Bible Commentaries

Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary

Proverbs 13

Verse 1

The proverb Proverbs 12:28 is so sublime, so weighty, that it manifestly forms a period and conclusion. This is confirmed from the following proverb, which begins like Proverbs 10:1 (cf. 5), and anew stamps the collection as intended for youth:

1 A wise son is his father's correction;

But a scorner listens not to rebuke.

The lxx, which the Syr. follows, translate Ψἱὸς πανουργὸς ὑπήκοος πατρί, whence it is not to be concluded with Lagarde that they read נוסר in the sense of a Ni . tolerativum ; they correctly understood the text according to the Jewish rule of interpretation, “that which is wanting is to be supplied from the context.” The Targ. had already supplied שׁמע from 1b, and is herein followed by Hitzig, as also by Glassius in the Philologia sacra . But such an ellipse is in the Hebr. style without an example, and would be comprehensible only in passionate, hasty discourse, but in a language in which the representation filius sapiens disciplinam patris audit numbers among the anomalies is not in general possible, and has not even its parallel in Tacitus, Ann . xiii. 56: deesse nobis terra, in qua vivamus - in qua moriemur, non potest , because here the primary idea, which the one expression confirms, the other denies, and besides no particle, such as the ו of this passage before us, stands between them. Böttcher therefore maintains the falling out of the verb, and writes יבּין before בּן ; but one says not בין מוסר, but שׁמע מוסר, Proverbs 1:8; Proverbs 4:1; Proverbs 19:27. Should not the clause, as it thus stands, give a sense complete in itself? But מוּסר can hardly, with Schultens and Ewald, be taken as part . Hoph . of יסר : one brought up by his father, for the usage of the language knows מוסר only as part. Hoph . of סוּר . Thus, as Jerome and the Venet . translate: a wise son is the correction of his father, i.e., the product of the same, as also Fleischer explains, “Attribution of the cause, the ground, as elsewhere of the effect.” But we call that which one has trained (vegetable or animal) his Zucht (= παιδεία in the sense of παίδευμα ). To the wise son (Proverbs 10:1) who is indebted to the מוסר אב (Proverbs 4:1), stands opposed the לץ ( vid ., Proverbs 1:22), the mocker at religion and virtue, who has no ear for גּערה, strong and stern words which awaken in him a wholesome fear (cf. Proverbs 17:10, Judges 1:23 : ἐν φόβῳ ).

Verse 2

2 From the fruit of the mouth of a man he himself enjoys good;

But the delight of the godless is violence.

2a = Proverbs 12:14, where ישׂבּע for יאכל . A man with a fruit-bringing mouth, himself enjoys also the blessing of his fruit-producing speech; his food (cf. βρῶμα, John 4:34) is the good action in words, which in themselves are deeds, and are followed by deeds; this good action affords enjoyment not merely to others, but also to himself. Ewald and Bertheau attract יאכל to 2b; so also does Fleischer: “the violence which the בּגדים wish to do to others turns back upon themselves; they must eat it also, i.e., bear its evil consequences.” The thought would then be like Proverbs 10:6 : os improborum obteget violentia , and “to eat violence” is parallel to “to drink (Proverbs 26:6) violence (injury).” But wherefore then the naming of the soul, of which elsewhere it is said that it hungers or satiates itself, but never simply (but cf. Luke 12:19) that it eats? On the contrary, נפשׁ means also appetitus , Proverbs 23:2, and particularly wicked desire, Psalms 27:12; here, as Psalms 35:25, the object of this desire ( Psychol . p. 202). Regarding בגדים, vid ., above, p. 85. There are such as do injury in a cunning deceitful manner to their neighbour to their own advantage. While the former (the righteous) distributes to his neighbour from the inner impulse without having such a result in view, yet according to God's direction he derives enjoyment himself therefrom: the desire of the latter goes to חמס, ἀδικία, and thus to the enjoyment of good unrighteously and violently seized.

Verse 3

3 He that guardeth his mouth keepeth his soul;

He that openeth his lips, to him it is destruction.

3a is extended in Proverbs 21:23 to a distich. Mouth and soul stand in closest interchangeable relation, for speech is the most immediate and continuous expression of the soul; thus whoever guards his mouth keeps his soul (the Venet ., with excellent rendering of the synonym, ὁ τηρῶν τὸ στόμα ἑαυτοῦ φυλάσσει τὴν ψυχὴν ἑαυτοῦ ), for he watches that no sinful vain thoughts rise up in his soul and come forth in words, and because he thus keeps his soul, i.e., himself, safe from the destructive consequences of the sins of the tongue. On the contrary, he who opens wide his lips, i.e., cannot hold his mouth (lxx ὁ δὲ προπετὴς χείλεσιν ), but expresses unexamined and unconsidered whatever comes into his mind and gives delight, he is destruction to himself (supply הוּא ), or to him it is destruction (supply זאת ); both interpretations are possible, the parallelism brings nearer the former, and the parallel Proverbs 18:7 brings nearer the latter. פּשׂק means to spread (Schultens diducere cum ruptura vel ad rupturam usque ), here the lips, Pih . Ezekiel 16:25, the legs, Arab. fashkh, farshkh ; vid ., regarding the R. פש, to extend, to spread out, Fleischer in the supplements to the A. L. Z . 1843, col. 116. Regarding the Mishle word מחתּה, vid ., under Proverbs 10:14.

Verse 4

The three proverbs (Proverbs 13:1-3) which refer to hearing and speaking are now following by a fourth which, like Proverbs 13:2 and Proverbs 13:3, speaks of the נפשׁ .

The soul of the sluggard desires, yet has not;

But the soul of the industrious is richly satisfied.

