Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Proverbs 30:15

The leech has two daughters, "Give," "Give." There are three things that will not be satisfied, Four that will not say, "Enough":
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Horse-Leech;   Riddle;   Thompson Chain Reference - Desire;   Evil;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Reptiles;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Horseleech;   Proverb, the Book of;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Pardon;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Hell;   Horse-Leech;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Fable;   Gaza;   Horseleach;   Solomon;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Horseleach;   Leech;   Proverbs, Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Agur;   Horse-Leech;   Jakeh;   Massa;   Medicine;   Proverb;   Proverbs, Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Demon, Demoniacal Possession, Demoniacs;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Horseleech;   Proverbs, Book of;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Horse-leech;   Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types - Four;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Horse-Leech;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Four;   Games;   Horseleach;   Night-Monster;   Number;   Sheol;   Vampire;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Demonology;   Gentile;   Insects;   Numbers and Numerals;   Small and Large Letters;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

The horseleech hath two daughters, crying, Give, give - "This horseleech," says Calmet, "is Covetousness, and her two daughters are Avarice and Ambition. They never say, It is enough; they are never satisfied; they are never contented."

Many explanations have been given of this verse; but as all the versions agree in render ing עלוקה alukah the horseleech or blood-sucker, the general meaning collected has been, "There are persons so excessively covetous and greedy, that they will scarcely let any live but themselves; and when they lay hold of any thing by which they may profit, they never let go their hold till they have extracted the last portion of good from it." Horace has well expressed this disposition, and by the same emblem, applied to a poor poet, who seizes on and extracts all he can from an author of repute, and obliges all to hear him read his wretched verses.

Quem vero arripuit, tenet, occiditque legendo,

Non missura cutem, nisi plena cruoris,

Hirudo. De arte poet., ver. 475.

"But if he seize you, then the torture dread;

He fastens on you till he reads you dead;

And like a leech, voracious of his food,

Quits not his cruel hold till gorged with blood."

Francis.

The word אלוקה alukah, which we here translate horseleech, is read in no other part of the Bible. May it not, like Agur, Jakeh, Ithiel, and Ucal, be a proper name, belonging to some well-known woman of his acquaintance, and well known to the public, who had two daughters notorious for their covetousness and lechery? And at first view the following verse may be thought to confirm this supposition: "There are three things that are never satisfied, yea, four things say not, It is enough." The grave, the barren womb the earth, the fire. What an astonishing simiiarity there is between this and the following institute, taken from the Code of Hindoo Laws, chapter 20, sec. i., p. 203.

"A woman is never satisfied with the copulation of man, no more than a fire is satisfied with burning fuel; or the main ocean is with receiving the rivers; or death, with the dying of men and animals." You can no more satisfy these two daughters of Alukah than you can the grave, etc.

Some of the rabbins have thought that alukah signifies destiny, or the necessity of dying, which they say has two daughters, Eden and Gehenna, paradise and hell. The former has never enough of righteous souls; the latter, of the wicked. Similar to them is the opinion of Bochart, who thinks alukah means destiny, and the two daughters, the grave and hell; into the first of which the body descends after death, and into the second, the soul.

The Septuagint gives it a curious turn, by connecting the fifteenth with the sixteenth verse: Τῃ Βδελλῃ θυγατερες ησαν αγαπησει αγαπωμεναι,π και αἱ τρεις αὑται ουκ ενεπιμπλασαν αυτην, και ἡ τεταρτη ουκ ηρκεσθη ειπειν· Ἱκανον ; "The horseleech had three well-beloved daughters; and these three were not able to satisfy her desire: and the fourth was not satisfied, so as to say, It is enough."

After all, I think my own conjecture the most probable. Alukah is a proper name, and the two daughters were of the description I have mentioned.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:15". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/proverbs-30.html. 1832.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

2

"The horseleach hath two daughters, crying, Give, give.

There are three things that are never satisfied,

Yea, four that say not, Enough:

Sheol, and the barren womb;

The earth that is not satisfied with water;

And the fire that saith not, Enough.

The eye that mocketh at his father,

And despiseth to obey his mother,

The ravens of the valley shall pick it out,

And the young eagles shall eat it."

It is noted that the verses do not follow the patterns of the tetrads; and, now and then, one finds a verse (Proverbs 30:17) that is diverse from the pattern. Fritsch wrote that, "Proverbs 30:17 is probably misplaced."[16] The 'eagles' are generally identified here as vultures; and the implication of the young eagles eating the eyes of the disobedient son is that, "His body was left unburied."[17]

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:15". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/proverbs-30.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

