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Proverbs 25:19-21 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

19 A bad tooth or an unsteady foot—
    a trust betrayed in time of trouble.[a]
20 Like the removal of clothes on a cold day, or vinegar on soda,
    is the one who sings to a troubled heart.
21 [b]If your enemies are hungry, give them food to eat,
    if thirsty, give something to drink;

Footnotes:

  1. 25:19 “A time of trouble” defeats all plans (cf. 10:2; 11:4). At such times human resources alone are like a tooth that falls out as one bites or a foot that goes suddenly lame.
  2. 25:21–22 A memorable statement of humanity and moderation; such sentiments could be occasionally found even outside the Bible, e.g., “It is better to bless someone than to do harm to one who has insulted you” (Egyptian Papyrus Insinger). Cf. Ex 23:4 and Lv 19:17–18. Human beings should not take it upon themselves to exact vengeance, leaving it rather in God’s hands. This saying has in view an enemy’s vulnerability in time of need, in this case extreme hunger and thirst; such a need should not be an occasion for revenge. The motive for restraining oneself is to allow God’s justice to take its own course, as in 20:22 and 24:17–19. Live coals: either remorse and embarrassment for the harm done, or increased punishment for refusing reconciliation. Cf. Mt 5:44. Rom 12:20 cites the Greek version and interprets it, “Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.”
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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