|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
6:20-35 The word of God has something to say to us upon all occasions. Let not faithful reproofs ever make us uneasy. When we consider how much this sin abounds, how heinous adultery is in its own nature, of what evil consequence it is, and how certainly it destroys the spiritual life in the soul, we shall not wonder that the cautions against it are so often repeated. Let us notice the subjects of this chapter. Let us remember Him who willingly became our Surety, when we were strangers and enemies. And shall Christians, who have such prospects, motives, and examples, be slothful and careless? Shall we neglect what is pleasing to God, and what he will graciously reward? May we closely watch every sense by which poison can enter our minds or affections.
Verse 30. - The teacher continues his argument with another illustration, still keeping in view his object, which is to show that the punishment of the adulterer is a surely impending one and severe in its character. The argument in vers. 30-33 is one a fortiori. If men do not overlook but severely punish a crime which has been committed under extenuating circumstances, much less will they do so where the crime is of a much graver character and has nothing to excuse it. Theft and adultery are brought into comparison. Theft under all circumstances is a lesser crime than adultery, but here it is minimized to the lowest degree. The case of a man is taken who steals to satisfy his hunger; the extent of the theft cannot be large, but yet he is punished, and called upon to make the amplest restitution. Much more, does the teacher infer, will be the punishment, and equally certain, where adultery is in question, and the crime is of the most heinous character affecting the most precious interests, and indulged in from the lowest of motives. Men do not despise a thief, etc.; i.e. they do not condemn him under the circumstances, non grandis est culpa (Vulgate), "the fault is not a great one;" but they do despise an adulterer - him they hold in contempt as one "who lacketh understanding" and destroyeth his own soul (ver. 32). The verb buz has, however, been otherwise rendered as "to overlook." Zockler and Holden explain, "men do not overlook," though the former gives the literal sense as "men do not despise." Gesenius renders "despise," but explains, "i.e. they do not let him go unpunished." Vatablus, the Versions, Ariae, Montani, and Munsteri, Hitzig, Delitzsch, and Gesenius, Stuart, Muenscher, and Wordsworth, all agree m regarding the proper meaning of the verb to be "to despise" or "to treat scornfully." The verb buz, moreover, occurs in this sense in Proverbs 1:7; Proverbs 11:12; Proverbs 13:13; Proverbs 14:21; Proverbs 23:9; and Song of Solomon 8:1, 7. Michaelis's explanation is as follows: "although a theft is deservedly regarded as infamous in the commonwealth, nevertheless, if it be compared with adultery, it is less wicked." The rendering of the LXX., οὐ θαυμαστὸν ἐάν ἁλῷ τις κλέπτων, i.e. "it is not a wonder if any thief be taken," it is difficult to reconcile with the text in the original, though it may be explained as expressing the certainty of arrest which follows theft, and thus gives colour to the secondary meaning attached to the verb, i.e. that of overlooking. The Syriac and Arabic Versions follow the LXX. while the Chaldee Paraphrase renders, "It is not a matter of surprise if a thief steals," etc. His soul; Hebrew, naph'sko. Nephesh is used here for desire, craving, or appetite, as in Ecclesiastes 6:2, 7; Ezekiel 7:19. "To satisfy his soul" is "to sustain his life." Anima, Vulgate; ψυχή, LXX.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Men do not despise a thief, if he steal,.... They do not discommend or reproach him for it, or fix a mark of infamy upon him, or expose him to public shame by whipping him; but rather excuse him and pity him when it appears what his case is, what put him upon it, and that he had no other intention in it than to do as follows;
to satisfy his soul; his craving appetite for food, having nothing to eat, nor no other way of getting any: the words should be supplied thus, "for he does this to satisfy his soul"; or, as the Syriac version, "for he steals to satisfy his soul": and so they are a reason why men do not despise him, nor use him ill, because it is done with no other view; not with a wicked design to hurt his neighbour, nor with a covetous intent to increase his own substance in an unlawful way, but only to satisfy nature in distress; and another reason follows, or the former confirmed;
when he is hungry; or for "he is hungry" (s); pressed with famine; the temptation is great, nature urges him to it; and though it is criminal, men in such cases wilt not bear hard upon him for it. The Targum is,
"it is not to be wondered at in a thief that he should steal to satisfy his soul when it is hungry.''
The Vulgate Latin version is,
"it is not a great fault when anyone steals, for he steals to fill a hungry soul;''
it is a fault, but it is not a very heinous one, at least it is not so heinous as adultery, for the sake of which it is mentioned, and with which it is compared: the design of the instance is to show the adultery is far greater than that; and yet in our age we see that the one is severely punished even with death for trifling things, when the other goes unpunished.
(s) "quia esurit", Cocceius, Michaelis.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
30, 31. Such a thief is pitied, though heavily punished.
Proverbs 6:30 Parallel Commentaries
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