The view that the o in נפשׁו עצל is the cholem compaginis, Böttcher, §835, meets with the right answer that this would be the only example of a vocal casus in the whole of gnomic poetry; but when on his own part ( Neue Aehrenlese, §1305) he regards נפשׁו as the accus. of the nearer definition (= בּנפשׁו ), he proceeds inadvertently on the view that the first word of the proverb is מתאוּה, while we read מתאוּה, and נפשׁו is thus the nom. of the subject. נפשׁו עצל means “his (the sluggard's) soul” (for עצל occurs as explanatory permutative briefly for נפשׁ עצל ), as סעיפיה פּריּה means “its branches ( i.e., of the fruitful tree),” Isaiah 17:6. One might, it is true, add ה to the following word here, as at Proverbs 14:13; but the similar expression appertaining to the syntax ornata occurs also 2 Samuel 22:33; Psalms 71:7, and elsewhere, where this is impracticable. Meîri appropriately compares the scheme Exodus 2:6, she saw him, viz., the boy. With reference to the ואין here violently (cf. Proverbs 28:1) introduced, Böttcher rightly remarks, that it is an adverb altogether like necquidquam , Proverbs 14:6; Proverbs 20:4, Psalms 68:21, etc., thus: appetit necquidquam anima ejus, scilicet pigri . 4b shows the meaning of the desire that has not, for there תדשּׁן occurs, a favourite strong Mishle word (Proverbs 11:25; Proverbs 28:25, etc.) for abundant satisfaction (the lxx here, as at 28:25, ἐν ἐπιμελείᾳ, sc. ἔσονται, instead of which, Montfaucon supposed πιμελείᾳ, which is, however, a word not authenticated). The slothful wishes and dreams of prosperity and abundance (cf. Proverbs 21:25., a parallel which the Syr. has here in view), but his desire remains unsatisfied, since the object is not gained but only lost by doing nothing; the industrious gain, and that richly, what the slothful wishes for, but in vain.

Verse 5

Two proverbs of the character of the righteous and of the effect of righteousness:

A deceitful thing the righteous hateth;

But the godless disgraceth and putteth to shame.

With דּבּר in the sphere of an intelligible generality (as here of falsehood, or Psalms 41:9 of worthlessness) a concrete event is in view, as with דּברי in the following plur. a general fact is separated into its individual instances and circumstances ( vid ., at Psalms 65:4); for דבר means not only the word in which the soul reveals itself, but also any fact in which an inner principle or a general fact or a whole comes forth to view. The righteous hateth all that bears in it the character of a falsehood (punctuate דּבר־שׁקר with Gaja, cf. Proverbs 12:19), but the godless ... Should we now, with Bertheau, Hitzig, and others, translate “acteth basely and shamefully”? It is true that both Hiphs . may be regarded as transitive, but this expression gives not right contrast to 5a, and is pointless. We have seen at Proverbs 10:5 that הבישׁ, like השׂכּיל, has also a causative signification: to put to shame, i.e., bring shame upon others, and that Proverbs 19:26, where מבישׁ וּמחפּיר are connected, this causative signification lies nearer than the intrinsically transitive. Thus it will also here be meant, that while the righteous hateth all that is false or that is tainted by falsehood, the godless on the contrary loves to disgrace and to put to shame. But it is a question whether יבאישׁ is to be derived from בּאשׁ = בּושׁ, and thus is of the same meaning as יבישׁ ; הבאישׁ, Isaiah 30:5, which there signifies pudefactum esse , is pointed הבאישׁ, and is thus derived from a יבשׁ = בּושׁ, vid ., 2 Samuel 19:6. But הבאישׁ occurs also as Hiph . of בּאשׁ, and means transitively to make of an evil savour, Genesis 34:30, cf. Exodus 5:21, as well as intransitively to come into evil savour, 1 Samuel 27:12. In this sense of putidum faciens , bringing into evil savour, יבאישׁ occurs here as at Proverbs 19:26, suitably along with יחפיר ; Proverbs 19:26 is the putidum facere by evil report (slander), into which the foolish son brings his parents, here by his own evil report, thus to be thought of as brought about by means of slander. The old translators here fall into error; Luther renders both Hiphils reflexively; only the Venet . (after Kimchi) is right: ὀζώσει (from an ὀζοῦν as trans. to ὀζεῖν ) καὶ ἀτιμώσει, he makes to be of ill odour and dishonours.

Verse 6

6 Righteousness protecteth an upright walk,

And godlessness bringeth sinners to destruction.

The double thought is closely like that of Proverbs 11:5, but is peculiarly and almost enigmatically expressed. As there, צדקה and רשׁעה are meant of a twofold inner relation to God, which consists of a ruling influence over man's conduct and a determination of his walk. But instead of naming the persons of the תּמימי דּרך and חטּאים as the objects of this influence, the proverb uses the abstract expression, but with personal reference, תּם־דּרך and חטּאת dna תּם, and designates in two words the connection of this twofold character with the principles of their conduct. What is meant by תּצּר and תּסלּף proceeds from the contrasted relationship of the two (cf. Proverbs 22:12). נצר signifies observare , which is not suitable here, but also tueri ( τηρεῖν ), to which סלּף ( vid ., at Proverbs 11:3, and in Gesen. Thesaurus ), not so much in the sense of “to turn upside down,” pervertere (as Proverbs 11:3; Proverbs 23:8), as in the sense of “to overthrow,” evertere (as e.g., Proverbs 21:12), forms a fitting contrast. He who walks forth with an unfeigned and untroubled pure mind stands under the shield and the protection of righteousness (cf. with this prosopopoeia Psalms 25:21), from which such a walk proceeds, and at the same time under the protection of God, to whom righteousness appertains, is well-pleasing. but he who in his conduct permits himself to be determined by sin, godlessness (cf. Zechariah 5:8) from which such a love for sin springs forth, brings to destruction; in other words: God, from whom the רשע, those of a perverse disposition, tear themselves away, makes the sin their snare by virtue of the inner connection established by Him between the רשׁעה and the destruction (Isaiah 9:17). In the lxx this 6th verse was originally wanting; the translation in the version of Aquila, in the Complut. and elsewhere, which the Syr. follows, falsely makes חטאת the subj.: τοὺς δὲ ἀσεβεῖς φαύλους ποιεῖ ἁμαρτία .

