Millions miss a meal or two each day.
Help us change that! Click to donate today!
1 The godless flee without any one pursuing them;
But the righteous are bold like a lion.
We would misinterpret the sequence of the accents if we supposed that it denoted רשׁע as obj.; it by no means takes ואין־רדף as a parenthesis. רשׁע belongs thus to נסוּ as collective sing. (cf. e.g., Isaiah 16:4);
(Note: The Targum of Proverbs 28:1 is, in Bereschith rabba, c. 84, ערק רשּׁיעא ולא רריפין להּ ; that lying before us is formed after the Peshito.)
in 1b, יבטח , as comprehensive or distributive (individualizing) singular, follows the plur. subject. One cannot, because the word is vocalized כּכפיר and not כּכּפיר , regard יבטח as an attributive clause thereto (Ewald, like Jerome, quasi leo confidens ); but the article, denoting the idea of kind, does not certainly always follow כ . We say, indifferently, כּארי or כּארי כּלּביא or כּלביא , and always כּאריה , not כּאריה . In itself, indeed, יבטח may be used absolutely: he is confident, undismayed, of the lion as well as of the leviathan, Job 40:23. But it is suitable thus without any addition for the righteous, and נסו and יבטח correspond to each other as predicates, in accordance with the parallelism; the accentuation is also here correct. The perf. נסו denotes that which is uncaused, and yet follows: the godless flee, pursued by the terrible images that arise in their own wicked consciences, even when no external danger threatens. The fut. יבטח denotes that which continually happens: the righteous remains, even where external danger really threatens, bold and courageous, after the manner of a young, vigorous lion, because feeling himself strong in God, and assured of his safety through Him.
There now follows a royal proverb, whose key-note is the same as that struck at Proverbs 25:2, which states how a country falls into the οὐκ ἀγαθόν of the rule of the many:
(Note: The three connected words ובאדם מבין ידע have, in Löwenstein, the accents Mercha, Mercha, Mugrash; but the Venetian, 1515, 20, Athias, v. d. Hooght, and Hahn, have rightly Tarcha, Mercha, Mugrash, - to place two Merchas in Ben-Naphtali's manner.)
show. A practical man, and one who is at the same time furnished with thorough knowledge, is thus spoken of, and prudence and knowledge of religious moral character and worth are meant. What a single man may do under certain circumstances is shown in Proverbs 21:22; Ecclesiastes 9:15. Here one has to think of a man of understanding and spirit at the helm of the State, perhaps as the nearest counsellor of the king. By means of such an one, right continues long (we do not need to supply להיות after “continues long”). If, on the one side, the State falls asunder by the evil conduct of the inhabitants of the land, on the other hand a single man who unites in himself sound understanding and higher knowledge, for a long time holds it together.
A proverb of a tyrant here connects itself with that of usurpers:
A poor man and an oppressor of the lowly -
A sweeping rain without bringing bread.
Thus it is to be translated according to the accents. Fleischer otherwise, but also in conformity with the accents: Quales sunt vir pauper et oppressor miserorum, tales sunt pluvia omnia secum abripiens et qui panem non habent , i.e., the relation between a poor man and an oppressor of the needy is the same as that between a rain carrying all away with it and a people robbed thereby of their sustenance; in other words: a prince or potentate who robs the poor of their possessions is like a pouring rain which floods the fruitful fields - the separate members of the sentence would then correspond with each other after the scheme of the chiasmus. But the comparison would be faulty, for גּבר רשׁ and אין לחם fall together, and then the explanation would be idem per idem . A “sweeping rain” is one which has only that which is bad, and not that which is good in rain, for it only destroys instead of promoting the growth of the corn; and as the Arab, according to a proverb compared by Hitzig, says of an unjust sultan, that he is a stream without water, so an oppressor of the helpless is appropriately compared to a rain which floods the land and brings no bread. But then the words, “a poor man and an oppressor of the lowly,” must designate one person, and in that case the Heb. words must be accentuated, גבר רשׁ ועשׁק דלים (cf. Proverbs 29:4). For, that the oppressor of the helpless deports himself toward the poor man like a sweeping rain which brings no bread, is a saying not intended to be here used, since this is altogether too obvious, that the poor man has nothing to hope for from such an extortioner. But the comparison would be appropriate if 3a referred to an oppressive master; for one who belongs to a master, or who is in any way subordinated to him, has before all to expect from him that which is good, as a requital for his services, and as a proof of his master's condescending sympathy. It is thus asked whether “a poor man and an oppressor of the lowly” may be two properties united in the person of one master. This is certainly possible, for he may be primarily a poor official or an upstart (Zöckler), such as were the Roman proconsuls and procurators, who enriched themselves by impoverishing their provinces (cf. lxx Proverbs 28:15); or a hereditary proprietor, who seeks to regain what he has lost by extorting it from his relatives and workmen. But רשׁ (poor) is not sufficient to give this definite feature to the figure of the master; and what does this feature in the figure of the master at all mean? What the comparison 3b says is appropriate to any oppressive ruler, and one does not think of an oppressor of the poor as himself poor; he may find himself in the midst of shattered possessions, but he is not poor; much rather the oppressor and the poor are, as e.g., at Proverbs 29:13, contrasted with each other. Therefore we hold, with Hitzig, that רשׁ of the text is to be read rosh , whether we have to change it into ראשׁ , or to suppose that the Jewish transcriber has here for once slipped into the Phoenician writing of the word;
(Note: The Phoen. writes רש ( i.e., רשׁ , rus ); vid., Schröder's Phönizische Gram. p. 133; cf. Gesen. Thes. under ראשׁ .)
