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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Proverbs 14:4

 

 

Where no oxen are, the manger is clean, But much revenue comes by the strength of the ox.

Adam Clarke Commentary

But much increase is by the strength of the ox - The ox is the most profitable of all the beasts used in husbandry. Except merely for speed, he is almost in every respect superior to the horse.

  1. He is longer lived.
  • Scarcely liable to any diseases.
  • He is steady, and always pulls fair in his gears.
  • He lives, fattens, and maintains his strength on what a horse will not eat, and therefore is supported on one third the cost.
  • His manure is more profitable.
  • When he is worn out in his labor his flesh is good for the nourishment of man, his horns of great utility, and his hide almost invaluable.
  • It might be added, he is little or no expense in shoeing, and his gears are much more simple, and much less expensive, than those of the horse. In all large farms oxen are greatly to be preferred to horses. Have but patience with this most patient animal, and you will soon find that there is much increase by the strength and labor of the ox.


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    Bibliography
    Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:4". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/proverbs-14.html. 1832.

    Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

    i. e., Labor has its rough, unpleasant side, yet it ends in profit. So also, the life of contemplation may seem purer, “cleaner “than that of action. The outer business of the world brings its cares and disturbances, but also “much increase.” There will be a sure reward of that activity in good works for him who goes, as with “the strength of the ox,” to the task to which God calls him.


    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.

    Bibliography
    Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:4". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/proverbs-14.html. 1870.

    The Biblical Illustrator

    Proverbs 14:4

    Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox.

    The law of increase

    The illustration is drawn from husbandry, and in a country like Palestine, where the ox had such an important place in agricultural operations, it was peculiarly intelligible and peculiarly fit. “Where is the farmer,” says the wise man, “who, in order to preserve tidiness in his stalls, would forego the assistance of oxen in his fields?” Something he might secure, no doubt; a rack unsoiled by the oxen’s fodder, a floor unmarked by the oxen’s hoofs, the absence of disorder that offends the eye, the freedom from task-work that tires the arm, with whatsoever satisfaction such immunity affords. Yes, but what does he lose? Almost all that makes his property profitable, almost all that makes his stackyard full. What of the ploughing of the land? What of the carrying home of the sheaves? What of the treading out of the corn? “Where no cattle are, the crib is clean.” True. But what of that? Is the cleanness worth considering, in comparison with the increase that comes by the strength of the ox? And now, I think, we have hold of the principle. There is no good to be got without its accompanying drawbacks; let the drawbacks and the good be weighed carefully together, and if the good outbalance the drawbacks, then let the good be chosen and the drawbacks faced with resolution, intelligence, and cheerfulness. Sentiment is right in its place, fastidiousness is proper in its season; but sentiment is worse than idle, fastidiousness is worse than false, when we permit them to stand between us and a substantial good, the good that Providence intends us to get or the good that Providence commands us to do.

    I. We might begin with an illustration from the industrial sphere, the relation, namely, between manufacture and natural scenery. Where no manufacture is, the scenery is intact; but much increase comes by the processes of manufacture. Take, for example, the midland counties of England, and especially those parts of them we know as the Black Country. No region of England is more picturesque in itself, marked by the outlines and stored with the elements of natural and original beauty. Yet how man has overlaid and defaced things! Look at the country as it is now, ploughed with railway tracks, torn with excavations, encumbered with heaps of rubbish. And those to whom beauty is all may object to this. “What barbarism,” they say, “what vandalism, what wanton and wilful desecration of the sanctities of nature! Better, surely, was the country in its virgin luxuriance, when the slopes were clothed with woodland.” Well, the change means loss, no doubt, loss from the standpoint of the beauty-lover. But it means gain from the standpoint of the utilitarian, and gain, too, in the eye of those who look higher than what is merely utilitarian. For not only does black smoke, according to the proverb, make white silver, but it is a witness to facts, a testimony to realities, of which silver is only a single embodiment, and that, too, by no means the highest. The sight was a symbol of several things, all noble and honourable in their way. It is a symbol of man’s power over nature, his diligence in extracting and his ingenuity in moulding the substance which nature conceals in her heart. It is a symbol of the clothing that covers shivering forms, a symbol of the bread that feeds hungry mouths. It is a symbol of England’s greatness, industry, and world-wide trade.

