Ecclesiastes 7:19
Wisdom strengtheneth the wise more than ten mighty men which are in the city.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(19) Mighty men.—The word is translated “governor” Genesis 42:6, and so see Ecclesiastes 10:5; see also Ecclesiastes 8:8. The preacher returns to the topic of Ecclesiastes 7:12. Of the “For” in the next verse, only forced explanations have been given; the sentiment is Solomon’s (1Kings 8:46).

7:11-22 Wisdom is as good as an inheritance, yea better. It shelters from the storms and scorching heat of trouble. Wealth will not lengthen out the natural life; but true wisdom will give spiritual life, and strengthen men for services under their sufferings. Let us look upon the disposal of our condition as the work of God, and at last all will appear to have been for the best. In acts of righteousness, be not carried into heats or passions, no, not by a zeal for God. Be not conceited of thine own abilities; nor find fault with every thing, nor busy thyself in other men's matters. Many who will not be wrought upon by the fear of God, and the dread of hell, will avoid sins which ruin their health and estate, and expose to public justice. But those that truly fear God, have but one end to serve, therefore act steadily. If we say we have not sinned, we deceive ourselves. Every true believer is ready to say, God be merciful to me a sinner. Forget not at the same time, that personal righteousness, walking in newness of life, is the only real evidence of an interest by faith in the righteousness of the Redeemer. Wisdom teaches us not to be quick in resenting affronts. Be not desirous to know what people say; if they speak well of thee, it will feed thy pride, if ill, it will stir up thy passion. See that thou approve thyself to God and thine own conscience, and then heed not what men say of thee; it is easier to pass by twenty affronts than to avenge one. When any harm is done to us, examine whether we have not done as bad to others.Destroy thyself - The Septuagint and Vulgate render it: "be amazed." Compare "marvel not" Ecclesiastes 5:8. 19. Hebrew, "The wisdom," that is, the true wisdom, religion (2Ti 3:15).

than ten mighty—that is, able and valiant generals (Ec 7:12; 9:13-18; Pr 21:22; 24:5). These "watchmen wake in vain, except the Lord keep the city" (Ps 127:1).

Wisdom; true wisdom, which is always joined with the fear of God, and which teacheth a man to keep close to the rule of his duty, without turning either to the right hand or to the left.

Strengtheneth the wise; supporteth him in and secureth him against troubles and dangers.

Ten, i.e. many, uniting the forces together.

Wisdom strengtheneth the wise,.... Against such extremes as before mentioned; it is a guard about him, as well as a guide unto him; it is a defence unto him, as before observed, Ecclesiastes 7:12; and is better than strength of body, or weapons of war, Ecclesiastes 9:16; and a wise man does greater things by it than a strong man with them, and is safer with it than he can be by them. Some understand this of Christ, the Wisdom of God, without whom a good man can do nothing, but all things through him strengthening him; and who being a strong tower and place of refuge to him, he is safer in him than if he was in the strongest garrison, and under the protection of ever so large a number of valiant men: Christ, and grace from him, strengthen

more than ten mighty men which are in the city; that is, than many mighty men, or men of war, which guard a city; the city of Jerusalem, or any other. The Targum applies this to Joseph, and paraphrases it,

"the wisdom of Joseph the son of Jacob helped him to make him wiser than all his ten righteous brethren.''

Wisdom strengtheneth the wise more than ten mighty men which are in the city.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
19. Wisdom strengtheneth the wise] The fact that the Debater had not forgotten that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 1:7; Psalm 111:10; Job 28:21) serves as the connecting link between this and the preceding verse. The “ten mighty men” stand as a vague number, certus pro incerto (comp. Genesis 31:7; Numbers 14:22), and it is a fantastic line of interpretation to connect them with any definite political organization, Assyrian viceroys, Persian vice-satraps, Roman decurions, or the like. It is, however, an interesting coincidence, pointed out by Mr Tyler, that a city was defined by the Mishna (Megila i. 3) to be a town in which there were ten Batlanim, or men of leisure, to constitute a synagogue. A striking parallel is found in Sir 37:14, “A man’s mind is wont to tell him more than seven men that sit upon a tower.” What is meant is generally that the wisdom that fears God is better than mere force, that moral strength is in the long run mightier than material. Wise statesmen may do more than generals.