we do not interpret, with Hitzig, גּבר ראשׁ in the sense of ἄνθρωπος δυνάστης , Sir. 8:1, but explain: a man (or master = גּביר ) is the head (cf. e.g., Judges 11:8), and oppresses the helpless. This rendering is probable, because גּבר רשׁ , a poor man, is a combination of words without a parallel; the Book of Proverbs does not once use the expression אישׁ רשׁ , but always simply רשׁ ( e.g., Proverbs 28:6; Proverbs 29:13); and גּבר is compatible with חכם and the like, but not with רשׁ . If we stumble at the isolated position of ראשׁ , we should consider that it is in a certain measure covered by דלים ; for one has to think of the גבר , who is the ראשׁ , also as the ראשׁ of these דלים , as one placed in a high station who numbers poor people among his subordinates. The lxx translates ἀνδρεῖος ἐν ἀσεβείαις as if the words of the text were גּבּור רשׁע (cf. the interchange of גּבר and גּבּור in both texts of Psalms 18:26), but what the lxx read must have been גּבּור להרשׁיע (Isaiah 5:22); and what can גּבּור here mean? The statement here made refers to the ruinous conduct of a גּבר , a man of standing, or גּביר , a high lord, a “wicked ruler,” Proverbs 28:15. On the contrary, what kind of rain the rule of an ideal governor is compared to, Psalms 72:1-8 tells.
4 They who forsake the law praise the godless;
But they who keep the law become angry with them,
viz. the godless, for רשׁע is to be thought of collectively, as at Proverbs 28:1. They who praise the godless turn away from the revealed word of God (Psalms 73:11-15); those, on the contrary, who are true to God's word (Proverbs 28:18) are aroused against them ( vid., regarding גרה , Proverbs 15:18), they are deeply moved by their conduct, they cannot remain silent and let their wickedness go unpunished; התגּרה is zeal (excitement) always expressing itself, passing over into actions (syn. התעורר , Job 17:8).
A similar antithetic distich:
Wicked men understand not what is right;
But they who seek Jahve understand all.
Regarding the gen. expression אנשׁי־רע , vid., under Proverbs 2:14. He who makes wickedness his element, falls into the confusion of the moral conception; but he whose end is the one living God, gains from that, in every situation of life, even amid the greatest difficulties, the knowledge of that which is morally right. Similarly the Apostle John (1 John 2:20): “ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things” ( οἴδατε πάντα ): i.e., ye need to seek that knowledge which ye require, and which ye long after, not without yourselves, but in the new divine foundation of your personal life; from thence all that ye need for the growth of your spiritual life, and for the turning away from you of hostile influences, will come into your consciences. It is a potential knowledge, all-comprehensive in its character, and obviously a human relative knowledge, that is here meant.
What is stated in this proverb is a conclusion from the preceding, with which it is also externally connected, for רשׁ (= ראשׁ ), רשׁע רע , and now רשׁ , follow each other:
Better a poor man who walketh in his innocence,
Than a double-going deceiver who is rich thereby.
A variation of Proverbs 19:1. Stainlessness, integritas vitae , as a consequence of unreserved devotion to God, gives to a man with poverty a higher worth and nobility than riches connected with falsehood which “halts between two opinions” (1 Kings 18:21), and appears to go one way, while in reality it goes another. The two ways דּדכים (cf. Sir. 2:12, οὐαί ἁμαρτωλῷ ... ἐπιβαίνοντι ἐπὶ δύο τρίβους ) are, as Proverbs 28:18, not ways going aside to the right or to the left of the right way, but the evil way which the deceiver truly walks in, and the good way which he pretends to walk in (Fleischer); the two ways of action placed over against one another, by one of which he masks the other.
7 He who keepeth instruction is a wise son;
But he that is a companion of profligates bringeth his father into shame.
We have translated תורה at Proverbs 28:4 by “law;” here it includes the father's instruction regarding the right way of life. נוצר תּורה , according to the nearest lying syntax, has to be taken as pred. זוללים are such as squander their means and destroy their health, vid., under Proverbs 23:20. רעה signifies, as frequently from the idea of (cf. Proverbs 29:3) pasturing, or properly of tending, to take care of, and to have fellowship with. יכלים shall put to shame denotes both that he himself does disgrace to him, and that he brings disgrace to him on the part of others.
