Among verses in Proverbs this has to be one of the stranger ones. Because this passage has no real pointer within it except the fact that it speaks of a specific kind of leech whose daughters are insatiable, it is one of those verses that has a myriad of explanations by commentators. These explanations range from the two daughters being death and hell, heaven and hell, as well as a myriad of negative character traits all focusing on greed in its various forms. So how do you come to any kind of secure conclusion about a verse like this? Let's take a look and see if we can discern anything from looking at this very strange verse in Proverbs.
First of all, when a passage itself does not immediately release its meaning - it can be very dangerous. That is because too many people will begin allegorizing it quickly. You will have people saying that these two sisters are anything and everything under the sun. But when a verse does not yield immediate clarity - we MUST turn to the context to better understand it.
Let's start with what we do know. The being spoken of here is a leech - and more specifically, a horseleach. This is a blood sucking creature that actually has a two lipped appearance. It is through these two lips that the leech sucks the blood out of its victims. Because the horseleach has these two sucking mechanisms - it is known for having an insatiable appetite for a large amount of blood. That might account for the reason that the passage speaks of the leech having two daughters. But we come again to what all this means?
What is the context of this passage. The previous verses, 12 through 14, are a unit in themselves - and verse 15 does not really fit with them. These verses spoke of the arrogance and pride of various individuals - and how their arrogance make their mouths very dangerous. But when you look at verse 15 in the context of the next set of verses - it fits quite well. These verses deal with things that are unsatiable - that won't ever say, "enough." The next piece of the puzzle is found when we see that verse 15 speaks of two things - then of three, and ends with a comment in verse 16 that says there are even four things that will not be satisified or say enough. Verse 16 then gives us what those four things are.
So what does this context say to us - or help us to see about this horseleach? When I took time to seriously look at what Solomon was saying, I think that the horseleach was being referred to by his physical characteristics - as an example of the first number (2 things) that are insatiable. It is part of the buildup that Solomon is giving to get to the number four. Solomon is using a verbal tactic or a rhetorical device to make his argument more powerful. He is saying that there are two - no three - no four things that will not say enough.
Therefore - the leech spoken of here is not a two-pronged greedy set of things - like death and hell or greed and avarice - or like the most ridiculous commentator suggested - a vampire! The leech is an example of something (here I believe the two-lipped or two-suckered opening that sucks blood - and that according to Solomon is saying always, "Give, Give!" Beyond that example out of nature - Solomon is most likely saying nothing else. He moves on in the very next statement to count to three then four - and makes it clear that he speaks of things that will not say enough. He speaks of these four things before the next verse is over.
What this passage does help us to see is the danger of just haphazardly taking verses or parts of them that don't seem to have any clear meaning - and assigning them things that we just figure they must be. I've even heard some use this verse to speak derrogatorily of daugnters - saying that they are like blood-sucking leeches who are constantly taking money from daddy - and who never say, enough. Again, here is the dagner in all this. What we don't clearly understand - we need to submit to further scrutiny and a searching out of the text and context. This will usually yield a blessing in the end. Here - it yields the use of a rhetorical device - not a secret two-fold code concerning things we are left to guess about in the end.
But what about wisdom? This passage is saying to us that we should see that this life and this world are never satisfied. Whether it is "sheol" (which is the place of the dead -or death itself) or a barren womb (which is never satisfied until there is a baby on the way - even one born to the barren woman) of the earth that is never satisfied with the water rained upon it, or a fire that consumes everything it can get - never being satisfied with what it has burned - we are facing the fact that this present world never gets enough. If we are wise - we will follow Solomon's reasoning - and see that not having satisfaction is kinda normal in this world. The Rolling Stones were quasi-prophetic when they sang, "I Can't Get No, Satisfaction, even though they were terrible grammarians. Wisdom tells us to be careful about our desires and unmet wants. Wisdom tells us that this world is saying something to us about our dissatisfaction. This world is not right - and it cannot satisfy us. In the end - satisfaction will have to be found "outside" this existence. We are not told where we can get this satisfaction here - just that nature and life should tell us not to expect all that much of it from this present life and this present world. What we learn from the rest of the testimony of Scripture is that this IS a problem - and it is only satisfied when we come to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. Only He can bring us fullness.
I guess the proper way to close this particular post is to say that maybe there is a fifth thing that never says enough. That would be commentators who take passages like this and make them say something that neither the meaning of the words in the verse - nor the verse as a whole in its context actually means.