He that said to the wicked, You are righteous; him shall the people curse, nations shall abhor him:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)He that saith, to wit, publicly, and in judgment, as he now said, and as appears by the publicness of the curse following upon it, for people or nations do neither observe nor hate every man who saith thus privately.
Thou art righteous, that justify wicked men in their unrighteous courses.
Nations shall abhor him, partly for the grossness and odiousness of the crime, and partly for the great and general mischief which such practices bring to civil societies. Proverbs 17:15; nor should the ministers of the Gospel flatter the wicked, and call them righteous and good men, and strengthen their hands in their wickedness, promising them life though they continue in their evil ways; for though God justifies the ungodly, man should not; nor does he justify them in, but from, their ungodliness; see Ezekiel 13:2;
him shall the people curse, nations shall abhor him; the people of the land shall curse him as an unjust judge, as a patron of wickedness aunt wicked men; as an enemy to justice, and a discourager of truth and honesty, and all good men; and even nations that have not so immediate a concern in the affair, yet hearing of it shall express their indignation at him and abhorrence of him.He that saith unto the wicked, Thou are righteous; him shall the people curse, nations shall abhor him:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)24. the people &c.] Rather, peoples shall curse him; nations shall abhor him, R.V. From this it appears that it is to rulers and judges that the proverb primarily, though not necessarily exclusively, applies. In Proverbs 17:15 the divine, as here the human, estimate of such conduct is affirmed.Verse 24. - He that saith unto the wicked, Thou art righteous. The judge is supposed to be acquitting a guilty person. Him shall the people curse. The Hebrew is "peoples," as Septuagint and Vulgate, maledicient eis populi. Nations shall abhor him. Not individuals, nor families only, but the whole community, wherever such an iniquitous ruler is found, shall execrate and hate him. The voice of the people is universally against him; no one is so blind and degraded as openly to applaud his nets. The verb nakab, "to curse," means primarily "to bore or pierce;" hence some have translated it here, "him shall the peoples stab." But the word is used in the sense of distinguishing by a mark or brand, and thence passes into the sense of cursing, as at Proverbs 11:26; Leviticus 24:11; Job 3:8. In Proverbs 17:15 the unjust judge is called an abomination to the Lord. In this case the vox populi is vox Dei.
17 At the fall of thine enemy rejoice not,
And at his overthrow let not thine heart be glad;
18 That Jahve see it not, and it be displeasing to Him,
And He turns away His anger from Him.
The Chethı̂b, which in itself, as the plur. of category, אויביך, might be tolerable, has 17b against it: with right, all interpreters adhere to the Kerı̂ אויבך (with i from ē in doubled close syllable, as in the like Kerı̂, 1 Samuel 24:5). וּבבּשׁלו, for וּבהכּשׁלו, is the syncope usual in the inf. Niph. and Hiph., which in Niph. occurs only once with the initial guttural (as בּעטף) or half guttural (לראות). רעו is not adj. here as at 1 Samuel 25:3, but perf. with the force of a fut. (Symmachus: καὶ μὴ ἀρέσῃ ἐνώπιον αὐτοῦ). The proverb extends the duty of love even to an enemy; for it requires that we do good to him and not evil, and warns against rejoicing when evil befalls him. Hitzig, indeed, supposes that the noble morality which is expressed in Proverbs 24:17 is limited to a moderate extent by the motive assigned in 18b. Certainly the poet means to say that God could easily give a gracious turn for the better, as to the punishment of the wicked, to the decree of his anger against his enemy; but his meaning is not this, that one, from joy at the misfortune of others, ought to desist from interrupting the process of the destruction of his enemy, and let it go on to its end; but much rather, that one ought to abstain from this joy, so as not to experience the manifestation of God's displeasure thereat, but His granting grace to him against whom we rejoice to see God's anger go forth.
(Note: This proverb, according to Aboth iv. 24, was the motto of that Samuel with the surname הקטן, who formulated ברכת המינים (the interpolation in the Schemone-Esre prayer directed against the schismatics): he thus distinguished between private enemies and the enemies of the truth.)
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