A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)A word fitly spoken.—Or, it may be, at the proper time. (Comp. Proverbs 15:23.)
Apples of gold in pictures of silver.—Probably golden-coloured apples are meant, or fruit of the same tint, such as pomegranates, citrons, or oranges. “Pictures” of silver probably means “figures,” i.e., baskets or dishes of ornamental work.Proverbs 25:11. A word fitly spoken — As to the matter, and season, and other circumstances of it; is like apples of gold in pictures of silver — Which, it seems, were usual in those times, and were grateful to the eye for the beauty and variety both of the colours and figures, the golden apples appearing through the net-work of silver, or being engraven, or portrayed, upon tablets of silver. Some translate the clause, Golden apples in vessels of silver, and think that, by golden apples, citrons or oranges are meant, or some fruit of the like kind and colour, which, put into silver vessels, appear the more beautiful by the contrast of the whiteness of the silver with their golden colour. Bishop Lowth observes, that Solomon in this sentence gives us not only an apt description of the proverb or parable, but also an example of the thing described. He means, in these words, that weighty and hidden meanings are as much commended by a concise and well-turned speech, as apples, exquisite for their colour, appear more lovely and pleasing when they shine through the net-work of a silver basket exquisitely chased: see his twenty-fourth lecture.
apples, &c.—either real apples of golden color, in a silver network basket, or imitations on silver embroidery.A word fitly spoken, for the matter, and season, and other circumstances of it,
is like apples of gold in pictures of silver, which it seems was usual in those times, and was grateful to the eye for the beauty and variety both of the colours and figures, the golden apples appearing through net-work of silver, or being engraven or portrayed upon tablets of silver.
is like apples of gold in pictures of silver; either like apples made of gold, and so valuable and precious; or as apples, called golden from their colour, as golden pippins, and golden rennets; or oranges, which are sometimes called golden apples: either of these in silver cases and enclosures, as Aben Ezra and Gersom interpret the word, or in a silver cup, as the Syriac version, or in silver lattices, as Maimonides, through which they may be seen, look very pleasant and delightful. The words may design, as some think, silver baskets of network (e); into which golden apples or oranges being put, and placed on a table, look very beautiful; and to such a word fitly spoken is compared. This may be applied to the word of the Gospel, as spoken by Christ, the great Prophet of the church; who has the tongue of the learned, to speak a word in season to weary souls, Isaiah 50:4; and by his ministers, who publish the Gospel, that faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation: this being the word of salvation, is fitly spoken to all sensible sinners, and must be exceeding agreeable to them; since it is of salvation from all sin, and for the chief of sinners, and entirely of free grace; includes all blessings in it, and is for ever; and since it is a proclamation of pardon of all sorts of sins and sinners, and of all their sins, and according to the riches of grace; and is also the word of reconciliation, and publishes peace to rebels, who could not make their own peace with God; and yet this is done by the blood of Christ, as the Gospel declares: and, seeing it is likewise the word of righteousness, which reveals the righteousness of Christ as justifying, when a man's own righteousness will not acquit him; and invites weary souls to Christ for rest, and therefore must be grateful to all such persons, and be esteemed as valuable as balls or apples of gold; and as pleasant and delightful to see and hear of as those set in silver baskets of network; and be as refreshing and comfortable, and as grateful to the taste, as real apples of the best kind; see Sol 2:2. It may also be applied to the promises of grace, seasonably spoken, and suitably applied by the Spirit of God; who takes the promises which are in Christ, and shows and opens them to souls in distress, at the most proper and seasonable time; and which are exceeding great and precious, yield abundance of pleasure and delight, and are very comfortable. Yea, this may be applied to the words of good men, in private conversation, either by way of counsel, or comfort, or admonition; and to every word that is with grace, and ministers grace to the hearer, and is for the use of edifying, when time, place, persons, and circumstances, are observed. Maimonides (f) thinks the external sense of the word is meant by the silver, and the internal sense by the gold; which latter is seen through, and is much better than the former.
