Proverbs 23:2
And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite.
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(2) And put a knife to thy throat.—Use the strongest methods to keep thine appetite in check, if thou art likely to give way to it, and then, overcome by meat and drink, to say or do anything to offend thy host.

23:1-3 God's restraints of the appetite only say, Do thyself no harm. 4,5. Be not of those that will be rich. The things of this world are not happiness and a portion for a soul; those that hold them ever so fast, cannot hold them always, cannot hold them long. 6-8. Do not make thyself burdensome to any, especially those not sincere. When we are called by God to his feast, and to let our souls delight themselves, Isa 25:6; 55:2, we may safely partake of the Bread of life. 9. It is our duty to take all fit occasions to speak of Divine things; but if what a wise man says will not be heard, let him hold his peace. 10,11. The fatherless are taken under God's special protection. He is their Redeemer, who will take their part; and he is mighty, almighty.i. e., "Restrain thy appetite, eat as if the knife were at thy throat." Others render the words "thou wilt put a knife to thy throat" etc., i. e., "indulgence at such a time may endanger thy very life." 2. put a knife—an Eastern figure for putting restraint on the appetite. 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. So this is to be understood metaphorically, as that phrase of

cutting off the right hand, & c., Matthew 5:29,30. Or, For thou dost (or, lest thou shouldst, as the Syriac interpreter renders it; or, otherwise thou wilt or shouldst) put a knife to thy throat. So the sense is, When thou goest to their feasts, thou dost expose thyself to great and manifest hazards, to thy own intemperance, and to all its dangerous consequences, and to the ill effects of other men’s intemperance.

Given to appetite; prone to excess in eating and drinking.

And put a knife to thy throat,.... Refrain from too much talk at the table; give not too loose to thy tongue, but bridle it, considering in whose presence thou art; do not use too much freedom, either with the ruler or fellow guests; which, when persons have ate and drank well, they are too apt to do, and sometimes say things offensive to one or the other; it is good for a man to be upon his guard; see Ecclesiastes 5:2. Or restrain thine appetite; deny thyself of some things agreeable, that would lead thee to what might be hurtful, at least if indulged to excess: put as it were a knife unto thine appetite, and mortify it; which is the same as cutting off a right hand, or plucking out a right eye Matthew 5:29. Or while thou art at such a table, at such a sumptuous entertainment, consider thyself as in danger, as if thou hadst a knife at thy throat; and shouldest thou be too free with the food or liquor, it would be as it were cutting thine own throat;

if thou be a man given to appetite; there is then the more danger; and therefore such a person should be doubly on his guard, since he is in the way of temptation to that he is naturally inclined to. Or, "if thou art master of appetite" (r): so the Targum,

"if thou art master of thy soul;''

if thou hast power over it, and the command of it, and canst restrain it with ease; to which agrees the Vulgate Latin version: but the former sense is more agreeable to the Hebrew idiom.

(r) "dominus animae", Vatablus, Mercerus, Michaelis.

{b} And put a knife to thy throat, if thou art a man given to appetite.

(b) Bridle your appetite, as if by force and violence.

2. put a knife] i.e. Restrain forcibly thy appetite as with a knife held to thy throat. Others render, thou wilt put (R.V. marg.) and understand it to mean, that death may be the penalty of indulgence.

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). The LXX. gives a different turn to the injunction, "And apply (ἐπίβαλλε) thy hand, knowing that it behoves thee to prepare such things." This is like the warning of Siracides, in the chapter quoted above, where the disciple is admonished not to attend the banquets of rich men, lest he should be tempted to vie with them, and thus ruin himself by attempting to return their civilities in the same lavish manner. The earlier commentators have used the above verses as a lesson concerning the due and reverent partaking of the Holy Communion, thus: "When you approach the table of Christ, consider diligently what is represented by the elements before you, and have discernment and faith, lest you eat and drink unworthily; and after communicating walk warily, mortify all evil desires, live as in the presence of the Lord Jesus, the Giver of the feast." Proverbs 23:2Proverbs 22:29, which speaks of a high position near the king, is appropriately followed by a hexastich referring to the slipperiness of the smooth ground of the king's court.

