Ecclesiastes 2:15
Then said I in my heart, As it happeneth to the fool, so it happeneth even to me; and why was I then more wise? Then I said in my heart, that this also is vanity.
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Ecclesiastes 2:15-16. Then I said — why was I more wise — What benefit have I by my wisdom? or, to what purpose did I take so much pains to get wisdom. For there is no remembrance of the wise — Their memory, though it may flourish for a season, yet will, in a little time, be worn out; as we see in most of the wise men of former ages, whose very names, together with all their monuments, are utterly lost. As the fool — He must die as certainly as the fool.

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.15. why was I—so anxious to become, &c. (2Ch 1:10).

Then—Since such is the case.

this—namely, pursuit of (worldly) wisdom; it can never fill the place of the true wisdom (Job 28:28; Jer 8:9).

Why was I then more wise? what benefit have I by my wisdom? or, to what purpose did I desire and take so much pains for wisdom?

Then said I in my heart, as it happeneth to the fool, so it happeneth even to me,.... The wisest of kings, and the wisest of men; that is, he looked over things in his mind, and considered what had befallen him, or what were his present circumstances, or what would be his case, especially at death; and said within himself, the same things happen to me, who have attained to the highest pitch of wisdom, as to the most errant fool; and therefore no true happiness can be in this sort of wisdom. The Targum paraphrases it thus,

"as it happened to Saul the son of Kish, the king who turned aside perversely, and kept not the commandment he received concerning Amalek, and his kingdom was taken from him; so shall it happen to me;''

and why was I then more wise? the Targum adds, than he, or than any other man, or even than a fool; why have I took so much pains to get wisdom? what am I the better for it? what happiness is there in it, seeing it gives me no advantage, preference, and excellency to a fool; or secures me from the events that befall me?

Then I said in my heart, that this also is vanity; this worldly wisdom has nothing solid and substantial in it, as well as pleasure; and it is a vain thing to seek happiness in it, since this is the case, that the events are the same to men that have it, as to one that has it not.

Then said I in my heart, As it happeneth to the fool, so it happeneth even to me; and why was I then more wise? Then I said in my heart, that this also is vanity.
15. why was I then more wise?] Better, Why have I been wise now overmuch? The very wisdom of the seeker might lead him to see that he has not only been wiser than others, but wiser than it was wise to be. The last word is almost identical with the “profit” which occurs so frequently. He found that he had a surplus of wisdom, and that it was but surplusage. We seem to hear an echo of the Μηδὲ νἀγὰν, the Ne quid nimis (“Nothing in excess”) of Greek and Roman sages. So, with the same Hebrew word, we have in chap. Ecclesiastes 7:16, “Be not righteous over much.” So it was that the sentence of ‘Vanity’ was once more written on wisdom as well as folly. It is not without significance that the man feels the bitterness of the sentence, because, even in his wisdom, he, like the Stoics, had been egoistic. That he and the fool, the man of large discourse, and the man to whom culture was an unknown word, should die the same death, this made him curse his destiny.

Verse 15. - Then (and) said I in my heart (Ecclesiastes 1:16), As it happeneth to the fool, so it happeneth even to me. He applies the general statement of ver. 14 to his own case. The end that overtakes the fool will ere long overtake him; and he proceeds, Why was I then more wise? "Then" (אז), may be understood either logically, i.e. in this case, since such is the fate of wise and foolish; or temporally, at the hour of death regarded as past. He puts the question - To what end, with what design, has he been so excessively wise, or, as it may be, wise overmuch (Ecclesiastes 7:16)? His wisdom has, as it were, recoiled upon himself - it taught him much, but not content; it made him keen-sighted in seeing the emptiness of human things, but it satisfied not his cravings. Then I said in my heart, that this also is vanity. This similarity of fate for philosopher and fool makes life vain and worthless; or rather, the meaning may be, if the superiority of wisdom over folly conduces to no other end than this, that superiority is a vanity. The LXX. has glossed the passage, followed herein by the Syriac, "Moreover, I spake in my heart that indeed this is also vanity, because the fool speaks out of his abundance" - ver. 16 giving the substance of the fool's thoughts. Vulgate, Locutusque cum mente mea, animadverti quod hoc quoque esset vanitas. Our Hebrew text does not confirm this interpretation or addition. Ecclesiastes 2:15"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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