Proverbs 31:5
Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
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.Some read: "nor for princes to say, Where is strong drink?" The "strong drink" Proverbs 20:1 was distilled from barley, or honey, or dates. 4, 5. Stimulants enfeeble reason, pervert the heart, and do not suit rulers, who need clear and steady minds, and well-governed affections (compare Pr 20:1; 22:29).

pervert … afflicted—They give unrighteous decisions against the poor.

Forget the law; the laws of God, by which they are to govern themselves and their kingdoms.

Pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted; which may easily be done by a drunken judge, because drunkenness deprives a man of the use of reason; by which alone men can distinguish between right and wrong, and withal stirs up those passions which incline him both to precipitation and partiality. Lest they drink, and forget the law,.... The law of God by Moses, which the kings of Israel were obliged to write a copy of, and read over daily, to imprint it on their minds, that they might never forget it, but always govern according to it, Deuteronomy 17:18; or the law of their ancestors, or what was made by themselves, which through intemperance may be forgotten; for this sin stupefies the mind and hurts the memory, and makes men forgetful;

and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted; a king on the throne, or a judge on the bench, drunk, must be very unfit for his office; since he must be incapable of attending to the cause before him, of taking in the true state of the case; and, as he forgets the law, which is his rule of judgment, so he will mistake the point in debate, and put one thing for another; and "change" (g) and alter, as the word signifies, the judgment of the afflicted and injured person, and give the cause against him which should be for him; and therefore it is of great consequence that kings and judges should he sober. A certain woman, being undeservedly condemned by Philip king of Macedon, when drunk, said,

"I would appeal to Philip, but it shall be when he is sober;''

which aroused him; and, more diligently examining the cause, he gave, a more righteous sentence (h).

(g) "mutet", Pagninus, Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Mercerus, Cocceius, Gejerus, Michaelis; "demutet", Schultens. (h) Valer. Maxim l. 6. c. 2. extern. 1.

Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
5. of any of the afflicted] “Heb. of all the sons of affliction,” A.V. and R.V. marg.Verse 5. - This gives a reason for the warning. Lest they drink, and forget the Law. That which has been decreed, and is right and lawful, the appointed ordinance, particularly as regards the administration of justice. Septuagint, "Lest drinking, they forget wisdom." And pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted; literally, of all the sons of affliction; i.e. the whole class of poorer people. Intemperance leads to selfish disregard of others' claims, an inability to examine questions impartially, and consequent perversion of justice. Isaiah (Isaiah 5:23) speaks of intoxication as inducing men to "justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him." Another proverb, the last of Agur's "Words" which exhorts to thoughtful, discreet demeanour, here follows the proverb of self-conscious, grave deportment:

32 If thou art foolish in that thou exaltest thyself,

     Or in devising, - put thy hand to thy mouth!

33 For the pressure on milk bringeth forth butter,

     And pressure on the nose bringeth forth blood,

     And pressure on sensibility bringeth forth altercation.

Lwenstein translates Proverbs 30:32 :

Art thou despicable, it is by boasting;

Art thou prudent, then hold thy hand on thy mouth.

But if זמם denotes reflection and deliberation, then נבל, as its opposite, denotes unreflecting, foolish conduct. Then בּהתנשּׂא ne by boasting is not to be regarded as a consequent (thus it happens by lifting thyself up; or: it is connected with boasting); by this construction also, אם־נבלתּ must be accented with Dechi, not with Tarcha. Otherwise Euchel:

Hast thou become offensive through pride,

Or seems it so to thee, - lay thy hand to thy mouth.

The thought is appropriate,

(Note: Yet the Talmud, Nidda 27a, derives another moral rule from this proverb, for it interprets זמם in the sense of זמם equals חסם, to tie up, to bridle, to shut up, but אם נבלת in the sense of "if thou hast made thyself despicable," as Lwenstein has done.)

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