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Bible Commentaries

Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary

Proverbs 6

Verses 1-5

The author warns against suretyship; or rather, he advises that if one has made himself surety, he should as quickly as possible withdraw from the snare.

The new commencement needs no particle denoting a conclusion; the אפוא , making the summons emphatic (cf. 2 Kings 10:10, frequently in interrogative clauses), connects it closely enough. זאת , neut., refers to what follows. The ו before הנּצל is explanatory, as we say in familiar language: Be so good as tell me, or do me the favour to come with me; while no Frenchman would say, Faites-moi le (ce) plaisir et venez avec moi (Fl.).

The naked מיּד is not to be translated “immediately;” for in this sense the word is rabbinical, not biblical. The versions (with exception of Jerome and the Graec. Venet.) translate as if the word were מפּח [out of the snare]. Bertheau prefers this reading, and Böttcher holds חיּד [a hunter] to have fallen out after מיד . It is not a parallelism with reservation; for a bird-catcher is not at the same time a gazelle-hunter. The author, if he has so written, has conceived of מיד , as at 1 Kings 20:42, as absolute, and connected it with הנּצל : tear thyself free like the gazelle from the hand into which thou hast fallen (Hitzig); according to which, the section should be accentuated thus: &#הנצל כצבי מיד צבי , Aram. טבי , Arab. zaby , is the gazelle (Arab. ghazâl ), so called from its elegance; צפּור , the bird, from its whistling ( צפר , Arab. ṣafar , R. צף , cf. Arab. saffârat , the whistling of a bird), Arab. safar , whistler (with prosthesis, 'aṣafwar , warbler, Psalm. p. 794). The bird-catcher is called יקושׁ (from יקשׁ , after the form יכל , cog. קושׁ , Isaiah 29:21, נקשׁ , R. קש ), after the form בּגוד (fem. בּגודה ), or יקוּשׁ ; one would think that the Kametz, after the form kâtwl ( vid., under Isaiah 1:17), must here be fixed, but in Jeremiah 5:26 the word is vocalized יקוּשׁים .

Verses 6-8

As Elihu (Job 35:11) says that God has set the beasts as our teachers, so he sends the sluggard to the school of the ant ( Ameise), so named (in Germ.) from its industry ( Emsigkeit ):

This relative clause describes the subject of Proverbs 6:8 more fully: it is like a clause with גּם כּי , quamquam .

In this verse the change of the time cannot be occasioned by this, that קיץ and קציר are distinguished as the earlier and the later period of the year; for קיץ (= Arab. ḳayt , from ḳât , to be glowing hot, cf. Arab. kghyyṭ of the glow of the mid-day heat) is the late summer, when the heat rises to the highest degree; but the son of the Shunammite succumbed to the sun-stroke in the time of harvest (2 Kings 4:18.). Löwenstein judiciously remarks that תּכין refers to immediate want, אנרה to that which is future; or, better, the former shows them engaged in persevering industry during the summer glow, the latter as at the end of the harvest, and engaged in the bringing home of the winter stores. The words of the procuring of food in summer are again used by Agur, Proverbs 30:25; and the Aramaic fable of the ant and the grasshopper,

(Note: Vid., Goldberg's Chofes Matmonim, Berlin 1845; and Landsberger's Berlin Graduation Thesis, Fabulae aliquot Aramaeae, 1846, p. 28.)

which is also found among those of Aesop and of Syntipas, serves as an illustration of this whole verse. The lxx has, after the “Go to the ant,” a proverb of five lines, ἢ πορεύθητι πρὸς τὴν μέλισσαν . Hitzig regards it as of Greek origin; and certainly, as Lagarde has shown, it contains idiomatic Greek expressions which would not occur to a translator from the Hebrew. In any case, however, it is an interpolation which disfigures the Hebrew text by overlading it.

