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Proverbs 18:17

Context

18:17 The first to state his case 1  seems 2  right,

until his opponent 3  begins to 4  cross-examine him. 5 

Proverbs 25:9

Context

25:9 When you argue a case 6  with your neighbor,

do not reveal the secret of another person, 7 

1 tn Heb “in his legal case”; NAB “who pleads his case first.”

2 tn The term “seems” does not appear in the Hebrew but is supplied in the translation for the sake of smoothness (cf. KJV “seemeth”).

3 tn Heb “his neighbor”; NRSV “the other.”

4 tn Heb “comes and.” The Kethib is the imperfect יָבֹא (yavo’), and the Qere is the conjunction with the participle/perfect tense form וּבָא (uva’). The latter is reflected in most of the ancient versions. There is not an appreciable difference in the translations, except for the use of the conjunction.

5 sn The proverb is a continuous sentence teaching that there must be cross-examination to settle legal disputes. There are two sides in any disputes, and so even though the first to present his case sounds right, it must be challenged. The verb הָקַר (haqar, translated “cross-examines”) is used for careful, diligent searching and investigating to know something (e.g., Ps 139:1).

6 tn The verse begins with the direct object רִיבְךָ (ribkha, “your case”) followed by the imperative from the same root, רִיב (riv, “argue”). It is paralleled by the negated Piel jussive. The construction of the clauses indicates that the first colon is foundational to the second: “Argue…but do not reveal,” or better, “When you argue…do not reveal.”

7 sn The concern is that in arguing with one person a secret about another might be divulged, perhaps deliberately in an attempt to clear oneself. The point then is about damaging a friendship by involving the friend without necessity or warrant in someone else’s quarrel.



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