He that loves silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loves abundance with increase: this is also vanity.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Ecclesiastes 5:10-11. He that loveth silver shall not, &c. — The greatest treasures of silver do not satisfy the covetous possessor of it, both because his mind is insatiable, his desires being increased by and with his gains, and because silver of itself cannot satisfy his natural desires and necessities, as the fruits of the field can do, and the miserable creature grudges to part with his silver, though it be to purchase things needful and convenient for him. When goods increase, they are increased that eat them — As the rich man’s estate increases, the greater family and retinue, if he will live like himself, he must maintain; and these have a larger share than himself in the daily provision that is made by his expenses, and enjoy the same comforts which he doth in partaking of it, without his cares, fears, and troubles. And as for the rest, that is not expended, which he calls peculiarly his, he hath no other benefit from it, but only that it feeds and entertains his eyes.
shall not be satisfied—so the oppressor "eateth his own flesh" (see on Ec 4:1 and Ec 4:5).
with increase—is not satisfied with the gain that he makes.
That loveth abundance; or, that loveth it (to wit, silver) in abundance; that desires and lays up great treasures.
nor he that loveth abundance with increase; that is, he that coveteth a great deal of this world's things shall not be satisfied with the increase of them, let that be what it will; or, he shall have "no increase" (f), be ever the better for his abundance, or enjoy the comfort and benefit of it: or, "he that loveth abundance from whence there is no increase" (g); that loves to have a multitude of people about him, as manservants and maidservants; a large equipage, as Aben Ezra suggests, which are of very little use and service, or none at all;
this is also vanity: the immoderate love of money, coveting large estates and possessions, and to have a train of servants. Jarchi allegorically interprets silver and abundance, of the commands, and the multitude of them.
(f) "non erit proventus illi", Vatablus, Mercerus, Gejerus; "nullum fructum percipit", Tigurine version. (g) "Qui amat copiam, sc. multitudinem ex qua non est sperandus profectus", Schmidt, so Gussetius.He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)10. He that loveth silver] The sequence of thought led the Debater from the evils of the love of money as seen in mis-government to those which are seen in the life of the individual man. The conspicuous fact was the insatiableness of that passion for money;
“Semper avarus eget; hunc nulla pecunia replet.”
“The miser still is poor, no money fills his purse.”
Juven. Sat. xiv. 139.
The second clause may be taken either as in the A. V. as a maxim He who clings to wealth (the word implies the luxury that accompanies wealth as in Psalm 37:16; 1 Chronicles 29:16; Isaiah 60:5), there is no fruit thereof, or as a question, Who clings to wealth? There is no fruit thereof, i. e. no real revenue or return for the labour of acquiring it. In this the Teacher found another illustration of his text that “all is vanity.”Verses 10-17. - The thought of the acts of injustice and oppression noticed above, all of which spring from the craving for money, leads the bard to dwell upon the evils that accompany this pursuit and possession of wealth, which is thus seen to give no real satisfaction. Avarice has already been noticed (Ecclesiastes 4:7-12); the covetous man now reprobated is one who desires wealth only for the enjoyment he can get from it, or the display which it enables him to make, not, like the miser, who gloats over its mere possession. Various instances are given in which riches are unprofitable and vain. Verse 10. - He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver. "Silver," the generic name for money, as Greek ἀργύριον and French argent. The insatiableness of the passion for money is a common theme of poets, moralists, and satirists, and is found in the proverbs of all nations. Thus Horace ('Ep.,' 1:2. 56): "Semper avarus eget;" to which St Jerome alludes ('Epist.,' 53), "Antiquum dictum est, Avaro tam deest, quod habet, quam quod non habet." Comp. Juvenal, 'Sat.,' 14:139 -
"Interea pleno quum forget sacculus ere,
Crescit amor nummi, quantum ipsa pecnnia crevit."
"For as thy strutting bags with money rise,
The love of gain is of an equal size."
