New English Translation
18 One who has isolated himself[a] seeks his own desires;[b]
he rejects[c] all sound judgment.
2 A fool takes no pleasure[d] in understanding
but only in disclosing[e] what is on his mind.[f]
3 When a wicked person[g] arrives, contempt[h] shows up with him,[i]
and with shame comes[j] a reproach.
4 The words of a person’s mouth[k] are like[l] deep waters,[m]
and[n] the fountain of wisdom[o] is like[p] a flowing brook.[q]
5 It is terrible[r] to show partiality[s] to the wicked,[t]
by depriving[u] a righteous man of justice.
6 The lips of a fool[v] enter into strife,[w]
and his mouth invites[x] a flogging.[y]
7 The mouth of a fool is his ruin,
and his lips are a snare for his life.[z]
8 The words of a gossip[aa] are like choice morsels;[ab]
and they have gone down into the person’s innermost being.[ac]
9 The one who[ad] is slack[ae] in his work
is a brother[af] to one who destroys.[ag]
10 The name of the Lord[ah] is like[ai] a strong tower;[aj]
the righteous person runs[ak] to it and is set safely on high.[al]
11 The wealth[am] of a rich person is like[an] a strong city,[ao]
and it is like a high wall in his imagination.[ap]
12 Before destruction the heart[aq] of a person is proud,
but humility comes[ar] before honor.[as]
13 The one who gives an answer[at] before he listens[au]—
that is his folly and his shame.[av]
14 A person’s spirit[aw] sustains him through sickness—
but who can bear[ax] a crushed spirit?[ay]
15 The discerning person[az] acquires knowledge,
and the wise person[ba] seeks[bb] knowledge.
16 A person’s gift[bc] makes room for him,
and leads him[bd] before important people.
17 The first to state his case[be] seems[bf] right,
until his opponent[bg] begins to[bh] cross-examine him.[bi]
18 A toss of a coin[bj] ends[bk] disputes,
and settles the issue[bl] between strong opponents.[bm]
19 A relative[bn] offended[bo] is harder to reach than[bp] a strong city,
and disputes are like the barred gates[bq] of a fortified citadel.[br]
20 From the fruit of a person’s mouth[bs] his stomach[bt] will be satisfied,[bu]
with the product of his lips he will be satisfied.
21 Death and life are in the power[bv] of the tongue,[bw]
and those who love its use[bx] will eat its fruit.
22 The one who has found[by] a good[bz] wife has found what goodness is,[ca]
and obtained a delightful gift[cb] from the Lord.[cc]
23 A poor person makes supplications,[cd]
but a rich man answers harshly.[ce]
24 There are[cf] companions[cg] who harm one another,[ch]
but there is a friend[ci] who sticks closer than a brother.
- Proverbs 18:1 tn The Niphal participle functions substantively and has a reflexive nuance: “one who has separated himself” (cf. KJV, ASV, NASB). 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).
- Proverbs 18:1 tc The MT has “seeks [his own] desire[s].” The translation in the LXX represents a Hebrew Vorlage of לְתֹאֲנָה (letoʾanah) instead of לְתַאֲוָה (letaʾavah); this could be translated “seeks his own occasion,” that is, “his own pretext” (C. H. Toy, Proverbs [ICC], 354; cf. NAB). The MT makes sense as it stands and the emendation is not really necessary.
- Proverbs 18:1 tn Heb “breaks out”; NRSV “showing contempt for”; NLT “snarling at.” This individual breaks out in contention against sound judgment. He is in opposition to society (e.g., Prov 17:14; 20:3).
- Proverbs 18:2 sn This expression forms an understatement (tapeinosis); the opposite is the point—he detests understanding or discernment.
- Proverbs 18:2 tn The Hitpael infinitive construct בְּהִתְגַּלּוֹת (behitgallot) functions nominally as the object of the preposition. The term means “reveal, uncover, betray.” So the fool takes pleasure “in uncovering” his heart.
- Proverbs 18:2 tn Heb “his heart.” This is a metonymy meaning “what is on his mind” (cf. NAB “displaying what he thinks”; NRSV “expressing personal opinion”). This kind of person is in love with his own ideas and enjoys spewing them out (W. McKane, Proverbs [OTL], 515). It is the kind of person who would ask a question, not to learn, but to show everyone how clever he is (cf. TEV).
