Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.
Answer a fool as his folly deserves, That he not be wise in his own eyes.
When arguing with fools, be sure to answer their foolish arguments, or they will become wise in their own estimation.
Answer a fool in simple terms so he doesn't get a swelled head.
Give a foolish man a foolish answer, or he will seem wise to himself.
Answer fools according to their folly, or they will be wise in their own eyes.
Answer a fool according to his folly, Lest he be wise in his own eyes.
|NET © [draft] ITL|
|NET © Notes||
1 sn The apparent contradiction with the last verse has troubled commentators for some time. The Rabbis solved it by saying that v. 4 referred to secular things, but v. 5 referred to sacred or religious controversies. While this does not resolve the issue, it does give a sound application for the two verses together – in negligible issues one should just ignore the stupid person, but in issues that matter the fool must be dealt with, lest credence be given to what he says (W. G. Plaut, Proverbs, 266). The text presents two proverbs each of which presents an aspect of the whole truth. One should not lower himself to the level of the fool, but there are times when the lesser of two evils is to do so, other than let the fool gain confidence that he is a wise person or be considered wise by others. Paul, for example, talked like a “fool” to correct the foolish ideas of the Corinthians (2 Cor 11:16-17; 12:11).
2 tn Heb “in his own eyes” (so NAB, NASB, NIV).