Ecclesiastes 8:8
Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
As no one has power over the wind to contain it, so no one has power over the time of their death. As no one is discharged in time of war, so wickedness will not release those who practice it.

New Living Translation
None of us can hold back our spirit from departing. None of us has the power to prevent the day of our death. There is no escaping that obligation, that dark battle. And in the face of death, wickedness will certainly not rescue the wicked.

English Standard Version
No man has power to retain the spirit, or power over the day of death. There is no discharge from war, nor will wickedness deliver those who are given to it.

New American Standard Bible
No man has authority to restrain the wind with the wind, or authority over the day of death; and there is no discharge in the time of war, and evil will not deliver those who practice it.

King James Bible
There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither hath he power in the day of death: and there is no discharge in that war; neither shall wickedness deliver those that are given to it.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
No one has authority over the wind to restrain it, and there is no authority over the day of death; there is no furlough in battle, and wickedness will not allow those who practice it to escape.

International Standard Version
Just as no human being has control over the wind to restrain it, so also no human being has control over the day of his death. Just as no one is discharged during war, so wickedness will not release those who practice it.

NET Bible
Just as no one has power over the wind to restrain it, so no one has power over the day of his death. Just as no one can be discharged during the battle, so wickedness cannot rescue the wicked.

New Heart English Bible
There is no man who has power over the spirit to contain the spirit; neither does he have power over the day of death. There is no discharge in war; neither shall wickedness deliver those who practice it.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
No one has the power to prevent the spirit of life from leaving. No one has control over the day of his own death. There is no way to avoid the war [against death]. Wickedness will not save wicked people [from dying].

JPS Tanakh 1917
There is no man that hath power over the wind to retain the wind; neither hath he power over the day of death; and there is no discharge in war; neither shall wickedness deliver him that is given to it.

New American Standard 1977
No man has authority to restrain the wind with the wind, or authority over the day of death; and there is no discharge in the time of war, and evil will not deliver those who practice it.

Jubilee Bible 2000
There is no man that has power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither does he have power over the day of death, and weapons are of no use in that war; neither shall wickedness deliver those that are given to it.

King James 2000 Bible
There is no man that has power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither has he power in the day of death: and there is no release from that war; neither shall wickedness deliver those that are given to it.

American King James Version
There is no man that has power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither has he power in the day of death: and there is no discharge in that war; neither shall wickedness deliver those that are given to it.

American Standard Version
There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither hath he power over the day of death; and there is no discharge in war: neither shall wickedness deliver him that is given to it.

Douay-Rheims Bible
It is not in man's power to stop the spirit, neither hath he power in the day of death, neither is he suffered to rest when war is at hand, neither shall wickedness save the wicked.

Darby Bible Translation
There is no man who hath control over the spirit to retain the spirit; and no one hath control over the day of death; and there is no discharge in that war, neither shall wickedness deliver those that are given to it.

English Revised Version
There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither hath he power over the day of death; and there is no discharge in that war: neither shall wickedness deliver him that is given to it.

Webster's Bible Translation
There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither hath he power in the day of death: and there is no discharge in that war; neither shall wickedness deliver those that are given to it.

World English Bible
There is no man who has power over the spirit to contain the spirit; neither does he have power over the day of death. There is no discharge in war; neither shall wickedness deliver those who practice it.

Young's Literal Translation
There is no man ruling over the spirit to restrain the spirit, and there is no authority over the day of death, and there is no discharge in battle, and wickedness delivereth not its possessors.
Study Bible
Obey the King
7If no one knows what will happen, who can tell him when it will happen? 8No man has authority to restrain the wind with the wind, or authority over the day of death; and there is no discharge in the time of war, and evil will not deliver those who practice it. 9All this I have seen and applied my mind to every deed that has been done under the sun wherein a man has exercised authority over another man to his hurt.…
Cross References
Psalm 49:7
No man can by any means redeem his brother Or give to God a ransom for him--

Ecclesiastes 8:13
But it will not be well for the evil man and he will not lengthen his days like a shadow, because he does not fear God.
Treasury of Scripture

There is no man that has power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither has he power in the day of death: and there is no discharge in that war; neither shall wickedness deliver those that are given to it.

is no

Ecclesiastes 3:21 Who knows the spirit of man that goes upward, and the spirit of the …

2 Samuel 14:14 For we must needs die, and are as water spilt on the ground, which …

Job 14:5 Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with …

Job 34:14 If he set his heart on man, if he gather to himself his spirit and his breath;

Psalm 49:6-9 They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude …

Psalm 89:48 What man is he that lives, and shall not see death? shall he deliver …

Hebrews 9:27 And as it is appointed to men once to die, but after this the judgment:

power

1 Corinthians 15:43 It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; …

2 Corinthians 13:4 For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he lives by the …

discharge

Deuteronomy 20:1-8 When you go out to battle against your enemies, and see horses, and …

2 Kings 7:15 And they went after them to Jordan: and, see, all the way was full …

neither

Psalm 9:17 The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.