(Dryden.) There is much more of similar import in Horace. See 'Carm.,' 2:2. 13, sqq.; 3:16. 17, 28; 'Ep.,' 2:2, 147; an, 1 Ovid, Fast.,' 1:211 -
"Creverunt etopes et opum furiosa cupido,
Et, quum possideant plura, plura volunt."
"As wealth increases grows the frenzied thirst
For wealth; the more they have, the more they want." Nor he that loveth abundance with increase. The Authorized Version scarcely presents the sense of the passage, which is not tautological, but rather that given by the Vulgate, Et qui amat divitias fructum non capiet exeis, "He who loveth abundance of wealth hath no fruit therefrom;" he derives no real profit or enjoyment from the luxury which it enables him to procure; rather it brings added trouble. And so the old conclusion is again reached, this is also vanity. Hitzig takes the sentence as interrogative, "Who hath pleasure in abundance which brings nothing in?" But such questions are hardly in the style of Kohelcth, and the notion of capital without interest is not a thought which would have been then understood. The Septuagint, however, reads the clause interrogatively, Καὶ τίς ἠγάπησεν ἐν πλήθει αὐτῶν (αὐτοῦ, al.) γέννημα; "And who has loved [or, has been content with] gain in its fullness?" But מִי is not necessarily interrogative, but here indefinite, equivalent to "whosoever." Ecclesiastes 1:3) and closes in the same way, and hence warrants the conclusion that that which lies between will also be תורה דברי, this is in a special manner true of the passage before us regarding the vow which, in thought and expression, is the echo of Deuteronomy 23:22-24. Instead of kaashěr tiddor, we find there the words ki tiddor; instead of lelohim ( equals lěělohim, always only of the one true God), there we have lahovah ělohěcha; and instead of al-teahher, there lo teahher. There the reason is: "for the Lord thy God will surely require it of thee; and it would be sin in thee;" here: for there is no pleasure in fools, i.e., it is not possible that any one, not to speak of God, could have a particular inclination toward fools, who speak in vain, and make promises in which their heart is not, and which they do not keep. Whatever thou vowest, continues Koheleth, fulfil it; it is better (Ewald, 336a) that thou vowest not, than to vow and not to pay; for which the Tra says: "If thou shalt forbear to vow, it shall be no sin in thee" (Deuteronomy 23:22). נדר, which, according to the stem-word, denotes first the vow of consecration of setting apart (cogn. Arab. nadar, to separate, נזר, whence נזיר), the so-called אסר [vid. Numbers 30:3], is here a vow in its widest sense; the author, however, may have had, as there, the law (cf. Ecclesiastes 5:2-4), especially shalme něděr, in view, i.e., such peace-offerings as the law does not enjoin, but which the offerer promises (cogn. with the shalme nedavah, i.e., such as rest on free-will, but not on any obligation arising from a previous promise) from his own inclination, for the event that God may do this or that for him. The verb שׁלּם is not, however, related to this name for sacrifices, as חטּא is to חטּאת, but denotes the fulfilling or discharge as a performance fully accordant with duty. To the expression חטא ... היה (twice occurring in the passage of Deut. referred to above) there is added the warning: let not thy mouth bring thy body into sin. The verb nathan, with Lamed and the inf. following, signifies to allow, to permit, Genesis 20:6; Judges 1:34; Job 31:30. The inf. is with equal right translated: not to bring into punishment; for חטא - the syncop. Hiph. of which, according to an old, and, in the Pentateuch, favourite form, is לחטיא - signifies to sin, and also (e.g., Genesis 39:9; cf. the play on the word, Hosea 8:11) to expiate sin; sin-burdened and guilty, or liable to punishment, mean the same thing. Incorrectly, Ginsburg, Zck., and others: "Do not suffer thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin;" for (1) the formula: "the flesh sins," is not in accordance with the formation of O.T. ideas; the N.T., it is true, uses the expression σὰρξ ἁμαρτίας, Romans 8:3, but not ἁμαρτάνουσα, that which sins is not the flesh, but the will determined by the flesh, or by fleshly lust; (2) the mouth here is not merely that which leads to sin, but the person who sins through thoughtless haste, - who, by his haste, brings sin upon his flesh, for this suffers, for the breach of vow, by penalties inflicted by God; the mouth is, like the eye and the hand, a member of the ὃλον τὸ σῶμα (Matthew 5:24.), which is here called בשׂר; the whole man in its sensitive nature (opp. לב, Ecclesiastes 2:3; Ecclesiastes 11:10; Proverbs 14:30) has to suffer chastisement on account of that which the mouth hath spoken. Gesen. compares this passage, correctly, with Deuteronomy 24:4, for the meaning peccati reum facere; Isaiah 29:21 is also similar.