Verses 9-11

After the poet has admonished the sluggard to take the ant as an example, he seeks also to rouse him out of his sleepiness and indolence:

The awakening cry, Proverbs 6:9, is not of the kind that Paul could have it in his mind, Ephesians 5:14. עצל has, as the vocative, Pasek after it, and is, on account of the Pasek, in correct editions accentuated not with Munach, but Mercha. The words, Proverbs 6:10, are not an ironical call (sleep only yet a little while, but in truth a long while), but per mimesin the reply of the sluggard with which he turns away the unwelcome disturber. The plurals with מעט sound like self-delusion: yet a little, but a sufficient! To fold the hands, i.e., to cross them over the breast, or put them into the bosom, denotes also, Ecclesiastes 4:5, the idler. חבּוּק , complicatio (cf. in Livy, compressis quod aiunt manibus sidere ; and Lucan, 2:292, compressas tenuisse manus ), for formed like שׁקּוּי , Proverbs 3:8, and the inf. שׁכב like חסר , Proverbs 10:21, and שׁפל , Proverbs 16:19. The perf. consec. connects itself with the words heard from the mouth of the sluggard, which are as a hypothetical antecedent thereto: if thou so sayest, and always again sayest, then this is the consequence, that suddenly and inevitably poverty and want come upon thee. That מהלּך denotes the grassator , i.e., vagabond (Arab. dawwar , one who wanders much about), or the robber or foe (like the Arab. 'aduww , properly transgressor finium ), is not justified by the usage of the language; הלך signifies, 2 Samuel 12:4, the traveller, and מהלּך is one who rides quickly forward, not directly a κακὸς ὁδοιπόρος (lxx).

Proverbs 6:11

The point of comparison, 11a, is the unforeseen, as in quick march or assault (Böttcher), and 11b the hostile and irretrievable surprise; for a man in armour, as Hitzig remarks, brings no good in his armour: he assails the opponent, and he who is without defence yields to him without the possibility of withstanding him. The lxx translate כאישׁ מגן by ὥσπερ ἀγαθὸς δρομεύς (cf. δρομεύς = מני־ארג , Job 7:6, lxx, Aq.), for what reason we know not. After Proverbs 6:11 they interpose two other lines: “but if thou art assiduous, thy harvest will come to thee as a fountain, but want will go away ὥσπερ κακὸς δρομεύς .” Also this “bad runner” we must let go; for Lagarde's retranslation, ומחסרך כחשׁ בּאישׁ נמג , no one can understand. The four lines, Proverbs 6:10, Proverbs 6:11 are repeated in the appendix of Words of the Wise, Proverbs 24:33.; and if this appendix originated in the time of Hezekiah, they may have been taken therefrom by the poet, the editor of the older Book of Proverbs. Instead of &#כמהלּך מתהלך is there used (so comes forward thy poverty, i.e., again and again, but certainly moving forward); and instead of &#מחסרך מחסריך is written, as also here, Proverbs 6:6, for משׁנתך is found the variant משׁנתיך with Jod as mater lectionis of the pausal Segol.

Verses 12-15

There follows now a third brief series of instructions, which run to a conclusion with a deterring prospect similar to the foregoing.

קורץ בּעיניו is translated according to the sense: who winks ( nictat ) with his eyes; but that is not the proper meaning of the word, for קרץ is used not only of the eyes. Proverbs 10:10 (cf. Proverbs 16:30, qui oculos morsicat or connivet ), Psalms 35:19, but also of the lips, Proverbs 16:30. Thus Löwenstein's explanation: who opens up the eyes, is incorrect. The verb קרץ unites in it the meanings of Arab. qrts , to pinch off with a sharp implement, and Arab. qrd , with a blunt instrument (Arab. miḳraḍ , pincers). It means to pince, to nip, as Arab. ḳarṣ , pincer - e.g., ḳarṣ balskyn alarsasat , he cuts off with the knife the leaden seal - hence frequently, to nip together the eyes, provincially: to wink (“ zwickern ,” frequent. of “ zwicken ,” to nip) with the eyes - the action of the deceiver, who thereby gives the sign to others that they help or at least do not hinder him from bantering and mocking, belying and deceiving a third person (Fl.); cf. Ali's proverb, “O God, pardon to us the culpable winking with the eye ( ramzat ),” and Fleischer's notes thereon, the Proverbs of Ali, p. 100f.

