Proverbs 2:4
If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;
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(4) If thou seekest her as silver.—That the process of mining was understood long before the time of Solomon, is proved by the remains of copper mines discovered in the peninsula of Sinai, and the gold mines in the Bisháree desert of Egypt. Rock inscriptions have been found near the former, dating from a great age, in the opinion of Lepsius from 4000 B.C. (See the article “Mines,” in Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible; comp. also the description in Job 28:1-11.) Silver was brought to Solomon from Arabia (2Chronicles 9:14) and Tarshish (2Chronicles 9:21), probably Tartessus, in Spain.

Searchest for her as for hid treasures.—From the great insecurity of life and property in Eastern countries, the hiding of treasures in the earth has always been of frequent occurrence. It would often, no doubt, happen that the owner would die without disclosing the place of concealment to any one else, and the treasure thus be lost. Hunting after such hoards has in consequence been always of the keenest interest to Orientals, and as such furnishes the groundwork for one of our Lord’s parables (Matthew 13:44).

2:1-9 Those who earnestly seek heavenly wisdom, will never complain that they have lost their labour; and the freeness of the gift does not do away the necessity of our diligence, Joh 6:27. Let them seek, and they shall find it; let them ask, and it shall be given them. Observe who are thus favoured. They are the righteous, on whom the image of God is renewed, which consists in righteousness. If we depend upon God, and seek to him for wisdom, he will enable us to keep the paths of judgment.Note the illustrations.

(1) Contact with Phoenician commerce, and joint expeditions in ships of Tarshish (see Psalm 72:10 note), had made the Israelites familiar with the risks and the enterprise of the miller's life. Compare Job 28:p>(2) The treasure hidden in a field, is the second point of comparison. Such treasure-seeking has always been characteristic of the East. Compare Matthew 13:44.

4. There must be earnest prayer and effort. With the same unwearied diligence, and earnest desire, and patient expectation under all delays, disappointments, and difficulties, which worldlings use in the purchase of riches, or in digging in mines of silver.

If thou seekest her as silver,.... That is, wisdom, knowledge, and understanding; which all signify and relate unto one and the same thing, expressed here by "her": namely, the doctrine of wisdom, or Christ; that is, the Gospel, and a spiritual and experimental knowledge and understanding of it, and the truths thereof; which are as desirable and valuable as silver, and more so; and which may be fitly compared to it, and be preferred before it, for their purity, solidity, and duration; see Psalm 119:72; and are to be sought after with as much and more eagerness, affection, and diligence, as silver is by those who are most covetous of it, Proverbs 8:10;

and searchest for her as for hid treasures; the Gospel is a treasure, 2 Corinthians 4:7; an accumulation of riches. It contains rich truths, things valuable for their antiquity; for being far fetched and dearly bought, coming from heaven, and sealed by the blood of Christ, and the holy martyrs of Jesus; and for the abundance of them; there are treasures of wisdom and knowledge in the Gospel, and in Christ the sum and substance of it, who is full of truth as well as grace, Colossians 2:3. It contains rich blessings of grace, such as are spiritual, solid, and substantial, sure and irreversible; and a multitude of them, Romans 15:29; and also rich promises, exceeding great and precious ones; which are absolute and unconditional, suited to the various cases of God's people, and sure to all the seed: and it reveals the riches of God's goodness, his special goodness in Christ; the unsearchable riches of Christ; and the riches both of grace and glory. And under this notion of a treasure is it to be searched for, and as an hid treasure; in allusion to what is laid up in the cabinets of princes, or lies in the bowels of the earth, as precious stones: Pliny (m) says, that "topazin", in the language of the Troglodytes, has the signification of seeking, because "topazes" are diligently sought for and searched after; See Gill on Job 28:19. The Gospel, and the truths of it, were greatly hid under the former dispensation from the Gentile world, and very much from the Jews themselves; being wrapped up in dark prophecies, obscure hints, and shadowy types and sacrifices; and are now, and always were, entirely hid from the wicked and reprobate part of the world, from them that are lost, and from God's own elect before conversion. This is "the fellowship of the mystery" that was "hid in God", in his heart, from all eternity, Ephesians 3:9, the truths of it are the "treasures of wisdom and knowledge hid" in Christ, Colossians 2:3; and likewise the "treasure hid in the field" of the Scriptures, Matthew 22:44; which therefore are to be searched into for them, with like labour and resolution with which men dig into the earth, to find the rich ore that is in the bowels of it: and this should be done by diligent reading them; by frequent and deep meditation on them; by constant hearing the truths of the Gospel preached; by earnest prayer for the illumination of the divine Spirit to understand them; and by all the help of the writings of good men, and conversation with them, that can be had. These are things to be sought for and searched after, in the first place, in the early time of life; and with the utmost diligence and labour, as being of the greatest moment and importance.

