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  • Dr. Stieglitz

Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 30:17

"The eyes that mocks a father and scorns a mother, the ravens of the valley will pick it out, and the young eagles will eat it"


This is the Hebrew word ayinwhich means eye. In this instance it stands for the person – and more importantly the actions – of the soul of the person. It seems that Agur has chosen the eye as a way of conveying the way to perceive the intent of the soul and what the consequences will be of mocking and scorning.


This is the Hebrew word laagwhich means to mock, to deride, to scoff. In this context it is the person who holds their father in contempt. There is no love, there is no honor, there is only a desire to be released from authority; and so verbal contempt and attitudinal rebellion is heaped upon one's father. It shines out through the eyes – everyone in authority is evil and not to be trusted.


This is the Hebrew word buzwhich means to despise, to scorn. One translation has this phrase as despises to obey. The idea is clearly that this person who is like this is a rebel. They don't just occasionally disobey. The set of their life is one which automatically disobeys. They will disobey even if obedience is favorable to them. They have set themselves against an authority who is trying to tell them what to do. They may at time have to obey, but they hate it and internally despise obedience.


This is the Hebrew word orebwhich means raven. A raven is a scavenger bird.

young eagles

This is the Hebrew word nesherfor eagle. An eagle is a carnivore. It is a violent bird that takes the living and devours it so that it can live.

There are two directions which our understanding of this proverb could go. It could be quite literal and suggest that the rebel child who internally sets themselves against the will of their parents will be taken to the city gates and stoned for rebellion and left for dead so that the scavenger birds will come and pluck their eyes out. This provision is in the Old Testament Law. This idea could be understood also to mean that the rebel, in some circumstance, will end up dead with no one to care enough about their body that the scavenger birds will have the freedom to pick at the body.

A second more figurative and symbolic understanding of this proverb would be that the person who is a rebel displays that rebellious nature through their eyes. That rebellion shines out through the eyes of the person and attracts scavenger types of people and violent types of people – the bottom-feeders of the human condition. The rebel is attractive to these kinds of people and the rebel is attracted to the scavenger and violent type of person. The consequences of the action of rebellion is that you are drawn toward and attracted to a lifestyle and person who will ravage your life.

When I was a youth pastor I remember using the verse to explain the phenomena of rebel teens finding one another even though they did not know one another before the outing or event. I would ask the other youth pastors who were their most rebellious kids, and I would tell them our most rebellious kids. And invariably those groups of kids would be together within a very short period of time. Rebellion is an attitude that changes the way a person lives.

It is clear that Agur is trying to dissuade young people away from rebellion. Be wise, he shouts, don't choose the path of rebellion. It will consume your life.

Until tomorrow,

Gil Stieglitz

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