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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
Ecclesiastes 12

 

 

Verses 8-14

EPILOGUE

Review of the whole, and Commendatory Recapitulation of the truths therein contained

Ecclesiastes 12:8-14.

1. With reference to the personal worth of the author

( Ecclesiastes 12:8-11).

8 Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher; all is vanity 9 And moreover, because the Preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge: yea, he gave good heed, and sought out, and set in order many Proverbs 10 The Preacher sought to find out acceptable words: and that which was written, was upright, even words of truth 11 The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd.

2. With reference to the serious and weighty character of his teachings

( Ecclesiastes 12:12-14).

12And further, by these, my Song of Solomon, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh 13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of Prayer of Manasseh 14For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

Ecclesiastes 12:9.—אִזֵּן. The primary sense of this root must be the ear, or hearing; since it is easier to understand how the sense of weighing (as it is in the Arabic וזן) came from that, than vice versa. The latter sense is either by a very natural figure, or from the resemblance of a balance with its two ears, as they may be called. Its intensive piel sense here may denote listening attentively, as a prelude to judging, or the act of the mind itself.

[ Ecclesiastes 12:11.—בַּעֲלֵי אֲסֻפּוֹת would be, according to the common usage, “masters of collections,” or of gatherings. בעל, however, sometimes only very slightly modifies the meaning of the following word, and there is nothing in the way of its having the objective sense, like other similar auxiliary words: “objects of collections,” rather than “makers of collections,”—the things gathered rather than the gatherers. So Hitzig views it, who has rendered it simply gesammelten, that Isaiah, collectanea or collections. In this way alone does it make a true parallel with the “words of the wise” in the previous number: “their gathered sentences,” as we have rendered it in the Metrical Version.—T. L.]

[ Ecclesiastes 12:12.—סְפָרִים. See remarks, p30.—T. L.]

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

This concluding discourse opens purposely with that sentence which opened the book ( Ecclesiastes 1:2), namely, with a lamentation over the vanity of all earthly things. This exclamation cannot be considered as a conclusion to what precedes, because the very words that immediately precede ( Ecclesiastes 12:7) had opened the view to something that is not הֶבֶל, but the vanquishing of all הֲבָלִים, and because, especially in the last section of the vanity of the world, or the negative side of the truths taught by the author, had fallen much behind the positive ideas of zeal in vocation, cheerful joy of life, and fear of God (as not vanities, but as virtue conquering vanity). Unlike the division followed by De Wette, Koster, Rosenmueller, Knobel, Ewald, Hitzig, Elster, etc., verse8 is to be connected with what follows, in accordance with most of the older commentators (also with Dathe, Umbreit, Vaihinger, Hengstenberg, Hahn etc.) and is to be considered as an introduction formula 2] of the Epilogue, purposely conforming to the beginning of the whole. This view is also strengthened by the circumstance that the וְ at the commencement of the ninth verse presents this, not as an introductory verse, but as the continuation of something already begun, whilst on the contrary the expression הֲבֵל הֲבָלִים Ecclesiastes 12:8, according to the analogy of Ecclesiastes 1:2, is clearly used as an introductory formula. The object of this formula at the opening of the epilogue is again to present to the reader the negative summation of the observations and experience of the author, the fact of the vanity and perishability of all earthly things in order subsequently to establish the correctness of this result by a double testimony:—1. By vindication of the moral weight of the personality of the author as a genuinely wise man and teacher of wisdom ( Ecclesiastes 12:9-11); 2. by referring to the very serious and important character of the precepts laid down by him ( Ecclesiastes 12:12-14). These two divisions are characterized by equal length and analogous construction 3] (i.e., that they both begin with וְיֹתֵר “and moreover”) as skilfully planned strophes or executions of the theme contained in Ecclesiastes 12:8, and not as two mere postscripts of the author added as by chance (Hitzig); whilst in the latter the positive result of the religious and moral observations of the Preacher appears again in the most significant and precise form possible ( Ecclesiastes 12:13), strengthened, too, by an addition ( Ecclesiastes 12:14) which presents most clearly the correct intermediation of the positive with the negative result in Ecclesiastes 12:8, and thus affords the only true solution of the great enigma from which Ecclesiastes 1:2 had proceeded. This solution consists simply in pointing him who is discontented and anxious about the vanity and unhappiness of this life, to the great day of universal reckoning, and in the inculcation of the duty of deferential obedience to a holy and just God,—a duty from which no one can escape with impunity. As this epilogue is in reality the first to offer the key to the correct understanding of the whole, (for the sum of the previously developed precepts of Wisdom of Solomon, is given neither so clearly nor impressively in Ecclesiastes 11:1-10; Ecclesiastes 11:7, as is the case here) we clearly perceive the untenability of that hypercritical view (v. d. Palm, Döderlein, Berthold, Knobel, Umbreit, and, to a certain extent, also, of Herzfeld) which denies the authenticity of these closing verses (from Ecclesiastes 12:9). For a special refutation of their arguments comp. the Int. § 3, Obs.

