Ecclesiastes 4:14
Parallel Verses
New International Version
The youth may have come from prison to the kingship, or he may have been born in poverty within his kingdom.

New Living Translation
Such a youth could rise from poverty and succeed. He might even become king, though he has been in prison.

English Standard Version
For he went from prison to the throne, though in his own kingdom he had been born poor.

New American Standard Bible
For he has come out of prison to become king, even though he was born poor in his kingdom.

King James Bible
For out of prison he cometh to reign; whereas also he that is born in his kingdom becometh poor.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
For he came from prison to be king, even though he was born poor in his kingdom.

International Standard Version
The former can come out of prison to reign, while the latter, even if born to kingship, may become poor.

NET Bible
For he came out of prison to become king, even though he had been born poor in what would become his kingdom.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
A young man came out of prison to rule as king, even though he had been born in poverty in that same kingdom.

Jubilee Bible 2000
For he came out of prison to reign, even though he was born poor into his kingdom.

King James 2000 Bible
For out of prison he comes to reign; yet he that is born in his kingdom might become poor.

American King James Version
For out of prison he comes to reign; whereas also he that is born in his kingdom becomes poor.

American Standard Version
For out of prison he came forth to be king; yea, even in his kingdom he was born poor.

Douay-Rheims Bible
Because out of prison and chains sometimes a man cometh forth to a kingdom: and another born king is consumed with poverty.

Darby Bible Translation
For out of the prison-house he came forth to reign, although he was born poor in his kingdom.

English Revised Version
For out of prison he came forth to be king; yea, even in his kingdom he was born poor.

Webster's Bible Translation
For out of prison he cometh to reign; whereas also he that is born in his kingdom becometh poor.

World English Bible
For out of prison he came forth to be king; yes, even in his kingdom he was born poor.

Young's Literal Translation
For from a house of prisoners he hath come out to reign, for even in his own kingdom he hath been poor.
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

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.

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 14. - For out of prison he cometh to reign; whereas also he that is born in his kingdom becometh poor. The ambiguity of the pronouns has induced different interpretations of this verse. It is plain that the paragraph is intended to corroborate the statement of the previous verse, contrasting the fate of the poor, clever youth with that of the old, foolish king. The Authorized Version makes the pronoun in the first clause refer to the youth, and those in the second to the king, with the signification that rich and poor change places - one is abased as the other is exalted. Vulgate, Quod de carcere catenisque interdum quis egrediatnr ad regnum; et alius natus in regno inopia consummatur. The Septuagint is somewhat ambiguous, Ὅτι ἐξ οἴκου τῶν δεσμίων ελξελεύσεται τοῦ βασιλεῦσαι ὅτι καί γε ἐν βασιλείᾳ αὐτοῦ ἐγενήθη πένης, "For from the house of prisoners he shall come forth to reign, because in his kingdom he [who?] was born [or, 'became'] poor." It seems, however, most natural to make the leading pronouns in both clauses refer to the youth, and thus to render: "For out of the house of prisoners goeth he forth to reign, though even in his kingdom he was born poor." Beth hasurim is also rendered "house of fugitives," and Hitzig takes the expression as a description of Egypt, whither Jeroboam fled to escape the vengeance of Solomon. Others see here an allusion to Joseph, who was raised from prison, if not to be king, at least to an exalted position which might thus be designated. In this case the old and foolish king who could not look to the future is Pharaoh, who could not understand the dream which was sent for his admonition. Commentators have wearied themselves with endeavoring to find some other historical basis for the supposed allusion in the passage. But although many of these suggestions (e.g., Saul and David, Joash and Amaziah, Cyrus and Astyages, Herod and Alexander) meet a part of the case, none suit the whole passage (vers. 13-16). It is possible, indeed, that some particular allusion is intended to some circumstance or event with which we are not acquainted. At the same time, it seems to us that, without much straining of language, the reference to Joseph can be made good. If it is objected that it cannot be said that Joseph was born in the kingdom of Egypt, we may reply that the words may be taken to refer to his cruel position in his own country, when he was despoiled and sold, and may be said metaphorically to have "become poor;" or the word nolad may be considered as equivalent to "came," "appeared," and need not be restricted to the sense of "born."

