The Book of Proverbs, chapter eleven, with BAC (Brit-Am Commentary).
Proverbs 11:1-4 Honesty is the best Policy.
This Book of Proverbs is a very valuable work. It is the first book of ethics we have that we feel easy with.
Other works may have existed but they are no longer with us.
Your forefathers were from the Ten Tribes but they lost contact with their sources.
The Bible gave it back to them.
Historically the Bible is the oldest work of literature we have.
We have had it so long that we may regard it also as our own as well as that of the Ancient Hebrews.
The Ancient Hebrews may also have been the forefathers of most of us. This should eventually become clear to all.
The Book of Proverbs deserves to be treasured and utilized. It is tool God has given us to use.
[Proverbs 11:1] Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord,
But a just weight is His delight.
This is true on its simplest level. One should not cheat. Business should be straight and honest.
One should also be fair, fair to oneself and fair to others.
By being honest and fair one builds up a barrier that may prevent others from cheating you or stop yourself from being susceptible to cheating.
We sometimes give in to evil because we cannot find the power to resist. Our inner mind tells us that what is being done to us is parallel to what we have done to others, so why fight it?
This attitude is not logical and not justified but it is how we think. It is reality. Through honesty our powers of resistance increase. It is also better for business. Others sense surety in dealing with you. You will be preferred even if what you offer seems otherwise less competitive.
God Himself will be happy with you as the verse says.
God wants that matters go well with you. By being honest and preparing the capacity to receive a blessing it is as if you are helping the Almighty do what HE want to do, i.e. do good for you.
weight. In Hebrew "even". Literally this word is usually taken to mean a block or stone or a weight.
S.R. Hirsch linked the word even to the root BNH to form or build.
We have the English word "even". I believe that this word is derived from the Hebrew.
We looked up the etymology of the English word "even" in Wiktionary, a Wiki-based open content dictionary.
This is what we received:
From Middle English, from Old English efen, efn, emn (even, equal, like, level, just, impartial, true), from Proto-Germanic *ebnaz (flat, level, even; equal, straight), from Proto-Indo-European *(h )emno- (equal, straight; flat, level, even?). Cognate with West Frisian even (even), Dutch even (even, equal, same?), German eben (even, flat, level), Danish j?n (even, flat, smooth), Swedish j?n (even, level, smooth), Icelandic jafn, jamn (even, equal), Old Cornish eun (equal, right) (attested in Vocabularium Cornicum eun-hinsic (?iustus, i. e., just)), Old Breton eun (equal, right) (attested in Eutychius Glossary eunt (aequus, i. e., equal)), Middle Breton effn, Breton eeun, Sanskrit
These equivalents are all based on conjecture.
The English word is closer to the Hebrew in sound and maybe even in meaning. This is what we are used to.
It is interesting that in Old English there was a related word emn meaning "even, equal, like, level, just, impartial, true". This too may be related to the Hebrew. We have the word root AMN indicating truth, affirmation, faith, trust. This is where we get the word Amen at the end of prayers from.
an abomination to the Lord. When we are dishonest we loose or greatly weaken our connection to the Almighty.
When we are honest we strengthen it.
Honesty is a way of serving the Almighty in its own right. It is just as important as praying.
His delight. In Hebrew rastono, literally "what HE wants". This is what God wants.
[Proverbs 11:2] When pride comes, then comes shame;
But with the humble is wisdom.
This is true as it says. It is also logical. Someone who is humble will keep their mind on the task at hand. He will not be too proud to correct things that need correction.
he will also not despair when encountering initial failure.
Despair is linked with pride.
Despair comes when our pride will not let us face tragedy or failure so we tend to give up.
Even so this is a human tendency and may none of us ever need to be tested on this matter.
95 times out of a hundred it is better to swallow ones pride and keep going.
On the other hand false pride is also liable to cause us to keep going along a certain course when we should have changed track long ago.
[Proverbs 11:3] The integrity of the upright will guide them,
But the perversity of the unfaithful will destroy them.
The integrity of the upright. In Hebrew "toomat Yisharim".
Toomat in Hebrew connotes simplicity and wholeness. This where our word tame comes from.
Yisharim in Hebrew means the Upright. It is from the root YShR connoting straight and upright.
We have a related word in Hebrew ASHAR meaning to confirm.
We have the English words assure and sure that have exactly the same meaning.
Wiktionary. Etymology. tells us:
From Old French asseurer (Modern French assurer), from Latin ad- + securus ('secure').
Now why does the English word read and sound so much more like the Hebrew than its supposed Latin source?
