The Bible – Old Testament
1 Like snow in summer, or rain in harvest, honor for a fool is out of place.
Like the sparrow in its flitting, like the swallow in its flight, a curse uncalled-for arrives nowhere.
The whip for the horse, the bridle for the ass, and the rod for the back of fools.
2 Answer not the fool according to his folly, lest you too become like him.
Answer the fool according to his folly, lest he become wise in his own eyes.
He cuts off his feet, he drinks down violence, who sends messages by a fool.
3 A proverb in the mouth of a fool hangs limp, like crippled legs.
Like one who entangles the stone in the sling is he who gives honor to a fool.
Like a thorn stick brandished by the hand of a drunkard is a proverb in the mouth of fools.
Like an archer wounding all who pass by is he who hires a drunken fool.
As the dog returns to his vomit, so the fool repeats his folly.
You see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.
The sluggard says, «There is a lion in the street, a lion in the middle of the square!»
The door turns on its hinges, the sluggard, on his bed!
The sluggard loses his hand in the dish; he is too weary to lift it to his mouth.
The sluggard imagines himself wiser than seven men who answer with good sense.
Like the man who seizes a passing dog by the ears is he who meddles in a quarrel not his own.
Like a crazed archer scattering firebrands and deadly arrows
Is the man who deceives his neighbor, and then says, «I was only joking.»
For lack of wood, the fire dies out; and when there is no talebearer, strife subsides.
What a bellows is to live coals, what wood is to fire, such is a contentious man in enkindling strife.
The words of a talebearer are like dainty morsels that sink into one’s inmost being.
Like a glazed finish on earthenware are smooth lips with a wicked heart.
With his lips an enemy pretends, but in his inmost being he maintains deceit;
4 When he speaks graciously, trust him not, for seven abominations are in his heart.
A man may conceal hatred under dissimulation, but his malice will be revealed in the assembly.
He who digs a pit falls into it; and a stone comes back upon him who rolls it.
The lying tongue is its owner’s enemy, and the flattering mouth works ruin.
1 [1-28] Concrete images describe the vices of fools (⇒ Proverb 26:1-12), of sluggards (⇒ Proverb 26:13-16), of meddlers (⇒ Proverb 26:17-19), of talebearers (⇒ Proverb 26:20-22), and of flatterers (⇒ Proverb 26:23-28).
2 [4-5] There is no contradiction between these two proverbs. In any answer the wise man gives he must protect his own interest against the fool.
3 [7-9] The fool abuses whatever knowledge he possesses.
4  Seven abominations: many evil intentions.