Ecclesiastes 12:5
Parallel Verses
New International Version
when people are afraid of heights and of dangers in the streets; when the almond tree blossoms and the grasshopper drags itself along and desire no longer is stirred. Then people go to their eternal home and mourners go about the streets.

New Living Translation
Remember him before you become fearful of falling and worry about danger in the streets; before your hair turns white like an almond tree in bloom, and you drag along without energy like a dying grasshopper, and the caperberry no longer inspires sexual desire. Remember him before you near the grave, your everlasting home, when the mourners will weep at your funeral.

English Standard Version
they are afraid also of what is high, and terrors are in the way; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along, and desire fails, because man is going to his eternal home, and the mourners go about the streets—

New American Standard Bible
Furthermore, men are afraid of a high place and of terrors on the road; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags himself along, and the caperberry is ineffective. For man goes to his eternal home while mourners go about in the street.

King James Bible
Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets:

Holman Christian Standard Bible
Also, they are afraid of heights and dangers on the road; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper loses its spring, and the caper berry has no effect; for man is headed to his eternal home, and mourners will walk around in the street;

International Standard Version
At that time they will fear climbing heights and dangers along the road while the almond tree will blossom, and the grasshopper is weighed down. Desire will cease, because the person goes to his eternal home, and mourners will gather in the marketplace.

NET Bible
and they are afraid of heights and the dangers in the street; the almond blossoms grow white, and the grasshopper drags itself along, and the caper berry shrivels up--because man goes to his eternal home, and the mourners go about in the streets--

GOD'S WORD® Translation
Remember your Creator when someone is afraid of heights and of dangers along the road, the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along, [and] the caper bush has [no] fruit. Mortals go to their eternal rest, and mourners go out in the streets.

Jubilee Bible 2000
when they shall also be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and appetite shall fail: because man goes to the home of his age, and the mourners shall go about the streets;

King James 2000 Bible
Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and terrors are in the way, and the almond tree shall blossom, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goes to his eternal home, and the mourners go about the streets:

American King James Version
Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goes to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets:

American Standard Version
yea, they shall be afraid of that which is high, and terrors'shall be in the way; and the almond-tree shall blossom, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail; because man goeth to his everlasting home, and the mourners go about the streets:

Douay-Rheims Bible
And they shall fear high things, and they shall be afraid in the way, the almond tree shall flourish, the locust shall be made fat, and the caper tree shall be destroyed: because man shall go into the house of his eternity, and the mourners shall go round about in the street.

Darby Bible Translation
they are also afraid of what is high, and terrors are in the way, and the almond is despised, and the grasshopper is a burden, and the caper-berry is without effect; (for man goeth to his age-long home, and the mourners go about the streets;)

English Revised Version
yea, they shall be afraid of that which is high, and terrors shall be in the way; and the almond tree shall blossom, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and the caper-berry shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets:

Webster's Bible Translation
Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets:

World English Bible
yes, they shall be afraid of heights, and terrors will be in the way; and the almond tree shall blossom, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail; because man goes to his everlasting home, and the mourners go about the streets:

Young's Literal Translation
Also of that which is high they are afraid, And of the low places in the way, And the almond-tree is despised, And the grasshopper is become a burden, And want is increased, For man is going unto his home age-during, And the mourners have gone round through the street.
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

12:1-7 We should remember our sins against our Creator, repent, and seek forgiveness. We should remember our duties, and set about them, looking to him for grace and strength. This should be done early, while the body is strong, and the spirits active. When a man has the pain of reviewing a misspent life, his not having given up sin and worldly vanities till he is forced to say, I have no pleasure in them, renders his sincerity very questionable. Then follows a figurative description of old age and its infirmities, which has some difficulties; but the meaning is plain, to show how uncomfortable, generally, the days of old age are. As the four verses, 2-5, are a figurative description of the infirmities that usually accompany old age, ver. 6 notices the circumstances which take place in the hour of death. If sin had not entered into the world, these infirmities would not have been known. Surely then the aged should reflect on the evil of sin.

