Proverbs Chapter 5:3-14, 20-23; 6:23-24, 27-29, 32-34 Antique Commentary Quotes

Pulpit Commentary

The teacher enters upon the subject of his warning, and under two familiar figures—common alike to Oriental and Greek writers—describes the nature of the “strange woman’s” allurements. For the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb. The conjunction “for” (Hebrew ki) here, like the LXX. γὰρ, states the reason why the preceding exhortation is worthy of attention. Some commentators render “although,” “albeit,” as corresponding with the antithetical “but” in Pro_5:4. The lips; siphthey, the construct case of saphah in Pro_5:2. The organ of speech is here used for the speech itself, like the parallel “mouth.” A strange woman (zarah); i.e. the harlot. The word occurs before in Pro_2:16, and again inch. Pro_5:20; Pro_7:5; Pro_22:14; Pro_23:33. She is extranea, a stranger with respect to the youth whom she would beguile, either as being of foreign extraction, or as being the wife of another man, in which capacity she is so represented in Pro_7:19. In this sense she would be an adulteress. St. Jerome, in Eze_6:1-14; takes her as the representative of the allurements from sound doctrine, and of corrupt worship (Wordsworth). Drop as an honeycomb (nopheth tithoph’ nah); rather, distil honey. The Hebrew nophteth is properly a “dropping,” distillatio, and so the honey flowing from the honeycombs (tsuphim). Kimchi explains it as the honey flowing from the cells before they are broken, and hence it is the pure fine virgin honey. Exactly the same phrase occurs in So Eze_4:11, “Thy lips, O my spouse, drop as an honeycomb (nopheth tithoph’nah).” The only other places where we meet with the word nopheth are Psa_24:10 (11) (there combined with tsuphim, which helps to determine its meaning) and Pro_24:13; Pro_27:7. The meaning is the same as she “flattereth with her words” of Pro_7:5, in which chapter the teacher gives an example of the alluring words which the strange woman uses (Pro_7:14-20). As honey is sweet and attractive to the taste, so in a higher degree are her words pleasant to the senses. Her mouth is smoother than oil; i.e. her words are most plausible and persuasive. The Hebrew khik is properly “the palate,” though it also included the corresponding lower part of the mouth (Gesenius). It is used as the instrument or organ of speech in Pro_8:7, “For my mouth (khik) shall speak truth;” and in Job_31:30, “I have not suffered my mouth (khik) to sin.” Under the same figure David describes the treachery of his friend in Psa_55:22, “His words were softer than oil, yet they were drawn swords.”

Pulpit Commentary

The contrast is drawn with great vividness between the professions of the “strange woman” and the disastrous consequences which overtake those who listen to her enticements. She promises enjoyment, pleasure, freedom from danger, but her end is bitter as wormwood. “Her end,” not merely with reference to herself, which may be and is undoubtedly true, but the last of her as experienced by those who have intercourse with her—her character as it stands revealed at the last. So it is said of wine, “At the last,” i.e. its final effects, if indulged in to excess, “it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder” (Pro_23:22). Bitter as wormwood. The Hebrew, laanah, “wormwood,” Gesenius derives from the unused root laan, “to curse.” It is the equivalent to the absinthium of the Vulgate. So Aquila, who has ἀψίνθιον. The LXX. improperly renders χολή, “gall.” In other places the word laanah is used as the emblem of bitterness, with the superadded idea of its being poisonous, also according to the Hebrew notion, shared in also by the Greeks, that the plant combined these two qualities. Thus in Deu_29:18 it is associated with rosh, “a poisonful herb” (margin), and the Targum terms it, agreeably with this notion, “deadly wormwood.” The same belief is reproduced in Rev_8:11, “And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and many men died of the waters because they were made bitter” (cf. Jer_9:15; Amo_5:7 : Amo_6:12). The apostle, no doubt, has it in mind when he speaks of any “root of bitterness,” in Heb_12:15. The herb is thus described by Umbreit: “It is a plant toward two feet high, belonging to the genus Artemisia (species Artemisia absinthium), which produces a very firm stalk with many branches, grayish leaves, and small, almost round, pendent blossoms. It has a bitter and saline taste, and seems to have been regarded in the East as also a poison, of which the frequent combination with rosh gives an intimation.” Terence has a strikingly similar passage to the one before us—

In melle sunt linguae sitae vestrae atque orations

Lacteque; corda felle sunt lita atque acerbo aceto.”

“Your tongues are placed in honey and your speech is milk; your hearts are besmeared with gall and sharp vinegar” (‘Trucul.,’ 1.11. 75). Sharp as a two-edged sword; literally, as a sword of edges (kherev piphiyyoth), which may mean a sword of extreme sharpness. Her end is as sharp as the sharpest sword. But it seems better to take the term as it is understood in the Authorized Version, which has the support both of the Vulgate, gladius biceps, and the LXX; μαχαίρα διστόμος, i.e. “a two-edged sword.” Compare “a two-edged sword” (kherev piphiyyoth) of Psa_149:6. The meaning is, the last of her is poignancy of remorse, anguish of heart, and death. In these she involves her victims.

John Trapp
Proverbs 5:5

Pro_5:5 Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell.

