Ecclesiastes 2:4
I made me great works; I built me houses; I planted me vineyards:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(4) Houses.1Kings 5:11; 2Chronicles 8:4.

Vineyards.1Chronicles 27:27; Song of Solomon 8:11.

Ecclesiastes 2:4-7. I made me great works — Magnificent works, for my honour and delight. I builded me houses — Of which see 1 Kings 7:1, &c.; 9:15, &c.; Song of Solomon 8:11. I made me gardens — Hebrew, paradises, or gardens of pleasure; I planted trees, &c. — Mixing pleasure and profit together. I made me pools of water — Because the rain there fell but seldom; to water therewith the wood — The nurseries of young trees, which, for the multitude of them, were like a wood or forest. I had servants born in my house — Of my bond-servants, which therefore were a part of my possessions. 2:1-11 Solomon soon found mirth and pleasure to be vanity. What does noisy, flashy mirth towards making a man happy? The manifold devices of men's hearts, to get satisfaction from the world, and their changing from one thing to another, are like the restlessness of a man in a fever. Perceiving it was folly to give himself to wine, he next tried the costly amusements of princes. The poor, when they read such a description, are ready to feel discontent. But the remedy against all such feelings is in the estimate of it all by the owner himself. All was vanity and vexation of spirit: and the same things would yield the same result to us, as to Solomon. Having food and raiment, let us therewith be content. His wisdom remained with him; a strong understanding, with great human knowledge. But every earthly pleasure, when unconnected with better blessings, leaves the mind as eager and unsatisfied as before. Happiness arises not from the situation in which we are placed. It is only through Jesus Christ that final blessedness can be attained.Compare 1 Kings 7:1-12; 1 Kings 9:15-19; 1 Kings 10:14-27; and 2 Chronicles 8:4. 4. (1Ki 7:1-8; 9:1, 19; 10:18, &c.).

vineyards—(So 8:11).

I made me great works; magnificent works for my honour and delight.

I built me houses; of which see 1 Kings 7:1, &c.; 1 Kings 9:15, &c. I planted me vineyards: see Song of Solomon 8:11. I made me great works,.... He did not spend his time in trifling things, as Domitian (a), in catching and killing flies; but in devising, designing, directing, and superintending great works of art and skill, becoming the grandeur of his state, and the greatness of his mind: the Midrash restrains it to his great throne of ivory, overlaid with gold, 1 Kings 10:18, but it is a general expression, including all the great things he did, of which the following is a particular enumeration;

I builded me houses; among which must not be reckoned the house of God, though that was built by him, and in the first place; yet this was built, not for his own pleasure and grandeur, but for the worship and glory of God: but his own house and palace is chiefly meant, which was thirteen years in building; and the house of the forest in Lebanon, which perhaps was his country seat; with all other houses and offices, for his stores, for his servants, his horsemen, and chariots; see 1 Kings 7:1; and in fine spacious buildings men take a great deal of pleasure, and promise themselves much happiness in dwelling in them, and in perpetuating their names to posterity by them; see Psalm 49:11. The Targum is,

"I multiplied good works in Jerusalem; I builded me houses; the house of the sanctuary, to make atonement for Israel; the king's house of refreshment, and the conclave and porch; and the house of judgment, of hewn stones, where the wise men sit and do judgment; I made a throne of ivory for the royal seat;''

I planted me vineyards; perhaps those at Engedi were of his planting; however, he had one at Baalhamon, and no doubt in other places, Sol 1:14; the Targum makes mention of one at Jabne, planted by him; these also add to the pleasure of human life; it is delightful to walk in them, to gather the fruit and drink of the wine of them; see Sol 7:12.

(a) Sueton. Vit. Domitian. c. 3. Aurel. Victor. De. Caesar. & Epitome.

I made me great works; I builded me houses; I planted me vineyards:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
4. I made me great works] The verse may be either a retrospect of the details of the life of the pleasure-seeker as sketched in the previous verse, or, as seems more probable, the account of a new experiment in which the man passed from purely sensual pleasures to the life of what we know as ‘culture,’ the pursuit of beauty and magnificence in Art. Here the writer throws himself into the surroundings of the historical Solomon. We may venture to refer to Tennyson’s Palace of Art as tracing the working out of a like experiment to its inevitable issue. See Appendix II.