(m) Nat. Hist. l. 37. c. 8.

If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid {d} treasures;

(d) Showing that no labour must be spared.

4. as silver … hid treasures] It has been supposed that there is reference here to the eagerness and effort connected with the discovery and working of a silver mine, and to the search for treasure hidden in the earth. See, for example, Dean Plumptre’s interesting note on this verse in the Speaker’s Commentary. It may well be doubted, however, whether by silver be not rather meant, money, or wealth, generally. LXX. ἀργύριον, Vulg. pecuniam. Comp. φιλαργυρία, 1 Timothy 6:10; ἀφιλάργυρος, Hebrews 13:5. (See Smith’s Bible Dict., Art. Silver: “its chief use was as a medium of exchange, and throughout the O.T. we find ceseph, silver, used for money, like the Fr. argent.”) We are told that silver, as a metal, was “nothing accounted of in the days of Solomon,” 1 Kings 10:21. So again it is doubtful whether any great stress is to be laid upon “hid treasures” (Matthew 13:44). The word here is lit. “hidden things,” and so, treasures, because we hide them for safety (Genesis 43:23, A.V. and R.V. Comp. Isaiah 45:3). The LXX. render ἐὰνὡς θησαυροὺς ἐξερευνήσῃς, Vulg. si … sicut thesauros effoderis. It is rather the value set upon Wisdom, than the difficulty of search for her that is here in view. She is a gift, after all (Proverbs 2:6), though a gift to those only who seek her diligently (Luke 11:5-13).

Verse 4. - If thou seekest, etc. The climax in the series of conditions is reached in this verse; and the imagery employed in both clauses indicates that the search after Wisdom is to be persevering, unrelaxing, and diligent, like the unremitting toil and labour with which men carry on mining operations. "To seek" (בָּקַשׁ, bakash) in the original is properly "to seek diligently" (piel), and is kindred to "to search" (קָפַשׂ, khaphas), which again is equivalent to "to dig" (חָפַר, khaphar), the Vulgate effodere, "to dig out." Compare the expression in Job 3:21, "And dig for it more than for hid treasures." We trace in these verbs the idea in the mind of the teacher indicated above, which finds expression also in the object of the search, the silver, in its crude state, and the hidden treasures (מַטְמֹנִים mat'monim), i.e. the treasures of gold, silver, and precious metal concealed in the earth. The comparison here made between the search for Wisdom and the search for the hidden treasures of the earth was not unfamiliar to the Hebrew mind, as it is found worked out with great beauty of detail in the twenty-eighth chapter of Job. Again, the comparison of Wisdom with things most precious in the estimation of man is natural and common, and occurs in Psalm 119:72; Job 28:15-19. The same ideas and comparisons here used are presented to us in the New Testament teaching, in our Lord's parable of the man who finds the hid treasure in the field, and, in the phraseology of St. Paul, who speaks of "all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge," and of "the unsearchable riches of Christ." "Divine knowledge is an inexhaustible mine of precious ore" (Wardlaw). The language of the Proverbs would receive additional three from the circumstances of the reign of Solomon, the most splendid and prosperous era in the annals of the Jewish national history, in the means taken to secure the treasures of other and distant countries; the wealth and the riches of that reign (see 2 Chronicles 9:20-22) would help to bring out the idea of the superlative value of Wisdom. In no era of the Jewish national history was there such abundance of riches, such splendid prosperity, as in the reign of Solomon, whose ships of Tarshish brought "gold and silver" (see 2 Chronicles 9:20-22), and this state of things would give point to the comparisons which the teacher uses in our text. Proverbs 2:4Instead of כּי אם there is an old אל תקרי

(Note: Regarding this formula, see Strack's Prolegomena, pp. 66-70.)

