Proverbs 1:11
If they say, Come with us, let us lay wait for blood, let us lurk privately for the innocent without cause:
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(11) Without cause.—To be taken with “lurk.” Though he has done us no harm.

1:10-19 Wicked people are zealous in seducing others into the paths of the destroyer: sinners love company in sin. But they have so much the more to answer for. How cautious young people should be! Consent thou not. Do not say as they say, nor do as they do, or would have thee to do; have no fellowship with them. Who could think that it should be a pleasure to one man to destroy another! See their idea of worldly wealth; but it is neither substance, nor precious. It is the ruinous mistake of thousands, that they overvalue the wealth of this world. Men promise themselves in vain that sin will turn to their advantage. The way of sin is down-hill; men cannot stop themselves. Would young people shun temporal and eternal ruin, let them refuse to take one step in these destructive paths. Men's greediness of gain hurries them upon practices which will not suffer them or others to live out half their days. What is a man profited, though he gain the world, if he lose his life? much less if he lose his soul?The temptation against which the teacher seeks to guard his disciple is that of joining a band of highway robbers. The "vain men" who gathered around Jephthah Judges 11:3, the lawless or discontented who came to David in Adullam 1 Samuel 22:2, the bands of robbers who infested every part of the country in the period of the New Testament, and against whom every Roman governor had to wage incessant war, show how deeply rooted the evil was in Palestine. Compare the Psalm 10:7, note; Psalm 10:10 note.

Without cause - Better, in vain; most modern commentators join the words with "innocent," and interpret them after Job 1:9. The evil-doers deride their victims as being righteous "in vain." They get nothing by it. It does them no good.

11-14. Murder and robbery are given as specific illustrations.

lay wait … lurk privily—express an effort and hope for successful concealment.

swallow … grave—utterly destroy the victim and traces of the crime (Nu 16:33; Ps 55:15). Abundant rewards of villainy are promised as the fruits of this easy and safe course.

Come with us; we are numerous, and strong, and sociable.

Let us lay wait for blood; to shed blood. He expresseth not their words, which would rather affright than inveigle a young novice; but the true nature and consequence of the action, and what lies at the bottom of their specious pretences.

Lurk privily; so we shall neither be prevented before, nor discovered and punished afterward.

The innocent; harmless travellers, who are more careless and secure, and unprovided for opposition, than such villains as themselves.

Without cause; though they have not provoked us, nor deserved this usage from us. This Solomon adds to discover their malignity and baseness, and so deter the young man from association with them. If they say, come with us,.... Leave your father's house, and the business of life in which you are; make one of us, and become a member of our society, and go along with us upon the highway;

let us lay wait for blood; lie in ambush under some hedge or another, waiting till a rich traveller comes up and passes that way, and then rise and shed his blood in order to get his money; and the same word signifies both "blood" and "money", and wait is laid for one for the sake of the other;

let us lurk privily for the innocent without cause; or "let us hide" (q), the Vulgate Latin version adds "snares"; so Vatablus and others, as the fowler does for birds; or "let us hide ourselves" (r); in some private place, waiting "for the innocent", the harmless traveller, who has done no injury to any man's person or property; thinks himself safe, and is not aware of any design upon him; going about his lawful business, and having done nothing to provoke such miscreants to attempt his life or take away his property: and which they do "without cause" as to him; "freely" (s) as to themselves; and "with impunity" (t), as they promise themselves and one another; all which senses the word used will bear.

(q) "abscondamus", Michaelis. (r) "Abscondamus nos", Pagninus, Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "abscondamus nosmetipsos", Baynus. (s) "gratis", Pagninus, Montanus, Michaelis, Schultens. (t) "Impune", Junius & Tremellius, Amama.

If they say, Come with us, let us lay wait for {k} blood, let us lurk privily for the innocent without cause:

(k) He speaks not only of the shedding of blood with hand, but of all crafty practises which tend to the detriment of our neighbour.

11. for blood] The shameless form of the proposal shows at once the insecurity and the low moral tone of society. The language is too strong and vivid to admit of a figurative interpretation: Let us rob them violently of their bread which is their life. Compare

“The bread of the needy is the life of the poor:

He that depriveth him thereof is a man of blood.”

Sir 34:21.

