Ecclesiastes 8:1
Parallel Verses
New International Version
Who is like the wise? Who knows the explanation of things? A person's wisdom brightens their face and changes its hard appearance.

New Living Translation
How wonderful to be wise, to analyze and interpret things. Wisdom lights up a person's face, softening its harshness.

English Standard Version
Who is like the wise? And who knows the interpretation of a thing? A man’s wisdom makes his face shine, and the hardness of his face is changed.

New American Standard Bible
Who is like the wise man and who knows the interpretation of a matter? A man's wisdom illumines him and causes his stern face to beam.

King James Bible
Who is as the wise man? and who knoweth the interpretation of a thing? a man's wisdom maketh his face to shine, and the boldness of his face shall be changed.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
Who is like the wise person, and who knows the interpretation of a matter? A man's wisdom brightens his face, and the sternness of his face is changed.

International Standard Version
Who is really wise? Who knows how to interpret this saying: "A person's wisdom improves his appearance, softening a harsh countenance."

NET Bible
Who is a wise person? Who knows the solution to a problem? A person's wisdom brightens his appearance, and softens his harsh countenance.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
Who is really wise? Who knows how to explain things? Wisdom makes one's face shine, and it changes one's grim look.

Jubilee Bible 2000
Who is as the wise man? and who is as he who knows the interpretation of all things? The wisdom of this man shall make his face to shine, and the coarseness of his face shall be changed.

King James 2000 Bible
Who is as the wise man? and who knows the interpretation of a thing? a man's wisdom makes his face to shine, and the hardness of his face is changed.

American King James Version
Who is as the wise man? and who knows the interpretation of a thing? a man's wisdom makes his face to shine, and the boldness of his face shall be changed.

American Standard Version
Who is as the wise man? and who knoweth the interpretation of a thing? A man's wisdom maketh his face to shine, and the hardness of his face is changed.

Douay-Rheims Bible
The wisdom of a man shineth in his countenance, and the most mighty will change his face.

Darby Bible Translation
Who is as the wise? and who knoweth the explanation of things? A man's wisdom maketh his face to shine, and the boldness of his face is changed.

English Revised Version
Who is as the wise man? and who knoweth the interpretation of a thing? A man's wisdom maketh his face to shine, and the hardness of his face is changed.

Webster's Bible Translation
Who is as the wise man? and who knoweth the interpretation of a thing? a man's wisdom maketh his face to shine, and the boldness of his face shall be changed.

World English Bible
Who is like the wise man? And who knows the interpretation of a thing? A man's wisdom makes his face shine, and the hardness of his face is changed.

Young's Literal Translation
Who is as the wise? and who knoweth the interpretation of a thing? The wisdom of man causeth his face to shine, and the hardness of his face is changed.
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

8:1-5 None of the rich, the powerful, the honourable, or the accomplished of the sons of men, are so excellent, useful, or happy, as the wise man. Who else can interpret the words of God, or teach aright from his truths and dispensations? What madness must it be for weak and dependent creatures to rebel against the Almighty! What numbers form wrong judgments, and bring misery on themselves, in this life and that to come!

