Proverbs 3:18
She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(18) A tree of life.—Evidently an allusion to Genesis 2, 3. No mention is made of it except in Proverbs (Proverbs 11:30; Proverbs 13:12; Proverbs 15:4) and Revelation (Proverbs 2:7; Proverbs 22:2).

3:13-20 No precious jewels or earthly treasures are worthy to be compared with true wisdom, whether the concerns of time or eternity be considered. We must make wisdom our business; we must venture all in it, and be willing to part with all for it. This Wisdom is the Lord Jesus Christ and his salvation, sought and obtained by faith and prayer. Were it not for unbelief, remaining sinfulness, and carelessness, we should find all our ways pleasantness, and our paths peace, for his are so; but we too often step aside from them, to our own hurt and grief. Christ is that Wisdom, by whom the worlds were made, and still are in being; happy are those to whom he is made of God wisdom. He has wherewithal to make good all his promises.This and the other references in Proverbs PRomans 11:30; Proverbs 13:12; Proverbs 15:4 are the only allusions in any book of the Old Testament, after Genesis, to the "tree" itself, or to its spiritual significance. Further, there is the tendency to a half-allegorizing application of that history. "The tree of life" which Adam was not to taste lies open to his children. Wisdom is the "tree of life," giving a true immortality. The symbol entered largely into the religious imagery. of Assyria, Egypt, and Persia. Philo, going a step further, found in the two trees the ideal representatives of speculative knowledge and moral wisdom; and the same image subserves a higher purpose in the promises and the visions of Revelation 2:7; Revelation 22:2. 18. Wisdom allegorized as

a tree of life—(Ge 2:9; 3:22) whose fruit preserves life, gives all that makes living a blessing.

She is a tree of life; she is a certain pledge and mean of everlasting life and happiness. He alludes to that tree of life, Genesis 2:9 3:22; which if eaten by man in Paradise before his fall, should have perpetually preserved him in life, and health, and rigour; and intimates that this is the only restorer of that life which we have lost by sin.

That lay hold upon her; that eagerly pursue after her, and when they overtake her do greedily and gladly apprehend and embrace her, as the Hebrew word signifies.

That retaineth her; that holdeth her fast, and is constantly resolved not to forsake her.

She is a tree of life,.... Or "lives" (b); so Christ is called, Revelation 2:7; in allusion to the tree of life in the garden of Eden, Genesis 2:9; he being the author of life, natural, spiritual, and eternal; which souls may come at, and pluck and eat of the fruit which is upon him in great plenty and variety, even all the blessings of grace and glory;

to them that lay hold upon her; which is expressive of an act of faith on Christ, Hebrews 6:18; faith lays hold on the person of Christ as a Saviour, and will have him and no other; it comes to the blood of Christ, and deals with it for pardon and purification; it lays hold on his skirt, who is a Jew, on the robe of his righteousness, and puts it on; it lays hold on his strength, and goes forth in it, in the exercise of grace and discharge of duty; it lays hold on his covenant, the blessings and promises of it, and takes them to itself: and this act supposes danger without him, safety in him, a view of suitable provisions for food and clothing with him; some strength of grace, and some degree of resolution; also condescension on Christ's part to suffer himself to be handled by them; and likewise that he first took hold on them and brought them out of a state of nature to himself: great encouragement there is for sensible sinners to lay hold on Christ; he is set before them in the Gospel to be laid hold on; he never discourages any from so doing, nor casts out any that come to him; he is able to bear the stress of their salvation they lay upon him; multitudes of lost sinners have been saved by him: and he is a tree of life, as the text says, to such persons; they have spiritual life, and the support and comfort of it, from him now, and may expect everlasting life from him hereafter;

and happy is everyone that retaineth her; or "holds her fast" (c); see Sol 3:4; as such may be said to do who constantly apply to him for fresh communications of grace; who walk on in him as they have received him, and hold fast the profession of their faith in him. The phrase is expressive of great affection to him, and strong faith in him; faith keeps its hold of Christ through great darkness and many difficulties; oftentimes the soul walks in darkness, and yet stays itself on Christ, and, Abraham-like, believes in hope against hope. Faith is sometimes very low, and yet lets not go its hold; it fails not, through the prevalent intercession of Christ; it cannot so let go its hold as that there is a parting; a partial departing there may be, but not a total one: however, it is sometimes very difficult for faith to keep fast hold of the Redeemer; it is for the honour and comfort of believers so to do; and it is their mercy that interest in Christ, and salvation by him, do not depend on acts of faith; for, though "we believe not, yet he abides faithful", 2 Timothy 2:13; nevertheless happy are they that retain him, or are steadfast in their faith on him; they have much communion with him now, and shall live with him for evermore hereafter.

(b) "lignum vitarum", Montanus. (c) "significatur hoc verbo, firmitas et constantia in tonendo", Michaelis; so Mercerus.

She is a tree {i} of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her.

