Ecclesiastes 7:17
Parallel Verses
New International Version
Do not be overwicked, and do not be a fool-- why die before your time?

New Living Translation
On the other hand, don't be too wicked either. Don't be a fool! Why die before your time?

English Standard Version
Be not overly wicked, neither be a fool. Why should you die before your time?

New American Standard Bible
Do not be excessively wicked and do not be a fool. Why should you die before your time?

King James Bible
Be not over much wicked, neither be thou foolish: why shouldest thou die before thy time?

Holman Christian Standard Bible
Don't be excessively wicked, and don't be foolish. Why should you die before your time?

International Standard Version
Do not excel at wickedness, nor be a fool. Why die before your time?

NET Bible
Do not be excessively wicked and do not be a fool; otherwise you might die before your time.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
Don't be too wicked, and don't be a fool. Why should you die before your time is up?

Jubilee Bible 2000
Do not be hasty to condemn, neither be thou foolish: why should thou die in the midst of thy labours?

King James 2000 Bible
Be not overly wicked, neither be foolish: why should you die before your time?

American King James Version
Be not over much wicked, neither be you foolish: why should you die before your time?

American Standard Version
Be not overmuch wicked, neither be thou foolish: why shouldest thou die before thy time?

Douay-Rheims Bible
Be not overmuch wicked: and be not foolish, lest thou die before thy time.

Darby Bible Translation
Be not overmuch wicked, neither be thou foolish: why shouldest thou die before thy time?

English Revised Version
Be not over much wicked, neither be thou foolish: why shouldest thou die before thy time?

Webster's Bible Translation
Be not over much wicked, neither be thou foolish: why shouldst thou die before thy time?

World English Bible
Don't be too wicked, neither be foolish. Why should you die before your time?

Young's Literal Translation
Do not much wrong, neither be thou a fool, why dost thou die within thy time?
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

7:11-22 Wisdom is as good as an inheritance, yea better. It shelters from the storms and scorching heat of trouble. Wealth will not lengthen out the natural life; but true wisdom will give spiritual life, and strengthen men for services under their sufferings. Let us look upon the disposal of our condition as the work of God, and at last all will appear to have been for the best. In acts of righteousness, be not carried into heats or passions, no, not by a zeal for God. Be not conceited of thine own abilities; nor find fault with every thing, nor busy thyself in other men's matters. Many who will not be wrought upon by the fear of God, and the dread of hell, will avoid sins which ruin their health and estate, and expose to public justice. But those that truly fear God, have but one end to serve, therefore act steadily. If we say we have not sinned, we deceive ourselves. Every true believer is ready to say, God be merciful to me a sinner. Forget not at the same time, that personal righteousness, walking in newness of life, is the only real evidence of an interest by faith in the righteousness of the Redeemer. Wisdom teaches us not to be quick in resenting affronts. Be not desirous to know what people say; if they speak well of thee, it will feed thy pride, if ill, it will stir up thy passion. See that thou approve thyself to God and thine own conscience, and then heed not what men say of thee; it is easier to pass by twenty affronts than to avenge one. When any harm is done to us, examine whether we have not done as bad to others.

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 17. - Be not over much wicked neither be thou foolish. These two injunctions are parallel and correlative to those in ver. 16 concerning over-righteousness and over-wisdom. But the present verse cannot be meant, as at first sight it seems to do, to sanction a certain amount of wickedness provided it does not exceed due measure. To surmount this difficulty some have undeavored to modify the term "wicked" (rasha), taking it to mean "engaged in worldly matters," or "not subject to rule," "lax," or again "restless," as some translate the word in Job 3:17. But the word seems not to be used in any such senses, and bears uniformly the uncompromising signification assigned to it, "to be wicked, unrighteous, guilty." The difficulty is not overcome by Plumptre's suggestion of the introduction of a little "playful irony learned from Greek teachers," as if Koheleth meant, "I have warned you, my friends, against over-righteousness, but do not jump at the conclusion that license is allowable. That was very far from my meaning." The connection of thought is this: in the previous verse Koheleth had denounced the Pharisaical spirit which virtually condemned the Divine ordering of circumstances, because vice was not at once and visibly punished, and virtue at once rewarded; and now he proceeds to warn against the deliberate and abominable wickedness which infers from God's long-suffering his absolute neglect and non- interference in mortal matters, and on this view plunges audaciously into vice and immorality, saying to itself, "God hath forgotten: he hideth his face; he will never see it" (Psalm 10:11). Such conduct may well be called "foolish;" it is that of "the fool who says in his heart, There is no God" (Psalm 14:1). The actual wording of the injunction sounds to us somewhat strange; but its form is determined by the requirements of parallelism, and the aphorism must not be pressed beyond its general intention, "Be not righteous nor wise to excess; be not wicked nor foolish to excess." Septuagint, "Be not very wicked, and be not stubborn (σκληρός)." Why shouldest thou die before thy time? literally, not in thy time; prematurely, tempting God to punish thee by retributive judgment, or shortening thy days by vicious excesses. (For the former, see Job 22:16; Psalm 55:23; Proverbs 10:27; and comp. 1 Samuel 2:31, 33; and for the latter, Proverbs 5:23; Proverbs 7:23-27; Proverbs 10:21.) The Syriac contains a clause not given in any other version, "that thou mayest not be hated." As is often the case, both in this book and in Proverbs, a general statement in one place is reduced by a contrariant or modified opinion in another. Thus the prolongation of the life of the wicked, noticed in ver. 15, is here shown to be abnormal, impiety in the usual course of events having a tendency to shorten life. In this way hasty generalization is corrected, and the Divine arrangement is vindicated.