- Proverbs 18:3 tc The MT has “a wicked [person].” Many commentators emend the text to רֶשַׁע (reshaʿ, “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.
- Proverbs 18:3 sn “Contempt” (בּוּז, buz) accompanies the wicked; “reproach” (חֶרְפָּה, kherpah) goes with shame. This reproach either further characterizes the behaviors expected of the wicked or possibly the critical rebukes and taunts of the community against a wicked person.
- Proverbs 18:3 tn Heb “contempt also comes/has come.” The verb form בָּא (baʾ) may either be a perfect verb “has come” (cf. Prov 11:2) or a participle “comes.”
- Proverbs 18:3 tn The term “comes” does not appear in the Hebrew but is supplied in the translation for the sake of clarity and smoothness.
- Proverbs 18:4 tc The LXX reads “in a person’s heart,” probably conforming to the near parallel in Prov 20:5.
- Proverbs 18:4 tn The comparative “like” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is implied by the metaphor; it is supplied in the translation for the sake of clarity.
- Proverbs 18:4 sn The metaphor “deep waters” indicates either that the words have an inexhaustible supply or that they are profound. Keil and Delitzsch see the second line as two more characteristics of the man’s words rather than as a second sentence, i.e., a person’s words are: deep waters, a bubbling brook, a fountain of wisdom. The “bubbling brook” would refer to the supply and “deep waters” to their insightfulness, or what is beneath the surface. See also Prov 20:5 for the metaphor “deep waters.”
- Proverbs 18:4 tn 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.
- Proverbs 18:4 sn This is an implied comparison (hypocatastasis), the fountain of wisdom being the person who speaks. The Greek version has “fountain of life” instead of “wisdom,” probably influenced from 10:11.
- Proverbs 18:4 tn The comparative “like” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is implied by the metaphor; it is supplied for the sake of clarity.
- Proverbs 18:4 sn The point of this metaphor is that the wisdom is a continuous source of refreshing and beneficial ideas.
- Proverbs 18:5 tn Heb “not good.” This is a figure known as tapeinosis, a deliberate understatement to emphasize a worst-case scenario: “it is terrible!”
- Proverbs 18:5 tn The idiom “lifting up the face of” (שְׂאֵת פְּנֵי, seʾet pene) means “to show partiality” in decisions (e.g., Deut 10:17; Mal 2:9); cf. CEV, NLT “to favor.” The verbal form is the Qal infinitive construct from נָשָׂא (nasaʾ), which functions as the subject of the clause.
- Proverbs 18:5 tn Or “the guilty,” since in the second colon “righteous” can also be understood in contrast as “innocent” (cf. NRSV, TEV, NLT).
- Proverbs 18:5 tn Heb “to turn aside” (so ASV); NASB “to thrust aside.” The second half of the verse may illustrate this reprehensible action. The Hiphil infinitive construct לְהַטּוֹת (lehattot) may serve either (1) as result, “showing partiality…so that the righteous are turned away,” or (2) as epexegetical infinitive, “showing partiality…by turning the righteous away.” The second is preferred in the translation. Depriving the innocent of their rights is a perversion of justice.
- Proverbs 18:6 sn The “lips” is a metonymy of cause, meaning what the fool says. The “mouth” in the second colon is likewise a metonymy for speech, what comes out of the mouth.
- Proverbs 18:6 sn “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.
- Proverbs 18:6 tn Heb “calls for.” This is personification: What the fool says “calls for” a beating or flogging. The fool deserves punishment, but does not actually request it.
- Proverbs 18:6 tn Heb “blows.” This would probably be physical beatings, either administered by the father or by society (e.g., also 19:25; Ps 141:5; cf. NAB, NIV, TEV, NLT). Today, however, “a beating” could be associated with violent criminal assault, whereas the context suggests punishment. Therefore “a flogging” is used in the translation, since that term is normally associated with disciplinary action.
- Proverbs 18:7 tn Heb “his soul” (so KJV, NASB, NIV).sn What a fool says can ruin him. Calamity and misfortune can come to a person who makes known his lack of wisdom by what he says. It may be that his words incite anger, or merely reveal stupidity; in either case, he is in trouble.
- Proverbs 18:8 tn Or “slanderer”; KJV, NAB “talebearer”; ASV, NRSV “whisperer.”
