Proverbs 3:8
It shall be health to your navel, and marrow to your bones.
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(8) Navel.—As being the centre, and so the most important part of the body. (Comp. the epithet applied to Delphi, “navel of the earth.”)

Marrow.—Literally, watering: i.e., refreshing. (Comp. Job 21:24.) For the opposite condition, “dryness of the bones, comp. Proverbs 17:22.

3:7-12 There is not a greater enemy to the fear of the Lord in the heart, than self-conceit of our own wisdom. The prudence and sobriety which religion teaches, tend not only to the health of the soul, but to the health of the body. Worldly wealth is but poor substance, yet, such as it is, we must honour God with it; and those that do good with what they have, shall have more to do more good with. Should the Lord visit us with trials and sickness, let us not forget that the exhortation speaks to us as to children, for our good. We must not faint under an affliction, be it ever so heavy and long, not be driven to despair, or use wrong means for relief. The father corrects the son whom he loves, because he loves him, and desires that he may be wise and good. Afflictions are so far from doing God's children any hurt, that, by the grace of God, they promote their holiness.Navel - The central region of the body is taken as the representative of all the vital organs. For "health" we should read healing, or, as in the marg. There is probably a reference to the local applications used by the surgery of the period as means of healing. 8. It—This conduct.

health—(Compare Margin).

to thy navel—for all the organs of nourishment.

marrow—(Compare Margin).

bones—frame of body. True piety promotes bodily health.

To thy navel, i.e. to thy body, which is signified by the navel, which is a noble and useful part of the body, by which the infant receives nourishment in the womb, and which is the ligament or bond by which the bowels, a principal part of the body, are united together and preserved.

Marrow is the nourishment and strength of the bones, and a great preserver and prolonger of life, as the decay of it is a chief cause of the weakness, and dryness, and decay of the body. The sense of the verse is, This wisdom or fear of God is not only useful to the salvation of the soul, but also to the health and welfare of the body, both as it prevents those diseases and distempers which are oft procured by sinful lusts and passions, and as it giveth us an interest in all God’s promises, and putteth us under the care of his special providence. It shall be health to thy navel,.... That part of the body which is the knot of the intestines; and may be put for the bowels and inward parts, which being sound, the body is in health; and these may be put for the whole body: and so the Septuagint version renders it, "to thy body"; and this may be put for the whole person. And the sense is, either wisdom, as Jarchi; the doctrine of wisdom, the Gospel; which teaches men to trust in the Lord, and not in themselves, to apply to him for wisdom, and not lean to their own understanding; this contributes much to a man's spiritual health and welfare: or else the fear of the Lord is of this use to men, both in soul and body; since by it they depart from those sins which bring diseases upon the body; and are influenced by it to the exercise of such graces, and the discharge of such duties, as are the means of keeping the soul in good plight;

and marrow to thy bones; or, "watering" (m) to them: that which irrigates and moistens them, and makes and keeps them strong and solid: see Job 21:24. What marrow is to the bones, that is wisdom, or the fear of God, to the souls of men; the means of establishing and strengthening them against sin, and snares and temptations, and to do the will and work of God.

(m) "irrigatio", V. L. Montanus, Tigurine version, Vatablus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius, Amama, Schultens.

It shall be health to thy {e} navel, and marrow to thy bones.

(e) By this part he comprehends the whole body, as by health he means all the benefits promised in the law both corporal and spiritual.

8. health] By an eternal law the moral condition and the physical are linked together; the mens sana promotes the corpus sanum.

“Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is.” 1 Timothy 4:8.

to thy navel] So R.V. The LXX. give to thy body, τῷ σώματί σου (comp. Proverbs 4:22), reading, as Ewald conjectures, a Heb. word which differs by a single letter (which has dropped out) from our present Heb. text Their rendering, however, may be only a free translation, of the nature of a gloss, of the Heb. as it now stands.

