Proverbs 18:19

ESV A brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city, and quarreling is like the bars of a castle.
NIV A brother wronged is more unyielding than a fortified city; disputes are like the barred gates of a citadel.
NASB A brother who is offended is harder to be won than a strong city, And quarrels are like the bars of a citadel.
CSB An offended brother is harder to reach than a fortified city, and quarrels are like the bars of a fortress.
NLT An offended friend is harder to win back than a fortified city. Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with bars.
KJV A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle.

What does Proverbs 18:19 mean?

Offense from those close to us—including friends and family—tends to cut deeper and cause more pain than the same insults from strangers. The prior verses (Proverbs 18:17–18) warned about rushing to judgment and the importance of objectivity. Here, Solomon sounds an alarm about the enhanced nature of conflict between "brothers." In this context, that can refer either to close friends or blood relatives.

Solomon poetically compares these rifts to well-defended cities or barred fortresses. By virtue of their walls, ancient cities are difficult to conquer compared to open terrain. The only two options were prolonged siege or suffering the losses of a direct assault. Likewise, a citadel or castle often includes bars meant to block entry. "Quarrels" that come between friends and family can be especially difficult to overcome.

Jesus said a person who is angry with his brother and recalls that his brother has something against him should leave his gift at the altar and first be reconciled to his brother before offering his gift (Matthew 5:23–24). The apostle Paul prescribes forgiveness as the antidote to a broken relationship. He counsels: "If one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive" (Colossians 3:13).
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