Ecclesiastes 12:1
Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw near, when you shall say, I have no pleasure in them;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
XII.

(1) Creator.—This occurs as a Divine name in Isaiah 40:23; Isaiah 44:15. and elsewhere. Here it is in the plural, like the Divine name Elohim. (See also Note on Ecclesiastes 12:8.) We have “thy Maker” in the plural in Job 35:10; Psalm 149:2; Isaiah 54:5; and “Holy One” in Proverbs 9:10; Proverbs 30:3; Hosea 11:12.

Ecclesiastes

A NEW YEARS SERMON TO THE YOUNG

THE CONCLUSION OF THE MATTER

Ecclesiastes 12:1 - Ecclesiastes 12:7
, Ecclesiastes 12:13 - Ecclesiastes 12:14.

The Preacher has passed in review ‘all the works that are done under the sun,’ and has now reached the end of his long investigation. It has been a devious path. He has announced many provisional conclusions, which are not intended for ultimate truths, but rather represent the progress of the soul towards the final, sufficient ground and object of belief and aim of all life, even God Himself. ‘Vanity of vanities’ is a cheerless creed and a half-truth. Its completion lies in being driven, by recognising vanity as stamped on all creatures, to clasp the one reality. ‘All is vanity’ apart from God, but He is fullness, and possessed and enjoyed and endured in Him, life is not ‘a striving after wind.’ Leave out this last section, and this book of so-called ‘Wisdom’ is one-sided and therefore error, as is modern pessimism, which only says more feebly what the Preacher had said long ago. Take the rest of the book as the autobiography of a seeker after reality, and this last section as his declaration of where he had found it, and all the previous parts fall into their right places.

Our passage omits the first portion of the closing section, which is needed in order to set the counsel to remember the Creator in its right relation. Observe that, properly rendered, the advice in Ecclesiastes 12:1 is ‘remember also,’ and that takes us back to the end of the preceding chapter. There the young are exhorted to enjoy the bright, brief blossom-time of their youth, withal keeping the consciousness of responsibility for its employment. In earlier parts of the book similar advice had been given, but based on different grounds. Here religion and full enjoyment of youthful buoyancy and delight in fresh, unhackneyed, homely pleasures are proclaimed to be perfectly compatible. The Preacher had no idea that a devout young man or woman was to avoid pleasures natural to their age. Only he wished their joy to be pure, and the stern law that ‘whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap’ to be kept in mind. Subject to that limitation, or rather that guiding principle, it is not only allowable, but commanded, to ‘put away sorrow and evil.’ Young people are often liable to despondent moods, which come over them like morning mists, and these have to be fought against. The duty of joy is the more imperative on the young because youth flies so fast, or, as the Preacher says,’ is vanity.’

Now these advices sound very like the base incitements to sensual and unworthy delight which poets of the meaner sort, and some, alas! of the nobler in their meaner moments, have presented. But this writer is no teacher of ‘Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,’ and wicked trash of that sort. Therefore he brings side by side with these advices the other of our passage. That ‘also’ saves the former from being misused, just as the thought of judgment did.

That possible combination of hearty, youthful glee and true religion is the all-important lesson of this passage. The word for Creator is in the plural number, according to the Hebrew idiom, which thereby expresses supremacy or excellence. The name of ‘Creator’ carries us back to Genesis, and suggests one great reason for the injunction. It is folly to forget Him on whom we depend for being; it is ingratitude to forget, in the midst of the enjoyments of our bright, early days, Him to whom we owe them all. The advice is specially needed; for youth has so much, that is delightful in its novelty, to think about, and the world, on both its innocent and its sinful side, appeals to it so strongly, that the Creator is only too apt to be crowded out of view by His works. The temptation of the young is to live in the present. Reflection belongs to older heads; spontaneous action is more characteristic of youth. Therefore, they specially need to make efforts to bring clearly to their thoughts both the unseen future and Him who is invisible. The advice is specially suitable for them; for what is begun early is likely to last and be strong.