    II. Passing from the industrial to the domestic sphere, we might select an illustration of a different character, which a poet-preacher of the time has happily associated with this text, and speak of the relation between children and home. We remark, then, that where there are no children, the house may be trim; but much profit comes through the presence and companionship of children. Neatness in a house may be good. But there is a neatness that tells of emptiness. There is a neatness that betokens loneliness. There is a neatness that is not half so attractive as the wear and tear, the disturbance and disorder, that denote the presence of busy little inmates, with their restless hands and roving feet. The loss is a small one compared with the gain. Children are God’s heritage. How much they teach! How much they bestow! Not only does the parent train and develop the child, but the child may train and develop the parent. Our children should be leaders to all of us, leaders from faithlessness into faith, from restlessness into rest, from selfishness into sacrifice, from frivolity into earnestness, thoughtfulness, and the sense of responsibility. Does not the pure eye of an innocent child restrain the foul or the cruel act? Are not its needs a discipline in sympathy, its questionings a training in reflection? Where the children are absent, the home may be neat, the mind unperplexed; but much increase--increase of happiness, increase of affection, increase of prosperity--comes through association with little children.

    III. Or we might pass to the ecclesiastical sphere, and select as an instance of the same principle the relation between controversy and the Church. We note, then, at this point, that where no discussion is, the Church may be at rest; but much benefit comes through freedom of discussion, in the case of the Church as well as of the State. Some people are all for peace. But there is a peace of stagnation. There is a peace of indifference. There is a peace that is based upon lack of conviction. Do not judge of Church enterprises nor of Church proceedings, as some do, and condemn them simply because they create dispeace. Peace may be bought too dearly. Purity is better. Truth is better. Undoubtedly in discussion the crib may be soiled. Controversy often awakens temper, evokes party spirit, causes hard words to be said, unkind acts to be done, selfish rivalries to spring up Yet these may be a blessing in the end, in comparison of which the temporary soiling of the crib is a matter of smaller importance after all. There is the down-breaking of prejudice. There is the removing of misunderstandings. There is the formulating of principle. There is the discovering of character. It will be best for the spread of righteousness; it will be safest in the interests of belief.

    IV. Pass next to the sphere of Practical Beneficence, and apply the principle of the text to the relation between philanthropy and experience. We remark, then, that where no philanthropy is, the experience may be easy, free from much that is unpleasant to look at, unpleasant to think of, and unpleasant to do; but much increase comes through the exercise of philanthropy. What have we here but the plain, simple lesson, which has to be learnt by every social benefactor, every Christian worker, that they who will live helpfully, as the saviours and the succourers of their fellow-men, must be prepared to forego fastidiousness. To do any real good amidst the poor, the sunken, and the vicious, men must come into contact with many things that are neither pleasant nor pure. Now, take any such labourer as these, in the great unselfishness, the overflowing charity, the fearlessness of mind and of heart, which the labour engaged in always demands. And take another, to whom labour of the time is unknown, one who, with the same possibilities and the same call, says, “No, the task you propose is distasteful, the experiences you prescribe are rough; I prefer to have my sight unoffended, my feelings unharrowed, my imagination unhaunted. Let me see to myself--the purity of my own character, the health and prosperity of my own soul, in the circle of my personal friendships, the seclusion of my private home.” Put the two side by side. Which leads the richer existence? Each has its own reward. How shall we best explain these rewards, their distinctive nature, their relative value? Just in the terms of the text. For the one, the “clean crib”--a certain ignorance, a certain immunity, certain security; not only a sensibility unwrung by the spectacles of sorrow, but a mind kept closed to the pictures of sin: that, and perhaps little more than that. For the other, the “much increase,” in the enriching of his personal character, the widening of his personal sympathies, together with the privilege of ministering to his brethren’s welfare and the joy of being blessed to his brethren’s souls. Clean garments, clean hands, who set a value upon these, as the continuous, the indispensable prerequisite of life? I will tell you who do not. Not the surgeon, as he walks the battlefield with the sponge that wipes the blood and the linen that binds the wounds. Not the rescue party, as they enter the mine, amidst the heat, the soot, and the smoke of a recent explosion, with which the caverns still echo, and the earth still smokes. Not the sailor, as he pulls to the wreck, through a troubled sea that casts up mire and dirt, till his arms are twined with the seaweed and his coat is drenched with the ooze. Clean hands and clean garments, you must be content now and then to forego them, if the world you live in is to be cleansed.

