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Bible Commentaries

Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary

Proverbs 26

Verse 1

There now follows a group of eleven proverbs of the fool; only the first of the group has after it a proverb of different contents, but of similar form:

As snow in summer, and rain in harvest;

So honour befitteth not a fool.

If there is snow in high summer ( קיץ , to be glowing hot), it is contrary to nature; and if there is rain in harvest, it is (according to the alternations of the weather in Palestine) contrary to what is usually the case, and is a hindrance to the ingathering of the fruits of the field. Even so a fool and respect, or a place of honour, are incongruous things; honour will only injure him (as according to Proverbs 19:10, luxury); he will make unjust use of it, and draw false conclusions from it; it will strengthen him in his folly, and only increase it. נאוה (= נאוי ) is the adj. to the Pil. נאוה , Psalms 93:5 (plur. נאווּ ); נאוה , Proverbs 19:10, and נאוה , Proverbs 17:7, are also masc. and fem. of the adj., according to which, that which is said under Proverbs 19:10 is to be corrected. Symmachus and Theodotion have translated οὐκ ἔπρεψεν , and have therefore read נאוה . The root word is נאה (as שׁחה to שׁחוה ) = נוה , to aim at something ( vid., Hupfeld under Psalms 23:2).

Verse 2

This verse is formed quite in the same way as the preceding:

As the sparrow in its fluttering, as the swallow in its flying,

So the curse that is groundless: it cometh not.

This passage is one of those fifteen ( vid., under Psalms 100:3) in which the לא of the text is changed by the Kerı̂ into לו ; the Talm., Midrash, and Sohar refer this לּו partly to him who utters the curse himself, against whom also, if he is a judge, such inconsiderate cursing becomes an accusation by God; partly to him who is cursed, for they read from the proverb that the curse of a private person also ( הדיוט , ἰδιώτης ) is not wont to fall to the ground, and that therefore one ought to be on his guard against giving any occasion for it ( vid., Norzi). But Aben Ezra supposes that לא and לו interchange, as much as to say that the undeserved curse falls on him ( לו ) who curses, and does not fall ( לא ) on him who is cursed. The figures in 2a harmonize only with לא , according to which the lxx, the Syr., Targ., Venet., and Luther (against Jerome) translate, for the principal matter, that the sparrow and the swallow, although flying out (Proverbs 27:8), return home again to their nest (Ralbag), would be left out of view in the comparison by לו . This emphasizes the fluttering and flying, and is intended to affirm that a groundless curse is a פּרח בּאוּיר , aimless, i.e., a thing hovering in the air, that it fails and does not take effect. Most interpreters explain the two Lameds as declaring the destination: ut passer ( sc. natus est ) ad vagandum , as the sparrow, through necessity of nature, roves about... (Fleischer). But from Proverbs 25:3 it is evident that the Lamed in both cases declares the reference or the point of comparison: as the sparrow in respect to its fluttering about, etc. The names of the two birds are, according to Aben Ezra, like dreams without a meaning; but the Romanic exposition explains rightly צפּור by passereau , and דּרור by hirondelle , for צפור (Arab. 'uṣfuwr ), twitterer, designates at least preferably the sparrow, and דרור the swallow, from its flight shooting straight out, as it were radiating ( vid., under Psalms 84:4); the name of the sparrow, dûrı̂ (found in courtyards), which Wetstein, after Saadia, compares to דרור , is etymologically different.

(Note: It is true that the Gemara to Negaïm, Proverbs 14:1, explains the Mishnic צפרים דרור , “house-birds,” for it derives דרור from דור , to dwell.)

Regarding חנּם , vid., under Proverbs 24:28. Rightly the accentuation separates the words rendered, “so the curse undeserved” ( קללת , after Kimchi, Michlol 79b, קללת ), from those which follow; לא תבא is the explication of כן : thus hovering in the air is a groundless curse - it does not come ( בוא , like e.g., Joshua 21:43). After this proverb, which is formed like Proverbs 26:1, the series now returns to the “fool.”

Verse 3

3 A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass,

And a rod for the back of fools.

J. D. Michaelis supposes that the order should be reversed: a bridle for the horse, a whip for the ass; but Arnoldi has here discovered the figure of speech merismus (cf. Proverbs 10:1); and Hitzig, in the manner of the division, the rhythmical reason of the combination (cf. שׁם חם ויפת for שׁם יפת וחם ): whip and bridle belong to both, for one whips a horse (Nehemiah 3:2) and also bridles him; one bridles an ass (Psalms 32:9) and also whips him (Numbers 22:28.). As whip and bridle are both serviceable and necessary, so also serviceable and necessary is a rod, לגו כּסילים , Proverbs 10:13; Proverbs 19:29.

Verse 4

4 Answer not the fool according to his folly,

Lest thou thyself also become like unto him.

After, or according to his folly, is here equivalent to recognising the foolish supposition and the foolish object of his question, and thereupon considering it, as if, e.g., he asked why the ignorant man was happier than the man who had much knowledge, or how one may acquire the art of making gold; for “a fool can ask more than ten wise men can answer.” He who recognises such questions as justifiable, and thus sanctions them, places himself on an equality with the fool, and easily himself becomes one. The proverb that follows affirms apparently the direct contrary:

Verse 5

5 Answer the fool according to his folly,

Lest he regard himself as wise.

ענה־כסיל (with Makkeph, and Gaja, and Chatef)

(Note: Thus after Ben Asher; while, on the contrary, Ben Naphtali writes ענה כסיל with Munach, vid., Thorath Emeth, p. 41.)

here stands opposed to אל־תען כסיל . The Gospel of John, e.g., John 5:31, cf. Proverbs 8:31,

(Note: Vid., my dissertation on three little-observed passages in the Gospel of John, and their practical lessons, in the Evang. luth. Kirchenzeitung, 1869, Nos. 37, 38.)

is rich in such apparently contradictory sayings. The sic et non here lying before us is easily explained; after, or according to his folly, is this second time equivalent to, as is due to his folly: decidedly and firmly rejecting it, making short work with it (returning a sharp answer), and promptly replying in a way fitted, if possible, to make him ashamed. Thus one helps him, perhaps, to self-knowledge; while, in the contrary case, one gives assistance to his self-importance. The Talmud, Schabbath 30b, solves the contradiction by referring Proverbs 26:4 to worldly things, and Proverbs 26:5 to religious things; and it is true that, especially in the latter case, the answer is itself a duty toward the fool, and towards the truth. Otherwise the Midrash: one ought not to answer when one knows the fool as such, and to answer when he does not so know him; for in the first instance the wise man would dishonour himself by the answer, in the latter case he would give to him who asks the importance appertaining to a superior.

Verse 6

6 He cutteth off the feet, he drinketh injury,

Who transacteth business by a fool.

