Proverbs 2:4
If you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hid treasures;
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(4) If thou seekest her as silver.—That the process of mining was understood long before the time of Solomon, is proved by the remains of copper mines discovered in the peninsula of Sinai, and the gold mines in the Bisháree desert of Egypt. Rock inscriptions have been found near the former, dating from a great age, in the opinion of Lepsius from 4000 B.C. (See the article “Mines,” in Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible; comp. also the description in Job 28:1-11.) Silver was brought to Solomon from Arabia (2Chronicles 9:14) and Tarshish (2Chronicles 9:21), probably Tartessus, in Spain.

Searchest for her as for hid treasures.—From the great insecurity of life and property in Eastern countries, the hiding of treasures in the earth has always been of frequent occurrence. It would often, no doubt, happen that the owner would die without disclosing the place of concealment to any one else, and the treasure thus be lost. Hunting after such hoards has in consequence been always of the keenest interest to Orientals, and as such furnishes the groundwork for one of our Lord’s parables (Matthew 13:44).

2:1-9 Those who earnestly seek heavenly wisdom, will never complain that they have lost their labour; and the freeness of the gift does not do away the necessity of our diligence, Joh 6:27. Let them seek, and they shall find it; let them ask, and it shall be given them. Observe who are thus favoured. They are the righteous, on whom the image of God is renewed, which consists in righteousness. If we depend upon God, and seek to him for wisdom, he will enable us to keep the paths of judgment.Note the illustrations.

(1) Contact with Phoenician commerce, and joint expeditions in ships of Tarshish (see Psalm 72:10 note), had made the Israelites familiar with the risks and the enterprise of the miller's life. Compare Job 28:p>(2) The treasure hidden in a field, is the second point of comparison. Such treasure-seeking has always been characteristic of the East. Compare Matthew 13:44.

4. There must be earnest prayer and effort. With the same unwearied diligence, and earnest desire, and patient expectation under all delays, disappointments, and difficulties, which worldlings use in the purchase of riches, or in digging in mines of silver. If thou seekest her as silver,.... That is, wisdom, knowledge, and understanding; which all signify and relate unto one and the same thing, expressed here by "her": namely, the doctrine of wisdom, or Christ; that is, the Gospel, and a spiritual and experimental knowledge and understanding of it, and the truths thereof; which are as desirable and valuable as silver, and more so; and which may be fitly compared to it, and be preferred before it, for their purity, solidity, and duration; see Psalm 119:72; and are to be sought after with as much and more eagerness, affection, and diligence, as silver is by those who are most covetous of it, Proverbs 8:10;

and searchest for her as for hid treasures; the Gospel is a treasure, 2 Corinthians 4:7; an accumulation of riches. It contains rich truths, things valuable for their antiquity; for being far fetched and dearly bought, coming from heaven, and sealed by the blood of Christ, and the holy martyrs of Jesus; and for the abundance of them; there are treasures of wisdom and knowledge in the Gospel, and in Christ the sum and substance of it, who is full of truth as well as grace, Colossians 2:3. It contains rich blessings of grace, such as are spiritual, solid, and substantial, sure and irreversible; and a multitude of them, Romans 15:29; and also rich promises, exceeding great and precious ones; which are absolute and unconditional, suited to the various cases of God's people, and sure to all the seed: and it reveals the riches of God's goodness, his special goodness in Christ; the unsearchable riches of Christ; and the riches both of grace and glory. And under this notion of a treasure is it to be searched for, and as an hid treasure; in allusion to what is laid up in the cabinets of princes, or lies in the bowels of the earth, as precious stones: Pliny (m) says, that "topazin", in the language of the Troglodytes, has the signification of seeking, because "topazes" are diligently sought for and searched after; See Gill on Job 28:19. The Gospel, and the truths of it, were greatly hid under the former dispensation from the Gentile world, and very much from the Jews themselves; being wrapped up in dark prophecies, obscure hints, and shadowy types and sacrifices; and are now, and always were, entirely hid from the wicked and reprobate part of the world, from them that are lost, and from God's own elect before conversion. This is "the fellowship of the mystery" that was "hid in God", in his heart, from all eternity, Ephesians 3:9, the truths of it are the "treasures of wisdom and knowledge hid" in Christ, Colossians 2:3; and likewise the "treasure hid in the field" of the Scriptures, Matthew 22:44; which therefore are to be searched into for them, with like labour and resolution with which men dig into the earth, to find the rich ore that is in the bowels of it: and this should be done by diligent reading them; by frequent and deep meditation on them; by constant hearing the truths of the Gospel preached; by earnest prayer for the illumination of the divine Spirit to understand them; and by all the help of the writings of good men, and conversation with them, that can be had. These are things to be sought for and searched after, in the first place, in the early time of life; and with the utmost diligence and labour, as being of the greatest moment and importance.

