Ecclesiastes 3:16
And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there.
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(16) This verse introduces the consideration of the difficulty arising from the imperfection of moral retribution in this life. Other places where the iniquity of judges is mentioned are Ecclesiastes 4:1; Ecclesiastes 5:8; Ecclesiastes 6:7; Ecclesiastes 8:9-10.

Ecclesiastes 3:16. And moreover, &c. — This is another argument of the vanity of worldly things, and a hinderance of that comfort which men expect in this life, because they are oppressed by their rulers. I saw the place of judgment — In the thrones of princes, and tribunals of magistrates, where judgment should be duly executed. Solomon is still showing that every thing in this world, without the fear of God, is vanity. In these verses he shows that power, of which men are so ambitious, and life itself, are nothing worth without it.

3:16-22 Without the fear of the Lord, man is but vanity; set that aside, and judges will not use their power well. And there is another Judge that stands before the door. With God there is a time for the redressing of grievances, though as yet we see it not. Solomon seems to express his wish that men might perceive, that by choosing this world as their portion, they brought themselves to a level with the beasts, without being free, as they are, from present vexations and a future account. Both return to the dust from whence they were taken. What little reason have we to be proud of our bodies, or bodily accomplishments! But as none can fully comprehend, so few consider properly, the difference between the rational soul of man, and the spirit or life of the beast. The spirit of man goes upward, to be judged, and is then fixed in an unchangeable state of happiness or misery. It is as certain that the spirit of the beast goes downward to the earth; it perishes at death. Surely their case is lamentable, the height of whose hopes and wishes is, that they may die like beasts. Let our inquiry be, how an eternity of existence may be to us an eternity of enjoyment? To answer this, is the grand design of revelation. Jesus is revealed as the Son of God, and the Hope of sinners.That great anomaly in the moral government of this world, the seemingly unequal distribution of rewards and punishments, will be rectified by God, who has future times and events under His control Ecclesiastes 3:16-17. As for people, they are placed by God, who is their teacher, in a humble condition, even on a level with inferior animals, by death, that great instance of their subjection to vanity Ecclesiastes 3:18-19, which reduces to its original form all that was made of the dust of the ground Ecclesiastes 3:20. And though the destinies of man and beast are different, yet in our present lack of knowledge as to God's future dealing with our spirits Ecclesiastes 3:21, man finds his portion (see the Ecclesiastes 2:10 note) in such labor and such joy as God assigns to him in his lifetime Ecclesiastes 3:22.

Ecclesiastes 3:16

I saw ... - Rather, I have seen (as in Ecclesiastes 3:10) under the sun the place etc. The place of judgment means the seat of the authorized judge. Compare "the place of the holy" Ecclesiastes 8:10.

16. Here a difficulty is suggested. If God "requires" events to move in their perpetual cycle, why are the wicked allowed to deal unrighteously in the place where injustice ought least of all to be; namely, "the place of judgment" (Jer 12:1)? This is mentioned, either,

1. As another vanity, to wit, the vanity of honour and power, which is so oft an instrument of injustice and oppression. Or rather,

2. As another argument of the vanity of worldly things, or a hinderance of that comfort which men expect in this life, because they are oppressed by their rulers.

I saw; I perceived it by information from others, and by my own observation.

The place of judgment; in the thrones of princes and tribunals of magistrates, where judgment should be duly executed.

Wickedness was there; judgment was perverted, the guilty acquitted, and the innocent condemned.

The place of righteousness; in which righteousness should be found and should dwell, if it were banished from all other places.

And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment,.... Courts of judicature, where judges sit, and, causes are brought before them, and are heard and tried; such as were the Jewish sanhedrim, of which the Midrash and Jarchi interpret it;

that wickedness was there, wicked judges sat there, and wickedness was committed by them; instead of doing justice they perverted it; condemned the righteous, and acquitted the wicked; and oppressed the widow, fatherless, and stranger, whose cause, being just, they should have defended. So the Targum,

"in which lying judges condemn the innocent.''

Well does the wise man say he saw this "under the sun", for there is nothing of this kind above it; nor approved of by him that is above it;

and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there; this signifies the same as before, only it is expressed in different words. The Midrash and Jarchi interpret this of the middle gate in Jerusalem, where Nergal Sharezer, and other princes of the king of Babylon, sat, and which Solomon foresaw by a spirit of prophecy; but the better sense is, that Solomon had observed a great deal of this kind in reading the histories and annals of nations; knew that much of this sort was practised in other countries, and had seen a great deal of it in his own, done in inferior courts, and by subordinate officers; and though he was a wise and righteous prince, yet was not able to rectify all these abuses, for want of sufficient proof, which yet he lamented, and it gave him a concern; compare with this Isaiah 1:21.