- Proverbs 18:8 tn The word כְּמִתְלַהֲמִים (kemitlahamim) occurs only here (and 26:22 where the verse is repeated verbatim). It is related to a cognate verb meaning “to swallow greedily,” so here “things swallowed greedily,” meaning food delicacies. Earlier English versions took it from a Hebrew root הָלַם (halam, see the word לְמַהֲלֻמוֹת [lemahalumot] in v. 6) meaning “wounds” (so KJV) or reflexively for the Hitpael as “self-inflicted wounds.” But the translation of “choice morsels” seems to fit the next image of going into the belly better. But that could also show the extent of wounds.
- Proverbs 18:8 tn Heb “they have gone down [into] the dark/inner chambers of the belly”; NASB “of the body.” sn When the choice morsels of gossip are received, they go down like delicious food—into the innermost being; they have been too easily believed. R. N. Whybray says, “There is a flaw in human nature that assures slander will be listened to” (Proverbs [CBC], 105).
- Proverbs 18:9 tn Heb “Also, the one who.” Many commentators and a number of English versions omit the word “also.”
- Proverbs 18:9 tn The form מִתְרַפֶּה (mitrappeh) is the Hitpael participle, “showing oneself slack.” The verb means “to sink; to relax,” and in the causative stem “to let drop” the hands. This is the lazy person who does not even try to work.
- Proverbs 18:9 sn These two troubling types, the slacker and the destroyer, are closely related.
- Proverbs 18:9 tn Heb “possessor of destruction.” This idiom means “destroyer” (so ASV); KJV “a great waster”; NRSV “a vandal.”
- Proverbs 18:10 sn The “name of the Lord” is a metonymy of subject. The “name” here signifies not the personal name “Yahweh,” for that would be redundant in the expression “the name of Yahweh,” but the attributes of the Lord (cf. Exod 34:5-7)—here his power to protect.
- Proverbs 18:10 tn The comparative “like” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is implied by the metaphor; it is supplied for the sake of clarity.
- Proverbs 18:10 tn Heb “a tower of strength,” with “strength” regarded as attributive by most English versions. The metaphor “strong tower” indicates that God is a secure refuge. The figure is qualified in the second colon.
- Proverbs 18:10 sn The metaphor of “running” to the Lord refers to a whole-hearted and unwavering trust in God’s protection (e.g., Isa 40:31).
- Proverbs 18:10 tn Heb “is high” or “is inaccessible.” This military-type expression stresses the effect of the trust—security, being out of danger (see HALOT 1305 s.v. שׂגב). Other scriptures will supply the ways that God actually protects people who trust him.
- Proverbs 18:11 sn This proverb forms a contrast with the previous one. The rich, unlike the righteous, trust in wealth and not in God.
- Proverbs 18:11 tn The comparative “like” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is implied by the metaphor; it is supplied for the sake of clarity.
- Proverbs 18:11 tn Heb “city of his strength”; NIV “fortified city.” This term refers to their place of refuge, what they look to for security and protection in time of trouble.
- Proverbs 18:11 tc The MT reads בְּמַשְׂכִּיתוֹ (bemaskito, “in his imaginations”). The LXX, Tg. Prov 18:11, and the Latin reflect בִּמְשֻׂכָּתוֹ (bimsukkato, “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.tn The proverb is an observation saying, reporting a common assumption without commenting on it. The juxtaposition with the last verse is a loud criticism of this misguided faith. The final word בְּמַשְׂכִּיתוֹ (bemaskito, “in his imaginations”) indicates that one’s wealth is a futile place of refuge.
- Proverbs 18:12 sn The term “heart” is a metonymy of subject, referring to the seat of the spiritual and intellectual capacities—the mind, the will, the motivations and intentions. Proud ambitions and intentions will lead to a fall.
- Proverbs 18:12 tn Heb “[is] before honor”; cf. CEV “humility leads to honor.”
- Proverbs 18:12 sn The way to honor is through humility (e.g., Prov 11:2; 15:33; 16:18). The humility and exaltation of Jesus provides the classic example (Phil 2:1-10).
- Proverbs 18:13 tn Heb “returns a word”; KJV “He that answereth a matter.”
- Proverbs 18:13 sn Poor listening and premature answering indicate that the person has a low regard for what the other is saying, or that he is too absorbed in his own ideas. The Mishnah lists this as the second characteristic of the uncultured person (m. Avot 5:7).
- Proverbs 18:13 tn Heb “it is folly to him and shame.” The verse uses formal parallelism, with the second colon simply completing the thought of the first.
