Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at sacred-texts.com
The plur. רעים, Pro 18:24, is emphatic and equivalent to רעים רבּים. The group Pro 19:1-4 closes with a proverb which contains this catchword. The first proverb of the group comes by שׂפתיו into contact with Pro 18:20, the first proverb of the preceding group.
1 Better a poor man walking in his innocence,
Than one with perverse lips, and so a fool.
The contrast, Pro 28:6, is much clearer. But to correct this proverb in conformity with that, as Hitzig does, is unwarrantable. The Syr., indeed, translates here as there; but the Chald. assimilates this translation to the Heb. text, which Theodotion, and after him the Syro-Hexapl., renders by ὑπὲρ στρεβλόχειλον ἄφρονα. But does 1a form a contrast to 1b? Fleischer remarks: "From the contrast it appears that he who is designated in 1b must be thought of as עשׁיר" [rich]; and Ewald, "Thus early the ideas of a rich man and of a fool, or a despiser of God, are connected together." Saadia understands כסיל [a fool], after Job 31:24, of one who makes riches his כּסל [confidence]. Euchel accordingly translates: the false man, although he builds himself greatly up, viz., on his riches. But כסיל designates the intellectually slothful, in whom the flesh overweighs the mind. And the representation of the rich, which, for 1b certainly arises out of 1a, does not amalgamate with כסיל htiw , but with עקּשׁ שׂפתיו. Arama is on the right track, for he translates: the rich who distorts his mouth, for he gives to the poor suppliant a rude refusal. Better Zckler: a proud man of perverse lips and haughty demeanour. If one with haughty, scornful lips is opposed to the poor, then it is manifestly one not poor who thinks to raise himself above the poor, and haughtily looks down on him. And if it is said that, in spite of this proud demeanour, he is a fool, then this presents the figure of one proud of his wealth, who, in spite of his emptiness and nequitia, imagines that he possesses a greatness of knowledge, culture, and worth corresponding to the greatness of his riches. How much better is a poor man than such an one who walketh (vid., on תּם, vol. i, p. 79) in his innocence and simplicity, with his pure mind wholly devoted to God and to that which is good! - his poverty keeps him in humility which is capable of no malicious conduct; and this pious blameless life is of more worth than the pride of wisdom of the distinguished fool. There is in contrast to עקּשׁוּת a simplicity, ἁπλότης, of high moral worth; but, on the other side, there is also a simplicity which is worthless. This is the connecting thought which introduces the next verse.
2 The not-knowing of the soul is also not good,
And he who hasteneth with the legs after it goeth astray.
Fleischer renders נפשׁ as the subj. and לא־טוב as neut. pred.: in and of itself sensual desire is not good, but yet more so if it is without foresight and reflection. With this explanation the words must be otherwise accentuated. Hitzig, in conformity with the accentuation, before us: if desire is without reflection, it is also without success. But where נפשׁ denotes desire or sensuality, it is always shown by the connection, as e.g., Pro 23:2; here דּעת, referring to the soul as knowing (cf. Psa 139:14), excludes this meaning. But נפשׁ is certainly gen. subjecti; Luzzatto's "self-knowledge" is untenable, for this would require דעת נפשׁו; Meri rightly glosses נפשׁ דעת by שׂכל. After this Zckler puts Hitzig's translation right in the following manner: where there is no consideration of the soul, there is no prosperity. But that also is incorrect, for it would require אין־טוב; לא־טוב is always pred., not a substantival clause. Thus the proverb states that בלא־דעת נפשׁ is not good, and that is equivalent to היות בלא־דעת נפשׁ (for the subject to לא־טוב is frequently, as e.g., Pro 17:26; Pro 18:5, an infinitive); or also: בלא־דעת נפשׁ is a virtual noun in the sense of the not-knowing of the soul; for to say לא־דעת was syntactically inadmissible, but the expression is בלא־דעת, not בּלי דעת (בּבלי), because this is used in the sense unintentionally or unexpectedly. The גּם which begins the proverb is difficult. If we lay the principal accent in the translation given above on "not good," then the placing of גם first is a hyperbaton similar to that in Pro 17:26; Pro 20:11; cf. אך, Pro 17:11; רק, Pro 13:10, as if the words were: if the soul is without knowledge, then also (eo ipso) it is destitute of anything good. But if we lay the principal accent on the "also," then the meaning of the poet is, that ignorance of the soul is, like many other things, not good; or (which we prefer without on that account maintaining
(Note: The old interpreters and also the best Jewish interpreters mar the understanding and interpretation of the text, on the one side, by distinguishing between a nearest and a deeper meaning of Scripture (דרך נגלה and דרך נסתר); on the other by this, that they suppose an inward connection of all the proverbs, and expend useless ingenuity in searching after the connection. The former is the method especially adopted by Immanuel and Meri, the latter has most of all been used by Arama.)
the original connection of Pro 19:1 and Pro 19:2), that as on the one side the pride of wisdom, so on the other ignorance is not good. In this case גם belongs more to the subject than to the predicate, but in reality to the whole sentence at the beginning of which it stands. To hasten with the legs (אץ, as Pro 28:20) means now in this connection to set the body in violent agitation, without direction and guidance proceeding from the knowledge possessed by the soul. He who thus hastens after it without being intellectually or morally clear as to the goal and the way, makes a false step, goes astray, fails (vid., Pro 8:36, where חטאי is the contrast to מצאי).
3 The foolishness of a man overturneth his way,
And his heart is angry against Jahve.
Regarding סלף, vid., at Pro 11:3; also the Arab. signification "to go before" proceeds from the root conception pervertere, for first a letting precede, or preceding (e.g., of the paying before the delivery of that which is paid for: salaf, a pre-numbering, and then also: advanced money), consisting in the reversal of the natural order, is meant. The way is here the way of life, the walking: the folly of a man overturns, i.e., destroys, his life's-course; but although he is himself the fabricator of his own ruin, yet the ill-humour (זעף, aestuare, vid., at Psa 11:6) of his heart turns itself against God, and he blames (lxx essentially correct: αἰτιᾶται) God instead of himself, viz., his own madness, whereby he has turned the grace of God into lasciviousness, cast to the winds the instruction which lay in His providences, and frustrated the will of God desiring his good. A beautiful paraphrase of this parable is found at Sir. 15:11-20; cf. Lam 3:39.
