Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at sacred-texts.com
In the group Pro 27:1-6 of this chapter every two proverbs form a pair. The first pair is directed against unseemly boasting:
1 Boast not thyself of to-morrow,
For thou knowest not what a day bringeth forth.
The ב of בּיום is like, e.g., that in Pro 25:14, the ב of the ground of boasting. One boasts of to-morrow when he boasts of that which he will then do and experience. This boasting is foolish and presumptuous (Luk 12:20), for the future is God's; not a moment of the future is in our own power, we know not what a day, this present day or to-morrow (Jam 4:13), will bring forth, i.e., (cf. Zep 2:2) will disclose, and cannot therefore order anything beforehand regarding it. Instead of לא־תדע (with Kametz and Mugrash), אל־תדע (thus e.g., the Cod. Jaman) is to be written; the Masora knows nothing of that pausal form. And instead of מה־יּלד יום, we write מה יּלד יום with Zinnorith. יּלד before יום has the tone thrown back on the penult., and consequently a shortened ult.; the Masora reckons this word among the twenty-five words with only one Tsere.
2 Let another praise thee, and not thine own mouth;
A stranger, and not thine own lips.
The negative לא is with פיך, as in (Arab.) ghyra fyk, bound into one compact idea: that which is not thine own mouth (Fleischer), "not thine own lips," on the other hand, is not to be interpreted as corresponding to it, like אל־מות, Pro 12:28; since after the prohibitive אל, יהללוּך [praise thee] easily supplies itself. זר is properly the stranger, as having come from a distance, and נכרי he who comes from an unknown country, and is himself unknown (vid., under Pro 26:24); the idea of both words, however, passes from advena and alienigena to alius. There is certainly in rare cases a praising of oneself, which is authorized because it is demanded (Co2 11:18), which, because it is offered strongly against one's will, will be measured by truth (Pro 10:13); but in general it is improper to applaud oneself, because it is a vain looking at oneself in a glass; it is indecent, because it places others in the shade; imprudent, because it is of no use to us, but only injures, for propria laus sordet, and as Stobus says, οὐδὲν οὕτως ἄκουσμα φορτικὸν ὡς καθ ̓ αὑτοῦ ἔταινος. Compare the German proverb, "Eigenlob stinkt, Freundes Lob hinkt, fremdes Lob klingt" [= self-praise stinks, a friend's praise is lame, a stranger's praise sounds].
The second pair of proverbs designates two kinds of violent passion as unbearable:
3 The heaviness of a stone, the weight of sand -
A fool's wrath is heavier than both.
We do not translate: Gravis est petra et onerosa arena, so that the substantives stand for strengthening the idea, instead of the corresponding adjective (Fleischer, as the lxx, Jerome, Syr., Targum); the two pairs of words stand, as 4a, in genit. relation (cf. on the contrary, Pro 31:30), and it is as if the poet said: represent to thyself the heaviness of a stone and the weight of sand, and thou shalt find that the wrath of a fool compared thereto is still heavier, viz., for him who has to bear it; thus heavier, not for the fool himself (Hitzig, Zckler, Dchsel), but for others against whom his anger goes forth. A Jewish proverb (vid., Tendlau, No. 901) says, that one knows a man by his wine-glass (כוס), his purse (כיס), and his anger (כעס), viz., how he deports himself in the tumult; and another says that one reads what is in a man ביום כעסו, when he is in an ill-humour. Thus also כעס is to be here understood: the fool in a state of angry, wrathful excitement is so far not master of himself that the worst is to be feared; he sulks and shows hatred, and rages without being appeased; no one can calculate what he may attempt, his behaviour is unendurable. Sand, חול,
(Note: Sand is called by the name חוּל (חיל), to change, whirl, particularly to form sand-wreaths, whence (Arab.) al-Habil, the region of moving sand; vid., Wetzstein's Nord-arabien, p. 56.)
as it appears, as to the number of its grains innumerable, so as to its mass (in weight) immeasurable, Job 6:3; Sir. 22:13. נטל the Venet. translates, with strict regard to the etymology, by ἅρμα.
4 The madness of anger, and the overflowing of wrath -
And before jealousy who keeps his place!
Here also the two pairs of words 4a stand in connection; אכזריּוּת (for which the Cod. Jaman has incorrectly אכזריות) is the connecting form; vid., regarding אכזרי, Pro 5:9. Let one imagine the blind, relentless rage of extreme excitement and irritation, a boiling over of anger like a water-flood, which bears everything down along with it - these paroxysms of wrath do not usually continue long, and it is possible to appease them; but jealousy is a passion that not only rages, but reckons calmly; it incessantly ferments through the mind, and when it breaks forth, he perishes irretrievably who is its object. Fleischer generalizes this idea: "enmity proceeding from hatred, envy, or jealousy, it is difficult or altogether impossible to withstand, since it puts into operation all means, both secretly and openly, to injure the enemy." But after Pro 6:34., cf. Sol 8:8, there is particularly meant the passion of scorned, mortified, deceived love, viz., in the relation of husband and wife.
The third pair of proverbs passes over from this special love between husband and wife to that subsisting between friends:
5 Better is open accusation
Than secret love.
An integral distich; meeאהבה has Munach, and instead of the second Metheg Tarcha, after Thorath Emeth, p. 11. Zckler, with Hitzig, incorrectly: better than love which, from false indulgence, keeps concealed from his neighbour his faults, when he ought to tell him of them. That would require the phrase אהבה מסתּרת, not מסתּרת. Dchsel, in order to accommodate the text to this meaning, remarks: concealed censure is concealed love; but it is much rather the neglected duty of love - love without mutual discipline is weak, faint-hearted, and, if it is not too blind to remark in a friend what is worthy of blame, is altogether too forbearing, and essentially without conscience; but it is not "hidden and concealed love." The meaning of the proverb is different: it is better to be courageously and sternly corrected - on account of some fault committed - by any one, whether he be a foe or a friend, than to be the object of a love which may exist indeed in the heart, but which fails to make itself manifest in outward act. There are men who continually assure us of the reality and depth of their friendship; but when it is necessary for them to prove their love to be self-denying and generous, they are like a torrent which is dry when one expects to drink water from it (Job 6:15). Such "secret" love, or, since the word is not נסתּרת, but מסתּרת, love confined to the heart alone, is like a fire which, when it burns secretly, neither lightens nor warms; and before such a friend, any one who frankly and freely tells the truth has by far the preference, for although he may pain us, yet he does us good; while the former deceives us, for he leaves us in the lurch when it is necessary to love us, not merely in word and with the tongue, but in deed and in truth (Jo1 3:18). Rightly Fleischer: Praestat correptio aperta amicitiae tectae, i.e., nulla re probatae.