And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there.
16. I saw under the sun the place of judgment] The Hebrew gives slightly different forms of the same noun, so as to gain the emphasis, without the monotony, of iteration, where the A.V. has the needless variation of “wickedness” and “iniquity.” Either word will do, but it should be the same in both clauses. We enter on another phase of the seeker’s thoughts. The moral disorder of the world, its oppressive rulers, its unjust judges, its religious hypocrisies, oppress him even more than the failure of his own schemes of happiness. In part the feeling implies a step out of selfishness, sympathy with the sufferers, the perception of what ought to be, as contrasted with what is, and therefore an upward step in the seeker’s progress. In the “place of judgment” we may see the tribunal where justice is administered: in that of “righteousness” the councils, secular, or, it may be, ecclesiastical, in which men ought to have been witnesses for the divine law of Righteousness and were self-seeking and ambitious.

Verses 16-22. - Acknowledging the providential government of God, which controls events and places man's happiness out of his own power, one is confronted also by the fact that there is much wickedness, much injustice, in the world, which oppose all plans for peaceful enjoyment. Doubtless there shall be a day of retribution for such iniquities; and God allows them now in order to try men and to teach them humility. Meantime man's duty and happiness consist, as before said, in making the best use of the present and improving the opportunities which God gives him. Verse 16. - And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment. Koheleth records his experience of the prevalence of iniquity in high places. The place of judgment (mishat); where justice is administered. The accentuation allows (cf. Genesis 1:1) this to be regarded as the object of the verb. The Revised Version, with Hitzig, Ginsburg, and others, take מְקום as an adverbial expression equivalent to "in the place." The former is the simpler construction. "And moreover," at the commencement of the verse, looks back to ver. 10," I have seen the travail," etc. That wickedness (resha) was there. On the judicial seat iniquity sat instead of justice. The place of righteousness (tsedek). "Righteousness" is the peculiar characteristic of the judge himself, as "justice" is of his decisions. That iniquity (resha) was there. The word ought to be translated "wickedness" or "iniquity" in both clauses. The Septuagint takes the abstract for the concrete, and at the end has apparently introduced a clerical error, which has been perpetuated in the Arabic and elsewhere, "And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, there was the ungodly (ἀσεβής); and the place of the righteous, there was the godly (εὐσεβής)." The Complutensian Polyglot reads ἀσεβὴς in both places. It is impossible to harmonize these statements of oppression and injustice here and elsewhere (e.g., Ecclesiastes 4:1; Ecclesiastes 5:8; Ecclesiastes 8:9, 10) with Solomon's authorship of the book. It is contrary to fact that such a corrupt state of things existed in his time, and in writing thus he would be uttering a libel against himself. If he was cognizant of such evils in his kingdom, he had nothing to do but to put them down with a high hand. There is nothing to lead to the belief that he is speaking of other countries and other times; he is stating his own personal experience of what goes on around him. It is true that in Solomon's latter days disaffection secretly prevailed, and the people felt his yoke grievous (1 Kings 12:4); but there is no evidence of the existence of corruption in judicial courts, or of the social and political evils of which he speaks in this book. That he had a prophetical for, sight of the disasters that would accompany the reign of his successor, and endeavors herein to provide consolation for the future sufferers, is a pious opinion without historical basis, and cannot be justly used to support the genuineness of the work. Ecclesiastes 3:16"And, moreover, I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that wickedness was there." The structure of the verse is palindromic, like Ecclesiastes 1:6; Ecclesiastes 2:10; Ecclesiastes 4:1. We might also render מקום as the so-called casus absol., so that שׁם ... מק is an emphatic בּמקום (Hitz.), and the construction like Jeremiah 46:5; but the accentuation does not require this (cf. Genesis 1:1); and why should it not be at once the object to ראיתי, which in any case it virtually is? These two words שׁמה הרשׁע might be attribut. clauses: where wickedness (prevails), for the old scheme of the attributive clause (the tsfat) is not foreign to the style of this book (vid., Ecclesiastes 1:13, nathan equals nethano; and Ecclesiastes 5:12, raithi equals reithiha); but why not rather virtual pred. accus.: vidi locum juris (quod) ibi impietas? Cf. Nehemiah 13:23 with Psalm 37:25. The place of "judgment" is the place where justice should be ascertained and executed; and the place of "righteousness," that where righteousness should ascertain and administer justice; for mishpat is the rule (of right), and the objective matter of fact; tsedek, a subjective property and manner of acting. רשׁע is in both cases the same: wickedness (see under Psalm 1:1), which bends justice, and is the contrary of tsěděk, i.e., upright and moral sternness. רשׁע elsewhere, like mělěk̂ tsěděk, preserves in p. its e, but here it takes rank along with חסד, which in like manner fluctuates (cf. Psalm 130:7 with Proverbs 21:21). שׁמּה is here equals שׁם, as at Psalm 122:5, etc.; the locative ah suits the question Where? as well as in the question Whither? - He now expresses how, in such a state of things, he arrived at satisfaction of mind.
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