Ecclesiastes 2:14
The wise man's eyes are in his head; but the fool walks in darkness: and I myself perceived also that one event happens 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." "I heaped up for myself also silver and gold, and the peculiar property of kings and of countries; I gat me men singers and women singers, and the delights of the children of men: mistress and mistresses." The verb כּנשׁ כּנס, συνάγειν, is common to all Semitic dialects (also the to Assyr.), and especially peculiar to the more recent Heb., which forms from it the name of the religious community συναγωγή, כּנסת; it is used here of that which is brought together merely for the purpose of possession. Segūllah (from sagal, Targ., to make oneself possess), properly possession, and that something which specially and peculiarly belongs to one as his property; the word is here meant collect., as at 1 Chronicles 29:3 : that which only kings and individual countries possess. The interchange of melachim, which is without the article, with the determ. hammedinoth, is arbitrary: something special, such as that which a king possesses, the specialities which countries possess, - one country this, and another that. The hammedinoth are certainly not exclusively the regions embraced within the dominion of Solomon (Zckl.), as, according to Esther 1:1, the Persian kingdom was divided into 127 medinoth. Solomon had a fleet which went to Ophir, was in a friendly relation with the royal house of Tyre, the metropolis of many colonies, and ruled over a widely-extended kingdom, bound by commerce with Central Asia and Africa. - His desires had thus ample opportunity to stretch beyond the limits of his own kingdom, and facilities enough for procuring the peculiar natural and artistic productions which other lands could boast of. Medinah is, first of all, a country, not as a territory, but as under one government (cf. Ecclesiastes 5:7); in the later philosophical language it is the Heb. word for the Greek πολιτεία; in the passage before us, medinoth is, however, not different from ארצות.

From the singing men and singing women who come into view here, not as appertaining to the temple service (vid., the Targ.), with which no singing women were connected, but as connected with the festivities of the court (2 Samuel 19:36; cf. Isaiah 5:12), advance is made to shiddah veshiddoth; and since these are designated by the preceding ותענגות (not ותענגּות) bene hāādam, especially as objects and means of earthly pleasure, and since, according to Hebrews 2:7, sexual love is the fairest and the most pleasant, in a word, the most attractive of all earthly delights (Solomon's luxus, also here contradicting the law of the king, Deuteronomy 17:17, came to a height, according to 1 Kings 11:3, after the example of Oriental rulers, in a harem of not fewer than one thousand women, princesses and concubines), of necessity, the expression shiddah veshiddoth must denote a multitude of women whom the king possessed for his own pleasure. Cup-bearers, male and female (Syr., lxx), cannot at all be understood, for although it may be said that the enumeration thus connects itself with the before-named בּיּין, yet this class of female attendants are not numbered among the highest human pleasures; besides, with such an explanation one must read שׁרה ושׁדות, and, in addition, שׁדא (to throw, to pour to, or pour out), to which this Heb. שׁדה may correspond, is nowhere used of the pouring out of wine. Rather might שׁדה, like שדא, hydria, be the name of a vessel from which one pours out anything, according to which Aq. translates by κυλίκιον καὶ κυλίκια, Symmachus, after Jerome, by mensurarum (read mensarum)

(Note: Thus, according to Vallarsi, a Cod. Vat. and Cod. Palat. of the first hand.)

species et appositioines, and Jerome, scyphos et urceos in ministerio ad vina fundenda; but this word for kelē mashkēh, 1 Kings 10:21 ( equals 2 Chronicles 9:20), is not found. Also the Targ., which translates by dimasaya uvē venavan, public baths (δημόσια), and balneae, vindicates this translation by referring the word to the verb שׁדא, "with pipes which pour out (דּשׁרין) tepid water, and pipes which pour out hot water." But this explanation is imaginary; שׁדּה occurs in the Mishna, Mikwaoth (of plunge-baths) Ecclesiastes 6:5, but there it denotes a chest which, when it swims in the water, makes the plunge-bath unsuitable. Such an untenable conceit also is the translation suggested by Kimchi, כלי זמר, according to which the Event. σύστεεμα καὶ συστήματα (in a musical sense: concentus), and Luther: "all kinds of musical instruments;" the word has not this meaning; Orelli, Sanchuniathon, p. 33, combines therewith Σιδών, according to the Phoenician myth, the inventress of the artistic song. The explanation by Kimchi is headed, "Splendour of every kind;" Ewald, Elster, and Zckler find therein a general expression, following taanugoth: great heap and heaps equals in great abundance [die Hlle und Flle]. But the synon. of כבוד, "splendour," is not שׁד, but עז; and that שׁדד, like עצם, is referred to a great number, is without proof. Thus shiddah veshiddoth will denote something definite; besides, "a large number" finds its expression in the climactic union of words. In the Jerus. Talm. Taanith Ecclesiastes 4:5, shiddah must, according to the gloss, be the name of a chariot, although the subject there is not that of motion forward, or moving quickly; it is there announced that Schn, not far from Sepphoris, a place famed also for its pottery, formerly possessed 80 such shiddoth wholly of metal. The very same word is explained by Rashi, Baba kamma ix. 3, Shabbath 120a, Erubin 30b, Gittin 8b, 68a, Chagiga 25a, and elsewhere, of a carriage of wood, and especially of a chariot for women and distinguished persons. The combination of the synonyms, shiddah uthivah umigdal, does not in itself mean more than a chest; and Rashi himself explains, Kethuboth 65a, quolphi dashidah of the lock of a chest (argaz); and the author of Aruch knows no other meaning than that of a repository such as a chest. But in passages such as Gittin 8b, the shiddah is mentioned as a means of transport; it is to all appearance a chest going on wheels, moved forward by means of wheels, but on that very account not a state-chariot. Rashi's tradition cannot be verified.

