Proverbs 30:12
There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
30:10 Slander not a servant to his master, accuse him not in small matters, to make mischief. 11-14. In every age there are monsters of ingratitude who ill-treat their parents. Many persuade themselves they are holy persons, whose hearts are full of sin, and who practise secret wickedness. There are others whose lofty pride is manifest. There have also been cruel monsters in every age. 15-17. Cruelty and covetousness are two daughters of the horseleech, that still cry, Give, give, and they are continually uneasy to themselves. Four things never are satisfied, to which these devourers are compared. Those are never rich that are always coveting. And many who have come to a bad end, have owned that their wicked courses began by despising their parents' authority. 18-20. Four things cannot be fully known. The kingdom of nature is full of marvels. The fourth is a mystery of iniquity; the cursed arts by which a vile seducer gains the affections of a female; and the arts which a vile woman uses to conceal her wickedness. 21-23 Four sorts of persons are very troublesome. Men of low origin and base spirit, who, getting authority, become tyrants. Foolish and violent men indulging in excesses. A woman of a contentious spirit and vicious habits. A servant who has obtained undue influence. Let those whom Providence has advanced from low beginnings, carefully watch against that sin which most easily besets them.The Pharisee temper (compare the marginal reference). 11-14. Four kinds of hateful persons—(1) graceless children, (2) hypocrites, (3) the proud, (4) cruel oppressors (compare on Pr 30:14; Ps 14:4; 52:2)—are now illustrated; (1) Pr 30:15, 16, the insatiability of prodigal children and their fate; (2) Pr 30:17, hypocrisy, or the concealment of real character; (3 and 4) Pr 30:18-20, various examples of pride and oppression. Who not only pretend to others, but conceit within themselves, that they are truly religious persons, when they live in the course of wickedness.

There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes,.... Not in the eyes of God, who sees the heart, and all the impurities of it, as well as of life and conversation; nor in the eyes of others, though such may appear outwardly righteous before men; but in their own eyes, in their own conceit and imagination, trusting in themselves that they are righteous: but such have not their eyes opened or enlightened to see the plague of their own hearts, the spirituality of the law of God, the perfection of righteousness that requires; nor the righteousness and holiness of God himself; nor the imperfection and insufficiency of their own; did they, they would not seem pure and righteous to themselves. No man is pure by nature, or through anything done by them; but by the grace of God, and through the blood and righteousness of Christ; and such are far from being pure in their own eyes, or as considered in themselves: but those who are pure neither by nature nor by grace, yet think they are so. There were some such in Agur's time, and such were the Scribes and Pharisees in Christ's time; there were a generation of them; and there are of the same sort in our days, as Papists, Perfectionists, and all self-justiciaries; see Luke 18:9;

and yet is not washed from their filthiness; their native, original, and universal pollution by sin they have from their birth, and which is increased by numerous actual transgressions; and from which none are or can be washed but those who are born of water and of the Spirit, or are washed with the washing of regeneration; and are washed from their sins in the blood of the Lamb, whose blood cleanses from all sin; and are arrayed with the fine linen, clean and white, the righteousness of the saints, which is the righteousness of Christ imputed to them: whatsoever is short of these leaves men unwashed from their filthiness, whatever opinion they may have of themselves; see Job 9:30, Jeremiah 2:22.

There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verse 12. - A generation that are pure in their own eyes (Proverbs 20:9). The second characteristic is hypocrisy and Pharisaical self-righteousness (see Luke 18:11). And yet are not washed from their filthiness; have not cleansed their heart by complete repentance, either because they have not examined themselves and know nothing of the real state of their conscience, or because they care nothing about it and will not regard it in its true light. There is a similar expression in Isaiah 4:4. Septuagint, "A wicked generation judgeth themselves to be just, but have not washed themselves clean (τὴν ἔξοδον αὐτοῦ οὐκ ἀπένιψεν)." Proverbs 30:12There now follows a Priamel,

(Note: Cf. vol. i. p. 13. The name (from praeambulum) given to a peculiar form of popular gnomic poetry which prevailed in Germany from the 12th (e.g., the Meistersinger or Minstrel Sparvogel) to the 16th century, but was especially cultivated during the 14th and 15th centuries. Its peculiarity consisted in this, that after a series of antecedents or subjects, a briefly-expressed consequent or predicate was introduced as the epigrammatic point applicable to all these antecedents together. Vid., Erschenburg's Denkmlern altdeutscher Dichtkinst, Bremen 1799.)

the first line of which is, by יקלל, connected with the יקללך of the preceding distich:

11 A generation that curseth their father,

     And doth not bless their mother;

12 A generation pure in their own eyes,

     And yet not washed from their filthiness;

13 A generation - how haughty their eyes,

     And their eyelids lift themselves up;

14 A generation whose teeth are swords and their jaw teeth knives

     To devour the poor from the earth and the needy from the midst of men.

Ewald translates: O generation! but that would have required the word, 13a, הדּור (Jeremiah 2:31), and one would have expected to have found something mentioned which the generation addressed were to take heed to; but it is not so. But if "O generation!" should be equivalent to "O regarding the generation!" then הוי ought to have introduced the sentence. And if we translate, with Luther: There is a generation, etc., then ישׁ is supplied, which might drop out, but could not be omitted. The lxx inserts after ἔκγονον the word κακόν, and then renders what follows as pred. - a simple expedient, but worthless. The Venet. does not need this expedient, for it renders γενεὰ τὸν πατέρα αὐτοῦ βλασφημέσει; but then the order of the words in 11a would have been דור יקלל אביו; and in 12a, after the manner of a subst. clause, דור טהור בעיניו הוא, one sees distinctly, from Proverbs 30:13 and Proverbs 30:14, that what follows דור is to be understood, not as a pred., but as an attributive clause. As little can we interpret Proverbs 30:14, with Lwenstein, as pred. of the three subj., "it is a generation whose teeth are swords;" that would at least have required the words דור הוא; but Proverbs 30:14 is not at all a judgment valid for all the three subjects. The Targ. and Jerome translate correctly, as we above;

(Note: The Syr. begins 11a as if הוי were to be supplied.)

but by this rendering there are four subjects in the preamble, and the whole appears, since the common pred. is wanting, as a mutilated Priamel. Perhaps the author meant to say: it is such a generation that encompasses us; or: such is an abomination to Jahve; for דור is a Gesamtheit equals totality, generation of men who are bound together by contemporary existence, or homogeneity, or by both, but always a totality; so that these Proverbs 30:11-14, might describe quatuor detestabilia genera hominum (C. B. Michaelis), and yet one generatio, which divide among themselves these four vices, of blackest ingratitude, loathsome self-righteousness, arrogant presumption, and unmerciful covetousness. Similar is the description given in the Mishna Sota ix. 14, of the character of the age in which the Messiah appeared. "The appearance of this age," thus it concludes, "is like the appearance of a dog; a son is not ashamed before his father; to whom will we then look for help? To our Father in heaven!"

continued...

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