1 When thou sittest to eat with a ruler,

   Consider well whom thou hast before thee.

2 And put thy knife to thy throat

   If thou art a man of good appetite.

3 Be not lustful after his dainties,

   Because it is deceitful food.

The ל of ללחום is that of end: ad cibum capiendum, thus as one invited by him to his table; in prose the expression would be לאכל לחם; לחם, to eat, is poet., Proverbs 4:17; Proverbs 9:5. The fut. תּבין clothes the admonition in the form of a wish or counsel; the infin. intens. בּין makes it urgent: consider well him whom thou hast before thee, viz., that he is not thine equal, but one higher, who can destroy thee as well as be useful to thee. With ושׂמתּ the jussive construction begun by תבין is continued. Zckler and Dchsel, after Ewald and Hitzig, translate incorrectly: thou puttest..., the perf. consec. after an imperf., or, which is the same thing, a fut. meant optatively (e.g., Leviticus 19:18 with לא, and also Leviticus 19:34 without לא) continues the exhortation; to be thus understood, the author ought to have used the expression שׂכּין שׂמתּ and not ושׂמת שׂכין. Rightly Luther: "and put a knife to thy throat," but continuing: "wilt thou preserve thy life," herein caught in the same mistake of the idea with Jerome, the Syr., and Targ., to which נפשׁ here separates itself. שׂכּין (סכּין) (Arab. with the assimilated a sikkı̂n, plur. sekâkı̂n, whence sekâkı̂ni, cutler) designates a knife (R. סך שך, to stick, vid., at Isaiah 9:10). לוע, from לוּע, to devour, is the throat; the word in Aram. signifies only the cheek, while Lagarde seeks to interpret בּלעך infinitively in the sense of (Arab.) bwlw'ak, if thou longest for (from wl'a); but that would make 2b a tautology. The verb לוּע (cf. Arab. l'al', to pant for) shows for the substantive the same primary meaning as glutus from glutire, which was then transferred from the inner organ of swallowing (Kimchi, בית הבליעה, Parchon; הוּשׂט, aesophagus) to the external. "Put a knife to thy throat, is a proverbial expression, like our: the knife stands at his throat; the poet means to say: restrain thy too eager desire by means of the strongest threatening of danger - threaten as it were death to it" (Fleischer). In בּעל נפשׁ, נפשׁ means, as at Proverbs 13:2, desire, and that desire of eating, as at Proverbs 6:30. Rightly Rashi: if thou art greedy with hunger, if thou art a glutton; cf. Sir. 34:12 (31:12), "If thou sittest at a great table, then open not widely thy throat (φάρυγγα), and say not: There is certainly much on it!" The knife thus denotes the restraining and moderating of too good an appetite.

In 3a the punctuation fluctuates between תתאו (Michlol 131a) and תתאו; the latter is found in Cod. 1294, the Erfurt 2 and 3, the Cod. Jaman., and thus it is also to be written at Proverbs 23:6 and Proverbs 24:1; ויתאו, 1 Chronicles 11:17 and Psalm 45:12, Codd. and older Edd. (e.g., Complut. 1517, Ven. 1515, 1521) write with Pathach. מטעמּות, from טעם, signifies savoury dishes, dainties, like (Arab.) dhwâkt, from dhâk (to taste, to relish); cf. sapores, from sapere, in the proverb: the tit-bits of the king burn the lips (vid., Fleischer, Ali's Hundred Proverbs, etc., pp. 71, 104). With והוּא begins, as at Proverbs 3:29, a conditioning clause: since it is, indeed, the bread of deceit (the connection like עד־כּחבים, Proverbs 21:28), food which, as it were, deceives him who eats it, i.e., appears to secure for him the lasting favour of princes, and often enough herein deceives him; cf. the proverb by Burckhardt and Meidani: whoever eats of the sultan's soup burns his lips, even though it may be after a length of time (Fleischer). One must come near to a king, says Calovius, hitting the meaning of the proverb, as to a fire: not too near, lest he be burned; nor too remote, so that he may be warmed therewith.

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