He cutteth off, i.e., his own feet, as we say: he breaks his neck, il se casse le cou ; Lat. frangere brachium, crus, coxam; frangere navem (Fleischer). He thinks to supplement his own two legs by those of the messenger, but in reality he cuts them off; for not only is the commission not carried out, but it is even badly carried out, so that instead of being refreshed (Proverbs 13:17; Proverbs 25:13) by the quick, faithful execution of it, he has to swallow nothing but damage; cf. Job 34:7, where, however, drinking scorn is meant of another (lxx), not his own; on the contrary, חמס here refers to injury suffered (as if it were חמדו , for the suff. of חמס is for the most part objective); cf. the similar figures Proverbs 10:26. So שׁלח בּיד , to accomplish anything by the mediation of another, cf. Exodus 4:13; with &#דבר דברים ), 2 Samuel 15:36. The reading מקצּה (Jerome, Luther, claudus ) is unnecessary; since, as we saw, מקצּה ,was ew includes it in the sibi. The Syr. reads, after the lxx (the original text of which was ἐκ τῶν ποδῶν ἑαυτοῦ ), מקצה , for he errs, as also does the Targumist, in thinking that מקצה can be used for מקצץ ; but Hitzig adopts this reading, and renders: “from the end of the legs he swallows injury who sends messages by a fool.” The end of the legs are the feet, and the feet are those of the foolish messenger. The proverb in this form does not want in boldness, but the wisdom which Hitzig finds in its is certainly not mother-wit.

(Note: The Venet. translates שׁתה by ἄνους , so שׁטה (the post-bibl. designation of a fool) - one of the many indications that this translator is a Jew, and as such is not confined in his knowledge of language only to the bibl. Hebrew.)

Böttcher, on his part, also with מקצה , renders: “from the end of his feet he drinks in that which is bitter...” - that also is too artificial, and is unintelligible without the explanation of its discoverer. But that he who makes a fool his messenger becomes himself like unto one who cuts off his own legs, is a figure altogether excellent.

Verse 7

7 The hanging down of the legs of a lame man;

And a proverb in a fool's mouth.

With reference to the obscure דּליוּ , the following views have been maintained: - (1) The form as punctuated appears directly as an imperative. Thus the lxx translate, the original text of which is here: ἀφελοῦ πορείαν κυλλῶν (conj. Lagarde's) καὶ παροιμίαν ἐκ στόματος ἀφρόνων , which the Syr. (with its imitator, the Targ.) has rendered positively: “If thou canst give the power of (sound) going to the lame, then wilt thou also receive (prudent) words from the mouth of a fool.” Since Kimchi, דּליוּ has been regarded by many as the softening of the Imp. Piel דּדּוּ , according to which the Venet. translates: ἐπάρατε κνήμας χωλοῦ ; and Bertheau and Zöckler explain: always take away his legs from the lame, since they are in reality useless to him, just as a proverb in the mouth of the fool is useless - something that without loss might be never there.” But why did not the poet write הרימוּ , or הסירוּ , or קחוּ , or the like? דּלּי , to carry away, to dispense with, is Syriac (Targ. Jer. I, under Deuteronomy 32:50), but not Hebrew. And how meaningless is this expression! A lame man would withstand a surgeon (as he would a murderer) who would amputate his legs; for lame legs are certainly better than none, especially since there is a great distinction between a lame man ( פּדּח , from פּסח , luxare ; cf. (Arab.) fasaḥ , laxare , vid., Schultens) who halts or goes on crutches (2 Samuel 3:29), and one who is maimed (paralytic), who needs to be carried. It comes to this, that by this rendering of 7a one must, as a consequence, with the lxx, regard וּמשׁל [and a proverb] as object. accus. parallel to שׁקים [legs]; but “to draw a proverb from one's mouth” is, after Proverbs 20:5, something quite different from to tear a proverb away from him, besides which, one cannot see how it is to be caught. Rather one would prefer: attollite crura claudi ( ut incedat, et nihil promovebitis ); but the מן of מפּסּח does not accord with this, and 7b does not connect itself with it. But the explanation: “take away the legs from a lame man who has none, at least none to use, and a proverb in the mouth of fools, when there is none,” is shattered against the “leg-taking-away,” which can only be used perhaps of frogs' legs. (2) Symmachus translates: ἐξέλιπον κνῆμαι ἀπὸ χωλοῦ ; and Chajûg explains דּליוּ as 3 pret. Kal, to which Kimchi adds the remark, that he appears to have found דּליוּ , which indeed is noted by Norzi and J. H. Michaelis as a variant. But the Masoretic reading is דּליוּ , and this, after Gesenius and Böttcher (who in this, without any reason, sees an Ephraimitic form of uttering the word), is a softened variation from דּדּוּ . Only it is a pity that this softening, while it is supported by alius = ἄλλος , folium = φύλλον , faillir = fallere , and the like, has yet not a single Hebrew or Semitic example in its favour. (3) Therefore Ewald finds, “all things considered,” that it is best to read דּליוּ , “the legs are too loose for the lame man to use them.” But, with Dietrich, we cannot concur in this, nor in the more appropriate translation: “the legs of the lame hang down loose,” to say nothing of the clearly impossible: “high are the legs of the lame (one higher than the other),” and that because this form גּליוּ for גּליוּ also occurs without pause, Psalms 57:2; Psalms 73:2; Psalms 122:6; Isaiah 21:12; but although thus, as at Psalms 36:9; Psalms 68:32, at the beginning of a clause, yet always only in connection, never at the beginning of an address. (4) It has also been attempted to interpret דּליוּ as abstr., e.g., Euchel: “he learns from a cripple to dance, who seeks to learn proverbs from the mouth of a fool.” דּליוּ שׁקים must mean the lifting up of the legs = springing and dancing. Accordingly Luther translates:

“As dancing to a cripple,

So does it become a fool to speak of wisdom.”

The thought is agreeable, and according to fact; but these words to not mean dancing, but much rather, as the Arabic shows ( vid., Schultens at Proverbs 20:5, and on the passage before us), a limping, waddling walk, like that of ducks, after the manner of a well-bucket dangling to and fro. And דּליוּ , after the form מלכוּ , would be an unheard-of Aramaism. For forms such as שׂחוּ , swimming, and שׁלוּ , security, Psalms 30:7, on which C. B. Michaelis and others rest, cannot be compared, since they are modified from sachw , ṣalw , while in דּליוּ the û ending must be, and besides the Aramaic דּליוּ must in st. constr. be דּליוּוּת . Since none of these explanations are grammatically satisfactory, and besides דּליוּ דּללוּ דּדּוּ gives a parallel member which is heterogeneous and not conformable to the nature of an emblematical proverb, we read דּלּוּי after the forms &#צפּוּי שׁקּוּי (cf. חבּוּק , Proverbs 6:10; Proverbs 24:33), and this signifies loose, hanging down, from דּלה , to hang at length and loosely down, or transitively: to hang, particularly of the hanging down at length of the bucket-rope, and of the bucket itself, to draw water from the well. The מן is similar to that of Job 28:4, only that here the connecting of the hanging down, and of that from which it hangs down, is clear. Were we to express the purely nominally expressed emblematical proverb in the form of a comparative one, it would thus stand as Fleischer translates it: ut laxa et flaccida dependent ( torpent ) crura a claudo, sic sententia in ore stultorum ( sc. torpet h. e. inutilis est ). The fool can as little make use of an intelligent proverb, or moral maxim ( dictum sententiosum ), as a lame man can of his feet; the word, which in itself is full of thought, and excellent, becomes halting, lame, and loose in his mouth (Schultens: deformiter claudicat ); it has, as spoken and applied by him, neither hand nor foot. Strangely, yet without missing the point, Jerome: quomodo pulcras frustra habet claudus tibias, sic indecens est in ore stultorum parabola . The lame man possibly has limbs that appear sound; but when he seeks to walk, they fail to do him service - so a bon-mot comes forth awkwardly when the fool seeks to make use of it. Hitzig's conjecture: as leaping of the legs on the part of a lame man..., Böttcher has already shown sufficient reasons for rejecting; leaping on the part of any one, for the leaping of any one, were a court style familiar to no poet.

