Proverbs 23:32
At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
23:29-35 Solomon warns against drunkenness. Those that would be kept from sin, must keep from all the beginnings of it, and fear coming within reach of its allurements. Foresee the punishment, what it will at last end in, if repentance prevent not. It makes men quarrel. Drunkards wilfully make woe and sorrow for themselves. It makes men impure and insolent. The tongue grows unruly; the heart utters things contrary to reason, religion, and common civility. It stupifies and besots men. They are in danger of death, of damnation; as much exposed as if they slept upon the top of a mast, yet feel secure. They fear no peril when the terrors of the Lord are before them; they feel no pain when the judgments of God are actually upon them. So lost is a drunkard to virtue and honour, so wretchedly is his conscience seared, that he is not ashamed to say, I will seek it again. With good reason we were bid to stop before the beginning. Who that has common sense would contract a habit, or sell himself to a sin, which tends to such guilt and misery, and exposes a man every day to the danger of dying insensible, and awaking in hell? Wisdom seems in these chapters to take up the discourse as at the beginning of the book. They must be considered as the words of Christ to the sinner.Adder - Said to be the Cerastes, or horned snake.32. The acute miseries resulting from drunkenness contrasted with the temptations. It hurts the body in many respects, impairs the rigour of the mind, wastes the estate and reputation, wounds the conscience, and, without repentance, will destroy the soul.

At the last it biteth like a serpent,.... Though it goes down sweetly, yet it leaves a sting behind it, intemperately drank; a nausea in the stomach, a stink in the breath, pains and giddiness in the head, weakness in the eyes, trembling in the members of the body, palsy, gout, and other distempers, very painful and grievous to be bore; and, what is worse, if the conscience is awakened, sharp and cutting reflections there; and, without true repentance, torments intolerable in the world to come;

and stingeth like an adder; or "spreads" (u), or separates and scatters; that is, its poison. So the Vulgate Latin version, "diffuseth poisons as a basilisk", or "cockatrice"; the Targum and Syriac version,

"as a serpent which flies;''

it signifies the same as before.

(u) "jecur diffindet", Schultens.

At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verse 32. - At the last it biteth like a serpent. Wine is like the subtle poison of a serpent, which affects the whole body, and produces the most fatal consequences (comp. Ecclus. 21:2). Nachash is the generic name for any of the larger tribe of snakes (Genesis 3:1, etc.); the poisonous nature of its bite was, of course, well known (Numbers 21:9). Stingeth like an adder. The Hebrew word is tsiphoni, which is usually rendered "cockatrice" in the Authorized Version, but the particular species intended has not been accurately identified. There was some confusion in men's minds as to the organ which inflicted the poisonous wound. Thus a psalmist says, "They have sharpened their tongue like a serpent" (Psalm 140:3). But the verb "sting" is to be taken in the sense of puncturing, making a wound. Vulgate, Sicut regulus venena diffundet, "It will diffuse its poison like a basilisk:" Septuagint, "But at the last he stretches himself like one stricken by a serpent, and the venom is diffused through him as by a horned snake (κεράστου)." Proverbs 23:32The author passes from the sin of uncleanness to that of drunkenness; they are nearly related, for drunkenness excites fleshly lust; and to wallow with delight in the mire of sensuality, a man, created in the image of God, must first brutalize himself by intoxication. The Mashal in the number of its lines passes beyond the limits of the distich, and becomes a Mashal ode.

29 Whose is woe? Whose is grief?

     Whose are contentions, whose trouble, whose wounds without cause?

     Whose dimness of eyes?

30 Theirs, who sit late at the wine,

     Who turn in to taste mixed wine.

31 Look not on the wine as it sparkleth red,

     As it showeth its gleam in the cup,

     Glideth down with ease.

32 The end of it is that it biteth like a serpent,

     And stingeth like a basilisk.

33 Thine eyes shall see strange things,

     And thine heart shall speak perverse things;

34 And thou art as one lying in the heart of the sea,

continued...

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