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Proverbs 30

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1 The words of Agur the son of Jakeh, even the prophecy: the man spake unto Ithiel, even unto Ithiel and Ucal,

2 Surely I am more brutish than any man, and have not the understanding of a man.

3 I neither learned wisdom, nor have the knowledge of the holy.

4 Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, and what is his son’s name, if thou canst tell?

5 Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.

6 Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.

7 Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die:

8 Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me:

9 Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.

10 Accuse not a servant unto his master, lest he curse thee, and thou be found guilty.

11 There is a generation that curseth their father, and doth not bless their mother.

12 There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness.

13 There is a generation, O how lofty are their eyes! and their eyelids are lifted up.

14 There is a generation, whose teeth are as swords, and their jaw teeth as knives, to devour the poor from off the earth, and the needy from among men.

15 The horseleach hath two daughters, crying, Give, give. There are three things that are never satisfied, yea, four things say not, It is enough:

16 The grave; and the barren womb; the earth that is not filled with water; and the fire that saith not, It is enough.

17 The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it.

18 There be three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not:

19 The way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a maid.

20 Such is the way of an adulterous woman; she eateth, and wipeth her mouth, and saith, I have done no wickedness.

21 For three things the earth is disquieted, and for four which it cannot bear:

22 For a servant when he reigneth; and a fool when he is filled with meat;

23 For an odious woman when she is married; and an handmaid that is heir to her mistress.

24 There be four things which are little upon the earth, but they are exceeding wise:

25 The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer;

26 The conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks;

27 The locusts have no king, yet go they forth all of them by bands;

28 The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings’ palaces.

29 There be three things which go well, yea, four are comely in going:

30 A lion which is strongest among beasts, and turneth not away for any;

31 A greyhound; an he goat also; and a king, against whom there is no rising up.

32 If thou hast done foolishly in lifting up thyself, or if thou hast thought evil, lay thine hand upon thy mouth.

33 Surely the churning of milk bringeth forth butter, and the wringing of the nose bringeth forth blood: so the forcing of wrath bringeth forth strife.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Gatherer, &c. or, as it is in the Latin, Congregans, the son of Vomens. The Latin interpreter has given us in this place the signification of the Hebrew names, instead of the names themselves, which are in the Hebrew, Agur, the son of Jakeh. But whether this Agur be the same person as Solomon, as many think, or a different person, whose doctrine was adopted by Solomon, and inserted among his parables or proverbs, is uncertain. Ch. — Vomiter may denote David, who delivered many excellent canticles; Eructavit cor, Ps. xliv. De Dieu translates, “The words of him who is recollected the son of obedience.” The author styles himself foolish, and asks for neither beggary nor riches, (v. 2, 8.) which seems not to agree with Solomon; though there can be no doubt but this chapter is inspired. C. — In effect, that great king might form this petition, being mindful of the instability of human greatness, and confess that of himself he was foolish. — Vision. Heb. massa (H.) generally implies something disagreeable, but here it is put for a collection of moral sentences. — With, &c. Heb. also, “to Ithiel, even unto Ithiel and Ucal,” (Prot. H.) friends of Agur, (C.) or his children, (M.) or rather Solomon speaks to all the faithful. We never find Agur mentioned as a canonical writer; and if he were, he would have been placed after Solomon. W.

Ver. 2. With me. He speaks of what he could claim of his own, abstracting from the prophetic light. C. — In his humility, he supposeth that others are more perfect. The wisest know best their own defects. W.

Ver. 4. Descended. How then could I acquire such a sublime science? Deut. xxx. 11. C. — Christ alone could impart it, (Jo. iii. 13. H.) who is the perfect wisdom. W. — Hands. Sept. “breast.” H. — It is no less difficult to fathom the designs of Providence. Some understand the “spirit” of prophecy to be here meant. — Son. Sept. “children.” But many Greek copies, and all the interpreters, have Son, which the Fathers explain of the second person of the blessed Trinity, specified C. viii. 22. C.

Ver. 5. Is fire-tried; that is, most pure, like gold purified by fire. Ch. Ps. xvii. 31. Jer. xxiii. 29. — It cannot deceive.

