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18 The one who conceals hatred utters lies,[a]
and the one who spreads[b] slander[c] is certainly[d] a fool.
19 When words abound, transgression is inevitable,[e]
but the one who restrains[f] his words[g] is wise.
20 What the righteous say[h] is like[i] the best[j] silver,
but what the wicked think[k] is of little value.[l]

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  1. Proverbs 10:18 tn Heb “lips of falsehood.” The genitive noun שָׁקֶר (shaqer, “falsehood”) functions as an attributive genitive. The noun “lips” is a metonymy of cause for speech produced by lips. The one who shows friendliness while concealing hatred is a liar (e.g., Ps 28:3).
  2. Proverbs 10:18 tn Heb “causes to go out.” The Hiphil of יָצָא (yatsaʾ) literally means “to cause to go out” (BDB 424 s.v. Hiph.1). This may refer to speech (“to utter”) in the sense of causing words to go out of one’s mouth, or it may refer to slander (“to spread”) in the sense of causing slander to go out to others.
  3. Proverbs 10:18 tn The word דִבָּה (dibbah) means “whispering; defamation; evil report” (BDB 179 s.v.). Cf. NAB “accusations”; TEV “gossip.”sn The one who spreads slander is a fool because it not only destroys others but comes back on the guilty. See also the sayings of Amenemope and Ahiqar on these subjects (ANET 423, 429).
  4. Proverbs 10:18 tn Heb “he is a fool.” The independent personal pronoun הוּא (huʾ, “he”) is used for emphasis. This is reflected in the translation as “certainly.”
  5. Proverbs 10:19 tn Heb “does not cease.” It is impossible to avoid sinning in an abundance of words—sooner or later one is bound to say something wrong.
  6. Proverbs 10:19 tn Or “holds his lips under control.” The verb חָשַׂךְ (khasakh) means “to withhold; to restrain; to hold in check” (BDB 362 s.v.). The related Arabic term is used in reference to placing a piece of wood in the mouth of a goat to prevent it from sucking (HALOT 359 s.v. חשׂךְ).
  7. Proverbs 10:19 tn Heb “his lips” (so KJV, NAB, NASB); NIV “his tongue.” The term “lips” is a metonymy of cause for speech.
  8. Proverbs 10:20 tn Heb “the lips of the righteous.” The term “lips” functions as a metonymy of cause for speech. This contrasts the tongue (metonymy of cause for what they say) with the heart (metonymy of subject for what they intend). What the righteous say is more valuable than what the wicked intend.
  9. Proverbs 10:20 tn The comparative “like” is not in the Hebrew text but is implied by the metaphor; it is supplied in the translation for the sake of clarity.
  10. Proverbs 10:20 tn Or “pure”; Heb “choice.”
  11. Proverbs 10:20 tn Heb “the heart of the wicked” (so KJV, NAB, NIV). The term “heart” functions as a metonymy of cause for thoughts. The term לֵב (lev, “heart”) often refers to the seat of thoughts, will and emotions (BDB 524 s.v. 3-4).
  12. Proverbs 10:20 tn Heb “like little.” This expression refers to what has little value: “little worth” (so KJV, NAB, NRSV; cf. BDB 590 s.v. מְעַט 2.d). The point of the metaphor is clarified by the parallelism: Silver is valuable; the heart of the wicked is worth little. Tg. Prov 10:20 says it was full of dross, a contrast with choice silver.