Please Help Us Keep These Thousands of Blog Posts Growing and Free for All
For the sun rises with a scorching wind, and withers the grass; and its flower falls, and its beauty perishes; (James1:11a)
James, in this one verse, uses four gnomic aorists verbs. The gnomic aorist is used to describe universal or timeless truths. First, the sun rises (ἀνατέλλω anatellō) with a scorching wind (καύσων kausōn). The term used here refers to the effects after a dry spell and extreme heat and wind of the blazing, searing sun, which can destroy plants capable of enduring difficult conditions, let alone luxuriant vegetation. The scorching wind withers (ξηραίνω xērainō) the flowering grass (χόρτος chortos), that is, removes its moisture and makes it dry so that its flowers will fade quickly, dropping, and fall (ἐκπίπτω ekpiptō) from its stem in such scorching wind. The Greek term for fall (ἐκπίπτω ekpiptō) has the sense of suffering defeat, failure or ruin. And thus, its beauty perishes (ἀπόλλυμι apollumi). The Greek literally reads, “the face of it destroyed itself” or rather “the beauty of its face is destroyed.” “Face” (πρόσωπον prosōpon) is a characteristic feature of the Semitic language (Semitism) occurring in the Greek language, meaning “appearance.” “Face” (πρόσωπον prosōpon) is in the genitive case, which seems to be attributed, giving us “beautiful appearance.” So the rich man will fade away quickly in his ways. That is his glory, and all on which he prides himself will perish (ἀπόλλυμι apollumi), precisely, go out of existence, complete destruction.
So, James is adding a further illustration to expound his position, writing the sun rises with a scorching wind and withers the grass. James uses a concept that the Jewish believers would have been familiar with in the Palestinian landscape. The flowers in Palestine were abundant and beautiful, yet when the scorching wind from the sun would hit them, they withered, and the flower fell, and beauty perished in just a short amount of time. James uses this illustration to point out the uselessness of putting one’s hope in riches because of insecurity. The wealth may seem to be a security to the man who has an excessive abundance of money, and it may look good, but who knows when the scorching heat of life, death, disease, destruction comes, and the riches are destroyed. (Compare Ps. 49:6-9; Matt. 6:27.) The rich man has no more control over his wealth and what may happen to it than does the flower that is scorched by the searing hot sun. As quickly as the man may have received his riches, they could be taken away. Solomon wrote, “Do not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist. When your eyes light on it, it is gone, for it will surely sprout wings like an eagle, and fly off into the sky.” – Proverbs 23:4-5.
 “The Attributed Genitive a. Definition: This is just the opposite, semantically, of the attributive genitive. The head noun, rather than the genitive, is functioning (in sense) as an attributive adjective. Although rarer than the attributive genitive, this is not altogether uncommon.” – Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics – Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament (Zondervan Publishing House and Galaxie Software, 1996), 89.