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PROVERBS OF SOLOMON
THE ORIGINAL HEBREW
WILLIAM FRENCH D.D.
MASTER OF JESUS COLLEGE AND PREBENDARY OF ELY
REV. GEORGE SKINNER M. A.
FELLOW AND TUTOR OF JESUS COLLEGE
PRINTED BY J. SMITH PRINTER TO THE UNIVERSITY
JOHN MURRAY ALBEMARLE STREET
I. As the following Translation of the PROVERBS has been framed upon the principles, which its authors detailed in the preface to their translation of the BOOK OF PSALMS, recently published, they do not think it necessary, upon the present occasion, either to recapitulate the process by which they have endeavoured to ascertain the meaning of the Hebrew text, or to point out the sources from whence the explanations, subjoined to their translation, have been mainly derived.
II. But upon the general form of the writings, in which the admirable precepts of the inspired son of David have been transmitted to after ages, the Translators feel themselves called upon to offer a few prefatory observations.
The reader of the Proverbs must not expect to find in them any long train of reasoning, tending to
the establishment of some important moral truth. He will look in vain for that precise and logical arrangement, which gradually carries the mind forward towards any proposed object, and, at length, by accumulated evidence, produces conviction. The sacred writer has adopted a different course. Modelling his precepts upon examples, furnished by the highest antiquity, he has displayed the depths of his divine wisdom in separate sententious maxims, which comprize, in a few authoritative words, the results, and merely the results, of his own reflexions and experience.
Upon a nearer examination of the structure of the Proverbs, it appears not only that each maxim is contained in a single brief sentence, but also that each sentence usually consists of two members, similarly constructed. Between these members, moreover, there is frequently found a distinct opposition, and, in every such case, they are connected with each other by the word "but." When, however, it is asserted that there exists this opposition between the two members, forming a sentence, the reader is not to conclude that the sentiments, expressed in them, are at variance and irreconcilable, the one with the other. On the contrary, they are mutually confirmatory. The word "opposition" is used technically, to denote, for example, that some particular virtue and its opposite vice are respectively the subjects of these connected propositions, and that conséquences of a directly opposite nature are accordingly predicated of them.
Thus, Chap. xiv. ver. 34.
Righteousness exalteth a people;
Again, Chap. xi. ver. 20.
The froward in heart are the abomination of JEHOVAH ;
In many instances, no such direct opposition, as occurs in the preceding examples, is actually expressed, but the reader is left to discover it by his own sagacity.
Thus, Chap. xii. ver. 15.
The way of a fool is right in his own eyes;
But a wise man hearkeneth unto counsel.
Where it is to be observed, that the obstinacy of the wicked, in adhering to their sinful course of life, effectually prevents them from listening to that voice of instruction, to which the truly wise are ever ready to attend.
Again, Chap. xiv. ver. 9.
Fools scoff at a charge of guilt;
Whence we are taught, that the wicked, by treating lightly the just accusations brought against them, and by refusing to make satisfaction for the injuries which they have inflicted upon others, are sure to render themselves odious; whilst the good as certainly conciliate the favour both of God and man.
Besides the two classes of Proverbs, which have just been noticed, there are others, between the component members of which, no opposition whatsoever