Proverbs 22
Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.
1. A good name] Heb. a name, as in Ecclesiastes 7:1. Comp. Sir 41:12 :

“Have regard to thy name;

For it continueth with thee longer than a thousand great treasures of gold.”

loving favour rather than] Or, favour is better than, A.V. and R.V. marg.

The rich and poor meet together: the LORD is the maker of them all.
2. Comp. Proverbs 29:13. The true remedy for social inequalities is not to abolish them, but to recognise Who it is that has appointed them, and the obligations of mutual consideration and respect which they involve.

A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.
3. foreseeth] Rather, seeth.

are punished] Rather, suffer for it., R.V. text. “Heb. are mulcted” R.V. marg.; ἐζημιώθησαν, LXX.; afflictus est damno, Vulg. The proverb occurs again Proverbs 27:12.

By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honour, and life.
4. By humility &c.] Rather, The reward of humility and (or, even) of the fear of the Lord. The copula and is dispensed with in the Heb. because of the similarity, amounting almost to identity, of humility and the fear of Jehovah. Comp. Matthew 5:3; Matthew 5:5.

Thorns and snares are in the way of the froward: he that doth keep his soul shall be far from them.
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
6. in the way he should go] Lit. according to his way. The injunction contemplates not only the broad principles of education, physical, intellectual, moral, spiritual, which are the same for all, but their adaptation to each particular case, in a careful study of individual character and capacity, and with a thoughtful regard to future course of life: “his way.”

The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.
7. servant] not necessarily by being sold to him as a slave (Leviticus 25:30. Comp. Jeremiah 34:13; Jeremiah 34:17); but more generally as being compelled to do his bidding.

He that soweth iniquity shall reap vanity: and the rod of his anger shall fail.
8. vanity] Better, with R.V. text, calamity; κακὰ, LXX.; mala, Vulg.

the rod of his anger] i.e. his power to vent his wrath upon others. Comp. Isaiah 14:6.

The LXX. add to this verse ἄνδρα ἱλαρὸν καὶ δότην εὐλογεῖ ὁ Θεὸς, which is quoted by St Paul, 2 Corinthians 9:7.

He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor.
9. bountiful] Lit. good, in contrast with an evil or grudging eye, Proverbs 23:6-7.

Cast out the scorner, and contention shall go out; yea, strife and reproach shall cease.
10. Cast out] The gloss of the LXX. illustrates the meaning of the proverb:

“Cast out of the assembly the scorner, and strife will go out with him,

For while he remains in the assembly he insults every one,”

and fills the assembly, we may add, with mutual abuse and recrimination.

He that loveth pureness of heart, for the grace of his lips the king shall be his friend.
11. for the grace of] If this rendering be retained, with both A.V. and R.V. text, it will mean that purity of heart, honest and good motives, will produce such winning speech as, by contrast with the empty and hollow flattery of the courtier, will conciliate the favour of the king. Comp. Proverbs 16:13, and Ecclesiastes 10:12 : “the words of the wise are gracious.”

We may render, however, with R.V. marg., “that hath grace in his lips,” and then the meaning will be that if he who has pure motives (loveth pureness of heart) has also a happy gift of expressing himself (grace in his lips), he will be sure to make the king his friend.

The eyes of the LORD preserve knowledge, and he overthroweth the words of the transgressor.
12. knowledge] R.V. rightly inserts him that hath, before knowledge.

transgressor] Rather, treacherous man, R.V.

The slothful man saith, There is a lion without, I shall be slain in the streets.
13. slain] or, more in accordance with the usual meaning of the Heb. word, murdered, R.V. The sluggard then offers two absurd excuses for not going forth to his business. ‘Without,’ he says, beyond the city walls, in the open country, ‘there is a lion,’ ready to tear me in pieces (comp. Jeremiah 5:6); even into ‘the streets’ I dare not venture, lest there some ruffian should ‘murder’ me.”

When, however, the proverb recurs (Proverbs 26:13), it is the lion that is the professed object of dread within the city:

The sluggard saith, There is a lion in the way,

A lion is in the streets.

The mouth of strange women is a deep pit: he that is abhorred of the LORD shall fall therein.
14. a deep pit] such as is dug by a hunter for his prey. Comp. Proverbs 23:27.

Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.
15. bound] Better, bound up, R.V. Comp., for the force of the Heb. word, Genesis 44:30.

He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches, and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want.
16. shall surely come] Or, cometh only, R.V. Two opposite methods of self-aggrandisement, grinding the poor and currying favour with the rich, have a common end in penury.