(d) "super rotis suis", Montanus, Piscator, so Kimchi and Ben Melech; "super rotationibus suis". Schultens. (e) "in thecis transparentibus", Montanus; "cancellis", Baynus; "cancellaturis, sive retiaculis", Glassius; "in speciosis calicibus", Cocceius. (f) Praefat. Moreh Nevochim.A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)11. fitly] Lit. upon its wheels, i.e. smoothly and without hesitation.
Others render, at its (proper) times, i.e. seasonably, perhaps from the idea of times or seasons “revolving,” or “rolling round.” In tempore suo, Vulg. Comp. Proverbs 15:23.
apples of gold] Either golden-coloured fruit, such as oranges or quinces (χρυσόμηλα, Plin.; aurea mala, Virg. Ecl. iii. 71), or fruit gilded or made of gold, as part of the artistic ornament.
pictures] Rather, baskets of silver network or filigree work, through and in contrast with which the golden fruit was shown to advantage. In lectis argenteis, Vulg. The LXX. has ἐν ὁρμίσκῳ σάρδιου, in a necklace of sardius, evidently regarding the whole ornament, including its apples, or bosses, of gold as the work of the artificer.
The imagery of the proverb accords with the growth of art and luxury in the reign of Solomon, though the Hebrews were familiar from the days of Egypt (Exodus 3:22), and earlier (Genesis 24:22), with ornaments of gold and silver.
“The proverb may well be thought of as having had its origin in some kingly gift to the son of David, the work of Tyrian artists, like Hiram and his fellows. Others, as they gazed on the precious metals and the cunning work, far beyond the skill of their own countrymen, might highly admire, but the wise king saw in the costly rarity a parable of something higher. A word well set upon the wheels of speech excelled it. It is singular that ornamentation of this kind in the precious metals was known even as late as the middle ages, as œuvre de Salomon.” Dean Plumptre, Speaker’s Comm.Verse 11. - One of the emblematical distiches in which this collection is rich. A word fitly spoken. עַל־אָפְנָיו may be translated "in due season," or "upon its wheels" (Venetian, ἐπὶ τῶν τροχῶν αὐτῆς). In the latter case the phrase may mean a word quickly formed, or moving easily, spoken ore rotundo, or a speedy answer. But the metaphor is unusual and inappropriate; and it is best to understand a word spoken under due consideration of time and place. Vulgate, Qui loquitur verbum in tempore suo; Aquila and Theodotion, ἐπὶ ἁρμόζουσιν αὐτῷ, "in circumstances that suit it;" the Septuagint has simply οὕτως. Is like apples of gold in pictures of silver. In these emblematical distichs the words, "is like," in the Authorized Version, are an insertion. The Hebrew places the two ideas merely in sequence; the object with which some, thing is compared usually coming before, that which is compared with it, as here, "Apples of gold - a word fitly spoken" (so in vers. 14, 18, 19, 26, 28). There is a doubt about the meaning of the word rendered "pictures," maskith (see on Proverbs 18:11). It seems to be used generally in the sense of "image," "sculpture," being derived from the verb שָׁכָה, "to see;" from this it comes to signify "ornament," and here most appropriately is "basket," and, as some understand, of filagree work. St. Jerome mistakes the word, rendering, in lectis argenteis. The Septuagint has, ἐν ὁρμίσκῳ σαρδίου, "on a necklace of sardius." "Apples of gold" are apples or other fruits of a golden colour, not made of gold, which would be very costly and heavy; nor would the comparison with artificial fruits be as suitable as that with natural. The "word" is the fruit set off by its circumstances, as the latter's beauty is enhanced by the grace of the vessel which contains it. The "apple" has been supposed to be the orange (called in late Latin pomum aurantium) or the citron. We may cite here the opinion of a competent traveller: "For my own part," says Canon Tristram ('Land of Israel,' p. 605), "I have no hesitation in expressing my conviction that the apricot alone is the 'apple' of Scripture Everywhere the apricot is common; perhaps it is, with the single exception of the fig, the most abundant fruit of the country. In highlands and lowlands alike, by the shores of the Mediterranean and on the banks of the Jordan, in the nooks of Judea, under the heights of Lebanon, in the recesses of Galilee, and in the glades of Gilead, the apricot flourishes, and yields a crop of prodiscus abundance. Its characteristics meet every condition of the 'tappuach' of Scripture. 'I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste' (Song of Solomon 2:3). Near Damascus, and on the banks of the Barada, we have pitched our tents under its shade, and spread our carpets secure from the rays of the sun. 'The smell of thy nose (shall be) like tappuach' (Song of Solomon 7:8). There can scarcely be a more deliciously perfumed fruit than the apricot; and what fruit can better fit the epithet of Solomon, 'apples of gold in pictures of silver,' than this golden fruit, as its branches bend under the weight in their setting of bright yet pale foliage?" Imagery similar to that found in this verse occurs in Proverbs 10:31; Proverbs 12:14; Proverbs 13:2; Proverbs 18:20. There is a famous article on the analogies between flowers and men's characters in the Spectator, No. 455.
