Proverbs 17:23
A wicked man takes a gift out of the bosom to pervert the ways of judgment.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(23) A wicked man taketh a gift out of the bosom.—Or rather, receives it. “From the bosom” signifies the folds of the dress in which the bribe was concealed, ready to be slipped into the judge’s hand whose favour was to be bought.

Proverbs 17:23. A wicked man — Whether judge or witness; taketh a gift out of the bosom — In secret, as this phrase is expounded Proverbs 21:14, being privily conveyed from the bosom of the giver into his own bosom; to pervert the ways of judgment — To give or procure an unjust sentence. Bishop Patrick’s paraphrase of the verse is, “No man would willingly be known to be so wicked as to be bribed to do injustice, but there are too many that will suffer themselves to be secretly corrupted by presents, to give counsel or judgment contrary to the course of law and equity.”17:19. If we would keep a clear conscience and a quiet mind, we must shun all excitements to anger. And a man who affects a style of living above his means, goes the way to ruin. 20. There is nothing got by ill designs. And many have paid dear for an unbridled tongue. 21. This speaks very plainly what many wise and good men feel very strongly, how grievous it is to have a foolish, wicked child. 22. It is great mercy that God gives us leave to be cheerful, and cause to be cheerful, if by his grace he gives us hearts to be cheerful. 23. The wicked are ready to part with their money, though loved, that they may not suffer for their crimes. 24. The prudent man keeps the word of God continually in view. But the foolish man cannot fix his thoughts, nor pursue any purpose with steadiness. 25. Wicked children despise the authority of their father, and the tenderness of their mother. 26. It is very wrong to find fault for doing what is duty. 27,28. A man may show himself to be a wise man, by the good temper of his mind, and by the good government of his tongue. He is careful when he does speak, to speak to the purpose. God knows his heart, and the folly that is bound there; therefore he cannot be deceived in his judgment as men may be.The words "out of the bosom," from the fold of the garment, rather than from the bag or girdle in which money was usually carried, possibly point to the stealthiness with which the "gift" (or, bribe) is offered to the judge. 23. a gift … bosom—Money and other valuables were borne in a fold of the garment, called the bosom.

to pervert—that is, by bribery.

A wicked man, whether judge or witness.

Out of the bosom; in secret, as this phrase is expounded, Proverbs 21:14, being privily conveyed from the bosom of the giver into his own bosom.

To pervert the ways of judgment; to give or procure an unjust sentence. A wicked man taketh a gift out of the bosom,.... Of another, of a rich man, who takes it out from thence, and offers it to him as a bribe. This he takes in the most secret manner, that it might not be seen by others; though the Arabic version renders it, "he that receives a gift in his own bosom commits iniquity"; it is true of both the giver and the receiver; the one gives out of his bosom, and the other takes if from thence, and puts it into his own, and both are wicked. And the words are by some rendered, though it seems contrary to the accents, "a gift out of the bosom of the wicked he will take" (z); the unjust judge, who is bribed with it:

to pervert the ways of judgment; to turn the course of justice, and hinder it from taking place; favouring a bad cause, and pronouncing a wrong sentence, which is wresting judgment.

(z) "munus de sinu impii accipiet", Baynus.

A wicked man taketh a bribe out of the {l} bosom to pervert the ways of judgment.

(l) That is, secretly and out of the bosom of the rich.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
23. out of the bosom] i.e. the fold of the garment in which it had been concealed; denoting the stealthy action either of the suitor who proffers, or more probably of the judge who receives the bribe. Comp. Proverbs 21:14.Verse 23. - A gift out of the bosom; i.e. secretly from the fold of the garment, and not from the purse or bag wherein money was ostensibly carried. A corrupt judge "taketh," i.e. receives a bribe conveyed to him secretly (Proverbs 21:14). To pervert the ways of judgment. The judges had no appointed salaries; hence the unprincipled among them were open to bribery. The strict injunctions of the Law, and the stern denunciations of the prophets, were alike ineffectual in checking corruption (see Exodus 23:8; Deuteronomy 16:19; Isaiah 1:23; Jeremiah 22:17; Ezekiel 13:19; Hosea 4:18, etc.). Septuagint, "The man that receiveth gifts in his bosom unjustly, his ways shall not prosper." For, as Job avows (Job 15:34), "Fire shall consume the tabernacles of bribery." The LXX. adds, "The impious turns aside from the ways of righteousness." 17 At all times the right friend shows himself loving;

     And as a brother is he born for adversity.

Brother is more than friend, he stands to one nearer than a friend does, Psalm 35:14; but the relation of a friend may deepen itself into a spiritual, moral brotherhood, Psalm 18:24, and there is no name of friend that sounds dearer than אחי, 2 Samuel 1:26. 17a and 17b are, according to this, related to each other climactically. The friend meant in 17a is a true friend. Of no other is it said that he loves בּכל־עת, i.e., makes his love manifest; and also the article in הרע not only here gives to the word more body, but stamps it as an ideal-word: the friend who corresponds to the idea of such an one.

(Note: The Arab. grammarians say that the article in this case stands, l'astfrâgh khsânas âljnas, as an exhaustive expression of all essential properties of the genus, i.e., to express the full ideal realization of the idea in that which is named.)

The inf. of the Hiph., in the sense "to associate" (Ewald), cannot therefore be הרע, because רע is not derived from רעע, but from רעה. Thus there exists no contrast between 17a and 17b, so that the love of a friend is thought of, in contradistinction to that of a brother, as without permanency (Fl.); but 17b means that the true friend shows himself in the time of need, and that thus the friendship becomes closer, like that between brothers. The statements do not refer to two kinds of friends; this is seen from the circumstance that אח has not the article, as הרע has. It is not the subj. but pred., as אדם, Job 11:12 : sooner is a wild ass born or born again as a man. The meaning of הוּלד there, as at Psalm 87:5., borders on the notion of regenerari; here the idea is not essentially much less, for by the saying that the friend is born in the time of need, as a brother, is meant that he then for the first time shows himself as a friend, he receives the right status or baptism of such an one, and is, as it were, born into personal brotherly relationship to the sorely-tried friend. The translation comprobatur (Jerome) and erfunden [is found out] (Luther) obliterates the peculiar and thus intentional expression, for נולד is not at all a metaphor used for passing into the light - the two passages in Proverbs and in Job have not their parallel. לצרה is not equivalent to בּצרה (cf. Psalm 9:10; Psalm 10:1), for the interchange of the prep. in 17a and 17b would then be without any apparent reason. But Hitzig's translation also: as a brother he is born of adversity, is impossible, for ל after נודל and ילּד always designates that for which the birth is an advantage, not that from which it proceeds. Thus ל will be that of the purpose: for the purpose of the need, - not indeed to suffer (Job 5:7) on account of it, but to bear it in sympathy, and to help to bear it. Rightly Fleischer: frater autem ad aerumnam (sc. levandam et removendam) nascitur. The lxx gives this sense to the ל: ἀδελφοὶ δὲ ἐν ἀνάγκαις χρήσιμοι ἔστωσαν, τοῦτο γὰρ χάριν γεννῶνται.

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