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Proverbs 13:3

Context

13:3 The one who guards his words 1  guards his life,

but 2  whoever is talkative 3  will come to ruin. 4 

Proverbs 18:21

Context

18:21 Death and life are in the power 5  of the tongue, 6 

and those who love its use 7  will eat its fruit.

1 tn Heb “mouth” (so KJV, NAB). The term פֶּה (peh, “mouth”) functions as a metonymy of cause for speech.

2 tn The term “but” does not appear in the Hebrew but is supplied in the translation for the sake of clarity and smoothness.

3 tn Heb “opens wide his lips.” This is an idiom meaning “to be talkative” (BDB 832 s.v. פָּשַׂק Qal). Cf. NIV “speaks rashly”; TEV “a careless talker”; CEV “talk too much.”

4 sn Tight control over what one says prevents trouble (e.g., Prov 10:10; 17:28; Jas 3:1-12; Sir 28:25). Amenemope advises to “sleep a night before speaking” (5:15; ANET 422, n. 10). The old Arab proverb is appropriate: “Take heed that your tongue does not cut your throat” (O. Zockler, Proverbs, 134).

5 tn Heb “in the hand of.”

6 sn What people say can lead to life or death. The Midrash on Psalms shows one way the tongue [what is said] can cause death: “The evil tongue slays three, the slanderer, the slandered, and the listener” (Midrash Tehillim 52:2). See J. G. Williams, “The Power of Form: A Study of Biblical Proverbs,” Semeia 17 (1980): 35-38.

7 tn The referent of “it” must be the tongue, i.e., what the tongue says (= “its use”). So those who enjoy talking, indulging in it, must “eat” its fruit, whether good or bad. The expression “eating the fruit” is an implied comparison; it means accept the consequences of loving to talk (cf. TEV).



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