Proverbs 17:27
He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit.
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(27) He that hath knowledge . . .—This verse will better be rendered, He that restrains his words hath knowledge, and one who is cool of temper is a man of understanding. The avoidance of rash speech and hasty temper is here advised.

Proverbs 17:27-28. He that hath knowledge spareth — Hebrew, חושׂךְ, restraineth, his words — As at other times, so especially when he is under a provocation to anger or any other passion, in which case fools utter all their minds. And a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit — Which he shows, as in various other things, so by commanding his passions, and bridling himself from hasty and unadvised speeches. But this is according to the marginal reading of the Masora; but the reading of the Hebrew text is, קר, cool, according to which, the sense of the clause is, a man of understanding is of a cool spirit, calm and moderate, not easily provoked, humble, as the Chaldee renders it, μακροθυμος, patient, or long- suffering, as the LXX. and Arabic interpreters render the words. Even a fool, when he holds his peace, is counted wise — Because he is sensible of his folly, and therefore forbears to speak lest he should discover it, which is one point of true wisdom. If a fool hold his peace, men of candour will think him wise, because nothing appears to the contrary, and because it will be thought he is making observations on what others say, and gaining experience, or consulting with himself what he should say, that he may speak pertinently. Thus, he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding — He gains the reputation of being a wise man, on the easy condition of restraining his tongue, or, of hearing, and seeing, and saying little.

17:19. If we would keep a clear conscience and a quiet mind, we must shun all excitements to anger. And a man who affects a style of living above his means, goes the way to ruin. 20. There is nothing got by ill designs. And many have paid dear for an unbridled tongue. 21. This speaks very plainly what many wise and good men feel very strongly, how grievous it is to have a foolish, wicked child. 22. It is great mercy that God gives us leave to be cheerful, and cause to be cheerful, if by his grace he gives us hearts to be cheerful. 23. The wicked are ready to part with their money, though loved, that they may not suffer for their crimes. 24. The prudent man keeps the word of God continually in view. But the foolish man cannot fix his thoughts, nor pursue any purpose with steadiness. 25. Wicked children despise the authority of their father, and the tenderness of their mother. 26. It is very wrong to find fault for doing what is duty. 27,28. A man may show himself to be a wise man, by the good temper of his mind, and by the good government of his tongue. He is careful when he does speak, to speak to the purpose. God knows his heart, and the folly that is bound there; therefore he cannot be deceived in his judgment as men may be.Better, A man of calm (or noble) spirit is a man of understanding. 27, 28. Prudence of speech is commended as is an excellent or calm spirit, not excited to vain conversation. Spareth, Heb. restraineth, as at other times, so especially when he is provoked to passion, in which case fools utter all their mind. An excellent spirit; which he showeth by commanding his passions, and bridling himself from hasty and unadvised speeches. Or, as others render it, is of a cool spirit, calm and moderate, not easily provoked; humble, as the Chaldee renders it; patient or long-suffering, as the LXX. and Arabic interpreters render the words. Or, as others, sparing (Heb. precious, which is put for rare or scarce, 1 Samuel 3:1 Proverbs 25:17 Isaiah 13:12) of his breath, i.e. of his speech, as this very word is used, Proverbs 29:11 Isaiah 11:4, compared with 2 Thessalonians 2:8.

He that hath knowledge spareth his words,.... Or, "he that knows knowledge" (c); one that is very knowing, has a fund of knowledge in him, "spareth his words"; is generally a man of few words, he thinks much and says little; and though he may be communicative of his knowledge to proper persons, and at proper times, yet never speaks of it in a boasting and ostentatious way: or, he "restrains his words" (d); he puts a bridle on them; and suffers not himself to speak hastily and angrily, and in a reproachful manner, when he is provoked to it;

and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit; here is a various reading; the "Cetib" is "of a cool spirit" (e); in opposition to a warm fiery spirit; such as was that of the apostles, who were for calling for fire from heaven on those that slighted their master, and, as he told them, knew not what spirits they were of; but a cool spirit is one that is not soon angry, calm, sedate, and not easily provoked to wrath: the "Keri", or marginal reading, is "of an excellent" or "precious spirit" (f); and such an one is a right spirit; a spirit of faith and love, and of a sound mind; and of such a spirit is a man of understanding in things divine and spiritual; to have a spirit of prayer, and to be tenderhearted, and of a sympathizing and forgiving spirit, is to be of an excellent spirit. The Targum is,

"humble in spirit;''

and a meek and quiet spirit is in the sight of God of great price; the Lord has a great regard to such who are of an humble and contrite spirit: with these he dwells, to these he gives more grace; these are like to Christ, and have the fruits of his Spirit, and are very useful and ornamental. The Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions render it, "patient" or "longsuffering"; and to be of a patient spirit is to be of an excellent spirit: such bear afflictions and reproaches quietly; wait God's own time for hearing and helping them, and live in the comfortable expectation of heaven and happiness; and such show themselves to be wise and understanding men.

