Beginning of Wisdom

Proverbs from the Hebrew Bible and the ancient Near East

Watch your mouth (Proverbs 15:1)

Posted by jac/cdc on January 24, 2007

(Proverbs 15:1) מַעֲנֶה־רַּךְ יָשִׁיב חֵמָה וּדְבַר־עֶצֶב יַעֲלֶה־אָף׃

ma-a-ne-RACH ya-SHEEV chay-MA u-d’-var-E-tsev ya-a-le-AF

A soft answer turns back anger, but a hurtful word causes the temper to flare up.

Proverbs are full of aphorisms to the opposite effect of the old English adage that “sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.” Indeed this English saying severely undermines the power of words that Proverbs recognizes time and again (see 12:25; 15:23; 25:11). Wise use of speech is one of the preeminent distinctions of the sage in Proverbs. And speaking as the father of four boys, I can attest that control of one’s speech is of preeminent concern in the pursuit of moral education and peace in our household!


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