This verse continues a series of proverbs (commencing in Proverbs 28:7) beginning with a participle:
He who increaseth his wealth by interest and usury,
Gathereth it for one who is benevolent toward the lowly.
Wealth increased by covetous plundering of a neighbour does not remain with him who has scraped it together in so relentless a manner, and without considering his own advantage; but it goes finally into the possession of one who is merciful towards the poor, and thus it is bestowed in a manner that is pleasing to God (cf. Proverbs 13:22; Job 22:16.). The Kerı̂ , which drops the second ב , appears to wish to mitigate the sharpness of the distinction of the second idea supposed in its repetition. But Leviticus 25:35-37, where an Israelite is forbidden to take usury and interest from his brother, the two are distinguished; and Fleischer rightly remarks that there נשׁך means usury or interest taken in money, and תרבית usury or interest taken in kind; i.e., of that which one has received in loan, such as grain, or oil, etc., he gives back more than he has received. In other words: נשׁך is the name of the interest for the capital that is lent, and מרבּית , or, as it is here called תרבית , the more, the addition thereto, the increase (Luther: ubersatz ). This meaning of gain by means of lending on interest remains in נשׁך ; but תרבית , according to the later usus loq., signifies gain by means of commerce, thus business-profit, vid., Baba Mezîa, v. 1. Instead of יקבּצנּוּ , more recent texts have the Kal
(Note: If, as Hitzig, after J. H. Michaelis, remarks, the word were Ben-Asher's יקבּצנּוּ , then it would be thus rightly punctuated by Clodius and the moderns. Kimchi, in the Wörterbuch under קבץ , adduces this word as Ben-Asher's. But the Masora knows nothing of it. It marks יקבּצנּוּ , Jeremiah 31:10, with לית as unicum , and thus supposes for the passages before us יקבּצנּוּ , which certainly is found in MSS, and is also marked on the margin with לית as unicum .)
יקבּצנּוּ לחונן also is, as Proverbs 14:31; Proverbs 19:17, part. Kal, not inf. Poel: ad largiendum pauperibus (Merc., Ewald, Bertheau), for there the person of him who presents the gift is undefined; but just this, that it is another and better-disposed, for whom, without having it in view, the collector gathers his stores, is the very point of the thought.
9 He who turneth away his ear not to hear of the law,
Even his prayer is an abomination.
Cf. Proverbs 15:8 and the argument 1 Samuel 15:22. Not only the evil which such an one does, but also the apparent good is an abomination, an abomination to God, and eo ipso also in itself: morally hollow and corrupt; for it is not truth and sincerity, for the whole soul, the whole will of the suppliant, is not present: he is not that for which he gives himself out in his prayer, and does not earnestly seek that which he presents and expresses a wish for in prayer.
A tristich beginning with a participle:
He who misleads the upright into an evil way,
He shall fall into his own pit;
But the innocent shall inherit that which is good.
In the first case, Proverbs 26:27 is fulfilled: the deceiver who leads astray falls himself into the destruction which he prepared for others, whether he misleads them into sin, and thus mediately prepares destruction for them, or that he does this immediately by enticing them into this or that danger; for בּדרך רע may be understood of the way of wicked conduct, as well as of the experience of evil, of being betrayed, robbed, or even murdered. That those who are misled are called ישׁרים , explains itself in the latter case: that they are such as he ought to show respect towards, and such as deserved better treatment, heightens the measure of his guilt. If we understand being morally led astray, yet may we not with Hitzig here find the “theory” which removes the punishment from the just and lays it on the wicked. The clause Proverbs 11:8 is not here applicable. The first pages of the Scripture teach that the deceiver does not by any means escape punishment; but certainly the deceiver of the upright does not gain his object, for his diabolical joy at the destruction of such an one is vain, because God again helps him with the right way, but casts the deceiver so much the deeper down. As the idea of דרך רע has a twofold direction, so the connections of the words may be genitival ( via mali ) as well as adjectival ( via mala ). בּשׁחוּתו is not incorrectly written for בּשׁוּחתו , for שׁחית occurs (only here) with שׁחוּת as its warrant both from שׁחה , to bend, to sink; cf. לזוּת under Proverbs 4:24. In line third, opposite to “he who misleads,” stand “the innocent” (pious), who, far from seeking to entice others into the evil way and bring them to ruin, are unreservedly and honestly devoted to God and to that which is good; these shall inherit good (cf. Proverbs 3:35); even the consciousness of having made no man unhappy makes them happy; but even in their external relations there falls to them the possession of all good, which is the divinely ordained reward of the good.
