Proverbs 12:10
A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.
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(10) Regardeth the life of his beast.—Rather, knows their feelings (comp. Exodus 23:9), and so can feel for them. God’s own care for the brute creation (Jonah 4:11) was shown in the merciful provisions of the Law, by which cattle shared the rest of the Sabbath, and had their portion of the corn as it was being trodden out (Deuteronomy 25:4).

Tender mercies.—What the wicked calls tenderness and kind treatment is really cruelty, as he takes no thought for the comfort of his beast.

Proverbs 12:10. A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast — Which is employed in his service. He will not destroy it, either by labours beyond its strength, or by denying it necessary food or rest, or any other way: and much more will he be pitiful to his own servants, and to poor men; but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel — There is much cruelty mixed even with their most merciful actions, when they pretend, or intend to show mercy. Hebrew, רחמי רשׁעים, the bowels of the wicked, &c., those very bowels, which in others are the seat of pity, in him are hardened and shut up, and only excite him to cruelty. A late writer interprets this clause thus: “The very kindnesses of the wicked, being treacherous, are a cruel cheat: nay, the highest expressions which they make of tenderness and compassion, whereby they induce others to repose a trust in them, are intended merely as a cover for the mischief which they mean more securely to do them.” Thus the proverb of the Greeks, εχθρων δωρα αδωρα, “The gifts of enemies are no gifts.” See Clemency to Brutes.

12:10. A godly man would not put even an animal to needless pain. But the wicked often speak of others as well used, when they would not endure like treatment for a single day. 11. It is men's wisdom to mind their business, and follow an honest calling. But it is folly to neglect business; and the grace of God teaches men to disdain nothing but sin. 12. When the ungodly see others prosper by sin, they wish they could act in the same way. But the root of Divine grace, in the heart of the righteous, produces other desires and purposes. 13. Many a man has paid dear in this world for the transgression of his lips.Regardeth - literally, "knoweth." All true sympathy and care must grow out of knowledge. The duty of a person to animals:

(1) rests upon direct commandments in the Law Exodus 20:10; Exodus 23:4-5;

(2) connects itself with the thought that the mercies of God are over all His works, and that man's mercy, in proportion to its excellence, must be like His Jonah 4:11; and

(3) has perpetuated its influence in the popular morality of the East.

Tender mercies - Better, "the feelings, the emotions," all that should have led to mercy and pity toward man.

10. regardeth—literally, "knoweth" (Ps 1:6).

mercies … cruel—as acts of compassion ungraciously rendered to the needy. The righteous more regards a beast than the wicked a man.

Regardeth the life of his beast, which is employed in his service; he will not destroy it either by labours beyond its strength, or by denying to it necessary food or rest, or by any other way; and much more will he be pitiful to his own servants, and to poor men.

The tender mercies of the wicked are cruel; there is much cruelty mixed even with their most merciful actions, when they pretend or intend to show mercy. Heb. the bowels of the, &c.; those very bowels, which in others are the seat of pity, in him are hardened and shut up, and only stir him up to cruelty. Instead of that mercy which is natural to other men, he hath nothing but cruelty. Their

mercies are here said to be

cruel, as

the foolishness and weakness of God are said to be wise and strong, 1 Corinthians 1:25.

A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast,.... Or "knoweth" it (q); knows the worth of it and values it, and takes care of it, and is concerned for the preservation of it; he provides sufficient food for it, and gives it; he does not overwork it, but allows it proper rest from labour; and, if in any disorder, will make use of all suitable means to heal it; see an instance of the care of Jacob, that righteous man, of his cattle, Genesis 33:14; and, on the other hand, see an instance of a wicked man's cruelty to his beast in Balaam, for which he was reproved, Numbers 22:28; by various laws and rules which God has given, it is his will that men should be merciful to their beasts, Deuteronomy 25:4; and such who are so will be more especially pitiful and tenderhearted to their fellow creatures;

but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel; or "are the mercies of a cruel one" (r); the most tender things which are expressed or done by them are nothing but cruelty; and what then must be their more severe expressions and actions? so the most tender concern which antichrist and his followers show to the souls of men breathes nothing but cruelty; the compassionate methods they take to convert heretics, as they call them, are dark dungeons and stinking prisons, racks and tortures, fire and faggots; these are their wholesome severities; this their kindness to men, to deliver them up to the secular power, to inflict pains and punishments on them the most grievous to save their souls. Thus, while the beast of Rome looks like a lamb, he speaks like a dragon, and exercises all the cruelty of the first beast, Rome Pagan, Revelation 13:11.

(q) "novit", Mercerus, Michaelis; so Vulgate Latin. (r) "sunt miserationes crudelis", Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Aben Ezra in Mercerus, so some Jewish writers in Vatablus.