2. First strophe. Ecclesiastes 12:8-11. The negative result of the book, attested in its truth and importance by reference to the personal worth of the author as a genuine teacher of wisdom. For verse8 see partly the previous paragraph (No1), and partly the exegetical illustrations to chaps1,2. For the name קהֶֹלֶת (here without the article) see the Intr, & 1. Ecclesiastes 12:9. And moreover because the Preacher was wise. וְיֹתֵר (used substantively): “and the remainder” (comp. 1 Samuel 15:15), is here, and in verse12, clearly equivalent to: “and there remains,” namely, “to say.” The indirect construction follows here, introduced by שֶׁ (comp. the Lat. restat, ut, etc.), whilst in Ecclesiastes 12:12 we find the direct construction (comp. the Lat. Quod restat, or Ceterum). Gesenius, Winer, Knobel, Vaihinger, etc., translate וְיתֵֹר שֶׁהָיָה “and moreover, because,” and therefore accept this clause as preliminary, letting the subsequent one commence with עוֹד (Luther does the same: “This same Preacher was not only wise,” etc.; and Song of Solomon, in sense, the Vulgate: “Cumque esset sapientissimus Ecclesiastes”). But this is opposed partly by the analogy of the commencement, Ecclesiastes 5:12, and partly by the circumstance that the עוֹד alone could scarcely introduce the secondary clause. Hengst. correctly remarks concerning חָכָם: “A wise Prayer of Manasseh, not in the sense of the world, but of the kingdom of God, not from one’s self, but from God (comp. Ecclesiastes 12:11), so that this passage is not in contradiction with Proverbs 27:2 : ‘Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips.’ And nevertheless, Solomon could hardly have spoken thus of himself without incurring the censure of self-praise. And even another, who had written this with reference to him, would, in reality, have expressed something insipid and inappropriate, in case he really had the historic Solomon in his eye. For which reason the fictitious character of Koheleth, or his merely ideal identity with Solomon is quite apparent.—He still taught the people knowledge.—For עוד at the beginning of a sentence, comp. Genesis 19:12; Micah 6:10; Job 24:20.—Yea, he gave good heed, and sought out, and set in order many proverbs.—אִזֵּן “to consider, to weigh,” the root of מֹאזְנַיִם “balances.” This verb in conjunction with the following וְחִקֵּר shows the means whereby he “set in order” (תִּקֵּן comp. Ecclesiastes 1:15; Ecclesiastes 7:13), many proverbs. This product was the result of careful investigation and reflection—a relation of the three verbs to one another, which is clearly indicated by the absence of the copula before the third: תִּקֵּן; comp. Genesis 48:14; 1 Kings 13:18; Ewald, 333 c.—By the “many proverbs” (הַרְבֵּה as in Ecclesiastes 5:7; Ecclesiastes 9:8), the author evidently does not mean those mentioned in 1 Kings 5:12, but rather those sayings of Solomon that are contained in the Book of Proverbs; for he imitates mainly these latter in his own contained in this book.

