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Gifts work wonders. Several meshalim speak of the amazing power of a "bribe" (dHvw) or "gift" (Ntm) in

bringing security. It is a "magic stone" and brings its giver prosperity (lykwy).18 Indeed,

Many seek the favor of a generous man, and everyone is a friend to a man who

gives gifts (Ntm). Proverbs 19:6

A man's gift (Ntm) makes room for him

and brings him before great men. Proverbs 18:16

More than simply bringing prosperity, winning friends and influencing people, however, the bribe is effective within the context of anger (jx), even excessive anger

(hzf hmH).

A gift (Ntm) in secret averts anger; and a bribe (dHvw) in the bosom,

strong wrath. Proverbs 21:14

This knowledge of the effectiveness of a bribe is applicable when the wicked are responsible for the administration of justice (17:23). In that situation, a bribe may well be one's only tangible assurance of a favorable decision.

Even "magic stones," however, have limits. Bribes are ineffective in dealing with the husband of a man's partner in adultery.

18

17:8 (RSV).

297

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