Ecclesiastes 2:20
Therefore I went about to cause my heart to despair of all the labour which I took under the sun.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(20) Went about.—Ecclesiastes 7:25; Ecclesiastes 9:14; Ecclesiastes 12:5.

Ecclesiastes 2:20-21. I went to cause my heart to despair — I gave myself up to despair of ever reaping that satisfaction which I promised to myself. For there is a man whose labour, &c. — Who uses great industry, and prudence, and justice too, in the management of his affairs; yet to a man that hath not laboured therein — shall he leave it for his portion — A portion which he will probably consume upon his lusts. This also is a great evil — A great disorder in itself, and a great torment to a considering mind.

2:18-26 Our hearts are very loth to quit their expectations of great things from the creature; but Solomon came to this at length. The world is a vale of tears, even to those that have much of it. See what fools they are, who make themselves drudges to the world, which affords a man nothing better than subsistence for the body. And the utmost he can attain in this respect is to allow himself a sober, cheerful use thereof, according to his rank and condition. But we must enjoy good in our labour; we must use those things to make us diligent and cheerful in worldly business. And this is the gift of God. Riches are a blessing or a curse to a man, according as he has, or has not, a heart to make a good use of them. To those that are accepted of the Lord, he gives joy and satisfaction in the knowledge and love of him. But to the sinner he allots labour, sorrow, vanity, and vexation, in seeking a worldly portion, which yet afterwards comes into better hands. Let the sinner seriously consider his latter end. To seek a lasting portion in the love of Christ and the blessings it bestows, is the only way to true and satisfying enjoyment even of this present world.I went about - i. e., I turned from one course of action to another.20. I gave up as desperate all hope of solid fruit from my labor. I gave myself up to despondency, and despair of ever reaping that satisfaction which I promised to myself.

Therefore I went about to cause my heart to despair,.... Of ever finding happiness in anything here below. He "turned about" (y), as the word signifies dropped his severe studies of wisdom, and his eager pursuits of pleasure; and desisted from those toilsome works, in which he had employed himself; and went from one thing to another, and settled and stuck at nothing, on purpose to relax his mind, as the Syriac version renders it; to divest it of all anxious thought and care, and call it off from its vain and fruitless undertakings; and be no more concerned about or thoughtful

of all the labour which I took under the sun; and what will be the consequence and issue of it; but quietly leave all to an all wise disposing Providence; and not seek for happiness in anything under the sun, but in those things that are above it; not in this world, but in the world to come.

(y) "versus sum", Montanus; "et ego verti me", Vatablus, Mercerus, Gejerus.

Therefore I went about to cause my heart {n} to despair of all the labour which I took under the sun.

(n) That I might seek the true happiness which is in God.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
20. I went about to cause my heart to despair] The verb for despair is not a common one. Another form of it meets us in the emphatic cry, “There is no hope” of Jeremiah 2:25; Jeremiah 18:12. What he had felt had made the seeker renounce the very impulse that led to labour. In the phrase “I went about,” literally, “I turned,” we have, as it were, the attitude of one who looks behind him on the road on which so far he has travelled. The retrospect was so dreary that it made the prospect drearier still.

Verse 20. - Therefore I went about to cause my heart to despair; Ἐπέστρεψα ἐγὼ (Septuagint). "I turned" in order to examine more closely. So in ver. 12 we had, "I turned myself," though the verbs are not the same in the two passages, and in the former the LXX. has ἐπέβλεψα. I turned from my late course of action to give myself up to despair. I lost all hope in labor; it had no longer any charm or future for me. Septuagint, Τοῦ ἀποτάξασθαι τὴν καρδίαν μου ἐν παντὶ μόχθῳ μου κ.τ.λ. Ecclesiastes 2:20"Then I turned to give up my heart on account of equals to despair of all the labour with which I wearied myself under the sun." As at 1 Samuel 22:17., Sol 2:17; Jeremiah 41:14, סבב has here the intrans. meaning, to turn about (lxx ἐπέστρεψα equals ἐπεστρεψάμην). Hitzig remarks that פנה and שוב signify, "to turn round in order to see," and סבב, on the contrary, "to turn round in order to do." But פנה can also mean, "to turn round in order to do," e.g., Leviticus 26:9; and סבב, "to turn in order to examine more narrowly," Ecclesiastes 7:25. The distinction lies in this, that פנה signifies a clear turning round; סבב, a turning away from one thing to another, a turning in the direction of something new that presents itself (Ecclesiastes 4:1, Ecclesiastes 4:7; Ecclesiastes 9:11). The phrase, יאשׁ את־בלבּו,

(Note: With Pathach under the yod in the text in Biblia Rabb. and the note ל Thus also in the ms. Parva Masora, and e.g., Cod. P.)

closely corresponds to the Lat. despondet animum, he gives up his spirits, lets them sink, i.e., he despairs. The old language knows only נואשׁ, to give oneself up, i.e., to give up hope in regard to anything; and נואשׁ, given up, having no prospect, in despair. The Talm., however, uses along with nithyāēsh (vid., p. 638) not only noǎsh, but also יאשׁ, in the sense of despair, or the giving up of all hope (subst. יאוּשׁ), Meza 21b, from which it is at once evident that יאשׁ, is not to be thought of as causative (like the Arab. ajjasa and aiasa), but as simply transitive, with which, after the passage before us, לבו is to be thought of as connected. He turned round to give up all heart. He had no more any heart to labour.

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