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 5. - Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high. There is no "when" in the original, which runs, "Also, or yea, they fear on high." "They" are old men, or, like the French on, "people" indefinitely; and the clause says that they find difficulty in mounting an ascent, as the Vulgate renders, Excelsa quoque timebant. Shortness of breath, asthmatic tendencies, failure of muscular power, make such an exertion arduous and burdensome, just as in the previous verse a similar cause rendered singing impossible. The description is now arriving at the last stage, and allegorizing the closing scene. The steep ascent is the via dolorosa, the painful process of dying, from which the natural man shrinks; for as the gnome says -

Τοῦ ζῇν γὰρ οὐδεὶς ὡς ὁ γηράσκων ἐρᾷ
"None dotes on life more than the aged man." The old man is going on the appointed road, and fears shall be in the way; or, all sorts of fears (plural of intensity) are in the path; as in his infirm condition he can walk nowhere without danger of meeting with some accident, so analogously, as he contemplates his end and the road he has to travel, "fearfulness and trembling come upon him, and horror overwhelms him" (Psalm 55:5). Plumptre sees in these clauses a further adumbration of the inconveniences of old age, how that the decrepit man makes mountains of mole-hills, is full of imaginary terrors, always forecasting sad events, and so on; but this does not carry on the picture to the end which the poet has now in view, and seems tame and commonplace. The supporters of the storm-theory explain the passage as denoting the fears of the people at what is coming from on high - the gathering tempest, these fears extending to those on the highway, - which is feeble. And the almond tree shall flourish; or, is in blossom. The old man is thus figured from the observed aspect of this tree. It blossoms in winter upon a leafless stem, and its flowers, at first of a pale pink color, turn to a snowy whiteness as they fall from the branches. The tree thus becomes a fit type of the arid, torpid-looking old man with his white hair. So Wright quotes Virgil, 'AEneid,' 5:416 -

