Ecclesiastes 4:13
Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
Better a poor but wise youth than an old but foolish king who no longer knows how to heed a warning.

New Living Translation
It is better to be a poor but wise youth than an old and foolish king who refuses all advice.

English Standard Version
Better was a poor and wise youth than an old and foolish king who no longer knew how to take advice.

New American Standard Bible
A poor yet wise lad is better than an old and foolish king who no longer knows how to receive instruction.

King James Bible
Better is a poor and a wise child than an old and foolish king, who will no more be admonished.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
Better is a poor but wise youth than an old but foolish king who no longer pays attention to warnings.

International Standard Version
A poor but wise youth is better than an old but foolish king who will no longer accept correction.

NET Bible
A poor but wise youth is better than an old and foolish king who no longer knows how to receive advice.

New Heart English Bible
Better is a poor and wise youth than an old and foolish king who doesn't know how to receive admonition any more.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
A young man who is poor and wise is better than an old, foolish king who won't take advice any longer.

JPS Tanakh 1917
Better is a poor and wise child than an old and foolish king, who knoweth not how to receive admonition any more.

New American Standard 1977
A poor, yet wise lad is better than an old and foolish king who no longer knows how to receive instruction.

Jubilee Bible 2000
Better is a poor and a wise child than an old and foolish king who will no longer be admonished.

King James 2000 Bible
Better is a poor and wise child than an old and foolish king, who will no longer be admonished.

American King James Version
Better is a poor and a wise child than an old and foolish king, who will no more be admonished.

American Standard Version
Better is a poor and wise youth than an old and foolish king, who knoweth not how to receive admonition any more.

Douay-Rheims Bible
Better is a child that is poor and wise, than a king that is old and foolish, who knoweth not to foresee for hereafter.

Darby Bible Translation
Better is a poor but wise youth than an old and foolish king, who knoweth no more how to be admonished.

English Revised Version
Better is a poor and wise youth than an old and foolish king, who knoweth not how to receive admonition any more.

Webster's Bible Translation
Better is a poor and a wise child, than an old and foolish king, who will no more be admonished.

World English Bible
Better is a poor and wise youth than an old and foolish king who doesn't know how to receive admonition any more.

Young's Literal Translation
Better is a poor and wise youth than an old and foolish king, who hath not known to be warned any more.
Study Bible
The Futility of Power
12And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart. 13A poor yet wise lad is better than an old and foolish king who no longer knows how to receive instruction. 14For he has come out of prison to become king, even though he was born poor in his kingdom.…
Cross References
Ecclesiastes 4:12
And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.

Ecclesiastes 7:19
Wisdom strengthens a wise man more than ten rulers who are in a city.

Ecclesiastes 9:15
But there was found in it a poor wise man and he delivered the city by his wisdom. Yet no one remembered that poor man.
Treasury of Scripture

Better is a poor and a wise child than an old and foolish king, who will no more be admonished.

is a poor

Ecclesiastes 9:15,16 Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered …

Genesis 37:2 These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years …

Proverbs 19:1 Better is the poor that walks in his integrity, than he that is perverse …

Proverbs 28:6,15,16 Better is the poor that walks in his uprightness, than he that is …

will no more be

1 Kings 22:8 And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, There is yet one man, …

2 Chronicles 16:9,10 For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth…

2 Chronicles 24:20-22 And the Spirit of God came on Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, …

2 Chronicles 25:16 And it came to pass, as he talked with him, that the king said to …

(13) The section commencing here presents great difficulties of interpretation, in overcoming which we have little help from the context, on account of the abruptness with which, in this verse, a new subject is introduced.

Poor.--The word occurs again in this book (Ecclesiastes 9:15-16), but not elsewhere in the Old Testament: kindred words occur in Deuteronomy 8:9; Isaiah 40:20. No confidence can be placed in the attempts made to find a definite historical reference in this verse and the next.

