Proverbs 23:10

ESV Do not move an ancient landmark or enter the fields of the fatherless,
NIV Do not move an ancient boundary stone or encroach on the fields of the fatherless,
NASB Do not move the ancient boundary Or go into the fields of the fatherless,
CSB Don't move an ancient boundary marker, and don't encroach on the fields of the fatherless,
NLT Don’t cheat your neighbor by moving the ancient boundary markers; don’t take the land of defenseless orphans.
KJV Remove not the old landmark; and enter not into the fields of the fatherless:

What does Proverbs 23:10 mean?

Solomon offers another "do not" lesson, as part of his collection of thirty wise teachings (Proverbs 22:17–21). This echoes a comment made near the end of the prior chapter (Proverbs 22:28), which itself was part of this collection of wisdom. Ancient boundaries were often noted using landmarks; when the border was not at a precise landmark, stones could be placed (Genesis 31:51–52). A form of theft could be committed by moving a boundary stone, making it appear that the line was in a different location (Deuteronomy 19:14; Job 24:2; Hosea 5:10). The prior proverb hinted at the idea of not ignoring the restrictions of previous generations; this one is more directly applied (Proverbs 23:11).

The sin committed here is something like a modern person altering a map, uprooting surveyor's stakes, or moving a fence. Other Old Testament passages specifically forbade this (Deuteronomy 27:17). Even worse than cheating someone out of property is to defraud someone already disadvantaged, such as those who have lost a father. Other proverbs condemn such acts (Proverbs 22:22; 31:8–9). James writes, "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world" (James 1:27). Another part of this collection of thirty wise teachings highlighted a similar idea (Proverbs 22:22–23).

King David is an example of kindness to a fatherless, helpless person. He sent for Mephibosheth, Jonathan's disabled son, and welcomed him into the palace. He set a place at the table for Mephibosheth, gave him land, and instructed Saul's servant Ziba and Ziba's sons to work the land for Mephibosheth (2 Samuel 9:1–13).
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