Ecclesiastes 2:21
For there is a man whose labour is in wisdom, and in knowledge, and in equity; yet to a man that hath not laboured therein shall he leave it for his portion. This also is vanity and a great evil.
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(21) Equity.—Rather, skill, success (Ecclesiastes 4:4; Ecclesiastes 5:7). The noun is peculiar to this book. The corresponding verb occurs in Ecclesiastes 10:10; Ecclesiastes 11:6; Esther 8:5.

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.21. Suppose "there is a man," &c.

equity—rather "with success," as the Hebrew is rendered (Ec 11:6), "prosper," though Margin gives "right" [Holden and Maurer].

evil—not in itself, for this is the ordinary course of things, but "evil," as regards the chief good, that one should have toiled so fruitlessly.

Whose labour is in wisdom, and in knowledge, and in equity; who useth great industry, and prudence, and justice too, in the management of his affairs, and therefore might as confidently expect God’s blessing, and the comfort of his labours, as any other man.

That hath not laboured therein, so as I have done; who hath spent his days in sloth and folly.

A great evil; a great disorder in itself, and a great disgrace to this world, and a great torment to a considering mind.

For there is a man whose labour is in wisdom, and in knowledge, and in equity,.... Who does all he does, in natural, civil, and religious things, in the state, in his family, and the world, and whatsoever business he is engaged, in the wisest and best manner, with the utmost honesty and integrity, according to all the rules of wisdom and knowledge, and of justice and equity; meaning himself; the Midrash interprets this of God;

yet to a man that hath not laboured therein shall he leave it for his portion; to his son, heir, and successor; who never took any pains, or joined with him, in acquiring the least part of it; and yet all comes into his hands, as his possession and inheritance: the Targum interprets this of a man that dies without children; and so others (z) understand it of his leaving his substance to strangers, and not to his children.

This also is vanity, and a great evil; not anything sinful and criminal, but vexatious and distressing.

(z) R. Joseph Titatzak in loc.

For there is a man whose labour is in wisdom, and in knowledge, and in equity; yet to a man that hath not laboured in it shall he {o} leave it for his portion. This also is vanity and a great evil.

(o) Among other griefs that was not the least, to leave that which he had gotten by great travail, to one who had taken no pain therefore and whom he know not whether he were a wise man or a fool.

21. For there is a man] It is characteristic of the Debater that he broods over the same thought, and contemplates it as in a variety of aspects. It is not merely, as in Ecclesiastes 2:19, that another possessed his heaped up riches who may use them quite otherwise than he would have them used, but that the man who by his wisdom has achieved wealth (for “equity” we should rather read here and in chap. Ecclesiastes 4:4, Ecclesiastes 5:11skill” or “success,” the moral character of the success not being here in question) has to leave it to one who has not worked at all, it may be to an alien in blood.

Verse 21. - For there is a man whose labor is in wisdom. "In," בְּ, "with," directed and performed with wisdom. The author speaks of himself objectively, as St. Paul (2 Corinthians 12:2) says, "I know a man in Christ," etc. His complaint now is, not that his successor may misuse his inheritance (ver. 19), but that this person shall have that on which he has bestowed no skill or toil, shall enjoy what modern phraseology terms "unearned increment." This, which was set forth as One of the blessings of the promised land (Deuteronomy 6:10, 11), Koheleth cannot bear to contemplate where it touches himself - not from envy or grudging, but from the feeling of dissatisfaction and want of energy which it generates. In (with) knowledge and in (with) equity. Kishron, translated "equity" in the Authorized Version; ἀνδρεία "manliness," in the Septuagint: and sollicitudine in the Vulgate, seems rather here to signify "skill" or "success." It occurs also in Ecclesiastes 4:4 and Ecclesiastes 5:10, and there only in the Old Testament. Ecclesiastes 2:21"For there is a man who labours with wisdom, and knowledge, and ability; and to a man who has not laboured for it, must he leave it as his portion: also that is vain, and a great evil." Ewald renders: whose labour aims after wisdom. But בּח וטו do not denote obj. (for the obj. of עמל is certainly the portion which is to be inherited), but are particular designations of the way and manner of the labour. Instead of שׁעמל, there is used the more emphatic form of the noun: שׁעמלו, who had his labour, and performed it; 1 Samuel 7:17, cf. Jeremiah 9:5, Jeremiah 9:6, "Thine habitation is in the midst of deceit," and Hitz. under Job 9:27. Kishron is not ἀνδρεία (lxx), manliness, moral energy (Elster), but aptness, ability, and (as a consequence connecting itself therewith) success, good fortune, thus skilfulness conducting to the end. בּו refers to the object, and יתּננּוּ to the result of the work; חלקו is the second obj.-accus., or, as we rather say, pred.-accus.: as his portion, viz., inheritance.

That what one has gained by skill and good fortune thus falls to the lot of another who perhaps recklessly squanders it, is an evil all the greater in proportion to the labour and care bestowed on its acquisition.

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