Proverbs 1:8 MEANING

Proverbs 1:8
(8) My son.--The address as of a master to his pupil. This phrase only occurs twice again in Proverbs, excepting in sections (2) and (4).

Law.--Rather, teaching. (Comp. Proverbs 3:1.)

Verses 8-19. - 1. First admonitory discourse. Warning against enticements to robbery and bloodshed. Verse 8. - My son, hear the instruction of thy father. The transition in this verse from what may be regarded as filial obedience towards God to filial obedience towards parents is suggestive of the moral Law. The same admonition, in a slightly altered form, occurs again in ch. 6, "My son, keep thy father's commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother" (cf. also Proverbs 4:1). My son; בְּנִבי (b'ni) from בֵּן (ben), "a son." The form of address here adopted was that in common use by teachers towards their pupils, and marks that superintending, loving, and fatherly care and interest which the former felt in and towards the latter. It occurs frequently in the introductory section (Proverbs 2:1; Proverbs 3:1, 21; Proverbs 4:10, 20; Proverbs 5:1; Proverbs 6:1; Proverbs 7:1), and reappears again towards the close (Proverbs 23:15, 19, 26; Proverbs 24:13, 21; Proverbs 27:11) in the teacher's address. The mother of Lemuel uses it (Proverbs 31:2) in the strictly parental sense. In other passages of the Old Testament the teacher, on the other hand, is represented as a "father" (Judges 17:10 Isaiah 10:12; 2 Kings 2:21). We find the same relation assumed in the New Testament, both by St. Paul (1 Corinthians 4:15; Philemon 1:10; Galatians 4:19) and by St. John (1 John 2:1; 1 John 5:2); but under the economy of the gospel it has a deeper significance than here, as pointing to the "new birth," which, being a later revelation, lies outside the scope of the moral teaching of the Old Testament dispensation. The instruction (מֶוּסַר musar); as carrying with it the sense of disciplinary education (cf. LXX., παιδεία; Vulgate, disciplina; see also ver. 2), and of the correction with which it may be enforced (cf. Proverbs 13:24; Proverbs 22:15; Proverbs 23:13, 14), the writer attributes appropriately to the father, while the milder torah, "law," he uses of the mother (Delitzsch). Father. The nature of the exhortation conveyed in this verse requires that we should understand the terms "father" and "mother" in their natural sense as designating the parents of the persons addressed, though a symbolical meaning has Been attached to them by the rabbis (see Rabbi Salomon, in loc.), "father" being understood as representing God, and "mother," the people. But the terms are more than merely figurative expressions (Stuart). Those who look upon the Proverbs as the address of Solomon to his son Rehoboam naturally take "father" as standing for the former. Naamah, in this case must be the mother (1 Kings 14:31). It is almost unnecessary to state that pious parents are presupposed, and that only that instruction and law can be meant which is not inconsistent with the higher and more perfect Law of God (Gejerus, Wardlaw). And forsake not the law of thy mother. Forsake. The radical meaning of הִּטּשׁ (tittosh) is that of "spreading," then of "scattering" (Aiken), and so the word comes to mean "forsake, reject, or neglect." The LXX. reads ἀπώσῃ, from ἀποθέω, abjicere, "to push away, reject." Cf. abjicias (Arabic). The Vulgate has dimittas, i.e. "abandon," and the Syriac, obliviscaris, i.e. "forget." The law; תּורַת (torath), construct case of תּורַה (torah), from the root יָרָה (yarah), "to teach," hence here equivalent to "a law" in the sense of that which teaches - a precept (doctrina, Jun. et Tremell., Piscat., Castal., Versions). With one exception (Proverbs 8:10), it is the term which always expresses the instruction given by Wisdom (Delitzsch). The law (torah) of the mother is that preceptive teaching which she imparts orally to her son, but torah is also used in a technical sense as lex, νόμος δέσμος, that which is laid down and established, a decretum or institutum, and designates some distinct provision or ordinance, as the law of sacrifice (Leviticus 6:7). In Joshua 1:8 we find it employed to signify the whole body of the Mosaic Law (sepher hatorah). Mother. Not inserted here as a natural expansion of the idea of the figure required by the laws of poetic parallelism (as Zockler), since this weakens the force of the passage. Mothers are mentioned because of their sedulousness in imparting instruction (Bayne).

1:7-9 Fools are persons who have no true wisdom, who follow their own devices, without regard to reason, or reverence for God. Children are reasonable creatures, and when we tell them what they must do, we must tell them why. But they are corrupt and wilful, therefore with the instruction there is need of a law. Let Divine truths and commands be to us most honourable; let us value them, and then they shall be so to us.My son, hear the instruction of thy father,.... This is not to be understood of God the Father of mankind, and of that law which he has given them, as Jarchi and Gersom interpret it, but of Solomon and his son in a literal sense; and of anyone that came to him for instruction, any pupil, hearer, or reader of his; and it is a direction to all children to hearken to the instruction of their parents, and obey their commands; so, next to the fear and worship of God, he exhorts to obedience to parents, and proceeds just in the same order and method in which the decalogue or ten commands were written; the first table respects God and his worship, and the second follows, which begins with "honour thy father and thy mother", &c. Exodus 20:12, which, the apostle says, is "the first commandment with promise", Ephesians 6:1;

and forsake not the law of thy mother; meaning not the congregation of Israel, the old synagogue, or Jewish church, as Jarchi; and so in the Talmud (p) it is interpreted of the congregation of Israel, as is "thy father" in the former clause of the divine Being; nor the operative faculty of the human understanding, as Gersom; but the mother of Solomon's son; and any and every mother of a child, who having an equal or greater tenderness for her offspring, and a true and hearty regard for their welfare, will instruct them in the best manner she can, give the best rules, and prescribe the best laws she can for their good; and which ought to be as carefully attended to and obeyed as those of a father; and she is particularly mentioned, because the law of God equally enjoins reverence and obedience to both parents, which human laws among the Gentiles did not; and because children are too apt to slight the directions and instructions of a mother; whereas they carry equal authority, and have in them the nature of a law, as those of a father.

(p) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 102. 1.

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