Verse 8

This proverb presents to us a new difficulty.

As one binds a stone in a sling,

So is he who giveth honour to a fool.

This translation is warranted by tradition, and is in accordance with the actual facts. A sling is elsewhere called קלע ; but that מרגּמה also in the passage before us signifies a sling (from רגם , to throw with stones = to stone or to throw stones = to sling, cf. Targ. Esther 5:14 רגּם , of David's slinging stones against Goliath), is supported by the lxx, Syr., and Targ. on the one side, and the Jewish Glossists on the other (Rashi: fronde , Ital. frombola). Rightly the lxx renders כּצרור as a verb: ὡς ἀποδεσμεύει ; on the contrary, the Syr. and Targ. regard it as a substantive: as a piece of stone; but צרור as a substantive does not mean a piece, as one would put into a sling to use as a weapon, but a grain, and thus a little piece, 2 Samuel 17:13; cf. Amos 9:9. Erroneously Ewald: “if one binds to the sling the stone which he yet seeks to throw, then all this throwing and aiming are in vain; so it is in vain to give to a fool honour which does not reach him.” If one seeks to sling a stone, he must lay the lapis missilis so in the sling that it remains firm there, and goes forth only by the strong force of the slinging; this fitting in (of the stone), so that it does not of itself fall out, is expressed by צרר בּ (cf. Proverbs 30:4; Job 26:8). The giving is compared to the binding, the stones to the honour, and the sling to the fool: the fool is related to the honour which one confers on him, as the stone to the sling in which one lays it - the giving of honour is a slinging of honour. Otherwise (after Kimchi) the Venet. ὡς συνδεσμὸς λίθου ἐν λιθάδι , i.e., as Fleischer translates: ut qui crumenam gemmarum plenam in acervum lapidum conjicit . Thus also Ralbag, Ahron b. Josef, and others, and lastly Zöckler. The figure is in the form of an address, and מרגּמה (from רגם , accumulare, congerere , vid., under Psalms 67:1-7:28) might certainly mean the heaping of stones. But אבן is not used in the sense of אבן יקרה (precious stone); also one does not see why one precious stone is not enough as the figure of honour, and a whole heap is named; but in the third place, כּן נותן requires for כצרור a verbal signification. Therefore Jerome translates: sicut qui mittit lapidem in acervum Mercurii ; in this the echo of his Jewish teacher, for the Midrash thus explains literally: every one who gives honour to a fool is like one who throws a stone on a heap of stones consecrated to Mercury. Around the Hermes ( ἑρμαὶ ), i.e., pillars with the head of Mercury ( statuae mercuriales or viales ), were heaps of stones ( ἕρμακες ), to which the passer-by was wont to throw a stone; it was a mark of honour, and served at the same time to improve the way, whose patron was Mercurious ( מרקולים ). It is self-evident that this Graeco-Roman custom to which the Talm. makes frequent reference, cannot be supposed to have existed in the times of Solomon. Luther translates independently, and apparently rendering into German that in acervum Mercurii : that is as if one threw a precious stone on the “ Rabenstein ,” i.e., the heap of stones raised at the foot of the gallows. This heap of stones is more natural and suitable to the times of Solomon than the heap of stones dedicated to Mercury, if, like Gussetius, one understands מרגמה of a heap of stones, supra corpus lapidatum . But against this and similar interpretations it is enough to remark that כצרור cannot signify sicut qui mittit . Had such a meaning been intended, the word would have been כּהשׁליך or כּמשׁליך . Still different is the rendering of Joseph Kimchi, Aben Ezra, and finally Löwenstein: as when one wraps up a stone in a piece of purple stuff. But ארגּמן , purple, has nothing to do with the verb רגם ; it is, as the Aramaic ארגּון shows, a compound word; the supposition of a denom. מרגּמה thus proceeds from a false etymological supposition. And Hitzig's combination of מרגמה with (Arab.) munjam , handle and beam of a balance (he translates: as a stone on the beam of a balance, i.e., lies on it), is nothing but refined ingenuity, since we have no need at all of such an Arab. word for a satisfactory clearing up of מרגמה . We abide by the rendering of the sling. Böttcher translates: a sling that scatters; perhaps מרגמה in reality denotes such a sling as throws many stones at once. Let that, however, be as it may: that he who confers a title of honour, a place of honour, and the like, on a fool, is like one who lays a stone in a sling, is a true and intelligibly formed thought: the fool makes the honour no honour; he is not capable of maintaining it; that which is conferred on him is uselessly wasted.

Verse 9

9 A thorn goeth into the hand of a drunkard,

And a proverb in a fool's mouth;

i.e., if a proverb falls into a fool's mouth, it is as if a thorn entered into the hand of a drunken man; the one is as dangerous as the other, for fools misuse such a proverb, which, rightly used, instructs and improves, only to the wounding and grieving of another, as a drunken man makes use of the pointed instrument which he has possession of for coarse raillery, and as a welcome weapon of his strife. The lxx, Syr. (Targ.?), and Jerome interpret עלה in the sense of shooting up, i.e., of growing; Böttcher also, after Proverbs 24:31 and other passages, insists that the thorn which has shot up may be one that has not grown to perfection, and therefore not dangerous. But thorns grow not in the hand of any one; and one also does not perceive why the poet should speak of it as growing in the hand of a drunken man, which the use of the hand with it would only make worse. We have here עלה בידי , i.e., it has come into my hand, commonly used in the Mishna, which is used where anything, according to intention, falls into one's hands, as well as where it comes accidentally and unsought for, e.g., Nazir 23a, מי שׁנתכוון לעלות בידו בשׂר חזיר ועלה בידו בשׂר טלה , he who designs to obtain swine's flesh and (accidentally) obtains lamb's flesh. Thus rightly Heidenheim, Löwenstein, and the Venet.: ἄκανθα ἀνέβη εἰς χεῖρα μεθύοντος . חוח signifies a thorn bush, 2 Kings 14:9,

(Note: The plur. חוחים , 1 Samuel 13:6, signifies not thorn bushes, but rock-splitting; in Damascus, chôcha means a little gate in the wing of a large door; vid., Wetstein's Nordarabien, p. 23.)