Ver. 5. Her feet go down to death.] The Romans were wont to have their funerals at the gates of Venus’s temple, to signify that lust was the harbinger and hastener of death, saith Plutarch. As for whores, they were of old shut out of the city, and forced to seek places among the graves. Hence they were called Maechae bustuariae. De scortis dictum inter busta prostrantibus, saith Turnebus. {a} {See Trapp on “Pro_2:18”}

Her steps take hold on hell.] Whither she is hastening, and hurrying with her all her stallions and paramours, {See Trapp on “Pro_2:18”} {See Trapp on “Pro_2:19”} and where, “by how much more deliciously they have lived, by so much more they shall have of sorrow and torment.” {Rev_18:7}

{a} Lib. advers, xiii. 19.

Pulpit Commentary

Lest thou shouldest ponder the path of life, her ways are movable, that thou canst not know them. This verse should be rather rendered, she walks not in the path of life, her ways fiuctuate, she knows not. It consists of a series of independent proposiyions or statements, all of which are descriptive of the singularly fatuous conduct of “the strange woman.” In the previous verse the teacher has said that her conduct leads to ruin; he here further emphasizes the idea by putting forward the same truth from the opposite, or, as we may say, from the negative point of view, and so completes the picture. “The words,” as Plumptre remarks, “describe with terrible vividness the state of heart and soul which prostitution brings on its victims.” Her course is one o(persistent, wilful, headstrong, blind folly and wickedness. Lest; pen; here “not,” equivalent to לא (lo). So the LXX; Vulgate, Targum, Syriac. The use of pen, in this sense is, however, unique (Gesenius). Delitzsch and Zockler, following Luther, Geier, Holden, etc; assign to it an emphatic negative force, as, “She is far removed from entering,” or, “she never treadeth.” Others take pen as a dependent prohibitive particle, equivalent to the Latin ne forte, “lest,” as in the Authorized Version, and employed to connect the sentence which it introduces either with the preceding verse (as Schultens) or with the second hemistich, on which it is made dependent (Holden, Wordsworth, Aben Ezra, loc; Michaelis, etc.). Thou shouldest ponder; t’phalles, connected by makkeph with pen, as usual (Lee), is either second person masculine or third person feminine. The latter is required here, the subject of the sentence being “the strange woman,” as appears clearly from the second hemistich, “her ways,” etc. The verb patas (cf. Pro_14:26) here means “to prepare,” i.e. to walk in, or to travel over. Thus Gesenius renders, “She (the adulteress) prepareth not (for herself) the way of life:” i.e. she does not walk in the way of life; cf. the LXX. εἰσέρχεται, Vulgate ambulant (sc. gressus ejus), and other ancient versions, all of which understand the verb in this sense. The meaning of the phrase, pen t’phalles, is, therefore, “she walks not” in the way of life—the way that has life for its object, and which in itself is full of life and safety. Far from doing this, the teacher goes on to say, her ways are movable; literally, go to and fro, or fluctuate; i.e. they wilfully stagger hither and thither, like the steps of a drunkard, or like the uncertain steps of the blind, for the verb nua is so used in the former sense in Isa_24:20; Isa_29:9; Psa_107:27; and in the latter in Lam_4:14. Her steps are slippery (LXX; σφαλέραι), or wander (Vulgate, vagi); they are without any definite aim; she is always straying in the vagrancy of sin (Wordsworth); cf. Pro_7:12. That thou canst not know them (lo theda); literally, she knows not. The elliptical form of this sentence in the original leaves it open to various interpretations. It seems to refer to the way of life; she knows not the way of life, i.e. she does not regard or perceive the way of life. The verb yada often has this meaning. The meaning may be obtained by supplying mah, equivalent to quicquam, “anything,” as in Pro_9:13, “She knows not anything,” i.e. she knows nothing. The objection to this is that it travels unnecessarily out of the sentence to find the object which ought rather to be supplied from the context. The object may possibly be the staggering of her feet: she staggers hither and thither without her perceiving it (Delitzsch); or it may, lastly, be indefinite: she knows not whittler her steps conduct her (Wordsworth and Zockler).

Pulpit Commentary

Remove thy way far from her. In other words, this is the same as St. Paul counsels, “Flee fornication” (1Co_6:14). From her (mealeyah; desuper ea). The term conveys the impression that the youth has come within the compass of her temptations, or that in the highest degree he is liable to them. The Hebrew meal, compounded of min and al, and meaning” from upon,” being used of persons or things which go away from the place in or upon which they had been. And come not nigh the door of her house; i.e. shun the very place where she dwells. “Be so far from coming into her chamber as not to come near the door of her house” (Patrick). She and her house are to be avoided as if they were infected with some mortal disease. The old proverb quoted by Muffet is applicable—

“He that would no evil do

Must do nothing that ‘longeth [i.e. belongeth] thereto.”

