Proverbs 18:19
A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(19) A brother offended.—Or rather, wronged.

Their contentions.—Of such as have once been friends, “are like the bars of a castle,” or palace, forming an almost impassable barrier to reconciliation. The bitterness of quarrels between friends is proverbial.

Proverbs 18:19. A brother offended — Namely, by his brother’s unkindness or injury; is harder to be won — Or, is stronger and more impregnable; than a strong city — Which is hardly to be conquered. And their contentions are like the bars of a castle — Which are very strong, and not to be broken, as being made of iron or brass: see 1 Kings 4:13; Isaiah 45:2. The truth of this assertion is confirmed by the testimony of several learned men who affirm the same thing; and the reason of it is evident, because the nearness of the relation greatly heightens the provocation, and love abused frequently turns to extreme hatred. “There are no contentions,” says Bishop Patrick, in his paraphrase on this verse, “so sharp and obstinate as those among brethren; who grow so refractory when they have transgressed against each other, that it is easier to take a strong city, or to break the bars of a castle, than it is to compose their differences, and remove all the obstructions that lie in the way of their hearty reconciliation.” The LXX., but on what authority does not appear, render this, Αδελφος υπο αδελφου βοηθουμενος, &c., A brother assisted by a brother is powerful, as a strong and high city, and as a well-founded kingdom. And Bochart, following the Vulgate, renders the verse, “As a fortified city is a brother assisted by a brother, and they who mutually love one another are like the bars of a castle.” But certainly neither of these readings is consistent with the Hebrew text, which is literally and faithfully translated in our English Bible.18:19. Great care must be taken to prevent quarrels among relations and those under obligations to each other. Wisdom and grace make it easy to forgive; but corruption makes it difficult. 20. The belly is here put for the heart, as elsewhere; and what that is filled with, our satisfaction will be accordingly, and our inward peace. 21. Many a one has caused his own death, or the death of others, by a false or injurious tongue. 22. A good wife is a great blessing to a man, and it is a token of Divine favour. 23. Poverty tells men they must not order or demand. And at the throne of God's grace we are all poor, and must use entreaties. 24. Christ Jesus never will forsake those who trust in and love him. May we be such friends to others, for our Master's sake. Having loved his own, which were in the world, he loved them unto the end; and we are his friends if we do whatever he commands us, Joh 15:14.The meaning of the first clause is obtained in the King James Version by the insertion of the words in italics, and it seems on the whole to be the best. The Septuagint and Vulgate give an entirely different rendering, based, apparently, upon a different text. 19. No feuds so difficult of adjustment as those of relatives; hence great care should be used to avoid them. Offended, to wit, by his brother’s unkindness or injury.

Is harder to be won; or, is stronger, which is sufficiently understood by the mention of a strong city, to which he is compared; such ellipses being frequent in the Hebrew, as hath been noted before.

Than a strong city; which is hardly to be conquered.

Like the bars of a castle; which are very strong, and not to be broken, and make the castle strong, and hardly to be won. The truth of this assertion is confirmed by the testimony of Aristotle and other learned authors, who affirm the same fixing; and the reason of it is evident, because the nearness of the relation greatly heightens the provocation, and love abused frequently turns to extreme hatred. A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city,.... A fortified city may sooner be taken by an enemy, than one brother offended can be reconciled to another; their resentments against each other are keener than against another person that has offended them; and their love being turned into hatred, it is more bitter; and it is more difficult to compose differences between brethren than between enemies; wherefore such should take care that they fall not out by the way: this is true of brethren in a natural sense; as the cases of Abel and Cain, Jacob and Esau, Joseph and his brethren, Amnon and Absalom, and others, show; and of brethren in a spiritual sense, as Paul and Barnabas, Luther and Calvin, and others;

and their contentions are like the bars of a castle: which cannot be easily broken or cut asunder: so contentions, especially those among brethren, are with great difficulty made to cease, and their differences composed; they will stand it out against one another as long as a strong city, or a barred castle, against an enemy.

A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the {n} bars of a castle.