4 Wealth bringeth many friends;
But the reduced - his friend separateth himself.
The very same contrast, though otherwise expressed, we had at Pro 14:20. Regarding הון, vid., vol. i, p. 63. דל is the tottering, or he who has fallen into a tottering condition, who has no resources, possesses no means. The accentuation gives Mugrash to the word (according to which the Targ. translates), for it is not the subject of יפּרד: the reduced is separated (pass. Niph.) by his misfortunes, or must separate himself (reflex. Niph.) from his friend (מרעהוּ, as Ecc 4:4, prae socio suo); but subject of the virtual pred. מרעהוּ יפּרד: the reduced - his friend (מרעהו, as Pro 19:7) separates himself, i.e., (according to the nature of the Semitic substantival clause) he is such (of such a fate) that his friend sets himself free, whereby ממּנּוּ may be omitted as self-obvious; נפרד means one who separates himself, Pro 18:1. If we make דל the subject of the separatur, then the initiative of the separation from the friend is not expressed.
In Pro 19:5 and Pro 19:9 we have the introductory proverb of two groups, the former of which, in its close as well as its beginning, cannot be mistaken.
5 A lying witness remaineth not unpunished;
And he who breathes out lies escapeth not.
Regarding יפיח, vid., vol. i, p. 148: as here we read it of false witness at Pro 6:19; Pro 14:5, Pro 14:25. לא ינּקה occurs four times before, the last of which is at Pro 17:5. The lxx elsewhere translates יפיח כזבים by ἐκκαίειν ψευδῆ, to kindle lies; but here by ὁ δὲ ἐκαλῶν ἀδίκως, and at Pro 19:9 by ὃς δ ̓ ἂν ἐκκαύσῃ κακίαν, both times changing only because ψευδής goes before, and instead of ψευδῆ, the choice of a different rendering commended itself.
6 Many stroke the cheeks of the noble;
And the mass of friends belongeth to him who gives.
The phrase 'חלּות פּני פל signifies to stroke the face of any one, from the fundamental meaning of the verb חלה, to rub, to stroke, Arab. khala, with which the Heb., meaning to be sick, weak (viribus attritum esse), and the Arabic: to be sweet (properly laevem et politum, glabrum esse, or palatum demulcere, leniter stringere, contrast asperum esse ad gustum), are connected (Fl.). The object of such insinuating, humble suing for favour is the נדיב (from נדב, instigare), the noble, he who is easily incited to noble actions, particularly to noble-mindedness in bestowing gifts and in doing good, or who feels himself naturally impelled thereto, and spontaneously practises those things; cf. the Arab. krym, nobilis and liberalis (Fl.), and at Job 21:28; parall. אישׁ מתּן, a man who gives willingly, as אישׁ חמה, Pro 15:18, one who is easily kindled into anger. Many (רבּים, as Job 11:19) stroke the face of the liberal (Lat. caput mulcent or demulcent); and to him who gives willingly and richly belongs כל־הרע, the mass (the totality) of good friends, cf. Pro 15:17; there the art. of הרע, according to the manner of expression of the Arab. grammarians, stood for "the exhaustion of the characteristic properties of the genus": the friend who corresponds to the nature (the idea) of such an one; here it stands for "the comprehension of the individuals of the genus;" all that is only always friend. It lies near with Ewald and Hitzig to read וכלּה רע (and every one is friend...) (כלּה = כלּו, as Jer 8:10, etc.); but why could not כל־הרע be used as well as כל־האדם, perhaps with the sarcastic appearance which the above translation seeks to express? The lxx also had וכל הרע in view, which it incorrectly translates πᾶς δὲ ὁ κακός, whereby the Syr. and the Targ. are led into error; but מתּן is not one and the same with שׂחד, vid., Pro 18:6. On the contrary, there certainly lies before us in Pro 19:7 a mutilated text. The tristich is, as we have shown, vol. i, p. 15, open to suspicion; and the violence which its interpretation needs in order to comprehend it, as a formal part of 7ab, places it beyond a doubt, and the lxx confirms it that 7c is the remainder of a distich, the half of which is lost.
7ab. We thus first confine our attention to these two lines -
All the brethren of the poor hate him;
How much more do his friends withdraw themselves from him?
Regarding אף כּי, quanto magis, vid., at Pro 11:31; Pro 15:11; Pro 17:7. In a similar connection Pro 14:20 spake of hatred, i.e., the cooling of love, and the manifesting of this coldness. The brethren who thus show themselves here, unlike the friend who has become a brother, according to Pro 17:17, are brothers-german, including kindred by blood relation. כּל has Mercha, and is thus without the Makkeph, as at Psa 35:10 (vid., the Masora in Baer's Liber Psalmorum, 1861, p. 133). Kimchi (Michlol 205a), Norzi, and others think that cāl (with קמץ רחב) is to be read as at Isa 40:12, where כּלו is a verb. But that is incorrect. The case is the same as with את, Pro 3:12; Psa 47:5; Psa 60:2. As here ě with Mercha remains, so ǒ with Mercha in that twice occurring כּלו; that which is exceptional is this, that the accentuated כל is written thus twice, not as the usual כּל, but as כּל with the Makkeph. The ground of the exception lies, as with other peculiarities, in the special character of metrical accentuation; the Mercha represents the place of the Makkeph, and ā thus remains in the unchanged force of a Kametz-Chatuph. The plur. רחקוּ does not stamp מרעהוּ as the defectively written plur.; the suffix ēhu is always sing., and the sing. is thus, like הרע, 6b, meant collectively, or better: generally (in the sense of kind), which is the linguistic usage of these two words, Sa1 30:26; Job 42:10. But it is worthy of notice that the Masoretic form here is not מרעהוּ, but mמרעהוּ, with Sheva. The Masora adds to it the remark לית, and accordingly the word is thus written with Sheva by Kimchi (Michlol 202a and Lex. under the word רעה), in Codd., and older editions. The Venet., translating by ἀπὸ τοῦ φίλου αὐτοῦ, has not noticed that. But how? Does the punctuation מרעהו mean that the word is here to be derived from מרע, maleficus? Thus understood, it does not harmonize with the line of thought. From this it is much more seen that the punctuation of the inflected מרע, amicus, fluctuates. This word מרע is a formation so difficult of comprehension, that one might almost, with Olshausen, 210; Bttcher, 794; and Lagarde, regard the מ as the partitive מן, like the French des amis (cf. Eurip. Med. 560: πένητα φεύγει πᾶς τις ἐκποδὼν φίλος), or: something of friend, a piece of friend, while Ewald and others regard it as possible that מרע is abbreviated from מרעה. The punctuation, since it treats the Tsere in מרעהו, 4b
(Note: In vol. i. p. 266, we have acknowledged מרעהו, from מרע, friend, only for Pro 19:7, but at Pro 19:4 we have also found amicus ejus more probable than ab amico suo (= מן רעהו).) and elsewhere, as unchangeable, and here in מרעהו as changeable, affords proof that in it also the manner of the formation of the word was incomprehensible.