Pulpit Commentary

The reasons why the harlot is to be avoided follow in rapid succession. Lest thou give thine honour unto others, and thy years unto the cruel. The word rendered “honour” (Hebrew, hod) is not so much reputation, as the English implies, as “the grace and freshness of youth.” It is so used in Hos_14:6; Dan_10:8. The Vulgate renders “honour,” and the LXX; ζώη, “life.” Hod is derived from the Arabic word signifying “to lift one’s self up,” and then “to be eminent, beautiful.” Thy years; i.e. the best and most vigorous, and hence the most useful and valuable, years of life. Unto the cruel (Hebrew, l’ak’zari); literally, to the cruel one; but the adjective akzari is only found in the singular, and may be here used in a collective sense as designating the entourage of the harlot, her associates who prey pitilessly on the youth whom they bring within the range of her fascinations. So Delitzsch. It seems to be so understood by the LXX; which reads ἀνελεη ́μοσιν, immitentibus; but not so by the Vulgate, which adheres to the singular, crudeli. If we adhere to the gender of the adjective akzari, which is masculine, and to its number, it may designate the husband of the adulteress, who will deal mercilessly towards the paramour of his wife. So Zockler. Again, it may refer, notwithstanding the gender, to the harlot herself (so Vatablus and Holden). who is cruel, who has no love for the youth, and would see him perish without pity. The explanation of Stuart and others, including Ewald, that the “cruel one” is the purchaser of the punished adulterer, is without foundation or warrant, since there is no historical instance on record where the adulterer was reduced to slavery, and the punishment inflicted by the Mosaic code was not slavery, but death (Num_20:10; Deu_22:22), and, as it appears from Eze_16:40 and Joh_8:5, death from stoning. The adjective akzari, like its equivalent akzar, is derived from the verb kazar, “to break,” and occurs again in Pro_11:17; Pro_12:10; Pro_17:11. The moral of the warning is a wasted life.

Pulpit Commentary

Another temporal consequence of, and deterrent against, a life of profligacy. Lest strangers be filled with thy wealth; and thy labours be in the house of a stranger. The margin reads, “thy strength” for “thy wealth,” but the text properly renders the original koakh, which means “substance,” “wealth,” “riches”—the youth’s possessions in money and property (Delitzsch). The primary meaning of the word is “strength” or “might,” as appears from the verb kakhakh, “to exert one’s self,” from which it is derived, but the parallel atsabeyka, “thy toils,” rendered “thy labours,” determines its use in the secondary sense here. Compare the similar passage in Hos_7:9, “Strangers have devoured his strength [koakh, i.e. ‘ his possessions’], and he knoweth it not” (see also Job_6:22). Koakh is the concrete product resulting from the abstract strength or ability when brought into action. Thy labours (atsabeyka); i.e. thy toils, the product of laborious toil, that which you have gotten by the labour of your hands, and earned with the sweat of your brow. Fleischer compares the Italian i miri sudori, and the French mes sueurs. The singular etsev signifies “heavy toilsome labour,” and the plural (atsavim, “labours,” things done with toil, and so the idea passes to the resultant of the labour. Compare the very similar expression in Psa_127:2, lekhem naatsavim, equivalent to “bread obtained by toilsome labour;” Authorized Version, “the bread of sorrows.” The Authorized Version properly supplies the verb “be” against those (e.g. Holden et alli) who join on “thy labours” to the previous verb “be filled,” as an accusative, and render, “and with thy labours in the house of a stranger.” So also the LXX. and the Vulgate, “and thy labours come” (ἕλθωσι, LXX.) or “be” (sint, Vulgate) “to the house of strangers” (εἰς οἴκους ἀλλοτρι ων) or, “in a strange house” (in aliena domo). In the latter case the Vulgate is wrong, as nok’ri in the phrase beyth nok’ri is always personal (Delitzsch), and should be rendered, as in the Authorized Version, “in the house of a stranger.” The meaning of the verse is that a life of impurity transfers the profligate’s substance, his wealth and possessions, to others, who will be satiated at his expense, and, being strangers, are indifferent to his ruin.

Pulpit Commentary

The last argument is the mental anguish which ensues when health is ruined and wealth is squandered. And thou mourn at the last, when thy flesh and thy body are consumed. The Hebrew v’nahamta’ is rather “and thou groan.” It is not the plaintive wailing or the subdued grief of heart which is signified, but the loud wail of lamentation, the groaning indicative of intense mental suffering called forth by the remembrance of past folly, and which sees no remedy in the future. The verb naham occurs again in Pro_28:15, where it is used of the roaring of the lion, and the cognate noun naham is met with in Pro_19:12 and Pro_20:2 in the same sense. By Ezekiel it is used of the groaning of the people of Jerusalem when they shall see their sanctuary profaned, their sons and their daughters fall by the sword, and their city destroyed (Eze_24:23). Isaiah (Isa_5:29, Isa_5:30) applies it to the roaring of the sea. The Vulgate reproduces the idea in gemas, equivalent to “and thou groan.” The LXX. rendering, καὶ μεταμεληθήσῃ, “and thou shelf repent,” arising from the adoption of a different pointing, nikhamta, from the niph. nikham, “to repent,” for nahamta, to some extent expresses the sense. At the last; literally, at thine end; i.e. when thou art ruined, or, as the teacher explains, when thy flesh and thy body are consumed. The expression, “thy flesh and thy body,” here stands for the whole body, the body in its totality, not the body and the soul, which would be different. Of these two words “the flesh” (basar) rather denotes the flesh in its strict sense as such (cf. Job_31:31; Job_33:21), while “body” (sh’er) is the flesh adhering to the bones. Gesenlus regards them as synonymous terms, stating, however, that sh’er is the more poetical as to use. The word basar is used to denote the whole body in Isa_14:30. It is clear that, by the use of these two terms here, the teacher is following a peculiarity observable elsewhere in the Proverbs, of combining two terms to express, and so to give force to, one idea. The expression describes “the utter destruction of the libertine” (Umbreit). This destruction, as further involving the ruin of the soul, is described in Pro_6:32, “Whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding; he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul (nephesh)” (cf. Pro_7:22, Pro_7:23).

