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A general ethical proverb here follows:
A man often corrected who hardeneth his neck,
Shall suddenly go to ruin without remedy.
Line second = Proverbs 6:15. The connection אישׁ תּוכחות must make the nearest impression on a reader of the Book of Proverbs that they mean a censurer (reprehender), but which is set aside by what follows, for the genit. after אישׁ is, Proverbs 16:29; Proverbs 26:21; Proverbs 29:10; Proverbs 13:20, the designation of that which proceeds from the subject treated. And since תּוכחות , Psalms 37:15; Job 23:4, denotes counter evidence, and generally rejoinders, thus in the first line a reasoner is designated who lets nothing be said to him, and nothing be shown to him, but contradicts all and every one. Thus e.g., Fleischer: vir qui correptus contradicit et cervicem obdurat . But this interpolated correptus gives involuntary testimony of this, that the nearest lying impression of the ' אישׁ תו suffers a change by מקשׁה ערף : if we read הקשׁה ( לב ) ערף with ' תו , the latter then designates the correptio, over against which is placed obstinate boldness (Syr., Targ., Jerome, Luther), and ' תו shows itself thus to be gen. objecti, and we have to compare the gen. connection of אישׁ , as at Proverbs 18:23; Proverbs 21:17, or rather at 1 Kings 20:42 and Jeremiah 15:10. But it is unnecessary, with Hitzig, to limit ' תו to divine infliction of punishment, and after Hosea 5:9; Isaiah 37:3, to read תוכחות [punishment], which occurs, Psalms 149:7, in the sense of punishment inflicted by man.
(Note: Vid., Zunz, “Regarding the Idea and the Use of Tokhecha,” in Steinschneider's Heb. Bibliographia, entitled המחכיר , 1871, p. 70f.)
Besides, we must think first not of actual punishment, but of chastening, reproving words; and the man to whom are spoken the reproving words is one whose conduct merits more and more severe censure, and continually receives correction from those who are concerned for his welfare. Hitzig regards the first line as a conditional clause: “Is a man of punishment stiff-necked?”.... This is syntactically impossible. Only מקשׁה ערף could have such force: a man of punishment, if he.... But why then did not the author rather write the words והוא מקשׁה ערף ? Why then could not מקשׁה ערף be a co-ordinated further description of the man? Cf. e.g., Ex. 17:21. The door of penitence, to which earnest, well-meant admonition calls a man, does not always remain open. He who with stiff-necked persistence in sin and in self-delusion sets himself in opposition to all endeavours to save his soul, shall one day suddenly, and without the prospect and possibility of restoration (cf. Jeremiah 19:11), become a wreck. Audi doctrinam si vis vitare ruinam .
The general ethical proverb is here followed by one that is political:
2 When the righteous increase, the people rejoice;
And when a godless man ruleth, the people mourn.
Regarding ' בּרבות צדּ (Aquila rightly, ἐν τῷ πληθῦναι δικαίους ), vid., at Proverbs 28:28. If the righteous form the majority, or are in such numbers that they are the party that give the tone, that form the predominant power among the people (Fleischer, cum incrementa capiunt justi ), then the condition of the people is a happy one, and their voice joyful (Proverbs 11:10); if, on the contrary, a godless man or (after Proverbs 28:1) godless men rule, the people are made to sigh ( יאנח עם , with the Gaja, according to rule). “There is reason,” as Hitzig remarks, “why עם should be placed first with, and then without, the article.” In the first case it denotes the people as those among whom there is such an increase of the righteous; in the second case, the article is wanting, because it is not generally used in poetry; and, besides, its absence makes the second line consist of nine syllables, like the first.
This political proverb is now followed by one of general ethics:
3 A man who loveth wisdom delighteth his father;
And he who keepeth company with harlots spendeth his substance.
Line first is a variation of Proverbs 10:1. אישׁ־אהב has, according to rule, the Metheg, cf. 9a. אישׁ is man, without distinction of age, from childhood (Genesis 4:1) up to ripe old age (Isaiah 66:13); love and dutiful relation towards father and mother never cease. Line second reminds of Proverbs 28:7 (cf. Proverbs 13:20).
A series of six proverb follows, beginning with a proverb of the king:
4 A king by righteousness bringeth the land to a good condition;
But a man of taxes bringeth it down.
The Hiph. חעמיד signifies to make it so that a person or matter comes to stand erect and stand fast ( e.g., 1 Kings 15:4); הרס , to tear down, is the contrary of building up and extending (Psalms 28:5), cf. נהרס , opp. רוּם , of the state, Proverbs 11:11. By ' אישׁ תּר is meant the king, or a man of this kind; but it is questionable whether as a man of gifts, i.e., one who lets gifts be made to him (Grotius, Fleischer, Ewald, Bertheau, Zöckler), or as a man of taxes, i.e., who imposes them (Midrash, Aben Ezra, Ralbag, Rosenmüller, Hitzig). Both interpretations are possible, for ' תר means tax (lifting, raising = dedicating), free-will offerings, as well as gifts that are obligatory and required by the laws of nature. Since the word, in the only other place where it occurs, Ezekiel 45:13-16, is used of the relation of the people to the prince, and denotes a legally-imposed tax, so it appears also here, in passing over from the religious sphere to the secular, to be meant of taxes, and that according to its fundamental conception of gifts, i.e., such taxes as are given on account of anything, such as the produce of the soil, manufactures, heritages. Thus also is to be understood Aquila's and Theodotion's ἀνὴρ ἀφαιρεμάτων , and the rendering also of the Venet. ἐράνων . A man on the throne, covetous of such gifts, brings the land to ruin by exacting contributions; on the contrary, a king helps the land to a good position, and an enduring prosperity, by the exercise of right, and that in appointing a well-proportioned and fit measure of taxation.
5 A man who flattereth his neighbour
Spreadeth a net for his steps.
Fleischer, as Bertheau: vir qui alterum blanditiis circumvenit ; but in the על there does not lie in itself a hostile tendency, an intention to do injury; it interchanges with אל , Psalms 36:3, and what is expressed in line second happens also, without any intention on the part of the flatterer: the web of the flatterer before the eyes of a neighbour becomes, if he is caught thereby, a net for him in which he is entangled to his own destruction (Hitzig). החליק signifies also, without any external object, Proverbs 28:23; Proverbs 2:16, as internally transitive: to utter that which is smooth, i.e., flattering. פּעמיו is, as Psalms 57:7 = רגליו , for which it is the usual Phoenician word.
6 In the transgression of the wicked man lies a snare;
But the righteous rejoiceth jubelt and is glad.
Thus the first line is to be translated according to the sequence of the accents, Mahpach, Munach, Munach, Athnach, for the second Munach is the transformation of Dechi; אישׁ רע thus, like אנשׁי־רע , Proverbs 28:5, go together, although the connection is not, like this, genitival, but adjectival. But there is also this sequence of the accents, Munach, Dechi, Munach, Athnach, which separates רע and אישׁ . According to this, Ewald translates: “in the transgression of one lies an evil snare;” but in that case the word ought to have been מוקשׁ רע , as at Proverbs 12:13; for although the numeral רבים sometimes precedes its substantive, yet no other adjective ever does; passages such as Isaiah 28:21 and Isaiah 10:30 do not show the possibility of this position of the words. In this sequence of accents the explanation must be: in the wickedness of a man is the evil of a snare, i.e., evil is the snare laid therein (Böttcher); but a reason why the author did not write מוקשׁ רע would also not be seen there, and thus we must abide by the accentuation אישׁ רע . The righteous also may fall, yet he is again raised by means of repentance and pardon; but in the wickedness of a bad man lies a snare into which having once fallen, he cannot again release himself from it, Proverbs 24:16. In the second line, the form ירוּן , for ירן , is defended by the same metaplastic forms as ישׁוּד , Psalms 91:6; ירוּץ , Isaiah 42:4; and also that the order of the words is not ישׂמח ורנּן (lxx ἐν χαρᾷ καὶ ἐν εὐθροσύνῃ ; Luther: frewet sich und hat wonne [rejoices and has pleasure]), is supported by the same sequence of ideas, Zechariah 2:1-13:14, cf. Jeremiah 31:7: the Jubeln is the momentary outburst of gladness; the Freude gladness, however, is a continuous feeling of happiness. To the question as to what the righteous rejoiceth over [ jubelt ] and is glad [ greuet ] because of, the answer is not: because of his happy release from danger (Zöckler), but: because of the prosperity which his virtue procures for him (Fleischer). But the contrast between the first and second lines is not clear and strong. One misses the expression of the object or ground of the joy. Cocceius introduces into the second line a si lapsus fuerit . Schultens translates, justus vel succumbens triumphabit , after the Arab. rân f . o ., which, however, does not mean succumbere , but subigere ( vid., under Psalms 78:65). Hitzig compares Arab. raym f . i ., discedere, relinquere , and translates: “but the righteous passeth through and rejoiceth.” Böttcher is inclined to read יראה ושׂמח , he sees it (what?) and rejoiceth. All these devices, however, stand in the background compared with Pinsker's proposal ( Babylon.-Heb. Punktationssystem, p. 156):
“On the footsteps of the wicked man lie snares,
But the righteous runneth and is glad,”
i.e., he runneth joyfully (like the sun, Psalms 19:6) on the divinely-appointed way (Psalms 119:132), on which he knows himself threatened by no danger. The change of בפשׁע into בפשׂע has Proverbs 12:13 against it; but ירוץ may be regarded, after Proverbs 4:12, cf. Proverbs 18:10, as the original from which ירון is corrupted.
7 The righteous knoweth the cause of the poor,
But the godless understandeth no knowledge.
The righteous knoweth and recogniseth the righteous claims of people of low estate, i.e., what is due to them as men, and in particular cases; but the godless has no knowledge from which such recognition may go forth (cf. as to the expression, Proverbs 19:25). The proverb begins like Proverbs 12:10, which commends the just man's compassion to his cattle; this commends his sympathy with those who are often treated as cattle, and worse even than cattle. The lxx translates 7b twice: the second time reading רשׁ instead of רשׁע , it makes nonsense of it.
8 Men of derision set the city in an uproar,
But wise men allay anger.
Isa. 28 shows what we are to understand by אנשׁי לצון : men to whom nothing is holy, and who despise all authority. The Hiphil יפיחוּ does not signify irretiunt , from פּחח ( Venet. παγιδιοῦσι , after Kimchi, Aben Ezra, and others), but sufflant , from פוח (Rashi: ילהיבו ): they stir up or excite the city, i.e., its inhabitants, so that they begin to burn as with flames, i.e., by the dissolution of the bonds of mutual respect and of piety, by the letting loose of passion, they disturb the peace and excite the classes of the community and individuals against each other; but the wise bring it about that the breathings of anger that has broken forth, or is in the act of breaking forth, are allayed. The anger is not that of God, as it is rendered by Jerome and Luther, and as יפיחו freely translated might mean. The Aram. err in regard to יפיחו in passages such as Proverbs 6:19.
