New English Translation
25 When[a] he speaks graciously,[b] do not believe him,[c]
for there are seven[d] abominations[e] within him.
26 Though his[f] hatred may be concealed[g] by deceit,
his evil will be uncovered[h] in the assembly.
27 The one who digs a pit[i] will fall into it;
the one who rolls a stone—it will come back on him.
- Proverbs 26:25 tn The particle כִּי (ki) is here interpreted with a temporal nuance. It is also possible that it could be read as concessive (so NIV, NLT “Though”).
- Proverbs 26:25 tn The meaning of the rare Piel form of חָנַן (khanan) is “to make gracious; to make favorable.” The subject is קוֹלוֹ (qolo, “his voice”), a metonymy of cause for what he says. The idea is that what he says is very gracious in its content and its effect.
- Proverbs 26:25 sn It may be that the placing of this proverb in this setting is designed to point out that the person speaking graciously is this wicked person who conceals an evil heart. Otherwise it may have in mind a person who has already proven untrustworthy but protests in order to conceal his plans. But even if that were not the connection, the proverb would still warn the disciple not to believe someone just because it sounded wonderful. It will take great discernment to know if there is sincerity behind the person’s words.
- Proverbs 26:25 sn The number “seven” is used in scripture as the complete number. In this passage it is not intended to be literally seven; rather, the expression means that there is complete or total abomination in his heart. Cf. TEV “his heart is filled to the brim with hate.”
- Proverbs 26:25 sn “Abomination” means something that is loathed. This is a description applied by the writer, for the hypocritical person would not refer to his plans this way.
- Proverbs 26:26 tn The referent is apparently the individual of vv. 24-25.
- Proverbs 26:26 tn The form תִּכַּסֶּה (tikkasseh) is the Hitpael imperfect (with assimilation); it is probably passive, meaning “is concealed,” although it could mean “conceals itself” (naturally). Since the proverb uses antithetical parallelism, an imperfect tense nuance of possibility (“may be concealed”) works well here (cf. NIV, NLT).
- Proverbs 26:26 sn The Hebrew verb means “to uncover,” here in the sense of “to reveal; to make known; to expose.” The verse is promising that the evil the person has done will be exposed publicly. The common belief that righteousness will ultimately triumph informs this saying.
- Proverbs 26:27 sn The verse is teaching talionic justice (“an eye for an eye,” etc.), and so the activities described should be interpreted as evil in their intent. “Digging a pit” would mean laying a trap for someone (the figure of speech would be a metonymy of cause for the effect of ruining someone, if an actual pit is being dug; the figure would be hypocatastasis if digging a pit is being compared to laying a trap, but no pit is being dug). Likewise, “rolling a stone” on someone means to destroy that individual.