A man’s gift makes room for him
and brings him before the great.
What is the difference between a gift and a bribe? Is this proverb permitting the offering of bribes to get one’s way? The proverb may not be giving permission for anything. Many proverbs are mere observations about life, adding no comment about the moral value. That is true of this one.
And yet, there are many situations in which a gift may be used wisely. In this proverb the gift is used to win an audience with someone in a greater position. It is mere bribery – i.e. a payoff – to pay a sort of fee and obtain unfair advantage over others, especially in the matter of justice. And yet a wise person will take the time to a pleasing gift that softens an otherwise stony composure and thus win a fair hearing. It is also appropriate to give gifts that express true sentiment of appreciation, such as giving a gift to someone whom you admire.