9 If a wise man has to contend with a fool,
He the fool rageth and laugheth, and hath no rest.
Among the old translators, Jerome and Luther take the “wise man” as subject even of the second line, and that in all its three members: vir sapiens si cum stulto contenderit, sive irascatur sive reideat, non inveniet requiem . Thus Schultens, C. B. Michaelis, Umbreit, Ewald, Elster, and also Fleischer: “The doubled Vav is correlative, as at Exodus 21:16; Leviticus 5:3, and expresses the perfect sameness in respect of the effect, here of the want of effect. If the wise man, when he disputes with a fool, becomes angry, or jests, he will have no rest, i.e., he will never bring it to pass that the fool shall cease to reply; he yields the right to him, and thus makes it possible for him to end the strife.” But the angry passion, and the bursts of laughter alternating therewith, are not appropriate to the wise man affirming his right; and since, after Ecclesiastes 9:17, the words of the wise are heard בּנחח , the ואין נחת [and there is no rest] will cause us to think of the fool as the logical subject. So far correctly, but in other respects inappropriately, the lxx ἀνὴρ σοφὸς κρινεῖ ἔθνη (after the expression עם , i.e., עם , instead of את ), ἀνὴρ δὲ φαῦλος (which אישׁ אויל does not mean) ὀργιζόμενος καταγελᾶται καὶ οὐ καταπτήσσει (as if the words were ולא יחת ).
(Note: According to this the Targum ולא מתתּבר (he remains obstinate), according to which the ולא מתתפיר (he does not lose his wits) of the Peshito is perhaps to be corrected. The distribution of the subjects is obscure.)
The syntactical relation would be simpler if נשׁפּט in 9a were vocalized as a hypothetical perfect. But we read for it the past נשׁפּט . Ewald designates 9a as a conditional clause, and Hitzig remarks that the Lat. viro sapiente disceptante cum stulto corresponds therewith. It marks, like 1 Samuel 2:13; Job 1:16, the situation from which there is a departure then with perf. consec.: if a wise man in the right is in contact with a fool, he starts up, and laughs, and keeps not quiet (supply לּו as at Proverbs 28:27), or (without לו ): there is no keeping quiet, there is no rest. The figure is in accordance with experience. If a wise man has any controversy with a fool, which is to be decided by reasonable and moral arguments, then he becomes boisterous and laughs, and shows himself incapable of quietly listening to his opponent, and of appreciating his arguments.
We now group together Proverbs 29:10-14. Of these, Proverbs 29:10 and Proverbs 29:11 are alike in respect of the tense used; Proverbs 29:12-14 have in common the pronoun pointing back to the first member.
10 Men of blood hate the guiltless
And the upright; they attempt the life of such
The nearest lying translation of the second line would certainly be: the upright seek his soul (that of the guiltless). In accordance with the contrasted ישׂנאו , the Aram. understand the seeking of earnest benevolent seeking, but disregarding the נפשׁ in לנפשׁו ;
(Note: The Targum translates תם , guiltlessness, and the Venet. ( μισοῦσι ) γνῶσιν , turning to Proverbs 1:22.)
Symmachus ( ἐπιζητήσουσι ), Jerome ( quaerunt ), and Luther thus also understand the sentence; and Rashi remarks that the phrase is here לשׁון חבּה , for he rests; but mistrusting himself, refers to 1 Samuel 21:1-15:23. Ahron b. Josef glosses: to enter into friendship with him. Thus, on account of the contrast, most moderns, interpreting the phrase sensu bono, also Fleischer: probi autem vitam ejus conservare student . The thought is, as Proverbs 12:6 shows, correct; but the usus loq. protests against this rendering, which can rest only on Psalms 142:5, where, however, the poet does not say אין דּורשׁ נפשׁי , but, as here also the usus loq. requires, לנפשׁי . There are only three possible explanations which Aben Ezra enumerates: (1) they seek his, the bloody man's, soul, i.e., they attempt his life, to take vengeance against him, according to the meaning of the expressions as generally elsewhere, used, e.g., at Psalms 63:10; (2) they revenge his, the guiltless man's, life (lxx ἐκζητήσουσιν ), which has fallen a victim, after the meaning in which elsewhere only בּקּשׁ דּם and דּרשׁ נפשׁ , Genesis 9:5, occur. This second meaning also is thus not in accordance with the usage of the words, and against both meanings it is to be said that it is not in the spirit of the Book of Proverbs to think of the ישׁרים [the upright, righteous] as executors of the sentences of the penal judicature. There thus remains
(Note: For εὐθεῖς δὲ συνάξουσιν (will bring away?) τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτῶν , understood after Jeremiah 45:5, lies linguistically yet further off.)
the interpretation (3): the upright - they (the bloody men) seek the soul of such an one. The transition from the plur. to the sing. is individualizing, and thus the arrangement of the words is like Genesis 47:21: “And the people (as regards them), he removed them to the cities,” Gesen. §145. 2. This last explanation recommends itself by the consideration that תם and ישׁרים are cognate as to the ideas they represents-let one call to mind the common expression תּם וישׁר [perfect and upright, e.g., Job 1:1; Job 2:3], - that the same persons are meant thereby, and it is rendered necessary by this, that the thought, “bloody men hate the guiltless,” is incomplete; for the same thing may also be said of the godless in general. One expects to hear that just against the guiltless, i.e., men walking in their innocence, the bloody-mindedness of such men is specially directed, and 10b says the same thing; this second clause first brings the contrast to the point aimed at. Lutz is right in seeking to confute Hitzig, but he does so on striking grounds.