4 Take away the dross from silver,
So there is ready a vessel for the goldsmith;
5 Take away the wicked from the king,
And his throne is established by righteousness.
The form הגו (cf. the inf. Poal הגו, Isaiah 59:13) is regarded by Schultens as showing a ground-form הגו; but there is also found e.g., עשׂו, whose ground-form is עשׂי; the verb הגה, R. הג (whence Arab. hajr, discedere), cf. יגה (whence הגה, semovit, 2 Samuel 20:13 equals Syr. âwagy, cf. Arab. âwjay, to withhold, to abstain from), signifies to separate, withdraw; here, of the separation of the סיגים, the refuse, i.e., the dross (vid., regarding the plena scriptio, Baer's krit. Ausg. des Jesaia, under Proverbs 1:22); the goldsmith is designated by the word צרף, from צרף morf, to turn, change, as he who changes the as yet drossy metal by means of smelting, or by purification in water, into that which is pure. In 5a הגה is, as at Isaiah 27:8, transferred to a process of moral purification; what kind of persons are to be removed from the neighbourhood of the king is shown by Isaiah 1:22-23. Here also (as at Isa. l.c.) the emblem or figure of Proverbs 25:4 is followed in Proverbs 25:5 by its moral antitype aimed at. The punctuation of both verses is wonderfully fine and excellent. In Proverbs 25:4, ויצא is not pointed ויצא, but as the consecutive modus ויּצא; this first part of the proverb refers to a well-known process of art: the dross is separated from the silver (inf. absol., as Proverbs 12:7; Proverbs 15:22), and so a vessel (utensil) proceeds from the goldsmith, for he manufactures pure silver; the ל is here similarly used as the designation of the subject in the passive, Proverbs 13:13; Proverbs 14:20. In Proverbs 25:5, on the contrary, ויּכּון (ויּכּן) is not the punctuation used, but the word is pointed indicatively ויכּון; this second part of the proverb expresses a moral demand (inf. absol. in the sense of the imperative, Gesen. 131, 4b like Proverbs 17:12, or an optative or concessive conjunction): let the godless be removed, לפני מלך, i.e., not from the neighbourhood of the king, for which the words are מלּפני מלך; also not those standing before the king, i.e., in his closest neighbourhood (Ewald, Bertheau); but since, in the absolute, הגה, not an act of another in the interest of the king, but of the king himself, is thought of: let the godless be removed from before the king, i.e., because he administers justice (Hitzig), or more generally: because after that Psalm (101), which is the "mirror of princes," he does not suffer him to come into his presence. Accordingly, the punctuation is בּצּדק, not בּצדק (Proverbs 16:12); because such righteousness is meant as separates the רשׁע from it and itself from him, as Isaiah 16:5 (vid., Hitzig), where the punctuation of בּחסד denotes that favour towards Moab seeking protection.
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