Proverbs 24:27
Prepare your work without, and make it fit for yourself in the field; and afterwards build your house.
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(27) Prepare thy work without . . .—Method in work is here advised; first till the ground, and then build the house which will be maintained by the produce of the field. In the spiritual life, too, we should seek to “perceive and know what things we ought to do,” if we are not to waste time and energy upon unsuitable and unattainable objects.

Proverbs 24:27. Prepare thy work without — Use both industry and prudence in the management of thy concerns, and do every thing in the proper order. First, mind those things which are most necessary, cultivating the ground, and furnishing thyself with cattle, and the fruits of the field, which are needful for thy subsistence; and after that thou mayest procure such things as are for ornament and comfort, such as the building of a convenient house. Some, by the house here, understand a family, and consider this to be a direction respecting engaging in marriage, interpreting the verse thus: “Begin with cultivating thy land, and thou wilt be enabled to feed thy family; and after this, if thou wilt, thou mayest think of marrying.” — See Calmet.24:17,18. The pleasure we are apt to take in the troubles of an enemy is forbidden. 19,20. Envy not the wicked their prosperity; be sure there is no true happiness in it. 21,22. The godly in the land, will be quiet in the land. There may be cause to change for the better, but have nothing to do with them that are given change. 23-26. The wisdom God giveth, renders a man fit for his station. Every one who finds the benefit of the right answer, will be attached to him that gave it. 27. We must prefer necessaries before conveniences, and not go in debt.i. e., Get an estate into good order before erecting a house on it. To "build a house" may, however, be equivalent (compare Exodus 1:21; Deuteronomy 25:9; Ruth 4:11) to "founding a family;" and the words a warning against a hasty and imprudent marriage. The young man is taught to cultivate his land before he has to bear the burdens of a family. Further, in a spiritual sense, the "field" may be the man's outer common work, the "house" the dwelling-place of his higher life. He must do the former faithfully in order to attain the latter. Neglect in one is fatal to the other. Compare Luke 16:10-11. 27. Prepare … in the field—Secure, by diligence, a proper support, and then build; provide necessaries, then comforts, to which a house rather pertained, in a mild climate, permitting the use of tents. This is a domestical precept, requiring both industry and prudence in the management of a man’s concerns, that he take care in the first place to furnish himself with cattle and the fruits of the field, which are necessary for his subsistence, and after that he may procure such things as are for ornament and comfort, such as the building of a convenient house is. Prepare thy work without,.... As Solomon did for the building of the temple; timber and stones were prepared, hewed, squared, and fitted for the building before brought thither, 1 Kings 5:18; or diligently attend to thy business without doors, whatever it is, that thou mayest provide for thyself and family the necessaries and conveniences of life, which are in the first place to be sought after;

and make it fit for thyself in the field; let nothing be wanting in managing the affairs of husbandry, in tilling the land, in ploughing and sowing, and reaping, and gathering in the increase, that there may be a sufficiency for the support of the family;

and afterwards build thine house; when, though the blessing of God upon thy diligence and industry, thou art become rich, or however hast such a competent substance as to be able to build a good house, and furnish it in a handsome manner, then do it; but first take care of the main point, that you have a sufficiency to finish it; see the advice of Christ, Luke 14:28; necessaries are first to be sought after, before things ornamental and superfluous; first take care to live, and then, if you can, build a fine house. Jarchi interprets this of a man's first getting fields, vineyards, and cattle, something beforehand in the world, and then take a wife, when he is able to maintain her, whereby his house may be built up; see Ruth 4:11.

Prepare thy work outside, and make it fit for thyself in the field; {h} and afterwards build thy house.

(h) Be sure of the means how to compass it, before you take any enterprise in hand.

27. thy work] viz. the work required for building thy house. Follow the course pursued in the erection of the Temple, 1 Kings 6:7. Comp. 1 Chronicles 28:2, I had made ready (the same Heb. word as is here rendered prepare) for the building.

Such preparing and making ready includes mental as well as material preparation, prudent “counting the cost,” as well as careful selection of materials. When this is understood, the proverb which has been obscured by supposing it to mean, “first till thy field and then build thy house,” or, “first make provision for a family and then found one,” is plain and forcible, and lends itself readily to moral and spiritual applications.Verse 27. - Prepare thy work without. The proverb enjoins a man to look well to his resources before he undertakes to build a house or to establish a family. "Without" (chuts) (Proverbs 7:12; Proverbs 8:26); in the fields. Put in due order all immediate work in thy farm. And make it fit for thyself in the field; and get ready for what has to come next. That is, in short, steadily and with due foresight cultivate your land; provide abundant means of subsistence before you attempt to build up your house. A suitor had, as it were, to purchase his bride from her relations by making considerable presents; it was therefore necessary to provide a certain amount of wealth before contemplating matrimony. And afterwards build thy house. This is, indeed, the meaning of the passage; but the Hebrew makes a difficulty, as it is literally, "afterwards and thou shalt build." Some have supposed that some words have dropped out of the text (Cheyne, 'Job and Solomon'). But vav in וּבָנִיתָ, coming after a date or notification of time, as here after אַהַר (comp. Genesis 3:5), "has the future signification of a perfect consecutive" (Delitzsch), equivalent to "after that, then, thou mayest build." Septuagint, "Prepare thy works for thy going forth (εἰς τη,ν ἔξοδον), and get ready for the field, and come after me, and thou shalt build up thine house." In a spiritual sense, the heart must be first cleared of thorns, and opened to genial influences, before the man can build up the fabric of virtuous habits, and thus arrive at the virtuous character. A warning against rebellious thoughts against God and the king:

21 My son, honour Jahve and the king,

     And involve not thyself with those who are otherwise disposed;

22 For suddenly their calamity ariseth,

     And the end of their years, who knoweth it?