[Proverbs 11:4 Riches do not profit in the day of wrath,
But righteousness delivers from death.
righteousness. In Hebrew "Tsadakah". This word may indeed be translated from the Biblical Hebrew as righteousness.
In colloquial Hebrew it is used to denote "charity" in the sense of giving money to help others. This usage also has Biblical roots.
"Tsadakaeh tatsilme-movet" is a well-known Hebrew saying.
It means that the giving of charity may save from death.
These concepts are all linked: Someone who is humble will not look down on those less fortunate than themselves. They will give money to help others and for good works.
They will not swell with pride over this. They will rather increase their feeling of humility.
This will give them meaning in life, a new push to keep going, zest.
They will receive a message from their inner voice that Divine Providence has attributed them merit. They will be repaid when they most need to be.
Proverbs 11 :5-6 Choice and Reality.
[Proverbs 11:5] The righteousness of the blameless will direct his way aright,
But the wicked will fall by his own wickedness.
will direct. Hebrew "ti-yashar" i.e. will make straight. Often in order to be honest certain actions are necessary that later help towards success.
When someone transgresses they usually assume they may get away with it.
The entertainment industry often shows people doing wrong or engaging in questionable activities with nothing bad happening to them.
The choice then becomes as to whether to do the same deeds (and receive some gratification) or not.
The reality is a bit different.
If one willfully offends against Natural Morality i.e. the Law of God certain restraints are liberated.
One is later liable to discover that other forces have now been allowed to use oneself in ways that previously would not have been.
The Measure for Measure means that liberty is lost.
It may be lost to sickness, psychological barriers, or social imperative.
The true choice is between on the one hand:
(a) Doing something wrong, possibly receiving some gratification (and possibly not), and then paying a punishing price.
(b) Not doing wrong but acting right, avoiding punishment, and receiving reward.
A good portion of those present (i.e. myself and subscribers) are neither great saints nor extreme sinners.
Most of us have had some experience on both sides of the fence.
At the least we have been placed in positions of observation.
Those of us who are honest to themselves will admit that the above description of the options open is the correct one.
[Proverbs 11:6] The righteousness of the upright will deliver them,
But the unfaithful will be caught by their lust.
A person who is caught up in lusts and desires whether in the form of drugs, sex, or money, or something else, will often see disaster approaching.
His wants however and the psychological set-up he has entered into will prevent him making an escape even though if he so wished he could.
Proverbs 11 :7-10 The Reward of Righteousness.
We saw above that a person has two choices i.e. (a) Do evil and be punished OR (b) do good, avoid punishment, and receive reward.
We also have seen that evil often brings evil with it. The Punishment may be an automatic concomitant of the evil itself.
Nevertheless, the ideal is that we obey God and do good for the sake of it. It is the right thing to do, - so we do it.
Not all of us however reach this level of consciousness. Even if we do attain such a height we may not always stay on it.
We therefore require the realization that reward and punishment are a reality. This helps reinforce our innate will to do right.
[Proverbs 11:7] When a wicked man dies, his expectation will perish,
And the hope of the unjust perishes.
That is it. That is the end of it. Wickedness is death. A wicked person will no longer see the fruits of his desires.
When you die you assumedly know the truth as what the reality was.
If one believed in falsehood then in death the truth will be known.
A wicked person in their own lifetime often realizes that his path is worthless and harmful to themself. Usuaylly however they have tied themselves up to so many extraneous factors that it would be difficult to break free, so they stay where they are and get more involved. Then they die and with death comes freedom from the falsehood they have helped create.
[Proverbs 11:8] The righteous is delivered from trouble,
And it comes to the wicked instead.
A righteous person saves themselves from punishment. They avoid disaster. Sometimes however the righteous suffer. Our studies on the Book of Job explore this issue.
It sometimes happens that suffering may be decreed against a person for anyone of a myriad interconnected reasons.
Maybe your forefathers sinned or your offspring will sin and you inner soul has agreed to pay part of the price for them?
Maybe you did something way back in the past but did not pay at the time.
Or you did or said something recently that you yourself did not attach much importance to but in heaven it is taken seriously?
Maybe you need to rectify some trait of personality and need suffering to do so?
If you are righteous and make an effort to be righteous then suffering that may have been decreed could be commuted.
A righteous person will correct what needs correcting without the need for suffering as a catalyst.
Proverbs implies that suffering that has been sent into the world and which should have afflicted a righteous man may instead be visited upon the wicked.
[Proverbs 11:9] The hypocrite with his mouth destroys his neighbor,
But through knowledge the righteous will be delivered.
hypocrite. In Hebrew "chonef" literally a flatterer. Beware of flattery and of people who flatter you. We are all human. We like to be appreciated. Life can be hard and we bear it in silence. Then there comes along somebody who understands and sympathizes and even appreciates our efforts. This may be encouraging. It could be someone who has a genuine liking for us or who pretends to have.