Ecclesiastes 12:10. The Preacher sought to find out acceptable words.—דִּבְרֵי־חֵפֶץ, pleasant, agreeable words (λόγον χαριτος, Luke 4:23), comp. אַבְנֵי חֵפֶץ Isaiah 54:12. Here are naturally meant words acceptable not to the great mass, but to serious minds, heavenly inclined, and seeking wisdom; words of honeyed sweetness in the sense of Psalm 19:11, verba quæ, jure meritoque desiderari et placere debent, tamquam divinæ virtutis et certitudinis (S. Schmidt). The expression חֵפֶץ can scarcely relate to mere acceptability and adornment of the form of speech (as asserted by Hitzig and Elster).—And that which was written was upright, even words of truth. The passive participle וְכָתוּב expresses that which was written by the author in consequence of seeking after acceptable words; hence Herzfeld, and after him, Hengstenberg and Elster, are correct: “and thus then was written what was correct;” Ewald and Vaihinger, on the contrary, render erroneously: “but honest words were written,” which adversative rendering of the conjunction is decidedly injurious to the sense and opposed to the text. Hitzig reads וְכָתוֹב the infinitive absolute: “to find (לִמְצֹא) and write;” but this change is quite as unnecessary as the adverbial rendering of ישֶׁר in the sense of “correct, honest,” which latter rendering is also found in Luther, Knobel, Vaihinger, tlster, etc. It is מֵישָׁרִים that expresses this adverbial sense every where else ( Song of Solomon 1:4; Song of Solomon 7:10; Proverbs 23:31; Psalm 58:1). ישֶׁר, Isaiah, on the contrary, here, as every where, a substantive, meaning straightforwardness, uprightness; and that in which this uprightness consists is expressed by the words in apposition, דִּבְרֵי אֶמֶת—“words of truth,” e g., in true teaching, acceptable to God, and therefore bringing blessings; teachings of the genuine “heavenly wisdom.” Comp. Proverbs 8:6-10; James 3:17.