The verb שׁנה, proceeding from the primary idea of folding (complicare, duplicare), signifies transitively to do twice, to repeat, Proverbs 17:9; Proverbs 26:11, according to which Kimchi here inappropriately thinks on relapsing; and intransitively, to change, to be different, Esther 1:7; Esther 3:8. The Syr. and Targ. translate the word שׁטיי, fools; but the Kal (טעמו) שׁנה occurs, indeed, in the Syr., but not in the Heb., in the meaning alienata est (mens ejus); and besides, this meaning, alieni, is not appropriate here. A few, however, with Saadia (cf. Deutsch-Morgenlndische Zeitschr. xxi. 616), the dualists (Manichees), understand it in a dogmatic sense; but then שׁונים must be denom. of שׁנים, while much more it is its root-word. Either שׁונים means those who change, novantes equals novarum rerum studiosi, which is, however, exposed to this objection, that the Heb. שׁנה, in the transitive sense to change, does not elsewhere occur; or it means, according to the usus loq., diversos equals diversum sentientes (C. B. Michaelis and others), and that with reference to 21a: הממרים דבריהם ומצותם (Meri, Immanuel), or משׁנים מנהג החכמה (Ahron b. Joseph). Thus they are called (for it is a common name of a particular class of men) dissidents, oppositionists, or revolutionaries, who recognise neither the monarchy of Jahve, the King of kings, nor that of the earthly king, which perhaps Jerome here means by the word detractoribus ( equals detractatoribus). The Venet. incorrectly, σὺν τοῖς μισοῦσι, i.e., שׂונאים. with ב at Proverbs 14:10, התערב meant to mix oneself up with something, here with עם, to mix oneself with some one, i.e., to make common cause with him.

The reason assigned in Proverbs 24:22 is, that although such persons as reject by thought and action human and divine law may for a long time escape punishment, yet suddenly merited ruin falls on them. איד is, according to its primary signification, weighty, oppressive misfortune, vid., i. 27. In יקוּם it is thought of as hostile power (Hosea 10:14); or the rising up of God as Judge (e.g., Isaiah 33:10) is transferred to the means of executing judgment. פּיד ( equals פּוד of פוד or פיד ro פו, Arab. fâd, fut. jafûdu or jafı̂du, a stronger power of bâd, cogn. אבד) is destruction (Arab. fied, fı̂d, death); this word occurs, besides here, only thrice in the Book of Job. But to what does שׁניהם refer? Certainly not to Jahve and the king (lxx, Schultens, Umbreit, and Bertheau), for in itself it is doubtful to interpret the genit. after פיד as designating the subject, but improper to comprehend God and man under one cipher. Rather it may refer to two, of whom one class refuse to God, the other to the king, the honour that is due (Jerome, Luther, and at last Zckler); but in the foregoing, two are not distinguished, and the want of reverence for God, and for the magistrates appointed by Him, is usually met with, because standing in interchangeable relationship, in one and the same persons. Is there some misprint then in this word? Ewald suggests שׁניהם, i.e., of those who show themselves as שׁונים (altercatores) towards God and the king. In view of קמיהם, Exodus 32:25, this brevity of expression must be regarded as possible. But if this were the meaning of the word, then it ought to have stood in the first member (איד שׁניהם), and not in the second. No other conjecture presents itself. Thus שׁניהם is perhaps to be referred to the שׁונים, and those who engage with them: join thyself not with the opposers; for suddenly misfortune will come upon them, and the destruction of both (of themselves and their partisans), who knows it? But that also is not satisfactory, for after the address שׁניכם was to have been expected, 22b. Nothing remains, therefore, but to understand שׁניהם, with the Syr. and Targ., as at Job 36:11; the proverb falls into rhythms פּתאם and פּיד, שׁונים and שׁניהם. But "the end of their year" is not equivalent to the hour of their death (Hitzig), because for this פּידם (cf. Arab. feid and fı̂d, death) was necessary; but to the expiring, the vanishing, the passing by of the year during which they have succeeded in maintaining their ground and playing a part. There will commence a time which no one knows beforehand when all is over with them. In this sense, "who knoweth," with its object, is equivalent to "suddenly ariseth," with its subject. In the lxx, after Proverbs 24:22, there follow one distich of the relations of man to the word of God as deciding their fate, one distich of fidelity as a duty towards the king, and the duty of the king, and one pentastich or hexastich of the power of the tongue and of the anger of the king. The Heb. text knows nothing of these three proverbs. Ewald has, Jahrb. xi. 18f., attempted to translate them into Heb., and is of opinion that they are worthy of being regarded as original component parts of chap. 1-29, and that they ought certainly to have come in after Proverbs 24:22. We doubt this originality, but recognise their translation from the Heb. Then follows in the lxx the series of Prov; Proverbs 30:1-14, which in the Heb. text bear the superscription of "the Words of Agur;" the second half of the "Words of Agur," together with the "Words of Lemuel," stand after Proverbs 24:34 of the Heb. text. The state of the matter is this, that in the copy from which the Alexandrines translated the Appendix 30:1-31:9, stood half of it, after the "Words of the Wise" [which extend from Proverbs 22:17 to Proverbs 24:22], and half after the supplement headed "these also are from wise men" [Proverbs 24:23-34], so that only the proverbial ode in praise of the excellent matron [Proverbs 31:10] remains as an appendix to the Book of Hezekiah's collection, chap. 25-29.

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