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Proverbs: Chapter 26

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Text view alone


Like snow in summer or rain in harvest, so honor is not fitting for a fool. 2 Like a sparrow in its flitting, like a swallow in its flying, an undeserved curse goes nowhere. 3 A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey, and a rod for the back of fools. 4 Do not answer fools according to their folly, or you will be a fool yourself. 5 Answer fools according to their folly, or they will be wise in their own eyes. 6 It is like cutting off one's foot and drinking down violence, to send a message by a fool. 7 The legs of a disabled person hang limp; so does a proverb in the mouth of a fool. 8 It is like binding a stone in a sling to give honor to a fool. 9 Like a thornbush brandished by the hand of a drunkard is a proverb in the mouth of a fool. 10 Like an archer who wounds everybody is one who hires a passing fool or drunkard. a Gk: Heb Like one who takes off a garment on a cold day, like vinegar on lye 11 Like a dog that returns to its vomit is a fool who reverts to his folly. 12 Do you see persons wise in their own eyes? There is more hope for fools than for them. 13 The lazy person says, “There is a lion in the road! There is a lion in the streets!” 14 As a door turns on its hinges, so does a lazy person in bed. 15 The lazy person buries a hand in the dish, and is too tired to bring it back to the mouth. 16 The lazy person is wiser in self‐esteem than seven who can answer discreetly. 17 Like somebody who takes a passing dog by the ears is one who meddles in the quarrel of another. 18 Like a maniac who shoots deadly firebrands and arrows, 19 so is one who deceives a neighbor and says, “I am only joking!” 20 For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases. 21 As charcoal is to hot embers and wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome person for kindling strife. 22 The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body. 23 Like the glaze b Gk Syr Tg: Heb lacks Like a moth … human heart covering an earthen vessel are smooth c Meaning of Heb uncertain lips with an evil heart. 24 An enemy dissembles in speaking while harboring deceit within; 25 when an enemy speaks graciously, do not believe it, for there are seven abominations concealed within; 26 though hatred is covered with guile, the enemy's wickedness will be exposed in the assembly. 27 Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, and a stone will come back on the one who starts it rolling. 28 A lying tongue hates its victims, and a flattering mouth works ruin.


b Gk: Heb Like one who takes off a garment on a cold day, like vinegar on lye

c Gk Syr Tg: Heb lacks Like a moth … human heart

a Meaning of Heb uncertain

Text Commentary view alone

25.1–29.27 : Another sayings collection.

25.1 ::

Officials of King Hezekiah are scribes of this famous king of Judah in the late eighth to early seventh century BCE; copied probably refers to the editing and arranging of sayings. 2–3: Like God, the king questions but cannot be questioned.

4–5 :

For the metaphor of refining metals, see also 27.21–22 .

6–7 :

See Sir 7.4; 13.10 .

7c–10 :

A caution against rash accusations. Shame, See 5.14n.

11 :

A goal of the sages: right and timely expressions (cf. 15.23 ).

15b :

A “fitly spoken” paradox (cf. 15.4; Sir 28.17–18 ).

18 :

See 19.5n.

21–22 :

Coals of fire, in an Egyptian ritual perhaps known to the biblical sages, submitting to coals on the head demonstrated contrition. The sense here seems to be that undeserved kindness awakens the remorse and hence conversion of the enemies; cf. 24.17–18 .

24 :

See 21.9.

26 :

Muddied spring, the comparison is to livestock trampling and otherwise fouling the clear water.

26.1–12 : Concerning fools and their folly.

4–5 :

Juxtaposing the two sayings provokes reflection on their competing claims. Depending on the circumstances, one might interpret according to their folly to mean “in fools’ terms” (v. 4 ) or “as fools deserve” (v. 5 ).

7 :

A fool is by definition unable to benefit from a proverb.

8 :

The sling is used to hurl objects; to fasten a stone defeats the purpose.

9 :

The expression may indicate uselessness (cf. vv. 7–8 ), or the use of a proverb in a hurtful way.

13–16 :

The lazy person.

13 :

A ridiculous excuse; a lion is not likely to appear in the city streets and squares (cf. 22.13 ).

15 :

See 19.24n.

17–28 :

A loose collection on the consequences of various forms of antisocial speech and behavior.

22 :

See 18.8n.

27 :

A kind of “poetic justice” (cf. Ps 7.15; Eccl 10.8; Sir 27.25–27 ).

27.4 :

Who is able? A rhetorical question, implying the answer, “no one” (cf. 18.14 ).

6 :

Profuse, false, in contrast to well meant discipline imposed by a friend.

7b :

A paradox, as in 25.15b .

10 :

Line b is explained by lines c–d.

13 :

see 6.1–5 .

14 :

The proper or improper timing of an act significantly determines its nature; see Eccl 3.1–8 .

15–16 :

See 19.13–14n.

20 :

For Sheol and Abaddon, See 15.11n.

21 :

Cf. 17.3 , where it is the LORD who tests.

23–27 :

This short poem can be read as practical advice on tending flocks and herds (see 12.10; Sir 7.22 ). In light, however, of the crown mentioned in v. 24 and the widespread ancient image of the king as shepherd (e.g., 1 Kings 22.17; Ps 23.1; Isa 44.28 ), it may also contain implicit royal advice.

28.3 :

Rain that leaves no food, when grain is ripe for harvest, a hard rain can ruin the crop (cf. 26.1 ).

4 :

The law, Heb “torah” (cf. vv. 7,9; 29.18 ), the term can designate both the sage's teaching (e.g., 3.1 ), and the LORD's revealed law, or Torah.

5 :

See 29.7n.

8 :

By the principle of retribution, the oppressor should not be allowed to profit (cf. 13.22; 14.31; 19.17; Ex 22.25 ).

14 :

For the form of the saying, See 3.13n.

21 :

For a piece of bread, bribery is at issue here (cf. 18.5; 24.23b ).

29.7 :

See 28.5 . Wisdom literature often associates evil with a failure to perceive the true nature of things.

9 :

With fools, it is impossible to conduct a reasonable dispute (see 26.4 ).

13 :

Cf. 22.2 .

18 :

Prophecy, lit. vision (see 1 Sam 3.1); law, See 28.4n.

24 :

Partner of a thief, not an actual accomplice, but someone with knowledge of the crime who discloses nothing (see Lev 5.1 ).

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