Romans 3:13
Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:
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(13) Their throat is an open sepulchrei.e., their speech is at once corrupt and corrupting. It is compared to a “yawning grave”—not merely to a pit into which a man may fall, but to a sort of pestiferous chasm yawning and ravening, as it were, after its prey.

They have used deceit.—Strictly, they were deceiving; a continued action brought up to the present time.

Under their lips.—As the poison-bag of the serpent is directly under the kind of tooth by which its venom is discharged.

3:9-18 Here again is shown that all mankind are under the guilt of sin, as a burden; and under the government and dominion of sin, as enslaved to it, to work wickedness. This is made plain by several passages of Scripture from the Old Testament, which describe the corrupt and depraved state of all men, till grace restrain or change them. Great as our advantages are, these texts describe multitudes who call themselves Christians. Their principles and conduct prove that there is no fear of God before their eyes. And where no fear of God is, no good is to be looked for.Their throat ... - This expression is taken from Psalm 5:9, literally from the Septuagint. The design of the psalm is to reprove those who were false, traitorous, slanderous, etc. Psalm 5:6. The psalmist has the sin of deceit, and falsehood, and slander particularly in his eye. The expressions here are to be interpreted in accordance with that. The sentiment here may be, as the grave is ever open to receive all into it, that is, into destruction, so the mouth or the throat of the slanderer is ever open to swallow up the peace and happiness of all. Or it may mean, as from an open sepulchre there proceeds an offensive and pestilential vapor, so from the mouths of slanderous persons there proceed noisome and ruinous words. "(Stuart.)" I think the connection demands the former interpretation.

With their tongues ... - In their conversation, their promises, etc., they have been false, treacherous, and unfaithful.

The poison of asps - This is taken literally from the Septuagint of Psalm 140:3. The asp, or adder, is a species of serpent whose poison is of such active operation that it kills almost the instant that it penetrates, and that without remedy. It is small, and commonly lies concealed, often in the "sand" in a road, and strikes the traveler before he sees it. It is found chiefly in Egypt and Lybia. It is said by ancient writers that the celebrated Cleopatra, rather than be carried a captive to Rome by Augustus, suffered an asp to bite her in the arm, by which she soon died. The precise species of serpent which is here meant by the psalmist, however, cannot be ascertained. All that is necessary to understand the passage is, that it refers to a serpent whose bite was deadly, and rapid in its execution.

Is under their lips - The poison of the serpent is contained in a small bag which is concealed at the root of the tooth. When the tooth is struck into the flesh, the poison is pressed out, through a small hole in the tooth, into the wound. Whether the psalmist was acquainted with that fact, or referred to it, cannot be known: his words do not of necessity imply it. The sentiment is, that as the poison of the asp is rapid, certain, spreading quickly through the system, and producing death; so the words of the slanderer are deadly, pestiferous, quickly destroying the reputation and happiness of man. They are as subtle, as insinuating, and as deadly to the reputation, as the poison of the adder is to the body. Wicked people in the Bible are often compared to serpents; Matthew 23:33; Genesis 49:17.

13-18. Their, &c.—From generals, the apostle here comes to particulars, culling from different parts of Scripture passages which speak of depravity as it affects the different members of the body; as if to show more affectingly how "from the sole of the foot even to the head there is no soundness" in us.

throat is an open sepulchre—(Ps 5:9); that is, "What proceeds out of their heart, and finds vent in speech and action through the throat, is like the pestilential breath of an open grave."

with their tongues they have used deceit—(Ps 5:9); that is, "That tongue which is man's glory (Ps 16:9; 57:8) is prostituted to the purposes of deception."

the poison of asps is under their lips—(Ps 140:3): that is, "Those lips which should 'drop as an honeycomb,' and 'feed many,' and 'give thanks unto His name' (So 4:11; Pr 10:21; Heb 13:15), are employed to secrete and to dart deadly poison."

Their throat is an open sepulchre; he proceeds to instance in the corruption of man with respect to the members of his body; and he mentions the organs of speech in four several expressions, much to the same purpose: the first is allegorical, taken out of Psalm 5:9, upon which see the annotations.

