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Agur's confession of his faith. PROVERBS.
The two points of his prayer. Beforer man spake unto Ithiel, even unto thee; + deny me them not before I c
Before CHRIST about 700,
standing of a mahave not the ish than / “10Rer
Ps. 104. 3.
riches ; feed me with food † conve- e Matt. 6. 11. 3 I neither learned wisdom, nor nient for me: + Heb. know. f have the knowledge of the holy. 9° Lest I be full, and + deny thee, f Deut. 32. a John 3. 13. 4 a Who hath ascended up into and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I + lleb. belie b Job 38. 4. heaven, or descended ? who hath be poor, and steal, and take the name
gathered the wind in his fists? who of my God in vain.
eth their father, and doth not bless
pure in their own eyes, and yet is a Deut. 4.2. 6 Add thou not unto his words, not washed from their filthiness. Rev, 22. 18, lest he reprove thee, and thou be 13 There is a generation, o how found a liar.
& lofty are their eyes! and their eye- g Chap. 6. 17. 7 Two things have I required of lids are lifted up."
& 12. 32.
2. Surely I am more brutish &c.] It would appear that may be good, and ought to be contented or resigned, in his scholars came to him admiring his wisdom, and de- any of them, yet, if it were matter of choice, the middle siring to be resolved in many difficulties; to whom is the easiest and most desirable. Dr. Jortin. Agur modestly and humbly replied, Do not call me
feed me with food convenient for me : 7 “ With wise, for I am so far from that acuteness which is bread sufficient for me:" in the Syriack, “ with the natural to one excelling in wisdom, that I am stupid bread of my sufficiency or convenience.” Dr. Hales. in comparison with such a person; nay I cannot arro- This “convenient food " is in the original, “ the gate to myself the understanding of a common man. bread of my competent allowance." It is even that Bp. Patrick.
“ sufficient bread," that “daily bread,” which Christ 3. — nor have the knowledge of the holy.] The know- our Lord in His prayer hath taught us all to pray for. ledge of Divine things, of heavenly truths. Calmet. By “bread,” or “c food,” the Hebrews understand all
4. Who hath ascended, &c.] Indeed what can man do? provisions for the use of life. Jos. Mede. How poor and impotent creatures we all are! Is any of 9. Lest I be full, &c.] That is, lest too much plenty us able to ascend up into heaven, and to descend thence make me worldly-minded, profane, and irreligious. To again ? Have we power to command any thing in these say in a contemptuous manner, Who is the Lord ? is to lower regions? Have we the rule of the winds, the deny the being or the providence of God. We may deny waters, or the earth? Shew me the man who can or these by our words, or by our behaviour. To deny them dares arrogate this power to himself. Bp. Hall.
by words, is to utter a lie; and to deny them by be- in his fists?] The Hebrew word seems to mean haviour, may be called to act a lie, and a lie of the most the two hands considered as joined together and capa- | detestable kind. Dr. Jortin. cious, forming a hollow to enclose any thing. Park- — take the name of my God in vain.] That is, have hurst.
recourse to perjury to clear myself from the charge of who hath bound the waters in a garment?Who theft. Dr. Wells. Lest poverty tempt me to steal, and can confine the waters of the sea within their proper stealth involve me in perjury. Abp. Tillotson. It will limits, as if he had tied them “in a garment ?" Calmet. illustrate this expression to mention, that the danger of
worst of forgeries in counterfeiting Divine inspiration. Jews than among us, by reason of a custom or law Dr. Wells.
amongst them, to tender an oath to those who were 7. Two things have I required of thee ; &c.] Agur suspected of theft, and who were thus to clear themseems here to answer a question of his scholars re- selves. Dr. Jortin. specting prayer, and enjoins them to pray as he himself 10. — lest he curse thee, and thou be found guilty. ] was wont to do:I humbly beg only two things of Thee, Lest in the bitterness of his soul he curse thee, and O God, which I most earnestly beseech Thee I may God hearing him should punish thy guiltiness. Bp. not want, as long as I remain in this world. Bp. Pa- | Hall, trick.
