For what has man of all his labor, and of the vexation of his heart, wherein he has labored under the sun?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Ecclesiastes 2:22-23. For what hath man — “To what purpose,” a man may well say, “is all this toil of my body, and these solicitous thoughts, and this anguish of my mind? For all that a man can enjoy himself of the anxious labours wherein he spends his days, amounts to little or nothing; and what comfort hath he in thinking who shall enjoy the fruit of them hereafter?” For all his days are sorrows, &c. — “And yet, such is our folly, there is no end of our cares; for we see many a man, whose life is nothing but a mere drudgery; who never is at leisure to enjoy any thing that he hath, but still engaged in one troublesome employment or other to get more; which he follows so eagerly, as if it were his business to disquiet and vex himself, and make his life uneasy to him! being not content with his daily toils, unless he rack his mind also with cares in the night! This is so void of all reason that nothing can be imagined more vain and foolish.” — Bishop Patrick.
wherein he hath laboured under the sun? the Targum adds, "in this world"; though he has been labouring all his days, yet there is not one thing he has got by his labour that is of any real advantage to him, or can yield him any solid comfort and satisfaction, or bring him true happiness, or lead him to it.For what hath man of all his labour, and of the vexation of his heart, wherein he hath laboured under the sun?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)22. the vexation of his heart] The word differs from that for which “feeding on wind” has been suggested, but is akin to it, and has been, as in Ecclesiastes 1:17, rendered by meditation. Here, perhaps, “corroding care” would best convey its meaning.Verse 22. - What hath man of all his labor? i.e. what is to be the result to man? Γίνεται ἐν τῷ ἀνθρώπῳ; (Septuagint); Quidenim proderit homini? (Vulgate). There is, indeed, the pleasure that accompanies the pursuit of objects, and the successful accomplishment of enterprise; but this is poor and unsubstantial and embittered. And of the vexation of his heart; the striving, the effort of his mind to direct his labor to great ends. What does all this produce? The answer intended is," Nothing." This striving, with all its wisdom and knowledge and skill (ver. 21), is for the laborer fruitless. Ecclesiastes 1:11, so here זכרון is the principal form, not different from זכּרון. Having no remembrance forever, is equivalent to having no eternal endurance, having simply no onward existence (Ecclesiastes 9:6). עם is both times the comparat. combin., as at Ecclesiastes 7:11; Job 9:26; Job 37:18; cf. יחד, Psalm 49:11. There are, indeed, individual historically great men, the memory of whom is perpetuated from generation to generation in words and in monuments; but these are exceptions, which do not always show that posterity is able to distinguish between wise men and fools. As a rule, men have a long appreciating recollection of the wise as little as they have of the fools, for long ago (vid., beshekvar, p. 640) in the coming days (כּב אבּ, accus. of the time, like the ellipt.הב, Isaiah 27:6) all are forgotten; הכּל is, as at Psalm 14:3, meant personally: the one as the other; and נשׁכּח is rendered by the Masora, like Psalm 9:6, כּב אב, as the pausal form of the finite; but is perhaps thought of as part., denoting that which only in the coming days will become too soon a completed fact, since those who survive go from the burial of the one, as well as from that of the other, to the ordinary duties of the day. Death thus sinks the wise man, as it does the fool, in eternal oblivion; it comes to both, and brings the same to both, which extorted from the author the cry: How dieth the wise man? as the fool! Why is the fate which awaits both thus the same! This is the pointed, sarcastic איך (how!) of the satirical Mashal, e.g., Isaiah 14:4; Ezekiel 26:17; and ימוּת is equals moriendum est, as at 2 Samuel 3:3, moriendum erat. Rambach well: איך est h. l. particula admirationis super rei indignitate.
What happened to the author from this sorrowful discovery he now states.
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