He that delicately brings up his servant from a child shall have him become his son at the length.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)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. 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.
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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)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 29:15, is placed next to one with שׁופט, but it begins a group of proverbs regarding discipline in the house and among the people:
15 The rod and reproof give wisdom;
But an undisciplined son is a shame to his mother.
With שׁבט [a rod], which Proverbs 22:15 also commends as salutary, תּוכחת refers to discipline by means of words, which must accompany bodily discipline, and without them is also necessary; the construction of the first line follows in number and gender the scheme Proverbs 27:9, Zechariah 7:7; Ewald, 339c. In the second line the mother is named, whose tender love often degenerates into a fond indulgence; such a darling, such a mother's son, becomes a disgrace to his mother. Our "ausgelassen," by which Hitzig translates משׁלּח, is used of joyfulness unbridled and without self-restraint, and is in the passage before us too feeble a word; שׁלּח is used of animals pasturing at liberty, wandering in freedom (Job 39:5; Isaiah 16:2); נער משׁלח is accordingly a child who is kept in by no restraint and no punishment, one left to himself, and thus undisciplined (Luther, Gesenius, Fleischer, and others).
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