John Trapp
Proverbs 5:12

Pro_5:12 And say, How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof;

Ver. 12. And say, How have I hated, &c.] When cast out with the prodigal, and hath nothing left him but a diseased body, a distressed soul, then, all too late, he fills the air with doleful complaints of his former folly, and cries out, as he did, Totum vitae meae tempus perdidi, quia perdite vixi. {a} Oh, what a wretch, what a beast, what a maddened devil was I, so woefully to waste the fat and marrow of my dear and precious time, the flower of mine age, the strength of my body, the vigour of my spirits, the whole of mine estate, in sinful pleasures and sensual delights! Lo, here is a kind of repentance which, though late, yet, if it were true, would be accepted, {b} The mole, they say, begins to see when he dies, and not till then. Oculos incipit aperire moriendo, quos clausos habuit vivendo. {c} But it is a rare thing, and seldom seen, that any whoremonger doth truly repent. “One such man among a thousand have I found,” saith Solomon – perhaps he meant himself – “but a woman among all those have I not found.” {Ecc_7:28} And yet Scultetus tells us that Dr Speiser, minister of Ansborough, in Germany, preached there so powerfully, that the common harlots, there tolerated, left their filthy trade of life, and became very honest women. {d}

And my heart despised reproof] Experience shows that they that are once given up to this sin are more graceless, profane, and incorrigible than others, deriders and contemners of all good counsel, having lost even the very light of nature, and so set in their sin, and so wedded and wedged to their wicked ways, as that they cannot be removed but by an extraordinary touch from the hand of Heaven.

{a} Bernard.

{b} Nunquam sero si serio.

{c} Tostat. ex Plinio.

{d} Anno 1523. Scultet., Annal. p. 118.

Pulpit Commentary

And have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined mine ear to them that instructed me. The ruined profligate admits he was not without teachers and advisers, but that he gave no heed to their warnings and reproofs. Have not obeyed the voice (lo-shama’ti b’kol). The same phrase occurs in Gen_27:13; Exo_18:19; Deu_26:14; 2Sa_12:18. The verb shama is primarily “to hear,” and then “to obey,” “to give heed to,” like the Greek ἀκου ́ω.

Pulpit Commentary

I was almost in all evil in the midst of the congregation and assembly; i.e. such was my shamelessness that there was scarcely any wickedness which I did not commit, unrestrained even by the presence of the congregation and assembly. The fact which the ruined youth laments is the extent and audacity of his sins. It is not that he accuses himself of hypocrisy in religion (Delitzsch), but he adds another clement in his career of vice. He has disregarded the warnings and reproofs of his teachers and friends; but more, the presence of the congregation of God’s people, a silent but not a less impressive protest, had no restraining effect upon him. The words, “the congregation and assembly” (Hebrew, kahal v’edah), seem to be used to heighten the conception, rather than to express two distinct and separate ideas, since we find them both used interchangeably to designate the congregation of the Israelites. The radical conception of kahal (“congregation”) is the same as that of the LXX. ἐκκλη ́σια and Vulgate ecclesia, viz. the congregation looked upon from the point of its being called together, kahal being derived from kahal, which in hiph. is equivalent to “to call together,” while that of edah is the congregation looked at from the point of its having assembled edah being derived from yaad, in niph. equivalent to “to come together.” The latter will therefore stand for any assembly of people specially convened or coming together for some definite object, like the LXX. συναγώγη and the Vulgate synagoga. The term edah is, however, used in a technical sense as signifying the seventy elders, or senators, who judged the people (see Num_25:7; Num_35:12). Rabbi Salomon so explains haedah as “the congregation,” in Jos_20:6 and Num_27:21. Other explanations, however, have been given of these words. Zockler takes kahal as the convened council of elders acting as judges (Deu_33:4, Deu_33:5), and edah as the concourse (coetus) of the people executing the condemning sentence (Num_15:15; cf. Psa_7:7), and renders, “Well nigh had I fallen into utter destruction in the midst of the assembly and the congregation.” Fleischer, Vatablus, and Bayne take much the same view, looking upon ra (“evil,” Authorized Version) as “punishment,” i.e. the evil which follows as a consequence of sin—a usage supported by 2Sa_16:18; Exo_5:19; 1Ch_7:23; Psa_10:6—rather than as evil per se, i.e. that which is morally bad, as in Exo_32:22. Aben Ezra considers that the perfect is used for the future; “In a little time I shall be involved in all evil;” i.e. punishment, which is looked forward to prospectively. For “almost” (ki-mat, equivalent to “within a little,” “almost,” “nearly”), see Gen_26:10; Psa_73:2; Psa_119:87.

