Proverbs 17:19

Whoever loves transgression loves strife; he who makes his door high seeks destruction.

What does it mean to make your door high? Keep people out?

  • What is your source for the quotation you have cited, please ? KJV has 'gate'. YLT has 'entrance'.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jan 8, 2020 at 2:15
  • I think it's an ESV edition. Commented Jan 8, 2020 at 11:51
  • The text that immediately comes to mind is Matthew 7:14 Strait is the gate and narrow is the way that leadeth unto life. So to enlarge a gate is to invite everyone in, but ensures that life is not found. However the proverb is about height of gate or entrance, not width. So . . . .
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jan 8, 2020 at 11:57

2 Answers 2


The translation cited in the OP is faulty. The first "loves" is indeed a noun phrase, "he who loves transgression (against others)", but the second "loves" is not a verb but another noun phrase, "he who loves disputes". The "he who raises his door" is indeed another noun phrase, and the verb of the entire verse is "seeks". The translator apparently sees "loving strife" as the undesirable result of "loving transgression", but this is a Western culture back-reading. In fact the verse is talking about someone who loves strife. So instead of reading the verse as two clauses:

  1. He who loves transgression loves strife
  2. He who raises his door seeks disaster

the verse should be read as a list of three types of behavior that invite disaster:

  1. אהב פשע - the urge to take things from others
  2. אהב מצה - the urge to dispute
  3. מגביה פתחו - being a loud mouth (arrogance)

The correct reading is:

He who loves to take things [from his neighbors], he who loves to dispute, he who raises his voice, courts disaster.

This reading is based on the primary use of פשע in the OT to mean transgression against fellow man as in Genesis 31:36 (NIV):

Jacob was angry and took Laban to task. "What is my crime?" he asked Laban. "How have I wronged you that you hunt me down?

and "raising his opening" (פתחו) meaning "raising his voice" as in Micah 7:5 "guard the words of your lips" (פתחי פיך). The word "door" (דלת) does not appear in this verse and is a translators interpretation.

Proverbs is a book of aphorisms. The language is figurative. A "literal" translation does a disservice to the non-Hebrew speaking reader. In 17:19, פתחו is indeed "his opening", but using this as a translation only results in confusion.


What does it mean to make your door high? Keep people out?

Seek Destruction.

In those days marauding bands and thieves on horseback raided unprotected houses and country properties. It was then, the custom of owners to build a high wall around their property, but made the gate about 3-4 feet/ 1 meter high.High enough to prevent a rider on horseback to go in.

A high gate to the property indicated wealth or royalty , so anyone that made a high gate increased the risk, of having his home being plundered.


Getting Attention All the Wrong Ways - Proverbs

17:19www.calvarychapeljonesboro.org › proverb-a-day › ge...

The second part of the proverb here is a Hebraism. It speaks of the one who "raises his door." The habit of the Jews was to make the front door of their compound very low to the ground so that no one could get in without permission. They also would intentionally not make their doors ornate - so as to draw attention to themselves - and unintentionally draw the attention of thieves or those who would seek to plunder their homes and compounds. Over time this practice eventually came to speak of someone who was ostentatious and filled with pride. Those to "raise their door" came to mean those who act with excessive pride and arrogance. We are warned that doing this is dangerous and destructive. When we live with such excessive pride and arrogance - even one that fights with everyone - and that loves sin - we are setting ourselves up for destruction.

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