14:29 The one who is slow to anger has great understanding,
but if you deliver him from it once, you will have to do it again. 22
and do not associate with a wrathful person,
and entangle yourself in a snare. 30
but those who are wise turn away wrath.
and as punching the nose produces blood,
1 tn Heb “The fool, at once his vexation is known.” This rhetorically emphatic construction uses an independent nominative absolute, which is then followed by the formal subject with a suffix. The construction focuses attention on “the fool,” then states what is to be said about him.
2 tn Heb “on the day” or “the same day.”
sn The fool is impatient and unwise, and so flares up immediately when anything bothers him. W. McKane says that the fool’s reaction is “like an injured animal and so his opponent knows that he has been wounded” (Proverbs [OTL], 442).
3 tn Heb “shrewd.”
4 tn Heb “covers.” The verb כָּסָה (casah) means “covers” in the sense of ignores or bides his time. The point is not that he does not respond at all, but that he is shrewd enough to handle the criticism or insult in the best way – not instinctively and irrationally.
5 sn The proverb discusses two character traits that are distasteful to others – the quick tempered person (“short of anger” or impatient) and the crafty person (“man of devices”). C. H. Toy thinks that the proverb is antithetical and renders it “but a wise man endures” (Proverbs [ICC], 292). In other words, the quick-tempered person acts foolishly and loses people’s respect, but the wise man does not.
6 tn Heb “a man of devices.”
7 tc The LXX reads “endures” (from נָשָׂא, nasa’) rather than “is hated” (from שָׂנֵא, sane’). This change seems to have arisen on the assumption that a contrast was needed. It has: “a man of thought endures.” Other versions take מְזִמּוֹת (mÿzimmot) in a good sense; but antithetical parallelism is unwarranted here.
8 tn Heb “hasty of spirit” (so KJV, ASV); NRSV, NLT “a hasty temper.” One who has a quick temper or a short fuse will be evident to everyone, due to his rash actions.
9 sn The participle “exalts” (מֵרִים, merim) means that this person brings folly to a full measure, lifts it up, brings it to the full notice of everybody.
10 tn Heb “soft answer.” The adjective רַּךְ (rakh, “soft; tender; gentle”; BDB 940 s.v.) is more than a mild response; it is conciliatory, an answer that restores good temper and reasonableness (W. McKane, Proverbs [OTL], 477). Gideon illustrates this kind of answer (Judg 8:1-3) that brings peace.
11 tn Heb “word of harshness”; KJV “grievous words.” The noun עֶצֶב (’etsev, “pain, hurt”) functions as an attributive genitive. The term עֶצֶב refers to something that causes pain (BDB 780 s.v. I עֶצֶב). For example, Jephthah’s harsh answer led to war (Judg 12:1-6).
12 tn Heb “raises anger.” A common response to painful words is to let one’s temper flare up.
13 tn Heb “a man of wrath”; KJV, ASV “a wrathful man.” The term “wrath” functions as an attributive genitive: “an angry person.” He is contrasted with the “slow of anger,” so he is a “quick-tempered person” (cf. NLT “a hothead”).
14 tn Heb “slow of anger.” The noun “anger” functions as a genitive of specification: slow in reference to anger, that is, slow to get angry, patient.
15 tn The Hiphil verb יַשְׁקִיט (yashqit) means “to cause quietness; to pacify; to allay” the strife or quarrel (cf. NAB “allays discord”). This type of person goes out of his way to keep things calm and minimize contention; his opposite thrives on disagreement and dispute.
16 sn The fact that רִיב (riv) is used for “quarrel; strife” strongly implies that the setting is the courtroom or other legal setting (the gates of the city). The hot-headed person is eager to turn every disagreement into a legal case.
17 tn Or “prudence,” the successful use of wisdom in discretion. Cf. NAB, NRSV, NLT “good sense.”
18 tn The Hiphil perfect of אָרַךְ (’arakh, “to be long”) means “to make long; to prolong.” Patience and slowness to anger lead to forgiveness of sins.
19 sn “Glory” signifies the idea of beauty or adornment. D. Kidner explains that such patience “brings out here the glowing colours of a virtue which in practice may look drably unassertive” (Proverbs [TOTC], 133).
