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  • Dr. Stieglitz

Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 20:21

"An inheritance gained hurriedly at the beginning will not be blessed in the end"


This is the Hebrew word hahala, which means inheritance, possession, property. It has to do with giving or receiving property which was in Israel a part of generational inheritance.

It was typical for parents to hand over to their children the family lands and business so that they would be able to enjoy retirement. This did not have to wait until death as is the custom in our day. It happened when the parents were ready and/or when the children were ready.

It was also possible for a son to demand his inheritance at any point in his adult life as evidenced by the story in the New Testament by the prodigal son. He demanded his inheritance early and squandered it all. In fact, this proverb is the perfect summation of the situation of the story of the prodigal son.

Now the inheritance is the usual way that a person comes into a larger sum of money and possessions and the consistent teaching of the Scripture is to make sure that you are full of character and wisdom before you take on the burden of significant wealth. You may think you are ready when you are young, but you most likely are not.

The Bible is clearly against the whole get-rich-quick idea. It sees this as a temptation to the fool. It is not wise to be chasing quick profits or the big score. It usually causes one person to lose in order for you to win big quickly; that profit must come from somewhere. You have not been prepared to handle the large sums of money which explains why over 90% of large lottery winners are divorced in two years and over 70% of large lottery winners are bankrupt in two years. God suggests that discipline and diligence are the keys to acquiring wealth. Without these two, wealth will ruin you. Instead of it being a blessing, it will become a curse.


This is the Hebrew word bahal, which means to be disturbed, alarm, to hurry. It suggests, in this context, that one is hoping for their parent’s demise or an early demand for their share of the wealth of their parents. In a broader application it suggests a hot pursuit after wealth or even a love of money as in the New Testament.

You need to realize that certain qualities must be in place to handle wealth or it will destroy you. Also, one needs to realize that wealth without relationships is hollow. If you have to destroy your relationship with your parents to have wealth, then the wealth is a curse not a blessing. But usually the young cannot appreciate the wisdom of this idea. LIFE IS RELATIONSHIPS. Wealth without wisdom is disaster. Wealth with wisdom is hard enough. Even Solomon was not able to handle the combination of unlimited wealth and power. Wisdom, in his case, became compromise with evil.


This is the Hebrew word barak, which means to bless. The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament says "To bless in the OT means “to endue with power for success, prosperity, fecundity, longevity, etc.”

Solomon is trying to point out to younger people -- even those under 60 -- that they should not be in hurry to gain the wealth, especially the wealth of their parents. Your hurry will rob you of the success, prosperity, and enjoyment of life that you seek. And it may rob you of your relationship with your parents which, unless your parents are maliciously selfish, is precious.

Until tomorrow,

Gil Stieglitz

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