Verse 6: And (Prov. 16:27) the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that (Matt. 15:11, 18-20; Mark 7:15, 20, 23) it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course (Gr. wheel) of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.
[And, etc., καὶ ἡ γλῶσσα πῦρ, ὁ κόσμος, etc.] And (either, indeed, or, so also: καὶ/and in the place of οὕτω καὶ, so also: For the apodosis of the preceding similitude is continued here [Piscator]) the tongue (understanding is [Beza, Piscator, etc.]) a fire (by the comparison already mentioned [Estius], similar to fir [Piscator], on account of its extraordinary swiftness in doing grievous harm [Menochius], unless it be kept with circumspection; that is to say, it is the cause of evils and tumults great and many [Estius]: understand here, and [Beza, Piscator]) a world (or, a universe [Vulgate], a heap and mass [Beza, Erasmus, Zegers], a repository [Vatablus], the fount and mother [Castalio], a thing altogether full: So we say, malorum Ilias, an Iliad of evils [Piscator], and an Ocean of sins [Castalio]) of iniquity (Piscator, etc.), or, of sins (Castalio). Evidently causatively, because it begets sins of every kind, either by perpetration, like detractions, curses, perjuries; or by direction, persuasion, etc.; or by supplying the occasions and instigations, like intoxications, fornications, murders, etc. (Estius): it kindles the flames of hatreds, discords, seditions, wars. The deceitful tongue is compares to burning coals, Psalm 120:3, 4. Burning fire is in the lips of him, that is, of the wicked man (Grotius). Others: And the tongue is a fire, and a world of sin, even as it is kindling (Tremellius out of the Syriac). Either the Syriac states the Ellipsis from the Antithesis, which Ellipsis he industriously supplies out of the preceding verse or reads, καὶ ὁ κόσμος τῆς ἀδικίας ὕλη, a world of iniquity, wood (Tirinus, Junius). Or rather he read, and indeed optimally, ἡ γλῶσσα πῦρ τῷ κόσμῳ τῆς ἀδικίας, etc., the tongue is a fire to the world of iniquity, etc. The tongue is wont to be compared to Fire. And so the translator of Ecclesiasticus, explaining the comparison just now mentioned, says, Just as a small fire consumes many heaps of crops, so there is nothing more devastating to the world than an evil tongue. You see here also that world is put in the place of material that fire burns (Grotius). The Syriac maintains that there is a twofold comparison here, 1. of the tongue with a small fire: 2. of the world of sin with branches, that is, with wood or fuel; so that, just as fire ignites and consumes wood, so also the tongue a world of sin, that is, it ignites and burns this present age, corrupt and inclined to all vices, like dry kindling (Estius).
And, etc.: The application of the similitude in the foregoing words. The tongue is a fire, i.e. hath the force of fire, and resembles it in the mischief it doth. A world of iniquity; a heap or aggregation of evils, (as the natural world is an aggregation of many several beings,) as we say, an ocean, or a world, of troubles, meaning, a great multitude of them. And the words may be understood, earlier with an ellipsis of the word matter, expressed just before, and supplied here; and the pointing a little altered, they may be thus read, And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity (or an unrighteous world, viz. which lies in wickedness, 1 John 5:19) is the matter, namely, which it inflames. A wicked world is fit fuel for a wicked tongue, and soon catcheth the fire which it kindles. Or rather, as they stand plainly, without any such defect: The tongue is a world of iniquity, i.e. a heap or mass of various sorts of sins; though it be but a little piece of flesh, yet it contains a whole world of wickedness in it, or is as full of evils as the world is of bodies.
[The tongue, etc., οὕτως—καθίσταται, etc.] Thus (understanding, I say [Beza, Piscator]) the tongue is constituted (or, is ordered [Beza, Piscator], that is, is placed [Beza]: is existing [Tremellius out of the Syriac], stands [Arabic], is [Castalio]) in our members (Montanus, etc.), or, among our members (Beza, Piscator). It is one of such a large number of members, and indeed very small, and yet it brings to pass such great things, just like a Bridle, a Helm, a Flame. See Euripides [in Grotius]. There is a proverb, from a spark, fire (Grotius).
[Which defiles (that is, which infects with vices [Estius, similarly Menochius): σπιλοῦν is to defile, Wisdom of Solomon 15:4; Jude 23, מכתם in the Syriac; σπίλωμα also is used of any filthy matter, Isaiah 28:8: When it is transferred to the Soul, it signifies to infect with vices, very much like μιαίνειν, Hebrews 12:15 [Grotius]) the whole body] That is, the whole man (Menochius, Tirinus), and all his actions (Tirinus): or, the whole society of the Church, the kingdom, etc. (Hammond). The mouth pollutes the flesh, Ecclesiastes 5:6, namely, when it is come from flatteries to adulteries. But here σῶμα/body is more rightly taken for the body of the Church, which by the tongue of one and another is often driven into most grievous dissensions (Grotius).
It defileth the whole body; infecteth the whole man with sin, Ecclesiastes 5:6, as being the cause of sin committed by all the members of the body; for though sin begin in the soul, yet it is executed by the body, which therefore seems here put (as James 3:2) for the man.
