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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Ecclesiastes 1:10

Is there anything of which one might say, "See this, it is new"? Already it has existed for ages Which were before us.

Adam Clarke Commentary

Is there any thing, etc. - The original is beautiful. "Is there any thing which will say, See this! it is new?" Men may say this of their discoveries, etc.; but universal nature says, It is not new. It has been, and it will be.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 1:10". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/ecclesiastes-1.html. 1832.

The Biblical Illustrator

Ecclesiastes 1:10

Is there anything whereof it may be said, See, this is new?

Something new

You remember that when Paul visited Athens his attention seems to have been especially attracted by two things: that the city was so full of idols; that the people who dwelt there were so given to change and novelty. “For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing.” When we read these words we are ready at first to exclaim, What a remarkable people these ancient Athenians must have been! Surely we have in them man’s desire for novelty exemplified in a strangely exaggerated and quite exceptional form. But who can read these words without feeling that they describe the prevailing habit and attitude of the human mind? Go to those places where men and women “mostly congregate”--where they meet or work, or walk in friendly intercourse, and wheat do we see? Why, the same spectacle which engaged the attention of Paul at Athens--some telling, others hearing, some new thing. Human nature is unchanged by the lapse of centuries; it cherishes the same desires. Anything new, while the charm of novelty remains, will awaken a degree of interest which is quite out of proportion to the intrinsic worth of the thing itself.

I. Man’s hopeless inquiry, “Is there anything whereof it may be said, See, this is new?” This is evidently the inquiry of some one who has long been engaged in a fruitless and unsatisfactory search after some new thing. Of course, there is very much which is circumstantially new--relatively new--new in form--new in use. We have new machinery, new modes of locomotion, new houses, Hew furniture, new methods of preparing food; indeed, in one sense, the world seems filled with novelties. But all this does not seem to touch upon, or noticeably to lessen, what some one has called “the miserable monotony of human life.” There is something very wonderful and very solemn in the sameness of human life, in the fact that there is nothing new; that there is, with all superficial differences, a substantial uniformity and monotony in human character and experience. If we look upon the family of man, in its present condition or in its past history, we are at first almost bewildered by the endless diversity of appearances. We find age differ from age, country from country, race from race, class from class, individual from individual. And yet, if we disregard the accidents of human life, its mere circumstances, and confine our attention to its essentials--to life itself, what do we find? We can distinguish through successive generations, not only the same leading types, but also the minute varieties of human character. The same feelings, motives, desires, principles of action, are operating now as powerfully and distinctly as before the flood; then and now might we see the glow of love, the elation of hope, the outpouring of gratitude. And we find that the ambition, the avarice, the pride, the sensuality of the nineteenth century after Christ, correspond in character and action with those same evil principles as they were displayed in the nineteenth century before Christ. All the cardinal sins are existing as veritably now as in any previous age. There is very little originality in sin. We are called to contend with, and, if may be, vanquish “old foes with new faces.” It is because we are men of like passion with those that have preceded us, that the history of the past is intelligible. We find that the sins which called down the curses of Heaven ages and generations ago are still being perpetrated in our midst. Do you think that Eli’s were the only disobedient children, who have brought their parents to grief? I might easily enlarge on this subject. I will confine myself to one illustration--Man’s vain and fruitless inquiry after some new thing, an inquiry, the prosecution of which, in some form or another, has distinguished man in every age of the world. Take the case of Solomon. In this quest he spent a considerable portion of his life; and he left off with a sigh of disappointment, and with an inquiry expressive of utter hopelessness. Instead of dwelling on the mere fact, I would point out its significance. I would remind you that the fact of your inquiring, with all this feverish anxiety after “something new,” reveals to us in a very clear, though sad and humiliating manner, the hollow, monotonous, unsatisfying nature of your past lives. What is the secret of your desire for something new in the future? Is it not, to a great extent, your dissatisfaction with the pasty Now, without knowing anything about your lives individually, I am able to say something concerning them, the truth of which you will all readily admit--that they do not present to you at this moment a very satisfactory appearance. Let us take the most favourable example we can find. We Speak of youth as a season of happiness. But are we correct in our estimate? There is a certain exemption from the cares of maturity--there is a certain buoyancy and elation of spirit, which we do not, to the full extent, retain. But, my young friends, tell me, Has the world made you happy? The old man is so dissatisfied, that he believes that he must have been more happy in some previous period of life than he is now. The young man, not less dissatisfied, believes that a hitherto undiscovered happiness is waiting for him in the future. What, then, is the fact which demands our attention? It is this. You have always been going on from point to point, inquiring after “something new”: and your inquiry for the new is a confession as to the insufficiency of the old. As you pressed on in your way you have seen fruit hanging in the richest and most tempting clusters. You have plucked and tasted, and they have been as the apples of Sodom. What a spectacle does our world at this moment present! You see men everywhere seeking for happiness and rest, and finding them not. But this unceasing search after “something new,” not merely reveals the unsatisfactory nature of the past,--it ought also to suggest an important caution as to the future. Is it not reasonable that you should pause in your pursuit, and inquire if it is likely that you will find, in the direction in which you have hitherto gone, anything which will really satisfy you? Is it reasonable for a man to go grovelling along, hugging a delusion like this? As long as you continue to indulge the hope of finding happiness and satisfaction in this world, you will never look above or beyond this world for them. Let us admit that in the future everything will turn out as you propose--as you desire. What then? “Why, that the future will be as the past. You are seeking happiness, you are seeking contentment in the wrong way; your faces are set in the wrong direction.” We see, then, where the mistake is. We want some new thing, but it is within, and not without ourselves.

