Proverbs 20:19

He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets: therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips.
– Proverbs 20:19

The word for talebearer means slanderer, or informer. The word for secrets means counsels, or closed deliberations. The talebearer uncovers such things that should be kept private. Sometimes the talebearer’s work is malicious and sometimes merely careless. Regardless, the work of talebearers does damage (Proverbs 18:8; 26:20-22). The word for flattereth means to open. This describes a person who is overly talkative, tells all they know, etc. Because they have no control over their mouth, they disclose private news to a public audience. The word for meddle means to braid, or intermix. Wisdom teaches to avoid such a person who is not trustworthy (Proverbs 20:16).

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Proverbs 18:8

The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.
– Proverbs 18:8

The word for wounds means to gulp down. The word is only used twice in the Hebrew text, here and in Proverbs 26:22, which is a word-for-word copy of this proverb. The whole proverb is a warning to the penetration of words. A talebearer is a slanderer, or gossiper. So gossip is eagerly gobbled up, and just as food is eaten and internalized, gossip goes to the innermost parts. Wisdom recognizes the natural bent and taste we have for gossip and slander, and also the effect they have on the soul. Refusing to hear a talebearer is the obvious implication (Proverbs 26:17, 20-21; 20:3).

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Proverbs 11:13

A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.
– Proverbs 11:13

Talebearing was forbidden in the law (Leviticus 19:16). The word refers to a gossip or slanderer. The word indicates one with malicious intent to deal in scandals (Proverbs 26:22). It isn’t merely carelessness that reveals secrets. Secrets refer to private counsels and intimate knowledge that should not be openly revealed. Taking such a person into your confidence would be foolish because they will betray your confidence. The faithful are trustworthy and do not betray a confidence.

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