Bttcher, in the Neue Aehrenlese, adduces for comparison the Syr. Shydlo, which, according to Castelli, signifies navis magna, corbita, arca; but from a merchant ship and a portable chest, it is a great way to a lady's palanquin.

He translates: palanquin and palinquins equals one consignment to the harem after another. Gesen., according to Rdiger, Thes. 1365b, thinks that women are to be understood; for he compares the Arab. z'ynat, which signifies a women's carriage, and then the woman herself (cf. our Frauenzimmer, women's apartment, women, like Odaliske, from the Turk. oda, apartment). But this all stands or falls with that gloss of Rashi's: 'agalah lemerkavoth nashim usarim. Meanwhile, of all the explanations as yet advanced, this last of splendid coaches, palanquins is the best; for it may certainly be supposed that the words shiddah veshiddoth are meant of women. Aben Ezra explains on this supposition, shiddoth equals shevuyoth, females captured in war; but unwarrantably, because as yet Solomon had not been engaged in war; others (vid., Pinsker's Zur Gesch. des Karaismus, p. 296), recently Bullock, connect it with shadim, in the sense of (Arab.) nahidah (a maiden with swelling breast); Knobel explains after shadad, to barricade, to shut up, occlusa, the female held in custody (cf. bethulah, the separated one, virgin, from bathal, cogn. badal); Hitzig, "cushions," "bolsters," from shanad, which, like (Arab.) firash, λέχος, is then transferred to the juncta toro. Nothing of all that is satisfactory. The Babyl. Gemara, Gittin 68a, glosses ותען וגו by "reservoirs and baths," and then further says that in the west (Palestine) they say שׁדּתא, chests (according to Rashi: chariots); but that here in this country (i.e., in Babylon) they translate shiddah veshiddoth by shēdah veshēdathin, which is then explained, "demons and demonesses," which Solomon had made subservient to him.

(Note: A demon, and generally a superhuman being, is called, as in Heb. שׁד, so in the Babyl.-Assyr. sîdu, vid., Norris' Assyrian Dictionary, II p. cf. Schrader, in the Jena. Lit. Zeit. 1874, p. 218f., according to which sîdu, with alap, is the usual name of Adar formed like an ox.)

This haggadic-mytholog. interpretation is, linguistically at least, on the right track. A demon is not so named from fluttering or moving to and fro (Levy, Schnhak), for there is no evidence in the Semitic langauge of the existence of a verb שוד, to flee; also not from a verb sadad, which must correspond to the Heb. השׁתחוה, in the sense of to adore (Oppert's Inscription du palais de Khorsabad, 1863, p. 96); for this meaning is more than doubtful, and, besides, שׁד is an active, and not a passive idea-much rather שׁד, Assyr. sîd, Arab. sayyid, signifies the mighty, from שׁוּד, to force, Psalm 91:6.

(Note: Vid., Friedrich Delitzsch's Assyr. Theirnamen, p. 37.)

In the Arab. (cf. the Spanish Cid) it is uniformly the name of a lord, as subduing, ruling, mastering (sabid), and the fem. sayyidat, of a lady, whence the vulgar Arab. sitti equals my lady, and sîdi equals my lord. Since שׁדד means the same as שׁוד, and in Heb. is more commonly used than it, so also the fem. form שׁדּה is possible, so much the more as it may have originated from שׁדה, 5 שׁיד equals שׁד, by a sharpening contraction, like סגּים, from סיגים (Olsh. 83c), perhaps intentionally to make שׁדה, a demoness, and the name of a lady (donna equals domina) unlike. Accordingly we translate, with Gesen. and Meyer in their Handwrt.: "lady and ladies;" for we take shiddoth as a name of the ladies of the harem, like shēglath (Assyr. saklâti) and lehhenath in the book of Daniel, on which Ahron b. Joseph the Karaite remarks: shedah hinqaroth shagal.

The connection expressing an innumerable quantity, and at the same time the greatest diversity, is different from the genitival dor dorim, generation of generations, i.e., lasting through all generations, Psalm 72:5, from the permutative heightening the idea: rahham rahhamathaim, one damsel, two damsels, Judges 5:30, and from that formed by placing together the two gram. genders, comprehending every species of the generic conception: mash'ēn umash'enah, Isaiah 3:3 (vid., comm. l.c., and Ewald, 172b). Also the words cited by Ewald (Syr.), rogo urogo, "all possible pleasures" (Cureton's Spicil. p. 10), do not altogether accord with this passage for they heighten, like meod meod, by the repetition of the same expression. But similar is the Arab. scheme, mal wamwal, "possession and possessions," i.e., exceeding great riches, where the collective idea, in itself according by its indetermination free scope to the imagination, is multiplied by the plur. being further added.

After Koheleth has enumerated all that he had provided for the purpose of gratifying his lusts, but without losing himself therein, he draws the conclusion, which on this occasion also shows a perceptible deficit.

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