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The generous person himself will be blessed
because he gave of his bread to the poor. Bible

“generous person.” The Hebrew text is a Semitic idiom, and reads, “he who has a good eye will be blessed.” In this case we can tell from the idiom and the last phrase in the verse that a “good eye” is a generous eye. The meaning of the verse is captured by the NET: “A generous person will be blessed, for he gives some of his food to the poor.”

In the biblical culture, the “eye” revealed a lot about the person’s character—more than it does today. People today often express themselves and their feelings by their clothing, hair style, makeup, jewelry, and things like tattoos, and often those distract from, or overpower, the look on a person’s face or in their eye. In the biblical culture clothing and styles were much more standard than today, and so people were much more sensitive to the look on a person’s face and in their eye than they are today, and “face” and “eye” are often used to describe a person’s character or mood. For example, Proverbs 6:17 speaks of the person with a “haughty eye.” Leah is described as having “tender” or “weak” eyes (Gen. 29:17). Intense intimacy was expressed by “eye to eye” (Num. 14:14); and God told Israel not to let their “eye” pity their enemies (Deut. 7:16; cp. Deut. 13:8).

The “good” eye was generous, and here in Proverbs the word “good” is the Hebrew tov (#02896 טוֹב) and it included a broad range of meanings depending on the context, including things such as “good, pleasant, kind, agreeable, happy, prosperous, valuable, generous, and useful.” In this context, the person with a “good” eye was generous and shared his substance with the poor.

Just as your eye was “good” if you were generous, it was “evil” if you were selfish and stingy. The meaning of the idiom of the “evil eye” changed over time, and today if someone gives you the “evil eye” it means he wishes harm to come to you. However, that was not the meaning of the idiom in biblical times. Biblically, the person with the “evil eye” was selfish and stingy, as we see from its use in the Bible. Proverbs 28:22 says, “A greedy man [“a man with an evil eye”] rushes after wealth, and doesn’t know that poverty will come upon him.”

Jesus taught about both generous and selfish people, but used a different idiom concerning generosity. He said that if your eye was “single” (another idiom meaning “generous”), your whole body would be full of light, but if your eye was “evil” (meaning you were stingy and selfish), your whole body would be full of darkness (Matt. 6:22; Luke 11:34). [For more on the “evil eye” see commentary on Prov. 28:22].


Commentary for: Proverbs 22:9