Proverbs 21:6
The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a vanity tossed to and fro of them that seek death.
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(6) Is a vanity tossed to and fro of them that seek death.—Rather, is (as) the driven (fleeting) breath of those who are seeking death. They are seeking in reality not riches, but death, and these riches will vanish like their own breath. (Comp. Wisdom Of Solomon 5:14; Psalm 68:2).

21:1 The believer, perceiving that the Lord rules every heart as he sees fit, like the husbandman who turns the water through his grounds as he pleases, seeks to have his own heart, and the hearts of others, directed in his faith, fear, and love. 2. We are partial in judging ourselves and our actions. 3. Many deceive themselves with a conceit that outward devotions will excuse unrighteousness. 4. Sin is the pride, the ambition, the glory, the joy, and the business of wicked men. 5. The really diligent employ foresight as well as labour. 6. While men seek wealth by unlawful practices, they seek death. 7. Injustice will return upon the sinner, and will destroy him here and for ever. 8. The way of mankind by nature is froward and strange.Vanity - Or, "a breath driven to and fro of those that are seeking death." Another reading of the last words is: "of the snares of death" (compare 1 Timothy 6:9). Some commentators have suggested that the "vapor" or "mist" is the mirage of the desert, misleading those who follow it, and becoming a "net of death." 6. The getting—or, "what is obtained" (compare Job 7:2; Jer 22:13, Hebrew).

vanity … to and fro—as fleeting as chaff or stubble in the wind (compare Pr 20:17-21; Ps 62:10). Such gettings are unsatisfactory.

them … death—act as if they did (Pr 8:36; 17:19).

By a lying tongue; by false witness-hearing, or by any other false or deceitful words or actions, whereby many men get riches.

Is a vanity tossed to and fro; is like the chaff or smoke driven away by the wind; it is neither satisfactory nor durable, but quickly vanisheth away, as hath been frequently observed of estates ill gotten.

That seek death; not designedly, but eventually, that take those courses which will bring death or destruction upon them or theirs.

The getting of treasures by a lying tongue,.... By telling lies in trade; by bearing false witness in a court of judicature; or by preaching false doctrines in the church of God:

is a vanity tossed to and fro of them that seek death: such treasures, though ever so great, are like any light thing, smoke or vapour, straw, stubble, chaff, or a feather, tossed about the wind; which is expressive of the instability uncertainty of riches ill gotten; they do not last long, but are taken away and carried off by one providence or another; and they are likewise harmful and pernicious; they issue in death: and those that seek after them, and obtain them in a bad way, are said to "seek death": not intentionally, but eventually; this they certainly find, if grace prevent not; see Proverbs 8:36. Jarchi reads it, they are the "snares of death" to him; and so the Septuagint version.

The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a vanity tossed to and fro of them that seek death.
6. a vanity &c.] Lit. a vapour dispersed; seekers of death. Thus in the abrupt, sententious style of the wisdom of the East the end is described both of the treasures so sought, and of those who so seek them. “A vapour dispersed,” unsubstantial and vanishing away are the treasures gotten by a lying tongue; “seekers of death,” men whose pursuit will end in their own destruction, are those who so acquire them. By the change of a letter in the Heb. word the LXX., Vulgate, and R.V. marg. have snạres (instead of seekers) of death.

Verse 6. - The getting of treasures by a lying tongue - the acquisition of wealth by fraud and falsehood - is a vanity tossed to and fro of them that seek death. The latter clause is variously rendered and interpreted. The Hebrew is literally, a fleeting breath, those seeking death. The Revised Version makes the last words a separate proposition, "They that seek them seek death." But this seems unnecessary, and somewhat opposed to the gnomic style, which often combines two predicates in one construction; and there is no reason why we should not render the words, as in the Authorized Version, "of seekers of death." Such a mode of obtaining wealth is as evanescent and unstable as the very breath, and ends in death, which is practically the result of their quest. Thus Wisd. 5:14, "The hope of the ungodly is like dust that is blown away with the wind; like a thin froth that is driven away with the storm; like as the smoke which is dispersed here and there with the tempest, and passeth away. as the remembrance of a guest that tarrieth but a day." Some think that the comparison regards the mirage of the desert, which deceives travellers with the phantasms of cool waters and refreshing shade. Such an allusion is found in Isaiah 35:7. The Talmud enjoins, "Speak no word that accords not with the truth, that thy honour may not vanish as the waters of a brook." The Septuagint and Vulgate have followed a different reading (מוק שׁי־מות), and render thus: Vulgate, Vanus et excors est, et impingetur ad laqueos mortis, "He is vain and foolish, and will be taken in the snares of death;" Septuagint, "pursues vain things unto the snares of death (ἐπὶ παγίδας)" (Proverbs 13:14; Proverbs 14:27). So St. Paul says (1 Timothy 6:9), "They that desire to be rich fall into a into a temptation and a snare (παγίδα), and many foolish and hurtful lusts, such as drown men in destruction and perdition." Proverbs 21:66 The gaining of treasures by a lying tongue

   Is a fleeting breath of such as seek death.

One may, at any rate, after the free manner of gnomic resemblances and comparisons, regard "fleeting breath" and "such as seek death" as two separated predicates: such gain is fleeting breath, so those who gain are seeking death (Caspari's Beitrge zu Jes. p. 53). But it is also syntactically admissible to interpret the words rendered "seekers of death" as gen.; for such interruptions of the st. constr., as here by נדּף [fleeting], frequently occur, e.g., Isaiah 28:1; Isaiah 32:13; 1 Chronicles 9:13; and that an idea, in spite of such interruption, may be thought of as gen., is seen from the Arab.

(Note: Vid., Friedr. Philippi's Status constructus, p. 17, Anm. 3; and cf. therewith such constructions as (Arab.) mân'u faḍlah âlmanhtâji, i.e., a refuser of the needy, his beneficence equals one who denies to the needy his beneficence.)

But the text is unsettled. Symmachus, Syr., Targ., the Venet., and Luther render the phrase מבקשׁי [seekers]; but the lxx and Jerome read מוקשׁי [snares] (cf. 1 Timothy 6:9); this word Rashi also had before him (vid., Norzi), and Kennicott found it in several Codd. Bertheau prefers it, for he translates: fleeting breath, snares of death; Ewald and Hitzig go further, for, after the lxx, they change the whole proverb into: מות (בּמוקשׁי) הבל רדף אל־מוקשׁי, with פּעל in the first line. But διώκει of the lxx is an incorrect rendering of נדף, which the smuggling in of the ἐπὶ (παγίδας θανάτου) drew after it, without our concluding therefrom that אל־מוקשׁי, or למוקשׁי (Lagarde), lay before the translators; on the contrary, the word which (Cappellus) lay before them, מוקשׁי, certainly deserves to be preferred to מבקשׁי: the possession is first, in view of him who has gotten it, compared to a fleeting (נדּף, as Isaiah 42:2) breath (cf. e.g., smoke, Psalm 68:3), and then, in view of the inheritance itself and its consequences, is compared to the snares of death (Proverbs 13:14; Proverbs 14:27); for in פּעל (here equivalent to עשׂות, acquisitio, Genesis 31:1; Deuteronomy 8:17) lie together the ideas of him who procures and of the thing that is procured or effected (vid., at Proverbs 20:11).

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