The Speech of Fools versus the Speech of the Wise (18.1-21)
Mostly synthetic parallels the new unit contrasts in its almost equal sub-units the antisocial speech of fools (18.1-11) and the reconciling speech o the wise (18:12-21).
(a) The Fools Antisocial Speech versus the Defense of the Wise (1-11)
1) The Fool’s Antisocial Nature, Speech, and destiny (1-9)
The first partial unit continues the topic of the fool, who by c0referenntial terms is mentioned explicitly in vv.1, 2, 3, 6, 7, and 8 and inferentially in vv. 5 and 9. –Waltke in NICOT
(a.) Intro: The Fool’s Alienation from Society (1-3)
A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire;
He rages against all wise judgment.
isolates… He is not merely anti-social; he is a problem for society since he will defy sound judgment. The Mishnah uses the verse to teach the necessity of being part of a community because people have social responsibilities and need each other (m. Avot 2:4). --NET Bible translation notes
A fool has no delight in understanding,
But in expressing his own heart.
When the wicked comes, contempt comes also;
And with dishonor comes reproach.
the wicked… Wickedness (rsv) seems a preferable reading of the Heb. Consonants to the wicked (av, rv). The three terms for shame give triple emphasis to theis corollary of sin (the antithesis of the glory which is the corollary of holiness: Is. 6.3; Rom. 8.30); and the Bile elsewhere shows it to be one of sin’s first (Gen. 3.7) and final (Dn. 12:2) fruits. –Kidner in TOTC
The MT has “a wicked [person].” Many commentators emend the text to רֶשַׁע (resha’, “wickedness”) which makes better parallelism with “shame” (W. McKane, Proverbs [OTL], 521; R. B. Y. Scott, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes [AB], 112; C. H. Toy, Proverbs [ICC], 355; cf. NAB, NIV, NRSV). However, there is no external evidence for this emendation. --NET Bible textual criticism
(b) The Fool’s Perverse Speech (4-8)
The introduction’s abstract descriptions of the wicked are now narrowed down to specific instances of his misanthropic speech, framed by the inclusion “the words of” (vv. 4a, 8a)… –Waltke in NICOT
The words The wellspring
of a man's mouth of wisdom
are deep waters; is a flowing brook.
There is debate about the nature of the parallelism between lines 4a and 4b. The major options are: (1) synonymous parallelism, (2) antithetical parallelism (e.g., NAB, NIV, NCV) or (3) formal parallelism. Normally a vav (ו) would begin an antithetical clause; the structure and the ideas suggest that the second colon continues the idea of the first half, but in a parallel way rather than as additional predicates. The metaphors used in the proverb elsewhere describe the wise. --NET Bible translation notes
Comparison with 20:5 suggests that the deep waters stand for concealment,
‘For words, like Nature, half reveal
And half conceal the Soul within.’
If this is so, the proverb is contrasting our human reluctance, or inability, to give ourselves away, with the refreshing candour and clarity of the true wisdom. –Kidner in TOTC
It is not good Or
to show partiality to overthrow
to the wicked, the righteous in judgment.
wicked… Or “the guilty,” since in the second colon “righteous” can also be understood in contrast as “innocent” (cf. NRSV, TEV, NLT). --NET Bible translation notes
A fool's his
enter into calls for
contention … “Strife” is a metonymy of cause, it is the cause of the beating or flogging that follows; “flogging” in the second colon is a metonymy of effect, the flogging is the effect of the strife. The two together give the whole picture. --NET Bible study notes
A fool's his
mouth is lips are
his destruction, the snare of his soul.
And they go down into the inmost body.
tasty trifles… The word כְּמִתְלַהֲמִים (kÿmitlahamim) occurs only here. It is related to a cognate verb meaning “to swallow greedily.” Earlier English versions took it from a Hebrew root הָלַם (halam, see the word לְמַהֲלֻמוֹת [lÿmahalumot] in v. 6) meaning “wounds” (so KJV). But the translation of “choice morsels” fits the idea of gossip better. --NET Bible translations notes
(c) The Fool Plunders the community (9)
He who is slothful in his work
Is a brother to him who is a great destroyer.
Heb “Also, the one who.” Many commentators and a number of English versions omit the word “also.” --NET Bible translations notes
Waster (av) means one who lays waste, not who wastes time. ‘The sage teaches that he who leaves a work undone is next of kin to him who destroys it’ (Oesterley). Cf. 28.24. –Kidner in TOTC
The name of the Lord is a strong tower;
The righteous run to it and are safe.
