To get wisdom than gold (comp, Pro_3:14; Pro_8:10, Pro_8:11, Pro_8:19); and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver; Revised Version better, yea, to get understanding is rather to be chosen than [to get] silver. If the clauses are not simply parallel, and the comparative value of silver and gold is So be considered, we may, with Wordsworth, see here an intimation of the superiority of wisdom (chochmah) over intelligence (binah), the former being the guide of life and including the practice of religion, the latter denoting discernment, the faculty of distinguishing between one thing and another (see note on Pro_28:4, and the quotation from ‘Pirke Aboth’ on Pro_15:33). The LXX; for kenoh reading kinnot, have given a version of which the Fathers have largely availed themselves: “The nests of wisdom are preferable to gold, and the nests of knowledge are preferable above silver.” Some of the old commentators take these “nests” to be the problems and apothegms which enshrine wisdom; others consider them to mean the children or scholars who are taught by the wise man.
A good name – שם shem, a name, put for reputation, credit, fame. Used nearly in the same way that we use it: “He has got a name;” “his name stands high;” for “He is a man of credit and reputation.” טבא toba, καλον, hamood, and bonum, are added by the Chaldee, Septuagint, Arabiac, and Vulgate, all signifying good or excellent.
Is rather to be chosen than great riches – Because character will support a man in many circumstances; and there are many rich men that have no name: but the word of the man of character will go farther than all their riches.
A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches. It will be observed that “good” in the Authorized Version is in italics, showing that the epithet is not expressed in the Hebrew, which is simply שֵׁם (shem), “name.” But this word carried with it the notion of good repute, as in Ecc_7:1; for being well known implied honour and reputation, while being nameless (Job_30:8) signified not only obscurity, but ignominy and discredit. Hence the versions have ὄνομα καλόν, nomen bonum, and Ecclesiasticus 41:12, “Have regard to thy name (περὶ ὀνόματος), for that shall continue with thee above a thousand great treasures of gold. A good life,” the moralist continues, “hath but few days; but a good name endureth forever” (contrast Pro_10:7). And loving favour rather than silver and gold; or, more accurately, and before gold and silver grace is good; i.e. grace is far better than gold. Grace (chen) is the manner and demeanour which win love, as well as the favour and affection gained thereby; taken as parallel to “name,” in the former hemistich, it means here “favour,” the regard conceived by others for a worthy object. Publ. Syr; “Bona opinio hominum tutier pecunia est.” The French have a proverb, “Bonne renommee vaut mieux que ceinture doree.” The latter hemistich gives the reason for the assertion in the former—a good name is so valuable because it wins affection and friendship, which are far preferable to material riches,
The rich and poor meet together – עשיר ashir the opulent, whether in money, land, or property; רש rash, the man that is destitute of these, and lives by his labor, whether a handicraftsman, or one that tills the ground. In the order of God, the rich and the poor live together, and are mutually helpful to each other. Without the poor, the rich could not be supplied with the articles which they consume; for the poor include all the laboring classes of society: and without the rich, the poor could get no vent for the produce of their laborer, nor, in many cases, labor itself. The poor have more time to labor than the mere necessaries of life require; their extra time is employed in providing a multitude of things which are called the superfluities of life, and which the rich especially consume. All the poor man’s time is thus employed; and he is paid for his extra labor by the rich. The rich should not despise the poor, without whom he can neither have his comforts, nor maintain his state. The poor should not envy the rich, without whom he could neither get employment, nor the necessaries of life.
The Lord is the Maker of them all – Both the states are in the order of God’s providence and both are equally important in his sight. Merely considered as men, God loves the simple artificer or laborer as much as he does the king; though the office of the latter, because of its entering into the plan of his government of the world, is of infinitely greatly consequence than the trade of the poor artificer. Neither should despise the other; neither should envy the other. Both are useful; both important; both absolutely necessary to each other’s welfare and support; and both are accountable to God for the manner in which they acquit themselves in those duties of life which God has respectively assigned them. The abject poor – those who are destitute of health and the means of life – God in effect lays at the rich man’s door, that by his superfluities they may be supported. How wise is that ordinance which has made the rich and the poor! Pity it were not better understood!
