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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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
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." 30 Cutting wounds cleanse away evil,

     And reach the inner parts of the body.

The two words for wounds in line first stand in the st. constr.; חבּוּרה (from חבר, to be bound around with stripes, to be striped) is properly the streak, the stripe; but is here heightened by פּצע (from פּצע, to cleave, split, tear open), beyond the idea of the stripe-wound: tearing open the flesh, cuts tearing into the flesh. The pred. is after the Kerı̂ תּמרוּק; but this substantive, found in the Book of Esther, where it signifies the purification of the women for the harem (according to which, e.g., Ahron B. Joseph explains כמו תמרוק לנשׁים שׁהוא יפה להם), is syntactically hard, and scarcely original. For if we explain with Kimchi: wounds of deep incision find their cleansing (cure) by evil, i.e., by means which bring suffering (according to which, probably the Venet. μώλωπες τραύματος λάμψουσιν ἐν κακῷ), then תמרוקן, with the pronoun pointing back, one would have expected. But the interpretation of בּרע, of severe means of cure, is constrained; that which lies nearest, however, is to understand רע of evil. But if, with this understanding of the word, we translate: Vibices plagarum sunt lustratio quae adhibetur malo (Fleischer), one does not see why בּרע, and not rather gen. רע, is used. But if we read after the Chethı̂b תּמריק, then all is syntactically correct; for (1.) that the word ימריקוּ, or תּמרקנה, is not used, is in accordance with a well-known rule, Gesen. 146. 3; and (2.) that המריק is connected, not directly with an accus. obj., but with ב, has its analogy in התעה ב, Jeremiah 42:2, השׁרישׁ בּ, Job 31:12, and the like, and besides has its special ground in the metaphorical character of the cleansing. Thus, e.g., one uses Syr. 't'aa' of external misleading; but with Syr. k of moral misleading (Ewald, 217, 2); and Arab. '_ of erecting a building; but with Arab. b of the intellectual erection of a memorial (monument). It is the so-called Bâ̇âlmojâz; vid., de Sacy's Chrest Arab. i. 397. The verb מרק means in Talm. also, "to take away" (a metaph. of abstergere; cf. Arab. marak, to wipe off)

(Note: Vid., Dozy's Lettre M. Fleischer (1871), p. 198.)

and that meaning is adopted, Schabbath 33a, for the interpretations of this proverb: stripes and wounds a preparedness for evil carries away, and sorrow in the innermost part of the body, which is explained by דרוקן (a disease appearing in diverse forms; cf. "Drachenschuss,"; as the name of an animal disease); but granting that the biblical מרק may bear this meaning, the ב remains unaccountable; for we say מרק עצמו לעברה, for to prepare oneself for a transgression (sin of excess), and not בעברה. We have thus to abide by the primary meaning, and to compare the proverb, Berachoth 5a: "afflictive providences wash away all the transgressions of a man." But the proverb before us means, first at least, not the wounds which God inflicts, but those which human educational energy inflicts: deep-cutting wounds, i.e., stern discipline, leads to the rubbing off of evil, i.e., rubs it, washes it, cleanses it away. It may now be possible that in 30b the subject idea is permutatively continued: et verbera penetralium corporis (thus the Venet.: πληγαὶ τῶν ταμιείων τοῦ γαρστρός), i.e., quorum vis ad intimos corporis et animi recessus penetrat (Fleischer). But that is encumbered, and חדרי־בטן (cf. Proverbs 20:27, Proverbs 18:8), as referring to the depths to which stern corporal discipline penetrates, has not its full force. וּמכּות is either a particip.: and that is touching (ferientes) the inner chambers of the body, or חדרי־בטן is with the ב, or immediately the second object of תמריק to be supplied: and strokes (rub off, cleanse, make pure) the innermost part. Jerome and the Targ. also supply ב, but erroneously, as designating place: in secretioribus ventris, relatively better the lxx and Syr.: εἰς ταμιεῖα κοιλίας. Luther hits the sense at least, for he translates:

One must restrain evil with severe punishment,

And with hard strokes which one feels.

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