Ecclesiastes 5:6
Parallel Verses
New International Version
Do not let your mouth lead you into sin. And do not protest to the temple messenger, "My vow was a mistake." Why should God be angry at what you say and destroy the work of your hands?

New Living Translation
Don't let your mouth make you sin. And don't defend yourself by telling the Temple messenger that the promise you made was a mistake. That would make God angry, and he might wipe out everything you have achieved.

English Standard Version
Let not your mouth lead you into sin, and do not say before the messenger that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry at your voice and destroy the work of your hands?

New American Standard Bible
Do not let your speech cause you to sin and do not say in the presence of the messenger of God that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry on account of your voice and destroy the work of your hands?

King James Bible
Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel, that it was an error: wherefore should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of thine hands?

Holman Christian Standard Bible
Do not let your mouth bring guilt on you, and do not say in the presence of the messenger that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry with your words and destroy the work of your hands?

International Standard Version
Never let your mouth cause you to sin and don't proclaim in the presence of the angel, "My promise was a mistake," for why should God be angry at your excuse and destroy what you've undertaken?

NET Bible
Do not let your mouth cause you to sin, and do not tell the priest, "It was a mistake!" Why make God angry at you so that he would destroy the work of your hands?"

GOD'S WORD® Translation
Don't let your mouth talk you into committing a sin. Don't say in the presence of a [temple] messenger, "My promise was a mistake!" Why should God become angry at your excuse and destroy what you've accomplished?

Jubilee Bible 2000
Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel, that it was ignorance. Why should thou cause God to be angry because of thy voice and destroy the work of thine hands?

King James 2000 Bible
Permit not your mouth to cause your flesh to sin; neither say before the angel, that it was an error: why should God be angry at your voice, and destroy the work of your hands?

American King James Version
Suffer not your mouth to cause your flesh to sin; neither say you before the angel, that it was an error: why should God be angry at your voice, and destroy the work of your hands?

American Standard Version
Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel, that is was an error: wherefore should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of thy hands?

Douay-Rheims Bible
Give not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin: and say not before the angel: There is no providence: lest God be angry at thy words, and destroy all the works of thy hands.

Darby Bible Translation
Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel, that it was an inadvertence. Wherefore should God be wroth at thy voice, and destroy the work of thy hands?

English Revised Version
Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel, that it was an error: wherefore should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of thine hands?

Webster's Bible Translation
Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel, that it was an error: why should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of thy hands?

World English Bible
Don't allow your mouth to lead you into sin. Don't protest before the messenger that this was a mistake. Why should God be angry at your voice, and destroy the work of your hands?

Young's Literal Translation
Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin, nor say before the messenger, that 'it is an error,' why is God wroth because of thy voice, and hath destroyed the work of thy hands?
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

5:4-8 When a person made engagements rashly, he suffered his mouth to cause his flesh to sin. The case supposes a man coming to the priest, and pretending that his vow was made rashly, and that it would be wrong to fulfil it. Such mockery of God would bring the Divine displeasure, which might blast what was thus unduly kept. We are to keep down the fear of man. Set God before thee; then, if thou seest the oppression of the poor, thou wilt not find fault with Divine Providence; nor think the worse of the institution of magistracy, when thou seest the ends of it thus perverted; nor of religion, when thou seest it will not secure men from suffering wrong. But though oppressors may be secure, God will reckon for all.

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 6. - Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin. "Thy flesh" is equivalent to "thyself," the whole personality, the idea of the flesh, as a distinct part of the man, sinning, being alien from Old Testament ontology. The injunction means - Do not, by uttering rash or inconsiderate vows, which you afterwards evade or cannot fulfill, bring sin upon yourself, or, as others render, bring punishment upon yourself. Septuagint, "Suffer not thy mouth to Cause thy flesh to sin(τοῦ ὠξαμαρτῆσαι τὴν σάρκα σου);" Vulgate, Ut peccare facias carnem tuam. Another interpretation, but not so suitable, is this - Do not let thy mouth (i.e. thy appetite) lead thee to break the vow of abstinence, and indulge in meat or drink from which (as, e.g., a Nazarite) thou wast bound to abstain. Neither say thou before the angel, that it was an error. If we take "angel" (malak) in the usual sense (and there seems no very forcible reason why we should not), it must mean the angel of God in whose special charge you are placed, or the angel who was supposed to preside over the altar of worship, or that messenger of God whose duty it is to watch man's doings and to act as the minister of punishment (2 Samuel 24:16). The workings of God's providence are often attributed to angels; and sometimes the names of God and angel are interchanged (see Genesis 16:9, 13; Genesis 18:2, 3, etc.; Exodus 3:2, 4; Exodus 23:20, etc.). Thus the Septuagint here renders, "Say not before the face of God (πρὸ = προσώπου τοῦ Θεοῦ)." If this interpretation be allowed, we have an argument for the literal explanation of the much-disputed passage in 1 Corinthians 11:10, διὰ τοὺς ἀγγέλους. Thus, too, in 'The Testaments of the XII. Patriarchs,' we have, "The Lord is witness, and his angels are witnesses, concerning the word of your mouth" ('Levi,' 19). But most commentators consider that the word here means "messenger" of Jehovah, in the sense of priest, the announcer of the Divine Law, as in the unique passage Malachi 2:7. Traces of a similar use of ἄγγελος may be found in the New Testament (Revelation 1:20; Revelation 2:1, etc.). According to the first interpretation, the man comes before God with his excuse; according to the second, he comes to the priest, and confesses that he was thoughtless and overhasty in making his vow, and desires to be released from it, or, at any rate, by some means to evade its fulfillment. His excuse may possibly look to the cases mentioned in Numbers 15:22, etc., and he may wish to urge that the vow was made in ignorance (Septuagint, Ὅτι ἄγνοιά ἐστι, "It is an ignorance"), and that therefore he was not responsible for its incomplete execution. We do not know that a priest or any officer of the temple had authority to release from the obligation of a Tow, so that the excuse made "before" him would seem to be objectless, while the evasion of a solemn promise made in the Name of God might well be said to be done in the presence of the observing and recording angel. The Vulgate rendering, Non eat providentia, makes the man account for his neglect by assuming that God takes no heed of such things; he deems the long-suffering of God to be indifference and disregard (comp. Ecclesiastes 8:11; Ecclesiastes 9:3). The original does not bear this interpretation. Wherefore should God be angry at thy voice - the words in which thy evasion and dishonesty are expressed - and destroy the work of thine hands? i.e. punish thee by calamity, want of success, sickness, etc., God's moral government being vindicated by earthly visitations.

