Proverbs 26:17
He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife belonging not to him, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(17) Meddleth with strife.—Rather, that is excited with strife. If quarrelling and taking revenge on our own account are forbidden (Romans 12:18-19), how much more is the mixing up of ourselves in the disputes of other persons.

Like one that taketh a dog by the ears.—Who deserves to be bitten for his pains, the usual result of interfering in quarrels.

Proverbs 26:17. He that passeth by — Who is going on the way about his business; and meddleth with strife, &c. — In which he is not concerned, nor any way obliged to meddle; is like one that taketh a dog by the ears — Exposes himself to great and needless hazard, as a man that unnecessarily provoketh a mastiff dog against himself.

26:2. He that is cursed without cause, the curse shall do him no more harm than the bird that flies over his head. 3. Every creature must be dealt with according to its nature, but careless and profligate sinners never will be ruled by reason and persuasion. Man indeed is born like the wild ass's colt; but some, by the grace of God, are changed. 4,5. We are to fit our remarks to the man, and address them to his conscience, so as may best end the debate. 6-9. Fools are not fit to be trusted, nor to have any honour. Wise sayings, as a foolish man delivers and applies them, lose their usefulness. 10. This verse may either declare how the Lord, the Creator of all men, will deal with sinners according to their guilt, or, how the powerful among men should disgrace and punish the wicked. 11. The dog is a loathsome emblem of those sinners who return to their vices, 2Pe 2:22. 12. We see many a one who has some little sense, but is proud of it. This describes those who think their spiritual state to be good, when really it is very bad. 13. The slothful man hates every thing that requires care and labour. But it is foolish to frighten ourselves from real duties by fancied difficulties. This may be applied to a man slothful in the duties of religion. 14. Having seen the slothful man in fear of his work, here we find him in love with his ease. Bodily ease is the sad occasion of many spiritual diseases. He does not care to get forward with his business. Slothful professors turn thus. The world and the flesh are hinges on which they are hung; and though they move in a course of outward services, yet they are not the nearer to heaven. 15. The sluggard is now out of his bed, but he might have lain there, for any thing he is likely to bring to pass in his work. It is common for men who will not do their duty, to pretend they cannot. Those that are slothful in religion, will not be at the pains to feed their souls with the bread of life, nor to fetch in promised blessings by prayer. 16. He that takes pains in religion, knows he is working for a good Master, and that his labour shall not be in vain. 17. To make ourselves busy in other men's matters, is to thrust ourselves into temptation. 18,19. He that sins in jest, must repent in earnest, or his sin will be his ruin. 20-22. Contention heats the spirit, and puts families and societies into a flame. And that fire is commonly kindled and kept burning by whisperers and backbiters. 23. A wicked heart disguising itself, is like a potsherd covered with the dross of silver.Seven - The definite number used for the indefinite (compare Proverbs 24:16).

Reason - Better, a right judgment.

17. meddleth—as in Pr 20:19; 24:21; as either holding a dog by the ears or letting him go involves danger, so success in another man's strife or failure involves a useless risk of reputation, does no good, and may do us harm. He that passeth by; who is going upon the way, and about his business. But this word is by some referred to the last clause, is like

one that taketh a dog by the ears as he is passing by him, without any thought of doing him harm; which agrees very well both with the order of the words in the Hebrew text, and with the matter of the other clause, to which this similitude is referred.

Belonging not to him; in which he is not concerned, nor any way obliged to meddle.

Is like one that taketh a dog by the ears; exposeth himself to great and needless hazards, as a man that causelessly provoketh a mastiff dog against himself.

