Proverbs 17:12
Let a bear robbed of her whelps meet a man, rather than a fool in his folly.
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(12) A bear robbed of her whelps.—Proverbially dangerous then (2Samuel 17:8; Hosea 13:8). (See also 1Kings 2:24.)

A fool (khesîl).—Comp. Proverbs 1:32.

Proverbs 17:12. Let a bear robbed of her whelps — When she is most cruel and fierce; meet a man, rather than a fool in his folly — That is, in the heat of his lust or passion, because the danger is greater, all things considered, and more unavoidable. A man may more easily stop, escape from, or guard against, an enraged bear than an outrageous man. It is observed by Bochart, (de Animal Sacr., lib. 3. cap. 9,) that the female bear is more fierce than the male; that she is more fierce than ordinary when she has whelps; and that when she is robbed of them she is fiercest of all.

17:8. Those who set their hearts upon money, will do any thing for it. What influence should the gifts of God have on our hearts! 9. The way to preserve peace is to make the best of every thing; not to notice what has been said or done against ourselves. 10. A gentle reproof will enter, not only into the head, but into the heart of a wise man. 11. Satan, and the messengers of Satan, shall be let loose upon an evil man. 12. Let us watch over our own passions, and avoid the company of furious men. 13. To render evil for good is devilish. He that does so, brings a curse upon his family. 14. What danger there is in the beginning of strife! Resist its earliest display; and leave it off, if it were possible, before you begin. 15. It is an offence to God to acquit the guilty, or to condemn those who are not guilty. 16. Man's neglect of God's favour and his own interest is very absurd. 17. No change of outward circumstances should abate our affection for our friends or relatives. But no friend, except Christ, deserves unlimited confidence. In Him this text did receive, and still receives its most glorious fulfilment. 18. Let not any wrong their families. Yet Christ's becoming Surety for men, was a glorious display of Divine wisdom; for he was able to discharge the bond.The large brown bear of Syria, in her rage at the loss of her whelps, was to the Israelites the strongest type of brute ferocity. Compare 2 Samuel 17:8; 2 Kings 2:24. 12. They are less rational in anger than wild beasts. Robbed of her whelps, when she is most cruel and fierce.

In his folly; in the heat of his lust or passion, because the danger is greater, all things considered, and more unavoidable.

Let a bear robbed of her whelps meet a man,.... A bear is a very fierce and furious creature, especially a she bear; and she is still more so when robbed of her whelps, which she has just whelped, and been at great pains to lick into shape and form, by which her fondness to them is increased; and therefore, being stripped of them, is full of rage; and ranging about in quest of them, falls furiously upon the first she meets with. Jerom (n) observes, that those who have written of the nature of beasts say, that, among all wild beasts, there is none more fierce than a she bear, when she has lost her whelps, or wants food. And yet, as terrible and as dangerous as it is, it is safer and more eligible of the two, to meet an enraged bear in those circumstances,

rather than a fool in his folly; in the height of his folly, in a paroxysm or fit of that; in the heat of his lusts, and the pursuit of them, in which there is no stopping him, or turning him from them; especially in the heat of passion and anger, which exceeds that of a bear, and is not so easily avoided. Jarchi applies it to such fools as seduce persons to idolatry, whom to meet is very dangerous: such are the followers of the man of sin, who have no mercy on the souls of men they deceive, and whose damnation they are the cause of; and who are implacably cruel to those who will not join with them in their idolatrous worship; the beast of Rome, his feet are as the feet of a bear, Revelation 13:2; and one had better meet a bear than him and his followers.

(n) Comment, in Hosea 13.8. So Aristot. Hist. Animal. l. 6. c. 18.

Let a bear robbed of her whelps meet a man, rather than {f} a fool in his folly.

(f) By which he means the wicked in his rage, who has no fear of God.

12. a bear &c.] “The Syrian bear is fiercer than the brown bears to which we are accustomed. It attacks flocks (1 Samuel 17:34), and even oxen (Plin. viii. 64). The fierceness of the she-bear, bereaved of her whelps, became a proverb (2 Samuel 17:8).” Pusey on Hosea 13:8.

rather than] Lit. and not.

Verse 12. - Let a bear robbed of her whelps meet a man. The Syrian bear was once common throughout Palestine; it is now found in but few localities, such as the hills of Hermon and Lebanon, and in the hills east of the Jordan, the destruction of wood and forest having deprived these animals of the shelter necessary to their existence. The ferocity of the bear when deprived of its young had become proverbial (see 2 Samuel 17:8; Hosea 13:8; Hart, 'Animals of the Bible,' 28, etc.). Rather than a fool in his folly; i.e. in the paroxysm of his passion. Compare Saul's ungoverned language to Jonathan (1 Samuel 20:30), and Herod's murder of the children (Matthew 2:16). So we read of the people being filled with ἄνοια against Jesus (Luke 6:11). Oort supposes that this proverb arose from the riddle, "What is worse to meet than a bear?" Septuagint, "Care will fall upon a man of understanding; but fools imagine evils." The Greek translators take "bear" as us d metaphorically for terror and anxiety, but go far astray from the Hebrew text. Proverbs 17:1212 Meet a bear robbed of one of her whelps,

     Only not a fool in his folly.

The name of the bear, as that of the cow, Job 21:10; Psalm 144:14, preserves its masculine form, even when used in reference to sexual relationship (Ewald, 174b); the ursa catulis orbata is proverbially a raging beast. How the abstract expression of the action פּגושׁ [to meet], here as e.g., Psalm 17:5, with the subj. following, must sound as finite (occurrat, may always meet), follows from ואל equals ואל־יפגּשׁ (non autem occurrat). פּגושׁ has on the last syllable Mehuppach, and Zinnorith on the preceding open syllable (according to the rule, Accentssystem, vi. 5d).

(Note: In the Torath Emeth, p. 18, the word is irregularly represented as Milel - a closed syllable with Cholem can suffer no retrogression of the tone.)

שׁכּוּל, in the state of his folly, i.e., when he is in a paroxysm of his anger, corresponds with the conditional noun-adjective שׁכּוּל, for folly morbidly heightened is madness (cf. Hosea 11:7; Psychol. p. 291f.).

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