Pulpit Commentary

And why; i.e. what inducement is there, what reason can be given, for conjugal infidelity, except the lewd and immoral promptings of the lower nature, except sensuality in its lowest form? Ravished. The verb shagah recurs, but in a lower sense, as indicating “the foolish delirium of the libertine hastening after the harlot” (Zockler). With a strange woman (Hebrew, b’zarah); i.e. with a harlot. On zarah, see Pro_2:16 and Pro_7:5. The be (בְּ) localizes the sources of the intoxication. Embrace (Hebrew, t’khab-bek). On this verb, see Pro_4:8. The bosom of a stranger (Hebrew, kheh nok’riyyah). A parallel expression having the same force as its counterpart. The more usual form of khek is kheyk, and means “the bosom” of a person. In Pro_16:33 it is used of the lap, and in Pro_17:23 and Pro_21:14 for the bosom or folds of a garment.

Pulpit Commentary

For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord. The obvious meaning here is that as “the eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good” (Pro_15:3), there is no possibility of any act of immorality escaping God’s notice. The consciousness of this fact is to be the restraining motive, inasmuch as he who sees will also punish every transgression. The great truth acknowledged here is the omniscience of God, a truth which is borne witness to in almost identical language in Job: “For his eyes are upon the ways of man, and he seeth all his goings” (Job_34:21; cf. Job_24:23 and Job_31:4). So Hanani the seer says to Asa King of Judah, “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth” (2Ch_16:9); and Jehovah says, in Jeremiah, “For mine eyes are upon all their ways, they are not hid from my face, neither is their iniquity hid from mine eyes” (Jer_16:17; cf. Jer_32:29); and again, in Hosea, “They are before my face” (Hos_7:2), and the same truth is re-echoed in the Epistle to the Hebrews, in all probability gathered from our passage, “All things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do” (Heb_4:13). The ways of man; i.e. the conduct of any individual man or woman; ish, “man,” being used generically. Are before the eyes of the Lord; i.e. are an object on which Jehovah fixes his gaze and scrutiny. And he pondereth all his goings. The word “he pondereth” is in the original m’phalles, the piel participle of philles, piel of the unused kal, palas, and appears to be properly rendered in the Authorized Version. This verb, however, has various meanings:

(1) to make level, or prepare, as in Pro_4:26 and Pro_5:6;

(2) to weigh, or consider accurately, in which sense it is used here.

So Gesenius, Lee, Buxtorf, and Davidson. Jehovah not only sees, but weighs all that a man does, wheresoever he be, and will apportion rewards and punishments according to a man’s actions (Patrick). The German commentators, Delitzsch and Zockler, however, look upon the word as indicating the overruling providence of God, just as the former part of the verse refers to his omniscience, and render, “he marketh out,” in the sense that the Lord makes it possible for a man to walk in the way of uprightness and purity. There is nothing inherently objectionable in this view, since experience shows that the world is regulated by the Divine government, but it loses sight to some extent of the truth upon which the teacher appears to be insisting, which is that evil actions are visited with Divine retribution.

Pulpit Commentary

His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself; i.e. his manifold sins shall overtake and arrest him. The imagery is borrowed from the snare of the fowler. The emphatic form of the original, “His sins shall overtake him, the impious man,” point conclusively to the adulterer. It is “his” sins that shall overtake him, not those of another, and they shall fall upon his own head; and further, his character is depicted in the condemning clause, “the impious man;” for such he is. Shall take. The verb lakad is literally “to take or catch animals in a snare or net,” properly “to strike with a net.” The wicked man becomes entangled and caught in his own sins; he is struck down and captured by them, just as the prey is struck by the snare of the fowler. The verb is, of course, used metaphorically, as in Job_5:13. The wicked (Hebrew, eth-harasa); in the original introduced as explanatory of the object, “him.” And he shall be holden with the cords of his sins. The Authorized Version follows the LXX. and Vulgate in rendering “his sins,” instead of the original “his sin” (khattatho). It is not so much every sin of man which shall hold him, though this is true, as the particular sin treated of in the address, viz. adultery, which shall do this. The expression, “the cords of his sin” (Hebrew, khavley khattatho), means the cords which his sin weaves around him. Nothing else will be requisite to bind and hold him fast for punishment (cf. “cords of vanity,” in Isa_5:18).

Pulpit Commentary

He shall die without instruction. The phrase, “without instruction,” is in the original b’eyu musar, literally, “in there not being instruction.” The obvious meaning is, because he gave no heed to instruction. So Aben Ezra and Gersom. The Authorized Version is at least ambiguous, and seems to imply that the adulterer has been without instruction, without any to reprove or counsel him. But such is not the case. He has been admonished of the evil consequences of his sin, but to these warnings he has turned a deaf ear, and the teacher says therefore he shall die. The Vulgate supports this explanation, quia non habuit disciplinam “because he did not entertain or use instruction.” In the LXX. the idea is enlarged, “He shall die together with these who have no instruction (μετὰ ἀπαιδευ ́των).” The be (בְּ) in b’eyn is causal, and equivalent to propter, as in Gen_18:28; Jer_17:3. A similar statement is found in Job_4:21, “They die even without wisdom,” i.e. because they have disregarded the lessons of wisdom; and Job_36:12, “They shall die without knowledge.” And in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray; better, as Delitzsch, “He shall stagger to ruin.” The verb shagah is used as in Job_36:19 and Job_36:20, but with a deeper and more dread significance. A climax is reached in the manner in which the end of the adulterer is portrayed. His end is without a gleam of hope or satisfaction. With an understanding darkened and rendered callous by unrestrained indulgence in lust, and by folly which has reached its utmost limits and cannot, as it were, be surpassed, in that it has persistently and wilfully set aside and scorned wisdom and true happiness, the adulterer, like the drunkard, who is oblivious of the danger before him, shall stagger to ruin.