Psalm 52:5-7 God shall likewise destroy you for ever, he shall take you away, …

Psalm 73:18 Surely you did set them in slippery places: you cast them down into destruction.

Proverbs 14:32 The wicked is driven away in his wickedness: but the righteous has …

Isaiah 28:15,18 Because you have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with …

(8) Spirit.--As has been remarked in similar cases, the translation "wind" is possible; but the rendering of the whole verse as given in our version seems to me as good as any that it has been proposed to substitute.

Discharge.--Elsewhere only (Psalm 78:49) where it is translated "sending."

Verse 8. - This verse gives the conclusion of the line of argument which confirms the last clause of ver. 5. There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit. If we take "spirit" in the sense of "the breath of life," explaining the clause to mean that the mightiest despot has no power to retain life when his call comes, we have the same thought repeated virtually in the next clause. It is therefore bettor to take ruach in the sense of "wind" (Genesis 8:1). No one can control the course of the wind or know its way (comp. Ecclesiastes 11:5, where the same ambiguity exists; Proverbs 30:4). Koheleth gives here four impossibilities which point to the conclusion already given. The first is man's inability to check the viewless wind or to know whence it comes or whither it goes (John 3:8). Equally impotent is the tyrant to influence the drift of events that is bearing him on to his end. God's judgments are often likened to a wind (see Isaiah 41:16; Wisd. 4:4 Wisd. 5:23). Neither hath he power in the day of death; rather, over the day of death. The second impossibility concerns the averting the hour of death. Whether it comes by sickness, or accident, or design, the despot must succumb; he can neither foresee nor ward it off (1 Samuel 26:10, "The Lord shall smite him; or his day shall come to die; or he shall go down into battle, and perish;" Ecclus. 14:12, "Remember that death will not be long in coming, and that the covenant of the grave is not showed unto thee"). And there is no discharge in that war. The word rendered "discharge" (mishlachath) is found elsewhere only in Psalm 78:49, where it is translated "sending," "mission," or "band." The Septuagint here has ἀποατολή; the Vulgate Nec sinitur quiescere ingruente bello. The Authorized Version is doubtless correct, though there is no need to insert the pronoun "that." The severity of the law of military service is considered analogously with the inexorable law of death. The Hebrew enactment (Deuteronomy 20:5-8) allowed exemption in certain cases; but the Persian rule was inflexibly rigid, permitting no furlough or evasion during an expedition. Thus we read that when (Eobazus, the father of three sons, petitioned Darius to leave him one at home, the tyrant replied that he would leave him all three, and had them put to death. Again, Pythius, a Lydian, asking Xerxes to exempt his eldest son from accompanying the army to Greece, was reviled by the monarch in unmeasured terms, and was punished for his presumption by seeing his son slain before his eyes, the body divided into two pieces, and placed on either side of the road by which the army passed, that all might be warned of the fate awaiting any attempt to evade military service (Herod., 4:84; 7:35). The passage in the text has a bearing on the authorship and date of our book, is as seems most probable, the reference is to the cruel discipline of Persia. This is the third impossibility; the fourth follows. Neither shall wickedness deliver those that are given to it; its lord and master. Septuagint, τὸν παρ αὐτῆς, "its votary." Ginsburg translates resha "cunning;" but this seems foreign to the sentiment, which is concerned with the despot's impiety, injustice, and general wickedness, not with the means by which he endeavors to escape the reward of his deeds. The fact is, no evil despot, however reckless and imperious, can go long unpunished. He may say in his heart, "There is no God," or, "God hideth his face, and sees him not," but certain retribution awaits him, and may not be avoided. Says the gnome -

Ἄγει τὸ θεῖον τοὺς κακοὺς πρὸς τὴν δίκνη.

"Heaven drives the evil always unto judgment" There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit,.... Which is not to be understood of the wind, which the word used sometimes signifies, and of men's having no power to restrain that, or hinder it from blowing; for to what purpose should Solomon mention this? rather it may be considered as a check upon despotic and arbitrary princes not to stretch their power too far; since they had none over the spirits or minds of men, and could not hinder them from thinking ill of them, and wishing ill to them, nor restrain their hatred of them; whatever power they had or exercised over their bodies and estates, they had none over their spirits, or their consciences; no lawful power to restrain them from their to God, nor to oblige them to do that which he has forbidden; nor to compel them to anything against conscience; nor to bind their consciences in matters indifferent: or as an argument with subjects to obey the commands of their sovereign; since it is not in their power to restrain the spirit and wrath of princes, which is as the roaring of a lion, and as: he messengers of death, Proverbs 16:14; particularly to be careful that they do not commit any capital offence, for which sentence may be passed to take away life; when it will not be in their power to retain it; nor rescue themselves out of the hands of justice and the civil magistrate, but must submit. Or else it is to be understood of every man's spirit at the hour of death, and of the unavoidableness of it, as the next clause explains it; and by "spirit" is meant, either the sensitive soul, the same with the spirit of a beast, without which the body is dead, and is like the wind that passeth away, and ceaseth when the breath is stopped; or the rational soul, the spirit that is committed to God, and returns to him at death, Luke 23:43. This a man has not power over to dismiss or retain at pleasure; he cannot keep it one moment longer when it is called for and required by the Father of spirits, the Creator of it; he has not power "to restrain" (d) it, as in a prison, as the word signifies, as Alshech observes; whence Aben Ezra says, that the spirit or soul in the body is like a prisoner in a prison; but nothing, that attends a man in this life, or he is in possession of, can keep the soul in this prison, when the time of its departure is come; not riches, nor honours, nor wisdom and leaning, nor strength and youth, nor all the force of medicine; the time is fixed, it is the appointment of God, the bounds set by him cannot be passed, Ecclesiastes 3:2, Job 14:5. The Targum is,

"no man has power over the spirit of the soul to restrain the soul of life, that it might not cease from the body of man;''

and to the same sense Jarchi,

"to restrain the spirit in his body, that the angel of death should not take him;''

neither hath he power in the day of death; or "dominion" (e); death strips a man of all power and authority, the power that the husband has over the wife, or parents over their children, or the master over his servant, or the king over his subjects; death puts down all power and authority: it is an observation of Jarchi's, that David after he came to the throne is everywhere called King David, but, when he came to die, only David, 1 Kings 2:1; no king nor ruler can stand against death any more than a beggar; up man is lord of death any more than of life, but death is lord of all; all must and do submit to it, high and low, rich and poor; there is a day fixed for it, and that day can never be adjourned, or put off to another; and as man has not power to deliver himself in the day of death, so neither his friend, as the Targum, nor any relation whatever;

and there is no discharge in that war; death is a warfare as well as life, with which nature struggles, but in vain; it is an enemy, and the last that shall be destroyed; it is a king, and a very powerful one; there is no withstanding him, he is always victorious; and there is no escaping the battle with him, or fleeing from him; a discharge of soldiers in other wars is sometimes obtained by interest, by the entreaty of friends, or by money; but here all cries and entreaties signify nothing; nor does he value riches, gold, or all the forces of strength; see 2 Samuel 12:18; under the old law, if a person had built a new house, or married a wife, or was faint hearted, he was excused and dismissed; but none of these things are of any avail in this war, Deuteronomy 20:5; captives taken in war are sometimes dismissed by their conquerors, or they find ways and means to make their escape; but nothing of this kind can be done when death has seized on the persons of men. Some render it, there is "no sending to" or "in that war" (f); there is no sending forces against death to withstand him, it is to no purpose; there is no sending a message to him to sue for a peace, truce, or reprieve; he will hearken to nothing; there is no sending one in the room of another, as Jarchi observes,

"a man cannot say, I will send my son, or my servant;''

no surrogation is allowed of in this case, as David wished for, 2 Samuel 18:33. Aben Ezra interprets it, no armour, and so many interpreters; and so the Targum;

"nor do instruments of armour help in war;''

in this war: in other wars a man may put on a helmet of brass and a coat of mail, to protect and defend him, or throw darts and arrows; but these signify nothing when death makes his approach and attack;

neither shall wickedness deliver those that are given to it; or "the masters of it" (g); that is, from death; neither Satan the wicked one, as Jerom, who is wickedness itself, and with whom wicked men are confederate, can deliver them from death; nor sinners the most abandoned deliver themselves, who have made a covenant with it, and an agreement with hell, Isaiah 28:15; such who are masters of the greatest wicked craft and cunning, and who devise many ways to escape other things, can contrive none to escape death; nor will riches gotten by wickedness deliver the owners of them from death; see Proverbs 10:2; This sense is mentioned by Aben Ezra, and not to be despised.

(d) "ut coerceat", Piscator; "ad coercendum", Cocceius. (e) "dominatio", Junius & Tremellius, Vatablus; "dominium", Rambachius. (f) "non est missio ad illud praelium", Varenius apud Gejerum. (g) "dominos suos", Drusius. 8. spirit—"breath of life" (Ec 3:19), as the words following require. Not "wind," as Weiss thinks (Pr 30:4). This verse naturally follows the subject of "times" and "judgment" (Ec 8:6, 7).

discharge—alluding to the liability to military service of all above twenty years old (Nu 1:3), yet many were exempted (De 20:5-8). But in that war (death) there is no exemption.

those … given to—literally, the master of it. Wickedness can get money for the sinner, but cannot deliver him from the death, temporal and eternal, which is its penalty (Isa 28:15, 18).8:6-8 God has, in wisdom, kept away from us the knowledge of future events, that we may be always ready for changes. We must all die, no flight or hiding-place can save us, nor are there any weapons of effectual resistance. Ninety thousand die every day, upwards of sixty every minute, and one every moment. How solemn the thought! Oh that men were wise, that they understood these things, that they would consider their latter end! The believer alone is prepared to meet the solemn summons. Wickedness, by which men often escape human justice, cannot secure from death.
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