Proverbs 2:19
None that go unto her return again, neither take they hold of the paths of life.
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2:10-22 If we are truly wise, we shall be careful to avoid all evil company and evil practices. When wisdom has dominion over us, then it not only fills the head, but enters into the heart, and will preserve, both against corruptions within and temptations without. The ways of sin are ways of darkness, uncomfortable and unsafe: what fools are those who leave the plain, pleasant, lightsome paths of uprightness, to walk in such ways! They take pleasure in sin; both in committing it, and in seeing others commit it. Every wise man will shun such company. True wisdom will also preserve from those who lead to fleshly lusts, which defile the body, that living temple, and war against the soul. These are evils which excite the sorrow of every serious mind, and cause every reflecting parent to look upon his children with anxiety, lest they should be entangled in such fatal snares. Let the sufferings of others be our warnings. Our Lord Jesus deters from sinful pleasures, by the everlasting torments which follow them. It is very rare that any who are caught in this snare of the devil, recover themselves; so much is the heart hardened, and the mind blinded, by the deceitfulness of this sin. Many think that this caution, besides the literal sense, is to be understood as a caution against idolatry, and subjecting the soul to the body, by seeking any forbidden object. The righteous must leave the earth as well as the wicked; but the earth is a very different thing to them. To the wicked it is all the heaven they ever shall have; to the righteous it is the place of preparation for heaven. And is it all one to us, whether we share with the wicked in the miseries of their latter end, or share those everlasting joys that shall crown believers?The words describe more than the fatal persistency of the sinful habit when once formed. A resurrection from that world of the dead to "the paths of life" is all but impossible. 19. that is, such as remain impenitent (compare Ec 7:26).

paths of life—(Ps 16:11), opposed to paths unto the dead.

None; few or none; an hyperbolical expression, used Isaiah 64:7.

That go unto her; that go to her house, or that lie with her, as this phrase is used, Genesis 16:4 30:4 Joshua 2:13.

Return again, from her and from this wickedness, unto God. Adulterers and whoremongers are very rarely brought to repentance, but are generally hardened by the power and deceitfulness of that lust, and by God’s just judgment, peculiarly inflicted upon such persons, Hebrews 13:4. He alludes to the nature of corporal death, from which no man can without a miracle return to this life.

Of the paths of life; of those courses which lead to true and eternal life.

None that go unto her return again,.... That is, those that commit whoredom with her return not again by repentance, and to a sober and chaste way of living, at least but very few; hence some of the ancients thought adultery was the unpardonable sin; but it is certain that some have been recovered by the power of divine grace, and have been brought to repentance for their impure manner of life, and have truly believed in Christ, and lived sober and godly lives afterwards; but, as the Targum adds, they do not return "in peace", but with great distress of mind, remorse of conscience, and bitterness of soul; and these instances are rare; generally speaking, such as are ensnared by an adulterous woman, whose heart is snares and nets, and whose hands are as bands, are held so fast by her that they seldom get out again, though some few may escape, Ecclesiastes 7:26. The words may be rendered, "all that go into her (z) shall not return again"; no, very few of them. And it is a very rare thing, when men are fallen into idolatry, superstition, will worship, and heresy, that they are recovered out of this snare of the devil; there is a peradventure they may, but it is not often that they be loosed from it, 2 Timothy 2:25;

neither take they hold of the paths of life; Christ, and the ways of Christ, which lead to eternal life; few there be that find these paths and walk in them, Matthew 7:14; and especially such as are drawn aside by an impure woman, they are held so fast by her alluring charms, and so bewildered by her art of deceiving, that they are like persons that are led out of their way, and cannot find it again.

(z) "omnes ingredientes eam", Pagninus, Montanus.

None that go unto her return again, neither take they hold of the paths of life.
19. take they hold of] Rather, reach, or (R.V.) attain unto.

Verse 19. - None that go unto her return again. The fate of the companions of the strange woman is described as irrevocable. All who visit her shall not return again. The Targum reads, "They shall not return in peace." The difficulty which they who give themselves up to the indulgence of lust and passion encounter in extricating themselves makes the statement of the teacher an almost universal truth. Hence St. Chrysostom says, "It is as difficult to bring back a libidinous person to chastity as a dead man to life." This passage led some of the Fathers to declare that the sin of adultery was unpardonable. Fornication was classed by the scholastic divines among the seven deadly sins, and it has this character given to it in the Litany: "From fornication, and all other deadly sin." St. Paul says, "No whoremonger nor unclean person...hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God" (Ephesians 5:5; cf. 1 Corinthians 6:9; Revelation 22:15). The sin which they commit who have dealings with the strange woman is deadly and leads on to death, and from death there is no return, nor laying hold of or regaining the paths of life (see Job 7:9, 10). Compare the words with which Deiphobe, the Cumaean sibyl, addresses AEneas -

"Tros Anchysiade, facilis descensus Averno
Sed revocare gradum superasque evadere ad auras,
Hoc opus, hic labor est."

(Virgil, 'AEneid,' 6:126-129.) O Trojan, son of Anchyses, easy is the path that leads to hell. But to retrace one's steps, and escape to the upper regions, this is a work, this is a task. Proverbs 2:1917 Who forsakes the companion of her youth,

     And forgets the covenant of her God;

18 For she sinks down to death together with her house,

     And to the shadow of Hades her paths -

19 All they who go to her return not again,

     And reach not the paths of life

אלּוּף, as here used, has nothing to do with the phylarch-name, similar in sound, which is a denom. of אלף; but it comes immediately from אלף, to accustom oneself to a person or cause, to be familiar therewith (while the Aram. אלף, ילף, to learn, Pa. to teach), and thus means, as the synon. of רע, the companion or familiar associate (vid., Schultens). Parallels such as Jeremiah 3:4 suggested to the old interpreters the allegorical explanation of the adulteress as the personification of the apostasy or of heresy. Proverbs 2:18 the lxx translate: ἔθετο γὰρ παρὰ τῷ θανάτῳ τὸν οἶκον αὐτῆς: she (the dissolute wife) has placed her house beside death (the abyss of death). This שׁחה [ἔθετο] is perhaps the original, for the text as it lies before us is doubtful, though, rightly understood, admissible. The accentuation marks בּיתהּ as the subject, but בּית is elsewhere always masc., and does not, like the rarer ארח, Proverbs 2:15, admit in usage a double gender; also, if the fem. usage were here introduced (Bertheau, Hitzig), then the predicate, even though ביתה were regarded as fem., might be, in conformity with rule, שׁח, as e.g., Isaiah 2:17. שׁחה is, as in Psalm 44:26, 3rd pr. of שׁוּח, Arab. sâkh, to go down, to sink; the emendation שׁחה (Joseph Kimchi) does not recommend itself on this account, that שׁחה and שׁחח mean, according to usage, to stoop or to bend down; and to interpret (Ralbag, השׁפילה) שׁחה transitively is inadmissible. For that reason Aben Ezra interprets ביתה as in apposition: to death, to its house; but then the poet in that case should say אל־שׁאול, for death is not a house. On the other hand, we cannot perceive in ביתה an accus. of the nearer definition (J. H. Michaelis, Fl.); the expression would here, as 15a, be refined without purpose. Bttcher has recognised ביתה as permutative, the personal subject: for she sinks down to death, her house, i.e., she herself, together with all that belongs to her; cf. the permutative of the subject, Job 29:3; Isaiah 29:23 (vid., comm. l.c.), and the more particularly statement of the object, Exodus 2:6, etc. Regarding רפאים, shadows of the under-world (from רפה, synon. חלה, weakened, or to become powerless), a word common to the Solomonic writings, vid., Comment. on Isaiah, p. 206. What Proverbs 2:18 says of the person of the adulteress, Proverbs 2:19 says of those who live with her ביתה, her house-companions. בּאיה, "those entering in to her," is equivalent to בּאים אליה; the participle of verbs eundi et veniendi takes the accusative object of the finite as gen. in st. constr., as e.g., Proverbs 1:12; Proverbs 2:7; Genesis 23:18; Genesis 9:10 (cf. Jeremiah 10:20). The ישׁוּבוּן, with the tone on the ult., is a protestation: there is no return for those who practise fornication,

(Note: One is here reminded of the expression in the Aeneid, vi. 127-129:

Revocare gradum superasque evadere ad auras,

Hoc opes, hoc labor est.

See also an impure but dreadful Talmudic story about a dissolute Rabbi, b. Aboda zara, 17a.)

and they do not reach the paths of life from which they have so widely strayed.

(Note: In correct texts ולא־ישיגו has the Makkeph. Vid., Torath Emeth, p. 41; Accentuationssystem, xx. 2.)

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