Proverbs 17:14

14 Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.

Proverbs 17:14 in Other Translations

14 The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water: therefore leave off contention, before it be meddled with.
14 The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so quit before the quarrel breaks out.
14 Starting a quarrel is like opening a floodgate, so stop before a dispute breaks out.
14 The start of a quarrel is like a leak in a dam, so stop it before it bursts.
14 To start a conflict is to release a flood; stop the dispute before it breaks out.

Proverbs 17:14 Meaning and Commentary

Proverbs 17:14

The beginning of strife [is as] when one letteth out water,
&c.] As when a man makes a little hole in the bank of a river, or cuts a small passage in it, to let the water into an adjoining field; by the force of the water, the passage is widened, and it flows in, in great abundance, to the overflow and prejudice of the field; nor is it easily stopped: so a single word, spoken in anger, with some warmth, or in a way of contradiction, has been the beginning and occasion of great strife and contention. The words in the Hebrew text lie thus; "he that letteth out water [is] the beginning of strife" F15; which some understand of letting out water into another man's field, which occasions contentions, quarrels, and lawsuits; but the former sense is best: the Targum is,

``he that sheddeth blood as water stirreth up strifes;''
therefore leave off contention, before it be meddled with;
cease from it as soon as begun; leave it off before it is well entered: or "before one mixes himself" F16 with it, or is implicated with it; got so far into it, that it will be difficult to get out of it: or "before thou strivest with any openly"; which sense the word has in the Arabic language, as Schultens F17 observes; that is, before you come to open words and blows, put an end to the contention; do not suffer it to proceed so far; since it cannot be known what will be the consequence of it: or rather, leave it off, as the same learned writer in his later thoughts, in his commentary on the place, by the help of Arabism, also renders it, "before the teeth are made bare": or shown, in quarrelling, brawling, reproaching, in wrath and anger.

F15 (Nwrm tyvar Mym rjwp) "qui aperit aquam, vel aperiens aquas (est) principium contentionis", Pagninus, Montanus.
F16 (elgth ynpl) "antequam sese immisceat", Junius & Tremellius.
F17 Animadv. p. 931.

Proverbs 17:14 In-Context

12 Better to meet a bear robbed of her cubs than a fool bent on folly.
13 Evil will never leave the house of one who pays back evil for good.
14 Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.
15 Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent— the LORD detests them both.
16 Why should fools have money in hand to buy wisdom, when they are not able to understand it?

Cross References 1

  • 1. Matthew 5:25-26; Proverbs 20:3
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