Proverbs 4:3
For I was my father's son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother.
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(3) For I was . . . son . . .—It is not only his own advice that he has to offer; he can tell his disciples of the excellent discipline and teaching he received from his parents in his old home. It may be remarked that the notices of Solomon’s early years which occur in this and the following verses harmonise well with what we know of him from the historical books of the Bible.

Tender.—The epithet applied to Solomon by his father (1Chronicles 29:1).

Only beloved.—The word yāchîd originally signified an “only” (son), as in Zechariah 12:10. Then it came to mean “beloved as an only son,” and that appears to be the sense of it in Genesis 22:2, as applied to Isaac (for Ishmael was then living), and to Solomon here (for Bath-sheba had other children by David, 1Chronicles 3:5). In Greek translations it is rendered “only-begotten” and “well-beloved,” epithets applied in their highest sense to Christ (John 1:14; Matthew 3:17).

In the sight of my mother.—Implying her affection, as Genesis 17:18.

4:1-13 We must look upon our teachers as our fathers: though instruction carry in it reproof and correction, bid it welcome. Solomon's parents loved him, therefore taught him. Wise and godly men, in every age of the world, and rank in society, agree that true wisdom consists in obedience, and is united to happiness. Get wisdom, take pains for it. Get the rule over thy corruptions; take more pains to get this than the wealth of this world. An interest in Christ's salvation is necessary. This wisdom is the one thing needful. A soul without true wisdom and grace is a dead soul. How poor, contemptible, and wretched are those, who, with all their wealth and power, die without getting understanding, without Christ, without hope, and without God! Let us give heed to the sayings of Him who has the words of eternal life. Thus our path will be plain before us: by taking, and keeping fast hold of instruction, we shall avoid being straitened or stumbling.Probably the words of Solomon himself, who looks back from his glorious throne and his matured wisdom to the training which was the starting point. The part taken by Bathsheba in 1 Kings 1, no less than the friendship between her and Nathan, indicates that a mother's training might well have laid the foundation of the king's future wisdom. Among the Israelites and Egyptians alone, of the nations of the old world, was the son's reverence for the mother placed side by side with that which he owed to his father.

Only beloved, - literally "only," but the word is used apparently (as in Genesis 22:2, Genesis 22:12) in its derived sense, "beloved like an only son." The Vulgate gives "unigenitus." Compare the words applied to our Lord, as the "only begotten" John 1:14, the "beloved" Ephesians 1:6.

3. father's son—emphatic, a son specially regarded, and so called tender, as an object of special care (compare 1Ch 22:7; 29:1); an idea further expressed by

only beloved—or, "as an only son" (Ge 22:2), though he had brothers (see on [643]1Ch 3:5).

My father’s son, in a special manner; his best beloved son, and designed to be his successor in the throne.

Tender; young and tender in years, and capable of any impressions, and tenderly educated.

Only beloved, Heb. only, or the only son; or rather, because Bathsheba seems to have had other sons, 1 Chronicles 3:5, as an only son, as dearly beloved as an only son; in which sense this title is given to Isaac, Genesis 22:2,12,16, though he had another son, and to others. And all these circumstances are mentioned to show the necessity and great benefit of wholesome instruction, which his royal parents would not neglect, no, not in his tender years, and thereby to prepare and excite them by his example to receive instruction.

For I was my father's son,.... Or, "a son to my father" (p); so Solomon was to God, his heavenly Father, 2 Samuel 7:14; which Jarchi observes, and gives as the sense of this place: but his father David is meant, whose son he was; though he was not his only one, he had others besides him. But the sense is, that he was his darling, his beloved son, whom he loved above the rest; as he was beloved of the Lord, and therefore his name was called Jedidiah, so he was beloved of his father; and, because he had a peculiar love for him, he took a particular care of his education;

tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother; his mother Bathsheba, who had a most affectionate regard to him; and therefore in his tender age, as soon as he was susceptible of instructions, gave them to him, which being received, made deep and lasting impressions on him; see Proverbs 31:1. The marginal reading is, "to the sons of my mother"; for Bathsheba had more sons, 1 Chronicles 3:5; both readings may be retained, "beloved in the sight of my mother's sons". Gersom interprets this of the people of Israel, who were sons to God their Father; and were the only nation that received the law, and which they received at the time of their coming out of Egypt, in the days of their youth.