I builded me houses] We think of David’s house of cedar (2 Chronicles 2:3) and the storehouses, oliveyards and vineyards (1 Chronicles 27:25-31) which Solomon had inherited, of his own palace, and the house of the forest of Lebanon and the house for Pharaoh’s daughter, which he built (1 Kings 7:1-9), of Tadmor and Hamath and Beth-horon and Baalath, the cities in far off lands which owned him as their founder (2 Chronicles 8:3-6). It is significant, on any theory of authorship, that we find no reference to Solomon’s work in building “the house of the Lord.” That was naturally outside the range of the experiments in search of happiness and too sacred to be mentioned in connexion with them here, either by the king himself or by the writer who personates him. On the assumption of personation the writer may have drawn his pictures of kingly state from the palaces and parks of the Ptolemies, including the botanical and zoological gardens connected with the Museum at Alexandria, or from those of the Persian kings at Susa or Persepolis.

I planted me vineyards] Of these one, that of Baal-hamon, has been immortalised by its mention in the Song of Solomon (Ecclesiastes 8:11). It was planted with the choicest vine, and the value of its produce estimated at a thousand pieces of silver. Engedi seems also to have been famous for its vineyards (Song Song of Solomon 1:14).Verse 4. - This commences a new experience in the pursuit of his object. Leaving this life of self-indulgence, he takes to art and culture, the details being drawn from the accounts of the historical Solomon. I made me great works; literally, I made great my works; Septuagint, Ἐμεγάλυνα ποίημά per; Vulgate, Magnificavi opera mea. Among these works the temple, with all its wonderful structural preparations, is not specially mentioned, perhaps because no one could think of Solomon without connecting his name with this magnificent building, and it was superfluous to call attention to it; or else because the religious aspect of his operations is not here in question, but only his taste and pursuit of beauty. But the omission tells strongly against the Solomonic authorship of the book. I builded me houses. Solomon had a passion for erecting magnificent buildings. We have various accounts of his works of this nature in 1 Kings 7. and 9; 2 Chronicles 8. There was the huge palace for himself, which occupied thirteen years in building; there was the "house of the forest of Lebanon," a splendid hall constructed with pillars of cedar; the porch of pillars; the hall of judgment; the harem for the daughter of Pharaoh. Then there were fortresses, store-cities, chariot-towns, national works of great importance; cities in distant lands which he founded, such as Tadmor in the wilderness. I planted me vineyards. David had vineyards and olive yards (1 Chronicles 27:27, 28), which passed into the possession of his son; and we read in Song of Solomon 8:11 of a vineyard that Solomon had in Baal-hamon, which some identify with Belamon (Judith 8:3), a place near Shunem, in the Plain of Esdraelon. "I have communed with mine own heart, saying: Lo, I have gained great and always greater wisdom above all who were before me over Jerusalem; and my heart hath seen wisdom and knowledge in fulness. And I gave my heart to know what was in wisdom and knowledge, madness and folly - I have perceived that this also is a grasping after the wind." The evidence in which he bears witness to himself that striving after wisdom and knowledge brings with it no true satisfaction, reaches down to the close of Ecclesiastes 1:17; ידעתּי is the conclusion which is aimed at. The manner of expression is certainly so far involved, as he speaks of his heart to his heart what it had experienced, and to what he had purposely directed it. The אני leads us to think that a king speaks, for whom it is appropriate to write a capital I, or to multiply it into we; vid., regarding this "I," more pleonastic than emphatic, subordinated to its verb.

