Proverbs 28:3
A poor man that oppresseth the poor is like a sweeping rain which leaveth no food.
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(3) A poor man that oppresseth the poor.—If the recollection of his own former troubles has not softened his heart towards his poor neighbours, he will be rendered more callous to their sufferings.

Is like a sweeping rain which leaveth no food.—That sweeps away grain and soil, instead of bringing plenty with it.

Proverbs 28:3. A poor man that oppresseth the poor — Who, being advanced into a place of authority, abuses it, to oppress those that are poor, and unable to resist him; is like a sweeping rain, or flood, which leaveth no food — Which washeth away the very seeds that are in the earth, and spoils the corn and fruit which are upon it. He is the worst of all oppressors, because his low and base mind is made worse by his sudden elevation into a high condition, and his own necessities inflame his desires, and make him greedy to take all, yea, even the smallest advantages for enriching himself. This the ancients expressed by the similitudes of an empty horseleech, which sticks much more strongly than that which is already filled; and of a dry sponge, which licks up far more water than one which is wet before. See Lord Bacon’s Adv. of Learning, lib. 8. cap. 2.

28:1 Sin makes men cowards. Whatever difficulties the righteous meet in the way of duty, they are not daunted. 2. National sins disturb the public repose. 3. If needy persons get opportunities of oppressing, their extortion will be more severe than that of the more wealthy. 4. Wicked people strengthen one another in wicked ways. 5. If a man seeks the Lord, it is a good sign that he understands much, and it is a good means of understanding more. 6. An honest, godly, poor man, is better than a wicked, ungodly, rich man; has more comfort in himself, and is a greater blessing to the world. 7. Companions of riotous men not only grieve their parents, but shame them. 8. That which is ill got, though it may increase much, will not last long. Thus the poor are repaid, and God is glorified. 9. The sinner at whose prayers God is angry, is one who obstinately refuses to obey God's commands. 10. The success of ungodly men is their own misery. 11. Rich men are so flattered, that they think themselves superior to others. 12. There is glory in the land when the righteous have liberty. 13. It is folly to indulge sin, and excuse it. He who covers his sins, shall not have any true peace. He who humbly confesses his sins, with true repentance and faith, shall find mercy from God. The Son of God is our great atonement. Under a deep sense of our guilt and danger, we may claim salvation from that mercy which reigns through righteousness unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord. 14. There is a fear which causes happiness. Faith and love will deliver from the fear of eternal misery; but we should always fear offending God, and fear sinning against him. 15. A wicked ruler, whatever we may call him, this scripture calls a roaring lion, and a ranging bear. 16. Oppressors want understanding; they do not consult their own honour, ease, and safety. 17. The murderer shall be haunted with terrors. None shall desire to save him from deserved punishment, nor pity him.People raise a man of the people, poor like themselves, to power. They find him the worst oppressor of all, plundering them to their last morsels, like the storm-rain which sweeps off the seed-corn instead of bringing fertility. 3. A poor man, &c.—Such, in power, exact more severely, and so leave subjects bare. When a poor man being advanced into a place of authority, abuseth it to oppress those that are poor and unable to resist him, he is like a violent rain or flood, which washeth away the very seeds which are in the earth, and spoileth the corn and fruits which are upon it. He is the worst of all oppressors, because as he is of a base mind, which also is made much worse by a sudden change and elevation into a high condition; so his own necessities inflame his desires, and make him greedy to take all, yea, even the small, advantages of enriching himself; which the ancients expressed by the similitude of an empty horseleech, which sucketh much more strongly than that which is already filled; and of a dry sponge, which licks up far more water than that which was wet before.