Seeking after words which are vain.
7c. If now this line belongs to this proverb, then מרדּף must be used of the poor, and לא־המּה, or לו־המּה (vid., regarding the 15 Kers, לּו for לא, at Psa 100:3), must be the attributively nearer designation of the אמרים. The meaning of the Kerı̂ would be: he (the poor man) hunts after mere words, which - but no actions corresponding to them - are for a portion to him. This is doubtful, for the principal matter, that which is not a portion to him, remains unexpressed, and the לו־המּה eht [to him they belong] affords only the service of guarding one against understanding by the אמרים the proper words of the poor. This service is not in the same way afforded by לא המּה they are not; but this expression characterizes the words as vain, so that it is to be interpreted according to such parallels as Hos 12:2 : words which are not, i.e., which have nothing in reality corresponding to them, verba nihili, i.e., the empty assurances and promises of his brethren and friends (Fl.). The old translators all
(Note: Lagarde erroneously calls Theodotion's ῥήσεις οὐκ αὐτῷ a translation of the Kerı̂; οὐκ is, however, לא, and instead of αὐτῷ the expression αὐτῶν, which is the translation of המה, is also found.)
read לא, and the Syr. and Targ. translate not badly: מלּוי לא שׁריר; Symmachus, ῥήσεσιν ἀνυπάρκτοις. The expression is not to be rejected: לא היה sometimes means to come to לא, i.e., to nothing, Job 6:21; Eze 21:32, cf. Isa 15:6; and לא הוּא, he is not = has no reality, Jer 5:12, אמרים לא־המה, may thus mean words which are nothing (vain). But how can it be said of the poor whom everything forsakes, that one dismisses him with words behind which there is nothing, and now also that he pursues such words? The former supposes always a sympathy, though it be a feigned one, which is excluded by שׂנאהוּ [they hate him] and רחקוּ [withdraw themselves]; and the latter, spoken of the poor, would be unnatural, for his purposed endeavour goes not out after empty talk, but after real assistance. So 7c: pursuing after words which (are) nothing, although in itself not falling under critical suspicion, yet only of necessity is connected with this proverb regarding the poor. The lxx, however, has not merely one, but even four lines, and thus two proverbs following 7b. The former of these distichs is: Ἔννοια ἀγαθὴ τοῖς εἰδόσιν αὐτὴν ἐγγιεῖ, ἀνὴρ δὲ φρόνιμος εὑρήσει αὐτήν; it is translated from the Hebr. (ἔννοια ἀγαθή, Pro 5:2 = מזמּות), but it has a meaning complete in itself, and thus has nothing to do with the fragment 7c. The second distich is: Ὁ πολλὰ κακοποιῶν τελεσιουργεῖ κακίαν, ὃ δὲ ἐρεθίζει λόγους οὐ σωθήσεται. This ὃς δὲ ἐρεθίζει λόγους is, without doubt, a translation of מרדף אמרים (7c); λόγους is probably a corruption of λόγοις (thus the Complut.), not, he who pursueth words, but he who incites by words, as Homer (Il. iv. 5f.) uses the expression ἐρεθιζέμεν ἐπέεσσι. The concluding words, οὐ σωθήσεται, are a repetition of the Heb. לא ימלט (cf. lxx 19:5 with 28:26), perhaps only a conjectural emendation of the unintelligible לא המה. Thus we have before us in that ὁ πολλὰ κακοποιῶν, κ.τ.λ., the line lost from the Heb. text; but it is difficult to restore it to the Heb. We have attempted it, vol. i, p. 15. Supposing that the lxx had before them לא המה, then the proverb is -
"He that hath many friends is rewarded with evil,
Hunting after words which are nothing;"
i.e., since this his courting the friendship of as many as possible is a hunting after words which have nothing after them and come to nothing.
8 He that getteth understanding loveth his soul,
And he that values reasonableness will acquire good;
or, more closely, since this would be the translation of ימצא טוב, Pro 16:20; Pro 17:20 : so it happens, or it comes to this, that he acquires good (= היה למצא); the inf. with ל is here, as at Pro 18:24, the expression of a fut. periphrasticum, as in the Lat. consecturus est. Regarding קנה־לּב, vid., Pro 15:32, and שׁמר תּבוּנה vol. i. p. 119. That the deportment of men is either care for the soul, or the contrary of that, is a thought which runs through the Book of Proverbs.
The group of proverbs (Pro 19:9-16) now following begins and closes in the same way as the preceding.