Verse 7

Two proverbs of riches and poverty: -

There is one who maketh himself rich and hath nothing;

There is another who representeth himself poor amid great riches.

A sentence which includes in itself the judgment which Proverbs 12:9 expresses. To the Hithpa . התכּבּד (to make oneself of importance) there are associated here two others, in the meaning to make oneself something, without anything after it, thus to place oneself so or so, Ewald, §124a. To the clauses with ו there is supplied a self-intelligible לּו .

Verse 8

8 A ransom for a man's life are his riches;

But the poor heareth no threatening.

Bertheau falls into error when he understands גּערה of warning; the contrast points to threatening with the loss of life. The wealth of the rich before the judgment is not here to be thought of; for apart from this, that the Torâ only in a single case permits, or rather ordains (Exodus 21:29.), ransom from the punishment of death, and declares it in all other cases inadmissible, Numbers 35:31. (one might indeed think of an administration of justice not strictly in accordance with the Mosaic law, or altogether accessible to bribery), 8b does not accord therewith, since the poor in such cases would fare ill, because one would lay hold on his person. But one may think e.g., on waylayers as those introduced as speaking Proverbs 1:11-14. The poor has no room to fear that such will threateningly point their swords against his breast, for there is nothing to be got from him: he has nothing, one sees it in him and he is known as such. But the rich is a valuable prize for them, and he has to congratulate himself if he is permitted to escape with his life. Also in the times of war and commotion it may be seen that riches endanger the life of their possessor, and that in fortunate cases they are given as a ransom for his life, while his poverty places the poor man in safety. To לא שׁמע Hitzig fittingly compares Job 3:18; Job 39:7 : he does not hear, he has no need to hear. Michaelis, Umbreit, Löwenstein (who calls to remembrance the state of things under despotic governments, especially in the East) also explain 8b correctly; and Fleischer remarks: pauper minas hostiles non audit , i.e., non minatur ei hostis . Ewald's syntactic refinement: “Yet he became poor who never heard an accusation,” presents a thought not in harmony with 8a.

Verse 9

The three following proverbs in Proverbs 13:9-11 have at least this in common, that the two concluding words of each correspond with one another almost rhythmically.

9 The light of the righteous burneth joyously,

And the lamp of the godless goeth out.

The second line = Proverbs 24:20, cf. Proverbs 20:20. In the Book of Job 18:5., אור רשׁעים ידעך and נרו עליו ידעך (cf. Proverbs 21:17) stand together, and there is spoken of (Proverbs 29:3) a divine נר as well as a divine אור which enlightens the righteous; however, one must say that the poet, as he, Proverbs 6:3, deliberately calls the Torâ אור, and the commandment, as derived from it and separated, נר, so also here designedly calls the righteous אור, viz., אור היום (Proverbs 4:18, cf. 2 Peter 1:19), and the godless נר, viz., נר דלוק - the former imparts the sunny daylight, the latter the light of tapers set in darkness. The authentic punctuation is אור־צדיקים, Ben-Naphtali's is ' אור צ' si s'i without Makkeph . To ישׂמח Hitzig compares the “laughing tongue of the taper” of Meidâni, iii. 475; Kimchi also the “laughing, i.e., amply measured span, טפח שׂוהק,” of the Talmud; for the light laughs when it brightly shines, and increases rather than decreases; in Arab. samuḥa has in it the idea of joy directly related to that of liberality. The lxx translates ישׂמח incorrectly by διαπαντός, and has a distich following Proverbs 13:9, the first line of which is ψυχαὶ δόλιαι ( נפשׁ רמיּה ?) πλανῶνται ἐν ἁμαρτίαις, and the second line is from Psalms 37:21.

Verse 10

10 Nothing comes by pride but contention;

But wisdom is with those who receive counsel.

The restrictive רק (only) does not, according to the sense, belong to בּזדון (by pride), but to מצּה, vid ., under Psalms 32:6 and Job 2:10. Of יתּן = there is, vid ., under Proverbs 10:24. Bertheau's “one causes” is not exact, for “one” [ man ] is the most general personal subject, but יתן is in such cases to be regarded as impersonal: by pride is always a something which causes nothing but quarrel and strife, for the root of pride is egoism. Line second is a variant to Proverbs 11:2. Bescheidenheit (modesty) is in our old [German] language exactly equivalent to Klugheit (prudence). But here the צנועים are more exactly designated as permitting themselves to be advised; the elsewhere reciprocal נועץ has here once a tolerative signification, although the reciprocal is also allowable: with such as reciprocally advise themselves, and thus without positiveness supplement each his own knowledge by means of that of another. Most interpreters regard 10b as a substantival clause, but why should not יתן be carried forward? With such as permit themselves to be advised, or are not too proud to sustain with others the relation of giving and receiving, there is wisdom, since instead of hatred comes wisdom - the peaceful fruit resulting from an interchange of views.

Verse 11

11 Wealth by means of fraud always becomes less;

But he that increaseth it by labour gains always more.

