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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Proverbs 13:11

 

 

Wealth obtained by fraud dwindles, But the one who gathers by labor increases it.

Adam Clarke Commentary

Wealth gotten by vanity - Wealth that is not the result of honest industry and hard labor is seldom permanent. All fortunes acquired by speculation, lucky hits, and ministering to the pride or luxury of others, etc., soon become dissipated. They are not gotten in the way of Providence, and have not God's blessing, and therefore are not permanent.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Proverbs 13:11". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/proverbs-13.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

By vanity - literally, “by a breath,” i. e., by a windfall, or sudden stroke of fortune, not by honest labor. The general meaning seems to be that the mere possession of riches is as nothing; they come and go, but the power to gain by skill of hand (“labor”) is everything.


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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Proverbs 13:11". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/proverbs-13.html. 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Proverbs 13:11

Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase.

Right methods of obtaining wealth

The text implies three things.

I. That wealth in itself is a good thing.

1. All men strive for it, in obedience to the original command--to possess the earth and subdue it.

2. The services it can render are evidences of its value.

3. The Word of God approves it. Not money, but the “love” of it, is “a root of evil.”

II. Wealth may be obtained in different ways. The two ways mentioned in the text.

1. The way of vanity, which may represent fraud, gambling, reckless speculation, etc.

2. The way of labour, in all which there is profit (Proverbs 14:23). See frequent commendations of diligence in the Scriptures.

III. The increase or decrease of wealth is affected by the mode of its acqusition. “Gotten by vanity,” it diminishes; procured by labour, it “shall increase.” Two considerations as to the constitution of human nature help us to understand how this comes about.

1. What a man does not work for he seldom appreciates. Difficulty of attaining augments value. “Easy got, soon spent,” has passed into a proverb.

2. What one does not value he is apt to squander. Spendthrifts are those who value money slightly. (F. Wagstaff.)

Ill-gotten national wealth

What is true of private is no less true of public possessions. When such possessions are obtained, on the part of any country, by self-aggrandising and unprovoked aggression, extermination and conquest, what are such means but injustice, oppression, and murder, on an extended scale? Gathering possessions by a violation of the rights of others, of the principles of equity and honour and good faith, or, in one word, of the royal law, is turning a country’s glory into shame, and under the righteous and retributive administration of Heaven the extension of dominion is but an extension of danger. (R. Wardlaw.)

Wealth gotten by vanity

When the famous M. Blanc, who founded the Monte Carlo Casino, was proprietor of a gambling establishment at Homburg, it was his custom to bring down 300,000 francs every morning to meet the bank’s losses. When this sum was exhausted the bank was said to be “broke,” and the doors were closed for the day, and it is recorded that the unique feat of “breaking the bank” was accomplished three days in succession by the notorious South American Spaniard, Garcia. After this his luck began to turn, and six weeks later he was obliged to ask M. Blanc for a few louis with which to return to Paris. (Daily Mail.)


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Bibliography
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Proverbs 13:11". The Biblical Illustrator. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/proverbs-13.html. 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

"Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished; But he that gathereth by labor shall have increase."

"Wealth by means of fraud always becomes less; but he that increaseth it by labor gains always more."[19] "The contrast here is of one who by fraud and deception quickly arrives at wealth,"[20] with another who by honest toil and enterprise finds true prosperity.


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James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Proverbs 13:11". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/proverbs-13.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished,.... In an unjust or unlawful way, either by robbery and theft, as Aben Ezra; or by fraud and tricking, by overreaching and circumventing others; or by vain practices, as by cards or dice, and by stage playing and the like; or by curious and illicit arts, as necromancy, judiciary astrology, and such like things; whatever is gotten in a wicked way very seldom lasts long; it lessens by little and little till it comes to nothingF6"De malo quaesitis vix gaudet tertius baeres", Herat. ; see Jeremiah 17:11; and sometimes very quickly and suddenly, all at once; thus that mass of riches which the church of Rome has got together by her vain and wicked practices, by her idolatry, pardons, and indulgences, will in one hour come to nought, Revelation 18:17;

