Proverbs 1:19
So are the ways of every one that is greedy of gain; which takes away the life of the owners thereof.
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(19) So are the ways . . .—The conclusion of the discourse. The same phrase occurs in Job 8:13.

Which taketh away . . .—That is, covetousness takes away the life of him who has this vice in his heart, who is, according to the Hebrew idiom, the “owner” of it. (Comp. similar expressions in Proverbs 22:24; Proverbs 23:2, where an “angry” man and a man “given to appetite” are literally an owner of anger and appetite.)

1:10-19 Wicked people are zealous in seducing others into the paths of the destroyer: sinners love company in sin. But they have so much the more to answer for. How cautious young people should be! Consent thou not. Do not say as they say, nor do as they do, or would have thee to do; have no fellowship with them. Who could think that it should be a pleasure to one man to destroy another! See their idea of worldly wealth; but it is neither substance, nor precious. It is the ruinous mistake of thousands, that they overvalue the wealth of this world. Men promise themselves in vain that sin will turn to their advantage. The way of sin is down-hill; men cannot stop themselves. Would young people shun temporal and eternal ruin, let them refuse to take one step in these destructive paths. Men's greediness of gain hurries them upon practices which will not suffer them or others to live out half their days. What is a man profited, though he gain the world, if he lose his life? much less if he lose his soul?Not robbery only, but all forms of covetousness are destructive of true life. 17-19. Men warned ought to escape danger as birds instinctively avoid visibly spread nets. But stupid sinners rush to their own ruin (Ps 9:16), and, greedy of gain, succeed in the very schemes which destroy them (1Ti 6:10), not only failing to catch others, but procuring their own destruction. So, as is expressed both in the foregoing and following words,

are the ways; the actions and courses, which are so in the tendency and event of them.

That is greedy of pain; that seeks gain by unrighteous and wicked practices. Which; either which greediness; or rather, which gain, by comparing the last words.

Taketh away the lives of the owners thereof; brings sudden and violent death upon those who had made themselves masters and possessors of such gain. So are the ways of everyone that is greedy of gain,.... That is set upon getting riches in an unlawful way, by robberies and murder; his ways will end in the loss of his own blood and life, and in the loss of his immortal soul; this will be what his wicked ways and course of life will bring him to, and what will his gain profit him then? it would be of no use and service to him could he have gained the whole world;

which taketh away the life of the owners thereof: or who, even every one of those that are greedy of gain, and will be rich at any rate; such stick not to take away the life of the proper owners of that gain, or money they are greedy of, in order to get it into their own possession; and such wicked practices cannot fail of meeting with a just recompence of reward: or "which" covetous gain, or gain gotten in such a wicked manner, will be the cause of the life of the injurious masters and wrong possessors of it being taken away from them, either by the hand of the civil magistrate, or by God himself. These sins of robbery and murder are particularly instanced in, not only because other sins lead unto them, as sabbath breaking, drunkenness, and lewdness, and issue in temporal and eternal ruin; but because they were very common among the Jews at the time that Wisdom, or Christ, was here on earth: to which time the whole passage refers, as appears from the following verses; and that those sins were frequent then is manifest both from Scripture; see Matthew 27:38; and from the confessions of the Jews, who say (z) that forty years before the destruction of the temple the sanhedrim were obliged to remove from place to place, because that murderers increased, and they could not judge and condemn them, for fear of being murdered themselves; and it was because of this great increase they were obliged to stop the beheading of the red heifer (a).

(z) T. Bab. Avodah Zarah, fol. 8. 2.((a) Misnah Sotah, c. 9. s. 9.

So are the ways of every one that is greedy of gain; which taketh away {p} the life of the owners thereof.

(p) By which he concludes that the covetous man is a murderer.