11. There is a generation &c.] There are four descrip8. — give me neither poverty nor riches;] We must tions of men (ver. 11-14.) worthy of our avoidance not consider Agur as praying absolutely against riches, and detestation : the first is of graceless children who or absolutely against poverty; for poverty and riches curse their parents, the next of false hypocrites and selfare of themselves things indifferent, and the blessing of pleasers, the third of proud men who are exalted in God may go with them both; but it is a prayer of their own opinions, the fourth of cruel oppressors who choice, or a comparative prayer: as if he had said, Give kill and devour the poor, &c. Bp. Hall. me, O God, if it be Thy will, the middle between both, 13. — O how lofty are their eyes !] Who superciliously and feed me with food convenient for me. For though overlook other men, as if they were not worthy of the all the three conditions be so far indifferent that a man' least regard from them. Bp. Patrick.
Four things insatiable.
Four things exceeding wise. Before 14 h There is a generation, whose 21 For three things the earth is Before about 700. teeth are as swords, and their jaw disquieted, and for four which it can- about 700. h Ps. 52. 2. &
teeth as knives, to devour the poor not bear :
eth; and a fool when he is filled with
24 There be four things which are
ave; and thelled with t exceedinge "ants are a pe
+ Heb. wise, made wise.
; and the fire that sait filled with t exceeding the earth, but
water; and the fire that saith not, It is 25 k The ants are a people not k Chap. 6.6.
strong, yet they prepare their meat
18 There be three things which are 27. The locusts have no king, yet
28 The spider taketh' hold with Cogether. 19 The way of an eagle in the air; her hands, and is in king's palaces.
the way of a serpent upon a rock; the 29 There be three things which go + Heb. keari. way of a ship in the t midst of the sea; well, yea, four are comely in going:
and the way of a man with a maid. 30 A lion which is strongest among
20 Such is the way of an adul- beasts, and turneth not away for any; terous woman; she eateth, and wipeth 31 Allt greyhound; an he goat ! or, horse, her mouth, and saith, I have done no also; and a king, against whom there in the loins. wickedness.
is no rising up
15. The horseleach &c.] This verse has considerable the way of a man &c.] In the Latin translation, difficulty in it. It seems to contain an answer to a the words are rendered with a very different sense, question which the disciples of Agur had propounded “The way of a man in his youth,” alluding to the secret to him, after the manner of enigmatical discourses or and imperceptible manner in which he advances from riddles, What is most insatiable? to which he answers, the feebleness, mental and bodily, of childhood, to the The horseleach, which sucks the blood of other crea- strength and stature of manhood. Calmet. tures till it bursts, as those wicked men (mentioned at 20. — she eateth, &c.] A modest way of expressing ver. 14.) do the livelihood of the poor, till they ruin her unlawful commerce. Dr. Durell. themselves. And as to this perpetual craving of more, 22. -- a fool when he is filled with meat ;] A man of no the “ horseleach has two daughters ;" that is, there are principles, when pampered and brought into affluent two things so like to her in this, that they may be called circumstances. Dr. Durell, her daughters, as they always cry, Give more. Bp. Pa- 23. — an odious woman] A woman whose moroseness, trick, Dr. Wells.
| bad qualities, and passions, make her hated by every - There are three things &c.] This he expresses body. Bp. Patrick. after the manner of the Hebrews, who often, when in- 26. The conies, &c.] See note at Levit. xi. 5. That tending to mention several things, separate them at the animal meant is “ Israel's lamb,” otherwise called first, beginning with a lesser number, and proceeding Ashkoko, is confirmed by this passage in Proverbs, then to the greater. There are examples of this at where they are described to be “a feeble folk,” an exAmos i. 3, 6, 9, &c. and also at Prov. vi. 16, and in this pression probably alluding to their feet, which appear chapter, ver. 18, 21, &c. Bp. Patrick.
very inadequate to the work of digging holes in the 17.- the racens of the valley shall pick it out, &c.] rock: these feet are frequently round, very pulpy or Meaning, they shall come to an infamous end, and their fleshy; notwithstanding which, they build houses on the dead bodies shall be exposed, and become a prey to the very hardest rocks, more inaccessible than those of the ravens and eagles. Bp. Patrick.
rabbit, in which they abide in greater safety, not by 18. There be three things &c.] In these words he exertion of strength, (for, in Solomon's words, they are resolves another riddle, which it appears had been pro- altogether “a feeble folk,") but by their own sagacity posed to him, namely, what things are most obscure and judgment. Bruce. and unaccountable, though ordinary and common. Bp. 27. The locusts &c.] See the notes on Exod. x. 4, Patrick.
