Proverbs 17:14
Parallel Verses
New International Version
Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.

New Living Translation
Starting a quarrel is like opening a floodgate, so stop before a dispute breaks out.

English Standard Version
The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so quit before the quarrel breaks out.

New American Standard Bible
The beginning of strife is like letting out water, So abandon the quarrel before it breaks out.

King James Bible
The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water: therefore leave off contention, before it be meddled with.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
To start a conflict is to release a flood; stop the dispute before it breaks out.

International Standard Version
Starting a quarrel is like spilling water— so drop the dispute before it escalates.

NET Bible
Starting a quarrel is like letting out water; stop it before strife breaks out!

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
He that sheds blood provokes judgment before a Ruler.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
Starting a quarrel is [like] opening a floodgate, so stop before the argument gets out of control.

Jubilee Bible 2000
To release the waters (to speak rashly) is the beginning of contention; therefore, leave off strife before it gets started.

King James 2000 Bible
The beginning of strife is like releasing water: therefore leave off contention, before a quarrel starts.

American King James Version
The beginning of strife is as when one lets out water: therefore leave off contention, before it be meddled with.

American Standard Version
The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water: Therefore leave off contention, before there is quarrelling.

Douay-Rheims Bible
The beginning of quarrels is as when one letteth out water: before he suffereth reproach he forsaketh judgment.

Darby Bible Translation
The beginning of contention is [as] when one letteth out water; therefore leave off strife before it become vehement.

English Revised Version
The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water: therefore leave off contention, before there be quarrelling.

Webster's Bible Translation
The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water: therefore withdraw from contention, before it be meddled with.

World English Bible
The beginning of strife is like breaching a dam, therefore stop contention before quarreling breaks out.

Young's Literal Translation
The beginning of contention is a letting out of waters, And before it is meddled with leave the strife.
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

17:8. Those who set their hearts upon money, will do any thing for it. What influence should the gifts of God have on our hearts! 9. The way to preserve peace is to make the best of every thing; not to notice what has been said or done against ourselves. 10. A gentle reproof will enter, not only into the head, but into the heart of a wise man. 11. Satan, and the messengers of Satan, shall be let loose upon an evil man. 12. Let us watch over our own passions, and avoid the company of furious men. 13. To render evil for good is devilish. He that does so, brings a curse upon his family. 14. What danger there is in the beginning of strife! Resist its earliest display; and leave it off, if it were possible, before you begin. 15. It is an offence to God to acquit the guilty, or to condemn those who are not guilty. 16. Man's neglect of God's favour and his own interest is very absurd. 17. No change of outward circumstances should abate our affection for our friends or relatives. But no friend, except Christ, deserves unlimited confidence. In Him this text did receive, and still receives its most glorious fulfilment. 18. Let not any wrong their families. Yet Christ's becoming Surety for men, was a glorious display of Divine wisdom; for he was able to discharge the bond.

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 14. - The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water. The small rift in the bank of a reservoir of water, if not immediately secured, is soon enlarged and gets beyond control, occasioning widespread ruin and destruction; so from small and insignificant causes, which might at first have been easily checked, arise feuds and quarrels which extend in a wide circle, and cannot be appeased. Palestine was largely dependent upon its reservoirs for the storage of water, perennial springs being of rare occurrence. The three pools of Solomon in the neighbourhood of Bethlehem, which were connected by channels with Jerusalem, are still to be seen in all their massive grandeur; and, indeed, every town had its reservoir, or tank, as we find in India at the present time. These receptacles had to be kept in good repair, or disastrous consequences might ensue. On the tendency of a quarrel to grow to a dangerous extent, a Bengal proverb speaks of "going in a needle and coming out a ploughshare." Vulgate, Qui dimittit aquam, caput est jurgiorum, which seems to mean that the man who needlessly lets the water of a cistern run to waste gives occasion to quarrels. But St. Gregory ('Moral.,' 5:13), commenting on the passage, interprets differently: "It is well said by Solomon, 'He that letteth out water is a head of strife.' For the water is let out when the flowing of the tongue is let loose. And he that letteth out water is made the beginning of strife, in that, by the incontinency of the lips, the commencement of discord is afforded" (Oxford transl.). Probably, however, in the Latin, as in the Hebrew, the particle of comparison is suppressed, so that the clause means, "As he who lets out water, so is he who gives occasion to strife." Therefore leave off contention, before it be meddled with. The last word חַתְלַֺגּלַּע is of doubtful interpretation. It occurs in Proverbs 18:1 and Proverbs 20:3, and is variously translated, "before it rushes forward," "before it grows warm," "before a man becomes wrathful." But Hitzig, Nowaek, and others take it to signify, "before men show their teeth," like angry dogs snarling at one another. The moralist advises men to subdue angry passions at once before they become exacerbated. The Vulgate seems to have quite mistaken the clause, translating, Antequam patiatur contumeliam, judicium deserit, which seems to mean that a patient, peace-loving man (in contrast with the irascible) avoids lawsuits before he is involved in a lasting quarrel. Septuagint, "The beginning (ἀρχὴ) of justice gives power to words; but discord and contention lead the way to want." The Greek commentators see here an allusion to the clepsydra, the water clock which regulated the length of the speeches in a court of law; but the reference is by no means clear.