Pulpit Commentary

Verses 1-9. - Section 5. There is no use in repining or rebelling; true wisdom counsels obedience to the powers that be, and submission to the dispensations of Providence. However oppressive a tyrant may prove sure retribution awaits him. Verse 1. - Who is as the wise man? i.e. Who is like, equal to, the wise man? The somewhat sudden question occurs naturally after the results of the search for wisdom mentioned at the end of the last chapter. The thought is not, as in Hosea 14:9 and Jeremiah 9:12, "Who is wise?" but - No one Call be compared with a wise man; he has no compeer. And who [like him] knoweth the interpretation of a thing? Who, so well as the wise man, understands the proper relation of circumstances, sees into human affairs and God's dispensations in the case of nations and individuals? Such a one takes the right view of life. The word pesher, "interpretation," occurs (peshar) continually in Daniel, and nowhere else and is Chaldaic. The Vulgate, which connects these two clauses with Ecclesiastes 7, renders, Quis cognovit solutionem verbi? So the Septuagint. The "word" or "saying" may be the question proposed above Concerning the happy life, or the proverb that immediately follows. But dabar is better rendered "thing," as Ecclesiastes 1:8; Ecclesiastes 7:8. A man's wisdom maketh his face to shine; Septuagint, φωτιεῖ, "will enlighten, illuminate." The serene light within makes itself visible in the outward expression; the man is contented arid cheerful, and shows this in his look and bearing. This is an additional praise of wisdom. Thus Ecclus. 13:25, 26, "The heart of man changeth his countenance, whether it be for good or evil. A cheerful countenance is a token of a heart that is in prosperity." Cicero, 'De Orat.,' 3:57, "Omnes enim motus animi suum quemdam a natura habet vultum et sonum et gestum; corpusque totum homiuis et ejus omnis vultus omnesque voces, ut nervi in fidibus, ita sonant, ut motu animi quoque sunt pulsae." And the boldness of his face shall be changed. The word translated "boldness" is עֹז, which means properly "strength," and is best taken of the coarseness and impudence engendered by ignorance and want of culture. Wisdom, when it fills the heart, changes the countenance to an open genial look, which wins confidence and love. Delitzsch refers to the well-worn lines of Ovid, 'Epist.,' 2:9. 47 -

"Adde, quod ingenuas didicisse fideliter artes
Emollit mores, nec sinit esse feros."
The Septuagint, "And a man shameless in countenance will be hated," shows an alteration in the text, and does not agree with the context. Vulgate, Et potentissimus faciem illius commutabit, "And the Almighty will change his face," where again the text is not accurately followed.

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Who is as the wise man?.... Who is as the first man, that was made upright, and was a wise man? not one of his sons. Or who is as the wise man, meaning himself? no man; he was the wisest of men; and yet he could not find out wisdom, and the reason of things, and the wickedness of folly, Ecclesiastes 7:25; how therefore should any other man? what can the man do that comes after the king? Or who is like to a wise man, to he compared to him for honour and dignity? none; not those of the highest birth and blood, of the greatest wealth and riches, or in the highest places of power and authority; a wise man is above them, they being without wisdom; and especially such as are wise to salvation; these are the excellent in the earth, and the most worthy among men. Or who is a truly wise man? is there really such a person in the world, that has got to the perfection of wisdom? not one; and very few they are that can, in a true and proper sense, be called wise men. The Targum is,

"who is a wise man, that can stand against the wisdom of the Lord?''

and who knoweth the interpretation of a thing? or "a word" (q)? the word of God, which is not of private interpretation? none know it rightly, but such who have the Spirit of God, the enditer of the word: Christ is the interpreter, one among a thousand; and, next to him are those who have his mind, and rightly divide the word of truth. The Targum is,

"and to know the interpretation of the words in the prophets:''

this may be understood of the solution of any difficulties in things natural or civil; and of the interpretation of any of the works of God, either in nature or providence, as well as of his word; and he is a wise man, that not only has wisdom in himself, but is able to teach others, and make them wise; can solve doubts, remove difficulties, interpret nature, the works and word of God. Aben Ezra repeats the note of similitude from the former clause, and so it may be rendered, "Who is as he that knows the interpretation of a thing", or "word?" such an one as Solomon was, Proverbs 1:6;

a man's wisdom maketh his face to shine: as Moses, when he came down from the mount, full fraught with the knowledge of the will of God, Exodus 34:29; and as Stephen, whose wisdom and spirit, by which he spoke, were irresistible, Acts 6:10; wisdom, which discovers itself in a man's words and actions, gives comeliness to his person, makes him look amiable and lovely in the eyes of others: or, it "enlightens his face" (r); by it he is able to see the difference between truth and falsehood, and what is to be done and not done; what way he should walk in, and what he should shun and avoid;

and the boldness of his face shall be changed; the ferocity and austerity of his countenance, the impudence and inhumanity that appeared in him before, through his wisdom and knowledge, are changed into meekness, gentleness, and humanity; of an impudent, fierce, and badly behaved man, he becomes meek, modest, affable, and humane; this effect natural wisdom and knowledge has on men (s); and much more spiritual and evangelical wisdom, which comes from above, and is first pure, then peaceable and gentle, James 3:17. Some read it, "the strength of his face shall be doubled", or "renewed" (t); he shall be changed into the same image, from glory to glory; his spiritual strength shall be renewed, and his light and knowledge increase yet more and more, 2 Corinthians 3:18. But Gussetius (u) renders it, his "boldness", or impudence, "shall be hated".

(q) "verbi", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus. (r) "illustrati", Vatablus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Mercerus; "illuminat", Cocceius, Gejerus, Rambachius, so Broughton. (s) "Adde quod ingenuas didicisse fideliter artes, emollit mores, nec sinit esse feros", Ovid. de Ponto, l. 2. Eleg. 9. (t) "duplicatur", Junius & Tremellius, Varenius; "instauratur", Cocceius, Gejerus. (u) Ebr. Comment. p. 595. so the Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

CHAPTER 8

Ec 8:1-17.

1. Praise of true wisdom continued (Ec 7:11, &c.). "Who" is to be accounted "equal to the wise man? … Who (like him) knoweth the interpretation" of God's providences (for example, Ec 7:8, 13, 14), and God's word (for example, see on [665]Ec 7:29; Pr 1:6)?

face to shine—(Ec 7:14; Ac 6:15). A sunny countenance, the reflection of a tranquil conscience and serene mind. Communion with God gives it (Ex 34:29, 30).

boldness—austerity.

changed—into a benign expression by true wisdom (religion) (Jas 3:17). Maurer translates, "The shining (brightness) of his face is doubled," arguing that the Hebrew noun for "boldness" is never used in a bad sense (Pr 4:18). Or as Margin, "strength" (Ec 7:19; Isa 40:31; 2Co 3:18). But the adjective is used in a bad sense (De 28:50).

Ecclesiastes 8:1 Additional Commentaries
Context
Obey the King
1Who is like the wise man and who knows the interpretation of a matter? A man's wisdom illumines him and causes his stern face to beam. 2I say, "Keep the command of the king because of the oath before God.…
Cross References
Romans 13:5
Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

Exodus 34:29
When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the LORD.

Exodus 34:30
When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near him.

Deuteronomy 28:50
a fierce-looking nation without respect for the old or pity for the young.

Proverbs 21:29
The wicked put up a bold front, but the upright give thought to their ways.
Treasury of Scripture

Who is as the wise man? and who knows the interpretation of a thing? a man's wisdom makes his face to shine, and the boldness of his face shall be changed.

as the

Ecclesiastes 2:13,14 Then I saw that wisdom excels folly, as far as light excels darkness…

1 Corinthians 2:13-16 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teaches, …

who knoweth

Genesis 40:8 And they said to him, We have dreamed a dream, and there is no interpreter …

Genesis 41:15,16,38,39 And Pharaoh said to Joseph, I have dreamed a dream, and there is …

Job 33:23 If there be a messenger with him, an interpreter, one among a thousand, …

Proverbs 1:6 To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the …

Daniel 2:28-30,47 But there is a God in heaven that reveals secrets, and makes known …

Daniel 4:18,19 This dream I king Nebuchadnezzar have seen. Now you, O Belteshazzar, …

2 Peter 1:20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private …

a man's

Exodus 34:29,30 And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the …

Proverbs 4:8,9 Exalt her, and she shall promote you: she shall bring you to honor, …

Proverbs 17:24 Wisdom is before him that has understanding; but the eyes of a fool …

Proverbs 24:5 A wise man is strong; yes, a man of knowledge increases strength.

Matthew 17:2 And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, …

Acts 6:15 And all that sat in the council, looking steadfastly on him, saw …

and the

Deuteronomy 28:50 A nation of fierce countenance, which shall not regard the person …

Acts 4:13,29 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that …

Ephesians 6:19 And for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my …

boldness

2 Timothy 4:17 Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that …

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