    V. Akin to the last thought is another one, drawn this time from the mental sphere. Take the relation between force of character and life. We remark, then, in the last place, that where there is no force of character, the life may be inoffensive, harmless in itself, pleasing to others; but much increase, increase to the world and the Church, comes through force of character. Most men have the defects of their qualities. This is especially true of those whoso distinguishing quality is vigour, a certain superabounding energy and strength. The vigour is apt to be domineering, the energy rude, the strength unaccompanied with suavity, fine feeling, good taste. If you are to reap the advantage of such characters, you take them as you find them, and pardon and tolerate their coarseness that you may be helped and benefited by their zeal. Luther was earnest but rough. But we remember the work. We remember the time. Neither the period nor the task admitted of treatment by rosewater. What though the crib was untidy? Be thankful for the well-ploughed field; be thankful for the gathered sheaves of religious truth and religious liberty, which still remain in our storehouses, to give seed to the Christian sower and bread to the Christian eater, as the outcome of Luther’s labours, the memorial of Luther’s name. Take God’s blessing as it comes to you, and be very tolerant towards the instruments. Polish is a less thing than enthusiasm, courtliness than sincerity. It may be well to have both things combined. But if we are shut up to the alternative, and feel tempted to pronounce for the softer qualities, as less likely to irritate, less apt to excite, let us fall back on the principle of the text, and while remembering that where no force of character is the life may be inoffensive, much increase comes by the vigour we fear. (W. A. Gray.)

    Where no oxen are, the crib is clean

    I. Taken in its primary sense, it conveys a lesson of no small importance to the mere cultivator of land. You pride yourself upon the exquisite neatness and order of your farm. The spade, the plough, the fork, the cart, are almost as pure and delicate as when they came from the hands of the maker. But if the work is left undone, and you purchase neatness and order at the expense of having no sheep in the fold, then you pay too dear for your nicety; you have the clean crib, but you will have also an empty barn.

    II. The same maxim applies to the management of a house. You pride yourself on the exquisite neatness of every corner in your dwelling-place. Not a cobweb is on the ceiling, and not a grain of dust on the staircase. The delighted mistress has the daily satisfaction of seeing her own fair face reflected in the polished table below her. The crib is clean; but you may here also buy the cleanliness at too high a price. Perhaps cleanliness is not merely your taste but your idol. You forget that usefulness is the true object of household economy, and that neatness is a mere means to this end. You, like Mr. Burke’s man of honour, “feel a stain like a wound,” and esteem a hole in a carpet as tantamount to a hole in your character. You forget that your house was not designed by the great Giver for yourself alone, but for your neighbours and friends, for brothers and sisters, and nephews and nieces, who want a little country air or London shopping, and who naturally look to you, as to a richer relation and friend, to give them the convenience they need. Surely you had better have a soiled “crib” than a narrow heart; and spotted tables than not a single loving, grateful, happy guest to sit at a clean one.