[And, etc., καὶ φλογίζουσα τὸν τροχὸν τῆς γενέσεως] I think that it is to be written τρόχον. The books of those times did not have accents, which afterwards each added according to his own will (Grotius). Setting on fire (that is, as if ravaging with fire [Estius], bringing into danger, or burning with many annoyances, as millstones set fire to the entire mill-house, when then catch fire due to excessive motion [Vatablus]: φλογίζειν, חֲרַךְ, to singe or char, in Daniel 3:27, לָהַט, to set ablaze, in Psalm 97:3: in Hesychius, καίειν, to kindle [Grotius]) the wheel (or, circuit [Vorstius], course [Castalio], circle [Arabic, Illyricus, Pagnine, Castalio]) of nativity (Montanus, Erasmus, Tigurinus, Piscator, Vatablus), or, of geniture (Beza, Pagnine), of time (Castalio), or, established (Illyricus, Pagnine), or, of nature (Arabic), understanding our (Arabic, Vatablus), that is, the wheel born, begotten, not made. He understands [either] the entire body, which is the vehicle of the soul; or, the whole man (Vatablus): or, the whole course of our life (Estius, similarly Menochius, Tirinus, Castalio), the period and, as it were, circle (Menochius), which, after the likeness of a wheel, is perpetually turned from birth to death (Tirinus, thus Estius). Γένεσις/genesis properly means nativity, or origin: but in this place it is put for the lifetime of a man, just as the Hebrews call men children, or sons (Castalio). Γένεσις signifies actions, activities, events: see on Matthew 1:1. Τρόχος is a wheel, by the rotation of which the Hebrews express worldly affairs, as in Buxtorf’s Epistolary Instruction, Epistle 1. Therefore, τρόχος γενέσεως signifies the circle, or succession, of affairs, that is, of men or mankind; and the kindling of this denotes the same thing as the kindling of the world in the beginning of the verse (Hammond). Γένεσις/genesis is nature, as we said on James 1:23. The course of nature is a periphrasis of life. Varro, Fortune does not permit to anyone an unhindered course, sent forth from the inmost prison, through a clear plain, unto the goal. Thus also the Old Man, βίου καμπτὴρ, the lap of life, in Herodas’ Mime-iambics. Such also is that, I have lived, and I have finished the course that fortune has given (Grotius). [Others thus render it:] It sets on fire the goings forth of our generations (or, the successions of our genealogies [Syriac (in Boder)]), which run like wheels (Tremellius out of the Syriac).
And setteth on fire the course of nature; or, setteth on fire the wheel of geniture, or nativity, (in allusion to a wheel set on fire by a violent, rapid motion,) meaning the course of nativity, i.e. the natural course of life, as the face of nativity or geniture, James 1:23, for the natural face: the sense is, it inflames with various lusts, wrath, malice, wantonness, pride, etc., the whole course of man’s life, so that there is no state nor age free from the evils of it. Whereas other vices either do not extend to the whole man, or are abated with age, or worn away with length of time; the vices of the tongue reach the whole man, and the whole time of his life.
[It is set on fire of Gehenna] That is, by infernal fire (Estius, similarly Menochius); or, by the devil (Estius, Piscator, Menochius), who is so called, either, through Metonymy of place for the thing placed, because this is his seat and hall; or, because he always carries about hellish punishment (Estius): or, by fire (the Arabic in Grotius): see Daniel 7:9. The Present here is put in the place of the Future, unless it is to be written φλογισομένη, as the Syriac appears to have read it. Just as it sets on fire, so also it is itself, that is, with the body, the fire of Gehenna. The sense is the same as Matthew 5:22; see also Matthew 18:9; Mark 9:47 (Grotius). An ill tongue is the instrument of the devil (Estius).
And it is set on fire of hell; i.e. by the devil, the father of lies and slanders, and other tongue sins, Job 1:10; John 8:44; Revelation 12:10; the tongue being the fire, the devil, by the bellows of temptations, inflames it yet more, and thereby kindles the fire of all mischiefs in the world.
 Greek: καὶ ἡ γλῶσσα πῦρ, ὁ κόσμος τῆς ἀδικίας· οὕτως ἡ γλῶσσα καθίσταται ἐν τοῖς μέλεσιν ἡμῶν, ἡ σπιλοῦσα ὅλον τὸ σῶμα, καὶ φλογίζουσα τὸν τροχὸν τῆς γενέσεως, καὶ φλογιζομένη ὑπὸ τῆς γεέννης.
 Greek: τροχὸν.
 Proverbs 16:27.
 Wisdom of Solomon 15:4: “For neither did the mischievous invention of men deceive us, nor an image spotted (σπιλωθὲν) with divers colours, the painter’s fruitless labour…”
 Jude 23: “And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted (ἐσπιλωμένον) by the flesh.”
 Hebrews 12:15: “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled (μιανθῶσιν)…”
 Daniel 3:37: “And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed (הִתְחָרַךְ; ἐφλογίσθη, in Theodotion), neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.”
 Psalm 97:3: “A fire goeth before him, and burneth up (וּתְלַהֵט; καὶ φλογιεῖ, in the Septuagint) his enemies round about.”
 That is, the established circuit.
 Matthew 1:1: “The book of the generation (γενέσεως) of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.”
 John Buxtorf the Elder (1599-1664) labored as Professor of Oriental languages at Calvinistic Basel. His scholarship in Hebrew and Rabbinic learning was such that he was known as Master of the Rabbis.
 Institutio Epistolaris Hebraica.
 James 1:23: “For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face (τὸ πρόσωπον τῆς γενέσεως αὐτοῦ) in a glass…”
 Marcus Terentius Varro, or Varro Reatinus (116-27 BC), was a scholar, called “the most learned of the Romans”.
 Saturæ Menippeæ 52.
 Herodas (third century BC) was a Greek poet. Probably written in Alexandria, his poems were intended to capture popular life in verse.
 Virgil’s Æneid 4:653, 654.
 Daniel 7:9: “I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire (ὁ θρόνος αὐτοῦ φλὸξ πυρός οἱ τροχοὶ αὐτοῦ πῦρ φλέγον, in Theodotion).”
 Matthew 5:22: “But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire (τὴν γέενναν τοῦ πυρός).”
 Matthew 18:9: “And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire (εἰς τὴν γέενναν τοῦ πυρός).” Thus also Mark 9:47.