For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falls; for he has not another to help him up.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Woe.—The word occurs only here and in Ecclesiastes 10:16, but is common in post-Biblical Hebrew.Ecclesiastes 4:10-12. For, if they fall — If one or more of them fall in any way; as into any mistakes, and errors, or sins, dangers, or distresses. The one will lift up his fellow — Will hold him up, if he be falling, or raise him up, if he be fallen. If two lie together, then they have heat — They will be sooner warm in a cold bed and a cold season. So virtuous and gracious affections are excited by good society; and Christians warm one another, by provoking one another to love and good works. But how can one be warm alone? — How can the warmth and fervency of true Christian love and zeal be retained by him who stands aloof from, and has no intercourse with, his fellow-Christians? If one prevail against him — If an enemy, visible or invisible, might easily prevail against either or any of them, if not associated with others, two or more, uniting their counsels and efforts, will be able to withstand him; and a three-fold cord is not quickly broken — If a man have not only one, but two or more friends to assist him, he is so much the more secure against all assaults, and therefore the more happy. Thus, in our spiritual warfare, we may be helpful to each other as well as in our spiritual work. And next to the comfort of communion with God, is that of the communion of saints. For they that dwell in love dwell in God, and God in them.They; one of them, the plural being put for the singular, as Jonah 1:5 Matthew 21:7 1 Timothy 2:15. Or both of them successively.
Fall, in any kind, into any mistakes and errors, or sins, or dangers and distresses.
Will lift up his fellow; hold him up if he be falling, or raise him up if he be fallen.
"if one of them falls upon the bed, and lies sick,''
as the Targum paraphrases it, his friend and brother in a religions community will visit him, and sympathize with him, and speak a word of comfort to him, and pray with him, which may issue in his restoration. So the Targum,
"the other will cause his friend to rise by his prayer;''
or if he fall into outward distress, poverty, and want, his spiritual friend or friends will distribute to his necessity; if he falls into errors, as a good man may, such as are of the same religious society with him will take some pains to convince him of the error of his way, and to convert him from it, and to save a soul from death, and cover a multitude of sins; and if he falls into sin, to which the best of men are liable, such as are spiritual will endeavour to restore him in a spirit of meekness;
but woe to him that is alone when he falleth! for he hath not another to help him up; no companion to raise him up when fallen; no Christian friend to visit and comfort him when sick, to relieve him under his necessities, when poor and afflicted, or to recover him from errors in judgment, or immoralities in practice; and especially if he has not Christ with him to raise him up, keep, and uphold him.For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Verse 10. - Koheleth illustrates the benefit of association by certain familiar examples. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow. If one or the other fall, the companion will aid him. The idea is that two travelers are making their way over a rough road - an experience that every one must have had in Palestine. Vulgate, Si unus ceciderit. Of course, if both fell at the same time, one could not help the other. Commentators quote Homer, 'Iliad,' 10:220-226, thus rendered by Lord Derby -
"Nestor, that heart is mine;
I dare alone Enter the hostile camp, so close at hand;
Yet were one comrade giv'n me, I should go
With more of comfort, more of confidence.
Where two combine, one before other sees
The better course; and ev'n though one alone
The readiest way discover, yet would be
His judgment slower, his decision less." Woe to him that is alone. The same interjection of sorrow, אִי, occurs in Ecclesiastes 10:16, but elsewhere only in late Hebrew. The verse may be applied to moral falls as well as to stumbling at natural obstacles. Brother helps brother to resist temptation, while many have failed when tried by isolation who would have manfully withstood if they had had the countenance and support of others.
"Clear before us through the darkness
Gleams and burns the guiding light;
Brother clasps the hand of brother,
Stepping fearless through the night." Ecclesiastes 2:24 כּשׁרון, by καθαρότης, betrays himself as a Jew. With כּי, quod, that which forms the pred. follows the object. the min in mere'ehu is as in amatz min, Psalm 18:18, and the like - the same as the compar.: aemulatio qua unus prae altero eminere studet. All this expenditure of strength and art has covetousness and envy, with which one seeks to surpass another, as its poisoned sting.
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