Proverbs 29:21
He that delicately bringeth up his servant from a child shall have him become his son at the length.
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(21) Shall have him become his son at the last.—Confidential slaves sometimes rose to be the heirs of their master’s property. (See above on Proverbs 17:2.) But here the warning seems to be rather against spoiling a slave by over-indulgence, lest he at the last forget his position, just as old and petted servants are apt to become somewhat dictatorial.

Proverbs 29:21. He that delicately bringeth up his servant, &c. — Allowing him too much freedom and familiarity; shall have him become his son — Will find him, at last, grow insolent, and forgetful of his servile condition.

29:19. Here is an unprofitable, slothful, wicked servant; one that serves not from conscience, or love, but from fear. 20. When a man is self-conceited, rash, and given to wrangling, there is more hope of the ignorant and profligate. 21. Good usage to a servant does not mean indulgence, which would ruin even a child. The body is a servant to the soul; those that humour it, and are over-tender of it, will find it forget its place. 22. An angry, passionate disposition makes men provoking to one another, and provoking to God. 23. Only those who humble themselves shall be exalted and established. 24. The receiver is as bad as the thief. 25. Many are ashamed to own Christ now; and he will not own them in the day of judgment. But he that trusts in the Lord will be saved from this snare.Son - The Hebrew word occurs here only and is therefore of doubtful meaning. The favored slave, petted and pampered from boyhood, will claim at last the privilege, perhaps the inheritance, of sonship. 21. become his son—assume the place and privileges of one. He that delicately bringeth up his servant, allowing him too much freedom, and familiarity, and delicious fare, shall have him become his son; will find him at last grow insolent and presumptuous, and forgetful of his servile condition.

He that delicately bringeth up his servant from a child,.... In a very tender and affluent way uses him with great familiarity; makes him sit at table, with him, feeds him with dainties, and clothes him in the most handsome manner, as if he was one of his own children:

shall have him become his son at the length: he will expect to be used as a son; he will not care to do any servile work, or anything, especially that is hard and laborious; he will be for supplanting the son and heir, and think to inherit all himself; or, however, become proud, haughty, and saucy. Jarchi interprets this of the evil imagination, or the corruption of nature, which is in a man from a child; which, if cherished and not subdued, wilt in the issue rule over a man: and some apply it to the body; which, if delicately pampered, and not kept under, will be master of the soul, instead of servant to it, and its members be instruments of unrighteousness.

He that delicately bringeth up his servant from a child shall have him become his son at the length.
21. his son] The meaning of the word which occurs only here is doubtful (see R.V. marg.), but this is the most probable rendering of it. The Vulg., as referred to in R.V. marg., has sentiet eum contumacem, shall have him become refractory. The LXX. give the proverb differently: “He that lives delicately from his youth shall be a servant, and shall be grieved with himself (ὀδυνηθήσεται ἐφʼ ἑαυτῷ) at the last.”

Verse 21. - He that delicately bringeth up his servant from a child. The verb panak, which is not found elsewhere in the Old Testament, is rightly here translated as in the Vulgate, qui delicate nutrit. It refers to the spoiling a person by over-refinement, luxury, and pampering - a treatment peculiarly unsuitable in the case of a bond servant, and one which makes such forgetful of his dependent position. Septuagint, "He that liveth wantonly (κατασπαταλᾷ) from childhood shall be a servant." Shall have him become his son at the length; i.e. at length, like "at the last," equivalent to "at last" (Proverbs 5:11). The word rendered "son" (מַנון, manon) is of doubtful meaning, and has been variously understood or misunderstood by interpreters. Septuagint, "And in the end shall have pain (ὀδυνηθήσεται) over himself;" Symmachus, "shall have murmuring (ἔστα γογγυσμός);" Vulgate, Postea sentiet eum contumacem. Ewald translates "ungrateful;" Delitzsch, "place of increase," i.e. a household of pampered scapegraces; but one does not see how the disaster can be called a place or a house. It seems safest in this uncertainty to adopt the Jewish interpretation of "progeny:" "he will be as a son." The pampered servant will end by claiming the privileges of a son, and perhaps ousting the legitimate children from their inheritance (comp. Proverbs 17:2; and the case of Ziba and Mephibosheth, 2 Samuel 16:4). "Fodder, a stick, and burdens are for the ass; and bread, correction, and work for a servant. If thou set thy servant to labour, thou shalt find rest; but if thou let him go idle, he will seek liberty" (Ecclus. 33:24, etc.). Spiritual writers have applied this proverb to the pampering of the flesh, which ought to be under the control of its master, the spirit, but which, if gratified and unrestrained, gets the upper hand, and, like a spoiled servant, dictates to its lord. Proverbs 29:2121 If one pampers his servant from youth up,

     He will finally reach the place of a child.

