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No. 18: Advice From a Sojourner, Part 8

BIBLICAL Horizons, No. 18
October, 1990
Copyright 1990, Biblical Horizons

15. The leech has two daughters,  "Give," "Give."  There are three things that will not be satisfied, Four that will not say, "Enough": 16. Sheol,  And the barren womb, Earth, that is never satisfied with water, And fire that never says, "Enough."

We are assuming, at least for the purposes of discussion and illustration, that the patriarch Jacob is Sojourner who authored Proverbs 30 (see Biblical Horizons No. 4). The Sojourner’s theme is humility. In this installment in our series, we look at a proverb dealing with dissatisfaction.

The leech is a blood-sucker, and it is never satisfied. The leech is said to have two daughters, both of which are named "Gimme." Expanding on this notion, the Sojourner gives us a climactic proverb: There are three, yea four, things that illustrate what he means by dissatisfaction.

The first is Sheol. The word "sheol" does not mean "hell," but rather the "grave" in the sense of the "place of departed people." The Bible does not teach that people lose consciousness and sleep until they awaken at the resurrection. Rather, they rest in a state of consciousness before God, or else away from God. In the Old Testament there is not much said about a distinction in where people go after death, and I believe that this is because heaven was not yet opened and so the righteous did not go there. Rather, they went to "Abraham’s bosom," while the wicked went to a place of torment in sheol (Lk. 16:22). When Jesus ascended and entered heaven, He brought the Old Testament saints with Him and from that time forward, believers go to heaven with Him when they die.

The grave is never full. Sooner or later everybody dies. The judgment of death comes to every single person.

Human leeches are like death. They will bleed you dry, and you simply have to avoid them. Stay away from them. The more you give them of yourself or of your possessions, the more they want. Ultimately, they will kill you, if you don’t get away from them. Compare Proverbs 1:8-12; 6:1-5.

Human leeches are also like the barren womb. For most women, failure to have children is a cause of continual and unremitting distress. The Biblical doctrine of adoption means that all our children are born dead and have to be brought to life again by baptism. In a real sense, all our children are adopted at the baptismal . Thus, the barren womb can be satisfied through the adoption of unwanted children. Those who do not or will not understand the beauty of adoption, however, can become very distorted in their lust for "natural" children, causing distress to themselves and to those around them.

Human leeches are, third, like earth that drinks water. It may rain a lot, but sooner or later it soaks into the ground. Under the Old Covenant, the ground was God’s agent to minister the curse to man. No matter how much good rain fell from heaven (Dt. 11:11), the earth always drank it up. If you wanted water to drink, you had to have a cistern to catch and keep some of it. In the same way, human leeches will drink up and defile every good gift heaven sends them or you give them. Compare John 7:38.

Finally, human leeches are like fire. Fire never goes out by itself as long as there is something combustible for it to spread to. Fire does not go out unless you take steps to put it out. Just so, you may have to take positive measures to get rid of a human leech.

Fire in the Bible is often associated with the tongue and gossip (Prov. 16:27; James 3:6; cp. the "thorns" of Ex. 22:6). If someone starts up a bad report about you, it will take heroic measures to set the record straight. People love gossip, and drink it up avidly. They then catch fire and repeat it. In this way, people are like destructive leeches.

Bloodsucking vampires are like this. They want you to join them in hellish (Sheolish) evil. They want to seduce your children to join their barren wombs. They drink up all that you give them. They catch fire and destroy you by telling lies about you. Avoid them.

Such people are not humble. They are not content with their place in life. They have a drive to get more and more, and a drive to tear down what other people have. To some extent this is true of all of us, but the proverb particularly warns us to avoid people who are totally taken over with this mindset.

Did Jacob know about this? Of course. Esau was the prime example of it.

Like the leech, Esau was a vampire. Once when he came in from the field from hunting, he was hungry. Unwilling to get one of the servants to fix a meal for him, he demanded some of Jacob’s lentils. Notice Esau’s words: "Let me have a swallow of the red, this red stuff" — therefore his name was called Edom (Red) (Gen. 25:30). Esau, you see, thought that Jacob was cooking blood. We can readily assume that as a hunter, Esau had often drunk blood in the field, in defiance of God’s command (Gen. 9:4).

Esau was a vampire man. He readily traded his birthright for what he thought was blood soup, but then wanted it back. "Gimme, gimme" was his outlook on life.

Esau was also a murderer, seeking to send Jacob to Sheol (Gen. 28:41). In Genesis 32:6, Esau came out with an army of 400 men to kill Jacob, but Jacob bought him off with a bribe of many gifts.

To see the barren womb in action, we look at Rachel, bitterly envious of her fruitful sister Leah, demanding of Jacob, "Gimme children lest I die of shame" (Gen. 30:1). What could Jacob do? He was angry with Rachel and said, "Am I God, that I should open your womb?" So Rachel sinned by sending her handmaid to Jacob, who sinned in lying with her, and thereby got children for herself (Gen. 30:2-8).

As a young man, Jacob had seen the thirsty ground (unbelievers) drink up his father Isaac’s water. Each time Isaac dug a well, the Philistines stole it from him, until finally they began to fear God and converted (Gen. 26:12-33). In another way, Jacob experienced the same thing when wicked Laban used up Jacob’s wives’ dowries, and also sought to steal back everything he gave Jacob earned (Gen. 30:35, 38; 31:1-16).

Finally, Jacob knew what happens when the fire of a bad report breaks out, for his sons committed a terrible atrocity against the people of the land, and when news of this atrocity spread, Jacob was forced to move away (Gen. 34:30).