It is a question whether עם־לבּי, after the phrase (את) עם דּבּר, is meant of speaking with any one, colloqui, or of the place of speaking, as in "thou shalt consider in thine heart," Deuteronomy 8:5, it is used of the place of consciousness; cf. Job 15:9, (עמּדי) עמּי היה equals σύνοιδα ἐμαυτῷ, and what is said in my Psychol. p. 134, regarding συνείδησις, consciousness, and συμμαρτυρεῖν. בּלבּי, interchanging with עם־לבּי, Ecclesiastes 2:1, Ecclesiastes 2:15, commends the latter meaning: in my heart (lxx, Targ., Jerome, Luther); but the cogn. expressions, medabběrěth ǎl-libbah, 1 Samuel 1:13, and ledabbēr ěl-libbi, Genesis 24:45, suggest as more natural the former rendering, viz., as of a dialogue, which is expressed by the Gr. Venet. (more distinctly than by Aquila, Symm., and Syr.): διείλεγμαι ἐγὼ ξὺν τῇ καρδίᾳ μου. Also לאמר, occurring only here in the Book of Koheleth, brings it near that the following oratio directa is directed to the heart, as it also directly assumes the form of an address, Ecclesiastes 2:1, after בלבי. The expression, הג הך, "to make one's wisdom great," i.e., "to gain great wisdom," is without a parallel; for the words, הג תו, Isaiah 28:29, quoted by Hitzig, signify to show and attest truly useful (beneficial) knowledge in a noble way. The annexed והו refers to the continued increase made to the great treasure already possessed (cf. Ecclesiastes 2:9 and 1 Kings 10:7). The al connected therewith signifies, "above" (Genesis 49:26) all those who were over Jerusalem before me. This is like the sarrâni âlik maḥrija, "the kings who were my predecessors," which was frequently used by the Assyrian kings. The Targumist seeks to accommodate the words to the actual Solomon by thus distorting them: "above all the wise men who have been in Jerusalem before me," as if the word in the text were בירושלם,

(Note: In F. the following note is added: "Several Codd. have, erroneously, birushalam instead of al-jerushalam." Kennicott counts about 60 such Codd. It stands thus also in J; and at first it thus stood in H, but was afterwards corrected to al-yerushalam. Cf. Elias Levita's Masoreth hamasoreth, II 8, at the end.)

as it is indeed found in several Codd., and according to which also the lxx, Syr., Jerome, and the Venet. translate. Rather than think of the wise (הכּימיּא), we are led to think of all those who from of old stood at the head of the Israelitish community. But there must have been well-known great men with whom Solomon measures himself, and these could not be such dissimilarly great men as the Canaanitish kings to the time of Melchizedek; and since the Jebusites, even under Saul, were in possession of Zion, and Jerusalem was for the first time completely subdued by David (2 Samuel 5:7, cf. Joshua 15:63), it is evident that only one predecessor of Solomon in the office of ruler over Jerusalem can be spoken of, and that here an anachronism lies before us, occasioned by the circumstance that the Salomo revivivus, who has behind him the long list of kings whom in truth he had before him, here speaks.

Regarding היה אשׁר, qu'il y uet, for היו אשׁר, qui furent, vid., at Ecclesiastes 1:10. The seeing here ascribed to the heart (here equals νοῦς, Psychol. p. 249) is meant of intellectual observation and apprehension; for "all perception, whether it be mediated by the organs of sense or not (as prophetic observing and contemplating), comprehends all, from mental discernment down to suffering, which veils itself in unconsciousness, and the Scripture designates it as a seeing" (Psychol. 234); the Book of Koheleth also uses the word ראה of every kind of human experience, bodily or mental, Ecclesiastes 2:24; Ecclesiastes 5:17; Ecclesiastes 6:6; Ecclesiastes 9:9. It is commonly translated: "My heart saw much wisdom and knowledge" (thus e.g., Ewald); but that is contrary to the gram. structure of the sentence (Ew. 287c). The adject. harbēh

(Note: Regarding the form הרבה, which occurs once (Jeremiah 42:2), vid., Ew. 240c.)

is always, and by Koheleth also, Ecclesiastes 2:7; Ecclesiastes 5:6, Ecclesiastes 5:16; Ecclesiastes 6:11; Ecclesiastes 9:18; Ecclesiastes 11:8; Ecclesiastes 12:9, Ecclesiastes 12:12, placed after its subst.; thus it is here adv., as at Ecclesiastes 5:19; Ecclesiastes 7:16. Rightly the Venet.: ἡ καρδία μου τεθέαται κατὰ πολὺ σοφίαν καί γνῶσιν Chokma signifies, properly, solidity, compactness; and then, like πυκνότης, mental ability, secular wisdom; and, generally, solid knowledge of the true and the right. Dǎǎth is connected with chokma here and at Isaiah 33:6, as at Romans 11:33, γνῶσις is with σοφία. Baumggarten-Crusius there remarks that σοφία refers to the general ordering of things, γνῶσις to the determination of individual things; and Harless, that σοφία is knowledge which proposes the right aim, and γνῶσις that which finds the right means thereto. In general, we may say that chokma is the fact of a powerful knowledge of the true and the right, and the property which arises out of this intellectual possession; but dǎǎth is knowledge penetrating into the depth of the essence of things, by which wisdom is acquired and in which wisdom establishes itself.

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