Proverbs 26:7
The legs of the lame are not equal: so is a parable in the mouth of fools.
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(7) The legs of the lame are not equal.—Better, perhaps. The legs hang down from a lame man, and so is a parable (useless) in the mouth of fools; they can make no more use of it for the guidance of themselves or others, than can a lame man use his legs. (Comp. Luke 8:10.)

Proverbs 26:7. The legs of the lame are not equal — Hebrew, דליו, are lifted up, namely, in going, which is done with great inequality and uncomeliness; so is a parable in the mouth of fools — No less absurd and indecent are wise and pious speeches from a foolish and ungodly man, whose actions grossly contradict them, whereby he makes them contemptible, and himself ridiculous.

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.Or, Take away the legs of the lame man, and the parable that is in the mouth of fools: both are alike useless to their possessors. Other meanings are:

(1) "The legs of the lame man are feeble, so is parable in the mouth of fools."

(2) "the lifting up of the legs of a lame man, i. e., his attempts at dancing, are as the parable in the mouth of fools."

7. legs … equal—or, "take away the legs," or "the legs … are weak." In any case the idea is that they are the occasion of an awkwardness, such as the fool shows in using a parable or proverb (see [647]Introduction; Pr 17:7). The legs of the lame are not equal, Heb. As (which note of similitude is plainly understood from the particle so in the following clause) the legs of the lame are lifted up, to wit, in going, or rather in dancing, which is done with great inequality and uncomeliness.

So is a parable in the mouth of fools; no less absurd and indecent are wise and pious speeches from a foolish and ungodly man, whose actions grossly contradict them, whereby he makes them contemptible, and himself ridiculous.

The legs of the lame are not equal,.... Or as "the lifting up the legs by one that is lame" (m), to dance to a pipe or violin, is very unseemly, and does but the more expose his infirmity, and can give no pleasure to others, but causes derision and contempt;

so is a parable in the mouth of fools; an apophthegm, or sententious expression of his own, which he delivers out as a wise saying, but is lame and halts; it is not consistent with itself, but like the legs of a lame man, one higher than the other: or one of the proverbs of this book, or rather any passage of Scripture, in the mouth of a wicked man; or any religious discourse of his is very unsuitable, since his life and conversation do not agree with it; it is as disagreeable to hear such a man talk of religious affairs as it is to see a lame man dance; or whose legs imitate buckets at a well, where one goes up and another down, as Gussetius (n) interprets the word.

(m) "elevatio crurum a claudo facta", Gejerus, Michaelis. (n) "Femora claudi imitantur situlas", Gussetius, p. 188. "situlas agunt crura ex claudio", Schultens; "instar binarum sitularum in puteo alternatium adscendentium ac descendentium", Gejerus.

The legs of the lame are not equal: so is a parable in the mouth of fools.
7. are not equal] Rather, hang loose, R.V. The strongest members of the body and the weightiest aphorisms of wisdom are alike useless appendages to one who lacks the power to turn them to account.

Verse 7. - The legs of a lame man are not equal. The first word of this verse, דַּלְיוּ, has occasioned some difficulty. It is considered as an imperative from דלה, "draw off," "take away." Thus the Septuagint, ἀφελοῦ; Venetian, ἐπάρατε. But the verb seems never to have this meaning; nor, if it had, would the sense be very satisfactory, for. as Delitzsch points out, lame legs are better than none, and there is a great difference between the perfectly crippled or paralytic who has to be carried, and the lame man (פִסֵּחַ) who can limp or get along on crutches., And when we explain the proverb in this sense (as Plumptre), "Take away the legs of the lame man and the parable from the mouth of fools," for both alike ere useless to their possessors, and their loss would not be felt - we must recognize that the conclusion is not true. No one would think of amputating s man's legs simply because he was lame, and such a one's legs cannot be considered absolutely useless. Others regard the word as third plural kal, "the legs hang loose;" though the form is not sufficiently accounted for. All explanations of the word as a verbal form have such difficulties, that some take it as a noun, meaning "dancing," which is Luther's interpretation, "as dancing to a cripple, so it becometh a fool to talk of wisdom." But the word could never sightly anything but "limping," and could not express the elegant motion of dancing. The Authorized Version considers the Hebrew to mean, "are lifted up," i.e. are unequal, one being longer or stronger than the other; but this loses the force of the comparison. There seems to be no better interpretation than that mentioned above," The legs of the lame hang loose," i.e. are unserviceable, however sound in appearance. St. Jerome has expressed this, though in a strange fashion, "As it is vain for a lame man to have seemly legs." So is a parable in the mouth of a fool. "Parable" (mashal), sententious saying, the enunciation of which, as well as the recital of stories, was always a great feature in Eastern companies, and afforded a test of a man's ability. A fool fails in the exhibition; he misses the point of the wise saying which he produces; it falls lame from his mouth, affords no instruction to others, and makes no way with its hearers. Siracides gives another reason for the incongruity, "A parable shall be rejected when it cometh out of a fool's mouth; for he will not speak it in its season" (Ecclus. 20:20). Septuagint, "Take away the motion of legs, and transgression (παρανομίαν,? παροιμίαν, Lag.) from the mouth of fools." Proverbs 26:77 The hanging down of the legs of a lame man;

   And a proverb in a fool's mouth.

