Good help is hard to find! (Proverbs 10:26)
Posted by jac/cdc on April 11, 2007
כַּחֹמֶץ ׀ לַשִּׁנַּיִם וְכֶעָשָׁן לָעֵינָיִם כֵּן הֶעָצֵל לְשֹׁלְחָיו׃
ka-KHO-mets la-shi-NEYE-eem u-khe-a-SHAN l’-ay-NEYE-im KAYN he-a-TSAYL l’-sho-l’-KHAV
Like vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes—so is a lazy person to the one who sends them.
The message of this proverb is transparent enough. Its placement in the book/section less obvious. We can particularly appreciate the artfulness of this proverb, which includes its alliteration of לַשִּׁנַּיִם (la-shi-NEYE-eem; ‘teeth’) and לָעֵינָיִם (l’-ay-NEYE-im; ‘eye), and the colorful word pictures—vinegar in the teeth (referring to any acidic, grape-based drink and the affect of the acid on the teeth) and smoke in the eyes.
Sociologically this proverb belongs to a number of sayings in the book that contain warnings about messengers (13:17; 22:21; 25:13; 26:6). Faithful and diligent messengers were, of course, much more crucial to ancient commerce than to modern business, but the lesson is not lost: successful business requires faithful and diligent workers.