II. God’s gracious and satisfactory reply. To all these dissatisfied searchers after novelty, we can hear God say, “If any man be in Christ he is a new creature; old things are passed away, behold all things are become new.” Yes, this is our great necessity, to become new creatures in Christ Jesus; then shall we find old things pass away, and all things become new. Do you want a new experience? You may have it in communion and fellowship with Christ. Do you, wearied with the familiar and unsatisfying objects of the world, want new sources of enjoyment and new objects of contemplation and pursuit? All these you will realize in a life in Christ. (T. M. Morris.)

Life in the light of Christ

Since Ecclesiastes meditated on the problems of human life, one really “new thing” has been seen. The “Sun of Righteousness” has risen upon the world “with healing in His wings.” The Word of God took flesh, and dwelt among men. The Only-begotten Son has revealed the Eternal Father, and has “brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel.” This new manifestation of God--this new and fuller revelation of His redeeming purpose for mankind--has entered as a modifying factor into human experience. The cardinal features of life remain as before; but they take on a new aspect when they are seen in the light of our Father’s love, and of that glorious immortality for which He is seeking to train us. What may be as “vanity,” when it is considered as an end, may be anything but “vain” when it is considered as a means. A scaffolding may be a poor affair; but what if a beautiful and substantial temple is being reared within it? A schoolroom, with its appropriate furniture, might not be a Satisfying home; nevertheless it may well fulfil the purposes of education and discipline. The perishable may minister to the everlasting. The unprofitable may lead to higher gains. The unsatisfying may awaken a craving for that which will truly fill the soul. From this point of view the essential sameness of life through the ages bears its testimony to the persistent purpose of God and the constant needs of humanity. Why should not the schoolroom remain the same, if it has been adapted by Infinite Wisdom for the training and discipline of immortal souls? Human life, viewed in itself, as a brief span of existence bounded by death, may be as “vanity”: but human life viewed in the light of Christ and immortality, is an arena of education by probation--a sphere for the formation of spiritual and enduring character, and for the service of a living and loving Father. (T. C. Finlayson.)