That the words which follow, בּרגליו מולל , are meant of discourse, i.e., the giving of signs, with the feet, and, so to say, significant oratio pedestris (lxx, Aben-Ezra, Bertheau, Hitzig, and others), is very improbable, since the usage of language has set apart the Piel מלּל for the meaning loqui , and מולל admits another suitable signification, for מולל means in Talmudic fricare, confricare - e.g., המולל מלילות , he who grinds the parched ears of corn ( b. Beza 12b; Ma'seroth, iv. 5) - after which Syr., Targ., תכס (stamping), Aq. τρίβων , Symm. προστρίβων , Jerome, ( qui ) terit pede , and Rashi משׁפשׁף (grinding, scratching); it means one who scrapes with his feet, draws them backwards and forwards on the ground in order thereby to give a sign to others; also the Arab. mll , levem et agilem esse , which as the synonym of Arab. sr is connected with Arab. fı̂ of the way, signifies properly to move the feet quickly hither and thither (Fl.).

In this verse is continued the description of the subject, only once returning to the particip. The clauses are arranged independently, but logically according to the complex conception of the subject. תּהפּכות .tce are just the knaveries, i.e., the malicious wickedness which comes to light in word and deportment as עקשׁות פה . Regarding the double figure of the smithy and of agriculture underlying חרשׁ , machinari , vid., at Proverbs 3:29, and regarding the omission of the הוּא to חרשׁ , at Psalms 7:10. The phrase שׁלּח מדנים (as Proverbs 6:19, Proverbs 16:28), to let loose disputes, so that they break forth, reminds us rather of the unfettering of the winds by Aeolus than of the casting in of the apple of discord. Instead of מדנים the Kerı̂ has מדינים ; on the other hand, מדנים remains uncorrected Proverbs 6:19; Proverbs 10:12. The form מדינים occurs once, Proverbs 18:18, and its constr. מדיני once, Proverbs 19:13. Everywhere else the text has מדונים , for which the Kerı̂ has מדינים , Proverbs 18:19; Proverbs 21:9, Proverbs 21:19; Proverbs 23:29; Proverbs 25:24; Proverbs 26:21; Proverbs 27:15. The forms מדין and מדן are also recognised: the former stands alone without any analogous example; the latter is compared at least with מצד , Arab. masâd ( Psalmen, p. 163, 3). Probably these two forms are warranted by Genesis 25:2, cf. Genesis 37:28, Genesis 37:36, where מדין and מדן occur as the names of two sons of Abraham by Keturah. But the national name מדינים is no reason for the seven times laying aside of the regular form מדונים , i.e., מדונים , which is the plur. of מדון after the forms &#מאורים מעורים , although מדוּנים , after the forms &#מבוּשׁים מצוּקים , is also found.

Proverbs 6:15

With the 14th verse the description terminates. A worthless and a wicked person is he who does such things. The point lies in the characteristic out of which the conclusion is drawn: therefore his ruin will suddenly come upon him, etc. Regarding איד , the root-meaning of which is illustrated by Amos 2:13, vid., at Proverbs 1:26. פּתאם is an old accus. of an absol. פּתא , of the same meaning as פּתע , used as an adverbial accus., both originating in the root-idea of splitting, opening, breaking out and breaking forth. “Shall be broken to pieces” (as a brittle potter's vessel, Psalms 2:9; Isaiah 30:14; Jeremiah 29:11) is a frequent figure for the destruction ( שׁבר ) of an army (cf. Arab. ânksar âljysh ), of a city or a state, a man. ואין continues the ישּׁבר as Proverbs 29:1: there shall be as it were no means of recovery for his shattered members (Fl.). Without the Vav this אין מרפּא would be a clause conceived of accusatively, and thus adverbially: without any healing.