We punctuate הון־מהבל (with Makkeph, as in Ven. 1521, Antw. 1582, Frank.-on-the-Oder 1595, Gen. 1618, Leyden 1662), not הון מהבל (as other editions, and e.g., also Löwenstein); for the meaning is not that the wealth becomes less by הבל (Targ., but not the Syr.), or that it is less than הבל (Umbreit), but הון־מהבל is one idea: wealth proceeding from הבל ; but הבל tub ;הב, properly a breath (Theod. ἀπὸ ἀτμοῦ or ἀτμίδος ), then appearance without reality (Aquila, ἀπὸ ματαιότητος ), covers itself here by that which we call swindle, i.e., by morally unrestrained fraudulent and deceitful speculation in contrast to solid and real gain. The translations: ἐπισπουδαζομένη μετὰ ἀνομίας (lxx), ὑπερσπουδαζομένη (Symmachus, Quinta ),

(Note: A fragment of an anonymous translation, so called from the place it holds in Origen's Hexapla.)

festinata (Jerome), do not necessarily suppose the phrase מהבּל = מבהל, Proverbs 20:21 Kerı̂, for wealth which comes מהבל is obtained in a windy (unsubstantial) manner and as if by storm, of which the proverb holds good: “ so gewonnen so zerronnen ” (= quickly come, quickly go). מהבל needs neither to be changed into that unhebraic מהבּל (Hitzig) nor into the cognate מבהל (Ewald), but yet inferior to מהבל in the content of its idea. The contrast of one who by fraud and deception quickly arrives at wealth is one who brings it together in his hand, ἐπὶ χειρός ( Venet .), i.e., always as often as he can bear it in his hand and bring it forth (Ewald, Bertheau, Elster, and Lagarde), or according to the measure of the hand, κατὰ χεῖρα (which means “according to external ability”), so that על, which is applied to the formation of adverbs, e.g., Psalms 31:24 (Hitzig) - by both explanations על־יד has the meaning of “gradually,” - is used as in the post-bibl. Hebr. על יד על יד = מעט מעט, e.g., Schabbath 156a ( vid ., Aruch under על ) (distinguish from ביד = with thought, intentionally, Berachoth 52b). There is scarcely a word having more significations that יד . Connected with על, it means at one time side or place, at another mediation or direction; that which is characteristic here is the omission of the pronoun ( על־ידו, על־ידיו ). The lxx translates על יד with the unrestrained freedom which it allows to itself by μετ ̓ εὐσεβείας, and has following πληθυνθήσεται another line, δίκαιος οἰκτείρει καὶ κιχρᾷ (from Psalms 37:26).

Verse 12

The figures of paradise in Proverbs 13:12 and Proverbs 13:14 require us to take along with them the intermediate verse (Proverbs 13:13).

12 Deferred waiting maketh the heart sick,

And a tree of life is a wish accomplished.

Singularly the lxx Κρείσσων ἐναρχόμενος βοηθῶν καρδίᾳ, followed by the Syr. (which the Targ. Transcribes):

(Note: That the Targum of the Proverbs is a Jewish elaboration of the Peshito text, vid ., Nöldeke in Merx' Archiv, Bd. ii. pp. 246-49.)

Better is he who begins to help than he who remains in hesitating expectation, by which תחלת is doubled, and is derived once from הוחיל, to wait, and the second time from החל, to begin. If the lxx, with its imitators, deteriorates to such a degree proverbs so clear, beautiful, and inviolable, what may one expect from it in the case of those not easily understood! משּׁך signifies also, Isaiah 18:2, to be widely extended (cf. Arab. meshaḳ ), here in the sense of time, as נמשׁך, to prolong, Isaiah 13:22, and post-bibl. משׁך הזּמן, the course of time. Regarding תּוחלת, vid ., at Proverbs 10:28, where as Proverbs 11:27 תּקות, here תּאוה, as also Psalms 78:29 of the object of the wish, and with בוא in the sense of being fulfilled (cf. Joshua 21:43), as there with הביא in the sense of accomplishing or performing. Extended waiting makes the heart sick, causes heart-woe ( מחלה, part. fem . Hiph . of חלה, to be slack, feeble, sick; R. חל, to loosen, to make loose); on the contrary, a wish that has been fulfilled is a tree of life (cf. p. 23), of a quickening and strengthening influence, like that tree of paradise which was destined to renew and extend the life of man.

Verse 13

13 Whoever despiseth the word is in bonds to it,

And he that feareth the commandment is rewarded.

The word is thought of as ordering, and thus in the sense of the commandment, e.g., 1 Samuel 17:19; Daniel 9:23, Daniel 9:25. That which is here said is always true where the will of a man has subordinated itself to the authoritative will of a superior, but principally the proverb has in view the word of God, the מצוה κατ ̓ ἐξ . as the expression of the divine will, which (Proverbs 6:3) appears as the secondary, with the תורה, the general record of the divine will. Regarding בּוּז ל of contemptuous, despiteful opposition, vid ., at Proverbs 6:30, cf. Proverbs 11:12. Joël records the prevailing tradition, for he translates: “Whoever despises advice rushes into destruction; whoever holds the commandment in honour is perfect.” But that ישׁלּם is to be understood neither of perfection nor of peace (lxx and Jerome), but means compensabitur (here not in the sense of punishment, but of reward), we know from Proverbs 11:31. The translation also of יחבל לו by “he rushes into destruction” (lxx καταφθαρήσεται, which the Syr.-Hexap. repeats; Luther, “he destroys himself;” the Venet . οἰχησεταί οἱ, periet sibi ) fails, for one does not see what should have determined the poet to choose just this word, and, instead of the ambiguous dat. ethicus, not rather to say יחבּל נפשׁו . So also this יחבל is not with Gesenius to be connected with חבל = Arab. khabl, corrumpere , but with חבל = Arab. ḥabl, ligare, obligare . Whoever places himself contemptuously against a word which binds him to obedience will nevertheless not be free from that word, but is under pledge until he redeem the pledge by the performance of the obedience refused, or till that higher will enforce payment of the debt withheld by visiting with punishment. Jerome came near the right interpretation: ipse se in futurum obligat ; Abulwalîd refers to Exodus 22:25; and Parchon, Rashi, and others paraphrase: משׁכּן יתמשׁכּן עליו, he is confiscated as by mortgage. Schultens has, with the correct reference of the לו not to the contemner, but to the word, well established and illustrated this explanation: he is pledged by the word, Arab. marhwan ( rahyn ), viz., pigneratus paenae (Livius, xxix. 36). Ewald translates correctly: he is pledged to it; and Hitzig gives the right explanation: “A חבלה [a pledge, cf. Proverbs 20:16] is handed over to the offended law with the חבוּלה [the bad conduct] by the despiser himself, which lapses when he has exhausted the forbearance, so that the punishment is inflicted.” The lxx has another proverb following Proverbs 13:13 regarding υἱὸς δόλιος and οἰκέτης σοφός ; the Syr. has adopted it; Jerome has here the proverb of the animae dolosae ( vid ., at Proverbs 13:9).

