Excellent speech becomes not a fool: much less do lying lips a prince.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Excellent speech becometh not a fool.—Rather, perhaps, Superfluous or pretentious words become not a vile person (nābhāl), such as is described in Isaiah 32:6. (Comp. 1Samuel 25:25.)
Much less do lying lips a prince.—Or, liberal person (Isaiah 32:8): noblesse oblige.Proverbs 17:7. Excellent speech — Either, 1st, Discourse concerning difficult, high, and excellent things, far above his capacity: or, 2d, Lofty, eloquent speech, which fools often affect: or, 3d, Virtuous and godly discourse; becometh not a fool — Either one properly so called, or, as the word fool is most commonly used in this book, a wicked man, whose actions give the lie to his expressions.Excellent speech; either,
1. Discourse of high and excellent things far above his capacity. Or,
2. Lofty or eloquent speech, which fools oft affect, Or,
3. Virtuous and godly discourse.
A fool; either properly so called; or, as this word is most commonly used in this book, a wicked man, whose actions give the lie to his expressions.
much less do lying lips a prince; they rather become a fool, as excellent speech does a prince; who neither should speak lies himself, nor encourage, but abhor them in others. The Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions, render it, "a just man": but the word more property signifies a liberal man, as it is rendered in Isaiah 32:8; where it stands opposed to a churl or covetous man: and some Jewish (f) writers think by the "fool" is meant such an one to whom a "lip of abundance" (g), as it may be rendered, is very unsuitable; or to talk of his abundance, when he makes no good use of what he has for himself or others; and so, on the other hand, it is very disagreeable to the character of an ingenuous and liberal man to promise and not perform, and never intended it. It is true of such who are made a "willing" people in the day of Christ's power, Psalm 110:3; where the same word is used as here; of his volunteers; that to speak lies one to another very ill becomes them; or to receive, or to speak, or profess false doctrines; for no lie is of the truth.Excellent speech becometh not a fool: much less do lying lips a prince.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)7. Excellent] Or, arrogant, R.V. marg.Verse 7. - Excellent speech becometh not a fool. שְׂפַת יָתֶר; verba composita, Vulgate, i.e. studied, complicated, expressions; χείλη πιστά, "faithful lips," Septuagint. Others translate, "arrogant," "pretentious." It is literally, a lip of excess or superabundance, and is best taken in the above sense, as arrogant or assuming. A nabal, a "vicious fool," ought not to flaunt his unwisdom and his iniquities before the eyes of men, but to keep them hidden as much as possible. As such presumptuous behaviour is incongruous in the case of a fool, much less do lying lips [become] a prince; a noble person, such a one as is called in Isaiah (Isaiah 32:8) "liberal," where the same word, nadib, is used. This is an illustration of the saying, "Noblesse oblige." Thus the Greek gnome -
Ἐλευθέρου γὰρ ἀνδρὸς ἀλήθειαν λέγειν
"A free man's part it is the truth to speak." To John the Good, King of France, is attributed the noble maxim which well became his chivalrous character, "Si la bonne foi etait bannie du reste du monde, il faudrait qu'on la retrouvat dans le coeur des rois" (Bonnechose, 'Hist. de France,' 1:310). "My son," says the rabbi in the Talmud, "avoid lying first of all; for a lie will tarnish the brightness of thy honour." For "prince," the Septuagint has, "a just man," which makes the maxim a mere truism. Proverbs 16:32 :
Better a dry piece of bread, and quietness therewith,
Than a house full of slain beasts with unquietness.
Similar to this in form and contents are Proverbs 15:16. and Proverbs 16:8. פּת חרבה is a piece of bread (פת, fem., as Proverbs 23:8) without savoury drink (Theodotion, καθ ̓ ἑαυτόν, i.e., nothing with it), cf. Leviticus 7:10, a meat-offering without the pouring out of oil. זבחים are not sacrificial gifts (Hitzig), but, as always, slain animals, i.e., either offerings or banquets of slain beasts; it is the old name of the שׁלמים (cf. Exodus 18:12; Exodus 24:5; Proverbs 7:14), part of which only were offered on the altar, and part presented as a banquet; and זבח (in contradist. to טבח, Leviticus 9:2; Leviticus 43:16) denotes generally any kind of consecrated festival in connection with the worship of God, 1 Samuel 20:29; cf. Genesis 31:54. "Festivals of hatred" are festivals with hatred. מלא is part. with object.-accus.; in general מלא forms a constructive, מלא occurs only once (Jeremiah 6:11), and מלאי not at all. We have already, Proverbs 7:14, remarked on the degenerating of the shelamı̂m feasts; from this proverb it is to be concluded that the merriment and the excitement bordering on intoxication (cf. with Hitzig, 1 Samuel 1:13 and 1 Samuel 1:3), such as frequently at the Kirmsen merry-makings, brought quarrels and strife, so that the poor who ate his dry bread in quiet peace could look on all this noise and tumult without envy.
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