Proverbs 30:17
The eye that mocks at his father, and despises to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it.
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(17) The ravens of the valley shall pick it outi.e., the rebellious son shall die of a “grievous death” (Jeremiah 16:4). The propensity of ravens to attack the eyes is well known.

Proverbs 30:17. The eye that mocketh at his father — He that scorneth or derideth his parents, though it be but with a look or gesture, and much more when he breaks out into opprobrious words and actions; the ravens of the valley shall pick it out — “They who are guilty of such an enormous ingratitude to their parents shall come to an infamous end, and their dead bodies shall be exposed for a prey to the ravens which frequent the brooks that run in the valleys, and to the young eagles, which shall pick out those eyes in which their scorn and derision of their parents were wont to appear.”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 grave - Hebrew שׁאול she'ôl. The "Hell" or Hades of Proverbs 27:20, all-consuming yet never full. 17. The eye—for the person, with reference to the use of the organ to express mockery and contempt, and also as that by which punishment is received.

the ravens … eagles … eat—either as dying unnaturally, or being left unburied, or both.

The eye that mocketh at his father; he that scorneth or derideth his parents, though it be but with a look or gesture, and much more when he breaks out into opprobrious words and actions.

The ravens of the valley shall pick it out; he shall die an unnatural, and untimely, and ignominious death, and after death shall lie unburied, and so be exposed to the birds and beasts of prey, and, amongst others, to the crows or ravens, who use to feed upon dead carcasses, and particularly to pick out their eyes, as is noted by all sorts of writers; of which see my Latin Synopsis. He saith, the ravens oft he valley, either because they most delight in valleys, or with a particular respect unto that valley near Jerusalem, which was called the valley of dead bodies, Jeremiah 31:40, from the carcasses cast out there, to which therefore the ravens resorted in great numbers, according to their manner or, as others render, the ravens of the brooks, because they are of a hot and dry temper, and therefore delight in places adjacent to the brooks of water.

The young eagle; which also preyeth upon dead carcasses and especially upon their eyes, as the ravens do, the reason being the same in both, whether it be the softness of that part which makes it more easy to them to take, or from the pleasant taste of it. The eye that mocketh at his father,.... At his advice, admonitions, and instructions; looks upon him with scorn and disdain, and treats him as a weak, silly, old man: here Agur returns to the first generation he had observed;

and despiseth to obey his mother; her orders and commands: or, "the obedience of his mother" (s); her discipline and instruction, having no regard to it. The word is rendered "gathering" in Genesis 49:10; and Jarchi interprets it of the gathering of wrinkles in her face: and so the Targum, Arabic, and Syriac versions render it, "the old age of his mother"; despising her as an old foolish woman; see Proverbs 23:22; in the Ethiopic language, signifies to "grow old", from whence the word here used, by a transposition of letters, may be derived; and Mr. Castell (t) observes, that the royal prophet, among others, seems to have taken this word from the queen of Sheba;

the ravens of the valley, shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it; it signifies, that such persons shall come to an untimely end, and an ignominious death; either be drowned in a river, when floating upon it, or cast upon the banks of it, the ravens that frequent such places, and are most cruel and voracious, should feed upon them: or they should be hanged on a tree, or be crucified (u), where birds of prey would light upon them; and particularly pick out their eyes and eat them, as being softest and sweetest to them; therefore first aim at them, and of which birds, and especially ravens, are very fond (w); and is a just retaliation for their scornful and disdainful looks at their parent. This may figuratively design the black devils of hell, the posse of them in the air, who are sometimes compared to the fowls thereof; to whom such unnatural and disobedient children shall become a prey; see Matthew 13:4.

(s) "obediantiam matris", Pagninus, Montanus, Mercerus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius, Michaelis; "doctrinam", Vatablus, Tigurine version; "disciplinam", Castalio; "obsequium matris", Schultens. (t) Lexic. col. 1960. (u) "Non pasces in cruce corvos", Horat. Ephesians 16. ad Quinctium, v. 48. (w) "Hic prior in cadaveribus oculum petit", Isidor. Origin. l. 12. c. 7. "Effossos oculos vorat corvus", Catullus ad Cominium, Ephesians 105. v. 5.

The eye that mocketh at its father, and despiseth to obey its mother, the ravens {i} of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it.

(i) Which hunt in the valley for carrion.

17. the valley] Or, brook. It is implied that his corpse will lie unburied and exposed.

Maurer and others quote here, in illustration of the fact that birds of prey attack principally the eyes, Catullus 107, 3:

“Effossos oculos voret atro gutture corvus.”Verse 17. - This is an independent proverb, only connected with the preceding by being founded on an allusion to an animal. The eye that mocketh at his father. The eye is named as the mind's instrument for expressing scorn and insubordination; it is the index to the inner feeling; and look may be as sinful as action. And despiseth to obey his mother; i.e. holds obedience to his mother to be a thing of no importance whatever. The word translated "to obey" (ליקהת) is rendered by St. Jerome partum; by others, "weakness," or "wrinkles," or "old age," as Septuagint, γῆρας. But etymology has led most modern commentators to give the sense of "obedience" (see Genesis 49:10). The ravens of the valley shall pick it out. Such an undutiful son shall die a violent death; his corpse shall lie unburied, and the birds of prey shall feed upon him. It is well known that ravens, vultures, and other birds that live on carrion first attack the eyes of their prey; and in our own islands we are told crows and birds of this sort will fix on the eyes of young or sickly animals. Corn. a Lapide quotes Catullus, 'Carm.,' 108:5 -

"Effossos oculos voret atro gutture corvus,
Intestina canes, cetera membra lupi."

"His eyes, plucked out, let croaking ravens gorge,
His bowels dogs, his limbs the greedy wolves."
The valley, or brook, reminds one of Elijah's miraculous support (1 Kings 17:4). Young eagles. The nesher must here mean one of the vulture tribe, as eagles do not feed on carrion (but see Job 39:30). St. Gregory ('Moral.,' 18:49) applies the proverb thus: "'The eye that sneereth at his father, and despiseth the travail of his mother, lo! the ravens from the torrents shall pick it out.' For bad men, while they find limit with the judgments of God, do 'sneer at their Father;' and heretics of all sorts, whilst in mocking they contemn the preaching of holy Church and her fruitfulness, what else is this but that they 'despise the travail of their mother'? whom we not unjustly call the mother of them as well, because from the same they come forth, who speak against the same." There 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!"


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