Verse 14

14 The doctrine of the wise man is a fountain of life,

To escape the snares of death.

An integral distich, vid ., p. 8 of the Introduction. Essentially like 14a, Proverbs 10:11 says, “a fountain of life is the mouth of the righteous.” The figure of the fountain of life with the teleological ' לסור וגו (the ל of the end and consequence of the action) is repeated Proverbs 14:27. The common non-biblical figure of the laquei mortis leads also to the idea of death as יקוּשׁ a fowler, Psalms 91:3. If it is not here a mere formula for the dangers of death (Hitzig), then the proverb is designed to state that the life which springs from the doctrine of the wise man as from a fountain of health, for the disciple who will receive it, communicates to him knowledge and strength, to know where the snares of destruction lie, and to hasten with vigorous steps away when they threaten to entangle him.

Verse 15

Four proverbs follow, whose connection appears to have been occasioned by the sound of their words ( שׂכל ... כל, בדעת ... ברע, רשׁע ... רישׁ ).

15 Fine prudence produceth favour;

But the way of the malicious is uncultivated.

Regarding שׂכל טוב (thus to be punctuated, without Makkeph with Munach, after Codd. and old editions), vid ., p. 84; for the most part it corresponds with that which in a deep ethical sense we call fine culture. Regarding יתּן, vid ., at Proverbs 10:10 : it is not used here, as there, impersonally, but has a personal subject: he brings forth, causes. Fine culture, which shows men how to take the right side and in all circumstances to strike the right key, exercises a kindly heart-winning influence, not merely, as would be expressed by ימצא חן, to the benefit of its possessor, but, as is expressed by יתּן חן, such as removes generally a partition wall and brings men closer to one another. The איתן [ perennis ], touching it both for the eye and the ear, forms the contrast to יתן חן . This word, an elative formation from יתן = Arab. wtn, denotes that which stretches itself far, and that with reference to time: that which remains the same during the course of time. “That which does not change in time, continuing the same, according to its nature, strong, firm, and thus איתן becomes the designation of the enduring and the solid, whose quality remains always the same.” Thus Orelli, Die hebr. Synonyme der Zeit u. Ewigkeit, 1871. But that in the passage before us it denotes the way of the בגדים as “endlessly going forward,” the explanation of Orelli, after Böttcher ( Collectanea, p. 135), is withdrawn by the latter in the new Aehrenlese (where he reads ריב איתן, “constant strife”). And נחל איתן (Deuteronomy 21:4) does not mean “a brook, the existence of which is not dependent on the weather and the season of the year,” at least not in accordance with the traditional meaning which is given Sota ix. 5 (cf. the Gemara), but a stony valley; for the Mishna says: איתן כמשׁמעו קשׁה, i.e., איתן is here, according to its verbal meaning, equivalent to קשׁה (hard). We are of the opinion that here, in the midst of the discussion of the law of the עגלה ערופה (the ritual for the atonement of a murder perpetrated by an unknown hand), the same meaning of the איתן is certified which is to be adopted in the passage before us. Maimuni

(Note: = R. Moses b. Maimum = Rambam, so called by the Jews from the initial letters of his name = Maimonides, d. 1204.)

(in Sota and Hilchoth Rozeach ix. 2) indeed, with the Mishna and Gemara, thinks the meaning of a “strong rushing wâdy” to be compatible; but קשׁה is a word which more naturally denotes the property of the ground than of a river, and the description, Deuteronomy 21:4 : in a נחל איתן, in which there is no tillage and sowing, demands for נחל here the idea of the valley, and not primarily that of the valley-brook. According to this tradition, the Targum places a תּקּיפא in the Peshito translation of 15b, and the Venet . translates, after Kimchi, ὁδὸς δὲ ἀνταρτῶν (of ἀνταρτής from ἀνταίρειν ) ἰσχυρά . The fundamental idea of remaining like itself, continuing, passes over into the idea of the firm, the hard, so that איתן is a word that interchanges with סלע, Numbers 24:21, and serves as a figurative designation of the rocky mountains, Jeremiah 49:19, and the rocky framework of the earth, Micah 6:2. Thus the meaning of hardness ( πετρῶδες, Matthew 13:5) connects itself with the word, and at the same time, according to Deuteronomy 21:4, of the uncultivable and the uncultivated. The way of the בּגדים, the treacherous, i.e., the manner in which they transact with men, is stiff, as hard as stone, and repulsive; they follow selfish views, never placing themselves in sympathy with the condition of their neighbour; they are without the tenderness which is connected with fine culture; they remain destitute of feeling in things which, as we say, would soften a stone. It is unnecessary to give a catalogue of the different meanings of this איתן, such as vorago (Jerome), a standing bog (Umbreit), and ever trodden way (Bertheau), etc.; Schultens offers, as frequently, the relatively best: at via perfidorum pertinacissime tensum ; but יתן does not mean to strain, but to extend. The lxx has between 15a and 15b the interpolation: τὸ δὲ γνῶναι νόμον διανοίας ἐστὶν ἀγαθῆς .

