Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone.
By forbearance a ruler may be persuaded, And a soft tongue breaks the bone.
Patience can persuade a prince, and soft speech can crush strong opposition.
Patient persistence pierces through indifference; gentle speech breaks down rigid defenses.
A judge is moved by one who for a long time undergoes wrongs without protest, and by a soft tongue even bone is broken.
With patience a ruler may be persuaded, and a soft tongue can break bones.
By long forbearance a ruler is persuaded, And a gentle tongue breaks a bone.
|NET © [draft] ITL|
|NET © Notes||
1 tn Heb “long of anger” or “forbearance” (so NASB).
2 tn The two imperfect verbs in this line may be nuanced as potential imperfects because what is described could happen, but does not do so as a rule.
3 tn The “tongue” is a metonymy of cause; and so the expression here refers to soft or gentle speech. This fits well with the parallel idea of patience (“long of anger”) – through a calm patient persuasion much can be accomplished. Some English versions relate this figure directly to the persuasion of a ruler in the previous line (cf. TEV “can even convince rulers”).
4 sn The idea of breaking a bone uses the hardest and most firm part of the body in contrast to the “softness of the tongue.” Both are figurative, forming a comparison. A gentle speech can break down any stiff opposition.