The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel;
Verse 1. - The proverbs of Solomon. The word which is here translated "proverbs" is the original mishle (מִשְׁלֵי), the construct case of mashal (מָשָׁל), which, again, is derived from the verb mashal (מָשַׁל), signifying
(1) "to make like," "to assimilate," and
(2) "to have dominion" (Gesenius).
The radical signification of mashal is "comparison" or "similitude," and in this sense it is applied generally to the utterances of the wise. In Numbers 23:7, 8 it is used of the prophetic predictions of Balaam; certain didactic psalms, e.g. Psalm 49:5 and Psalm 78:2, are so designated, and in Job (Job 27:1 and Job 29:1) it describes the sententious discourses of wise men. While all these come under the generic term of m'shalim, though few or no comparisons are found in them, we find the term mashal sometimes used of what are proverbs in the sense of popular sayings. Compare "Therefore it became a proverb (מָשָׁל), Is Saul also among the prophets?" (1 Samuel 10:12); and see also other instances in Ezekiel 16:4 and Ezekiel 18:2. In this sense it is also found in the collection before us. The predominant idea of the term, however, is that of comparison or similitude, and as such it is better represented by the Greek παραβολή (from παραβάλλω, "to set or place side by side"), literally, a placing beside, or comparison, than by παροιμία, "a byword," or "a trite wayside saying," though in the Greek of the synoptic Gospels παροιμία is equivalent to παραβολή. The English word "proverb" insufficiently renders the wider scope of meaning conveyed in the Hebrew mashal, and is not quite accurately rendered here, since of proverbs in our ordinary signification of that word there are comparatively few in this collection. The Hebrew word here means "maxims," "aphorisms," "wise counsels." Of Solomon. Most modern commentators (Delitzsch, Zockler, Fuerst, Stuart, Plumptre, etc.), while attributing, in a greater or less degree, the authorship of the book to Solomon, regard the insertion of his name in the title as indicating rather that he is the dominant spirit among those wise men of his age, some of whose sayings are here incorporated with his own. King of Israel, as forming the second hemistich of the verse, goes with "Solomon," and not "David." This is indicated in the Authorized Version by the position of the comma. The Arabic Version omits allusion to David, and reads, "Proverbia, nempe documenta Salomonis sapientis, qui regnavit super filios Israel." The proverbial or parabolic form of teaching was a recognized mode of instruction among the Hebrews, and in the Christian Church is recommended by St. Clement of Alexandria ('Strom.,' lib. 11, init.).
To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding;
Verse 2. - To know wisdom and instruction. In this verse we have a statement of the first general aim or object of the Proverbs. "To know" (לָדַעַת, ladaath) is somewhat indefinite in the Authorized Version, and might be more accurately rendered. "from which men may know" (De Wette, Noyes); cf. unde scias (Munsterus). The ל which is here prefixed to the infinitive, as in vers. 2, 8, and 6, gives the clause a final character, and thus points out the object which the teaching of the Proverbs has in view. The teaching is viewed from the standpoint of the learner, and hence what is indicated here is not the imparting of knowledge, but the reception or aprrspriation thereof on the part of the laemer. Schultens states that the radical meaning of דָּעַת (daath) is the reception of knowledge into one's self. Wisdom. It will be necessary to go rather fully into this word here on its first appearance in the text. The Hebrew is חָכְמָה (khokhmah). Wisdom is mentioned first, because it is the end to which all knowledge and instruction tend. The fundamental conception of the word is variously represented as either
(1) the "power of judging," derived from צּצּצּ, "to be wise," from the Arabic, "to judge" (Oesenlus); or
(2) "the fixing of a thing for cognition," derived from the Arabic equivalent of the Hebrew חָכַם, as before, which signifies "to fasten" (Zockler), or "compactness," from the same root as before, "to be firm, or closed." It is also variously defined
(1) as "insight into that upright dealing which pleases God - a knowledge of the right way which is to be followed before God, and of the wrong one which is to be shunned" (Zockler);
(2) as "piety towards God," as in Job 28:28 (Gesenius);
(3) as "the knowledge of things in their being and in the reality of their existence" (Delitzsch), The word is translated in the LXX. by σοφία, and in the Vulgate by sapientia. The Hebrew khokhmah and the Greek σοφία so far agree as philosophical terms in that the end of each is the same, viz. the striving after objective wisdom, the moral fitness of things; but the character of the former differs from that of the latter in being distinctly religious. The beginning and the end of the khokhmah, wisdom, is God (cf. ver. 7). Wisdom, then, is not the merely scientific knowledge, or moral philosophy, but knowledge κατ ἐξοχήν, i.e. religious knowledge or piety towards God; i.e. an appreciation of what God requires of us and what we conversely owe to God. "Sapientia est de divinis" (Lyra). Wisdom will, of course, carry with it the notions of knowledge and insight. Instruction. As the preceding word represents wisdom in its intellectual conception, and has rather a theoretical character, so "instruction," Hebrew, מְוּסָר (musar), represents it on its practical side, and as such is its practical complement. The Hebrew musar signifies properly "chastisement," from the root yasar (יָסַר), "to correct," or "chastise," and hence education, moral training; and hence in the LXX. it is rendered by παιδεῖα, which means both the process of education (cf. Plato, 'Repub.,' 376, E.; Arist., 'Pol.,' 8, 3) and its result as learning (Plato, 'Prob.,' 327, D.). The Vulgate has disciplina. In relation to wisdom, it is antecedent to it; i.e. to know wisdom truly we must first become acquainted with instruction, and hence it is a preparatory step to the knowledge of wisdom, though here it is stated rather objectively. The words, "wisdom and instruction," are found in exactly the same collocation in Proverbs 4:13 and Proverbs 23:23. In its strictly disciplinary sense, "instruction" occurs in Proverbs 3:11, with which comp. Hebrews 12:5. Holden takes this word as "moral discipline" in the highest sense. To perceive the words of understanding; literally, to discern the words of discernment; i.e. "to comprehend the utterances which proceed from intelligence, and give expression to it" (Delitzsch). Understanding; Hebrew, vinah (בִינָה), connected with the hiph. (לְהָבִין l'havin), properly "to distinguish," hence "to discern," of the same clause, signifies the capability of discerning the true from the false, good front bad, etc. With this agrees Cornelius a Lapide, who says, "Unde prudenter discernas inter bonum et malum, licitum et illicitum, utile et noxium, verum et falsum," and from which you are enabled to know what to do in any circumstances, and what not to do. The LXX. renders the word by φρόμησις, the Vulgate by prudentia. Φρόνησις, in Plato and Aristotle, is the virtue concerned in the government of men, manage-merit of affairs, and the like (see Plato, 'Sym.,' 209, A.; Arist.,' Eth.,' N. 6, 5 and 8), and means practical wisdom, prudence, or moral wisdom. Van Ess, Allioli, Holden, translate "prudence."
To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity;
Verse 3. - To receive the instruction of wisdom. This verse carries on the statement of the design of the Proverbs. To receive; Hebrew, לְקַחַת (lakakhath), not the same word as "to know" (לָדַּעַת), in ver. 2, though regarded as synonymous with it by Delitzsch. Its meaning is well represented by the LXX. δέξασθαι, and the Authorized Version "to receive." The Hebrew, לָקַחַת, is infinitive, and means properly "to take, or lay hold of," hence "to receive," Greek, δέχομαι, No doubt it conveys the idea of intellectual reception (cf. Proverbs 2:1). The instruction of wisdom; Hebrew, מוּסַר הַשְׂכֵּל (musar has'kel); i.e. the discipline or moral training which leads on to reason, intelligence, or wisdom (as Hitzig, Fuerst, Zockler); or discipline full of insight, discernment, or thoughtfulness (as Umbreit, Ewald, Delitzsch). The phrase does not mean the wisdom which instruction imparts. The word musar occurs here in a slightly different sense from its use in ver. 2; there it is objective, here its meaning as a medium for the attainment of wisdom is more distinctly brought out. Wisdom (haskel) is properly "thoughtfulness" (so Umbreit. Ewald, Delitzsch, Plumptre). It is strictly the infinitive absolute of שָׂכַל (sakal), "to entwine or involve," and as a substantive it stands for the thinking through of a subject, so "thoughtfulness." The LXX. renders this sentence, δέξασθαί τε στροφὰς, which St. Jerome understands as "versutias sermonum et solutiones aenigmatum" ("the cunning or craftiness of words and the explication of enigmas"). Justice, and judgment, and equity. These words seem to be the unfolding of the meaning contained in the expression, "the instruction of wisdom." Holden regards the last four words as objective genitives dependent on "instruction," but wrongly. Cornelius a Laplde states that "justice and judgment and equity" indicate the same thing in different aspects. "Justice stands for the thing itself - that which is just; judgment in respect of right reason, which says it is just; and equity in respect of its being agreeable to the Law of God." Justice; Hebrew, צֶדֶק (tsedek), from the root צָדַק (tsadak), "to be right, or straight;" in a moral sense it means "rectitude," "right," as in Isaiah 15:2 (Gesenius). The underlying idea is that of straightness. Heidenheim, quoted by Delitzsch, maintains that in tsedek the conception of the justum prevails; but the latter enlarges its meaning, and holds that it also has the idea of a mode of thought and action regulated, not by the letter of the Law, but by love, as in Isaiah 41:2; Isaiah 42:6. Plumptre thinks "righteousness" would be a better translation of the word, on the ground that the Hebrew includes the ideas of truth and beneficence. Compare with this the LXX. δικαιοσύνη. Zockler also renders "righteousness," i.e. "that which is in accord with the will and ordinances of God as Supreme Judge." In the Authorized Version, in Proverbs 2:9, where we have the same collocation of words, tsedek is translated "righteousness;" cf. Proverbs 12:17, "He who utters truth shows forth righteousness (tsedek)." Judgment; Hebrew, מְשְׁפָּט (mish'pat), from the root שָׁפַּט (shapat), "to adjust, judge," corresponds with the Hebrew in meaning; it is the delivery of a correct judgment on human actions. Compare the LXX. κρίμα κατευθύνειν. Equity; i.e. rectitude in thought and action (Delitzsch), or integrity (Zockler). This quality expresses upright demeanour or honoumble action on one's own part individually, while "judgment" has regard both to our own and the actions of others. The Hebrew, mesharim (מֵשָׁרִים), used only in the plural, is from the root יָשַׁר (yashar), "to be straight or even," and is equal to "uprightness." The plural form is reproduced in the marginal reading "equities;" comp. Psalm 17:2, "Let thine eyes beheld the things that are equal (mesharim)." The Vulgate reads aequitas and the Syriae rectitudo. The two ideas in judgment and equity appear to be expressed in the LXX. by the phrase. κρίμα κατευθύνειν.
