Proverbs 3:8
It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(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.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
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. Proverbs 3:8The subject to תּהי; (it shall be) is just this religious-moral conduct. The conjectural reading לבשׂרך (Clericus), לשׁרך equals לשׁארך (Ewald, Hitzig), to thy flesh or body, is unnecessary; the lxx and Syr. so translating, generalize the expression, which is not according to their taste. שׁר, from שׁרר, Arab. sarr, to be fast, to bind fast, properly, the umbilical cord (which the Arabs call surr, whence the denom. sarra, to cut off the umbilical cord of the newborn); thus the navel, the origin of which coincides with the independent individual existence of the new-born, and is as the firm centre (cf. Arab. saryr, foundation, basis, Job, p. 487) of the existence of the body. The system of punctuation does not, as a rule, permit the doubling of ר, probably on account of the prevailing half guttural, i.e., the uvular utterance of this sound by the men of Tiberias.

(Note: See my work, Physiologie u. Musik in ihrer Bedeutung fr Grammatik besonders die hebrische, pp. 11-13.)

לשׁרּך here, and שׁרּך at Ezekiel 16:4, belong to the exceptions; cf. the expanded duplication in שׁררך, Sol 7:3, to which a chief form שׁרר is as little to be assumed as is a הרר to הררי. The ἅπ. γεγρ. רפאוּת, healing, has here, as מרפּא, Proverbs 4:22; Proverbs 16:24, and תּרוּפה, Ezekiel 47:12, not the meaning of restoration from sickness, but the raising up of enfeebled strength, or the confirming of that which exists; the navel comes into view as the middle point of the vis vitalis. שׁקּוּי is a Piel formation, corresponding to the abstract Kal formation רפאוּת; the Arab. saqâ, used transit. (to give to drink), also saqqâ (cf. Pu. Job 21:24) and asqâ, like the Hebr. השׁקה (Hiph. of שׁקה, to drink); the infin. (Arab.) saqy means, to the obliterating of the proper signification, distribution, benefaction, showing friendship, but in the passage before us is to be explained after Job 21:24 (the marrow of his bones is well watered; Arnheim - full of sap) and Proverbs 15:30. Bertheau and Hitzig erroneously regard Proverbs 3:8 as the conclusion to Proverbs 3:7, for they interpret רפאות as the subject; but had the poet wished to be so understood, he should have written וּתהי. Much rather the subject is devotion withdrawn from the evil one and turned to God, which externally proves itself by the dedication to Him of earthly possessions.

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