Proverbs 12:24
The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute.
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(24) Under tribute.—Like the descendants of the Amorites and other former inhabitants of Canaan, by whose forced labour Solomon executed his great works (1Kings 9:20-21). A Hebrew from poverty might be reduced to slavery (Lev. xxv, 39),

Proverbs 12:24. The hand of the diligent shall bear rule — Industry is the way to preferment. An instance of which we have 1 Kings 11:28, where we learn that Solomon advanced Jeroboam because he saw he was an industrious young man. Men that take pains in an honest employment, and especially those that labour to be useful to others, will thereby gain such an interest and reputation, as will give them a superiority over all about them. Thus many have risen strangely; and he that has been faithful in a few things has been made ruler over many things. And those who are diligent while they are young, frequently procure that wealth and power which enable them to rule, and so to rest, when they are old; but the slothful shall be under tribute — Or, rather, the deceitful, as רמיהsignifies. He terms the slothful deceitful, because deceit and idleness are generally companions; and such persons seek to gain by fraud, by their shifts and arts of dishonesty, what they either cannot, or will not, get by honest labour.

12:16. A foolish man is soon angry, and is hasty in expressing it; he is ever in trouble and running into mischief. It is kindness to ourselves to make light of injuries and affronts, instead of making the worst of them. 17. It is good for all to dread and detest the sin of lying, and to be governed by honesty. 18. Whisperings and evil surmises, like a sword, separate those that have been dear to each other. The tongue of the wise is health, making all whole. 19. If truth be spoken, it will hold good; whoever may be disobliged, still it will keep its ground. 20. Deceit and falsehood bring terrors and perplexities. But those who consult the peace and happiness of others have joy in their own minds. 21. If men are sincerely righteous, the righteous God has engaged that no evil shall happen to them. But they that delight in mischief shall have enough of it. 22. Make conscience of truth, not only in words, but in actions. 23. Foolish men proclaim to all the folly and emptiness of their minds. 24. Those who will not take pains in an honest calling, living by tricks and dishonesty, are paltry and beggarly. 25. Care, fear, and sorrow, upon the spirits, deprive men of vigour in what is to be done, or courage in what is to be borne. A good word from God, applied by faith, makes the heart glad. 26. The righteous is abundant; though not in this world's goods, yet in the graces and comforts of the Spirit, which are the true riches. Evil men vainly flatter themselves that their ways are not wrong. 27. The slothful man makes no good use of the advantages Providence puts in his way, and has no comfort in them. The substance of a diligent man, though not great, does good to him and his family. He sees that God gives it to him in answer to prayer. 28. The way of religion is a straight, plain way; it is the way of righteousness. There is not only life at the end, but life in the way; all true comfort.Under tribute - The comparison is probably suggested by the contrast between the condition of a conquered race (compare Joshua 16:10; Judges 1:30-33), and that of the freedom of their conquerors from such burdens. The proverb indicates that beyond all political divisions of this nature there lies an ethical law. The "slothful" descend inevitably to pauperism and servitude. The prominence of compulsory labor under Solomon 1 Kings 9:21 gives a special significance to the illustration. 24. slothful—(Compare Margin), so called because he fails to meet his promises.

under tribute—not denoting legal taxes, but the obligation of dependence.

Shall bear rule; shall procure wealth and power.

The slothful, Heb. the deceitful. So he calls the slothful, because deceit and idleness are commonly companions, and such men seek to gain by fraud what they either cannot or will not get by honest labour. Compare Proverbs 10:4.

The hand of the diligent shall bear rule,.... "Shall become rich", so Jarchi interprets it, according to Proverbs 10:4; Through diligence men get riches, and through riches they arrive to power and authority over others: from apprentices and journeymen workmen they become masters of their business; diligent men become masters of families, and have servants and workmen under them; become magistrates in cities, and bear rule over their fellow citizens, and are advanced to places of power and authority in the commonwealth; see Proverbs 22:29;

but the slothful shall be under tribute; the "slothful" or "deceitful hand" (l), for so it may be rendered and supplied; for usually such who are slothful, and do not care for business, get their living by deceitful methods, by tricking and sharping; and such become subject to others, to them that are diligent; hence said to be "under tribute", or tributary; because those that are tributary are in subjection to those to whom they pay tribute.

(l) "Manus fraudulentiae", Michaelis; "dolosa", Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, Mercerus, Gejerus; "fraudulenta", Tigurine version, Vatablus.

The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute.
24. the slothful] Lit. sloth. See Proverbs 10:4. Comp. Proverbs 13:1-2.

shall be under tribute] Rather, shall come, or be put, under task-work, i.e. servile or enforced labour. The phrase occurs frequently (e.g. Deuteronomy 20:11; Jdg 1:30; Jdg 1:33; Jdg 1:35), and is rendered, “be, or become tributary,” both in A.V. and R.V., though with the alternative, “be subject to task-work,” in R.V. marg. But in all those places the words, “and shall serve thee” are added, showing that it was not in money but in toil, as with the Israelites in Egypt, that the “tribute” was to be paid. Hence the phrase comes to have the meaning which it has here.

Verses 24-28 speak of the means of getting on in life. Verse 24. - The hand of the diligent shall bear rule (Proverbs 10:4). For "diligent" the Vulgate has fortium, "the strong and active;" Septuagint, ἐκλεκτῶν, "choice." Such men are sure to rise to the surface, and get the upper hand in a community, as the LXX. adds, "with facility," by a natural law. But the slothful (literally, slothfulness) shall be under tribute; or, reduced to compulsory service, like the Gibeonites in Joshua's time, and the Canaanites under Solomon (Joshua 9:21, 23; 1 Kings 9:21). So Proverbs 11:29, "The fool shall be slave to the wise;" and an Israelite reduced to poverty might be made a servant (Leviticus 25:39, 40). The LXX., taking the word in another sense, translates, "The crafty shall be for plunder;" i.e. they who think to succeed by fraud and trickery shall become the prey of those who are stronger than themselves. Proverbs 12:24We take Proverbs 12:24-28 together as a group. In these verses the subject is the means of rising (in the world), and the two ways, the one of which leads to error, and the other to life.

24 The land of the diligent attains to dominion,

     But slothfulness will become tributary.

In Proverbs 10:4 רמיּה was adj., but to כּף standing beside it; here it is to be regarded as adj. to יד (sluggish hand) supplied from 24a, but may be equally regarded as a subst. (slothfulness) (vid., at Proverbs 12:27). Regarding חרוּץ, vid., p. 211. מס signifies tribute and service, i.e., tributary service rendered to a master. In Proverbs 11:29 עבד stands for it. It is still the experience of to-day, as it was of Solomon's time, that slothfulness (indolence) brings down to a state of servitude, if not even deeper, but that vigorous activity raises to dominion or to the position of a master, i.e., to independence, wealth, respect, and power.

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