but he that gathereth by labour shall increase, or "that gathereth by the hand" or "in it"F7על יד "in manu", Pagninus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "super manu", Gussetius, p. 310. "super manum", Michaelis, Schultens. ; by hand labour in an honest way, or with the diligent hand, which maketh rich; who labours with his hand and gets by in sufficient to support himself and his family, and to give to the necessities of others; who does not lay it up in coffers, but keeps it in his hand to distribute; such generally thrive and flourish: some copies read it, "he that gathereth, עד, unto the hand"F8"Usque ad manum", Montantus. , that gathers and puts it into the hands of others; that liberally communicates to the poor; he shall increase, as commonly liberal persons do; so the Targum,

"he that gathereth and giveth to the poor shall increase in substance.'


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Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 13:11". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/proverbs-13.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

e Wealth [gotten] by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth f by labour shall increase.

(e) That is, goods evil gotten.

(f) That is, with his own labour.


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Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Proverbs 13:11". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/proverbs-13.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

by vanity — or, “nothingness,” that is, which is vain or useless to the public (as card playing or similar vices).

gathereth … labour — (Compare Margin), little by little, laboriously.


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This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Proverbs 13:11". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/proverbs-13.html. 1871-8.

Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament

11 Wealth by means of fraud always becomes less;

But he that increaseth it by labour gains always more.

We punctuate הון־מהבל (with Makkeph , as in Ven. 1521, Antw. 1582, Frank.-on-the-Oder 1595, Gen. 1618, Leyden 1662), not הון מהבל (as other editions, and e.g. , also Löwenstein); for the meaning is not that the wealth becomes less by הבל (Targ., but not the Syr.), or that it is less than הבל (Umbreit), but הון־מהבל is one idea: wealth proceeding from הבל ; but הבל tub ;הב , properly a breath (Theod. ἀπὸ ἀτμοῦ or ἀτμίδος ), then appearance without reality (Aquila, ἀπὸ ματαιότητος ), covers itself here by that which we call swindle, i.e. , by morally unrestrained fraudulent and deceitful speculation in contrast to solid and real gain. The translations: ἐπισπουδαζομένη μετὰ ἀνομίας (lxx), ὑπερσπουδαζομένη (Symmachus, Quinta ),

(Note: A fragment of an anonymous translation, so called from the place it holds in Origen's Hexapla.)

festinata (Jerome), do not necessarily suppose the phrase מהבּל = מבהל , Proverbs 20:21 Kerı̂ , for wealth which comes מהבל is obtained in a windy (unsubstantial) manner and as if by storm, of which the proverb holds good: “ so gewonnen so zerronnen ” (= quickly come, quickly go). מהבל needs neither to be changed into that unhebraic מהבּל (Hitzig) nor into the cognate מבהל (Ewald), but yet inferior to מהבל in the content of its idea. The contrast of one who by fraud and deception quickly arrives at wealth is one who brings it together in his hand, ἐπὶ χειρός ( Venet .), i.e. , always as often as he can bear it in his hand and bring it forth (Ewald, Bertheau, Elster, and Lagarde), or according to the measure of the hand, κατὰ χεῖρα (which means “according to external ability”), so that על , which is applied to the formation of adverbs, e.g. , Psalms 31:24 (Hitzig) - by both explanations על־יד has the meaning of “gradually,” - is used as in the post-bibl. Hebr. על יד על יד = מעט מעט , e.g. , Schabbath 156a ( vid ., Aruch under על ) (distinguish from ביד = with thought, intentionally, Berachoth 52b). There is scarcely a word having more significations that יד . Connected with על , it means at one time side or place, at another mediation or direction; that which is characteristic here is the omission of the pronoun ( על־ידו , על־ידיו ). The lxx translates על יד with the unrestrained freedom which it allows to itself by μετ ̓ εὐσεβείας , and has following πληθυνθήσεται another line, δίκαιος οἰκτείρει καὶ κιχρᾷ (from Psalms 37:26).