The further warning refers to the lessening of the sin of a rash vow unfulfilled as an unintentional, easily expiable offence: "and say not before the messenger of God that it was a שׁגגה, a sin of weakness." Without doubt hammǎlāch is an official byname of a priest, and that such as was in common use at the time of the author. But as for the rest, it is not easy to make the matter of the warning clear. That it is not easy, may be concluded from this, that with Jewish interpreters it lies remote to think of a priest in the word hammǎlāch. By this word the Targ. understands the angel to whom the execution of the sentence of punishment shall be committed on the day of judgment; Aben Ezra: the angel who writes down all the words of a man; similarly Jerome, after his Jewish teacher. Under this passage Ginsburg has an entire excursus regarding the angels. The lxx and Syr. translate "before God," as if the words of the text were אל נגד, Psalm 138:1, or as if hammalach could of itself mean God, as presenting Himself in history. Supposing that hammalach is the official name of a man, and that of a priest, we appear to be under the necessity of imagining that he who is charged with the obligation of a vow turns to the priest with the desire that he would release him from it, and thus dissolve (bibl. הפיר, Mishnic התּיר) the vow. But there is no evidence that the priests had the power of releasing from vows. Individual cases in which a husband can dissolve the vow of his wife, and a father the vow of his daughter, are enumerated in Numbers 30; besides, in the traditional law, we find the sentence: "A vow, which one who makes it repents of, can be dissolved by a learned man (חכם), or, where none is present, by three laymen," Bechoroth 36b; the matter cannot be settled by any middle person (שׁליח), but he who has taken the vow (הנודר) must appear personally, Jore deah c. 228, 16. Of the priest as such nothing is said here. Therefore the passage cannot at all be traditionally understood of an official dissolution of an oath. Where the Talm. applies it juristically, Shabbath 32b, etc., Rashi explains hammalach by gizbar shěl-haqdesh, i.e., treasurer of the revenues of the sanctuary; and in the Comm. to Koheleth he supposes that some one has publicly resolved on an act of charity (צדקה), i.e., has determined it with himself, and that now the representative of the congregation (שׁליח) comes to demand it. But that is altogether fanciful. If we proceed on the idea that liphne hammalach is of the same meaning as liphne hakkohen, Leviticus 27:8, Leviticus 27:11; Numbers 9:6; Numbers 27:2, etc., we have then to derive the figure from such passages relating to the law of sacrifice as Numbers 15:22-26, from which the words ki shegagah hi (Numbers 15:25) originate. We have to suppose that he who has made a vow, and has not kept it, comes to terms with God with an easier and less costly offering, since in the confession (ודּוּי) which he makes before the priest he explains that the vow was a shegagah, a declaration that inconsiderately escaped him. The author, in giving it to be understood that under these circumstances the offering of the sacrifice is just the direct contrary of a good work, calls to the conscience of the inconsiderate נודר: why should God be angry on account of thy voice with which thou dost excuse thy sins of omission, and destroy (vid., regarding חבּל under Isaiah 10:27) the work of thy hands (vid., under Psalm 90:17), for He destroys what thou hast done, and causes to fail what thou purposest? The question with lammah resembles those in Ezra 4:22; Ezra 7:23, and is of the same kind as at Ecclesiastes 7:16.; it leads us to consider what a mad self-destruction that would be (Jeremiah 44:7, cf. under Isaiah 1:5).