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Bibliography
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Ecclesiastes 1:10". The Biblical Illustrator. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/ecclesiastes-1.html. 1905-1909. New York.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Is there any thing whereof it may be said, see, this is new?.... This is an appeal to all men for the truth of the above observation, and carries in it a strong denial that there is anything new under the sun; and is an address to men to inquire into the truth of it, and thoroughly examine it, and see if they can produce any material objection to it; look into the natural world, and the same natural causes will be seen producing the same effects; or into the moral world, and there are the same virtues, and their contrary; or into the political world, and the same schemes are forming and pursuing, and which issue in the same things, peace or war; or into the learned world, and the same languages, arts, and sciences, are taught and learned; and the same things said over againF9"Nullum est jam dictum, quod non dictum sit prius", Terent Prolog. Eunuch. v. 41. : or into the mechanic world, and the same trades and businesses are carrying on: or the words may be considered as a concession, and carry in them the form of an objection, "there is a thingF11יש דבר "est quidpiam", Pagninus, Mercerus, Gejerus; "est res", Drusius, Cocceius, Rambachius. whereof it may be said", or a man may say, "see, this is new"; so the Targum; there were some things in Solomon's time it is allowed that might be objected, as there are in ours, to which the answer is,

it hath been already of old time which was before us; what things are reckoned new are not so; they were known and in use in ages past, long before we had a being. R. Alshech takes the words to be an assertion, and not an interrogation, and interprets it of a spiritual temple in time to come, which yet was created before the world was.


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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855

Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 1:10". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/ecclesiastes-1.html. 1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

old timeHebrew, “ages.”

which was — The Hebrew plural cannot be joined to the verb singular. Therefore translate: “It hath been in the ages before; certainly it hath been before us” [Holden]. Or, as Maurer: “That which has been (done) before us (in our presence, 1 Chronicles 16:33), has been (done) already in the old times.”


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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 1:10". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/ecclesiastes-1.html. 1871-8.

Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament

“Is there anything whereof it may be said: See, this is new? - it was long ago through the ages (aeons) which have been before us.” The Semit. substantive verb ישׁ (Assyr. isu ) has here the force of a hypothetical antecedent: supposing that there is a thing of which one might say, etc. The זה , with Makkeph , belongs as subject, as at Ecclesiastes 7:27, Ecclesiastes 7:29 as object, to that which follows. כּבר ( vid ., List, p. 193) properly denotes length or greatness of time (as כּברה , length of way). The ל of לע is that of measure: this “long ago” measured (Hitz.) after infinitely long periods of time. מלּ , ante nos , follows the usage of מלּף , Isaiah 41:26, and l|paa', Judges 1:10, etc.; the past time is spoken of as that which was before, for it is thought of as the beginning of the succession of time ( vid ., Orelli, Synon. der Zeit u. Ewigkeit , p. 14f.). The singular היה may also be viewed as pred. of a plur. inhumanus in order; but in connection, Ecclesiastes 2:7, Ecclesiastes 2:9 (Gesen. §147, An. 2), it is more probable that it is taken as a neut. verb. That which newly appears has already been, but had been forgotten; for generations come and generations go, and the one forgets the other.


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The Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.

Bibliography
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 1:10". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/kdo/ecclesiastes-1.html. 1854-1889.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Ecclesiastes 1:10 Is there [any] thing whereof it may be said, See, this [is] new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us.

Ver. 10. Is there anything whereof it may be said, See, this is new?] Hoc ego primus vidi, saith Zabarel. But how could he tell that? Many men have been so befooled. We look upon guns and printing as new inventions; the former found out by Birchtoldin the monk, A.D. 1380, the other by friar Faustus, A.D. 1446. But the Chinese are said to have had the use of both these long before. Should we then so eagerly hunt after novelties, those mere new nothings, till we lose ourselves in the chase? Nil admirari prope res est una Numici. Get spiritual eyes rather to behold the beauty of the new creature (all other things are but nine days’ wonderment), the bravery of the new Jerusalem. Yea, get this natural itch after novelties killed by the practice of mortification, and get into Christ, that thou mayest be a new creature. So shalt thou have a new name upon thee; [Isaiah 62:2] a new spirit within thee; [Ezekiel 36:27] new alliance; [Ephesians 2:14] new attendants; [Psalms 91:11] new wages, new work; [Isaiah 62:11] a new commandment; [1 John 2:8] a new covenant; [Jeremiah 31:33] a new way to heaven; [Hebrews 10:20] and a new mansion in heaven. [John 14:2 2 Corinthians 5:8]


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 1:10". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/ecclesiastes-1.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Ecclesiastes 1:10. Is there any thing whereof, &c.— Is there any thing that will say, See this! this is new. Thus the beauty and energy of the original are preserved.


