The king by judgment establishes the land: but he that receives gifts overthrows it.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)By judgment.—Upright decisions.
He that receiveth gifts.—To pervert justice (Proverbs 15:27).Proverbs 29:4. The king by judgment — By the free and impartial exercise of justice; establisheth the land — Restores his kingdom to a firm and good state, though it might before be in great disorder; but he that receiveth gifts — Hebrew, אישׁ תרומות, a man of oblations, or gifts, whose delight and common practice it is to take bribes and sell justice; overthroweth it —
Subverts it utterly, though it might before be never so well settled.
land—for nation.By judgment; by the free and impartial exercise of justice.
He that receiveth gifts, Heb. a man (for he would not vouchsafe to call him a king, as being unworthy of that name and office) of oblations or gifts, i.e. whose delight and common practice it is to take bribes, and sell justice. 2 Chronicles 9:8;
but he that receiveth gifts overthroweth it; that, is, a king that does so; Gersom observes that he is not called a king, because such a man is not worthy of the name, who takes gifts and is bribed by them to pervert judgment and justice; whereby the laws of the nation are violated, and the persons and properties of his subjects become the prey of wicked men; and so the state is subverted and falls to ruin: it is in the original text, "a man of oblations" (k); the word is generally used of the sacred oblations or offerings under the law; hence some understand it of a sacrilegious prince who of his own arbitrary power converts sacred things to civil uses. The Targum, Septuagint, Syriac and Arabic versions render it, a wicked and ungodly man; and the Vulgate Latin version, a covetous man; as such a prince must be in whatsoever light he is seen, whether as a perverter of justice through bribes, or as a sacrilegious man; though it may be rendered, "a man of exactions" (l), for it is used of the oblation of a prince which he receives from his people, Ezekiel 45:9; as Aben Ezra observes; and so it may be interpreted of a king that lays heavy taxes upon his people, and thereby brings them to distress and poverty, and the state to ruin.
(k) "vir oblationam", Montanus, Baynus, Grotius, Gejerus, Schultens. (l) "Vir exactionum", Mercerus; "qui levat exactiones", Munster; "qui tributa imponit", so some in Vatablus; "qui tribbuta extorquet", Tigurine version.The king by judgment establisheth the land: but he that receiveth gifts overthroweth it.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)4. receiveth] The R.V., exacteth, is scarcely an improvement, for it is enough to “overthrow the land” that the king be open to receive gifts. The Heb., a man of offerings, will bear either sense. The rendering of R.V. marg., that imposeth tribute, sacrifices the contrast in the two members of the proverb, between the impartial administration of justice and the venality and corruption which are the curse of Oriental courts.Verse 4. - Many of the proverbs in this chapter seem to suit the time of Jeroboam II. (see on Proverbs 28:3). The king by judgment establisheth the land. The king, the fountain of justice, by his equitable government brings his country into a healthy and settled condition (1 Kings 15:4; comp. Ver. 14; Proverbs 16:12; Proverbs 25:5). In the security of the throne the land and people participate. He that receiveth gifts overthroweth it. The expression, אִישׁ תְּרוּמות (ish terumoth), "man of offerings," "man of gifts," is ambiguous: it may mean "the taker of bribes," the unrighteous ruler who sells justice (Proverbs 15:27), or it may signify "the imposer of taxes" (Ezekiel 45:13, etc.) or forced benevolences. Aquila and Theodotion have ἀνὴρ ἀφαιρεμάτων, "man of heave offerings," and Wordsworth regards him as a man who claims and receives gifts, as if he were a deity on earth. Whichever sense we give to the phrase, the contrast lies between the inflexibly upright ruler and the iniquitous or extortionate prince. The Septuagint gives παράνομος, "a transgressor;" Vulgate, vir avarus.
(Note: We take the opportunity of remarking that the tendency to form together certain proverbs after one catchword is found also in German books of proverbs; vid., Paul, Ueber die urspr. Anord. von Friedanks Bescheidenheit (1870), p. 12.)
26 He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool;
But he that walketh in wisdom shall escape.
From the promise in the second line, Hitzig concludes that a courageous heart is meant, but when by itself לב never bears this meaning. He who trusteth in his own heart is not merely one who is guided solely "by his own inconsiderate, defiant impulse to act" (Zckler). The proverb is directed against a false subjectivity. The heart is that fabricator of thoughts, of which, as of man by nature, nothing good can be said, Genesis 6:5; Genesis 8:21. But wisdom is a gift from above, and consists in the knowledge of that which is objectively true, that which is normatively godlike. הלך בּחכמה is he who so walks that he has in wisdom a secure authority, and has not then for the first time, when he requires to walk, need to consider, to reckon, to experiment. Thus walking in the way of wisdom, he escapes dangers to which one is exposed who walks in foolish confidence in his own heart and its changeful feelings, thoughts, imaginations, delusions. One who thoughtlessly boasts, who vainly dreams of victory before the time, is such a person; but confidence in one's own heart takes also a hundred other forms. Essentially similar to this proverb are the words of Jeremiah 9:22., for the wisdom meant in 26b is there defined at Jeremiah 9:23.
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