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To begin with, whoever heeds the instructions is prevented from becoming an enemy. If these instructions are followed then one cannot act like an enemy. When this attitude actually encounters an enemy it results in a refusal to respond in kind.

Do not say, "I will repay (hmlwx) evil";

wait for Yahweh, and he will help you. Proverbs 20:22

Do not say, "I will do to him as he has done to me (lv-hWfx Nk yl-hWf rwxk);

I will pay the man back (bywx) for

what he has done." Proverbs 24:29

Do not rejoice (Hmw) when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad (lyg)

when he stumbles; lest Yahweh see it, and be displeased, and turn away his anger from him. Proverbs 24:17-18

This refusal to engage in enemy behavior precludes the establishment of a cycle of hostility. Hostility cannot be met, with hostility. This response of non-aggression is much more than a way of simply avoiding conflict. By renouncing enemy behavior as an appropriate way of life the wise hold open the possibility of repentance, even for one already acting like an enemy.

If you have been foolish, exalting yourself, or if you have been devising evil, put your hand on your mouth. 2

2

V 32bb reads simply hpl-dy, "(the) hand to (the)

mouth"; the verb is understood, and the 2nd person pronoun is implied by the context. McKane, pp. 260, 664-665,

197

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