To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.
Verse 4. - To give subtilty to the simple. In this verse and the following we are introduced to the classes of persons to whom the proverbs will be beneficial The ל with the infinitive, לָתֵת (latheth) shows that in construction this proposition is so ordinate with those in vers. 2 and 3, and not dependent as represented by ἵνα δῷ (LXX.)and iut detur (Vulgate). Subtilty; Hebrew, עַרְמָה (ar'mah), from the root עָרַם, (aram), "to be crafty or wily," properly means "nakedness" or "smoothness;" hence in a metaphorical sense it expresses "the capacity for escaping from the wiles of others" (Umbreit). We have this idea expressed as follows in Proverbs 22:3, "The prudent man (עָרוּם, arum) foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself." In the Arabic Version it is rendered by calliditas, "shrewdness," in a good sense. The Hebrew ar'mah, like the Latin calliditas, also means "craftiness," as appears in the use of the cognate adjective arum in Genesis 3:1, where we read, "The serpent was more subtle," etc. For "subtilty" the LXX. has πσνουργία, a Greek word which appears to be employed altogether in a bad sense, as "trickery," "villainy," "knavery;" but that scarcely appears to be the meaning of the Hebrew here, since the aim of the Proverbs is ethical and beneficial in the highest degree. The Vulgate astutia, the quality of the astutus, beside the bad sense of craftiness, also boars the good sense of shrewdness, sagacity, and so better represents the Hebrew. "Subtilty may turn to evil, but it also takes its place among the highest moral gifts" (Plumptre). The simple; Hebrew, פְתָאִים (ph'thaim), plural of פְתִּי (p'ti) from the root פָתַח (pathakh), "to be open," properly means the open-hearted, i.e. those who are susceptible to external impressions (Zockler), and so easily misled. The word occurs in Proverbs 7:7; Proverbs 8:5; Proverbs 9:6; Proverbs 14:18; and Proverbs 27:12. The LXX. properly renders the word ἄκακοι, "unknowing of evil." The same idea is indirectly expressed in the Vulgate parvuli, "the very young;" and the term is paraphrased in the Arabic Version, iis in quibus non est malitia ("those who are without malice"). The Hebrew here means "simple" in the sense of inexperienced. To the young man knowledge and discretion. The Hebrew naar (נַעַר) is here used representatively for "youth" (cf. LXX., παῖς νέος; Vulgate, adolescens) in general, which stands in need of the qualities here mentioned. It advances in idea beyond "the simple." Knowledge; Hebrew, דַּעַת (daath), i.e. experimental knowledge (Delitzsch); insight (Gesenius); knowledge of good and evil (Plumptre). The LXX. has αἴσθησις, which clasically means perception by the senses and also by the mind. Discretion; Hebrew, מְזִמָּה (m'zimmah), properly "thoughtfulness," and hence "circumspection" or "caution" (Zockler), or "discernment," that which sets a man on his guard and prevents him being duped by others (Plumptre). Αννοια was probably adopted by the LXX. in its primary sense as representing the act of thinking; intellectus (Vulgate), equivalent to "a discerning" (see the marginal "advisement").
A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels:
Verse 5. - A wise man will hear, and will increase learning. The change of construction in the original is reproduced in the Authorized Version, but has been rendered variously. Thus Umbreit and Elster, regarding the verb יִשְׁמַע (yish'ma) as conditional, translate, "if the wise man hear;" on the other hand, Delitzsch and Zockler take it as voluntative," let the wise man hear," ete. The principle here enunciated is again stated in Proverbs 9:9, "Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser," and finds expression under the gospel economy in the words of our Lord, "For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance" (Matthew 13:12; cf. 25:29; Mark 4:25; Luke 8:18 and Mark 14:26). Learning; Hebrew, לֶקַח (lekakh), in the sense of being transmitted or received (Gesenius, Delitzsch, Dunn). A man of understanding (LXX., ὁ νοήμων; Vulgate, intelligens) is a person of intelligence who lays himself open to be instructed. Wise counsels; Hebrew, תַּחְבֻּלות (takh'buloth). This word is derived from חֹבֶל (khevel), a ship rope, a denominative of חֹבֵל (khovel), and only occurs in the plural. It signifies those maxims of prudence by which a man may direct his course aright through life (cf. regimen, Arabic). The imagery is taken from the management of a vessel, and is reproduced in the LXX. κυβέρνησις, and the Vulgate gubernatio. "Navigationi vitam comparat" (Mariana). The word is almost exclusively confined to the Proverbs, and occurs in Proverbs 11:14; Proverbs 12:5; Proverbs 20:18; and Proverbs 24:6, usually in a good sense, though it has the meaning of "stratagem" in Proverbs 12:5. In the only other passage where it is found it is used of God's power in turning about the clouds; cf. Job 37:12, "And it [i.e. the bright cloud] is turned round about by his counsels (בְּתַחְבּוּל תָוּ, b'thakh'bulothau)." It is the practical correlative of "learning," in the first part of the verse.
To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings.
Verse 6. - To understand a proverb. This verse carries on the idea which is stated in ver. 5. The end of the wise and intelligent man's increase in learning and prudence is that he may be thus enabled to understand other proverbs. Schultens, followed by Holden, takes the verb לְהָבִין (l'havin) as a gerund, intelligendo sententias. This rendering does not represent the end, but points to the proverbs, etc., as means by which the wise generally attain to learning and prudence. And the interpretation; Hebrew, מְלִיצָה (m'litsah). It is difficult to determine the exact meaning of this word. By Gesenius it is rendered "enigma, riddle;" by Bertheau and Hitzig, "discourse requiring interpretation:" by Delitzsch, "symbol; by Havernick and Keil, "brilliant and pleasing discourse;" and by Fuerst, "figurative and involved discourse." By comparing it with the corresponding words, "dark sayings," it may be regarded as designating that which is obscure and involved in meaning; compare σκοτεινὸς λόγος (LXX.). It only occurs here and in Habakkuk 2:6, where it is rendered "taunting proverb." The marginal reading is "an eloquent speech," equivalent to facundia, "eloquence." Vatablus says that the Hebrews understood it as "mensuram et pondus verbi." The words of the wise; i.e. the utterances of the khakhamim (חֲכָמִים). This expression occurs again in Proverbs 22:17, and also in Ecclesiastes 9:19 and Ecclesiastes 12:11. In the latter they are described as "goads and as nails fastened by the ministers of assemblies" (i.e. "authors of compilations," as Mendelssohn), because they cannot fail to make an impression on everybody good or bad. The expression, as used in Proverbs 22:17, implies that other than Solomonic proverbs are included in this collection. And their dark sayings; Hebrew, וְחִידֹתָם (v'khidotham). The Hebrew khidah (חִידָה), as m'litsah (מְלִיצָה)# its parallel in the preceding hemistich, designates obscure, involved utterances. It plainly has the sense of "enigma" (Fleischer, apud Delitzsch). Compare αἰνίγματα (LXX.), and aenigmata (Vulgate), which latter is followed by the Chaldea Paraphrase and Syriac (see also Psalm 78:2, "I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter dark sayings of old"). Gesenius derives it from the root חוּד (khud), "to tie knots," and hence arrives at its meaning as an involved or twisted sententious expression, an enigma.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Verse 7-ch. 9:18. - Part II. INTRODUCTORY SECTION. The first main section of the book begins here and ends at Proverbs 9:18. It consists of a series of fifteen admonitory discourses addressed to youth by the Teacher and Wisdom personified, with the view to exhibit the excellence of wisdom, and generally to illustrate the motto, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge," or wisdom. It urges strong encouragements to virtue, and equally strong dissuasives from vice, and shows that the attainment of wisdom in its true sense is the aim of all moral effort. Verse 7. - The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. This proposition is by some commentators regarded as the motto, symbol, or device of the book (Delitzsch, Umbreit, Zockler, Plumptre). Others, following the Masoretic arrangement of the Hebrew text, consider it as forming part of the superscription (Ewald, Bertheau, Elster, Keil). As a general proposition expressing the essence of the philosophy of the Israelites, and from its relation to the rest of the contents of this book, it seems rightly to occupy a special and individual position. The proposition occurs again in the Proverbs in Proverbs 9:10, and it is met with in similar or slightly modified forms in other books which belong to the same group of sacred writings, that is, those which treat of religious philosophy - the Khokhmah; e.g. Job 28:28; Psalm 111:10; Ecclesiastes 12:13; Ecclus. 1:16, 25. With this maxim we may compare "The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom" (Proverbs 15:33). The fear of the Lord (יִרְאַת יְהוָה, yir'ath y'hovah); literally, the fear of Jehovah. The expression describes that reverential attitude or holy fear which man, when his heart is set aright, observes towards God. The original word, יִרְאַת (yir'ath) for "fear," is properly the infinitive of יָרֵא, (yare), "to fear or reverence," and as a substantive means "reverence or holy fear" (Gesenius). Servile or abject fear (as Jerome, Beda, Estius) is not to be understood, but filial fear (as Gejerus, Mercerus, Cornelius a Lapide, Cartwright), by which we fear to offend God - that fear of Jehovah which is elsewhere described as "to hate evil" (Proverbs 8:13), and in which a predominating element is love. Wardlaw remarks that the "fear of the Lord" is in invariable union with love and in invariable proportion to it. We truly fear God just in proportion as we truly love him. The fear of the Lord also carries with it the whole worship of God. It is observable that the word Jehovah (יְהוָה) is used in the Hebrew, and not Elohim (אְלֶהִים), a peculiarity which is invariably marked in the Authorized Version by small capitals. The beginning; Hebrew, רֵאשִׁית (reshith). This word has been understood in three different senses:
(1) As initium, the beginning; i.e. the initial step or starting point at which every one who wishes to follow true wisdom must begin (Gejerus, Zockler, Plumptre).