Labour not to be rich – Let not this be thy object. Labour to provide things honest in the sight of God and all men; and if thou get wealth, do not forget the poor, else God’s curse will be a canker even in thy gold.
Cease from thine own wisdom – בינתך binathecha, thy own understanding or prudence. The world says, “Get rich if thou canst, and how thou canst.” Rem, si possis, recte; si non, quocunque modo rem; “Get a fortune honestly if thou canst; but if not, get one at all events.” This is the devil’s counsel, and well it is followed; but Solomon says, and God says, “Cease from thine own counsel.” Thou hast an immortal soul, and shalt shortly appear before God. Lay up treasure for heaven, and be rich towards God.
Wilt thou sat thine eyes upon that which is not? more literally, wilt thou let thine eyes fly upon it, and it is gone? Why cast longing looks towards this wealth, and so prepare for yourself loss and disappointment? The pursuit is vain, and the result is never secure; what you gained by long toil and prudent care may be lost in an hour. Do you wish to incur this danger? Wordsworth quotes Persius, ‘Sat.,’ 3.61—
“An passim sequeris corvos testaque lutoque?”
For riches certainly make themselves wings. The subject, unexpressed, is riches, and the Hebrew phrase implies absolute certainty: Making they will make for themselves. They fly away as an eagle toward heaven; or, like on eagle that flieth toward heaven, where not even sight can follow. Publ. Syr; 255, “Longinquum est omne quod cupiditas flagitat.” The Telugu compares worldly prosperity to writing upon water. Says the Greek moralist—
Βέβαιον οὐδέν ἐν βίῳ δοκεῖ πέλειν
“There’s naught in life that one can deem secure.”
Septuagint, “If thou fix thine eye upon him (the rich patron), he will nowhere be seen, for wings like an eagle’s are ready prepared for him, and he will return to the house of his master (τοῦ προεστηκότος), and leave you to shift for yourself.”
A faithful man shall abound with blessings. “Faithful,” as in Pro_20:6, one on whom one can depend, honest and upright. Septuagint, ἀξιόπιστος. The blessings signified are such as come from God and man. Men will utter his name with praise and benediction (comp. Job_29:8, etc.), and God will show his approval by sending material prosperity. He that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent (comp. Pro_20:22, and note there; Pro_13:11; Pro_20:21; Pro_21:5). One who is only anxious to become quickly rich, and is unscrupulous as to means, cannot be “a faithful man,” and therefore cannot be blessed. Instead of “innocent,” many expositors render “unpunished” (as Pro_17:5), which better contrasts with the blessings mentioned in the first hemistich, though the two ideas are coordinate.
Pro_30:7-8.Two things have I required of thee — I do most earnestly and especially desire: deny me them not — Hebrew, אל תמנע ממני, withhold them not from me; before I die — That is, while I live, as being things of great and continual necessity, for thy honour and service, and my own good. Remove far from me — From my heart, and from the course of my life: vanity — That Isaiah , 1 st, All false and vain opinions, namely, concerning God and things divine; all unbelief, idolatry, and superstition: and, 2d, Vanity of heart and life; a vain conversation, or the love of the vain things of this world; and lies — All falsehood and deceit in my words and actions, and in my conduct toward God or men. This is the first of Agur’s petitions. Give me neither poverty nor riches — This is his second request, which may seem to have some reference to the former, poverty being commonly an occasion of, or temptation to, the sin of lying; and riches being the great occasions of, and enticements to, vanity. Thus, as his first petition was against the sins themselves, so this latter is against the occasions of them. Feed me with food convenient for me — Moderate and suitable, both to my natural necessities and to that condition of life in which thou hast placed me. And this mediocrity of condition is so amiable, that it has often been desired by wise heathen as more eligible than a state of the greatest plenty and glory.
Remove far from me vanity and lies –
1. שוא shav, all false shows, all false appearances of happiness, every vain expectation. Let me not set my heart on any thing that is not solid, true, durable, and eternal.
2. Lies, דבר כזב debar cazab, all words of deception, empty pretensions, false promises, uncertain dependences, and words that Fail; promises which, when they become due, are like bad bills; they are dishonored because they are found to be forged, or the drawer insolvent.
