Proverbs 23:12
Apply your heart to instruction, and your ears to the words of knowledge.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
23:12-16 Here is a parent instructing his child to give his mind to the Scriptures. Here is a parent correcting his child: accompanied with prayer, and blessed of God, it may prove a means of preventing his destruction. Here is a parent encouraging his child, telling him what would be for his good. And what a comfort it would be, if herein he answered his expectation! 17,18. The believer's expectation shall not be disappointed; the end of his trials, and of the sinner's prosperity, is at hand.The reason is given for the precept Proverbs 23:10.

Their redeemer - See Job 19:25 note. It was the duty of the גאל gā'al, the next of kin, to take on himself, in case of murder, the office of avenger of blood Numbers 35:19. By a slight extension the word was applied to one who took on himself a like office in cases short of this. Here, therefore, the thought is that, destitute as the fatherless may seem, there is One who claims them as His next of kin, and will avenge them. Yahweh Himself is in this sense their גאל gā'al, their Redeemer.

12. Here begins another series of precepts. Apply thine heart unto instruction; content not thyself with outward hearing or reading of it, but affectionately receive it into thine heart, and lay it up there as choice treasure. Apply thine heart unto instruction,.... To the instruction of parents, and to the instruction of ministers of the word; to the Scriptures, which are profitable to instruction in righteousness; to the instruction of wisdom, or to the Gospel of Christ, which instructs in things relating to him, and to salvation by him: or, "bring in thine heart to instruction" (y); not only bring thy body to the place of instruction, the house of God, but bring thine heart thither also;

and thine ears to the words of knowledge; the doctrines of the Gospel, which are the means of the knowledge of God and Christ, and of all divine, spiritual, and heavenly tidings; and of a growth in the knowledge of them; and therefore should be diligently hearkened and cordially attended to.

(y) "adduc", Piscator; "vel fac ingredi", Pagninus, Montanus, Mercerus; "adduc et quasi praesens siste", Michaelis,

Apply thine heart unto instruction, and thine ears to the words of knowledge.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verse 12 commences a new series of proverbs of wisdom. This general admonition is addressed to all, tutor and disciple, educator and educated. Apply thine heart unto instruction. (For musar, "instruction," see note on Proverbs 1:2.) There now follows a proverb with unequally measured lines, perhaps a heptastich:

6 Eat not the bread of the jealous,

   And let not thyself lust after his dainties;

7 For as one who calculates with himself, so is he:

   "Eat and drink," saith he to thee;

   But his heart is not with thee.

8 Thy morsel which thou hast enjoyed wilt thou cast up,

   And hast lost thy pleasant words.

As טוב עין, Proverbs 22:9, benignus oculo, denotes the pleasantness and joy of social friendship; so here (cf. Deuteronomy 15:9; Matthew 15:15) רע עין, malignus oculo, the envy and selfishness of egoism seeking to have and retain all for itself. The lxx ἀνδρὶ βασκάνῳ, for the look of the evil eye, עין רע, עינא בישׁא (cattivo occhio), refers to enchantment; cf. βασκαίνειν, fascinare, to bewitch, to enchant, in modern Greek, to envy, Arab. 'an, to eye, as it were, whence ma‛jûn, ma‛ı̂n, hit by the piercing look of the envious eye, invidiae, as Apuleius says, letali plaga percussus (Fleischer). Regarding תּתאו with Pathach, vid., the parallel line 3a. 7a is difficult. The lxx and Syr. read שׂער [hair]. The Targ. renders תּרעא רמא, and thus reads שׁער [fool], and thus brings together the soul of the envious person and a high portal, which promises much, but conceals only deception behind (Ralbag). Joseph ha-Nakdan reads

(Note: In an appendix to Ochla We-Ochla, in the University Library at Halle, he reads שׂער, but with פליגא [doubtful] added.)

שׂער with sn; and Rashi, retaining the schn, compares the "sour figs," Jeremiah 29:17. According to this, Luther translates: like a ghost (a monster of lovelessness) is he inwardly; for, as it appears in שׂער, the goat-like spectre שׂעיר hovered before him. Schultens better, because more in conformity with the text: quemadmodum suam ipsius animam abhorret (i.e., as he does nothing to the benefit of his own appetite) sic ille (erga alios multo magis). The thought is appropriate, but forced. Hitzig for once here follows Ewald; he does not, however, translate: "like as if his soul were divided, so is it;" but: "as one who is divided in his soul, so is he;" but the verb שׁער, to divide, is inferred from שׁער, gate equals division, and is as foreign to the extra-bibl. usus loq. as it is to the bibl. The verb שׁער signifies to weigh or consider, to value, to estimate. These meanings Hitzig unites together: in similitudinem arioli et conjectoris aestimat quod ignorat, perhaps meaning thereby that he conjecturally supposes that as it is with him, so it is with others: he dissembles, and thinks that others dissemble also. Thus also Jansen explains. The thought is far-fetched, and does not cover itself by the text. The translation of the Venet. also: ὡς γὰρ ἐμέτρησεν ἐν ψυχῇ οἱ οὕτως ἐστίν (perhaps: he measures to others as penuriously as to himself), does not elucidate the text, but obscures it. Most moderns (Bertheau, Zckler, Dchsel, etc.): as he reckons in his soul, so is he (not as he seeks to appear for a moment before thee). Thus also Fleischer: quemadmodum reputat apud se, ita est (sc. non ut loquitur), with the remark that שׁער (whence שׁער, measure, market value, Arab. si'r), to measure, to tax to as to determine the price, to reckon; and then like חשׁב, in general, to think, and thus also Meri with the neut. rendering of ita est. But why this circumlocution in the expression? The poet ought in that case just to have written כי לא למו דבּר בשׂפתיו כן הוא, for he is not as he speaks with his mouth. If one read שׁער (Symmachus, εἰκάζων), then we have the thought adapted to the portrait that is drawn; for like one calculating by himself, so is he, i.e., he is like one who estimates with himself the value of an object; for which we use the expression: he reckons the value of every piece in thy mouth. However, with this understanding the punctuation also of שׁער as finite may be retained and explained after Isaiah 26:18 : for as if he reckoned in his soul, so is he; but in this the perf. is inappropriate; by the particip. one reaches the same end

(Note: We may write כּן הוּא: the Mehuppach (Jethb) sign of the Olewejored standing between the two words represents also the place of the Makkeph; vid., Thorath Emeth, p. 20.)

by a smoother way. True, he says to thee: eat and drink (Sol 5:1), he invites thee with courtly words; but his heart is not with thee (בּל, like Proverbs 24:23): he only puts on the appearance of joy if thou partakest abundantly, but there lurks behind the mask of liberal hospitality the grudging niggardly calculator, who poisons thy every bite, every draught, by his calculating, grudging look. Such a feast cannot possibly do good to the guest: thy meal (פּת, from פּתת; cf. κλᾶν τὸν ἄρτον, Aram. פּרס לחמא, to divide and distribute bread, whence פּרנס, to receive aliment, is derived) which thou hast eaten thou wilt spue out, i.e., wilt vomit from disgust that thou hast eaten such food, so that that which has been partaken of does thee no good. פּתּך is also derived from פּתּה:

(Note: Immanuel makes so much of having recognised the verb in this פּתּך (and has he persuaded thee), that in the concluding part of his Divan (entitled Machberoth Immanuel), which is an imitation of Dante's Divina Commedia, he praises himself on this account in the paradise of King Solomon, who is enraptured by this explanation, and swears that he never meant that word otherwise.)

continued...

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