"Temporibus geminis canebat sparsa senectus;ETT*>

though there the idea is rather of mingled black and grey hair than of ahead of snowy whiteness. Canon Tristram ('Nat. Hist. of the Bible,' p. 332), referring to the usual version of this clause, adds, "But the better interpretation seems to be, that as the almond blossom ushers in the spring, so do the signs referred to in the context indicate the hastening (shaked, 'almond,' meaning also 'hasten') of old age and death." Plumptre adopts the notion that the name of the tree is derived from a stem meaning "to watch," and that thus it may be called the early-waking tree (see Jeremiah 1:11), the enigmatic phrase describing the wakefulness that often attends old age. But this seems a refinement by no means justified by the use of the word. Others find in the verb the signification "to disdain, loathe," and explain that the old man has lost his taste for almond nuts, which seems to be an unnecessary observation after the previous allusions to his toothless condition, the cracking and eating of such things requiring the grinders to be in perfect order. The versions are unanimous in translating the clause as the Authorized Version. Thus the Septuagint, ἀνθήσῃ τὸ ἀμύγδαλον: Vulgate, fiorebit amygdalus. (So Verier. and the Syriac.) Wright takes this clause and the next to indicate the opening of spring, when nature reawakens from its winter sleep, and the dying man can no longer respond to the call or enjoy the happy season. The expositors who adhere to the notion of the storm would translate, "the almond shall be rejected," alluding to fear taking away appetite; but the rendering is faulty. And the grasshopper shall he a burden. Chagab, rendered "grasshopper" here and Leviticus 11:22; Numbers 13:33, etc., is rightly translated "locust" in 2 Chronicles 7:15. It is one of the smaller species of the insect, as is implied by its use in Isaiah 40:22, where from the height of heaven the inhabitants of earth are regarded as chagabim. The clause is usually explained to mean that the very lightest burden is troublesome to old age, or that the hopping and chirping of these insects annoy the querulous senior. But who does not see the incongruity of expressing the disinclination for labor and exertion by the figure of finding a grasshopper too heavy to carry? Who would think of carrying a grasshopper? Plumptre, who discovers Greek allusions in the most unlikely places, sees here an intimation of the writer's acquaintance with the Athenians' custom of wearing a golden grasshopper on their heads as a token that they were autochthones, "sprung from the soil." Few will be disposed to concur with this opinion. Ginsburg and others consider that Koheleth is regarding the locust as an article of food, which it was and still is in the East (Leviticus 11:21, 22; Matthew 3:4). In some places it is esteemed a great delicacy, and is cooked and prepared in a variety of ways. So here the writer is supposed to mean that dainties shall tempt in vain; even the much-esteemed locust shall be loathed. But we cannot imagine this article of food, which indeed was neither general nor at all seasons procurable, being singled out as an appetizing esculent. The solution of the enigma must be sought elsewhere. The Septuagint gives, καὶ παχυνθῇ ἡ ἀκρίς: the Vulgate, imping, uabitur locusts, "the locust grows fat. Founded on this rendering is the opinion which considers that under this figure is depicted the corpulence or dropsical swelling that sometimes accompanies advanced life. But this morbid and abnormal condition could not be introduced into a typical description of the usual accompaniments of age, even if the verb could be rightly translated as the Greek and Latin versions give it, which is more than doubtful. Delitzsch, after some Jewish interpreters, considers that under the term "locust" is meant the loins or hips, or caput femoris, which is thus named" because it includes in itself the mechanism which the two-membered foot for springing, placed at an acute angle, presents in the locust." The poet is thought to allude to the loss of elasticity in the hips and the inability to bear any weight. We cannot agree to the propriety of this artificial explanation, which seems to have been invented to account for the expressions in the text, rather than to be founded on fact. But though we reject this elucidation of the figure, we think Delitzsch and some others are right in taking the verb in the sense of "to move heavily, to crawl along." "The locust crawls," i.e. the old man drags his limbs heavily and painfully along, like the locust just hatched in early spring, and as yet not furnished with wings, which makes it8 way clumsily and slowly. The analogy derives another feature from the fact, well attested, that the appearance of the locust was synchronous with the days considered most fatal to old people, namely, the seven at the end of January and the beginning of February. So we now have the figure of the old man with his snow-white hair, panting and gasping, creeping painfully to his grave. One more trait is added. And desire shall fail. The word rendered "desire" (אֲבִיּונָה) is found nowhere else in the Old Testament, and its meaning is disputed. The Authorized Version has adopted the rendering of some of the Jewish commentators (and that of Venet., ἡ ὔρεξις), but, according to Delitzsch, the feminine form of the noun precludes the notion of an abstract quality, and the etymology on which it rests is doubtful. Nor would it be likely that, having employed symbolism hitherto throughout his description, the writer would suddenly drop metaphor and speak in unfigurative language. We are, therefore, driven to rely for its meaning on the old versions, which would convey the traditionary idea. The Septuagint gives, ἡ κάππαρις, and so the Vulgate, capparis, by which is designated the caper tree or berry, probably the same as the hyssop, which is found throughout the East, and was extensively used as a provocative of appetite, a stimulant and restorative. Accordingly, the writer is thought here to be intimating that even stimulants, such as the caper, affect the old man no longer, cannot give zest to or make him enjoy his food. Here, again, the figurative is dropped, and a literal, unvarnished fact is stated, which mars the perfection of the picture. But the verb here used (parar) is capable of another signification, and is often found in the unmetaphorical sense of "breaking" or "bursting;" so the clause will run, "and the caper berry bursts." Septuagint, καὶ διασκεδασθῇ ἡ κάππαρις: Vulgate, dissipabitur capparis. The fruit of this plant, when overripe, bursts open and falls off - a fit image of the dissolution of the aged frame, now ripe for the tomb, and showing evident tokens of decay. By this interpretation the symbolism is maintained, which perhaps is further illustrated by the fact that the fruit hangs down and droops from the end of long stalks, as the man bows his head and stoops his back to meet the coming death. Because (ki) man goeth to his long home. This and the following clause are parenthetical, ver. 6 resuming the allegory. It is as though Koheleth said - Such is the way, such are the symptoms, when decay and death are approaching; all these things happen, all these signs meet the eye, at such & period. "His long home;" εἰς οϊκον αἰῶνος αὐτοῦ (Septuagint), "to the house of his eternity," "his everlasting habitation," i.e. the grave, or Hades. There is a similar expression in Tobit 3:6, εἰς τὸν αἰώνιον τόπον, which in the Hebrew editions of that book is given as, "Gather me to my father, to the house appointed for all living," with which Canon Churton (in lot.) compares Job 10:21; Job 30:23. So Psalm 49:11 (according to many versions), "Their graves are their houses for ever." The σκηναὶ αἰώνιοι of Luke 16:9 are a periphrasis for life in heaven. Diodorus Siculus notes that the Egyptians used the terms ἀίδιοι οϊκοι, and ἡ αἰώνιος οἴκσις of Hades (2. 51; 1. 93). The expression, "domus eterna," appears at Rome on tombs, as Plumptre observes, both in Christian and non-Christian inscriptions; and the Assyrians name the world or state beyond the grave "the house of eternity" ('Records of the Past,' 1:143). From the expression in the text nothing can be deduced concerning Koheleth's eschatological views. He is speaking here merely phenomenally. Men live their little span upon the earth, and then go to what in comparison of this is an eternity. Much of the difficulty about αἰώνιος, etc., would be obviated if critics would remember that the meaning of such words is conditioned by the context, that e.g. "everlasting" applied to a mountain and to God cannot be understood in the same, sense. And the mourners go about the streets. This can hardly mean that the usual funeral rites have begun; for the death is not conceived as having already taken place; this is reserved for ver. 7. Nor can it, therefore, refer to the relations and friends who are sorrowing for the departed. The persons spoken of must be the mourners who are hired to play and sing at funerals (see 2 Samuel 3:31; Jeremiah 9:17; Jeremiah 34:5; Matthew 9:23). These were getting ready to ply their trade, expecting hourly the old man's death. So the Romans had their praeficae, and persons "qui conducti plorant in funere" (Horace, 'Ars Poet.,' 431).

