Proverbs 26:5
Parallel Verses
English Standard Version
Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes.

King James Bible
Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.

American Standard Version
Answer a fool according to his folly, Lest he be wise in his own conceit.

Douay-Rheims Bible
Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he imagine himself to be wise.

English Revised Version
Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.

Webster's Bible Translation
Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.

Proverbs 26:5 Parallel
Commentary
Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament

This verse, as it stands, is scarcely to be understood. The Venet. translates 27b literally: ἔρευνά τε δόξας αὐτῶν δόξα; but what is the reference of this כּבדם? Euchel and others refer it to men, for they translate: "to set a limit to the glory of man is true glory;" but the "glory of man" is denoted by the phrase כּבד אדם, not by כּבדם; and, besides, חקר does not mean measure and limit. Oetinger explains: "To eat too much honey is not good; whereas the searching after their glory, viz., of pleasant and praiseworthy things, which are likened to honey, is glory, cannot be too much done, and is never without utility and honour;" but how can כּבדם be of the same meaning as כּבד הדברים אשׁר or הנמשׁלים כּדּבשׁ - such an abbreviation of the expression is impossible. Schultens, according to Rashi: vestigatio gravitatis eorum est gravitas, i.e., the searching out of their difficulty is a trouble; better Vitringa (since כבוד nowhere occurs in this sense of gravitas molesta ac pondere oppressura): investigatio praestantiae eorum est gloriosa; but Vitringa, in order to gain a connection to 27a, needs to introduce etiamsi, and in both explanations the reference of the כּבדם is imaginary, and it by no means lies near, since the Scripture uses the word כבוד of God, and His kingdom and name, but never of His law or His revelation. Thus also is an argument against Bertheau, who translates: the searching out of their glory (viz., of the divine law and revelation) is a burden, a strenuous occupation of the mind, since חקר does not in itself mean searching out, and is equivocally, even unintelligibly, expressed, since כבוד denotes, it is true, here and there, a great multitude, but never a burden (as כּבד). The thought which Jerome finds in 27b: qui scrutator est majestatis opprimetur a gloria, is judicious, and connects itself synonym. with 27a; but such a thought is unwarranted, for he disregards the suff. of כּבדם, and renders כבוד in the sense of difficulty (oppression). Or should it perhaps be vocalized כּבדם (Syr., Targ., Theodotion, δεδοξασμένα equals נכבּדות)? Thus vocalized, Umbreit renders it in the sense of honores; Elster and Zckler in the sense of difficultates (difficilia); but this plur., neither the biblical, nor, so far as I know, the post-bibl. usage of the word has ever adopted. However, the sense of the proverb which Elster and Zckler gain is certainly that which is aimed at. We accordingly translate:

To surfeit oneself in eating honey is not good,

But as an inquirer to enter on what is difficult is honour.

We read כּבדם instead of כּבדם. This change commends itself far more than כּבד מכּבוד (וחקר), according to which Gesenius explains: nimium studium honoris est sine honore - impossible, for חקר does not signify nimium studium, in the sense of striving, but only that of inquiry: one strives after honour, but does not study it. Hitzig and Ewald, after the example of J. D. Michaelis, Arnoldi, and Ziegler, betake themselves therefore to the Arabic; Ewald explains, for he leaves the text unchanged: "To despise their honour (that is, of men) is honour (true, real honour);" Hitzig, for he changes the text like Gesenius: "To despise honour is more than honour," with the ingenious remark: To obtain an order [insigne ordinis] is an honour, but not to wear it then for the first time is its bouquet. Nowhere any trace either in Hebrew or in Aramaic is to be found of the verb חקר, to despise (to be despised), and so it must here remain without example.

(Note: The Hebrew meaning investigare, and the equivalent Arabic ḥaḳr, contemnere (contemtui esse), are derivations from the primary meaning (R. חק): to go down from above firmly on anything, and thus to press in (to cut in), or also to press downward.)

Nor have we any need of it. The change of כּבדם into כּבדם is enough. The proverb is an antithetic distich; 27a warns against inordinate longing after enjoyments, 27b praises earnest labour. Instead of דּבשׁ הרבּות, if honey in the mass were intended, the words would have been דּבשׁ הרבּה (Ecclesiastes 5:11; 1 Kings 10:10), or at least הרבּות דּבשׁ (Amos 4:9); הרבות can only be a n. actionis, and אכל דּבשׁ its inverted object (cf. Jeremiah 9:4), as Bttcher has discerned: to make much of the eating of honey, to do much therein is not good (cf. Proverbs 25:16). In 27b Luther also partly hits on the correct rendering: "and he who searches into difficult things, to him it is too difficult," for which it ought to be said: to him it is an honour. כּבדם, viz., דברים, signifies difficult things, as ריקים, Proverbs 12:11, vain things. The Heb. כּבד, however, never means difficult to be understood or comprehended (although more modern lexicons say this),

(Note: Cf. Sir. 3:20f. with Ben-Sira's Heb. text in my Gesch. der jd. Poesie, p. 204 (vv. 30-32); nowhere does this adj. כבד appears here in this warning against meditating over the transcendental.)

but always only burdensome and heavy, gravis, not difficilis. כבדם are also things of which the חקר, i.e., the fundamental searching into them (Proverbs 18:17; Proverbs 25:2.), costs an earnest effort, which perhaps, according to the first impression, appears to surpass the available strength (cf. Exodus 18:18). To overdo oneself in eating honey is not good; on the contrary, the searching into difficult subjects is nothing less than an eating of honey, but an honour. There is here a paronomasia. Fleischer translates it: explorare gravia grave est; but we render grave est not in the sense of molestiam creat, but gravitatem parit (weight equals respect, honour).

Proverbs 26:5 Parallel Commentaries

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

fool

1 Kings 22:24-28 But Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah went near, and smote Micaiah on the cheek, and said...

Jeremiah 36:17,18 And they asked Baruch, saying, Tell us now, How did you write all these words at his mouth...

Matthew 15:1-3 Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying...

Matthew 16:1-4 The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would show them a sign from heaven...

Matthew 21:23-27 And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said...

Matthew 22:15-32 Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk...

Luke 12:31-21 But rather seek you the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added to you...

Luke 13:23-30 Then said one to him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said to them...

John 8:7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said to them, He that is without sin among you...

John 9:26-33 Then said they to him again, What did he to you? how opened he your eyes...

Titus 1:13 This witness is true. Why rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith;

lest

Proverbs 26:12 See you a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him.

Proverbs 28:11 The rich man is wise in his own conceit; but the poor that has understanding searches him out.

Romans 11:25 For I would not, brothers, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own conceits...

conceit

Isaiah 5:21 Woe to them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!

Romans 12:16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.

Cross References
Matthew 16:1
And the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven.

Matthew 21:24
Jesus answered them, "I also will ask you one question, and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things.

Romans 12:16
Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.

Proverbs 3:7
Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.

Proverbs 26:6
Whoever sends a message by the hand of a fool cuts off his own feet and drinks violence.

Proverbs 26:12
Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.

Proverbs 28:11
A rich man is wise in his own eyes, but a poor man who has understanding will find him out.

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