A man that bears false witness against his neighbor is a maul, and a sword, and a sharp arrow.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)A maul—i.e., hammer, connected with “malleus” and “mallet.” A false witness is as mischievous as the most deadly weapons.Proverbs 25:18. A man that beareth false witness, &c., is a maul — Or, club, by which a man’s fame and character are beaten down to the ground. And a sword, and a sharp arrow — By his tongue he is as cruel and pernicious to his neighbour as any instrument of death: he destroys him, not only when he is near, as with a sword, but when he is afar off, as with a sharp arrow shot at him.
beareth … witness—literally, "answereth questions," as before a judge, against his neighbor.
is a maul, and a sword, and a sharp arrow; that is, to his neighbour, against whom he bears false witness; and, by so doing, he mauls his fame, his credit, character, and reputation; and, as with a sword, takes away his life; and against whom there is no more guarding than against a sharp arrow, that comes from afar, suddenly and swiftly.A man that beareth false witness against his neighbour is a maul, and a sword, and a sharp arrow.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)18. a maul] “i.e. a hammer, a variation of mall, from malleus … The Hebrew and English alike occur in Proverbs 25:18 only. But a derivative from the same root, and differing only slightly in form, is found in Jeremiah 51:20, and is there translated by ‘battle-axe’ (or maul, R.V. marg.)—how incorrectly is shown by the constant repetition of the verb derived from the same root in the next three verses, and there uniformly rendered ‘break in pieces’ … There is no doubt that some heavy warlike instrument, a mace or club, is alluded to; probably such as that which is said to have suggested the name of Charles Martel.… A similar word is found once again in the original of Ezekiel 9:2 = ‘weapon of smashing’ (A.V. and R.V. text, ‘slaughter-weapon).’ The sequel shows how terrible was the destruction such weapons could effect.”—Smith’s Dict. of Bible, Art. Maul. See note in this Series on Jeremiah 51:20.
It is difficult to see why in this and the following verse (though not in Proverbs 25:14, or Proverbs 25:26,) R.V. should have followed A.V. in inverting the order of the two clauses in the Hebrew.Verse 18. - Hebrew, A maul, and a sword, and a sharp arrow - a man that beareth false witness against his neighbour (see on Ver. 11). One who bears false witness against his neighbour prepares for him the instruments of death, such as those mentioned here. "A maul" (mephits), usually a heavy wooden hammer (compare malleus and "mallet"); here a club, or mace, used in battle, ῤόπαλον (Septuagint; comp. Jeremiah 51:20). There is a kind of climax in the three offensive weapons named - the club bruises, the sword inflicts wounds, the arrow pierces to the heart; and the three may represent the various baneful effects of false testimony, how it bruises reputation, spoils possessions, deprives of life. The second clause is from the Decalogue (Exodus 20:16).
A golden earring and an ornament of fine gold -
A wise preacher to an ear that heareth;
i.e., as the former two ornaments form a beautiful ensemble, so the latter two, the wise preacher of morality and an attentive ear, form a harmonious whole: על, down upon, is explained by Deuteronomy 32:2. נזם, at Proverbs 11:12, standing along with באף, meant a ring for the nose; but here, as elsewhere, it means an earring (lxx, Jerome, Venet.), translated by the Syr. and Targ. by קדשׁא, because it serves as a talisman. A ring for the nose
(Note: Vid., Gieger's Zeitschrift, 1872, pp. 45-48, where it is endeavoured to be shown that נזם, as an earring, is rejected from the later biblical literature, because it had become "an object used in the worship of idols," and that the word was used only of a ring for the nose as a permissible ornament, while עגיל was used for the earring. But that does not apply to the Solomonic era; for that, in the passage under review, נזם signifies a ring for the nose, is only a supposition of Geiger's, because it accords with his construction of history.)
cannot also be here thought of, because this ornament is an emblem of the attentive ear: willingly accepted chastisement or instruction is an ear-ornament to him who hears (Stier). But the gift of the wise preacher, which consists in rightly dividing the word of truth, 2 Timothy 2:15, is as an ornament for the neck or the breast חלי ( equals Arab. khaly, fem. חליה equals ḥilyt), of fine gold (כּתם, jewel, then particularly precious gold, from כּתם, Arab. katam, recondere).
(Note: Hitzig compares Arab. kumêt; but this means bayard, as Lagarde remarks, the Greek κόμαιθος; and if by כתם gold foxes (gold money) are to be thought of, yet they have nothing whatever to do with bayards (red-brown horses); cf. Beohmer, de colorum nominibus equinorum, in his Roman. Stud. Heft 2, 1872, p. 285.)
The Venet. well: κόσμος ἀπυροχρύσου (fine gold); on the contrary (perhaps in want of another name for gold), כתם is translated, by the lxx and Syr., by sardine; by the Targ., by emerald; and by Jerome, by margaritum.
(Note: Another Greek translates πίνωσις χρυσῆ. This πίνωσις is a philological mystery, the solution of which has been attempted by Bochart, Letronne, and Field.)
It looks well when two stand together, the one of whom has golden earrings, and the other wears a yet more precious golden necklace - such a beautiful mutual relationship is formed by a wise speaker and a hearer who listens to his admonitions.
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