(2) As caput; i.e. the most excellent or principal part, the noblest or best wisdom. This sense is adopted in the marginal reading (comp. also Proverbs 4:7) (Holden, Trapp).
(3) As the principium (Vulgate); i.e. the origin, or basis, as in Micah 1:12, "She is the origin, or basis (reshith) of the sin of the daughter of Zion." Delitzsch regards the original, reshith, as embracing the two ideas of commencement and origin, in the same way as the Greek ἀρχὴ. Wisdom has its origin in God, and whoever fears him receives it if he prays in faith (cf. James 1:5, sqq.) (Vatablus, Mercerus, Delitzsch). That the first sense, viz. that of beginning, is to be understood here appears from the parallel passage in Proverbs 10:10, where the corresponding word is תְּחִלָּת. (t'killath), "beginning," from the root חָלַל (khalal), "to begin;" cf. also the LXX. ἀρχὴ, in this sense, and the initium of the Syriac and Arabic Versions. All previous knowledge to "the fear of the Lord" is comparative folly. He who would advance in knowledge must first be imbued with a reverence or holy fear of God. But fools despise wisdom and instruction; or, according to the inverted order of the words in the original, wisdom and instruction fools despise, the association of ideas in the three words, "knowledge," "wisdom," and "instruction," thus being more continuously sustained. This arrangement links on the two latter words with "the fear of the Lord," and so helps towards the elucidation of the sense in which "fools" is to be understood Fools; ךאוִילִים (evilim), plural of ךאוִיּל (evil), from the root אָוַל (aval), "to be perverse," here properly designates the incorrigible, as in Proverbs 27:22, and those who are unwilling to know God (Jeremiah 4:22), and hence refuse and despise wisdom and salutary discipline, those "who set at nought all his counsel, and will none of his reproof." The word is opposed to the "prudent" (Proverbs 12:16) and to the "wise" (Proverbs 10:14). Delitzsch understands it as "thick, hard, stupid," from the root aval, coalescere, incrassari. Schultens uses παχεῖς, equivalent to erassi pro stupidis, to represent the original. Dunn takes it in the same sense as "gross or dull of understanding." Fuerst, adopted by Wordsworth, regards it in the sense of having no moral stamina, from the root meaning "to be slack, weak, lax, or lazy." But none of these explanations seems, in my opinion, to coincide sufficiently with the evil and depraved activity expressed in the verb "despise," which follows, and which describes the conduct of this class. The LXX. renders the word or action by ἀσεβεῖς, equivalent to impii, "godless," "profane," and the Vulgate by stulti. Despise; בָּזוּ (bazu) is perfect, but is properly translated by the present, because the perfect here represents a condition long continued and still existing (Gesenius, § 126); cf. the Latin odi, memini, etc. The LXX. uses the future ἐξουθενήσουσιν, i.e. they will set at nought; the Vulgate, the present (despiciunt). The radical meaning is most probably contemptuous trampling under the feet (Geseuius). Wisdom and instruction (see ver. 2). The latter clause of this verse is antithetical to the former, but the antithesis is obscurely expressed. In the Authorized Version it is marked by the adversative conjunction "but," which, however, is not in the original. The LXX. has a striking interpolation in this verse between the first and second clauses, which is partly taken from Psalm 111:10 (Σύνεσις δέ ἀγαθὴ πᾶσι τοῖς ποιοῦσιν αὐτήν εὐσέβεια δὲ εἰς Θεὸν ἀρχὴ αἰσθήσεως, "And a good understanding have all they that do it: and reverence towards God is the beginning of knowledge"). Compare the Arabic Version, which has the same interpolation: Et intellectus bonus onmibus facientibus eam. Sana religio in Deum est initium prudentiae.
My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother:
Verses 8-19. - 1. First admonitory discourse. Warning against enticements to robbery and bloodshed. Verse 8. - My son, hear the instruction of thy father. The transition in this verse from what may be regarded as filial obedience towards God to filial obedience towards parents is suggestive of the moral Law. The same admonition, in a slightly altered form, occurs again in ch. 6, "My son, keep thy father's commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother" (cf. also Proverbs 4:1). My son; בְּנִבי (b'ni) from בֵּן (ben), "a son." The form of address here adopted was that in common use by teachers towards their pupils, and marks that superintending, loving, and fatherly care and interest which the former felt in and towards the latter. It occurs frequently in the introductory section (Proverbs 2:1; Proverbs 3:1, 21; Proverbs 4:10, 20; Proverbs 5:1; Proverbs 6:1; Proverbs 7:1), and reappears again towards the close (Proverbs 23:15, 19, 26; Proverbs 24:13, 21; Proverbs 27:11) in the teacher's address. The mother of Lemuel uses it (Proverbs 31:2) in the strictly parental sense. In other passages of the Old Testament the teacher, on the other hand, is represented as a "father" (Judges 17:10 Isaiah 10:12; 2 Kings 2:21). We find the same relation assumed in the New Testament, both by St. Paul (1 Corinthians 4:15; Philemon 1:10; Galatians 4:19) and by St. John (1 John 2:1; 1 John 5:2); but under the economy of the gospel it has a deeper significance than here, as pointing to the "new birth," which, being a later revelation, lies outside the scope of the moral teaching of the Old Testament dispensation. The instruction (מֶוּסַר musar); as carrying with it the sense of disciplinary education (cf. LXX., παιδεία; Vulgate, disciplina; see also ver. 2), and of the correction with which it may be enforced (cf. Proverbs 13:24; Proverbs 22:15; Proverbs 23:13, 14), the writer attributes appropriately to the father, while the milder torah, "law," he uses of the mother (Delitzsch). Father. The nature of the exhortation conveyed in this verse requires that we should understand the terms "father" and "mother" in their natural sense as designating the parents of the persons addressed, though a symbolical meaning has Been attached to them by the rabbis (see Rabbi Salomon, in loc.), "father" being understood as representing God, and "mother," the people. But the terms are more than merely figurative expressions (Stuart). Those who look upon the Proverbs as the address of Solomon to his son Rehoboam naturally take "father" as standing for the former. Naamah, in this case must be the mother (1 Kings 14:31). It is almost unnecessary to state that pious parents are presupposed, and that only that instruction and law can be meant which is not inconsistent with the higher and more perfect Law of God (Gejerus, Wardlaw). And forsake not the law of thy mother. Forsake. The radical meaning of הִּטּשׁ (tittosh) is that of "spreading," then of "scattering" (Aiken), and so the word comes to mean "forsake, reject, or neglect." The LXX. reads ἀπώσῃ, from ἀποθέω, abjicere, "to push away, reject." Cf. abjicias (Arabic). The Vulgate has dimittas, i.e. "abandon," and the Syriac, obliviscaris, i.e. "forget." The law; תּורַת (torath), construct case of תּורַה (torah), from the root יָרָה (yarah), "to teach," hence here equivalent to "a law" in the sense of that which teaches - a precept (doctrina, Jun. et Tremell., Piscat., Castal., Versions). With one exception (Proverbs 8:10), it is the term which always expresses the instruction given by Wisdom (Delitzsch). The law (torah) of the mother is that preceptive teaching which she imparts orally to her son, but torah is also used in a technical sense as lex, νόμος δέσμος, that which is laid down and established, a decretum or institutum, and designates some distinct provision or ordinance, as the law of sacrifice (Leviticus 6:7). In Joshua 1:8 we find it employed to signify the whole body of the Mosaic Law (sepher hatorah). Mother. Not inserted here as a natural expansion of the idea of the figure required by the laws of poetic parallelism (as Zockler), since this weakens the force of the passage. Mothers are mentioned because of their sedulousness in imparting instruction (Bayne).
For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck.
Verse 9. - For they (shall be) an ornament of grace unto thy head. The sentiment here expressed is put forward as an inducement to youth to observe obedience towards the instruction of the father and the law of the mother, and the meaning is that, just as in popular opinion ornaments and jewels are supposed to set off the personal form, so obedience towards parents in the ways of virtue embellishes the moral character (Bayne, Cartwright, Holden). An ornament of grace; Hebrew, לִוְיַת הֵן (liv'yath khen); literally, a wreath or garland of grace. We meet with the same expression in Proverbs 4:9, "She [i.e. wisdom] shall give to thine head an ornament of grace." The Hebrew לִוְיה (liv'yah) is derived from the root לָוָה (lavah), "to wind a roll" (Delitzsch) or "to be joined closely with" (Gesenius), and hence signifies an ornament that is twisted, and so a wreath or garland. Gejerus and Schultens translate the phrase by corolla gratiosa, i.e. "a crown full of grace," and so meaning conferring or producing grace, just as the expression, "the chastisement of our peace" (Isaiah 53:5), means the chastisement bringing or procuring our peace. So again a "precious stone," in Proverbs 17:8, margin, "a stone of grace," is one conferring gracefulness. The marginal reading, "an adding" (additamentum, Vatablus), conveys, though obscurely, the same idea; and this sense is again reproduced in the Vulgate, ut addatur gratia capiti suo ("in order that grace may be added to thy head"). The LXX. reads, στέφανος χαρίτων. And chains about thy neck. Chains; properly, necklaces; עֲנָקִים (anakim), plural of עֲנָק (anak), "a cellar or necklace;" the κλοιός χρύσεος, or "golden collar," of the LXX., and torques (i.e. twisted neckchain) of the Vulgate. There is a very apposite parallel to this verse in Proverbs 6:20, 21 (cf. Proverbs 3:3; see also Judges 8:26). The gold chain round the neck was a mark of distinction, and was conferred on Joseph by Pharaoh when investing him with authority and dignity (Genesis 41:42), and on Daniel by Belshazzar in the same way (Daniel 5:29; see Song of Solomon 4:9). The mere adornment of the person with gold and pearls, without the further adornment of the moral character with Christian graces, is deprecated both by St. Paul and St. Peter (see 1 Timothy 2:9, 10, and 1 Peter 3:3, 4). Neck, גַּרְגְּרֹת (gar'g'roth) only occurs in the plural (Gesenius). (See Proverbs 3:3, 22; Proverbs 6:21.)