11 All his wrath the fool poureth out;
But the wise man husheth it up in the background.
That רוּחו is not meant here of his spirit (Luther) in the sense of quaecunque in mente habet (thus e.g., Fleischer) the contrast shows, for ישׁבּחנּה does not signify cohibet , for which יחשׁכנּה (lxx ταμιεύεται ) would be the proper word: רוּח thus is not here used of passionate emotion, such as at Proverbs 16:31; Isaiah 25:4; Isaiah 33:11. שׁבּח is not here equivalent to Arab. sabbah , αἰνεῖν (Imman., Venet., and Heidenheim), which does not supply an admissible sense, but is equivalent to Arab. sabbakh , to quiet (Ahron b. Josef: קטפיאון = καταπαύειν ), the former going back to the root-idea of extending ( amplificare ), the latter to that of going to a distance, putting away: sabbakh , procul recessit, distitit , hence שׁבּח , Psalms 89:10, and here properly to drive off into the background, synon. השׁיב (Fleischer). But בּאחור (only here with ב ) is ambiguous. One might with Rashi explain: but the wise man finally, or afterwards (Symmachus, ἐπ ̓ ἐσχάτων ; Venet. κατόπιν = κατόπισθε ), appeaseth the anger which the fool lets loose; i.e., if the latter gives vent to his anger, the former appeases, subdues, mitigates it (cf. בּאחרנה , לאחור , Isaiah 42:23). But it lies still nearer to refer the antithesis to the anger of the wise man himself; he does not give to it unbridled course, but husheth it in the background, viz., in his heart. Thus Syr. and Targ. reading בּרעינא , the former, besides יחשּׁבנּה ( reputat eam ), so also Aben Ezra: in the heart as the background of the organ of speech. Others explain: in the background, afterward, retrorsum , e.g., Nolde, but to which compescit would be more appropriate than sedat . Hitzig's objection, that in other cases the expression would be בּקרבּו , is answered by this, that with באחור the idea of pressing back (of אחוּר ) is connected. The order of the words also is in favour of the meaning in recessu ( cordis ). Irae dilatio mentis pacatio (according to an old proverb).
12 A ruler who listens to deceitful words,
All his servants are godless.
They are so because they deceive him, and they become so; for instead of saying the truth which the ruler does not wish to hear, they seek to gain his favour by deceitful flatteries, misrepresentations, exaggerations, falsehoods. Audita rex quae praecipit lex . He does not do this, as the saying is, sicut rex ita grex (Sir. 10:2), in the sense of this proverb of Solomon.
13 The poor man and the usurer meet together -
Jahve lighteneth the eyes of both.
A variation of Proverbs 22:2, according to which the proverb is to be understood in both of its parts. That אישׁ תּככים is the contrast of רשׁ , is rightly supposed in Temura 16b; but Rashi, who brings out here a man of moderate learning, and Saadia, a man of a moderate condition (thus also the Targ. גּברא מצעיא , after Buxtorf, homo mediocris fortunae ), err by connecting the word with תּוך . The lxx δανειστοῦ καὶ χρεωφειλέτου ( ἀλλήλοις συνελθόντων ), which would be more correct inverted, for אישׁ תככים is a man who makes oppressive taxes, high previous payments of interest; the verbal stem תּכך , Arab. tak , is a secondary to R. wak , which has the meanings of pressing together, and pressing firm (whence also the middle is named; cf. Arab. samym âlaklab , the solid = the middle point of the heart). תּך , with the plur. תככים , scarcely in itself denotes interest, τόκος ; the designation אישׁ תככים includes in it a sensible reproach (Syr. afflictor ), and a rentier cannot be so called (Hitzig). Luther: Reiche [rich men], with the marginal note: “who can practise usury as they then generally all do?” Therefore Löwenstein understands the second line after 1 Samuel 2:7: God enlighteneth their eyes by raising the lowly and humbling the proud. But this line, after Proverbs 22:2, only means that the poor as well as the rich owe the light of life (Psalms 13:4) to God, the creator and ruler of all things - a fact which has also its moral side: both are conditioned by Him, stand under His control, and have to give to Him an account; or otherwise rendered: God maketh His sun to rise on the low and the high, the evil and the good (cf. Matthew 5:45) - an all-embracing love full of typical moral motive.
(Note: מאיר has, by Löwenstein, Mehuppach Legarmeh, but incorrectly, since after Legarmeh two conjunctives cannot occur. Also Norzi with Mehuppach Mercha is irregular, since Ben-Asher recognises only two examples of this double accentuation to which this מאיר does not belong; vid., Thorath Emeth, p. 12. That the penultima toning מאיר in several editions is false scarcely needs to be remarked. Jablonski rightly points with Mehuppach on the ult., and Zinnorith on the preceding open syllable.)
