Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary, 1859 edition.

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PROVERBS - Chapter 26

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Proverbs xxvi.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. Glory and power. A fool in a high office will endanger himself and the public; (Calmet) while the virtuous, seeing that merit is not regarded, will not push themselves forward. (Ęschines.)

Ver. 2. As a bird, &c. The meaning is, that a curse uttered without cause shall do no harm to the person that is cursed, but will return upon him that curseth; as whithersoever a bird flies, it returns to its own nest. (Challoner) --- Come. Chaldean, "shall not come in vain," if it be just, like that of Noe, Josue, &c. Hebrew, "shall not come" (Calmet) to the person against whom it is uttered, though God will not hold the curser guiltless, as the Vulgate intimates. (Haydock) Curses, anathemas, &c., vented without reason, do not injure any but those who denounce them. Yet out of respect for ecclesiastical authority, those who are under censures, must abstain from their functions till they be absolved. (Calmet)

Ver. 3. Snaffle. "Bit," or muzzle, (camus) to prevent the animal from biting. (Haydock) --- Septuagint, Arabic, &c., "a goad for an ass." But metheg denotes a bridle. (Montanus; Haydock) asses being there very large, and commonly used for riding, chap. xiii. 13. (Calmet)

Ver. 4. Answer not a fool, &c. Viz., so as to imitate him; but only so as to reprove his folly. (Challoner) --- If thou answer at all, (ver. 5.) do it to the purpose, and to prevent others from taking scandal, (Calmet) as well as to humble the wicked, for his good. (Haydock)

Ver. 6. Iniquity. He is exposed to shame, (Septuagint) and must condemn his own folly. (Calmet)

Ver. 7. Fair. Hebrew, "unequal legs," or "lifted up," so, &c. (Haydock)

Ver. 8. Mercury. The god of travellers, who were wont to throw a stone at the foot of his statue, as the Indians (Vincent. Bellor. xxiv.) and Arabs did. Mahomet would not disturb this superstitious custom. The Rabbins style these statues Mercolis. But Septuagint, &c., give another sense, "as he that bindeth a stone (Calmet) in the boss of a ring, sphendone, (Menochius) or in a sling," can do no good, but only endanger himself or others, "so," &c. Yet margema is never used elsewhere for a sling, and it means undoubtedly "a heap of stones," (Calmet) as Montanus substitutes instead of "the sling," in Pagnin. "As a small piece of precious stone in a heap of stones is lost, so," &c. (Pole. Syn. Parkhurst in rogom.) (Haydock) --- Honour, or an office, in which he may do harm. (Calmet)

Ver. 9. If. Hebrew, "as a thorn goeth up into the," &c. (Protestants) (Haydock) --- If he attempt to handle or to extract one, he will wound himself the more, as the fool would render truth and wisdom contemptible. (Calmet) --- Parable. Septuagint, "but slavery in the hands of fools" groweth up. (Haydock)

Ver. 10. Anger, and prevent lawsuits. Hebrew is variously read and translated. (Calmet) --- Protestants, "the great God, that formed all things, both rewardeth the fool and rewardeth the transgressors." Marginal note, "a great man giveth all, and he hireth the fool," &c. Septuagint, "all the flesh of fools is exposed to many storms, for their excess is punished." (Haydock)

Ver. 11. Dog. This is the only animal which is known to do so. St. Peter uses this comparison to deter any from renouncing the faith; as the Fathers do, to shew the misery attending a relapse. Septuagint here add, "there is a confusion," &c., taken from Ecclesiasticus iv. 25. (Calmet)

Ver. 12. Fool. The ignorant may be convinced that he wants instruction. (Calmet) --- But "none are worse than the half-learned." (Quintil. i. Jo. v. 21.)

Ver. 14. Bed, which he will scarcely leave, though avarice push him forward. (St. Augustine, ser. xxii. or clxiv.)

Ver. 16. Seven, or many wise men, who used to speak in a sententious manner. (Calmet) --- So seven is used, ver. 25.

Ver. 17. Anger. Hebrew, "passeth by, and meddleth with a quarrel not to him" pertaining. (Haydock) --- Such expose themselves foolishly to danger. Great discretion is requisite to reconcile those at variance.

Ver. 19. Jest. He will not escape, no more than the person who had committed murder involuntarily, if he were not in a city of refuge, Numbers xxxv. 22.

Ver. 20. Faileth. Hebrew, Symmachus, Calmet, "aboundeth, the fire is bright, or flourisheth" (Septuagint) (Haydock)

Ver. 23. Dross. Hence the proud will be detested, and appear contemptible.

Ver. 24. Lips. He will speak of what he hates much.

Ver. 26. Deceitfully. Hebrew, "in desolation." He will cringe, but when he finds an opportunity, he will discover his evil designs. (Calmet)

Ver. 27. Him. "Bad advice is worst to him who gives it." (Varro. Rust. iii. 22.)

Bible Text & Cross-references:

1 As snow in summer and rain in harvest, so glory is not seemly for a fool.

2 As a bird flying to other places, and a sparrow going here or there: so a curse uttered without cause shall come upon a man.

3 A whip for a horse, and a snaffle for an ass, *and a rod for the back of fools.

4 Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou be made like him.

5 Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he imagine himself to be wise.

6 *He that sendeth words by a foolish messenger, is lame of feet and drinketh iniquity.

7 As a lame man hath fair legs in vain: so a parable is unseemly in the mouth of fools.

8 As he that casteth a stone into the heap of Mercury: so is he that giveth honour to a fool.

9 As if a thorn should grow in the hand of a drunkard: so is a parable in the mouth of fools.

10 Judgment determineth causes: and he that putteth a fool to silence, appeaseth anger.

11 *As a dog that returneth to his vomit, so is the fool that repeateth his folly.

12 Hast thou seen a man wise in his own conceit? there shall be more hope of a fool than of him.

13 The slothful man saith: There is a lion in the way, and a lioness in the roads.

14 As the door turneth upon its hinges, so doth the slothful upon his bed.

15 *The slothful hideth his hand under his arm-pit, and it grieveth him to turn it to his mouth.

16 The sluggard is wiser in his own conceit, than seven men that speak sentences.

17 As he that taketh a dog by the ears, so is he that passeth by in anger, and meddleth with another man's quarrel.

18 As he is guilty that shooteth arrows and lances unto death:

19 So is the man that hurteth his friend deceitfully: and when he is taken, saith: I did it in jest.

20 When the wood faileth, the fire shall go out: and when the tale-bearer is taken away, contentions shall cease.

21 As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire, *so an angry man stirreth up strife.

22 The words of a tale-bearer are as it were simple, but they reach to the innermost parts of the belly.

23 Swelling lips joined with a corrupt heart, are like an earthen vessel adorned with silver dross.

24 An enemy is known by his lips, when in his heart he entertaineth deceit.

25 When he shall speak low, trust him not: because there are seven mischiefs in his heart.

26 He that covereth hatred deceitfully, his malice shall be laid open in the public assembly.

27 He that diggeth a pit, shall fall into it: and he that rolleth a stone, it shall return to him.

28 A deceitful tongue loveth not truth: and a slippery mouth worketh ruin.



3: Proverbs xxiii. 13.

6: Proverbs xxv. 13.

11: 2 Peter ii. 22.

15: Proverbs xix. 24.

21: Proverbs xv. 18.