He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife belonging not to him,.... One that going along the streets, and passing by the door, where two or more persons are quarrelling, and he thrusts himself in and intermeddles in the affair he has no concern in; and interests himself in the cause of the quarrel he has nothing to do with, on account of acquaintance, relation, or office; and especially when, instead of being a mediator and peacemaker, he takes on one side, and acts the angry part, as Aben Ezra interprets the word rendered "meddleth"; blows things up into a greater flame, and enrages the one against the other. Such a man

is like one that taketh a dog by the ears; which are short, and difficult to be held, and tender; and therefore cannot bear to be held by them, especially to be pulled and lugged by them, and which is very provoking; and as such a man has work enough to do to hold him, so he is in danger of being bitten by him, at least when he is forced to let go his hold: and so it is with a man that interferes in a quarrel in a furious manner; it is much if one or other of the contending parties do not fall upon him and abuse him. The Septuagint and Arabic versions render it, "as he that holdeth the tail of a dog."

He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife belonging not to him, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
17. meddleth] Rather, vexeth himself, R.V. See Proverbs 20:2, where the same word is rendered, provoketh to anger, A.V. and R.V. text, or angereth himself against, R.V. marg. Of course in this place the “meddling” is implied as the consequence of his “vexing himself.” He is provoked to interfere.

By neglecting the Heb. accents the word rendered passeth by is transferred in R.V. margin to the dog: “a passing dog.” But the force of the proverb lies in the fact that the man who is provoked to interfere is a mere passer by; the strife in no way belongs to him.

the ears] The LXX. substitute, the tail: ὁ κρατῶν κέρκον κυνός. The meaning in either case is, he deserves to be bitten for his pains. “The Latin proverbial phrase, ‘auribus lupum tenere,’ may be noticed for its curious parallelism.” Speaker’s Comm.

Verses 17-28. - A series of proverbs connected more or less with peacefulness and its opposite. Verse 17. - He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife belonging not to him. "Meddleth with strife" should be "vexes, excites himself, with a quarrel." Is like one that taketh a dog by the ears, and thus needlessly provokes him to bark and bite. Regarding the position of the two participles in this verse, without any connecting link, Delitzsch takes "passing by" as attributed to the dog, thus: "He seizes by the ears a dog passing by, who is excited by a strife that concerns him not." The stray dog corresponds to the quarrel with which one has nothing to do. The present accentuation does not support this view; otherwise it is suitable and probable. Septuagint, "As he who lays hold of a dog's tail, so is he who sets himself forth as champion in another's cause." Ecclus. 11:9, "Strive not in a matter that concerns thee not." Says a Greek gnome -

Πολυπραγμονεῖν τὰλλότρια μὴ βοῦλου κακά Our English proverb says, "He that intermeddles with all things may go shoe the goslings." The Telugu compares such interference to a monkey holding a snake in his paw; it is hard to hold, dangerous to let go (Lane). Proverbs 26:17A series of proverbs which recommend the love of peace, for they present caricatures of the opposite:

17 He seizeth by the ears of a dog passing by,

     Who is excited by a strife which concerns him not.

According to the accentuation in the text, the proverb is to be translated with Fleischer: Qualis est qui prehendit aures canis, talis est qui forte transiens ira abripitur propter rixam alienam (eique temere se immiscent). Since he is cautioned against unwarranted interference, the expression מתערב בּדין might have been used (Proverbs 14:10), according to which the Syr. translates; but על־ריב substantiates the originality of מתעבּר (vid., Proverbs 14:16; Proverbs 20:2). On the other hand, the placing together, without any connection of the two participles, is perplexing; why not עבר וּמתעבּר? For it is certainly not meant, that falling into a passion he passes by; but that passing by, he falls into a passion; for he stands to this object. The Targumist, feeling this also, renders עבר in the sense of being angry, but contrary to the usus loq. Wherefore the conjecture of Euchel and Abramsohn commends itself, that עבר belongs to כלב - the figure thereby becomes more distinct. To seize one's own dog by the ear is not dangerous, but it is not advisable to do this with a strange dog. Therefore עבר belongs as a necessary attribute to the dog. The dog accidentally passing by corresponds to the strife to which one stands in no relation (ריב לא־ול, vid., regarding the Makkeph, Baer's Genesis, p. 85, not. 9). Whoever is excited to passion about a strife that does not belong to him, is like one who lays hold by the ears (the lxx arbitrarily: by the tail) of a dog that is passing by - to the one or to the other it happens right when he brings evil upon himself thereby.

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