11 A rich man deems himself wise;
But a poor man that hath understanding searcheth him out,
or, as we have translated, Proverbs 18:17, goes to the bottom of him, whereby is probably thought of the case that he seeks to use him as a means to an ignoble end. The rich man appears in his own eyes to be a wise man, i.e., in his self-delusion he thinks that he is so; but if he has anything to do with a poor man who has intelligence, then he is seen through by him. Wisdom is a gift not depending on any earthly possession.
We take Proverbs 28:12-20 together. A proverb regarding riches closes this group, as also the foregoing is closed, and its commencement is related in form and in its contents to Proverbs 28:2:
12 When righteous men triumph, the glory is great;
And when the godless rise, the people are searched for.
The first line of this distich is parallel with Proverbs 29:2; cf. Proverbs 11:10, Proverbs 11:11: when the righteous rejoice, viz., as conquerors (cf. e.g., Psalms 60:8), who have the upper hand, then תּפארת , bright prosperity, is increased; or as Fleischer, by comparison of the Arab. yawm alazynt (day of ornament = festival day), explains: so is there much festival adornment, i.e., one puts on festival clothes, signum pro re signata : thus all appears festal and joyous, for prosperity and happiness then show themselves forth. רבּה is adj. and pred. of the substantival clause; Hitzig regards it as the attribute: “then is there great glory;” this supposition is possible ( vid., Proverbs 7:26, and under Psalms 89:51), but here it is purely arbitrary. 28a is parallel with 12b: “if the godless arise, attain to power and prominence, these men are spied out, i.e., as we say, after Zephaniah 1:12, they are searched for as with lamps. יחפּשׂ אדם is to be understood after Obadiah, Obadiah 1:6, cf. Proverbs 2:4: men are searched out, i.e., are plundered (in which sense Heidenheim regards חפשׂ as here a transposition from חשׂף ), or, with reference to the secret police of despotism: they are subjected to espionage. But a better gloss is יסּתר אדם 28a: the people let themselves be sought for, they keep themselves concealed in the inside of their houses, they venture not out into the streets and public places (Fleischer), for mistrust and suspicion oppress them all; one regards his person and property nowhere safer than within the four walls of his house; the lively, noisy, variegated life which elsewhere rules without, is as if it were dead.
13 He that denieth his sin shall not prosper;
But he that acknowledgeth and forsaketh it shall obtain mercy.
Thus is this proverb translated by Luther, and thus it lives in the mouth of the Christian people. He who falsely disowns, or with self-deception excuses, if he does not altogether justify his sins, which are discernible as פּשׁעים , has no success; he remains, after Psalms 32:1-11, in his conscience and life burdened with a secret ban; but he who acknowledges (the lxx has ἐξηγούμενος instead of ἐξομολογούμενος , as it ought to be) and forsakes (for the remissio does not follow the confessio , if there is not the accompaniment of nova obedientia ) will find mercy ( ירחם , as Hosea 14:4). In close connection therewith stands the thought that man has to work out his salvation “with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12).
14 Well is it with the man who feareth always;
But he that is stiff-necked shall fall into mischief.
The Piel פּחד occurs elsewhere only at Isaiah 51:13, where it is used of the fear and dread of men; here it denotes the anxious concern with which one has to guard against the danger of evil coming upon his soul. Aben Ezra makes God the object; but rather we are to regard sin as the object, for while the truly pious is one that “fears God,” he is at the same time one that “feareth evil.” The antithesis extends beyond the nearest lying contrast of fleshly security; this is at the same time more or less one who hardens or steels his heart ( מקשׁה לבּו ), viz., against the word of God, against the sons of God in his heart, and against the affectionate concern of others about his soul, and as such rushes on to his own destruction ( יפּול בּרעה , as at Proverbs 17:20).
This general ethical proverb is now followed by one concerning the king:
15 A roaring lion and a ravening bear
Is a foolish ruler over a poor people,
i.e., a people without riches and possessions, without lasting sources of help - a people brought low by the events of war and by calamities. To such a people a tyrant is a twofold terror, like a ravenous monster. The lxx translate מושׁל רשׁע by ὃς τυραννεῖ πτωχὸς ὤν , as if רשׁ had been transferred to this place from Proverbs 28:3. But their translation of רשׁע , Proverbs 29:7, wavers between ἀσεβής and πτωχός , and of the bear they make a wolf זאב , dialectical דּיב שׁוקק designates a bear as lingering about, running hither and thither, impelled by extreme hunger ( Venet. ἐπιοῦσα ), from שׁקק שׁוּק , to drive, which is said of nimble running, as well as of urging impulses (cf. under Genesis 3:16), viz., hunger.
Another proverb of the king:
O prince devoid of understanding and rich in oppression!
He that hateth unrighteous gain continueth long.
