא, there does not necessarily follow a similar name given to a region. The conj. ממּשּׂא, for המשּׂא (vid., Herzog's Encycl. xiv. 702), has this against it, that although it is good Heb., it directly leads to this conclusion (e.g., 2 Samuel 23:20, 2 Samuel 23:29, cf. 1 Kings 17:1). Less objectionable is Bunsen's and Bttcher's המּשּׂאי. But perhaps המשׂא may also have the same signification; far rather at least this than that which Malbim, after השּׂר המשּׂא, 1 Chronicles 15:27, introduced with the lxx ἄρχων τῶν ᾠδῶν: "We ought then to compare 2 Samuel 23:24, דודו בּית לחם, a connection in which, after the analogy of such Arabic connections as ḳaysu'aylana, Kais of the tribe of 'Ailn (Ibn Coteiba, 13 and 83), or Ma'nu Ṭayyin, Ma'n of the tribe of Tay, i.e., Ma'n belonging to this tribe, as distinguished from other men and families of this name (Schol. Hamasae 144. 3), בית לחם is thought of as genit"
(Note: In 'העם וגו, Jeremiah 8:5, 'ירושׁ is though of as genit., although it may be also nom., after the scheme of apposition instead of annexion. That it is genit., cf. Philippi's St. Const. pp. 192-195.)
(Mhlau). That בית לחם (instead of בּית הלּחמי) is easily changed, with Thenius and Wellhausen, after 1 Chronicles 11:26, into מבּית לחם, and in itself it is not altogether homogeneous, because without the article. Yet it may be supposed that instead of משׂא, on account of the appelat. of the proper name (the lifting up, elatio), the word המשׂא might be also employed. And since בן־יקה, along with אגור, forms, as it were, one compositum, and does not at all destroy
(Note: We say, in Arab., without any anomaly, e.g., Alı̂ju-bnu-Muḥammadin Tajjin, i.e., the Ali son of Muhammed, of the tribe (from the tribe) of Tay; cf. Joshua 3:11; Isaiah 28:1; Isaiah 63:11; and Deuteronomy 3:13.)
the regulating force of אגור, the expression is certainly, after the Arabic usus loq., to be thus explained: The words of Agur the son of Jakeh, of the tribe (the country) of Massa.
The second line of this verse, as it is punctuated, is to be rendered:
The saying of the man to Ithel, to Ithel and Uchal,
not Ukkal; for, since Athias and van der Hooght, the incorrect form ואכּל has become current. J. H. Michaelis has the right form of the word ואכל. Thus, with כ raphatum, it is to be read after the Masora, for it adds to this word the remark לית וחסר, and counts it among the forty-eight words sometimes written defectively without ו (vid., this list in the Masora finalis, 27b, Col); and since it only remarks the absence of the letter lengthening the word where no dagesh follows the vocal, it thus supposes that the כ has no dagesh, as it is also found in Codd. (also Jaman.) written with the Raphe. לאיתיאל is doubly accentuated; the Tarcha represents the Metheg, after the rule Thorath Emeth, p. 11. The ל after נאם is, in the sense of the punctuation, the same dat. as in לאדני, Psalm 110:1, and has an apparent right in him who asks כּי תדע in the 4th verse. Ithel and Uchal must be, after an old opinion, sons, or disciples, or contemporaries, of Agur. Thus, e.g., Gesenius, in his Lex. under איתיאל, where as yet his reference to Nehemiah 11:7 is wanting. איתיאל is rendered by Jefet and other Karaites, "there is a God" equals איתי אל; but it is perhaps equivalent to אתּי אל, "God is with me;" as for אתּי rof sa ";e, the form איתי is also found. אכל (אכל) nowhere occurs as a proper name; but in the region of proper names, everything, or almost everything, is possible.
(Note: Vid., Wetzstein's Inschriften aus den Trachonen und dem Haurangebirge (1864), p. 336f.)
Ewald sees in 1b-14 a dialogue: in Proverbs 30:2-4 the הגּבר, i.e., as the word appears to him, the rich, haughty mocker, who has worn out his life, speaks; and in Proverbs 30:5-14 the "Mitmirgott" [ equals God with me], or, more fully, "Mitmirgott-sobinichstark" [ equals God with me, so am I strong], i.e., the pious, humble man answers. "The whole," he remarks, "is nothing but poetical; and it is poetical also that this discourse of mockery is called an elevated strain." But (1) גּבר is a harmless word; and in נאם הגּבר, Numbers 24:3, Numbers 24:15; 2 Samuel 23:1, it is a solemn, earnest one; (2) a proper name, consisting of two clauses connected by Vav, no matter whether it be an actual or a symbolical name, is not capable of being authenticated; Ewald, 274b, recognises in 'גּדּלתּי וגו, 1 Chronicles 25:4, the naming, not of one son of Heman, but of two; and (3) it would be a very forced, inferior poetry if the poet placed one half of the name in one line, and then, as if constrained to take a new breath, gave the other half of it in a second line. But, on the other hand, that איתיאל and אכל are the names of two different persons, to whom the address of the man is directed, is attested by the, in this case aimless, anadiplosis, the here unpoetical parallelism with reservation. The repetition, as Fleischer remarks, of the name Ithel, which may rank with Uchal, as the son or disciple of Agur, has probably its reason only as this, that one placed a second more extended phrase simply along with the shorter. The case is different; but Fleischer's supposition, that the poet himself cannot have thus written, is correct. We must not strike out either of the two לאיתיאל; but the supposed proper names must be changed as to their vocalization into a declaratory clause. A principal argument lies in Proverbs 30:2, beginning with כּי: this כי supposes a clause which it established; for, with right, Mhlau maintains that כי, in the affirmative sense, which, by means of aposiopesis, proceeds from the confirmative, may open the conclusion and enter as confirmatory into the middle of the discourse (e.g., Isaiah 32:13), but cannot stand abruptly at the commencement of a discourse (cf. under Isaiah 15:1 and Isaiah 7:9). But if we now ask how it is to be vocalized, there comes at the same time into the sphere of investigation the striking phrase נאם הגּבר. This phrase all the Greek interpreters attest by their rendering, τάδε λέγει ὁ ἀνήρ (Venet. φησὶν ἀνήρ); besides, this is to be brought forward from the wilderness of the old attempts at a translation, that the feeling of the translators strives against the recognition in ואכל of a second personal name: the Peshito omits it; the Targ. translates it, after the Midrash, by ואוּכל (I may do it); as Theodotion, καὶ δυνήσομαι, which is probably also meant by the καὶ συνήσομαι (from συνείναι, to be acquainted with) of the Venet.; the lxx with καὶ παύομαι; and Aquila, καὶ τέλεσον (both from the verb כלה). As an objection to נאם הגבר is this, that it is so bald without being followed, as at Numbers 24:3, Numbers 24:15; 2 Samuel 23:1, with the attributive description of the man. Luther was determined thereby to translate: discourse of the man Leithiel.... And why could not לאיתיאל be a proper-name connection like שׁאלתּיאל (שׁלתּיאל)? Interpreted in the sense of "I am troubled concerning God," is might be a symbolical name of the φιλόσοφος, as of one who strives after the knowledge of divine things with all his strength. But (1) לאה, with the accus. obj., is not established, and one is rather inclined to think of a name such as כּליתיאל, after Psalm 84:3; (2) moreover, לאיתיאל cannot be at one time a personal name, and at another time a declarative sentence - one must both times transform it into לאיתי אל; but אל has to be taken as a vocative, not as accus., as is done by J. D. Michaelis, Hitzig, Bunsen, Zckler, and others, thus: I have wearied myself, O God!... The nakedness of הגבר is accordingly not covered by the first Leithiel. Mhlau, in his work, seeks to introduce המשׂא changed into ממשׂא: "The man from Massa," and prefers to interpret הגבר generically:
(Note: Thus, viz., that הגבר denotes, not the man as he ought to be, but the man as he usually is (the article, as the Arabic grammarians say, "not for the exhaustion of the characteristic marks of the genus," but for the expression of "the quality mhje of the genus").)
"proverb (confession) of the man (i.e., the man must confess): I have wearied myself, O God!..." Nothing else in reality remains. The article may also be retrospective: the man just now named, whose "words" are announced, viz., Agur. But why was not the expression נאם אגור then used? Because it is not poetical to say: "the (previously named) man." On the other hand, what follows applies so that one may understand, under הגבר, any man you choose. There are certainly among men more than too many who inquire not after God (Psalm 14:2.). But there are also not wanting those who feel sorrowfully the distance between them and God. Agur introduces such a man as speaking, for he generalizes his own experience. Psalm 36:2 (vid., under this passage) shows that a proper name does not necessarily follow נאם. With נאם הגבר Agur then introduces what the man has to confess - viz. a man earnestly devoted to God; for with נאם the ideas of that which comes from the heart and the solemnly earnest are connected. If Agur so far generalizes his own experience, the passionate anadiplosis does not disturb this. After long contemplation of the man, he must finally confess: I have troubled myself, O God! I have troubled myself, O God!... That the trouble was directed toward God is perhaps denoted by the alliteration of לאיתי with אל. But what now, further? ואכל is read as ואכל, ואכל, ואכל, ואכל, ואכל, and it has also been read as ואכל. The reading ואכל no one advocates; this that follows says the direct contrary, et potui (pollui). Geiger (Urschrift, p. 61) supports the reading ואכל, for he renders it interrogatively: "I wearied myself in vain about God, I wearied myself in vain about God; why should I be able to do it?" But since one may twist any affirmative clause in this way, and from a yes make a no, one should only, in cases of extreme necessity, consent to such a question in the absence of an interrogative word. Bttcher's לאיתי אל, I have wearied myself out in vain, is not Hebrew. But at any rate the expression might be אל־אכל, if only the Vav did not stand between the words! If one might transpose the letters, then we might gain ולא אכל, according to which the lxx translates: οὐ δυνήσομαι. At all events, this despairing as to the consequence of further trouble, "I shall be able to do nothing (shall bring it to nothing)," would be better than ואכל (and I shall withdraw - become faint), for which, besides, ואכלה should be used (cf. Proverbs 22:8 with Job 33:21). One expects, after לאיתי, the expression of that which is the consequence of earnest and long-continued endeavour. Accordingly Hitzig reads ואכל, and I have become dull - suitable to the sense, but unsatisfactory on this account, because כּלל, in the sense of the Arab. kall, hebescere, is foreign to the Heb. usus loq. Thus ואכל will be a fut. consec. of כלה. J. D. Michaelis, and finally Bttcher, read it as fut. consec. Piel ואכל or ואכל (vid., regarding this form in pause under Proverbs 25:9), "and I have made an end;" but it is not appropriate to the inquirer here complaining, when dissatisfaction with his results had determined him to abandon his research, and let himself be no more troubled. We therefore prefer to read with Dahler, and, finally, with Mhlau and Zckler, ואכל, and I have withdrawn. The form understood by Hitzig as a pausal form is, in the unchangeableness of its vocals, as accordant with rule as those of יחד, Proverbs 27:17, which lengthen the a of their first syllables in pause. And if Hitzig objects that too much is said, for one of such meditation does not depart, we answer, that if the inquiry of the man who speaks here has completed itself by the longing of his spirit and his soul (Psalm 84:3; Psalm 143:7), he might also say of himself, in person, כליתי or ואכל. An inquiry proceeding not merely from intellectual, but, before all, from practical necessity, is meant - the doubled לאיתי means that he applied thereto the whole strength of his inner and his outer man; and ואכל, that he nevertheless did not reach his end, but wearied himself in vain. By this explanation which we give to 1a, no change of its accents is required; but 1b has to be written:
נאם הגּבר לאיתי אל
לאיתי אל ואכל
(Note: The Munach is the transformation of Mugrash, and this sequence of accents - Tarcha, Munach, Silluk - remains the same, whether we regard אל as the accusative or as the vocative.)
Surely I am more brutish than any man, and have not the understanding of a man.The כי now following confirms the fruitlessness of the long zealous search:
2 For I am without reason for a man,
And a man's understanding I have not.
3 And I have not learned wisdom,
That I may possess the knowledge of the All-Holy.
He who cannot come to any fixed state of consecration, inasmuch as he is always driven more and more back from the goal he aims at, thereby brings guilt upon himself as a sinner so great, that every other man stands above him, and he is deep under them all. So here Agur finds the reason why in divine things he has failed to attain unto satisfying intelligence, not in the ignorance and inability common to all men - he appears to himself as not a man at all, but as an irrational beast, and he misses in himself the understanding which a man properly might have and ought to have. The מן of מאישׁ is not the partitive, like Isaiah 44:11, not the usual comparative: than any one (Bttcher), which ought to be expressed by מכּל־אישׁ, but it is the negative, as Isaiah 52:14; Fleischer: rudior ego sum quam ut homo appeller, or: brutus ego, hominis non similis. Regarding בּער, vid., under Proverbs 12:1.
(Note: According to the Arab. בעיר is not a beast as grazing, but as dropping stercus (ba'r, camel's or sheep's droppings); to the R. בר, Mhlau rightly gives the meanings of separating, whence are derived the meanings of grazing as well as of removing (cleansing) (cf. Pers. thak karadn, to make clean equals to make clean house, tabula rasa).)
Proverbs 30:3 now says that he went into no school of wisdom, and for that reason in his wrestling after knowledge could attain to nothing, because the necessary conditions to this were wanting to him. But then the question arises: Why this complaint? He must first go to school in order to obtain, according to the word "To him who hath is given," that for which he strove. Thus למדתּי refers to learning in the midst of wrestling; but למד, spiritually understood, signifies the acquiring of a kennens [knowledge] or knnens [knowledge equals ability]: he has not brought it out from the deep point of his condition of knowledge to make wisdom his own, so that he cannot adjudge to himself knowledge of the all-holy God (for this knowledge is the kernel and the star of true wisdom). If we read 3b לא אדע, this would be synchronistic, nesciebam, with למדתי standing on the same line. On the contrary, the positive אדע subordinates itself to ולא־למדתי, as the Arab. fâa' lama, in the sense of (ita) ut scirem scientiam Sanctissimi, thus of a conclusion, like Lamentations 1:19, a clause expressive of the intention, Ewald, 347a. קדשׁים is, as at Proverbs 9:10, the name of God in a superlative sense, like the Arab. el-kuddûs.
I neither learned wisdom, nor have the knowledge of the holy.
Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, and what is his son's name, if thou canst tell?4 Who hath ascended to the heavens and descended?
Who hath grasped the wind in his fists?
Who hath bound up the waters in a garment?
Who hath set right all the ends of the earth?
What is his name, and what his son's name, if thou knowest?
The first question here, 'מי וגו, is limited by Pazer; עלה־שׁמים has Metheg in the third syllable before the tone. The second question is at least shut off by Pazer, but, contrary to the rule, that Pazer does not repeat itself in a verse; Cod. Erfurt. 2, and several older editions, have for בחפניו more correctly בחפניו with Rebia. So much for the interpunction. חפנים are properly not the two fists, for the fist - that is, the hand gathered into a ball, pugnus - is called אגרף; while, on the contrary, חפן (in all the three dialects) denotes the palm of the hand, vola (vid., Leviticus 16:12); yet here the hands are represented after they have seized the thing as shut, and thus certainly as fists. The dual points to the dualism of the streams of air produced by the disturbance of the equilibrium; he who rules this movement has, as it were, the north or east wind in one first, and the south or west wind in the other, to let it forth according to his pleasure from this prison (Isaiah 24:22). The third question is explained by Job 26:8; the שׂמלה (from שׂמל, comprehendere) is a figure of the clouds which contain the upper waters, as Job 38:37, the bottles of heaven. "All the ends of the earth" are as at five other places, e.g., Psalm 22:28, the most distant, most remote parts of the earth; the setting up of all these most remote boundaries (margines) of the earth is equivalent to the making fast and forming the limits to which the earth extends (Psalm 74:17), the determining of the compass of the earth and the form of its figures. כּי תדע is in symphony with Job 38:5, cf. Job 38:18. The question is here formed as it is there, when Jahve brings home to the consciousness of Job human weakness and ignorance. But there are here two possible significations of the fourfold question. Either it aims at the answer: No man, but a Being highly exalted above all creatures, so that the question מה־שּׁמו [what his name?] refers to the name of this Being. Or the question is primarily meant of men: What man has the ability? - if there is one, then name him! In both cases מי עלה is not meant, after Proverbs 24:28, in the modal sense, quis ascenderit, but as the following ויּרד requires, in the nearest indicative sense, quis ascendit. But the choice between these two possible interpretations is very difficult. The first question is historical: Who has gone to heaven and (as a consequence, then) come down from it again? It lies nearest thus to interpret it according to the consecutio temporum. By this interpretation, and this representation of the going up before the descending again, the interrogator does not appear to think of God, but in contrast to himself, to whom the divine is transcendent, of some other man of whom the contrary is true. Is there at all, he asks, a man who can comprehend and penetrate by his power and his knowledge the heavens and the earth, the air and the water, i.e., the nature and the inner condition of the visible and invisible world, the quantity and extent of the elements, and the like? Name to me this man, if thou knowest one, by his name, and designate him to me exactly by his family - I would turn to him to learn from him what I have hitherto striven in vain to find. But there is not such an one. Thus: as I fell myself limited in my knowledge, so there is not at all any man who can claim limitless knnen and kennen ability and knowledge. Thus casually Aben Ezra explains, and also Rashi, Arama, and others, but without holding fast to this in its purity; for in the interpretation of the question, "Who hath ascended?" the reference to Moses is mixed up with it, after the Midrash and Sohar (Parasha, ויקהל, to Exodus 35:1), to pass by other obscurities and difficulties introduced. Among the moderns, this explanation, according to which all aims at the answer, "there is no man to whom this appertains," has no exponent worth naming. And, indeed, as favourable as is the quis ascendit in coelos ac rursus descendit, so unfavourable is the quis constituit omnes terminos terrae, for this question appears not as implying that it asks after the man who has accomplished this; but the thought, according to all appearance, underlies it, that such an one must be a being without an equal, after whose name inquiry is made. One will then have to judge עלה and וירד after Genesis 28:12; the ascending and descending are compared to our German "auf und neider" up and down, for which we do not use the phrase "nieder und auf," and is the expression of free, expanded, unrestrained presence in both regions; perhaps, since וירד is historical, as Psalm 18:10, the speaker has the traditional origin of the creation in mind, according to which the earth arose into being earlier than the starry heavens above. Thus the four questions refer (as e.g., also Isaiah 40:12) to Him who has done and who does all that, to Him who is not Himself to be comprehended as His works are, and as He shows Himself in the greatness and wonderfulness of these, must be exalted above them all, and mysterious. If the inhabitant of the earth looks up to the blue heavens streaming in the golden sunlight, or sown with the stars of night; if he considers the interchange of the seasons, and feels the sudden rising of the wind; if he sees the upper waters clothed in fleecy clouds, and yet held fast within them floating over him; if he lets his eye sweep the horizon all around him to the ends of the earth, built up upon nothing in the open world-space (Job 26:7): the conclusion comes to him that he has before him in the whole the work of an everywhere present Being, of an all-wise omnipotent Worker - it is the Being whom he has just named as אל, the absolute Power, and as the קדשׁים, exalted above all created beings, with their troubles and limitations; but this knowledge gained vi causalitatis, vi eminentiae, and vi negationis, does not satisfy yet his spirit, and does not bring him so near to this Being as is to him a personal necessity, so that if he can in some measure answer the fourfold מי, yet there always presses upon him the question מה־שׁמו, what is his name, i.e., the name which dissolves the secret of this Being above all beings, and unfolds the mystery of the wonder above all wonders. That this Being must be a person the fourfold מי presupposes; but the question, "What is his name?" expresses the longing to know the name of this supernatural personality, not any kind of name which is given to him by men, but the name which covers him, which is the appropriate personal immediate expression of his being. The further question, "And what the name of his son?" denotes, according to Hitzig, that the inquirer strives after an adequate knowledge, such as one may have of a human being. But he would not have ventured this question if he did not suppose that God was not a monas unity who was without manifoldness in Himself. The lxx translates: ἣ τί ὄνομα τοῖς τέκνοις αὐτοῦ (בּנו), perhaps not without the influence of the old synagogue reference testified to in the Midrash and Sohar of בנו to Israel, God's first-born; but this interpretation is opposed to the spirit of this חידה (intricate speech, enigma). Also in general the interrogator cannot seek to know what man stands in this relation of a son to the Creator of all things, for that would be an ethical question which does not accord with this metaphysical one. Geier has combined this ומה־שׁם־בנו with viii.; and that the interrogator, if he meant the חכמה, ought to have used the phrase ומה־שׁם־בּתּו, says nothing against this, for also in אמון, Proverbs 8:30, whether it means foster-child or artifex, workmaster, the feminine determination disappears. Not Ewald alone finds here the idea of the Logos, as the first-born Son of God, revealing itself, on which at a later time the Palestinian doctrine of מימרא דיהוה imprinted itself in Alexandria;
(Note: Vid., Apologetik (1869), p. 432ff.)
but also J. D. Michaelis felt himself constrained to recognise here the N.T. doctrine of the Son of God announcing itself from afar. And why might not this be possible? The Rig-Veda contains two similar questions, x. 81, 4: "Which was the primeval forest, or what the tree from which one framed the heavens and the earth? Surely, ye wise men, ye ought in your souls to make inquiry whereon he stood when he raised the wind!" And i. 164, 4: "Who has seen the first-born? Where was the life, the blood, the soul of the world? Who came thither to ask this from any one who knew it?"
(Note: Cited by Lyra in Beweis des Glaubens Jahrg. 1869, p. 230. The second of these passages is thus translated by Wilson (Rig-Veda-Sanhit, London, 1854, vol. ii. p. 127): "Who has seen the primeval (being) at the time of his being born? What is that endowed with substance which the unsubstantial sustains? From earth are the breath and blood, but where is the soul? Who may repair to the sage to ask this?")
Jewish interpreters also interpret בנו of the causa media of the creation of the world. Arama, in his work עקדת יצחק, sect. xvi., suggests that by בנו we are to understand the primordial element, as the Sankhya-philosophy understands by the first-born there in the Rig, the Prakṛiti, i.e., the primeval material. R. Levi b. Gerson (Ralbag) comes nearer to the truth when he explains בנו as meaning the cause caused by the supreme cause, in other words: the principium principaiatum of the creation of the world. We say: the inquirer meant the demiurgic might which went forth from God, and which waited on the Son of God as a servant in the creation of the world; the same might which in chap. 8 is called Wisdom, and is described as God's beloved Son. But with the name after which inquiry is made, the relation is as with the "more excellent name than the angels," Hebrews 1:4.
(Note: The Comm. there remarks: It is the heavenly whole name of the highly exalted One, the שׁם המפורשׁ, nomen explicitum, which here on this side has entered into no human heart, and can be uttered by no human tongue, the ὄνομα ὁ οὑδεὶς οῖδεν εἰ μὴ ὁ αὐτός, Revelation 19:12.)
It is manifestly not the name בן, since the inquiry is made after the name of the בן; but the same is the case also with the name חכמה, or, since this does not harmonize, according to its grammatical gender, with the form of the question, the name דבר (מימר); but it is the name which belongs to the first and only-begotten Son of God, not merely according to creative analogies, but according to His true being. The inquirer would know God, the creator of the world, and His Son, the mediator in the creation of the world, according to their natures. If thou knowest, says he, turning himself to man, his equal, what the essential names of both are, tell them to me! But who can name them! The nature of the Godhead is hidden, as from the inquirer, so from every one else. On this side of eternity it is beyond the reach of human knowledge.
The solemn confession introduced by נאם is now closed. Ewald sees herein the discourse of a sceptical mocker at religion; and Elster, the discourse of a meditating doubter; in Proverbs 30:5, and on, the answer ought then to follow, which is given to one thus speaking: his withdrawal from the standpoint of faith in the revelation of God, and the challenge to subordinate his own speculative thinking to the authority of the word of God. But this interpretation of the statement depends on the symbolical rendering of the supposed personal names איתיאל and אכל, and, besides, the dialogue is indicated by nothing; the beginning of the answer ought to have been marked, like the beginning of that to which it is a reply. The confession, 1b-4, is not that of a man who does not find himself in the right condition, but such as one who is thirsting after God must renounce: the thought of a man does not penetrate to the essence of God (Job 11:7-9); even the ways of God remain inscrutable to man (Sir. 18:3; Romans 11:33); the Godhead remains, for our thought, in immeasurable height and depth; and though a relative knowledge of God is possible, yet the dogmatic thesis, Deum quidem cognoscimus, sed non comprehendimus, i.e., non perfecte cognoscimus quia est infinitus,
(Note: Vid., Luthardt's Kimpendium der Dogmatik, 27.)
even over against the positive revelation, remains unchanged. Thus nothing is wanting to make Proverbs 30:1-4 a complete whole; and what follows does not belong to that section as an organic part of it.
Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.5 Every word of Eloah is pure;
A shield is He for those who hide themselves in Him.
6 Add thou not to His words,
Lest He convict thee and thou becomest a liar.
Although the tetrastich is an independent proverb, yet it is connected to the foregoing Neûm [utterance, Proverbs 30:1]. The more limited a man is in his knowledge of God - viz. in that which presents itself to him lumine naturae, - so much the more thankful must he be that God has revealed Himself in history, and so much the more firmly has he to hold fast by the pure word of the divine revelation. In the dependent relation of Proverbs 30:5 to Psalm 18:31 (2 Samuel 22:31), and of Proverbs 30:6 to Deuteronomy 4:2, there is no doubt the self-testimony of God given to Israel, and recorded in the book of the Tôra, is here meant. כּל־אמרת is to be judged after πᾶσα γραφή, 2 Timothy 3:16, not: every declaration of God, wherever promulgated, but: every declaration within the revelation lying before us. The primary passage Psalm 18:31 has not כל here, but, instead of it, לכל החסים, and instead of אמרת אלוהּ it has יהוה 'אם; his change of the name of Jahve is also not favourable to the opinion that Proverbs 30:5. is a part of the Neûm, viz., that it is the answer thereto. The proverb in this contains traces of the Book of Job, with which in many respects that Neûm harmonizes; in the Book of Job, אלוהּ (with שׁדּי) is the prevailing name of God; whereas in the Book of Proverbs it occurs only in the passage before us. Mhlau, p. 41, notes it as an Arabism. צרף (Arab. ṣaraf, to turn, to change) is the usual word for the changing process of smelting; צרוּף signifies solid, pure, i.e., purified by separating: God's word is, without exception, like pure, massive gold. Regarding חסה, to hide oneself, vid., under Psalm 2:12;: God is a shield for those who make Him, as revealed in His word, their refuge. The part. חסה occurs, according to the Masora, three times written defectively, - Proverbs 14:32; 2 Samuel 22:31; Nehemiah 1:7; in the passage before us it is to be written לחוסים; the proverbs of Agur and Lemuel have frequently the plena scriptio of the part. act. Kal, as well as of the fut. Kal, common to the Book of Job (vid., Mhlau, p. 65).