as well as a thorn, Song of Solomon 2:2, but where not the thorns of the rose, and indeed no rose at all, is meant. Luther thinks of the rose with the thorn when he explains: “When a drunkard carries and brandishes in his hand a thorn bush, he scratches more with it than allows the roses to be smelled - so a fool with the Scriptures, or a right saying, often does more harm than good.” This paraphrase of Luther's interprets עלה ביד more correctly than his translation does; on the other hand, the latter more correctly is satisfied with a thorn twig (as a thorn twig which pierces into the hand of a drunken man); the roses are, however, assumed contrary to the text. This holds good also against Wessely's explanation: “the Mashal is like a rose not without thorns, but in the mouth of a fool is like a thorn without a rose, as when a drunken man seeks to pluck roses and gains by his effort nothing but being pierced by thorns.” The idea of roses is to be rejected, because at the time when this proverb was formed there were no roses in Palestine. The proverb certainly means that a right Mashal, i.e., an ingenious excellent maxim, is something more and better than a חוח (the prick as of the Jewish thorn, Zizyphus vulgaris , or the Christus -thorn, the Ziz spina Christi ); but in the mouth of a fool such a maxim becomes only a useless and a hurtful thing; for the fool so makes use of it, that he only embarrasses others and recklessly does injury to them. The lxx translates משׁל by δουλεία , and the Aram. by שׁטיוּתא ; how the latter reached this “folly” is not apparent; but the lxx vocalized משׁל , according to which Hitzig, at the same time changing שׁכּור into שׂכוּר , translates: “thorns shoot up by the hand of the hireling, and tyranny by the mouth of fools.” Although a hired labourer, yet, on this account, he is not devoid of conscience; thus 9a so corrected has something in its favour: one ought, as far as possible, to do all with his own hand; but the thought in 9b is far-fetched, and if Hitzig explains that want of judgment in the state councils creates despotism, so, on the other hand, Proverbs 24:7 says that the fool cannot give counsel in the gate, and therefore he holds his mouth.

Verse 10

All that we have hitherto read is surpassed in obscurity by this proverb, which is here connected because of the resemblance of ושכר to שכור . We translate it thus, vocalizing differently only one word:

Much bringeth forth from itself all;

But the reward and the hirer of the fool pass away.

The lxx translates πολλὰ χειμάζεται πᾶσα σὰρξ ἀφρόνων (all the flesh of fools suffers much), συντριβήσεται γὰρ ἧ ἔκστασις αὐτῶν , which is in Hebrew:

רב מחולל כל בּשׂר כסיל

ישּׁבר עברתם

An unfortunate attempt so to rectify the words that some meaning might be extracted from them. The first line of this translation has been adopted by the Syr. and Targ., omitting only the כל , in which the self-condemnation of this deciphering lies (for כל בשׂר means elsewhere, humanity, not the whole body of each individual); but they translate the second line as if the words were:

ישׁכּר עבר ים

i.e., and the drunken man sails over the sea ( עברים is separated into עבר ים , as בבקרים , Amos 6:12, is to be separated into בּבּקר ים ); but what does that mean? Does it mean that to a drunkard (but שׁכּור , the drunken man, and not סבא , the drunkard, is used) nothing remains but to wander over the sea? or that the drunken man lets his imagination wander away over the sea, while he neglects the obligation that lies upon him? Symmachus and Theodotion, with the Midrash (Rashi) and Saadia (Kimchi), take שׂכר in 10b = סגר (like Isaiah 19:10, שׂכר = embankment, cf. סכּרין , Kelim, Proverbs 23:5); the former translates by καὶ ὁ φράσσων ἄφρονα ἐμφράσσει τὰς ὀργὰς αὐτοῦ , the latter by καὶ φιμῶν ἄφρονα φιμοῖ χόλους , yielding to the imagination that עברים , like עברות , may be the plur. of עברה , anger. Jerome punctuates רב as, Proverbs 25:8, רב , and interprets, as Symmachus and Theodotion, שׂכר both times = סגר , translating: Judicium determinat causas, et qui imponit stulto silentium iras mitigat ; but רב does not mean judicium , nor מחולל determinat , nor כל causas . As Gussetius, so also Ralbag (in the first of his three explanations), Meîri, Elia Wilna interpret the proverb as a declaration regarding quarrelsome persons: he causeth woe to all, and hireth fools, hireth transgressors, for his companions; but in that case we must read רב for &#רב מחולל , bringing woe, would be either the Po. of חלל , to bore through, or Pilel of &#חיל חוּל ), to put into distress (as with pangs); but עברים , transgressors = sinners, is contrary to the O.T. usus loq., Proverbs 22:3 (Proverbs 27:12) is falsely cited in its favour; besides, for רב there should have been at least אישׁ רב and why שׂכרו is repeated remains inexplicable. Others take מחולל־כל as the name of God, the creator of all men and things; and truly this is the nearest impression of these two words, for חולל is the usual designation for divine production, e.g., Psalms 90:2. Accordingly Kimchi explains: The Lord is the creator of all, and He gives to fools and to transgressors their maintenance; but עברים , transgressors, is Mishnic, not bibl.; and שׂכר means to hire, but not to supply with food. The proverb is thus incapable of presenting a thought like Matthew 5:45 (He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good). Others translate: “The Lord is creator of all, and takes fools, takes idlers, into His service.” Thus rendered, the proverb is offensive; wherefore Rashi, Moses Kimchi, Arama, and others regard the Mashal as in the mouth of fools, and thus they take Proverbs 26:9 and Proverbs 26:10 together as a tetrastich. Certainly this second collection of proverbs contains also tetrastiches; but Proverbs 26:9 and Proverbs 26:10 cannot be regarded as together forming a tetrastich, because רב (which is valid against Kimchi also) cannot mean God the Lord: רב , Lord, is unheard of in bibl. Heb., and at least the word הרב must be used for God. The Venet. on this account does not follow Kimchi, but translates, Ἄρχων πλάττει πάντα, καὶ μισθοῦται μωρὸν καὶ μισθοῦται ὡς παραβάτης (ought to have been παραβάτας ); but who could this cunning man be? Perhaps the Venet. is to be understood, after Gecatilia (in Rashi): a great (rich) man performs all manner of things; but if he hires a fool, it is as if he hired the first best who pass along the way. But that חולל is used in the general sense of to execute, to perform, is without example, and improbable. Also the explanation: a ruler brings grief, i.e., severe oppression, upon all (Abulwalîd, Immanuel, Aben Ezra, who, in his smaller grammar, explains &#רב רב after Isaiah 49:9; C. B. Michaelis: dolore afficit omnes ), does not recommend itself; for חולל , whether it be from חלל , Isaiah 51:9 (to bore through), or from חיל , Psalms 29:9 (to bring on the pangs of birth), is too strong a word for hurting; also the clause, thus generally understood, is fortunately untrue. Translated as by Euchel: “the prominent persons destroy all; they keep fools in pay, and favour vagabonds,” - it sounds as if it had been picked up in an assembly of democrats. On the other hand, the proverb, as translated by Luther:

