Proverbs 2:18
For her house inclineth unto death, and her paths unto the dead.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(18) For her house inclineth . . .—Rather, she sinks down with her house: house and all, like Dathan and Abiram.

Unto the dead.—In Hebrew the Rephāîm. The word may signify those “at rest” (comp. Job 3:17 : “There the weary are at rest”); or the “weak.” (Comp. Isaiah 14:10 : “Art thou also become weak as we?”)

Proverbs 2:18-19. For her house inclineth unto death — Conversation with her (which was most usual in her own house) is the certain way to death, which it brings many ways, and undoubtedly, without repentance, to God’s wrath and the second death. None that go unto her — That is, few or none; a hyperbolical expression, used Isaiah 64:7; return again — From her and from this wicked way unto God and his ways. Whoremongers and adulterers are very rarely brought to repentance, but are generally hardened by the power and deceitfulness of their sin, and by God’s just judgment, peculiarly inflicted upon such persons, Hebrews 13:4; neither take they hold of the paths of life — Of those courses which lead to true and eternal life and happiness.

2:10-22 If we are truly wise, we shall be careful to avoid all evil company and evil practices. When wisdom has dominion over us, then it not only fills the head, but enters into the heart, and will preserve, both against corruptions within and temptations without. The ways of sin are ways of darkness, uncomfortable and unsafe: what fools are those who leave the plain, pleasant, lightsome paths of uprightness, to walk in such ways! They take pleasure in sin; both in committing it, and in seeing others commit it. Every wise man will shun such company. True wisdom will also preserve from those who lead to fleshly lusts, which defile the body, that living temple, and war against the soul. These are evils which excite the sorrow of every serious mind, and cause every reflecting parent to look upon his children with anxiety, lest they should be entangled in such fatal snares. Let the sufferings of others be our warnings. Our Lord Jesus deters from sinful pleasures, by the everlasting torments which follow them. It is very rare that any who are caught in this snare of the devil, recover themselves; so much is the heart hardened, and the mind blinded, by the deceitfulness of this sin. Many think that this caution, besides the literal sense, is to be understood as a caution against idolatry, and subjecting the soul to the body, by seeking any forbidden object. The righteous must leave the earth as well as the wicked; but the earth is a very different thing to them. To the wicked it is all the heaven they ever shall have; to the righteous it is the place of preparation for heaven. And is it all one to us, whether we share with the wicked in the miseries of their latter end, or share those everlasting joys that shall crown believers?The house of the adulteress is as Hades, the realm of death, haunted by the spectral shadows of the dead (Rephaim, see the Psalm 88:10 note), who have perished there. 18. inclineth—sinks down (compare Nu 13:31).

the dead—or shades of the departed (Ps 88:10).

Her house inclineth unto death, conversation with her (which was most free and usual in her own house) is the ready and certain way to death, which it brings many ways; by wasting a man’s vital spirits, and shortening his life; by exposing him to many and dangerous diseases, which physicians have declared and proved to be the effects of inordinate lust; as also to the fury of jealous husbands or friends, and sometimes to the sword of civil justice, and undoubtedly, without repentance, to God’s wrath and the second death. This is here mentioned as one great privilege and blessed fruit of wisdom, to be delivered from this evil.

Unto the dead; or, as the Chaldee and some others render it, unto the giants, to wit, those rebellious giants, Genesis 6:4; or, as others, unto the damned, or unto hell. See for this word Job 7:9 Psalm 88:11 Proverbs 9:18 21:16.

For her house inclineth unto death,.... Bends, verges, and points that way; it lies in the way to death, and brings unto it, and sinks into it as into a ditch; or all that are in her house, that are familiar with her, live and dwell with her, and commit wickedness with her; these incline or are liable to lose, and do lose, their name, character, and reputation, which is a death upon them; and bring diseases upon their bodies, which issue in corporeal death; or are in danger of dying by the hand of the injured husband, or the civil magistrate; and also are exposed unto eternal death: or "she inclines to death, which is her house" (x), so Aben Ezra and Kimchi; and to which the Targum agrees,

"for in the pit of death is her house:''

that is, the house she at last comes to and must dwell in, and all that are ensnared by her; see Proverbs 5:5; and the second death will be the portion of the whore of Rome and all her followers, Revelation 14:10;

and her paths unto the dead; that is, her evil ways in which she walks, and into which she draws others to join with her; these lead both her and them to the "damned" (y) in hell, to keep company with them, and be punished as they are: the word "rephaim", here used, sometimes signifies "giants", and so the Targum renders it here; and may refer to the giants of the old world, who were cut off for their debauchery and uncleanness, Genesis 6:4; and with whom such persons shall be for ever.

(x) "ad mortem quoad domum suam", Cocceius; "ad mortem domum suam", Gejerus; "quod ad domum suam", Michaelis. (y) "ad damnatos", Tigurine version; "ad orcinos", Schultens.

For her {m} house inclineth unto death, and her paths unto {n} the dead.

(m) Her acquaintance with her spirits and they that haunt her.

(n) To them who are dead in body and soul.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
18. her house &c.] It is a steep descent, ending in death. The rendering of R.V. marg., she sinketh down unto death which is her house, is less forcible and impairs the parallelism.

the dead] Lit. the Rephaim. The Rephaim were among the Aborigines of Canaan (Genesis 14:5; Genesis 15:20) and were people of giant stature (Deuteronomy 2:11; Deuteronomy 2:20-21, R.V.). They may have come to be identified in the popular mind in the dim retrospect of the past, with the shadowy spectres that loomed large in Sheol (Isaiah 14:9, R.V. marg.). See Smith’s Dict. of Bible, Art. Rephaim.