(i) Which brings forth such fruit that they who eat of it have life and he alludes to the tree of life in paradise.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
18. a tree of life] The tree of life, Genesis 2, 3 is referred to again in this Book (Proverbs 11:30, Proverbs 13:12, Proverbs 15:4), and only besides in the Bible in Revelation 2:7; Revelation 22:2. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil was a tree of death: “in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.” The tree of Wisdom is a tree of life.

Proverbs 3:19-20. And the wisdom which is thus profitable to man, is none other than that by which God erected the firm fabric of earth and heaven, and furnished it with such storehouses of force and fertility, as “the waters that are under, and the waters that are above the firmament.”

In our present Hebrew text a new paragraph begins here, and here only in this chapter. But, as has been said, the argument is in reality continuous throughout.

Verse 18. - A tree of life (ets-khayyim); Vulgate, lignum vitae; LXX., ξύλον ζωῆς. This expression obviously refers to "the tree of life" (ets-hakayyim), which was placed in the midst of the garden of Eden, and conferred immortality on those who ate of its fruit (Genisis 2:9; 3:22). So Wisdom becomes equally life giving to those who lay hold on her, who taste of her fruit. She communicates life in its manifold fulness and richness (so the plural "lives" indicates) to those who seize her firmly. What is predicated of Wisdom here is predicated in other passages (Proverbs 11:30; Proverbs 13:12; Proverbs 15:4) of the fruit of the righteous, the fulfilment of desire, and a wholesome tongue. Each of these, the teacher says, is "a tree of life." Elster denies that there is any reference to "the tree of life," and classes the expression among those other figurative expressions - a "fountain of life," in Proverbs 13:4 and Proverbs 14:27, and a "well of life." in Proverbs 10:11; but if it be once admitted that there is such a reference, and it be remembered also that Wisdom is the same as "the fear of the Lord," the point insisted on in the Proverbs and in Job, it seems difficult to deny that the teacher has in view the blessed immortality of which the tree of life in Paradise as the symbol. In this higher sense the term is used in the Revelation (Revelation 2:7; Revelation 22:2, 14). Wisdom restores to her worshippers the life which was lost in Adam (Cartwright). It is remarkable that the imagery here employed is confined to these two hooks. After the historical record in Genesis, no other sacred writers refer to the tree of life. Old ecclesiastical writers saw in the expression a reference to Christ's redeeming work. "The tree of life is the cross of Christ," lignum vitae crux Christi (quoted by Delitzsch). The symbol, Plumptre remarks, entered largely into the religious imagery of Assyria, Egypt, and Persia. To them that lay hold upon (lam-makhazikim, hiph. participle); Vulgate, his, qui apprehenderint; LXX., τοῖς ἀντεχομένοις. The Hebrew verb חָזַק (khazak), "to tie fast," is in hiph. with בְּ (b)," to take hold of," "to seize any one." Happy is every one that retaineth her. In the original, the participle, "they retaining her" (tom'keyah), is plural, and the predicate, "happy" or "blessed" (m'ushshar), is singular. The latter is used distributively, and the construction is common (cf. Proverbs 15:22). The Authorized Version aptly renders the original. The necessity for "retaining" as well as "laying hold" of Wisdom is pointed out. The verb תָּמַך (tamak) is "to hold fast something taken." Such will be blessed who hold Wisdom tenaciously and perseveringly. Proverbs 3:18דּרכי־נעם are ways on which one obtains what is agreeable to the inner and the outer man, and which it does good to enjoy. The parallel שׁלום is not a genitive to נתיבות to be supplied; that paths of Wisdom are themselves שׁלום, for she brings well-being on all sides and deep inwards satisfaction (peace). In regard to נתיבה, via eminens, elata, Schultens is right (vid., under Proverbs 1:15);

(Note: The root is not תב, to grope, but נת; whence Arab. natt, to bubble up, natâ, to raise oneself, to swell up, etc.)

נתיבותיה has Munach, and instead of the Metheg, Tarcha, vid., under Proverbs 1:31. The figure of the tree of life the fruit of which brings immortality, is, as Proverbs 11:30; Proverbs 15:4 (cf. Proverbs 13:12), Revelation 2:7, taken from the history of paradise in the Book of Genesis. The old ecclesiastical saying, Lignum vitae crux Christi, accommodates itself in a certain measure, through Matthew 11:19; Luke 11:49, with this passage of the Book of Proverbs. החזיק ב means to fasten upon anything, more fully expressed in Genesis 21:18, to bind the hand firm with anything, to seize it firmly. They who give themselves to Wisdom, come to experience that she is a tree of life whose fruit contains and communicates strength of life, and whoever always keeps fast hold of Wisdom is blessed, i.e., to be pronounced happy (Psalm 41:3, vid., under Psalm 137:8). The predicate מאשּׁר, blessed, refers to each one of the תּמכיה, those who hold her, cf. Proverbs 27:16; Numbers 24:9. It is the so-called distributive singular of the predicate, which is freely used particularly in those cases where the plur. of the subject is a participle (vid., under Proverbs 3:35).

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