- Proverbs 18:14 tn Heb “the spirit of a man.” Because the verb of this clause is a masculine form, some have translated this line as “with spirit a man sustains,” but that is an unnecessary change.
- Proverbs 18:14 sn This is a rhetorical question, asserting that very few can cope with depression.
- Proverbs 18:14 sn The figure of a “crushed spirit” (ASV, NAB, NCV, NRSV “a broken spirit,” comparing depression to something smashed or crushed) suggests a broken will, a loss of vitality, despair, and emotional pain. In physical sickness one can fall back on the will to live, but in depression even the will to live is gone.
- Proverbs 18:15 tn Heb “discerning mind.” The term לֵב (lev, “mind, heart”) is a synecdoche of part (= heart/mind) for the whole (= person); cf. TEV, NLT “intelligent people.” Placing “heart” and “ear” in parallel encompasses more of the process of acquiring knowledge. The ear listens for and to instruction, and the mind considers what is heard to acquire knowledge.
- Proverbs 18:15 tn Heb “the ear of the wise.” The term “ear” is a synecdoche of part (= ear) for the whole (= person): “wise person.” sn The wise continually seek more knowledge. D. Kidner says, “Those who know most know best how little they know” (Proverbs [TOTC], 129).
- Proverbs 18:15 sn This line features a mixed metaphor: The “ear” is pictured “seeking.” The wise person is listening for (on the lookout for) things worth listening to in the pursuit of knowledge.
- Proverbs 18:16 sn 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.
- Proverbs 18:16 sn The two verbs here show a progression, helping to form the synthetic parallelism. The gift first “makes room” (יַרְחִיב, yarkhiv) for the person, that is, extending a place for him, and then “ushers him in” (יַנְחֵנּוּ, yankhennu) among the greats.
- Proverbs 18:17 tn Heb “in his legal case”; NAB “who pleads his case first.”
- Proverbs 18:17 tn The term “seems” does not appear in the Hebrew but is supplied in the translation for the sake of smoothness (cf. KJV “seemeth”).
- Proverbs 18:17 tn Heb “his neighbor”; NRSV “the other.”
- Proverbs 18:17 tc The Kethib is the imperfect יָבֹא (yavoʾ), “his opponent comes and….” The Qere is the conjunction with the participle/perfect tense form וּבָא (uvaʾ), “[but] then his opponent comes and….” The latter is reflected in most of the ancient versions. There is not an appreciable difference in the translation.
- Proverbs 18:17 sn The proverb is a continuous sentence teaching that there must be cross-examination to settle legal disputes. There are two sides in any disputes, and so even though the first to present his case sounds right, it must be challenged. The verb הָקַר (haqar, translated “cross-examines”) is used for careful, diligent searching and investigating to know something (e.g., Ps 139:1).
- Proverbs 18:18 tn Heb “casting the lot.” Because modern readers are not familiar with the ancient practice of casting lots, the image of the coin toss to decide an issue has been employed in the translation (cf. CEV “drawing straws”). Although the casting of lots is often compared to throwing dice, the translation “throwing dice ends disputes” in this context could be misunderstood to mean “participating in a game of dice ends disputes.”
- Proverbs 18:18 tn The verb יַשְׁבִּית (yashbit) is the Hiphil imperfect from שָׁבַת (shavat), meaning “to cause to cease; to bring to an end; to end”; cf. NIV “settles disputes.” The assumption behind this practice and this saying is that providence played the determining role in the casting of lots. If both parties accepted this, then the issue could be resolved.
- Proverbs 18:18 tn Heb “makes a separation” or “decides.” In the book of Proverbs this verb often has a negative connotation, such as separating close friends (e.g., 16:9). But here it has a positive nuance: Opponents are “separated” by settling the issue.
- Proverbs 18:18 tn The word is the adjective, “mighty” (so KJV, NAB, NASB) used here substantivally as the object of the preposition.
- Proverbs 18:19 tn Heb “brother,” but this is not limited to actual siblings (cf. NRSV “an ally”; CEV, NLT “friend”).
- Proverbs 18:19 tn The Niphal participle from פָּשַׁע (pashaʿ) modifies “brother”: a brother transgressed, offended, sinned against.