2) Defence of the Righteous in the Lord (11-12)
The rich man's wealth is his strong city,
And like a high wall in his own esteem.
in his own esteem … The MT reads בְּמַשְׂכִּיתוֹ (bÿmaskito, “in his imaginations”). The LXX, Tg. Prov 18:11, and the Latin reflect בִּמְשֻׂכָּתוֹ (bimsukato, “like a fence [or, high wall]”) that is, wealth provides protection. The MT reading, on the other hand, suggests that this security is only in the mind. --NET Bible textual criticism notes
(b) Janus (12)
Note the conceptual sequence form “destroyer” (v.0b), to true and false protection (vv. 10-11), to the contrasting destinies of the haughty’s destruction and the humble’s honor (v. 12). –Waltke in NICOT
Before destruction before honor
the heart of a man
is haughty, is humility.
(c) The Educated Person's Behavior in Conflict and His Speech (13-21)
The unit consists of an introduction, laying the foundation in being teachable (vv. 13-15), and then moving on to a courtroom to deal with settling disputes (v. 16-19) and to the power of speech (vv. 20-21). –Waltke in NICOT
1) The Incorrigable Fool versus the Teachable Wise (13-15)
A …a person’s heart v. 12
B …The non-listening fool v. 13
A’ …a person’s spirit v. 14
B’ …The listening v.15 –Waltke in NICOT
He who answers a matter before he hears it,
It is folly and shame to him.
The spirit of a man will sustain him in sickness,
But who can bear a broken spirit?
The heart the ear
of the prudent of the wise
knowledge… The repetition, knowledge . . . knowledge is for emphasis, and the emphasis is on no platitude, but on the paradox that those who know most know best how little they know. See 1 Corinthians 8:2; Philippians 3:1 off. Cf. 15:14 –Kidner in TOTC
seeks … This line features a mixed metaphor: The “ear” is pictured “seeking.” The “ear of the wise” actually means the wise person’s capacity to hear, and so the wise are seeking as they hear. --NET Bible translation notes
2) Teachings about Justice and Conflicts (16-19)
The setting of vv. 16-19 is the courtroom…
vv. 16-17 …need for an impartial judicial system…
vv. 18-19 present resolutions in light of the limitations of the best of courts… –Waltke in NICOT
A man's gift makes room for him,
And brings him before great men.
gift… The Hebrew term translated “gift” is a more general term than “bribe” (שֹׁחַד, shokhad), used in 17:8, 23. But it also has danger (e.g., 15:27; 21:14), for by giving gifts one might learn how influential they are and use them for bribes. The proverb simply states that a gift can expedite matters. --NET Bible translation notes
The first one to plead his cause seems right,
Until his neighbor comes and examines him.
causes contentions to cease, keeps the mighty apart.
Casting lots… The Christian equivalent of the implied advice of this proverb is to seek God’s leading, when interests or opinions clash, and to accept it with a good grace. –Kidner in TOTC
Cf. 16:33 comments: The Old Testament use of the word lot shows that 16:33 is not about God’s control of all random occurrences, but about His settling of matters properly referred to Him. Land was ‘aloted’ (Jos. 14:1, 2), likewise temple service (1 Ch. 25:8)’ problably the Urim and Thummim were lots. But God’s last use of this method was, significantly, the last event before Pentecost (Acts 1:26); thereafter He has not longer guided His church as a ‘servant who knoweth not what his lord doeth’: cf. Acts 13.2; 15.25, 28. –Kidner in TOTC
A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city,
And contentions are like the bars of a castle.
3) Teachings about he Power of Speech (20-21)
… the catchword “fruit,” the first word of v. 20a and the last of v. 21b in the outer frame and by the organs of speaking in the inner core… –Waltke in NICOT
The second of this pair of proverbs, with its warning to the toalkative, throws a sobering light on the first. Both of them urge caution, for satisfied (20) can mean ‘sated’: the meaning, good or bad, will depend on the care taken. Moffatt paraphrases 20 well, but one-sidedly;
A man must answer for his utterances,
And take the consequences of his words.’
Oesterley, quotes the witty saying of Ahikar: My son, sweeten thy tongue, and make savoury the opening of thy mouth; for the tail of a dog gives him bread, and his mouth gets him blows.’ –Kidner in TOTC
A man's stomach shall be satisfied from the fruit of his mouth,
From the produce of his lips he shall be filled.
stomach… Heb “his midst.” This is rendered “his stomach” because of the use of שָׂבַע (sava’, “to be satisfied; to be sated; to be filled”), which is usually used with food (cf. KJV, ASV “belly”). --NET Bible translation notes
Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
And those who love it will eat its fruit.
its … The referent of “it” must be the tongue, i.e., what the tongue says (= “its use”). So those who enjoy talking, indulging in it, must “eat” its fruit, whether good or bad. The expression “eating the fruit” is an implied comparison; it means accept the consequences of loving to talk (cf. TEV). --NET Bible translation notes