Ecclesiastes 5:8
Parallel Verses
New International Version
If you see the poor oppressed in a district, and justice and rights denied, do not be surprised at such things; for one official is eyed by a higher one, and over them both are others higher still.

New Living Translation
Don't be surprised if you see a poor person being oppressed by the powerful and if justice is being miscarried throughout the land. For every official is under orders from higher up, and matters of justice get lost in red tape and bureaucracy.

English Standard Version
If you see in a province the oppression of the poor and the violation of justice and righteousness, do not be amazed at the matter, for the high official is watched by a higher, and there are yet higher ones over them.

New American Standard Bible
If you see oppression of the poor and denial of justice and righteousness in the province, do not be shocked at the sight; for one official watches over another official, and there are higher officials over them.

King James Bible
If thou seest the oppression of the poor, and violent perverting of judgment and justice in a province, marvel not at the matter: for he that is higher than the highest regardeth; and there be higher than they.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
If you see oppression of the poor and perversion of justice and righteousness in the province, don't be astonished at the situation, because one official protects another official, and higher officials protect them.

International Standard Version
Don't be surprised when you see the poor oppressed and the violent perverting both justice and verdicts in a province, for one high official watches another, and there are ones higher still over them.

NET Bible
If you see the extortion of the poor, or the perversion of justice and fairness in the government, do not be astonished by the matter. For the high official is watched by a higher official, and there are higher ones over them!

GOD'S WORD® Translation
Don't be surprised if you see poor people being oppressed, denied justice, or denied their rights in any district. One authority is watching over another, and they both have authorities watching over them.

Jubilee Bible 2000
If thou seest violence unto the poor and the extortion of rights and justice in a province, do not marvel at the matter, for height is looking upon height; and there is one higher than they.

King James 2000 Bible
If you see the oppression of the poor, and violent perverting of justice and righteousness in a province, marvel not at the matter: for the high official is watched by a higher one ; and there are yet higher ones over them.

American King James Version
If you see the oppression of the poor, and violent perverting of judgment and justice in a province, marvel not at the matter: for he that is higher than the highest regards; and there be higher than they.

American Standard Version
If thou seest the oppression of the poor, and the violent taking away of justice and righteousness in a province, marvel not at the matter: for one higher than the high regardeth; and there are higher than they.

Douay-Rheims Bible
If thou shalt see the oppressions of the poor, and violent judgments, and justice perverted in the province, wonder not at this matter: for he that is high hath another higher, and there are others still higher than these:

Darby Bible Translation
If thou seest the oppression of the poor, and violent perverting of judgment and justice in a province, marvel not at the matter; for a higher than the high is watching, and there are higher than they.

English Revised Version
If thou seest the oppression of the poor, and the violent taking away of judgment and justice in a province, marvel not at the matter: for one higher than the high regardeth; and there be higher than they.

Webster's Bible Translation
If thou seest the oppression of the poor, and violent perversion of judgment and justice in a province, wonder not at the matter: for he that is higher than the highest regardeth; and there are higher than they.

World English Bible
If you see the oppression of the poor, and the violent taking away of justice and righteousness in a district, don't marvel at the matter: for one official is eyed by a higher one; and there are officials over them.

Young's Literal Translation
If oppression of the poor, and violent taking away of judgment and righteousness thou seest in a province, do not marvel at the matter, for a higher than the high is observing, and high ones are over them.
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