Verse 16

16 Every prudent man acteth with understanding;

But a fool spreadeth abroad folly.

Hitzig reads, with the Syr. (but not the Targ.) and Jerome, כּל ( omnia agit ), but contrary to the Hebr. syntax. The כּל־ is not feeble and useless, but means that he always acts בּדּעת, mit Bedacht [with judgment] ( opp . בּבלי דעת, inconsulto , Deuteronomy 4:42; Deuteronomy 19:4), while on the contrary the fool displays folly. Proverbs 12:23 and Proverbs 15:2 serve to explain both members of the verse. Bedächtigkeit [judgment] is just knowledge directed to a definite practical end, a clear thought concentrated on a definite point. יקרא, he calls out, and יבּיע, he sputters out, are parallels to יפרשׂ . Fleischer: פּרשׂ, expandit ( opp . Arab. ṭawy, intra animum cohibuit ), as a cloth or paper folded or rolled together, cf. Schiller's

(Note: “ Er breitet es heiter und glänzend aus,

Das zusammengewickelte Leben .”) -

“He spreads out brightly and splendidly

The enveloped life.”

There lies in the word something derisive: as the merchant unrolls and spreads out his wares in order to commend them, so the fool does with his foolery, which he had enveloped, i.e., had the greatest interest to keep concealed within himself - he is puffed up therewith.

Verse 17

17 A godless messenger falls into trouble;

But a faithful messenger is a cordial.

The traditional text, which the translations also give (except Jerome, nuntius impii , and leaving out of view the lxx, which makes of Proverbs 13:17 a history of a foolhardy king and a wise messenger), has not מלאך, but מלאך ; the Masora places the word along with המלאך, Genesis 48:16. And יפל is likewise testified to by all translators; they all read it as Kal, as the traditional text punctuates it; Luther alone departs from this and translates the Hiph .: “a godless messenger bringeth misfortune.” Indeed, this conj. יפּל presses itself forward; and even though one read יפּל, the sense intended by virtue of the parallelism could be no other than that a godless messenger, because no blessing rests on his godlessness, stumbles into disaster, and draws him who gave the commission along with him. The connection מלאך רשׁע is like אדם רשׁע, Proverbs 11:7 (cf. the fem. of this adj., Ezekiel 3:18). Instead of בּרע is בּרעה, Proverbs 17:20; Proverbs 28:14, parallels (cf. also Proverbs 11:5) which the punctuators may have had in view in giving the preference to Kal . With מלאך, from לאך, R. לך, to make to go = to send, is interchanged ציר, from צוּר, to turn, whence to journey (cf. Arab. ṣar, to become, to be, as the vulg. “to be to Dresden = to journey” is used). The connection ציר אמוּנים (cf. the more simple ציר נאמן, Proverbs 25:13) is like Proverbs 14:15, עד אמונים ; the pluralet . means faithfulness in the full extent of the idea. Regarding מרפּא, the means of healing, here to strength, refreshment, vid ., Proverbs 4:22; Proverbs 12:18.

Verse 18

18 Poverty and shame (to him) who rejecteth correction;

But he who regardeth reproof is honoured.

We are neither to supply אישׁ before רישׁ קלונו (or more correctly, abstr. pro concr ., as רמיּה, Proverbs 1:27), nor ל before פורע, as Gesenius ( Lehrgeb . §227a) does; nor has the part . פּורע the value of a hypothetical clause like Proverbs 18:13, Job 41:18, although it may certainly be changed into such without destroying the meaning (Ewald, Hitzig); but “poverty and shame is he who is without correction,” is equivalent to, poverty and shame is the conclusion or lot of him who is without correction; it is left to the hearer to find out the reference of the predicate to the subject in the sense of the quality, the consequence, or the lot (cf. e.g., Proverbs 10:17; Proverbs 13:1; Proverbs 14:35).

(Note: Vid ., regarding the strong demand which the Hebr. style makes on hearer and reader, my Gesch. der jüdischen Poesie (1863), p. 189.)

Regarding פרע, vid ., p. 73. The Latin expression corresponding is: qui detrectat disciplinam . He who rejects the admonition and correction of his parents, his pastor, or his friend, and refuses every counsel to duty as a burdensome moralizing, such an one must at last gather wisdom by means of injury if he is at all wise: he grows poorer in consequence of missing the right rule of life, and has in addition thereto to be subject to disgrace through his own fault. On the contrary, to him who has the disgrace to deserve reproof, but who willingly receives it, and gives it effect, the disgrace becomes an honour, for not to reject reproof shows self-knowledge, humility, and good-will; and these properties in the judgment of others bring men to honour, and have the effect of raising them in their position in life and in their calling.

Verse 19

Two pairs of proverbs regarding fools and wise men, ranged together by catchwords.

19 Quickened desire is sweet to the soul,

And it is an abomination to fools to avoid evil.

A synthetic distich, the first line of which, viewed by itself, is only a feebler expression of that which is said in Proverbs 13:12, for תּאוה נהיה is essentially of the same meaning as תאוה באה, not the desire that has just arisen and is not yet appeased (Umbreit, Hitzig, Zöckler), which when expressed by a part . of the same verb would be הוה (= אשׁר היתה ), but the desire that is appeased (Jerome, Luther, also Venet . ἔφεσις γενομένη, i.e., after Kimchi: in the fulfilling of past desire; on the contrary, the Syr., Targ. render the phrase נאוה of becoming desire). The Niph . נהיה denotes not the passing into a state of being, but the being carried out into historical reality, e.g., Ezekiel 21:12; Ezekiel 39:8, where it is connected with באה ; it is always the expression of the completed fact to which there is a looking back, e.g., Judges 20:3; and this sense of the Niph . stands so fast, that it even means to be done, finished (brought to an end), to be out, to be done with anything, e.g., Daniel 2:1.