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

For out of prison he cometh to reign,.... That is, this is sometimes the case of a poor and wise child; he rises out of a low, mean, abject, obscure state and condition, to the highest dignity; from a prison house, or a place where servants are, to sit among princes, and even to have the supreme authority: so Joseph, to whose case Solomon is thought to have respect, and which is mentioned in the Midrash; who was but a young man, and poor and friendless, but wise; and was even laid in prison, though innocent and guiltless, from whence he was fetched, and became the second man in the kingdom of Egypt; so David, the youngest of Jesse's sons, was taken from the sheepfold, and set upon the throne of Israel: though Gussetius (e) interprets this of the old and foolish king, who comes out of the house or family, of degenerate persons, as he translates the word, with a degenerate genius to rule; the allusion being to a degenerate vine; which sense agrees with Ecclesiastes 4:13, and with what follows;

whereas also he that is born in his kingdom becometh poor; who is born of royal parents, born to a kingdom; is by birth heir to one, has it by inheritance, and has long possessed it; and yet, by his own misconduct, or by the rebellion of his subjects, he is dethroned and banished; or by a foreign power is taken and carried captive, and reduced to the utmost poverty, as Zedekiah, Nebuchadnezzar, and others: or if born poor, so Gussetius; with a poor genius, not capable of ruling, and so loses his kingdom, and comes to poverty. Or it may be rendered, "although in his kingdom he is born poor" (f); that is, though the poor and wise child is born poor in the kingdom of the old and foolish king; yet, out of this low estate, in which he is by birth, he comes and enjoys the kingdom in his room to such a strange turn of affairs are the highest honours subject: or, "for in his kingdom he is born poor" (g); even the person that is born heir to a crown is born a poor man; he comes as naked out of his mother's womb as the poorest man does; the conditions of both are equal as to birth; and therefore it need not seem strange that one out of prison should come to a kingdom. But the first sense seems best.

(e) Ebr. Comment. p. 553. (f) "quamvis etiam", Gejerus. (g) "Nam etiam", Tigurine version, Cocceius; "quia etiam", Pagninus, Montanus, Schmidt, Rambachius, so Aben Ezra.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

14. out of prison—Solomon uses this phrase of a supposed case; for example, Joseph raised from a dungeon to be lord of Egypt. His words are at the same time so framed by the Holy Ghost that they answer virtually to Jeroboam, who fled to escape a "prison" and death from Solomon, to Shishak of Egypt (1Ki 11:40). This unconscious presaging of his own doom, and that of Rehoboam, constitutes the irony. David's elevation from poverty and exile, under Saul (which may have been before Solomon's mind), had so far their counterpart in that of Jeroboam.

whereas … becometh poor—rather, "though he (the youth) was born poor in his kingdom" (in the land where afterwards he was to reign).

Ecclesiastes 4:14 Additional Commentaries
Context
The Futility of Power
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. 15I have seen all the living under the sun throng to the side of the second lad who replaces him.…
Cross References
Genesis 41:14
So Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and he was quickly brought from the dungeon. When he had shaved and changed his clothes, he came before Pharaoh.

Genesis 41:41
So Pharaoh said to Joseph, "I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt."

Ecclesiastes 4:15
I saw that all who lived and walked under the sun followed the youth, the king's successor.
Treasury of Scripture

For out of prison he comes to reign; whereas also he that is born in his kingdom becomes poor.

for out

Genesis 41:14,33-44 Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him hastily …

Job 5:11 To set up on high those that be low; that those which mourn may be …

Psalm 113:7,8 He raises up the poor out of the dust, and lifts the needy out of …

also

1 Kings 14:26,27 And he took away the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the …

2 Kings 23:31-34 Jehoahaz was twenty and three years old when he began to reign; and …

2 Kings 24:1,2,6,12 In his days Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up, and Jehoiakim …

2 Kings 25:7,27-30 And they slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and put out the …

Lamentations 4:20 The breath of our nostrils, the anointed of the LORD, was taken in …

Daniel 4:31 While the word was in the king's mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, …

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