In 6a, after Aben Ezra's Moznajim 2b (11b of Heidenheim's edition), and Zachoth 53a (cf. Lipmann's ed.), and other witnesses (vid., Norzi), t sp (the ף with dagesh) is to be written, - the Cod. Jaman. and others defect. without ו, - not tôsf; for, since תּוסף (Exodus 10:28) is yet further abbreviated in this way, it necessarily loses
(Note: That both Shevas in tôsp are quiesc., vid., Kimchi, Michlol 155 a b, who is finally decided as to this. That the word should be read tôspe'al is the opinion of Chagg in הנוח 'ס (regarding the quiesc. letters), p. 6 of the Ed. by Dukes-Ewald.)
the aspiration of the tenuis, as in ילדתּ ( equals ילדת). The words of God are the announcements of His holy will, measured by His wisdom; they are then to be accepted as they are, and to be recognised and obeyed. He who adds anything to them, either by an overstraining of them or by repressing them, will not escape the righteous judgment of God: God will convict him of falsifying His word (הוכיח, Psalm 50:21; only here with ב of the obj.), and expose him as a liar - viz. by the dispensations which unmask the falsifier as such, and make manifest the falsehood of his doctrines as dangerous to souls and destructive to society. An example of this is found in the kingdom of Israel, in the destruction of which the curse of the human institution of its state religion, set up by Jeroboam, had no little share. Also the Jewish traditional law, although in itself necessary for the carrying over of the law into the praxis of private and public life, falls under the Deuteron. prohibition - which the poet here repeats - so far as it claimed for itself the same divine authority as that of the written law, and so far as it hindered obedience to the law - by the straining-at-a-gnat policy - and was hostile to piety. Or, to adduce an example of an addition more dogmatic than legal, what a fearful impulse was given to fleshly security by that overstraining of the promises in Genesis 17, which were connected with circumcision by the tradition, "the circumcised come not into hell," or by the overstraining of the prerogative attributed by Paul, Romans 9:4., to his people according to the Scriptures, in the principle, "All Israelites have a part in the future world!" Regarding the accentuation of the perf. consec. after פּן, vid., at Psalm 28:1. The penultima accent is always in pausa (cf. Proverbs 30:9 and Proverbs 30:10).
Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.
Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die:In what now follows, the key-note struck in Proverbs 30:1 is continued. There follows a prayer to be kept in the truth, and to be preserved in the middle state, between poverty and riches. It is a Mashal-ode, vid., vol. i. p. 12. By the first prayer, "vanity and lies keep far from me," it is connected with the warning of Proverbs 30:6.
7 Two things I entreat from Thee,
Refuse them not to me before Idie.
8 Vanity and lies keep far away from me
Poverty and riches give me not:
Cause me to eat the bread which is allotted to me,
9 Lest in satiety Ideny,
And say: Who is Jahve?
And lest, in becoming poor, Isteal,
And profane the name of my God.
We begin with the settlement and explanation of the traditional punctuation. A monosyllable like שׁוא receives, if Legarmeh, always Mehuppach Legarmeh, while, on the contrary, the poly-syllable אשׂבּע has Asla Legarmeh. אל־תּתּן־לי, with double Makkeph and with Gaja in the third syllable before the tone (after the Metheg-Setzung, 28), is Ben-Asher's; whereas Ben-Naphtali prefers the punctuation אל־תּתּן לי (vid., Baer's Genesis, p. 79, note 3). Also פּן־אשׂבּע has (cf. פּן־ישׁתּה, Proverbs 31:5) Makkeph, and on the antepenultima Gaja (vid., Thorath Emeth, p. 32). The perf. consec. וכחשׁתּי has on the ult. the disjunctive Zinnor (Sarka), which always stands over the final letter; but that the ult. is also to be accented, is shown by the counter-tone Metheg, which is to be given to the first syllable. Also ואמרתּי has in correct Codd., e.g., Cod. 1294, the correct ultima toning of a perf. consec.; Kimchi in the Michlol 6b, as well as Aben Ezra in both of his Grammars, quotes only וגנבתּי ותפשׂתּי as toned on the penult. That וגנבתּי cannot be otherwise toned on account of the pausal accent, has been already remarked under 6b; the word, besides, belongs to the סף''פתתין בא, i.e., to those which preserve their Pathach unlengthened by one of the greater disjunctives; the Athnach has certainly in the three so-called metrical books only the disjunctive form of the Zakeph of the prose books. So much as to the form of the text.
As to its artistic form, this prayer presents itself to us as the first of the numerical proverbs, under the "Words" of Agur, who delighted in this form of proverb. The numerical proverb is a brief discourse, having a didactic end complete in itself, which by means of numerals gives prominence to that which it seeks to bring forward. There are two kinds of these. The more simple form places in the first place only one numeral, which is the sum of that which is to be brought forth separately: the numerical proverb of one cipher; to this class belong, keeping out of view the above prayer, which if it did not commence a series of numerical proverbs does not deserve this technical name on account of the low ciphers: Proverbs 30:24-28, with the cipher 4; Sir. 25:1 and 2, with the cipher 3. Similar to the above prayer are Job 13:20., Isaiah 51:19; but these are not numerical proverbs, for they are not proverbs. The more artistic kind of numerical proverb has two ciphers: the two-ciphered numerical proverb we call the sharpened (pointed) proverb. Of such two-ciphered numerical proverbs the "words" of Agur contain four, and the whole Book of Proverbs, reckoning Proverbs 6:16-19, five - this ascending numerical character belongs to the popular saying, 2 Kings 9:32; Job 33:29; Isaiah 16:6, and is found bearing the stamp of the artistic distich outside of the Book of Proverbs, Psalm 62:12; Job 33:14; Job 40:5; Job 5:19, and particularly Amos 1:3-2:6. According to this scheme, the introduction of Agur's prayer should be:
אחת שׁאלתּי מאתּך
וּשׁתּים אל־תּמנע ממּנּי בּטרם אמוּת
and it could take this form, for the prayer expresses two requests, but dwells exclusively on the second. A twofold request he presents to God, these two things he wishes to be assured of on this side of death; for of these he stands in need, so as to be able when he dies to look back on the life he has spent, without the reproaches of an accusing conscience. The first thing he asks is that God would keep far from him vanity and lying words. שׁוא ( equals שׁוא, from שׁוא equals שׁאה, to be waste, after the form מות) is either that which is confused, worthless, untrue, which comes to us from without (e.g., Job 31:5), or dissoluteness, hollowness, untruthfulness of disposition (e.g., Psalm 26:4); it is not to be decided whether the suppliant is influenced by the conception thus from within or from without, since דבר־כּזב [a word of falsehood] may be said by himself as well as to him, a falsehood can intrude itself upon him. It is almost more probable that by שׁוא he thought of the misleading power of God-estranged, idolatrous thought and action; and by דבר־כזב, of lying words, with which he might be brought into sympathy, and by which he might ruin himself and others. The second petition is that God would give him neither poverty (ראשׁ, vid., Proverbs 10:4) nor riches, but grant him for his sustenance only the bread of the portion destined for him. The Hiph. הטריף (from טרף, to grind, viz., the bread with the teeth) means to give
(Note: The Venet. translates, according to Villoison, θέρψον με; but the MS has, according to Gebhardt, θρέψον.)
anything, as טרף, with which, 31:15, נתן חק is parallel: to present a fixed piece, a definite portion of sustenance. חק, Genesis 47:22, the portion assigned as nourishment; cf. Job 23:14 חקּי, the decree determined regarding me. Accordingly, חקּי לחם does not mean the bread appropriately measured out for me (like ἄρτος ἐπιούσιος, that which is required for οὐσία, subsistence), but the bread appropriate for me, determined for me according to the divine plan. Fleischer compares (Arab.) ratab and marsaum, which both in a similar way designate a fixed sustentation portion. And why does he wish to be neither poor nor rich? Because in both extremes lie moral dangers: in riches, the temptation to deny God (which 'כּחשׁ בּה signifies, in the later Heb. כּפר בּעקּר, to deny the fundamental truth; cf. (Arab.) kafar, unbelieving), whom one flowing in superabundance forgets, and of whom one in his self-indulgence desires to know nothing (Job 21:14-16; Job 22:16.); in poverty, the temptation is to steal and to blaspheme the name of God, viz., by murmuring and disputing, or even by words of blasphemy; for one who is in despair directs the outbreaks of his anger against God (Isaiah 8:21), and curses Him as the cause of His misfortune (Revelation 16:11, Revelation 16:21). The question of godless haughtiness, מי יהוח, the lxx improperly change into מי יראה, τίς με ὁρᾶ. Regarding נורשׁ, to grow poor, or rather, since only the fut. Niph. occurs in this sense, regarding יוּרשׁ, vid., at Proverbs 20:13.
That the author here, by blaspheming (grasping at) the name of God, especially thinks on that which the Tôra calls "cursing (קלּל) God," and particularly "blaspheming the name of the Lord," Leviticus 24:15-16, is to be concluded from the two following proverbs, which begin with the catchword קלל:
Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me:
Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.
Accuse not a servant unto his master, lest he curse thee, and thou be found guilty.10 Calumniate not a servant with his master,
Lest he curse thee, and thou must atone for it.
Incorrectly Ewald: entice not a servant to slander against his master; and Hitzig: "Make not a servant tattle regarding his master." It is true that the Poel לושׁן (to pierce with the tongue, lingu petere) occurs twice in the sense of to calumniate; but that הלשׁין means nothing else, is attested by the post-bibl. Hebrew; the proverb regarding schismatics (בּרכּת המּינים) in the Jewish Schemone-Esre (prayer of the eighteen benedictions) began with ולמלשינים, "and to the calumniators" (delatoribus). Also in the Arab. âlsana signifies pertulit verba alicujus ad alterum, to make a babbler, rapporteur (Fleischer). That the word also here is not to be otherwise interpreted, is to be concluded from אל with the causative rendering. Rightly Symmachus, μὴ διαβάλῃς; Theodotion, μὴ καταλαλήσῃς; and according to the sense also, Jerome, ne accuses; the Venet. μὴ καταμηνύσῃς (give not him); on the contrary, Luther, verrate nicht [betray not], renders הלשׁין with the lxx, Syr. in the sense of the Aram. אשׁלם and the Arab. âslam (tradere, prodere). One should not secretly accuse (Psalm 101:5) a servant with his master, and in that lies the character of slander (לשׁון הרע) when one puts suspicion upon him, or exaggerates the actual facts, and generally makes the person suspected - one thereby makes a man, whose lot in itself is not a happy one, at length and perhaps for ever unhappy, and thereby he brings a curse on himself. But it is no matter of indifference to be the object of the curse of a man whom one has unrighteously and unjustly overwhelmed in misery: such a curse is not without its influence, for it does not fruitlessly invoke the righteous retribution of God, and thus one has sorrowfully to atone for the wanton sins of the tongue (veaschāmta, for ve-aschamtá as it is would be without pause).
There is a generation that curseth their father, and doth not bless their mother.There now follows a Priamel,
(Note: Cf. vol. i. p. 13. The name (from praeambulum) given to a peculiar form of popular gnomic poetry which prevailed in Germany from the 12th (e.g., the Meistersinger or Minstrel Sparvogel) to the 16th century, but was especially cultivated during the 14th and 15th centuries. Its peculiarity consisted in this, that after a series of antecedents or subjects, a briefly-expressed consequent or predicate was introduced as the epigrammatic point applicable to all these antecedents together. Vid., Erschenburg's Denkmlern altdeutscher Dichtkinst, Bremen 1799.)
the first line of which is, by יקלל, connected with the יקללך of the preceding distich:
11 A generation that curseth their father,
And doth not bless their mother;
12 A generation pure in their own eyes,
And yet not washed from their filthiness;
13 A generation - how haughty their eyes,
And their eyelids lift themselves up;
14 A generation whose teeth are swords and their jaw teeth knives
To devour the poor from the earth and the needy from the midst of men.
Ewald translates: O generation! but that would have required the word, 13a, הדּור (Jeremiah 2:31), and one would have expected to have found something mentioned which the generation addressed were to take heed to; but it is not so. But if "O generation!" should be equivalent to "O regarding the generation!" then הוי ought to have introduced the sentence. And if we translate, with Luther: There is a generation, etc., then ישׁ is supplied, which might drop out, but could not be omitted. The lxx inserts after ἔκγονον the word κακόν, and then renders what follows as pred. - a simple expedient, but worthless. The Venet. does not need this expedient, for it renders γενεὰ τὸν πατέρα αὐτοῦ βλασφημέσει; but then the order of the words in 11a would have been דור יקלל אביו; and in 12a, after the manner of a subst. clause, דור טהור בעיניו הוא, one sees distinctly, from Proverbs 30:13 and Proverbs 30:14, that what follows דור is to be understood, not as a pred., but as an attributive clause. As little can we interpret Proverbs 30:14, with Lwenstein, as pred. of the three subj., "it is a generation whose teeth are swords;" that would at least have required the words דור הוא; but Proverbs 30:14 is not at all a judgment valid for all the three subjects. The Targ. and Jerome translate correctly, as we above;
(Note: The Syr. begins 11a as if הוי were to be supplied.)
but by this rendering there are four subjects in the preamble, and the whole appears, since the common pred. is wanting, as a mutilated Priamel. Perhaps the author meant to say: it is such a generation that encompasses us; or: such is an abomination to Jahve; for דור is a Gesamtheit equals totality, generation of men who are bound together by contemporary existence, or homogeneity, or by both, but always a totality; so that these Proverbs 30:11-14, might describe quatuor detestabilia genera hominum (C. B. Michaelis), and yet one generatio, which divide among themselves these four vices, of blackest ingratitude, loathsome self-righteousness, arrogant presumption, and unmerciful covetousness. Similar is the description given in the Mishna Sota ix. 14, of the character of the age in which the Messiah appeared. "The appearance of this age," thus it concludes, "is like the appearance of a dog; a son is not ashamed before his father; to whom will we then look for help? To our Father in heaven!"
