Beginning of Wisdom

Proverbs from the Hebrew Bible and the ancient Near East

The wink of trouble (Proverbs 10:10)

Posted by jac/cdc on February 8, 2007

קֹרֵץ עַיִן יִתֵּן עַצָּבֶת וֶאֱוִיל שְׂפָתַיִם יִלָּבֵט׃

ko-RAYTS A-yin yi-TAYN a-TSA-vet ve-e-VEEL s’-fa-TA-yim yi-la-VAYT

Whoever winks the eye gives trouble, and a fool (by his lips) will fall.

The second part of this proverb is identical with 10:8b and does not create a contrast with the first part (as every other proverb in this chapter), thus prompting most commentators to adopt the LXX version: But whoever rebukes with boldness (i.e., candidly) makes peace (ὁ δὲ ἐλέγχων μετὰ παρρησίας εἰρηνοποιεῖ).

Although the first part has some similarities with Ben Sira 27:22a, Whoever has shifty eyes plots mischief, at issue here (assuming the LXX rendering of the second half) is candor (cf. Prov 27:5).

No one “enjoys” confrontation—I certainly don’t, but trying to be subtle or secretive when candid rebuke is what is called for serves no one well. The wise will know when to be silent but also when to speak the truth openly.


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