Remove not the ancient landmark, which your fathers have set.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Remove not the ancient landmark.—The stones marking the boundaries of the fields: evidently a not uncommon crime, from the earnestness with which it is forbidden. (Comp. Proverbs 23:10; Deuteronomy 19:14; Deuteronomy 27:17.)Proverbs 22:28. Remove not the ancient landmark — Whereby the lands of several possessors were distinguished and divided. Do not enrich thyself with the injury of other men: do not invade the rights of others.Isaiah 5:8 which is regardless of the rights of the poor upon whose inheritance men encroach (compare the margin reference). The not uncommon reference of the words to the "landmarks" of thought or custom, however, natural and legitimate, is foreign to the mind of the writer. Landmark, whereby the lands of several possessors were distinguished and divided. Do not enrich thyself with the injury of other men; do not invade the rights of others. Deuteronomy 19:14; and was always reckoned a very heinous crime in early times; See Gill on Job 24:2. This was so sacred a thing among the Romans, that they had a deity which presided over those bounds, and had its name from them. Some apply this, in a political sense, to laws of long standing, and customs of long prescription; and others interpret it, in a theological sense, of doctrines and practices settled by the fathers of the church; which, if understood of Christ and his apostles only, will be allowed; but if of the ancient fathers of the church that followed them, it should not be received; since they were but fallible men, and guilty of many errors and mistakes, both in doctrine and practice. Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)28. Comp. Proverbs 23:10; Deuteronomy 19:14.Verse 28. - The first line is repeated at Proverbs 23:10. (On the sanctity of landmarks, see note on Proverbs 15:25.) Some of the stones, exhibiting a bilingual inscription, which marked the boundaries of the Levitical city of Gezer, were discovered by Gauneau in 1874 ('Quart. Statement Pal. Explor. Fund,' 1874). The Septuagint calls the landmarks ὅρια αἰώνια. Proverbs 22:16, forms the commencement of this collection:
22 Rob not the lowly because he is lowly;
And oppress not the humble in the gate.
23 For Jahve will conduct their cause,
And rob their spoilers of life.
Though it may bring gain, as said Proverbs 22:16, to oppress the דּל, the lowly or humble, yet at last the oppressor comes to ruin. The poet here warns against robbing the lowly because he is lowly, and thus without power of defence, and not to be feared; and against doing injustice to the עני, the bowed down, and therefore incapable of resisting in the gate, i.e., in the court of justice. These poor men have not indeed high human patrons, but One in heaven to undertake their cause: Jahve will conduct their cause (יריב ריבם, as at Proverbs 23:10), i.e., will undertake their vindication, and be their avenger. דּכּא (דּכּה), Aram. and Arab. daḳḳ (cf. דּקק, Arab. daḳḳ), signifies to crush anything so that it becomes broad and flat, figuratively to oppress, synon. עשׁק (Fleischer). The verb קבע has, in Chald. and Syr., the signification to stick, to fix (according to which Aquila here translates καθηλοῦν, to nail; Jerome, configere); and as root-word to קבּעת, the signification to be arched, like (Arab.) ḳab', to be humpbacked; both significations are here unsuitable. The connection here requires the meaning to rob; and for Malachi 3:8 also, this same meaning is to be adopted, robbery and taking from one by force (Parchon, Kimchi), not: to deceive (Khler, Keil), although it might have the sense of robbing by withholding or refraining from doing that which is due, thus of a sacrilege committed by omission or deception. The Talm. does not know the verb קבע in this meaning; but it is variously found as a dialectic word for גזל.
(Note: Thus Rosch ha-schana 26b: Levi came once to N.N. There a man came to meet him, and cried out קבען פלניא. Levi knew not what he would say, and went into the Madrash-house to ask. One answered him: He is a robber (גזלן) said that one to thee; for it is said in the Scriptures (Malachi 3:8), "Will a man rob God?" etc. (vid., Wissenschaft Kunst Judenthum, p. 243). In the Midrash, שׁוחר טוב, to Psalm 57:1-11, R. Levi says that אתה קיבע לי is used in the sense of אתה גוזל לי. And in the Midrash Tanchuma, P. תרומה, R. Levi answers the question, "What is the meaning of קבע, Malachi 3:8?" - It is an Arabic expression. An Arabian, when he wishes to say to another מה אתה גוזלני, says instead of it, מה אתה קובעני. Perhaps קבע is cogn. to קבץ; the R. קב coincides in several groups of languages (also the Turkish ḳb) with the Lat. capere.)
Schultens' etymological explanation, capitium injicere (after Arab. ḳab', to draw back and conceal the head), is not satisfactory. The construction, with the double accus., follows the analogy of הכּהוּ נפשׁ and the like, Gesen. 139. 2. Regarding the sing. נפשׁ, even where several are spoken of, vid., under Proverbs 1:19.
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