Even a fool, when he holds his peace, is counted wise: and he that shuts his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Is counted wise, because he is sensible of his own folly, and therefore forbears to speak, lest he should discover it; which is a great point of true wisdom.
and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding; and keeps them shut, lest he should say anything rashly and hastily; a man that has so much command of himself as not to speak unadvisedly, through the heat of his own passions, and through the provocations of others, will pass for a man that understands himself, and knows how to behave well before others.Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)28. he that shutteth &c.] Or, with R.V. text, when he (i.e. the fool of the former clause of the verse) shutteth … he is esteemed as prudent. Mr Horton (Book of Proverbs, p. 177) quotes the old Norse proverb,
“An unwise man when he comes among the people
Had best be silent: no one knows
That he nothing knows, unless he talks too much.”Verse 28. - Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise. Not betraying his ignorance and incapacity by words, a foolish man is credited with possessing sense (comp. Job 13:5). Proverbs to this effect are found in all languages. Thus the Greek -
Πᾶς τις ἀπαίδευτος φρονιμώτατος ἐστὶ σιωπῶν. Cato, 'Dist.,' 1:3 -
"Virtutem primam esse puta compescere linguam;
Proximus ille Deo qui scit ratione tacere." Talmud, "Silence becomes the wise, much more feels." The Dutch have appropriated this maxim, "Zweigen de dwazen zij waren wijs, .... Were fools silent, they would pass for wise." "Si tacuisses, philosophus mansisses." "Silence," says the Sanskrit gnome, "is the ornament of the ignorant." "Talking comes by nature," say the Germans, "silence of understanding." The LXX. gives a different turn to the first clause: "A foolish man inquiring of wisdom will have wisdom imputed to him;" the expressed desire of knowledge will be taken as a proof of intelligence. The second clause is coordinate with the former. He that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding; Revised Version, when he shutteth his lips, he is esteemed as prudent; Septuagint, "A man making himself dumb will seem to be prudent." Theophrastus is said to have thus addressed a guest who was very silent at table: "If you are a fool, you act wisely; if you are wise, you act foolishly." "Let every man," says St. James (James 1:19), "be swift to hear, slow to speak."
And a broken spirit drieth the bones.
The heart is the centre of the individual life, and the condition and the tone of the heart communicates itself to this life, even to its outermost circumference; the spirit is the power of self-consciousness which, according as it is lifted up or broken, also lifts up or breaks down the condition of the body (Psychol. p. 199), vid., the similar contrasted phrases לב שׂמח and רוּח נכאה, Proverbs 15:13. The ἄπ. λεγ. גּהה (here and there in Codd. incorrectly written גּיהה) has nothing to do with the Arab. jihat, which does not mean sight, but direction, and is formed from wjah (whence wajah, sight), like עדה, congregation, from ועד (יעד). The Syr., Targ. (perhaps also Symmachus: ἀγαθύνει ἡλικίαν; Jerome: aetatem floridam facit; Luther: makes the life lstig [cheerful]) translate it by body; but for this גּוה (גּויּה) is used, and that is a word of an entirely different root from גּהה. To what verb this refers is shown by Hosea 5:13 : ולא־יגהה מכּם מזור, and healed not for you her ulcerous wound. מזור is the compress, i.e., the bandage closing up the ulcer, then also the ulcer-wound itself; and גּהה is the contrary of עלה, e.g., Jeremiah 8:22; it means the removing of the bandage and the healing of the wound. This is confirmed by the Syr. gho, which in like manner is construed with min, and means to be delivered from something (vid., Bernstein's Lex. Syr. to Kirsch's Chrestomathie). The Aethiop. quadriliteral gâhgěh, to hinder, to cause to cease, corresponds to the causative Syr. agahish. Accordingly גּהה means to be in the condition of abatement, mitigation, healing; and גּהה (as synonym of כּהה, Nehemiah 3:19, with which Parchon combines it), levamen, levatio, in the sense of bodily healing (lxx εὐεκτεῖν ποιεῖ; Venet., after Kimchi, ἀγαθυνεῖ θεραπείαν); and היטיב גּהה (cf. Proverbs 15:2) denotes, to bring good improvement, to advance powerfully the recovery. Schultens compares the Arab. jahy, nitescere, disserenari, as Menahem has done ננהּ, but this word is one of the few words which are explained exclusively from the Syriac (and Aethiop.). גּרם (here and at Proverbs 25:15) is the word interchanging with עצם, Proverbs 15:30; Proverbs 16:24.
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