Verses 16-19

What now follows is not a separate section (Hitzig), but the corroborative continuation of that which precedes. The last word ( מדנים , strife) before the threatening of punishment, 14b, is also here the last. The thought that no vice is a greater abomination to God than the (in fact satanical) striving to set men at variance who love one another, clothes itself in the form of the numerical proverb which we have already considered, pp. 12, 13. From that place we transfer the translation of this example of a Midda: -

The fourth characteristic is a deceitful heart. On חרשׁ , vid., Proverbs 6:14, Proverbs 3:29, and on אין , Proverbs 6:12. The fifth: feet running with haste to evil; לרעה as לרע in Isaiah 59:7, echoing the distich Proverbs 1:16, as here, 17b and 18b. The connection מהר לרוּץ , propere cucurrit (contrast אחר ל ), is equivalent to רץ מהר .

Proverbs 6:19

The sixth: “A speaker of lies, a tongue of falsehood,” is hateful to God. It is one subject which is thus doubly characterized. כּזבים are fictions, and שׁקר is the disfiguring ( deformatio ) of the actual facts. They are purposely placed together in this connection. The derivations of these synonyms are obscure; Fürst gives to the former the root-idea of spinning (properly knotting together), and to the latter that of painting. כזבים is introduced to support שׁקר .

(Note: Isaak Albo thus distinguishes these synonyms in his dogmatic, bearing the title ספר עקרים , ii. 27.)

It would also be verbally permissible to interpret עד שׁקר in the sense of עדוּת שׁקר , like Proverbs 25:18, as in apposition to כזבים ; but in the nearest parallel, Proverbs 14:15, the idea is personal, for it is said of the עד שׁקר that he breathes out lies. In that place there can be no doubt that the clause is a verbal one, and יפיח finitum , viz., Hiph. of פּוּח . This Hiph. signifies elsewhere also sufflare , Proverbs 20:8, afflare , Psalms 10:5; Ezekiel 21:26, perflare , Song of Solomon 4:16, anhelare ( desiderare ), Psalms 12:6; Habakkuk 2:3, but with כזבים , efflare , a synonym to דּבּר , as הבּיע and הטּיף , which has (cf. Proverbs 12:17) no secondary meaning in use, but is mostly connected with כזבים , not without reference to the fact that that which is false is without reality and is nothing more than הבל ורוח . But what kind of a form is יפיח , where it is not, as Proverbs 14:5, the predicate of a verbal clause, but in connection with כזבים , as here and at Proverbs 14:25; Proverbs 19:5, Proverbs 19:9 (once with אמונה , Proverbs 12:17), is the subject of a substantival clause? That which lies nearest is to regard it as a noun formed from the fut. Hiph. Such formations we indeed meet only among proper names, such as יאיר יכין יקים ; however, at least the one n. appell. יריב (an adversary) is found, which may be formed from the Hiph. as well as from the Kal. But should not the constr. of יפיח after the form יריב be יפיח ? One does not escape from this consideration by deriving יפיח , after the forms ייגיע יחיל ידיד ישׁישׁ , and the like, from a secondary verb יפח , the existence of which is confirmed by Jeremiah 4:31, and from which also יפח , Psalms 27:12, appears to be derived, although it may be reduced also, after the form ירב (with יריב ), to הפיח . But in this case also one expects as a connecting form יפיח like ידיד , as in reality יפח from יפח (cf. &#אבל שׂמהי , from &#אבל שׂמח ). Shall it now be assumed that the Kametz is treated as fixed? This were contrary to rule, since it is not naturally long. Thus the connection is not that of the genitive. But if יפיח were a substantive formed with the preformative of the second modus like ילקוּט 1 Samuel 17:40, or were it a participial intensive form of active signification such as נביא , then the verbal force remaining in it is opposed to the usage of the language. There remains nothing further, therefore, than to regard יפיח as an attributive put in the place of a noun: one who breathes out; and there is a homogeneous example of this, for in any other way we cannot explain יוסיף , Ecclesiastes 1:18. In 19b the numeral proverb reaches its point. The chief of all that God hates is he who takes a fiendish delight in setting at variance men who stand nearly related. Thus this brief proverbial discourse rounds itself off, coming again to 14b as a refrain.

