Ecclesiastes 10:18
By much slothfulness the building decayeth; and through idleness of the hands the house droppeth through.
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(18) Droppethi.e., lets the rain drop through.

Ecclesiastes 10:18. By much slothfulness, &c., the house droppeth through — That house which is neglected by its owner, and not repaired, must needs come to ruin. Whereby he intimates that the sloth and carelessness of princes, in the management of public affairs, which is a usual attendant on that luxury of which he now spoke, is most destructive to themselves and to their people.

10:16-20 The happiness of a land depends on the character of its rulers. The people cannot be happy when their princes are childish, and lovers of pleasure. Slothfulness is of ill consequence both to private and public affairs. Money, of itself, will neither feed nor clothe, though it answers the occasions of this present life, as what is to be had, may generally be had for money. But the soul, as it is not redeemed, so it is not maintained with corruptible things, as silver and gold. God sees what men do, and hears what they say in secret; and, when he pleases, brings it to light by strange and unsuspected ways. If there be hazard in secret thoughts and whispers against earthly rulers, what must be the peril from every deed, word, or thought of rebellion against the King of kings, and Lord of lords! He seeth in secret. His ear is ever open. Sinner! curse not THIS KING in thy inmost thought. Your curses cannot affect Him; but his curse, coming down upon you, will sink you to the lowest hell.The "building" or "house" represents the state. Compare Isaiah 3:6; Amos 9:10.

Droppeth through - i. e., Lets the rain through the roof.

18. building—literally, "the joining of the rafters," namely, the kingdom (Ec 10:16; Isa 3:6; Am 9:11).

hands—(Ec 4:5; Pr 6:10).

droppeth—By neglecting to repair the roof in time, the rain gets through.

That house which is neglected by its owner, and not repaired, must needs come to ruin; whereby he intimates that the sloth and carelessness of princes in the management of public affairs, which is a usual attendant upon that luxury of which he hath now discoursed, is most destructive, both to themselves and to their people.

By much slothfulness the building decayeth,.... Or, "by slothfulnesses" (g), The word is in the dual number, and so may signify the slothfulness of the hands, as Aben Ezra, of both hands, and of both feet; or the various kinds of slothfulness, as the Arabic version, slothfulness both of body and mind; or of all sorts of persons, superiors and inferiors, princes and subjects; and with respect to all things present and future: and, as through slothfulness a material building decays; or a "beam", as the word signifies, the raftering of a house, the roof, which consists of rafters and beams joined together when the tiling is decayed by winds and rains, or any breaches made in the rafters, and no care taken to repair, the whole falls in, and the house is in ruins: so figurative buildings, families, churches, and kingdoms, come to nothing, through the sluggishness of masters of families, ministers of the word, and civil magistrates; to the latter of which more especially this is to be applied, who give up themselves to luxury and sloth;

and, through idleness of the hands, the house droppeth through; or, "through the letting" or "hanging down of the hands" (h); the remissness of them, as is to be observed in idle persons, who will not lift them up to work; particularly to repair a breach in a house, by means of which the rain drops through it, and makes it uncomfortable and unsafe being in it; and, in process of time, that itself drops to the ground: and this expresses the same thing, how, through the neglect of the civil magistrate, a commonwealth comes to nothing; or, however, the members of it become wretched and miserable.

(g) "in pigritiis", Montanus; "per duplicem pigritiam", Tigurine version; "pigritia amborum", Junius & Tremellius. (h) "per remissionem", Tigurine version; "demissione", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Gejerus; so Cocceius, Rambachius.

By much slothfulness the building decayeth; and through idleness of the hands the house droppeth through.
18. By much slothfulness the building decayeth] The maxim, though generalised in form, and applicable to every form of the evil which it condemns, may fairly be contemplated, in relation to its context, as having a political bearing. There, laissez-faire, the policy of indolent procrastination, may be as fatal to the good government and prosperity of a state as the most reckless profligacy. The figure is singularly apt. The fabric of a state, like that of the house (Amos 9:11), needs from time to time to be surveyed and repaired. “Time,” as Bacon has said, “alters all things” (houses of both kinds included) “for the worse.” “The timber framework of the house decays.” The decay may be hidden at first (this seems the point implied in the relation of the two parts of the proverb) but the latent cause soon shews itself in a very patent effect, “The house lets in the rain,” there is the “continual dropping,” the “drip, drip, drip,” which, to the householder seeking comfort, is the type of all extremest discomfort (Proverbs 19:13). Delitzsch quotes a curious Arab proverb that “there are three things that make a house intolerable, rain leaking through the roof, an ill-tempered wife, and the cimex lectularius.” So is it with the state. The timbers are the fundamental laws or principles by which its fabric is supported. Corruption or discord (the “beginning of strife” which is “as when one letteth out of water,” Proverbs 17:14) is the visible token that these are worm-eaten and decayed through long neglect.

Verse 18. - By much slothfulness the building decayeth. The subject is still the state. Under the image of a house which falls into ruin for lack of needful repairs, is signified the decay that surely overtakes a kingdom whose rulers are given up to indolence and debauchery, and neglect to attend to the affairs which require prompt care (comp. Amos 9:11). Such were they whom Amos (Amos 6:6) denounced, "That drink wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with the chief ointments; but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph." "Much slothfulness" is expressed in the original by a dual form, which gives an intensive signification. Ewald and Ginsburg take it as referring to the "two idle hands;" but the intensifications of the dual is not unprecedented (see Delitzsch, in loc.). The rest of this clause is more accurately rendered, the rafters sink, i.e. the timber framework, whether of roof or wall, gives way. This may possibly not be noticed at once, but it makes itself known unmistakably ere long. And through idleness of the hands the house droppeth through; rather, the house leaketh, the roof lets in the rain. Septuagint, Ἐν ἀρχία χειρῶν στάξει ἡ οἰκία, "Through laziness of hands the house will drip." The very imperfect construction of the fiat roofs of Eastern houses demanded continual attention. Such common and annoying occurrences as a leaky roof are mentioned in the Book of Proverbs (see 19:13; 27:15). Plautus, ' Mostell.,' 1:2.28 -

"Ventat imber, lavit parietes; perpluunt
Tigna; putrefacit aer operam fabri."

"The rain comes down, and washes all the walls,
The roof is leaky, and the weather rough
Loosens the architect's most skilful work."
Ecclesiastes 10:18Since, now, Ecclesiastes 10:19 has only to do with princes, the following proverb of the consequences of sloth receives a particular reference in the frame of this mirror for princes: "Through being idle the roof falleth; and through laziness of the hands the house leaketh." Ewald, Redslob, Olsh., Hitz., and Frst, as already Aben Ezra, understand the dual עצל of the two idle hands, but a similar attribut. adject.-dual is not found in Heb.; on the contrary, ephraim, merathaim Jeremiah 50:21, rish'athaim, and, in a certain measure, also riqmathaim, speak in favour of the intensification of the dual; 'atsaltaim is related to 'atslah, as Faulenzen being idle, living in idleness to Faulheit laziness, it means doubled, i.e., great, constant laziness (Gesen. H. Wrt., and Bttch. in the N. Aehrenl., under this passage). If 'atsaltaim were an attribut. designation of the hands, then shiphluth hadaim would be lowness, i.e., the hanging down of the hands languidly by the side; the former would agree better with the second than with the first passage. Regarding the difference between hammeqareh (the beams and joists of a house) and hamqareh (contignans), vid., note below.

(Note: המּקרה, with mem Dageshed (Masora: לית דגש); in Psalm 104:3, on the contrary, the mem has Raphe, for there it is particip. (Michlol 46a; Parchon's Lex. f. 3, Colossians 1).)

Since exceeding laziness leaves alone everything that could support the house, the beams fall (ימּך, Niph. מכך), and the house drops, i.e., lets the rain through (ידלף, with o, in spite of the intrans. signification); cf. the Arab. proverb of the three things which make a house insufferable, under Proverbs 19:13. Also the community, whom the king and the nobles represent, is a בּית, as e.g., Israel is called the house of Jacob. If the rulers neglect their duty, abusing their high position in obeying their own lusts, then the kingdom (state) becomes as a dilapidated house, affording no longer any protection, and at last a machshelah, a ruined building, Isaiah 3:6. It becomes so by slothfulness, and the prodigal love of pleasure associated therewith.

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