- Proverbs 18:19 tc The LXX has a clear antithetical proverb here: “A brother helped is like a stronghold, but disputes are like bars of a citadel.” Accordingly, the editors of BHS propose מוֹשִׁיעַ (moshiaʿ) instead of נִפְשָׁע (nifshaʿ, so also the other versions and the RSV). But since both lines use the comparison with a citadel (fortified/barred), the antithesis is problematic. tn The phrase “is harder to reach” is supplied in the translation on the basis of the comparative מִן (min). It is difficult to get into a fortified city; it is more difficult to reach an offended brother.
- Proverbs 18:19 tn Heb “bars,” but this could be understood to mean “taverns,” so “barred gates” is employed in the translation.
- Proverbs 18:19 sn The proverb is talking about changing a friend or a relative into an enemy by abuse or strife—the bars go up, as it were. And the “walls” that are erected are not easily torn down.
- Proverbs 18:20 sn Two harvest images, fruit (from trees) and produce (from field crops), are applied to speech, represented by the mouth and lips. The “mouth” and the “lips” are metonymies of cause, with both lines indicating that speech is productive. The following verse about harvest of the tongue may be part of this proverb.
- Proverbs 18:20 tn The noun בֶּטֶן (beten) can refer to the stomach, womb, or internal organs. In Prov 20:30 and 22:18 it appears to be metaphorical for the inner person, or soul. Given the references to the mouth, lips, and being satisfied, on one level it refers to the stomach. But it probably functions on a spiritual level as well, especially when read with the following verse.
- Proverbs 18:20 tn Or “is satisfied.” The translation understands שָׂבַע (savaʿ) as stative “to be satisfied; be filled” rather than fientive, “to satisfy oneself,” so that the imperfect form is future. An imperfect verb may be future for both stative and dynamic verbs, and may be present for dynamic verbs. It is not possible to tell by morphological criteria whether the verb שָׂבַע is stative or dynamic, but elsewhere it behaves similarly to a stative.
- Proverbs 18:21 tn Heb “in the hand of.”
- Proverbs 18:21 sn What people say can lead to life or death. The Midrash on Psalms shows one way the tongue [what is said] can cause death: “The evil tongue slays three, the slanderer, the slandered, and the listener” (Midrash Tehillim 52:2). See J. G. Williams, “The Power of Form: A Study of Biblical Proverbs,” Semeia 17 (1980): 35-38.
- Proverbs 18:21 tn 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).
- Proverbs 18:22 tn The verb מָצָא (matsaʾ, translated “has found”) is used twice in the first colon. As the perfect form of a dynamic root, the verb should be understood as past or perfective. The first verb sets the premise—the case where a man has found a good wife. The second verb makes an evaluative comment about the premise.
- Proverbs 18:22 tc Some Hebrew manuscripts, the LXX, the Syriac, the Targum, and some Latin witnesses include the adjective “good” (טוֺבָה; tovah). Its omission in the MT resulted from the common scribal mistake of homoeoteleuton, omitting a word when two successive words have a similar ending.tn The adjective “good” has a broad meaning and may mean “virtuous,” “kind,” “cheerful,” or “content.”sn The significance of the adjective is affirmed by realizing that this proverb should not contradict Prov 19:13; 21:9; 25:24; and 27:15. These verses do not paint the contentious wife as a benefit.
- Proverbs 18:22 tc Heb טוֹב (tov) “a good [thing]” or “[what is] good.” The LXX translates with a noun “grace/favor” which may imply the Hebrew noun טוֹב (tov), or the noun טוּב (tuv), a different reading of the same consonants. Both nouns mean “goodness,” “well-being;” “happiness.”sn The term טוֹב (tov, “good; enjoyable; favorable; virtuous”) might be an allusion to Gen 2:18, which affirms that it is not good for man to be alone. The word describes that which is pleasing to God, beneficial for life, and abundantly enjoyable.
- Proverbs 18:22 tn Heb “what is pleasing; what brings delight.” The noun רָצוֹן (ratson, “what is pleasing”). This is not the specific religious sense of finding acceptance before the Lord (a when bringing a sacrifice, e.g. Lev 1:3) but the general sense of delight. Yet this fortunate condition of having a virtuous, cheerful wife is described as providentially from God, cf. CEV “she is a gift from the Lord.”
- Proverbs 18:22 tc The LXX adds this embellishment to complete the thought: “Whoever puts away a good wife puts away good, and whoever keeps an adulteress is foolish and ungodly.”