14 A king who judgeth the poor with truth,
His throne shall stand for ever.
בּאמת , as at Isaiah 16:5 (synon. באמונה , במישׁרים , במישׁור ), is equivalent to fidelity to duty, or a complete, full accomplishment of his duty as a ruler with reference to the dispensing of justice; in other words: after the norm of actual fact, and of the law, and of his duty proceeding from both together. מלך has in Codd., e.g., Jaman., and in the Venetian 1517, 21, rightly Rebia. In that which follows, שׁופט באמת are more closely related than באמת דלים , for of two conjunctives standing together the first always connects more than the second. מלך שׁופט באמת דלים is the truest representation of the logical grammatical relation. To 14b compare the proverb of the king, Proverbs 16:12; Proverbs 25:5.
A proverb with שׁבט , Proverbs 29:15, is placed next to one with שׁופט , but it begins a group of proverbs regarding discipline in the house and among the people:
15 The rod and reproof give wisdom;
But an undisciplined son is a shame to his mother.
With שׁבט [a rod], which Proverbs 22:15 also commends as salutary, תּוכחת refers to discipline by means of words, which must accompany bodily discipline, and without them is also necessary; the construction of the first line follows in number and gender the scheme Proverbs 27:9, Zechariah 7:7; Ewald, §339c. In the second line the mother is named, whose tender love often degenerates into a fond indulgence; such a darling, such a mother's son, becomes a disgrace to his mother. Our “ ausgelassen ,” by which Hitzig translates משׁלּח , is used of joyfulness unbridled and without self-restraint, and is in the passage before us too feeble a word; שׁלּח is used of animals pasturing at liberty, wandering in freedom (Job 39:5; Isaiah 16:2); נער משׁלח is accordingly a child who is kept in by no restraint and no punishment, one left to himself, and thus undisciplined (Luther, Gesenius, Fleischer, and others).
16 When the godless increase, wickedness increaseth;
But the righteous shall see their fall.
The lxx translation is not bad: πολλῶν ὄντων ἀσεβῶν πολλαὶ γίνονται ἁμαρτίαι ( vid., regarding רבה , Proverbs 29:2, Proverbs 28:28); but in the main it is only a Binsenwahrheit , as they say in Swabia, i.e., a trivial saying. The proverb means, that if among a people the party of the godless increases in number, and at the same time in power, wickedness, i.e., a falling away into sins of thought and conduct, and therewith wickedness, prevails. When irreligion and the destruction of morals thus increase, the righteous are troubled; but the conduct of the godless carries the judgment in itself, and the righteous shall with joy perceive, in the righteous retribution of God, that the godless man will be cast down from his power and influence. This proverb is like a motto to Psalms 12:1-8.
17 Correct thy son, and he will give thee delight,
And afford pleasure to thy soul.
The lxx well translates ויניחך by καὶ ἀναπαύσει σε ;
(Note: Their translation of Proverbs 29:17 and Proverbs 29:18 here is found, in a marred and mutilated form, after Proverbs 28:17. At that place the words are καὶ ἀγαπήσει σε .)
הניח denotes rest properly, a breathing again, ἀνάψυξις ; and then, with an obliteration of the idea of restraint so far, generally (like the Arab. araḥ , compared by Fleischer) to afford pleasure or delight. The post.-bibl. language uses for this the words נחת רוּח , and says of the pious that he makes נחת רוח to his Creator, Berachoth 17a; and of God, that He grants the same to them that fear Him, Berach. 29b; in the morning prayer of the heavenly spirits, that they hallow their Creator בנחת רוח (with inward delight). Write with Codd. (also Jaman.) and older editions ויניחך , not ויניחךּ ; for, except in verbs ' ה ' ל , the suffix of this Hiphil form is not dageshed, e.g., אמיתך , 1 Kings 2:26; cf. also 1 Kings 22:16 and Psalms 50:8. מעדנּים the lxx understands, after 2 Samuel 1:24 ( עם־עדנים , μετὰ κόσμου ), also here, of ornament; but the word signifies dainty dishes - here, high spiritual enjoyment. As in Proverbs 29:15 and Proverbs 29:16 a transition was made from the house to the people, so there now follows the proverb of the discipline of children, a proverb of the education of the people:
18 Without a revelation a people becomes ungovernable;
But he that keepeth the law, happy is he.
Regarding the importance of this proverb for estimating the relation of the Chokma to prophecy, vid., vol. i. p. 41. חזון is, according to the sense, equivalent to נבוּאה , the prophetic revelation in itself, and as the contents of that which is proclaimed. Without spiritual preaching, proceeding from spiritual experience, a people is unrestrained ( יפּרע , vid., regarding the punctuation at Proverbs 28:25, and regarding the fundamental meaning, at Proverbs 1:25); it becomes פּרע , disorderly, Exodus 32:25; wild und wüst , as Luther translates. But in the second line, according to the unity of the antithesis, the words are spoken of the people, not of individuals. It is therefore not to be explained, with Hitzig: but whoever, in such a time, nevertheless holds to the law, it is well with him! Without doubt this proverb was coined at a time when the preaching of the prophets was in vogue; and therefore this, “but whoever, notwithstanding,” is untenable; such a thought at that time could not at all arise; and besides this, תורה is in the Book of Proverbs a moveable conception, which is covered at least by the law in contradistinction to prophecy. Tôra denotes divine teaching, the word of God; whether that of the Sinaitic or that of the prophetic law (2 Chronicles 15:3, cf. e.g., Isaiah 1:10). While, on the one hand, a people is in a dissolute condition when the voice of the preacher, speaking from divine revelation, and enlightening their actions and sufferings by God's word, is silent amongst them (Psalms 74:9, cf. Amos 8:12); on the other hand, that same people are to be praised as happy when they show due reverence and fidelity to the word of God, both as written and as preached. That the word of God is preached among a people belongs to their condition of life; and they are only truly happy when they earnestly and willingly subordinate themselves to the word of God which they possess and have the opportunity of hearing. אשׁרהוּ (defective for אשׁריהוּ ) is the older, and here the poetic kindred form to אשׁריו , Proverbs 14:21; Proverbs 16:20.
