New International Version
All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing.
New Living Translation
Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content.
English Standard Version
All things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.
New American Standard Bible
All things are wearisome; Man is not able to tell it. The eye is not satisfied with seeing, Nor is the ear filled with hearing.
King James Bible
All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.
Holman Christian Standard Bible
All things are wearisome; man is unable to speak. The eye is not satisfied by seeing or the ear filled with hearing.
International Standard Version
Everything is wearisome, more than man is able to express. The eye is never satisfied by seeing, nor the ear by hearing.
All this monotony is tiresome; no one can bear to describe it: The eye is never satisfied with seeing, nor is the ear ever content with hearing.
GOD'S WORD® Translation
All of these sayings are worn-out phrases. They are more than anyone can express, comprehend, or understand.
JPS Tanakh 1917
All things toil to weariness; Man cannot utter it, The eye is not satisfied with seeing, Nor the ear filled with hearing.
New American Standard 1977
All things are wearisome;
Man is not able to tell it.
The eye is not satisfied with seeing,
Nor is the ear filled with hearing.
Parallel CommentariesMatthew Henry's Concise Commentary
1:4-8 All things change, and never rest. Man, after all his labour, is no nearer finding rest than the sun, the wind, or the current of the river. His soul will find no rest, if he has it not from God. The senses are soon tired, yet still craving what is untried.
Verse 8. - All things are full of labor. Taking the word dabar in the sense of "ward" (compare the Greek ῤῆμα), the LXX. translates, "All words are wearisome;" i.e. to go through the whole catalogue of such things as those mentioned in the preceding verses would be a laborious and unprofitable task. The Targum and many modern expositors approve this rendering. But besides that, the word yaged implies suffering, not causing, weariness (Deuteronomy 25:18; Job 3:17); the run of the sentence is unnecessarily interrupted by such an assertion, when one is expecting a conclusion from the instances given above. The Vulgate has, cunetse res difficiles. The idea, as Motais has seen, is this - Man's life is constrained by the same law as his surroundings; he goes on his course subject to influences which he cannot control; in spite of his efforts, he can never be independent. This conclusion is developed in succeeding verses. In the present verse the proposition with which it starts is explained by what follows. All things have been the object of much labor; men have elaborately examined everything; yet the result is most unsatisfactory, the end is not reached; words cannot express it, neither eye nor ear can apprehend it. This is the view of St. Jerome, who writes, "Non solum do physicis, sed de ethicis quoque scirc difficile est. Nec sermo valet explicare causas natu-rasque rerum, nec oculus, ut rei poscit dignitas, intueri, nec auris, instituente doctore, ad summam scientiam pervenirc. Si enim nunc 'per speculum videmus in aenigmate; et ex parte cognoscimus, et ex parte prophetamus,' consequenter nec sermo potest explicate quod nescit; nec oculus in quo caecutit, aspiecre; nec auris, de quo dubitat, impleri." Delitzsch, Nowack, Wright, and others render, "All things are in restless activity;" i.e. constant movement pervades the whole world, and yet no visible conclusion is attained. This, however true, does not seem to be the point insisted on by the author, whose intention is, as we have said, to show that man, like nature, is confined to a circle from which he cannot free himself; and though he uses all the powers with, which he is endowed to penetrate the enigma of life and to rise superior to his environments, he is wholly unable to effect anything in these matters. Man cannot utter it. He cannot explain all things. Koheleth does not affirm that man can know nothing, that he can attain to no certitude, that reason will not teach him to apprehend any truth; his contention is that the inner cause and meaning elude his faculties, that his knowledge is concerned only with accidents and externals, and that there is still some depth which his powers cannot fathom. The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. Use his eight as he may, listen to the sounds around him, attend to the instructions of professed teachers, man makes no real advance in knowledge of the mysteries in which he is involved; the paradox is inexplicable. We have, in Proverbs 27:20, "Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied; and the eyes of man are never satisfied." Plumptre quotes Lucretins's expression (2. 1038)," Fessus satiate videndi." "Remember," says Thomas a Kempis ('De Imitat.,' 1:1.5), "the proverb, that the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear with hearing. Eudeavour, therefore, to withdraw thy heart from the love of visible things, and to transfer thyself to the invisible. For they that follow their sensuality do stain their conscience and lose the grace of God."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
All things are full of labour,.... Or "are laborious" (g); gotten by labour, and attended with fatigue and weariness; riches are got by labour, and those who load themselves with thick clay, as gold and silver be, weary themselves with it; honour and glory, crowns and kingdoms, are weighty cares, and very fatiguing to those that have them; much study to acquire knowledge is a weariness to the flesh; and as men even weary themselves to commit iniquity, it is no wonder that religious exercises should be a weariness to a natural man, and a carnal professor;
man cannot utter it; or declare all the things that are laborious and fatiguing, nor all the labour they are full of; time would fail, and words be wanting to express the whole; all the vanity, unprofitableness, and unsatisfying nature of all things below the sun; particularly
the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing; both one and the other require new objects continually; the pleasure of these senses is blunted by the same objects constantly presented; men are always seeking new ones, and when they have got them they want others; whatever curious thing is to be seen the eye craves it; and, after it has dwelt on it a while, it grows tired of it, and wants something else to divert it; and so the ear is delighted with musical sounds, but in time loses the taste of them, and seeks for others; and in discourse and conversation never easy, unless, like the Athenians, it hears some new things, and which quickly grow stale, and then wants fresh ones still: and indeed the spiritual eye and ear will never be satisfied in this life, until the soul comes into the perfect state of blessedness, and beholds the face of God, and sees him as he is; and sees and hears what eye hath not seen, nor ear heard below. The Targum is,
"all the words that shall be in the world, the ancient prophets were weary in them, and they could not find out the ends of them; yea, a man has no power to say what shall be after him; and the eye cannot see all that shall be in the world, and the ear cannot be filled with hearing all the words of all the inhabitants of the world.''
(g) "laboriosae", Pagninus, Vatablus, Mercerus, Gejerus, Schmidt.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
8. Maurer translates, "All words are wearied out," that is, are inadequate, as also, "man cannot express" all the things in the world which undergo this ceaseless, changeless cycle of vicissitudes: "The eye is not satisfied with seeing them," etc. But it is plainly a return to the idea (Ec 1:3) as to man's "labor," which is only wearisome and profitless; "no new" good can accrue from it (Ec 1:9); for as the sun, etc., so man's laborious works move in a changeless cycle. The eye and ear are two of the taskmasters for which man toils. But these are never "satisfied" (Ec 6:7; Pr 27:20). Nor can they be so hereafter, for there will be nothing "new." Not so the chief good, Jesus Christ (Joh 4:13, 14; Re 21:5).
Ecclesiastes 1:8 Additional Commentaries
Preceding Generations Forgotten
…7All the rivers flow into the sea, Yet the sea is not full. To the place where the rivers flow, There they flow again. 8All things are wearisome; Man is not able to tell it. The eye is not satisfied with seeing, Nor is the ear filled with hearing. 9That which has been is that which will be, And that which has been done is that which will be done. So there is nothing new under the sun.…
Death and Destruction are never satisfied, and neither are human eyes.
All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again.
There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. "For whom am I toiling," he asked, "and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?" This too is meaningless-- a miserable business!
Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless.
"You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?" declares the LORD Almighty. "Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house.
Treasury of Scripture
All things are full of labor; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.
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OT Poetry: Ecclesiastes 1:8 All things are full of weariness beyond (Ecclesiast. Ec Ecc Eccles.) Christian Bible Study Resources, Dictionary, Concordance and Search Tools