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water,.... As when a man makes a little hole in the bank of a river, or cuts a small passage in it, to let the water into an adjoining field; by the force of the water, the passage is widened, and it flows in, in great abundance, to the overflow and prejudice of the field; nor is it easily stopped: so a single word, spoken in anger, with some warmth, or in a way of contradiction, has been the beginning and occasion of great strife and contention. The words in the Hebrew text lie thus; "he that letteth out water is the beginning of strife" (o); which some understand of letting out water into another man's field, which occasions contentions, quarrels, and lawsuits; but the former sense is best: the Targum is,

"he that sheddeth blood as water stirreth up strifes;''

therefore leave off contention, before it be meddled with; cease from it as soon as begun; leave it off before it is well entered: or "before one mixes himself" (p) with it, or is implicated with it; got so far into it, that it will be difficult to get out of it: or "before thou strivest with any openly"; which sense the word has in the Arabic language, as Schultens (q) observes; that is, before you come to open words and blows, put an end to the contention; do not suffer it to proceed so far; since it cannot be known what will be the consequence of it: or rather, leave it off, as the same learned writer in his later thoughts, in his commentary on the place, by the help of Arabism, also renders it, "before the teeth are made bare": or shown, in quarrelling, brawling, reproaching, in wrath and anger.

(o) "qui aperit aquam, vel aperiens aquas (est) principium contentionis", Pagninus, Montanus. (p) "antequam sese immisceat", Junius & Tremellius. (q) Animadv. p. 931.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

14. letteth … water—as a breach in a dam.

before … meddled with—before strife has become sharp, or, by an explanation better suiting the figure, before it rolls on, or increases.

Proverbs 17:14 Additional Commentaries
Context
Better a Dry Morsel with Quietness
13He who returns evil for good, Evil will not depart from his house. 14The beginning of strife is like letting out water, So abandon the quarrel before it breaks out. 15He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous, Both of them alike are an abomination to the LORD.…
Cross References
1 Thessalonians 4:11
and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you,

Proverbs 20:3
It is to one's honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.

Proverbs 25:8
do not bring hastily to court, for what will you do in the end if your neighbor puts you to shame?
Treasury of Scripture

The beginning of strife is as when one lets out water: therefore leave off contention, before it be meddled with.

beginning

Proverbs 17:19 He loves transgression that loves strife: and he that exalts his …

Proverbs 26:21 As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious …

Proverbs 29:22 An angry man stirs up strife, and a furious man abounds in transgression.

Judges 12:1-6 And the men of Ephraim gathered themselves together, and went northward, …

2 Samuel 2:14-17 And Abner said to Joab, Let the young men now arise, and play before …

2 Samuel 19:41-43 And, behold, all the men of Israel came to the king, and said to …

2 Samuel 20:1 And there happened to be there a man of Belial, whose name was Sheba, …

2 Chronicles 10:14-16 And answered them after the advice of the young men, saying, My father …

2 Chronicles 13:17 And Abijah and his people slew them with a great slaughter: so there …

2 Chronicles 25:17-24 Then Amaziah king of Judah took advice, and sent to Joash, the son …

2 Chronicles 28:6 For Pekah the son of Remaliah slew in Judah an hundred and twenty …

leave

Proverbs 13:10 Only by pride comes contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.

Proverbs 14:29 He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is …

Proverbs 15:1 A soft answer turns away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.

Proverbs 16:32 He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that rules …

Proverbs 19:11 The discretion of a man defers his anger; and it is his glory to …

Proverbs 20:3 It is an honor for a man to cease from strife: but every fool will be meddling.

Proverbs 25:8 Go not forth hastily to strive, lest you know not what to do in the …

Genesis 13:8,9 And Abram said to Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray you, between …

Judges 8:1-3 And the men of Ephraim said to him, Why have you served us thus, …

Ecclesiastes 7:8,9 Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the …

Matthew 5:39-41 But I say to you, That you resist not evil: but whoever shall smite …

Acts 6:1-5 And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, …

Acts 15:2 When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation …

Romans 12:18 If it be possible, as much as lies in you, live peaceably with all men.

1 Thessalonians 4:11 And that you study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and …

2 Timothy 2:23,24 But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do engender …

James 3:14-18 But if you have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, …

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