Proverbs 18:17
He that is first in his own cause seemeth just; but his neighbour cometh and searcheth him.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(17) He that is first in his own cause seemeth just.—A man who tells his own story can make a good case for himself out of it, “but his neighbour” (i.e., his adversary in the suit) “cometh and searcheth him,” sifts his statements, and shows them to be untenable.

Proverbs 18:17. He that is first in his own cause — He that first pleadeth his cause; seemeth just — Both to himself, and to the judge, or court, by his fair pretences; but his neighbour cometh — To contend with him in judgment, and to plead his cause; and searcheth him — Examineth the truth and weight of his allegations, disproveth them, and detecteth the weakness of his cause.

18:17. It is well to listen to our enemies, that we may form a better judgment of ourselves. 18. It was customary sometimes to refer matters to God, by casting lots, with solemn prayer. The profaning the lot, by using it in matters of diversion, or coveting what belongs to others, forms an objection to this now.A protest against another fault in judging. Haste is hardly less evil than corruption. "Audi alteram partern "should be the rule of every judge.

His neighbor - The other party to the suit "searcheth," i. e., scrutinizes and detects him.

17. One-sided statements are not reliable.

searcheth—thoroughly (Pr 17:9, 19).

He that is first in his own cause, he that first pleadeth his cause,

seemeth just, both to himself and to the judge or court, by his fair pretences.

His neighbour cometh, to contend with him in judgment and to plead his cause,

and searcheth him; examineth the truth and weight of his allegations, and disproveth them, and detecteth his weakness. Or, discovers him; for seeking or searching are oft put for finding, as Proverbs 17:9,19, and elsewhere.

He that is first in his own cause seemeth just,.... As perhaps Tertullus did, before Paul made his defence; and as Ziba, Mephibosheth's servant, before his master detected him: this often appears true in telling a tale, in private conversation, in lawsuits before a judge and a court of judicature, and in theological controversies;

but his neighbour cometh, and searcheth him; his neighbour comes into the house, where he is telling his tale, and reports it in another manner, and shows the falsehood of his relation; or he comes into a court of judicature, and sets the cause in quite another light; or he comes out into the worm by public writing, and exposes the errors of a man engaged in a wrong cause, and refutes his arguments. It is generally understood of judicial affairs, that the first that opens a cause is very apt to prejudice the judge and court in his favour, and they are ready to thing at first hearing that he is in the right; but it is not proper to be hasty in forming a judgment till the other side is heard; for his antagonist comes and traverses the point, unravels the whole affair, shows the weakness of his cause, the vanity of his pretences, and makes void all his allegations; and then "he", the judge, so some interpret it, "searcheth"; inquires more narrowly into the case, in order to find out truth, and pass a right judgment and sentence.

{k} He that is first in his own cause seemeth just; but his neighbour cometh and searcheth him.

(k) He who speaks first, is best heard from the wicked judge, but when his adversary enquires out the matter it turns to his shame.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
17. in his own cause] i.e. in pleading, or stating it. You must wait to hear the other side, the “neighbour’s searching out,” if you would come at the truth. Audi alteram partem is the gist of the proverb.

Verse 17. - He that is first in his own cause seemeth just; Revised Version, he that pleadeth his cause first seemeth just. A man who tells his own story, and is the first to open his case before the judge or a third party, seems tot the moment to have justice on his side. But his neighbour cometh and searcheth him out (Proverbs 28:11). The "neighbour" is the opposing party - ὁ ἀντίδικος Septuagint, which recalls Matthew 5:25 - he sifts and scrutinizes the statements already given, shows them to be erroneous, or weakens the evidence which appeared to support them. Thus the maxims, "One story is good till the other is told," and "Audi alteram partem," receive confirmation. Vulgate, Justus prior est accusator sui. So Septuagint, "The righteous is his own accuser in opening the suit (ἐν πρωτολογίᾳ)." He cuts the ground from under the adversary's feet by at once owning his fault. St. Gregory more than once, in his 'Moralia,' adduces this rendering. Thus on Job 7:11, "To put the mouth to labour is to employ it in the confession of sin done, but the righteous man doth not refrain his mouth, in that, forestalling the wrath of the searching Judge, he falls wroth upon himself in words of self-confession. Hence it is written, 'The just man is first the accuser of himself'" (so lib. 22:33). Proverbs 18:1717 He that is first in his controversy is right;

     But there cometh another and searcheth him thoroughly -

an exhortation to be cautious in a lawsuit, and not to justify without more ado him who first brings forward his cause, and supports it by reasons, since, if the second party afterwards search into the reasons of the first, they show themselves untenable. הראשׁון בּריבו are to be taken together; the words are equivalent to אשׁר יבא בריבו בראשׁונה: qui prior cum causa sua venit, i.e., eam ad judicem defert (Fl.). הראשׁון may, however, also of itself alone be qui prior venit; and בריבו will be taken with צדיק: justus qui prior venit in causa sua (esse videtur). The accentuation rightly leaves the relation undecided. Instead of יבא (יבא) the Kerı̂ has וּבא, as it elsewhere, at one time, changes the fut. into the perf. with ו (e.g., Proverbs 20:4; Jeremiah 6:21); and, at another time, the perf. with ו into the fut. (e.g., Psalm 10:10; Isaiah 5:29). But here, where the perf. consec. is not so admissible, as Proverbs 6:11; Proverbs 20:4, the fut. ought to remain unchanged. רעהוּ is the other part, synon. with בעל דין חברו, Sanhedrin 7b, where the אזהרה לבית־דין (admonition for the court of justice) is derived from Deuteronomy 1:16, to hear the accused at the same time with the accuser, that nothing of the latter may be adopted beforehand. This proverb is just such an audiatur et altera pars. The status controversiae is only brought fairly into the light by the hearing of the altera pars: then comes the other and examines him (the first) to the very bottom. חקר, elsewhere with the accus. of the thing, e.g., ריב ,., thoroughly to search into a strife, Job 29:16, is here, as at Job 28:11, connected with the accus. of the person: to examine or lay bare any one thoroughly; here, so that the misrepresentations of the state of the matter might come out to view along with the reasons assigned by the accuser.

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