Proverbs 3:20
By his knowledge the depths are broken up, and the clouds drop down the dew.
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(20) Are broken up.—Or, burst forth: the word used in Genesis 7:11 of the breaking forth of the waters from the interior of the earth at the flood. (Comp. Job 38:8.)

Drop down the dew.—Of great importance in countries where for months together there is no rain

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.Compare Genesis 1:7; Genesis 7:11; Job 38. Looking upon the face of Nature, men see two storehouses of the living water, without which it would be waste and barren. From the "depths" rush forth the surging waves, from the "clouds" falls the gentle rain or "dew;" but both alike are ordered by the Divine Wisdom. 19, 20. The place of wisdom in the economy of creation and providence commends it to men, who, in proportion to their finite powers, may possess this invaluable attribute, and are thus encouraged by the divine example of its use to seek its possession. The depths are broken up; that great abyss or depth of waters, which was mixed with and contained in the bowels of the earth, did break forth into fountains and rivers for the use of men and beasts; which is justly remembered here as an illustrious effect of God’s wisdom, by which the earth was made habitable, and the waters serviceable.

The dew; under which the rain is comprehended, as being of the same nature and use.

By his knowledge the depths are broken up,.... From whence fountains and rivers flow, and whereby that great cavity was made which holds that large confluence of waters called the sea, Genesis 1:9. Some refer this to the breaking up the fountains of the great deep at the flood, Genesis 7:11; and others to the dividing of the waters of the Red sea when Israel came out of Egypt, Psalm 78:13; all wonderful works of divine wisdom, and show the greatness of him, in whom are "hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge", Colossians 2:3, by whom they were done;

and the clouds drop down the dew; which makes the earth fruitful, and is put for all the blessings of nature, Genesis 27:28; the drops of dew are begotten by the Lord, they have no other father but him; the vanities of the Gentiles cannot produce them; he who fills the clouds with them, from whence they descend, is no other than the mighty God; and such is Christ the Wisdom of God. Some understand this in a mystical sense of Gospel ministers, and of the dew of Gospel doctrine, dropped and distilled by them under the influence and direction of Christ; see Deuteronomy 32:2; but the literal sense is best.

By his knowledge the depths are broken up, and the clouds drop down the dew.
20. are] Rather, were broken up, R.V. The reference is to Genesis 7:2, where the same Heb. word is used: “all the foundations of the great deep were broken up.”

The two clauses of the verse give two typical examples: alike, when the pent-up forces of nature burst forth occasionally in their resistless might, and when her gentler agencies exert continually their beneficent influence, the wisdom of God is working.

Verse 20. - By his knowledge the depths are broken up. This is usually taken to refer to that primary act in creation, the separation of the waters from the earth, when "the waters were gathered together unto their own place," as recorded in Genesis 1:9. So Munster, Zockler, Wardlaw. But it seems better to understand it (as Mercerus, Lapide, Delitzsch, and Authorized Version) of the fertilization of the earth by rivers, streams, etc., which burst forth from the interior of the earth. In this sense the correspondence is preserved with the second hemistich. where the atmospheric influence is referred to as conducing to the same end. The teacher passes from the creation to the wonderful means which Jehovah employs through Wisdom to sustain his work. The depths (t'homoth); Vulgate, abyssi; LXX., ἄβυσσοι, are here "the internal water stores of the earth" (Delitzsch), and not the depths of the ocean, as in Proverbs 8:24, 27, 28, and in Genesis 1:2. Are broken up (niv'kau); properly, were broken up, niph. perfect of baka,

(1) to cleave asunder,

(2) to break forth, as water, in Isaiah 35:6.

The perfect describes a past act, but one that is still continuing in effect. Cf. Vulgate eruperunt, "they burst forth;" LXX., ἐῥῤάγησαν, aorist 2 passive of ῤήγνυμι, "to burst forth," Targum, rupti sunt; and Syriac, ruptae sunt. The idea of division or separation is present, but it is not the predominant idea. There seems to be no allusion here either to the Deluge (Beds), nor to the cleaving of the waters of the Red Sea (Gejerus), though both of these historical events were undoubtedly well known to the teacher. And the clouds drop down the dew. The clouds (sh'khakim) are properly the ether, the higher and colder regions of the atmosphere, and then "the clouds," as in Psalm 77:15, which are formed by the condensation of vapours drawn by solar influence from the surface of the earth - seas, rivers, etc. The singular shakhak signifies "dust," and. secondly "a cloud," evidently from the minute particles of moisture of which a cloud is composed. Drop down (yir'aphu, kal future of raaph, used as a present or imperfect); LXX., ἐῥῤύησαν, "let flow." The clouds discharge their contents in showers, or distil at evening in refreshing dew. Modern science agrees with the meteorological fact here alluded to, of the reciprocal action of the heavens and the earth. The moisture drawn from the earth returns again "to water the earth, that it may bring forth and bud, to give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater" (Isaiah 55:10). Dew; tal, here used not only of dew, but of rain in gentle and fructifying showers. The Arabic word signifies "light rain;" LXX., δρόσους, "dew." Moses, in describing the blessing of Israel, says, "His heavens shall drop down dew" in the same sense (Deuteronomy 38:28; cf. Job 36:28). The fertilization of the earth is ordered by the Divine Wisdom. Proverbs 3:20It is incorrect to understand 20a, with the Targ., of division, i.e., separating the water under the firmament from the water above the firmament; נבקע is spoken of water, especially of its breaking forth, Genesis 7:11; Exodus 14:21, cf. Psalm 74:15, properly dividing itself out, i.e., welling forth from the bowels of the earth; it means, without distinguishing the primordial waters and the later water-floods confined within their banks (cf. Job 38:8., Psalm 104:6-8), the overflowing of the earth for the purpose of its processes of cultivation and the irrigation of the land. תּהומות (from הוּם equals המה, to groan, to roar) are chiefly the internal water stores of the earth, Genesis 49:25; Psalm 33:7. But while 20a is to be understood of the waters under the firmament, 20b is to be interpreted of those above. שׁחקים (from שׁחק, Arab. sḥaḳ, comminuere, attenuare) properly designates the uppermost stratum of air thinly and finely stretching itself far and wide, and then poetically the clouds of heaven (vid., under Psalm 77:18). Another name, עריפים, comes from ערף, which is transposed from רעף (here used in 20b), Arab. r'af, to drop, to run. The טל added on the object accusative represents synecdochically all the waters coming down from heaven and fructifying the earth. This watering proceeds from above (ורעפו); on the contrary, the endowing of the surface of the earth with great and small rivers is a fundamental fact in creation (נבקעו).
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