A good master maketh a thing right;

But he who hireth a bungler, by him it is spoiled,

is worthy of the Book of Proverbs. The second line is here freely rendered, but it is also appropriate, if we abide closer by the words of the text, in this connection. Fleischer: Magister ( artifex peritus ) effingit omnia ( i.e., bene perficit quaecunque ei committuntur ); qui autem stultum conducit, conducit transeuntes ( i.e., idem facit ac si homines ignotos et forte transeuntes ad opus gravius et difficilius conduceret ). Thus also Gesenius, Böttcher, and others, who all, as Gecatilia above, explain עברים , τοὺς τυχόντας , the first best. But we are reluctantly constrained to object to this thought, because רב nowhere in bibl. Hebrew signifies a master; and the ו of the second ושׂכר dno cannot bear that rendering, ac si . And if we leave it out, we nevertheless encounter a difficulty in חולל , which cannot be used of human production. Many Christian interpreters (Cocceius, Schultens, Schelling, Ewald, Bertheau, Stier, Zöckler) give to רב a meaning which is found in no Jewish interpreter, viz., sagittarius , from &#רבב רבב ), Genesis 49:23 (and perhaps Psalms 18:15), after the forms &#צר שׂר , the plur. of which, רבּים , is found at Job 16:13; Jeremiah 50:29, but in a connection which removes all doubt from the meaning of the word. Here also רב may be more closely defined by מחולל ; but how then does the proverb stand? “an archer who wounds everything, and he who hires a fool, and hires passers-by” (Ewald: street-runners), i.e., they are alike. But if the archer piercing everything is a comic Hercules furens , then, in order to discover the resemblance between the three, there is need of a portion of ingenuity, such as is only particularly assigned to the favoured. But it is also against the form and the usage of the word to interpret עברים simply of rogues and vagabonds. Several interpreters have supposed that רב and כל must stand in a certain interchangeable relation to each other. Thus, e.g., Ahron b. Josef: “Much makes amazement to all, but especially one who hires a fool....” But this “especially” (Before all) is an expression smuggled in. Agreeing with Umbreit and Hitzig, we translate line first; but in translating line second, we follow our own method:

Much bringeth all out of it;

i.e., where there is much, then one has it in his power, if he begins right, to undertake everything. רב has by כּל the definition of a neuter, so as to designate not only many men, Exodus 19:21, but also much ability in a pecuniary and facultative sense (cf. the subst. רב , Isaiah 63:7; Psalms 145:7); and of the much which bringeth forth all out of itself, effects all by itself, חולל with equal right might be used, as Proverbs 25:23, of the north wind. The antithesis 10b takes this form:

But the reward (read וּשׂכר ) and the master (who hires him for wages) of the fool pass away,

i.e., perish; עברים , as if עבר , is used of chaff, Isaiah 29:5; of stubble, Jeremiah 13:24; of shadow, Psalms 144:4. That which the fool gains passes away, for he squanders it; and he who took him into his service for wages is ruined along with him, for his work is only pernicious, not useful. Although he who possesses much, and has great ability, may be able to effect everything of himself, yet that is not the case when he makes use of the assistance therein of foolish men, who not only do not accomplish anything, but, on the contrary, destroy everything, and are only ruinous to him who, with good intention, associates them with himself in his work. That the word must be more accurately ושׂכר , instead of ושׂכרוו , one may not object, since ושׂכר is perfectly unambiguous, and is manifestly the object.

Verse 11

The series of proverbs regarding fools is continued:

Like a dog which returneth to his vomit,

Is a fool who cometh again with his folly.

שׁב is like שׁונה , particip.; only if the punctuation were כּכּלב , ought “which returneth to his vomit” to be taken as a relative clause ( vid., under Psalms 38:14). Regarding על as designating the terminus quo with verbs of motions, vid., Köhler under Mal. 3:24. On &#קא קיא , cf. Proverbs 23:8. Luther rightly; as a dog devours again his vomit. The lxx translate: ὥσπερ κύων ὅταν ἐπέλθῃ ἐπὶ τὸν ἑαυτοῦ ἔμετον ; the reference in 2 Peter 2:22: κύων ἐπιστρέψας ἐπὶ τὸ ἴδιον ἐξέραμα , is thus not from the lxx; the Venet. is not connected with this N.T. citation, but with the lxx, if its accordance with it is not merely accidental. To devour again its vomit is common with the dog.

(Note: Vid., Schulze's Die bibl. Sprichwörter der deutschen Sprache, p. 71f.)

Even so, it is the manner of fools to return again in word and in deed to their past folly ( vid., regarding שׁנה with ב of the object. Proverbs 17:9); as an Aram. popular saying has it: the fool always falls back upon his foolish conduct.

(Note: Vid., Wahl's Das Sprichwort der heb.-aram. Literatur, p. 147; Duke's Rabbin. Blumenlese, p. 9.)

He must needs do so, for folly has become to him a second nature; but this “must” ceases when once a divine light shines forth upon him. The lxx has after Proverbs 26:11 a distich which is literally the same as Sir. 4:21.

Verse 12

12 Seest thou a man who is wise in his own eyes?

The fool hath more hope than he.

Regarding the perf. hypotheticum ראית , vid., at Proverbs 22:29. Line second is repeated, Proverbs 29:20, unchanged. ממּנּוּ , prae eo , is equivalent to the Mishnic יותר ממּנּוּ , plus quam ei . As the conversion of a sinner, who does not regard himself as righteous, is more to be expected than that of a self-righteous man (Matthew 9:12.), so the putting right of a fool, who is conscious that he is not wise (cf. Proverbs 24:7), is more likely to be effected than that of one deeming himself wise; for the greatest hindrance to any turning toward that which is better lies in the delusion that he does not need it.

(Note: The Targum has 12b after Codd. פּקח סכלא טב מגּיהּ (= Syr. pekach , expedit, convenit, melius est ), it is far better circumstanced regarding the fool than regarding him. Vid., Geiger's Zeitschr. vi. (1868), p. 154.)

Thus far the group of proverbs regarding fools.

Verse 13

There follows now a group of proverbs regarding the slothful:

13 The slothful saith there is a lion without,

A lion in the midst of the streets;

cf. the original of this proverb, Proverbs 22:13. שׁוּעל , to say nothing of שׁחל , is not the jackal; שׁחל is the bibl. name for the lion. בּין is the more general expression for בּקרב , Isaiah 5:25; by the streets he thinks of the rows of houses that form them.

Verse 14

14 The door turneth on its hinges,

And the sluggard on his bed.

