Ecclesiastes 5:10
He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity.
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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.

5:9-17 The goodness of Providence is more equally distributed than appears to a careless observer. The king needs the common things of life, and the poor share them; they relish their morsel better than he does his luxuries. There are bodily desires which silver itself will not satisfy, much less will worldly abundance satisfy spiritual desires. The more men have, the better house they must keep, the more servants they must employ, the more guests they must entertain, and the more they will have hanging on them. The sleep of the labourer is sweet, not only because he is tired, but because he has little care to break his sleep. The sleep of the diligent Christian, and his long sleep, are sweet; having spent himself and his time in the service of God, he can cheerfully repose in God as his Rest. But those who have every thing else, often fail to secure a good night's sleep; their abundance breaks their rest. Riches do hurt, and draw away the heart from God and duty. Men do hurt with their riches, not only gratifying their own lusts, but oppressing others, and dealing hardly with them. They will see that they have laboured for the wind, when, at death, they find the profit of their labour is all gone like the wind, they know not whither. How ill the covetous worldling bears the calamities of human life! He does not sorrow to repentance, but is angry at the providence of God, angry at all about him; which doubles his affliction.The king himself is served by the field - Rather, the king is subject to the field, i. e., is dependent on its cultivation. The higher ranks, if they oppress the lower, lose thereby their own means of subsistence. 10. Not only will God punish at last, but meanwhile the oppressive gainers of "silver" find no solid "satisfaction" in it.

shall not be satisfied—so the oppressor "eateth his own flesh" (see on [661]Ec 4:1 and [662]Ec 4:5).

with increase—is not satisfied with the gain that he makes.

The greatest treasures of silver do not satisfy the covetous possessor of it; partly because his mind is insatiable, and his desires are increased by and with gains; partly because silver of itself cannot satisfy his natural desires and necessities as the fruits of the field can do, and the miserable wretch grudgeth to part with his silver, though it be to purchase things needful and convenient for him.

That loveth abundance; or, that loveth it (to wit, silver) in abundance; that desires and lays up great treasures.

He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver,.... The tillage of the earth is necessary, a very laudable and useful employment, and men do well to busy themselves in it; without this, neither the common people nor the greatest personages can be supplied with the necessaries of life; but then an immoderate love of money is criminal, which is here meant by loving silver, one kind of money, which when loved beyond measure is the root of all evil; and besides, when a man has got ever so much of it, he is not satisfied, he still wants more, like the horse leech at the vein cries Give, give; or he cannot eat silver, so Jarchi; or be "fed with money", as Mr. Broughton renders it; and herein the fruits of the earth, for which the husbandman labours, have the preference to silver; for these he can eat, and be filled and satisfied with them, but he cannot eat his bags of gold and silver;

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.
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 5:10"He who loveth silver is not satisfied with silver; and he whose love cleaveth to abundance, hath nothing of it: also this is vain." The transition in this series of proverbs is not unmediated; for the injustice which, according to Ecclesiastes 5:7, prevails in the state as it now is becomes subservient to covetousness, in the very nature of which there lies insatiableness: semper avarus eget, hunc nulla pecunia replet. That the author speaks of the "sacra fames argenti" (not auri) arises from this, that not זהב, but כסף, is the specific word for coin.

(Note: A Jewish fancy supposes that כסף is chosen because it consists of letters rising in value (20, 60, 80); while, on the contrary, זהב consists of letters decreasing in value (7, 5, 2).)

Mendelssohn-Friedlnder also explains: "He who loveth silver is not satisfied with silver," i.e., it does not make him full; that might perhaps be linguistically possible (cf. e.g., Proverbs 12:11), although the author would in that case probably have written the words מן־הכּסף, after Ecclesiastes 6:3; but "to be not full of money" is, after Ecclesiastes 1:8, and especially Ecclesiastes 4:8, Habakkuk 2:5, cf. Proverbs 27:20 equals never to have enough of money, but always to desire more.

That which follows, Ecclesiastes 5:9, is, according to Hitz., a question: And who hath joy in abundance, which bringeth nothing in? But such questions, with the answer to be supplied, are not in Koheleth's style; and what would then be understood by capital without interest? Others, as Zφckler, supply ישׂבּע: and he that loveth abundance of possessions (is) not (full) of income; but that which is gained by these hard ellipses is only a tautology. With right, the Targ., Syr., Jerome, the Venet., and Luther take lo tevuah as the answer or conclusion; and who clings to abundance of possessions with his love? - he has no fruit thereof; or, with a weakening of the interrog. pronoun into the relative (as at Ecclesiastes 1:9; cf. under Psalm 34:13): he who ... clings has nothing of it. Hamon signifies a tumult, a noisy multitude, particularly of earthly goods, as at Psalm 37:16; 1 Chronicles 29:16; Isaiah 60:5. The connection of אהב with ב, occurring only here, follows the analogy of חפץ בּ and the like. The conclusion is synon. with levilti ho'il; e.g., Isaiah 44:10; Jeremiah 7:8. All the Codd. read לא; לו in this sense would be meaningless.

(Note: In Maccoth 10a, לו is read three times in succession; the Midrash Wajikra, c. 22, reads לא, and thus it is always found without Kerı̂ and without variation.)

The designation of advantage by tevuah, the farmer enjoys the fruit of his labour; but he who hangs his heart on the continual tumult, noise, pomp of more numerous and greater possessions is possible, to him all real profit - i.e., all pleasant, peaceful enjoyment - is lost. With the increase of the possessions there is an increase also of unrest, and the possessor has in reality nothing but the sight of them.

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