There are three different Hebrew words that are translated ‘fool’ in the Old Testament.

  • The first one is ‘avil’ and signifies weakness as we read in Proverbs 12:15, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.”
  • The next word for fool is ‘kesil’ and means fat, stupid, silly as we read in Proverbs 10:18, “He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth a slander, is a fool.”
  • The third one is ‘nabal’ and means wicked or vile such as we read in Psalm 14:1, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.”

Proverbs 26:11 says, “As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.” There is much in this chapter that is written to warn the ‘fool’. In fact, the word ‘fool’ is used 11 times in this chapter. I encourage you to locate each one. The Hebrew word for ‘fool’ that is used in Proverbs 26:11 is ‘kesil’ meaning fat, stupid, or silly.

AS A DOG RETURNETH TO HIS VOMIT – A dog who gets sick with what he has eaten, will vomit it up again, and later will return to it and lick it up. While this sounds disgusting, it is in the nature of dogs to do this. Vomit is so distasteful, even to the dog, yet he will eventually return to it and eat it.

SO A FOOL RETURNETH TO HIS FOLLY – This speaks of one who does not learn from his experiences and mistakes and continues to return to old familiar ways. While his ways may even disgust him, and he may try to improve himself, the fool will eventually return to his old ways. You might say, “It is so stupid or silly for someone to continue to return to his sinful ways”, this is exactly what the fool is and exactly what he does. This passage then demonstrates that there never had been any real change of heart in the one who continues to return to his folly.

As the Apostle addresses those who have knowledge of the Lord and have changed their lives in view of their knowledge of Him, he says in 2 Peter 2:20-22, “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.”

Peter, in quoting Proverbs 26:11, calls it a TRUE PROVERB. The apostle addresses the fact that this is indeed true and we need to heed it. (236.8)