19:5 A false witness 1 will not go unpunished,
and the one who spouts out 2 lies will not escape punishment. 3
19:28 A crooked witness 4 scorns justice,
and the mouth of the wicked devours 5 iniquity.
1 tn Heb “a witness of lies.” This expression is an attributive genitive: “a lying witness” (cf. CEV “dishonest witnesses”). This is paralleled by “the one who pours out lies.”
2 tn Heb “breathes out”; NAB “utters”; NIV “pours out.”
3 tn Heb “will not escape” (so NAB, NASB); NIV “will not go free.” Here “punishment” is implied, and has been supplied in the translation for clarity.
sn This proverb is a general statement, because on occasion there are false witnesses who go unpunished in this life (e.g., Prov 6:19; 14:5, 25; 19:9). The Talmud affirms, “False witnesses are contemptible even to those who hire them” (b. Sanhedrin 29b).
4 tn Heb “a witness who is worthless and wicked” (עֵד בְּלִיַּעַל, ’ed beliyya’al). Cf. KJV “an ungodly witness”; NAB “an unprincipled witness”; NCV “an evil witness”; NASB “a rascally witness.”
sn These are crooked or corrupt witnesses who willfully distort the facts and make a mockery of the whole legal process.
5 tn The parallel line says the mouth of the wicked “gulps down” or “swallows” (יְבַלַּע, yÿvala’) iniquity. The verb does not seem to fit the line (or the proverb) very well. Some have emended the text to יַבִּיעַ (yavia’, “gushes”) as in 15:28 (cf. NAB “pours out”). Driver followed an Arabic balaga to get “enunciates,” which works well with the idea of a false witness (W. McKane, Proverbs [OTL], 529). As it stands, however, the line indicates that in what he says the wicked person accepts evil – and that could describe a false witness.