From the import of the original, I am satisfied that Agur prays against idolatry, false religion, and false worship of every kind. שוא shau is used for an idol, a false god. Jer_18:15 : “My people have forsaken me; they have burnt incense to Vanity;” לשוא lashshav, “to an Idol.” Psa_31:6 : “I have hated them that regard lying Vanities;” הבלי שוא habley shave, “vain Idols.” See also Hos_12:11; Jon_2:8. And כזב cazab, a thing that fails or deceives, may well apply to the vain pretensions, false promises, and deceptive religious rites of idolatry. So Jer_15:18 : “Wilt thou be unto me as a liar,” כמו אכזב kemo achzob, like the false, failing promises of the false gods; “and as waters that fail;” לא נאמנו lo neemanu, that are not faithful; not like the true God, whose promises never fail. According to this view of the subject, Agur prays,
1. That he may be preserved from idolatry.
2. That he may put no confidence in any words but those pure words of God that never fail them that trust in him.
Give me neither poverty nor riches – Here are three requests:
1. Give me not poverty. The reason is added: Lest, being poor, I shall get into a covetous spirit, and, impelled by want, distrust my Maker, and take my neighbour’s property; and, in order to excuse, hide, or vindicate my conduct, I take the name of my God in vain; תפשתי taphasti, “I catch at the name of God.” Or, by swearing falsely, endeavor to make myself pass for innocent. Forswere the name of my God – Old MS. Bible. Coverdale, “deny or apostatize from him.”
2. Give me not riches. For which petition he gives a reason also: Lest I be full, and addict myself to luxurious living, pamper the flesh and starve the soul, and so deny thee, the Fountain of goodness; and, if called on to resort to first principles, I say, Who is Jehovah! Why should I acknowledge, why should I serve him? And thus cast aside all religion, and all moral obligation.
3. The third request is, Feed me with food convenient for me, הטריפני לחם חקי hatripheni leechem chukki; the meaning of which is, “give me as prey my statute allowance of bread,” i.e., my daily bread, a sufficient portion for each day. There is an allusion made to hunting: “Direct so by thy good providence, that I may each day find sufficient portion to subsist on, as a hunter in the forest prays that he may have good speed.” It is the province of a preacher to show the importance and utility of such a prayer, and dilate the circumstances, and expand the reasons, after the commentator has shown the literal sense.
The reason for the latter prayer follows, unless, as some consider, the prayer is one, as if Agur asked, “Take from me riches which lead to vanity, and poverty which leads to lying and deceit.” In this case the ground of the request would embrace both parts of the petition. Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord (Jehovah)? Great wealth and temporal prosperity tempt to forgetfulness of God, to self-confidence and practical unbelief in Divine providence. Like Pharaoh, the haughty rich man asks with scorn, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice?” (Exo_5:2; comp. Deu_8:12, etc.; Job_21:14, etc.; Psa_14:1). Septuagint, “Lest being filled I become false, and say, Who seeth me?” Or lest I be poor, and steal; lest my necessities lead to dishonesty. And take the name of my God in vain. The verb taphas means “to grasp at, seize violently, handle roughly,” and the sin intended may be either false swearing in denial of his theft and to escape punishment, or the arraignment of God’s providence which has allowed him to fall into such distress. Thus Isa_8:21, “They shall pass through it, hardly bestead and hungry; and it shall come to pass that, when they shall be hungry, they shall fret themselves, and curse their king and their God.” In view of the proverbs that follow, the clause seems to be best taken of the blasphemy attending on impatience and want of resignation to God’s will (comp. Pro_19:3).
Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished; literally, wealth by a breath; i.e. wealth obtained without labour and exertion, or by illegitimate and dishonest means, is soon dissipated, is not blessed by God, and has no stability. Vulgate, “riches acquired hastily;” Septuagint, “substance gotten hastily with iniquity.” This makes the antithesis more marked, the contrast being between wealth gotten hastily and that acquired by diligent labour. Cito nata, cito pereunt, “Quickly won, quickly gone” (see on Pro_20:21; Pro_21:5). Says the Greek maxim—
Μὴ σπεῦδε πλουτεῖν μὴ ταχὺς πένης γένῃ
“Haste not for wealth, lest thou be quickly poor.”
