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The one who winks his eyes devises perversions;
the one who purses his lips brings evil to pass. Bible

“The one who winks his eyes devises perversions; the one who purses his lips brings evil to pass.” This is a common understanding of what this Proverb is saying, and it refers to evil people who signal to others in ways that are not obvious, and the silent communication helps them bring evil to pass. We feel that this is most likely what the verse is saying, because evil people have always used silent signals to communicate to others. Although righteous people sometimes use silent signals, righteous people can generally say what they need to say openly; there is no need for secrecy. In contrast, evil people need to keep their motives and actions hidden and so they need the silent signals.

However, the meaning of the text is not obvious, because the word translated “winks” means “to shut,” and the word translated “purses” means to squeeze or pinch the lips as well as to purse them as if making a silent kiss. Thus, some scholars prefer a translation that is like, “He closes his eyes to plot evil; he bites his lips to bring evil to pass.” That translation would reflect the determination of the evil person, who closes his eyes to focus on his evil plan and bites his lip in determination to bring it to pass.


Commentary for: Proverbs 16:30