and 15; and on Joel ii. 2, &c. 19.- the way of a serpent upon a rock ;] A serpent 31. A greyhound ;] The words in the Hebrew signify seems here to be specified rather than any other animal, literally, “ girt or narrow in the loins.” Some suppose a because he would be more likely to discover himself by horse to be meant. Bochart applies it to the greyhound. the marks left behind him on the dust; but upon a rock Dr, Russell says, that the greyhounds at Aleppo are of he leaves no more trace than the eagle in the air, or the a very light slender make, and remarkably fleet. It is ship in the sea. Dr. Durell.
probable they had the same breed in Judea. Parkhurst.
Before CHRIST about 1015.
Lemuel's lesson of chastity.
The praise Before. 32 If thou hast done foolishly in in the cause of all + such as are ap- , about 700. lifting up thyself, or if thou hast pointed to destruction.
thought evil, I lay thine hand upon 9 Open thy mouth, bjudge righI Job 21. 5. & thy mouth.
teously, and plead the cause of the sons of de33 Surely the churning of milk I poor and needy. bringeth forth butter, and the wring-1 10 Who can find a virtuous Deut. 1. 16. ing of the nose bringeth forth blood: woman? for her price is far above c Chap. 12. 4. so the forcing of wrath bringeth forth rubies. strife.
11 The heart of her husband doth
have no need of spoil.
13 She seeketh wool, and flax, and about 1015. T HE words of king Lemuel, the worketh willingly with her hands.
1 prophecy that his mother taught 14 She is like the merchants' ships;
she bringeth her food from afar.
hold, and a portion to her maidens.
hands she planteth a vineyard.
18 + She perceiveth that her mer- ^ Heb. She 5 Lest they drink, and forget the chandise is good: her candle goeth 1 Heb. aller: law, and t pervert the judgment t of not out by night. the sons of any of the afflicted.
19 She layeth her hands to the spina Ps. 104. 15. 6. Give strong drink unto him dle, and her hands hold the distaff.
that is ready to perish, and wine unto 20 + She stretcheth out her hand + Heb. She + Heb; bilter those that be + of heavy hearts. to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth
7 Let him drink, and forget his her hands to the needy.
for her houshold: for all her houshold
+ Heb. of all
Or, double garments.
32. If thou hast done foolishly &c.] If thou hast felt 13. She seeketh wool, &c.] She loves to be always the emotions of pride, or entertained a wicked thought, employed in some piece of useful housewifery suitable add not to thy sin by uttering it.
to her condition. Dr. Wells. 33. — butter, 7 See note at Judg. v. 25.
This description of a virtuous woman consists of so the forcing of wrath &c.] So the earnest pro- twenty-two verses. It is well worthy of observation, vocation of anger is the occasion of quarrels and inuch that eleven of these verses, half the number, are taken strife. Bp. Hall.
up in setting forth her industry, and the effects of it.
A variety of magnificent language is made use of to deChap. XXXI. ver. 1. The words of king Lemuel,] See scribe her different employments, to recommend simthe Introduction.
plicity of manners, and make good housewifery and 2. What, my son ? &c.] “What terms shall I employ, honest labour to be admired in the rich and noble, as my son ? &c.” To shew her son what anxiety she feels well as in the poor and obscure, among women. In to see him wise and happy, she expresses that she knows works of the several kinds here mentioned, queens and not how to begin to point out to him his duties, and the princesses of old time disdained not to be occupied. dangers he ought to avoid. Calmet.
| Bp. Horne. 6. Give strong drink &c.] Rather, give strong drink 14. She is like the merchants' ships ;] By exchange of to the man that is dejected in spirits, and near to perish- what is made by her own care at home, she procures ing, through extremity of affliction. Bp. Hall.
such foreign goods as her family needs, and her own 8. Open thy mouth &c.] Speak thou for them that country does not afford. Dr. Wells. are not able to speak for themselves, and plead thou for 20. She stretcheth out her hand to the poor ;] This them that are undeservedly marked out for destruction. is another good effect of her economy and manageBp. Hall.
ment. She is not only able to provide plentifully for 10. Who can find a virtuous woman?7 The instructions her household, but has always something in store for the of Lemuel seem to end here; and a lesson for daughters poor. A charitable disposition avails little, where vanity, begins, ranged in verses according to the letters of the folly, and extravagance, have taken away the power to Hebrew alphabet, with which each verse successively exert it. Bp. Horne, begins, for the convenience of the memory.
