Proverbs 7:23
Till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(23) Till a dart strike through his liver.—These words must be taken in a parenthesis.

That it is for his life.—i.e., at the cost of it, when “his flesh and body are consumed,” and remorse has seized upon him (Proverbs 5:11).

7:6-27 Here is an affecting example of the danger of youthful lusts. It is a history or a parable of the most instructive kind. Will any one dare to venture on temptations that lead to impurity, after Solomon has set before his eyes in so lively and plain a manner, the danger of even going near them? Then is he as the man who would dance on the edge of a lofty rock, when he has just seen another fall headlong from the same place. The misery of self-ruined sinners began in disregard to God's blessed commands. We ought daily to pray that we may be kept from running into temptation, else we invite the enemies of our souls to spread snares for us. Ever avoid the neighbourhood of vice. Beware of sins which are said to be pleasant sins. They are the more dangerous, because they most easily gain the heart, and close it against repentance. Do nothing till thou hast well considered the end of it. Were a man to live as long as Methuselah, and to spend all his days in the highest delights sin can offer, one hour of the anguish and tribulation that must follow, would far outweigh them.The first clause does not connect itself very clearly with the foregoing, and is probably affected by the corrupt text which makes it perplexing. 23. Till—He is now caught (Pr 6:26). His liver, i.e. his vital parts, whereof the liver is one. Till his life be lost, as it is explained in the next clause.

Knoweth not; which may be referred either to a foolish and inconsiderate young man; or to the silly bird to which he is compared, which comes to the same thing.

Till a dart strike through his liver,.... The fountain of blood, and so of life; which, being pierced through and poured out, is certain death, Lamentations 2:11; the meaning is, till he is slain either by the hand of God, or by the civil magistrate, or by the jealous husband; and be thrust through by him, as Zimri and Cozbi were by Phinehas. The "liver" may be particularly mentioned, not only for the reason before given, but because it is the seat of lust (l); so he is stricken in the part where his lust begins, where he has been smitten by Cupid's darts: or this dart through the liver may denote some disease, infecting the blood through sinful lust. The Targum is,

"as an hart into whose liver an arrow flies;''

or is wounded by an arrow in the liver, as the Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions: and so the meaning is, that this young man went as swiftly after the harlot as a hart does when it is wounded;

as a bird hasteth to the snare; it has its eye upon the bait, and flies swiftly to that, insensible of the snare that is laid for it;

and knoweth not that it is for his life; the bird knows not that the snare is set for its life, as Jarchi; or the fool knows not that it is for his soul; that it shall die, which hates correction, as Aben Ezra. The man that goes after the harlot knows not, or does not consider, that it is to the destruction of his precious and immortal soul; so the Targum,

"he knows not that it tends to the death of his soul;''

and to the same sense the Syriac and Arabic versions; the second death, which adulterers and idolaters shall have their part in, Revelation 21:8. The souls of men, and the ruin of them, are what the whore of Rome deals in, Revelation 18:13; she goes into perdition, into the bottomless pit, herself, and carries all her worshippers with her, Revelation 17:8.

(l) "Spleu ridere facit, cogit amare jecur", Ovid. "Si torrere jecur quaeris idoneum", Horat. Carmin. l. 4. Ode 1. v. 12. "Cum tibi flagrans amor et libido saeviet circa jecur ulcerosum". lbid l. 1. Ode 25. v. 13, 15.

Till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
23. dart] Rather, arrow, R.V.; sagitta, Vulg. The LXX. have ἢ ὡς ἔλαφος τοξεύματι πεπληγὼς εἰς τὸ ἧπαρ.

Verse 23. - Till a dart strike through his liver. This clause would be better taken with the preceding verse, as in the Septuagint, or else placed in a parenthesis; then the following clause introduces a new come parison. The youth follows the harlot till his liver, the seat of the passions, is thoroughly inflamed, or till fatal consequences ensue. Theocr., 'Id,' 11:15 -

Ἔχθιστον ἔχων ὑποκάρδιον ἕλκος
Κύπριος ἐκ μεγάλας τὸ οἱ ἥπατι πᾶξε βέλεμνον.
"Beneath his breast
A hateful wound he bore by Cypris given,
Who in his liver fixed the fatal dart."
Delitzsch would relegate the hemistich to the end of the verse, making it denote the final result of mad and illicit love. The sense thus gained is satisfactory, but the alteration is quite arbitrary, and unsupported by ancient authority. As a bird hasteth to the snare. This is another comparison (see Proverbs 1:17, the first proverb in the book, and note there). And knoweth not that it is for his life; i.e. the infatuated youth does not consider that his life is at stake, that he is bringing upon himself, by his vicious rashness, temporal and spiritual ruin (Proverbs 5:11). Proverbs 7:23The confusion into which the text has fallen is continued in this verse. For the figure of the deadly arrow connects itself neither with that of the ox which goes to the slaughter-house, nor with that of the madman who is put in chains: the former is not killed by being shot; and with the latter, the object is to render him harmless, not to put him to death. The lxx therefore converts אויל into איל, a stag, and connects the shooting with an arrow with this: ἢ ὡς ἔλαφος τοξεύματι πεπληγὼς εἰς τὸ ἧπαρ. But we need no encroachment on the text itself, only a correct placing of its members. The three thoughts, Proverbs 7:23, reach a right conclusion and issue, if with כּמהר צפּור אל־פּח (here Mercha-mahpach) a new departure is begun with a comparison: he follows her with eager desires, like as a bird hastens to the snare (vid., regarding פח, a snare, and מוקשׁ, a noose, under Isaiah 8:15). What then follows is a continuation of 22a. The subject is again the youth, whose way is compared to that of an ox going to the slaughter, of a culprit in chains, and of a fool; and he knows not (non novit, as Proverbs 4:19; Proverbs 9:18, and according to the sense, non curat, Proverbs 3:6; Proverbs 5:6) that it is done at the risk of his life (בנפשׁו as 1 Kings 2:23; Numbers 17:3), that his life is the price with which this kind of love is bought (הוּא, neut., as not merely Ecclesiastes 2:1 and the like, but also e.g., Leviticus 10:3; Esther 9:1) - that does not concern him till (עד equals עד אשׁר or עד כי) the arrow breaks or pierces through (פּלּח as Job 16:13) his liver, i.e., till he receives the death-wound, from which, if not immediately, yet at length he certainly dies. Elsewhere the part of the body struck with a deadly wound is called the reins or loins (Job, etc.), or the gall-bladder (Job 20:25); here the liver, which is called כּבד, Arab. kebid, perhaps as the organ in which sorrowful and painful affections make themselves felt (cf. Aeschylus, Agam. 801: δῆγμα λύπης ἐφ ̓ ἧπαρ προσικνεῖται), especially the latter, because the passion of sensual love, according to the idea of the ancients, reflected itself in the liver. He who is love-sick has jecur ulcerosum (Horace, Od. i. 25. 15); he is diseased in his liver (Psychol. p. 268). But the arrow is not here the arrow of love which makes love-sick, but the arrow of death, which slays him who is ensnared in sinful love. The befooled youth continues the disreputable relation into which he has entered till it terminates in adultery and in lingering disease upon his body, remorse in his soul, and dishonour to his name, speedily ending in inevitable ruin both spiritually and temporally.
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