Whoever digs a pit shall fall therein: and he that rolls a stone, it will return on him.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein,—A simile taken from hunters making pits as traps for wild animals. The same doctrine of retribution being brought upon the sinner’s head by God the righteous Judge is taught in Psalm 7:11, sqq.Proverbs 26:27. Whoso diggeth a pit — That another may fall into it; shall fall therein — Himself. For, by the righteous judgment of God, the wicked are not only generally disappointed in their designs, but involve themselves in that mischief which they intended to do to others: see on Psalm 7:15; Psalm 9:15. And he that rolleth a stone — Namely, up a hill, with a design to do mischief to some person or thing with it; it will return upon him — And greatly injure if not crush him to pieces.Judges 9:53; 2 Samuel 11:21. The man is supposed to be rolling the stone up to the heights. Whoso diggeth a pit, that another may fall into it. It is a metaphor from hunters, who used to dig deep pits, and then to cover them slightly with earth, that wild beasts passing that way might fall into them, and sometimes in the heat of pursuit fell into them themselves.
That rolleth a stone, to wit, up the hill, with design to do mischief to some person or thing with it. Psalm 7:15;
and he that rolleth a stone, it will return upon him; that rolls a stone up hill, if he does not take care, it will return back, and fall with great force upon himself; so the mischief which a wicked man labours hard at, as men do in digging a pit, or rolling a stone, in time rolls back upon themselves; the measure they mete out to others is measured to them. Jarchi makes mention of an "hagadah", or exposition, which illustrates this passage, by the case of Abimelech; who slew threescore and ten persons on one stone, and was himself killed with a piece of a millstone cast upon him, Judges 9:18; this may put in mind of the fable of Sisyphus (o), feigned in hell to roll a great stone to the top of a mountain, which presently falling down on his head, made his labour fruitless.Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein: and he that rolleth a stone, it will return upon him.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)27. Comp. Psalm 7:15-16; Sir 27:25-27.Verse 27. - Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein. This thought is found often elsewhere; e.g., Psalm 7:16; Psalm 9:16; Ecclesiastes 10:8; Ecclus. 27:25, 26. The pit is such a one as was made to catch wild animals; the maker is supposed to approach incautiously one of these traps, and to tall into it. And he that rolleth a stone, it will return upon him. This does not refer to throwing stones into the air, which fall upon the head of the thrower, but to rolling stones up a height in order to hurl them down upon the enemy (comp. Judges 9:53; 2 Samuel 11:21). Of such retributive justice we have numerous examples;e.g., Haman hung on the gallows which he had prepared for Mordecai (Esther 7:9, etc.). So the old story tells how Perillus, the inventor of the brazen bull in which prisoners were to be burned alive, was himself made to prove the efficacy of his own invention by the tyrant Phalaris; as Ovid says
"Et Phalaris tauro violenti membra Perilli
Torruit; infelix imbuit auctor opus."
(Art. Amat.,' 1:653.) So we have, "Damnosus aliis, damnosus est sibi;" Ἡ δὲ βουλὴ τῷ βουλεύσαντι κακίστη. St. Chrysostom speaks of the blindness of malice: "Let us not plot against others, lest we injure ourselves. When we supplant the reputation of others, let us consider that we injure ourselves, it is against ourselves that we plot. For perchance with men we do him harm, if we have power, but ourselves in the sight of God, by provoking him against us. Let us not, then, injure ourselves. For as we injure ourselves when we injure our neighbours, so by benefiting them we benefit ourselves" ('Hom. 14, in Phil.,' Oxford transl.).
And a contentious man to stir up strife.
The Venet. translates פּחם by καρβών, and גּחלת by ἄνθραξ; the former (from פּחם, Arab. faḥuma, to be deep black) is coal in itself; the latter (from גּחל, jaham, to set on fire, and intrans. to burn), coal in a glowing state (e.g., Proverbs 25:22; Ezekiel 1:13). Black coal is suited to glowing coal, to nourish it; and wood to the fire, to sustain it; and a contentious man is suited for and serves this purpose, to kindle up strife. חרר signifies to be hot, and the Pilpel חרחר, to heat, i.e., to make hot or hotter. The three - coal, wood, and the contentious man - are alike, in that they are a means to an end.
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