(p) "filius fui patri meo", Pagninus, Montanus, Mercerus, Gejerus, Michaelis; so Cocceius, Schultens.

For I was my father's son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother.
3. my father’s son] The order of the words in the original: a son was I to my father, suggests the meaning, I was a true son, a son not only by birth, but by filial reverence and obedience, “filius, i.e. cum vi; veri nominis filius.” Maur. Others explain, with Bertheau, “I also stood in the relation to my actual father, in which you stand to me, your paternal instructor.”

tender] Comp. 1 Chronicles 29:1, where David uses this word of Solomon.

only beloved] Lit. only. The R.V., while giving in the margin “Heb. an only one,” retains the rendering of A.V. in the text, and prints the word “beloved” (not as A.V., in italics, but) in Roman characters, as being “plainly implied in the Hebrew, and necessary in English” (Revisers’ Preface). The point is interesting as bearing upon the authorship of this part of the Book. Solomon was not an “only” son, though it might reasonably be urged that he was so in the same sense as was Isaac, of whom this same word is used (Genesis 22:2; Genesis 22:16. Comp. μονογενῆ, Hebrews 11:17), and who was not strictly an only son either, but one who stood alone in the choice of God and in the Messianic line, and therefore in the estimation of his father. Comp. “Solomon my son, whom alone God hath chosen,” 1 Chronicles 29:1, where (see preceding note), the word “tender” is also applied as here to Solomon. But Solomon was from his birth specially beloved (2 Samuel 12:24-25), and the word is used elsewhere in this derived sense, “alone” not only in fact, but in the value set upon it (Psalm 22:20; Psalm 35:17, “my darling”; where see notes in this Series). ἀγαπώμενος, LXX.

Verse 3. - For I was my father's son. This is more than the mere statement of a physical fact. It indicates that the teacher was in the highest degree an object of endearment to his father, just as he states in the second hemistich that he held a unique position in the affection of his mother. `The statement agrees with the historical record. Solomon would be more than ordinarily dear to his father, as being a child of promise, as "the beloved of the Lord," and as the son whom the Divine will had pointed as the successor to his throne, and the one on whom was to devolve the building of the temple (see 2 Samuel 7:12, 13; 2 Samuel 12:24; 1 Chronicles 22:9). Bertheau explains, "I also once stood in the relation to my (actual) father in which you stand to me your paternal instructor," thus giving prominence rather to the consecution of the passage, and preparing the way for the reception of the father's advice which is to follow. But this rather loses sight of what appears an important element in the instruction, that not only was it "good," but that it was dictated by affection. The writer is fortifying and strengthening his instruction by the authority of his father, showing that what he was laying before others he had had placed before him; and as his father's advice was the outcome of affection, so he addresses his hearers in the same spirit. Dathe and others connect "tender" rak) with "son" (ben), and render, "I was a son dear to my father." So the LXX., which, however, understands "tender" in the sense of "tractable," "obedient:" "For I was an obedient son to my father" - a meaning which the word rak can only bear as indicating the susceptibility of the young to receive impressions. In general, rak means "tender," "soft," and has reference to the weakness and helplessness of the young; comp. Genesis 33:13, "My lord knoweth that the children are tender (rakkim)." Combined with yakhid, which follows, it signifies, in the passage before us, that the teacher was an object of tender care or love. The Vulgate tenellus, the diminutive of tener, as signifying "somewhat tender or delicate," reproduces the idea of the Hebrew rak. In the word the teacher recalls his early lifo and the instruction in wisdom which he received in it. Only beloved; literally, only (yakhid), as "beloved" does not occur in the original. The Vulgate renders, unigenitus; Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion, μονογενής, i.e. "only begotten:" but this was not literally the fact, as Bathsheba, the mother of Solomon, had other sons (2 Samuel 5:14; 1 Chronicles 3:5). Both the Hebrew yakhid, "only," and the Vulgate unigenitus, "only begotten," consequently signify what is expressed by the LXX. ἀγαπώμενος, i.e. "beloved." Solomon was so beloved of his mother as if he were an only child. So yakhid is used of Isaac in Genesis 22:2, 12 in the same way, since at the time that Isaac was so designated, Ishmael, the other son of Abraham, was still living. The word yakhid occurs in Psalm 22:20, where it is rendered "darling," and may possibly refer to Solomon. Jennings, in Psalm 22:20, understands it, however, of the life besides which the psalmist has no other - unicam meam, as the Vulgate, i.e. "his only life" (cf. Psalm 35:17; and for the word yakhid, see Jeremiah 5:26; Amos 8:10; Zechariah 12:10). In the sight of my mother (liph'ne immi); literally, ad facies matris meae, or, before my mother; Vulgate, coram matre mea, i.e. in her estimation (cf. Genesis 17:18). The mention of the mother is probably introduced here for the sake of poetic parallelism; cf. Proverbs 1:8 (Zockler). Proverbs 4:3He now confirms and explains the command to duty which he has placed at the beginning of the whole (Proverbs 1:8). This he does by his own example, for he relates from the history of his own youth, to the circle of disciples by whom he sees himself surrounded, what good doctrine his parents had taught him regarding the way of life:

1 Hear, ye sons, the instruction of a father,

   And attend that ye may gain understanding;

2 For I give to you good doctrine,

   Forsake not my direction!

3 For I was a son to my father,

   A tender and only (son) in the sight of my mother.

4 And he instructed me, and said to me:

   "Let thine heart hold fast my words:

   Observe my commandments and live!"

That בּנים in the address comes here into the place of בּני, hitherto used, externally denotes that בני in the progress of these discourses finds another application: the poet himself is so addressed by his father. Intentionally he does not say אביכם (cf. Proverbs 1:8): he does not mean the father of each individual among those addressed, but himself, who is a father in his relation to them as his disciples; and as he manifests towards them fatherly love, so also he can lay claim to paternal authority over them. לדעת is rightly vocalized, not לדעת. The words do not give the object of attention, but the design, the aim. The combination of ideas in דּעת בּינה (cf. Proverbs 1:2), which appears to us singular, loses its strangeness when we remember that דעת means, according to its etymon, deposition or reception into the conscience and life. Regarding לקח, apprehension, reception, lesson equals doctrine, vid., Proverbs 1:5. נתתּי is the perf., which denotes as fixed and finished what is just now being done, Gesenius, 126, 4. עזב is here synonym of נטשׁ, Proverbs 1:8, and the contrary of שׁמר, Proverbs 28:4. The relative factum in the perfect, designating the circumstances under which the event happened, regularly precedes the chief factum ויּרני; see under Genesis 1:2. Superficially understood, the expression 3a would be a platitude; the author means that the natural legal relation was also confirming itself as a moral one. It was a relation of many-sided love, according to 3a: he was esteemed of his mother - לפני, used of the reflex in the judgment, Genesis 10:9, and of loving care, Genesis 17:18, means this - as a tender child, and therefore tenderly to be protected (רך as Genesis 33:13), and as an only child, whether he were so in reality, or was only loved as if he were so. יחיד (Aq., Sym., Theod., μονογενής) may with reference to number also mean unice dilectus (lxx ἀγαπώμενος); cf. Genesis 22:2, יחידך (where the lxx translate τὸν ἀγαπητόν, without therefore having ידידך before them). לפני is maintained by all the versions; לבני is not a variant.

(Note: In some editions לבני is noted as Kerı̂ to לפני, but erroneously and contrary to the express evidence of the Masora, which affirms that there are two passages in which we ought to read not לפני, but לבני, viz., Psalm 80:3 and Proverbs 4:3.)

The instruction of the father begins with the jussive, which is pointed יתמך־

(Note: The writing of -יתמך with the grave Metheg (Gaja) and Kametz-Chatuph (ǒ) is that of Ben Asher; on the other hand, יתמך־ with Cholem (ō) and the permanent Metheg is that of Ben Naphtali; vid., Michlol 21a [under the verbal form 25], 30.)


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