19. which taketh away] Rather, It (greed of gain) taketh away the life of them that have it. It is the destruction of those who are possessed by it. The same Heb. phrase, owner or lord of, is rendered him that hath it, in Proverbs 16:22, Comp. Proverbs 22:24, an angry man, A.V.; him that is given to anger, R.V. lit. a lord, or owner, of anger, and Proverbs 23:2, a man given to appetite, lit. an owner of appetite.Verse 19. - So am the ways of every one that is greedy of gain. The epiphonema or moral of the preceding address. So are the ways, or such is the lot (as Delitzsch), or such are the paths (as Zockler), i.e. so deceitful, so ruinous, are the ways. כֵּן (chen,) is here used as a qualitative adverb. Ways; אָרְחות (ar'khoth), the plural of לֺארַח (orakh), a poet. word, equivalent in the first instance to "way," i.q. דֶרֶך (derekh), and metaphorically applied to any one's ways, his manner of life and its result, and hence lot, as in Job 8:12, and hence the expression coven the three preceding verses. That is greedy of gain (בֹצֵעַ בָּצַע, botsea batsa); literally, concupiscentis concupiscentium lucri; i.e. eagerly longing after gain; he who greedily desires riches (avari, Vulgate). Gain; batsa in pause, from בֶּצַע. (betsa), which takes its meaning from the verb בָּצַע (batsa), "to out in pieces, to break," and hence means properly that which is cut or broken off and taken by any one for himself, and so unjust gain - anything whatever fraudulently acquired, as in Proverbs 28:16, where it is translated "covetousness" (Authorized Version); cf. Isaiah 33:15; Proverbs 15:27. The idea of greed and covetousness enters largely into the word. Which taketh away the life of the owners thereof. The pronoun "which" does not occur in the original. The nominative to "taketh away" (יִקָּת, yikkath) is "gain;" the "unjust gain." (betsa) takes away the life of its owners, i.e. of those who are under its power. Owners thereof (בְּעָלָיו, b'alayo) does not necessarily imply that they are in actual possession of the unjust gain, but rather refers to the influence which the lust for gain exercises over them. The expression in this second hemistich does not mean that the rapacious take the life of their comrades who possess the gain, as Rabbi Salomon; nor as the Vulgate, "the ways of the avaricious man take away the lives of those who possess them." For the phrase, "taketh away the life," as importing a violent taking away, cf. Psalm 31:13; 1 Kings 19:10. The sentiment of the verse is well expressed in 1 Timothy 6:10, "For the love of money is the root of all evil; which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." (Note: Here, in Proverbs 1:14, גורלך is to be written with Munach (not Metheg) in the second syllable; vid., Torath Emeth, p. 20. Accentuationssystem, vii. 2.)

To their invitation, bearing in itself its own condemnation, they add as a lure the splendid self-enriching treasures which in equal and just fellowship with them they may have the prospect of sharing. הון (from הוּן, levem, then facilem esse, tre ais, son aise) means aisance, convenience, opulence, and concretely that by which life is made agreeable, thus money and possessions (Fleischer in Levy's Chald. Wrterbuch, i. 423f.). With this הון with remarkable frequency in the Mishle יקר (from יקר, Arab. waḳar, grave esse) is connected in direct contrast, according to its primary signification; cf. Proverbs 12:27; Proverbs 24:4 : heavy treasures which make life light. Yet it must not be maintained that, as Schultens has remarked, this oxymoron is intended, nor also that it is only consciously present in the language. מצא has here its primitive appropriate signification of attaining, as Isaiah 10:14 of reaching. שׁלל (from שׁלל, to draw from, draw out, from של, cf. שׁלה, שׁלף, Arab. salab, Comm. on Isa. p. 447) is that which is drawn away from the enemy, exuviae, and then the booty and spoil taken in war generally. נמלּא, to fill with anything, make full, governs a double accusative, as the Kal (to become full of anything) governs only one. In Proverbs 1:14, the invitation shows how the prospect is to be realized. Interpreters have difficulty in conceiving what is here meant. Do not a share by lot and a common purse exclude one another? Will they truly, in the distribution of the booty by lot, have equal portions at length, equally much in their money-bags? Or is it meant that, apart from the portion of the booty which falls to every one by lot, they have a common purse which, when their business is ebbing, must supply the wants of the company, and on which the new companion can maintain himself beforehand? Or does it mean only that they will be as mutually helpful to one another, according to the principle τὰ τῶν φίλων κοινά (amicorum omnia communia), as if they had only one purse? The meaning is perfectly simple. The oneness of the purse consists in this, that the booty which each of them gets, belongs not wholly or chiefly to him, but to the whole together, and is disposed of by lot; so that, as far as possible, he who participated not at all in the affair in obtaining it, may yet draw the greatest prize. This view harmonizes the relation between 14b and 14a. The common Semitic כּים is even used at the present day in Syria and elsewhere as the name of the Exchange ("Brse") (plur. akjâs); here it is the purse ("Kasse") (χρημάτων δοχεῖον, Procop.), which is made up of the profits of the business. This profit consists not merely in gold, but is here thought of in regard to its worth in gold. The apparent contradiction between distributing by lot and having a common purse disappears when the distribution by lot of the common property is so made, that the retaining of a stock-capital, or reserve fund, is not excluded.

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