Proverbs 20:25
It is a snare to the man who devours that which is holy, and after vows to make enquiry.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(25) It is a snare to a man who devoureth that which is holy.—Rather, It is a snare for a man (i.e., gets him into trouble) rashly to say, It is dedicated” (i.e., when he thoughtlessly dedicates anything to God), and after he has vowed to enquire (whether he can keep his word). (Comp. Ecclesiasticus 5:2; Ecclesiasticus 5:4-6.)

Proverbs 20:25. It is a snare to the man who devoureth that which is holy — He is insnared in a crime, who takes away, and applies to his own use, any thing consecrated to God, and intended to be used in support of his worship and service; or who alienates any holy thing, and employs it to a secular purpose, which is here called devouring it: and after vows to make inquiry — After a man hath made vows, to consider whether he can possibly, or may lawfully, keep them; or to inquire of others for ways to break them, and to satisfy his conscience in so doing. “There are two pieces of profaneness,” says Bishop Patrick, in his paraphrase on this verse, “which entangle him that is guilty of them in great troubles, nay, often bring ruin upon him: 1st, When he makes no distinction between things holy and common; but converts that which was consecrated to God (the first-fruits, suppose, or such like sacred thing) to his own proper use; and, 2d, When he vows, in his distress, to give something unto God, but having obtained his desires, studies how he may be loosed from his obligations.”20:23. A bargain made by fraud will prove a losing bargain in the end. 24. How can we form plans, and conduct business, independently of the Lord? 25. The evasions men often use with their own consciences show how false and deceitful man is. 26. Justice should crush the wicked, and separate them from the virtuous. 27. The rational soul and conscience are as a lamp within us, which should be used in examining our dispositions and motives with the revealed will of God. 28. Mercy and truth are the glories of God's throne. 29. Both young and old have their advantages; and let neither despise or envy the other.Better, It is a snare to a man to utter a vow (of consecration) rashly, and after vows to inquire whether he can fulfill them. Both clauses are a protest against the besetting sin of rash and hasty vows. Compare the marginal reference. 25. devoureth … holy—or, better, "who rashly speaks promises," or "devotes what is holy," consecrating any thing. This suits better the last clause, which expresses a similar view of the results of rashly vowing. It is a snare; it brings guilt and God’s curse and vengeance upon him.

That which is holy, i.e. those meats or drinks which were devoted or consecrated to God; under which one kind he comprehends and forbids all alienation of sacred or dedicated things from God to a man’s private use or benefit; of which see Leviticus 27:9 Deu 23:21 Malachi 3:8,9 Ac 5:1, &c.

After vows to make inquiry; after a man hath made vows to consider whether he can possibly or may lawfullly keep them, and to invent or inquire of others all ways possible to break his vow, and to satisfy or deceive his conscience in so doing; which inquiry is justly censured as a sin and snare, because it is an evidence of a covetous or irreligious mind, and is the ready way and first step towards the open violation of it. It is a snare to the man who devoureth that which is holy,.... Which is separated to sacred uses, is devoted to the Lord, as firstfruits, tithes, offerings, &c. which if a man converts to his own use is sacrilege, and this is a sin and a snare, and brings ruin on him; see Malachi 3:8;

and after vows to make inquiry: that is a sin and a snare also; a man should first inquire before he vows, whether it is right for him to make a vow, and whether he is able to keep it; it is too late after the vow is made to inquire about the lawfulness or expedience of it, and how to find out ways and means to dissolve it and be clear of it; for it is better not to vow, than to vow and not pay, Ecclesiastes 5:4; when a thing is in a man's own hands, he may do what he will; but when he has devoted it to another use, it is no longer in his power; as the case of Ananias and Sapphira shows, Acts 5:1.

It is a snare to the man who {g} devoureth that which is holy, and after vows to make enquiry.

(g) That is, to apply or take for his own use, that which was appointed to God's and then ask how he may be exempted from the fault.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
25. who devoureth that which is holy] This rendering is retained in R.V. marg., as is also another, rashly to utter holy words. But it is better to render, rashly to say, It is holy (R.V. text), i.e. consecrated (comp. Corban, Mark 7:11). The sequence is thus preserved: and after vows (of consecration, thus rashly taken) to make enquiry (as to the wisdom or possibility of keeping them). παγὶς ἀνδρὶ ταχύ τι τῶν ἰδίων ἁγιάσαι, LXX.Verse 25. - It is a snare to the man who devoureth that which is holy. This verse, which is plainly a warning against rash vows, has received more than one interpretation. The Vulgate has, Ruina est homini devorare sanctos, which is explained to mean that it is destruction for a man to persecute the saints of God. But the word devorare is not certain, as the manuscripts vary between this and four other readings, viz. devotares, denotare, devovere, and devocare. The Authorized Version signifies that it is a sin to take for one's own consumption things dedicated to God, as firstfruits, the priests' portions, etc.: or a man's snare, i.e. his covetousness (1 Timothy 6:9), leads him to commit sacrilege. So Wordsworth. But it is best, with Delitzsch, to take יָלַע (yala) as the abbreviated future of לוּע or לָעַע, "to speak rashly;" and then kodesh, "holiness," will be an exclamation, like korban (Mark 7:11). The clause will then run, "It is a snare to a man rashly to cry, Holiness!" equivalent to "It is holy!" i.e. to use the formula for consecrating something to holy purposes. Septuagint, "It is a snare to a man hastily to consecrate something of his own" (comp. Ecclesiastes 5:2, 4, etc.). And after vows to make inquiry; i.e. after he has made his vow, to begin to consider whether he can fulfil it or not. This is a snare to a man, strangles his conscience, and leads him into the grievous sins of perjury and sacrilege. Septuagint, "For after vowing ensueth repentance." 19 He that goeth out gossiping revealeth a secret;

     And the babbler have nothing to do.

Luther otherwise (like Hitzig) -

Be not complicated with him who revealeth a secret,

And with the slanderer, and with the false (better: loquacious) mouth,

so that ל and the warning apply to the threefold description, a rendering which Kimchi also, and Immanuel, and others at least suggest. But in connection with Proverbs 11:13, the first line has the force of a judicium, which includes the warning to entrust nothing to a babbler which ought to be kept silent. Write גּולה סּוד, as found in Codd. and old Edd., with Munach on the penultima, on which the tone is thrown back, and Dagesh to ס, after the rule of the דחיק (Gesen. 20, 2a), altogether like קונה לב, Proverbs 15:32. 19b the Venet. translates after the first meaning of the word by Kimchi, τῷ ἀπαταιῶνι τοῖς χείλεσι, to him who slanders and befools, for it thus improves Theodotion's τῷ ἀπατῶντι τὰ χείλη αὐτοῦ. But פּתה means, Job 5:2 - cf. Hosea 7:11 - not him who befools another, but him who is befooled, is slandered, by another (Aben Ezra: שׁיפתוהו אחרים), with which שׂפתיו here does not agree. But now he who is easily befooled is called פּתה, as being open to influence (susceptible), patens; and if this particip. is used, as here, transitively, and, on account of the object שׂפתיו standing near cannot possibly be equivalent to מפתּה, the usage of the language also just noticed is against it, then it means patefaciens or dilatans (cf. הפתּה, Genesis 9:27, Targ. אפתּי equals הרחיב), and places itself as synon. to פשׂק, Proverbs 13:3; thus one is called who does not close his mouth, who cannot hold his mouth, who always idly babbles, and is therefore, because he can keep nothing to himself, a dangerous companion. The Complut. rightly translates: μετὰ πλατύνοντος τὰ ἑαυτοῦ μὴ μίχθητι χείλη.

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