Verses 20-21

After these three smaller sections, the teacher of wisdom returns here to the theme of the eighth: Warning against sins of the flesh, whose power and prevalence among men is so immeasurably great, that their terrible consequences cannot sufficiently be held up before them, particularly before youth.

20 Keep, my son, the commandment of thy father,

And reject not the instruction of thy mother.

21 Bind them to thy heart evermore,

Fasten them about thy neck.

The suff. - ēm refers to the good doctrine (cf. Proverbs 7:3) pointed out by מצוה and תּורה ; the masc. stands, as is usual ( e.g., Proverbs 1:16; Proverbs 5:2), instead of the fem. Regarding the figure, reminding us of the Tefillin and of Amuletes for perpetual representation, vid., under Proverbs 3:3. Similarly of persons, Song of Solomon 8:6. The verb ענד (only here and Job 31:36) signifies to bend, particularly to bend aside (Arab. 'ind , bending off, going aside; accus. as adv., aside, apud ), and to bend up, to wind about, circumplicare .

Verse 22

The representation of the good doctrine is now personified, and becomes identified with it.

When thou walkest, it will guide thee;

When thou liest down, it will keep watch over thee;

And when thou wakest, it will talk with thee.

The subject is the doctrine of wisdom, with which the representation of wisdom herself is identified. The futures are not expressive of a wish or of an admonition, but of a promise; the form of the third clause shows this. Thus, and in the same succession as in the schema Deuteronomy 6:7, cf. Proverbs 11:19, are the three circumstances of the outward life distinguished: going, lying down, and rising up. The punctuation בּהתהלכך , found here and there, is Ben-Naphtali's variant; Ben-Asher and also the Textus rec. reject the Metheg in this case, vid., Baer's Metheg - Setzung, §28. The verb נחה , with its Hiph. in a strengthened Kal -signification, is more frequently found in the Psalms than in the Proverbs; the Arab. nh' shows that it properly signifies to direct ( dirigere ), to give direction, to move in a definite direction. שׁמר with על , to take into protection, we had already Proverbs 2:11; this author has favourite forms of expression, in the repetition of which he takes delight. With lying down, sleeping is associated. והקיצות is, as Psalms 139:18, the hypoth. perf., according to Ewald, §357a: et ut expergefactus es, illa te compellabit . Bertheau incorrectly: she will make thee thoughtful. But apart from the fact that there is no evidence of the existence of this Hiph. in the language of the Bible, the personification demands a clearer figure. &#שׂיח שׂוּח ) signifies mental speech and audible speech (Genesis 24:63, poet., in the Talmudic

(Note: The conjecture thrown out by Wetstein, that (Arab.) shykh is equivalent to &#משׂיח מסיח ), speaker, is untenable, since the verb shakh , to be old, a so-called munsarif , i.e., conjugated throughout, is used in all forms, and thus is certainly the root of the shykh .)

a common word); with ב , speaking concerning something ( fabulari de ), Psalms 69:13; with the accus., that which is said of a thing, Psalms 145:5, or the address, briefly for שׂיח ל , Job 12:8 (as מגּן with accus. Proverbs 4:9 = מגן ל ): when thou art awake, wisdom will forthwith enter into conversation with thee, and fill thy thoughts with right matter, and give to thy hands the right direction and consecration.

Verse 23

Since in היא the idea of wisdom and of wholesome doctrine lie in one another, the author can proceed with proof:

For a lamp is the commandment, and instruction a light (Jerome et lex lux );

And a way of life, disciplinary reproofs.