(c) "qui scit scientiam", Pagninus, Vatablus, Mercerus. (d) "qui cohibet sermones suos", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. (e) "frigidus spiritu", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius. (f) "pretiosus spiritu", Pagninus, Montanus, Mercerus, Gejerus, Baynus.

He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit.
27. excellent] Rather, cool, A.V. marg. and R.V.; μακρόθυμος ἀνὴρ, LXX.

It is better with LXX. and R.V. to invert the order of subject and predicate in this verse and render:

He that spareth his words hath knowledge:

And he that is of a cool spirit is a man of understanding.

Verse 27. - He that hath knowledge spareth his words; Revised Version, he that spareth his words hath knowledge; he shows his common sense, not by rash talk or saying all he knows, but by restraining his tongue (comp. Proverbs 10:19; James 1:19). 'Pirke Aboth' (1:18), "All my days I have grown up amongst the wise, and have not found aught good for a man but silence; not learning but doing is the groundwork, and whoso multiplies words occasions sin" Say the Greek gnomes -

Ἐνίοις τὸ σιγᾷν ἐστὶ κρεῖττον τοῦ λέγειν
Κρεῖττον σιωπᾷν η} λαλεῖν α} μὴ πρέπει And Theognis (5:815) writes -

Βοῦς μοι ἐπὶ γλώσσης κρατερῷ ποδὶ λὰξ ἐπιβαίνων
Ἴσχει κωτίλλειν καίπερ ἐπιστάμενον Speech for a shekel, silence for two; it is like a precious stone ('Qoheleth Rabbah,' 5:5). Septuagint, "He who spareth to utter a harsh speech is prudent" (ἐπιγνώμων). A man of understanding is of an excellent spirit; Revised Version, he that is of a coot spirit is a man of understanding; i.e. he who considers before he speaks, and never answers in hot haste, proves that he is wise and intelligent. Septuagint, "The long suffering man is prudent." The above is the reading of the Khetib, followed by most interpreters. The Keri gives, "of a precious spirit" (pretiosi spiritus, Vulgate), that is, one whose words are weighty and valuable, not lavishly thrown about, but reserved as costly jewels. Proverbs 17:2727 He that keepeth his words to himself hath knowledge,

     And the cool of temper is a man of understanding.

The first line here is a variation of Proverbs 10:19. The phrase ידע דּעת (here and at Daniel 1:4) means to possess knowledge (novisse); more frequently it is בּינה ידע, e.g., Proverbs 4:1, where ידע has the inchoative sense of noscere. In 27b the Kerı̂ is יקר־רוח. Jerome translates it pretiosi spiritus, the Venet. τίμιος τὸ πνεῦμα. Rashi glosses יקר here, as at 1 Samuel 3:1, by מנוע (thus to be read after codd.), retentus spiritu; most interpreters remark that the spirit here comes into view as expressing itself in words. It is scarcely correct to say that יקר דּברים could designate one who is sparing in his words, but יקר־רוּח is, according to the fundamental conception of the verb יקר, gravis spiritu (Schultens), of a dignified, composed spirit; it is a quiet seriousness proceeding from high conscientiousness, and maintaining itself in self-control, which is designated by this word. But the Chethı̂b וקר־רוּח presents almost the same description of character. קר from קרר (of the same root as יקר) means to be firm, unmoveable, καρτερὸν εἶναι, hence to be congealed, frozen, cold (cf. frigus with rigere, rigor), figuratively to be cold-blooded, passionless, quiet, composed (Fl.); cf. post-bibl. קרת רוּח (Arab. ḳurrat‛ain), cooling equals refreshing, ἀνάψυξις (Acts 3:20).

(Note: "He has made my eye glowing" (askhn, cf. שׁחין) is in Arab. equivalent to "he has deeply troubled me." The eye of the benevolent is bârid, and in the Semitic manner of expression, with deep psychological significance, it is said that the tears of sorrow are hot, but those of joy cold.)

Whether we read יקר or קר, in any case we are not to translate rarus spiritu, which, apart from the impossibility of the expression, makes 27b almost a tautological repetition of the thought of 27a. The first line recommends bridling of the tongue, in contrast to inconsiderate and untimely talk; the second line recommends coldness, i.e., equanimity of spirit, in contrast to passionate heat.

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