    III. This rule is also applicable, I think, to literature. The correctness of some writers is perfectly unimpeachable. The grammarian searches in vain for a false concord or quantity, or the rhetorician for a false ornament. There is no confusion of metaphor; no redundancy of expression which disfigures the pages of less cautious writers. Now here the “crib” is clean; but then, in such cases, it is often equally true that there are no “oxen.” The style is as “dull, cold, fiat, and unprofitable,” as it is pure and correct. It is the judgment of a no less critic than Quintilian, that the writer who, in his youth, is never redundant, will usually in his old age be poverty stricken. Where the heart, the imagination, and the passions have free play, the critic may find something to correct; but very often also consciences will be touched and hearts be edified.

    IV. But I now turn to some higher topics, to which the rule appears to me equally to apply. Lenis is a most unexceptionable person; of the very calmest temper and the most placid manners. He is always to be found in the right place at the very right moment. He speaks little, and never offensively; he belongs to no party, and is a determined enemy to all excess. He is perhaps constant at church, though a little drowsy there; has a decided preference for vague, calm, general sermons. He gives decently to all popular or uncriticised charities. And the result of all this is, that he gets into no scrapes, incurs no reproach, is claimed as a friend by men of all opinions, simply because he was never known to express an opinion of his own. Now here “the crib “is unusually “clean.” But at what expense is it purchased? I should say at the cost of most of the feelings, tastes, principles, rules, habits, and sympathies which constitute the substance and essence of the Christian character. The “crib is clean” because there are “no oxen.” Lenis is as much like a statue as a man. All the higher and nobler passions of our nature have no place in him. His life is, possibly, harmless, but it is altogether unprofitable. And this because the one essential quality is wanting, the love of God, and the love of His family upon earth. He might be nearly all he is if there were no such Being as the Redeemer of the world, who had felt for him, and expected him to feel for others. The same thought may be extended to different classes of the ministers of religion. I remember to have seen, some years since, in a review of high authority, a comparison drawn between Bishop as a parochial minister, and Thomas Scott as the minister of Olney. The bishop, on quitting his parish for another sphere of duty, finds little but subjects of self-complacency, commendation, and thankfulness. The whole population might seem to have received the whole word of truth into their souls. Every plan had prospered. “The crib is clean.” Mr. Scott, on the contrary, in quitting his parish, speaks strongly of the immorality of one part of the population, of the stubbornness and self-will of another, and of the abuse of the doctrines of grace in a third party. And whilst he dwells strongly, and gratefully, on the zeal, love, and fidelity of some, his language is certainly, on the whole, such as might be expected from the mourning prophet, when “rivers of water ran down his eyes because men kept not the word” of the Lord. Here, therefore, “the crib” was, to appearance, not equally “clean.” But then I am disposed to think that the “oxen “ were far more diligently at work in the one case than in the other. The object of the one minister was mainly to secure order, regularity, decency, harmony, with a decent regard for morals and religion. The object of the other was to “lay the axe to the root of the tree”--to convince, to alarm, to convert, to sanctify, to lead his hearers as contrite sinners to the foot of the Cross, and to qualify them under God for the highest seats in the kingdom of heaven. And the result was that, in the one case, few consciences were touched, few fears were awakened, few hearts were moved. In the other case, if there were some who were offended at plain truths announced in the somewhat homely language of the minister, there were also many awakened consciences.

