11:12 The one who denounces 1 his neighbor lacks wisdom, 2
but the one who has discernment 3 keeps silent. 4
11:13 The one who goes about slandering others 5 reveals 6 secrets,
but the one who is trustworthy 7 conceals a matter.
11:14 When there is no guidance 8 a nation falls,
but there is success 9 in the abundance of counselors.
1 tn Heb “despises” (so NASB) or “belittles” (so NRSV). The participle בָּז (baz, from בּוּז, buz) means “to despise; to show contempt for” someone. It reflects an attitude of pride and judgmentalism. In view of the parallel line, in this situation it would reflect perhaps some public denunciation of another person.
sn According to Proverbs (and the Bible as a whole) how one treats a neighbor is an important part of righteousness. One was expected to be a good neighbor, and to protect and safeguard the life and reputation of a neighbor.
2 tn Heb “heart.” The noun לֵב (lev, “heart”) functions as a metonymy of association for wisdom, since the heart is often associated with knowledge and wisdom (BDB 524 s.v. 3.a).
3 tn Heb “a man of discernment.”
4 sn The verb translated “keeps silence” (יַחֲרִישׁ, yakharish) means “holds his peace.” Rather than publicly denouncing another person’s mistake or folly, a wise person will keep quiet about it (e.g., 1 Sam 10:27). A discerning person realizes that the neighbor may become an opponent and someday retaliate.
5 tn Heb “going about in slander.” This expression refers to a slanderer. The noun means “slander” and so “tale-bearer” (so KJV, ASV, NASB), “informer.” The related verb (רָכַל, rakhal) means “to go about” from one person to another, either for trade or for gossip.
6 tn The participle מְגַלֶּה (mÿgaleh) means “uncovering” or “revealing” secrets.
sn This is the intent of a person who makes disparaging comments about others – he cannot wait to share secrets that should be kept.
7 tn Heb “faithful of spirit.” This phrase describes the inner nature of the person as faithful and trustworthy. This individual will not rush out to tell whatever information he has heard, but will conceal it.
8 tn The word תַּחְבֻּלוֹת (takhvulot, “guidance; direction”) is derived from the root I חָבַל (khaval, “rope-pulling” and “steering” or “directing” a ship; BDB 286 s.v.). Thus spiritual guidance is like steering a ship, here the ship of state (R. N. Whybray, Proverbs [CBC], 68; Prov 1:5). Advice is necessary for the success of a nation.
9 tn Heb “victory.” This term תְּשׁוּעָה (teshu’ah) means “salvation” or “victory” (BDB 448 s.v.); cf. NAB, TEV “security”; NRSV, NLT “safety.” Here, it connotes “success” as the antithesis of the nation falling. The setting could be one of battle or economics. Victory or success will be more likely with good advice. This assumes that the counselors are wise.