Ecclesiastes 1:11
There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(11) If anything appears new, this is only because its previous occurrence has been forgotten. So likewise will those of this generation be forgotten by those who succeed them.

Ecclesiastes 1:11. There is no remembrance, &c. — This seems to be added, to prevent the objection, that there are many inventions and enjoyments unknown to former ages. To this he answers, This objection is grounded only upon our ignorance of ancient times, which, if we exactly knew or remembered, we should easily find parallels to all present occurrences. There are many thousands of remarkable speeches and actions done in this, and which will be done in the following ages, which neither are, nor ever will be, put into the public records or histories, and consequently must unavoidably be forgotten in succeeding ages; and therefore it is just and reasonable to believe the same concerning former ages. 1:9-11 Men's hearts and their corruptions are the same now as in former times; their desires, and pursuits, and complaints, still the same. This should take us from expecting happiness in the creature, and quicken us to seek eternal blessings. How many things and persons in Solomon's day were thought very great, yet there is no remembrance of them now!Things - Rather, men. 11. The reason why some things are thought "new," which are not really so, is the imperfect record that exists of preceding ages among their successors.

those that … come after—that is, those that live still later than the "things, rather the persons or generations, Ec 1:4, with which this verse is connected, the six intermediate verses being merely illustrations of Ec 1:4 [Weiss], that are to come" (Ec 2:16; 9:5).

There is no remembrance of former things: this seems to be added to prevent this objection, There are many new inventions and enjoyments unknown to former ages. To this he answers, This objection is grounded only upon our ignorance of ancient times and things, which is very great, and which if we did exactly know or remember, we should easily find parallels to all present occurrences in former ages. The latter clause tends both to illustrate and confirm the former. The sense is, There are many thousands of remarkable speeches and actions done in this and the following ages, which neither are, nor ever will be, put into the public records or histories, and consequently they must unavoidably be forgotten and lost unto succeeding ages; and therefore it is just and reasonable to believe the same concerning former ages, seeing the same causes are most likely to produce the same effects. There is no remembrance of former things,.... Which is the reason why some things that are really old are thought to be new; because either the memories of men fail them, they do not remember the customs and usages which were in the former part of their own lives, now grown old; or they are ignorant of what were in ages past, through want of history, or defect in it; either they have no history at all, or what they have is false; or if true, as there is very little that is so, it is very deficient; and, among the many things that have been, very few are transmitted to posterity, so that the memory of things is lost; therefore who can say with certainty of anything, this is new, and was never known in the world before? and the same for the future will be the case of present things; see Ecclesiastes 2:16;

neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after; this will be the case of things present and future, that they will be buried in oblivion, and lie unknown to posterity that shall come after the things that are done; and if any person or persons should rise up and do the same things, they may be called new, though they are in fact old, for want of knowing that they were before. The Targum is,

"there is no remembrance of former generations; and even of later ones, that shall be, there will be no remembrance of them, with the generations of them that shall be in the days of the King Messiah.''

R. Alshech interprets it of the resurrection of the dead.

There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
11. There is no remembrance of former things] Better, of former men, or of those of old time, and so in the next clause of those that shall come after. The thought of the oblivion of the past, suggested in the previous verse, as explaining the fact that some things seem new to us which are not so, is reproduced in another aspect as yet a new element in the pessimism into which the writer has fallen. Men dream of a fame that shall outlive them. How few of those that went before them do they remember even by name? How little do they know even of those whose names have survived amid the wreck that has engulfed others? What does it profit to be famous now, just known by name to the generation that follows, and then forgotten altogether? Comp. a striking passage to the same effect in Jeremy Taylor’s Contemplations of the State of Man, ch. 3, “The name of Echebar was thought by his subjects to be eternal, and that all the world did not only know but fear him; but ask here in Europe who he was, and no man hath heard of him; demand of the most learned, and few shall resolve you that he reigned in Magor,” and Marc. Aurel. Meditt. ii. 17, ἡ ὑστεροφημία, λήθη, “posthumous fame is but oblivion.” So ends the prologue of the book, sounding its terrible sentence of despair on life and all its interests. It is hardly possible to turn to the later work, which also purports to represent the Wisdom of Solomon, without feeling that its author deliberately aimed at setting forth another aspect of things. He reproduces well-nigh the very words of the prologue, “the breath of our nostrils is as smoke” … “our name shall be forgotten in time: our life shall pass away as the trace of a cloud” … but he puts all this into the mouth not of his ideal Solomon but of “ungodly men, … reasoning with themselves but not aright,” Wis 2:1-5, and shews how it leads first to sensuous self-indulgence, and then to deliberate oppression, and persistent antagonism to God. (See Introduction, chap. v.)Verse 11. - There is no remembrance of former things; rather, of former men - per-sons who lived in former times. As things are considered novel only because they had been forgotten, so we men ourselves shall pass away, and be no more remembered. Bailey, 'Festus '-

"Adversity, prosperity, the grave,
Play a round game with friends. On some the world
Hath shot its evil eye, and they are passel
From honor and remembrance; and stare
Is all the mention of their names receives;
And people know no more of them than they know
The shapes of clouds at midnight a year hence."
Neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after; rather, and even of later generations that shall be there will be no remembrance of them with those that shall be in the after-time. Wright quotes Marcus Aurelius, who has much to say on this subject. Thus: cap. 2:17, "Posthumous fame is oblivion;" cap. 3:10, "Every man's life lies all within the present; for the past is spent and done with, and the future is uncertain;" cap. 4:33, "Those words which were formerly current and proper are now become obsolete and barbarous. Alas l this is not all: fame tarnishes in time, too, and men grow out of fashion as well as language. Those celebrated names of ancient story am antiquated; those of later date have the same fortune; and those of present celebrity must follow. I speak this of those who have been the wonder of their age, and shined with unusual luster; but as for the rest, they are no sooner dead than forgotten" (comp. Wisd. 2:4). (On the keen desire to live in the memory of posterity, see Ecclus. 37:26 Ecclus. 44:7, etc.) "And the sun ariseth, the sun goeth down, and it hasteth (back) to its place, there to rise again." It rises and sets again, but its setting is not a coming to rest; for from its place of resting in the west it must rise again in the morning in the east, hastening to fulfil its course. Thus Hitzig rightly, for he takes "there to rise again" as a relative clause; the words may be thus translated, but strictly taken, both participles stand on the same level; שׁואף (panting, hastening) is like בּא in Ecclesiastes 1:4, the expression of the present, and זו that of the fut. instans: ibi (rursus) oriturus; the accentuation also treats the two partic. as co-ordinate, for Tiphcha separates more than Tebir; but it is inappropriate that it gives to ואל־ם the greater disjunctive Zakef Quaton (with Kadma going before). Ewald adopts this sequence of the accents, for he explains: the sun goes down, and that to its own place, viz., hastening back to it just by its going down, where, panting, it again ascends. But that the sun goes down to the place of its ascending, is a distorted thought. If "to its place" belongs to "goeth," then it can refer only to the place of the going down, as e.g., Benjamin el-Nahawendi (Neubauer, Aus der Petersb. Bibl. p. 108) explains: "and that to its place," viz., the place of the going down appointed for it by the Creator, with reference to Psalm 104:19, "the sun knoweth his going down." But the שׁם, which refers back to "its place," opposes this interpretation; and the phrase שׁו cannot mean "panting, rising," since שאף in itself does not signify to pant, but to snatch at, to long eagerly after anything, thus to strive, panting after it (cf. Job 7:2; Psalm 119:131), which accords with the words "to its place," but not with the act of rising. And how unnatural to think of the rising sun, which gives the impression of renewed youth, as panting! No, the panting is said of the sun that has set, which, during the night, and thus without rest by day and night, must turn itself back again to the east (Psalm 19:7), there anew to commence its daily course. Thus also Rashi, the lxx, Syr., Targ., Jerome, Venet., and Luther. Instead of שׁו, Grtz would read שׁב אף, redit (atque) etiam; but שׁו is as characteristic of the Preacher's manner of viewing the world as סובב וגו, Ecclesiastes 1:6, and ין, Ecclesiastes 1:8. Thus much regarding the sun. Many old interpreters, recently Grtz, and among translators certainly the lxx, refer also Ecclesiastes 1:6 to the sun. The Targ. paraphrases the whole verse of the state of the sun by day and night, and at the spring and autumn equinox, according to which Rashi translates הרוּח, la volont (du soleil). But along with the sun, the wind is also referred to as a third example of restless motion always renewing itself. The division of the verses is correct; Ecclesiastes 1:6 used of the sun would overload the figure, and the whole of Ecclesiastes 1:6 therefore refers to the wind.
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