Proverbs 30:17
The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(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.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
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." Proverbs 30:17The proverb of the ‛Alûka is the first of the proverbs founded on the figure of an animal among the "words" of Agur. It is now followed by another of a similar character:

17 An eye that mocketh at his father,

     And despiseth obedience to his mother:

     The ravens of the brook shall pluck it out,

     And the young eagles shall eat it.

If "an eye," and not "eyes," are spoken of here, this is accounted for by the consideration that the duality of the organ falls back against the unity of the mental activity and mental expression which it serves (cf. Psychol. p. 234). As haughtiness reveals itself (Proverbs 30:13) in the action of the eyes, so is the eye also the mirror of humble subordination, and also of malicious scorn which refuses reverence and subjection to father and mother. As in German the verbs [verspotten, spotten, hhnen, hohnsprechen signifying to mock at or scorn may be used with the accus., genit., or dat., so also לעג [to deride] and בּוּז [to despise] may be connected at pleasure with either an accusative object or a dative object. Ben-Chajim, Athias, van der Hooght, and others write תּלעג; Jablonski, Michaelis, Lwenstein, תּלעג, Mhlau, with Norzi, accurately, תּלעג, with Munach, like תּבחר, Psalm 65:5; the writing of Ben-Asher

(Note: The Gaja has its reason in the Zinnor that follows, and the Munach in the syllable beginning with a moveable Sheva; תּלעג with Scheva quiesc. must, according to rule, receive Mercha, vid., Thorath Emeth, p. 26.)

is תּלעג, with Gaja, Chateph, and Munach. The punctuation of ליקהת is more fluctuating. The word לקהת (e.g., Cod. Jaman.) may remain out of view, for the Dag. dirimens in ק stands here as firmly as at Genesis 49:10, cf. Psalm 45:10. But it is a question whether one has to write ליקּהת with Yod quiesc. (regarding this form of writing, preferred by Ben-Naphtali, the Psalmen-Comm. under Psalm 45:10, in both Edd.; Luzzatto's Gramm. 193; Baer's Genesis, p. 84, note 2; and Heidenheim's Pentateuch, with the text-crit. Comm. of Jekuthil ha-Nakdans, under Genesis 47:17; Genesis 49:10), as it is found in Kimchi, Michlol 45a, and under יקה, and as also Norzi requires, or ליקּהת (as e.g., Cod. Erfurt 1), which appears to be the form adopted by Ben-Asher, for it is attested

(Note: Kimchi is here no authority, for he contradicts himself regarding such word-forms. Thus, regarding ויללת, Jeremiah 25:36, in Michlol 87b, and under ילל. The form also wavers between כּיתרון and כּיתרון, Ecclesiastes 2:13. The Cod. Jaman. has here the Jod always quiesc.)

as such by Jekuthil under Genesis 49:10, and also expressly as such by an old Masora-Cod. of the Erfurt Library. Lwenstein translates, "the weakness of the mother." Thus after Rashi, who refers the word to קהה, to draw together, and explains it, Genesis 49:10, "collection;" but in the passage before us, understands it of the wrinkles on the countenance of the aged mother. Nachmani (Ramban) goes still further, giving to the word, at Genesis 49:10, everywhere the meaning of weakness and frailty. Aben Ezra also, and Gersuni (Ralbag), do not go beyond the meaning of a drawing together; and the lxx, with the Aram., who all translate the word by senectus, have also קהה in the sense of to become dull, infirm (certainly not the Aethiopic leheḳa, to become old, weak through old age). But Kimchi, whom the Venet. and Luther

(Note: Jerome translates, et qui despicit partum matris suae. To partus there separates itself to him here the signification expectatio, Genesis 49:10, resting on a false combination with קוה. To think of pareo, parui, paritum (Mhlau), was not yet granted to him.)

follow, is informed by Abulwald, skilled in the Arab., of a better: יקהה (or יקּהה, cf. נצּרה, Psalm 141:3) is the Arab. wakhat, obedience (vid., above יקה under 1a). If now it is said of such a haughty, insolent eye, that the ravens of the brook (cf. 1 Kings 17:4) will pluck it out, and the בני־נשׁר eat it, they, the eagle's children, the unchildlike human eye: it is only the description of the fate that is before such an one, to die a violent death, and to become a prey to the fowls of heaven (cf. e.g., Jeremiah 16:3., and Passow's Lex. under κόραξ); and if this threatening is not always thus literally fulfilled, yet one has not on that account to render the future optatively, with Hitzig; this is a false conclusion, from a too literal interpretation, for the threatening is only to be understood after its spirit, viz., that a fearful and a dishonourable end will come to such an one. Instead of יקּרוּה, as Mhlau reads from the Leipzig Cod., יקרוה, with Mercha (Athias and Nissel have it with Tarcha), is to be read, for a word between Olewejored and Athnach must always contain a conjunctive accent (Thorath Emeth, p. 51; Accentuationssystem, xviii. 9). ערבי־נחל is also irregular, and instead of it ערבי־נחל is to be written, for the reason given above under Proverbs 30:16 (מים).

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