Proverbs 30:15
The horse leach has two daughters, crying, Give, give. There are three things that are never satisfied, yes, four things say not, It is enough:
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(15) The horseleach hath two daughters, crying, Give, give.—The word “crying” is not in the Hebrew. The leech is here chosen as the emblem of insatiable greed; if it could speak, its “daughters,” i.e., the words it would utter, would be “Give, give.” So it forms an introduction to the quartette of “insatiable things” which follow.

Proverbs 30:15. The horseleech — An insatiable creature, sucking blood till it be ready to burst; hath two daughters — The following things, which resemble the horseleech in their insatiableness, nothing being more common than to call those persons or things the sons or daughters of those whose example they imitate. And whereas it is objected that they are not only two, but three, yea, four, as is said in the next clause, the answer is easy, that though he begin with two, yet he proceeds from thence to three and four, all which are said to be the daughters of the horseleech, if the words be rendered properly, as they are in the Hebrew, as we shall presently see. Crying, Give, give — Never filled, but always craving, and ready to receive more and more. There are three — It should rather have been rendered, Yea, three, or they (namely, the daughters of the horse- leech) are three; that are never satisfied — This is added to explain the former clause, Give, give, and to show the cause of that excessive desire of more, namely, they are not contented with what they have. Four things — Or, yea, they are four; which say not, It is enough — Hebrew, הון, it is wealth, it is abundance. Those are never rich that are always coveting.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.Note the numeration mounting to a climax, the two, the three, the four (Amos 1:3 etc.). The word rendered "horseleach" is found nowhere else, and its etymology is doubtful; but there are good grounds for taking the word in its literal sense, as giving an example, in the natural world, of the insatiable greed of which the next verse gives other instances. Its voracious appetite is here represented, to express its intensity, as two daughters, uttering the same ceaseless cry for more.15, 16. horse leech—supposed by some to be the vampire (a fabulous creature), as being literally insatiable; but the other subjects mentioned must be taken as this, comparatively insatiable. The use of a fabulous creature agreeably to popular notions is not inconsistent with inspiration.

There are three … yea, four—(Compare Pr 6:16).

The horseleech, an insatiable creature, sucking blood till it be ready to burst,

hath two daughters; which are either,

1. The two forks into which her tongue is divided, and wherewith she sucks: but those who have more accurately observed and described the frame of that creature tell us that they have no tongue, and that they suck either by three little teeth, or several parts of the mouth gathered and compressed together. Or rather,

2. The following things, which resemble the horse leech in its insatiableness; nothing being more ordinary than to call those persons or things the sons or daughters of those whose examples they imitate. And whereas it is objected, that they are not only two, but three, yea, four, as is said in the next clause, the answer is easy, that though he begin with two, yet he proceeds from thence to three, and four, all which are said to be the daughters of the horseleech, if the words be rendered commodiously, and as they are in the Hebrew, as we shall presently see.

Crying, Give, give; never filled, and always craving, and ready to receive more and more.

There are three things; or, yea, (which may be understood in this, as it is in our translation of the next clause,) they (to wit, the daughters of the horseleech) are three; that are never satisfied; which is added partly to explain the former clause,

Give, give, and to show the cause of that excessive desire of more, because they were not contented with what they had; and partly to give the reason why he calls them the daughters of the horseleech. Yea, four things say not; or, yea, they (the daughters forementioned) are four, which say not. The horse leech hath two daughters, crying, Give, give,.... Or "the blood sucker" (l); so it began to be called in the times of Pliny (m), to which the last generation of men may well be compared; blood thirsty creatures, that never have enough, and are not satisfied with the flesh of men, nor with their blood; and such particularly the Papists are: and not only this generation of men, but there are three or four things besides, which resemble the horse leech for its insatiableness; for the horse leech has not two daughters only, but more. Some, by her two daughters, understand the two forks of its tongue, which some naturalists say it has; though later ones, and more diligent inquirers into those things, find it has not; but either with its three teeth, or by the compression of its mouth on all sides, sucks the blood, and will not let go until it is filled with it (n): others have proposed the two sorts of leeches as its daughters, the sea leech, and that which is found in fenny and marshy places. But it is best, by its daughters, to understand such that resemble it, and are like unto it; as those that are of like nature and quality, and do the same things as others, are called their children; see Matthew 23:31, 1 John 3:10; and so the number of its daughters, which are always craving and asking for more, and are never satisfied, are not only two, but more, as follows;

there are three things; or, "yea, there are three things"

that are never satiated: yea, four things say not, It is enough; not two only, but three, and even four, that are quite insatiable and are as follow. The Syriac version renders the whole thus,