The horse leech hath two daughters, crying, Give, give,.... Or "the blood sucker"F12לעלוקה "sanguisugae", V. L. Pagninus, Tigurine version. Mercerus, Gejerus. ; so it began to be called in the times of PlinyF13Nat. Hist. l. 8. c. 10. , to which the last generation of men may well be compared; blood thirsty creatures, that never have enough, and are not satisfied with the flesh of men, nor with their blood; and such particularly the Papists are: and not only this generation of men, but there are three or four things besides, which resemble the horse leech for its insatiableness; for the horse leech has not two daughters only, but more. Some, by her two daughters, understand the two forks of its tongue, which some naturalists say it has; though later ones, and more diligent inquirers into those things, find it has not; but either with its three teeth, or by the compression of its mouth on all sides, sucks the blood, and will not let go until it is filled with itF14"Non missura cutem nisi plena cruoris hirudo", Horat. de Arte Poet. fine. : others have proposed the two sorts of leeches as its daughters, the sea leech, and that which is found in fenny and marshy places. But it is best, by its daughters, to understand such that resemble it, and are like unto it; as those that are of like nature and quality, and do the same things as others, are called their children; see Matthew 23:31, 1 John 3:10; and so the number of its daughters, which are always craving and asking for more, and are never satisfied, are not only two, but more, as follows;

there are three things; or, "yea, there are three things"

that are never satiated: yea, four things say not, It is enough; not two only, but three, and even four, that are quite insatiable and are as follow. The Syriac version renders the whole thus,

"the horse leech hath three beloved daughters; three, "I say", they are, which are not satisfied; and the fourth says not, It is enough.'

Some, as Abendana observes, interpret it of hell, by a transposition of the letters; because everyone that perverts his ways descends thither. BochartF15Hierozoic. par. 2. l. 5. c. 19. col. 801. interprets it of fate, and so NoldiusF16Concord. Ebr. Par. p. 467. No. 1425. : and Schultens renders the word, the most monstrous of evils; it signifying in the Arabic language, as he observes, anything monstrous and dreadful; such as wood demons, serpents, and dragons, which devour men and beasts. SuidasF17In voce βδελλα. , by the "horse leech", understands sin, whose daughters are fornication, envy, and idolatry, which are never satisfied by evil actions, and the fourth is evil concupiscence.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:15". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/proverbs-30.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

The horseleach hath two h daughters, [crying], Give, give. There are three [things that] are never satisfied, [yea], four [things] say not, [It is] enough:

(h) The leach has two forks in her tongue, which here he calls her two daughters, by which she sucks the blood, and is never satisfied: even so, the covetous extortioners are insatiable.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:15". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/proverbs-30.html. 1599-1645.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

The horseleach hath two daughters, crying, Give, give. There are three things that are never satisfied, yea, four things say not, It is enough:

The horse-leach — An insatiable creature, sucking blood 'till it is ready to burst.

Two daughters — The following things resemble the horse-leach in its insatiableness; nothing being more ordinary than to call those persons or things the sons or daughters of those whose examples they imitate.

Three — Though he begins with two, yet he proceeds from thence to three, and four, all which are said to be the daughters of the horse-leach.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:15". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/proverbs-30.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Proverbs 30:15 The horseleach hath two daughters, [crying], Give, give. There are three [things that] are never satisfied, [yea], four [things] say not, [It is] enough:

Ver. 15. The horseleech (a) hath two daughters.] That is, Two forks in her tongue, whereby she first pricketh the flesh, and then sucketh the blood. Hereunto Solomon seemeth to resemble those cruel cormorants spoken of in the former verse. By the horseleech some understand the devil, that great red dragon, red with the blood of souls, which he hath sucked and swallowed, [1 Peter 5:8] seeking whom he may ( καταπιη) let down his wide gullet, while he glut gluts their blood, as the young eaglets are said to do, [Job 39:30] by a word made from the sound, (b) By the horseleech’s two daughters they understand covetousness and luxury, whom the devil hath long since espoused to the Romish clergy.

“Cuius avaritiae totus non sufficit orbis,

Cuius luxuriae meretrix non sufficit omnis.”

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:15". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/proverbs-30.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Proverbs 30:15. The horse-leach hath two daughters This passage seems in my judgment, says Bishop Patrick, to be an answer to some such question as this (which the scholars had propounded to Agur, after the manner of enigmatical discourses), What is most unsatiable? which he chooses to give an account of in this place, the better to represent the nature of those wicked men of whom he had spoken before; especially the two last, the proud and the tyrannical, or extortioner; whose desires are a gulph which can never be filled. At first he seems to have thought but of two things; namely the grave, and the barren womb, which might properly be called the daughters of the horse-leach: but he presently adds another; nay, and a fourth came into his mind, as no less insatiable: this he expresses after the mariner of the Hebrews, who, intending to mention four things, or more, separate them at first, and begin with a lesser number, and then proceed to all that they designed. We have an example hereof in the 18th and 21st verses; in chap. Proverbs 6:10.; and in Amos 5:9. The LXX, in the Roman edition, read: The horse-leach hath three beloved daughters, and these three are never satisfied; and there is a fourth, which saith not, it sufficeth: and the unlearned reader will remark, that in our translation a number of words are thrown in, which being taken away, would very much assimilate ours to the translation of the LXX. See Scheuchzer on the place.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:15". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/proverbs-30.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

The horseleech, an insatiable creature, sucking blood till it be ready to burst,

hath two daughters; which are either,

1. The two forks into which her tongue is divided, and wherewith she sucks: but those who have more accurately observed and described the frame of that creature tell us that they have no tongue, and that they suck either by three little teeth, or several parts of the mouth gathered and compressed together. Or rather,

2. The following things, which resemble the horse leech in its insatiableness; nothing being more ordinary than to call those persons or things the sons or daughters of those whose examples they imitate. And whereas it is objected, that they are not only two, but three, yea, four, as is said in the next clause, the answer is easy, that though he begin with two, yet he proceeds from thence to three, and four, all which are said to be the daughters of the horseleech, if the words be rendered commodiously, and as they are in the Hebrew, as we shall presently see.