The reason for the foregoing admonition now following places the inconsiderate vow under the general rubric of inconsiderate words. We cannot succeed in interpreting Ecclesiastes 5:6  (in so far as we do not supply, after the lxx and Syr. with the Targ.: ne credas; or better, with Ginsburg, היא equals it is) without taking one of the vavs in the sense of "also." That the Heb. vav, like the Greek καί, the Lat. et, may have this comparative or intensifying sense rising above that which is purely copulative, is seen from e.g., Numbers 9:14, cf. also Joshua 14:11. In many cases, it is true, we are not under the necessity of translating vav by "also;" but since the "and" here does not merely externally connect, but expresses correlation of things homogeneous, an "also" or a similar particle involuntarily substitutes itself for the "and," e.g., Genesis 17:20 (Jerome): super Ismael quoque; Exodus 29:8 : filios quoque; Deuteronomy 1:32 : et nec sic quidem credidistis; Deuteronomy 9:8 : nam et in Horeb; cf. Joshua 15:19; 1 Samuel 25:43; 2 Samuel 19:25; 1 Kings 2:22; 1 Kings 11:26; Isaiah 49:6, "I have also given to thee." But there are also passages in which it cannot be otherwise translated than by "also." We do not reckon among these Psalm 31:12, where we do not translate "also my neighbours," and Amos 4:10, where the words are to be translated, "and that in your nostrils." On the contrary, Isaiah 32:7 is scarcely otherwise to be translated than "also when the poor maketh good his right," like 2 Samuel 1:23, "also in their death they are not divided." In 2 Chronicles 27:5, in like manner, the two vavs are scarcely correlative, but we have, with Keil, to translate, "also in the second and third year." And in Hosea 8:6, והוּא, at least according to the punctuation, signifies "also it," as Jerome translates: ex Israele et ipse est. According to the interpunction of the passage before us, וּד הר is the pred., and thus, with the Venet., is to be translated: "For in many dreams and vanities there are also many words." We could at all events render the vav, as also at Ecclesiastes 10:11; Exodus 16:6, as vav apod.; but וגו בּרב has not the character of a virtual antecedent, - the meaning of the expression remains as for the rest the same; but Hitzig's objection is of force against it (as also against Ewald's disposition of the words, like the of Symmachus, Jerome, and Luther: "for where there are many dreams, there are also vanities, and many words"), that it does not accord with the connection, which certainly in the first place requires a reason referable to inconsiderate talk, and that the second half is, in fact, erroneous, for between dreams and many words there exists no necessary inward mutual relation. Hitzig, as Knobel before him, seeks to help this, for he explains: "for in many dreams are also vanities, i.e., things from which nothing comes, and (the like) in many words." But not only is this assumed carrying forward of the ב doubtful, but the principal thing would be made a secondary matter, and would drag heavily. The relation in _Ecc 5:2 is different where vav is that of comparison, and that which is compared follows the comparison. Apparently the text (although the lxx had it before them, as it is before us) has undergone dislocation, and is thus to be arranged: כי ברב חלמת ודברים הרבה והבלים: for in many dreams and many words there are also vanities, i.e., illusions by which one deceives himself and others. Thus also Bullock renders, but without assigning a reason for it. That dreams are named first, arises from a reference back to Ecclesiastes 5:2, according to which they are the images of what a man is externally and mentally busied and engaged with. But the principal stress lies on ודברים הרבה, to which also the too rash, inconsiderate vows belong. The pred. והבלים, however, connects itself with "vanity of vanities," which is Koheleth's final judgment regarding all that is earthly. The כי following connects itself with the thought lying in 6a, that much talk, like being much given to dreams, ought to be avoided: it ought not to be; much rather (imo, Symm. ἀλλά) fear God, Him before whom one should say nothing, but that which contains in it the whole heart.
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