Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Proverbs 20:1 was distilled from barley, or honey, or dates.
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. 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).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."
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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