Proverbs 31:3
Give not your strength to women, nor your ways to that which destroys kings.
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(3) Nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings.—A slight change in the punctuation will give a better sense, “to those that destroy kings,” i.e., women. Give not thy life to dissipation at their bidding. (Comp. Proverbs 6:24, sqq.; 1Kings 11:1).

Proverbs 31:3. Give not thy strength unto women — The vigour of thy mind and body, which is greatly impaired by inordinate lusts, as all physicians agree, and frequent experience shows; nor thy ways — Thy conversation or course of life; to that which destroyeth kings — The same thing repeated in other words, as is very usual in these books; to the immoderate love of women, which is most destructive to kings and kingdoms, as was well known to Solomon, by the example of his father David, and by many other sad examples, left upon record in all histories.31:1-9 When children are under the mother's eye, she has an opportunity of fashioning their minds aright. Those who are grown up, should often call to mind the good teaching they received when children. The many awful instances of promising characters who have been ruined by vile women, and love of wine, should warn every one to avoid these evils. Wine is to be used for want or medicine. Every creature of God is good, and wine, though abused, has its use. By the same rule, due praise and consolation should be used as cordials to the dejected and tempted, not administered to the confident and self-sufficient. All in authority should be more carefully temperate even than other men; and should be protectors of those who are unable or afraid to plead their own cause. Our blessed Lord did not decline the bitterest dregs of the cup of sorrow put into his hands; but he puts the cup of consolation into the hands of his people, and causes those to rejoice who are in the deepest distress.To that which destroyeth - The temptations of the harem were then, as now, the curse of all Eastern kingdoms. 3-9. Succinct but solemn warnings against vices to which kings are peculiarly tempted, as carnal pleasures and oppressive and unrighteous government are used to sustain sensual indulgence.

strength—mental and bodily resources for health and comfort.

thy ways—or course of life.

to that … kings—literally, "to the destroying of kings," avoid destructive pleasures (compare Pr 5:9; 7:22, 27; Ho 4:11).

Thy strength; the rigour of thy mind and body, which is greatly impaired by inordinate lusts, as all physicians agree, and frequent experience showeth.

Thy ways; thy conversation or course of life.

To that which destroyeth kings; the same thing repeated in other words, as is very usual in these books; to the immoderate love of women, which is most destructive to kings and kingdoms, as was well known to Solomon by the example of his father David, and by many other sad instances left upon record in all histories. Give not thy strength unto women,.... Strength of body, which is weakened by an excessive use of venery (b) with a multiplicity of women; see, Proverbs 5:9; and strength of mind, reason, and wisdom, which is impaired by conversation with such persons; whereby time is consumed and lost, which should be spent in the improvement of knowledge: or "thy riches", as the Septuagint and Arabic versions, thy substance, which harlots devour, and who bring a man to a piece of bread, as the prodigal was, Proverbs 6:26; and even drain the coffers of kings and princes;

nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings; do not give thy mind to take such courses, and pursue such ways and methods, as bring ruin on kings and kingdoms, as conversation with harlots does; see Proverbs 7:26. Some think the design of this advice is to warn against any ambitious views of enlarging his dominions by invading neighbouring countries, and making war with neighbouring kings, to the ruin of them; but the former sense seems best. The Targum is,

"nor thy ways to the daughters of kings.''

Solomon was given to women, who proved very pernicious to him, 1 Kings 11:1. Some render it, "which destroyeth counsel" (c); for whoredom weakens the mind as well as the body.

(b) "Venus enervat vireis", Avienus. (c) Don Joseph apud Schindler. col. 990.

Give not thy strength to women, {d} nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings.

(d) Meaning, that women are the destruction of kings, if they hunt them.

3. that which] Or, with a slight change in the Heb., “them that”; thus preserving more exactly the parallelism with the first clause of the verse. Comp. Deuteronomy 17:17; 1 Kings 11:1-8.Verse 3. - Exhortation to chastity. Give not thy strength unto women (comp. Proverbs 5:9). Chayil is "vigour," the bodily powers, which are sapped and enervated by sensuality. The Septuagint has σὸν πλοῦτον; the Vulgate, substantiam tuam; but the prayerful, anxious mother would consider rather her son's personal well being than his worldly circumstances, which, indeed, an Eastern monarch's licentiousness would not necessarily impair. Nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings; or, with a slight alteration in the punctuation (and an improved parallelism), to them that destroy kings; "expugnatricibus regum," as Schultens terms them. Women are meant; and the prince is enjoined not to surrender his life, conduct, and actions to the influence of women, who, both by the dissipation and sensuality which they occasion, and the quarrels which they provoke, and the evil counsels which they give, often ruin kings and states (see the injunction, Deuteronomy 17:11). The Vulgate rendering, ad delendos reges, looks as if the warning was against making wars of conquest against neighbouring kings; but this is not a satisfactory parallel to the former clause. Septuagint, "Give not thy wealth unto women, nor thy mind, nor thy life unto remorse (ὑστεροβολίαν). Do all things with counsel; drink wine with counsel." This seems to belong to the next verse. Another numerical proverb with the cipher 4 equals 3 + 1:

29 Three things are of stately walk,

     And four of stately going:

30 The lion, the hero among beasts,

     And that turneth back before nothing;

31 The swift-loined, also the goat;

     And a king with whom is the calling out of the host.