My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.
Verse 10. - My son, if sinners entice thee. (As to the form of address, see ver. 8.) It is here used because the writer is passing to a warning against bad company, and hence the term is emphatic, and intended to call especial attention to what is said. It is repeated again in ver. 15, at a further stage in this address, with the same view. Sinners; חַטָּאִים (khattaim), the plural of חַטָּא (khatta), from the root חָטָּא (khata), properly "to miss the mark, to err;" cf. Greek, ἀμαρτάνω, "to sin" (Gesenius), here equivalent to "habitual, abandoned sinners," and those especially who make robbery and bloodshed a profession. Not simply peccantes, i.e. sinners as a generic designation of the human race, for "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23), but peccatores (Chaldee, Syriac, Pagin., Tigur., Versions and Vulgate). "sinners," i.e. those who sin habitually, knowingly, wilfully, and maliciously (Gejerus), or those who give themselves up to iniquity, and persuade others to follow their example (Cartwright). In the New Testament they are styled ἀμαρτωλοὶ. They are those of whom David speaks in strikingly parallel language in Psalm 26:9, "Gather not my soul with sinners (khattaim), nor my life with bloody men" (cf. Psalm 1:1). The LXX. has ἄνδρες ἀσεβεῖς (i.e. ungodly, unholy men). Entice thee; 'יְפַתּוּך (y'phattukha); the piel form, פִתָּה (pitah), of the kal פָתָּה (patah), "to open," and hence to make accessible to persuasion, akin to the Greek πειθεῖν, "to persuade." The noun פְּתִי (p'thi), is "one easily enticed or persuaded" (Gesenius). The LXX. reads μὴ πλανήσωσιν, "let them not lead thee astray." The idea is expressed in the Vulgate by lactaverint; i.e. "if sinners allure or deceive thee with fair words." The Syriac, Montan., Jun. et Tremell., Versions read pellexerint, from pellicio, "to entice." Consent thou not. (אַלאּתֹּבֵא, al-tove א). The Masoretic text here has been emended by Kennicott and De Rossi, who, on the joint authority of fifty-eight manuscripts, maintain that תֹּבֵא (tove א) should be written תּלֺאבֵא (tosves). Others read תָּבלֺא (tavos), i.e. "thou shalt not go," which, though good sense, is incorrect. אַלאּ (al) is the adverb of negation, i.q. μὴ, ne. The Hebrew תֹּבֵא (toves) is derived from אָבָה (avah). "to agree to, to be willing" (Gesenius, Delitzsch), the preformative א being omitted, and is accurately rendered by the LXX., μὴ βουληθῇς, and the Vulgate, ne acquiescas. The warning is especially brief and striking. The only answer to all enticements of evil is a decided negative (Plumptre). Compare St. Paul's advice to the Ephesians (Ephesians 5:11, "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them").
If they say, Come with us, let us lay wait for blood, let us lurk privily for the innocent without cause:
Verse 11. - If they say, Come with us, let us lay wait for blood. The teacher here puts into the mouth of the sinners, for the sake of vivid representation, the first inducement with which they seek to allure youth from the paths of rectitude, viz. privacy and concealment (Cartwright, Wardlaw). Both the verbs אָרַב (arav) and צָפַן, (tzaphan) mean "to lay in wait" (Zockler). The radical meaning of arav, from which נֶאֶרְבָה (neer'vah), "let us lay in wait" (Authorized Version) is taken, is "to knot, to weave, to intertwine." Verbs of this class are often applied to snares and craftiness (cf. the Greek δόλον ὑδαίνειν, and the Latin insidias nectere, "to weave plots, or lay snares"). Generally, arav is equivalent to "to watch in ambush" (Gesenius); cf. the Vulgate, insidiemur sanguini; i.e. "let us lay wait for blood." The LXX. paraphrases the expression, κοινώνησον αἵματος, i.e. "let us share in blood." On the other hand, צָפַן (tzaphan), from which נִצְפְנָה (nitz'p'nah), translated in the Authorized Version, "let us lurk privily," is "to hide or conceal," and intrans. "to hide one's self," or ellipt., "to hide nets, snares" (Gesenius, Holden). This sense agrees with the Vulgate abscondamus tendiculas; i.e. "let us conceal snares." Delitzsch, however, holds that no word is to be understood with this verb, and traces the radical meaning to that of restraining one's self, watching, lurking. in the sense of speculari, "to watch for," insidiari, "to lay wait for." The two verbs combine what may be termed the apparatus, the arrangement of the plot and their lurking in ambush, by which they will await their victims. For blood (לְדָם, l'dam). The context (see vers. 12 and 16), bearing as it does upon bloodshed accompanying robbery, requires that the Hebrew לְדָם (l'dam) should be understood here, as Fleischer remarks, either elliptically, for "the blood of men," as the Jewish interpreters explain, or synedochically, for the person, with especial reference to his blood being shed, as in Psalm 94:21. Vatablus, Cornelius a Lapide. and Gesenius support the latter view (cf. Micah 7:2, "They all lie in wait for blood," i.e. for bloodshed, or murder. דָם (dam) may be also taken for life in the sense that "the blood is the life" (Deuteronomy 12:23). Let us lurk privily for the innocent without cause. The relation of the phrase. "without cause" (חִנָּם, khinnam), in this sentence is a matter of lnueh dispute. It may be taken either with
(1) the verb (as in the Authorized Version, Wordsworth, Luther, Van Ess, Noyes, Zockler, Delitzsch, Hatzig, LXX., Syriac, Rashi, Ralbac), and then "lurk privily without cause" is equivalent to
(a) without having any reason for revenge and enmity (Zockler), i.e. though they have not provoked us, nor done us any injury, yet let us hurt them, in the sense of absque causa (Munsterus, Paganini Version, Piscatoris Version, Mercerus), ἀδικῶς (LXX.), inique (Arabic);
(b) with impunity, since none will avenge them in the sense of Job 9:12 (this is the view of Lowestein, but it is rejected by Delitzsch); or
(2) it may be taken with the adjective "innocent," in which case it means him that is innocent in vain; i.e. the man whose innocence will in vain protect (Zockler, Holden), who gets nothing by it (Plumptre), or, innocent in vain, since God does not vindicate hint (Cornelius a Lapide). On the analogy of 1 Samuel 19:5; 1 Samuel 25:31; Psalm 35:19; Psalm 69:4; Lamentations 3:52, it seems preferable to adopt the first connection, and to take the adverb with the verb. In the whole of the passage there is an evident allusion to an evil prevalent in the age of Solomon, viz. the presence of bands of robbers, or banditti, who disturbed the security and internal peace of the country. In the New Testament the same state of things continued, and is alluded to by our Lord in the parable of the man who fell among thieves.
Let us swallow them up alive as the grave; and whole, as those that go down into the pit:
Verse 12. - Let us swallow them up alive as the grave. A continuation of ver. 11, expanding the idea of bloodshed ending in murder, and showing the determination of the sinners to proceed to the most violent means to effect their covetous ends. The enticement here put before youth is the courage and boldness of their exploits (Wardlaw). The order of the words in the original is, "Let us swallow them up, as the grave, living," which sufficiently indicates the meaning of the passage. Alive; חַיִּים (khayyim), i.e. "the living," refers to the pronomiual suffix in נִבְלָעֵם (niv'laem), as in the Authorized Version and Zockler (cf. Psalm 55:15; Psalm 124:3). Umbreit and Hitzig are grammatically incorrect in connecting כִּשְׁאול (kish'ol) "as the grave," with "the living," and translating "like the pit (swallows) that which lives." The כִּ (ki) with a substantive, as here in kish'ol, is a preposition, said not a conjunction (see Gesenius, 'Lexicon'). It denotes a kind of resemblance, but does not introduce a coordinate sentence. The allusion is undoubtedly in the teacher's mind to the fate of Korah and his company (Numbers 16:30-33), and as in that case "the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up" in the flush of life, so here the robbers say that they will as suddenly and effectively destroy their victims, בָּלַע (dala); from which niv'laem, in a figurative sense, means "to destroy utterly" (Geseuius). The change from the singular, "the innocent" (לְנָקִי, l'naki), to the plural in "let us swallow them up," is noticeable. Like the pit (כִּשְׁאול kish'ol); literally, like Sheol, or Hades, the great subterranean cavity or world of the dead. The all-devouring and insatiable character of sheol is described in Proverbs 27:20, where the Authorized Version translates "Hell (sheol) and destruction are never full," and again in Proverbs 30:15, where it (sheol, Authorized Version, "the grave") is classed with the four things that are never satisfied. Vulgate, infernus; LXX., ᾅδης. And whole, as those that go down into the pit. The parallelism of ideas requires that the word "whole" (תְּמִימִים, t'mimim) should be understood of those physically whole (see Mercerus, Delitzsch), and not in a moral sense, as the upright (Luther, Grief, Holden, Plumptre). The word is used in an ethical signification in Proverbs 2:21. Gesenius gives it the meaning of "safe, secure." Those that go down into the pit (יורדֵי בור, yorde vor); i.e. the dead. The phrase also occurs in Psalm 28:1; Psalm 30:4; Psalm 88:4; Psalm 143:7; Isaiah 38:18). The pit (בור, vor); or, the sepulchre, the receptacle of the dead, is here synonymous with sheol. The LXX. substitutes for the latter part of the verse, Καὶ ἄρωμεν αὐτοῦ τὴν μνήμην ἐκ γῆς, "And let us remove his memory from the earth." The robbers, by drawing a comparison between themselves and Hades and the grave, which consign to silence all who are put therein, imply their own security against detection. They will so utterly destroy their victims that none will be left to tell the tale (see Musset, in loc.). This, we know, is a fancied, and at the best only a temporary, security.