He that gathereth by labour; literally, with the hand, handful after handful. Vulgate, paulatim, “little by little,” by patient industry. Labor improbus omnia vincit. Septuagint, “He that gathereth for himself with piety shall be increased.” Then is added, “A good man is merciful and lendeth,” from Psa_37:26. The Septuagint here uses the term εὐσέβεια, which is received in St. Paul’s pastoral Epistles and St. Peter’s, taking the place of the earlier phrase, φόβος Κυρίου,
He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house (Pro_11:29). The special reference is doubtless to venal judges, who wrested judgment for lucre. Such malefactors were often reproved by the prophets (see Isa_1:23; Isa_10:1, etc.; Mic_3:11; Mic_7:3). But all ill-gotten gain brings sure retribution. The Greeks have many maxims to this effect. Thus—
Κέρδη πομηρὰ ζημίαν ἀεὶ φε ́ρει
Τὰ δ αἰσχρὰ κέρδη συμφορὰς ἐργά ζεται
“Riches ill won bring ruin in their train.”
An avaricious man troubles his house in another sense. He harasses his family by niggardly economies and his domestics by overwork and underfeeding, deprives his household of all comfort, and loses the blessing of God upon a righteous use of earthly wealth. The word “troubleth” (akar, “to trouble”) reminds one of the story of Achan, who, in his greed, appropriated some of the spoil of the banned city Jericho, and brought destruction upon himself and his family, when, in punishment of the crime, he and all his were stoned in the Valley of Achor (Jos_7:25). So the covetousness of Gehazi caused the infliction of the penalty of leprosy upon himself and his children (2Ki_5:27). Professor Plumptre (‘Speaker’s Commentary,’ in loc.) notes that the Chaldee Targum paraphrases this clause, referring especially to lucre gained by unrighteous judgments, thus: “He who gathers the mammon of unrighteousness destroys his house;” and he suggests that Christ’s use of that phrase (Luk_16:9) may have had some connection with this proverb through the version then popularly used in the Palestinian synagogues. He that hateth gifts shall live (comp. Ecc_7:7). Primarily this refers to the judge or magistrate who is incorruptible, and gives just judgment, and dispenses his patronage without fear or favour; he shall “prolong his days” (Pro_28:16), And in all cases a man free from covetousness, who takes no bribes to blind his eyes withal, who makes no unjust gains, shall pass a long and happy life undisturbed by care. We see here a hope of immortality, to which integrity leads. The LXX; with the view of making the two clauses more marked in antithesis, restricts the application thus: “The receiver of gifts destroyeth himself; but he who hateth the receiving of gifts liveth.” The Vulgate and Septuagint, after this verse, introduce a distich which recurs in Pro_16:6. The Septuagint transposes many of the verses at the end of this chapter and the beginning of the next.
Bread of deceit is sweet to a man; Revised Version, bread of falsehood; i.e. bread gained without labour, or by unrighteous means (comp. Pro_10:2). This is agreeable because it is easily won, and has the relish of forbidden fruit. “Wickedness is sweet in his mouth” (Job_20:12). But afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel. He will find in his “bread” no nourishment, but rather discomfort and positive injury (comp. Job_20:14). The expression, “to eat gravel,” is intimated in Lam_3:16, “He hath broken my teeth with gravel stones;” it implies grievous disappointment and unprofitableness. See here a warning against evil plesaures—
Φεῦγ ἡδονὴν φέρουσαν ὕστερον βλάβην
“Sperne voluptates: nocet empta dolore voluptas.”
Oort supposes that the gnome in the text is derived from a riddle, which asked, “What is sweet at first, but afterwards like sand in the mouth?”
Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown
Bread of deceit is sweet to a man; but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel.
Bread of deceit – bread obtained by deceit (Pro_4:17; Pro_23:3). If the Qeri’ reading, as in the English version, Pro_20:16, be taken, “bread of deceit” will mean secret adultery, sweet at the time, but deadly in the end: ‘Nocet empta dolore voluptas’-Fatal is the pleasure bought with pain (Job_20:12-16).
But afterward his mouth shall be filled with gravel. Grit often mixes with bread baked in the ashes, according to the eastern custom (Lam_3:16).