9 A lying witness doth not remain unpunished,
And one who breathes out lies perisheth,
or goeth to ruin, for אבד (R. בד, to divide, separate) signifies to lose oneself in the place of the separated, the dead (Arab. in the infinite). In Pro 19:5, instead of this ἀπολεῖται (lxx), the negative οὐ σωθήσεται is used, or as the lxx there more accurately renders it, οὐ διαφεύξεται.
10 Luxury becometh not a fool;
How much less a servant to rule over princes.
Thus also with לא נאוה (3 p. Pil. non decet, cf. the adj. Pro 26:1) Pro 17:7 begins. אף כּי rises here, as at Pro 19:7, a minori ad majus: how much more is it unbecoming = how much less is it seemly. The contrast in the last case is, however, more rugged, and the expression harsher. "A fool cannot bear luxury: he becomes by it yet more foolish; one who was previously a humble slave, but who has attained by good fortune a place of prominence and power, from being something good, becomes at once something bad: an insolent sceleratus" (Fl.). Agur, xxx. 22f., describes such a homo novus as an unbearable calamity; and the author of the Book of Ecclesiastes, written in the time of the Persian domination, speaks, Ecc 10:7, of such. The lxx translates, καὶ ἐὰν οἰκέτης ἄρξηται μεθ ̓ ὕβρεως δυναστεύειν, rendering the phrase כּשׂרים by μεθ ̓ ὕβρεως, but all other translators had בּשׂרים before them.
11 The discretion of a man maketh him long-suffering,
And it is a glory for him to be forbearing toward transgression.
The Syr., Targum, Aquila, and Theodotion translate האריך אפו by μακροθυμία, and thus read האריך; but Rashi, Kimchi, and others remark that האריך is here only another vocalization for האריך, which is impossible. The Venet. also translates: Νοῦς ἀνθρώπου μηκυνεῖ τὸν θυμὸν ἑαυτοῦ; the correct word would be αὐτοῦ: the discretion (intellectus or intelligentia; vid., regarding שׂכל, Pro 3:4) of a man extends his anger, i.e., brings it about that it continues long before it breaks out (vid., Pro 14:29). One does not stumble at the perf. in view of Pro 19:7, Pro 18:8; Pro 16:26, and the like; in the proverbial style the fut. or the particip. is more common. In the synonymous parallel member, תפארתּו points to man as such: it is an honour to him to pass by a transgression (particularly that which affects himself), to let it go aside, i.e., to forbear revenge or punishment (cf. Arab. tjâwz 'aly); thus also the divine πάρεσις (Rom 3:25) is designated by Mic 7:18; and in Amo 7:8; Amo 8:2, עבד stands absol. for the divine remission or passing by, i.e., unavenging of sin.
12 A murmuring as of a lion is the wrath of the king,
And as dew on plants is his favour.
Line 1 is a variation of Pro 20:2; line 2a of Pro 16:15. זעף is not the being irritated against another, but generally ill-humour, fretfulness, bad humour; the murmuring or growling in which this state of mind expresses itself is compared to that of a lion which, growling, prepares and sets itself to fall upon its prey (vid., Isa 5:29, cf. Amo 3:4). Opposed to the זעף stands the beneficial effect of the רצון, i.e., of the pleasure, the delight, the satisfaction, the disposition which shows kindness (lxx τὸ ἱλαρὸν αὐτοῦ). In the former case all are afraid; in the latter, everything lives, as when the refreshing dew falls upon the herbs of the field. The proverb presents a fact, but that the king may mirror himself in it.
13 A foolish son is destruction for his father,
And a continual dropping are the contentions of a wife.
Regarding הוּת, vid., at Pro 17:4, cf. Pro 10:3. Line 2a is expanded, Pro 27:15, into a distich. The dropping is טרד, properly striking (cf. Arab. tirad, from tarad III, hostile assault) when it pours itself forth, stroke (drop) after stroke = constantly, or with unbroken continuity. Lightning-flashes are called (Jer Berachoth, p. 114, Shitomir's ed.) טורדין, opp. מפסיקין, when they do not follow in intervals, but constantly flash; and b. Bechoroth 44a; דומעות, weeping eyes, דולפות, dropping eyes, and טורדות, eyes always flowing, are distinguished. An old interpreter (vid., R. Ascher in Pesachim II No. 21) explains דלף טרד by: "which drops, and drops, and always drops." An Arab proverb which I once heard from Wetzstein, says that there are three things which make our house intolerable: âlṭaḳḳ (= âldhalf), the trickling through of rain; âlnaḳḳ, the contention of the wife; and âlbaḳḳ, bugs.
14 House and riches are a paternal inheritance,
But from Jahve cometh a prudent wife.
House and riches (opulentia), which in themselves do not make men happy, one may receive according to the law of inheritance; but a prudent wife is God's gracious gift, Pro 18:22. There is not a more suitable word than משׂכּלת (fem. of משׂכּיל) to characterize a wife as a divine gift, making her husband happy. שׂכל (השׂכּל) is the property which says: "I am named modesty, which wears the crown of all virtues."
(Note: The lxx translates: παρὰ δὲ ἁρμόζεται γυνὴ ἀνδοί. Here as often (vid., my Jesurun) The Arab. usus loquendi makes itself felt in the idiom of the lxx, for shâkl means ἁρμόζειν.)
15 Slothfulness sinketh into deep sleep,
And an idle soul must hunger.
Regarding תּרדּמה and its root-word רדם, vid., at Pro 10:5. הפּיל, to befall, to make to get, is to be understood after Gen 3:21; the obj. על־האדם, viz., העצל, is naturally to be supplied. In 15b the fut. denotes that which will certainly happen, the inevitable. In both of its members the proverb is perfectly clear; Hitzig, however, corrects 15a, and brings out of it the meaning, "slothfulness gives tasteless herbs to eat." The lxx has two translations of this proverb, here and at Pro 18:8. That it should translate רמיה by ἀνδρόγυνος was necessary, as Lagarde remarks, for the exposition of the "works of a Hebrew Sotades." But the Hebrew literature never sunk to such works, wallowing in the mire of sensuality, and ἀνδρόγυνος is not at all thus enigmatical; the Greek word was also used of an effeminate man, a man devoid of manliness, a weakling, and was, as the lxx shows, more current in the Alexandrine Greek than elsewhere.
