Beginning of Wisdom

Proverbs from the Hebrew Bible and the ancient Near East

Mask of the mind (Ben Sira 13:25)

Posted by jac/cdc on February 2, 2007

לב אנושׁ ישׁנא פניו אם לטוב ואם לרע

LAYV e-NOSH yish-NAY fa-NAV im-l’-TOV w’-im-l’-RA

A person’s heart changes their countenance for good or for ill.

Branching out a bit, we’ve drawn this proverb from Ben Sira. It appears at first like a less metaphorical version of the Proverbs 15:13, discussed yesterday. On closer reflection, however, this proverb is more general than Proverbs 15:13 since it does not say anything about the state of the heart/mind, nor with whom it goes well or ill. It simply states that the face is a mirror of the heart/mind—an ancient version of the English aphorism the eyes are a window on the soul or the saying I can see it on their face.

Its a sad fact many of us are given to walking around wearing masks to cover up our real state of mind as a way of guarding against the ill, but what if letting people look into our mind might be for good!


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