Some, however, would render, He that oppresseth the poor (does it) to increase his (the poor man’s) gain, because he urges him to fresh and successful effort; He that giveth to the rich (does it) only to (the rich man’s) want, because he encourages him in the sloth and indulgence which bring him to poverty. But this is far-fetched, and the suggestion that by oppressing your neighbour you may after all prove to be his benefactor is out of harmony with the moral tone of this Book.

Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart unto my knowledge.
17. the words of the wise] Comp. Proverbs 1:6, Proverbs 24:23.

III. Second Collection of Proverbs

Chap. Proverbs 22:17 to Proverbs 24:22A short Preface or Introduction, Proverbs 22:17-21.

The body of the Collection, Proverbs 22:22 to Proverbs 24:22.

17–21. This short paragraph is at once a conclusion and an introduction, a pause in the continuous teaching of the same Teacher, in which he sums up what had gone before, and opens the way for further instruction. In our present Hebrew text there is no break between the 16th and 17th verses of this chapter, but there is a slight break, to which however no special importance can be attached, between the 21st and 22nd verses. The R.V. is so printed as to indicate the commencement of a new section at Proverbs 22:17, and of a fresh paragraph at Proverbs 22:22.

On the characteristics of the Section see Introduction, pp. 36, 37.

For it is a pleasant thing if thou keep them within thee; they shall withal be fitted in thy lips.
18. they shall withal be fitted in] Rather, if they be established together upon, R.V.; i.e. if being kept securely in thy heart they dwell constantly on thy lips.

That thy trust may be in the LORD, I have made known to thee this day, even to thee.
19. made known] The R.V. made them known, makes the sense a little clearer.

Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge,
20. excellent things] The word has been thought to denote the chief of the three persons who formed the complement of an ancient war-chariot, and so to mean principal or excellent. In Proverbs 8:6 “excellent things” are literally princely things or words. The LXX. and Vulg., however, render the word literally, “thrice,” or “in threefold form,” τρισσῶς, tripliciter, possibly with the idea of reiteration to impress the lesson. Comp. Acts 10:16.

Another reading is heretofore, or long ago. If this be adopted, the reference may be either to the earlier sections of this Book, or to the fact that what is now promulgated had been committed to writing long ago, and was therefore no hasty utterance.

This passage has borne a prominent part in the history of Biblical exegesis. By it, understood (with the LXX. and Vulg. quoted above) of “threefold” teaching, or teaching “in triple form,” Origen supported his doctrine of the threefold meaning of Holy Scripture. “By Solomon in the Proverbs,” he writes, “we find some such rule as this enjoined respecting the divine doctrines of Scripture: ‘And do thou portray them in a threefold manner, in counsel and knowledge, to answer words of truth to them who propose them to thee.’ ” And so, he adds, comparing the threefold sense of Scripture to the tripartite division of man into body, soul and spirit, the simple will be edified, “by the flesh,” or obvious sense of Scripture, and the more advanced by its “soul,” while the perfect (1 Corinthians 2:6-7) may attain to the spiritual law itself, De Princip. Bk. iv. ch. 1.

That I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee?
21. send unto thee] Rather, send thee, with A.V. marg. and R.V.

The verse is well rendered in the Rel. Tract. Society’s Annotated Bible:

“To teach thee truth, even words of faithfulness;

That thou mayest bring back faithful words to them that send thee”; i.e. to train thee in truthfulness, that thou mayest be faithful and trustworthy in whatever business thou art employed.

Rob not the poor, because he is poor: neither oppress the afflicted in the gate:
The body of the Collection

Chap. Proverbs 22:22 to Proverbs 24:2222. because] Which may either mean, Do not let his poverty and consequent defencelessness be a temptation to thee to wrong him, or, Let it be a motive with thee to abstain through pity from doing so. The latter meaning is indicated in R.V. marg. by rendering for, instead of because. πτωχὸς γάρ ἐστι, LXX.

the gate] The place of business (Genesis 34:20), and of judgement, (Deuteronomy 21:19).

For the LORD will plead their cause, and spoil the soul of those that spoiled them.
23. soul] Rather, life.

And despoil of life those that despoil them, R.V.

Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go:
24. an angry man] Better, a man that is given to anger, R.V. Lit a lord of anger. ἀνδρὶ θυμώδει, LXX.; homini iracundo, Vulg.

furious] Rather, wrathful, R.V.

Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul.
Be not thou one of them that strike hands, or of them that are sureties for debts.
26. strike hands] i.e. as a surety. See Proverbs 6:1 note.

If thou hast nothing to pay, why should he take away thy bed from under thee?
27. he] i.e. the creditor.

Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.
28. Comp. Proverbs 23:10; Deuteronomy 19:14.

Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.
29. stand before] Comp. 1 Kings 10:8.

mean] “Heb. obscure” R.V. marg.

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