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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.
1 My son, if thou hast become surety for thy neighbour,
Hast given thy hand for another:
2 Thou art entangled in the words of thy mouth,
Ensnared in the words of thy mouth.
3 Do this then, my son, and free thyself -
For thou hast come under the power of thy neighbour -
Go, instantly entreat and importune thy neighbour.
4 Give no sleep to thine eyes,
And no slumber to thine eyelids;
5 Tear thyself free like a gazelle from his hand,
And as a bird from the hand of the fowler.
The chief question here is, whether ל after ערב introduces him for whom or with whom one becomes surety. Elsewhere ערב (R. רב , whence also ארב , nectere , to twist close and compact) with the accusative of the person means to become surety for any one, to represent him as a surety, Proverbs 11:15; Proverbs 20:16 (Proverbs 27:13), Genesis 43:9; Genesis 44:33 (as with the accusative of the matter, to pledge anything, to deposit it as a pledge, Jeremiah 30:21; Nehemiah 5:3, = שׂים , Arab. waḍ'a , Job 17:3); and to become surety with any one is expressed, Genesis 17:18, by ערב לפני . The phrase ערב ל is not elsewhere met with, and is thus questionable. If we look to Proverbs 6:3, the רע ( רעה ) mentioned there cannot possibly be the creditor with whom one has become surety, for so impetuous and urgent an application to him would be both purposeless and unbecoming. But if he is meant for whom one has become surety, then certainly לרעך is also to be understood of the same person, and ל is thus dat. commodi; similar to this is the Targumic ערבוּתא על , suretyship for any one, Proverbs 17:18; Proverbs 22:26. But is the זר , 1b, distinguished from רעך , the stranger with whom one has become surety? The parallels Proverbs 11:15; Proverbs 20:16, where זר denotes the person whom one represents, show that in both lines one and the same person is meant; זר is in the Proverbs equivalent to אחר , each different from the person in the discourse, Proverbs 5:17; Proverbs 27:2 - thus, like רעך , denotes not the friend, but generally him to whom one stands in any kind of relation, even a very external one, in a word, the fellow-creatures or neighbours, Proverbs 24:28 (cf. the Arab. sahbk and ḳarynk , which are used as vaguely and superficially). It is further a question, whether we have to explain 1b: if thou hast given thine hand to another, or for another. Here also we are without evidence from the usage of the language; for the phrase תּקע כּף , or merely תּקע , appears to be used of striking the hand in suretyship where it elsewhere occurs without any further addition, Proverbs 17:18; Proverbs 22:26; Proverbs 11:15; however, Job 17:3, נתקע ליד appears the same: to strike into the hand of any one, i.e., to give to him the hand-stroke. From this passage Hitzig concludes that the surety gave the hand-stroke, without doubt in the presence of witnesses, first of all of the creditor, to the debtor, as a sign that he stood for him. But this idea is unnatural, and the “without doubt” melts into air. He on whose hand the stroke falls is always the person to whom one gives suretyship, and confirms it by the hand-stroke. Job also, l.c., means to say: who else but Thou, O Lord, could give to me a pledge, viz., of my innocence? If now the זר , v. 1b, is, as we have shown, not the creditor,
(Note: A translation by R. Joseph Joel of Fulda, 1787, whose autograph MS Baer possesses, renders the passage not badly thus: - “My son, if thou hast become surety for thy friend, and hast given the hand to another, then thou art bound by thy word, held by thy promise. Yet do what I say to thee, my son: Be at pains as soon as thou canst to get free, otherwise thou art in the power of thy friend; shun no trouble, be urgent with thy friend.”)
