|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:9-11 Men's hearts and their corruptions are the same now as in former times; their desires, and pursuits, and complaints, still the same. This should take us from expecting happiness in the creature, and quicken us to seek eternal blessings. How many things and persons in Solomon's day were thought very great, yet there is no remembrance of them now!
Verse 11. - There is no remembrance of former things; rather, of former men - per-sons who lived in former times. As things are considered novel only because they had been forgotten, so we men ourselves shall pass away, and be no more remembered. Bailey, 'Festus '-
"Adversity, prosperity, the grave,
Play a round game with friends. On some the world
Hath shot its evil eye, and they are passel
From honor and remembrance; and stare
Is all the mention of their names receives;
And people know no more of them than they know
The shapes of clouds at midnight a year hence." Neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after; rather, and even of later generations that shall be there will be no remembrance of them with those that shall be in the after-time. Wright quotes Marcus Aurelius, who has much to say on this subject. Thus: cap. 2:17, "Posthumous fame is oblivion;" cap. 3:10, "Every man's life lies all within the present; for the past is spent and done with, and the future is uncertain;" cap. 4:33, "Those words which were formerly current and proper are now become obsolete and barbarous. Alas l this is not all: fame tarnishes in time, too, and men grow out of fashion as well as language. Those celebrated names of ancient story am antiquated; those of later date have the same fortune; and those of present celebrity must follow. I speak this of those who have been the wonder of their age, and shined with unusual luster; but as for the rest, they are no sooner dead than forgotten" (comp. Wisd. 2:4). (On the keen desire to live in the memory of posterity, see Ecclus. 37:26 Ecclus. 44:7, etc.)
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
There is no remembrance of former things,.... Which is the reason why some things that are really old are thought to be new; because either the memories of men fail them, they do not remember the customs and usages which were in the former part of their own lives, now grown old; or they are ignorant of what were in ages past, through want of history, or defect in it; either they have no history at all, or what they have is false; or if true, as there is very little that is so, it is very deficient; and, among the many things that have been, very few are transmitted to posterity, so that the memory of things is lost; therefore who can say with certainty of anything, this is new, and was never known in the world before? and the same for the future will be the case of present things; see Ecclesiastes 2:16;
neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after; this will be the case of things present and future, that they will be buried in oblivion, and lie unknown to posterity that shall come after the things that are done; and if any person or persons should rise up and do the same things, they may be called new, though they are in fact old, for want of knowing that they were before. The Targum is,
"there is no remembrance of former generations; and even of later ones, that shall be, there will be no remembrance of them, with the generations of them that shall be in the days of the King Messiah.''
R. Alshech interprets it of the resurrection of the dead.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
11. The reason why some things are thought "new," which are not really so, is the imperfect record that exists of preceding ages among their successors.
those that … come after—that is, those that live still later than the "things, rather the persons or generations, Ec 1:4, with which this verse is connected, the six intermediate verses being merely illustrations of Ec 1:4 [Weiss], that are to come" (Ec 2:16; 9:5).
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