The Bible uses the word in a figurative way a number of times. In the Hebrew, one fleeing in defeat was literally said to turn his “neck” to the enemy (compare Joshua 7:8), that is, the back of his neck. Therefore, to ‘have one’s hand on the back of the neck’ of his enemies was to conquer or subdue them. (Gen. 49:8; 2 Sam. 22:41; Ps. 18:40) With similar significance, it was the ancient custom to place one’s foot upon the neck of a conquered foe. On monuments of Egypt and Assyria, monarchs are represented in battle scenes as treading on the necks of their enemies. Likewise, Joshua ordered his army commanders: “Come forward. Place your feet on the back of the necks of these kings.”—Josh. 10:24.
A yoke upon the neck indicated servitude, submission or bondage. (Gen. 27:40; Jer. 30:8; Acts 15:10) The frequent expressions “stiff-necked” and ‘hardened neck’ represent a rebellious and obstinate spirit. “A man repeatedly reproved but making his neck hard will suddenly be broken, and that without healing,” say the Scriptures, as a warning to us.—Prov. 29:1; Deut. 9:6, 13; 31:27; 2 Ki. 17:14; Ps. 75:5; Isa. 48:4.
The importance of the discipline and authority of one’s parents (and, by implication, the eminent value of God’s commandments and laws) is emphasized by the admonition to ‘bind them upon the throat,’ where beautiful and precious ornaments were worn. (Prov. 1:8, 9; 3:1-3; 6:20, 21) Walking with one’s throat stretched forth can evidence haughtiness. (Isa. 3:16) Of wicked men of lies and bloodshed, the Bible says: “Their throat is an opened burial place.”—Ps. 5:9; Rom. 3:13.