16 He that keepeth the commandment keepeth his soul;
He that taketh no heed to his ways dies.
As at Pro 6:23, cf. Ecc 8:5, מצוה is here the commandment of God, and thus obligatory, which directs man in every case to do that which is right, and warns him against that which is wrong. And בּוזה דּרכיו (according to the Masora with Tsere, as in Codd. and old editions, not בוזה) is the antithesis of נצר דּרכּו, Pro 16:17. To despise one's own way is equivalent to, to regard it as worth no consideration, as no question of conscience whether one should enter upon this way or that. Hitzig's reading, פּוזר, "he that scattereth his ways," lets himself be drawn by the manifold objects of sensuality sometimes in one direction and sometimes in another, is supported by Jer 3:13, according to which it must be מפזּר; the conj. is not in the style of the Book of Proverbs, and besides is superfluous. The lxx, which is fond of a quid pro quo - it makes, 13b, a courtesan offering a sacrifice she had vowed of the wages of sin of the quarrelsome woman - has here, as the Heb. text: ὁ καταφρονῶν τῶν ἑαυτοῦ ὁδῶν. Thus after the Kerı̂ ימת, as also the Targ., Syro-Hexap., and Luther; on the contrary, the Syr., Jerome, the Venet. adopt the Chethı̂b יוּמת: he will become dead, i.e., dies no natural death. The Kerı̂ is more in the spirit and style of the Book of Proverbs (Pro 15:10; Pro 23:13; Pro 10:21).
These verses we take together. But we have no other reason for making a pause at Pro 19:21, than that Pro 19:22 is analogous to Pro 19:17, and thus presents itself to us as an initial verse.
17 He lendeth to Jahve who is compassionate to the lowly,
And his bounty He requites to him.
As at Pro 14:31, חונן is part. Kal. The Masoretically exact form of the word is חונן (as ואוזל, Pro 20:14) with Mercha on the first syllable, on which the tone is thrown back, and the העמדה on the second. The Roman legal phrase, mutui datione contrahitur obligatio, serves to explain the fundamental conception of לוה, mutuo accipere, and הלוה, mutuum dare (vid., Pro 22:7). The construction, Exo 22:24, "to make any one bound as a debtor, obligare," lies at the foundation of the genitive connection 'מלוה ה (not מלוה). With 17b cf. Pro 12:14, where the subject of ישׁיב (Kerı̂) remains in the background. גמלו (not גמלּו) is here his work done in the sense of good exhibited. "Love," Hedinger once said, "is an imperishable capital, which always bears interest." And the Archbishop Walther: nam Deo dat qui dat inopibus, ipse Deus est in pauperibus. Dr. Jonas, as Dchsel relates, once gave to a poor man, and said, "Who knows when God restores it!" There Luther interposed: "As if God had not long ago given it beforehand!" This answer of Luther meets the abuse of this beautiful proverb by the covetous.
This proverb brings to view once more the pedagogic character of this Older Book of Proverbs:
Correct thy son, for yet there is hope;
But go not too far to kill him.
That כּי tahT is meant relatively, as at Pro 11:15, is seen from Job 11:18; Job 14:7; Jer 31:16.; כּי־ישׁ תּקוה is the usual expression for etemin spes est. Though a son show obstinacy, and manifest a bad disposition, yet there is hope in the training of the youth of being able to break his self-will, and to wean him from his bad disposition; therefore his education should be carried forward with rigorous exactness, but in such a way that wisdom and love regulate the measure and limits of correction: ad eum interficiendum animam ne tollas (animum ne inducas). נפשׁך is not the subject, for in that case the word would have been תּשּׁאך (Kg2 14:10). It is the object: To raise the soul to something is equivalent to, to direct his desire to it, to take delight in it. The teacher should not seek correction as the object, but only as the means; he who has a desire after it, to put the child to death in the case of his guilt, changes correction into revenge, permits himself to be driven by passion from the proper end of correction, and to be pushed beyond its limits. The lxx translates freely εἰς δὲ ὕβρις, for ὕβρις is unrestrained abuse, מוסר אכזרי as Immanuel glosses. Besides, all the ancients and also the Venet. translate המיתו as the inf. of המית. But Oetinger (for he translates: lift not thy soul to his cry, for which Euchel: let not his complaining move thy compassion) follows the derivation from המה suggested by Kimchi, Meri, and Immanuel, and preferred by Ralbag, so that המיתו after the from בּכית is equivalent to המיתו. But leaving out of view that המה means strepere, not lamentari, and that נשׂא נפשׁו means attention, not desire, Pro 23:13 points out to us a better interpretation.
Another proverb with נשׂא:
A man of excessive wrath must suffer punishment;
For if thou layest hold of it, hindering it, thou makest it only worse.
