Proverbs 21:14

14 A gift given in secret soothes anger, and a bribe concealed in the cloak pacifies great wrath.

Read Proverbs 21:14 Using Other Translations

A gift in secret pacifieth anger: and a reward in the bosom strong wrath.
A gift in secret averts anger, and a concealed bribe, strong wrath.
A secret gift calms anger; a bribe under the table pacifies fury.

What does Proverbs 21:14 mean?

John Gill's Exposition of the Bible
Proverbs 21:14

A gift in secret pacifieth anger
Appeases an angry man; humbles and "brings [his anger] down" F25, as Aben Ezra and Gersom observe the word signifies; which before rose very high, and showed itself in big words and disdainful looks, as proud wrath does; or extinguishes it, as the Targum and Vulgate Latin version render it, and very fitly. Anger is a fire in the breast; and a restraining or causing it to cease is properly expressed by an extinguishing of it: this a gift or present does, as it did in Esau from Jacob, in David from Abigail; but then it must be secretly given, otherwise it may more provoke; since it may show vanity in the giver, and covetousness in the receiver; and the former may have more honour than the latter. Some understand this of a gift for a bribe to a judge, to abate the severity of the sentence; and others of alms deeds to the poor, to pacify the anger of God F26: Jarchi interprets it of alms; and the Jews write this sentence upon the poor's box, understanding it in this sense; but the first sense is best; and a reward in the bosom strong wrath:
the same thing in different words; the meaning is, that a reward or gift, secretly conveyed into the bosom of an angry man, pacifies his wrath, when at the greatest height. The Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions, understand it in a quite different sense, of a gift retained in the bosom, and not given, and render it thus, "he that spareth gifts stirreth up strong wrath".


F25 (hpky) "deprimit", Piscator; so some in Mercerus; "subigit", Cocceius; "pensat nasum", Schultens.
F26 "Munera (crede mihi) placant hominesque deosque", Ovid. de Arte Amandi, l. 3.
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