We shall find all precious substance, we shall fill our houses with spoil:
Verse 13. - We shall find all precious substance. This verse carries on the proposal of the sinners one step further, and puts forward a third enticement, viz. that of' the profit of crime, or the prospect of immediate riches, before youth to join in crime. A short cut to wealth, and to the acquirement of that which costs others long years of steady application and carefulness, is a strong inducement (Wardlaw). We shall find; נִמְצָא (nim'tza), from מָצָא (matza), properly "to reach to," and "to find," in the sense of "to come upon;" cf. Latin invenio. Substance (הון, hon); i.e. substance in the sense of riches. The radical meaning of הוּן (hun), from which it is derived, is the same as in the Arabic word, "to be light, easy, to be in easy circumstances, and so to be rich" (Gesenius). In its abstract sense, hon, "substance," means ease, comfort, and concretely riches which bring about that result (see also Fleischer, as quoted by Delitzsch); cf. the LXX. κτῆσις, i.e. collectively, possessions, property. The Piscatoris Version, for "precious substance," reads divitias, "riches." Precious; יָקָר (yakar), properly " heavy," is found with הון (hon), "substance," in Proverbs 12:27 and Proverbs 24:4. The collocation of the ideas of lightness and heavineess in these two words is striking, but we need not necessarily suppose that any oxymoron is intended, as Schnltens. Such combinations occur in other languages, and reside more in the radical meanings of the words than in the mind or intention of the writer or speaker. We shall fill our houses with spoil; i.e. they promise not only finding, but full possession (Gejerus, Muffet). Spoil; שָׁלָל (shalal), from שָׁלַל (shalal), same as the Arabic verb "to draw," and hence "to strip off' (Gesenius); and equivalent to the Greek σκῦλα (LXX.), the arms stripped off a slain enemy, spoils, and the Latin spolia (Vulgate). Shalal is used generally, as here, for "prey," "booty" (Genesis 49:27; Exodus 15:9). Our gains, say the robbers, will not only be valuable, but numerous and plentiful.
Cast in thy lot among us; let us all have one purse:
Verse 14. - Cast in thy lot among us. The fourth and last enticement put forward, viz. honourable union and frank and open hearted generosity. It has distinct reference to the preceding verse, and shows how the prospect of immediate wealth is to be realized (see Delitzsch, Wardlaw). Cast in thy lot cannot mean, as Mercerus, "cast in your inheritance with us, so that we all may use it in common," though גּורָל (goral) does mean "inheritance" in the sense of that which comes to any one by lot (Judges 1:3) (Gesenius), since that would be no inducement to youth to join the robbers. Goral properly is "a little stone or pebble," κλῆρος, especially such as were used in casting lots, and so equivalent to a "lot" here - that with which the distribution was made, as in Leviticus 16:8; Nehemiah 10:34; and the custom of freebooters dividing the spoil by lot is here alluded to (Holden); comp. Psalm 22:18 in illustration of the practice of casting lots, "They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture." The sense is, "you shall equally with the others cast lots for your share of the spoil" (Zockler, Delitzsch). Let us all have one parse. Purse; כִּיס (kis), the βαλάντιον of the LXX., the marsupium of the Vulgate, is the receptacle in which money is placed for security. In Proverbs 15:11 it is used for the bag in which traders kept their weights, "the weights of the bag;" and in Proverbs 23:31 it is translated "cup," the wine cup. It here signifies the common stock, the aggregate of the gains of the robbers contributed to a common fund. The booty captured by each or any is to be thrown into one common stock, to form one purse, to be divided by lot among all the members of the band. On this community of goods among robbers, compare the Hebrew proverb, In localis, in poculis, in ira. Community of goods among the wicked carries with it community in crime, just as the community of goods among the early Christians implied community in good works and in the religious sentiments of the Christian body or Church. The Rabbi Salomon Isacides offers another explanation (which leaves the choice open to youth either to share in the spoil by lot, or to live at the expense of a common fund, as he may prefer): "Si voles, nobiscum spolia partieris, si etiam magis placebit, sociali communique marsupio nobiscum vives" - "If thou wilt, thou shalt share with us the booty; ay, if it like thee more, thou halt live with us on a confederate and common purse" (see Cornelius a Lapide).
My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path:
Verse 15. - My son, walk not thou in the way with them. The admonitory strain of ver. 10 is again resumed, and in vers. 16-19 the teacher states the reasons which should dissuade youth from listening to the temptations of sinners. My son. The recurrence of these words for the third time in this address marks the affectionate interest, the loving solicitude, in which the admonition is addressed. Walk not thou. Immediate and entire abandonment is counselled. The warning is practically a repetition of ver. 10, and is given again in Proverbs 4:14, "Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men." Way; דֶרֶך (derek) means, figuratively, the way of living and acting (Gesenius). "Mores et consuetudines" (Bayne); cf. Proverbs 12:15, "the fool's way;" 22:25; and Psalm 1:1. The meaning is "associate not with them, have no dealings whatever with them." Refrain thy foot from their path; i.e. keep back thy foot, or make not one step in compliance, resist the very first solicitations to evil. Compare the legal maxim, Initiis obsta. Refrain; מְגַע (m'na) is from מָנַע (mana), "to keep back, restrain;' LXX., ἔκκινον (cf. Psalm 119:101, "I have refrained my feet from every evil way;" Jeremiah 14:10, "Thus have they loved to wander, they have not refrained their feet"). Restraining the foot carries with it indirectly the natural inclination or propensity of the heart, even of the good, towards evil (Cartwright). Foot (רֶגֶל regel) is, of course, used metaphorically, and means less the member of the body than the idea suggested by it; hence the use of the singular (Gejerus, Delitzsch). Bayne remarks that the Hebrews understood this passage as meaning "neither in public nor private life have any dealings with sinners." Path (נָתִיב, nathiv) is a beaten path, a pathway, a byway; from the unused root נָתַב (nathav), "to tread, trample;" and hence, while "way" may mean the great public high road, "path" may stand for the bypath, less frequented or public. The same distinction probably occurs in Psalm 25:4, "Show me thy ways, O Lord; and teach me thy paths."
For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood.
Verse 16. - For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood. This is the first dissuasive urged to enforce the warning against evil companionship, as showing the extremes to which entering upon the ways of the wicked lead ultimately. At once the youth who listens will be hurried along impetuously to the two crimes of robbery and murder, which God has expressly forbidden in the eighth and sixth commandments respectively of the moral code. Evil (רַע, ra) is "wickedness," τὸ κακόν, generally, but here more specifically highway robbery, latrocinism (Cornelius a Lapide), as appears from vers. 11-13, where also murder, the laying in wait for blood, is proposed. The Rabbis Salomon and Salazar understand the evil to refer to the evil or destruction which sinners bring upon themselves, and the shedding of blood to the fact that they lay themselves open to have their own blond shed by judicial process (see also Holden). The former explanation seems preferable to this, as putting a higher law than that of self-preservation before youth. The fear of judges who can condemn to death is notbing comparatively to the fear of him "who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell." This verse is wanting in the Vatican LXX., and Arabic, and hence Hitzig has concluded that it is an interpolation made from Isaiah 59:7, but upon insufficient evidence, as it is found in the Alexandrian LXX., Chaldea Paraphrase, Vulgate, and Syriac Versions, all which follow the Hebrew text. The latter part of the verse is quoted by St. Paul in Romans 3:15.
Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird.
Verse 17. - Surely in vain the net is spread in the face of any bird. The teacher here advances a second reason in support of his warning in ver. 15, under the form of a proverb in its strict sense. It is based on the ill-advised audacity of sinners in flying in the face of God's judgments. In vain (חִנָּם khinnam), see ver. 11, may be taken in two senses.
(1) I.e. to no purpose, gratis, frustra (Vulgate, Chaldee Paraphrase, Arabic). The meaning of the proverb here used then is, "to no purpose is the net spread before birds," i.e. though they see the net spread before them, they nevertheless fly into it (romp. Proverbs 7:23, "As a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life"). So sinners, when they are plotting for others, plunge into their own destruction with their eyes open. Therefore do not associate with them, do not imitate their crass folly, be warned by their example, or you will share their fate. This view is supported by the LXX. reading, Οὐ γὰρ ἀδίκως ἐκτείνεται δίκτυα πτερωτοῖς, "For not unreasonably is the net spread before birds;" i.e. they fall into the snare (see Luther, Patrick, Umbreit, Ewatd, Hitzig, Zockler, Plumptre).
(2) Others, as Delitzsch, Ziegler, Beda, Doderlein, Bertheau, Wardlaw, take khinnam in a different sense, as indicating the escape of the birds - the birds see the snare and fly away, and so in vain the net is spread in their sight. This explanation is in agreement with Ovid's statement, "Quae nimis apparent retia vitat avis." The moral motive put before youth in this case is the aggravation of his guilt if he listens to the enticements of sinners. The teacher seems to say, "Imitate the birds, flee from temptation; if you listen to sinners, you will sin with your eyes open." Is spread; מְזֹרָה (m zorah), expansum, not conspersum est, i.e. besprinkled or strewn with corn as a bait, as Rashi. M'zorah is the participle passive of pual, זֹרָה (zorah), "to be strewn," from kal זָרָה (zarah). "to scatter, or disperse" (Gesenius), and means expansum, because when a net is scattered or dispersed it is spread out (see Delitzsch). Of any bird (כָּל־בַּעַל כָּנָפ khal-baal khanaph); literally, of every possessor of a wing, or, as margin, of everthing that hath a wing, i.e. of every bird. Compare the same expression in Ecclesiastes 10:20, בַּעַל חַכְּנָפַיִם (baal hach naphayim); i.e. "that which hath wings" (Authorized Version).