(m) Nat. Hist. l. 37. c. 8.

If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid {d} treasures;

(d) Showing that no labour must be spared.

4. as silver … hid treasures] It has been supposed that there is reference here to the eagerness and effort connected with the discovery and working of a silver mine, and to the search for treasure hidden in the earth. See, for example, Dean Plumptre’s interesting note on this verse in the Speaker’s Commentary. It may well be doubted, however, whether by silver be not rather meant, money, or wealth, generally. LXX. ἀργύριον, Vulg. pecuniam. Comp. φιλαργυρία, 1 Timothy 6:10; ἀφιλάργυρος, Hebrews 13:5. (See Smith’s Bible Dict., Art. Silver: “its chief use was as a medium of exchange, and throughout the O.T. we find ceseph, silver, used for money, like the Fr. argent.”) We are told that silver, as a metal, was “nothing accounted of in the days of Solomon,” 1 Kings 10:21. So again it is doubtful whether any great stress is to be laid upon “hid treasures” (Matthew 13:44). The word here is lit. “hidden things,” and so, treasures, because we hide them for safety (Genesis 43:23, A.V. and R.V. Comp. Isaiah 45:3). The LXX. render ἐὰνὡς θησαυροὺς ἐξερευνήσῃς, Vulg. si … sicut thesauros effoderis. It is rather the value set upon Wisdom, than the difficulty of search for her that is here in view. She is a gift, after all (Proverbs 2:6), though a gift to those only who seek her diligently (Luke 11:5-13).Verse 4. - If thou seekest, etc. The climax in the series of conditions is reached in this verse; and the imagery employed in both clauses indicates that the search after Wisdom is to be persevering, unrelaxing, and diligent, like the unremitting toil and labour with which men carry on mining operations. "To seek" (בָּקַשׁ, bakash) in the original is properly "to seek diligently" (piel), and is kindred to "to search" (קָפַשׂ, khaphas), which again is equivalent to "to dig" (חָפַר, khaphar), the Vulgate effodere, "to dig out." Compare the expression in Job 3:21, "And dig for it more than for hid treasures." We trace in these verbs the idea in the mind of the teacher indicated above, which finds expression also in the object of the search, the silver, in its crude state, and the hidden treasures (מַטְמֹנִים mat'monim), i.e. the treasures of gold, silver, and precious metal concealed in the earth. The comparison here made between the search for Wisdom and the search for the hidden treasures of the earth was not unfamiliar to the Hebrew mind, as it is found worked out with great beauty of detail in the twenty-eighth chapter of Job. Again, the comparison of Wisdom with things most precious in the estimation of man is natural and common, and occurs in Psalm 119:72; Job 28:15-19. The same ideas and comparisons here used are presented to us in the New Testament teaching, in our Lord's parable of the man who finds the hid treasure in the field, and, in the phraseology of St. Paul, who speaks of "all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge," and of "the unsearchable riches of Christ." "Divine knowledge is an inexhaustible mine of precious ore" (Wardlaw). The language of the Proverbs would receive additional three from the circumstances of the reign of Solomon, the most splendid and prosperous era in the annals of the Jewish national history, in the means taken to secure the treasures of other and distant countries; the wealth and the riches of that reign (see 2 Chronicles 9:20-22) would help to bring out the idea of the superlative value of Wisdom. In no era of the Jewish national history was there such abundance of riches, such splendid prosperity, as in the reign of Solomon, whose ships of Tarshish brought "gold and silver" (see 2 Chronicles 9:20-22), and this state of things would give point to the comparisons which the teacher uses in our text. Then - this sublime preacher in the streets continues - distress shall teach them to pray:

