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simply an institutionalized form of controversy. Its goal is to remove the adversary proceedings from the common daily life of the community so that they can be dealt with in a relatively safe environment and the participants reinte- grated into the life of the community.94 To avoid legal proceedings, therefore, is to avoid the unpleasant reality of friends acting as adversaries.

What your eyes have seen do not hastily bring into court; for what will you do in the end, when your neighbor puts you to shame? Argue your case with your neighbor himself, and do not disclose another's secret; lest he who hears you bring shame upon you, and your ill repute have no end. Proverbs 25:7c-10

Another observation notes that one's case always looks good at first, but the cross-examination of a friend poses a nameless hazard.

He who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him. Proverbs 18:17

A final opportunity for a shift from friendship to enmity should be mentioned. One admonition warns against too much "neighborliness," lest one's welcome be exhausted.

Let your foot be seldom in your neighbor's house, lest he become weary with you and hate you. Proverbs 25:17

94 W. Clark, "Law," in Old Testament Form Criticism, ed. by J. Hayes (San Antonio: Trinity University Press, 1974), p. 103.

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