but the debtor, then is the ל the dat. commodi, as 1a, and the two lines perfectly correspond. תּקע properly means to drive, to strike with a resounding noise, cogn. with the Arab. wak'a , which may be regarded as its intrans. (Fl.); then particularly to strike the hand or with the hand. He to whom this hand-pledge is given for another remains here undesignated. A new question arises, whether in Proverbs 6:6, where נוקשׁ ( illaqueari ) and נלכּד ( comprehendi ) follow each other as Isaiah 8:15, cf. Jeremiah 50:24, the hypothetical antecedent is continued or not. We agree with Schultens, Ziegler, and Fleischer against the continuance of the אם . The repetition of the בּאמרי פיך (cf. Proverbs 2:14) serves rightly to strengthen the representation of the thought: thou, thou thyself and no other, hast then ensnared thyself in the net; but this strengthening of the expression would greatly lose in force by placing Proverbs 6:2 in the antecedent, while if Proverbs 6:2 is regarded as the conclusion, and thus as the principal proposition, it appears in its full strength.
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.).
(Note: For the right succession of the accents here (three serviles before the Pazer), vid., Torath Emeth, p. 30; Accentuationssystem, xii. §4. According to Gen-Naphtali, Mercha is to be given to the זאת .)
The clause כּי באת
(Note: The Zinnorith before the Mahpach in these words represents at the same time the Makkeph and rejects the Zinnorith; vid., Torath Emeth, p. 16, and my Psalmencomm. Bd. ii. (1860), p. 460, note 2.)
is not to be translated: in case thou art fallen into the hand of thy neighbour; for this is represented (Proverbs 6:1, Proverbs 6:2) as having already in fact happened. On two sides the surety is no longer sui juris : the creditor has him in his hand; for if the debtor does not pay, he holds the surety, and in this way many an honourable man has lost house and goods, Sirach 29:18, cf. 8:13; - and the debtor has him, the surety, in his hand; for the performance which is due, for which the suretyship avails, depends on his conscientiousness. The latter is here meant: thou hast made thy freedom and thy possessions dependent on the will of thy neighbour for whom thou art the surety. The clause introduced with כּי gives the reason for the call to set himself free ( הנּצל from נצל , R. צל , של , to draw out or off); it is a parenthetical sentence. The meaning of התרפּס is certain. The verb רפס ( רפשׂ , רפס ) signifies to stamp on, calcare, conclucare ; the Kamûs
(Note: el-Feyroozábádee's Kâmus, a native Arabic Lexicon; vid., Lane's Arab. Lex. Bk. i. pt. 1, p. xvii.)
explains rafas by rakad balarjal . The Hithpa. might, it is true, mean to conduct oneself in a trampling manner, to tread roughly, as התנבּא , and the medial Niph. נבּא , to conduct oneself speaking (in an impassioned manner); but Psalms 68:31 and the analogy of התבּוסס favour the meaning to throw oneself in a stamping manner, i.e., violently, to the ground, to trample upon oneself - i.e., let oneself be trampled upon, to place oneself in the attitude of most earnest humble prayer. Thus the Graec. Venet. πατήθητι , Rashi (“humble thyself like to the threshold which is trampled and trode upon”), Aben-Ezra, Immanuel (“humble thyself under the soles of his feet”); so Cocceius, J. H. Michaelis, and others: conculcandum te praebe . וּרהב is more controverted. The Talmudic-Midrash explanation (b. Joma, 87a; Bathra, 173b, and elsewhere): take with thee in great numbers thy friends ( רהב = הרבּה ), is discredited by this, that it has along with it the explanation of התרפס by ( יד ) פּס חתּר , solve palmam ( manus ), i.e., pay what thou canst. Also with the meaning to rule (Parchon, Immanuel), which רהב besides has not, nothing is to be done. The right meaning of רהב בּ is to rush upon one boisterously, Isaiah 3:5. רהב means in general to be violently excited (Arab. rahiba , to be afraid), and thus to meet one, here with the accusative: assail impetuously thy neighbour (viz., that he fulfil his engagement). Accordingly, with a choice of words more or less suitable, the lxx translates by παρόξυνε , Symm., Theodotion by παρόρμησον , the Graec. Venet. by ἐνίσχυσον , the Syr. (which the Targumist copies) by גרג ( solicita ), and Kimchi glosses by: lay an arrest upon him with pacifying words. The Talmud explains רעיך as plur.;
(Note: There is here no distinction between the Kethîb and the Kerı̂ . The Masora remarks, “This is the only passage in the Book of Proverbs where the word is written with Yod ( י );” it thus recognises only the undisputed רעיך .)