The getting of treasures by a lying tongue—the acquisition of wealth by fraud and falsehood—is a vanity tossed to and fro of them that seek death. The latter clause is variously rendered and interpreted. The Hebrew is literally, a fleeting breath, those seeking death. The Revised Version makes the last words a separate proposition, “They that seek them seek death.” But this seems unnecessary, and somewhat opposed to the gnomic style, which often combines two predicates in one construction; and there is no reason why we should not render the words, as in the Authorized Version, “of seekers of death.” Such a mode of obtaining wealth is as evanescent and unstable as the very breath, and ends in death, which is practically the result of their quest. Thus Wis. 5:14, “The hope of the ungodly is like dust that is blown away with the wind; like a thin froth that is driven away with the storm; like as the smoke which is dispersed here and there with the tempest, and passeth away. as the remembrance of a guest that tarrieth but a day.” Some think that the comparison regards the mirage of the desert, which deceives travellers with the phantasms of cool waters and refreshing shade. Such an allusion is found in Isa_35:7. The Talmud enjoins, “Speak no word that accords not with the truth, that thy honour may not vanish as the waters of a brook.” The Septuagint and Vulgate have followed a different reading (מוקשׁי־מות), and render thus: Vulgate, Vanus et excors est, et impingetur ad laqueos mortis, “He is vain and foolish, and will be taken in the snares of death;” Septuagint, “pursues vain things unto the snares of death (ἐπὶ παγίδας)” (Pro_13:14; Pro_14:27). So St. Paul says (1Ti_6:9), “They that desire to be rich fall into a into a temptation and a snare (παγίδα), and many foolish and hurtful lusts, such as drown men in destruction and perdition.”
He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches (so the Vulgate), and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want. There are various renderings and explanations of this verse. The Authorized Version says that he who oppresseth the poor to enrich himself, and he who wastes his means by giving to those who do not need it, will come to poverty. But the antithesis of this distich is thus lost. The Hebrew literally rendered brings out the contrast, Whosoever oppresseth the poor, it is for his gain; whosoever giveth to the rich, it is for his loss. Delitzsch explains the sentence thus: “He who enriches himself by extortion from the poor, at any rate gains what he desires; but he who gives to the rich impoverishes himself in vain, has no thanks, reaps only disappointment.” One cannot but feel that the maxim thus interpreted is poor and unsatisfactory. The interpretation in the ‘Speaker’s Commentary’ is more plausible: The oppressor of the poor will himself suffer in a similar mode, and will have to surrender his ill-gotten gains to some equally unscrupulous rich man. But the terse antithesis of the original is wholly obscured by this view of the distich. It is far better, with Hitzig, Ewald, and others, to take the gain in the first hemistich as that of the poor man, equivalent to “doth but bring him gain;” though the sentence is not necessarily to be explained as suggesting that the injustice which the poor man suffers at the hand of his wealthy neighbour is a stimulus to him to exert himself in order to better his position, and thus indirectly tends to his enrichment. The maxim is really conceived in the religious style of so many of these apparently worldly pronouncements, and states a truth in the moral government of God intimated elsewhere, e.g. Pro_13:22; Pro_28:8; and that truth is that the riches extorted from the poor man will in the end redound to his benefit, that by God’s providential control the oppression and injustice from which he has suffered shall work to his good. In the second hemistich the loss is that of the rich man. By adding to the wealth of the rich the donor increases his indolence, encourages his luxury, vice, and extravagance, and thus leads to his ruin—”bringeth only to want. Septuagint, “He that calumniates (συκοφαντῶν) the poor increaseth his own substance, but giveth to the rich at a loss (ἐπ ἐλάσσονι)” i.e. so as to lessen his substance.
This is almost the same as Pro_19:1, but varies a little in the second hemistich: than he that is perverse in his ways, though he be rich. The Hebrew literally is, perverse of two ways; i.e. who, going one way, pretends to go another; the “two ways” being the evil which he really pursues, and the good which he feigns to follow. Delitzsch calls him “a double-going deceiver.” So Siracides imprecates, “Woe to the sinner that goeth two ways” (Ecc_2:12). “A double-minded man,” says St James (Jas_1:8), “is unstable in all his ways.” It is not the endeavouring to serve God and mammon at the same time that is meant, but putting on the appearance of religion to mask wicked designs—in the present case in order to gain wealth. Septuagint, “A poor man walking in truth is better than a rich liar.”
