Open your mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
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."
appointed to destruction—who are otherwise ruined by their oppressors (compare Pr 29:14, 16).
and plead the cause of the poor and needy; who are oppressed by the rich, cannot plead for themselves, nor fee others to plead for them; do thou do it freely and faithfully. Thus as Lemuel's mother cautions him against women and wine, she advises him to do the duties of his office in administering impartial justice to all, and particularly in being the advocate and judge of the indigent and distressed.Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)9. plead the cause of] Rather, minister judgement to, R.V. Lit judge.Verse 9. - Plead the cause; rather, minister judgment, or do right; act in your official capacity so that the effect shall be substantial justice (comp. Zechariah 8:16).
Give not thy strength to women,
Nor thy ways to them that destroy kings.
The punctuation למחות sees in this form a syncopated inf. Hiph. equals להמחות (vid., at Proverbs 24:17), according to which we are to translate: viasque tuas ad perdendos reges (ne dirige), by which, as Fleischer formulates the twofold possibility, it may either be said: direct not thy effort to this result, to destroy neighbouring kings - viz. by wars of invasion (properly, to wipe them away from the table of existence, as the Arabs say) - or: do not that by which kings are overthrown; i.e., with special reference to Lemuel, act not so that thou thyself must thereby be brought to ruin. But the warning against vengeful, rapacious, and covetous propensity to war (thus Jerome, so that Venet. after Kimchi: ἀπομάττειν βασιλέας, C. B. Michaelis, and earlier, Gesenius) does not stand well as parallel with the warning against giving his bodily and mental strength to women, i.e., expending it on them. But another explanation: direct not thy ways to the destruction of kings, i.e., toward that which destroys kings (Elster); or, as Luther translates: go not in the way wherein kings destroy themselves - puts into the words a sense which the author cannot have had in view; for the individualizing expression would then be generalized in the most ambiguous way. Thus למחות מלכין will be a name for women, parallel to לנּשׁים. So far the translation of the Targum: לבנת מלכין, filiabus (לאמהת?) regum, lies under a right supposition. But the designation is not thus general. Schultens explains catapultis regum after Ezekiel 26:9; but, inasmuch as he takes this as a figure of those who lay siege to the hearts of men, he translates: expugnatricibus regum, for he regards מחות as the plur. of מחה, a particip. noun, which he translates by deletor. The connecting form of the fem. plur. of this מחה might certainly be מחות (cf. מזי, from מזה), but למחות מלכין ought to be changed into 'וגו 'לם; for one will not appeal to anomalies, such as 'לם, Proverbs 16:4; 'כּג, Isaiah 24:2; 'לם, Lamentations 1:19; or 'וגו 'הת, 1 Kings 14:24, to save the Pathach of למחות, which, as we saw, proceeds from an altogether different understanding of the word. But if 'לם is to be changed into 'לם, then one must go further, since for מחה not an active but a conditional meaning is to be assumed, and we must write למחות, in favour of which Fleischer as well as Gesenius decides: et ne committe consilia factaque tua iis quae reges perdunt, regum pestibus. Ewald also favours the change למחות, for he renders מחה as a denom. of מח, marrow: those who enfeeble kings, in which Kamphausen follows him. Mhlau goes further; he gives the privative signification, to enfeeble, to the Piel מחה equals makhakha (cf. Herzog's Real-Wrterb. xiv. 712), which is much more probable, and proposes לממחות: iis quae vires enervant regum. But we can appropriately, with Nldeke, adhere to למחות, deletricibus (perditricibus), for by this change the parallelism is satisfied; and that מחה may be used, with immediate reference to men, of entire and total destruction, is sufficiently established by such passages as Genesis 6:7; Judges 21:17, if any proof is at all needed for it. Regarding the lxx and those misled by it, who, by מלכין and מלכים, 4a, think on the Aram. מלכּין, βουλαί, vid., Mhlau, p. 53.
(Note: Also Hitzig's Blinzlerinnen [women who ogle or leer equals seductive courtesans] and Bttcher's Streichlerinnen [caressers, viz., of kings] are there rejected, as they deserve to be.)
But the Syr. has an idea worthy of the discourse, who translates epulis regum without our needing, with Mhlau, to charge him with dreaming of לחם in למחות. Perhaps that is true; but perhaps by למחות he thought of למחות (from מה, the particip. adj. of מחח): do not direct thy ways to rich food (morsels), such as kings love and can have. By this reading, 3b would mediate the transition to Proverbs 31:4; and that the mother refers to the immorality, the unseemliness, and the dangers of a large harem, only in one brief word (3a), cannot seem strange, much rather it may be regarded as a sign of delicacy. But so much the more badly does וּדרכיך accord with למחות. Certainly one goes to a banquet, for one finds leisure for it; but of one who himself is a king, it is not said that he should not direct his ways to a king's dainties. But if למחות refers to the whole conduct of the king, the warning is, that he should not regulate his conduct in dependence on the love and the government of women. But whoever will place himself amid the revelry of lust, is wont to intoxicate himself with ardent spirits; and he who is thus intoxicated, is in danger of giving reins to the beast within him.
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