Ecclesiastes 9:5
Parallel Verses
New International Version
For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even their name is forgotten.

New Living Translation
The living at least know they will die, but the dead know nothing. They have no further reward, nor are they remembered.

English Standard Version
For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten.

New American Standard Bible
For the living know they will die; but the dead do not know anything, nor have they any longer a reward, for their memory is forgotten.

King James Bible
For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
For the living know that they will die, but the dead don't know anything. There is no longer a reward for them because the memory of them is forgotten.

International Standard Version
At least the living know they will die, but the dead know nothing; they no longer have a reward, since memory about them has been forgotten.

NET Bible
For the living know that they will die, but the dead do not know anything; they have no further reward--and even the memory of them disappears.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
The living know that they will die, but the dead don't know anything. There is no more reward for the dead when the memory of them has faded.

Jubilee Bible 2000
For the living know that they shall die, but the dead do not know any thing; neither do they have any more reward, for their memory is placed into oblivion.

King James 2000 Bible
For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.

American King James Version
For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.

American Standard Version
For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.

Douay-Rheims Bible
For the living know that they shall die, but the dead know nothing more, neither have they a reward any more: for the memory of them is forgotten.

Darby Bible Translation
For the living know that they shall die; but the dead know not anything, neither have they any more a reward, for the memory of them is forgotten.

English Revised Version
For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.

Webster's Bible Translation
For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.

World English Bible
For the living know that they will die, but the dead don't know anything, neither do they have any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.

Young's Literal Translation
For the living know that they die, and the dead know not anything, and there is no more to them a reward, for their remembrance hath been forgotten.
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

9:4-10 The most despicable living man's state, is preferable to that of the most noble who have died impenitent. Solomon exhorts the wise and pious to cheerful confidence in God, whatever their condition in life. The meanest morsel, coming from their Father's love, in answer to prayer, will have a peculiar relish. Not that we may set our hearts upon the delights of sense, but what God has given us we may use with wisdom. The joy here described, is the gladness of heart that springs from a sense of the Divine favour. This is the world of service, that to come is the world of recompence. All in their stations, may find some work to do. And above all, sinners have the salvation of their souls to seek after, believers have to prove their faith, adorn the gospel, glorify God, and serve their generation.

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 5. - For the living know that they shall die. This is added in confirmation of the statement in ver. 4. The living have at least the consciousness that they will soon have to die, and this leads them to work while it is day, to employ their faculties worthily, to make use of opportunities, to enjoy and profit by the present. They have a certain fixed event to which they must look forward; and they have not to stand idle, lamenting their fate, but their duty and their happiness is to accept the inevitable and make the best of it. But the dead know not anything. They are cut off from the active, bustling world; their work is done; they have nothing to expect, nothing to labor for. What passes upon earth affects them not; the knowledge of it reaches them no longer. Aristotle's idea was that the dead did know something, in a hazy and indistinct way, of what went on in the upper world, and were in some slight degree influenced thereby, but not to such a degree as to change happiness into misery, or vice versa ('Eth. Nicom.,' 1:10 and 11). Neither have they any more a reward; i.e. no fruit for labor done. There is no question here about future retribution in another world. The gloomy view of the writer at this moment precludes all idea of such an adjustment of anomalies after death. For the memory of them is forgotten. They have not even the poor reward of being remembered by loving posterity, which in the mind of an Oriental was an eminent blessing, to be much desired. There is a paronomasia in zeker, "memory," and sakar, "reward," which, as Plumptre suggests, may be approximately represented in English by the words "record" and "reward."

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

For the living know that they shall die,.... Death is certain, it is the demerit of sin, the appointment of God and the time of it is fixed; it may be known that it will be, from the word of God that assures it, from all experience which confirms it, and from the decline of nature, and the seeds of death in men. This "the living" know that live corporeally, even the wicked themselves, though they put the evil day far from them; and so good men, that live spiritually, being quickened by the Spirit and grace of God, and live a life of faith and holiness; they know they shall die, though Christ died for them, and has abolished death, as a punishment and a curse, and took away its sting, and made it a blessing; wherefore it is desirable to them, as being for their good: but there are some things about death they ordinarily know not; they do not know the time of their death; nor the place where they shall die; nor of what death they shall die; nor in what circumstances, both outward and inward: of these the Targum understands the passage;

"for the righteous know that if they sin, they shall be reckoned as dead men in the world to come, therefore they keep their ways, and sin not; but if they sin, they return by repentance;''

but the dead know not anything; this is not to be understood of their separate spirits, and of the things of the other world; for the righteous dead know much, their knowledge is greatly increased; they know, as they are known; they know much of God in Christ, of his perfections, purposes, covenant, grace, and love; they know much of Christ, of his person, offices, and glory, and see him as he is; they know much of the Gospel, and the mysteries of it; and of angels, and the spirits of just men, they now converse with; and of the glories and happiness of the heavenly state; even they know abundantly more than they did in this life: and the wicked dead, in their separate spirits, know there is a God that judgeth; that their souls are immortal; that there is a future state; indeed they know and feel the torments of hell, the worm that never dies, and the fire that is not quenched: but this is to be interpreted of their bodily senses now extinct, and of worldly things they have now nothing to do with; they know not any thing that is done in this world, nor how it fares with their children and friends they have left behind them; see Job 14:21; nor therefore are they to be prayed unto, and used as mediators with God. The Targum is,

"and sinners know not any good, so that they do not make their works good while they live; and they know not any good in the world to come;''

neither have they any more a reward; not but that there will be rewards in a future state, in which everyone shall have his own reward; there will be a reward for the righteous; they will receive the reward of the inheritance, though it will be, not of debt, but of grace; and particularly in the millennium state, Psalm 58:11; and every transgression of the wicked will receive a just recompence of reward; to whom the reward of their hands will be given them, Hebrews 2:2; but the sense is, that after death there will be no enjoyment of a man's labours; he will not have the use, profit, and advantage of them, but his heirs that succeed him, Ecclesiastes 4:9;

for the memory of them is forgotten; not the memory of the righteous with God, for whom a book of remembrance is written, and whose names are written in heaven; these are had in everlasting remembrance, and their memory blessed: but the memory of wicked men; who, though they take pains to perpetuate their names, which they give to their lands, yet the Lord causes their memory to cease, and they are forgotten in the place where they lived; not only among the righteous, as the Targum, but among others, Isaiah 26:14; even among those that enjoy the fruit of their labour; they will scarce think of them any more, or, however, in a little time they will be quite forgotten by them.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

5. know that they shall die—and may thereby be led "so to number their days, that they may apply their hearts to wisdom" (Ec 7:1-4; Ps 90:12).

dead know not anything—that is, so far as their bodily senses and worldly affairs are concerned (Job 14:21; Isa 63:16); also, they know no door of repentance open to them, such as is to all on earth.

neither … reward—no advantage from their worldly labors (Ec 2:18-22; 4:9).

memory—not of the righteous (Ps 112:6; Mal 3:16), but the wicked, who with all the pains to perpetuate their names (Ps 49:11) are soon "forgotten" (Ec 8:10).

Ecclesiastes 9:5 Additional Commentaries
Context
Death Comes to Good and Bad
4For whoever is joined with all the living, there is hope; surely a live dog is better than a dead lion. 5For the living know they will die; but the dead do not know anything, nor have they any longer a reward, for their memory is forgotten. 6Indeed their love, their hate and their zeal have already perished, and they will no longer have a share in all that is done under the sun.
Cross References
Job 14:21
If their children are honored, they do not know it; if their offspring are brought low, they do not see it.

Psalm 88:12
Are your wonders known in the place of darkness, or your righteous deeds in the land of oblivion?

Ecclesiastes 1:11
No one remembers the former generations, and even those yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow them.

Ecclesiastes 2:16
For the wise, like the fool, will not be long remembered; the days have already come when both have been forgotten. Like the fool, the wise too must die!

Ecclesiastes 8:10
Then too, I saw the wicked buried--those who used to come and go from the holy place and receive praise in the city where they did this. This too is meaningless.

Ecclesiastes 9:4
Anyone who is among the living has hope --even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!

Ecclesiastes 9:10
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.

Isaiah 26:14
They are now dead, they live no more; their spirits do not rise. You punished them and brought them to ruin; you wiped out all memory of them.
Treasury of Scripture

For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.

the living

Ecclesiastes 7:2 It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house …

Job 30:23 For I know that you will bring me to death, and to the house appointed …

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

the dead

Job 14:21 His sons come to honor, and he knows it not; and they are brought …

Psalm 6:5 For in death there is no remembrance of you: in the grave who shall …

Psalm 88:10,11 Will you show wonders to the dead? shall the dead arise and praise you? Selah…

Isaiah 63:16 Doubtless you are our father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and …

for the

Ecclesiastes 2:16 For there is no remembrance of the wise more than of the fool for ever…

Ecclesiastes 8:10 And so I saw the wicked buried, who had come and gone from the place …

Job 7:8-10 The eye of him that has seen me shall see me no more: your eyes are …

Psalm 109:15 Let them be before the LORD continually, that he may cut off the …

Isaiah 26:14 They are dead, they shall not live; they are deceased, they shall …

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