Proverbs 25:20 – K & D Commentary

(Even He who has love beyond all measure will not mock at the down cast or despise them. But only mocks those who do not fear Him. – My own two cents)

As he that taketh away a garment in cold weather, and as vinegar upon nitre, so is he that singeth songs to an heavy heart.   Pro 25:20  

The above proverb, which connects itself with Pro_25:18, not only by the sound ??, but also by ???, which is assonant with ?????, is followed by another with the catchword ??:
20 He that layeth aside his coat on a day of frost, vinegar on nitre,
And he who welcomes with songs a dejected heart.
Is not this intelligible, sensible, ingenious? All these three things are wrong. The first is as wrong as the second, and the third, which the proverb has in view, is morally wrong, for one ought to weep with those that weep, Rom_12:15; he, on the contrary, who laughs among those who weep, is, on the most favourable judgment, a fool. That which is wrong in 20a, according to Böttcher in the Aehrenlese, 1849, consists in this, that one in severe cold puts on a fine garment. As if there were not garments which are at the same time beautiful, and keep warm? In the new Aehrenlese he prefers the reading ?????????: if one changes his coat. But that surely he might well enough do, if the one were warmer than the other! Is it then impossible that ????????, in the connection, means transire faciens = removens? The Kal ?????, tarnsiit, occurs at Job_28:8. So also, in the poetic style. ???????? might be used in the sense of the Aram. ????????. Rightly Aquila, Symmachus, ?????????; the Venet. better, ???????????? (Mid.). ?????? is an overcoat or mantle, so called from covering, as ??????? (R. ??, to fasten, fix), the garment lying next the body, vid., at Psa_22:19. Thus, as it is foolish to lay off upper clothing on a frosty day, so it is foolish also to pour vinegar on nitre; carbonic acid nitre, whether it be mineral (which may be here thought of) or vegetable, is dissolved in water, and serves diverse purposes (vid., under Isa_1:25); but if one pours vinegar on it, it is destroyed. ???????
(Note: The writing wavers between ??? ???????? (cf. ??? ?????????) and ??????? ???? dna )??? ??.)
is, at Pro_26:23 and elsewhere, a heart morally bad, here a heart badly disposed, one inclined to that which is evil; for ???? ????? is the contrast of ?????? ??????, and always the consequence of a disposition joyfully excited; the inconsistency lies in this, that one thinks to cheer a sorrowful heart by merry singing, if the singing has an object, and is not much more the reckless expression of an animated pleasure in view of the sad condition of another. ????? ??? .rehtona signifies, as at Job_33:27, to sing to any one, to address him in singing; cf. ??????? ???, Jer_6:10, and particularly ???????, Hos_2:16; Isa_40:2. The ? of ??????????? is neither the partitive, Pro_9:5, nor the transitive, Pro_20:30, but the instrumental; for, as e.g., at Exo_7:20, the obj. of the action is thought of as its means (Gesen. §138, Anm. 3*); one sings “with songs,” for definite songs underlie his singing. The lxx, which the Syr., Targ., and Jerome more or less follow, has formed from this proverb one quite different: “As vinegar is hurtful to a wound, so an injury to the body makes the heart sorrowful; as the moth in clothes, and the worm in wood, so the sorrow of a man injures his heart.” The wisdom of this pair of proverbs is not worth much, and after all inquiry little or nothing comes of it. The Targ. at least preserves the figure 20b: as he who pours vinegar (Syr. chalo) on nitre; the Peshito, however, and here and there also the Targum, has jathro (arrow-string) instead of methro (nitre). Hitzig adopts this, and changes the tristich into the distich:
He that meeteth archers with arrow on the string,
Is like him who singeth songs with a sad heart.
The Hebrew of this proverb of Hitzig’s (?????? ????? ?????????) is unhebraic, the meaning dark as an oracle, and its moral contents nil.

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