28 Then shall they call on me, and I will not answer;

     They shall early seek after me, and not find me;

29 Because that they hated knowledge,

     And did not choose the fear of Jahve.

30 They have not yielded to my counsel,

     Despised all my reproof:

31 Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their way,

     And satiate themselves with their own counsels.

In the full emphatic forms, יקראנני, they shall call on me, ישׁחרנני, they shall seek me, and ימצאנני, they shall find me, the suffix ני may be joined to the old plur. ending ûn (Gesenius, Olshausen, Bttcher); but open forms like יברכנהוּ, He will bless him,יכבּדנני, He will honour me (from יכבּדנּי), and the like, rather favour the conclusion that נ is epenthetic (Ew. 250, b).

(Note: In the Codd. יקראנני is written; in this case the Metheg indicates the tone syllable: vid., Torath Emeth, p. 7 note, p. 21 note; and Accentssystem, ii. 1, note. In ישׁחרנני the Rebia is to be placed over the ר. In the Silluk-word ימצאנני it appears undoubtedly that the form is to be spoken as Milel, i.e., with tone on the penult.)

The address here takes the form of a declaration: Stultos nunc indignos censet ulteriori alloquio (Mich.). It is that laughter and scorn, Proverbs 1:26, which here sounds forth from the address of the Judge regarding the incorrigible. שׁחר is denom. of שׁחר, to go out and to seek with the morning twilight, as also בּקּר, Psalm 27:5, perhaps to appear early, and usually (Arab.) bakar (I, II, IV), to rise early, to be zealous (Lane: "He hastened to do or accomplish, or attain the thing needed"). Zckler, with Hitzig, erroneously regards Proverbs 1:29, Proverbs 1:30 as the antecedent to Proverbs 1:31. With ויאכלוּ, "and they shall eat," the futt. announcing judgment are continued from Proverbs 1:28; cf. Deuteronomy 28:46-48. The conclusion after תּהת כּי, "therefore because," or as usually expressed (except here and Deuteronomy 4:37, cf. Genesis 4:25), תּהת אשׁר (ἀνθ ̓ ὧν), is otherwise characterized, Deuteronomy 22:29; 2 Chronicles 21:12; and besides, תהת אשׁר stands after (e.g., 1 Samuel 26:21; 2 Kings 22:17; Jeremiah 29:19) oftener than before the principal clause. בּחר combines in itself the meanings of eligere and diligere (Fl.). The construction of אבה ל (to be inclining towards) follows that of the analogous שׁמע ל (to hear). Each one eats of the fruit of his way - good fruit of good ways (Isaiah 3:10), and evil fruit of evil ways. "The מן, 31b, introduces the object from which, as a whole, that which one eats, and with which he is satisfied, is taken as a part, or the object from which, as from a fountain, satisfaction flows forth" (Fl.). In correct texts, ויאכלוּ has the accent Dech, and at the same time Munach as its servant. Regarding the laws of punctuation, according to which וּממּעצתיהם (with Munach on the tone-syllable, Tarcha on the antepenult, and Metheg before the Chateph-Pathach) is to be written, see Baer's Torath Emeth, p. 11, Accentssystem, iv. 4. Norzi accents the word incorrectly with Rebia Mugrash. With the exception of Proverbs 22:22, the pluralet

(Note: A plur. denoting unity in the circumstances, and a similarity in the relations of time and space.)

מועצות has always the meaning of ungodly counsels.

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