The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)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.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.
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. 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.The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)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.
But the tongue of the wise is healing.
The second (cf. Proverbs 11:24) of the proverbs beginning with ישׁ. The verb בּטה (בּטא), peculiar to the Hebr., which in the modern Hebr. generally means "to speak out" (מבטא in the grammar: the pronunciation) (according to which the lxx, Syr., and Targ. translate it by אמר), means in biblical Hebr., especially with reference to the binding of oneself by an oath (Leviticus 5:4), and to solemn protestations (Numbers 30:7, Numbers 30:9, according to which Jerome, promittit): to utter incautiously in words, to speak without thought and at random, referred erroneously by Gesenius to the R. בט, to be hollow, probably a word imitative of the sound, like the Greek βατταρίζειν, to stammer, and βαττολογεῖν, to babble, which the lexicographers refer to a talkative person of the name of Βάττος, as our "salbadern" [ equals to talk foolishly] owes its origin to one Jenaer Bader on the Saal. Theod. and the Graec. Venet. give the false reading בּוטח (πεποιθώς). כּמדקרות חרב stands loco accusativi, the כּ being regarded as a noun: (effutiens verba) quae sunt instar confossionum gladii (Fl.). We also call such a man, who bridles his loquacity neither by reflection nor moderates it by indulgent reference to his fellow-men, a Schwertmaul (sword-mouth) or a Schandmaul (a mouth of shame equals slanderer), and say that he has a tongue like a sword. But on the other hand, the tongue of the wise, which is in itself pure gentleness and a comfort to others, since, far from wounding, rather, by means of comforting, supporting, directing exhortation, exercises a soothing an calming influence. Regarding רפא, whence מרפּא, Dietrich in Gesenius' Lex. is right. The root-meaning of the verb רפא (cognate רפה, to be loose, Hiph. to let go, Hithpa. Proverbs 18:9, to show oneself slothful) is, as the Arab. kindred word rafâ, rafa, raf, rawf (râf) shows, that of stilling, softening, soothing, whence arises the meaning of healing (for which the Arab. has ṭabb and 'alkh); the meaning to repair, to mend, which the Arab. rafâ and rafa have, does not stand in a prior relation to to heal, as might appear from Job 13:4, but is a specializing of the general idea of reficere lying in mitigare, just as the patcher is called ἀκέστρια equals ἠπήτρια,
(Note: Whether ῥάπτειν, explained neither by Curtius nor by Flick, stands in a relation to it, we leave out of view.)
from ἀκέομαι, which means equally to still and to heal. Since thus in רפא the meanings of mitigating and of healing are involved, it is plain that מרפא, as it means healing (the remedy) and at the same time (cf. θεραπεία, Revelation 22:2) the preservation of health, Proverbs 4:22; Proverbs 6:15; Proverbs 16:24; Proverbs 29:1, so also may mean mildness (here and Proverbs 15:4), tranquillity (Proverbs 14:30; Ecclesiastes 10:4, calm patience in contrast to violent passion), and refreshing (Proverbs 13:17). Oetinger and Hitzig translate here "medicine;" our translation, "healing (the means of healing)," is not essentially different from it.
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