(Note: Cf. also Ali b. Abi Tleb's dark description, beginning with hadha alzman (this age), Zur allg. Char. der arab. Poesie (1870), p. 54f.)
The undutifulness of a child is here placed first. To curse one's parents is, after Exodus 21:17, cf. Proverbs 20:10, a crime worthy of death; "not to bless," is here, per litoten, of the same force as קלּל to curse. The second characteristic, Proverbs 30:12, is wicked blindness as to one's judgment of himself. The lxx coarsely, but not bad: τὴν δ ̓ ἔξοδον αὐτοῦ οὐκ ἀπένιψεν. Of such darkness one says: sordes suas putat olere cinnama. רחץ is not the abbreviated part. (Stuart), as e.g., Exodus 3:2, but the finite, as e.g., Hosea 1:6.
In 13a the attributive clause forms itself, so as to express the astonishing height of arrogance, into an exclamation: a generation, how lofty are their eyes (cf. e.g., Proverbs 6:17, עינים רמות)! to which, as usual, it is simply added: and his eyelids (palpebrae) lift themselves up; in Lat., the lifting up of the eyebrow as an expression of haughtiness is described by elatum (superbum) supercilium.
The fourth characteristic is insatiable covetousness, which does not spare even the poor, and preys upon them, the helpless and the defenceless: they devour them as one eats bread, Psalm 14:4. The teeth, as the instruments of eating, are compared to swords and knives, as at Psalm 57:4 to spears and arrows. With שׁנּיו there is interchanged, as at Job 29:17; Jonah 1:6, מתלּעתיו (not 'מת, as Norzi writes, contrary to Metheg-Setzung, 37, according to which Gaja, with the servant going before, is inadmissible), transposed from מלתּעתיו, Psalm 58:7, from לתע, to strike, pierce, bite. The designation of place, מארץ, "from the earth" (which also, in pausa, is not modified into מארץ), and מאדם, "from the midst of men," do not belong to the obj.: those who belong to the earth, to mankind (vid., Psalm 10:18), for thus interpreted they would be useless; but to the word of action: from the earth, out from the midst of men away, so that they disappear from thence (Amos 8:4). By means of fine but cobweb combinations, Hitzig finds Amalek in this fourfold proverb. But it is a portrait of the times, like Psalm 14:1-7, and certainly without any national stamp.
There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness.
There is a generation, O how lofty are their eyes! and their eyelids are lifted up.
There is a generation, whose teeth are as swords, and their jaw teeth as knives, to devour the poor from off the earth, and the needy from among men.
The horseleach hath two daughters, crying, Give, give. There are three things that are never satisfied, yea, four things say not, It is enough:With the characteristic of insatiableness Proverbs 30:11-14 closes, and there follows an apophthegma de quatuor insatiabilibus quae ideo comparantur cum sanguisuga (C. B. Michaelis). We translate the text here as it lies before us:
15 The ‛Alûka hath two daughters: Give! Give!
Three of these are never satisfied;
Four say not: Enough!
16 The under-world and the closing of the womb;
The earth is not satisfied with water;
And the fire saith not: Enough!
We begin with Masoretic externalities. The first ב in הב is Beth minusculum; probably it had accidentally this diminutive form in the original MSS, to which the Midrash (cf. Sepher Taghin ed. Bargs, 1866, p. 47) has added absurd conceits. This first הב has Pasek after it, which in this case is servant to the Olewejored going before, according to the rule Thorath Emeth, p. 24, here, as at Psalm 85:9, Mehuppach. The second הב, which of itself alone is the representative of Olewejored, has in Hutter, as in the Cod. Erfurt 2, and Cod. 2 of the Leipzig Public Library, the pausal punctuation הב (cf. קח, 1 Samuel 21:10), but which is not sufficiently attested. Instead of לא־אמרוּ, 15b, לא אמרוּ, and instead of לא־אמרה f, 16b, לא אמרה are to be written; the Zinnorith removes the Makkeph, according to Thorath Emeth, p. 9, Accentuationssystem, iv. 2. Instead of מים, 16a, only Jablonski, as Mhlau remarks, has מים; but incorrectly, since Athnach, after Olewejored, has no pausal force (vid., Thorath Emeth, p. 37). All that is without any weight as to the import of the words. But the punctuation affords some little service for the setting aside of a view of Rabbenu Tam (vid., Tosaphoth to Aboda zara 17a, and Erubin 19a), which has been lately advocated by Lwenstein. That view is, that ‛Alûka is the name of a wise man, not Solomon's, because the Pesikta does not reckon this among the names of Solomon, nor yet a name of hell, because it is not, in the Gemara, numbered among the names of Gehinnom. Thus לעלוּקה would be a superscription, like לדוד and לשׁלמה, Psalm 26:1; Psalm 72:1, provided with Asla Legarmeh. But this is not possible, for the Asla Legarmeh, at Psalm 26:1 and Psalm 72:1, is the transformation of Olewejored, inadmissible on the first word of the verse (Accentuationssystem, xix. 1); but no Olewejored can follow such an Asla Legarmeh, which has the force of an Olewejored, as after this לעלוקה, which the accentuation then does not regard as the author's name given as a superscription. עלוּקה is not the name of a person, and generally not a proper name, but a generic name of certain traditional signification. "One must drink no water" - says the Gemara Aboda zara 12b - "out of a river or pond, nor (immediately) with his mouth, nor by means of his hand; he who, nevertheless, does it, his blood comes on his own head, because of the danger. What danger? סכּנת עלוּקה," i.e., the danger of swallowing a leech. The Aram. also designates a leech by עלוּקא (cf. e.g., Targ. Psalm 12:9: hence the godless walk about like the leech, which sucks the blood of men), and the Arab. by 'alaḳ (n. unit. 'alaḳat), as the word is also rendered here by the Aram. and Arab. translators. Accordingly, all the Greeks render it by βδέλλη; Jerome, by sanguisuga (Rashi, sangsue); also Luther's Eigel is not the Igel erinaceus [hedgehog], but the Egel, i.e., as we now designate it, the Blutegel [leech], or (less correctly) Blutigel. עלוּקה is the fem. of the adj. עלוּק, attached to, which meaning, together with the whole verbal stem, the Arab. has preserved (vid., Mhlau's Mittheilung des Art. 'aluka aus dem Kamus, p. 42).
(Note: Nldeke has remarked, with reference to Mhlau's Monographie, that ‛aluḳa, in the sense of tenacious (tenax), is also found in Syr. (Geopon. xiii. 9, xli. 26), and that generally the stem עלק, to cleave, to adhere, is more common in Aram. than one would suppose. But this, however common in Arab., is by no means so in Syr.; and one may affirm that, among other Arabisms found in the Proverbs of Agur, the word ‛Alûka has decidedly an Arab. sound.)
But if, now, the ‛Alûka is the leech,
(Note: In Sanscrit the leech is called galaukas (masc.) or galaukâ (fem.), i.e., the inhabitant of the water (from gala, water, and ôkas, dwelling). Ewald regards this as a transformation of the Semitic name.)
which are then its two daughters, to which is here given the name הב הב, and which at the same time have this cry of desire in their mouths? Grotius and others understand, by the two daughters of the leech, the two branches of its tongue; more correctly: the double-membered overlip of its sucker. C. B. Michaelis thinks that the greedy cry, "Give! Give!" is personified: voces istae concipiuntur ut hirudinis filiae, quas ex se gignat et velut mater sobolem impense diligat. But since this does not satisfy, symbolical interpretations of ‛Aluka have been resorted to. The Talmud, Aboda zara 17a, regards it as a name of hell. In this sense it is used in the language of the Pijut (synagogue poetry).
(Note: So says e.g., Salomo ha-Babli, in a Zulath of the first Chanukka-Sabbats (beginning אין צוּר חלף): יקדוּ כּהבהבי עלק, they burn like the flames of hell.)
If ‛Alûka is hell, then fancy has the widest room for finding an answer to the question, What are the two daughters? The Talmud supposes that רשׁות (the worldly domination) and מינות (heresy) are meant. The Church-fathers also, understanding by ‛Alûka the power of the devil, expatiated in such interpretations. Of the same character are Calmet's interpretation, that sanguisuga is a figure of the mala cupiditas, and its twin-daughters are avaritia and ambitio. The truth lying in all these is this, that here there must be some kind of symbol. But if the poet meant, by the two daughters of the ‛Alûka, two beings or things which he does not name, then he kept the best of his symbol to himself. And could he use ‛Alûka, this common name for the leech, without further intimation, in any kind of symbolical sense? The most of modern interpreters do nothing to promote the understanding of the word, for they suppose that ‛Alûka, from its nearest signification, denotes a demoniacal spirit of the character of a vampire, like the Dakin of the Indians, which nourish themselves on human flesh; the ghouls of the Arabs and Persians, which inhabit graveyards, and kill and eat men, particularly wanderers in the desert; in regard to which it is to be remarked, that (Arab.) ‛awlaḳ is indeed a name for a demon, and that al‛aluwaḳ, according to the Kamus, is used in the sense of alghwal. Thus Dathe, Dderlein, Ziegler, Umbreit; thus also Hitzig, Ewald, and others. Mhlau, while he concurs in this understanding of the word, and now throwing open the question, Which, then, are the two daughters of the demoness ‛Alûka? finds no answer to it in the proverb itself, and therefore accepts of the view of Ewald, since 15b-16, taken by themselves, form a fully completed whole, that the line 'לעלוקה וגו is the beginning of a numerical proverb, the end of which is wanting. We acknowledge, because of the obscurity - not possibly aimed at by the author himself - in which the two daughters remain, the fragmentary characters of the proverb of the ‛Alûka; Stuart also does this, for he regards it as brought out of a connection in which it was intelligible - but we believe that the line 'שׁלושׁ וגו is an original formal part of this proverb. For the proverb forming, according to Mhlau's judgment, a whole rounded off:
שׁלושׁ הנה לא תשׂבענה
ארבע לא אמרו הון
שׁאול ועצר רחם
ארץ לא שׂבעה מים
ואשׁ לא אמרה הון
contains a mark which makes the original combination of these five lines improbable. Always where the third is exceeded by the fourth, the step from the third to the fourth is taken by the connecting Vav: Proverbs 30:18, וארבע; Proverbs 30:21, ותחת ארבע; Proverbs 30:29, וארבעה. We therefore conclude that 'ארבע לא וגו is the original commencement of independent proverb. This proverb is:
Four things say not: Enough!
The under-world and the closing of the womb [i.e., unfruitful womb] -
The earth is not satisfied with water,
And the fire says not: Enough!
a tetrastich more acceptable and appropriate than the Arab. proverb (Freytag, Provv. iii. p. 61, No. 347): "three things are not satisfied by three: the womb, and wood by fire, and the earth by rain;" and, on the other hand, it is remarkable to find it thus clothed in the Indian language,
(Note: That not only natural productions, but also ideas and literary productions (words, proverbs, knowledge), were conveyed from the Indians to the Semites, and from the Semites to the Indians, on the great highways by sea and land, is a fact abundantly verified. There is not in this, however, any means of determining the situation of Massa.)
as given in the Hitopadesa (p. 67 of Lassen's ed.), and in Pantschatantra, i. 153 (ed. of Kosegarten):
nâgnis tṛpjati kâshṭhânân nâpagânân mahôdadhih
nântakah sarvabhûtânân na punsân vâmalocanâh.
Fire is not sated with wood, nor the ocean with the streams,
Nor death with all the living, nor the beautiful-eyed with men.
As in the proverb of Agur the 4 falls into 2 + 2, so also in this Indian sloka. In both, fire and the realm of death (ântaka is death as the personified "end-maker") correspond; and as there the womb and the earth, so here feminarium cupiditas and the ocean. The parallelizing of ארץ and רחם is after passages such as Psalm 139:15; Job 1:21 (cf. also Proverbs 5:16; Numbers 24:7; Isaiah 48:1); that of שׁאול and אשׁ is to be judged of
(Note: The parallelizing of רחם and שׁאול, Berachoth 15b, is not directly aimed at by the poet.)
after passages such as Deuteronomy 32:22, Isaiah 56:1-12 :24. That לא אמרו הון repeats itself in לא אמרה הון is now, as we render the proverb independently, much more satisfactory than if it began with 'שׁלושׁ וגו: it rounds itself off, for the end returns into the beginning. Regarding הון, vid., Proverbs 1:13. From הוּן, to be light, it signifies living lightly; ease, superabundance, in that which renders life light or easy. "Used accusatively, and as an exclamation, it is equivalent to plenty! enough! It is used in the same sense in the North African Arab. brrakat (spreading out, fulness). Wetzstein remarks that in Damascus lahôn i.e., hitherto, is used in the sense of ḥajah, enough; and that, accordingly, we may attempt to explain הון of our Heb. language in the sense of (Arab.) hawn haddah, i.e., here the end of it!" (Mhlau).