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Bibliography
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 1:10". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/ecclesiastes-1.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

For the proof hereof I appeal to the consciences and experiences of all men. It hath been already of old thee; the same things have been said and done before, though possibly we did not know it.


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 1:10". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/ecclesiastes-1.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

10. This idea is now carried to less frequent phenomena, as eclipses, earthquakes, etc.

Is there any thing — Hebrew, be there any thing; this is not a question but a supposition, “if there be any thing.” Geologists are of opinion that most, if not all, of the processes of nature now observed, have in previous periods taken place, though perhaps with far greater energy than now. Such is the permanence of the constitution and course of nature!


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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 1:10". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/ecclesiastes-1.html. 1874-1909.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

New. Such vicissitudes have occurred before, though we must not infer that the world is eternal; or that there have been many others before this, as Origen would suppose. (Prin. iii. 5., &c.) (Calmet) --- Men's souls, which are created daily, are nevertheless of the same sort as Adam's was; and creatures proceed from others of the same species, which have been from the beginning. (St. Thomas Aquinas, [Summa Theologiae] p. 1. q. 73.) (Worthington) --- Natural and moral things continue much the same. (Menochius)


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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 1:10". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/ecclesiastes-1.html. 1859.

Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible

"Is there anything of which one might say, "See this, it is new"? Already it has existed for ages which were before us."

"See this, it is new"-Such a statement only proves the point being made in . Our memories are short-lived. What we think is new is only new to us. And it is very easy to see the above truth once you have lived for some time. Fashions, trends, hairstyles, kids names, music, etc….all end up coming back. Things go out of style and then they come back in style. And what one generation was tired of, another generation greedily exclaims, "this is the greatest!" The same thing is seen in the religious world. What some denomination discards, another group will pick up and think it has just found the ultimate key to church growth or instant spirituality. Unfortunately, many of our liberal brethren are caught up in the above web of thinking that some practice or belief that is new to them is what the church can"t survive without.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 1:10". "Mark Dunagan Commentaries on the Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dun/ecclesiastes-1.html. 1999-2014.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us.

Old time (Hebrew, ages), which was. The Hebrew plural cannot be joined to the verb singular. Therefore translate, 'It hath been in the ages before; certainly it hath been before us' (Holden). Or, as Maurer, 'That which has been (done) before us (in our presence, 1 Chronicles 16:33), has been (done) already in the old times.'


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 1:10". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/ecclesiastes-1.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(10) Of old time.—The Hebrew word here is peculiar to Ecclesiastes, where it occurs eight times (Ecclesiastes 2:12; Ecclesiastes 2:16; Ecclesiastes 3:15; Ecclesiastes 4:2; Ecclesiastes 6:10; Ecclesiastes 9:6-7), but is common in later Hebrew.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 1:10". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/ecclesiastes-1.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us.
it hath
Matthew 5:12; 23:30-32; Luke 17:26-30; Acts 7:51; 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16; 2 Timothy 3:8

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 1:10". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/ecclesiastes-1.html.

Ecclesiastes 1:10. Many an undertaking gives promise at its commencement of passing beyond the limits fixed by the old curse-laden world. The world exultingly shouts them welcome. But very soon it becomes evident that in them also a worm is concealed, and they sink down to a level with that which our poor earth has produced in former ages. So was it with the happiness of the days of Solomon, in the background of which there lay decay and ruin, and whose end was such, that men were driven to exclaim, "Lord have mercy," and, "Oh! that thou wouldest rend the heavens and wouldest come down!" It still remains a truth that "here is no true good to be found, and what the world holds in itself must vanish in a moment."


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 1:10". Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/heg/ecclesiastes-1.html.

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