Verses 8-17. - Section 7. Perils to which one is exposed in a despotic state, and the unprofitableness of riches. Verses 8, 9. - In political life there is little that is satisfactory; yet one must not surrender one's belief in a superintending Providence. Verse 8. - If thou seest the oppression of the poor. From errors in the service of God, it is natural to turn to faults in the administration of the king (Proverbs 24:21). Koheleth has already alluded to these anomalies in Ecclesiastes 3:16 and Ecclesiastes 4:1. Violent perverting; literally, robbery; so that judgment is never rightly given, and justice is withheld from applicants. In a province (me dinah, Ecclesiastes 2:8); the district in which the person addressed dwells. It may, perhaps, to implied that {his is remote from the central authority, and therefore more liable to be injuriously dealt with by unscrupulous rulers. Marvel not at the matter (chephets, Ecclesiastes 3:1). Be not surprised or dismayed (Job 26:11) at such evil doings,, as though they were unheard of, or inexperienced, or disregarded. There is here nothing of the Greek maxim, reproduced by Horace in his "Nil admirari" ('Epist.,' 1:6. 1). It is like St. John's "Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you" (1 John 3:13); or St. Peter's "Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial among' you" (1 Peter 4:12). The stupid and unintelligent observation of such disorders might lead to arraignment of Providence and distrust in the moral government of God. Against such mistakes the writer guards. For he that is higher than the highest regardeth. Both the words are in the singular number. Septuagint, Ὑψηλὸς ἐπάνω ὑψηλοῦ φυλάξαι. One thinks of the Persian satraps, who acted much as the Turkish pashas in later times, the petty rulers oppressing the people, and being themselves treated in the same fashion by their superiors. The whole is a system of wrong-doing, where the weaker always suffers, and the only comfort is that the oppressor himself is subject to higher supervision. The verb (shamar) translated "regardeth" means to observe in a hostile sense, to watch for occasions of reprisal, as 1 Samuel 19:11; and the idea intended is that in the province there were endless plottings and counterplottings, mutual denunciations and recriminations; that such things were only to be expected, and were no sufficient cause for infidelity or despair. "The higher one" is the monarch, the despotic king who holds the supreme power over all these malad-ministrators and perverters of justice. And there be higher than they. "Higher" is here plural (gebohgm), the plural of majesty, as it is called (comp. Ecclesiastes 12:1), like Elohim, the word for "God," the assonance being probably here suggestive. Over the highest of earthly rulers there are other powers, angels, principalities, up to God himself, who governs the course of this world, and to whom we may leave the final adjustment. Who are meant seems purposely to be left undetermined; but the thought of the righteous Judge of all is intimated in accordance with the view of Ecclesiastes 3:17. This is a far more satisfactory explanation of the passage than that which regards as the highest of all "the court favorites, king's friends, eunuchs, chamberlains," etc. In this view Koheleth is merely asserting the general system of injustice and oppression, and neither accounting for it nor offering any comfort under the circumstances. But his object throughout is to show man's inability to secure his own happiness, and the need of submission to Divine providence. To demonstrate the anomalies in the events of the world, the circumstances of men's lives would be only one part of his task, which would not be completed without turning attention to the remedy against hasty and unfair conclusions. This remedy is the thought of the supreme Disposer of events, who holds all the strings in his hand, and will in the end bring good out of evil.

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

If thou seest the oppression of the poor, and violent perverting of justice in a province,.... Which is a very disagreeable sight, but often seen; the poor are oppressed, and judgment and justice perverted, and that in a very violent and flagrant manner, in open courts of judicature, in the several provinces and kingdoms of the world;

marvel not at the matter; as though it was some strange and uncommon thing, when nothing is more common: or "marvel not at the will" or "pleasure" (t); that is, of God, who suffers such things to be. So the Targum, Jarchi, and Aben Ezra, interpret it; stumble not at it, nor arraign the wisdom and justice of God; let not that temptation prevail in thee as it has done in some good men, who have been tempted from hence to think there was nothing in religion, nor no providence attending the affairs of this world; do not be frightened and astonished, and hurried into such a thought; nor be distressed at the calamities and oppressions of poor and innocent men;

for he that is higher than the highest regardeth: that is, God, who is the most high in all the earth; higher, than the kings of the earth, and all high and haughty oppressors; higher indeed than the heavens, and the angels there: he "regards" all his people, his eyes are on them, and he never withdraws them from them; he regards their cries, and hears and answers them; he regards their oppressors, and their oppressions; and will, in his own time, deliver them; or he "keeps" (u) his people as the apple of his eye, in the hollow of his hand, night and day, lest any hurt them; he keeps them by his power through faith unto salvation. It may be rendered, "the high One from on high observes" (w); God, who is the high and lofty One, looks down from the high heavens where he dwells, and takes notice of all the sons of men, and considers all their works; see Psalm 33:13;

and there be higher than they; either the holy angels, who are higher than tyrannical oppressors, higher in nature, and excel in strength and power; and these are on the side of the oppressed, have the charge of saints, and encamp about them; and, whenever they have an order, can destroy their enemies in a moment: or rather the three divine Persons are meant, by the plural expression used, Father, Son, and Spirit; Jehovah the Father is above men, the greatest of men, in the things in which they deal proudly; be is greater than all, and none can pluck his sheep out of his hands, and worry them: Christ, the Son of the Highest, is higher than the kings, of the earth; he is King of kings, and Lord of lords, and able to deliver and save his people; and the Holy Spirit is the power of the Highest, and is greater than he or they that are in the world, the avowed enemies of the saints. Aben Ezra interprets it of the secret of the name of God, which he says is inexplicable. So the Midrash understands it of the holy blessed God; and in another tract it is said, on mention of this passage, there are three superiors above them in the way of emanation, and of them it is said (x), "there be higher than they."

(t) "super voluntate", Montanus, Cocceius; "de divina volantate", Pagninus, Mercerus; "divinam voluntatem", Tigurine version; "de ista voluntate", Junius & Tremellius, Gejerus. (u) "custodiens", Montanus; "custodit", Pagninus; "custos", Tigurine version. (w) "Observat", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Mercerus, Gejerus; "observans, observator est", Rambachius. (x) Tikkune Zohar Correct. 69. fol. 114. 1.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

8. As in Ec 3:16, so here the difficulty suggests itself. If God is so exact in even punishing hasty words (Ec 5:1-6), why does He allow gross injustice? In the remote "provinces," the "poor" often had to put themselves for protection from the inroads of Philistines, &c., under chieftains, who oppressed them even in Solomon's reign (1Ki 12:4).

the matter—literally, "the pleasure," or purpose (Isa 53:10). Marvel not at this dispensation of God's will, as if He had abandoned the world. Nay, there is coming a capital judgment at last, and an earnest of it in partial punishments of sinners meanwhile.

higher than the highest—(Da 7:18).

regardeth—(2Ch 16:9).

there be higher—plural, that is, the three persons of the Godhead, or else, "regardeth not only the 'highest' kings, than whom He 'is higher,' but even the petty tyrants of the provinces, namely, the high ones who are above them" (the poor) [Weiss].

