Ecclesiastes 10:6
Folly is set in great dignity, and the rich sit in low place.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
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.The "evil" of Ecclesiastes 10:5 is here specified as that caprice of a king by which an unworthy favorite of low origin is promoted to successive dignities, while a noble person is degraded or neglected. 6. rich—not in mere wealth, but in wisdom, as the antithesis to "folly" (for "foolish men") shows. So Hebrew, rich, equivalent to "liberal," in a good sense (Isa 32:5). Mordecai and Haman (Es 3:1, 2; 6:6-11). Folly is set in great dignity; foolish and unworthy persons are frequently advanced by the favour or humour of princes into places of highest trust and dignity, which is a great reproach and mischief to the prince, and a sore calamity to all his people. The rich; wise and worthy men, as is evident, because these are opposed to fools in the former clause; such as are rich in endowments of mind. The ground of the expression may be this, that rich men are capable of all the advantages of men or books for the attainment of wisdom, and therefore are supposed to be wise in some measure.

Sit in low place; neglected and despised, or removed from those high places to which their merits had raised them.

Folly is set in great dignity,.... Or "in great heights" (q); in high places of honour and truest; even foolish and wicked men; men of poor extraction, of low life, and of mean abilities and capacities; and, which is worse, men vile and vicious, as Doeg the Edomite, Haman the Amalekite, and others;

and the rich sit in low places; men not only of fortune and estates, and above doing mean and little actions, and so more fit for such high places; but men rich in wisdom and knowledge, of large capacities and of great endowments of mind, and so abundantly qualified for posts in the administration of government; and, above all, men rich in grace, fearing God, and hating coveteousness, as rulers ought to be, Exodus 18:21; and yet these sometimes are neglected, live in obscurity, who might otherwise be very useful in public life. The Targum interprets this and the following verse of the Israelites in exile and poverty among the Gentiles for their sins; so Jarchi.

(q) , Sept. "in celsitudinibus amplis", Piscator, Amama, Gejerus; "in sublimitatibus amplis", Cocceius; "in altitudinibus magnis", Rambachius; "in great height", Broughton.

Folly is set in great dignity, and the {e} rich sit in low place.

(e) They who are rich in wisdom and virtue.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
6. Folly is set in great dignity, and the rich sit in low place] For “great dignity,” literally great heights. The “rich” here are those who by birth and station are looked on as the natural rulers of mankind. Such men, like the ἀρχαιόπλουτοι (the “men of ancestral wealth”) of Greek political writers, (Aristot. Rhet. ii. 9; Aesch. Agam. 1043) a wise ruler associates with himself as counsellors. The tyrant, on the other hand, like Louis XI. exalts the baseborn to the place of honour, or like Edward II. or James I. of England, or Henry III. of France, lavishes dignities on his minions. So the writer may have seen Agathoclea and her brother; all-powerful, as mistress and favourite, in the court of Ptolemy Philopator (Justin xxx. 1).

Verse 6. - Folly is set in great dignity, and the rich sit in low place. This is an instance of the error intimated in the preceding verse. A tyrannical ruler exalts incompetent persons, unworthy favorites, to "great heights" (ἐν ὅψεσι μεγάλοις, Septuagint), as it is literally - puts them into eminent positions. "Folly" is abstract for concrete, "fools." And the rich sit in low place. "The rich" (ushirim) are not simply those who have wealth, however obtained, but men of noble birth; ἀρχαιόπλουτοι, as Plumptre appositely notes, persons of ancestral wealth, who from natural position might be looked upon as rulers of men. Such men would seek eminent stations, not from base motives of gain, but from an honorable ambition, and yet they are often slighted by unworthy princes and kept in low estate (comp. 1 Samuel 2:7, 8; Proverbs 19:10; Ecclus. 11:5, 6). The experience mentioned in this and the following verses could scarcely have been Solomon's, though it has been always common enough in the East, where the most startling changes have been made, the lowest persons have been suddenly raised to eminence, mistresses and favorites loaded with dignities, and oppression of the rich has been systematically pursued. Ecclesiastes 10:6"Folly is set on great heights, and the rich must sit in lowliness. I have seen servants upon horses, and princes like servants walking on foot." The word הסּכל (with double seghol, Aram. סכלוּ) is used here instead of those in whom it is personified. Elsewhere a multiplicity of things great, such as עמּים, מים, and the like, is heightened by רבּים (cf. e.g., Psalm 18:17); here "great heights" are such as are of a high, or the highest degree; rabbim, instead of harabbim, is more appos. than adject. (cf. Genesis 43:14; Psalm 68:28; Psalm 143:10; Jeremiah 2:21), in the sense of "many" (e.g., Ginsburg: "in many high positions") it mixes with the poetry of the description dull prose.

(Note: Luzz. reads נתן: "Folly brings many into high places." The order of the words, however, does not favour this.)

Ashirim also is peculiarly used: divites equals nobiles (cf. שׁוע, Isaiah 32:5), those to whom their family inheritance gives a claim to a high station, who possess the means of training themselves for high offices, which they regard as places of honour, not as sources of gain. Regibus multis, Grotius here remarks, quoting from Sallust and Tacitus, suspecti qui excellunt sive sapientia sive nobilitate aut opibus. Hence it appears that the relation of slaves and princes to each other is suggested; hoc discrimen, says Justin, 41:3, of the Parthians, inter servos liberosque est quod servi pedibus, liberi nonnisi equis incedunt; this distinction is set aside, princes must walk 'al-haarěts, i.e., beregel (beraglēhěm), and in their stead (Jeremiah 17:25) slaves sit high on horseback, and rule over them (the princes), - an offensive spectacle, Proverbs 19:10. The eunuch Bagoas, long all-powerful at the Persian Court, is an example of the evil consequences of this reversal of the natural relations of men.

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