"the horse leech hath three beloved daughters; three, "I say", they are, which are not satisfied; and the fourth says not, It is enough.''

Some, as Abendana observes, interpret it of hell, by a transposition of the letters; because everyone that perverts his ways descends thither. Bochart (o) interprets it of fate, and so Noldius (p): and Schultens renders the word, the most monstrous of evils; it signifying in the Arabic language, as he observes, anything monstrous and dreadful; such as wood demons, serpents, and dragons, which devour men and beasts. Suidas (q), by the "horse leech", understands sin, whose daughters are fornication, envy, and idolatry, which are never satisfied by evil actions, and the fourth is evil concupiscence.

(l) "sanguisugae", V. L. Pagninus, Tigurine version. Mercerus, Gejerus. (m) Nat. Hist. l. 8. c. 10. (n) "Non missura cutem nisi plena cruoris hirudo", Horat. de Arte Poet. fine. (o) Hierozoic. par. 2. l. 5. c. 19. col. 801. (p) Concord. Ebr. Par. p. 467. No. 1425. (q) In voce

The horseleach hath two {h} daughters, crying, Give, give. There are three things that are never satisfied, yea, four things say not, It is enough:

(h) The leach has two forks in her tongue, which here he calls her two daughters, by which she sucks the blood, and is never satisfied: even so, the covetous extortioners are insatiable.

15. The horseleach] βδέλλα, LXX.; sanguisuga, Vulg. The Heb. word occurs only here, and its derivation is doubtful, but as Maurer points out, the rendering leach has the sanction of the ancient interpreters, and accords with the sense of cognate Arabic and Aramaic roots. It gives moreover an excellent meaning, and is after the manner of this chapter and of the Book of Proverbs generally, in drawing an illustration of the subject in hand from the animal world. There seems no reason therefore for seeing in the word a mythical or “quasi-mythical expression,” denoting a vampire, or Ghoul.

two daughters … three things … yea, four] The climax is reached gradually. As the children of the leach, twice as many as herself, are each of them like herself insatiable, so are there, not two things only in creation, but three, yea four, of like character. Comp. for this typical use of numbers, Amos 1:3, and note there in this Series.

crying] The word is supplied. The Heb. is two daughters, Give, give. Some therefore would supply, called (R.V. marg.) instead of crying.

Dean Plumptre quotes Hor. de Art. Poet. 476:

“Non missura cutem, nisi plena cruoris, hirudo.”

15, 16. Four things that are insatiable.Verses 15, 16. - Having spoken of insatiate cupidity, the writer now introduces four things which are insatiable. The form of the apothegm is climacteric, mounting from two to three, and thence to four, like the famous passage in Amos 1:3, etc. (comp. Proverbs 6:16, though there is no special stress there laid on the last member of the climax; Job 5:19; Job 33:29; Ecclesiastes 11:2). Verse 15. - The horseleach hath two daughters, crying, Give, give. The word "crying" is not in the Hebrew, which says, "The alukah hath two daughters: Give! Give!" The insatiable appetite of this creature is represented by two words, which are personified as daughters, whom the mother has produced and dearly loves. This word alukah is not found again in the Old Testament; but in later Hebrew and in Aramaic it means "leech" or "bloodsucker;" and so it is translated by the Septuagint, βδέλλα, and by St. Jerome sanguisuga. The word is derived from a root which in Arabic means "to adhere." There are several kinds of leeches common in Palestine, and their bloodthirsty nature is well known; as Horace says, 'Ars Poet.,' 476 -

