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The one who forgives[a] an offense seeks[b] love,
but whoever repeats a matter separates close friends.[c]
10 A rebuke makes a greater impression on[d] a discerning person
than a hundred blows on a fool.[e]
11 An evil person seeks only rebellion,[f]
and so[g] a cruel messenger[h] will be sent against him.

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  1. Proverbs 17:9 tn Heb “covers” (so NASB); NIV “covers over.” How people respond to the faults of others reveals whether or not they have love. The contrast is between one who “covers” (forgives, cf. NCV, NRSV) the fault of a friend and one who repeats news about it. The former promotes love because he cares about the person; the latter divides friends.
  2. Proverbs 17:9 sn The participle מְבַקֵּשׁ (mevaqqesh) means “seeks” in the sense of seeking to secure or procure or promote love. There can be no friendship without such understanding and discretion.
  3. Proverbs 17:9 sn W. G. Plaut notes that harping on the past has destroyed many friendships and marriages (Proverbs, 188). W. McKane observes that this line refers to the person who breaks up friendships by his scandalous gossip, even if it is done with a kind of zeal for the welfare of the community, for it will destroy love and trust (Proverbs [OTL], 508-9).
  4. Proverbs 17:10 tn Heb “goes in deeper” (cf. NASB, NRSV). The verb נָחֵת (nakhet) “to go down; to descend” with the preposition ב (bet) means “to descend into; to make an impression on” someone.
  5. Proverbs 17:10 tn The form is the Hiphil infinitive of נָכָה (nakhah) with the comparative מִן, min. The word “fool” then would be an objective genitive—more than blows to/on a fool.
  6. Proverbs 17:11 tc The LXX reads ἀντιλογίας (antilogias, “contention”), which usually stands for the Hebrew words מְרִיבָה (merivah), מִדְיָן (midyan), or רִיב (riv). These words all refer to “strife, contention, disputing” and are all somewhat graphically similar to each other and the word מְרִי (meri, “rebellion”). Since the next Hebrew word starts with yod and bet, (יְבַקֵּשׁ, yevaqqesh) it is possible that something dropped out between the two yods and the text originally read מְרִיבָה יְבַקֵּשׁ or מִדְיָן יְבַקֵּשׁ.sn The proverb is set up in a cause and effect relationship. The cause is that evil people seek rebellion. The term מְרִי (meri) means “rebellion.” It is related to the verb מָרָה (marah, “to be contentious, to be rebellious, to be refractory”). BDB 598 s.v. מְרִי translates the line “a rebellious man seeketh only evil” (so NASB).
  7. Proverbs 17:11 tn The parallelism seems to be formal, with the idea simply continuing to the second line; the conjunction is therefore translated to reflect this. However, the proverb could be interpreted as antithetical just as easily.
  8. Proverbs 17:11 sn Those bent on rebellion will meet with retribution. The messenger could very well be a merciless messenger from the king, but the expression could also figuratively describe something God sends—storms, pestilence, or any other misfortune.

Whoever would foster love covers over an offense,(A)
    but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.(B)

10 A rebuke impresses a discerning person
    more than a hundred lashes a fool.

11 Evildoers foster rebellion against God;
    the messenger of death will be sent against them.

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