Ecclesiastes 10:5
There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, as an error which proceeds from the ruler:
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(5) Error.—The word is the same as at Ecclesiastes 10:6.

Ecclesiastes 10:5-7. There is an evil, &c. — I have observed another great vanity and misdemeanour among men; as an error which proceedeth, &c. — Or rather, as the Hebrew may be translated, which is indeed an error proceeding from the ruler: for the following erroneous conduct must needs come from those who have power of conferring honour and authority. Folly is set in great dignity — Foolish and unworthy persons are frequently advanced by the favour or humour of princes into places of great trust and dignity, which is at once a great reproach to the prince, and a sore calamity to his people. And the rich sit in a low place — Wise and worthy men, rich in endowments of the mind, are neglected and despised, or removed from those places to which their merits had raised them. I have seen servants on horses — Men of a servile condition and disposition riding in pomp and state as princes; and princes — Men of noble birth and qualities, fit to rule a kingdom, walking as servants — In a state of poverty and degradation, despised and disregarded.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.

5. as—rather, "by reason of an error" [Maurer and Holden]. I have observed another great vanity and misdemeanour amongst men.

As an error which proceedeth from the ruler; so the sense is, like those errors which rulers commonly commit. Or rather, which is indeed an error proceeding from the ruler; for the following miscarriage must needs come from those who have power of conferring honour and power, &c. So the Hebrew caph is not a note of likeness, but of reality, as it is Judges 13:23 Nehemiah 7:2 Hosea 4:4 5:10, and oft elsewhere. There is an evil which I have seen under the sun,.... Which Solomon had observed in the course of his life, practised in some kingdoms and by some princes on earth, under the sun; for there is nothing of the like kind, as after mentioned, done in heaven, above the sun;

as an error which proceedeth from the ruler; from the supreme ruler of a nation, the king of it; and it is not only as an error, or like one, a seeming one; but it is a real error, bestowing places of honour and profit on undeserving persons: which error proceeds from ignorance of the persons; or from affection to them, and from friendship cultivated with them in the younger time of life, being educated with them; or through the misrepresentation and imposition of those about him, who have ends to serve by their promotion; or through his own lusts and passions, which these men indulge him in. It may be understood of God, the supreme ruler, who suffers such things to be; and which may seem to some an error in providence, though it is not: but the other sense is best.

There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, as an {d} error which proceedeth from the ruler:

(d) Meaning that it is an evil thing when they who are in authority fail and do not do their duty.

5. as an error which proceedeth from the ruler] The last word serves as a link connecting this verse with the preceding. It might be wise at times to bow to the temper of a despotic ruler, but the ruler was not always right. What the Debater had seen was to him a blot upon the government of him who allowed it. There lies below the surface the half-suppressed thought that this anomaly, stated in the next verse, was as a blot in the government of the supreme Ruler of the Universe. Technically the word was used in the Mosaic Law of the involuntary sins of ignorance (Leviticus 4:22; Leviticus 4:27; Leviticus 5:18). The unequal distribution of honours seemed to men as a blunder of Providence.Verse 5. - Koheleth gives his personal experience of apparent confusion in the ordering of state affairs. There is an evil which I have seen under the sun. Power gets into the hands of an unwise man, and then errors are committed and injustice reigns. As an error which proceedeth from the ruler. The כְּ here is cash veritatis, which denotes not comparison, but resemblance, the idealization of the individual, the harmony of the particular with the general idea. The evil which he noticed appeared to be (he does not affirm that it is) a mistake caused by the ruler; it so presented itself to his mind. The caution observed in the statement may be owing partly to the tacit feeling that such blots occasioned difficulties in the view taken of the moral government of the world. He does not intend to refer to God under the appellation "Ruler." The Septuagint renders, Ὡς ἀκούσιον ἐξῆλθεν, "As if it came involuntarily;" Vulgate, to much the same effect, Quasi per errorem egrediens. The idea here is either gnat the evil is one not produced by any intentional action of the ruler, but resulting from human imperfection, or that what appears to be a mistake is not so really. But these interpretations are unsuitable. Those who adhere to the Solomonic authorship of our book see here a prophetic intimation of the evil of Jeroboam's rule, which evil proceeded from the sins of Solomon himself and his son Rehoboam. (So Wordsworth, Motais, etc.) "The words of the wise, heard in quiet, have the superiority above the cry of a ruler among fools." Instead of tovim min, there stands here the simple min, prae, as at Ecclesiastes 5:1, to express the superiority of the one to the other. Hitzig finds in this proverb the meaning that, as that history has shown, the words of the wise, heard with tranquillity, gain the victory over the cry of a ruler over fools. But (1) the contrast of נחת and זעקת require us to attribute the tranquillity to the wise man himself, and not to his hearers; (2) מו בּךּ is not a ruler over fools, by which it would remain questionable whether he himself was not a fool (cf. Job 41:26), but a ruler among fools (cf. 2 Samuel 23:3, מו בּ, "a ruler among men;" and Proverbs 30:30, גּבּ בּ, "the hero among beasts"), i.e., one who among fools takes the place of chief. The words of the poor wise man pass by unheeded, they are not listened to, because he does not possess an imposing splendid outward appearance, in accordance with which the crowd estimate the value of a man's words; the wise man does not seek to gain esteem by means of a pompous violent deportment; his words נשׁ בּ are heard, let themselves be heard, are to be heard (cf. e.g., Sol 2:12) in quiet (Isaiah 30:15); for, trusting to their own inward power of conviction, and committing the result to God, he despises vociferous pomp, and the external force of earthly expedients (cf. Isaiah 42:2; Matthew 12:19); but the words of the wise, which are to be heard in unassuming, passionless quietness, are of more value than the vociferation with which a king among fools, an arch-fool, a non plus ultra among fools, trumpets forth his pretended wisdom and constrains his hearers.
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