The old interpreters from the lxx interpret מעשׁקּות רבו as pred. (as also Fleischer: princeps qui intelligentiae habet parum idem oppressionis exercet multum ); but why did not the author use the word הוּא or והוּא instead of this ambiguous inconvenient ו ? Hitzig regards the first term as a nominative absolute, which does not assume a suffix in the second line. But examples such as 27a, Proverbs 27:7, are altogether of a different sort; there occurs a reference that is in reality latent, and only finds not expression; the clause following the nominative is related to it as its natural predicate, but here 15b is an independent clause standing outside of any syntactical relation to 15a. Heidenheim has acknowledged that here there lies before us a proverb not in the form of a mere declaration, but of a warning address, and thus also it is understood by Ewald, Bertheau, Elster, and Zöckler. The accentuation seems to proceed on the same supposition. It is the only passage in the Book of Proverbs where נגיד , of the supreme ruler of the people, and where the plur. תּבוּנות , occur; it is not therefore at all strange if the proverb also has something strange in its formation. Often enough, proverbs are in the form of an address to a son, and generally to their reader; why not also one at least to the king? It is a proverb as when I say: Oh thou reckless, merry fellow! he who laughs much will sometimes weep long. Thus here the address is directed to the prince who is devoid of all wisdom and intelligence, which are necessary for a prince; but on this account the more earnest in exhortation to say to him that only one who hates defrauding the people attains an old age; thus that a prince who plunders the people wantonly shortens his life as a man, and his position as a ruler (cf. שׁניהם , Proverbs 24:22). The Kerı̂ שׂנא has the tone thrown back on the penult., as the Chethı̂b שׂנאי would also have it, cf. למצאי , Proverbs 8:9. The relation of a plur. subj. to a sing. pred. is as at Proverbs 27:16. Regarding בּצע , vid., under Proverbs 1:19. A confirmation of this proverb directing itself to princes if found in Jeremiah 22:13-19, the woe pronounced upon Jehoiakim. And a glance at the woe pronounced in Habakkuk 2:12, shows how easily Proverbs 28:17 presents itself in connection.
17 A man burdened with the guilt of blood upon his soul
Fleeth to the pit; let no one detain him.
Luther translates: “A man that doeth violence to the blood of any one,” as if he had read the word עשׁק . Löwenstein persuades himself that עשׁק may mean “having oppressed,” and for this refers to לבוּשׁ , having clothed, in the Mishna נשׁוּי רבוּב , Lat. coenatus, juratus ; but none of all these cases are of the same nature, for always the conduct designated is interpreted as a suffering of that which is done, e.g., the drawing on, as a being clothed; the riding, as a being ridden, etc. Of עשׁק , in the sense of the oppression of another, there is no such part. pass. as throws the action as a condition back upon the subject. This is valid also against Aben Ezra, who supposes that עשׁק means oppressing after the forms אנוּר שׁדוּד שׁכוּן , for of שׁכוּן , settled = dwelling, that which has just been said is true; that אנוּר is equivalent to אגר , cf. regarding it under Proverbs 30:1, and that שׁדוּד , Psalms 137:8, is equivalent to שׁדד , is not true. Kimchi adds, under the name of his father (Joseph Kimchi), also שׁחוּט , Jeremiah 9:7 = שׁוחט ; but that “slaughtered” can be equivalent to slaughtering is impossible. Some MSS have the word עשׂק , which is not inadmissible, but not in the sense of “accused” (Löwenstein), but: persecuted, exposed to war; for עשׁק signifies to treat hostilely, and post-bibl. generally to aspire after or pursue anything, e.g., עסוק בּדברי תורה , R. עשׂ (whence Piel contrectare, cf. Isaiah 23:2, according to which עשׁק appears to be an intensifying of this עשׂה ). However, there is no ground for regarding עשׁק
(Note: Böttcher supposes much rather עשּׁק מעשּׁק ; also, Proverbs 25:11, דבּר מדבּר ; but that does not follow from the defectiva scriptio, nor from anything else.)
as not original, nor in the sense of “hard pressed;” for it is not used of avenging persecution, but: inwardly pressed, for Isaiah 38:14 עשׁקה also signifies the anguish of a guilty conscience. Whoever is inwardly bowed down by the blood of a man whom he has murdered, betakes himself to a ceaseless flight to escape the avenger of blood, the punishment of his guilt, and his own inward torment; he flees and finds no rest, till at last the grave ( בור according to the Eastern, i.e., the Babylonian, mode of writing בּר ) receives him, and death accomplishes the only possible propitiation of the murderer. The exhortation, “let no one detain him,” does not mean that one should not lay hold on the fugitive; but, since תּמך בּ does not mean merely to hold fast, but to hold right, that one should not afford him any support, any refuge, any covering or security against the vengeance which pursues him; that one should not rescue him from the arm of justice, and thereby invade and disturb the public administration of justice, which rests on moral foundations; on the other side, the Book of Prov; Proverbs 24:11., has uttered its exhortation to save a human life whenever it is possible to do so. The proverb lying before us cannot thus mean anything else than that no one should give to the murderer, as such, any assistance; that no one should save him clandestinely, and thereby make himself a partaker of his sin. Grace cannot come into the place of justice till justice has been fully recognised. Human sympathy, human forbearance, under the false title of grace, do not stand in contrast to this justice. We must, however, render אל־יתמכו־בו not directly as an admonition against that which is immoral; it may also be a declaration of that which is impossible: only let no one support him, let no one seek to deliver him from the unrest which drives him from place to place. This is, however, in vain; he is unceasingly driven about to fulfil his lot. But the translation: nemine eum sustinente (Fleischer), is inadmissible; a mere declaration of a fact without any subjective colouring is never אל reven si g seq. fut.