(read not so, but thus), כי אם (if thou callest understanding mother), which supposes the phrase כי אם (lxx) as traditional. If אם were intended (according to which the Targ. in the Bibl. rabbinica, but not in Norzi's text, translates), then 3b would correspond; vid., Proverbs 7:4, cf. Job 17:14. Thus: Yea, if thou callest for understanding, i.e., callest her to thee (Proverbs 18:6), invitest her to thee (Proverbs 9:15). The ק of בּקּשׁ is, with the exception of the imper. (e.g., בּקּשׁוּ), always without the Dagesh. Proverbs 2:4 belongs to the ideas in the Book of Job found in these introductory discourses, cf. Job 3:21, as at Proverbs 2:14, Job 3:22 (Ewald, Sprche, p. 49). חפשׂ (חפּשׂ), scrutari, proceeds, as חפס shows, from the primary meaning of a ditch, and is thus in its root-idea related to חפר (to dig, search out). In the principal clause of Proverbs 2:5 the 'יראת ה, as Psalm 19:10, is the fear of Jahve as it ought to be, thus the reverence which is due to Him, the worshipping of Him as revealed. 'ה and אלהים are interchanged as קדשׁים and 'ה at Proverbs 9:10. דּעת is knowledge proceeding from practice and experience, and thus not merely cognition (Kenntnis), but knowledge (Erkenntnis). The thoughts revolve in a circle only apparently. He who strives after wisdom earnestly and really, reaches in this way fellowship with God; for just as He gives wisdom, it is nowhere else than with Him, and it never comes from any other source than from Him. It comes (Proverbs 2:6) מפּיו (lxx erroneously מפּניו ylsuoe), i.e., it is communicated through the medium of His word, Job 22:22, or also (for λὀγος and πνεῦμα lie here undistinguished from one another) it is His breath (Book of Wisdom 7:25: ἀτμὶς τῆς τοῦ Θεοῦ δυνάμεως καὶ ἀπόῤῥοια τῆς τοῦ παντοκράτορος δόξης εἰλικρινής); the inspiration (נשׁמת) of the Almighty (according to Job 32:8) gives men understanding. In Proverbs 2:7, whether וצפן (Chethı̂b) or יצפּן (Kerı̂) is read, the meaning is the same. The former is the expression of the completed fact, as ἡτοίμασεν, 1 Corinthians 2:9, and is rightly preferred by lxx and Syr., for one reluctantly misses the copula (since the thought is new in comparison with Proverbs 2:6). לישׁרם should be written with the accent Dech. The Chokma-word (besides in Proverbs and Job, found only in Micah 6:9 and Isaiah 28:29) תּוּשׁיּה is a Hiphil formation (with the passing over of into , as in תּוּגה) from הושׁה (whence the pr. names יושׁה and יושׁויה) equals (Arab.) wasy and âsy, to re-establish, to advance, Hiph. of ישׁה equals ושׁה, to stand, and thus means furtherance, i.e., the power or the gift to further, and concretely that which furthers and profits, particularly true wisdom and true fortune.

(Note: I was formerly in error in regarding the word as a Hophal formation, and in assigning to it the primary signification of being in a state of realized existence, of reality, in contradistinction to appearance only. The objection of J. D. Michaelis, Supplem. p. 1167, Non placent in linguis ejusmodi etyma metaphysica, etc., does not apply here, since the word is a new one coined by the Chokma, but all the shades of meaning are naturally derived from the fundamental signification "furtherance" (cf. Seneca, Deus stator stabilitorque est). "תושׁיה, from Arab. âsy and wasy, to further by word and deed, to assist by counsel and act, to render help, whence the meanings auxilium, salus, and prudens consilium, sapientia, easily follow; cf. Ali's Arab. proverb, "He furthers thee, who does not trouble himself about thee.")

The derivation from ישׁ (Proverbs 8:21) is to be rejected, because "the formation would be wholly without analogy, so much the more because the י of this word does not represent the place of the ו, as is seen from the Arab. l-ys and the Syr. lyt" (Fl.);

(Note: The Arab. ‛aysa (almost only in the negative la-ysa equals לא ישׁ), of the same signification as ישׁ, with which the Aram. אית (איתי) is associated, presupposes an ‛âsa ( equals ‛âssa), to be founded, to found, and is rightly regarded by the Arabs as an old segolate noun in which the verbal force was comprehended.)

and the derivation of ושׁה equals שׁוה, to be smooth (Hitzig), passes over without any difficulty into another system of roots.

(Note: The Arab. wsy and swy are confounded in common usage (Wetstein, Deutsch. Morgenl. Zeitschr. xxii. 19), but the roots וש and שו are different; וש and אש, on the contrary, are modifications of one root.)

In the passage under consideration (Proverbs 2:7), תּוּשׁיּה signifies advancement in the sense of true prosperity. The parallel passage 7a clothes itself in the form of an apposition: (He) a shield (מגן, n. instr. of גּנן, to cover) for הלכי תּם, pilgrims of innocence (Fl.), i.e., such as walk in the way (the object-accus., as Proverbs 6:12, for which in Proverbs 10:9 בּ) of innocence. תּם is whole, full submission, moral faultlessness, which chooses God with the whole heart, seeks good without exception: a similar thought is found in Psalm 84:12. לנצר, 8a, is such an inf. of consequence as להקשׁיב (Proverbs 2:2), and here, as there, is continued in the finite. The "paths of justice" are understood with reference to those who enter them and keep in them; parallel, "the way of His saints" (חסיד, he who cherishes חסד, earnest inward love to God), for that is just ארח־צדקה (Proverbs 12:28): they are הלכי צדקות (Isaiah 33:15). Instead of the Mugrash, the conjunctive Tarcha is to be given to ודרך.

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