And they lay wait for their own blood; they lurk privily for their own lives.
Verse 18. - And they lay wait for their own blood, etc. The third reason or argument why the teacher's warning should be followed, drawn from the destruction which overtakes the sinners themselves. "Lay wait," and "lurk privily," as in ver. 11, from which this verse is evidently borrowed. They propose, as they say, to lay wait for the blood of others; but it is, says the teacher, for their own blood. לְדָמָם (l'dhammam), contra sanguinem suum; they lurk privily. as they say, for the innocent, but in reality it is for their own lives; לְנַפְשֹׁתָם (l'naph'shotham); contra animus suas (Vulgate); or, as the LXX. puts it, Αὐτοὶ γὰρ οἱ φόνον μετέχοντες θησαυρίζουσιν ἑαυτοῖς κατὰ, "For they who take part in murder treasure up evils for themselves;" that is, they am bringing a heavier and surer destruction upon themselves than they can ever inflict upon others (Wardlaw). The LXX. adds, at the close of the verse, Ἡ δὲ καταστροφὴ ἀνδρῶν παρανόμων κακή, "And the overthrowing or destruction of transgressors is wrest, or evil." The Arabic Version has a similar addition.
So are the ways of every one that is greedy of gain; which taketh away the life of the owners thereof.
Verse 19. - So am the ways of every one that is greedy of gain. The epiphonema or moral of the preceding address. So are the ways, or such is the lot (as Delitzsch), or such are the paths (as Zockler), i.e. so deceitful, so ruinous, are the ways. כֵּן (chen,) is here used as a qualitative adverb. Ways; אָרְחות (ar'khoth), the plural of לֺארַח (orakh), a poet. word, equivalent in the first instance to "way," i.q. דֶרֶך (derekh), and metaphorically applied to any one's ways, his manner of life and its result, and hence lot, as in Job 8:12, and hence the expression coven the three preceding verses. That is greedy of gain (בֹצֵעַ בָּצַע, botsea batsa); literally, concupiscentis concupiscentium lucri; i.e. eagerly longing after gain; he who greedily desires riches (avari, Vulgate). Gain; batsa in pause, from בֶּצַע. (betsa), which takes its meaning from the verb בָּצַע (batsa), "to out in pieces, to break," and hence means properly that which is cut or broken off and taken by any one for himself, and so unjust gain - anything whatever fraudulently acquired, as in Proverbs 28:16, where it is translated "covetousness" (Authorized Version); cf. Isaiah 33:15; Proverbs 15:27. The idea of greed and covetousness enters largely into the word. Which taketh away the life of the owners thereof. The pronoun "which" does not occur in the original. The nominative to "taketh away" (יִקָּת, yikkath) is "gain;" the "unjust gain." (betsa) takes away the life of its owners, i.e. of those who are under its power. Owners thereof (בְּעָלָיו, b'alayo) does not necessarily imply that they are in actual possession of the unjust gain, but rather refers to the influence which the lust for gain exercises over them. The expression in this second hemistich does not mean that the rapacious take the life of their comrades who possess the gain, as Rabbi Salomon; nor as the Vulgate, "the ways of the avaricious man take away the lives of those who possess them." For the phrase, "taketh away the life," as importing a violent taking away, cf. Psalm 31:13; 1 Kings 19:10. The sentiment of the verse is well expressed in 1 Timothy 6:10, "For the love of money is the root of all evil; which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows."
Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets:
Verses 20-33. - 2. Second admonitory discourse. Address of Wisdom personified, exhibing the folly of those who wilfully reject, and the security of those who hearken to, her counsels. The sacred writer, in this section, as also in ch. 8, uses the rhetorical figure of prosopopceia, or impersonation. Wisdom is represented as speaking and as addressing the simple, scorners, and fools. The address itself is one of the noblest specimens of sacred eloquence, expressing in rapid succession the strongest phases of feeling - pathetic solicitude with abundant promise, indignant scorn at the rejection of her appeal, the judicial severity of offended majesty upon offenders, and lastly the judicial complacency which delights in mercy towards the obedient. The imagery in part is taken from the forces of nature in their irresistible and overwhelming violence and destructive potency. Verse 20. - Wisdom crieth without. Wisdom. The Hebrew word (khochmoth) here used to designate Wisdom seems to be an abstract derivation from the ordinary khochmah. The form is peculiar to the Proverbs and Psalms, in the former occurring four times (Proverbs 1:22; Proverbs 9:1; Proverbs 14:1; Proverbs 24:7), and in the latter twice only (viz. Psalm 49:4; Psalm 78:15). As in Proverbs 9:1 and Proverbs 24:7, it is a pluralis excellentiae of the feminine gender, a variety of the pluralis extensivus, as Bottcher prefers to denominate it. The feminine form may he determined by the general law which associates purity and serenity with womanhood (Plumptre). The idea of plurality, however, is not that of extension, but of comprehension, i.e. it is not so much all kinds of wisdom which is presented to us, as all the varieties under which wisdom par excellence may be regarded and is comprehended. The plural form of the word denotes the highest character or excellence in which wisdom can be conceived; or, as the marginal reading expresses it, wisdoms, i.e. excellent wisdom. Other instances of the pluralis excellentiae are met with in Holy Writ, e.g. Elohim, God, i.e. "God of Gods," either from the polytheistic view, or from the monotheistic view as expressive of God's might in manifestation, passim; k'doshim, "the Holy (God)," Proverbs 9:10; Proverbs 30:3; adonim, for adon "lord" (Gesenius, 'Gram.,' § 108. 2 b). In the conception of Wisdom here presented to us in the text we have the germ of an idea which, on the principles of expansion, developed subsequently in the consciousness of the Christian Church into a definite identification of Wisdom with the Second Person of the blessed Trinity. There is a striking parallel to this passage in Luke 11:49, where Christ speaks of himself as ἡ Σοφία τοῦ Θεοῦ, "the Wisdom of God," that shall send prophets and apostles into the world, and thereby identifies himself with Wisdom (cf. this with vers. 20, 21; ch. 7.). Again, a striking similarity is observable between the teaching of Divine Wisdom and that of the Incarnate Word, as much in their promises as in their threats and warnings. But it is difficult to determine with accuracy to what extent the Messianic import of the personification was present to the consciousness of the sacred writers, and whether Wisdom as here presented to us is simply a poetic and abstract personification or a distinct by-postatizing of the Word. Dorner ('Pers. of Christ,' Introd., p. 16), with reference to ch. 8:22, etc., says that though Wisdom is introduced speaking as a personality distinct from God, still the passage does not lead clearly to an hypostatizing of the Khochmah. Dollinger ('Heidenthum und Judenthum,' bk. 10. pt. 3. sec. 2 a, and Proverbs 8:22, etc.) maintains that Wisdom is "the personified idea of the mind of God in creation," rather than the presence of "a distinct hypostasis." Lucke (see references in Liddon, 'Bampton Lects.') holds that in Proverbs Wisdom is merely a personification It is clear that whatever is predicated of Wisdom in ch. 8. must be also predicated of her in the passage before us, in reference either to the hypostatic or opposite view. On the other hand, a large number of expositors, dating from the earliest periods of the Christian Church down to the present time, see in Wisdom a distinct hypostasis, or person - the Lord Jesus Christ. A fuller investigation of this subject will be seen in our remarks on ch. 8. For the present we observe that Wisdom is essentially Divine. Her authority, her utterances, whether of promise, threat, scorn, or vengeance, are the authority, the utterances, of God. Crieth; rather, crieth loudly, or aloud. The Hebrew verb ranan (רָנַן) is "to vibrate the voice," and conveys the idea of the clear loud ringing tones with which proclamations were made; cf. the Vulgate praedicare, and the Arabic clamitate, "to cry with a loud voice." Fleischer remarks that the Arabic rannan, which is allied to the Hebrew verb, is used of a speaker who has a clear piercing voice. In such a way does Wisdom cry without when making her address. She elevates her voice that all may hear. The verb in the original is tazonnah, the feminine singular of ranan, and predicate to "Wisdom," according to the rule that verbs in the singular are construed with plural nouns having a singular signification, especially the pluralis excellentiae (see Gesenius, 'Gram.,' § 146. 2). Without. בַּהוּצ (bakhuts) is here used adverbially, as in Genesis 9:22, and signifies "in the open places," i.e. abroad, without, as opposed to the space within the walls. The writer here begins his enumeration of the five places wherein Wisdom preaches, viz.
(2) in the streets,
(3) in chief places of concourse,
(4) in the opening of the gates,
(5) in the city, all of which are public, and thus indicate the publicity of her announcements (with those comp. Proverbs 8:1; Proverbs 9:3). She uttereth her voice; or, causeth her voice to be beard; represented in the Vulgate by dat vocem suam. and in the LXX. by παῥῤησίαν ἄγει (equivalent to "she observes free-spokenness"). The instrumentality which Wisdom uses in her public preaching are the prophets and teachers (Ecclus. 24:33; Zockler, Vatablus, Mercerus). In the streets; literally, in the wide spares; the Hebrew, רחֹבות (r'khovoth), being, as in Genesis 26:22, "wide spaces," and corresponding to the πλατεία of the LXX.; plateae, Vulgate. The same places are indicated in Luke 14:21, where, in the parable of the marriage supper, the servants are bidden to go out into the streets (πλατείαι) and lanes of the city. The word is connected with the adjective rakhav (רָחַב), "broad," "wide;" and in 2 Chronicles 32:6 is used to designate the ample space at the gates of Oriental cities (Gesenius), though here it seems to refer rather to "squares," large open spaces, not uncommon in Oriental cities - I saw one such at Aden - or it may refer to the broad crowded thoroughfares. The Syriac reading, in compitis, gives a different sense, as compitum, equivalent to "crossroads."
