Ecclesiastes 2:14
The wise man's eyes are in his head; but the fool walketh in darkness: and I myself perceived also that one event happeneth to them all.
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(14) Event.—Translated “hap,” or “chance” (Ruth 2:13; 1Samuel 6:9; 1Samuel 20:26).

2:12-17 Solomon found that knowledge and prudence were preferable to ignorance and folly, though human wisdom and knowledge will not make a man happy. The most learned of men, who dies a stranger to Christ Jesus, will perish equally with the most ignorant; and what good can commendations on earth do to the body in the grave, or the soul in hell? And the spirits of just men made perfect cannot want them. So that if this were all, we might be led to hate our life, as it is all vanity and vexation of spirit.Event - Or, "hap" Ruth 2:3. The verb from which it is derived seems in this book to refer especially to death. The word does not mean chance (compare Ecclesiastes 9:1-2), independent of the ordering of Divine Providence: the Gentile notion of "mere chance," or "blind fate," is never once contemplated by the writer of this book, and it would be inconsistent with his tenets of the unlimited power and activity of God.13, 14. (Pr 17:24). The worldly "wise" man has good sense in managing his affairs, skill and taste in building and planting, and keeps within safe and respectable bounds in pleasure, while the "fool" is wanting in these respects ("darkness," equivalent to fatal error, blind infatuation), yet one event, death, happens to both (Job 21:26). Are in his head; in their proper place, and therefore they can see, which they could not do if they were out of his head. He hath the use of his eyes and reason, and sees his way, and orders all his affairs with discretion, and foresees, and so avoids, many dangers and mischiefs. Walketh in darkness; manageth his affairs ignorantly, rashly, and foolishly, whereby he showeth that his eyes are not in his head, but in his heels, or, as it is expressed, Proverbs 17:24, in the ends of the earth. And; or, yet; notwithstanding this excellency of wisdom above folly for our conduct in the matters of this life, yet at last they both come to one end.

One event happeneth to them all; both are subject to the same calamities, and to death itself, which utterly takes away all difference between them.

The wise man's eyes are in his head,.... And so are the eyes of every man; but the sense is, he makes use of them, he looks about him, and walks circumspectly; he takes heed to his goings, he foresees the evil, and avoids it; or the danger he is exposed unto, and guards against it. Some understand it, in a more spiritual and evangelical sense, of Christ, who is the head of the body the church, and of every true believer; of everyone that is wise unto salvation, whose eyes are on him alone for righteousness, salvation, and eternal life; or on whom Christ's eyes are; who is said to have seven eyes, with which he guides, guards, and protects his people;

but the fool walketh in darkness; his eyes are to the ends of the earth; he walks incautiously, without any circumspection or guard; he knows not where he is, nor where he is going, nor where he shall set his foot next, nor at what he may stumble; wherefore a wise man is to be preferred to a fool, as wisdom is to folly. The Midrash interprets the wise man of Abraham, and the fool of Nimrod;

and I myself perceived also that one event happeneth to them all; the wise man and the fool; or, "but I myself perceived" (w), &c. though it is allowed that a wise man is better than a fool; yet this also must be owned, which Solomon's experience proved, and every man's does, that the same things befall wise men and fools; they are liable to the same diseases of body, and disasters of life; to poverty and distress, to loss of estate, children, and friends, and to death itself.

(w) "sed agnovi", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "sed cognovi", Rambachius; "but I saw", Broughton.

The wise man's {i} eyes are in his head; but the fool walketh in darkness: and I myself perceived also that one {k} event happeneth to them all.

(i) Meaning, in this world.

(k) For both die and are forgotten as in Ec 2:16 or they both alike have prosperity or adversity.

14. The wise man’s eyes are in his head] The figurative language is so much of the nature of an universal parable that we need hardly look to any special source for it, but we are at least reminded of those that “walk on still in darkness,” who have eyes and yet “see not” in any true sense of seeing (Isaiah 6:10). In Proverbs 17:24 we have the opposite form of the same thought: “The eyes of a fool are in the ends of the earth.” Comp. also John 11:10; John 12:33.

and I myself perceived also] Better, And yet I myself perceived. The thought of Ecclesiastes 2:13 which had given an apparent resting-place for the seeker, is traversed by another which sends him once more adrift. Wisdom is better than folly. True, but for how long? With an emphasized stress on his own personal reflections, he goes on, “Yes, I myself, learning it for myself, and not as a topic of the schools, saw that there is one event for the wise and for the fool.” In a few short years the difference in which the former exults will vanish, and both will be on the same level. So sang the Epicurean poet:

“Omnes una manet nox,

Et calcanda semel via lethi.”

“One dark black night awaits us all;

One path of death we all must tread.”

Hor. Od. i. 28. 15.