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Be not over much wicked,.... Not that a man should be wicked at all; but some, observing that wicked men prolong their days in wickedness, are encouraged to go into greater lengths in sin than they have yet done, and give up themselves to all iniquity; and run into excess of not, into the grossest and most scandalous enormities. Some render it, "do not disturb" or "frighten thyself" (a), distress and distract thyself with the business of life, bustling and stirring, restless and uneasy, to get wealth and riches; but be easy and satisfied with what is enjoyed, or comes without so much stir and trouble; this is the original sense of the word. The meaning seems to be, either do not multiply sin, add unto it, and continue in it; or do not aggravate it, making sins to be greater and more heinous than they are, and a man's case worse than it is, and so sink into despair; and thus it stands opposed to an ostentatious show of righteousness;

neither be thou foolish; or give up thyself to a profligate life, to go on in a course of sin, which will issue in the ruin of body and soul; or in aggravating it in an excessive manner;

why shouldest thou die before thy time? bring diseases on thy body by a wicked course of living, which will issue in death; or fall into the hands of the civil magistrate, for capital offences, for which sentence of death must pass and be executed, before a man comes to the common term of human life; see Psalm 55:23; or, as Mr. Broughton renders it, "before thy ordinary time"; not before the appointed time (b). The Targum is,

"be the cause of death to thy soul;''

or through despair commit suicide.

(a) "ne paveas", Pagninus; "ne te occupes multum, aut distrahas te, sive inquietes", some in Vatablus; so Aben Ezra and Ben Melech. (b) "Ante diem", Virgil. Aeneid. 4. prope finem. Vid. Servium in ib. Ovid. Metamorph. l. 1. Fab. 4.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

17. over much wicked—so worded, to answer to "righteous over much." For if not taken thus, it would seem to imply that we may be wicked a little. "Wicked" refers to "wicked man" (Ec 7:15); "die before thy time," to "prolongeth his life," antithetically. There may be a wicked man spared to "live long," owing to his avoiding gross excesses (Ec 7:15). Solomon says, therefore, Be not so foolish (answering antithetically to "over wise," Ec 7:16), as to run to such excess of riot, that God will be provoked to cut off prematurely thy day of grace (Ro 2:5). The precept is addressed to a sinner. Beware of aggravating thy sin, so as to make thy case desperate. It refers to the days of Solomon's "vanity" (apostasy, Ec 7:15), when only such a precept would be applicable. By litotes it includes, "Be not wicked at all."

Ecclesiastes 7:17 Additional Commentaries
Context
Limits of Human Wisdom
16Do not be excessively righteous and do not be overly wise. Why should you ruin yourself? 17Do not be excessively wicked and do not be a fool. Why should you die before your time? 18It is good that you grasp one thing and also not let go of the other; for the one who fears God comes forth with both of them.…
Cross References
2 Samuel 6:20
When David returned home to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, "How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, going around half-naked in full view of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!"

Job 15:32
Before his time he will wither, and his branches will not flourish.

Job 22:16
They were carried off before their time, their foundations washed away by a flood.

Psalm 55:23
But you, God, will bring down the wicked into the pit of decay; the bloodthirsty and deceitful will not live out half their days. But as for me, I trust in you.

Proverbs 10:27
The fear of the LORD adds length to life, but the years of the wicked are cut short.
Treasury of Scripture

Be not over much wicked, neither be you foolish: why should you die before your time?

not

Jeremiah 2:33,34 Why trim you your way to seek love? therefore have you also taught …

Ezekiel 8:17 Then he said to me, Have you seen this, O son of man?…

Ezekiel 16:20 Moreover you have taken your sons and your daughters, whom you have …

James 1:21 Why lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and …

why

Genesis 38:7-10 And Er, Judah's firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the LORD; and …

1 Samuel 25:38 And it came to pass about ten days after, that the LORD smote Nabal, …

Job 15:32,33 It shall be accomplished before his time, and his branch shall not be green…

Psalm 55:23 But you, O God, shall bring them down into the pit of destruction: …

Proverbs 10:27 The fear of the LORD prolongs days: but the years of the wicked shall …

Acts 5:5,10 And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: …

Acts 12:23 And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave …

before thy time

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