Ecclesiastes 12:11. The words of the wise are as goads.—The author, by bringing “the words of truth” under the general category of “words of the wise” (e g., of those ethical precepts as they issue from the circles of the Chakamim, to which he himself belongs according to Ecclesiastes 12:9), lends to them so much the more weighty significance and authority; for all that can be said in praise of the words of the Chakamim in general must now especially avail also of his proverbs and discourses. Hence the phrase דִּבְרֵי חֲכָמִים would be more fittingly rendered by: “Such words of wise men” (comp. Hitzig). Hengstenberg takes too narrow, or, if we will, too broad a view of the idea of “wise men,” when Hebrews, in connection with older authors, as Luther, Rambach, Starke, etc., sees therein only the inspired writers of the O. T, or the authors of the Canonical Books; according to which this verse would contain a literal and direct self-canonization. But this is opposed by the fact that חכמים elsewhere always means the authors of the characteristic Proverbial Wisdom of Solomon, or Chokmah, the teachings of the Solomonic and post-Solomonic era, which is to be clearly distinguished from the prophetic and lyrico-poetical [Psalmistic] literature (see 1 Kings 4:30 f.; Proverbs 1:6; Proverbs 22:17; Jeremiah 18:18; and comp. §3of the General Intr. to the Solomonic literature, Vol. XII, p 8 f.), so that Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, etc., could not possibly have been reckoned in this category. This is quite apart from the fact that such a self-canonization expressed in the manner aforesaid, would have been neither especially appropriate nor sufficiently clear. כַּדָּרְבֹנוֹת, “like goads,” e g., endowed with stinging, correctly aiming, and deeply penetrating effect, “verba, quæ aculeorum instar alte descendunt in pectora hominum, üsque manent infixa” (Gesenius; comp. Ewald, Hitzig, Hengstenberg and Elster). It is usually regarded as “ox-goads” (Septuagint, ὡς τὰ βούκεντρα; Targ, Talm, Rabb, and most of the moderns). But דָּרְבוֹן: or דָּרְבָן ( 1 Samuel 13:21), neither means specially, according to its etymology, a goad to drive cattle, nor does the parallel “as nails” lead exactly to this special meaning, to which the plural form of the expression would not be favorable. Neither is it the case that all the words of the wise, nor especially all the proverbs of this book, are of a goading, that Isaiah, an exhortatory, nature, as Hitzig very correctly observes. Therefore we must stop at the simple meaning of “goads,” and interpret this to signify the penetrating brevity, the inciting and searching influence of these precepts of wisdom of Koheleth and other wise men.—And as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies.—As the “fastened nails” doubtless form a synonym to the “goads,” so the masters of assemblies, literally “the colleagues of the assembly” [בַּעֲלֵי אֲסֻפוֹת comp. chap. Ecclesiastes 10:11; Ecclesiastes 10:20; Proverbs 1:17; Isaiah 41:15] can only be another expression for those “words of the wise.” We are therein to understand collected maxims of Wisdom of Solomon, united into one assembly or collection, and not merely well connected Proverbs, as Ewald and Elster would have it; for the verb אסךָ does not refer to the excellence and perfection of the collection; neither does the figure of the nails, which, at most, leads to the idea of juncture, and not to that of a specially beautiful and harmonious order. Highly unfitting also is the interpretation of בַּעֲלֵי אֲסֻפוֹת as “masters of assemblies” (Luther), e g., partakers in learned assemblies [Gesenius] or principals of learned schools, teachers of wisdom [Vaihinger, etc.], or even authors of the individual books of the sacred national library, or authors of the separate books of the Old Testament Canon [Hengstenberg]. This personal signification of the expression is forbidden once for all by the parallelism with the “words of wisdom” in the first clause.—Which are given from one shepherd.—“That Isaiah, in so far as the “words of the wise” in the preceding book are united, they proceed from one author, who was not only a wise Prayer of Manasseh, but a “shepherd” in the bargain, i.e., a wise teacher, the leader of a congregation, an elder of the synagogue. For this sense of “shepherd” as chief of a school, or a priestly teacher, comp. Jeremiah 2:8; Jeremiah 3:15; Jeremiah 10:21; Jeremiah 23:4. The oneness of the authorship is here thus pointedly expressed by way of contrast to the many “wise men” in the first clause. To refer the expression to God [Hieron, Geier, Michaelis, Starke, Hengstenberg, Herzfeld, Knobel, etc.], is quite as arbitrary as a reference to Moses [Targ.], to the historic Solomon [Jablonski, etc.], to Zerubbadbel [Grotius], or as the emendation מרְעֶה for מֵרֹעֶה by virtue of which Hitzig translates: “which are given united as a pasture” [reading נתנוּ instead ofנָתְנוּ]

