1 tn The construction uses the imperfect tense of instruction with the infinitive absolute to emphasize the careful discernment required on such occasions. Cf. NIV “note well”; NLT “pay attention.”
2 tn Or “who,” referring to the ruler (so ASV, NAB, TEV).
3 sn The expression “put a knife to your throat” is an idiom that means “curb your appetite” or “control yourself” (cf. TEV). The instruction was from a time when people dealt with all-powerful tyrants. To enter the presence of such a person and indulge one’s appetites would be to take a very high risk.
4 tn Heb “lord of appetite.” The idiom בַּעַל נֶפֶשׁ (ba’al nefesh) refers to someone who possesses a large appetite (cf. NAB “a ravenous appetite”). A person with a big appetite is in danger of taking liberties when invited to court.
6 sn The final line gives the causal clause: The impressive feast is not what it appears to be; the king is not doing you a favor, but rather wants something from you or is observing you (K&D 17:104); cf. TEV “he may be trying to trick you.”
7 sn Verses 1-3 form the sixth saying about being cautious before rulers (cf. Instruction of Amememope, chap. 23, 23:13-18). One should not get too familiar with rulers, for they always have ulterior motives. The Mishnah cites Gamaliel as warning that a ruler only draws someone into his court for his purpose, but in their day of trouble he will not be there to help them (m. Abot 2:3).