A righteous man {d} regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.

(d) Is merciful, even to the very beast who does him service.

10. righteous] because by such consideration he proves himself to be (Luke 1:6) “righteous, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 5:14; Deuteronomy 22:6-7; Deuteronomy 25:4), and because he is like the righteous God Himself (Psalm 145:9; Jonah 4:11).

regardeth] Lit. knoweth, Comp. Exodus 23:9.

Verse 10. - A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast. For "regardeth," the Hebrew word is literally "knoweth" (Exodus 23:9); he knows what animals want, what they can bear, and treats them accordingly (comp. Proverbs 27:23). The LXX. translates "pitieth." The care for the lower animals, and their kind treatment, are not the produce of modern sentiment and civilization. Mosaic legislation and various expressions in Scripture recognize the duty. God's mercies are over all his works; he saves both man and beast; he hateth nothing that he hath made (Psalm 36:6; Psalm 145:9; Jonah 4:11; Wisd. 11:24). So he enacted that the rest of the sabbath should extend to the domestic animals (Exodus 20:10); that a man should help the over-burdened beast, even of his enemy (Exodus 23:4, 5); that the unequal strength of the ox and the ass should not be yoked together in the plough (Deuteronomy 22:10); that the ox should not be muzzled when he was treading out the corn (Deuteronomy 25:4): that the sitting bird should not be taken from her little brood (Deuteronomy 22:6), nor a kid seethed in its mother's milk (Exodus 23:19). Such humane injunctions were perhaps specially needed at a time when man's life was little regarded, and animal sacrifices had a tendency to make men cruel and unfeeling, when their symbolical meaning was obscured by long familiarity. These enactments regarding animals, and the mysterious significance affixed to the blood (Genesis 9:4; Leviticus 17:10-14), afforded speaking lessons of tenderness and consideration for the inferior creatures, and a fortiori taught regard for the happiness and comfort of fellow men. Our blessed Lord has spoken of God's ears of flowers and the lower creatures of his hand. But the tender mercies; literally, the bowels, regarded as the seat of feeling. The wicked cannot be supposed to have "tender mercies;" hence it is best to take the word in the sense of "feelings," "affections." What should be mercy and love are in an evil man only hard-heartedness and cruelty. Proverbs 12:1010 The righteous knows how his cattle feel,

     And the compassion of the godless is cruel.

The explanation: the righteous taketh care for the life of his beast (Fl.), fails, for 10a is to be taken with Exodus 23:9; נפשׁ signifies also the state of one's soul, the frame of mind, the state of feeling; but ידע has, as in the related proverb, Proverbs 27:23, the meaning of careful cognizance or investigation, in conformity with which one acts. If the Tor includes in the law of the Sabbath (Exodus 20:10; Exodus 23:12) useful beasts and cattle, which are here especially meant, and secures to them the reward of their labour (Deuteronomy 25:4); if it forbids the mutilation, and generally the giving of unnecessary pain, to beasts; if it enjoins those who take a bird's nest to let the dam escape (Deuteronomy 22:6.) - these are the prefigurations of that דעת נפש בהמה, and as the God of the Tor thus appears at the close of the Book of Jonah, this wonderful apology (defensio) of the all-embracing compassion, the God also of the world-history in this sympathy for the beasts of the earth as the type of the righteous.

In 10b most interpreters find an oxymoron: the compassion of the godless is compassionless, the direct opposite of compassion; i.e., he possesses either altogether no compassion, or he shows such as in its principle, its expression, and in its effects is the opposite of what it ought to be (Fl.). Bertheau believes that in the sing. of the predicate אכזרי he is justified in translating: the compassion of the wicked is a tyranny. And as one may speak of a loveless love, i.e., of a love which in its principle is nothing else than selfishness, so also of a compassionless compassion, such as consists only in gesture and speech without truth of feeling and of active results. But how such a compassionless compassion toward the cattle, and one which is really cruel, is possible, it may be difficult to show. Hitzig's conjecture, רחמי, sprang from this thought: the most merciful among sinners are cruel - the sinner is as such not רחוּם. The lxx is right in the rendering, τὰ δὲ σπλάγχνα τῶν ἀσεβῶν ἀνελεήμονα. The noun רחמים means here not compassion, but, as in Genesis 43:30 (lxx ἔντερα or ἔγκατα) and 1 Kings 3:26 (lxx μήτρα), has the meaning the bowels (properly tender parts, cf. Arab. rakhuma, to be soft, tender, with rḥm), and thus the interior of the body, in which deep emotions, and especially strong sympathy, are wont to be reflected (cf. Hosea 10:8). The singular of the predicate אכזרי arises here from the unity of the subject-conception: the inwards, as Jeremiah 50:12, from the reference of the expression to each individual of the many.

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