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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Proverbs 26:8

 

 

Like one who binds a stone in a sling, So is he who gives honor to a fool.

Adam Clarke Commentary

As he that bindeth a stone in a sling, so is he that giveth honor to a fool - It is entirely thrown away. This, however, is a difficult proverb; and the versions give but little light on the subject. The Hebrew may be translated, "As a piece of precious stone among a heap of stones, so is he that giveth honor to a fool." Or, As he that putteth a precious stone in a heap of stones. See Parkhurst: but on this interpretation the meaning would rather be, "It is as useless to throw a jewel among a heap of stones to increase its bulk, as to give honor to a fool."

As he that sendith a stoon into a hepe of monee; so he that geveth to an unwiisman wirschip - Old MS. Bible.

"He that setteth a foole in hye dignite, that is even as yf a man dyd caste a precious stone upon the galous." - Coverdale. This translator refers to the custom of throwing a stone to the heap under which a criminal lay buried. The Vulgate gives some countenance to this translation: "He who gives honor to a fool is like one who throws a stone to Mercury's heap." Mercury was considered the deity who presided over the highways; and stones were erected in different places to guide the traveler. Hence those lines of Dr. Young: -

"Death stands like Mercuries in every way;

And kindly points us to our journey's end."


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Proverbs 26:8". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/proverbs-26.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

i. e., “To give honor to the fool is like binding a stone in a sling; you cannot throw it.” In each case you misapply and so waste. Others render in the sense of the margin: To use a precious stone where a pebble would be sufficient, is not less foolish than to give honor to a fool.


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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Proverbs 26:8". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/proverbs-26.html. 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Proverbs 26:8

As he that bindeth a stone in a sling, so is he that giveth honour to a fool.

Throwing a stone at an idol

The words should be translated, as Colonel Condor was the first to point out: “As he that throweth a stone at an idol, so is he that giveth honour to a fool.” The comparison refers to the universal custom, in ancient times, among Pagan nations of throwing a stone at an idolatrous shrine, not in execration of it, like the stones thrown to this day by the Jews at Absalom’s pillar at Jerusalem, but in honour of it. At the foot of some sacred tree, or some pillar consecrated to idolatrous worship, a cairn or heap of stones is generally found; each stone testifying of a visit paid to the spot by some votary; and the larger the heap the greater the veneration shown. In Greece, the worship of Hermes or Mercury consisted in throwing a stone at his image, set up as a mark by the wayside to protect travellers on a journey. In Palestine, amongst the primitive Canaanite inhabitants that still survived, idolatry was widely practised; and in early times it was a common sight, on rising spots among the hills of Judea and Galilee, to come upon a menhir, or dolmen, in which the object of worship was a rude stone image, forming the nucleus of a cairn or heap of stones which had gradually grown around it, in remembrance of the visits paid by worshippers. In Scotland many cairns are made of the stones thrown at a rude stone monument, or cromlech, as an act of worship; and, perhaps, many of the cairns of remembrance raised to the dead may have originated from this act of worship. The old saying, “I will add a stone to your cairn,” was the highest expression of reverence and regard that could be offered to a friend. With this explanation the comparison used in the Scripture proverb becomes plain and forcible. The proverb could only have been used by an iconoclast; and very probably came into existence in the days of Hezekiah, after the wholesale destruction, by this pious and zealous monareh, of the altars and stone monuments of the Canaanite idolaters which had corrupted Israel. Hezekiah was bent on the work of national reformation, and the purification and consecration of the temple by a perfect ceremonial was accompanied by the overthrow of all the “high places” and the idolatrous images and rites connected with them, as antagonistic to the holiness of the land as God’s heritage. And, therefore, the proverb of the text would have a deep force and meaning in his day. Like one who continued the old practice of throwing a stone at an idolatrous monument, in token of worship, a practice now forbidden and proved to be vain and useless, so was he who gave honour to a fool. A fool was as unworthy of honour as an idol is of worship. In the one case there is no reason for the honour; and in the other case the worship is a mere empty foolish superstition. An idol is nothing, and a fool is a negation. (H. Macmillan, D. D.)


