The Holy See
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New American Bible

2002 11 11
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Chapter 30


1 2 The words of Agur, son of Jakeh the Massaite: The pronouncement of mortal man: "I am not God; I am not God, that I should prevail.


Why, I am the most stupid of men, and have not even human intelligence;


Neither have I learned wisdom, nor have I the knowledge of the Holy One.


Who has gone up to heaven and come down again -  who has cupped the wind in his hands? Who has bound up the waters in a cloak -  who has marked out all the ends of the earth? What is his name, what is his son's name, if you know it?"


Every word of God is tested; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.


Add nothing to his words, lest he reprove you, and you be exposed as a deceiver.


Two things I ask of you, deny them not to me before I die:


Put falsehood and lying far from me, give me neither poverty nor riches; (provide me only with the food I need;)


Lest, being full, I deny you, saying, "Who is the LORD?" Or, being in want, I steal, and profane the name of my God.


Slander not a servant to his master, lest he curse you, and you have to pay the penalty.


3 There is a group of people that curses its father, and blesses not its mother.


There is a group that is pure in its own eyes, yet is not purged of its filth.


There is a group - how haughty their eyes! how overbearing their glance!


There is a group whose incisors are swords, whose teeth are knives, Devouring the needy from the earth, and the poor from among men.


4 The two daughters of the leech are, "Give, Give." Three things are never satisfied, four never say, "Enough!"


The nether world, and the barren womb; the earth, that is never saturated with water, and fire, that never says, "Enough!"


The eye that mocks a father, or scorns an aged mother, Will be plucked out by the ravens in the valley; the young eagles will devour it.


5 Three things are too wonderful for me, yes, four I cannot understand:


The way of an eagle in the air, the way of a serpent upon a rock, The way of a ship on the high seas, and the way of a man with a maiden.


6 Such is the way of an adulterous woman: she eats, wipes her mouth, and says, "I have done no wrong."


Under three things the earth trembles, yes, under four it cannot bear up:


Under a slave when he becomes king, and a fool when he is glutted with food;


Under an odious woman when she is wed, and a maidservant when she displaces her mistress.


Four things are among the smallest on the earth, and yet are exceedingly wise:


Ants - a species not strong, yet they store up their food in the summer;


7 Rock-badgers - a species not mighty, yet they make their home in the crags;


Locusts - they have no king, yet they migrate all in array;


Lizards - you can catch them with your hands, yet they find their way into king's palaces.


Three things are stately in their stride, yes, four are stately in their carriage:


The lion, mightiest of beasts, who retreats before nothing;


The strutting cock, and the he-goat, and the king at the head of his people.


8 If you have foolishly been proud or presumptuous - put your hand on your mouth;


For the stirring of milk brings forth curds, and the stirring of anger brings forth blood.



1 [1-3] Agur wishes to stress man's insignificance when he is compared to God; cf Job 38-39.

2 [1] Agur: an unknown person. Massaite: from Massa in northern Arabia, elsewhere referred to as an encampment of the Ishmaelites ( Genesis 25:14). But the word may not be intended as a place name; it might signify "an oracle," "a prophecy."

3 [11-14] Perverted people are here classified as unfilial ( Proverb 30:11), self-righteous ( Proverb 30:12), proud ( Proverb 30:13) and rapacious ( Proverb 30:14).

4 [15-17] The two daughters . . . "Give, Give": the text is obscure but the sense seems to be that the leech is insatiable in its desire for blood, just as desire for blood, just as are the nether world for victims, the barren womb for offspring, the parched earth for water, and fire for fuel ( Proverb 30:16).

5 [18-19] The soaring flight of the eagle, the mysterious movement upon a rock of the serpent which has no feet, the path of the ship through the trackless deep, and the marvelous procreation of human life, excite great wonderment.

6 [20] This verse portrays the indifference of an adulterous woman who thinks there is no trace of her wicked act.

7 [26] Rock-badgers: cf note to Psalm 104:18.

8 [32-33] The anger aroused by overweening pride threatens an awesome punishment.

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