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20, 21.) This part, like the second, consists of detached, unconnected sentences, and extends from chapter xxv. to xxix. Some of the proverbs which Solomon had introduced into the former part of the book, are here repeated.
"Part V. comprises chapters xxx. and xxxi. In the former are included the wise observations and instructions delivered by Agur, the son of Jakeh, to his pupils, Ithiel and Ucal. The 31st chapter contains the precepts which were given to Lemuel by his mother, who is supposed by some to have been a Jewish woman, married to some neighbouring prince, and who appears to have been most ardently desirous to guard him against vice, to establish him in the principles of justice, and to unite him to a wife of the best qualities. Of Agur we know nothing; nor have any of the commentators offered so much as a plausible conjecture respecting him.
"The Proverbs of Solomon afford a noble specimen of the didactic poetry of the Hebrews; they abound with antithetic parallels; for this form is peculiarly adapted to adages, aphorisms, and detached sentences. Much, indeed, of the elegance, acuteness and force, which are discernible in Solomon's wise sayings, is derived from the antithetic form, the opposition of diction and sentiment. Hence a careful attention to the parallelism of members will contribute to remove that obscurity in which some of the proverbs appear to be involved."---Horne's Introd. 4th Ed. vol. iv. p. 116.
To this very judicious and perspicuous account and brief analysis of the book before 5, we shall only subjoin a few brief hiuts, from the excellent "Preliminary Dissertation" of the Rev. Geo. Holden, M. A. prefixed to his New Translation of that book. Mr. H. remarks that the Asiatics have, in all ages, concentrated their moral and political wisdom in certain aphorisms, which have been generally admired by other nations. that the early Greeks adopted a similar metood, as witness the Sayings of the Seven Wise Men of Greece, the Golden Verses of Pythagoras, &c.; and they were copied by the Romans and other western nations: unless we rather conclude that this was a dictate of nature equally obvious to all.
On the Proverbs of Solomon, we have offered a remark or two in our Notes subjoined to the first chapter, and would only add, that as it does not appear that Solomon was the collector of his own Proverbs, so neither is it certain that they were all written or uttered about the same period. Most of the detached aphorisms were probably delivered by him at the time when the fame of his wisdom drew together" all the kings of the earth to witness it." (2 Chron. ix. 23.) Some, however, seem to be so much the result of his experience, that we are inclined to date them not long prior to the composition of his Ecclesiastes. On the other hand, as he "spake 3,000 proverbs," of which we have not much above 800, we think it highly probable that many of the aphorisms in the books of Ecclesiasticus and Wisdom were really his, though preserved only in a Greek translation in the Apocrypha.
In Mr. Holden's remarks on the difficulties and obscurities of the Book of Proverbs, we thank him for his manly and judicious protest, (page xeix.) against correcting and expounding Hebrew words by means of the Arabic; except only in cases where all other means of information fail, either from the Hebrew itself, or the most ancient versions. It is but justice to subjoin, that we have made considerable use of Mr. Holden's Translation and Notes, (2d Edit. Liverpool, 1819,) which we have compared with that of Dr. Bernard Hodgson, (Oxford 1788,) with the more recent version of Dr. Boothroyd, the Paraphrase of Bishop Patrick, the Lectures of Bishop Lowth, and other authors of celebrity.
Title of the book.]
5 A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels :
6 To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings.
7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
8 My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother:
9 For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck.
10 My son, if sinners entice thee,' consent thou not.
11 If they say, Come with us, let us lay wait for blood, let us lurk privily for the innocent without cause:
12 Let us swallow them up alive as the grave; and whole, as those that go down into the pit:
13 We shall find all precious sub
[The address of Wisdom,
stance, we shall fill our houses with spoil:
14 Cast in thy lot among us; let us all have one purse.
15 My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path:
16 For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood.
17 Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird.
18 And they lay wait for their own blood; they lurk privily for their own lives.
19 So are the ways of every one that is greedy of gain; which taketh away the life of the owners thereof.
20 Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets:
21 She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, saying,
22 How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge?
23 Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit un to you, I will make known my words unto
24 Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded;
25 But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof:
CHAP. I. Ver. 1. The proverbs · -Heb. Mashalim, from Mashal;" which (says Bp. Lonth) I take to be the word properly expressive of the poe. tical style. It includes three forms, or modes of speech; the sententious, the figurative, and the sublime." Lect. iv. The first part of the book before us, (including the nine first chapters) says this great critic," is varied, elegant, sublime, and truly poetical." Lect. xxiv.
Ver. 2. To know wisdom-Heb. "For knowing, .... for perceiving," &c. Drs. Durell and B. Hodgson; Dr. Boothroyd and Mr. Holden, to the same effect. Though there he some difliculty in the construction, there is no doubt but the meaning is, that Solomon's proverbs were written for the purpose of conveying religious, moral, and political knowledge.