18 He who walketh blamelessly is helped,
And he who is perverse in a double way suddenly perisheth.
The lxx translate תמים by δικαίως (as the accusative of manner), Aquila and Theodotion by τέλειος ; but it may also be translated τέλειον or τελειότητα , as the object accus. of Proverbs 2:7. Instead of עקּשׁ דּרכים , Proverbs 28:6, there is here נעקּשׁ דּרכים , obliquely directed in a double way, or reflex bending himself. At Proverbs 28:6 we have interpreted the dual דּרכים rightly, thus בּאחת cannot refer back to one of these two ways; besides, דּרך as fem. is an anomaly, if not a solecism. בּאחת signifies, like the Aram. כּחרא , either all at once (for which the Mish. כּאחת , Aram. כּחרא ), or once (= בּפּעם אחת ), and it signifies in the passage before us, not: once, aliquando , as Nolde, with Flacius, explains, but: all at once, i.e., as Geier explains: penitus, sic ut pluribus casibus porro non sit opus . Schultens compares:
“ Procubuit moriens et humum semel ore momordit .”
(Note: Aeneid, xi. 418.)
Rightly Fleischer: repente totus concidet .
19 He who cultivateth his land is satisfied with bread,
And he that graspeth after vanities is satisfied with poverty.
A variation of Proverbs 12:11. The pred. here corresponds to its contrast. On רישׁ (here and at Proverbs 31:7), instead of the more frequent ראשׁ , cf. Proverbs 10:4.
To this proverb of the cultivation of the land as the sure source of support, the next following stands related, its contents being cognate:
20 A strong, upright man is enriched with blessings;
But he that hastens to become rich remains not unpunished.
אישׁ אמוּנים , Proverbs 20:6, as well as אמוּנות א , denotes a man bonae fidei ; but the former expression refers the description to a constancy and certainty in the relations of favour and of friendship, here to rectitude or integrity in walk and conduct; the plur. refers to the all-sidedness and the ceaselessness of the activity. בּרכות is related, as at Proverbs 10:6: the idea comprehends blessings on the side of God and of man, thus benedictio rei and benedictio voti . On the contrary, he who, without being careful as to the means, is in haste to become rich, remains not only unblessed, but also is not guiltless, and thus not without punishment; also this לא ינּקה ( e.g., Proverbs 6:29), frequently met in the Mishle, is, like ברכות , the union of two ideas, for generally the bibl. mode of conception and language comprehends in one, sin, guilt, and punishment.
With a proverb, in the first half of which is repeated the beginning of the second appendix, Proverbs 24:23, a new group commences:
21 Respect of persons is not good;
And for a morsel of bread a man may become a transgressor.
Line first refers to the administration of justice, and line second - the special generalized - to social life generally. The “morsel of bread,” as example of a bribe by means of which the favour of the judge is purchased, is too low a conception. Hitzig well: “even a trifle, a morsel of bread (1 Samuel 2:36), may, as it awakens favour and dislike within us, thus in general call forth in the will an inclination tending to draw one aside from the line of strict rectitude.” Geier compares A Gellius' Noct. Att. i. 15, where Cato says of the Tribune Coelius: Frusto panis conduci potest vel ut taceat vel ut loquatur .
22 The man of an evil eye hasteneth after riches,
And knoweth not that want shall come upon him.
Hitzig renders ' אישׁ וגו the man of an evil eye as apos. of the subject; but in that case the phrase would have been אישׁ רע עין נבהל להון (cf. e.g., Proverbs 29:1). רע עין (Proverbs 23:6) is the jealous, envious, grudging, and at the same time covetous man. It is certainly possible that an envious man consumes himself in ill-humour without quietness, as Hitzig objects; but as a rule there is connected with envy a passionate endeavour to raise oneself to an equal height of prosperity with the one who is the object of envy; and this zeal, proceeding from an impure motive, makes men blind to the fact that thereby they do not advance, but rather degrade themselves, for no blessing can rest on it; discontentedness loses, with that which God has assigned to us, deservedly also that which it has. The pret. נבחל , the expression of a fact; the part. נבהל , the expression of an habitual characteristic action; the word signifies praeceps ( qui praeceps fertur ), with the root-idea of one who is unbridled, who is not master of himself ( vid., under Psalms 2:5, and above at Proverbs 20:21). The phrase wavers between נבהל (Kimchi, under בהל ; and Norzi, after Codd. and old editions) and נבהל (thus, e.g., Cod. Jaman); only at Psalms 30:8 נבהל stands unquestioned. חסר [want] is recognised by Symmachus, Syr., and Jerome. To this, as the authentic reading, cf. its ingenious rendering of Bereschith Rabba, c. 58, to Genesis 23:14. The lxx reads, from 22b, that a חסיד , ἐλεήμων , will finally seize the same riches, according to which Hitzig reads חסד , disgrace, shame (cf. Proverbs 25:10).
