Proverbs 30:16

16 the grave, the barren womb, land, which is never satisfied with water, and fire, which never says, ‘Enough!’

Proverbs 30:16 in Other Translations

King James Version (KJV)
16 The grave; and the barren womb; the earth that is not filled with water; and the fire that saith not, It is enough.
English Standard Version (ESV)
16 Sheol, the barren womb, the land never satisfied with water, and the fire that never says, "Enough."
New Living Translation (NLT)
16 the grave, the barren womb, the thirsty desert, the blazing fire.
The Message Bible (MSG)
16 hell, a barren womb, a parched land, a forest fire.
American Standard Version (ASV)
16 Sheol; And the barren womb; The earth that is not satisfied with water; And the fire that saith not, Enough.
GOD'S WORD Translation (GW)
16 the grave, a barren womb, a land that never gets enough water, a fire that does not say, "Enough!"
Holman Christian Standard Bible (CSB)
16 Sheol; a barren womb; earth, which is never satisfied with water; and fire, which never says, "Enough!"
New International Reader's Version (NIRV)
16 The first is the grave. The second is a woman who can't have a baby. The third is land. It never gets enough water. And the fourth is fire. It never says, 'Enough!'

Proverbs 30:16 Meaning and Commentary

Proverbs 30:16

The grave
Which is the first of the four daughters, or insatiable things, which resemble the horse leech: the grave is the house appointed for all living; it stands ready for them, it is open to receive them when dead; and though such multitudes have been put into it, since death reigned in the world, yet it is not full, it waits for more; nor will its mouth be shut till the last enemy, death, is destroyed; see ( Proverbs 27:20 ) ; This is an emblem of a covetous man, who enlarges his desire as hell or the grave; and is never satisfied with gold, silver, and increase of substance he has, but is always craving more; and the barren womb;
the second daughter, that cries, Give, give, as Rachel, "give me children, or I die", ( Genesis 30:1 ) : barren women are oftentimes impatient for children, as she was; and importunate, as Hannah; and as the Israelitish women were before the coming of the Messiah, each hoping he might be born of them; especially before it was so clearly known that he should be born of a virgin: though it may be rather the barren womb of harlots is here meant, and who are generally barren, and whose lust is insatiable; and this may be an emblem of lust, which is never satisfied; whether it be a lust of riches, or of honour, or of uncleanness, or of sensual pleasures; the earth [that] is not filled with water;
which is dry and parched, and opens and gapes; and though large quantities of rain may fall upon it, which it greedily drinks in; yet is not seen, nor is it filled with it, but it thirsts for more: this may be an emblem of good men, that have received abundance of the grace of God; and though they thirst not after sin, as they before did, and others do; yet thirst after God, more knowledge of him, and communion with him, and for more grace, like the dry and thirsty land, and cannot have enough of it; see ( John 4:13 John 4:14 ) ( Psalms 63:1 Psalms 63:2 ) ( Hebrews 6:7 ) ; or rather of wicked men, who drink up iniquity like water, and yet never have their fill of it to their satisfaction. This is the third thing, and the fourth follows: and the fire [that] saith not, [It is] enough;
but let what fuel will be cast into it, it devours it, and still wants more: by the Egyptians, as Herodotus F18 relates, fire is reckoned an animated beast, which devours all it can lay hold on; and when it is filled with food, it dies with that which is devoured by it. Such is the fire of divine wrath, hell fire, in which sinners are, as thorns and briers; and which is unquenchable, everlasting, burns for ever and ever; the Tophet, ordained of old, deep and large, the pile thereof is fire and much wood, kindled by the breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone, ( Isaiah 30:33 ) . These are the four daughters of the horse leech which resemble that in its insatiableness. Jarchi makes mention of some that interpret the horse leech of "sheol", or the state of the dead; and the two daughters, of paradise and hell; the one says, "Give me the righteous"; and the other says, "Give me the wicked." Aben Ezra applies these four to the four generations before spoken of; the grave, into which are cast the generation of those that curse their father, and die before their time; the barren womb, the generation of those that are not washed from the filthiness of whoredom, and have no children; the earth not filled with water, the proud and haughty, who are humbled by famine; and the fire is that which descends from heaven, to consume the generation that destroy the poor and oppress the needy, as fire came down upon them in the days of Elijah. Jarchi takes notice of a Midrash, which applies these four things to the four monarchies; as it does also all the four things after mentioned.


F18 Thalia sive, l. 3. c. 16.

Proverbs 30:16 In-Context

14 those whose teeth are swords and whose jaws are set with knives to devour the poor from the earth and the needy from among mankind.
15 “The leech has two daughters. ‘Give! Give!’ they cry. “There are three things that are never satisfied, four that never say, ‘Enough!’:
16 the grave, the barren womb, land, which is never satisfied with water, and fire, which never says, ‘Enough!’
17 “The eye that mocks a father, that scorns an aged mother, will be pecked out by the ravens of the valley, will be eaten by the vultures.
18 “There are three things that are too amazing for me, four that I do not understand:

Cross References 1

  • 1. Proverbs 27:20; Isaiah 5:14; Isaiah 14:9,11; Habakkuk 2:5
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