Proverbs 23:2 KJV

And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite.

This seems to be a Hebrew idiom which is not clear what it refers to in the above text

Could this idiom be referring to the following:

*Restrain your appetite

*Restrain your mouth/words

*Restrain your heart

What does this idiom mean?

2 Answers 2


First we need to love at the verse preceding:

Proverbs 23:1 (KJV) When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what is before thee:

And after:

Proverbs 23:3 (KJV) Be not desirous of his dainties: for they are deceitful meat.

We can be confident that we are talking - at least in a continued metaphor sort of way - about the eating of food: "to eat", "great appetite", "his dainties".

Now, let us picture a throat. Let us put a knife to that the throat. The edge of the blade is gingerly on the throat. Resting steadily, but firmly.

Now, gulp.

The blood pours out. The man will die. The man has slit his own throat by his gulping down of food.

The meaning of the text is: Restrain your appetite, as if your life depended on it.


The meaning from Prov 23:1-3 is quite clear - Solomon is advising that people restrain their appetite and gluttony as if their life depended on it.

When you sit down to dine with a ruler, consider carefully what is set before you, and put a knife to your throat if you possess a great appetite. Do not crave his delicacies, for that food is deceptive.

Paul has similar advice in Phil 3:19 -

Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and their glory is in their shame. Their minds are set on earthly things.

Note the Pulpit commentary on Prov 23:2 -

Verse 2. - And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite. "Stab thy gluttony," Wordsworth. Restrain thyself by the strongest measures, convince thyself that thou art in the utmost peril, if thou art a glutton or wine bibber (Ecclus. 34 [31]:12).

Matthew Poole is similar:

Put a knife to thy throat; restrain and moderate thine appetite, as if a knife or some other thing stuck in thy throat, and hindered thee from swallowing what thou didst desire; or as if a man stood with a knife at thy throat ready to kill thee, if thou didst transgress; or though it be as irksome to thee to do so as if thou hadst a knife put to thy throat.

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