He becomes poor that deals with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent makes rich.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Proverbs 10:4. He becometh poor — Probably by slow degrees; that dealeth with a slack hand — Who is negligent and slothful in his business. Hebrew, כŠ רמיה, with a deceitful hand, so called, partly because it seems, or pretends to do something, when, in truth, it doth nothing; and partly because such persons usually endeavour to maintain themselves by deceit and wickedness, instead of doing it by honest labour and diligence. But the hand of the diligent maketh rich — Not by itself, nor necessarily, as is manifest from experience, and is observed Ecclesiastes 9:11, but through God’s blessing, which is commonly given to the diligent and industrious.Job 13:7; Psalm 120:2-3; Hosea 7:16; Jeremiah 48:10. The two thoughts run easily into each other.
maketh rich—(compare Pr 10:22).With a slack hand; negligently and slothfully, as appears from the diligence opposed to it in the next branch, and from the use of this word in this sense, Proverbs 12:24,27 19:15 Jeremiah 48:10. Heb. with a deceitful hand; so called, partly because it seems and pretends to do something, when in truth it doth nothing; and partly because such persons usually endeavour to maintain themselves by deceit and wickedness, which they cannot or will not do by honest labour and diligence.
Maketh rich; not by itself, nor necessarily, as is manifest from experience, and is noted, Ecclesiastes 9:11, but through God’s blessing, which commonly is given to such, by comparing this verse with Proverbs 10:22, here following.
but the hand of the diligent maketh rich; that is, with the blessing of God along with it, as in Proverbs 10:22; such who are "sharp" (x) and acute, as the word signifies; who are careful and industrious, mind their business, and do the honest part; these, with a divine blessing, frequently grow rich: or rather who are like those that dig in the earth for gold, who search for it with great eagerness and diligence; for from this root is a word often used for gold, Proverbs 3:14. All this is true in a spiritual sense; such who are slothful in attendance on the means of grace, the word and ordinances, are slack and negligent in duty, bring a spiritual poverty upon them; and like the Laodicean church, who, through her lukewarmness and carnal security, became poor and wretched, blind and naked: on the other hand, such who are diligent in the use of means are frequent at the throne of grace, forsake not the assembly of the saints, constantly wait at Wisdom's gates; these grow rich in grace and in all good works.
(u) "vola doli", Montanus; "fraudulenta manu", Tigurine version, Cocceius, Schultens; so Junius & Tremellius, Michaelis. (w) So Mercerus. (x) "acuti", Bochart. Hierizoic. par. 1. l. 2. c. 55. col. 668.He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)4. He becometh poor] It has been thought that the change of a single vowel point would give A slack hand maketh poor, which is an exact parallel to the second clause of the verse, and is adopted by the Vulg., egestatem operata est manus remissa.Verse 4. - That dealeth with a stack hand; that is lazy and indolent (comp. Proverbs 6:10, 11; see on Proverbs 19:15). The Septuagint, with a different pointing, reads, "Poverty humbleth a man." The hand of the diligent (Proverbs 12:24) maketh rich. The words for "hand" are different in the two clauses as Wordsworth remarks. The first word is caph, the open, ineffective, hand or palm; the second term is yad, the hand tense and braced for vigorous work. The LXX. introduces a clause here which seems to interfere with the connection: Υίος πεπαιοευμένος σοφὸς ἔσται τῷ δὲ ἄφρονι διακόνῳ, χρήσεται, "A well instructed son will be wise. and he will use a fool as his minister;" i.e. he is aide to make even the foolish subserve his ends. The sentence is quoted by St. Augustine, 'De Civil Dei,' 16:2. The Vulgate inserts another paragraph, which is also found in some manuscripts of the Septuagint at Proverbs 9:12: Qui nititur mendaciis, hic pascit ventos; idem autem ipse sequitur aves volantes, "He who relieth on lies feedeth on the winds, and pursueth flying birds." 2 Samuel 15:11):
16 "Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither!"
And if any one is devoid of understanding, she saith to him:
17 "Stolen waters taste sweet,
And the bread of secrecy is pleasant."
פּתי (folly, simplicity) has a side accessible to good and its contrary: Wisdom is connected with the one side, and Folly with the other. And as the חסר־לב offers a vacuum to Wisdom which may perhaps be filled with the right contents, so is this vacuum welcome to Folly, because it meets there no resistance. In this sense, Proverbs 9:16 is like Proverbs 9:4 (excepting the addition of a connecting and of a concluding ו: et si quis excors, tum dicit ei); the word is the same in both, but the meaning, according to the two speakers, is different. That to which they both invite is the pleasure of her fellowship, under the symbol of eating and drinking; in the one case it is intellectual and spiritual enjoyment, in the other sensual. That Wisdom offers (Proverbs 9:5) bread and wine, and Folly water and bread, has its reason in this, that the particular pleasure to which the latter invites is of a sensual kind; for to drink water out of his own or out of another fountain is (Proverbs 3:15-20) the symbol of intercourse in married life, or of intercourse between the unmarried, particularly of adulterous intercourse. מים גּנוּבים (correct texts have it thus, without the Makkeph) is sexual intercourse which is stolen from him who has a right thereto, thus carnal intercourse with אושׁת אישׁ; and לחם סתרים fleshly lust, which, because it is contrary to the law, must seek (cf. furtum, secret love intrigue) concealment (סתרים, extensive plur., as מעמקּים; Bttcher, 694). Just such pleasure, after which one wipes his mouth as if he had done nothing (Proverbs 30:20), is for men who are without wisdom sweet (מתק, Job 20:12) and pleasant; the prohibition of it gives to such pleasure attraction, and the secrecy adds seasoning; and just such enjoyments the כסילות, personified carnality, offers. But woe to him who, befooled, enters her house!
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