Proverbs 31:8
Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction.
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(8) Open thy mouth for the dumb.—Who cannot from timidity or ignorance plead his own cause, and who would therefore be crushed by his antagonist.

Such as are appointed to destruction.—Certain to perish if left unaided. Comp. Job’s account of his exertions for victims of high-handed oppression, an ever recurring evil under weak despotic governments (Job 29:12, sqq.).

Proverbs 31:8. Open thy mouth — Speak freely and impartially, as becomes a king and a judge to do: for the dumb — For such as cannot speak in their own cause, either through ignorance, or because of the dread of their more potent adversaries. In the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction — Who, without such succour from the judges, are likely to be utterly ruined.

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.In contrast with the two besetting sins of Eastern monarchs stands their one great duty, to give help to those who had no other helper.

Such as are appointed to destruction - literally, "children of bereavement," with the sense, either, as in the text, of those "destined to be bereaved of life or goods," or of "bereaved or fatherless children."

8, 9. Open … cause—Plead for those who cannot plead for themselves, as the orphan, stranger, &c. (compare Ps 72:12; Isa 1:17).

appointed to destruction—who are otherwise ruined by their oppressors (compare Pr 29:14, 16).

Open thy mouth, speak freely and impartially, as becomes a king and judge to do, for the dumb; for such as cannot speak in their own cause, either through ignorance and infirmity, or because of the dread of their more potent adversaries, or of the majesty of the king sitting in judgment.

Such as are appointed to destruction; who without such succour from the judge are like to be utterly ruined, whom therefore both justice and charity oblige thee to preserve.

Open thy mouth for the dumb,.... Not who are naturally so, but who cannot speak in their own behalf, either through want of elocution, or knowledge of the laws; or who are bashful, timorous, and fearful, being overawed by the majesty of a court of judicature, or by their prosecutors; or who, as they have not a tongue, so not a purse, to speak for them, the fatherless and the widow; which latter has her name, in the Hebrew language, from dumbness. Here Lemuel's mother advises him to open his mouth freely, readily, boldly, and intrepidly, and plead for such persons. Even

in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction; whose destruction is resolved on by their accusers and prosecutors; and who are in danger of it, being charged with capital crimes; unless some persons of wisdom, power, and authority, interpose on their behalf. It may be rendered, "in the cause of all the children of change", or "passing away" (s); the children of the world, which passeth away with all things in it, as Kimchi; or orphans, whose help passeth away, as Jarchi; or rather strangers, as others, who pass from place to place and whose state and condition is liable to many changes who may be ignorant of the laws of the country where they are, and may stand in need of persons to plead for them.

(s) "filiormn transitus", Montanus, Gejerus, Michaelis; "transeuntis, sub. seculi", Vatablus, so Ben Melech; "filiorum mutationis loci", Piscator; "filii mutationis, h. e. hujus mundi", Baynus.

Open thy mouth for the {g} dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction.

(g) Defend their cause that are not able to help themselves.

8. for the dumb] for all who cannot plead their own cause.

such as are appointed to destruction] Lit. the sons of passing away. We may understand this either of those who are in danger of ruin by being condemned to loss of life or goods; or of those who are left desolate (R.V. text), and have no one to plead their cause. Comp. “the fatherless children and widows, and all that are desolate and oppressed.”

Verses 8, 9. - The third exhortation, admonishing the king to judge righteously. Verse 8. - Open thy mouth for the dumb. The "dumb" is any one who for any reason whatever is unable to plead his own cause; he may be of tender age, or of lowly station, or ignorant, timid, and boorish; and the prince is enjoined to plead for him and defend him (comp. Job 29:15). In the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction; literally, the sons of passing away (Isaiah 2:18); i.e. not orphans, children whose parents have vanished from the earth, nor strangers from a foreign country, nor, generally, mortals, subjects of frail human nature (all of which explanations have been given), but persons who are in imminent danger of perishing, certain, if left unaided, to come to ruin (comp. Job 29:12). Septuagint, "Open thy mouth for the Word of God, and judge all men soundly (ὑγιῶς)." Proverbs 31:88 Open thy mouth for the dumb,

   For the right of all the children of leaving;

9 Open thy mouth, judge righteously,

   And do right to the poor and needy.

