Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil, See No Evil

Today’s Bible or Not quote is well-known contemporary wisdom, but its origin goes back to ancient times. A universal concept throughout history is the idea to do those thing which are good, and to shun those things which are evil. The maxim of the 3 Wise Monkeys conveys this concept in a very simplified visual.

“Hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil.” – Bible or Not?

Hear No Evil Speak No Evil Hear No Evil

The Three 3 Wise Monkeys Carving at the Toshogu Shrine in Japan

No, the proverb of the 3 wise monkeys, namely “hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil” is not from the Bible. The origin of the quote, as depicted by the above ancient carving, goes back to the 17th century. But depending on your sources, its origin can also be traced as far back as the 8th century originating in China. The theory is that it originally came from Confucius’s Code of Conduct, but without the famous picture of the 3 monkeys. You can read more about the origins of the three monkeys maxim at Wikpedia.

So what does this quote have to do with the Bible? Well for sure, the Bible teaches to do no evil. As a matter of fact, in the book of Thessalonians we see, “Abstain from every form of evil.” (1 Thessalonians 5:22 NKJV). Here are some particular verse that support each of the “do nots” of the three monkeys:

Hear No Evil
The Psalmist teaches us, in the very first verse of the Book of Psalms, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful.” – Psalms 1:1 NKJV. Therefore, do not listen to ungodly counsel, or in other words, hear no evil.

Speak No Evil
The Apostle Paul admonished the saints in Ephesus to speak purely: “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” – Ephesians 4:29 KJV

See No Evil
Jesus Himself, when it comes  to “seeing no evil”, teaches us to go to extremes to keep our eyes from causing us to sin: “If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.” – Matthew 5:29 NKJV

 So there we have it; the 3 wise monkeys in not in the Bible, but nevertheless, the saying itself has merit and can be supported by the Bible. Do you have any verses that support this? Feel free to leave additional Bible verses about hearing, speaking, seeing and doing no evil by submitting your comments.


Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil, See No Evil — 18 Comments

  1. Here’s another “speak no evil” verse from the Bible: Titus 3:1-2 says “Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, to speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.

  2. What about DO NO EVIL? Here’s what the Bible says – Now I pray to God that you do no evil, not that we should appear approved, but that you should do what is honorable, though we may seem disqualified. – 2 Corinthians 13:7

  3. Thanks David, much appreciated. Sure, have fun and use what you want. If you use anything on a website, please be kind and share a link to our site.

  4. Here’s a verse that could be related, more about what TO DO rather than what NOT to do.
    “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
    And it comes with a promise: “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.”
    - Philippians 4:8-9

  5. I think in this context that Paul was saying to speak no evil, meaning speak no slander, of others. But I’ll take your lead here and give my opinion. I believe the wicked are not exposed by the righteous calling names and pointing fingers. They are exposed by the righteous being righteous, and the contrast that the world sees will do the exposing.

  6. Isaiah 33:13-17

    13 Hear, you who are far off, what I have done; you who are near, acknowledge my might.
    14 On Zion sinners are in dread, trembling grips the impious: “Who of us can live with the consuming fire? who of us can live with the everlasting flames?”
    15 He who practices virtue and speaks honestly, who spurns what is gained by oppression, Brushing his hands free of contact with a bribe, stopping his ears lest he hear of bloodshed, closing his eyes lest he look on evil–
    16 He shall dwell on the heights, his stronghold shall be the rocky fastness, his food and drink in steady supply.
    17 Your eyes will see a king in his splendor, they will look upon a vast land.

  7. What do the monkeys got to do with it? It is an almost impossible task..”seeing” how we live on this planet..”hearing” is an unfortunate part of life..but “speaking” is up to us…am I right? I guess I just love monkeys, tired of them gettin a “bad rap” “Oh I got a monkey on my back” I think that is giving monkeys a bad name…and Buddy and I ain’t having it!! Show some respect! Damnit!! xoxoxoxoxox

  8. Mary… sometimes hearing may be beyond our control, but other times we have the option to walk away, turn off the television, or turn off the radio. We are often exposed to evil and if we choose to partake in the listening when given the choice than we are willingly partaking in sin. We should try to make godly choices. We decide much of what we hear and see. Good choices are important for Christians for we represent Christ to unbelievers and could make an eternal difference for someone. Obviously, none of us will be without sin, but we should strive to be as close to Christ-like as possible. :)

  9. Prov 4:24-27 24 Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee. 25 Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. 26 Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. 27 Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil. KJV

  10. My daughter is a committed Christian. Her husband doesn’t help to keep the peace at home, turns up the TV to drown out kids’ squabbling etc., yells & swears, now their 2 year old does it too. Should she ignore it all or what?

  11. I think everything said made a ton of sense. But,
    what about this? what if you added a little content?

    I ain’t saying your information isn’t good., however what if you
    added a title that grabbed people’s attention? I mean Origin of Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil,
    See No Evil, Three 3 Wise Monkeys | Bible or Not Bible Quotes & Famous Sayings is kinda
    plain. You should look at Yahoo’s home page and watch how
    they create article headlines to get people to open the links.
    You might try adding a video or a related picture or two to get
    readers interested about what you’ve got to say.
    Just my opinion, it could make your posts a little bit more interesting.

  12. This is a tough one to answer from a blog. While I could attempt to provide some advice I think it best that your daughter should confide in her pastor for counseling and advice. And for those close to you and her, pray pray pray.

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