marrow] Lit. moistening. Vulg. irrigatio. The moisture and freshness of a healthy and well-nourished body are indicated. Comp. “The marrow of his bones is moistened,” Job 21:24, R.V., and for the contrary effect of disease and suffering, Job 30:30; Psalm 102:3.Verse 8. - It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones. A metaphorical expression, denoting the complete spiritual health which shall follow from fearing the Lord and departing from evil. Health, (riph'uth); properly, healing; LXX., ιἅσις; Vulgate, sanitas; so Syriac and Arabic. The Targum Jonathan has medicina, "medicine," as the margin. The root rapha is properly "to sew together," and the secondary meaning, "to heal," is taken from the healing of a wound by sewing it up. Delitzsch, however, thinks riph'uth is not to be taken as a restoration from sickness, but as a raising up from enfeebled health, or a confirming of the strength which already exists. There shall be a continuance of health. Gesenius translates "refreshment." To thy navel (l'shor'rekha); Vulgate, umbilico tuo; so Targum Jonathan. Shor is "the navel," here used synecdochically for the whole body, just as "head" is put for the whole man (Judges 5:30), "mouth" for the whole person speaking (Proverbs 8:13), and "slow bellies" for depraved gluttons (Titus 1:12) (Gejerus, Umbreit). The idea is expressed in the LXX., Syriac, and Arabic by "to thy body" (τῷ σώματι σου; corpori tuo). The navel is here regarded as the centre of vital strength. For the word, see Song of Solomon 7:2; Ezekiel 16:4. This is the only place in the Proverbs where this word is found. Gesenius, however, takes shor, or l'shor'rekha, as standing col. lectively for the nerves, in which, he says, is the seat of strength, and translates accordingly, "Health (i.e. refreshment) shall it be to thy nerves." Marrow (shik'kuy); literally, watering or moistening, as in the margin; Vulgate, irrigatio. Moistening is imparted to the bones by the marrow, and thus they are strengthened: "His bones are moistened with marrow" (Job 21:24). Where there is an absence of marrow the drying up of the bones ensues, and hence their strength is impaired, and a general debility of the system sets in - they "wax old" (Psalm 32:3). The effect of a broken spirit is thus described: "A broken spirit drieth up the bones" (Proverbs 17:22). The physiological fact here brought forward is borne witness to by Cicero, 'In Tusc.:' "In visceribus atque medullis omne bonum condidisse naturam" (cf. Plato). The meaning of the passage is that, as health to the navel and marrow to the bones stand as representatives of physical strength, so the fear of the Lord, etc., is the spiritual strength of God's children. With למען there commences a new section, coordinating itself with the להצּילך ("to deliver thee") of Proverbs 2:12, Proverbs 2:16, unfolding that which wisdom accomplishes as a preserver and guide:

20 So that thou walkest in the good way,

     And keepest the right paths.

21 For the upright shall inhabit the land,

     And the innocent shall remain in it.

22 But the godless are cut off out the land,

     And the faithless are rooted out of it.

Wisdom - thus the connection - will keep thee, so that thou shalt not fall under the seductions of man or of woman; keep, in order that thou... למען (from מען equals מענה, tendency, purpose) refers to the intention and object of the protecting wisdom. To the two negative designations of design there follows, as the third and last, a positive one. טובים (contrast to רעים, Proverbs 14:19) is here used in a general ethical sense: the good (Guten, not Gtigen, the kind). שׁמר, with the object of the way, may in another connection also mean to keep oneself from, cavere ab (Psalm 17:4); here it means: carefully to keep in it. The promise of Proverbs 2:21 is the same as in the Mashal Psalm 37:9, Psalm 37:11, Psalm 37:22; cf. Proverbs 10:30. ארץ is Canaan, or the land which God promised to the patriarchs, and in which He planted Israel, whom He had brought out of Egypt; not the earth, as Matthew 5:5, according to the extended, unlimited N.T. circle of vision. יוּתרוּ (Milel) is erroneously explained by Schultens: funiculis bene firmis irroborabunt in terra. The verb יתר, Arab. watar, signifies to yoke (whence יתר, a cord, rope), then intrans. to be stretched out in length, to be hanging over (vid., Fleischer on Job 30:11); whence יתר, residue, Zephaniah 2:9, and after which the lxx here renders ὑπολειφθήσονται, and Jerome permanebunt. In 22b the old translators render יסּחוּ as the fut. of the pass. נסּח, Deuteronomy 28:63; but in this case it would be ינּסחוּ. The form יסּחוּ, pointed יסּחוּ, might be the Niph. of סחח, but סחח can neither be taken as one with נסח, of the same meaning, nor with Hitzig is it to be vocalized יסּחוּ (Hoph. of נסח); nor, with Bttcher (1100, p. 453), is יסּחוּ to be regarded as a veritable fut. Niph. יסּחוּ is, as at Proverbs 15:25; Psalm 52:7, active: evellant; and this, with the subj. remaining indefinite (for which J. H. Michaelis refers to Hosea 12:9), is equivalent to evellentur. This indefinite "they" or "one" ("man"), Fleischer remarks, can even be used of God, as here and Job 7:3 - a thing which is common in Persian, where e.g., the expression rendered hominem ex pulvere fecerunt is used instead of the fuller form, which would be rendered homo a Deo ex pulvere factus est. בּוגדים bears (as בּגד proves) the primary meaning of concealed, i.e., malicious (treacherous and rapacious, Isaiah 33:1), and then faithless men.

(Note: Similar is the relation in Arab. of labbasa to libâs (לבוּשׁ); it means to make a thing unknown by covering it; whence telbı̂s, deceit, mulebbis, a falsifier.)

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