23 He that reproveth a man who is going backwards,
Findeth more thanks than the flatterer.
It is impossible that aj can be the suffix of אחרי ; the Talmud, Tamid 28a, refers it to God; but that it signifies: after my (Solomon's) example or precedence (Aben Ezra, Ahron b. Josef, Venet., J. H. Michaelis), is untenable - such a name given by the teacher here to himself is altogether aimless. Others translate, with Jerome: Qui corripit hominem gratiam postea inveniet apud eum magis, quam ille qui per linguae blandimenta decipit , for they partly purpose to read אחרי־כן , partly to give to ' אח the meaning of postea . אחרי , Ewald says, is a notable example of an adverb. Hitzig seeks to correct this adv. as at Nehemiah 3:30., but where, with Keil, אחרו is to be read; at Joshua 2:7, where אחרי is to be erased; and at Deuteronomy 2:30, where the traditional text is accountable. This אחרי may be formed like אזי and מתי ; but if it had existed, it would not be a ἅπαξ λεγ . The accentuation also, in the passage before us, does not recognise it; but it takes אחרי and אדם together, and how otherwise than that it appears, as Ibn-Jachja in his Grammar, and Immanuel
(Note: Abulwalîd ( Rikma, p. 69) also rightly explains אחרי , as a characterizing epithet, by אחרני (turned backwards).)
have recognised it, to be a noun terminating in aj. It is a formation, like לפני , 1 Kings 6:10 (cf. Olshausen's Lehrb. p. 428f.), of the same termination as שׁדּי חגּי , and in the later Aram.-Heb. זכּי , and the like. The variant אחרי , noticed by Heidenheim, confirms it; and the distinction between different classes of men ( vid., vol. i. p. 39) which prevails in the Book of Proverbs favours it. A אדם אחרי is defined, after the manner of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 7:24): a man who is directed backwards, and not לפנים , forwards. Not the renegade - for מוכיח , opp. מחליק לשׁון , does not lead to so strong a conception - but the retrograder is thus called in German: Rückläufige one who runs backwards or Rückwendige one who turns backwards, who turns away from the good, the right, and the true, and always departs the farther away from them (Immanuel: going backwards in his nature or his moral relations). This centrifugal direction, leading to estrangement from the fear of Jahve, or, what is the same thing, from the religion of revelation, would lead to entire ruin if unreserved and fearless denunciation did not interpose and seek to restrain it; and he who speaks
(Note: Löwenstein writes מוכיח , after Metheg - Setzung, §43, not incorrectly; for the following word, although toned on the first syllable, begins with guttural having the same sound.)
so truly, openly, and earnestly home to the conscience of one who is on the downward course, gains for himself thereby, on the part of him whom he has directed aright, and on the part of all who are well disposed, better thanks (and also, on the part of God, a better reward, James 5:19.) than he who, speaking to him, smooths his tongue to say to him who is rich, or in a high position, only that which is agreeable. Laudat adulator, sed non est verus amator . The second half of the verse consists, as often (Psalms 73:8; Job 33:1; cf. Thorath Emeth, p. 51), of only two words, with Mercha Silluk.
24 He who robbeth his father and mother, and saith:
It is no wrong, Is a companion of the destroyer.
The second line is related to Proverbs 18:9. Instead of dominus perditionis there found, there is here אישׁ משׁחית , vir perdens ( perditor ); the word thus denotes a man who destroys, not from revenge, but from lust, and for the sake of the life of men, and that which is valuable for men; thus the spoiler, the incendiary, etc. Instead of אח there, here we have חבר in the same sense. He who robs his parents, i.e., takes to himself what belongs to them, and regards his doing so as no particular sin,
(Note: Accentuate ואמר אין פשׁע without Makkeph, as in Codd. 1294 and old editions.)
because he will at last come to inherit it all (cf. Proverbs 20:21 with Proverbs 19:26), to to be likened to a man who allows himself in all offences against the life and property of his neighbour; for what the deed of such a son wants in external violence, it makes up in its wickedness, because it is a rude violation of the tenderest and holiest demands of duty.
