By much slothfulness the building decays; and through idleness of the hands the house drops through.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Droppeth—i.e., lets the rain drop through.Ecclesiastes 10:18. By much slothfulness, &c., the house droppeth through — That house which is neglected by its owner, and not repaired, must needs come to ruin. Whereby he intimates that the sloth and carelessness of princes, in the management of public affairs, which is a usual attendant on that luxury of which he now spoke, is most destructive to themselves and to their people.Isaiah 3:6; Amos 9:10.
hands—(Ec 4:5; Pr 6:10).
droppeth—By neglecting to repair the roof in time, the rain gets through.
and, through idleness of the hands, the house droppeth through; or, "through the letting" or "hanging down of the hands" (h); the remissness of them, as is to be observed in idle persons, who will not lift them up to work; particularly to repair a breach in a house, by means of which the rain drops through it, and makes it uncomfortable and unsafe being in it; and, in process of time, that itself drops to the ground: and this expresses the same thing, how, through the neglect of the civil magistrate, a commonwealth comes to nothing; or, however, the members of it become wretched and miserable.
(g) "in pigritiis", Montanus; "per duplicem pigritiam", Tigurine version; "pigritia amborum", Junius & Tremellius. (h) "per remissionem", Tigurine version; "demissione", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Gejerus; so Cocceius, Rambachius.By much slothfulness the building decayeth; and through idleness of the hands the house droppeth through.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)18. By much slothfulness the building decayeth] The maxim, though generalised in form, and applicable to every form of the evil which it condemns, may fairly be contemplated, in relation to its context, as having a political bearing. There, laissez-faire, the policy of indolent procrastination, may be as fatal to the good government and prosperity of a state as the most reckless profligacy. The figure is singularly apt. The fabric of a state, like that of the house (Amos 9:11), needs from time to time to be surveyed and repaired. “Time,” as Bacon has said, “alters all things” (houses of both kinds included) “for the worse.” “The timber framework of the house decays.” The decay may be hidden at first (this seems the point implied in the relation of the two parts of the proverb) but the latent cause soon shews itself in a very patent effect, “The house lets in the rain,” there is the “continual dropping,” the “drip, drip, drip,” which, to the householder seeking comfort, is the type of all extremest discomfort (Proverbs 19:13). Delitzsch quotes a curious Arab proverb that “there are three things that make a house intolerable, rain leaking through the roof, an ill-tempered wife, and the cimex lectularius.” So is it with the state. The timbers are the fundamental laws or principles by which its fabric is supported. Corruption or discord (the “beginning of strife” which is “as when one letteth out of water,” Proverbs 17:14) is the visible token that these are worm-eaten and decayed through long neglect.Verse 18. - By much slothfulness the building decayeth. The subject is still the state. Under the image of a house which falls into ruin for lack of needful repairs, is signified the decay that surely overtakes a kingdom whose rulers are given up to indolence and debauchery, and neglect to attend to the affairs which require prompt care (comp. Amos 9:11). Such were they whom Amos (Amos 6:6) denounced, "That drink wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with the chief ointments; but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph." "Much slothfulness" is expressed in the original by a dual form, which gives an intensive signification. Ewald and Ginsburg take it as referring to the "two idle hands;" but the intensifications of the dual is not unprecedented (see Delitzsch, in loc.). The rest of this clause is more accurately rendered, the rafters sink, i.e. the timber framework, whether of roof or wall, gives way. This may possibly not be noticed at once, but it makes itself known unmistakably ere long. And through idleness of the hands the house droppeth through; rather, the house leaketh, the roof lets in the rain. Septuagint, Ἐν ἀρχία χειρῶν στάξει ἡ οἰκία, "Through laziness of hands the house will drip." The very imperfect construction of the fiat roofs of Eastern houses demanded continual attention. Such common and annoying occurrences as a leaky roof are mentioned in the Book of Proverbs (see 19:13; 27:15). Plautus, ' Mostell.,' 1:2.28 -
"Ventat imber, lavit parietes; perpluunt
Tigna; putrefacit aer operam fabri."
"The rain comes down, and washes all the walls,
The roof is leaky, and the weather rough
Loosens the architect's most skilful work." Proverbs 13:15, and its lips grace (pleasantness), which has so wide an influence that he can call a king his friend, Proverbs 22:11, although, according to Ecclesiastes 9:11, that does not always so happen as is to be expected. The lips of a fool, on the contrary, swallow him, i.e., lead him to destruction. The Pih. בּלּע, which at Proverbs 19:28 means to swallow down, and at Proverbs 21:20 to swallow equals to consume in luxury, to spend dissolutely, has here the metaphorical meaning of to destroy, to take out of the way (for that which is swallowed up disappears). שׂפתות is parallel form to שׂפתי, like the Aram. ספות. The construction is, as at Proverbs 14:3, "the lips of the wise תשׁם preserve them;" the idea of unity, in the conception of the lips as an instrument of speech, prevails over the idea of plurality. The words of the wise are heart-winning, and those of the fool self-destructive. This is verified in the following verse.
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