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high,.... Not of the most high God, before whose tribunal they must shortly appear, as some; but rather of high places, as high hills, mountains, towers, &c. which aged persons are afraid to go up, because of the feebleness and weakness of their limbs, their difficulty of breathing, and the dizziness of their heads;

and fears shall be in the way; they do not care: to go abroad, being afraid of every little stone that lies in the way, lest they should stumble at it, and fall: some understand this of their fears of spirits, good or bad; but the former sense is best;

and the almond tree shall flourish; which most interpret of the hoary head, which looks like an almond tree in blossom; and which, as it comes soon in the spring, whence it has its name of haste in the Hebrew language; see Jeremiah 1:11; and is a sure sign of its near approach; so gray hairs, or the hoary head, sometimes appear very soon and unexpected, and are a sure indication of the approach of old age; which Cicero (h) calls "aetas praecipitata",

"age that comes hastily on;''

though the hoary head, like the almond tree, looks very beautiful, and is venerable, especially if found in the way of righteousness, Leviticus 19:32;

and the grasshopper shall be a burden; meaning either, should a grasshopper, which is very light, leap upon an aged person, it would give him pain, the least burden being uneasy to him; or, should he eat one of these creatures, the locusts being a sort of food in Judea, it would not sit well, on his stomach: or the grasshopper, being a crumpled and lean creature, may describe an old man; his legs and arms emaciated, and his shoulders, back, and lips, crumpled up and bunching out; and the locust of this name has a bunch on its backbone, like a camel (i): Bochart (k) says, that the head of the thigh, or the hip bone, by the Arabians, is called "chagaba", the word here used for a locust or grasshopper; which part of the body is of principal use in walking, and found very troublesome and difficult to move in old men; and Aben Ezra interprets it of the thigh: the almond tree, by the Rabbins, as Jarchi says, is interpreted of the hip bone, which stands out in old age: and the Targum, of this and the preceding clause, is,

"and the top of thy backbone shall bunch out, through leanness, like the almond; and the ankles of thy feet shall be swelled.''

Some, as Ben Melech observes, understand it of the genital member, and of coitus, slighted and rejected, because of the weakness of the body; all desires of that kind being gone, as follows;

and desire shall fail; the appetite, for food, for bodily pleasures, and carnal delights; and particularly for venery, all the parts of the body for such uses being weakened, The Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Arabic versions, render it, "the caper tree shall be dissipated", or "vanish", or "its fruit shall shrink"; so Dr. Smith, who understands it of the decrease of the fluids, as he does the former clause of the solid parts of the body; and the berries of this tree are said to excite both appetite and lust (l): and so Munster (m) interprets the word of the berries of the caper tree;

because man goeth to his long home; the grave, as the Targum, the house appointed for living, where he must lie till the resurrection morn; his eternal house, as Cicero calls it (n); and so it may be rendered here, "the house of the world", common to all the world, where all mankind go: or, "to the house of his world" (o); whether of bliss or woe, according as his state and character be, good or bad: Theognis (p) calls it the dark house of "hades", or the invisible state; and then this must be understood with respect to his separate soul, and the mansion of it; and Alshech says, every righteous man has a mansion to himself; see John 14:2;

and the mourners go about the streets; the relations of the deceased; or those that go to their houses to comfort them; or the mourning men and women, hired for that purpose.