Verse 18. - For her house inclineth unto death; rather, she sinks down to death together with her house (Bottcher, Delitzsch). The objection to the Authorized Version is that it does not tbllow the construction of the original, the verb "sinks down" (שָׁחָה, shakhah) being feminine, while "house" (בָיִת, bayith) is invariably masculine. Aben Ezra translates, "She sinks down to death, (which is to be) her house;" but it seems better to regard "her house" as an adjunct of the strange woman. Her house includes all who belong to her. She and they are involved in the same fate. The Authorized Version is evidently influenced by the Vulgate, Inclinata est enim ad mortem domus ejus, "For her house is inclined to death." The LXX. gives a different rendering, Ἕθετο γὰρ παρὰ τῷ θανάτῳ τὸν οϊκον αὐτῆς, "For she hath placed her house beside death." So the Arabic. The "for" (כִּי, ki) refers back to ver. 16, and indicates how great is the deliverance effected by wisdom. The meaning of the passage is aptly illustrated by Proverbs 7:27, "Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death." And her paths unto the dead. The dead (רְפָאִים, r'phaim) are properly the quiet, or the feeble. They are the shadowy inhabitants or shades of Hades, the inferi of the Vulgate, and are here put for Sheol itself. Compare the ἔδωλα καμνόντων of Homer, and the umbrae, "shades," of Virgil. The word occurs again in Proverbs 9:18; Proverbs 21:16; and in Psalm 88:11; Isaiah 26:14, 19; Job 26:5. Proverbs 2:1817 Who forsakes the companion of her youth,

     And forgets the covenant of her God;

18 For she sinks down to death together with her house,

     And to the shadow of Hades her paths -

19 All they who go to her return not again,

     And reach not the paths of life

אלּוּף, as here used, has nothing to do with the phylarch-name, similar in sound, which is a denom. of אלף; but it comes immediately from אלף, to accustom oneself to a person or cause, to be familiar therewith (while the Aram. אלף, ילף, to learn, Pa. to teach), and thus means, as the synon. of רע, the companion or familiar associate (vid., Schultens). Parallels such as Jeremiah 3:4 suggested to the old interpreters the allegorical explanation of the adulteress as the personification of the apostasy or of heresy. Proverbs 2:18 the lxx translate: ἔθετο γὰρ παρὰ τῷ θανάτῳ τὸν οἶκον αὐτῆς: she (the dissolute wife) has placed her house beside death (the abyss of death). This שׁחה [ἔθετο] is perhaps the original, for the text as it lies before us is doubtful, though, rightly understood, admissible. The accentuation marks בּיתהּ as the subject, but בּית is elsewhere always masc., and does not, like the rarer ארח, Proverbs 2:15, admit in usage a double gender; also, if the fem. usage were here introduced (Bertheau, Hitzig), then the predicate, even though ביתה were regarded as fem., might be, in conformity with rule, שׁח, as e.g., Isaiah 2:17. שׁחה is, as in Psalm 44:26, 3rd pr. of שׁוּח, Arab. sâkh, to go down, to sink; the emendation שׁחה (Joseph Kimchi) does not recommend itself on this account, that שׁחה and שׁחח mean, according to usage, to stoop or to bend down; and to interpret (Ralbag, השׁפילה) שׁחה transitively is inadmissible. For that reason Aben Ezra interprets ביתה as in apposition: to death, to its house; but then the poet in that case should say אל־שׁאול, for death is not a house. On the other hand, we cannot perceive in ביתה an accus. of the nearer definition (J. H. Michaelis, Fl.); the expression would here, as 15a, be refined without purpose. Bttcher has recognised ביתה as permutative, the personal subject: for she sinks down to death, her house, i.e., she herself, together with all that belongs to her; cf. the permutative of the subject, Job 29:3; Isaiah 29:23 (vid., comm. l.c.), and the more particularly statement of the object, Exodus 2:6, etc. Regarding רפאים, shadows of the under-world (from רפה, synon. חלה, weakened, or to become powerless), a word common to the Solomonic writings, vid., Comment. on Isaiah, p. 206. What Proverbs 2:18 says of the person of the adulteress, Proverbs 2:19 says of those who live with her ביתה, her house-companions. בּאיה, "those entering in to her," is equivalent to בּאים אליה; the participle of verbs eundi et veniendi takes the accusative object of the finite as gen. in st. constr., as e.g., Proverbs 1:12; Proverbs 2:7; Genesis 23:18; Genesis 9:10 (cf. Jeremiah 10:20). The ישׁוּבוּן, with the tone on the ult., is a protestation: there is no return for those who practise fornication,

(Note: One is here reminded of the expression in the Aeneid, vi. 127-129:

Revocare gradum superasque evadere ad auras,

Hoc opes, hoc labor est.

See also an impure but dreadful Talmudic story about a dissolute Rabbi, b. Aboda zara, 17a.)

and they do not reach the paths of life from which they have so widely strayed.

(Note: In correct texts ולא־ישיגו has the Makkeph. Vid., Torath Emeth, p. 41; Accentuationssystem, xx. 2.)

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