    V. The last case to which I shall refer the proverb is that of controversy. Eirenos is a man of peace. He can quote to you maxims without number from the Scriptures and from the writings of great theologians on the duty of gentleness, forbearance, charity. If you wish to enlist him on the side of those who are doing battle for some vital truth, he comes down upon you with a deluge of authorities which it is almost impossible to resist; tells you that Fenelon wrote a whole treatise upon “Charity”; that Bishop Hall was the author of a treatise expressly denominated “The Olive Branch “; that Hooker said the time would come when “a few words written in charity” would be worth all the angry disputation in the world. Now all this is true; and is, indeed, never to be forgotten by the disciples of a compassionate Saviour. A higher authority than any of these uninspired writers says: “If I give my body to be burned and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.” But it may be well to remind Eirenos that, notwithstanding the peaceful spirit and language of all these authorities, Fenelon barely escaped burning for the honesty and explicitness with which he spoke his mind; Bishop Hall was for the same offence driven out of his diocese; Hooker was charged with all sorts of enormities before the Privy Council; and St. Paul himself was hunted down like a wild beast by all classes of the community. But Eirenos has no taste for such extravagances. Now here is the “clean crib,” but where are the “oxen”? Here is Erasmus; but where is Luther, or Cranmer, or Ridley, or Latimer? Where are the zeal, the “indignation” at error, the “vehemence” of holy love, the devotion to God and to truth, which consumed the soul of the meek and lowly Saviour; which exiled St. John to Patmos; and which has lighted up the funeral pile of the whole army of saints and martyrs? (Christian Observer.)


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    Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

    Bibliography
    Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Proverbs 14:4". The Biblical Illustrator. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/proverbs-14.html. 1905-1909. New York.

    Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

    "Where no oxen are, the crib is clean; But much increase is by the strength of the ox."

    The things that are most desirable always carry with them certain inconveniences. Rearing a family leads to all kinds of obligations, sacrifices, inconveniences and even sufferings and hardships. There's noise where children are, and there's uncleanness in the stall of the ox. This rendition of the second clause stresses the benefit of having oxen, even along with the dirty crib. "Where there is abundant produce, the strength of the ox is apparent."[4] One can keep a very clean, neat office if he isn't doing anything!


    Copyright Statement
    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 14:4". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/proverbs-14.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

    John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

    Where no oxen are the crib is clean,.... Or "empty"F26בר "vacuum", V. L. Munster, Pagninus, Mercerus, Gejerus, Amama; so the Syriac version. , so Jarchi and Aben Ezra. Oxen were used in Judea in several parts of husbandry; in ploughing the land, bringing home the corn, and in threshing or treading it out, Deuteronomy 22:10. Now where these are not, or not used, where husbandry is neglected, there is no straw in the crib for beasts, and much less food for men; or rather, no corn or "wheat"F1"Triticum", Baynus. on the "threshingfloor"F2אבוס "area", Gussetius, p. 14. Michaelis, Schultens. , or in the barn, granary, or storehouse; for so the same word is rendered, Jeremiah 50:26; and in this manner it is interpreted by Gersom here, as also by KimchiF3Sepher Shorash. rad אבס & R. Joseph Kimchi in Abendana in loc. : the word translated "clean" is used for "wheat", Amos 8:5. By supplying the negative particle, the whole may be rendered thus; "where no oxen are, the threshingfloor", "granary", or storehouse, "is without wheat"; or there is no wheat "on the floor", or "in the barn", &c. the note of Jarchi on the text is,

    "where there are no scholars of the wise men, there is no instruction in the constitutions.'

    But much better is the mystical sense, thus; that where there are no ministers of the Gospel, there is no food for souls. Oxen are an emblem of faithful and laborious ministers. The ox was one of the emblems in the cherubim, which design Gospel ministers; the names by which oxen are called agree with them. Here are two words used of them in the text; the one comes from a root which signifies to "teach", "lead", "guide", and "govern"; and the same word for "oxen" signifies "teachers", "leaders", "guides", and "governors"; names which most properly belong to ministers of the word: the other word comes from a root which signifies to "see", to "look"; because these creatures are sharp sighted. Ministers are seers, overseers, and as John's living creatures in Revelation 4:6; one of which was an ox, were full of eyes, within, and before, and behind. So ministers of the word had need to have good sight, to look into the Scriptures, and search them; to look to themselves and to their flock, and to look out to discover enemies, and danger by them; and to look into their own experience, and into things both past and to come. There is a likeness in ministers to these creatures, as to the nature of them; they are clean, creatures, as such should be that minister in holy things; and chew the cud, as such should revolve in their minds and constantly meditate upon divine things; and, like them, are patient and quiet under the yoke; and are not only strong to labour, but very laborious in the word and doctrine; submit to the yoke, draw the plough of the Gospel; bring home souls to Christ, to his church, and to heaven; and tread out the corn, the mysteries of grace, out of the sacred writings. Now where there are no such laborious and diligent ministers of the word, as there are none in the apostate church of Rome, there is no spiritual food for the souls of men; but a famine of the word, and men perish for lack of knowledge;