3. Second strophe. Ecclesiastes 12:12-14. The positive result of the book as a self-speaking testimony for the truth, worth, and weight of its contents.—And further, by these, my Song of Solomon, be admonished.—The word מֵהֵמָּה is closely but improperly connected by the Masoretic accentuation with וְיֹתֵר (it can as well be absolute as in Ecclesiastes 12:9 above): it refers to the “words of the wise given by one shepherd,” contained in Ecclesiastes 12:11, and thus, in short, to the maxims of this book [not of the entire Old Testament Canon, as Hengstenberg thinks], “From them” [comp. Genesis 9:11; Isaiah 28:7], the reader, the “son” of the wise teacher, is to be admonished. For בְּנִי “my Song of Solomon,” which is equivalent to my scholar; compare Proverbs 1:8; Proverbs 10:15; Proverbs 2:1, etc., and for הִזָהֵר “be admonished,” “accept Wisdom of Solomon,Ecclesiastes 4:13, preceding.—Of making many books there is no end.—That Isaiah, beware of the unfruitful, even dangerous, wisdom which others [partly in Israel, partly among the heathen, e g., Egyptians, Persians, Greeks, etc.—Comp. Intr, 3, Obs.] endeavor to spread and inculcate in numberless writings. 4]It is not worldly literature, in general, in contrast to the spiritual literature of Divinely inspired writings, against which the author utters a warning (Hengstenberg), but the useless and deceitful literature of others which he contrasts with that genuine wisdom taught by him. The countless elaborations of false philosophers [ Colossians 2:8], as they already then in the bloom of Hellenistic sophistry were beginning to fill the world, are presented to his readers by way of warning, as a foul and turbid flood of perverted and ruinous opinions, by which they ought not to permit themselves to be carried away. Herzfeld takes the infinitive עֲשוֹת as a genitive dependent on אֵין קֵץ, and renders אֵין in a conditional sense, “to making many books there would be no end.” Hitzig opposes this rendering, but improperly takes אֵין קֵץ as a mere adverbial modifier to הַרְבֵּה instead of the מְאֹד elsewhere customary in such connection, and hence translates “the making of very many books,” requiring much exertion ofthe mind (להג) “is weariness of the body.” Thereby Koheleth would give his readers to understand that he might have written for them whole books filled with maxims of wisdom (comp. John 21:25), but would rather not do this, as being useless and fatiguing. But the term “infinitely many” would then involve a very strong hyperbole; and the equality and rhythmical harmony of the construction would be too much destroyed by such an affirmation of two subjects for the predicate יִגְעַת בָּשָׂר—And much study; Namely, the study of many books, much reading (Aben Ezra, Ewald,Vaihinger, Elster, etc.) not the writing of books (Hitzig), nor the thirst after knowledge (Hengstenberg), nor preaching (Luther, Hahn, etc.),—these are all renderings at variance with the simple and clear sense of לַהַג הַרְבֵּה.—Is a weariness of the flesh.—Vaihinger correctly says, “the passion for reading, which weakens mind and body, whilst fruitful reflection strengthens both. Such a morbid desire corresponds entirely with the later Jewish eras. 5] See above, Ecclesiastes 1:18.

Ecclesiastes 12:13. Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: In contrast, that Isaiah, to this useless making of many books and much reading. סוף, “the end” (comp. Ecclesiastes 3:11; Ecclesiastes 7:2) does not literally signify the sum of all that has been previously said, but the limit which the author wishes just now to set to his discourse, the practical conclusion by which we are to abide. Therein we see that it is not the total and all-comprehending result of his observations and teachings, but only the positive or practical side of this result (in contrast to the negative one expressed in Ecclesiastes 12:8) that he will now express in the following maxim; see above No1.—דָּבָר points, even without an article, to the precise discourse of this book, and therefore to the entirety of דִּבְרֵי קהֶֹלֶת (comp. Ecclesiastes 1:1, and for דָּבָר in this collective sense, see 1 Samuel 3:17; Joshua 21:43, etc.) הַכֹּל is really in apposition with דָּבָר, consequently, when strictly taken is to be translated, “ the end of the discourse,—of the whole,” and not, “the end of the whole discourse.” And therewith it is indeed intimated that in the end of the discourse the whole is included, or that the final thought is the ground thought (or at least one principal thought); comp. Hengstenberg and Vaihinger. Observe also that by the mutualנִשְׁמַע “let us hear,” the author subjects hjmself to the absolute commandment of fearing God and obeying Him.—Fear God, and keep His commandments. Literally, “God fear”—the object of fear emphatically placed before, as in Ecclesiastes 5:7.—For this is the whole duty of man. There is an ellipsis of the verb in the original, for which comp. Ecclesiastes 2:12; Jeremiah 23:5; Jeremiah 26:9. The correctness of our rendering, which is the same as Luther’s (“for that belongs to all men”) is confirmed by verse14, where we are informed of a divine judgment of all men regarding their works. The Vulgate, Ewald, Herz-ield, and Elster say, “for that is the whole Prayer of Manasseh,” which is as much as saying, “thereon rests his entire fate.” But this sense would be very obscurely expressed; and כָּל־הָאָדָם, moreover, never means “the whole Prayer of Manasseh,” but "every Prayer of Manasseh,” “all men. 6] Ecclesiastes 12:14.—For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing. (Zöckler renders: “Judgment upon every hidden thing”). This direct connection of על כָּל־נֶעְלָם with the preceding בּמִשְׁפָּט is sustained by the construction of the verb שָׁפַט in Niphal with על, Jeremiah 2:35, as well as by the frequent use of עַל in the sense of “on account,” “concerning” The view of Hitzig that עַל here stands for ל, the particle of relation, is too artificial, as is that of Vaihinger and Hahn, that על=עם “together with every secret thing.” The natural meaning Isaiah, the judgment in the next world, as also in Ecclesiastes 9:9, not simply that which is executed in the ordinary development of this world. This view is supported also by the addition, “every secret thing,” compared with Romans 2:16; 1 Corinthians 4:5, as well as by the subsequent, “whether it be good, or whether it be evil,”compared with 2 Corinthians 5:10; John 5:29, etc. Still the present judgment, executed in the history of the world, may come into consideration, here as well as in Ecclesiastes 9:9, and Psalm 90:8. (Comp. John 3:17 ff.; Ephesians 5:13, etc.).

