(Closely Related Posting: In Proverbs 17:19, what does "makes his door high" mean? )

17:19 Hebrew OT: Westminster Leningrad Codex אֹ֣הֵֽב פֶּ֭שַׁע אֹהֵ֣ב מַצָּ֑ה מַגְבִּ֥יהַּ פִּ֝תְחֹ֗ו מְבַקֶּשׁ־שָֽׁבֶר׃

(Proverbs 17:19) (NASB 1995)

He who loves transgression loves strife; He who raises his door seeks destruction.

(Proverbs 17:19) (ESV)

Whoever loves transgression loves strife; he who makes his door high seeks destruction.

(Proverbs 17:19) (KJV)

He loveth transgression that loveth strife: and he that exalteth his gate seeketh destruction.

(Proverbs 17:19) (NKJV)

He who loves transgression loves strife, And he who exalts his gate seeks destruction.

17:19 Hebrew OT: Westminster Leningrad Codex אֹ֣הֵֽב פֶּ֭שַׁע אֹהֵ֣ב מַצָּ֑ה מַגְבִּ֥יהַּ פִּ֝תְחֹ֗ו מְבַקֶּשׁ־שָֽׁבֶר׃

The NASB1995 use of the phrase "raises his door" as opposed to the aforementioned bible translations' use of "makes his door high"/"exalts his gate"  seems to have slightly different meanings.

On the biblehub.com commentaries ( https://biblehub.com/commentaries/proverbs/17-19.htm ), some of said commentaries interpret the NASB1995 use of the phrase "raises his door" as having something to do with speaking boastfully / arrogantly:

(Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament) the reason of the pairing of these two lines in the relationship between a mouth and a door (cf. Micah 7:6, פּתחי פיך). Hitzig goes further, and supposes that 19b figuratively expresses what boastfulness brings upon itself. Against Geier, Schultens, and others, who understand פּתחו directly of the mouth, he rightly remarks that הגדּיל פה is not heard of, and that הגדּיל פה taht dn would be used instead.

while others commentaries seem to associate the other bible translations' use of "makes his door high"/"exalts his gate" as having something to do with behaving like a snob:

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers (19) He that exalteth his gate.—Builds himself a sumptuous house.

Benson Commentary exalteth his gate — Namely, the gate of his house, that maketh it, and consequently his house, lofty and magnificent beyond what becomes his quality, that he may overtop and outshine his neighbours; which being an effect and evidence of pride and haughtiness, is here mentioned for all other evidences thereof. So the sense is, he who carries himself loftily and scornfully; seeketh destruction — Seeks those things which will expose him to destruction, because he makes himself odious both to God and men.

I might be making much ado about nothing because one bible translation is talking about speaking arrogantly while the other is about behaving like a snob. Speaking arrogantly and behaving like a snob are quite closely related.

In any case, could someone please try to read and interpret the Old Testament Hebrew, and provide a more detailed explanation?

1 Answer 1


Let me begin with my usual caveat about proverbs - succinct, pithy aphorisms that are often deliberately vague to encompass as much application as possible.

Prov 17:19 is no exception - it consists 8 Hebrew words in two halves in synthetic parallelism as follows (my translation):

  • [He who] loves transgression loves strife
  • [He who] exalts [his] gate/door seeks destruction

In the Hebrew there is a delightful rhythm and rhyme which are impossible to translate, but we can get a hint about it from the table below

#1 #2 $3 #4
loves transgression loves strife/contention
exalts gate/door seeks destruction

The idea of raising the gate/door is a cultural reference of ostentation, a bit like the lines of the famous song "If I Were a Rich Man" in "Fiddler on the Roof":

  • One staircase going up
  • Another staircase coming down
  • And anther going nowhere just for show

To build a high gate or doorway is to pretend to be very wealthy or important. Thus, such a person is a pretentious snob, interested more in display than substance.

The conclusion here is difficult to escape - a pretentious, ostentatious person is as bad as a sinner; or, ostentation is sin!

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