By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)All the judges of the earth.—By the aid of heavenly wisdom only can they give right and just judgments, and so fulfil the high office delegated to them by God Himself, from the possession of which they are themselves termed “gods” (Exodus 22:28; Psalm 82:1). For the same reason kings, as ruling by His authority, have the same title accorded to them (Psalm 45:6).Proverbs 8:15-21 the teaching of 1 Kings 3:5-14. The word rendered "princes" Proverbs 8:15 is different from that in Proverbs 8:16; the first might, perhaps, be rendered "rulers."
and nobles, even all the judges of the earth; the word (e) for nobles signifies persons of a "free" spirit, generous, bountiful men; such as are called "benefactors", Luke 22:25; so one of the Ptolemys, king of Egypt, was called Evergetes. Such who govern, not in a cruel and rigorous manner, but with clemency and gentleness; who, as they are "free" and noble themselves, their subjects are a free people, and enjoy their privileges and liberties fully and quietly. And "the judges of the earth" are such, as sit on benches of justice, hear and try causes, and pass sentence on men; which requires great skill and knowledge, and much faithfulness and integrity, which all that perform their office aright have from Christ. How great therefore must he be! how wise and just! from whom all rulers, supreme and subordinate, have their power; prudence, generosity, and justice!By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)16. princes] “or rulers,” R.V. marg. The Heb. word is not the same as in Proverbs 8:15. The variety of words is used in order to bring all official positions within the domain of Wisdom.
of the earth] “Many ancient authorities read of righteousness,” R.V. marg. This reading, found also in Syr. Targ. Vulg. (Lange ad loc.), is due probably to the idea that the proposition was only true of just judges.Verse 16. - Princes; here sarim, "leaders." All the judges of the earth. These words stand without a conjunction, in apposition to what has preceded, by what is called asyndeton summativum (Proverbs 1:21), and gather in one view kings, princes, and leaders. Thus the Book of Wisdom, which speaks of the duties of rulers, commences by addressing of κρίνοντες τὴν γῆν, "ye that are judges of the earth." In the East judgment of causes was an integral part of a monarch's duties. The reading of the Authorized Version is supported by the Septuagint, which gives κρατοῦσι γῆς. The Vulgate, Syriac, and Chaldee road, צדק, "justice," in place of ארצ, "earth;" but this seems to have been an alteration of the original text derived from some idea of the assertion there made being too comprehensive or universal. Nowack compares Psalm 2:10 and Psalms 148:11, "Kings of the earth, and all people; princes, and all judges of the earth." The Fathers have taken these verses as spoken by God, and as asserting his supremacy and the providential ordering of human government, according to St. Paul's saying, "There is no power but of God; and the powers that be are ordained of God" (Romans 13:1; see St. Augustine, 'De Civit. Dei,' 5:19).
10 "Receive my instruction, and not silver,
And knowledge rather than choice gold!
11 For wisdom is better than corals,
And all precious jewels do not equal her.
12 I, Wisdom, inhabit prudence,
And the knowledge of right counsels is attainable by me."
Instead of ולא־כּסף influenced by קחוּ, is ואל־כסף with תּקחוּ to be supplied; besides, with most Codd. and older editions, we are to accentuate קחוּ מוּסרי with the erasure of the Makkeph. "Such negations and prohibitions," Fleischer remarks, "are to be understood comparatively: instead of acquiring silver, rather acquire wisdom. Similar is the old Arabic 'l-nâr w-l'-'l-'âr, the fire, and not the disgrace! Also among the modern Arabic proverbs collected by Burckhardt, many have this form, e.g., No. 34, alḥajamat balafas wala alḥajat alanas, Better to let oneself be cut with the axe then to beg for the favour of another" 10b is to be translated, with Jerome, Kimchi, and others: and knowledge is more precious than fine gold (נבחר, neut.: auro pretiosius); and in view of Proverbs 16:16, this construction appears to be intended. But Fleischer has quite correctly affirmed that this assertatory clause is unsuitably placed as a parallel clause over against the preceding imperative clause, and, what is yet more important, that then Proverbs 8:11 would repeat idem per idem in a tautological manner. We therefore, after the Aramaic and Greek translators, take כסף נבחר together here as well as at Proverbs 8:19, inasmuch as we carry forward the קחו: et scientiam prae auro lectissimo, which is also according to the accentuation. Equally pregnant is the מן in מחרוּץ of the passage Proverbs 3:14-15, which is here varied.
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