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

(With Homiletical Hints)

The ground thought of this closing section, as already developed in No 1 of the exegetical illustrations, is about as follows: The speech of the truly wise man infallibly proves itself to be such by its inner strength and truth; its effect, penetrating, like goads and nails, deeply into the heart, sharpening the dull conscience, mightily summoning the whole man to the fear of God and obedience to His sacred commandments, testifies in the most direct manner to its harmony with the word of God,—yes, even to its divine origin and character. It is the voice of eternity in time, of the imperishable, ever-living truth, rescuing us from sin and death in the midst of the vanity of this world. Thus is it to be understood when the preacher of the genuine truth proclaims to his hearers these two great truths of revelation: “All is vanity,” and, “Fear God and keep His commandments,” and thus it guides them to a correct knowledge of sin as well as of the way of salvation,—of the law as of the gospel.

In accordance with this, the theme for a succinct homiletical treatment of the section, would be about the following: Of the inward power and truth of the divine word, as is shown in the preaching of the law and gospel (of repentance and faith) as the immutably connected, and fundamental elements of divine revelation.—Or, the knowledge of the vanity of all earthly things as the foundation for the knowledge and inheritance of heavenly glory.—Or: Of the wholesomeness of the wounds inflicted by the goads of the divine word.

HOMILETICAL HINTS TO SEPARATE PASSAGES

Ecclesiastes 12:9-10. Cramer:—It is not enough that a teacher be simply learned unto himself; it is his duty to serve others with the talent that God has given him, and not to bury it.—Starke:—He alone is skilful in leading others into the way of truth who himself has been a pupil of truth, who has been instructed in the school of Jesus. Geier ( Ecclesiastes 12:10):—Every one who speaks or writes should endeavor with all zeal to present nothing but what is just, true, lovely, and edifying, Philippians 4:8; 1 Peter 4:11.

Ecclesiastes 12:11-12. Brenz:—Unless you lay the foundation of faith in the word of God, you will be the sport of every wind; much reading, frequent hearing of discourses, will bring more of error, disquietude, and perturbation, than of genuine fruit.—Luther:—He exhorts us not to be led away by various and strange teachings. It is as if he had said: You have an excellent teacher; beware of new teachers; for the words of this teacher are goads and spears. Such also were David’s and the prophets’. But the bungler’s words are like foam on the water.—Geier:—In sermons and other edifying discourses, we must not speak words of human Wisdom of Solomon, or fables and idle’prattle, but the words of the holy men of God, which are, themselves, the words of the living God; godly preaching is proof of the spirit and the power, 1 Corinthians 2:4.—Hengstenberg:—We have here a rule for the demeanor of hearers towards the sermon; they are not to be annoyed if its goad penetrates them.