The lxx, Syr., and Targ. translate as if the words were גּבר חמה (as בּעל חמה, Pro 29:22). Theodotion, the Venet., and Luther render the Kerı̂ גּדל־; Jerome's impatiens is colourless. The Chethı̂b גרל gives no appropriate meaning. The Arab. jaril means lapidosus (whence גּורל, cf. Aram. פּסּא = ψῆφος), and Schultens translates accordingly aspere scruposus iracundiae, which is altogether after the manner of his own heavy style. Ewald translates גּרל as derived from the Arab jazyl, largus, grandis; but the possibility of the passing over of ר into ז, as maintained by Ewald and also by Hitzig, or the reverse, is physiologically undemonstrable, and is confirmed by no example worthy of mention. Rather it may be possible that the Heb. had an adj. גּרל or גּרל in the sense of stony, gravel-like, hard as gravel, but tow rather than gravel would be appropriate to חמה. Hitzig corrects גּמל חמה, "who acts in anger;" but he says שׁלּם חמה, to recompense anger, Isa 59:18; גמל חמה is without support. This correction, however, is incomparably more feasible than Bttcher's, "moderate inheritance bears expiation;" חמה = חמאה must mean not only thick [curdled] milk, but also moderation, and Bttcher finds this "sound." From all these instances one sees that גרל is an error in transcription; the Kerı̂ גּדל־חמה rightly improves it, a man is thus designated whose peculiarity it is to fall into a high degree of passionate anger (חמה גדולה, Dan 11:44): such an one has to bear ענשׁ, a fine, i.e., to compensate, for he has to pay compensation or smart-money for the injury suffered, as e.g., he who in strife with another pushes against a woman with child, so that injury befalls her, Exo 21:22. If we compare this passage with Sa2 14:6, there appears for תּצּיל the meaning of taking away of the object (whether a person or a thing) against which the passionate hothead directs himself. Therewith the meaning of ועוד תּוסף accords. The meaning is not that, הצּיל, once is not enough, but much rather must be repeated, and yet is without effect; but that one only increases and heightens the חמה thereby. It is in vain to seek to spare such a violent person the punishment into which he obstinately runs; much more advisable is it to let him rage till he ceases; violent opposition only makes the evil the greater. With כּי אם, "denn wenn" [for then], cf. Pro 2:3, "ja wenn" [yea if], and with ועוד in the conclusion, Job 14:7 (a parallelism syntactically more appropriate than Psa 139:18).
20 Hearken to counsel, and receive instruction,
That thou mayest become wise afterwards.
The rule of morals, Pro 12:15, receives here the paraenetic tone which is the keynote of the introduction chap. 1-9. Lwenstein translates: that thou mayest finally become wise. But בּאחריתך corresponds rather to our "hinfort" [posthac] than to "endlich" [finally]. He to whom the warning is directed must break with the self-willed, undisciplined ראשׁית beginning of his life, and for the future (τὸν ἐπίλοιπον ἐν σαρκὶ χρόνον, Pe1 4:2) become wise. The relative contrast between the two periods of life is the same as at Job 8:7.
21 Many are the thoughts in a man's heart;
But Jahve's counsel, that stands.
In תּקוּם lies, as at Isa 40:8, both: that the counsel of God (His plan of the world and of salvation) is accomplished and comes into actual fact, and that it continues. This counsel is the true reality elevated above the checkered manifoldness of human purposes, aims, and subjectivities, which penetrates and works itself out in history. The thoughts of a man thus gain unity, substance, endurance, only in so far as he subjects himself to this counsel, and makes his thoughts and actions conformable and subordinate to this counsel.
The series makes a new departure with a proverb regarding the poor (cf. Pro 19:17):
A man's delight is his beneficence;
And better is a poor man than a liar.
The right interpretation will be that which presses upon תּאות no strange meaning, and which places the two parts of the verse in an inner mutual relation ethically right. In any case it lies nearer to interpret תאות, in relation to man, actively than passively: that which makes man worthy of desire (Rashi), adorns and distinguishes him (Kimchi, Aben-Ezra); or, that which is desired by man, is above all things sought for (Luzzatto); and, in like manner, the Heb. meaning for חסדּו lies nearer than the Aram. (vid., Pro 14:34): the pleasure of a man is his disgrace (Ralbag). Thus Bertheau's translation: the desire of a man is his charitas, must mean: that which brings to a man true joy is to act amiably. But is that, thus generally expressed, true? And if this were the thought, how much more correctly and distinctly would it be expressed by שׂמחה לאדם עשׂות חסד (cf. Pro 21:15)! Hitzig so rightly reminded by חסדו of the Pharisee who thanks God that he is not as other men; the word ought to have been חסד to remove every trace of self-satisfaction. Hitzig therefore proposes from the lxx and the Vulgate the text-correction מתּבוּאת no, and translates, "from the revenue of a man is his kind gift;" and Ewald, who is satisfied with תּבוּאת, "the gain of a man is his pious love." The latter is more judicious: חסד (love) distributed is in reality gain (according to Pro 19:17); but 22b corresponds rather with the former: "better is he who from want does not give תבואה, than he who could give and says he has nothing." But was there then need for that καρπός of the lxx? If a poor man is better than a lord given to lying - for אישׁ with רשׁ is a man of means and position - i.e., a poor man who would give willingly, but has nothing, than that man who will not give, and therefore lies, saying that he has nothing; then 22a means that the will of a man (cf. תאות, Pro 11:23) is his doing good (vid., regarding חסד, ad Pro 3:3), i.e., is its soul and very essence. Euchel, who accordingly translates: the philanthropy of a man consists properly in his goodwill, rightly compares the Rabbinical proverb, אחד המרבה ואחד הממעיט ובלבד שׁיתבוון, i.e., one may give more or less, it all depends on the intention, the disposition.
23 The fear of Jahve tendeth to life;
Satisfied, one spendeth the night, not visited by evil.
The first line is a variation of Pro 14:27. How the fear of God thus reacheth to life, i.e., helps to a life that is enduring, free from care and happy, 23b says: the promises are fulfilled to the God-fearing, Deu 11:15 and Lev 26:6; he does not go hungry to bed, and needs fear no awakening in terror out of his soft slumber (Pro 3:24). With ו explic., 23a is explained. לין שׂבע means to spend the night (the long night) hungry. as לין ערוּם, Job 24:7, to pass the night in nakedness (cold). נפקד, of visitation of punishment, we read also at Isa 29:6, and instead of בּרע, as it might be according to this passage, we have here the accus. of the manner placing the meaning of the Niph. beyond a doubt (cf. Pro 11:15, רע, in an evil manner). All is in harmony with the matter, and is good Heb.; on the contrary, Hitzig's ingenuity introduces, instead of שׂבעו, an unheard of word, ושׂרע, "and he stretches himself." One of the Greeks excellently translates: καὶ ἐμπλησθεὶς αὐλισθήσεται ἄνευ ἐπισκοπῆς πονηρᾶς. The lxx, which instead of רע, γνῶσις, translates thus, דּע, discredits itself. The Midrash - Lagarde says of its translation - varies in colour like an opal. In other words, it handles the text like wax, and forms it according to its own taste, like the Midrash with its "read not so, but so."