but the plur., which was permissible in Proverbs 3:28, is here wholly inadmissible: it is thus the plena scriptio for רעך with the retaining of the third radical of the ground-form of the root-word ( רעי = רעה ), or with י as mater lectionis, to distinguish the pausal-form from that which is without the pause; cf. Proverbs 24:34. lxx, Syr., Jerome, etc., rightly translate it in the sing. The immediateness lying in לך (cf. ὕπαγε , Matthew 5:24) is now expressed as a duty, Proverbs 6:4. One must not sleep and slumber (an expression quite like Psalms 132:4), not give himself quietness and rest, till the other has released him from his bail by the performance of that for which he is surety. One must set himself free as a gazelle or as a bird, being caught, seeks to disentangle itself by calling forth all its strength and art.
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 .
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 ):
6 Go to the ant, sluggard;
Consider her ways, and be wise!
7 She that hath no judge,
Director, and ruler:
8 She prepareth in summer her food,
Has gathered in harvest her store.
The Dechמ written mostly under the לך separates the inseparable. The thought, Go to the ant, sluggard! permits no other distinction than in the vocative; but the Dechî of לך אל־נמלה is changed into Munach
(Note: Cod. 1294 accentuates לך אל־נמלה ; and that, according to Ben-Asher's rule, is correct.)
on account of the nature of the Athnach -word, which consists of only two syllables without the counter-tone. The ant has for its Hebrew-Arabic name נמלה , from the R. נם (Isaiah, p. 687), which is first used of the sound, which expresses the idea of the low, dull, secret - thus of its active and yet unperceived motion; its Aramaic name in the Peshîto, ûmenaa' , and in the Targ. שׁוּמשׁמנא (also Arab. sumsum , simsim , of little red ants), designates it after its quick activity, its busy running hither and thither ( vid., Fleischer in Levy's Chald. Wörterb. ii. 578). She is a model of unwearied and well-planned labour. From the plur. דּרכיה it is to be concluded that the author observed their art in gathering in and laying up in store, carrying burdens, building their houses, and the like ( vid., the passages in the Talmud and Midrash in the Hamburg Real-Encyclopädie für Bibel und Talmud, 1868, p. 83f.). To the ant the sluggard ( עצל , Aram. and Arab. עטל , with the fundamental idea of weight and dulness) is sent, to learn from her to be ashamed, and to be taught wisdom.
This relative clause describes the subject of Proverbs 6:8 more fully: it is like a clause with גּם כּי , quamquam .
(Note: Proverbs 6:7 is commonly halved by Rebia; but for the correct accentuation, vid., Torath Emeth, p. 48, §3.)
The community of ants exhibits a peculiar class of workers; but it is not, like that of bees, composed of grades germinating in the queen-bee as the head. The three offices here named represent the highest judiciary, police, and executive powers; for קצין (from קצה , to distinguish, with the ending in, vid., Jesurun, p. 215 s.) is the judge; שׁטר (from שׁטר , Arab. saṭr , to draw lines, to write) is the overseer (in war the director, controller), or, as Saalschütz indicates the province of the schotrim both in cities and in the camp, the office of police; משׁל ( vid., Isaiah, p. 691), the governors of the whole state organism subordinated to the schoftim and the schotrim . The Syr., and the Targ. slavishly following it, translate קצין by חצדּא (harvest), for they interchange this word with קציר .
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.
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:
9 How long, O sluggard, wilt thou lie?
When wilt thou rise up from thy sleep?