That תורה has here not the positive, specifically Israelitish sense, but the generalized sense of instruction in conformity with truth regarding the will of God and the duty of man, vid., p. 42. This instruction mediated by man, but of divine origin, is אור , light, which enlightens the man who submits to it; and the commandment, מצוה , which directs men in every case to do what is right, and forbids that which is wrong (including the prohibition Leviticus 4:2), is נר , a lamp which, kindled at that light, enlightens all the darkness of ignorance with reference to human conduct and its consequences. אור and נר are related to each other as general and particular, primary and derivative. Löwenstein accentuates incorrectly תּורהו אור instead of תּורהו אור (as the Cod. 1294 and the 3 Erfurt Codd.); vid., on the retrogression of the tone, not existing here, under Proverbs 3:15. The gen. מוּסר denotes the object or character of the admonition: not disciplinary in the external sense of the word, but rather moral, having in view discipline in the sense of education, i.e., moral edification and elevation. Such corrections are דּרך חיּים , the way to true life, direction how to obtain it.

Verse 24

The section thus closes:

To keep thee from the vile woman,

From the flattery of the strange tongue.

Regarding the genitive connection אושׁת רע , a woman of a wicked character, vid., under Proverbs 2:14; and regarding the adjectival connection לשׁון נכריה , under Proverbs 6:17; the strange tongue is the tongue ( לשׁון ) of the strange (foreign) woman ( vid., p. 81), alluring with smooth words (Proverbs 2:16). Ewald, Bertheau: from her of a smooth tongue, the stranger, as Symm., Theod., ἀπὸ λειογλώσσου ξένης ; but חלקת is a substantive (Genesis 27:16), and as a fem. adject. form is without an example. Rather חלקת לשׁון is to be regarded as the first member and נכריה as the second of the st. constr., for the former constitutes one idea, and לשון on this account remains unabbreviated; cf. Psalms 68:22; Isaiah 28:1; but (1) this syntactical phenomenon is yet problematical, vid., Friedr. Philippi, Wesen und Ursprung des St. Constr. p. 17; and (2) the supposition of such an anomaly is here unnecessary.

Verses 25-26

The proaemium of these twelve proverbial discourses is now at an end. Wisdom herself begins striking the note of the Decalogue:

25 Long not for her beauty in thy heart,

And let her not catch thee with her eyelids;

26 Because for a harlot one cometh down to a piece of bread,

And a man's wife lieth in wait for a precious soul.

The warning 25a is in the spirit of the “thou shalt not covet,” Exodus 20:17, and the ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ αὑτοῦ , Matthew 5:28, of the Preacher on the Mount. The Talmudic proverb הרהודי עבירה קשו מעבירה ( Joma 29a) means only that the imagination of the sinful act exhausts the body even more than the act itself. The warning, “let her not catch thee with her eyelids,” refers to her (the adulteress's) coquettish ogling and amorous winking. In the reason added, beginning with כּי בעד־ (thus it is to be punctuated), there is the appositional connection אשּׁה זונה , Gesen. §113; the idea of זונה goes over into 26b. “ לחם כּכּר [ = כּרכּר , R. kr, to round, vid., at Genesis 49:5], properly a circle of bread, is a small round piece of bread, such as is still baked in Italy ( pagnotta) and in the East (Arab. ḳurṣ ), here an expression for the smallest piece” (Fl.). בּעד ( constr. of בּעד ), as Job 2:4; Isaiah 32:14, is used in the sense of ὑπέρ , pro , and with עד there is connected the idea of the coming down to this low point. Ewald, Bertheau explain after the lxx, τιμὴ γὰρ πόρνης ὅση καὶ ἑνὸς ἄρτου, γυνὴ δὲ ἀνδρῶν τιμίας ψυχὰς ἀγρεύει . But nothing is said here of price (reward); the parallelism is synonymous, not antithetic: he is doubly threatened with loss who enters upon such a course. The adulterer squanders his means (Proverbs 29:3) to impoverishment ( vid., the mention of a loaf of bread in the description of poverty 1 Samuel 2:36), and a man's wife (but at the same time seeking converse with another) makes a prey of a precious soul; for whoever consents to adulterous converse with her, loses not perhaps his means, but certainly freedom, purity, dignity of soul, yea, his own person. צוּד comprehends - as צידון , fisher's town [Zidon], Arab. ṣyâd , hunter and fisher, show - all kinds of hunting, but in Hebr. is used only of the hunting of wild beasts. The root-meaning (cf. צדיּה ) is to spy, to seize.