6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend,
And overloaded [plentiful] the kisses of an enemy.
The contrast to נאמנים, true, i.e., honourable and good (with the transference of the character of the person to his act), would be fraudulenta (Jerome), or נהפכות, i.e., false (Ralbag); Ewald seeks this idea from עתר, to stumble, make a false step;
(Note: Thus also Schultens in the Animadversiones, which later he fancied was derived from עתר, nidor, from the meaning nidorosa, and thence virulenta.)
Hitzig, from עתר = (Arab.) dadhr, whence dâdhir, perfidus, to gain from; but (1) the comparison does not lie near, since usually the Arab. t corresponds to the Heb. שׁ, and the Arab. d to the Heb. ז; (2) the Heb. עתר has already three meanings, and it is not advisable to load it with yet another meaning assumed for this passage, and elsewhere not found. The three meanings are the following: (a) to smoke, Aram. עטר, whence עתר, vapour, Eze 8:11, according to which the Venet., with Kimchi's and Parchon's Lex., translates: the kisses of an enemy συνωμίχλωνται, i.e., are fog; (b) to sacrifice, to worship, Arab. atar; according to which Aquila: ἱκετικά (as, with Grabe, it is probably to be read for ἑκούσια of the lxx); and agreeably to the Niph., but too artificially, Arama: obtained by entreaties = constrained; (c) to heap up, whence Hiph. העתיר, Eze 35:13, cf. Jer 33:6, according to which Rashi, Meri, Gesenius, Fleischer, Bertheau, and most explain, cogn. with עשׁר, whose Aram. form is עתר, for עשׁר is properly a heap of goods or treasures.
(Note: Vid., regarding this word, Schlottmann in Deutsch.-Morgenl. Zeitschrift, xxiv. 665, 668.)
This third meaning gives to the kisses of an enemy a natural adjective: they are too abundant, so much the more plentiful to veil over the hatred, like the kisses by means of which Judas betrayed his Lord, not merely denoted by φιλεῖν, but by καταφιλεῖν, Mat 26:49. This, then, is the contrast, that the strokes inflicted by one who truly loves us, although they tear into our flesh (פּצע, from פּצע, to split, to tear open), yet are faithful (cf. Psa 141:5); on the contrary, the enemy covers over with kisses him to whom he wishes all evil. Thus also נעתרות forms an indirect contrast to נאמנים.
In Pro 27:7-10 there is also visible a weaving of the external with the internal. First, there are two proverbs, in each of which there is repeated a word terminating with נ.
7 A satisfied soul treadeth honeycomb under foot;
And a hungry soul - everything bitter is (to it) sweet.
It is unnecessary to read תּבוּז (Hitzig); תּבוּס is stronger; "to tread with the feet" is the extreme degree of scornful despite. That satiety and hunger are applicable to the soul, vid., under Pro 10:3. In 7b, the adverb להּ, relative to the nomin. absol., like Pro 28:7, but not Pro 13:18. "Hunger is the best cook," according to a German proverb; the Hebrew proverb is so formed that it is easily transferred to the sphere of the soul. Let the man whom God has richly satisfied with good things guard himself against ingratitude towards the Giver, and against an undervaluing of the gifts received; and if they are spiritual blessings, let him guard himself against self-satisfaction and self-contentment, which is, in truth, the worst poverty, Rev 3:17; for life without God is a constant hunger and thirst. There is in worldly things, even the most pleasing, a dissatisfaction felt, and a dissatisfaction awakening disgust; and in spiritual life, a satiety which supposes itself to be full of life, but which is nothing else than the decay of life, than the changing of life into death.
8 As a bird that wandereth from her nest,
So is a man that wandereth from his home.
It is not a flying out that is meant, from which at any moment a return is possible, but an unwilling taking to flight (lxx 8b: ὅταν ἀποξενωθῇ; Venet.: πλανούμενον ... πλανούμενος); for עוף נודד, Isa 16:2, cf. Jer 4:25, birds that have been frightened; and נדד, Pro 21:15., designates the fugitive; cf. נע ונד, Gen 4:14, and above, Pro 26:2, where נוּד designates aimless roving about. Otherwise Fleischer: "warning against unnecessary roaming about, in journeyings and wanderings far from home: as a bird far from its nest is easily wounded, caught, or killed, so, on such excursions, one easily comes to injury and want. One may think of a journey in the East. The Arabs say, in one of their proverbs: âlsafar ḳaṭ'at man âlklyym (= journeying is a part of the pains of hell)." But נדד here is not to be understood in the sense of a libere vagari. Rightly C. B. Michaelis: qui vagatur extorris et exul a loco suo sc. natali vel habitationis ordinariae. This proverb mediately recommends the love of one's fatherland, i.e., "love to the land in which our father has his home; on which our paternal mansion stands; in which we have spent the years of our childhood, so significant a part of one's whole life; from which we have derived our bodily and intellectual nourishment; and in which home we recognise bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh."
(Note: Gustave Baur's article "Vaterlandsliebe," in Schmid's Pdagogischer Encyklopdie.)
