Proverbs 17:21
He that begetteth a fool doeth it to his sorrow: and the father of a fool hath no joy.
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(21) He that begetteth a fool (khesîl).—See above, on Proverbs 1:32.

The father of a fool (nābhāl).—See above, on Proverbs 17:7.

17:19. If we would keep a clear conscience and a quiet mind, we must shun all excitements to anger. And a man who affects a style of living above his means, goes the way to ruin. 20. There is nothing got by ill designs. And many have paid dear for an unbridled tongue. 21. This speaks very plainly what many wise and good men feel very strongly, how grievous it is to have a foolish, wicked child. 22. It is great mercy that God gives us leave to be cheerful, and cause to be cheerful, if by his grace he gives us hearts to be cheerful. 23. The wicked are ready to part with their money, though loved, that they may not suffer for their crimes. 24. The prudent man keeps the word of God continually in view. But the foolish man cannot fix his thoughts, nor pursue any purpose with steadiness. 25. Wicked children despise the authority of their father, and the tenderness of their mother. 26. It is very wrong to find fault for doing what is duty. 27,28. A man may show himself to be a wise man, by the good temper of his mind, and by the good government of his tongue. He is careful when he does speak, to speak to the purpose. God knows his heart, and the folly that is bound there; therefore he cannot be deceived in his judgment as men may be.He that exalteth his gate - i. e., Builds a stately house, indulges in arrogant ostentation. 21. (Compare Pr 23:24). Different words are rendered by "fool," both denoting stupidity and impiety. A fool; not a natural, but a wilful fool, or a wicked son.

The father; and consequently the mother also.

Hath no joy, which parents usually have in the birth of a child, and especially of a son; but hath great cause of sorrow, the contrary being implied in this and such-like expressions, as in Scripture, as Proverbs 10:2, &c., so also in profane authors; whose words see in my Latin Synopsis.

He that begetteth a fool doth it to his sorrow,.... As it proves in the issue; though it was joy to him when a man child was born, and took delight in him while in infancy and childhood, and promised himself much happiness in him when at years of discretion; but, instead of that, he departs from his education principles, despises all parental counsels and advice, and goes into all the extravagance of sin and folly; which is an heartbreaking to his godly and religious parents; for this is to be understood; not of an idiot, but of a wicked son, taking bad courses;

and the father of a fool hath no joy; in his son, but sorrow, and has scarce any joy or pleasure in anything else in all his enjoyments; the trouble he is filled with on his account embitters all he has, that he can take no satisfaction, or have any comfort of life; the concern for his son is uppermost in his thoughts, and hinders him from taking that pleasure which otherwise he might enjoy.

He that begetteth a fool doeth it to his sorrow: and the father of a fool hath no joy.
21. a fool … a fool] The Heb. word so rendered is not the same in the two clauses of the verse. The first word in the first clause describes the fool as dull or senseless, or as some think obstinate. The second word points him out as shameless, like Nabal, whose name (the Heb. word here) was descriptive of his character (1 Samuel 25:25). There is a third Heb. word, used more commonly than either of these in this Book, which regards a fool as one who is perverse, or as some render, weak.

Verse 21. - He that begetteth a fool doeth it to his sorrow (comp. ver. 25). The words for "fool" in the two clauses are different. Here it is kesil, which implies bold, self-confident folly, the worst form of the vies; in the second hemistich it is nabal, which rather denotes dulness and stupidity, a want of mental power. A conceited, offensive fool causes infinite trouble to his father, both from his need of constant correction, and the watchfulness required to repair the consequences of his foolish actions. There is also the grief at seeing instruction and warning thrown away on a worthless object. Septuagint, "The heart of a fool is a pain to him who possesseth it." The father of a fool hath no joy. The contrast in the case of a good son is seen in Proverbs 15:20 and Proverbs 23:24. The LXX. adds a clause from Proverbs 10:1, with the view of improving the parallelism, "But a prudent son rejoiceth his mother." Proverbs 17:21The first three parts of the old Solomonic Book of Proverbs ((1) Proverbs 10-12; (2) 13:1-15:19; (3) 15:20-17:20) are now followed by the fourth part. We recognise it as striking the same keynote as Proverbs 10:1. In Proverbs 17:21 it resounds once more, here commencing a part; there, Proverbs 10:1, beginning the second group of proverbs. The first closes, as it begins, with a proverb of the fool.

21 He that begetteth a fool, it is to his sorrow;

     And the father of a fool hath no joy.

It is admissible to supply ילדו, developing itself from ילד, before לתוּגה לו (vid., regarding this passive formation, at Proverbs 10:1, cf. Proverbs 14:13), as at Isaiah 66:3, מעלה (Fl.: in maerorem sibi genuit h. e. ideo videtur genuisse ut sibi maerorem crearet); but not less admissible is it to interpret לתוגה לו as a noun-clause corresponding to the ולא־ישׂמח (thus to be written with Makkeph): it brings grief to him. According as one understands this as an expectation, or as a consequence, ילד, as at Proverbs 23:24, is rendered either qui gignit or qui genuit. With נבל, seldom occurring in the Book of Proverbs (only here and at Proverbs 17:7), כּסיל, occurring not unfrequently, is interchanged. Schultens rightly defines the latter etymologically: marcidus h. e. qui ad virtutem, pietatem, vigorem omnem vitae spiritualis medullitus emarcuit; and the former: elumbis et mollitie segnitieve fractus, the intellectually heavy and sluggish (cf. Arab. kasal, laziness; kaslân, the lazy).

(Note: Nldeke's assertion (Art. Orion in Schenkel's Bibel-Lexicon) that the Arab. kasal corresponds to the Hebr. כּשׁל proceeds from the twofold supposition, that the meaning to be lazy underlies the meaning to totter (vid., also Dietrich in Gesenius' Heb. Wrterbuch), and that the Hebr. ס must correspond with the Arab. š. The former supposition is untenable, the latter is far removed (cf. e.g., כּסּא and kursı̂, ספר and sifr, מסכּן and miskı̂n). The verb כּשׁל, Aram. תּקל, is unknown in the Arab.)

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