Verses 27-29

The moral necessity of ruinous consequences which the sin of adultery draws after it, is illustrated by examples of natural cause and effect necessarily connected:

A second example of destructive consequences naturally following a certain course is introduced with אם of the double question. גּחלים (from גּחל , after the form פּחם , but for which גּחלת is used) is the regular modification of gaḥḥalı̂m (Gesen. §27, 2). The fem. ורגליו is followed here (cf. on the other hand Proverbs 1:16) by the rhythmically full-sounding form תכּוינה (retaining the distinction of gender), from כּוה , Arab. kwy , to burn so that a brand-mark ( כּי , Isaiah 3:24, cauterium ) remains.

Proverbs 6:29

The instruction contained in these examples here follows: τὸ εἰς πῦρ καὶ εἰς γυναῖκα ἐμπεσεῖν Ἴσον ὑπάρχει (Pythagoras in Maximi Eclog. c. 39). בּוא אל is here, as the second in Psalms 51:1, a euphemism, and נגע בּ , to come in contact with, means, as נגע אל , to touch, Genesis 20:6. He who goes in to his neighbour's wife shall not do so with impunity ( נקי ). Since both expressions denote fleshly nearness and contact, so it is evident he is not guiltless.

Verses 30-31

The thief and the adulterer are now placed in comparison with one another, in such a way that adultery is supposed to be a yet greater crime.

30 One does not treat the thief scornfully if he steals

To satisfy his craving when he is hungry;

31 Being seized, he may restore sevenfold,

Give up the whole wealth of his house.

For the most part 30a is explained: even when this is the case, one does not pass it over in the thief as a bagatelle. Ewald remarks: בּוּז ל stands here in its nearest signification of overlooking, whence first follows that of contemning. But this “nearest” signification is devised wholly in favour of this passage; - the interpretation, “they do not thus let the thief pass,” is set aside by Song of Solomon 8:1, Song of Solomon 8:7; for by 31b, cf. Song of Solomon 8:7, and 34a, cf. Song of Solomon 8:6, it is proved that from Proverbs 6:30 on, reminiscences from the Canticles, which belong to the literature of the Chokma, find their way into the Mashal language of the author. Hitzig's correct supposition, that בּוּז ל always signifies positive contemning, does not necessitate the interrogative interpretation: “Does not one despise the thief if...?” Thus to be understood, the author ought to have written אף כי or גם כי . Michaelis rightly: furtum licet merito pro infami in republica habetur, tamen si cum adulterio comparatur, minus probrosum est . Regarding נפשׁ in the sense of appetite, and even throat and stomach, vid., Psychologie, p. 204. A second is, that the thief, if he is seized (but we regard ונמצא not as the hypoth. perf., but as the part. deprehensus), may make compensation for this crime. The fut. ישׁלּם thus to be understood as the potential lies near from this, that a sevenfold compensation of the thing stolen is unheard of in the Israelitish law; it knows only of a twofold, fourfold, fivefold restoration, Ex. 21:37; Exodus 22:1-3, Exodus 22:8 (cf. Saalschütz, Mos. Recht, p. 554ff.). This excess over that which the law rendered necessary leads into the region of free-will: he (the thief, by which we are now only to think of him whom bitter necessity has made such) may make compensation sevenfold, i.e., superabundantly; he may give up the whole possessions ( vid., on הון at Proverbs 1:13) of his house, so as not merely to satisfy the law, but to appease him against whom he has done wrong, and again to gain for himself an honoured name. What is said in Proverbs 6:30 and Proverbs 6:31 is perfectly just. One does not contemn a man who is a thief through poverty, he is pitied; while the adulterer goes to ruin under all circumstances of contempt and scorn. And: theft may be made good, and that abundantly; but adultery and its consequences are irreparable.