The comparison is clear. The door turns itself on its hinges, on which it hangs, in and out, without passing beyond the narrow space of its motion; so is the fool on his bed, where he turns himself from the one side to the other. He is called עצל , because he is fast glued to the place where he is (Arab. 'azila ), and cannot be free (contrast of the active, cf. Arab. ḥafyf , moving nimbly, agilis ). But the door offers itself as a comparison, because the diligent goes out by it to begin his work without (Proverbs 24:27; Psalms 104:23), while the sluggard rolls himself about on his bed. The hook, the hinge, on which the door is moved, called ציר , from צוּר , to turn,

(Note: The Arab. verb signifies radically: to turn, like the Persian verbs kashatn and kardydan , and like our “ werden ” to grow, turn, accords with vertere (Fleischer).)

has thus the name of הסּוב .

Verse 15

15 The slothful has thrust his hand into the dish,

It is hard for him to bring it back to his mouth again.

A variation of Proverbs 19:24; the fut. ישׁיבנּה there, is here explained by נלאה להשׁיבהּ .

Verse 16

16 The sluggard is wise in his own eyes,

More than seven men who give an excellent answer.

Between slothfulness and conceit there exists no inward necessary mutual relation. The proverb means that the sluggard as such regards himself as wiser than seven, who all together answer well at any examination: much labour - he thinks with himself - only injures the health, blunts men for life and its joys, leads only to over-exertion; for the most prudent is, as a general rule, crack-brained. Bצttcher's “ maulfaule ” [slow to speak] belongs to the German style of thinking; עטל לשׁנא in Syr. is not he who is slow to speak, but he who has a faltering tongue.

(Note: The Aram. עטל is the Hebr. עצל , as &#עטא עצה ; but in Arab. corresponds not to 'atal , but to 'azal .)

Seven is the number of manifoldness in completed unfolding (Proverbs 9:1). Meîri thinks, after Ezra 7:14, on the council of seven of the Asiatic ruler. But seven is a round number of plurality, Proverbs 26:25, Proverbs 24:16; Proverbs 6:31. Regarding טעם , vid., at Proverbs 11:22.

Verse 17

A series of proverbs which recommend the love of peace, for they present caricatures of the opposite:

17 He seizeth by the ears of a dog passing by,

Who is excited by a strife which concerns him not.

According to the accentuation in the text, the proverb is to be translated with Fleischer: Qualis est qui prehendit aures canis, talis est qui forte transiens ira abripitur propter rixam alienam ( eique temere se immiscent ). Since he is cautioned against unwarranted interference, the expression מתערב בּדין might have been used (Proverbs 14:10), according to which the Syr. translates; but על־ריב substantiates the originality of מתעבּר ( vid., Proverbs 14:16; Proverbs 20:2). On the other hand, the placing together, without any connection of the two participles, is perplexing; why not עבר וּמתעבּר ? For it is certainly not meant, that falling into a passion he passes by; but that passing by, he falls into a passion; for he stands to this object. The Targumist, feeling this also, renders עבר in the sense of being angry, but contrary to the usus loq. Wherefore the conjecture of Euchel and Abramsohn commends itself, that עבר belongs to כלב - the figure thereby becomes more distinct. To seize one's own dog by the ear is not dangerous, but it is not advisable to do this with a strange dog. Therefore עבר belongs as a necessary attribute to the dog. The dog accidentally passing by corresponds to the strife to which one stands in no relation ( ריב לא־ול , vid., regarding the Makkeph, Baer's Genesis, p. 85, not. 9). Whoever is excited to passion about a strife that does not belong to him, is like one who lays hold by the ears (the lxx arbitrarily: by the tail) of a dog that is passing by - to the one or to the other it happens right when he brings evil upon himself thereby.

Verses 18-19

These verses form a tetrastich:

18 As a man who casteth brands,

And arrows, and death;

19 So is the man who deceiveth his neighbour,

And saith: I only make sport.

The old translations of מתלהלה are very diverse. Aquila has rendered it by κακοηθιζόμενος ; Symmachus: πειρώμενοι ; the Syr.: the vainglorious; the Targ.: מתּחת (from נחת ), a successor (spiritually); Jerome: noxius (injurious; for which Luther: secret). There is thus no traditional translation. Kimchi explains the word by השׁתגע ( Venet. ἐξεστώς ); Aben Ezra by השׁתטה (from שׂטה ), to behave thoughtlessly, foolishly; but both erroneously, confounding with it ותּלהּ , Genesis 47:13, which is formed from להה and not from לההּ , and is related to לאה , according to which מתלהלה would designate him who exerts himself (Rashi, המתיגע ), or who is worn out (Saadia: who does not know what to do, and in weariness passes his time). The root &#לההּ להּ ), whence the reflex form התלהלהּ , like התמהמהּ , from &#מההּ מהּ ) leads to another primary idea. The root להּ presents in (Arab.) âliha ( vid., Fleischer in the Comm. zur Genesis, p. 57), waliha , and taliha , formed from the 8th form of this verb ( aittalah ), the fundamental meaning of internal and external unrest; these verbs are used of the effect of fear (shrinking back from fear), and, generally, the want of self-command; the Syr. otlahlah , to be terrified, obstupescere , confirms this primary conception, connecting itself with the R. להּ . Accordingly, he who shoots every possible death-bringing arrow, is thought of as one who is beside himself, one who is of confused mind, in which sense the passive forms of (Arab.) âlah and talah are actually used. Schultens' reference to (Arab.) lâh micare , according to which כמתלהלה must mean sicut ludicram micationem exercens (Böttcher: one who exerts himself; Malbim: one who scoffs, from התל ), is to be rejected, because מתלהלה must be the direct opposite of משׂחק ; and Ewald's comparison of (Arab.) wâh and akhkh , to be entangled, distorted, lâh , to be veiled, confounds together heterogeneous words. Regarding זקּים (from זנק ), burning arrows, vid., under Isaiah 50:11. Death stands third, not as comprehensive (that which is deadly of every kind), but as a climax (yea, even death itself). The כּן of the principal sentence, correlate to כּ of the contiguous clause, has the Makkeph in our editions; but the laws of the metrical Makkeph require כּן אישׁ (with Munach), as it occurs e.g., in Cod. 1294. A man who gives vent to his malice against his neighbour, and then says: seest thou not that... ( הלא , like Arab. âlâ ), i.e., I am only jesting, I have only a joke with thee: he exhibits himself as being mad, who in blind rage scatters about him deadly arrows.

Verse 20

There now follow proverbs regarding the nirgân , the slanderer ( vid., regarding the formation and import of this word at Proverbs 26:28):

20 Where the wood faileth, the fire goeth out;

And where no tale-bearer, discord cometh to silence.

Wood, as material for building or for burning, is called, with the plur. of its product, עצים . Since אפס is the absolute end of a thing, and thus expresses its no longer existing, so it was more appropriate to wood (Fleischer: consumtis lignis ) than to the tale-bearer, of whom the proverb says the same thing as Proverbs 22:10 says of the mocker.

Verse 21

21 Black coal to burning coal, and wood to fire;

And a contentious man to stir up strife.