25 The covetous stirreth up strife;
But he that trusteth in Jahve is richly comforted.
Line first is a variation of Proverbs 15:18; רחב־נפשׁ is not to be interchanged with רחב־לב , Proverbs 21:4. He is of a wide heart who haughtily puffs himself up, of a wide soul (cf. with Schultens הרחיב נפשׁו , of the opening up of the throat, or of revenge, Isaiah 5:14; Habakkuk 2:5) who is insatiably covetous; for לב is the spiritual, and נפשׁ the natural, heart of man, according to which the widening of the heart is the overstraining of self-consciousness, and the widening of the soul the overstraining of passion. Rightly the lxx, according to its original text: ἄπληστος ἀνὴρ κινεῖ (thus with Hitzig for κρινεῖ ) νείκη . Line second is a variation of Proverbs 16:20; Proverbs 29:25. Over against the insatiable is he who trusts in God ( וּב טח , with Gaja to the vocal, concluding the word, for it follows a word accented on the first syllable, and beginning with a guttural; cf. יא , Proverbs 29:2; יףּ , Proverbs 29:18), that He will bestow upon him what is necessary and good for him. One thus contented is easily satisfied (compare with the word Proverbs 11:25; Proverbs 13:4, and with the matter, Proverbs 10:3; Proverbs 13:24), is externally as well as internally appeased; while that other, never contented, has no peace, and creates dispeace around him.
The following proverb assumes the בטח of the foregoing:
(Note: We take the opportunity of remarking that the tendency to form together certain proverbs after one catchword is found also in German books of proverbs; vid., Paul, Ueber die urspr. Anord. von Friedanks Bescheidenheit (1870), p. 12.)
26 He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool;
But he that walketh in wisdom shall escape.
From the promise in the second line, Hitzig concludes that a courageous heart is meant, but when by itself לב never bears this meaning. He who trusteth in his own heart is not merely one who is guided solely “by his own inconsiderate, defiant impulse to act” (Zöckler). The proverb is directed against a false subjectivity. The heart is that fabricator of thoughts, of which, as of man by nature, nothing good can be said, Genesis 6:5; Genesis 8:21. But wisdom is a gift from above, and consists in the knowledge of that which is objectively true, that which is normatively godlike. הלך בּחכמה is he who so walks that he has in wisdom a secure authority, and has not then for the first time, when he requires to walk, need to consider, to reckon, to experiment. Thus walking in the way of wisdom, he escapes dangers to which one is exposed who walks in foolish confidence in his own heart and its changeful feelings, thoughts, imaginations, delusions. One who thoughtlessly boasts, who vainly dreams of victory before the time, is such a person; but confidence in one's own heart takes also a hundred other forms. Essentially similar to this proverb are the words of Jeremiah 9:22., for the wisdom meant in 26b is there defined at Jeremiah 9:23.
27 He that giveth to the poor suffereth no want;
But he that covereth his eyes meeteth many curses.
In the first line the pronoun לּו , referring back to the subject noun, is to be supplied, as at Proverbs 27:7 להּ . He who gives to the poor has no want ( מחסּור ), for God's blessing reimburses him richly for what he bestows. He, on the other hand, who veils ( מעלּים( sl , cf. the Hithpa., Isaiah 58:7) his eyes so as not to see the misery which calls forth compassion, or as if he did not see the misery which has a claim on his compassion; he is (becomes) rich in curses, i.e., is laden with the curses of those whose wants he cared not for; curses which, because they are deserved, change by virtue of a divine requital ( vid., Sir. 4:5f.; Tob. 4:7) into all kinds of misfortunes ( opp. רב־בּרכות , 20a). מארה is constructed after the form מגרה מקרה from ארר .
The following proverb resembles the beginnings Proverbs 28:2, Proverbs 28:12. The proverbs Proverbs 28:28; Proverbs 29:1-3, form a beautiful square grasp, in which the first and third, and the second and fourth, correspond to one another.
28 When the godless rise up, men hide themselves;
And when they perish, the righteous increase.
Line first is a variation of 12b. Since they who hide themselves are merely called men, people, the meaning of ירבּוּ is probably not this, that the righteous then from all sides come out into the foreground (Hitzig), but that they prosper, multiply, and increase as do plants, when the worms, caterpillars, and the like are destroyed (Fleischer); Löwenstein glosses ירבּוּ by יגדלו , they become great = powerful, but that would be Elihu's style, Job 33:12, which is not in common use; the names of masters and of those in authority, ררב רבּי רבּן רבּנוּת , are all derived from רבב , not from רבה . The increase is to be understood of the prosperous growth (to become great = to increase, as perhaps also Genesis 21:10) of the congregation of the righteous, which gains in the overthrow of the godless an accession to its numbers; cf. Proverbs 29:2, and especially Proverbs 29:16.
The Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Proverbs 28". Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 22 / Ordinary 27