- Proverbs 18:23 tn Heb “speaks supplications”; NIV “pleads for mercy.” The poor man has to ask for help because he has no choice (cf. CEV). The Hebrew term תַּחֲנוּן (takhanun) is a “supplication for favor” (related to the verb חָנַן [khanan], “to be gracious; to show favor”). So the poor man speaks, but what he speaks is a request for favor.
- Proverbs 18:23 sn The rich person responds harshly to the request. He has hardened himself against such appeals because of relentless demands. The proverb is an observation saying; it simply describes the way the world generally works, rather than setting this out as the ideal.
- Proverbs 18:24 tn The word is spelled אִישׁ (ʾish), typical of the word for “man, person,” and is often so translated (KJV, NIV, NASB, ESV). It is probably a synonym or alternate form of יֵשׁ (yesh, “there is”), which begins the second line of the verse. The Ugaritic and Aramaic cognates of יֵשׁ (yesh) are ʾt and אִית (ʾith) respectively. A regular phonetic change in the history of the languages accounts for the Ugaritic and Aramaic tav (ת, “t”) where Hebrew has a shin (שׁ, “sh”). It is spelled without the yod as אִשׁ (ʾish, “there is”) in 2 Sam 14:19 and Mic 6:10 (see HALOT 92, s.v. אִשׁ). C. H. Toy suggested reading יֵשׁ (yesh) instead of אִישׁ (ʾish), along with some of the Greek mss, the Syriac, and Tg. Prov 18:24 (Proverbs [ICC], 366) but the emendation is unnecessary in light of the cognate.
- Proverbs 18:24 tn The noun רֵעַ (reaʿ) refers to a “companion, associate, friend, neighbor.” It has a wide range of meaning depending on context, but generally “those persons with whom one is brought into contact and with whom one must live on account of the circumstances of life” (HALOT 1253 s.v. II רֵעַ). Some translations employ the word “friend” in both halves of the verse, obscuring the distinction between them. This term speaks of association, not necessarily friendship.
- Proverbs 18:24 tn The text lacks a main verb and simply has an infinitive construct, לְהִתְרֹעֵעַ (lehitroʿeaʿ), a hitpolel of the verb רעע (raʿaʿ). Based on the noun רֵעַ (reaʿ, “companion, associate, friend, neighbor”), the KJV had postulated a cognate, an otherwise unattested root רעע meaning “show oneself friendly” in the Hitpolel. This would be reasonable if there was a root רעע that means “to be a friend” in the Qal, but the noun רֵעַ (reaʿ) is actually associated with a root רעה (raʿah). Instead the infinitive points toward a result and the Hitpolel of רעע (raʿaʿ) means “to smash one another” (HALOT 1269 s.v. II רעע). If the first word of the verse is maintained to be אִישׁ (ʾish, “man”), it might mean “a man of companions may be crushed by them.”
- Proverbs 18:24 tn This term for friend (אֹהֵב, ʾohev) is based on the root meaning “to love. It speaks of a bond or commitment that is not true of the term for “companion” in the first line.
New International Version
18 An unfriendly person pursues selfish ends
and against all sound judgment starts quarrels.
2 Fools find no pleasure in understanding
but delight in airing their own opinions.(A)
3 When wickedness comes, so does contempt,
and with shame comes reproach.
4 The words of the mouth are deep waters,(B)
but the fountain of wisdom is a rushing stream.
6 The lips of fools bring them strife,
and their mouths invite a beating.(E)
8 The words of a gossip are like choice morsels;
they go down to the inmost parts.(H)
9 One who is slack in his work
is brother to one who destroys.(I)
11 The wealth of the rich is their fortified city;(L)
they imagine it a wall too high to scale.
12 Before a downfall the heart is haughty,
but humility comes before honor.(M)
13 To answer before listening—
that is folly and shame.(N)
14 The human spirit can endure in sickness,
but a crushed spirit who can bear?(O)
15 The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge,(P)
for the ears of the wise seek it out.
16 A gift(Q) opens the way
and ushers the giver into the presence of the great.
17 In a lawsuit the first to speak seems right,
until someone comes forward and cross-examines.
18 Casting the lot settles disputes(R)
and keeps strong opponents apart.
19 A brother wronged(S) is more unyielding than a fortified city;
disputes are like the barred gates of a citadel.
20 From the fruit of their mouth a person’s stomach is filled;
with the harvest of their lips they are satisfied.(T)
23 The poor plead for mercy,
but the rich answer harshly.
24 One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.(Y)