It may be someone who is manipulating us for their own ends or to hurt us. Or it may another who genuinely identifies with what we are but unconsciously pushes us further downhill in a negative direction.
More commonly it is someone who has problems, identifies a similar weakness in ourselves and subconsciously works to prevent us from rectifying what we should.
Open your eyes. Obtain knowledge. Know what the situation is and act accordingly.
[Proverbs 11:10] When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices;
And when the wicked perish, there is jubilation.
Be righteous, succeed, and do well. Then everyone will be happy.
If you are wicked it as if you have a debt. When disaster comes upon the wicked other people feel relief.
Wickedness is oppression and disturbance. No-one in their hearts really wants it.
Proverbs 11:11-31 Some Comparisons of the Good and Bad.
Do good and good will come to you. Do bad and bad will come. This is a major theme in the Book of Proverbs.
[Proverbs 11:11] By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted,
But it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked.
Through the actions and goodwill of the righteous ordinary people and civic concourse is invigorated.
Purification leads to invigoration. This is contagious and has a beneficial effect on everyone.
[Proverbs 11:12] He who is devoid of wisdom despises his neighbor,
But a man of understanding holds his peace.
Someone who does not understand what they themselves are will despise others.
neighbor. In Hebrew "rayayhe" i.e. his fellow.
Often what we see as despicable in others is found in ourselves.
[Proverbs 11:13] A talebearer reveals secrets,
But he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter.
[Proverbs 11:14] Where there is no counsel, the people fall;
But in the multitude of counselors there is safety.
A lot of advisors may be of great help.
Chaim Hayman tells us that President Reagan was not a great intellectual. He realized his own shortcomings, found good advisors and listened to them.
Consequently history may well consider him to have been one of the greatest Heads of State the world has ever had!
President Ronald Reagan and Belief in the Ten Tribes.
Another leader who uses a lot of advisors and listens to them is the PM of Israel, Binyamin Netanyahu.
Netanyahu is an intellectual. He also may have character faults. It is claimed he changes his advisors and staff around frequently.
Nevertheless he also finds experts and pays heed to them.
Agree with him or disagree with him a lot of his moves are well thought out.
From an apparently losing position he frequently turns the tables around in the bat of an eye.
No-one seems to know what he really wants to do and maybe he prefers it that way.
[Proverbs 11:15] He who is surety for a stranger will suffer,
But one who hates being surety is secure.
The beginning of this verse in the Hebrew says Ra YeROa. This is a play on words. For some reason this whole expression has been deleted from the English RKJV Translation we use.
Ra means bad or evil. YeROa from a similar word root, RAA, could mean either "will do bad" or "will be broken".
Both understandings are pertinent. Those who are bad do badly.
Rabaynu Yonah (i.e. "Our Rabbi Yonah" a popular title given to Yonah ben Abraham Gerondi died 1263, from Catalonia in North Spain) says that the evil person shall be broken.
He will be like someone who gave a financial guarantee for a stranger who ran out on him. So too, someone who puts his trust in bad attitudes will have them turn against him.
Giving guarantees can be a problem. I do not know how it is like now in the USA but in the past in Israel most people could not buy a house without taking out a mortgage.
Paying the mortgage would often turn out cheaper than paying the rent would have. This is still the case. From that point of view the price of the house is less important than ability to make the mortgage payments. The money is going to be paid out anyway.
Mortgages are not given without guarantors.
Sometimes the guarantors end up having to pay the debt or at the least feel threatened with having to do so.
At all events King Solomon (who wrote the Book of Proverbs) would appear to be advising against such actions especially when the person being guaranteed is not part of your immediate circle.
King Solomon does not be mean. On the contrary he says be generous BUT do not harm youself.
King Solomon is not hard hearted or stingy as we will see below. Solomon tells us that not only is honesty the best policy but so is generosity and largeness of spirit.
This reminds us that King Solomon was the King of Israel. He wrote the Book of Proverbs. King Solomon like his father David felt the needs of his people. He wanted things to go well for them. That is why he wrote this book. The Book of Proverbs is not a set of injunctions and exhortations meant to make life difficult. Just the opposite.
[Proverbs 11:16] A gracious woman retains honor,
But ruthless men retain riches.
The first part of this verse may also be read to say, A woman who retains honor is gracious.
gracious. In Hebrew "chayn" (hayn) which also means favor, empathy, charm. An honorable woman is respected.
ruthless men. In Hebrew "aritsem". People who are insensitive and harsh may acquire wealth but honor is what they lack.