With their tongues they have used deceit; this text doth plainly express the corruption of the tongue, because of lies, calumnies, perjuries, flatteries; and it is taken out of Jeremiah 9:3-5.

The poison of asps is under their lips: the third expression is allegorical, as the first, taken out of Psalm 140:3, upon which see the annotations.

Their throat is an open sepulchre,.... The several vices of the instruments of speech are here, and in the following verse, exposed: "the throat" is said to "be an open sepulchre", as in Psalm 5:9, so called, for its voracity and insatiableness; both as an instrument of speech, for the words of the wicked are devouring ones; and as an instrument of swallowing, and so may denote the sinner's eager desire after sin, the delight and pleasure he takes in it, the abundance of it he takes in, and his insatiable greediness for it; likewise for its filthy stench, the communication of evil men being corrupt; and because, as by an open grave, persons may fall unawares to their hurt, so the evil communications of wicked men, as they corrupt good manners, are dangerous and hurtful: R. Aben Ezra explains it by , "immediate destruction", or sudden death:

with their tongues they have used deceit; which may design the sin of flattery, for the words in Psalm 5:9; the place referred to, are, "they flatter with their tongue"; either God or men, themselves or others, their princes or their neighbour; for there are flatterers in things sacred and civil, there are self-flatterers, court flatterers, and flattering preachers, and all abominable and mischievous; or the phrase may design the sin of lying, either politically, officiously, perniciously, and religiously; and in this latter way, either with respect to doctrine or practice:

the poison of asps is under their lips; or as in Psalm 140:3, "adders' poison is under their lips". The asp is but a small creature, and so is the tongue, James 3:5, but there is a world of mischief in it, signified by poison; which, as that, is latent and secret, is under it; and as that stupefies and kills insensibly, so an evil tongue does, and that in a deadly and incurable manner: oftentimes the Jews speak of the evil imagination, or corruption of nature entering into persons, and operating in them, "as poison in an angry serpent" (w).

(w) T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 62. 2. Yoma, fol. 9. 2.

Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:
Romans 3:13. τάφοςἐδολιοῦσαν is an exact quotation of Psalm 5:10 (LXX). The original seems to describe foreign enemies whose false and treacherous language threatened ruin to Israel. For the form ἐδολιοῦσαν, see Winer, p. 91 (f.). The termination is common in the LXX: Wetstein quotes one grammarian who calls it Boeotian and another Chalcidic; it was apparently widely diffused. The last clause, ἰὸς ἀσπίδων κ.τ.λ., is Psalm 139:4, LXX.

13. an open sepulchre] Perhaps as “uttering abomination.” “Emitting the noisome exhalations of a putrid heart (Bp Home on Psalm 5:9).

Romans 3:13. Τάφοςιὂςἀυτῶν) so the LXX., Psalm 5:10; Psalm 140:4.—ἀνεῳγμένος) a sepulchre lately opened, and therefore very fetid.—ὁ λάρυγξ, their throat) Observe the course of the conversation, as it flows from the heart, by the avenue of their throat, their tongues, and their lips—the whole is comprised in the mouth; a great part of sin consists in words.—ὑπὸ τὰ χείλη) under theirlips; for on their lips is the sweetness of honey.

Romans 3:13Open sepulchre (τάφος ἀνεῳγμένος)

Lit., a sepulchre opened or standing open. Some explain the figure by the noisome exhalations from a tomb. Others refer it to a pit standing open and ready to devour, comparing Jeremiah 5:16, where the quiver of the Chaldaeans is called an open sepulchre. So Meyer and Morison. Godet compares the phrase used of a brutal man: "it seems as if he would like to eat you." Compare Dante's vision of the lion:

"With head uplifted and with ravenous hunger,

So that it seemed the air was afraid of him."

"Inferno," i., 47.

Have used deceit (εδολιουσαν)

Hebrew, they smoothed their tongues. Guile is contrasted with violence in the previous clause. Wyc., with their tongues they did guilingly. The imperfect tense denotes perseverance in their hypocritical professions.

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