Ecclesiastes 9:12
Parallel Verses
New International Version
Moreover, no one knows when their hour will come: As fish are caught in a cruel net, or birds are taken in a snare, so people are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them.

New Living Translation
People can never predict when hard times might come. Like fish in a net or birds in a trap, people are caught by sudden tragedy.

English Standard Version
For man does not know his time. Like fish that are taken in an evil net, and like birds that are caught in a snare, so the children of man are snared at an evil time, when it suddenly falls upon them.

New American Standard Bible
Moreover, man does not know his time: like fish caught in a treacherous net and birds trapped in a snare, so the sons of men are ensnared at an evil time when it suddenly falls on them.

King James Bible
For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
For man certainly does not know his time: like fish caught in a cruel net or like birds caught in a trap, so people are trapped in an evil time as it suddenly falls on them.

International Standard Version
In addition, no human being knows his time: Like fish captured in a cruel net, or as birds caught in a snare, so also are human beings caught by bad timing that surprises them.

NET Bible
Surely, no one knows his appointed time! Like fish that are caught in a deadly net, and like birds that are caught in a snare--just like them, all people are ensnared at an unfortunate time that falls upon them suddenly.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
No one knows when his time will come. Like fish that are caught in a cruel net or birds caught in a snare, humans are trapped by a disaster when it suddenly strikes them.

Jubilee Bible 2000
For man also does not know his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net and as the birds that are caught in the snare, so are the sons of men snared in the evil time, when it falls suddenly upon them.

King James 2000 Bible
For man also knows not his time: as the fish that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falls suddenly upon them.

American King James Version
For man also knows not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falls suddenly on them.

American Standard Version
For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare, even so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.

Douay-Rheims Bible
Man knoweth not his own end: but as fishes are taken with the hook, and as birds are caught with the snare, so men are taken in the evil time, when it shall suddenly come upon them.

Darby Bible Translation
For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are taken with the snare, like them are the children of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.

English Revised Version
For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare, even so, are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.

Webster's Bible Translation
For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.

World English Bible
For man also doesn't know his time. As the fish that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare, even so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falls suddenly on them.

Young's Literal Translation
For even man knoweth not his time; as fish that are taken hold of by an evil net, and as birds that are taken hold of by a snare, like these are the sons of man snared at an evil time, when it falleth upon them suddenly.
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

9:11,12 Men's success seldom equals their expectations. We must use means, but not trust to them: if we succeed, we must give God the praise; if crossed, we must submit to his will. Those who put off the great concerns of their souls, are caught in Satan's net, which he baits with some worldly object, for which they reject or neglect the gospel, and go on in sin till they suddenly fall into destruction.

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 12. - Man also knoweth not his time; Vulgate, Neseit homo finem suum, understanding "his time" to mean his death-hour; but it may include any misfortune or accident. The particle gain, "also," or "even," belongs to "his time." Not only are results out of man's control (ver. 11), but his life is in higher hands, and he is never sure of a day. As the fishes that are taken in an evil net, etc. The suddenness and unforeseen nature of calamities that befall men are here expressed by two forcible similes (comp. Proverbs 7:23; Ezekiel 12:13; Ezekiel 32:3). Thus Homer ('Iliad,' 5:487) -

"Beware lest ye, as in the meshes caught
Of some wide-sweeping net, become the prey
And booty of your foes."


(Derby.) So are the sons of men snared in an evil time. Men are suddenly overtaken by calamity, which they are totally unable to foresee or provide against. Our Lord says (Luke 21:35) that the last day shall come as a snare on all that dwell in the earth (comp. Ezekiel 7:7, 12).

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

For man also knoweth not his time,.... Though it is fixed and settled by the Lord, yet times and seasons are kept in his own power, and not known by men; not the time of his death, nor of any calamity and distress coming upon him, nor the proper season and opportunity of doing himself good, and avoiding evil;

as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; as fishes are suddenly taken in a net, unhappy for them, which is at once east over them, while they are sporting and playing in the water, and catching at the bait; and as birds, being decoyed, are unawares taken in a snare; that is, both of them know not the time of their being caught;

so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them; they are no more able to guard against a time of adversity and calamity, and the evil of it, which comes at once upon them, than the poor fishes or silly birds are to avoid the net and snare; and are, like them, at such a time, in the utmost security, indulging themselves in ease and pleasure: so the day of death, and of judgment, will come like a thief in the night; or like a snare upon men, when they think nothing of it, but are giving up themselves to their lusts and pleasures; see 1 Thessalonians 5:2; for pleasure, as Plato says, is the bait of evils, with which men are caught, as fishes with the hook (g).

(g) Apud Ciceronem de Senectute, c. 12. "Hic ubi saepe occultum visus decurrere piscis ad hamum", Horat. Epist. l. 1. Ep. 8. v. 73, 74.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

12. his time—namely, of death (Ec 7:15; Isa 13:22). Hence the danger of delay in doing the work of God, as one knows not when his opportunity will end (Ec 9:10).

evil net—fatal to them. The unexpected suddenness of the capture is the point of comparison. So the second coming of Jesus Christ, "as a snare" (Lu 21:35).

evil time—as an "evil net," fatal to them.

Ecclesiastes 9:12 Additional Commentaries
Context
Enjoy Your Portion in This Life
11I again saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift and the battle is not to the warriors, and neither is bread to the wise nor wealth to the discerning nor favor to men of ability; for time and chance overtake them all. 12Moreover, man does not know his time: like fish caught in a treacherous net and birds trapped in a snare, so the sons of men are ensnared at an evil time when it suddenly falls on them.
Cross References
Luke 21:34
"Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap.

Luke 21:35
For it will come on all those who live on the face of the whole earth.

Proverbs 7:23
till an arrow pierces his liver, like a bird darting into a snare, little knowing it will cost him his life.

Proverbs 29:6
Evildoers are snared by their own sin, but the righteous shout for joy and are glad.

Ecclesiastes 3:19
Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless.

Ecclesiastes 8:7
Since no one knows the future, who can tell someone else what is to come?

Ecclesiastes 9:13
I also saw under the sun this example of wisdom that greatly impressed me:

Isaiah 24:18
Whoever flees at the sound of terror will fall into a pit; whoever climbs out of the pit will be caught in a snare. The floodgates of the heavens are opened, the foundations of the earth shake.

Hosea 9:8
The prophet, along with my God, is the watchman over Ephraim, yet snares await him on all his paths, and hostility in the house of his God.
Treasury of Scripture

For man also knows not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falls suddenly on them.

man

Ecclesiastes 8:5-7,11 Whoever keeps the commandment shall feel no evil thing: and a wise …

Luke 19:42-44 Saying, If you had known, even you, at least in this your day…

2 Corinthians 6:2 (For he said, I have heard you in a time accepted, and in the day …

1 Peter 2:12 Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas …

as the fishes

Proverbs 7:22,23 He goes after her straightway, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or …

Habakkuk 1:14-17 And make men as the fishes of the sea, as the creeping things, that …

2 Timothy 2:26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, …

the sons

Job 18:8-10 For he is cast into a net by his own feet, and he walks on a snare…

Psalm 11:6 On the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible …

Psalm 73:18-20 Surely you did set them in slippery places: you cast them down into …

Proverbs 6:15 Therefore shall his calamity come suddenly; suddenly shall he be …

Proverbs 29:6 In the transgression of an evil man there is a snare: but the righteous …

Isaiah 30:13 Therefore this iniquity shall be to you as a breach ready to fall, …

Luke 12:20,39 But God said to him, You fool, this night your soul shall be required …

Luke 17:26-31 And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days …

Luke 21:34-36 And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged …

1 Thessalonians 5:3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction …

2 Peter 2:12 But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, …

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