It is hard for older men, stiffened into habits, and with less power and love of taking to new courses, to turn to God, if they have forgotten Him in early days. Conversion is possible at any age, but it is less likely as life goes on. The most of men who are Christians have become so in the formative period between boyhood and thirty. After that age, the probabilities of radical change diminish rapidly. So, ‘Remember . . . in the days of thy youth,’ or the likelihood is that you will never remember. To say, ‘I mean to have my fling, and I shall turn over a new leaf when I am older,’ is to run dreadful risk. Perhaps you will never be older. Probably, if you are, you will not want to turn the leaf. If you do, what a shame it is to plan to give God only the dregs of life! You need Him, quite as much, if not more, now in the flush of youth as in old age. Why should you rob yourself of years of blessing, and lay up bitter memories of wasted and polluted moments? If ever you turn to God in your older days, nothing will be so painful as the remembrance that you forgot Him so long.

The advice is further important, because it presents the only means of delivering life from the ‘vanity’ which the Preacher found in it all. Therefore he sets it at the close of his meditations. This is the practical outcome of them all. Forget God, and life is a desert. Remember Him, and ‘the desert will rejoice and blossom as the rose.’

The verses from the middle of Ecclesiastes 12:1 - Ecclesiastes 12:7 enforce the exhortation by the consideration of what will certainly follow youth, and advise remembrance of the Creator before that future comes. So much is clear, but the question of the precise meaning of these verses is much too large for discussion here. The older explanation takes them for an allegory representing the decay of bodily and mental powers in old age, whilst others think that in them the advance of death is presented under the image of an approaching storm. Wright, in his valuable commentary, regards the description of the gradual waning away of life in old age, in the first verses, as being set forth under images drawn from the closing days of the Palestinian winter, which are dreaded as peculiarly unhealthy, while Ecclesiastes 12:4 - Ecclesiastes 12:5 present the advent of spring, and contrast the new life in animals and plants with the feebleness of the man dying in his chamber and unable to eat. Still another explanation is that the whole is part of a dirge, to be taken literally, and describing the mourners in house and garden. I venture, though with some hesitation, to prefer, on the whole, the old allegorical theory, for reasons which it would be impossible to condense here. It is by no means free from difficulty, but is, as I think, less difficult than any of its rivals.

Interpreters who adopt it differ somewhat in the explanation of particular details, but, on the whole, one can see in most of the similes sufficient correspondence for a poet, however foreign to modern taste such a long-drawn and minute allegory may be. ‘The keepers of the house’ are naturally the arms; the ‘strong men,’ the legs; the ‘grinding women,’ the teeth; the ‘women who look out at the windows,’ the eyes; ‘the doors shut towards the street,’ either the lips or, more probably, the ears. ‘The sound of the grinding,’ which is ‘low,’ is by some taken to mean the feeble mastication of toothless gums, in which case the ‘doors’ are the lips, and the figure of the mill is continued. ‘Arising at the voice of the bird’ may describe the light sleep or insomnia of old age; but, according to some, with an alteration of rendering {‘The voice riseth into a sparrow’s’}, it is the ‘childish treble’ of Shakespeare. The former is the more probable rendering and reference. The allegory is dropped in Ecclesiastes 12:5, which describes the timid walk of the old, but is resumed in ‘the almond trees shall flourish’; that is, the hair is blanched, as the almond blossom, which is at first delicate pink, but fades into white. The next clause has an appropriate meaning in the common translation, as vividly expressing the loss of strength, but it is doubtful whether the verb here used ever means ‘to be a burden.’ The other explanations of the clause are all strained. The next clause is best taken, as in the Revised Version, as describing the failure of appetite, which the stimulating caper-berry is unable to rouse. All this slow decay is accounted for, ‘because the man is going to his long home,’ and already the poet sees the mourners gathering for the funeral procession.

