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The Words of Agur
The simplest way of treating the title is to read as follows: ’The words of Agur, son of Yakeh, of Massa.’ Then we may proceed, with RM, ’The man saith, I have wearied myself, O God; I have wearied myself, O God, and am consumed; for I am too stupid to be a man.’ Nothing is known of Agur or Yakeh, and we can only say of these proverbs that they are unlike any that have preceded, and are evidently of later date. The grouping of objects in twos, threes, and fours reminds us of Job 5:19; Psalms 62:11; Amos 1, 2, and of later Jewish books, such as ’The Ethics of the Fathers’ and the Talmudic treatise ’Horajoth.’
1-4. He lays no claim to the wisdom of which some boast: he does not profess to understand the ’Holy One’ (RV), or to be Master of Nature (Job 38). The garment is the clouds.
5, 6. Men should attend to the word of revelation, which is pure as refined gold; they add to its teachings at their peril.
7-9. Two desirable things.
8. Each household slave had an allotted portion of food (Proverbs 31:15): God is here the head of the family, weighing out to me ’the bread of my portion’ (RM).
9. When in great distress men often blaspheme (Isaiah 8:21; Revelation 16:9). But the meaning may be that he dishonours the name of his God by stealing (Ezekiel 36:20).
11-14. Four classes of detestable people.
15, 16. Read, ’The leech hath two daughters—Give, Give.’ There is an Indian proverb: ’Fire is not satiated with wood, nor the ocean with streams, nor death with all the living, nor woman with man.’
17. The unburied corpse will be devoured by ravens of the wadi and by vultures (RM): eagles do not eat corpses.
18, 19. Four mysterious things: cp. Wisdom of Solomon 5:10, Wisdom of Solomon 5:11.
19. Maid] lit. ’young woman.’
20. This woman is an animal, in whom conscience has never been developed.
21-23. Four intolerable things.
23. The odious woman is the one who has long been rejected, but she secures a husband at last. A handmaid, etc.] Either she inherits from, or she supplants, her mistress: if the latter is meant, cp. Sarah’s jealousy of Hagar.
24-28. Four animals, small but wise.
26. The creature improperly called coney here and at Leviticus 11:5; Deuteronomy 14:7; Psalms 104:18 is the Syrian ’hyrax,’ an animal about the size of a rabbit, which feeds on grass, and lives in companies in the clefts of the rocks.
27. By bands] cp. Joel 2.
28. The ’lizard’ (RV) is so small that ’you can grasp it with your hands’ (RM).
29-31. Four creatures of stately gait.
31. Instead of greyhound LXX has the ’cock.’ The fourth creature can hardly be the king: the passage is corrupt.
33. Retain the same word throughout: pressing milk, pressing the nose, pressing strife. The ’curd’ (not butter), which is a favourite and refreshing drink in the East, is made by shaking the milk about in a vessel of skin.
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Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 30". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany