Proverbs 22:16
He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches, and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want.
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(16) He that oppresseth the poor . . .—Rather, he that does so is (thereby) giving to the rich, only to (his own) loss. That is, he shall be none the better for the act of oppression, but shall have to disgorge his prey to some one richer and more powerful than himself, and thereby be reduced to poverty.

Proverbs 22:16. He that oppresseth the poor — That extorts what is not due to him from his poor tenants and neighbours, invades their rights, and takes advantage of their ignorance, or want of experience, or necessity, to increase his riches; and he that giveth to the rich — That vainly and prodigally casts away his estate on those who do not need it, or gives it to them with an evil design, as that they may assist him in oppressing the poor, or, at least, not hinder him in it; shall surely come to want — Of the necessaries of life. God will punish him with poverty for his double and heinous sin. This exposition is given on the ground of our translation. But the vulgar Latin, which Luther and some others follow, evidently gives a more exact and literal interpretation of the Hebrew text, thus: He that oppresseth the poor that he may increase his riches, gives to the rich only for poverty, or, to empoverish himself. According to this; says Bishop Patrick, the paraphrase should be, “Such is the just providence of Almighty God, that he who, to enlarge his own estate or power, oppresses the poor by violence or deceit, shall meet with the like extortion from others more powerful than himself; and thereby be reduced to as poor a condition as those whom he oppressed.”

22:1 We should be more careful to do that by which we may get and keep a good name, than to raise or add unto a great estate. 2. Divine Providence has so ordered it, that some are rich, and others poor, but all are guilty before God; and at the throne of God's grace the poor are as welcome as the rich. 3. Faith foresees the evil coming upon sinners, and looks to Jesus Christ as the sure refuge from the storm. 4. Where the fear of God is, there will be humility. And much is to be enjoyed by it; spiritual riches, and eternal life at last. 5. The way of sin is vexatious and dangerous. But the way of duty is safe and easy. 6. Train children, not in the way they would go, that of their corrupt hearts, but in the way they should go; in which, if you love them, you would have them go. As soon as possible every child should be led to the knowledge of the Saviour. 7. This shows how important it is for every man to keep out of debt. As to the things of this life, there is a difference between the rich and the poor; but let the poor remember, it is the Lord that made the difference. 8. The power which many abuse, will soon fail them. 9. He that seeks to relieve the wants and miseries of others shall be blessed. 10. Profane scoffers and revilers disturb the peace. 11. God will be the Friend of a man in whose spirit there is no guile; this honour have all the saints. 12. God turns the counsels and designs of treacherous men to their own confusion. 13. The slothful man talks of a lion without, but considers not his real danger from the devil, that roaring lion within, and from his own slothfulness, which kills him. 14. The vile sin of licentiousness commonly besots the mind beyond recovery. 15. Sin is foolishness, it is in the heart, there is an inward inclination to sin: children bring it into the world with them; and it cleaves close to the soul. We all need to be corrected by our heavenly Father. 16. We are but stewards, and must distribute what God intrusts to our care, according to his will.Better, He who oppresses the poor for his own profit gives. (i. e., will, in the common course of things, be compelled to give) to a rich man, and that only to his own loss. Ill-gotten gains do not prosper, and only expose the oppressor to extortion and violence in his turn. 16. These two vices pertain to the same selfish feeling. Both are deservedly odious to God and incur punishment. That giveth to the rich; that vainly and prodigally casts away his estate upon those who do not need it, or gives it to them with evil design, as that they may assist him in oppressing the poor, or at least not hinder him in it.

He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches,.... By taking away from them the little they have; by keeping back their hire, defrauding them of the just wages of their labours; or by usury and extortion, or any other unjust method, whereby they distress the poor, and enrich themselves;

and he that giveth to the rich shall surely come to want: that gives to those that are richer than he; or that are in greater power and authority, that they may protect him in the possession of his ill gotten riches; yet, after all, it shall not thrive and prosper with him, it will all issue in poverty and want: or, as the Vulgate Latin version renders it, "he shall give to one more rich, and shall want"; he shall be forced to give it to another richer than he, and of greater power, and so shall get nothing by his oppression of the poor; but as he has served the poor, so shall he be served himself, and be brought to beggary and want; see Proverbs 21:13.

He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches, and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want.
16. shall surely come] Or, cometh only, R.V. Two opposite methods of self-aggrandisement, grinding the poor and currying favour with the rich, have a common end in penury.

Some, however, would render, He that oppresseth the poor (does it) to increase his (the poor man’s) gain, because he urges him to fresh and successful effort; He that giveth to the rich (does it) only to (the rich man’s) want, because he encourages him in the sloth and indulgence which bring him to poverty. But this is far-fetched, and the suggestion that by oppressing your neighbour you may after all prove to be his benefactor is out of harmony with the moral tone of this Book.

Verse 16. - He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches (so the Vulgate), and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want. There are various renderings and explanations of this verse. The Authorized Version says that he who oppresseth the poor to enrich himself, and he who wastes his means by giving to those who do not need it, will come to poverty. But the antithesis of this distich is thus lost. The Hebrew literally rendered brings out the contrast, Whosoever oppresseth the poor, it is for his gain; whosoever giveth to the rich, it is for his loss. Delitzsch explains the sentence thus: "He who enriches himself by extortion from the poor, at any rate gains what he desires; but he who gives to the rich impoverishes himself in vain, has no thanks, reaps only disappointment." One cannot but feel that the maxim thus interpreted is poor and unsatisfactory. The interpretation in the 'Speaker's Commentary' is more plausible: The oppressor of the poor will himself suffer in a similar mode, and will have to surrender his ill-gotten gains to some equally unscrupulous rich man. But the terse antithesis of the original is wholly obscured by this view of the distich. It is far better, with Hitzig, Ewald, and others, to take the gain in the first hemistich as that of the poor man, equivalent to "doth but bring him gain;" though the sentence is not necessarily to be explained as suggesting that the injustice which the poor man suffers at the hand of his wealthy neighbour is a stimulus to him to exert himself in order to better his position, and thus indirectly tends to his enrichment. The maxim is really conceived in the religious style of so many of these apparently worldly pronouncements, and states a truth in the moral government of God intimated elsewhere, e.g. Proverbs 13:22; Proverbs 28:8; and that truth is that the riches extorted from the poor man will in the end redound to his benefit, that by God's providential control the oppression and injustice from which he has suffered shall work to his good. In the second hemistich the loss is that of the rich man. By adding to the wealth of the rich the donor increases his indolence, encourages his luxury, vice, and extravagance, and thus leads to his ruin - "bringeth only to want. Septuagint, "He that calumniates (συκοφαντῶν) the poor increaseth his own substance, but giveth to the rich at a loss (ἐπ ἐλάσσονι)" i.e. so as to lessen his substance. Proverbs 22:1616 Whosoever oppresseth the lowly, it is gain to him;

     Whosoever giveth to the rich, it is only loss.

It is before all clear that להרבּות and למחסור, as at Proverbs 21:5, למותר and למחסור, are contrasted words, and form the conclusions to the participles used, with the force of hypothetical antecedents. Jerome recognises this: qui calumniatur pauperem, ut augeat divitias suas, dabit ipse ditiori et egebit. So Rashi, who by עשׁיר thinks on heathen potentates. Proportionally better Euchel, referring עשׁק and נתן, not to one person, but to two classes of men: he who oppresses the poor to enrich himself, and is liberal toward the rich, falls under want. The antithetic distich thus becomes an integral one - the antithesis manifestly intended is not brought out. This may be said also against Bertheau, who too ingeniously explains: He who oppresses the poor to enrich himself gives to a rich man, i.e., to himself, the enriched, only to want, i.e., only to lose again that which he gained unrighteously. Ralbag is on the right track, for he suggests the explanation: he who oppresses the poor, does it to his gain, for he thereby impels him to a more energetic exercise of his strength; he who gives to the rich man does it to his own loss, because the rich man does not thank him for it, and still continues to look down on him. But if one refers לּו to the poor, then it lies nearer to interpret אך למחסור of the rich: he who gives presents to the rich only thereby promotes his sleepy indolence, and so much the more robs him of activity (Elster); for that which one gives to him is only swallowed up in the whirlpool of his extravagance (Zckler). Thus Hitzig also explains, who remarks, under 17a: "Oppression produces reaction, awakens energy, and thus God on the whole overrules events" (Exodus 1:12). Similarly also Ewald, who thinks on a mercenary, unrighteous rich man: God finally lifts up the oppressed poor man; the rich man always becoming richer, on the contrary, is "punished for all his wickedness only more and more." But with all these explanations there is too much read between the lines. Since אך למחדור (Proverbs 11:24; Proverbs 21:5) refers back to the subject: himself to mere loss, so also will it be here; and the lxx, Symmachus, Jerome (cf. also the Syr. auget malum suum) are right when they also refer לו, not to the poor man, but to the oppressor of the poor. We explain: he who extorts from the poor enriches himself thereby; but he who gives to the rich has nothing, and less than nothing, thereby - he robs himself, has no thanks, only brings himself by many gifts lower and lower down. In the first case at least, 17a, the result corresponds to the intention; but in this latter case, 17b, one gains only bitter disappointment.

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