Brit-Am/Hebrew Nations Notes and Commentary
Proverbs 23: 1-3. Pay Attention to Others!
1 If you sit down to eat with a ruler,
observe carefully who is before you,
Pay attention to the person who is your host and how welcome to eat you really are (Rashi).
2 and put a knife to your throat
if you have a big appetite.
3 Do not lust after his delicacies,
for they are deceptive food.
This is a difficult passage. Pay attention to the person giving you the food more than to the food itself.
Remember that what you are eating is that of the person giving it to you and be careful.
Pay attention to others even when they seem to want to concentrate the conversation on you.
Do not fall into the trap of being the center of attention.
Really influential people are often those who give a good feeling to others.
The example of the ruler and the mutual meal with him is analogous to other matters.
Proverbs 23: 4-9 Biblical Self-Respect is True Honor!
4 Do not weary yourself to become rich,
from your own understanding desist.
The message seems to be that one should work to fulfill given needs.
Beyond that may not be entirely within our abilities or consistent with our own good.
5 If your eyes light upon it, it is gone;
for it takes wings to itself,
like an eagle flying into the heavens.
Money is liable to disappear suddenly. This applies especially to surplus funds or moeny that you think is surplus.
6 Do not eat the bread of the mean-eyed;
do not crave their delicacies;
They who are generous are the ones who really enjoy what they have.
How many cars can you drive at one time?
Are expensive foods and drink really that much better than simple fare?
7 for like a hair in the throat, so are they.
'Eat and drink!' they say to you;
but his heart is not with you.
for like a hair in the throat. Literally it says like a hair in the life-force [nefesh] but "in the throat" captures the meaning. A hair in the throat is a foreign body that makes you want to vomit. People with mean dispositions might offer you food but you are liable to feel sorry you accepted it.
8 After you have eaten the piece of bread given you will vomit it up.
and you will waste your pleasant words.
You may have taken the food out of politeness. This could act like a boomerang against you.
Do not sell your principles in order to be pleasant towards others.
You may loose not only your self-respect but in the eyes of they you wished to please be treated with contempt as if you were vomit.
9 In the ears of a fool do not speak,
for he shall despise the intelligence of your words.
The word used here for "fool" in Hebrew is "casil" which may be connected to a Hebrew Root CSL connoting surety and trust.
A casil may be intelligent but he trusts in himself rather than in intelligent reasoning.
The Malbim distinguishes between an "Avel" and a "Casil". Both words connote foolishness.
An "Avil" is irresponsible due to foolishness and lack of understanding.
He can at least be reasoned with and brought back to the right path.
A "Casil" trusts in himself. He often already knows the negative consequences liable to result from taking the wrong path.
His own lusts however cause him to disregard reason.
He may know better than you on this issue and therefore will despise you for telling him about it.
Proverbs 23: 10-12 Do Not Push Your Luck Against the Weak!
10 Do not move back an everlasting boundary
and in the field of orphans do not enter.
The GRA (Elyahu of Vilna) on the second part of this verse points out that one should not trespass on the property of anyone without permission. The way of the world however is [or was] that in certain cases one could go through the land of another as long as the owner did not protest. Orphans, being usually weak and with no one to speak up for them, might not remonstrate even though the occasion warranted it. In other words do not take advantage of others especially those who are vulnerable.
11 for their Redeemer is strong;
HE will quarrel their quarrel with you.
God will take it out on you, even more than usual, if you transgress in this matter .
12 Bring your heart to [accept] reproof
And your ear to words of knowledge.
The GRA (Elyahu of Vilna) takes the word heart to connote will, desire.
We should WANT to be reproofed and told what is wrong in order to correct ourselves.
In Hebrew the word for heart is "Lev". Their is also the verb "levav" meaning "to like".
This is where we get the English word "love" from.
This is logical the two words are the same and from the Hebrew we may understand the English, as usual.
Compare this to the gibberish given us by conventional etymology:
ONLINE ETYMOLOGICAL DICTIONARY. LOVE.
Old English lufu "love, affection, friendliness," from Proto-Germanic *lubo (cognates: Old High German liubi "joy," German Liebe "love;" Old Norse, Old Frisian, Dutch lof; German Lob "praise;" Old Saxon liof, Old Frisian liaf, Dutch lief, Old High German liob, German lieb, Gothic liufs "dear, beloved").