(Note: We have said, p. 156, that a Niph . in which the peculiar causative meaning of the Hiph . would be rendered passively is without example; we must here with נהיה add, that the Niph . of intransitive verbs denotes the entrance into the condition expressed by the Kal, and may certainly be regarded, according to our way of thinking, as passive of the Hiphil (Gesen. §51, 2). But the old language shows no ההוה to which נהיה (Arab. âinhaway, in Mutenebbi) stood as passive; in the Arab. also the seventh form, rightly regarded, is always formed from the first, vid ., Fleischer's Beiträge, u.s.w., in the Sitzungs-Bericht. d. Sächs. Gesellschaft d. Wiss . 1863, p. 172f.)

The sentence, that fulfilled desire does good to the soul, appears commonplace (Hitzig); but it is comprehensive enough on the ground of Heb 11 to cheer even a dying person, and conceals the ethically significant truth that the blessedness of vision is measured by the degree of the longing of faith. But the application of the clause in its pairing with 19b acquires another aspect. On this account, because the desire of the soul is pleasant in its fulfilment, fools abhor the renouncing of evil, for their desire is directed to that which is morally worthless and blameworthy, and the endeavour, which they closely and constantly adhere to, is to reach the attainment of this desire. This subordinate proposition of the conclusion is unexpressed. The pairing of the two lines of the proverb may have been occasioned by the resemblance in sound of תועבת and תּאוה . סוּר is n. actionis, like Proverbs 16:17, cf. 6. Besides, it in to be observed that the proverb speaks of fools and not of the godless. Folly is that which causes that men do not break free from evil, for it is the deceit of sinful lust which binds them fast thereto.

Verse 20

20 Whoever goes with wise men, becomes wise;

And whoever has intercourse with fools, becomes base.

Regarding the significance of this proverb in the history of the religion and worship of Israel, vid ., p. 39. We have translated 20a after the Kerı̂ ; the translation according to the Chethı̂b is: “go with wise men and become wise” (cf. Proverbs 8:33), not הלוך, for the connection of the (meant imperatively) infin . absol . with an imper. (meant conclusively) is not tenable; but הלוך is an imper. form established by הלכוּ, Jeremiah 51:50 (cf. הלוך = לכת, Numbers 22:14), and appears to have been used with such shades of conception as here as intercourse and companionship for לך . Regarding ירוע gnid, vid ., at Proverbs 11:15; there it meant malo afficietur , here it means malus ( pejor ) fiet . The Venet . (contrary to Kimchi, who explains by frangetur ) rightly has κακωθήσεται . There is here a play upon words; רעה means to tend (a flock), also in general to be considerate about anything (Proverbs 15:14; 44:20), to take care of anything with the accusative of the person (Proverbs 28:7; Proverbs 29:3), to hold intercourse with any one: he who by preference seeks the society of fools, himself becomes such (Jerome, similis efficietur ), or rather, as ירוע expresses, he comes always morally lower down. “A wicked companion leads his associate into hell.”

Verse 21

21 Evil pursueth sinners,

And the righteous is repaid with good.

To תּרדּף of the punishment which follows after sinners at their heels, cf. Nahum 1:8. Greek art gives wings to Nemesis in this sense. To translate 21b, with Löwenstein, “The pious, the good rewards them,” is untenable, for טוב, the good ( e.g., Proverbs 11:27), never appears personified, only טוב, goodness, Psalms 23:6, according to which the lxx τοὺς δὲ δικαίους καταλήψεται ( ישׂיג ) ἀγαθά . Still less is טוב meant personally, as the Venet . τὰ δὲ δίκαια ἀποδώσει χρηστός, which probably means: righteous conduct will a good one, viz., God, reward. טוב .dr is an attribute of God, but never the name of God. So the verb שׁלּם, after the manner of verbs of educating and leading ( גמל, עשׂה, עבד ), is connected with a double accusative. The Syr., Targum, and Jerome translate passively, and so also do we; for while we must think of God in the retribuet , yet the proverb does not name Him any more than at Proverbs 12:14, cf. Proverbs 10:24; it is designedly constructed, placing Him in the background, with vague generality: the righteous will one, will they, reward with good - this expression, with the most general personal subject, almost coincides with one altogether passive.

Verse 22

22 The good man leaveth behind him for his children's children,

And the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just.

As a commencing word, טוב signifies in the Mishle for the most part bonum ( prae ); but here, as at Proverbs 12:2, cf. Proverbs 22:9; Proverbs 14:4, it signifies bonus . As the expression that God is טוב (Psalms 25:8, etc.) of the O.T. is equivalent to the N.T. that He is ἀγάπη, so that man who in his relation to others is determined by unselfish love is טוב for the good man [ der Gütige ], i.e., the man who is willing to communicate all good is truly good, because the essence of צדקה, righteousness of life, is love. Such an one suffers no loss by his liberality, but, according to the law, Proverbs 11:25, by which a dispenser of blessings is at the same time also a recipient of blessings, he has only gain, so that he makes his children's children to inherit, i.e., leaves behind him an inheritance extending even to his grandchildren ( vid ., regarding הנחיל, p. 182; here trans. as containing its object in itself, as at Deuteronomy 32:8 : to make to inherit, to place in possession of an inheritance). The sinner, on the contrary ( חוטא sing. to חטּאים, ἁμαρτωλοί ), loses his wealth, it is already destined to pass over to the righteous who is worthy of it, and makes use (cf. Job 27:17) of that which he possesses in accordance with the will and appointment of God - a revelation of justice appertaining to time, the exceptions to which the old limited doctrine of requital takes no notice of. חיל, strength, then like our “ Vermögen ” (cf. opes, facultates ), that by means of which one is placed in circumstances to accomplish much (Fl.); cf. regarding the fundamental idea contorquere, compingere , p. 226, also regarding צפן, properly condensare , then condere , p. 61.

