Proverbs 17:8 “A bribe is a charm to the one who gives it; wherever he turns, he succeeds”
This verse has causes a little debate and conversations in my circles of late and happening upon it has caused me to seek answers and give it some thought time.
The oxford dictionary definition of the word bribe says “to dishonestly persuade (someone) to act in one’s favour by a gift of money or other inducement”
If you stop and ask the average person in the street if they have ever bribed someone, most would say no they most definitely have not and generally speaking the large majority of people would say they never would either. I’d be one of the people who would give those answers and so after being faced with the above scripture it caused me a problem.
My first reaction was that the verse means something more than what’s literally saying. But to move away from potential debate or argument about it I kept my thoughts to myself and silently wondered.
When I was a young Christian I was taught that there are no contradictions in the bible only miss-interruptions from the reader and if I was to get the true meaning of any scripture it was always a good idea to cross reference it with other verses throughout the bible to get a better understanding of bible’s teaching on the subject.
So at first I decided to take the scripture literally and believe that it means what it says, purely for the purpose of my studies into it. Then I decided to find out what else God said about bribes in other verses around the bible and see if any of them back up what above verse says. Here’s just a little of what I found that summed up the entire theme.
Exodus 23:8, “Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds those who see and twists the words of the innocent”
2 Chronicles 19:7, “Now let the fear of the LORD be on you. Judge carefully, for with the LORD our God there is no injustice or partiality or bribery.”
Job 15:34, “For the company of the godless will be barren, and fire will consume the tents of those who love bribes”
Ecclesiastes 7:7, “Extortion turns a wise person into a fool, and a bribe corrupts the heart”
As you’ll see from the verses above there’s a definite theme about the word ‘bribe’ in the bible and I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s not good which I already knew and expected. Although it doesn’t take anything away from what Proverbs 17:8 says there’s definitely a case to look more deeply into the translations of Proverbs 17:8 to bring more clarity.
So looking into the exact translation I found out that the word ‘bribe’ in the Hebrew language is ‘shakh’-ad’ which literal interpretation is better translated as ‘gift’ according to NAS Exhaustive Concordance.
The Hebrew meaning for the word ‘charm’ is interpreted ‘khane’ and ‘eh’-ben’ which in English means ‘precious stone’
Suddenly with a little study you start seeing a clearer picture being painted by God and by filling in the blanks of the Hebrew translation you’d get this.
“A gift is as a precious stone in the eyes of he that has it, where ever it turns it prospers”
Now for me that fits, it fits into what God says about ‘gifts’ it fits into the Lord’s nature of how he operates. “For God so loved the world that he give…” comes to mind along with the verse about the pearl of great price. To you that have that gift, you are indeed Blessed and prospered.