But what do we now make of the two remaining lines of the proverb of the ‛Alûka? The proverb also in this division of two lines is a fragment. Ewald completes it, for to the one line, of which, according to his view, the fragment consists, he adds two:
The bloodsucker has two daughters, "Hither! hither!"
Three saying, "Hither, hither, hither the blood,
The blood of the wicked child."
A proverb of this kind may stand in the O.T. alone: it sounds as if quoted from Grimm's Mhrchen, and is a side-piece to Zappert's altdeutsch. Schlummerliede. Cannot the mutilation of the proverb be rectified in a less violent way without any self-made addition? If this is the case, that in Proverbs 30:15 and Proverbs 30:16, which now form one proverb, there are two melted together, only the first of which lies before us in a confused form, then this phenomenon is explained by supposing that the proverb of the ‛Alûka originally stood in this form:
The ‛Alûka has two daughters: Give! give! -
The under-world and the closing of the womb;
There are three that are never satisfied.
Thus completed, this tristich presents itself as the original side-piece of the lost tetrastich, beginning with ארבע. One might suppose that if שׁאול and עצר רחם have to be regarded as the daughters of the ‛Alûka, which Hitzig and also Zckler have recognised, then there exists no reason for dividing the one proverb into two. Yet the taking of them as separate is necessary, for this reason, because in the fourth, into which it expands, the ‛Alûka is altogether left out of account. But in the above tristich it is taken into account, as was to be expected, as the mother with her children. This, that sheol (שׁאול is for the most part fem.), and the womb (רחם equals רחם, which is fem., Jeremiah 20:17) to which conception is denied, are called, on account of their greediness, the daughters of the ‛Alûka, is to be understood in the same way as when a mountain height is called, Isaiah 5:1, a horn of the son of oil. In the Arab., which is inexhaustibly rich in such figurative names, a man is called "a son of the clay (limi);" a thief, "a son of the night;" a nettle, "the daughter of fire." The under-world and a closed womb have the ‛Alûka nature; they are insatiable, like the leech. It is unnecessary to interpret, as Zckler at last does, ‛Alûka as the name of a female demon, and the לילית, "daughters," as her companions. It may be adduced in favour of this view that לעלוּקה is without the article, after the manner of a proper name. But is it really without the article? Such a doubtful case we had before us at Proverbs 27:23. As yet only Bttcher, 394, has entered on this difficulty of punctuation. We compare Genesis 29:27, בּעבדה; 1 Kings 12:32, לעגלים; 1 Chronicles 13:7, בּעגלה; and consequently also Psalm 146:7, לעשׁוּקים; thus the assimilating force of the Chateph appears here to have changed the syntactically required ל and בּ into ל and בּ. But also supposing that עלוּקה in לעלוּקה is treated as a proper name, this is explained from the circumstance that the leech is not meant here in the natural history sense of the word, but as embodied greediness, and is made a person, one individual being. Also the symbol of the two daughters is opposed to the mythological character of the ‛Alûka. The imper. הב, from יהב, occurs only here and at Daniel 7:17 ( equals תּן), and in the bibl. Heb. only with the intentional āh, and in inflection forms. The insatiableness of sheol (Proverbs 27:20) is described by Isa; Isaiah 5:14; and Rachel, Genesis 30:1, with her "Give me children," is an example of the greediness of the "closed-up womb" (Genesis 20:18). The womb of a childless wife is meant, which, because she would have children, the nuptiae never satisfy; or also of one who, because she does not fear to become pregnant, invites to her many men, and always burns anew with lust. "In Arab. 'aluwaḳ means not only one fast bound to her husband, but, according to Wetzstein, in the whole of Syria and Palestine, the prostitute, as well as the κίναιδοι, are called 'ulak (plur. 'alwak), because they obtrude themselves and hold fast to their victim" (Mhlau). In the third line, the three: the leech, hell, and the shut womb, are summarized: tira sunt quae non satiantur. Thus it is to be translated with Fleischer, not with Mhlau and others, tira haec non satiantur. "These three" is expressed in Heb. by שׁלשׁ־אלּה, Exodus 21:11, or אלּה(ה) שׁלשׁת, 2 Samuel 21:22; הנּה (which, besides, does not signify haec, but illa) is here, taken correctly, the pred., and represents in general the verb of being (Isaiah 51:19), vid., at Proverbs 6:16. Zckler finds the point of the proverb in the greediness of the unfruitful womb, and is of opinion that the poet purposely somewhat concealed this point, and gave to his proverb thereby the enhanced attraction of the ingenious. But the tetrastich 'אברע וגו shows that hell, which is compared to fire, and the unfruitful womb, to which the parched and thirsty earth is compared, were placed by the poet on one and the same line; it is otherwise with Proverbs 30:18-20, but where that point is nothing less than concealed.
The grave; and the barren womb; the earth that is not filled with water; and the fire that saith not, It is enough.
The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it.The proverb of the ‛Alûka is the first of the proverbs founded on the figure of an animal among the "words" of Agur. It is now followed by another of a similar character:
17 An eye that mocketh at his father,
And despiseth obedience to his mother:
The ravens of the brook shall pluck it out,
And the young eagles shall eat it.
If "an eye," and not "eyes," are spoken of here, this is accounted for by the consideration that the duality of the organ falls back against the unity of the mental activity and mental expression which it serves (cf. Psychol. p. 234). As haughtiness reveals itself (Proverbs 30:13) in the action of the eyes, so is the eye also the mirror of humble subordination, and also of malicious scorn which refuses reverence and subjection to father and mother. As in German the verbs [verspotten, spotten, hhnen, hohnsprechen signifying to mock at or scorn may be used with the accus., genit., or dat., so also לעג [to deride] and בּוּז [to despise] may be connected at pleasure with either an accusative object or a dative object. Ben-Chajim, Athias, van der Hooght, and others write תּלעג; Jablonski, Michaelis, Lwenstein, תּלעג, Mhlau, with Norzi, accurately, תּלעג, with Munach, like תּבחר, Psalm 65:5; the writing of Ben-Asher
(Note: The Gaja has its reason in the Zinnor that follows, and the Munach in the syllable beginning with a moveable Sheva; תּלעג with Scheva quiesc. must, according to rule, receive Mercha, vid., Thorath Emeth, p. 26.)
is תּלעג, with Gaja, Chateph, and Munach. The punctuation of ליקהת is more fluctuating. The word לקהת (e.g., Cod. Jaman.) may remain out of view, for the Dag. dirimens in ק stands here as firmly as at Genesis 49:10, cf. Psalm 45:10. But it is a question whether one has to write ליקּהת with Yod quiesc. (regarding this form of writing, preferred by Ben-Naphtali, the Psalmen-Comm. under Psalm 45:10, in both Edd.; Luzzatto's Gramm. 193; Baer's Genesis, p. 84, note 2; and Heidenheim's Pentateuch, with the text-crit. Comm. of Jekuthil ha-Nakdans, under Genesis 47:17; Genesis 49:10), as it is found in Kimchi, Michlol 45a, and under יקה, and as also Norzi requires, or ליקּהת (as e.g., Cod. Erfurt 1), which appears to be the form adopted by Ben-Asher, for it is attested
(Note: Kimchi is here no authority, for he contradicts himself regarding such word-forms. Thus, regarding ויללת, Jeremiah 25:36, in Michlol 87b, and under ילל. The form also wavers between כּיתרון and כּיתרון, Ecclesiastes 2:13. The Cod. Jaman. has here the Jod always quiesc.)
as such by Jekuthil under Genesis 49:10, and also expressly as such by an old Masora-Cod. of the Erfurt Library. Lwenstein translates, "the weakness of the mother." Thus after Rashi, who refers the word to קהה, to draw together, and explains it, Genesis 49:10, "collection;" but in the passage before us, understands it of the wrinkles on the countenance of the aged mother. Nachmani (Ramban) goes still further, giving to the word, at Genesis 49:10, everywhere the meaning of weakness and frailty. Aben Ezra also, and Gersuni (Ralbag), do not go beyond the meaning of a drawing together; and the lxx, with the Aram., who all translate the word by senectus, have also קהה in the sense of to become dull, infirm (certainly not the Aethiopic leheḳa, to become old, weak through old age). But Kimchi, whom the Venet. and Luther
(Note: Jerome translates, et qui despicit partum matris suae. To partus there separates itself to him here the signification expectatio, Genesis 49:10, resting on a false combination with קוה. To think of pareo, parui, paritum (Mhlau), was not yet granted to him.)
follow, is informed by Abulwald, skilled in the Arab., of a better: יקהה (or יקּהה, cf. נצּרה, Psalm 141:3) is the Arab. wakhat, obedience (vid., above יקה under 1a). If now it is said of such a haughty, insolent eye, that the ravens of the brook (cf. 1 Kings 17:4) will pluck it out, and the בני־נשׁר eat it, they, the eagle's children, the unchildlike human eye: it is only the description of the fate that is before such an one, to die a violent death, and to become a prey to the fowls of heaven (cf. e.g., Jeremiah 16:3., and Passow's Lex. under κόραξ); and if this threatening is not always thus literally fulfilled, yet one has not on that account to render the future optatively, with Hitzig; this is a false conclusion, from a too literal interpretation, for the threatening is only to be understood after its spirit, viz., that a fearful and a dishonourable end will come to such an one. Instead of יקּרוּה, as Mhlau reads from the Leipzig Cod., יקרוה, with Mercha (Athias and Nissel have it with Tarcha), is to be read, for a word between Olewejored and Athnach must always contain a conjunctive accent (Thorath Emeth, p. 51; Accentuationssystem, xviii. 9). ערבי־נחל is also irregular, and instead of it ערבי־נחל is to be written, for the reason given above under Proverbs 30:16 (מים).
There be three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not:The following proverb, again a numerical proverb, begins with the eagle, mentioned in the last line of the foregoing:
18 Three things lie beyond me,
And four I understand not:
19 The way of the eagle in the heavens,
The way of a serpent over a rock,
The way of a ship on the high sea,
And the way of a man with a maid.
20 Thus is the way of the adulterous woman:
She eateth and wipeth her mouth, and saith:
I have done no iniquity.
נפלאוּ ממּנּי, as relative clause, like 15b (where Aquila, Symmachus, Theodotion rightly: τρία δέ ἐστιν ἃ οὐ πλησθήσεται), is joined to שׁלשׁה המּה. On the other hand, ארבע (τέσσαρα, for with the Kerı̂, conforming to 18a, ארבּעה, τέσσαρας) has to be interpreted as object. accus. The introduction of four things that are not known is in expressions like Job 42:3; cf. Psalm 139:6. The turning-point lies in the fourth; to that point the other three expressions gravitate, which have not an object in themselves, but are only as folie to the fourth. The articles wanting after הנּשׁר: they would be only the marks of the gender, and are therefore unnecessary; cf. under Proverbs 29:2. And while בּשּׁמים, in the heavens, and בלב־ים, in the sea, are the expressions used, עלי צוּר is used for on the rock, because here "on" is not at the same time "in," "within," as the eagle cleaves the air and the ship the waves. For this same reason the expression, "the way of a man בּעלמה," is not to be understood of love unsought, suddenly taking possession of and captivating a man toward this or that maid, so that the principal thought of the proverb may be compared to the saying, "marriages are made in heaven;" but, as in Kidduschin 2b, with reference to this passage, is said coitus via appellatur. The ב refers to copula carnalis. But in what respect did his understanding not reach to this? "Wonderful," thus Hitzig explains as the best interpreter of this opinion elsewhere (cf. Psychol. p. 115) propounded, "appeared to him the flying, and that how a large and thus heavy bird could raise itself so high in the air (Job 39:27); then how, over the smooth rock, which offers no hold, the serpent pushes itself along; finally, how the ship in the trackless waves, which present nothing to the eye as a guide, nevertheless finds its way. These three things have at the same time this in common, that they leave no trace of their pathway behind them. But of the fourth way that cannot be said; for the trace is left on the substrat, which the man דּרך, and it becomes manifest, possibly as pregnancy, keeping out of view that the עלמה may yet be בתולה. That which is wonderful is consequently only the coition itself, its mystical act and its incomprehensible consequences." But does not this interpretation carry in itself its own refutation? To the three wonderful ways which leave no traces behind them, there cannot be compared a fourth, the consequences of which are not only not trackless, but, on the contrary, become manifest as proceeding from the act in an incomprehensible way. The point of comparison is either the wonderfulness of the event or the tracklessness of its consequences. But now "the way of a man בתולה" is altogether inappropriate to designate the wonderful event of the origin of a human being. How altogether differently the Chokma expresses itself on this matter is seen from Job 10:8-12; Ecclesiastes 11:5 (cf. Psychol. p. 210). That "way of a man with a maid" denotes only the act of coition, which physiologically differs in nothing from that of the lower animals, and which in itself, in the externality of its accomplishment, the poet cannot possibly call something transcendent. And why did he use the word בעלמה, and not rather בּנקבה [with a female] or בּאשּׁה [id.]? For this reason, because he meant the act of coition, not as a physiological event, but as a historical occurrence, as it takes place particularly in youth as the goal of love, not always reached in the divinely-appointed way. The point of comparison hence is not the secret of conception, but the tracelessness of the carnal intercourse. Now it is also clear why the way of the serpent עלי צור was in his eye: among grass, and still more in sand, the trace of the serpent's path would perhaps be visible, but not on a hard stone, over which it has glided. And it is clear why it is said of the ship בלב־ים [in the heart of the sea]: while the ship is still in sight from the land, one knows the track it follows; but who can in the heart of the sea, i.e., on the high sea, say that here or there a ship has ploughed the water, since the water-furrows have long ago disappeared? Looking to the heavens, one cannot say that an eagle has passed there; to the rock, that a serpent has wound its way over it; to the high sea, that a ship has been steered through it; to the maid, that a man has had carnal intercourse with her. That the fact might appear on nearer investigation, although this will not always guide to a certain conclusion, is not kept in view; only the outward appearance is spoken of, the intentional concealment (Rashi) being in this case added thereto. Sins against the sixth [ equals seventh] commandment remain concealed from human knowledge, and are distinguished from others by this, that they shun human cognition (as the proverb says: אין אפיטרופוס לעריות, there is for sins of the flesh no ἐπίτροπος) - unchastity can mask itself, the marks of chastity are deceitful, here only the All-seeing Eye (עין ראה כּל, Aboth ii. 1) perceives that which is done. Yet it is not maintained that "the way of a man with a maid" refers exclusively to external intercourse; but altogether on this side the proverb gains ethical significance. Regarding עלמה (from עלם, pubes esse et caeundi cupidus, not from עלם, to conceal, and not, as Schultens derives it, from עלם, signare, to seal) as distinguished from בּתוּלה, vid., under Isaiah 7:14. The mark of maidenhood belongs to עלמה not in the same way as to בתולה (cf. Genesis 24:43 with 16), but only the marks of puberty and youth; the wife אשּׁה (viz., אושׁת אישׁ) cannot as such be called עלמה. Ralbag's gloss עלמה שׁהיא בעולה is incorrect, and in Arama's explanation (Akeda, Abschn. 9): the time is not to be determined when the sexual love of the husband to his wife flames out, ought to have been ודרך אישׁ בּאשׁתּו ne. One has therefore to suppose that Proverbs 30:20 explains what is meant by "the way of a man with a maid" by a strong example (for "the adulterous woman" can mean only an old adulteress), there not inclusive, for the tracklessness of sins of the flesh in their consequences.