Ecclesiastes 5:8 Additional Commentaries
Context
Wealth is Meaningless
8If you see oppression of the poor and denial of justice and righteousness in the province, do not be shocked at the sight; for one official watches over another official, and there are higher officials over them. 9After all, a king who cultivates the field is an advantage to the land.…
Cross References
1 Peter 4:12
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.

Proverbs 22:16
One who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and one who gives gifts to the rich--both come to poverty.

Proverbs 24:12
If you say, "But we knew nothing about this," does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay everyone according to what they have done?

Ecclesiastes 3:16
And I saw something else under the sun: In the place of judgment--wickedness was there, in the place of justice--wickedness was there.

Ecclesiastes 4:1
Again I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun: I saw the tears of the oppressed-- and they have no comforter; power was on the side of their oppressors-- and they have no comforter.

Ecclesiastes 5:9
The increase from the land is taken by all; the king himself profits from the fields.

Ecclesiastes 7:7
Extortion turns a wise person into a fool, and a bribe corrupts the heart.

Ecclesiastes 8:9
All this I saw, as I applied my mind to everything done under the sun. There is a time when a man lords it over others to his own hurt.

Ezekiel 18:18
But his father will die for his own sin, because he practiced extortion, robbed his brother and did what was wrong among his people.
Treasury of Scripture

If you see the oppression of the poor, and violent perverting of judgment and justice in a province, marvel not at the matter: for he that is higher than the highest regards; and there be higher than they.

thou seest

Ecclesiastes 3:16 And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness …

Ecclesiastes 4:1 So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under …

Psalm 12:5 For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now …

Psalm 55:9 Destroy, O Lord, and divide their tongues: for I have seen violence …

Psalm 58:11 So that a man shall say, Truly there is a reward for the righteous: …

Proverbs 8:17 I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.

Habakkuk 1:2,3,13 O LORD, how long shall I cry, and you will not hear! even cry out …

marvel

Zechariah 8:6 Thus said the LORD of hosts; If it be marvelous in the eyes of the …

1 John 3:13 Marvel not, my brothers, if the world hate you.

Revelation 17:6,7 And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with …

matter

Isaiah 10:5-7,12 O Assyrian, the rod of my anger, and the staff in their hand is my …

Isaiah 46:10,11 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the …

Habakkuk 1:12 Are you not from everlasting, O LORD my God, my Holy One? we shall …

Acts 4:27,28 For of a truth against your holy child Jesus, whom you have anointed, …

Romans 11:33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! …

for

Isaiah 57:15 For thus said the high and lofty One that inhabits eternity, whose …

Luke 1:32,35,76 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and …

regardeth

1 Kings 21:19,20 And you shall speak to him, saying, Thus said the LORD, Have you …

Job 20:19-29 Because he has oppressed and has forsaken the poor; because he has …

Job 27:8-23 For what is the hope of the hypocrite, though he has gained, when …

Psalm 10:17,18 LORD, you have heard the desire of the humble: you will prepare their …

Psalm 12:5 For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now …

Psalm 58:10,11 The righteous shall rejoice when he sees the vengeance: he shall …

Psalm 82:1 God stands in the congregation of the mighty; he judges among the gods.

Psalm 83:18 That men may know that you, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, are the …

Psalm 140:11,12 Let not an evil speaker be established in the earth: evil shall hunt …

Isaiah 3:15 What mean you that you beat my people to pieces, and grind the faces …

Isaiah 6:2-6,12 Above it stood the seraphim: each one had six wings; with two he …

Isaiah 8:4-7 For before the child shall have knowledge to cry, My father, and my mother…

Micah 2:1-3,9 Woe to them that devise iniquity, and work evil on their beds! when …

Micah 3:1-4,9-12 And I said, Hear, I pray you, O heads of Jacob, and you princes of …

Micah 6:10-13 Are there yet the treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked, …

Zechariah 7:9-13 Thus speaks the LORD of hosts, saying, Execute true judgment, and …

Malachi 3:5 And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness …

James 2:13 For he shall have judgment without mercy, that has showed no mercy; …

James 5:2-7 Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten…

higher than they

1 Chronicles 21:15,16 And God sent an angel to Jerusalem to destroy it: and as he was destroying, …

Psalm 95:3 For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods.

Isaiah 37:36 Then the angel of the LORD went forth, and smote in the camp of the …

Matthew 13:41,42 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather …

Acts 12:7-10,23 And, behold, the angel of the Lord came on him, and a light shined …

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