But next it says, that to be in a strange land must be an unhappiness, because a man never feels better than at home, as the bird in its nest. We say: Heimat [home] - this beautiful word becomes the German language, which has also coined the expressive idea of Heimweh [longing for home]; the Heb. uses, to express the idea of home, the word מקומי; and of fatherland, the word ארצי or אדמתי. The Heb. שׁבוּת corresponds
(Note: The translators transfer to this place a note from vol. ii. p. 191f. of the author's larger Comm. . den Psalter, to which Delitzsch refers the reader: - "The modern High German adj. elend, middle High German ellende, old High German alilandi, elilendi, or elilenti, is composed of ali and land. The adj. ali occurs only in old High German in composition. In the Gothic it is found as an independent adj., in the sense of alius and ἄλλυς (vid., Ulfilas, Gal 5:10). The primary meaning of elilenti is consequently: of another country, foreign. In glosses and translations it is rendered by the Lat. words peregrinus, exul, advena, also captivus. In these meanings it occurs very frequently. In the old High German translation of Ammonius, Diatessaron, sive Harmoniae in quatuor Evangelica, the word proselytism, occurring in Mat 23:15, is rendered by elilantan. To the adj. the old High German subst. corresponds. This has the meaning exilium, transmigratio, captivitas. The connection in elilenti or elilentes, used adverbially, is rendered by the Lat. peregre. In the middle High German, however, the proper signification of both words greatly predominates. But as, in the old High German, the idea of miser is often at the same time comprehended in the proper signification: he who is miserable through banishment, imprisonment, or through sojourning in a strange land; thus, in several places of the middle High German, this derived idea begins to separate itself from the fundamental conception, so that ellende comes in general to be called miser. In the new High German this derived conception is almost alone maintained. Yet here also, in certain connections, there are found traces of the original idea, e.g., in's Elend schicken, for to banish. Very early also the word came to be used, in a spiritual sense, to denote our present abode, in contrast to paradise or the heavenly kingdom.... Thus, e.g., in one of Luther's hymns, when we pray to the Holy Ghost:
Das er vns behte, an vnserm ende,
Wenn wir heim farn aus diesem elende."
[That He guard us to our end
When we go home from this world.]
- Rud. von Raumer)
to the German Elend, but = Ellend, elilenti, of another land, strange.
The two following proverbs have in common the catchword רע, and treat of the value of friendship: -
9 Oil and frankincense rejoice the heart;
And the sweet discourse of a friend from a counselling of soul.
Regarding the perfuming with dry aromas, and sprinkling with liquid aromas, as a mark of honour towards guests, and as a means of promoting joyful social fellowship, vid., at Pro 7:16., Pro 21:17. The pred. ישׂמּח comprehends frankincense or oil as the two sides of one and the same thing; the lxx introduces, from Psa 104:15, also wine. It also reads ומתק רעה as one word, וּמתקרעת: καταῤῥήγνυται δὲ ὑπὸ συμπτωμάτων ψυχή, which Hitzig regards as original; for he translates, understanding מעצת after Psa 13:3, "but the soul is torn by cares." But why מתקרעה, this Hithpa. without example, for נקרעה? and now connected with מן in the sense of ὑπό! And what does one gain by this Alexandrian wisdom [of the lxx] - a contrast to 9a which is altogether incongruous? Dderlein's rendering accords far better with 9a: "but the sweetness of a friend surpasses fragrant wood." But although this rendering of the word [עצה] by "fragrant wood" is found in Gesen. Lex., from one edition to another, yet it must be rejected; for the word signifies wood as the contents of trees, the word for aromatic wood must be עצים; and if the poet had not intentionally aimed at dubiety, he ought to have written עצי בשׂם, since נפשׁ, which the exception of Isa 3:20, where it is beyond doubt, nowhere means fragrance. If we read עצת and נפשׁ together, then we may suppose that the latter designates the soul, as at Psa 13:3; and the former, counsel (from the verb יעץ). But to what does the suffix of רעהוּ refer? One may almost conjecture that the words originally were וּמתק נפשׁ מעצת רעהוּ, and the sweetness of the soul (i.e., a sweet relish for it, cf. Pro 27:7 and Pro 16:24) consists in the counsel of a friend, according to which Jerome translates: et bonis amici conciliis anima dulcoratur. By this transposition רעהו refers back to נפשׁ; for is nephesh denote a person or a living being, it can be construed ad sensum as masc., e.g., Num 31:28. But the words may remain in the order in which they are transmitted to us. It is possible that רעהוּ is (Bttcher refers to Job 12:4) of the same meaning as הרע (the friend of one = the friend), as כלּו denotes directly the whole; חציו, the half; עתּו, the right time. Recognising this, Cocceius, Umbreit, Stier, and Zckler explain: sweetness, i.e., the sweet encouragement (מתק, in the sense of "sweetness (grace) of the lips," Pro 16:21) of a friend, is better than one's own counsel, than prudence seeking to help oneself, and trusting merely to one's own resources; thus also Rashi: better than what one's own soul advises him. But (1) נפשׁ cannot mean one's own person (oneself) in contrast to another person; and (2) this does not supply a correct antithesis to 9a. Thus מן will not express the preference, but the origin. Accordingly Ewald, e.g., explains: the sweetness of a friend whom one has proceedeth from the counsel of soul, i.e., from such counsel as is drawn from a deep, full soul. But no proof can be brought from the usage of the language that עצת־נפשׁ can be so meant; these words, after the analogy of דעת נפשׁ, Pro 19:2, mean ability to give counsel as a quality of the soul (Pro 8:14; Pro 12:13), i.e., its ability to advise. Accordingly, with Bertheau, we explain ישׂמח־לב as the common predicate for 9a and 9b: ointment and perfume rejoice the heart, and (The Syr., Targ., well: even so) the sweet exhortation of a friend, from a soul capable of rendering counsel; also, this and this, more than that fragrance. This proverb is formed in the same way as Pro 26:9, Pro 26:14. In this explanation רעהו is well referred back to לב: and (more than) the sweet advice of his friend. But not so that רעהו is equivalent to רע הלּב, for one does not thus speak; but the construction is as when we say, in the German language: Nichts thut einem Herzen woler als wenn sein Freund es mitfhlend trstet [nothing does more good to a heart than when a friend sympathizingly comforts it]; or: Zage nicht, tief betrbtes Herz! Dein Freund lebt und wird dir bald sich zeigen [Be not dismayed, deeply-troubled heart! thy friend lives, and will soon show himself to thee]. In such cases the word "Herz" [heart] does not designate a distinct part of the person, but, synecdochically, it denotes the whole person.
