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Proverbs 18:13


18:13 The one who gives an answer 1  before he listens 2 

that is his folly and his shame. 3 

Proverbs 18:17


18:17 The first to state his case 4  seems 5  right,

until his opponent 6  begins to 7  cross-examine him. 8 

1 tn Heb “returns a word”; KJV “He that answereth a matter.”

2 sn Poor listening and premature answering indicate that the person has a low regard for what the other is saying, or that he is too absorbed in his own ideas. The Mishnah lists this as the second characteristic of the uncultured person (m. Avot 5:7).

3 tn Heb “it is folly to him and shame.” The verse uses formal parallelism, with the second colon simply completing the thought of the first.

4 tn Heb “in his legal case”; NAB “who pleads his case first.”

5 tn The term “seems” does not appear in the Hebrew but is supplied in the translation for the sake of smoothness (cf. KJV “seemeth”).

6 tn Heb “his neighbor”; NRSV “the other.”

7 tn Heb “comes and.” The Kethib is the imperfect יָבֹא (yavo’), and the Qere is the conjunction with the participle/perfect tense form וּבָא (uva’). The latter is reflected in most of the ancient versions. There is not an appreciable difference in the translations, except for the use of the conjunction.

8 sn The proverb is a continuous sentence teaching that there must be cross-examination to settle legal disputes. There are two sides in any disputes, and so even though the first to present his case sounds right, it must be challenged. The verb הָקַר (haqar, translated “cross-examines”) is used for careful, diligent searching and investigating to know something (e.g., Ps 139:1).

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