She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, saying,
Verse 21. - She crieth in the chief place of concourse. The chief place is literally the head (רלֺאשׁ, rosh); here used figuratively for the place where streets or roads branch off in different directions, as in Ezekiel 16:25, "the beginning of streets," or "the head of the way;" comp. Genesis 2:10, where it is used of the point at which the four streams branched off; and the corresponding expression in Proverbs 8:2, "She staudeth in the top (rosh) of high places." Of concourse; הֹמִיּות (homiyyoth) is the plural of the adjective, הומִי (homi): literally, "those who are making a noise," or "the tumultuous;" here, as in Isaiah 22:2 and 1 Kings 1:41, used substantively for "boisterous, noisy places" (compare the Vulgate, in capite turbaram). The variation in the LXX., "on high walls," or "on the tops of the walls" (ἐπ᾿ ἄκρων δὲ τειχέων, super summos muros), which is adopted also in the Chaldee, Syriac, and Arabic Versions, arises from reading חומות (khomoth), "walls," for the Masoretic homiyyoth. In the openings of the gates. The opening (פֶתַח pethakh) is the opening of the gate, or the entrance by the gate (שַׁעַר, shaar), i.e. of the city, the introitus portae of the Chaldee and Syriac Versions. The openings of the gates would be thronged, as courts of justice were held at the gates (Deuteronomy 16:18; 2 Samuel 15:2); business was carried on there, as the selling and redemption of land (Genesis 23:10-16; Ruth 4:1); markets were also held there (2 Kings 7:1-18); and the same localities were used for the councils of the state and conferences (Genesis 34:20; 2 Samuel 3:27; 2 Chronicles 18:9; Jeremiah 17:19; comp. Proverbs 31:33, "Her husband is known in the gates"). In place of the expression, "in the openings of the gates," the LXX. reads, Ἐπὶ δὲ πύλαις δυναστῶν παρεδρεύει, "And at the gates of the mighty she sits" - an interpolation which only partially represents the sense of the original, and which is adopted in the Arabic. In the next clause, for "in the city" is substituted ἐπὶ δὲ πύλαις πόλεως, "at the gates of the city." The Vulgate combines the separate clauses of the original in one - in foribus portarum urbis, "in the entrances and openings of the gates of the city." In the city (בָעִיר, bair); i.e. in the city itself (so Aben Ezra, ap. Gejerus), as opposed to the entrance by the gates, and so used antithetically (as Umbreit, Bertheau, Hitzig). The publicity of the teaching of Wisdom, observable in the places she selects for that purpose, also marked the public ministry of our Lord and his disciples, and finds an illustration in his command, "What ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops" (Matthew 10:27); i.e. give it all the publicity possible. The spirit of Wisdom, like that of Christianity, is aggressive (see Wardlaw, 'Lectures on Proverbs 4,' vol. 1. pp. 40, 41).
How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge?
Verse 22. - How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? etc. From this verse to the end of the chapter the sacred writer puts before us the words of Wisdom herself. The discourse begins in the same way as in Psalm 4:2 (Zockler), and the classification of the persons addressed - the simple, the scorners, and the sinners - closely resembles that of Psalm 1:1. In the order there is a progression from the least to the most culpable. The simple (פְתָיִם, p'thayim), as in ver. 4, those who are indifferent through thoughtlessness and inconsiderateness, and are thereby open to evil. The scorners (לֵצֵים, letsim); or, mockers, the same as the (לָצון, latson) "scornful men" of Proverbs 29:8, derived from the root לּוּצ (luts), "to deride, mock," probably by imitating the voice in derision. The mockers are those who hold all things in derision, both human and Divine, who contemn God's admonitions, and treat with ridicule both threatenings and promises alike. Fools; כְסִילִים (ch'silim), a different word from the evilim of ver. 7, but signifying much the same, i.e. the obdurate, the hardened, stolidi, those who walk after the sight of their eyes and the imagination of their hearts - a class not ignorant of knowledge, but hating it because of the restraint it puts them under. The word occurs in Proverbs 17:10, in the sense of the incorrigible; in Proverbs 26:3, 4 as a term of the greatest contempt. The enallage, or interchange of tenses in the original - the verbs "love" and "hate" being future, and "delight" being perfect - is not reproducible in English. The perfect is used interchangeably with the future where the action or state is represented as first coming to pass or in progress, and, as Zockler remarks, may be inchoative, and so be rendered "become fond of," instead of "be fond of." But it appears to represent not so much a state or action first coming to pass as in progress (see Geseuius, 'Gram.,' § 126, 3). Bottcher (§ 948, 2) translates it by concupiverint, i.e. "How long shall ye have delighted in scorning?" The futures express "love" and "hate" as habitual sentiments (Delitzsch). It is to be noted that the language of Wisdom, in vers. 22 and 23, is expressive of the most tender and earnest solicitude.
Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.
Verse 23. - Turn you at my reproof. A call is here made to repentance. The meaning seems to be "return to my reproof," i.e. place yourselves under my reproof (as Gejerus, Delitzsch), the לְ Being represented by ad, as in the Vulgate: convertimini ad correptionem meam. It is susceptible, however, of a different reading, i.e. "in consequence of, or because of (propter), my reproof," the prefix לְ being found in Numbers 16:34, "They fled at the cry," i.e. because of the cry. Reproof (תֶוכַחַת thochakhath); i.e. rebuke, or correction, by words. The LXX. ἔλεγχος conveys the argumentative conviction which will be present in the reproof. The word occurs again in vers. 23, 25, and 30 of this chapter, and also in Proverbs 3:11; Proverbs 5:12; Proverbs 6:23; Proverbs 27:5; Proverbs 29:15. Behold, I will pour out my Spirit unto you. The promise consequent upon, and the encouragement to, repentance. The promise is conditioned - if those addressed will heed the reproof of Wisdom, then she will pour forth her Spirit upon them, and cause them to know her words The verb hibbia (הִבִּיעַ), "to stream forth, or gush out," is here used figuratively. The outflow of the Spirit of Wisdom will be like the abundant and continuous gushing forth of water from the spring or fountain. The verb unites in it the figures of abundant fulness and refreshing invigoration (Umbreit, Elster); comp. Proverbs 15:2, 28; Psalm 59:7; Psalm 119:171; Ecclesiastes 10:1. We have here striking anticipation of the prophecy of Joel (Joel 2:28). The Spirit is that of Wisdom "and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and godly strength, the Spirit of knowledge and true godliness" (see Confirmation Office). The explanation of Beda, that it signifies her anger, is clearly inadmissible. I will make known my words unto you; i.e. as the LXX., "I will teach you my word" (διδάξω), or as the Vulgate "show" (ostendam), "expound, or make clear." My words (d'vari); i.e. precepts, or doctrine, or secrets. An intimate relation subsists between the "Spirit" of Wisdom and her "words," with which it is parallel. The former is the illuminating, invigorating principle which infuses life and power into the "words" of Wisdom, which she has already given, and which are already in our possession. Wisdom stands in the same relation to her words as the Divine Logos does to his utterances, into which he infuses himself. "It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life" (John 6:63. See Delitzsch, Wardlaw, in loc.).
Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded;
Verse 24. - Because I have called, and ye refused. A pause may be imagined, and seems to be implied, between this and the preceding verses (22 and 23), when the address passes into a new phase - from that of invitation and promise to that of judgment and stern denunciation (vers. 24-27). In the subsection the antecedent clauses are vers. 24, 25, introduced by the conjunction "because" (יַעַן, yaan; quia, Vulgate), which expresses the reason or cause for the conclusion in vers. 26 and 27, introduced by "I also," to which the "because" answers. A similar grammatical construction and judgment is to be found in Isaiah: "I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I Spake, they did not hear" (Isaiah 66:4; see also Jeremiah 7:13). Refused; i.e. refused to hearken, as signified in the LXX. ὑπακούσατε. I have stretched out my hand. A forensic gesture to arrest attention. The expression is equivalent to "I have spread out my hands" (Isaiah 65:2); cf. "Then Paul stretched forth the hand (ἐκτείνας τὴν χεῖρα)" (Acts 26:1). Regarded (מַקְשִׁיב, mak'shiv). The original idea of the verb קַשַׁב (kashav), used here, is that of erecting or pricking up the ear, like the Latin arrigere, sc. aures, in Plaut., 'Rud.,' 5, 2, 6; and cf. "arrectisque auribus adstant" (Virgil, 'AEneid,' 1:153).
But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof:
Verse 25. - Ye have set at nought; rather, rejected (Umbreit, Ewald, et alii). The Authorized Version rendering here is equivocal, inasmuch as it is capable of meaning "despised," whereas פְרַע (para) signifies "to let loose," "to let go" (cf. the German fahren lassen), and hence "to overlook, or reject." Its force is fairly represented in the LXX., Ἀκύρους ἐποιεῖτε ἐμὰς βουλὰς, "Ye rendered my counsel of no effect." Counsel (עֵצָה etsah); i.e. advice, in the sense of recommendations for doing good, as opposed to reproofs for the avoidance of evil (see vers. 23 and 30). Would none. The same verb, אַבַה (avah), occurs in vers. 10 and 30, hence used with the negative לא (lo) in the sense of ἀπειθεῖν (LXX.), "to refuse compliance with," as in AEschylus, 'Agam.,' 1049.
I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh;
Verse 26. - I also will laugh at your calamity; or, more accurately, in the time of your calamity; as in the Vulgate, in interitu vestro ridebo. The preposition prefixed to the substantive b'eyd'chem (בְּאֵידְכֵם) refers to the time, or state, or condition (Gesenius, 'Gram.,' 154, 3). In the time of their calamity wisdom will exult or rejoice. The LXX., Τῇ ὑμετέρᾳ ἀπλείᾳ ἐπιγελάσομαι, however, favours the rendering of the Authorized Version. Calamity (אֵיד, eyd) is heavy overwhelming misfortune, that which oppresses and crushes its victims. The terrific nature of the punishment of the wicked is marked by a succession of terms all of terrible import - calamity, fear, desolation, destruction, distress, and anguish (vers. 26, 27). When these come upon them, then Wisdom will laugh and have them in derision. The verbs "laugh" (שָׂחַק, sakhak) and "mock" (גאאל לָעַג) are the same as in Psalm 2:4, where they are rendered "to mock" and "have in derision." When your fear cometh; i.e. has actually arrived. Fear (פַחַד pakhad); here used metonymically for that which causes the fear or terror (id, quod timebatis, Vulgate). There is a similar use of φόβος in 1 Peter 3:14.