He is called dumb who suffers the infirmity of dumbness, as עוּר and פּסּח, Job 29:15, is he who suffers the infirmity of blindness or lameness, not here figuratively; at the same time, he who, on account of his youth, or on account of his ignorance, or from fear, cannot speak before the tribunal for himself (Fleischer). With ל the dat. commodi (lxx after Lagarde, μογιλάλῳ; Aquila, Symmachus, Theodotion, ἀλάλῳ; the Venet. after Gebhardt, βωβῷ) אל, of the object aimed at, interchanges, as e.g., 1 Kings 19:3; 2 Kings 7:7, אל־נפשׁם, for the preservation of their life, or for the sake of their life, for it is seldom that it introduces the object so purely as here. And that an infin. such as חלוף should stand as a subst. occurs proportionally seldomer in Heb. (Isaiah 4:4; Psalm 22:7; cf. with ה of the artic., Numbers 4:12; Psalm 66:9) than it does in Arab. בּני חלוף in the same way as בּני־עני, 5b, belongs to the Arab. complexion of this proverb, but without its being necessary to refer to the Arab. in order to fix the meaning of these two words. Hitzig explains after khalf, to come after, which further means "to have the disadvantage," in which Zckler follows him; but this verb in Arab. does not mean ὑστερεῖν (ὑστερεῖσθαι), we must explain "sons of him that remains behind," i.e., such as come not forward, but remain behind ('an) others. Mhlau goes further, and explains, with Schultens and Vaihinger: those destitute of defence, after (Arab.) khalafahu he is ranked next to him, and has become his representative - a use of the word foreign to the Heb. Still less is the rendering of Gesenius justified, "children of inheritance" equals children left behind, after khallafa, to leave behind; and Luther, "for the cause of all who are left behind," by the phrase (Arab.) khallfany'an 'awnih, he has placed me behind his help, denied it to me, for the Kal of the verb cannot mean to abandon, to leave. And that בני חלוף means the opposers of the truth, or of the poor, or the litigious person, the quarrelsome, is perfectly inadmissible, since the Kal חלוף cannot be equivalent to (Arab.) khilaf, the inf. of the 3rd conj., and besides, the gen. after דּין always denotes those in whose favour, not those against whom it is passed; the latter is also valid against Ralbag's "sons of change," i.e., who say things different from what they think; and Ahron b. Josef's "sons of changing," viz., the truth into lies. We must abide by the meaning of the Heb. חלף, "to follow after, to change places, pass away." Accordingly, Fleischer understands by חלוף, the going away, the dying, viz., of parents, and translates: eorum qui parentibus orbati sunt. In another way Rashi reaches the same sense: orphans deprived of their helper. But the connection בני חלף requires that we make those who are intended themselves the subject of חלוף. Rightly Ewald, Bertheau, Kamphausen, compare Isaiah 2:18 (and Psalm 90:5., this with questionable right), and understand by the sons of disappearance those whose inherited lot, whose proper fate, is to disappear, to die, to perish (Symmachus: πάντων υἱῶν ἀποιχομένων; Jerome: omnium filiorum qui pertranseunt). It is not men in general as children of frailty that are meant (Kimchi, Meri, Immanuel, Euchel, and others), after which the Venet. τῶν υἱῶν τοῦ μεταβάλλειν (i.e., those who must exchange this life for another), but such as are on the brink of the abyss. צדק in שׁפט־צדק is not equivalent to בּצדק, but is the accus. of the object, as at Zechariah 8:16, decide justice, i.e., so that justice is the result of thy judicial act; cf. Knobel on Deuteronomy 1:16. ודּין is imper., do right to the miserable and the poor; cf. Psalm 54:3 with Jeremiah 22:16; Jeremiah 5:28. That is a king of a right sort, who directs his high function as a judge, so as to be an advocate [procurator] for the helpless of his people.

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