This 20th verse does not appear to have been an original part of the numerical proverb, but is an appendix thereto (Hitzig). If we assume that כּן points forwards: thus as follows is it with the... (Fleischer), then we should hold this verse as an independent cognate proverb; but where is there a proverb (except Proverbs 11:19) that begins with כּן? כן, which may mean eodem modo (for one does not say כּן גּם) as well as eo modo, here points backwards in the former sense. Instead of וּמחתה פּיה (not פּיה; for the attraction of that which follows, brought about by the retrogression of the tone of the first word, requires dageshing, Thorath Emeth, p. 30) the lxx has merely ἀπονιψαμένη, i.e., as Immanuel explains: מקנּחה עצמה, abstergens semet ipsam, with Grotius, who to tergens os suum adds the remark: σεμνολογία (honesta elocutio). But eating is just a figure, like the "secret bread," Proverbs 9:17, and the wiping of the mouth belongs to this figure. This appendix, with its כן, confirms it, that the intention of the four ways refers to the tracklessness of the consequences.
The way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a maid.
Such is the way of an adulterous woman; she eateth, and wipeth her mouth, and saith, I have done no wickedness.
For three things the earth is disquieted, and for four which it cannot bear:It is now not at all necessary to rack one's brains over the grounds or the reasons of the arrangement of the following proverb (vid., Hitzig). There are, up to this point, two numerical proverbs which begin with שׁתּים, Proverbs 30:7, and שׁתּי, Proverbs 30:15; after the cipher 2 there then, Proverbs 30:18, followed the cipher 3, which is now here continued:
21 Under three things doth the earth tremble,
And under four can it not stand:
22 Under a servant when he becomes king,
And a profligate when he has bread enough;
23 Under an unloved woman when she is married,
And a maid-servant when she becomes heiress to her mistress.
We cannot say here that the 4 falls into 3 + 1; but the four consists of four ones standing beside one another. ארץ is here without pausal change, although the Athnach here, as at Proverbs 30:24, where the modification of sound occurs, divides the verse into two; מארץ, 14b (cf. Psalm 35:2), remains, on the other hand, correctly unchanged. The "earth" stands here, as frequently, instead of the inhabitants of the earth. It trembles when one of the four persons named above comes and gains free space for acting; it feels itself oppressed as by an insufferable burden (an expression similar to Amos 7:10); - the arrangement of society is shattered; an oppressive closeness of the air, as it were, settles over all minds. The first case is already designated, Proverbs 19:10, as improper: under a slave, when he comes to reign (quum rex fit); for suppose that such an one has reached the place of government, not by the murder of the king and by the robbery of the crown, but, as is possible in an elective monarchy, by means of the dominant party of the people, he will, as a rule, seek to indemnify himself in his present highness for his former lowliness, and in the measure of his rule show himself unable to rise above his servile habits, and to pass out of the limited circle of his earlier state. The second case is this: a נבל, one whose mind is perverted and whose conduct is profligate - in short, a low man (vid., Proverbs 17:17) - ישׂבּע־לחם (cf. Metheg-Setzung, 28), i.e., has enough to eat (cf. to the expression Proverbs 28:19; Jeremiah 44:17); for this undeserved living without care and without want makes him only so much the more arrogant, and troublesome, and dangerous. The שׂנוּאה, in the second case, is not thought of as a spouse, and that, as in supposed polygamy, Genesis 29:31; Deuteronomy 21:15-17, as fallen into disfavour, but who again comes to favour and honour (Dathe, Rosenmller); for she can be שׂנואה without her own fault, and as such she is yet no גּרוּשׁה; and it is not to be perceived why the re-assumption of such an one should shatter social order. Rightly Hitzig, and, after his example, Zckler: an unmarried lady, an old spinster, is meant, whom no one desired because she had nothing attractive, and was only repulsive (cf. Grimm, under Sir. 7:26b). If such an one, as כּי תבעל says, at length, however, finds her husband and enters into the married relation, then she carries her head so much the higher; for she gives vent to ill-humour, strengthened by long restraint, against her subordinates; then she richly requites her earlier and happily married companions for their depreciation of her, among whom she had to suffer, as able to find no one who would love her. In the last case it is asked whether כּי־תירשׁ is meant of inheriting as an heiress (Aquila, Symmachus, Theodotion, the Targ., Jerome, the Venet., and Luther), or supplanting (Euchel, Gesenius, Hitzig), i.e., an entering into the inheritance of the dead, or an entering into the place of a living mistress. Since ירשׁ, with the accus. of the person, Genesis 15:3-4, signifies to be the heir of one, and only with the accus. of peoples and lands signifies, "to take into possession (to seize) by supplanting," the former is to be preferred; the lxx (Syr.), ὅταν ἐκβάλῃ, appear to have read כּי־תגרשׁ. This גּרשׁ would certainly be, after Genesis 21:10, a piece of the world turned upside down; but also the entering, as heiress, into the inheritance, makes the maid-servant the reverse of that which she was before, and brings with it the danger that the heiress, notwithstanding her want of culture and dignity, demean herself also as heiress of the rank. Although the old Israelitish law knew only intestate succession to an inheritance, yet there also the case might arise, that where there were no natural or legal heirs, the bequest of a wife of rank passed over to her servants and nurses.
For a servant when he reigneth; and a fool when he is filled with meat;
For an odious woman when she is married; and an handmaid that is heir to her mistress.
There be four things which are little upon the earth, but they are exceeding wise:Another proverb with the cipher 4, its first line terminating in ארץ:
24 Four are the little things of the earth,
And yet they are quick of wit - wise:
25 The ants - a people not strong,
And yet they prepare in summer their food;
26 Conies - a people not mighty,
And yet set their dwelling on the rocks;
27 No king have the locusts,
And yet they go forth in rank and file, all of them together;
28 The lizard thou canst catch with the hands,
And yet it is in the king's palaces.
By the disjunctive accent, ארבּעה, in spite of the following word toned on the beginning, retains its ultima-toning, 18a; but here, by the conjunctive accent, the tone retrogrades to the penult., which does not elsewhere occur with this word. The connection קטנּי־ארץ is not superlat. (for it is impossible that the author could reckon the שׁפנים, conies, among the smallest of beasts), but, as in the expression נכבּדּי־ארץ, the honoured of the earth, Isaiah 23:8. In 24b, the lxx, Syr., Jerome, and Luther see in מ the comparative: σοφώτερα τῶν σοφῶν (מחכמים), but in this connection of words it could only be partitive (wise, reckoning among the wise); the part. Pual מחכּמים (Theodotion, the Venet. σεσοφισμένα) was in use after Psalm 88:6, and signified, like בּשׁל מבשּׁל, Exodus 12:9, boiled well; thus חכמים מחכמים, taught wit, wise, cunning, prudent (cf. Psalm 64:7, a planned plan equals a cunningly wrought out plan; Isaiah 28:16, and Vitringa thereto: grounded equals firm, grounding), Ewald, 313c. The reckoning moves in the contrasts of littleness to power, and of greatness to prudence. The unfolding of the ארבעה [four] begins with the הנּמלים [the ants] and שׁפנּים [conies], subject conceptions with apposit. joined; 26a, at least in the indetermination of the subject, cannot be a declaration. Regarding the fut. consec. as the expression, not of a causal, but of a contrasted connection, vid., Ewald, 342, 1a. The ants are called עם, and they deserve this name, for they truly form communities with well-ordered economy; but, besides, the ancients took delight in speaking of the various classes of animals as peoples and states.
(Note: Vid., Walter von der Vogelweide, edited by Lachmann, p. 8f.)
That which is said, 25b, as also Proverbs 6:8, is not to be understood of stores laid up for the winter. For the ants are torpid for the most part in winter; but certainly the summer is their time for labour, when the labourers gather together food, and feed in a truly motherly way the helpless. שׁפן, translated arbitrarily in the Venet. by ἐχῖνοι, in the lxx by χοιρογρύλλιοι, by the Syr. and Targ. here and at Psalm 104 by חגס, and by Jerome by lepusculus (cf. λαγίδιον), both of which names, here to be understood after a prevailing Jewish opinion, denote the Caninichen
(Note: The kaninchen as well as the klippdachs [cliff-badgers] may be meant, Leviticus 11:5 (Deuteronomy 14:7); neither of these belong to the bisulca, nor yet, it is true, to the ruminants, though to the ancients (as was the case also with hares) they seemed to do. The klippdach is still, in Egypt and Syria, regarded as unclean.)
(Luther), Latin cuniculus (κόνικλος), is not the kaninchen [rabbit], nor the marmot, χοιρογρύλλιος (C. B. Michaelis, Ziegler, and others); this is called in Arab. yarbuw'; but שׁפן is the wabr, which in South Arab. is called thufun, or rather thafan, viz., the klippdachs (hyrax syriacus), like the marmot, which lives in societies and dwells in the clefts of the mountains, e.g., at the Kedron, the Dead Sea, and at Sinai (vid., Knobel on Leviticus 11:5; cf. Brehm's Thierleben, ii. p. 721ff., the Illustrirte Zeitung, 1868, Nr. 1290). The klippdachs are a weak little people, and yet with their weakness they unite the wisdom that they establish themselves among the rocks. The ants show their wisdom in the organization of labour, here in the arranging of inaccessible dwellings.
The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer;
The conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks;
The locusts have no king, yet go they forth all of them by bands;Thirdly, the locusts belong to the class of the wise little folk: these have no king, but notwithstanding that, there is not wanting to them guidance; by the power and foresight of one sovereign will they march out as a body, חצץ, dividing, viz., themselves, not the booty (Schultens); thus: dividing themselves into companies, ordine dispositae, from חצץ, to divide, to fall into two (cogn. חצה, e.g., Genesis 32:7) or more parts; Mhlau, p. 59-64, has thoroughly investigated this whole wide range of roots. What this חצץ denotes is described in Joel 2:7 : "Like mighty men they hunt; like men of war they climb the walls; they march forward every one on his appointed way, and change not their paths." Jerome narrates from his own observation: tanto ordine ex dispositione jubentis (lxx at this passage before us: ἀφ ̓ ἑνὸς κελεύσματος εὐτάκτως) volitant, ut instar tesserularum, quae in pavimentis artificis figuntur manu, suum locum teneant et ne puncto quidem et ut ita dicam ungue transverso declinent ad alterum. Aben Ezra and others find in חצץ the idea of gathering together in a body, and in troops, according to which also the Syr., Targ., Jerome, and Luther translate; Kimchi and Meri gloss חצץ by חותך and כורת, and understand it of the cutting off, i.e., the eating up, of plants and trees, which the Venet. renders by ἐκτέμνουσα.