Pulpit Commentary

For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light. The teacher takes up the words “commandment” (Hebrew, mitzrah) and “law” (Hebrew, torah) from Pro_6:20, which he describes respectively as “a lamp” and “light” The “commandment” is any special or particular commandment which harmonizes with God’s will, and commands what is to be done and forbids what is to be left undone. The “law” is the whole law of God in its entirety; not here the Law of Moses technically, but the whole system of generalized instruction; They stand, therefore, in the same relation to each other as “a lamp” and “light,” the one being particular, and the other general. “Light” (Hebrew, or) is light in general, as the light of the day and the sun, while “a lamp” (Hebrew, ner, from nur, “to shine) is a particular light like that of a candle, which is enkindled at some other source. The “commandment” and the “law” alike enlighten the conscience and enable one to walk in his way of life. On this passage Le Clerc remarks, “Ut in tenebris lucerna, aut fax ostendit nobis, qua eundam sit: in ignorantiae humanae caligine, quae nos per hanc totam vitam cingit, revelatio divina nos docet, quid sit faciendum, quid vitandum.” So the psalmist says in Psa_19:8, “The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;” and again in Psa_119:105, “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path;” i.e. they direct and show the true way of faith and life (Gejerus). The “commandment” and the “law” may stand for the whole revelation of God without reference to any particular precept (as Scott), but they have here a specific bearing on a particular form of human conduct, as appears from the following verses. And reproofs of instruction are the way of life. Reproofs of instruction; Hebrew, tok’khoth musar, disciplinary reproofs, i.e. reproofs whose object is the discipline of the soul and the moral elevation of the character. The LXX. reads, καὶ ἔλεγχος καὶ παιδεία; thus connecting it with education in its highest sense. Such reproofs are a way of life (Hebrew, derek khayyim), i.e. they lead to life; they conduce to the prolongation of life. This view of the subject, so prominent in the mind of the teacher in other passages (cf. Pro_3:2 and Pro_3:19), must not be lost sight of, though the words are susceptible of another interpretation, as indicating that the severest reproofs, inasmuch as they correct errors and require obedience, conduce to the greatest happiness (Patrick). Or again, it may mean that disciplinary reproofs are necessary to life. The soul to arrive at perfection must undergo them as part of the conditions of its existence, and, consequently, they are to be submitted to with the consciousness that, however irksome they may be, they are imposed for its eventual benefit (cf. Heb_12:5). But this interpretation is unlikely from what follows.

Adam Clarke
Proverbs 6:24

To keep thee from the evil woman – Solomon had suffered sorely from this quarter; and hence his repeated cautions and warnings to others. The strange woman always means one that is not a man’s own; and sometimes it may also imply a foreign harlot, one who is also a stranger to the God of Israel.

Pulpit Commentary

In this and the two following verses (28 and 29) the discourse proceeds from statement to illustration, and by examples of cause and effect the teacher shows “the moral necessity of the evil consequences of the sin of adultery” (Delitzsch). The meaning of the verses is plain enough, viz. that as it is in vain to suppose that a person’s garment will not be burnt or his feet not be scorched if fire is brought near them, so it is equally inconceivable that a person indulging in adultery can escape its consequences or the retribution that follows. The two questions in Pro_6:27 and Pro_6:28 imply a strong negative, and so prepare for the conclusion in Pro_6:30. Take fire. The Hebrew verb khathah signifies “to take burning or live coals from the hearth” (Placater); and hence is used here in a pregnant sense “to take from the hearth and place in” (cf. Pro_25:22, “For thou wilt take coals [‘and heap them:’ Hebrew, gekhalim khotheh] on his head”). The fuller expression is met with in Isa_30:14, “So that there shall not be found in the bursting of it a sherd to take fire from the hearth (lakh)toth esh miyyakud).'” The Vulgate renders by abscondere,” to hide: Numquid potest homo absconders ignem; and the LXX. by ἀποδει ͂ ν, equivalent to the Latin alligare “to tie or bind fast.” Wordsworth explains “to take and heap up, as in a firepan or censer.” In his bosom; Hebrew, b’kheyko; LXX; ἐν κόλπῳ; Vulgate, in sinu suo. The word kheyk is properly “an undulation” (Delitzsch). not the lap, but as in the Authorized Version here, “the bosom,” and “the bosom of a garment” as in Isa_16:1-14 :33; 17:23; Isa_21:14. The answer to the question of this and the next verse is of course a decided negative, but we may note that the teacher compares adultery to a burning fire in its consequences.