(n) Which for the strength of it will not bow or yield.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
19. offended] or injured, R.V. marg.

like the bars of a castle] forming an impassable barrier to reconciliation.Verse 19. - A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city. Something must be supplied on which the comparative notion min, "than," depends. So we may understand "resists more," or something similar. A brother or a once close friend, when injured or deceived, becomes a potent and irreconcilable enemy. The idea of the preceding verses is carried on, and the primary thought is still concerning lawsuits and matters brought before a judge. This is shown in the second clause by the use of the word "contentions" (midyanim). And their contentions are like the bars of a castle. They close the door against reconciliation, shut the heart against all feeling of tenderness. True it is, Ξαλεποὶ πόλεμοι ἀδελφῶν (Eurip., 'Fragm.'). And again, 'Iph. Aul.,' 376 -

Δεινὸν κασιγήτοισι γίγνεσθαι λόγους
Μάχας θ ὅταν ποτ ἐμπέσωσιν εἰς ἔριν. Aristotle also writes thus ('De Republ.,' 7:7): "If men receive no return from those to whom they have shown kindness, they deem themselves, not only defrauded of due gratitude, but actually injured. Whence it is said, 'Bitter are the quarrels of friends;' and, 'Those who love beyond measure also hate beyond measure.'" An English maxim gloomily decides, "Friendship once injured is forever lost." Pliny ('Hist. Nat.,' 37:4), "Ut adamas, si frangi contingat malleis, in minutissimas dissidit crustas, adeo ut vix oculis cerni queant: ita arctissima necessitudo, si quando contingat dirimi, in summam vertitur simultatem, et ex arctissimis foederibus, si semel rumpantur, maxima nascuntur dissidia." Ecclus. 6:9, "There is a friend, who being turned to enmity will also discover thy disgraceful strife," i.e. will disclose the quarrel which according to his representation will redound to thy discredit. The Vulgate and Septuagint have followed a different reading from that of the present Hebrew text: "Brother aided by brother is like a strong and high city, and he is powerful as a well founded palace," Septuagint. The last clause is rendered in the Vulgate. Et judicia quasi vectes urbium; where judicia means "lawsuits," legal disputes; these bar out friendship. The first member of the sentence in the Greek and Latin recalls Ecclesiastes 4:9, etc., "Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour," etc. St. Chrysostom, commenting on Ephesians 4:3 ('Hom.,' 9.), writes, "A glorious bond is this; with this bond let us bind ourselves together alike to one another and to God. This is a bond that bruises not, nor cramps the hands it binds, but it leaves them free, and gives them ample play and greater energy than those which are at liberty. The strong, if he be bound to the weak, will support him, and not suffer him to perish; and if again he be tied to the indolent, he will rather rouse and animate. 'Brother helped by brother,' it is said, 'is as a strong city.' This chain no distance of place can interrupt, neither heaven, nor earth, nor death, nor anything else, but it is more powerful and stronger than all things." 13 If one giveth an answer before he heareth,

     It is to him as folly and shame.

The part. stands here differently from what it does at Proverbs 13:18, where it is subj., and at Proverbs 17:14, where it is pred. of a simple sentence; it is also here, along with what appertains to it in accordance with the Semitic idiom, subj. to 13b (one who answers ... is one to whom this...); but, in accordance with our idiom, it becomes a hypothetical antecedent. For "to answer" one also uses השׁיב without addition; but the original full expression is השׁיב דּבר, reddere verbum, referre dictum (cf. ענה דּבר, Jeremiah 44:20, absol. in the cogn., Proverbs 15:28); דבר one may not understand of the word to which, but of the word with which, the reply is made. היא לו comprehends the meaning: it avails to him (ducitur ei), as well as it reaches to him (est ei). In Agricola's Fnfhundert Sprchen this proverb is given thus: Wer antwortet ehe er hret, der zaiget an sein torhait und wirdt ze schanden [he who answers before he hears shows his folly, and it is to him a shame]. But that would require the word to be יבושׁ, pudefiet; (היא לו) כּלמּה means that it becomes to him a ground of merited disgrace. "כּלמּה, properly wounding, i.e., shame (like atteinte son honneur), from כּלם (cogn. הלם), to strike, hit, wound" (Fl.). Sirach (11:8) warns against such rash talking, as well as against the rudeness of interrupting others.

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