Ecclesiastes 9:14
Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
There was once a small city with only a few people in it. And a powerful king came against it, surrounded it and built huge siege works against it.

New Living Translation
There was a small town with only a few people, and a great king came with his army and besieged it.

English Standard Version
There was a little city with few men in it, and a great king came against it and besieged it, building great siegeworks against it.

New American Standard Bible
There was a small city with few men in it and a great king came to it, surrounded it and constructed large siegeworks against it.

King James Bible
There was a little city, and few men within it; and there came a great king against it, and besieged it, and built great bulwarks against it:

Holman Christian Standard Bible
There was a small city with few men in it. A great king came against it, surrounded it, and built large siege works against it.

International Standard Version
There was a little city with few men in it. A great king came against it, surrounded it, and built massive siege ramps against it.

NET Bible
There was once a small city with a few men in it, and a mighty king attacked it, besieging it and building strong siege works against it.

New Heart English Bible
There was a little city, and few men within it; and a great king came against it, besieged it, and built great siege works against it.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
There was a small town with a few soldiers in it, and a powerful king came to attack it. He surrounded it and blockaded it.

JPS Tanakh 1917
there was a little city, and few men within it; and there came a great king against it, and besieged it, and built great bulwarks against it;

New American Standard 1977
There was a small city with few men in it and a great king came to it, surrounded it, and constructed large siegeworks against it.

Jubilee Bible 2000
There was a little city and few men within it; and a great king came against it and besieged it and built great bulwarks against it;

King James 2000 Bible
There was a little city, and few men within it; and there came a great king against it, and besieged it, and built great bulwarks against it:

American King James Version
There was a little city, and few men within it; and there came a great king against it, and besieged it, and built great bulwarks against it:

American Standard Version
There was a little city, and few men within it; and there came a great king against it, and besieged it, and built great bulwarks against it.

Douay-Rheims Bible
A little city, and few men in it: there came against it a great king, and invested it, and built bulwarks round about it, and the siege was perfect.

Darby Bible Translation
There was a little city, and few men within it; and there came a great king against it, and encompassed it, and built great bulwarks against it:

English Revised Version
There was a little city, and few men within it; and there came a great king against it, and besieged it, and built great bulwarks against it:

Webster's Bible Translation
There was a little city, and few men within it; and there came a great king against it, and besieged it, and built great bulwarks against it:

World English Bible
There was a little city, and few men within it; and a great king came against it, besieged it, and built great bulwarks against it.

Young's Literal Translation
A little city, and few men in it, and a great king hath come unto it, and hath surrounded it, and hath built against it great bulwarks;
Study Bible
Wisdom Better than Strength
13Also this I came to see as wisdom under the sun, and it impressed me. 14There was a small city with few men in it and a great king came to it, surrounded it and constructed large siegeworks against it. 15But there was found in it a poor wise man and he delivered the city by his wisdom. Yet no one remembered that poor man.…
Cross References
Luke 19:43
For the days will come upon you when your enemies will barricade you and surround you and hem you in on every side.

Deuteronomy 20:20
"Only the trees which you know are not fruit trees you shall destroy and cut down, that you may construct siegeworks against the city that is making war with you until it falls.

2 Samuel 20:16
Then a wise woman called from the city, "Hear, hear! Please tell Joab, 'Come here that I may speak with you.'"

Ecclesiastes 9:13
Also this I came to see as wisdom under the sun, and it impressed me.
Treasury of Scripture

There was a little city, and few men within it; and there came a great king against it, and besieged it, and built great bulwarks against it:

there was

2 Samuel 20:15-22 And they came and besieged him in Abel of Bethmaachah, and they cast …

2 Kings 6:24-33 And it came to pass after this, that Benhadad king of Syria gathered …

2 Kings 7:1 Then Elisha said, Hear you the word of the LORD; Thus said the LORD…

(14) Idle attempts have been made to find a historic reference in this passage. What is here told is so like the story (2 Samuel 20) of the deliverance of Abel-beth-Maachah by a wise woman, whose name, nevertheless, has not been preserved, that we cannot even be sure that the writer had any other real history in his mind.

Verse 14. - There was a little city. The substantive verb is, as commonly, omitted. Commentators have amused themselves with endeavoring to identify the city here mentioned. Thus some see herein Athens, saved by the counsel of Themistocles, who was afterwards driven from Athens and died in misery (Justin., 2:12); or Dora, near Mount Carmel, besieged unsuccessfully by Antiochus the Great, B.C. 218, though we know nothing of the circumstances (Polyb., 5:66); but see note on ver. 13. The Septuagint takes the whole paragraph hypothetically, "Suppose there was a little city," etc. Wright well compares the historical allusions to events fresh in the minds of his hearers made by our Lord in his parable of the pounds (Luke 19:12, 14, 15, 27). So we may regard the present section as a parable founded on some historical fact well known at the time when the book was written. A great king. The term points to some Persian or Assyrian potentate; or it may mean merely a powerful general (see 1 Kings 11:24; Job 29:25). Built great bulwarks against it. The Septuagint has χάρακας μεγάλους, "great palisades;" the Vulgate, Extruxitque munitiones per gyrum. What are meant are embankments or mounds raised high enough to overtop the walls of the town, and to command the positions of the besieged. For the same purpose wooden towers were also used (see Deuteronomy 20:20; 2 Samuel 20:15; 2 Kings 19:32; Jeremiah lit. 4). The Vulgate rounds off the account in the text by adding, et perfects est obsidio, " and the beleaguering was completed." There was a little city, and few men within it,.... Which some take to be a piece of history, a real matter of fact; that as the city of Abel, when besieged by Joab, was delivered by the counsel of a wise woman, 2 Samuel 20:15; so there was a city, which Solomon had knowledge of, which was delivered from the siege of a powerful king, by the wise counsel of a poor wise man: though others think it is only a fiction, fable, or parable; the moral of which is, that political wisdom, even in a poor mean person, is sometimes very useful and serviceable, though it does not meet with its proper merit. Many of the Jewish writers understand the whole allegorically and figuratively; so the Targum, by "the little city", understands the body of man; by "few men in it", the little righteousness there is in the heart of man; though, according to the Midrash, Jarchi, and Alshech, they are the members of the body; by "the great king", the evil imagination, or corruption of nature, which is great to oppress, and besieges the heart to cause it to err; and by "the poor wise man", the good imagination or affection, which prevails over the other, and subdues it, and delivers the body from hell, and yet not remembered; and so the Midrash, and the ancient Jews in Aben Ezra, though he himself understands it according to its literal sense. Some Christian interpreters explain it to better purpose, concerning the church attacked by Satan, and delivered by Christ, who, notwithstanding, is unkindly and ungratefully used: the church is often compared to a city, it is the city of God, and of which saints are fellow citizens; it is but a "little" one in comparison of the world, and, in some periods and ages of the world, lesser than in others; it is little and contemptible in the eyes of the world, and the inhabitants of it are mean and low in their own eyes; they are a little flock, Luke 12:32; and "few" in number that are "within it": some are only of it, but not in it, or are external members only, which sometimes are many; or outward, not inward, court worshippers; they are few, comparatively, that belong to the invisible church, that are chosen, redeemed, called, and saved, Matthew 20:16; there are but few able men, especially such as are capable of defending the church against its enemies.

and there came a great king against it; Satan, the prince of devils and of the posse of them in the air, the god and prince of the world of the ungodly, who works in their hearts, and leads them captive at his will who may be said to be "great" with respect to the numbers under him, legions of devils, and the whole world that lies in wickedness, or "in" or "under" the wicked one: and on account of the power he exercises, by divine permission, over the bodies and minds of men; and in comparison of the little city, and few men in it, being stronger than they, Matthew 12:24; he comes from the region of the air, where his posse are; or from going to and fro in the earth; or from hell, into which he is cast down: he comes by divine permission; in the manner evil spirits do, by temptation; in a hostile way, against the church and people of God, to destroy and devour them, if possible;

and besieged it; surrounded it on all sides, as the Gog and Magog army trader him will encompass the camp of the saints, and the beloved city, Revelation 20:9;

and built great bulwarks against it; such as are called strong holds, 2 Corinthians 10:4. Satan's first attack was upon the elect of God, in Adam; when he brought them, through sin, under a sentence of condemnation and death, though then they were preserved in Christ; and ever since he has been attacking the church by persecution, in order to take it by storm; and by spreading errors and heresies, such as tend to raze the foundation, and to pull down the superstructure of grace; and by promoting schisms, and laying such large principles of church communion, as tend to take away ordinances and discipline, the fence of the city; and by throwing in hand grenades of strife and contention, to raise a civil war among the citizens themselves; and, by various temptations to sin, to gain deserters: these are some of his bulwarks, batteries, and engines. 14, 15. (2Sa 20:16-22).

bulwarks—military works of besiegers.9:13-18 A man may, by his wisdom, bring to pass that which he could never do by his strength. If God be for us, who can be against us, or stand before us? Solomon observes the power of wisdom, though it may labour under outward disadvantages. How forcible are right words! But wise and good men must often content themselves with the satisfaction of having done good, or, at least, endeavoured to do it, when they cannot do the good they would, nor have the praise they should. How many of the good gifts, both of nature and Providence, does one sinner destroy and make waste! He who destroys his own soul destroys much good. One sinner may draw many into his destroying ways. See who are the friends and enemies of a kingdom or a family, if one saint does much good, and one sinner destroys much good.
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OT Poetry: Ecclesiastes 9:14 There was a little city and few (Ecclesiast. Ec Ecc Eccles.) Christian Bible Study Resources, Dictionary, Concordance and Search Tools
Ecclesiastes 9:13
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