! 21. She is not afraid of the snow &c.] She is careful
of a virtuous woman. Before 22 She maketh herself coverings / 27 She looketh well to the ways about 1015. of tapestry; her clothing is silk and of her houshold, and eateth not the about 1015. purple.
I bread of idleness.
Lord, she shall be praised.
her in the gates.
to provide what is requisite for her family in the severest precisely what is here said of the industrious Israelitish part of the year, and sufficient clothing in the coldest women. Harmer. weather. Dr. Wells.
25. Strength and honour are her clothing :] See the - are clothed with scarlet.] Or, “ with double gar- note on Job xxix. 14. ments," as in the margin. The Hebrew word signifies 29. Many daughters have done &c.] Her husband will literally, “double;" and when applied to clothes, sig- extol her worth and virtue above other women, saying, nifies either double in quantity and texture, or “ double-Other wives have done and deserved well, but thou dyed ;" hence, as the purple and scarlet were the most surpassest them all. Bp. Hall. Happy the children of usual dyes among the Hebrews, the word came to sig- such a mother ; they will be living proofs of the care nify, a purple or scarlet dye. Parkhurst. As the sen- taken by her in their education, when she taught them tence seems to refer to a security against cold, it to walk, by the paths of honour and virtue, to the manseems better to translate here “ double garments.” Dr. sions of rest and glory. Happy the husband of such a Darell.
wife, who sees all things prosper under her direction, 23. Her husband is known in the gates,] That is, he is and the blessing of Heaven derived to his family known as her husband; as a man blessed with such a through her. They will all join in proclaiming, that, wife; as indebted, perhaps, for his promotion, to the among women who do well, honour is chiefly due to the wealth acquired by her management at home; for the virtuous and diligent wife, the affectionate and sensible splendour and elegance of his apparel, to the labour of mother. Bp. Horne. her hands; and, it may be, for the preservation and 30. Favour] A handsome shape and graceful beestablishment of his virtue and integrity, to the encou- haviour. Bp. Patrick. ragement, in all that is holy and just and good, fur 31. Give her of the fruit of her hands ; &c.] Let nished by her example as well as by her conversation. every one extol her virtue; let her not want the just Bp. Horne.
| commendations of her pious labours in the great24. – girdles] Girdles curiously wrought, which she est assemblies, where, if all men should be silent, sells to the merchant. Bp. Patrick. Curiously wrought her own works will declare her excellent worth. Bp. or embroidered girdles are still an essential part of Patrick Eastern finery, both to men and women. Parkhurst. The picture which is drawn in this chapter of a good Maillet informs us, that the Arab women have been ac- housewife is perhaps the most finished of all antiquity. customed to deal in buying and selling things woven It is drawn at full length, and equally pleasing in every of silk, cotton, &c. and simple linen cloth; which is point of view. Dr. Durell.
The following Chapters from the Proverbs are appointed for Proper Lessons on Sundays and Holydays : Ceap. I. ....... 21st Sunday after Trinity,.....Evening. Chap. XVI. ..... 25th Sunday after Trinity,... Evening. II. ...... 22nd Sunday after Trinity,.....Morning. XVII. .... 26th Sunday after Trinity,... Morning, ditto, ....... Evening. XIX. ..... ditto,......
........Evening - XI. ..... 23rd Sunday after 'Trinity,...... Morning. XX. ...... St. Andrew,......................Morning. XII. .... ditto, ............ .................... Evening.
XXI. ..... ditto, ...............................Evening. XIII.... 24th Sunday after Trinity,.....Morning. XXIII.... St. Thomas,..................... Morning. XIV.... ditto, .........
.......Evening. XXIV.... ditto,.............................. Evening. XV..... 25th Sunday after Trinity...... Morning. XXVIII. St. Stephen,.....................Morning.