Crying, Give, give; never filled, and always craving, and ready to receive more and more.

There are three things; or, yea, (which may be understood in this, as it is in our translation of the next clause,) they (to wit, the daughters of the horseleech) are three; that are never satisfied; which is added partly to explain the former clause,

Give, give, and to show the cause of that excessive desire of more, because they were not contented with what they had; and partly to give the reason why he calls them the daughters of the horseleech. Yea, four things say not; or, yea, they (the daughters forementioned) are four, which say not.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Proverbs 30:15". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/proverbs-30.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

15.The horseleech , (halukah.) This word occurs nowhere else in the Bible, and the critics are by no means agreed as to its meaning. Dr. A. Clarke thinks it may have been the proper name of some well-known woman of the time. Stuart thinks it means the fabled vampire, and so translates. All the ancient versions however, render it leech, or bloodsucker. But the ancients and some moderns, according to their principles of mystical interpretation, had various notions of what it symbolized. Some of the Rabbies thought it meant “destiny,” and the two daughters, paradise and sheol. The former never has enough of the righteous, the latter of the wicked. Bochart makes the two daughters, “the grave and hell.” Calmet says, ‘halukah is covetousness, and the two daughters, avarice and ambition. All this is fanciful. Alukah, the leech, is the emblem of insatiableness, and the two daughters are probably its two suckers, whose continual cry is, “Give, give.” (See Webster’s Dictionary for a description of the leech and its two suckers.) The horseleech is a less powerful leech, commonly attacking the membranes of the month and nostrils of animals that drink at the pools where it exists. It is probable, although no comparison is expressed between the leech and the following things named, that similitude is implied. So the Septuagint understood it, or made it: The bloodsucker has three daughters well beloved, and these three were not able to fill her, and the fourth was not content to say, Enough.

Three’ four — It was common among the Hebrews to specify a number, and then to add another, somewhat as we say three or four. See on Proverbs 6:16.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:15". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/proverbs-30.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Proverbs 30:15. The horseleech — An insatiable creature, sucking blood till it be ready to burst; hath two daughters — The following things, which resemble the horseleech in their insatiableness, nothing being more common than to call those persons or things the sons or daughters of those whose example they imitate. And whereas it is objected that they are not only two, but three, yea, four, as is said in the next clause, the answer is easy, that though he begin with two, yet he proceeds from thence to three and four, all which are said to be the daughters of the horseleech, if the words be rendered properly, as they are in the Hebrew, as we shall presently see. Crying, Give, give — Never filled, but always craving, and ready to receive more and more. There are three — It should rather have been rendered, Yea, three, or they (namely, the daughters of the horse- leech) are three; that are never satisfied — This is added to explain the former clause, Give, give, and to show the cause of that excessive desire of more, namely, they are not contented with what they have. Four things — Or, yea, they are four; which say not, It is enough — Hebrew, הון, it is wealth, it is abundance. Those are never rich that are always coveting.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:15". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/proverbs-30.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

The horse-leech: concupiscence, which hath two daughters that are never satisfied, viz., lust and avarice. (Challoner)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:15". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/proverbs-30.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

horseleach. Occurs only here. It is like the "flesh" in man. In the natural and spiritual spheres "the dose has to be increased".

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:15". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/proverbs-30.html. 1909-1922.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(15) The horseleach hath two daughters, crying, Give, give.—The word “crying” is not in the Hebrew. The leech is here chosen as the emblem of insatiable greed; if it could speak, its “daughters,” i.e., the words it would utter, would be “Give, give.” So it forms an introduction to the quartette of “insatiable things” which follow.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:15". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/proverbs-30.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

The horseleach hath two daughters, crying, Give, give. There are three things that are never satisfied, yea, four things say not, It is enough:
The horseleach
Isaiah 57:3; Ezekiel 16:44-46; Matthew 23:32; John 8:39,44
Give
Isaiah 56:11,12; Hosea 4:18; Micah 7:3; Romans 16:18; 2 Peter 2:3,13-15; Jude 1:11,12
There
21,24,29; 6:16; Amos 1:3,6,9,11,13; 2:1,4
It is enough
Heb. Wealth.
Reciprocal: Genesis 33:9 - have enough;  Judges 18:20 - heart;  Proverbs 27:20 - Hell;  Ecclesiastes 1:8 - the eye;  Ecclesiastes 5:10 - He that;  Ecclesiastes 6:9 - wandering of the desire;  Habakkuk 2:5 - as hell

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:15". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/proverbs-30.html.