"Non missura cutem, nisi plena cruoris, hirudo." It seems simple and quite satisfactory to accept the word thus, and to see in the voracity of the leech an example of the greed further developed in the following clauses; but commentators have not been contented with this explanation, and have offered various suggestions which are either unnecessary or inadmissible. Thus the Talmud considers alukah to be an appellation of hell, and the two daughters to be the Power of the world, and Heresy. Some of the Fathers regard it as a symbol of the devil and his dominion; others, as a personification of cupidity with its two offshoots avarice and ambition. Some moderns deem it to mean a vampire or blood thirsty demon, a ghoul, in accordance with Eastern myth. But, as we have said, such interpretations are unnecessary and unsupported by sufficient authority. The allusion to the tastes of the leech is found elsewhere. Thus Theocritus, 'Idyll.,' 2:55 -

Αι} αι} ἔρως ἀνιαρέ τί μευ μέλαν ἐκ χροὸς αἵμα
Ἐμφὺς ὡς λιμνᾶτις ἅπαν ἐκ βδέλλα πέπωκας And Plautus, 'Epidic.,' 2:2, 5 -

"Jam ego me convortam in hirudinem atque
Eorum exsugebo sanguinem,
Senati qui columen cluent."
Ewald and others find traces of mutilation in this proverb, and endeavour to supply what is lost in various ways; but the text as it stands is intelligible, and needs no addition. The rest of the verse is an application of the truth first stated. The type of cupidity there enunciated is instanced and exemplified in four special cases. There are three things that are never satisfied. And then a corrective climax is addressed. Yea, four things say not, It is enough. The four in the following verse are divided into two plus two. Septuagint, "The leech had three daughters dearly beloved, and these three did not satisfy her, and the fourth was not contented to say, Enough." In what now follows, the key-note struck in Proverbs 30:1 is continued. There follows a prayer to be kept in the truth, and to be preserved in the middle state, between poverty and riches. It is a Mashal-ode, vid., vol. i. p. 12. By the first prayer, "vanity and lies keep far from me," it is connected with the warning of Proverbs 30:6.

7 Two things I entreat from Thee,

   Refuse them not to me before Idie.

8 Vanity and lies keep far away from me

   Poverty and riches give me not:

   Cause me to eat the bread which is allotted to me,

9 Lest in satiety Ideny,

   And say: Who is Jahve?

   And lest, in becoming poor, Isteal,

   And profane the name of my God.

We begin with the settlement and explanation of the traditional punctuation. A monosyllable like שׁוא receives, if Legarmeh, always Mehuppach Legarmeh, while, on the contrary, the poly-syllable אשׂבּע has Asla Legarmeh. אל־תּתּן־לי, with double Makkeph and with Gaja in the third syllable before the tone (after the Metheg-Setzung, 28), is Ben-Asher's; whereas Ben-Naphtali prefers the punctuation אל־תּתּן לי (vid., Baer's Genesis, p. 79, note 3). Also פּן־אשׂבּע has (cf. פּן־ישׁתּה, Proverbs 31:5) Makkeph, and on the antepenultima Gaja (vid., Thorath Emeth, p. 32). The perf. consec. וכחשׁתּי has on the ult. the disjunctive Zinnor (Sarka), which always stands over the final letter; but that the ult. is also to be accented, is shown by the counter-tone Metheg, which is to be given to the first syllable. Also ואמרתּי has in correct Codd., e.g., Cod. 1294, the correct ultima toning of a perf. consec.; Kimchi in the Michlol 6b, as well as Aben Ezra in both of his Grammars, quotes only וגנבתּי ותפשׂתּי as toned on the penult. That וגנבתּי cannot be otherwise toned on account of the pausal accent, has been already remarked under 6b; the word, besides, belongs to the סף''פתתין בא, i.e., to those which preserve their Pathach unlengthened by one of the greater disjunctives; the Athnach has certainly in the three so-called metrical books only the disjunctive form of the Zakeph of the prose books. So much as to the form of the text.


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