With reference to the obscure דּליוּ, the following views have been maintained: - (1) The form as punctuated appears directly as an imperative. Thus the lxx translate, the original text of which is here: ἀφελοῦ πορείαν κυλλῶν (conj. Lagarde's) καὶ παροιμίαν ἐκ στόματος ἀφρόνων, which the Syr. (with its imitator, the Targ.) has rendered positively: "If thou canst give the power of (sound) going to the lame, then wilt thou also receive (prudent) words from the mouth of a fool." Since Kimchi, דּליוּ has been regarded by many as the softening of the Imp. Piel דּדּוּ, according to which the Venet. translates: ἐπάρατε κνήμας χωλοῦ; and Bertheau and Zckler explain: always take away his legs from the lame, since they are in reality useless to him, just as a proverb in the mouth of the fool is useless - something that without loss might be never there." But why did not the poet write הרימוּ, or הסירוּ, or קחוּ, or the like? דּלּי, to carry away, to dispense with, is Syriac (Targ. Jer. I, under Deuteronomy 32:50), but not Hebrew. And how meaningless is this expression! A lame man would withstand a surgeon (as he would a murderer) who would amputate his legs; for lame legs are certainly better than none, especially since there is a great distinction between a lame man (פּדּח, from פּסח, luxare; cf. (Arab.) fasaḥ, laxare, vid., Schultens) who halts or goes on crutches (2 Samuel 3:29), and one who is maimed (paralytic), who needs to be carried. It comes to this, that by this rendering of 7a one must, as a consequence, with the lxx, regard וּמשׁל [and a proverb] as object. accus. parallel to שׁקים [legs]; but "to draw a proverb from one's mouth" is, after Proverbs 20:5, something quite different from to tear a proverb away from him, besides which, one cannot see how it is to be caught. Rather one would prefer: attollite crura claudi (ut incedat, et nihil promovebitis); but the מן of מפּסּח does not accord with this, and 7b does not connect itself with it. But the explanation: "take away the legs from a lame man who has none, at least none to use, and a proverb in the mouth of fools, when there is none," is shattered against the "leg-taking-away," which can only be used perhaps of frogs' legs. (2) Symmachus translates: ἐξέλιπον κνῆμαι ἀπὸ χωλοῦ; and Chajg explains דּליוּ as 3 pret. Kal, to which Kimchi adds the remark, that he appears to have found דּליוּ, which indeed is noted by Norzi and J. H. Michaelis as a variant. But the Masoretic reading is דּליוּ, and this, after Gesenius and Bttcher (who in this, without any reason, sees an Ephraimitic form of uttering the word), is a softened variation from דּדּוּ. Only it is a pity that this softening, while it is supported by alius equals ἄλλος, folium equals φύλλον, faillir equals fallere, and the like, has yet not a single Hebrew or Semitic example in its favour. (3) Therefore Ewald finds, "all things considered," that it is best to read דּליוּ, "the legs are too loose for the lame man to use them." But, with Dietrich, we cannot concur in this, nor in the more appropriate translation: "the legs of the lame hang down loose," to say nothing of the clearly impossible: "high are the legs of the lame (one higher than the other)," and that because this form גּליוּ for גּליוּ also occurs without pause, Psalm 57:2; Psalm 73:2; Psalm 122:6; Isaiah 21:12; but although thus, as at Psalm 36:9; Psalm 68:32, at the beginning of a clause, yet always only in connection, never at the beginning of an address. (4) It has also been attempted to interpret דּליוּ as abstr., e.g., Euchel: "he learns from a cripple to dance, who seeks to learn proverbs from the mouth of a fool." דּליוּ שׁקים must mean the lifting up of the legs equals springing and dancing. Accordingly Luther translates:

"As dancing to a cripple,

So does it become a fool to speak of wisdom."

The thought is agreeable, and according to fact; but these words to not mean dancing, but much rather, as the Arabic shows (vid., Schultens at Proverbs 20:5, and on the passage before us), a limping, waddling walk, like that of ducks, after the manner of a well-bucket dangling to and fro. And דּליוּ, after the form מלכוּ, would be an unheard-of Aramaism. For forms such as שׂחוּ, swimming, and שׁלוּ, security, Psalm 30:7, on which C. B. Michaelis and others rest, cannot be compared, since they are modified from sachw, ṣalw, while in דּליוּ the ending must be, and besides the Aramaic דּליוּ must in st. constr. be דּליוּוּת. Since none of these explanations are grammatically satisfactory, and besides דּליוּ equals דּללוּ equals דּדּוּ gives a parallel member which is heterogeneous and not conformable to the nature of an emblematical proverb, we read דּלּוּי after the forms צפּוּי, שׁקּוּי (cf. חבּוּק, Proverbs 6:10; Proverbs 24:33), and this signifies loose, hanging down, from דּלה, to hang at length and loosely down, or transitively: to hang, particularly of the hanging down at length of the bucket-rope, and of the bucket itself, to draw water from the well. The מן is similar to that of Job 28:4, only that here the connecting of the hanging down, and of that from which it hangs down, is clear. Were we to express the purely nominally expressed emblematical proverb in the form of a comparative one, it would thus stand as Fleischer translates it: ut laxa et flaccida dependent (torpent) crura a claudo, sic sententia in ore stultorum (sc. torpet h. e. inutilis est). The fool can as little make use of an intelligent proverb, or moral maxim (dictum sententiosum), as a lame man can of his feet; the word, which in itself is full of thought, and excellent, becomes halting, lame, and loose in his mouth (Schultens: deformiter claudicat); it has, as spoken and applied by him, neither hand nor foot. Strangely, yet without missing the point, Jerome: quomodo pulcras frustra habet claudus tibias, sic indecens est in ore stultorum parabola. The lame man possibly has limbs that appear sound; but when he seeks to walk, they fail to do him service - so a bon-mot comes forth awkwardly when the fool seeks to make use of it. Hitzig's conjecture: as leaping of the legs on the part of a lame man..., Bttcher has already shown sufficient reasons for rejecting; leaping on the part of any one, for the leaping of any one, were a court style familiar to no poet.

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