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin,.... That is, himself, who is corrupt and depraved; either by making a rash vow, which it is not in his power to keep; or such is the corruption of his nature, and the weakness of the flesh, that he cannot keep it; or by making sinful excuses after he has made the vow, and so is guilty of lying, or false swearing, or other sins of the flesh. Jarchi by "flesh" understands his children, on whom his iniquity may be visited and punished; and the Targum interprets this punishment of the judgment or condemnation of hell; see Proverbs 20:25;

neither say thou before the angel that it was an error; that it was done ignorantly and through mistake: that it was not intended, and that this was not the meaning of the vow; and therefore desires to be excused performing it, or to offer a sacrifice in lieu of it. Interpreters are divided about the angel before whom such an excuse should not be made. Some think angel is put for angels in general, in whose presence, and before whom, as witnesses, vows are made; and who were signified by the cherubim in the sanctuary, where they were to be performed, and who are present in the worshipping assemblies of saints, where these things are done, 1 Timothy 5:21; others think the guardian angel is meant, which they suppose every man has; and others that Christ, the Angel of the covenant, is designed, who is in the midst of his people, sees and knows all that is done by them, and will not admit of their excuses; but it is most probable the priest is intended, called the angel, or messenger, of the Lord of hosts, Malachi 2:7; to whom such who had made vows applied to be loosed from them, acknowledging their error in making them; or to offer sacrifice for their sin of ignorance, Leviticus 5:4;

wherefore should God be angry at thy voice; either in making a rash and sinful vow, or in excusing that which was made;

and destroy the work of thine hands? wrought with success, for which the vow was made; and so, instead of its succeeding, is destroyed, and comes to nothing. Vows made by the Jews were chiefly about their houses, or fields, or cattle; see Leviticus 27:28; and so the destruction suggested may signify the curse that God would bring upon any of these, for excusing or not performing the vow made.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

6. thy flesh—Vow not with "thy mouth" a vow (for example, fasting), which the lusts of the flesh ("body," Ec 2:3, Margin) may tempt thee to break (Pr 20:25).

angel—the "messenger" of God (Job 33:23); minister (Re 1:20); that is, the priest (Mal 2:7) "before" whom a breach of a vow was to be confessed (Le 5:4, 5). We, Christians, in our vows (for example, at baptism, the Lord's Supper, &c.) vow in the presence of Jesus Christ, "the angel of the covenant" (Mal 3:1), and of ministering angels as witnesses (1Co 11:10; 1Ti 5:21). Extenuate not any breach of them as a slight error.

Ecclesiastes 5:6 Additional Commentaries
Context
Approaching God with Awe
5It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. 6Do not let your speech cause you to sin and do not say in the presence of the messenger of God that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry on account of your voice and destroy the work of your hands? 7For in many dreams and in many words there is emptiness. Rather, fear God.
Cross References
Leviticus 4:2
"Say to the Israelites: 'When anyone sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the LORD's commands--

Leviticus 4:22
"'When a leader sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the commands of the LORD his God, when he realizes his guilt

Numbers 15:25
The priest is to make atonement for the whole Israelite community, and they will be forgiven, for it was not intentional and they have presented to the LORD for their wrong a food offering and a sin offering.
Treasury of Scripture

Suffer not your mouth to cause your flesh to sin; neither say you before the angel, that it was an error: why should God be angry at your voice, and destroy the work of your hands?

thy mouth

Ecclesiastes 5:1,2 Keep your foot when you go to the house of God, and be more ready …

James 1:26 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridles not his tongue, …

James 3:2 For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, …

before

Leviticus 5:4,5 Or if a soul swear, pronouncing with his lips to do evil, or to do …

Genesis 48:16 The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let …

Hosea 12:4,5 Yes, he had power over the angel, and prevailed: he wept, and made …

Malachi 2:7 For the priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek …

Malachi 3:1 Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before …

Acts 7:30-35 And when forty years were expired…

1 Corinthians 11:10 For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.

1 Timothy 5:21 I charge you before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels…

Hebrews 1:14 Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for …

it was

Leviticus 4:5-6 And the priest that is anointed shall take of the bullock's blood, …

Leviticus 27:9,10 And if it be a beast, whereof men bring an offering to the LORD, …

destroy

Haggai 1:9-11 You looked for much, and, see it came to little; and when you brought …

Haggai 2:14-17 Then answered Haggai, and said, So is this people, and so is this …

1 Corinthians 3:13-15 Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare …

Isaiah 50:10,11 Who is among you that fears the LORD, that obeys the voice of his …

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