He that by usury and unjust gain increaseth his substance. “Usury” (neshek) is interest on money lent taken in money; “unjust gain” (tarbith) is interest taken in kind, as if a man, having lent a bushel of corn, exacted two bushels in return. All such transactions were forbidden by the Law of Moses, at any rate between Israelites (see Le 25:36, 37, “Thou shalt not give thy brother thy money upon usury (neshek), nor lend him thy victuals for increase [marbith, equivalent to tarbith, which is used in verse 36] “). Septuagint, Μετὰ τόκων καὶ πλεονασμῶν, “With interest and usury.” (For censure of usury, see Psa_109:11; Eze_18:13; and, contrast Psa_15:5; Eze_18:8.) He shall gather it for him that will pity the poor. He shall never enjoy it himself, and shall fall into the hands of one who will hake a better use of it (see on Pro_22:16; and comp Pro_13:22; Job_27:16, etc.). In our Lord’s parable the pound is taken from one who made no good use of it and is given to a more profitable servant (Luk_19:24).
Whoso robbeth his father or his mother (comp. Pro_19:26); taking from them what belongs to them. Septuagint, “He who casts off (ἀποβάλλεται) father or mother.” And saith, It is no transgression. He salves his conscience by thinking all would be his ere long in the course of nature; or he uses the plea of Corban denounced by our Lord (Mar_7:11, etc.). The same is the companion of a destroyer (Pro_18:9); is no better than, stands in the position of, one who practises openly against his neighbour’s life and property. He is a thief, and fails in the simplest duty. Vulgate, particeps homicidae est. There may be an allusion to the guilt incurred by a witness in concealing his knowledge of a crime, which is denounced in Le Pro_5:1 (comp. Jdg_17:2).
Honour the Lord with thy substance, etc. An exhortation to self-sacrificing devotion by the appropriation and use of wealth to the service of Jehovah. With thy substance (mehonehka); Vulgate, de tua substantia; LXX; ἀπὸ σω ͂ν δικαίων πόνων. Hon, properly “lightness,” is “opulence,” “wealth,” as in Pro_1:13. The min in composition with hon is not partitive, as Delitzsch and Berthean take it, but signifies “with” or “by means of,” as in Psa_38:7; Isa_58:12; Eze_28:18; Oba_1:9. The insertion of δικαίος by the LXX. limits the wealth to that which is justly acquired, and so guards against the erroneous idea that God is honoured by the appropriation to his use of unlawful wealth or gain (Plumptre). The Israelites “honoured Jehovah with their substance” when they contributed towards the erection of the tabernacle in the wilderness, and later when they assisted in the preparations for the building of the temple, and in the payment of tithes. The injunction may undoubtedly refer to tithes, and is in accordance with the requirement of the Mosaic Law on that and other points as to oblations, free will offerings, etc.; but it has a wider bearing and contemplates the use of wealth for all pious and charitable purposes (see Pro_14:31). The word maaser, “tithe,” does not occur in the Proverbs. With the firstfruits (mereshith); Vulgate, de primitiis. So Targum Jonathan, Syriac, and Arabic. The law of the firstfruits is found in Exo_22:29; Exo_23:19; Exo_34:20; Le Exo_23:10; Num_18:12 : Deu_18:4; Deu_26:1-3. The firstfruits were presented by every Israelite to the priests, in token of gratitude and humble thankfulness to Jehovah, and consisted of the produce of the land in its natural state, or prepared for human food (Maclear, ‘Old Test. Hist.,’ bk. 4, c. 3, a). The “firstfruits” also carried with it the idea of the best. The custom of offering the firstfruits of the field and other revenues as a religious obligation was observed by ancient pagan nations. Some of the ancient commentators find in this verse an argument for the support of the ministry. It is well known that the priests “lived of the sacrifice,” and were “partakers of the altar,” and as their support by these means tended to the maintenance of Divine worship, so those who supported them were in the highest degree “honoring God.” The injunctions also show that the honouring of God does not consist simply of lip service, of humility and confidence in him, but also of external worship, and in corporeal things. They are not peculiar to Israel, but are binding on all. They oppose all selfish use of God’s temporal gifts, and lead to the thought that, in obeying them, we are only giving back to God what are his own. “The silver and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts” (Hag_2:1-23 :28).
