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Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

Ecclesiastes 2

Verses 1-26

Ecclesiastes 2:4

He who watches winds that blow

May too long neglect to sow;

He who waits lest clouds should rain

Harvest never shall obtain.

Signs and tokens false may prove;

Trust thou in a Saviour's love,

In His sacrifice for sin,

And His Spirit's power within.

Faith in God, if such be thine,

Shall be found thy safest sign,

And obedience to His will

Prove the best of tokens still.

Bernard Barton. Ecclesiastes 2:4-6 ; Ecclesiastes 2:8 ; Ecclesiastes 2:11 .

If any resemblance with Tennyson's poetry is to be found in Ecclesiastes, it should be with the 'Palace of Art'.

Sir Alfred Lyall.

See Byron's Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, canto I. iv. vi., for the description of the dull satiety that follows self-indulgence.

Reference. II. 4-11. J. J. S. Perowne, Expositor (1st (Series), vol. x. p. 313.

Ecclesiastes 2:10

He rushed through life.... He desired too much; he wished strongly and greedily to taste life in one draught, thoroughly; he did not glean or taste it, he tore it off like a bunch of grapes, pressing it, crushing it, twisting it; and he remained with stained hands, just as thirsty as before. Then broke forth sobs which found an echo in all hearts.

Taine on Alfred de Musset.

Ecclesiastes 2:11

All is vanity; that is the low cry of the tired heart when the buoyant strength of youth dies away, and when the brave shows of the glittering world, the harsh inspiriting music of affairs, the ambition to speak and strive, to sway heart and minds or destinies, fade into the darkness of the end. Against the assaults of this nameless fear men hold out what shields they can; the shield of honour, the shield of labour, and, best of all, the shield of faith. But there are some who have found no armour to help them, and who can but sink to the ground, covering their face beneath the open eye of heaven, and say with Fitz Gerald, 'It is He that hath made us,' resigning the mystery into the hands of the power that formed us and bade us be. For behind the loud and confident voice of work and politics and creeds there must still lurk the thought that whatever aims we propose to ourselves, though they be hallowed with centuries of endeavour and consecration, we cannot know what awaits us or what we shall be.

A. C. Benson.

Reference. II. 12-23. T. C. Finlayson, A Practical Exposition of Ecclesiastes, p. 49.

Ecclesiastes 2:17

Mr. Arthur Symons, discussing Villiers, the French decadent, in his Symbolist Movement in Literature (pp. 56 f.), quotes the poet thus: '"As at the play, in a central stall, one sits out, so as not to disturb one's neighbours out of courtesy, in a word some play written in a wearisome style, and of which one does not like the subject, so I lived, out of politeness": je vivais par politesse . In this haughtiness towards life, in this disdain of ordinary human motives and ordinary human beings, there is at once the distinction and the weakness of Villiers.'

See Quarles's Emblems, book i. 6, and Religio Medici, ii. sec. xiv. (close).

Ecclesiastes 2:19

In Cromwell's fourth speech to the Parliament of 1655, he discusses, towards the end, the pressing question of the government in relation to his own family. He declares that he has been ever opposed to making his office hereditary. 'I am speaking as to my judgment against making government hereditary. To have men chosen for their love to God, and to truth and justice; and not to have it hereditary. For as it is in the Ecclesiastes: "Who knoweth whether he may beget a fool or a wise man?" Honest or not honest, whatever they be, they must come in, on that plan; because the government is made a patrimony.'

Ecclesiastes 2:22

What a deal of cold business doth a man misspend the better part of life in! in scattering compliments, tendering visits, gathering and venting news, following feasts and plays, making a little winter-love in a dark corner.

Ben Jonson.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 2". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/edt/ecclesiastes-2.html. 1910.