without cause] So A.V. and R.V., i.e. though (the reflection being that of the author, not of the speaker) he has done them no harm, given them no cause to injure him. So LXX. ἀδίκως. Others, less probably, take the adverb with the word “innocent”: for them who are innocent in vain (who serve God for nought, Job 1:9, where the Heb. word is the same as here), because, as we will soon shew, his innocency will profit him nothing. “Contra insontem frustra,” Vulg. “Pio nullum pietatis præmium habituro,” Maur.Verse 11. - If they say, Come with us, let us lay wait for blood. The teacher here puts into the mouth of the sinners, for the sake of vivid representation, the first inducement with which they seek to allure youth from the paths of rectitude, viz. privacy and concealment (Cartwright, Wardlaw). Both the verbs אָרַב (arav) and צָפַן, (tzaphan) mean "to lay in wait" (Zockler). The radical meaning of arav, from which נֶאֶרְבָה (neer'vah), "let us lay in wait" (Authorized Version) is taken, is "to knot, to weave, to intertwine." Verbs of this class are often applied to snares and craftiness (cf. the Greek δόλον ὑδαίνειν, and the Latin insidias nectere, "to weave plots, or lay snares"). Generally, arav is equivalent to "to watch in ambush" (Gesenius); cf. the Vulgate, insidiemur sanguini; i.e. "let us lay wait for blood." The LXX. paraphrases the expression, κοινώνησον αἵματος, i.e. "let us share in blood." On the other hand, צָפַן (tzaphan), from which נִצְפְנָה (nitz'p'nah), translated in the Authorized Version, "let us lurk privily," is "to hide or conceal," and intrans. "to hide one's self," or ellipt., "to hide nets, snares" (Gesenius, Holden). This sense agrees with the Vulgate abscondamus tendiculas; i.e. "let us conceal snares." Delitzsch, however, holds that no word is to be understood with this verb, and traces the radical meaning to that of restraining one's self, watching, lurking. in the sense of speculari, "to watch for," insidiari, "to lay wait for." The two verbs combine what may be termed the apparatus, the arrangement of the plot and their lurking in ambush, by which they will await their victims. For blood (לְדָם, l'dam). The context (see vers. 12 and 16), bearing as it does upon bloodshed accompanying robbery, requires that the Hebrew לְדָם (l'dam) should be understood here, as Fleischer remarks, either elliptically, for "the blood of men," as the Jewish interpreters explain, or synedochically, for the person, with especial reference to his blood being shed, as in Psalm 94:21. Vatablus, Cornelius a Lapide. and Gesenius support the latter view (cf. Micah 7:2, "They all lie in wait for blood," i.e. for bloodshed, or murder. דָם (dam) may be also taken for life in the sense that "the blood is the life" (Deuteronomy 12:23). Let us lurk privily for the innocent without cause. The relation of the phrase. "without cause" (חִנָּם, khinnam), in this sentence is a matter of lnueh dispute. It may be taken either with

(1) the verb (as in the Authorized Version, Wordsworth, Luther, Van Ess, Noyes, Zockler, Delitzsch, Hatzig, LXX., Syriac, Rashi, Ralbac), and then "lurk privily without cause" is equivalent to

(a) without having any reason for revenge and enmity (Zockler), i.e. though they have not provoked us, nor done us any injury, yet let us hurt them, in the sense of absque causa (Munsterus, Paganini Version, Piscatoris Version, Mercerus), ἀδικῶς (LXX.), inique (Arabic);

(b) with impunity, since none will avenge them in the sense of Job 9:12 (this is the view of Lowestein, but it is rejected by Delitzsch); or

(2) it may be taken with the adjective "innocent," in which case it means him that is innocent in vain; i.e. the man whose innocence will in vain protect (Zockler, Holden), who gets nothing by it (Plumptre), or, innocent in vain, since God does not vindicate hint (Cornelius a Lapide). On the analogy of 1 Samuel 19:5; 1 Samuel 25:31; Psalm 35:19; Psalm 69:4; Lamentations 3:52, it seems preferable to adopt the first connection, and to take the adverb with the verb. In the whole of the passage there is an evident allusion to an evil prevalent in the age of Solomon, viz. the presence of bands of robbers, or banditti, who disturbed the security and internal peace of the country. In the New Testament the same state of things continued, and is alluded to by our Lord in the parable of the man who fell among thieves. In this verse the infinitives of the object pass into independent sentences for the sake of variety. That ישׁמע cannot mean audiet, but audiat, is shown by Proverbs 9:9; but ויסף is jussive (with the tone thrown back before לקח; cf. Proverbs 10:8, and Proverbs 16:21, Proverbs 16:23, where the tone is not thrown back, as also 2 Samuel 24:3) with the consecutive Vav ( ו ) ( equals Arab. f): let him hear, thus will he... or, in order that he. Whoever is wise is invited to hear these proverbs in order to add learning (doctrinam) to that which he already possesses, according to the principle derived from experience, Proverbs 9:9; Matthew 13:12. The segolate לקח, which in pausa retains its segol (as also בּטח, ישׁע, צמח, מלך, צדק, קדם, and others), means reception, and concretely what one takes into himself with his ear and mind; therefore learning (διδαχὴ with the object of the ἀποδοχή), as Deuteronomy 32:2 (parallel אמרה, as Deuteronomy 4:2 תּורה), and then learning that has passed into the possession of the receiver, knowledge, science (Isaiah 29:24, parall. בּינה). Schultens compares the Arab. laḳah, used of the fructification of the female palm by the flower-dust of the male. The part. נבון (the inf. of which is found only once, Isaiah 10:13) is the passive or the reflexive of the Hiph. הבין, to explain, to make to understand: one who is caused to understand or who lets himself be informed, and thus an intelligent person - that is one who may gain תּחבּות by means of these proverbs. This word, found only in the plur. (probably connected with חבל, shipmaster, properly one who has to do with the חבלים, ship's ropes, particularly handles the sails, lxx κυβέρνησιν), signifies guidance, management, skill to direct anything (Job 32:7, of God's skill which directs the clouds), and in the plur. conception, the taking measures, designs in a good sense, or also (as in Proverbs 12:5) in a bad sense; here it means guiding thoughts, regulating principles, judicious rules and maxims, as Deuteronomy 11:14, prudent rules of government, Deuteronomy 20:18; Deuteronomy 24:6 of stratagems. Fl. compares the Arab. tedbı̂r (guidance, from דּבר, to lead cattle), with its plur. tedâbı̂r, and the Syr. dubôro, direction, management, etc.
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