Verses 32-33

Here there is a contrast stated to Proverbs 6:30:

32 He who commits adultery ( adulterans mulierem ) is beside himself,

A self-destroyer-who does this.

33 He gains stripes and disgrace,

And his reproach is never quenched.

נאף , which primarily seems to mean excedere , to indulge in excess, is, as also in the Decalogue, cf. Leviticus 20:10, transitive: ὁ μοιχεύων γυναῖκα . Regarding being mad ( herzlos = heartless) = amens ( excors, vecors ), vid., Psychologie, p. 254. משׁחית נפשׁו is he who goes to ruin with wilful perversity. A self-murderer - i.e., he intends to ruin his position and his prosperity in life - who does it, viz., this, that he touches the wife of another. It is the worst and most inextinguishable dishonouring of oneself. Singularly Behaji: who annihilates it (his soul), with reference to Deuteronomy 21:12. Eccl. 4:17, where עשׂה would be equivalent to בּטּל , καταργεῖν , which is untrue and impossible.

(Note: Behaji ought rather to have referred to Zephaniah 3:19; Ezekiel 7:27; Ezekiel 22:14; but there עשׂה את means agere cum aliquo , as we say: mit jemandem abrechnen (to settle accounts with any one).)

נגע refers to the corporal punishment inflicted on the adulterer by the husband (Deuteronomy 17:8; Deuteronomy 21:5); Hitzig, who rejects Proverbs 6:32, refers it to the stripes which were given to the thief according to the law, but these would be called &#מכּה מכּות ). The punctuation נגע־וקלון is to be exchanged for קלונו נגע (Löwenstein and other good editors). מצא has a more active signification than our “ finden ” (to find): consequitur , τυγχάνει .

Verses 34-35

One who has been stolen from is to be appeased, but not the injured husband.

34 For jealousy is the fury of a husband,

And he spareth not in the day of vengeance.

35 He regardeth not any ransom,

And is not contented though thou offerest to him gifts ever so great.

The connection marks קנאה as the subject; for it respects carnal intercourse with another's wife. Jealousy is not usually חמה , the glow of anger (from יחם , as שׁנה from ישׁן ), but חמת־גּבר (constr. as שׂנת ), the glow of a man's anger, who with the putting forth of all his manly strength will seek satisfaction to his wounded honour. גּבר , here significant for אישׁ , with the fundamental idea of strength, firmness; cf. Arab. jabr , to make fast, to put right again something broken in pieces, particularly a broken vessel, hence Algebra, properly the operation by which an incomplete magnitude is completed (Fl.). The following ולא־יחמּל (with the orthophonic Dagesh, as Proverbs 6:25 יחמּד , and with Makkeph) is connected with גבר , with definite reference to the man whom the faithless guest has made a cuckold. When the day comes in which the adultery brought to light demands and admits of vengeance, then, wounded in his right and in his honour, he knows no mercy; he pays no regard to any atonement or recompense by which the adulterer seeks to appease him and induce him not to inflict the punishment that is due: he does not consent, even though thou makest ever so great the gift whereby thou thinkest to gain him. The phrase נשׂא פנים , πρόσωπον λαμβάνειν , signifies elsewhere to receive the countenance, i.e., the appearance and the impression of a man, i.e., to let it impress one favourably; here it is used of the כּפר , i.e., the means by which covering, i.e., non-punishment, pardon of the crime, impunity of the guilty, is obtained. Regarding אבה , to consent to, vid., at Proverbs 1:10. שׂחד , Aram. שׂוּחד , is a gift, particularly bribery. That the language may again finally assume the form of an address, it beautifully rounds itself off.

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