The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings' palaces.In this verse the expression wavers in a way that is with difficulty determinable between שׂממית and שׁממית. The Edd. of Opitz Jablonski and Van der Hooght have 'שׂם, but the most, from the Venetian 1521 to Nissel, have 'שׁם (vid., Mhlau, p. 69). The Codd. also differ as to the reading of the word; thus the Codd. Erfurt 2 and 3 have 'שׂם, but Cod. 1294 has 'שׁם. Isaak Tschelebi and Moses Algazi, in their writings regarding words with שׁ and שׂ (Constant. 1723 and 1799), prefer 'שׂם, and so also do Mordecai Nathan in his Concordance (1563-4), David de Pomis (1587), and Norzi. An important evidence is the writing סממית, Schabbath 77b, but it is as little decisive as סריון [coat of mail], used by Jeremiah 44:4, is decisive against the older expression שׁריון. But what kind of a beast is meant here is a question. The swallow is at once to be set aside, as the Venet. translates (χελιδών) after Kimchi, who explains after Abulwald, but not without including himself, that the Heb. word for (Arab.) khuttaf (which is still the name given to the swallow from its quickness of motion), according to Haja's testimony, is much rather סנוּנית, a name for the swallow; which also the Arab. (Freytag, ii. p. 368) and the modern Syriac confirm; besides, in old Heb. it has the name of סוּס or סיס (from Arab. shash, to fly confusedly hither and thither). In like manner the ape (Aben Ezra, Meri, Immanuel) is to be set aside, for this is called קוף (Indian kapi, kap, kamp, to move inconstantly and quickly up and down),
(Note: Vid., A Weber's Indische Studien, i. pp. 217, 343.)
and appears here admissible only on the ground that from בידים תתפשׂ they read that the beast had a resemblance to man. There remains now only the lizard (lxx, Jerome) and the spider (Luther) to be considered. The Talmud, Schabbath 77b, reckons five instances in which fear of the weaker pursues the stronger: one of these instances is אימת סנוניתעל הנשׁר, another אימת סממית על העקרב. The swallow, thus Rashi explains, creeps under the wings of the eagle and hinders it from spreading them out in its flight; and the spider (araigne) creeps into the ear of the scorpion; or also: a bruised spider applied heals the scorpion's sting. A second time the word occurs, Sanhedrin 103b, where it is said of King Amon that he burnt the Tôra, and that over the altar came a שממית (here with ש), which Rashi explains of the spider (a spider's web). But Aruch testifies that in these two places of the Talmud the explanation is divided between ragnatelo (spider) and (Ital.) lucrta (lizard). For the latter, he refers to Leviticus 11:30, where לטאה (also explained by Rashi by lzard) in the Jerus. Targ. is rendered
(Note: The Samaritan has, Leviticus 11:30, שממית for אנקה, and the Syr. translates the latter word by אמקתא, which is used in the passage before us (cf. Geiger's Urschrift, p. 68f.) for שממית; omakto (Targ. akmetha) appears there to mean, not a spider, but a lizard.)
by שממיתא (the writing here also varies between שׁ and שׂ or ס). Accordingly, and after the lxx and Jerome, it may be regarded as a confirmed tradition that שממית means not the spider, for which the name עכּבישׁ is coined, but the lizard, and particularly the stellion (spotted lizard). Thus the later language used it as a word still living (plur. סממיּות, Sifre, under Deuteronomy 33:19). The Arab. also confirms this name as applicable to the lizard.
(Note: Perhaps also the modern Greek, σαμιάμινθος (σαμιάμιδος, σαμιαμίδιον), which Grotius compares.)
"To this day in Syria and in the Desert it is called samawiyyat, probably not from poison, but from samawah equals שׁממה, the wilderness, because the beast is found only in the stony heaps of the Kharab" (Mhlau after Wetzstein). If this derivation is correct, then שׁממית is to be regarded as an original Heb. expression; but the lizard's name, samm, which, without doubt, designates the animal as poisonous (cf. סם, samam, samm, vapour, poisonous breath, poison), favours Schultens' view: שממית equals (Arab.) samamyyat, afflatu interficiens, or generally venenosa. In the expression בּידים תּתפּשׂ, Schultens, Gesenius, Ewald, Hitzig, Geier, and others, understand ידים of the two fore-feet of the lizard: "the lizard feels (or: seizes) with its two hands;" but granting that ידים is used of the fifteen feet of the stellio, or of the climbing feet of any other animal (lxx καλαβώτης equals ἀσκαλαβώτης), yet it is opposed by this explanation, that in line first of this fourth distich an expression regarding the smallness of the weakness of the beast is to be expected, as at 25a, 26a, and 27a. And since, besides, תפשׂ with ביד or בכף always means "to catch" or "seize" (Ezekiel 21:16; Ezekiel 29:7; Jeremiah 38:23), so the sense according to that explanation is: the lizard thou canst catch with the hand, and yet it is in kings' palaces, i.e., it is a little beast, which one can grasp with his hand, and yet it knows how to gain an entrance into palaces, by which in its nimbleness and cunning this is to be thought of, that it can scale the walls even to the summit (Aristoph. Nubes 170). To read תּתּפשׂ with Mhlau, after Bttcher, recommends itself by this, that in תּהפּשׂ one misses the suff. pointing back (תּתפּשׂנּה); also why the intensive of תפשׂ is used, is not rightly comprehended. Besides, the address makes the expression more animated; cf. Isaiah 7:25, תבוא. In the lxx as it lies before us, the two explanations spoken of are mingled together: καὶ καλαβώτης ( equals ἀσκαλαβώτης) χερσὶν ἐπειδόμενος καὶ εὐάλωτος ὢν... This εὐάλωτος ὢν (Symmachus, χερσὶν ἐλλαμβανόμενος) hits the sense of 28a. In היכלי מלך, מלך is not the genit. of possession, as at Psalm 45:9, but of description (Hitzig), as at Amos 7:13.
There be three things which go well, yea, four are comely in going:Another numerical proverb with the cipher 4 equals 3 + 1:
29 Three things are of stately walk,
And four of stately going:
30 The lion, the hero among beasts,
And that turneth back before nothing;
31 The swift-loined, also the goat;
And a king with whom is the calling out of the host.
Regarding היטיב with inf. following (the segolated n. actionis צעד is of equal force with an inf.), vid., under Proverbs 15:2.
(Note: In 29a, after Norzi, מיטיבי, and in 29b, מיטבי, is to be written, and this is required by the little Masora to 1 Samuel 25:31, the great, to Ezekiel 33:33, and also the Erfurt little Masora to the passage before us.)
The relation of the members of the sentence in 30a is like that in 25a and 26a: subj. and apposit., which there, as here, is continued in a verbal clause which appears to us as relative. It deserves to be here remarked that לישׁ, as the name for a lion, occurs only here and at Job 4:11, and in the description of the Sinai wilderness, Isaiah 30:6; in Arab. it is layth, Aram. לית, and belongs to the Arameo-Arab. dialect of this language; the lxx and Syr. translate it "the young lion;" the Venet. excellently, by the epic λῖς. בּבּהמה has the article only to denote the genus, viz., of the beasts, and particularly the four-footed beasts. What is said in 30b (cf. with the expression, Job 39:22) is described in Isaiah 30:4. The two other beasts which distinguish themselves by their stately going are in 31a only briefly named. But we are not in the condition of the readers of this Book of Proverbs, who needed only to hear the designation זרזיר מתנים at once to know what beast was meant. Certainly זרזיר, as the name for a beast, is not altogether unknown in the post-bibl. Heb. "In the days of Rabbi Chija (the great teacher who came from Babylon to the Academy of Sepphoris), as is narrated in Bereschith rabba, sect. 65, a zarzir flew to the land of Israel, and it was brought to him with the question whether it were eatable. Go, said he, place it on the roof! Then came an Egyptian raven and lighted down beside it. See, said Chija, it is unclean, for it belongs to the genus of the ravens, which is unclean (Leviticus 11:15). From this circumstance there arose the proverb: The raven goes to the zarzir because it belongs to his own tribe."
(Note: This "like draws to like" in the form: "not in vain goes the raven to the zarzir, it belongs just to its own tribe," came to be often employed, Chullin 65a, Baba Kamma 92b. Plantavitius has it, Tendlau more at large, Sprichwrter, u.s.w., Nr. 577.)
Also the Jer. Rosch ha-schane, Halacha 3: "It is the manner of the world that one seeks to assist his zarzir, and another his zarzir, to obtain the victory;" and Midrash Echa v. 1, according to which it is the custom of the world, that one who has a large and a little zarzir in his house, is wont to treat the little one sparingly, so that in the case of the large one being killed, he might not need to buy another. According to this, the zarzir is a pugnacious animal, which also the proverb Bereschith rabba, c. 75, confirms: two zarzir do not sleep on one board; and one makes use of his for contests like cock-fights. According to this, the זרזיר is a bird, and that of the species of the raven; after Rashi, the tourneau, the starling, which is confirmed by the Arab. zurzur (vulgar Arab. zarzur), the common name of starlings (cf. Syr. zarzizo, under zrz of Castelli). But for the passage before us, we cannot regard this as important, for why is the starling fully named זרזיר מתנים? To this question Kimchi has already remarked that he knows no answer for it. Only, perhaps, the grave magpie (corvus pica), strutting with upraised tail, might be called succinctus lumbos, if מתנים can at all be used here of a bird. At the earliest, this might possibly be used of a cock, which the later Heb. named directly גּבר, because of its manly demeanour; most old translators so understand it. The lxx translates, omitting the loins, by ἀλέκτωρ ἐμπεριπατῶν θηλείαις εὔψυχος, according to which the Syr. and Targ.: like the cock which struts about proudly among the hens;
(Note: Regarding the Targum Text, vid., Levy under אבּכא and זרכּל. The expression דּמזדּרז (who is girded, and shows himself as such) is not unsuitable.)
Aquila and Theodotion: ἀλέκτωρ (ἀλεκτρυὼν) νώτου; The Quinta: ἀλέκτωρ ὀσφύος; Jezome: gallus succinctus lumbos. Ṣarṣar (not ṣirṣir, as Hitzig vocalizes) is in Arab. a name for a cock, from ṣarṣara, to crow, an onomatopoeia. But the Heb. זרזיר, as the name of a bird, signifies, as the Talmud proves on the ground of that history, not a cock, but a bird of the raven order, whether a starling, a crow, or a magpie. And if this name of a corvinus is formed from the onomatopoeia זרזר, the weaker form of that (Arab.) ṣarṣar, then מתנים, which, for זרזיר, requires the verbal root זרז, to girdle, is not wholly appropriate; and how strangely would the three animals be mingled together, if between לישׁ and תישׁ, the two four-footed animals, a bird were placed! If, as is to be expected, the "Lendenumgrtete" [the one girded about the loins equals זרזיר מתנים] be a four-footed animal, then it lies near, with C. B. Michaelis and Ziegler, after Ludolf's
(Note: Ludolf gave, in his Hist. Aethiop. i. 10, and Commentarius, p. 150, only a description of the Zecora, without combining therewith זרזיר; but vid., Joh. Dietr. Winckler's Theol. u. Philol. Abhand. i.((1755) p. 33ff.: "A nearer explanation of what is to be understood by זרזיר מתנים, Proverbs 30:31, along with a statement from a hitherto unpublished correspondence between the learned philologists Hiob Ludolf and Matthai Leydecker, a Reformed preacher in Batavia." With Ludolf, Joh. Simonis also, in the Arcanum Formarum (1735), p. 687f., decides in favour of the zebra.)
example, to think of the zebra, the South African wild ass. But this animal lay beyond the sphere of the author's observation, and perhaps also of his knowledge, and at the same time of that of the Israelitish readers of this Book of Proverbs; and the dark-brown cross stripes on a white ground, by which the zebra is distinguished, extend not merely to its limbs, but over the whole body, and particularly over the front of the body. It would be more tenable to think of the leopard, with its black round spots, or the tiger, with dark stripes; but the name זרזיר מתנים scarcely refers to the colour of the hair, since one has to understand it after the Aram. זרז חרציהּ equals שׁנּס מתניו, 1 Kings 18:46, or אחר חלציו, Job 38:3, and thus of an activity, i.e., strength and swiftness, depending on the condition of the loins. Those who, with Kimchi, think that the נמר [leopard] is thus named, ground their view, not on this, that it has rings or stripes round its legs, but on this, that it דק מתנים וחזק במתניו. But this beast has certainly its definite name; but a fundamental supposition entering into every attempt at an explanation is this, that זרזיר מתנים, as well as לישׁ and תישׁ, is the proper name of a beast, not a descriptive attribute. Therefore the opinion of Rosse, which Bochart has skilfully established in the Hierozoicon, does not recommend itself, for he only suggests, for choice, to understand the name, "the girded about the loins," in the proper sense of straps and clasps around and on the loins (thus e.g., Gesenius, Fleischer, Hitzig), or of strength, in the sense of the Arab. habuwk, the firmly-bound equals compact, or ṣamm alṣlab, the girded loin (thus e.g., Muntinghe). Schultens connects together both references: Utrumque jungas licet. That the by-name fits the horse, particularly the war-horse, is undeniable; one would have to refer it, with Mhlau, to the slender structure, the thin flanks, which are reckoned among the requisites of a beautiful horse.
(Note: Vid., Ahlwardt, Chalef elahmar's Qasside (1859), and the interpretation of the description of the horse contained therein, p. 210ff.)