The Germanic words are from PIE *leubh- "to care, desire, love" (cognates: Latin lubet, later libet "pleases;" Sanskrit lubhyati "desires;" Old Church Slavonic l'ubu "dear, beloved;" Lithuanian liaupse "song of praise").
Proverbs 23:13-15 Corporal Punishment in Education
13 Do not refrain from reproving youth
Although you strike him with the rod, he will not die.
The Bible recommends corporal punishment in education. The Sages however drastically reserved this principle. They warned parents and educators not to overdo it.
They also said that someone who physically punishes their children once they get older may be guilty of a grave offence.
14 If You shall strike him with the rod
you may rescue his Life-Force from Sheol [the Underworld of the Grave].
The Commentator Rashi here emphasizes an important point. Rashi points out that we want our children to live. We want them to want life both at the physical and spiritual levels. [Or at least we should, sometimes these principles escape us.] That is why we hit them. We should remember that is why we are doing it and the child should know that is why.
15 My son, if your heart acquires wisdom,
My own heart also will be happy;
This is the bottom line.
Many problems occur due to children receiving mixed messages.
It should be clear that we want our children to do good and be good and if they go in that direction we shall be happy for them.
Proverbs 23: 16-18 Cause and Effect
16 And my kidneys [instinctive reaction] will rejoice
When your lips speak straightforwardly.
The kidneys in Scripture and in related sources appear to be associated with instinctive reactions. Iben Ezra says this is because they relate to the functioning of the male reproductive organ.
When a father witnesses his son speak well and according to what is right he instinctively rejoices.
17 Do not let your heart be jealous of sinners,
But rather remain in Fear of the LORD all the day.
18 For rather there is an aftermath,
And your hope will not be cut off.
Everything leads to something. There is a result for what you do and for what you do not do.
Do not take what seems to be the easier path when this involves trangression.
Proverbs 23: 19-21 Give Consideration to Yourself and for Others
19. Listen you son of mine and become wise, and straighten your heart in the way
Listen to what is being said to you.
[Peronally I have a problem with this and so others. We often fail to hearken to what others say, do not follow directions nor pay attention to instruction and advice.
It does not cost much to correct this, a little bit more paying attention, some increased consideration and appreciation for those addressing us. It pays to do this.]
20 Do not be with heavy drinkers of wine,
nor with gluttonous devourers of meat for the sake of it.
Avoid those who indulge too much in eating and drinking and in substance abuse.
They will take advantage of you as will as induce you to follow their example to your detriment.
21 For the heavy drinker and the glutton shall be impoverished,
And torn rags will be dressed on one through drowsiness.
Everything takes energy and time. Positive things such as learning Torah, learning in general, physical exercise, etc, give something back.
They increase your ability to enjoy what time is left you. Negative habits have just the opposite effect.
Not only do they waste your time while you are doing them but after that you are liable to suffer from their after effects.
Proverbs 23: 22-24 Learn to be Wise
22 Harken to your father, this one who begot you,
And do not be contemptuous when aged is your mother
23 Truth purchase, and do not sell,
wisdom and instruction and understanding.
24 Surely shall the father of a saint be glad
And he who sires a wiseman shall be happy in him.
The message is, amongst other things, take instruction and learning from where it is offered.
Give what you can of it to whoever wants to receive it. You will grow because of it.
Respect your parents and learn from them. Do what you can for your children and they shall help understand.
We have here the English word "glad".
This is the conventional etymology of the word.
Old English glad "bright, shining, gleaming; joyous; pleasant, gracious" (also as a noun, "joy, gladness"), from Proto-Germanic *glada- (cognates: Old Norse gladr "smooth, bright, glad," Danish glad "glad, joyful," Old Saxon gladmod, in which the element means "glad," Old Frisian gled "smooth," Dutch glad "slippery," German glatt "smooth"), from PIE *ghel- (2) "to shine," with derivatives referring to bright materials and gold (see glass). The notion is of being radiant with joy; the modern sense "feeling pleasure or satisfaction" is much weakened. Slang glad rags "one's best clothes" first recorded 1902.
There is also a Hebrew word "gil". This means "be glad". "gil" and "glad" look similar and mean the same. Which etymology is the most logical. Ours or theirs? You decide.