Verse 23

Connected with Proverbs 13:22 there now follow two proverbs regarding sustenance, with one intervening regarding education.

23 The poor man's fresh land gives food in abundance,

And many are destroyed by iniquity.

The Targ. and Theodotion ( μέγας ) translate רב, but the Masora has רב־ with short Kametz, as Proverbs 20:6; Ecclesiastes 1:8 (cf. Kimchi under רבב ). The rendering: multitudo cibi est ager pauperum , makes the produce the property of the field (= frugum fertilis ). ניר .)s is the new field ( novale or novalis , viz., ager ), from ניר, to make arable, fruitful; properly to raise up, viz., by grubbing and freeing of stones ( סקּל ). But why, asks Hitzig, just the new field? As if no answer could be given to this question, he changes ניר into ניב, and finds in 23a the description of a rentier, “a great man who consumes the income of his capital.” But how much more intelligible is the new field of the poor man than these capitals ( ראשׁים ) with their per cents ( ניב )! A new field represents to us severe labour, and as belonging to a poor man, a moderate field, of which it is here said, that notwithstanding its freshly broken up fallow, it yet yields a rich produce, viz., by virtue of the divine blessing, for the proverb supposes the ora et labora . Regarding ראשׁים = רשׁים, vid ., at Proverbs 10:4. Jerome's translation, patrum (properly, heads), follows a false Jewish tradition. In the antithesis, 23b, one is tempted to interpret ישׁ in the sense of Proverbs 8:21 [substance, wealth], as Schultens, opulentia ipsa raditur quum non est moderamen , and Euchel: that which is essentially good, badly managed, goes to ruin. But ישׁ and וישׁ at the beginning of a proverb, or of a line of a proverb, in every case means est qui . That a wealthy person is meant, the contrast shows. נספּה, which denotes anything taken away or gathered up, has the same meaning here as at 1 Samuel 27:1 : est qui (Fl. quod , but the parallel does not demand this) abripiatur , i.e., quasi turbine auferatur et perdatur ; the word reminds us of סופה, whirlwind, but in itself it means only something smooth and altogether carried off. The בּ is here as at Genesis 19:15; elsewhere בּלא משׁפּט means with injustice (properly, not-right), Proverbs 16:8, Jeremiah 22:13; Ezekiel 22:29; here it is not the ב of the means, but of the mediate cause. While the (industrious and God-fearing) poor man is richly nourished from the piece of ground which he cultivates, many a one who has incomparably more than he comes by his unrighteousness down to a state of beggary, or even lower: he is not only in poverty, but along with this his honour, his freedom, and the very life of his person perish.

Verse 24

24 He that spareth his rod hateth his son,

And he who loveth him visits him early with correction.

The paedagogic rule of God, Proverbs 3:12, avails also for men, Proverbs 23:13., Proverbs 29:15. The rod represents here the means of punishment, the patria potestas . He who spareth or avoideth this, and who does this even from love, has yet no true right love for his son; he who loveth him correcteth him early. With ἐπιμελῶς παιδεύει of the lxx (cf. Sir. 30:1, ἐνδελεχήσει μάστιγας ) the thought is in general indicated, but the expression is not explained. Many erroneously regard the suffix of שׁחרו as referring to the object immediately following (de Dieu, Ewald, Bertheau, Zöckler); Hitzig, on the contrary, rightly remarks, that in this case we should expect the words to be, after Proverbs 5:22 (cf. Exodus 2:6), את־המּוּסר . He himself, without any necessity, takes שׁחר in the sense of the Arab. skhar, compescere . Hofmann ( Schriftbew . ii. 2. 402) is right in saying that “ שׁחר is connected with a double accusative as elsewhere קדּם occurs; and the meaning is, that one ought much more to anticipate correction than restrain it where it is necessary.” שׁחר means to go out early to anything, according to which a Greek rendering is ὀρθρίζει ( Venet . ὀρθριεῖ ) αὐτῷ παιδείαν : maturat ei castigationem = mature eum castigat (Fl.). שׁחר does not denote the early morning of the day (as Rashi, לבקרים ), but the morning of life (as Euchel, בשׁחר ימיו ). “The earlier the fruit, the better the training.” A father who truly wishes well to his son keeps him betimes under strict discipline, to give him while he is yet capable of being influenced the right direction, and to allow no errors to root themselves in him; but he who is indulgent toward his child when he ought to be strict, acts as if he really wished his ruin.

Verse 25

25 The righteous has to eat to the satisfying of his soul;

But the body of the godless must suffer want.

Jerome translates תחסר freely by insaturabilis (he has want = has never enough), but in that case we would have expected תחסר תּמיד ; also in 25a עד־שׂבע would have been used. We have thus before us no commendation of temperance and moderation in contrast to gluttony, but a statement regarding the diversity of fortune of the righteous and the godless - another way of clothing the idea of Proverbs 10:3. שׂבע is a segolate form, thus an infin. formation, formally different from the similar שׂבע, Proverbs 3:10. Regarding בּטן, vid ., Psychol . p. 265f.; it is a nobler word than “ Bauch ” [belly], for it denotes not the external arch, but, like κοιλία (R. בט, concavus ), the inner body, here like Proverbs 18:20, as that which receives the nourishment and changes it in succum et sanguinem . That God richly nourishes the righteous, and on the contrary brings the godless to want and misery, is indeed a rule with many exceptions, but understood in the light of the N.T., it has deep inward everlasting truth.

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The Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.
Bibliographical Information
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Proverbs 13". 1854-1889.