Proverbs 21:18
The wicked shall be a ransom for the righteous, and the transgressor for the upright.
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(18) The wicked shall be a ransom for the righteous.—The righteous is “delivered out of trouble (Proverbs 11:8; comp. Isaiah 57:1), and the wicked cometh in his stead” to receive upon his own head God’s descending punishment. So it was with Mordecai and Haman.

Proverbs 21:18. The wicked shall be a ransom for the righteous — The wicked shall be brought into those troubles which were designed by wicked men against the righteous, and by that means, as by a ransom, the righteous shall be delivered; thus Haman was a ransom for Mordecai.21:9. It is best to shun bitter contention by pouring out the heart before God. For by prudence and patience, with constant prayer, the cross may be removed. 10. The evil desires of a wicked man's heart, lead to baseness in his conduct. 11. The simple may be made wise by punishments on the wicked, and by instructions to those who are willing to be taught. 12. Good men envy not the prosperity of evil-doers; they see there is a curse on them. 13. Such as oppress the poor by beating down wages, such as will not relieve according to their ability those in distress, and those in authority who neglect to do justice, stop their ears at the cry of the poor. But doubtless care is to be used in the exercise of charity. 14. If money can conquer the fury of the passions, shall reason, the fear of God, and the command of Christ, be too weak to bridle them? 15. There is true pleasure only in the practice of religion. 16. Of all wanderers in the ways of sin, those are in the most dangerous condition who turn aside into the ways of darkness. Yet there is hope even for them in the all-sufficient Saviour; but let them flee to him without delay. 17. A life of worldly pleasure brings ruin on men. 18. The righteous is often delivered out of trouble, and the wicked comes in his stead, and so seems as a ransom for him. 19. Unbridled passions spoil the comfort of all relations. 20. The plenty obtained by prudence, industry, and frugality, is desirable. But the foolish misspend what they have upon their lusts. 21. True repentance and faith will lead him that relies on the mercy of God in Christ, to follow after righteousness and mercy in his own conduct. 22. Those that have wisdom, often do great things, even against those confident of their strength. 23. It is our great concern to keep our souls from being entangled and disquieted. 24. Pride and haughtiness make men passionate; such continually deal in wrath, as if it were their trade to be angry. 25,26. Here is the misery of the slothful; their hands refuse to labour in an honest calling, by which they might get an honest livelihood; yet their hearts cease not to covet riches, pleasures, and honours, which cannot be obtained without labour. But the righteous and industrious have their desires satisfied. 27. When holiness is pretended, but wickedness intended, that especially is an abomination. 28. The doom of a false witness is certain. 29. A wicked man bids defiance to the terrors of the law and the rebukes of Providence. But a good man asks, What does God require of me? 30,31. Means are to be used, but, after all, our safety and salvation are only of the Lord. In our spiritual warfare we must arm ourselves with the whole armour of God; but our strength must be in the Lord, and in the power of his might.Compare the marginal reference. Evil doers seem to draw down the wrath of God upon their heads, and so become, as it were, the scapegoats of the comparatively righteous. 18. (Compare Pr 11:8). By suffering what they had devised for the righteous, or brought on them, the wicked became their ransom, in the usual sense of substitutes (compare Jos 7:26; Es 7:9). The wicked shall be brought into those troubles which were either threatened by God or designed by wicked men against the righteous, and by that means, as by a ransom, the righteous shall be delivered. Thus Achan was a ransom for Israel, Joshua 7:26, and Haman for Mordecai. The wicked shall be a ransom for the righteous,.... Not to make satisfaction for them, as Christ is a ransom for his people; but as a ransom is in the room of another, so the wicked cometh in the stead of the righteous, and into the trouble he is delivered from; as Haman for Mordecai, which instance Jarchi mentions; see Proverbs 11:8; or when a body of people are threatened with divine vengeance; and this falls upon the wicked, whose sins caused it, and the righteous are delivered from it; as in the case of Achan, and the seven sons of Saul, Joshua 7:26. And sometimes God turns the wrath of the princes of the earth from his own people, and causes it to fall upon the wicked, and so they are a ransom for them; as Sennacherib intended the destruction of the Jews, but was called off in providence to fall upon the Egyptians, Ethiopians, and Sabeans, and therefore they are said to be a ransom for them; see Isaiah 43:3; and sometimes wicked men are the means of a ransom or deliverance of the righteous, as Cyrus was of the Jews: and it may be considered, as the word used signifies a "cover" (d), whether it will not bear this sense, that the wicked are a cover for the righteous, and oftentimes protect and defend them; so the earth helped the woman, Revelation 12:16;

