Insect Industry (Proverbs 6:6-9)

February 22, 2019

Homer Hailey, one of my former professors of biblical studies, often said that “Solomon didn’t have much use for the sluggard.”

Go to the ant, O sluggard, Observe her ways and be wise, 7 Which, having no chief, Officer or ruler, 8 Prepares her food in the summer And gathers her provision in the harvest. 9 How long will you lie down, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? 10 “A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to rest “– 11 Your poverty will come in like a vagabond And your need like an armed man (Proverbs 6:6-9). 

What is being addressed here is the “theme of self-inflicted economic impoverishment” Waltke, B. K. (2004) The Book of Proverbs, Chapters 1-15, p. 335). Sloth has its consequences. The sluggard neglects his opportunities, refuses to face reality; his life is characterized by disorder and chaos. To show the industry and work ethic that a man should have, Solomon uses the illustration of the ant. “The activity expected of leaders over a workforce is now detailed and applied to the ant” (Ibid.). As the KJV says, “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.”

I thought of this text some years ago when Ferrell Jenkins and I had the opportunity to visit Neot Kedumim, the Biblical Landscape Reserve in Israel, located halfway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. I happened to notice some ants busy at work.

Ants at Neot Kedumim in Israel. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

This 625 acre park had much more to offer than ants — flora and fauna of the biblical world, as well as mill stones, oil presses, etc.


Her House Leads Down to Death

January 22, 2019

The book of Proverbs is especially written for young people, to impart wisdom as decisions are being made that will impact the rest of their lives, as well as for eternity. The structure of Proverbs 2 is that of the godly father addressing his son (2:1). After his urgent exhortation to the son to aggressively seek for wisdom, and to treasure it, the father speaks of the benefits of wisdom. Some benefits are positive (vv. 6-9). Others are negative, keeping the son from the paths of evil, and specifically including the immoral woman:

To deliver you from the strange woman, From the adulteress who flatters with her words; That leaves the companion of her youth And forgets the covenant of her God; For her house sinks down to death [מָוֶת] And her tracks lead to the dead [רְפָאִים]; None who go to her return again, Nor do they reach the paths of life (Proverbs 2:16-19).

While preparing for a recent opportunity to teach this text (in our local congregation) I was put in mind of some of the burial sites which may be seen by the visitor to Bible lands. Such examples as this here below help us to visualize the word picture employed to warn of the destiny of the path of the immoral woman.

Approach to Herod’s family tomb in Jerusalem. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

King Herod the Great was buried at the Herodium, but according to Josephus some of his family members were buried in Jerusalem. This tomb has been identified as Herod’s family tomb. BTW, note the rolling stone at center.

Herod’s family tomb in Jerusalem. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

The Biblical Archaeological Society notes:

Since its discovery in 1892, a tomb near the King David Hotel, west of Jaffa Gate, has been listed in many guidebooks and shown to multitudes of pilgrim tourists as “Herod’s Family Tomb.” The architectural style of the tomb certainly dates it to the right period. This exterior view, for instance, shows the typical arrangement of the time for a tomb entrance: steps cut into bedrock lead down to a vertical doorway guarded by a huge, cylindrical rolling stone. The suggestion that this was actually the royal family tomb came from what was found beyond this entranceway. The tomb was large; five rooms arranged in the shape of a cross had been hewn out of the bedrock. More significantly, portions of the walls were faced with finely carved ashlar (an ashlar is a rectangular building stone with surfaces trimmed at right angles) stone blocks in the style typical of Herod’s monumental building projects, such as the Temple Mount additions (emphasis mine, LM) (see SNT34: Southern Extension of Temple Mount, Reconstruction Peter; SNT35: Monumental Walls at Tomb of Abraham). This was structurally unnecessary and was a most unusual feature; in other tombs of this period, room walls consisted simply of bedrock, chisel dressed to achieve a flat surface. (The Biblical World in Pictures; BAS Biblical World in Pictures. (2003). Washington D.C.: Biblical Archaeology Society).

(It should be noted that some archaeologists/scholars such as the late Ehud Netzer, believed Herod’s family tomb to be near the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem).

Using the wording of the Proverbs text, in an article entitled, “None Return Again,” Frank Himmel observed:

No man who becomes involved in adultery will ever be the same again. He cannot return to where he was. He can be forgiven by God. He can be forgiven by his mate. He can be forgiven by the spouse of his partner in adultery. But things can never be quite the way they were.

The implicit trust his mate placed in him has been broken. The special intimate relationship between husband and wife has been violated. The painful memory of the act remains in the consciences of all involved, try as they may to remove it. The feelings of guilt are still there. To the extent the sin is known to others the reputation is damaged. If those involved are Christians the Lord’s holy name is reproached. If they have children who know of the affair the confidence of those little ones is shaken. Time will aid in healing these wounds, but it cannot completely erase the them. (Guardian of Truth XXXVI: 13, pp. 385, 407, July 2, 1992).

Click images for larger view.


Grinding a Fool in a Mortar?

August 30, 2011

“Though you grind a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain, Yet his foolishness will not depart from him” ( Proverbs 27:22, NKV). I suppose one could say, “It is possible to practice folly until it becomes a part of one’s nature.” But instead the wise man used a word picture.

Mortar and pestle. Antioch Museum. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Do you see the imagery. Can you imagine a fool being ground up with pestle and mortar and yet retaining his folly?

The book of Proverbs is a book about wisdom. Our heart, our choices, our habits form character which then determines whether one is wise of foolish.

This post is being sent from Jerusalem. Ferrell Jenkins & I arrived this evening for a study & photographic trip. We’ll be posting photos as time permits.

Click on image for larger view.


Hollywood Hitpael

January 7, 2011

“There is one who makes himself rich, yet has nothing; And one who makes himself poor, yet has great riches” (Proverbs 13:7, NKJV). There may be many levels of application of Solomon’s words here. I think of the rich young ruler, who appeared to be rich, but when he “turned away sorrowful,” showed that he was in reality poor (Matt. 19:16-22). The rich man of Luke 12:15-21 was not really wealthy because he was “not rich toward God” (v.21).

It is interesting to compare the rendering of the English Standard Version which renders the text, “One pretends to be rich (emp. mine, L.M.), yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth” (Prov. 13:7; likewise rendered in NAS, CSB, NET, NIV, NRS).

This makes for an interesting word study. The NET textual note on the phrase pretends to be rich, states, “The Hitpael of עָשַׁר (’ashar, ‘to be rich’) means ‘to pretend to be rich’ (BDB 799 s.v. עָשַׁר Hithp); this is the so-called ‘Hollywood Hitpael’ (emp. mine, L.M.) function which involves “acting” or pretending to be something one is not.”

Hollywood Hitpael. That was a new one on me, but it makes sense. The world of Hollywood is a pretend world. Bearing this in mind may help us to pursue what is real and substantive: the Word of God, and being in right relationship with Him!