Proverbs 6:7
Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler,
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(j). Tenth Discourse:Against Sloth (Proverbs 6:6-11)

(7) Guide.—Properly, judge (the Arabic cadi), then leader, prince.

6:6-11 Diligence in business is every man's wisdom and duty; not so much that he may attain worldly wealth, as that he may not be a burden to others, or a scandal to the church. The ants are more diligent than slothful men. We may learn wisdom from the meanest insects, and be shamed by them. Habits of indolence and indulgence grow upon people. Thus life runs to waste; and poverty, though at first at a distance, gradually draws near, like a traveller; and when it arrives, is like an armed man, too strong to be resisted. All this may be applied to the concerns of our souls. How many love their sleep of sin, and their dreams of worldly happiness! Shall we not seek to awaken such? Shall we not give diligence to secure our own salvation?The words express the wonder with which the Hebrew observer looked on the phenomena of insect life. "Guide," better captain, as in Joshua 10:24. The Septuagint introduces here a corresponding reference to the industry of the bee. 6-8. The improvident sluggards usually want sureties. Hence, such are advised to industry by the ant's example. Which might direct them in or quicken them to the work, as the bees have their kings, and many other creatures have their leaders. This heightens their commendation. Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler. None to guide and direct her what to do; nor any to overlook her, to see that she does aright, or to oblige her to work, and keep her to it; nor any to call her to an account, and correct her for doing amiss; and nevertheless diligent and industrious, doing everything of herself, by the instinct of nature, readily and willingly: and yet how slothful are men; who, besides the dictates of nature, reason, and conscience, have parents, masters, ministers, and magistrates, to guide, direct, exhort, instruct, and enforce! so Aristotle (k) says of the ant, that it is without any ruler or governor.

(k) Hist. de Animal. l. 1. c. 1.

Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler,
7. guide] Rather, chief, R.V. (judge, marg.) to appoint its work. LXX. ἐκείνῳ γὰρ γεωργίου μὴ ὑπάρχοντος, in keeping with “the summer” and “the harvest” of the next verse.

overseer] The Heb. word is used of the Hebrew “officers,” whom the Egyptian “taskmasters” set over the Israelites in Egypt, Exodus 5:6; Exodus 5:10; Exodus 5:14.Verse 7. - Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler. This statement is substantially correct, for though the most recent observations made by modern naturalists have discovered various classes of ants occupying the same ant hill, yet there appears to be a total want of that gradation and subordination in ant life which is noticeable among bees. The three terms used here, katsa, shoter, moshel, all refer to government, and correspond respectively with the modern, Arabic terms, kadi, wall, and emir (Zockler). The first refers to the judicial office, and should rather be rendered "judge," the root katsah being "to decide" (see Isaiah 1:10; Isaiah 3:6, 7; Micah 3:9). The word, however, is used of a military commander in Joshua 10:24; Judges 2:6-11, and in this sense it is understood by the Vulgate, which has dux. Shoter, rendered "overseer," is literally "a scribe," and appears as the general designation for any official In Exodus 5:6, 19 the shoter is the person employed by the Egyptian taskmasters to urge on the Israelites in their forced labour; in Numbers 11:16 the shoter is one of the seventy elders; and in 1 Chronicles 23:4 he is a municipal magistrate. The meaning assigned to the word in the Authorized Version seems to be the correct one. The ant has no overseer; there is none to regulate or see that the work is done. Each ant apparently works independently of the rest, though guided by a common instinct to add to the common store. In moshel we have the highest title of dignity and power, the word signifying a lord, prince, or ruler, from mashal, "to rule." The author warns against suretyship; or rather, he advises that if one has made himself surety, he should as quickly as possible withdraw from the snare.

1 My son, if thou hast become surety for thy neighbour,

   Hast given thy hand for another:

2 Thou art entangled in the words of thy mouth,

   Ensnared in the words of thy mouth.

3 Do this then, my son, and free thyself -

   For thou hast come under the power of thy neighbour -

   Go, instantly entreat and importune thy neighbour.

4 Give no sleep to thine eyes,

   And no slumber to thine eyelids;

5 Tear thyself free like a gazelle from his hand,

   And as a bird from the hand of the fowler.

The chief question here is, whether ל after ערב introduces him for whom or with whom one becomes surety. Elsewhere ערב (R. רב, whence also ארב, nectere, to twist close and compact) with the accusative of the person means to become surety for any one, to represent him as a surety, Proverbs 11:15; Proverbs 20:16 (Proverbs 27:13), Genesis 43:9; Genesis 44:33 (as with the accusative of the matter, to pledge anything, to deposit it as a pledge, Jeremiah 30:21; Nehemiah 5:3, equals שׂים, Arab. waḍ'a, Job 17:3); and to become surety with any one is expressed, Genesis 17:18, by ערב לפני. The phrase ערב ל is not elsewhere met with, and is thus questionable. If we look to Proverbs 6:3, the רע (רעה) mentioned there cannot possibly be the creditor with whom one has become surety, for so impetuous and urgent an application to him would be both purposeless and unbecoming. But if he is meant for whom one has become surety, then certainly לרעך is also to be understood of the same person, and ל is thus dat. commodi; similar to this is the Targumic ערבוּתא על, suretyship for any one, Proverbs 17:18; Proverbs 22:26. But is the זר, 1b, distinguished from רעך, the stranger with whom one has become surety? The parallels Proverbs 11:15; Proverbs 20:16, where זר denotes the person whom one represents, show that in both lines one and the same person is meant; זר is in the Proverbs equivalent to אחר, each different from the person in the discourse, Proverbs 5:17; Proverbs 27:2 - thus, like רעך, denotes not the friend, but generally him to whom one stands in any kind of relation, even a very external one, in a word, the fellow-creatures or neighbours, Proverbs 24:28 (cf. the Arab. sahbk and ḳarynk, which are used as vaguely and superficially). It is further a question, whether we have to explain 1b: if thou hast given thine hand to another, or for another. Here also we are without evidence from the usage of the language; for the phrase תּקע כּף, or merely תּקע, appears to be used of striking the hand in suretyship where it elsewhere occurs without any further addition, Proverbs 17:18; Proverbs 22:26; Proverbs 11:15; however, Job 17:3, נתקע ליד appears the same: to strike into the hand of any one, i.e., to give to him the hand-stroke. From this passage Hitzig concludes that the surety gave the hand-stroke, without doubt in the presence of witnesses, first of all of the creditor, to the debtor, as a sign that he stood for him. But this idea is unnatural, and the "without doubt" melts into air. He on whose hand the stroke falls is always the person to whom one gives suretyship, and confirms it by the hand-stroke. Job also, l.c., means to say: who else but Thou, O Lord, could give to me a pledge, viz., of my innocence? If now the זר, v. 1b, is, as we have shown, not the creditor,

(Note: A translation by R. Joseph Joel of Fulda, 1787, whose autograph MS Baer possesses, renders the passage not badly thus: - "My son, if thou hast become surety for thy friend, and hast given the hand to another, then thou art bound by thy word, held by thy promise. Yet do what I say to thee, my son: Be at pains as soon as thou canst to get free, otherwise thou art in the power of thy friend; shun no trouble, be urgent with thy friend.")


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