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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Proverbs 25

 

 

Introduction

Section IV., Proverbs 25-29.—The title of this section adds to the tradition of a Solomonic collection of proverbs the further tradition of literary activity in the time of Hezekiah. The same general considerations hold good of this section as of Proverbs 10-24. (See Introduction.) It also shows signs of compilation, and falls into two divisions: (a) Proverbs 25:2 to Proverbs 27:22, and (b) Proverbs 28 f., separated by a discourse in Proverbs 27:23-27.


Verses 1-28

First Division.—In general character this division shows a resemblance to the Sayings of the Wise, containing a number of quatrains and synthetic couplets, and but few antithetic couplets.

Proverbs 25:2-7 b. A series of three quatrains relating to kings.

Proverbs 25:4 b. Very obscure. Refining silver does not produce a vessel, and the parallelism with Proverbs 25:5 b is unsatisfactory. LXX "it will be wholly purified" probably represents the original text.

Proverbs 25:6 f. cf. Luke 14:8-11.

Proverbs 25:7 c destroys the quatrain form and is obviously weak where it stands. The majority of the VSS attach it to Proverbs 25:8 a.

Proverbs 25:7 c - Proverbs 25:10. A couple of quatrains on hasty speech. Proverbs 25:7 c and Proverbs 25:8 a form the first half of a quatrain. Render "What thine eyes have seen, bring not forth hastily to the multitude." Proverbs 25:8 b cannot, as RV and RVm show, be rendered without supplying more than the Heb. allows. Read "For what will thou do in the end thereof?"

Proverbs 25:11 f. Apparently a quatrain on wise speech, but both text and translation are extremely doubtful (see Toy and Lagarde, and BDB under the separate words). The most probable restoration is "Like graven work of gold and carved work of silver is a word fitly spoken. Like an earring of gold and an ornament of silver is a wise reproof to an ear that hears."—fitly (lit. "on its wheels") is an inference from Proverbs 15:23.

Proverbs 25:13-20. Synthetic couplets on various subjects.

Proverbs 25:13. The reference is not to a fall of snow in harvest, which would be disastrous rather than refreshing (cf. 1 Samuel 12:17), but to the cold draught of water from a snowfed mountain stream.

Proverbs 25:13 c: probably an explanatory gloss.

Proverbs 25:14. his gifts falsely: lit. "a gift of falsehood" (mg.)—i.e. a gift which is not given. A man who boasts of his intention to give but never gives is like clouds without rain, the bitterest disappointment of the agriculturist.

Proverbs 25:19. Confidence in an unfaithful man: in Heb. "the hope (i.e. ground or object of hope) of a treacherous man." RV gives the wrong turn to the verse: it is the ground of hope upon which the false man relies in trouble that fails him. "False" or "treacherous" may have a religious significance here, the man who is false to Yahweh.

Proverbs 25:20. Very corrupt. Proverbs 25:20 a yields no satisfactory sense, and is also clearly a doublet of Proverbs 25:19 b. Originally Proverbs 25:20 was probably a couplet of which Proverbs 25:20 b was the first clause. Proverbs 25:20 b is also obscure; "nitre," or more correctly "natron," is common soda (cf. Jeremiah 2:22). Vinegar would destroy its value for washing purposes. But the parallelism of this idea with Proverbs 25:20 c is difficult to detect. The LXX has either a double form of this couplet, or represents an original Heb. quatrain on the subject. It reads "vinegar is bad for a sore," which gives a nearer approach to parallelism.

Proverbs 25:21 f. A quatrain on kindness to enemies (cf. Romans 12:20).

Proverbs 25:23-28. Synthetic couplets on various subjects.

Proverbs 25:24. Repetition of Proverbs 21:9.

Proverbs 25:26. The couplet may refer to the moral ruin of a righteous man, or to his loss of prosperity through the plots of the wicked. The Heb. favours the latter interpretation.

Proverbs 25:27. Lit. "To eat much honey is not good, the searchings out of their glory is glory." This makes no sense. Probably Proverbs 25:27 a and Proverbs 25:27 b belong to different aphorisms, or Proverbs 25:27 b may be a corrupt gloss on Proverbs 25:2 b. The only plausible emendation of Proverbs 25:27 b is "the investigation of difficult things is glory." This gives good sense, but not a good parallelism.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Proverbs 25:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/proverbs-25.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, November 14th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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