The connection of the long-drawn-out picture of senile decay with the advice to remember the Creator needs no elucidation. That period of failing powers is no time to begin remembering God. How dreary, too, it will be, if God is not the ‘strength of the heart,’ when ‘heart and flesh fail’! Therefore it is plain common sense, in view of the future, not to put off to old age what will bless youth, and keep the advent of old age from being wretched.

Ecclesiastes 12:6 - Ecclesiastes 12:7 still more stringently enforce the precept by pointing, not to the slow approach, but to the actual arrival of death. If a future of possible weakness and gradual creeping in on us of death is reason for the exhortation, much more is the certainty that the crash of dissolution will come. The allegory is partially resumed in these verses. The ‘golden bowl’ is possibly the head, and, according to some, the ‘silver cord’ is the spinal marrow, while others think rather of the bowl or lamp as meaning the body, and the cord the soul which, as it were, holds it up. The ‘pitcher’ is the heart, and the ‘wheel’ the organs of respiration. Be this as it may, the general thought is that death comes, shivering the precious reservoir of light, and putting an end to drawing of life from the Fountain of bodily life. Surely these are weighty reasons for the Preacher’s advice. Surely it is well for young hearts sometimes to remember the end, and to ask, ‘What will ye do in the end?’ and to do before the end what is so hard to begin doing at the end, and so needful to have done if the end is not to be worse than ‘vanity.’

The collapse of the body is not the end of the man, else the whole force of the argument in the preceding verses would disappear. If death is annihilation, what reason is there for seeking God before it comes? Therefore Ecclesiastes 12:7 is no interpolation to bring a sceptical book into harmony with orthodox Jewish belief, as some commentators affirm. The ‘contradiction’ between it and Ecclesiastes 3:21 is alleged as proof of its having been thus added. But there is no contradiction. The former passage is interrogative, and, like all the earlier part of the book, sets forth, not the Preacher’s ultimate convictions, but a phase through which he passed on his way to these. It is because man is twofold, and at death the spirit returns to its divine Giver, that the exhortation of Ecclesiastes 12:1 is pressed home with such earnestness.

The closing verses are confidently asserted to be, like Ecclesiastes 12:7, additions in the interests of Jewish ‘orthodoxy.’ But Ecclesiastes is made out to be a ‘sceptical book’ by expelling these from the text, and then the character thus established is taken to prove that they are not genuine. It is a remarkably easy but not very logical process.

‘The end of the matter’ when all is heard, is, to ‘fear God and keep His commandments.’ The inward feeling of reverent awe which does not exclude love, and the outward life of conformity to His will, is ‘the whole duty of man,’ or ‘the duty of every man.’ And that plain summary of all that men need to know for practical guidance is enforced by the consideration of future judgment, which, by its universal sweep and all-revealing light, must mean the judgment in another life.

Happy they who, through devious mazes of thought and act, have wandered seeking for the vision of any good, and having found all to be vanity, have been led at last to rest, like the dove in the ark, in the broad simplicity of the truth that all which any man needs for blessedness in the buoyancy of fresh youthful strength and in the feebleness of decaying age, in the stress of life, in the darkness of death, and in the day of judgment, is to ‘fear God and keep His commandments’!Ecclesiastes 12:1. Remember — Namely, practically, so as to fear, love, and faithfully serve him, which, when men do not, they are said to forget him: thy Creator — The first author and continual preserver of thy life and being, and of all the endowments and enjoyments which accompany it; to whom thou art under the highest and strongest obligations; and upon whom thou art constantly and necessarily dependant, and therefore to forget him is most unnatural and disingenuous. Now in the days of thy youth — For now thou art most able to do it; and it will be most acceptable to God, and most comfortable to thyself, as being the best evidence of thy sincerity, and the best provision for old age and death. While the evil days come not — The time of old age, which is evil; that is, burdensome and calamitous in itself, and far more grievous when it is loaded with the sad remembrance of youthful follies, and with the dreadful prospect of approaching death and judgment. When thou shalt say, I have no pleasure — My life is now bitter and burdensome to me: which is frequently the condition of old age.12:1-7 We should remember our sins against our Creator, repent, and seek forgiveness. We should remember our duties, and set about them, looking to him for grace and strength. This should be done early, while the body is strong, and the spirits active. When a man has the pain of reviewing a misspent life, his not having given up sin and worldly vanities till he is forced to say, I have no pleasure in them, renders his sincerity very questionable. Then follows a figurative description of old age and its infirmities, which has some difficulties; but the meaning is plain, to show how uncomfortable, generally, the days of old age are. As the four verses, 2-5, are a figurative description of the infirmities that usually accompany old age, ver. 6 notices the circumstances which take place in the hour of death. If sin had not entered into the world, these infirmities would not have been known. Surely then the aged should reflect on the evil of sin.Remember now - Rather, And remember. The connection between this verse and the preceding one is unfortunately interrupted by our division of chapters.