Pulpit Commentary

Can one go upon hot coals, etc.? The repeated question is introduced by gin, “if,” here equivalent to the Latin an, used in double questions, as in Gen_24:21; Exo_17:7; Jdg_9:2, etc. Go; i.e. walk upon hot coals (Hebrew, al-haggekalim); literally, upon the hot coals. The Hebrew gakheleth is coals thoroughly ignited, as in Le Jdg_16:12 and Pro_25:22; different from pekham of Pro_26:21, which is “a black coal,” or, as Gesenius explains, charcoal unkindled. Be burned; Hebrew, tikkaveynah; i.e. be burned or scorched so as to leave a mark by burning, as in Isa_43:2; this being the force of the verb kavah. The flames of lust will certainly be visited with punishment, and with the stings of conscience. Job, speaking on this very subject, says a deviation from the paths of virtue “is a fire that consumeth to destruction.” And to him who gives way to adultery it may be said, in the words of Horace, though with a different application from that in which they were used by that poet, “incedis per ignes suppositos cineri doloso.” “You are walking over fire that lies hidden under deceitful ashes” (Gejerus).

Pulpit Commentary

So he that goeth in to his neighbour’s wife; whosoever toucheth her shall not be innocent. It is as great a folly to suppose that an adulterer will escape punishment as to imagine that no injury will follow where fire has been applied. Delitzsch illustrates this verse by a passage from Pythagoras’s maxim, Τὸ εἰς πῦρ καὶ εἰς γυναῖκα ἐμπεσε ῖν ἴσον ὑπάρχει Goeth in; Hebrew, habba el; i.e. has intercourse with, as in Gen_6:4; Gen_19:31; Gen_38:9; Psa_51:2. The same in force as “toucheth.” Shall not be innocent; Hebrew, lo-yinnakeh; i.e. poena vacuus,”exempt from punishment,” or shall be unpunished (Delitzsch, Zockler, Gesenius); cf. Pro_11:21, “The wicked shall not be unpunished (lo yinnakeh)” ashore. The verb nakah signifies rimarily “to be pure;” Bothe Vulgate tenders non erit mundus,” he will not be pure;” but the LXX. observes the secondary meaning of the verb, οὐκ ἀθωωθ ήσεται, non erit innoxius, “he shall not be let go unpunished,” the Alexandrine verb ἀθωο ́ω. Certain and the very heaviest punishment shall come upon him (see also Pro_17:5; Jer_25:29; Jer_49:12). With this explanation agree Gejerus and Vatablus.

John Trapp

Proverbs 6:29

Pro_6:29 So he that goeth in to his neighbour’s wife; whosoever toucheth her shall not be innocent.

Ver. 29. So he that goeth in to his neighbour’s wife.] That suspiciously converseth with her alone, though haply with no intent of corrupting her. Joseph shunned the company of his mistress; he would not be with her alone. {Gen_39:10} Chambering and secret familiarity with women is forbidden, as a deed of darkness and dishonesty. {Rom_13:13} How much more, then, wanton touches and dalliance! Sit not at all with another man’s wife; sit not down upon the bed with her, saith Siracides (chap. 9). Christ’s disciples marvelled that he talked with the woman of Samaria, solus cum sola, – saith Beza. {Joh_4:27} But he might do that which we must beware of lest concupiscence kindle. Abraham might see Sodom burning, but Lot might not look that way.

Shall not be innocent.] Shall not be held so, howsoever he shall suffer in his name, be he never so honest – besides that hereby he tempts the devil to tempt him to uncleanness. Now the proverb is, Oculus et lama non patiuntur iocos, A man’s eye and his name will bear no jest. And he was no fool that said, Negligere quid de se quisque sentiat, non solum arrogantis est, sed et dissoluti. He is not only a proud but a lewd person, that takes no thought what others think and talk of him. “Provide,” we must, “for things honest, not only before the Lord, but also before men.” {2Co_8:20-21}

Pulpit Commentary


But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding. The adversative “but” is wanting in the original, but is clearly demanded by the contrast which is instituted. The man who steals from hunger has a motive for so doing, but the adulterer has no such excuse for his crime, which is an unwarrantable invasion of his neighbour’s rights. Because there are honest ways for satisfying his desires, he therefore “lacketh understanding.” Committeth adultery with a woman; Hebrew, noeph ishshah; LXX; ὁ μοιχὸς; Vulgate, qui adulter est; i.e. an adulterer. The Hebrew naaph, “to commit adultery,” is here followed by an accusative, as in Le Pro_20:10 and Jer_29:23. Lacketh understanding; Hebrew, khasar-lev; deficit corde. The verb khaser is “to be devoid of anything,” “to lack.” The expression, which occurs again in Jer_7:7 aud Jer_9:4, refers to the brutish and stupid condition to which lust has reduced him. Lust has displaced right reason. He is expers judicii (Syriac), devoid of judgment, without intelligence, senseless and stupid. In modern phraseology, he has taken leave of his senses. Both the LXX. and Vulgate have combined the two branches of this verse, the former rendering, “But the adulterer, on account of want of intelligence, compasses the loss of his life,” and the latter, “But the adulterer, on account of want of intelligence, loses his life.” He that doeth it destroyeth his own soul; or literally, whoso will destroy his life he will do this, i.e. adultery. So Ariae Montani, Munsterus, Chaldee Targum. The man who commits adultery is a self-murderer. The phrase, mashkith naph’sho, corrumpens animam suam, may be resolved into the concrete “a self-destroyer,” as Delitzsch. The following verses seem to indicate that it is the temporal life which is referred to in nephesh, but the meaning of the term may be extended to embrace not only physical loss of life, but also moral and spiritual loss. By the Levitical Law adultery was punished by death: “The man that committeth adultery with another man’s wife … the adulterer and adulteress shall surely be put to death” (Le Jer_20:10; cf. Deu_22:22; Joh_8:4, Joh_8:5; see also 1Th_4:6).