When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you.
Verse 27. - When your fear cometh as desolation. The imagery in this verse is borrowed from nature - from the tempest and whirlwind, which, in their impetuous fury, involve all in irretrievable ruin. The two leading ideas here in the writer's mind are calamity and fear. These - their fear, that which causes their fear; and their destruction, i.e. calamity - both representing Wisdom's, and so God's, judgment, will come on sinners as a wasting tempest and sweeping hurricane. The terror and devastation caused by these latter as they pass over the face of nature are employed to depict the alarm and ruin of sinners. Desolation; שַׁאֲוָה (shaavah) is a wasting, crashing tempest (cf. Proverbs 3:25; Zephaniah 1:15), derived from שָׁאַה (shaah). "to make a crash," as of a house falling. The Vulgate reads, repentura calamitas; the LXX., ἄφνω θόρυβος; both bringing out the idea of suddenness, and the latter that of the uproar of the tempest. The Khetib, or traditional text of the manuscripts (כְשַׁאֲוָה), is equivalent to the Keri, or emended reading (כְשׁואָה), and both appear to have the same root meaning. Destruction (אֵיד, eyd); the same as "calamity ' in the preceding verse. Whirlwind; סוּפָה (suphah), from the root סוּפ (suph), "to snatch, or carry away," means a whirlwind carrying everything before it - the καταγίς of the LXX., or hurricane, as in Arist., 'Mund.,' 4, 16. Distress and anguish (צָרָה וְצוּקָה, tsarah v'tzukah). A corresponding alliteration occurs in Isaiah 30:6 and Zephaniah 1:15. The root signification of the former is that of compression, reproduced in the LXX. θλίψις, and the Vulgate tribulatio; that of the latter is narrowness. LXX., πολιορκία, "a beleaguering;" VUlgate, angustga. The LXX. adds, at the close of this verse, η} ὅταν ἔρχηται ὑμῖν ὅλεθρος as explanatory.
Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me:
Verse 28. - The phase which the address now enters upon continues to the thirty-first verse. The change in this verse from the second to the third person is striking. It implies that Wisdom thinks fools no longer worthy of being addressed personally - "Quasi stultos indignos censunt ulteriori alloquio" (Gejerus and Michaelis). The declaration is the embodiment of the laughter and scorn of ver. 26. The three verbs, "they shall call," "they shall seek," "they shall find," occur in uncommon and emphatic forms in the original. They are some out of the few instances where the future terminations are inserted fully before the pronominal suffix. I will not answer. The distress and anguish consequent upon their calamity and fear lead them to pray, but there will be no answer nor heed given to their cry. They are not heard, because they do not cry rightly nor in the time of grace (Lapide). See the striking parallel to the tenor of this passage in Luke 13:24-28. They shall seek me early; i.e. diligently. The verb שָׁחַר (shakhar) is the denominative from the substantive שַׁחַר (shakar), "the dawn, morning," and signifies to go out and seek something in the obscurity of the morning twilight (Delitzsch, Zockler), and hence indicates diligence and earnestness in the search. Gesenius gives the same derivation, but connects it with the dawn in the sense of the light breaking forth, and thus, as it were, seeking (see also Proverbs 2:27; 7:15; 8:17; Hosea 5:15).
For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD:
Verses 29 and 30 belong to ver. 28, and are not the antecedent clauses to ver. 31, as Zochler remarks. They recapitulate the charges already made against the sinners in vers. 22 and 25, and now set them forth as the ground or reason why Wisdom, on her part, turns a deaf ear to their entreatries. Wisdom will disregard the n because they have previously disregatded her. The connection is denoted in the LXX. by γὰρ, for the Hebrew takbath ki, equivalent to "because," and in the Authorized Version by the punctuation. Did not choose the fear of the Lord. The verb "to choose" (בָּחַר, bakhar) combines in itself the meanings of eligere and diligere (Fleischer), and therefore signifies here not only choice of, but also the fuller sense of love for, the fear of the Lord. They despised; i.e. rejected the reproof with scorn or derision, sneered or turned up their noses at it (μυκτηρίζειν, LXX.), disparaged it (detrahere, Vulgate), or, more strongly, as Gejerus says, execrated it. Their rejection of reproof is stigmatized in stronger terms than in ver. 25.
They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof.
Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices.
Verse 31. - Therefore they shall eat, etc. A further enlargement of the declaration of Wisdom, showing that their calamity is the result of their own ways. The futures are resumed in the original from ver. 28. The word "therefore" does not occur, but it is met with in the LXX., τοιγαροῦν; in the Vulgate, igitur; and in the Syriac, ideo. The truth here expressed is accordant with the tenor of the teaching of the Scripture (comp. Proverbs 14:14; Proverbs 22:8; Job 4:8; Isaiah 3:10; Galatians 6:7, 8), and with our daily experience of God's moral government of the world (see Butler, 'Analogy,' part 1, ch. 2, ad fin.). This sentiment of retributive punishment also found expression in Terence, "Tute hoc intristi, tibi omne est edendum" ('Phorm.,' 2. 1. 4). When we are punished, the blameworthiness lies not with God, but with us sinners (Wardlaw). They shall be filled; rather, satiated, or surfeited; saturabuntur (Vulgate). The verb שָׁבַע (shava) means not only "to fill," but "to be satiated or cloyed" (cf. Proverbs 14:14; Proverbs 25:16; Psalm 88:3; Psalm 123:4). Michaelis remarks on this word, "Ad nauseam implebuntur et comedent, ita ut consiliorum suorum vehementer tandem, sed nimis sero, ipsos poeniteat" (Michaelis, 'Notre Uberiores in Prov.'), "They shall be filled and eat ad nauseam, so that at length, but too late, they shall vehemently repent them of their own counsels." Counsels (מועֵצות, moetsoth); i.e. ungodly counsels, or evil devices. The word only occurs in the plural.
For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them.
Verse 32. - Wisdom now brings her address to a close by contrasting the destruction and ruin of the foolish, and the security of those who listen to her voice. The turning away; מְשׁוּבָה (m'shuvah), from שׁוּב(shuv), "to turn about, or to return" (which is used metaphorically of conversion), here means defection, turning away; and hence apostasy (aversio Vulgate, Chaldee Paraphrase, Syriac; perversitio, Cast. Version); the "backsliding" of Jeremiah 8:5; Hosea 11:7. Abea Ezra understands it to signify "ease," as in the marginal reading; but there seems no warrant for taking the word in that sense. The LXX. renders the passage quite differently, Ἀνθ ῶν γὰρ ἠδίκουν νηπίους φονευθησονταί "For because they wronged the young, they shall be slain;" so also the Arabic. The turning away is from the warnings and invitations of Wisdom, and implies rebelliousness against God. The prosperity. The word in the original (שַׁלְוָה, shal'vah) is here used in a bad sense, and means "carelessness, indolence," that carnal security which is induced by prosperity and worldly success, as in Jeremiah 22:21, "I spoke to thee in thy prosperity (security), but thou saidst, I will not hear" (cf. Ezekiel 16:49, where it is translated "idleness." So Dathe translates, "Incuria ignavorum eos perdit." The Chaldee Paraphrase and Syriac Versions read "error." It occurs in a good sense as "tranquillity," "security," in Proverbs 17:1 and Psalm 122:7. The derivation of the word is from שָׁלָה (shalah). "to be tranquil, to be safe, secure." Marines remarks that it is more difficult to bear prosperity than adversity, because we endure adversity, we are corrupted by prosperity, and prosperity or ease makes fools mad. The false security of the prosperous is illustrated by our Lord in his parable of the rich fool (Luke 12:16-21). The LXX. differs again from the Hebrew in the second clause of this verse, καὶ ἐξετασμός ἀσεβεῖς ὀλεῖ; i.e. the carefully considered judgment of God concerning them shall destroy them. The LXX, is followed by the Arabia. Them; i.e. the fools themselves, and not other sinners, as Ben Ezra says, though the apparent security of fools, the impunity with which they seem to go on in their wickedness, and the success of their plans, may lead others to destruction.
But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.
Verse 33. - Hearkeneth unto me. Wisdom, in closing her address, draws a beautiful picture of the real security and peace of the righteous, as contrasted with the false security of the wicked. As on the one side rejection of her counsels, her warnings, and invitations, carries with it punishment and irretrievable ruin; so, on the other, the hearkening to her words, and loving obedience, are rewarded by her with the choicest blessings. Shall dwell safely; that is, with confidence, without danger (absque terrore, Vulgate). The phrase, ָשכַן בֶּטַד (shachan betakh), is used in Deuteronomy 33:12-18 of the safety with which the covenant people should dwell in the land that God had given them; but it is capable of a further extension of meaning beyond mere temporal security, viz. to the spiritual peace of the righteous. The psalmist also employs it to describe the confidence with which he awaits the resurrection, when he says, "My flesh also shall rest in hope [or, 'dwell confidently']" (Psalm 16:9). So here Wisdom promises that he who hearkens to her shall dwell calmly and undisturbed amidst the distractions of the world. The promise agrees with the description of Wisdom elsewhere that "her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace." And shall be quiet; (שַׁאֲנַן, shaanan, perfect pilel). Wisdom regards her assurance as already accomplished, and hence the perfect in the original is used for the future. The hearers and doers of her will shall live in tranquillity; nay, they are already doing so. It is a thing not only in prospect, but in possession. From fear of evil; i.e. either without any fear of evil, fear being removed (timore sublato, Vulgate), or, as the Authorized Version expresses it, connecting the phrase more intimately with the verb - "quiet from fear of evil." It is not only evil, רֲעַה (raah), in its substantial form, as calamity, they are to be free from, but even the fear of it. The tranquillity will be supreme.