THE Book of Ecclesiastes is called in Hebrew “Coheleth,” a word which signifies one who speaks in publick;
and which indeed is properly translated by the Greek word Ecclesiastes, or the Preacher. It is unquestionably the production of Solomon, who for the great excellency of his instructions is emphatically styled, “The Preacher :" for the writer of it styles himself, “the son of David, king of Jerusalem," chap. i. 1; he describes too his wisdom, his riches, his writings, and his works, in a manner which is applicable only to Solomon; and by all tradition, Jewish and Christian, the Book is attributed to him. It is said by the Jews to have been written by him, upon his awakening to repentance, after he had been seduced, in the decline of life, to idolatry and sin; and, if this be true, it affords valuable proofs of the sincerity with which he regretted his
departure from righteousness. The main scope and tendency of the Book have been variously represented by different writers. It may be con
sidered as a kind of inquiry into the chief good; an inquiry conducted on sound principles, and terminating in a conclusion which all on mature reflection will approve. The great object of Solomon appears to have been, from a comprehensive consideration of the circumstances of human life, to demonstrate the vanity of all secular pursuits. He endeavours to illustrate, by a just estimate, the insufficiency of earthly enjoyment; not with design to excite in us a disgust at life, bụt to influence us to prepare for that state where there is no vanity. With this view, the Preacher affirms, that man's labour, as far as it has respect only to present objects, is vain and unprofitable ; that however prosperous and flattering circumstances may appear, yet, as he could from experience assert, neither knowledge, nor pleasure, nor magnificence, nor greatness, nor uncontrolled indulgence, can satisfy the desires of man: that the solicitude with which some men toil and heap up possessions for descendants often unworthy, is especial vexation; that it is better far to derive those enjoyments from the gifts of Providence which they were designed to furnish, by being rendered subservient to good actions, Solomon, at chap. iii. 16, proceeds to observe, that in this life iniquity usurps the place of righteousness; that man appears in some respects to have “no pre-eminence above the beast” that perishes; and that the consideration of these circumstances may at first sight lead to wrong conclusions concerning the value of life; but that God should not be hastily arraigned, for that “ He that is higher than the highest regardeth :" that even here, those who “pervert judgment” are not satisfied by abundance, but that the sleep of a labouring man is sweet," chap. iii.-vi. : that though the hearts of men be encouraged in evil by the delay of God's sentence, and though the days of the sinner may be prolonged on earth, yet, finally, it shall be well only with them who fear God, chap. viii. 11-13. Solomon then sums up his exhortations to good deeds, and to a remembrance of the Creator in the days of youth, “or ever the silver cord (of life) be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken," chap. xii, 6, 7, when “the dust shall return to the earth, and the spirit unto God who gave it." And the inspired teacher bids us “hear the conclusion of the whole matter," which is, to “ fear God, and keep His commandments; for this is the whole duty of man.” Dr. Gray. It has been objected against the Book of Ecclesiastes, that some passages in it savour of irreligion, others of
immorality. But these are, in truth, either innocent, when rightly interpreted; or else express, not the wise king's sentiments, but the false opinions of others, in whose name he speaks, in order to confute them; or, however, are not his deliberate sentiments, but such hasty wrong notions as, during the course of his inquiry after happiness, rose up successively in his mind, and were on mature consideration rejected by him, in order to fix at last on the true basis, “the conclusion of the whole matter; to fear God and keep His commandments.” Abp. Secker.
The doctrine of a future retribution forms the great basis, and the leading truth, of this Book. In it, the Royal
Preacher expatiates on the transitory condition of mankind, if considered as confined to the present state of existence; the vanity and vexation of spirit attending all present human enjoyment, which his own experience had so abundantly proved; the apparent inequality of Providence, (except under the Jewish dispensation,) by which there appears one event to the righteous and to the wicked. But in all the difficulties and perplexities, all that vanity and vexation of spirit, which this partial view of human nature implies, the Royal Preacher brings forward the prospect of a future life and just retribution, as the solution and the remedy, the consolation and the cure. See chap, iii. 17; viii. 11; xi. 9; xii. 14. Dr. Graves.
The style of this Book is different from that of others; the diction is for the most part plain, but particularly
obscure; often vague and prosaic; nor is there much of poetick character in the composition and structure of it, which perhaps may be properly attributed to the nature of the argument. The Jews are unwilling to