Ver. 4. To give subtilty-Holden, “ Prudence;" Hodgson and Boothroyd, "Discerninent."-Discretion-Marg. "Advisement."
Ver. 6. And its interpretation-Marg. "An eloquent speech." As words are accumulated in the preceding verses, to express the different branches
of wisdom and knowledge, so it appears to us, that the different words here used are intended to embrace the various kinds of composition which come within the general term Mashalim, or proverbs. Compare on ver. 1.
Ver. 12. Alive.... as the grave, &c.-Is here not an allusion to an earthquake? See Ps. Iv. 15. and Note. Or is it a proverbial speech; as we often say of a great army meeting a very small one, they are "enough to eat them up ?"
Ver. 17. In the sight-Heb. "In the eyes of every thing that hath a wing."
Ver. 18. And they lay wait, &c.-Rather, “But;” (Heb. vau) so the best translators.
Ver. 19. So are the ways.-This verse is confessedly very obscure; the sense seems to be, that those who plot against the lives of others, endanger and often lose their own; either in the attempt or afterwards, by the vengeance of their relatives, or the law. There are also many other ways in which those who seek unlawful gain bring on themselves destruction, as by over exertion, or the encountering unneces sary peril in the attempt.
26 I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh;
27 When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you.
28 Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: 29 For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD: 30 They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof.
31 Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices.
32 For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the pros perity of fools shall destroy them.
33 But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil. (A)
MY son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my command
ments with thee;
2 So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding;
3 Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding;
4 If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid trea
5 Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.
6 For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.
7 He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly.
(A) Title of the book-The Address of Wisdom.-A proverb with us, is universally understood to be "a short sententious maxim," or observation; but the original Hebrew term includes the idea of poetry; and the proverbs of the first ages were certainly in this form, and also frequently enigmatical, or dark sayings." The object of a proverb is to convey instruction in a manner best calculated to impress the memory and the heart.
After this short introduction, Wisdom addresses the reader as her son, and begins with laying down "the fear of God" the foundation of all moral virtue, and all true wisdom. Obedience to parents is next insisted upon, and the wisdom of the aucients was, in no point probably, so decided, as in maintaining their parental character and authority.
The next point of advice is, to avoid evil company; in all ages and countries the most fatal snare of young men, who are the persons here addressed, as females were seldom liberated from the apartment of the mother till they married. The advice here given, however, presents us with a sad picture of the state of society in those early
times, since it was found necessary to caution young men, seemingly not of the lowest class, against uniting with a banditti who lived by plunder and by violence. Ver. 11 to 14 contain the enticements of these profligates, and the following verses, Wisdom's advice, not to yield to their persuasion.
In ver. 20, Wisdom assumes a higher tone, takes her stand in public ways, in the streets, in the markets, and at the gates of the city, that she may address all who pass through them; charges and commands them to turn back from the paths of sin and folly, and warns them of the consequences of persisting in their vicious.
Such appears to be the primary sense of the address; but as the Son of God has dignified the character of Wisdom by personifying it, the language here used wilk generally apply itself to him, and to those who speak in his name; and the awful threatenings added, should guard us all, not only against vice and violence, but against the infidelity, whether open or secret, of all who do not choose the fear of the Lord as the foundation of their knowledge, and their spring of action.
8 He keepeth the paths of judgment, and preserveth the way of his saints.
9 Then shalt thou understand righteousness, and judgment, and equity; yea, every good path.
10 When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul;
11 Discretion shall preserve thee; understanding shall keep thee:
12 To deliver thee from the way of the evil man, from the man that speaketh froward things;
13 Who leave the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness; 14 Who rejoice to do evil, and delight in the frowardness of the wicked; 15 Whose ways are crooked, and they froward in their paths:
16 To deliver thee from the strange woman, even from the stranger which flattereth with her words;
17 Which forsaketh the guide of her youth, and forgetteth the covenant of her God.
18 For her house inclineth unto death, and her paths unto the dead.
19 None that go unto her return again, neither take they hold of the paths of life.
[to various virtues.
20 That thou mayest walk in the way of good men, and keep the paths of the righteous.
21 For the upright shall dwell in the land, and the perfect shall remain
22 But the wicked shall be cut off from the earth, and the transgressors shall be rooted out of it. (B)
MY son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments:
2 For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.
3 Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart:
4 So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man.
5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
7 Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.
(B) The address of Wisdom continued, with a special caution against lewd women. The intrinsic value and importance of sound wisdom,-its origin from above,-its salutary tendencies,-and the dreadful consequences of neglecting it ;-are all urged upon the young Israelite, (and no less upon the young Christian,) in order to guard him from the consequences of sin and folly.