(h) Fam. Epist. l. 11. Ephesians 58. (i) R. Sol. Urbin. Ohel Moed, fol. 83. 1.((k) Hierozoic. par. 2. l. 4. c. 8. col. 494. (l) Avicenna spud Schindler. Lexic. Colossians 10. (m) Dictionar. Chaldaic. p. 13. (n) Tusculan. Quaest. l. 2. prope finem. (o) "ad domum seculi sui", Pagninus. Montanus, Vatablus, Mercerus. (p) v. 1008. vid. v. 244.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

5. that which is high—The old are afraid of ascending a hill.

fears … in the way—Even on the level highway they are full of fears of falling, &c.

almond … flourish—In the East the hair is mostly dark. The white head of the old among the dark-haired is like an almond tree, with its white blossoms, among the dark trees around [Holden]. The almond tree flowers on a leafless stock in winter (answering to old age, in which all the powers are dormant), while the other trees are flowerless. Gesenius takes the Hebrew for flourishes from a different root, casts off; when the old man loses his gray hairs, as the almond tree casts its white flowers.

grasshoppers—the dry, shrivelled, old man, his backbone sticking out, his knees projecting forwards, his arms backwards, his head down, and the apophyses enlarged, is like that insect. Hence arose the fable, that Tithonus in very old age was changed into a grasshopper [Parkhurst]. "The locust raises itself to fly"; the old man about to leave the body is like a locust when it is assuming its winged form, and is about to fly [Maurer].

a burden—namely, to himself.

desire shall fail—satisfaction shall be abolished. For "desire," Vulgate has "the caper tree," provocative of lust; not so well.

long home—(Job 16:22; 17:13).

mourners—(Jer 9:17-20), hired for the occasion (Mt 9:23).

Ecclesiastes 12:5 Additional Commentaries
Context
Remember Your Creator in Your Youth
4and the doors on the street are shut as the sound of the grinding mill is low, and one will arise at the sound of the bird, and all the daughters of song will sing softly. 5Furthermore, men are afraid of a high place and of terrors on the road; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags himself along, and the caperberry is ineffective. For man goes to his eternal home while mourners go about in the street. 6Remember Him before the silver cord is broken and the golden bowl is crushed, the pitcher by the well is shattered and the wheel at the cistern is crushed;…
Cross References
Genesis 50:10
When they reached the threshing floor of Atad, near the Jordan, they lamented loudly and bitterly; and there Joseph observed a seven-day period of mourning for his father.

Job 17:13
If the only home I hope for is the grave, if I spread out my bed in the realm of darkness,

Job 30:23
I know you will bring me down to death, to the place appointed for all the living.

Jeremiah 9:17
This is what the LORD Almighty says: "Consider now! Call for the wailing women to come; send for the most skillful of them.
Treasury of Scripture

Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goes to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets:

the almond

Genesis 42:38 And he said, My son shall not go down with you; for his brother is …

Genesis 44:29,31 And if you take this also from me, and mischief befall him, you shall …

Leviticus 19:32 You shall rise up before the hoary head, and honor the face of the …

Job 15:10 With us are both the gray headed and very aged men, much elder than your father.

Psalm 71:18 Now also when I am old and gray headed, O God, forsake me not; until …

Proverbs 16:31 The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness.

Proverbs 20:29 The glory of young men is their strength: and the beauty of old men …

Isaiah 46:4 And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry …

Jeremiah 1:11 Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying, Jeremiah, what …

because

Ecclesiastes 9:10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there …

Job 17:13 If I wait, the grave is my house: I have made my bed in the darkness.

Job 30:23 For I know that you will bring me to death, and to the house appointed …

Psalm 49:10-14 For he sees that wise men die, likewise the fool and the brutish …

Hebrews 9:27 And as it is appointed to men once to die, but after this the judgment:

the mourners

Genesis 50:3-10 And forty days were fulfilled for him; for so are fulfilled the days …

Jeremiah 9:17-20 Thus said the LORD of hosts, Consider you, and call for the mourning …

Mark 5:38,39 And he comes to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and sees …

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Alphabetical: a about afraid almond along and are blossoms caperberry dangers desire drags eternal For Furthermore go goes grasshopper heights high himself his home in ineffective is longer man men mourners no of on place road stirred street streets terrors the Then to tree when while

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