[It is] not for kings, O Lemuel
It is not fit for them, it is very unbecoming them; it is dishonourable to them, to such as Lemuel was, or was likely to be; or far be it from kings, let no such thing be do ne by them, nor by thee; [it is] not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink;
it is lawful for kings to drink wine in a moderate manner, and for princes, counsellors, and judges, to drink strong drink; meaning not such as is made of malt, which in those times was not used; but of honey, dates, pomegranates, and such like things; but then it was very unbecoming for either of them to drink any of these to excess; it is very disgraceful to any man to drink immoderately, to make a beast of himself, and much more a king or judge, who, of all men, ought to be grave and sober; both that they may perform their office well, and maintain the grandeur and dignity of it, which otherwise would become useless and despicable, yea, pernicious, as follows. Solomon, notwithstanding this advice, gave himself unto wine as well as women, ( Ecclesiastes 2:3 ) . The Targum is,
``take care of kings, O Lemuel, of kings who drink wine, and of princes that drink strong drink.''So the Syriac version, keep no company with them, nor follow their example; see ( Ecclesiastes 10:17 ) ( Hosea 7:5 ) ; The last clause may be rendered, "nor for princes [to say], where is strong drink" F4? where is it to be had? where is the best? as drunkards do; which is according to the marginal reading; but the "Cetib", or writing, is (wa) , "or" F5; but some render it as a noun, "the desire of strong drink" F6: it does not become princes to covet it.
F4 (rkv ya) "ubi sechar?" Montanus, Vatlablus; "ubi (est) sicera?", Cocceius, Michaelis; so Ben Melech.
F5 (rkv wa) "siceram", Cocceius, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Gussetius. p. 20. Schultens.
F6 "Nunc vino pellite curas", Horat. Carmin, l. 1. Ode 7. v. 31. "Tu spem reducis" ib. l. 3. Ode 21. v. 17.