The lxx had no answer to the question as to the meaning of מנון. On the other hand, for פּנּק, the meaning to fondle; delicatius enutrire, is perfectly warranted by the Aram. and Arab. The Talmud, Succa 52b, resorts to the alphabet בח''אט in order to reach a meaning for מנון. How the Targ. comes to translate the word by מנסּח (outrooted) is not clear; the rendering of Jerome: postea sentiet eum contumacem, is perhaps mediated by the ἔσται γογγυσμός of Symmachus, who combines נון with לון, Niph. γογγύζειν. The ὀθυνηθήσεται of the lxx, with the Syr., von Hofmann has sought to justify (Schriftbew. ii. 2. 404), for he derives מנון equals מנהון from נהה. We must then punctuate מנּון; but perhaps the lxx derived the word from אנן equals מאנון, whether they pronounced it מנון (cf. מסרת equals מאסרת) or מנּון. To follow them is not wise, for the formation of the word is precarious; one does not see with the speaker of this proverb, to whom the language presented a fulness of synonyms for the idea of complaint, meant by using this peculiar word. Linguistically these meanings are impossible: of Jerome, dominus equals ממנּה (Ahron b. Josef, Meri, and others); or: the oppressed equals מוּנה, from ינה (Johlson); or: one who is sick equals מונה (Euchel). and Ewald's "undankbar" [unthankful], derived from the Arabic, is a mere fancy, since (Arab.) manuwan does not mean one who is unthankful, but, on the contrary, one who upbraids good deeds shown.

(Note: In Jahrb. xi. p. 10f. Ewald compares, in an expressive way, the Ethiopic mannána (Piel) to scorn; menûn, a reprobate; and mannânı̂, one who is despised; according to which מנון hcih could certainly designate "a man despising scornfully his own benefactors, or an unthankful man." But this verbal stem is peculiarly Ethiop., and is certainly not once found in Arab. For minnat (which Ewald compares) denotes benefaction, and the duty laid on one thereby, the dependence thereby produced. The verb (Arab.) minn ( equals מנן) signifies to divide; and particularly, partly to confer benefaction, partly to attribute benefaction, reckon to, enumerate, and thereby to bring out the sense of obligation. Thus nothing is to be derived from this verbal stem for מנון.)

The ancients are in the right track, who explain מנון after the verb נוּן, Psalm 72:17 equals נין equals בּן; the Venet., herein following Kimchi, also adopts the nominal form, for it translates (but without perceptible meaning) γόνωσις. Luther's translation is fortunate:

"If a servant is tenderly treated from youth up,

He will accordingly become a Junker [squire]."

The ideas represented in modern Jewish translations: that of a son (e.g., Solomon: he will at last be the son) and that of a master (Zunz), are here united. But how the idea of a son (from the verb נון), at the same time that of a master, may arise, is not to be perceived in the same way as with Junker and the Spanish infante and hidalgo; rather with מנון, as the ironical naming of the son (little son), the idea of a weakling (de Wette) may be connected. The state of the matter appears as follows: - the Verb נוּן has the meanings of luxuriant growth, numerous propagation; the fish has from this the Aram. name of נוּן, like the Heb. דּג, from דּגה, which also means luxuriant, exuberant increase (vid., at Psalm 72:17). From this is derived נין, which designates the offspring as a component part of a kindred, as well as מנון, which, according as the מ is interpreted infin. or local, means either this, that it sprouts up luxuriantly, the abundant growth, or also the place of luxuriant sprouting, wanton growing, abundant and quick multiplication: thus the place of hatching, spawning. The subject in יהיה might be the fondled one; but it lies nearer, however, to take him who fondles as the subject, as in 21a. אחריתו is either adv. accus. for באחריתו, or, as we preferred at Proverbs 23:32, it is the subj. introducing, after the manner of a substantival clause, the following sentence as its virtual predicate: "one has fondled his servant from his youth up, and his (that of the one who fondles) end is: he will become a place of increase." The master of the house is thought of along with his house; and the servant as one who, having become a man, presents his master with ילידי בּית, who are spoilt scapegraces, as he himself has become by the pampering of his master. There was used in the language of the people, נין for בּן, in the sense on which we name a degenerate son a "Schnes Frchtchen" [pretty little fruit]; and מנון is a place (house) where many נינים are; and a man (master of a house) who has many of them is one whose family has increased over his head. One reaches the same meaning if מנון is rendered more immediately as the place or state of growing, increasing, luxuriating. The sense is in any case: he will not be able, in the end, any more to defend himself against the crowd which grows up to him from this his darling, but will be merely a passive part of it.

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