Their riches remain with them.
[Proverbs 11:17] The merciful man does good for his own soul,
But he who is cruel troubles his own flesh.
This message is repeated with variations throughout this work. When you do good to others you help yourself as well.
his own flesh. In Hebrew "she-aro". This may also mean one's spouse or children. A cruel person will upset their own wife or husband and their children.
We may also learn from this that to trouble members of your own family is a mark of cruelty.
For educational and other persons we may need sometimes to rebuke family members.
If however the rebukes are of questionable validity and/or not efficacious perhaps we should keep silent?
[Proverbs 11:18] The wicked man does deceptive work,
But he who sows righteousness will have a sure reward.
Deceptive work is wicked.
[Proverbs 11:19] As righteousness leads to life,
So he who pursues evil pursues it to his own death.
[Proverbs 11:20] Those who are of a perverse heart are an abomination to the Lord,
But the blameless in their ways are His delight.
God wants you to succeed spiritually and materially. HE wants you to do right and to do well.
[Proverbs 11:21] Though they join forces, the wicked will not go unpunished;
But the posterity of the righteous will be delivered.
Do good, be righteous. You will be rewarded in this life and the next. Your offspring and/or those dear to you will also benefit.
[Proverbs 11:22] As a ring of gold in a swine's snout,
So is a lovely woman who lacks discretion.
In the Hebrew this may be alternately rendered as,
Like a golden ring in the snout of a pig, so is a beautiful woman without taste.
The word we translated as "taste" in Hebrew is "ta-am" which means taste but may also connote reason and rationality.
Also in English the word "taste" may have the following alternate meanings:
a. The faculty of discerning what is aesthetically excellent or appropriate.
b. A manner indicative of the quality of such discernment: a room furnished with superb taste.
a. The sense of what is proper, seemly, or least likely to give offense in a given social situation.
b. A manner indicative of the quality of this sense.
The Free Dictionary by Farlex.
A beautiful woman has a gift from heaven. She should act accordingly.
[Proverbs 11:23] The desire of the righteous is only good,
But the expectation of the wicked is wrath.
wrath. In Hebrew "evrah". Wicked people often want bad things to happen.
They do not really care if disaster overtakes others as long as they might be enabled to satisfy their lusts.
You should be aware of this. Avoid linking up with those who are wicked.
[Proverbs 11:24] There is one who scatters, yet increases more;
And there is one who withholds more than is right,
But it leads to poverty.
[Proverbs 11:25] The generous soul will be made rich,
And he who waters will also be watered himself.
This happens a lot. Successful businessmen especially of the kind who start off with nothing become successful by giving more.
If you give to others you will receive.
My father owned a series of food and newspaper shops. He was never really rich but relatively speaking when compared to the people he lived amongst he was well off.
He told me, that the adage, "The customer is always right" is correct.
He made a point of giving at least that which was paid for, sometimes more.
He also on principle always paid his workers in excess of what the accepted wage was supposed to be.
I have other members of my family who follow the same directive.
[Proverbs 11:26] The people will curse him who withholds grain,
But blessing will be on the head of him who sells it.
When you have the ability to help others do so. Especially if you are to be paid for it.
If you have what others need and do not need it yourself it might in fact belong by rights to them. You shopuld see yourself as an intermediary who gets paid as such.
[Proverbs 11:27] He who earnestly seeks good finds favor,
But trouble will come to him who seeks evil.
[Proverbs 11:28] He who trusts in his riches will fall,
But the righteous will flourish like foliage.
The righteous will blossom forth.
[Proverbs 11:29] He who troubles his own house will inherit the wind,
And the fool will be servant to the wise of heart.
Do not cause disturbances in your family. Be positive. This is your own realm. Do what you can to make it run well.
The Bible is a source of life, taste it frequently.
[Proverbs 11:30] The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,
And he who wins souls is wise.
[Proverbs 11:31] If the righteous will be recompensed on the earth,
How much more the ungodly and the sinner.
This verse has metaphysical implications.
It also may be understood at several levels.
One understanding is:
If the righteous get rewarded in this world how much more so will the wicked be ultimately punished.
Another (somewhat contradictory) explanation is that:
The righteous are to receive their main reward in the next life. Even so, the righteous will also be recompensed in this life for the good they have done.
The wicked, on the other hand, will not receive reward in the next world but will be punished. The wicked should therefore be even more rewarded in this world for whatever good they may have done.
The wicked have only this world. They therefore deserve to be requited here and now for anything positive they may have effected. This may be all they are ever liable to get.