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Bibliography
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Proverbs 13:11". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/kdo/proverbs-13.html. 1854-1889.

Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

This shows that riches wear as they are won and woven. 1. That which is won ill will never wear well, for a curse attends it which will waste it, and the same corrupt dispositions which incline men to the sinful ways of getting well incline them to the like sinful ways of spending: Wealth gotten by vanity will be bestowed upon vanity, and then it will be diminished. That which is got by such employments as are not lawful, or not becoming Christians, such as only serve to feed pride and luxury, that which is got by gaming or by the stage, may as truly be said to be gotten by vanity as that which is got by fraud and lying, and will be diminished. De male quaesitis vix gaudet tertius haeres - Ill-gotten wealth will scarcely be enjoyed by the third generation. 2. That which is got by industry and honesty will grow more, instead of growing less; it will be a maintenance; it will be an inheritance; it will be an abundance. He that labours, working with his hands, shall so increase as that he shall have to give to him that needs (Ephesians 4:28); and, when it comes to that, it will increase yet more and more.


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Bibliography
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Proverbs 13:11". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/proverbs-13.html. 1706.

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

Wealth gotten by dishonesty or vice, has a secret curse, which will speedily waste it.


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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

Bibliography
Henry, Matthew. "Concise Commentary on Proverbs 13:11". "Matthew Henry Concise Commentary

on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mhn/proverbs-13.html. 1706.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase.

Vanity — By wicked practices.


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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 13:11". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/proverbs-13.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Proverbs 13:11 Wealth [gotten] by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase.

Ver. 11. Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished.] De male quaesitis vix gaudet tertius haeres, (a) Ill-gotten goods fly away without taking leave of the owner; leaving nothing but the print of talons to torment him. [Proverbs 23:5] Many when they have a loss in their riches, it is as it were raked out of their bellies. [Job 20:15] A piece of their very heart goes with it.

But he that gathereth by labour shall increase.] Howbeit sometimes it is otherwise: "Master, we have laboured all night and taken nothing." [Luke 5:5] "Behold, is it not of the Lord of hosts that the people shall labour in the very fire, and the people shall weary themselves for very vanity?" [Habakkuk 2:13] There is a curse upon unlawful practices, though men be industrious, as in Jehoiakim. [Jeremiah 22:24-30]


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 13:11". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/proverbs-13.html. 1865-1868.

The Popular Commentary by Paul E. Kretzmann

v. 11. Wealth gotten by vanity, gained by deceit and fraud, shall be diminished, since the blessing of the Lord does not rest upon it; but he that gathereth by labor, by hard, steady, and honest work, shall increase.


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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Proverbs 13:11". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/kpc/proverbs-13.html. 1921-23.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

By vanity; by vain, or deceitful, or wicked practices. Shall be diminished, because the curse of God attends upon it.

By labour; by diligence in an honest calling.


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Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Proverbs 13:11". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/proverbs-13.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

11. Wealth… by vanity — Hebrew, from nothing, or without effort, “by fraud or impatient dishonesty.” — Zockler.

Shall be diminished — Waste away.

Gathereth by labour — Hebrew, by, with, or upon the hand, as we say, by the handful. It is, however, procured by slow and toilsome effort, as by honest labour.

Shall increase — This agrees with the general observation of mankind, as is witnessed by the many proverbial sayings expressive of it. The “hand” above represents all honest ways of industry, and is opposed to “vanity.” Comp. Proverbs 10:2; Proverbs 10:4; Proverbs 20:21; Jeremiah 17:11; Psalms 128:2. On wealth gotten by vanity, comp. Job 15:28-29; Job 20:15; Job 19:22; and “with the hand,” Proverbs 22:29; Proverbs 27:23; Proverbs 27:27.


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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Proverbs 13:11". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/proverbs-13.html. 1874-1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Wealth obtained by fraud would be money gotten by not working for it. This kind of income dwindles, in that: though it is "easy come," it is also "easy go."