Verses 13-16. - High place offers no assurance of security. A king's popularity is never permanent; he is supplanted by some clever young aspirant for a time, whose influence in turn soon evaporates, and the subject-people reap no benefit from the change. Verse 13. - Better is a poor and wise child than an old and foolish king. The word translated "child" (yeled), is used sometimes of one beyond childhood (see Genesis 30:26; Genesis 37:30; 1 Kings 12:8), so here it may be rendered "youth." Misken, πενὴς (Septuagint), pauper (Vulgate), "poor," is found also at Ecclesiastes 9:15, 16, and nowhere else; but the root, with an analogous signification, occurs at Deuteronomy 8:9 and Isaiah 40:20. The clause says that a youth who is clever and adroit, though sprung from a sordid origin, is better off than a king who has not learned wisdom with his years, and who, it is afterwards implied, is dethroned by this young man. Who will no more be admonished; better, as in the Revised Version, who knoweth not how to receive admonition any more. Age has only fossilized his self-will and obstinacy; and though he was once open to advice and hearkened to reproof, he now bears no contradiction and takes no counsel. Septuagint, Ὅς οὐκ ἔγνω τοῦ προέχειν ἔτι, "Who knows not how to take heed any longer;" which is perhaps similar to the Vulgate, Qui nescit praevidere in posterum, "Who knows not how to look forward to the future." The words will bear this translation, and it accords with one view of the author's meaning (see below); but that given above is more suitable to the interpretation of the paragraph which approves itself to us. The sentence is of general import, and may be illustrated by a passage from the Book of Wisdom (4. 8, 9), "Honorable age is not that which standeth in length of time, nor that is measured by length of years. But wisdom is the grey hair unto men, and an unspotted life is old age." So Cicero, 'De Senect.,' 18:62, "Non cant nee rugae repente auctoritatem arripere possunt, sod honeste acta superior aetas fructus capit aactoritatis extremes." Some have thought that Solomon is here speaking of himself, avowing his folly and expressing his contrition, in view of his knowledge of Jeroboam's delegation to the kingdom - the crafty youth of poor estate (1 Kings 11:26, etc.), whom the Prophet Ahijah had warned of approaching greatness. But there is nothing in the recorded history of Solomon to make probable such expression of self-abasement, and our author could never have so completely misrepresented him. Here, too, is another proof that Ecclesiastes is not written by Solomon himself. Better is a poor and a wise child than an old and foolish king,.... The wise man proceeds to show the vanity of worldly power and dignity, in the highest instance of it, which is kingly; and, in order to illustrate and exemplify this, he supposes, on the one hand, a person possessed of royal honour; who has long enjoyed it, is settled in his kingdom, and advanced in years; and who otherwise, for his gravity and dignity, would be venerable; but that he is foolish, a person of a mean genius and small capacity; has but little knowledge of government, or but little versed in the arts of it, though he has held the reins of it long in his hand; and, which is worst of all, is vicious and wicked: on the other hand, he supposes one that is in his tender years, not yet arrived to manhood; and so may be thought to be giddy and inexperienced, and therefore taken but little notice of; and especially being poor, becomes contemptible, as well as labours under the disadvantage of a poor education; his parents poor, and he not able to get books and masters to teach him knowledge; nor to travel abroad to see the world, and make his observations on men and things; and yet being wise, having a good genius, which he improves in the best manner he can, to his own profit, and to make himself useful in the world; and especially if he is wise and knowing in the best things, and fears God, and serves him; he is more happy, in his present state and circumstances, than the king before described is in his, and is fitter to take his place, and be a king, than he is; for though he is young, yet wise, and improving in knowledge, and willing to be advised and counselled by others, older and wiser than himself; he is much to be preferred to one that is old and foolish;

who will no more be admonished; or, "knows not to be admonished any more" (d): he neither knows how to give nor take advice; he is impatient of all counsel; cannot bear any admonition; is stubborn and self-willed, and resolved to take his own way. The Jews, in their Midrash, Jarchi, and others, interpret it, allegorically, of the good and evil imagination in men, the principle of grace, and the corruption of nature; the one is the new man, the other the old man; the new man is better than old Adam: the Targum applies it to Abraham and Nimrod; the former is the poor and wise child, that feared God, and worshipped him early; the latter, the old and foolish king, who was an idolater, and refused to be admonished of his idolatry; and so the Midrash.

(d) "non novit moneri adhuc", Montanus; "nescit admoneri amplius", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Drusius, Rambachius. 13. The "threefold cord" [Ec 4:12] of social ties suggests the subject of civil government. In this case too, he concludes that kingly power confers no lasting happiness. The "wise" child, though a supposed case of Solomon, answers, in the event foreseen by the Holy Ghost, to Jeroboam, then a poor but valiant youth, once a "servant" of Solomon, and (1Ki 11:26-40) appointed by God through the prophet Ahijah to be heir of the kingdom of the ten tribes about to be rent from Rehoboam. The "old and foolish king" answers to Solomon himself, who had lost his wisdom, when, in defiance of two warnings of God (1Ki 3:14; 9:2-9), he forsook God.

will no more be admonished—knows not yet how to take warning (see Margin) God had by Ahijah already intimated the judgment coming on Solomon (1Ki 11:11-13).4:13-16 People are never long easy and satisfied; they are fond of changes. This is no new thing. Princes see themselves slighted by those they have studied to oblige; this is vanity and vexation of spirit. But the willing servants of the Lord Jesus, our King, rejoice in him alone, and they will love Him more and more to all eternity.
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