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Bible Commentaries

Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Proverbs 23

Verse 1

What is before thee - Beware lest dainties tempt thee to excess. Or, “consider diligently who is before thee,” the character and temper of the ruler who invites thee.

Verse 2

i. e., “Restrain thy appetite, eat as if the knife were at thy throat.” Others render the words “thou wilt put a knife to thy throat” etc., i. e., “indulgence at such a time may endanger thy very life.”

Verse 3

Dainties ... deceitful meat - Such as “savory meat,” venison Genesis 27:4, offered not from genuine hospitality, but with some by-ends.

Verse 4

Cease from thine own wisdom - i. e., “Cease from the use of what is in itself most excellent, if it only serves to seek after wealth, and so ministers to evil.” There is no special contrast between “thine own wisdom” and that given from above, though it is of course implied that in ceasing from his own prudence the man is on the way to attain a higher wisdom.

Verse 5

Set thine eyes - literally, as in the margin, i. e., “gaze eagerly upon;” and then we get an emphatic parallelism with the words that follow, “they fly away as an eagle toward heaven;” “certainly make themselves wings.”

Verse 6

A different danger from that of Proverbs 23:1. The hazard here is the hospitality of the purse-proud rich, avaricious or grudging even in his banquets.

Evil eye - Not with the later associations of a mysterious power for mischief, but simply, as in the margin ref. and in Matthew 20:15.

Verse 7

Thinketh - The Hebrew verb is found here only, and probably means, “as he is all along in his heart, so is he (at last) in act.”

Verse 9

The “fool” here is one willfully and persistently deaf to it, almost identical with the scorner.

Verse 11

The reason is given for the precept Proverbs 23:10.

Their redeemer - See Job 19:25 note. It was the duty of the גאל gā'al, the next of kin, to take on himself, in case of murder, the office of avenger of blood Numbers 35:19. By a slight extension the word was applied to one who took on himself a like office in cases short of this. Here, therefore, the thought is that, destitute as the fatherless may seem, there is One who claims them as His next of kin, and will avenge them. Yahweh Himself is in this sense their גאל gā'al, their Redeemer.

Verses 13-14

Hell - Sheol, the world of the dead.

Verses 15-35

The picture ends with the words of the drunkard on waking from his sleep. Unconscious of the excesses of the night, his first thought is to return to his old habit.

When shall I awake ... - Better, when I shall awake I will seek it yet again.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Proverbs 23". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnb/proverbs-23.html. 1870.