Verse 19. - Wisdom strengtheneth the wise. The moderation enjoined is the only true wisdom, which, indeed, is the most powerful incentive and support. "Wisdom proves itself stronger" (as the verb is put intransitively) "to the wise man." Septuagint, βοηθήσει," will help;" Vulgate, confortuvit, "hath strengthened." The spiritual and moral force of the wisdom grounded upon the fear of God is here signified, and is all the more insisted upon to counteract any erroneous impression conveyed by the caution against over-wisdom in ver. 16 (see note on ver. 17, at the end). More than ten mighty men which are in the city. The number ten indicates completeness, containing in itself the whole arithmetical system, and used representatively for an indefinite multitude. Thus Job (Job 19:3) complains that his friends have reproached him ten times, and Elkanah asks his murmuring wife, "Am I not better to thee than ten sons?" (1 Samuel 1:8). Delitzsch thinks that some definite political arrangement is referred to, e.g., the dynasties placed by Persian kings over conquered countries; and Tyler notes that in the Mishna a city is defined to be a place containing ten men of leisure; and we know that ten men were required for the establishment of a synagogue in any locality. The same idea was present in the Angle-Saxon arrangement of tything and hundred. The number, however, is probably used indefinitely here as seven in the parallel passage of Ecclesiasticus (37:14), "A man's mind is sometime wont to tell him more than seven watchmen that sit above in a high tower." The sentence may be compared with Proverbs 10:15; Proverbs 21:22; Proverbs 24:5. The word rendered "mighty men" (shallitim) is not necessarily a military designation; it is translated "ruler" in Ecclesiastes 10:5, and "governor" in Genesis 42:6. The Septuagint here has Ἐξουσιάζοντας τοὺς ὄντας ἐν τῇ πόλει; the Vulgate, principes civitatis. The persons intended are not primarily men of valor in war, like David's heroes, but rulers of sagacity, prudent statesmen, whose moral force is far greater and more efficacious than any merely physical excellence (comp. Ecclesiastes 9:16). Ecclesiastes 7:19"Wisdom affords strong protection to the wise man more than ten mighty men who are in the city." We have to distinguish, as is shown under Psalm 31:3, the verbs עזז, to be strong, and עוּז, to flee for refuge; תּעז is the fut. of the former, whence מעז, stronghold, safe retreat, protection, and with ל, since עזז means not only to be strong, but also to show oneself strong, as at Ecclesiastes 9:20, to feel and act as one strong; it has also the trans. meaning, to strengthen, as shown in Psalm 68:29, but here the intrans. suffices: wisdom proves itself strong for the wise man. The ten shallithim are not, with Ginsburg, to be multiplied indefinitely into "many mighty men." And it is not necessary, with Desvoeux, Hitz., Zckl., and others, to think of ten chiefs (commanders of forces), including the portions of the city garrison which they commanded. The author probably in this refers to some definite political arrangement, perhaps to the ten archons, like those Assyrian salaṭ, vice-regents, after whom as eponyms the year was named by the Greeks. שׁלּיט, in the Asiatic kingdom, was not properly a military title. And did a town then need protection only in the time of war, and not also at other times, against injury threatening its trade, against encroachments on its order, against the spread of infectious diseases, against the force of the elements? As the Deutero-Isaiah (Isaiah 60:17) says of Jerusalem: "I will make thy officers peace, and thine exactors righteousness," so Koheleth says here that wisdom affords a wise man as strong a protection as a powerful decemvirate a city; cf. Proverbs 24:5: "A wise man is ba'oz," i.e., mighty.
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