But if succinctus lumbos were a by-name of a horse, why did not the author at once say סוס זרזיר מתנים? We shall give the preference to the opinion, according to which the expression, "girt about the loins" equals "with strong loins," or "with slender limbs," is not the by-name, but the proper name of the animal. This may be said of the hunting-hound, lvrier (according to which the Venet., incorrectly translating מתנים: λαγῳοκύων ψοιῶν),
(Note: Thus reads Schleusner, Opusc. Crit. p. 318, and refers it to the horse: nam solebant equos figuris quibusdam notare et quasi sigillare.)
which Kimchi ranks in the first place. Luther, by his translation, Ein Wind equals Windhund [greyhound], of good limbs, has given the right direction to this opinion. Melanchton, Lavater, Mercier, Geier, and others, follow him; and, among the moderns, so also do Ewald and Bttcher (also Bertheau and Stuart), which latter supposes that before זרזיר מתנים there originally stood כבל, which afterwards disappeared. But why should the greyhound not at once be called זרזיר מתנים? We call the smaller variety of this dog the Windspiel [greyhound]; and by this name we think on a hound, without saying Windspielhund. The name זרזיר מתנים (Symmachus excellently: περιεσφιγμένος, not περιεσφραγισμένος, τὴν ὀσφύν, i.e., strongly bound in the limbs) is fitted at once to suggest to us this almost restless, slender animal, with its high, thin, nimble limbs. The verbal stem זרר (Arab.) zarr, signifies to press together, to knit together; the reduplicative form זרזר, to bind firmly together, whence זרזיר, firmly bound together, referred to the limbs as designating a natural property (Ewald, 158a): of straight and easily-moveable legs.
(Note: The Aram. זרז is shortened from זרזר, as כּרך from כּרכּר; the particip. adj. זריז signifies nimble, swift, eager, e.g., Pesachim 4a: "the zealous obey the commandment - as soon as possible hasten to fulfil it.")
The hunting-hound (salki or salki, i.e., coming from Seleucia) is celebrated by the Arab. poets as much as the hunting-horse.
(Note: Vid., Ahlwardt, Chalef elahmar's Qasside, p. 205f.)
The name כּלב, though not superfluous, the author ought certainly to have avoided, because it does not sound well in the Heb. collocation of words.
There now follows תישׁ, a goat, and that not the ram (Jerome, Luther), which is called איל, but the he-goat, which bears this name, as Schultens has already recognised, from its pushing, as it is also called עתּוּד, as paratus ad pugnam; the two names appear to be only provincially different; שׂעיר, on the contrary, is the old he-goat, as shaggy; and צפיר also perhaps denotes it, as Schultens supposes, with twisted, i.e., curled hair (tortipilus). In Arab. tays denotes the he-goat as well as the roebuck and the gazelle, and that at full growth. The lxx (the Syr. and Targ., which is to be emended after the Syr.) is certainly right, for it understands the leading goat: καὶ τράγος ἡγούμενος αἰπολίου. The text, however, has not ותישׁ, but או תישׁ, ἢ τράγος (Aquila, Theodotion, Quinta, and the Venet.). Bttcher is astonished that Hitzig did not take hold of this או, and conjectures תּאו־תישׁ, which should mean a "gazelle-goat" (Mhlau: dorcas mas). But it is too bold to introduce here תּאו (תּוא), which is only twice named in the O.T., and תאו־תישׁ for תּאו זכר is not the Heb. style; and besides, the setting aside of או has a harsh asyndeton for its consequence, which bears evidence to the appearance that תאו and תישׁ are two different animals. And is the או then so objectionable? More wonderful still must Sol 2:9 appear to us. If the author enumerated the four of stately going on his fingers, he would certainly have said ותישׁ. By או he communicates to the hearer, setting before him another figure, how there in the Song Sulamith's fancy passed from one object to another.
To the lion, the king of the animal world, the king אלקוּם עמּו corresponds. This אלקום Hitzig regards as mutilated from אלהים (which was both written and pronounced as אלקום by the Jews, so as to conceal the true sound of the name of God) - which is untenable, for this reason, that this religious conclusion ["A king with whom God is"] accords badly with the secular character of this proverb. Geiger (Urschrift, p. 62ff.) translates: "and King Alkimos corresponding to it (the lustful and daring goat)" - he makes the harmless proverb into a ludibrium from the time of the Maccabeo-Syrian war. The lxx, which the Syr. and Targ. follow, translates καὶ βασιλεὺς δημηγορῶν ἐν ἔθνει; it appears to have changed אלקום עמו into קם אל עמו (standing with his people and haranguing them), like the Quinta: καὶ βας. ἀναστὰς (ὃς ἀνέστη) ἐν τῷ λαῷ αὐτοῦ. Ziegler and Bttcher also, reading עמּו and אל without any transposition, get ומלך אל־קוּם עמּו t, which the former translates: "a king with the presence of his people;" the latter, "a king with the setting up of his people," - not accordant with the thought, for the king should be brought forward as מיטיב לכת. For the same reason, Kimchi's explanation is not suitable: a king with whom is no resistance, i.e., against whom no one can rank himself (thus e.g., also Immanuel); or more specially, but not better: who has no successor of his race (according to which the Venet. ἀδιάδεκτος ξὺν ἑαυτῷ). Rather this explanation commends itself: a king with whom (i.e., in war with whom) is no resistance. Thus Jerome and Luther: against whom no one dare place himself; thus Rashi, Aben Ezra, Ralbag (שׁאין תקומה עמו), Ahron b. Josef (קום equals ἀντίστασις), Arama, and others; thus also Schultens, Fleischer (adversus quem nemo consistere audet), Ewald, Bertheau, Elster, Stuart, and others. But this connection of אל with the infin. is not Heb.; and if the Chokma, xii. 28, has coined the expression אל־מות for the idea of "immortality," then certainly it does not express the idea of resistlessness by so bold a quasi compositum. But this boldness is also there mitigated, for יהי is supplied after אל, which is not here practicable with קוּם, which is not a subst. like מות. Pocock in the Spec. historiae Arabum, and Castellus in the Lex. Heptaglotton (not Castellio, as the word is printed by Zckler), have recognised in אלקום the Arab. âlkawm; Schultens gives the lxx the honour of this recognition, for he regards their translation as a paraphrase of ὁ δῆμος μετ ̓ αὐτοῦ. Bertheau thinks that it ought to be in Arab. kawmuhu, but אלקום עמו equals âlkawhu ma'ahu is perfectly correct, âlkawhu is the summons or the Heerbann equals arriere-ban;
(Note: Wetzstein's Ausgewhlte Inschriften, p. 355: "The word ḳawm signifies people, not in the sense of populus, but in the sense of the Heb. קים (Job 24:7) equals muḳawim abrajul, he who breaks with or against any one." Incorrect in Gesenius-Dietrich's Heb. Wrterbuch.)
in North Africa they speak in their language in the same sense of the Gums. This explanation of אלקום, from the Arab. Dachselt (rex cum satellitio suo), Diedrichs in his Arab.-Syr. Spicilegium (1777), Umbreit, Gesenius, and Vaihinger, have recognised, and Mhlau has anew confirmed it at length. Hitzig, on the contrary, remarks that if Agur wrote on Arab. territory, we could be contented with the Arab. appellative, but not with the article, which in words like אלגּבישׁ and אלמגּים is no longer of force as an art., but is an integ. component part of the word. We think that it is with אלקום exactly as with other words descriptive of lordship, and the many similar that have passed over into the Spanish language; the word is taken over along with the article, without requiring the Heb. listener to take the art. as such, although he certainly felt it better than we do, when we say "das Alkoran" [the Alcoran], "das Alcohol," and the like. Blau also, in his Gesch. der Arab. Substantiv-Determ.,
(Note: In the "Alt-arab. Sprachstudien," Deutsch. Morgenl. Zeitschr. xxv. 539f.)
regards it as certain that Agur borrowed this אלקום from the idiom of the Arabians, among whom he lived, and heard it constantly spoken. By this explanation we first reach a correspondence between what is announced in lines first and second and line sixth. A king as such is certainly not "comely in going;" he can sit upon his throne, and especially as δημηγορῶν will he sit (Acts 12:21) and not stand. But the majesty of his going shows itself when he marches at the head of those who have risen up at his summons to war. Then he is for the army what the תישׁ he-goat is for the flock. The או, preferred to ו, draws close together the רישׁ e and the king (cf. e.g., Isaiah 14:9).
A lion which is strongest among beasts, and turneth not away for any;
A greyhound; an he goat also; and a king, against whom there is no rising up.
If thou hast done foolishly in lifting up thyself, or if thou hast thought evil, lay thine hand upon thy mouth.Another proverb, the last of Agur's "Words" which exhorts to thoughtful, discreet demeanour, here follows the proverb of self-conscious, grave deportment:
32 If thou art foolish in that thou exaltest thyself,
Or in devising, - put thy hand to thy mouth!
33 For the pressure on milk bringeth forth butter,
And pressure on the nose bringeth forth blood,
And pressure on sensibility bringeth forth altercation.
Lwenstein translates Proverbs 30:32 :
Art thou despicable, it is by boasting;
Art thou prudent, then hold thy hand on thy mouth.
But if זמם denotes reflection and deliberation, then נבל, as its opposite, denotes unreflecting, foolish conduct. Then בּהתנשּׂא ne by boasting is not to be regarded as a consequent (thus it happens by lifting thyself up; or: it is connected with boasting); by this construction also, אם־נבלתּ must be accented with Dechi, not with Tarcha. Otherwise Euchel:
Hast thou become offensive through pride,
Or seems it so to thee, - lay thy hand to thy mouth.
The thought is appropriate,
(Note: Yet the Talmud, Nidda 27a, derives another moral rule from this proverb, for it interprets זמם in the sense of זמם equals חסם, to tie up, to bridle, to shut up, but אם נבלת in the sense of "if thou hast made thyself despicable," as Lwenstein has done.)
but נבלתּ for נבּלתּ is more than improbable; נבל, thus absolutely taken in an ethical connection, is certainly related to נבל, as כּסל, Jeremiah 10:8, to כּסיל. The prevailing mode of explanation is adopted by Fleischer: si stulta arrogantia elatus fueris et si quid durius (in alios) mente conceperis, manum ori impone; i.e., if thou arrogantly, and with offensive words, wilt strive with others, then keep thyself back, and say not what thou hast in thy mind. But while מזמּה and מזמּות denote intrigues, Proverbs 14:17, as well as plans and considerations, זמם has never by itself alone the sense of meditari mala; at Psalm 37:12, also with ל of the object at which the evil devices aim. Then for ואם ... אם (Arab. ân ... wân) there is the supposition of a correlative relation, as e.g., 1 Kings 20:18; Ecclesiastes 11:3, by which at the same time זמּות is obviously thought of as a contrast to נבלתּ. This contrast excludes
(Note: The Arab. signification, to become proud, is a nance of the primary signification, to hold erect - viz. the head - as when the rider draws up the head of a camel by means of the halter (Arab. zamam).)
for זמות not only the sense of mala moliri (thus e.g., also Mhlau), but also the sense of the Arab. zamm, superbire (Schultens). Hitzig has the right determination of the relation of the members of the sentence and the ideas: if thou art irrational in ebullition of temper and in thought - thy hand to thy mouth! But התנשּׂא has neither here nor elsewhere the meaning of התעבּר (to be out of oneself with anger); it signifies everywhere to elevate or exalt oneself, i.e., rightly or wrongly to make much of oneself. There are cases where a man, who raises himself above others, appears as a fool, and indeed acts foolishly; but there are also other cases, when the despised has a reason and an object for vindicating his superiority, his repute, his just claim: when, as we say, he places himself in his right position, and assumes importance; the poet here recommends, to the one as well as to the other, silence. The rule that silence is gold has its exceptions, but here also it is held valid as a rule. Luther and others interpret the perfecta as looking back: "hast thou become a fool and ascended too high and intended evil, then lay thy hand on thy mouth." But the reason in Proverbs 30:33 does not accord with this rendering, for when that has been done, the occasion for hatred is already given; but the proverb designs to warn against the stirring up of hatred by the reclaiming of personal pretensions. The perfecta, therefore, are to be interpreted as at Deuteronomy 32:29; Job 9:15, as the expression of the abstract present; or better, as at Job 9:16, as the expression of the fut. exactum: if thou wouldest have acted foolishly, since thou walkest proudly, or if thou hadst (before) thought of it (Aquila, Theodotion: καὶ ἐὰν ἐννοηθῇς) - the hand on thy mouth, i.e., let it alone, be silent rather (expression as Proverbs 11:24; Judges 18:19; Job 40:4). The Venet. best: εἴπερ ἐμώρανας ἐν τῷ ἐπαίρεσθαι καὶ εἴπερ ἐλογίσω, χεὶρ τῷ στόματι. When we have now interpreted התנשׂא, not of the rising up of anger, we do not also, with Hitzig, interpret the dual of the two snorting noses - viz. of the double anger, that of him who provokes to anger, and that of him who is made angry - but אפּים denotes the two nostrils of one and the same person, and, figuratively, snorting or anger. Pressure against the nose is designated ומיץ־אף, ἐκμύζησις (ἐκπίεσις) μυκτῆρος (write ומיץ־אף, with Metheg, with the long tone, after Metheg-Setzung, 11, 9, 12), and מיץ אפּים, ἐκμύζησις θυμοῦ (Theodotion), with reference to the proper meaning of אפים, pressure to anger, i.e., to the stirring up and strengthening of anger. The nose of him who raises himself up comes into view, in so far as, with such self-estimation, sneering, snuffling scorn (μυκτηρίζειν) easily connects itself; but this view of מתנשׂא is not here spoken of.
Surely the churning of milk bringeth forth butter, and the wringing of the nose bringeth forth blood: so the forcing of wrath bringeth forth strife.