Donald Trump did an interview with CBN in which he elaborated his views on the Bible. In an earlier interview, Trump declined to reveal a Bible verse that has had an impact on him persoanlly. In this interview, he reveals one. You can watch the relevant clip above or read the transcript below.
There’s so many things that you can learn from it (The Bible). Proverbs, the chapter ‘never bend to envy.’ I’ve had that thing all of my life where people are bending to envy. Actually it’s an incredible book, so many things you can learn from the Bible and you can lead your life. I’m not just talking in terms of religion; I’m talking in terms of leading a life even beyond religion. There are so many brilliant things in the Bible…
The Bible, is special, the Bible the more you see it, the more you read it, the more incredible it is. I don’t like to use this analogy, but like a great movie, a great, incredible movie. You’ll see it once it will be good. You’ll see it again. You can see it 20 times and every time you’ll appreciate it more. The Bible is the most special thing.
Trump highlights a “chapter” in Proverbs that says “never bend to envy.” I can only assume that he is trying to improve upon the earlier interview in which he could not cite a favorite verse from the Bible. His statement here would be an improvement if he’s actually come up with a scriptural example in this interview. But has he really found one?
I have read the book of Proverbs from start to finish more times than I can count, and I do not remember ever seeing the phrase “never bend to envy” in that book. But since Trump may be referring to a different translation than the ones I have used, I decided to see if perhaps the phrase appears in some other version. I did a search of 21 different English translations of the Bible:
- English Standard Version
- King James Version
- New King James Version
- New English Translation
- New American Standard Bible
- New International Version
- New Century Version
- The Message
- The Living Bible
- The New Living Translation
- Revised Standard Version
- New Revised Standard Version
- Young’s Literal Translation
- Orthodox Jewish Bible
- Complete Jewish Bible
- Holman Christian Standard Bible
- Good News Translation
- Contemporary English Version
- Common English Bible
- Amplified Bible
- American Standard Version
The phrase appears in no translation of Proverbs that I can find. But the phrase isn’t just absent from Proverbs. “Never bend to envy” appears nowhere in the Bible in any of those major English translations.
The word “envy” does appear a handful of times in English translations of Proverbs, but when it does it tends to be a warning against envying wicked people (e.g., Prov. 3:31; 23:17). But those statements don’t quite jibe with Trump’s. Trump indicated that envy wasn’t his problem, but what other people do to him. In his own words: “I’ve had that thing all of my life where people are bending to envy.” If Trump meant to refer to the mention of “envy” in Proverbs, he would be putting himself in place of the “wicked” who should not be envied.
So what do we make of Trump’s claim about the book of Proverbs and “never bend to envy”? Either Trump is paraphrashing some other verse in Proverbs that mentions “envy,” or Trump is making this up as he goes along.
I’m not a betting man (because I never bend to betting). But if I were, I’d bet the latter is much more likely than the former.
UPDATE: A reader points out that something close to “never bend to envy” appears in an English translation of The Divine Comedy by Dante. Read the relevant page here.