The Venet. translates פּחם by καρβών , and גּחלת by ἄνθραξ ; the former (from פּחם , Arab. faḥuma , to be deep black) is coal in itself; the latter (from גּחל , jaham , to set on fire, and intrans. to burn), coal in a glowing state ( e.g., Proverbs 25:22; Ezekiel 1:13). Black coal is suited to glowing coal, to nourish it; and wood to the fire, to sustain it; and a contentious man is suited for and serves this purpose, to kindle up strife. חרר signifies to be hot, and the Pilpel חרחר , to heat, i.e., to make hot or hotter. The three - coal, wood, and the contentious man - are alike, in that they are a means to an end.

Verse 22

22 The words of the tale-bearer are like dainty morsels;

And they glide down into the innermost parts.

A repetition of Proverbs 18:8.

Verse 23

The proverbs next following treat of a cognate theme, hypocrisy (the art of dissembling), which, under a shining [ gleissen ] exterior,

(Note: Vid., regarding gleisen (to give a deceitful appearance) and gleissen (to throw a dazzling appearance), Schmitthenner-Weigand's Deutsches Wörterbuch.)

conceals hatred and destruction:

23 Dross of silver spread over an earthen vessel -

Lips glowing with love and a base heart.

Dross of silver is the so-called glätte (French, litharge ), a combination of lead and oxygen, which, in the old process of producing silver, was separated (Luther: silberschaum , i.e., the silver litharge; Lat. spuma argenti , having the appearance of foam). It is still used to glaze over potter's ware, which here (Greek, κέραμος ) is briefly called חרשׂ for כּלי חרשׂ ; for the vessel is better in appearance than the mere potsherd. The glossing of the earthenware is called צפּה על־חרשׂ , which is applicable to any kind of covering ( צפּה , R. צף , to spread or lay out broad) of a less costly material with that which is more precious. 23a contains the figure, and 23b its subscription: שׂפתים דּלקים ולב רע . Thus, with the taking away of the Makkeph after Codd., to be punctuated: burning lips, and therewith a base heart; burning, that is, with the fire of love (Meîri, אשׁ החשׁק ), while yet the assurances of friendship, sealed by ardent kisses, serve only to mask a far different heart. The lxx translate דלקים [burning] by λεῖα , and thus have read חלקים [smooth], which Hitzig without reason prefers; burning lips (Jerome, incorrectly: tumentia ; Luther, after Deuteronomy 32:33, חמת : Gifftiger mund = a poisonous mouth) are just flattering, and at the same time hypocritical

(Note: Schultens explains the labia flagrantia by volubiliter prompta et diserta . But one sees from the Arab. dhaluḳa , to be loose, lightly and easily moved ( vid., in Fleischer's Beiträgen zur arab. Sprachkunde the explanation of the designation of the liquid expressed with the point of the tongue by dhalḳiytt , at Proverbs 1:26-27; cf. de Sacy's Grammar), and dalḳ , to draw out (of the sword from its scabbard), to rinse (of water), that the meaning of the Heb. דלק , to burn, from R. דל , refers to the idea of the flickering, tongue-like movement of the flame.)

lips. Regarding שׂפתים as masc., vid., p. 85; לב רע means, at Proverbs 25:20, animus maestus ; here, inimicus . The figure is excellent: one may regard a vessel with the silver gloss as silver, and it is still earthen; and that also which gives forth the silver glance is not silver, but only the refuse of silver. Both are suitable to the comparison: the lips only glitter, the heart is false (Heidenheim).

Verses 24-25

Proverbs 26:24 and Proverbs 26:25 form a tetrastich.

24 With his lips the hater dissembleth,

And in his heart he museth deceit.

25 If he maketh his voice agreeable, believe him not,

For seven abominations are in his heart.

All the old translators (also the Venet. and Luther) give to יגּכר the meaning, to become known; but the Niph. as well as the Hithpa. ( vid., at Proverbs 20:11; Genesis 47:17) unites with this meaning also the meaning to make oneself known: to make oneself unknown, unrecognisable = (Arab.) tanakkr , e.g., by means of clothing, or by a changed expression of countenance.

(Note: Vid., de Goeje's Fragmenta Hist. Arab. ii. (1871), p. 94. The verb נכר , primarily to fix one's attention, sharply to contemplate anything, whence is derived the meanings of knowing and of not knowing, disowning. The account of the origin of these contrasted meanings, in Gesenius-Dietrich's Lexicon, is essentially correct; but the Arab. nakar there referred to means, not sharpness of mind, from nakar = הכּיר , but from the negative signification prevailing in the Arab. alone, a property by which one makes himself worthy of being disowned: craftiness, cunning, and then also in bonam partem : sagacity.)

The contrast demands here this latter signification: labiis suis alium se simulat osor, intus in pectore autem reconditum habet dolum (Fleischer). This rendering of ישׁית מרמה is more correct than Hitzig's (“in his breast) he prepares treachery;” for שׁית מרמה is to be rendered after שׁית עצות , Psalms 13:3 ( vid., Hupfeld's and also our comm. on this passage), not after Jeremiah 9:7; for one says שׁית מוקשׁים , to place snares, שׁית ארב , to lay an ambush, and the like, but not to place or to lay deceit. If such a dissembler makes his voice agreeable ( Piel of חנן only here, for the form Psalms 9:14 is, as it is punctuated, Kal), trust not thyself to him ( האמין , with ב : to put firm trust in anything, vid., Genesis, p. 312)

(Note: The fundamental idea of firmness in האמין is always in the subject, not the object. The Arabic interpreters remark that âman with ב expresses recognition, and with ל submission ( vid., Lane's Lexicon under âman ); but in Hebr. האמין with ב fiducia fidei , with ל assensus fidei ; the relation is thus not altogether the same.)

for seven abominations, i.e., a whole host of abominable thoughts and designs, are in his heart; he is, if one may express it, after Matthew 12:45, possessed inwardly of seven devils. The lxx makes a history of 24a: an enemy who, under complaints, makes all possible allowances, but in his heart τεκταίνεται δόλους . The history is only too true, but it has no place in the text.

Verse 26

26 Hatred may conceal itself behind deceit:

Its wickedness shall be exposed in the assembly.

