Proverbs 10:26
As vinegar to the teeth, and as smoke to the eyes, so is the sluggard to them that send him.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Proverbs 10:26. As vinegar to the teeth — Which, by its coldness and sharpness, it offends; and as smoke, &c., so is the sluggard — Unserviceable and vexatious. “A negligent, dilatory servant vexes those who send him, just as keen vinegar gives pain to the teeth, and bitter smoke torments the eyes.” — Schultens.

10:22. That wealth which is truly desirable, has no vexation of spirit in the enjoyment; no grief for the loss; no guilt by the abuse of it. What comes from the love of God, has the grace of God for its companion. 23. Only foolish and wicked men divert themselves with doing harm to others, or tempting to sin. 24. The largest desire of eternal blessings the righteous can form, will be granted. 25. The course of prosperous sinners is like a whirlwind, which soon spends itself, and is gone. 26. As vinegar sets the teeth on edge, and as the smoke causes the eyes to smart, so the sluggard vexes his employer. 27,28. What man is he that loves life? Let him fear God, and that will secure to him life enough in this world, and eternal life in the other.The teeth set on edge by the sour wine used by peasants Ruth 2:14; Psalm 69:21, the eye irritated by wood-smoke, these shadow the annoyance of having a messenger who will loiter on the way. 26. that is, causes vexation. As vinegar to the teeth; Which by its cold and sharpness it offends.

So is the sluggard; unserviceable and vexatious.

As vinegar to the teeth,.... Which, with its coldness and sourness, blunts the teeth, and makes it troublesome to eat: the Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions, render it,

"as the sour grape is hurtful to the teeth;''

sets them on edge;

and as smoke to the eye; dims the sight, causes the eye to water, and is very pernicious and vexatious:

so is the sluggard to them that send him: that is, the slothful messenger, as the Targum explains it; who, being sent on an errand, is dilatory, does not make haste to bring back the answer; which is very vexatious to those that send him, raises their passions, makes them fretful and very angry, be it on what account it will: so slothful and unprofitable servants, to whom talents are given for usefulness, which they hide or use not, are very provoking to Christ, and whom he will order into outer darkness; those who have gifts for sacred service ought not to be slothful in business, but fervent in spirit, serving the Lord, Matthew 25:26.

As vinegar to the teeth, and as smoke to the eyes, so is the sluggard to them that {l} send him.

(l) He is trouble and grief to him about any business.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
26. them that send him] Contrast Proverbs 25:13.

Verse 26. - Vinegar (Ruth 2:14; Psalm 69:21). As sour wine sets the teeth on edge. Septuagint, "as the unripe grape is harmful to the teeth" (Ezekiel 18:2). Smoke. In a country where chimneys were unknown, and the fuel was wood or some substance more unsavoury, the eyes must have often been painfully affected by the household fire. Thus lacrimosus, "tear-producing," is a classical epithet of smoke (see Ovid, 'Metam.,' 10:6; Her., 'Sat.,' 1:5, 80). To these two annoyances is compared the messenger who loiters on his errand. The last clause is rendered by the LXX., "So is iniquity to those who practise it" - it brings only pain and vexation. Proverbs 10:26This proverb stands out of connection with the series:

As vinegar to the teeth, and as smoke to the eyes,

So is the sluggard to them who gives him a commission.

A parabolic proverb (vid., p. 9), priamel-like in its formation (p. 13). Here and there לשּׁנּים is found with Mugrash, but in correct texts it has Reba-magnum; the verse is divided into two by Athnach, whose subordinate distributive is (Accentssystem, xi. 1) Reba-magnum. Smoke makes itself disagreeably perceptible to the sense of smell, and particularly to the eyes, which it causes to smart so that they overflow with tears; wherefore Virgil speaks of it as amarus, and Horace lacrimosus. חמץ (from חמץ, to be sour, harsh) signifies properly that which is sour, as acetum, ὄξος; here, after the lxx ὄμφαξ, the unripe grapes, but which are called בּסר (בּסר) (vid., under Job 15:33), by which the Syr., here following the lxx, translates, and which also in the Talmud, Dema i. 1, is named חמץ, after a doubtful meaning (vid., Aruch, and on the other side Rashi), thus: vinegar, which the word commonly means, and which also accords with the object of the comparison, especially if one thinks of the sharp vinegar-wine of the south, which has an effect on the teeth denoted by the Hebr. verb קהה, as the effect of smoke is by כהה (Fl.). The plur. לשׁלחיו is that of the category, like Proverbs 22:21; Proverbs 25:13; the parallel אדניו of the latter passage does not at least make it necessary to regard it, like this, as a plur. excellentiae (Bertheau, Hitzig, Ewald). They who send a sluggard, i.e., who make him their agent, do it to their own sorrow; his slothfulness is for them, and for that which they have in view, of dull, i.e., slow and restrained, of biting, i.e., sensibly injurious operation.

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