24 The slothful hath thrust his hand into the dish;
He bringeth it not again to his mouth.
This proverb is repeated in a different form, Pro 26:15. The figure appears, thus understood, an hyperbole, on which account the lxx understand by צלחת the bosom or lap, κόλπον; Aquila and Symmachus understand by it the arm-pit, μασχάλην or μάλην; and the Jewish interpreters gloss it by חיק (Kimchi) or קרע החלוק, the slit (Ita. fenditura) of the shirt. But the domestic figure, Kg2 21:13, places before us a dish which, when it is empty, is wiped and turned upside down;
(Note: While צפּחת, ṣaḥfat, in the sense of dish, is etymologically clear, for צלּחת, neither ṣalaḥ (to be good for), nor salakh (to be deaf, mangy), offers an appropriate verbal meaning. The Arab. zuluh (large dishes) stands under zalah (to taste, of the tasting of good), but is scarcely a derivative from it. Only צלח, which in the meaning of good for, proceeding from the idea of penetrating through, has retained the root-meaning of cleft, furnishes for צלּחת and צלוחית a root-word in some measure useful.)
and that the slothful when he eats appears too slothful to bring his hand, e.g., with the rice or the piece of bread he has taken out of the dish, again to his mouth, is true to nature: we say of such a man that he almost sleeps when he eats. The fut. after the perf. here denotes that which is not done after the former thing, i.e., that which is scarcely and only with difficulty done; לּו ... גּם may have the meaning of "yet not," as at Psa 129:2; but the sense of "not once" = ne ... quidem, lies here nearer Deu 23:3.
25 The scorner thou smitest, and the simple is prudent;
And if one reprove the man of understanding, he gaineth knowledge
Hitzig translates in a way that is syntactically inexact: smite the scorner, so the simple becomes prudent; that would have required at least the word ויערם: fut. and fut. connected by ו is one of many modes of expression for the simultaneous, discussed by me at Hab 3:10. The meaning of the proverb has a complete commentary at Pro 21:11, where its two parts are otherwise expressed with perfect identity of thought. In regard to the לץ, with whom denunciation and threatening bear no fruit (Pro 13:1; Pro 15:12), and perhaps even produce the contrary effect to that intended (Pro 9:7), there remains nothing else than to vindicate the injured truths by means of the private justice of corporal punishment. Such words, if spoken to the right man, in the right spirit, at the right time, may affect him with wholesome terrors; but even though he is not made better thereby, yet the simple, who listens to the mockeries of such not without injury, will thereby become prudent (gain הערים = ערמה, prudence, as at Pro 15:5), i.e., either arrive at the knowledge that the mockery of religion is wicked, or guard himself against incurring the same repressive measures. In 25b והוכח is neither inf. (Umbreit), which after Pro 21:11 must be וּבהוכח, nor impr. (Targ., Ewald), which according to rule is הוכח, but the hypothetic perf. (Syr.) with the most general subject (Merc., Hitzig): if one impart instruction to the (dat. obj. as Pro 9:7; Pro 15:2) man of understanding (vid., Pro 16:21), then he acquires knowledge, i.e., gains an insight into the nature and value of that which one wishes to bring him to the knowledge of (הבין דּעת, as Pro 29:7; cf. Pro 8:5). That which the deterring lesson of exemplary punishment approximately effects with the wavering, is, in the case of the man of understanding, perfectly attained by an instructive word.
We have now reached the close of the third chief section of the older Book of Proverbs. All the three sections begin with בּן חכם, Pro 10:1; Pro 13:1; Pro 15:20. The Introduction, chap. 1-9, dedicates this collection of Solomonic proverbs to youth, and the three beginnings accordingly relate to the relative duties of a son to his father and mother. We are now no longer far from the end, for Pro 22:17 resumes the tone of the Introduction. The third principal part would be disproportionately large if it extended from Pro 15:1 to Pro 22:15. But there does not again occur a proverb beginning with the words "son of man." We can therefore scarcely go wrong if we take Pro 19:26 as the commencement of a fourth principal part. The Masora divides the whole Mishle into eight sedarim, which exhibit so little knowledge of the true division, that the parashas (sections) Pro 10:1; Pro 22:17 do not at all find their right place.
(Note: The 915 verses of the Mishle, according to the Masora, fall into eight sedarim, beginning as follows: Pro 1:1; Pro 5:18; Pro 9:12; Pro 14:4; Pro 18:10; Pro 22:22; Pro 25:13; Pro 28:16.)
The MSS, however, contain evidences that this Hagiograph was also anciently divided into parashas, which were designated partly by spaces between the lines (sethumoth) and partly by breaks in the lines (phethucoth). In Baer's Cod. Jamanensis,
(Note: Vid., the Prefatio to the Masoretico-Critical Edition of Isaiah by Baer and myself; Leipzig, 1872.)
after Pro 6:19, there is the letter פ written on the margin as the mark of such a break. With Pro 6:20 (vid., l.c.) there indeed commences a new part of the introductory Mashal discourses. But, besides, we only seldom meet with
(Note: There are spaces within the lines after Pro 1:7, Pro 1:9, Pro 1:33; Pro 2:22; Pro 3:18, Pro 3:35; Pro 5:17, Pro 5:23; Pro 6:4, Pro 6:11, Pro 6:15, Pro 6:19 (here a פ), Pro 6:35, Pro 8:21, Pro 8:31, Pro 8:35; Pro 9:18; Pro 17:25; Pro 18:9; Pro 22:19, Pro 22:27; Pro 23:14; Pro 24:22, Pro 24:33; Pro 26:21; Pro 28:10, Pro 28:16; Pro 29:17, Pro 29:27; Pro 30:6, Pro 30:9, Pro 30:14, Pro 30:17, Pro 30:20, Pro 30:24, Pro 30:28, Pro 30:33; Pro 31:9.)
coincidences with the division and grouping which have commended themselves to us. In the MS of the Graecus Venetus, Pro 19:11, Pro 19:16, and Pro 19:19 have their initial letters coloured red; but why only these verses, is not manifest. A comparison of the series of proverbs distinguished by such initials with the Cod. Jaman. and Cod. II of the Leipzig City Library, makes it more than probable that it gives a traditional division of the Mishle, which may perhaps yet be discovered by a comparison of MSS.