This wisdom is bestowed by God upon man, for the express purpose of guiding him in the way of truth; for preserving him from the paths of vice and error; for his protection from the snares of strange women, and his deliverance from the ways of death and ruin. "The study of Wisdom and the practice of piety, (says Dr. Boothroyd,) are the best securities against evil company, and all its snares.
NOTES-Chap. II. Con.
Ver. 8. He keepeth the paths of judgment.- Dr. Hodgson connects this with the preceding verse, thus: "To protect them in the paths of integrity,' &c. So Boothroyd.
Ver. 16 From the strange woman - From the terin "strange (or foreign) woman" being used by the Hebrews, to designate a harlot, Mr. Holden infers, that the greater number of these unhappy women originally were foreigners. If so, this will more fully account for the propensity of Israel to idolatry, and for the earnest intreaties of Solomon to caution them against them, though unhappily he himself neglected the cautions that he gave. From the following verse it will however appear, that Israelitish women were here included,
Ver. 17. The guide of her youth.—This may mean either her mother or her husband, as she may be supposed either single or married.
Ver. 18. Her paths unto the dead-that is, the wicked dead, "the Rephaim." See Job xxvị 5, and Note.
Ver. 22. Shall be rooted out - Marg. "Plucked up." as decayed trees; not only "cut off," but " uprooted" from the earth.
CHAP. III. Ver. 2. Long life-Heb. “Years of
Ver. 4. Good understanding-Marg. "Success." See Luke ii. 32.
8 It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.
9 Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase:
10 So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.
11 My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction:
12 For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.
13 Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding.
14 For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold.
15 She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her. 16 Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour.
17 Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.
18 She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her.
19 The LORD by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens.
20 By his knowledge the depths are broken up, and the clouds drop down the dew.
[the chief good.
21 My son, let not them depart from thine eyes: keep sound wisdom and discretion:
22 So shall they be life unto thy soul, and grace to thy neck.
23 Then shalt thou walk in thy way safely, and thy foot shall not stumble.
24 When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet,
25 Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh.
26 For the LORD shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken.
27 Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.
28 Say not unto thy neighbour, Go, and come again, and to morrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee.
29 Devise not evil against thy neighbour, seeing he dwelleth securely by thee.
30 Strive not with a man without cause, if he have done thee no harm.
31 Envy thou not the oppressor, and choose none of his ways.
32 For the froward is abomination to the LORD: but his secret is with the righteous.
33 The curse of the LORD is in the house of the wicked: but he blesseth the habitation of the just.
34 Surely he scorneth the scorners; but he giveth grace unto the lowly.
Ver. 8. Health (Marg. " medicine") to thy navel. This comparison (says M. Chardin) is drawn from the plaisters, &c. made use of in the East, upon the belly and stomach, in most maladies."--Harmer, Tol. i. p. 488.
Ibid. And marrow — Heb. "Moistening;" i. e,' It shall lubricate thy joints."
Ver. 12. Eren as a father, &c.-The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, chap. xii. 6, quotes this verse very differently; " And scourgeth every son whom he receiveth." This is the version of the LXX, and Mr. Holden thinks the Hebrew text will bear it, with a slight alteration in the Masoretic points, which few Christians consider of divine authority. For Keab, as a father," he reads Kieeb,
to correct, chasten;" or, as the apostle renders it, "scourge, for it imp'ies to give pain, or soreness. See Parkhurst.) For "the son (in whom) he delighteth," the LXX and the apostle read, " every son whom he receiveth;" namely, into favour, which comes to the same meaning.
Ver. 13. The man that getteth-Heb. "That draweth out understanding," implying, that there is labour required in the extraction.
Ver. 15. Rubies-The Heb. Peninim is variously interpreted. It is not among the precious stones in Aaron's breastplate, Exod. xxxix. 10-13. nor does there seem any good authority for rubies." Gesenius inclines to "coral;" Bochart contends for "pearls" Parkhurst for the native" magnet;" Mr. Holden, satisfied with neither, reads " gems.
Ver 19. The Lord by wisdom, &c.-See chap. viii. 22, &c. Established-Marg. "Prepared."
Ver. 22. A grace That is, an ornament; as a necklace.
Ver. 27. Withhold not, &c. Marg. "From the owners thereof;" meaning, a just debt. Bp. Patrick.
Ver. 29. Devise (Marg." practice ") not evil, &c. seeing. We should rather here render the Vau“ for.” (as frequently) as an additional reason for not injuring him; "for" he dwelleth securely, or " in confidence," by thee.
Ver. 30. If he have done - Rather, "Since he have done." See Ezek. xxxv. 6. Ver. 31. The oppressor-Heb. "The man of violence."
Ver. 32. His secret.-See Ps. xxv. 14, and Note. Ver. 34. Surely he scorneth the scorners-Both