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Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, [1834], at

Proverbs Chapter 23

Proverbs 23:1

pro 23:1

What is before thee - Beware lest dainties tempt thee to excess. Or, "consider diligently who is before thee," the character and temper of the ruler who invites thee.

Proverbs 23:2

pro 23:2

i. e., "Restrain thy appetite, eat as if the knife were at thy throat." Others render the words "thou wilt put a knife to thy throat" etc., i. e., "indulgence at such a time may endanger thy very life."

Proverbs 23:3

pro 23:3

Dainties ... deceitful meat - Such as "savory meat," venison Gen 27:4, offered not from genuine hospitality, but with some by-ends.

Proverbs 23:4

pro 23:4

Cease from thine own wisdom - i. e., "Cease from the use of what is in itself most excellent, if it only serves to seek after wealth, and so ministers to evil." There is no special contrast between "thine own wisdom" and that given from above, though it is of course implied that in ceasing from his own prudence the man is on the way to attain a higher wisdom.

Proverbs 23:5

pro 23:5

Set thine eyes - literally, as in the margin, i. e., "gaze eagerly upon;" and then we get an emphatic parallelism with the words that follow, "they fly away as an eagle toward heaven;" "certainly make themselves wings."

Proverbs 23:6

pro 23:6

A different danger from that of Pro 23:1. The hazard here is the hospitality of the purse-proud rich, avaricious or grudging even in his banquets.

Evil eye - Not with the later associations of a mysterious power for mischief, but simply, as in the margin ref. and in Mat 20:15.

Proverbs 23:7

pro 23:7

Thinketh - The Hebrew verb is found here only, and probably means, "as he is all along in his heart, so is he (at last) in act."

Proverbs 23:9

pro 23:9

The "fool" here is one willfully and persistently deaf to it, almost identical with the scorner.

Proverbs 23:11

pro 23:11

The reason is given for the precept Pro 23:10.

Their redeemer - See Job 19:25 note. It was the duty of the גאל gā'al, the next of kin, to take on himself, in case of murder, the office of avenger of blood Num 35:19. By a slight extension the word was applied to one who took on himself a like office in cases short of this. Here, therefore, the thought is that, destitute as the fatherless may seem, there is One who claims them as His next of kin, and will avenge them. Yahweh Himself is in this sense their גאל gā'al, their Redeemer.

Proverbs 23:13

pro 23:13

i. e., "You will not kill your son by scourging him, you may kill him by with holding the scourge."

Pro 23:14

Hell - Sheol, the world of the dead.

Proverbs 23:15

pro 23:15

Another continuous exhortation rather than a collection of maxims.

Pro 23:16

The teacher rejoices when the disciple's heart Pro 23:15 receives wisdom, and yet more when his lips can utter it.

Reins - See Job 19:27 note.

Pro 23:17

Envy sinners - Compare in Psa 37:1; Psa 73:3; the feeling which looks half-longingly at the prosperity of evil doers. Some connect the verb "envy" with the second clause, "envy not sinners, but envy, emulate, the fear of the Lord."

Pro 23:18

Or, For if there is an end (hereafter), thine expectations shall not be cut off. There is an implied confidence in immortality.

Pro 23:20

Riotous eaters of flesh - The word is the same as "glutton" in Pro 23:21 and Deu 21:20.

Pro 23:21

The three forms of evil that destroy reputation and tempt to waste are brought together.

Drowsiness - Specially the drunken sleep, heavy and confused.

Pro 23:26

Observe - Another reading gives, "let thine eyes delight in my ways."

Pro 23:28

As for a prey - Better as in the margin.

The transgressors - Better, the treacherous," those that attack men treacherously.

Pro 23:29

Woe ... sorrow - The words in the original are interjections, probably expressing distress. The sharp touch of the satirist reproduces the actual inarticulate utterances of drunkenness.

Pro 23:30

Mixed wine - Wine flavored with aromatic spices, that increase its stimulating properties Isa 5:22. There is a touch of sarcasm in "go to seek." The word, elsewhere used of diligent search after knowledge Pro 25:2; Job 11:7; Psa 139:1, is used here of the investigations of connoisseurs in wine meeting to test its qualities.

Pro 23:31

His color - literally, "its eye," the clear brightness, or the beaded bubbles on which the wine drinker looks with complacency.

It moveth itself aright - The Hebrew word describes the pellucid stream flowing pleasantly from the wineskin or jug into the goblet or the throat (compare Sol 7:9), rather than a sparkling wine.

Pro 23:32

Adder - Said to be the Cerastes, or horned snake.

Pro 23:34

The passage is interesting, as showing the increased familiarity of Israelites with the experiences of sea life (compare Psa 104:25-26; Psa 107:23-30).

In the midst of the sea - i. e., When the ship is in the trough of the sea and the man is on the deck. The second clause varies the form of danger, the man is in the "cradle" at the top of the mast, and sleeps there, regardless of the danger.

Pro 23:35

The picture ends with the words of the drunkard on waking from his sleep. Unconscious of the excesses of the night, his first thought is to return to his old habit.

When shall I awake ... - Better, when I shall awake I will seek it yet again.

Next: Proverbs Chapter 24