A poor man that oppresseth the poor,.... Either one that is poor at the time he oppresses another like himself, either by secret fraud or open injury; from whom the oppressed can get no redress, as sometimes he may and does from a rich man: or rather one that has been poor, but now become rich, and got into some place of authority and profit, who should remember what he had been; and it might be expected that such an one would put on bowels of compassion towards the poor, as knowing what it was to be in indigent circumstances; but if, instead of this, he exercises his authority over the poor in a severe and rigid manner, and oppresses them, and squeezes that little out of them they have: he

is like a sweeping rain which leaveth no food: like a violent hasty shower of rain; which, instead of watering the seed, herbs, and plants, and causing them to grow, as moderate rain does, it washes away the very seed sown in the earth, or beats out the ripe corn from the ears, or beats it down, so that it riseth not up again; the effect of which is, there is no bread to the eater, nor seed to the sower, and consequently a famine. The design of the proverb is, to show how unnatural as well as intolerable is the oppression of the poor, by one that has been poor himself; even as it is contrary to the nature and use of rain, which is to fructify, and not to sweep away and destroy; and which when it does, there is no standing against it or diverting it.

A poor man that oppresseth the poor is like a sweeping rain which leaveth no food.
3. a poor man] Better, with R.V., a needy man, the Hebrew word being different from that rendered poor immediately after.

The proverb has commonly been held to refer to official oppression. “A man in authority is implied. In many Eastern countries the offices of government are frequently sold to needy men, who use their power to reimburse themselves by oppressing others,” Rel. Tr. Soc. Comm. But the scope of the proverb must not be restricted to this. It is quite general, and is verified in the exactions of the needy employer, or owner, or creditor among ourselves, as well as in the oppression of Oriental misrule.

“The hungry contractor undertakes the job at the lowest possible price, and secures his profit by getting hungrier and weaker creatures than himself to do the work at a price lower than possible, literally at starvation wages.” Horton.

leaveth no food] Heb. without food; Vulg. in quo paratur fames; which, instead of bringing fruitful seasons (Acts 14:17; Isaiah 30:23), takes away man’s food by uprooting the herbs of the field and washing the seed corn out of the earth.

Verse 3. - A poor man that oppresseth the poor. The words rendered "poor" are different. The former is rash, "needy," the latter dal, "feeble" (see on Proverbs 10:15). Delitzsch notes that, in accordance with the accents in the Masoretic text, we should translate, "A poor man and an oppressor of the lowly - a sweeping rain without bringing bread," which would mean that a tyrant who oppresses the lowly bears the same relation to the poor that a devastating rain does to those whom it deprives of their food. But it is pretty certain that "the poor" and "the oppressor" designate the same person (though the vocalization is against it); hence the gnome refers to a usurper who, rising to power from poor estate, makes the very worst and most tyrannical ruler. Such a one has learned nothing from his former condition but callous indifference, and now seeks to exercise on others that power which once galled him. Thus among schoolboys it is found that the greatest bully is one who has himself been bullied; and needy revolutionists make the most rapacious and iniquitous demagogues. Of such tyrants the prophets complain (see Isaiah 5:8, etc.; Micah 2:2). Wordsworth refers, as an illustration, to Catiline and his fellow conspirators, who were moved by selfish interests to overthrow the commonwealth. Many modern commentators (e.g., Hitzig, Delitzsch, Nowack), in view of the present text, regarding the combination נבר רשׁ, and noting that elsewhere the oppressor and the poor are always introduced in opposition (comp. Proverbs 29:13), read רלֺאשׁ, or consider רשׁ as equivalent to it - rosh, "the head," in the signification of "master," "ruler." The gnome thus becomes concinnous, the ruler who ought to benefit his dependents, but injures them, corresponding to the rain which, instead of fertilizing, devastates the crops. The LXX. had a different reading, as it readers, "A bold man in his impieties (ἀνδρεῖος ἐν ἀσεβείαις) calumniates the poor." Is like a sweeping rain which leaveth no food; literally, and not bread. A violent storm coming at seed time and washing away soil and seed, or happening at harvest time and destroying the ripe corn. Vulgate, Similis est imbri vehementi, in quo paratur fames. Ewald supposes that such proverbs as these and the following belong to the time of Jeroboam II, when the prosperity of the people induced luxury and arrogance, and was accompanied with much moral evil, oppression, and perversion of justice ('Hist. of Israel,' 3:126, Eng. transl.). The Bengalee compares the relation of the rich oppressor to the poor, not with the rainstorm, but with that of the carving knife to the pumpkin. Proverbs 28:3A proverb of a tyrant here connects itself with that of usurpers:

A poor man and an oppressor of the lowly -

A sweeping rain without bringing bread.