From the discipline of the people this series of proverbs again returns to the discipline of home:
19 With words a servant will not let himself be bettered;
For he understandeth them, but conformeth not thereto.
The Niph. נוסר becomes a so-called tolerative, for it connects with the idea of happening that of reaching its object: to become truly bettered (taught in wisdom, corrected), and thus to let himself be bettered. With mere words this is not reached; the unreasonable servant needs, in order to be set right, a more radical means of deliverance. This assertion demands confirmation; therefore is the view of von Hofmann ( Schriftbew. ii. 2. 404) improbable, that 19b has in view a better-disposed servant: supposing that he is intelligent, in which case he is admonished without cause, then the words are also lost: he will let them pass over him in silence without any reply. This attempted explanation is occasioned by this, that מענה can signify nothing else than a response in words. If this were correct, then without doubt its fundamental meaning would correspond with כּי ; for one explains, with Löwenstein, “for he perceives it, and may not answer,” i.e., this, that a reply cut off frustrates the moral impression. Or also: for he understands it, but is silent - in praefractum se silentium configit (Schultens); and thus it is with the ancients (Rashi). But why should not ואין מענה itself be the expression of this want of any consequences? מענה cannot certainly mean humiliation
(Note: The Syr. and Targ. also think on ענה , for they translate: “for he knows that he receives no strokes.”)
(Meîri, after Exodus 10:3, הכנעה ), but why as an answer in words and not also a response by act (Stuart: a practical answer)? Thus the lxx ἐὰν γὰρ καὶ νοήσῃ, ἀλλ ̓ οὐχ ὑπακούσεται , according to which Luther: for although he at once understands it, he does not yet take it to himself. That מענה tahT . may mean obedience, the Aram. so understood, also at Proverbs 16:4. It denoted a reply in the most comprehensive meaning of the word, vid., at Proverbs 16:1. The thought, besides, is the same as if one were to explain: for he understands it, and is silent, i.e., lets thee speak; or: he understands it, but that which he perceives finds no practical echo.
20 Seest thou a man hasty in his words?
The fool hath more hope than he.
Cf. Proverbs 26:12. Such an one has blocked up against himself the path to wisdom, which to the fool, i.e., to the ingenuous, stands open; the former is perfect, of the latter something may yet be made. In this passage the contrast is yet more precise, for the fool is thought of as the dull, which is the proper meaning of כּסיל , vid., under Proverbs 17:24. There is more hope for the fool than for him, although he may be no fool in himself, who overthrows himself by his words. “The προπετὴς ἐν λόγῳ αὐτοῦ (Sir. 9:18) has, in the existing case, already overleaped the thought; the כסיל has it still before him, and comes at length, perhaps with his slow conception, to it” (Hitzig); for the ass, according to the fable, comes at last farther than the greyhound. Hence, in words as well as in acts, the proverb holds good, “ Eile mit Weile ” [= festina lente ]. Every word, as well as act, can only be matured by being thought out, and thought over. From this proverb, which finds its practical application to the affairs of a house, and particularly also to the relation to domestics, the group returns to the subject of instruction, which is its ground-tone.
21 If one pampers his servant from youth up,
He will finally reach the place of a child.
The lxx had no answer to the question as to the meaning of מנון . On the other hand, for פּנּק , the meaning to fondle; delicatius enutrire , is perfectly warranted by the Aram. and Arab. The Talmud, Succa 52b, resorts to the alphabet בח '' אט in order to reach a meaning for מנון . How the Targ. comes to translate the word by מנסּח (outrooted) is not clear; the rendering of Jerome: postea sentiet eum contumacem , is perhaps mediated by the ἔσται γογγυσμός of Symmachus, who combines נון with לון , Niph. γογγύζειν . The ὀθυνηθήσεται of the lxx, with the Syr., von Hofmann has sought to justify ( Schriftbew. ii. 2. 404), for he derives מנון = מנהון from נהה . We must then punctuate מנּון ; but perhaps the lxx derived the word from אנן = מאנון , whether they pronounced it מנון (cf. מסרת = מאסרת ) or מנּון . To follow them is not wise, for the formation of the word is precarious; one does not see with the speaker of this proverb, to whom the language presented a fulness of synonyms for the idea of complaint, meant by using this peculiar word. Linguistically these meanings are impossible: of Jerome, dominus = ממנּה (Ahron b. Josef, Meîri, and others); or: the oppressed = מוּנה , from ינה (Johlson); or: one who is sick = מונה (Euchel). and Ewald's “ undankbar ” [unthankful], derived from the Arabic, is a mere fancy, since (Arab.) manuwan does not mean one who is unthankful, but, on the contrary, one who upbraids good deeds shown.