(Note: Vid., Gebhardt's Prolegomena to his new edition of the Versio Veneta.)
But this much is clear, that a historico-literary reconstruction of the Mishle, and of its several parts, can derive no help from this comparison.
With Pro 19:26 there thus begins the fourth principal part of the Solomonic collection of proverbs introduced by chap. 1-9.
He that doeth violence to his father and chaseth his mother,
Is a son that bringeth shame and disgrace.
The right name is given in the second line to him who acts as is described in the first. שׁדּד means properly to barricade [obstruere], and then in general to do violence to, here: to ruin one both as to life and property. The part., which has the force of an attributive clause, is continued in the finite: qui matrem fugat; this is the rule of the Heb. style, which is not filome'tochos, Gesen. 134, Anm. 2. Regarding מבישׁ, vid., at Pro 10:5; regarding the placing together of הבישׁ והחפּיר, vid., Pro 13:5, where for הבישׁ, to make shame, to be scandalous, the word הבאישׁ, which is radically different, meaning to bring into bad odour, is used. The putting to shame is in בּושׁ ni si (kindred with Arab. bâth) thought of as disturbatio (cf. σύγχυσις) (cf. at Ps. 6:11), in חפר (khfr) as opertio (cf. Cicero's Cluent. 20: infamia et dedecore opertus), not, as I formerly thought, with Frst, as reddening, blushing (vid., Psa 34:6). Putting to shame would in this connection be too weak a meaning for מחפּיר. The paedagogic stamp which Pro 19:26 impresses on this fourth principal part is made yet further distinct in the verse that now follows.
27 Cease, my son, to hear instruction,
To depart from the words of knowledge.
Oetinger correctly: cease from hearing instruction if thou wilt make no other use of it than to depart, etc., i.e., cease to learn wisdom and afterwards to misuse it. The proverb is, as Ewald says, as "bloody irony;" but it is a dissuasive from hypocrisy, a warning against the self-deception of which Jam 1:22-24 speaks, against heightening one's own condemnation, which is the case of that servant who knows his lord's will and does it not, Luk 12:47. חדל, in the meaning to leave off doing something further, is more frequently construed with ל seq. infin. than with מן (cf. e.g., Gen 11:8 with Kg1 15:21); but if we mean the omission of a thing which has not yet been begun, then the construction is with ל, Num 9:13, Instead of לשׁגּות, there might have been also used מלּשׁגּות (omit rather ... than...), and למען שׁגות would be more distinct; but as the proverb is expressed, לשׁגות is not to be mistaken as the subord. infin. of purpose. The lxx, Syr., Targ., and Jerome do violence to the proverb. Luther, after the example of older interpreters: instruction, that which leads away from prudent learning; but musar always means either discipline weaning from evil, or education leading to good.
28 A worthless witness scoffeth at right;
And the mouth of the godless swalloweth up mischief.
The Mosaic law does not know the oath of witnesses; but the adjuring of witnesses to speak the truth, Lev 4:1, places a false statement almost in the rank of perjury. The משׁפּט, which legally and morally binds witnesses, is just their duty to state the matter in accordance with truth, and without deceitful and malicious reservation; but a worthless witness (vid., regarding בּליּעל, Pro 6:12) despiseth what is right (יליץ with accus.-obj. like Pro 14:9), i.e., scornfully disregards this duty. Under 28b Hitzig remarks that בלע only in Kal means to devour, but in Piel, on the contrary, to absorb = annihilate; therefore he reads with the lxx and Syr. דּין justice instead of און mischief: the mouth of the wicked murders that which is right, properly, swallows down his feeling of right. But בּלּע interchanges with בּלע in the sense of swallowing only, without the connected idea of annihilation; cf. כּבלּע for the continuance [duration] of a gulp = for a moment, Num 4:20 with Job 7:29; and one can thus understand 28b without any alteration of the text after Job 15:16; cf. Pro 20:12-15, as well as with the text altered after Isa 3:12, by no means so that one makes און the subject: mischief swallows up, i.e., destroys, the mouth of the wicked (Rashi); for when "mouth" and "to swallow" stand connected, the mouth is naturally that which swallows, not that which is swallowed (cf. Ecc 10:12 : the mouth of the fool swallows, i.e., destroys, him). Thus 28b means that wickedness, i.e., that which is morally perverse, is a delicious morsel for the mouth of the godless, which he eagerly devours; to practise evil is for him, as we say, "ein wahrer Genuss" [a true enjoyment].
29 Judgments are prepared for scorners,
And stripes for the backs of fools.
שׁפמים never means punishment which a court of justice inflicts, but is always used of the judgments of God, even although they are inflicted by human instrumentality (vid., Ch2 24:24); the singular, which nowhere occurs, is the segolate n. act. שׁפט = שׁפוט, Ch2 20:9, plur. שׁפוּטים. Hitzig's remark: "the judgment may, after Pro 19:25, consist in stripes," is misleading; the stroke, הכּות, there is such as when, e.g., a stroke on the ear is applied to one who despises that which is holy, which, under the circumstances, may be salutary; but it does not fall under the category of shephuthim, nor properly under that of מהלמות. The former are providential chastisements with which history itself, or God in history, visits the despiser of religion; the latter are strokes which are laid on the backs of fools by one who is instructing them, in order, if possible, to bring them to thought and understanding. נכון, here inflected as Niph., is used, as Job 15:23, as meaning to be placed in readiness, and thus to be surely imminent. Regarding mahalǔmoth, vid., at Pro 18:6.