From Ask Figaro:
Kindly explain this statement in very simple terms.”The fool folds his hands together, and eats his own flesh”.
Ah, Ecclesiastes 4:5. Figaro loves Ecclesiastes best of all, not least because the Hebrew for Ecclesiastes, Qohelet, is best translated as “Orator.” It’s the most openly rhetorical of all the sacred books.
The fool you refer to is a man who shuns work (“folds his hands”) and ends up starving (“eats his own flesh”). This is a wonderful metaphor, and a very subtle form of metonomy.
The New International Bible, with its usual ham-handed translating, swaps the flesh-eating for “ruins himself.” Figaro vastly prefers cannibalistic figures.