Another proverb, consisting of three lines, in commendation of friendship:
Thine own friend and the friend of thy father forsake not,
And into thy brother's house go not in the day of thy misfortune -
Better is a near neighbour than a far-off brother.
In our editions רעך is incorrectly appointed with Pasek after it, so that the accent is Asla Legarmeh; the Pasek is, after the example of older editions, with Norzi, to be cancelled, so that only the conjunctive Asla remains; "thine own and the friend of thy father" denotes the family friend, like some family heirloom, descending from father to son. Such an old tried friend one must certainly not give up. The Kerı̂ changes the second ורעה into ורע, but ורעה (which, after the Masora in st. constr., retains its segol, Ewald, 211e) is also admissible, for a form of comparison (Hitzig) this רעה is not, but the fuller form of the abbreviated רע, from רעה, to take care of, to tend, to pasture - an infinitive formation (= רעי) like the Arab. cogn. râ'in a participial. Such a proved friend one ought certainly not to give up, and in the time of heavy trial (vid., regarding איד, Pro 1:26) one should go to him and not to a brother's house - it is by this supposed that, as Pro 18:24 says, there is a degree of friendship (cf. Pro 17:17) which in regard to attachment stands above that of mere fraternal relationship, and it is true; blood-relationship, viewed in itself, stands as a relationship of affection on natural grounds below friendship, which is a relationship of life on moral grounds. But does blood-relationship exclude friendship of soul? cannot my brother be at the same time my heart-friend? and is not friendship all the firmer when it has at the same time its roots in the spirit and in natural grounds? The poet seems to have said this, for in 10c, probably a popular saying (cf. "Besser Nachbar an der Wand als Bruder ber Land" [Better a neighbour by one's side than a brother abroad]), he gives to his advice a foundation, and at the same time a limitation which modifies its ruggedness. But Dchsel places (like Schultens) in קרוב and רחוק meanings which the words do not contain, for he interprets them of inward nearness and remoteness; and Zckler reads between the lines, for he remarks, a "near neighbour" is one who is near to the oppressed to counsel and help them, and a "distant brother" is one who with an unamiable disposition remains far from the oppressed. The state of the matter is simple. If one has a tried friend in neighbourly nearness, so in the time of distress, when he needs consolation and help, he must go to this friend, and not first to the house of a brother dwelling at a distance, for the former certainly does for us what the latter probably may and probably may not do for us.
This proverb has, in common with the preceding tristich, the form of an address:
Become wise, my son, and make my heart rejoice,
That I may give an answer to my accusers.
Better than "be wise" (Luther), we translate "become wise" (lxx σοφὸς γίνου); for he who is addressed might indeed be wise, though not at present so, so that his father is made to listen to such deeply wounding words as these, "Cursed be he who begat, and who educated this man" (Malbim). The cohortative clause 11b (cf. Psa 119:42) has the force of a clause with a purpose (Gesen. 128:1): ut habeam quod iis qui me convicientur regerere possim; it does not occur anywhere in the Hezekiah collection except here.
ערום appears to lean on חכם.
The prudent man seeth the misfortune, hideth himself;
The simple pass on, suffer injury.
= Pro 22:3, where וּפתיים for פּתאים, ונסתּר for נסתּר, and ונענשׁוּ for נענשׁוּ; the three asyndeta make the proverb clumsy, as if it counted out its seven words separately to the hearer. Ewald, 349a, calls it a "Steinschrift" an inscription on a stone. The perfects united in pairs with, and yet more without, Vav, express the coincidence
(Note: The second Munach is at Pro 22:3, as well as here, according to the rule Pro 18:4 of the Accentuationssystem, the transformation of the Dechi, and preserves its value of interpunction; the Legarmeh of ערום is, however, a disjunctive of less force than Dechi, so that thus the sequence of the accents denotes that ערום ראה רעה is a clause related to ונסתר as a hypothetical antecedent: if the prudent sees the calamity, then he hides himself from it. This syntactic relation is tenable at Pro 22:3, but not here at Pro 27:12. Here, at least, ערום would be better with Rebia, to which the following Dechi would subordinate itself. The prudent seeth the evil, concealeth himself; or also, prudent is he who sees the evil, hides himself. For of two disjunctives before Athnach, the first, according as it is greater or less than the second, retains either Legarmeh (e.g., Psa 1:5; Psa 86:12; Psa 88:14; Psa 109:14) or Rebia (Pro 12:2, Psa 25:2; Psa 69:9; Psa 146:5).)
as to time.
ערום alliterates with ערב.
Take from him the garment, for he hath become surety for another,
And for the sake of a strange matter put him under bonds.
= Pro 20:16, vid., there. נכריּה we interpret neut. (lxx τὰ ἀλλότρια; Jerome, pro alienis), although certainly the case occurs that one becomes surety for a strange woman (Aquila, Theodotion, περὶ ξένης), by whose enticements and flatteries he is taken, and who afterwards leaves him in the lurch with the debts for which he had become security, to show her costly favour to another.
This proverb, passing over the three immediately intervening, connects itself with Pro 27:9 and Pro 27:10. It is directed against cringing, noisy complimenting:
He who blesseth his neighbour with a loud voice, rising early in the morning,
It is reckoned as a curse to him.
The first line is intentionally very heavy, in order to portray the empressement of the maker of compliments: he calls out to another his good wishes with a loud voice, so as to make the impression of deep veneration, of deeply felt thankfulness, but in reality to gain favour thereby, and to commend himself to greater acts of kindness; he sets himself to meet him, having risen up (השׁכּים, adverbial inf. abs.; cf. Jer 44:4 with Jer 25:4) early in the morning, to offer his captatio benevolentiae as speedily as possible; but this salutation of good wishes, the affected zeal in presenting which is a sign of a selfish, calculating, servile soul, is reckoned to him as קללה, viz., before God and every one who can judge correctly of human nature, also before him who is complimented in so ostentatious and troublesome a manner, the true design of which is thus seen. Others understand the proverb after the example of Berachoth 14a, that one ought to salute no one till he has said his morning's prayer, because honour is due before all to God (the Book of Wisdom, 10:28); and others after Erachin 16a, according to which one is meant who was invited as a guest of a generous lord, and was liberally entertained, and who now on the public streets blesses him, i.e., praises him for his nobility of mind - such blessing is a curse to him whom it concerns, because this trumpeting of his praise brings upon him a troublesome, importunate crowd. But plainly the particularity of 'בּקול וגו lays the chief emphasis on the servility manifested; and one calls to mind the case of the clients besieging the doors of their patrons, those clientes matutini, each of whom sought to be the first in the salutatio of his distinguished wealthy patron.
