Proverbs 30:16

ESV Sheol, the barren womb, the land never satisfied with water, and the fire that never says, “Enough.”
NIV the grave, the barren womb, land, which is never satisfied with water, and fire, which never says, 'Enough!'
NASB Sheol, the infertile womb, Earth that is never satisfied with water, And fire that never says, 'Enough.'
CSB Sheol; a childless womb; earth, which is never satisfied with water; and fire, which never says, "Enough! "
NLT the grave, the barren womb, the thirsty desert, the blazing fire.
KJV The grave; and the barren womb; the earth that is not filled with water; and the fire that saith not, It is enough.

What does Proverbs 30:16 mean?

The prior verse mentioned the leech: a life-draining parasite which is never satisfied. Greed never leads to satisfaction—only to greater and greater hunger (Proverbs 30:15). Agur (Proverbs 30:1) now points out four other things which exhibit that same, insatiable nature.

First is sheol, the generic Hebrew term for death or the grave. Each day, thousands of people die. Hebrews 9:27 assures us, "It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment." It is possible to miss a doctor's appointment or some other appointment, but no one will miss the appointment to die unless he or she is a Christian who is alive at the time of the rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:16–17). Scripture only ever offers two examples of those who left earth without dying: Enoch (Genesis 5:24) and Elijah (2 Kings 2:11–12). Judgment, however, is never presented with even a single exemption.

Agur also writes that the barren womb is never satisfied. In most cases, a married woman longs for a child. She wants to become pregnant. Hannah was barren. First Samuel 1:10 says she was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord with weeping. She asked the Lord to take pity on her affliction—her barrenness—and grant her a son (1 Samuel 1:11).

Third, the land seems to never tire of receiving rain. In Agur's context, the land was dry, compared to other places in the world. Whatever rain fell was usually soaked up quickly, and more was often welcomed. Land is never "satisfied" with a certain amount of rain. Eventually, the soil dries and needs to be replenished with moisture. It needs a constant input of rain to remain fertile for crops.

The final comparison is to fire. Once a fire is lit, it will continue to burn so long as there is something to consume. Fires that smolder out simply run out of fuel. Fires which are extinguished are deprived of oxygen: part of their fuel source. A fire can never be "filled" such that it stops burning. It can be "starved," but until then flames will rage, consuming everything in their path.

Each of these images is meant to explain the nature of greed: it is never completed. Greed is never content with what it has; it will always want more and more, forever.
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