20 tn Heb “to pass over” (so KJV, ASV); NCV, TEV “ignore.” The infinitive construct עֲבֹר (’avor) functions as the formal subject of the sentence. This clause provides the cause, whereas the former gave the effect – if one can pass over an offense there will be no anger.
sn W. McKane says, “The virtue which is indicated here is more than a forgiving temper; it includes also the ability to shrug off insults and the absence of a brooding hypersensitivity…. It contains elements of toughness and self-discipline; it is the capacity to stifle a hot, emotional rejoinder and to sleep on an insult” (Proverbs [OTL], 530).
21 sn The Hebrew word means “indemnity, fine”; this suggests that the trouble could be legal, and the angry person has to pay for it.
22 tn The second colon of the verse is very difficult, and there have been many proposals as to its meaning: (1) “If you save [your enemy], you will add [good to yourself]”; (2) “If you save [your son by chastening], you may continue [chastisement and so educate him]”; (3) “If you deliver [him by paying the fine for him once], you will have to do it again”; (4) “If you save [him this time], you will have to increase [the punishment later on].” All interpretations have to supply a considerable amount of material (indicated by brackets). Many English versions are similar to (3).
23 sn The synonymous parallelism joins the more neutral term “gift” with the more specific “bribe.” D. Kidner notes that this underscores how hard it is to tell the difference between them, especially since they accomplish similar things (Proverbs [TOTC], 143).
24 tn The word כָּפָה (kafah) occurs only here; it means “to subdue,” but in New Hebrew it means “to overturn; to compel.” The BHS editors suggest a change to כָּבָה (kavah), “to be quenched,” based on Symmachus and Tg. Prov 21:14, but there is no substantial improvement in the text’s meaning with such a change.
25 tn Heb “a bribe in the bosom” (so NASB). This refers to a gift hidden in the folds of the garment, i.e., given secretly (cf. NIV “a bribe concealed in the cloak”).
26 tn The repetition of the term “subdues” in the second line is supplied in the translation.
27 tc The LXX offers a moralizing translation not too closely tied to the MT: “he who withholds a gift stirs up violent wrath.”
28 tn Heb “possessor of anger.” This expression is an idiom for “wrathful person” or “an angry person” (cf. NAB “a hotheaded man”; NLT “short-tempered people”). These are people characterized by anger, meaning the anger is not a rare occurrence with them.
29 tn The verb פֶּן־תֶּאֱלַף (pen-te’elaf) is translated “lest you learn.” The idea is more precisely “become familiar with his ways.” The construction indicates that if one associates with such people he will become like them (cf. TEV “you might learn their habits”).
31 tn Heb “men of scorn”; NAB “Arrogant men”; ASV, NRSV “Scoffers”; NIV, NLT “Mockers.”
32 tn The verb means “to blow; to breathe” (BDB 806 s.v. פּוּחַ). In the Hiphil imperfect its meaning here is “to excite; to inflame” a city, as in blowing up a flame or kindling a fire. It is also used with “words” in 6:19 and 12:17 – they “puff out words.” Such scornful people make dangerous situations worse, whereas the wise calm things down (e.g., 2 Sam 20).
33 tn The term “city” is a metonymy of subject; it refers to the people in the city who can easily be set in an uproar by such scornful people.
34 tn Heb “a man of anger.” Here “anger” is an attributive (“an angry man”). This expression describes one given to or characterized by anger, not merely temporarily angry. The same is true of the next description.
35 tn Heb “possessor of wrath.” Here “wrath” is an attributive (cf. ASV “a wrathful man”; KJV “a furious man”).
36 tn Heb “an abundance of transgression.” The phrase means “abounding in transgression” (BDB 913 s.v. רַב 1.d]). Not only does the angry person stir up dissension, but he also frequently causes sin in himself and in others (e.g., 14:17, 29; 15:18; 16:32; 22:24).
37 tn This line provides the explanation for the instruction to keep silent in the previous verse. It uses two images to make the point, and in so doing repeats two words throughout. The first is the word מִיץ (mits), which is translated (in sequence) “churning,” “punching,” and “stirring up.” The form is a noun, and BDB 568 s.v. suggests translating it as “squeezing” in all three places, even in the last where it describes the pressure or the insistence on strife. This noun occurs only here. The second repeated word, the verb יוֹצִיא (yotsir), also occurs three times; it is the Hiphil imperfect, meaning “produces” (i.e., causes to go out).
38 sn There is a subtle wordplay here with the word for anger: It is related to the word for nose in the preceding colon.
39 sn The analogy indicates that continuously pressing certain things will yield results, some good, some bad. So pressing anger produces strife. The proverb advises people to strive for peace and harmony through humility and righteousness. To do that will require “letting up” on anger.