This proverb passes from the complimentarius to its opposite, a shrewish wife:
A continual dropping in a rainy day
And a contentious woman are alike.
Thus we have already translated (vol. i. p. 9), where, when treating of the manifold forms of parabolic proverbs, we began with this least poetic, but at the same time remarked that Pro 27:15 and Pro 27:16 are connected, forming a tetrastich, which is certainly the case according to the text here lying before us. In Pro 27:15, Pro 19:13 is expanded into a distich, and made a complete verse. Regarding דּלף טורד, vid., the explanation there given. The noun סגריר, which the Syr. translates by magyaa', but the Targumist retains, because it is in common use in the post-bibl. Heb. (Bereschith rabba, c. 1) and the Jewish Aramaic, signifies violent rain, after the Jewish interpreters, because then the people remain shut up in their houses; more correctly, perhaps, from the unbroken continuousness and thickness (cf. the Arab. insajara, to go behind each other in close column) with which the rain pours down. Regarding מדונים, Kerı̂ מדינים, vid., Pro 6:14; the genit. connection of 'אושׁת מ we have already at Pro 21:9. The form נשׁתּוה is doubtful. If accented, with Lwenstein and others, as Milra, then we would have a Nithkatal before us, as at Num 1:47, or a Hothkatal - a passive form of the Kal, the existence of which, however, is not fully established. Rather this word is to be regarded as נשׁתּוּה (Nithpa. as Deu 21:8; Eze 23:48) without the dagesh, and lengthened; the form of the word נשׁתּוה, as found in the Cod. Jaman., aims at this. But the form נשׁתּוה is better established, e.g., by Cod. 1294, as Milel. Kimchi, Michlol 131a (cf. Ewald, 132c), regards it as a form without the dagesh, made up the Niph. and Hithpa., leaving the penultima toning unexplained. Bertheau regards it as a voluntative: let us compare (as נשׁתּעה, Isa 41:23); but as he himself says, the reflexive form does not accord with this sense. Hitzig has adopted the right explanation (cf. Olshausen, 275, and Bttcher, 1072, who, however, registers it at random as an Ephraimitism). נשׁתּוה is a Niphal, with a transposition of consonants for נשׁותה, since נשׁותה passes over into נשׁתּוה. Such is now the genus in the arrangement; the Milra form would be as masc. syntactically inaccurate. "The finite following the subjects is regulated by the gender and number of that which is next before it, as at Sa2 3:22; Sa2 20:20; Psa 55:6; Job 19:15" (Hitzig).
This verse stands in close connection with the preceding, for it speaks of the contentious woman:
He that restraineth her restraineth the wind,
And oil meeteth his right hand.
The connection of the plur. subject צפניה = quicunque eam cohibet, with a sing. predicate, is not to be disputed (vid., Pro 3:18 and Pro 28:16, Chethı̂b); but can צפן gain from the meaning of preserving, laying up, also the meanings of keeping, of confining, and shutting up? - for these meanings we have כּלא and עצר (cf. צרר, Pro 30:4). In 16b it lies nearer to see in ימינו the object of the clause (oil meeteth his right hand) than the subject (his right hand meeteth oil), for the gender of ימין directs to יד (e.g., Eze 15:6; cf. 6a, where נאדּרי is as to gender indifferent): it is fem., while on the contrary שׁמן is generally masc. (cf. Sol 1:3). There is no reason for regarding ימינו as an adverbial accus. (he meets oil with his right hand), or, with Hitzig, as a second subject (he meets oil, his right hand); the latter, in the order of the words lying before us, is not at all possible. We suppose that יקרא, as at Gen 49:1, is equivalent to יקרה (Ewald, 116c), for the explanation oleum dexterae ejus praeconem agit (Cocceius, Schultens) does not explain, but only darkens: and oleum dexter su legit, i.e., colligit (Fleischer), is based on an untenable use of the word. As one may say of person to person, קרך, occurrit tibi, Num 25:18, so also יקרא (יקרה), of a thing that meets a man or one of his members; and if we compare לקראת and קרי, then for 16b the meaning is possible: oil meets his right hand; the quarrelsome woman is like oil that cannot be held in the hand, which struggles against that which holds it, for it always glides out of the hand. Thus also Luther: "and seeks to hold oil with his hand," as if he read יקמץ. In fact, this word was more commonly used as the expression of untenableness than the colourless and singular word יקרא, which, besides, is so ambiguous, that none of the old translators has thought on any other קרא than that which signifies "to call," "to name." The Jewish interpreters also adhere to this nearest lying קרא, and, moreover, explain, as the Syr., Targ., Aquila, Symmachus, Jerome, and the Venet., שׁמן ימינו, according to the accentuation as genit. connected, e.g., Rashi: he calls for oil to his right hand, viz., as the means of purification from leprosy, Lev 8:14 [Lev 14:16]; and Aben Ezra: even when he calls for oil to his right hand, i.e., would move them to silence with the precious anointing oil. Perhaps Pro 27:16 was originally an independent proverb as follows:
צפני הון צפן רוח
ושמן ימינו יקרא
He who layeth up riches in store layeth up the wind,
And he nameth them the fat of his right hand;
i.e., he sees in them that which makes his right hand fat and strong (שׁמן, as at Psa 109:24, opp. Zac 11:17; cf. בּמשׁמנּיו, Isa 10:16, and regarding Ἐσμούν, the Phoenician god of health, at Isa 59:10), and yet it is only the wind, i.e., something that is worthless and transient, which he stored up (צפן, as at Pro 13:22, and in מצפּניו, Obad. Oba 1:6). הון is used as it frequently occurs in the Book of Proverbs, e.g., Pro 11:4, and the whole proverb expresses by another figure the same as Pro 18:11. The fact that צפון (רוח), Pro 25:23, and as a contrast thereto in the compass ימין (the south), hovered before the poet, may not have been without its influence on the choice of the words and expression here.
