Brit-Am/Hebrew Nations Notes and Commentary
Proverbs 25:1-5 Discernment and Correct Discrimination
1 These also are proverbs of Solomon which the men of Hezekiah, king of Judah, transcribed.
2 It is the glory of God to conceal a matter,
But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.
3 As the heavens for height and the earth for depth,
So the heart of kings is unsearchable.
4 Take away the dross from the silver,
And there comes out a vessel for the smith;
5 Take away the wicked from before the king,
And his throne will be established in righteousness.
1 These too are the proverbs of Solomon that the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied down.
2 The honor of God is to hide a matter, and the honor of kings is to examine the case.
3 The Heavens for height and the earth for depth, but the heart of kings is incomprehensible..
4 Separate extraneous matter from the silver
And there will emerge a product for the silversmith.
5 Separate the evil person from before the king
And his throne will be established in righteousness.
There are some things (25:2) THAT ARE BETTER OFF NOT BEING PUBLICIZED. Information about otherwise revered people may cause harm to them and to others and not bring any benefit.
On the other hand the government and authorities should know what is going on (25:2).
The word we have translated as "Separate" (25:4, 5) in Hebrew is "Hegeh". This word is cognate with expressions meaning logic, and thought. In other words the separation should be done with discernment and wisdom.
Remove evil advisors and corrupt officials and government will be improved.
Proverbs: 25: 6-10 Preserve Your Interests by Respecting Others!
6 Do not claim honor in the presence of the king,
And do not stand in the place of great men;
7 For it is better that it be said to you, 'Come up here,'
Than for you to be placed lower in the presence of the prince,
Whom your eyes have seen.
8 Do not go out hastily to argue your case;
Otherwise, what will you do in the end,
When your neighbor humiliates you?
9 Argue your case with your neighbor,
And do not reveal the secret of another,
10 Or he who hears it will reproach you,
And the evil report about you will not pass away.
6 Do not give credit to yourself before the king.
And in the place of great men do not stand.
7 It is good that it be said to you, Come up here!
Rather than you be demoted before a benefactor you set eyes upon.
8 Do not be quick to come out in an argument, lest what you be confounded if consequently
your fellow humiliates you?
9 Argue your case well against your peer but the secret of another do not reveal.
10 Lest the one who hears you cause you shame, and your bad word cannot be retracted.
Much of the above in the light of our translation is self-explanatory. Hold your mouth, be careful what you say. Try not to praise yourself. Do not arrogate to yourself honors that may be taken from you.
Present yourself in a good light, stand up for yourself but avoid dragging others unnecessarily into your affairs. Do not expose yourself to reproach.
You probably have a good case to receive consideration: So not spoil it by going over the bounds of good taste.
Proverbs: 25: 11- 13 Value Your Own Words and Think of Others as well as Yourself!
Like apples of gold in settings of silver
Is a word spoken in right circumstances.
12 Like an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold
Is a wise reprover to a listening ear.
13 Like the cold of snow in the time of harvest
Is a faithful messenger to those who send him,
For he refreshes the soul of his masters.
11 Like apples of gold in settings of silver
Is a word spoken in a suitable way.
12 Like a nose-ring of gold and an ornament of rare gold
A wise reprover to a listening ear.
13 Like the cold of snow on a harvest day,
a faithful emissary to his sender,
For the mind of his master he restores.
Ideally we should all try to speak well and in the proper place.
We should say things that are constructive and value what is being said as if we were counting gold into our own account.
Avoid superfluous words and refrain from scoring minor points over matters that are not worth it.
Go for the main goal which is the ultimate good for yourself and others.
Do what you have to as it should be done.
Do what you have to do. That is why you are here.
Proverbs 25: 14-17 Everything in Good Measure
Proverbs 25 (NASB):
14 Like clouds and wind without rain
Is a man who boasts of his gifts falsely.
15 By forbearance a ruler may be persuaded,
And a soft tongue breaks the bone.
16 Have you found honey? Eat only what you need,
That you not have it in excess and vomit it.
17 Let your foot rarely be in your neighbor's house,
Or he will become weary of you and hate you.
The overriding theme of the verses seems to be the need to do everything in the correct proportion. Do not make exaggerated promises that end up creating disappointment. Keep clam and talk politely. Do not over-indulge in the good things of life but partake of them in moderation. Do not impose your company on people who may not always want it all the the time.
Proverbs 25 (Yair):
14 Clouds and wind but no rain, so is a man boasting falsely of his intended beneficence.
15 By forbearance may an official be seduced and a soft tongue can break bones.
People who encourage false expectations cause disheartenment like that of a farmer who thinks the needed rain is about to come and it does not.