(Note: In Jahrb. xi. p. 10f. Ewald compares, in an expressive way, the Ethiopic mannána ( Piel) to scorn; menûn , a reprobate; and mannânı̂ , one who is despised; according to which מנון hcih could certainly designate “a man despising scornfully his own benefactors, or an unthankful man.” But this verbal stem is peculiarly Ethiop., and is certainly not once found in Arab. For minnat (which Ewald compares) denotes benefaction, and the duty laid on one thereby, the dependence thereby produced. The verb (Arab.) minn (= מנן ) signifies to divide; and particularly, partly to confer benefaction, partly to attribute benefaction, reckon to, enumerate, and thereby to bring out the sense of obligation. Thus nothing is to be derived from this verbal stem for מנון .)
The ancients are in the right track, who explain מנון after the verb נוּן , Psalms 72:17 = נין = בּן ; the Venet., herein following Kimchi, also adopts the nominal form, for it translates (but without perceptible meaning) γόνωσις . Luther's translation is fortunate:
“If a servant is tenderly treated from youth up,
He will accordingly become a Junker [squire].”
The ideas represented in modern Jewish translations: that of a son ( e.g., Solomon: he will at last be the son) and that of a master (Zunz), are here united. But how the idea of a son (from the verb נון ), at the same time that of a master, may arise, is not to be perceived in the same way as with Junker and the Spanish infante and hidalgo ; rather with מנון , as the ironical naming of the son (little son), the idea of a weakling (de Wette) may be connected. The state of the matter appears as follows: - the Verb נוּן has the meanings of luxuriant growth, numerous propagation; the fish has from this the Aram. name of נוּן , like the Heb. דּג , from דּגה , which also means luxuriant, exuberant increase ( vid., at Psalms 72:17). From this is derived נין , which designates the offspring as a component part of a kindred, as well as מנון , which, according as the מ is interpreted infin. or local, means either this, that it sprouts up luxuriantly, the abundant growth, or also the place of luxuriant sprouting, wanton growing, abundant and quick multiplication: thus the place of hatching, spawning. The subject in יהיה might be the fondled one; but it lies nearer, however, to take him who fondles as the subject, as in 21a. אחריתו is either adv. accus. for באחריתו , or, as we preferred at Proverbs 23:32, it is the subj. introducing, after the manner of a substantival clause, the following sentence as its virtual predicate: “one has fondled his servant from his youth up, and his (that of the one who fondles) end is: he will become a place of increase.” The master of the house is thought of along with his house; and the servant as one who, having become a man, presents his master with ילידי בּית , who are spoilt scapegraces, as he himself has become by the pampering of his master. There was used in the language of the people, נין for בּן , in the sense on which we name a degenerate son a “ Schönes Früchtchen ” [pretty little fruit]; and מנון is a place (house) where many נינים are; and a man (master of a house) who has many of them is one whose family has increased over his head. One reaches the same meaning if מנון is rendered more immediately as the place or state of growing, increasing, luxuriating. The sense is in any case: he will not be able, in the end, any more to defend himself against the crowd which grows up to him from this his darling, but will be merely a passive part of it.
The following group begins with a proverb which rhymes by מדון , with מנון of the foregoing, and extends on to the end of this Hezekiah collection:
22 A man of anger stirreth up strife;
And a passionate man aboundeth in transgression.
Line first is a variation of Proverbs 15:18 and Proverbs 28:25. אישׁ and בּעל as here, but in the reverse order at Proverbs 22:24.
(Note: For אישׁ־אף (Löwenstein after Norzi) is to be written, with Baer ( Thorath Emeth, p. 19), אישׁ אף ,)91 . Thus also in Cod. Jaman.)
אף here means anger, not the nose, viz., the expanded nostrils (Schultens). In רב־פּשׁע the פשׁע is, after Proverbs 14:29; Proverbs 28:16; Proverbs 20:27, the governed genitive; Hitzig construes it in the sense of פשׁע רב , Psalms 19:2, with יגרה , but one does not say גּרה פשׁע ; and that which is true of רבּים , that, after the manner of a numeral, it can precede its substantive ( vid., under Ps. 7:26; Psalms 89:51), cannot be said of רב . Much (great) in wickedness denotes one who heaps up many wicked actions, and burdens himself with greater guilt (cf. פשׁע , Proverbs 29:16). The wrathful man stirreth up ( vid., under Proverbs 15:18) strife, for he breaks through the mutual relations of men, which rest on mutual esteem and love, and by means of his passionate conduct he makes enemies of those against whom he thinks that he has reason for being angry; that on account of which he is angry can be settled without producing such hostility, but passion impels him on, and misrepresents the matter; it embitters hearts, and tears them asunder. The lxx has, instead of רב , ἐξώρυξεν , of dreaming, כרה (Proverbs 16:27).
Proverbs 29:23 passes from anger to haughtiness:
A man's pride will bring him low;
But the lowly attaineth to honour.