This proverb expresses the influence arising from the intercourse of man with man:
Iron is sharpened by iron,
And a man may sharpen the appearance of another.
When the Masora reads יחד, Ewald remarks, it interprets the word as denoting "at the same time," and the further meaning of the proverb must then accord therewith. Accordingly he translates: "iron together with iron! and one together with the face of another!" But then the prep. ב or עם is wanting after the second יחד - for יחד is, in spite of Ewald, 217h, never a prep. - and the "face," 17b, would be a perplexing superfluity. Hitzig already replies, but without doing homage to the traditional text-punctuation, that such a violence to the use of language, and such a darkening of the thought, is not at all to be accepted. He suggests four ways of interpreting יחד: (1) the adverb יחד, united, properly (taken accusat.) union; (2) יחד, Psa 86:11, imper. of the Piel יחד, unite; (3) יחדּ, Job 3:6, jussive of the Kal חדה, gaudeat; and (4) as Kimchi, in Michlol 126a, jussive of the Kal חדה (= חדד) acuere, after the form תחז, Mic 4:11. ויּחץ, Gen 32:8, etc. in p. יחד, after the form אחז, Job 23:9. ויּחל, Kg2 1:2 (= ויּחלא, Ch2 16:12). If we take יחד with בּרזל, then it is priori to be supposed that in יחד the idea of sharpening lies; in the Arab. iron is simply called hadyda = חדוּד, that which is sharpened, sharp; and a current Arab. proverb says: alḥadyd balḥadyd yuflah = ferrum ferro diffinditur (vid., Freytag under the word falah). But is the traditional text-punctuation thus understood to be rightly maintained? It may be easily changed in conformity with the meaning, but not so that with Bttcher we read יחד and יחד, the fut. Kal of חדד: "iron sharpeneth itself on iron, and a man sharpeneth himself over against his neighbour" - for פני after a verb to be understood actively, has to be regarded as the object - but since יחד is changed into יחד (fut. Hiph. of חדד), and יחד into יחד or יחד (fut. Hiph. of חדד, after the form אחל, incipiam, Deu 2:25, or אחל, profanabo, Eze 39:7; Num 30:3). The passive rendering of the idea 17a and the active of 17b thus more distinctly appear, and the unsuitable jussive forms are set aside: ferrum ferro exacuitur, et homo exacuit faciem amici sui (Jerome, Targ., the Venet.). But that is not necessary. As ויּעל may be the fut. of the Hiph. (he brought up) as well as of the Kal (he went up), so יחד may be regarded as fut. Kal, and יחד as fut. Hiph. Fleischer prefers to render יחד also as Hiph.: aciem exhibet, like יעשׁיר, divitias acquirit, and the like; but the jussive is not favourable to this supposition of an intransitive (inwardly transitive) Hiph. It may indeed be said that the two jussives appear to be used, according to poetic licence, with the force of indicatives (cf. under Pro 12:26), but the repetition opposes it. Thus we explain: iron is sharpened [gewetzt, Luther uses this appropriate word] by iron (ב of the means, not of the object, which was rather to be expected in 17b after Pro 20:30), and a man whets פני, the appearance, the deportment, the nature, and manner of the conduct of his neighbour. The proverb requires that the intercourse of man with man operate in the way of sharpening the manner and forming the habits and character; that one help another to culture and polish of manner, rub off his ruggedness, round his corners, as one has to make use of iron when he sharpens iron and seeks to make it bright. The jussive form is the oratorical form of the expression of that which is done, but also of that which is to be done.
The following three proverbs are connected with 17 in their similarity of form: -
18 Whosoever watcheth the fig-tree will enjoy its fruit;
And he that hath regard to his master attaineth to honour.
The first member is, as in Pro 27:17, only the means of contemplating the second; as faithful care of the tree has fruit for a reward, so faithful regard for one's master, honour; נצר is used as at Isa 27:3, שׁמר as at Hos 4:10, etc. - the proverb is valid in the case of any kind of master up to the Lord of lords. The fig-tree presented itself, as Heidenheim remarks, as an appropriate figure; because in the course of several years' training it brings forth its fruit, which the language of the Mishna distinguishes as פגין, unripe, בוחל, half ripe, and צמל, fully ripe. To fruit in the first line corresponds honour in the second, which the faithful and attentive servant attains unto first on the part of his master, and then also from society in general.
19 As it is with water, face correspondeth to face,
So also the heart of man to man.
Thus the traditional text is to be translated; for on the supposition that כּמּים must be used for כּבמּים, yet it might not be translated: as in waters face corresponds to face (Jerome: quomodo in aquis resplendent vultus respicientium), because כּ (instar) is always only a prep. and never conj. subordinating to itself a whole sentence (vid., under Psa 38:14). But whether כּמּים, "like water," may be an abridgment of a sentence: "like as it is with water," is a question, and the translation of the lxx (Syr., Targ., Arab.), ὥσπερ οὐχ ὅμοια πρόσωπα προσώποις, κ.τ.λ., appears, according to Bttcher's ingenious conjecture, to have supposed כאשר במים, from which the lxx derived כּאין דּמים, sicut non pares. The thought is beautiful: as in the water-mirror each one beholds his own face (Luther: der Scheme = the shadow), so out of the heart of another each sees his own heart, i.e., he finds in another the dispositions and feelings of his own heart (Fleischer) - the face finds in water its reflection, and the heart of a man finds in man its echo; men are ὁμοιοπαθεῖς, and it is a fortunate thing that their heart is capable of the same sympathetic feelings, so that one can pour into the heart of another that which fills and moves his own heart, and can there find agreement with it, and a re-echo. The expression with ל is extensive: one corresponds to another, one belongs to another, is adapted to the other, turns to the other, so that the thought may be rendered in manifold ways: the divinely-ordained mutual relationship is always the ground-thought. This is wholly obliterated by Hitzig's conjecture כּמוּם, "what a mole on the face is to the face, that is man's heart to man," i.e., the heart is the dark spot in man, his partie honteuse. But the Scripture nowhere speaks of the human heart after this manner, at least the Book of Proverbs, in which לב frequently means directly the understanding. Far more intelligible and consistent is the conjecture of Mendel Stern, to which Abrahamsohn drew my attention: כּמּים הפּנים לפנים, like water (viz., flowing water), which directs its course always forward, thus (is turned) the heart of man to man. This conjecture removes the syntactic harshness of the first member without changing the letters, and illustrates by a beautiful and excellent figure the natural impulse moving man to man. It appears, however, to us, in view of the lxx, more probable that כּמּים is abbreviated from the original כאשׁר במים (cf. Pro 24:29).