Ver. 6. And not any thing contrary. Deut. iv. 2. and xii. 32. — Liar. Our Saviour condemned the false explanations of the Pharisees, as his Church does those of all heretics.

Ver. 8. Words, which are so opposite to thine. v. 5. — Riches. The former often prompts men to deceive, the latter to grow proud and forget God.

Ver. 10. Accuse. Sept. “deliver not” to an idolater. Deut. xxiii. 15. Rabbins — Servant. Add not to his affliction. W. — We must suppose that the accusation is frivolous or false. Lyran. — A servant may do a person much injury: but this ought not to deter the other from performing what justice and charity require.

Ver. 15. The horse-leech: concupiscence, which hath two daughters that are never satisfied, viz. lust and avarice. Ch.

Ver. 16. Womb. Sept. “the love of a woman,” (H.) a harlot, or rather Heb. “a barren woman.” — Enough. The more fuel, the brighter the flame. These four similitudes may denote cruelty, lust, avarice, and prodigality; (C.) or the first and last may be understood (H.) of envy and ambition. W.

Ver. 17. Labour. Sept. &c. “old age.” Heb. “the obedience or admonition.” Those who curse their parents, were sentenced to death. Lev. xx. 6.

Ver. 19. Youth. Heb. “a virgin.” The “conception of a mighty man (the Messias. H.) in a virgin,” is fitly compared to the flight of an eagle in the air, which leaves no trace behind, and is the most difficult to comprehend. See Jer. xxxi. 22. Univ. Hist. iii. p. 144, note. Is. vii. 14. Parkhurst in √°lm. H. — Some of the Jews have admitted this explanation. A. Lap. — Others understand that the marks of virginity are equivocal; (Bossuet, &c.) or, if we stick to the Vulg. and Sept. the difference betwixt a child and a young man is extremely great, and almost incomprehensible. C. — Young people who follow their carnal appetite, can no more give an account of their actions than of the course of an eagle, &c. W. — His wanderings are manifold. The Heb. seems to contain a prophecy of Christ’s conception.

Ver. 23. Mistress, and is married to her master. She will generally prove insolent; like slaves on the throne, Regnabit sanguine multo ad regnum quisquis venit ab exilio. Suet. Tib. 59. C.

Ver. 27. Bands, like an army. When one rises or falls, all do the like. They are so numerous in the East, as to darken the sun and spread destruction. Joel i. and ii. C.

Ver. 28. The stellio. A kind of house lizard, marked with spots like stars, from whence it has its name. Ch. — Heb. semamith. H. — It probably provides food against the stormy season, like ants. Bochart. C. — Others understand “the spider,” (Kimchi) or “monkey.” Vat. &c.

Ver. 30. Meeteth. If he retreat, he looks back with disdain, till the woods conceal the turpitude of his flight. Pliny viii. 16.

Ver. 31. Loins. It rules, and is even terrible to lions. Pliny x. 21. — The terms of the original are found nowhere else, and some understand the horse, the bee, and a soldier in arms. C. — Whom. Heb. “and Alkum with him.” Mont. — But we know no animal or king of this name;; and it may imply, “in the midst of his court,” or “assembly.” Chal. Some Latin copies read, Et Rex, nec est qui resistat ei, (Sixt. V.) which is more conformable to the Heb. (C.) and is here translated, though the Vulg. read, Nec est rex qui, &c. These four emblems (H.) denote fortitude, chastity, order, and justice.

Ver. 32. Mouth. Fools ought not to govern. W. — Many might have been deemed wise, if they had continued in a lower station. C. — Heb. “If thou hast acted foolishly in raising thyself, and if thou hast entertained evil thoughts, put thy hand to thy mouth.” H. — Chal. “put not thy,” &c. Give not way to pride, or to insolent language. C.

Ver. 33. And. Heb. “For he who presseth milk.” C. — Prot. “Surely the churning of milk bringeth for butter,” &c. H. — Strife. Moderation is necessary, (C.) in all actions. W.