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The Generous Soul Will receive Blessings
Proverbs 11:26 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
26 He who withholds grain, the people curse him,
but a blessing is on the head of him who sells it.
Here, Solomon is illustrating what generosity and greediness in 11:24-25 look like.
He who withholds grain, the people curse him: The Hebrew word (קָבַב qabab) rendered curse means to invoke divine harm or evil upon someone or something. It can also mean to speak poorly or badly about someone, the latter being meant here. These ones have bad things to say about the one withholding the grain. Hold back grain is a reference to the farmer or the merchant who purposely holds back his grain until the supplies are low; then, he raises prices. Grain (בַּר bar) is wheat but can generally refer to cereals or grass seeds that are eaten by people.
but a blessing is on the head of him who sells it: Blessing (בְּרָכָה berakah) most times refers to God blessing a human, which is pronouncing good or showing favor, having favorable circumstances or state at a future time (Gen. 1:22), for those who have a righteous standing before him. It can also mean when someone has good things to say about another. On the head here is a reference to the human head (ראֹשׁ rosh), which is being used figuratively to represent the whole person who is receiving the blessing. Sells it (שָׁבַר shabar) is the opposite of withholding it, which means this person delivers or exchanges (sells) his grain when the market is short, not waiting for prices to go up.
In those days of selling and exchanging, there was a sure way of making money quickly. They did so by buying up grain in times of scarcity (shortage) and then waiting until the need weighed heavily (three successive years of crop failure, crop yields of one-third or one-half normal, and large populations in distress), selling at famine prices. Famine included a rise in food prices above 140% of “normal,” the movement of people in search of food, and widespread mortality. Men hate selfish greed and will sing praises and bless the one who sells at a modest profit.
Solomon is giving us yet another example, contrasting what the righteous and the wicked do. The wicked or heartless, selfish persons who sell a commodity but will buy when it is priced low and will withhold it from the market until it is incredibly high; then, he will sell. There is some good to doing this at times to get prices where they need to be, but Solomon is talking about abusing the market, not working it to make favorable adjustments. The heartless, selfish person is hated by the people, who rightly speak abusively of him. However, the selfless person will not seek to make large profits and will sell in an emergency when prices are reasonable, even barely making a profit if the people direly need his commodity. Like during a natural disaster.