Proverbs 20:21
An inheritance may be gotten hastily at the beginning; but the end thereof shall not be blessed.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(21) The end thereof shall not be blessed.—Comp. Proverbs 28:20 : the evil means by which he acquired the possession will, at the last, be visited upon him. Thus Jacob was punished severely for the selfishness by which he gained the birthright, and for the fraud by which he obtained the blessing belonging to his brother.

Proverbs 20:21. An inheritance may be gotten hastily — An estate is sometimes soon gained, even in the very beginning of a man’s labours for it: in which case, it may be presumed that some indirect and unrighteous means have been used for the getting of it, because riches are very seldom given by God, or gotten by men, without men’s diligence. But this, as well as many other proverbs, are to be understood of the common course of things, which may admit of many exceptions. For sometimes merchants or others gain a large property speedily, suppose by a successful voyage, or by some other prosperous event. But the end thereof shall not be blessed — Namely, the end of what was not righteously obtained: it was suddenly raised, and shall be as suddenly ruined: it shall wither by God’s just judgment, and come to nothing.20:7. A good man is not liable to uneasiness in contriving what he shall do, or in reflecting on what he has done, as those who walk in deceit. And his family fare better for his sake. 8. If great men are good men, they may do much good, and prevent very much evil. 9. Some can say, Through grace, we are cleaner than we have been; but it was the work of the Holy Spirit. 10. See the various deceits men use, of which the love of money is the root. The Lord will not bless what is thus gotten. 11. Parents should observe their children, that they may manage them accordingly. 12. All our powers and faculties are from God, and are to be employed for him. 13. Those that indulge themselves, may expect to want necessaries, which should have been gotten by honest labour. 14. Men use arts to get a good bargain, and to buy cheap; whereas a man ought to be ashamed of a fraud and a lie. 15. He that prefers true knowledge to riches, follows the ways of religion and happiness. If we really believed this truth, the word of God would be valued as it deserves, and the world would lose its tempting influence. 16. Those ruin themselves who entangle themselves in rash suretiship. Also those who are in league with abandoned women. Place no confidence in either. 17. Wealth gotten by fraud may be sweet, for the carnal mind takes pleasure in the success of wicked devices; but it will be bitter in the reflection. 18. Especially we need advice in spiritual warfare. The word and Spirit of God are the best counsellors in every point. 19. Those dearly buy their own praise, who put confidence in a man because he speaks fairly. 20. An undutiful child will become very miserable. Never let him expect any peace or comfort. 21. An estate suddenly raised, is often as suddenly ruined. 22. Wait on the Lord, attend his pleasure, and he will protect thee.Or, An inheritance gotten hastily (greedily sought after by unjust means) at the beginning, the end thereof shall not be blessed. Another reading gives, "an inheritance loathed, (compare Zechariah 11:8), or with a curse upon it." The King James Version agrees with the versions. 21. gotten hastily—contrary to God's providence (Pr 28:20), implying its unjust or easy attainment; hence the man is punished, or spends freely what he got easily (compare Pr 20:17). An inheritance may be gotten hastily at the beginning; an estate sometimes is got suddenly, in the very beginning of a man’s labours for it; in which case it may be presumed that some indirect and unrighteous courses were used for the getting of it, because riches are very seldom given by God, or gotten by men, without men’s diligence. But this, as well as many other proverbs, are to be understood of the common course, although it admit of some exceptions. For sometimes merchants or others get great estates speedily by one happy voyage, or by some other prosperous event. This translation follows the Hebrew marginal reading, but according to the textual reading it may be thus rendered and understood; An inheritance gotten in the beginning (to wit, of a man’s endeavours) is abominable, to wit, unto God, being supposed to be unjustly gotten, as was now said.

The end thereof shall not be blessed; at last it shall be cursed and wither by God’s just judgment. An inheritance may be gotten hastily at the beginning,.... Of a man's setting out in the world in trade and business; and which sometimes is got lawfully, and this must be excepted from this proverb; but generally what is got hastily and in a short time is got unlawfully, and so does not prosper. Some Jewish interpreters, as Gersom, understand it of an inheritance which comes to persons from their friends, without any labour or industry of theirs; and which they are not careful to keep, but, as it lightly comes, it lightly goes: here is a various reading; our version follows the marginal reading, and which is followed by the Targum, Jarchi, and Gersom, and by the Septuagint, Syriac, and Vulgate Latin versions; but the written text is, "an inheritance loathsome" or "abominable"; an ill gotten one, so the word is used in Zechariah 11:8. Schultens, from the use of the word in the Arabic language, which signifies to be covetous, renders it "covetously got" or "possessed" (i); and so the Arabic version is, "an inheritance greedily desired", obtained through covetousness and illicit practices; but in his late commentary on this book he renders the passage, by the help of Arabism, "an inheritance smitten with the curse of sordidness", as being sordidly got and enjoyed;

but the end thereof shall not be blessed; it will not continue, it will be taken away from them, and put into some other hands. Jarchi illustrates it by the tribes of Gad and Reuben making haste to take their part on the other side Jordan before their brethren, and were the first that were carried captive.

(i) Animadv. ad V. T. p. 248.

An inheritance may be gotten hastily at the beginning; but the end thereof shall not be blessed.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
21. hastily] Comp. Proverbs 28:20; Proverbs 28:22.Verse 21. - An inheritance may be gotten hastily at the beginning - or, which in the beginning, is obtained in haste - but the end thereof shall not be blessed; or, its end shall not be blessed. The Khetib gives מְבֹהֶלֶת, which (comp. Zechariah 11:8) may mean "detested," but this gives no sense; it is better, with the Keri, to replace kheth with he, and read מְבֹהֶלֶת (meboheleth), "hastened," "hastily acquired" (see Proverbs 13:11, Septuagint). The maxim, taken in connection with the preceding verse, may apply to a bad son who thinks his parents live too long, and by violence robs them of their possessions; or to one who, like the prodigal in the parable, demands prematurely his portion of the paternal goods. But it may also be taken generally as denouncing the fate of those who make haste to be rich, being unscrupulous as to the means by which they gain wealth (see on Proverbs 23:11; 28:20, 22). A Greek gnome says roundly -

Οὐδεὶς ἐπλούτησεν ταχέως δίκαιος ὤν.

"No righteous man e'er grew rich suddenly." 15 There is indeed gold, and many pearls;

     But a precious treasure are lips full of knowledge.

In order to find a connection between this proverb and that which precedes, we need only be reminded of the parable of the merchantman who sought goodly pearls, Matthew 13:45. The proverb rises to a climax: there is gold, and there are pearls in abundance, the one of which has always a higher value than the other; but intelligent lips are above all such jewels - they are a precious treasure, which gold and all pearls cannot equal. In a similar manner the N.T. places the one pearl above the many goodly pearls. So might דעת (chokma) be called the pearl above all pearls (Proverbs 3:15; Proverbs 8:11); but the lips as the organ of knowledge are fittingly compared with a precious vessel, a vessel of more precious substance than gold and pearls are.

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