Ecclesiastes 10:14
A fool also is full of words: a man cannot tell what shall be; and what shall be after him, who can tell him?
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(14) A man cannot tell.—This thought occurs repeatedly in this book. (See reff.) The connection here would be better seen if the clause were introduced with “and yet.” The fool’s courageous loquacity is contrasted with the cautious silence which experience of his ignorance has taught the wise man.

10:11-15 There is a practice in the East, of charming serpents by music. The babbler's tongue is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison; and contradiction only makes it the more violent. We must find the way to keep him gentle. But by rash, unprincipled, or slanderous talk, he brings open or secret vengeance upon himself. Would we duly consider our own ignorance as to future events, it would cut off many idle words which we foolishly multiply. Fools toil a great deal to no purpose. They do not understand the plainest things, such as the entrance into a great city. But it is the excellency of the way to the heavenly city, that it is a high-way, in which the simplest wayfaring men shall not err, Isa 25:8. But sinful folly makes men miss that only way to happiness.Full of words - Confident talking of the future is indicated rather than mere loquacity. Compare James 4:13. 14. full of words—(Ec 5:2).

a man cannot tell what shall be—(Ec 3:22; 6:12; 8:7; 11:2; Pr 27:1). If man, universally (including the wise man), cannot foresee the future, much less can the fool; his "many words" are therefore futile.

Full of words; either,

1. Talkative. Or,

2. Forward to promise and brag what he will do, which is the common practice of foolish men; he is a man of words, as we use to say. Who can tell him? these words contain either,

1. A inimical representation of his folly in using vain repetitions of the same words, such as those,

a man cannot tell, & c., and who can tell, &c. Or,

2. A confutation of folly in promising or boasting of things which are wholly out of his power; for what shall be no man can either himself foreknow, or learn it from others. A fool also is full of words,.... Or, "multiplies words" (y). Is very talkative, says the same thing over and over again; uses an abundance of waste words, that have no meaning in them; utters every thing that comes uppermost, without any order or judgment; affects to talk on every subject, whether he knows anything of it or not; and will engross all the conversation to himself, though of all in company the most unfit for it;

a man cannot tell what shall be; and what shall be after him who can tell him? what the fool is talking of; what is the drift of his discourse; or where it will end, and what he will bring it to, it is so noisy, confused, and incoherent: or no man can tell future things, or what will come to pass; nor can any man inform another of future events; and yet a fool boasts and brags of what he shall do, and what he shall have, as if he was master of the future, and knew for certain what would come to pass, which the wisest of men do not.

(y) "multiplicabit", Pagninus, Montanus; "multiplicat", Vatablus, Mercerus, Drusius, Amama, Gejerus, Rambachius, Cocceius.

A fool also is full of words: a man cannot tell what shall be; and what shall be after him, who can tell him?
14. A fool also is full of words] Literally, multiplies words. The introduction of “a man” is not an idle pleonasm. The “man” is not the “fool,” but the fool forgets the limitations of human knowledge, as to what lies in the near future of his own life, or the more distant future that follows on his death, and speaks as if it all lay before him as an open scroll. The point of the maxim is like that with which we have become familiar in the region of political prediction in the words “Don’t prophesy unless you know.” Boasting of this kind, as regards a man’s own future, finds its reproof, as in the wisdom of all ages, so especially in the teaching of Luke 12:16-20; James 4:13-16.Verse 14. - A fool also is full of words. The word for "fool" here is oaks/, which implies a dense, confused thinker. Alive the word was kesil, which denotes rather the self-confidence of the dull and stupid man. Moreover the fool multiplieth words. He not only speaks foolishly, but he says too much (cutup. Ecclesiastes 5:2). It is not mere loquacity that is here predicated of the fool, though that is one of his characteristics, but, as-the rest of the verse shows, the prating of things about which he knows nothing. He talks as though he knew everything and there were no limitation to human cognition. A man cannot tell what shall be. And yet, or although, no man can really predict the future. The fool speaks confidently of such things, and thereby proves his imbecility. Instead of "what shall be," the Septuagint has, Τί τὸ γενόμενον καὶ τί τὸ ἐσόμενον, "What has been and what shall be;" the Vulgate, Quid ante se fuerit, "What has been before him." This reading was introduced probably to obviate a seeming tautology in the following clause, And what shall be after him, who can tell? But this clause has a different signification from the former, and presents a closer definition. The future intended may be the result of the fool's inconsiderate language, which may have fatal and lasting consequences; or it may refer to the visitation of his sins upon his children, in accordance with the denunciation of Deuteronomy 5:9; Deuteronomy 29:20-22; or it may include the life beyond the grave. The uncertainty of the future is a constant theme; see Ecclesiastes 3:22; Ecclesiastes 6:11, 12; Ecclesiastes 7:14; Ecclesiastes 8:17; and compare Christ's parable of the rich fool (Luke 12:16-20), and St. James's warning in his Epistle (James 4:13-16). "He that diggeth a pit may fall into it; whoso breaketh down walls, a serpent may sting him. Whoso pulleth out stones may do himself hurt therewith; he who cleaveth wood may endanger himself thereby." The futures are not the expression of that which will necessarily take place, for, thus rendered, these four statements would be contrary to experience; they are the expression of a possibility. The fut. יפּול is not here meant as predicting an event, as where the clause 8a is a figure of self-punishment arising from the destruction prepared for others, Proverbs 26:27. Sir. 27:26. גּוּמּץ is, Proverbs 26:27, the Targum word for שׁחת, ditch, from גּמץ equals שׁוּח, depressum esse. גּדר (R. גד, to cut), something cutting off, something dividing, is a wall as a boundary and means of protection drawn round a garden, vineyard, or farm-court; גּדר פּרץ is the reverse of פּרץ גּדר, Isaiah 58:12. Serpents are accustomed to nestle in the crevices and holes of walls, as well as in the earth (from a city-wall is called חומה and חל); thus he who breaks into such a wall may expect that the serpent which is there will bite him (cf. Amos 5:19). To tear down stones, hissi'a, is synon. of hhatsav, to break stones, Isaiah 51:1; yet hhotsēv does not usually mean the stone-breaker, but the stone-cutter (stone-mason); hissi'a, from nasa', to tear out, does not also signify, 1 Kings 5:18, "to transport," and here, along with wood-splitting, is certainly to be thought of as a breaking loose or separating in the quarry or shaft. Ne'etsav signifies elsewhere to be afflicted; here, where the reference is not to the internal but the external feeling: to suffer pain, or reflex.: to injure oneself painfully; the derivat. 'etsev signifies also severe labour; but to find this signification in the Niph. ("he who has painful labour") is contrary to the usu loq., and contrary to the meaning intended here, where generally actual injuries are in view. Accordingly בּם יסּכן, for which the Mishn. יסכּן בּעצמו, "he brings himself into danger," would denote, to be placed in danger of life and limb, cf. Gittin 65b, Chullin 37a; and it is therefore not necessary, with Hitzig and others, to translate after the vulnerabitur of Jerome: "He may wound himself thereby;" there is not a denom. סכן, to cut, to wound, derived from סכּין (שׂכּין), an instrument for cutting, a knife.

(Note: The Midrash understands the whole ethically, and illustrates it by the example of Rabsake we know now that the half-Assyr., half-Accad. word rabsak means a military chief], whom report makes a brother of Manasseh, and a renegade in the Assyrian service.)

The sum of these four clauses is certainly not merely that he who undertakes a dangerous matter exposes himself to danger; the author means to say, in this series of proverbs which treat of the distinction between wisdom and folly, that the wise man is everywhere conscious of his danger, and guards against it. These two verses (Ecclesiastes 10:8, Ecclesiastes 10:9) come under this definite point of view by the following proverb; wisdom has just this value in providing against the manifold dangers and difficulties which every undertaking brings along with it.

(Note: Thus rightly Carl Lang in his Salom. Kunst im Psalter (Marburg 1874). He sees in Ecclesiastes 10:8-10 a beautiful heptastich. But as to its contents, Ecclesiastes 10:11 also belongs to this group.)

This is illustrated by a fifth example, and then it is declared with reference to all together.

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