Pulpit Commentary


A wound and dishonour shall he get; and his reproach shall not be wiped away. Two other things more immediate await the adulterer—personal chastisement and loss of reputation. It seems clear that “a wound” (Hebrew, negav, “a stroke” or “blow”), used here in the singular, collectively refers to the corporal punishment, which the outraged husband will inflict upon the adulterer (Delitzsch, Zockler. Lapide). (For the word, see Deu_17:8; Deu_21:5.) It may also have reference to the punishment inflicted by the Law. In the LXX. the idea is expressed by ὁδύνας, i.e. “pains,” and so gives colour to Lapide’s explanation of “afflictions of every kind” The Vulgate gives a moral turn to the meaning, and coordinates the word with “dishonour:” Turpitudinem et ignominiam congregat sibi, “Dishonour is the ignominious treatment he will receive on all hands.” The second part of the verse states that a brand of disgrace will be attached to his name which will be perpetual, not confined to this life only, but extending beyond it, so that men will never recall it but with this stigma (Patrick, Mercerus). On shall be … wiped away (Hebrew, timmakeh, the niph. future of makhah, “to wipe off, or away,” and in hiph. “to be blotted out,” equivalent to the Latin delere), see Deu_25:6; Eze_6:6; Jdg_21:17. The LXX. renders ἐξαλει φθήσεται, and adds, εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα, “forever.” The statements of the verse are illustrated by Horace, ‘Satires,’ lib. 1.2, 37, who describes the dangers and mishaps which befall the adulterer and fornicator.

Pulpit Commentary


For jealousy is the rage of a man: therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance. The first hemistich is adduced as a reason for what has preceded, while the concluding hemistich and the following and last verses are a deduction strengthening what has been stated before, and also showing that the punishment will be inevitable. The general consensus of commentators and texts is to connect the two hemistiches of this verse. Thus the LXX; Μεστὸς γὰρ ζήλου θυμὸς ἀνδρο ̀ς αὐτῆς οὐ φεισεται ἐν ἡμέρα κρίσεως, “For the wrath of her husband filled with jealousy shall not spare in the day of judgment;” the Vulgate, Quia zelus et furor viri non parcet in die vindictae, “For the jealousy and rage of a man shall not spare in the day of vengeance;” the Syriac, Nam quia furor mariti plenus est zelotypia non parcet in die retributionis, “For because rage of a husband is full of jealousy he shall not spare in the day of retribution.” So the Arabic, and the Tigarina Versio, and among the commentators Durandus. Dathe, Doderlein, Holden. But the Hebrew simply makes the statement, ki-kimah khamath-gaver, quia zelus excandescentia viri, i.e; as in the Authorized Version, “for jealousy is the rage of a man,” ki, equivalent to the Greek γὰρ, “for” and kinah is the subject of the sentence. The Hebrew kinah is “jealousy” as in Pro_27:4, “Who is able to stand before envy?” or, as margin, “jealousy.” The ordinary copulative verb “is” is best understood as connecting the subject and the predicate; “the rage of a man,” Hebrew kamath-gaver, as above, i.e. “the glow of a man’s anger” (Delitzsch), or “a man’s fierce anger” (Zockler). Jealousy awakens and inflames the wrath and anger of a man or husband to its highest pitch. It evokes the strongest feelings for revenge. Man; Hebrew, gaver, equivalent to ish, “a man,” in opposition to “a wife”—”a husband,” as here. The word is chiefly found in poetry. Its derivation, from gavar, “to be strong,” serves to bring out the idea also of the intensity or force of the jealousy—it burns or rages with all the might of the man. The latter part of the verse in the Hebrew is simply, “and he will not spare (v’lo-yakh’mol) in the day of vengeance.” The Authorized Version “therefore” serves to bring out the deduction, though it does net occur in the original. He will not spare; i.e. the injured husband will not show any clemency or mercy to the adulterer, the man who has wronged him so deeply. In the day of vengeance; Hebrew, b’yom nakam. The expression may refer to the time when the adulterer is brought before the judges, but more probably to every occasion on which the husband can exercise his vengeance. So Gejerus. For the expression, of. Isa_34:8, “The day of the Lord’s vengeance;” Job_20:28, “The day of his wrath;” and Pro_11:4, “The day of wrath.” Jealousy is implacable (see So Pro_8:6, “Jealousy is cruel as the grave”).


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