Thus it is to be translated according to the accents. Fleischer otherwise, but also in conformity with the accents: Quales sunt vir pauper et oppressor miserorum, tales sunt pluvia omnia secum abripiens et qui panem non habent, i.e., the relation between a poor man and an oppressor of the needy is the same as that between a rain carrying all away with it and a people robbed thereby of their sustenance; in other words: a prince or potentate who robs the poor of their possessions is like a pouring rain which floods the fruitful fields - the separate members of the sentence would then correspond with each other after the scheme of the chiasmus. But the comparison would be faulty, for גּבר רשׁ and אין לחם fall together, and then the explanation would be idem per idem. A "sweeping rain" is one which has only that which is bad, and not that which is good in rain, for it only destroys instead of promoting the growth of the corn; and as the Arab, according to a proverb compared by Hitzig, says of an unjust sultan, that he is a stream without water, so an oppressor of the helpless is appropriately compared to a rain which floods the land and brings no bread. But then the words, "a poor man and an oppressor of the lowly," must designate one person, and in that case the Heb. words must be accentuated, גבר רשׁ ועשׁק דלים (cf. Proverbs 29:4). For, that the oppressor of the helpless deports himself toward the poor man like a sweeping rain which brings no bread, is a saying not intended to be here used, since this is altogether too obvious, that the poor man has nothing to hope for from such an extortioner. But the comparison would be appropriate if 3a referred to an oppressive master; for one who belongs to a master, or who is in any way subordinated to him, has before all to expect from him that which is good, as a requital for his services, and as a proof of his master's condescending sympathy. It is thus asked whether "a poor man and an oppressor of the lowly" may be two properties united in the person of one master. This is certainly possible, for he may be primarily a poor official or an upstart (Zckler), such as were the Roman proconsuls and procurators, who enriched themselves by impoverishing their provinces (cf. lxx Proverbs 28:15); or a hereditary proprietor, who seeks to regain what he has lost by extorting it from his relatives and workmen. But רשׁ (poor) is not sufficient to give this definite feature to the figure of the master; and what does this feature in the figure of the master at all mean? What the comparison 3b says is appropriate to any oppressive ruler, and one does not think of an oppressor of the poor as himself poor; he may find himself in the midst of shattered possessions, but he is not poor; much rather the oppressor and the poor are, as e.g., at Proverbs 29:13, contrasted with each other. Therefore we hold, with Hitzig, that רשׁ of the text is to be read rosh, whether we have to change it into ראשׁ, or to suppose that the Jewish transcriber has here for once slipped into the Phoenician writing of the word;

(Note: The Phoen. writes רש (i.e., רשׁ, rus); vid., Schrder's Phnizische Gram. p. 133; cf. Gesen. Thes. under ראשׁ.)

we do not interpret, with Hitzig, גּבר ראשׁ in the sense of ἄνθρωπος δυνάστης, Sir. 8:1, but explain: a man (or master equals גּביר) is the head (cf. e.g., Judges 11:8), and oppresses the helpless. This rendering is probable, because גּבר רשׁ, a poor man, is a combination of words without a parallel; the Book of Proverbs does not once use the expression אישׁ רשׁ, but always simply רשׁ (e.g., Proverbs 28:6; Proverbs 29:13); and גּבר is compatible with חכם and the like, but not with רשׁ. If we stumble at the isolated position of ראשׁ, we should consider that it is in a certain measure covered by דלים; for one has to think of the גבר, who is the ראשׁ, also as the ראשׁ of these דלים, as one placed in a high station who numbers poor people among his subordinates. The lxx translates ἀνδρεῖος ἐν ἀσεβείαις as if the words of the text were גּבּור רשׁע (cf. the interchange of גּבר and גּבּור in both texts of Psalm 18:26), but what the lxx read must have been גּבּור להרשׁיע (Isaiah 5:22); and what can גּבּור here mean? The statement here made refers to the ruinous conduct of a גּבר, a man of standing, or גּביר, a high lord, a "wicked ruler," Proverbs 28:15. On the contrary, what kind of rain the rule of an ideal governor is compared to, Psalm 72:1-8 tells.

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