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14. Melanchthon:—He sets forth a final rule which ought to be the guide of all counsels and actions: Look to God and His teaching; depart not from it, and be assured that he who thus departs rushes, without doubt, into darkness, into the snares of the devil, and into the direst punishments. Refer all counsels and all actions to this end, namely, obedience to God. Starke:—A sure sign of genuine fear of God, is to be zealous in keeping the commandments of God by the grace of the Holy Ghost.—Sibel:—Since God has given to us the spirit, let us keep pure and sound this noble deposit, that we may thus return it to the Giver and the Creator. So good and faithful men are wont to guard a deposit committed to their care ( 1 Timothy 6:20). On the health of the soul depends the health of the body, and of the whole man. The soul saved we lose nothing; when that is lost all perishes. Zeyss:—The thought of the day of judgment, is a salutary medicine against false security ( Sirach 7:40), and a sweet promise of the rewards of mercy in eternal life. Wolle:—Because God is infinitely just, He will neither let hidden evil be unpunished, nor hidden good be unrewarded. To Him therefore be all the glory forevermore.

AMEN.

Footnotes:

FN#2 - The correctness of this would depend entirely upon the view we take of the preceding description. If it is the old age of the sensualist, the “aged sinner,” as Watts calls him, and as we have maintained in the note preceding the exegetical remarks on the section,—then this exclamation: Oh, Vanity! all vanity! Would be a very appropriate close. At the beginning of this scholium it would seem out of place under any circumstances, except, perhaps, as an imitation of the beginning of the book, for which there can be assigned no reason in any connection it has with what follows, whether regarded as all appended by a scholiast, or, which is the most probable view, that Ecclesiastes 12:9-10 are an inserted prose note by some other hand, intended to call special attention to the weighty concluding words that follow from the original author. These are clearly poetry, and as rhythmical as any thing in the book. Such inserted scholia should create no more difficulty than their evident appearance in Genesis, and elsewhere in the Pentateuch. The remark that follows, about the force of the conjunction ו has no weight whatever. It is so often used as a mere transition particle; and the idea of any logical, or even rhetorical, connection between the exclamation and the plain prosaic annotation that follows is absurd.—T. L.]

FN#3 - It should be said, rather, that the two divisions are made by the9,10, on the one hand, and all that follows on the other. The fact that Ecclesiastes 12:12 begins with וְיֹתֵר is of no importance in this respect. But that which has a decided bearing on the division is overlooked, namely, that the first (9,10) is the plainest prose, whilst the second (beginning with the 11 th) most clearly returns to the poetical both in thought and diction,—a fact which shows that the first belongs to a scholiast, the second to the main and original author of the book. See the Metrical Version.—T. L.]

FN#4 - See the remarks in Appendix to Introduction, p30, on ספרים as referring here to this very book of Koheleth itself,—the plural either denoting chapters, or parts of one treatise, as the term is used by Greek and Latin writers, or being equivalent to πολλὰ γράμματα, or multæ literæ, “much writing.” It may be rendered, therefore, collectively, or in the singular: “in making a great book there is no end.” It is an endless, a useless, labor. What is already written is enough; “therefore let us hear,” etc.—T. L.]

FN#5 - There is no maintaining this unless the date of Koheleth is brought down to a period nearly, if not quite, cotemporaneous with the Christian era. Even then, there was no such establishment of Jewish schools, or spread of Jewish books, as would render credible the existence among them of such a Lesewuth, or Lesesucht (“passion for reading,” “morbid desire for reading”) as is here spoken of by Zöckler and Hitzig. Such an idea is not hinted at in the New Testament. All this shows the difficulty of finding any place for this book of Koheleth between the time of Solomon and that of Christ. The application of such a remark to the times of Malachi would be utterly absurd.—T. L.]

FN#6 - כָּל, in the construct. state, rather means, “the whole of man.” The other expression, “every Prayer of Manasseh,” might have the construct. from, but כֹּל, the absolute, with or without the article, would be the best adapted to it.—T. L.]

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 12:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/ecclesiastes-12.html. 1857-84.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, October 19th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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