and the transgressor for the upright; which are but different characters of the same persons, bad and good men; and the sense is the same as before.


The {h} wicked shall be a ransom for the righteous, and the transgressor for the upright.

(h) God will cause that to fall on their own heads, which they intended against the just by delivering the just, and putting the wicked in their places.

18. a ransom] Comp. “I have given Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee … I will give men for thee and peoples for thy life,” Isaiah 43:3-4. Egypt was, so to speak, the price paid for the deliverance of Israel (Exodus 10:7; Exodus 12:29; Exodus 14:30).

The second member of the verse is better rendered, with R.V.,

And the treacherous cometh in the stead of the upright. Comp. Proverbs 11:8.Verse 18. - The wicked shall be a ransom for the righteous. The same thought occurs in Proverbs 11:8 (where see note). כֹּפֶר (kopher), "price of atonement," means of reconciliation. Delitzsch instances that the great movement which gathered the nations together for the destruction of Babylon put an end to Israel's exile; and that Cyrus, the scourge of so many heathen peoples, was the liberator of the Jews (comp. Isaiah 44:28). And the transgressor for the upright. The faithless takes the place of the upright; the stroke passes over the latter, to fall on the former, as in Egypt the destroying angel spared the houses of the Israelites, and poured his wrath on the Egyptians. Septuagint, "A transgressor is the offscouring (περικάθαρμα, perhaps equivalent to 'ransom') of a righteous man." 12 A righteous One marketh the house of the godless;

     He hurleth the godless to destruction.

If we understand by the word צדּיק a righteous man, then 12a would introduce the warning which he gives, and the unexpressed subject of 12b must be God (Umbreit). But after such an introitus, יהוה ought not to be wanting. If in 12a "the righteous man" is the subject, then it presents itself as such also for the second parallel part. But the thought that the righteous, when he takes notice of the house of the godless, shows attention which of itself hurls the godless into destruction (Lwenstein), would require the sing. רשׁע in the conclusion; also, instead of מסלּף the fut. יסלּף would have been found; and besides, the judicial סלּף (vid., regarding this word at Proverbs 11:3; Proverbs 19:3) would not be a suitable word for this confirmation in evil. Thus by צדיק the proverb means God, and מסלף has, as at Proverbs 22:12, Job 12:19, this word as its subject. "A righteous One" refers to the All-righteous, who is called, Job 34:17, "the All-just One," and by Rashi, under the passage before us, צדּיקו שׁל־עולם. Only do not translate with Bertheau and Zckler: the Righteous One (All-righteous), for (1) this would require הצּדּיק, and (2) הצדיק is never by itself used as an attributive designation of God. Rightly, Fleischer and Ewald: a Righteous One, viz., God. It is the indetermination which seeks to present the idea of the great and dreadful: a Righteous One, and such a Righteous One!

(Note: The Arabs call this indetermination âlnkrt lalt'ẓym wallthwyl. Vid., under Psalm 2:12.)

השׂכיל with על, Proverbs 16:20, or אל, Psalm 41:2; Nehemiah 8:13, here with ל, signifies to give attention to anything, to look attentively on it. The two participles stand in the same line: animum advertit ... evertit. Hitzig changes לבּית רשׁע into לבּיתו, and makes רשׁע the subject of 12b; but the proverb as it lies before us is far more intelligible.

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