“A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle.” - (Proverbs 18:19.)
Solomon, as most people know, had a huge family. With 600 wives and 300 concubines one can be certain that between the offspring of his concubinage and the in-laws, and what had to be conflict between the wives and concubines, I can only imagine what the atmosphere of the living areas had to be like. It had to be true that, as in Jacob’s life, who had more than one spouse, but not nearly as many as Solomon, there was real and vehement antagonism constantly.
Now, it is fairly certain that in our day, where multiple marriage is illegal in most US states, the conflict is a bit less pronounced. But there are any number of ways, even in a relationship where there is but one wife, for offense to multiply itself. When we think of extended family, even friends that are close to us, and perhaps we might include here the friends and family that is a part of our church circle; Solomon is telling us of both the undesirable nature of these offenses, as well as the great difficulty of mending those damaged “fences”.
“Brother” is a Hebrew word that can be used in a number of contexts, referring to
- brothers (in a single sense) or brethren (referring to the plural group as a single entity),
- to the brother as one of the same parents,
- one with some degree or manner of kinship, like the same tribe for instance, or some other kinship group.
- And even a brother in resemblance or some pronounced likeness.
“Offended” can speak of that which breaks or has broken away in some sense; varying from minor to propound. We should note that the word here is a verb and is a participle, seeing the action of the word for us to consider. We should consider that it is also in the Hebrew passive form as well. So we might translate it as “is being offended”. The process is initiated by another, a relative it appears, and causes offense to the one in view. The implication is that it is a wrong behavior, in some cases it can be used to imply criminal behavior. The one being offended is definitely doing that which is untoward and lays responsibility upon the shoulders of the one whom is “indulging” in being offended. It is, perhaps, to be seen as being either undeserved or held more harshly than is warranted.
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