Creator - Gratitude to God as Creator is here inculcated, as just previously Ecclesiastes 11:9 fear of God as Judge. Godliness, acquired as a habit in youth, is recommended as the proper compensation for that natural cessation of youthful happiness which makes the days of old age more or less evil; more evil in proportion since there is less of godliness in the heart, and less evil where there is more godliness.

While the evil days come not - Rather, before the evil days come.

CHAPTER 12

Ec 12:1-14.

1. As Ec 11:9, 10 showed what youths are to shun, so this verse shows what they are to follow.

Creator—"Remember" that thou art not thine own, but God's property; for He has created thee (Ps 100:3). Therefore serve Him with thy "all" (Mr 12:30), and with thy best days, not with the dregs of them (Pr 8:17; 22:6; Jer 3:4; La 3:27). The Hebrew is "Creators," plural, implying the plurality of persons, as in Ge 1:26; so Hebrew, "Makers" (Isa 54:5).

while … not—that is, before that (Pr 8:26) the evil days come; namely, calamity and old age, when one can no longer serve God, as in youth (Ec 11:2, 8).

no pleasure—of a sensual kind (2Sa 19:35; Ps 90:10). Pleasure in God continues to the godly old (Isa 46:4).Early piety recommended before old age come on and death be near: old age described, and death, Ecclesiastes 12:1-7. The conclusion: all is vanity, Ecclesiastes 12:8. The preacher’s end in this book, Ecclesiastes 12:9-12. The sum of all learning, experience, and happiness is to fear God, and keep his commandments, because God will bring all to judgment, Ecclesiastes 12:13,14.

Remember, to wit, practically, or so as to fear, and love, and faithfully serve and worship him, which when men do not they are said to forget God, Psalm 9:17 106:21, and in many other places.

Thy Creator; the first author and continual preserver of thy life and being, and of all the perfections and enjoyments which accompany it, to whom thou hast the highest and strongest obligations to do so, and upon whom thou hast a constant and necessary dependence, and therefore to forget him is most unnatural, and inhuman, and disingenuous.

In the days of thy youth; for then thou art most able to do it, and thou owest the best of thy time and strength to God; then thou hast opportunity to do it, and thou mayst not live to old age; then it will be most acceptable to God, and most comfortable to thyself, as the best evidence of thy sincerity, and the best provision for old age and death; and then it is most necessary for the conquering those impetuous lusts and passions which drown so many thousands of young men in perdition, both in this life and in that to come.

The evil days; the time of old age, which is evil, i.e. burdensome and calamitous in itself, and far more grievous and terrible when it is loaded with the sad remembrance of a man’s youthful follies and lusts, and with the dreadful prospect of approaching death and judgment, which makes him see that he cannot live, and yet dare not die, and with the consideration and experience of the hardness of his heart, which in that age is rarely brought to true repentance, and so generally expires either in vain presumption, or in hellish desperation.

I have no pleasure in them; my life is now bitter and burdensome to me, and worse than death; which is frequently the condition of old age.

Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth,.... Or "Creators" (b); as "Makers", Job 35:10; for more than one were concerned, as in the creation of all things in general, so of man in particular, Genesis 1:26; and these are neither more nor fewer than three; and are Father, Son, Spirit; the one God that has created men, Malachi 2:10; the Father, who is the God of all flesh, and the Father of spirits; the former both of the bodies and souls of men, Jeremiah 31:27; the Son, by whom all things are created; for he that is the Redeemer and husband of his church, which are characters and relations peculiar to the Son, is the Creator, Isaiah 43:1; and the Holy Spirit not only garnished the heavens, and moved upon the face of the waters, but is the Maker of men, and gives them life, Job 33:4. Now this God, Creator, should be "remembered" by young men; they should remember there is a God, which they are apt to be forgetful of; that this God is a God of great and glorious perfections, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, holy, just, and true; who judgeth in the earth, and will judge the world in righteousness, and them also; and that he is in Christ a God gracious, merciful, and pardoning iniquity, transgression, and sin: they should remember him under this character, as a "Creator", who has made them, and not they themselves; that they are made by him out of the dust of the earth, and must return to it; that he has brought them into being, and preserved them in it, and favoured them with the blessings of his providence, which are all from him that has made them: and they should remember the end for which they are made, to glorify him; and in what state man was originally made, upright, pure, and holy; but that he now is a fallen creature, and such are they, impure and unrighteous, impotent and weak, abominable in the sight of God, unworthy to live, and unfit to die; being transgressors of the laws of their Creator, which is deserving of death: they should remember what God their Creators, Father, Son, and Spirit, must have done or must do for them, if ever they are saved; the Father must have chosen them in Christ unto salvation; must have given his Son to redeem, and must send his Spirit into their hearts to create them anew; the Son must have been surety for them, assumed their nature, and died in their room and stead; and the Spirit must regenerate and make them new creatures, enlighten their minds, quicken their souls, and sanctify their hearts: they should remember the right their Creator has over them, the obligations they are under to him, and their duty to him; they should remember, with thankfulness, the favours they have received from him, and, with reverence and humility, the distance between him, as Creator, and them as creatures: they should remember to love him cordially and sincerely; to fear him with a godly fear; to worship him in a spiritual manner; to set him always before them, and never forget him. And all this they should do "in the days their youth"; which are their best and choicest day in which to serve him is most desirable by him, acceptable to him; who ordered the first of the ripe fruits and creatures of the first year to be offered to him: and then are men best able to serve him, when their bodies are healthful, strong, and vigorous; their senses quick, and the powers and faculties of their souls capable of being improved and enlarged: and to delay the service of him to old age, as it would be very ungrateful and exceeding improper, so no man can be sure of arriving to it; and if he should, yet what follows is enough to determine against such a delay;

while the evil days come not; meaning the days of old age; said to be evil, not with respect to the evil of fault or sin; so all days are evil, or sin is committed in every age, in infancy, in childhood, in youth, in manhood, as well as in old age: but with respect to the evil of affliction and trouble which attend it, as various diseases; yea, that itself is a disease, and an incurable one; much weakness of body, decay of intellects, and many other things, which render life very troublesome and uncomfortable (c), as well as unfit for religious services;

nor the years draw nigh, when thou shall say, I have no pleasure in them; that is, corporeal pleasure; no sensual pleasure; sight, taste, and hearing, being lost, or in a great measure gone; which was Barzillai's case, at eighty years of age: though some ancient persons have their senses quick and vigorous, and scarce perceive any difference between youth and age; but such instances are not common: and there are also some things that ancient persons take pleasure in, as in fields and gardens, and the culture of them, as Cicero (d) observes; and particularly learned men take as much delight in their studies in old age as in youth, and in instructing others; and, as the same writer (e) says,

"what is more pleasant than to see an old man, attended and encircled with youth, at their studies under him?''

and especially a good man, in old age, has pleasure in reflecting on a life spent in the ways, work, and worship of God; and in having had, through the grace of God, his conversation in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity; as also in present communion with God, and in the hopes and views of the glories of another world: but if not religious persons, they are strangers to spiritual pleasure, which only is to be had in wisdom's ways; such can neither look back with pleasure on a life spent in sin; nor forward with pleasure, at death and eternity, and into another world; see 2 Samuel 19:35.

(b) "Creatorum tuorum", Drusius, Gejerus, Rambachius; so Broughton. (c) Plautus in Aulular. Acts 1. Sc. 1. v. 4. Menaechm. Acts 5. Sc. 2. v. 6. calls old age, "mala aetas"; and the winter of old age, Trinummus, Acts 2. Sc. 3. v. 7. And Pindar, , Pyth. Ode 10. so Theognis, v. 272, 776, 1006. And Homer, Iliad. 10. v. 79. &. 23. v. 644. "Tristis senectus", Virgil. Aenid. 6. (d) De Seuectute, c. 14, 15. (e) Ibid. c. 8.

Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them;
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1. Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth] The word for “Creator” is strictly the participle of the verb which is translated “create” in Genesis 1:1; Genesis 1:21; Genesis 1:27, and as a Divine Name is exceptionally rare, occurring only here and in Isaiah 40:23; Isaiah 44:15. It is plural in its form, as Elohim (the word for God) is plural, as the “Holy One” is plural in Proverbs 9:10; Proverbs 30:3; Hosea 12:1, as expressing the majesty of God. The explanations which have been given of the words as meaning (1) “thy fountain” in the sense of Proverbs 5:18, “thy well-spring of sensuous joy,” or (2) “thy existence,” are scarcely tenable philologically, and are altogether at variance with the context.

while the evil days come not] The description which follows forms in some respects the most difficult of all the enigmas of the Book. That it represents the decay of old age, or of disease anticipating age, ending at last in death, lies beyond the shadow of a doubt; but the figurative language in which that decay is represented abounds in allusive references which were at the time full of meaning for those that had ears to hear, but which now present riddles which it is not easy to solve. Briefly, the two chief lines on which commentators have travelled have been (1) that which starts as in the comment of Gregory Thaumaturgus (see Introduction, ch. vii.) from the idea of the approach of death as the on-coming of a storm; (2) that which assumes that we have as it were a diagnosis of the physical phenomena of old age and its infirmities, and loses itself in discussions as to what bodily organ, heart, brain, liver, gall-duct, or the like, is specially in the author’s mind. It will be seen, as the imagery comes before us in detail, how far either solution is satisfactory, how far they admit of being combined, or what other, if any, presents itself with stronger claims on our attention.