Instead of shouting at officials, threatening them, or otherwise speaking unpleasantly to them, it may be better to talk nicely and get them on your side.
16 You found honey! Eat a satisfactory amount [but no more than that] less you suffer a surfeit and vomit it up.
In other words, good things that are permitted should be enjoyed but not overduly indulged in.
17 Make your foot scarce from the house of your fellow, lest he be satiated with you, and hate you.
We may sometimes forget that other people (family, friends, neighbors, etc) may not always want us around. We need to give space to others.
Proverbs 25: 18-20 Avoid Inappropriate Actions
Proverbs 25 (NASB):
18 Like a club and a sword and a sharp arrow
Is a man who bears false witness against his neighbor.
19 Like a bad tooth and an unsteady foot
Is confidence in a faithless man in time of trouble.
20 Like one who takes off a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar on soda,
Is he who sings songs to a troubled heart.
Proverbs (Yair) 25:
18 A club, and a sword, and a sharp arrow
so is a man giving false witness against his neighbor.
19 a broken tooth and a stumbling foot
[so is] treacherous surety on a day of trouble.
In the expression "a broken tooth" the word used for broken is "rah" from the root "RAAH."
This is consistent with other words in this passage.A similarly sounding word is "rah" usually meaning "bad" in the sense of evil though it can also connote "bad" as simply "not proper."
This may also be the root of the English word "rotten".
c. 1300, from a Scandinavian source akin to Old Norse rotinn "decayed," past participle of verb related to rotna "to decay," from Proto-Germanic stem *rut-(see rot (v.)). Sense of "corrupt" is from late 14c.; weakened sense of "bad" first recorded 1881. Rotten apple is from a saying traced back to at least 1528: "For one rotten apple lytell and lytell putrifieth an whole heape." The Rotten Row in London and elsewhere probably is from a different word, but of uncertain origin.
20 Like a vestment for decoration [and not warmth] on a cold day, or like vinegar on washing soda,
so is the singing of happy songs to a broken heart.
The verses are comparing inappropriate actions to each other.
The expression translated here as 'broken heart" in Hebrew is "lev-ra" which could mean "bad (or "evil") heart" but here following the precedent in verse 25:19 the word "ra" is taken as meaning broken.
Proverbs 25: 21-28 Take Control While You Can!
[Translated loosely by Yair, adapted in parts from the NASB translation. On the whole our rendition is similar to that of the English ones BUT here and there may be found drastic differences.]
21 If your enemy hungers, feed him bread;
And if he thirsts, give him to drink water;
The Sages said this means that if you are tempted to sin (which is the same as your enemy wanting to hurt you) do something positive to redirect and sublimate the negative energies.
The simple meaning is ALSO applicable in certain circumstances.
22 For burning coals you heap on his head,
And the LORD will reward you.
23 The north wind brings forth rain,
And an angry countenance [is caused] by a secret tongue.
A secret tongue is one that spreads malicious gossip. This causes dissension amongst men and disapproval from God.
24 Better to sit on the corner of a roof than with a contentious woman and the house of a dignitary.
In Biblical times the roofs were flat and there was a wall around the edges. Much of a person's life could be spent on the rooftops.
We have discussed this in our work,"David and Bath Sheva" by Yair Davidiy
25 Like cold water to a weary soul,
So is good news from a distant land.
Rashi (1040-1105, France) brings our attentions to the description of Jacob when he was told that his son Joseph was still alive, was ruling in Egypt, and wished to see him:
27 When they told him all the words of Joseph that he had spoken to them, and when he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of their father Jacob revived.
26 Like a dirtied spring and destroyed well
Is a righteous man who totters before the wicked.
If a good person gives in to the forces of evil others will no longer wish to learn from him.
He will no longer serves as a source of inspiration for they who are in need.
27 Eating much honey is not good,
but examining their honor brings honor.
The commentary Metsudat David (RABBI DAVID ALTSCHULER, Galicia-Ukraine, 1700s) explains this verse as if to say:
Honey is sweet and good but too much of it may be harmful.
On the other hand, wise sayings (such as those of the Sages) are always good. The more you learn of them the better for you.
28 Like a city wide open [or "broken into"] without a wall so is a man who has no restraint over his spirit.
A person who cannot control himself is easy prey for they wishing to take advantage of him. He is also very vulnerable to the vicissitudes of life.
(Translation and Commentary by Yair)