Proverbs which begin with the fut. are rarely to be found, it is true; yet, as we have seen, Proverbs 12:26, they are sometimes to be met with in the collection. This is one of the few that are of such a character; for that the lxx and others translate ὁ κρύπτων , which gives for רעתו a more appropriate reference, does not require us to agree with Hitzig in reading הכּסה (Proverbs 12:16, Proverbs 12:23) - the two clauses rendered fut. stand in the same syntactical relation, as e.g., Job 20:24. Still less can the rendering of במשׁאון by συνίστησι δόλον , by the lxx, induce us to read with Hitzig חרשׁ און , especially since it is doubtful whether the Heb. words which floated before those translators (the lxx) have been fallen upon. משּׁאון (beginning and ending with a formative syllable) is certainly a word of rare formation, to be compared only to מסדּרון , Judges 3:23; but since the nearest-lying formation משּׁא signifies usury (from נשׁא , to credit) (according to which Symmachus, διὰ λήμματα , to desire gain), it is obvious that the language preferred this double formation for the meaning deceiving, illusion, or, exactly: fraud. It may also be possible to refer it, like משּׁוּאות ( vid., under Psalms 23:1-6:18), to &#שׁוא שׁאה , to be confused, waste, as this is done by Parchon, Kimchi ( Venet. ἐν ἐρημίᾳ ), Ralbag, and others; משׁאון , in this sense of deepest concealment, certainly says not a little as the contrast of קהל [an assembly], but ישׁימום [a desert] stood ready for the poet to be used in this sense; he might also have expressed himself as Job 30:3; Job 38:27. The selection of this rare word is better explained if it denotes the superlative of deceit - a course of conduct maliciously directed toward the deception of a neighbour. That is also the impression which the word has made on Jerome ( fraudulenter ), the Targ. ( בּמוּרסתא , in grinding), Luther (to do injury), and according to which it has already been explained, e.g., by C. B. Michaelis and Oetinger (“with dissembled, deceitful nature”). The punctuation of תכסה , Codd. and editions present in three different forms. Buxtorf in his Concordance (also Fürst), and the Basel Biblia Rabbinica, have the form תּכסּה ; but this is a mistake. Either תּכּסה ( Niph.) תּכּסּה ( Hithpa., with the same assimilation of the preformative ת as in הכּבּס , Leviticus 13:55; נכּפּר , Deuteronomy 21:8) is to be read; Kimchi, in his Wörterbuch, gives תּכּסּה , which is certainly better supported. A surer contrast of במשׁאון and בקהל remains in our interpretation; only we translate not as Ewald: “hatred seeks to conceal itself by hypocrisy,” but: in deceitful work. Also we refer רעתו , not to במשׁאון , but to שׂנאה , for hatred is thought of in connection with its personal representative. We see from 26b that hatred is meant which not only broods over evil, but also carries it into execution. Such hatred may conceal itself in cunningly-contrived deception, yet the wickedness of the hater in the end comes out from behind the mask with the light of publicity.

Verse 27

27 He who diggeth a pit falleth therein;

And he that rolleth up a stone, upon himself it rolleth back.

The thought that destruction prepared for others recoils upon its contriver, has found its expression everywhere among men in divers forms of proverbial sayings; in the form which it here receives, 27a has its oldest original in Psalms 7:16, whence it is repeated here and in Ecclesiastes 10:8, and Sir. 27:26. Regarding כּרה , vid., at Proverbs 16:27. בּהּ here has the sense of in eam ipsam ; expressed in French, the proverb is: celui qui creuse la fosse, y tombera ; in Italian: chi cava la fossa, caderà in essa. The second line of this proverb accords with Psalms 7:17 ( vid., Hupfeld and Riehm on this passage). It is natural to think of the rolling as a rolling upwards; cf. Sir. 27:25, ὁ βάλλων λίθον εἰς ὕψος ἐπὶ κεφαλὴν αὐτοῦ βάλλει , i.e., throws it on his own head. וגלל אבן is to be syntactically judged of like Proverbs 18:13.

Verse 28

28 The lying tongue hateth those whom it bruiseth;

And a flattering mouth causeth ruin.

The lxx, Jerome, the Targ., and Syr. render ישׂנא דכיו in the sense of non amat veritatem ; they appear by דכיו to have thought of the Aram. דכיא , that which is pure; and thus they gain nothing else but an undeniable plain thought. Many Jewish interpreters gloss: מוכיחיו , also after the Aram.: &#דּכּיו מדכּיו ; but the Aram. דּכּי does not mean pure in the sense of being right, therefore Elia Wilna understands him who desires to justify himself, and this violent derivation from the Aram. thus does not lead to the end. Luther, translating: “a false tongue hates those who punish it,” explains, as also Gesenius, conterentes = castigantes ipsam ; but דּך signifies, according to the usage of the language before us, “bruised” ( vid., Psalms 9:10), not: bruising; and the thought that the liar hates him who listens to him, leads ad absurdum; but that he does not love him who bruises (punishes) him, is self-evident. Kimchi sees in דּכּיו another form of דּכּא ; and Meîri, Jona Gerundi in his ethical work ( שׁערי תשׁובה = The gates of Repentance), and others, accordingly render דכיו in the sense of &#ענו עניו ): the lying tongue hates - as Löwenstein translates - the humble [pious]; also that for דכּיו , by the omission of ו דכּי זכּי may be read, is supposable; but this does not harmonize with the second half of the proverb, according to which לשׁון שׁקר must be the subject, and ישׂנא דכיו must express some kind of evil which proceeds from such a tongue. Ewald: “the lying tongue hates its master ( אדניו ),” but that is not in accordance with the Heb. style; the word in that case should have been בּעליו . Hitzig countenances this אדניו , with the remark that the tongue is here personified; but personified, the tongue certainly means him who has it (Psalms 120:3). Böttcher's conjecture ישׁנּא דכיו , “confounds their talk,” is certainly a curiosity. Spoken of the sea, those words would mean, “it changes its surge.” But is it then at all necessary to uncover first the meaning of 28a? Rashi, Arama, and others refer דכּיו to דּכּים נדכּאים מדכּים ). Thus also perhaps the Venet., which translates τοὺς ἐπιτριμμοὺς (not: ἐπιτετριμμένους ) αὐτῆς . C. B. Michaelis: Lingua falsitatis odio habet contritos suos, h. e. eos quos falsitate ac mendacio laedit contritosque facit . Hitzig objects that it is more correct to say: conterit perosos sibi . And certainly this lay nearer, on which account Fleischer remarks: in 28a there is to be supposed a poetic transposition of the ideas (Hypallage): homo qui lingua ad calumnias abutitur conterit eos quos odit . The poet makes ישׂנא the main conception, because it does not come to him so readily to say that the lying tongue bruises those against whom it is directed, as that it is hatred, which is active in this. To say this was by no means superfluous. There are men who find pleasure in repeating and magnifying scandalously that which is depreciatory and disadvantageous to their neighbour unsubstantiated, without being at all conscious of any particular ill-will or personal enmity against him; but this proverb says that such untruthful tongue-thrashing proceeds always from a transgression of the commandment, “Thou shalt not hate thy brother,” Leviticus 19:17, and not merely from the want of love, but from a state of mind which is the direct opposite of love ( vid., Proverbs 10:18). Ewald finds it incongruous that 28a speaks of that which others have to suffer from the lying tongue, whereas the whole connection of this proverb requires that the tongue should here be regarded as bringing ruin upon its owner himself. But of the destruction which the wicked tongue prepares for others many proverbs also speak, e.g., Proverbs 12:13, cf. Proverbs 17:4, לשׁון הוּת ; and 28b does not mention that the smooth tongue (written וּפה־חלק with Makkeph) brings injury upon itself (an idea which must be otherwise expressed; cf. Proverbs 14:32), but that it brings injury and ruin on those who have pleasure in its flatteries ( חלקות , Psalms 12:3; Isaiah 30:10), and are befooled thereby: os blandiloquum ( blanditiis dolum tegens ) ad casum impellit, sc. alios (Fleischer).

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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 26". Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary. 1854-1889.