The “evil days” are those which are painted in the verses that follow, not necessarily the special forms of evil that come as the punishment of sensual sins, but the inevitable accompaniment of declining years or of disease. There is the implied warning that unless a man has remembered his Creator in his youth, it will not then be easy to remember Him as for the first time in the “evil days” of age or infirmity. In those days it will be emphatically true that there will be no pleasure in them.Verse 1. - The division into chapters is unfortunate here, as this verse is closely connected with ver. 10 of the preceding chapter. Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth. Set God always before thine eyes from thy earliest days; think who made thee, and what thou wast made for, not for self-pleasing only, not to gratify thy passions which now are strong; but that thou mightest use thy powers and energy in accordance with the laws of thy being as a creature of God's hands, responsible to him for the use of the faculties and capacities with which he has endowed thee. The word for "Creator" is the participle of the Verb barn, which is that used in Genesis 1:1, etc., describing God's work. It is plural in form, like Elohim, the plural being that of majesty or excellence (comp. Job 35:10: Isaiah 54:5). It is used here as an appellation of God, because the young have to bethink themselves that all they are and all they have come from God. Such plurals are supposed by some to be divinely intended to adumbrate the doctrine of the Holy Trinity - a dark saying containing a mystery which future revelation shoed explain. "He that made thee" is a common phrase in Ecclesiasticus (Ecclesiastes 4:6; 7:30; 39:5). It is to be noted that Gratz reads "cistern" or a fountain" in place of "Creator," and explains this term to mean "wife, as in Proverbs 5:15-18. But the alteration has nothing to support it, and is most unnecessary, though Cheyne was inclined to adopt it ('Job and Solomon,' in loc.). While the evil days come not; i.e. before they come. "Days of evil; αἱ ἡμέραι τῆς κακίας (Σεπτυγαιντ) (Matthew 6:4); tempus afflictionis (Vulgate). The phrase refers to the grievances and inconveniences of old age, which are further and graphically described in the following verses, though whether the expressions therein used regard literal anatomical facts, or are allegorical representations of the gradual decay of the faculties, has been greatly disputed. Probably both opinions contain a partial truth, as will be noted in our Exposition. Ginsburg considers that the allusion is not to the ills that in the course of time all flesh is heir to, but rather to that premature decay and suffering occasioned by the unrestrained gratification of sensual passions, such as Cicero intimates ('De Senect.,' 9:29), "Libidinosa et intemperans adulescentia effetum corpus tradit senectuti." There is nothing specially in the text to support this view, and it is most reasonable to see here generally a figurative description of decay, whatever may be the cause. I have no pleasure in them. Ere the time comes when a man shall say, "I have no pleasure in life." Thus the aged Barzillai asks," Can I discern between good and evil? Can thy servant taste what I eat, or what I drink? Can I hear any more the voice of singing-men and singing-women?" (2 Samuel 19:35). "As thou hast no knowledge what is the way of the wind, like as the bones in the womb of her who is with child; so thou knowest not the work of God who accomplisheth all." Luther, after Jerome, renders rightly: "As thou knowest not the way of the wind, and how the bones in the mother's womb do grow; so," etc. The clause, instar ossium in ventre praegnantis, is the so-called comparatio decurtata for instar ignorantiae tuae ossium, etc., like thy ignorance regarding the bones, i.e., the growth of the bones. כּעץ,

(Note: The Targ. reads בעץ, and construes: What the way of the spirit in the bones, i.e., how the embryo becomes animated.)

because more closely defined by 'בּב הם, has not the art. used elsewhere after כ of comparison; an example for the regular syntax (vid., Riehm, under Psalm 17:12) is found at Deuteronomy 32:2. That man has no power over the wind, we read at Ecclesiastes 8:8; the way of the wind he knows not (John 3:8), because he has not the wind under his control: man knows fundamentally only that which he rules. Regarding the origin and development of the embryo as a _secret which remained a mystery to the Israel. Chokma, vid., Psychol. p. 209ff. For עצם, cf. Psalm 139:15 and Job 10:11. Regarding meleah, pregnant (like the Lat. plena). With fine discrimination, the fut. תדע לא in the apodosis interchanges with the particip. יודע אינך in the protasis, as when we say: If thou knowest not that, as a consequence thou shalt also not know this. As a man must confess his ignorance in respect to the way of the wind, and the formation of the child in the mother's womb; so in general the work of God the All-Working lies beyond his knowledge: he can neither penetrate it in the entireness of its connection, nor in the details of its accomplishment. The idea 'oseh kol, Isaiah 44:24, is intentionally unfolded in a fut. relat. clause, because here the fut. in the natural world, as well as in human history, comes principally into view. For that very reason the words את־הכּל are also used, not: (as in passages where there is a reference to the world of creation in its present condition) eth-kol-elleh, Isaiah 66:2. Also the growth of the child in the mother's womb is compared to the growth of the future in the womb of the present, out of which it is born (Proverbs 27:1; cf. Zephaniah 2:2). What is established by this proof that man is not lord of the future, - viz. that in the activity of his calling he should shake off anxious concern about the future, - is once again inferred with the combination of what is said in Ecclesiastes 11:4 and Ecclesiastes 11:2 (according to our interpretation, here confirmed).

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Ecclesiastes 11:10
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