What does the proverb mean that "a good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children"?

A Good Man Leaves an Inheritance to His Children’s Children?

A Good Man Leaves an Inheritance to His Children’s Children?

by Bill High

Proverbs 13.22 says, “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, but the sinner’s wealth is laid up for the righteous.”

What does this mean? Does it mean that an inheritance for grandchildren is mandated? I’ve seen some read and interpret this verse in that manner.

The verse must be read in a cultural context. In Jewish culture, inheritance was patrilineal, which means the inheritance passed to male children. Generally, the first born son would be entitled to a double portion of his father’s estate. The purpose of these inheritance laws was to allow for continuity of the family line. Wealth was viewed in the family. Thus, property was passed down to maintain the family.

However, the emphasis in Proverbs 13.22 is less about the mandate of inheritance and more about the quality of a person’s life. It is a “good man,” or a just man, compared to the sinner. Thus conceptually the idea is that a just and righteous man will have an overflowing life. His life will overflow for generations. On the other hand, the sinner—the unjust man—will not have such overflow.

Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible states it this way:

A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children… He not only has a sufficiency for the present support of himself and family; but is so prospered and succeeded, as to leave an inheritance after him; and which is continued to and enjoyed, not only by his immediate offspring, but theirs also; for being got honestly, it wears well.

The Bible Illustrator adds to this concept with the following explanation:

The happiness of men depends less on their external conditions than on their personal virtues. “A good man is satisfied from himself.” The effects of a man’s habits are transmitted to his children, and even to their descendants. They derive from his character a sufficient and a permanent inheritance.

The Illustrator points out that the good man provides instruction, an example of good character, and care and protection.

The idea of financial wealth is not the key idea and thus not the mandate. Indeed, financial wealth is a far easier inheritance to leave than a life of mercy, justice, and grace.



Photo by Isaac Quesada on Unsplash

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Published June 15, 2017

Topics: Family Legacy

Family WealthInheritance

Comments 6

  1. Can’t leave inheritance to my children if they have rejected me and are not serving the Lord. Don’t know what to do.

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    2. I hate when scripture is miss interpred. It is a great thing to teach your children to be great people with integrity ,compassion, patients, etc. But ultimately it is the decision of the child to fulfill this it’s called free will. The wealth of sinners is not those things. I’ve been in hard core jails and many of those in there have only money ,property and physical wealth and that’s all they’ll ever have. If there portion is mine and that’s all they can give then this verse speaks of not good characters. One thing to remember is from total abundance the world was created with total abundance and we are here to learn how to tap into total abundance because we are a extension of Him and we leave this earth to go to total abundance. Study the value of product Jesus was given by the 3 wise men and you’ll realize he was worth. Many hundreds of millions in todays monetary system and no where does it say he gave it all away.

  2. Yes, you are correct here. A good man will always leave an inheritance to his children’s children, and if you are not a good man, you won’t do this. It’s as simple as that. Most people will agree with me here.

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