As a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool returns to his folly.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)So a fool returneth to his folly.—Though he knows it to be folly, and ruinous to him: but vice has become to him a second nature, and he cannot, even if he would, escape from it. This is especially true of those who have given way to drink or impurity of life.As a dog returneth to his vomit, to lick up that which he had lately vomited, forgetting how burdensome and vexatious it was to him,
so a fool returneth to his folly; such like is the impudence and madness of sinners, who having smarted for their sins, and been forced to forsake them far a time, do afterwards return to the commission of them.
so a fool returneth to his folly, or "repeats" (a) it, time after time, many times, as Ben Melech; or a wicked man turns to his wickedness, who, having had some qualms upon his conscience for sin, for a while forsakes it; but that fit being over, and he forgetting all his former horror and uneasiness, returns to his old course of life: a wicked man is here compared to a dog, as he is elsewhere for his impudence and voraciousness in sinning; and the filthiness of sin is expressed by the vomit of a dog, than which nothing is more nauseous and loathsome; and the apostasy of the sinner, from an external course of righteousness into open profaneness is signified by the return of this creature to it. This is said to be a "true proverb", 2 Peter 2:22, where it is quoted and applied.As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)11. So a fool returneth to] Rather, So is a fool that repeateth, R.V.; iterat, Vulg. The Heb. word is not the same as in the first clause of the verse. Comp. on the proverb 2 Peter 2:22.
Proverbs 26:13-16. Another small group of four proverbs, of which the “sluggard” is the subject.Verse 11. - As the dog returneth to his vomit (see 2 Peter 2:22, which, however, is not quoted from the Septuagint), so a fool returneth to his folly; or, repeateth his folly. The fool never frees himself from the trammels of his foolishness; his deeds and words always bear the same character to the end. The same truth holds good of the sinner, especially the drunkard and the sensualist. If they feel temporary compunction, and reject their sin by partial repentance, they do not really shake it off wholly; it has become a second nature to them, and they soon relapse into it. Septuagint, "As when a dog goes to his own vomit and becomes hateful, so is a fool who returns in his wickedness to his own sin." The LXX. adds a distich which is found in Ecclus. 4:21, "There is a shame that bringeth sin, and there is a shame that is glory and grace."
Lest he regard himself as wise.
ענה־כסיל (with Makkeph, and Gaja, and Chatef)
(Note: Thus after Ben Asher; while, on the contrary, Ben Naphtali writes ענה כסיל with Munach, vid., Thorath Emeth, p. 41.)
(Note: Vid., my dissertation on three little-observed passages in the Gospel of John, and their practical lessons, in the Evang. luth. Kirchenzeitung, 1869, Nos. 37, 38.)
is rich in such apparently contradictory sayings. The sic et non here lying before us is easily explained; after, or according to his folly, is this second time equivalent to, as is due to his folly: decidedly and firmly rejecting it, making short work with it (returning a sharp answer), and promptly replying in a way fitted, if possible, to make him ashamed. Thus one helps him, perhaps, to self-knowledge; while, in the contrary case, one gives assistance to his self-importance. The Talmud, Schabbath 30b, solves the contradiction by referring Proverbs 26:4 to worldly things, and Proverbs 26:5 to religious things; and it is true that, especially in the latter case, the answer is itself a duty toward the fool, and towards the truth. Otherwise the Midrash: one ought not to answer when one knows the fool as such, and to answer when he does not so know him; for in the first instance the wise man would dishonour himself by the answer, in the latter case he would give to him who asks the importance appertaining to a superior.
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