    but much increase is by the strength of the ox; as there is a large increase of the fruits of the earth, through the tillage of it by proper instruments; as by the strong and laborious ox, whose strength is employed in ploughing the groundF4"Fortis arat valido rusticus arva bove", Tibullus, l. 2. Eleg. 2. v. 14. and treading the corn; which is put for all means of husbandry, where that is used or not: so through the unwearied labours of Gospel ministers, the blessing of God attending them, there is much spiritual food; see Proverbs 13:23. There is an increase of converts, a harvest of souls is brought in; and an increase of gifts and of grace, and of spiritual light and knowledge, and plenty of provisions; which spiritual increase, through the ministry of the word, is owing to God, 1 Corinthians 3:6.


    Copyright Statement
    The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
    A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855

    Bibliography
    Gill, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:4". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/proverbs-14.html. 1999.

    Geneva Study Bible

    Where no d oxen [are], the crib [is] clean: but much increase [is] by the strength of the ox.

    (d) By the ox is meant labour, and by the crib the barn, meaning, without labour there is no profit.

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    Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

    Bibliography
    Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:4". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/proverbs-14.html. 1599-1645.

    Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

    crib is clean — empty; so “cleanness of teeth” denotes want of food (compare Amos 4:6). Men get the proper fruit of their doings (Galatians 6:7).


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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 14:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/proverbs-14.html. 1871-8.

    Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament

    The switch and the preserving, Proverbs 14:3, may have given occasion to the collector, amid the store of proverbs before him, now to present the agricultural figure:

    Without oxen the crib is empty;

    But rich increase is by the strength of the plough-ox.

    This is a commendation of the breeding of cattle, but standing here certainly not merely as useful knowledge, but as an admonition to the treatment in a careful, gentle manner, and with thankful recompense of the ox (Proverbs 12:10), which God has subjected to man to help him in his labour, and more generally, in so far as one seeks to gain an object, to the considerate adoption of the right means for gaining it. אלפים (from אלף , to cling to) are the cattle giving themselves willingly to the service of men (poet. equivalent to בּקרים ). שׁור ( תּור , Arab. thwr ), Ved. sthûras , is the Aryan-Semitic name of the plough-ox. The noun אבוּס (= אבוּס like אטוּן , אמוּן ) denotes the fodder-trough, from אבס , to feed, and thus perhaps as to its root-meaning related to φάτνη ( πάτνη ), and may thus also designate the receptacle for grain where the corn for the provender or feeding of the cattle is preserved - מאבוּס , Jeremiah 50:26, at least has this wider signification of the granary; but there exists no reason to depart here from the nearest signification of the word: if a husbandman is not thoughtful about the care and support of the cattle by which he is assisted in his labour, then the crib is empty - he has nothing to heap up; he needs not only fodder, but has also nothing. בּר (in pause בּר ), clean (synon. נקי , cf. at Proverbs 11:26), corresponds with our baar [bare] = bloss [ nudus ]. Its derivation is obscure. The בּ , 4b, is that of the mediating cause: by the strength of the plough-ox there is a fulness of grain gathered into the barn ( תּבוּאות , from בּוא , to gather in, anything gathered in). רב־ is the inverted בּר . Striking if also accidental is the frequency of the א and ב in Proverbs 14:4. This is continued in Proverbs 14:5, where the collector gives two proverbs, the first of which commences with a word beginning with א , and the second with one beginning with ב :


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    Bibliography
    Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:4". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/kdo/proverbs-14.html. 1854-1889.

    Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

    Note, 1. The neglect of husbandry is the way to poverty: Where no oxen are, to till the ground and tread out the corn, the crib is empty, is clean; there is no straw for the cattle, and consequently no bread for the service of man. Scarcity is represented by cleanness of teeth, Amos 4:6. Where no oxen are there is nothing to be done at the ground, and then nothing to be had out of it; the crib indeed is clean from dung, which pleases the neat and nice, that cannot endure husbandry because there is so much dirty work in it, and therefore will sell their oxen to keep the crib clean; but then not only the labour, but even the dung of the ox is wanted. This shows the folly of those who addict themselves to the pleasures of the country, but do not mind the business of it, who (as we say) keep more horses than kine, more dogs than swine; their families must needs suffer by it. 2. Those who take pains about their ground are likely to reap the profit of it. Those who keep that about them which is for use and service, not for state and show, more husbandmen than footmen, are likely to thrive. Much increase is by the strength of the ox; that is made for our service, and is profitable alive and dead.


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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. "Complete Commentary on Proverbs 14:4". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/proverbs-14.html. 1706.

    Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

    There can be no advantage without something which, though of little moment, will affright the indolent.


    Copyright Statement
    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 14:4". "Matthew Henry Concise Commentary

    on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mhn/proverbs-14.html. 1706.

    Wesley's Explanatory Notes

    Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox.

    The crib — The stable is empty of food for cattle, and much more for man. In the same sense cleanness of teeth is put for famine, Amos 4:6.

    The strength — By their labours, or by diligence in husbandry, which then was principally managed by oxen.


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    Bibliography
    Wesley, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:4". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/proverbs-14.html. 1765.

    John Trapp Complete Commentary

    Proverbs 14:4 Where no oxen [are], the crib [is] clean: but much increase [is] by the strength of the ox.

    Ver. 4. Where no oxen are, the crib is clean.] The barn and garners are empty. Neque mola, neque farina; no good to be got without hard labour of men and cattle. Let the idle man’s motto be that of the lily, neque laborant, neque nent: "They neither toil nor spin." [Matthew 6:28] Man is born to toil, as the sparks fly upwards. [Job 5:7] And spinster they say is a term given the greatest women in our law. Our lives are called "the lives of our hands," [Isaiah 57:10] because to be maintained by the labour of our hands.

    But much increase is by the strength of the ox.] This is one of those beasts that serve ad esum et ad usum, and are profitable both alive and dead. A heathen counselleth good husbands and husbandmens that would thrive in the world to get first a house, then a wife, and then an ox that lustily plougheth and bringeth in much increase. Bede applies this text to painful preachers, set forth by oxen, [1 Corinthians 9:9 Revelation 4:7] for their tolerance and tugging at the work; where these labour lustily there is commonly a harvest of holiness, a crop of comfort. Only they must be dustily diligent. (a)


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    Bibliography
    Trapp, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/proverbs-14.html. 1865-1868.

    The Popular Commentary by Paul E. Kretzmann

    v. 4. Where no oxen are, the crib is clean, the manger is empty, that is, he who is too lazy or too indolent to use the proper means for acquiring possessions under God's blessings will find that he makes no progress in life; but much increase is by the strength of the ox, although it requires work to keep him.


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    Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:4". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/kpc/proverbs-14.html. 1921-23.

    Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

    Proverbs 14:4. Where no oxen are This verse contains an admonition for the man without doors; as the first for the woman within; that he do not neglect his husbandry, of which, it is well known, oxen were the principal instruments, being not only employed in that country in plowing the ground, and carrying home the crop, but also in treading out the corn.


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    Bibliography
    Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/proverbs-14.html. 1801-1803.

    Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

    The crib is clean; the barn or stable is empty of food for cattle, and much more for man, whose food is more scarce and dear. In the same sense cleanness of teeth is put for famine, Amos 4:6.

    By the strength of the ox; by their labours, or by diligence in husbandry, which then was principally managed by oxen.


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    Bibliography
    Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Proverbs 14:4". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/proverbs-14.html. 1685.

    Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

    4. The crib is clean אבוס, (ebhus,) crib, stall, or barn. It means a place for stabling and feeding. Hence, where no oxen are the “crib” may well be clean of both feed and manure.

    Increase — Income, profit. The words here rendered “oxen” and “ox” are not the same. The first is אלפים, (alaphim,) and the second שׁור, (shor,) which, to preserve the unity of the original, might be rendered bullock. Shor seems to be a more generic term than alaphim, and is applied to all bovine animals, whether old or young, male or female. Alaphim is never used in the singular, except in the name of the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, from which comes the Greek alpha, and from this and the second Greek letter, beta, our word alphabet, alpha, beta, the a’s, b’s, or, as we say, the abc’s. The root, אל Š, (aleph,) among its significations has this: to be wonted, tame, gentle; thus the eleph (pl. alaphim) was the tame animal par excellence; and, as used here, may stand representatively for domestic animals in general. It is as true now as in the days of Solomon, so far as agricultural life is concerned. So “much increase” is by the strength of the ox, that is, results from the rearing, keeping, and skillful employment of domestic animals. A farm properly stocked with animals adapted to it not only brings in direct profit to the husbandman, but indirectly, in the fertilizing of the soil and its increased capabilities of production; consequently, in the increased value of the land.


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    Bibliography
    Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/proverbs-14.html. 1874-1909.

    Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

    Proverbs 14:4. Where no oxen are, the crib is clean — The crib and stable may be easily kept clean where there are few or no oxen: but there is so much advantage arising from tilling the ground, that it is better to have a litter with plenty of oxen, than to have great neatness without them. Some think this is spoken of those who boast much of constant neatness about their houses, &c., which, at the same time, shows they carry on but little business. For where there is much business done, and many persons coming and going, there will necessarily be oftentimes less cleanliness and neatness. This verse, however, may be considered as containing an admonition for the man without doors, (as the first admonished the woman within,) that he should not neglect his husbandry, of which it is well known oxen were the principal instruments, being not only employed in ploughing the ground, and carrying home the crop, but also in treading out the corn.


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    Bibliography
    Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/proverbs-14.html. 1857.

    George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

    Empty. As the land has not bee cultivated. (Haydock) --- Strength, or number of oxen. (Calmet) --- "The virtue of the preachers is manifested where there are many converted to produce fruit." (St. Gregory vii. ep. viii.)


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    Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:4". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/proverbs-14.html. 1859.

    E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

    oxen. While these were multiplied, horses were prohibited.


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    Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:4". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/proverbs-14.html. 1909-1922.

    Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

    Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox.

    Where no oxen are, the crib is clean - i:e, Where there is no tillage of the ground (which in the East is effected by oxen), there is no food. Where there is no toil there can be no food wherewith to supply the labourer. There must be the labour of the oxen, if their crib is to be full of food.

    But much increase is by the strength of the ox. As no produce is to be expected if the land be untilled, so where the strength of the ox, is put into requisition, there is "much increase."


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    Bibliography
    Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/proverbs-14.html. 1871-8.

    Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

    (4) Where no oxen are, the crib is clean . . .—A proverb which may be taken in various ways. Some have seen in it an exhortation to kindness towards animals in consideration of their great usefulness. Others, that labour has its disagreeable aspect, but also brings its reward, whether material prosperity (“much increase”) or a more enduring reward. (Comp. Galatians 6:9.)


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    Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:4". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/proverbs-14.html. 1905.

    Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

    Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox.
    clean
    Amos 4:6
    but
    13:23; 1 Corinthians 9:9-11

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    Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:4". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/proverbs-14.html.

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