The following proverb has, in common with the preceding, the catchword האדם, and the emphatic repetition of the same expression:
20 The under-world and hell are not satisfied,
And the eyes of man are not satisfied.
A Kerı̂ ואבדון is here erroneously noted by Lwenstein, Stuart, and others. The Kerı̂ to ואבדּה is here ואבדּו, which secures the right utterance of the ending, and is altogether wanting
(Note: In Gesen. Lex. this אבדה stands to the present day under אבדה.)
in many MSS (e.g., Cod. Jaman). The stripping off of the ן from the ending ון is common in the names of persons and places (e.g., שׁלמה, lxx Σολομών and שׁלה); we write at pleasure either ow or oh (e.g., מגדּו), Olsh. 215g. אבדּה (אבדּו) of the nature of a proper name, is already found in its full form אבדּון at Pro 15:11, along with שׁאול; the two synonyms are, as was there shown, not wholly alike in the idea they present, as the underworld and realm of death, but are related to each other almost the same as Hades and Gehenna; אבדון is what is called
(Note: Vid., Frankel, Zu dem Targum der Propheten (1872), p. 25.)
in the Jonathan-Targum בּית אבדּנא, the place of destruction, i.e., of the second death (מותא תנינא). The proverb places Hades and Hell on the one side, and the eyes of man on the other, on the same line in respect of their insatiableness. To this Fleischer adds the remark: cf. the Arab. al'ayn l'a taml'aha all'a altrab, nothing fills the eyes of man but at last the dust of the grave - a strikingly beautiful expression! If the dust of the grave fills the open eyes, then they are full - fearful irony! The eye is the instrument of seeing, and consequently in so far as it always looks out after and farther, it is the instrument and the representation of human covetousness. The eye is filled, is satisfied, is equivalent to: human covetousness is appeased. But first "the desire of the eye," Jo1 2:16, is meant in the proper sense. The eyes of men are not satisfied in looking and contemplating that which is attractive and new, and no command is more difficult to be fulfilled than that in Isa 33:15, "...that shutteth his eyes from seeing evil." There is therefore no more inexhaustible means, impiae sepculationis, than the desire of the eyes.
There follow here two proverbs which have in common with each other the figures of the crucible and the mortar:
21 The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold,
And a man according to the measure of his praise;
i.e., silver and gold one values according to the result of the smelting crucible and the smelting furnace; but a man, according to the measure of public opinion, which presupposes that which is said in Pro 12:8, "according to the measure of his wisdom is a man praised." מהלל is not a ῥῆμα μέσον like our Leumund [renown], but it is a graduated idea which denotes fame down to evil Lob [fame], which is only Lob [praise] per antiphrasin. Ewald otherwise: "according to the measure of his glorying;" or Hitzig better: "according to the measure with which he praises himself," with the remark: "מהלל is not the act, the glorifying of self, but the object of the glorying (cf. מבטח, מדון), i.e., that in which he places his glory." Bttcher something further: "one recognises him by that which he is generally wont to praise in himself and others, persons and things." Thus the proverb is to be understood; but in connection with Pro 12:8 it seems to us more probable that המלל is thought of as going forth from others, and not as from himself. In line first, Pro 17:3 is repeated; the second line there is conformable to the first, according to which it should be here said that the praise of a man is for him what the crucible and the furnace is for metal. The lxx, Syr., Targ., Jerome, and the Venet. read לפי מהללו, and thereby obtain more concinnity. Luther accordingly translates:
A man is tried by the mouth of his praise,
As silver in the crucible and gold in the furnace.
Others even think to interpret man as the subject examining, and so they vocalize the words. Thus e.g., Fleischer: Qualis est catinus argento et fornax auro, talis sit homo ori a quo laudatur, so that "mouth of his praise" is equivalent to the man who praises him with his mouth. But where, as here, the language relates to relative worth, the supposition for לפי, that it denotes, as at Pro 12:8, pro ratione, is tenable. And that the mouth of him who praises is a smelting crucible for him who is praised, or that the praised shall be a crucible for the mouth of him who praises, would be a wonderful comparison. The lxx has here also an additional distich which has no place in the Heb. text.
22 Though thou bruise a fool in a mortar among grit with a pestle,
Yet would not his folly depart from him.
According to the best accredited accentuations, אם־תּכתּושׁ has Illuj. and בּמּכתּשׁ has Pazer, not Rebia, which would separate more than the Dechi, and disturb the sequence of the thoughts. The first line is long; the chief disjunctive in the sphere of the Athnach is Dechi of 'הר, this disjoins more than the Pazer of 'בּם, and this again more than the Legarmeh of את־האויל. The ה of הרפות does not belong to the stem of the word (Hitzig), but is the article; רפות (from רוּף, to shake, to break; according to Schultens, from רפת, to crumble, to cut in pieces, after the form קיטור, which is improbable) are bruised grains of corn (peeled grain, grit), here they receive this name in the act of being bruised; rightly Aquila and Theodotion, ἐν μέσῳ ἐμπτισσομένων (grains of corn in the act of being pounded or bruised), and the Venet. μέσον τῶν πτισανῶν.
(Note: The lxx translates ἐν μέσῳ συνεδρίου, and has thereby misled the Syr., and mediately the Targum.)