Proverbs 23: 26-27 Honor Your Ancestors and Beware of Harlots
25 Your father shall be happy, and your mother.
She who gave birth to you shall rejoice.
A righteous man bring joy to his parents.
He also helps them in the Afterlife.
We would all like our forefathers to have been pleased with us.
This is inbuilt trait in human beings.
It is one of the most basic instincts there is.
We should get in touch with it.
26 Give my son, your heart unto me,
And your eyes shall be pleased with my ways.
There are good people who want to teach us things. We should listen to them.
This does not necessarily mean doing everything they say but neither should we automatically reject it.
27 For a deep pit is a harlot.
And an alien female woman is a narrow [straightened] well.
Immoral and badly disposed women may mislead and entrap a man pulling him into a situation he may not be able to climb out of.
Proverbs 23: 28-30 Beware of Bad Women and Drink!
28 Even she like a snatching thief shall lurk in ambush
and shall increase the traitors amongst men.
We are continuing the description of the wanton woman.
The above translation is a good one.
The NASB renders it:
"Surely she lurks as a robber,
And increases the faithless among men."
Both versions capture the meaning.
It happens that an adulterous woman lies in wait like a highway robber for a sign of weakness to grab her chance.
Through her actions adultery is increased and the faith men have in each other is lessened. The standards of trust are seriously undermined all along the line.
An analogy may be found in certain Identity People who pretended to be somewhat friendly towards us but like dogs returning to their vomit, and like bitches on heat, they countenanced the maligning of Judah as soon as an opportunity came along.
29 Who has woe? Who has regret?
Who has quarrels? Who has reports to relate?
Who has wounds without cause?
Who has redness of eyes?
They who drink much or indulge in substance abuse frequently regret. Apart from all the other myriad problems such behavior generates it often kicks in immediately by causing hangovers and sickness in general.
30 Those who stay up late over wine,
Those who go to try out piss [or "cocktails"].
The word we have translated as "piss" is "MIMSAC" it could alternately mean a mixture or cocktail but "piss" is its most common use in Scripture through usually as a euphemism.
It is (under the form "Mosac") translated as "covering" but usually used for covering the feet i.e. attending to personal needs.
When Ehud from Benjamin went to the King of Moab, he got him alone in private and stabbed him and then escaped through a side passage. The servants of Eglon the King were afraid to enter the room lest the monarch be engaged in a private matter.
24 Now when he was gone out, his servants came; and they saw, and, behold, the doors of the upper room were locked; and they said, Surely he is covering his feet in the upper chamber.
What kind of usage is this?
People who drink heavily need to urinate often. Even alcoholics have a love-hate relationship with alcohol. They often amongst themselves refer to it as "piss" because that is what it is in their eyes.
It is appropriate that a condemnation of alcohol follow on from that about adultery.
The two matters are often related.
Even when they are not there is a psychological connection. Both tendencies represent attempts to throw off control, inhibition, and restriction even when these are necessary.
Proverbs 23: 31-33 Alcohol and Like Substances Can Hurt You!
31 Do not look on wine when it turns red,
If he sets his eye on the cup, it goes straight down.
The word translated as "cup" in Hebrew is "cos". Here it is written as "cis" which connotes "pocket".
The sages remarked that when a person goes to drink he looks at the cup but the publican looks at his pocket.
The same with all substance abuse. people make money out it. Others lose money because of it.
Try to belong to neither party.
32 The end result bites like a snake
and excretes [poison] like a viper.
33 Your eyes will see strange things
And your mind will utter the reverse of what you would want.
There is a saying in Hebrew, "nicnas yain, youtsai sod" i.e. "when wine goes in, secrets come out"
Our verse is perhaps more correct. Under the influence of substance we sometimes say things that we feel others present want to hear even though we do not agree with them and would not normally say them.
Proverbs 23: 34-35 Substance Abuse and Life
34 And you will be like someone lying down in the heart of the sea,
Or like one who lies down on the top of a ship-mast.
35 They hit me but I suffered no after-effects;
They beat me, but I was not aware of it.
When shall I awake?
I will seek more of it.
These verse continue the description of a person who keeps drinking or taking harmful substances even after he suffers from them.
In a sense, this analogous to many of us in our daily lives.
We need to turn to God and avoid running after elements that seek to harm us.
(Translated by Yair)