Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Good. Hebrew, “a name,” or reputation. (Haydock) — It is preferable to riches, but not to be compared with virtue, which is the only solid good; and even to be placed above riches, it must be well grounded. (Calmet) — Favour with all. (Haydock)
Ver. 2. Another. They stand in need of one another. (St. Chrysostom, hom. xxxiv. in 1 Corinthians.) — They are equal in God’s sight, who only values real virtue. He disposes of riches, so that the poor may one day become rich. (Calmet)
Ver. 4. Fruit. Literally, “the end of modesty, (Haydock) or moderation, which must accompany every virtue.
Ver. 5. Perverse. They are always in danger and in trouble.
Ver. 6. It is a proverb, is added by St. Jerome, to make the sentence more striking. — It. He is like a tender plant, (Calmet) or wax, or a new vessel.
Quo semel est imbuta recens servabit odorem
Testa diu. (Horace, ep. i. ad Lol.)
— “Shall wool regain its whiteness after it has been dyed purple?” (St. Jerome, ad Lætam.) — Hebrew, “initiate a young,” &c. Proportion your lessons to his capacity, and make him relish them.
Ver. 7. Servant. He might be sold, &c., Exodus xxii. 3., and Matthew xviii. 25. (Gell. xx. 1.) Plato (Leg. viii.) would have nothing sold on credit. These laws appear to be severe; but they are founded on wisdom, as nothing impoverishes more than the facility of borrowing.
Ver. 8. Consumed. Or beaten with the flail of God’s anger.
Ver. 9. Is. Hebrew, “has a good eye,” in opposition to the evil, or malicious one, Matthew xx. 15. — He, &c., is not in Hebrew, or in the Latin edition of Comp. and St. Jerome.
Ver. 11. He. Septuagint, “the Lord loveth pious hearts. All the irreproachable are acceptable to him. The king feeds with lips,” by his just ordinances. (Haydock) — Kings hate duplicity; but require that the truth should be disclosed to them in a suitable manner.
Ver. 13. Streets. Vain excuses of sloth!
Ver. 14. It. Debauchery resembles hell, chap. xxiii. 23. (Calmet) — Facilis descensus Averni, &c. (Virgil, Æneid vi.)
Ver. 15. Folly. Ignorance and innate corruption are corrected by a good education.
Ver. 17. Incline. Thus Solomon concludes his discourse, (chap. xxiv. 23.) in the same manner as he began it, to chap. x. Some commence the third book of Proverbs in this place; others, chap. xxv. (Calmet)
Ver. 18. Lips. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. (Haydock)
Ver. 20. Ways. Repeatedly. (Bossuet; Tirinus) (2 Corinthians xii. 8., and Amos i. 11.) (Calmet) — Protestants, “have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge?” “Shalishim,” perfect, (Pagnin) or “three things,” (Montanus) means also (Haydock) such as might suit princes and great officers. (Calmet)
Ver. 21. Sent. Septuagint, “are sent to thee.” Thou mayst become a teacher, (Haydock) or give satisfaction to thy parents, who have sent thee to my school. (Calmet)
Ver. 22. Gate. Where judges passed sentence. (Menochius)
Ver. 25. Soul. By imitating him, or by falling a victim to his rage.
Ver. 26. Hands. Engaging to stand bond. (Haydock) (Chap. vi. 1.) — Such a one might be required to pay the debt, chap. xx. 16.
Ver. 28. Set. The pagans made a god of Terminus, to prevent disputes. (Ovid, Fast. ii.) — If it be unlawful to disturb land-marks, how much more so is it to give way to novelty in religion? (Deuteronomy xix. 14.) (Calmet) — Solomon is addressing those who follow the true faith. Else the conduct of infidel ancestors should not deter any from embracing the truth. (Haydock)
Ver. 29. Obscure. By industry he shall raise himself to notice. (Haydock) — Kings employ those who are most active. (Calmet)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
1 A good name *is better than great riches: and good favour is above silver and gold.
2 The rich and poor have met one another: the Lord is the maker of them both.
3 The prudent man saw the evil, and hid himself: the simple passed on, and suffered loss.
4 The fruit of humility is the fear of the Lord, riches and glory and life.
5 Arms and swords are in the way of the perverse: but he that keepeth his own soul, departeth far from them.
6 It is a proverb: A young man according to his way, even when he is old, he will not depart from it.
7 The rich ruleth over the poor: and the borrower is servant to him that lendeth.
8 He that soweth iniquity shall reap evils, and with the rod of his anger he shall be consumed.
9 *He that is inclined to mercy, shall be blessed: for of his bread he hath given to the poor.
He that maketh presents, shall purchase victory and honour: but he carrieth away the souls of the receivers.
10 Cast out the scoffer, and contention shall go out with him, and quarrels and reproaches shall cease.
11 He that loveth cleanness of heart, for the grace of his lips shall have the king for his friend.
12 The eyes of the Lord preserve knowledge: and the words of the unjust are overthrown.
13 The slothful man saith: There is a lion without, I shall be slain in the midst of the streets.
14 The mouth of a strange woman is a deep pit: he whom the Lord is angry with, shall fall into it.
15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, and the rod of correction shall drive it away.
16 He that oppresseth the poor, to increase his own riches, shall himself give to one that is richer, and shall be in need.
17 Incline thy ear, and hear the words of the wise: and apply thy heart to my doctrine:
18 Which shall be beautiful for thee, if thou keep it in thy bowels, and it shall flow in thy lips:
19 That thy trust may be in the Lord, wherefore I have also shewn it to thee this day.
20 Behold I have described it to thee three manner of ways, in thoughts and knowledge:
21 That I might shew thee the certainty, and the words of truth, to answer out of these to them that sent thee.
22 Do no violence to the poor, because he is poor: and do not oppress the needy in the gate:
23 Because the Lord will judge his cause, and will afflict them that have afflicted his soul.
24 Be not a friend to an angry man, and do not walk with a furious man:
25 Lest perhaps thou learn his ways, and take scandal to thy soul.
26 Be not with them that fasten down their hands, and that offer themselves sureties for debts:
27 For if thou have not wherewith to restore, what cause is there that he should take the covering from thy bed?
28 Pass not beyond the ancient bounds which thy fathers have set.
29 Hast thou seen a man swift in his work? he shall stand before kings, and shall not be before those that are obscure.
1: Ecclesiastes vii. 2.
9: Ecclesiasticus xxxi. 28.