So shall thy barns be filled with plenty. The promise held out to encourage the devotion of one’s wealth to Jehovah’s service, while supplying a motive which at first sight appears selfish and questionable, is in reality a trial of faith. Few persons find it easy to realize that giving away will increase their store (Wardlaw). The teacher is warranted in bringing forward this promise by the language of Moses in Deu_28:1-8, whine, among other things, he promises that Jehovah will command a blessing upon the “storehouses” and industry of those who honour God. The principle is otherwise expressed in Pro_11:25, “The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth shall be also watered himself;” and it is exemplified in Hag_1:3-11; Hag_2:15, Hag_2:19; Mal_3:10-12, and in the New Testament in Php_4:14-19; 2Co_9:6-8. Thy barns; asameykha, the only form in which asam, “a storehouse,” “barn,” or “granary,” occurs. The Hebrew asam is the same as the Latin horreum (Vulgate) and the Greek ταμιεῖον (LXX.). With plenty (sava); Vulgate, saturitas; i.e. fulness, abundance, plenty. The root sava is “to become satisfied,” and that richly satisfied. This expression and the following, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine, depict the greatest abundance. Thy presses (y’kaveykhu). The word here translated “presses” is, strictly speaking,” vats” or “reservoirs,” into which the must from the wine press flowed. The wine press consisted of two parts, the gath (equivalent to the Latin torcularium, torculum, or torcular; Greek, ληνός, Mat_21:33), into which the grapes were collected from the surrounding vineyard, and there trodden underfoot by several persons (Neh_13:15 : Isa_63:3; Lam_1:15), whose movements were regulated by singing or shouting (Isa_16:10; Jer_48:33), as among the Greeks and Egyptians; and the yekev, used here, which was a trough of corresponding size, dug into the ground, or cut out of a rack, at a lower level, to receive the must. The yekev corresponded with the Greek ὑπολη ́νιον, mentioned in Mar_12:1-44 :l, and the Latin lacus (Ovid, ‘Fasti,’ 5.888; Pliny, ‘Epist.,’ 9.20; ‘Colum. de Rust.,’ 12.18): Cajeterus, indeed, reads, lacus torcularii. The word yekev is, however, used for the wine press itself in Job_24:11 and 2Ki_6:27. Shall burst out (yiph’rotsu); literally, they shall extend themselves; i.e. shall overflow. Parats, “to break,” is here used metaphorically in the sense of “to be redundant,” “to overflow” (cf. 2Sa_5:20). It is employed intransitively of a people spreading themselves abroad, or increasing, in Gen_28:14; Exo_1:12. New wine (tirosh); Vulgate, Arabic, and Syriac, vino; LXX; οἴνῳ; properly, as in the Authorized Version, “new wine;” Latin, mustum (see Deu_33:28; Isa_36:17; Isa_55:1).
There are many expressions in this and the following verses which recall Psa_1:1-6. He that trusteth in his riches shall fall (Pro_10:2; Psa_49:6, Psa_49:7; Psa_52:7; Ecc_5:8). Wealth is of all things the most uncertain, and leads the heart astray from God (1Ti_6:17). As a branch; “as a leaf” (Psa_1:1-6 :8; Isa_34:4). The righteous grow in grace and spiritual beauty, and bring forth the fruit of good works. Septuagint, “He who layeth hold on what is righteous [or, ‘helpeth the righteous’] shall spring up (ἀνατελει ͂).”
Better is a little with righteousness (Pro_15:16; Psa_37:16). “Righteousness” may mean here a holy life or just dealing; as without right, or, with injustice, in the second clause, may refer either generally wickedness, or specially to fraud and oppression (Jer_22:13). Says Theognis—
Βούλεο δ εὐσεβέων ὀλίγοις σὺν χρήμασιν οἰκεῖν,
Η πλουτεῖν ἀδίκως χρήματα πασάμενος.
“Wish thou with scanty means pious to live,
Rather than rich with large, ill-gotten wealth.”