10 “A little sleep, a little slumber,
A little folding of the hands to rest!”
11 So comes like a strong robber thy poverty,
And thy want as an armed man.
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).
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.
There follows now a third brief series of instructions, which run to a conclusion with a deterring prospect similar to the foregoing.
12 A worthless man, a wicked man,
Is he who practiseth falsehood with his mouth;
13 Who winketh with his eyes, scrapeth with his foot,
Pointeth with his fingers.
14 Malice is in his heart,
He deviseth evil at all times,
He spreadeth strife.
15 Therefore suddenly his destruction shall come,
Suddenly shall he be destroyed, and there is no remedy.
It is a question, what is the subject and what the predicate in Proverbs 6:12. Thus much is clear, that upon him who is here described according to his deceitful conduct the sentence of condemnation shall fall. He who is so described is thus subject, and אדם בּליּעל is without doubt predicate. But does the complex subject begin with אישׁ און ? Thus e.g., Hitzig: “A worthless man is the wicked man who....” But the interchange of עדם and אישׁ is a sign of parallel relation; and if 12b belonged attributively to אישׁ און , then since אישׁ האון is not used, it ought at least to have been continued by ההולך . The general moral categories, 12a, are thus predicates, as was indeed besides probable; the copious division of the subject demands also in point of style a more developed predicate. Proverbs 16:27 is simpler in plan, and also logically different. There the expression is, as is usual, אישׁ בליעל . Since אדם און is not possible, the author uses instead בליעל . This word, composed of בּלי and יעל (from יעל , ועל , to be useful, to be good for), so fully serves as one word, that it even takes the article, 1 Samuel 25:25. It denotes worthlessness, generally in a chain of words in the genitive, but also the worthless, Job 34:18; and it is to be so taken here, for אדם does not form a constructivus, and never governs a genitive. בליעל is thus a virtual adjective (as nequam in homo nequam ); the connection is like that of אדם רשׁע , Proverbs 11:7, and elsewhere, although more appositional than this pure attributive. Synonymous with בליעל is און (from an, to breathe), wickedness, i.e., want of all moral character. Thus worthless and wicked is he who practises deceit with his mouth (cf. Proverbs 4:24), i.e., who makes language the means of untruthfulness and uncharitableness. עקּשׁוּת פּה is meant in a moral sense, but without excluding that distortion of the mouth which belongs to the mimicry of the malicious. It is the accus. of the object; for הלך is also bound in a moral sense with the accusative of that which one practises, i.e., dealing with, exercises himself in, Proverbs 2:7; Proverbs 28:18, Isaiah 33:15.
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.).
(Note: The root-idea of the Arab. mall is unquietness of motion; the Arab. noun mallt signifies the glow with its flickering light and burning: glowing ashes, inner agitation, external haste; Arab. malil ( מלל ) is the feverish patient, but also one quickly hastening away, and generally an impatient or hasty person ( vid., Wetstein in Baudissin in his Job. Tischendorfianus, vii. 6). The grinding is made by means of a quick movement hither and thither; and so also is speaking, for the instrument of speech, particularly the tongue, is set in motion. Only the meaning praecidere, circumcidere , does not connect itself with that root-idea: מל in this signification appears to be a nüance of מר , stringere .)
מרה appears here, in accordance with its primary signification ( projicere , sc. brachium or digitum = monstrare ), connected with בּעצבּעתיו ; another expression for this scornful, malicious δακτυλοδεικνεῖν is שׁלח אצבּע , Isaiah 58:9.
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.
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.
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: -
16 There are six things which Jahve hateth,
And seven are an abhorrence to His soul:
17 Haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
And hands that shed innocent blood;
18 An heart that deviseth the thoughts of evil,
Feet that hastily run to wickedness,
19 One that uttereth lies as a false witness,
And he who soweth strife between brethren.
