Proverbs 27:22
Though thou shouldest bray a fool in a mortar among wheat with a pestle, yet will not his foolishness depart from him.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(22) Though thou shouldest bray (i.e., pound) a fool (a self-willed, headstrong person) in a mortar among wheat with a pestle.—This would separate completely the husks from the wheat; but obstinacy has become a part of such a man’s nature, and cannot be got rid of even by such violent measures.

Proverbs 27:22. Though thou shouldest bray, &c. — “The folly and wickedness of some men are so incurable, that though unto reproofs, and chidings, and threatenings, you should add stripes and blows, they would not grow a whit the wiser or better for it.” Not natural, but moral and wilful fools are here intended, who, by long continuance in sin, are hardened and stupified, and so are become incorrigible under all the means of amendment.

27:15,16. The contentions of a neighbour may be like a sharp shower, troublesome for a time; the contentions of a wife are like constant rain. 17. We are cautioned to take heed whom we converse with. And directed to have in view, in conversation, to make one another wiser and better. 18. Though a calling be laborious and despised, yet those who keep to it, will find there is something to be got by it. God is a Master who has engaged to honour those who serve him faithfully. 19. One corrupt heart is like another; so are sanctified hearts: the former bear the same image of the earthly, the latter the same image of the heavenly. Let us carefully watch our own hearts, comparing them with the word of God. 20. Two things are here said to be never satisfied, death and sin. The appetites of the carnal mind for profit or pleasure are always desiring more. Those whose eyes are ever toward the Lord, are satisfied in him, and shall for ever be so. 21. Silver and gold are tried by putting them into the furnace and fining-pot; so is a man tried by praising him. 22. Some are so bad, that even severe methods do not answer the end; what remains but that they should be rejected? The new-creating power of God's grace alone is able to make a change. 23-27. We ought to have some business to do in this world, and not to live in idleness, and not to meddle with what we do not understand. We must be diligent and take pains. Let us do what we can, still the world cannot be secured to us, therefore we must choose a more lasting portion; but by the blessing of God upon our honest labours, we may expect to enjoy as much of earthly blessings as is good for us.Bray - To pound wheat in a mortar with a pestle, in order to free the wheat from its husks and impurities, is to go through a far more elaborate process than threshing. But the folly of the fool is not thus to be got rid of. It sticks to him to the last; all discipline, teaching, experience seem to be wasted on him. 22. The obstinate wickedness of such is incurable by the heaviest inflictions. Not a natural, but a moral and wilful fool, who by long continuance in sin is hardened and stupefied, and so incorrigible under all the means of amendment.

Though thou shouldest bray a fool in a mortar among wheat with a pestle,.... As the manna was, Numbers 11:8; and as wheat beat and bruised in a mortar, or ground in a mill, retains its own nature; so, let a wicked man be used ever so roughly or severely, by words, admonitions, reproofs, and counsels; or by deeds, by corrections and punishment, by hard words or blows, whether publicly or privately; in the midst of the congregation, as the Targum and Syriac version; or of the sanhedrim and council, as the Septuagint and Arabic versions;

yet will not his foolishness depart from him; his inbred depravity and natural malignity and folly will not remove, nor will he leave his course of sinning he has been accustomed to; he is stricken in vain, he will revolt more and more, Isaiah 1:5. Anaxarchus the philosopher was ordered by the tyrant Nicocreon to be pounded to death in a stone mortar with iron pestles (q), and which he endured with great patience.

(q) Laert. in Vit. Anaxarch. l. 9. p. 668.

Though thou shouldest bray a fool in a mortar among wheat with a pestle, yet will not his foolishness depart from him.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
22. wheat] Rather, bruised corn. In the only other place in which it occurs (2 Samuel 17:19) the word is rendered ground corn, A.V., and bruised corn, R.V. See note there in this Series.

Proverbs 27:23-27. The praises of agriculture, or of pastoral life.