"This is a warning against wild speculation." [Note: Ross, p977.]


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Bibliography
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Proverbs 13:11". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/proverbs-13.html. 2012.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Proverbs 13:11. Wealth gotten by vanity — By vain, or deceitful, or wicked practices; shall be diminished — Because the curse of God attends it, and the same corrupt dispositions which incline men to sinful ways of getting riches will incline them to the like sinful ways of spending them. Wealth gotten by vanity will be bestowed upon vanity, and then it will be diminished. That which is obtained by such employments as are not lawful, or not becoming Christians; as by gaming, by the stage, or by any employment which only serves to feed the pride and luxury of mankind, may as truly be said to be gotten by vanity, as that which is got by fraud and lying, and will be diminished; but he that gathereth by labour — By diligence in an honest calling; shall increase — Through the divine blessing, and his property and influence will become greater instead of growing less.


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Bibliography
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Proverbs 13:11". Joseph Benson's Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/proverbs-13.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Haste. Hebrew, "by vanity," and injustice. Those who become rich on a sudden fall under suspicion, as a Roman objected to Sylla, who had inherited nothing. (Plut.[Plutarch?]) --- By little. Hebrew, "he that gathereth by labour, (Septuagint, piety) shall increase." (Protestants) (Haydock)


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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Proverbs 13:11". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/proverbs-13.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

by labour = by the hand: "hand"being put by Figure of speech Metonymy (of Cause), App-6, for the labour effected by it.


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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Proverbs 13:11". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/proverbs-13.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase.

Wealth (gotten) by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour (Hebrew, with the hand) shall increase - literally, 'wealth from (Hebrew, min (Hebrew #4480)) vanity' (Proverbs 10:2; Proverbs 20:21). The "vanity" here answers to "a slack (deceitful) hand," Proverbs 10:4, where cf. note. "He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand." Thus, it stands in opposition to "he that gathereth with the hand" in the parallel clause. Wealth ill gotten is soon gone; but wealth gotten by honest labour remains sure. The "hand" here represents all honourable ways of industry, and is opposed to "vanity." [The Hebrew preposition as in some manuscripts, `ad (Hebrew #5703), even unto the hand; in other manuscripts, `al (Hebrew #5921), upon or under the hand - i:e., under the diligent custody (1 Samuel 17:22; 2 Chronicles 12:10). The sense with or by arises from the idea of dependence upon: so the Hebrew is used, Genesis 27:40, "By (literally, upon) thy sword shalt thou live." So here, 'He that gathereth depending upon labour.'] He that gathereth with unwearied assiduity, and by legitimate means, shall increase.


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Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Proverbs 13:11". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/proverbs-13.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(11) Wealth gotten by vanity.—As we should say, “in an unsatisfactory manner,” that is to say, by dishonesty.


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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Proverbs 13:11". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/proverbs-13.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase.
Wealth
10:2; 20:21; 28:8; Job 15:28,29; 20:15,19-22; 27:16,17; Ecclesiastes 5:14; Jeremiah 17:11; Habakkuk 2:6,7; James 5:1-5
he
22,23; 20:21; 27:23-27; Psalms 128:2
by labour
Heb. with the hand.

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Proverbs 13:11". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/proverbs-13.html.

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary

CRITICAL NOTES.—

Pro . Vanity, rather "fraud." By labour, literally "by the hand." or "handful after handful."

MAIN HOMILETICS OF Pro

TWO WAYS OF GROWING RICH

I. Wealth can be gotten. Wealth may be acquired by those who have it not. The wealth of the sea is within the reach of the fisherman. If he put down his net, sooner or later he will probably be rewarded with some gain. There is wealth in the sea of human life. Although the experience of some may be "to toil all night and to take nothing," yet the rule is that men who make an effort will succeed in bringing into their nets more or less of worldly gain. Some degree of skill and toil are needed to do this, but probably there was never a time when talent of any kind, or patient endeavour, was more certain to meet with a reward than in the present day. Aptitude for business will probably make a man a thriving tradesman if it does not make him a merchant prince. Intellectual power and artistic skill have a wide field in which to work, and are generally sure of liberal reward. Probably there never was an age when those who have nothing but the net of genius to spread upon the sea of life were so certain to land gold upon the shore.