Thus we translate תּתמך כּבוד (Lat. honorem obtinet ) in accord with Proverbs 11:16, and שׁפל־רוּח with Proverbs 16:19, where, however, שׁפל is not adj. as here, but inf. The haughty man obscures the honour which he has by this, that he boasts immeasurably of it, and aspires yet more after it; the lowly man, on the other hand, obtains honour without his seeking it, honour before God and before men, which would be of no worth were it not connected with the honour before God. The lxx: τοὺς δὲ ταπεινόφρονας ἐπείδει δόξῃ κύριους . This κύριους is indeed not contrary to the sense, but it is opposed to the style. Why the 24th verse should now follow is, as regards the contents and the expression, hard to say; but one observes that Proverbs 29:22-27 follow each other, beginning with the successive letters of the alphabet א ( ב ), ג , ח , ח , ר , ת ( ת ).
24 He that taketh part with a thief hateth himself;
He heareth the oath and confesseth not.
Hitzig renders the first member as the pred. of the second: “he who does not bring to light such sins as require an atonement (Leviticus 5:1.), but shares the secret of them with the sinner, is not better than one who is a partner with a thief, who hateth himself.” The construction of the verse, he remarks, is not understood by any interpreter. It is not, however, so cross, - for, understood as Hitzig thinks it ought to be, the author should have expressed the subject by שׁמע אלה ולא יגיד , - but is simple as the order of the words and the verbal form require it. The oath is, after Leviticus 5:1, that of the judge who adjures the partner of the thief by God to tell the truth; but he conceals it, and burdens his soul with a crime worthy of death, for from a concealer he becomes in addition a perjured man.
25 Fear of man bringeth a snare with it;
But he that trusteth in Jahve is advanced.
It sounds strange, Hitzig remarks, that here in the Book of an Oriental author one should be warned against the fear of man. It is enough, in reply to this, to point to Isaiah 51:12. One of the two translations in the lxx (cf. Jerome and Luther) has found this “strange” thought not so strange as not to render it, and that in the gnomic aorist: φοβηθέντες καὶ αἰσχυνθέντες ἀνθρώπους ὑπεσκελίσθησαν . And why should not חרדּת אדם be able to mean the fear of man (cowardice)? Perhaps not so that אדם is the gen. objecti, but so that חרדת אדם means to frighten men, as in 1 Samuel 14:15. חרדת אלהים , a trembling of God; cf. Psalms 64:2; פחד איב , the fear occasioned by the enemy, although this connection, after Deuteronomy 2:25, can also mean fear of the enemy ( gen. objecti). To יתּן , occasioned = brings as a consequence with it, cf. Proverbs 10:10; Proverbs 13:15; the synallage generis is as at Proverbs 12:25: it is at least strange with fem. infinit. and infinitival nouns, Proverbs 16:16; Proverbs 25:14; Psalms 73:28; but חרדּה (trembling) is such a nom. actionis, Ewald, §238a. Regarding ישׂגּב (for which the lxx. 1 σωθήσεται , and lxx 2 εὐφρανθήσεται = ישׂמח ), vid., at Proverbs 18:10. He who is put into a terror by a danger with which men threaten him, so as to do from the fear of man what is wrong, and to conceal the truth, falls thereby into a snare laid by himself - it does not help him that by this means he has delivered himself from the danger, for he brands himself as a coward, and sins against God, and falls into an agony of conscience (reproach and anguish of heart) which is yet worse to bear than the evil wherewith he was threatened. It is only confidence in God that truly saves. The fear of man plunges him into yet greater suffering than that from which he would escape; confidence in God, on the other hand, lifts a man internally, and at last externally, above all his troubles.
A similar gen. connection to that between חרדת אדם exists between משׁפט־אישׁ :
Many seek the countenance of the ruler;
Yet from Jahve cometh the judgment of men.
Line first is a variation of Proverbs 19:6, cf. 1 Kings 10:24. It lies near to interpret אישׁ as gen. obj.: the judgment regarding any one, i.e., the estimating of the man, the decision regarding him; and it is also possible, for משׁפּטי , Psalms 17:2, may be understood of the judgment which I have, as well as of the judgment pronounced regarding me (cf. Lamentations 3:59). But the usage appears to think of the genit. after משׁפט always as subjective, e.g., Proverbs 16:33, of the decision which the lot brings, Job 36:6, the right to which the poor have a claim; so that thus in the passage before us משׁפט־אשׁ means the right of a man, as that which is proper or fitting to him, the judgment of a man, as that to which as appropriate he has a claim (lxx τὸ δίκαιον ἀνδρί ). Whether the genit. be rendered in the one way or the other, the meaning remains the same: it is not the ruler who finally decides the fate and determines the worth of a man, as they appear to think who with eye-service court his favour and fawn upon him.
27 An abomination to a righteous man is a villanous man;
And an abomination to the godless is he who walketh uprightly.
In all the other proverbs which begin with תועבת , e.g., Proverbs 11:20, יהוה follows as genit., here צדּיקים , whose judgment is like that of God. אישׁ עול is an abhorrence to them, not as a man, but just as of such a character; עול is the direct contrast to ישׁר . The righteous sees in the villanous man, who boldly does that which is opposed to morality and to honour, an adversary of his God; on the other hand, the godless sees in the man that walketh uprightly ( ישׁר־דּרך , as at Psalms 37:14) his adversary, and the condemnation of himself.
With this doubled ת the Book of Proverbs, prepared by the men of Hezekiah, comes to an end. It closes, in accordance with its intention announced at the beginning, with a proverb concerning the king, and a proverb of the great moral contrasts which are found in all circles of society up to the very throne itself.
The Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Proverbs 29". Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent