Ecclesiastes 10:4
If the spirit of the ruler rise up against you, leave not your place; for yielding pacifies great offenses.
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(4) We return now to the thought of Ecclesiastes 8:3. For “spirit” in the sense of “anger,” see Judges 8:3.

Rise up.—Psalm 78:21; 2Samuel 11:20.

Yielding.—Literally, healing. (See Proverbs 15:4.)

Pacifieth great offences.—Rather, probably, quieteth great offences, that is to say, not so much “puts an end to the offence felt by the ruler,” as to the offences likely to be committed if he do not restrain himself.

Ecclesiastes 10:4. If the spirit of a ruler — His passion or wrath; rise up against thee — Upon some misinformation given him, or mismanagement of thine; leave not thy place — In anger or discontent. Withdraw not thyself rashly and hastily from his presence and service: see on Ecclesiastes 8:3. Continue in a diligent and faithful discharge of thy duty, as becomes a subject, and modestly and humbly submit to him. For yielding pacifieth, &c. — Hebrew יניח מרפא, healing maketh to cease great sins: that is, a submissive, meek deportment, which is of a healing nature, appeaseth wrath conceived for great offences.10:4-10 Solomon appears to caution men not to seek redress in a hasty manner, nor to yield to pride and revenge. Do not, in a passion, quit thy post of duty; wait awhile, and thou wilt find that yielding pacifies great offences. Men are not preferred according to their merit. And those are often most forward to offer help, who are least aware of the difficulties, or the consequences. The same remark is applied to the church, or the body of Christ, that all the members should have the same care one for another.If the spirit ... - i. e., If he is angry.

Leave not thy place - i. e., Do not lose thy self-control and quit his presence. Gentleness on thy part will calm both thyself and him, and prevent great wrongs being committed by either.

4. spirit—anger.

yielding pacifieth—(Pr 15:1). This explains "leave not thy place"; do not in a resisting spirit withdraw from thy post of duty (Ec 8:3).

The spirit; the passion or wrath, as is manifest from the following words, which is oft called spirit, as Judges 8:3 2 Chronicles 21:16 Proverbs 25:28 Ecclesiastes 7:9.

Leave not thy place, to wit, in anger or discontent. Withdraw not thyself rashly and hastily from his presence and service, according to the advice, Ecclesiastes 8:3. Continue in a diligent and faithful discharge of thy duty, as becomes a subject; do not return anger for anger, but modestly and humbly submit thyself to him.

Yielding, Heb. healing; a gentle and submissive carriage, which is of a healing nature; whereas pride and passion do exasperate and widen the breach already made. Pacifieth, Heb. maketh them to rest or cease; preventeth or removeth them.

Great offences, Heb. great sins; either,

1. Such sins as the offended ruler might commit in the prosecution of his wrath against thee. Or rather,

2. Such as possibly thou hast committed against him, for which he is incensed against thee; or the greatest offences or injuries that one man commits against another, and much more those slight miscarriages of thine towards the ruler. Let not therefore a false opinion concerning his unreconcilableness to thee make thee desperate, and draw thee into rebellion. If the spirit of the ruler rise up against thee,.... The wrath of the civil magistrate, the chief ruler of the land, the sovereign prince or king, to whom men are and should be subject: if his wrath on any occasion breaks out in a furious manner, and, like a storm and tempest, is very blustering and threatening:

leave not thy place; at court; thine office under the prince, do not throw it up in a passion, and quit his service upon it; and much less forget thy duty and allegiance to him, and go into disloyalty and rebellion; see Ecclesiastes 8:3;

for yielding pacifieth great offences; bearing his anger patiently, submitting to his displeasure quietly, making no returns, or at least giving soft answers, and behaving in a modest and humble manner; in time his wrath will subside, and he will be pacified, and forgive the offences committed; or be convinced that there were none, or however not so great as to require such resentment; see Proverbs 15:1. The Targum is,

"if a spirit of evil concupiscence rules over thee; thy good place, in which thou wert used to stand, leave not:''

some understand this of a man's having a spirit of rule and government coming upon him, or of his being advanced to power and authority, that then he should not forget the low estate in which he had been. Jarchi interprets it of the spirit of the governor of the world, strictly inquiring into the actions of men; and healing their sins by chastisements, which cause them to leave them.

If the {c} spirit of the ruler riseth against thee, leave not thy place; for yielding pacifieth great offences.

(c) If your superior is angry with you, be discrete and not moved.

4. If the spirit of the ruler rise up against thee] To the picture of the boastful self-assertion of the fool is appended as a contrast, that of the self-effacement of the wise. The scene brought before us is that of a statesman, or minister, whose advice runs counter to that of the ruler. The “spirit,” what we should call the “temper,” of the latter “rises up” against the former. What shall the adviser do? His natural impulse is to “leave his place,” i. e. either to cut short his interview, or, resign his office. He won’t be slighted, will not put up with contradiction. That, however, is precisely what the wise of heart will not do. Yielding, i. e. the temper of conciliation (the Hebrew noun is literally the healing, or the healthy, mood of mind) puts to rest, or puts a stop to, great offences. The history of all nations, our own included, presents manifold instances of both modes of action, sometimes, as in the case of Chatham’s behaviour to George III., in the same statesman at different times, sometimes in the attitude of rival statesmen towards the same sovereign. Interpreters after their manner, seeing either the golden or the silver side of the shields, have referred the last words either to the angry acts of the ruler, or to the sins of rebellion in the minister. It can scarcely be questioned, however, that the proverb includes both. The maxim has its parallel in our English proverb, “Least said is soonest mended.”Verses 4-7. - Section 12. Illustration of the conduct of wisdom under capricious rulers, or when fools are exalted to high stations. Verse 4. - If the spirit of the ruler rise up against thee. "Spirit" (ruach) is here equivalent to "anger," as Judges 8:3; Proverbs 29:11. The idea seems to be that a statesman or councilor gives wise advice to a monarch, which the latter takes in bad part, and shows strong resentment against the person who offered it. Now, when a man knows himself to be in the right, and yet finds his counsel rejected, perhaps with scorn and reproach added, he is naturally prone to feel sore, and to show by some overt act his sense of the ill treatment which he has received. But what says wisdom? Leave not thy place (makom); i.e. position, pest, office. Do not hastily resign the situation at court to which you have been appointed. Some, not so suitably, take the expression, "leave thy place," figuratively, as equivalent to "give way to anger, renounce the temper which becomes you, lose your self-possession." But Wright, from the analogous use of matstsale and maamad in Isaiah 22:19, confirms the interpretation which we have adopted. Compare the advice in Ecclesiastes 8:3, where, however, the idea is rather of open rebellion than of a resentment which shows itself by withdrawal. Origen ('De Princip.,' 3:2) explained "the spirit of the ruler" to be the evil spirit; and Gregory, commenting on this passage, writes ('Moral.,' 3:43), "As though he had said in plain words, 'If thou perceivest the spirit of the tempter to prevail against thee in aught, quit not the lowliness of penitence;' and that it was the abasement of penitence that he called 'our place,' he shows by the words that follow, 'for healing [Vulgate] pacifieth great offences.' For what else is the humility of mourning, save the remedy of sin?" (Oxford transl.). For yielding pacifieth great offenses. Marpe, "yielding," is rendered "healing" by the versions. Thus ἴαμα (Septuagint); euratio (Vulgate). But this translation is not so suitable as that of Symmachus, σωφροσύνη, "moderation." The word is used in the sense of" gentleness," "meekness," in Proverbs 14:30; Proverbs 15:4; and the gnome expresses the truth that a calm, conciliating spirit, not prone to take offence, but patient under trying circumstances, obviates great sins. The sins are those of the subject. This quiet resignation saves him from conspiracy, rebellion, treason, etc., into which his untempered resentment might hurry him. We may compare Proverbs 15:1 and Proverbs 25:15; and Horace, 'Cam.,' 3. 3, "Justum et tenacem propositi virum," etc.

"The man whose soul is firm and strong,
Bows not to any tyrant's frown,
And on the rabble's clamorous throng
In proud disdain looks coldly down."

(Stanley.) They who regard the "offenses" as those of the ruler explain them to mean oppression and injustice; but it seems plain from the run of the sentence that the minister, not the monarch, is primarily in the mind of the writer, though, of course, it is quite true that the submission of the former might save the ruler from the commission of some wrong. "And I:said: Better is wisdom than strength; but the wisdom of the poor is despised, and his words are not heard." With the words, "I saw," the author introduces his observations, and with "I said" his reflections. Wisdom is better than strength, since it does more for the wise man, and through him for others, than physical force, - more, as expressed in Ecclesiastes 7:19, than ten mighty men. But the respect which wisdom otherwise secures for a man, if it is the wisdom of a poor man, sinks into despect, to which his poverty exposes him, - if necessity arises, his service, as the above history shows, is valued; but as a rule his words are unheeded, for the crowd estimate the worth of him whom they willingly hear according to the outward respect in which he is held.

To the lessons gathered from experience, are now added instructive proverbs of kindred contents.

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