II. But there are two ways of growing rich. There is the way of vanity. Some men come into a fortune by a single throw of the dice—by a fortunate speculation—a lucky hit. They may not be dishonest as men generally understand the word, although as a rule such transactions will not bear too much exposure to the sunlight, but it is not the best way to get money. Then there are others who for a lifetime have nibbled at the lawful gains of other men, and have thus become rich. And others have gotten their wealth by some one act of dishonesty, of which society is ignorant or is unable to punish. All these ways of making money are vain in comparison with that of patient, honest, daily toil. The reaper gathers in the golden grain in the sweat of his face, an armful at each stroke of the sickle; step by step, "hand by hand," he makes himself master of the field and gathers the wheat into the garner. So patient daily toil is the Divinely-ordained way to grow rich. The daily practice of industrious habits and the exercise of patience, which are thus rendered necessary, are beneficial to a man's moral nature.

III. The possession of wealth will be permanent or short-lived according to the way in which it has been acquired. l. Wealth gotten at a leap is generally "diminished" by the man who gained it. Such men are generally reckless in their expenditure, and squander a fortune in almost as short a time as they gained it. Such a sudden acquisition of wealth has been unfavourable to the formation of thrifty habits, and the man is not equal to his position. Many a gold-digger who has found in a day a nugget worth many thousands, has been a poor man again in a few months, and the experience of most men furnishes them with some similar illustration of the truth although not perhaps so striking.

2. Wealth gotten by dishonesty will be diminished by God. Time only is needed to make manifest the righteous judgment of God upon wealth gotten by such "vanity." Like the prophet's gourd, although it affords pleasant shelter to those who sit under it now, there is a worm at the root which will certainly bring it to nothing. Did we but know how some fortunes have been acquired, we should be less surprised at their possessors being suddenly reduced to beggary. It may be that those who are thus brought low are not the makers, but the possessors only, of wealth gotten by vanity, yet they have to pay the penalty. On the contrary, the man who has patiently and honestly gathered, little by little, a sufficiency, or even more, has gathered at the same time wisdom to use it, and has not forfeited the blessing of the Lord (chap. Pro ).

OUTLINES AND SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS

"It is easier to make a fortune than to keep it." So say the worldly. Specially forbidden is the keeping of the bread of heaven (Exo ). It was to be gathered every morning. A man who keeps gathering on the hand is the man to stay rich. But the saint who hoards up the past, and lives upon the fortune that he had, is the Israelite who kept the manna, and who found that it "bred worms and stank." Even happiness is not promoted by over-guard. "Things won are done; joy's soul lies in the doing." … Continuing to work not only keeps wealth, but "increases it," most particularly spiritual wealth.—Miller.

The words admit of three renderings

(1) That of the A.V. "Wealth gotten by vanity," i.e., by a windfall, or sudden stroke of fortune, not by honest labour, is soon diminished; or

(2) wealth is diminished by vanity, by empty and hollow ostentation; or

(3) wealth is diminished quicker than a breath. Of these

(1) is believed to be the best. In any case the general meaning seems to be that the mere possession of riches is as nothing; they come and go; but the power to gain by skill of hand is everything. By labour, "or by the hand," has three possible meanings

(1), as in the A.V.;

(2) in proportion to his strength;

(3) "in due measure."—Plumptre.

Ill-gotten goods fly away without taking leave of the owner; leaving nothing but the print of talons to torment him (chap. Pro ). "But he that gathereth by labour shall increase." Howbeit, sometimes, it is otherwise. "Master, we have toiled all night, and taken nothing" (Luk 5:5).—Trapp.


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Bibliography
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Proverbs 13:11". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/phc/proverbs-13.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

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