In בּעלי (thus to be written after Michlol 43b, not בּעלי, as Heidenheim writes it without any authority) also the article is contained. מכתשׁ is the vessel, and the ב of בעלי is Beth instrumenti; עלי (of lifting up for the purpose of bruising) is the club, pestle (Luther: stempffel = pounder); in the Mishna, Beza i. 5, this word denotes a pounder for the cutting out of flesh. The proverb interprets itself: folly has become to the fool as a second nature, and he is not to be delivered from it by the sternest discipline, the severest means that may be tried; it is not indeed his substance (Hitzig), but an inalienable accident of his substance.
An exhortation to rural industry, and particularly to the careful tending of cattle for breeding, forms the conclusion of the foregoing series of proverbs, in which we cannot always discern an intentional grouping. It is one of the Mashal-odes spoken of vol. i. p. 12. It consists of 11 = 4 + 7 lines.
23 Give heed to the look of thy small cattle,
Be considerate about the herds.
24 For prosperity continues not for ever;
And does the diadem continue from generation to generation?
25 (But) the hay is gone, and the after-growth appears,
And the grass of the mountains is gathered:
26 Lambs serve to clothe thee,
And goats are the price of a field.
27 And there is plenty of goats' milk for thy nourishment,
And for the nourishment of thy house,
And subsistence for thy maidens.
The beginning directs to the fut., as is not common in these proverbs, vid., Pro 26:26. With ידע, to take knowledge, which is strengthened by the inf. intensivus, is interchanged שׁית לב, which means at Pro 24:32 to consider well, but here, to be careful regarding anything. צאן is the small or little cattle, thus sheep and goats. Whether לעדרים (here and at Isa 17:2) contains the article is questionable (Gesen. 35. 2 A), and, since the herds are called העדרים, is not probable; thus: direct thy attention to the herds, that is, to this, that thou hast herds. פּני is the external side in general; here, the appearance which the sheep present; thus their condition as seen externally. In Pro 27:24 I formerly regarded נזר as a synonym of גּז, to be understood of the produce of wool, or, with Hitzig, of the shearing of the meadow, and thus the produce of the meadow. But this interpretation of the word is untenable, and Pro 27:25 provides for Pro 27:24, thus understood, no natural continuation of thought. That חסן signifies a store, fulness of possessions, property, and abundance, has already been shown under Pro 15:6; but נזר is always the mark of royal, and generally of princely dignity, and here denotes, per meton. signi pro re signata, that dignity itself. With the negative expression in 24a the interrogative in 24b is interchanged as at Job 40:9, with the implied negative answer; ואם, of an oath ("and truly not," as at Isa 62:8), presents the same thought, but with a passionate colouring here unnecessary. Rightly Fleischer: "ready money, moveable property, and on the other hand the highest positions of honour, are far more easily torn away from a man, and secure to him far less of quiet prosperity, than husbandry, viewed particularly with respect to the rearing of cattle." In other words: the possession of treasures and of a lofty place of power and of honour has not in itself the security of everlasting duration; but rural economy, and particularly the rearing of cattle, gives security for food and clothing. The Chethı̂b לדור דור is found, e.g., at Exo 3:15; the Kerı̂ לדּור ודור substitutes the more usual form. If Pro 27:25 was an independent whole (Hitzig: grass vanishes and fresh green appears, etc.), then the meaning here and onward would be that in the sphere of husbandry it is otherwise than is said in Pro 27:24 : there that which is consumed renews itself, and there is an enlarging circulation. But this contrast to Pro 27:24 must be expressed and formed unambiguously. The connection is rather this, that Pro 27:23 commends the rearing of cattle, Pro 27:24 confirms it, and 25ff. discuss what real advantages, not dependent on the accidents of public and social life, it brings.
I rejoice to agree with Fleischer in the opinion that the perfects of Pro 27:25 form a complex hypothetical antecedent to Pro 27:26 : Quum evanuerit gramen (sc. vetus) et apparuerint herbae recentes et collecta fuerint pabula montium, agni vestitui tuo (inservient) et pretium agri (sc. a te emendi) erunt hirci, i.e., then wilt thou nourish thy herds of sheep and goats with the grass on thy fields, and with the dried gathered hay; and these will yield for thee, partly immediately and partly by the money derived therefrom (viz., from the valuable goats not needed for the flocks), all that is needful for thy life. He also remarks, under גּלה, that it means to make a place void, empty (viz., to quit the place, vacuer la forteresse); hence to leave one's fatherland or home, to wander abroad; thus, rhetorically and poetically of things and possessions: to disappear. חציר (from חצר, to be green) is hay, and דּשׁא the after-growing second crop (after-grass); thus a meadow capable of being mowed a second time is though of. עשּׂבות הרים (with Dag. dirimens, as e.g., ענּבי Deu 32:32) are the herbage of the mountains. The time when one proceeds to sheep-shearing, Pro 27:25 cannot intend to designate; it sets before us an interesting rural harvest scene, where, after a plentiful ingathering of hay, one sees the meadows again overspread with new grass (Ewald); but with us the shearing of sheep takes place in the month of May, when the warm season of the year is just at hand. The poet means in general to say, that when the hay is mown and now the herbage is grown up, and also the fodder from the mountains (Psa 106:20) has been gathered home, when thus the barns are filled with plenty, the husbandman is guaranteed against the future on all sides by his stock of cattle. חלב (from חלב, Arab. halyb, with halab) is the usual metaplastic connecting form of חלב, milk. דּי (from דּי, like חי from חי), generally connected with the genitive of the person or thing, for which anything is sufficient (e.g., Pro 25:16, דּיּך, to which Fleischer compares Arab. hasbuha, tassuha kifayuha), has here the genitive of the thing of which, or in which, one has enough. The complex subject-conception is limited by Rebia, and the governing דּי has the subordinated disjunctive Legarmeh. עזּים is a word of two genders (epicoenum), Gesen. 107, 1d. In וחיּים the influence of the ל still continues; one does not need to supply it meanwhile, since all that maintains and nourishes life can be called חיים (vita = victus), e.g., Pro 3:22. The lxx translates בּיתך by σῶν θεραπόντων, and omits (as also the Syr., but not the Syro-Hexap.) the last line as now superfluous; but that the maids attending to the cattle - by whom we particularly think of milkers - are especially mentioned, intentionally presents the figure of a well-ordered household, full of varied life and activity (Job 40:29).