Proverbs 26:27 MEANING

Proverbs 26:27
(27) Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein,--A simile taken from hunters making pits as traps for wild animals. The same doctrine of retribution being brought upon the sinner's head by God the righteous Judge is taught in Psalm 7:11, sqq.

Verse 27. - Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein. This thought is found often elsewhere; e.g., Psalm 7:16; Psalm 9:16; Ecclesiastes 10:8; Ecclus. 27:25, 26. The pit is such a one as was made to catch wild animals; the maker is supposed to approach incautiously one of these traps, and to tall into it. And he that rolleth a stone, it will return upon him. This does not refer to throwing stones into the air, which fall upon the head of the thrower, but to rolling stones up a height in order to hurl them down upon the enemy (comp. Judges 9:53; 2 Samuel 11:21). Of such retributive justice we have numerous examples;e.g., Haman hung on the gallows which he had prepared for Mordecai (Esther 7:9, etc.). So the old story tells how Perillus, the inventor of the brazen bull in which prisoners were to be burned alive, was himself made to prove the efficacy of his own invention by the tyrant Phalaris; as Ovid says

"Et Phalaris tauro violenti membra Perilli
Torruit; infelix imbuit auctor opus."

(Art. Amat.,' 1:653.) So we have, "Damnosus aliis, damnosus est sibi;" Ἡ δὲ βουλὴ τῷ βουλεύσαντι κακίστη. St. Chrysostom speaks of the blindness of malice: "Let us not plot against others, lest we injure ourselves. When we supplant the reputation of others, let us consider that we injure ourselves, it is against ourselves that we plot. For perchance with men we do him harm, if we have power, but ourselves in the sight of God, by provoking him against us. Let us not, then, injure ourselves. For as we injure ourselves when we injure our neighbours, so by benefiting them we benefit ourselves" ('Hom. 14, in Phil.,' Oxford transl.).

26:24-26. Always distrust when a man speaks fair unless you know him well. Satan, in his temptations, speaks fair, as he did to Eve; but it is madness to give credit to him. 27. What pains men take to do mischief to others! but it is digging a pit, it is rolling a stone, hard work; and they prepare mischief to themselves. 28. There are two sorts of lies equally detestable. A slandering lie, the mischief of this every body sees. A flattering lie, which secretly works ruin. A wise man will be more afraid of a flatterer than of a slanderer.Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein,.... That devises mischief against others, it shall come upon himself. The allusion is to the digging of pits for catching wild beasts, which are slightly covered with earth; and which sometimes the pursuers, through inadvertency, fall into themselves; the passage seems to be taken from Psalm 7:15;

and he that rolleth a stone, it will return upon him; that rolls a stone up hill, if he does not take care, it will return back, and fall with great force upon himself; so the mischief which a wicked man labours hard at, as men do in digging a pit, or rolling a stone, in time rolls back upon themselves; the measure they mete out to others is measured to them. Jarchi makes mention of an "hagadah", or exposition, which illustrates this passage, by the case of Abimelech; who slew threescore and ten persons on one stone, and was himself killed with a piece of a millstone cast upon him, Judges 9:18; this may put in mind of the fable of Sisyphus (o), feigned in hell to roll a great stone to the top of a mountain, which presently falling down on his head, made his labour fruitless.

(o) "Aut petis aut urges ruitum, Sisyphe, saxum", Ovid. Metamorph. l. 4. v. 460.

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