The sense is not, that the six things are hateful to God, and the seventh an abomination to Him besides (Löwenstein); the Midda -form in Amos 1:3-2:6, and in the proverb in Job 5:19, shows that the seven are to be numbered separately, and the seventh is the non plus ultra of all that is hated by God. We are not to translate: sex haecce odit , for המּה , הנּה , ( הם , הן ) points backwards and hitherwards, but not, as אלּה , forwards to that immediately following; in that case the words would be שׁשׁ אלה , or more correctly האלה שׁשׁ . But also Hitzig's explanation, “These six things (viz., Proverbs 6:12-15) Jahve hateth,” is impossible; for (which is also against that haecce ) the substantive pronoun המה nuonorp , הנה ( ההמה , ההנה ) is never, like the Chald. המּון ( המּו ), employed as an accus. in the sense of אתהם , אתהן , it is always (except where it is the virtual gen. connected with a preposition) only the nom., whether of the subject or of the predicate; and where it is the nom. of the predicate, as Deuteronomy 20:15; Isaiah 51:19, substantival clauses precede in which הנה ( המה ) represents the substantive verb, or, more correctly, in which the logical copula resulting from the connection of the clause itself remains unexpressed. Accordingly, ' שׂנא ה is a relative clause, and is therefore so accentuated here, as at Proverbs 30:15 and elsewhere: sex ( sunt ) ea quae Deus odit, et septem ( sunt ) abominatio animae ejus . Regarding the statement that the soul of God hates anything, vid., at Isaiah 1:14. תועבות , an error in the writing occasioned by the numeral ( vid., Proverbs 26:25), is properly corrected by the Kerı̂ ; the poet had certainly the singular in view, as Proverbs 3:32; Proverbs 11:1, when he wrote תועבת . The first three characteristics are related to each other as mental, verbal, actual, denoted by the members of the body by means of which these characteristics come to light. The virtues are taken all together as a body (organism), and meekness is its head. Therefore there stands above all, as the sin of sins, the mentis elatae tumor , which expresses itself in elatum ( grande ) supercilium : עינים רמות , the feature of the רם , haughty (cf. Psalms 18:28 with 2 Samuel 22:28), is the opposite of the feature of the שׁח עינים , Job 22:29; עין is in the O.T. almost always ( vid., Song of Solomon 4:9) fem., and adjectives of course form no dual. The second of these characteristics is the lying tongue, and the third the murderous hands. דּם־נקי is innocent blood as distinguished from דּם הנּקי , the blood of the innocent, Deuteronomy 19:13.
(Note: The writing דּם follows the Masoretic rule, vid., Kimchi, Michlol 205b, and Heidenheim under Deuteronomy 19:10, where in printed editions of the text (also in Norzi's) the irregular form דּם נקי is found. Besides, the Metheg is to be given to דּם־ , so that one may not read it dom , as e.g., שׁשׁ־מאות , Genesis 7:11, that one may not read it שׁשׁ־ .)
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 .
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 יגיע , 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.
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 .
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
27 Can one take fire in his bosom
And his clothes not be burned?
28 Or can any one walk over burning coals
And his feet not be burned?
29 So he that goeth to his neighbour's wife,
No one remains unpunished that toucheth her.
We would say: Can any one, without being, etc.; the former is the Semitic “extended (paratactic)
(Note: The παρατακτικὸς χρόνος denotes the imperfect tense, because it is still extended to the future.)
construction.” The first אישׁ has the conjunctive Shalsheleth. חתה signifies to seize and draw forth a brand or coal with the fire-tongs or shovel ( מחתּה , the instrument for this); cf. Arab. khât , according to Lane, “he seized or snatched away a thing;” the form יחתּה is Kal, as יחנה ( vid., Köhler, De Tetragammate, 1867, p. 10). חיק (properly indentation) is here not the lap, but, as Isaiah 40:11, the bosom.
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.
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.
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.
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 .
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.
The Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Proverbs 6". Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany