What does Proverbs 23:10 mean?
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:
NKJV: Do not remove the ancient landmark, Nor enter the fields of the fatherless;
Verse Commentary:
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).
Verse Context:
Proverbs 23:1–11 continues a set of wise sayings recorded by Solomon (Proverbs 22:17–21). This passage contains many wise sayings framed mainly as negative commands: beginning with the words, "Do not." These statements are longer than the succinct suggestions which make up most of the book of Proverbs. Solomon addresses matters such as cautious skepticism towards one's host, avoiding addiction to work, and integrity before both men and God.
Chapter Summary:
This portion of wise sayings (Proverbs 22:17–21) starts with the sixth of thirty mentioned in chapter 22. These include advice on presenting oneself well to a host, while not being unduly influenced by such hospitality. The passage also speaks on the right time to share wisdom, ethics, discipline, and the joys associated with godly children. Also included are warnings about relationships and those who lack self-control. The chapter ends with the Bible's most strident warning about the dangers of alcohol abuse; this is the eighteenth of the thirty promised teachings.
Chapter Context:
This chapter continues Solomon's collection of the sayings of wise men (Proverbs 22:17–21). These lessons continue through Proverbs 24:34. Here, Solomon addresses his "son," perhaps meaning a student, with warnings about money, gluttony, speaking in the company of a fool, dishonesty, withholding discipline from a child, keeping company with drunkards, and the abuse of alcohol. The description of alcohol's risks is the most extensive such caution given in Scripture.
Book Summary:
Proverbs is best understood in context with the books of Ecclesiastes and Job. In Proverbs, “wisdom” is given in short, simple, general terms. Ecclesiastes represents wisdom based on observation and experience. This often shows how the general principles of the book of Proverbs don’t apply in absolutely every circumstance. Job represents wisdom based on the experience of suffering and injustice. All three come to the conclusion that God does indeed know best, and the most sensible course of action is to follow His will.
Accessed 5/24/2024 10:43:44 PM
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