Yes, though he live a thousand years twice told, yet has he seen no good: do not all go to one place?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Though.—The conjunction here used is only found again in Esther 7:4.Ecclesiastes 6:3. His want of satisfaction in life, and the dishonor done to his corpse, are regarded as such great evils that they counterbalance his numerous children, and length of days, and render his lot viewed as a whole no better than the common lot of all. Live a thousand years twice told; wherein he seems to have a privilege above an untimely birth. Hath he seen no good; he hath enjoyed little or no comfort in it, and therefore long life is rather a curse and mischief than a blessing or advantage to him.
Do not all, whether born out of and before their time, or in due time, whether their lives be long or short,
go to one place; to the grave. And so after a little time all are alike as to this life, of which he here speaks; and as to the other life, his condition is infinitely worse than that of an untimely birth.
yet hath he seen no good, not enjoyed the good of his labour, what he has been labouring for and was possessed of; and therefore has lived so long as he has to very little purpose, and with very little comfort or credit; and especially he has had no experience of spiritual good;
do not all go to one place? that is, the grave; they do, even all men; it is the house appointed for all living, Job 30:23; and hither go both the abortive, and the covetous rich man; so that he has in this no pre-eminence to it. Jarchi interprets it of hell, the one place, whither all sinners go; but the former sense is best.Yea, though he live a thousand years twice told, yet hath he seen no good: do not all go to one place?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)6. Yea, though he live a thousand years twice told] The weariness of life carries the thinker yet further. Carry it to the furthest point conceivable, and still the result is the same. The longer it is, the fuller of misery and woe. The thought finds, as before, a parallel in the speech of Solon to Crœsus (Herod. i. 32). The man goes to the same place,—to the dark, dreary world of Sheol, perhaps even to a more entire annihilation than was implied in the Hebrew thought of that unseen world,—as the abortive birth, with nothing but an accumulated experience of wretchedness. Depression could go no further. See the poem of Omar Khayyam in the Appendix.Verse 6. - Yea, though he live a thousand years twice told, yet hath he seen no good. What has been said would still be true even if the man lived two thousand years. The second clause is not the apodosis (as the Authorized Version makes it), but the continuation of the protasis: if he lived the longest life, "and saw not good;" the conclusion is given in the form of a question. The "good" is the enjoyment of life spoken of in ver. 3 (see on Ecclesiastes 2:1). The specified time seems to refer to the age of the patriarchs, none of whom, from Adam to Noah, reached half the limit assigned. Do not all go to one place? viz. to Sheol, the grave (Ecclesiastes 3:20). If a long life were spent in calm enjoyment, it might be preferable to a short one; but when it is passed amid care and annoyance and discontent, it is no better than that which begins and ends in nothingness. The grave receives both, and there is nothing to choose between them, at least in this point of view. Of life as in itself a blessing, a discipline, a school, Koheleth says nothing here; he puts himself in the place of the discontented rich man, and appraises life with his eyes. On the common destiny that awaits peer and peasant, rich and poor, happy and sorrow-laden, we can all remember utterances old and new. Thus Horace, 'Carm.,' 2:3. 20 -
"Divesne prisco natus ab Inacho,
Nil interest, an pauper et infima
De gente sub dive moreris,
Victima nil miserantis Orci.
"Omnes eodem cogimur." Ovid, 'Met.,' 10:33 -
"Omnia debentur vobis, paullumque morati
Serius aut citius sedem properamus ad unam.
Tendimus huc omnes, haec est domus ultima."
"Fate is the lord of all things; soon or late
To one abode we speed, thither we all
Pursue our way, this is our final home." Ecclesiastes 5:19 is also, in general, hit upon. The lxx translates: "because God occupies him with the joy of his heart;" but for that we ought to have had the word מענהוּ; Jerome helps it, for he reads בשמהה instead of בשמחת: eo quod Deus occupet deliciis cor ejus. But also, in this form, this explanation of מענה is untenable; for ב ענה, the causat. of which would be מענה, signifies, in the style of Koheleth, not in general to busy oneself with something, but to weary oneself with something; hence ענה בשׂ cannot mean: to be occupied with joy, and thereby to be drawn away from some other thing. And since the explanation: "he makes him sing," needs to argument to dispose of it, מענה thus remains only as the Hiph. of אנה, to meet, to respond to, grant a request. Accordingly, Hitz., like Aben Ezra and Kimchi, comparing Hosea 2:23.: God makes to answer, i.e., so works that all things which have in or of themselves that which can make him glad, must respond to his wish. But the omission of the obj. - of which Hitz. remarks, that because indefinite it is left indefinite - is insufferably hard, and the explanation thus ambiguous. Most interpreters translate: for God answers (Gesen. He. Wrt. B., incorrectly: answered) him with joy of his heart, i.e., grants this to him in the way of answer. Ewald compares Psalm 65:6; but that affords no voucher for the expression: to answer one with something equals to grant it to him; for ענה is there connected with a double accus., and בּצדק is the adv. statement of the way and manner. But above all, against this interpretation is the fact of the want of the personal obj. The author behoved to have written מענהוּ or אתו מענה. We take the Hiph. as in the sense of the Kal, but give it its nearest signification: to answer, and explain, as in a similar manner Seb. Schmid, Rambam, and others have already done: God answers to the joy of his heart, i.e., He assents to it, or (using an expression which is an exact equivalent), He corresponds to it. This makes the joy a heart-joy, i.e., a joy which a man feels not merely externally, but in the deepest recess of his heart, for the joy penetrates his heart and satisfies it (Sol 3:11; Isaiah 30:29; Jeremiah 15:16). A similar expression, elsewhere not found, we had at Ecclesiastes 5:9 in אהב בּ. Why should not ענה ב (הענה) be possible with ענהוּ, just as ἀμείβεσθαι πρός τι is with ἀμείβεσθαί τινα? For the rest, בש לב is not needed as obj.; we can take it also as an expression of the state or condition: God gives answer in the heart-joy of such an one. In ענה, to answer, to hear the answer, is thought of as granting a request; here, as giving assent to. Job 35:9 affords a twofold suitable example, that the Hiph. can have an enlarged Kal signification.
After the author has taken the opportunity of once more expressing his ultimatum, he continues to register the sad evils that cling to wealth.
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