It well repays the diligence bestowed upon it (Proverbs 27:23), and is more reliable in its nature than other kinds of wealth, and even than a kingly crown (Proverbs 27:24). No sooner is one crop carried than another begins to grow, and the harvest of the earth is sure (Proverbs 27:25). The flocks, ever increasing, supply clothing, and equal in value the land which supports them (Proverbs 27:26), while their produce will maintain in plenty their owner and his household (Proverbs 27:27).

Verse 22. - Though thou shouldest bray a fool in a mortar among wheat with a pestle. "To bray" is to pound or beat small. "Wheat," רִיפות, riphoth (only in 2 Samuel 17:19), "bruised corn." Vulgate, In pila quasi ptisanas (barley groats) feriente; Aquila and Theodotion, Ἐν μέσῳ ἐμπτισσομένων "In the midst of grains of corn being pounded." The LXX., reading, differently, has, "Though thou scourge a fool, disgracing him (ἐν μεσῳ συνεδρίου) in the midst of the congregation." Of course, the process of separating the husks from the corn by the use of pestle and mortar is much more delicate and careful than threshing in the usual clumsy way; hence is expressed the idea that the most elaborate pains are wasted on the incorrigible fool (see on Proverbs 1:20). His foolishness will not depart from him. An obstinate, self-willed, unprincipled man cannot be reformed by any means; his folly has become a second nature, and is not to be eliminated by any teaching, discipline, or severity. There is, too, a judicial blindness, when, after repeated warnings wilfully rejected and scorned, the sinner is left to himself, given over to a reprobate mind "Whoso teacheth a fool," Siracides pronounces, "is as one that glueth a potsherd together, and as he that waketh one from a sound sleep" (Ecclus. 22:7). Again, "The inner parts of a fool are like a broken vessel, and he will hold no knowledge as long as he liveth" (Ecclus. 21:14). In Turkey, we are told, great criminals were beaten to pieces in huge mortars of iron, in which they usually pounded rice. "You cannot straighten a dog's tail, try as you may," says a Telugu maxim (Lane). There is a saying of Schiller's which is quite proverbial, "Heaven and earth fight in vain against a dunce." Horace, 'Epist.,' 1:10, 24 -

"Naturam expellas furca, tamen usque recurret." Juvenal, 'Sat.,' 13:239 -

"Tamen ad mores natura recurrit
Damnatos, fixa et mutari nescia."
Proverbs 27:2222 Though thou bruise a fool in a mortar among grit with a pestle,

     Yet would not his folly depart from him.

According to the best accredited accentuations, אם־תּכתּושׁ has Illuj. and בּמּכתּשׁ has Pazer, not Rebia, which would separate more than the Dechi, and disturb the sequence of the thoughts. The first line is long; the chief disjunctive in the sphere of the Athnach is Dechi of 'הר, this disjoins more than the Pazer of 'בּם, and this again more than the Legarmeh of את־האויל. The ה of הרפות does not belong to the stem of the word (Hitzig), but is the article; רפות (from רוּף, to shake, to break; according to Schultens, from רפת, to crumble, to cut in pieces, after the form קיטור, which is improbable) are bruised grains of corn (peeled grain, grit), here they receive this name in the act of being bruised; rightly Aquila and Theodotion, ἐν μέσῳ ἐμπτισσομένων (grains of corn in the act of being pounded or bruised), and the Venet. μέσον τῶν πτισανῶν.

(Note: The lxx translates ἐν μέσῳ συνεδρίου, and has thereby misled the Syr., and mediately the Targum.)

In בּעלי (thus to be written after Michlol 43b, not בּעלי, as Heidenheim writes it without any authority) also the article is contained. מכתשׁ is the vessel, and the ב of בעלי is Beth instrumenti; עלי (of lifting up for the purpose of bruising) is the club, pestle (Luther: stempffel equals pounder); in the Mishna, Beza i. 5, this word denotes a pounder for the cutting out of flesh. The proverb interprets itself: folly has become to the fool as a second nature, and he is not to be delivered from it by the sternest discipline, the severest means that may be tried; it is not indeed his substance (Hitzig), but an inalienable accident of his substance.

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