Regarding היטיב with inf. following (the segolated n. actionis צעד is of equal force with an inf.), vid., under Proverbs 15:2.

(Note: In 29a, after Norzi, מיטיבי, and in 29b, מיטבי, is to be written, and this is required by the little Masora to 1 Samuel 25:31, the great, to Ezekiel 33:33, and also the Erfurt little Masora to the passage before us.)

The relation of the members of the sentence in 30a is like that in 25a and 26a: subj. and apposit., which there, as here, is continued in a verbal clause which appears to us as relative. It deserves to be here remarked that לישׁ, as the name for a lion, occurs only here and at Job 4:11, and in the description of the Sinai wilderness, Isaiah 30:6; in Arab. it is layth, Aram. לית, and belongs to the Arameo-Arab. dialect of this language; the lxx and Syr. translate it "the young lion;" the Venet. excellently, by the epic λῖς. בּבּהמה has the article only to denote the genus, viz., of the beasts, and particularly the four-footed beasts. What is said in 30b (cf. with the expression, Job 39:22) is described in Isaiah 30:4. The two other beasts which distinguish themselves by their stately going are in 31a only briefly named. But we are not in the condition of the readers of this Book of Proverbs, who needed only to hear the designation זרזיר מתנים at once to know what beast was meant. Certainly זרזיר, as the name for a beast, is not altogether unknown in the post-bibl. Heb. "In the days of Rabbi Chija (the great teacher who came from Babylon to the Academy of Sepphoris), as is narrated in Bereschith rabba, sect. 65, a zarzir flew to the land of Israel, and it was brought to him with the question whether it were eatable. Go, said he, place it on the roof! Then came an Egyptian raven and lighted down beside it. See, said Chija, it is unclean, for it belongs to the genus of the ravens, which is unclean (Leviticus 11:15). From this circumstance there arose the proverb: The raven goes to the zarzir because it belongs to his own tribe."

(Note: This "like draws to like" in the form: "not in vain goes the raven to the zarzir, it belongs just to its own tribe," came to be often employed, Chullin 65a, Baba Kamma 92b. Plantavitius has it, Tendlau more at large, Sprichwrter, u.s.w., Nr. 577.)

Also the Jer. Rosch ha-schane, Halacha 3: "It is the manner of the world that one seeks to assist his zarzir, and another his zarzir, to obtain the victory;" and Midrash Echa v. 1, according to which it is the custom of the world, that one who has a large and a little zarzir in his house, is wont to treat the little one sparingly, so that in the case of the large one being killed, he might not need to buy another. According to this, the zarzir is a pugnacious animal, which also the proverb Bereschith rabba, c. 75, confirms: two zarzir do not sleep on one board; and one makes use of his for contests like cock-fights. According to this, the זרזיר is a bird, and that of the species of the raven; after Rashi, the tourneau, the starling, which is confirmed by the Arab. zurzur (vulgar Arab. zarzur), the common name of starlings (cf. Syr. zarzizo, under zrz of Castelli). But for the passage before us, we cannot regard this as important, for why is the starling fully named זרזיר מתנים? To this question Kimchi has already remarked that he knows no answer for it. Only, perhaps, the grave magpie (corvus pica), strutting with upraised tail, might be called succinctus lumbos, if מתנים can at all be used here of a bird. At the earliest, this might possibly be used of a cock, which the later Heb. named directly גּבר, because of its manly demeanour; most old translators so understand it. The lxx translates, omitting the loins, by ἀλέκτωρ ἐμπεριπατῶν θηλείαις εὔψυχος, according to which the Syr. and Targ.: like the cock which struts about proudly among the hens;

(Note: Regarding the Targum Text, vid., Levy under אבּכא and זרכּל. The expression דּמזדּרז (who is girded, and shows himself as such) is not unsuitable.)

Aquila and Theodotion: ἀλέκτωρ (ἀλεκτρυὼν) νώτου; The Quinta: ἀλέκτωρ ὀσφύος; Jezome: gallus succinctus lumbos. Ṣarṣar (not ṣirṣir, as Hitzig vocalizes) is in Arab. a name for a cock, from ṣarṣara, to crow, an onomatopoeia. But the Heb. זרזיר, as the name of a bird, signifies, as the Talmud proves on the ground of that history, not a cock, but a bird of the raven order, whether a starling, a crow, or a magpie. And if this name of a corvinus is formed from the onomatopoeia זרזר, the weaker form of that (Arab.) ṣarṣar, then מתנים, which, for זרזיר, requires the verbal root זרז, to girdle, is not wholly appropriate; and how strangely would the three animals be mingled together, if between לישׁ and תישׁ, the two four-footed animals, a bird were placed! If, as is to be expected, the "Lendenumgrtete" [the one girded about the loins equals זרזיר מתנים] be a four-footed animal, then it lies near, with C. B. Michaelis and Ziegler, after Ludolf's


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