Verse 14. - The wise man's eyes are in his head; but the fool walketh 'in darkness. This clause is closely connected with the preceding verse, showing how wisdom excelleth folly. The wise man has the eyes of his heart or understanding enlightened (Ephesians 1:18); he looks into the nature of things, fixes his regard on what is most important, sees where to go; while the fool's eyes are in the ends of the earth (Proverbs 17:24); he walks on still in darkness, stumbling as he goes, knowing not whither his road shall take him. And I myself also (I even I) perceived that one event happeneth to them all. "Event" (mikreh); συνάντημα (Septuagint); interitus (Vulgate); not chance, But death, the final event. The word is translated "hap" in Ruth 2:3, and "chance" in 1 Samuel 6:9; but the connection here points to a definite termination; nor would it be consistent with Koheleth's religion to refer this termination to fate or accident. With all his experience, he could only conclude that in one important aspect the observed superiority of wisdom to folly was illusory and vain. He saw with his own eyes, and needed no instructor to teach, that both wise and fool must succumb to death, the universal leveler. Horace, in many passages, sings of this: thus 'Carm.,' 2:3. 21 -

"Divesne prisco natus ab Inacho,
Nil interest, an pauper et infima
De gente sub dive moreris,
Victima nil miserantis Orci."
(Comp, ibid, 1:28. 15, etc.; 2:14. 9, etc.) Plato ('Phaedo,' 57. p. 108, A) refers to a passage in 'Telephus,' a lost play of 2 Eschylus, which is restored thus -

Ἁπλῆ γὰρ οϊμος πάντες εἰς Ἅιδου φέρει.

"A single path leads all unto the grave." Ecclesiastes 2:14"And I saw that wisdom has the advantage over folly, as light has the advantage over darkness. The wise man has eyes in his head; but the fool walketh in darkness." In the sacred Scriptures, "light" is generally the symbol of grace, Psalm 43:3, but also the contrast of an intellectually and morally darkened state, Isaiah 51:4. To know a thing is equivalent to having light on it, and seeing it in its true light (Psalm 36:10); wisdom is thus compared to light; folly is once, Job 38:19, directly called "darkness." Thus wisdom stands so much higher than folly, as light stands above darkness.יתרון, which hitherto denoted actual result, enduring gain, signifies here preference; along with כּיתרון

(Note: Thus written, according to J and other authorities.)

there is also found the form כּיתרון

(Note: Thus Ven. 1515, 1521; vid., Comm. under Genesis 27:28-29; Psalm 45:10.)

(vid., Proverbs 30:17). The fool walks in darkness: he is blind although he has eyes (Isaiah 43:8), and thus has as good as none, - he wants the spiritual eye of understanding (Job 10:3); the wise man, on the other hand, his eyes are in his head, or, as we also say: he has eyes in his head, - eyes truly seeing, looking at and examining persons and things. That is the one side of the relation of wisdom to folly as put to the test.

The other side of the relation is the sameness of the result in which the elevation of wisdom above folly terminates.

"And I myself perceived that one experience happeneth to them all. And I said in my heart, As it will happen to the fool, it will happen also to me; and why have I then been specially wise? Thus I spake then in my heart, that this also is vain." Zckler gives to גּם an adversative sense; but this gam ( equals ὃμως, similiter) stands always at the beginning of the clause, Ewald, 354a. Gam-ani corresponds to the Lat. ego idem, which gives two predicates to one subject; while et ipse predicates the same of the one of two subjects as it does of the other (Zumpt, 697). The second gam-ani serves for the giving of prominence to the object, and here precedes, after the manner of a substantival clause (cf. Isaiah 45:12; Ezekiel 33:17; 2 Chronicles 28:10), as at Genesis 24:27; cf. Gesen. 121. 3. Miqrěh (from קרה, to happen, to befall) is quiquid alicui accidit (in the later philosoph. terminol. accidens; Venet. συμβεβεεκός); but here, as the connection shows, that which finally puts an end to life, the final event of death. By the word יד the author expresses what he had observed on reflection; by בּל...אם, what he said inwardly to himself regarding it; and by דּבּ דל, what sentence he passed thereon with himself. Lammah asks for the design, as maddu'a for the reason. אז is either understood temporally: then when it is finally not better with me than with the fool (Hitz. from the standpoint of the dying hour), or logically: if yet one and the same event happeneth to the wise man and to the fool (Eslt.); in the consciousness of the author both are taken together.The זה of the conclusion refers, not, as at Ecclesiastes 1:17, to the endeavouring after and the possession of wisdom, but to this final result making no difference between wise men and fools. This fate, happening to all alike, is הבל, a vanity rendering all vain, a nullity levelling down all to nothing, something full of contradictions, irrational. Paul also (Romans 8:20) speaks of this destruction, which at last comes upon all, as a ματαιότης.

The author now assigns the reason for this discouraging result.

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