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Bibliography
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Proverbs 26:8". The Biblical Illustrator. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/proverbs-26.html. 1905-1909. New York.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

As he that bindeth a stone in a sling,.... That so fastens it to it that it cannot be slung out of it, it becomes useless and does not answer the end for which it is put there; or that places it there that it may be cast out, and is cast out, and so is thrown away, and of no more use; or that puts a precious stone, so some interpret it, in a heap of common stones, even in such a heap as is used at the stoning of malefactors; or increases the heap of stones on such, which the more exposes them, and the greater reproach they are loaded with; so the more a fool is praised, it does but bring to mind his folly, and issues in his greater disgrace, so GussetiusF15Ebr. Comment. p. 777. : or rather it has respect to a precious stone put in such a heap of stones, as Luther; or else, according to Schultens, to such an one put into a heap of sepulchral stones; or, as Aben Ezra, that binds up a stone, a common stone, in purple, which to do is ridiculous, so R. Joseph Kimchi; the Vulgate Latin version renders it,

"as he that casts a stone to Mercury's heap;'

a Heathen deity, called by the eastern people Mertholin and MargenahF16D. Herbert de Chefbury d. Relig Gent. c. 7. p. 58. , which last is near the same with the Hebrew word here used; whose statue was set up where two or more ways met, to direct travellers; and who therefore out of respect to the deity, and to show gratitude to him, used to cast a stone to the heap for the support of it; and which stones, set up in such doubtful places, were dedicated to him, and were called after his nameF17Suidas in voce ερμαιον. ; and not only travellers did this in honour of the deity, and to make his statue more manifestF18Phurnutus de Natura Deorum, p. 33. , but also for profit, to clear the way from stones; and this custom obtained with the Indians, Arabs, Saracens, and now does with the MahometansF19Vid. D. Herbert de Cherbury, ut supra, p. 59. : and such heaps of stones were also placed in cities, and at the doors of houses, in honour of Mercury, and were called from him HermaeF20Cornel. Nepot. Vit. Alcibiad. l. 7. c. 3. ; these stones were also erected for borders of countriesF21Pausan. Corinth. sive, l. 2. p. 157. . But it is not probable that this custom obtained in Solomon's time; and yet some Jewish writers interpret it to this sense, as if he that gives honour to a fool is like him that casts a stone to Mercury; and Jarchi in the text observes it as the sense of some of their Rabbins,

"that he that teacheth the law to a disciple that is not fit, is as he that casts a stone to Mercury;'

and to cast a stone to Mercury is with them the same as to commit idolatryF23Misn. Sanhedrin, c. 7. s. 6. & Maimon. in ib. ; but either of the former senses is best;

so is he that giveth honour to a fool; it is all thrown away and lost, as a stone out of a sling; or as unseemly as to put a precious stone among a heap of stones, or a common stone in purple; See Gill on Proverbs 26:1.


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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.
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Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 26:8". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/proverbs-26.html. 1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

A stone, bound in a sling, is useless; so honor, conferred on a fool, is thrown away.


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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
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 26:8". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/proverbs-26.html. 1871-8.

Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament

This proverb presents to us a new difficulty.

As one binds a stone in a sling,

So is he who giveth honour to a fool.

This translation is warranted by tradition, and is in accordance with the actual facts. A sling is elsewhere called קלע ; but that מרגּמה also in the passage before us signifies a sling (from רגם , to throw with stones = to stone or to throw stones = to sling, cf. Targ. Esther 5:14 רגּם , of David's slinging stones against Goliath), is supported by the lxx, Syr., and Targ. on the one side, and the Jewish Glossists on the other (Rashi: fronde , Ital. frombola ). Rightly the lxx renders כּצרור as a verb: ὡς ἀποδεσμεύει ; on the contrary, the Syr. and Targ. regard it as a substantive: as a piece of stone; but צרור as a substantive does not mean a piece, as one would put into a sling to use as a weapon, but a grain, and thus a little piece, 2 Samuel 17:13; cf. Amos 9:9. Erroneously Ewald: “if one binds to the sling the stone which he yet seeks to throw, then all this throwing and aiming are in vain; so it is in vain to give to a fool honour which does not reach him.” If one seeks to sling a stone, he must lay the lapis missilis so in the sling that it remains firm there, and goes forth only by the strong force of the slinging; this fitting in (of the stone), so that it does not of itself fall out, is expressed by צרר בּ (cf. Proverbs 30:4; Job 26:8). The giving is compared to the binding, the stones to the honour, and the sling to the fool: the fool is related to the honour which one confers on him, as the stone to the sling in which one lays it - the giving of honour is a slinging of honour. Otherwise (after Kimchi) the Venet . ὡς συνδεσμὸς λίθου ἐν λιθάδι , i.e. , as Fleischer translates: ut qui crumenam gemmarum plenam in acervum lapidum conjicit . Thus also Ralbag, Ahron b. Josef, and others, and lastly Zöckler. The figure is in the form of an address, and מרגּמה (from רגם , accumulare, congerere , vid ., under Psalms 67:1-7 :28) might certainly mean the heaping of stones. But אבן is not used in the sense of אבן יקרה (precious stone); also one does not see why one precious stone is not enough as the figure of honour, and a whole heap is named; but in the third place, כּן נותן requires for כצרור a verbal signification. Therefore Jerome translates: sicut qui mittit lapidem in acervum Mercurii ; in this the echo of his Jewish teacher, for the Midrash thus explains literally: every one who gives honour to a fool is like one who throws a stone on a heap of stones consecrated to Mercury. Around the Hermes ( ἑρμαὶ ), i.e. , pillars with the head of Mercury ( statuae mercuriales or viales ), were heaps of stones ( ἕρμακες ), to which the passer-by was wont to throw a stone; it was a mark of honour, and served at the same time to improve the way, whose patron was Mercurious ( מרקולים ). It is self-evident that this Graeco-Roman custom to which the Talm. makes frequent reference, cannot be supposed to have existed in the times of Solomon. Luther translates independently, and apparently rendering into German that in acervum Mercurii : that is as if one threw a precious stone on the “ Rabenstein ,” i.e. , the heap of stones raised at the foot of the gallows. This heap of stones is more natural and suitable to the times of Solomon than the heap of stones dedicated to Mercury, if, like Gussetius, one understands מרגמה of a heap of stones, supra corpus lapidatum . But against this and similar interpretations it is enough to remark that כצרור cannot signify sicut qui mittit . Had such a meaning been intended, the word would have been כּהשׁליך or כּמשׁליך . Still different is the rendering of Joseph Kimchi, Aben Ezra, and finally Löwenstein: as when one wraps up a stone in a piece of purple stuff. But ארגּמן , purple, has nothing to do with the verb רגם ; it is, as the Aramaic ארגּון shows, a compound word; the supposition of a denom. מרגּמה thus proceeds from a false etymological supposition. And Hitzig's combination of מרגמה with (Arab.) munjam , handle and beam of a balance (he translates: as a stone on the beam of a balance, i.e. , lies on it), is nothing but refined ingenuity, since we have no need at all of such an Arab. word for a satisfactory clearing up of מרגמה . We abide by the rendering of the sling. Böttcher translates: a sling that scatters; perhaps מרגמה in reality denotes such a sling as throws many stones at once. Let that, however, be as it may: that he who confers a title of honour, a place of honour, and the like, on a fool, is like one who lays a stone in a sling, is a true and intelligibly formed thought: the fool makes the honour no honour; he is not capable of maintaining it; that which is conferred on him is uselessly wasted.


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The Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.

Bibliography
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Proverbs 26:8". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/kdo/proverbs-26.html. 1854-1889.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

As he that bindeth a stone in a sling, so is he that giveth honour to a fool.

Bindeth — Whereby he hinders his own design of throwing the stone out of it.

So — No less absurd is he that giveth to a fool that honour which he is not capable of using aright.


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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 26:8". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/proverbs-26.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Proverbs 26:8 As he that bindeth a stone in a sling, so [is] he that giveth honour to a fool.

Ver. 8. As he that bindeth a stone in a sling.] A precious stone is not fit for a sling - where it will soon be cast away and lost; no more is honour for a fool. See Proverbs 26:1. Ebenezra saith that Margemah, here rendered a sling, signifies purple, and senseth it thus: As it is an absurd thing to wrap a pebble in purple, so is it to prefer a fool, as Saul did Doeg, as Ahasuerus Haman.


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 26:8". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/proverbs-26.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Proverbs 26:8. As he that bindeth a stone in a sling The plain meaning of this seems to be, what Bishop Patrick has given in his paraphrase; "As a stone put into a sling stays not long there, so is that honour thrown away which is bestowed upon a fool." Houbigant explains it in the same manner. Some of the versions render it, As he who throweth a stone to Mercury's heap; which is supposed to be an allusion to the superstitious custom, obliging passengers to throw a stone to such heaps in honour of Mercury; but it is very doubtful whether this custom was so old as Solomon's time. See Calmet's note. Parkhurst supposes the meaning to be, As a spark, or small piece of precious stone, in a heap of stones, so is he who giveth honour to a fool. The precious stone in one case, and the honour in the other, are thrown away and lost. See his Lexicon on the word רגם ragam.


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Bibliography
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Proverbs 26:8". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/proverbs-26.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

As he that bindeth a stone in a sling; whereby he hinders his own design of throwing the stone out of it; or, who fastens it there only for a season, that he may speedily and violently throw it away. Or, as it is rendered in our margin, and by many others, As he that putteth a precious stone (Heb. a stone, which is oft emphatically used for a precious stone, both in Scripture, as Exodus 39:10 1 Chronicles 29:8, and elsewhere, and also in other authors) in an heap of stones, where it is obscured and lost.

So is he that giveth honour to a fool; no less absurd is he that giveth to a fool that honour and praise which he is not capable either of receiving, or retaining, or using aright, but it is quite wasted upon him, and doth him more hurt than good.


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Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Proverbs 26:8". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/proverbs-26.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

8. As he that bindeth a stone — The margin reads: “As he that putteth a precious stone into a heap of stones.” The reading of the text is supported by the Septuagint and Syriac, and is preferred by some very reputable modern critics. The moral is the same in both forms, namely: the folly or uselessness of giving honour — preferment, responsibility — to a fool — that is, an incapable and wicked man. These are some of the translations of the first clause: “As a bag of gems in a heap of stones” — a proverbial expression like that in Matthew 7:6, casting pearls before swine. So Gesenius: “As a grain of precious stone in a heap of stones, so is he,” etc.

The precious stone in one case, and the honour in the other, is thrown away and lost. The Douay, following the Vulgate, reads: “As he that casteth a stone into a heap of mercury, so is he that giveth honour to a fool.” Did the translator take margemah for Mercury, the heathen god of the highways? But Schultens takes מרגמה, (margemah,) which occurs only here, and is rendered sling in the Authorized Version, to denote a heap of stones cast over a person stoned to death. This explanation would make the proverb more poignant. “The honour given to a fool is compared to a stone flung at a heap already thrown at a criminal stoned to death. It but adds to his shame. As the confining a precious stone in the sepulchral heap of an executed malefactor, where it must be disgraced, if not lost, so is he that giveth honour to a fool.” Zockler, Conant, and Miller prefer the old rendering, “a stone in a sling.” The Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic support our Authorized Version. Miller maintains that the binding the stone in the sling means simply putting it there to be thrown, and, hence, to damage those it reaches.


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Bibliography
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Proverbs 26:8". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/proverbs-26.html. 1874-1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

By giving honor to a fool one arms him to do damage. This can happen, for example, by promoting him to a position of greater responsibility. The figure of binding a stone in a sling seems to suggest that the person doing the binding did not know how to operate a sling. People did not bind stones in slings but simply laid them in the sling so when the sling was slung the stone would fly out. Similarly one who expects a fool to accomplish something honorable does not know how things work. [Note: Whybray, The Book . . ., p152.]


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Bibliography
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Proverbs 26:8". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/proverbs-26.html. 2012.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Proverbs 26:8. As he that bindeth a stone in a sling — Whereby he hinders his own design of throwing the stone out of it; so is he, &c. — No less absurd is he that giveth to a fool that honour which he is not capable of using aright. Bishop Patrick and Houbigant give a different interpretation of the verse, thus: “As a stone put into a sling stays not long there, so is that honour thrown away which is bestowed upon a fool.” Parkhurst, however, according to the translation in the margin, supposes the meaning to be, “As a spark, or small piece of precious stone, in a heap of stones, so is he that giveth honour to a fool.”


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Bibliography
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Proverbs 26:8". Joseph Benson's Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/proverbs-26.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Mercury. The god of travellers, who were wont to throw a stone at the foot of his statue, as the Indians (Vincent. Bellor. xxiv.) and Arabs did. Mahomet would not disturb this superstitious custom. The Rabbins style these statues Mercolis. But Septuagint, &c., give another sense, "as he that bindeth a stone (Calmet) in the boss of a ring, Greek: sphendone, (Menochius) or in a sling," can do no good, but only endanger himself or others, "so," &c. Yet margema is never used elsewhere for a sling, and it means undoubtedly "a heap of stones," (Calmet) as Montanus substitutes instead of "the sling," in Pagnin. "As a small piece of precious stone in a heap of stones is lost, so," &c. (Pole. Syn. Parkhurst in rogom.) (Haydock) --- Honour, or an office, in which he may do harm. (Calmet)


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Bibliography
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Proverbs 26:8". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/proverbs-26.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

bindeth = bindeth tight: a foolish thing to do.


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Bibliography
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Proverbs 26:8". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/proverbs-26.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

As he that bindeth a stone in a sling, so is he that giveth honour to a fool.

As he that bindeth (hurleth, Maurer) a stone in a sling, so (is) he that giveth honour to a fool. The honour is thrown away that is given to a fool. Ewald takes it as the English version, If one binds a stone in a sling, it becomes useless to the slinger; so honour attached to a fool. So the Septuagint The Vulgate gives the sense in the margin of the English version. But "a stone" can hardly stand for a precious stone. The Chaldaic, Syriac, and Arabic support the English version.


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Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Proverbs 26:8". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/proverbs-26.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(8) As he that bindeth a stone in a sling . . .—i.e., the stone is soon gone from the sling and seen no more, so honour and a fool soon part company. This seems on the whole the most probable rendering of this verse.


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Bibliography
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Proverbs 26:8". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/proverbs-26.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

As he that bindeth a stone in a sling, so is he that giveth honour to a fool.
bindeth a stone in a sling
Heb. putteth a precious stone in a heap of stones. This probably refers, as Coverdale understands it, to the custom of throwing a stone to the heap under which a criminal was buried. So the Vulgate, Sicut qui mittit lapidem in acervum Mercurii; ita qui tribuit insipienti honorem, "As he who throws a stone to Mercury's heap, so is he who gives honour to a fool." Mercury was a heathen god of highways; and stones were erected in different parts to guide the traveller: hence those lines of Dr. Young,
so
1; 19:10; 30:22

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Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Proverbs 26:8". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/proverbs-26.html.

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